The Rockwood Files: My 10-Year Top 10 List

What I’ve Learned in a Decade of Marriage:

1. “When I got married, I was stupid.” What I mean by that is, I had no idea just how 10.jpghuge a decision I was making. Sure, I’d heard all the blah-blah-blah about how marriage is a big step, but it’s hard to comprehend the blah-blah when you’re in your early twenties. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that choosing a person to spend your life with is perhaps the biggest factor in how the rest of your life will go. Education is important. Jobs are important. But nothing even comes close to who you choose to trust, to spend your life with, to make babies with. Nothing comes close to that.

2. “He just needs to drive.” This means that spouses have to learn their partner’s quirks and accept them. Tom needs to drive. Even though I’m a perfectly good driver with an excellent record, he can only tolerate being in the passenger seat for roughly 10 minutes and then it’s nearly killing him. He just needs to drive. What he has learned about me is that, while I will surrender the driver’s seat without much protest, I can not be driven down an unfamiliar road “just to see where it goes.” I need to know where we’re going. We’ve both learned to accept each other’s needs and drive or ride accordingly.

3. “Think before you speak.” That one speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

4. “Points are for losers.” When I first got married, I was under the delusion that arguments were opportunities to win or lose, as in “score your points and win your case.” That might work in a debate or a courtroom, but it really backfires in a marriage. That day-to-day point-keeping puts you on opposing teams. You stop rooting for each other and the whole thing can get bad pretty fast. Ten years has taught me to forget the points, be a good sport and win the game.

5. “Go to bed mad.” I know it totally goes against conventional wisdom but I stand by this one. There have been times, at the end of the day, when I’ve forgotten Rule No. 4 and become tangled in an argument – usually about something I can’t even remember a month later. But at night, when we’re tired or stressed, the fight really seems worth fighting about. But if I go to bed and let it decompress, the morning usually brings a dose of reality and perspective. So I say it’s okay to go to bed mad. Just be sure to get over it by lunch.

6. “Sometimes I’m wrong.” Boy, that was a tough one to wrap my head around. Still is. But these past 10 years have made me realize that there are rare occasions when I’m not absolutely right about things, and it’s better to just admit it and move on. It’s humbling, but nobody wants to live with “Little Miss (or Mister) Can’t-Be-Wrong.”

7. “Play dates aren’t just for kids anymore.” One of the unfortunate parts of parenting is that we’re so busy being the grown-ups that we forget marriage is supposed to be fun. We make actual dates for our kids to get together and play, but couples rarely do that for themselves. One of the best pieces of advice we got was from a woman who said we should go out on dates to “play” – not just the standard “dinner and a movie” thing, because people don’t talk much during movies. So we went bowling and laughed at ourselves and each other and remembered that it’s okay to be a parent and still occasionally act like a goofy kid at play with your high school crush. How can you love somebody like you should if you don’t like them first? And how do you like somebody if you don’t ever have fun together? That’s why you’ve gotta go play.

8. “Wives have excellent long-term memory.” Tom added this one to my list, which I’m pretty sure is his sneaky way of saying that sometimes we women hang on to things a tad too long. That’s probably true. But I would also add that if more men would adhere to Rule No. 3, there wouldn’t be nearly as much stuff to remember for a decade.

9. “Lighten up.” Ever notice how the really intense dramas on television are usually on for only a couple of hours each night, from around 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.? I think it’s because too much drama is tiring. It burns you out and you end up wanting to get away from it. One of the keys to making it work in a marriage is learning to just lighten up and not make a federal case out of every little thing. Roll with it, and remember that comedies are more fun to watch.

10. “Be kind.” I know it sounds like over-simplifying, but let’s face it: If two people aren’t kind to each other, all the marriage books and couples retreats and counseling won’t heal it. It’s sad, how sometimes we’re kinder to strangers or mere acquaintances than we are to the people in our own home. We think true love should be “unconditional,” thereby letting us off the hook for bad behavior. But love is conditional. And its biggest condition insists – no, it demands – that we, above all else, “be kind.”

To my wonderfully kind husband of 10 great years, thanks for learning the rules along with me. I’m looking forward to a Top 20 List. Happy anniversary.

Want to read more Rockwood Files? Click HERE.

Waiting for Shlomo: A post of excuses, whining and Thanksgiving

By Erin, adopting mama

I have not written a post in two weeks, even though I’ve thought about it almost every day. This adoption process is getting to me, and thinking about it too much, and writing about it, makes me sad. Here is a list of excuses – feel sorry for me if you will! :)

There is nothing to tell – our profile is active, but there are no matches. We are considering going through our profile and our book and making some changes to see if that can help.

Isaac, our 3-year-old, is having the worst sleep problems I have ever encountered. He has always had some sleep problems, but these issues make everything in the past seem like nothing! It’s been at least two months of him taking hours to fall asleep, waking up multiple times each night, taking no naps at home, and having night terrors due to utter exhaustion. We have gone to the doctor, tried a million things, and are now starting to get some results, but it has been exhausting and all-consuming. Sometimes I believe that we don’t have our baby at home with us now because we are not ready – we were ready this summer and early September, but it seems like the Universe knows that our family can’t handle a baby at this time. Hopefully we will get these sleep issues worked out so we will be ready for a new person in our family soon!

Michael has worked a million hours at his main job as a Realtor, and his second job as a bartender lately. It’s great, because the money is sorely needed, but it makes dealing with the sleep issues that much harder for me.

Extended family drama continues. Enough said.

So, do you feel sorry for me yet? Just wait . . . I had a birthday this month – I turned 34. I did not think I would be 34 (and my husband pushing 40) and still be building my family. Now, there was a time that I thought I would not get married until my mid thirties and have kids much later, after I got tenure, when I was on the professor track. All of that changed, however, when I met Michael. We met right when I turned 25, got married a month before I turned 27, and started trying to get pregnant a year later – I was barely 28. Isaac was born right before I turned 31. Now, I know this is not old, but on our “track”, I should have had at least two children by now, and either be pregnant with number three now, be thinking about number three, or know that we were finished! I have been working on family building for six and a half years, and we only have one child. It’s amazing and very sad. I would not, of course, change a thing since it brought us Isaac, but it’s been a long journey, and we are not done yet! I just found out that an acquaintance of mine is accidentally pregnant during a time that is, to say the least, very bad for a surprise pregnancy. I hate to feel bitter, and I know that someone else’s pregnancy does not affect my ability to have children, but it hurts. It stings to know how badly I, and so many others, desperately want children and will try almost anything to get them, and some people get pregnant when it’s the very last thing that they want or need.

We are on our way to Dallas for Thanksgiving. We will see family members with new babies – babies that I cannot WAIT to see. But still, I can’t help but think, we SHOULD have another baby too. In fact, if the last adoption situation had worked out, we would be in Dallas with our new baby for all to meet. This trip will be wonderful I’m sure, but hard for me. The old infertile feelings are back, and I hate them. I hate feeling worthless about my inability to have a baby. I hate feeling bitter and angry about other people’s good fortune. I hate wincing at the sight or mention of a pregnancy. I hate feeling inadequate. I hate trying to explain our situation to people who have no ability or desire to really understand.

Despite all of this, at this Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my beautiful and amazing little family – an unbelievable husband and the greatest kid I could ever ask for. Even with our problems, I am thankful for a loving and supportive extended family – especially my amazing mother and fantastic sister! I am thankful for this beautiful town I live in, for the many friends that enrich my life, for the health and relative happiness I experience every day, and, although it is difficult at times, for the ability to pursue the adoption of our next child. I am so thankful that we have the resources, support, and ability to pursue this adoption. Another child is in our future, whenever that might be.


From our families to yours, have a blessed Thanksgiving. We’ll be back tomorrow with new articles, more giveaways and insider info in Northwest Arkansas.

Beauty Buzz: “Ask Amy” about vibrating mascara

Dear Amy,

I saw an ad in a magazine for a “vibrating” mascara. What is this and does it work?

Dear Gadget Girl,lancome2.jpg

You must be referring to Lancome’s newest mascara, “Oscillation.” This is either the craziest or the coolest product I’ve seen in a while – it has a battery powered, vibrating wand that claims to smoothly coat each lash up to 360 degrees. It’s pricey for a mascara ($34), but I couldn’t wait to try this out and see if it lives up to the hype.

It really is unique – you press a button on the wand and sweep it under your lashes just like traditional mascara. It took some practice to figure out the best application method (slowly and carefully seems to cut down on the clumps), and the vibrating wand can be a little tricky to work with on the little corner lashes (you don’t want to poke your eye with anything battery powered!)

Will I buy it again? I’m not sure. It did lengthen and separate my lashes very well and it didn’t smudge after a long day, but that’s no more than a good drug store mascara can do. For the money, I’m not convinced that it’s any better than my beloved Cover Girl Lash Blast. But, if you decide to buy it, I doubt you will be disappointed. It might be a fun thing to try out the next time Lancome is offering a “free gift.” Good luck!

Ladies Night Out party!

Nearly 100 women stopped by for Signature Bank of Arkansas’ Ladies Night Out, an annual event held recently at the Pleasant Grove Road branch. Shea Dolan, mistress of ceremonies, presented door prizes every 15 minutes (including two from one of our favorite nwaMotherlode sponsors, Bath Junkie) while doctors from Mercy Health System offered wellness advice to guests in the boardroom throughout the evening.


Above: Dr. Andrew Leuders (center), family practice/obstetrics physician at Mercy Health System, posed with a group of Signature Bank ladies (plus Motherlode Mama, Shannon, second from the R; Mama Gwen was behind the camera) who were discussing pregnancy and babies. Dr. Leuders had just left the boardroom where women were studying his face on a Visia Camera. The picture showed previous sun damage (he’s since had much of the damage treated), and served as a visual example of how sun-damaged our faces can be without us even realizing it.


It didn’t take long before the Ladies Night Out ladies were having their faces analyzed to see the condition of their underlying skin (notice Dr. Leuders’ mug on the screen in the above photo). The Visia camera, which is available at Rogers Medical Center, identifies sun damage, future age spots, broken blood vessels and pore size. It even shows what your face will look like in five years if you continue to protect/not protect your skin. Seeing the detailed shots of Dr. Leuders’ past damage was a wake-up call to us ladies.

fatblock3.JPGGwen and Shannon weren’t brave enough to try the Visia camera, but for some reason, they did step on the machine that Dr. Randall Feezell had brought with him to the party. You know, the machine that analyzes your body fat content?

The Motherlode mamas won’t reveal our results, but we’ll say that the 5-pound glob of (plastic) fat that Dr. Feezell brought along was a very effective visual aid.

Dr. Feezell (seen to the right holding said fat glob) is moving to a new practice, NWA Gynecology. The new clinic will be located in the Mercy Physicians Plaza which will open in January 2009.

He’s full of great ideas about birth control, (out-of-control) period control and weight loss management.

Thanks to Signature Bank and Mercy Health System for a wonderful evening of friends, food and festivity!

Drama for Mama: Dancing with the Stars

dancingstars-logo.jpgThe final three put on a great show Monday night on Dancing with the Stars. The beads and sequins were flying and there were plenty of high-flying tricks, too. Each couple got to choose their favorite ballroom and Latin dances to be re-run on this episode, to showcase their best performances. Then each couple performed two dances – a samba and a freestyle. Everyone’s samba was good, but the freestyle dances really tell the tale.

Brooke and Derek have been consistently great all season and probably deserve to win on their technical merit. Their freestyle dance, which was a take-off on the famous final scene of the movie Grease, looked very difficult and the tricks were very cool. Judges gave them a perfect score.

Lance and Lacey, or “Lancey”, did a humorous hip-hop to an all-time classic song “Tricky.” Lance definitely deserves a most-improved award if he doesn’t take home the ultimate trophy.

Warren and Kym did a show-stopping version of Tina Turner’s hit “Rolling on the River.” Throughout the season, Warren has been a joy to watch – not for this technical mastery but for his showmanship. You just can’t help but root for this guy. And it was so much fun to watch him do these death-defying partner tricks with a tiny little blonde. Somehow, their opposite body builds really worked well together.

The “most reflective trophy in all of television” will go home with someone tomorrow night. As for who? I think it’s a close race between Brooke and Warren, and if I had a make a prediction, I’d go with Brooke. But part of me can’t help but hope that the big teddy bear linebacker comes out on top.

Mealtime Mama: Dipping sauces for new Tyson chicken nuggets

tyson-576995.jpgIf chicken nuggets show up on your dinner table more often than you’d like to admit, Tyson Foods has introduced something that will make us feel less guilty about serving up this kid-friendly fare: 100% All Natural*™ Chicken Nuggets, which are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients, preservatives or fillers.


We first found out about these new nuggets (they even offer a dinosaurs-shaped version) while reading Tyson’s tweets on

If you’re planning to serve chicken nuggets to the pickiest of your guests at the Thanksgiving feast this week, here are some dipping sauces to make the entree a little “fancier” than just serving them up with regular old ketchup. The recipes are courtesy of Tyson and Robin Miller, host of Food Network’s Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller.

Apricot-Teriyaki Dunking Sauce:


14 1/2 ounce can light apricot halves (in extra-light syrup), drained

1/4 cup 100% apple juice

2 teaspoons bottled teriyaki sauce

How to prepare: Cook chicken nuggets according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in blender or food processor, combine the apricots, apple juice and teriyaki sauce. Purée until smooth.

Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Heat the sauce in the saucepan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes (until hot and bubbly), or in the microwave (covered) for 1 minute on HIGH.

Root Beer Barbecue Dunking Sauce:


1 cup root beer (bottled or canned)

6-ounce can of tomato paste

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground Dijon mustard

How to prepare:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the root beer, tomato paste, cider vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin and Dijon mustard.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces to about 1 cup, stirring occasionally.

Roasted Red Pepper Dunking Sauce:


1 cup roasted red pepper pieces (from water-packed jar)

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or more to taste

2 T chopped fresh basil, optional

How to prepare: In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted red peppers, balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. Purée until smooth. Fold in basil (if using). Pour sauce into serving bowl.

Note: The sauce can be served room temperature or heated by pouring into a small saucepan over medium-low heat for a few minutes (or in the microwave, covered, for 1 minute on HIGH).

BONUS RECIPE Chicken Pizzettes with Choose ‘Em Vegetables:


1 package Tyson chicken nuggets

4 whole wheat flour tortillas (taco size)

3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce or pasta sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups mixed, chopped vegetables such as broccoli florets, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, pitted black olives, and baby spinach leaves

4 tsp. grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. dried oregano, optional

How to prepare: Preheat the oven to 400º. Arrange chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove chicken nuggets from the oven and cut into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top each tortilla with 3 tablespoons of the pizza sauce.

Top the sauce with mozzarella cheese (¼ cup per tortilla). Top the cheese with the chicken nugget pieces and any combination of vegetables.

Sprinkle parmesan cheese and oregano (if using) over top.

Transfer pizzettes to baking sheets and bake 5 to 7 minutes, until cheese melts and tortilla is golden brown.


Holiday Gift-giving Idea!


Girls, I know many (many) of you love Bath Junkie, but have you considered it for gift-giving this holiday season? They have pampering products for everyone on your Christmas list, including those with four legs!

fortune-cookie.jpgI was in the Rogers store recently and had a blast shopping all the fun products. I fell in love with the fortune cookie-shaped bath soaps — complete with fortunes inside! They actually have super cute silver “take-out boxes” to make the presentation complete.

Really, what woman wouldn’t want to unwrap a gift from Bath Junkie? If you don’t want to choose the scent and color for her (at Bath Junkie, you’re the creator of your bath reality) you can always purchase a “Fill ‘er Up” gift bag and let the giftee head over to the store and choose it herself. There are 200 fragrances to pick from and a rainbow of tints as well. That way the gift can be enjoyed past Christmas Day — when she gets to go experience the store for herself — and you know it will be exactly what she wanted because she chose it.

For the man on your list, there’s shower gel-oh!, brushless shave cream, everywhere foaming body wash and many other guy-grooming products. They have manly scents to choose from, so don’t worry that he’ll feel too flowery or fruity.

If you’re buying for a clean freak, Bath Junkie has just the thing. In fact, that’s the name of their sugar-based products that work as cleaners but are so non-toxic you could actually taste-test them.

For the furry friends in your life, you can pick up pet soap, “mutt mist” dog cologne and dog shampoo. Actually, you might want to gift your dog early — before the guests arrive.

Bath Junkie is working hard to be as green as it can. They accept empty Bath Junkie containers and recycle them. And for each bottle you bring in, the store gives you a point on your “karma card”. There are various ways to earn points, including purchasing items and committing “random acts of greenness”. You redeem the points for more Bath Junkie goodness.

So this year, give friends and family what they really want: good, clean fun!

Fresh and Fabulous Recipes You’ll Love


By Shannon Magsam

Jen Lewis of Fayetteville (fourth from the left in the picture above) recently held her first Fresh and Fabulous Entertaining cooking class for eight local women. The meal was so impressive, I wanted to share the full menu with you.

Whether you’re looking for delicious recipes to whip up for visiting family or friends this holiday week or for future cooking endeavors, this is a great Fall line-up:

Stacked Roasted Apple Salad w/ Goat Cheese, Arugula and Candied Pecans:

Jen says: This recipe was inspired by a couple of recipes that I had tried and I adapted it to our specific tastes.

8 apples (Braeburn or Gala are great)

1 T of butter

6 cups of Arugula (Ozark Natural Foods)

11oz of Goat cheese (Sam’s has the best price)

2 Cups of Candied Pecans, chopped (Wal-Mart)

Reserve some to be sprinkled after they have been cooked

Fresh ground pepper

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup canola oil or EV olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider

1/4 cup cider vinegar (Handmade) Katz

1 Tbsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

Ground pepper

How to prepare:

Mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar or bowl

Preheat oven to 425. Slice apples so that they can be re-stacked with the core removed. Line a baking pan with foil and place apples sliced ends up. Rub apples with butter and then sprinkle with pecans. Put in oven for 10 to 15 minutes. You want the apples to be soft, but still have a little crispness to them. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

Put some arugula on a small plate and then the bottom of the apple, layer arugula, goat cheese and then apple slice until the apple is back together. Spoon apple cider vinaigrette over apple and then grind some pepper over it.

Serves 8

Cranberry & Walnut Crusted Straight Pork Roast (With a Port Reduction Sauce):

Jen says: This recipe came from Fine Cooking Magazine, but I changed several things. This is a wonderful fall or winter dish.

ffab665.JPG1 8-bone pork rack (about 5 lb.), chine bone removed (Richard’s Meat Market)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)

1 cup ruby port

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. good quality balsamic vinegar (Colavita is great)

3/4 cup dried berry blend Peterson Farms (Wal-Mart) (about 4 oz.)

3/4 tsp. dried red chile flakes

Pinch ground allspice

1-1/2 cups walnuts (6 oz.), toasted and chopped medium-coarse

2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

3 cups homemade or low-salt chicken or beef broth

How to prepare:

Let the roast sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Put a roasting rack in a roasting pan or in a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. (Line the pan with foil for easier cleanup, if you like.)

Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Turn on the exhaust fan. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, sear the rack of pork until browned on all sides, including the ends, 2 to 3 min. per side. Transfer the meat to the roasting pan, meaty side up. Set aside to cool while you prepare the crust.

Pour off all the fat in the sauté pan, return the pan to medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it stops bubbling, add the onion and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and medium brown, 10 to 15 min. Add the port, 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar, the dried cranberries, chile flakes, and allspice. Raise the heat to medium high and boil until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, about another 10 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry mixture to a food processor and pulse 12 to 15 times to create a slightly chunky paste. Scrape it into a small bowl and fold in the walnuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reserve 3 Tbs. of the cranberry mixture in a dish to make a sauce later. Pat the remaining cranberry mixture onto the top and sides of the pork rack.

Roast the pork for 30 min. and then tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the roast for the remaining cooking time to keep the crust from over-browning. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 140°F, about another 30 min.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the chicken or beef broth to a boil. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar and boil until the mixture is reduced by half, about 10 min. Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the reserved cranberry-walnut crust paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let the meat rest for 10 min. (it will continue to cook as it rests) before carving into chops and serving with the sauce.

Sweet Potato and Yukon Mashed Potato with Maple Syrup and Cardamom:

2 1/4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams) and 2 lbs. of Yukon golds, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (potatoes can be roasted)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Salt and Pepper

How to prepare:

Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to pot; mash. Mix in butter, syrup and cardamom. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8

Roasted Green Beans with Caramelized Shallot Butter:

Jen says: I borrowed this recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine. I love roasting vegetables and you can use this technique for any vegetable.

2 lb. green beans, stem ends trimmed

3 to 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475° F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, toss the green beans with enough of the olive oil to coat generously, the salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Turn the beans out onto the baking sheet and arrange them so that they are evenly spaced. If the beans cover the baking sheet sparsely, arrange them toward the edges of the baking sheet for the best browning. Roast the beans until they’re tender, a bit shriveled, and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Return the green beans to the bowl in which you tossed them with the oil, or put them in a clean serving bowl. If they seem a bit dry, drizzle them with a little oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and another flavoring, if using.

Serves 8

Carmelized Shallot butter: (Make ahead of time)

3-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened

1 large shallot, finely diced (1/3 cup)

1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare:

Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the shallot mixture with the remaining 2-1/2 Tbs. butter and the lemon zest. Stir to blend well. Lightly season to taste with salt and pepper.

Scrape the butter onto a small piece of plastic wrap, mold into a log shape, and wrap in the plastic. Refrigerate until ready to use. Toss about one-third of the butter (a generous tablespoon) with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

Roasted Pears with Butterscotch and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:

Jen says: This is one of my favorite desserts right now. I took this from Fine Cooking Magazine and I love it when pears are in season.

ffab679.JPG4 ripe but firm pears

1/2 lemon

3 oz. (6 Tbs.) butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. Scotch whiskey (optional)

How to prepare:

Heat the oven to 375°F. Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise and, using a melon baller, scoop out the cores. Rub them all over with the lemon half to prevent browning.

In a large (10-inch), heavy-based, oven-proof skillet, melt the butter. Add the sugar and brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Arrange the pears in the pan, cut side down, in a single layer. Bake the pears uncovered, basting occasionally with the liquid in the pan, until they begin to soften and color slightly. Depending on the pears’ ripeness, baking time can range from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Transfer the pan to a burner and boil the mixture left behind over medium-high heat until it reaches a rich, golden-brown color and smells like caramel, 2 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the cream into the caramel until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, and Scotch, if using. Serve the sauce over the warm pears.

Spoon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream over Pears and Garnish with a Mint and Sprinkle with Candied Pecans

Jennifer Lewis is founder of Fresh and Fabulous Entertaining, a new Northwest Arkansas business that focuses on the fine art cooking and entertaining. Jen prepares the menu for class participants, the group makes the meal together, then they all sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labor (which is stretching it, since they seemed to be having too much fun for it to be called labor!). Jen offers cooking techniques, entertaining tips, grocery shopping tips and dinner party planning. For more information about how you can take a Fresh and Fabulous class yourself, call Jen at 479-871-4139. Bon appetit!

Devotion in Motion: Thanksgiving in the Abbreviation Nation

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

Have you noticed that the times devoted to God are getting shorter and shorter? Up until the 1960’s, country churches had two revivals a year, and there were two services each day, morning and evening. thanksgivingclock.jpgWith more people going to the workplace, this gradually changed to one 14-day revival each year, with meetings only at night. When I was a child, revivals lasted 7-days, and by the time I was a grown man, most churches were having 3-day revivals.

Not too long ago I got a phone call from a church that wanted me to come and preach a “One-Day Revival.” I would speak for Sunday morning worship, we would have fellowship dinner, and then go home. We never used to call a situation like that a “One-Day Revival.” In the old days, that was called “Having a Guest Speaker”!

Is the same thing kind of abbreviation happening to Thanksgiving? When the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621 at Plymouth colony, their celebration lasted three whole days. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt issued declarations that said Americans should celebrate one whole day of Thanksgiving in gratitude to God. Sometimes our thanksgiving is not a day, but only one prayer offered before the evening meal. Sadder yet, some have forgotten “Thanks-giving” altogether, choosing instead to call the holiday “Turkey Day”.

The more I read the Scriptures, the more I see that even though we are often in a hurry with our thanksgiving to God, our Lord is never in a hurry with His children. I think you will appreciate God’s unhurried ways of teaching His people if you take a minute today to look up Psalm 107. The lesson verse for today is repeated four times word-for-word in this chapter! “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

So, let’s set aside a little time to give thanks to God for all He has done for us. We have so much to be thankful for, and He deserves our thanks and praise. And I have found that thanksgiving to God has an unexpected fringe benefit: Gratitude makes us happy. Look around this week and I think you’ll be surprised to see that the most thankful people are the happiest people.

Oh, that men (and mamas) would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness! Have a wonderful (and thankful) Thanksgiving!

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * (Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” ) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Pin Oak trees are showing their colors in honor of the season). You should drop him a line at

The Rockwood Files: Train or Get Off the Pot

By Gwen Rockwood, columnist and Motherlode mama of 3

I should be ecstatic right now. I should be dancing in the streets because my almost 2-year-old daughter is making some tell-tale moves toward our ultimate goal: potty-training. Without much encouragement orpotty-pink.jpg nudging from me, she has suddenly taken a huge interest in all things potty-related. (I’m guessing she’s hitting the milestone a little early, thanks to the steady stream of big brothers she sees going in and out of the bathroom.) So why am I not climbing to the top of our jungle gym and shouting joyfully to the world that we’re just a few weeks away from TOTAL DIAPER FREEDOM? What’s wrong with me?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I’m really busy this week, preparing for 20 or so relatives to drive and fly in from hundreds of miles away to celebrate Thanksgiving at our house this year. Did you miss that number? I said 20, as in TWENTY PEOPLE who are expecting to eat. Not just eat, but “dine” on really good food that doesn’t come in a take-out box from P.F. Chang’s or Dixie Café. For a woman comfortable whipping up traditional classics in the kitchen, this would be no problem. For a woman like me whose go-to dinner entrée is macaroni and cheese straight out of the Kraft box, it’s sort of a big, anxiety-inducing deal.

Last year we hosted Thanksgiving last year for lots of people and no one left with food poisoning. Apparently they liked it enough to come back for more this year, so that should give me confidence. But I’m going to need every bit of time I can get between now and November 27th to get things ready. There’s an insane amount of grocery shopping to do, not to mention lots of prep work in the kitchen. Of course I’ll have to spend at least a day or so cleaning and organizing the house so we can deceive our relatives into thinking our house is immaculate, orderly and smells like a heavenly mix of cinnamon and banana bread.

What I don’t have time for this week is the intense focus that potty-training demands. Here’s a little nugget of parenting truth you won’t read in any of the how-to books. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the child’s readiness is all you need to be successful in this transition. It’s just as important that the parents be equally ready to take the leap.

There are lots of checklists that will help a mom decide if her kid is ready to potty-train. But there ought to be a checklist for moms, too. Something like: “Are you ready to spend the next few days (most likely weeks) closely monitoring your child’s fluid intake, facial expressions and subtle body language so you can help her race to the nearest potty in time? Are you ready to sit in the bathroom reading the book “Potty Time with Elmo” multiple times while your kid sits happily on the toilet, pretending she needs to go when actually she’s just enjoying the extended story time? Are you ready to either stay home for several days straight or risk an “accident” at the grocery store?

No matter how badly you want to ditch the diapers, if you can’t answer “yes” to all those questions, you may have a problem. An experienced mother knows you can’t just dabble at potty-training and be successful. You’ve got to really commit to the job and embrace the reality that it can be a time-consuming, messy process – a process that does not necessarily mesh well with 20 relatives coming for Thanksgiving.

So that leaves me with a dilemma: Do I try to potty-train my darling girl and get ready for Thanksgiving at the same time (knowing full well that I’ll be a crazy woman long before the turkey ever comes out of the oven)? Or do I keep her in diapers a week or so longer, hoping beyond hope that this magical window of opportunity will still be open when the last piece of pumpkin pie is gone? These are the questions that try a mother’s soul. Perhaps the answer will come to me while I’m making the grocery list.

From my family to yours, have a blessed (and accident-free) Thanksgiving.

A Ring is Born!


“I would have a mother’s ring made that has plenty of big diamonds surrounding the birthstones.” ~ Lisa

“I would have my grandparents’ weddings rings made into a ring for my mom. She would love that.” ~ Lindy

“I would redesign my wedding ring… The new design would have a wider band, to show how our love has grown in the past 20 + years…” ~ Patti

Those were just a few of the wonderful, touching responses we received this week when we asked the question “What piece of custom jewelry would you have made if money were no object?” Thanks so much for offering a glimpse into what you’d design for yourself or someone you love. Well, we think all your good comments and e-mails deserve an equally good story about a phenomenal ring created by Underwood’s for a fellow mother who lives hundreds of miles away. She did it all by phone, Internet and e-mail.

Dee Velvin lives in Dallas and had never laid eyes on the beautiful Underwood’s building on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas. But when a friend in Dallas told her about the nationally-recognized jeweler, she called the store and asked if they could help her upgrade her wedding ring in honor of her 10-year wedding anniversary. Craig Underwood took that call, and that’s how the story began years ago. They worked via phone and e-mail without meeting in person.

Dee was so happy with her upgraded wedding ring that she and her husband continued to buy pieces from Underwood’s and even recommended that Dee’s father call Underwood’s when he wanted to design a special sapphire ring for Dee’s mother. The sapphire ring was born via phone conversations and e-mail messages between Dee’s dad and Craig Underwood, who would send detailed photos to make sure he was on the right track for creating the perfect ring.

When Dee and her husband inherited a ring from his great grandmother a few years ago, they knew exactly who they wanted to update it and enhance the diamond’s family history. They shipped it off to Underwood’s, where Craig analyzed the diamond and recommended it be re-cut to give it more sparkle. Then he suggested different designs that would best fit the diamond’s cut and color. When Craig sent Dee a photo of this original Underwood’s design (pictured above) she fell in love with it. It was the perfect combination of modern elegance and old-world beauty she’d been hoping for. After years of sitting in a safe-deposit box, the diamond was reborn.

“I get compliments on this ring a lot because it’s something you don’t see all the time,” Dee said. “It really is special.”

Last summer, Dee paid a visit to the birthplace of her custom ring for the first time when she was in Arkansas to pick up her daughter from summer camp. “Everybody there (at Underwood’s) is just wonderful. They really take care of you.”

So for those of you dreaming of a special piece of jewelry you’d like to have made, check out the Underwood’s website for more info on custom creations. Or call Craig Underwood at 479-521-2000.

Gold Mine Giveaway Winner Announced!

Gold Mine Giveaway Graphic

We absolutely loved reading all of the heart-felt comments from nwaMotherlode readers about what piece of custom jewelry they’d love to have if money were no object. There were so many great stories about jewelry being passed down through the generations and the desire to have new pieces designed so they could be passed down in the future.

pearlpendant.JPGAnd, of course, we heard about your strong desire to win the 9 millimeter Tahitian Black Pearl pendant on a 16-inch sparkle chain in 14-kt yellow gold from Underwood’s Fine Jewelers in Fayetteville.

The lucky winner is … Lane Brown of Centerton! Lane, mother to 3-year-old Sterling, first heard about nwaMotherlode at Candy Cane Lane last weekend when she stopped by our booth to chat. She sent a message out to quite a few of her friends about the giveaway and CC’d the mamas to increase her chances. It really paid off!

Like many of our winners, Lane said she “never” wins anything and was stunned to get the news.

She plans to pick up her brand new necklace sometime before close on Saturday. “I want to wear it to church on Sunday!” she said.

Hair: “Help Me Rhonda” on salon prices

Dear Rhonda,

I go to the salon on average once every 4 to 6 weeks for various things. Cut/color on one visit, color only on the second, cut/color/highlight on the third visit, and then just a bang trim. It seems that every time I go in the door, my colorist/stylist changes her prices! Is this how it’s generally done? Wake up one morning and decide to re-price everything? I love the job she does but it makes it really hard to budget my money. Any advice?

Dear Checkbook quandary,

This is a really great question, so thanks for asking it. Your stylist/colorist should have some set prices for various services. At times these prices may vary when prices for color supplies go up for the stylist/colorist. Like most retail stores, a beauty supplier does not send out anything letting stylists know when they’re implementing an increase. Color supplies have become very expensive over the last six months. It might really surprise you to know how much one tube of color costs a colorist. Remember, it’s not just the tube of color you, the client, are paying for. It’s also the experience and knowledge of your stylist/colorist. That’s worth a million if you’ve ever suffered through a really bad color job!

If I were you, here’s what I’d do: Talk openly about your concern with your stylist. Let her know you’re trying to maintain a budget and need to stay within some pre-set boundaries. She’ll certainly appreciate your honesty and should give you a menu of pricing so you’ll know the least and the most you’ll be charged for individual services. I agree with you that it’s very frustrating to get that final charge and be slapped in the face with a whopping amount! But I also bet that when you look in the mirror and your hair looks great, you’ll think it’s worth it and so are you.

Rhonda Moulder is a mama to two beautiful daughters and is also a stylist at Blue Door & Co. in downtown Bentonville. E-mail her a hair question at or call for an appointment at the salon at 479-273-4433. Have a happy hair day.

Life With Ladybug

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mother

lbfairy032.gifYesterday afternoon I ran out the front door on my way to a holiday event — barefoot. My black high heels were still in the car from the last work thing I’d attended. I’d slipped them off in the car in favor of a cushy pair.

When I stuck my right foot into the shoe I could feel something weird near my big toe. Upon further examination, I saw that it was a petrified French fry. I looked around my car and saw exactly how a greasy, hardened French fry could end up in my shoe. You see, it’s a little harried around here right now and we’re scarfing down way too many take-out meals. When you pull up to a drive-through and have to throw away three used cups to make room for the next one, you’re eating out way too freaking much. At least I know I’m not alone. Fast-food restaurants never used to have trash cans near the drive-through window, but now they all do. Because people are practically living out of their cars!

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, I’m busy. I know, I know, who isn’t, right? We busy ourselves to death. Right now I’m really paying for it with the kid. She has been a bit, er, argumentative lately. Yes, I know she’s at an age where she’s learning waaaay too many smarty pants phrases at school (“Uh, yeah, mom, I get it”), but she’s really over the top lately. The other night as we drove home from a fun birthday party she got mad because I said no when she asked to go to Red Robin for dinner. I wanted to scream at her about being ungrateful, how she just got finished with a birthday party, for gosh sakes, not to mention all the other fun things we’d done over the weekend, but I resisted the urge and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

When she started kicking the back of the seat in a tantrum reminiscent of her 2-year-old self, I broke. Through clenched teeth, I hissed: “If you say another word about Red Robin or say another rude thing to me, or kick the seat, or yell, or whine (you gotta be specific, what with all the loopholes this kind of ultimatum can have) you will go straight to time out when we get home and stay there for a very, very, very long time.” And then I added, because Lord knows we sometimes fail to follow through, “And I mean it!”

Within seconds she was making sounds which would definitely not qualify her for a loophole. I didn’t say a word. When I stopped the car at home, I got out to escort her to her bedroom. To prevent that, she transformed into a living boulder and clung to her booster seat. It took all my strength (she’s 50-something pounds and I’m really short) but I hauled her screaming Linda B Blair self out of the car and into her room. My blood pressure was so high I thought I might have a stroke any minute. She stayed in her room (after the half-drag, half-carry it took to get her there) and I took deep breaths in the kitchen. When my husband made a move to go into the room, I halted him with a scathing look that said, “I started this, I’ll finish it.”

At one point, she yelled out, “You don’t care one thing about me, mother! Not one teeny tiny bit!” I recall the transition from using the words mom and mama to MOTHER when I was a teenager.
In the end I asked my husband to go in to talk to her. After he chatted with her for a long time she came out, contrite, to apologize. I still felt quite disgruntled, but said “Of course” when she asked if I would forgive her. Good example and all that.

Understatement of the year: Sometimes this mothering thing is just … hard.