Celebrate the Holidays in Hill Country with JW Marriott Resort

jwhillcountryxmasJW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa offers a nightly light display with thousands of twinkling lights synchronized to music, Elf School where participants learn the secrets of an elf’s life and become “certified JW elves” and a polar plunge into the resort’s one non-heated pool with prizes for the day’s wackiest plunge.

Nestled in the Texas Hill Country on the edge of San Antonio, which enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, the season comes alive with experiences at the resort for all ages.  Whether it is a getaway for couples or families during the holidays or home base for those visiting friends and families in the San Antonio area, there are decorations, food offerings and activities to delight the young and the young at heart.

Holiday rates offer significant savings and start at just $199, which is a 40% savings from high season rates.   Visit www.jwhillcountryholidays.com for more information.

HILL COUNTRY HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES:
Saturday, November 22, 2014 thru Wednesday, December 31, 2014

* JW Illumination
Enjoy thousands of twinkling lights choreographed to joyful holiday sounds as you stroll through our outdoor wonderland with a cup of rich, hot cocoa. The perfect companion to a wintry night!
When: Annual Lighting Ceremony – Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 5:30PM
o Nightly shows from 6:30PM to 10PM; 5 minute light show every 20 minutes
• Complimentary for guests and visitors

Friday, November 28, 2014 thru Wednesday, December 24, 2014

* Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus ($)
Enjoy breakfast at 18 Oaks with none other than Santa, Mrs. Claus and the JW Elves.
Cost: $35 Adults / $25 Children ages 4 – 12 (Tax & Gratuity included)
When: Saturday mornings (Check experience schedule for times)
Location: 18 Oaks – Reservations required at 210-483-6653

* Elf Tuck-in ($)
Our playful elves are ready to make a special visit with your child and tuck them into bed.
Cost: $20 per child, ages 4-12. Includes a keepsake for each child.
When: Friday & Saturday nights; 8pm to 10pm
Location: Guest’s room – Reservations required at 210-483-6622satjw_holidays_phototour05* JW Sounds of the Season
Angel Chorus – local school choirs to perform weeknights in December.
Yuletide Carolers – Strolling carolers performing weekends in December.
Radio Rudolph – Keep the holiday spirit with our simultaneous broadcast of the JW Illumination soundtrack on your guest room FM radio. Nightly, 6:30PM-10PM.

* Keep Calm and Plunge On Contest With Lifeguard Elves ($)
Freezing water + freezing weather = the perfect scenario for a Polar Bear! Or…for those who are brave enough to jump into the one pool we decided to not heat this winter. Prizes will be given for the wackiest plunge and for any selfie shared at #JWMARRIOTTSANANTONIO
Cost: Complimentary to participate; $20 for commemorative T-Shirt
When: Saturdays at 9am from November 22-December 31
Location: River Bluff Water Experience – Adult Pool

* Kids’ Night Out ($)
While parents are away the kids will play! Range Riders Kids’ Club will be transformed into a
different fun filled themed party and dinner. From 6pm-10pm children will enjoy creative
activities and games, and receive a special keepsake.
Cost: $65 per child with dinner included, ages 4-12.
When: Check experience schedule for dates
Location: Range Riders Kids’ Club – Reservations recommended

*Making of a Certified JW Marriott San Antonio Elf ($)
Come learn the secrets of the magical and mischievous lives of Santa’s elves AND all good girls and boys will be named honorary JW Elves for the 2014 holiday season.
Cost: $35 includes holiday keepsake
When: Saturdays from 4pm-5pm
Location: Texas Library

* Santa’s Workshop
Write a special letter to Santa and he may just respond with a special note during your stay! Create a masterpiece depicting your favorite JW Hill Country holiday memory and enter the holiday art contest. Select artwork will be chosen for a complimentary one-night stay during the 2015 holiday season.
Cost: Complimentary
o Meet with JW Elves
o Write a letter to Santa
o Enter the JW holiday art contest
When: Check experience schedule for dates and times
Location: Texas Library

* Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus ($)
Take your photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Cost: $25 per flash drive containing up to 5 photos
When: Saturday nights
Location: Texas Library
Formal family portrait available by appointment only. Call 210-483-6647 for reservations.

* Holiday S’mores
Experience a real Texas tradition with a holiday twist. Gooey marshmallows, graham crackers and sweet peppermint bark chocolate! Regular chocolate will also be available.
Cost: Complimentary
When: Fridays & Saturdays; 5pm-6pm
Location: North Fire Pit

* Story Time with the Elves
The North Pole has sent some expert story readers to share memorable stories with little listeners.
Cost: Complimentary
When: Friday & Saturday nights
Location: Texas Librarysatjw_holidays_phototour03* Tinsel’s Treasures
Teaching children the Spirit of Giving during the holiday season is our JW Elves most favorite thing. Bring your children by Tinsel’s Treasures for a chance to select trinkets for someone very special to them.
Cost: $5- $20
When: Check experience schedule for dates and times
Location: Outside Texas Library

The Hill Country and San Antonio offer rich cultural holiday experiences for everyone.  A few highlights include:

Light the Way, November 22, 2014January 6, 2014: Nearly a million lights decorate the University of Incarnate Word campus.

Holiday Parade, November 28, 2014 at 7PMFor over 30 years, this spectacular one-hour parade along San Antonio’s River Walk has featured illuminated floats with celebrities, bands and lavishly-costumed participants.

La Gran Tamalada, December 14, 2014: At the annual tamal-making community party known as La Gran Tamalada, you’ll get hands-on experience from community tamaleras and enjoy San Antonio storytelling at its finest. Every holiday season, participants of all ages learn valuable methods and techniques in this informative and highly entertaining workshop at the historic Guadalupe Theater.

Hecho a Mano, December 5 – 7, 2014: A three-day festival that features an array of handcrafted specialty items that encompass both traditional and contemporary styles by mostly local and regional artists.

Fredericksburg, driving distance from the resort, is picture-perfect and known as the heart of the Texas Hill Country and offers German traditions, timeless holiday décor and four weeks of festive holiday entertainment during the holidays. Enjoy ice skating, marveling at the 30-foot Christmas tree and 26-foot German Christmas pyramid at Marktplatz.

Microsoft Opening in Dallas

RPMMicrosoftStoreMicrosoft opened its newest and largest store in the nation last weekend, November 8, 2014 in NorthPark Center in Dallas. The opening marked the 106th Microsoft store and the 10th in Texas. “NorthPark was a place we have wanted to be in for a long time,” said Store Manager Mike Williams. “We just couldn’t find the right deal but right now is the perfect time to be here.” The 5,323 square foot store is located between Nordstrom and Macy’s and not too far from the Apple store.Microsoft openingThousands of people were lined up early Saturday morning for the official grand opening ceremony that started at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The first 2,500 people in line for the ribbon cutting ceremony received a pair of tickets to see Tim McGraw and The Band Perry perform live at 1PM. Some people camped out in the mall’s parking lot in order to be the first 100 in line to win a Meet and Greet with performer Tim McGraw prior to the concert.microsoftstoretexasopeningOn hand for the opening ceremony were Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Darren Laybourn and Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins. As part of the grand opening, Microsoft donated a software grant to community organizations more than double the size of its usual amount. The company’s technology grants totaled $2,125,000 and checks were presented to representatives from the following organizations:

MicrosoftProductsThe store offers an assortment of products including Windows 8.1 desktops, tablets, laptops, Windows Phone devices, Xbox One, Office 365, Surface Pro 3, and W HP’s Sprout.  Also available are Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a PC with built-in project screen and touch pad, only available in 20 of Microsoft’s stores, and Microsoft’s Band, which has various capabilities including GPS, heart rate monitoring and sleep quality tracking. The latest smartphones including Microsoft’s Lumia line and Blu Win HD, which can load SIM cards from two different carriers are available.microsoft-bandThe store has a living room area, where shoppers can play with the Xbox One and try various demos, a theater, which is designated for business training sessions and special events, and its answers desk, where customers can go to check out or find more information. The store’s 51 employees have received at least four weeks of training and will keep learning from two or more teacher staffers in each store.  Customers can receive service, get recommendations and receive help with PC setups.  The store also offers free computer tune ups and free virus removals.

Since 2009 when Microsoft opened their first store in Scottsdale, Arizona they have opened 104 retail locations in 189 countries worldwide. They have welcomed more than 400 million customers to their full line and now count Dallas as one their newest and premier locations!

Holiday in Scottsdale Where the Weather is Delightful

Fairmont-Scottsdale-ChristmasDid you know that Irving Berlin penned his legendary holiday tune, “White Christmas,” poolside in sunny Arizona? As the holiday season draws near, take a cue from Berlin and start planning your escape from the mounds of snow and freezing temperatures. Trade in your shovel for a golf club and your parka for a light sweater. Spend Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s in Scottsdale, where temperatures average 68 degrees and sunshine is plentiful during the winter months.

STOCKING STUFFER
The Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to gift one lucky winner a trip to Scottsdale as a part of its annual holiday campaign. The prize package includes roundtrip airfare for two, a three-night stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, dinner at on-site restaurant La Hacienda, and admission to the Christmas at the Princess ice skating rink, as well as a complimentary photo with Santa Claus. The winner will also receive tickets to Las Noches de Las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden, ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, and “Sister’s Christmas Catechism” at Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. Visit ScottsdaleHolidayExperience.com before November 21, 2014, to enter. The prize is redeemable December 18-21, 2014.

SONORAN DESERT TRADITIONS
Don’t worry about missing out on those classic holiday traditions. There’s no better way to celebrate with friends and family than partaking in plenty of festive events around Scottsdale.

· Explore the breathtaking Sonoran Desert all by the glowing light of more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaries select dates between November 28 and December 30, 2014 at the Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de las Luminarias. Sip on hot chocolate from the Patio Café as you wander the paths throughout the garden. Feel the holiday spirit as music from carolers, hand bells, guitars and violins fills the air. With advanced reservations, you can even dine at the garden’s on-site restaurant Gertrude’s, which stays open late for the event.zoolights-01· Kids and kids at heart will be delighted as they wander through Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo November 24, 2014 through January 11, 2015. As the sun begins to set and the furry and reptilian residents at the Phoenix Zoo start to snooze, the zoo will transform into a winter wonderland. Roam the complex beneath the shine of more than 3 million colorful twinkle lights and 500 custom-made animal light sculptures. You’ll likely spot a sleepy orangutan, a wide-awake coyote and even Jengo the talking giraffe throughout the festivities.

· Trim your Christmas tree this holiday season with hand-made ornaments from American Indian artists after stocking up at Heard Museum’s Ornament Marketplace November 28-30, 2014. Return to the museum December 26-31, 2014, for Holidays at the Heard, an annual Southwestern tradition. This event takes museum visitors on a journey through American Indian culture with exciting performances and artist demonstrations.

· Between December 12, 2014, and January 3, 2015, stop by McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park for holiday train and carousel rides. During the holidays, the park stays open late and is decked out in twinkly lights and festive displays. Plus Santa will make special appearances through December 23, 2014.MIM· Musical Instrument Museum brings the chilly north to Scottsdale with the Experience Norway celebration December 6-7, 2014 in honor of the country’s bicentennial. You’ll enjoy traditional Norwegian dances, musical performances and hands-on crafts. And on December 20-21, 2014, chimes and jingles will fill the halls of MIM, the world’s only global instrument museum. During the Hear Them Ring event, MIM will celebrate instruments that ring, including hand bells, steel pans and marimbas. The event will also feature a special menu at the on-site café, Café Allegro, gifts for purchase in the Museum Store, face painting and more.

4 Smart Spots for The OC Coffee Break

Whether it is a “triple venti soy no foam latte” (yes, there is such a thing) or a simple cup of strong, black coffee, everyone needs a caffeine fix in the morning. Today marks National Coffee Day (again there is such a thing), and so we thought we would celebrate The OC coffeehouses that have become smart spots for our morning needs. 😉

hiddenhouseHidden House Coffee Roasters, San Juan Capistrano
True to its name, this micro-roaster finds itself nestled between a few oak trees just past the San Juan Capistrano Amtrak station. With hardly much room between the register and the door, Hidden House manages to squeeze its roaster, large sacks of beans, and even a few tables into its establishment. You will appreciate their cold brew coffee, cappuccinos and how they serve their espresso with a glass of mineral water, as is proper in order to cleanse the palate after its consumption.

keancoffeeKéan Coffee, Newport Beach
For Martin Diedrich, founder of Kéan Coffee, great coffee has been part of the family for several generations. As coffee farm owners for much of the last century, the Diedrich family developed a deep, intuitive understanding of coffee. Martin and his wife Karen became business partners, and named Kéan Coffee after their only son. Kéan Coffee sits in a small shopping center with a few outside tables along its long windows. Kéan roasts their own coffee on a drum roaster in the back corner of their store. From its beginnings in 2005, Kéan Coffee has operated as a sustainable, environmentally responsible business, setting an example for many others to follow. Kéan Coffee takes the coffee experience to the next level.

lagunacoffeecoLaguna Coffee Company, Laguna Beach
This coffeehouse is an oasis on the California Coast. The certified Mocha Java beans and Beachcomber blend is the main attraction here, but if you’re hungry they also serve delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I first discovered this coffeehouse because of their live jazz music and their posh vibe, and immediately my senses were heightened because of the great smell of freshly roasting coffee right here in-house. Relax with a cup of espresso, listen to some good music and enjoy a delicious panini.

portolacoffeelabPortola Coffee Lab, Costa Mesa
Portola is located in the OC Mart Mix. When you finally happen upon Portola, standing freely in the middle of the mall with baristas in lab coats…it’s a bit unexpected, but in retrospect, completely logical. Beans are carefully sourced and roasted on-site. The coffeehouse’s brewing methods span time and technologies, all with a heavy emphasis on a barista’s skills: the siphon filter method is a throwback to an industrial age that used vapor pressure and a vacuum to produce a clean cup of coffee. Move to the modern-era with the BUNN Trifecta machine, which offers several settings to fine tune each brewed cup, or opt for the manual pour-over. Portola also offers a Japanese cold brew for those warm, California days. Portola has studied the science of the perfect cup of coffee.

Hope you enjoyed these few spots, and let us know if there are any more! 🙂

The Buddy Holly Story

The Buddy Holly StoryI have never been a big fan of jukebox musicals. They can be fun but in general it’s lazy musical theater, meant for audiences afraid to try anything new. The shows take a collection of already published music from one particular person or band or genre, and either loosely connect them in an effort to form a story (Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, Rock of Ages) or use them in telling the story of the singer/band (Jersey Boys, The Boy from Oz). Critically, occasionally they work well and often they fall flat, but audiences (particularly those not familiar with or appreciative of the more original work on Broadway) tend to love them. Producers do to, because they come with an established fan base ready to splurge on tickets to see music they already know performed by people who remind them of the musicians they already love, and they get to say they saw a piece of theater. For those of us who prefer edgy, sexy, and original music (Cabaret and Pippin are two of my favorites), it’s frustrating to see more and more popping up on Broadway when there is plenty of original work to use, but at the same time I love any reason to get people in theaters. And one of the best parts of these types of shows, particularly the smaller casts of touring productions, is that you get an impressive group of extremely talented people playing multiple roles and multiple instruments. Big Bopper

The Buddy Holly Story is one of the original jukebox musicals, originally opening in 1989 and running on London’s West End for 12 years before a successful Broadway run and international tours. It was critically acclaimed and popular before the more formulaic eye-roll-inducing Mamma-Mia-inspired flops took over the Great White Way (Lennon, Good Vibrations, Ring of Fire, Hot Feet). The production I saw last night, currently playing at The Laguna Playhouse, is a cast of 14 dancers-singers-actors-musicians, many of whom have been playing these roles in multiple productions. For Todd Meredith, this marks his 15th time in the title role, in addition to performing all over the country in a Buddy Holly tribute band along with bassist (and trombonist) Bill Morey, who is in his 5th production of TBHS. Pinch-his-cheeks-adorable Emilio Ramos reprises his role of Ritchie Valens (almost stealing the show with his La Bamba, my favorite performance of the night), and a boisterous Mike Brennan plays the Big Bopper for the fifth time. This isn’t just a job for these guys, these are parts they were born to play and they are killing it up there. I am not ashamed to say that when it came to the end of the story, the night the proverbial music died, I got a little teary-eyed. And I KNEW how it would end! This little jukebox musical and its stars grabbed at my heartstrings.

The Buddy Holly Story

Why not go? If you hate Buddy Holly music (and who hates Buddy Holly music?!) you won’t like this, because that’s pretty much all it is. If you prefer shows with elaborate sets, precision choreography, deep plots or spectacle, this show is not for you.

Why go? Do you find yourself tapping your feet or singing along every time Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Chantilly Lace, or Johnny B. Goode comes on the radio? Are you AT ALL interested in the history of American music? Do you need a wholesome show to take your kids or in-laws to? Most importantly do you (like me) enjoy  watching really talented people doing what they do best and having a hell of a good time doing it? Then go. Go, sing along, get up and dance, and leave the theater with your cheesy cardboard black geek glasses remembering the short life of the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.

SIDE NOTEif you see it at The Laguna Playhouse, or ANYTHING at The Laguna Playhouse and you measure 5’4″ or below, don’t get balcony seats. I had to sit on the edge of my seat to see anything below the performers’ shoulders. Petite problems. 

The Buddy Holly Story is playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California through August 10th. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com. For other productions around the country and the world, visit www.buddythemusical.com.

 

 

 

Sundays in the Park

Jayne and Inara in Bluebird Park, Laguna BeachFresh air, laughing children, food and wine, dancing neighbors and live music; there are few things that elicit a more favorable response than a classic summertime music concert in a park, especially when it’s free. A quick Google search shows how many options there are nation-wide for experiencing free musical concerts in public spaces, and we are all better for it. My family has enjoyed performances in Central Park in New York and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, and now thanks to the Laguna Beach Arts Commission we have this opportunity again in our new home of Laguna Beach.

Fifty-two year old Bluebird Park is enclosed by fencing and surrounded by quiet neighborhood streets. The park includes a soft grass lawn, picnic tables and barbecues, drinking fountains, shade trees, sidewalks, curvy slides built into a hillside, scooter/tricycle paths with tunnels and bridges, big kid areas for climbing, spinning and playing basketball, little kid playing area with sand and baby swings, and clean and safe restrooms. As a parent, if you are anywhere in the middle area of the park you can see almost everywhere else. Dogs are not allowed so although they are missed, it makes it even more comfortable for parents to let all the munchkins run loose. Situated in Bluebird Canyon, only 4 blocks inland from Coast Highway (that’s PCH for most of California), it gets enough of an ocean breeze that it doesn’t get too hot, and it’s inland enough that the wind doesn’t get too cold. In short, add the music and all the fun residents of Laguna Beach with their food and wine, and you get a family paradise in 1.7 acres. Bluebird Park Laguna Beach

When my husband and I were dating, he brought me to this beautiful town by the sea every opportunity we got to get away. Usually we had to fly out Sunday afternoons and would miss the opportunity to experience the Sunday evening concerts in Bluebird Park, with the exception of one time. I remember how happy he was then and how romantic the evening was, with our packed picnic dinner we had prepared earlier that day and a few bottles of wine, laid out on our picnic blanket on the lawn. I’m sure I fell more in love with him then. The acoustics in the canyon were perfect for the music, played on a tiny hill on one end of the park with little amplification needed. We loved being there together but we both hoped to be back one day with my daughter so that we could attend the affair as a family. This past Sunday night, five years after we met, we finally had that opportunity as they kicked off their 31st season of music. Grateful Dead fan at Music in the Park, Laguna Beach

The genre is different every week, and this season started off with a Grateful Dead tribute band, Cubensis. We hadn’t paid attention to the schedule in advance, but we figured it out fairly quickly by the crowd. The people-watching was a blast and seeing my little Manhattan baby twirling around with adults in tie-dye handing out stickers and “Free Hugs” was priceless. With our picnic blanket nestled amongst early-afternoon campers on the front row with only the dance area between us and the band, my husband and I held each other and chatted with new neighbors, once again enjoying a picnic dinner we’d cooked together. But this time we also watched my daughter as she danced and played around the park, slid down the hillside and played tag with neighborhood kids. We followed her to the monkey bars holding hands, glasses of wine in the others, and in a perfect moment he admitted how happy he was to be back in Bluebird Park, this time as a family, for the occasion. It really is that special.

If you live in Orange County or will be visiting this summer, make time in your schedule for music in Bluebird Park Sunday evenings. The bands play from 5-7pm and you can claim your picnic spot no earlier than 3pm. The park is located at 798 Blue Bird Canyon Drive, Laguna Beach and parking is limited so walk and/or take public transportation if you can. Next week (July 20th) we look forward to Zydeco with Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (of course- we got married in New Orleans!), then Soul with Stone Soul (7/27), Beatles music with Beatroots (8/3), Irish with The Fenians (8/10), Reggae with Lesterfari & Kings Music (8/17), and finally Blues with Tom Nolan Band to close out the season on August 24th. Suffice it to say that if we are in town, we’ll be there. And in the Laguna spirit, we can always make room for one more.

Music in Bluebird Park Laguna Beach 2014 Schedule

Arizona’s Rising Temps Lead to Dropping Rates

Scottsdale SummersPull out your bathing suit, put on your sunglasses and grab the nearest fruity beverage. Things are heating up in Scottsdale – and I am not just talking about the temperatures. What better reason is there to stay in one of Scottsdale’s luxury hotels and resorts than rates as low as 60% off?

At Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, choose the “Splash into Summer” package, which offers free self-parking, 50% off a second deluxe guest room, free dinner in SWB for one child with each paying adult (12 or under) and free golf for kids with a paying adult (15 or under). Plus you’ll receive a 50% discount at Camp Hyatt each day for up to two children per room (ages 3-12). Rates start at $169, valid May 21, 2014 through September 3, 2014.

This summer take to the open road and explore all of Scottsdale with W Scottsdale’s “Road Trip” package. You’ll receive a $25 gas card, complimentary overnight WHEELS valet parking and an USB car charger in addition to your luxurious accommodations. For those who don’t want to travel further than poolside, the hotel is also offering the “Vitamin W” package which includes W Scottsdale sunglasses, sunblock, a beach bag and a poolside pitcher of Vitamin W. Rates for both packages start at $160 May 11, 2014 through September 6, 2014.

Embrace the elements at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia’s pool with refreshing cocktails and delectable treats. When you use the resort’s “Turn Up the Heat” package this summer, you’ll stay two nights and get the third night free and receive a $50 poolside dining credit. Rates start at $199, valid May 1, 2014 through August 15, 2014.

With packages like “Sip, Savor & Splash” and rates starting at $169 per night May 23, 2014 through August 31, 2014, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is truly a sunshine-filled paradise. Summer at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess means cool rides down waterslides, zooming across the lagoons via zip line and fireworks lighting up the night. Poolside is the place to be at the new SplashRider X-treme, a thrilling, spinning water adventure. Nearby, twisting waterslides turn disco at the Techno Glo Party while Dive-In movies are tradition. With the “Sip, Savor & Splash” package, guests can use the daily $50 resort credit at La Hacienda or escape to Well & Being Spa for a bit of pampering. And the kids won’t want to miss the firework display that lights up the sky Saturday evenings Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Scottsdale’s Best Brunch: T. Cook’s

T Cooks BrunchYou’ve always dreamed of being a master chef, whipping up spontaneous recipes with just the enticing ingredients laid out before you. Unfortunately, not all of us have such skills. Leave the hard work to these masterful chefs at T. Cook’s for their delicious Sunday Harvest Brunch.

At the heart of the Resort, T. Cook’s culinary philosophy of magnifying the purity of fresh, seasonal ingredients is a celebration of its treasured legacy. Chef Paul McCabe’s culinary style can be summed up in three words – crafted, thoughtful and bold – which are all precisely in line with the Mediterranean principles of fresh, seasonal, local and ingredient-driven cooking.

If you prefer dinner over brunch, then T. Cook’s offers #PM31 on Wednesday evenings. Table 31, one of the most cherished tables at T.Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, leads adventurous, food-savvy diners through tailored, improvisational cuisine drawing upon premium, handmade ingredients in a concept deemed PM31. Every diner enjoys original and customized 10 to 12 course menus that reflect McCabe’s Mediterranean principles of seasonal, local ingredients and artful presentations.

Trina Turk + Real Posh Mom = 7 Year Anniversary Celebration

RPMTrinaTurkJoin myself, RPM’s newest writer Jayne & the gals at Trina Turk for the Summer Style event next Thursday night at Trina Turk in Highland Park Village! Not only will you enjoy sips & light bites, but you can also get style tips as you get ready for summer & even get a 20% discount on the new Trina Turk summer arrivals + an exclusive Trina Turk iPhone case. Great, right? Also, in celebration for Real Posh Mom’s 7th Anniversary, I will be revealing some new exciting things happening with Real Posh Mom. I hope to see you all Thursday night! XO

Where: Trina Turk in Highland Park Village
When: Next Thursday, March 15, 2014
Time: 5:30PM – 7:30PM (come & go)
RSVP: Dallas@TrinaTurk.com

RPMTrinaTurkEarrings

Pictured: Cynthia of Oh So Cynthia (left) and myself (right)

Silver Dollar City Travel Guide

SilverDollarCityTravelGuideSilver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is for everyone! Silver Dollar City is a theme park set in the 1880s. My friend Danyelle of The Cubicle Chick sums it up well, “It’s like Six Flags but is more centered on giving you a nostalgic experience. And yes, The Chicklet (her daughter) loves it!” The entire family will delight in watching crafters use historic tools to create works of art and delicious food right before your eyes. Stop at the blacksmith, glassblower, wood carver, broom maker and other crafters to watch skilled artisans create everything from wrought iron fences to marbles and baseball bats. Beyond crafts, Silver Dollar City also provides shows and live entertainment. Silver Dollar City offered my family tickets during WorldFest, as they were Celebrating America! It was a wonderful experience. The notion that Silver Dollar City is boring is nonsense. Here’s a Silver Dollar City Travel Guide for all ages!

Rides

Roller coasters, water rides, kid rides and theme rides… there are over 30 rides to explore!

For kids, the Grand Exposition featuring 10 family rides cannot be missed. The Royal Tea Party is a classic tea cup ride. Children’s roller coaster, spinning rides in the form of elephants, insects and frogs are just a few of the options.

For family, Fire-in-the-Hole (36 inch min. to ride) is an indoor coaster where riders experience mysterious sounds and mischievous deeds of the Baldknobbers who have set the town ablaze. The Flooded Mine (all ages/ heights may ride, 48 inch min. to ride without an adult) is a boat ride through a flooding prison mine where prisoners are trying to escape – ore carts carry you through the flooded mine shafts, past jack hammers, pump stations, mine explosions and even sleeping guards as riders use pistols to aim at targets along the way, competing for high scores with their fellow passengers. (Warning: your hands will get tired of shootin’, but it is well-worth the fun that will be had.) The Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train (all ages and accessible) is a real locomotive ride with a train robbery show along the way. These are just a few of the favorite attractions. In the heat of summer, cool off with a water ride. The American Plunge is a classic flume ride plummeting from five stories at 35 miles per hour. Lost River of the Ozarks is a six passenger white water rapids ride, where you will get wet! This ride is a game for my family on who NOT get as wet as the others. 😉SDCOutlawRunFor adults who don’t have small kids in tow, the world famous, award-winning wood coaster Outlaw Run (48 inches min. to ride) tops the must-ride bucket list, as it drop you a hair-raisin’ 162 feet almost straight down — 81° to be exact. PowderKeg (42 inch min. to ride), uses an air-launch from 0 to 53 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds and sends passengers on ride with hills including a 110-foot drop and speeds up to 64 miles per hour. WildFire (52 inch min. to ride) travels up to 66mph with multiple loops, hills and incredible views of the Ozark Mountains.

Edutainment

Silver Dollar City offers a little education with their fun-filled experience at the theme park. Marvel Cave is a great place to cool off in the summer, and the kids learn a lot while enjoying amazing views of a spectacular cave. The Cave Tour does require a LOT of stair climbing (almost 600 stairs to be exact), so it is only for the physically fit (no strollers). Tours depart approximately every half hour, weather permitting. Marvel Cave is a wet limestone cave, with many features including the Cathedral Room, the largest cave entrance room in the United States. The tour lasts approximately 60 minutes, with most of that time spent climbing nearly 600 stairs. A trained cave guide leads each group sharing information of historical or geographical importance.SDCBlacksmithEach shop at Silver Dollar City is special… they do not simply sell souvenirs (though there is plenty of that), but the park features the talent of crafters and artists who specialize in forgotten arts. Blacksmithing, broom making, candle dipping, glass blowing, candy making, ice cream making, wood working, leather working & more are just a few of the crafts you may see demonstrated at shops throughout the park. Make a point to visit shops and watch demonstrations on your visit! This was one of my son’s favorite parts of the park.

Shows

Silver Dollar City offers numerous shows, and they change throughout the season with special shows for the festivals throughout the year. Country Music, International Bands, Bluegrass, Children’s Shows, Holiday Shows, Comedy, Magicians, short plays & more are offered. Be sure to check the show schedule when you visit the park. On busy days, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to show time to see a show.

Food

Silver Dollar City’s food is delicious with home cooked options at many vendors. My family’s favorite is Buckshot’s Skillet Cookery. Who doesn’t love succotash and harvest field vegetables?! Wash it down with some Frozen Lemonade in various flavors. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make a stop at Berries and Cream for some fresh strawberries pilled on top of ice cream. However, you may also pack a picnic and bring your own food (we especially appreciate this with children who may not want to wait in line or desire smaller portions).SDCSkilletSDCFrozenLemondaeSDCBerriesCream

Silver Dollar City Travel Guide Tips

  • Bring bottled water, snacks and consider bringing a picnic.
  • Set a budget. You can spend as little or as much as you like. If you bring your own camera for pictures, pack a picnic and limit souvenir purchases (the $1.99 dipped candles are our top pick), you can still have a great time with rides, shows, demonstrations, etc. Plan according to your family budget and know that souvenirs and food are typical amusement park prices and plan accordingly.
  • Measure your children before the trip and determine which rides they will be able to enjoy.
  • Bring a camera.
  • Dress comfortably for a day at an amusement park. Wear comfortable shoes. In the summer, plan for water rides. In the winter, plan to be outside in the cold.
  • Don’t forget to put on or bring your sunscreen!
  • Watch where you’re going…. Silver Dollar City’s ambience is in the details. Read signs, check out landmarks, stop in shops and ask questions, watch for street performances, sample foods you have never enjoyed before and keep an eye out for unusual things – it’s all part of the fun!

I hope this Silver Dollar City Travel Guide proves to be helpful for your next trip. I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends there!