Your personal tour of anything and everything with Style in Santa Barbara.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's Summer All Year Through

The mustard plants lined the hillside with gold. Purchased by Henry Lafayette Williams in 1885, Williams created the Ortega Ranch, planning to raise pigs and farm on the 1100 acres that stretched from near today's Sheffield Drive in Montecito east to Toro Canyon.  When Williams ran into financial difficulties, he decided to take advantage of the train service that would run through the area, crossing the ranch near the beach.  In 1887 the first train rumbled through town, and the town was named Summerland. Williams and his wife Katie founded it as a "Spiritualist" Colony in 1889 , and land parcels were sold for $25 (!)

The first offshore oil barraks in the Western Hemisphere filled the coastline in 1894. Quite a change in 5 years, from seances attempting to communicate with the departed, to a barrage of oil workers into this sleepy town.  By the 20s, the easy oil had dried up and the unsightly oil piers were history.

photo: googleimages
photo: googleimages

Durring the depression jobs had dried up with the oil, and there was lack of a dependable water supply which kept the town from expanding. After World War II some new homes and apartments did appear, but residents called the town a "small wonder" since housing was inexpensive and most had wonderful ocean views.
By 1951, highway 101 was expanded into a freeway. The original strip of businesses on a street called Wallace Ave. was destroyed, and by the 60's the freeway was elevated, creating an underpass, reconnecting the town to the ocean below it's cliffs.

The 1960's and 70's saw an influx of free spirits, hippies and artists drawn to the inexpensive living available in Summerland. Also in the mix were a number of surfers, who migrated north from Southern California beaches, establishing shops and shaping surfboards.
The Big Yellow House circa 1967 ~ Click on Photo for Larger Images
The 80's saw a big change, as more water became available and a building boom followed. The still relatively inexpensive land values attracted developers and large new houses rose up on the hillsides, taking advantage of the views. The trend has continued and today Summerland is a more upscale place, with antique stores, art galleries and restaurants lining the main street of Lillie Ave.

Perhaps the most well known landmark in Summerland is The Big Yellow House.   It was originally built as the home of H.L. Williams, the founder of Summerland, and hosted many Saences during Summerland's spiritualist era.  It was a resturant for as many years back as I can remember, and there have been numerous accounts of haunting activity.  After sitting vacant for several years, the property is undergoing major renovation, and as far as I understand, will be leased as office space.  Not quite as romantic as a big old resturant, but definitely better for the town than vacant and vandalized.
The fact that Summerland has this interesting history contributes to it's charm today.  I love the historic ramshackle feel of the town.  Chic, restored victorians reside next to funky shacks and vacant lots with old funky boats among the weeds.  It reminds me of San Francisco in it's own small town way.  All these structures pearched on a hill side above the sea, staggered about on these tiny, steep streets winding through it all.


Summerland today is home to so many amazing shops and resturants.  While I have been living nearby for sometime, it was only recently that I began to realize all of the amazing one of a kind treasures that exist in Summerland.  Cafe Luna is my favorite stop for espresso, I love their grilled cheese sandwiches and they have an amazing out door pizza oven. The iced chai with almond milk is to die for!!  And for those who haven't had the pleasure of meeting "Tinker", he is one of the nicest, friendliest people you will ever have the chance to know. The crowd for breakfast on the weekends at the Summerland Beach CafĂ© speaks for itself and The Nugget's burgers are legendary! 

Botanic and Amelia Jane are the beautiful home and children's boutiques both owned by Erin Taylor. The perfect stop for gifts, you will probably leave with a thing or two for yourself as well.

Did you know in Summerland, everyone stops for their mail daily at the local post office. This is where everyone runs into each other to catch up and chat. How small town is that?

This is Summerland Presbyterian Church. A tiny, quaint church once described by the pastor as "little house on the prairie".

Summerland School. A public elementary school with less that 60 students in attendance.
Summerland beach at the base of Lookout Park. A perfect place for a beach walk with your family, and it's dog friendly.
The path down to the beach from Lookout Park.

There is so much more in Summerland that I didn't even mention. Waxing Poetic the "charming" jewelry shop. I want one (or more) of their pieces So badly! And what can be said about their marble floors? Just go check them out. Cantwell's Summerland Market is where everyone in Summerland goes to pick up last minute snacks, sandwiches and other delicious goodies. I have stopped in for a bottle of wine on several afternoons! And I can't leave out the Bikini Factory-a Summerland Staple for as long as I can remember!

So the next time you are stuck in traffic heading north or south do what all the celebrities are doing. Stop in Summerland for lunch, shopping and a sunset walk on the beach. I guarantee once you spend the afternoon in Summerland, it will become a place you want to visit again and again!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

My SB Style Summer Favorites!

I don't know about anyone else out there, but I begin thinking (and planning) for summer, while winter is still here!  It is officially springtime here in Santa Barbara, and that means longer days, beautiful weather (always), with your occasional foggy morning!  I have come across a handful of items that I won't be without this summer, and once you know about them, you might not be able to live without them either!  So here it is: a list of my summer must-haves!!

1. SDY Jewellery's Acorn Bracelet

SDY Jewellery is designed and created locally by an amazing and talented artist, Sara Dapra-Young.  Sara has had a successful career designing jewellery for Vivienne Westwood in London, and other prominent British labels, and has recently come out with her own line of jewels for us to indulge in!!/sdyjewellery?fref=ts

Once I got this bracelet, I have honestly worn it constantly!  It is unique, easy and goes with everything.  I love to wear it stacked with other bracelets.  Maybe if I am lucky I can get one of her Glitter Bark Bracelets next.

Sara makes all of her pieces by hand using ancient knotting techniques and incorporates 24K gold and silver dipped acorns, pine cones and feathers.  Don't miss out on these amazing pieces.  To get one of SDY's pieces for your own, visit K Frank on state Street, or Hawthorn at Padaro Beach (at Santa Claus Lane next to the Garden Market), check out Shop September on the web, or call

2. The Naked Belt

This is one of those things that I think every woman needs!  This belt holds your pants in place, with out the ugly, lumpy belt buckle bulging under your shirt.  The minute I saw it I said, "I have to have one!"  As the mother of 3 between the ages of 5 and 1, I have pants in sizes across the spectrum.  Some of those pants I didn't buy that long ago, but they are now a little larger in the waist.  This belt keeps them up and in place, with out any embarrassing moments when I bend over, crouch or sit down!!  And for all of those pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, I can keep those up too, with out anything to add bulk to the waist I now want to show off!!

I got the nude one first, and I am seriously considering it in black, and navy too.  At $20 a piece, I think I NEED all 3!!  Like Spanx, this belt is about to go HUGE!!  Super functional and affordable!
Here is what a happy customer said about The Naked Belt:

I just got my Naked Belt and I am so happy! I needed a solution to belting my pants but not having the buckle leave a lump under my clothes. … I highly recommend The Naked Belt to everyone! You will use it every day. – Lori Mills Lorge

3. My New Makeup Bag/Clutch

I am obsessed with the global trend this year.  And I was in need of a new makeup bag.  Put the two together and you get this:
photo:Sarah K Relis
I had seen bags like this at Angel in Montecito ($185), and in In Style Magazine by designer Caroline Issa for LK Bennett ($495).  I really wanted a bag like this but it is a little out of my budget at the moment.
photo:Caroline Issa for LK Bennett
So what did I do?  I went on etsy and started looking at all kinds of bags.  I came across this fair trade clutch in tons of colors and designs embroidered in Thailand.  I paid $6.99 plus $4.50 in shipping!  And best of all it holds all of my makeup- even my makeup brushes, and a box of mints!
photo: Sarah K Relis

 When it arrived in the mail, it was so pretty, I had to force myself to use it for my makeup.  I really wanted to keep it  as a clutch.  Maybe I will order another color or design and use it as a clutch.  To see all of the beautiful Thai embroidered wristlets go to:
I think these would make great gifts too!!

4. Mineral Fusion Bronzer

I had never used bronzer before, but I had seen some photos in a magazine using nude makeup colors, and I wanted to try something like that.  I buy most of my makeup at Lazy Acres market on the mesa in Santa Barbara, and I can not say enough good things about the Mineral Fusion  brand.
photo: Sarah K Relis

 When I made the switch to "natural" makeup brands, I was hunting and pecking so to speak, just trying things.  Some were good, some okay, some went in the trash.  But every Mineral Fusion  product I have tried has been really good, even their mascara!  The colors look good with my complexion, and the "formulas" have great consistency.
photo: Sarah K Relis

 I really like this bronzer (in Luster) because it has two colors in one compact, a darker tan and a shimmery peachy bronze.  I have used it to contour my face, as an all over tan, and as a blush.  I use the shimmer to highlight, as an eyeshadow, and even mixed with lip balm as a goldeny-neutral lipgloss!                                                                                                                                                       

5. Origins The Great Pretender

I am all in favor of the sun.  I am always at the beach in the afternoon, summer and winter.  But as a busy mom, I don't always have time to "layout" in the sun to get that sunkissed glow.  I am also all too familiar with that one sunny day where I want to wear a dress or shorts, and my skin hasn't see the sun in weeks (months).  
When sunless tanning first came out in the late 80's - early 90's, I was the first one in line to try it.  My results were less than optimal, streaky, orange... and that smell.  Does anyone relate to what I am talking about?   This time around, I was looking for a product that had worked out all of those kinks,  and I was concerned about all of the chemicals in most self tanners out there. 

Here is the answer!!  It is from Origins, and it is the most natural one I have found.  It's tinted so you get some color right away, and you can see where you are applying it, and where it needs to be blended further.  I have been so happy with this product!  The color is natural, it starts out light and you can add layers for darker color.  And it doesn't have that obnoxious chemically smell!  Someone who I know is a sunless tanning aficionado once said to me "You look so tan!"  She had no idea I hadn't been laying out in the sun all week!  Ha!  Get your own sunless summer glow, and check out all of the reviews at:  

This is my top 5 new purchases for summer.  I am looking forward to spending the long days outside enjoying the sunshine with great friends and family!  What are your plans for the summer?  Do you have summer "must haves"?  I would love to know what products you are super excited about, too!  Also, check out my interior design blog and website at:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Road Trip: Skiing in Sun Valley

photo: google images
A few years ago, my family and I were living in the beautiful state of Colorado. We skied at many of the state's best resorts, and I really caught the skiing bug! So when ever I get a chance to go skiing, and especially at a resort I've never been to, I jump at the chance!

Over President's Day Weekend, we journeyed from the beaches of Santa Barbara to a skiing adventure in Sun Valley Idaho.  My husband, who is a Singer/Songwriter(, had a couple of performances in the area over the weekend, so we all went along.  I had never been to Sun Valley, and was dying to check it out.
photo:Matt Clark's Mind
We stayed at the historic Sun Valley Lodge, which was built in 1936.  It looks perfectly rustic from the outside, but is luxurious and cozy on the inside, everything a ski lodge should be.  
photo: google images

A few things I noticed about Sun Valley.  First, we were there over President's Day Weekend.  Anyone who skis knows this is The Busiest weekend of the year.  At most resorts you are battling Disneyland style crowds everywhere you go. But in Sun Valley, I felt as if I had the whole place to myself.  The grounds around the lodge were practically deserted, lift lines were short, and runs were only sprinkled with skiers.   Second, the service everywhere throughout the resort was phenomenal!  At every turn, there was someone on staff ready to help with a smile.  I loved this!  Doors were held open, skis carried, and children were helped on and off the chair lifts.  These things alone makes Sun Valley well worth the extra effort to get to!

photo: google images

Anyone ever seen the classic movie, Sun Valley Serenade?  I hadn't either.  But while staying at the Lodge there is a channel that plays this movie over and over, and nothing else.  We enjoyed watching Sun Valley Serenade several times, and I'm sure that for those who ski here year after year, you look forward to the classic movie as a part of your yearly vacation experience.
The Skiing
Dollar Mountain
While we were in Idaho the weather was amazing!  It was bright and sunny, (is this why it is called Sun Valley?) and on the warmer side.  This made for amazing days of family skiing!  While the grounds around the lodge looked more like spring melt than winter, the snow on the mountain was well groomed and really fun!

 I mainly skied at Dollar Mountain with the kids, which is REALLY family friendly!  Lots of green runs.  My oldest son really enjoyed a small, beginner trick park.   My husband ventured over to River Run, which is more typical of a ski resort.  Lots of intermediate and advanced runs to spend all day exploring.
photo: sarah relis
I can't wait to return to Sun Valley and explore some more.  The nearby town of Ketchum, has some great shopping that I didn't have time for this trip.  Next time I am there, I want to check out the chic winter fashions and amazing linens available at several boutiques in Sun Valley and Ketchum.  Sun Valley has become one of my new favorite places to travel to for a winter skiing vacation!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wearing Santa Barbara Style

Recently I came across the book, Parisian Chic by former Chanel model and muse of designer Karl Lagerfeld, Ines de la Fressange.  This book was found within the mecca of Santa Barbara Style, the collection of stores in the upper village of Montecito owned by Pierre Lafond and Santa Barbara Style guru, Wendy Foster.  Ms. Foster pioneered this casually elegant look, that is a little European and a little California, and has had a great career in doing so.
Courtsey of Upstairs at
Pierre Lafond
I started thinking about the essential elements of dressing with Santa Barbara Style.  Here is a selection of basic items and helpful tips for creating a wardrobe where no matter how you put it on, and in what combination, you always look casually elegant.  These, of course, are my ideas of the essentials, and you may have a different view.  I welcome your comments and ideas!

For a look that is always elegant, basics are key.  Here are essential basics for Santa Barbara Style.

1.  Great White Blouse, with feminine details

 This is the essence of classic.  It can be worn in a million different ways depending on what you wear it with and the accessories you add.  The details you choose, give you an opporturnity to express your personal style, wether you want something crisper and more classic, or something flowy and bohemian.  Looking for something that flatters is of upmost importance.  Trying lots of different styles that you might not expect to like may suprise you.
I recently saw my Mom when she was in town, and she had on a beautiful, white bohemian-style blouse that was loosely fitted and had Guatemalan style tone-on-tone embroidery on the front.  Subtle, elegant, and with a feeling that she picked it up on some fabulous trip somewhere.
Dressed down with shorts, or add a blazer to dress it up a bit.


2.  Slim Jeans that can be worn rolled at the ankle, dressed up or down
photo: J
I usually see dark wash denim suggested as the way to an elegant look, but I gravitate to a worn in, more casual look for Santa Barbara Style.  Slim, but never to tight.  If a darker wash is what suits you, then go for it!

3.  White Jeans

photo: J
I like white jeans because they seem like summer to me. In Santa Barbara, white jeans work all year. You can wear them with anything you would wear traditional denim, but for more snap and contrast to your look.  I find myself wearing white jeans when I don't want to add "blue" to my outfit.  For a tonal look in creams and whites they're perfect.  Or for lots of contrast, with black, gray, or brights like yellow or orange, better than traditional denim.  Does anyone still follow the "no white after Labor Day" rule anymore?

4.  Simple Dresses
photo: J

These can be worn almost anywhere in Santa Barbara, from casually to the beach or shopping, to more dressed up to dinner or an evening out.  Again, depending on the accessories you choose, you can dress them up or down.

This is an opportunity to express your individual style by choosing a signature color.  Always keep in mind that casual, effortless elegance is what you are after.  I love seeing how someone can wear a simple dress lots of different ways- you can get more mileage out of one piece by focusing on simplicity of style and color.  Wear a dress with a scarf and flat sandals for a casual look.  Wear the same dress with a statement necklace, strappy heels and a clutch for a more dressed up look.

5.  Tank tops for layering
These don't need much explanation.  Worn with jeans, shorts etc. layered under a sweater or by themselves- tank tops are essential.  A selection of neutral colors in basic styles are key.  I like tank tops that are a little on the longer side, so I can wear them tucked or untucked, and they always stay put over the top of my pants!  Because tanks are usually a more affordable item, this is a chance to experiment with a fun pop of color.  Whatever style or color you are wearing, you don't want anything too tight.  Stick to a slightly drapey fit.

6. Basic Shorts

7.  Cashmere Sweater
photo: J

If you must stick to just one, pick a neutral color like cream, tan, gray, black or navy.  If you can, get one in each of these colors, and one in a fun color you love, or even a great nautical stripe- we are by the sea after all!  V neck, crew neck or cardigan, choose whatever you feel best in.  And as with everything, fit is of upmost importance.

8.  Georgeous Beach Tunic


I was at the beach this spring and I saw a woman there with her two kids.  She was wearing this amazing long-sleved aqua chambray tunic with cream crewel edging with little pom-poms along the hem and wrists.  It was elegant and fun.  To keep it casual she was wearing it with a worn in baseball hat, and when she was leaving, she threw on gray knit sweatpants.  She looked so cool, I wanted her outfit!  It was then I realized how essential a beach tunic is.  You look great while you are at the beach, and you also look great when you are going to and from the beach.  How many times do you have to run to the grocery store on your way home, and you don't want to look like a hobo!   

A tunic is great too because it is versatile.  You can wear it when you aren't going anywhere near the beach.  With leggings, jeans shorts, or as a dress if it is long enough.  I like one in again, (are we sensing a theme here?) a neutral color with some kind of intersting detail, like embroidery, for an elegant touch.

9.  Black Leggings

Wear with everything.

10.Drapey Tissue Cardigan

I see women wearing these all over town, and I love them!  They are truly effortless and elegant!  They aren't any harder to put on than a hoodie, but what a huge difference in your look.  Take your jeans or leggings and a tank top, throw on a drapey cardigan and you look put together, feminine and ready.  I love this because, if you are anything like me, sometimes you can't figure out what to wear, and this "uniform" is the perfect answer for those type of days.  I have a friend who is a young mom, and she wears outfits like this all the time.  She always looks elegant, pretty and casual at the same time.

11. Beach Essentials

Flip flops.  In Santa Barbara, you could almost get away with wearing no other shoes.  Thin strap Havianas are perfect. 

Sunglasses.  I love tortise!  It adds so much texture.  Look for a style that suits your face, and your personality.

Bikini.  Triangle top is definitely the classic beach style.  Mixing and matching tops and bottoms looks casual and chic.

Beach bag.


 12. Accessories


 Funky, unique jewelry.

Scarves.  Throw these on with everything.

Shoes.  Ballet flats, flat sandals, riding boots.

One really great thing about our Santa Barbara climate, is that you can have one wardrobe all year.  You don't need to change out your shorts for heavy coats in the winter.  There are lots more things I could have included, and I could do an entire post just on accessories, but when I look at all these photos in a collection, I realized that if someone had these things and no more, they could make quite a few great looks.  Are there "essentials" I left out?