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Author: The Mesa Maven

Hit The Trail

As of this past Thursday, I Heart Costa Mesa is officially two years old. Two years of getting out into the community, connecting with neighbors and regulars, sharing stories and loving on this eclectic, spirited, coastal city of ours. For those of us involved in creating this content, it has been life-changing to say the least. If there’s one grand takeaway from these early days, it would be something we’ve repeated ad nauseam in nearly every conversation since the beginning: This city is made great by all the people “just quietly doing their thing.” By and large, Costa Mesans aren’t big...

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At The Chamber Door

Costa Mesans are a giving people. There’s a pulse of generosity that beats through this city, powered by neighbors as likely to give you the shirt off their back as a pat on yours.

Groups, committees, associations, teams, volunteers and boards abound, all with the intention of making Costa Mesa – and the lives of the residents and frequenters therein – better in any way possible.

Today we highlight one such public-spirited organization, the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

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Contain Yourself

Photo: Brandy Young It’s no secret we are totally and helplessly in love with Costa Mesa. Her energy, her diversity, her creativity, her vibe…it’s the stuff of sappy, middle-school poetry, to be sure. And while our adoration for this city is all-encompassing (all-consuming?) – stretching far and wide from Irvine Boulevard to the Santa Ana River, 16th Street to John Wayne Airport, South Coast Plaza to SOCO, and all the places in between – we must admit that certain locales within those bounds do give us a little extra zing! Yes, we’re not prone to playing favorites – if it’s...

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The Nickel Tour

We’re coming up on two years since the I Heart Costa Mesa project launched, and since that time we’ve connected with a lot of Costa Mesans (and the lovely people who work in, play in or otherwise love this town.) Along the way, a pattern has emerged in the stories we’ve collected. While people like Costa Mesa for her weather, her beach-close affordability, her big-city-with-a-small-town feel – they fall in love with her details.

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Helping Little Hands

Photo: Brandy Young If Necessity is the mother of invention, then Love is certainly the father. Every parent can attest to both the flights of joy and the weights of responsibility that parenthood entails. But through all the ages and stages of childrearing, one universal truth remains: We want what is best for our kids. Love is a tremendous motivator that can easily compound both innovation and personal growth. And we’ve yet to meet a more shining example of the ingenuity born from a father’s love than local engineer and College Park resident, Abu Zubair. Zubair is the inventor of ZOTTZ,...

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A Friend In Bead

It’s another beautiful day, here on the Mesa; another beautiful opportunity to get out on the town, meet people, try things, and connect with a yet-undiscovered corner of The City Of The Arts. And if, like us, you’re uniquely interested in the very human, the very local and the very creative, we can’t think of a better way to while away the afternoon than over at The Studio in SoBeCa. It’s a welcoming, little, artisan alcove etched out at The Camp by jewelry designer (and occasional armchair therapist) Stacey Peterson.

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Local Recipe: Prime New York Steak For Two

“Our Prime New York Steak recipe is truly delicious. It’s our Spanish, tapas-style version of a classic, crowd-pleasing meal. We start with an Aleppo crème fraîche, then layer on crispy, fingerling potatoes and tender, juicy steak seared to perfection. We then add roasted, green-garlic bulbs and top it all with our feta salsa verde (which almost serves as a chimichurri sauce.) It’s a unique but satisfying, all-in-one dish that’s sure to impress even the most discerning guests. Enjoy!” – Chef Chun

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Airstream Spintrospective

We were cruising around our Mesa the other day – just walkin’ and soakin’ up those coastal, Costa Mesa vibes – when suddenly a most epic idea struck home: What Costa Mesa needs is a signature soundtrack! A mix-tape for the ages, a playlist to end all playlists – a curated collection of superbly-selected songs that, once masterfully melded, embody who we are, how we began, where we’re going. The “Costa Mesa condition” set to music. While the idea may be cool in theory, we personally couldn’t score a soundtrack to save our socks; it’s just not in our suite of skills. But...

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Splash And Learn

And today we mean “dive in” in the most-literal sense, because we’re happily highlighting the pool-based program that’s quickly become the pride of Newport-Mesa: the Costa Mesa Aquatics Club, or CMAC (pronounced: see-mac), for short. When it comes to harboring a deep and abiding love for Costa Mesa, we are hard-pressed to find people who wear it louder or prouder than the swimmers, polo players, coaches and staff at this popular, non-profit program.

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Art Under The Collar

Costa Mesa is “The City of the Arts“ and she wears that moniker well. Here at I Heart Costa Mesa we love waxing poetic about the ever-expanding enormity of our city’s collective talent. In our ongoing quest to further connect with fellow Costa Mesans, we’ve recently delved a bit more deeply into the idea of art itself: What is art? Where is art? How will we know it when we see it? Google ever-so-helpfully defines art as: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination… producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” We love this open-ended definition...

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Member-Based Maker Space

When was the last time you crafted something from scratch? Built something by hand? In a world where “liking” or “sharing” or snapping a pic of other people’s work gives us the same zing as if we’d made it ourselves, are we losing what it means to create something all our own? Here at I Heart Costa Mesa, we’re big fans of “making” and anyone engaged in the courage, commitment and (let’s be honest) dedicated drudgery of it. So it’s no surprise we fell for Steve Trindade – and his Urban Workshop – after visiting the 18,500-square-foot makerspace on Clinton Street (by the airport). Urban Workshop bills...

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Raising the Barra

Costa Mesa is an active place. Maybe it’s the inviting weather, the health-conscious culture or the spirit of engagement that moves us – but whatever the reason, Costa Mesans love to get in gear (and stay there). Physical exercise boasts its own benefits, but the most transformative of these activities tend to meld presence-of-mind with exertion-of-body to create an experience transcendent of sweat alone. So we went in search of some local methods for hacking physical functionality, while mastering the mind-body connection, and what we found was Scott Carr and the conscientious Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coaches / competitors at Gracie Barra Costa Mesa. Head Instructor Scott...

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The Frame Game

Naive. Unrealistic. Gullible. When people discover I Heart Costa Mesa is an online magazine dedicated to celebrating our city and only focusing on the good – they think we are blinded to all the difficulties and injustices in the world. But the truth is, we are painfully aware of it all – the brutal as well as the beautiful. It’s just that our team has made a very deliberate, conscious decision to feed the stories that highlight the everyday good, the positive, the productive. Because we want this project to embody what so many of you already know… that the secret to leading a happy life is all in how you frame it. And when it comes to productivity, positivity and frames, nobody walks that talk better than the hardworking couple-preneurs – Medi and Kristen Bendanna – over at Best Framing.

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Of Amps And Audiophiles

Costa Mesans are a lot of things, but sheeple we are not. There isn’t a blindly-follow-the-crowd bone in a single inch of our city’s 16-square miles. While the exact cocktail of characteristics that make up this phenomenon might be up for some debate, there’s no denying Costa Mesa is catnip for independent thinkers. That spark, spirit and spunk attracts a panopoly of interesting personalities who – if they don’t live here – definitely live to work and play here. So we weren’t surprised by the creative-meets-unconventional machinations behind-the-scenes at our visit to Quilter Labs – a local manufacturer revolutionizing the modern-day guitar amp...

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On The Fli

Happiness on the Mesa comes in many forms. Sometimes, it’s a beautifully-prepared meal. Other times, getting a good sweat going. Maybe your happy place is a community-led collaboration – or just the feeling of coming home to your favorite neighborhood. Yes, finding your bliss in the everyday is the secret to joie de vivre – where delight can come from something as simple as a charmingly-wrapped box. And if “brown paper packages tied up with string” are no longer one of your favorite things, consider stepping up your wrapping and shipping game with today’s featured business, Boxfli.

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The Club Level

Here at I Heart Costa Mesa, we are all about authentic connections; the kind you make when you’re in your most open, community-oriented, heartfelt frame of mind. We love listening, week after week, to the everyday stories that make our town tick. And we’re especially thrilled when those local conversations lead to deeper understanding and new perspectives of this spectacular city of ours. Today’s feature is the perfect example of how easily stereotypes can be swept clean when we connect at the in-person level. That’s because we’re featuring the Mesa Verde Country Club – the local, private, country club of Costa Mesa for over fifty years.

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Learn Like A Pirate

Avast ye students! Climb aboard and batten down the hatches, as we chart a course on the high seas of higher learning. We’re talking, of course, about the hallowed halls of Orange Coast College – home of The Pirates, ye brandishers of Orange and Blue. Since 1947, Orange Coast College has served local students in their quest to attain skills, discover passions and transfer to four-year universities. With a Costa Mesa history that spans almost 70 years, Orange Coast College is hands-down our most storied, local, collegiate institution. Anyone who’s lived here for any length of time has either attended OCC, or has plenty of...

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Biker Babes

A great way to better know your city is to “get lost” within it – find new routes home from work, drive through random neighborhoods and generally learn to take a tourist-eyed view of your very own town. With this sense of newness and discovery, even the most ordinary, Costa Mesa days can reveal extraordinary finds. This exercise is adventure is fun enough to do by car, but the experience is tenfold while tooling around on two wheels. There’s just something about cycling through our city that makes the whole experience “more than.” More real. More sensory. More neighborly. More active. More enjoyable. But if you’re feeling a little shy about getting in that saddle – maybe because you haven’t ridden in a while, feel too overweight for the endeavor, or never learned to ride at all – today’s featured Costa Mesans are here to tell you: anyone can (and should) cycle.

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Running With The Pack

Just when you think you’ve seen it all – lapped up every last drop of cool, creative and quirky our city can dish out – Costa Mesa rounds the corner of the unexpected with new surprises and delights. Today’s feature is one you have to see to believe – but if you spend Saturdays at Fairview Park, perhaps you already have. We’re talking about that cheerful-but-curious collection of canines harnessed to scooters, pulling people; more officially known as the grassroots recreational group, Urban Mushing. It’s a band of merry dog-sledders that meets weekly to give their high-energy breeds a chance to run, pull, focus and socialize – all with happy, healthy results. They’re an eclectic collection of pet owners who don’t let a little thing like our lack of snow stop them from bringing fulfillment to the lives of dogs bred to pull.

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As The Garden Grows

Getting out to lavish love on our city, each week, has unearthed many unexpected delights. New people, new places, new perspectives – Costa Mesa truly sows seeds of wonder around every turn. And today’s feature is a perfect example of one such accidental, yet serendipitous surprise. A few months ago, we were driving through adorable Eastside when we saw a sight that stirred us to a screeching halt. There, before us, was a rustic-yet-retro, charming-yet-contemporary, coordinated-yet-casual residential landscape being installed at the feet of a cute, little cottage. Besmitten with all-things-Costa-Mesa as we are, we just had to meet the genius behind this gawk-worthy garden.

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Go For The Fence

Looking for something fun and unexpected to do in Costa Mesa? You’ve come to the right city. Not only is Costa Mesa full of fabulous, weekend outings-du-jour for every age and interest – but the breadth and depth of our offerings ensure you’ll never live the same weekend twice. Take today’s local feature, for example: the Behind The Picket Fence Antiques Show. It’s an up-cycled, shabby-chic extravaganza – highlighting what’s old is what’s new – four times a year in the parking lot of the Piecemakers Country Store.

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SoBeCa Brewmeisters

Costa Mesa is a study in contrast. Artistic, yet unpretentious. Independent, yet connected. Cozy, yet cosmopolitan. And just when you think you’ve got us pegged as the family-friendly city with that small-town feel – we open up a big ol’ can of Culture and all bets are off. Because while we may be home to some of the cutest, little, ocean-kissed neighborhoods ever to grace a mesa, we’re also rockin’ world-class theater, live music, award-winning restaurants, action-sports industry, SCP, OC Fair and soon the OCMA – to literally name just a few. We’re so packed with culture, our city limits are fit to burst. But until recently, there was one missing ingredient in our cultural cocktail, a key point of omission often used to separate the cultural wheat from the chaff: Costa Mesa’s distinct lack of a brewery.

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Hero Home Makers

Here at I Heart Costa Mesa, we believe the hallmark of a city’s sense of community is more simple and far less measurable: the degree to which its residents show up, participate and care… with full humanity and neighborliness in tact. Not only in the big, splashy ways, (although those can be fun,) but also in the small, quiet acts of kindness that ask nothing in return. And if caring in actionable ways is the path to “true community,” Costa Mesans like Beth Phillips, and her philanthropic foundation, Furnishing Hope, are paving the way.

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