I took some time to highlight a local business that a dear friend created and is loving what he does by servicing the community and helping people in their busy day to day lives. Everyone gets busy from time to time, so i can speak for myself and admit I don’t have that much free time anymore. I work a 9am – 5pm weekday job so trying to get errands done can be a hassle but having one less thing to worry about like you’re tires can be a life saver, Kyle has personally come to me and serviced my vehicle and it didn’t take any time out of my day. If you’re ever in need, reach out to Kyle on his Instagram page and you can get back on the road in no time!
Graduation season is just around the corner! Decorating your graduation cap is a fun way to add a personalized touch to your big day. Let’s talk about 3 easy ways to decorate your grad cap, so that you can get inspired and make your cap your own!
The items needed to make each cap can be found at your local craft store or even on Amazon, so they are all easily accessible. Customize the colors and design to your liking… let your imagination run wild!
1. Photo Cap
Polaroids or other small photos
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Our family and friends play a huge role in our success as students. What better way to honor them and their support than on your grad cap?
Grab some Polaroids or print out small photos and get to work! This one is super simple. Arrange the photos however you’d like, leaving room for text or other decorative elements. You can stick the photos onto your cap with double-sided tape or using a hot glue gun!
Note: Your stickers should stick right on, but feel free to use some hot glue if they don’t feel secure. You don’t want to be worried about them falling off during your graduation ceremony.
2. Cardstock Cap
Glitter Cardstock Paper
Add some personality to your cap! Show off your interests or academic major with a design like this. Grab a piece of glitter cardstock in a color of your choice and use your scissors to cut it into a square that fits your cap (mine was 9.25” x 9.25”). Then, use an X-ACTO knife to cut out a circle in the center of the cardstock that fits the button on your cap (mine had about a 1″ diameter). This will be the base of your cap.
Now for the fun part! Add a phrase or quote using alphabet stickers and decorate using 3-D stickers. You can find a variety of colors and designs at your local craft store, so the options are truly endless. You can even go with patterned cardstock paper instead of glitter, if that’s more your style! Attached the decorated cardstock to your cap with double-sided tape and you’re ready to go.
3. Flower Crown Cap
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
This flower crown design is simple but adds a fun element to your graduation day outfit.
Pick out some artificial flowers in your favorite color. You should be able to pull them right off of the stems, but trim off any excess parts of the back side of the flowers if needed. Add some hot glue to the back side of the flowers and press them firmly against the bottom of the mortarboard (square part on the crown of the cap).
When you’re done, feel free to add a phrase with the alphabet stickers or other decorative elements on the top of the cap. I kept mine simple with a short phrase, but let your creativity flow!
Before you attach anything onto your graduation cap, don’t forget to check the inside of your cap! Most caps will tell you which side is the front of your cap. This will help you make sure your design is right-side up.
Both of these recipes taste so good and are a GO TO breakfast meal in the morning! Not only are they very filling, but you can also add in your protein powder to both the drink and waffles. You can completely customize these recipes to your own liking and preferences. There is nothing better like a refreshing fruit smoothie and oatmeal pancakes to get you energized and off to the beach, truly just a chef’s kiss combo! Make sure you check out the Instagram reel at the end to watch a step-by-step video. Hope you enjoy!
Protein Fruit Smoothie
~Splash of milk of choice
~Yogurt of choice
~2 frozen bananas
~4 fresh strawberries
~1 scoop protein powder
~1 cup frozen fruit/berries
~Handful of spinach
*BLEND* and serve
Protein Oatmeal Waffles
~1/2 cup oatmeal *blend* (or use oat flour)
~1/2 cup protein pancake mix *optional* (not used in this recipe)
~1 scoop protein powder
~Splash of vanilla extract & cinnamon
*Now mix all together/ Or use a blender to mix ingredients together if you don’t want the texture of banana chunks in your waffles
The art shown above is the work of Sunimari Madrigal, a student at Ventura College. The art was made for her small business called The Moon’s Canvas. The art was made on a canvas about 13×9, made up of different art mediums such as paint, gouache, paint markers, and acrylic paint as well. The inspiration for this piece came from the beauty of the land we are lucky to have on Earth and also the beauty of the stars in the Universe.
Below is a video of her showing us how she created their piece.
Ventura, California is home to many local small businesses, but there are none like Ex-Voto Chocolates and Confections. Offering handcrafted chocolates, organic based ice cream, toffee, house made nut butters, fresh caramel, espresso drinks and much more. This gem has captured the hearts of their patrons using gourmet chocolate that is fair trade and is of single origin.
Owned and operated by the mother daughter duo, Jennifer Smith and Sophia Smith-Grunder, it took time for them to come up with a name that would fit their passion for confections; that is when they settled upon Ex-Voto. The term “ex-voto” is Latin for “milagro” and by definition, it means an offering given in gratitude for an answered prayer.
This small but mighty business started in 2015 with Jennifer selling her decadent chocolates at the local farmers market in Ojai, California. Two years later, they opened their storefront and flagship business in Midtown, Ventura. Initially, Jennifer encouraged her daughter to focus on a cooking and baking career of her own. It just so happens that Sophia makes a phenomenal caramel, amongst other things, better than Jennifer could of dreamed. Thus, Ex-Voto grew into a run and operated family business. The business has boomed since the duo settled in Ventura and have been making history ever since.
VC Social got the chance to sit down with Jennifer and get to know the history behind the business and what ignited their future. First things first, a bit about Jennifer: she began cooking when she was just 5-years old and is completely self taught. Her passion led her to culinary school in San Francisco studying pastry and bread making. Although, she continued to educate herself, take specialty classes online and certifications courses in hopes to figure out what avenue truly felt right to her. Jennifer’s intuitive spirit led her to chocolate as she started to see the word popping up in more ways than one. It was enough to spark her interest to teach herself the craft.
Chocolate, Chocolate And More Chocolate!
Jennifer fell in love with how complex, scientific, challenging, and creative chocolate can be. In turn, she draws inspiration from culture, food and nature resulting in truly complex flavor profiles that otherwise wouldn’t be found elsewhere. Her creations take form of one item and converging it with another. This can be seen in Ex-Voto chocolates, like the Sweet Pecan & Chili Gianduja (in dark chocolate) or the Key Lime (paired with white chocolate ganache).
Jennifer has developed close relationships with her patrons; she pays close attention to what customers are asking for and most importantly when they want it. This has played an important role in their business model and identifying their target market. Ex-Voto began focusing on seasonal items to pay homage to the time of year and most importantly what the seasons represent. Almost all year around you can find your favorites like their Turtles (salted caramel with slow roasted almonds) or the house-made peanut butter buddhas in milk or vegan dark chocolate.
It’s Springtime here in Ventura and the Ex-Voto team has been working hard on their seasonal selection; it comes in different shapes, colors and textures including: eggs, bunnies and flower molds. A few of their Spring seasonal items include the Baklava Caramel eggs (using honey cinnamon caramel and pistachios), Pomegranate Rose in dark chocolate, Orange Blossom in white/dark chocolate, and Bananas Foster in milk chocolate, just to name a few.
Is your mouth watering yet?
The Unique Ice Cream Flavors
Both Jennifer and Sophia come up with recipes by combining different notes, textures and complementary flavors that are well balanced to make heavenly combinations.
Ice cream is a childhood favorite for Jennifer and she has created each one offered at Ex-Voto to perfection. We asked her how she comes up with the recipes for her batches and she shared that most is trial and error. Like her banana honeycomb recipe, Jennifer explained that she had to experiment to find the best way to bring out the banana flavor considering its rather starchy. Her first initial idea was to do banana and peanut butter but she realized that both flavors were too flat. She tasted, processed and talked with Sophia and other employees, bringing up potential matches until they came up with honeycomb. It gives the banana a complementary sweetness, crunch and bitterness.
One of the flavors VC Social favored was her in-house made Queso Fresco y Miel ice cream. Jennifer explained that it took her over 15 tries to find the perfect balance between the Mexican based salty soft cheese and sweet notes of honey. The flavor has become one of their best sellers and permanently remains on their ice cream selection. The combination is almost cheesecake-like and pairs well with house-made marshmallow creme that is lightly toasted with a torch in front of you.
By keeping up with customer demand their business has created a sufficient following. Most importantly, Ex-Voto takes pride in the relationships that they form with each and every customer that walks through their door. We spoke briefly to a customer, Arlene, who told us that Ex-Voto is one of her favorite places to frequent. She loves the quality of their products and whenever her grand-daughter is back in town from college, they make it a point to stop in and grab a scoop of ice cream. Their patrons genuinely feel like they are part of the family and their support in the business continues to other generations.
Supporting Our Community
It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Jennifer and getting to know the ins and outs of her and Sophia’s daily routine and life at Ex-Voto. As we continued to chat after the interview, Jennifer shared another reason why she works as hard as she does. Her son Seth, 21, a student and surfer, has an extremely rare form of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma, one that has very little research on. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s important to support our community and small local businesses, this is why.
Please visit Seth’s website for more information about his journey, treatment and the cancer research fundraiser his family has set up. If you would like to help contribute to their cause for a cure, you can donate directly or find Seth’s custom sticker at Ex-Voto’s storefront location or online here.
Thank you again Jennifer, Sophia and Ex-Voto team for giving VC Social the opportunity to get to know you and discover some new favorite sweet treats!
Walking into Throwback Junction I was met by co-owner Colette Prokopow sitting behind the counter made of reclaimed wood and metal with a countertop embellished with beer caps encased in epoxy. Perfect for her and partner Randy Lewis’ vintage shop with that seemingly has something for everyone. “Our merchandise pulls from the 60s,70s,80s,90s and Y2K.” says Prokopow,
“I personally like to be able to readily see things and not dig through racks,” she said. Apparent from the organized neat garment racks whose clothes were so pristine they belied their age.
And, not all the products are vintage actually. Some are carefully crafted and “picked with intention” from garage sales and then there are new items, such as the very popular band tees.
They have games, cassettes, vinyls, stickers, patches, sunglasses, jewelry and shoes.
There is a men’s section which isn’t seen in many vintage shops and children’s items such as a very cool toddler Grateful Dead sweatshirt. Another thing that sets the shop apart is their dressing rooms—a wonderful addition that takes the guesswork out of sizing.
“We want a fun and funky vibe,” says Prokopow, as sounds from Nirvana play throughout the store. “We’ve held some events in the store—live music and comedy so far.”
They will celebrate their first year of business on July first and it has gone better than expected.
She and business partner Lewis’ met through an acquaintance. Lewis had owned a different Throwback Junction in the Valley and closed shop due to the Covid crisis. Prokopow knew she wanted a vintage store—had been a thrifter since she was a teenager—and had just resigned from a 20 plus year career. It was an uncanny meeting for the both of them. Lewis is still working as a teacher but spends time in the shop as well as bringing his knowledge of the business. I asked Prokopow what advise she would give to Ventura College students who have a passion to start their own. “Do your research,” she quickly replies. She did hers online and followed other vintage shops that she liked to see what they were up to. “Also, know your product and pricing is key.”
They both knew they wanted a Main Street downtown Ventura location and looked at several vacant stores before just the right one opened up. Main Street rents can be pricey, but they found a building that was owned by the church next door and landed a reasonable deal.
Prior to opening the shop, Prokopow had been doing pop up events like fairs and craft shows and had developed a following. On May 6, they have reserved a booth at the Oxnard Spring Vintage Craft Fair at the Oxnard Historic Farm Park. She posts on social media twice a week and uses every opportunity to make their presence known. “Oh yes, and we’re dog friendly,” she says with a smile. Throwback Junction offers a 15 percent discount to VC students when they show their student ID.
They are open seven days a week 11-7 Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday 10-7.
I attended the Diversity in Culture event this week and I heard Ms. Dolores Huerta speak. I would like to start off by introducing her and some of her achievements. Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist and American labor leader, a mom, a teacher, a leader and so much more. Dolores has worked with Cesar Chavez, and she is also the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association. Dolores also has an organization named the Dolores Huerta foundation, her foundation aims to inspire and organize communities to find their voice and rise up and volunteer and to also build up volunteer organizations to be empowered and encouraged to make and pursue social justice. The foundation also focuses on work involved in civic engagement, education equity, along with LGBTQIA+ equality, and safety and health .
I had the opportunity to hear Dolores speak about a multitude of topics such as the ones listed above plus women’s rights, the labor movement, Black Lives Matters, racism and other issues as well. Dolores Huerta has experienced a lot and she had a lot of knowledge to share with us at the Diversity in Culture event. She spoke about her work alongside Cesar Chavez, and their work together to fight for the rights of the farm workers to receive the right compensation for their work, access to restrooms, the right to unionize, etc. Dolores stressed the idea that we are all one human race, one family, and that regardless of the color we are, our eyes, our hair, we are the human race — homosapians. We must participate to help and support each other and different cultures.
After Dolores’ speech, I interviewed the president of the Anthropology club, Kimberly Ramos. The first question I asked her was, Why did you attend the event?
She explained that the organizer of the event was planned by the anthropology club advisor named Gigi, and she also looked forward to hearing Dolores speak and also promoting the anthropology club. I then asked her, How was your experience hearing Dolores speak? She stated that she had been wanting to hear Dolores speak for a long time but never got the chance too, so finally being able to hear Dolores made an impact on her. She also expressed how the speech made her feel motivated and driven to organize and participate more In her community. The next question I asked her was, was there anything that she said that spoke out to you? Again she pointed out how Dolores engaged her to get more active in the community, and also the message that we can start with small changes in our community and work our way up. Lastly, I asked her, What was your favorite part of the event? Kimberly stated that her favorite part of the event was when Dolores actually started speaking, because there was a lot of build up before she started speaking.
Dolores Huerta is an amazing and empowering woman. She has accomplished so many great achievements and fought so hard for everyone’s rights, and she continues to do as she gets older. She had made such a strong impact on people everywhere and continued to engage in communities that need help, and to push us and motivate us to make change. Change starts with us.
Katey Mulville #10 is a standout indoor and beach volleyball here at Ventura College. Just recently she announced she would be continuing her beach volleyball journey at a D1 school, CSU Bakersfield. The 6’0 kill generator provides a strong block in beach volleyball and can move great on defense. Being a student athlete about to transfer to a Division 1 school means that you have a pretty busy schedule, but Katey was still able to find time to answer some questions I had for her.
Question 1: “What was the biggest factor when you chose to commit to CSU Bakersfield?”
Answer 1: “The biggest factor for me was getting the chance to actually go and visit the girls and the campus. Going on the visit gave me a true perspective of how their program is ran, getting to watch them conduct a practice. I got to experience the leadership and sisterhood that the program has. I also got to experience the campus life while walking around and felt super welcomed by every person or faculty that I got to meet.
Question 2: About 6 years ago when you started playing in high school did you think you’d commit to a D1 school?
Answer 2: I would have NEVER thought I’d commit to playing at a D1 school. I started playing volleyball for fun and then it completely sprouted into a love or passion. Also starting in high school is actually quite a late start for most people that go anywhere after high school. I’m extremely lucky to have been apart of some great programs from high school, to one club team, and an awesome junior college crew. High school Katey would be so proud.
Question 3: What do you think the biggest adjustment will be playing at CSU Bakersfield?
Answer 3: The biggest adjustment for playing at CSUB would definitely be the level of playing and time commitment. Since it’s a D1 school the level of play is obviously higher so that will be a daily challenge to continue to expand as a player to reach higher levels. And time commitment is similar to my junior college schedule except for the D1 has strength training as a priority even during season so that will be an adjustment for time management on a day to day and physical challenge.
As Katey prepares to take a huge step in her playing career it’s evident that all of the hard work she has consistently put in over the years is paying off.
Registrations for the Summer and Fall 2023 school year starts now! You are able to find the registration process in your student portal. Big thanks to Angelica Gonzales for showing us how to see when our registration appointments are. If you need help or have any questions concerning the registration process, please feel free to go to the counseling officer to get help from Angelica or any other counselors.
Spring is here and finals week is just around the corner! This week I spoke to Erika Hurtado, the Tutoring Specialist at the Ventura College Tutoring Center, about the free resources that are available to students as they finish the semester off strong and prepare for their final exams.
Erika explained that the Tutoring Center offers tutoring both in-person and online. Students seeking tutoring can book an appointment or get help on a drop-in basis. The tutoring center is even open on Sundays to accommodate students’ busy schedules!
The Tutoring Center supports student success by not only offering tutoring, but also hosting Learning Resource Workshops. These workshops are led by Learning Resource faculty members and cover a range of topics from test-taking to enhancing mental health. Many of this month’s workshops are focused on writing, but topics change often and the monthly schedule can be found on their website.
Erika shared the #1 tip she gives students… come in before you need help! The Tutoring Center is fully staffed and ready to help students in a variety of subjects such as business, writing, math, and so much more. She encourages students to take time to prepare for their exams and reminds them not to be afraid to reach out for help.
The Tutoring Center is located on the first floor of the Library and Learning Resource Center (LRC). Stop by or check out their website for more information on their services!