The Books of 2020

Writers & Lovers by Lily King, was one of my favorite books I read in 2020.

So many books, so little time—part 14.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the 14th year we’ve done this.

2020 was such a weird year for everything, including reading. I’m usually a very avid reader, but once the pandemic hit and everything shut down I really couldn’t concentrate on books for the first few months. I felt like I was reading the same line over and over again. It made me so sad that on top of everything else, losing one of my favorite leisure activities  was heartbreaking—especially when it was one of the few things we were still able to do.  I’m not really sure when I started being able to read again, but when it kicked back in I had more time to read than probably ever before. Thank goodness. Traveling with my favorite authors was the only way I could escape this year.

My favorite books of 2020 were Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, Writers & Lovers by Lily King, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, All Adults Here by Emma Straub, Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley. I’d love to hear what else people loved.

Here’s the 2020 list.

The Female Persuasion Meg Wolitzer
Country Danielle Steel
Trust Exercise Susan Choi
The Liar Nora Roberts
Every Day David Levithan
Beyond Ever After Catherine A. Weissenberg & Jocelyn Montanaro
Ask Again, Yes Mary Beth Keane
Manhattan Beach Jennifer Egan
My Reading Life Pat Conroy
The Whisper Network Chandler Baker
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be
Your Own Person
Shonda Rimes
Saint Anything Sarah Dessen
My Ex-Life Stephen McCauley
Skeletons at the Feast Chris Bohjalian
Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid
The Proposal Jasmine Guillory
Delicate Edible Birds Lauren Groff
First Star I See Tonight Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Homegoing Yaa Gyasi
Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit Jessica Tom
Come Sundown Nora Roberts
Lost and Wanted Nell Freudenberger
Home Front Kristin Hannah
Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
How Hard Can it Be Alison Pearson
Sophia of Silcon Valley Anna Yen
Three Women Lisa Taddeo
The Broom of the System David Foster Wallace
The Last Black Unicorn Tiffany Haddish
The Dinner List Rebecca Searle
The Perfectionists Sara Shepherd
Stranger in Paradise Eileen Goudge
Writers & Lovers Lily King
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
Up and In Deborah Disney
Yes, And (The One) Kristi Coulter
Second Glance Jodi Picoult
All Adults Here Emma Straub
Secrets of Eden Chris Bojhalian
Sisters First Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush
Olive, Again Elizabeth Strout
Small Great Things Jodi Picoult
The Guest List Lucy Foley
Oona Out of Order Margarita Montimore
Under Currents Nora Roberts
The Bride Test Helen Hoang
Big Summer Jennifer Weiner
Celestial Bodies Jokha Alharthi
Stars of Fortune Nora Roberts
The Assistants Camille Perri
Bay of Sighs Nora Roberts
Island of Glass Nora Roberts
Good & Mad Rebecca Traister
Saving Grace Jane Green
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and our Lives Revealed Lori Gottlieb
This is Happiness Niall Williams
House Rules Jodi Picoult
Fame Adjacent Sarah Skilton
The Book With No Pictures BJ Novak
Wildflower Drew Barrymore
Vinegar Girl Anne Tyler
The Floating Feldmans Elyssa Friedland
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing Allison Winn Scotch
I Almost Forgot About You Terry McMillan
Modern Romance Aziz Ansari
If You Were Here Jen Lancaster
Followers Megan Angelo
The Vanishing Half Britt Bennett
Nothing Like I Imagined Mindy Kaling
The Plus One Sarah Archer
The Complete Persepolis Marjane Satrapi
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett Annie Lyons
The Girl He Used to Know Tracey Garvis Graves
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Abbi Waxman
An Anonymous Girl Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
The Identicals Elin Hilderbrand
American Dirt Jeanine Cummins
How to Walk Away Katherine Center
The Undoing Project Michael Lewis
The Honey Don’t List Christina Lauren
Island Visions Pedal Born Pictures
The Wedding Party Jasmine Guillory
The Editor Steven Rowley
Bridal Boot Camp Meg Cabot
Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles Anne Tyler

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.

Climb on a Clydesdale

Climb on a Clydesdale, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Climb on a Clydesdale, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding one of the majestic and mighty horses made famous in the Budweiser commercials, now’s your chance. Tour the family-owned Covell Ranch
(covellsclydesdaleranch.com) in the charming coastal community of Cambria on the back
of one of the gentle Scottish draught horses known as Clydesdales.

“We’ve been breeding Clydesdales for over 40 years,” says Tara Covell. Her father, horse
breeder Ralph Covell, owns the 2,000 acre ranch and offers tours and trail rides through
the property, where stands of Monterey Pines grow along rolling hills with ocean views.

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.

Take Part in Art

Take Part in Art, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Take Part in Art, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

At a time when people are thirsting for new activities they can do safely, the new Museum of Sensory & Movement Experiences (MSME, pronounced miss me; seehearmove.com) in Santa Barbara is a welcome addition to the cultural scene.

The exhibits are all interactive and primarily hands-free, “as a way for people to still feel connected even during this time of social distancing,” explains executive director Marco Pinter.

Pinter hopes in particular to attract visually savvy teens and young adults with extended evening hours, which he suggests are “great for date nights,” and interactive experiences that are sure to be great fodder for Instagram. Each visitor is an energy source that fuels
the results, so as they engage with the artworks, what they see responds in new and unexpected ways.

Pinter is himself an established media artist as well as a prolific inventor with more than 70 patents in the categories of live video technology, robotics, interactivity, and telepresence. Six of his installations are on view at MSME. Among other artists featured are Ethan Turpin, Alan Macy, Elisa Ortega Montilla, and Douglas Lochner.

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.

Streaming Culture

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention these days, and performing arts organizations are pivoting in creative ways to bring entertainment directly to home audiences.

“Music is the common denominator that brings humans together, no matter the time or the place in history,” says New West Symphony (newwestsymphony.org/2020-
21-virtual-season) CEO Natalia Staneva.

With that in mind, Staneva and the symphony’s artistic and music director, Michael Christie, have developed Global Sounds, eight mini music concerts and festivals inspired by cultures from around the world and presented virtually through June 2021.

“We discovered that our community contains a variety of cultures with vibrant musical traditions that have inspired and influenced classical music composers for generations,” says Christie. “And thus was born the concept of turning each concert experience into a mini cultural festival.”

Along with the orchestra performing symphonic works, each concert week will feature in-depth interviews with cultural experts and solo and ensemble performances of orchestra members and guest artists. Visit the website for tickets and more details.

UCSB Arts & Lectures (artsandlectures.ucsb.edu) brings cultural events home with House Calls, an interactive, online series of concerts, conversations, and question-and-answer sessions with musicians like Danish String Quartet and Rhiannon Giddens and authors such as Anne Lamott and Cheryl Strayed.

“House Calls is one way that Arts & Lectures is serving our community during a time when people are craving connection,” says Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures Miller McCune executive director, “to each other as well as to the major issues our nation and our world is facing right now.” For more information about individual events or to purchase tickets, visit the website or call 805-893-3535.

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

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

How FLIR Steals Moments in Spotlight

FLIR's technology used in the 2018 film Rampage, courtesy photo.

FLIR’s technology used in the 2018 film Rampage, courtesy photo.

With appearances in Sicario, Ozark, Silicon Valley, The Haunting of Hill House, Transformers: The Last Knight, Speechless, and Extinct or Alive, among others, FLIR is more than familiar with the on-screen close-up.

The thermal imaging tech company, which employs approximately 450 of its 3,000 employees in Goleta, uses product placement as an important part of its marketing strategy. “We really approach placement in a collaborative way,” said Vatche Arabian, director of content marketing. “While some companies may actually go out and buy a placement on a show, we don’t typically do that. Often, it’s cases where folks want to achieve something unique, and we partner with them to help them do that.”

Of course, sometimes opportunity just knocks. “The crazy, last minute ones are the ones that we seem to get the biggest lift out of,” said Arabian, referring to the 2017 VMA performance of 30 Seconds to Mars, in which actor/musician Jared Leto wanted to do the thing with thermal cameras. “We had maybe a week-and-a-half notice for that one. Trying to realize what they were trying to do and find the best way to do that was terrifying, but then the end result was amazing.”

FLIR cameras were also used on the two Sicario movies. “In the tunnel, when it’s in thermal vision, we worked with Roger Deakins to have him use the FLIR science camera, and he couldn’t have told that story without it,” said Stacy Jones, CEO and founder of Hollywood

Branded, the marketing agency that works with FLIR. “They were in a pitch-black tunnel, and he was trying to actually show what it is like for the military and for those people who were running from across the border.”

In the movie Rampage, FLIR provided a pilot and its plane, fully kitted out with all the FLIR technology, usually reserved for large-scale demonstrations of their product line to military or government buyers.

“There was a fictional big quarry scene,” said Jones. “It existed, but they made it look way bigger than it was through movie magic. And they had the plane sweeping over it, filming in thermal and feeding a livestream down to the director at the same time, so they could get the vision and the day scenes and the night scenes and the thermal all captured while the big ravaging beast that they put in later on was able to storm in with special effects.”

Product placement works best on-screen when it’s helping to tell the story, said Jones, who founded her agency in 2007, with BlackBerry as her first client. “Technology is something that is a great storyteller when it’s contributing to who the character is, to driving a story element, and contributing to making that scene more real,” she explained.

flir.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Wine Shopping 2.0

805 Living September 2020, Wine Shopping 2.0, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Wine Shopping 2.0, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

When it comes to selecting wines, the future is now. San Luis Obispo–based Tastry (tastry.com) uses patent-pending artificial intelligence to pair wine drinkers’ taste preferences with the bottles they’re most likely to enjoy. “It’s much less about the flavor and much more about the flavor matrix,” explains founder Katerina Axelsson, who began developing the technology while she was a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Using in-store kiosks at Gelson’s and California Fresh markets or the handy BottleBird app, shoppers take a 10-question quiz that uses a blend of machine learning, sensory science, and chemistry to match their wine palate to the bottles available for purchase. Once they select their wine, the app provides recommended food pairings.

In addition to helping consumers make smart choices, retailers use the information to optimize their product mix, and Tastry also provides science-based analysis to winemakers for product development.

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.

 

A Taste of Paso

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

A new 16,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex, Paso Market Walk (pasomarketwalk.com), continues the foodiecentric development of downtown Paso Robles. “Paso Robles was ready for a public market housing various food purveyors to provide another destination for visitors,” says developer and proprietor Debby Mann.

Some of the merchants included are Gather Urban Agriculture nursery, Montello Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, Hog Canyon Brewing Company, Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery, and a host of restaurants. At Finca, the owners of Napa’s La Taquiza serve their traditional Mexican fare, while Momotaro Ramen showcases the popular Japanese noodles. Third Degree Grill dishes up American comfort food with flair. Paso Robles Wine Merchant, a wine shop, bar, and kitchen, turns out menu specials like grilled cheese, fresh oysters, and locally made organic pasta dishes. And coming in late fall, In Bloom will offer fresh California cuisine from a pedigreed restaurant team with operations in Chicago and Southern California.

Book a stay at one of six rooms and suites on-site at The Lofts to immerse yourself in this epicurean marketplace.

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.