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By 1899, Visalia was poised for a big laundry upgrade, with machinery powered by steam. But the early years were not without problems.

Lauren and Daniel Westra are busy giving their 1930s’ Craftsman home a facelift, growing three businesses and raising a family.

8 Letter from the Executive Editor 10 Word Play 16 Finance




20 Kudos


44 Icelandic Cocktails: Icelandic Vodka

David Vartanian of the Vintage Press offers a series of recipes for a chilled shellfish platter, blood orange ice cream, skillet-roasted black mussels and ahi tuna with wasabi vinaigrette (left).

50 Literary Arts: Dr. Alan Sproles

48 Next Gen: Joshua Banda

54 Fashion: The Big Closet Cleaning 56 Honors: Tulare Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards 58 Happenings



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This island just below the Arctic Circle offers dramatic scenery created by prolific geothermal activity and its population centers that provide much to see and do.

COVER: Lauren Westra has maintained the home’s farmhouse aesthetic with wood furniture and wood floors. TOP: The Westras’ home is believed to be a Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit house from the 1930s.


Published By

DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291

Karen Tellalian

Executive Editor

Creative Director Art Director Senior Designer Web Designer/Designer

Greg Bitney Marcie Vagnino Frank Miramontes Kaci Hansen

Contributing Writers Cheryl Levitan David Vartanian Diane Slocum Kelly Lapadula Lisa McEwen Penney Sick Sharon Mosley Terry L. Ommen Business Management Malkasian Accountancy LLP Gary Malkasian CPA Jeffrey Malkasian EA Operations Manager Maria Gaston

Advertising Sales

Sales Office 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.739.1747 • Fax 559.738.0909

E-Mail WEBSITE View The Mag Online Instagram: visalialifestyle

RACK LOCATIONS DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare

Exeter Chamber of Commerce Tazzaria Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center

Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center

COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS 210 Cafe AMCC Arts Consortium Arts Visalia Ashoori & Co. Jewelers Blend WIne Room Bravo Farms Smokehouse Café 225 Chad Clark Hair Salon Charcuterie Chelsea Street Boutique Citizen's Bank CreekSide Day Spa Skin & Laser Center Downtown Visalia Alliance Ed Dena Auto Center, Visalia Exeter Chamber of Commerce

For Such a Time Boutique Franey's Design Center Fugazzis Glick's and Co. ImagineU Children’s Museum Janeen’s Furniture Gallery Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality Max's Cookies Metropolis Day Spa Michael's Custom Jewelry Monét’s, Exeter Pacific Treasures Premier Medical Clinic Renaissance Salon Sage Salon Salon 525

Sherman & Associates Tazz. Coffee The Gardens at Cal Turf The Looking Glass V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Ceramic Tile Visalia First Assembly Visalia Fox Theatre Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Watson's Wildflower Café, Exeter Williams, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc. Wyndham Hotel

Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,600 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia. An additional 2,000 copies are distributed at various distribution points around Visalia, Tulare, and Exeter. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers. Circulation of this issue: 15,600 © 2018 DMI Agency

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ou know, I cannot help but be pulled in by a good story. I didn’t plan it, as this year’s Super Bowl, for a lot of reasons, did not interest me much. As it turns out, the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New England Patriots might be the greatest Super Bowl story in football history. This was not just a story of an unlikely upset or the underdog winning. After Eagles’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz went out with a season-ending knee injury, nobody gave the Eagles a chance to win without him. Without much ado, in walks

creative services to operations, when the ball is thrown their way, they catch it and run toward the goal line and I’m proud of how well they do that, day in and day out. So far, it’s been a warm February, so if you feel like you’re missing out on winter, this month’s Traveler’s Trek takes us to Iceland. Regular travel contributor Cheryl Levitan always points us to the most fascinating places and “Reykjavik Iceland” is no exception. With the recent low airfares and frequent northern lights displays, Iceland has become a very popular winter

Our wins come through the efforts of an entire “behind the scenes” team, and although they are not always the one on the podium, they are the ones responsible for our success. E X E C U T I V E





the most unlikely hero, backup quarterback Nick Foles. Throwing 373 yards for four touchdowns to beat the Patriots and win the Super Bowl, Foles was legitimately named Most Valuable Player. But Foles, like so many leaders, had help from those perhaps not pegged to be heroes. Of course, I cannot speak for every situation, but I do know that it is true for my own small business. Our wins come through the efforts of an entire “behind the scenes” team, and although they are not always the one on the podium, they are the ones responsible for our success. From sales to

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destination. For more about Cheryl’s adventure to Iceland, as well as some interesting culinary tastes, turn to page 38. If you cannot swing a trip to Iceland just yet, do not despair as we bring some of our favorite Icelandic drinks, like “Lightning on My Feet” and “Iceberg Paralyzer” starting on page 44. They’re made with Reyka vodka; don’t tell us we didn’t warn you. As February comes to a close, we hope that everyone is happy, healthy and looking forward to the next great story, yet to be written.

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WO R D PLAY News on writing, books + the world of publishing


or a short month, February has a lot of holidays. Here are a few books celebrating them. “Groundhug Day” (Disney-Hyperion, December), by Anne Marie Pace, celebrates a combination of Feb. 2 and 14 with a story about a groundhog who might miss a Valentine’s party if he sees his shadow. Not new, but freshly reprinted by Forgotten Books, are “The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln” (December) and “The President’s Words: A Selection of Passages from the Speeches, Addresses, and Letters of Abraham Lincoln” (January). “Valentine Coloring Books for Adults: Happy Valentine’s Day (Love Coloring Book)” by Sweetie Valentine (published in January) offers adults the opportunity to relax with crayons and designs of love. The reprint edition of “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge” (published in January by Atria) tells the story of an enslaved young woman who ran away while the first president’s family was stationed in the new country’s temporary capital in Philadelphia, where slavery was frowned upon. After Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, comes Ash Wednesday and Lent. Lent is known as a time of sacrifice and guilt. Sarah Parsons, in her book “A Clearing Season: Reflections on Lent” (Upper Room, December), treats it as a time to celebrate a spring-cleaning of the soul. VALLEY WRITERS Some of our Valley artists are also Valley writers. On his website at, Larry Hill’s account of how his art career developed is a good story in itself, but he also has a section on his published 10 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8

writing. Fresno Bee writer Donald Munro also published one of Larry’s descriptions of his early influences with the headline “For Larry Hill, this storyline goes back to Jackson Pollock.” Larry is also a frequent contributor to the Fresno Bee. One of his pieces is “Fire, fury and the end of Terry and the Pirates.” These and others of Larry’s writings can be found by googling Larry Hill, artist.

Artist Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens continue their collaboration on books featuring Janice’s writing and Pat’s watercolors in “Breaking Bread with William Saroyan.” The book spotlights recipes from Saroyan’s heritage in Bitlis, Armenia; restaurateur George Mardikian’s “Dinner at Omar Khayyam’s” and from the First Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno. More than 40 of Pat’s original paintings illustrate Saroyan’s favorite foods and locales. CHARACTER NAMES How do the names associated with February stack up in popularity, according to Social Security’s database on names? If you have a character born from 1900 to 1911, George would be a good choice. The name of the father of our country ranked number four in

popularity during those years. It’s less common for a youngster born between 2009 and 2012. Since 1900, Abraham peaked at number 124 in 1911 and dropped to a low of 449th in 1943. Even so, there were a few World War II babies with that name, and your character could be one. Abe has been staging a slow comeback ever since, climbing to 158th in 2016. While Honest Abe’s first name climbs slowly, Lincoln as a first name has soared from number 898 in 1996 to 50th in 2016. It is a particularly unlikely name for a baby born in 1986, when it was number 999. The first name of Washington has not had the popularity of Lincoln, but if a character has that name, he would most likely be born in the first decade of the 1900s, around the same time that George peaked. In any decade, Valentine would be more unusual than George. Its high ranking was number 409 in 1903 and it almost dropped off the chart at number 981 in 1947. WRITING CONTEST The North Street Book Prize offers self-published authors the opportunity to win a grand prize of $3,000 plus marketing services. In its fourth year, the contest accepts fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and picture books. Each of the category winners receives $1,000. The submission period is from Feb. 15 to June 30. Fee: $60. Details at: north-street-book-prize. THE LAST WORD “Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.” – George Washington “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln L


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Steam Powers its Way into Visalia T E X T


here is an old expression that says “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” It’s a phrase that has its roots deep in world history, but to those who know Visalia’s past, the saying could easily have originated here. Early Visalians had a passion for cleanliness, especially for clean clothes. Laundry businesses were established early and often, and were usually small and family-owned like the tiny 1860 American Laundry at the corner of Garden and Center streets, or the family-run 1859 San Sing Laundry at Courthouse Square. By the end of the 19th century, however, the Visalia Board of Trade recognized the need for a more modern laundry. With the blessing of this booster organization, Visalia was poised for a big laundry upgrade. On July 20, 1899, a group of Visalia businessmen filed articles of incorporation for the Visalia Steam Laundry, a new type of cleaning business using steam. The steam generated would not be used to

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clean clothing directly, but rather it would be the power source that drove the cleaning machinery, a big improvement over a hand laundry. One hundred shares of stock were issued for the new venture, with local businessmen snapping up the shares quickly. Walter J. Peacock, one of the shareholders, was named plant manager and the first board of directors consisted of S.C. Brown, E.O. Miller, A.G. Wishon, S. Mitchell and E.C. Farnsworth. The company purchased the best

equipment available and installed it in the existing brick building that sat on the southeast corner of Center and Cottonwood (now called Encina Street), a building formerly owned and occupied by the Visalia Gas, Light & Heat Co. On Sept 14, the new company invited the public to preview the facility and its operations. The crowd gathered, the switch was pushed, and the equipment worked like a charm. Everyone was impressed, including a reporter for the Visalia Daily Times, who wrote, “It is gratifying to know that we have now the best equipment plant in the San Joaquin Valley.” Four days later, the doors opened to the public and the new business began. Visalia Steam Laundry started with four employees, but quickly grew. It was a popular company and for the next three decades, it developed an enviable reputation. The business added more and more services until it became a fullservice operation, including wagons for garment pickup and delivery.


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But the early years were not without problems. In 1914, W.J. Rinehart, a company delivery driver, was kicked unconscious by his horse while he was currying the animal. He survived, but the incident left him with a broken hip and lacerated scalp. Three years after that, the company had a close call when soot buildup in the smokestack caused a roof fire. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished. By the early 1930s, Frank O. Riddle and Herman A. Claberg were the new owners, and the company had grown to 25 workers. The laundry was on a roll, but the momentum was about to come to a dramatic halt. At 4:15 a.m. Aug. 22, 1936, disaster struck. While Visalia Police Officer Paul Finley was on patrol, he heard a loud explosion and saw flames shooting into the sky in the area around the laundry. At the same time, Leroy Owings, the night attendant at the Signal service station, heard the explosion and saw the flames. He sounded the alarm and firefighters responded quickly, however, the massive blaze had already engulfed the building. For three hours, firefighters battled the inferno, desperately trying to keep the flames from spreading. Despite their valiant efforts, burning embers drifted for nearly 10 blocks, causing two small


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structure fires and igniting several telephone poles. Fortunately, the other fires were quickly extinguished. When the fire was finally out, it was clear that the laundry was a total loss. All that remained were a few brick walls and a massive pile of tangled and disfigured metal, including the remnants of three company trucks and an automobile. There were human casualties, too. Walter Wood, a firefighter, stepped on a nail, which pierced his foot, and George Row, another firefighter, twisted his knee. None of the injuries was serious. Property loss was set at $35,000, but fortunately, no one was killed. Several people commented that if the explosion and fire had occurred during a laundry work day, many lives would likely have been lost. Fire Chief Bert Williams was not able to determine the cause of the fire.

The laundry owners had insurance, but they chose not to rebuild. Instead, they retired and a new company was quickly formed under the name Visalia Steam Laundry & Dry Cleaners. The new owner, Edwin V. Nelson, quickly developed plans for another plant in the 500 block of East Mineral King Avenue. Construction on his building was to begin in November. It was finished in 1937 and filled the entire block. It was a first-class structure made of brick and steel measuring about 100 feet by 125 feet. Nelson, like his predecessors, wanted only the best modern equipment to provide complete dry cleaning and laundry service. He purchased many pieces of equipment, including two “mushroom” ZarmoAmerican presses; a Huebsh handkerchief, napkin and small linen ironer; six Monel-metal washers; a Hoffman motor-driven extractor, and an air tumbler. It was a state-of-the-art facility with all the equipment approved by the American Institute of Laundering. By 1940, the laundry employed 35 people and it had 11 trucks operated by uniformed drivers. In the mid-1950s, the company dropped the word “Steam” from its name. Today, the building is home to Mission Linen & Uniform Service. L

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Investment Planning: The Basics T E X T B Y P E N N E Y R . R A Y M O N D J A M E S


hy do so many people never obtain the financial independence that they desire? Often it’s because they just don’t take that first step – getting started. Besides procrastination, other excuses people make are that investing is too risky, too complicated, too timeconsuming and only for the rich. The fact is there’s nothing complicated about common investing techniques, and it usually doesn’t take much time to understand the basics. One of the biggest risks you face is not educating yourself about which investments may be able to help you pursue your financial goals and how to approach the investing process. SAVING VERSUS INVESTING Both saving and investing have a place in your finances. However, don’t confuse the two. Saving is the process of setting aside money to be used for a financial goal, whether that is done as part of a workplace retirement savings plan, an individual retirement account, a bank 16 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8

S I C K , R E G I S T E R E D P R I N C I P A L F I N A N C I A L S E R V I C E S I N C.

savings account or some other savings vehicle. Investing is the process of deciding what you do with those savings. Some investments are designed to help protect your principal – the initial amount you’ve set aside – but may provide relatively little or no return. Other investments can go up or down in value and may or may not pay interest or dividends. Stocks, bonds, cash alternatives, precious metals and real estate all represent investments; mutual funds are a way to purchase such investments and also are themselves an investment. Note: Before investing in a mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, charges and fees, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. WHY INVEST? You invest for the future, and the future is expensive. For example, because people are living longer, retirement costs are often higher than

many people expect. Although all investing involves the possibility of loss, including the loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful, investing is one way to try to prepare for that future. You have to take responsibility for your own finances, even if you need expert help to do so. Government programs such as Social Security will probably play a less significant role for you than they did for previous generations. Corporations are switching from guaranteed pensions to plans that require you to make contributions and choose investments. The better you manage your dollars, the more likely it is that you’ll have the money to make the future what you want it to be. Because everyone has different goals and expectations, everyone has different reasons for investing. Understanding how to match those reasons with your investments is simply one aspect of managing your money to provide a comfortable life and financial security for you and your family.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO INVEST? • Get in the habit of saving. Set aside a portion of your income regularly. Automate that process if possible by having money automatically put into your investment account before you have a chance to spend it. • Invest so that your money at least keeps pace with inflation over time. • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Although asset allocation and diversification don’t guarantee a profit or ensure against the possibility of loss, having multiple types of investments may help reduce the impact of a loss on any single investment. • Focus on long-term potential rather than short-term price fluctuations. • Ask questions and become educated before making any investment. • Invest with your head, not with your stomach or heart. Avoid the urge to invest based on how you feel about an investment. BEFORE YOU START Organize your finances to help manage your money more efficiently. Remember, investing is just one component of your overall financial plan. Get a clear picture of where you are today. What’s your net worth? Compare your assets with your liabilities. Look at your cash flow. Be clear on where your income is going each month. List your expenses. You can typically identify enough expenses to account for at least 95 percent of your income. If not, go back and look again. You could use those lost dollars for investing. Are you drowning in credit card debt? If so, pay it off as quickly as possible before you start investing. Every dollar that you save in interest charges is one more dollar that you can invest for your future. Establish a solid financial base: Make sure that you have an adequate emergency fund, sufficient insurance coverage and a realistic budget. Also, take full advantage of benefits and retirement plans that your employer offers. UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF TIME Take advantage of the power of compounding. Compounding is the earning of interest on interest, or the reinvestment of income. For instance, if you invest $1,000 and get a return of 8 percent, you will earn $80. By reinvesting the earnings and assuming the same rate of return, the 18 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8

following year, you will earn $86.40 on your $1,080 investment. The following year, $1,166.40 will earn $93.31. (This hypothetical example is intended as an illustration and does not reflect the performance of a specific investment.) Use the Rule of 72 to judge an investment’s potential. Divide the projected return into 72. The answer is the number of years that it will take for the investment to double in value. For example, an investment that earns 8 percent per year will double in nine years. CONSIDER WHETHER YOU NEED EXPERT HELP If you have the time and energy to educate yourself about investing, you may not feel that you need assistance. However, for many people – especially those with substantial assets and multiple investment accounts – it may be worth getting expert help in creating a financial plan that integrates longterm financial goals such as retirement with other, more short-term needs. However, be aware that all investment involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful. REVIEW YOUR PROGRESS Financial management is an ongoing process. Keep good records and recalculate your net worth annually. This will help you for tax purposes and show you how your investments are doing over time. Once you take that first step of

getting started, you will be better able to manage your money to pay for today’s needs and pursue tomorrow’s goals. L This information, developed by an independent third party, has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James Financial Services Inc. does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. This information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets or developments referred to in this material. This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. The material is general in nature. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Raymond James Financial Services Inc. does not provide advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, an independent broker/dealer, are not insured by FDIC, NCUA or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the financial institution, are not guaranteed by the financial institution and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal.


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MOSCOW FESTIVAL BALLET The Moscow Festival Ballet, presented by Turnaround Artists, performed its rendition of the timeless fairy tale “Cinderella” at the Visalia Fox Theatre on Feb. 4. To the delight of the audience, a fairy godmother, an evil stepmother, a charming prince, two wicked stepsisters and the lovely Cinderella danced to life onstage to Sergei Prokofiev’s melodic and triumphant score.

THE ORANGE BLOSSOM QUILTERS GUILD The Orange Blossom Quilt Guild is a nonprofit organization that serves as a “teaching” guild that promotes fellowship and education pertaining to quilts and quilting. Members try to preserve and continue the rich traditions, culture and history of the quilting world by contributing to the knowledge of and appreciation for fine quilts. Paula Lovett is president of the guild and has lived in the area for 40 years. She has been sewing since junior high, as well as quilting for 19 years. Lynn Drennen-Guritz prefers art quilting to traditional piecing. She was partners on a quilt in 2008 that won multiple national and international awards over a three-year period. Sheryl Montanez is a local sewing and quilting artist who currently serves as a member of two local quilt guilds. Her first personal accomplishment was a southern belle ball gown and Confederate Army uniform for a Civil War-era reenactment club, winning her second place for authenticity in 1978. Sheryl created her first quilt, an Eleanor Burns “Quilt in a Day” log cabin in 1987 and has been quilting ever since. She has shown quilts in the Best of the Valley Quilt Show and earned a second-place ribbon for a portrait quilt of her mother in 2012. Juanita Cairns spent 38 years as an educator. After retiring, she returned to sewing and discovered quilting. She is a very eclectic quilter, making everything from traditional pieced quilts to art quilts. Juanita has found joy in teaching quilting to others through classes in design, embroidery, free motion, thread painting and portraits. These are a few of the quilters who participated in the quilt exhibition at Arts Visalia in January. L 20 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8



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ailing from the often-frigid temperatures of the East Coast, Lauren Westra moved to California looking for warmer weather, new opportunities and easy access to the beach. However, when she landed a job in marketing at San Joaquin Valley College in Visalia, she didn’t expect to find herself living in the midst of neverending farmland with no ocean or large city in sight. “When I moved out here, I was very shocked by all of the farming,” Lauren said. “I became friends with some people who also moved out here from other areas, and I said to a lot of them, ‘I’m only here until I get a job in L.A. or San Diego.’” What happened next was not only unexpected, but it completely altered the course of Lauren’s life in a way that she never knew she wanted. Several months after telling her pastor that she could never marry a dairy farmer, a man by the name of Daniel Westra — an unmistakable dairy name — asked her out. While at first, she resisted (three times, to be exact), Lauren finally agreed to go on a date with Daniel, if anything, just to show him that they were meant to remain friends. “A few months later, I was officially dating the youngest of eight siblings, a super country dairy farmer,” laughed Lauren.

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While their relationship progressed, Lauren knew that she would have to come to terms with the fact that loving this Tulare County native might mean letting go of the life she had envisioned for herself. But giving up the possibility of a sun-soaked future in SoCal opened up the door to a career, a family and a home she couldn’t dream up herself, even if she tried. Now, almost four years after their marriage, Lauren and Daniel enjoy a beautifully hectic life trying to balance

The Westra living room, top, includes quirky butterfly chairs and a beanbag chair. The dining area, above, flows into the kitchen and living room.

raising two children (with one on the way), growing three businesses, coordinating a home update and planning for their future, all while fitting in some time for travel. “Daniel loves to travel and so do I, so we’ve done a lot of traveling together,” said Lauren. “But he likes coming home to something safe, and it didn’t take me long to learn to love that either. I think I probably could have gone either way — living in the city or the country — but once I go in one direction or the other, I’m totally sold.” Lauren has seamlessly transitioned into life on a dairy, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t bringing her own bit of personality and spice to the farm. This past year, Daniel and Lauren gave their 1930s’ Craftsman home a rustic-modern facelift by remodeling the kitchen, painting, and adding new furniture and décor pieces. The home — which is believed to be a Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit house — had previously belonged to Daniel’s oldest brother and his wife, who remodeled and added on to it in 2007. “This house was originally really small at about 40 by 40 feet. Now, it is 56 by 48 feet,” said Daniel. “They added eight feet on the back, which is the laundry

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room and extra bathroom. Originally, the whole house was only one bathroom in the middle, three bedrooms, a small kitchen and a small living room.” During the 2007 remodel, Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law added a second story, blending together the home’s original design by implementing Craftsman-style newel posts on the staircase. They also enhanced the home’s architecture by installing natural wood trim to the windows and door frames throughout, which is one of Lauren’s favorite features. As a professional photographer, Lauren appreciates bright spaces with plenty of natural light, so there were a few aspects of the home that they decided to change to make it more of their own. One significant update was painting the cabinets in the kitchen and living space white in order to bring in more light.


The kitchen cabinets, above, which were originally cherry, have been painted white to bring in more light. The butcherblock island countertop includes storage cabinets. Below, the Craftsman-style newel posts and the staircase were added when Daniel Westra’s oldest brother and his wife enlarged the home by adding a second story in 2007. Right, the Westras enhanced the home’s architecture by installing natural wood trim to the windows and door frames.

“All of the wood that you see in white was actually cherry,” Lauren said. “It was really beautiful cherry, so it took me a long time to actually paint it. But since I’m a photographer, I need things to be light and bright.” Despite Lauren’s affinity for all things white, she maintained the home’s Craftsman-farmhouse aesthetic with wood furniture pieces and features, such 26

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“Craftsman-modern farmhouse meets Pottery Barn meets a tiny bit of West Elm.” - Lauren Westra HOME TOUR as the butcher-block island countertop and new wood floors throughout the living space. The island, carefully installed by Scott Bartel, features a single piece of wood for the large countertop, a white base and attractive storage cabinets. Before pulling the trigger on these design choices, she consulted with Derrick Brinkman of dlb design to make sure that she was heading in the right direction; to no one’s surprise, she was right on track. “I tried to optimize both neutrals and natural light,” said Lauren. “And Daniel loves real wood pieces, so he worked with a cabinet guy to build the buffet, which is the first piece of furniture we owned, and we kind of went from there. The wood helps make everything a lot homier.” When summing up the style of their home, Lauren says it lies somewhere in the realm of “Craftsman-modern farmhouse meets Pottery Barn meets a tiny bit of West Elm.” When entering the front door of the Westra home, a refreshingly bright and open living space presents itself. Thanks to Lauren’s careful design choices, the kitchen, dining area and living room flow seamlessly together, blending a modern aesthetic with the home’s farmhouse roots. Lauren made sure to sprinkle in some quirky corners as well, such as the camel brown butterfly chairs that sit underneath a large orb chandelier near their front door, and a plush white 28 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8

beanbag chair by the fireplace. “I don’t love overly modern, but I don’t want it all traditional either,” said Lauren. “So I have a few corners of super funky mixed in with my traditional.” Soft and whimsical details also adorn the children’s spaces, such as the downstairs playroom, which features llama prints on the walls, a boho-chic chandelier and chalkboard cupboards. Upstairs, their daughter’s bedroom shows off a delicate floral-patterned wallpaper on one wall, while the white vaulted ceilings promote a bounty of natural light. “It’s nice to feel like we’re semi-done because for a while, I just wasn’t sure what to do,” Lauren said. “Until we painted the kitchen cabinets, I wasn’t sure if I should be decorating for what was already here or if I should aim for what I want. Once we pulled the trigger on that, it helped to know what direction we were going in.” The Westras may be finished with the update for now, but they have big plans for the future. Knowing that this will likely be their forever home, they are currently dreaming up a way to expand and remodel the home to make it easy to entertain their large family. Daniel, the youngest of eight siblings, has 38 nieces and nephews, so having a large space where they can host guests is their number one goal down the road.

The home’s kitchen, dining area and living room, far left, which flow together, blend a modern aesthetic with the home’s farmhouse roots. Left, the wood in the custom-built buffet and other pieces “helps make everything a lot homier,” according to Lauren Westra. Below left is the children’s downstairs playroom, which features chalkboard cupboards. Upstairs is their daughter’s bedroom, above, which includes floralpatterned wallpaper. At right, a bedroom is tucked under the vaulted ceiling. An outdoor table that seats eight, below, takes advantage of the home’s setting, which includes pastures in the front yard, a canal in back and large oak trees.


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“In our future plan, we want to have a big playroom similar to what his parents had when the kids were growing up,” said Lauren. “Recently, his parents moved out of that house into a smaller one, which made us think on an even larger scale for our possible renovation.” Daniel added, “We are in the dreaming stage right now. We obviously have to make some money before any of this can happen.” While at one time Daniel and Lauren considered the idea of building a new house or moving somewhere else, they couldn’t imagine giving up the property their home is on. With pastures in the


front yard, a canal in the back and big, beautiful oak trees, the land surrounding their home is an ideal place to raise a growing family. Not to mention, over the past few years, the Westras have lovingly transformed the barns on their property into a new wedding venue for Tulare County, which they call Westwood Barns. In fact, the very first wedding that took place there was their own back in 2014, which inspired them to open it up as a high-end, rustic venue for local events and weddings. “There are some really great venues in this area, but there aren’t enough to make it diverse,” Lauren said. “We aim to be a really classy barn wedding venue

and eventually provide higher-end rentals and products so people don’t have to go to the coast if they want something a little different.” Between running a dairy, opening a wedding venue and owning a photography business, the Westras say their life can get a little hectic. But making time for family in their home is clearly a priority, which is evident from the thought, time and resources they put into their environment. “We both love all of the projects we’re involved in,” said Lauren. “I wouldn’t say we have an answer for how we balance things because some weeks are calm and some weeks are disasters, but we kind of like the crazy.” L

The rustic barns on the Westra property have been transformed into a venue for weddings and other special events.


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Elegant C A S U A L LY



















































9 boiled shrimp, chilled 9 oysters, shucked 9 steamed clams, chilled 9 steamed mussels, chilled Lemon wedges

1/4 cup champagne vinegar 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot 1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper 1/2 teaspoon cut chives

1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard Salt Pepper

*Serve the prepared, chilled shellfish as soon as possible; keep chilled until ready to serve and use within 24 hours.

Stir all ingredients together.

1 cup catsup 1 tablespoon horseradish 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

Mix all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

Mix all ingredients together and chill.

TO SERVE: Arrange chilled shellfish on ice. Serve with three sauces and lemon wedges.

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3 cups blood orange juice 4 cups heavy cream 1 vanilla bean, split 1 cup granulated sugar 6 egg yolks 1/4 cup sweetened coconut, toasted 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted

8 ounces fresh spinach 2 ounces butter Salt and pepper 8 abalone medallions, 1 ounce each 2 eggs, beaten 3/4 cup flour 16 4-inch squares puff pastry, baked per package directions



Place the blood orange juice in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes, until the juice is syrupy and has reduced to 1 cup. • Place three cups of the cream, vanilla bean and half of the sugar in a heavy pan and bring to a boil. Once the cream boils, remove it from the heat and cover for 10 minutes. • Place the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl and beat with a wire whisk until it starts to thicken. • Place the pan with the cream in it back on the stovetop over medium heat. Temper the eggs: Very slowly, pour 1/2 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Do not skip this step; if you pour the eggs directly into the hot cream, they will scramble. Slowly pour the tempered egg mixture into the cream on the stove, whisking constantly. Cook and stir the mixture - but do not boil - until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the remaining cup of cream. Remove and discard the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into a bowl through a mesh strainer to remove any solids. Cool and stir in the blood orange juice, then place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture and chill completely in the refrigerator. To toast the pistachios and coconut, preheat the oven to 350 F. Place on separate baking sheets and bake about 6 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the pistachios are fragrant and the coconut is golden brown. Freeze the chilled blood orange cream in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the pistachios and coconut halfway through the freezing process. 34 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8

INGREDIENTS 2 shallots, diced 1 cup champagne 1 ounce champagne vinegar 2 ounces heavy cream 6 ounces sweet butter

Juice of one lemon Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon fresh chives, snipped 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS Heat 1 ounce butter in a sauté pan. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Season the abalone medallions with salt and pepper, dip in the egg and then dust with flour. Heat the rest of the butter in a sauté pan. Add the abalone 4 pieces at a time and sauté for 10-15 seconds on each side. Remove from pan. Make the champagne butter sauce: Combine the shallots, champagne and champagne vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until reduced by half. Add the heavy cream and reduce again. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, then add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, and season with the salt and pepper. Add the chives just before serving. To serve, place one layer of puff pastry on each of 8 plates. Divide the spinach evenly atop the pastry squares and top with an abalone medallion. Spoon the champagne butter sauce over the abalone and top with the remaining pastry squares.


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INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 pounds mussels, washed 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon cracked, black pepper

DIRECTIONS Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat for 10 minutes. Add the mussels in one layer to the pan. Cook the mussels until they begin to open; discard any mussles that don’t. Season the mussels with the kosher salt and cracked pepper. CLARIFIED BUTTER

4 ounces butter, clarified 1 clove garlic, minced Juice of 1 lemon 1/2 cup chopped parsley

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Heat the butter in a sauce pan; when it boils, skim the foam off the top and discard. Add the garlic and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Place mussels on a warm plate. Drizzle clarified butter over the mussels.

AHI TUNA WITH WASABI VINAIGRETTE (SERVES 4) 12 ounces sushi-grade Ahi tuna 2 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled 2 cups baby greens Sesame seeds - garnish WASABI VINAIGRETTE 3 tablespoons soy sauce 3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, diced 2 cups rice vinegar 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 1/4 cups sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder

TO SERVE Thinly slice the tuna and arrange off to one side of each of 4 plates. Slice the avocados and arrange 1/2 avocado on the other side of plate. Place 1/2 cup baby greens in the center of plate. Mix the wasabi vinaigrette and drizzle over each plate. L

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What’s in a name anyway?







Bathers enjoy the waters of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The water temperature varies between 98 and 104 degrees. In the distance is the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. 38

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ome destinations are easy to write about. Their magnificent scenery, natural wonders or history practically scream out a tale to be told. But despite Iceland having all that splendor and more, it’s not the elephant in the room (whale in the harbor?) that requires addressing first. Shakespeare was correct when he chose a rose to illustrate that any given object or place cannot be fully expressed by name alone. But when that name has “ice” in it, followed by the motto “land of fire and ice,” people naturally expect a lot of frozen water. Yet glaciers only cover about 12 percent of the country’s land mass. Many other countries far surpass that amount, and often do it in a much more spectacular fashion. So how in the world did that name get stuck on this island? There are competing stories, but no clear frontrunner exists. When faced with such an obvious disparity, many countries might

create a story and sell it hard or just chose to ignore the issue altogether. Iceland instead has chosen to embrace the humor in the situation, holding a contest to find a descriptive moniker more consistent with reality. Although none of the submissions, including front-runners “Isle of Awe Land” and “Best Place to Grow a Beard Land,” will result in a name change, the undertaking says a great deal about these upbeat and positive Icelanders. Once one is informed about Iceland’s lack of iciness, the next logical question pertains to the weather, which does in fact exist. Due to strong Gulf Stream currents, the climate is much more temperate than its location just below the Arctic Circle would suggest. During the summer days (a whopping 20 hours long, at their peak), temperatures range from the lower 50s to mid-70s. Even in winter, it’s usually well above freezing despite days that are just 4 or 5 hours

long. Although short in length, winter’s unusual daylight has a romantic twilight quality and the nights, although long, vary little in temperature from day. This, along with the frequent northern lights displays, has increasingly made Iceland a winter destination. No matter the season, however, the one constant is that the weather is inconsistent. Changing quickly and sometimes frequently within the same 24 hours, it’s often joined by some sort of precipitation (usually rain) and wind (especially in the south). While this weather might sound less than ideal for travelers, the result is that people focus little on hair and style and much more on seeing the country and interacting with its people. Never one to relish traipsing around in inclement weather, I actually found the climate, although rather strange, oddly refreshing and a nice change from the heat and/or humidity we’ve experienced elsewhere. L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8


Downtown Akureyri, Iceland’s fourth-largest city, is a gathering spot for residents and visitors, above. Below on Reykjavik’s waterfront is the “Solfar” or “Sun Voyager,” which resembles a Viking ship, created by Icelandic sculptor Jon Gunnar Arnason. The steep sides of a fjord, bottom, surround homes in the town of Isafjordur, which features homes built by fishing merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Iceland is home to 60 percent of the world’s puffins, bottom right.


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While speaking of the peculiar, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Icelanders do not have common surnames within a family. A man with a first name of Jon would have male children with an added “son” to that as a last name (Jonsson) to show each was Jon’s son. His female children would add “dottir” (Jonsdottir) to signify that they were Jon’s daughters. Those children’s parents (Jon and his wife) would have last names that neither matched each other nor their children since both parents were a son or daughter of different fathers. The result is that residents call each other by their first names. This might not be overly confusing in a small town (there are many of those), but a city or large school system is another matter. And forget about making sense of a family tree! Although tales of Iceland’s odd food are abundant, most meals consist of fish or lamb (Iceland’s most abundant domesticated animal), with potatoes and vegetables (often imported but increasingly grown locally in geothermally powered greenhouses). Thin slices of dark rye bread are often offered, and ice cream and chocolatecovered wafer bars are year-round treats. Foods worth ordering are plokkfiskur (a crowd-pleasing fish fillet stew with white sauce), Brennivin (caraway-flavored schnapps) and Skyr (a creamy and mild yogurt cheese). On the list of foods most visitors won’t be trying are Icelandic horse (more like majestic and sturdy ponies), puffin (cute sea birds smoked to taste like pastrami, but look like liver), smoked sheep’s head served either whole (blessedly without the brain) with sides of mashed potatoes and turnips or cut up in aspic to create a strong-smelling head cheese, and finally Hakari (fermented, then dried shark cut into cubes), which smells distinctly like urine. Another bit of strangeness? Icelanders believe in elves and trolls (really!). Realizing that tourists might find this a bit odd, many guides mention it almost in passing and focus primarily on a group of 13 prankster Yule Lads. Functioning somewhat like a cadre of “elves on everyone’s shelves,” these fellows promote good behavior and tidiness in the weeks leading to Christmas in order to receive gifts and treats rather than a potato (a more appropriate punishment

for bad behavior than a lump of fossil fuel in this country of clean renewable energy). But in truth, all Icelanders believe that “hidden people” (elves and trolls) coexist with them in an alternate universe of sorts. Most of them have a story of a friend or relative who has caught a glimpse of these beings (not related to a long night spent in a pub). Convinced that these otherworldly folk live in the rock formations and lava fields scattered among the lush green hills, the government steers roads and building projects around (not through) those spots lest any disturbance of supernatural forces bring about misfortune. Less a fearful worry than a “hedging ones’ bets” respect for things that can’t always be explained, some people have even constructed small dwellings in the hills for use by their otherworldly neighbors. Along with Iceland’s unique and appealing oddness, there’s also much to see and do. Foremost is the scenery created by the prolific geothermal activity in both the north and south. The turbulent interaction between the two tectonic plates (Eurasian and North American) that create the mid-Atlantic ridge, a major fault line that Iceland sits atop, has created a broad range of sites. There are more than 130 active and inactive volcanoes, vast lava fields with gnarled formations, bubbling mud pools, mineral hot springs, steam vents and even geysers. Iceland is the only place on Earth where the rift between tectonic plates is visible on land; it also occurs in a place of great historic relevance - Pingvellir National Park, also known as Thingvellir National Park, site of the world’s first parliament beginning in 900 A.D. The steep straight wall of the North American plate served to amplify each clan’s elected representative’s voice in their work to create laws and make decisions. Visitors today can walk along this rift, which grows an inch in width annually as these plates continue to drift apart. Beyond this dramatic scenery, Iceland is also home to more than 30 species of whales and 60 percent of the world’s puffins, with numerous

L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8 41

opportunities to see both. There are also

fourth-largest city of Akureyri (18,000

stables to ride Icelandic horses, scuba

residents) lies at the base of one of the

diving in one of the world’s top dive sites

world’s longest fjords, which is encircled

(Silfra Rift), bathing in outdoor hot

by dramatic snow-capped mountains. Its

springs, hiking on an inland glacier,

location, which offers the best shopping

visiting geothermal greenhouses and

and art gallery experiences, also delivers

power plants, and even touring the

warmer temperatures and close proximity

world’s only waterfall with a 90-degree

to the geothermal and outdoor pursuits in

turn (Gulfoss).

the north. Even though tiny Isafjordur (the

Iceland’s population centers offer much

largest city in the western fjords) may only

to see and do as well. The southwestern

have 2,600 residents, it offers dramatic

capital of Reykjavik has strikingly modern

landscapes in a city filled with museums

architecture inspired by Iceland’s blocky

and colorful wooden houses built by

basalt formations in its Hallgrímskirkja

18th- and 19th-century fishing merchants.

Cathedral and the honeycombed glass

This city’s warm welcome includes a map

facade and interior of its Harpa Concert

displaying each city building, site of

Hall. The domed Perlan Museum allows

interest and home (all remarkably

visitors to explore ice caves, experience

accurate in both color and style).

interactive glacier displays and dine on

So is Iceland a destination to add to

excellent food all while surrounded by

your future travels? Absolutely! And its

panoramic views of the capital. Iceland’s

people? Although any attempt to

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavik, right, dominates Iceland’s capital. The Strokkur Geyser near Reykjavik, top left, erupts every 10 minutes. Reykjavik is shown at night, above middle. Honey-combed glass marks the interior of the capital’s Harpa Concert Hall, left. A tin-roofed church and parish house, above, is located in Isafjordur.


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summarize all 335,000 residents could never characterize every Icelander, we found them to be some of the nicest people we’ve ever met — exceedingly friendly, resourceful, hard-working and straight-talking. They even speak excellent English, a consideration when a language has an abundance of vowels and consonants bearing little relationship to phonetics. Our time here has prompted my own submission to the renaming contest. Although I don’t suspect that it will garner a groundswell of excitement or calls to make a change, it sums up the experience pretty well — Niceland. In this day of negative rhetoric and worldwide problems, nice sounds mighty good to me. L

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C H A R L I E ’ S ,



n cooking and cocktails, using the best quality ingredients will result in the most delicious dishes and drinks. That’s why it makes perfect sense that in these special Icelandic cocktails, the team at Jack and Charlie’s utilizes Reyka Vodka. Distilled in Iceland near Borgarnes (where the air is so clean, the CO2 levels are actually falling), Reyka is the world’s first “green” vodka. The company takes full advantage of the wealth of natural resources available, making the vodka with glacial water from an arctic spring that runs through a 4,000-year-old lava field. The vodka is filtered with lava rocks and distilled in a facility powered by geothermal energy from underground volcanoes. No doubt it will be entertaining to talk about this unique, hand-crafted vodka as you sip and savor the crisp, clean flavors of Iceland in these specialty drinks. Information from the Reyka Vodka website


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LIGHTNING ON MY FEET Rocks/old-fashioned glass 1 ½ ounce Reyka vodka 2 ounces pineapple juice ¾ ounce blood orange juice ½ ounce fresh lemon juice Angostura bitters, to top Combine all ingredients (except bitters) in cocktail shaker. Shake over ice and pour over crushed ice in rocks glass. Top with a couple dashes Angostura bitter. Garnish with blood orange wheel.

ICELANDIC LADY Champagne flute 1 ounce Reyka vodka ½ ounce Aperol ½ ounce honey syrup ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice Prosecco or champagne, to top Combine vodka, Aperol, honey syrup and lemon in cocktail shaker. Shake over ice and pour into flute. Top mixture with prosecco or champagne. Garnish with lemon peel.


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ICEBERG PARALYZER Collins glass ½ ounce Reyka vodka ½ ounce Kahlua Coca Cola Milk Fill glass with ice to top. Add vodka and Kahlua. Fill with cola almost to the top, leaving about a fingers room at top. Top with milk. Stir with spoon. Note: All the ice is needed or the milk will curdle when mixed with the Coke.

VIKING PUNCH Punch bowl 8 ounces Reyka vodka 8 ounces blood orange juice 2 ounces lemon juice 12 ounces water 6 ounces club soda Combine all ingredients in punch bowl. Add ice to fill bowl three-fourths full. Float blood orange and lemon wheels for garnish.

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he Sequoia Symphony Orchestra not only has a new name, but also a new executive director. Joshua Banda, 29, is a Visalia native who can’t imagine a better job or one for which he is more suited. Banda’s excitement for his new role, which he assumed in early January, was evident during an interview in a downtown Visalia cafe. “This is a different challenge than what I have taken on before, but it is all the better because of the mission of the Sequoia Symphony,” he said. “I can invest in the community that means so much to me.” That mission — promoting and fostering professional symphonic music in the area — dovetails with Banda’s own passion for the arts. He played saxophone for 16 years, rounding out his time as a member of the Redwood High School jazz band and marching/ symphonic bands. He also plays bass guitar on a weekly basis as a member of the worship team at Praise Center Church. “The arts and music have been so important to my life, and I want to help make an impact in a community that I know and love,” Banda said. “It is much more rewarding than what I’m used to.” Banda is referring to his more than 10 years in the retail sector, specifically as a manager with Target. He balanced a

demanding corporate career with an equally demanding pace in college, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management in three years from Fresno Pacific University. More recently, he held marketing and management positions with Buckman-Mitchell Insurance and FedEx Office in Visalia. In his duties as executive director of the orchestra, Banda, who succeeds Juliette de Campos, will oversee the organization’s $600,000 annual budget, collaborate with music director Bruce Kiesling, and drive the group’s marketing and fundraising efforts. “I have always been drawn to leadership roles,” he said. “I like the challenges and the responsibilities. I get a lot out of it.” At the top of the list is continuing to expand the orchestra’s reach and reputation, the impetus behind the name change that took effect last year. Banda praised de Campos’ role in helping to re-brand the symphony with a name that reflects an entire region versus just Tulare County. Banda said he was surprised to learn that some people were not aware of the symphony’s 58-year presence in the community. He intends to change that by promoting awareness of the many ways a symphonic orchestra leads to a higher

quality of life for residents (such as attracting top professionals to the region). In addition, he will focus on luring new patrons with innovative ways to relate to and experience the music presented by the 80-member orchestra. To that end, Banda called upon his fellow “Star Wars” enthusiasts from the 501st Legion to assist at the popular “Movie Night: The Music of John Williams” concert held Feb. 10. Composer John Williams is known for scoring music for many popular movies, the “Star Wars” trilogies among them. With a few phone calls, Banda ensured that guests handed their concert tickets to Storm Troopers and that they could mingle during a Red Carpet event with their favorite Star Wars characters. If he weren’t on duty as executive director that evening, Banda would have happily marched through the Fox Theatre wearing his hand-sewn Darth Vader costume, where he tops out as an imposing 6-foot, 7-inch menace. “My main vision is to create newer, more engaging experiences for our audiences,” he said. He applauded Kiesling, who has been at the podium for nine years. “We are very fortunate to have Bruce,” he said. “He is a champion of growing and expanding our orchestra, and

reaching a new demographic.” Taking on the executive director role will also mean an overdue change of pace for the father of two young daughters, Eden and Genesis. He and wife, Danielle, have been married six years. “After working retail for 10 years, I feel like I can do anything,” he said with a smile. Banda said he will continue to support another favorite nonprofit — Royal Family Kids Camp. The camp is a week-long experience for Tulare and Kings county children who are in the foster care system. He has been volunteering at the camp for nine years. “Having worked with so many children over the years, it is easy to see how important music can be,” he said. “To be able to express art in any form gives the children an outlet to experience something that they don’t usually get to do.” Two concerts remain in the 2017-18 season, dubbed “Gods and Heroes.” On March 10, guest pianist Joana Gonzalez will highlight a program, “Historias con Musica,” featuring Spanish and Mayan music, and the April 22 concert will feature a powerful combination of choirs taking part in Beethoven’s famous “Symphony No. 9.” For information and tickets, go to L

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ovelist, actor, scientist, songwriter, poet, biblical scholar, endodontist, sculptor, historian, teacher – the list of Dr. Alan Sproles’ interests and accomplishments continues to grow. While he may be known to his patients in Visalia as Dr. Sproles, the endodontist/ implantologist who saves their teeth with root canals or fills in gaps with implants, he thinks of himself as more of a writer than a dentist. “I actually write more than I do dentistry,” he said. “I’m a professional writer who handles dentistry.” His weekly schedule includes three days in the office, maybe two mornings of golf, and the rest of the time for his creative and scholarly pursuits. This also includes teaching the New Testament for 40 years with Faith Baptist Church. He has written and published two young adult/middle-grade novels for ages 9 through 13 – “Billy Bedivere in the Quest for the Dragon Queen” and “The Train from Outer Space.” Both have won awards for self-published books, including a bronze IPPY award and the IndieReader Discovery Award in the Young Adult category. Alan was born and raised in Inglewood, lived on a southern plantation while earning his degree in chemistry at the University of Kentucky, and worked at

the medical center there conducting research on cancer and very early research in organ storage using dogs. This phase of his life only lasted three years before he returned to the Los Angeles area to study dentistry at USC. His first published writing was in scientific journals based on his discovery of cyclic nucleotides in saliva and the nerves of teeth. After graduating, he spent another three years in private practice before leaving for Boston University to study endodontics. But while still in Southern California, he was bitten by the acting bug. “I was with a friend of mine, hanging around studios, goofing off,” he said. “And they would see us, snag us and bring us into movies a couple of times. That’s how I got my bug. I was only ever an extra. I just thought it was a kick. I was a dentist then, at 25. I was young.” His other Hollywood connection at the time was through the Miss America franchise in Diamond Bar, where he had his practice. He was producer of the local event. “I had movie stars and celebrities come in and judge that for me,” he said. After graduating from Boston University in 1978, he was still interested in Hollywood, but not in living in Los Angeles. He put pins in a map of California to T E X T

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determine where there was a lack of dentists and endodontists. One of those empty spaces turned out to be Visalia. “No freeways – and no endodontists. Competition is overrated,” he said. “I was the only person here for 15 years. I was meeting an unmet need. I was booked up three weeks after opening my door. Everything worked out. I’ve had a great life here.” He still had a desire to act and was in five or six movies, but the long drive to auditions became too tedious. “I decided I didn’t want to drive down there all the time,” he said. “To be successful, you really have to be down there, anyway. And I couldn’t leave my practice. I was too busy. So I tried to stay in the business by writing screenplays.” He wrote his first screenplay on his own, then decided to hire a co-writer, Lizanne Southgate. Together, they have written more than a dozen scripts. None of them has been produced, although he currently has two out for consideration. One screenplay is centered on William Tyndale, a priest at the time of Henry VIII who defied the law to follow his beliefs and incurred the wrath of his king. It tied for third place in the $50,000 Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters. He is still writing these plays with Lizanne, but he realizes that the

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doorway to production is very narrow, so now his focus is on books, which includes rewriting the Tyndale story and another historical script into book format. He has almost finished two non-fiction books – one on the Reformation and another on the Arminian/Calvinist controversy over preordained salvation. Yet another book in the works is “The Atheist’s Guide to Death.” As a change in pace from his theological studies, he is also working on a sequel to his Billy Bedivere novel. Billy’s first adventure is a camping trip that turns into a kind of Alice in Wonderland through a vortex in a cave that takes him to a land populated with strange creatures like a big, blue bunny and a two-headed dragon. Alan hopes to have the sequel written by summer. He describes it as “a little darker, more exciting, with a lot more new characters.” The addition of more characters gives him a lot more to do in one of his latest endeavors. He is sculpting all the characters in his Bedivere stories in clay. He knew nothing about sculpting when he started, not even that there were many kinds of clay. To create his sculptures, he chose one called monster clay, which is used in movies to create monster faces. The clay is mixed with wax, which makes it easier to work with when temperatures are high, a plus for sculpting in the San Joaquin. His clay figures are cast in bronze at a foundry near Clovis. He expects to have 20 to 22 and hopes to have a showing when they are done. In his second book, “The Train from Outer Space,” a boy and his dog rescue a tiny alien from a living train and fight space monsters to save Earth. 52 L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 8


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VACATION RENTALS This book was originally one of his screenplay collaborations with Lizanne. He describes his fantasy and science fiction books as more fun to write than non-fiction because he can just make things up. Ensuring that he has all the facts in non-fiction takes time and effort. “I tell people somebody slap me upside the head if I do any more non-fiction books,” he said. Or they could encourage him to write a poem, which he does. He hasn’t attempted to publish his poetry, except on his own blog (yes, he is a blogger, too). “I have a lot of poetry that I just write to entertain myself,” he said. But sometimes he does set it to music. He neither sings nor plays an instrument, but he can sit at a piano and pick out the notes that he thinks it should have. Then he turns to a professional to write the music. He even brought in musicians for an album that he produced and recorded in a studio in Fresno, but he has not done anything with it. “I’m one of these guys, I’m not commercially motivated,” he said. “I do things for fun. It entertains me, and it enriches my life. If it goes somewhere, fine. If it doesn’t go somewhere, it doesn’t particularly rock my world.” But he does like expanding his world. Once he finishes Billy #2, he is hoping to leap into yet another creative adventure – he plans to pursue a video game version of his stories. L

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s the new year wanes and our resolutions weaken, cleaning out our closets seems more overwhelming than ever. After all, we’ve still got a few months of wearing those winter coats, right? Well, don’t let your good intentions grow cold. Here’s something to get you inspired: It’s the short list of the clothes and accessories to hold on to, get rid of and even a few ideas of what to add to your spring shopping list. Keep cold-shouldered tops. The off-the-shoulder looks are here to stay. The cutout sweaters made the transition to winter, and the peasant blouse silhouettes will be worn by trendsetters come spring and summer. Get rid of oversized drapey knits and crinkled cottons that make you look like you grabbed them off the bottom of the laundry basket. Keep bell-sleeved blouses. It’s all about the sleeves this coming season. Bell sleeves, kimono sleeves, ruffled sleeves ... it’s all about going with the flow – or the flounce. Just remember that these billowy sleeves do tend to get in the way when wearing more structured jackets – even more reason to put a lightweight vest on your spring shopping list. Keep your sequins. Bring back disco and get your sparkle on! Rethink your sequined pieces that you normally wear to parties and pair them with denim for daytime glamour. Or go head-to-toe with shiny lacquered leather. Get rid of any glitzy clothes that have lingered too long in your closet ... say from 1982. Some things just don’t look great the 10th time around the dance floor. And make like Cinderella and try on a new pair of bejeweled shoes to give everything in your closet a little twinkle. Keep your ponchos. It’s the perfect time of year to want to wear those “cocoons” that are hanging in your closet. Layer them up with turtlenecks and knit tanks for more cold-weather style. Then strip them down for warmer T E X T


days and nights. Just make sure to pair the roomy toppers with slim bottoms and sleek boots. Skip the chunky cable-knit granny cardigans for now. Keep your jean jackets. These are always classic staples. And with the latest trend of wearing denim head-to-toe, your jean jacket will become even more versatile. If you want something new, try a colorful, boxy denim jacket in a springtime pastel like lemon yellow. Keep your leggings. Pantsuits may be coming on strong, but slim pants and leggings are here to stay. We’re not talking yoga pants here, but heftier knits that can go the distance from work to cocktails. If you haven’t invested in a few pairs of the newer, more substantial leggings, then rid your closet drawers of old, worn-out skin-tight pants and stock up on a fresh crop of slim bottoms in knits and denim. They’re the perfect match for spring and summer’s blousey tops. Keep your pencil skirts. While the A-line skirt is making fashion news, the pencil skirt is still a working girl’s go-to musthave. Ditch the bell-shaped skirts that are rarely flattering. And if you really want to update your skirt wardrobe, invest in a pleated maxi skirt in a shimmering metallic. Stick to fitted tops and jackets to keep it all in proportion. Keep your sheath dresses. Floral prints are going to be profusely blooming on dresses this year, but you can’t go wrong with a sleeveless dress, even in a solid color. Try updating them with a faux fur jacket this winter or a sheer chiffon floral kimono this spring. Do retire the shirt dresses that you’ve had since the ‘90s and have a little trouble buttoning. And never keep clothes that don’t fit. Whether they’re too small or too big, chances are you won’t be wearing them anytime soon. Bleep them out of your closet and give yourself a new fashion lease on life. L


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Awards Dinner


he Tulare Chamber of Commerce and the community of Tulare gathered to honor a few of the countless people who make Tulare a great place to live, work and play. Four hundred and fifty people filled the International AgriCenter’s Heritage Complex to recognize: • Man of the Year - David Eddy • Woman of the Year - Lori Cardoza • Small Business of the Year - The Office of Patricia J. Drilling, DDS • Large Business of the Year - Galaxy Theatre • Male Youth of the Year - Evan Garcia • Female Youth of the Year - Meghan Oliveira • Ambassador of the Year - Debbie Gullord of ServiceMaster by Benevento Official chamber business was conducted as last year’s chair, Kelsey Jones (EECU), passed the gavel to Renee Soto (State Farm). All of the 2018 Tulare Chamber of Commerce board members were sworn in and the outgoing board was honored. Additionally, all of the chamber’s Community Impact Partners were recognized. This year, the event featured a keynote speaker, Jimmy Cusano, who delivered a message on community. The Tulare Chamber of Commerce is grateful for all of the people who attended and the sponsors that made the event possible, including Title Sponsors AltSys Solar Inc., Altura Centers for Health, Anderson Bear & Associates, the City of Tulare, Family HealthCare Network, the International Agri-Center, JD Heiskell & Co., Land O’Lakes and Saputo.


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TOP ROW (left to right): Man of the Year - David Eddy (L) Woman of the Year - Lori Cardoza (L) Small Business of the Year - The Office of Patricia J. Drilling, DDS Large Business of the Year - Galaxy Theatre, Freddie Gonzalez (R) SECOND ROW (left to right): Male Youth of the Year - Evan Garcia (R) Female Youth of the Year - Meghan Oliveira (L) Alisa and Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler with Craig Wheaton, deputy superintendent of schools Tulare County, and Stan Carizosa, president COS. LEFT: Ambassador of the Year - Debbie Gullord, (L) ServiceMaster by Benevento BOTTOM ROW (left to right): Kelsey Jones, chamber board chair Mary Quillin and LInda Martin Kelsey Jones and Renee Soto R)

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Newsboys United Tour Come to the Visalia Convention Center to experience the reunion of the contemporary Christian band, the Newsboys. Tickets start at $27. When: Feb. 18, 7–10 p.m. Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: (559) 713-4040

All Hands On Deck! Show The All Hands On Deck! Show brings you an authentic American roadshow and radio broadcast re-creation circa 1942, filled with heart-warming songs, tight harmonies, rousing on-air antics, classic commercials and sing-along excitement, all accompanied by the warm sounds of the live nine-piece Hollywood Victory Caravan Orchestra. Tickets: $29-$54. When: Feb. 19, 7–9:30 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

WBW: ‘Vertigo’ (1958) CHOICES presents “Vertigo” (1958). Join us for Hitchcock’s romantic story of obsession, manipulation and fear. A detective is forced to retire after his fear of heights causes the death of a fellow officer and the girl he was hired to follow. Tickets: $5. When: Feb. 21, 6:30–9 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

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‘Born to Paint: No Plan B, Recent Paintings and Working Drawings’ by Jane Ziegler Arts Visalia is showing the works of Jane Ziegler in an exhibition entitled “Born to Paint: No Plan B, Recent Paintings and Working Drawings.” The exhibition runs through Feb. 23. This is a free event. When: Through Feb. 23, 6–8 p.m. Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: Arts Visalia, (559) 739-0905,

Spotlight Visalia’ Benefit Showcase Join us for the second annual “Spotlight Visalia” community showcase. This celebration includes music and dance performances by students at VUSD high schools and a special performance by RUN 4 COVER. Tickets: $60 premium w/ pre-show reception, $20 reserved, $10 families of students, $5 students. Families of student performers receive discounted tickets. When: Feb. 23, 7:30–10 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

Visalia’s ‘80s Prom Pub Crawl Join us when we take Main Street Visalia back to the days of metal bands, big hair and jelly bracelets. At the ‘80s Prom Pub Crawl, you will get drink specials and no cover charge with your wristband at all locations. Food specials with participating vendors. There will also be contests, games, raffle, prizes and different atmospheres at all locations. Crawl locations include The BarrelHouse (also the check-in location), Lum Lums, Crawdaddy’s, Rookies, The Cellar Door, Visalia Brewing Company. When: Feb. 24, 5–9 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia. Check-in location: The BarrelHouse. Contact:

‘Silver Light: Fifty Photographs’ March welcomes artist Randy Ranger and his black-and-white photography exhibition at Arts Visalia. Randy is a black-and-white photographer who deems inspiration from various parts of the Central Valley. This is a free event. When: Feb. 28-March 30; opening reception on March 2, 6-8 p.m. Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: Arts Visalia, (559) 739-0905,

The Beach Boys The Beach Boys, well-known for “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” are returning to the Visalia Fox Theatre. Tickets: $66-$110. When: March 1, 7:30–9:30 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

First Friday Art Walk Join the Arts Consortium in downtown Visalia to showcase local artistry. This downtown art walk is a great outdoor activity where you can walk between unique locations to view artwork and grab a bite to eat in one of our downtown restaurants. Free admission. When: March 2, 5–8 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: (559) 802-3266,

Denim & Diamonds Shine up your fancy boots, bring on the bling and get ready for another great party! $40/person – 21 and over. Get your ticket at the VTEC High School office or call Brook Killingsworth at (559) 280-9375. When: March 3, 6 p.m. Where: International AgriCenter, 4500 S. Laspina St., Tulare Contact: Lori Anne Boken, (559) 302-8927

Visalia Talks & Wine We are extremely inspired by Ted Talks and are using it as an inspirational platform. We will share ideas and information worth hearing about. There will be wine and a full bar available. This event is 21+. $8-$13. When: March 8, 5–7 p.m. Where: The Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: Kelsey Low,

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Artisan Market Food Fest Fundraiser More than 45 vendors of handcrafts, antiques and repurposed décor, along with food, raffles, mobile blood truck and entertainment from local performing arts students. Fundraiser goes specifically to the Oncology Department and Craycroft floor at Valley Children’s Hospital. When: March 10, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Where: The Looking Glass, 242 E. Caldwell Ave., Visalia Contact: The Looking Glass, (559) 623-7614,

The Midtown Men The Midtown Men reunites stars from the smash Broadway hit musical, “Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.” Formed in 2010, the popular vocal group has been widely praised for its signature renditions of the greatest rock and roll songs of the 1960s. Tickets: $28-$56. When: March 16, 8 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St. Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

2018 Visalia Senior Games The Visalia Senior Games aim to provide excellent conditions for senior citizens who seek a competitive environment along with the camaraderie of other athletes. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming Visalia Senior Games and how you can participate! When: March 10, 8 a.m.–March 18, 5 p.m. Where: Visalia Parks & Recreation, 345 N. Jacob St., Visalia Contact: (559) 713-4365,

Historias con Música Join us for a trip south of the border as we visit the Mayan Riviera. We share the ritualistic and distinct sounds of the Yucatán through the dazzling orchestration of “Noches de las Mayas. Tickets: $22-$45 When: March 10, 7:30–9:30 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369


Weekend of Worship Join us for mass or a concert! This is a free event. When: March 11, 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. English Mass, 1 p.m. Spanish Mass, 3 p.m. concert, 7 p.m. English Mass. Where: St. Mary Catholic Church, 5094 W. Caldwell Ave., Visalia Contact: Celebrant Singers, (559) 740-4000,

WBW: ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’ CHOICES presents “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (1959). Tickets: $5. Darby O’Gill does not want to tell his daughter that his position has been taken by a dashing younger man. On his way home, Darby slips through a portal to the land of the little people, where he meets the leprechaun king, Brian, and winds up accidentally bringing the little monarch home with him. Darby then demands that Brian grant him three wishes, but the request brings Darby bittersweet, and unexpected, results. When: March 14, 6:30–9 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

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CASA of Tulare County second annual Superhero Run Join CASA of Tulare County at the second annual Superhero Run. It’s a great way to kick off the spring season with a brisk run or stroll through Visalia’s historic Mooney Grove Park. The event features a 5k and 1k Run/Walk (timed), raffle and a Superhero Costume Contest. When: March 24, 7 a.m.-noon Where: Mooney Grove Park, 27000 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia Contact: Amy Silveira,

10th annual John Paul Magao Memorial Motorcycle Ride & Vendor Show Ride starts at Visalia Harley-Davidson and ends at Plaza Park, South Plaza Drive, south of the Wyndham Hotel next to the tennis & pickleball courts, Arbor #1. Riders $30, passengers $20. Lunch only (non-riders) $10. When: March 24. 8 a.m. Registration: 8 a.m., kickstands up, 10 a.m., Lunch at noon. Ride starts at 10 a.m. Where: Visalia Harley-Davidson, 30681 Highway 99, Visalia Contact: John Paul Magao Memorial Scholarship Foundation, James, (559) 972-2388; Janice, (559) 623-2264

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Join us for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will start on Main Street at Church Street and will travel west to Willis Street and head north; the parade will disband in front of the Vintage Press. We will be checking in all parade entrants at Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave. (next to Jack & Charlie’s). When: March 17, 10–11 a.m. Where: Downtown Visalia, parade starts on Main Street at Church Street.

Irish Fest Irish Fest is your chance to be Irish for a day! Sample more than 30 flavors of local craft beers. All guests must be 21 or older and carry valid identification. There will be food trucks and live music with Borrowed Time. Tickets: $35 in advance, $45 at the door. $10 non-drinkers. Doors open at 1 p.m. Last pour will be at 4:30 p.m. When: March 17, 1-5 p.m. Where: Rawhide Ballpark, 345 N. Jacob St., Visalia Contact: Visalia Breakfast Lions Club, (559) 909-0091,

‘Blade Runner’ CHOICES presents “Blade Runner” (1982). Tickets: $5 When: March 22, 6:30 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: (559) 625-1369

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HAPPENINGS ‘Civil Discourse in the Public Arena’ The League of Women Voters will present a program on “Civil Discourse in the Public Arena.” It will be a no-host, catered luncheon featuring Sharon Kimball and Debora Humphreys. This event is open to the public. Cost TBD When: March 24, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Where: St. Paul’s Parish Hall, 120 N. Hall St., Visalia Contact: Faye Zeeb, (559) 734-6501,

Road to Resurrection Road to Resurrection is a fun, interactive telling of Passover week. Travel by tour guide in small groups and see in live action Palm Sunday, Passover, Barabbas released from jail, a remorseful soldier and the celebration of Jesus resurrected on the third day! This is a free event for the entire family. When: March 24, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Where: Calvary Visalia, 11720 Ave. 264, Visalia Contact: Calvary Chapel Visalia, (559) 687-0220,

U-Pick Oranges! at McKellar Family Farms Enjoy a beautiful day at McKellar Family Farms, where you and your family can pick oranges and explore the ranch via an interactive and educational wagon ride. This family-friendly event is a great way to welcome spring while experiencing a real citrus farm. Cost is $7 per person to pick oranges and fill an 8-pound bag to take home, and $3 per person for the wagon rides (ages 2 and under are free). Wagon rides will run once per hour starting at 10:30 a.m. When: March 24, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Where: McKellar Family Farms, 32988 Road. 164, Ivanhoe (park in “Event Parking”), Contact: info@mckellarfarms or (559) 731-7925

Classic Car Show This three-day event features more than 800 show cars, large-name manufacturers like Ford and more than 120 vendors. This show benefits the Pismo Beach Police Department K9 Unit and other charitable organizations. When: June 1-3, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday Where: 198 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach Contact: (951) 543-8125,, `vvvv


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Lifestyle Magazine, February 2018  
Lifestyle Magazine, February 2018  

Lifestyle Magazine, February 2018