Melinda Helbock

Planning an Office Holiday Party in San Diego?

Planning an office holiday party can seem overwhelming. Where should the party be? What kind of food should you serve? Should there be some sort of theme? These are all questions that come up as we begin to plan the “perfect party.” Whether you are planning an intimate party for a small office or are planning an extravagant evening for 100 guests, San Diego has you covered.

Some of the top spots for San Diego work holiday parties include:

  • The Shout! House in Downtown San Diego: The Shout! House is the perfect venue if you are looking to show your employees a good time. It can accommodate nearly any size, from small office parties to large gatherings of up to 275 people. The Shout! House offers all inclusive food and beverage packages as well as some of the best entertainment around.
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: The relaxed, hip environment is something a little outside the “holiday party” box, but will be sure to give your guests a night to remember. If you want to treat your guests to something fun and different, consider doing a beer tasting. The brewery features 32 craft and specialty beers on tap as well as an assortment of delicious wines. You can choose to sit inside or outside in the beautiful open-air patio and organic beer garden and treat your guests to an eclectic menu of world-inspired cuisine that highlights locally grown, small-farm ingredients.
  • 94th Aero Squadron: This restaurant features beautiful banquet rooms for parties of 25 to 200. The restaurant has a unique charm, themed after a replica of WW-I French Farmhouse with stone fireplaces, wood-beam ceilings and airplane replicas throughout. The venue offers a full bar, a dance floor and plenty of free parking.
  • Hornblower Cruises & Events: What better way to celebrate the holidays and show your employees your appreciation than to celebrate on a dinner cruise? Celebrate with dinner and dancing on the San Diego Bay.
  • Tavern+Bowl: This year, have a little fun with your employees over cocktails and bowling. Check out any one of three Tavern+Bowl locations: East Village, Eastlake and North County. In addition to 12 lanes with private couches and seating areas, each venue has pool tables and flat screen TVs. While the atmosphere is super fun and laid back, the food is surprisingly delicious and the drinks aren’t bad either.

These are just a few of the many venues sprinkled throughout San Diego County. There are several great restaurants and breweries to choose from — this year, think outside the box and show your employees how much you appreciate them.

San Diego Magazine Names North County’s Best Happy Hour Spots for December

Maybe we don’t have to go Downtown to hit some of San Diego’s hottest happy hour spots. According to San Diego Magazine, some of the best locations for cocktails in North County include Vintana in Escondido, Chandler’s in Carlsbad, The Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, Living Room Bar in Del Mar, The Pony Room in Rancho Santa Fe and Club M in Carmel Valley.

The patio at Vintana is surprisingly hip. It offers a number of drink specials during the week, including half price wine on Tuesdays and Thursdays and daily social specials, weekdays from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Menu items are delightful and pair perfectly with the wine and the martinis. Some favorites, according to San Diego Magazine are the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and chef Deborah Scott’s signature nut-crusted Brie.

Chandler’s, located in the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa, has a wonderful patio area where guests can enjoy drinks and appetizers by the fire pit. Happy hour is from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. It includes small bite specials and select cocktails, wines and beers for $7.

The Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas has more of a relaxed and laid back feel. You will be accompanied by local surfers, runners and other health-conscious beach lovers. While you are there, be sure to check out some of the fall-inspired recipes and drinks.

Living Room Bar is  L’Auberge Del Mar’s upscale bar, featuring a great happy hour from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Guest are accompanied by beautiful, wealthy young couples, self-proclaimed cougars and men with money.

These are just some of the hot spots crawling with North County’s hip crowd. Thanks to San Diego Magazine, we will have to check these out. What are your favorite North County happy hour spots?

The American Red Cross is asking for Our Help

The American Red Cross is asking for our help with donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Follow this link to donate or text REDCROSS to 90999. Your donations will help people affected by Hurricane Isaac and other disasters such as floods and wildfires.

Hurricane Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is still wreaking havoc. According to an article published by NBC, although Plaquemines Parish was under a mandatory evacuation, only half of the 2,000 residents left before it hit.

"We have flooding, inundated four-to-nine feet in areas," parish emergency management official Guy Laigast told The Weather Channel. "We’ve got homes that have been inundated."

"It’s piling that water up on the east side of the Mississippi River," he added. "All that water is ponding up in that area, and that’s what’s causing the overtopping."

The storm reportedly flooded areas of the Mississippi coast as well, flooding several homes and leaving thousands of people misplaced. The storm caused more than 656,000 homes to lose power in southern Louisiana.

Luckily, there have been no reported injuries or deaths. But, thousands of people are in shelters waiting be able to go back to their homes.

This is just one example of the devastating effects natural disasters can have on individuals, families and entire communities. Join me and the American Red Cross by making a donation to help these families rebuild their lives. Every dollar helps!

New Owners of the Padres Bring Hope to San Diego

The near completion of the sale of the Padres to a group headed by heirs of the former owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, professional golfer Phil Mickelson and San Diego business leader Ron Fowler, should give San Diego fans hope of a great new start for the Padres.

With a price tag of $800 million, the transaction was finalized Monday night, pending approval of other Major League Baseball owners.

The new owners say they will be more hands-on in areas involving business, operations and community. No plans for changes to the baseball side of things have been announced. So far, we know Tom Garfinkel will remain CEO and Josh Byrnes will remain general manager.

“Assuming we receive approval, there will be a prompt, efficient and smooth transition,” Peter Seidler, the spokesman for the new Padres owners said. “For decades the Padres have been an exciting and entertaining part of San Diego.”

So far, everyone seems to be on board with the change in ownership. “San Diego fans deserve great ownership and I think the O’Malley tradition in baseball is remarkable,” Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said last month. “This would be an excellent development for baseball.”

The Encinitas Street Fair is coming up this weekend!

The Encinitas Street Fair is April 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will feature 450 vendors, offering a wide spread of art, crafts and good old fashioned fun! Guests can enjoy beers from Stone Brewing Company in the beer garden and can enjoy live music from a number of talented bands!

The Encinitas Street Fair will take place on South Coast Highway 101 between D and J Streets.

If you’ve been to one of these events in the past, you know what a great time this will be. And for those of you who have never been to an Encinitas Street Fair, this is an event you won’t want to miss! Come check it out.

Help Fight The Battle Against Alzheimer’s Disease

It is highly likely that someone you know or someone in your family has been or will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a horrible disease that attacks the brain and progresses over time.

According to the San Diego/Imperial Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects more than 53,000 San Diego and Imperial County families.

Currently there is no cure for the disease. But, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better treatments for the disease and to prevent it from developing.

As the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to enhance care and support for people that are affected by the disease. Over the last 30 years, the group has been involved in every major research advancement related to the disease.

The association provides affected individuals and families with access to referral resources, support groups, education, counseling and care management.

By donating our time, our money, or our voice, we can help the Alzheimer’s Association continue to provide lifesaving services for those in need.

To learn more or to make a donation, please visit the San Diego section of the Alzheimer’s Association. Together, we can make a difference!

Melinda Helbock Offers Safe Driving Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up in a couple weeks, time to break out our favorite green shirts and start planning our Irish fun! We all have our favorite St. Patrick’s Day traditions, from going to mom’s house for the annual corned beef and cabbage to wearing a shirt covered in shamrocks.

But, despite our own traditions, one of the most well-known traditions is drinking Irish beer. Some of us stay home, some of us go to a friend’s house, and some of us spend all day at the local Irish pub. Regardless of where you are this Saint Patrick’s Day, it is important to plan ahead and stay safe on the roads.

San Diego auto accident lawyer Melinda Helbock shares some safe driving tips for those of you who will be on the roads this Saint Patrick’s Day:

  • The most important tip: don’t drink and drive!
  • Plan ahead and designate a driver or schedule a cab to pick you up.
  • If you are the designated driver, make sure not to succumb to peer pressure; stick to the plan and don’t drink and drive!

Even if you aren’t drinking, it is important to follow the laws of the road carefully and pay attention to your surroundings. Unfortunately, other drivers on the road might not be as responsible.

This year, be safe and have a happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Achieving Our Health and Fitness Goals

As we approach month three of 2012, let’s take a look at our fitness and health goals so far. It’s no secret that most of our New Year’s resolutions lists include things like eat better, exercise more and tone up. Whether you’re hoping to fit back into that little black dress, are preparing for a big event in 2012, or are simply wanting to shape up and feel better about yourself, it all comes down to setting goals and sticking to them.

Here are a couple things that have helped me:

  • Deadlines are key! So, we all have things we want to improve on or things we would like to do. But, thinking about them and actually doing them are two completely different things. It is important to figure out your goal and set a realistic deadline for achieving that goal. Mark your calendars! Set a hard deadline, don’t pick a month or a time frame (for example, by summer I will be bathing suit ready); but rather, pick a date, mark your calendar and stick to it!
  • Replace those nasty habits. We all have bad habits, who doesn’t? But, good news for us: habits can be broken if we simply replace them with good habits. If you have a bad habit of snacking late at night for example, simply replace what you are snacking on. Maybe instead of going for those greasy (but oh so good chips), replace those with a handful of roasted nuts or some carrot sticks.
  • Stick to a routine. Eating too much is not a good idea, but neither is eating too little. It’s important to remember that your body needs a constant stream of nutrients, so starving yourself is not the answer. Start a new routine by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Good between meal snacks include fruit and protein shakes.
  • Frequent the grocery store. In order to make healthier decisions, you need to have healthier options on hand and in place. Most of us have busy schedules and grabbing something on the go is the quickest and easiest answer to a hungry tummy. But, if you add going to the grocery store every Sunday to your list of “weekend chores”, you can map out the week’s healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Good luck meeting those 2012 goals, whatever they may be!

Attention Foodies: Andrew Zimmern in San Diego

For all my fellow foodies, Andrew Zimmern is filming an episode of “Bizarre Foods” here in San Diego!

He has been tweeting some of his local experiences and even sent out a picture of what he called the best pig’s feet he’s ever tasted.

On Thursday, Zimmern sent out a Twitpic of the pig’s feet at Tita’s Kitchenette, a Filipino restaurant in National City.

“Tita’s sisig, best I have ever tasted. San Diego Philippine (sic) food is crazy good,” he tweeted.

OK, so pig’s feet may not be the most appetizing thing for most of us, foodies or not! But, having Zimmern explore some of our local eateries is pretty exciting!

The San Diego episode is expected to air sometime in August. To see what he is saying now, follow him on twitter @andrewzimmern.

San Diego Restaurant Week Extended

For those of you who want to continue titillating your taste buds, there’s good news!  By popular demand, San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended from Jan. 27.

The fabulous tradition of San Diego Restaurant week began seven years ago. Prices are excellent and the food is extraordinary. You can indulge in wonderful three-course meals from the region’s finest restaurants.

The charge is only between $20 and $40 per person. For a fixed price, you can savor a three-course dinner for $20, $30 or $40, depending on the restaurant.

Some restaurants are also offering two-course fixed price lunch menus for just $10, $15, or $20 per person.

Five-star restaurants, cafes, brasseries and bistros are located throughout the county in many of its lively neighborhoods. Dine in some of the region’s superb districts.

Take in water views in Coronado and La Jolla. Savor delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine in Old Town. Take a shot at a place you haven’t visited before in Little Italy, La Costa or Rancho Santa Fe. You may want to begin your meal at one restaurant and end with a delectable dessert at another.

Don’t wait to take advantage of this year’s extended Restaurant Week! You do not need tickets, but reservations are highly recommended. Call your choice of restaurant to reserve a table.

For a list of all the participating restaurants, click here.