Boutique shopping in Rolla, MO


Back in December, several weeks before Christmas, I realized it was SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!! Panic quickly set in, the morning I heard on the radio just how little time I had to get my shopping done, cookies made, gifts wrapped and holiday party hosted.

This also happened to be the week that I was having a Mini-Mommy-Meltdown. You know those weeks. The times you don’t want to crawl out of bed and be all adult-y. The times that you want to just come home, slip into those beautiful, black, uber comfy yoga pants and slide straight in between your bed sheets to indulge in that slightly trashy romance novel that you are almost ashamed to admit you love.  Those times that I am certain every single parent has but doesn’t want to admit to having for the fear of looking weak or like you don’t really love your kids….

It just so happens, an opportunity came upon me at the height of my Mini-Mommy-Meltdown. (And by meltdown, we all know that nobody knows you’re actually having a meltdown. You keep that all inside right??) So, like the good little nurse I am (wink, wink), I volunteered to make my way from Columbia to Rolla to have a quick visit with a client.


With my travel mug full of fresh, black coffee and the most gorgeous drive through rolling hills into the sunrise, I made my way from Jefferson City into the town of Rolla. Just as I entered town, my attention was caught by a unique sign, “Front Porch Boutique”. Colorful with a rustic edge, my interest was piqued and I planned to stop in for a little holiday shopping once my work was done.


I got finished early and had to wait for the shop to open (they opened at 9:00am on this day) but relished in the silence of my car with my fresh coffee refill, surfing through the ridiculousness that is Facebook.

All it took was one step over the threshold to realize I was in shopping heaven. I have never been a fan of box stores that have variations of the same exact item as every other box store. A retail store that has taken the time to carefully pick out their inventory as if selecting it specifically for each individual customer will win my vote every time.


As I meandered through each nook and cranny of this store, one section at a time, I fell in love. Pure shopping love. Front Porch Boutique has gifts for nearly anybody and everybody. They have clothes, boots, knick knacks, food, headbands, dinnerware, things for kids, things for the men in your life, things for the women,you name it.


I got my sisters each some gifts and I ended up maybe, just maybe, buying even more for myself. For me, I got a peach dress (made in the USA! which I find awesome), a blue jean dress, and a very soft, cozy oversize cardigan for those cold winter days where you just need to be wrapped in comfort.

I easily spent an hour roaming and digging and searching for those perfect, unique trinkets that you decide you can’t live without. I found myself going back through rooms a second time and kept finding something I hadn’t seen the first time around. I believe I even had to put some things back on the shelves in an attempt to restrain the shopping frenzy that had overcome my senses.

The next time you’re in the throws of your Mini-Mommy-Meltdown, or Daddy-Downer-Days, make your way to the door of Front Porch Boutique in Rolla and gets your spirits up with a little retail therapy. Trust me, it’ll do you wonders!

Wenwood Farm Winery in Bland, MO; An unexpected Mommy/Daddy date


At our first doctor’s appointment when Olivia was born, the pediatrician told us that once a month we needed to set time aside, employ a grandparent, and have a date so that we could spend some time together, just the two of us. He stressed the importance of having that (even if just once a month), for a marriage. Robby and I took his advice for the first couple months and then we’ve just let that idea completely fall off the love train.


Don’t get me wrong. We do get some time away from Olivia. It’s always bittersweet moments. It’s nice to be able to just sit and enjoy a cocktail instead of wrangling a toddler. Yet, I get pangs of sadness when I remember her cute, fluffy cheeks and realize how badly I would like to kiss them in that moment.

Over the past holiday weekend, I found myself once again sitting across from the man I married. And being able to remember why I married him in the first place.


Our usual Memorial holiday plans of heading out to the river, were completely ruined by this testy Missouri weather we’ve been having. Since we already had plans to leave O with the grandparents, we dropped her off and decided that if we couldn’t have the river, we’d have the next best thing.


Wenwood wine to be exact.


Several years ago, we stumbled upon the best little Missouri winery out in the middle of nowhere (well, it’s out in the middle of Bland to be exact but it certainly feels like nowhere). It quickly became our favorite Missouri wine and we hadn’t gotten a chance to return until this weekend).


On any given weekend through the summer, there are live bands set up under the pavilion while wine guzzlers are sprawled across the fields. Robby was a little disappointed to find no live band but it ended up being a little afternoon romantic getaway, because of the peace and quiet.



We sat across from each other.

“Hey, who are you?”

“Oh yeah, you’re that person I married several years back.”

“Oh no kidding? I think you’re right. What’s your name again?”

“So, what’s been going on? Oh that’s right. Kids. We’ve got a kid now. And that’s pretty much all that’s been going on.”

“Yeah, what happened to us? We used to do this kind of thing all the time.”

“I know. We used to be fun. We used to have a life and get out and see people.”

“Now all we see are the four inside walls of our tiny house.”



And our conversation went something like that until somewhere about mid-bottle. Then we started loosening up and relishing our time together.

Not only are the selection of wines at Wenwood Winery fantastic, the view and setting are just to die for. Well, maybe not to die because that’d be unfortunate for you and for me. The view and the setting are just to LIVE for!!!!!


Nestled in the valley off a gravel road (my favorite, you know), sits a couple of old-time barns which house the winery and the area where the owner manufactures the wine. Traffic is few and far between. Any vehicle we saw was headed right to where we were. Parties of people talking intermingled with the music of chirping birds and life feels like it has slowed down to a pace we can all tolerate.



The neighbors have to be regulars. Numerous gators pulled up to the winery with a trailer attached, piles of people in tow. I imagine this is a ritual. Not a bad one if I say so myself.



On our first trip there, we showed up close to closing time on a late Sunday afternoon. The owner gave us a detailed overview on all the selections of wine, along with his background in wine-making. We were very impressed at the extensive learning process he had gone through to provide high-quality, perfect-on-your-palette wine. We were given wine tastings and discovered that each one we came to continued to wow us. My old favorite is Creek Bed Red. I’ve developed a drier palette than I used to have and this time chose the Vignoles. Robby stuck with his favorite, Berry Blush (this used to be called Fragaria).

IMG_1486_148 IMG_1482_145

Coolers inside are filled to the brim of different cheeses to test on their many different cracker selections that line the shelves. Our selection? Gouda cheese. Man, the gouda was good-a! So creamy and flavorful, we ate the whole circle of cheese! We let nothing stand in our way.


Don’t worry, the mascots got to have a little taste test too.



  • Wine Selection: Delicious and a wide variety. 
  • Snack Selection: All the things one needs as a perfect pairing with wine (except grapes. Which maybe you should think about Wenwood:)
  • Travel-ability: Mediocre. It’s about a 45 minute – 1 hour drive south of Jefferson City in Bland but mind you, that’s all part of the appeal.
  • Relaxability: Astounding!
  • Pan’s Want-To-Return-Ness: 100%

Visit the Wenwood Farm Winery website here.




Dillard’s Mill and Upcoming Dillard Days



I have now been blogging about [mostly] Missouri travel for over one year. When I came up with the idea for this blog, I had one story in particular that rang through the forefront of my mind. Now here we are, an entire year later, and I’ve still not told the story about Dillard Mill.


I’ve told you before than Robby and I are starstruck by old, historical buildings. Old homes, old, half way falling down buildings, etc.

Several years ago, we were gravel-roadin’ on a cold, winter Sunday afternoon. We had been driving for a couple hours when we stumbled upon a sign that said “Dillard’s Mill. Turn Right.”

Neither of us had heard anything about Dillard’s Mill but we were elated to see the building so well preserved. It also has one of the most gorgeous creeks (complete with a cascading waterfall) running right alongside it.




We spent an hour or so meandering the property and indulging in the gorgeous views. The mill was locked but a sign on the door told us that it occasionally is open to the public.


Several months after we found the old grist mill, we returned for a kayaking trip. We put in down from the mill and paddled up towards it. This was the worst part of the trip as the water level was too low through a lot of this part of the creek, therefore leaving us to drag those heavy things about half way up it.

But when we finally got to the large pool of water just beside the mill, we were totally rewarded. This was the clearest water we had kayaked in for a long time.

I’m a horrible judge at distances but I’d say the bottom was about 15-20 feet down and you could see straight to the bottom, just as if you were looking through the window at it.

Robby spent his time fishing and I just propped my feet up to take in some sunshine. It was so relaxing.

So, the point of this story is this. On Saturday, May 11th (that’s this Saturday folks), the state department that runs the property is having a festival aptly named Dillard Days.

I myself will be stuck at my “day” job on Saturday, so I need one of you to go enjoy the festival for me!

Please find more information at the link: Dillard Days Picnic

Tell me all about your trip there!

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

Bed and Breakfast: Second Creek in Owensville, MO

I hate winter. I always have. Probably always will. However, the older I get, the more tolerant of Old Man Winter I have become. I don’t mind the snow and ice as long as I can just snuggle down in my house and enjoy the view from inside. Even though it’s rare that this happens.

But, I do enjoy that cozy feeling. You know the one. Sitting fireside just listening to the crackle and pop of the embers. Sipping on hot chocolate underneath the blanket. Fluffy socks in place. Snuggling with your honey. And really, winter is the only time we can get that cozy feeling. Have you ever had that comfy, cozy feeling while you’re sweating your butt off in the middle of summer?? I didn’t think so.

(Don’t take me wrong-I’m not trying to dis summer. Summer is by far my favorite season. It’s like I always say-The Hotter The Better!)

If you’re looking for the PERFECT place to grab “the feeling” this winter, you need to book an evening or two at Second Creek Bed and Breakfast in Owensville, MO.

Many moons ago, Robby surprised me for Christmas by taking me here. I had no idea where we were going, he just told me to pack an overnight bag and he drove me to the middle of nowhere. Which is part of the charm here. The 2 story, gorgeous log lodge is set atop a hill on a several hundred acre farm giving you more peace than the last Miss America.

Upon arrival, we walked into the check-in office to check-in. Duh-obviously. The process was short and sweet. The lady of the lodge pulled out a tray of homemade soap and let us choose which soap we wanted for our stay. A small chunk was chopped and wrapped for us to take to our room. For some reason, I just thought this was the coolest thing. Homemade soap! I’m sure most of ya’ll probably won’t be as intrigued as I was but maybe there’s another sappy soap soul out there.

We were escorted up the stairs to our room. Impressed. We were both totally impressed.

Pay no attention to the clothes and mess we made here
Real, log fireplace!


This place was no share-the-bathroom-with-the-folks-down-the-hall place either. In the corner of each room was an enormous jetted tub. Big enough to fit all the guests in the lodge. Well, that may be stretching it a little…..

Looking back now, I wished we had spent more time in that tub. I miss that big tub. Especially while the fire was roaring, which you can see faced the tub. How perfect is that!

The room was sizeable yet cozy. Here we are again. Back to “cozy”. There was no tv, which we both thought was awesome. Who needs tv in a bed and breakfast anyway? We played cards and checkers from the cabinet in our room. We lit the fire. Well, we did not light the fire. Robby and Robby alone lit the fire. I should give credit where credit is due, I suppose.

The bathroom is simply separated by a folding partition (as you can see in the last pic). Which doesn’t allow for much privacy but worked out just fine.

Getting ready for dinner

The evening meal was NOT included in the price of our stay. Breakfast was but dinner was an additional fee. Since it was our first time here, Robby wasn’t sure where we could get dinner when staying just east of nowhere so he arranged for us to have dinner in. The other customers had all arranged the same. There are only 4 rooms here, so it was us and 3 other couples for dinner that night. The meal was served fireside (of course!) in the gorgeous main area of the lodge.

The eating area was just beside the fire on the main level

The lodge was appropriately adorned with Christmas decor throughout. Tis the season!

I’m not sure if the owner has training in the culinaries but she knew something about cookin’. Both dinner and breakfast the next morning were amazing! Alcohol was an added fee with dinner. We did sneak in our own wine supply for the room.

There was a pool table and books on the main level. There were walking trails and a lake for fishing available to all guests. The front porch had chairs for sittin’. Had it not been so darn cold we probably would have enjoyed the views and some front porch sittin’.

View from the front porch. You can’t get much more serenity, right?

There were 2 other couples that told us they made a trip out of the lodge every year at Christmastime. It’s definitely worth the drive. You can find them online. Just google Second Creek Bed and Breakfast. But you better go get your “feeling” fast. Spring will be here before we know it. (I know, yeah right. I’m just hoping for spring to be right around the corner. It always seems like winter drags out into 8 years or something.)

As a bonus, Robby proposed to me that night. So this is a place we will never forget!


White Mule Winery

I realize I’ve already enlightened you to White Mule Winery. But…. I got to soak up a different side to the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere family owned and operated winery. Located close to the heart of Missouri wine country in Owensville, this place is worth your travel. Especially on Friday nights.

White and Red: both delicious.

About a month ago, Robby and his band Horsin’ Around played for the first time here. I mean first time playing at White Mule. Not first time playing. You know what I mean. We brought a small group of people and then got surprised when Robby’s brother and sister-in-law showed up with a small group of people too.

What’s for dinner? Beef! Duh! With homegrown cattle out back it just makes sense. Right?

The owners serve their homegrown (I think you can call it that) beef and all i could say was WOW!!! That’s right- multiple exclamation marks. That’s how WOW it was! This steak that I had was tender, juicy, and had the most amazing flavors doing the tango on my taste buds.

Robby and the band didn’t get there in time to eat but I had to give them each a taste. To not let someone experience this steak would have been a take-me-straight-to-jail penalty I’m quite certain. Now they offered lasagna as well but I’m telling you, that would have been a take-me-straight-to-hell sentencing. Wrong, folks. Just wrong.

I have dreamed about this steak since. The flavors, the smell, the juicy bits it allowed me to relish. We already have planned to return another Friday night when Robby doesn’t have to play so he can experience the food too. We were told that they don’t have the big dinners on Saturday so if you’re going to go, I really recommend hitting it up on a Friday.

There is a bed and breakfast located in the old farmhouse just next to the winery for those who have libated to the limit. (I love that word. Libate (to drink). A doc I used to work with taught me that one.) Not only is the food more than awesome, the atmosphere is a pleasant view too. A rustic barn sets the scene. Large indoor/outdoor fireplace, which was so cozy for the chilly night air. Last year they built a sizable pavilion in the back for summer use. That should be enjoyable when our spring weather rolls around (which would be so appreciated to be sooner than later).

To get more info including the address, visit I hope you have as good of a time as we did. Let me know what you think when you go! The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

Festival Friday 5-11-12

Terrible blogger? Lack of dedication? Lazy? I promise I’m not trying to be a single one of these things. I know I’ve disappointed all one and a half of my readers by not presenting many posts lately. I do apologize. Fact of the matter is, I’ve spent my last several days off soaking up Mommyhood. Olivia and I have spent some much needed together-time on the floor learning how to crawl (well almost, she’s soooo close!). Anyways, I really don’t have a lot for you to do this weekend but that’s okay. We should be spending time celebrating Mom’s everywhere anyway! For the ones that still have time otherwise, below is a list of some things around Missouri to entertain you. Hope you enjoy!


Last week I introduced you to the C-Street Market. Don’t forget that it’s every Saturday at the Footbridge Pavilion on Commercial Street. Lots of vendors. Free event!

Stomp the Blues out of Homelessness Blues Festival will be going on at 1315 E Trafficway ($15-$18 per ticket) on Saturday between 2 & 11pm. Not only will you be helping raise money to benefit local homelessness needs, you also get to do some relaxing while listening to some easy listening tunes. Enjoy!

Head to the Remington’s Event Center on Republic tomorrow from 8-5 for the Springfield Indian Artifact Show. Close to 200 tables will be on display showcasing ancient pottery and arrowheads, along with other indian relics. There will be display-only tables and people will also be on hand to purchase your indian artifacts!


Downtown Rolla is playing host of “Downtown Days” tomorrow from 10am-4pm. Head downtown for wine tastings, art exhibits, and special sales from local businesses and discover all Rolla has to offer!


Calling all bluegrass fans! For more than an entire month, Silver Dollar City invites you for their Bluegrass & BBQ Festival. The fest runs from May 10 until June 12 with tons of different bluegass artists. Visit the website for more detailed info and dates.


Get to the Farmington Industrial Parks with the kiddos so they can participate in the Wiggle & Giggle fishing competition. Children must be accompanied by an adult with a valid fishing license and supply all their own equipment. Be there early as the event goes from 8am-11am. 756.2215 for more info.

As always, contact me with your upcoming event so we can feature it on Festival Friday! Happy Mother’s Day weekend! Pan

White Mule Winery

Imagine this. Farmland, cattle, green grass, open fields, no Walmart or Target. That’s where we ventured out to on Saturday. It was purely blissful. White Mule Winery sits about 20 minutes south of Hermann just off Highway 50 in Owensville (well, the address is Owensville but I don’t know that this place could really be pinpointed to a town). Pardon the low quality of the intro pic, we had such a good time, it was dark by the time we headed back home. White Mule was so named because the area truckers called this spot white mule curve, since the previous owner raised white mules.

Rustic makes up the atmosphere that abounds at White Mule. Barnwood and old tin decorate the walls and cattle line the fields just past the upcoming vineyards. Friday nights, I’m told, are the hot nights to visit. A big dinner (sometimes consisting of farm-fresh beef straight from the fields out back!! Super impressive)  is served and the air is filled with live music.

White Mule Winery features 7 wines. The Norton and the Port (Mule Shine) are my least favorite. I may like wine but I have yet to acquire a taste for “the hard stuff”. My two favorite libations were the Double Tree Red (semi-sweet red) and the Vignoles (semi-sweet white). Seems like no matter where you go, you just can’t go wrong with a glass of Vignoles.

Can’t hardly imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than sitting with friends enjoying a new place with a fresh glass of wine.

Dog lover that I am, I sure enjoyed the company of this sweet Austrailian Shepherd. He greeted us out front upon our arrival and wandered through the tables to find his sweet spot right at my feet.

The day felt like spending an afternoon at home with friends. Neighbors and their kiddos were in and out.Moms and Dads visiting with each other, kids running
through the fields and taking turns getting piggyback rides from Gus, our bartender. By the time we were set to head home, I was wishing we had come sooner and brought along compadres to join in the experience.

White Mule Winery can be found on the net at Their official address is 2087 Highwy 50 Owensville, MO 65066 (although don’t even bother using your maps app on your iPhone ’cause it just took us to the intersection of Highway 50 and 19.) The unofficial address: Nowhere, and it feels so good.
Plan your trip and let me know your thoughts! Until next time, Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru