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?

Smell the blossoms in the Valley of Heart’s Delight

Smell the blossoms in the Valley of Heart’s Delight

“No brush can paint the picture

No pen describe the sight

That one can find in April

In the Valley of Heart’s Delight”

Poem: The Valley of Heart’s Delight by Clara Louise Lawrence

 

Postcard of automobile routes around Santa Clara Valley to view spring blossoms, circa 1940.Before there was Silicon Valley this part of the world was known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight. It used to be orchards everywhere. A few of these orchards have been kept, most a fractions of their original size, but still a pretty sight in bloom. Back in the 1940 there was even an automobile tour around Santa Clara to see the blossoms. In a postcard from that time the blooming times were stated as: Almonds: Jan 15 to Feb 15, Apricots: Feb 23rd to March 1, Prunes: March 15 to March 22, Cherries: March 22 to April 5

Cherry blossomsThe Heritage Museum in Sunnyvale has an Apricot orchard, but unfortunately they have already bloomed. Now it is time to see the cherry blossoms. A patch of the old Olson’s cherry orchard can be found at S. Mathilda Ave in Sunnyvale, near the tennis courts.

 

Do you know of any other orchards in the Valley of Heart’s Delight?

 

See Justice for All?

See Justice for All?

Justice for All? is an exhibit at the Euphrat Museum of Art, DeAnza College in Cupertino that will run until March 23rd, 2017.

The large ‘Liberty Weeps’ sculpture made from cardboard by artist Joseph DeLappe sets the tone. This show is about injustice, inclusion and exclusion. The theme was chosen before last year’s presidential election, but hence makes it more important than ever.

The art show is in conjunction with Silicon Valley Reads which encourages the reading of  “Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice” by Adam Benforado and  “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison,” a memoir by Shaka Senghor. There are additional events around the area.

‘Pledge Alliance” by Judy ShintaniAnother piece of artwork that I found very moving was ‘Pledge Alliance” by Judy Shintani. She collected wood on a pilgrimage with her father to Tule Lake, a Japanese American incarceration camp, where her father was imprisoned as a teenager.

Do you have a favorite social justice art piece?

 

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.,

Other events:

Art & Empathy: Saturday, March 4, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m

Silicon Valley Reads events

 

Related links:

Metroactive: Art vs. Injustice at De Anza

Mercury News: De Anza’s Euphrat exhibit brings to light injustice through art

Mercury News: Pizarro: De Anza College art exhibit takes on social justice issues

 

Play piano in the park

Play piano in the park

I’m always on the lookout for some unexpected. A grand piano at the park, now that’s what I call unexpected!

For the third year the Santa Clara County Parks together with Sunset Piano and DC Pianos have released five pianos into five parks. They will reside in the parks until October 5th.

Piano at Vasona Lake

What a beautiful idea to combine the outdoors with music.

Here are the locations:

  • Vasona Lake by the boat rental area
  • Historic Casa Grande/New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum on the patio deck
  • Uvas Canyon near the waterfalls at the outdoor amphitheater
  • Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch’s Anglers picnic area
  • Joseph D. Grant near the historic Grant house and rose garden

 

Unfortunately I don’t play. And when I visited some of the pianos no one was playing, in fact they were covePiano at the Quicksilver Mining Museumred up.

If you are like me but you still want to experience the music head out to Vasona Lake on October 2, from 4 to 6 Sunset Piano will perform Classical, Jazz, and pop selections.

Or encourage your piano playing friends to come out.

Anyone up for picnic, park and piano?

Pop into a park

Pop into a park

I have heard about pop-up stores before. Some fun way to test run your retail ideas.

When I came across a pop-up park I was naturally intrigued.

 

On Third Street between State Street and the North Parking Plaza in Los Altos you can experience a pop-up park for the month of August. They rolled out the turf, put up some comfy lawn chairs, lots of kids toys, and a ping pong table!

fun for all ages

They also offer teen nights, movies, and live music, and more. For a full schedule of events visit their calendar at thirdstreetgreen.com

 

Even when there is no program the park it is well received. Especially for the little ones, this is a great hangout spot.

 

Have you ever been to a pop-up park?