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[whitespace] Fuzzy Slippers
Big Foot Sighting: Fuzzy slippers from Pacific Wave keep pedal extremities warm on the coldest nights. The spectacular Star Lantern (left) can be found at ID in downtown Santa Cruz.

Think Locally, Give Globally

Sometimes the best presents are unique to one's hometown

By Janet Blaser

VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS haven't danced in my head for some years now, having been replaced by, chronologically, hopes for piles of CDs, desires for elegant lingerie and, sadly, at long last, not-so-secret requests for power tools from Orchard Supply. But analyzing your own needs for sensory pleasures is fruitless at this time of year--'tis the season of giving, after all, to others.

Shops in Santa Cruz hold an amazing mélange of unusual items, and while you may be used to all that's offered, relatives, friends and old lovers stand a good chance of being surprised and delighted by what you can find. Act like you live somewhere special by sending your cousin in Ohio a cool piece of clothing with an equally cool logo.

Chances are most people don't realize that our little ol' hometown has lots of such things available and that they won't seem like a dork if they give someone, say, a sweatshirt from Paradise Surf Shop, a tank top from Mr. Toots or even an apron from Gayle's Bakery.

You'll be surprised at how many restaurants, stores and even events (the Santa Cruz Blues Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, for instance) offer high-quality customized clothing that, when transplanted to Aunt Mildred in Long Island, is quite exotic.

Cold feet are no fun for anyone, of any age, and manufacturers have finally realized that practical doesn't have to be boring. Case in point: the plethora of cool, cute and downright chic slippers flooding the market this season.

Some, like the hot pink or baby-blue fuzzy fake-fur slippers at Pacific Wave are as much conversation pieces as warm footwear. Other styles include leopard and zebra prints, posh two-toned burgundy/black faux fur and every girl's favorite, Powder Puff scuffs in chartreuse or electric blue.


ALTHOUGH LAST YEAR'S millennium fears prompted the release of solar-powered radios, someone, somewhere, deserves thanks for adding a whimsical touch to these otherwise pragmatic machines.

Now housed like iMacs in a rainbow of bright-colored see-through plastic (as well as smoky gray), these babies will keep you informed of breaking news no matter how removed you are from society or how much post-earthquake stress you're experiencing. And, no longer fueled by predictions of Armageddon, prices have gone down, too. They are available locally at Outdoor World and Radio Shack.

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight ... let it be one of these pretty star-shaped paper lanterns from Integrand Design. Available in an assortment of solid colors as well as tiny, Indian-inspired two-tone prints, the three-dimensional lanterns are lit from within by a single electric bulb. Some have small holes that allow patterned beams of light to shine through; use a colored bulb or hang several in a room for an entirely different effect. Packaged flat, these are really easy to ship; they also make great hostess gifts for all that holiday gallivanting you've got planned.

I know, I know, Mom always said giving gift certificates was the easy way out of holiday shopping. Not so in this case--a gift certificate from Kuumbwa Jazz Center might just be the most talked-about present found under the tree on Christmas morning. Available in any denomination, who knows--if you're a really good boy or girl, you might get asked to accompany the lucky recipient to the concert of their choice. Call 427.2227 or log on to www.kuumbwajazz.com for details.

Years ago, someone gave me a hand-tooled leather journal as a birthday gift, and still, every time I write in it, I think of that friend and all she means to me. Well, you too can endear yourself to someone special by doing the same thing. Dyed in rich, dark colors, and carved with Celtic knots, medieval landscapes and other simple designs, these hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind books in a variety of sizes are also available as sketch pads, address books and checkbook covers. Find them at Paper Vision or Bookshop Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue.

Bookshop Santa Cruz: 1520 Pacific Ave, SC, 423.0900.
Gayle's Bakery: 504 Bay Ave, Capitola, 462.1200
Integrand Design: 1515 Pacific Ave, SC, 426.4717.
Mr. Toots Coffeehouse: 221 Esplanade, Capitola, 475.3679
Outdoor World: 136 River St, SC, 423.9555; 1440 41st Ave, Capitola, 479.1501.
Pacific Wave: 1502 Pacific Ave, SC, 458.9283.
Paper Vision: 1345 Pacific Ave, SC, 458.1345.
Paradise Surf Shop: 3961 Portola Dr, SC, 462.3880.
Radio Shack: 335 Soquel Ave, SC, 429.9215; Capitola Mall, 475.8550; 1990 Freedom Blvd, Freedom, 724.6565; 245 Mt. Hermon Rd, Scotts Valley, 438.1730.

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From the November 15-22, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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