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Monterey & Carmel by the Sea: A NorCal Nest for Food and Luxury


Monterey is a city adored for its “grab life by the moment” mantra.  Carmel, a neighboring quaint city with colossal character, each house even having its own name in place of the standard numerical address. Loaded with history, scenic properties, restaurants and breezy weather, Monterey and Carmel by the Sea may be the perfect NorCal getaway for lovebirds. 



Fairmont Scottsdale’s 5th Annual “Christmas at the Princess” Holiday Tree Lighting

fairmont Red Tree w Snowflakes Princess Plaza

On Thursday, Nov. 20, the public is invited to Fairmont Scottsdale’s 5th Annual “Christmas at the Princess” Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration. The family-friendly event features the lighting of the Scottsdale resort’s four-story musical Christmas tree in Princess Plaza. The 45-foot tree has 67,000 LED lights which twinkle and dance to 12 holiday songs. The tree lighting ceremony includes the christening of the Desert Ice Skating Rink with an appearance by Olympic Gold Medalist Dorothy Hamill, a visit from Santa, carolers, complimentary sugar cookies and spiced cider on the Plaza. Hot cocoa, cocktails and treats will be available for purchase from the resort’s Kringle’s Korner, as well as from food trucks on the front drive.

Event-goers of all ages will also enjoy more than 2 million Lagoon Lights, the start of the Princess Express Train, the opening of the Desert Ice Skating Rink and debut of the new Christmas Carousel, which makes its debut this year.



Q&A with Alabaster the Elf of the North Pole Experience


Alabaster Snowflake has a full-time job managing the elves at Santa’s workshop at the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff. Although this same-day experience started six years ago, Alabaster has spent 338 years working with Santa. He runs Elf University, oversees the elves and mingles with children and parents when they walk in the doors of Santa’s workshop. Alabaster described to AFM a day in life working alongside Santa, the elves and why people come from near and far to participate in the “Disneyland” equivalent of Santa’s workshop. 

AFM: What is the North Pole Experience?

AS: They can expect the Christmas experience of a lifetime. It’s a 12,000-sq.-ft. interactive workshop, where children and their families come in to work alongside elves to help assemble toys. They get a chance to see Santa’s toy hall of fame, a lot of toys throughout history that Santa is especially proud of. There are also other activities like Santa’s bakery. And elves make candy canes. Children and guests have the chance to attend Elf University, which is a class where we teach life values like doing homework and working hard, working with others, respecting your parents. A lot of kids have probably already written or texted or “Facebooked” Santa, but we give them an opportunity to write their letter to Santa (in the mail room). After a few more activities they have the chance to see Santa’s 400-year-old sleigh. It’s pretty impressive. They also have personal time with Santa.

AFM: How long does it take to go through the experience? How do you get to the workshop?

AS: It takes about an hour and a half to go through once you walk in the door.  The shuttles, which travel through the portal to the North Pole, emanate from the Little America (NPX Trolley Station) in Flagstaff, which is where you start and return back to after the experience. The experience is not only set up for children, but for parents as well.

AFM: How did you become Santa’s head elf?

AS: I was brought to the North Pole in my youth by the Magic Snowflake. I stumbled upon one of Santa’ s portals and was invited by Santa to come to the North Pole. The world was growing larger and was becoming more and more difficult for him to manage toy production. So I was invited by Santa to help organize the workshop. Anything North Pole related falls under my belt.

AFM: What is Santa really like as a boss?

AS: Santa is an awesome boss. He is the boss everybody wishes they had. He’s jolly and he’s merry, but he’s stern when he has to be because we only have one year to make all the toys we need for Christmas. We’re under deadline, but he does want to foster an environment in the North Pole where the elves become more and more educated each year and become more and more handy, useful, all of those kinds of things. And he rewards us graciously with candy canes and syrup and any kind of candy you can imagine. But mostly we’re rewarded with all the kids who come to visit us each year.

AFM: What’s on your wish list this year?

AS: It’s sounds really cliché, but I would like for children to perhaps get what it is they need in their lives to empower them. Not necessarily just the things they see that they think (they need) like the bubbles, the lights and all that. We have so many children that actually travel to the North Pole and they write their letters to Santa while they’re there. And the smallest children can have the biggest hearts.  We get children who write letters to Santa who are thankful for him finding a job for their dad or for keeping their family together. I would just want for every child’s wish to come true this season.

AFM: What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

AS: All the Christmases are special to me. More recently, I just found out that there are actually children that travel to the North Pole to see me. They do come to see Santa Claus, but it makes me feel very humble to be in that position and have that responsibility.

For more information on the North Pole Experience, visit http://northpoleexperience.com/.


“Fashioned in America” at Phoenix Art Museum


 Wes Gordon


In the 1920’s, 78 percent of clothing was made in the New York Garment District. Today, that number has dropped to just three percent.  To showcase a revival in United States manufacturing, the Phoenix Art Museum is featuring about 30 ensembles from established and up-and-coming designers in its newest exhibit.

During World War II, the Nazis closed off Paris manufacturing districts to the rest of the world. New York took the initiative to become a hub for American-made garments with the formation of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. International garment workers flocked to this new location, and thus, the New York Garment District was born.

The exhibit opens with three looks from the 1940’s that include a vintage wedding dress, an emerald green peplum top and a black and gold dress. Other pieces dated from 2008 to pieces straight from the 2014 runway. These contemporary looks included a red-carpet-ready gown by Rosie Assoulin, an off-white J. Mendel floor length gown, and one menswear look from The Elder Statesman.


The Elder Statesman

Starting with simple items like undergarments and socks, manufacturing slowly moved overseas for cheaper production costs. Dennita Sewell, the fashion curator at the museum, says that if we are going to salvage American made fashion, it’s going to be in the luxury industry.

More and more high-end designers in America want to have a personalized thumbprint on their designs and have control over the final production of the look. Even though these designers are considered American, they are not necessarily American-born. The exhibit features the viewpoints from Wes Gordon, Kaufman Franco and a classic like Oscar de la Renta on the importance of local manufacturing. Some of the benefits of local manufacturing include more control over design, better fit and more profitability.

While local manufacturing is considered a benefit to designers, our society has become global. This means that one collection can be made up of garments made in multiple countries. And that is the beauty of fashion inspiration. “We’re not saying it’s bad to manufacture overseas,” Sewell says. “We’re just saying here are all the considerations.”

The exhibit is open until March 15, 2015 in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery. Visit http://www.phxart.org/exhibition/fashionedinamerica for more information.


Off to the Races: Del Mar's Extended Racing Season

del mar P Courtyard Night Pano del mar

Luxury boutique hotels anchor the coastal paradise of Del Mar, which just introduced an expended racing season this fall.


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