Author Archives: Samantha Belli

Samantha Belli

About Samantha Belli

Samantha Belli is an AZ Big Media intern and a recent graduate from Arizona State University. Originally from California, she enjoys soaking up the Arizona sun while exploring her new stomping grounds. In her spare time she battles an addiction to fashion blogs, architecture and art.

Photo: Central Arizona Supply

Luxurious Home Showers No Longer Just Reserved For Affluent Retreats

Shower sensations: Channeling the chic sensibility of lavish resort spas, luxurious home showers are no longer just reserved for affluent retreats.

Evolving from a place with a distinct purpose to a lavish escape, home showers are becoming a peaceful getaway and the focal point of the bathroom.

Incorporating features such as steam rooms, surround sound speakers, LED chromatherapy lighting, benches, shelving, showerheads that resemble the undeniable sensation of gentle raindrops with the help of air-injection technology and massaging body sprays at every level, home showers are becoming a therapeutic relief in which many homeowners are quickly investing.

“Showers have become the epicenter of the bathroom,” says Jeremy Smith of Central Arizona Supply. “Homeowners no longer feel they have to have a great bathtub. Instead, there are so many amazing features in showers that are being taken advantage of that are giving the therapeutic aspects that the bath used to give.”

Photo: Picasso Tile and StoneworkAs bathtubs are now becoming more of an aesthetically pleasing element than regularly-used items, it’s out with the sunken soakers and in with the spa and sauna-like showers.

“What is being done to these rooms today has become more of a place of retreat than just a place to quickly get things done,” says Tim Thacker, owner of COHACO Building Specialties, explaining the changing faces of in-home showers. “The bathroom has become a place to relax, retire and rejuvenate.”

According to Thacker, a big part in this maturing trend is the multitude of options in materials and technology available today.

From matching faucets and handles to calming tile accents and streamlined shower enclosures, bathrooms have evolved beyond the spa and incorporated a personalized touch to suit a homeowner’s specific needs and wants.

Becoming a popular home investment, an added bonus to these upgrades, according to Smith, is that they are now able to reach a wider range of customers due to competitive price markets lowering the cost of such items. As a result, what is considered a lavish upgrade can now be a more attainable addition to any homeowner’s bathroom.

With such a large selection of bells and whistles to make your home shower resemble the spa of your dreams, homeowners are urged to test before they buy and explore every option available. Smith strongly suggests working closely with your contractor so every detail is appropriately accommodated to meet both your needs and your body’s needs for the best therapeutic results.

For those considering incorporating spa-like features, Thacker says, “Homeowners are finding that the money used in this area is very well spent. It has been proven that in a remodel, the money spent in redesigning a bathroom will always allow you to recoup your expenses when the home is sold or just having it reappraised.”

Manufactures are now starting to mix the perks of top-quality, in-home saunas, steam rooms and luxurious showers, manufactures with products that incorporate more sustainable and water-saving technologies.

“We see many features such as smart temp-controlled valves and insta-hot water to replace water heaters for more saving attributes,” says Melissa Kale, president of Picasso Tile and Stonework.

According to Smith, the addition of such eco-conscious elements is, “definitely the next frontier.”

For more information about transforming your home shower into a spa retreat, visit:

Central Arizona Supply
16431 N. 90th St., # 100, Scottsdale
(480) 922-9191

Picasso Tile & Stonework
126 W. Forest Grove Ave., Phoenix
(602) 225-0525

COHACO Building Specialties
9700 N. 91st Ave., #130, Peoria
(623) 748-0859

Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2012

Scottsdale Living Magazine Summer 2012, Backyard Living

Sandy Beaches, Resort-Inspired Pool Spaces Transform One’s Backyard

There’s No Place Like Home: Sandy beaches, resort-inspired pool spaces and more transform one’s backyard

All sweating aside, it’s never easy to stay cooped up indoors all summer despite how luxurious the air conditioning feels in contrast to the blistering 100-plus-degree temperatures outside.

Consider adding a built-in trampoline; Photo: French Accent LandscapingAs families are looking for more alternatives to stay active while staying cool in the heat of summertime, many are turning to their own backyards. Rather than getting a case of cabin fever, Valley residents are investing in the backyard of their dreams, perfect enough to call paradise.

Rising trends of staycations, or vacationing at home, are resulting in families learning to embrace the warmer temps and creating landscapes of peaceful escapes and kid-friendly retreats.Peaceful water features accent the surrounding landscape; Photo: French Accent Landscaping

“Homeowners’ mindsets are shifting,” says Christophe Martelly, president of French Accent Landscaping. “They are adapting their landscape to suit their lifestyle. They wish to experience their yard purely as a place for enjoyment, and what better way to do that than in your own backyard?”

When creating a space that everyone will love, start by recognizing exactly what is needed and how your family will be spending their time outdoors. Thinking beyond simple water features and blooming cacti, Martelly has incorporated several solutions for families searching to stay active while keeping cool.Add a poolside beach for both relaxation and play; Photo: French Accent Landscaping

“For families with small children, beaches near the pool are a great way for hours of safe fun. For active kids and teenagers, we now install in-ground trampolines, mini-tennis courts and badminton spaces. As for the adults, yoga pads and spaces for exercising are more commonly seen.”

Christophe Martelly, president of French Accent Landscaping, on his yoga pad.For something the entire family can enjoy, Martelly noted that many local residents are incorporating plenty of seating in the shade, as well as herb gardens, fire pits, misters and resort-inspired pool spaces. Additionally, Stephen Ramey, chief operating officer of Today’s Patio, says, “A lot of our customers look to create specific use areas in their backyards. They like having an area for dining and entertaining, and another area for casual conversations,” adding that, “people want to feel like they are in their living room even when they are outside.”

Artificial grass serves as a maintenance-free accenting element; Photo: French Accent LandscapingLooking at your property as an opportunity and an investment rather than a challenge will take the chore out of yard work. Even then, there are plenty of options to incorporate low maintenance plants and accenting features in your yard.

“Artificial grass is a dominant trend in Arizona landscaping,” Martelly says. “It’s pet-friendly, kid-friendly and chore-friendly. Perfect in in-formal and formal landscapes, artificial grass not only reduces our water-use footprint, but requires no mowing and little upkeep.”

Another popular trend in Valley yards, according to Martelly, is the use of LED landscape lights.

“LED lighting fixtures use less power, last up to 10 times longer than traditional lights and remain cool to the touch, thus, safer when used around children.” Incorporate both ground level lighting and spotlights for a space that can be enjoyed even after dusk.

As no Arizona home would be complete without some sort of water feature, it’s important to remember that safety is always key. Pool fences are great for children of all ages and should always be utilized. Additionally, many families have been looking toward the alternative of splash fountains and misters with which to keep cool. Martelly advises that, with any water feature, installation of re-circulation is a must.

“Controlled at a flip of the switch, re-circulating streams avoid the many hazards of pooling water.”

As local homeowners are altering their yards to reflect their wants and needs of staying cool while remaining active, Martelly sums up the recent evolution, saying, “Homeowners want to unwind outside with dinner, congregate with family and friends and experience their yards purely as a place for enjoyment.”

For more information about transforming your own backyard:

Today’s Patio
15500 N. Greenway Hayden Loop, Scottsdale
(480) 367-9700

French Accent Landscaping
36879 N. 38th St., Cave Creek
(602) 482-8211

Scottsdale Living Magazine Summer 2012

kitchen work triangle

Escaping Kitchen’s Bermuda (Work) Triangle

Gone are the days of the traditional kitchen work triangle as homeowners alike expand their kitchen needs into multiple work zones.

Before the trend of multiple sinks, double ovens, detached cook tops and hidden appliances, kitchen setups followed the golden rule of what is known as the “work triangle.” Conceived in the late 1940s by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the work triangle consisted of the path between the refrigerator, cook top and sink to create an ergonomically-friendly workspace.

Devised to keep appliances in close proximity and keep movement to a minimum, the work triangle provided a functional one-cook kitchen environment that was suitable at the time.

Since then, the number of cooks in the kitchen has increased along with the doubling of appliances and even the tripling of tools. To accommodate these growing numbers, the kitchen as we know it has expanded to fit such needs while introducing the idea of multiple work zones as it has become the heart of the home.

“The traditional work triangle has been gone for some time now,” says Steve Johnson, owner of Atelier. “It has, over time, evolved into multiple work triangles throughout the entire kitchen, as it has been that way for some time now.”

Creating multiple workspaces for tasks, such as food preparation, baking, cooking, cleanup and eating, influenced the expansion of kitchen, thus ditching the traditional work triangle concept.

According to Johnson, “this trend makes for a functional space for more people to work in while remaining just as practical when used by one cook.”

Taking this concept of moving away from the traditional and more towards multiple workstations, Marc Desplaines, founder and president of Antoine Proulx, notes, “a kitchen that functions best for its owner is what is important.”

Desplaines’ personal remodel created an open kitchen concept with a clean and streamlined look eliminating upper cabinetry. Choosing to remove the pre-existing work triangle, the remodel created a kitchen with three work zones — preparation, serving and cleanup — allowing up six people to freely move within the multiple workstations.

“It is an excellent example of why a traditional work triangle is not always the best solution,” he says.

When plotting a kitchen remodel, the homeowner should focus on what is necessary and how the space will be used. “Eliminating the work triangle for the sake of a trend doesn’t make sense if the pre-existing space is already working for that user,” Desplaines adds.

However, as our needs increase to accommodate the growing number of cooks, appliances and space desired, incorporating multiple workstations has become a common setup for the contemporary kitchen we have now become accustomed to.

For more information about how you can make the transition from the kitchen work triangle to multiple work zones, visit:

Atelier Inc.
4242 N. Craftsman Court, Scottsdale
(480) 424-7900

Antoine Proulx, LLC
3320 North 44th St., Phoenix
(602) 952-1580

Scottsdale Living Magazine Spring 2012

Resort Wear

Resort Wear Fashion For Everyday Style

We may not be regular jet-setters or packing our bags for a vacation in Saint Tropez, but that doesn’t have to stop us from incorporating the effortless and inherently versatile flow of resort wear fashion into our everyday outfits.

Resort wear has come a long way since matching Hawaiian shirts for couples and rainbow hibiscus flowers scattering our vacation threads. Now seen across the globe on any given day, resort wear fashion doesn’t have to stereotypically represent sought after beach vacations.

Characterized as “nautical,” resort wear can also be called “cruisewear.” Designed with the affluent touch of sailing of the shores of Capri or jet setting to the Caribbean, this lively trend has graced the runways of New York, Paris and Milan inspired by the faraway coastal islands and exotic escapes of our dreams.

Easy, breezy

Resort Wear: Kate Spade purse from Nordstrom Graciously welcomed into our wardrobes, resort wear 2012 incorporates influences of this spring’s lively mixed prints, color blocking, shades of neon and pastel and vivacious bold art-deco-inspired graphics. Materials typically range from no-fuss light cottons, poplin and silk, to microfiber and straw accessories.

No longer just reserved for the sunny beach get-away, resort wear has Resort Wear: Pleated Dress from Les Nouvelles held onto its easy maintenance requirements — which can partly explain why this trend is loved year-round. Typically designed for being stuffed away in suitcases, resort wear is by nature light, breathable, easy to pack and clean with little to no ironing necessary.

For the ladies

Women’s resort wear fashion can range from playful loose skirts and tops, to full-length evening dresses with room to breathe — perfect for that hot, Resort Wear: Bugatchi Uomo Shirt from Nordstrom Arizona summer creeping up on us. Additionally, accessories are often brightly animated with large hats, sunglasses and open-toe heals or strappy sandals. To go along with this casual trend, loose hairstyles like messy curls are perfect for both day and night.

Men’s resort wear

Men’s resort wear fashion incorporates fun colored short and pants with boat shoes and a light dinner jacket for the evening. For a dose of St. Moritz style, light white trousers, a striped Resort Wear: Sperry Top-Siderscollard shirt and rubber-soled loafers complete a resort wear-inspired men’s outfit.

With unique looks designed for function, brands such as J. Crew, Banana Republic and Tommy Bahama have pioneered this bold trend. More recently, other leading designers such as Chanel, Michael Kors, Anna Sui, Prada and Oscar de la Renta have been hot on the pursuit of stylish resort wear fashion.

For more resort wear fashion, shop locally at:

Lindsay Lou

6107 N. Scottsdale Rd., #C-14
(480) 443-2522

Michka Unique Trends

8787 N. Scottsdale Rd., #144
(480) 607-0032

tweetup parties

Tweetup Parties Create Buzz For Your Business

From hashtags to reality, companies everywhere are hosting tweetup parties to create immediate buzz about their business.

As there are just certain things you can’t say in 140 characters or less, local businesses, large and small, are finding that Twitter is a great tool to help them engage and reach out to customers, clients, fans and followers. Spread through the sweet chirps in the Twittersphere, hosting a tweetup party, meaning, “Twitter meetups,” is proving to be an effective way for businesses to connect with users and vice versa.

“All businesses should consider hosting a tweetup for the simple reason that face-to-face communication and networking can build a stronger connection than online communication alone,” says Melissa DiGianfilippo of Serendipit Consulting, a local full-service marketing, public relations, branding and event planning firm. “Tweetups are great for all types of businesses and can be held to serve just about any purpose.”

Putting a face to the Twitter ID, such gatherings should be tailored to meet specific business needs. They are typically themed, incorporate guest speakers or entertainment, food and drinks, merchandise and most importantly, free Wi-Fi so attendees can, of course, simultaneously tweet about the ongoing event.

According to DiGianfilippo, “to be ultimately successful, a brand would want their attendees to be tweeting things they are learning at the event, photos from the event, comments made and interacting online and in person.” Thus, creating a buzz about a particular business through social media.

With social media booming amongst all age groups, such face-to-face contact surprisingly holds a larger impact. DiGianfilippo adds that tweetups are “especially good if you are launching a new product or service that you can showcase. Give your fans and customers an opportunity to experience that product or service firsthand before it’s ‘released’ to the general public. Let them be the first to share it online; they will feel special, and you will get some great, real feedback.”

As such events prove to be effective promotional tools, simply hosting a tweetup could do more then generate good PR, but could also further a company with the help of honest, in-person connections and communications.

For more information about tweetup parties, visit Or, for more information about Serendipit Consulting, visit


New Flash Sale Site, LuxeYard, Offers Unique Home Design Feature

As the economy took a turn for the worst in 2007, the demand for high-end luxury items quickly followed. Emerging from the ashes came a new billion-dollar industry of online flash sale sites.

Such member-only sites offered their trusted followers deep discounts on high-end luxury items. With this new wave of e-commerce shopping, the flash sale site LuxeYard has changed the game all over again.

LuxeYard features luxury home furnishings, décor and fashion with members-only access to unique products sourced by a seasoned team of expert buyers.

“Unlike other flash sale sites, the fashion and home interiors featured on LuxeYard are curated with a personalized approach from the expert point of view of our veteran buying and styling team,” says Braden Richter, CEO of LuxeYard. “We present styles and designs based on quality, not quantity, and we feature up-and-coming designers in addition to popular brands.”

This free-to-sign-up site is able to deliver such discounted prices by eliminating overhead costs, including cost of building, advertising, storage and physical labor, presented in traditional physical stores.

Adding a personal touch

An additional touch to what makes LuxeYard so special for its members is its personal shopping experience using its “Concierge” feature, which gives members the opportunity to give their input regarding what’s offered on the site.

“Anyone who posts, likes, follows or comments on a Concierge product will be the first to know when we have sourced a great price on the products in which they have expressed interest in,” Richter adds of this unique site tool.

Virtually design your room

LuxeYardAs if it couldn’t get better, LuxeYard has managed to incorporate what they call their Drag & Drop Room Planner tool. In reality, however, this fun feature is every homeowner’s dream come true. This Room Planner tool allows members to visually view their room set up with layout options to match their personal space. Members can then input exact room dimensions and chose from the site’s wide selection of furniture to then arrange and place wherever desired without breaking a sweat.

“The idea for the room planning tool comes from my experience as a designer of home furnishings,” Richter adds. “I would often draw sketches to see how a particular piece would fit into a room, so it seemed like the same technique made sense for buying furniture online.”

With members highly pleased by the site’s new tool, Richter gave light to possibly adding more photo-realistic technology. This would allow members to upload a photo of their space and overlay items from LuxeYard onto the image.

To learn more about this site and its new room planner tool, visit


New Liposonix Procedure Decreases Waistline With Ultrasound Energy

As Arizonans live in shorts and a bathing suit come summertime (or more like springtime), a revolutionary procedure, Liposonix, helps get bodies back in shape for bikini season.

LiposonixWith revolutionary ultrasound technology, Liposonix is an FDA approved procedure that uses high-intensity focused ultrasound energy (HIFU) to permanently destroy fat cells. In a one-time, one-hour treatment, this non-invasive, non-surgical procedure can decrease your waistline by one size.

The ultrasound technology targets problem areas to eradicate fat around the waistline. The fat is removed through the body’s natural healing process, and during an eight- to 12-week time frame, it is naturally metabolized resulting in a thinner, more contoured waistline. Specializing in cosmetic dermatology and offering a wide variety of procedures using state-of-the-art technology, Dr. Susan Van Dyke, MD, of Van Dyke Laser & Skin in Scottsdale, Ariz. is the sole provider of the Liposonix procedure in the Southwest United Sates.

“One of the greatest things about Liposonix is that there is no downtime after the procedure,” Van Dyke says. “It is not unusual to have bruising and some minor soreness for a couple of days, but other than that, patients have no post-procedure restrictions.”


In order to benefit from the Liposonix technology, a patient must have a minimum of one inch of body fat around the targeted area. Patients looking for further contouring may receive the procedure multiple times, but according to Van Dyke, they are recommended to wait eight to 12 weeks after the first treatment to begin the next.

As this is strictly a contouring procedure and not the answer to significant weight loss, Van Dyke says, “I find that many who undergo this non-invasive fat reduction procedure become motivated to improve their diet and exercise regiments because they are so thrilled with the jump start this procedure provides.”

Treatments on the abdomen and flanks typically cost between $1,000 and $2,000, as prices will vary depending on the size of the targeted areas.

For more information about the Liposonix procedure and Van Dyke Laser & Skin, visit

Spring 2012 Trends

The Unexpected Fashion Trends Of Spring 2012

As the bright shades found on the spring 2012 runways were foreseen, a few unexpected trends popped up and have been taking the fashion community by storm ever since.

Both eccentric and highly contagious, the trends of cropped tops, mixing prints, peplums and pleats are in this season. Staying on the pulse of fashion, these daring trends are entirely doable for everyday wear.

Spring 2012 trends

Mixing Patterns

This season’s MVP of trends, going against mother’s rule of never mixing your patterns, is so not the case and somewhat liberating to do. Diverting from head-to-toe patterns found on the runway, break up your prints like pairing a floral skirt with a striped top and a leopard print shoe. As this trend is a bold move, incorporate one tailored, well-fitting piece to anchor the outfit and avoid getting swallowed alive by your clothes.

Spring 2012 trends


Another spring 2012 trend is pleats. Not exactly pleat-waisted pants, but more along the lines of loose, flowing, accordion-styled pleats. Designer’s such as Chloe and Prada incorporated the accordion pleat in skirts, dresses and shirts for a soft, full-of-movement, textured trend perfect for the warmer weather of spring and summer. As an added bonus, this fun trend will effortlessly transition into the cooler seasons according to the fall 2012 runways.

Crop Top: Spring 2012 trendCropped Tops

Designers such as Alexander Wang, Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni have brought back the naval-grazing trend of cropped tops. A former fashion star of the ‘90s, this midriff-baring style has returned with a more modern, fashion-forward flair. To avoid resembling a high school cheerleader, choose tops that flatter you body shape. A high-waisted bottom paired with a crop top limits skin exposure while infusing a sophisticated and sexy appeal. Such pairing highlights the smallest part of a woman’s waist to create a more feminine, hourglass figure. On the runway, cropped tops were paired with flowing maxi skirts and pencil skirts, but are also stylish when paired with jeans or shorts.

Spring 2012 trendsPeplum

Rounding out the unexpected trends of spring 2012 is the peplum. Defined as a short, flared ruffle that sits at the natural waist, the peplum has been spotted on both catwalks and red carpets. This added ruffle is perfect for slimming your waistline while accentuating your beautiful, womanly curves. Available in two styles, fitted and flared, Jason Wu added peplum to pencil skirts and dresses; Marc by Marc Jacobs added peplums to swimsuits; and Vera Wang incorporated this trend in detachable versions.

For more spring 2012 trends, visit:

Pastel Fashion

The Power Of Pastel Shades

Like Easter eggs, fresh flowers and seasonal allergies, pastel shades are synonymous with springtime. Hues such as light yellow, icy blue, blush pink, light lavender and mint green are key players in this season’s trend-setting color palette.Power of Pastel

Such shades normally reserved for the nursery lit up the spring runways and are now changing the faces of storefront displays across the valley. Designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein and Alexander Wang have transformed these child-like shades into a wearable and desirable springtime staple.

When revitalizing our closets with these playful colors that scream springtime, its best to avoid the head-to-toe monochromatic look pulled from the runway, as these sorbet shades tend to add unwanted bulk. Although the one-shade look may work for seven-foot models, pastels tend to squash any petite frames.

To avoid this, break up your look with either different shades of pastel or pair with solids, such as a black sweater, white blouse or a nude pump. Another great way to stay on trend without adding bulk is to invest in tailored pieces with clean lines.Power of Pastel

Capable of being a work-appropriate trend, avoid resembling a gelato shop by pairing a crisp black or white piece to help balance the outfit. A well-fitted pastel blazer, blouse or pencil skirt are both stylish and a sophisticated alternative to these playful shades.

Outside of the work area, pastel-dyed denim has been a huge standout for this trend. Without overindulging in looks from the ’80s, pair your sorbet pants with a white tee and black flats.

With the rising temps, enjoy these light and airy shades with loose-flowing dresses and skirts. For a little something extra, pair your look with this season’s hot patterns, such as polka dots, floral or the revitalization of stripes.

Perhaps a daunting trend to get acquainted with, it’s still easy to stay fashionable with the help of pastel accessories. Embrace these light hues in purses, jewelry and even nail polish. Most importantly, have fun with this not-at-all-serious color palette; we’ll leave that up to the dark crimsons, blacks and purples looming over our fall wardrobes.

For more pastel fashion and inspiration, visit:

Welcome To America

Welcome To America Project Lends Assistance To Local Refugees

Refugees find welcoming support with local nonprofit organization, Welcome to America Project.

Escaping worn-torn countries in search of safety, housing and a future for their family, legal refugees resettled by the United Nations attempt to lay new roots in Phoenix with the help and support of the Welcome to America Project.

The United Nations defines a refugee as, “someone who has fled his or her country because he/she fears persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion.”

Serving refugees from across the globe with a network of volunteers and local service agencies, Welcome to America Project assists in providing furniture, basic necessities, education and additional resources to ease the settling in process. Always going above and beyond, Executive Director, Megan O’Connor comments, “Of all the things Welcome to America Project does, introducing refugee families to members of the community is something I love most. To show them that they are welcome, that they are safe and that this is an opportunity for them to start a new a life with a community that supports them.”

With humble beginnings, local residents Phil and Carolyn Manning searched ways to honor Phil’s late brother, Terence Manning, who was lost during the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. After seeing a photograph of a local political refugee family from Afghanistan in the local news on October 7, 2001, Carolyn Manning knew what had to be done. Realizing that the Mannings shared the common idea of wanting a safe future, they began collecting donations of household items and clothing for the Afghan Family, seeking to give meaning to Terrance’s passing.

Since then, the Welcome to America Project has assisted more than 1,200 refugee families in the Phoenix area through continuous community support.

“It has been an absolutely incredible experience getting to know refugee groups on a personal level along with meeting community members and volunteers who support Welcome to America Project,” O’Connor adds.

With a number of ways to support, community members can donate gently used furniture, home goods, clothing and toys, along with multiple volunteer options, such as assisting with home deliveries, packing donations, storage upkeep, move-ins and home visits to talk with refugee families about what they need, along with monetary donations and becoming a corporate sponsor.

With so many opportunities to volunteer, O’Connor mentions how every family she meets provides a great touching story she’ll never forget. Sharing a more recent experience, O’Connor recalls a widowed Somali mother who was recently resettled to Phoenix.

“Upon arriving, she was very excited but very nervous. Welcome to America Project suggested she get connected with local group, Somali American United Council of Arizona. That night, I personally received a phone call from her saying she was so grateful she was connected to that group because for the first time in decades, she reconnected with friends and family members she didn’t even know were living in Arizona.”

As volunteering helps others gain new perspectives on life, various cultures and new experiences, Welcome To America Project will play host to its annual even fundraiser, Prom 2012, Saturday, April 21. Open to all, the night will include dinner, dancing and costumes for Welcome to America Projects’ biggest fundraiser with 100 percent of the proceeds going to local refugee families. With a large turnout expected, O’Connor added that the annual event typically accounts for 20-25 percent of all of the organizations annual donations.

For more information on the Welcome To America Project and ways to help volunteers, visit

For more information on the Prom 2012 fundraising event and how to purchase your ticket, click here.

Antelope Canyon

The Beauty Within Antelope Canyon

The most photographed and most visited slot canyon in the American Southwest calls Page Arizona near Lake Powell home. Within the 120-foot walls of the stunning Antelope Canyon lies a sacred and spiritual place on the LeChee Chapter land of the Navajo Nation.

Divided into two parts, Upper and Lower Canyon, you are greeted with spectacles unimaginable as light shoots onto the canyon floor illuminating the sandstone- and limestone-mixed walls painted by nature in radiating hues of warm tans, rustic oranges and sun-burnt reds. As many choose to hike the canyon, it serves as a haven for the photographer in you, as the beauty within the canyon practically places one-of-a-kind photo opportunities in front of your lens.

The Upper part of the canyon received the Navajo name of Tse’ bighanilini, meaning, “the place where water runs through rocks.” This portion of the canyon is highly visited due to it being on ground level requiring minimal hiking or climbing by its visitors. This half of the canyon is an ideal location for capturing the radiating sunbeams filling the canyon as they occur most often in the Upper Canyon. The attraction of the alluring shafts of light is best viewed from mid-March through early October.

The Navajo named the Lower Canyon, Hasdestwazí, meaning, “spiral rock arches.” This half of the canyon requires more hiking and climbing via the installed stairways and ladders along with the canyon walls that take on a “V” shape. Although this portion of the canyon does not attract as many photo-hungry patrons as the Upper Canyon, it does boast sites less commonly photographed with much less fellow visitors. Lighting in this half of the canyon is best in the early and late afternoon.

Within the unique canyon that nature continues to create is the world’s highest natural bridge spanning approximately 275 ft., 42 ft. thick and 33 ft. wide. This spectacle that takes place outside the canyon walls has appropriately taken the name Rainbow Bridge Trail.

As the surrounding desert landscape is no stranger to flash flooding caused by seasonal monsoon rainstorms, the canyon walls have been carved out over time to create this truly breathtaking space and patterned walls that many flock to year-round to view. Known to the Navajo as a sacred place, being inside the canyon walls is much like being in a cathedral; the sight is simply moving and the experience is ever lasting.

To visit this hidden Arizona gem and have it come to life right in front of your eyes, it is best to schedule a tour ahead of time. In that, be prepared with the newly enforced time limit of two-hours inside both the Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon. Many of the guided tours second as an instructional photo tour allowing you to capture the best images within the canyon.

To learn more about Antelope Canyon and schedule your tour, visit


Celebrity Fight Night

Awards, Auctions And Celebrations In Store For Celebrity Fight Night 2012

It is one of the nation’s most notable charities, raising nearly $70 million in 17 years, and this year’s nonprofit Celebrity Fight Night will be a particularly special, black-tie event — it’s Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday.

Muhammad Ali, Celebrity Fight NightOriginated in 1994 by long-time Arizona resident, Jimmy Walker, the event featured local celebrities who donned oversized boxing gloves and entered the ring for a friendly match of boxing in efforts to raise money for local charities.

Two years later, boxing legend Muhammad Ali became involved in the event. Since then, Celebrity Fight Night has traded celebrity duke outs for live auctions and big name entertainment to help raise donations for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, along with many notable smaller charities.

With the annual event set to commence for its 18th year on Saturday, March 24, seven-time returning emcee, Reba McEntire; 13-time returning musical director, David Foster; and live performances from Rascal Flatts, Lionel Richie, Miley Cyrus and many more, will help to celebrate Ali’s 70th birthday and raise yet another astonishing amount of charitable donations.

As expectations for the evening are set high, Executive Director Sean Currie describes his involvement with the foundation, “as a blessing to be able to donate.” Marking his 15th consecutive year with Celebrity Fight Night, Currie adds, “going from a 400-person event to a 1,200 person event and raising millions of dollars has been an amazing experience.”

Reba McEntire, emcee, Celebrity Fight NightWith the audience comprised of well-known celebrities, Currie notes that, “this year, unlike many years in the past has been incredible in the amount of seats we have sold, but not just that, the high-priced seats in the front were the ones that went first, which is something we haven’t seen in years past.”

Those lucky attendees will enjoy a night filled with live entertainment and live and silent auctions on items you normally wouldn’t be able to get your hands on. As Currie gave light to a possible duet with Lionel Richie and Rascal Flatts, the evening will honor this year’s 2012 Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Award winners — Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals; Bill Austin, CEO and founder of Starkey Labs; and Diane and Bruce Halle, philanthropists and founders of Discount Tire.

“[These] are good people with strong characters that represent what Muhammad stands for,” Currie says. “Each honoree makes the world a better place through their charities and what they do in their specific field.”

In attempts to create an event unlike those in the past, Currie looks forward to the celebration of Ali’s 70th birthday the most.

“I’m excited for seeing Muhammad Ali excited for everyone to sing him happy birthday,” Currie says. “When you see his eyes light up and a smile come across his face that you don’t get to see as much anymore, it really warms your heart to see that you made a difference in his life and the opportunity to give back to many people.”

For more information about the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation, visit

Visit Celebrity Fight Night Foundation’s website for a complete list auction items.

Hannay Reality Advisors - Denver

Phoenix-Based Hannay Realty Advisors Expands to Colorado

Longtime Phoenix-based property management and commercial real estate investment firm, Hannay Realty Advisors, has opened an office in Colorado to expand presence.

To take the lead of the new office, Denver-based commercial real estate executive Bruce Backstrom has been brought on as senior vice president and manager of the Hannay Realty Advisors’ Colorado office in Denver. Backstrom will be involved in establishing a larger presence for Hannay Realty Advisors as the company continues their expansion across the Western U.S.

Backstrom’s background includes 26 years in the commercial asset management and leasing industry where he held top level positions with some of the nation’s leading real estate firms, including CBRE and the Trammel Crow Company. His experience includes managing office, retail, industrial and medical office portfolios, and he is highly adept at receiverships for distressed properties and has been responsible for 15 receiverships in the past 24 months.

Backstrom has worked with top players in the commercial real estate industry, such as Morgan Stanley, Principal Real Estate Investors, Invesco, CW Capital, TIAA-CREF and LaSalle Investment Management, among others. Backstrom has been involved in numerous professional commercial real estate organizations, including being a former board member of BOMA/Denver, member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP). He is a Certified Shopping Manager (CSM) awarded by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Bruce is the licensed employing broker in Colorado.

“We are very excited to have Bruce join our organization and are confident that we have the right person in place to help us become a major player in Colorado,” said Craig Hannay, president of Hannay Realty Advisors. “Bruce has an impressive background and has in depth knowledge of the Colorado market. This is just the first step in our strategic growth plan that we foresee for 2012.”

For more information on Hannay Realty Advisors, visit

Male Vitality, Increasing Testosterone

The Key To Male Vitality: Naturally Increasing Testosterone

With its important role of helping to maintain bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, red blood cell production and sex drive, it’s no secret that testosterone in men is a vital hormone. In that, the overwhelming realization of this hormone decreasing with age — about one percent every year after 30 — causes many to look for alternatives to finding the key to male vitality.

With the hunt of finding the key to male vitality, there are certain things one can do to take preventative steps to help slow down this decreasing hormone.

With advice from local urologist Dr. Al Borhan, the key to male vitality can be answered with one short simple rule: “All the things that mother told you to do best, are the things that help with your testosterone.”

Natural vs. Unnatural Methods

While some choose the route of artificial hormones and supplements — including those who have significantly lower levels of testosterone — others should consider taking preventative steps at an earlier age to help reduce the need of artificial supplements later in life.

Why? After prolonged consumption of artificial hormones, you’ve decided to stop taking them, the body faces the possibility of no longer being able to naturally produce the necessary hormones. “As nothing you take in life is free, everything you do to the body has its own side effects,” adds Dr. Borhan.

For those choosing the natural route, Dr. Borhan stands firm with his “mother knows best” key to success, suggesting five things to keep in mind:

1. Get a good night’s rest.
2. Practice good nutrition with foods that naturally include testosterone hormone builders such as fish, peanuts and olive oil.
3. Practice healthy dieting, banning the yo-yo type diets.
4. Monitor alcohol use to no more than two to three drinks daily.
5. Get up and exercise, particularly the larger muscles that increase testosterone and decrease fat content.

Taking Dr. Borhan’s advice, the importance of practicing preventative steps at an early age can prove to have positive long-term effects. All things considered, we must also keep in mind the changing elements of our surroundings — no regarding climate, but more so technology and its effects on one’s body.

The Effects of Wi-Fi

With many of us glued to some form of electrical device such as a cell phone, laptop, desktop or tablet, it is important to realize that such advances in technology can perhaps play a role in altering our hormone production.

In a study done by researchers from Argentina and the U.S., Wi-Fi connections were tested to examine the possible harmful attributes to the male’s reproductive organs. With two cups of semen placed under two laptops, one with an Ethernet connection and the other with a Wi-Fi connection, research showed that the sperm placed under the Wi-Fi connection experienced mobility issues and some DNA damage.

In response to the study,Dr. Borhan says the study is still premature. Although differences between the two sperms were noticed, the results should not send us all into a wide-struck panic but rather to proceed with caution.

“More importantly, the investigation should be focused more on what is happening inside the body,” Dr. Borhan says.

As for the idea that the heat output of laptops can potentially hurt the quality of one’s sperm due to scrotal hyperthermia, Dr. Bornham says to keep the laptop off your lap. Heat decreases sperms function, so allowing anything like a hot laptop or even a heating pad near the males reproductive organs can cause unnatural changes to the body.

Dr. Borhan’s last bit advice? “Consume everything in moderation.”

For more tips on increasing male vitality, visit

Date Night

Date Night: Kalibre, Kazimierz, Mabel's And More

Choosing the right outfit

Offering a unique collection of styles, Lindsay Lou is the perfect
one-stop shop to get that great date night outfit — and even a few
other pieces.

Lindsay Lou
6107 N. Scottsdale Rd.
(480) 443-2522

Perfect jewelery

To match the outfit you spent hours picking out, you’re going to
need some great jewelery. With the distinctively creative pieces
from Kalibre, you’ll adorn your spectacular outfit with
one-of-a-kind jewelery.

7101 E. Stetson Drive
(480) 946-8055

Last-chance workout

Save time for that last minute workout before the night. To look
absolutely spectacular for your date in a quick way, try out Koko
Fitclub of Scottsdale for its 30-minute workout using the
Koko Smartraining System. This new technology creates a
personal training plan without the expensive trainer.

Koko Fitclub of Scottsdale
6245 E. Bell Rd.
Suite 113
(480) 588-6602

Get your nails done

Pamper yourself pre-date night with a manicure or pedicure from
Polished Nail Spa. Offering a clean and inviting atmosphere with a welcoming staff, treat yourself to the simple pleasures of a great mani or pedi.

Polished Nail Spa
10243 N. Scottsdale Rd., #2
(480) 948-8055

Relax before the night

A perfect way to relax before the big night, treat yourself to a Date night message
calming hot stone massage. With affordable pricing, you can enjoy a nice massage to work out those date night jitters.

Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa
15233 N. 87th Street 100
(480) 991-5100

Wine & Dine

A downtown hidden jewel for live entertainment, more than 3,000 Date night food and drinks
wine options, cocktails and appetizers, Kazimierz World Wine Bar is a cozy restaurant complete with mood-setting light.

Kazimierz World Wine Bar
7137 E. Stetson Drive
(480) WINE-004

Join the club

If you’re looking for a great lounge that includes food, drinks,date night club and lounge
music and a friendly atmosphere, Mabel’s on Main offers just
that. With a friendly staff and date-friendly atmosphere, this
bar and lounge provides the perfect space to chat, dance, eat
and drink the night away.

Mabel’s on Main
7018 E. Main St.
(480) 369- 3665

For your (sweet)heart

Before you call it a night, squeeze in a tasteful after date night dessert, Photo: treat. Stop by Sweet Republic, and enjoy a plentiful amount of treats sure to please any palette. If the 24 flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet don’t satisfy your sweet tooth, try one of their sundaes, shakes, specialty drinks, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, pies and cakes. This last stop of the night will literally put the cherry on top of a great date night.

Sweet Republic
9160 E. Shea Blvd
(480) 248-6979

Green Schoolhouse Series

Green Schoolhouse Series Creates Sustainable Valley Schools

Thanks to the Green Schoolhouse Series, three Arizona schools will receive makeovers with sustainability in mind as part of an 18-market national tour.

For 14 million American children in school today, December 1, 2011 marked a step in the right direction for a healthier and greener future. This moment in time ceremoniously marked the groundbreaking day of what will become the first ever LEED-Platinum designed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) school right here in Phoenix, Arizona.

Roadrunner Elementary School is currently receiving a major makeover to become a healthy, environmentally friendly and energy efficient schoolhouse serving as the inaugural site of Green Schoolhouse Series.

Aiming to bring greener practices both in the construction of the schoolhouses and the student’s curriculum, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has partnered up with the Green Schoolhouse Series to put such ideas into action. The well-underway construction at Roadrunner Elementary, expected to be completed by May 2012 and ready for the fall 2012 school year, is just one of three schools in the state to receive a much needed upgrade. Orangewood Middle School and Green Phoenix Learning Center will also take part in integrating sustainable facilities and greener practices as part of the 18-market national tour.

The schools involved in the series are Title 1, low-income, public schools; they will receive facilities comprised of recycled and environmentally-friendly materials with solar rooftops and rainwater harvesting capabilities. Each classroom will also be equipped with state-of-the-art technology incorporating interactive white boards, surround sound, outdoor learning spaces and green gardens. These upgrades come as a stark contrast to the outdated portables found on so many school campuses across the nation.

The LEED-Platinum certified schoolhouses aim to have a net-zero energy use, net-zero water use and non-toxic interior environments. As for the technology within the classrooms, senior partner of the Green Schoolhouse Series, Jeff Zotara, says they hope to, “create an engaging environment for the students, while encouraging interaction.” With that, the curriculum within the schools will encourage green practices, such as conserving energy along with learning about the importance of eating healthy and organic.

Built entirely by professional and community volunteers, the construction of the schoolhouses will match the hard work of the teachers, school board members, students and parents of each chosen school who helped to submit the grant application for their school to become part of the Green Schoolhouse Series. In that, the school’s commitment to sustainable practices has already influenced other community members as many local and even non-local business have stepped forward to help make donations.

Although not every school in America is financially able to build LEED-certified buildings, Zotara describes the Green Schoolhouse project as a “national movement and an iconic example of what is possible.” Taking the ideas of living more sustainably, senior executive member of BCBSAZ, Deanna Salazar, comments on the impact of the projects saying, “It’s our hope that these schools will inspire other schools to look at ways green living and healthier practices can be incorporated into school curriculum.”

With the ongoing projects of Green Schoolhouse Series, there are still opportunities to get involved, as each project is 100 percent dependable on donations made by businesses, both small and large.

For more information on opportunities to get involved with the Green Schoolhouse Series call (760)431-5400 or visit to learn more.

Paint Chip Chandelier

DIY Of The Week: Paint Chip Chandelier

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive way to add color to a room, try this paint chip chandelier DIY. However, with this easy, at-home DIY project you must be crafty enough to get away with nabbing a few handfuls of paint chips from your local hardware store. If not, a few trips may be needed to avoid the Big-Brother-like stares from the employees in the paint department.

Without condoning the “borrowing” of paint chips, this simple, DIY paint chip chandelier can serve as a light above a table or desk, a simple form of decoration, or a mobile in a nursery.

But first, here are the easy steps for creating this paint chip chandelier (thanks to the blogger of

Tools and Materials:

Paint chips (40-60 in eight different shades)
Mini lamp shade
Ribbon (in a similar shade as paint chips)
Paper punch


First, you will want to choose the shade of color you want to make your chandelier. To create the ombre look of fading from light to dark, you will need about eight different shades. After deciding which color to use, you will need to nab about 40-60 swatches of varying colors.

1. Using your paper punch (in this case a scalloped circle was used) punch out about 40-60 swatches in desired shape. It’s helpful to keep colors separated in piles once punched.

Paint Chip Chandelier Step 32. With lamp shade in hand, remove any fabric with just the wire frame remaining.

3. Lay punched out swatches, colored side down in desired order. For this example, an order of lightest to darkest was used to creating the ombre effect.

4. With the swatches lined up, tape down a long piece of thread on the back of each swatch to create a string of swatches. To keep the back of the paint chip from showing, be sure to tape down the swatches where one meets the next. Trim any access tape that may stick out. Repeat this step until all the strands are taped together.

Paint Chip Chandelier Step 55. Flip your lamp shade upside down. To make this next step easier, you can hang the inverted lamp shade so that it hangs freely. With that, start tying on the strung together swatches to both the “top” and “bottom” of your shade. Continue all the around until the entire chandelier is covered.

6. Add ribbon, to where the light bulb would be placed in the lamp shade, and tie in a bow. And voilà, you are ready to hang your chandelier.

Wanting more paint chip projects? Here are a few more DIY ideas using paint chips:

Decorative Paint Chip Garland

Perfect for any holiday and even non-holiday decorating, cut out your desired shape, string together, hang, and enjoy. An inexpensive and colorful DIY decoration.

Paint Chip Garland

Paint Chip Earrings

Paint chip earrings are a one-of-a-kind accessory; learn how to make these funky and bright earrings.

 Paint Chip Earrings

First Friday in Downtown Phoenix

First Friday In Downtown Phoenix

The First Friday evening of every month in downtown Phoenix will provide you with all flocks of life gathered around multiple forums of artwork. From dancing and singing, to high-priced artwork lining gallery walls and local street vendors selling their handcrafted delights, First Friday has every culturally stimulating experience you can imagine without having to leave the city.

Phoenix’s First Friday event started as an annual event in the spring of 1988 known as the annual Art Detour. Met with large crowds and a new life to the downtown art district, the annual event turned monthly in early 1994. Since then, huge numbers of Phoenix locals and city visitors continue to fill the streets of Phoenix’s art district to share and explore their interest in local art, making this First Friday art walk the largest monthly event in the United States.

Free to all attendees, arrive on the  Valley Metro Light Rail or park at the Phoenix Art Museum and travel to all the hot spots by a free shuttle to soak up all that the night has to offer. Comprised of more than 70 galleries, venues and street vendors, you’ll surely find something to please everyone’s interests with this self-guided walking tour.

For me, the event’s convenient location off the city’s beloved light rail system made First Friday a regular monthly outing here in my home away from home. Just four years ago I packed up everything I knew to move out of state for college and began looking for other off-campus experiences to take in what Phoenix had to offer. With several hits and misses, I quickly found refuge in the streets of Phoenix’s art district, as I became a familiar face at First Friday.

With every first Friday of the month, my frequent visits are met with new sights, smells and sounds. Although the usual, art-loving crowd is to be expected, you can never really predict what little wonders you’ll find that night. After attending a few times, I began to know which galleries are worth lingering in the longest, which shops have the best vendors in their yards and what artists will stimulate my desire for unique works of art.

Despite art snobbery stereotypes, First Friday is more about the “come as you are” philosophy while you comfortably stroll the town enjoying an evening of good art, music and food. As a poor college student in love with all artistic forms, this event has truly fed my hunger for great art without having to endure the stuffy galleries quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

Rather, in the streets, yards and galleries of downtown Phoenix, you are greeted with open arms despite your level of love or knowledge for art. As a safe haven for those looking for a lively event full of spirit and culture, First Friday has served as my regular form of entertainment along with being a must for any visitors asking for something to do around Phoenix. In that, I will continue to attend the monthly events and encourage all to join in on the evening of great festivities.

For more information about First Friday visit