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 http://www.carpinteriafarmtours.com/map.

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

MOBI’s

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 carpinteriafarmtours.com.

—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 (LeelaCyd.com) 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
SUGAR COOKIES WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.

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

CANDIED FLOWERS
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 aiasb.com 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,  sborchidshow.com.

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 suemaeart.com.

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, calorchid.com.

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, sborchid.com.

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, gallup-stribling.com.

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, westerlayorchids.com.

 

 

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: Adventures in Home Buying

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

Sometimes the first house you have your heart set on isn’t the one that you’re meant to have. That was the lesson Gloria Herrera and Martin Ibarra learned during their recent home-buying adventure.

After losing bids on several homes, the couple, who share a home with their daughter and Ibarra’s mother, was ready to compromise on their dream house. While they really wanted to stay in Santa Barbara, they also looked at properties in San Ynez and Buellton. Plus, they needed at least three bedrooms and they didn’t want a condominium.

This market is very competitive and difficult, said their Realtor Nicole Dinkelacker, who’s with Remax in Goleta. “It’s a lot more complicated than just finding a property.”

In the case of Herrera and Ibarra, Dinkelacker was ready with the check for a “compromise house,” when she found out that another property they had bid on earlier was available for an additional $5,000.

“Usually $5,000 you’re like oh my God, $5,000,” said Herrera. “At this point, $5,000 was like $5 to me … for a bigger property and an extra room.” Herrera said she thought the fact that she and Ibarra are both native Santa Barbarans (who met at Santa Barbara High School) was what sealed the deal for the home they eventually purchased for $700,000.

The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a 900 square foot lot on Noma Street in Carpinteria was a good buy, compared to what was available in Santa Barbara. “We lucked out,” said Herrera, noting that in addition to more square footage, most of the house had new carpet and had been newly painted.

Regarding making home improvements, “It’s not like you have much money left after buying the house. You pay your bills and you pay your mortgage and then … Home Depot,” said Herrera.

“Yeah, we tend to be at Home Depot a lot more, that’s for sure,” laughed Ibarra.

“When we first got the house, it wasn’t as pretty. I put in palm trees and flowers. … I think a year from now it will definitely be a lot more how we envisioned it. …You only have the weekend to really do much.”

Although fixing up the house is an ongoing project, Herrera said she’s ready to relax and enjoy the house for a while. “Even though it’s a very tight budget, … you kind of spend your weekends here at home. Sometimes it’s by choice and other times because you really have no other form of entertainment you can afford. But at least it’s yours and you know that little by little, it will get easier. … We have something that a lot of people have a hard time trying to obtain.”

“I know she had her heart set on the first house … and I know when that didn’t come through she got down. But like I told her, it’s either meant to be or not,” said Ibarra. “(I told her) we’re going to find something down the road that’s going to be much better. And soon we were able to find this.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

First Time Home Buyers: Going Condo

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

The quest to buy a condominium on the South Coast can be grueling on the nerves. “It was crazy. You’d go out and at every open house … you’d see all the same people all the time,” said Cari Thomas, who recently purchased a San Roque condo with her husband Sam. “They started looking like your competition. Like you didn’t want to smile at anybody.”

“I think our biggest surprise was the amount of demand and the fact that there were multiple offers over the asking price,” said Sam. The Thomases looked at dozens of condos and were outbid on six different places before purchasing their new home at 3663 San Remo Drive for $560,000.

We feel like we lucked out, said Cari.

“Once you get a firm understanding of the market, your standards change a little bit. There were places the first weekend we looked that were significantly less money that were not as nice, but a month and a half later we were wishing we would have made offers on those ones that we saw early on,” said Sam.

As is the case with many first-time homebuyers, the two-bedroom, two-bath place the Thomases purchased was more expensive than what they originally budgeted for. When their realtor, Judith McDermott from Village Properties, urged them to “Just drive by and see what you can get for that amount,” they immediately liked it enough to call their loan broker and make the arrangements to make an offer.

“We put five percent down and are using an interest only loan. Some of the money was from savings, some was from a previous 401K plan, and some was an investment from friends,” said Sam.

Part of what sold them on the condo was its immediate livability. “The paint, it’s amazing what paint and color can do. And it was decorated really nicely and the mountain view was pretty,” said Cari. She also liked the fact that the condo overlooks a pool and the rooms were pretty spacious compared to other condominiums.

“It definitely felt modern and we liked how they redid all the architecture on the outside,” said Sam, noting that the kitchen appliances were upgraded three years ago when the complex was converted from apartments to condominiums.

The fact that the association fees were comparatively low was also a plus for the Thomases. Another advantage was the location, close to downtown and their workplace, Cima Management.

At the time of their purchase, they simply saw the Hope School District location as a plus for the condominium’s resale value. However, the Thomases have since learned they’re expecting their first child in November.

“It (the school district) wasn’t something we were searching for initially, but now it worked out great,” Cari said.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

First Time Home Buyers: Lowered Expectations

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

Image by phanlop88 freedigitalimages.net

Like many first time homebuyers, Jennifer Cartwright and Bob Freed had to lower their expectations a bit when they set out to buy something on the South Coast. When they originally saw their condominium at 235 Aspen Way in Santa Barbara, they didn’t like it. “After seeing what was out there and the locations and prices, that’s where everything kind of just clicked that this had pretty much everything we wanted,” said Freed of the two bedroom, one and a half bath condo they recently purchased for $453,000.

Price was definitely part of what influenced the purchase, said Cartwright. In October, the then-engaged couple (who wed in late April) were “just kind of investigating options” with realtor/friend Bob Curtis. “We didn’t care if it was a house or a condo. We didn’t think we would be able to afford anything in the first place,” she said.

“It was all timing. What we basically wanted to do is stop paying the man. It’s just a different way of looking at savings,” said Freed.

The money for their down payment was an inheritance from Cartwright’s grandmother. “We got really lucky,” said Freed, who was sharing a house with roommates at the time, while Cartwright lived in a studio apartment. The condo had been recently painted and carpeted and didn’t need much work.

The couple also gave a lot of credit to their realtor. “Bob is an excellent real estate agent. He really took the time to kind of teach us all there was to learn about,” said Freed.

“And we had a lot of questions. Poor Bob, we were calling him daily almost,” added Cartwright. “Before we even looked at things, he set us up with Metro City Mortgage, which was our mortgage broker and told us all the right things to do. … Then when we went out to go look, we knew what we could afford. We weren’t in the dark,” she said.

The condo they purchased had been on the market for several months, unusual in Santa Barbara. “It was overpriced … It was on the market for 180 days or something like that. People were thinking that it was a lemon because no one had bought it right away, but that was because they listed it way too high,” said Cartwright.

The sellers lowered the price and Cartwright and Freed took the plunge and made an offer — after looking at places for only about a week. “I asked Bob at that time, I said are we moving too fast and what if we wait until the wedding,” said Freed. “Bob said, ‘You know, my gut instinct, if you wait, you’re going to pay $30,000 to $40,000 more.’ And actually condos of this size and this location are going for about 500 now,” said Freed.

While clubhouse amenities weren’t much of an attraction for the couple, who both work for the YMCA, what appealed to them about the condo was its secluded feel and location within the complex. “It’s off the street, further away … with the creek in the back, you’re guaranteed no one’s going to build,” said Cartwright.

“I feel more relaxed when I get home, I don’t know how I’m going to explain this but it’s like you’re really going home,” said Freed. “It’s just a neat feeling.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon