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  • Let the sales begin!

    It’s Black Friday shopping season, and here we go again! Retailers are playing their games so they can get your dollars. As it was last year, Black Friday is not just one day, it is a season and it started in early November this year. There will be plenty more deals to come, but how do you know if a deal is a deal?One way retailers attempt to get your dollars is with sales. Often this time of the year, you will see phrases like “Black Friday” and “Door Buster Deals” being used to entice you. Are all of these sales really that good of a bargain?You must arm yourself with tools to combat between the dud and stud deals. Use your fingers to help you do the research. Don’t let retailers convince you it is a deal, prove it to yourself. Use websites like Amazon.com or Amazon’s price check app. In addition, use eBay to help you do your research and even the shopping section of Google too. These sites will help you to find out whether or not the item on sale is a door buster deal, a really good deal, or an everyday price. Amazon sells everything you can possibly think of and using their website, and it’s a good way to help you do your research. EBay allows you to find out what things are being sold for in their auctions. All you have to do is go to the search bar and click on the advance tab and type in what you are looking for. Then check off “sold listings below.” This will pull up the actual price the item sold for, giving you a current real price of what folks are willing to pay for an item. As for Google, simply type in what you’re looking for, click on “shopping” and you’ll see what everyone is selling the item for.THIS WEEKEND is a great time to find Door Buster DealsAccording to Dealnews.com, their research shows that in 2013, Thanksgiving Day had the most overall of deals for the shopping season compared to the actual Black Friday day. To top it off, Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, actually beat Black Friday in sales.At the end of the day, I really think you will see a tremendous amount of deals and a lot of aggressive and competitive pricing, especially for online deals. Let’s not forget one of the biggest online retailers, Amazon. They have been offering their Lightning Deals since the early weeks in November. Plus, if you are a Prime Member you get 30 minutes early access on their Lightning Deals. There are plenty of bargains for us all to score, just use these apps and websites to help you. Plus, if you want to see those ads in the newspaper you can for free. Just download the Flipp App on your smartphone.

  • 10 holiday performances not to miss

    ‘Elf: The Musical’Based on the Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell, this colorful production follows the adventures of a very large elf who travels to New York to uncover his real ancestry, helping New York rediscover the spirit of Christmas in the process.DETAILS >> 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, and Wednesday, Dec. 3. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. $40-$80. (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com.‘Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells’Childsplay presents the holiday hijinks of the titular character from Barbara Park’s popular children’s books. After Junie B. draws May’s name for the Secret Santa giveaway, she devises a plan to leave her nemesis with a lump of coal.DETAILS>> Weekends, Nov. 22 to Dec. 28; Saturdays 1 and 4 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m. Tempe Center for the Arts Theater, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. $15-$25. (480) 350-2822 or TCA.ticketforce.com.

  • Williams Field looking to topple tough Saguaro squad in D-III finals

    When it comes to Saguaro’s football team, there is one question everyone has that nobody has seemed to be able to solve: How in the world do you stop Christian Kirk.A five-star prospect, Kirk has tallied 1,125 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns to go with his 1,481 rushing yards and 22 rushing scores.For Williams Field, the goal will be to minimize the damage Kirk can do cause while implementing its own bludgeoning running game.The Black Hawks will lean on a steady diet of running back Braedyn Bushman who has totaled 2,455 rushing yards on 213 carries along with 12 touchdowns.Saguaro won the regular season matchup 42-7 on Oct. 9.

  • Hamilton in search of revenge against Chandler High

    Hamilton football coach Steve Belles isn’t expecting a lot of support for his Huskies in Friday's Division I state final against archrival Chandler.“I think it will be more pro-Chandler than it will be Hamilton,” he said.It’s to be expected after Chandler handed Hamilton its second consecutive defeat in the Battle of Arizona Avenue. Chandler throttled the Huskies on Hamilton’s own field 56-24 on Oct. 2 and the Huskies haven’t forgotten that.Chandler quarterback Bryce Perkins gashed the Huskies with both his arm and his legs passing for 407 yards and six touchdowns while running for 83 more yards and another score.Now, Hamilton is looking for redemption.“They took it to us pretty good last time,” Belles said. “I think it left a bad taste in our kids’ mouth and we want to redeem ourselves not just as coaches but as players as well.”

  • Tempe police investigating officer-involved shooting

    A man wanted by police on a weapons charge was shot and injured Tuesday morning in Tempe.Tempe Police spokesman Lt. Mike Pooley said the shooting happened late Tuesday morning at a Motel 6 near McClintock Drive and Apache Boulevard.Police said they received a tip about a fugitive wanted on a weapons charge who was located at the motel.The fugitive, a 55-year-old man, reportedly rammed two unmarked police cars in the parking lot with his own vehicle, prompting officers to shoot him.Officers at the scene from the US Marshal Task Force, Mesa Police and Tempe Police departments are okay and do not appear to be injured, Pooley said.The fugitive was reportedly shot at least twice and has been transported to the hospital. His condition is unknown.

  • Fantasy of Lights Parade to launch Tempe’s holiday celebration for 20th time

    Tempe’s annual holiday kickoff has served as a consistent source of entertainment and joy for families for two decades without necessarily offering the same experience one year after another.Like in previous years, the Fantasy of Lights Holiday Opening Night Parade presented by Wells Fargo, now in its 20th year, will feature a series of attractions for viewers who line up along downtown Tempe. The route takes participants down Mill Avenue beginning at Third Street before turning along Seventh Street to end at Centerpoint Plaza.There are always a few constants from one year to the next with the parade, including the 40 to 50 parade units that encompass floats, balloons, vehicles and other celebratory devices. A few annual staples include real estate developer Michael Pollack’s lighted train, an appearance by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Marcia’s Mop Parade marching down Mill Avenue. It’ll end as it tends to end with the lighting of Tempe’s sizable holiday tree at Centerpoint Plaza and an appearance by the season’s most valuable spirit of charity, Santa Claus.All in all, it creates a feel that Kate Hastings, the parade’s managing director, equated to the traditional hometown parade for parents to bring their kids for the evening.“At this point, there are people who grew up with this parade … and they’re now bringing their children,” she said.And yet, things aren’t quite the same as they are from one year to the next. A few changes are minor in nature, with Hastings saying Arpaio is leaving his usual tank at home and trading it in for a convertible to drive that night. There are also a few new participants set to march through downtown Tempe, highlighted by the Girl Scout Daisies and new high school bands that will showcase their talents downtown.

  • 10 holiday performances not to miss

    ‘Elf: The Musical’Based on the Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell, this colorful production follows the adventures of a very large elf who travels to New York to uncover his real ancestry, helping New York rediscover the spirit of Christmas in the process.DETAILS >> 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, and Wednesday, Dec. 3. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. $40-$80. (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com.‘Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells’Childsplay presents the holiday hijinks of the titular character from Barbara Park’s popular children’s books. After Junie B. draws May’s name for the Secret Santa giveaway, she devises a plan to leave her nemesis with a lump of coal.DETAILS>> Weekends, Nov. 22 to Dec. 28; Saturdays 1 and 4 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m. Tempe Center for the Arts Theater, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. $15-$25. (480) 350-2822 or TCA.ticketforce.com.

  • Get your fix of fall foliage and snow even here in Arizona

    I can hear the music playing in my head now and I’m singing along: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”In the Valley of the Sun, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Temperatures have finally cooled down enough that I don’t have to worry about my emergency chocolate bar melting in the car.After a summer of sizzling, skin-frying heat, don’t we deserve it? That said, I hear you. You miss the fall colors and you miss the snow. Not the shoveling part, but the fun, playful, building snowmen part.Well, never fear! The high country is here.That’s what is so amazing about our state. In just a matter of hours, the terrain transforms into something first-time visitors could never imagine in a “desert” state like Arizona. It’s magical!So gas up the car, make some memories and get to know Arizona’s gorgeous diversity.

  • Mesa Temple lights up Christmas display for 35th year

    The Christmas season is coming around again and, as in years past, the highlight in Mesa will be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Mesa Temple Garden Christmas Lights.“This is our 35th year of lights on the Mesa Temple grounds,” said Beckie Jackson, Christmas lights director, in a statement. “They began with 5,000 blue lights in the trees the first year. There are now too many lights to count!”Hundreds of volunteers have been working to set up the display, consisting of thousands of lights, which will be open to the public from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31.The display features nightly concerts from Dec. 1 to 25 and performances by local music groups. Inside the visitors center are between 75 and 100 nativity sets from as many as 50 countries. Outside there is a large nativity scene.Last year, the display had 1.5 million visitors, according to Jackson, and she hopes to see as many or more this year.“This is our gift to the community,” Jackson said in a statement. “The event is free of charge. Our hope is that all who come visit will feel peace on the temple grounds and remember the true meaning of Christmas.”

  • Tumbleweed tree illuminates Chandler’s holiday spirit

    Since 1957, the lighting of the tumbleweed tree at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park has been a time-honored tradition for Chandler residents.That tradition will continue once again this year at 8 p.m. Dec. 6 following the Parade of Lights at 7 p.m. “Because of the uniqueness of the tumbleweed tree, it’s just a special piece of our heritage,” said Jean Reynolds, Chandler public history coordinator.The customary tree lighting was started by a man named Earl Barnum who saw a similar practice done in Indiana with cone-shaped chicken wire. From that, Barnum hatched the idea to use tumbleweeds to make the tree.The collection of the tumbleweeds starts around October as the temperature starts to drop and the air grows colder. Members of Chandler’s Park Operations Division round up tumbleweeds from all around the city and are very selective as to the ones they choose.“They have to start at least a couple of months early because they’ve got a lot of scavenging (to do) just to see what’s out there,” Reynolds said. “… They’ve got to get particular types of sizes and a certain shape — they’re pretty particular, it’s funny — about the ones that they get.”Once all of the tumbleweeds are gathered, they are placed into the 25-foot-tall framework. After being placed, the tumbleweeds are painted with approximately 25 gallons of white paint, an additional 20 gallons of flame retardant and then dusted with over 60 pounds of glitter. Finally, the tree is adorned with more than 1,200 lights to create the final holiday monument.

  • Chabad Jewish Center of Mesa spreads Hanukkah cheer

    Hanukkah, the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” is conspicuous for a couple of reasons, namely the interesting lights and decorations and the eight-day length of the holiday.Rabbi Laibel Blotner, executive director of Chabad Jewish Center of Mesa, said the holiday is primarily about spreading the news of the miracle the holiday celebrates.A little back story: Hanukkah celebrates the freeing of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. and the story of the way in which a small amount of oil used in the menorah (the giant candelabra, an easily recognized symbol of Judaism, which was kept lit in the Temple) lasted for eight days when there only appeared to be enough oil for 24 hours.“One of the main themes of Hanukkah … is the uniqueness of fire, that you could go into a room that’s dark and you light a match and the room lights up and that teaches us that evil and negativity is not necessarily an entity for itself but a little light has the ability to disperse a lot of darkness and bring light and every human being … ultimately, can be considered a candle, they can bring light into a dark world,” Blotner said.To memorialize the story, Jews light a candle each night of the holiday until, on the last night, all eight candles are lit in a special menorah called a Hanukkiyah.The Chabad Jewish Center of Mesa organizes several local events in the East Valley to highlight the holiday, including displays at Dana Park, Mesa Riverview and Superstition Springs Center. The Chabad Jewish Center’s children’s choir performs local events, singing for the Jewish, as well as non-Jewish, residents of local senior living facilities and RV parks, one of which hosts a massive event where as many as 500 people eat latkes (a traditional Hanukkah food, akin to hash browns) and spin dreidels.

  • ZooLights opens 'bigger and brighter’ this year

    ZooLights, one of the most popular attractions of the holidays in the Valley, opened for its 23rd year on Nov. 24.Visitors are able to experience even more lights than last year, over 3.5 million. Phoenix Zoo features more than 700 displays and hosts a variety of activities.There will be two pricing options available this year. Attendees can choose between an “Any Night” ticket ($18 general admission/$16 for members) and a “Value Ticket” ($12 general admission/$10 for members). The zoo is also offering $2 off tickets purchased online, according to the Phoenix Zoo website.Linda Hardwick, director of communications at Phoenix Zoo, says that “we have had certain nights every year that get extremely congested.” Hardwick says the different ticket options are offered this year in order to spread out the congestion and to allow more people to freely move about the park.ZooLights will also feature longer hours this year along with being open three days longer than previous years.Hardwick says that every year, ZooLights hosts close to 300,000 people, but they are hoping that between offering the different ticket prices, opening three days earlier than they usually do, and extending ZooLights operating hours by one hour will encourage more people to come out and see the lights.“We like that say that ZooLights gets ‘bigger and brighter’ every year,” Hardwick said.

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  • Gilbert to open new parking structure

    Gilbert officials will celebrate the opening of a new parking structure with a two-hour event on Dec. 6.The celebration will feature music, a ribbon cutting and food from restaurants like So Cal Fish Taco Company, Postino East, Joyride Taco House, High Tide Seafood Bar and Grill, Flancer’s Café, Bergies Coffee, and several other places. The event will also serve as a collection point for the toy drive coordinated by the Gilbert fire and police departments.The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon, and more information is available by visiting gilbertaz.gov/DiscoverDeliciousGilbert.

  • Earnhardt Auto Centers adds new dealerships in Gilbert

    Earnhardt Auto Centers purchased another auto dealership in the Gilbert San Tan Motorplex on Nov. 24.Hal Earnhardt, the son of Tex Earnhardt, bought a Volkswagen dealership month, which comes a few months after he purchased a Maserati dealership in the same vicinity.The San Tan dealership is located on 1489 E. Motorplex Loop.

  • Home price recovery slowing down in Arizona

    The recovery of home prices in Arizona appears to have all but stalled.New figures Tuesday from the Federal Housing Finance Agency show prices paid for Arizona homes during the third quarter of this year were, on average, seven-tenths of a percent higher than the second quarter. That compares with 0.9 percent nationally.The increase, though, brought the annual appreciation to 6.6 percent — two full points better than the national average.Michael Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said virtually all of that occurred very early this year.“I don't think we've really seen any significant price movement over the last 10 months or so,” he said.Potentially more concerning is that Orr does not believe the sales price numbers used to put reports like this together are actually accurate.

  • Brewer loses bid to get ruling reconsidered

    A court has rejected Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request to reconsider a ruling that blocked her policy of denying driver's licenses to young immigrants who have avoided deportation under an Obama administration policy.The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday turned down Brewer's request to get a 15-judge panel to reconsider the ruling.In July, a three-judge panel of the court concluded there was no legitimate state interest in treating young immigrants who were granted deferred action on deportation differently from other noncitizens who could apply for driver's licenses.Instead, the panel suggested the policy was intended to express hostility toward the young immigrants, in part because of the federal government's policy toward them.The Obama administration took steps in 2012 to shield thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

  • Arizonans rank high on national debt list

    So as you pull out that credit card for that holiday purchase, you might ask yourself if you're already overextended.One out of five Arizonans already is, according to the financial advice web site WalletHub. That's how many are spending more than they make.And that's the ninth highest figure in the entire country.So how do we manage to do that?Well, there's credit cards, and auto loans.WalletHub figures the average credit card and auto debt for Arizonans at more than 17 percent of what we make. That figure computes out to the sixth highest in the country. Topping the list are New Mexico and Utah.

  • Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

    Will Katy Perry be a firework at the Super Bowl? Will she show them what she's worth? Will she let her colors burst?NFL announced late Sunday — after rumors swirled for weeks — that the pop star will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. It will air on NBC.Perry, 30, has dominated the Billboard charts since releasing her debut in 2008, including nine No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her sophomore effort, 2010's multiplatinum "Teenage Dream," matched the record Michael Jackson set with "Bad" for most songs from a single album to hit No. 1 with five.Perry released "Prism," another platinum effort, last year. It includes the No. 1 smashes "Roar" and "Dark Horse."The Grammy-nominated star's upcoming performance is the fourth consecutive halftime show to display the NFL's push to include younger acts on its large stage: Bruno Mars had a show-stopping set at this year's Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey; Beyoncé electrified in 2013 in New Orleans; and there was Madonna, with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., and the Black Eyed Peas in 2012 and 2011, respectively.Other halftime performers in the last decade have included the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and the Who.

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  • Engineering for Kids Summer Camp

    Engineering for Kids offering STEM Based Summer Camps at Primavera in Chandler. Announces Summer Camp Open House on May 17thWhat is East Valley Engineering for Kids?Engineering for Kids is an enrichment program that teaches concepts on a variety of engineering fields in classes and camps for kids’ ages 4-14. We want to spark an interest in the kids for science, technology and engineering. The camps are all themes based and require the kids to work in teams to address engineering challenges and problems. All programs meet national education standards for STEM and align with Common Core for math and science. Engineering for Kids has operated since 2009, is in 26 states and 4 countries. When and what is the open house for?The open house on May 17th is an opportunity for parents to come and see the facility, meet the staff from Engineering for Kids, and get their questions answered. The summer camps will be offered at Primavera Blended Learning Center at 2451 N. Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The open house is from 11 am to 3 pm.  From 1-2 pm we’re having our popular robotics workshop where the kids will build, program, test and improve the robots. At the end of the workshop, the kids will compete against each other in a Sumo Bot tournament. An RSVP is highly recommended as seating is limited. Please email your RSVP to eastvalley@engineeringforkids.net. What is Primavera Blended Learning Center?

  • Let the sales begin!

    It’s Black Friday shopping season, and here we go again! Retailers are playing their games so they can get your dollars. As it was last year, Black Friday is not just one day, it is a season and it started in early November this year. There will be plenty more deals to come, but how do you know if a deal is a deal?One way retailers attempt to get your dollars is with sales. Often this time of the year, you will see phrases like “Black Friday” and “Door Buster Deals” being used to entice you. Are all of these sales really that good of a bargain?You must arm yourself with tools to combat between the dud and stud deals. Use your fingers to help you do the research. Don’t let retailers convince you it is a deal, prove it to yourself. Use websites like Amazon.com or Amazon’s price check app. In addition, use eBay to help you do your research and even the shopping section of Google too. These sites will help you to find out whether or not the item on sale is a door buster deal, a really good deal, or an everyday price. Amazon sells everything you can possibly think of and using their website, and it’s a good way to help you do your research. EBay allows you to find out what things are being sold for in their auctions. All you have to do is go to the search bar and click on the advance tab and type in what you are looking for. Then check off “sold listings below.” This will pull up the actual price the item sold for, giving you a current real price of what folks are willing to pay for an item. As for Google, simply type in what you’re looking for, click on “shopping” and you’ll see what everyone is selling the item for.THIS WEEKEND is a great time to find Door Buster DealsAccording to Dealnews.com, their research shows that in 2013, Thanksgiving Day had the most overall of deals for the shopping season compared to the actual Black Friday day. To top it off, Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, actually beat Black Friday in sales.At the end of the day, I really think you will see a tremendous amount of deals and a lot of aggressive and competitive pricing, especially for online deals. Let’s not forget one of the biggest online retailers, Amazon. They have been offering their Lightning Deals since the early weeks in November. Plus, if you are a Prime Member you get 30 minutes early access on their Lightning Deals. There are plenty of bargains for us all to score, just use these apps and websites to help you. Plus, if you want to see those ads in the newspaper you can for free. Just download the Flipp App on your smartphone.

  • 12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Day 6 inspired by 100 Grand

    So what would you do with 100 Grand?Obviously, the only appropriate answer is to eat it. But if you don't have one of those bars of chocolate, caramel and puffed-crisped rice handy, we've got you covered. These bar-style cookies capture everything we love about 100 Grand bars in a home-baked treat.CARAMELIZED CRISPY BAR COOKIESStart to finish: 45 minutes, plus coolingServings: 24For the cookies:

  • A holiday welcome

    As we open our homes to friends and family this holiday season, why not set the mood at the front door? I have designed these super cute door mats. They are really inexpensive and easy to make.The half-moon rugs come in several colors and are perfect for decorating. You can find them now at IKEA. They are called Tvis. I used permanent markers and acrylic paints to decorate.For the pumpkins, I used a variety of acrylic paints in burnt orange, brown, green and umber. I wish I could say I have a pattern, but I basically just did it free hand. Honestly, it’s easier than you think!With the string of lights, I used permanent markers and acrylic paint for the bulbs. Simply start with a black marker and loop it around like a string. Remember this is YOUR art so anything goes. About every couple of inches, create a socket for the light bulb with the black marker. Make sure you twist and turn them so they are facing in different directions. Then pick four or five colors for bulbs and alternate so the same colors aren’t next to each other.The good news is that these rugs are very durable and washable. Because they are so inexpensive to make, you can make a new one every year.From my family to yours, I wish you all the very best and that is special to you this holiday season!

  • A season of ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’

    The holiday season is my favorite time of year. As a mother, it’s even more special to see the sparkle and joy of this festive season through the eyes of my precious twin daughters.Growing up as a proud military brat, I cherish celebrating the holidays with family members near and far. My parents always threw huge holiday parties in our home filled with lots of homemade food, desserts, and plenty of holiday cheer. These incredible memories which are still enriching my life today.Today, I am enjoying the excitement of making new memories with our girls, which is truly the most special gift a mommy could ever ask for. Over the years, our family has graciously adopted some very special traditions. We enjoy baking and decorating sugar cookies, trimming our Christmas tree, and transforming our home into a winter wonderland.On Christmas morning, it is so funny to watch our angels precociously creep down the stairs in hopes of spotting Santa nibbling on the treats they left on the mantle, or seeing their eyes light up when they receive that ONE special gift they so desperately wanted.But the most important tradition we share each year is donating to Valley non-profits. Before our angels even think about writing a wish list for themselves, they collect gently-used clothes, shoes and last year’s “must have” gadgets for those less fortunate. They can hardly contain themselves while boxing up their items. It is truly wonderful to see their little hearts fill with so much joy as they get out of the car and walk their boxes into the donation center. Every year, their kindness and generosity move me to tears.This year, I asked them what makes the holidays so special. Each one quickly replied, “Donating to other kids who don’t have as much.” My husband and I confidently smiled at one another, thankful we are raising our girls the same we were brought up with humility and respect.

  • 12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Day 5 inspired by Kit Kat

    Is it even possible to eat a Kit Kat bar without triggering that "Give me a break!" earworm from the '80s? Seems not. So our cure to keep us from humming "Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!" for the rest of the day is to bake up a batch of these shortbread cookies inspired by that breakably delicious candy.SHORTBREAD WAFER SANDWICHESStart to finish: 45 minutesServings: 181 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup sugar, plus extra

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