Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

Dec 10, 2015

Total Floor Care

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.

 

Quality care and stellar customer service characterize this full-service koi pond maintenance company

When we moved into our new home last year, the property came with a very pretty pond stocked with colorful koi and goldfish. But for someone who can barely keep a potted plant alive, the prospect of being responsible for the livelihood and longevity of these beautiful fish was daunting – I don’t have a clue about the right ratio of additives in the water or the importance of algae or how to combat fish disease.

001wather in the gardenAkoi pond is clearly much more than a backyard water garden feature. It is a living, breathing eco-system which requires the expertise of a pond professional.

Thankfully, we also inherited the services of Glenn Cecil, owner of the South County-based Water in the Garden.

A koi pond is a living, breathing eco-system which requires the expertise of a pond professional.

He had maintained this particular pond for the previous homeowner for several years and it was clear from our first meeting that he was committed to quality care and customer service.

Serving Orange County since 1999, Glenn specializes in “total koi pond and water garden maintenance,” repair, construction, pond and filtration design and consultation.

Aside from feeding the fish, Glenn literally takes care of everything during his weekly visits, including removing excess debris and dead plant matter, inspecting the pond equipment for proper function and making adjustments as needed and inspecting the fish for signs of distress or disease. He also tests the water quality, back-flushes the filters and adds bacteria or other agents as needed and offers 24-hour emergency service. In short, he keeps our pond looking beautiful and our fish healthy and happy.

Aside from feeding the fish, Glenn literally takes care of everything during his weekly visits
To connect with Glenn directly, call (949) 872-3833 or visit www.waterinthegarden.net

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 beginnings in Santa Cruz armed with a used 35mm camera, 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 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. “My focus is on digital imagery, highlighting on creative digital photography and concept work and 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, I’ll happily discuss your digital editing and retouching needs as part of our services. Just give me a call!”

Connect with Melisa and Tim by calling (949) 388-1859 or visit www.chandlerphotography.com

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 visitwww.backstreethomedecor.com

It’s exceptionally rare to find hair artists who truly cares about their customers’ needs and are dedicated to finding the perfect solution – and have the skill and experience to actually achieve your desired results.

With years of experience in helping women who have fine and thinning hair challenges “feel beautiful again,” Debora Routhe and Carly Elliott are the “dream team” behind the Mission Viejo-based Full Strands, Inc. – the go-to professionals for clients searching for non-surgical hair replacement options and hair extensions. Debora is an American Board Certified Haircolorist and cutting specialist while Carly is an extension expert with vast experience in adding volume and length to any type of hair.

“When it comes to hair extensions or hair restoration/replacement, it’s not one size fits all,” says Debora. “What sets our business apart from others is our dedication to continuing education. We continually seek to discover better products and techniques to give our customers the hair of their dreams. Further, we are full-time behind the chair hairdressers. We are well versed in all aspects of color, design, and styling.  This experience allows us to make all hair systems and extensions look incredibly natural and undetectable.”

Eight years ago, after an increasing number of her clients came to her with fine and thinning hair concerns, Debora made it her mission to find ways to help.

002 full strands“I sought out solutions and became certified in numerous techniques,” she says. “Our business in the non-surgical hair replacement industry has grown by word of mouth from our satisfied customers. We are truly making a difference for women who felt for so long that they had nowhere to go and could find no acceptable solutions for their fine and thinning hair.  We have seen self-confidence come back for the clients we serve. They no longer feel self conscious or embarrassed of their appearance. We are excited to come to work every day and transform our clients into the best version of themselves. We live to make people feel beautiful!”

Equally passionate about giving back to the community, Full Strands supports South County Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing hunger and homelessness by helping people help themselves with a food pantry, homeless prevention counseling, and rapid re-housing programs.

“The most rewarding aspect of owning this business is that we get to do what we want to do,” says Debora. “We get to choose the products, the hair systems, extensions, and the tools we work with. We selected the salon decor and pick the music we listen to. We have created a wonderful environment for our clients to enjoy an in which our creativity can flourish.”

Book online at www.vagaro.com/drhair

debora carlyFull Strands is located at 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Suite 201, Studio 21 in Mission Viejo. Debora and Carly can be reached by calling (949) 300-3625.

Quality care and stellar customer service characterize this full-service koi pond maintenance company

When we moved into our new home last year, the property came with a very pretty pond stocked with colorful koi and goldfish. But for someone who can barely keep a potted plant alive, the prospect of being responsible for the livelihood and longevity of these beautiful fish was daunting – I don’t have a clue about the right ratio of additives in the water or the importance of algae or how to combat fish disease.

Akoi pond is clearly much more than a backyard water garden feature. It is a living, breathing eco-system which requires the expertise of a pond professional.

Glenn Cecil, owner of Water in the GardenGlenn Cecil, owner of Water in the GardenThankfully, we also inherited the services of Glenn Cecil, owner of the South County-based Water in the Garden. He had maintained this particular pond for the previous homeowner for several years and it was clear from our first meeting that he was committed to quality care and customer service.

A koi pond is a living, breathing eco-system which requires the expertise of a pond professional.

Serving Orange County since 1999, Glenn specializes in “total koi pond and water garden maintenance,” repair, construction, pond and filtration design and consultation.

Aside from feeding the fish, Glenn literally takes care of everything during his weekly visits, including removing excess debris and dead plant matter, inspecting the pond equipment for proper function and making adjustments as needed and inspecting the fish for signs of distress or disease. He also tests the water quality, back-flushes the filters and adds bacteria or other agents as needed and offers 24-hour emergency service. In short, he keeps our pond looking beautiful and our fish healthy and happy.

Aside from feeding the fish, Glenn literally takes care of everything during his weekly visits
To connect with Glenn directly, call (949) 872-3833 or visit www.waterinthegarden.net

It’s exceptionally rare to find hair artists who truly care about their customers’ needs and are dedicated to finding the perfect solution – and have the skill and experience to actually make achieve your desired results.

With years of experience in helping women who have fine and thinning hair challenges “feel beautiful again,” Debora Routhe and Carly Elliott are the go-to “dream team” behind the Mission Viejo-based Full Strands, Inc. – the go-to professionals for clients searching for non-surgical hair replacement options and hair extensions. Debora is an American Board Certified Haircolorist and cutting specialist while Carly is an extension expert with vast experience in adding volume and length to any type of hair.

“When it comes to hair extensions or hair restoration/replacement, it’s not size fits all,” says Debora. “What sets our business apart from others is our dedication to continuing education. We continually seek to discover better products and techniques to give our customers the hair of their dreams. Further, we are full-time behind the chair hairdressers. We are well versed in all aspects of color, design, and styling.  This experience allows us to make all hair systems and extensions look incredibly natural and undetectable.”

Eight years ago, after an increasing number of her clients came to her with fine and thinning hair concerns, Debora made it her mission to find ways to help.

“I sought out solutions and became certified in numerous techniques,” she says. “Our business in the non-surgical hair replacement industry has grown by word of mouth from our satisfied customers.We are truly making a difference for women who felt for so long that they had nowhere to go and could find no acceptable solutions for their fine and thinning hair.  We have seen self-confidence come back for the clients we serve. They no longer feel self conscious or embarrassed of their appearance. We are excited to come to work every day and transform our clients into the best version of themselves. We live to make people feel beautiful!”

002routheEqually passionate about giving back to the community, Full Strands supports South County Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing hunger and homelessness by helping people help themselves with a food pantry, homeless prevention counseling, and rapid re-housing programs.

“The most rewarding aspect of owning this business is that we get to do what we want to do,” says Debora. “We get to choose the products, the hair systems, extensions, and the tools we work with. We selected the salon decor and pick the music we listen to. We have created a wonderful environment for our clients to enjoy an in which our creativity can flourish.”

Debora carlyFull Strands is located at 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Suite 201, Studio 21 in Mission Viejo. Debora and Carly can be reached by calling (949) 300-3625.

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!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.

South County 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.

SCM: 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.

SCM: 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. 

SCM: 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.

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.

B976The 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! 

SCM: 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.

SCM: Is the procedure for the placement of implants painful? 

B977All 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.

SCM: 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.

SCM: 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.

SCM: Are there any risks of the body rejecting dental implants?

Dr. Lamming: Dental implants are the most successful dental procedure that we do today. They have a very high success rate in the range of 94% or better. They also last longer than any other dental restoration.

Occasionally there is an implant that does not fully integrate into the bone. When this happens it is a simple procedure to place a new one in its place and it is generally successful. Once an implant has osseointegrated there is very little chance of any type of rejection. Implants are made of titanium which is a very biocompatible material.

SCM: 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.  

SCM: 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
Dr.LammingConnect with Dr. Lamming by calling (949) 661-2290 or visit www.drlamming.com

As a special for South County Magazine readers, Dr. Lamming is offering a FREE Child’s cleaning with every Adult new patient and Cone Beam 3D X-ray for all implant case consultations.

It was the last week of August and our family was searching for a relaxing retreat before the hectic schedule of the new school year began. Our wish list was pretty specific: the destination needed to be easily accessible to our South County home and somewhere coastal to accommodate the kids’ desire to build sandcastles, search for seashells and play in the surf. We were hoping for a hotel with many dining, shopping, recreation and attractions within walking distance – so we could park the car when we arrived and ideally not need it again until it was time to check out.

You might think it a tall order, but we found exactly what we were looking for in La Jolla. Although it was less than a 45-minute drive, this picturesque seaside village felt worlds away.

Our accommodation couldn’t have been more ideal – The Grande Colonial Hotel (www.thegrandecolonial.com). La Jolla’s oldest original hotel is centrally located to everything – restaurants, world-class shopping and is literally steps away from “Children’s Pool,” a kid-friendly beach with tide pools plenty of hands-on exploration and rocky coves the local harbor seal population calls home.

This historic landmark boasts a signature Colonial revival-style architecture, premier corner location one block from the beach and a wonderfully storied past. The 93-room boutique hotel started out as an apartment/hotel in 1913 and housed a pharmacy run by the father of legendary actor Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla. It eventually evolved into a luxurious vacation destination for a veritable “who’s who” of Hollywood celebrities including Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx and David Niven.

We checked into a beautiful fourth floor junior suite with enormous windows that opened wide to cool breezes and sweeping ocean views – plenty of space to spread out with two queen beds, HDTV, office work station with desk and WiFi and an essential to get the morning started - a Keurig coffee maker.

At the front desk, we checked out everything we needed for an afternoon of surf and sand – towels, sand toys, boogie boards and even a beach umbrella. We walked the block to Children’s Pool (the kids had so much fun the first afternoon, they begged to go back the next day – what a great way to while away the afternoon).

We didn’t need to trek too far for dinner either – located next to the hotel lobby is the highly-acclaimed NINE-TEN Restaurant featuring “evolving California cuisine” and a Wine Spectator-recognized wine list. Led by award-winning Chef Jason Knibb and Pastry Chef Rachel King, the restaurant offered the perfect combination of sophisticated and casual elegance along downtown La Jolla’s historic Prospect Street.

The diverse menu showcases farm-to-table specialties ranging from house-smoked salmon and artisanal cheeses to nightly specials fashioned from market-fresh seasonal produce.

The kids ordered penne pasta with butter, which doesn’t differ much from what they eat at most restaurants, but for my husband and I, our meals were delicious and inventive dishes. We started with the Hamachi Sashimi with marinated baby shiitake mushrooms and scallion vinaigrette and the Spring Vegetable & Burrata Cheese salad made with roasted and raw peas, carrots, fava beans, radishes, snap peas, asparagus, pickled cherries, Treviso, pea tendrils and miso-yuzo vinaigrette. Another popular appetizer is the Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly with baby carrots, Swiss chard, plantains, black-eyed peas, spicy jellies and sweet potato purée.

For the main course, my husband selected the melt-in-your-mouth tender Braised Prime Beef Short Rib which arrived accompanied by roasted spring onion, asparagus, black trumpet mushroom, ramp top puree, mushroom and picked ramp duxelles. I opted for the flavorful Anson Mills Farro (a type of hulled wheat) and Roasted Chino Farms Vegetables.

Outdoor endeavors

The beauty of California is in its sandy beaches, iconic coastline and sunsets beyond description. In its carefree attitudes and no worries. Sandals and board shorts everyday of the year. It’s a lifestyle, a choice to live life to the fullest and have fun everyday. California is a State of Mind. And it’s everyday. This is the philosophy behind the La Jolla-based Everyday California (www.everydaycalifornia.com) guided sea kayak tours.

We discovered firsthand that all the staff members – those in the store, at registration and the tour guides for our group – really live by these words. Everyone we encountered was super friendly – our guides were clearly passionate water enthusiasts who made our open-ocean “tour” a safe and fun afternoon excursion. Our kids loved being on the water kayaking in the La Jolla Sea Caves and Ecological Reserve to get up close and personal with the abundant marine life, including sea lions, garibaldi fish and harmless leopard sharks.

Eating Out

Right across the street from Everyday California is Galaxy Taco (www.galaxytaco.com) - home to what is arguably one of the best Mexican-inspired menus I’ve ever sampled. No kidding. I expected casual, fast-food style tacos, burritos and the like and was surprised to find that while the ambiance and price point were pretty casual, the dishes here were off-the-hook delicious.

Most of Chef Trey Foshee’s menu is based off their wood-burning grill (a staple of Baja cuisine) and they grind their own masa from scratch starting with heirloom, non-GMO corn from Masienda in Mexico to craft their housemade tortillas.

Chef Trey’s love of Mexico, its people, culture and cuisine is evident in every bite. He says that he wants to create “a dining experience that is fun and where the only thing we take seriously is the quality of our ingredients” and their guests having a good time. Galaxy Taco delivered on every count – the signature Tacolandia ($5) is made with marinated, braised and seared pork shoulder, jalapeno slaw and chicharron, while the Chicken Adobo taco ($5) was flavorful with tender chicken, cucumber, crema and cilantro and the classic Baja Fried Fish Taco (also $5) combined fresh batter-fried fish with cabbage, pico de gallo, chiptle crema, radish and avocado.

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. 

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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.