Archive for October, 2013

Persimmon Picking In Escondido

| October 30, 2013

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“I think Christine only came out to take photos,” teased my dad. It certainly seemed that way.

This past weekend, my husband and I accompanied our parents to El Rancho Encantado, a ranch off the 15 freeway on the outskirts of Escondido. I’d never been to a grove to pick fruit before. At least, not intentionally. My parents have photos of us picking cherries during a time I was too young to remember. I was probably 2 or 3 in the pictures and purple-red juice can be seen dripping off of my chin onto the yellow t-shirt I wore. It’s a memory my parents couldn’t help but share with my husband and in-laws as we picked persimmons last Saturday morning.

Since I’m a city slicker with a blog, taking pictures on a blue-sky morning out in the country of San Diego County was a no-brainer. But my dad’s comment snapped me out of my view-finder vision long enough to remind me to be present, appreciate this time with my immediate family and enjoy each moment. Like when my mom pulled a MacGyver by fashioning a natural hook out of a long, Y-shaped stick and using it to bend out-of-reach branches down to us so that we could pick the ripe persimmons from the treetops. Genius!

We were at El Rancho Encantado from around 10 a.m. to around noon, but we really only spent the first half hour picking. According to the harvest calendar put out by the Farm Bureau of San Diego County, harvest time for persimmons runs until December. So the pickings were prime. The rest of the time was spent exploring nut trees and other fruit trees on the ranch, chatting under the tree canopy and tasting some of our haul.

I’d hoped to leave with at most 6 pounds of persimmons to finally try out a persimmon chutney recipe I was given two years ago by Sara Friedman, head chef of MIHO Gastrotruck. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of the Fuyu fruit. With 6 pounds, I figured I could take the recipe on a test run before deciding whether or not I want to adapt it for a future post and for Thanksgiving with the family.

Thanks to both my mom’s and my mother-in-law’s love of picking fruit just for the sake of picking fruit, our shared haul came out to somewhere around 100 pounds! Mercifully, the ranch’s going rate for the load was $1 per 3 pounds, so the cost split among my parents, in-laws, and my husband and I was totally reasonable.

Still, I’m left with a lot more Fuyu than I need. So I’m on the lookout for more persimmon recipes. Got one? Leave word in the comments!

***
El Rancho Encantado | 10110 W. Lilac Rd., Escondido, CA 92026 | Check their website often for info on the status of their crops and their current hours of operation.

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Lone Flag Opens in Del Mar on November 1

| October 28, 2013

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San Diego-based illustrator and fashion blogger Kelli Murray and husband Sam Larson are opening up a retail shop in Del Mar on Friday, November 1. Dubbed Lone Flag, the boutique located in the Flower Hill Promenade will feature premium brands with a focus on American made goods and denim, as stated on the shop’s Instagram feed. Much of it will be fellas-focused, with clothing from the likes of THVM, 3sixteen, Rogue Territory and Wolf & Man to name a few, but there will also be room on the racks and open shelves for a curated collection of home wares, accessories from brands like Young Frankk, and women’s clothing.

By the photos of the finished space that have recently been posted on Lone Flag’s Instagram and the sneak peek offered up in Kelli’s blog post “Lone Flag: The Beginning,” it’s pretty clear that the shop will become a North County bastion of style.

I’ve been a fan of Kelli’s fashion sense for a while now as well as her keep-on-swimming approach to life. “If there’s anything we’ve learned in this life, it’s that there’s no reward without risk,” she says about herself and Sam in her aforementioned post. “We envision this not only being a place where we sell products from brands and artisans that we love and stand behind, but also developing Lone Flag as a vertical brand in 2014.” Translation: They will eventually design a line of clothing bearing the Lone Flag label.

I look forward to searching for wares at Lone Flag and wish nothing but the best to such a hard-working SD couple on this new adventure!

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***
Lone Flag | 2690 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014 | Follow their Instagram feed for the latest info on the hours of operation of the retail store and the launch status of their online store.

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Pumpkin Goes Well With… Chipotle?

| October 24, 2013

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How about white chocolate? Cranberries? At Bread & Cie Bakery and Café, the answer is quite simply, “Yes.” To all of it. Together.

Known as the Pumpkin White Chocolate Chipotle Cranberry Slice, this moist mash-up can be spied inside the Hillcrest café’s dessert display case. And as if that ingredient marquee wasn’t daring enough, there’s its serving size. When used to describe food, “slice” is usually applied to something easily eaten in one sitting, something more wide than thick. Slice of pizza. Slice of bread. Slice of watermelon.

This?

Christine-Pasalo-Bread-and-Cie-Pumpkin-Bread-2-450px This is a slab.

At this point, I hope you’ve figured out that when I use “chipotle,” I’m not referring to the faux-Mexican burrito chain.

In this dessert (or breakfast pastry, or afternoon snack), the heat offered by the chipotle doesn’t register on first bite. Like the lighting in a movie theater when a film is about to start, the spice notes are dim, subdued so as not to distract from what’s on screen. In this case, it’s the vanilla of the white chocolate, a flavor that reminds me of my short-lived obsession for the once popular Nestle Crunch White.

From there the scene dissolves into cinnamon and a little bit of maple before cutting to the memory of tartness in thumbnail-sized cranberry pieces. But just as the flavors mingle, they also begin to fade and your taste buds are turned over to a family unrelated to “sweet.”

It starts like the flickering of a light, one that happens so quickly that you second-guess whether you noticed what you noticed. Then a warmth creeps into the back of your tongue and into your throat. Hello chipotle!

The spicy zing lingers for a minute until slowly diminishing like Britney Spears’ career, aptly leaving you at a crossroads. Do you wait until the heat is completely gone before taking another stab at it, or do you throw caution to the headwinds and dive?

In the end, this “slice” of pumpkin white chocolate cranberry chipotle bread is every bit of the $2.95 it costs, particularly because you can eat half of it at Bread & Cie and take the rest home.

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Bread & Cie Bakery and Café | 350 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 | Open Monday thru Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. | One-hour free parking is available behind the café, off of 4th Avenue.

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Halloween DIY: Swarming Bats

| October 21, 2013

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The last time Halloween felt normal was in 1996. It was my senior year in high school, the last year I lived at home, and kids in costume would ring our doorbell while politely hollering the traditional blackmail threat for candy. I’d open the door and often see pre-tweens, their pumpkin tubs halfway lifted to bashfully mime for the Snickers and Kit Kats my parents were doling out, and as I’d pay each one their ransom, I’d compliment their Halloween transformation. I loved it.

During the UCSD years that followed, I knew that parents wouldn’t take kids trick-or-treating through the residential halls and apartment buildings on campus. So, post university, I hoped Halloween would revert back to normal once I had moved into a residential neighborhood in an apartment of my own. But nope: Trick-or-treaters are shooed past apartments in general.

Thankfully, this year will be different! My husband and I live in a house on a street where kids ride their bikes and scooters up and down the sidewalks on weekday afternoons. And since we expect to hear our doorbell ring starting around 5 p.m. on October 31, we decided to give our stoop a Halloween makeover by turning it over to a swarm of paper bats.

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The idea is from a Country Living slideshow called “Halloween Decorating Ideas from a Spooky Home.” I’m not actually in the habit of reading Country Living, but Pinterest is a wonderful thing.

The slideshow provides a link to a free PDF template of half of a bat wing and Country Living recommends resizing a print copy of the template on a photocopier to get the variety of sizes needed for the flock of bats.

Luckily, I have Photoshop and I know how to use it. So I created two PDFs using Country Living’s template: one for small- and medium-sized bat wings and one for large-sized bat wings. I also decided to print the templates out on white card stock just to give me a little more teeth when I traced them.

As for the material to cut the bats from, Country Living recommends stiffened felt. I opted for black card stock because it’s less expensive and less labor intensive than stiffened felt. (A 50-sheet pack of Recollections 65lb, 8.5″ x 11″ black card stock only ran me $3.99 at my local Michaels. Sheets of 12″ x 18″ stiffened felt from Country Living-recommended createforless.com runs $1.44/sheet if ordering 1-5 sheets and $0.99/sheet if ordering 6 sheets or more.) Since these bats will have to weather the outdoors for more than a few days, I don’t recommend using black construction paper because it’s too thin.

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Our colony is made up of 35 bats in nine different sizes, cut from 13 sheets of black card stock. I cut out nine bats in size 1 and seven bats in size 2 since these sizes do the best job of creating a forced perspective, especially when taped close to the largest bats.

The time it took to cut out each bat amounted to a commercial-free episode of Frasier on Netflix, the director’s cut of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with cast commentary, and a quiet Sunday morning to myself while my husband was out mountain biking Mission Gorge trails with a friend.

Put another way, it took about four hours to cut the bats out by myself. I’m sure that if you recruit at least two people to help, be they kids who know to be safe with scissors or crafty friends who will oblige for glasses of wine, you could shave the cutting time to a little more than an hour.

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Using 3M’s heavy duty, no residue “TOUGH duct tape” that I picked up at Lowe’s ($8.98), I put up a few bats, stepped back to get a sense of my overall progress, then taped up a few more. After an hour, the colony was complete.

I found that it helps to start the swarm from behind something, just to give them some added perspective. In my case, the bats look like they’re approaching from some imaginary place behind a haystack.

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In the end, this craft project cost about $15 (because of the kind of duct tape I bought) and took me five hours to complete on my own. Looking at our stoop from the sidewalk, I think the trick-or-treaters will appreciate the effort.

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DIY Halloween Bat Colony (adapted from the “Haunted Home” craft project in Country Living)

White Card Stock
Black Card Stock, at least 8.5″ x 11″
Heavy duty duct tape
Scissors
Pencil
Templates for small- and medium-sized bats
Templates for large-sized bats
***

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Frock You Vintage’s Bi-Monthly Sale

| October 15, 2013

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And by “bi-monthly,” I mean that Frock You Vintage, one of my favorite vintage shops in San Diego, hosts their “Huge Frocking Sale” every other month not twice a month (I wish!)

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I prefer to stop by on the Sunday of the sale when practically everything sold outside by Frock You–clothes, accessories, shoes–is 50% off. Notice the italicized detail of that last sentence.

It’s like this: First, the “Huge Frocking Sale” only applies to the clothing and wares outside of the actual building; everything inside the building is still full price. Second, Frock You invites a few other vendors in- and outside of San Diego to participate in the bi-monthly Huge Frocking Sale and, from what I can tell, visiting vendors aren’t obligated to offer their stock at a reduced price on Sunday.

Most times, Frock You items bear Frock You price tags. But whenever you can’t tell whether a piece is being sold by Frock You or by a guest vendor, simply ask those manning the outdoor register area.

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During this visit, I kept in mind some lessons I learned from Elsie Larson of the blog A Beautiful Mess in her 2011 post, “Elsie’s Thrift Tips”:

  • “Keep a running list of wants & needs.” I applied the first tip of Elsie’s list by focusing on the most lackluster aspect of my wardrobe as of late: tops. Not a tee or a tank but something that acknowledges that I made a little bit of an effort. I also have too much blue in my closet. So, I made a mental note to target cute tops that weren’t blue, T-shirts or tank tops. And if I found a dress I loved that could work for running errands or meeting up with friends, get it.
  • “Be prepared.” Tip number 6 from Elsie was useful in two ways. First, I made sure to wear my black skinny jeans since I wanted any top I bought to work with them. Second, my husband reminded me to show up to the sale with cash. While Frock You accepts credit cards, the visiting vendors find it easiest to deal with the green.
  • “Keep an open mind.” Elsie’s third tip helped me consider colors and patterns I usually turn away from. By coupling the thought with a tip I still follow from the recently defunct TLC show “What Not to Wear”–Try it on!–I was able to find a thatched-print, boat neck, short-sleeved top and a collared, daffodil-yellow dress. I also scored what I’m calling my Cosby sweater (pictured below on the left) which looked questionable until I put it on.
  • “If in doubt, don’t” and “Question each purchase.” One piece I’d love to add to my wardrobe is a kimono cardigan and I thought I found a candidate. Upon trying it on, though, I noticed that the seams at the cuffs of the sleeves were haphazardly hand-sewn and, even at 50% off, would run $15. Everything else I was set on buying was running $10 or less. So I bravely placed the kimono on the “put back” rack.
  • “Don’t forget the little things.” I didn’t and I was rewarded when I found a sweet little apron (pictured below on the right). I’ve admired aprons like these for years now, the kind that look like vintage skirts, but never bought one because I couldn’t justify the price (some run in the $30s!) This darling orange-and-white checkered number? It was $6 after the discount.

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Having gone on the Sunday of the sale, my total haul–dress, top, sweater, apron–cost $29 flat.

Bummed you missed out? You’re in luck! By my count, the last Huge Frocking Sale of the year will fall in December. To make sure I’m right, I follow Frock You on Facebook. Alternatively, you can sign up for the shop’s newsletter to find out when the next sale will run.

To read all ten of Elsie Larson’s thrift tips, visit A Beautiful Mess.

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