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Riley Heruska
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Is there anything more magical than gliding across the ice with family and friends during the holidays? Although North Texas is short on natural bodies of water and freezing cold temperatures, we've got a handful of ice skating locations that will fit nicely on your holiday bucket list. Here are some of the top ones we recommend visiting. 

Dr. Pepper StarCenterFarmers Branch 

The first outdoor rink to be introduced to this city, the Farmer's Branch StarCenter rink is one you won't want to miss. It's open every day from now until January 6. For more specific hours, click here. To skate under the stars on one of their open nights, admission is $9 for adults and $8 for kids ages 4 to 17. Skate rentals are $4. 

Ice at the Parks 
- Arlington 

At The Parks Mall on Cooper Street, be sure to check out the public themed skate night this month on December 28. Everyone will arrive in their best and ugliest Christmas sweaters, then spend some time strutting their stuff on the ice. If you can't wait that long to go skating, check out their public session schedule. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for kids ages 6 to 13. Skate rentals are $3. 

Galleria Ice Skating Center
- Dallas 

Want to feel like you're at the Rockefeller rink in NYC? Come skate around an enormous Christmas tree at the Galleria Dallas. Anyone will get in the holiday spirit while flying around this festive rink. Admission is $12 per person and skate rentals are $3. Click here to view the public skating hours. 

Allen Community Ice Rink
- Allen 

This full-size rink off of Stacy Road has everything you need to become a better skater. From open skate days to lessons for both kids and adults, you can find whatever you need at this spacious facility. Open skate hours vary day by day, so be sure to check online before heading over to the rink. Skates are only $3 to rent, and entry is $5. 


Where do you like to go ice skating? Leave some suggestions in the comments below for your fellow residents! 

Riley Heruska
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Image belongs to Netflix

Before we dive into the details of this brilliant, terrifying show, let's clear one thing up: this Netflix original is not just for horror movie fanatics and people who like to be scared. It's also for people who appreciate high-quality and addicting stories of personal battles, relationships and mental health. The Haunting of Hill House has so much more to offer than jump scares, so even if you're not a fan of scary movies, keep reading. 

There are dozens of reasons to watch this critically-acclaimed series, if not more, but today we're just talking about the top five. If you're not ready to watch all ten episodes this weekend after reading them, then you're truly missing out on what has been dubbed "the first great horror TV series."

1. The cinematography is stunning.

Regardless of how you feel about scary movies and shows, anyone can appreciate the effort that went into filming this production. For instance, in episode six, there are long chunks of unedited shots. You'll find yourself wondering how the actors worked around this filming technique and what the massive set must look like to allow for such maneuvering. Furthermore, the coloring and special effects in every scene contribute to an overall aesthetic that will please any lover of film or art. 

2. Everything, from the costumes to the shocking scares, is perfectly planned.

Nothing about The Haunting of Hill House is sloppy. Whether it's a jean jacket on a character or a ghost lurking in a hall, everything was intentionally placed to draw the viewer in. You won't find any pathetic jump scares or unnecessary suspense in this show, which is refreshing in a world of poorly-plotted horror movies. 

3. Many of the most terrifying elements are subtle.

Over the course of the series, there are dozens of hidden ghosts that are almost invisible to the naked eye. You might even need to re-watch episodes in order to note all of the terrifying details in the background. Additionally, the dialogue is packed with foreboding elements, and if you pay close enough attention, you'll notice the puzzle pieces the writers planted in every episode. 

4. The show is more about family than it is about terror. 

Because the show follows a set of siblings and their two parents, many of its themes stem from their family dynamics and complicated relationships. You'll find yourself immensely interested in every character's backstory, and the creators do an excellent job of setting up questions only to draw out long, horrifying answers. The story is equal parts moving and terrible, and like thousands of others, you'll be addicted after episode one. 

5. It's morbidly fun to solve the mysteries along with the characters. 

What's with the Bent-Neck Lady? Who is Luke playing with in the woods? What really happened to Olivia? Each episode reveals a new secret, and if you like playing detective, you'll get a real kick out of trying to solve the convoluted, disturbing mysteries. 


Have you watched The Haunting of Hill House yet? If so, what did you think of it? Leave your opinions in the comment section! 

Riley Heruska
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From now until December 30 in Arlington, a massive sprawl of shimmering lights and holiday activities is open for visitors. Enchant holds the world's largest Christmas light maze. However, the maze isn't all this holiday attraction has to offer North Texas. 

Once you're inside the park, you'll find that you can ice skate through impressive displays, visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, then watch live entertainment in the form of nightly musical shows. There's also an entire Christmas market to explore, complete with seasonal treats, hot drinks and trinkets for everyone in the family. These vendors come from all over the metroplex and provide the perfect opportunity for a bit of holiday shopping while you have fun. 

Tickets for Enchant start at $19.99 for single admissions, but you can also buy 4-packs and season passes for a discount. Children under the age of 3 are free. There are also tickets available on Groupon for discounted prices on select nights. 

Learn more about Enchant and buy tickets at enchantchristmas.com.

Riley Heruska
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December may have just begun, but this month will fly by in a blur of wrapping paper and Christmas music. We all know that it's easy to let the end of the year slip away from us, so why not schedule a few holiday activities to make sure you take advantage of everything DFW offers at this special time of year? 

Here are ten of our favorite DFW activities to participate in during the month of December. Start buying your tickets and marking your calendars because these events are fast-approaching. 

1. See A Christmas Carol performed at the Wyly Theatre. There's nothing more classic than Dickens' tale of ghosts and redemption, and lucky for us, the story is coming to life in Dallas this year on select nights. Tickets start at $25 on certain nights. 

2. Celebrate The 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum. From November 14 until December 30, on Wednesday through Sunday evenings, the Dallas Arboretum lights up with a beautiful outdoor Christmas exhibit. View enchanting gazebos filled with charming images, from ladies dancing to a partridge in a pear tree. Admission is $20 for non-member adults and $10 for children ages 2 to 12. 

3. Snap a photo of the 95-foot tall Christmas tree at the GalleriaWhile you're at it, visit Santa's Village to see the big man himself. There will also be pet adoption opportunities, a Menorah lighting, and donation opportunities on select dates. 

4. Wander through a holiday light maze at Enchant Christmas in Arlington. Whether you're into ice skating or sipping hot cocoa, you can find your favorite holiday activity surrounded by a blaze of twinkling lights and the biggest Christmas maze. Plus, Santa and Mrs. Claus are paying Enchant a visit. There's even a Christmas market for shopping and spreading cheer. Tickets start at $20 on the Enchant website. There's also currently a Groupon for certain dates, so you might want to check that out if you're taking the whole family. 

5. Buy last-minute tickets to the Texas Ballet Theater's performance of The Nutcracker.
What better way to ring in the holiday than by traveling to the Kingdom of Sweets? Watch as talented performers bring the Nutcracker, Clara, the evil Rat Queen, and of course the Sugar Plum Fairy, to life on stage. Tickets for the Bass Performance Hall dates start are still available, so book now. 

6. Join in the Dallas Jingle Bell Run in Downtown.
For more than two decades, families have shown up to this 5k race, 1-mile fun run and lively post-race party. Join and show up in your most festive holiday attire so that you can embrace the Christmas spirit while you run. Even if you're not a strong athlete, you can enjoy spending time with friends and walking the course while listening to carolers. Tickets for kids under 10 start at $25 and adult tickets start at $40. 

7. Embrace your wild side at the Dallas Zoo Lights event.
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on many nights, the Dallas Zoo will transform into a winter wonderland complete with more than one million twinkling lights. Have fun exploring the various animal exhibits, then enjoy some hot chocolate and holiday festivities once it gets dark outside. 

8. Check out the 12 acres of brilliant lights at Vitruvian Lights in Addison.
Until Tuesday, January 1, Virtruvian Park will be bright with Christmas lights. It's completely free to walk around the park and take in the beautiful lights, so bring the whole family. If you go on December 8, there will even be a special performance after 6 p.m. 

9. Take your kids to see The Trains at NorthPark.
This is an event that many of us have visited for years, so why shun tradition now? The trains benefit Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, giving to families in need. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children and seniors. 

10. Attend The Gift of Christmas at Prestonwood Church in Plano.
If you're searching for a holiday show that will wow your little ones and keep everyone captivated for a couple of hours, look no further: The Gift of Christmas is breathtaking. People of all ages will enjoy the spectacular multimedia presentation, and if you act quickly, you can still snag reasonably priced seats on certain dates. If you're thinking this is some small church performance, you're wrong; thousands attend to see the state-of-the-sart effects and live orchestra. 


What are you doing to celebrate the holiday season in DFW? Leave other suggestions in the comments!

Riley Heruska
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It's that time of year again. College students are cramming for their finals, that last stretch before the glorious winter break. Chances are, if you know a student, they're stressed out of their mind right now. 

One thing you can do to lift their spirits and motivate them is to send them a thoughtful care package. Consider sending one or two of these items to a student you know during the next week or two. 

1. Starbucks gift card. This one seems obvious, but trust me, there is no such thing as "too much caffeine" during finals week. Plus, coffee shops are great study locations, so gift cards give students the chance to camp out with their materials somewhere besides their cramped little dorm rooms. 

2. New headphones. These don't have to be especially fancy, but at school, it's easy to misplace your headphones in various jacket pockets and backpacks. It will be nice for your student to have an extra pair on hand in case they need to block out their roommate's chatter while cramming for their exam or writing a paper. 

3. Portable battery pack. Nothing's more annoying than being forced to trek back to your dorm room to grab a charger for your phone or laptop. Arm students with battery packs they can stick in their backpack so they aren't forced to cut their study sessions short when their devices start to die. 

4. Comfy clothing. Practically everyone lives in their sweats during these last few weeks of the semester, and you can never have enough sweatshirts or cozy socks at this time of year. 

5. Holiday-themed treats. It may not be winter break just yet, but munching on some gingerbread cookies or Christmas candy can certainly make students feel like the holiday is fast approaching. Plus, everyone needs some junk food to snack on during late-night, semi-panicked study groups. 

6. Highlighters and notecards. Because you can actually never have enough of these when it's time to take all your exams. 

7. Reusable water bottle. 
Staying hydrated during finals week is often low-priority, but if students want to stay healthy, they need to drink plenty of water. Encourage them to stick a reusable bottle in their backpack and fill it up throughout the day. 

8. Subscription to Spotify. 
The study playlists on this service are the best. You can either listen online or download them straight to your phone when you don't have service. 

9. Aromatherapy diffuser. 
Essential oils like lavender, chamomile and lemon are great for easing stress. Also, diffusers will cover up those nasty smells of unwashed laundry and dusty dorm rooms, making students feel more at home in their environment. 

10. Food they can make in their dorm room. 
On serious cram nights, students may opt to stay in rather than hitting the dining hall. Give them some snacks they can make in their dorm, like popcorn or instant oatmeal, so they don't run out of brain food. 


Do you have any other ideas for student care packages? List them in the comment section below! 

Riley Heruska
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Despite the fact that 180 kids died from the flu last season (80 percent of which weren't vaccinated against the illness), many parents are still planning on avoiding the flu vaccine this year. The question is, why

According to a poll published by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 34 percent of the surveyed parents said that although their children's doctors recommended getting the flu vaccine, they wanted to make their own decisions based on what they heard from friends and family. Most of these parents claimed to have heard negative things about the flu vaccine from internet sources and other people. It's estimated that nearly 4 in every 10 parents are making decisions about the flu vaccine based on what they've read or heard, not on what their health officials have recommended. 

To be clear, the CDC adamantly states that the flu vaccine should be given to everyone over the age of six months, as long as their health and allergies permit it. You cannot contract the flu from the vaccine, although you can experience mild symptoms in the hours after receiving the shot. Even if you received the flu shot last year, you must get the new shot in order to protect yourself from this year's strain of the illness.

A study from last year indicates for the first time that the flu vaccine can actually be life-saving for young children. Not only does the vaccine significantly reduce the chance of hospitalization, but it also drastically lowers the risk of severe complications and even death from influenza. 

Furthermore, getting the vaccine is not just about protecting your own family; it's about protecting those around you. Babies, young children, elderly people and individuals with chronic health conditions are more vulnerable to serious sicknesses like the flu, and by getting the flu shot, you may help prevent them from coming into contact with the virus. 

If you, like many parents, have read or heard negative things about the influenza vaccine, don't automatically assume that your family should avoid it. Do your research first and make sure you're learning from trusted sources like the CDC or the American Academy of Pediatrics


Have you and your children gotten vaccinated this year? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below. 

Riley Heruska
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If you think that the zoo is only a place you want to visit on warm spring days, think again. The Dallas Zoo is returning with a winter wonderland once more, and it's worth visiting at least once this holiday season (if not twice).

More than one million twinkling lights will illuminate the zoo over the next few weeks, as well as other festive displays. There will also be fun activities for the entire family, including photo ops, musical performances, ornament making and an elves' workshop! Plus, your ticket gets you admission to the zoo for the entire day, so you can spend as much time as you want meandering through the park. 

What are you waiting for? Buy your tickets to this fun event, then grab a s'more and some hot chocolate while checking out all of the animals and exhibits the zoo has to offer. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children 3-11, and $12 for seniors. Children under the age of 3 get in for free, as do Dallas Zoo Members. 

To learn more about the Dallas Zoo and this event, visit www.dallaszoo.com

Riley Heruska
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Now that Thanksgiving has passed and we can officially welcome the Christmas season, we can all start binge-watching films that fill us with holiday cheer. Thankfully, Netflix is currently streaming a handful of seasonal movies to get you in the mood. Here are some of the best ones to watch over the next few weeks.



The Holiday Calendar 

This family-friendly film follows a young woman who realizes that her grandmother's Advent calendar might be hiding something magical. Every day, something unexplainable happens, and she realizes that the Christmas calendar might be answering questions she's long had about her future. 



Love Actually 

Ever since this film debuted in 2003, it's won the hearts of viewers around the world. Now, we can stream it repeatedly and fall in love as many times as we want to. It is rated R, so maybe save this holiday film for date night, not family movie night. 



The Princess Switch 


This brand new Netflix original film stars Vanessa Hudgens. A twist on The Prince and the Pauper, the story follows a Chicago baker and a soon-to-be-princess who swap places for the holidays. Mischievous and fun, this is a film the whole family can enjoy.  



A Very Murray Christmas 

In this 2015 holiday special, big-name comedians like Amy Poehler and Chris Rock join Bill Murray as he attempts to salvage his Christmas Eve show when a blizzard threatens to shut everything down. It's equal parts musical and comedy, and the all-star cast is a blast to watch. 

 

The Christmas Chronicles
 

This brand-new holiday film casts Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. Some mischievous kids sneak into Santa's sleigh, and their naughty behavior derails Christmas Eve and Santa's plans. Can they save the holiday before it's too late? 



A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding - Available on Friday 

If you loved The Christmas Prince, then you'll adore the sequel that's scheduled to hit Netflix on November 30. Follow Amber as she prepares to marry Richard and become queen of a small nation. Can she handle the pressure of a royal wedding and the expectations of those around her? Find out this weekend. 


Which of these films on Netflix are you excited to watch? Let us know in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
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Once you're stuffed full of turkey and pumpkin pie, you don't have much energy for anything other than watching a good movie. This weekend, there are a handful of great films playing in theaters throughout the area.

Here are the top movies you can take everyone to see, including the youngest kids and grandma and grandpa. 



Ralph Breaks the Internet 

The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph follows Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz into the World Wide Web. Full of timely references and funny quips for the whole family, the film has already received its fair share of praise from critics, so it's sure to be a hit over the holiday weekend. 



Smallfoot 

This funny film takes the myth of the Yeti and turns it on its head. Migo is a Yeti who never knew humans existed, but when he is banished from his home and stumbles across a stray hiker, he's forced to embark on an epic journey. Cute and positive, Smallfoot will bring a smile to anyone's face. 



The Nutcracker and the Four Realms 


There's nothing more seasonal than The Nutcracker, and this unique adaptation stars Keira Knightley and several other talented cast members. It's a perfectly whimsical holiday film, although it does lack dazzling choreography or any traditional elements of the ballet. 



Dr. Seuss' The Grinch 


You already know the story of the grumpy green man who lives on Mount Crumpet, but why not hear it again as Christmas approaches
? The producers of Despicable Me have put a new spin on Whoville, and the Grinch is played by an actor we all know and love: Benedict Cumberbatch. 



Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 


Many people have lamented the changes in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over the years, but that hasn't stopped people from enjoying this new part of Newt Scamander's story. See the beginning of Dumbledore's story and plenty of magical creatures as heroes battle a wizard who's gone bad. 


What movies are you going to watch over Thanksgiving weekend? Let us know in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
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With Black Friday hurtling toward us at the end of the week, and free delivery on Amazon just a click away, most of us end up doing our holiday shopping with big corporations. Although there are certain benefits that come with that, we miss out on the opportunity to support local people and businesses. 

Here at BubbleLife, we're all about the hyperlocal space. We want to find the events, people and businesses that make this area thrive. That's why we want to talk about shopping locally. When you buy from community stores and sellers... 

1. You keep the money inside your community. Not only are you investing in your neighbors and local residents, but you're also keeping the money from leaving the area. It's estimated that for every $100 you spend, roughly 68 to 73 percent of it returns to local activity. Your purchase helps stimulate your community's economy and provide for those who live around you. 

2. You help create jobs for locals. The more we shop at locally-owned stores, the more employees they need to hire for the holiday season. 

3. You protect the environment. Online shopping might be convenient for us, but it's not great for Mother Nature. The US Postal Service estimates that it will make 850 million deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year's. That's a significant amount of waste produced by transportation. Instead, duck into a nearby boutique and snag your gift without ordering something from a different state. 

4. You nurture creativity and entrepreneurs. Don't we want our hometown to be a place full of art and unique creations? The only way a place can reach its full creative potential is if people support such efforts. 

5. You give to non-profits and people in need. Many local business owners partner with non-profit organizations, and a higher percentage of local shop sales goes to charity than non-locally owned businesses. 


Do you shop locally for the holidays? If so, where do you love to buy gifts? Let us know in the comments below!