Jody Robinson - Sorbet
Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson


Mar 30, 2016

Delicious dishes, an extensive - and impressive - wine selection and impeccable service defines this signature restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

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.”

Shirley 2A 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.

Grandson Cole, age 12For 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 & Jerry, Laguna Wood Dance“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.”

An Estate Planning Q & A with Martin J. Lombrano, AIF®, LPL Financial Advisor

Pence Wealth Management

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.

Dr. Lamming is accepting new patients,  call us at 949 661-2290 for your appointment!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! 

B976SM: 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?

imag001Dr. 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!

Why Choose Us?

Warm, friendly and knowledgeable staff
Expert insurance processing to maximize benefits
State-of-the-Art technology and equipment
Voted “Best Dentist” in Orange County
Same day appointments / emergencies
Patient financing available
Certified Invisalign Dentist
Highest credentials for implant therapy
Sedation, pain-free dentistry
Voted “America’s Top Dentists”
We want to be your dentist for life
lammingConnect with Dr. Lamming by calling (949) 661-2290 or visit

Contact us at (949)661-2290 to find out how you can save $5000
Converting those loose dentures (or teeth) to solid implants so you can eat whatever you want again!

Accents and accessories to make a house your “home”

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.”

Connect with Susie by stopping by Backstreet Home Decor at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, calling (949) 498-2210 or

One of the perks of publishing South County Magazine is that I am provided a venue to share with our readership personal experiences with local business owners like Jose Bautista, owner of the South County-based Total Floor Care.

Jose helped restore our granite kitchen countertop to like-new condition (after someone who shall remain nameless left a can of cleaner on top of the counter long enough for the chemicals to mar the surface with a glaring white ring).

When we moved into our new home a few months ago, we called Jose again – this time to see if he could work his magic in restoring the dull marble and travertine flooring in our entryway and master bathroom.

And again, his work more than exceeded our expectations – the results were such a dramatic improvement and we can’t speak highly enough of the care and time he put into the projects … you would have thought he was restoring stone in his own home.

For Jose Bautista, owning and operating his own business is a true “family affair.” What started as a part-time position at his brother’s tile and carpet cleaning company nearly two decades ago has evolved into his own thriving business serving all of Orange County’s stone and granite repair needs.

Because Jose worked his way up through the ranks to become main-tenance and distribution manager for CBM Carpet Cleaning and Handyman Service and eventually took over as the company’s opera-tions manager, he has firsthand ex-perience in every facet of the industry. As CBM grew, Jose re-ceived continual ongoing educa-tion training and earned his certification in order to be able to hire and personally train the com-pany’s technicians and worked alongside several flooring fran-chisees in the testing of products.

For Jose Bautista, owning and operating his own business is a true “family affair.” What started as a part-time position at his brother’s tile and carpet cleaning company nearly two decades ago has evolved into his own thriving business serving all of Orange County’s stone and granite repair needs.

By 2012, Jose was spending much of his time on the road overseeing installations and restorations and wanted to work closer to home to spend more time with his family and Total Floor Care was born.
Jose specializes in “preserving your stone’s natural beauty and maintaining and/or restoring your flooring to like-new condition.” His scope of services include stone and granite repair, granite countertop polish and sealing, concrete stain-ing, marble/natural stone cleaning and polishing, flagstone and pavers and tile and grout maintenance.

“With proper care, we can extend the life of your flooring invest-ment,” says Jose. “I pride myself on customer service and believe that’s what sets Total Floor Care apart. I provide free demos to ensure there’s a clear understanding of ex-pectations. I also provide multiple options to customers and try to ed-ucate them on proper maintenance after the floors have been cleaned or restored.
“I don’t leave until the job is well done and the customer is happy with the results. Big or small, every job is important to me.”

To connect with Jose and Total Floor Care, call (949) 637-6840.

The holidays are right around the corner, and in our house, we take advantage of the opportunity to plan our annual family portrait when three generations of relatives are here visiting and we have everyone under one roof.

We have been lucky to find a wonderful local photographer who is simply a joy to work with. Melisa Chandler of Chandler Photography has beautifully captured our family in cherished images that adorn the walls of each of our family members’ homes.

She might come from humble and adorable beginnings (her first models were butterflies and her Strawberry Shortcake doll), but she’s made a quite a name for herself as South County’s affordable and professional studio/location photographer. Specializing in family portraits, weddings, engagements, corporate and pet photos, along with photo restoration and much more, Melisa is fully vested in getting to know you so she captures your best photo-self at the right moment, so you’ll treasure it for a lifetime.

“I love what I do,” says Melisa, who has been a professional photographer for nearly 20 years. “My business is 90% word of mouth. I am very patient, and I do whatever what I can to make my sessions stress-less and fun for my clients!”

Melisa is also famous for her participation in local school fundraisers for many schools in San Clemente. She’s also a Photoshop expert and works alongside her husband to ensure you get the best quality prints possible. “I have about seven years of experience with digital workflows and print fulfillment with a focus on digital retouching and document restoration,” Melisa says. Her husband (and assistant) Tim, in the digital aspects of the business has also used Photoshop for almost 13 years. “My focus is on digital image and video creation/production, highlighting on creative digital photography and concept work,” he says. We both enjoy the challenge of honing our digital skill-sets and can offer experience-backed full retouching and digital photo-editing services at unbeatable rates. From simple clean up of the casual stray hair to full head and body replacement or background switching, we’ll happily discuss your digital editing and retouching needs as part of our services. Just give us a call!”

Connect with Melisa and Tim by calling (949) 388-1859 or visit

Dr. Ivar Roth’s practice an exclusive, revolutionary laser treatment for toenail fungus

A staggering 40 million people in the United States struggle with toenail fungus (onychomycosis). This condition often starts as a small white or yellow spot under the toenail, but if left untreated can spread and cause the nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. As the nail becomes more brittle, it may lead to pain and inflammation.

ivan rothIf there’s currently no pain involved, many people will put off addressing the condition or ignore the problem altogether, opting instead to cover their feet and turn a blind eye.

But the truth is, if you’re affected by toenail fungus, you have an organism living in your nail that can spread – to other toenails or even other parts of the body.

The other issue with ignoring nail fungus is that the fungus creates cracks and openings in the skin where bacteria can get in and cause infections. For individuals who have nerve damage or poor circulation, leaving the issue untreated can have serious consequences.

Once fungus gets under a toenail, it’s difficult to treat on your own. Topical toenail treatments don’t always work and oral medications carry a risk of side effects and can be hard on the body.

But an increasing number of Southern Californians have discovered a simple, proven solution - a revolutionary laser treatment offered by Ivar Roth, DPM of the Newport Beach-based Concierge Podiatry. Dr. Roth is the only podiatrist in Orange County to offer treatment with the Noveon Laser - the latest technology in laser treatment for toenail fungus.

Patient Ed Garcia contracted toenail fungus nearly six years ago and spent the subsequent five years attempting to eradicate the problem. He tried a “number of different medications” and even had a podiatrist perform laser treatment to no avail.

“The fungus kept progressing to where I ended up having it on five toes,” says Ed. “I finally decided to give laser treatment another try – this time with a different doctor. I came to Dr. Roth over a year ago and today, the fungus is completely gone on four of the nails and nearly gone on the last nail, but even that nail is 1000 percent better than it was. Dr. Roth’s treatment worked like a charm.”

Like Garcia, Bill Gojkov, had been living with toenail fungus for “most of my adult life” and had “tried everything I could think of to get rid of it.”

“After treatment with Dr. Roth, the fungus is completely gone,” he says. “I had tried everything before I went to Dr. Roth and now, everything is perfect.”

Another of Dr. Roth’s patients, Jay Hosey, agrees with Garcia and Gojkov and adds that his “pretty severe case of toenail fungus” started out as athlete’s foot as a teenager.

ToeAfter“Over the years, I tried over-the-counter drugs and even went to a dermatologist, but nothing worked,” says Jay. “Dr. Roth really knows his stuff. Although he can treat many different foot problems, he’s very focused on this aspect of his practice and it shows in the results he achieves for his patients. My case was pretty pronounced and quite embarrassing, but Dr. Roth got it cleaned up and cleared out and I couldn’t be happier.”

In the following interview with Dr. Roth, we asked Dr. Roth to share his thoughts on common questions prospective patients might ask when considering treatment.

Sorbet: What are the symptoms of toenail fungus?

Ivar Roth, DPM: Nails that have fungus generally are thicker and are discolored. Depending on the severity of the problem the appearance can go from white or brown spots or areas on the nails to extremely thick deformed nails.

Sorbet: What causes toenail fungus?

Ivar Roth, DPM: The cause is usually from trauma to the nail and subsequent exposure to the fungus organism. Poor nail salon cleanliness, gyms, public showers and lack of hygiene have been implicated as a cause of fungal infections.

Sorbet: How common is nail fungus?

Ivar Roth, DPM: Toenail fungus is extremely common. I would estimate that 50% of the population has at least one infected nail. Like all problems, it starts out as small and slowly grows and gets worse.

Nail fungus begins as a white or yellow spot under the toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause the nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge.

Sorbet: How does the laser treatment work?

Ivar Roth, DPM: The laser bathes the toe in a special light wavelength that shines a laser/light beam through your toenail and eradicates the pathogens embedded in your nail bed and nail plate that cause toenail fungus.

Sorbet: Is the treatment painful?

Ivar Roth, DPM: The laser light beam does not harm the nail or surrounding skin. Some patients may experience mild discomfort from the heat the laser generates, but the Noveon laser has a special pause button that the patient has control of. If the laser light is too strong, the patient simply activates the switch to immediately pause the laser.

Sorbet: How long does the treatment typically take?

Ivar Roth, DPM: Depending on the severity, two to four treatments - two to four weeks apart.

Sorbet: What is the success rate for laser treatments for toenail fungus? Are the results lasting?

Ivar Roth, DPM: I have developed a new process called the LANCE procedure. This acronym stands for Laser Assisted Nail Care Excellence. With this new process, we are achieving better results much more quickly. I can say with utmost confidence that nearly all nails can be treated effectively.

On average, a toenail will replace itself every 9-12 months. Healthy new growth will be visible within the first 3 months as your nails continue to grow so patients see improvement within a few weeks following treatment.

Sorbet: Can patients walk right away following treatment (i.e. what is the recovery period following treatment)?

Ivar Roth, DPM: Patients are able to walk out with no discomfort.

Connect with Dr. Roth by calling (949) 650-1147. Concierge Podiatry is located at 351 Hospital Road, Suite 407 in Newport Beach.

Offer many ways to conquer stress and balance your life

If you feel like your stress is robbing you of your life, your connection to your loved ones, and a deep feeling of joy, it’s probably because it is. Recent research has pointed to stress as a trigger for inflammation, which plays a significant role in the development and progression of a multitude of chronic conditions, from digestive problems to heart disease, from weight gain to diabetes to sleep issues.

Regardless of the physiological mechanisms, it’s clear that if we want to be physically and mentally well, we must conquer our stress. A tall order for any Southern Californian.

If you could use a “reset” to break out of your negative patterns – whatever the cause – Utopia Within and Awoken Life Brainwave Optimization® may be just what you need. Based in San Juan Capistrano, this comprehensive center offers a new and innovative approach to stress reduction where “advanced technology meets ancient techniques.” The Utopia Within team helps you address the stressors that are leading you to feel unwell and unhappy.

Some of these modalities include Brainwave Optimization®, Tibetan Singing Bowls, hypnotherapy, meditation/guided visualizations, Reiki, individual and group life coaching, and more.

Mary McPherson Founder of Awoken Life and Utopia Within, holds a degree in chemical engineering and has earned numerous certifications in the healing arts including Certified Advanced Specialist for Brainwave Optimization.  Michelle Newell, associate and Brainwave Optimization Specialist, also holds certifications and specific knowledge that make her a unique addition to the team. 


Through Utopia Within, Mary and Michelle are able to combine their education, skills, talent and training with a deep desire and passion for helping people live their best lives. 

Mary has also put together a team of skilled professionals who’s proven, cutting edge techniques with highly personalized care can help individuals get back to balance – or find it for the first time ever.

When I met with Mary for this feature, it was immediately evident that she loves what she does – helping individuals “awaken their limitless potential” by focusing on providing the highest level of personal care to each and every client. 

For the many clients who have come to Mary over the years suffering from a feeling of “being disconnected from themselves,” Utopia Within is quite literally an oasis – a sanctuary in which to rediscover a sense of happiness and joy that comes from within. 

“In life, there are moments and decisions that define the course of your future,” says Shana, age 40, of San Juan Capistrano. “When I found Mary and the team at Awoken Life, I knew I had come upon something that would help elevate my health and life to a new level. As a nutritional coach, I have tried many healing modalities over the course of my life and none have had the powerful impact of Brainwave Optimization.

Shana continues that she believes that Brainwave Optimization “is a 21st century tool to maximize your human potential and live a balanced, peaceful and productive life. I found Mary to be professional, kind and deeply passionate about her work. The additional modalities offered at Awoken Life serve to deepen and support the work of Brainwave Optimization and provide a rich canvas on which to create a life that inspires you.”

In the following interview, I asked Mary to share her thoughts on common questions prospective clients might ask when considering incorporating these holistic modalities into their lives.

South County Magazine: Many of our readers have not heard of Brainwave Optimization®. In layman’s terms, please explain what it is and how it can benefit individuals suffering from a wide range of ailments including sleep disorders, depression, feelings of anxiousness and inability to focus.

Mary McPherson: Brainwave Optimization is an amazing EEG-based technology that helps one’s own brain relax in a deep and profound way to achieve dynamic flexibility.  The benefits from this flexibility are increased cognitive performance, better sleep, enhanced self-regulation and diminished feelings of anxiousness, sadness, and hopelessness. Brainwave Optimization® acts a catalyst to support the brain to optimize itself in a way unlike any other approach that has come before.  

At Awoken Life, we start with a complimentary consultation to fully explain the process and answer any questions. Then we conduct a comprehensive assessment and design customized sessions based on your specific brain patterns.  Each brain is like a fingerprint - unique to you as an individual. This noninvasive procedure offers measurable results in as little as five days!

SCM: What do you feel sets your office apart from others in the industry?

MM: Our office approaches every client as an individual and takes into consideration their unique circumstances and overall goals to create a personalized program.  

We deeply value each client’s time and pride ourselves on supporting their growth and education.  Our goal is to help each person understand how life experiences, including injuries and traumas, may result in a non-optimized life and how Brainwave Optimization® supports the brain’s own ability to heal itself. 

SCM: After four years as Awoken Life Brainwave Optimization, why are you introducing Utopia Within and adding so many new modalities?

MM: In the four years since I founded Awoken Life, I have come to realize that one of the greatest obstacle people face is ongoing stress. People find it hard to relax and just take a moment to breathe. It’s important to us that our clients know we care about their journey to wellness.

With that in mind, we opened a new branch of our business -  Utopia Within – to expand our services to incorporate several complementary modalities that support stress reduction, greater cognitive performance and personal awareness such as hypnotherapy, life coaching, nutritional counseling, Reiki, Tibetan Singing Bowls, meditation classes and self-improvement workshops. Clients can incorporate any of these modalities into their Brainwave Optimization package or participate in any or all a la carte.

Brainwave Optimization is an amazing EEG-based technology that helps one’s own brain relax in a deep and profound way to achieve dynamic flexibility.

Scott E. West, DDS

Orange County’s premier expert in oral appliance therapy for snoring, sleep apnea and CPAP intolerance

I bet you didn’t know you could sleep your way to a better life. That’s exactly what Scott E. West, DDS, helps his patients do. Focusing on Snoring, Sleep Apnea and CPAP intolerance, Dr. West has become the premier expert in oral appliance therapy.

While CPAP masks are the most effective treatment protocol, it’s not always the best solution for individuals suffering from sleep apnea, a problem that affects the health and longevity of millions.

“The number one treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP mask. But if you take 100 people who have been told they have sleep apnea, and know that the effects of sleep apnea are very damaging to their health, and you give them the CPAP, and then follow up with them a year later, 60% of them are not wearing it,” says Dr. West, a member of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and Diplomat of the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines. “They don’t do a lot of good in the closet.”

For patients who are CPAP intolerant, the oral appliance is the best alternative and dentists like Dr. West are the professionals licensed to work with these devices. While most dentists are trained on one type of sleep aid appliance, Dr. West works with many types of oral appliances.

“We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to our patients,” says Dr. West, who is one of the few Medicare providers for this procedure.’’ ‘’I have developed a system of simple test where each patient can actually see which appliance will be most effective for them. For this reason, we have a very high success rate.’’

In the mid-1970s, Dr. West began his career as a general dental practitioner in Mission Viejo, where he focused on cosmetic and family dentistry.

“From day one, I’ve truly enjoyed helping people,” says Dr. West.  “I enjoyed staying on the cutting edge of aesthetic dentistry, but also became interested in ways to improve my overall health and the health of my patients.”

I can’t tell you how good it feels to hear a patient tell me they’ve had the best sleep in years, or that they’ve been able to sleep in the same room as their partner again

Because of this, it was a natural progression for Dr. West to find himself working closely with Holistic and Naturopathic practitioners and to begin approaching dentistry from a biological point of view. 

So, when a colleague contacted him seven years ago about an oral device he had developed to treat patients with Sleep Apnea and snoring problems, Dr. West expanded his practice to include treatment for sleep issues.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to hear a patient tell me they’ve had the best sleep in years, or that they’ve been able to sleep in the same room as their partner again,” he says. “I’ve seen a patient’s whole life change just because they got a good night’s sleep!”

His 95% patient success rate speaks volumes, but the countless husband and wives he’s helped take their testimonials a step further, crediting him with being something of a miracle worker.

If you think you might have a sleep problem or have participated in a sleep study and are interested in alternatives to the CPAP mask, Dr. West’s office should be the first phone call you make.

Consultations are complimentary. Among the most common comments from patients is that Dr. West explains their condition and available treatment in such a way that it’s easy to understand and determine the best options to address their individual needs.

Dr. West is now located in Lake Forest just blocks off the 5 freeway.  With convenient parking right at his front door, he treats patients from as far North as Los Angeles and as far South as San Diego.

If you would like to know more about Dr. West, visit his websites, and, where you’ll learn about what he can do for you. Questions about your insurance plan? Not a problem. His friendly and caring staff are ready to help you.

Connect with Dr. West by calling (949) 829-6700, visit or, For detailed information about sleep apnea and available treatment options, see article on page 14.

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