“Butterflies Alive” Returns This Month!

Entertainment, Uncategorized

Well folks, it’s already May… as of today’s post, I have already submitted the obligatory May social media posts for the 1st and the 4th (Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” & “May the 4th Be With You” for those of you not in the know.) However, beyond fooling around with hash tags on Instagram, May is one of my favorite months for finding fun activities to check out here in Santa Barbara. For this post, I’m focusing on my absolute favorite – the Butterflies Alive exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (located at 2559 Puesta Del Sol in Santa Barbara.)

Officially opening May 25th, and going until September 2nd; visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to walk through this live exhibit of about 1,000 butterflies fluttering around you in the new Sprague Butterfly Pavilion that was built last year. There are many different species of butterfly, along with a variety of plants that attract them.

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This is an excellent event that the whole family can enjoy together. From those who just want to sit and relax as the butterflies flit about around you, or kids that want to learn about the life cycle of these beautiful insects and see the chrysalis that they emerged from (click here for SBMNH video about it) – everyone will find an aspect to enjoy. As a bonus, this exhibit is included in the museum’s price of admission.

In addition to the Butterflies Alive exhibit, the SB Museum of Natural History, is a thoroughly enjoyable family outing venue. There is plenty of room for the younger kids to explore outside, there are nature trails, and the standing exhibits to peruse for all ages. For those that have visited in recent months and feel that they have seen everything there is to see at the museum, I would highly recommend returning soon to see the butterflies.

I give this Santa Barbara attraction 4/5 🌴🌴🌴🌴 for beauty, interactive learning and observation, and the rarity of this being something you only get to experience once per year.

Travel Tip: The museum opens at 10am every day and closes at 5pm. To avoid what will undoubtedly be summer crowds, plan to either arrive first thing when they open or come after 3pm to avoid the larger crowds.

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Travel with Next Vacay

Travel Tips

Last year, shortly after my 36th birthday, I finally took my first international trip. Initially, I was in a bit of a frenzied state trying to settle on where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to head somewhere, but I couldn’t settle on the where part. This indecision was also inhibiting me when it came to trying to find reasonably priced airfare. I didn’t want, or have the disposable income to pay for last minute airfare – and it literally makes me ill if I don’t do a thorough search of the net for the best price on anything.

Well, imagine my joy at happening across a service called Next Vacay. Their whole platform is tailored to busy individuals who want to travel soonish, want to find the best deals, and want to have travel destination options presented to them. They take the pressure off you so you aren’t bogged down with the stress of price comparison across different sites and monitoring fares over a prolonged period of time. They handle all that for you and alert you when there is a super low fare flying out from your nearest major airport.

When I read up on the Next Vacay’s process, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first that they could provide what I needed at an affordable price. However, there was a free 30 day trial period so I decided to give it a try anyway. I provided my nearest airport and signed up for the service. Within 10 days I had received several deal alerts to possible travel locations. I had finally narrowed down my ideal travel locations to 3 places in Europe I wanted to go, so I decided that the first city to show up in the alerts was the one I would go with if the price was right. In the second week of the service, I received a deal alert for London (my 1st choice city) for $439 round trip. I was beyond excited to take advantage of such a deal! I immediately went directly to the providing airline’s site and booked my flight that day.

I couldn’t believe how much money and time I was able to save using Next Vacay! They literally did all of the work for me and helped me figure out where I wanted to travel. It’s like having your own personal travel agent who contacts you every few days to tell you about exciting trips you can afford to take. However, unlike a travel agent, they don’t take any commissions or fees so nothing extra is added, giving you the lowest possible fare imaginable and they only charge a $25 annual fee.

I am in the process of planning an extended stay trip back to the UK this Fall, do you want to guess which service I’ll be using to guarantee I get the best deal on my airfare? Ding ding ding, winner winner chicken dinner if you guessed Next Vacay!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about my travel planning process for tips and hacks to plan an awesome, yet affordable, vacation.

Handlebar Coffee

Food

 

It was Friday afternoon and after a week spent in bed sucking down antibiotics like my life depended on them, I was finally able to venture out into the sun. The first thought I had was, “I need caffeine – STAT”. With a desire to enjoy something outside of the cookie cutter Starbucks chain, I decided to choose from one of the many unique coffee spots that Santa Barbara has to offer and ended up at Handlebar Coffee Roasters . With 2 locations to choose from, I chose their newest location at 2720 De La Vina Street in midtown S.B.

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What I love about this particular location, is the industrial warehouse feel to the interior. There are open beam ceilings, plenty of seating inside and outside (which their original location at 128 E Canon Perdido St is a bit short on.) There is a wholesale area, plenty of company “merch” to look at, and let’s not forget – the excellent coffee and eats on offer. Another selling point for me is the fact that they have kombucha on tap to enjoy. I’ve been to both locations plenty of times, and no matter how busy they are – the staff is always extremely friendly and efficient in getting orders out in a timely manner.

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On today’s visit, I went with a classic vanilla latte and a delicious chocolate rye cookie. As always, the barista was friendly and engaging and poured a perfect cup of espresso goodness. The cookie was really tasty and I personally liked the fact that it was made with rye flower, you couldn’t exactly taste it but there was a little something “extra” that made it all the more scrumptious. It was difficult choosing my treat, even late in the day there were some very tempting treats on offer – one being some delicious looking avocado toast.

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With the owners being former professional cyclists, Handlebar is extremely popular with the manual 2-wheel crowd. If you are at the original location first thing in the morning, especially on a weekend day, be prepared to share the space with more than a few Lycra_wearing enthusiasts. A tip for those that want to find seating easily, I would stop by late morning and after lunchtime. Cyclists aren’t the only welcomed visitors however, this is a very dog friendly spot. I always see doggie bowls filled with fresh water near the door if you happen by with your fur baby.

Since this is obviously one of my semi-regular coffee spots, I’m partial to the Handlebar Coffee scene. Pros are friendly staff, consistent quality coffee, and options available. The only cons I can really state are that the prices are going to be a little higher than a chain, and that the popularity with the cyclist crowd can be a little annoying when you just want to enjoy a low key espresso moment depending on the time and day you visit. Overall, I give Handlebar Coffee Roasters 4/5 🌴🌴🌴🌴

Unique Creations of “Kirra Makes”

Artisan

One of (the many) things I love about the Santa Barbara community, is that there are so many talented artists here. On any given day, you can walk around the Funk Zone and find unique hand-crafted gifts, clothing, or artistic edible treats. Visit a local wine tasting room or brewery, and you may happen upon a local art faire, showcasing some of the many talented artisans to be found in this diverse community.

For today’s entry, I have chosen to spotlight local artisan Kirra Stankowsky of “Kirra Makes”. Whether you want to carry your laundry change in quirky style, send a custom hand-made greeting card to cheer up a friend, or find a cute tote for your farmer’s market haul – you will no doubt find something to love from Kirra Makes (hereafter referred to as K.M.)

If I were to draw a common theme in her crafts, it would be the beauty of simplicity. You won’t find tons of wild textiles or crazy colors, but you will find a beautiful neutral color palette that lends itself well to customer customization.

Kirra’s primary focus for her current items on offer are: leather stamping (leather tag keychains), carved ink blocks for printing (greeting cards, cloth prints), embroidery (totes).

In addition to being a talented artist, Kirra is also a genuinely awesome person who is a joy to interact with. She is passionate about art and creative expression. Whether you decide to go with one of her unique pre-made designs or opt for a customization, you can be assured that you will receive a quality product that has been made with love.

Follow Kirra on Instagram @kirra.makes and stay up to date on where to find her items for sale. You can also reach her via email at kirr.gre@gmail.com.

SB Brit

Lilac Patisserie

Food

I have a cake addiction. Actually, it’s more like a sugar addiction that I prefer to express through cake. This being my truth, whenever you find me at an event like a wedding, baby or bridal shower, anniversary, etc – chances are, I’m really only there for dessert. My gift in exchange for a slice of confectionery heaven.

About a month ago, I had an opportunity to barter gifts for cake at a friend’s bridal shower. I was beyond excited when I noticed that there were not one, but three beautiful cakes brought in for the occasion. When I finally got my eager hands on a slice, I was knocked off my feet by how perfectly balanced all of its attributes were – light, fluffy, not too sweet. After cornering the host, I learned that the cakes were from Lilac Patisserie, an all gluten free bakery. I decided then and there that I had to go visit the patisserie in person and sample some of their other treats.

Located at 1017 State Street, Lilac Patisserie’s doors have been open for almost 4 years now – which, considering my little sugar “habit”, blows my mind that it wasn’t on my radar until now. They have been rated 2 years running *Best of SB Wedding Cake Shop* AND the top 10 Gluten Free Bakery in the United States!

Upon entering, you are treated to a tasteful decor with lilac colored walls and bistro style seating. All of the days baked goods are on display for you to ogle as you wait your turn in line. What I immediately noted was that, even though it was the day before Thanksgiving and it was busy with customers picking up orders for the holiday, the staff was not frazzled or out of sorts. On the contrary, they were extremely friendly and welcoming and table service didn’t take very long.

My friend and I decided to split a slice of “The Berry Patch”. Lilac’s menu describes this cake as an “Orange-infused yellow butter cake filled with layers of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and whipped cream. Frosted with whipped cream and decorated with abstract buttercream vines and leaves and fresh berries.” I was sold on that description alone!

When the cake arrived, it was huge – their cake slices are perfect for sharing. Digging in, I found it to be extremely light and fluffy which is not usually my experience with gluten free cakes. There was no grainy texture whatsoever. This meshed with my experience at the bridal shower the previous month. This means that their quality is consistent. (It also means that my exquisite delight with their cake previously wasn’t just all the Rosé I’d had talking.) It was delicious to the very last bite (that we fought over.)

On this first visit, I was there for the cake. However, Lilac’s menu is full of many other delicious looking treats that I can’t wait to try. If the quality of their cakes is an indication of their other baked goods, I’m sure it will all go down a treat. I enthusiastically give Lilac Patisserie 5 🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴’s for quality, decor, and friendly staff. Even if it isn’t necessary for you to stick to a GF diet, I would still make this a stop on any visit to SB when you are craving something sweet.

And if you were wondering, I got sidetracked by the description of The Berry Patch, but there was my beloved Carrot Cake on offer that day. I will be back very soon to see how it rates.

SB Brit

SilverThorne Vintage

Artisan

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love finding new and unique boutiques and vintage stores locally. So, imagine my joy, when I was aimlessly wandering around the “Funk Zone” downtown (going from one wine tasting to another) with a friend – and I literally stumbled upon one of Santa Barbara’s newest vintage boutiques, SilverThorne (located at 22 Anacapa St #3).

Opened in recent months and named for her grandmother who taught her to sew, designer Sarah Farmer has carved out a much needed niche in the Santa Barbara fashion scene. You can find anything from vintage clothing and accessories, Prada & Manolo Blahnik shoes, custom distressed flannels – and my very favorite, Sarah’s beautifully one of a kind design upcycled vintage slip dresses. This truly is a MUST stop for fashion lovers and those seeking unique gifts.

During my visit, I found so many wonderful items to “ooh and ahh” over. There were working vintage telephone purses, custom bridal “bouquets” made from broaches, Prada shoes with eyeballs, UK Doc Martens, vintage swimsuits turned into swim dresses… the list of amazing things to look at is endless. I could have easily spent hours looking through SilverThorne’s collection, however it was getting close to closing time and I had talked poor Sarah’s ear off long enough.

SilverThorne SB without a doubt gets 5/5 🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴 for quality, diverse selection, unique finds you won’t get anywhere else, and a welcoming and friendly shopping experience. I highly suggest you run, don’t walk, to check out this eclectic collection of vintage and upcycled art.

SB Brit

Savoy Cafe and Deli

Food

Featured on Food Network’s Diners Drive Ins & Dives, Savoy Cafe & Deli (located at 24 W. Figueroa St.) is a favorite of locals who enjoy great tasting high quality quick eats. Whether you are grabbing something to go for lunch or dinner, dining in for breakfast and tea/coffee – you can always be assured that you will be getting something delicious that won’t break your budget.

Tonight after finishing my regular Monday afternoon volunteering with friends, I stopped in looking to pick up something tasty for dinner and a treat for dessert. I decided to get the entree and side dish combo plate and went with the chicken marsala and mashed potatoes. I couldn’t pass on one of their large slices of carrot cake for dessert – eventually I will get into my obsession with carrot cake, but will save that for later entries. For under $20 and in just 10 minutes, I was in and out with my delicious smelling dinner and delectable dessert.

At dinner time, I’m usually in a rush to get home and relax so I often get my meals to go. However, Savoy has a lovely inside and outside dining space – their fancifully lit and decorated patio being my favorite spot to dine for breakfast and lunch. This is also a place one can feel comfortable dining solo, as the clientele and staff are always friendly and if you’re in the mood to strike up a random conversation, one can often be found at the next table.

I can see why this place is a highly rated eatery on tv, travel blogs, and various review sites. I give it 5 out of 5 palm trees 🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴 for convenience without sacrificing quality, versatility in menu selection, and having some of the best carrot cake in town!

SB Brit

Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Town – Asking it to Love Her

Uncategorized

Hello, and welcome! It was a few weeks ago that I found myself striking up a random conversation with a tourist in lovely downtown Santa Barbara. When I told her that I have lived here my entire life, being the second generation born here, she exclaimed how “amazing it must be to have all the time in the world to explore all this town has to offer!”

I feel a little bad saying this, but it honestly wasn’t until that moment that it truly hit home that yes, I AM very lucky to call America’s Riviera my home! There are so many wonderful and unique characteristics to this town – the people, the food, the crafts, and the general pulse of the town – that make it a highly sought after travel destination for people from all over the world.

So, it was then that I decided to give my personal impression of my town and all that it has to offer. I intend to share as many aspects as possible about the culture, things to do and see for all ages, and the artistic side of the town as well. I will review a new subject, establishment, product, etc each week that to me, represents Santa Barbara.

I so look forward to sharing this beautiful, at times dichotomous, engaging town that I call home with you dear readers in the days and weeks to come.

SB Brit