≡ Menu

city lights

Do you recall the Jimmy Carter days when we were encouraged to limit our lighting? Fuggetaboutit. The Bay Area this holiday is blazing like the Aurora Borealis. A couple of standouts: 1) Downtown Napa and the Oxbow district which glow with the original works of ten artists every day until Dec.17 from 5-10pm.2) Further south Pier 70, Potrero Point’s arts center (soon to be mixed use residential/retail) is going out with a luminescent farewell –light artists, installations, music, performers- this Saturday from 1am to midnight. RSVP Required. Both events are free.



You are not a person who has everything. For example you don’t have a statuette of your beloved self developed out of a new 3-D technology called doob. It’s easily done when you step into a booth in the doob store on Gough Street and are scanned in seconds. 2-4 weeks later little you will be delivered. Available in 4” to 14” sizes, from $95 to $695.


salvage job

In a new twist on recycling, The Visitacion Valley Branch of the SF Library will teach you how to turn your old, shrunken, or misshapen sweaters into cozy, warm mittens for the winter ahead. It’s this Saturday from 2 to 3:30. Free with materials provided. RSVP required.


the truth about sugarplums

Sorry to disappoint you but there are generally no plums in sugarplums. This holiday candy has dried plums, i.e. prunes. Here are the ingredients if you’re interested in trying to make them:

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup prunes (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup toasted skinned hazelnuts (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons cherry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Here’s what you do:

Place the chopped dates, prunes, cranberries, hazelnuts, and walnuts in the food processor. Pulse the mixture a few times.Add the jam, cinnamon, and cloves, and pulse several more times until the mixture begins to come together. It should hold itself in a ball when you squeeze it between your fingers, but you want to retain some of the texture — do not process it into a sticky paste.Roll the candy into small 1-inch balls, and roll the balls in the granulated sugar. Place them in candy cups to serve, or in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper to store. Sugarplums can be kept, refrigerated, for up to one month.


life on “pause”

Take a holiday from the holidays. A couple of cool retreats nearby offer coastal euphoria at reasonable rates. On the cliffs of Big Sur the Treebone Resort is an enclave of tented yurts with decks and Adirondack chairs, ideal for letting your consciousness drift out to sea. Starting at $320. Opt for more isolation in their Human Nest, a handwoven treehouse with a futon, accessible by ladder. $175.Closer in on the southern flank of Mt.Tamalpais is West point Inn with stereoscopic Bay views, 5 modest cabins plus a main structure with 7 rooms. There’s no food served but it has a large, well-equipped kitchen. A 2-mile walk from the parking lot. Starting at $250.


the gift of nothing

For the person on your holiday gift list who insists, “I don’t need ANYTHING” consider a hand-held canister of Oxygen Plus, small portable, recreational oxygen that provides 4 times the dosage of the regular stuff you are breathing right now. It purports to increase energy and alertness. Minis start at $4.99.


catching butterflies

Already yearning for Spring? Get a hit of it now at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at SF’s Conservatory of Flower It was slated to end in June but popular demand is pushing it until January 7. Check out over 20 species including North American monarchs, Western Swallowtails and Painted Ladies. Near the entrance there’s a Butterfly Bungalow where you can see the caterpillar-to-butterfly metaphorphosis in action. Tuesdays thru Sundays 10-4:30. Seniors. $6. (what do these creatures have to do with ‘butter’? Anyone know?)



words of hope

Holiday cheer has dimmed this year for anyone confronted with the Bay Area’s expanding homeless camps. A small gesture reaching out to these sad souls takes place this Friday Dec.8 from 7-9 at Omni Oakland Commons. It’s a Holiday Card Writing event where you pen anonymous greeting cards that will be distributed later at a Caroling for the Homeless event. The environment is family-friendly, safe, secular and free. All supplies provided.


invitation to a hanging

Hope it’s not too late to scratch your plans tonight in order to catch the Cirque de la Symphonie at 8:30pm in Davies Hall. While musicians play Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky gymnasts and acrobats will be flying, spinning and amazing you right on the stage. $25-$90. If you miss it don’t worry. On December 9 and 10 the Circus Center on Frederick Street will present Winter of Love, a high flying tribute to the glory days of the 60’s. $5-25.


super rich

Despairing that my local grocery was not carrying the legendary Bud’s Egg Nog this holiday season, I asked my most culinary accomplished friend for a recipe. It looks a bit daunting to me:

In a very large bowl beat 12 large egg yolks until they are light and frothy, beat in 2/3 cup of sugar, one tablespoon at a time; beat in 2 cups of bourbon, a little at a time, and make sure each addition is fully incorporated. In a large bowl beat 12 egg whites with 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar until they JUST hold stiff peaks. Fold into yolk mixture. Beat 3 cups heavy cream until it holds SOFT peaks, and fold into mixture. Makes 16 cups.