A Gift-Filled Countdown to Christmas: Alleviating The Stress of Last Minute Holiday Shopping

With only ten days until Christmas morning, and with much anticipation of seeing the joy on your loved one’s face as they unwrap the perfect gift. We are counting down to Christmas, showcasing our top picks for 2015. With our wide selection of gifts you will be sure to find that special something for everyone on your list.

 

December 15, 2015 – December 17, 2015
Gifts for the Technophile

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Mophie Juice Pack

Staples 875 S. Arroyo Pkwy.,
Pasadena, CA 91105 / $99-$119
Busy days call for a fully powered cell phone! Mophie Juice Pack is perfect for extending the usage time of your mobile device.

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Go Pro Hero4 Black Version

Pasadena Cyclery, 1670 E. Walnut St.,
Pasadena, CA 91106 / $499.99
Not just for the adventure seeker! The Go Pro Hero4 is ruggedly practical and produces professional quality footage.

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Apple Watch

Apple Store, 54 W. Colorado Blvd.,
Pasadena, CA 91105 / $549-$1,099
Who doesn’t want a computer on their wrist? The Apple Watch is every technophiles dream.

December 18, 2015 – December 20, 2015
Gifts for the Top Chef

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Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Williams-Sonoma, 142 S. Lake Ave.,
Pasadena, CA 91101 / $130-$500
A chef’s essential tool for side dishes and one pot meals.

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Balsamic Vinegar

Beyond the Olive, 120 S. Raymond Ave.,
Pasadena, CA 91105 / $9
The perfect condiment for any meal, it makes dull dishes deliciously flavorful.

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Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circulator

Sur La Table, 161 W. Colorado Blvd.,
Pasadena, CA 91105 / $199.95
State of the art cookware is the perfect choice for the modern Chef.

December 21, 2015 – December 23, 2015
Gifts for the World Tripper

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Vianel Passport Holder
Barneys New York, 869 Americana Way,
Glendale, CA 91210 / $160-$390
The jet setter needs to look great while traveling; this minimalistic chic passport holder is the perfect accessory.

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The New York Times: 36 Hours USA and Canada

Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd.,
Pasadena, CA 91101 / $39.99
Make traveling easy for your loved one with a compilation of North America’s and Canada’s hot spots.

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Fig+Yarrow Facial Serum
Figandyarrow.com / $20
After a 15-hour flight from Paris, who doesn’t need a few drops of reparative serum?

-Fernando Cerda

Explore The Gold Line – Del Mar Station

Discover the unknown of Del Mar Station as you venture off the track to find a few of Pasadena’s hidden gems.

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The Luggage Room Pizzeria

Enjoy of gourmet wood-fired pizza on your stop at the Del Mar Station. This elegant pizzeria invites you in with its crystal chandeliers, but keeps you coming back with its mouth-watering pizzas with equally as tasty toppings including roasted tomatoes, shaved fennel, lemon zest and homemade mozzarella.

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La Grande Orange Café

Kale is rising in popularity so there is no doubt you will find it on the menu at La Grande Orange Café. The shredded kale and quinoa salad is one of the best found around town. But, if you’re looking for something a little less healthy, try the tender short ribs, served on fresh, homemade tortillas, or in hash form with potatoes and two over easy eggs.

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Stone Brewing

Quench your thirst at one of Pasadena’s best-kept little secrets. Save the two-hour drive to San Diego for their notorious craft beer and get your favorite Stone Brew right here at the Del Mar Station plaza. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this nondescript location; you won’t want to miss it.

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Stats Floral Supply

Get in to any holiday spirit by visiting Stats. They carry all your decorating needs from Halloween supplies to cute Christmas snowmen. If you’re looking to outdo your neighbor this holiday season, stop in and stock up.

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Distant Lands

Before your next big adventure, find all your essentials at Distant Lands. Whether you’re trekking through the mountains, venturing abroad, or going on a weekend getaway, this travel-centric shop has everything you need from maps to clothing.

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Incycle Bicycles 

If you’re looking to burn off a couple extra calories after the holidays try going for a bike ride as an alternative to the gym. A leisurely ride around Pasadena’s Central Park on a trendy cruiser is a fun and effective activity. But, if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, Incycle also has both mountain and road bikes for the thrill seekers.

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Neon Retro Arcade

Play all your old gaming favorites likes Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong at the Neon Retro Arcade. Bring in the whole family to show them what being a kid for you was like as you relive the memories. The best part about this arcade is that it’s “free play” for just $10 per hour.

Pick Me Up

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Flour+Tea

This stop is a tea house-bakery hybrid café that serves delicious teas in many flavors. It doesn’t stop there; they also have artisan cakes and mochi bread that are simply delightful. If you’re in need for a quick energy booster, stop in for their afternoon tea (Mon.-Thurs., 1 p.m.-4 p.m.), which includes a small tea with a cake slice or two cloud pastries, sure to get the job done.

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– Caitlin Pallotta

Jingle In the Holiday Season

 The holidays are always the best time of the year. Make this season one of your favorites by celebrating with the city of Pasadena at some of our special holiday themed events.

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South Lake Avenue Annual Holidayfest

Kick off the holidays with a family fun day at The Shops on Lake Avenue! This free holiday festival will feature in-store specials and promotions at over 50 South Lake Pasadena merchants, photos with Santa, roaming characters, horse and carriage rides, live musical performances, carolers, holiday crafts, kids activities, a themed scavenger hunt, giveaways and more! The special outdoor performances include indie synth group DWNTWN, and the unique bluegrass, blues soul collective The Dustbowl Revival. Don’t miss this event to start the season on Saturday, December 5th from 12-5 p.m. Visit www.southlakeavenue.org for more information.

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One Colorado Happy Holidays Party

One Colorado wants you to start your holiday season with them! Enjoy a night of dancing to live music from the Jazz band Leftover Cuties. There will be a photo booth to capture the holiday memories and mini cupcakes and milk for that sweet treat craving. The One Colorado Charles Cherniss Tournament of Toys collection drive, which provides gifts to 3,000 disadvantaged children throughout the San Gabriel Valley will also be kicked off that night, so don’t forget to bring a toy! You won’t want to miss this event on Saturday, December 5th from 6-8 p.m. Visit http://www.oldpasadena.org/ for more information.

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Artisanal LA Holiday Market

Join Artisanal LA in Old Pasadena to celebrate the holidays! Eat, drink, and be merry at this year’s Artisanal LA Holiday Market. This all-day market will feature 150 local makers and chefs that are European market-inspired to give you the best shopping and maker experience this holiday season. Bring friends and family to enjoy this day of fun and start the season with joy and happiness. This event will take place Saturday, December 5th from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Visit https://www.sponseasy.com/ for more information.

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Live on Green – Free Family Festival in Pasadena

Be one of the first to experience this free festival in the three days leading up to the Rose Parade! For the first time Live on Green will take place and feature different themed activities honoring the history of Pasadena, the Rose Parade, and the National Parks Service. Take the kids to The Family fun Zone and play games, watch street performers, and eat at the sidewalk cafes that have kid-friendly food and drinks. Don’t worry, there is also food and beverages just for adults provided by Chef Ben Ford and other special guests. Don’t miss the live entertainment: strolling musicians, sing-a-longs, flash performances, and bands recording songs in the Jam Van! Three days of fun starting Tuesday, December 29th from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Visit http://www.visitpasadena.com/ for more information.

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– Caitlin Pallotta

Farm Fresh Delicacies

If you’re looking for fresh food and locally grown produce at a decent price to make homemade holiday meals this season, try looking at Farmers’ Markets rather than the grocery store. Here are three local Pasadena Farmers’ Markets you will be sure to love.

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Old Pasadena Farmers’ Market

Enjoy a relaxing Sunday morning browsing a portion of East Holly Street that is filled with vendors and stands that bring this market to life. While listening to live music, you can decide which fresh fruits and vegetables you want to take home from R.S. Farms and Gaytan Farms’ assortment. If hunger strikes during your visit, there are food vendors like CHZ Steaks and Walrus and Hedgehog to satisfy any craving you have. Pre-packaged food vendors are also there, like France Bakery, Mom’s Specialty Foods, and Sola Foods (which is a standout). The best part of Old Pasadena Farmers’ Market is that it has a healthy mix of produce, packaged foods, and prepared foods.

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Victory Park Farmers’ Market

This market is the produce gold mine. If offers an array of produce, pre-packaged foods, flowers, and seafood on display. It’s the perfect Saturday morning stop to start off your day. Domenico’s Foods sells handmade pasta and offers a real Italian delicacy, squid ink pasta. You can find locally grown, affordable flowers at Myriad Flowers International. All things made from beeswax can be found at Bill’s Bees and fresh breads are located at Old Town Baking Company. Amongst all this, don’t forget about the produce that really shines at this market. You won’t be disappointed with any of the growers, but one highly recommended stop is the Underwood Family Farms, that carries it all. For delicious pre-packaged foods, head over to the Pasadena Sandwich Company on Sierra Madre Villa Avenue for a deli-style sandwich.

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Villa Parke Center Farmers’ Market

For your weekly essentials stop by this Tuesday morning market for fresh produce. This market is the smallest of the three, but makes up for it with its high quality produce and community charm. If you’re in a rush, this is a great stop to quickly grab a few produce essentials. Gamma Farms and Bonilla Farms have a range of locally grown vegetables. Pre-packaged and prepared foods are not a common find at this market, because it specializes in farm fresh goodness. This market is ideal for local people who are in the immediate area.

Images provided by Sara Smola

– Caitlin Pallotta

Eat Your Way To Health!

With fall surrounding us, we thought it would be nice to have a little recap of some healthy tips to keep you and your family healthy this holiday season. Here is some healthful trivia about fruits and vegetables and how you can use them to stay healthy.

An Apple a Day

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If you didn’t already know, the apple is one of the healthiest fruits, with over 7,500 varieties now cultivated worldwide. The apple is rich in the antioxidant polyphenols. Polyphenols are important compounds that reduce inflammation, and have proven effective in the prevention of cancerous cell growth. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, apples supply 22 percent of the phenols we consume, and increased apple consumption has been correlated with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, phenols create antioxidant activity that reduces free radicals that cause cell damage and are believed to contribute to cancer.

More Than an Anti-Vampire Aide

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In 2009 there was a study that tested 34 vegetables against eight different kinds of cancer that created very different results. Although science hasn’t been able to identify a single vegetable that can stop cancer, there are many that have been able to reduce cancer cell growth. But which vegetable is the best? Studies show garlic to be the winner, displaying the greatest negative effect on cancer cell growth of all the 34 vegetables tested on seven of the eight types of cancer.

Now You’re Cookin’

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You’ve probably heard the myth that the only good vegetables are raw vegetables, but to prove this wrong, there are some healthy benefits when vegetables are cooked properly. Kale is a great example of this. Everyone’s new found love for this leafy green could only be thought of as a good thing when it comes to cholesterol reduction. When we eat kale, some fiber-related nutrients bind with bile acids and escort them out of the body without being absorbed in the intestine. The body then, recognizing this shortage of bile acid, draws on the existing supply of cholesterol to make more, thus lowering the overall amount of cholesterol. For a twist, studies have shown that cooking enhances this binding property!

The Most Powerful Vegetable(s)

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Want to know what the most potent vegetable is based on its “nutrient density?” A study at William Patterson University in New Jersey looked at 17 critical vitamins and nutrients to answer this question. The winner of this study was watercress, one of the oldest leafy vegetables known to be consumer by humans. Watercress had a nutrient density score of 100 and proved to be the most potent of all 41 foods tested. Chinese cabbage and chard took the last two of the top three spots, with a nutrient density score of 91.9 and 89.2 respectively.

Fruit Topping 

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If you’re ever asked the question, “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one thing, what would it be?” we have your fruity answer. There are so many things that come in to play when trying to distinguish what is the healthiest fruit, the main thing being what your definition of healthy is. Fortunately, Leanitup.com came up with a ranking of 30 different fruits based on a score comprised of 12 different healthful indicators, glycemic load being the most important. Your answer is BLUEBERRIES! Blueberries contain the most healthful composite profile of the 30 fruits tested.

Now you know what you should load up on when you head to the grocery store next!

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– Caitlin Pallotta

Explore The Gold Line – South Pasadena Station

Steps from the South Pasadena Metro Station, Mission Street is your go-to for unique boutiques and mom and pop establishments.

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Crossings

If you’re looking for some place to take that special someone this holiday season, Crossings is the place to go. This upscale eatery provides endless hospitality, delicious flavors, and artful displays that are sure to keep you wanting more.

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Mike & Anne’s

The delicious food at this stop is worth the wait for a table on the picturesque patio or inside their elegant interior. If you’re looking for something meaty try the juicy Angus beef burger or hearty mushroom risotto. They also have fresh tuna poke or the Mission Street Caesar salad for those looking for a lighter option. Enjoy these delicious entrees with a glass or two of your favorite wine.

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 Mix N’ Munch

Feed your junk food craving at this family-run local favorite. Customize comfort food classics, including their popular Breakfast Sammy, a cheesy cheddar delight with bacon, tater tots, and a fried egg, with over 25 mix-in choices. Mix N’ Munch is the perfect place for the whole family to enjoy – or if you’re an adult just craving your favorite childhood food.

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Buster’s

This hipster-esque café will leave you satisfied and caffeinated as you explore everything South Pasadena has to offer. The cozy and welcoming environment the staff creates has kept this classic coffee shop in business for 30 years. The best part about Buster’s? Their coffee is roasted in-house for each of their drinks. Don’t forget to indulge in a tasty banana split with all the fixings along with your latte.

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Mission Wines 

Stocked with some of the finest wines around, along with a rotating selection of craft beer on tap, Mission Wines will undoubtedly satisfy your needs. If you’re on a budget, they even offer a “10 and under” selection. If you’re not 100% sure on a bottle, head up to the tasting bar to sample wines before fully committing.

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 Mission Tile West

 Look no further when it comes to redecorating your space from floor to ceiling or for just adding a few ceramic details to a boring room. Mission Tile West has finely crafted ceramics in many styles, including whimsical and sophisticated. The design experts are there to help give you advice and opinions while providing outstanding customer service.

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 Vave Studios

This hybrid floral design and boutique shop is sure to keep you coming back for its many charming vintage and handmade goods. Stop in to browse through the soothing scented candles, soft robes, bath essentials and quaint signs for a little homey touch to any place you go. The creative owner duo even offers a variety of workshops and events to engage the community, like “Wine and Cheese Shopping Night” and “Flowers and Wine.”

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Trina Turk

If you’re looking for something bright, funky, and fabulous Trina Turk is a must go to. This boutique carries everything from silky caftans and eye-catching swimsuits to flashy gold jewelry fit for any occasion. Before any vacation or beach trip be sure to stop in to Trina Turk.

Header image provided by Sara Smola

-Caitlin Pallotta

Fall Tips For The Perfect Cup of Coffee at Home

Making the perfect cup of coffee just like your favorite barista has always been led us to an unanswerable question. But fear not, we have gone to the U.S. Brewer’s Cup winner, Sarah Anderson, to find out the right tool to brew your coffee. Sarah explains there are many ways to brew coffee from percolators, vacuum pots and coffee-cones for a pour over method. But, Anderson’s preferred method is French press if she is going to be adding milk and sugar to her cup.

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images

But, it’s not only in the way you brew the coffee, but it also comes down to the coffee beans that you use. Different regions have different flavors of coffee and acidity level. African coffees tend to be lighter in flavor and have a citric acidity to them, whereas Central and South American coffees tend to have cherry and chocolate flavors and are mellow in acidity.

Photos courtesy of Google Images
Photos courtesy of Google Images

Another tip you need to take into consideration when brewing the perfect cup is the grind of the coffee. Too fine of a grind can cause the coffee to taste bitter and too coarse of a ground can taste to sour. The best way to find the right flavor is to play with the grinds and find what best suites your palate.

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images

Last, but not least, the water. It’s something that most of us tend to take for granted when it comes to brewing the perfect cup. But, living in the Los Angeles area, the water is hard water, which means that there are minerals and when brewing the coffee those minerals get mixed in to the flavor of the coffee and alter it by the time its ready to be consumed.

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images

Intelligentsia, as well as most coffee shops nowadays, sells filtered water. So for the coffee aficionados making a usual trip  to your regular coffee spot, don’t forget to grab a bottle of filtered water to be able to make that perfect cup at home.

–Michele Franco