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Friday, November 24, 2017

CALIFORNIA ICE CREAM

Image result for three twins ice creamThree Twins Ice Cream: Bay Area-based Three Twins is a small, socially conscious makes delicious ice creams.  I recommend buying some in one of their stores, but the stuff at the market is good too.

Straus Family Creamery: Marshall-based Straus provides most of the dairy products that my household consumes.  Their ice cream is as good as store-bought ice cream gets -- other brands may be as good, but I've never found one that's better.

CALIFORNIA INTERLUDE -- HOW TO BREAK IN A PAIR OF RAW-DENIM JEANS

Related imageRaw-denim jeans are magic.  Broken in correctly, they change their shape to fit you like no other clothing item can.  And -- somehow -- they keep that fits-you-perfectly shape even after you wash them.  But the magic only works if you break them in right.

Here's how:

1. DO NOT wash them right away.  Good raw-denim jeans already will be pretty tight when you get them.  If you wash before wearing, then there’s a good chance that they will shrink up so small that you’ll never get them on.

2. DO NOT get them hemmed right away. Raw denim shrinks a LOT when you wash it.  If you get them hemmed before you wash them (which you SHOULD NOT DO right away), then they’ll be too short afterwards. Roll them up.  Endure the compliments from hipsters.

3. Wear them frequently without washing for at least a month.  Raw denim creases and bends a lot like thin cardboard.  Your goal is to make the denim crease's match yours -- e.g., the jeans' knees should bend in the exact same place that yours legs do -- and to grow accustomed to bending where you bend.  The thicker the denim, the longer it will take.  I wore my 11-weight for six weeks before I soaked them, my 14-weight for six months, and my 18-eight for nine months.  If they start to smell, then let them air out outside.

4. Don’t fold them. Hang them straight – I loop one of the back belt loops over the neck of a hanger, and let the jeans hang full length. Two reasons: 1. If you fold jeans that you’re not washing, then they won’t air out at all, and they will start to smell. 2. The whole point of raw denim is to let it form to your body. That doesn’t work if you flatten them out every time that you wear them. After a while, hanging them gets a bit creepy, because you keep seeing – out of the corner of your eye – your own torso-less body lurking in your closet. That’s a good thing.

5. Important Yet Optional Step: Once the creases in your raw denim have set, soak your jeans and let them dry on your body. I have done this in two ways: 1. By wearing them in the bath tub while I read a book, then letting the water out and letting them dry on me as I sat outside and kept reading the book. 2. By wearing them into the swimming pool, then letting the dry on me poolside. This step is important because it will shape the denim to your body like nothing else will. It is optional because you will be mocked by anyone who catches you doing it. If the words “fashion victim” sound bad when applied to you, then you may just have to settle for less-comfortable jeans.

6. Wear them for at least another month. Wear them hard. Climb trees. Do yard work. Go backpacking. Sweat lots.

7. Wash them, inside out, on cold. Don’t wash them with other clothes – the dye will stain everything else in the wash. I never wash my Brave Stars with other clothes. I don’t know how long it takes for all of the extra dye to bleed out of raw denim.

8. Tumble dry on extra low.

9. Try them on.  Be amazed.  Feel bad about rolling your eyes the first time that you read this post.

10. Decide whether you want to get them hemmed. The hipster way is to wear them rolled up, showing off the selvage stitching. I am not a hipster – I get mine hemmed.

CALIFORNIA CANDLES

Image result for goodlight tea lightsGoodlight Natural Candles: San Francisco-based Goodlight makes palm-wax candles in a variety of shapes, scents (including non-scent), and sizes.  We use their tea lights frequently.  They work -- all the flicker with none of the burnt-petroleum-product smell.

Friday, November 17, 2017

CALIFORNIA WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS

Image result for GU energy gel originalGU Energy Labs: Berkeley-based GU Energy Lab's energy gels are among the most disgusting substances I've ever put in my mouth.  And, as Dumbledore might say, that's saying something.  However: (1) in my experience, all energy gels are equally gag-inducing -- i.e., I've never found an energy gel which I hated less than GU's; and (2) GU's energy gels do a really good job of helping me enjoy long runs.  In fact, the GU-and-endorphins combination that hammers me at mile 6 has been known to make me giggle.  So I recommend GU's energy gels.  Just be sure you're near a drinking fountain when you eat one, and wash it down as fast as you can.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CALIFORNIA SKATEBOARDS

Related imageBoosted Boards: Mountain View-based Boosted, Inc. makes my dream: an electric longboard that will go 22 miles per hour, up a 25% grade.  Starting December 2017, they’ll upgrade to a new battery pack, and Boosted Boards will be able to go 12 miles on a single charge.  I want one so bad!

Image result for body glove Laser Etched "Laser Wave" 34" Longboard Skateboard 
Body Glove: Redondo Beach-based Body Glove claims that its founders used insulation from the back of a refrigerator to invent "the first practical wetsuit."  I have no idea whether that's true.  But I do know that the Body Glove logo makes me stop, smile, and reminisce.  Their surfing (or, in my case, boogie boarding) wetsuits brought much affordable joy to my Central Coast surf-town childhood, and that Body Glove's diving wetsuits were there for me when I learned to scuba.  They also make affordable cruiser and longboard skateboards.
 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

CALIFORNIA DEODORANT

Image result for native deodorantNative Deodorant: San Francisco-based Native produces USA-made, high-end deodorants from natural ingredients.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

CALIFORNIA FOOD CANISTERS

Insulated Food Canister SetKlean Kanteen: Chico-based Klean Kanteen is a B Corporation that makes stainless-steel, BPA-free, insulated food canisters that keep my kids' bag-lunched spaghetti warm until lunch time.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CALIFORNIA FLASHLIGHTS & HEADLAMPS

Image result for maglightMag-Lite: Ontario-based Mag Instruments specializes in sleek, durable, high-quality flashlights.  All of their products are designed in California, and manufactured by USA workers in USA factories.

SureFire:
I have mixed feelings about including Fountain Valley-based SureFire on this list.  They make a host of useful products, including handheld flashlights, headlamps, and even lights you can wear on your wrist.  And the quality of their offerings looks good.  SureFire markets themselves, however, as gun nuts serving gun nuts -- everything they sell was designed with shooting in mind.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

CALIFORNIA CARDIGANS

The Rex Cable CardiganAG Jeans: Los Angeles-based AG made its name designing flattering and socially conscious jeans, which my wife has worn happily for years.  They also make a few cardigans.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

CALIFORNIA HOUSE-CLEANING PRODUCTS


Image result for grab green power degreaser

Grab Green: Camarillo-based Grab Green makes reasonably priced, eco-friendly all-purpose cleaners, kitchen degreasers, and glass cleaners.

CALIFORNIA DISH SOAP


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Grab Green: Camarillo-based Grab Green makes reasonably priced, eco-friendly dish soap.

CALIFORNIA DISHWASHER DETERGENT

Image result for grab green dishwasher podsGrab Green: Camarillo-based Grab Green makes reasonably priced, eco-friendly dishwasher-detergent pods.  They also sell "cookware & bakeware cleaner pods" that allegedly separate baked-on grease from pans and cookware without abrasives or scrubbing, and "garbage disposal freshener & cleaner pods" which allegedly "prevent clogs, remove odors, and loosen grime" -- I have not yet purchased said pods, and I make no representations or warranties regarding their efficacy.

CALIFORNIA DRYER SHEETS

Natural Value: Sacramento-based Natural Value makes affordable, compostable, fair-trade dryer sheets.  Their brick-and-mortar and online distributors are listed on their website: http://naturalvalue.com.
 

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Grab Green: Camarillo-based Grab Green makes reasonably priced, eco-friendly dryer sheets.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

CALIFORNIA GRAPPA

Grappa - ZinfandelPendrays Distillery: Templeton-based Pendrays makes a port-barrel-aged grappa from zinfandel grapes.

Saint James Spirits: Irwindale-based SJS distills their grappa from California-grown zinfandel pumace.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

CALIFORNIA BITTERS

Image result for bar keep bittersGreenbar Distillery: Los Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery makes a organic, variously flavored Bar Keep bitters in their downtown-L.A. distillery.

CALIFORNIA MEZCAL

Image result for Mezcal El SilencioMezcal El Silencio: MES was founded and is based in Los Angeles, but they make their mezcal in Oaxaca out of 100% wild agave plants.  Their branding and merchandising (t-shirts, hoodies, etc.) is unusually cool.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

CALIFORNIA AGAVE SPIRIT (CALIFORNIAN TEQUILA)

Image result for venus spirits anejoIt's not Tequila unless it's made in Tequila, Mexico.  And I'm not so much the California booster to suggest that anything we make here can compete with the real thing.  That said, we Californians have fermented the same ingredients that the Mexicans use to create beverages that are not Tequila, but that still are pretty delicious.

Venus Spirits: Santa Cruz-based VS imports organic agave from the Jalisco highlands, and distills it into award-winning agave spirits.

Channel Islands Distillery: Ventura-based CID makes small-batch tequila.

Greenbar Distillery: Los Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery's organic IXÁ Tequila really is tequila, as in, they make it in Tequila, Mexico.  It is the only one of their spirits that they don't make in their downtown-L.A. distillery. 

Saint James Spirits: Irwindale-based SJS makes a 100% Blue Agave, distilled in California, and aged in French Oak.



CALIFORNIA ANISE-TASTING LIQUOR

Image result for venus spirits aquavitIt seems like every country comes up with a liquor that tastes like black licorice.  California has its own take on a few. 

Venus Spirits: Santa Cruz-based VS makes an award-winning, organic-wheat-based "interpretation" of the Scandinavian liquor Aquavit. 

Bear & Eagle Products: Santa Ana-based Bear & Eagle brews three flavors of Persian-style Arak.

CALIFORNIA GROWLERS

Miir GrowlerChrome: When I lived in the real Bay Area (i.e., the Bay Area in which you can see the Golden Gate and/or Bay Bridge with minimal effort), Chrome was the most ubiquitous brand of messenger bags and backpacks.  Now, they've expanded their line to include everything a bike-messenger-type urbanite needs for day-to-day living, including growlers.

Klean Kanteen: My household relies heavily on insulated bottles from this Chico-based B Corporation.  Klean Kanteen bottles keep my coffee warm, my drinking-water room temperature, and my to-go cocktails cold.  Now -- according to their website -- they also make growlers.  I probably will buy one soon. 

CALIFORNIA CORD ORGANIZERS (AKA CORD WALLETS)

Glaser Designs: San Francisco-based Glaser makes tasteful, expensive-looking cord organizers to order for "executive travelers," which I think means wealthy professionals who spend a lot of time on planes. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CALIFORNIA BRANDIES

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In Distill of the Night Spirits: Central Valley-based IDotNS makes brandy from Central California wines.

Channel Islands Distillery: Ventura-based CID makes small-batch brandy.

Pendrays Distillery: Templeton-based Pendrays makes a port-barrel-aged brandy from viognier grapes.

Bear & Eagle Products: Santa Ana-based Bear & Eagle distills two brandies from California grapes.

CALIFORNIA DEODORANTS

Deodorant Travel SizeBaxter of California: Los Angeles-based Baxter of California focuses on men's body-care products.  I have not bought their deodorants, but I probably will give them a try -- they seem to take them very seriously. 

CALIFORNIA SUNBLOCK

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California North: Sausalito-based California North Skin Care makes SPF 30 and SPF 4 sunscreen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CALIFORNIA WINE BAGS

Murga Boot Company: Rancho Santa Margarita-based MGC makes an alligator wine bag -- an item which I'd never thought to want until I saw it.

Glasner Design: San Francisco-based Glaser makes absolutely beautiful wine bags to order for "executive travelers," which I think means wealthy professionals who spend a lot of time on planes.  

CALIFORNIA GUITARS

Truth be told, it had not occurred to me to do a post on guitars.  I will, of course, be a Guitar God someday.  But I'm not in the market for an ax right this decade. 

But then I discovered that Murga Boot Company -- leather-jacket and cowboy-boots extraordinaires -- also sells custom guitars....

Murga Boot Company: In addition to custom leather clothing, Rancho Santa Margarita-based MBC makes electric guitars, guitar straps, and amplifiers beautiful.

Monday, July 24, 2017

CALIFORNIA SHOES -- BUSINESS & FORMAL

Ballard Custom Footwear: Beverly Hills-based Ballard custom makes dress shoes by hand from a variety of leathers.  Their website doesn't say how much the shoes cost -- I'm guessing it's a lot a lot.

CALIFORNIA COWBOY BOOTS



I have not yet given into my desire for cowboy boots.  When I do succumb to the invitable, however, I plan to start my shopping with these folks:

Luis Jovel Custom Cowboy Bootmaker: I'll start with Fresno-based LJB.  Why?  Because his boots look great, and because he makes them in the heart of California's real cowboy country.

Courtney Custom Boots: Napa-based Courtney Custom is a one-woman shop that makes custom boots by hand.  The waiting list is a year long.

Genio Custom Boots: Escondido-based Genio Custom hand makes elaborate boots at within-dreaming-distances (i.e., less than $1,000) prices.

Hernandez and Sons Custom Boots: San Jose H&SCB makes very pretty things from leathers, including boots.

Ballard Custom Footwear: Beverly Hills-based Ballard custom makes boots by hand from a variety of leathers.  Their website doesn't say how much the boots cost -- I'm guessing it's a lot a lot a lot.

Custom Boots by Michael Anthony: Sebastopol-based Michael Anthony hand makes custom boots from standard and exotic leathers.



Murga Boot Company: Rancho Santa Margarita-based MBC makes custom leather clothing, including some pretty fantastic boots.

CALIFORNIA HATS -- STREETWEAR

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Head'n Home Homemade Hats: Watsonville-based Head'n Home does not really make hats.  They make works of art in leather that happen to be shaped like custom-fit hats.  Their work is expensive (although not prohibitively so), and their styles are not for everyone.  But they are wonderful.

greySan Diego Hat Company: Carlsbad-based SDHC makes a wide variety of inexpensive, very serviceable hats.

CALIFORNIA COWBOY HATS

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Head'n Home Handmade Hats: Watsonville-based Head'n Home does not really make hats.  They make imaginative, meticulously realized works of art that happen to be shaped like custom-fit hats.  It's no surprise, then, that their cowboy hats don't look like anything that a real cowboy would wear.  But these hats definitely deserve to be worn by somebody somewhere.
   
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San Diego Hat Company: Carlsbad-based SDHC makes inexpensive serviceable hats for keeping off the California sun.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

CALIFORNIA SCARVES -- STREETWEAR

Cashmere Blend Ribbed Scarf in GreyDSTLD: Los Angeles-based DSTLD is an online-only, direct-to-consumer designer and seller of Kenneth Cole-grade clothing and accessories.  Their wares include scarves.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CALIFORNIA PANTS -- STREETWEAR



Image result for seven for all mankind
7 For All Mankind: Los Angeles-based 7 For All Mankind makes the streetwear that Hollywood stars are wearing in paparazzi photographs.  I own a wine-colored pair of 7FAMK’s Luxe Performance Sateen pants. They fit well, the fabric is comfortable against my skin, and they make me slouching loll like Johnny Thunders.

Chrome: When I lived in the real Bay Area (i.e., the Bay Area in which you can see the Golden Gate and/or Bay Bridge with minimal effort), Chrome was the most ubiquitous brand of messenger bags and backpacks.  Now, they've expanded their line to include everything a bike-messenger-type urbanite needs for day-to-day living, including pants.

AG Jeans: Los Angeles-based AG made their name designing flattering and socially conscious jeans, which my wife has worn happily for years.  They also make streetwear pants from fabrics other than denim, such as sateen.