May gray and June gloom are finally burning off (thank you summer gods!), and with the sun finally shining all day long, it’s the perfect weather to get to the beach - and really, what better way to spend a fun-filled day with family and friends than when everyone is in “vacation mode” and the kids are out of school? The rest of the summer is calling for clear blue skies and temperatures in the low to mid-80s at the beaches (truly temperate relative to the triple digits expected inland).
But getting to the coast can seem a daunting proposition: hauling a cooler, beach chairs, towels, umbrella, packed lunch, sand toys, and the latest beach read: which is why I believe the bungalows at the Pacific Edge Hotel are the best kept secret for the most unique, enjoyable way to experience the surf and sand.
Situated steps from the sand along a scenic stretch of Laguna Beach, the Pacific Edge Hotel features five themed beachfront suites, each with its own signature design and atmosphere and characterized by stunning interior decor that includes a comfortable living room overlooking the ocean, a VIP Bungalow Host, a private bathroom with shower, bar area, valet parking, catered food and beverages, air conditioning, flat screen televisions, and a private deck area with direct access to the beach. For our family, getting to the beach in the first place is a bit of a holiday in itself. Having discovered the luxury service of a private bungalow to relax for the day by the waves (and host my husband’s recent birthday soiree with family and friends) seems like a fairy godmother granted all my wishes at once. Typically, hotel beachside service includes a branded hotel umbrella, chaise lounge, mai tai, and some toys for the kiddos. Pacific Edge has taken the concept a entirely new level.
The hotel itself, set on the South Coast Highway, is just a mile and a half from the shops and art galleries in Laguna Beach, and twelve miles from Newport. Working with Billabong, Fox, Sailor Jerry and Gorjana + Griffin, the hotel designed a series of signature bungalows perfect for any type of gathering: corporate meetings, birthdays, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, or even just the perfect “day cation.” New to the lineup is the XS Bungalow, also known as the COF, or Center for Optimal Fun. Designed to give guests the best of both adventure and opportunity, the Bungalow has partnered with the Eco Warrior foundation, offering surf lessons, snorkel and free dive tours, mountain biking, hiking, and Stand Up paddling. After a long day of adventuring, what better setting to relax at than your private deck with a cold XS cocktail in hand?
If you just can’t see outdoor adventure and relaxing beach day going together, try the Billabong Bungalow. My favorite of the five, offering a soothing color palette and laid back beach vibes, is the perfect spot to grab some sand and laze the day away. The reclaimed wood accents and epic images of surfers riding waves on the walls certainly add to the ambiance, making the bungalow the most divine daycation yet. With five bungalows to choose from, there’s something for everyone: the day we were there, an entire extended family were on hand in honor of their matriarch’s 80th birthday; a group of motocross racers and enthusiasts were celebrating a recent win; even a band of boys (men who went to high school together 20 years prior) were gathered for a day in the sun that was “reminiscent of a grown up version” of their childhood man fort. From glamorous Gorjana + Griffin to the fierce Fox Head bungalow, summer is waiting for you at Pacific Edge.
As summer approaches and the final weeks of school wind down before the crazy chaos that defines “family vacation” days descend upon our household, my husband and I decided to coordinate a romantic weekend to celebrate (both of our birthdays are in the same month). We were looking for a locale no longer than about an hour away by plane, with plenty of outdoor activities and indoor recreation, a temperate climate and fine wine and dining. And ideally an all-inclusive experience so that once we checked in, we wouldn’t want (or need) to leave until it was time to head home.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (1 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay) proved to be the perfect two-night stay at an idyllic retreat situated between forested hills and a stretch of coastline that is arguably among the most beautiful scenery in northern California.
A mere 23 miles from San Francisco International Airport, this secluded, luxury hotel feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Perched atop a cliff on a crescent-shaped stretch of California coast with panoramic views of the Pacific, this luxury five-star, six-story resort is more akin to a European castle than a California hotel property. Spread out across the main building with several adjacent guesthouses, the 261 rooms are defined by marble soaking tubs, Egyptian cotton linens and large picture windows. From the moment we stepped into the lobby to the time we checked out, our experience was an unforgettable escape to another time and place.
From dramatic lanterns greeting guests on the front drive and glass of local wine offered upon check-in to indoor fireplaces throughout the property and wine tasting in Cork Wine Bar (the resort’s custom-built wine room), fire and wine define the “theme” of the guest experience here. Curl up with a good book at the communal firepits against a backdrop of breathtaking views and relax to the sound of waves crashing on the beach below. Enjoy a glass of wine at sunset or roast s’mores (gourmet kit available for purchase).
Rich in amenity and thoughtful touches range from a luxurious 16,000 square-foot spa, a trio of dining experiences (more on that later) and the Cork Wine Bar featuring Vintner Series wine tastings, local cheeses, expert sommeliers and over 5,000 bottles of wine. But our most favorite feature was hands-down The Ritz-Carlton Club Level. Often referred to as a “hotel within a hotel,” guest rooms and suites on this concierge level (available for an additional fee) allows access to an elegant, sprawling lounge characterized by sweeping ocean views (think waves crashing on the sand below and the signature 18th hole of one of the resort’s two championship golf courses), wood-burning fireplace and complimentary beverages and exceptionally delicious culinary delights served throughout the day.
We loved being able to pop in pretty much anytime during the day for a quick bite during the food and beverage presentations (Club Breakfast, Light Snack, Hors d’ourvres, Evening Desserts) - showcasing regional specialties made with locally sourced ingredients, whole fruit and freshly baked cookies. The lounge was the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine, champagne or made-to-order cocktails paired with artisan cheeses and cured meats and a farm-fresh casual menu.
Take a long hike following the Coastside Trail which follows the ocean bluffs between Pillar Point Harbor and Poplar Avenue. If you’d rather take to the water, California Canoe and Kayak and Half Moon Bay Kayak Company rent kayaks and offer lessons and tours. Sea Horse Ranch offers trail rides on the beach every day (except when it’s storming) and you don’t need a reservation. Just drop by (wearing long pants) and they’ll do the rest (there are horses of every temperament for the novice to the experienced rider).
Dining is also a special experience at the resort, the recently renovated upscale Navio Restaurant serves coastal-inspired California cuisine against a backdrop of panoramic views of the Pacific. Meaning “ship” in Portuguese, Navio’s wooden ceiling resembles a boat hull and its menu changes with the seasons - dishes here are true farm-to-table appetizers and entrees. The Brandt Farms Prime Grilled filet was cooked to perfection and the Fort Bragg Black Cod served with serrano ham, Half Moon Bay Artichoke, fava beans and spring onions was melt-in-your-mouth heavenly - and that’s high compliment from a girl who’s half-Japanese and knows her way around black cod (aka butterfish). Other popular picks included the Diver Scallops which arrived with English peas, pork belly and Little Gem lettuce and the Olive Oil Poached Halibut accompanied by heirloom carrots, puffed wild rice and snap peas.
Cork Wine Bar: Stop by the resort’s signature wine room for flights of wines, cheese and chocolate, as well as wines by the glass or bottle. Sommeliers specialize in introducing guests to interesting new wines and in providing education on every aspect of the wines.
Vintner Series: For the curious beginner to the seasoned wine connoisseur, the resort’s Vintner Series brings California wine country and wine educators to Cork Wine Bar every weekend. Each month, a different California winery is featured and representative from the winery is on property each weekend to educate guests about their wines and wine in general.
Monthly Vintner Dinner: On one Friday each month, the Chef de Cuisine of Navio creates a custom four-course dinner menu, meticulously paired with wines from the monthly vintner. Ingredients for the vintner dinner, including produce, meat and fish, come from producers in and around Half Moon Bay.
For more information, visit ritzcarlton.com or call (650) 712-7000.
TESLA DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Ocean View accommodations
Drive Tesla Model S during stay
Daily breakfast for two in Navio
Resort Fee, including guestroom internet access
Overnight valet parking
Valid through May 31, 2016 -
Starting at $959 USD per night
McDonnell’s “masterpiece fighting jet,” the F-4 Phantom, rolled off the production line in December 1960, as a fleet defender built to intercept nuclear foes. Delivered to Miramar Naval Air Station, the jet was eventually bound for nearly four decades of service in the U.S. military.
For a rookie pilot, the F-4 could be a little hard to handle, its two-seater capacity requiring a little more of a team effort than fighter pilots were used to; and a nose that rose notoriously slowly off the deck of an aircraft carrier. For those of us who know nothing about planes, let alone what Mach 1 or 2 mean, a slow-going-nose doesn’t sound like much. But for Colonel Gregory G. Raths, USMC (RET) it was as much of a trial as any: with a bit of speed, that slow nose could over rotate to a stall. A rather rude initiation to the Marine Corps, if you ask me.
Luckily, meeting Col. Raths is nothing like stalling out over the deck of a 45,000 ton aircraft carrier, even though his sights are currently set on becoming a U.S. Congressman this year - perhaps a task equal to lifting off the deck in a multi-million dollar war machine.
A charming, well-spoken man, the Colonel speaks lovingly of his parents, and the four brothers and three sisters he grew up with in Phoenix, Arizona. The fifth of eight children, Col. Raths had an early view into the life of a serviceman. His father served in the Army Air Corps from 1941-1945, as a bomber pilot during WWII, and flew combat in the European theatre in the A-20, a night fighter and adaptable light bomber mostly used by the Allied forces in World War II. His mother stayed home full time with the family, keeping the household running.
“As a kid, I mowed lawns, delivered handbills, went door to door selling anything from light bulbs to Christmas lights,” he says. Each step around the neighborhood was a step towards a life of service: to his community first as an Eagle Scout, class president, and multi-sport athlete, and eventually to his country - joining the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program in 1972 after his freshman year at Arizona State University (ASU).
“Why am I running for Congress? The answer is quite simple. ... We have a government with a 6% approval rating from the American people. Six percent. Congress members even now are receiving pay raises and huge benefits when Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living increase in 3 of the last 7 years. Hospital bills are rising. We need to make a decisive move.” -
Col. Gregory G. Raths
Enduring summer training at Quantico during the summers of 1973 and 1974, Col. Raths also received his Bachelor's Degree in Business in 1975. By the time he graduated flight school in Pensacola, FL, “Vietnam was over, and the military began drawing down its forces, and reducing its budgets. My first assignment was in Orange County, CA - at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.”
Closed now, El Toro was long part of the vision of a developing community - a vision that Col. Raths would like to see brought back to American towns. Dwight Whiting, Boston-born founder of the town of El Toro, helped establish the first church, negotiated the arrival of the Santa Fe railroad through the valley, and saw the future of the community in its gentleman farmers: working hard and living off the wealth and proceeds of their walnut and apricot groves. Replaced now by shopping malls and a new town moniker, the vision Whiting and Col. Raths share for the country is fading, and Col. Raths believes it is time for a change.
“The American people have had enough,” he says. “We have been deceived, betrayed by our elected officials. We need new leaders with honesty and integrity” - two traits Col. Raths learned en force through his tours aboard the USS Midway, and later as squadron commander off the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. “Washington D.C. has proven its ineptitude, and we must not allow this dreadful sequence to continue.”
His new assignment is a personal one: One he believes must be based on solutions, not politics as usual. Courage, rather than the opinion of a special interest group, or the hope of reelection.
Col. Raths has no aspirations to become a career politician - he’s already completed a 30 year military career and spent the past twelve years in the private sector as a commercial airline pilot, president of an automobile parts distribution firm, and is currently an author and publisher. He volunteers within his community of Mission Viejo as a member of the Elks Lodge, the Rotary Club, American Legion, VFW, St. Kilian Knights of Columbus and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the charity Patriots and Paws, a nonprofit organization that provides companion dogs, furniture and home goods to veterans and active duty members at no cost.
He is running for office because he simply believes that “a drastically new course for this nation must be drafted" and is committed to leading that charge on behalf of his friends, neighbors and fellow citizens in California's 45th Congressional District.
When asked what types of current policy he sees as going in the wrong direction that he would correct if elected to office, Col. Raths points to the "fiscal mismanagement of programs such as Medicare and Social Security."
"Why are members of Congress receiving pay raises and huge benefits when Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living increase in 3 of the last 7 years?" he asks. "Medicare co-payments, prescriptions and hospital bills are skyrocketing. I will focus on our seniors and see that they are taken care of.
“Why am I running for Congress? The answer is quite simple. We have a government with a 6% approval rating from the American people. Six percent. We need new leaders who are not worried about the next election or pleasing special interests groups. We can't count on the same politicians who got us into this mess to get us out. There is only one special interest group I am interested in serving: the people of the 45th Congressional District."
Col. Raths brings a unique experience and perspective to negotiating Washington’s political scene. Serving as Chief of Staff of the White House Military Office during Clinton’s administration taught Raths much about how career politicians function, and he’d like to be a force that changes those functions.
At Mach speeds, most modern aircraft must compromise in order to maintain handling ability. Supersonic speeds create shock waves, and the stronger the shock wave is, the greater the pressure difference, which causes a sonic boom. While those outside the cockpit are witness to the boom, those inside the aircraft cannot hear it. America is at the edge of Mach speed right now, cruising into the path of governmental dependence and the “damaging impact of complacency and apathy.” Col. Raths would like to take back the controls.
Overseeing military support from the White House is no small task, especially after serving in the military at such a volatile and unpopular time, and Raths is all too familiar with the stresses and victories surrounding military legislation coming from Congress.
He would like to make it clear that his next battle is back in Washington, fighting for the people of the 45th Congressional District where he’d like to “fix the mess that has been created by politicians invested in maintaining their power, rather than doing what they know is right based on the principles that made this nation great to begin with.”
For our future and that of our children and grandchildren: the time to survey the scene has passed. Start those engines, ladies and gentlemen.
Content approved by Supporters for Gregory G. Raths for Congress.
Hospitality has its origins in antiquity, with the first records of guest baths in Greek villages in early biblical times. Over the last two thousand years, the simple act of offering care for others has grown into a massive industry: from the first French and English rural inns and stables for travelers, to the splendor of the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Caring for others can be complicated, or it can be simple: and the San Clemente Villas are looking to keep it simple.
Aileen Brazeau and her husband Paul own and operate the Villas, and they’d like to think that hospitality is simply about listening. Listening to its residents, namely. “If we are successful at providing superior senior care and lodging, it is for that reason - we listen closely to what the residents tell us.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, seniors will represent 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030. As demand for senior housing rises, the Villas are ready to meet it with their signature recipe for success: hospitality.
Villas’ residents enjoy a level of service and care often missing from senior communities. Care plans are specifically tailored to residents’ daily individual needs, and with 24-hour assistance every day of the year, the center fosters as much independence as possible while still maintaining the highest level of comprehensive care. The staff, including an Assisted Living Care manager, Licensed Nurse, and Executive Director are involved on a daily basis with the well-being of each resident, ensuring that the safety, health and comfort of each resident comes first. “The first thing that Paul, I, and our staff focused upon when we opened our doors was that each resident has a story to tell, as well as unique needs. We are interested in their stories, and we care about their needs.”
Walking into the “grand hall” of The Villas is like walking onto lido deck of a cruise ship - minus the cruise director and napkins folded to look like chimpanzees. Clearly, Paul and his wife know exactly what they’re doing, and are excelling at it, as there are smiling seniors everywhere you look: chatting amongst themselves, or with visiting relatives or staff. If it isn’t Happy Hour on Tuesday or Thursday, there is bound to be a Luau, or Karaoke Birthday Party. And if that wasn’t enough to keep you entertained, The Villas host an annual “Villas’ Got Talent” show.
Taking a peek into the kitchens is an experience in itself, where a team of chefs prepare several entrees, side dishes and desserts at breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Our residents look forward to every meal”, Aileen states, noting that it is not unusual to see a home baked pie or cobbler on the menu, following a fresh, home-style lunch or dinner. “Casual “cafe-style dining is available, as is formal. Residents can even reserve a private dining room for family visits”. But balance and moderation are keys to offering a tailored care experience, and so the Villas also boast an exercise gym and beauty salon, a library, and a game area. Nightly movies are one of the most popular venues for the residents, showing on the “big screen” in a roomy theater setting.
Like any five star hotel, the Villas rely on the services that an on-site concierge offers. Through telephone and personal interactions, the Concierge provides exemplary customer service: allowing the residents to focus on the meaningful moments they have throughout their days, instead of stressing about what the day’s schedule looks like, worry about how to pick up a prescription off site, or how to challenge themselves to keep mind and body active. The “cruise ship that never sails” couldn’t be more accurate a way to describe the Villas. As cruise directors, Paul and Aileen operate the fully-staffed community. She, her Executive Director, Karen Milroy, along with long-time Marketing Director, Diana Sanchez, work magic in the Public Relations, Networking and Marketing arena, often hosting events at The Villas that are open to local businesses and the community.
On-site presence is what sets this community apart, and what keeps the ship afloat. Most senior residence communities operate through a parent corporation, run by hired representatives. Taking hospitality to the next level, Paul and Aileen have made it a point to keep their offices onsite at The Villas, and can be seen regularly participating in activities during the week. If you see them on-site, say hello, ask a question, and expect to be hosted like you are a part of the San Clemente Villas family.
Mission Viejo Wigs is truly a family business. Not in the traditional sense, where its owners and operators share the same genes. But rather in such a way that every person who has walked through Owner Betty Darroch’s doors in the 30+ years she has been in operation immediately felt like a member of Darroch’s extended family.
As a professional hair and wig stylist since 1962, Betty began her career at CBS where her résumé reads like a celebrity screenplay starring the coifs of a veritable “who’s who” of Hollywood: Ann Margaret, Carol Lawrence, the Midnight Specials and the Sonny & Cher Show. She went on to work for the Hallelujah Hollywood Show at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas.
But it wasn’t until she opened her own business in Mission Viejo that she felt as though she were “truly doing God’s work.”
Her clients today include people who are experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment, alopecia or other medical conditions. Betty specializes in wigs, hairpieces and toupees for women, men and children and carries only the highest quality brands. Each wig or hairpiece is custom fit to the client for the most natural look and feel – no one will know you’re wearing a wig unless you tell them.
“Hair loss, whether it is the result of illness, the aging process or heredity, can be a traumatic and emotionally draining experience,” says Betty. “We work with people on a daily basis who are facing the issue of hair loss for the first time. Our goal is to help you find the solution that works best for you and do so in a caring way that makes you realize that you are not alone.”
There are wonderful testimonials from longtime customers on her web site (missionviejowigs.com), but for me, the best testament to Betty’s genuine, caring nature came from a source closer to home.
When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago, there were so many aspects of what she was facing - including the side effects associated wit chemotherapy treatment – that were out of our control. But my mother’s appearance was something she felt she could dictate. We knew she would lose her hair, but she was determined not to “look like a sick person.”
From the moment my mother met Betty, she knew she had found the right place and more importantly, the right person to help her. Betty shared so many stories of survival – of longtime customers and friends who fought a similar battle and won. Her warm embrace and inspired hope and help steel her resolve to maintain a positive, fighting attitude.
The wig Betty selected was the perfect color and style for my mother’s face (and head) shape. The wig was so natural looking that my mother received many compliments on her “new do” and no one was the wiser.
It’s been over five years since my mother completed treatment and is now leading a cancer-free life. Although her own hair has long since grown back, she still often prefers to wear Betty’s wigs on “bad hair days.”
Thank you Betty!
The menu at this intimate, contemporary steakhouse highlights “sustainability-focused cuisine” - each grilled-to-perfection, mouthwatering steak comes from prime grass-fed, pasture-raised beef with no growth hormones or antibiotics. The organic produce used to create the inventive salads (think asparagus Ibérico salad with a poached egg and caviar crème fraîche) and side dishes (including the sauteed wild mushrooms and petite peas) is grown locally and harvested at the peak of the season, allowing for maximum flavor.
Everything is sourced from farms within 150 miles from the resort. The majority of the herbs are gathered from the resort’s organic garden.
Every meal starts with a complimentary pâté - on this night it was a chicken liver pâté accompanied by a multigrain ciabatta bread. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of pâté, but apparently enoSTEAK serves this acquired taste with aplomb because the aficionados at the next table raved about the taste and texture. Having said that, I loved the presentation - the pâté arrived on a custom “conversation piece” crafted from recycled wine bottles created by Elizabeth Gurklys, a Southern California glass artist.
For starters, enoSTEAK showcases artisanal cheeses and charcuterie - a curated selected of cured meats that are perfectly paired with a glass of a classic California vintage. Did I mention the extensive wine selection? This is clearly a restaurant that caters to the wine connoisseur - there are over 40 varieties on the dinner menu, but the master list boasts nearly 200 wines to choose from - the impressive decorative glass “wine tower” that serves as the centerpiece of the dining room holds approximately 300 bottles.
Chicken and seafood options are on the menu - the chicken is Jidori™, which means “chicken of the earth” and all of the fish is sustainable and either farm raised or pole/troll caught. But make no mistake: the steak here is king. Each handcrafted cut, including the Grilled Prime Bone-in New York Steak, the Grilled Prime Rib Eye Stek and the Grass-Fed Beef Tenderloin is from Niman Ranch, a farm that is committed to raising the highest quality breeds and is dedicated to caring for its livestock traditionally.
Accompanying the handcrafted meats and seafood are a selection of five signature compound butters including black summer truffle, roasted heirloom tomato, garden herb and garlic, 30i enoSTEAK butter and tarragon béarnaise sauce.
As delicious as the dishes are and as warm and inviting as the ambiance is, great service makes the dining experience here all the more memorable - each member of the team, from the hostess to the waitstaff, was extremely personable, attentive, knowledgeable and unobtrusive.
enoSTEAK is located at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, located at 1 Ritz Carlton Drive in Dana Point. For information or reservations, please call (949) 240-2000.
Some say life review is like a movie screen in the back of our mind replaying pivotal scenes, points of conflict or glory or moments of regret. This article seeks to provide a snapshot into the life of Hospice Care of the West (HCOTW) patient Shirley McDonnell as she shares meaningful moments, milestones she’s achieved and the people who matter most because “what is important at the end of it all is the people you love and who love you.”
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Shirley originally came to California during World War II. Clutching her Phi Beta Key and armed with Bachelor and Master degrees in history from Occidental College and a Masters in Education from UCLA, Shirley began her teaching career at Herbert Hoover H.S. in Glendale, CA. There she developed an innovative program for gifted students in the 1960s. In 1968 she moved to Beloit, WI when she and her husband joined the staff at Beloit College. The program she had developed in Glendale caused the superintendent at a high school nearby to ask her to take on a similar task and to revamp the social studies department at Hononegah High School in Rockton, IL. Shirley stayed at Hononegah, where she developed interdisciplinary programs and courses in Advanced Placement History and Psychology, until her retirement in 1994.
After her own children went off to college, Shirley won a number of teaching awards. One of these took her to Princeton University where an experimental program was instituted to bring in top teachers from across the country to form a teaching team to instruct other teachers about better ways to teach history. Four teachers were selected for the first national team. Shirley was both the only woman and the only public school educator chosen.
For several summers the team traveled across the U.S. working with outstanding teachers to develop new curricula in subjects of national import: climate change, immigration, racial strife, women’s history, the use of primary documents among them. Shirley went on to become a Fulbright Fellow to the Netherlands and to become a scholar in residence at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina.
An educator for nearly 40 years, Shirley laughs as she recalls that growing up, both her son and daughter claimed they would never pursue teaching because it was a career path with too much work for too little pay. Nevertheless, both went on to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Son Brett is a law professor at the University of Minnesota and daughter Evelyn is a journalism professor at Loyola Marymount Univ. Both have received many academic honors and both use innovative teaching methods.
After her divorce in 1990 and retirement from teaching in 1994, Shirley decided to move back to Southern California where most of her extended family are located. In 1997, she moved into Laguna Woods. Within two months, at a clubhouse dance, she met fellow resident Gerald Pomeroy, also a retired history teacher. The two have been” inseparable every since.” Unlike her first husband, Jerry shares Shirley’s love of dance. Jerry is a ballroom dancer who particularly likes to tango. An avid reader, Shirley also counts aerobics, lengthy walks and yoga among her favorite pastimes.
“I liked the small town feel of Beloit and it was a great place to raise my children,” says Shirley. “But I do not miss the five-month winters. “Laguna Woods has been a great place to retire.”
With daughter Evelyn and husband Bud living nearby, Shirley and Jerry are able to share quality time with grandson Cole. Jerry believes Cole is his best instructor in learning his I-pad. Both have birthdays rapidly approaching. Cole will be 13, Jerry will be 93!
An RN Case Manager for Hospice Care of the West, Gina Mendoza helps patients like Shirley manage the “comfort-related issues” that follow a patient’s decision not to pursue further curative medical treatment or when it is determined the further treatment is not an option.
“Shirley is an extremely intelligent, educated lady who possesses an awesome disposition and outlook on life,” says Gina.
“Gina also has such a great outlook that you can’t help but be cheerful around her,” says Shirley. “There were nurses who had told me that I shouldn’t wait to go into hospice and now I wish I had gone into this wonderful program sooner.
“Another wonderful aspect of having been in the teaching profession is that I have had the opportunity to have an impact – big and small – on so many individual’s lives,” says Shirley. “I have heard from so many people I have taught, many of whom have written such beautiful, moving letters, that it makes the end of a life easier to bear.
“Having made a difference in the lives of both your col- leagues and your students, being accepted in any community as a positive influence in the community, being asked by those in the community to serve in important, trusted positions and feeling highly valued – these things shine through in the letters I am receiving and it is making my son and daughter even more appreciative of their chosen careers because they know they are truly making a difference.”
I suspect I am not unlike most other people in that I prefer to do business with individuals who are not only highly qualified with a proven track record in their respective area of expertise, but also operate with integrity, personal attention and a straightforward “say what you mean, and mean what you say” approach.
These characteristics are all the more important when you are looking to a seasoned professional to help handle the finances of an estate and navigate the myriad of issues facing a surviving spouse upon the death of their loved one. That’s why it’s so refreshing to come across a financial advisor like Martin J. Lombrano who believes that success is all about being “others centered” – doing what is best for others, “having a strong moral compass, integrity, follow through, taking responsibility when something doesn’t go as planned, being clear with expectations, valuing relationships and taking the time to really know his clients and thoroughly understand their unique financial goals.
This philosophy has served Martin well in the 23 years since he initially became a financial advisor. Armed with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration on Finance, Martin has completed the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) curriculum at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) designation and attends annual state and federal continuing education classes to keep all of his securities and insurance licenses in good standing.
In the following interview, we asked Martin to address some of the frequently asked questions facing a surviving spouse or family member upon the death of their loved one.
Question: Upon the passing of a loved one, whom do I need to notify?
Answer: Every situation is unique, however notifying the following agencies and individuals is a key step after a loved one has passed and each is very important: Social Security Administration, deceased person’s employer or former employers, insurance companies, credit bureaus, credit card companies, mortgage companies, post office, utility providers, creditors.
Question: Do I have to file anything with the court?
Answer: After you have contacted the loved one’s attorney (if there is one) or at least spoken with an attorney or advisor experienced in estate or death administration, you should know which documents will be needed to be provided to the court if it is necessary for the decedent’s estate to go through probate court. Probate is a legal document and the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property under a will.
The Trust in particular is a detailed legal document that specifies every detail of the deceased loved one’s estate and how it should be handled, who should be in charge of handling the Trust, and how and to whom the Trust assets should be distributed.
Question: Do I have to find the will right away?
Answer: Typically one of the first documents to find is the Will or Trust. The Trust in particular is a detailed legal document that specifies every detail of the deceased loved one’s estate and how it should be handled, who should be in charge of handling the Trust, and how and to whom the Trust assets should be distributed.
Probate isn’t always necessary. If the deceased person owned assets in joint tenancy with someone else, or as community property with his or her spouse, or held their property in a Living Trust, those assets won’t need to go through probate.
Question: What should I do with the Will or Trust when I find it?
Answer: Ideally, you will want to take the Will or Trust to the attorney who originally drew up the documents. But if that isn’t possible, then finding an attorney or advisor that specializes in estate administration is the best avenue to pursue. You will want a professional on your side that can help make this process as cost effective and timely as possible.
Question: Do I have to probate the Will? How long do I have to probate the Will?
Answer: Probate isn’t always necessary. If the deceased person owned assets in joint tenancy with someone else, or as community property with his or her spouse, or held their property in a Living Trust, those assets won’t need to go through probate. The same is true for assets held in a Revocable Living Trust and accounts for which a payable-on-death beneficiary has been named.
If probate is necessary, then it must be initiated by the executor of the Will. It’s typically a time consuming process which can last 12-24 months or more and can be very costly in executor’s, court’s and attorney’s fees. In general, it is best to plan ahead and avoid probate.
Question: What important documents will the attorney want to see?
Answer: In general, you, your attorney or advisor will need: death certificates, Wills and Trusts, insurance policies, credit card statements, investment accounts, bank accounts, mortgage statements, last two years of tax returns, marriage and birth certificates, an up to date credit report of the deceased and family member’s contact information.
Question: What if my loved one did not have a will? What do I do to settle his/her estate?
Answer: You can settle the loved one’s estate without having to go to probate court depending on the total value of their estate, and their ownership and beneficiary designations. If a probate is needed and there is a Will, then the named executor will typically initiate the probate court proceedings.
Question: How long does it take to settle an estate?
Answer: With a Trust, the typical estate can often be settled within a few months. With a Will, it generally takes 12-24 months, and often longer. Typically in California, if you own a home, are married, or have children, then you and your loved ones can benefit from having a Revocable Living Trust. Some of the benefits of a Trust are the avoidance of probate, your estate remains non-public information, and a Trust may substantially reduce costs and time to settle the estate.
Question: My loved one has named me the beneficiary of his/her life insurance policy. How do I go about collecting the life insurance proceeds?
Answer: One of the most daunting tasks of a loved one dying is having to find all their accounts and financial documents and contact each company to see what they will require in order to pay a claim and/or transfer ownership of accounts to the named beneficiary or successor trustee.
Having an experienced advisor can help make this entire process simpler as he can reach out on your behalf to the financial institutions. This can save you time and aggravation in a time of mourning.
Having an experienced advisor can help make this entire process simpler as he can reach out on your behalf to the financial institutions.
Question: What taxes might be due after someone dies?
Answer: The loved one’s estate may need to pay off creditors, pay back taxes to the state or Federal government and in some cases may need to pay death taxes if the estate assets were significantly valued.
Question: What actions can a person take now to make this entire process simpler and easier for those family or friends who will be guiding the estate administration?
Answer: Either on your own or with an advisor, begin by making a balance sheet, a list of all your assets (what you own) and all your liabilities (whatyou owe). Be as detailed as possible with names, accounts numbers, phone numbers etc… for each entry.
If you have an estate plan in place, it should be reviewed every 3 years or with every major life event like birth, divorce, death, etc…
Make sure to review your beneficiaries on each account or asset you own including bank, retirement, pension, investment, insurance policies, and real estate to name a few. Most of all, have an up to date estate plan to help make this process simpler. If you have an estate plan in place, it should be reviewed every 3 years or with every major life event like birth, divorce, death, etc…
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
Imagine not being able to chew a steak for years and years and then going to your favorite restaurant and ordering a thick, juicy filet? Or biting into a caramel apple for the first time since you were a kid? These are real examples of the life-changing (not to mention the confidence-boosting, smile-enhancing) results experienced by patients of Scott G. Lamming, DDS of San Juan Capistrano.
Dental implants are now considered to be the single most successful procedure in dentistry today.
“Dental implants are very predictable, they do not decay, and they can last you a lifetime with proper care,” says Scott G. Lamming, DDS. “They are so successful that it is now possible to avoid root canals and bridges completely simply by placing an implant instead.”
Since implant dentistry is a relatively new option for restoring teeth, it has not yet been formally recognized as a specialty in the dental industry. Because of this the only current requirement is that a practitioner must have a dental license.
For my part (particularly when it comes to considering any procedure for myself or a family member), I look for experienced, highly reputable professionals. But while experience and reputation are a good starting point, they are not nearly enough when it comes to having a practitioner surgically implant anything permanently into my body.
Credentials are crucial. They reveal a practitioner’s level of expertise through a proven and scientific format. Would you want your family care practitioner performing heart surgery on you or a loved one? Absolutely not! You would want to put your care in the hands of the most highly qualified cardiologist. Likewise, there are renowned implant associations that provide such credentialing.
South County residents searching for the right dentist to perform their implant surgery are lucky to have to look no further than Dr. Lamming’s San Juan Capistrano-based practice.
Having completed a full residency in implantology, Dr. Lamming holds the highest certification of Diplomate in The American Board of Implantology/Implant Dentistry (A.B.O.I.), as well as Fellow in American Association Of Implant Dentists (A.A.I.D.) – a distinction he holds with only 499 of his peers in all of the United States.
A.A.I.D. has three levels of membership - Affiliate Associate Fellow, Associate Fellow and Fellow. In order to reach the highest level, Dr. Lamming passed a written test and performed 10 specified cases. To achieve his Diplomate in A.B.O.I., he had to have at least five years of experience with implants, log over 300 hours of continuing education hours specifically in implants and pass an all-day written examination – all this in addition to successfully defending his cases before a board of your peers (the same process by which specialists become board-certified).
Credentials such as these have a very low pass rate and are validated, objective proof that Dr. Lamming has achieved expert-level competence in implant surgery and restoration.
In the following interview, we asked Dr. Lamming to share his thoughts on common questions patients might ask when considering dental implants.
Sorbet Magazine: What are dental implants?
Dr. Scott G. Lamming: A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or a bridge or even a full arch of teeth.
Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
SM: Why would I need a dental implant?
Dr. Lamming: If you have a missing tooth or several teeth you need dental implants. The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
SM: When is the ideal time to place implants?
Dr. Lamming: The ideal time to place dental implants is at the time of tooth loss. This is when you have the maximum bone support available. Without a tooth or dental implant in place the bone will resorb away.
Sometimes this bone resorption is severe enough to necessitate replacement of lost bone via bone grafting.
SM: Why should I get a dental implant rather than just dentures?
Dr. Lamming: This is a very good question. From purely a chewing efficiency perspective, natural teeth and implants are equal but dentures drop down to about 40% efficiency at best. This is due to the lack of support and stability of dentures. This is very important due to the nutritional needs of the elderly. Without the ability to chew very well it is very difficult to maintain good nutrition and overall health.
The best answer to this question lies in the life-changing denture-conversion patients that I have treated. These are people that were given dentures as their only treatment option before implants were available.
These individuals have suffered with poor nutrition and ill-fitting dentures for decades. Now we are able to convert their dentures to implant-supported teeth with 4 to 6 implants. They can eat properly, smile with confidence and not endure the pain of wearing dentures. It is truly life-changing!
SM: What is involved in dental implant surgery?
Dr. Lamming: Placing dental implants is a very straightforward procedure given the proper training and preparation of the implant site. Proper sterilization techniques are paramount to the success of every implant surgery.
Dental implant procedures can be accomplished under local anesthesia or some patients request to be sedated for the appointment. A single implant can be placed as quickly as 30 minutes or a full arch with adjunctive procedures can take several hours. After years of experience a good practitioner knows exactly what procedures can be combined to accelerate treatment and what procedures require more healing time to be successful.
SM: Is the procedure for the placement of implants painful?
All of my patients comment saying, “That was easier than I thought.” Placing of implants is a very simple procedure. With skilled hands and proper equipment, implants and all of the adjunct procedures can be accomplished very comfortably. All patients are numbed at the site of treatment and upon request some patients are sedated. There is no pain during treatment. One can expect some post-operative soreness with a short recovery.
SM: How long does it take to place dental implants?
Dr. Lamming: We schedule one hour for a single implant surgery. However we recently placed a single lower implant in 20 minutes after the patient was numb. On more complex cases we might schedule only one patient for the entire morning.
SM: How long will implants last?
Dr. Lamming: Dental implants should last you a lifetime. This is based on the assumption that you are in good general health and you are maintaining great oral health. Implants do not decay and with current manufacturing materials and methods they are very strong.
SM: Are there any risks of the body rejecting dental implants?
Dr. Lamming: Dental implants are the most successful dental procedure that we do today. They have a very high success rate in the range of 94% or better. They also last longer than any other dental restoration.
Occasionally there is an implant that does not fully integrate into the bone. When this happens it is a simple procedure to place a new one in its place and it is generally successful. Once an implant has osseointegrated there is very little chance of any type of rejection. Implants are made of titanium which is a very biocompatible material.
SM: What about eating after implant surgery?
Dr. Lamming: We give each patient very precise instructions verbally and written as to what they can eat and how to take care of their new implants. Since there are many variations to each individual case this is a very important step in the success of treatment. Patients that receive a single implant are asked to chew on “the other side” of their mouth. Patients who receive a full arch of implants a.k.a. “Teeth-in-a- Day” obviously will need to chew on their new implants and we give a whole protocol for them to follow.
SM: How long does healing and construction of the replacement teeth take?
Dr. Lamming: The basic healing stage for implants is 4 months for the lower teeth and 6 months for the upper teeth. However this does not mean you have to go without a tooth! We can bond in temporary teeth or place an immediate temporary to avoid the “dreaded gap.” There are many options available to solve all situations. Again this is where experience is invaluable and can make your implant experience a breeze. Come in and see what we can do for you, I think you’ll be amazed how far dentistry has come in the last five years!
When writing a showcase on their respective businesses, it’s always nice to be able to get to know these individuals through the perspective of their clientele, but it’s even more fun when I can count myself among their customers.
Such is the case with this month’s cover feature subject: Susie Smith, owner of Backstreet Home Decor - the landmark San Clemente boutique on El Camino Real with a second high-profile storefront in the heart of downtown on Del Mar Street - a thriving business that evolved from a single mom’s desire to spend more time with her young children.
In 1978, Susie was working as a dental hygienist. But as rewarding as it was to have found success in the career path for which she had pursued her education and training, her full-time hours kept the young mother from being at home. For fun, Susie began making dried and silk floral arrangements for herself and her friends - her creations were met with such overwhelming response that she started selling arrangements out of her garage and as demand increased, she even began teaching classes in floral design.
“I was a mom, a single one and working full time,” she says. “I longed to be at home with my children and wondered if perhaps I could turn this hobby into a real business.”
With the encouragement of her friends, Sue “took a flying leap of faith” and opened Backstreet Home Decor and over the course of the following 35+ years grew from a 500-square-foot shop to the thriving business it is today. Between the two locations, Backstreet Home Decor and Backstreet on Del Mar encompass 5,000-square-feet of showroom space filled with fabulous fine furniture, lamps, mirrors, wall art and what is arguably the largest selection of the most stunningly realistic, gorgeous custom silk florals, trees and foliage.
Susie now has a staff of well-qualified associates that will provide in-home consultation specializing in full service, accent, accessorizing - as well as residential and commercial Christmas and holiday décor. This could involve “pulling together all the existing design elements in a home, or accenting a room with different picture frames, artwork, trees and florals, creating a new look or accent or designing a complete makeover.
“Client budget vary, of course,” says Susie. “Sometimes we do several rooms at a time, but for many clients, we just suggest that they start with a single room and then go from there. I like to start with the home’s foyer. When we get the right feeling for the entry, the rest of the process begins to flow from that direction.”
Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, the main location - located on El Camino Real - appears to be a small storefront, its windows displaying beautiful decorative items, jewelry, handbags and accessories. Step inside, however, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll discover that you could literally spend hours looking at all of Susan’s wonderful offerings, which range in style from Old World to contemporary.
Each piece is reflective of Susan’s keen eye for color, quality, texture, design detail and style - a fact not lost on the scores of professional designers who regularly shop here to decorate their client’s homes.
Beverly Stadler, past president of the Orange County Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, who has been buying Susie’s designs for her clients for nearly 30 years says “Susie is fabulous to work with. She has endless creativity and style. And her accessories and decor are fabulous ... and at incredible prices too! I recommend Backstreet to everyone - designers and clients.”
Homeowners who have taken advantage of Susan’s in-home consultation rave that she was able to suggest just the right furniture, decor, florals and color palette to create the look they were dreaming of - a fact that I can personally - and happily - attest to.
When our family moved from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano two years ago, Susie’s showroom the first and only stop I needed to make for the decorative items and accessories that would make our new house a “home.”
Friends and family have all complimented me on my “design style,” but I have to give credit where credit is due. Susie would be too humble to call herself an “artist,” so I’ll do it for her. Her vision of color, texture, line, shape, natural proportion and balance resulted in the beautiful floral arrangements and wall hangings that adorn our home, along with just the right accent and “statement pieces” to visually tie everything together.
“The ideas keep coming everyday from everywhere,” says Susan, when asked where she derives the inspiration for her designs. “Gardens, trees, flowers, photos, magazines and people. I have so many ideas and it’s such fun to work with my clients to make their thoughts and concepts into real pieces for their homes.’’ She credits her suppliers with providing the very best materials in the industry for her to work with, and is known by the design profession to have the best selection of silk florals and trees in the region.
The best testament to any business owner’s success are the comments that come directly from satisfied customers like Lloyd W. Glass of Coto De Caza who says “Susie is fantastic. She has done great work, with no problem, just great results since I met her years ago. She is the real deal.”
Cindy Caster of Dana Point echoes Lloyd’s sentiment and adds “Susie has a great eye for all styles and she is a joy to know and work with.”
While everything in her store speaks of high quality, her prices are surprisingly affordable. Because of longstanding relationships with vendors from the top decor lines across the county, Susan is able to acquire furniture and accessories at substantial discounts - which she in turn passes along to her customers.
“We only LOOK expensive,” she says. “What sets us apart is that all of our florals are custom designed on the premises. We work with our clientele to create exactly what they want. We really try to come up with the unusual - unique items that you just won’t find in every single store.”
Susie would like to thank all of her friends and clients for their business for over 35 years. “Because of your loyal support, my adrenaline is still pumping, my energy is flowing and I still LOVE designing! Thank you so much!”
If her gorgeous showroom and principled business practices weren’t enough to draw you in, Susie is one of the nicest people in town - genuinely passionate about what she does and more importantly, equally enthusiastic about building and developing long-term relationships with her clientele.
“The customer is most important, not what they are buying,” says Susie. “So many of my customers have become my good friends. I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.”