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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for April 2014

Circus Vargas is coming to Irvine!

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Monday, Apr 28, 2014

Circus Vargas Irvine 

The circus is coming to town! Many of us growing up in California can remember just how exciting it was to see the blue and yellow Circus Vargas tents being raised in our home town field or parking lot, knowing that we would soon be able to watch acrobats and clowns put on a show. From May 1-19, it will be Irvine's turn to enjoy the spectacle going on inside the blue and yellow tent. The days of elephants and caged lions have been traded in for a much more "PC" experience that relies on the talent of an entirely human cast with superhuman talents. The cast and crew is made up of families living, working, and training together as they move from town to town, entertaining visiting family's along the way.

Circus Vargas 1 

Magikaria Extreme, the name of the current Circus Vargas show, is headlined by talented illusionist (and heart throb according to my seven-year-old daughter) Patrick Gable who seems to be inspired by Chris Angel and his brand of rock n' roll magic. His impressive illusions are just part of the modernized fun attendees can expect while attending the circus. The circus still features the trapeze artists, acrobats, and clowns that we have come to expect from a big top show but the performances combine upbeat music and modern theatrics with the usual stunts and laughs. No red nose and white face paint for Alex the clown, but still plenty of hijinks and laughs.

When asked for their favorite performance at the circus, each member of my family picked a different act . For my daughter, it was the fun trampoline acrobatics performed by a dashing trio of graffiti artist bad boys. My husband found himself on pins and needles (okay, we all were hiding our eyes a bit) the entire time a mohawked daredevil made his way around what we have deemed "the rotating circle of death". My son was impressed by the illusionist's ability to get himself out of shackles before the timer buzzed and a board full of sharp spikes impaled him. I marveled at the speed of the fabulously talented quick change artists. But all of us agreed that there wasn't a moment of the circus that we didn't enjoy.

Ready for your family's trip to the circus? Here is what you to need to know before you go:

Where: Irvine Spectrum Center, 71 Fortune Center Drive

When: Multiple shows 6 days a week (closed Tuesday), May 1-19, 2014.

Cost: $25-$65 depending on seat location. The tent is intimate enough to ensure there is not a bad seat in the house. Tickets discounted 50% can be found here.

Tips: Get to the show early to enjoy a pre-show which allows kids to hang out on the main arena floor and learn how to balance a feather with some of the show staff.  Also, bear in mind that temperatures can be much warmer inside the tent than outside since there is no air conditioning.  

Circus Vargas 2 

Filed In: Events, Insider Scoop

Red Dot Auction May 9th at SOCO Promises to be an Animated Event

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Chuck Jones Red Dot 3

Some Orange County galas are stuffy black tie affairs, but the 4th Annual Red Dot Auction benefiting the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity will be the most animated OC event this spring.  The Red Dot Auction will be held Friday, May 9th, from 7 to 10pm at the Center located at South Coast Collection (SoCo), 3321 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa. Admission is $25.00 per person and open to the public. RSVP by May 2nd and receive 5 free raffle tickets when you sign in at the front desk the evening of the event. To buy your tickets online, go to or call 949-660-7791 x 20107.

 Check out some of my favorite pieces up for auction.

  Chuck Jones Red Dot 1

Here's the cool part. All of the contributing animation artists have signed their artwork on the reverse. Bidders won't know who the artist is when bidding, they'll only have their heart to follow. Trust me, I've been to these auctions and it gets pretty animated during the bidding.  Lots of rubbing elbows with artists (Disney, Warner Bros and more) while noshing on hors d'oeuvres and sipping cocktails.  There'll be lots of laughter and a envigorating creative energy will fill the center as all the paintings are bid upon.  Bid wisely and you could walk home with a signed piece of art by a famous animator! 

Chuck Jones Red Dot 1

"We wanted to create a fun, engaging silent auction, and to further the suspense of not knowing which work belongs to which artist, each artist received an identical 12" square stretched canvas upon which to create their work of art," noted Wayne Todd, President of the Council for Creativity, the volunteer arm of the Center.

 Chuck Jones Red Dot 2

  "The artists who are participating come from all levels of notoriety, skill, and accomplishment, from students to emerging to established artists; we reached out around the world hoping to capture the imagination and appreciation of these artists. We are thankful that they were willing to help us achieve our goal of promoting creativity by providing a nurturing environment where it may grow and blossom," said Craig Kausen, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Center.

Participating artists include Rob Minkoff, director of such critically acclaimed films as "The Lion King" and "Stuart Little"; Nick Park, Oscar-winning co-founder of Aardman Studios of "Wallace and Gromit" renown; "Dora the Explorer" producer and director, Jeff DeGrandis; Kelly Asbury, director of the box-office-giant animated film, "Gnomeo and Juliet"; Eric Goldberg, longtime Disney animator and director; James C. Mulligan, Disney artist and man about town.

 Chuck Jones Red Dot 4

The Center, dedicated to inspiring creativity in all people, particularly in children, was founded in 1999 by animation legend and four-time Academy Award recipient, Chuck Jones.

The Center's vision is a world where creativity is known and experienced in all disciplines. We are dedicated to reinvigorating the creative spirit and we are doing it through art classes, exhibitions, lectures, and film festivals, all of which spring from the material in the Chuck Jones archive. Jones was a determined saver and his writings, art, and other ephemera from a nine-decade life, along with his philosophy of guiding and nurturing instruction form the basis of our programs.

 Chuck Jones Roadrunner

 I'll be there, bidding on art, laughing, mingling and getting very animated. Go buy your tickets now and I'll see you there!      BEEP!  BEEP!

Angels Express on Track for Another Season

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

Angels ExpressFor Irvine baseball fans, watching the Angels is as easy as boarding the train.

Once again this year, Metrolink Angels Express is offering a convenient and affordable way to get to Angel Stadium. For the cost of a $7 round trip ticket, you can relax on the way to the game and avoid rush hour traffic altogether. 

On April 11, The Orange County Transit Authority celebrated the fourth season of Angels Express season with a Fan Fest Friday. Not only were riders treated to free food and music, but the first 100 customers received free tickets for the train.

That was more than enough to entice me to leave my car in the garage and let the Angels Express take me out to the ballgame.

Angels Express"Over 35,OOO fans took advantage of this convenience last season,"  said Irvine Mayor pro tem, Jeff Lalloway,  who was on hand along with Tustin Mayor Al Murray and Darrell Johnson, CEO of the OCTA. 

The Angels Express is funded by the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Committee (MSRC) The MRSC was formed in 1990 when Assembly Bill AB2766 was signed into law authorizing a $4 motor vehicle registration fee. Approximately $14 million annually is used for programs that reduce air pollution from mobil sources. 

Angels Express

The Angels Express works like this: 

The dedicated Angels trains run for every weekday home game that begin at  7:05pm. Check out the schedule here. 

Simply buy your ticket at the train station up to 45 minutes before departure.

Then board the train with other Angels fans, sit back and watch the freeway traffic as you pass by.

Angels Express 

About 30 minutes later, I arrived at Angels Stadium, relaxed and ready for the game. The station is just a short walk across the parking lot from the Anaheim Station. The walk was even more pleasant because I didn't have to pay for parking either...

"I love being with fans before the game," said Heather McAllister from Mission Viejo."It's like the game experience starts on the train."

The Meyers Family from Mission Viejo agree.

"When you don't worry about the hassle of traffic, you start enjoying the game long before you get there," said Mark Meyers. "This is definitely a public transportation option that works."

Angels Express 

The Angels Express train leaves the stadium station 30 minutes after the final out, even if there are extra innings.

On this particular night, the Angels beat the Mets in an 11th inning thriller.

The Big Red Train was waiting there to take everyone home....

Angels Express

..which made sleepy Angels fans very happy.

Angels Express 

Filed In: Dining, Events

Cooking Classes at The Wine Artist, Lake Forest

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 03, 2014


Tucked away in the corporate area of Lake Forest is The Wine Artist, a premier, Tuscan-inspired boutique winery that also serves as venue for business and private functions with its unique 'wine bottling' service. Aside from the winery services are amazing cooking classes taught by instructor and The Wine Artist owner, MJ Hong. After leaving a corporate job of 15 years, MJ pursued her passion for entertaining, food, and wine. I had the pleasure of getting to take the Meditterean Cooking Class with MJ, and not only was it a delectable experience, but also a delight to experience MJ's love for what she does, not only sharing her knowledge of food and cooking, but also connecting with others. And the kicker? MJ is self taught when it comes to the knowledge and skills of cooking such a variety of cuisine. If you haven't taken a cooking class before, cooking with MJ will be the perfect introduction; and trust me, you'll want to go back to take a cooking class in every type of cuisine that she offers.

What about the cooking class itself? MJ started off by offering homemade sangria (red and white) to her cooking students, and as they snacked on small bites and sipped sangria; she got to know and educated them on what they would be cooking. Since we would be making Mediterranean food, she took a few minutes to introduce the special ingredients and cooking tips, as well as which markets to purchase the ingredients from. After introducing everyone to the cooking space, she let her students find a spot in front of a cutting board; students were paired off and given a part of a recipe to tackle. We were going to be making Dolmades, Stuffed Eggplants with Rice, Lamb & Beef Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce, and Baklava. Although each student did not work on a dish in its entirety, students were able to ask each other or MJ how they completed specific parts of the recipes. It was fun and interesting to see how the dishes came together at the end after seeing everyone work on their cooking task. And of course the best part was getting to sit down together and enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was really a fulfilling and enjoyable experience and I was excited to take home a packet of the recipes to try it at home on my own.


So who's going to the next cooking class at The Wine Artist?

Check out the entire class schedule here! For those less into cooking, but equally into eating delicious food, The Wine Artist also offers tasting events! For the kiddies of the family, kids' cooking and baking camps are available this Summer!

The Wine Artist
21064 Bake Parkway, Ste. 100
(Bake Pkwy & Cape May)
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Ph: 949.297.3656
Fax: 949.297.3657

Tuesday - Friday 10AM - 6PM
Saturday 12PM - 5PM
Sunday & Monday Closed

The Wine Artist is open every day and extended hours for private events.

Contact Via Email-

Happy Cooking & Eating,


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Phone: 949-660-9112
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