The term “fast-casual” was apparently coined by Paul Barron in the late 1990’s. The creator of FastCasual.com, Mr. Barron’s claim to the phrase has been disputed, but the terminology certainly stuck. Restaurants have popped up all over the nation in the last twenty years that set claim to the phrase, and serve up a similar experience: moderately priced meals, self-service or limited service format, and made-to-order food with more flavors than your neighborhood McDonald’s or Taco Bell. With 33 stores in Colorado (and 3 under construction), six stores in Phoenix, three in Dallas/Ft. Worth and now three in California (Laguna Niguel, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga), Tokyo Joe’s is no stranger to the craze of fast-casual. But they’re elevating the concept to an entirely new level.
Their first location in the Golden State is just down the 73 in Laguna Niguel (just off the Greenfield exit in the center across the street from the Regency Director’s Cut theater) introduces a new type of health food: from starters to make-your-own sushi and poke bowls. Always made fresh-to-order, using the best ingredients possible, the crew at Tokyo Joe’s abstains from adding trans fats, MSG, and preservatives into your dishes. Clean, fast cuisine seems like an oxymoron. Surely, in the age of fried everything, when even a salad has some additive thrown in for good measure. Not Tokyo Joe’s.
Offering vegan, non-GMO, and gluten free options, Tokyo Joe’s is on track to be one of the first fast-casual chains to offer real, healthy food at a really quick pace. Potstickers, chicken skewers with green onions and the house peanut sauce, or event the MoJOE Bowl: dark chicken sauteed with pineapple, egg, carrots, sweet onions, red pepper, in a sweet and spicy sauce, on a bed of steamed rice. At some of their locations they even offer Meal Plans, based off the advice of real trainers and coaches. Protein controlled meals for athletes (or anyone fitness minded) that offer balanced alternatives to the smoothies, supplements and shakes out there formulated with synthetic ingredients most everyone has trouble pronouncing. Kids meals arrive as a fun bento box with your little one’s choice of protein, rice, edamame or veggie mix, and mandarin oranges.
Had a quick fix at Tokyo Joe’s and can’t wait to go back for more? Receive a free starter just for registering for the Tokyo Joe’s Addict Club. A free entree on your half birthday, specials, and one point for every dollar you spend at the restaurant. Every 150 points gets you a free entree. And 150 points adds up fast, when Tokyo Joe’s becomes your favorite way to do fast-casual.
Tokyo Joe’s is located at 27981 Greenfield Drive in Laguna Niguel. For info, call (949) 427-4240 or visit www.tokyojoes.com
At elementary schools all over California, fourth graders have been making missions from craft supplies for years. My son constructed Mission San Diego Alcala (the first of 21 established in the state) last year, which made our visit all the more exciting and impactful. The city’s first downtown area and the true birthplace of California, San Diego is now famous for its pristine stretches of sandy shore and hip shopping and bar crawls through Pacific Beach. But once upon a time, San Diego was known for the historic sites, cultural lore, and the nearby Mission San Diego de Alcala.
The parks by themselves are enough to draw you into the heart of the city, where the local flora and fauna bloom year round, thanks to the balmy Mediterranean clime. Offering an escape to the botanist at heart or the happy camper, both Balboa Park and Anza Borrego State Park are Trip Advisor don’t-misses - welcome and waiting with a full lineup of bird watching tours, plant sales and workshops. With cruises docking year round, five star restaurants, theme parks, skating, kayaking, shopping, and more, there is something to satisfy the whole family. But on this particular stay-cation, we opted to explore the charm and ambience of Old Town San Diego and bonus! happened to book our stay during the lively, colorful Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration (Oct 31 - Nov 2). Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday of prayer and remembrance honoring the lives of friends and family members who have passed away. It is believed that the souls of the dead come back to visit their loved ones at this time. Contrary to popular belief, Dia De Muertas is not a sad time, but a time of happiness and celebration of life, which we discovered firsthand.
Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town
Finding comfort, charm, and hospitality all in one place aren’t difficult when you’re staying in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Surrounded by colorful courtyards, patios, and gorgeous landscaping, a stay at San Diego’s Best Western Plus Hacienda Old Town proved to the perfect place from which to explore the area. Literally walking distance to entertainment, art galleries, family-friendly restaurants, and a locale adjacent to the historic Old Town Presidio: where California began.
This charming property boasts 200 spacious guest rooms appointed with handcrafted Santa Fe furnishings inspired by the simple elegance of the old Spanish missions which truly lent itself to the historic “theme”of our visit. Each guest accommodation includes a private balcony or shared courtyard with abundant seating areas to soak in the ambiance, access to a heated swimming pool and spa and on-site Old Town Tequila Factory Restaurant and Cantina.
Casa de Reyes Restaurant in Old Town State Historic Park
Everyone needs to eat, but not all meals were created equal. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, drinks, or even a brunch you were after, Casa de Reyes is certainly the place to be. Serving up authentic Mexican fare, breakfast is served until noon, and all tortillas are handmade fresh daily. Platters to share, and all the classics ensure that dinner out with friends, coworkers, or family will never be dull. The stage in the middle of the Fiesta de Reyes plaza features free, live entertainment nightly. Every weekend Old Town’s favorite mariachi band and beautiful folklorico dancers make for an unforgettable dining experience.
Among the most popular dishes include the El Gran Fuego burrito stuffed with tender pork marinated in Mexican spices, chorizo, pineapple juice and guajillo pepper, pinto beans, chopped onion, cilantro and fresh habenero peppers. Seasonal specials range from the Agave Chipotle Chicken (a delicious bone-in, oven-baked half chicken rubbed with Mexican spices and topped with a chipotle agave salsa and served with Mexican-style quinoa and black beans) to the Salmon A La Diabla (salmon filet marinated in roasted salsa with chile cascabel).
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Of the 21 missions in California, San Diego de Alcala marks the birthplace of Christianity on the West Coast. Providing an important cultural and significant look at the start of Catholicism, the mission, which was founded in 1769 serves as an active community hub, parish church, and grandiose placeholder for the migration of faith from Spain to the United States. The California olive was first cultivated at the Mission in San Diego, and many thousands of children’s appreciation for California history.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Presenting the best of California culture, San Diego’s Old Town State Historic Park gives visitors the opportunity to experience the history of its early connections to our storied present. Restored buildings from the interpretive period are complemented with early twentieth-century buildings designed in the same mode. Original adobe buildings are part of the park, which remains a favorite place for social gatherings and family-friendly historic activities, like the park’s working blacksmith shop.
Junipero Serra Museum
Operated by the San Diego History Center, the museum dedicated to Father Junipero Serra sits on the site of the very first European settlement: the very first permanent settlement in the state of California. Standing tall today, the site is one of the area’s most popular preferred wedding and event sites, with exhibits that present a time capsule of California’s most distinguished historical record: that of its original people, art, historical documents and more.
After an educational afternoon, we were off for to indulge in the entertainment of Belmont Park, the iconic beachfront amusement center with games, indoor children’s play center and rides including the Giant Dipper (a restored wooden roller coaster originally built in 1925) the Beach Blaster (I took a pass on this one, but I’m told this is one of the park’s most popular rides for adrenaline junkies - easy to see why as the ride swings passengers 60 feet in the air while spinning 120 degrees). Our family went with the decidedly “tamer” attractions - bumper cars, carousel, laser maze, rock climbing wall and zip line.
Developed originally by sugar magnate John Spreckels, Belmont Park opened its gates for the first time on July 4th, 1925. Though its moniker has changed over the years, from the Mission Beach Amusement Center to Belmont, it has always been an historic center for amusement in San Diego. Various cafes dot the park, from rooftops to taco stands, making Belmont Park the perfect spot for a day out in the idyllic San Diego sunshine.
Get Airborne! Family Fun Freefall at iFLY San Diego!
For an adventurous and exciting endeavor, our family decided to give indoor skydiving a try at iFLY San Diego in heart of Mission Valley. I say adventurous because this is as close to the real thing that I’m personally likely to experience (by choice anyway) and exciting because our 10-year-old son in particular could barely contain himself when he learned where we were headed.
iFLY allows flyers from age 3 to 103 to experience free flight in a state-of-the-art 14-foot wind tunnel. After we checked in and watched a brief tutorial, we suited up and awaited our turn while watching an instructor spin, flip and perform fancy trips flying around inside the tunnel (suffice to say it’s a skill attempted only after multiple visits and ample training).
Flying in tunnels like this is part of a fast-growing sport called bodyflight. As a mom, I was pleased to learn that an instructor would be by my son’s side the entire time, making sure he understood what he needed to do in order to fly on his own. Then for the last portion of the (approximately) two minute flight, the instructor amped up the fun quotient by holding my son’s hands and spinning them both up toward the top of the tunnel.
So how much fun was the flight? We hadn’t even made it out of the building when our son asked if he and a friend could celebrate his 11th birthday at iFLY San Diego. I’d say that’s a resounding endorsement.
iFLY San Diego is located at 2385 Camino del Rio North in Mission Valley. For information, call (619) 736-3348 or visit www.iFLYworld.com
There is something powerful about true, deep calm. The spread of quiet. Perhaps the draw of it is why so many seek the peace of the woods, the white noise of the ocean, the exquisite contentment a great yoga class can bring. People are drawn to it, animals can’t get enough of it. Ryan Furlet is the possessor of a powerful calm. With the laid back aesthetic of a Bob Marley fan and the grace of a Zen master, Ryan is perhaps the gentlest soul I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. And what’s even more important than my first impression was that of our family dog Bella.
I have never seen anyone elicit such a serene demeanor out of our otherwise rambunctious labrador retriever pup than Ryan did when we signed on for a Life Center Evaluation, and then a Private Life Center Session. He truly is a K-9 guru. And he is looking for new pups to join the pack.
“Here at the Life Center, we understand that just as parents may differ in their method of directing their children,” Ryan notes, “so do our pet parents with their K-9 companions.” Their mission is to provide the healing and rehabilitative process needed to improve on the standing expectations between pets and their parents. What is actually reasonable to want from one’s pet? What can your pet expect from you? Ryan is a firm believer that creating better pet behaviors makes a happier home life. Now expanding his services to include nearly the entire South Orange County area, from Aliso Viejo to Laguna Beach, the K-9 guru is literally willing to go the extra mile to help you and your canine compadre reach the powerful center of true, deep calm.
Offering one or two hour private Life Center sessions, group classes, or two or three hour private sessions at your home, each pet and parent will “move forward from their own foundation, tap into a required understanding, and create positive energy”. Home sessions are built around the balance of communication between pet and parent, and maximizes the training experience by allowing the trainer the insight into the way parents nurture, and pets respond.
And boy, do pets respond. Not many people can take over 10 dogs to the park, off leash, and put just one into stay and walk away with the rest of the pack and have the dog patiently wait until called. Going out of town and want your pup to relax just as much as you are while on vacation? At the Life Center in San Clemente, Ryan will board and train your dog at the same time. Keeping Bella overnight the first time cemented our family’s belief in his methods - Bella came home a more well behaved, more calm canine. So much so, that we regularly leave Bella in Ryan’s care when our family travels.
From a wee pooch to those looking for more intermediate or advanced training options, no dog is too much for the deep well of calm that comes from someone as dedicated to their craft. With 5 rescue dogs of his own, it really is no wonder that Ryan has found himself as the guru of South Orange County when it comes to pups and their parents.
To connect with Ryan, call (949) 449-9618 or visit www.k-9guru.com
When one contemplates the term “health crisis,” images from the 1995 medical disaster movie Outbreak come to mind. Hazmat suits and quarantined children in terrifying plastic rooms. But the term is so much more than just Hollywood scare tactics. AlyceMates is working on eradicating a different health crisis entirely: that of senior isolation. The company began when Jessica Yum recognized that senior isolation and loneliness were reaching epidemic proportions, with more and more seniors living alone at home. She began to realize that, to be healthy, seniors needed more than just scheduled time with a caregiver or the occasional visitor, and AlyceMates was born.
“The company evolved from our home-care agency,” Jessica says, “We bring seniors out of isolation through check-ins, exclusive social outings, and the most important part, their AlyceMate roommate.” They want to create a unique program to alleviate the dangers of isolation for seniors who couldn’t afford continuous home-care, which can cost up to $35/hour. However, not having a caregiver and being isolated put seniors at great risk. Numerous studies have confirmed that isolation is more dangerous than excessive drinking, obesity, or even smoking! It can also increase a senior’s mortality rate by up to 40%!
By matching college students, recent graduates, and young adults with seniors as roommates, they could in fact, tackle two problems at once: senior isolation and the student debt and housing crisis plaguing our youth. Seniors would no longer have to live alone; they could be mentors, share their stories and dispense wisdom. Students could alleviate the pressure on their pocketbooks and help others stay current and connected.
But how exactly are students and seniors matched up?
“We visit a senior’s home and just try to get to know them first,” says Jessica. “Sometimes, it’s the first time all week that a senior has spoken to a person! Participating seniors are typically in good health, have an extra room, live in a safe neighborhood, and are sociable. We then interview several young people to determine which individual would be the best AlyceMate for the senior in terms of maturity, personality, interests, etc. - a process which can take several weeks.”
Looking for candidates who have a good sense of community, want to give back, and are comfortable with seniors is no small task. If they pass the preliminary round of interviews, AlyceMates then completes a thorough background check, reference check, and credit check. The best candidates get to meet with the senior in person to ensure the chemistry is there. “We’re looking for big-hearted candidates who truly want to be part of the program for the right reasons.”
With studies showing that seniors who live communally can add 10-15 years to their lives, it’s no wonder that a company like AlyceMates is thriving.
“If you are over 50 and have a spare bedroom, you can become a senior host. It’s as easy as that,” says Jessica. “Earn extra income, alleviate alone time, mentor a young person, make a life-long friend. The benefits are endless. Seniors can earn up to $500 a month through the program.” No hazmat suits, plastic-sheeted quarantine rooms, or reruns of Outbreak required.
Connect with Jessica and ALYCEMates by calling (949) 339-7150 or visit www.ALYCEMATES.com
Last spring, with the “immense assistance of my design and sales team,” Owner Dennis Penman completely redesigned his 11,000-square-foot showroom starting with a new name: Sanctuary Home Furnishings by Renaissance. “We started here in San Juan Capistrano (as Renaissance Home Furnishings), and now we’re back home - to help local home owners design their home to reflect their personality.”
Renaissance Home Furnishings has long been known for their Mediterranean and Spanish Tuscan flair but as trends have shifted and Renaissance becomes Sanctuary Home Furnishings by Renaissance, Sanctuary can now help the Spanish Tuscan homes bring in a cleaner Coastal Transitional feel without requiring a home remodel. “For all the new homes in Rancho Viejo our look is perfect- we can help their homes look like the models.”
Not ironic too, that the heart of the coastal transitional design trend is the word refuge; a perfect synonym for sanctuary. A safe place to rest one’s head. The showroom has an abundance of sofas, sectionals, accent chairs, media chests, accent pieces, bedroom suites, art, mirrors, area rugs and accessories. Most everything on the showroom floor can be delivered straight to the customer’s home.
Having three local manufacturers at its disposal helps immensely. In two to three weeks, Sanctuary can customize, to the inch, a sofa, sectional, or chair to the scale and color palette of the client’s home. “We can fit any room, in any scale and in any fabric color.”
Sanctuary tries to make the customers shopping and buying experience relaxing and not intimidating. At their store they allow clients to come in and peruse without being tracked throughout the store by a “suit with a clipboard.” They want you to take your time, “tush test the seating,” and know the designer is available yet not hovering. Sanctuary offers piece of mind shopping by allowing customers to memo out products they like but aren’t sure it will work in their home they can check out the item(s) to see them in their homes before purchasing.
Most stores would like to be known for low prices but they offer poor quality goods. Sanctuary wants to be known for quality furnishings at low prices. “I think what really sets us apart is our quality, pricing and the ability we have to work with our clients on every level, from design to customization to installation all at low pricing.” Often, Sanctuary Home Furnishings is lower priced than online but if not they will match the price you find.
“We understand that sometimes it takes a little back and forth to make decisions about your home - you may have these furnishings for the next ten or fifteen or twenty years,” says Dennis. “We want to make the process as easy as if you had the choice to redesign every calendar year.” No pressure, with a non-commissioned sales force. Dennis wants every customer to be helped by any available person at anytime - before, during or after the purchase - an attribute to which our family can personally attest.
Sanctuary Home Furnishings is located at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E-7 in San Juan Capistrano. Connect with Dennis and his team by calling (949) 248-9772 or visit www.sanctuaryhf.com
Serving private residences/homes
There are countless things to worry about in our world: Large and small, tangible and intangible - hurricanes, supervolcanoes, bills, hidden gluten in our food. the dryer eating socks mysteriously. The list is long, and often feels like it’s getting longer. Most folks are already a little apprehensive when it comes to going to the dentist, but the worry of tooth decay, gum disease and plaque can pile upon all the other worries until the basic thought of leaving our homes becomes a little too much to handle.
Dental care, for most of us, is tough to get excited about. But we all go because the complications that can arise from not taking proper care of one’s teeth are enough to keep one up at night. Like most complications as we age, they are further complicated – by limited mobility, transportation issues and forgetfulness.
Busy caregivers are hard pressed to take residents in assisted-living facilities to dental appointments on a regular basis, and family members barely remember to schedule appointments for themselves. As an unfortunate result, the majority of the population that actually needs the most care is left to their own devices.
Making a Difference
Dr. Charles Zahedi believes there is too much at stake to forget the residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities when it came to their dental care. He first came up with this novice idea when he noticed the lack of elderly patients coming for what he believed much needed attention. “Mobile Dental USA provides a full range of dental services at your place of residence (via a full size 40+ ft mobile dental clinic or mobile equipment for ‘concierge dentistry’ performed in a client’s home). Using state-of-the art equipment, Mobile Dental performs x-rays, cleanings, cavity treatment, dentures, and implants.” For those with missing teeth or denture wearers, Mobile Dental can work up their exclusive Bone-Loss and Denture-Loss Prevention Programs because as Dr. Zahedi put it “a healthy smile is part of a healthy body and visiting a dentist has never been easier.”
Most folks could pinpoint exactly what it is about a shark that scares them. Or a tsunami. More likely than not, those same folks wouldn’t be able to articulate what it is about dental care that scares them, or the direct correlation between tooth replacement and malnutrition. Knowing more about certain things can help alleviate the fear - and being well informed about dental health can only bring us closer to a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. For these reasons and much more (that can’t be covered in this article) Mobile Dental USA is an accessible and educational concept, targeting its efforts on Orange County’s aging population.
“It can be frustrating to eat certain foods or even to speak with confidence at times for those without stable dentures,” Dr. Zahedi says. “But most people don’t know that the trouble doesn’t stop there. Not replacing missing teeth prevents adequate food intake, resulting in a lack of proper nutrients and vitamins, leading to weight loss, and even other serious medical conditions.” Dr. Zahedi even advises those with dentures, without missing teeth, become more aware of their fit. The pressure of their removable dentures on the jaw can result in the loss of that precious jaw bone. Mobile Dental USA is a pioneer, the first of its kind, with the ultimate goal of improving the standard of life for the elderlies of Orange County.
Not replacing missing teeth results in the rapid loss of the precious jaw bone, inadequate food intake, weight loss and a cascade of serious medical conditions.
With the revolutionary Bone-Loss and Denture-Loss Programs, the good doctor’s team can assure residents who undergo the procedures that they will be done in an hour. No sutures required. No endless months of healing. “They can immediately start eating, and speak with confidence,” Dr. Zahedi notes - “it’s a phenomenal solution for residents that cannot have extensive surgery for other, non-related medical reasons. And it eliminates the cost of replacing lost removable dentures, which is essentially an ironclad guarantee for those associates suffering from memory-loss or impairment.”
Repeatedly recognized as a leader in his industry by his passion and knowledge for the health and wellness of older adults, Dr. Zahedi has been honored by the American Dental Association’s Burton Wasserman and Dental Clinics of North America to write a book chapter (pub. July 2016) entitled Special Care Dentistry: Treatment of Orally Handicapped Edentulous Older Adults Using Dental Implants.
In 2011, Dr. Zahedi addressed a different need: that of the dental care of impoverished and disabled veterans living in Southern California. His first non-profit, Oral Disability Rescue, was comprised of a small group of volunteer dentists and dental assistants who looked after their target population. Since then, the name has changed to Dentists for Veterans (www.dentistsforveterans.org), to reflect their goals, and better call out the true needs of dentistry to the American population today. “Since its humble beginning in 2011, over $500,000 in dental services have been provided to veterans in need.” By eliminating pain and infection, which sometimes tend to be side effects of serving our county so valiantly, Dr. Zahedi is giving back to the community the best way he knows how – outstanding and convenient dental care.
When asked what prompted him to pursue this non-for-profit organization, Dr. Zahedi responded, “If I don’t do it, who will?” A noble question, rightly asked. Addressing the unknown worries of these disabled, or mobility impaired, or elderly populations is one thing. Bringing the care to their front door before they have a chance to worry? Another concept entirely. By bringing a complete dental care office to the community, Dr. Zahedi and his team are changing the way these residents look at dental care. Perhaps he can’t do anything about the super volcanoes, or what is and what isn’t gluten free, but he’ll rebuild your dental profile so it’s the least of your worries.
Dr. Charles Zahedi is a current UCLA School of Dentistry Faculty member and instructor and is practicing in Newport Beach with over 27 years of experience treating older adults and corporate employees.
Connect with your mobile dentist by calling (855) 99-MDUSA (855-996-3872) or visit www.mobiledentalusa.com
My first introduction to the city of Chicago was the 1995 film While You Were Sleeping. B-roll of the city’s skyline flashed through the movie, and the clickety-clack of the “L” ran through its soundtrack. A silver caterpillar cruising over bridges, past the Chicago River. Home to two and a half million people, the city boasts some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Parks, hotels, river walks and cruises: enough to fill a day, a weekend, or even a couple weeks of fun filled romping around The Windy City.
Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Millennium Park showcases world-class architecture, the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind: an award-winning center for art and music designed by Frank Gehry. Bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the North, and Monroe Street to the South: a virtual hotbed of activity any way you walk. Conceived as an outdoor space by then-mayor Richard M. Dayley, the plan evolved from a 16-acre park to the 24.5-acre triumph in the tradition of the city’s original founders.
Rising 1,353 above the streets of the Windy City, The Ledge is a transformative viewing experience. Not for the faint of heart, it’s glass boxes extend 4.3 feet beyond Willis Towers’ Skydeck on the 103rd floor, providing a rarely seen view of the city. The original Sears Tower architecture firm (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill) designed The Ledge so that the fully enclosed glass boxes retract into the building, allowing access for maintenance - and to keep the glass as crystalline as possible. Standing 110 stories tall, the tower itself is a world renowned feat of architecture. Being out on a glass ledge, over a thousand feet above the deck, you’ll never see Chicago with the same eyes again.
Ninety minutes isn’t that long. A typical Hollywood blockbuster runs exactly that - excluding credits and previews, of course. And yet, so much can happen in an hour and thirty minutes. Daily during the sailing season, discover the luxury of Chicago’s finest fleet, and hop aboard for 90 minutes of amazing. Choose Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises to experience a river cruise from the Riverwalk, just three blocks north of Millennium Park. Complete with open-air decks and interior salon room, full bar service, and catering based on your group attendance, you can experience the city in a brand new way. Choose a private cruise for your company, wedding party or social engagement and travel beneath the city’s magnificent skyline alongside a CAF-certified volunteer docent providing stories of The Windy City’s original architects. Magic on the water, in just 90 minutes.
Many modern cities exist solely because their original inhabitants needed a place near the water to survive, a great many years ago. Chicago is no different, and in fact, the history of the city side by side its greatest river makes for some of the most fascinating reading out there. The Chicago Riverwalk offers an in-person look at the city from one of its most unique angles. Dining opportunities, public art exhibitions, local musicians and special events are hosted throughout the season. Tours of the bridges, birding walks with Audubon Great Lakes, and the McCormick Bridgehouse and River Museum offer up some of the city’s most incredible activities side-along its historic landmarks.
Experience the best of Chicago with CityPASS. You’ll get VIP admission to the most iconic attractions in the city, hand-picked and packaged into one convenient ticket booklet at a big savings (54% off on VIP admission to 5 of Chicago’s top attractions).
Field Museum of Chicago
SUE is the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex in the entire world (and the most iconic exhibit in the Field Museum). Like most boys his age, my 10-year-old (and his Daddy, for that matter) haven’t outgrown the fascination with all things dinosaur. From the tip of her snout to the tip of her tail, SUE measures 40.5 feet long. Though her skeleton greets you right when you walk in Stanley Field Hall, the skull atop the skeleton is a replica (the original 600-pound skull sits in a display on the Museum’s balcony, beneath a mural of what SUE might have looked like before she was a fossil). From dinosaurs (Evolving Planet) and mummies (Inside Ancient Egypt) to the Underground Adventure (where you shrink down to the size of a bug), you can easily while away an educational afternoon here.
Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Center
Be transported to the outer reaches of the Universe on a visit to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum. Opened in 1930, Adler bears the distinction of being the first planetarium in the United States. On your self-guided tour you’ll visit the historic Atwood Experience identifying the positions of the brightest stars in the night sky and constellations they form. You’ll also visit Shoot for the Moon, highlighting the exciting stories of space exploration and America’s bold plans to travel to the Moon.
All they really had to say were the words “free evening wine hours,” and I was in. Not a wine drinker? How about being within walking distance to the Cadillac Place Theatre, or Millennium Park, or Willis Tower? Or the fact that its location, in the heart of Chicago’s Theatre District, is surrounded by the Loop’s foremost sights - including Grant Park and State Street’s shopping Mecca. Perhaps it’s the mere mention of 312 Chicago (for more info, see Chicago Eats/Dining Destinations) or Bar Allegro (voted one of the “Coolest Hotel Bars in Chicago” by Michigan Avenue Magazine), with its delicious small bites and cocktails. Each add up to just one thing: America’s Golden Era is alive and well at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro (www.allegrochicago.com).
The simple, yet sophisticated elegance of this historic boutique haven harkens back to an era of elegant hobnobbing and glamour (think mid-century moxie and old school glamour with a modern twist) - its accommodations are classically stylish, super comfy, amenity-rich (on-demand movies, designer toiletries, in room spa services or free in-room yoga accessories) with the added perks of a hosted social hour in the hotel’s lobby living room from 5 pm - 6 pm nightly, complimentary newspapers and morning coffee and tea service daily. The friendly, helpful staff are at the ready to show guests what Chicago is made of. And if you have a little wine on the side, so be it.
Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, Backstreet Home Decor 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 owner Susan Smith’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.
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 three 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.” Susie’s 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.
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.”
Connect with Susie by stopping by the showroom at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, by calling (949) 498-2210 or visit www.backstreethomedecor.com
When one contemplates the term “health crisis,” images from the 1995 medical disaster movie Outbreak come to mind. Hazmat suits and quarantined children in terrifying plastic rooms. But the term is so much more than just the Hollywood scare tactics that have been built up around it. Alycemates, a yearling business, is working on eradicating a different health crisis entirely: that of isolation. ALYCEMates began when Jessica Yum (co-founder of its parent company, ALYCECare) recognized early on that senior isolation and loneliness were reaching epidemic proportions, with increasing numbers living alone at home, instead of in a vibrant, thriving family community, or assisted living facility. She began to realize that the need for companionship was more than just a simple relationship with a caregiver, or a neighbor next door, and Alycemates was born.
There is not a single business that does what Alycemates does. Jessica and her team are excited to offer the community ALYCEMates has built to seniors in the program, “which has evolved greatly from ALYCECare, our home care agency. We bring seniors out of isolation through check-ins, exclusive social outings, and of course, the most important part: their ALYCEMate roomate.” They wanted to create a unique program to alleviate the dangers of isolation without having to throw money at the problem. Home care often costs as much as $25/hour, which, for most folks living on their own at a more advanced age, is a steep going rate. Many individuals didn’t need round the clock care, and wouldn’t pay for it, putting themselves at risk then of falling off the social wagon, only to put them at higher risk of dying earlier. 45% higher, in fact. A staggering statistic, given that according to a 2010 study, that’s 15% more at risk than from excessive drinking, and 25% higher than obesity. 40% higher than losing years from air pollution.
By matching college students, recent graduates, and young adults with seniors as roommates, they could in fact, solve two problems. Senior isolation, and the student debt and housing crisis facing our youth. Seniors would no longer have to live alone: they could be mentors and teachers. Share their stories and dispense wisdom. Students could alleviate the pressure on their pocketbooks, and help others to stay connected. But how exactly are students and seniors matched up?
“We visit a senior’s home and sit with them for an extended period of time to determine if they are a good fit,” says Jessica. “Participating seniors are typically in good health, have an extra room, live in a safe neighborhood, and are sociable. We then interview several candidates for ALYCEMates to determine which individual would be the best fit for the senior in terms of maturity, stability, personality, interests, etc. - a process which can take several weeks.”
Looking for candidates who also have a good sense of community, want to give back, and are comfortable with seniors is no small feat. If they pass the preliminary round of checks, ALYCEMates balances out the equation with a thorough background check, reference check, and credit check. Select candidates get to meet with the senior in person to ensure the chemistry is there. “We’re looking for big-hearted candidates who truly want to be part of the program, and it’s usually very obvious when a candidate is primarily interested in saving money on rent.”
With studies showing that seniors living communally add as many as 10-15 years to their lives, it’s no wonder that a business like Alycemates found its way into existence.
“If you are over 50 and have a spare bedroom, you can become a senior host. It’s as easy as that,” says Jessica. “Earn extra income, alleviate alone time, mentor a young person, make a life-long friend. The benefits are endless. Seniors can earn up to $500 a month through the program.” No hazmat suits, plastic-sheeted quarantine rooms, or reruns of Outbreak required.
Connect with Jessica and ALYCEMates by calling (949) 339-7150 or visit www.ALYCEMATES.com
Historically, great change has been associated with fire. A great crucible, reforming lives beneath the purifying heat of flame. The sea however, with its unfathomable depths, hold a great mystery to the effects of change over time. After all, the phrase “sea change” originated from the power of the ocean to alter landscapes. Thanks to Shakespeare: an idiom that can cool the fan of flame, and still signify our lives taking shape in ways they would never have before, as we are reformed under the great heat or weight of tragedy.
John “Tripp” H. Smith, III and his wife Loretta are no strangers to that indescribable pressure. When their son Michael took his own life on November 10, 2007, their lives were altered forever. Despite being a successful young man in his earlier life, Michael had “devolved” into an unrecognizable person as a result of his depression, and subsequent dependence on chemical substance to help self-medicate his problems. After his passing, bound to create something beautiful, Tripp and his close friend Dr. Richard Granese, MD, a well-respected Orange County psychiatrist joined together to found A Mission for Michael, Inc. to help remember Michael, and carry his legacy forward: helping others escape the ravages of drug and alcohol through a dual diagnosis treatment.
A Mission for Michael (AMFM) offers a structured answer to what can be a wildly volatile and fluid situation. After their 45-90 day treatment program, patients transition to Sober Living and Outpatient: getting them back on their feet, refining that which is detrimental to their continued health and success. Based in South Orange County, AMFM programs are designed to treat individuals with co-occurring disorders. Dr. Granese notes “substance use disorders and mood and anxiety disorders that develop independently of intoxication, dependence and withdrawal are the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States.” Helping to rebuild those individuals from foundation up helps ensure they will not relapse, and can dramatically assist in stabilizing their mental health illness. Operating the only recovery facility owned by a psychiatrist, Dr. Granese is doubly dedicated to tackling the issues he has seen first hand, with more and more regularity.
When sources like Mental Health America state that the number of individuals affected by mental health illnesses outpaces the populations of both New York and Florida, lines are drawn in the sand. We can reach out and assist, or let more than 40 million Americans persist in their downward spiral, towards an outbreak of devastation that is greater than many of us would like to imagine. “AMFM is not a 12-step based program, but we believe the 12-steps are another relapse prevention tool. We have found that working them in conjunction with therapy, psychiatric care, family participation, and small group therapy sets the patient up for success.” Often, however, the roots that Dr. Granese and his team are trying to reach are buried in a mess of underlying psychological factors and trauma that drives physical and emotional addiction.
A unique way of approaching such trauma is the “step-down” feature offered through the program. The patient begins intensively - then steadily drops down to less intensive treatment as they progress. Continuing with their therapist and psychiatrist every week, in conjunction with a weekly family group helps keep the individual accountable, to themselves and those they love. “We want to reduce the incidence of triggers that signal relapse, and a return to the addiction spiral.” With a team of mental health professionals ranging from Clinical Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, etc. - all Masters or PhD level cross-trained psychotherapists, patients are in the immense care of folks who recognize the changes necessary to alter mental perceptions and distortions. “The psychological restructuring starts the client on a path of growth moving beyond the confines and entanglements of addiction. This continuum of care can provide the strong foundation necessary to build a base of recovery.”
When facing down anything beyond one’s own capability, a great humility is necessary. Big wave surfers, emergency medical personnel, firefighters, even educators can attest to the power of collected thinking when facing down unknown situations with potentially extreme consequences. Addiction, similarly, attacks from all directions, with remarkable disregard and abandon. “It’s a family disease”, Dr. Granese states. But what does that mean? Tripp and Loretta learned volumes from their son’s addictions and helped build into the treatment program a family humility that speaks to the entire system failing when one member falls apart at the seams.
But isn’t the addict the one with the problem? “The addiction is not only destroying the addict, it’s likely destroying the family too. You’re all involved in the addiction. Parents and loved ones can’t function: they worry, their job suffers, they fight and argue amongst themselves. They can’t take care of the rest of the family and their physical, emotional, and spiritual health suffers.” The family becomes addicted to their loved one’s addiction. Chaos, codependency, and a lack of boundaries all compound the issues at hand.
While patients are certainly encouraged after they leave treatment to continue working with a sponsor and start step work within a Sober Living Outpatient Intensive, families are also encouraged to learn steps and tools to help get out of the toxic and repetitive cycles of abuse. Stepping outside the manipulations and co-dependencies that have been formed help the patient discover how it feels to escape isolation, fear, and anxiety, and practice healthy self-care. “Sometimes, what we think of as ‘helping’ the addict is not helping at all,” Dr. Granese notes. “You can actually do more harm than good.”
With the presence of an ever changing healthcare system and the uncertainty of being able to receive quality care, AMFM is furthering its vision to include a separate intensive outpatient Mental Health track. This patient-centered outpatient program specializes in working with those suffering from an array of mental health diagnosis. The need for mental health treatment is expanding in Orange County and it is our aim to fill this increased need and be a center that strives for a healthier community.
“Patients get to choose not only the times that work for their own schedule, but most of all, they get to decide which groups yield the best personal results.” While a base level of care may look the same for everyone, a key component at AMFM are non-standard time allotments for treatment. Most programs, via insurance companies, place restrictions on a patient’s treatment. Conversely, each person’s needs are continually evaluated to carefully negotiate their duration of care. “This means attendees can slowly transition out at a time they feel confident and are not limited by the coverage of their insurance plan. We allow for complete rehabilitation and optimal individual success.” Designed for both individuals who are coming into care for the first time, and those taking the step-down approach to their treatment, AMFM’s Outpatient Program has found it’s patient’s success rates easily outpace those in other programs.
“Many individuals are successful starting with and remaining in outpatient. For some, outpatient can be a great indicator that a higher level of care is needed.” Every individual coming to the program, whether from another facility, or transitioning from AMFM’s 45-90 day program sees a psychiatrist. Each therapist in the program is an employee, not a contractor. “They are therefore highly committed to working as a team, and have high standards of care to maintain.” The outpatient program is led by Terrence Kelleman, a Licensed, Advanced Drug and Alcohol Counselor. 30 years of experience to back his title, a remarkably outgoing personality, and direct leadership style allows him to facilitate the most effective group meetings possible.
While in the program, patients are held accountable with the help of drug testing, yet they have also discovered that by testing for a myriad of toxicities, both man-made and natural, therapists within AMFM can help diagnose disorders or dysfunctions based on underlying contributors, like amino acid or zinc deficiencies. “Most care facilities treat symptoms: we look at root cause.” A holistic approach to each patient helps care for the person, as well as the addiction. “We want to get our patients out of the isolation and stigma of addiction- not just out from underneath the day to day problems they might be experiencing.” Nutrition, exercise, and accountability work together to create a whole picture of wellness for each patient that comes needing care. Strongly recommending patients to stay within the boundaries of a Sober Living Outpatient aftercare program is essential for anyone serious about recovery. “Many patients stay in aftercare for one year or more, increasing their chance of long-term sobriety.”
Addiction isn’t discriminating. It doesn’t single out specific personality types, or only the wealthy. Only the poverty stricken, only males. It doesn’t care. Originally starting as a recovery center that specifically dealt with men, and the unique issues they deal with, A Mission for Michael has now expanded to include treatment for women. “When it comes to treatment, there are definitely differences in how drugs affect women and men, and thus the treatment methods must take into account the social and biological factors that must be used.” Hormones, for example, affect brain chemistry, altering long term thought and behavior patterns for women, especially from a young age. There are varying societal pressures that contribute to expectations of success, maintaining relationships, and careers. “Unique stresses create expectations ripe for fostering anxious mental states where substance abuse thrives.”
In addition to expanding to accept women for treatment and having an intensive outpatient program for Mental Health, A Mission For Michael has also implemented an Integrative Wellness division to enhance treatment protocols.
“This means our clients have more resources than ever before available to help them achieve and maintain sobriety as well as to identify and learn possible root causes related to their addiction and mental illness,” says Lori R. Kelly, Ph.D., Director of Integrative Wellness. “If we have a thorough picture then we can develop a deeper understanding of what led the client to our door.”
Dr. Kelly explains that integrative wellness is the utilization of conventional and complementary approaches to the treatment of addiction and mental illness in a coordinated way in order to achieve optimal results. Digestive health issues, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic dysfunction and toxic chemical exposure are all factors, which contribute to symptoms and illness within the body.
“These areas are among those screened through our integrative analysis now available to our clients,” she says. “This provides an individualized treatment regimen that is unparalleled and encompasses the uniqueness of each person. Any deficiency or abnormality is addressed by our team through the use of natural products such as food, vitamins, minerals and probiotics along with mind-body practices including yoga, meditation and Pilates.
“My goal is for every client to evolve from a passive recipient, at the beginning of treatment to an active participant in their achievement of a healthy recovery and lifelong wellness.”
For more information, call (800) 807-0631 or visit www.amfmtreatment.com