Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Santa Barbara Landmarks

A small sampling of some of Santa Barbara's most gorgeous landmarks

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Often referred to as the most beautiful government building in America; this Spanish-Moorish style building was designed by William Mooser III and completed in 1929 after the 1925 earthquake ruined much of the city including the original Greek-Revival courthouse.

Civic events, performances and weddings are held often in the gorgeous Sunken Gardens surrounding the Courthouse where the 1872 original Courthouse once stood. Use of the Sunken Gardens for wedding ceremonies is on a first come, first served basis. Contact the Courthouse Docents at 805 962-6464. Free docent tours are conducted daily at 2pm, except Sundays. (information taken from the SB County Courthouse Legacy Foundation website: Marriage licenses are available in this magnificent building at the County Clerk Recorder's office in the same building:

Queen of the Missions

Old Mission Santa Barbara founded on the Feast of St. Barbara, December 4th, 1786. Although she was the 10th of the Missions founded by Father Junipero Serra, she is considered the Queen of the Missions. Experience the Queen, her beautiful grounds, Museum, Church, Cemetary and vistas: tours offered daily except Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, at very nominal prices ($5/adults, $4/seniors, $1/youth, under 6yrs free). information:

Bathhouse at Lotusland

"Lotusland is a unique 37-acre estate and botanic garden situated in the foothills of Montecito to the east of the city of Santa Barbara. The gardens now covering the estate were created by Madame Ganna Walska, who owned the property from 1941 until her death in 1984. Before her death, Madame Walska established the nonprofit Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation, which now preserves this unrivaled botanical treasure." (information from the Lotusland Website)
For more information on the gardens and tours of the gardens:

View of SB Downtown Mission Tile District
"The most beautiful downtown in America"

For information on Shopping, Arts, Culture & Sightseeing; Dining & Restaurants; Entertainments & Nightlife, Accomodations & Reservations visit the Santa Barbara Downtown Organizations' website: The webiste also has a calendar of events, information on transportation, parking, maps and the popular 1st Thursday festivals.

Santa Barbara Coastline view from Shoreline Park

Sparkling Night Lights
of the

Santa Barbara Harbor

for information on Harbor activities:

Stay tuned for more of Santa Barbara's amazing landmarks and geographical beauty....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Santa Barbara The Party Place

A casual back yard engagement party for 80 close friends!

The Rockin Band, PIE

The most beautiful fall day

a photo of Couple Number One in each floral arrangement

We are still recovering from hosting an exuberant and sizable engagement party for our dear friends' son and his soon to be lovely bride. This wonderful couple is amazing! Both are power professionals yet the most loving and endearing people. Accomplished adults with outstanding educations and professions, first and only engagement and forthcoming marriage! They met through serendipitous circumstances and they are very much each other's soul mates! In this fast world of in-and-out relationships it is just wonderful to meet a couple like this. My husband and I just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary and the groom to be's parent their fortieth! Whomever said that true love and romance are dead hasn't met us!

Towers of yummy mini cupcakes

Santa Barbara is a wonderful venue for weddings, large and small, extravagant or modest; all offering the romance of gorgeous scenery, wonderful predictable climate and locations from no cost to over the top!

Our back yard was the scene of this wonderful casual event! We planned to seat 80 people with complete sit-down service; although the dinner was buffet style. The Margarita Fountain served iced margaritas continuously, wine and beer bar; and a five-piece band offered music for lots of dancing late into a magical evening. The weather was so pleasant that the out-door fireplace was not put into service, nor were the portable heaters used.

Weddings/parties can be held at any one of our many parks, public gardens, the beaches, the sunken gardens at the Court House, the Rose Garden at the Mission and many many more locations for the fee of a Park permit! The beautiful Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens does require an entrance fee. Many a wedding, birthday parties and special events are held there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Artwalk at the Museum of Natural History September 26 & 27

Ahhh, fall is in the air...and although our days are still warm...the light has changed and it's Artwalk time at the SB Museum of Natural History! "From Realism to Abstraction, The California Landscape: featuring artists Patricia Doyle, Marilee Krause, Rick Garcia, Tom DeWalt, Pricilla Fossek, Camille Dellar and over 100 other artists. Enjoy live music, artist exhibits and great food nestled among the oak-shaded banks of Mission Creek." (quoted from Museum notice in the SB Newspress)

September 26-27th, 10am-5pm; Admission $10 general, $9 members. Children under 12 Free.

The Museum of Natural History is an immense local treasure! Annual Membership is nominal and supports our treasure. Santa Barbara Community College offers classes at the Planetarium, and the Museum library is an incredible research resource for for local students of all ages. In addition to the many and diverse permanent exhibits, the Museum offers numerous traveling exhibits such as: Zoo to You, Butterflies Alive, Dinosaurs, and many more.

Local community events are sponsored at the Museum on a regular basis. At Village Properties, the annual Open House for local teachers is conducted at the Museum Auditorium. This event kicks off our Teacher's Fund at the start of each School Year. More about this fabulous fundraiser in a future post.

For a schedule of events visit: Or visit the gorgeous historic site of the Museum anytime; located in Mission Canyon at 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara. Tel. 805 682-4711.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Butterflies Alive!

Butterflies Alive!

"Imagine walking through a lush garden filled with color and native greenery as a live butterfly flutters right by your nose or maybe even lands on your head! ..The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's Butterfly Pavilion allows for an intimate look at over 1,000 of these magnificent creatures as they bask in the sun or sip nectar from flowers". (quoted from the Museum's website)

Only one week left to visit this fabulous exhibit. The Butterflies will be back to the Eucaluptus Grove at Ellwood in the Spring, in the meantime do take advantage of this wonderful experience. Admission to the Museum of Natural History is nominal and very worth it! The site is historic, and the exhibits at the Museum are absolutely fabulous for people of all ages.

I recall taking my elderly and fragile mother to the exhibit a few years ago. She literally came 'alive' watching the butterflies dance in the exhibit solarium. When one landed on her jacket she laughed with delight. I had not seen her so animated in a long time.

Mom always loved to garden and grow flowers...she was raised on a farm and was a natural. Her children and grandchildren all inherited her green thumb gene. I began growing milk-weed in my own garden just to invite the monarch caterpillars to visit. Milk-weed is truly a weed. It grows without help and re-seeds regularly and easily...everywhere...and monarch caterpillars love it. The wonderful thing about the caterpillars is....they turn into Monarchs! My garden is therefore always filled with Monarch Butterflies dancing in my garden.

This Exhibit is also a delight for small children. My little great nephews are crazy about Butterflies Alive! They know everything about the process from caterpillar through chrysalis to butterfly..and they learned it all at the Museum! When they visit my garden they are always on the hunt for the little crysalids hiding in the garden.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara, CA; 805 682-4711; for more information:

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Impressions count for houses too!

First impressions are sooooo very important! And you only get to make it once, for your potential buyer or your guests.

If you want to get some ideas on how to make the entrance to your home look super inviting on a budget, just go to to the following blog My friend Jermaine the creator of this blog is a stylist for high end home photo shoots and is amazingly creative. She translates high end luxury to those of us with modest means to help make our homes charming, inviting and luxurious without the big ticket items. In fact, if you are following today's 'green' philosophies of re-using and re-purposing and salvaging, you will really like the French Kiss approach to a wonderful lifestyle in all areas.

Santa Barbara's lifestyle and architecture is very eclectic..and therefore so very relaxed and enjoyable; just like the French-Kissed blog. It's better than reading a decor magazine, is available almost every day and with no subscription fees! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baubles, Bangles, Beads & SB Adult Education

Carla's Design & Work Shop

Vintage aqua & rhinestone broach

with pearl & apatite rondelles

Our beautiful community has so much to offer in activities that a person has to live several life-times to do just the most intriguing things. Santa Barbara Community College (aka Santa Barbara City College) has the most fabulous Adult Education programs which are offered almost every night of the week at different campuses around our communities, from Carpinteria to Goleta. The cost to attend these classes is nominal. It is no surprise that these programs are incredibly popular.

About 7-8 years ago I began taking classes in crafting jewelry. It was pure serendipity!

My weekly route home from the Saturday Farmer's Market often took me by a little shop on the corner of De la Guerra and Santa Barbara Street, called "Beads." One day I decided to stop and take a peek. That was it! I was was like walking in a store filled with candy...eye candy! There was a sign offering classes in beading instruction..and I signed right up!

To say that I have become addicted is an understatement!

Backing my story up a bit; my mother had been making jewelry for over 25 years and progressed to making the real thing; silver & gold jewelry! My sister and I have some gorgeous rings, pendants, bracelets, and more, oh my. Mom even made the wedding rings for my niece(her grand-daughter) and her husband. She always said that she would only make her jewelry for love and would never sell it. Needless to say, we all encouraged her 'hobby'! She was good!

As Mom got on in years her hands became unsteady so she couldn't use the tools any longer. It was quite sad because she had developed such camaraderie with her fellow students at the Adult Education Jewelry classes, workshops & labs. One day she gave me a box of her 'stuff' and told me I needed to have a hobby.

The box sat in my garage until the serendipitous stop at the Bead Store on SB Street!
Barbara and Andy Nelson own and run the store. They are both accomplished artist in all the facets of jewelry, including glass blowing. Their two gorgeous, lovely and talented daughters are also very creative. The youngest daughter Raquel make the most intricate and whimsical glass beads, from mermaids to abstract. Stopping at the store is always an adventure in discovering new ideas, new materials and meeting the most fun people!

The classes of 5-8 people were held after store hours. I was probably the clumsiest student poor Barbara ever had. However, I am tenacious and Barbara is patient, and once I got it! I got it! Now I may be one of her most successful students.

They are so busy with their store, that they no longer teach. However, Adult Education is currently offering classes in beading and other facets of jewelry making, metal work, soldering, setting stones, lost wax method, etc. I have taken several of the classes and have discovered that they are quite challenging! I have also gained a lot of respect for the craft people who make jewelry by hand for their livelyhood such as the Hill Tribe people from Thailand. It is truly a craft which requires patience, precision, delicate work and creativity! The teachers of these classes are terrific artisans themselves and outstanding teachers.

I have not graduated to making my own silver & gold findings, clasps, and jewelry and for now I am concentrating on creating fashion jewelry with pearls, and semi-precious gems. It truly is instant gratification, while the designing of a piece may take several days to get it right, at least you don't melt the silver into a useless blob. It does take a great deal of consistent and concentrated time to develop the learning curve in order to create the 'real' stuff. My real estate business requires most of my time. However, in the evenings I can create all the necklaces, earrings and bracelets to my heart's content....and I do!

The other fun part of this hobbie is that I no longer have to shop for gifts...all my friends and relatives are decked out in Carla's Baubles. And the beading buddies I've made! It is such fun to run into each other at Gem Shows or Jewelry sales. My grandmother was the village clock fixer and I have become the jewelry fixer for my friends and family. I do sell my jewelry at benefits and Holiday a most reasonable price. I just need to get my $$$ back so I can keep my addiction going. My accountant has told me that this is NO business as far as the IRS is concerned! I would have to earn money at it!

The first time I went to a GEM Faire I was overwhelmed! Through the years Mom would come to the Gem Faire with me. When she couldn't go any more, I would stop at her apartment to show her my treasures. It was my turn to make jewelry for her. She was not an easy customer because she knew exactly what she wanted. It truly was a fun interest to share with her.

four times a year the Gem Faire comes to

Santa Barbara's Earl Warren Show Grounds.

Hundreds of vendors from all over the country come to sell their gold & silver findings, fine jewelry, beads, gems, crystals, rocks and minerals. No cameras are allowed so I can't post any photos of the overwhelming array of treasures from all over the world.

Entrance discount coupons are always in the SB Newspress a few days before the show. Entrance fee is $5. with a coupon. The show starts Fridays at noon and ends Sundays at 5. One entry fee gets you a pass for the entire weekend. If you don't want to pay the $3 parking fee, park on the side streets and walk in. It is truly an amazing event. The first time I went I just looked. It was so overwhelming that I couldn't make a decision. Now I know the vendors and whom I like to buy from. I often take my friends along so they can pick out what they want and I help them fashion it into a wearable piece of art!

Each show offers classes in the different facets of making jewelry, such as a class I took in crocheting with wire and beads. I decided that it wasn't my thing, but it was a fun class.
My latest pasion is working with vintage broaches. I fashion them into centerpieces for necklaces. This has opened a whole new learning experience for me...finding out about vintage jewelry. The best part is going to flea markets, thrift shops and antique/vintage shops to find them.

The next Gem Fair in Santa Barbara will be in December. Details at You'll find me there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sandcastle Festival Workshop & Event

See my August post: Lazy Hazy Days of Santa Barbara Summer for details.

Reminder: Santa Barbara Sandcastle Festival free workshop on building sandcastles Saturday, September 12th from 11am-6pm, to be held at East Beach by the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion.

Santa Barbara Sandcastle Festival September 19, 11-6 pm. Public is welcome for free. Entries are nominal.

Bring the family, picnic and stay the day! Visitors note that the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion is located across from the Mar Monte Hotel. The Pavilion has an excellent take out cafe (yummy breakfast, etc) and public bathrooms. City parking lot approximately $4/hour; $12/day; fee parking also available across the street at the Fess Parker Hotel; street parking free.
more information: or call805 966-3979.

Cute downtown hotel: Holiday Express;

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Other Wine Country

Summer Hill Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

The Other Wine Country, like Santa
Barbara, but different!

View of beautiful Lake Okanagan

The Belles of St Mary's enjoying High Tea at the Santa Barbara Biltmore 2008

Been traveling for a while and wasn't able to post...went to Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada for my annual reunion with the Belles of St. Mary's. There are about 400 Belles, but 6 meet annually. Of course I'm talking about my high school girlfriends. Didn't see each other for a loooooong time, and then in 2003 our high school, St. Mary's Girls' High, decided to do a once in a lifetime reunion...and we all gathered in Calgary, Alberta. Even the teachers and nuns were there! Except for one favorite Nun who gave up the Nunnery, moved to Paris, married and sold real estate for years before retiring! Amazing how our little 'group' was right back together again...from many points, and we've been meeting once a year (and more) ever since!

Only one of the Belles still lives in Calgary, Ann Marie,...but she ownes a gorgeous summer home in Kelowna, BC. Since we've done two 'Sideways Tours' in Santa Barbara Wine Country, it was time to see what Kelowna's wine country offered. How fitting that in Sunday's Santa Barbara Newspress, there was an article by my friend, Michael Cervin, famous local food and wine judge featuring Kelowna's wineries headed: "Just Like Santa Barbara, only different." If you'd like to read the entire article, see

Michael Cervin was absolutely right: "Santa Barbara is known worldwide for its stunning natural beauty, bevy of outdoor activities, wineries and restaurants, and art communities. Tourists flock here to experience the good life. The city of Kelowna in the central portion of the Okanagan Valley in Canada could easily be designated our sister city. The similarities are incredible. Where Santa Barbara has the ocean, Kelowna has Okanagan Lake, as well as stunning mountain terrain, heaps of outdoor activities, wineries and restaurants, as well as arts, even a low-key vibe to rival our own."

Our hostess, Ann Marie (aka AM), comes from a large family who are spread over Canada, and gather at her Kelowna home in the summer for family get-togethers. She had invited us to her "little cabin at the lake", (like us girls used to rent in the Summer at Gull Lake); but this was no cabin! A gorgeous home overseeing the lake and the entire valley. Her eldest son, Kevin came along to "veg out", and instead he played Butler to us all week. Breakfast & Dinner, and of course appetizers and cocktails when we arrived home from our daily adventures. What a life!

Two of our Belles were not able to come; Sally in London needed to attend a 90th birthday party and MJ in Vancouver Island, was attending to her elderly father in the Hospital during his last few weeks of life. Joan stopped by for a day and evening with her Fiance Michael, as they were on their way to a family wedding.

It didn't stop the three of us, AM, Marg and I from having tooooo much fun! AM showed us all the sights...beautiful scenery, wine tasting at 3 wineries and raspberry picking at a farm in Oliver, visiting old and new friends along the way, including a few darling consignment &vintage shops where we all found some treasures.

Diamond Diva, AM, showing off her Vintage Bling purchases!

One of her friends actually sells vintage and antiques from her Lake-side home at Wood Lake (shown below), as well as at shows from Calgary and Vancouver. She buys at the Orange Bowl Flea Market. I scored some wonderful vintage broaches which I'll incorporate in some of the jewelry I create. Her husband had a real estate brokerage in Vancouver and is now retired and travels with his wife to do shows.

What a beautiful area....right next door! I'm signing up for a month stay!

Ahhhh...the good life!