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STYLE, ART, CULTURE, + EVENTS OF THE SOUTH VALLEY AUGUST 2017

HOME TOUR

EPICURE

TRAVELER'S TREK

VERBOON HOME

FIESTA MEXICANA

VENICE, ITALY

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22

LOCAL ADVENTURE

HOME TOUR

HIDDEN GEMS OF HANFORD

THE VERBOON HOME Steeped in Hanford History

Main Street Hanford

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With new businesses on the rise, head to downtown Hanford to explore its shops, boutiques, and attractions.

8 Letter from the Executive Editor 10 WordPlay 12 Refl ections of Visalia: The Short and

EPICURE

Flawed Life of Visalia High

FIESTA MEXICANA

20 Modern Finance: Rising Interest Rates—Be Prepared!

Très Bien Tailored Cuisine

38 Traveler’s Trek: Venice—

Chef Elaine Dakessian shows us how to make authentic Latininspired cuisine.

A Visual Symphony 48 Community: Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest

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52 Literary Arts: Monty G. Sands— Turning Tales Into Text 56 Happenings

CHARITY

PRAISEWORTHY NOTES Celebrant Singers Celebrate 40 Years in Visalia

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Visalia’s own Celebrant Singers reach their 40-year anniversary of spreading the gospel through music around the world.

COVER: The Verboon’s backyard is a welcome oasis in the Central Valley’s hot summer heat. TOP: A trickling fountain greets guests as they pull into the Verboon’s driveway.


FUELING FOR THE GREATER GOOD.


Published By

Executive Editor Assistant Editor Creative Director Art Director Senior Designer Web Designer/Designer Contributing Writers

Business Management

Operations Manager Advertising Sales

Sales Office

E-Mail WEBSITE View The Mag Online

DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 Karen Tellalian Kelly Lapadula Greg Bitney Marcie Vagnino Chris Bly Kaci Hansen Elaine Dakessian Diane Slocum Lisa McEwen Jenny Powell Terry L. Ommen Trisha Dean Malkasian Accountancy LLP Gary Malkasian CPA Jeffrey Malkasian EA Maria Gaston Melissa Olson Melissa@DMIAgency.com 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.739.1747 • Fax 559.738.0909 Lifestyle@DMIAgency.com www.VisaliaLifestyle.com Issuu.com/LifestyleMagazine Facebook.com/LifestyleMag Instagram: visalialifestyle

RACK LOCATIONS DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare

Exeter Chamber of Commerce Tazzaria Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center

Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center

COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS 210 Cafe AMCC Arts Consortium Arts Visalia Ashoori & Co. Jewelers Blend WIne Room Bravo Farms Smokehouse Café 225 Chad Clark Hair Salon Charcuterie Chelsea Street Boutique Citizen's Bank CreekSide Day Spa Skin & Laser Center Downtown Visalia Alliance Ed Dena Auto Center, Visalia Exeter Chamber of Commerce

For Such a Time Boutique Franey's Design Center Fugazzis Glick's and Co. ImagineU Children’s Museum Janeen’s Furniture Gallery Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality Max's Cookies Metropolis Day Spa Michael's Custom Jewelry Monét’s, Exeter Pacific Treasures Premier Medical Clinic Renaissance Salon Sage Salon Salon 525

Sherman & Associates Tazz. Coffee The Gardens at Cal Turf The Looking Glass V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Ceramic Tile Visalia First Assembly Visalia Fox Theatre Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Watson's Wildflower Café, Exeter Williams, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc. Wyndham Hotel

Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia. An additional 2,500 copies are distributed at various distribution points around Visalia, Tulare, and Exeter. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers. Circulation of this issue: 15,500 © 2017 DMI Agency

During the 2013 renovation, the Verboons installed a 12-foot-tall waterfall feature in their pool. 6 L I F E S T Y L E | AU G U S T 2 0 1 7


FR O M TH E

EDITOR

H

as everyone finally settled in on the fact that it’s August, and it’s hot? It seems like every year we know it’s coming, and even though we’re ready for warmer weather by about January, we’re always shocked when the extreme heat arrives. Personally, I don’t mind the hotter temperatures, within reason, but I am

what to explore, look for “Hidden Gems of Hanford” inside on page 16. Lifestyle Magazine started reexploring this quaint town to our west after being introduced to Jill and Doug Verboon. The Verboon’s 110-year-old Hanford home has been in their family for nearly 70 years, so to keep their family and community

Our downtown shopping and dining experiences in Visalia are pretty amazing, and we’ve often commented on how one would never have a reason to go anywhere else. But, we also love our neighboring communities, and this issue highlights a short hop over to Hanford. E X E C U T I V E

E D I T O R

K A R E N

T E L L A L I A N

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT A STORY IDEA, CONTACT ME AT KAREN@DMIAGENCY.COM

sure for some of you, winter is looking pretty good right about now. Hang on. It’s coming. Our downtown shopping and dining experiences in Visalia are pretty amazing, and we’ve often commented on how one would never have a reason to go anywhere else. But, we also love our neighboring communities, and this issue highlights a short hop over to Hanford. There is a very good chance that you have ventured to Hanford for at least one thing—the infamous Superior Dairy ice cream. Next time you’re in Hanford fueling up on a gigantic ice cream cone or banana split, take a little extra time to roam about the area. For ideas on where to go and

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history alive, they recently went to great lengths to preserve the home’s original, yet subtle, Asian-influenced design. For more on this beautifully restored home, see “Steeped in Hanford History” on page 22. As summer vacation comes to a close, we hope everyone had the time and opportunity for respite and has come back refreshed. If you’re still trying to find your way up to our beautiful Sequoias, we have a public service announcement, especially for our 62-year-old and over friends: remember to get your National Park Service Lifetime Pass for $10 before the pricing increases to $80 on Aug. 28. You can find out more at www.nps.gov.


Your Home. Your Look.

559.625.8884 220 W. Main St., Visalia www.janeensfurniture.com


T E X T

B Y

D I A N E

S L O C U M

WO R D PLAY News on writing, books + the world of publishing

W

ith Visalia’s schools underway already, and many others gearing up to start, here’s hoping the students have a better year than those in several debut novels. In If We Were Villains (Flatiron Books, April) by M.L. Rio, the seven students who have survived the cut into their fourth-year at a classical conservancy fall into their familiar Shakespearian roles both on and off stage. As life imitates art, they find themselves living a tragedy, wondering whether any of them can survive the shocking loss and if they have now all been cast as villains. In Born on a Tuesday (Grove Press, May 2016) by Elnathan John, Dantala escapes from the political violence of a Nigerian street gang to the sheltering arms of a kindly sheik who runs a mosque and a school. There he meets an intriguing girl and befriends another young boy who, like Dantala, is an eager student and a quick learner. Their peaceful schooling begins to unravel as Dantala discovers violent jihadists on the school staff.

Kenneth Chacon went from being a Northside Fresno Bulldog gang member to being an instructor at Fresno City College who wants to help others in need, as his mentors did for him. His book, The Cholo Who Said Nothing and Other Poems, published this year, takes him from poems written during his drug-filled gang days into his spiritual redemption. His poems have also appeared in the San Joaquin Review, Cimmaron Review, Poetry Quarterly, Border Senses, and others. His work has been praised by Central Valley poets Tim Z. Hernandez, Lee Herrick, and Corrinne Clegg.

WRITERS’ CONFERENCES A Weekend for Words, sponsored by the Southern California Writers’ Conference, will be held Sept. 22-24. This conference is specifically tailored to provide comprehensive feedback for the attendees. The conference has facilitated more than $4 million worth of first-time authors’ deals since it began in 1986. The conference is limited to 150 attendees. Special speakers include Kelly Abbott, Greta Boris, and Michelle Stevens. Full conference fee is $425. Details at: writersconference.com/la.

VALLEY WRITERS Poems by Fresnan Jennifer Fenn have been published in at least 15 different journals including Song of the San Joaquin, The Poeming Pigeon, Brevities, DAD’S DESK, and The Homestead Review. You can read some of her poems that appeared on Medusa’s Kitchen here: medusaskitchen.blogspot. com/2017/01/becoming-river.html. Her poem from the video documentary “Homeless in Modesto” appears on the website at: modestocahomelessdocumentary. org/jennifer-fenn. She also has two self-published chapbooks—Blessings and Song of the Katabatic Wind. Jennifer is a graduate of Edison High School and California State University, Fresno. She teaches at CSUF. 10 L I F E S T Y L E | AU G U S T 2 0 1 7

howard-margaret-reid-poetry-contest. The entry period for Persea Books’ Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize is from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. The contest is open to women who have not published a full-length book of poems and are U.S. citizens or live in the U.S. The winner receives $1,000 and publication, along with an all-expense paid residency at the Civitella Ranien Center in a fifteenth-century castle in Umbertide, Italy. This year’s winner is Emily Van Kiey for her collection, The Cold and the Rust Smell. Details at: perseabooks.com/poetryprize.php.

TULARE COUNTY LIBRARY WRITING CONTESTS The deadline for the Tom Howard/ Margaret Reid Poetry Contest is Sept. 30. The Tom Howard contest accepts poems in any style or genre. The Margaret Reid contest requires a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. The prize for each contest is $1,500. Ten poems will receive honorable mention awards of $100. All 12 winners will be published online by Winning Writers. Length is limited to 250 lines. Entry fee is $12 per poem. Details and submissions at: winningwriters.com/our-contests/tom-

The Friends of the Library are sponsoring a “Meet the Author” event on Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. in the Visalia Branch Blue Room. Check on the library’s website at tclnews.blogspot.com for more information. The visiting author on July 8 was Anna Marie McLemore. THE LAST WORD “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)


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THE SHORT AND FLAWED LIFE OF

VISALIA HIGH

F

rom the outside, the new Visalia High School building was a real beauty. Its architecture and the park setting in which it was located seemed to make the institution an impressive asset for the town. But outward appearances can be deceiving, and little did anyone realize that the two-story brick building was a deathtrap. So how did this happen? The tragic life of the Visalia High School really had its start with the previous school. Built in 1891 on the northwest corner of Locust and Oak Streets, the public school known as the Tipton Lindsey School provided education to all grades from grammar through high school. As

the number of students increased, so did the need for more space. School officials began to consider building a separate structure only for high schoolers. But economically, times were tough during the early to mid-1890s, so finding the funds was a challenge. In 1896, the Visalia Common Council (now called City Council) decided a bond measure was the answer. On April 24, 1896, a successful special election gave city officials the $10,000 they requested. So with the money approved, plans for the new high school moved forward. Local architect Arthur E. Saunders drew up the building plans and Hanford contractors Sharples T EXT

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BY

TE R RY

L .

& Lindgren were chosen to build. A completion date of Oct. 15, 1896 was set. The location for the high school was an important consideration for city officials, so they selected the oval shaped park at the north end of Court Street. As it was the main entrance to town from the north, they believed a nice new building would be a pleasant view for visitors. Before construction began, city officials and Saunders actually walked the park grounds and identified the exact location for the placement of the building. They wanted the school to be in perfect alignment with Court Street, allowing it to be clearly seen from Main Street. Construction began in July, and

O MME N

Visalia High as it appeared in about 1910.


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the crowded high school students at Tipton Lindsey shared their excitement and anticipation. They wrote, “But we can endure this for a short time considering the fact that we will soon be installed in a new, handsome, and roomy building, our new high school.” Construction moved forward but due to delays, it became clear the October deadline would not be met. And more delays followed. On the morning of Oct. 12, dissatisfied workers went on strike. According to the Visalia Daily Times, “Some of the bricklayers struck for higher wages,” and a shorter workday. Several workers stayed off the job as a result, which slowed down the project. Then a carpenter named F. E. Brittain fell from the scaffolding at the building, breaking his collarbone and arm, and cutting his head. His injuries were serious, but he survived. A week later the project was jolted again by an accident. Contractor Sharples and worker William Gill were near the top of the building when they mistakenly leaned against a drying brick wall and it collapsed. The two men fell 38 feet, with bricks and mortar landing on top of them. Despite the delays and mishaps, the many building activities like shingling, plastering, tinning, and plumbing progressed. On Dec. 18, the high school students shared the good news: “Our new building is receiving the final touches and will be ready for us after the holidays.” By mid-January 1897, the high school was finished and plans were made to move the students into the building. On Jan. 18, the Times, in an obviously muted compliment, commented on the finished school, “The new high school building is a credit to the city. It might have been better, but for the

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money available, it is not likely that it could be improved upon.” The city officially accepted the building. Throughout the year, the building was scrutinized carefully and many construction flaws were noted. Concern was so great that city officials hired George B. Campbell, a well-respected

contractor, to inspect the building. In his report on Nov. 27, 1897, he laid out a list of construction flaws and recommendations for remedy. It was clear Campbell had found serious problems with the building. After his critical report, the Times publicly asked the question, “Where is architect Saunders in all of this?” After all, they pointed out, he drew the plans and was paid to see that the contractors did their jobs. It was clear the newspaper placed responsibility for the problem building on Saunders.

Under intense criticism, Saunders admitted the building had “minor” flaws and offered to fix them, but no one wanted him to touch the building again. Obviously concerned about the safety of the students, Principal Woolsey gathered them on the morning of Nov. 30 and marched them over to their old classrooms at the Tipton Lindsey School. He could not take a chance with the defective building. City officials called in another structural expert from San Francisco. His report confirmed earlier defects and work began on the fixes. By Dec. 20 the high school students were seeing progress. They wrote, “We may rejoice over the fact that work had commenced on the condemned school building and in a week or so we may have the pleasure of…marching back to our deserted desks.” The repairs were made, and the students returned to the high school. It is not clear how Saunders fared in the controversy, but it is clear that structural problems continued with the beleaguered building. The Visalia High School stayed at the oval park until 1911, then moved to the new school built where Redwood High School is today. When the high school students vacated the oval park building, grammar school students took it over and the building name was changed to Lincoln Grammar School. In 1924, the 28-yearold building had gone through enough. It was razed leaving the plot of land which remains today as Lincoln Oval Park.

TOP: The Tipton Lindsey School on the northwest corner of Locust and Oak as it appeared in about 1910. Prior to the construction of the new high school, students attended class on the third floor of this building. BOTTOM: A group of unidentified students on the front steps of the new Visalia High School, circa 1907.


OF

HANFORD 16

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The iconic 1939 Allan Herschell Carousel in Hanford. Photo provided by Main Street Hanford.


LOCAL ADVENTURE

Lush Wine & Beer Bar in Hanford near the Fox Theatre.

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hile just about everyone in the Central Valley knows that Hanford is the place to go for delicious ice cream at Superior Dairy, there are plenty of additional reasons to make a stop in and around downtown Hanford. In the last few years, Hanford has seen an increase in new small businesses, especially along their Main Street area. From coffee and tea shops to boutiques and specialty item stores, visitors can easily make a day of exploring what Hanford has to offer. Much of this new growth is thanks to the nonprofit organization Main Street Hanford, which works closely with businesses to revitalize and promote downtown Hanford as a shopping, dining, and touring destination. “We are very proud of our historic buildings, small boutique shops, beautiful Civic Park, the Carnegie Museum, the historic Fox Theatre, our fabulous carousel, and of course, Superior Dairy,” said Shelly Johnson, executive director of Main

Street Hanford. “Using our ‘Four-Point Approach,’ we are able to provide a large number of activities (more than 26 events each year!), inviting visitors and locals to enjoy, shop, and discover downtown Hanford.” For those who would like to learn

LOCAL ADVENTURE

more, Main Street Hanford recently launched an app through “distrx,” which focuses on shopping, dining, events, and activities in the downtown area. Because of this new app and the recent

Downtown Hanford’s walkable streets. Photo provided by Main Street Hanford.

momentum behind downtown’s growth, Main Street Hanford is encouraged and excited for current businesses to thrive while new businesses come to town. “Downtowns thrive on entrepreneurship, and downtown Hanford is no exception,” said Shelly. “We have seen a large number of new businesses open within the last two years… we are actively recruiting new businesses and work with potential business owners to assist them in any way that we can.” If you’re wondering where to start on your next Hanford visit, consider stopping in at some of theses hidden Hanford gems. One Eleven Coffee Shop. A modern and comfortable vibe welcomes guests to this trendy new coffee shop in downtown Hanford. One Eleven is a project of a Koinonia Church as a way to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown. One Eleven’s coffee is primarily sourced form Lanna Coffee Co., a roaster in Fresno that works closely with impoverished farmers in

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the mountains of Thailand. This means every cup of coffee helps people half way across the world. For more information, visit oneeleven.coffee. Hanford Carousel. As an iconic Hanford gem, this 1939 Allan Herschell Carousel has been a local and visitor favorite since the late ‘70s. It’s one of approximately 200 surviving and currently operating classic wooden carousels from the art deco time period. Operated by the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, visitors can typically ride the carousel on Saturdays and Sundays between 12 and 4 p.m. at the cost of just $1 per ride. For more information, call 582-0483. Porches Garden Shop. A welcoming oasis in the midst of the Central Valley heat, this quaint garden shop features luscious plants, succulents, home décor, artisan gifts, antiques, and unique objects from near and far. As your peruse the shop, you’ll find beautiful designs for the interior and exterior of your home. For more information, call 530-3921. Lush Wine & Beer Bar. If you’re looking for a refreshing drink after a day of exploring Hanford, stop in LOCAL ADVENTURE

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at Lush Wine & Beer Bar right next to the Hanford Fox Theatre. With more than 100 wines by the bottle, wines by the glass, and rotating beer taps, this spot has a little something for everyone. The bar also hosts live entertainment every Saturday, featuring local artists and musicians. For more information, visit lushfinewines.com. Divine Creations Floral. This lovely new storefront is more than just a flower shop. While their artists create beautiful and unique floral arrangements for every occasion, they are also the perfect setting for intimate events and gatherings. For more information, call 587-5511. L.T. Sue Tea Room. With more than 100 different loose-leaf teas to choose from, L.T. Sue Tea Room provides the finest quality teas from around the world, right here in the San Joaquin Valley. Located in Hanford’s historic China Alley, guests can relax and enjoy a cup in their tearoom or take loose-leaf tea home to enjoy later. The shop also provides small culinary bites with specials that change daily. For more information, visit ltsue.com. The Soaking Tub. This quaint shop in downtown Hanford sells quality

handmade products including skin care, clothing, gifts, and home décor. They also offer a fragrance bar where guests can customize their own fragrance combinations. Keep an eye out for specialty classes to learn how to make a variety of their skin care products, like bath bombs, sugar scrubs, body butters, and soaps. For more information, call 410-8416. Thursday Night Marketplace. Everything Thursday night during the spring and summer season, 3,000 people head to downtown for Main Street Hanford’s Thursday Night Marketplace. This family-friendly farmers market features more than 100 vendors, live music, a wine and beer garden, and plenty of activities for the kids. For more information, visit mainstreethanford.com Sweet Palette Bakery. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, caramel apples, pies, pastries, oh my! Sweet Palette Bakery can make just about anything sweet you can imagine. Stop by their bakery to indulge in a few treats from their counter, or order in a specialty dessert for your next event or gathering. You won’t regret it! For more information, call 530-3001.

One Eleven Coffee Shop is a project of Koinonia Church. Photo by Joshua J. Cordero.


R I S I N G

I N T E R E S T

R AT E S

BE PREPARED!

Y

ou've probably heard the news that the Federal Reserve has been raising its benchmark federal funds rate. The Fed doesn't directly control consumer interest rates, but changes to the federal funds rate (which is the rate banks use to lend funds to each other overnight within the Federal Reserve system) often affect consumer-borrowing costs. Forms of consumer credit that charge variable interest rates are especially vulnerable, including adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), most FINANCE credit cards, and certain private student loans. Variable interest rates are often tied to a benchmark (an index) such as the U.S. prime rate or the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which typically goes up when the federal funds rate increases. Although nothing is certain, the Fed expects to raise the federal funds rate by small increments over the next several years. However, you still have time to act before any interest rate hikes significantly affect your finances. ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGES (ARMS) If you have an ARM, your interest rate and monthly payment may adjust at certain intervals. For example, if you have a 5/1 ARM, your initial interest rate is fixed for five years, but then can change every year if the underlying index goes up or down. Your loan documents will spell out which index your ARM tracks, the date your interest rate and payment may adjust, and by how much. ARM rates and payments have caps that limit the amount by

which interest rates and payments can change over time. Refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage could be an option if you're concerned about steadily climbing interest rates, but this may not be cost-effective if you plan to sell your home before the interest rate adjusts. CREDIT CARDS It's always a good idea to keep credit card debt in check, but it's especially

have a little time to reduce or pay off your balance. If it's not possible to pay off your credit card debt quickly, you may want to look for alternatives. One option is to transfer your balance to a card that offers a 0 percent promotional rate for a set period of time (such as 18 months). But watch out for transaction fees, and find out what APR applies after the promotional rate term expires, in case a balance remains. VARIABLE RATE STUDENT LOANS

important when interest rates are trending upward. Many credit cards have variable annual percentage rates (APRs) that are tied to an index (typically the prime rate). When the prime rate goes up, the card's APR will also increase. Check your credit card statement to see what APR you're currently paying. If you're carrying a balance, how much is your monthly finance charge? Your credit card issuer must give you written notice at least 45 days in advance of any rate change, so you

Interest rates on federal student loans are always fixed (and so is the monthly payment). But if you have a variable rate student loan from a private lender, the size of your monthly payment may increase as the federal funds rate rises, potentially putting a dent in your budget. Variable student loan interest rates are generally pegged to the prime rate or the LIBOR. Because repayment occurs over a number of years, multiple rate hikes for variable rate loans could significantly affect the amount you'll need to repay. Review your loan documents to find out how the interest rate is calculated, how often your payment might adjust, and whether the interest rate is capped. Because interest rates are generally lower for variable rate loans, your monthly payment may be manageable, and you may be able to handle fluctuations. However, if your repayment term is long and you want to lock in your payment, you may consider refinancing into a fixed rate loan. Make sure to carefully compare the costs and benefits of each option before refinancing.

*NCHS Data Brief, Number 267, December 2016. Presented by Penney R. Sick, Registered Principal & Jenny M. Powell, CFP® with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Visalia, CA. 303 E. Caldwell Ave. Visalia, CA 93277 | (559)429-4270. www.raymondjames.com/visalia Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards,Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the US. ©2017 Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017.

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Happy to be celebrating 2 years in Visalia

Thank you to the community for your continued support and trust 1214 E MAIN ST., VISALIA | 733-9600 | WWW.EDDENASVISALIA.COM

You gotta go to Ed's!


STEEPED IN

HANFORD

THE VERBOON HOME

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P H O T O S

B Y

D A N N Y

K L O R M A N

P H O T O G R A P H Y

HISTORY

From the expanded entrance, guests are greeted by a new seating area, a large remodeled kitchen, and the historic living room to the left.

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HOME TOUR

W

hen it comes to the innovations and technologies of our culture, there is always something new and exciting to be celebrated. At times, however, our modern mentality of “out with the old, in with the new” can overshadow the positive aspects of the past. In the midst of our material pursuit, it’s important to remember how we got here and where we’re going. One Hanford family has found the perfect balance as they recently restored their 110-year-old family home, bringing together the best of the past and the promise of the future. The century-old home’s revival is all thanks to the Verboon family, who has had four generations of family members under its roof over the last 70 years. Even in the midst of extreme termite damage and years of natural deterioration, Jill and Doug Verboon were determined to bring it back to life as an ode to Doug’s grandparents and as a nod to the future. “This house has been in Doug’s family for a long time, and basically, 24 L I F E S T Y L E | AU G U S T 2 0 1 7

we did the remodel to pay homage to them,” said Jill. “They took care of it and were always here for us, so it was like, you have to leave a legacy for your family too…we wanted to take care of it and not just rip it down.” Doug, who is the District 3 Supervisor in Kings County, and his wife Jill moved into the home in 1987 after his grandparents moved out. As a child, Doug has countless memories visiting his grandparents in the home to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. He also grew up helping his family out on the property’s farm, which was and still is called Gold Top Ranch. Today, Doug considers it a privilege to live in the home, where he and Jill raised their four children. “I told my grandma, ‘I am going to live here one day,’” explained Doug. “My grandparents wanted me to live here, and it was really important for them to have me continue the ranch and keep it together. I’m very honored to carry that on.” While the Verboons started gathering ideas for the renovation in 2006,

they didn’t pull the trigger until 2013. Any later, and the house might have literally started to crumble. Once the construction crew began tearing down walls to make way for the expansion, they uncovered major termite damage. “We had no idea we had termites, but only found them when we started the remodel,” said Doug. “When they took all of the walls down, there was no wood left.” There was one point during the renovation when both Doug and Jill thought they couldn’t salvage what was left of the house. “When the renovation started, I thought, ‘we messed up…we’re never going to have the house again.’ One wall was falling off the foundation, and that wall over there was rotten,” said Doug, pointing to a wall in his kitchen. “It was bad, so we had to do it or we would have had nothing. But nine months later, our builder was finished, and it’s better than ever.” One aspect of the renovation that was important to the Verboons was maintaining a consistent look throughout

The dining room was added to the home during the 2013 renovation.


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HOME TOUR

The wine room just off the kitchen displays a piece of a 100-year-old walnut tree from their ranch.

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The downstairs master bathroom features an expansive tub, a double vanity, and a double-sided fireplace.

Pizano’s Wood Fired Pizza in downtown Visalia.


During the renovation, the Verboons gutted the entire kitchen, installed new cabinets and counter tops, and added a 6-by-12 foot island.

the entire house, especially when it came to preserving the subtle Asian-influenced design in the original living room. “Everything downstairs went except that living room because it was the only piece of the house that was original to the 1906 build,” said Jill. “Because our living room is so big and beautiful, we wanted to make sure everything flowed with that and kept the same angles. We didn’t want guests who walked into the house to say, ‘Oh wow, I can tell exactly where you added on.’” With the help and vision of their builder Jay Paulson at Jay’s Construction, they were able to bring the unique lines and angles from the living room into the kitchen and throughout the add-on so that it looked like the original landscape of the house. In addition to the kitchen remodel, the Verboons built a larger entryway, wine room, dining room, office, and a downstairs master bedroom with a full master bath. Their home went from having three bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom downstairs to four bedrooms and three bathrooms throughout. “Our builder did a great job,” said Jill. “There are very few small changes I would make, but the fact that he could take that living room and those lines and make it happen all the way through is a miracle.” In fact, the same Asianinfluenced architecture that makes the Verboon home unique is found throughout several other buildings and homes in Hanford. It is believed that the architect who designed the home in the early 1900s also designed the structure that housed the old Imperial Dynasty restaurant in China Alley, as well as a house on Redington Street in Hanford, which is now home to Adair and Evans Accounting. “If you were to go inside Imperial Dynasty, all the straight

angles and architecture is almost identical to our house. It obviously has a lot more Asian influence, but it’s very similar,” said Jill. Doug added, “That’s why when we did the remodel, we didn’t want to lose the corners and the beams.” Back in 1906, the Verboon home was originally built for a newlywed couple with the last name Morgan. While some of the home’s history is unclear during that time, it’s known that the couple did not live there long, and the property was eventually transformed into a Chinese labor camp for the nearby railroad. When Doug’s grandparents bought the ranch in 1948, the land was all wine grapes and some walnut trees. His grandfather took out the grapes in 1949, flattened the land, purchased some more property, and farmed corn, cotton, and grain. And thus, at 159 acres, the original Gold Top Ranch was born. “I grew up farming out here with my grandfather and my dad,” said Doug. “I’ve always farmed. I was chopping cotton when I was eight years old and I was still chopping cotton at 45.” Today, Doug farms 187 acres of walnuts on the ranch, owns a commercial property shopping center in Lemoore, and is about to start his eighth year as District 3 Supervisor of Kings County. Between these three jobs and the couple’s community involvement, Doug and Jill maintain very busy lives. But full schedules don’t stop them from doing what they love to do most: entertain friends and family in their newly remodeled kitchen. As an avid cook, one of Jill’s must-haves was a large kitchen that could fit a lot of people, a lot of food, and even more fun. In redesigning the kitchen, they installed a 6-by-12 foot island equipped with a warming drawer for keeping food fresh and readyto-go throughout the night. “We’re always having people

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HOME TOUR

The architecture of the original 1906 living room was the inspiration for the remodeled portion of the home.

over and everyone hangs out in the kitchen, so we wanted a big kitchen. We put tons of food around here and it’s full of people all the time. Once, I even caught one of our friends sneaking meat out of the warming drawer,” laughed Doug. For the kitchen’s design, the edges of the island and the wet bar were inspired by the balcony in the living room. The additional layer to the tops of the beech wood cabinets were also designed with the living room in mind. One of Jill’s favorite finds for the kitchen was the granite for the countertops. Years before the remodel, Doug and Jill were hiking near Grant Grove when they came across a riverbed with the perfect granite. “I took a picture of the bottom of the river and said, ‘that’s the kind of counter tops I want.’ This here looks almost identical to it,” said Jill. “When we were shopping for the granite, we probably spent only 15 minutes picking it out.” When it comes to the décor of their home, Doug and Jill aimed for

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a comfortable and welcoming look, with just a touch of old-world charm. “For me, I like things that bring the outdoors in,” said Jill. “Anything that looks earthy. I want everyone who comes in to feel comfortable and

cozy so they can enjoy themselves.” The Verboon’s backyard is also a testament to their love for the outdoors. With plenty of space for guests to relax by the pool, the backyard is a welcoming oasis in the midst of the valley’s extreme summer heat. But the backyard wasn’t always that way.

Doug’s grandpa believed in using every square-inch of property for farming, so he would grow cotton right up to the front steps of the house. When Doug and Jill first moved in, the only thing separating the pool from the ranch was an ivy-covered fence. Over the years, Doug slowly but surely expanded the front and back yards. “My grandpa was the kind of guy where he would be a little upset with us when we changed something about the house or added to the backyard, but then he’d go and brag about it to his friends,” laughed Doug. “It was kind of cool.” During the 2013 renovation, and with the help of Creative Landscaping, Doug extended the backyard even further to include a beautiful garden with a creek, a 12-foot waterfall by the pool, and a lawn for entertaining guests. As a county supervisor, Doug and Jill have hosted large events with up to 200 people in their yard. Their home was also featured on several home tours, including a Christmas Home Tour and

INSET: The original staircase leads to three more bedrooms and a bathroom.


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HOME TOUR

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Other than a minor facelift during the 2013 renovation, the pool is original to its 1950s build.


The 12-foot-tall waterfall was constructed as a means to drown out the sound from the traffic going by their home.

the Hanford Garden Club Tour. While Doug says his grandpa might have put up a playful fight about the renovation, he knows he would be proud if he could see the finished product today. Thankfully, his grandmother was able to see the house in its early renovation stages. “She was thrilled that we were extending the home’s life,” said Jill. Doug added, “She really wanted to see the end of it. She was so proud.

She’d come out during construction and would tell all of her friends at her senior living home about it.” While some people might have thrown up their hands when facing a renovation of this magnitude, Doug and Jill had their hearts set on bringing it back to life. Not only did they restore their family home for future generations, but they also preserved a piece of Hanford history while honoring their grandparent’s legacy.

The Verboons display the original “Gold Top Ranch” sign in their backyard, which had previously hung on a post in their front yard since 1948.

“We’re very thankful to be in this house and to have what we have, and we love our little town here in Hanford,” said Jill. “It’s all about where you grow up and what your roots are. It’s a family home, and hopefully someday one of our children will want to live here too.” Doug added, “We wouldn’t be here in this house if it weren’t for my grandparents. We feel their presence all the time.”

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mexicana FIESTA

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iving in the Central Valley, there’s an abundance of delicious Mexican food around every corner. Whether you prefer to indulge in a favorite local taco shop or an old family recipe, there’s something special about gathering around authentic Latin cuisine. Chef Elaine Dakessian of Très Bien Tailored Cuisine is an expert when it comes to crafting creative and inspiring fare, so we’re always excited to see what she has planned for Lifestyle. This month, Chef Elaine presents several Latininspired dishes, including a spicy Caesar salad with a unique crunch, pork belly flatbread pizza, pasilla roasted corn tamales with salsa verde, and for dessert, delectable churro cream puffs. All we can say is…esta excelente!

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D A K E S S I A N ,

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PASILLA ROASTED CORN AND GOAT CHEESE TAMALES If you wish to make the tamale dough from scratch, you can use the recipe below (dough recipe from Food & Wine) or you can also purchase freshly made dough daily from Vallarta’s. Makes about 8 large tamales or 16 cocktail size. TAMALE DOUGH INGREDIENTS 3-1/2 C masa harina for tamales (20 oz) 3 C very hot water 1/2 lb lard 5 T unsalted butter, softened 2 tsp salt 1-1/2 tsp baking power 1 C chicken stock Tamale cornhusks, soaked in water for 30 minutes DIRECTIONS In a large bowl, stir the masa with the hot water until evenly moistened. Knead several times to make a smooth dough. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the lard with the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and baking powder and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated. With the machine on, add the masa in 4 batches, beating until smooth and scraping down the bowl occasionally. Pour in the stock in a steady stream and beat until the dough is fluffy and soft, about 2 minutes; it should have the consistency of thick corn bread batter. Refrigerate the tamale dough in the bowl for 30 minutes. TAMALE FILLING INGREDIENTS 4 corn on the cob, grilled and corn cut off the cob 4 pasilla peppers, charred and peeled, cut into strips Goat cheese

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SALSA VERDE INGREDIENTS 12 medium tomatillos, about one pound, husked, rinsed, and chopped 1/2 C chicken stock 2 garlic cloves, chopped 2 jalapeĂąos, seeded and chopped 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp fresh lime juice 1/2 C cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper For the salsa verde, blend all ingredients until smooth. ASSEMBLE AND COOK Drain the cornhusks and pat dry. Tear 12 strips, 1/6-inch wide, from 2 of the huskers for tying the tamales. Place 2 husks together with the large ends overlapping by 2 inches for larger tamales or use a single husk for cocktail size. Repeat with the remaining husks. Divide the tamale dough evenly among the double husks or single as desired, and spread in the center, leaving 1 inch at each end uncovered. Place the corn, pasilla pepper, and goat cheese on top of the dough, fold up the one end at the bottom and then roll the corn husks so the filling is completely enclosed. Take a strip and tie around the bottom to secure, leaving the top open. Steam the tamales in a conventional steamer or in a strainer or vegetable basket set in a saucepan and covered with a tight-fitting lid. It is important that little or no steam escapes while cooking. Steam for 30 to 35 minutes; the water should always be lightly boiling. The tamales are done when the dough comes away easily from the husk. Place tamales on plate and slice them from end-to-end with a knife. Push the ends together as you would a baked potato. Dollop with additional goat cheese and salsa verde.

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PORK BELLY FLATBREAD WITH CILANTRO OIL AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

CILANTRO OIL INGREDIENTS

Pork belly, recipe below Caramelized onions, recipe below Flatbreads, use favorite recipe or pre-made Cilantro oil, recipe below 1-1/2 C Oaxaca cheese, pulled apart into pieces Olive oil Salt 4 T Mexican crema, to garnish Cilantro, to garnish

Prep the pork belly early in the day. Mix all ingredients and rub over the pork belly. Put in oven at 250 degrees, approximately 4 hours or until tender. Remove and cut into cubes. Turn oven on to 400 degrees and roast the cubes to brown them, about 8 minutes.

1/2 C olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 C tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves Salt and freshly ground black pepper

PORK BELLY INGREDIENTS 2 lb pork belly, prep ahead of time 1 T ground cumin 1 T ground coriander 1 T ground chili powder 1 T each, salt and pepper 1 C brown sugar

CARAMELIZED ONIONS INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS Combine the oil, garlic, and cilantro in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

2 T unsalted butter 2 T olive oil 3 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced DIRECTIONS Combine the butter and oil in a large sautĂŠ pan over medium heat until melted. Add the onions and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.

BAKE AND ASSEMBLE Follow your favorite pizza dough recipe for baking or use pre-made flatbreads. If baking your own dough, follow your recipe as instructed before assembling each flatbread. Once the flatbread dough is removed from the oven, divide the Oaxaca cheese, caramelized onions, and pork belly over the top of each flatbread and bake again at 400 degrees until the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Leave on the baking sheet while you assemble. If using pre-made flatbreads, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake on a sheet pan for 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly brown. Sprinkle with caramelized onions, spread cheese around, top with pork belly, and bake in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is melted and the flatbread is golden brown. Finish the flatbread with the cilantro oil (I use a squeeze bottle and liberally sprinkle around). Top with cilantro leaves and drizzle with Mexican crema. 34 L I F E S T Y L E | AU G U S T 2 0 1 7


NOT-SO-TRADITIONAL CHURROS CHURRO INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

1 C water 2 T vegetable oil 2-1/2 T white sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 C all-purpose flour 2 qt oil for frying 1/2 C sugar 1 T cinnamon

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball. Heat oil for frying in a deep fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees. Form small rounds with the dough, 1/4-inch thick. Fry until golden; drain on paper towels and set aside. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar.

PASTRY CREAM INGREDIENTS 1 C heavy cream 2 T chili powder 1/4 C powdered sugar DIRECTIONS Beat heavy cream, chili powder, and powdered sugar in medium bowl until fluffy. Place fluffy cream between two churro rounds.

CHOCOLATE SAUCE INGREDIENTS 1/2 C cocoa powder 1/2 C sugar 1 tsp chili powder 3 to 4 T water DIRECTIONS Add water to dry ingredients to get desired consistency. Drizzle over the churros.

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SERRANO CAESAR SALAD WITH POLENTA CROUTONS INGREDIENTS 3 heads baby romaine, whole leaf, cut in half lengthwise 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced 1/2 tsp cayenne powder 1-1/2 tsp salt 2-2/3 C milk 1-1/2 C yellow cornmeal 6 C peanut oil

DIRECTIONS In a saucepan, combine the serranos, cayenne, and salt to the milk and bring to a boil. Slowly add 1 cup of the cornmeal while stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan lined with plastic wrap. Place uncovered in the refrigerator to cool. Remove from the pan and dice into 1/2 inch polenta cubes. In a medium saucepan, heat the peanut oil to 350 degrees. Dredge the polenta cubes in the remaining 1/2 cup of cornmeal. Fry the croutons in the peanut oil until crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and keep warm.

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SERRANO CAESAR DRESSING INGREDIENTS 1 C mayonnaise 2-3 serrano chiles, seeded and diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 small anchovies, drained and chopped (or 2 squeezes anchovy paste from a tube) 2 T Italian parsley, chopped Juice of one lemon 1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire 1 tsp white wine vinegar 1/3 C grated Cotija cheese, to garnish 1/2 tsp salt Freshly grated black pepper DIRECTIONS Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until blended. Top with Cotija cheese.


TRAVELER’S

TREK

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The church façade


A gondola ride on an early Sunday morning.

VENICE

A VISUAL SYMPHONY

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enice, Italy: a visual symphony that dances through the ages like the waves of water in the Grand Canal. Great art can inspire us and even change the way we see the world. Venice, she is a great work of art that has transformed how I view the world and inspired countless other artists, writers, poets, and musicians to rethink what we call life. My first trip to Venice took place in Dec. 2004, and I have made eight trips since then, experiencing all four seasons, each with its own beauty and personality. Venice is made up of 118 islands that are connected by bridges in a shallow lagoon. There are no cars, so people either walk or take the water bus (vaporetto) to get around. Off of the main

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canal there are countless smaller canals that wind in and around the island like a maze, creating the sensation of a living entity. Since walking is the main mode of transportation in Venice, people are constantly interacting with each other, unlike those of us who live in a culture of automobiles. This face-to-face interaction makes Venetians truly the friendliest people I have ever encountered. They love to say hello, or 'ciao,' to everyone they know, and they don't just say 'ciao' once; they repeat it, almost like a song, to emphasize how happy they are to see that person. The population of Venice is around 55,000, but the number of tourist that visit each year is somewhere around 50 million. Needless to say, tourism is one of

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RIGHT: A Bosch painting at the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

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the main industries of Venice. The upside to this is that it is tourist-friendly and most Venetians speak English to cater to their worldly guests. The bad news is, however, if you go during the summer, which is the height of its tourist season, Venice is tightly packed with people from all over the world. But even during the height of the tourist season, there are areas that are quiet, once you get away from San Marco square. Venice is cold in the winter, sometimes dipping into the 20s and freezing the water in the canals. Fog often rolls in, but the stillness creates a silence like time has stopped, with the sun becoming a mere speck of light in the sky that filters through like a pinhole camera, illuminating a timeless wonder. I have also visited Venice in the fall and spring, and each season has a unique quality to it, making it—in my opinion— the most beautiful city in the world. The history of Venice goes back to the 10th century, but the 14th to 18th centuries are most evident in the architecture, when Venice was the center of the world for trade, spices,

and banking. With four story palazzos (palaces) lining the Grand Canal, the architecture is a feast for the eyes. The lancet arched windows create beautiful patterns that perfectly encapsulate Moorish architecture. The Venetian reds and yellows of the buildings reflect off of the water and become punctuated with green or blue from the doors, creating a musical arrangement of infinite color everywhere you look. Around virtually every corner is a new architectural wonder, often a church dedicated to a saint or pope, facing an open public square where people walk and children play, each with its own distinct identity. The interior of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, for example, is made completely out of different types of marble from around the world. Even the curtains are made of marble, emphasizing in stone the idea of timeless beauty. Other churches house great works of art by Venetian masters like Titian, which were commissioned by the churches for the purpose of visually educating the congregation. When I think of Italy, I think pasta and

pizza, but in Venice, I think seafood. To me there is nothing like fresh clam linguine or muscles, caught in the lagoon, with a cantor of red Italian table wine. Prosciutto is another staple food, and in just about any little cafe you can get prosciutto on a muffin to go with your morning coffee. For visitors interested in exploring art, the Gallerie dell’Accademia is a must-see. This museum is the keeper of four amazing paintings by Heironymus Bosch, the Northern European 14th century master. They were recently restored and are now on view, perfectly lit, creating an even higher sensation of how important these tiny, but powerful, paintings are. Venice is also the home of the Venice Biennale, which is an international art competition that takes place every two years. Countries from around the world have their own pavilion and choose an artist to represent them, culminating in a jury giving an award to the best one. When the exhibitions open in May, the entire art world figuratively descends on Venice. Venice is also known for its glass,

Since walking is the main mode of transportation in Venice, people are constantly interacting with each other, unlike those of us who live in a culture of automobiles. This face-to-face interaction makes Venetians truly the friendliest people I have ever encountered. S H A N E

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Fabiano glass blowing of my sculpture in Murano.

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My finished glass piece made in Murano “The Fifth Sound.” A beautiful shopping mall in a former post office.


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A quaint Venetian street.

A small canal with one of hundreds of bridges.

St. Mark’s Basilica sits across from the clock tower.

Doges Palace Grand Hall ceiling.

The Venetian reds and yellows of the buildings reflect off of the water and become punctuated with green or blue from the doors, creating a musical arrangement of infinite color S H A N E G U F F O G G everywhere you look. which is actually made on the neighboring island of Murano. The glass masters of Murano date back to the 7th century; they set up the glass making shops on Murano in case of a fire, since their glass furnaces stay at a constant temperature of 2,550 degrees. I have been fortunate enough to work with a glass master, Fabiano, for the past five years. Fabiano and his team recreate my sculptural concepts in glass, and it is truly an art. It takes three to six people, depending on the size of the glass, to work in unison like a well-choreographed performance. Once the piece has been blown, it is taken to a cooling oven where the temperature is slowly brought down, allowing the glass to harden and retain its shape. If it is cooled too quickly, it will crack and in some cases shatter. But the glass masters, who each serve a long apprenticeship, know exactly how much time is needed and understand the fine details that go into this art. On my last trip to Venice, I had the great fortune of seeing Giotto's Chapel— known as The Scrovegni Chapel—in 42 L I F E S T Y L E | AU G U S T 2 0 1 7

the town of Padua. Giotto began work on his chapel in year 1300 and finished it in 1302. The walls are bathed in a cerulean blue and punctuated with gold that frames a storyboard of events and ideas. The chapel was built by the son of a banker who commissioned Giotto to paint a message to God that he hoped would allow his deceased father to enter heaven. It appears that his father loaned money at high interest rates and took advantage of people, which was indeed a sin of the highest order that needed redemption. What better way than through the eyes of Giotto! Every person who visits Venice goes to San Marco Square, an iconic declaration of strength and beauty that is steeped in history. The construction of St. Mark’s Basilica began in the 800s, but it was rebuilt in 932 after a fire, with artists and artisans adding mosaics, sculptures, and architectural details for the next 600 years. This incredible building sits at one end of the piazza, facing the lagoon. In front of it stands the clock tower that was built in 1499

with rows of shops that are tucked away under the Romanesque arches lining both sides of the giant public square. In one of shops is a very old bar that dates back a couple of centuries. At 5:30 p.m., the local Venetians go there for a spritzer, which is made of Campari, white wine, and club soda. It is a great social gathering that feels like a scene from an Italian movie, with people dressed in the most stylish Italian suits and dresses. The Doge’s Palace is also not to be missed. It was built in the 900s as a home for the Doge—the elected ruler of the Republic of Venice. The architecture is Gothic with eastern influence, creating exquisite symmetry that speaks of order and power. The grand halls are filled with the greatest examples of Venetian artists, all framed in gold. Standing in the Great Hall is overwhelming, with its majesty, history, and beauty. I can't help but imagine what life was like in Venice 500 years ago, which adds another dimension of thought to my 21st century life.


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The Celebrants at the Bulgaria Amphitheater.

PRAISEWOR C E L E B R A N T

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The Celebrant Singers with Cal Thomas.


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isalia has produced a wide array of musical talent—from classical musicians to indie rock bands, pop stars to Broadway actors. One of Visalia’s most beloved groups, the Celebrant Singers, is marking a major milestone in August, honoring a 40-year contribution to the Christian music genre. As is their tradition, the “Celebrants,” as they’re often referred to, recently presented a homecoming concert, marking the return of missionary teams who have traveled the world this summer, bringing the light and hope of Christ to thousands.

the country who work hard and are serious with their ministry—they deserve a big ‘welcome home.’” The Celebrant Singers began in 1977 after Jon received a call from God while in Poland, which at that time was under Communist rule. He was touring with a group called the Continental Singers, whose mission is similar to the Celebrants: to build disciples of Christ and spread the gospel message through the gift of music. Fast-forward 40 years, and the Celebrants have 3,200 alumni from every state, as well as 25 countries. Through their live concerts,

tomorrow, I’ve had three lifetimes of experiences…all by His grace.’” For Jon, the question of a favorite memory is a difficult one. He holds dear the memories of numerous private moments spent with Mother Teresa, who was deeply interested in the Celebrants and canonized Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016. But just as precious to him are the moments others decide to give their lives to Christ. Responding to questions before a flight back to the United States from Suriname, Jon wrote, “Anytime we see someone come to a personal, lifechanging encounter with Christ as their

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Founder and Visalia native Jon Stemkoski—who was interviewed in July in New York City just before catching a flight to Suriname for a week of concerts—said that while most native Visalians are familiar with the group, many new residents may not be aware of their ministry. On the other hand, many long-time Visalians came out to support them on August 12 during their Grand Homecoming Concert, where 70 of the world’s best musicians performed live —30 singers and a 40-piece orchestra. “Visalia is my hometown. I’m proud of our city and always happy to come home after our various mission outreaches,” said Jon. “The Visalia community has always been very supportive of our ministry, and for that I am deeply grateful. In my view, we have some of the finest young musicians in

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the musicians have shared the gospel message in 101 countries with eight million people. From private meetings with Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, to performing at the Vatican at Easter in front of 500,000 people, Jon and his fellow musicians have indeed had missionary experiences most will never know. Reflecting on the road leading to this month’s reunion and celebration, Jon admits to feeling overwhelmed, yet grateful. “We have been extraordinarily blessed with God’s provision and protection,” he said. “By His grace, we’ve never had a major bus or airplane accident and we’ve never gone hungry. Everything God promised He would do when He called me in Poland in the ‘70s, He has faithfully brought to pass. I often say, ‘If I die

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V I S A L I A Savior and Lord, it would rank at the top. After all, that’s our entire raison detre—our very reason for being.” BENEFITS FOR VISALIA Jon noted that a by-product of the Celebrants being based in Visalia is that many of them have chosen to make Visalia their permanent home, thus benefiting the community in a variety of ways. Some have become business owners or teachers in local schools, and still others have continued their musicianship by performing with groups such as the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra (formerly the Tulare County Symphony). Wes Rowland, owner of The Cruise Experts in Visalia, spent 17 years touring with the Celebrant Singers as a trumpet player. With the Celebrants, he visited countries such as Iran and India, and then served as the director of admissions, recruiting musicians

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from around the world. At its peak in 1992, the Celebrants had seven teams totaling 175 musicians on the road, and another 30 full-time administrative staff members working at the Visalia headquarters, as well as small offices in Canada and India. Wes, a native of Kentucky, looks back on his time with the Celebrants fondly, recognizing that a choice to join the group took his life in a new direction. “I came to Visalia specifically to join the Celebrants, as a lot of former Celebrants did. I never intended to stay, but here we are,” Wes said. “Forty years is a remarkable achievement, and being a Celebrant impacted my life in a life-changing way. I have a debt of gratitude to this community for embracing me and my business.” At last count, more than 70 couples met through the celebrants and have married and settled down in Visalia. One such couple is Sheryl and David Donald. David is a childhood friend of Jon, and Sheryl attended a Celebrants concert in her hometown of Pittsburg, PA. Auditions were being held, so she decided to try out for a vocal role “with much fear and trembling,” she said. After graduating college with a degree in Speech Language Pathology, she embarked on a summer tour and ended up spending 12 years with the group. David worked with Celebrants for 27 years as both a musician and in a pastoral role for the members. In fact, the couple’s four children—Danielle, Jonathan, Ben, and Michelle—have also performed with Celebrants in various capacities. Danielle even toured with a team until she was two years old; during that time she traveled thousands of miles, was held by Pope John Paul II, and kissed by Mother Teresa. Sheryl said her experience with Celebrants has helped shaped her worldview. “Experiencing the world CHARITY

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and its variety of cultures, there are so many things that shape and mold our person. All the experiences I had with Celebrants equal who I am in Christ today,” she said. Sheryl likened the bond between Celebrants as one deeper than a life-long friendship. “We are connected in ways that are so deep,” she said. “I am amazed that God has taken me, because my gift is so meager. But you put me as one of 25, and together we do something. The whole concept of the team, people united for one purpose, to see God take that and put us all around the world to impact people for eternity, it is amazing what God will do.” David has spent many days reflecting on the Celebrants’ milestone. “As we’ve been approaching this time, I’ve been talking to a lot of people, sharing stories of what God has done,” he said. “We’ve been pulled off buses at gunpoint in Central America, had a contract on us in Ireland. But God also opened doors in Albania, Cuba, and Bulgaria, places where it had been 50 years since people had even talked of God. Looking back over those scenarios, it’s been such a privilege to be an observer of what God was doing and somehow join Him in a little bit of it. He has opened doors that no man can shut.” In a fast-changing world full of hope, but quite often deep despair, Jon believes that the best years of the Celebrant Singers are ahead. “Our world is groaning for redemption and the need has never been greater for the propagation of the gospel,” he said. “The primary component needed is committed people with music gifts and a heart for God, to be willing to ‘leave their nets and boats’ and follow Him. If Christian musicians will rise to that challenge, the future is incomprehensible.”

Singing in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

David Donald singing.

Jon Stemkoski with Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta).

The Celebrants performing a concert.


St. Anthony Retreat Center

Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center


Bird Street Brewing was one of the many breweries represented at the event.

COMMUNITY

BOOTS, BREWS, & BACON FEST

A&W served root beer floats.

Patrons enjoying beer from Full Circle Brewing Co.

T

he first annual Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest on Saturday, July 29 was a greasy success, as 1,100 people from around the valley came out to try the best bacon bite and enjoy refreshing brews. Presented by the Visalia Convention Center, this inaugural event showcased craft beer, music, and bacon-inspired food prepared by chefs from around Tulare County. Held indoors at the Convention Center,

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the venue provided a cool atmosphere for a scorching 100-degree summer day. The festivities included craft beer tasting, local restaurants featuring their best bacon bites, a cash prize for the best bacon dish as voted by the attendees, corn hole, a photo booth, and live music by Leaving Austin, Brandon Pasion, and Daniel Rose. The event also featured a bacon-eating contest where 10 contestants ate their

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way to compete for the top prize. The festival was the brainchild of Visalia Convention Center General Manager Shelley Ellis. Similar to an event she had attended when she lived in Washington, Shelley had a hunch that Visalia residents would benefit from a festival of this magnitude, especially if it was held inside an air-conditioned building. Her hunch was right. Local chefs from restaurants around

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P H O T O G R A P H Y


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Tulare County competed for a trophy as they prepared the most creative and scrumptious bacon bite. Attendees had the opportunity to vote on their favorite treat, and the winner of the tastiest pork morsel was awarded with a frying pan-shaped trophy. In the end, the prize went to PhD for their Japanese Style Braised Bacon with House-Made Kimchi. Some of the local and national breweries featured at the event included Bird Street Brewing, Inc., Lengthwise Brewing, Three Monkeys Brewing, TCHOPS, Full Circle Brewing Co., Goose Island Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Stella Artois, Founders Brewing Co., Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co., Fortiter Brewing Co., Redhook Ale Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Kona Brewing Co., Golden Road Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Zack's Brewing Co., and Kaweah Brewery. Several of the restaurants at the event included Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., Glick's & Company, PhD, The Café, Pita Kabob, BL Quality Meats, Gourmet Desserts & Wedding Cakes by Shelly, Visalia Marriott, A&W, California Cacciatore Fine Wines & Olive Oil Corp., and The Frosted Muffin. Each offered delicious treats for COMMUNITY

guests to grab, including bacon bites, sausage, crusted shrimp, maple bacon mini cupcakes, and macaroni and cheese. The Visalia Convention Center also donated some of the proceeds from the event to Visalia’s roller derby team, The V-Town Derby Dames. “We owe the success of the first Boots, Brews, & Bacon Festival entirely to the great

Each guest received a tasting glass with the price of their ticket.

partnerships and support from our sponsors, Bueno Beverage, BL Quality Meats, Giant Chevrolet Cadillac, the California Pork Producers Association, the many local breweries and restaurants, everyone that attended, and the great team at the Visalia Convention Center that worked so hard to produce this event,” said Shelley. “We are very excited that this will be an annual event.” Cheers to a successful first annual Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest! Keep your eyes open for the second annual event to be held on July 28, 2018. Be sure to buy your tickets early and pick them up a few days before to avoid standing in line the day of. Take that time you saved to jump ahead of the crowd and grab a brew and some scrumptious bacon bites!

James Jessen of Glick’s & Co. and PhD serving up some Japanese style braised pork belly .

Approximately 1,100 people came out to the Convention Center, making the first annual Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest a success.

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LITERARY ARTS

MONTY G. SANDS

T U R N I N G

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hile a busboy in Monterey, Monty G. Sands told a visiting Fresno sportscaster a string of fish stories. The visitor swallowed them, hook, line, and sinker. At first, when Monty recognized the sportscaster, the man guessed he was a student from Fresno State. Monty didn’t dissuade him of that idea either. In reality, Monty was a 16-year-old Kingsburg High School student working his dream summer job on the coast. During slack times, he enjoyed visiting with customers as they looked out over the bay. He also enjoyed making their visit a little more fun by telling them tales about the sea life in the watery world before them, stories not necessarily based on facts. Monty’s tendency to tell stories started early on. During his childhood, his father took him on pack trips into the Sierra. Sitting around the campfire with their fellow travelers, he’d spin yarns for their entertainment. It turns out that Monty’s father was a storyteller, too. The difference was

TA L E S

that when Dad told stories, a tell-tale smile would creep into his expression. Monty pulled it off with a straight face. “My folks knew most of the time that I wasn’t telling the truth,” said Monty. “But friends and company very seldom knew I was telling a story.” During all of these years, Monty didn’t think of putting his stories on paper. He graduated from Kingsburg High, attended college in Santa Maria, and joined the Air Force. During his enlistment, he competed on the pistol team. While at a police-sponsored match in Visalia, he ran into a Kingsburg schoolmate who was a policeman. This encounter convinced him to give law enforcement a try himself, and so he wound up back in Visalia in the sheriff’s office. During his time in law enforcement, he worked in the police department, in the sheriff’s office, and spent time as both a detective and a patrol sergeant. Eventually, he left law enforcement to work in real estate, before returning to the field in the probation department. T E X T

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After 11 years there, he retired. “After a while in retirement, I became bored,” he said. “A lot of friends said I should write a story. But I was more of a fireside storyteller, which was easy for me. Going from vocal storytelling to putting something in print was a lot different and a lot harder.” When he told stories out loud, they simply evaporated into the air when he was done; there was no need to find a better word or rearrange sentences. “When you put a story in print and see what you wrote and you’re not happy with it, it can be very discouraging,” he said. Learning how to do it took some time. Making the process more complicated was the fact that he was attempting to compose on a typewriter. “My son talked me into getting a computer, and that changed my life,” he said. While Monty says that switching to writing was difficult, getting his first book published turned out to be relatively easy. He was surprised

S L O C U M Monty G. Sands with his wife Beatrice.


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to find out that there was a publisher just up the road in Exeter—Bear State Books. When he showed his draft of the book to Publisher Chris Brewer, he was encouraged. “He said ‘okay, there is a story here, but it’s in rough shape,’” said Monty. “I probably will publish it if you bring me something publishable.” It took him about a year to attain that goal, and so Murder in Matheny was published in 2004. Matheny is a real community near Tulare where, in 1988, a young girl, April Holley, was brutally raped and murdered. “That story was very depressing

In one instance, he noticed something interesting about the Matheny case— perhaps because of his years in law enforcement. While two men had been convicted of April’s murder, Monty saw some information that indicated to him that a third man might have been involved. He reported this to the sheriff who dispatched two detectives to a midwestern state to investigate. As Monty describes it, both deputies were of Mexican heritage and people in the town would not give them any information. When they tried to see the sheriff, he was never available. When the money for the trip ran out, they had to return home emptyhanded.

one of the daughters, bringing his wife, Beatrice, along to make a delicate situation more comfortable. Monty’s other books are fiction, which he finds more entertaining to write. Even though he writes his true stories in the style of a novel, he feels obligated to learn as much as possible about the subjects and stick to the facts as best as they are known— unlike back in his story-telling days. With his novels, on the other hand, he feels free to blend places and people he has known into situations he invents. Welcome to Ocean’s Mist and Just a Few More Miles are two of those stories. His latest book is In More Innocent

to write,” said Monty. “She was such a young girl and the guys who killed her were so horrible.” Monty came across the court transcripts of the trial while he was working in the probation department and became interested in the story. He went to Matheny to see what it was like. “When I saw the area, I was hooked because it was such a rough area for this little girl to grow up in,” he said. Monty has two books that deal with true crime, including The King of Nine Mile Canyon, published in 2008 by Another New Day. Both books required extensive research as he would spend three or four hours a day going through old newspapers and other records.

The self-described king of Monty’s second true crime book lived far up in the Sierra where Tulare, Kern, and Inyo counties intersect. The subject molested his stepdaughters who lived with him. Eventually, in 1958, two of the girls escaped and traveled down the rugged nine miles of the canyon until they found a cowboy who assisted them. However, when he tried to call in the law, the response was complicated by the question of which of the three counties had jurisdiction. During his research, Monty eventually tracked down the grizzled Tulare County deputy who handled the case and interviewed him about a month before his death. He also interviewed

Times, which he self-published. It is the book he most enjoyed writing and tells stories of life in the Central San Joaquin from World War II into the mid-50s. Monty said he writes because he has to. His characters demand to be set free. He kept the characters in his latest book in limbo for 20 years before he got back to writing their stories. He also writes for his readers. “The long hours involved in writing are seldom rewarded financially,” he wrote. “But when readers tell you their version of your book, even if it is not what you had in mind, it is worth it. You have sparked their imagination. Isn't that a writer's job?”

LITERARY ARTS

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HAPPENINGS

T H E AT R E & A R T S YOUNG AT ART EXHIBIT August 2017 is a special month for Arts Visalia, which is pleased to present Young at Art, an exhibition featuring the works of their Young at Art children’s summer program. The exhibition will also showcase works from kids in their art program in Goshen, in partnership with Family Services.

FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK Every month, the Arts Consortium presents First Fridays to explore the Visalia Art District. During the walk, you’ll experience a diverse range of local art in the downtown Visalia area. Check out the website for more information. When: Sept. 1, 5–8 p.m. Where: Arts Consortium, 300 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: artsconsortium.org

When: Now-Aug. 25, Wed.-Sat., 12-5:30 p.m. Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: artsvisalia.org

When: 7:30 p.m.: Aug. 18, 19, 25, 26, Sept. 1, 2, 8, 9; 2 p.m.: Aug. 20, 27, Sept. 3, 10 Where: Ice House Theatre, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: visaliaplayers.org

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From now through October, The Looking Glass in Visalia will be hosting a “Second Saturday” artisan and crafters fair. Come out and enjoy a day of shopping from local crafters. When: Sept. 9, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Where: The Looking Glass, Court and Caldwell in Visalia Contact: thelookingglassvisalia.com

TASTE THE ARTS

“CABARET” BY THE VISALIA PLAYERS Head down to the Ice House Theatre to watch their performance of “Cabaret.” Taking place at the Kit Kat Klub in the midst of Germany’s postWorld War I economic depression, this meaty musical serves as a metaphor for the ominous political development in late Weimar Germany.

SECOND SATURDAY ARTISAN MARKET AT THE LOOKING GLASS

THE BOOK L.A. SERIES BENEFIT CONCERT Come out the to the Cellar Door to listen to some great music while raising funds to support a local woman who was paralyzed from the waist down. Bands featured will be MaryDenise, Cutty Flam, Apollo Bebop, Big Language, and DJ Solo and Fab. A portion of proceeds from this concert will go to help fund Derek Adam's campaign to help reach 20K on behalf of Leia. Cost is $12 per person. When: Sept. 1, 8 p.m. Where: The Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: ticketweb.com

Taste the Arts is a street art fair that showcases the variety of art produced in Tulare County. Art booths, performances, contests, and demonstrations make the event a fun time for families. Artists are asked to talk about their work and to engage the public in their art by providing demonstrations. When: Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Where: Garden Street in downtown Visalia Contact: artsconsortium.org


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DIVERSIONS & EXCU R S I O N S

HAPPENINGS

DOWNTOWN VISALIA FARMER’S MARKET Every Thursday evening this spring and summer, stop by downtown Visalia to shop local at the Farmers Market. Buy fresh produce, plants and flowers, and a variety of goods and handcrafted items. Also, check out the year-round Farmers Market on Saturdays at the corner of Caldwell and Mooney Blvd. When: Thursdays, now-Sept. 21, 5-8 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia at Church and Main Streets Contact: visaliafarmersmarket.com

DOWNTOWN VISALIA BREW FEST Gather your friends together and be ready to taste your favorite beers at downtown Visalia’s second annual Brew Fest. Come down to the Old Lumber Yard at Bridge and Oak Streets to enjoy live music, beer, and fun. A portion of ticket proceeds benefit Assistance League of Visalia. When: Sept. 9, 3-7 p.m. Where: The Old Lumberyard, Bridge and Oak Streets, Visalia Contact: downtownvisalia.com

WOMEN'S HEALTH AND WELLNESS DAY This special day is designed to inspire women to connect and learn about women’s health services available in our community. Come relax, have fun, get fit, and be pampered. Activities will include free health screenings and education booths, local vendors, free pilates, yoga and zumba sessions, spa and beauty services, opportunity drawings with door prizes, refreshments, and more. When: Sept. 23, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Where: Therapy Specialists, 820 S. Akers St., Suite 200, Visalia Contact: kaweahdelta.org/ womenshealthday

WAITER’S RACE Join the Visalia Breakfast Lions Club for another exciting Waiters Race taking place on Main Street in downtown Visalia. Servers from local restaurants have a chance to win prizes and bragging rights, so come cheer on your favorite waiters and waitresses.

BLUES, BREWS & BBQ Come out to downtown Visalia every first Friday of the month for a night of live music, dancing, refreshing brews, and lots of fun. The entertainment on Sept. 8 will be Blue Collar Men, a tribute to STYX and the great rock classics. Proceeds from this event benefit Visalia Emergency Aid Council. When: Sept. 8, 6-10 p.m. Where: Garden Street Plaza, downtown Visalia Contact: 859-3682

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When: Sept. 21, 5-8 p.m. Where: Main Street, downtown Visalia Contact: visaliabreakfastlions.org

OKTOBERFEST For nearly a decade, Oktoberfest has been one of the largest crowddrawing events in the Central Valley. Enjoy samplings from various restaurants, beer tasting from local breweries, and incredible live entertainment at Vossler Farms. When: Sept. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Where: Vossler Farms Pumpkin Patch, 26773 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia Contact: visaliachamber.org


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HAPPENINGS

GARDEN PARTY WINE AFFAIR The Green Acres Little Theatre Foundation will present its 13th annual “Garden Party Wine Affair” at the home of Chuck and Susie Nichols. There will be wine tasting, hors d’ oeuvres, desserts, a silent auction, a 50-50 drawing, and entertainment by the Redwood High School Jazz Band. When: Sept. 10, 4-7 p.m. Where: Home of Chuck and Susie Nichols Contact: 779-8164

TASTE OF DOWNTOWN VISALIA During The 24th Annual Taste of Downtown, a fabulous community of restaurants open their doors and offer a taste of their favorite menu items. A ticket admits you to all of the participating downtown restaurants, as well as entrance to wine and beer tasting. When: Oct. 3, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: downtownvisalia.com

FIND ADVENTURE FOOD TRUCK FEST

C H A R I TA B L E EVENTS HAPPY HEARTS CAR SHOW Benefitting Valley Children’s Hospital, the Happy Hearts Car Show at Ed Dena’s Auto Center in Dinuba will feature a variety of classic cars, all for a great cause. With a $5 donation, guests will be entered to win a new vehicle. The drawing will be at 2 p.m. When: Aug. 26, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Where: Ed Dena’s Auto Center, 1500 W. El Monte Way, Dinuba Contact: eddenasautocenter.com

VISALIA MIGHTY OAKS CHORUS 2ND ANNUAL WESTERN ROUNDUP Y’all are invited to attend the Visalia Mighty Oak’s Chorus 2nd annual Western Roundup. The evening includes a full tri-tip BBQ dinner, entertainment by the Visalia Mighty Oaks Chorus and Quartets, and a silent auction. When: Aug. 26, 5-8 p.m. Where: Ritchie Barn, 16338 Ave. 308, Visalia Contact: 901-4615

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Saucy September is a celebration of Hunger Action Month and Food Literacy Month, featuring a pasta sauce tasting and competition, live music, dinner, a silent auction, and a raffle. The event benefits both Congregation B’nai David and FoodLink for Tulare County. When: Sept. 16, 6-10 p.m. Where: Congregation B’nai David, 1039 S. Chinowth St., Visalia Contact: 732-3600

Find adventure and feed your face at the second annual Find Adventure Food Truck Fest. The event features food from your favorite local food trucks, music, beer, local art vendors, and more! Proceeds benefit programs and projects in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. When: Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Where: Mooney Grove Park, Visalia Contact: sequoiaparkconservancy.org

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HAPPENINGS

FROMAGE FROLIC

CRUSH PARTY The Tulare Chamber of Commerce and the COS Foundation will be holding their 4th annual Crush Party. Join them for tasting local wines, spirits, cheeses, and other delicious eats. The winner of the drawing will receive a collection of 109 bottles of wine. When: Sept. 22, 6-9 p.m. Where: COS Tulare College Center, Building B, 4999 E. Bardsley Ave., Tulare Contact: COS.edu/Foundation

Come out to Garden Street Plaza to partake in the second annual Fromage Frolic grilled cheese cook off event, hosted by the Visalia Parks & Recreation Foundation. Enjoy a delicious and unique grilled cheese cook-off with live entertainment by Run4Cover. When: Sept. 23, 5-10 p.m. Where: Garden Street Plaza, downtown Visalia Contact: Carol Hoppert Hays, 731-4599

TULARE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY ANNUAL BBQ FUNDRAISER Join the TC Historical Society for their annual BBQ fundraiser with music by the local band “Take Cover.” Enjoy a delicious tri-tip and chicken dinner and dessert provided by Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Tickets are $50 per person. When: Oct. 1, 3:30-6 p.m. Where: Tulare County Museum in Mooney Grove Park, Visalia Contact: tularecountyhistoricalsociety. org

BOUNTY OF THE COUNTY Join the Farm Bureau for their 8th annual Bounty of the County event, where guests will enjoy an evening of culinary bites, delicious drinks, and samples of specialty products, all centered around Tulare County’s number one industry: agriculture! The event will take place at Seven Sycamores Ranch in Ivanhoe. When: Sept. 29, 6-9 p.m. Where: Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch, 32988 Rd. 164, Ivanhoe Contact: tulcofb.org

VEAC FOOD PANTRY PRESENTS “EVENING ON THE RED CARPET” Join us as we walk the red carpet with local and national celebrities during the Visalia Emergency Aid Food Pantry’s second annual “Evening on the Red Carpet.” The event includes both silent and live auctions, fine food, and dancing. When: Oct. 14, 6-10 p.m. Where: Giant Chevrolet & Cadillac showroom, Visalia Contact: veac.org

VACATION RENTALS

Cafe Lafayette EatCafeLafayette.com

Reservations: 151South E Street 559-592-9463 Suite A, Exeter CA

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•Extensive wine list •Beer flights •Full service bar •Bottomless mimosas

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•Patio dining •Private rooms •Daily specials •Live music

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Lifestyle Magazine - August 2017  

Style, art, culture, and events of the South Valley.