From a hip B&B (yes, that’s a thing) to a yuzu liquor that goes with everything, here’s the Best of the West this week

Solvang Rusack Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley

Dave Lauridsen

Vineyards at Rusack in the Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Inn

Victorian architecture and B&Bs are not typically my jam, but all that has changed thanks to a wonderful time at Santa Ynez Inn. They made our long-weekend stay totally seamless, helping us to set up our wine-tasting experience (they offer a wine passport that features complimentary tastings for two at over a dozen partner wineries), and went above and beyond to reserve Pedego electric bikes for us, which made the whole experience that much sweeter. If you haven’t visited the Santa Ynez Valley, it’s definitely worth a visit. —Jasmin Perez, digital strategy director 

Santa Ynez Inn

A  Cure for the Common Cold Remedy

When I was sick as a kid, my mom would always make me yuja-cha, a Korean citrus tea. She made it with the fruit known in the West as yuzu, a super-fragrant piece of citrus that invokes mandarins and lemons in its aroma and taste. It’s the near-end of citrus season in California, and while our food editors are cooking up some fab citrus recipes, I’ve been hoping to prolong the season in my cocktails. I have about a half-dozen yellow grapefruits left that I picked from a Buy Nothing neighbor’s tree, and I’ve been making simple, refreshing cocktails with a new Kumamoto-made yuzu liqueur called Yuzuri, plus ice, soda, half a grapefruit’s juice, and some simple syrup if I’m feeling sweet. A sucker for citrus, I dig this liqueur because it’s super yuzu-y—the creators take yuzu fruit, peel, and seeds, and steep them in rice and mountain water spirits. I attribute my success in fighting off a cold recently to dosing myself with my own version of cough syrup: a Yuzuri and Japanese whiskey hot toddy. —Dakota Kim, staff writer

Yuzuri Yuzu Liquor, from $36.99

The Last Frontier of Wonder

In case you forgot that Alaska is a moss-gilded fairyland of dewy fireweed and velvet-nosed billy goats, Portland- and Fairbanks-based filmmakers Woodruff Laputka and Tehben Dean are here to remind you that magic still exists in the West’s last wild frontier. Diving into a world two decades in the making, The Dean Family Farm follows farmer-artists Ranja and Jeff Dean (Tehben’s parents) at their homestead in Homer, Alaska. Meandering through a menagerie of art and animals, gardens and architecture, we are shown a truly unique lifestyle in the Last Frontier, where form meets function and where love lasts a lifetime. See more of Woodruff and Tehben’s gorgeous work at Woodteb.Heather Arndt Anderson, garden editor

Springtime Flower Fields

Springtime Flower Fields
Nena Farrell

Nena Farrell

San Diego’s northern beach town of Carlsbad has had one of its iconic attractions bud for spring: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are open and will continue to be until Mother’s Day in May. The Flower Fields are more than 70 acres of ranunculus blooms, with rows and rows of colors, each row containing a different strain and shade of ranunculus, ranging from pinks and reds to white, orange, and multicolor “café” rows. So far, only some of the sections are blooming, with sometime in April estimated to be the peak time. The ranch is also a farm that grows coffee beans, olives, and blueberries—and the blueberries will be available for U-pick for the first time ever this year. The blueberry fields aren’t quite ripe yet, so they will open in the coming days. If you’re itching for blueberries you might want to visit sooner rather than later before they’re all picked. —Nena Farrell, associate home editor

Flower Fields Tickets, from $16

Sleek and Sustainable Light Fixtures

Gio Task Light

Courtesy of Gantri

My parents have recently begun remodeling the Jack and Jill bathroom I grew up sharing with my older sister Gabrielle (of course this happens as soon as my days of living with them full-time are over). Regardless of the timing, I love me a good reno and am stoked that my architect mom is willing to hear my layman opinions. Perhaps my favorite part of any design project (as if I’ve been a part of many) is deciding on light fixtures. I recently learned of three new home lighting collections that just debuted in collaboration between design studio Ammunition and digital manufacturing platform Gantri: Carve, Gio, and Signal. Not just modern in their aesthetics, they also happen to be sustainable and durable—made from custom-engineered corn-based material—without being cheesy. The table-, floor-, and wall-mounted lights start at $148 and though I’ve added them to my Pinterest board for the bathroom remodel in hopes they find their way into the final project, Mama Wilson has the final say. For more details on the collection or to purchase, visit —Drake Wilson, editorial intern

30 Helens Agree: This Is Great News

I can’t go to South by Southwest—it’s canceled over COVID-19 fears. I can’t go to the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade, either, for the same reason. Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con is canceled, Ted 2020, the Facebook F8 developers’ conference….all the fun stuff is canceled. I did just learn a piece of news, however, that makes the prospect of being cooped up at home washing my hands over and over and eating stockpiled beans a lot more bearable: Assuming the electrical grid is still running and the interwebs remain connected, comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall are returning to television. Their cult-favorite sketch comedy show, something like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, but less zany and more darkly offbeat, originally ran from 1989 through 1995; the members haven’t been in front of cameras together since 2010. They’ll reunite for 8 episodes on Amazon Prime Video and are promising that many favorite characters will be reprised. Details, however, are, well, sketchy.  It’s not even clear when exactly we can expect to see KitH on the air. But 30 Helens agree: It’ll be worth the wait. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Santa Barbara Culinary Experience

Photo credit ©Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Did you know that Julia Child was a longtime resident of Santa Barbara? She was known to wander the farmers markets there well into her 80s, always on the hunt for the amazing produce and products from the region. Fans of the iconic chef can head down to celebrate her and the community she loved for an entire weekend, March 13-15, celebrating the food, wine, and chefs of Santa Barbara.  The weekend features a large selection of à la carte events, including a five-course dinner with chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco at Bettina, a luncheon from chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, cocktail making classes, and an afterparty at Alisal Ranch with chef Ludo Lefebre. —Ellen Fort, food editor

Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, from $25

Yakoda Drifter Carry-All Bag

I’m an amateurish fly fisherman, but the gear wade-and-cast centric Yakoda isn’t just for landing trout. Take their gear transport, for example. Durable fabric provides a rip-free enclosure for large loads, while a removable rigid mat provides structure—and a perch for changing in and out of waders. And the rope handles cinch the rim of the bag shut to keep everything in its place. Yakoda makes a range of other gear that I love, including a carabiner-mount pouch for a tin full of flies or a wallet, phone, or keys. —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Yakoda Drifter Carry-All Bag, from $179

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