Jody Robinson - Sorbet
Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

There has been a surge in popularity over the past decade in the field of home renovation. At first, it was simply Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that brought us all to tears each week as they went through a family home and overhauled it, granting years of wishes with each hammer blow and sparkling new backsplash. Now, you can’t log onto any social media platform without seeing mention of Magnolia Home, or Property Brothers, or Rehab Addict. It’s hip to fix things up. Some fixes are better than others, though. And that’s where Platinum Pacific comes in. Not just in the business for a quick flip, Platinum prioritizes quality over time.

The mantra for most flippers is “get in, fix up, get out” as fast as you can. Platinum co-founder Terry Alderson feels quite the opposite. “We never rush a house to the market if we don’t think it meets the Platinum Pacific standard.” Founded just over two years ago by partners Jerry Bridges, Pat Goldhammer, and Terry Alderson, Platinum is in the business of home renovations and residential redevelopment: what is now commonly referred to as “fix & flips”. “I’m the sales guy,” Terry notes - “Jerry has the construction knowledge dialed, and Pat can navigate the complicated legal and accounting aspects of the business like nobody else. We quickly realized that getting into real estate would be a no brainer.”

pacific 2Working under the constraints of quality instead of time frees the team at Platinum to only use top caliber materials. When customer satisfaction is at the top of the list, the work is allowed to speak for itself. As the team completes quality job after quality job, “we get quality referrals. And those have helped Platinum Pacific grow tremendously - quicker than we could have imagined!” Their goal is not only to have a positive effect on their clients, but they’d like the quality to radiate outwards, to family, friends, and each other. Dedicated to continuing education and professional growth helps the team stay abreast of burgeoning trends. “Our pledge is to treat our clients and team members with respect at all times. We believe there is always a way forward, and failure is not an option.”

Most renovation in the media focuses its attention on single family homes, or specialty projects, like Extreme Home Makeover. Platinum Pacific has developed a solid foundation of real estate knowledge, and has committed itself to full marketplace relevance. Not only the leader of retirement community remodels, the team is looking to satisfy the individual building needs of each buyer, investor, and realtor on the market. With each client’s unique goals in mind, Platinum Pacific will present specific opportunities that fit the criteria. Fair, firm, and friendly, across the board.

Securing funding, buying distressed homes, and encouraging home ownership are just a few ways Platinum works to renovate and revitalize their community, and those surrounding their business. They also make a monthly donation to the SOS Children’s Village, providing family support care centers, hospitals, and schools to over 150 impoverished countries. A greater scope for a greater return. The Platinum promise.


terryFor a complimentary quote or to connect with Terry, Jerry, Pat and the professionals at Platinum Pacific, call (949) 677-0450.

LeoLeo is a six year old cutie with a shining personality.  A Jack Russell Terrier mix, Leo just loves to play fetch and is great on leash.  Most of all, he enjoys simply being by your side.  He would prefer to be an only dog and not having to share your attention.  Could little Leo be the dog for you?

 

 

 

 

WinkMeet Wink, a 1 ½ year old kitty who’s had a rough start in life. When she first arrived at the shelter, she had a severe and painful eye injury. Luckily shelter staff, veterinarians, and a volunteer group made sure she got all the medical help she needed.  Now, she’s all healed up and ready for a new home. Even missing an eye, Wink won’t be kept down! She just loves to run around playing with toys and then basking in the afternoon sun.

 

 

 

 

KevinSix month old Kevin is an adorable neutered male gray-and-white dwarf mix rabbit now ready for adoption. Initially a tad shy, Kevin doesn’t mind being held or petted once he’s in your arms. He is inquisitive and likes to check out what people are doing when they’re close by. Kevin has good litter box habits and will make an excellent indoor bunny for a lucky home!

 

 

 

 

FrankLooking for a furry friend but short on space? Perhaps a petite pet would suit your needs. Frank the hamster has a big personality in a teensy, tiny package! You will just love watching him run on his hamster wheel and stuffing his cute little cheeks with seeds. Once you meet Frank, he’s sure to win your heart.

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.

One of the biggest frustrations that folks have with Health Insurance when going into the Medicare Market is due to the change of terminology.

No longer is there a simple PPO or HMO solution. There are terms like Supplemental, Medi-Gap, Medicare Advantage, Part A, Part B, Part D, or Medical Groups vs Insurance Carriers. This is what Denice teaches monthly at her Educational Events.

Denice started out as an insurance agent 14 years ago offering individual Health policies, but soon found it to be disheartening when she couldn’t get a client approved, or they would get a decline letter.

DSC 6637Denice says she was introduced to Medicare and reluctantly agreed to sit in on a Medicare Advantage (HMO) presentation at a local Mimi’s Cafe. At the time, she wasn’t a big fan of HMO plans, thought they were limiting and wasn’t sure she wanted to represent a plan she wouldn’t consider for herself. Boy, was that about to change!

Lunch at the Mimi’s Cafe was an eye-opener. She recalled sitting in the room filled with about 15 seniors. The presenter walked through the overview of the plan and spelled everything out. What she learned was there were plans now that wouldn’t cost the client anything per month, they could go to their doctor at no cost, hospitalization stays also at no cost. Wow, being age 65 had its benefits! Everyone in the room was so appreciative and excited to enroll into this new Medicare Advantage (HMO) type plan.

So this was the turning point of Denice’s career and the beginning of her agency that dedicated all efforts to supporting the senior market exclusively.

The Agency “Merrill Insurance Services, Inc” now includes her husband (Stephen) for the last several years. He always says he’d wished he had jumped in years earlier and has never looked back on his sales engineering days, because he enjoys this so much. We have both found incredible contentment and passion in our day to day lives and helping others. We also are grooming other agents, so they too can replicate exactly what we do and have the same love of life and to be in this business of helping seniors. Education and taking the time to explain the details is what makes us different.

Denice shares that one of the most important questions every senior should ask is “How will MY personal prescriptions be covered?”

“This is what makes one plan a better fit for you than another” she says. “Honestly, I can simplify and help you to understand your options of a Medi-Gap Supplemental policy, or a Medicare Advantage plan and they all offer amazing coverages, but its the everyday or every month usages of medications that can really break the bank!”
Because of the ever-changing nuances of Medicare, it can be a nightmare to navigate, it’s also critical to find a professional you trust as a Medicare Insurance Broker…Just like finding the right Financial planner, or CPA, or Doctor. Choose wisely.

“It can be very difficult to know all the ins and outs”, says Denice. “But this is what a good Broker must do…compare different plans and different companies especially! Don’t be fooled by an agent that refers to themselves as a “Broker.” It’s important to ask representatives if they can enroll you with different companies based on your medication needs. If not, they are not doing a complete job for you.”

A complete job is what you can expect when you work with Denice & Stephen. From individual personal meetings, to attending one of their local seminars for a better understanding of this new terminology in the “Turning 65/Medicare World.”

“We strive to make the process as easy as possible,” she says. We love that clients get to keep their doctors. They really didn’t have to change a thing, except perhaps save money! In some cases, just rely on their doctors to direct them to other doctors within the group. Pretty Simple. It often is when you get to do what you believe in.


Connect with Denice directly by calling (949) 584-2646. CA Lic# 0H08139

A symphony orchestra is typically comprised of seventy to one hundred musicians. Depending on the work being played and the size of the venue, the philharmonic is comprised of brass, woodwinds, and percussion, sometimes including keyboard or a stand-alone instrument, like a standing harp.

Each piece has its part in the composition. Each piece has its own individual music, the notes blending together to form the symphony’s movements. Each musical note is vital to the performance.

A human body is comprised of six main elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. 60% of those elements makes a body of water. To sustain the symphony that the human body plays night and day - heart rhythm, blood circulation, nerve connection, one must receive the proper amount of nutrients, remain in an environment that is amenable to growth, and avoid injuries or weaknesses that would attack its regular performance. Colonel H.S. Dhinsa has dedicated his life to providing the correct environment for a vibrant internal composition. A voracious reader and trained horseman, the Colonel was born and raised in India. After graduating from his studies as a Veterinarian, he joined the Indian military as an animal vet and became an expert on breeding horses, especially in the areas of fertility and infertility.

Depositphotos 24433973 originalA delicate balance, to be sure, the Colonel spent thirty years in the military, perfecting the science behind the body’s own balance, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel. Taking early retirement, he and his wife moved to the United States in 1991. Individual notes in a larger symphony, joining the broad musical sweep of American culture, the Colonel realized how vital it was to alert his new community to the vitamins, herbs, and alternative supplements that could revitalize their health.

Graduating from the American Academy of Clinical Homeopathy was icing on the educational cake. A Master’s recipient of a Nutrition and Reproductive Physiology degree from Denmark added to his extensive background in reproductive physiology, nutrition, and clinical homeopathy. The Colonel began to stack up his experience, looking for an outlet to forge a new path towards health. His opportunity arose in 1999, with the purchase of Health Works Juice Bistro. Housed in Laguna Niguel’s Plaza de la Paz, the Bistro has been Colonel Dhinsa’s “Temple of Healing” for the past 18 years. Present seven days a week to give sage advice to his customers, the Colonel takes pride in the gourmet sandwiches, wraps, soups, wheatgrass shots, and fruit smoothies he provides at Health Works. “We are looking at alternative systems to supplement medical science, and produce a healthy body.”

Without the conductor, a symphony is simply comprised of individual instruments. Single sounds which, without guidance, produce cacophony. Offering free one-on-one guidance to his clients, Colonel Dhinsa is the health composer. Aligning a variety of herbs, medicines, and supplements, his homeopathic cures for yourself or your favorite animal companion will revitalize your internal composition and bring you back to the symphony your own body is capable of. What a sweet sound that is.


Pic CutConnect with the Colonel by calling (949) 831-9777. Health Works and Juice Bar is located at 27271 La Paz Rd, Suite A in Laguna Niguel.

In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pondered all the possible ramifications. This thing I realized? My mother appears a bit more stubborn than she used to be. She laughed when I called it to her attention, but the more we thought about the fact that she was growing increasingly stubborn, it occurred to both of us that this trait could prove to be increasingly problematic as she got older.

She shared that she had always imagined herself to be a strong elder - a grey haired grandmother who had seen it all, survived it all, and was stronger for it. But the real truth was that as she remains set in her ways, the traits that she could get away with in her younger years (like wanting to do everything herself and refusing to ask for help when she needs it) would only be exacerbated by the slights of age. At 84, she sometimes forgets the simplest of day to day tasks. Like taking her vitamins and prescriptions - on time and in the right dosages.

In an article referenced on the web site for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies have shows that in the United States alone, non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10 to 25 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions. Further, the consequences of non-adherence are enormous. Patients who don’t take their prescribed medications run the risk of serious health issues, including hospitalization and death (ref: mhealthintelligence.com).

medbox 04 copyHow prevalent is this problem? According to a recent Kaiser Permanente report, 72 California hospitals were fined in 2016 by the federal government for the disproportionate number of patients who returned within 30 days of hospital discharge. Ninety percent of these patients were readmitted due to health issues specifically arising from medication non-adherence.

“In spite of their difficulties and illnesses, many men and women prefer to remain independent and self-sufficient as they age,” says Andrew Harper, Co-Founder and Pharmacy Director of the Orange County-based AmeriPharma Specialty Care. “So many cases of patients who arrive at their doctor’s office with the same symptoms they were prescribed medication for, return still suffering, because they had not taken their medication as prescribed.” Or, as I could suddenly foresee happening with my mom, forgetting to take her medication at all.

A respected industry leader utilizing cutting-edge prescription packaging systems, AmeriPharma Specialty Care introduced the MedBox and helped set a new standard in medication management that has revolutionized the way for government-run healthcare programs, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities dispense medication. And now they are bringing the MedBox direct to consumers for use in the comfort of their own home.

Working directly with your pharmacy, AmeriPharma arranges with your physician to manage, maintain, and dispense your medical prescriptions - delivering them right to your front door. Packaged by date and time to be consumed, the MedBox is out to change the way we take pills - for the better. Wrapped in customizable packaging, the doses are easily identified by the patient and/or their caregivers, and even easier to handle and open.

Non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 death annually and accounts for 10 - 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions

“Dosage times are marked, and the procedure of actually filling the packets is done directly under the care and supervision of the pharmacist - which eliminates the chance of you, as a patient, misidentifying a bottle or taking the wrong dosage,” says Harper. “This is especially useful for those patients who cannot manage their own medications as prescribed due to physical disabilities, mental infirmities, or a combination of other factors. Fifty-eight percent of all patients over 65 admit that they have missed taking at least one dose of their prescriptions at one time or another.”

There is no additional cost to using the customized MedBox - patients keep their current insurance and co-pay and won’t pay a penny more for this service (delivered directly to your door - monthly, bi-monthly or in an emergency, within four hours!).

With benefits that include convenience, no additional cost, ease of use, peace of mind AND safety? The MedBox sounds like something my mother and I can both stay stubborn about.

For more information, call (800) 270-7091 or visit medbox.ameripharma.us

All the jokes my husband makes about potentially living under the same roof as his mother-in-law aside, my 84-year-old mother knows she can always move in with our family if or when the time arrives when she needs extra help in her daily life.

I recently learned about Acti-Kare, thinking forward about what options were out there for those looking to take care of their elderly in-house: options to give you more dignity, comfort, and independence, not less.

An industry leader in providing highly qualified, compassionate, and trustworthy caregivers, Acti-Kare is dedicated to in-home care, and Lori Renaud, R.N., is at the helm in South Orange County, steering her team towards excellence. Especially when it comes to senior care. Acti-Kare offers affordable in-home care - both hourly and live-in services - including transportation, meal preparation, personal care services, companionship from professionals who are screened, bonded and insured.

“I began Acti-Kare in April of 2015. Working in healthcare provided me with the opportunity to recognize the value and benefit of high-quality in-home care,” says Lori. “Too many seniors only have a life of existence, leading to isolation and depression.” Indeed, for those struggling with recovery following a surgery, like a friend’s mother after she broke her hip, life becomes smaller and smaller. Until the house you raised your children in can start to feel more like a trap than a triumph.

Acti-Kare utilizes a collaborative approach in working alongside hospice and home health care companies toward the same client/patient goals through open communication and a commitment toward providing outstanding service. “Our caregivers go to the client’s residence, and we are daily achieving my goal of providing seniors the opportunity to have a life with meaning, and a more active, social, and independent lifestyle in a safe environment,” says Lori.

As a Registered Nurse, Lori takes each initial consultation herself, developing an individualized plan of care for every client, and checking back in regularly to provide personalized health assessments. The Acti-Vate Program takes customized care one step further, challenging the norm of an age-induced fatigue, and balancing mind, body and spirit to improve the wellbeing of clients holistically. The knowledge that your loved ones are in careful hands is priceless, and the understanding that those hands are leading your loved ones to a safer, more independent lifestyle in their advanced years is immeasurable.

“I can now sleep at night, knowing my mother is safe,” says Mary, a client from Laguna Beach. “Not only does my mother now have a constant companion, her laundry is taken care of, mail sorted - but if she wants to go out and run errands or meet a friend, her transportation is arranged.” Clients can still do their own grocery shopping; but if they’d rather not bother with the task of preparing and cleaning up afterwards, or perhaps are dealing with a restricted diet, “Acti-Kare caregivers can prepare meals that maintain a healthy diet, as well as monitor their daily nutritional needs to insure sufficient nutrition.” Unfortunately, a great many seniors fail to meet those demands, leading to frustration, and often, a heightened risk of illness.

“I educate the public on disease management and prevention,” says Lori. “But sometimes it takes the presence of a competent, compassionate caregiver to ensure that corners aren’t being cut on health in some of the most important years of your life.” Treating every client as if they were a family member of their own, Lori’s team is confident that their suite of senior care solutions will surpass your expectations for care - without committing to a long-term contract or minimum hour block of service.

My mother is in fine health now. But as she ages and has increasing needs, what a great option to see her in her own home, running her own errands, confident, dignified and independent in the care right at her doorstep.


My Photo 2015My Photo 2015Connect with Lori Renaud, R.N. by calling (949) 558-2777 or visit www.southorangecounty.actikare.com

A brilliant smile is currency in California. Land of leaning palm trees, beach traffic, and the golden streets of Hollywood. Long-time resident of Newport Beach Bruce Glover, DDS, is no stranger to the demands of the local community.

After completing his undergraduate studies at Cal State Hayward, Bruce attended the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco, receiving his doctorate in dentistry, and beginning a life dedicated to providing the highest quality of care possible. A tough task, perhaps, for a doctor in a field that seems to be plagued with terrible reviews and generally bad vibes. Nobody likes going to the dentist. Just like nobody likes the hard work of getting back in shape, or tackling a task that has been on the to-do list for weeks, purposefully ignored. But everyone loves the result: gleaming, pearlized chompers ready for dinner tonight, or even for the silver screen.

Though he is as efficient, professional, and qualified as any dentist to perform the normal teeth cleanings, bondings, fillings, sealants, and more, Bruce has a special drive and desire to stay abreast of all the current trends and techniques. A regular attendee of continuing education seminars, Dr. Glover has the most up-to-date training on current technologies and techniques. “Implant dentistry has been a primary focus through coursework with Straumann, Zimmer, and others.” At his family, cosmetic, and implant practice in Laguna Woods, one can expect to be met with the utmost care and service, while receiving the most cutting edge of procedures.

Most dental care, to a certain point in one’s life, is preventative. But as the body ages, so do all of its individual components. The teeth sometimes take aging the hardest. When cavities are neglected, when bone loss loosens teeth, or they fall out on their own; when decay causes teeth to break down - all begin to happen with more frequency the older we get. Dr. Glover is invested in remedying these normal failures with the advanced procedures he offers. Crowns, bridges, dentures, implants, and root canals are all within his wheelhouse, and no procedure is finished until the patient is satisfied. “We are focused on providing top quality dentistry by using only the best materials and labs available”, Dr. Glover notes, “we aren’t satisfied unless you are.”

Also taking patients with TMJ into his treatment, Dr. Glover is dedicated to finding creative solutions for those in his care. As there is no one solution to issues that arise with the temporal-mandibular joint, a great deal can go wrong before a fix is found. Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing teeth that are missing, causing misalignment - moving teeth or micro-adjusting the bite, even using a plastic mouthpiece to prevent clenching of the jaw, or grinding of the teeth that may be contributing to the problem. If untreated, “the teeth surrounding (the issue) can begin to shift, or link up, creating a whole chain reaction of bad things.” When teeth deteriorate, gum disease can become a serious issue, and the difficulty of treatment increases exponentially the more neglect is allowed to continue.

Be it a routine checkup or your first set of dentures, “Our promise to you is that the veneers, fillings, crowns, and bridges we create will look as good as or better than the teeth nature gave you. You can trust your smile with us.” Take that one to the bank.


DSC 0337Bruce M. Glover, DDS Cosmetic, Family and Implant Dentistry is located at 24331 El Toro Road, Suite 340 in Laguna Woods. Connect with Dr. Glover by calling (949) 583-1400 or visit www.BruceGloverDDS.com

In In the Greek myth of the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and body of a man dwelt in the middle of a labyrinth. Built by Daedalus and his son, Icarus, the labyrinth swallowed all who dared to enter. Until the hero Theseus. Following his beloved Ariadne’s advice, the hero followed the labyrinth down and down into its center, never wavering to the right or to the left. Trailing a string behind him, Theseus came finally upon the beast, and after a mighty fight, slayed it there in the center of the maze.

Great story, right? Something straight out of a Ridley Scott movie. Though Theseus may be a hero clear out of the pages of myth and legend, a modern tour guide into the labyrinth exists, and will lead you through the mystery that is Medicare.

Ruth Page has lived in Orange County for just over two decades. Having spent a great many years in financial services, Ruth established Porter Page and Company, Inc. in the year 2000, and has been in the business of helping clients navigate the maze of healthcare options, specializing in Medicare insurance ever since.

“I first moved to Aliso Viejo in 1996. I love Orange County, and I can’t imagine living or working anywhere else,” says Ruth. “Well … maybe on a small farm with goats and chickens in Vermont or upstate New York.”

Realizing that her clients felt like they were battling their own beasts with Medicare was the first step to unspooling the Thesean thread: leading those lost in the labyrinth to sunshine. Sifting through the sludge of printed propaganda, government issues, and filtering healthcare noise is enough to drive anyone toward the feeling of quiet desperation.

The Porter Page team is made up of state-licensed and certified agents who are either on Medicare themselves, or who have helped family members evaluate their options and come to a decision about their Medicare. As Ruth recalls, “We quickly realized that coaching from the sidelines on a topic as complicated as this just isn’t an option. That’s why we’re in it with our members.”

While benefits under Medicare are divided into multiple parts, each with differing rules and penalties, Ruth and her team slash the monstrous jargon “and simply explain how these things work in real life.” Most Medicare beneficiaries are unaware that when first enrolling in Medicare, they have “once only” choices available to them during their initial enrollment. And, “we help you determine whether you need Medicare Part A and Part B if you are still working.”

As you face confusing health insurance plans, complicated Medicare, or part bull-part man, you can rest easy knowing that Ruth and her team at Porter Page and Company, Inc. have the string and the sword in hand - ready to cut through the red tape and lead you worry free into whatever life you’re dreaming about: apple orchards in New England, or margaritas on the beach.

Question: What choices do people have during Annual Open Enrollment?

Ruth Page: During the Annual Enrollment Period of October 15th to December 7th, individuals entitled to Medicare have the option to switch or enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans, switch prescription drug plans or enroll back into traditional Medicare. Once a change is made, the choice becomes effective January 1st of the next year.

Also, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.

Question: What is the one thing most Medicare beneficiaries are unaware of when first going on Medicare?

Ruth Page: Most Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize there is a lot that traditional Medicare does not cover such as vision, dental, hearing, or an annual physical exam. Also, there is no maximum on the out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part B pays 80% of approved costs and 0% of non-approved or excess charges.

For example, consider someone with only original Medicare having heart by-pass surgery. If their hospital charges $300,000 for the surgery and Medicare only approves $250,000 the patient would pay 20% of $250,000 and the $50,000 excess charge and for a total of $100,000.

Therefore, it’s smart to enroll in either a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. Either option will help you contain your health care costs.

Question: Do I need Medicare Part A or Part B if I am still working?

RP: Even if you have coverage through a current or former employer, you may still need to make some important Medicare enrollment decisions. You may have to pay a penalty if you don’t enroll on time, so it’s best to seek the advice of a Medicare professional to understand how your current coverage works with Medicare before making any decisions.

In most cases, for as long as you have group health insurance provided by an employer, you can delay enrolling in Part B, which covers doctors’ visits and other outpatient services and requires a monthly premium. When you eventually retire, or leave your work plan, you will be entitled to a special enrollment period of eight months to sign up for Part B without incurring a late enrollment penalty. Cobra is not considered creditable coverage regarding the Part B penalty.

It’s a good idea to compare the costs of your employer plan (the monthly premium and the co-pays) with the costs of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. In many cases, you can save money by choosing to enroll in Medicare.

DSC 7904Connect with Ruth Page and the professional team at Porter, Page and Company by calling (949) 297-3917.

Starting a new tradition at Ricardo’s Place in San Juan Capistrano

When Ricardo’s Place invited us to learn how to make tamales, we couldn’t say no! While we didn’t learn the exact secret to their famous family recipe, we did see how to put it together.

Ricardo recommends using any of your favorite tamale recipes, and told us you can really make a tamale out of anything. He recommends using onions, garlic, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chicken. After combining those ingredients, pack them into pre-soften husks, with your choice of filling or in our case, corn mush and the chicken blend. Then, place the tamales into a foiled covered tamale pan over a stovetop for roughly an hour.

For our part, with so many wonderful options available at Ricardo’s Place, Tamale Thursdays is sure to be a hit - and one that is bound to be infinitely easier and decidedly more flavorful than trying to make tamales at home (you can order them for takeout to enjoy at home though). In addition to Ricardo’s traditional chicken, beef and pork tamales, the menu now includes a rajas and cheese tamal and the albóndiga (meatball) tamal - all covered with your choice of red, green or Rosa’s secret sauce.

Ricardo’s Place is located at 32082 Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano. For more information, call (949) 493-4941 or visit www.ricardosplacesjc.com

I had been looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year for over a decade. It was the year that our son would be the 5th grade – the first year in which California students study American history. I had visions of showing him (and his 9-year-old sister) the places where all that crazy rebellion, revolution and nation-forming happened; places I had visited in the distant past and which I was eager to see again through the new lens of older eyes.

So we set about planning something more profound than a star-aligned school year: a fun-filled, educational family adventure that turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. It hit my husband and me the same way. We realized that we are in the midst of a very special window in time, wherein our children are old enough to really appreciate and understand what they see, and wherein they still think it’s pretty cool to hang out with their parents and, yes, wherein they are still subject to our schedule and our whim. That window is a narrow one. We are determined to make the most of it.

We believed the historic weight of Washington D.C.’s Constitutional establishment and Baltimore’s rich founding settlements would prove to be a real boon to our kids’ elementary education so at the start of their summer vacation in June, our family headed east. First stop: Baltimore.

Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Humanity is drawn to water. For survival, originally, then for industry and trade, and now, for leisure. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been a haven for humanity since the city was founded in the 18th century. Named in 2009 as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world” by the Urban Land Institute, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore is an attraction itself. Not just attracting ships for trade any longer, the waterfront was adapted as a focal point for public spaces, tourism, and housing. Now a historic port, the Inner Harbor is home to the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum and a short ride away, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s Druid Hill.

Boasting more than 16,000 animals, from sharks to sea turtles, the National Aquarium is a family favorite. Stunning exhibits attract guests from all over the world. A water taxi connects the harbor to attractions further off, including Fort McHenry and Fells Point. The renewal and transformation of the Harbor began in 1958, with the adoption and redevelopment of the 33 acre Charles Center by the City Council and Mayor Thomas D’Alessandro, and has continued since, directing the course of waterfront redevelopment with the successful additions of office buildings, hotels, and retail shops.

If the two-story dinosaur exhibits at the Science Center aren’t enough to keep the kiddos busy, and the pirate ships (ok, they’re really called tall ships) occasionally ported won’t suffice for the long days of summer, just head on over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and you’ll be talking about the world’s most interesting oddities for days.

Revolutionary Inklings

Fort McHenry, BaltimoreFort McHenry, BaltimoreFounded in 1729 and 1790, respectively, the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. hold much interest in the line that extends from the British settlement, through the war for independence, up until the battle of 1812; when at the Battle of Baltimore, the valiant defense of Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would eventually be called “The Star Spangled Banner.”

A decisive victory won by the colonists on September 13, 1814, the soldiers defending the Fort repulsed an attack from both land and sea following the burning of Washington D.C. by the redcoats. Named after James McHenry, a soldier and physician who served under Washington and Lafayette during the War for Independence, the Fort is star-shaped and red-roofed. Touring with one of the Fort’s rangers, we discovered what it was like to be soldiers during the Battle of Baltimore, witnessed a re-enactment, took in a twilight tattoo ceremony, and even saw the Fort McHenry Guard performing drill, musket and artillery demonstrations.

Open year round, and just a cannon’s trajectory away from historic locations such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield, the USS Constellation Museum, and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Gettysburg National Military Park

The site of yet another turning point in the tide of American history, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania serves as a reminder of the devastation the Civil War brought to the front porches, fields and gardens of its residents. Every home turned into a hospital, and every farm a graveyard. Known as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the National Military Park now remains as a marker to honor the lives given for freedom under the Union cause. President Abraham Lincoln commemorated the park with his famous eulogy, reminding those who listened to “renew their devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

artillery at Gettysburg NMP

Gettysburg National Military ParkGettysburg National Military Park

For me, this stop ended up being one of the major highlights of our trip. The entire battlefield is now a national park. You can walk the grounds and see it as the soldiers saw it. There are monuments on site from just about every state, because sons of just about every state bled there on that field. I cannot express with enough enthusiasm the experience of letting an expert historian and tour guide drive us around the battlefield in our own car, unfolding for us as he drove the events of those three heartbreaking days (visit www.gettysburgfoundation.org). The museum at Gettysburg is one of the best I’ve ever visited, and that part of the country is unspeakably beautiful.

USS Constellation

The USS Constellation is actually the third in the line of American ships dubbed for the configuration of 15 stars found in the original flag of the United States. With its own proud and distinguished record, “Connie,” as her crew calls her affectionately, has almost 40 years of service - through the turbulent waters of the Arabian Gulf to Yankee Station on the coast of Vietnam.

The first Constellation was built by naval engineers Joshua Humphreys and Josiah Fox, 165 years before rivets were put to metal on the USS Constellation’s proud lines. Immediately put to the test, much like her predecessors, the USS Constellation sailed out of harbor straight into conflict, as the first U.S. airship to launch strikes against North Vietnamese vessels and bases in August of 1964.

For the eight years following, Constellation returned to the South China Sea seven times, conducting air strikes, engaging enemy aircraft, and naval targets alike. Sailing under the motto “Spirit of the Old, Pride of the New,” Connie was the second ship in the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carriers, and has hosted various dignitaries over the years on her illustrious decks, including U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Pronounced “America’s Flagship” by President Reagan in a watershed moment in the carrier’s history, the Constellation would go on to lead 21 successful deployments, with over 30 commanding officers, over 41 years of proud service to her country.

For centuries, sailors have navigated the vast waters of the world’s oceans by starlight, finding their way over the dark and dangerous seas. And for over 200 years, the Constellation and her legacy have guided seamen home to free shores, kept so because of its work abroad in unfamiliar waters; a guiding light of American freedom.

America’s Favorite Pastime

Oriole Park at Camden YardsOriole Park at Camden YardsNow in its 25th season, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (www.mlb.com/orioles) is considered one of the best stadiums in baseball, with its throwback atmosphere, accessible location, and variety of concessions. We were lucky to experience America’s favorite pastime at the retro-style downtown ballpark that has inspired many other stadiums since and cheer for the Orioles against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Capitol Wanderings

Not to be outdone, on the grand tour of America’s history stands the Washington Monument, just an hour south of Gettysburg, and though currently closed for renovations, the 555-foot obelisk stands as a record of one of our first American heroes: George Washington. Part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Monument is administered to by the National Park Service, receiving approximately 24 million visitors each year.

Depositphotos 32863353 originalIf you’re one of those 24 million, and you’d like a tour of the White House, make sure you’re thinking well in advance: tours are scheduled through one’s member of Congress and requests can be submitted up to three months and no sooner than three weeks in advance). Like most of the famous National Monument sites, the White House’s draw is both culturally and historically weighty, housing the President of the United States since 1800. The President’s Park and its surrounding 82 acres offer myriad opportunities to step back into another time.

We contacted Congressman Darryl Issa’s D.C. office a few weeks prior to our visit and were offered a tour of the U.S. Capitol by a member of his staff who walked us through the Capitol Building’s historic rooms, including the National Statuary Hall, the Old Senate Chamber, and the Old Supreme Court Chamber.

During our “capitol wanderings” over the course of our stay, we got a glimpse of researchers working at the (stunning) Library of Congress, walked by the World War II memorial, touched the Vietnam Wall, stood in awe of Lincoln’s much larger than life (in reality and in spirit) marble figure, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, strolled the National Gallery of Art and encountered Picasso, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Dali and others through works we had no idea were housed there.

For the kids, walking around the Mall was hard work. There were steps to climb, fountains to attempt jumping into, and I’m certain the takeaways seemed almost too grandiose to comprehend. The legends of American history brought into sharp relief before our eyes: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr. From historic battlefields and modern day attractions to an all-American pastime, we started out chasing history but ended up making memories. We were lucky enough to get both. It only required a week away, a bit of forward planning and a realization that the window is open now, but won’t always be.

Incomparable Accommodations

KIMPTON HOTEL MONACO, BALTIMORE – INNER HARBOR

Kimpton Hotel MonacoKimpton Hotel MonacoIt seems incongruous to describe a lobby characterized by soaring marbled staircases and crystal chandeliers as “playful” until you step across the carefully preserved threshold of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Baltimore (www.monaco-baltimore.com). The entire experience was akin to playing dress up in the most exquisite jewelry and ballgowns as a child, only to find out that all the gems were real, and the dress was an Alexander McQueen original. The hotel does relaxing and luxury without the pretension behind it, and as such, has created a restful haven near the Inner Harbor. Ideally situated, the hotel offers amenities such as in-room spa services, and every suite is outfitted with a yoga mat, making your stay feel like a wildly relaxing version of home.

Kimpton Glover ParkKimpton Glover ParkComplimentary morning coffee and tea service elevate the experience even more, starting your day off with the right lift to get you out the doors and onto one of the Kimpton’s perfectly appointed custom PUBLIC bikes to ride around town. Back to the historic Beaux-Arts building for a lunch or dinner sourced from local farmers and purveyors at B&O American Brasserie will give your palate the ride of a lifetime. Once the headquarters of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the restaurant serves only the freshest ingredients, and boasts a buzzing happy hour with a craft cocktail program that makes it one of the city’s favorite hangouts: for both locals and travelers alike.

Kimpton Hotel MonacoKimpton Hotel Monaco

Kimpton Glover ParkKimpton Glover Park

Just a short walk or ride to the city’s most famous attractions, and a short skip into its historic neighborhoods makes the Kimpton Hotel Monaco a perfect jumping off point for any social event, business meeting, or quick, luxurious and truly playful getaway.

KIMPTON GLOVER PARK, WASHINGTON D.C.

Sometimes, staying in the heart of the action is exactly where you want to be. But occasionally, a tree-lined street away from the sensory barrage of the city beckons with a Siren’s call. A quiet, boutique hotel nestled in Upper Georgetown, the Kimpton Glover Park (www.gloverparkhotel.com) offers beautifully appointed guest rooms above the canopy of Rock Creek Park. Easily accessible to the buzz and hum of Georgetown’s cobblestoned streets, the hotel finds a quiet confidence among the neighborhood, oozing relaxation after a hectic day of business meetings or sightseeing.

Whether you just came from the Kennedy Center or Georgetown University’s stunning campus, life is good inside Casolare, a James Beard award-winning destination restaurant. Serving Chef Michael Schlow’s family favorites from Amalfi, Sardinia, Puglia, Cinque Terre, and Livorno, Casolare brings Italy to Glover Park. The eatery provides a vibrant selection of seafood, as well as wood-fired pizza and antipasti. Perfect for a large group of friends and family, or new colleagues eager for a taste of the city. Inspired by the neighborhood’s namesake, Charles Carroll Glover - a banker and philanthropist who famously helped reshape the nation’s capital with donations of almost 3,000 acres of parkland - the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel blends the urban edge with familial comfort and tranquility.

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