Machel's Ranch

Strawberries for love and the return of Lemon Twist

On Mother’s Day, I did not eat a fancy brunch at the Rancho Santa Fe Country Club like some other local mothers did. Instead, I sold strawberries for love at Lemon Twist.
In case this is your first column of mine to read, Lemon Twist is a fruit stand and produce shop that local resident Katie Shull started more than 30 years ago in Rancho Santa Fe. Since that time, her business had become widely known for its organic fruits, floral designs, pottery, gifts and chocolate-dipped strawberries.  
In 2007, Lemon Twist donated all of the centerpieces to The Country Friend’s Fashion Show. It was also one of The Crosby’s main suppliers of floral arrangements, including numerous weddings and events. Business was booming for Lemon Twist with their suburb location right between Cielo and The Crosby.
Then, three years ago, a fire started over the weekend before Halloween. That weekend, more than 1 million residents were evacuated from their homes during the Witch Creek Fires, including us. We received our reverse 911 phone call at 5:30 a.m. At that time, I had just begun dating my husband, Robin Shull. He managed Lemon Twist for his mother, Katie.
I don’t think I will ever forget that morning, how we had driven against traffic on Del Dios Highway, trying to reach Lemon Twist. Everyone was evacuating and we were fighting to get in, with the mission of salvaging a few things just in case the fires did reach Rancho Santa Fe. The next morning when we found out Lemon Twist burned down, I was with Robin and his family. Ironically, when we received the phone call, Robin’s mother Katie was sharing family videos of her three children growing up over the years. When we heard the news, Katie said, “At least we are all safe, here together.”
If someone had to ask me when I knew I would marry my husband, I could pin-point it to that very weekend of the fires. They say during a crisis you learn a lot about those you love and how you react during certain situations. That weekend, Robin’s family took me in, along with my son (and my cat). We had seven people crammed into a one bedroom in Oceanside, with three dogs, too.
What can I tell you? That day that Lemon Twist burnt down, we all cried together, like many others did that week, too. I didn’t know a fruit stand could break your heart, but it broke mine that day we lost it in the fires. I had met my husband there for the first time three months prior. I would help him dip chocolate covered strawberries, while listening to the eucalyptus trees blowing gently behind the stand. Jackson and I would go there and visit Robin for hours. It had a familiar quality that reminded me of simple things like I used feel, while growing up on a farm in Missouri.
So imagine me now, almost three years later, finally standing there on Mother’s Day, with the business re-opened. This may seem from the outside looking in that selling strawberries on that particular day has less appeal than the big brunch ticket at a country club. However, if you could’ve seen my son’s expression every time someone arrived.  Jackson would yell, “Mom, there’s another customer” with the biggest smile. I would answer, “I know, how exciting!”
No, I didn’t eat a fancy brunch on Mother’s Day. Instead, I stood next to my husband and son and sold strawberries for love. After all, it’s what is in your heart that truly matters. How lucky for me. Come see us when you can. Lemon Twist is now open for business. Maybe next year I’ll eat some eggs, too. For more information check out
Around town
On April 23, I received word from local North County local resident John Riedy that he had just flown back from Iraq. That’s right. John was just one of six photojournalists chosen to help educate the Iraqis on free press. Once overseas, John had to prepare PowerPoint presentation, which focused on these three objectives: creating the image (storytelling and objectivity), gear and post production. “We spent five days in Iraq, three of which were filled with the conference. There were approximately 50 to 60 Iraqi journalists in attendance. The crux of our message to the Iraqis was, here’s how we do it in the west; it may not be the best way, but you want to create a product that can be picked up by western media outlets, so the Iraqis can be the one controlling the perception of the world’s country,” John shared with me. He was kind enough to share one of his photos from his amazing experience. John is a sought-after wedding photographer in the San Diego area, and the proud father of two boys. He is married to Becky Riedy, and they reside happily in the La Costa area, just around the corner from Rancho Santa Fe. If you would like to learn more about his experience in Iraq, visit Congratulations on such a thrilling experience, John.
On April 27, Mille Fleurs hosted its first Tapas and Tunes on Tuesdays, DJ Night, at 7 p.m. I ran into Dolce owner Dr. Anthony Smith, along with gal pal Krista Lafferty. I took a picture of them inside the bar, just before the party started outside. More than 50 to 60 guests enjoyed the light fare menu, while sipping on their cocktails under the stars in the lovely courtyard. This was just the first of many more to come for summertime, I’m sure. Stay tuned for the next evening. Trust me, this is one you don’t want to miss next time. For more information, call (858) 756-3085. Thanks for the invite, Mille Fleurs.
On April 29, Fine Magazine held their F2 Fashion Show at the Del Mar Hilton. More than 300 guests and clients attended this exciting gala. Proceeds were given to Kid’s Corps, “to support various learning projects that Kid Corps operates,” said Fine Magazine’s editor Laurie Alternbern. Some of the featured designers on the runway were GRACIE, GSB Men’s Clothier, The Lizz Russell Collection and P.J’s Hats. The buffet was catered by Que Pasa, my favorite Mexcan restaurant in town, and desserts were provided by Cupcake Love and Incredible Edibles. Summer fashion was the theme on stage, with a finale that included elegant gowns and a wedding dress. Who needs New York Fashion week, when we have such a fabulous life in San Diego? What you may not know is Laurie Alternbern will be running in the half-marathon June 6 at the famous Rock-n-Roll Marathon. How exciting, maybe I can be there at the finish line to share some cool photos from that day!??
On May 3, Vicki O’Rourke, the admissions director of Santa Fe Christian, shared with me the thrilling news that two seniors, Jenna Puterbaugh and Olivia Gardner, have received and accepted full scholarships to USC. How exciting! Jenna Puterbaugh is one of the top sprinters in the state. Her full ride to USC is an athletic scholarship. Olivia Gardner was awarded a Trustee Scholarship. Both girls attribute their success to Santa Fe Christian’s excellent academic and athletic departments to their recent found achievements. Let’s wish these two lovely girls the start of a brand new journey and keep only positive thoughts in our hearts for their journey. Thanks Vicki for sharing the exciting news with “Machel’s Ranch.” Maybe one day soon, my son will be lucky enough to attend Santa Fe Christian School. Another tidbit regarding a Santa Fe Christian student is Ranch resident Albert Plattner’s daughter Keziah Plattner was accepted to Stanford University. I will be featuring more photos in my next column of outstanding seniors in the community.
Later that day, Chip Levinson took some pretty cool photos of the Rancho Santa Fe Little League teams at Solana Santa Fe in Fairbanks. I have included Jake Robbins “up to bat” here as the featured little league player this week. The Bulls didn’t win the game that day, but they did later that weekend at the YMCA Ecke Field in Encinitas. Thanks Chip for the fabulous photos.
On May 6, I met Maria Pegram at the Rancho Santa Fe Cielo Village Certified Farmers’ Market. Maria lunched the Cielo Market’s on April 8. Due to poor weather the first couple of weeks were slower, but the word is spreading about this exciting new event on Thursdays. There are more than 20 vendors with an array of choices, from hummus, to fresh fruit, jewelry, organic produce, and other fabulous choices. For your next Thursday afternoon, show your support to the community and check out this lovely farmer’s market, from 2:30 to 7 p.m. For more information call, Maria Pegram at (858) 679-1343. ??
On May 7, Jere and his wife Joyce Owen were honored for their donation to the Scripps Cancer Center, Stevens Division in the form of a charitable gift annuity in honor of their good friend, Elizabeth Staley Sanger, who recently died from cancer. They made a gift donation of $100,000, toward fighting cancer. After recently losing a good friend to pancreatic cancer, I wanted to honor Jere and his wife Joyce for their generous donation. It is also rumored around town that Jere canceled a few of his summer cruises and used that money to buy a new roof for the newly constructed Village church. Jere Owen is also an active member of the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club. If you see him, congratulate him for his huge heart for all of his recent good Samaritan acts in the community. If you are interested in making a charitable annuity gift, call (858) 678-7120.?
Summer hats
This summer, find your favorite hat to beat the heat, and save your skin from more wrinkles. Do wear sunscreen, and most of all, don’t forget to look stylish, while looking young and hip. Featured here is Meredith MacDonald wearing a “Toby Keith hat” spotted at Mille Fleurs recently with good friend Karian Forsyth. If you have any stylish summer hat photos, please send them to me. I would love your photo in my next “Machel’s Ranch.”