I had the best day. It started with breakfast with my friend Angela at Neal's Cafe in Springdale. Angela is sort of an expert at discovering "best kept secret" type places and this one does not disappoint. It is a greasy spoon famous for its fried chicken, but has EXCELLENT breakfast. Mom and Dad, we're going there next time you're in town. The inside is painted pink AND decorated with multiple moose heads. You can't find that just anywhere!
After lunch, Angela and I headed to the mall. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy people-watching –and the mall today was a gold mine. Aside from people thinking we were the mall information desk and asking us directions to things like the movie theater and "the teeth whitening place", the real fun was watching all of the guys walking around the mall the day before Valentine's Day with little pink Victoria's Secret bags in their hands, desperately looking for the Hallmark store. And we spent most of the day in the center of the mall – on the corner with all of the jewelry stores. Crazy boys waiting til the last minute!
But the real reason we were there was that we both took a volunteer day to help CASA with Project Playhouse. CASA is one of the organizations supported by Saatchi & Saatchi X's non-profit, Thompson Murray Children's Foundation (TMCF). CASA is an organization that trains volunteers to act as advocates for abused or neglected children in court. And Project Playhouse is a big fundraiser for them every year.
Designers and builders get together and create playhouses with donated materials from area sponsors. These playhouses are GORGEOUS! The pictures don't do them justice. If you are in NWA – and especially if you have kiddos – please go by the NWA Mall and see the displays. They'll be open for kids to go in and explore from 2-4 the next two Saturdays. The live auction to end all of the silent bidding happens next Saturday. And two of the houses are being raffled – so yours truly bought some tickets and Grandpa is only off the hook if we win one! Otherwise Grandpa, take a good look at the photos — someday you and Santa Claus will have to join forces and build Reason #64 that Colt will LOVE going to Grandma and Grandpa's house!
So far, the highest bid ($5000) is on "Pork Chop Manor". This one is built to look like a sky-box at the football stadium. It has a built-in stereo system for blasting the fight song and a child-sized tailgate area on the "field".
Perhaps the most original design was "Bedrock Bungalow", complete with a "fire" inside and a foot-powered car.
One of the houses being raffled is "Camo Camp" – combination log cabin and deer stand. Hunter camo curtains, gun and bow hanging on the wall, and a trap door complete with rope ladder. If we win this – it's totally going in our backyard.
But my FAVORITE is "The Mighty Oak". It's built to look like a tree, with a swing in one of the "branches" and the inside decked out like a log cabin with a miniature bear skin rug, stone fireplace, and hunting trophy on the wall. You can't really tell from the photos, but there's a ladder up to a loft that sleeps a few kids in sleeping bags, and there's a skylight!
You would not BELIEVE the detail in these houses. They're beautiful. Angela and I started dreaming of other "houses" we think they should build — a castle with a drawbridge, an igloo!, a gingerbread house, a tee-pee, or even a cowboy's saloon. We got a little carried away, but had so much fun hanging out with the playhouses all day. Our job was to help people place bids and buy raffle tickets. One lady sat down and told us about her dog and how she just hasn't been able to pick out the perfect doghouse for him yet – and that she'd like to buy some raffle tickets, so she can win him a "real" house. Wow. But the best part was the looks on the kids' faces as they oohed and aahed and picked out their favorites. Priceless. I totally want a playhouse.
There are nine houses total and you can see artists' sketches of all of them on CASA's website. But, seriously, go see them. Take your kids. They'll be up in the mall until Saturday, the 21st. SO fun.
To top off my day, I came home to discover my sweet Valentines had brought me flowers. I love my boys!
And just for you – a bonus V-day pic of Colt (from earlier in the week).