Celebrate Christmas in the Park

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

One thing I miss during Christmas season, besides my family, are the Weihnachtsmarkets in Germany. Always a true sign that Christmas is coming, a great place to buy local gifts and drink some Gluehwein.

Every blood donation "counts" treeA surprising ‘christmassy’ event is Christmas in the Park in San Jose. This year they broke the world record for most decorated Christmas trees!  600 decorated trees can be seen on Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Some trees are decorated in memory of lost ones, there is a Grinch, and a Dracula advertising the mobile blood drive December 22nd from 12 pm to 5 pm, at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

 

 

LED ornament

My favorite trees were the Mentor Trees, showcasing the mentorship program between some colleges and elementary, middle and high schools in the area with some LED ornaments that glowed in different colors and patterns and the Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree, which has some inspiring reasons why to wear glasses!

Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree

 

The 40 animated displays is probably the reason why there were so many babies and young children during the day.

Caribbean Christmas animationThe one that made me smile the most was the Caribbean Christmas, a bunch of frogs playing a Christmas song in Caribbean tunes.

 

There is also a community stage and you can go see Santa.

This tradition is open through January 7th, 2018 and free with donations.

How are you decorating your tree?

Shop for homeless

Shop for homeless

It’s the time of the year again when we might soon exchange gifts. I am always on the lookout for something meaningful. Gift giving can be joyful, especially when helping others.

If you are in the same situation, looking for gifts, and find yourself near Santa Cruz, you should stop by the Homeless Garden Project pop-up stores, either in downtown Santa Cruz or Capitola.

The Homeless Garden Project operates a farm, which is on Shaffer Rd in Santa Cruz. This is a great spot to visit in spring and summer, when you can either pick your own vegetables or buy from the farm stand. The 3 acre organic farm provides the materials for the retail goods.

homeless garden project store, Santa Cruz

As examples of the bounty you will find in the stores: they offer wreaths uniquely created from dried flowers of the farm, organic jams and baking mixes, bath and body products.

homeless garden project store, Santa CruzCurrently they reside in two locations: one near the MAH, 110 Cooper St, Suite 100G, in the Cooperhouse Breezeway; open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, the other in Capitola on the Esplanade, 222 Esplanade; open Thursday – Saturday 11 am – 7 pm, Sunday 11 am – 4 pm. Both locations are open until 12/24/17.

 

They are even online, so no more excuses: http://www.homelessgardenproject.org

This is a great project that provides job training, transitional employment, and support services for people who are homeless.

Do you know of other great gifting opportunities?

Feed the chickens

Feed the chickens

Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving and I thought it is appropriate to talk about a local farm.

Emma Prusch donated a substantial piece of land to the city of San Jose to be kept as farmland as the way the Valley of Hearts Delight used to be.

 

Rooster at Emma Prusch Farm, San JoseWhen I first entered the farm it was amazing to me that they have chickens roam around freely in the whole area. In the back there is an animal area where they sell chicken feed for 25 cents. So, make sure you have some quarters if you are entertaining young children. The animal area also has a pot belly pig, bunnies, goats and other fowl. Chicken at Emma Prusch Farm, San Jose

 

On Saturday and Sunday the farm offers pony rides ($10 for 10 minutes). Overall this is a great place for little children, with a playground, the animal area, and lots of space to run around.

 

Emma's kitchen garden at Emma Prusch Farm, San JoseThe true farm experience is offered every first Saturday. The associated Veggielution is a community farm with the mission of connecting people through food and farming. Here you can help farming, cook or just stop by and buy the produce from the farmstand.

 

Everyone is welcome every Saturday and Wednesday morning to garden at Emma’s Kitchen Garden.

 

Have you helped on a farm before?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stand up for science

Stand up for science

April 22nd 2017 is Earth Day and you can support your scientist by marching. Many of the marches end with an Earth Day celebration, or with activities for kids. A great way to introduce the importance of marching for democratic rights to your children.

Science not Silence, pin designed by  Penelope Dullaghan
Science not Silence pin designed by
Penelope Dullaghan

Like the Women’s March on January 21st, the March for Science’s biggest crowds are expected in Washington D.C. But there are eight satellite marches in the Bay Area where you can show your support:

 

San Francisco Start: Justin Herman Plaza, 11:00 AM; End: Civic Center Plaza

San Jose Start: San Jose City Hall, 11:00 AM; End: Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Santa Cruz Start: Santa Cruz City Hall, 10:00 AM; End: San Lorenzo Park

Pacifica Start: 2:30 PM, from Linda Mar Beach to Rockaway Beach and back

Walnut Creek Start: Civic Park, 10:00 AM

Livermore Start and End: Livermore High School; 1:00 PM

Hayward Start: Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, 10:00 AM

Berkeley Start: Sproul Plaza, 4:00 PM

Here is a list of Earth Day events in the Bay Area:

http://www.bayareaearthday.org/bayareaearthdayevents/

 

Will you stand up for science?

Read a used book

Read a used book

Used books make me feel great – less trash produced and less money spent. Now I have another reason: money raised for the San Mateo Historical Association.

The Encore Books on the Square store below the history museum in Redwood City is one of the largest used bookstores on the Peninsula.  

On April 8th and 9th from 10 am – 3 pm they hold their semi annual book sale; all 50% off.

Paperback section at Encore Books in Redwood CityI just found my book club book for this month there for $1.50. The German section has about 50 books and I loved their extensive cookbooks. The volunteers are very helpful and knowledgeable. I will be back soon.
What is your go-to used bookstore?

Ask what you can do

Ask what you can do

Last Saturday way more than 1.5 Million all around the world took to the streets to show unity against the new government that threatens so many of our American rights.

Whether this was your first march or, like one sign read: “I can’t believe I’m still marching for this!”, this marked a new beginning.

Now the question arises: What’s next?

Get involved

I think the first step to keep the momentum going is to organize a group of like-minded, get to know your neighbors and/or volunteer in your community. The greatest strength comes from compassion.organize

10 different actions for the next 100 days – form the official women’s march team
The indivisible guide
– lets you search by zip code for groups in your area

Next steps salon –  a web site to help on community building

100daysaction.net/ Bay Area artists response to Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office

Find your cause and volunteer

Volunteermatch.org

Idealst.org

Handson Network

 

Contact your representatives, get virtual active and vote

www.house.gov/representatives/find/ – find out who your representative is and contact them with concerns

Call the halls – a guide to citizen advocacy

There are a lot of campaigning communities, here are few:

Avaaz

Sum of us

Move on

Change.org

Stay angry. Care. Be compassionate.

Or like  Aziz Ansari put it in last weeks SNL Monologue: “[…]if you look at our country’s history, change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen.

 

What is your next step?

Learn that physics is fun

Learn that physics is fun

It’s the time of the year again when most of us like to give gifts, not only for friends and family but also for a good cause.

One of these gift ideas that meet both criteria is The Physics Show at Foothill College.

We saw this show in September. Though my 7th grader said it was something he learned in 6th grade, we all enjoyed this spectacular display of physic experiments. Behind us was a family that had been to a previous show. They agreed that even though some of this had been in the earlier showing, it was still a lot of fun.

So, no matter if you are a returning visitor or a new spectator, this will be entertaining.

But let’s talk about the giving side of this event. The Physics Show also does weekday programs for title one schools. Not only do the children get to see the show, they provide transportation, a tour of the campus, and get a T-Shirt! Last year 3200 kids saw the show.

See the Mercury New article for further reading:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/15/physics-show-a-smashing-success-with-students/

Weekend shows are only $5 per person and this includes parking in lot 1. Tickets for the January events go on sale December 6th and you have to preorder them (only a few seats left at the door) at The Physics Show web site.

Saturday Jan 7, 2017

Sunday   Jan 8, 2017             

Saturday Jan 21, 2017

Sunday   Jan 22, 2017

Have you enjoyed physics before?

*official logo for The Physics Show courtesy of The Physics Show

Holiday Markets

Holiday Markets

It seems these days I have only shopping on my mind. Well, Christmas is near, and while I am not really a big gift giver, I prefer to gift something homemade, or close to that.

This weekend (1/5/2015) are two holiday markets that I will try to catch. One is at my sons middle school: Graham Middle School in Mountain View, CA from 9am to 1 pm. I am hoping for a lot of crafty items. I also heard that the food is amazing!

The other on is at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. This will feature local artists, not only paintings, but ceramics, jewelry and textiles. Sounds interesting, right? Well they have two bonus programs. One is a jazz pop performance from 3:30 to 4:30. The other one is the family art day from 10:00 to 2:00.

On December 12th, 2015 is the third annual German International School of Silicon Valley’s German Holiday Market from 11 am to 9 pm at the City Hall Plaza in Mountain View. This one I am really looking forward to! There are not many things I am missing from Germany (plenty people, not things!), but around Christmas time I like to stand in the cold and get warmed up by a nice mug of Glühwein. The food is also good traditional German fare.

Happy shopping, giving and partying!

Do you know of any Holiday Markets in the area?

 

Not your average mall

Not your average mall

Yesterday I wanted to stroll in a mall and I picked the Town and Country Village near Stanford in Palo Alto. This is a cute mall with some unique shops and food places. I saw some homemade ice cream and a french café with some great looking pastries. I went into the butcher and scooped out the amazing meats. Okay, guilty: I am a Foodie. But I managed to not buy anything. For the clothing stores and beauty parlors I would suggest taking your mother-in-law if she is on the wealthier end of the scale.

Anyway, what really got me was the christmas tree in front of the toy store. It is called a Family Giving Tree for the Holiday Wish Drive. (Yes, that is a mouth full and there will be a quiz at the end of the holidays.)

This is your chance to turn into a real live elf! Pick a card, buy a gift for a child, return to a participating store by December 18th, 2015. Easy, right?

Holiday Wish Drive
Pick up a gift for someone in need.

 

The idea is not unique to this mall. I was at the Mountain View YMCA and they also have a gift tree.

Do you know of any other gift trees in the area? Have you ever been an elf?

Knit it!

Knit it!

When the days get shorter and colder I like to either knit or crochet. It makes me feel warm and busy at the same time. If you like to do your craft in a group there are a few places around.

The Los Altos Library as a Knit & Crocket circle that meets every first and third Tuesday. In Saratoga the Knitspiration of Silicon Valley holds regular meetings and has guest speaker.

November is also a month of giving  back and be thankful. If you are looking for places to donate your handiwork look into Halos of Hope. They distribute caps and hats to cancer patients. I learned about it while I discovered Purlescence Yarns a wool store in Sunnyvale. They also do classes  at the store if you are not sure of your skills or want to learn something new, like spinning or weaving.

Stitching up Spirits is a charity knitting group that meets every Wednesday at Red Rock Café in Mountain View. This group knits for HomeFirst a project to end homelessness. The Green Planet Yarn in San Jose has an impressive list of projects they support. I think I will get the bear pattern for the Mother Bear Project as my christmas gift for someone in need.

What about you, do you like to knit or crochet? Would you consider to support one of these projects?