Building a Home Together

Why is it that some projects don't go according to our plans? I ponder this question as we plan our return to Indiana, where my husband and I have a building project in the works that has taken much longer than anticipated.

You may wonder why we need a home in two different cities...

My family moved to Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World when I was a little girl. My love of music and performing grew, taking me into the professional arena at seventeen, where my singing career began, followed by opportunities in various bands, musicals, production shows, commercials, television and film. I became Miss Nevada and the first non-classical singer ever to win a talent award in the Miss America Pageant.  Though my work took me around the world, I always returned home to my roots and my family in Las Vegas.

The youngest of six boys and the ninth child born out of twelve children, my husband was raised in Franklin, Indiana,  His parents were farmers and he dropped out of high school to help on the farm. At twenty-one he bought a gas station, started selling cars and recreational vehicles and loved drag racing. Eventually he built a thriving RV business and turned his passion for drag racing into creating a race team sponsored through his partnership with Winnebago Industries. He sold his dealership to Camping World six years ago, but he still owns commercial property and maintains his connection to racing by sponsoring a few of his friends, which keeps us traveling on the NHRA drag race circuit.

"Where thou art - that - is Home." ~Emily Dickinson

When we married we agreed 'the most important things in our life together is family and friends.' Our answer? Two  homes.

Sixteen years ago we bought our first home overlooking the 15th fairway in Canyon Gate Country Club, a golf course community in Las Vegas. The second home was down a winding road, nestled in the middle of a couple acres, surrounded by trees with a stream running through our backyard in Timber Heights, a community with gentle rolling hillsides in Greenwood, Indiana. Two totally different environments.

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
 A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest." ~Robert Montgomery

It wasn't long before we were building a new home in Las Vegas. We found two lots side by side overlooking the 18th fairway in the same community. It, took two years to plan and get everything set up with the building department before we broke ground, followed by three years to build. We fired the first contractor, because there were flaws in the framing. The design of the house was my responsibility along with the architect. When we finally moved in we were happy with the results, even though it was a long process, full of changes and numerous 'negotiations' for both my husband and me.

"It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home." ~Author Unknown

I'm surprised we made it through the first time! Now, here we are building another home in Indiana. This time we are building on six acres, where farmers once grew corn and soybeans. There is a large lake in our backyard shared with our neighbors. There are only ten homes in this development of custom homes, each with it's own unique qualities. We bought the last lot. Many of the owners have known my husband for over thirty years, so we have a built=in feeling of safety.

"Every house where love abides
 And friendship is a guest,
 Is surely home, and home sweet home
 For there the heart can rest.
"~Henry Van Dyke

One of the reasons projects don't always go according to plan is because they are subject to our fluctuating desires. We started out planning a one story and discovered in the process that my husband wanted to look out over the property from a second floor, so we started all over with our design. After several designs from the architect, we decided we loved the layout of our home in Las Vegas and after a few modifications we came up with a plan that fit our needs.

Even though the process has taken a long time, our new home is almost finished and we will be moving into it soon. We can see that all our efforts, including the frustrations, have been worth it. Though this project didn't go according to our plans, it took us on a journey and strengthened our relationship. After the furniture is placed, the window dressings frame our views and the last plants are planted, we look forward to many happy reunions with family and friends, as music and laughter flows from room to room and love fills our hearts and our new home.

"Building a life together is like building a home. We start with a strong foundation. We make plans, discuss our goals and make adjustments along the way. We live each day with the understanding that time will bring more changes as we continue to learn more about each other and ourselves. We let go of the old to make room for the new, redesigning our interiors and landscapes as as we grow, discovering treasures and adding them to our decor together, as we share our lives with family and friends."~Sandy Kastel

San Gennaro Feast at the Silverton Hotel in Las Vegas

Celebrate the San Gennaro Feast on May 4th & 5th! I'll be singing between 8:00 - 9:00 pm on the big stage each night along with other Las Vegas performers. Bring your family and join us for FOOD - FUN - ENTERTAINMENT!

Las Vegas  - The 32nd Annual San Gennaro Feast honoring the patron saint of Naples, Italy, will take place once again May 4th - May 8th at the Silverton Hotel Casino.

The semi-annual Feast has many amenities. There are over 300 hundred vendor booths as part of this outdoor festival, offering homemade Italian delights, such as homemade meatballs, Italian sausage & peppers, calzone, zeppole, cannoli, Italian water ice and much more along with arts and crafts and a huge display of amusement rides. TV personality / entertainer, Tony Sacca will host and coordinate the talent starting at 8 p.m. every night. Don't miss out on the best Italian Heritage Celebration this side of Naples.

On opening night Wednesday, May 4, Mom’s ride FREE on all carnival rides.  On Thursday, May 5, Dad’s ride FREE on all carnival rides. (A FREE $25 Value). Mayor Oscar Goodman and Caroline Goodman will make an appearance on Wednesday at 8 p.m. along with Grand Marshall - Pete Barbutti, Grand Lady - Lena Prima, and Great Grand Lady - Grandma Lee.  Every night, hundreds of dollars of San Gennaro Chips will be given away for food purchases, amusement rides and more offerings. Anthony Palmisano, CEO and President of the Society of San Gennaro Feast, is excited about what is in store this year. A fun atmosphere accompanied by “A Love Affair with Italy."

The San Gennaro Feast in Las Vegas takes place twice a year in May and September.  The martyr's blood, which is normally solidified and of a dark color, occasionally becomes liquid and reddish, starts frothing, bubbling up, and increasing in volume.  This usually occurs twice a year; on the first Sunday of May, the feast of the transfer of the Saint's relics; also on Sept. 19, the anniversary of his martyrdom.

San Gennaro Feast – Spring Schedule

Wednesday, May 4 & Thursday, May 5 (4 p.m. – 11 p.m) ……. Friday, May 6 (4 p.m. – midnight)

Saturday, May 7 (11 a.m. – midnight) ……Sunday, May 8 (11 a.m. - 11 p.m.)

Gates open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends.  Tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for seniors at the gate.  Children 54 inches and under are free.  SAVE NOW!! Pre-buy your discount tickets - no waiting in line…. visit us at www.sangennarofeast.com or call 702.227.0295.

Stanford says: Spending Time with Your Girlfriends is Good for Your Health

It makes sense!

This message was forwarded to me by one of my friends...

"I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it's very good for our health."

Listen to my version of Santa Baby

As the holidays near and you are looking for special albums to fill those stockings and songs to download to your ipod or mp3 player, you may wonder why I chose to record "Santa Baby."

In Wikipedia they say "the song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a Christmas list sung by a woman who wants the most extravagant gifts like sable, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany's."

For me as a woman, I feel it's important to have fun in a relationship and even though the gifts in the song are extravagant, "Santa Baby" really is more about the fun couples have "giving" to each other, whether it is in the day-to-day acts of affection or the little things they do for one another each day to show they care.

"Santa Baby," which was written in 1953 by Joan Javits (the niece of Senator Jacob K. Javits), Philip Springer, and Fred Ebb, captures that playfulness enjoyed by couples during the holidays when a man and a woman exchange gifts.

It has been a popular song for a long time and has been recorded by many female recording artists including Eartha Kitt, Madonna, Shakira, Macy Gray, Natalie Merchant, LeAnne Rimes, Kellie Pickler, Talor Swift & the Pussycat Dolls.

Recording "Santa Baby" was even more special for me because my father, saxophonist Dick Kastel, was able to join me on the session. At 81 he is still playing with big bands at least five days a week. Every opportunity I get to record another song with him is a blessing, just as it is a joy to receive artwork from my mother, Wanda Kastel, who at 78 is still drawing and painting.

I am thankful for my family, friends and wonderful fans who support me; blessed with all the opportunities in my life to do what I love, which is writing songs performing and sharing my music with audiences around the world.

My wish is that everyone finds joy, health and happiness in their lives throughout the year.

I hope you enjoy listening to my version of "Santa Baby."

Happy Holidays!

So Many Songs (so little time)

There are so many songs I love to sing made famous by great performers including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Ann Margret, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Bette Midler and others, that as I'm putting together material for my new show, it's a challenge to narrow them down to fit into a one hour show.

While working with my arranger Gary Anderson one afternoon he put a call into a few Broadway show arrangers, asking them which songs they liked the best. Everyone had a different idea.

After going through lists and lists of songs, I came up with this idea. Instead of using just one song to open my show, why not write a medley of my favorites? It's really a lot of fun to pull from the songs I heard while growing up in Las Vegas, watching those famous performers singing at Caesar's Palace, Hilton (formerly known as The International), Dunes, Frontier, Stardust, Bally's, Tropicana, Desert Inn, MGM (Streisand opened it - I was there!) and all the rest!

Life Choices - Putting the Pieces Together

Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together is being launched this Saturday at the Palace Station during the Vegas Voice Health, Wealth and Wellness Expo.

The authors will be speaking about their chapter and signing autographs. In addition, many of the authors from the first edition, Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths will be on hand to meet with fans and sign autographs.

Judi Moreo, the author who brought us all together for the series of inspirational books, will be opening the event and I will be the MC.

Come out and meet the authors!

Red Carpet Premier in Los Angeles

I'm really excited about this week and everything that is going on.

Right now, Im on my way now to the red carpet premier of "The Journey" with my mentor Judy Moreo at the Cinema City in LA.

Tuesday my version of Santa Baby was the most added song at AC radio for 3 weeks in a row!

On sunday I'm going to perform Santa Baby for the Merry Christmas Las Vegas show at Las Vegas Rocks Cafe for the benefit of "The Las Vegas Young Entertainers" which is part of the youth foundation for the performing arts.

Sandy Kastel Charms Select L.A. Crowd

Sandy Kastel Charms Select L. A. Crowd With Songs from Indiana Rain

Contributes Scholarship to Fund for Ambitious, Artistic Kids at Risk

(Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 28, 2010) Sandy Kastel enchanted a high-dollar crowd at the Legends of Soul concert Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills, which included Brenton Woods, Vermettya Royster (from The Sisters Love) and Brenda Holloway.

Janie Bradford, The Founder and producer of the Awards stated, "Sandy Kastel, HAL's 'blue eyed soul,' opened with the swinging classic "All of Me," followed by the powerful, "Cry Me a River," 'got down' on "Detours" and finished to rousing applause with "Don't Tell Me," songs from her new album.

PHOTO: L to R:
Berry Gordy, Founder of the Motown Record Company, Sandy Kastel

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