Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Kite Dreams!

Flying High at Up, Up & Away Kites

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

When the wind kicks up during the last days of summer there’s nothing more fun than flying a kite at the beach.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know just where to go to find the best kites ever. From traditional, diamond-shape and box kites…

to fanciful fish and even dragon kites... 

the Up, Up & Away Kites shop in Seal Beach has the perfect kite for you.

Located on 139 Main Street, just steps from the Seal Beach Pier, Up, Up & Away Kites has every kind of kite you can imagine…and more.

 “We’ve got kites, flags, toys, all the wind stuff…spinners and wind sox,” owner Jason Natanson exclaims, pointing out the shop’s vast inventory.

You’ll find kites for kids and kites for the kid in you – fun, easy, starter kites, advanced, “stunt” kites for competitive flyers and all types of kites in between.

SurfWriter Girls couldn’t believe all the different types of kites to choose from. There are Japanese fighting kites, trick kites, and figure kites – from pirate ships to sharks – in an array of shapes and sizes.


And, to make sure the kites really do fly, the shop tests them first, says co-owner Melissa Natanson.

“We test every different kind of kite and know which ones fly in which weather and are best for what age group. If a kite doesn’t fly we send it back.”

Jason, who’s learned how to fly all the fancy kites and do tricks with them, can often be spotted on the beach testing a kite or giving a kite lesson.

He’s learned so much about kites since he and wife Melissa bought Up, Up & Away Kites in August 2012 that he’s on the committee helping the Pasadena Museum of History to plan its Kites, Wings & Other Flying Things exhibit scheduled for November 2013 thru April 2014.

To see the Natansons surrounded by all the colorful kites, flags and toys, helping customers, and trying to find room for even more merchandise on the jam-packed shelves or hanging from the ceiling, it’s hard to picture them doing anything else.

But, running the kite shop wasn’t something they planned.

Melissa was a news anchor for NBC-TV in Bakersfield when she decided she was ready for a change from pushing past CSI crime scene tape and covering murder stories.

Plus she wanted to be closer to Southern California. So, when she spotted a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of Up, Up & Away Kites five years ago, she went inside and got the job. Later the owners offered to sell her the shop and Melissa, with Jason on board as her partner, said “Yes.”

For Jason, who majored in business at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and worked in marketing, taking over Up, Up & Away Kites was just the right opportunity.

“Jason always wanted to have his own business,” Melissa told SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti. “Now he’s the Commander of the Kite Room. He flies, fixes, and teaches people to fly kites.”

Melissa has put her reporter’s memory and international relations degree from UNC to good use at the kite shop, too. Jason states proudly, “There are 1,500 flags and she’s memorized all of them.” When it comes to knowing the shop’s inventory, “she’s like an encyclopedia.”  

Together the Natansons are the ideal ambassadors for kite flying and eager to get people engaged in this activity that originated almost 3,000 years ago in China when silk fabrics stretched across bamboo frames were sent soaring into the skies. 

In addition to giving advice and helping customers to pick out kites, they give free kite lessons on weekends and are involved with the Up, Up & Away Kite Club and the annual Japan America Kite Festival, which will be held in Seal Beach on October 20, 2013. This is truly an event to see since it is the largest kite festival in Southern California. 

“When people think of kites they think of flying them when they were children,” says Jason. “That’s a shame. You should do it more.”

Melissa definitely agrees that kites are for people of all ages. “We want everyone to come in here and be happy.”

To find out more about Up, Up & Away Kites, you can call them at 562-596-7661 or visit their website at: Up, Up & Away Kites.

Then pick out a kite… and let it fly!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vive la French Press Coffee!

Coffee House or Your House –
Nothing Beats a Good Cup of Joe

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

Whether you’re heading out to catch some waves, getting ready for work, or looking forward to a lazy Sunday at home, there’s no better way to start your morning than with a good cup of coffee.

Howard Schultz, the mastermind behind coffee giant Starbucks, recognized the value of coffee and turned it into a $50 billion business…“one cup at a time.”

When we’re out covering stories or going to a beach cleanup SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel have sampled our share of coffee – from Starbucks (where you have to learn the lingo to  order it: “A skinny, mocha macchiato grande”)…

upscale Kéan’s in Newport Beach, founded by quintessential coffee roaster Martin Diedrich…

and the surfers’ choice Java Point, across from the Huntington Beach Pier…

to the ever present McCafé

and our favorite – Cypress-based John’s

But you don’t have to go out to have good cup of coffee. You can make it at home. 

Instant coffee won’t do for SurfWriter Girl Sunny. She makes her coffee French press style.

It sounds exotic, but it’s actually easy to do. Plus, when you prepare it for others, it’s like putting on a show.

And, you don’t need to get another high-tech, expensive gadget that takes up space on your kitchen counter…just a simple French press coffeemaker, available at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond,, or any number of stores. 

To make French press coffee, you start by boiling 18 – 32 oz of water in a pan on the stove or in an electric hotpot.

While the water is boiling measure out your coffee and put it in the French press. For best results, use coarse ground coffee. SurfWriter Girls love Java Jaws Surfers Blend.

Then pour the boiling water into the French press. 

Stir the water gently with a spoon or small wooden spatula.

Put the lid on top of the French press with the plunger handle all the way up.

Wait about four minutes for the coffee to rest.

Now the coffee is ready to be pressed. Hold the lid of the French press with one hand and push the plunger down slowly with your other hand, pushing the plunger as far down as it can comfortably go.

Voilà! Your coffee is ready to drink.

Pour…and enjoy!

Bon appétit 

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