Mincemeat pies taste good to the fruity core

Courtesy of Andy Kavanagh
The mincemeat within Filo Pastry Mince Pies adds healthful fruits to the holiday feast.

During the holiday season, gathering with friends, family and colleagues means one thing: festive indulgence and excess.


Families join in the fun

Town Crier File Photos
Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade participants march around downtown in a past celebration, above. Mountain View Community Tree Lighting Celebration attendees mingle after the main event, below.

Los Altos: Festival of Lights Parade

6 p.m. Nov. 29


Local hobbyist winemakers ferment with style

/Town crier Hobbyist winemaker Scott Bryan provides a tour of his Los Altos Hills vineyard. Bryan estimates that more than 100 local homes feature wine grapes in their gardens.

Say, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, how does your garden grow? With Zinfandel and other grape varietals growing happily in well-manicured rows?

Interest in the winemaking hobby thrives in local neighborhoods. In 2012, a Town Crier article about home winemakers noted that there were approximately 40 local families producing wine for personal use.


Promoting generosity for generations

/town crier Sisters Soraya Kermani, 4, left, and Roya Kermani, 6, provide teddy bears with hugs before the Assistance League donates the toys to children in need.

Set back from the street, the Costume Bank has quietly operated at the corner of State and Third streets for more than 50 years. Inside, however, the Los Altos shop is bustling with volunteer workers devoted to the nonprofit business.

Run by the Los Altos chapter of the Assistance League, a national philanthropic organization, the Costume Bank has just one paid employee - and she’s part time. The approximately 40 other Assistance League of Los Altos members who work there are volunteers. The dedicated corps - comprising mostly local women - devote more than 15,000 hours per year to the store, which rents costumes year-round.


Horsemen’s Association sponsors equine-related activities

Rider and horse pose for a selfie during the Horsemen’s Association Summer Schooling Show.
Shirley pefley/town crier

Horses and riders abound on the Peninsula, with riders showcasing their competitive skills or taking to the trails for leisurely rides through the equestrian-friendly cities of Los Altos Hills, Woodside and Portola Valley.


Now’s the time to plant that cool-season garden

/town crier Celery, left, and lettuce plants await sale at the Los Altos Nursery. To reach mature size, plants should be spaced appropriately in the garden.

It’s not too late to plant vegetables and take advantage of the less-intense half of California’s year-round gardening climate. The time is now - the fall and winter are when vegetables grow more slowly, so you can often "store" them in the garden until you are ready to use them.

In cooler weather, less watering is needed - even if rainfall is below average. Weeds, pests and diseases are usually less of a problem. Herbs such as cilantro are easier to grow when the weather dips. And the taste of crops like kale and broccoli actually improve following a light frost.


Local cities offer array of fall & winter activities

photo The Los Altos Fall Festival features food from local restaurants, specialty wines and beers, a classic car show, live music and a Children’s Alley.

As the long, warm summer days turn into colder, shorter winter ones, a variety of local events crop up to herald the holiday season.


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