12 Days Til Christmas

12 Days Til Christmas

12 Days Til Christmas contains links to affiliate websites that I believe are beneficial to Kiara Loves KC readers.

12 Days to Save the Holidays
12 Days to Save the Holidays

Wow! I can’t believe there are only 12 days til Christmas! Can you? Thankfully the weather outside hasn’t been too frightful, yet. That means there are still plenty of ways to get out and have fun. Here are some great places to spend time with the family, have a romantic dinner, enjoy a girls night, or splurge on yourself!

Family Fun


Kidz Playground

Kids expel energy while exploring indoor attractions including a laser tag arena, laser maze, and elevated playground.

Cool Crest
Attractions include four 18 hole miniature golf courses and an open-wheel go kart track.

Glore Psychiatric Museum
Psychiatric museum in “1,000 Things to Do Before You Die” explores old-fashioned mental health treatments un surgical admittance building.

Extreme Grand Prix
Electric karts travel 3 inches off the ground along an indoor course. Speeds go up to 45 miles per hour on a quarter mile road course.

National Airline History Museum
Photographs, artifacts, and aircraft such as 1941 Douglas DC-3 and 1952 Martin 404 illustrate the history of commercial flight.

Drop Zone Paintball
Six fields, spread across 89 acres with scenario-style play, including a castle and towers, and tournament style action, such as speedball.

American Jazz Museum
Look and listen inside exhibits that chronicle the history of jazz, including a 1930s nightclub replica where the musicians play.

Emerald City Gym
Climb and belay on Kansas City’s largest indoor rock wall. Fun meets fitness with obstacle courses, triple swing, and zip line. Bonus: Enter to win a Emerald City Gym Gift Certificate!

Rest and Relaxation


Kansas City Salt Mine
Relax clean, communal salt rooms appointed with zero gravity lounge chairs as the salt air combats respiratory woes and stress.

Sedona Healing Arts
Certified therapists bolster relaxation with a deep tissue massage or Swedish massage enhanced with aromatherapy.

Nail Accents
Nail technician shapes and buffs nails before applying regular or chip-resistant polish.

Faces Makeup Artistry
Let your worries melt away with a one-on-one treatment, including nail shaping, cutical removal, and polish.

Back 2 Body
Massages will soothe tense muscles and relaxing body scrubs & polishes will exfoliate and soften skin.

A Perfect Ten or Twenty
Express manicures start with a warm soak before nail grooming and massage treatment.

Atlas Family Chiropractic and Massage
Massage packages use hot & cold stones on the face and body to relax your muscles and your mind.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Marina Grog and Galley

Propco Date Night
Create your own ultimate date night with online vouchers for a movie, an 8″ x 10″ photo canvas, and food.

Le Peep
Specialty egg dishes, tropical smoothies, and fun twists on classic fare wake up the taste buds during breakfast and lunch.

Wine and Design
Nightly painting parties combine brushstrokes with BYO drinks to foster a fun and creative atmosphere.

Marina Grog & Galley
KC Originals restaurant helmed by a Lake Lotawana native serves dry-aged steaks and fresh fish flown in from Hawaii. Ideal for holiday meals.

Soaring Adventures of America
Leisurely float through the skies in the basket of a colorful hot air balloon.

Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum
Ranked a “Top 10 Sports Bar” by USA Today, this all-American grill serves up burgers and wings amidst 10,000 pieces of sports memorabilia.

The Murder Mystery Co.
Interactive murder mystery dinner stars professional actors testing the sleuthing skills of guests throughout a three course meal.

Although 12 Days Til Christmas contains affiliate links, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.





Hot Chocolate Happy Hour

The Kansas City Power & Light District is hosting the Hot Chocolate Happy Hour in the Kansas City Live! Block on Friday, December 4th, Saturday, December 5th, Friday, December 11th and Saturday, December 12th. Meet Santa and two of his reindeer, enjoy complimentary hot cocoa*, and festive holiday music. Photos are free, just bring your own camera.

The Hot Chocolate Happy Hour takes place from 4-6 pm. Afterwards, stick around for S’Mores with Santa from 6 to 8 p.m. For just $5 per person ($20 per family), enjoy tasty s’mores* and watch holiday movies on the KC Live! screen.

Holiday Movie Schedule (movies begin at 6 pm):

December 4th and 19th: Elf
Buddy was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs, a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.

December 5th and 18th: Miracle on 34th Street
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.

December 11th: Home Alone
When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.

December 12th: A Christmas Story
Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker, who spends most of his time dodging a bully and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad but comforted by his doting mother, Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.

Dazzle KC Holiday Trolley

Head down to The Hot Chocolate Happy Hour in style! Take a ride on the free Downtown Dazzle trolleys with stops in the Power & Light District, Crown Center, Union Station and Barney Allis Plaza. Experience all the festivities, lights and spirit downtown Kansas City has in store this holiday season! Trolleys run 6 – 10 pm on Fridays and 4 – 10 pm on Saturdays. Park in the Power & Light District for just $2 at the KC Live! Block garage, grab dinner and drinks and then take a Downtown Dazzle trolley ride! For details, visit www.dazzlekc.com.

*First come first served. While supplies last.

The Long Night by Tim Matsui

The Long Night by Tim Matsui, an Emmy-nominated multimedia journalist and producer, shines a light on the issue of sex trafficking in America. This riveting documentary weaves together the stories of seven people — young girls who were forced or coerced into the sex trade, their parents, and police — whose lives have been forever changed.  Originally a photography project the 72-minute film is a culminates 15 years of work. Set in Seattle, WA, it was named Pictures of the Year International’s top documentary project of 2014.

Photo Still from The Long Night.
In 2007, Lisa, at age 13, was desperate to find a way to survive on the streets.
Photo still from The Long Night.
Natalie ran away from home in 2010, then was forced into prostitution.

The Kansas City Public Library screened The Long Night at the Plaza Branch’s Truman Forum Auditorium. Matsui then lead a later discussion with Kristy Childs, a trafficking survivor who founded the service organization Veronica’s Voice; Craig Hill, a retired Leawood, KS police detective now working as a training consultant with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and FBI sex crimes investigator Megan Kline.

Before the screening began, Matsui warned the audience of the extent of the graphic footage he had captured. The opening scene of the film is also an advisement for viewer discretion. Still, I was ill-prepared for my reaction to what I viewed. The Long Night should be better described as raw; frightening; a threat to the status quo of anyone who sees it.

“Everybody’s child is at risk if we don’t address this…including my own.” – Andy

I held Lily closely. This could be her one day. This could be our story one day. Tears filled my eyes and a heaviness settled in my chest as I watched and listened to the heart-wrenching stories documented in the film.

Photo still from The Long Night. Tim Matsui/Alexia Foundation
A ‘john’ is stopped for picking up a known prostitute and arrested for possesion of 41 grams of crack cocaine and a firearm. Tim Matsui/Alexia Foundation

I love Kansas City but I’m not ignorant of the gritty underground that isn’t so far removed from my front door. Yet, The Long Night touched on an issue of which members of the audience, were admittedly unaware. “I had no clue”, said one woman. While the statistic that Kansas City is #2 or even in the top 10 of nationwide sex trafficking areas can be (and was during the panel discussion) argued, it is happening here.

Photo still from The Long Night.

I stopped writing movie reviews because who am I to tell someone whether or not to go see a film. If you’re interested in a film, go see it. If it sucks, find out it suck for yourself. If it’s great, find out it’s great for yourself. But I will absolutely recommend watching The Long Night by Tim Matsui. Experience the film at www.mediastorm.com.

The film was co-presented by the Kansas City/Mid-America chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers and Pictures of the Year International.

Have you seen The Long Night? Let’s start a dialogue! Express your thoughts of the film by leaving a comment below. Do you have an opinion about the issue of sex trafficking in America or here in Kansas City? Please share them!

Where to Shop Local in KC

There are so many great neighborhoods in Kansas City, all with their own special flair! For those who are shopping for unique specialty gifts, look no further than right here at home. No matter what part of Kansas City you’re in there are plenty of locally owned businesses that will cater to your likes in fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and everything else! Here’s my neighborhood guide to shop local in KC.


The (New) Dime Store
The (New) Dime Store

The Brookside Shops have been fulfilling J.C. Nichols’ vision for the absolute best in neighborhood shopping, dining and services for nearly a century. Generations of Kansas Citians have turned to the Brookside Shopping District to meet their everyday needs along with the extraordinary, too. Located in the 63rd Street area, between Main Street and Wornall Road, over 80 shops, restaurants, and service providers call this area home.

City Market

Historic City Market
Historic City Market

Open daily and featuring an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and attractions in a unique open-air setting, the City Market offers visitors a variety of fresh produce, meat, specialty groceries, flowers and gift items from nearby farms and around the world. Steeped in over 150 years of tradition, the City Market offers shoppers the region’s largest farmers’ market and the opportunity to buy the best of the heartland direct from producers, every Saturday and Sunday, year-round. The City Market has an extensive calendar, hosting concerts, festivals and other special events.

Country Club Plaza

Fogo de Chao
Fogo de Chao

The Plaza’s popularity and reputation has gained recognition around the country. The entire 15-block district, with more than 150 shops and dozens of fine restaurants, makes the Country Club Plaza Kansas City’s premier retail, dining and entertainment destination.

Crossroads Arts District

KC Crossroads First Friday
KC Crossroads First Friday

It’s called the Crossroads for a reason. It’s more than just the intersection of two streets in downtown Kansas City. It’s a vibrant and diverse community that welcomes all walks of life and all forms of artistic expression. Home to more than 400 local artists and 100 independent studios, the Crossroads Arts District is one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation. Beyond the galleries, restaurants and storefronts, you’ll find an equally impressive collection of professional design studios, architectural firms, advertising agencies, and other innovative businesses.

Downtown KC

Power & Light District
Power & Light District

This renaissance of Downtown Kansas City is creating a modern mixed-use vibrant urban center expressed through a thriving arts scene, an emerging entrepreneurial district and diverse residential neighborhoods. This is where creativity and ingenuity meet to deliver the latest foodie hotspots, legendary live music venues, one-of-a-kind shops, and year-round outdoor fun. These elements are setting the stage for a successful future and fulfilling Downtown KC’s vast potential.

KC Jazz District

American Jazz Museum
American Jazz Museum

Come to the 18th & Vine Jazz District to experience great dining, fabulous museums, Jazz and Negro Leagues baseball, progressive dance, cultural education and preservation, local businesses and a historic neighborhood! Welcome! The Jazz District continues to transform this historic and cultural neighborhood, while retaining the spirit of the Jazz District heritage!

North Kansas City

Zona Rosa's Tradition of Crowns
Zona Rosa’s Tradition of Crowns

North Kansas City is an inviting small town with something to offer every type of visitor. From the annual Snake Saturday Parade to the night-life at Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino, it is the perfect place to live, work, and play! Two major shopping areas in North Kansas City are Zona Rosa and The Shops at Boardwalk.


Waldo KC
Waldo KC

Waldo is a vibrant neighborhood and business district in the heart of Kansas City. What began in 1841 as the farm of Dr. David Waldo, soon became a bustling neighborhood on the edge of the city – a town unto itself. Waldo has never lost its flavor of a fun, little family neighborhood on the edge of a big city. Today, you’ll find more than 600 businesses in Waldo, 60% of which are locally owned, surrounded by a family oriented neighborhood. It’s a wonderful place to work, shop, live and play!

West 39th Street District

d'Bronx Authentic Deli and Pizzeria
d’Bronx Authentic Deli and Pizzeria

The West 39th Street District is why so many people enjoy “finding” Kansas City! This Community Improvement District (CID) stretches from Stateline to Southwest Trafficway, and now has 92 businesses, 97% of them local services, boutiques and restaurants. The West 39th Street District offers diversity of city life in the heart of Midtown, Kansas City.


Westport Square
Westport Square

Westport, Kansas City’s original entertainment district, boasts a rich history as the oldest established community in Kansas City. More than 150 years ago, Westport marked the passage into the Western Frontier and set the foundation for what it is today; a thriving shopping and entertainment district. Westport is the fusion of local eateries, fashionable boutiques and hot night-spots compounded with remnants of the neighborhood’s historic past.

What are your favorite local shops? Let me know in the comment section below!

Lyric Opera’s Rusalka

20151106_191454_LLS-1In Eastern Europe and Slavic legend, a rusalka was a water sprite or nymph. Originally thought of as benevolent, they were associated with fertility. They would emerge from the water in the spring to help nuture crops before returning. However, in the 19th century, the legends got darker. The rusalka became known as the spirit of a woman who had died in the water. She was said to be malevolent, sometimes luring unsuspecting men to their death with her beauty, much like mermaids and sirens of Western European stories.

While the story of the Little Mermaid and Rusalka have similarities, there are several key differences. Rusalka is a water sprite, not a mermaid. The ending of the original story of The Little Mermaid and Rusalka also diverge. As Hans Christian Andersen wrote it in The Little Mermaid, the mermaid is told she must kill the prince she loves to regain her life under the sea. Unable to do it, she becomes a spirit of the air. In Rusalka, her inability to kill the prince means that she must remain a water spirit for eternity.

Antonin Dvorák, composer of Rusalka, was born in Bohemia, now a part of the Czech Republic. He officially began studying music at the age of 12. His first works were actually polkas. Dvorák is best known for his emphasis on nationalism in music. He brought this perspective to America. While in the United States, he pushed for composers to incorporate melodies common in Native American and African American culture. He insisted that a truly American sound needed an infusion of all elements of the culture.

Principal Cast
Ellie Dehn – Rusalka
Maxim Aksenov – Prince
Nancy Maultsby – Ježibaba
Robert Pomakov – Vodnik
Kirsten Chambers – Foreign Princess
Ashley Wheat – 1st Wood Sprite
April Martin – 2nd Wood Sprite
Samantha Gossard – 3rd Wood Sprite
Derrek Stark – Voice of a Huntsman

20151106_190934_LLS-1Although Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Antonin Dvorák’s Rusalka are based on the same Hans Christian Andersen fable, this isn’t your daughter’s Ariel. A hauntingly poetic libretto matched with a lush score, Rusalka tells the story of a lovely yet lovelorn mermaid who yearns to become human. Performances for Lyric Opera’s Rusalka will be at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, November 7-15, 2015.