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BEST WAY TO CHANNEL YOUR INNER PICASSO
Cocktail hour just got more interesting thanks to the creative minds behind HAPPY HOUR PAINTS. For $40, a local artist provides instruction on painting a reproduction of a landscape or still life using materials provided. While you're getting in touch with your artistic side, you can enjoy an adult beverage or two and socialize. Co-owners Cait Ehisen and Kyle Lanthier came up with the idea after hearing of similar ventures in Santa Barbara. Since their June launch, they've hosted 10 events at area restaurants, including Fat City, Bella Bru and The Red Rabbit. Never painted before? No worries: Ehisen says the events are tailored to those who have never held a paintbrush. "It's not a class—it's more of a social painting event," she says. happyhourpaints.com
BEST LIFELINE FOR FELINES
The ORPHAN KITTEN PROJECT is the best thing to happen to kittens since, well, catnip. Run by the Feline Medicine Club at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, it was conceived as a way for vet students to learn about feline neonatal care as well as help reduce the feral cat population. Since 2005, the project has placed more than 1,200 kittens in homes throughout the Central Valley. The majority of kittens come from individuals who stumble upon a litter, but area shelters also rely on the program to take kittens requiring bottle-feeding. Fostered by vet students, undergrads and private citizens, the kittens are weaned, vaccinated, spayed/ neutered and microchipped prior to adoption. The group frequently hosts adoption events at the Davis farmers market and maintains Petfinder.com listings for all available kittens. facebook.com/orphankittenproject
BEST HELP FOR LOCAL BOOK CLUBS
Once again, the Sacramento Public Library is making it easy for people to read more. It started the BOOK CLUB IN A BOX project in October 2011 as a resource for book clubs. Each bright-red crate contains 15 copies of a book, a list of discussion questions and tips on how to run a book club. Titles include recent fiction best-sellers such as The Help and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well as nonfiction titles and classics. The boxes can be checked out for six weeks, giving book club members plenty of time to read even the longest tomes. And if that wasn't enough, there are a few Book Club in a Box audio selections, which contain CDs of the books instead of print copies.
BEST BICYCLE PROGRAM
The country is seeing an explosion of DIY "bicycle kitchens" where cyclists learn to do their own bike maintenance and repair. For their senior project, high school students Aaron Stahl and Jeremy Gray started THE MET'S BIKE COLLECTIVE, a bicycle kitchen run by and for students. The duo, who graduated this past spring from The MET, a public charter school at Eighth and V streets, received a $4,000 grant from Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen to pay for tools; REI provided training in bike repair. Now, working out of a room in the school's newly renovated $7 million building, teens teach their fellow students how to fix a flat tire, true the rims and perform other maintenance tasks. "They can fully take apart a bike from stem to stern," brags principal Allen Young.