2019 Best of Santa Barbara

SB Independent Best of

From the Santa Barbara Independent, October 17, 2019.

So, I had the honor of writing up the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa winners this year. It was a huge, fun project. People were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing (203 winners at last count) by clicking here, or on the PDF below.

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part1

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part2

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Best of Independent Cover

Growth Experience

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

Urban agriculture is having a field day at Funk Zone Farm (Instagram: @funkzonefarm) in Santa Barbara, which opens its farm stand on the first and third Saturdays of each month in the Funk Zone.

“The response has been nothing short of heartwarming,” says Carter Hallman, who runs the farm with Sami Weiss. The couple share a background deeply rooted in food and wine and a “passion for quality grown food and how food affects our environment, health, and culture,” says Hallman.

Created on unused land surrounding the Funk Zone’s Green House Studios artists’ workspace, the farm—which produces a wide variety of veggies, fruits, and flowers—comprises 30 raised beds and a small greenhouse and involves 50 tons of soil and 30 tons of compost.

“We are hoping to influence and educate more people on what local really means on the Central Coast, how good farming affects flavors and nutrients in crops, and how good farming greatly affects our environment,” says Hallman.

“The biggest response is how joyful people look when they leave the farm. They share how we’ve inspired them to start their own backyard gardens [and] how they come back week after week to watch the crops grow, creating a connection and a newfound appreciation for what they’re eating.”  —Leslie Dinaberg

805 sept 2019 coverClick here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019

Puppy Love

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

Are robot puppies the next frontier in dementia treatment? Tombot, Inc. (tombot.com), working with experts from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, has created a realistic robot companion that may help improve the quality of life for a senior who can no longer care for a pet.

“Seniors in general and particularly seniors with dementia have been ignored by the tech world,” says Westlake Village–area resident Tom Stevens, founder and CEO of Tombot. Inspired in part by his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and subsequent need to give up her beloved dog, Stevens and his team have concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign and are now ruggedizing the design specs to ship their first robotic dogs in August 2020. The basic model bot costs $450. With the World Health Organization reporting nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year, the future looks bright for helping seniors with a new kind of puppy love. —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019 805 sept 2019 cover

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 5, 2019.

Mind, Body, Soul

Mind, Body and Soul, published in 805 Living, July/August 2019.

Click here to read these stories as they appeared in 805 Living magazine, July/August 2019. 805 Living MBS Jul-Aug 2019

SB County Food Action Plan Meeting

Come to a free community listening and activation session on Wednesday, October 25 from 6-8 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library (40 E. Anapamu St.) where participants will explore the vision, progress and next steps planned for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan. This is a great opportunity to share what your neighborhood, business, or organization is doing, and connect with others engaged in making a secure food system for our county.

Come learn about the goals of the plan and hear about successes from the organizations and individuals actively pursuing these goals. Attendees, including individuals, businesses, schools, and organizations of all types, will also be encouraged to inform the process by sharing about their own regional work to create a more secure, sustainable food system. A networking session will provide time to seek out new partnerships and opportunities to support each other.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 24, 2017.


Cocktail Corner: 7th Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years, but the 7th  Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival (SBFF) is coming up this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be even better than ever. For those of you who’ve never attended, SBFF is an annual gathering that showcases the history, benefits, and preparation of fermented foods while encouraging attendees to learn, engage, share, eat and drink!

Touted as “every bit as fun as it is healthy,” SBFF features four stages offering hands-on fermentation experiences, educational panels and presentations, tastings, live music and more. New this year are DIY Fermentation Stations, “so the whole family can make ferments and enjoy the endless activities on our festival schedule,” say festival Co-Founders Lynn Hartman and Katie Hershfelt. “Get there early and plan to stay all day.”

Exhibitors  include a number of food artisans, brewers and health experts including brewLAB, Biomic Sciences/RESTORE, Wild at Heart Ojai, Fermentality and others. Do-It-Yourself fermentation stations will offer lacto-fermentation recipes including cherry tomato bombs, sweet lipstick peppers, carrot coins and spiced squash pickles. Expert panelists will discuss the latest research around gut health, the microbiome and childhood development, among other critical topics. A complete list of panelists can be found here.

My personal favorite section, the Farm-to-Bar, will feature extended hours to sample locally made adult beverages from more than 40 purveyers, including:

  • 101 Cider House
  • Ascendant Spirits
  • Boochcraft
  • brewLAB
  • Captain Fatty’s Brewery
  • Cutler’s Artisan Spirits
  • Draughtsmen Aleworks
  • Farm to Bar
  • Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company
  • Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop
  • Leashless Brewing Company
  • Libertine Brewing Company
  • Martian Ranch & Vineyard
  • Smoke Mountain Brewery
  • Telegraph Brewing Company
  • Test Pilot
  • The Apiary Meadery and Ciderworks
  • The Good Lion
  • Third Window Brewing Company
  • Valley Brewers
  • Ventura Independent Beer Enthusiasts
  • Wylde Honey Wines
  • and more!

This year’s festival will be held on Sunday, September 10, at Rancho La Patera & Stow House (304 N. Los Carneros Rd.) in Goleta from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are available at www.sbfermentationfestival.com/tickets.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 8, 2017.

A Day Away: The Oaks at Ojai

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Looking for a bit of spring cleaning for the mind, body and soul? The Oaks at Ojai (122 E. Ojai Ave.) is a great place to refresh and recharge your spirit any time of the year. I had a girlfriend getaway for a few days last fall and was pleasantly surprised and charmed at every turn.

Spring is an even better time to visit The Oaks, as April in Ojai brings special celebrations to honor the Pixie Tangerine, a special orange orb grown only in that area. In prior years, The Oaks’s guests have devoured more than 7,000 sweet, seedless Pixies during Pixie month. Expect to find special deals on tangerine tints and scents everywhere this time of year.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks is first and foremost a health spa, offering an all-inclusive healthy fitness and weight loss program with up to 15 optional fitness classes every day; hikes; three surprisingly tasty calorie-conscious meals per day, plus snacks and beverages; an on-site health advisor; evening activities and wellness lectures; and complete use of all resort facilities.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Other than spa treatments (which are included with some of the package deals), you won’t have to open your wallet for anything additional at The Oaks. Everything is included, which makes it a perfect time to try out new types of fitness classes. In just a couple of days, I was able to take classes in yoga, aqua cardio, Qigong, stretching, Zumba, aqua tone,Pilates and world grooves dance. Hiking, cardio/sculpting, balance, ballet/barre, dance Beliu and ball & band toning are also offered, along with other classes. There’s also a pool and a nicely outfitted weight room, for those who can’t get enough fitness!

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

The pampering side of the spa experience is also well done, with a nice steam room and sauna available, as well as any spa treatment your heart desires. I had an excellent Skin Authority Signature Facial, as well as a pedicure that lasted several weeks beyond my spa experience.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

The food was also surprising tasty. Quinoa was once a dirty word in our house, but after trying Chef Christine Denney’s clever incarnations, I’m hooked and have tried several ideas from her Recipes From the Heart cookbook. All in all, the 1,200- 1,500-calorie-per-day menu was balanced and tasty, inspired by an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein featuring wild fish and poultry, all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Sure, my friend and I brought in our own wine to reward ourselves at night after all of those exercise classes, but it wasn’t because we were actually hungry!

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

An active and inspiring presence at the resort is founder Sheila Cluff, an internationally known fitness expert who created cardiovascular dance in the 1950s, later known as “Aerobics,” and pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa in the 1970s. Now an 80-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Cluff still leads some of the brisk morning walks and hikes at The Oaks and absolutely embodies the lifestyle she teaches.

Cluff has said that she created the retreat to fit the needs of women over 40, and we certainly make up the bulk of the clientele these days. That’s not to say that all ages (and men) are not welcome. The Oaks at Ojai is truly a great place for a girlfriend getaway, but the spa’s approach is casual and welcoming to all, as well as affordable and fun. Plus the charming 1920s Spanish Mission Revival-style hotel fits right in with the artsy laid-back vibe of the town and is right on the main drag of Ojai, within walking distance to boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. It’s an excellent place to regenerate or spring clean your mind, body, and spirit.  

Leslie Dinaberg

The Oaks at Ojai, 122 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 800/753-OAKS (6257), oaksspa.com.

Originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Style File: Natura Bissé’s Pure Air = Pure Bliss

Natura Bisse Bubble Pure Air at Bacara Resort & Spa, photo by Savannah Johns-Pedrocchi.

Natura Bisse Bubble Pure Air at Bacara Resort & Spa, photo by Savannah Johns-Pedrocchi.

Bacara Resort & Spa (8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta) recently added Spanish cosmetics brand Natura Bissé to its world-class 42,000-square-foot Spa and Wellness Center, and as a special treat, had a pop-up appearance of Natura Bissé’s infamous Bubble Pure Air last week.

I was one of the lucky ones who got to be the “girl in the plastic bubble,” and my facial was amazing! The bubble creates an exclusive place to perform treatments where according to a company spokeswoman, “the air guests breathe is 99,995 percent pure. The exclusive experience allows spa goers to immerse themselves in a serene environment filled with soft aromatic notes that take guests on an exquisite journey to well-being. It is a singular experience, providing exceptional results that rejuvenate and purify.”

I have to agree: it felt great and my skin has never looked better!

Established in Barcelona, Natura Bissé has become a worldwide success in the cosmetics industry as one of the fastest growing beauty companies with a strong commitment to research and innovation. The Bacara has launched a new treatment line and service menu with Natura Bissé, with special pop-up appearances of the Bubble Pure Air, so stay tuned for your chance to be the next girl (or guy) in the bubble.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 12, 2016.


Style File: Five New Skin Care Habits for Fall

Courtesy Sebamed

Courtesy Sebamed

Changing seasons call for a few change-ups in our beauty routine. Dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum recommends incorporating these five habits into your daily ritual for a smooth, soft transition into fall.

1. Switch Cleansers.

Start with the basics – If you’ve been using a shine control cleanser (or skating by with a bar of soap), make the switch to a more hydrating, soap-free cleanser. Coconut oil-based cleansers like Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam are one of the most effective moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients, and act as antibacterial active ingredient that removes bacteria to prevent the formation of new pimples. (SebamedUSA.com)

Editor’s Note: Another one to try is “Kate Middleton’s favorite cleanser,” Karin Herzog Professional Cleansing, a gentle cleansing gel and makeup remover in one.

2. Don’t Stop Using Sunscreen.

Don’t be fooled by lower temperatures. Cover exposed skin with sunscreen, just as you would in the summer. UV rays are just as strong when hitting the slopes or walking in the rain as they are on the beach. Applying sunscreen daily is the easiest way to prevent sun damage, protect your skin, and not to mention – look younger. Try using products that offer Broad-Spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, and have a SPF of 30 or greater.

Editor’s Note: Check out this post on Double Duty Sunscreen Solutions.

3. Move to a Heavier Night Cream.

Recover and restore your skin after a long summer with a heavier night cream like Sebamed Anti-Dry Night Intensive Cream which works to protect, smooth, calm and regenerate the skin without clogging pores. The intensive and rich properties of this Night Cream stimulate the skin’s own renewal process overnight for fresher skin by morning. The pH value of 5.5 promotes the skin’s own acid protective barrier against dehydration and irritants. (SebamedUSA.com)

Editor’s Note: Here’s a Total Beauty survey of the 16 Best Night Creams.

4. Exfoliate Flaky Skin.

In the summer, we don’t need to exfoliate often. As temperatures cool, practice exfoliating once a week to keep dry flaky skin from shedding around the nose and chin. Select a soft facial scrub (those made with rice bran are less rough) that also uses naturally hydrating ingredients like avocado, coconut or almond oils to avoid excessive dryness and irritation. Immediately following, moisturize with balancing night cream.

Editor’s Note: Exfoliation is key for so many skin issues. We recently tried, and really liked, the Suki Resurfacing Enzyme Peel.  This resurfacing masque is effective from the inside out (it treats the source, not just the symptoms) and the outside in (it treats the surface signs like redness, acne, dryness, etc.). (sukiskincare.com)

Courtesy Uni K Wax Center

Courtesy Uni K Wax Center

5. Maximize Moisture in the Shower.

Our skin loses water to radiator heat and dry air all day long. Replenish and balance moisture content by using a hydrating body wash and lotion every time you shower, like Sebamed Anti-Dry Derma-Soft Wash Emulsion and Hydrating Body Lotion. To prevent dry, crackly, irritated skin, pat (don’t rub) skin dry after a hot shower and apply a moisturizer within 3 minutes to seal in hydration. (SebamedUSA.com)

Editor’s Note: We also like Uni K’s Ultimate Balm made with Green Tea and Cucumber to restore hydration to thirsty skin. It’s infused with cucumbers, a natural hydrator and green tea, chock full of antioxidants to ward off environmental toxins, as well as rice extracts to help retain the skin retain moisture.  (UniKWax.com)

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 16, 2014.