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.
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).
After a course at Village Kitchen, accomplished chefs will inch closer to pro status, while those who've chopped more fingers than potatoes will have their clumsiness exorcised thanks to patient instruction from Village's enlightened gurus of all things edible. Classes are held every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (the classes are also offered one Wednesday a month at 6 p.m.), while the theme varies from week to week. On April 10, learn to master the pressure cooker to easily turn out incredible delights like coq au vin with button mushrooms, or discover the joys of the spring harvest on April 24 with a complete tutorial in a four-course seasonal feast with salmon medallions, baked gnocchi, and cherry-chocolate gelato. On May 8, harness the subtle power of Indian spices to create tandoori shrimp, curried salmon with cinnamon rice and golden raisins, and warm rice pudding; or craft the perfect wine appetizers (you'll make five), like scallop ceviche with melon and red-onion asparagus quesadillas, on May 22. You'll eat everything you make and get a beverage, so no one escapes hungry. Classes are limited to 18 people, so when you find the apple class of your human eye, call to schedule before it fills up.
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.
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In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.