Posted by P. Miller (Guest Writer)
Okay, it’s already ten days into December, and you haven’t done any Christmas shopping? Is it because you’ve lived in Ventura County for so long that you’re overwhelmed with all the options here? Or perhaps you are new to the area and don’t know where to even begin to shop. Well, let’s narrow it down and open up some possibilities.
The most obvious places to go would be the malls and shopping plazas if you can manage the crowds. There’s the Pacific View Mall for you Ventura locals, The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, the Camarillo Premium Outlets if you’re looking for quality at a deal, and the Market Place off the 101 in Oxnard at Rose Avenue.
But if you fancy gifts which reflect the essence of Ventura County or of a more specific nature, try one of the many specialty boutiques like The Wine Closet in Old Town Camarillo, or bike shops in Ventura for that bicycle enthusiast, a cigar/smoke shop for your tobacco connoisseur, or one of the surf shops along Thompson Blvd. for the friend who likes to catch the biggest wave. If you have a relative that needs a bit of pampering, try a gift certificate for a day at one of our fabulous spas. And for the health nut, there’s a great little organic and health food shop on Main Street downtown.
This brings me to managing the shopping experience. The Ventura area has several places to go if you want to get something out of the shopping day for yourself. First, there’s downtown Ventura on Main Street, where you can spend the day strolling up and down the Santa Barbara State Street-like sidewalks, discovering the nooks and crannies of our local retail entrepreneurs. While you’re buying gifts for your loved ones and little happy’s for your co-workers, you can take in a movie at the cinema, a cup of coffee from several cafes and coffee shops, lunch at your choice of the various restaurants, or just the breath-taking view up on the hill above the main strip. You can even take a walk over the 101 bridge down to the beach and do some shopping while you’re at the Promenade.
Then, if you travel up into the mountains, you can enjoy a day cruising through the many artists’ studios in Ojai. What a fabulous place to pick up that unique gift that’s only from the Ventura area!
If the twists and turns of Topa mountain roads don’t agree with you, then visit the other part of heaven- Ventura Harbor Village. Here, you can find a few specialty shops while absorbing the marine life of boats pulling in to dock. Why not try on dozens of hats at the hat shop, and then rent a paddle boat for an hour before ending the day with a yummy hand-scooped ice cream cone. Oh, and don’t forget to get a few Christmas gifts!
After all that running around Camarillo, Ventura and Oxnard, it’s time to do some at-home Christmas shopping. No, I don’t mean online shopping; although, that is a smart way to comparison shop before you go out to the mall. What I’m referring to is making gifts from the kitchen. Nothing is easier, cheaper, and more personable than to give a hand-made gift to your boss or teacher. You can find a plethora of gift recipes on the internet, and I’ve provided my favorite one here, as well. A craft store like Michael’s in Ventura or Camarillo will have any kind of container and ribbon you need; even the 99 Cent Store in Oxnard and downtown Camarillo will have a few. Make a list of ingredients; then order them from Von’s, and have them delivered to your door for a very small fee. Set up an assembly line in your kitchen, line up your workers (kids), and before you know it, you’ve got a dozen wrapped gifts that are unique and delicious!
As a relatively new resident renting in the City of Ventura, I don’t have a huge knowledge of all the treasured shopping places in Ventura County, myself. Let me know of any other must-shop sites in our county!
Make a big batch of this sweet, crunchy snack, and package it in several little canisters or jars, tied with a bow.
1 package (6 oz, 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup peanut butter
½ cup peanuts (optional)
6 cups rice Chex or Crispix
1 cup powdered sugar
In large bowl, melt chocolate in microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and heat an additional 30 seconds on HIGH or until melted. Stir in peanut butter and peanuts. Gently stir cereal into chocolate-peanut butter mixture, until well coated.
- Place powdered sugar in 2-gallon storage bag. Add coated cereal to sugar and close bag. Gently toss cereal mixture until well coated. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Yields 8 cups