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Our holiday guide to gifts unique to East County

By Miriam Raftery

Hot Pads
Buckskin baby booties are available at Mountain Oaks
Trading Post, Julian

December 1, 2008 (San Diego's East
County) —
This holiday season, why not choose gifts that benefit our community and provide
recipients with gifts that are unique to East County and San Diego's eastern

In today's tough economic times, local merchants need support from community
members--especially during the holiday shopping season.   Buying products
made overseas or from companies that outsource jobs to foreign markets does
not help the U.S. economy or American workers.   Too many people
don't realize that ordering from big box discount stores or from Internet vendors
in distant places takes business away from our local economy.

Spending money right here in East County helps local merchants, artists and
artisans.  It also boosts sales tax revenues for our local cities and
small towns.  Buying from local vendors or better yet, choosing goods
made locally, also means saving energy, since no fuel is used to ship items
from far away.  Best of all, choosing a gift reflective of East County's
culture, heritage and resources means those on your holiday list will receive
items that are both beautiful and special.

Here are a few of my favorite local places to find gifts unique to East County,
including options to fit all budgets:


A Trading Post
12473 Woodside Ave Ste C, Lakeside, CA

Native American doll
Native American doll from A Trading Post in Lakeside
was created by a local artisan.
Native American doll
A Trading Post in Lakeside offers a fabulous array
of Native American
jewelry, from bracelets set with precious stones to elaborate squashblossom
Hand-painted sheepskin throws at A Trading Post
in Lakeside

Specializing exclusively in Native American handicrafts,
the trading post carries items made by Indian tribal members across North
America, including many created by Kumeyaay Indians right here in East
County.  Among my favorite "finds" are the beautifully life-like
Indian dolls, hand-painted sheepskin throws, dream catcher ornaments
and wind chimes, plus fabulous Indian jewelry at very reasonable prices.

Craft Fairs

Gold-dipped leaf jewelry at a Julian craft fair
Hot Pads
Hand-crafted hot pads at a Julian craft fair.

Local craft fairs are among the best places to find wonderfully unique
gifts at very affordable prices.  At a recent craft fair in Julian,
I found crocheted hot pads, gold-dipped leaves made into jewelry, wooden
ornaments and many other treasures. Julian's next craft fairs are scheduled
for December 12-14 and December 26-31, in the Julian Town Hall from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m., or check out a craft fair in your own neighborhood to
find neighboring artists and artisans.  

Julian Cider Mill
2103 Main Street Julian, CA

Hot Pads
Julian Cider Mill offers tasty syrups, ciders,
jams and more -- all locally made.

No visit to Julian is complete without a stop in the Julian Cider Mill,
which has a variety of delicious, locally-made food products including
honey, jam, syrup, candy, nuts, dried fruits, and my personal favorite,
spiced apple butter.  Warning: fragrant aromas may entice you to
interrupt your shopping and savor a caramel-dipped apple or piping-hot
cup of cider.

Julian’s Yesteryears
2116 Main St., Ste D Julian, CA

Hot Pads
Locally-made scarves and caps at Julian's Yesteryear.
Hot Pads
Hand-dipped beeswax candles, including some suited
for Hanukah menorahs, at Julian's Yesteryears.

This charming store carries an assortment of old-fashioned items sure
to warm the hearts of those on your holiday gift list, from hand-dipped
beeswax candles to kitchen wares to  locally-made, soft-knitted
scarves ($32.95) and caps ($24.95) in every color of the rainbow.

The Lavender Fields

Hot Pads
Lavender bath and body gift pack ($30) from The
Lavender Fields, Valley Center.

Located in Valley Center, The Lavender Fields recently closed its fields
and gift store to the public.  Fortunately, you can still buy their
pungent items online including essential oils, bath and body products,
culinary lavender, pet products, aromatherapy, therapeutic lavender items,
and bundles of French lavender--ooh la la! Or opt for a gift bag with
lavender body wash, classic lavender body lotion and lavender sleep balm

Mountain Oaks Trading Post
4470 Highway 78, Julian, CA

Hot Pads
Locally-made scarves and caps at Julian's Yesteryear.
Hot Pads
Hand-woven Indian basket and jewelry at Mountain
Oaks Trading Post, Julian.

Choose from a delightful assortment of mountain crafts and Native American
items, including hand-woven Indian baskets and for the papoose on your
list, hand-made white buckskin baby moccasins trimmed with beads ($45).

Olaf Wieghorst Heritage of the
Americas Museum gift shop 

131 Rea Avenue, El Cajon, CA.

Hot Pads
"Navajo Madonna" is among the prints
by famed Western artist Olaf Wieghorst available at the Olaf Wieghorst
Heritage of the Americas Museum and Gift Store in El Cajon.

Original paintings by Wieghorst, the world-famous Western artist who
lived in El Cajon for many years, have sold for more than $2 million.  A
former cowboy, Wieghorst painted beautiful and realistic renditions of
the Old West which can be viewed at the museum.  The adjacent gift
store carries prints of his works ranging from several hundred dollars
to around $1,000.  The shop also has art books on his work, as well
as original art and sculptures by other Western artists, including some
local artists. 

Orfila Vineyards
Two locations and tasting rooms:
4470 Highway 78, Julian, and
13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido

Hot Pads
Local wines and other gifts displayed at Orfila

Winner of over 1,000 medals for its fine wines, Orfila Winery is located
in Escondido, where Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussane, as well
as Sangiovese and Merlot are produced from locally-grown grapes.  Orfila
Vineyards & Winery also produces wines made from Johannisberg Riesling,
Gewuerztraminer , Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes grown in other California
areas. Sample vintages at two local tasting rooms in Julian and Escondido--or
sign up wine-lovers on your list in the Owl Club to get regular shipments
of wines at members-only prices.

Sophie’s Gallery and Gift Shop
109 Rea Avenue, El Cajon, CA

Hot Pads
Sales of hand-painted clothing at Sophie's Gallery
and Gifts benefit the artists: disabled adults.

All gifts at Sophie's are hand-made by disabled adults in programs through
St. Madeline's Sophie's Center.  Bring a smile to the faces of these
special artists by supporting this program that fosters their creativity
and independence.  Choose from a variety of colorful items, including
many "green" items crafted from recycled materials.   Among
my favorites:  hand-painted caps, scarves, ties and denim jackets,
and jewelry, all moderately priced.

Hot Pads
Herbal soap gift pak – 10 soaps for just $10.50.

Summers Past Farms
15602 Olde Hwy 80,  Flinn Springs, CA

Treat friends or family to an herbal soap making kits ($58), or pick
up a sample pack of 10 delightfully-scented soaps for just $10.50.  All
soaps are vegetable based herbal soaps.  A special blend of
natural ingredients: coconut oil, palm kernel oil, olive oil.  Enriched
with jojoba and wheat germ oil to soften your skin.  Choose from
seasonal, specialty or traditional soap varieties.

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