Favorite's List Round-up #2! Tajiguas Beach, Alacrity and Other Favorites.

It seems funny that Summer Solstice comes so early in the summer and yet it marks the longest day of the year. Doesn't it feel like August nights are longer than June nights? Maybe that's just because we're more likely to experience those warm sweater-free evenings in late summer. Those nights are so rare here on the Central Coast that they at least temper the loss of a few seconds of daylight each day. They draw us out of our houses and into patios and parks where we can eke out those last bits of sunlight.  Here's ten of our favorite things to do, discover and get excited about in our community right now.

1) Handlebar's Expansion

Leisurely drinking two cups of coffee every morning at a cafe is one of my favorite personal indulgences and Handlebar Cafe is my most loved fix. They opened up across from the historic presidio while I was off at college and have quickly established themselves as a hub for the local cycling community and coffee connoisseurs. Handlebar has had almost everything going on: incredible locally roasted coffee, pastries from the famous Renaud's, vegan scones from Flagstone Pastry, a wide selection of cute dogs to pet, free (!) coffee refills, friendly staff and a central and historic location.

They've had just about everything but abundant seating. While walking my coffee across the street to read under the perfect awnings at the presidio is lovely, on rainy and cold days, Handlebar's outdoor only seating can be regrettable. So the news that they have recently begun construction to expand their cafe is so welcome! They'll now have indoor seating in the adjacent gallery. Handlebar's perfection is soon to be complete!

2) The Santa Barbara Arts Fund

The Arts Fund is a community gallery and an organization dedicated to fostering the arts in our community. Their gallery in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara exhibits exceptional and innovative pieces from local artists and their flagship Teen Arts Mentorship Program provides teen artists with the incredible opportunity to learn from outstanding local artists and creators. The executive director, Kai Tepper, is an old friend of mine and she is truly a force to be reckoned with! I am continually impressed by her creative thinking and passion for arts education. On July 4th and 5th, we'll be donating 10 percent of sales to The Arts Fund. We're so excited to be supporting them. If you haven't visited our boutique or browsed our online store yet, this Friday and Saturday is a great time to do it!

3) Alacrity
Alacrity noun \ə-ˈla-krə-tē\: Brisk and cheerful readiness.
Those who know me can tell you that alacrity is one of my favorite words. You could say I overuse it. Its meaning is simple but it perfectly captures something I strive for everyday and admire in the people I choose to surround myself with. To me it captures a Yes, Can Do Attitude. It captures a willingness to rise to the occasion and make things happen with determination, but even more importantly, with cheer. It's just an exceptionally good word for an exceptionally simple and valuable concept. Live life with alacrity, folks. 
4) Tajiguas Beach
The name Tajiguas is perhaps best-known as the name of our landfill, but it's also the name of one of my favorite beaches. It's about thirty minutes up the coast, just beyond Refugio beach on the Gaviota Coast. This stretch of undeveloped coast line is rugged, pristine and frankly magical and the kind of place you hardly want to say out loud. You turn off the highway and park in a turnout along the paved road (better directions here). You then cross the train tracks and descend down the cliffs. I've now tried three different descents, none of which killed me, but all of which involved some sliding and near falls. As such, this beach isn't the best for those with untested fitness or those who have coolers and little ones in tow. However, once you're down on the beach, it's unspoiled, often completely empty and truly a magical place to take a long walk or have a picnic.
Be sure to check the tide before making the trek up the coast. When I arrived for a picnic last weekend, I was surprised to find there was no beach at all. The upside to this error was a three hour picnic with the waves crashing around us without encountering even a single person. 
woman on train tracks at tajiguas beach california
Dancing on the train tracks.
I strongly recommend marking the beach so you remember where to climb the cliffs back up and reach your car is. After one long walk, I was so deep in thought I walked right over my giant circle and was nearly stranded on the beach at dusk!
crab on the beach
4) Fried Cauliflower with Chimichurri (at Arts and Letters Cafe)
Arts and Letters is a lovely outdoor restaurant behind the Sullivan Goss Gallery. The very European patio seating is arranged around a fountain and is covered, and thus shady. It can be too chilly on a cool day, so go and visit on a warm day and order the fried cauliflower with chimichurri. It's delicious.
cauliflower with chimichurri
5) Lux Amare
When Elizabeth Reynolds brought in her line of aromatherapy and skincare for us to try here at the headquarters, we were prepared to like her products, since they'd come highly recommended from friends. Instead, that afternoon we discovered what are sincerely some of the most incredible products we've ever used. I have always preferred natural beauty products, but many products with pure ingredients and essential oils still exacerbate my allergies. Lux Amare's products don't—at all. We've since completely transformed our skincare regimens. I've stopped using traditional cleansers on my face and now use the Luxury Skincare Oil to cleanse and moisturize my face. I carry around the Floral Eau de Parfum and spritz myself with Vitality Aromatherapeutic mist throughout the day to keep myself focused and rejuvenated. My hands are always silky from the hand cream. The Bath and Body Oils and Luxury Skincare Oil are based on fractionated coconut oil, a scentless form of coconut oil that is liquid at room temperature, making cleansing and moisturizing with coconut oil a much more straightforward activity than sloppily scooping it out of a tub.
Palace Nights Euphoria Body & Bath Oil
Life is simply better and more luxurious with Lux Amare. Don't believe us? Check out her reviews on Facebook. At the time of writing, she has 53 five star reviews and not a single four, three, two or one star review. We're so proud to carry her products both online and in the store. If you live in Santa Barbara, stop by the boutique and try them. We think you'll become a convert too.
6) Volleyball
Living in Santa Barbara is in itself a good reason to get outside. We are sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains. One of my favorite ways to celebrate this fact is by playing volleyball down at East Beach. It's an amazing way to spend a day with friends and strangers, even if you're as uncoordinated as I am!
volleyball in the sand in santa barbara