For a long time, owning a quilt shop was a dream deferred for Daniela Stout. In fact, the way she describes it, it was basically a fantasy, albeit one with not enough dragons. But she was determined to make it happen, and when it did, she was almost surprised when her Cozy Quilt Shop developed a loyal following of customers who loved quilting and everything about it.
Today the shop, which boasts more than 4,500 square feet home to more than 3,000 bolts of colorful, high-quality fabric, contains all the tools, accessories, and inspiration quilters want and need. A monthly quilting club, cheekily named the Strip Club, gives crafters a chance to get together, sew, and share ideas. For those who need a little more instruction, Cozy Quilt Shop teaches patrons the basics of sewing in a variety of classes.
Master crafter Laura opened The Bouncing Bead in 2004 to provide a creative foster home for budding beaders and bling builders. Skilled instructors lead a variety of classes in disciplines including wire coiling, classic pearl knotting, and basic beading. Each class teaches proper techniques and builds the firm foundation jewelry enthusiasts need to build the sparkles that give well-worn garments the freshness of a coconut picked straight from the tree. Prices vary per course, but typically average between $25 and $50; students can register online, by mail, by phone, or in person. View a complete calendar listing of upcoming workshops here.
The Boudoir Divas want to make the "ultimate supermodel experience" accessible to every woman, and the website's testimonial page offers happily tearful proof of that mission's success. For example, client Susan wanted to shed her everyday style for a day of flashbulbs and glamour. She starts her anecdote by describing the consultation she had in the jazzy, girly dressing room, and finishes her story by confessing that when she saw her prints, she cried. Susan described the experience as life-changing, saying, "it was just one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Second to my wedding."
Creating these unforgettable experiences is an all-female staff of photographers, makeup artists, and image editors, who run a 6,500-square-foot studio that houses a dressing room, more than 16 sets, and an area to review subjects' proofs. Spangled with vanity lights, the crimson dressing room is lined with a wall of shoes, and opposite, a wardrobe rack is strewn with leopard print, tulle, fringe, and lace, offering a variety of mix-and-match outfit choices. Numerous packages are available, and the Divas' portfolio is divided into Romantic, Supermodel Sassy, Fine Art, and Simply Beautiful categories.
Located between the barrel room and the vineyards at the historic Bernardo Winery, Café Merlot combines Europe cuisines with Southern California flare. Café Merlot co-owner Toni Kraft grew up in a home with the smells of baking bread, and counts planting, harvesting, and consuming fava beans with her grandmother among her fondest childhood memories. After a career in catering in the Midwest, where she worked alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Wolfgang Puck, Toni brings an experienced but experimental philosophy to her current restaurant’s seasonally-changing menus. And with the help of executive chef Ferdinand, Toni also helps with the cooking classes, which range from cooking with wine to Super Bowl snacks, spreads, and marinades.
The bistro uses the 123-year-old winery’s rustic surroundings to great effect. On the patio, olive trees and grapevines gossip above diners. Indoors, a warm-toned Tuscan ambiance welcomes guests. Sundays see Chef Daniel roll out some of his specialties on the brunch menu, such as lobster eggs benedict and Kahlua French toast, making the cafe an enticing destination for a romantic breakfast date or a confusing business meeting.
Eschewing the over-the-top costumes and writing that typify many other murder-mystery dinners, The Dinner Detective San Diego’s cast of improvisational actors blends in with audiences, holding secrets tight to their chests while steering each night’s tension-filled storyline. After a diner is found murdered, a resident detective helps lead the investigation, allowing guests to interrogate one another with Tickle Monster tactics to distinguish the culprit among the crowd of fellow diners and dissembling thespians. Multicourse meals keep bodies well fueled during spurts of crime-solving intuition, and a prize basket awaits the gumshoe who comes closest to solving the case.