Bands of the Week

| Santa Clarita Living | August 20, 2015


Female Athlete of the Week: Kassi Massey

| Santa Clarita Living | July 16, 2015

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Currently a member of the Santa Clarita Blue Heat women’s soccer team, Kassi Massey scored three goals in two games over the last two weeks, including the game-winner in a 2-1 win against the Arizona Strikers last weekend and two goals in a 7-0 shutout over the Strikers.

Massey is also an experienced soccer coach who spent several years assisting various age groups of youth soccer around the Bakersfield area. She has been coaching junior varsity girls soccer at Liberty High School and running fitness and soccer clinics with the L.A. Strikers.

She played soccer at California State University, Bakersfield for four years and played for the Fresno Sidekicks and the L.A. Strikers. She also played semi-pro soccer in Austin, Texas for one season and played overseas in the Czech Republic with a professional team called FC Slovacko. fem athl kassi2

Combat Radio Brings Christmas to Kids

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | November 17, 2014

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combat radio cosplay and marinesSanta Clarita residents get to be involved in a special holiday event that has both celebrity sightings and a tremendous benefit to needy children. Combat Radio hosts an annual Christmas concert and toy drive for approximately 400 children and family members, who experience a “Polar Express” style bus ride to the event from Social Services and the Shelter for Domestic Violence.

Held at Salt Creek Grille in Valencia December 6, these children get a visit by SANTA along with some of Combat Radio’s celebrity guests, such as cast members of “Star Wars,” “The Avengers,” and almost 100 magicians and Cosplayers. Guests will have a complete brunch, a live music show and be a part of a live Combat Radio broadcast. Christmas trees and prizes are given away and EVERY child gets a present!

Donations and other proceeds assist with LSS/Social Services, including the purchase of Combat Radio’s two-disc Christmas CD featuring music and audio combat radio santa and childclips from previous guests, including the members of Oingo Boingo, Director TJ Scott (“Gotham,” and “Spartacus”) Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, “Jaws” screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, Kat Dyson (guitarist for Prince and Shelia E), cast members from “Ben 10,” “Monster High,” “True Blood,” “Robotech” and many more. The CD set is available on iTunes when you donate to the cause at: http://www.gofundme.com/ACombatRadioChristmas.

Valencia is the venue for an earlier event on Saturday, November 22—the COMBAT RADIO/WESTFIELD CHRISTMAS CONCERT AND TOY DRIVE. The performance will feature many of the artists on the Combat Radio Christmas Album, also supporting its work with Social Services. The festivities will include the Oingo Boingo Dance Party, with some of the original members of the ‘80s alternative rock group and a Combat Radio concert broadcast from the stage (at “Combat Radio HQ” on YouTube) featuring some of their best celebrity regulars, and an epic “silent auction” included! Bring an unwrapped toy valued at approximately $10-$15 and receive a battery of raffle tickets. The action begins at 4 p.m. at Westfield Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd. in Valencia. You can tune in to Combat Radio at http://www.latalkradio.com/Combat.php and follow Combat Radio at twitter.com/combatradio.

combat radio santa Wall-E and kids

November is National Adoption Month

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living, SC Women | November 16, 2014


If you have ever considered the idea of foster parenting or adopting a child, an upcoming meeting can give you some specifics about the process. The Children’s Bureau invites individuals and couples to become Resource Families to care specifically for children during the reunification process with their parents. There are also children currently in foster care who are unable to return to their families of origin. Children’s Bureau encourages caring families to consider foster-adopting these children. Families who have the willingness, ability and resources to care for teenagers, older children and sibling sets are also invited. The monthly information meeting for those interested in learning more is on Saturday, November 22, 2014  from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Community Room (Level 1 by LOFT), 24201 W. Valencia Boulevard in Valencia.

Children’s Bureau encourages individuals (single or married), who are interested in helping children find the love, stability and support a family can provide, to contact Children’s Bureau. Qualifying families receive training, certification and support. For more information, call (661) 208-4212 or visit the website www.all4kids.org. An information packet or application may be requested by filling out a request form on the website, if desired. An application may also be printed directly from the website.

For 110 years, Children’s Bureau has been a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. More than 28,000 children and families are helped each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, mental health counseling, foster care, foster-adoption and more.

A Renaissance in Riverside Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | November 15, 2014

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by Marilyn Hackett

Mission Inn

Mission Inn

Riverside?  That’s not a city that immediately comes to mind as a get-away spot. If you leave around 11:00 a.m. you can manage it in 90 minutes. I was raised in Riverside. I go there to see my Uncle Wes and Cousin Wanda. When I return there I don’t search out my old schools and houses where I grew up. My parents have passed, so childhood milestones passed with them. But, there is one place I do search out while visiting family: The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa.

The Mission Inn has never been a mission. It started in 1876 as a 12-room adobe boarding house. The Inn grew

Spanish Patio

Spanish Patio

as orange crops once made Riverside the richest city in the United States. Mission revival architecture and lush landscaping transplant you immediately to Spain, Tuscany or the Yucatan. In the distance you can see the Mt. Rubidoux Cross, where the first sunrise service in the country took place in 1909. I used to hike up there at Easter with a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate.

This National Historic Landmark and member of the Historic Hotels of America occupies an entire city block. Famous aviators, celebrities, Albert Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt and the U.S. Presidents of my generation (except Barack Obama) have stayed there. Book a tour and learn about the clock tower, music room, gardens, Tiffany stained glass windows in the chapel, bells from A.D.1247, a rotunda and spiral staircase, tavern, museum, art galleries, a Presidential lounge and the two macaw lovebirds. Enjoy shopping at the pedestrian mall—literally one step outside the hotel. Stop by the Fox Theater, where “Gone with the Wind” had its premiere.

There are four restaurants serving steaks, Italian, Mexican, and comfort meals. A modern style bar, 54 degrees, is a recipient of the Bacchus Award for the most outstanding wine selections. For steak, dine at the luxurious AAA 4-star rated “Duane’s.” Our server, Dave, brings back the days when you are served with charm, grace and dignity. The food is outstanding. You can keep busy two full days and nights at the Inn just eating and working out at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Do not miss the experience of Kelly’s Spa, ranked #10 in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top 50 Hotel Spas in the United riversideSpa HallwayStates.” The eucalyptus steam and cold cucumber face towels are complimentary to each guest of the hotel. You can spend the entire afternoon at the pool, Jacuzzi, outdoor spa patios and in the tranquil sitting lounges. Carmen is a Swedish massage “ther-artist” (a therapist that elevates what she does to an art).You’ll levitate on the warmed table, massaged with hot fragrant oils by the glowing fireplace.

All the Staff at The Mission Inn have taken on the roles of guardians of the estate, welcoming you sincerely, with no false airs of pretentious sophistication. When I leave Riverside, I come away renewed from my visits with family and my old friend, The Mission Inn. Visit The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa during the Christmas Holiday, when it is lit up in a world famous display of lights.

For more information, contact The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa at WWW.MISSIONINN.COM.

Have You Got Sciatic Pain?

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | October 24, 2014


Pills or muscle relaxers can’t correct the nerve compression caused by a bulging disc or the pelvis.

Sciatica is a distracting pain that begins in the lower back/ pelvis and extends down one or both legs. It typically worsens with periods of sitting or standing.

The pelvis is most often involved and, at times, it also involves the discs. One important point is that a disc bulge and/or herniated disc on an MRI can be pain-free, while pain could come from an alignment condition. Most surgeons look only to to the disc bulge and not the alignment of the pelvis. Physical therapists will often focus on the muscles, therefore the sciatica can be misdiagnosed, which makes treatment unsuccessful.

Sciatica is the results of cumulative damage causing nearby nerve irritation and inflammation. The pain appears in the leg, but the culprit is often the lower back! This debilitating condition often gets worse with time and can cripple active people without treatment. So, before taking any harmful medication, having a dangerous surgery or doing physical therapy without results – ask yourself … is it worth the risk of getting increased pain that may worsen your condition? Why not try something less invasive.

Chiropractors have had concentrated and specialized training in this particular area. Fortunately, improving joint motion in the lower back with a program of chiropractic adjustments has produced results for many people. It all starts with a consultation and thorough examination. If we think we can help, we’ll tell you. And if we don’t think we can help, we’ll tell you that too and refer you to someone who we believe is able to give you satisfactory results.

For more information, contact Dr. Jessica M. Ekengren D.C. at Ekengren Chiropractic, 28212 Kelly Johnson Parkway. Ste. 120 in Valencia; (661) 254-9400/Fax (661) 254-9495.

Local Dentist: Inflammation Kills

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | October 22, 2014

Research shows there is a direct connection between oral pathogens and acute heart attacks and strokes, says Peter Elloway, DDS. The same pathologic bacteria found in diseased gum pockets are consistently found in the blood clots causing strokes and heart attacks. The gum pockets are the portal of entry to the rest of the body, a pathway to seriously affect vital organs.

According to research, says Dr. Elloway, increased systemic inflammation also is instrumental in the advancement of diabetes, chronic inflammatory diseases and increase in preterm birth rates.

Dr. Elloway is offering a free evaluation, which enables patients to learn more about his use of laser dentistry. To schedule an appointment, call 661-259-8755.

Earthquake – What About the Big One?!?!

| Santa Clarita Living | September 17, 2014

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Every newsworthy California temblor also shakes up discussions at the water cooler. Nobody seems more vulnerable than store owners – especially those with lots of breakables.

“It reminds us where we live,” said Guy Lelarge, owner of Valencia Wine Co. in Santa Clarita. “Are we prepared? No. If a big one hits, I lose a lot of wine.”

Without the power to predict the magnitude, business owners often just roll with the punches and hope for the best.

“Most bottles are in racks, so it’d have to shake pretty hard to bring it down. It makes me drink more wine, as the owner,” joked Lelarge.

Fonzie Diaz from Bella Venezia Home & Decor in Santa Clarita is equally positive about the outcome of an earthquake in the future. “Truth be told, everything in here is so incredibly heavy and solid, I would really prefer to be here in an earthquake,” said Diaz.  “Probably the wall art I’d be worried about, because there are mirrors and what not.”

If you’re in the insurance business, you have likely already analyzed the possibilities.

“First you worry about the safety of the individuals and then you worry about the safety of your home,” said Richard Paul Aguilar of Richard Paul Aguilar Financial Services.

“When you buy a house in California you are offered earthquake insurance and have 30 days to accept. Most people do not buy earthquake insurance,” said Aguilar. “It’s costly, the deductibles are very high. Those who do are … concerned consumers. There’s a cost, but they understand the value.”

Insurance agent Greg Nutter remembers a time when the cost was actually a bargain.

“I’ve been in the insurance business for 25 years,” said Nutter. “An earthquake policy 25 years ago was $100 a year for $100,000. After the ‘94 quake, it became a State (of California) thing.”

Though it has its similarities to other forms of insurance, an earthquake policy has a unique target. “It’s not for the cracks and scratches, it’s catastrophic insurance,” said Aguilar.

The real question is — is the SCV ready for a big quake?

“I think Santa Clarita has a good action plan in force,” said Aguilar. “That’s the City. But the residents – no.”

The thought of “the big one” doesn’t rattle Nutter at all. “It is what it is,” he said. “The bottom line is, for someone buying a new house, if they’re putting the minimum down payment, don’t buy earthquake insurance.  If you own your house outright, I tell people you have to have earthquake insurance.”

“I’ve thought about it lots of times,” said Diaz. “A few small ones – not like what recently happened in Northern California. We’ve been very, very lucky.”

Caltech Earthquake Seminar
Caltech Administrator Margaret Vinci will hold a free presentation on the different magnitudes, threats & warning systems associated with natural disasters. Hosted by the City of Santa Clarita, no registration is required for the informational meeting, held on September 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Old Town Newhall Library,
25000 Main Street in Newhall.

Valencia Wine Co.: Valenciawine.com
Bella Venezia: Bellavenezia.biz
Richard Paul Aguilar: Richardpaulaguilar.com
Greg Nutter: Insurancesantaclarita.com

Halloween Pawsome Pet Tips

| Santa Clarita Living | September 16, 2014

A favorite holiday for people can be a doggone nightmare for our pets! The following tips will keep you and your kids safe for Howl-a-ween.

Trick-or-Treat candies are pawsitively toxic for pets. Chocolate — especially dark chocolate – can be lethal for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include increased heart rate, diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet experiences any of these, see a vet — stat!
Keep pets confined inside and away from the door. Not only will your doorbell be constantly ringing and your door creaking open and closed on Halloween, but spooky strangers will be dressed in crazy costumes and screaming for their candy. Your furry friend is not a fan and will be especially territorial and stressed out.
Keep outdoor cats inside for several days before and after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not release black cats for adoption during the month of October as a safety precaution.
Wear pet-friendly and approved Halloween costumes. If you do decide that Fido or Fifi needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, vision or the ability to breathe, drink, eat, bark and meow. Do a Halloween dress rehearsal with the costumes to make sure pets are not in distress, allergic or show abnormal behavior. As an option, fun bandanas, bows and bling will work just fine for those “party poopers.”

Make sure that your pet IDs are ON THEM and the microchip information is up to date.

After all the howl-a-ween festivities, how about a pet spa day?

Hollywood Mobile Pet Grooming: (888) 665-7766 or visit www.gohollywoodgrooming.com.

Pet Sitting — Paradise or Perilous?

| Santa Clarita Living | September 15, 2014

Most of us have wondered, at one time or another, what animals say and do when humans aren’t around. There have been books, movies and plays written about it. Those who might know most about that scenario are the pet sitters, who normally have one or two strange-but-true stories to tell.

“The most unusual thing I ever pet sat was a frog and some fish,” said Trina MacDonald, a certified dog trainer and owner of All Four Paws Pet Care in Santa Clarita. “Normally, though, it’s cats and dogs.”

Like most pet sitters, MacDonald goes to the client’s home to feed, walk and care for the animals. “They’re much happier at their own homes,” she said.

Nikki Ledingham of Got Paws Pet Sitting and Dog Walking in Santa Clarita goes to the homes of clients with a free consultation, where she meets them, the pet(s) they’ll be caring for, and gets to know the routines and “lay of the land.” One of her four-footed clients was named “Spike.”

On her first pet sitting visit, the pet sitter took Spike for “a brisk walk around the neighborhood, and then returned home so I could feed him his dinner,” said Ledingham. “As I was walking toward the pantry to retrieve a can of dog food, I heard a voice croon from down the hallway, ‘What a pretty girl!’”

The house was supposed to be empty, except for Spike. “I was shocked to hear a voice,” said the pet sitter, “not to mention a bit afraid for my safety, because this person was trying to hit on me!”

Ledingham called out, “Hello?” and the voice responded with, “Hello!”

As it turned out, Spike’s owner had forgotten to mention her pet parrot, Molly, because she wouldn’t require any special attention during the short weekend that the owner would be away.  “A few heartbeats lost and a few grey hairs later – just another day as a pet sitter, a job that is certainly never boring!” she said.

Another Got Paws sitter encountered a rattlesnake in the backyard of a client’s home. “Brave and industrious, she killed the snake just as it was getting ready to strike the dog,” said Ledingham. “Death by decapitation – via a pooper scooper-wielding, eight-months-pregnant Got Paws pet sitter!”

Erik Ennabe of Doggy Duty US in Santa Clarita ran across the same troublesome reptile on a pet sitting job. “I walked into a backyard and I got wacked in the face by a rattlesnake. Not high on the list of things pet sitters encounter,” he said.

The snake had bitten his client’s pet — a weiner dog (dachshund) weighing only about 10-12 pounds.

“There were a couple of things in my favor,” Ennabe explained. “I have an extremely detailed pet sitting software … it had the vet history.  Before panic set in, I knew which vet to contact. Second was the emergency response, (which says) make sure the dog is stable, wrap it firmly to reduce blood circulation so venom doesn’t go through the body.  Then I secured the other pet in its crate.”

Also on top of the emergency process were the dog’s owners. They had a release on file with the vet for anti-venom treatment. While those owners thought of everything, Ennabe had one pet sitting scare, when he spent hours searching for the dog he was supposed to be caretaking. “It’s funny, in hindsight,” said Ennabe. “The dog would play with a chew toy behind the toilet. Silently.”

The dog owners didn’t tell Ennabe about their pet’s preference, and the bathroom was the last place he expected to find a hiding animal.

A miscommunication was also at the heart of a pet sitting situation experienced three years ago by Raul Castro of Santa Clarita Pet Nanny. “An old client of ours had just moved, so he left me a key to his new house in a hiding spot. The bad news was, the key did not fit the lock!” said Castro. “I tried calling him, but the call went directly to voicemail. I started looking for open doors – I went around to the backyard and the two dogs were there, but the sliding glass door was locked. I looked to the side … and noticed a doggie door. Luckily, one of the two dogs was large, so the door was just big enough for me to squeeze through, and I did.”

There are always built-in problems, partly due to the physical nature of the job, such as “the occasional phone that drops out of your pocket while on the job,” said Ledingham. “If you’re lucky, just the screen cracks. If you are unlucky, it plops into the poop you were leaning over to scoop up or, worse yet, flies out during a hearty game of fetch and into the deep end of the pool!”

Like most businesses, the biggest challenge may be marketing your services. “Building the pet sitting business from scratch,” said Ennabe, who left a job in Ventura and moved to Santa Clarita a year ago with his wife and baby. “But, pet sitting brought me back to my true love – I get to be a stay-at-home father.”

Nikki Ledingham Got Paws Pet Sitting and Dog Walking

Trina MacDonald All Four Paws Pet Care

Erik Ennabe Doggy Duty U.S.

Raul Castro Santa Clarita Pet Nanny

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