For years, one question has lurked in the back of my mind every holiday season: hot chocolate or hot cider?
Loews Ventana Canyon's answer is the latter of the two: The resort offers cider as a complimentary beverage in its evolved version of movie date night.
"This past summer, we did date-night movies," said Loews spokesperson Jennifer Duffy. "It was so successful that we decided to apply that same idea to the holidays."
According to Duffy, when Ventana Canyon does movie night, it does it right--with a 70-inch flat-screen TV and a lineup of classics.
At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 26, Julie Andrews will appear on that 70-inch screen in The Sound of Music. So, cozy up on a plush sofa in the Cascade Lounge, drink a cup of hot cider, indulge in a marshmallow treat and enjoy the classic film--all for no charge (in other words ... for free).
For those looking to enjoy an adult beverage, Duffy suggests ordering a glass of wine while checking out the 30-foot-tall Christmas tree that's decorated with one-of-a-kind glass ornaments by local artist Tom Philabaum.
"I hope that people take this opportunity to get out of the house and revel in the holidays," Duffy said. "It's a wonderful event to bring a friend or your mother to."
Early birds, keep in mind that from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday nights, Ventana Canyon hosts live music. So, if you time it correctly, you could catch two free Ventana Canyon events in one night.
As Duffy says, "It's the perfect ambience for the holidays." --M.N.
For you artsy folks out there still looking for a gift for that special someone: Perhaps you should look into some unique glass art.
The Tangerine Gallery began hosting their new glass-art exhibit in late November, featuring four well-known glass artists.
"We have been carrying glass art since we opened a little more than two years ago, but this is the first glass-art show," said Susan Warren, owner of Tangerine Gallery. "Tucson is known as a major center for glass art, so we have some very well-known glass-blowers and glass jewelry artists here."
Featured in the exhibit is Michael Joplin, the brother of Janis, who has more than 30 years of experience in glass art. He's shown his work in cities like Tokyo, Japan and Paris.
"His glass-blowing technique is called the Swedish Graal technique, in which he layers different colored glass and then sandblasts through (the layers)," Warren said. "This is the first work he's done in nine years, and he uses 1940s teen-romance comic-book images."
Dave Klein also has more than 30 years of experience in glass art and is the co-founder and director of the Sonoran Glass Art Academy. His pieces are distinctive, because they can be hung on a wall.
"His pieces kind of look like shields, or you could say they're platter-shaped, and that's a pretty unusual feature to have in glass art," Warren said.
Paul Anders-Stout is the youngest artist featured in the exhibit and teaches at the Sonoran Glass Art Academy. The only woman featured in the exhibit is Bronwen Heilman, who is selling Italian-style glass jewelry.
"She was doing metal work previously, so she incorporates her metal-work skills into her jewelry-making," Warren said. --T.A.
According to gallery owner Jane Hamilton's Web site, enlightenment came after spending a summer in close quarters with nature--more specifically, after living in a tepee. That's when Hamilton's love of collecting art became her first priority.
Today, Jane Hamilton Fine Art is filled with unique pieces, both aesthetic and--as Carolyn Barker, gallery assistant points out--practical.
Barker credits artists like Don Swanson, a potter, for incorporating both art and usability into his bowls, cups and coffee mugs.
"We always call him Tucson's favorite potter," Barker said. "All of his pieces belong in the home--everything's washable."
Swanson is among the several local artists that Hamilton features in her gallery every month. The gallery sports a sign that says, "Made in the USA by local artists."
This holiday season, Hamilton has put together a number of pieces that she thinks would make fine holiday gifts. Prices range from $10 to $200, and feature items made from glass, wood and clay.
One new gallery artist, Chris Vermich, has incorporated the use of wood and turquoise in a bowl that he's "turned" to bring out the wood's vibrant colors. Barker says artists like Vermich create their artwork with the customer in mind.
"We look for a unique perspective and an awareness of what people want in their homes," said Barker. "It's really great when an artist has a perspective."
So, if you still haven't gotten a holiday gift for a loved one quite yet, you may want to check out Jane Hamilton Fine Art.
"The role that art plays in people's lives is a powerful thing. You look at the same thing every day, and it makes you happy. It keeps giving and giving," Barker said. --M.N.
Why sit around nursing a hangover on New Year's Day when you could be busy breaking some of those recently made resolutions?
The She Devils--Southern Arizona's professional, full-contact women's football team--host an afternoon Texas Hold 'Em competition, buffet dining and Bloody Marys that could easily sack any plans for a vice-free 2009.
"We held it at 2 in the afternoon because everyone will be up late Wednesday, so there's no excuse," said She Devil spokeswoman and lineman Rosie Zwaduk. "There's nothing to do on New Year's Day anyway, so if people want to have some fun, we thought we'd invite them out."
An all-you-can-eat buffet will be available to help burn away a hangover. If that doesn't help, a make-your-own Bloody Mary station will be accessible for $3.
And if that doesn't help, you're on your own.
The event will help pay for some football gear and this season's league fees, said head coach and team owner Brett Holloway. The team will play its first full season in 2009.
A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Tucson Breakfast Lions Club.
"We want to set ourselves apart by helping the community out, and hopefully, they'll help us out, too," Holloway said, adding that proceeds from a recent fundraiser were split with the Gospel Rescue Mission. Future fundraisers will benefit the Tucson Community Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations, Holloway added.
Tickets are $35, which includes $4,000 in poker chips and the buffet, and are available by calling 881-1287, or by stopping by Lock-It Lockers, 4115 E. Speedway Blvd., between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The top five tournament winners will receive prizes. A number of door prizes will also be handed out. --A.B.