Archive for December, 2011

My Picks: Things to do in San Diego, December 17-18

| December 16, 2011

After a week of fashioning Holiday Gift Guides that promote charitable gifts, local businesses, and independent musicians, I’m burnt out. So, this weekend’s prix fixe menu of recommended things to do in San Diego is whittled down to three courses and topped off with the Chargers game.

Things-to-do-San-Diego-December-17-18

Saturday, December 17:

  • 12:00 p.m. Tis the season of sweet charity. Ruben Torres presents the 2nd annual “Love Thy Neighbor,” a toy and clothing drive for kids and families in Tijuana, Mexico. Hosted by Beto from 92.5, the FREE event takes place at The Spot in Barrio Logan until 6:00 p.m. There will be live tattooing and an art show with artists from Nittis Tattoo, a live performance by Karlos Paez of B Side Players, and more! Click here to see the YouTube video promoting the event.
  • 9:00 p.m. Attend a belated Grand Opening.. Submit yourself to day three of Tiger!Tiger!’s grand opening safari in North Park. Peer upon the Firestone Walker 14th and 15th anniversary beers that will be tapped side-by-side. Scope saucers of salivation-worthy food like Tiger!Tiger!’s Oyster Po’ Boy ($11) and Wood-Fire Banh Mi ($9). Then POUNCE! No pith helmet required.

Sunday, December 18:

  • 1:00 p.m. Hone your last-minute-shopping prowess. Need to stuff those stockings? Still looking for something to get your sister (or brother)? Then, head to the North Park Independent Bazaar taking place at Queen Bee’s until 6:00 p.m. Admission is FREE and there will be clothing, accessories, photography, bags, jewelry, cards, art, and more available for purchase from a variety of San Diego’s independent artisans and businesses. Gift one-of-a-kind; shop local!
  • 5:20 p.m. Chargers take on the Ravens at the Q. NBC’s Sunday Night Football is hosted by The Bolts and, somehow, there might still be a chance we can pull off a division title. If watching the game at home is too mellow for your taste, then consider amplifying your Yeahs and Ughs with tens more voices and catch the game at either Regal Beagle in Mission Hills or True North in North Park.

(Photo caption: Flyer for “Love Thy Neighbor” from the Connected with Ruben Torres Facebook page; photo of Tiger!Tiger! from the restaurant/bar’s website; flyer from Queen Bee’s website; Regal Beagle brand for the bar’s Facebook page; photo of True North Tavern from Pedal Pretty Cycle Chic’s website.)

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Holiday Gift Guide #3: Music from Indie Musicians

| December 15, 2011

To end this week’s blitz of gift ideas, I present a list of singer/songwriters who don’t produce their music on one of the Big 3 labels—Universal, Sony, Warner Brothers—or on any of the Big 3’s affiliates. As a result, when it comes to shopping at a big-box store, it’s easier to stumble upon a copy of The Situation’s book touting tips on “Creeping on Chicks” than it is to find the CDs of these independent melodious scribes.

Help take the turvy away from the topsy this holiday season and consider gifting an album from an independent musician!

independent-musicians_FINAL

This alphabetized-by-first-name list is also pictured above from left to right (album cover photos are from each respective musician’s website):

  • April Smith & The Great Picture Show. Spunky Americana dialed up with a 2010 wink. | website
  • Clara C. Acoustic pop that’s as lovely and warm as a hot hibiscus tea on a frosty morning. | website
  • Dirty Gold. After a listen, you’ll want to wipe the beach sand off your feet. | website
  • The Donkeys. If Kerouac’s On The Road had a soundtrack, it would include their songs. | website
  • Jane Lui. An artisan quilt of acoustic, electric, dixieland, choral, pop and Broadway. | website
  • Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations. Straw fedoras, cobblestone streets and breezy afternoons. | website
  • Katie Herzig. 2011’s Waking Sleep is cooler than Brad Pitt and Antarctica put together. | website
  • Lisa Hannigan. The playful pitter-patter of rain drops on windowsills, drains and asphalt. | website
  • Mattson 2. A dimly lit jazz lounge where the ashtrays always seem to need emptying. | website
  • Peter Bjorn & John. Indie rockers who prove that there’s more to Sweden than ABBA. | website
  • Real Estate. The flicker of old family films. Napping on grandma’s paisley-pattern couch. | website
  • tUnE-yArDs. Imagine Twlya Tharp’s choreography interpreted as music. | website

Need to save time? Don’t hesitate to buy an indie musician’s MP3 album since they’re all readily available on iTunes and Amazon. Just keep in mind that, unlike their physical counterparts, MP3 albums are sent to the gift-getter in a jiff. Maybe too jiffy, actually—the album is likely to appear in the gift recipient’s inbox before Christmas. So, should you go the MP3 album route, be sure to time the purchase just right (eg. “Send” the album(s) on either December 23 or December 24).

Got some time to spare? Consider calling one of your local, independent record stores to ask if they have the album you’re interested in giving in stock. If they do, well, you’ve just upped the ante on your independent business support. (Psst! If you live in San Diego, consider reaching out to M-Theory Music in Mission Hills, Cow Records in Ocean Beach, Off The Record in North Park, and/or Lou’s Records in Encinitas.)

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Holiday Gift Guide #2: Shop Indie (and Local) Online

| December 14, 2011

Once Black Friday hits, I avoid the Mission Valley area in San Diego. With its two malls a stone throw away from each other, there’s no getting in and out of that neighborhood on weeknights and weekends without cursing at people and inanimate objects alike.

Luckily, we have the internet. And equally lucky, we have Etsy.

In fact, Etsy trumps a visit to a Westfield Shopping Mall on a variety of counts. I can shop local without getting stuck in traffic or trolling for a parking spot. Plus, when I buy holiday presents from independent artisans and businesses, I’m able to provide holiday cheer on two levels: to the recipient of my gift and to the independent entrepreneur I purchased the gift from.

shop-local-etsy

Pictured above are some goodies that caught my eye on Etsy, each one made by and sold from a San Diego artisan (clockwise from top left):

  • A set of five chopstick rests ($14). At least once a month, my husband and I substitute one homemade meal with fresh nigiri sushi from our local Mitsuwa market. We stop in, peruse Mitsuwa’s “deli” section, make our selections, pay, and shoot back home. Sadly, while we have our own reusable chopsticks, we don’t have anything to rest them on in between bites. If you’re like us, then this small school of fish is just the ticket. Handmade by San Diego-based artist Sumiko Braithwaite, the chopstick rests are made of semi porcelain clay. (Photo from Sumiko’s shop on Etsy.)
  • Not Citizen Kane’s rosebud ($10). These sweet, cherry red rosebud earrings from Acute Designs add a nice pop of color to any femme outfit, particularly if one is wearing something navy blue and/or saturated yellow. Made of lucite, they measure in at about 12mm and are securely attached to nickel and lead-free earring posts. (Photo from Acute Design’s shop on Etsy.)
  • Wristwear sans the time ($28). This beautiful sable rhinestone bracelet cuff has got more drama than a telanovela (but without the harsh lighting). It’s the type of bait sure to snag a “Where’d you get that?” from strangers and the ever playful “I’m gonna steal that later” from friends. (Photo from Lucia Bella’s shop on Etsy.)
  • Yes, yetis can be cuddly ($22). Known as Sweet & Sour Goodies, these plush abominable snowmen are just one of many in the felt family made by Kristine Domingo. And, what Martha Stewart likes, you should at least consider. Last year, Domingo took the yetis’ ninja cousins to New York after winning a spot at Martha Stewart’s 2010 Holiday Craft Sale. (Photo from Sweet and Sour Goodies‘ shop on Etsy.)
  • A new way to spin Zeppelin ($24). Make someone’s hallway, office, or cubicle wall more interesting when you gift them a vinyl record wall clock from Records and Stuff. Owners John & Jill turn abandoned vinyls the likes of Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and others into time pieces fit for temporary and permanent room dividers. (Photo from Records and Stuff‘ shop on Etsy.)
  • Make a list and check it twice ($8). Artist Susie Ghahremani proves that notepads need not be humdrum, that productivity need not lack creativity. There are three versions of this to-do list notepad, each of which is ~50 pages thick and made from recycled paper: the pictured fox and bird notepad, an owl notepad, and a notepad featuring an octopus reading. (Photo from Boygirlparty’s shop on Etsy.)

“But ‘local’ for me isn’t San Diego. How do I shop local on Etsy if I live in LA? Seattle? Sarasota?” I got you covered. Just click here to check out my quick little online tutorial.

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Holiday Gift Guide #1: Give In The Name Of

| December 13, 2011

It has become a Christmas tradition for my husband and I to donate to charitable causes on behalf of our close family and each other.

We got the idea a few years ago, after watching “Long Way Down,” a television documentary show that followed actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on their 2007 motorcycle journey from John O’Groats, Scotland, to the Southern most tip of Africa—Cape Agulhas—and then on to Cape Town. Along the way, McGregor and Boorman made time to help out at several UNICEF-sponsored projects and to share the stories of the kids they met, kids who were resilient and forward-looking despite living in tough and desperate environments.

Since then, my husband and I felt compelled to help those kids and communities, too. So, we looked up UNICEF. From there, I learned about more amazing non-profit organizations—The FEED Foundation, Charity: Water, International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Pencils of Promise to name just a few.

What I especially appreciate about each of these groups is how they provide an alternative to simply donating a sum of money. Now, if you want to, you can choose how your donation will be used.

charity-gift-ideas

Here are some examples (pictured clockwise starting from the top left):

  • Gift a community garden. For $60 (aka two-thirds the cost of an Amazon Kindle), you can donate a garden, community and a livelihood to refugees settling in the US via the IRC.
  • Gift nutrition. For $30.30, you can donate 900 sachets of Multiple Micronutrient Powder which UNICEF uses to help combat child malnutrition. Per UNICEF, “Where families simply cannot access a range of nutritious food, a one gram sachet can be added to any type of meal daily, to deliver the optimal dose of vitamins and minerals for a young child.”
  • Gift water. For $20, you can get a loved one a hip tee* while also funding Charity: Water’s operations. In doing so, you help Charity: Water bring clean drinking water to clinics and hospitals, schools, and communities around the world. (*NOTE: The 2013 tee is different from the one pictured which is from 2011.)
  • Gift emergency food. AS OF 2013: UNICEF biscuits are no longer an inspired gift. But you can still gift other emergency food via UNICEF.
  • Gift a flock of chickens. AS OF 2013: The IRC no longer provides chickens as a gift. But for $50, you can gift a baby goat.
  • Gift a vaccine. For $28.60, you can save children from the risk of permanent physical and mental disability, even death, with a purchase of UNICEF’s Measles Vaccine. One $24 purchase provides vaccines for 80 children!
  • Gift education. For $52, you can give one child a year of school via the IRC.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with donating straight out to worthwhile organizations like Charity: Water, The FEED Foundation, UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, and Pencils of Promise.

It’s simply a matter of preference. It’s literally all good.

charity-logos

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A Night With Sezio, MIHO Gastrotruck, and Starlite

| December 12, 2011

289777_10150383291726701_7238221700_8591065_483059946_oIf Sezio, MIHO Gastrotruck, and Starlite each had their own circle in a Venn Diagram, the space where all three intersect is Luce Loft. This Thursday, December 15, from 7:00-11:00 p.m., Sezio celebrates the launch of its 2012 Membership Program with a group art show and fundraiser at the East Village event space.

According to Sezio’s event page, the get-together is FREE to attend and open to everyone, including those who might not necessarily become an official Sezio cohort. That said, if you are interested in joining the Sezio fold for 2012, this will be your chance to purchase Sezio’s 2012 membership kit for only $40, which was curated and designed by Wes Bruce. (After December 15, membership will be $50.)

MIHO Gastrotruck will be parked on J Street to serve up vittles both delectable and sustainable. Personally, I’m eyeing the Mashed Potato Burger ($8.45) from this week’s menu. Made up of grass-fed beef, mashed potato, gravy, cheddar, and local arugula on a local gourmet bun, the Mashed Potato Burger has the makings of a holiday feast in each bite. And though there is the option to add bacon to the burger, I plan on saving my crispified pork intake for MIHO’s buttery and chewy Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookie ($1.75).

To help quench the thirsts of we occasional lushes, Starlite will set up a pop up bar in Luce to craft Moscow Mules (Rain Organic Vodka, ginger beer, lime, Angostura bitters) and Kentucky Colonels (Buffalo Trace bourbon, ginger beer, lemon juice and house-made cherry vanilla bitters). Methinks I’ll have room on my dance card for both.

Sound like a good time? You betcha. Live long and Sezio.

(Illustration from Sezio’s Facebook event page. Illustration by Wes Bruce.)

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