CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
Conference USA tournament time is upon us and there is so much excitement this year. This year El Paso is the host for the Conference USA Mens and lady basketball tournaments. 31 teams along with their coaching staffs, families and fans will all be in town this week in what will be a great week of basketball. This tournament will bring a small boom to the economy. Hopefully this tournament stays in rotation in the city of El Paso. A lot of teams will be playing very tough this week. UTEP being 5th currently in the standings will need a lot of help from all of its fans. The Miners home court advantage will be extremely important this week when it has an extremely hard 4 days of basketball to fight through.
The UTEP Miners have a lot to celebrate even if they do not win the conference tournament. UTEP ended its season record with a 22-9 mark giving Tim Floyd his first 20+ win season. Jon Bohannon was selected to the ALL Conference Third team list. Julian Washburn and Vincent Hunter were selected to the 2nd team list. Vincent Hunter was also awarded the Conference USA Freshmen of the year award. Hunter had (5) 20+ games this season along with (2) 26 point games tying a school record for freshmen. Hunters career will only continue to flourish here in El Paso. Julian Washburn was selected the all-defensive team. Great accolades for both players who look to be leaders in this weeks tournament.
The Miners will need to win 4 straight games in 4 straight nights if they want to win this tournament. A tournament win would send the Miners to the NCAA tournament. That would be Coach Tim Floyd’s first NCAA birth since becoming head coach at UTEP. That would mark the first time in 5 years that the Miners would make the NCAA tournament.
Here is the schedule and times for the games.
2014 Conference USA Championship Schedule
Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas
Tuesday, March 11?(10) North Texas vs. (15) Rice (C-USADN) 3:30p?(11) Florida Atlantic vs. (14) Marshall (C-USADN) 6:00p?(12) East Carolina vs. (13) UTSA (C-USADN) 8:30p
Wednesday, March 12?North Texas/Rice vs. (7) Tulane (C-USADN) 12:00p?FAU/Marshall vs. (6) Old Dominion (C-USADN) 2:30p?ECU/UTSA vs. (5) UTEP (C-USADN) 6:00p?(9) Charlotte vs. (8) UAB (C-USADN) 8:30p
Thursday, March 13?UNT/Rice/Tulane vs. (2) Tulsa (C-USADN) 12:00p?FAU/MAR/ODU vs. (3) Middle Tennessee (C-USADN) 2:30p?ECU/UTSA/UTEP vs. (4) Southern Miss (C-USADN) 6:00p?UAB/Charlotte vs. (1) Louisiana Tech (C-USADN) 8:30p
Friday, March 14?Semifinal # 1 (CBS Sports Network) 2:00p?Semifinal # 2 (CBS Sports Network) 4:30p
Saturday, March 15?Championship Game (CBS) 9:35a
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Every year Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is a fun filled event that embraces the whole city of El Paso. This past weekend El Paso had its 22nd annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The 5k race is the largest 5k in the city of El Paso. The race was followed by Concert for the cure which featured Windy City, a Chicago tribute band. This year the race attracted more than 10,000 participants to Biggs Army Airfield. Nationwide the race had over 1,000,000 participants all running to help fight breast cancer.
Susan G. Koman fought a hard willed battle against breast cancer. Throughout her treatment and hospital visits her main concern was for other women and their battles. After Susan passed away, her sister Nancy G. Brinker carried out her wish to help battle breast cancer. Nancy then started the Susan G. Komen for the cure foundation. Worldwide the Susan G. Komen foundation has been a life force for the breast cancer movement having invested more than $2.2 billion since 1982. The foundation has over 122 affiliate offices throughout the country.
The local branch of Susan G Koman was founded in El Paso in 1993. Suzie Azar with help from friends founded the Partners for the Cure. More than $70,000 was raised in their first year of hosting the race. Since 1993 Komen El Paso has awarded over $4.1 million in grants. These grants have helped in breast cancer screenings, education and treatment in El Paso. The local foundation Covers the whole County and plays an important role in fighting breast cancer in our community.
You and your family can be involved year round and not just during race season. If you and your family would like to get involved with the foundation they can be reached at
Susan G Komen El Paso
1700 Murchison, Suite 207
El Paso, TX 79902
The Monster Jam Trucks are Coming!
Story by: Ricky Jimenez Carrasco | Photos courtesy of Feld Entertainment
The Monster Jam monster truck show will rumble its way into the UTEP Sun Bowl this weekend! This year’s show will feature 18 of its famous Monster Jam trucks including fan favorites Gravedigger, Son-uva Digger, El Diablo, El Toro Loco, and the Monster Energy Truck. Also in this year’s line up are Robosaurus, a mechanical fire-breathing dinosaur the size of a semi, and Street Warriors, off-road races featuring local trucks that compete for prizes and bragging rights. Shows will be 7pm on Saturday, March 1, and 2 pm on Sunday, March 2. All general admission tickets are $12 each.
Joe Vilchis, Event Director – Feld Entertainment
A key difference to this year’s show is that it will be directed by Joe Vilches, an El Paso native who has been with Feld Entertainment (Monster Jam’s parent company) for 5 years. Joe worked as a manager for Thunder Alley, a local racing arena owned by his father, for about 7 years. Joe put in his application as a fabricator to work on the Monster Jam trucks, but because of his local experience, he was hired as an event manager for the Aurora, Illinois, company. After all that time in the cold of Illinois, he just got the opportunity to move back to El Paso.
“I used to take my kids to the Monster Jams when they were little, not having a clue that I would be doing this for a living. I’m really the only one in the company who speaks Spanish. That ability has taken me to many of the international shows including Mexico City, Panama, and Costa Rica. Now, I finally have the opportunity to do a show for my hometown! Being a local and knowing what locals like, and simply understanding our community better, I know I can put on a very good show.”
Vilches explained that it usually takes about a year of planning to put on a show, from the smallest venue to something as large as the New York Giants Stadium where they have had 60,000 person crowds. The shows at the Sun Bowl can have crowds as large as 45,000 people.
With his experience, Vilches knows what it takes to put on a good show. “One of my best shows ever was in Mexico City where the venue has state of the art jumbo-tron screens, robotic lighting, fog machines and sound systems. It makes for a better show because those are tools that we can use. We can format our shows to fit any venue. But when the show flows, when the trucks are performing at their best, when the crowd is chanting the truck’s name, that’s special.”
Vilches explained that he and the other event managers get together often to view tapes on each other’s shows to take notes, compare, critique and learn from each other. “On any given weekend, there are 9 or 10 shows across the country. We own about 80 trucks full time and have the capacity to hire independent drivers that brings our truck count to around 200 trucks total. That’s a lot of shows, a lot of action, and a lot of video to go over, but it’s all so we can bring a better show each time.”
He explains that in ticket sales, Monster Jam Truck shows are above even NASCAR because they give the best possible show in a shorter amount of time. “Our shows aren’t 10-12 hours long. Our shows are 2 hours of non-stop action and entertainment. You don’t have to invest an entire day to this.”
Part of the show is also the competitive nature of the races that take place. Points and victories of each driver are recorded throughout the year. The top drivers and trucks are then invited to the Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas on March 20-22. “When you see the drivers pushing their trucks to the limits, there’s a reason for that. The competition is real!”
Joe Vilches would like to invite all El Paso to come see the show he’s prepared for his hometown this weekend. “There’s something for everyone! On Saturday there’s a pit party before the show from 3-5pm where all the fans can come to the floor and meet all the drivers and buy merchandise from their favorite trucks. There will also be live music playing. After the show, the drivers will be on the concourse to meet with the fans and sign autographs until the last fan leaves.”
New Emergency Room at Sierra Providence East
Sierra Providence has had some major additions to the hospital this past year and 2014 doesn’t look like they are slowing down one bit. February 5th Sierra Providence East Medical Center celebrated the ribbon cutting for its New Expanded Emergency Room Department. Many staff members and media were in attendance to watch this occasion. Members of the El Paso Chamber of commerce and the Hispanic chamber of commerce were on hand to say a few words congratulating the hospital. The importance for a facility like this in Far East is of great importance and this event showed the excitement of the community. The growth for Far East El Paso has been tremendous in the past 5 years and its great to see cutting edge and real growth for our community.
The New Emergency Room at Sierra Providence East will be 35,000 square feet in total size. The previous ER had 20 rooms and is now expanding to 38 private rooms for patients. This new facility will also house 2 Negative-pressure isolation rooms and a Level IV Trauma Facility designation. 7 Fast Track rooms along with 3 Trauma/Shock Rooms and designated Triage area will definitely bring this hospital up a notch. In the case of a huge catastrophic event, the outdoor site will be equipped to handle large scale biohazard events. Additions like this will only help the community in far East El Paso and provide the much needed convenience and care.
Black History Month
Black History Month is here and there a tons of celebrations throughout the city going on for the rest of the month. Every February we celebrate Black History Month to celebrate Black historical figures and usually highlights particularly civil rights historical figures in America and from around the world. There will be lots of Black History Month celebrations going on throughout the city and especially at UTEP. On a national level Black History Month has evolved for almost 100 years. The History of this celebration can be traced back to a Historian that saw a need and importance to celebrate the history and accomplishments for African Americans in our country.
Black History Months roots can be traced back to 1925. Harvard Trained historian Carter G. Woodson wanted to raise awareness of African American accomplishments in the United States. In 1925 Woodson founded the (ASNLH) Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In 1926 Woodson founded Negro week which was celebrated the 2nd week of February. His founding of this date was a big success and the response was overwhelming. By the time the 1950s hit, Negro History Week had become a huge part of African American Culture. By this time Mayors in major cities throughout the country made proclamations noting Negro History Week and its importance to their culture and community.
During the bicentennial year of our country in 1976, President Gerald Ford declared February as Black History Month. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the to-often neglected accomplishments of black americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. Since then every single President has issued Black History Month proclamations. Today the (ASALH) Association for the Study of African American Life and History helps to promote African American history throughout the whole year. Today Black History Month is celebrated all over this country and the world.
UTEP will have a lot of events for Black History Month throughout its campus in February. The Department of African American Studies at UTEP is spearheading a lot of these events and in recent years these celebrations have really grown and have reached out to the community a lot more. Below are the events you should be sure to check out this month. Various events from the Miss Black El Paso Southwest Scholarship Pageant to the Black History Month Parade and Festival at Webb park, there are a lot of great events for the entire family to experience here in El Paso.
- 15 FEBRUARY 2014 “HISTORY DAY,” UNION EAST, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- 15 FEBRUARY 2014 MISS BLACK EL PASO SOUTHWEST SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT, CHAMIZAL NATIONAL PARK, 7 p.m.
- 20 FEBRUARY 2014 DR. WILL GUZMAN, PROFESSOR FLORIDA A &M UNIVERSITY, “DR. LAWRENCE NIXON, DRUSILLA NIXON, AND CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA,” TEMPLETON ROOM UNION EAST, 1:30 p.m.
- 22 FEBRUARY 2014 BLACK HISTORY MONTH PARADE AND FESTIVAL, MARY WEBB PARK, MISSOURI STREET
- 25 FEBRUARY 2014 DRAMATIZATION OF “THE MOUNTAINTOP” WRITTEN BY KATORI HALL AND PERFORMED BY KATHRYN SMITH-McGLYNN AND BOB SNEAD, UNION CINEMA 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- 27 FEBRUARY 2014 DR. LOWELL GRAHAM CONDUCTS UTEP ORCHESTRA IN “THE MUSIC OF WILLIAM GRANT STILL,” RECITAL HALL, FOX FINE ARTS BUILDING, 7:30 p.m.
- 1 MARCH 2014 UTEP AND EL PASO COMMUNITY CHOIR “GOSPEL EXPLOSION,” RECITAL HALL, FOX FINE ARTS BUILDING, 7 p.m.
Valentine’s Day Guide
Its that time of year again and you are probably wondering what to do for that special someone for Valentines Day. You have 1 week to put something together and you probably haven’t even thought about it. We have got you covered with our Valentines Day guide to prepare for that special evening and maybe even pamper yourself in the process. If you are single then why not go out for a mani/pedi and have a nice dinner with a good friend. Valentines day is about love and who else to love than yourself. We have listed some great ALL local restaurant guide along with local spas around town and florist in case you need to make a last minute order. Every food spot is hassle free and do not require a reservation. Enjoy….
Toms Folk Cafe has a very nice folk music based decor. Toms takes on traditional southern food with a little bit of a french flavor. Their goal is to provide good Americana food with a lot of fresh organic french ingredients. Toms has very limited seating and getting there early would be highly recommended. My personal favorite is the Pan Seared Salmon.
2701 North Stanton
A Cincinnati Street staple, G2 provides a great selection of steaks, great seafoods and hearty burgers. G2 is casual yet refined. You can sit back and have a pan seared scallops and enjoy some nice red wine with that. Our personal favorite is the Walt Burger that is a house favorite.
2603 N Mesa St
Established in 2012, Star City is not only a late night spot but a great Kitchen and Bar. Newly renovated and has slowly become THEE place for burgers on Mesa Street. Whether you are in the mood for some peanut butter pancakes or a Queso burger, they have you covered.
1879 N Zaragoza Rd
One of El Paso’s favorite local Italian spots continues to flourish with its Eastside Location. Ardovinos offers some of the yummiest pizzas the Eastside has to offer. Ardovinos also offers great salads and a surprising large selection of craft beers. We love the Margherita pizza more than any.
11990 Rojas Dr
Tuesday 5 Dollar burgers have become a favorite for both east and west locations. Crave offers a great casual dining experience that has a lot of great twists on homestyle favorites. The chicken and waffles are amazing and the Eastside location offers some bomb chorizo flautas.
1515 N Lee Trevino Dr,
If you want a more loungey atmosphere with a great decor, then Coco Miel is for you. Cocomiel has a large bar that offers custom cocktails and an extensive selection of imported wines. Everything from custom pizzas to outstanding salads and sandwiches this place has you covered. Our favorite is the New York style cheesecake. Definitely one of the best in the city.
5860 N Mesa St #128
Kern Place Florist
2430 N Mesa St
3500 N Mesa St
11450 Rojas Dr.
Suite 16 – D
1506 N Lee Trevino Dr
1580 George Dieter Dr
6301 Airport Rd.
Foliage Hair Salon and Day Spa
745 S Mesa Hills Dr C-D
Westend Hair Co. and Day Spa
2626 N Stanton St
N’Dulge Day Spa
311 McClintock Dr
Luxor Salon and Day Spa
11426 Rojas Dr
Milan Salon and Day Spa
10630 Montwood Dr
Barragans Spa and Salon
12240 Pellicano Dr
Continuing to Be the Best.
This past friday the Socorro District honored the Socorro High School NJROTC program. The District unveiled a monument giving recognition to the 1995 and 2013 programs both winning nationals. The current NJROTC program is very excited and is getting ready make the top 2 at their competition at Onate high school in Las cruces that will qualify them for Nationals for 2014. Socorro is in Area 9 and have to win at regionals to go on to Nationals where the best from 11 regions in the country face off. Academics and community service is what puts Socorro apart from its competition. Socorro averages 8000 community service hours per year. The average ARMY ROTC only averages 4000.
Back in June, the Socorro High School NJROTC became best in the nation, being named the Most Outstanding Unit by the U.S. Navy League. Two years ago, Socorro came in 3rd in the nation based on a wide variety of accomplishments such as Navy exams, community service, physical teams and color guards. Not one to rest on their laurels, and under the tutelage of school commander, Senior Naval Science Instructor Michael Morales and the rest of the NJROTC teachers, the unit regrouped and came back stronger than ever, beating more than 600 NJROTC units from across the nation.
The Texas State School of Mines has come along way since 1914. Through numerous name changes to what we now know today as The University of Texas at El Paso. UTEP is celebrating its Centennial year and has a lot of events throughout the year to fully embrace this momentous time for both the University and city of El Paso. In April 2014, a statewide launch will begin in Austin with a commemoration of the 1913 legislative act that enabled the creation of the Texas School of Mines and Metallurgy.
The University has started a Centennial stories website to showcase the many interesting and extraordinary stories of staff, faculty and students of all ages that have passed through the campus. Stories can be viewed at http://centennial.utep.edu/stories.html. The month of April 2014 will serve as one large open house on campus. One hundred years earlier, in April 1914, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce announced that it had received commitments totaling $50,000—enough to open a mining school in the city. One hundred years later, UTEP invites everyone to come to campus and witness the return on investment over the course of a century when cash, care, and dreams are combined in pursuit of the American Dream of higher education.
One of the lasting legacies of the Centennial will be the transformation of the campus into a pedestrian-friendly public space. A gathering place will be created at the heart of the campus together with a new gateway on University Avenue and other projects on Hawthorne, Wiggins, and Circle Drive; and in Leech Grove, the arroyo, and Miner Alley (between Fox Fine Arts, the Sun Bowl parking garage, and Miners, Worrell, and Hudspeth halls). These redesigned spaces will create an appealing campus climate that will enhance student recruitment and retention and knit the campus together into a unique and memorable public landscape. The University has commissioned two award-winning Texas firms to design the projects—San Antonio’s Lake/Flato Architects and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects of Austin.
The University of Texas at El Paso is home to internationally renowned faculty and talented staff. Throughout 2014, they will share their expertise in 100 free community lectures, ten each month from February through November. In October 2011, the campus inaugurated a Centennial Lecture Series that will continue through 2014. Speakers come from a range of backgrounds and bring a range of expertise to bear on issues facing the University in the present and future, including economic opportunity, academic excellence, and the impact of higher education on individual lives and the Paso del Norte region.
Cesar Chavez Border Highway Toll
Since the start of 2014 El Paso drivers have been able to use the city’s first toll lane for free. Starting this weekend El Pasoans will need to pay 40 – 90 cents per trip. These toll lanes are the inner lanes on loop 375 from the Zaragoza port of entry to U.S. 54. The toll cost 40 cents if you are using part of the lane or 90 cents if you are using the entire length of the 8.9 mile lane. If you are a driver who sees yourself using the lane a lot and don’t want to have to worry about having change every morning then you can purchase a pre-paid tag(Toll Tag).
TollTags can be purchased on epexpress.org, via phone at 915-351-8655 and in person at any El Paso ACE Cash Express location. Drivers without a TollTag will be billed every month to the address that their vehicle is registered under. Each bill will be from the past 16 days starting from the first day they started using the toll lane. If a customer sets up an account online then they can download the app for iPhone or android to look at their usage for the month. The addition of these additional toll lanes are a hope for the city to handle the congested traffic our city is heavily facing currently on I-10 and other roads as well.
EL PASO 2014 & BEYOND
2013 was a fantastic year for new development in the city of El Paso. All parts of town saw growth in parks, retail space and entertainment districts. 2014 looks to be an even bigger year for the city.
New Urban Development is gaining speed in the new Montecillo development in west El Paso. With retail space, apartments and an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in the works. Montecillo looks to be a premiere destination for the West side of El Paso and all of town. There are 99 residential units planned for the site which will be incorporated into mixed-use buildings. And 1,165 parking spaces will be spread out among surface lots, parking structures, and on-street parking. Another new shopping district in the works will be at the corner of South Desert Boulevard and Redd Road. This 14.9 acre shopping center is being developed by Centergy Retail of Dallas and is already anticipating a huge population growth in that area of town.
Restaurant development in downtown El Paso is sure to grow strong with the addition of the ballpark. Some places are already popping up like Anson 11. Whether you are in the mood for fine dining or a relaxed business lunch, Anson 11 is a great place to have a fantastic steak or a salad with a specialty cocktail. Sparrows Pizza is another addition downtown that offers great pies and a great selection of spirits and craft beers. If you are looking for some healthier options then The Green ingredient downtown has you covered. New casual dining spot The Green Ingredient in the Chase building offers a great selection of salads and sandwiches with a lot of Vegan options as well. And lets not forget about Craft and Social. Craft and Social is a new drink and eatery slated to open this spring 2014 downtown. A very old school vibe with modern decor. City Council will vote next week on the next phase for San Jacinto Plaza renovation project. This next phase will cost $4.5 million that will pay for additions of a full service cafe, shade structure, a reflection pool, an interactive water feature with splash deck and better seating throughout the plaza. Completion of this project would have to be done no later than 1 year from the contract award to the builder.
The Eastside has not been left out of new restaurant additions. Cabo Joes has expanded their businesses to the far eastside (Zaragoza) as well Steveo’s EAT & DRINK (Lee Trevino) coming east. Steveo’s offers a great selection of craft beers and premium burgers. The Fountains at Farah in East El Paso have really taken off this past holiday season. New businesses like Twin Peaks, TJ MAXX, Nordstrom Rack and Dicks sporting goods have been great new additions to an already flourishing Hawkins shopping district. Cinemas on the eastside are popping up or upgrading to handle the large burst in population in recent years. Premiere Cinemas at Bassett just upgraded their theatres and now provide IMAX shows as well. Cinemark just opened up another theatre on Montana and Joe battle that has over 15 screens itself.
Big in 2013
2013 saw the rise of a new Pope when Pope Benedict opted for a centuries first retirement. His successor came in Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The Argentina born Bergoglio was eventually elected and became Pope Francis. Since February Pope Francis has won over millions of followers with his attention to poverty and progressive social issues. The new Pope definitely clears the wave for modern catholics in what was seen as a controversial pick in the previous Pope Benedict XVI.
Apple added some new additions to its line of already broad products. 2013 saw a new line of iphones in its new 5c series. The 5c finally brought a $99 brand new phone to a new market in demand. 2013 also saw a new line of iPads with the iPad Air. Apple finally gave the public an iPad mini with retina for only $399. With rumors of a TV line, watch and more hand held products apple is looking for an impressive run in 2014.
Juarez is back
2013 saw economic and social growth in Ciudad Juarez. American tourism has doubled in 2013 than from 2012. Juarez is far from the 2008 unsafe view of a lot of residents and tourists. Billboards are flourishing throughout the city in what is appearing to be a rejuvenated city. As an example of the new commerce, there are about 15 new restaurants on the Boulevard Gomez Morin that have reopened in the past year. The image is slowly changing and the city is embracing this positive change. We can only hope is rises to be the tourist destination we all grew up with.
A big science story in 2013 was definitely what we learned about Mars. In 2013 we learned that life could have possibly survived on Mars. Scientists analysis from the Nasa rover discovered that the soil had about 2% water by weight. Talks of Mars exploration/travel were also further in the news with companies wanting to send people there. Mars One made big news with them wanting to send 4 humans to Mars by 2025 to start a colony. The Technology to send these people back does not exist so essentially this would be a one way trip. The Inspiration Mars foundation said it wants to send a man and woman to fly past mars and back in 2018. This mission would be 518 days long and have many people very interested.
El Paso Chihuahuas
El Pasos first Triple-A team is now officially coming to town. The unveiling of the name of the team was big news. To what was initially not welcomed warm by the city has slowly sunk in and the city for the most part has embraced the name Chihuahuas. Aside from the name we will see great economic impact in and around downtown once the stadium is built in April and beyond. 2013 will be the inaugural season for this team and the excitement around town is flourishing. This is just adding to the already steadfast growth in Downtown El Paso.
A QUIET NEW YEAR’S
5 ideas for a ‘just us’ New Year’s celebration
By: Sharon Naylor
With hotels charging several hundred dollars per person for their big New Year’s parties — which can often be loud, boisterous affairs filled with drunken partyers, headache-inducing club music and the need to book a hotel room — many people are deciding to skip the party scene this year and stay home instead.
It might not even be a pricey hotel bash you’re thinking about skipping. It might be a friend’s New Year’s party that would require a drive to his house and perhaps a sleepover so that you could avoid driving drunk and stay off the roads. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that each year, nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunken driving crashes. The risk of sharing the road with a drunken driver is even higher on holidays such as New Year’s because of parties and get-togethers. New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year on our nation’s roadways because of drunken driving. Facing that danger, you’d surely prefer an uncomfortable night’s sleep on a couch.
But again, more people are choosing to just stay home and avoid the hassle — especially if they’ve grown tired of the party scene.
If you’re among those who wish to save their $300 and stay off the roads, you can still make New Year’s a special celebration just for you and your partner, with a new plan — or perhaps the start of a new tradition — to have a “just us” evening. Dressed in comfy clothes, if not your pajamas, rather than in a pricey new outfit and foot-hurting shoes, the two of you can cuddle up on the couch to watch a classic movie or fireworks displays from all over the world. Or you can prepare a romantic dinner just for the two of you, followed by slow dancing in front of your fireplace, Champagne and a sinfully indulgent dessert to share. The quiet may be a big relief. The absence of drunken strangers and the budget-saving aspect of the at-home “just us” plan can make for the perfect evening and perfect welcoming of the new year.
Here are five ideas for your “just us” New Year’s celebration:
–Laura Bianco, event planner at My Bellissima, says that a big trend in party-for-two menu planning is to do a gourmet breakfast for dinner. “Try omelets or paninis filled with eggs, fontina cheese and vegetables, with spicy hash browns and mimosas as a pleasing meal option,” says Bianco. Add in some romantic flair by cooking your breakfast recipe together in the kitchen, with hugs and kisses plentiful as you sip your mimosas or Bellinis and show off your culinary skills to each other.
–Go gourmet. Plan a romantic, table-set dinner — with your fine china and crystal Champagne flutes — and for the price of just one ticket to a hotel ballroom bash, serve lobster, filet mignon, artisanal cheeses for the closing course and other gourmet dishes (See recipes at http://www.omahasteaks.com, and perhaps get a discount on your filet mignons and lobster tails, as well.) Let the Champagne flow as you indulge in five-star menu options that you might not choose throughout the year. Finish with a bakery-bought or self-made chocolate lava cake, chocolate mousse or another rich dessert and your special celebration is complete — for far less than the cost you would pay if you had to feed a houseful of party guests. Shopping at the seafood counter for just the two of you is surprisingly affordable, and some “just us” evening couples say they get excellent price breaks on king crab legs and shrimp at warehouse stores such as Costco.
–Skip the lobsters and just do chocolate. For your “just us” party, you can create an all-chocolate menu of mousses, chocolate crème brulee, truffles and chocolate martinis for a rich buffet of chocolaty treats. Some couples skip the chocolate martinis and make chocolate milkshakes, which are now so trendy that they’re served as dessert shots at weddings. Look up chocolate drink recipes at FoodNetwork.com to see what your favorite television chefs offer as rich dessert drinks.
–Go healthy. Instead of chocolate or crispy-shell fried appetizers like egg rolls or calamari — which you might have had plenty of during the past few weeks of holiday parties — create a fresh and healthy snack buffet. Cut up spears of carrots, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, rounds of cucumber, broccoli flowers and other veggies, and serve them up with a trio of healthy dips. Having a crudité platter all to yourselves can be surprisingly pleasing, fresh and crunchy, and refreshing instead of filling and greasy. Champagne mixed with 100 percent fruit juice adds a dash of color to your toasts to each other, as well.
–Order in, but choose different menu options. If you’re exhausted from all the holiday travel you’ve done and all the parties, you might just want to call your favorite pizza place or Chinese takeout emporium to have your “just us” menu options delivered. If so, consider choosing entirely new menu options than your usual to get more adventurous and perhaps discover a new favorite. “Out with the old and in with the new” is the whole point of New Year’s, and you can keep to the theme with unique takeout orders that let you sit back and relax until your food arrives.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
THE AFTER-CHRISTMAS PARTY
How to enjoy the holidays without the stress
By: Sharon Naylor
The holiday season can be immensely stressful, even though it’s supposed to be a time for light, peace and reflection. For many people, the season requires a crush of holiday travel, speeding through visits with family and financial expenses that strain the household budget — from gifts to plans for entertaining to cooking the big holiday meal. Even attending parties and kids’ school holiday concerts can be anxiety inducing with every day of the week packed with plans and obligations. This revved-up season begins before Thanksgiving in many cases, so it’s weeks upon weeks of stress, rushing and spending.
It’s no wonder that so many people experience higher stress during the holidays, and when you add in poor nutrition from those holiday party menus, as well as lack of sleep from all of the necessary cleaning and gift-wrapping, the holidays can be a marathon of pressure and exhaustion.
One solution to this holiday crush of activity is to move a holiday event to the week after Christmas. It might be your neighborhood “ugly Christmas sweater” party. Or even Christmas dinner itself, with more members of your family able to make it to your house once their travel to in-laws has been achieved the week before. Moving your party to a quieter, calmer, post-frazzle date can let you recharge and actually enjoy your get-together.
Here are some of the top advantages of planning a post-Christmas party:
–You and your guests are less pressured and free of the swirl of daily obligations and activities. With the wave of parties over with, you won’t all be glued to your cellphones, handling the business of travel plans, canceled flights, emails from hosts, and other holiday party and gift business.
–Your kids may be off from school, which means they can help with party crafts, cooking, setting up, and other tasks. These can be made into fun, family shared activities.
–College-aged kids may be home as well, enabling them to see all of the relatives, and also help with your party preparations.
–Your holiday decor is still up and ready for your party guests’ admiration. There’s no exhaustion from last-minute decorating the night before your party, or before your houseguests arrive for the week prior to the party.
–Travel is often much easier for your guests, since they’re not driving on highways filled with party-hopping guests or slow-moving traffic. Flights, too, may be less likely to be delayed with the volume of travelers diminished.
–With 50 to-dos off your list, you’ll have more energy to plan and not be the simmering, resentful host whose negative energy is palpable at the party. Fatigue can do that to you.
–You can use the Christmas gifts you received, such as new wine glasses, a new punch bowl, an espresso maker, a cute holiday-themed cupcake tree, and more party ware.
–You can set out all of those bottles of wine that you received as presents during the holiday season, cutting down on your party beverage needs and expenses.
This new plan might be so popular that it becomes a new tradition, enjoyed by you and by your guests, who all relish the chance to just relax and enjoy everyone’s company. Your party may be seen as a “saving the best for last” get-together.
One quick note that party planner Jenny Orsini suggests: Send out a save the date card or email to each of your guests far in advance of the holidays — at least eight weeks prior to your party — so that your guests can make arrangements to attend and have a great post-holiday event to look forward to. Send out your invitations at least six weeks prior, with an RSVP date of four weeks prior, Orsini says, so that you know how many people you’ll have to cook for, or set a place at the table for, if you’ll need to rent chairs, etc. All of your party details will then be set and secured way in advance, which is far better than fielding RSVPs during the hectic holiday season.
And make the party food easier on yourself by setting up a buffet and several stations around your home so that once the food is out, it’s out. You can certainly heat up a fresh batch and replenish halfway through the party, but a buffet is much less work than serving course after course of a holiday sit-down meal.
And be your own best friend during this event. Let yourself relax and enjoy your guests. Don’t sweat the minor details, and don’t talk about how stressful the holidays were for you. Just enjoy and your guests will, too.
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