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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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Big Orange Does Burgers, Salads, Shakes and Cocktails Right

Gallery by Jason Masters

Big Orange in The Promenade at Chenal puts a new spin on burgers, salads and shakes.

When the staff of Little Rock Soiree heard that the brains behind ZaZa --John Beachboard and Scott McGehee -- were opening a restaurant specializing in well-imagined gourmet burgers, salads and shakes, collective mouths began to water.

Kings of the quality ingredient and masters of the well-paired flavor combination, Beachboard and McGehee make salad and pizza magic at ZaZa, and now bring their energy and creativity to burgers and beyond at Big Orange at Promenade at Chenal, 17809 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock.

Read all about Big Orange in the December issue of Soiree by clicking here. 

Try Out Downtown Little Rock's New Snap Fitness for Free

Strength training along with cardio workouts are available at Snap Fitness.

Get a free week or free enrollment (a savings of $79) if you join the newly opened Snap Fitness at 1401 W. Capitol Ave. in the Victory Building across from the state Capitol in downtown Little Rock by Dec. 31.

The facility, which is open 24/7, is an easy walk from the state Capitol complex. It features ground level access, free instruction and workout plans, and modern cardio and strength-training equipment. Group classes are in the works. 

Request a free pass to try the facility before joining. Single, joint (two adults billed to one account) and family memberships (two adults and two minors) are offered, each with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Single month-to-month memberships are $34.95 per month. Joint memberships are $49.95 a month. Family memberships are $59.95 a month.

Visit the facility during staffed hours (11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday or by appointment; call 501-246-8266) to learn about prepaid bonus plans (six-month or 12-month), senior discounts, and daily gym use for non-members.

Those who join will also have access to Snap Fitness at 400 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock, and other Arkansas locations in Russellville, Fayetteville, Dumas and Crossett.

To learn more click here. 

Little Rock Wind Symphony Presents Free Holiday Concert Today

Karen Fannin, music director, Little Rock Wind Symphony

Little Rock Wind Symphony, directed by Karen Fannin, presents its holiday concert, A Christmas Extravaganza, at 3 p.m. today (Dec. 4) at Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock.

The program includes favorite Christmas carols such as Adeste Fideles, O Holy Night, Jesu of Man's Desiring and Sleigh Bells performed by the Little Rock Wind Symphony, soprano Laura Storm, Don Roberts Elementary School Children’s Choir and the Basso Voce quartet.

The audience will have a chance to sing along with the LRWS.

Admission is free. For more information call (501) 666-0777.

Fort Smith Arkansas Engagement: Nicole Marsh & William Franklin

Gallery by Beaty Photography

Fort Smith lovebirds Nicole Marsh and William Franklin are engaged to be married on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Immaculate Conception Church in their hometown.

William and Nicole met in 2003 while they were seniors at Northside High School. However, for the first two years of high school, they didn't have classes together and didn't know each other at all.

“As I was leaving school one afternoon during our senior year,” Nicole said, “a friend of mine stopped and gave me a hug goodbye. William was standing outside the football locker room and happened to witness this. He called out, ‘You've never given me a hug goodbye!’ Not even knowing him, I walked over and gave him a hug. Two weeks later we were officially dating and have been together for eight years now.”

William proposed to Nicole on their summer vacation trip to Las Vegas in 2011.

“He took me to the top of the Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris Hotel and made me the happiest girl in the world. I can’t wait to marry my best friend.”

Sigh. Aren’t they just the SWEETEST! Eight years?! So amazing. Congratulations ya’ll!

Beaty Photography took their engagement portraits.

PS: If you want to submit your engagement, simply fill out our new Engagement Form. It's super easy!

Review: A Christmas Carol, the Musical at Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Image by Cindy Momchilov

David Benoit as Ebenezer Scrooge in Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol, The Musical.


Who knew Ebenezer Scrooge could dance? And twirl a cane like a baton? 

There are many surprising aspects of the infamous grump that are revealed in Arkansas Repertory Theatre's lavish production of A Christmast Carol, the Musical, which opened Friday.

Charles Dickens’ instructive 1843 classic -- a meditation on social welfare, poverty, and redemption -- is re-imagined with frisky melodies by Alan Menken and witty lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, creators of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Seussical: The Musical.

A massive Edwardian set designed by the Rep's brilliant Mike Nichols somehow fills the stage without limiting the amount of space needed to accommodate vast numbers of performers, adorned in period costumes and headgear (expertly rendered by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case), who support the transformation of Scrooge from miserable miser to Christmas celebrant.

The production, directed by Alan Souza, stars David Benoit as Ebenezer Scrooge -- portly, well-dressed, imperious, dismissive of the woes of others -- "It has nothing to do with me," is his mantra toward the many supplicants who are waved away by his ever-present cane -- but capable of change.

He absolutely owns the role, maintaining Scrooge's unique personality and power even when visited by his dead former business partner Jacob Marley (Ryan G. Dunkin), dancing in his nightshirt and slippers with fearsome spirits in chains (one of them headless) and lectured by the often impertinent ghosts of Christmas past, present and Christmas yet to be.

The singing and dancing is exuberant -- big voices and fancy footwork abounds, especially from Monica Clark-Robinson as party-throwing Mrs. Fezziwig and a romantic interlude with young Scrooge (Kirt Thomas) and his once-beloved hoop skirt-wearing Emily (Laura Medford).

And the many children in the cast hold their own on vocalizing while adding just the right note of innocence to balance Scrooge's slowly eroding cynicism.

The show continues through Dec. 25. Evening shows are at 7 p.m. and matinees are at 2 p.m.

Tickets start at $30. Call The Rep Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or click here. 

Heifer International's Celebration of Living Gifts Happening Today at Heifer Village

Learning opportunities abound at Heifer Village.

Show kids the real meaning of generosity from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today (Dec. 3) at Heifer Village, 1 World Way, Little Rock. At Heifer International’s Celebration of Living Gifts, children can see how the gift of a goat, llama or camel to one hungry family can help end hunger and poverty.

Animals from the Heifer Ranch in Perryville will be in attendance to meet visitors and pose for photos. Guests can put together an Alternative Gift Coupon Book to use throughout the year, featuring goats, llamas, water buffalos and other animals.

Kids can create a photo frame to take home, and show off their geography knowledge at Animals Around the World, a mapping game matching animals with the countries where they’re used.

Take a Green Building Tour and learn what Heifer does at home to protect the environment. Find unique fair-trade items from around the world at Shop@Heifer, along with Heifer books and merchandise.

At the Living Gift Market, learn about Heifer gifts that keep on giving, and take the opportunity to give a gift yourself. You will receive a handsome card to give away and a hungry family will receive hope for a better future. 

For more information call Tracey Chesser at (501) 907-2889.

Our Top 5 Arkansas Wedding Ideas from Pinterest this Week

Image by Arkansas Bride Pinterest screen shot illustration

Admit it. It's Friday. And like me, you're not focused 100-percent on the deadline you're supposed to meet(sorry boss). Instead you're focused on the fun stuff you'll be doing this weekend (for instance, crafting something cool you found on Pinterest). Am I right?

Hence my new weekly blog post (if I can remember to do it each week) is: Friday Finds from Pinterest. This is where I'll kill time before the 5 'o clock closing bell that sets me free for the weekend and share with you my favorite "re-pins" from Pinterest this week. BTW...I'm addicted to this sitehope you're following along.

No. 1: Chevron. I'm finding that brides across the country are obsessed with this modern pattern and are putting in on everything from cakes, to invites, to full-on wedding themes. I'm loving it.

No 2: Cuteness. I'm pinning the heck out of some stuff for no other reason than that their cute-factors are off the charts. This baby. This couple. This idea. This father-daughter dance. Serioulsy. So cute!

No. 3: Baby's Breath. I'm loving this because it's an afforable way to have breathtaking flowers (pun intended). I'm seeing it used in so many ways! In bouquets and other floral decor for rustic, elegant, winter-themed andcontemporary weddings.

No. 4: Moments. Although there's not a lot of use for these in terms of stealing the ideas, I love inding these "moments captured." Creative moments, silly moments and completely IN LOVE moments (this one too!) make "Photo Ideas to Steal" my new favorite board.

No. 5: Food that makes me really hungry. Donuts? Yes. And yes! Creative reception food at its best: Cookie dough balls, root beer floats, mini comfort foods, individual-sized bottles of champagne ... PLEASE invite me to your wedding if you're serving food like this!

Conway Symphony Orchestra to Delight Audiences Dec. 3

Image by

Each year, the Conway Symphony Orchestra presents a holiday concert that tops the years before. Per, “conductor Israel ‘Izzy’ Getzov, prides himself on making the music accessible and enjoyable, often providing commentary interspersed with exciting musical selections.” 
This holiday season, the CSO will stage A Conway Christmas Holiday Concert from 7:30-9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Reynolds Performance Hall. The orchestra, with special guests Central Arkansas Children’s Choir and the Arkansas Festival Ballet, will perform selections from “The Nutcracker” and new arrangements of several holiday favorites. 
The CSO music director implemented a program two years ago, “to bring music into the classrooms of elementary and intermediate schools, providing a more educational and interactive experience for children than a single in-school concert. We reached more than 600 students in one month, and expanded the program to more than 1,000 students last year.”
Combining classical music and kid-friendly entertainment, the Conway Symphony Orchestra continues to grow each year. 
Immediately before the Holiday Concert, from 6-7 p.m. in the AETN Classroom on the UCA Campus, children of all ages will be treated to Nutcracker Sweets. Amid hot chocolate, desserts, and activities, families will hear stories from “The Nutcracker,” have the opportunity to meet the dancers and Maestro Izzy before they take the stage at the Conway Christmas concert. 
Tickets to the Nutcracker Sweets event are $5 per child (their accompanying adults are admitted free), and can be purchased and reserved by calling 269-1066. 
Purchase tickets to A Conway Christmas Holiday Concert ($6-$38 each) online at

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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.
Featured Post
For this special Reader's Choice edition, we wanted to put a fun little spin on the traditional Editor Favorites feature. Instead of simply showcasing the editorial team's favorite bridal portraits and couple shots, we added décor, ideas and more into this mix. We hope these inspire you to create something fresh, unique or simply gorgeous for your weddings.

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