12 Days of Christmas at Dallas Arboretum

Arboretum12DaysofChristmasCelebrate the holidays at the Dallas Arboretum like never before with this $2 million centerpiece exhibit entitled The 12 Days of Christmas featuring an elaborate collection of 25-foot Victorian gazebos filled with the charming costumed characters and whimsical animals that are made famous by the beloved Christmas carol. Each gazebo is encased in glass and extravagantly decorated on all sides to provide a dramatic, three-dimensional experience, and will feature mechanical parts and festive music that will assist in bringing the characters to an even more life-like state.GazeboEnjoy the .75-mile walk through the garden exhibit, as you witness these handcrafted gazebos spread across a winter wonderland.Dallas Arboretum 12 Days of Christmas Mansion.jpg2During the day, visitors can enjoy the lavishly decorated DeGolyer Estate, filled top to bottom with a collection of Byers’ Choice Ltd. Christmas Caroler figurines. This exhibit runs from November 26, 2014 – January 4, 2015 | Daily | 10AM-4PM Visitors can also stroll the gardens to view seasonal plantings and enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities.ArboretumGazeboDuring the evening, the garden will remain open for extended hours for The 12 Days at Night, where the beautifully illuminated gazebos will be showcased for magical nighttime viewing. During this time, visitors will be even further immersed in the Victorian-era holiday theme as they enjoy live carolers and holiday themed treats.

The 12 Days of Christmas daytime exhibit is included with general garden admission:
Adults | $15 non-members
Seniors | $12 non-members
Children ages 3-12 | $10
Children under 3 receive free admission
Parking | $10 at the gate | $5 online only
Member Parking | Free
Member Admission | Free

Other Holiday Events at The Arboretum

Special Weekend Holiday Festivities
November 29-December 21, 2014 | Saturdays and Sundays | Noon-4PM
Enjoy visits with Santa, reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Holiday Tea
Starting November 28, 2014 – 11AM and 2PM daily
Enjoy an elegant, three-course holiday tea for a special Christmas memory for those 13 and older. Prices range between $47 and $57 and include parking and admission to the garden. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 214.515.6511.

Make this a new Christmas tradition for your family; it will be a truly magical experience!

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! 🙂