The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa just started a wine cork recycling program with ReCORK By Amorim, which reprocesses wine corks into shoes. The resort is collecting its own corks for the cause, and you can help, too. Just bring in a cork as a donation, and you'll receive $1 off select bottles of wine (up to $25). The goal of the program is also to raise awareness of the crucial role cork forests play in curbing climate change. Instead of ending up as garbage, recycled cork can be used in items such as flooring tiles, building insulation, craft materials, soil conditioner and much more. The resort is at 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 845-4776, or visit huntingtonbeach.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp or recork.org.
Grow easy organics
Here's an easy way to incorporate homegrown organic herbs and vegetables to your cooking. Newport Beach-based Harvest to Home is a garden service that actually brings you a choice of seasonal fresh vegetables and herbs potted and ready to enjoy all year long. You don't even have to water. Harvest to Home offers an optional self-watering system. All you have to do is select a garden box and stand (from their website), pick your favorite vegetables and herbs and schedule your delivery. They'll even install it for you.
When the season is over (normally four months), you can choose from the current season's harvest or have your boxes taken away with no further commitment. Even restaurants are using Harvest to Home to include seasonal produce on their menu, including the Cottage in Laguna Beach, 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa, Mama D's Italian Kitchen in Newport Beach, Every Bloomin' Thing in Costa Mesa, the Coyote Grill in Laguna Beach and Cucina Alessá in Huntington Beach. And as a special for Greer's OC readers, just mention Greer's OC and save 15% on your first order at Harvest to Home. For more information, call (949) 873-5400 or visit http://www.harvesttohome.com.
Age your own price
The Tides in Laguna Beach is offering an incredible birthday deal through June 2011 that you need to know about. It's a great spot and a fantastic value for families, couples and business travelers. The last two digits of your birth year is your rate on your birthday. A two-night minimum stay is required; standard rates apply on additional room nights. Here's how it works: If you were born in 1969, your rate will be $69 on your birthday night. The special is for one night only, and you must stay on your actual birthday. Guests must be at least 18 and show ID. The offer expires June 30.
Here's the scoop on the Tides: It's a completely refurbished 21-room hotel with a comfortable, homey setting in picturesque Laguna Beach. Amenities include a large outdoor patio with a heated saltwater pool, wood-burning fireplace and gas grill, plus free use of beach items such as chairs, towels and bodyboards. Dogs are welcome for $25 per night, which includes a cozy pet blanket and chewy treat. Ten of the rooms at have well-furnished kitchenettes. All rooms are non-smoking. The hotel is at 460 N. Coast Hwy. For more information, call (888) 777-2107 or visit http://www.tideslaguna.com.
Expand jewelry collection with one piece
Laguna Beach-based jewelry designer Nan Fusco's collection of handmade fine jewelry and a new line of convertible sterling chains takes my breath away, and that doesn't happen all that often. One piece of Nan's jewelry can satisfy many stylish moods: cool, chic, summery, eclectic, you name it. And wow, she has access to delicate and unique stones that set her designs apart: lapis, blue chalcedony, oval cabochons, blue lace agate, iolite, pink, lavender and white sapphires.
Her sterling silver line is a great bang for your buck ($365 to $600). One design can morph into six necklaces: just loop it, double it, separate it, tie it, super-long it or fringe it. And many can even be worn as bracelets. Favorites include a versatile chain of gunmetal, vintage silver, copper mélange with keisha pearls ($495) and a sterling and vintage silver pearl pulley that you can wear as a traditional necklace or pull the chains through the pulley to turn it into a choker, or turn it upside down for a symmetrical look ($495). See for yourself here what the buzz is all about!
Her fine jewelry — necklaces, drop and dangling earrings, and bracelets — are super special, from six strands of handmade oval and circle links in 22k gold with South Sea baroque pearls and column of orange and sage fancy sapphires that simply tie in front, to a no-two-are-alike 18k gold chain with four bezel-set multi-colored tourmalines. Nan Fusco's jewelry is available online. Enjoy!
Just a taste of cake
Sometimes, just a bite is all you want and need. And that's exactly the delicious simplicity of Orange County's own Just a Bite Cake Pops. The darling cake pops are hand-dipped, decorated and wrapped and perfect for party favors, place cards, centerpieces or even elegant, classic or funky displays — it's your call.
Owner and baker Mindy Himmel started baking cake pops a few years ago for parties and for friends, and one thing led to another and before she knew it she created and perfected Just a Bite fun and unique cake pops. Just a Bite Cake Pops offers a flavor of the month and classic flavors like chocolate, red velvet, vanilla and classic carrot. There are also gourmet flavors: toasted coconut with a German chocolate flair, mint chocolate with real Andes mint pieces, carrot cake with white chocolate candy topped with chopped walnuts, and peanut butter cup, a peanut butter cake coated in sweet milk and dusted with chopped peanuts. The pops are priced at $30 per dozen (two dozen or more).
Just a Bite Cake Pops can now be bought at the Irvine Ranch Market, 2651 Irvine Ave. in Costa Mesa. For more information, call (949) 631-4404.