Juicy tidbits of chocolate-dunked fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful bouquets and candy boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's in-house chocolatiers drizzle albion strawberries and daisy pineapples in a trio of chocolate flavors. Once properly chocolated, the workers organize the preservative-free sweets into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Customers can choose to plop their bouquets in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts. Alternatively, customers can opt to adorn gifts with the cheery, red lids of candy boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision as they guess whether fruit will come dusted in shredded coconut or drizzled in white chocolate.
Once upon a frustrated Friday, the futile hunt for gluten-free foods began to upset the stomach and mind of Josie Rietkerk. Shortly thereafter, with wellness and diversity in mind, Rietkerk opened stellaLucy Gluten-Free Market in a modestly sized, 1,000-square-foot space. Since then, she's managed to expand the space, now carrying thousands of grocery items devoid of gluten, plus a wide assortment of casein- and Kryptonite–free goods.
With a verdant variety of shrubs, trees, roses, and vines, the friendly plantologists will help you wade through the veritable ocean of foliage. Beginning green-thumbers can take advantage of a jumbo planting kit, including ample plant food, vitamin B1, and planting compost—everything a person needs to lure an unsuspecting plant into captivity ($15.97 for the regular kit; $29.97 for the jumbo kit). Advanced yard-enhancements abound in the form of trees and shrubs, such as a selection of 5-gallon citrus trees, good for accenting a living space and forming a focal point for the worship of the Lemon Pledge gods ($34.99). Armstrong can also help organic gardeners reach full-flavored nirvana with a bevy of 3-inch plant varieties ($2.99; selections vary by season and location).
Once an actual storage facility, Packing House Wine Merchants converted the novel space into a comfortable wine bar, shop, and lounge stocked with high-quality vintages from around the world. Silky libations like the Godspeed cabernet from Napa Valley ($11 per glass) seduce the senses with a complex balance of black cherry infusions, mineral hints, and spices. Opt for the chilled sweetness of Germany's Armand Kabinett riesling ($7.50 per glass) and be rewarded with the mingled pleasures of apricot, musk, melon, mango, and brown-spiced persimmon. The adventurous and mathematically inclined can pair a thematic tasting, each with two to six samples ($5–$17), with one of four specialty cheese plates ($15 each) for an endless permutation of tasty tippling. Packing House also offers live music entertainment on Saturdays to entertain the wine while it awaits its inevitable fate.
Located at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Grow Native Nursery helps to educate tender-footed gardeners and green thumbs alike. In addition to overseeing a huge selection of plants, the nursery’s resident experts lead clinics on the first Saturday of each month, answering questions about gardening, landscaping, and how to house-break a baby flower. The surrounding garden has provided greenery to the public for more than 30 years, emphasizing the importance of native botanicals, such as San Diego ambrosia, California lilacs, and prickly pears.