GIFTS FROM THE EAST: OUR 2014 GUIDE TO CREATIVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING IN SAN DIEGO’S INLAND REGION

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By Miriam Raftery

November 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Looking for some original gift ideas this holiday season – as well as a way to support local merchants and infuse our own economy? Never fear. East County Magazine’s annual “Gifts from the East” features an array of unique specialty items from East County and San Diego’s inland region, with something to suit every budget.

Whether you’re looking for gourmet goodies from local farms, hand-crafted musical instruments, glitzy jewelry, hand-woven clothing and toys, soaps, cowboy boots or a surprise for the wine lover on your list, you’ll find it all right here in our region.

SUCCULENTS GALORE

Water-wise plants are hot this season.  The Succulent Source in Valley Center is offering 50 colorful succulents for $40 through its website at http://thesucculentsource.com/product/50-succulent-cuttings/ .  The cuttings are ideal for terrariums, floral-style arrangements and wired bouquets. You can also get 30 succulents in 2 inch pots for $80, ready to plant, or choose any five for $13. These are so popular, brides are even using them now for water-wise wedding bouquets! If you don't want to drive to Valley Center, you can order online for home delivery at http://thesucculentsource.com/.

FUSION GLASS GLITZ

At Fusion Glass Co. in La Mesa, 8872 La Mesa Blvd., you can find many dazzling and affordable gift items to fit every budget.  There are fusion glass pendant necklaces for $19 to $49 and many other jewelry items for women.  As for that hard-to-buy-for man on  your list, how about fused glass cufflinks ($39) or other accessories such as tie clips. For the guy who has everything, you can even get a fusion glass money clip for $30! Visit http://www.fusionglassco.com for more gift ideas, or stop by their shop.

BANJOS: FROM BASIC TO BLING

Give the gift of music! East County is home to several top-notch musical instrument makers.  Deering Banjo is the largest maker of banjos in America, with a factory right here in Spring Valley. You can start with a “Goodtime” banjo from $499, all the way up to some elaborate models priced at tens of thousands of dollars, adorned with exquisite materials and intricate workmanship.  www.deeringbanjos.com

WINE CLUB MEMBERSHIP

For the wine lover on your list, consider a bottle of a special vintage from a local winery.  Better yet, give a wine club membership! One of the best values we found is the silver wine club membership package at Hacienda de Las Rosas Winery in Ramona. There is no signup fee, though you agree to buy two bottles every other month. Membership includes free wine tastings, two free tickets to a private grape stomp party with live music and refreshments, complimentary port and dessert Valentine Day special,  fun wine pickup parties (or they can ship), plus discounts if you buy additional wine. This winery has some wonderfully rich red wines, as well as specialties such as peach chardonnay and apple gringo wines. You can shop online at http://www.sdwinery.com or savor a day of winetasting at their winery in Ramona, where you can also admire the Peruvian Paso horses that they raise. 

BOOKS ABOUT EAST COUNTY

Sunbelt Publications  is a local publisher in El Cajon with a treasure-trove of books including many about our region.  Also check out their book of the month club, which this month features Desert Bighorn Sheep by former Anza-Borrego Desert State Park superintendent Mark C. Jorgensen and spectacular photography by Jeff young. Check out their many delightful offerings at http://www.sunbeltbook.com.

COWBOY BOOTS AND WESTERN WEAR

Where the West is Dressed" is the slogan for Wild Bill's Western Emporium at 1235 Broadway in El Cajon. Since 1980, this has been a family owned business that carries one of the largest selections of western clothing in Southern California including an array of elaborate,high-quality Western-style boots in a variety of leathers plus Western shirts, jeans, cowboy hats, belt buckles, cowgal jewelry and  some super-cute children's cowboy and cowgirl boots, too. Yee-ha! You can shop in the store or online at www.shopwildbills.com.

ALPACA GLOVES, HATS AND TOYS

A Simpler Time Store, 1802 Alta Place in El Cajon (http://www.asimplertimestore.com/) sells luxurious Alpaca gloves ($18),  hats (felt or fluffy fur, all $65) made of thick, beautiful and warm woold shorn from the family’s own herd of alpacas. For the child on your list, check the  delightful alpaca figures ($39) and even alpaca teddy bears!

ALPACA RUGS

La Dolce Vita Alpacas in Ramona offers hand-woven, locally made rugs crafted with wool from alpacas raised on their East County ranch. The rugs are woven by Skyler Farr at Julian Weaving works in Santa Ysabel.  Each rug is one-of-a kind, but pricey at $495 for a 41 x 25 and a half inch rug. http://www.ldvalpacas.com/LDVA/Welcome.html

 

BOAR SOAPS AND FARM-FRESH PRODUCE

What could be more manly to tuck into his holiday stocking than a bar of locally made wild boar soap? Choose from mountain forest or vanilla orange, each $5 a bar at Primeval Gardens farm in Potrero.  Bonus for the hunter in your life -- you can also find a recipe for wild boar burgers on their blog.  Or for the veggie-lover and healthy eater in your family, splurge on a farm-fresh box of produce delivered for $25 a week (limited distribution areas) from Primeval Gardens' community supported agriculture program.  http://www.primevalgardens.com

LAVENDER SWEETS AND MORE

What could be sweeter than lavender honey and lavender strawberry spread?  Unless of course it’s lavender caramel sauce…just a few of the delicacies available through Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center.  The farm is closed to the public this time of year, but you can order their products online at http://www.kclfarm.com/ .  Besides the gourmet goodies, you can also find lavender candles, body care products, perfumes, essential oils and culinary herbs.