Holiday Fun at Ventura Harbor

It’s of my favorite times of the year to visit the city of Ventura and Ventura Harbor. Bring the family to one of the most wonderful times of the year at Ventura Harbor Village. Shop local, see live reindeer, stand under faux snow flurries, see boats of all sizes decorated for a special Holiday Boat Parade, and listen to carolers clad in costume warm your spirits

The Winter Wonderland & Holiday Marketplace at Ventura Harbor Village is on Saturday, December 11, featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus with their reindeer. Santa is going to start the day with a Stand Up Paddle at 11 a.m.  

The picturesque harbor shines brighter during the holidays with harbor views while dining on covered patios. Visitors can shop along the promenade to find seaside gifts for underneath the tree. Holiday shoppers can give the gift of year-round experiences with gift cards from Islands Packers, Ventura Boat Rentals, The Ultimate Escape Rooms, Ventura Comedy Club, and Ventura Dive & Sport. The seaside destination entices shoppers with a Holiday Shopping Passport, whereby they can get stamps and enter to win a $150+ holiday gift package plus $25 each week of gift cards from November 27- December 19, 2021.   www.VenturaHarborVillage.com.

Winter Wonderland & Holiday Marketplace

On Saturday, Dec. 11, the Ventura Harbor Village is hosting its annual Winter Wonderland & Holiday Marketplace from noon- 4 p.m. Visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus and their live reindeer, enjoy live carolers, a faux snowfall for kids and much more while you shop at locally-owned stores and art galleries. ‘Tis the season for giving, with two opportunities to make a difference to help others this holiday season.

  1. Canned Food Drive benefitting Food Share Ventura County. Bring ten cans and receive a fun complimentary reindeer antler head band, perfect for the holidays, stocking stuffers and photo opps. 
  2. Sock Drive benefitting Ventura Rescue Mission. Get in the spirit of giving by donating socks, the item most often requested by shelters during the winter.

All Aboard the 2021 Island Packers Harbor Light Cruise and Parade of Lights Cruise

  • Island Packers Public Harbor Lights Cruise: View holiday lights with friends/family during a one-hour Island Packers Public Harbor Light Cruise from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Check for dates available on  December 8-12, 15 and 19 and December 20-23, 2021. The cost is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors 55+ and $11 for children. 
  • For those who wish to see the colorfully-lit boats up close, look no further than Island Packers Parade of Lights Public Cruise topped off by a spectacular fireworks on December 17 and 18, 2021 at 5:45 and 6 p.m. The cost is $36 for adults, $33 for seniors 55+ and $26 for children under 12 years old.  Group rates are also available www.IslandPackers.com

Pie + Cake = Zac Young’s PieCaken

Celebrity Pastry Chef Zac Young, one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America, creates a playful take on two of America’s favorite desserts – pie and cake. Known for his final four finish on Top Chef: Just Desserts, as well as appearances on Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets and Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, Young developed The PieCaken in 2015 for a restaurant in New York City.

This talented pastry chef is making The PieCaken for the holidays. His Thanksgiving PieCaken went viral after Kelly Ripa received an email from the restaurant announcing the decadent creation. Ripa said, “this is pretty much the greatest thing that has happened to me, besides the birth of my children.”

The PieCaken has layers of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and spice cake all held together with cinnamon buttercream and topped with apple pie filling. This tantalizing comfort food is what a lot of people are seeking to enhance their much smaller Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meal.

Los Angeles residents can pick up a PieCaken at Carlo’s Bakery on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Besides a full PieCaken, you can also order a slice to bring home and enjoy during a smaller COVID-friendly alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving family style gathering.

For those outside of the Los Angeles area, The PieCaken is available nationwide and can be shipped to your home. This one-of-a-kind cake is $99 and shipping is free on Goldbelly

8 Favorite FounderMade Consumer Discovery Show West Gifts

Recently at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, a  summit of more than 200+ innovative consumer brands and leaders in the beauty, wellness, and food introduced their latest consumers products.

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FounderMade attendees got a chance to glam up with a manicure from GlamSquad, enjoyed a detoxing armpit facial and complimentary refreshing coconuts from Kopari Beauty, cooled down with Cryo facials from CryoZone, and kept their energy levels up with B12 shots from The Hydration Room.

Here’s 8 products I received at the event and enjoy at home-

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1. Navitas – Organic. Plant-based. Superfoods. This line is super-simple, super-nutritious superfoods company that gives you the energy you need to live each day to the fullest. Navitas is Latin for ‘energy.’ They  search the globe for the highest-quality organic superfoods to keep you energized.

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2. Lifeway Foods – Lifeway Kefir is a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie. It’s high in protein and calcium and has 12 live and active probiotic kefir cultures. Organic SKYR offers less sugar and more protein in 5 flavors. The Organic Kefir Cups have their own spoon.

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3. Tosi – A health, wellness and weight management program that is affordable, simple to use and you feel healthier and better by balancing your body chemistry.

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4. The Perfect Granola – Gluten-free bagged granola and granola bars. The company shares 5% of profits with Homeless shelters, Outreach Centers, and Food Banks. They hire students and give them the skills needed to break the poverty cycle that fuels hunger.

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5. Brewla -Coffeehouse Inspired Ice Cream Bars in 5 different flavors. This ice cream bars are made with high-quality ingredients, combining premium teas and organic fair-trade coffee with hormone-free milk and cream, and organic cane. Caffe Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Caffe Mocha, Chai Latte and Match Latte.

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6. Love. Sun. Body – The world’s safest and highest quality sunscreen. This is the first and only sunscreens in the US Certified by Ecocert Cosmos Natural. It’s vegan, reef-safe, hypo-allergenic, no eye-stinging ingredients and non-comedogenic. The Broad Spectrum is SPF 30 and SPF 50.

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7. Kopari Beauty is a luxury line of coconut oil beauty products that are made with all things natural. Hawaiian-born co-founder and certified organic chef, Kiana Cabell, created a  line with no parabens and sulfates. They have a coconut deodorant that really works! This healthy, aluminum-free deodorant glides on clear, is never sticky and will outlast your longest days, leaving you smelling like fresh coconut milk.

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8. What’s Your WORD – Washer bracelets stamped custom your personal word or intent with a choice of color. The bracelet is adjustable and they also sell a dainty necklace.

Coolest House for the Holiday Season

Santa came early to my house this year to make sure I have one of the coolest houses in the neighborhood. He delivered an ATMOS FX Digital Decorating Kit. Inside the box is a –

  • Projector
  • Professional mounting tripod
  • Remote control (2 AAA batteries not included)
  • UL power adapter
  • Standard Window Projection Material
  • Digital Decorations SD Card with 14 pre-loaded scenes
Digital Decorating Kit

It’s an All-In-One Solution for Digital Decorating offering displays for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and festive celebrations year round. During the holidays, I will have:

  • All Through the House, Part 1 & 2, from Night Before Christmas in my windows.
  • Deck the Halls, from Santa’s Workshop.IMG_5912Halloween time I can illuminate my windows:
  • Rise of the Wraiths, from Phantasms;
  • Dancing Dead, from Bone Chillers;
  • Beckoning Beauty, from Ghostly Apparitions;
  • Zombie Swarm, from Zombie Invasion;
  • Stalking Startlers, from Night Stalkers;
  • Howl at the Moon, from Tricks and Treats;
  • Vampire’s Snack, from Shades of Evil;
  • Evil Twins 1, from Macabre Manor.

Seasonal Scenes displayed in my windows include:

  • Party Time, from Celebrations Party Time
  • Festive Fireworks, from Celebrations Party Time
  • Eggstravaganza!, from Hoppy Easter
  • My Valentine, from My Valentine.
The Digital Decorating Kit features an SD card slot, making it easy to add additional AtmosFX scenes. To learn more, go to ATMOS FX.

5 Holiday Host and Hostess Gifts

It’s always nice to arrive to a holiday party with a gift for the host or hostess. Here are 5 gifts to bring to a party that will put a smile on anyone’s face.

For the Chocolate Lover – Give a Box of Chocodiem – For a sweet gift, order a holiday Chocodiem Gift Box. It arrives in a pretty pink and chocolate brown box filled with small batches of crafted Belgian Artisan Chocolates by chocolatier Jean-Paul “JP” Hepp. Boxes come in 3 to 12 piece gift boxes. Click here to learn more about Chocodiem.


Another chocolate that is a California Favorite is See’s Candies –  The beautifully wrapped red boxes are filled with over 100 different types of chocolates that include Nuts & Chews, truffles and other delights. Place your gift box in a festive $2 See’s Candies Christmas Tree Tote. Click here to see the closest store near you.


Bring a nice bottle of Herzog Kosher Wine – Drinking wine is a Mitzvah (good deed) and prescribed for many Jewish rituals. It’s essential during the holidays. During Purim, wine is the beverage of choice for the festive meal. On Passover, Jews are required to drink multiple cups of wine at the Seder. When invited to a Hanukkah dinner, be sure to bring a bottle of California’s Herzog wine. The Special Reserve Quartet, is a red blend offering notes of dark berries and a mouthful of vanilla and spice with finishing hints of dark chocolate. It’s made with 36% Petit Verdot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec, and 15% Zinfandel. Click here to learn more about Herzog Wine.

Marin French Cheese – A gift box filled with a variety of cheese will be a welcome surprise to your party host. Marin French Cheese is made from cow and goat cheese from Sonoma, CA. The fresh milk and cream is from family dairy farms. Here’s a peek at the cheese selection available to give to others. Click here to learn how to order this cheese. 

If your host or hostess loves to cook, give them a cookbook. The Grand Central Market Cookbook offers an exciting anthology of 80 recipes with nearly 160 photographs by Johnny Autry. It’s filled with a variety of food, people, and the neon signs that bring the GCM experience to life. Take a peek inside this cookbook.

Chocodiem Belgian Artisan Chocolates

With holiday party invitations arriving, this is the time to gather a few small thoughtful gifts, to hand to the host and hostess upon your arrival, as a token of appreciation and holiday cheer.

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For a sweet gift, the holiday Chocodiem Gift box is pretty in pink and chocolate brown. The uniquely crafted Belgian Artisan Chocolates are made in small batches by Belgian chocolatier Jean-Paul “JP” Hepp. As the founder and co-owner, he makes beautiful chocolates and truffles, and boxes them in elegant signature 12, 9, 6 or 3-piece gift boxes.

Holiday flavors include Gingerbread and Peppermint along with Pearl Truffle w/ a Dark center, Raspberry, Espresso, Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Belgian Rocher, Milk Chocolate Caramel and Orange Cayenne.

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Other unique flavors include Red Wine truffles using Tolino Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Espresso truffles made with Fieldstone’s Kickin Goat espresso, and craft beer truffles infused with the delicious Cacao Porter from Shawnee Brewery.

The two chocolate boutiques are located in Easton, PA and another in Clinton, NJ. Go online to see and order Holiday Gifts starting at $7 for a gift bag of Almond & Espresso Beans. Chocolate Gift Boxes are $11 on up. https://chocodiem.com/favors-gifts/ or call (610)829-2722.

10 Disney Holiday Magic Experiences

Having just experienced Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Holiday Magic, here are 10 activities to see and experience in both theme parks before January 7, 2017.IMG_4115California Adventure seems extra festive this year. For a second year the park is decked out for the spirit of the season with decorations offering a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali.

  1. Now until Dec. 24 meet Santa at Redwood Creek. The area has been turned into a holiday wonderland filled with interactive games for families to play while exploring the meandering trails. There is also a cookie decorating kit for purchase. Visit with Santa before or after you follow the Holiday Challenge Trail map to discover your secret elf name. IMG_4010
  2. Celebrate Hanukkah listening to the lively band named Mostly Kosher. They perform near Paradise Park and the World of Color – Season of Light viewing area. This band weaves rock, hip hop, jazz and Latin rhythm to their lyrics. Nearby is the Blissfully Braised food station serving slow-cooked brisket and other delicious dishes. Throughout the park are festive food offerings at various marketplaces. Brews & Bites, Classic Crocks & Casseroles, Winter Sliderland  and Making Spirits Bright offer joyous toasts and delicious dishes.
  3. Visit Disney Viva Navidad! Festive food offerings include Torta Al Pastor, Elote – Street-style corn, Paleta, Jamica, Horchata Agua Fresca, Chicharrons, Street-style tacos, Chicken Mole, Pozole and Burritos. Meet, greet and take a photo with Elena of Avalor.

  4. When visiting “a bugs land” be sure to see a special preview of Disney Pixar’s newest movie Coco at the Bug’s Life Theater in Disney California Adventure Park. It’s an interactive experience with 3-D glasses and guests will feel the special effects in the movie. Before the movie begins, there is a display of movie memorabilia.

  5. After getting a free Peppermint Bark chocolate at Ghirardelli and piece of Boudin sourdough bread, be sure to hear the lively a capella vocal group The Sound performing by Pacific Wharf. They celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas with heartwarming, soulful classic holiday songs.
  6. Purchase one of the Santa Mickey souvenir ornaments filled with red seedless grapes or pineapple. It’s a fun memento to hang on your tree. Other souvenirs include festive Mickey ornaments, sweaters, necklaces and holiday gifts.
  7. Be sure to see the display window at Trolley Candy Treats of the Buena Vista Trolley traveling into a Candy mountain tunnel. Inside the store are great holiday gifts that include Gingerbread Cookie Mix and sweet treats with a holiday spin that include Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse rice crispy treats, candy apples, cake pops and cupcakes.
  8. Cars Land at Disney California Adventure offers “Seasons Speeding” and is decked out with themed holiday decorations along Route 66. From tires and hubcaps turned into trees, the Disney team turns into air filters, traffic cones and oil cans into whimsical holiday decor.

    9. Be sure to see the Gingerbread Hotel at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Located in the the soaring ceiling lobby near the magnificent Christmas tree is a Gingerbread display made with 600 pounds of gingerbread and 600 pounds of powdered sugar. It stands 7 1/2 feet-tall and 12-feet-wide.

    10. Be sure to visit Disneyland’s It’s A Small World celebrating the splendor of the season with sweet sounds for peace on Earth and sung by children’s choruses from around the world. This classic festive yuletide boat ride sails from Nov. 10, 2017 through Jan. 21, 2018.

Candy Cane Shake – YUM!

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Want a sweet holiday treat? This holiday-edition Tastee Freez Candy Cane Shake is available for a limited time. It’s topped with whipped cream and a mini candy cane.

The only place you can find this pink-a-licious treat is at Wienerschnitzel. To find your closest Wienerschnitzel, visit http://www.wienerschnitzel.com

15 Creative Fall/Halloween Culinary Treats in Los Angeles

It’s getting to be the time to sip spooky cocktails and nibble on festive Fall theme delights. Here are a few great restaurants in Los Angeles getting very creative during the month of October. Check out these 10 destinations –

image0021. Twerk or Treat at Chaya Downtown.
The highlight of Twerk or Treat cocktail is the sugar spider web, made of hardened sugar and placed delicately atop the glass. Spiders are optional! Vodka, apricot liquor, splash simple syrup, splash sweet and sour. Served up with a sugar spider web. Additionally, Chaya DTLA is offering a 3-course Halloween menu for $35. There is a Dark and Stormy Death Punch Dark made with rum, lime juice, simple syrup, ginger beer, lychee and cherry “eyeballs”for $5 on Halloween from 5 to 8 p.m.

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2. CHAYA is also making Children of the Corn (Candy Corn Cocktail)
Pineapple Jell-O Shot at the bottom, Candy Corn infused Vodka, Yuzu Sake and Egg White

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3. Harvest Peach at Chaya
A sweet cocktail punch that is perfect as a refreshing Fall drink is made with Bourbon, peach bitters, muddled peaches, sweet and sour. It’s served up with a delightful orange sugar rim and a caramelized peach as a garnish. http://www.thechaya.com

image002-24. FIG & OLIVE Melrose Place

This Pumpkin Spice Martini features vanilla infused vodka, lime juice, ginger syrup, apple brandy, and pumpkin butter. It’s rim has crushed graham crackers. Enjoy this libation with a three course prix fixe dinner menu on Saturday, October 31. Laurent Halasz’s passion for exquisite olive oils from the French Riviera includes autumnal butternut squash & chestnut soup and Riviera salmon with braised endives. His smoked rosemary lamb chops are paired with a bouquet of Herbs de Provence, goat cheese & chive gnocchi, braised eggplant with honey & thyme, and rosemary garlic olive oil. Finish with a chestnut mousse over walnut meringue and cherry sorbet with Amarena cherry coulis and garnished with candied walnuts http://www.figandolive.com/locations-reservation/melrose-place/

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5. Abigaile’s Pumpkin Beer

The new Head Brewer, Paul Papartino, kicks off Fall with a holiday-exclusive Pumpkin Beer. It’s a brown ale brewed with notes of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. http://abigailerestaurant.com.

image001-36. RockSugar – Thai Mai Tai and Margaritas

Starting Thursday, October 15 at the Century City hot spot – RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen, the restaurant unveils an updated cocktail menu, created in partnership with Top Chef and Food Network Star Arnold Myint. The new libations include the Thai Mai Tai and a Lilikoi Margarita bringing a fresh and exotic twist to the restaurant’s Southeast Asian inspired cocktail menu.

In addition to the regular cocktail menu, RockSugar’s exclusive Rocktail Hour® updated menu includes the Malaysian Margarita made with Kaffir Lime-Pineapple or Hibiscus for $6.5 during Rocktail Hour® daily 4 – 6 p.m. http://www.rocksugarpanasiankitchen.com

(Photo provided by The Wallace)
(Photo provided by The Wallace)

(photo provided by The Wallace)
(photo provided by The Wallace)

7. The Wallace in Culver City

Executive Chef Joel Miller offers a bottomless BLACK punch named “Heaven’s Gate Punch” made with Rum, Candy Corn Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, and Squid Ink for $14 during dinner service on October 31. The restaurant is also offering oysters for $1 all night that is served with blood colored Mignonette made with hibiscus and annatto.  www.TheWallaceLA.com.

(Photo provided by CBTL)
(Photo provided by CBTL)

8. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® whips up original flavors and returning favorites with their Pumpkin Chai and creamy Pumpkin-infused lattes and Ice Blended® drinks spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon for a delicious pick-me-up! http://www.coffeebean.com

Hungry?  Enjoy the following tasty culinary treasures:

image0049. Wildcraft’s Pumpkin Ricotta Bombolini

Chef Bryant Wigger brings back stacks a tower of Italian-style donuts prepared with creamy ricotta and pumpkin purée, accompanied by spiced vanilla sugar and warm chocolate ganache. http://www.wildcraftcc.com

image005-310. Dia de Campo French Toast

Chef Ken Johnson fries up a hearty breakfast Pumpkin Pound Cake French Toast, topped with deliciously tart persimmons, black plums, and mascarpone. YUM! http://diadecampohb.com
image00111. Barton G. Donuts

This whimsical fine dining dinner theater serves up an entire platter of Pumpkin Spice Donuts paired with cranberry compote, pumpkin butter, spiced molten chocolate, and cinnamon anglaise. My favorite! http://www.bartongtherestaurantla.com

image00212. Small Batch, Playa Provisions

Go to the dessert and ice cream counter to pick up a spooky concoctions created by pastry chef Kristin Feuer. Known for her nostalgic treats, she is making ghost cupcakes and Pyrat rum floats. http://www.playaprovisions.com.

13. Chaya Venice

This week Chaya Venice launched three new pumpkin inspired menu items, available throughout the Fall:
Try the Thai Coconut Lobster Bisque in a Petit Pumpkin Bowl. It’s an $18 Half Maine lobster tail, with lobster stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, jalapeno, sriracha. www.thechaya.com/venice

CCF_PumpkinCheesecake14. Cheesecake Factory 

Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake are back and available now through Thanksgiving Day! Both flavors sell for $7.95 per slice, or take home whole cheesecakes for $51.95. http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com.

(Photo provided by Bo Nuage)
(Photo provided by Bo Nuage)

15. Bo Nuage

Be sure to visit the new second location at 9523 Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Come into the Beverly Hills shop on Halloween in costume will receive a free Pumpkin Spice cloud cake. www.BoNuage.com.

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