Girl Scouts in Northwest Arkansas: The making of a ‘mighty girl’

Girl Scouts

Guest post by Girl Scouts volunteer Amanda Coussoule

The school year has begun again (hooray!) and with it comes so many opportunities for our children to join new teams, groups and organizations. In our family, Girl Scouts is one of our favorite groups, and I can’t wait for the coming year!

That’s right, Girl Scouts – the 112-year-old organization that we all know a little (who hasn’t eaten a Girl Scout cookie, right?), or maybe a lot (volunteers out there, props to you!), about. For an organization with so much history, it is still one of the most relevant activities for today’s girls. We all want to raise a mighty girl, right? Girl Scouts can be a big part of that!

Girl Scouts, cookies

Girl Scouts officially exists to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. I have seen a transformation in my daughter as she’s tried new things, met new people and had her eyes opened to the possibilities of her future. From traditional Girl Scout activities like cooking and hiking to STEM programs in computer programming, the opportunities are endless! Here are a few examples that my daughter’s troop has done in the last year:

  • We discover our beautiful Natural State with overnight camping trips, sleeping in tents and enjoying S’mores around the campfire. The girls earn badges by observing the constellations, hiking some of our scenic Arkansas trails, paddling a canoe, searching for and finding geocaches, and so many other never-tried-it-before things.
  • The girls sell cookies – LOTS of cookies! They learn how to set and achieve goals through organization and hard work. They get to try on the roles of business manager and sales person, giving them confidence in themselves and possibilities for their future professional selves.
  • They participate in World Thinking Day, where each troop brings the culture and traditions of a country to life. Our children live in a fully connected world, and this unique Girl Scout activity helps them better understand how we are all unique but all part of the global community, too.
  • Field trips are a favorite, with so many different options right here at home. Dan Skoff took them on a tour of the KNWA studios before their cameo on the evening news! A badge workshop at the Amazeum; the climbing wall at Lewis & Clark; the Pumpkin Patch; and an evening of stargazing with experts at Hobbs State Park were terrific weekend activities, too.

Girl scouts, archeryIt’s easy to see why girls can benefit from joining Girl Scouts, but adults can, too! As a volunteer for two years, I have gotten so much more out of this than I ever expected when I first dipped my toe in the parent-volunteer waters.

I’ve seen light bulbs come on as girls build Lego robots and program the computer code that makes them go. I’ve seen the confidence that’s built from the hard work to exceed a sales goal. I’ve watched from arm’s length as girls have successfully navigated the tricky personal relationships that come with the pre-teen years. I even got back in the water and earned my Lifeguard and CPR Certifications, building my own confidence that you’re never too old to do big things!

Before you think, oh, I just don’t have the time, let me encourage you that there are so many ways to volunteer. Yes, troop leaders are so important – they bring it all together and lead the way while teaching the girls to do the same.

Opportunities exist, though, from once-a-year involvement in helping girls at a meeting to supporting the local Council in its work with all of the troops in the region. If you have a heart for opening doors for girls in NW Arkansas, you can get involved in a way that fits your schedule and your expertise. Jump in with both feet – it is so worth it!

So dive right in! Sign your daughter, your granddaughter, your niece up. Then, join the fun by volunteering!

There are troops all over NW Arkansas, and you can even start one yourself – it only takes five girls and two adults to get started. And our local Girl Scout Council has all of the resources you need to get going. You can call 800-632-6894 (this is our NW Arkansas office!) or visit to learn more.

There’s no easy way to capture all of the things Girl Scouts do, so instead I will try to sum up what I see Girl Scouts to be: a place where girls of all ages can learn, grow, try new things, and see the possibilities of a world without boundaries. Be a part of it today!

Amanda, girl scoutsAmanda Coussoule is a mama of two who is also a serial volunteer! She enthusiastically fills up all of the free time left over after her job, her husband, her kids, and her running, with groups and causes she is passionate about.

Chef Shuttle: Free code to try the service in Northwest Arkansas!

ChefShuttleFoodDeliveryService blueNote from the mamas: This is a sponsored post that contains paid links. As always, the opinions you read here are completely our own!

chef shuttle memeHome with a sick kid?

Maybe you’re home sick?

Have a new baby at home?

Can’t possibly leave the office for lunch today?

Just don’t want to cook tonight?

When the idea of getting out of the house sounds awful — or just not doable — Chef Shuttle is a great option.

And it’s REALLY a great option right now because we’ve got a code for FREE DELIVERY for you to use! :)

Chef Shuttle NWA wants you to try their food delivery service — minus the normal $4.95 delivery fee.

The code is “Motherlode” for free delivery in the amount of $4.95 (valid once per customer until September 30, 2016, $15 food minimum when ordering).

How Chef Shuttle works:

  • Chef Shuttle partners with local restaurants to deliver their food to you, same menu, same price. Each order must cost a minimum of $15 in food, and customers pay $4.95 to have the food delivered to their home or business. Lucky you, no delivery fee with the code “Motherlode” through Sept. 30th.
  • Orders are transported in insulated bags to keep the food fresh and hot (or cold!)
  • To order, just visit, choose your delivery date and time, select your menu items and check out with your credit or debit card.

Chef Shuttle delivers based on zip codes:chef shuttle meme

momOne quick note: We ♥ that Chef Shuttle also offers gift cards. A Chef Shuttle gift card might make a great gift, in fact.

Ryan Herget, CEO and President of Chef Shuttle Northwest Arkansas, said people often order gift cards for friends and family going through all kinds of life events: illness, recuperating after an injury, loss in the family, birthdays, and especially the tired parents of newborns who’d love a restaurant meal without leaving home!

CLICK HERE to cruise around the Chef Shuttle website — and to see a list of restaurants they partner with.

Compensation for this post was provided by Chef Shuttle. 

chef shuttle jeep

Wondering what to do in Branson? A list of things to try!

Branson, Let's go

If you still haven’t planned your summer vacation — or you’re in desperate need of a long weekend away — here are some highlights from our recent trip to Branson, Mo. We hope this little tour sparks ideas for activities you might want to try with your family!

The Branson CVB invited us to #ExploreBranson {through the ever-fabulous The Women Bloggers group, headed by Stephanie Buckley} and covered the cost of our hotel — the ritzy Hilton Convention Center — and a variety of the city’s most addictive attractions. We were among various bloggers from a number of states who participated with our families. We had a blast!

Knowing that we’d have two 14 year-old girls on the trip (Shannon’s daughter and a friend), Kristiana and Liz of the CVB chose the perfect itinerary for our family vacation. We started out at the Titanic Museum on Day 1 and ended our three-day trip with a ride on the brand new Branson Ferris Wheel.

Even though we’d been to Branson before, we’d never experienced these attractions. That’s the cool thing about the city: there’s so much to do, you probably missed something when you were there last time or you haven’t tried that new thing. They’re always adding cool attractions. Branson has several additions in the works right now and they sound AWESOME.

santas on snapchat

Santas from the city of Branson’s Snapchat account

Fun aside: We were in Branson during a Santa convention. There were over 800 Santas in the city and we kept experiencing Santa sightings. We saw Santas driving by in vehicles, walking into restaurants and walking beside us on the Branson Landing.

Here are a few quick details about each of the attractions we visited during our stay. (At the end of each description, look for quotes from my 14-year-old daughter her friend. The teenagers sum things up nicely!)

Branson, Day 1:

Titanic Museum

As I said on the nwaMotherlode Facebook page, I was in tears multiple times during our tour of the Titanic Museum. One of the crew members, Kevin, eloquently told the story of the band continuing to play as the ship sank. The musicians wanted to keep spirits up, although they knew things were likely hopeless — and they were doomed. None of the band members survived, but their story certainly did. I was so inspired by their bravery in the face of tragedy.

You know what’s super cool? When you’re in line to enter the museum, you receive a card about a person who was actually aboard the Titanic. You don’t learn whether your person survived or perished until the end of your self-guided tour. I was Genevieve Cassebeer and I was one of the lucky women to survive the tragedy. Genevieve died in New York at age 95.

The museum is great for adults who are fascinated by the Titanic because there are so many exhibits to explore, with detailed descriptions of how events unfolded. But teens and younger children will also appreciate the museum because there are so many interactive exhibits.

We were there for two hours, but could have easily spent more time. There was so much to see and the staff was wonderful. They’re able to tell you little details not found in the exhibits.

The Teen’s Take:

“I’ve never seen the movie and this made me not want to see it because I know I’d cry. I really liked that you got to see whether you lived or died at the end.”

“I liked the interactive exhibits and the artifacts. It was really cool to stick my hand in the water and see how cold it was that night and to stand on the deck to see how steep it got when the Titanic was about to sink.”


Visitors are assigned cards about passengers aboard the Titanic

The Haygoods Show 

Honestly, this show blew us away. Again, we had two 14-year-olds with us, so we were a little concerned it might be too folksy for them — or too kiddish. We were so wrong. We really (really!) loved the Haygoods, a group of siblings who can play pretty much any instrument you put in their hands. The youngest, and only sister, could even play the harp like a dream.

The show was a mix of laser lights, great singing, fabulous dance moves and comedic exchanges between the siblings. It’s really high energy. At the end of the show, they bring their mom to say hello. Family-friendly, but edgy is how I’d describe it.

We never thought we’d hear AC/DC on the banjo, but we did. And it was awesome ;)

The shows are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I can’t imagine trying to muster up that kind of energy every night of the week!

The Teen’s Take:

“10 out of 10, would go again. I want to learn how to play the banjo now.”

“The Haygoods show was fun! Even better than I expected.”

Here’s a video that pretty much sums up the Haygoods fun:

Branson, Day 2:

White Water Branson

On a hot summer day, our family is all about a water park! We really enjoyed White Water, especially the Ohana Falls water raft ride. You basically sit in a huge water raft with your peeps and zoom down a big, winding water slide. Expect a few dips! Perfection!

The water park features 2 million gallons of fun rides and attractions, including a HUGE wave pool + a long and winding lazy river (my fave). We felt like we were at the beach.

They also have food and drinks, which I’m all about. Lounging near water while eating yummy food is one of my favorite things, ever. Seriously.

The Teen’s Take:

“Definitely Ohana Falls! The water raft ride was my favorite.”

“Yes, I loved the water raft ride and also the lazy river. Such a fun day!”


Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zip Line

OK, truthfully, when I saw the zip line on our family’s itinerary, I thought: “NO WAY, Parakeet Pete. I’m a chicken!” You might say I’m a teensy bit scared of heights and the parakeet takes you high above the Branson Landing, over Lake Taneycomo.

Linda Peterson, one of Parakeet Pete’s wonderful managers, talked me into facing my fears. I bravely boarded the parakeet seat and felt extremely proud of myself when the ride was over.

The theme of our trip suddenly became: Face your fears. Step out of your comfort zone.

I was literally shaking when I stepped off the parakeet seat, but also exhilarated. Linda was there to ask my honest opinion about the ride and I told her truthfully: It was great! I’m so glad I did it!

I felt completely safe on the ride and was pleased to avoid this huge fear: vomiting from a fast-moving, high rise ride into the lake below.

The Teen’s Take:

“It was a really pretty view!”

“That was one of my favorite parts of our whole trip. It was fun with a dash of adrenaline!”

Parakeet Pete's collage

Parakeet Pete’s Zip-n-Sip

You’ve really got to do this. We loved being high above Branson on the Sky Deck listening to music and watching the sun set over Lake Taneycomo. As the evening grew dark (after a gorgeous sunset!), it was fun to watch people zip up to the Sky Deck from Parakeet Pete’s down below to join us. After having a drink (or dinner — sometimes they have events with a whole meal, too) and visiting for a while, you can zip back down the zip line and continue enjoying Branson Landing. That’s why it’s called the Zip-n-Sip!

The lights on the landing and zip line were beautiful and the view from the deck was fabulous. The band (Durango) was also wonderful.

The Teen’s Take:

“If you want to impress your friends, go and take photos up there. It was lit.”

“The scenery from there was beautiful. The lights were pretty hipster.”

panaramic view

Branson, Day 3

The Track Family Fun Parks

There are four family fun parks throughout Branson and we spent some fun time at #4. We rode the bumper cars, played arcade games and rode go-karts on the 4-story track called Heavy Metal High Rise. A BLAST. There’s also a smaller go-kart  track for the littles, which looked like lots of fun.

The Teen’s Take:

“I liked this place a lot. My need for speed was met (on the go-kart track). I got super competitive, even though I’m usually not. I wanted to pass people. #fastandfurious8″

“I liked the arcade and the bumper cars best.”

Heavy Metal High Rise_ride

Heavy Metal High Rise/Photo credit: The Track Family Fun Parks

 The Branson Ferris Wheel

The new Ferris Wheel is at Family Fun Park #4, but I’m pretty sure you can’t miss it. With more than 16k LED lights, this beauty can be seen for miles — and lights up the night. It was originally at the Navy Pier in Chicago, but now it’s at home in Branson. There are light shows several times in the evenings. Side note: Michael Haygood (of the Haygoods, easy on the eyes) helped design the lights for the Ferris Wheel.

The Ferris wheel is 150 feet tall and was actually scarier than the zip line for me, probably because the whole ride is 7 1/2 minutes. I had more time to think about being that high up. However, there was a great view and I felt safe since the gondolas are enclosed.

The Teen’s Take:

“OK, fine, I was too scared to ride it.”

“The Ferris wheel gets an A+”

Ferris Wheel

Branson’s new Ferris wheel is 150 feet tall and lights up the night

The Hilton Convention Center

The Hilton is a beautiful hotel and they treated us very well! Great staff, for sure. It’s 12 stories high, so you can’t miss it if you’re near Branson Landing. Speaking of, we loved being so close to the landing which has tons of shopping, restaurants, bars and activities. Than Landing — plus the city’s downtown — are within walking distance to the hotel, so that kept us from jumping in the car a lot.

The Teen’s Take:

“The shower was great and I liked their shampoo and conditioner. They had a refrigerator for my Sprite and a safe for my art tablet. The room was really pretty.”

“The pool areas were great. They have inside and outside pools, plus a hot tub. The view from our window was cool. The bed was really soft and so were the pillows. The bellman was really nice. They had snacks downstairs if you forgot to bring any.”

Feet pic

We loved relaxing on our soft bed at the Hilton in between activities!

Branson, overall experience

Over breakfast at Clocker’s Cafe downtown, I told the Branson CVB ladies, Kristiana and Liz, that they had chosen the perfect itinerary for my family. And my husband and I told them that it surprised us that we had been to the area before but hadn’t enjoyed these attractions. We love that Branson keeps adding new things to do and works hard to make the city a fun destination full of surprises.

We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back!

The Teen’s Take:

“My brain hurts from all the adrenaline.”

“I stepped out of my comfort zone on this trip and it was so fun!”

I survived

Back at home, enjoying hot tea in my Parakeet Pete’s mug

Mealtime Mama: Fresh strawberry pie for the Fourth of July!


Happy Fourth of July! This pie is sure to please.

If you’ve got pick-your-own strawberries (or if you picked some up from the store!), below a great pie recipe that our friend Kathleen Villar shared after she and her two kids visited McGarrah’s a few weeks ago. (Kathleen gives full credit to her friend Pam Lewis for the recipe.)

We couldn’t resist using a few of the pics from the Villars’ day at the farm, too! Those kids are so cute.

Strawberry Pie

Kathleen, berriesIngredients:

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar (It is a SWEET dessert, you might want to reduce the sugar. I used just 1 cup.)
1 1/2 cups water
3 oz box strawberry Jell-O
2 cups sliced strawberries (If the berries are small, it may take a little more. I just filled the pie crust.)


  • Pre-bake a 10″ pie shell. (I used a pre-made graham cracker crust. They have pre-made shortbread too!)
  • Line bottom with the sliced strawberries
  • Combine cornstarch, sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add the Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Pour over the strawberries (I didn’t use it all) and refrigerate until set.
  • Serve with whipped cream.

Kathleen's kids, berriesNote from the mamas: This post originally published on in June 2014. There are three little Villars now!


The best snow cone stands in Northwest Arkansas!

snow cone graphic from printableUPDATED for Summer 2016: We love a sweet, syrupy snow cone on a hot summer day!

snow coneWe rounded up a list of where you can find great snow cones throughout Northwest Arkansas. If you don’t see your favorite snow cone stand on the list, email us and let us know where it is!

Click HERE to download a printer-friendly version of this list. Keep it in your purse or car so you’ll know where to go for an icy treat.

Note: We’ve linked to as many of the businesses below as possible so you can visit their Facebook page to check for hours of operation (and list of flavors) before you visit.


Shave the Planet: 3078 N. College Ave. (Next to the Bank of Fayetteville and Hobby Lobby)

Tropical Sno: 464 E. Joyce Blvd. (near TJ Maxx and Best Buy)


Shave the Planet: 1308 N. Thompson (Across from AQ Chicken and Kum&Go)

Shave the Planet: 2940 W. Sunset Ave. (in front of Malco Theater and Harps grocery store)


The Ice Box (formerly Sugar Shack): 1115 N. Dixieland Rd. (in the Golf Mountain parking lot)


The Frozen Coconut: 718 N. 2nd St. (across from Harps, near the Rogers Activity Center)

The Ice Box (formerly Cam’s Mountain Sno): Walnut Rd. (in the Frisco Station Mall parking lot near Hobby Lobby)

Brain Freeze Sno & Whips: 4205 S. Pleasant Crossing Blvd. (in the Burlington parking lot)


The Chill Zone: 214 NE “A” St. (by the Lawrence Plaza Splash Pad)

Brain Freeze of Bentonville: 200 SW Regional Airport Blvd. (just off Rainbow Curve)

Frozen Tung: 604 Southwest A Street

Kona Ice: Shaved ice truck that travels around Northwest Arkansas (Call for today’s location.)

sno cone slider