Archive for November, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Activities

| November 27, 2013

My husband and I are excited to host our first Thanksgiving. Ever! In fact, it’s the first holiday we’re hosting in our new home.

Joining us at our table tomorrow will be his sister and her family, who have driven down from San Francisco, his parents and my parents. My husband and I are making as much as we can today in order to make time to chat and nibble with our guests tomorrow, and doing so has a happy side effect: It already smells like Thanksgiving!

All that said, I’m also looking forward to what happens after Thursday. After all of the preparation, execution, and cleanup, I plan to steal some time on Saturday and Sunday to remember what it’s like to do this:

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While I know there are many sales drawing you out this weekend, including The Goods Show, I hope you remember to take some time this weekend to slow down, too.

Until then: Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hunger Game: A Thanksgiving-Themed Pub Quiz

| November 26, 2013

It has become a tradition at my day job to compete in a friendly game of wits twice a week.

Known as “Ten-Minute Trivia,” the game session is set up in pub-quiz fashion. One person reads out trivia questions to a room full of participants, each of whom has a sheet of paper on which they write down their answers. Once the quiz has been taken, people trade sheets, answers are graded, and the person with the most correct answers wins.

There are no prizes. Just one winner and bragging rights.

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The task of coming up with the 10-question-minimum quiz rotates among those who play frequently and yesterday was my turn. As quiz maker, you decide whether or not the quiz will have a theme and whether there will be bonus questions. Since it’s almost turkey day, my quiz had a Thanksgiving theme and included two bonus questions, giving participants the chance to earn 12 points max.

Yesterday’s winner scored seven points. The average score among the rest of the crew was three points. Of course, there were grumblings.

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There were also inventive ways of responding.

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Want to take a crack at it? Here you go!

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  1. In the Season 6 Thanksgiving episode of “Friends,” Rachel makes a trifle that includes a layer of food not normally included in a trifle. What’s the uncommon trifle layer made of? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

    Bonus question: What does Ross say the trifle tastes like? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

  2. Which of these Thanksgiving films did John Hughes direct? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

    A. Dutch
    B. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
    C. Home for the Holidays
    D. Son-In-Law

  3. The turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving are descendants of the Wild Turkey species. Which continent do Wild Turkeys come from? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  4. Complete this lyric in Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Song” with the correct 1940s celebrity: “Love to eat the turkey at the table. I once saw a movie with ________.” | CLICK FOR ANSWER

    Bonus question: Name one of the five other famous people mentioned in the original SNL version of the “Turkey Song.” (Note: You only get 1 point for a correct answer even if you’re able to list all of the other five people.) | CLICK FOR ANSWER

  5. This Thursday is also the start of Chanukah. What is the mash-up term coined just this year to describe this rare convergence of holidays? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  6. Which two NFL teams play every Thanksgiving? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  7. Which of the following is the actual title to a Peanuts Thanksgiving TV Special? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

    A. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
    B. Time for Turkey, Charlie Brown!
    C. Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Tales
    D. It’s Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!

  8. Which 20th century president signed into law the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  9. In the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Thanksgiving episode, “Pangs,” who does the vengeful Native American spirit curse with the diseases brought over by the Europeans? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  10. Which Cartoon Network animated show will have a balloon debut in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

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>> How did you do? Was it too hard? Too easy? Let me know in the comments! <<
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Artisan Marshmallows from Oakland, CA

| November 25, 2013

Guinness® Stout. Baileys® Irish Cream. Crème de menthe. Though they sound like the components to an interesting craft cocktail, they’re in fact the subdued stars of plump artisan marshmallows from Sugar Knife, an online confectionary based out of Oakland.

Curious, I ordered three different flavors to see how they would pair with hot chocolate. After all, San Diego has entered that time of year when the weather outside is frightful to us (the 50s), and I like to stay warm with a steamy mug of milk infused with cocoa.

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Before dropping each one in to mugs of Mexican hot chocolate made with Ibarra, I tasted each marshmallow as is.

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And… they don’t taste anything like booze. Rather, the Baileys® made the creaminess in the “Cookies and C.R.E.A.M.” more pronounced, the Guinness® Stout made the chocolate flavor of “The Black Irish” complex while adding a tinge of bitterness, and the mint from the crème de menthe in “The Two Night Stand” hovered just under the radar without leaving a spearmint aftertaste the way fresh mint does.

Because they’re artisan, they didn’t leave a pasty feeling in my mouth the way mass-produced marshmallows do. But, because they’re artisan, they include other unexpected ingredients you wouldn’t usually expect in a marshmallow. For instance, “The Black Irish” is topped with crushed pretzels and the “Cookies and C.R.E.A.M.” is dotted with bits of Oreo-like cookies.

These additions can be hit or miss or both, depending on your preferences. The crushed pretzels on “The Black Irish” were a tad stale and I wondered if they’re inclusion for texture (and the marshmallow’s pub-inspired theme) was worth it. But the chocolate cookie crumbs in the “Cookies and C.R.E.A.M.” were a delight, adding crunch and color to the otherwise soft and white marshmallow.

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(Tableware: White square appetizer plate – Crate & Barrel / Striped mugs – Starbucks)

Once added to my Mexican hot chocolate, the “Cookies and C.R.E.A.M.” blossomed. The vanilla broke through like sunlight on a cloudy day, doing a great job of complimenting the cinnamon spices of the cocoa.

The mint in “The Two Night Stand” seemed to drown, succumbing to the weight of the creme de cacao layer and to the hot chocolate. The only way to revive and appreciate the mintiness was to use a spoon to cut out pieces of the green layer from under the cocoa’s surface.

And “The Black Irish” was like the number 11 on Spinal Tap’s Marshall speakers. It turned up the chocolate in the drink, giving each sip over to something richer and more velvety.

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Overall, my favorite of the three flavors I ordered was the “Cookies and C.R.E.A.M.” and it has made me curious about Sugar Knife’s other vanilla-based flavor, the “Hella Frangelica.”

A six-pack of marshmallows currently runs $7 before shipping. And, by the way, Sugar Knife’s customer service is swell. Not only are the marshmallows made to order, but if there’s any mishap in delivery, owner Jenna Keys will personally make sure that everything is quickly remedied. Match that with the artisan sweets she makes and you’ve got the makings of an awesome small batch food company.

***
Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets is based out of Oakland, California. As of this posting, a half-dozen order of marshmallows costs $7. Visit Sugar Knife’s website for current prices and products.

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Black Friday, The Goods Show and ARTS

| November 21, 2013

If you’re spending Thanksgiving weekend in San Diego and you’re into shopping on Black Friday, here’s a tip on where to score unique, creative gifts while avoiding Fashion Valley, Mission Valley, and all of the other Westfield malls all together.

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(Flyer designed by MSMB and published on The Goods Show Facebook page.)

As always, reading the fine print helps. In case you only scanned the above flyer, here are the nuggets you should make sure you know:

  • The Goods Show will take place at Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center in North Park. That’s 3925 Ohio Street, San Diego, CA 92104, just one block northeast of University Avenue.
  • The event will last for eight hours. It begins at noon and runs until 8:00 p.m.
  • The first 30 people in the door at The Goods Show get a gift bag. Who doesn’t like getting a bag full of free stuff before it’s even December? It’s like a Christmas / Chanukah / Kwanzaa pre-game.
  • There’s an entry fee, proceeds of which go to a local charity. The entry fee is an easy $5 which goes towards supporting A Reason To Survive (ARTS), a San Diego nonprofit that uses art as a tool for transforming the lives of children and youth facing adversity. In fact, the documentary short that followed the life and transformation of a former ARTS student won the 2013 Oscar for Best Documentary Short.
  • There will be free craft beer. San Diego’s own Hess Brewing and Automatic Brewing Co. are hosting pours of their beers to shoppers who are old enough to drink them.
  • There’s a promo code you can use for free transportation. Have you ever heard of Uber? It’s an app that connects you with with a driving service. Forget calling a random taxi service and hoping the cab shows up in a half-hour. Uber uses the GPS on your smartphone to connect you with the nearest driver in the Uber network. It also lets you track the location of the driver to your location. And all transactions, including tip, happen via the app before you even set foot in the car. That’s the bang you get for your buck, and with the promo code “Blackfridayart,” your first ride using Uber is free up to $20. By the way: You don’t need to use the promo code on Black Friday or in San Diego. It’s good until the end of next year and you can use it in any U.S. city with Uber service.
  • The after parties are in walking distance. Seven Grand and Bar Pink are hosting after parties for the event and they’re only a few blocks away from Queen Bee’s. If you aren’t into walking, remember that Uber promo code I mentioned?

For detailed info on all of the artists and vendors schlepping their goods at The Goods Show, make sure to “like” and scope The Goods Show Facebook page.

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Toasting Farra Miron, The Hostess Haven

| November 19, 2013

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For my article published in the December 2013 issue of San Diego Magazine, “The Glass Menagrie,” I had the pleasure of sitting down with Farra Miron, owner of The Hostess Haven, a tableware and barware rental service based in San Diego. During our conversation, she explained what triggered the idea for her business, why her mom is her hospitality role model, and how she found all of the chic glasses, stemware, plates and flatware that occupy open shelves in her garage-turned-stockroom.

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“I do play in here,” Farra said as we stood among the pieces she has collected thus far for The Hostess Haven. “It’s awesome.”

Although The Hostess Haven is frequently tapped by wedding planners and stylists, the collection isn’t solely reserved for large-scale events. Farra also lends her supplies to those hosting smaller get-togethers. After all, the business idea bloomed out of her own experience of hosting Thanksgiving for about 35 friends in 2012.

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She can also help style the tabletop. “Most often, I’ll pull items based on the client’s vision and then we work together to get the pieces right,” explained Farra. “From that point, I’ll either carry out their vision or I’ll deliver to them to design just how they like.”

Come 2014, Farra hopes to expand her business to include an online shop from which she’ll sell small batch food items, vintage wares and new pieces that have what Farra refers to as the I’m-in-my-mom’s-kitchen look. Expect pieces in brass, pewter, wood, ceramic, quartz and stone.

She’ll also blog more frequently, sharing ideas and tips on entertaining at home, recipes, table decor and hostess fashion and style.

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In the end, Farra’s business stems from an appreciation for gathering with friends and family. “I will forever love the idea of sitting after dinner with no TV, just after-dinner drinks, cozy rooms and conversation for hours,” she said. “I’m the first person who wants my house to be clean and nice for everyone else, but I also think that letting your guard down a little bit more by opening up your home and just having that genuine connection is important.”

To see what you can borrow from Farra for your holiday table, visit The Hostess Haven. To read my profile of her for San Diego Magazine, which includes her list of eight entertaining tips, click here.

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