Wishing all of Rancho Santa Fe a very happy New Year!

I thought I would write to you, dear reader, from my perspective of what it is like to work for a family-run newspaper. Most of you might have heard recently about the merging of other papers in town. The Rancho Santa Fe Record and Rancho Santa Fe Review are now one newspaper, which leaves one other one in town: Us!
More than two years ago, I met Jim Kydd at his office in Leucadia. At the time, I had no idea how becoming a columnist with the Rancho Santa Fe News would become such a wonderful part of my life. We sat together in his office two years ago during a rainstorm and discussed different names and story ideas for what has now become the title of my column, “Machel’s Ranch.” I had envisioned sharing stories about Rancho Santa  Fe in an “Around Town” section, including one special feature for that week.
Since that meeting, I have had the pleasure of meeting many Ranch residents. What I discovered under the eucalyptus trees is diversity and excitement in a seemingly quiet town. One of my first columns created quite a stir when I featured my own personal opinion on “renters in the Ranch.” I ended up attending a board meeting at one of the homeowner association meetings and took quite a beating from the committee.I guess renters don’t count in Rancho. They actually asked my husband if he was the little boy featured playing on the dirt lot (don’t ask). 
Now as I approach my two-year mark with “Machel’s Ranch,” I want to share with you why our newspaper is so special to Rancho Santa Fe. You might not know this, but my publisher actually helped launch the Rancho Santa Fe Review with Bob Page. With his experience there, Jim launched his own publication on the coast more than 23 years ago, which is now known as The Coast News. After Bob sold the paper in 2004, my publisher decided to push into Rancho Santa Fe.
Now going on more than five years as a leading newspaper in the Ranch, the Rancho Santa Fe News has become a vital source of community news to the residents. As a columnist covering social events, I have heard firsthand from residents how much they like our paper and love to read every issue.
As the other two papers merge, we are now left as one of the main resources for businesses and residents to turn to as another option for local news, marketing and any other media opportunities.
Our editorial staff that won first place last year in the Association of Free Community Newspapers awards beating out 3,000 other community newspapers. With one less paper off the street, the RSF News is proud to serve you and we are thrilled by your continued loyal readership that has built up over the last five years.
As I sit here writing this right before Christmas, there is a sweet place in my heart for all of those I work with here and have been privileged to meet because of this paper I am proud to represent. What is the back story on my paper? Family-owned and locally operated by Jim, there is an intimate quality you get as a reader here in North County. This newspaper is not by owned by investors or outside bankers, but by residents in North County working hard to give this community local news they might have missed in the other papers.
There is no coincidence that I made my way to this paper two years ago. I feel very blessed as I sit here in the twilight hours before I head home for the holidays. So happy New Year beloved Ranch residents. Your stories have touched upon my own soul, and has inspired me to keep finding more exciting happenings under the beautiful eucalyptus grove in Rancho Santa Fe.
Around Town
On the morning of Dec. 4, Vicki O’Rourke shared with me this great story on Santa Fe Christian:
“SFC Middle and Upper School students gathered in the gym for what was arguably the most spirited pep rally in SFC history in anticipation of the football team’s semi-final game that evening. The event was facilitated by KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report, a popular TV show that covers high school football in San Diego on Friday nights. The show sends a host and camera crew to one county high school each week to film the “Sonic Pep Rally,” which airs live on Friday mornings on the KUSI morning news and is edited into a segment for the Friday night show. 
Students arrived as early as 5:30 a.m. to decorate the gym and film segments for the show. Faculty, staff and parents all helped organize the event, and the men of SFC were on hand to provide donuts to students. The pep rally featured performances by the cheerleaders, the middle school boys singing the fight song, and head football coach Nick Ruscetta being “bowled” on a skateboard into giant, makeshift bowling pins. The event culminated with SFC students screaming for the “Sonic Sound Meter” and registering an amazing 124.9 decibels – third highest in the county!” Thanks Vicki for always keeping me in the loop with your fabulous school. For more information on Santa Fe Christian, please call (858) 755-8900.
On Dec. 12, Karian Forsyth hosted one of her spectacular spa parties. This was the third one I attended in 2009. On one of the rainiest days of the year, The Crosby has never looked more spectacular under the gray dangling clouds marking the Cielo mountains just outside Karian’s home. Guests enjoyed their spa treatments from Oxygen Spa in Solana Beach at discounted prices. I had my eyebrows waxed and tinted. OK, maybe I do try to hit that “Marilyn look” on occasion. Afterward, I indulged in a homemade chili served with cilantro, and that fabulous salad Karian always prepares with the blueberries. If you haven’t noticed, I do have a thing for salads. I have included a gorgeous shot of Karian with her friends! Thanks again for including me on your guestlist, Mrs. Forsyth.
On Dec. 15, I stopped by the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club and snapped a festive photo of Glen Preston, Carre Ridgway, Dottie McCrink, Ruth Preston and Sandy Somerville enjoying their Holiday Bridge party. Cookies, cakes and other wonderful assortments were enjoyed by all of the members there, while everyone played at their designated tables with their friends at the Garden Club. These lovely ladies were so sweet to me. They informed me they love reading the column, which made my week! Thanks so much for sharing your time and letting capture this holiday moment at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club.
On Dec. 17, my son Jackson Tuck celebrated Christmas with all of his best friends. This was his third year on the $10 and under gift exchange party. Let’s just say these children love to have fun just like the moms do! They played bingo, the latest Wii games and enjoyed pizza and Christmas cupcakes, while we sat on the patio and escaped the madness! Seven children and five adults in my townhome was pushing the maximum capacity. However, the party was a success. Just a quick tip for other moms out there looking to find goody bags for a future celebration, try the Dollar Tree in Encinitas, it’s wonderful, and close to Rancho Santa Fe. I captured a cute shot of Jackson with all of his friends in front of the Christmas tree, plus a photo of the mothers. This is my favorite party of the season.
On Dec. 18, I made another trip back to the Crosby to attend Joel and Tracy Levine’s holiday party with my husband Robin Shull. More than one year ago, Robin and I felt privileged to be invited to their beautiful wedding at the Crosby Country Club. Their beautiful home is set at the top of the Crosby with a beautiful view of the golf course with the hill tops lining the sky, which is just beautiful at night time. Thirty to 40 guests mingled mainly in the kitchen around all of the amazing food Tracy spent all day preparing. My favorite dish had to be her homemade spaghetti sauce, which Joel told me had been simmering on the stove all day before the party. Joel and Tracy made a holiday toast to all of their guests and then asked the “newlyweds” to come up (um, that would be us!) He asked Robin to make a toast, which he did, “We love you guys.” This drew a welcoming response from everyone. I have included a picture of Joel and Tracy, looking cozy in front of their Christmas tree. Thanks for thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Levine.
On Dec. 19, Matt and Lisa Williams hosted their annual Christmas party in Torrey Hills. Their daughter is Melissa Williams. She is known “around town” as one of the premier party planners for charities and she is one of my best friends. You might recall, she hosted my bridal shower this summer at Mille Fleurs. More than 30 guests enjoyed succulent sushi, homemade spinach and artichoke dips and an assortment of homemade cookies and cakes. With a disco ball in the main room, Matt cranked out the Lady Gaga, and other fabulous dance music, which had everyone dancing until midnight. I have included a gorgeous shot of Robin and Katie Shull from that evening.
Let’s just say, I’ve never been happier this Christmas season! Thank you to all of my friends and co-workers for bringing joy and inspiration to my life. If you have any fun events you would like me to cover this New Year, please e-mail me at mpenn@coastnewsgroup.com.

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