Calendar of Events: January 2014

last night imageLast Night Fayetteville

Date: Dec. 31

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Fayetteville Square

More info: Click here

Winter Break Wonders at Crystal Bridges Museum

Art projects, pop-up playgrounds, family tours and performances.

Date: Through Jan. 5

Time: Varies

Location: Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville

More info: Click here

Sing-a-Long Sound of Music

sound-of-music-singalong-with-dateDate: Jan. 10

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Shatner’s World

Date: Jan. 11

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

New 2014 Titanic exhibit, Branson, Mo.

Date: Starts Jan. 17

Time: Varies

Location: Branson, Mo.

More info: Click here

Broadway on Ice

Date: Jan. 17

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

paint the townPaint the Town Red

Date: Jan 25

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Fayetteville Town Center

More info: Click here

Mealtime Mama: Hobo Soup


My family and I went to a holiday cookie decorating party a week or so ago and the host, Robert Williams, served this soup.

It was just perfect for a cold day and when Robert said it was super easy, I (Shannon) had to ask for the recipe, of course. I’m all about yummy and easy. If you’re having a low-key New Year’s Eve party, this might be a good fit. You can make it in the Crockpot, heat through, then leave it on simmer while the party’s in swing.

Hobo Soup

Two pounds ground beef

2 cans Ranch style beans

3 cans minestrone soup

2 cans Veg-All

1 can Ro-tel

1 can Italian-seasoned tomatoes

1 tablespoon Greek seasoning (Cavender’s)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Brown ground beef, add to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and heat through on low. Turn down to simmer to keep warm.

ONF store

Top 5 reasons to put guests in a hotel

5. Your guests won’t need to worry that they’re inconveniencing you.

We love it when we have out-of-town guests here for a visit. And some of keep calmyou might really, really want those relatives/friends to stay at your house when they come to visit, and that’s great. If it works well for you and the guests, everybody is happy.

BUT…there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting guests up in a nearby hotel room either. I’ve done it both ways so I’ve learned that there are definitely some benefits of the hotel option — both for you as the hostess and especially for the guests.

When I travel, I always want to make sure I’m not creating too much work or hassle for the people I’m staying with. Your guests feel the same way. So staying in a hotel often solves that anxiety because there’s automatically less work for the hostess to do which allows both you and your guests to relax and enjoy the holiday.

4. You won’t have the added pressure of being “on” for 24 hours a day.

I have a friend who always quoted this line during the holidays: “Fish and house guests start to stink after 3 days.” Let’s face it: After several days of entertaining house guests, everyone gets a little worn out. But when your guests stay at a hotel and just spend chunks of time at your house, extended visits are much more enjoyable because everybody gets a little break at the end of the day.

hotel bathroom3. Your guests can make a mess and hotel housekeeping can deal with it.

You know how careful you are when you’re staying at someone else’s house? You want to be sure that you don’t leave a mess behind, and you’re quick to jump in and help with dishes, straighten up any toys your kids play with, etc.

When you put your guests into a hotel, you’re giving them the gift of being able to be a total slob for a few days because hotel housekeeping will be there to clean up. Everybody wins. :-)

2. Your guests can enjoy more of the city.

Sometimes when people stay at your house, they don’t feel as free to come and go as they please. Having your guests at a nearby hotel gives them the luxury of being able to control their own schedule and go out for a little sightseeing or shopping when they feel like it. It feels more like a combination of family visit AND vacation.

If you choose one of the hotels surrounding the Pinnacle Hills Promenade, for example, your guests can easily sneak in a little holiday shopping while they’re here. Or they can take their kids skating at the outdoor rink at the mall. Or they can try a new restaurant or do any of these activities on your town’s “Things to Do” list.

1. Everybody needs a little space and downtime.

do not disturb signHaving your guests stay in a hotel is especially good if you happen to have some family dynamics which create tension. If your uncle always starts an argument or your mother can’t help but make a running commentary about your husband or kids, it’s often a blessing to have a little extra space instead of having everyone right on top of each other for days on end.

Also, consider that if you have small kids in your house and your guests aren’t used to that, they might be really grateful for a little downtime away from all the holiday chaos. Sometimes having a few hours in a quiet hotel room makes it much easier for them to embrace the festivities when it’s time for the holidays’ big events.

On the flip side of that, if your visiting guests have a baby, they might LOVE the idea of having a quiet hotel room to go back to when it’s time for the baby’s all-important nap. We all know how hard it is to keep babies on their schedules during the holidays.

Cost is always a factor when it comes to putting guests in a hotel, but the good news is that local hotels offer great deals around the holidays. Call the front desk of any hotel and ask about specials or promotions they might have, and try to get rooms close together if you have multiple guests coming into town.

Hope these reasons help you give yourself permission to put guests in a local hotel, if that’s what works best for you and for them. Having a little “hotel back-up” often makes the whole holiday run smoothly and adds an extra element of vacation fun.


Devotion in Motion:

14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

15 My times are in thy hand.

Psalm 31:14, 15a  (King James Version)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Well, today’s column is being brought about by a number of remarkable “firsts”.  This is my first column that I’ve ever typed aboard a moving bus. (I’m on my way to visit some relatives for the Christmas season.) Also, it’ll be the first column ever sent to my editor over the World Wide Web via the wi-fi network on a moving bus.  Pretty remarkable, don’t you think?

Sometimes I stop and think about how much things have changed since I first became a country preacher almost 30 years ago. I don’t think that back then I could have even conceived of having a computer small enough to use on a bus or of busses providing electrical receptacles for electronic devices. I had no idea back then that I’d be writing for a magazine that would never be printed on paper, but that people all over the world would read on portable telephones. My, my, how times have changed!

When Susan and I were first married, her mother said, “John, you are such a tranquil person. You just seem like you would like to have things be exactly the same every day.” Well, I don’t know about the “tranquil” part, but I will tell you that I am a person who really doesn’t like for things to change. I’ve had a lot of happiness in my life, and I would love to always be surrounded by the people and places that I love. I’ve always wished that things would stay the same, and that happy times and the people that I love would never go away.

But I’ve undergone a change in thinking over the past several years. Once when I was lamenting to my sister Cathie about how much I hated change, she pointed out to me that in this life change is the only thing that we can be certain of. And because she said that, I had a realization that I’d never had before. It’s foolish to hate and resist change—because change is the only sure thing in this life.

So, I stopped trying to hang on to the past. Instead I’m trying to remember and cherish the past, and to learn from it. And I’m doing my best to use every good change that comes along to try to make this world more the way our Lord would have it be. I plan on doing my best in this world (that never stays the same), so that one day I can exchange it for a Home that never changes. It’s just like the martyred missionary Jim Elliot once wrote “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

In this good New Year, let’s strive to do our best. Let’s make to most of every new thing that our Saviour brings into our lives in 2014.

Gotta run now.  The bus driver has stopped the bus for a bathroom break.  I’ve got to buy some earbuds so I can listen to some mp3s….)

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher and his wife were happy to have all their kids at home this Christmas.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 22) and his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

The Rockwood Files: A snowy dilemma

rockwoodfiles2-205x300Note: This column was written earlier this month during that LONG snowy week out of school. Enjoy.

Sure, I was dreaming of a white Christmas. We all were. It had been about two years since we’d seen those big, fluffy flakes float soundlessly to the ground, and it was lovely to watch a blanket of white cover the front yard last week.

But that was then, and this is now – Day 7 of Snowmageddon. We just got the news that tomorrow will be another snow day for the kids. They’re upstairs right now rejoicing because there’s no need to get to bed on time tonight. I’m slightly less enthusiastic, for reasons that only other mothers who are cooped up with a house full of kids can understand.

But on that first day when the snow fell, I was just as ecstatic as the kids. Snow days are the perfect excuse to take a nice, deep breath. And the timing couldn’t have been better.

The weeks before Christmas typically feel like an all-out sprint to get everything done – rushing in a million different directions to deck the halls, bake the cookies and host the parties. So it’s lovely to have an automatic excuse to slow down, miss a meeting or two and sit by the Christmas tree while snow presses “pause” on the usual hustle and bustle.

The second snow day was also fun because it came on Adam’s 12th birthday. When we gave him the news that he could sleep in and goof off on his birthday, his smile was nearly as big as the snow drifts. It was as if Mother Nature had sent him a birthday present tied up with a big snowy bow.

snowflakeHis father was nearly as happy as he was. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, my husband is no stranger to snow. He turns into a boy again when the snow starts to fall, so he bundled up with the kids and they all forged out into the winter wonderland.

They went sledding, had snowball fights and built what was supposed to be a snowman. They got too cold shortly after they started the snowman and came inside to warm up, so the snowman never made it past the “snow mound” stage. I snapped photos through the window because, unlike Tom, I’m a true Southerner and I prefer to be a snow observer rather than a freezing participant.

While the kids played in the snow, I made my mother’s recipe for Hot Spiced Tea Punch and sipped steaming cups of it all day as I wrapped Christmas gifts and listened to holiday music. The first few days of being snowed in were exactly what I needed.

But now, what I really need is to get to my salon appointment tomorrow. And I don’t care if I have to rent a snow plow to do it. If I don’t get my hair colored tomorrow, I’ll have to spend another week walking around with what looks like snow on my roots, and, believe me, that kind of snow is not nearly as pretty as the stuff on the front lawn.

The weather forecast says temperatures should rise above freezing tomorrow with sunny skies, so hopefully we’ll get a much-needed thaw. As great as it is to take a break from our hectic routine, there are things to do and places to go. And if the kids don’t get back to school soon, there’s a good chance they’ll get nothing but coal in their stockings this year.

So here’s a little poetic request for Mother Nature:

“Thanks for the snow!

We enjoyed it for days.

But please send back the sun,

So I can cover my grays!”

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

What We’re Reading: Books to read on your holiday break

If you’ve got a few days off to enjoy the holidays — and you’re a book lover — you may be looking for some good reads.

Here are a few we’ve enjoyed recently.

If you’re in a rut:


Start by Jon Acuff. Jon has been the keynote speaker at several conferences we’ve attended and we think he’s great. This is a good book to read if you’d like to Start something new. This is not a quit-your-job-and-go-nuts book; it’s more a kick in the pants to go from average to awesome.

If you like your books with mysterious twist…

book don't go

Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline. This author pretty much delivers no matter what the book. This one is from a dad’s — and soldier’s — perspective. Here’s a summary: “When Dr. Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby.  And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer. However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparent household accident.”

If you like to read humorous memoirs about motherhood:


Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. This is Melanie Shankle’s memoir about first motherhood written in a funny, engaging way. It also captures the quirkiness she shares on her blog, Big Mama. And Melanie is coming out with a new book that sounds hilarious called: The Antelope in the Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life. Here’s the cover:



Pet Parenting: My dog is itching like crazy

petparent6-no-sponsorDear Denise,

My dog is itching like crazy, but he doesn’t have fleas and I’m not seeing any obvious problems on his skin. All that scratching is making him — and us! — a little crazy. Any idea what could be wrong?

Dear Mama:

I generally don’t like to answer questions that appear to be about health, as I am not a vet, and your personal vet is an excellent resource for addressing the health of your animal. However, it seems I get this question pretty frequently, especially in the winter.

itchy dogYour problem could stem from a variety of things. It could be allergies (food, environment, fleas- even one bite is enough to set off a reaction in an allergic dog), dry skin, or maybe you didn’t rinse all the shampoo out of the coat last time your dog had a bath.

If it’s allergies, you’ll probably need your vet to help you solve that one. If it’s a bad rinse, then a more thorough rinsing followed by a second rinse with vinegar and water may help remove any soap residue.

If it’s dry skin, there are a number of things you can try. A coat conditioner, either after a bath or between, some sort of coat enhancing supplement available at pet stores or through your vet, or you can try adding a little bit of oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, coconut) to your pet’s food each day to up the intake of essential fatty acids.

My dog, Henri, gets a little bit of coconut oil most days just because I love him. You could also try a raw or poached egg twice a week, as eggs are a great source of amino acids, which are also good for the skin. If you go the oil or egg route, you should see some relief in a few weeks. If you don’t, you probably need to investigate allergies as a likely culprit and make an appointment with you vet.

Happy Holidays!

Denise HolmesDenise Holmes loves animals and considers it her life’s work to help pets and their people live together in harmony. She trains pets through her business, Ain’t Misbehavin’ Pet Behavior Counseling. Denise also developed a product just for brand-new moms that’s available at some retail outlets around NWA. It’s a CD called My New Best Friend and features actual newborn baby sounds and is designed to help introduce the family pet to a new baby.

Beauty Buzz: Andi helps families create a ‘picture perfect’ look for holiday shots

By Andi Douglas, nwaMotherlode beauty editor

‘Tis the season to force your family into matching outfits and place them in nauseatingly adorable poses in an attempt to capture the perfect picture holiday shots.

Since it is hard enough to get everyone in one shot without any blurry toddler hands or scowling teens, you want to at least start out with the right look.

Gone are the days of a whole family in chambray shirts (admit it, you’ve done this) or all black turtlenecks. Family photographers now recommend bright colors that coordinate but don’t match.

Pick a color theme that works for everyone.

My family looks good in blue, so we usually stay in that family, but reds or greys seriously wash out a few of us.

Adding layers, like scarves and jackets, adds a level of depth to the picture and can provide easy props for some action shots.

When I get dressed up for somethin’ fancy, I dig out my nighttime makeup that has some sparkle to it.

This is a major no-no when it comes to having your picture made, since the camera and flash will magnify every grain of glitter. If you have a teenage girl in your house, it would behoove you to sneak in the day before pictures and confiscate anything that has the word “fairy” in the description or has visible chunks of glitter in it. Remember, those sneaky sparkles like to hide in products like bronzers, blush, and lip gloss.

Enhance your natural features by strategically highlighting your eyes and cheeks. Use a darker shade, like a bronzer, under your cheekbones, under your chin, along either side of your nose and along the outer corners of your forehead. Apply a lighter color to the tops of your cheeks, the corners of your eyes (right by the bridge of your nose) and right under your eyebrows.

Please, please, practice this at home before picture day.

Go outside and take a couple of tests shots in natural light. You will be able to see instantly where you may have over applied or accidentally made your nose look needle thin.

Switch your eyeliner and mascara from the more subtle browns to black. The contrast created with black mascara and eyeliner will make your eyes pop.  Also, use a shimmery gloss on top of your lipstick to create a natural pout.

Don’t forget about the men in the family, especially the poor teenage boys who generally resist wearing makeup to cover the battle with their hormones and the effect it has on their skin. Oil absorbing facial tissues like Clean & Clear Oil Control Blotting Papers will fit discretely in your guys pocket and will keep a shiny t-zone from stealing the spotlight.

For pimples, blemishes or a razor cut, a little concealer will do the trick. But if that’s too “makeup-py” there are several tinted spot treatments that clearly fall under the medicine category.

Remember that the best way to catch a winning photo is to be natural and try to have fun. Oh, and use Photoshop and lots of bribes!

Cute gifts at Ozark Natural Foods

If you’re running out to Ozark Natural Foods for last-minute ingredients or just to pick up another quart of milk, remember you can also find some pretty cool gift items while you’re grocery shopping.

Look at all the cute things we’ve spotted at Ozark Natural Foods lately — cute Zum soaps, Blue Q coin purses, roll-on perfume by Love & Toast, mineral fusion nail polish, Freaker bottle coozie, Every Man Jack Body Bar, and even organic chocolate lollipops shaped like Santa! Use them as gifts, stocking stuffers or both!

gift collage1Click HERE to see descriptions and prices on all the items pictured above. They’re all outlined in the Ozark Natural Foods Holiday Gift Guide.

Happy shopping!



Mamas on Magic 107.9: Christmas Week!

Can you believe this is Christmas week? It came so quickly this year.

During this week’s Mamas on Magic 107.9 radio segments, we’re talking about all those last-minute preparations, memories of Christmas Eve, favorite gifts on Christmas Day and so much more.

Listen to Magic 107.9 at 7:45 a.m. each weekday to hear the segments, or click the links below to catch up online.

Monday’s segment:

Tuesday’s segment:

Devotion in Motion: Don’t miss it

16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Ephesians 5:16 (NLT)

 By Bro. John L. Cash

I’m writing you a short devotion this morning, because I know you have other fish to fry. You probably don’t have a lot of extra time for reading, because ready-or-not, Christmas is upon us. So, I just want to give you a quick bit of advice today.

Whenever I’m conducting a wedding ceremony, I always begin by covering my lapel microphone and giving counsel to the nervous bride and groom. I tell them, “Look, you’ve spent months planning this celebration. Now we’re at the wedding. This thing is going to happen fast. In 20 minutes the wedding will be over. This is a beautiful, beautiful post it notetime in your life. So you both need to relax. Take a deep breath, and pay close attention, and enjoy these minutes. Because if you don’t calm down, you’re going to miss it.”

That’s my standard pastoral advice for weddings. And for you, today, it’s my standard advice for Christmas.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” The blessings of the Season are about to be poured out upon you. Slow down and open your eyes and your heart so you can drink them in.

Christmas. It’s going to happen fast. Calm down, or you’re going to miss it.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (which is a beautiful place to celebrate the joys of Christmas.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22) and his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

The Rockwood Files: Ailing wise men and flaming angels

rockwoodfiles2-205x300By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

‘Twas the day before Christmas when I got a splinter in my eye that nearly ruined everything. I was 7 years old and all set to be Wise Man No. 1 in the annual church Christmas play the next day.

What first felt like a pesky eyelash soon began to feel like a fence post jabbing at my eye. I rubbed, blinked, cried. Nothing worked. That night, it woke me from a deep sleep.

The morning before the show, my mother took me to the doctor to resolve the problem once and for all. The doctor ordered me to lie down on a table and then turned my eyelid inside out for a better look.

His eyes widened and he quickly said, “My God… Nurse, come look at this.” I panicked. I felt like a science experiment gone wrong. My mother was sure I was either going blind or dying or both.

The “foreign object” (a fancy doctor-term for splinter), had left an impressive number of eye scratches, so the doctor covered half my face with a huge eye patch. I thought the patch was pretty cool until I remembered my approaching stage debut. How could I go on as Wise Man No. 1 looking like I’d just survived a bad camel crash?

The doctor said it was fine to go on with the show, telling my mother I might be a little clumsy while adjusting to the patch.

There weren’t enough kids in the church to find a replacement, so my mother said we’d tell people a desert storm blew sand in my eye on the way to see Baby Jesus. That evening, I put on my robes and headed for church.

With the candlelight service set to begin, I lined up right behind the Angels on High and prepared for the procession down the church aisle toward our cardboard stable. Some of the older kids playing Mary and Joseph had already taken their places by the manger in front of the pulpit.

candle litThe pianist started playing “Silent Night” which was our cue to start down the aisle carrying our lit candles. It was all going so well until I smelled smoke.

In my haste to get down the aisle, I got my candle a little too close to the lacy wings of Angel No. 3 right in front of me. My depth perception was a little off with the patch and all. A church deacon spotted the trouble as we passed his pew and he quickly grabbed the angel and started beating her smoldering wings. Angel No. 3 didn’t even realize her wings had been ignited, so the beating scared her half to death. The procession of angels and wise men came to a thudding halt.

After Angel No. 3 was thoroughly checked out by her mother, our Sunday School teacher decided we should begin the procession again in a desperate attempt to save the remainder of the play.

Angel No. 3, with her charred wings, was promoted to the front of the line so she wouldn’t have to stand near me, the half-blind Wise Man who nearly torched her the first time. And my mother blew my candle out before I started down the aisle again, just to be on the safe side.

The second procession attempt went perfectly, and we made it to the manger just fine. The narrator was wrapping up when my friend, Wise Man No. 2, started to look pale and shaky. She had always been the kind of kid who got sick when she was nervous, and I guess the flaming angel incident combined with stage fright took its toll on her stomach.

She dropped her myrrh, covered her mouth for a moment and then brushed me aside as she attempted to leave the stage. She made it as far as the manger and then threw up all over everything, including the Rub-A-Dub doll that was being used as Baby Jesus.

Mary and Joseph turned as white as the fake sheep, and the narrator quickly ended the play by saying, “We hope you’ve enjoyed our play.” The audience didn’t know whether to clap, laugh or call emergency medical personnel.

It’s been more than 20 years since that Christmas play, and it’s still one of the most memorable in church history – the half-blind wise man, the flaming angel and the wise man who tossed her cookies in the manger. There will never be another Christmas play quite like it.

From my family to yours, have a very blessed Christmas.

Funny Friday: Star in your own holiday video

If you didn’t get around to doing Christmas cards this year and want to send your friends and family a funny video instead, you can make one — starring the members of your family — and email it to whoever you like or post to Facebook. It costs about $18 but that gets you access to the website to make and share more videos for a full year.

I can tell you that, after making this one with the faces of my crew, your kids will LOVE these videos. My kids are still laughing hysterically about this “sled race” video we just made. (Click the play arrow below to see it.) Go to the JibJab website if you want to check out the different video options and play around with it.

JumpZone Stocking Stuffer

jumpzone 2013We LOVE this idea for a last minute stocking stuffer. Right now JumpZone is offering a 6 Jump Multi-Pass for $20 that will let you bring 1 child in for a play session SIX different times. (No expiration date!) OR you can bring 6 kids in for one visit.

We really like that this pass has some built-in flexibility, and it’s a great idea for kids who love to run and jump and are sick of being cooped up inside during the holiday break.

If your kids are literally “bouncing off the walls,” then this is a stocking stuffer you need and the kids will love. But hurry because the sale on these Multi-Passes ends on December 23rd.

Call JumpZone at 479-202-4476 for more info on this sale.

Merry Christmas and Happy Jumping!