Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour

Young patrons at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Young patrons at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

This weekend is a rare chance for the public to peek inside Carpinteria Valley greenhouses, where millions of flowers of every color stretch as far as the eye can see. The sheer volume and beauty make a trip to the Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour a breathtaking experience.

The free tours are on Saturday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., guided by expert farmers who will share a wealth of knowledge of greenhouse growing.

Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

“The environment inside our greenhouses is tightly controlled. We monitor everything from nutrients to temperature, light and moisture at each phase of growth,” says Toine Overgaag, President of Westerlay Orchids, a Greenhouse Tour participant. “My family has been doing this for decades, and I’m still fascinated.”

Opening its doors for the 10th annual tours, Westerlay will also continue its tradition of community support over the entire week preceding the event, April 9 to April 14. Carpinteria Education Foundation, the nonprofit supporting public schools in Carpinteria, will receive 100% of proceeds from orchids sold at Westerlay’s showroom during this period. 

Carpinteria Valley, known as “America’s Flower Basket,” has long been central to domestic flower production. It contains the greatest concentration of growers in the U.S. and represents the best-of-the-best in the field. Dozens of Dutch farmers chose to relocate to the ideal climate of Carpinteria generations ago and helped to create a lasting and successful industry.

Tour attendees can start and stop at any point on their self-guided tour around Carpinteria Valley. Maps of participating growers are at

Each participating greenhouse will plan its own special attractions for the day of the event, and many will offer discounts on the freshest flowers, directly from the source. In addition to Westerlay, participating farms include: 

Gallup & Stribling Orchids


Myriad Flowers

Pianta Bella Nursery

Seaside Gardens

Spring blooms at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Spring blooms at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

For more information, visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published on April 12, 2018 in Santa Barbara Seasons.

Welcome to Jennabunkport

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy’s she shack is 140 square feet of home office heaven.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Living—and working—in a 100-year-old farmhouse certainly has its charms, but as her children grew bigger and houseguests came and went, writer Jenna McCarthy (Everything’s Relative, The Parent Trip, Lola Knows a Lot) longed for, as Virginia Woolf once wrote,”a room of one’s own.”

“I longed for a space that was all mine, somewhere I could sneak away to and write in peace, somewhere my kids wouldn’t be barging in every four minutes asking me if I know where their sparkly pink headband is or wanting me to referee such life-or-death arguments as ‘whose turn is it to hold the remote control,'” says McCarthy.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer's cottage. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer’s cottage. Courtesy photo.

When her husband, Joe Coito, suggested she needed a writer’s cabin, McCarthy was online looking at sheds in a heartbeat. Both spouses know their way around a tool belt—they once flipped a house on the TV Show Property Ladderso when McCarthy couldn’t find the perfect ready-made shed, they bought plans online and built it themselves. “We were able to do things like buy a reclaimed door and modify the plans to make it fit. We copied the siding and trim of our house so it would look as if my little shed had been on the property all along.”

Her husband built her a desk, and her daughters helped with painting, sanding and hammering. “My mother’s day present this year was a coat of primer,” she laughs.

The inside is warm, cozy, bright and filled with things that bring joy and inspiration, like the six-foot giant octopus they made from a canvas curtain.

Author Jenna McCarthy's daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy’s daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

“We christened her Syd, and she’s one of my favorite pieces in Jennabunkport, the name we chose for my shed, because, yes, we name everything,” says McCarthy.

“I’ve always considered myself fortunate that I get to do what I love to do all day with my familyís enthusiastic support. Now I get to do it in my own little paradise, one that is far more than an office; it’s a 140-square-foot reminder of how lucky and loved I am. And it’s all mine.”

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy's office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy’s office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy's she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy’s she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Fermentation Festival Kicks Off With a Mule of a Competition

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Fermentation Festival Moscow Mule CompetitionThe 6th annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival is coming up on Sept. 11, but first up is a pre-festival event called the Year of the Mule Cocktail Competition, from 5-8 p.m. on Aug. 30, at The Good Lion (1212 State St.).

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Moscow Mule, both professional and amateur cocktail enthusiasts will compete for a variety of fun prizes. Criteria include taste appeal, visual appeal, story/background and time management! The deadline to sign up is Aug. 26. Click here for more details and entry instructions.

In addition, tickets are now on sale for the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, which has proved to be a vibrant educational gathering of local and regional culinary alchemists, wild fermenters and health experts showcasing the history, benefits and preparation of fermented foods.  That includes fun beers and cocktails, as well as loads of other fermented concoctions. This annual event is at Rancho La Patera & Stow House (304 N. Los Carneros Rd., Goleta). The all-ages festival runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. with the 21+ Farm-to-Bar component from noon-4:30 p.m.


Courtesy Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, which takes place this year on Sept. 11.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, which takes place this year on Sept. 11.

The 2016 Festival includes samples of 75+ artisan fermented foods from 50+ exhibitors, four stages featuring local and regional experts, and interactive hands-on activities. This all-ages experiential one-day festival celebrates the importance of traditionally fermented foods and beverages and empowers attendees to make these foods at home.

“… Fermentation is growing in reputation from a homespun preservation technique into the mainstream,” says Katie Hershfelt, co-founder of the festival along with her mother, Lynn Hartman.  “Renowned chefs from coast-to-coast are using fermentation as a culinary tool while health practitioners are recommending fermented foods as a key element in creating a healthy lifestyle.”

The festival’s 2016 theme, Nurture What Nature Gave You, puts the focus on consumers’ increased interest in fermented foods not only as taste and menu enhancers but as a key to a healthy lifestyle.  The Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival is part of a global grassroots movement that is changing the way consumers view their food, their connection to the earth and their ability to thrive.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival.

Profits from the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival support the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and its mission to end hunger and transform health through good nutrition. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 26, 2016.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”



The Joy of Food: Leela Cyd’s Latest Artful Adventure

By Leslie Dinaberg

Cookbook author and photographer Leela Cyd, in her home kitchen. Photo courtesy Leela Cyd.

Cookbook author and photographer Leela Cyd, in her home kitchen. Photo courtesy Leela Cyd.

Food, fun and friends are, without a doubt, the best ingredients for any kind of gathering, and Leela Cyd’s new book—Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings—is packed with culinary inspiration, gorgeous photography and mouthwatering recipes.

A former personal chef, Cyd is now an accomplished writer-photographer (and contributor to Seasons) and runs the video production company, David Lee Studios, with her husband, David Kilpatrick, in addition to completing numerous editorial assignments and photographing other people’s cookbooks—but this is the first book of her own.

“It’s been a dream since I was a kid. I was always reading cookbooks before I went to bed and pouring over books,” she enthuses. “Food is the thing I daydream about. When I’m on my bike, I’m like, ‘ooh there’s lavender. I should pick that and then I’ll cook the leaves and then I have lemons and I’ll definitely make a shortbread later with the lavender,’” she laughs. “That’s just the way that I got wired.”

Still, when approached by a book agent, Cyd mulled over the proposal for a long time. “I wanted to do something about how I cook, which is about simple food that has something special. It’s just one yummy little bite, a moment of joy and pleasure, which, fortunately, with food you have to do a few times a day, until I create a moment that’s happy and beautiful, it’s a real treasure. Nothing in the book is hard to make. I don’t know how to cook really fussy food. Everything is imperfect and beautiful that way. It’s about the company you keep.”

She continues, “The way to be communal is to feed people and be fed, and it’s even more important now, at this time when we’re so fractured and so outwardly connected but not always really connecting. …Plus, I love that it’s still a beautiful object in this technological age, a cookbook is still a relevant, beautiful thing. …It just warms my heart to no end that this will live and breathe and hopefully be sloppy with sauce in someone’s kitchen.”

Leela Cyd ( will sign copies of Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings on Apr. 16, from 4–6 p.m. at Potek Winery, 406 E. Haley St.

Sugar Cookies With Edible Flowers, photo by Leela Cyd.

Sugar Cookies With Edible Flowers, photo by Leela Cyd.

From Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings by Leela Cyd
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.

2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface and rolling pin
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 to 4 dozen organic, untreated, edible blossoms (pansies, dianthus, rose petals, calendula, chrysanthemum, lavender, cosmos, or echinacea are all good options)
1 large pasteurized egg white, lightly beaten
¼ cup turbinado sugar

These flower cookies are one of the charming desserts I hold dearest. They remind me of something Lewis Carroll’s Alice might encounter, long after she falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Pansies, sugar and butter are happy companions—their collective flavor sings and their beauty bewitches. I sometimes make them just for me, to add sparkle and delight to my afternoon tea ritual. When friends come over and these darlings appear, squeals and gasps abound.

PREPARE THE COOKIES: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the crème fraîche, butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and egg until combined.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture and lemon zest to the butter mixture and beat until evenly incorporated.

On a floured work surface, shape the dough into two 5-inch round disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. (Alternatively, you can freeze the disks, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge for a day before using.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes.

Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Give the disks a few whacks with the rolling pin to soften them slightly. Roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Working quickly so the dough won’t soften too much, use cookie cutters to punch out whatever shapes you like. Transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets, rerolling the dough scraps as you go to cut out more cookies.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes, until the cookies are set but still pale and underdone. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Leave the oven on and set the lined baking sheets aside.

CREATE THE CANDIED FLOWERS: Set up a work station. Gather your edible flowers together. Place the egg white in a small bowl and the turbinado sugar in a second small bowl. Set out a small paintbrush. Gently dunk a flower in the egg white, taking care to get egg white in between the petals for an even pressing, then press the flower into the cookie. The delicate petals may curl up, but smooth them down with your finger. When the flower is as flat as possible, use the paintbrush to brush a thin coating of additional egg white over the entire surface of the cookie. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of the turbinado sugar. Transfer the flower-topped cookies back to the baking sheets as you work.

Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Note: Make sure to purchase edible, untreated, organic flowers for this, or grow your own. Keep in mind, the colors of the flowers you select will darken, as you bake them, giving an antique color effect.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

My Santa Barbara | ArchitecTours: Every Building Tells a Story

Julia Morgan—the architect who designed Hearst Castle—said: “Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.” That may be true, but the intriguing personal stories behind the nine buildings highlighted in the 2015 Santa Barbara AIA Annual ArchitecTours also have some tantalizing tales to tell. This year’s tour, themed “buildings with a story,” takes place on Saturday, October 3 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., culminating with a festive party. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 805/966-4198.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

CL20: Modern suburban home addition prototype by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, courtesy AIASB.

CL20: Modern suburban home addition prototype by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, courtesy AIASB.

Contemporary art-filled residence by Bildsten Architecture and Planning, photo courtesy AIASB.

Contemporary art-filled residence by Bildsten Architecture and Planning, photo courtesy AIASB.

Craftsman bungalow by Blackbird Architects, photo courtesy SBAIA.

Craftsman bungalow by Blackbird Architects, photo courtesy SBAIA.

The Goodland Hotel by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy SBAIA.

The Goodland Hotel by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy SBAIA.

Gracious downtown living by Thompson Naylor Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Gracious downtown living by Thompson Naylor Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Luminous Santa Barbara County offices by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy AIASB.

Luminous Santa Barbara County offices by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy AIASB.

Mid-century modern library by PMSM Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Mid-century modern library by PMSM Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Modern cottage for multiple generations by AB Design Studio, photo courtesy AIASB.

Modern cottage for multiple generations by AB Design Studio, photo courtesy AIASB.

Tract house retread by Ensberg Jacobs Design, photo courtesy of AIASB.

Tract house retread by Ensberg Jacobs Design, photo courtesy of AIASB.

The Wild and Wonderful World of Orchids

Laelia orchid Splendid Spire “Rose Midnight” from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. Photo by Chuck Place.

Laelia orchid Splendid Spire “Rose Midnight” from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. Photo by Chuck Place.

Photographs by Chuck Place | Story by Leslie Dinaberg

The flowers themselves are not the only lavishly colorful component in the exotic  jungle of the orchid universe. Photographer Chuck Place—an avid grower of  cymbidiums and an eager chronicler of quirkiness—takes us on a lush visual  journey through the wild and wonderful world of orchids.



Lynn Pettigrew prepping a special cymbidium for the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. Photo by Chuck Place.

Lynn Pettigrew prepping a special cymbidium for the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. Photo by Chuck Place.

Meet the Collectors

“If roses are the flower of romance, then orchids are the flower of passion. Collectors through the years have risked life, limb and incarceration in their quest for yet another rare orchid to add to their hoard.”—Zoological Society of  San Diego.

The largest family of flowering plants, orchids are found on every continent except Antarctica. Among the many local orchid collectors whom Place photographed, he says that Don Brown “is like one of the godfathers of local collectors and growers.

Don Brown grows a variety of orchids using a reverse osmosis system to provide pure water. Photo by Chuck Place.

Don Brown grows a variety of orchids using a reverse osmosis system to provide pure water. Photo by Chuck Place.

He’s extremely knowledgeable. Hugely so. He’s got an international reputation.” A retired UCSB anthropology professor, Brown has several greenhouses and grows a wide range of orchids using a reverse osmosis system to provide pure water. Like all of the collectors shown here, he is also an avid competitor.

Bill Robson holding an Odontoglossum Yellow Parade orchid hybrid. Photo by Chuck Place.

Bill Robson holding an Odontoglossum Yellow Parade orchid hybrid. Photo by Chuck Place.

Lynn Pettigrew (in plaid) is shown prepping a special cymbidium for the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. “He has so many cymbidiums, his collection has expanded to a friend’s backyard…he picks up hybrids at various orchid shows and just keeps building his stock that way. But essentially every time he brings in new plants, he has to give away some because he needs the space,” says Place.

Bill Robson (in green), shown in his shade house holding an Odontoglossum Yellow Parade orchid hybrid, is the former manager of Gallup & Stribling Orchids Visitor’s Center and what Place describes as “another highly knowledgable expert,” along with Paul Gripp, the former owner of Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.


(L-R) Curator of Malacology at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Daniel L. Geiger, Ph.D. ; micro orchids; Recently germinated cymbidium orchid seedlings are transferred to flasks at the orchid seedling facility at Gallup & Stribling Orchids. ; The next step in the process, cymbidium orchid seedlings germinate in flasks at the orchid seedling facility at Gallup & Stribling Orchids. All Photo by Chuck Place.

(L-R) Curator of Malacology at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Daniel L. Geiger, Ph.D. ; micro orchids; Recently germinated cymbidium orchid seedlings are transferred to flasks at the orchid seedling facility at Gallup & Stribling Orchids. ; The next step in the process, cymbidium orchid seedlings germinate in flasks at the orchid seedling facility at Gallup & Stribling Orchids. All Photos by Chuck Place.

The Science

Orchids thrive in many different types of environments, including the climate-controlled world of the laboratory.

As Curator of Malacology at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Daniel L. Geiger, Ph.D. has a unique advantage as an avid collector and grower of micro orchids. His job affords him access to scanning electron microscopes and focus stacking software to photograph these tiny orchids, because they are very difficult to see, says Place, as evidenced by the mounted specimens of micro orchids being prepared for viewing in a scanning electron microscope. “I don’t think these micro orchids are any harder to grow than any other kind,” says Place. “They’re all on bark.”


The Orchid Show

Photo by Chuck Place.

Lynn Pettigrew shows one of his prize-winning cymbidium orchids from the 68th Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. Photo by Chuck Place.

With a theme of “Complements and Contrasts,” the 69th Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is March 14–16  at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real,

The oldest and one of the largest orchid shows in the country, this year’s Orchid Show showcases all of the many beautiful and exotic orchids from around the world. Featuring exhibits and floral arrangements by top local, regional and international growers, as well as vendors from all over the United States, South America and Asia, offering thousands of blooming orchid plants for sale, the show also offers demonstrations and lectures on orchid culture and related topics, says spokesperson Tammy Guerra.

Photo by Chuck Place.

Visitors enjoy the colorful beauty of thousands of blooming orchid plants at the 68th Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. Photo by Chuck Place.

In keeping with the theme, orchid displays showcase unusual contrasts and stunning complements and show how, while different, they can look beautiful when brought together as a whole. Competition is also an important component of the Orchid Show.

The Artist

Photo by Chuck Place.

Artist Suemae Lin Willhite. Photo by Chuck Place.

Artist Suemae Lin Willhite brings focus to the art of the orchid with her  dramatic Chinese brush paintings, often inspired by the thriving orchids  in her own back yard.

Willhite, who teaches Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, gives demonstrations of brush painting techniques at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. An award-winning artist with more than 40 years of experience in Chinese brush painting and calligraphy, her work can be seen in local galleries and is inspired by her grandfather, a well-known Chinese artist in Taiwan. Orchids—which symbolize grace and elegance in Chinese brush painting—are frequent subjects for Willhite’s artistry. Drawing her ideas from nature and spiritual inspirations, she says she paints, when inspired by a vision in her mind’s eye from a wide range of subjects and compositions, with a unique style of Chinese impressionism, abstract and her own fusion of East meets West. She paints with a joyful harmony that is apparent in her work as well as in the classes she teaches. For more information about Willhite, visit

Discover the Orchid Trail

This cymbidium orchid was grown by Lynn Pettigrew. Photo by Chuck Place.

This cymbidium orchid was grown by Lynn Pettigrew. Photo by Chuck Place.

The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show comes but once a year, but the diverse beauty of orchids is in full flower year-round along the California Orchid Trail. The area between the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains and the calm seas of the Pacific has seeded an industry that now produces more orchids than any other region in the country.

Five out of the seven growers on the California Orchid Trail are in Santa Barbara County (the others are in Malibu and Oxnard). From north to south, the local growers are:

Cal-Orchid, Inc.

Owners James and Lauris Rose keep a diverse inventory, reflecting the interests of not only the current marketplace, but also their many trips made to foreign locales, where James uses his sharp eye for the unusual to spot new treasures. Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Saturday. 1251 Orchid Dr., Santa Barbara. 805/967-1312,

Dendrobium orchids from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. Photo by Chuck Place.

Dendrobium orchids from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. Photo by Chuck Place.

Santa Barbara Orchid Estate

Located on five acres of beautiful coastal Santa Barbara, the orchid estate is just 500 feet from the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Robert J. Chrisman, a legendary orchid grower, and now owned by Parry and Alice Gripp, the estate is one of the world’s foremost collectors and propagators of orchid species and hybrids, specializing in outdoor temperature-tolerant varieties. Open 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sundays. 1250 Orchid Dr., Santa Barbara. 805/967-1284,

Miltonia orchids, or pansy orchids, from Gallup & Stribling Orchids in Carpinteria. Photo by Chuck Place.

Miltonia orchids, or pansy orchids, from Gallup & Stribling Orchids in Carpinteria. Photo by Chuck Place.

Gallup & Stribling Orchids

Gallup & Stribling’s home farm occupies 48 acres in Carpinteria, making it one of the largest in the country. With more than 1.5 million square feet of greenhouse space, it is a state-of-the-art breeding, growing and distribution facility. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday–Sunday. 3450 Via Real, Carpinteria. 805/684-1998,

Orchids Royale

Orchids Royale grows mostly cymbidiums, but also paphiopedilums, miltonias and odontoglossums. They maintain 70,000 square feet of temperature-controlled greenhouses. Open by appointment. 5902 Via Real, Carpinteria. 805/684-8066.

Laelia orchid from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.Photo by Chuck Place.

Laelia orchid from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.Photo by Chuck Place.

Westerlay Orchids

Joe Overgaag founded Westerlay Orchids following his emigration from the Netherlands to Carpinteria. Later, he earned the distinction of being among the first in the nation to widely apply hydroponic growing technology to flowers. Winter hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday and 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturdays. Regular hours (daylight savings): 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday  and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays. 3504 Via Real, Carpinteria. 805/684-5411,



Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Keeping it Green: Cozy Charm Meets Environmental Friendliness

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Combining cozy quaintness with modern conveniences was the goal when Linda and Jerry Gutterman decided to remodel their 1930’s cottage. As much as they loved the homey feel of their tiny, 1,086 square foot abode, they wanted more room, and used their remodel as an opportunity to create a greener, healthier and more energy efficient living space.

It was important to Linda that they maintain the cottage’s cozy feeling. “I wanted a real cottage feel when you came up the driveway, “ she says.

Located on a cul de sac off of Schoolhouse Road, the cottage has a long and storied history that Linda and Jerry wanted to make sure they preserved. The property, which runs alongside a creek, originally belonged to the family of Burr and Beverly Barker, Linda’s former husband and his sister.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Their grandfather, William Barker, purchased the five-acre property in 1895 and it became known as Barker Ranch. William had eight children, six sons and two daughters, who lived in the original farmhouse down the street.

“As they grew up he decided to give his children property on the farm so they could build their homes with their spouses when they married,” says Linda. So the property was divided up and Burr’s father Fred built the original cottage with his brothers in 1932.

When Fred and his wife Jeanne passed away in the late 1970s, Burr (then married to Linda) and his sister Beverly inherited the cottage. They bought Beverly’s share and held onto the property.  In 1994 the property was deeded to Linda and she moved into the family cottage.

Four generations of Barker children have played among the oak trees that frame the backyard of the cottage, which butts against the grounds of the 11-acre Casa del Herrero estate. Designed by the area’s premiere architect, George Washington Smith, Casa del Herrero is noted as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and has been in the hands of its original owners, the Steedman family, since it was first constructed more than 75 years ago.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

“What we wanted to achieve with this house remodel is to make it feel like it’s always been here,” Linda says, citing her love and appreciation for the older home styles found in Montecito and the Upper East Side of Santa Barbara.

Both of the Gutterman’s like traditional style homes that feel like they have a history. They have a special affection for the cottage, where Linda took residence in 1994. She married Jerry in 1999. “I married her for her cottage,” he jokes.

“I loved the cottage and I enjoyed living in it very much. It was very cozy because I had added all my touches. But the house was single wall construction, and it was cold. The windows were single glass paned…the nice leaded glass windowpanes that came from the old Parma Estate, and neat windows, classic leaded glass windows … but it was just drafty,” says Linda.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

“They weren’t very energy efficient,” adds Jerry.

“We were burning gas like mad just keeping the house warm,” says Linda.

In addition, the house wasn’t well built. “It wasn’t a home that you could save and remodel. It wasn’t built well enough structurally, because it was built by the kids, by the boys,” she says. Plus, it is located right next to a creek and they had problems with mold and mildew.

“It was almost like it was becoming uninhabitable for health reasons, and so we decided we would build a whole new home. (There was) almost like an underwater lake that was developing under the foundation of the house when you dig down underneath the property,” says Linda.

Jerry explains that the Jell-O-like substance under the house was subsurface water, which had to be excavated in order to rebuild the structure. “We did not want to build over that because we would continue to sustain the same problems,” he says.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Working with Allen Associates, a local building contractor that specializes in green construction, the Gutterman’s decided to install a French drain system that collects all of the water runoff from the back of property and the roof and then drains it into the streambed for reuse.

While the Gutterman’s decided to remodel in January 2006, they didn’t actually begin demolition until April of that year. They worked with several architects to come up with a design that would preserve the look and feel of the old cottage while using new materials and technological innovations to go from a 1,086 square foot home to 2,900 square feet. Linda’s father, architect John Roberts, did the initial layout and floor plan.

But because we changed our minds so much, “her father fired us,” laughs Jerry. “Her dad does drafting the old-fashioned way with a pencil and eraser, and with the way Linda and I change our minds, until we figure it out, it was a lot of erasing for him.”

“We became known as Mr. and Mrs. Change,” says Linda. The next architect hired was Melvin Hemmer, who unfortunately passed away before the project was completed. Sophie Calvin took over at that point to complete the plans and get the design through all of the necessary approvals.

While the new home is more than twice the size of the original, from the curb it still looks like a small cottage. “We tried to keep the feel of this home from the front when you drive up to be similar to other homes on the street, to keep that same cottage sense and feeling,” says Jerry.

“When you drive up, it doesn’t look nearly as big as it is,” says Linda. “I kind of like the element of surprise. That is really what I enjoy is coming in to a home and seeing the charming little touches.”

Among the charming touches she preserved are the fireplace mantel from the original cottage, which now graces the master bedroom, and the door of the original 1900s farmhouse from Barker Ranch, which is now the entry to a new garden cottage in the backyard.

“That was important to us to try to keep the traditional integrity as best we could,” says Jerry.

There’s always a concern in older neighborhoods when people hear that there’s a new home going up, says Linda. While she understands the need to update older homes, “what I want is for this street to stay charming as it always has been. ”

Some of the biggest updates were in the area of energy efficiency. Improving insulation is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of a house, says Allen Associates Green Resources Manager Karen Feeney. In the Gutterman’s case, they used recycled content non-formaldehyde fiberglass insulation in all of the walls.  They also used energy-efficient windows and ceiling fans to improve circulation. An “on-demand” hot water heating system also improved efficiency, as did new Energy Star appliances.

The Gutterman’s selected innovative structural materials for their remodel as well. They used faux stonework for the outside fireplace, which is less expensive and easier to work with because it’s much lighter than real stone. Their backyard deck is a product called EverGrain, made from plastic and recycled wood fibers. This type of decking is extremely low maintenance and not prone to damage from termites or weather.

Linda says she marvels at the many high substitute materials available now instead of wood.

Fire is also a big concern in Montecito, and the Gutterman’s took this into consideration when choosing the EverGrain decking, which is Class A fire-rated, meaning it has a high resistance to fire and a lower probability of combusting during a fire. They also chose to use fiber cement shingle siding manufactured by CertainTeed and a fiber cement roof product called Firefree to address both their environmental and fire safety concerns.

“They were able to achieve both goals, the green goal as well as putting in materials in their home that were not going to be susceptible to fire, so there’s a win win in both areas,” says Feeney.

Their Isokern fireplaces in the living room, the kitchen, and outside on the deck were all designed for energy efficiency. “A lot of times you’ve got your fireplace and three-fourths of the heat is going up. The way that these are designed is that they are much more fuel-efficient and they radiate the heat back out into the rooms so they are more effective,” says Feeney.

In order to improve the air quality and therefore their health, the Gutterman’s—who had custom dining room and office cabinets built by John Willis and purchased their kitchen and bathroom cabinets from Jack’s Kitchens— used formaldehyde-free shelving and cabinet materials, as well as non-toxic sealants, adhesives and oils and zero/no VOC (no emission) paints and coatings throughout the house.

They also installed PEX plumbing, which is made from cross-linked polyethylene. In addition to the cost saving advantage over traditional copper plumbing, this material is more flexible so it doesn’t require welding, it’s more durable under temperature extremes, and there are no chemical byproducts to get into the water supply. “It’s definitely a cost effective green alternative,” says Feeney.

The Gutterman’s were thrilled to be able to move back into their cozy cottage last April, exactly one year and one week after demolition day. They had a hard time picking a favorite room. Jerry says he had a special affection for his office, the bedroom and the living room, while Linda says she loved both the kitchen and the master bathroom, in part because of their beautiful, park-like views, and of course the memories.

“There’s so much memory here of all our family get-togethers under these trees and of all our picnics and all that, so it’s really a very nostalgic thing for us,” says Linda, whose daughters Bryn and Leah now visit often with their own babies.

The structure may be new, but the rumble of the creek, the swish of the trees, and the history of the house still remain.

Originally published in Montecito Magazine, Spring 2008.



First Time Home Buyers: The American Dream … the South Coast Reality

Google maps photo

Google maps photo

Breaking into the local real estate market is tough but not impossible. Leslie Dinaberg explores who’s buying for the first time and how.

Practicality, frugality and focus were the key values that got Jonathan and Kara Rocque into their first home, at 7126 Del Norte Dr. in Goleta. Both UCSB graduates, the Rocques lived in a one-bedroom apartment and didn’t really upgrade their lifestyle much after college in order to save money for a house.

They started making offers right after they married, about 2-1/2 years ago, but Jonathan said he wasn’t really ready to buy until recently. “People always say ‘get in as soon as you can,’ but … at the same time, I really have no regrets not getting in any sooner because I wasn’t ready.” An engineer, he said he worked for a start-up company and was worried about job stability.

“I think I got to the point where I gained more confidence in myself and that things were going to be okay,” said Jonathan, who now works for Indigo Systems, which recently merged with FLIR Systems.

When he felt really ready to buy, Jonathan had the willing assistance of his father, John Rocque, a realtor and mortgage broker in San Dimas.

Another factor that kept the Rocques from buying quickly was their expectation of what they would be able to afford. “We started thinking that we wanted our dream home out of the shoot, and I think that’s what delayed our purchase, probably,” said Jonathan.

The three-bedroom two and a half-bathroom home the Rocques eventually bought this year for $659,500 has a studio apartment (garage conversion) on the property, a big selling point. “We were looking at these two-bedroom one-bath cottages and went, I just can’t do it. There’s got to be something out there that’s better because it doesn’t leave us the flexibility to grow,” said Jonathan. “When we saw this place with the studio I just thought ‘Oh God, couldn’t be better.’ I could give up the garage and take the extra income that will definitely help.”

Kara noted the backyard had a shed for storage, making it easier for her to give up the garage space. Being able to have a vegetable garden was also important to her, as was the school district. “Basically any school in Goleta, I’m totally comfortable with,” said Kara, who teaches first grade at La Patera.

The Rocques also knew what they didn’t want: no condos and no commuting. “The whole reason we live in Santa Barbara is the lifestyle,” said Jonathan. “I ride my bike. I love the mountains. I love riding by the ocean. I love the weather. I value my time … I’m not going to drive an hour each way to work. I’d go somewhere else where I could live close,” he said.

“I don’t think either one of us ever wants to move into one of the new developments because they’re so crunched together,” added Kara. “Yeah they look pretty, they’re nice and new, but to me this has more character than those houses. You can paint it whatever color you want to paint it; you can do whatever you want with your yard.”

While the Rocques would eventually like to move to a larger house, they are fixing up their yard and treating the house like a home.

“It’s not short term, but it’s not forever,” said Kara.

“This house easily gets us ten years,” said Jonathan. “If we wanted to, at some point we’ll refinance and we could reclaim that space (the studio).”

And as for the realities of being able to afford to stay on the South Coast, they credit much of their success to Patrick Flood, the financial consultant Jonathan began working with when he graduated from college. The Rocques said they feel both blessed and proud to be able to get into the housing market

“I like taking on challenges too. I took a major in college … that was challenging. And staying in Santa Barbara was a big challenge, but I was going to do it. I was really, really happy that we could,” said Jonathan.

Added Kara: “If we can do it here then we can do it anywhere.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

Bungalow Haven

mapWhat started out as a simple opportunity to socialize with neighbors and get to know a little more about American bungalow style architecture and restoration has quickly morphed the Bungalow Haven Neighborhood Association into a vibrant, politically active neighborhood watchdog group.

Bungalow Haven was formed about two years ago by neighbors Dee Duncan and her husband Steve Dowty, and Judy and Sayre Macneil.

“The original intent was social,” said Cheri Rae, another member of the association. Rae said the group has a couple of hundred members representing about 125 households and meets once a month at Duncan and Dowty’s home. They also have an active email list and several subcommittees, including a political action committee that is currently reviewing its position on the proposed development of the former St. Francis Medical Center property.

The Bungalow Haven neighborhood — roughly bounded by Alta Vista, Laguna, Anapamu and Micheltorena streets — began to mobilize when they learned of a plan to construct 18 new units on the 1400 block of Laguna Street and relocate five bungalows. The project — developed by Capital Pacific Holding LLC and designed by architect Detlev Peikert — was well underway before the neighbors really became aware of it. However, at least in part from their efforts (including numerous appearances before the planning commission and the architectural board of review) the project has been scaled back to retain three of the existing bungalows on the property, along with plans to build the 15 new units in craftsman style rather than the originally planned red tile roofs.

“We’ve shown up 50 at a time and I think that was part of why we’ve been so successful. People were so amazed to see such a large bunch of people who were very articulate,” said Rae, who has been sharing strategies with other neighborhood associations.

Mike Jogoleff, who has lived in Bungalow Haven since childhood, fears continued encroachment by developers would ruin the neighborhood’s character. “If somebody’s working against us like these big development companies, they just come in and screw everybody,” he said.

One of the steps the neighborhood association is taking to prevent more “condo mania” is working to establish Bungalow Haven as a Historic Landmark District. Regarding the Laguna Street project, Rae said, “… we’ve all had a steep learning curve on what the rules are, and we want to prevent it from ever happening again.”

To obtain historic status, the group must first finish a neighborhood survey cataloguing the historic elements throughout the approximately 300 homes in the neighborhood. “We’re modeling our approach on the El Pueblo Viejo and the Brinkerhoff Districts. They are (the) only two historic districts in the town so far, so we’re doing the same thing that they did,” she said.

Rae admitted, “It’s a little ironic when we say with disdain, ‘they’re putting in million dollar condos’ when our houses are creeping up toward million dollar houses. It’s just (that) what you get for your money is not stucco and brand-new efficient appliances, but you get some charm.”

Jogoleff is also keenly aware that the working-class neighborhood he grew up in has changed. ” As my neighbor says, the people that buy our houses are not going to be painters and teachers. It’s going to be lawyers, doctors, accountants.”

While development projects have been catalysts, they aren’t the primary reason for the group. “The group is to preserve this style of life, simple and kind of a calmer way of life. None of us chose to go live in a tract house in Goleta. That’s just not what we wanted. … We’re not out there recruiting members. … The whole idea is for peaceful coexistence and neighborhood protection,” Rae said.

“We’re not anti-development … it’s just within reason and it’s within scale and size and having respect for the neighborhoods that are already here. It makes no sense whatsoever to develop for new people who come in when you ignore the neighbors that are already here and have built Santa Barbara to be what it is. … We feel like we’re part of the fabric of this town and we want to be able to stay here and not be run out because we can’t have the kind of life that we want to have here,” Rae said.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

It’s all about hue!

Image by gubgib

Image by gubgib

Gone are the days of a one-color-fits-all approach to decorating. Now homeowners are choosing colors to illicit a mood and perk up a room’s decor.

Wall color is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to add some color to your home, said Pat Musarra, owner of Affordable One-Day Design.

Ralph Lauren even offers Color Testers, a new product line that allows you to sample the complete palette. Each Color Tester packet provides paint coverage in a satin finish for 2-foot by 2-foot sections of wall, retails for $3.99, and may be purchased online at

Even if you’re leery of paint, with so many varieties of home accessories available, it’s easy to start small and experiment boldly with color on items like throw pillows, vases, candles, slipcovers, candy dishes, sheets and towels and table linens.

“New lighting is very important. Just changing lampshades can have an enormous impact,” said Musarra, who also recommended taking a look down at your floors. “Area rugs or maybe pulling up wall-to-wall carpeting and laying down a hardwood floor or some kind of new laminate floor … Especially if the wall-to-wall carpeting is old or the color’s outdated.”

In addition to freshening your home’s look, colors can be used to create a mood.

“Red will wake up a room,” said interior designer Rosemary Sadez Friedmann. “It should be used as an accent in accessories, part of a pattern in upholstery or one impressive chair or bench. Red is a good color to have in a nursery because it stimulates and aids the development of neural connections in an infant’s brain.”

Musarra said she’s seen red — and other bright colors — used a lot as a kitchen accent color, with coffee makers, mixers and other small appliances now available in a wide variety of colors.

Orange is another color that is “uplifting, stimulating and enlivening,” according to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints. “It has the ability to raise our spirits and to make us feel optimistic — a quality that is in high demand right now.”

“Yellow would be a good color for a workout room, particularly if aerobics were involved. It’s also a good color for a game room, study or office because it helps to keep you attentive. A yellow bathroom will take the chill out of the air,” said Friedmann.

Whatever color you choose to update your home’s look, experts advise you start small, with maybe a few throw pillows or some new kitchen linens.

“It’s amazing how many inexpensive ways there are to update your home,” said Musarra, who specializes in quick and cost effective design strategies.

Musarra charges a flat fee of $200 for her services, which include a two-hour home consultation, followed up with a written design plan.

“I also restyle the room for you while I’m there,” she said. “Move furniture in, move some out, re-hang artwork, re-group accessories, and give a room a whole new makeover, using basically what the client has and at the same time, offering suggestions as to what she or he should buy to complete the look they’re trying to achieve.”

What colors are hot

“It” is either Violet Tulip, Coraly Orange, Full Bloom (a Salmony Pink) or Turquoise Blue, depending on which expert you ask about the “it color” in home decorating this year.

“I’m seeing a lot of pinks and salmon and turquoise and brown, not my favorites, but I am seeing a lot of those colors,” said Pat Musarra, owner of Affordable One-Day Design.

Pantone – the company that crowned violet tulip as this year’s queen – has even created a new color system called Colorstrology, which “infuses elements of astrology and numerology with the spirituality of color.”

According to Michele Bernhardt, creator of Colorstrology, 2005 will resonate with spirituality and healing.

“The year will begin with a heavy influence in regard to foreign affairs, education, religion and sports. Peace, balance and cooperation in all types of relationships will be a major theme and can also be a major challenge. Violet tulip can help us see past our differences while dissolving our feelings of separateness,” said Bernhardt.

At, you’ll find your personal birth color, along with a personality profile and advice on your color vibe. September, for example, is Baja Blue, “a divine and alluring color that resonates with beauty, purity and wisdom.” This color “can help ease tension and promote tranquility,” making it an ideal choice for a bedroom or a yoga studio.

Taking the color horoscope a step further, a Virgo born on Sept. 8 would have Etruscan Red as their personal color for the year, a color that “corresponds with depth, vitality and passion.”

According to the site, “wearing, meditating or surrounding yourself with Etruscan Red inspires you to move through life with energy and wisdom.”

Sounds like a good color to decorate the office.

What color is your mood?

Here are some color guidelines based on the type of mood you want to create.

RED__Use red for excitement. It is associated with power, passion, dominance, activity and heat. It represents youthfulness, impulse and intensity. Red is also a grounding color and can make you feel secure.

ORANGE__Orange represents excitement and can be stimulating. It can make you feel like hurrying and that is why it’s usually a color used in fast-food places and quick mart-type stores. They want you in and out quickly. Happiness, liveliness, exuberance and boldness are also associated with orange.

BLACK__Use black to evoke drama, elegance, power, sophistication and mystery. Black is also associated with death, fright, aloofness, fatigue, cold, darkness and bereavement.

YELLOW __Yellow is eye-catching, inspirational and raises ones spirits. It is also said to aid digestion, communication and sharpen memory. Design experts advise you treat yellow like sunlight. You want it around for the happiness it produces but you don’t want it to be overpowering.

GRAY__Gray is said to be steady, resigned, stable, deliberate, guarded, dignified, indecisive, disciplined, protected, cool and neutral.

PURPLE__Purple can be used to increase spirituality and enlightenment. It evokes feelings of elegance, restfulness, supremacy, creativity, royalty and reverence. Purple is also said to promote peace, quiet overactive glands and lower blood pressure.

BLUE__Blue is a breath of fresh air, evoking feelings of openness, tranquility, serenity, restoration and well being. It is also said to lower respiratory rates, promote relaxation and increase healing.

BROWN__Brown reminds us of nature and the earth. It is also said to be restful, rich, casual, tranquil, safe, homespun, reliable, stable, sturdy and simultaneously cool and warm.

GREEN__Green reminds us of harmony, balance, compassion, wealth, security and growth. It is said to promote relaxation and refresh the spirit. Green is also a good color to promote health, although it may not reflect well on all skin tones.

WHITE__White evokes feelings of cleanliness, simplicity, safety, purity, enlightenment, individualism, idealism, optimism, joy, innocence, hope and reflection.

Want to find the real hue?

Take this completely unscientific quiz to find out which color (or colors) suit your inner self.

Check off all of the descriptions that apply to you, then count how many A, B, C, D, E and F personality traits you had. That’s your true hue.

B. I frequently rearrange my furniture and repaint my walls.

B. I love jury duty.

E. I always tell the truth, even if it hurts.

D. I often engage complete strangers in conversation.

E. I feel overwhelmingly compelled to pipe up during city council meetings.

B. I burn the midnight oil at work and volunteer for extra tasks.

F. I am a back-seat driver.

D. I would rather shop at a farmers’ market than a mall.

C. The hardest part of throwing a party is deciding the menu.

F. I am the boss, or I should be.

F. I feel good about me, especially when I compare myself with others.

B. I love details.

D. I define myself by my parenting skills.

A. I was never good at sharing.

B. Someday I’m going to chuck it all and go live in the wilderness.

C. Home is the center of my world.

D. When friends call, I can be counted on to help.

E. Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

A. My friends and family say I’m stubborn. What do they know?

F. Some might find me arrogant.

A. Hallmark commercials make me cry.

A. I’m the first to volunteer for charity functions and luncheons.

C. Pushover doesn’t even begin to describe how easy it is to talk me into things.

Your True Hue

A. Seeing green.

You are confident and caring, and would feel good in a room of sage, basil or celadon. The new greens for 2005 will lean toward the seashore tones. Botanical-inspired greens remain popular.

B. Yellow fellows.

You will feel energized in a room with buttery walls and mahogany furniture. Let in the light with minimal window coverings. The new yellows for 2005 will lean toward ochre and gold.

C. Purple people.

Forget practicality; celebrate your spirit with shades of violet, lavender and silver. Use eggplant or plum as an accent.

D. Orange you glad.

You love food, home and entertaining. Surround yourself with pumpkin, copper or muted auburn. Orange will bring cheerfulness and order to your home.

E. Blue you.

Your dependable, serene nature will feel at ease in rooms washed in shades of gray-blue and soft turquoise — both popular colors for 2005. Definitely use blue in bedrooms for a peaceful night’s sleep.

F. Red hot.

You like to be in charge. Choose red for accents: think floral arrangements rather than carpets. Or start small in the kitchen with a new fire engine red coffee maker.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon (2003)