Author spotlight: Leslie Westbrook

A third-generation Californian, Leslie, currently resides in Carpinteria but called Summerland home for 30 years. The award-winning writer assists clients sell fine art, antiques and collectibles at auction houses around the globe. She can be reached at LeslieAWestbrook@gmail.com or www.auctionliaison.com

Some Like it Hot! Water. Food. Sun. Art… Not Necessarily in That Order A travel dispatch from greater Palm Springs
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 10, 2021

I recently fled the post-COVID couldn’t-wait-to-travel-again-May-gray blues for a five-day escape to the Coachella “sink.” It’s not really a valley (this is a misnomer), but a geological basin, I learned on a lively San Andreas Fault Red Jeep Tour.  I went to visit a few friends, have a little R&R with pool time, learn more […]

Taking the Long Road Home: A Vaccine Journey and the Road to Dominion A day trip to Santa Maria: encounters with the good, the bad, the ugly, and more on re-entering the human race.
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 27, 2021

My “first outside adventure” in a year (a trip to L.A. to visit my hermetically sealed mom on display for her 90th birthday doesn’t count) was on February 20, 2021.  My fellow community activist, board member, and civically minded neighbor John Nicoli texted me a message: “You still looking for a shot?” he wrote, “Available […]

To be Revered: New Miramar Restaurant Perfectly Combines Great Food, Old Memories
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 6, 2021

Now that I’m fully vaccinated, after “Our Year of Perpetual and Unusual Confinement,” I’m gearing up to hit the road again. Living on travel memories has been OK, but there ain’t nothing like the real thing. I’m ready to fire up my jets and dust off my suitcase, beginning with some weekend escapes.  What’s a […]

Book Signing at Field + Fort
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 30, 2021

The recipes – tied to each season – in Santa Barbara-based lifestyle doyenne, cook and gardener Valerie Rice’s forthcoming cookbook Lush Life: Food & Drinks from the Garden are absolutely mouth-watering. Broken into seasons, don’t let that stop you from preparing leg of lamb stuffed with feta and oregano, Hope Ranch mussels with chorizo and fennel, or Indian-spiced […]

The Birds
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

It appears to be something out of the Alfred Hitchcock flick The Birds for residents on Finney Street on the Summerland cliffs. The nesting cormorants who have been chased off of the eucalyptus grove aside the 101 with mylar balloons have changed just moved nesting plans just down the beach. People are pissed. Much more […]

Haunted House? Wullbrandt Spoils the Myth!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

Last month, I wrote about The Big Yellow House – now the big white house – which evoked lot of reads and plenty of memories for many people. In one of our early morning Facebook Messenger chats, Wullbrandt texted me photos of one of the old Green Gables restaurant (pre-Big Yellow House) jackets he wore, […]

On a Final Note
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

A true Montecito treasure, Brad Bartholomay (November 29, 1949-December 23, 2020) went on to greener pastures in the sky a few months ago. I meant to note his passing, but was waiting for word from his beautiful daughter (Fiesta flower-girl-turned-architect) Schuyler Leigh Johnson, who I do believe got caught up in the whirlwind of grief, […]

Bert’s Birthday!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

Belated birthday greetings to Bert at the Summerland Post Office. We appreciate you!

The Oak Group: Artist Activists
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

Summerland boasts an array of natural beauty. The sea is the most obvious asset, but gently rolling hills dotted with wild mustard, when rains and Mother Nature have cooperated, and other spots beckon nature lovers and wildlife, including Brandt’s cormorants, which I will get to in a moment. The landscape has long lured artists with […]

Out With the Old Locks, in With the New ‘Do
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 15, 2021

What’s the first thing you want (or wanted) to do after getting vaccinated? Hug somebody? A trip (who’d a thunk it?) to the dentist? A trip – any kind of trip? I’m down for all of that as well as aching for a massage and/or a chiropractic adjustment. (Reminder to self: Call Charlie Bissell in […]

Do What Teddy Does! (Follow the Leader)
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 15, 2021

What a delight it was to meet the Ru family at the Summerland Fire Station on a recent Sunday afternoon where the rather precocious and terribly adorable two-and-a-half-year-old, Teddy Firestone Ru, was practicing his firefighting skills with great aplomb under the kind guidance of Interim Summerland-Carpinteria Fire Captain Johan Nilsson. He handled the hose with […]

The Farmer + The Flea
By Leslie Westbrook   |   March 26, 2021

On the last Sunday of every month, the Summerland Post Office parking lot on Lillie Avenue fills up with a cornucopia of flea market and food vendors. Even volunteers from CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) are onsite to raise funds and awareness of the nonprofit. While parking may be a challenge – “It’s a […]

They Call it Mellow Yellow… The Case of the Hidden Staircase
By Leslie Westbrook   |   March 18, 2021

The Internet and townsfolk are all abuzz about the Big Yellow House’s new “yellow” paint job. About a month ago, I received a text with a photo of the building being painted. It read: Dear Summerland correspondent, The Big Yellow House is being painted cream. Signed, Nancy Drew I was relieved that the super bright, […]

Summerland Neighbors: Kevin Frank + Family
By Leslie Westbrook   |   February 25, 2021

Kevin Frank and his wife, Katie, owners of K. Frank, the Montecito men and women’s luxury and designer clothing store on Coast Village Road, moved to Summerland six years ago after being attracted by the “small town charm and walkability.” It wasn’t until they toured their house that they became gob smacked by the incredible […]

Community Love For Valentine’s Day
By Leslie Westbrook   |   February 11, 2021

Summerland merchants have banded together to spread some Valentine’s Day weekend community love this weekend! The town will be bursting with chocolate, flowers, cookies, champagne, pop-ups, tastings specials, and more.  Participating businesses include Red Kettle Coffee (heart shaped cookies), Garde, Mary Suding Antiques, Sweet Wheel Farms & Flowers, The Bikini Factory (20% off red and pink […]

Love, Anyone?
By Leslie Westbrook   |   February 4, 2021

We can’t think of a sweeter Valentine’s gift than the one from generous Summerland resident and philanthropist Nora McNeely Hurley and her husband, Michael Hurley. Summerland School’s very tired tennis courts will be undergoing a complete renovation thanks to a two-year grant from the Manitou Fund. Nora McNeely Hurley is a Trustee and Chief Programming […]

At Home With Lou
By Leslie Westbrook   |   January 28, 2021

It’s no surprise that Lou Cannon does a pretty good imitation of President Ronald Reagan. After all, he covered Reagan from his governorship in California to his time in the White House through to his final days, writing five books about California’s former governor and president, including President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, among […]

The Year That Stopped… and Began Again: A Song of Hope
By Leslie Westbrook   |   January 14, 2021

Looking over my 2020 Filofax calendar (yes, I still use one of those) and reviewing the past year, it’s not nearly as full as previous years. 2020 stated out well enough: it went from meeting friends at Tharios’ Kitchen and Field + Fort, Sunday brunches at El Encanto, Miramar, Four Seasons Biltmore for an Edible […]

The Squeaky Wheel Method
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 31, 2020

Suzy “Squeaky Wheel” Cawthon has spent eight long years on a long and winding road of a dream that began with Fran Davis, the “founding mother” of an effort to re-imagine and enhance Lookout Park. The idea was to move the camp host from its perch and a primo spot to the upper end of […]

A Great Cap to an Otherwise Strange Year
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 31, 2020

My great Aunt Betty laughed when I bought my house in Summerland in the early 1980s. She told me that her husband, my great uncle Heywood, used to work on those wells when they lived in Summerland in the 1930s. Little did I know at the time that the very oil wells he worked on […]

Santa Barbara’s Wonder Woman
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 24, 2020

Hannah-Beth Jackson may have run out of time as State Senator, but she never ran out of the fierce will that got her to Sacramento. She looks back on a legacy of fighting for disaster relief and equal rights for all. Q. Which superhero do you visualize yourself as? A. “I love Wonder Woman – […]

New Arrivals
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Congratulations to Senator Monique Limón,who was sworn in as our new state senator in Sacramento on December 7 and is also a new mom to baby Gianna. 

Ojai Music Festival’s Virtual Holiday Home Tour & For-real Shopping
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Every November, I look forward to the Holiday Home Tour in nearby Ojai that benefits the annual Ojai Music Festival, now entering its 75th year. Organized by the OMF Women’s Committee, this year, due to COVID, they have done a terrific job of creating a video tour of three lovely homes. Narrated by architect/designers Steve […]

New to the ‘Hood: Meet Mark Osiel
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Mark Osiel is a lawyer, author, and law professor who holds the Aliber Family Chair at the University of Iowa. So, what’s he doing in Summerland? Well, he adds yet another accomplished and interesting citizen to the community for starters. Here’s a little to know about the professor and author. Q. You recently moved to […]

Ho! Ho! Holidaze!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 10, 2020

Santa’s elves have been working hard to prepare Summerland emporiums with festive atmosphere and sparkling gift choices for the holiday season. In fact, most places were already sporting Christmas trees and décor the weekend before Thanksgiving and more than 45 flocked wreaths had already flown out the door like hot cakes at Field + Fort, […]

Home, Sweet Hacienda
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Hacienda, by Bonita Lifestyle, the latest incarnation of retail shopping therapy in Summerland by Rita Villa, opened its doors mid-November. Located just down the street from the Summerland Beach Café (and in the same row as Garde on the street behind the liquor store), the shop is the culmination of the many years of Rita’s […]

Going With the Flow
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Have you noticed how the Highway 101 traffic flow has changed with the construction work now in full swing? Heading north from the Padaro Lane onramp through Summerland, most of the traffic was traveling in the right lane – due to the white cement barriers, which do make the fast lane scarily hairy! There are […]

Warning: Follow the Rules, Please!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Even movie stars and the rich and famous need to play by the rules, so it should seem simple for the rest of us mere mortals. At a Summerland Architectural Board of Review meeting a few years back, the board approved a 26,000-square-foot house (by virtue of a variance on the 25-acre beachfront property) for […]

Offshore Oil Well Clean Up! A Post-Election Day Gift
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 19, 2020

Construction crews are carrying out important cleanup work on two of Summerland’s leaky, abandoned oil wells located just offshore. The work should be completed by November 15, but in the meantime a portion of Lookout Park’s parking lot and the beach area are temporarily being used. Thanks to Heal the Ocean and former longtime Summerlandian […]

Virtual Vacation to Honduras
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 19, 2020

We could all use a virtual vacation. Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary board member Leslie Rugg reached out to me enthusiastically via email to get the word out about the parrot haven and rescue center in Summerland whose director of the Sanctuary is longtime Montecito resident Jamie McLeod. Birds with chronic conditions remain at the Sanctuary […]

Sports Legend Maria Sharapova buys Summerland Ranch
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

A warm Summerland welcome to sports legend Maria Sharapova, who has purchased one of my favorite properties. The retired (in February of this year) tennis player has purchased a five-acre ocean view compound in the hills for $8.6 million. The 33-year-old Russian has won more than $38 million in prize money – that’s not counting […]

101 Widening – Fasten Your Seatbelts!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

Will freeway noise be louder or quieter, during construction and/or when it is finished? How long will the construction take (spoiler alert: asteroid Bennu)? Will commuters take a short cut on the “Banner Avenue freeway” instead of the 101 or Lillie Avenue?  All these questions and more were answered during an informative 1.5-hour presentation by […]

Mega Mansions on the Market
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

For anyone wanting to live the Summerland version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” two of the town’s grandest estates are on the market. Both are owned by polo patrons: there are digs and playing fields for the horses that far outshine many Summerland beach shacks. Tuscany Oaks Farm, a seven-bedroom, 10-bath polo estate […]

A Matter of No Party Preference
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 29, 2020

In the newsroom of the Washington Post, Lou Cannon cultivated a reputation as a “reporter’s reporter.” Concealing his political loyalties was as much a matter of professional integrity as it revealed his facility to see both sides. “I’ve been a Democrat and I’ve been a Republican,” Cannon revealed during a recent Zoom conversation just before […]

On My Soapbox: To Agree or Not?
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 1, 2020

This week I’m taking the opportunity to sound off from my soapbox, since the lead item on the Summerland’s popularity vote “yea” or “nay” for a cannabis dispensary in town, which ran a few weeks ago, created quite a little stir that resulted in three letters to the editor printed over three issues. First, I […]

More Messages from ‘The Great Beyond’
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 17, 2020

Congratulations to Summerland-based author Cynthia Hamilton, whose latest mystery book, the fifth in her private investigator Madeline Dawkins series, The Patience of Karma, came out this week from her new publisher, Severn River Publishing. This story revolves around three crimes, including a tragic boating accident off the coast of San Diego, some Santa Barbara shenanigans […]

Porch Opens: It’s in the Cards (Tarot Cards, That Is)
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 17, 2020

Porch, the popular Santa Claus Lane home, garden, and gift store, has moved from Santa Claus Lane and officially opened in its new location in the space long known as Just Folk on Lillie Avenue. With a new coat of white paint and the two-story space filled with lots of tempting items, large and small, […]

Not Safer At Home
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Quarantine can heighten the risk of domestic violence, but help is available Maria Carbonell gratefully remembers the week she took refuge at a Domestic Violence Solutions safe house eight years ago. “A lot of people didn’t know I went to a safe house. I never shared it with anybody,” says Carbonell, 52, in a recent […]

Santa Barbara Magazine Summer Issue Out: A Secret Message?
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

A reader called me to ask whether I knew why the summer issue of Santa Barbara Magazine with a wonderful, whimsical piece of cover art by Pedro de la Cruz included the number “45” on it? “Was the magazine promoting the re-election of our 45th president?” she pondered. Nope, this is not some subliminal message: […]

Space Opens in Carpinteria: You’re Invited!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Congratulations to Zelda Prune and her business partner Jonathan Brandan, who have opened the doors to their new home and garden showroom, Space, at 4856 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria. Stop by for some socially distant shopping, mint lemonade, and “safe” nibbles this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (August 28-30) from 11 am to 6 pm. Vintage […]