Lifestyle & Features

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Community Shares HELP for the Holidays

November, 2010

The holiday season is here, which means it’s time for family, friends and food drives. Nov. 8th kicked off the start of the holiday programs organized by HELP of Southern Nevada. Incorporated in 1970, HELP of Southern Nevada is a local organization that serves the poor, the homeless and those in crisis. Through collaboration with other organizations, and a plethora of assistance programs, HELP works toward achieving their vision of making a positive difference in the community and increasing self-sufficiency. Continuing their annual traditions, HELP will be hosting three main holiday programs through December, including a Turkey-A-Thon, Toy Drive and an Adopt-A-Family program. The first program of the holiday season will continue throughout November. HELP will be gathering donations from around the community to distribute to families who need assistance in accumulating the necessary items to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner of their own. “We’re just gearing up to get as much food, turkey and all the trimmings as we can to help people in need this holiday,” said Mary Hausch, HELP Board of Trustees member and a supporter of HELP for more than 25 years. Food drives at various locations including the Las Vegas Day School and Meadow School will be gathering donations and will be distributed Nov. 22, along with numerous turkeys. “The hard part is really getting the turkeys. Schools have canned food drives, but we usually have to have somebody buy turkeys for us and we get great help, like Smith’s Food King, bakes pumpkin pies for us and they give us a ton of pumpkin pies to distribute,” Hausch said. “We make sure every family has all the basic components of a Thanksgiving dinner.” Following the Thanksgiving program, HELP will be hosting toy drives around Las Vegas collecting gifts for families in crisis. “Gift cards are really terrific. We are moving to gift cards a lot on our Christmas drive, particularly for teenagers, because they like to do their own shopping,” Hausch said. In addition to hosting toy drives, HELP also hosts a program they call Adopt-A-Family, which allows volunteers to provide an entire family with gifts to open on Christmas day. Volunteers are paired up with a family in need and are provided a ‘wish list’ for their family so they may provide the family with gifts they themselves are unable to afford. “My personal goal is to, on Christmas morning know that when my kids are opening their presents, that all the other kids have been visited by Santa Claus too,” said Hausch. To volunteer, donate, or for more information contact HELP of Southern Nevada by visiting their website at www.helpsonv.org.

Vegas StrEATS Festival Slidin’ into Downtown

March, 2011

The Neon Reverb’s downtown brigade showcased the first Vegas StrEATS Festival to the Vegas scene. From snow cones to burgers, music to beer, the Vegas StrEATS Festival was more than your typical concession-lined get together. Slidin’ Thru, Las Vegas' premiere mobile street food vendor, collaborated in a meeting of the minds and in two-week’s time brought the community together for a food truck party extravaganza. “This all started with our own idea and how to bring the community more together while revitalizing downtown,” said Dylan Taucer, co-founder of Slidin’ Thru. “It's funny, the team was just brainstorming about having a huge downtown food festival and the very next day Thirry Harlin from Neon Reverb contacted me about doing a festival.” And so began the developmental process of the well-received Vegas StrEATS Festival. What was once the El Cortez’s underused parking strip between Las Vegas Boulevard and Sixth Street was now transformed into a bustling display of food trucks, artists and entertainment. In response to prior feedback, Taucer and his slidin’ crew wanted to prove to the community just how much culture downtown has to offer. “We wanted to bring culture and the community together downtown and we plan on doing this now as a monthly event,” said Taucer. The top 8 food trucks from around the city parked in row as droves of hungry attendees gathered around for performances by local bands, DJs and rappers. “The turnout we got further exceeds any expectations we had,” said Taucer. Also included in the evening’s list of attractions were live art installations, street wear clothing vendors and street artists perched on benches churning out graffiti and tattoo-styled one-of-a-kind works of art. With an initial success at the El Cortez, Taucer says they have big plans of expanding the Vegas StrEATS Festival over the course of time to eventually take over the downtown streets. “The El Cortez has been amazing and are our biggest supporter. This is going to be a monthly event and we hope they remain involved and that other venues jump in as well,” said Taucer. “We’re going to grow one parking lot at a time and eventually we’d like this to take over all downtown. It’s one crazy, super, awesome, mega-flavor explosion of cultural madness!” For more information on the event or to get involved in future events contact Dylan Taucer with Slidin’ Thru at dylan@slidinthru.com.

Torch Club Lights the Way for Youth Leadership

October, 2009

The claps and calls of the authorities soon silenced the chaos that had taken control of the room. Soon 11 individuals separated themselves from the crowd and gathered in a private room. They sat among one another around two tables that had been pushed together to accommodate their needs. As they began to talk among themselves in the book-lined room it became apparent what set them apart from the others. Soon the words that hung on the wall became more than a goal laden banner but rather an icon that portrayed the character strengths of those individuals who continued to gather every week. Hanging high on the wall by the door for all to see the banner read: “Torch Club members lead by example and are respectful, reliable, responsible, and tolerant of others.” Sounds like stereotyped professional employee goals, but for these elite few 11 to 13-year-olds, it continues to stand for the character foundation that set them apart from their peers at the John D. “Jackie” Gaughan Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
 Launched on March 10, 2003 the Gaughan Boy’s and Girl’s Torch Club is a small leadership development program for elite Boys and Girls Club members, and is funded by the Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas.
 Boys and Girls Clubhouse Director Adam Jimenez said The Torch Club is a small group of 12 to 14 people. They are the best of the best individuals that apply. The Torch Club prefers to maintain its small and more personal atmosphere and was designed as a service to the public community.
Applications to apply to the elite club are turned in once a year at the beginning of the school year, in September and are evaluated by the child’s support to the program and desire to join and participate in community involvement and leadership roles.
 “We plan parties and do special things for those who deserve it,” said Destiny Monroe.
Parties are not the only things this group works together to create. Selected individuals partake in electing officers and organize leadership activities and community service projects within the Boys and Girls Club as well as in the surrounding community.
 “We also do more educational things, and things outside of the club,” said Savannah Ponce.
When asked about their organized projects and activities, the members supplied a list of examples of activities they had completed, among these activities were cleaning the surrounding areas of the Boys and Girls Club, feeding the homeless, helping create fun activities for the Boys and Girls Club members, and visiting with senior citizens. With enthusiasm and optimism these select individuals stand ahead of the crowd and strive to excel in leadership roles among their peers and service volunteers among the community. “I really like that I get to help other kids do their homework and help with instructions,” Yims Ravelo Cepero said. “It is a lot of fun to work with the outside community.” For more information on the John D. “Jackie” Gaughan Boy’s and Girl’s Club and the Torch Club please call (702) 731-6658 or stop by the club location at 920 Cottage Grove Ave. on the UNLV campus.

Keeping It Light - Guilt Free Cocktails

February, 2014

With thousands of bars, clubs and lounges, Las Vegas is the city of ideal happy hours and bar menus for a fun and flirty night out. However, a night out on the town doesn’t necessarily have to mean an increase in pant size or a feeling of fullness. With various skinny and light drink options, people can enjoy all the liquid flavors without the heavy guilt. Located by UNLV at 4700 Maryland Parkway, the Freakin’ Frog offers a variety of light drink alternatives. Among their lighter alcohols are the Freakin’ Moscato, a wine based sparkling moscato combined with Freakin’ Lightning clear whiskey. The Bloody Snake Bite is a beer-based drink including a combination of light lager, light cider and a hint of framboise. And the Freakin’ New Fashioned is a hard liquor cocktail made of Freakin’ Lightning and a dash of sugar strained over a cherry and combined with two dashes of two bitters. “I think being able to give somebody a wine based drink that’s lighter, or a beer based drink that’s lighter or a hard-liquor based drink that’s lighter really appeals to every person who’s just looking for something lighter,” says Adam Carmer, founder of The Whiskey Attic and CEO and founder of Freakin’ Frog. If you’re looking for something with a stronger kick yet still on the lighter side of the scale, Bar + Bistro at the Art’s Factory, located at 107 E. Charleston Boulevard #155, has even more light drink options with the strong whiskey flavors found at bars around the world. Among those worldly drinks are the Bourbon the Old Fashion Way, based on the heavy bourbon drink from the 1880 Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, and Fleur de 75 (French 75), a bubbly and citrus drink coming out of the New York Bar in Paris. A light house favorite at Bar + Bistro, the Honey Badger, is a shaken combination of Jameson, lemon, Amargo Chuncho bitters and ginger infused Runny-Honey, which offers a full combination of sweet, spicy and tart all at once. Bringing the title of ‘skinny’ right into the drink names, Blue Martini’s skinny drinks menu offers the traditional flavors of the basic pina colada, mojito and margarita but all with fewer than 250 calories each. The Skinny Rita, served on the rocks, is a lighter cocktail including Milagro Silver tequila, agave nectar, and Finest Call Sweet and Sour Lite. A brand-new menu item for Blue Martini, the Not-A-Lotta-Colada is a non-blended combination of Bacardi pineapple fusion, coconut water and coco real (light coconut milk). The lounge’s most popular skinny drink item, the Skinny Mojitos, come in three flavors and contain fresh lime and mint, light simple syrup and club soda with the choice of Bacardi Black Razz, Bacardi Pineapple Fusion or Bacardi Dragon Berry. Bringing drinks to an all-time temperature low, Minus5 Ice Bar mixes up ice cold drinks good to the last drop. With the use of infused vodkas, these light drink options avoid additional sugars, syrups or heavy mixers. Served up in an ice glass, Frozen Assets is a Marilyn Monroe strawberry vodka-based drink with white cranberry and a splash of cranberry juice. And their icy take on the Frozen Mojito adds some tweaks to the traditional cocktail, using a mint infused rum and no simple syrups, therefore providing significantly lower sugar content. When it comes to cocktails and specialty drinks, this city has plenty to offer, and when the option of keeping it light comes up, most bars have just as many flavorful options to choose from. “Everybody’s in a different mood. Sometimes you’re in a mood for something bigger and stronger and bolder and sometimes you just want something lighter,” says Carmer. “It’s not necessarily because you want to lose weight, but sometimes you just want something that won’t weigh you down. Everybody at some point appreciates something that’s lighter.” SIDE BAR: Location and Their Drinks: Freakin’ Frog: Freakin’ Moscato (wine-based): Sparkling pink Moscato mixed with Freakin’ Lightning (a kosher white whiskey). This sparkling Moscato base is both fruity and low sugar. When combined with Freakin’ Lighting, an 88 proof, clear whiskey of 95 percent corn, 5 percent bourbon and all the conjures taken out, this drink gives off a very refreshing and aromatic fragrance which opens up the Moscato. Bloody Snake Bite (beer-based): With the combination of a light lager, light cider and a very little bit of a Framboise, customers experience the freshness and flavor from the raspberries without the overwhelming sugars. Freakin’ New Fashioned (hard liquor cocktail): This cocktail has a Freakin’ Lighting base and is completely customizable. The Freakin’ New Fashioned is a combination of Freakin’ Lightning and a teaspoon of sugar, strained over a cherry and combined with two dashes of various bitters. By customizing this drink by combining various combinations of the two bitters, the entire personality of the drink can change and appeal to any taste bud. “The Freakin’ New Fashioned is a parade of both visual sensory perception and the finish is fabulous,” Carmer says. “It tastes delicious, it’s super light, refreshing, perfect for the summer and perfect for people who want something with lots of flavor but not a lot of calories.” Bar + Bistro at the Arts Factory: Bourbon the Old Fashioned Way: Based on the heavy bourbon drink from the 1880 Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, this whiskey drink is a combination of bourbon, Demerara syrup, Fee’s Old Fashion bitters and Fee’s Aztec Chocolate bitters garnished with a lime rind. Fleur de 75 (French 75): Coming out of the New York Bar in Paris, this drink contains a bubbly, citrus combination of Hendricks, Saint Germain, lavender syrup, dandelion bitters, lemon and Prosecco, providing those who try it a refreshing lemony drink that’s great for summertime. Honey Badger: A house favorite, this drink includes a shaken combination of Jameson, lemon, Amargo Chuncho bitters and ginger infused Runny-Honey, which gives the drink its popular intense ginger flavor. “The Honey Badger is by far one of the favorites here,” says Bar + Bistro’s Executive Chef Beni Velazquez. “This drink is a combination of the honey flavor for the sweetness, the spiciness from the ginger and the tartness from the lemons, so you get tart, spice and sweet all at the same time. And since it has Jameson you can’t beat it.” Blue Martini Lounge: Skinny Rita: Served on the rocks, this lighter cocktail includes Milagro Silver tequila, agave nectar, and Finest Call Sweet and Sour Lite. With fewer calories and lighter ingredients, the Skinny Rita provides the same tangy taste of the traditional margarita. Skinny Mojito: Coming in three flavors, the skinny Mojitos contain fresh lime and mint, light simple syrup and club soda with the choice of Bacardi Black Razz, Bacardi Pineapple Fusion, or Bacardi Dragon Berry. Not-A-Lotta-Colada: This drink brings a-lotta flavor with not-a-lotta calories. A brand new menu item for Blue Martini, this is a non-blended combination of Bacardi pineapple fusion, coconut water and coco real (light coconut milk). All of Blue Martini’s skinny drinks offer the traditional flavors of the basic pina colada, mojito and margarita but all with fewer than 250 calories each. Minus5: Frozen Mojito: Adding some tweaks to the traditional cocktail, this mojito uses a mint infused rum and no simple syrups, therefore providing significantly lower sugar content. “When the mint is infused into the rum it makes the rum minty flavored so you don’t actually have to use the sweetness of the sugar to counteract, and we don’t use fresh lime juice in it, since limes would just freeze in the ice bar, so because of that you don’t have the super tartness that comes with the lime and the acidity. It naturally blends itself out and makes a nice summery drink,” says Rupert King, general manager of Minus5 inside the Monte Carlo. Frozen Assets: Using a Marilyn Monroe strawberry vodka base, this icy drink also includes white cranberry and a splash of cranberry juice, creating a flavor profile comparable to strawberry cheesecake but without the guilt.

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A Heavenly Escape; The Shores of Lake Tahoe

July, 2010

Settled in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains rests the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe. Lying 6,228 feet above sea level, Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters run 1,645 feet deep. From warm sandy beaches and clear blue waters in the summer to snow-covered mountain resorts in the winter, Lake Tahoe offers everything for the ultimate travel getaway. Feel free to enjoy local musicians and craft fairs around the lake, a romantic cruise around Emerald Bay, glider rides over the treetops and the excitement of nightlife. Tahoe visitors can find magnificent dining, and an assortment of entertainment. From shows to dancing, horse drawn carriages to water and snow sports, regardless of the occasion there is always something new to be experienced. For a change in pace travelers can head to the Nevada-side of the lake and enjoy gaming that is offered 24/7. The fairs, stores and entertainment are only an added bonus to the scenery and views that surround you at every place. As you step outside, take a deep breath. Among the desolate and serene wilderness, you will find the freshest air imaginable, so fresh in fact you can even stop by a gift store and take a can home with you. For a chance to fully take in all the scenery that Lake Tahoe has to offer, drive around the 72-miles of shoreline for a relaxing and awe-inspiring journey. This voyage will take you through the Nevada and California shores of Lake Tahoe for a chance to experience new attractions and vintage locations. Lake Tahoe provides plenty of outdoor adventures waiting to be discovered; kayaking, hiking, parasailing, snowmobiling, skiing, you name it Lake Tahoe has it, the options are endless. Taking in the beautiful and awe-inspiring sights amidst the crisp fresh air and abundant pine forests is bound to give you an appetite. Culinary delights can be found for any occasion all around the lake. Whether you are looking for a formal dining venue with sunset lake views or a casual lounge or grill, you are bound to find something that tickles your taste buds. While hotels, casinos and ski resorts continue to draw millions of visitors each year, there is no doubt that the area's main attraction continues to be the perpetual beauty of the alpine paradise, which is sure to captivate your senses and guarantee you a memorable experience. Lake Tahoe continues to be picturesque, an enjoyable place year-round and is without a doubt, a slice of heaven on Earth.

Helping the homeless a labor of love for jobless woman on a journey

April, 2011

One year ago, 24-year-old Shay Kelley was driving through Las Vegas when a road sign caught her attention: Rainbow Boulevard. She exited the freeway and found a nice-looking neighborhood near North Rainbow, parked her Ford pickup truck (which she called Bubba) and began her regular routine of going door-to-door and collecting items to be distributed to the homeless. After dancing with homelessness herself, she was a woman on a mission. Walking from house to house, she gave her speech and began collecting donations. After a few hours had passed, she drove her truck, now full of everyday items, to the International Church in Summerlin, an organization she chose at random, and asked them to distribute her donations to the homeless. A year later, she returned to Las Vegas to continue a project that began through the discourse of screaming into the winds in an open forest. In the meantime, she's traveled to all 50 states with the nonprofit organization she founded and is working her way back again, following a deep-felt desire to help others. Nevada is the 13th state she's been through this year. Not long ago, Kelley was just like any other 20-something. She was "living the life of luxury" with running water, a roof over her head and a job paying the bills as a sales representative for AT&T. She moved from Illinois to Jackson, Miss., when the company relocated her job. Not long after moving to Mississippi, the AT&T branch she was working for went belly up. Then her car got stolen. It wasn't long until she found herself sleeping on park benches with nothing but a suitcase in hand, her dog at her side. “I was furious. I was yelling at God. ‘Why did you do this to me? Tell me what I’m supposed to do and I’ll do it,'” Kelley said. A few weeks later, she got an idea. From that moment, she says, she knew what she was meant to do. Her plan: Embark on a grassroots journey, traveling the country and going door-to-door collecting nonperishable food for the homeless. She called it "Project 50/50," with a goal of making it to 50 states in 50 weeks with one purpose: Reach out to as many people as she could who were in her same situation and distribute gathered donations to anyone in need. “I’m not a religious person, but I am very spiritual,” Kelley said during a recent interview. “This was a divinely inspired idea. I had challenged God and he gave me this idea so I had to keep up my end of the bargain.” Project 50/50, she said, is more than traveling the country and meeting people. It's an effort to document homelessness across the country -- a problem that for Kelley had hit all too close to home. She also is aiming to put it all together into a yet-to-be-published book. Kelley documents much of her work on social media sites Twitter and Facebook. Her posts have helped her gain a following and inspired donations from people who otherwise would have been strangers in the cities she visits. She says that last year, she worked with more than 150 nonprofits across the country and established a nonprofit of her own, Insight Projects Inc., based on the concept of "we get what we give." Throughout the course of the year she handed out more than 11,000 food items and 4,000 pairs of socks to the homeless in all 50 states, she said. “I can estimate about $30,000 worth of stuff, including the food and socks,” she said. Donations range from cosmetics and hygiene supplies to camping gear, clothing and meals, she said. She also helps people with job searches and donates money along the way to various organizations she works with. "I don't have numbers, I have stories,” she said. Some of her stories have been chronicled in newspapers and television reports across the country, including a report last year on CNN. The Santa Cruz Sentinel has an account of how Kelley helped a South Carolina woman reconnect with her son, who was living on the streets in California. Kelley ended her 2010 trip in Hawaii (thanks to plane tickets from a generous donor), where she shared a sunset for one special event: Her wedding to college friend Shane Patrick, with whom she reconnected via Facebook at the start of her journey last year. When the honeymoon was over, the newlyweds packed up and headed back to the mainland, ready for round two of Project 50/50. They recently passed through Las Vegas again, helping those in need. In Clark County, the needy aren’t hard to find. Recent numbers from the Southern Nevada Homeless Census found an average of 13,000 individuals in Clark County are homeless. The Clark County Homeless Youth Count found that on any given day nearly 400 unaccompanied minors are living on the streets. By definition, the couple are homeless themselves, living out of their pickup truck. But they don't see it that way. “I want to leave lasting impressions on people's hearts,” Patrick said. “This is one of the most involved ways of helping others. Every part of our lives networks us with someone or something that can help someone else or we are directly helping someone." Together, Kelley and Patrick have round two of Project 50/50 well under way, having just wrapped up helping in Nevada. One local couple that has been following Project 50/50 as it works its way across the country had donations at the ready for Kelley and Patrick when they arrived in Las Vegas. John Landry, who with his wife has a small organization called "This Way Up," says he finds the work Kelley is doing inspirational. “Seeing a 24-year-old woman out there doing what she does was very inspiring and one of the reasons we always carry socks and whatever we can think of and afford in our cars,” Landry said. “All of the donations we have for them are from my wife and I. “Unfortunately, we're in the same position as many people throughout the valley: under-employed and doing the best that we can, but we all have something to give even if it's just a few minutes of our time. Socks are 10 for $6 at Walmart and soups are six for $2. Most of us can afford that.” This trip, Kelley and Patrick are documenting the entire year in photos, blog posts and on social networking sites. As soon as a publisher is interested, the book will be underway, Kelley said. She plans to use the proceeds from the book as a fundraiser for Project 50/50. "I didn't do this to get rich, and when this project became a nonprofit, I took a step to prove that," she said. "I also ensured that this project wasn't going to end after 2010. There is much more work to do.”

The Perks of Being A Local; Las Vegas—Where a Local ID is Worth Flaunting

June, 2014

Las Vegas—the city of neon lights, top-notch attractions and world-renowned epicurean experiences—is more than a retreat for tourists hungry to partake of the amenities. It’s a locals playground for some of the best deals around. In addition to the hype of entertainment and gaming, Las Vegas serves as a melting pot of flavorful experiences. While many may have an inkling that the twinkling of neon lights is a mere lure for tourism, it also serves as a playground for the local palate. With a fusion of some of the most renowned chefs and epicurean experiences in the world, locals have more than proximity to use to their advantage when it comes to enjoying these culinary delights. Step beyond the threshold of many restaurants and bars, display that beautiful plastic proof of being a local and enjoy the dining perks that so many offer. For those looking to partake of something a little sweeter, Chef Wolfgang Puck fits in local perks at many of his Las Vegas restaurants. Among the lineup of Puck’s gracious local locations are Wolfgang Puck restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill inside the MGM Grand, Spago inside the Forum Shops at Caesars, and Postrio inside the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes, which all offer locals the chance to enjoy a free dessert with the purchase of an entrée. With the simple flash of a local ID, Las Vegas residents can continue the epicurean splurge in the typically tourist-dominated area of The Strip at Rí Rá Irish Pub inside the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay. The Pub presents locals with 40 percent off all food items every Friday night, and by displaying their local ID, and thus joining the Pub’s free green card loyalty program, locals receive 20 percent discounts on all food items all week long. “For us, locals have been a fantastic force since day one and this has been a way to honor and thank them for coming in,” says Rí Rá General Manager Scott Sherman. “The most popular item taken advantage of with this offer is definitely the fish and chips, no doubt.” Also inside the Shops at Mandalay Bay, Hussong’s Cantina Taqueria offers locals 15 percent off the entire check every night of the week on all menu items. Another continuous on-going perk can be found at Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar located at 4480 Paradise Rd., across from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. This Italian dining spot offers locals 25 percent off all menu items year-round. If getting the most for your buck is what it’s all about, be sure to sign up for a casino rewards card and present that with your local ID at the Rio’s Carnival World Buffet to receive 25 percent off all week long. At Dragon Noodle Co. and Sushi Bar inside the Monte Carlo, receive half off sushi and rolls on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and half off the bar items on Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.. For locals looking for a fine dining splurge during the summer, June 1 through August 31, one can enjoy 50 percent off bottles of wine at Morels Steakhouse and Bistro inside the Palazzo. “Las Vegas is such a tourist destination that sometimes locals feel overlooked, especially when it comes to options on The Strip,” says Sal Casola Jr., co-owner of Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro at the Palazzo. “There’s the underlying notion that locals don’t go to The Strip unless they have visitors in town and we want to change that by offering a special discount to enjoy anytime during the summer.” For those locals searching to whet their appetite in the late hours, Drop Bar inside the Green Valley Ranch Resort offers a local’s late-night happy hour Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Here, locals can treat themselves to $3 Bud Light and half price specialty cocktails such as The Vesper and Basil Gimlet. For those local residents on the outskirts of Las Vegas, the Hacienda Hotel and Casino offers Boulder City-locals 25 percent off all menu items inside The Café. While the finishing touches were still coming together for the June 8 grand opening of GIADA at The Cromwell as this article was being written, one thing is certain and that is the restaurant will feature a special, locals-only, call-in number to place dining orders.

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Hussong's Cantina chef dishes up memories

May, 2012

A Mexican culinary specialty, pozole soup, consists of a Chile broth, pork meat and has three main presentations, red, white and green, based on the key ingredients used. Throughout Mexico this soup can be found served in a variety of ways, from a classic red to the unusual white pozole, brought from his family kitchen growing up to formal kitchens in Las Vegas, chef Noe Alcala, from Hussong's Cantina & Taqueria in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, shares his favorite soup recipe and its history. The soup has a strong history and the origin of the pozole has two versions. The first version is from Fry Bernardino de Sahagun and suggests that the pozole was served during pre-Hispanic times when King Moctezuma would serve it with pieces of human thigh from prisoners or sacrificed men, in honor to the Sun God. Another version of the soup’s origin dates back to the 18th century and mentions that the Puebla state Catholic diocese, who was in charge of feeding mass amounts of people during certain religion events, would combine corn kernels that was assigned to make tortillas with a soup broth just as a quick way to feed the hungry people. According to chef Alcala, the latter of these origin stories is the most common version utilized by scholars. As a kid growing up, pozole was one of chef Alcala’s favorite soups. The dish was often reserved for special occasions, birthdays, holidays or when guests came over for dinner. While the recipe calls for pork shoulder additional pork may be used such as pork feet, tongue and even brains. “Dad and I will always fight for the pork brains, delicious.” Alcala said. “Some of the great memories I have is mom serving the pozole in a deep soup bowl and we used to finish the soup presentation with the vast amounts of toppings that mom use to set on our family table. From grilled chopped peppers, lettuce, cabbage, onion and cilantro, avocados, fresh lime juice, two or three types or salsas, slices of radishes and many others, ending with an enormous bowl of soup. What great memories of family reunions.” Pozole Soup Yields: 1.5 gal Ingredients: 5 each or 5 oz Chile guajillo 1.5 each or ¾ oz Chile ancho 2 gal water 4 ounces onion ½ ounces garlic ½ lbs pork fat 1 ½ lbs pork shoulder cut in large cubes ½ large can hominy, corn kernels 1 tsp dried oregano 3 ounces Knorr chicken base Kosher salt to taste Preparation: Boil the chilies in water until soft. Drain and reserve. Boil water with next ingredients, when onion and garlic are tender take out and blend with the reserved peppers adding some water to the soup. Simmer the water and pork until the pork is tender. Add pepper blend to the stock with rest of the ingredients including the hominy and simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to desired taste, if necessary. Plating Procedures: In a deep soup bowl serve plenty of the broth with enough corn kernels and pork meat. On the table let your family or customers get wild with some topping like, diced onions, shredded lettuce, slices of radishes, freshly squeezed lime juice, toasted dry chile de arbol, diced avocados and or any topping of your liking. Remember to serve the pozole with tostadas and or hot tortillas preferably homemade, but either way, you will enjoy it.

Decades of a Communicative Endeavor

August, 2011

For some, dreams start with school, for others with an inheritance, for these two men it started with a rope and an audience. Working through life, driven by a career and a passion, they ride the horizons from sunrise to sunset on a common goal; not to strike it rich and call it quits, but to engage an audience of citizens to embark on a participatory challenge of common sense and communication. Growing up through the industrial revolution an American icon took the limelight not only as an esteemed entertainer, but also as the humorist that sparked interest in individuals and demanded societal involvement in communication. From high ticket film sets to center stage in one of the greatest theatrical productions of it’s time, the Ziegfeld Follies, to the comfort of leaning over the warn keys of a metal typewriter, Will Rogers became the humorist philosopher that entertained and engrossed audiences in interpersonal connections. His routines focused on intelligent and humorous observations of people, life, the nation and government. As a figure in show business, he jumped into what he called “the best show in the world” and took to politics, not as a participant behind a desk but as a solicitor of national thought and interaction. He broadened his career from jobs as an actor and trick roper and let his real passion loose, taking on syndicated columns, books, radio broadcasting and political commentating. His simple humor and direct, intelligent political writings and observations about the government and America earned him the respect of the nation. In 1935 a plane crash took his life, but over 60 years later, a 35-year-old rising entertainer picked up his story in the form of a script for a tribute performance in the Will Rogers Follies and from that moment, adopted his passion and set out to continue the efforts. The 35-year-old trick roper and entertainer, Will Roberts was given an offer to play the role of Rogers during a four-week production that told the life story of the humorist-roping writer. Though only a four-week gig, it was more than enough time for Roberts to acknowledge his newly increased passion. He adopted the Will Rogers-style of incorporating common sense, respect and an open mind to all sides and developed his own material that stove to evoke Rogers’ same goal. Lasso in hand their passions flow on the ability to rope people together to divulge in communication and in-depth interaction. “I meet so many people and folks who spend so much time keeping it in. They are not talking to each other, just talking to themselves, and you know what happens to folks that talk to themselves, people think they are crazy. I want to talk to folks; ‘cause people are what it’s all about. Bring back the history, bring back the conversation,” Roberts said. “I made a choice that I’m marketing the Will Rogers philosophy and not doing Will Rogers himself, because I realized that 99% of the world don’t know who Will Rogers is now a days, so I’m trying to promote the ideas and way of thinking because none of that has changed.” And so began his life passion to implore society to indulge in old-fashioned communication and interaction, ultimately branding himself the modern day Will Rogers. While simultaneously entertaining as part of one of the largest production companies on the Las Vegas Strip, Roberts has his daily column syndicated to about 70 sites and has been featured and participates in podcasts, video segments and political cartoons. “Will Rogers died in ’35, I was 35 when I started this, I worked at Fox 35, he worked for Fox Pictures. He worked in the extravaganza production and now I work at one of the largest extravaganzas in the world doing the same thing, spinning a rope in a humorous way. I’m really emulating and living the life Will Rogers had just with a modern twist,” said Roberts. From 1911 to 2011, patterns and customs in everyday life shift and develop accordingly to the times but the need for communication stays steady. While the mode of encouraging the exchange of ideas and thoughts has shifted from typewriter to iPhone and from radio to YouTube, 70 years have past from one Will to another, the times haven’t changed much and the message stays the same. “Will Rogers use to say, all I know is what I read in the newspaper. The same holds true today except the saying now for me is, all I know is what I read on the Internet,” said Roberts. “Nothing really changes, it’s all just kind of a cycle.” Communication and entertainment, to some these may seem as two atypical terms of two realms of society; human interaction and amusement, but to engage both efforts of performance to achieve a societal participation and exchange of thoughts and ideas is what the hard work is all about. Encouraging society to get involved in the conversation and make themselves heard by the general public, Roberts initiated and maintains an open forum, TweetTheStreets.com, a gathering of the minds to discuss world news beyond the media and Hollywood’s perspectives and is told by the people directly. “People really want to be heard and they don’t necessarily want to be talked at and they want to know that they are being listened to, so this has become my passion, to help provide that,” said Rogers. Throughout their careers on and off the stages, in front and behind the cameras and whether it is in written or spoken dialect, Will Rogers and Will Roberts provide a communication link to a more commonsensical future and a more comprehensible past.

A look at building and design trends for 2016

December, 2016

With a new year comes new style and when it comes to an influx of unique trends, interior and exterior design is no exception. While everyone has their own take on what styles and designs appeal to them, certain concepts stand out above the rest. From incorporating an antique feel, using natural finishes and elements, and reimagining the modern feel, 2016 has some distinctive design trends in store. Trending in Overall Design If you thought modern multi-use exteriors were something only for futuristic movies, you’d be wrong. One of the most trending methodology approaches picking up steam in popularity is open concept programing, the tactic of developing flexible spaces to fill the ever-changing needs of owners and occupants. “The big thing lately is the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Tyler Jones, founder and owner of Blue Heron. “I know how busy we’ve been with our Vegas modern design which is big on the blending of spaces, so that just shows that this feature will continue to be popular here in Las Vegas. It’s always ongoing.” This concept incorporates the importance of breaking away from the classic idea of defined spaces and instead allowing these living spaces to flow to and from one another. One key element of this blended layout design is bringing character to the space through lighting techniques. For 2016, it’s about more than the simple act of illuminating a room; it’s all about statement lighting, both natural and artificial. “This popular trend in blurred lines of interior and exterior spaces really calls for lots of natural lighting,” says Roy Burson, an architect at JVC Architects. While any lighting fixture can brighten a room, to complement natural illumination throughout the day try unique statement lighting. By incorporating various elements properly as design features, statement lighting can unify disparate elements in a room and produce an eye-catching design piece. From natural, to clean-lined, to very traditional approaches, dramatic lighting effects will be essential features to include in 2016 design. Along with this modern approach to living with indoor-outdoor spaces being on the rise in popularity, to break away from the stereotyped boxy lackluster design, the use of natural and unique materials help create a fresh, stylized surrounding. For the home-style trendsetter looking to incorporate elements that are becoming all the rage, metals, meshes and translucent materials along with various building practices such as rammed earth and gabion walls are a must-have. Modern technology also plays a role in upcoming design trends as new approaches include the blending or full use of lightweight materials for easy manipulation in design. These specific design elements continue to grow in popularity and are expected to be among the top trending exterior and interior design embellishments in 2016. Trending on the Inside While the New Year will prove to include a variety of modern approaches on the exterior, when it comes to interior design styles, a lot more blending of styles is taking place. “Buildings have to be well cited and thoughtfully designed while interiors can be a bit more free,” says Edward Vance, founder and CEO of EV&A Architects, Inc. “Interiors are more transitory and can be updated much easier than exteriors.” Trending interior design exposes a new blending of modern, traditional, and contemporary styles. This new fusion style of design is one that has already gained steam in popularity and will continue to escalate. 2016 design is about simultaneously embracing modern and eclectic, fusing modern, straight-line design styles with heavy, concentrated textures from raw material such as metals, wood and mane. By doing so, designers, both professional and self-proclaimed, can create a mash up of classic and refinished elegance. With interior rooms dramatically lit up, the use of patterns stirs up some controversy on interior trends. While some say bold patterns are a must when it comes to interior design, others feel that heavy designs and saturated colors are on their way out. Whether patterns are considered in or out, only time will tell if the copious fields of chevron prints will continue to embed themselves onto every surface. Meanwhile, when it comes to color and its use in design, a precise trend is on the rise. “Colors are becoming much more monochromatic and clean. It creates a fresh contemporary palate for incorporating a punch of color as a accent without the commitment,” says Larry Ward, CEO of WHL Design Group. This divergence from standard bright colored walls and materials is calling for trending design to embrace a less-is-more feel. The call for simplistic backgrounds with a main focal point is preferred for catching the eye and tying a room together. “In our clients’ homes it may as well be called 50 shades of gray, because practically every one of them is asking for gray walls and colored accents. Gray is the new beige,” says Jill Abelman, owner of Inside Style. “As a designer, we are presented with the latest in fabrics and wallpaper almost every day and the colors I see most in fabrics are creamy neutrals. A beautiful teal green blue as well as citron greens and royal purples are back.” Another favorite trend making its appearance in design for 2016 is embracing the vibe that everything that goes around comes around. Antique styles are being folded into modern elements for a fresh new rustic, yet modern, twist. “Antique styles have made a comeback with fresh new finishes and fabrics. I love a re-imagined classic chair or sofa. Vintage touches are huge,” Abelman says. For the West Coast, this style of contemporary western will continue to rise in popularity as the modern, industrial and rustic styles merge into a design hybrid. “There is nothing that is incorrect anymore when it comes to set styles, as designs begin to blend with others,” says Ward. In addition to incorporating antique and vintage pieces into interior design, a big part of exploring this new take on design is to merge modern design with an array of strong textures. With classic modern style leading the flow of design, designers are emphasizing the trend of coming back through and blending heavy natural textures for a modern-rustic finish. In addition to the natural and modern looks, one style that is forecasted to make an appearance in interior design is the use of gold leaf finishes. “The gold leaf finish is coming back in a big way,” says Abelman. “Most of the new market introductions showed these finishes instead of the silver nickel we have become accustomed to.” From interior to exterior design trends, 2016 stresses a natural and modern approach. Whether you’re looking for a complete redesign or to simply update an old look to incorporate new design trends, when in doubt, refer to the year’s major textural influences: natural materials, such as reclaimed wood, metal and natural crystals, and furry organic textures in fabrics. Out of Style in 2016 In the midst of rising design crazes, previous trends begin to make their decline. -- Outside: Loft-style living “The loft-style of modern living seems to not be as popular. There’s not quite as much around as you’ve seen before.” - Tyler Jones, founder and owner, Blue Heron Thematic design approaches “The thematic architecture of the past is out of date. Granted some is still being done but newer buildings are maturing as well done pieces of architecture.” - Edward Vance, founder and CEO, EV&A Architects, Inc. -- Inside: Over stuffed traditional shapes and fussy ornate upholstery “Even the large retailers like Restoration Hardware are changing their offerings to reflect the consumers demand for fresh, straight lined pieces.” - Jill Abelman, Owner and Principal Designer, Inside Style Heavy use of color as a main wall focus in a room “Punch accents of color are in demand and are more non-committal than past use of heavy color.” - Larry Ward, CEO, WHL Design Group -- Eco-Friendly Trends for 2016 Outside: Aluminum Solar Shading Systems Positioned on the outside of glass, this solar shading approach is used to reduce the amount of direct sunlight entering a given space, controlling interior brightness and limiting heat in the summer while allowing the sun to penetrate in winter. Inside: Repurposing of Raw Materials Raw materials such as oriented strand board (osb) and wooden palettes are being used as textured finishes. Coupling the repurposed raw elements with modern styles such as marble and granite surfaces, when done properly, creates a dynamic blend of design that is fun and whimsical. -- Region-Specific Materials Instead of shipping away for imported elements for textures and accents, look to include indigenous materials such as rocks, woods, metals and concretes.

Quenching Summer Thirst

June, 2012

A dry heat or not, 100-plus degrees can wreak havoc on anyone if they aren’t prepared. As the temperatures in Las Vegas begin to rise during the summer months, the heat becomes more unavoidable, especially for those heading outdoors. Although the heat is intense, the side effects don’t have to be. Drinking water may seem like the obvious solution to any negative effects the summer months may play, but being sure to drink enough water is the key. To maintain proper hydration throughout the day, it is recommended to drink half one’s body weight in ounces of water. “If you’re going to be outside you just need water. You only need sports drinks with the extra calories if you’re going to be doing strenuous activity for over an hour,” says local dietician Geri Lynn Grossan. “Water should always be the first drink choice.” Severity of dehydration can vary from person to person. Individuals who are more frail and exposed to the sun’s heat have a higher risk of dehydration. “Children dehydrate quicker because they have a larger surface area in relation to their body mass,” explains Michael Bernstein, health educator and injury prevention for the Southern Nevada Health District. “They often get hot faster than adults.” As temperatures escalate and sweating increases, water consumption must increase at a high enough rate to replace the body’s lost fluids. Preventative hydration measures for those participating in physical activities should include drinking 5 to 7 mL/kg body weight of fluid four hours before the activity and an additional 3 to 5 mL/kg of fluid two hours before. “Measuring body weight before and after excessive sweating is a good practical tool to use,” says Laura Kruskall, UNLV director of nutrition sciences. “For every pound lost with sweat, a person needs to consume 24 ounces of fluid.” Water and sports drinks aren’t the only hydrating possibilities to include into one’s diet. Foods with a high water content such as watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers are just a few of the foods that help with the task of staying hydrated. Whether you’re acclimated to the heat or not, it’s essential to understand the signs and progression of dehydration. Threats associated with intense summer heat include a multi-stage progression over time with increased exposure to the sun and heat. From the first stages of dehydration and sunburn, significant heat and sun exposure can lead to further ailments including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and, as the body temperature reaches or exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke. The first warning signs of these can be found in the first stages of dehydration and include thirst, dry mouth, fatigue and dizziness. As more severe stages of dehydration set in, the body loses the ability to regulate body temperature, causing more critical signs such as confusion, lack of sweating and fever. “What a lot of people don’t realize is if they are already experiencing thirst to the point of feeling the effects, they’re already dehydrated. That’s the point when they need to stop what they’re doing, get someplace cool and slowly start rehydrating,” says Grossan. When it comes to the summertime threats in Las Vegas, it’s all about taking the right precautions. With adequate hydration and proper attire for sun-exposed activities, a 100-plus degree summer will definitely feel hot, but won’t pose an intense physical threat.

Volunteers rehab 20 valley homes for people in need

April, 2011

Twenty homes in Las Vegas and Henderson were renovated and repaired Saturday, as hundreds of volunteers gathered to participate in National Rebuilding Day. The annual event takes place on the last Saturday in April. Thousands of volunteers and corporate sponsors unite to rehabilitate homes and community facilities in low-income neighborhoods. What began as an effort called Christmas in April has transformed into a national organization known as Rebuilding Together. The nonprofit organization has more than 200 affiliates across the U.S. and has been operating for more than 35 years, hosting the national event. This is Southern Nevada’s 18th year participating. Among the organizations taking part Saturday were UNLV, the Southern Nevada Health District and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. The program provides everything from yard cleanup and painting to skilled repairs of plumbing, windows, electrical systems, roofs and flooring for low-income, seniors and disabled people. Philippe Makhlouf, 73, was one of the beneficiaries of Saturday’s effort. “They make you feel important and good and thankful that I got them to my house for them to help me. It’s unbelievable. It’s so wonderful,” said Makhlouf. “Suddenly when I needed help the most, they come to my home. I feel very lucky and blessed that Jesus is looking after me like this.” Makhlouf’s home was one of three that St. Rose Dominican Hospitals adopted to renovate. Prior to Saturday, volunteers had been working on the home for weeks. They fixed a problem with the hot water supply and installed new appliances, cabinets, flooring, furniture, hardware and sinks. They also painted and landscaped. Makhlouf’s daughter, Monique Makhlouf, 24, said she didn’t believe at first her father had been chosen to have his house renovated. “I thought it was a scam. I was like, there’s no way, this doesn’t happen to real people,” she said. Given a budget of just $1,500 from Rebuilding Together, almost all the work and materials were a result of donations from individuals and businesses. “Rebuilding Together gave us $1,500 to do what we could do. Fifteen-hundred dollars, I’ll be very honest with you, I was able to spend that so quick at Lowe’s, I had $20 to spare,” volunteer Pam Byleckie said. “We removed his furniture, because it was filled with cigarette burns. It was so unhealthy for him, so we got rid of all that. He couldn’t use his toilet. When he would put a light switch on, the rest of the lights would burn out. He had no running water. He had a slab leak,” she said. “The only thing that he had honestly working was his refrigerator.” Makhlouf’s house was one of the biggest projects Rebuilding Together tackled on Saturday. “We’ve had at least 40 volunteers working on the house just today, but I’ve had about eight contractors coming in here for a little over 30 days,” said David Taylor, who has been involved with Rebuilding Together for 11 years. “It’s easy to ask for this volunteer and donation request, because they love to come and do it. It’s the opportunity to give back to the community, and this is what we enjoy the best,” he said. While St. Rose Dominican Hospitals fixed up three properties in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada Healthy Homes Partnership, a collaboration between UNLV, the Southern Nevada Health District, and more than a dozen community partners renovated a home in North Las Vegas. Their efforts focused on identifying and eliminating health issues, including mold, insects, dust and poisoning hazards. “One of the beauties of the program is it’s actually a team-building experience, so the sponsoring team will take on the home and then they’ll bring out the volunteers from their company or their organization, and they’ll all work on the homes together on that day,” said Therese Elliott, director of programs for Rebuilding Together in Southern Nevada. “There’s no CEO, there’s no housekeeping. It’s everybody on the same playing field doing good for that homeowner and for that community. It’s really fabulous,” Elliott said. Outside of the annual rehab blitz, Rebuilding Together makes home repairs year-round. Throughout the year, about 600 homes will undergo emergency repairs in Southern Nevada. For more information on Rebuilding Together or to apply for housing repairs, visit Rtsnv.org.

New Boys & Girls Club opening in Southern Highlands

May, 2011

Children in the Southern Highlands neighborhood will soon have a new place to call their own: a $6 million Boys & Girls Club, funded by the neighborhood’s developer and its charitable organization. With a grand opening scheduled for late next month, the Southern Highlands Boys & Girls Club will offer youth activities, including character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, arts programs and sports, fitness and recreation programs. It will also be a fun and safe place for neighborhood teens and children to hang out, said Ken Rubeli, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Henderson. The 24,000-square-foot facility has been under construction for about a year in the upper-class neighborhood in the southwest valley. The community, the Southern Highlands Charitable Foundation, and the neighborhood’s developer, Olympia Companies, banded together to raise the $6 million for the project. Rubeli said it was the determination of those in the community who made the project possible. “It’s pretty cool because even in a broken economy when times are tough, the community has really rallied together around this effort to build a remarkable facility for the kids,” he said. With an initial new membership list forming solely by word of mouth, the new clubhouse has more than 100 members so far, and that number continues to grow each week. An annual membership for the new facility is $20 and is open to children between the ages of 6 and 18. “Our memberships are the most affordable option for any type of youth activity out there, and we’ll never turn any kid away for economic reasons whatsoever,” Rubeli said. The timing of its opening is fortuitous, as this is the first year that there will not be year-round schooling for the Clark County School District students who live nearby. The Boys & Girls Club will offer summertime programs for an expected 250 children a day in the summer months. The new facility will include a full-sized gymnasium; a game room, which will include foosball, pool tables and Ping-Pong; a full computer lab; an art and cultural center; a teen area; a cafeteria; and outdoor barbecue space. One of the summer programs will combine arts and crafts, digital design and cultural learning to give children a broader experience with the arts, said Bart McFadden, the senior unit director for the new facility. “It’s going to have an international theme. They will have a country a week...from around the world and in here, they will do a lot of the arts, the culture, some songs and dance from each of the countries.” They will have access to computers to create graphic design work. The new facility will accommodate teens by providing them with their own section called The Club, which will have its own private entrance. The teen center will include a big-screen television and a separate Mac computer lab. The club will offer a basketball league and plans additional sports leagues down the road. It will also offer transportation from area schools to the club. The new facility will be open during the summer from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and will host sports leagues on Saturdays. During the school year, hours will be from the time school is over until 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 702-534-0504 or visit bgchenderson.org.

South Point Perks for Mothers, Couples and Everyone Else

December, 2016

With a new year comes new style and when it comes to an influx of unique trends, interior and exterior design is no exception. While everyone has their own take on what styles and designs appeal to them, certain concepts stand out above the rest. From incorporating an antique feel, using natural finishes and elements, and reimagining the modern feel, 2016 has some distinctive design trends in store. Trending in Overall Design If you thought modern multi-use exteriors were something only for futuristic movies, you’d be wrong. One of the most trending methodology approaches picking up steam in popularity is open concept programing, the tactic of developing flexible spaces to fill the ever-changing needs of owners and occupants. “The big thing lately is the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Tyler Jones, founder and owner of Blue Heron. “I know how busy we’ve been with our Vegas modern design which is big on the blending of spaces, so that just shows that this feature will continue to be popular here in Las Vegas. It’s always ongoing.” This concept incorporates the importance of breaking away from the classic idea of defined spaces and instead allowing these living spaces to flow to and from one another. One key element of this blended layout design is bringing character to the space through lighting techniques. For 2016, it’s about more than the simple act of illuminating a room; it’s all about statement lighting, both natural and artificial. “This popular trend in blurred lines of interior and exterior spaces really calls for lots of natural lighting,” says Roy Burson, an architect at JVC Architects. While any lighting fixture can brighten a room, to complement natural illumination throughout the day try unique statement lighting. By incorporating various elements properly as design features, statement lighting can unify disparate elements in a room and produce an eye-catching design piece. From natural, to clean-lined, to very traditional approaches, dramatic lighting effects will be essential features to include in 2016 design. Along with this modern approach to living with indoor-outdoor spaces being on the rise in popularity, to break away from the stereotyped boxy lackluster design, the use of natural and unique materials help create a fresh, stylized surrounding. For the home-style trendsetter looking to incorporate elements that are becoming all the rage, metals, meshes and translucent materials along with various building practices such as rammed earth and gabion walls are a must-have. Modern technology also plays a role in upcoming design trends as new approaches include the blending or full use of lightweight materials for easy manipulation in design. These specific design elements continue to grow in popularity and are expected to be among the top trending exterior and interior design embellishments in 2016. Trending on the Inside While the New Year will prove to include a variety of modern approaches on the exterior, when it comes to interior design styles, a lot more blending of styles is taking place. “Buildings have to be well cited and thoughtfully designed while interiors can be a bit more free,” says Edward Vance, founder and CEO of EV&A Architects, Inc. “Interiors are more transitory and can be updated much easier than exteriors.” Trending interior design exposes a new blending of modern, traditional, and contemporary styles. This new fusion style of design is one that has already gained steam in popularity and will continue to escalate. 2016 design is about simultaneously embracing modern and eclectic, fusing modern, straight-line design styles with heavy, concentrated textures from raw material such as metals, wood and mane. By doing so, designers, both professional and self-proclaimed, can create a mash up of classic and refinished elegance. With interior rooms dramatically lit up, the use of patterns stirs up some controversy on interior trends. While some say bold patterns are a must when it comes to interior design, others feel that heavy designs and saturated colors are on their way out. Whether patterns are considered in or out, only time will tell if the copious fields of chevron prints will continue to embed themselves onto every surface. Meanwhile, when it comes to color and its use in design, a precise trend is on the rise. “Colors are becoming much more monochromatic and clean. It creates a fresh contemporary palate for incorporating a punch of color as a accent without the commitment,” says Larry Ward, CEO of WHL Design Group. This divergence from standard bright colored walls and materials is calling for trending design to embrace a less-is-more feel. The call for simplistic backgrounds with a main focal point is preferred for catching the eye and tying a room together. “In our clients’ homes it may as well be called 50 shades of gray, because practically every one of them is asking for gray walls and colored accents. Gray is the new beige,” says Jill Abelman, owner of Inside Style. “As a designer, we are presented with the latest in fabrics and wallpaper almost every day and the colors I see most in fabrics are creamy neutrals. A beautiful teal green blue as well as citron greens and royal purples are back.” Another favorite trend making its appearance in design for 2016 is embracing the vibe that everything that goes around comes around. Antique styles are being folded into modern elements for a fresh new rustic, yet modern, twist. “Antique styles have made a comeback with fresh new finishes and fabrics. I love a re-imagined classic chair or sofa. Vintage touches are huge,” Abelman says. For the West Coast, this style of contemporary western will continue to rise in popularity as the modern, industrial and rustic styles merge into a design hybrid. “There is nothing that is incorrect anymore when it comes to set styles, as designs begin to blend with others,” says Ward. In addition to incorporating antique and vintage pieces into interior design, a big part of exploring this new take on design is to merge modern design with an array of strong textures. With classic modern style leading the flow of design, designers are emphasizing the trend of coming back through and blending heavy natural textures for a modern-rustic finish. In addition to the natural and modern looks, one style that is forecasted to make an appearance in interior design is the use of gold leaf finishes. “The gold leaf finish is coming back in a big way,” says Abelman. “Most of the new market introductions showed these finishes instead of the silver nickel we have become accustomed to.” From interior to exterior design trends, 2016 stresses a natural and modern approach. Whether you’re looking for a complete redesign or to simply update an old look to incorporate new design trends, when in doubt, refer to the year’s major textural influences: natural materials, such as reclaimed wood, metal and natural crystals, and furry organic textures in fabrics. Out of Style in 2016 In the midst of rising design crazes, previous trends begin to make their decline. -- Outside: Loft-style living “The loft-style of modern living seems to not be as popular. There’s not quite as much around as you’ve seen before.” - Tyler Jones, founder and owner, Blue Heron Thematic design approaches “The thematic architecture of the past is out of date. Granted some is still being done but newer buildings are maturing as well done pieces of architecture.” - Edward Vance, founder and CEO, EV&A Architects, Inc. -- Inside: Over stuffed traditional shapes and fussy ornate upholstery “Even the large retailers like Restoration Hardware are changing their offerings to reflect the consumers demand for fresh, straight lined pieces.” - Jill Abelman, Owner and Principal Designer, Inside Style Heavy use of color as a main wall focus in a room “Punch accents of color are in demand and are more non-committal than past use of heavy color.” - Larry Ward, CEO, WHL Design Group -- Eco-Friendly Trends for 2016 Outside: Aluminum Solar Shading Systems Positioned on the outside of glass, this solar shading approach is used to reduce the amount of direct sunlight entering a given space, controlling interior brightness and limiting heat in the summer while allowing the sun to penetrate in winter. Inside: Repurposing of Raw Materials Raw materials such as oriented strand board (osb) and wooden palettes are being used as textured finishes. Coupling the repurposed raw elements with modern styles such as marble and granite surfaces, when done properly, creates a dynamic blend of design that is fun and whimsical. -- Region-Specific Materials Instead of shipping away for imported elements for textures and accents, look to include indigenous materials such as rocks, woods, metals and concretes.

Cowboys, famous and not so famous, in Las Vegas

July, 2011

With a tip of the hat to the Western culture, today marks the National Day of the Cowboy, but the outskirts aren’t the only places with cowboys worth recognizing. Las Vegas brings the cowboy culture to life in more ways than one. Neon cowboys Nestled in the midst of the casinos, restaurants, bars and attractions of downtown Las Vegas, neon cowboys watch over the tourists. When the Pioneer Club closed in 1996, the 40-foot idol, Vegas Vic, age 60, fell into depression after years of waving and greeting tourists with “Howdy, partner.” He stopped his act. Meanwhile, Sassy Sally was living a rather consistent life as the neon cowgirl of downtown. During the construction of the Fremont Street Experience that year, the pair was lowered to the ground and in flashy Vegas style were married by a local minister. Vegas Vic resides at his previous 1951 residence location, now a souvenir shop. Sassy Sally, renamed Vegas Vicky, sits atop Glitter Gulch, a topless club across from her neon cowboy. Behind-the-scenes cowboy Behind the scenes, barn manager Marty Moore prepares the equestrian arena at South Point. “I handle basically everything from feeding and taking out the horses to tightening up the arenas and doing whatever the promoter would like as far as setup and dirt work,” Moore said. After three years at the arena, Moore says his focus and interest shifted from his racing background to the equestrian realm. “If you talk to cowboys here, you find out how much they put into what they do on the performance side, he said. “We try work hard here to give them the best facility that we can for them to ride in, rope in, barrel race in. We do all kinds of events.” Eye-candy cowboy As a sunset burns in the background, standing silhouettes of five cowboys are spotted, with a country drawl they’re introduced, and for the next four minutes, it’s a wild ride of line dancing, a little rope play and a lot of teasing, as these six-pack cowboys continue a shirtless performance. “Our show is a fantasy show. It’s 75 minutes of full fantasy fulfillment and cowboys are just one of those aspects of fantasy. And we do it with that trademark iconic song, ‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),’ and right there in itself kind of ties Chippendales with cowboys and that just brings it all together,” dancer Jace Crispin said. For almost six years, the Chippendales have performed at the Rio, serving as the epitome of a Vegas-style cowboy. “It’s Vegas definitely,” Chippendales dancer Chaun Thomas said. “It’s lights, it’s action, we’re ripping off our shirts. It’s very sexy cowboys, not the Texas cowboy you think of being a big studly guy hitting the ranch with big ol’ buckles, the cattle rancher." Political cowboy One North Las Vegas cowboy jumps from politics to rodeos as he multitasks as a county commissioner and a competitive steer wrestler. Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins was involved in the local rodeo world throughout his years of schooling. Coaching sports and raising kids made rodeo take a back seat. Once his kids were grown and in college, he roped a role in the Legislature and, recently, picked back up in the rodeo world. Within the past year Collins also started back in competitive steer wrestling. “I’ve been to five or six rodeos in the last couple of months and I’m going to probably go to another 15 or 16 rodeos before the end of the year,” Collins said. “In politics you horse trade when you’re passing laws and when you’re doing zoning and changing things, and cowboys, they horse trade,” he said. Urban cowboy Four days a week they saddle up and ride the city streets in search of crime, chaos and crowds to tame. The Metro Police mounted unit started in July 1998 to manage the expected crowds for New Year’s Eve 2000. “We do work in the city and we do some work that people would consider cowboy work, such as we ride horses for our job,” Officer Kelly Korb said. “Las Vegas is a Western town, and history dictates that if you’re on a horse and you’re riding down the street, you’re a cowboy, and people consider us that. We’re police officers first, and our horses are here to help us do the work, too. We’re part of Metro, and we just ride a horse as part of our job duties. “It started for crowd control and ever since then we’ve been building on to we do. We do patrolling, search and rescue, demos, work with a mobile field force team — there’s a lot that we’ve added on,” Korb said. Corporate cowboy The smell of cattle and horses fills the air while hay and dirt cover the ground. For South Point General Manager Ryan Growney, the casino’s climate-controlled stables and the company of cowboys and more than 1,000 horses are highlights of his job. “My background was strictly rodeo, I grew up here in Vegas and until I was 15 my exposure was (National Finals Rodeo). We went every year — I thought it was a fantastic event.” Since July last year, this cowboy has occupied the general manager’s desk at South Point, working not only with the typical casino obligations but fulfilling his love of the cowboy culture. “Most of the time I’m dressed in a suit, but whenever we have events come to town, I put the boots on and the hat on,” he said. Show cowboys With backgrounds in trick roping and Western-themed performances, two Las Vegas cowboys — Will Roberts and Loop Rawlins — take center stage as the only cowboy act of its kind in Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis" at Aria. “Being a cowboy in Vegas is kind of fun and we have the best cowboy bling bling you can imagine,” Roberts said. With the Western culture in their back pocket and spotlights shining on them nightly, the definition of a cowboy comes into full play. “What does define a cowboy? A cowboy might be in a pickup truck; he might be in a regular car, it doesn’t really matter. It might be someone who learns how to line dance at a bar, it might be someone who just does karaoke at the cowboy bar once a week, it could be just the fact that you wear cowboy boots all the time or you just like to watch westerns,” Roberts said. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s not only the fact that you might swing a rope, or ride or shoot guns, that doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that you have something in your heart that has a sense of the country, a sense of pride in everything you do and a dedication to the lifestyle. What is a cowboy? You define what that is.”