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Eat, Play, Shop, Live, Visit, Work. Your daily stop for the latest on all things Arkansas, including your comments. Send blog tips and feedback to Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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Memorial Service Set Today for Broadway Star Lawrence Hamilton

A memorial service for late Broadway star and musician Lawrence Hamilton will be held today (April 8) at 2 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 1101 N. Mississippi Ave. in Little Rock.

Hamilton, a Foreman (Little River County) native died last Thursday due to complications from surgery in New York City. He was 59.

Hamilton’s career spanned the globe, with Broadway credits including "Play On," “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “The Wiz,” “Uptown It’s Hot,” “Blues in the Night” and “Ragtime.”

He was musical director for opera star Jessye Norman and performed at the White House, at the Vatican for Pope Paul II, and in concert with the legendary Lena Horne.

At the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, he appeared as Whining Boy in “The Piano Lesson,” created by Souvenir.

Hamilton was also a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.

Little Rock Soirée featured Hamilton in 2011. Read the story here. 

Taste of Tuesday: Strawberry Shortcake from Trio's

Image by Waynette Traub

The cold weather is finally gone. Spring is here.

It's time to put away the hearty soups, and get out the fruits. Strawberries have always been a spring time favorite. With that in mind, we thought you might like a nice Strawberry Shortcake recipe to welcome in the warm temps and sunshine.

This one comes to us from Trio's in Little Rock. Trios is a gourmet shop, located at 8201 Cantrell Road, Suite 100, that operates as an award-winning restaurant and established caterer. For a look at the menus, click here. Trio's says the popular dessert isn't back on the menu yet, but to find out when it is, along with all the other things the restaurant has going on, follow the Facebook page.

We first shared this recipe with you last May, but thought it deserved another post. So here it is:

Strawberry Shortcake

The ingredients:

-For the shortcake

•4 cups flour

•1 1/2 lbs. cold, unsalted butter

•1/2 cup ice cold water

-For strawberries and whipped cream

•Arkansas strawberries, caps removed, washed and sliced


•1 quart heavy cream

•1/2 cup powdered sugar

The process:

-For the shortcake

Place the flour in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment in place. Cut cold butter into pieces and add several at a time, mixing well each addition, with the mixer running. Alternate butter with water. Mix on medium speed until butter is completed mixed into the flour.

Pull golf ball size pieces of dough from the mass and roll between your palms to make a smooth ball. Flatten each ball onto a sheet pan and make tiny holes in the dough with the lines of a fork to prevent the pastry from puffing up.

Bake in a pre-heated 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Let cool completely and store in a covered container at room temperature for up to three days.

-For strawberries and whipped cream

Place 1/4-cup sugar per 1-quart of sliced strawberries in a large mixing bowl. Place sliced berries on top of the sugar and stir gently. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes so that the berries can release their juices. Chill for two hours before assembling the shortcakes.

Whip cream to soft peaks with the powdered sugar.

To assemble:

Place a baked shortcake round on a serving plate. Ladle strawberries with their juices over the shortcake and top with whipped cream.

In addition to grocery stores, fresh strawberries can be bought at farmers markets across the metro area. For a list of farmers markets in the state, click here.

Popular ones in the metro area include the Little Rock Farmers Market, the Bernice Garden Farmers Market, the Argenta Farmers Market and the Hillcrest Farmers Market.

Learn Art of Wine with Special Guest Princess Corsini at Arts Center Tonight

We all love an excuse to have a glass a vino!

Tonight, special guest Princess Corsini, a member of one of oldest families in Italy who produced both a Pope (Clement XII, who commissioned the Trevi Fountain) and a saint (Sant' Andrea), is set to lecture on the preservation of the small, family-run Tuscan wine estate at the Arkansas Arts Center, 501 E. 9th St., Little Rock.

The lecture, which will start at 6 p.m., will be followed by an Italian wine reception with Tuscan-inspired hors d'oeurvres.

Tickets are $50 for members and $60 for non-members. Get more information and purchase tickets here!

Jewish Food Festival Slated for April 27 at War Memorial Stadium


Who loves corned beef sandwiches, kosher hot dogs, latkes and challah? We sure do!

Have a chance to try all of this and more when the Jewish Federation of Arkansas (JFAR) will hold its annual Jewish Food Festival on Sunday, April 27. This year's festival will be at a new location: War Memorial Stadium, 1 Stadium Drive, Little Rock.  

The festivities will kick off with a classic Jewish breakfast of lox, bagels and cream cheese, plus blintzes and kugel at 8:30 a.m.  The full festival will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Admission to the festival is free.

JFAR is preparing to host more than 15,000 visitors, hoping to surpass its 2013 attendance record. The festival will include traditional Jewish foods, such as: corned beef sandwiches, kosher hot dogs, cabbage rolls, blintzes, latkes, kugel and more, as well as homemade Jewish treats, including rugelach, honey cakes, challah and mandel bread. Israeli dishes like kabobs, falafel and Israeli salad will be available, too.

Visitors are invited to bring not only their appetites but also a donation of non-perishable food items to donate to the Arkansas Foodbank booth in order to receive a free Jewish Food Festival shopping bag.

The festival will also feature booths on Jewish and Israeli culture. At the super-popular Ask-the-Rabbi booth, visitors can learn about Judaism, itself, from Jewish holidays to life-cycle customs. At a replica of the Western Wall, visitors can leave a note of prayer, just as people do at the actual wall in Jerusalem. Judaica, jewelry, and other gift items created by local Jewish artists will be on display and for sale. Inflatables and other activities will be available for kids.

Entertainment throughout the day will include contemporary and traditional Jewish music by local and regional musicians.

Proceeds from the festival go to benefit JFAR’s work in the community, which includes allocations to Jewish and non-Jewish charitable organizations, financial assistance to Jews in need, scholarships and other resources for Jewish children and families, and funds to support charitable work in Israel.  

Get more information about the fun annual festival here!

KATV Channel 7's Todd Yakoubian on Forecasting, Family and 'Making' the Weather

Gallery by Karen E. Segrave


It was an idyllic day for an outdoor photo shoot—Todd Yakoubian’s cheery family, grateful for a rare warm day during the otherwise sub-freezing month of February, played in the sunshine at The Terry House in downtown Little Rock. Four-year-old Blake made a “house” under the branches of a magnolia tree, while two-year-old Preston played peek-a-boo with mom, Andria.

When it came time for a family photo, Todd and Andria settled onto a blanket in the grass and attempted to calm the kids with a storybook. “What if…what if it stopped raining?” Andria read aloud. “Well then Daddy wouldn’t have a job anymore!” she joked.

It’s true that the Yakoubians’ lives revolve around the whims of Mother Nature much more than your average Arkansas family. As the weekend meteorologist on Channel 7, Todd Yakoubian forecasts weather for television, writes for the Arkansas Weather Blog, and keeps local families informed through Facebook and Twitter.

And when the weather goes crazy, so does the family schedule: “When there’s bad weather, I’m the guy on the weekends,” Todd says. “My normal weekend is to work a split shift on Saturday. If there’s severe weather or snow, it’s not out of the question that I work around the clock from when I get in at 6 a.m. in the morning, all the way to 11 p.m. at night.”

“There are things that we miss out on—being able to ‘go’ on our weekends as a family and see the Old Mill or visit some of these Arkansas places,” says Andria. “He’s got his days with the boys. He’ll call me and they’re out gallivanting and going to Starbucks and getting cake pops. We just sometimes have to do things separately. I think a lot of families have to do that.”

The couple agrees that Todd’s work schedule has its advantages, too. While Andria works typical 9 a.m.-5 p.m. hours during the week, Todd has been able to stay home with their young sons. “Working weekends at Channel 7 has given me the opportunity that I think a lot of dads don’t have, and that’s getting to spend a lot of time with your kids,” he says. “I call it Daddy Daycare. At one point, I was taking care of the kids for three days a week. I’m in a unique position with my job to be able to spend so much time with my boys.”

Family is what brought Todd and Andria to Little Rock, when they relocated from Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2005. A Little Rock-native and Catholic High School graduate, Todd says he feels lucky to be have landed a job in his hometown—a difficult feat in the broadcast industry. After attending the University of Oklahoma for college and moving to locales like Missoula, Montana, he snagged a job in Chattanooga, where he and Andria met.

“After meeting Andria, I decided I wanted to get home close to family,” Todd says. “I don’t talk about it much, but when I was in college, my dad had a heart attack and a stroke all within two weeks. He lived for almost 10 years after that. During that time, I was in Oklahoma going to school, then Montana and Chattanooga. I didn’t spend much time with my dad in the last years of his life. That played into why I wanted to come home—that was time that I missed with my dad and I don’t want to miss time with my family, especially my mother.”

When the family is able to carve out time together, Blake and Preston play with their cousins, visit Pinnacle Mountain or enjoy the spring daffodil festival at Wye Mountain. “I’ve taken Blake fishing,” says Todd, who loves to fish the Little Red River. “There are so many things you can do here in Arkansas that are so close and make great memories.”

The city has likewise embraced the Yakoubians. Since Todd has a strong Facebook and Twitter following, the family is also in the public eye. He posts cute pictures of the kids on his social media accounts and even gave a play-by-play of Preston’s birth on Twitter. “I was comparing his birth to computer weather models, like ‘Baby Model shows he should be here within an hour,’” Todd says, laughing.

The experience can be fun, but also embarrassing, Andria says. “I’ve been at the grocery store with no makeup and my hair in a ponytail, alone with the boys and people have come up to me and asked, ‘Are those the Yakoubian kids?’”

Ultimately, Todd and Andria are glad that Little Rock is tuning in: “It’s pretty cool to be in the town I grew up in,” Todd says. “For your goals in life to come true and people to recognize you and give you a pat on the back—it’s very satisfying and gives me a sense of accomplishment.”


Forecasting Frenzy

Little Rock Family: Is there a lot of pressure to “get it right” when you’re forecasting severe weather?

Todd Yakoubian: I hate severe weather with a passion. There’s nothing good that comes out of it for anybody. I’ve seen the devastation that tornadoes cause, so I take it very seriously but I don’t see it as pressure. In the broadcast industry, you always want to be right. But when it comes to severe weather, it’s always about watching the radar, seeing the dangers on the radar and where the threats are, and getting the warning out however you can—social media, on the blog or on television. Television and reporting the weather has evolved into a 24-hour-a-day job, and you better be on it. People are looking for information. If there’s a storm in the middle of the night, you better be on social media or on the air warning people ahead of it. It’s not so much pressure, but it is a lot of long hours—but I’ve wanted to be a meteorologist since I was 6-years-old, so I enjoy it.

What is your favorite season?

My favorite thing to cover is snow, by far. Snow can be dangerous, but people choose to go out on the roads. I don’t tell them what to do and what not to do. Snow is beautiful and you can play in it…as long as you don’t have to drive in it.

Do your boys understand your job?

I’ve tried to explain the weather to Blake and he thinks I make the weather. I tell him, “No, I try to forecast the weather, Blake.” Sometimes I use it to my advantage. Just a few weeks ago, he was having a temper tantrum and I said, “If you don’t behave, I’m going to take the snow out of the forecast!”

Family Faves  
Family Restaurant:
The Purple Cow
Family Attraction: Playtime Pizza, The Wonder Place, Jump!Zone
Children’s Book: “I read “Love You Forever” to the boys,” says Andria. “I remember it from when I was small. Blake knows the little song now, so he sings it for me.”
Arkansas Getaway: “We haven’t been able to get away in Arkansas with the kids yet, but I do want to take them to a cabin in Eureka Springs when they’re a little older,” says Todd.
Date Night: Bruno’s Little Italy. “Their Spaghetti Carbonara is the absolute best,” says Todd.

Impress Your Friends at the Next Party, Take This Class

Want to learn how to make a party appetizer your friends will talk about for months? Want to impress them with your drink-making abilities? If so, you're in luck.

Eggshells Kitchen Co. is hosting a cooking class this Friday with chef Scott McGehee, the man who brought you Boulevard, Big Orange, ZaZa and Local Lime, and Lee Edwards, known as a "mad scientist" and a "renowned Arkansas bartender."

The duo will give the class an introduction into gourmet beer food, as students will learn the secrets of pickling and pâté. In addition, participants will learn adult beverages to go the dishes. It's a night any food lover will not want to miss.

It's sure to impress your friends at your next party, and have them ranting about your skills.

The class costs $65, and registration can be completed here. Admission cost includes a welcome beer or glass of wine, and whatever the chef prepares. Class participants are welcome to bring your own beverage from home for the meal.

Classes typically start at 6 p.m. at Eggshells, 5501 N. Kavanaugh Blvd., in the Heights.

You Are Invited to Check Out Fayetteville's The North Forty

Image by The North Forty Facebook


Thinking of having a quaint Southern wedding? There's another place in northwest Arkansas to have your ceremony: The North Forty, a restored farm house situated in a natural setting.

Get a glimpse of the cool venue at a week-long open house, starting Thursday (April 10).

The venue, located at 40 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville, is an award-winning bed-and-breakfast that is also a place for meetings, small celebrations and weddings. Check out the gorgeous indoor and outdoor spaces, dressing room and honeymoon suite during a special open house, starting Thursday and running through the following Thursday, April 17.

Come and go between these times:

  • Thursday, April 10: 5-8 p.m.
  • Friday, April 11: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 12: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Monday, April 14: 5-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 16: 11 a.m-2 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 17: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

If you're interested in having a quaint wedding, the venue offers plenty of space to have your celebration, along with delightful wedding buffets, honeymoon breakfasts and rehearsal dinners and even wedding cakes! Get a look at the wedding options here and get a rundown of the wedding packages and rentals here.

Call (479) 521-3739 to get more information about the open house and venue.

Arkansas Engagement: Megan Hampel of Fayetteville & John Kennedy of Little Rock

Gallery by Lyndsey Sullivan Photography


Megan Hampel of Fayetteville and John Kennedy of Little Rock will exchange vows on Sept. 6, 2014 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith.

Check out these gorgeous photos by Lyndsey Sullivan Photograhy and read their sweet engagement story as told by Megan:

John and I met through mutual friends in the summer of 2010. John was in his first year of law school and a friend with whom I taught convinced me to attend a law school party with her and her husband (who was also in law school) one evening. John and I were briefly introduced that night, but it actually wasn't until nearly a year later that the same friend set us up on a couples date at Hog Haus in Fayetteville. The rest is history. 

We continued to date for the next couple of years and in November 2013, we made a trip to Nashville.The day of the proposal started out like any other day. I had never visited Nashville before, so I wanted to see several different sites around the city. We walked around Vanderbilt for most of the morning. Afterward, he asked if I wanted to head to Centennial Park to see the replica of the Parthenon. While we were walking around the Parthenon, he was acting strange-- almost anxious-- but I really didn't think anything of it since he was still sick, after all. We walked up the main stairs and around the columns and as I stopped to admire the park, he got on one knee, pulled out a little red box and asked me to marry him!

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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