Once a Paris Resident, Now a Full Time Blogger of “HodgePodge Hippie”

March 04, 2019
HodgePodge Hippie Logo by Thena Franssen HodgePodge Hippie Logo by Thena Franssen

By Robin Gregg

Many of you know, Thena (Reading) Franssen originally from Paris, Missouri. But did you know she is now a full time blogger of her own blog, “Hodgepodge Hippie”?

Thena graduated from Paris High School in 2002. She has a bachelors degree is Hospitality Management and her MBA in Human Resources. Thena doesn’t have a journalism background, just a love for writing.

“I choose blogging as a way to write about things I was passionate about and decided to turn it into my full time career about a year ago. The name of my blog is because of my husband. He actually thought of it, and it’s perfect, because, I’m a “hodgepodge” of a ton of different things,” said Thena.

Thena’s blog regarding her hometown, caught my attention. She is an extremely talented woman and I am proud to share her blog in the Monroe County Appeal. It’s outstandingly detailed information about Paris is from the heart and love for her hometown. Hope you enjoy as well........

Paris, Mo – Living In A Small Town With A Big Heart

By Thena (Reading) Franssen

I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Living in a small town is full of perks that are often overlooked by others. Truth be told, some of my best memories growing up were because of everything that Paris, MO has to offer!

Let’s be clear, I’m writing this article about Paris, MO for two reasons. First, because I grew up there and I think of it fondly each and every day, and secondly, I believe that Paris, MO is a great community that deserves a bit of love and attention.

My family and I moved to Paris when I was ten – and to be honest, it wasn’t something that I wanted to do. Not because I didn’t like what I’d seen of the town, but because it meant change…and that to me, was bad. From the moment that we arrived in Paris, I felt like we were home. As a matter of fact, one of my friends (who is still near and dear to me today) actually invited me over to hang at her house playing barbies in her attic for hours on end the first day that we met. Talk about an awesome welcoming for a 10-year-old girl that was totally skeptical of moving.

But beyond the people of the town, there are actually some really cool aspects of Paris, MO that I feel don’t get enough attention. I honestly believe that small towns are the heart of many states and it takes people like us to give them tourism to keep them thriving and alive.

Paris, MO is an example of that. And because living in a small town has shown me this, I think it’s important to showcase all the reasons why taking a day trip to Paris needs to be on your radar.

People always, and I mean always, ask me what it was like growing up in a small town. And my response is pretty typical to what most townies would say. Our weekends were spent cruising the strip, our parties were thrown in corn fields, and the memories that we made are ones that were creative, fun and harmless.

But beyond those memories, there are many great attractions and businesses in Paris that deserve support to keep building up the town.

Yes, even small towns have delicious restaurants to dine at. Every place listed below gives you a true “taste” of Paris because the food is served up with love and hard work. Here are a few to treat your taste buds too!


One word: YUM. While I live an hour away currently from my hometown of Paris, I *may* have taken a trip to “see my parents* once or twice just to get an ice cream cone for me and my girls. (Don’t tell them – I’ll deny it) Frostbites has been around for a few years and has been an amazing addition to the community. Along with delicious soft serve ice cream, they serve some food cravings as well. You can be certain that they’re busy during the warmer months of the year and packed before and after Friday night football games. There’s just something special about getting local ice cream…and it’s definitely made a positive impact on the town.


Located right downtown, Jonesy’s Cafe is waiting for you to arrive. Not only is it a local favorite, but they serve up some of the best cheeseballs that your taste buds will ever try. Myself alone probably spent enough money there to support them throughout the years but every time we ate there growing up, it was 100% worth it. It’s quaint inside, and a hangout for kids after school and the older crowd on the weekends. Even my old pops is still a regular there in the mornings to have his cup of coffee and talk about “whatever”. It’s the perfect eatery to sit, feel welcomed, and eat like a local.


I know what you’re thinking…isn’t Casey’s a gas station? And…yes, it is. BUT – I kid you not, it has some of the best pizza. EVER. I highly, highly recommend ordering their supreme pizza (seriously, it weighs like 20 pounds) or their Taco pizza. It’s a must anytime we visit and we are never disappointed, ever. And honestly, I love shocking people and recommending it and then following back up with them and hearing how much they love it too. Do I love pizza from a gas station? For sure, and I’ll say it loud and proud. (and I’m certain once you give it a try, you’ll agree and be shouting right along with me).


Even with a population under 1,500, Paris, MO has a nice, sit down restaurant that the whole family can enjoy. Jac’s offers a great menu with plenty of options and a nice, clean smoke-free atmosphere that’s 100% family-friendly. Located right downtown and convenient to get to, you won’t be disappointed with the taste and offerings of their food. Arrive hungry as their portions are generous and their prices are on point.


It just wouldn’t be a small town visit without a stop at Miller’s Bar and Grill. While they have the typical bar food that we all love and adore, they also have delicious lunch and dinner specials as well. Plus, they’re known to have some great live music and bands play on the weekends making it a fun escape for all the locals over the age of 21.


One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear from people who live in a small town is that there just isn’t “anything to do”. I can assure you that if you plan a day trip to explore Paris, that phrase won’t be uttered from your lips.


The Paris Pharmacy isn’t your “typical” pharmacy. While they certainly have all the things that you need to battle your illness and colds, they also offer some really, really cute gift ideas and home decor items as well. The inside is decorated and welcoming and the staff that works there are super helpful and friendly, too. I love seeing all the baby shower gifts and announcements for the local couples displayed in the store with their baby registry wish lists…it’s just another reason that small town living is so much fun. The owner also just so happens to be a dear friend of mine from high school and he’s done a phenomenal job of keeping the home town pride and vibe alive and well.


Is it possible for a small town to support a fashionable clothing store? HIP Boutique is proof that it is. Not only is their store a success, but it’s also literally the place to shop. Ran by some truly stylish girls, it rivals many boutiques that I’ve visited in bigger towns. The prices are great, the selection is stunning and the customer service is outstanding. Talk about a truly great way to shop local and support small town living and businesses!


The Paris MO fairgrounds are literally used by a wide variety of activities all year long.

The local schools use them from baseball and softball, but the community is just as active in using the fairgrounds, too. The Relay for Life is a big part of the Paris community and there are often activities at the Fairgrounds where people can show respect and honor those who have lost their lives to cancer.

Slowpitch softball leagues, sand volley leagues, demolition derbies, and tractor pulls are just a few of the other Paris Fairground activities to attend!

Every year in July, Paris Fairgrounds is home to the Mark Twain Old Threshers Reunion. It’s full of crafts, exhibits, 4-H projects, car show, washer tournament, and so much more…it’s literally the place to be. Plus, there are even spots for camping so that you can relax and not have to worry about missing out on any of the action.


It’s beyond awesome that a town of this size has a thriving paper that they still produce and deliver every single week. And I’m not gonna lie – every time I go home, The Monroe County Appeal is one of the first things I read. The articles are genuine and are written with heart and it’s fun to read about the accomplishments and the excitement of the town. I love seeing all the kids who are on the honor roll or seeing the action shots of the sporting events that occurred over the weekend.


Since I lived in Paris for many, many years, there are a few fun facts that I’d love to share with you. Some of these still bring a smile to my face and keep fond memories in my heart.

There is literally one stop sign on the main street in Paris (which is why cruising was so simple and effective)

Paris, MO isn’t far from one of the last remaining covered bridges in the state – Union Covered Bridge

The entire town of Paris participates in painting and hiding rocks to be found for fun and has a Facebook page where they can all share in their finds (the kids go crazy for this!)

You won’t find a small town with a bigger heart – there is a prayer page on Facebook where the people of Paris post about people or issues to ask for prayers (it’s truly beautiful to see all the loving support and comments)

Every March, the town of Paris and surrounding small towns host a Blow Away Cancer event that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen

There’s a fireworks stand right on Main Street that also serves out some delicious food as well (an awesome combo if you ask me!)

Paris MO has an amazing 4-H, FFA, and Agriculture program that students and participants win many awards at all year long

Every Wednesday at 10 AM, there’s a story-time for kids at the local Paris Library


Living in a small town has its perks but one this is for certain: Paris, MO has an amazing history worth exploring.

Not only is it the county seat, but the interior of the local courthouse is quite beautiful as well. There are several rooms within the courthouse that you can see and explore to find out a small tidbit of information about the small town, too. Fun fact? The Monroe County Courthouse was built in 1931 and is currently the last remaining Missouri courthouse that still has a dome.

There’s also the instance of when Norman Rockwell came and visited Paris in 1946. His trip and visit to the local paper actually are credited to putting Paris on the map. Norman Rockwell created a painting of the inside of the local paper, the Monroe County Appeal and gifted the painting to the National Press Club. In 2015, that painting of the Monroe County Appeal that was painted by Norman Rockwell sold for over 11 million dollars.
Founders Cemetery, located on the northern edge of Paris, is actually featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for having a tombstone that lists three wives together with one husband. There is supposedly only one other instance of a tombstone like this one in the world.

And honestly, these are just a few of the interesting history of this small town.


To be completely honest with you, there are times when I miss the small town living. Living in a safe place, where everyone knows you and your family has a nice, warm feeling to it for sure. I often visit Paris, MO and it feels like I’ve never left. Every time I drive down a road or see an old familiar face, I’m transported back 20 years to when I lived there.

Until I decide to make that move something more permanent, I’ll continue to tell of why visiting Paris, MO needs to be on everyone’s radar. Plan a day trip or a weekend trip (check out the overnight accommodations offered at Lake Village Hotel) and see for yourself. And while I could add a million other reasons why Paris is awesome, the few places above are a great start.

Make certain that you check in with the Paris Chamber of Commerce page before your visit so you can see if there any upcoming activities of events as well!

You will find as I have, time just slows down in a small town – and that’s actually a really great thing. Those moments spent living in other cities and bigger towns fly by with distractions and before you know it, the good ol’ days are gone. Take a trip to Paris, MO and see small town living at it’s best. I’m certain you’ll love it as much as I do.