Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blogging Around the States - Arkansas

Today we are visiting Melissa from Arkansas.  She is known in the book blogging world as Gerbera Mom and her blog is Gerbera Daisy Diaries.   I love this quote (right) by Marjorie Pay Hinckley that she has posted on her sidebar.  Melissa is a good example of laughing her way through life.  Her positive attitude infuses her posts and blog.  Her favorite quote is also on her sidebar:  "Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and smile on your face, but with great purpose in your heart."  - Gordon B. Hinckey.   Thanks, Melissa, for sharing those inspirational thoughts.

One think I really like about Melissa is that she's 'real'.  In a post earlier this month she shares the feelings every mother in the world experiences in great quantities:  "I’m not sure I do anything right as a mother: I yell too much, I criticize too much, I don’t cook well enough, I don’t craft at all – OK let’s stop there because I’m depressing myself."  Doesn't that sound familiar?!  But she goes on to acknowledge that she has done one thing right.  Recently Melissa started a mother/daughter book club.  I know a couple of you belong to mother/daughter clubs and I think it sounds so fun.  I'm envious.  You should stop in for a visit on Melissa's blog and read about the joy she experienced watching and listening to her daughter and the other young ladies in the group.

Melissa also belongs to an adult book club.  For their November meeting they discussed The Omnivore's Dilemma and enjoyed a Thanksgiving Pot Luck.  YaUMMMM!  Melissa shares a recipe she discovered through Amy's Fall Recipe Exchange for Pumpkin Dump Cake.  It sounds so delicious.

A now Melissa answers a few of my questions about her and her state.

1. Start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

Melissa Mc (aka Daisy Mom): I am a 42 yr old mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary. I currently work part-time at our local library branch – I’m in charge of JUV fiction and Mysteries. I’m also President-elect of my kids elementary school PTA. I am without talent in most normal Mormon activities – I don’t paint, sew, craft, scrapbook or quilt. I can be found in front of the TV during every March Madness college basketball tournament and on every Saturday during college football season. My youngest was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at 5 weeks. I know more about Children’s Hospitals than I ever wanted too. And when I grow up, I want to be the first female commissioner of the NFL.

2. What do you love about your state?

I’m not a native of Arkansas. We moved here 8 years ago from NYC when my husband changed jobs. There are LOTS of things to love about Arkansas: First, it is absolutely gorgeous. Most of the state is located on the edge of the Ozark Mountains – not the Rockies, but spectacular terrain, nonetheless. It is a great recreational state – hunting, camping, rafting, hunting for diamonds (– of course, my husband and I are city-folk, so we don’t partake in those activities like we should. It also is incredibly affordable!! And during this national recession, that has been a huge blessing!

3. Is there anything you don't like about where you live?

The HEAT! It is oppressive here in the summer. The heat and humidity can knock you flat. But other than that, we’ve loved our years in Arkansas.

4. If job, money, family did not enter the equation, would you prefer to live in another state? Which one? And why?

I’ve lived a lot of places – and if I had my choice I would move back to Washington DC in a heartbeat (and not suburb – like Arlington VA -- the heart of Washington DC, preferably the Capitol Hill neighborhood). It’s where my husband and I met – and I had my first job. It’s a magical place for me. And if money wasn’t an object – I’d transport myself there immediately.

5. If I visited your state what cities, sights, and/or activities would you recommend I check out, see and/or do?

In Little Rock they have a fabulous “River Market District” ( that positions itself on the banks of the Arkansas River. Lots of fun shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Just a few blocks from the River Market District is the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center ( – a must see for any visitor. Little Rock is also home to the only professional theatre in our state – The Arkansas Repertory Theatre ( They self-produce and design 6-7 shows a season. Little Rock is also home to the Arkansas Symphony and the Arkansas Arts Center.

Little Rock Central High School famous for the desegregation movement is shown below.

NW Arkansas – you must got to Fayetteville and visit the campus of the U of Arkansas – and go “call the Hogs” at an Arkansas Razorback game. In Bentonville – you would visit the Walton/WalMart Museum and see where Sam Walton started it all!

For an Ozark get-a-way – you would visit Mount Magazine state park ( and rent one of their wonderful cabins! We did that as a family, and it was one of the best vacations we’ve had.

6. Who are some authors that currently live in your state? Any famous authors from the past?

National Book Award winner, Ellen Gilchrist, lives in NW Arkansas.

Charlaine Harris – author of the Sookie Stackhouse series lives in Magnolia AR.

Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead, lives in Little Rock.

John Grisham, is originally from AR (born in Johesboro) – but lives inMississippi.

Charles Portis, author of True Grit, Norwood and The Dog of the South, is originally from El Dorado AR, and lives in Little Rock.

Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heat at Wounded Knee, after retiring from the U of Illinois, retired and died in Little Rock.

7. Do you have a favorite book set in your state?

Now you are going to test my knowledge of Arkansas literature! Two that I highly recommend: The Painted House by John Grisham. It’s a fictional account of his childhood in NE Arkansas on a cotton farm. It’s a wonderful book. So different from his legal thrillers. And, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou – her autobiography of her childhood in southern Arkansas. It is a must read.

I want to thank Melissa for taking the time to share information about herself and about Arkansas with us.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading her responses and getting to know her better.


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Great review! I really enjoy Melissa's blog.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Thank you again for the feature!

Jenners said...

This was fun and informative. And I had forgetten all about "The Painted House." That was one Grisham book that really was off of his beaten path but quite good. I imagine that moving from NYC to Arkansas might be a bit of a culture shock but sounds like the adjustment went well.

Framed said...

I think I would like The Painted House. And I've definitely added Arkansas as one of the places I would like to visit.

bookjourney said...

That was great! I love these features! Beautiful pics!

Anonymous said...

I could have said the same thing about Washington DC. We've lived a few places and of those this is my favorite. I had my first job and met my husband there also.
Thanks for the tour of Arkansas. I feel like I've been there for the first time.