Fresh Flowers Meet Fresh Thinking

Fresh Flowers Meet Fresh Thinking, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Fresh Flowers Meet Fresh Thinking, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

A beautiful floral arrangement is always a welcome gift, but learning to make one can be a treasured experience. That’s the idea behind The Floral Pantry (thefloralpantry.com), a new CIY (create it yourself ) floristry-kit delivery service.

Founder and creative director Kim Wiseley worked with internationally renowned floral designers for years before landing on a way to share their expertise and creative inspiration with home floral enthusiasts, she says. The result of collaborations with renowned professionals, such as English floral designer Willow Crossley and Belgium-based farmer florist Emily Avenson of Fleuropean floral designs, the kits feature seasonal, fresh flowers, a handmade vessel, design tools, and a video design tutorial, all handpacked by Wiseley and her team in a Santa Barbara floral warehouse.

“Nature’s wonder is at the heart of everything we do,” Wiseley says.

Cover of 805 Living December 2020 Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Dreamy Bedding

Dreamy Bedding, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Dreamy Bedding, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Sleep is such an important component of our overall health and happiness, so why not gift your loved ones (or yourself ) with eco-conscious luxury bedding this holiday season?

Westlake Home (westlakehome.com) is a dream come true for brothers Charles-Etienne and Julien Roy, founders of the Westlake Village–based business, who spent more than two years traveling the world doing research to create luxurious bedding made from chemical-free, environmentally friendly products.

“Our dedication to creating heirloom pieces demands nothing can be overlooked,” says Julien. Not even the package. “The goal of our packaging is to convey reusability and reduce our trash impact,” he says.

Sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, and bundled sets are all available online, and every purchase comes with two gifts—a 100 percent organic mulberry silk eye mask and a
striking agate coaster from Brazil.

Cover of 805 Living December 2020 Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Irises—and Intellect—Bloom When the Garden Is a Classroom

Using the garden as a classroom is certainly a welcome adaptation during the days of COVID. But this type of outdoor education has been a key curriculum component at Santa Ynez Valley Charter School since its founding in 2000, said Executive Director John Dewey.

Last year, the public charter school added a new iris garden to the mix, planting more than
120 unique irises. Each student in grades 3-8 chose and planted their own individual breed of the flower, complete with fun (and legit!) names like Rainbow Shadow, Milk in My Coffee, and Ice Sculpture. Tending these flowery plants and their showy flowers, students
learn about planting, cultivating, harvesting, and composting, and teachers are able to incorporate lessons about the natural world, plant biology, ecology, and the environmental impact of humans on the planet.

The Iris Garden is the newest feature in an almost three-acre garden on the property, which is cared for exclusively by students and parents. In order to plant the irises, the team
reclaimed a hillside and the 5th graders did the work to terrace it, using railroad ties and “other bits and bobs,” said Dewey. “We have also logged the names of each plant, who planted it, as well as a photo of their blooms.”

As students start to return to school, the new 3rd graders will plant their irises, and so will all the staff members — they might even “dig down” to 2nd graders.

“It’s pretty exciting for the kids,” said Dewey. “They have ownership of it, and they get so excited when their iris blooms.”

Also in the works for this school year are a series of grade-level gardens, which the students take care of and choose the themes for. The first gardens had a native plant theme and a butterfly garden focus, with flowering plants that attract insects
and butterflies.

Santa Ynez Valley Charter School also recently became an Ocean Guardian School, a program sponsored by NOAA for schools to do projects that foster the protection of watersheds and the ocean. They are using the funds to separate food waste from trash and turn it into compost for the gardens.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

O’Connor Family and AHA! Engage Students on a Hope Ranch Annex Property

Organic farming utilizes the interconnectedness of nature, but an even more bountiful example of community connectedness has sprung to life on the Littlest Little Farm.

Tucked away in the Hope Ranch Annex neighborhood, this dynamic collaboration brings together teens from AHA! to work alongside two facilitators/farming educators to create, maintain, and grow a biodynamic farm. And it all takes place at the home of Laurel and Matt O’Connor, who host the farm in what is literally their backyard, working alongside the team to turn a little less than half an acre of “hard pan dirt” into an impressive urban farm.

Along with revitalizing the land, the Littlest Little Farm has also sparked something special in the teens. “At the beginning of the program, I’ll admit I was reluctant to join because I’m normally not someone who enjoys the outdoors,” said Owen Hubbell, a senior at San Marcos High. “But the amazing facilitators and environment allowed me to enjoy the outdoors more than I ever have before. I was able to learn about the value of nature and the value of taking care of it. Not only that, but I also learned the science of farming, which was very eye-opening to me, because I was never aware of the amount of work that goes
into farming. The feeling of watching something grow and develop, and to do it with a community of people I trust, is a gift I will never forget.”

The Littlest Little Farm, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, was indeed inspired by the documentary The Biggest Little Farm. Both Laurel (a clinical therapist) and her friend Jennifer Freed (the cofounder of AHA!’s nonprofit social-emotional education
program) were fans of the film.

“I was having my dream of wanting a farm, and she was trying to figure out how to bring a farming program to the teens,” said Laurel. “It happened really fast. Jennifer is a visionary; she’s amazing. That was in the summer a year ago, and (with support from the Manitou Foundation and other generous donors) we had kids with boots on the ground in early
November.”

Under the guidance of two AHA! alums — Julian Castillo, a clinical therapist, and Stevie
O’Connor, a facilitator (and Laurel and Matt’s daughter) — teens learn about soil nutrition, composting, row planting, amending soil, irrigation installation, worm composting, and noninvasive and chemical-free pest and weed management at the same they’re building social and emotional skills and self-awareness.

“I work with a lot of adolescent boys, and it’s definitely way better to meet outdoors and explore something than just sit there,” said Castillo. “The bigger picture that I like to tell them is that this is a little part of changing the world. The soil can actually sequester carbon. A lot of them have taken home not only plants and produce, but they’re starting
their own little home gardens. So we really think it’s a lot bigger deal, and I think they’re getting that it’s a much bigger thing than just putting stuff in the ground.”

“It’s exciting to see teens get excited about their impact on the planet,” said Stevie. “Also, we’ve harvested a ton in the last couple of months, so the teens are able to take some home and then we donate the extra produce to the Unity Shoppe. It’s great to be able to give that fresh produce back, because we want this to be appreciated.”

“Once we get more volume going, then we can expand to give to other nonprofits,” said Laurel. “So many people are always like, ‘Thank you so much for this,’ and I always feel like I’m the one who should be saying, ‘Thank you.’ I feel so lucky. It’s just a win-win situation. And especially given this time. Things are hard, and this is just such a positive
experience out here every time. It’s just a feel-good place for all of us. And we all come together in a safe way and get in touch with ourselves, with each other, with the soil, just all of it. It’s really amazing.”

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

2020 Best of Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

I had the honor of writing the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa Barbara winners once again this year. It was a huge, fun project, and a little easier the second time around.  Even (or maybe especially) in this weird year, people were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing by clicking here, or on the PDFs below.

Introduction + Eating 770 10-15-20_Part1

Eating 770 10-15-20_Part2

Eating, Drink, Out & About + Romance 770 10-15-20_Part3

Romance 770 10-15-20_Part4

Romance, Looking Good, Living Well, Sporting Life, Little Creatures, Housing + Driving 770 10-15-20_Part5

Driving + Media 770 10-15-20_Part6

Porch Swings Over to Summerland

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and the works of local artists at Porch on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and
the works of local artists at Porch
on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

“The building itself is an object of art. I feel like it was meant for us,” says Diana Dolan, owner of Porch (porchsb.com), about her shop’s new digs on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. The relocation to the larger space is her dream come true for the unique home and garden store that she has operated in Carpinteria for the past 12 years.

Featuring furnishings, kitchen goods, textiles, bedding, jewelry, candles, coffee-table books, succulents, and works by local artists, such as Pedro de la Cruz, Will Pierce, Lety Garcia, Colette Cosentino, and Michael Haber, the business is known for its thoughtfully curated space and inviting indoor/outdoor vibe, and Dolan says the new location will embrace that same spirit.

“Our soul remains true to our essence,” she says. “We’re going to continue to offer beautiful home and garden furnishings inspired by nature.”

Porch and other recent newcomers to Summerland—Sweet Wheel Produce, Field+Fort, and The Well—join businesses like The Sacred Space, Botanik, Garde, and Summerland Oriental Rugs in what is fast becoming an exciting design destination. “I think shoppers are looking for a real connection to something heartfelt and soulful,” says Dolan.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Wishful Weaving

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

Folks are spending more time than ever in their homes these days, and with that in mind, fiber artist Regina Vorgang has turned her talents to creating functional pieces of art for the table—handwoven table runners. “I’ve been thinking a lot about family gatherings,” says Vorgang, whose Regina Design (reginadesign.com) studio is based in Camarillo. “I’m trying to focus on what can be for the end of this year, in the hope that we can gather without too much worry.”

Vorgang started her career as a graphic designer before her desire to do something more tactile led her to begin creating handwoven tapestries and rugs. “I’m inspired by nature or designs that come into my head,” she says. Her table runners are on display through November 25 in A Time to Gather, an exhibit at Studio Channel Islands (studiochannelislands.org), a former elementary school housing 40 artists’ studios and a gallery. To schedule a private viewing visit studiochannelislands.org/visit.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

New Foodie Finds

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Recently introduced by Goleta Red Distillery (goletared.com), La Patera Lemon Flavored Vodka is made from 100 percent cane sugar and flavored with organic local lemons. Owner Michael Craig, a history buff, points to the citrus fruit’s longstanding presence in the area.

“The Stowe family were pioneers, some of the first people to grow lemons commercially in California,” says Craig, “and their property [Rancho La Patera and the Stow House, circa 1873, now stewarded by Goleta Valley Historical Society] is literally a mile from the distillery.”

Mony’s (monyssb.com), a buzzy Funk Zone taqueria where there are often long lines out the door, is now making its burritos available at other locations, too. Look for them in Santa Barbara under the Mamacita’s brand at the Santa Barbara Roasting Company cafe, and the Dart Coffee Co. shop, where co- owner Erika Carter says, “We sell out every day.”

“We wanted to offer consumers a made-fresh-daily breakfast option that was as accessible as their must-have morning coffees,” says Carlos Diaz, who runs the catering end of the family business. “Culturally, the name Mamacita can be translated into ‘little mama,’ which in this case is an endearing way to honor my mother and the creator of Mony’s, Mama Mony.”

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of pasta. Michael Glazer of Santa Barbara’s Mission Rose Pasta Company (missionrosepasta.com) has been making fresh, handmade noodles in various restaurants and pop-ups since 1998. Now he and his wife, Val, have made their first packaged goods available with about eight rotating pasta products as well as creams, butters, and sauces.

Join the pasta club, which offers pasta plus a sauce-of-the-week delivery, or order individual products as an add-on to CSA deliveries from Local Harvest Delivery, The Farm Box Collective, and Plow-to-Porch Organics.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Local Ingredients at Your Door

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

For home cooks, there’s nothing better than bringing the farm—or ranch or fishery—right to your door with a CSA delivery. With much of the food earmarked for restaurants going unclaimed, local purveyors have modified their financial models to deliver fresh food to consumers’ homes. With the enormous bounty of the Central Coast available, it may never be a better time to find businesses like these:

Santa Paula–based Prancers Farm (prancersfarm.com) delivers a fresh assortment of staples, including beans, rice, oranges, lemons, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, strawberries, bananas, onions, and lettuce, with eggs, sweets, sauces, and other items available as add-ons.

Larder Meat Co. (lardermeatco.com) of San Luis Obispo supports small family farms on the Central Coast by delivering monthly options like pasture raised meats, heirloom chicken, heritage pork, and grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Owner and chef Jensen Lorenzen includes a pantry item, seasoning and recipes to make preparation a snap.

Get Hooked Seafood (gethookedseafood.com) is a community-supported fishery that delivers a specific type of seasonal seafood from Santa Barbara fishermen each week. Additional fish and pantry items can be added to orders, which also come with the scoop about who caught the fish and how and where it was caught, as well as cooking tips and recipes.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Grazing to Go

805 Living September 2020, Grazing to Go, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Grazing to Go, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

“Cheese was the hero we all needed,” jokes one of Crystal Paterson’s Moorpark neighbors. Paterson’s new grazing box-to-go business, Love and Fromage (loveandfromage.com), is a great example of how culinary creativity has flourished in the days of COVID-19.

“Before COVID, I hosted parties at my house and would always make charcuterie grazing boards—the bigger the better,” says Paterson about her inspiration for the business. “I was always searching out new cheeses and ways to display and pair the cured meats and accoutrements.”

The curated boxes, which feature a new theme every week and are growing in popularity via word-of-mouth have fed participants on boating trips and date nights and at beach picnics, 50th anniversary celebrations, and driveway birthday parties.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.