I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Final Glimpses of Lush Santa Barbara

Hello everyone,

Is it beginning to look like Spring where you are? We actually had a snow storm on March 21st (Eeek!) and while the weather has been milder in the last week or so, it feels like we're a looong way from warm sunny days. *sigh*

Our surrounding Nature may still be asleep but browsing through my iPhoto library I found some lovely lush pics from Santa Barbara that I'd forgotten to share with you guys. I hope it brings a little sunshine to you, wherever you may be!

More Lovely Roses
If you recall I dedicated a whole post to the gorgeous rose garden in front of the old Spanish Mission. Here's a few more shots I captured of its resident beauties.

Watching the Waves
In the 3 months I spent in SoCal I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that it rained. Virtually every morning when I looked out the window I was blessed with the welcome sight of blue skies and sunshine. Yay! Diane joked about how she could spot Canucks on the street because they're so under-dressed compared to most Californians. I certainly reinforced her personal theory. lol

After January the temperature started to really climb up and we got to enjoy temps in the high 70s. Woo hoo! What more perfect way to spend those precious days than by going to the ocean? We went to More Mesa and Arroyo Burro a few times, but towards the end Goleta Beach became our preferred hang out. It's close to town, doesn't require a lot of walking to get to and is relatively quiet.

Cherimoya on the beach. I don't think it can get much better than that!

After relaxing in the sun for a while we usually went for a nice walk on the sand.

Diane named this one "Little Carmi and the Big Ocean" ;-)

She also took this neat shot of our shadows.

We Heart Ojai
Ojai continued to be our #1 destination when we felt like a little day trip. We came to have our regular stops, such as the Raw Food World warehouse and Vicki's Pink Thrift and Vintage Store. We usually went between Thursday and Sunday so that we could take some time to meditate at the Krishnamurti library.

Pine Cottage has that quiet and sacred aura that can be sometimes felt in spiritual structures, so it took a while for me to even consider taking my camera out. I did sneak a couple of photos of the spacious living room. I just love how simple and open it is!

During our last visit to Ojai, however, the Krishnamurti Library happened to be closed to the public, as they were holding a group retreat. We still made the most of it by enjoying the peaceful surrounding grounds. We walked around the orange grove which was bursting with fruit...

... then had lunch while admiring the view of the nearby mountains. Such a gorgeous spot!

Often when we mentioned Ojai we were asked whether we had ever been to the Matilija Canyon Hot Springs. The exact directions to this wild treasure is generally kept quiet by the locals who wish to avoid the place becoming a tourist destination. A friend did explain to us how to get there, though, and we made a point to check it out before my return to Canada.

No wonder these hot springs are so revered; the location is absolutely awesome!

There was a super cool cloud formation above one of the hills.

There are several small pools where one can luxuriously bathe in. A couple were already taken when we arrived but we got what turned out to be the most perfect one of all! The view was lovely and the water's temperature was just right. A little slice of heaven... until a bunch of guys decided to show up with their beer and weed. So much for a quiet soak. ;-(

Look at this place, isn't it just amazing?

I was nestled against the big rock on the right, watching the water's reflection dance onto the wall. It truly was a magical place!

Here's a view from the pools. When I was editing the pic I realized that there was a woman lying on a rock. She was covered in mud so I hadn't noticed at the time. hehe

Can you see her?

Pretty much every day I went for a walk around Diane's neighborhood. Most of Santa Barbara is on a hill so it did provide for a good work out.

I don't know if you remember but in an earlier post I mentioned funny looking stems coming out of some of the agave plants? As it turns out, these kept growing and became covered with tiny flowers. Their shape made me think of the long neck of swans.

There were always so many beautiful flowers along my route.


These were my favorites. The bright purple color was sooooo stunning. Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture it right with the camera. Oh well, at least you get the idea...

I thought this was such an interesting tree; it had needles yet its branches sorta looked like palms. I just learned that it's known as Norfolk Island Pine.

I've come to realize that a lot of people keep citrus trees in their yard as mere decoration. It made me shake my head in sadness at the waste, but hey. I had to exert self-discipline whenever I walked by this mailbox. ;-)

To my utter delight jasmine started to bloom in the last week or so of my visit. I had fallen in love with their pungent fragrance last year and had been secretly praying I'd get a chance to enjoy them once more. The smell is so intoxicating, especially in the evening. 

There was a huge jasmine bush just one block from Diane's where I always made a point to stop and take the perfume in for a few minutes.

Trees all around town started to bloom.

Magnificent Magnolias

This is some kind of fruit but I have no idea what it is. Do you?
(Thanks to Marsha and Malilies, I now know that these are Japanese Plum, also known as Loquat.)

My preferred route took me towards the Mission, then I turned right to climb up the hill so that I could enjoy the beautiful view of the water as I walked back.


I have a few other miscellaneous pics to share, so please bear with me a wee bit longer... ;-) 

The Knitting Bug
Diane is really big into crafts; crochet, knitting, silk dyeing, you name it, not to forget spinning. I suppose it doesn't come as a great surprise that some of her passion rubbed onto me while I stayed with her. Shortly after my arrival she'd arranged for a few friends to get together at her place for a fiber arts night. I had brought along an old knitting project that I had set aside nearly 5 years previously.

See, I used to be an avid knitter. I mostly designed my own patterns: scarves, ponchos, socks, hats, sweaters, and even pants. So rewarding and fun and, best of all, meditative. Here's some of my creations from back then...

Don got into knitting as well and made the sweater in this next pic. Actually come to think of it he also made the fur mitts our little friend is wearing from a recycled coat we bought at a thrift store. We were quite craftsy, eh?

Then I discovered lace, which is known as the pinnacle of knitting. Someone described lace knitting as the art of "making holes on purpose." It may not sound as much but is such a joy to do! I love how delicate and airy lace looks. You don't really get a sense of what you're creating until the very end when you block your piece. It is then that the pattern reveals itself almost like magic.


Anyhoo, I got so involved in lace that I had like 4 different projects going at once at one point, that's when my left wrist decided to really give me trouble. My mom, who is also into crafts, has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome for many years. In fact she even had one wrist operated - not that it has done any real good, mind you. Sadly I started to suffer from the same condition. The pain got so intense that I had to put down my knitting needles altogether. It made me soooooo sad. For months, even years afterward my heart would ache whenever I saw a piece of knitted lace.

On the positive side, all the creative energy that used to go towards knitting was redirected towards writing and recipe creation. You've guessed it; it's at that exact time that I started this Sunny Raw Kitchen blog. So interesting how Life works, eh?

But back to Diane and her knitting bug... Shortly after that fiber arts meeting, I found a wonderful lace shawl at Vicki's Thrift Store in Ojai. That's when it occurred to me that I should carefully try my hands at knitting again and see what happens. Diane hooked me onto an incredible online community of knitters called Ravelry where I found my first project: Feather Duster. I've had to be especially mindful not to stress my left wrist too much, but so far so good. Woo hoo!

Just me being silly, proudly showing off my shawl's progress.

It was such a joy to knit; the yarn was oh-so-soft, the color stunning and the pattern easy and intuitive.

The finished Feather Duster shawl

Hang on, here's a close up so that you can better appreciate the pattern details.

Raw Potluck
I'll leave you on a foodie note... After the Holidays the local Raw Meet Up group got together for a potluck. It turns out that one of the organizers, Heather Baker, now shares a house with Taylor, aka Cherimoya Man. It's such a small raw world, I tell ya!

The yummies that were contributed.

Taylor had just returned from a retreat in Costa Rica organized by Raw Brahs for which he was a surfer instructor. He took the opportunity to tell us a little about his phenomenal time there.

Taylor and yours truly.

And that pretty much rounds up my wonderful time in sunny California. How I wish I could have brought some of that sunshine back with me! Oh well, 'til next time. ;-)