4 Smart Spots for The OC Coffee Break

Whether it is a “triple venti soy no foam latte” (yes, there is such a thing) or a simple cup of strong, black coffee, everyone needs a caffeine fix in the morning. Today marks National Coffee Day (again there is such a thing), and so we thought we would celebrate The OC coffeehouses that have become smart spots for our morning needs. 😉

hiddenhouseHidden House Coffee Roasters, San Juan Capistrano
True to its name, this micro-roaster finds itself nestled between a few oak trees just past the San Juan Capistrano Amtrak station. With hardly much room between the register and the door, Hidden House manages to squeeze its roaster, large sacks of beans, and even a few tables into its establishment. You will appreciate their cold brew coffee, cappuccinos and how they serve their espresso with a glass of mineral water, as is proper in order to cleanse the palate after its consumption.

keancoffeeKéan Coffee, Newport Beach
For Martin Diedrich, founder of Kéan Coffee, great coffee has been part of the family for several generations. As coffee farm owners for much of the last century, the Diedrich family developed a deep, intuitive understanding of coffee. Martin and his wife Karen became business partners, and named Kéan Coffee after their only son. Kéan Coffee sits in a small shopping center with a few outside tables along its long windows. Kéan roasts their own coffee on a drum roaster in the back corner of their store. From its beginnings in 2005, Kéan Coffee has operated as a sustainable, environmentally responsible business, setting an example for many others to follow. Kéan Coffee takes the coffee experience to the next level.

lagunacoffeecoLaguna Coffee Company, Laguna Beach
This coffeehouse is an oasis on the California Coast. The certified Mocha Java beans and Beachcomber blend is the main attraction here, but if you’re hungry they also serve delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I first discovered this coffeehouse because of their live jazz music and their posh vibe, and immediately my senses were heightened because of the great smell of freshly roasting coffee right here in-house. Relax with a cup of espresso, listen to some good music and enjoy a delicious panini.

portolacoffeelabPortola Coffee Lab, Costa Mesa
Portola is located in the OC Mart Mix. When you finally happen upon Portola, standing freely in the middle of the mall with baristas in lab coats…it’s a bit unexpected, but in retrospect, completely logical. Beans are carefully sourced and roasted on-site. The coffeehouse’s brewing methods span time and technologies, all with a heavy emphasis on a barista’s skills: the siphon filter method is a throwback to an industrial age that used vapor pressure and a vacuum to produce a clean cup of coffee. Move to the modern-era with the BUNN Trifecta machine, which offers several settings to fine tune each brewed cup, or opt for the manual pour-over. Portola also offers a Japanese cold brew for those warm, California days. Portola has studied the science of the perfect cup of coffee.

Hope you enjoyed these few spots, and let us know if there are any more! 🙂

The Buddy Holly Story

The Buddy Holly StoryI have never been a big fan of jukebox musicals. They can be fun but in general it’s lazy musical theater, meant for audiences afraid to try anything new. The shows take a collection of already published music from one particular person or band or genre, and either loosely connect them in an effort to form a story (Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, Rock of Ages) or use them in telling the story of the singer/band (Jersey Boys, The Boy from Oz). Critically, occasionally they work well and often they fall flat, but audiences (particularly those not familiar with or appreciative of the more original work on Broadway) tend to love them. Producers do to, because they come with an established fan base ready to splurge on tickets to see music they already know performed by people who remind them of the musicians they already love, and they get to say they saw a piece of theater. For those of us who prefer edgy, sexy, and original music (Cabaret and Pippin are two of my favorites), it’s frustrating to see more and more popping up on Broadway when there is plenty of original work to use, but at the same time I love any reason to get people in theaters. And one of the best parts of these types of shows, particularly the smaller casts of touring productions, is that you get an impressive group of extremely talented people playing multiple roles and multiple instruments. Big Bopper

The Buddy Holly Story is one of the original jukebox musicals, originally opening in 1989 and running on London’s West End for 12 years before a successful Broadway run and international tours. It was critically acclaimed and popular before the more formulaic eye-roll-inducing Mamma-Mia-inspired flops took over the Great White Way (Lennon, Good Vibrations, Ring of Fire, Hot Feet). The production I saw last night, currently playing at The Laguna Playhouse, is a cast of 14 dancers-singers-actors-musicians, many of whom have been playing these roles in multiple productions. For Todd Meredith, this marks his 15th time in the title role, in addition to performing all over the country in a Buddy Holly tribute band along with bassist (and trombonist) Bill Morey, who is in his 5th production of TBHS. Pinch-his-cheeks-adorable Emilio Ramos reprises his role of Ritchie Valens (almost stealing the show with his La Bamba, my favorite performance of the night), and a boisterous Mike Brennan plays the Big Bopper for the fifth time. This isn’t just a job for these guys, these are parts they were born to play and they are killing it up there. I am not ashamed to say that when it came to the end of the story, the night the proverbial music died, I got a little teary-eyed. And I KNEW how it would end! This little jukebox musical and its stars grabbed at my heartstrings.

The Buddy Holly Story

Why not go? If you hate Buddy Holly music (and who hates Buddy Holly music?!) you won’t like this, because that’s pretty much all it is. If you prefer shows with elaborate sets, precision choreography, deep plots or spectacle, this show is not for you.

Why go? Do you find yourself tapping your feet or singing along every time Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Chantilly Lace, or Johnny B. Goode comes on the radio? Are you AT ALL interested in the history of American music? Do you need a wholesome show to take your kids or in-laws to? Most importantly do you (like me) enjoy  watching really talented people doing what they do best and having a hell of a good time doing it? Then go. Go, sing along, get up and dance, and leave the theater with your cheesy cardboard black geek glasses remembering the short life of the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.

SIDE NOTEif you see it at The Laguna Playhouse, or ANYTHING at The Laguna Playhouse and you measure 5’4″ or below, don’t get balcony seats. I had to sit on the edge of my seat to see anything below the performers’ shoulders. Petite problems. 

The Buddy Holly Story is playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California through August 10th. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com. For other productions around the country and the world, visit www.buddythemusical.com.

 

 

 

Sundays in the Park

Jayne and Inara in Bluebird Park, Laguna BeachFresh air, laughing children, food and wine, dancing neighbors and live music; there are few things that elicit a more favorable response than a classic summertime music concert in a park, especially when it’s free. A quick Google search shows how many options there are nation-wide for experiencing free musical concerts in public spaces, and we are all better for it. My family has enjoyed performances in Central Park in New York and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, and now thanks to the Laguna Beach Arts Commission we have this opportunity again in our new home of Laguna Beach.

Fifty-two year old Bluebird Park is enclosed by fencing and surrounded by quiet neighborhood streets. The park includes a soft grass lawn, picnic tables and barbecues, drinking fountains, shade trees, sidewalks, curvy slides built into a hillside, scooter/tricycle paths with tunnels and bridges, big kid areas for climbing, spinning and playing basketball, little kid playing area with sand and baby swings, and clean and safe restrooms. As a parent, if you are anywhere in the middle area of the park you can see almost everywhere else. Dogs are not allowed so although they are missed, it makes it even more comfortable for parents to let all the munchkins run loose. Situated in Bluebird Canyon, only 4 blocks inland from Coast Highway (that’s PCH for most of California), it gets enough of an ocean breeze that it doesn’t get too hot, and it’s inland enough that the wind doesn’t get too cold. In short, add the music and all the fun residents of Laguna Beach with their food and wine, and you get a family paradise in 1.7 acres. Bluebird Park Laguna Beach

When my husband and I were dating, he brought me to this beautiful town by the sea every opportunity we got to get away. Usually we had to fly out Sunday afternoons and would miss the opportunity to experience the Sunday evening concerts in Bluebird Park, with the exception of one time. I remember how happy he was then and how romantic the evening was, with our packed picnic dinner we had prepared earlier that day and a few bottles of wine, laid out on our picnic blanket on the lawn. I’m sure I fell more in love with him then. The acoustics in the canyon were perfect for the music, played on a tiny hill on one end of the park with little amplification needed. We loved being there together but we both hoped to be back one day with my daughter so that we could attend the affair as a family. This past Sunday night, five years after we met, we finally had that opportunity as they kicked off their 31st season of music. Grateful Dead fan at Music in the Park, Laguna Beach

The genre is different every week, and this season started off with a Grateful Dead tribute band, Cubensis. We hadn’t paid attention to the schedule in advance, but we figured it out fairly quickly by the crowd. The people-watching was a blast and seeing my little Manhattan baby twirling around with adults in tie-dye handing out stickers and “Free Hugs” was priceless. With our picnic blanket nestled amongst early-afternoon campers on the front row with only the dance area between us and the band, my husband and I held each other and chatted with new neighbors, once again enjoying a picnic dinner we’d cooked together. But this time we also watched my daughter as she danced and played around the park, slid down the hillside and played tag with neighborhood kids. We followed her to the monkey bars holding hands, glasses of wine in the others, and in a perfect moment he admitted how happy he was to be back in Bluebird Park, this time as a family, for the occasion. It really is that special.

If you live in Orange County or will be visiting this summer, make time in your schedule for music in Bluebird Park Sunday evenings. The bands play from 5-7pm and you can claim your picnic spot no earlier than 3pm. The park is located at 798 Blue Bird Canyon Drive, Laguna Beach and parking is limited so walk and/or take public transportation if you can. Next week (July 20th) we look forward to Zydeco with Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (of course- we got married in New Orleans!), then Soul with Stone Soul (7/27), Beatles music with Beatroots (8/3), Irish with The Fenians (8/10), Reggae with Lesterfari & Kings Music (8/17), and finally Blues with Tom Nolan Band to close out the season on August 24th. Suffice it to say that if we are in town, we’ll be there. And in the Laguna spirit, we can always make room for one more.

Music in Bluebird Park Laguna Beach 2014 Schedule

YesVideo: From Memories to Retelling Stories Digitally

YVStoryTourThese past few months, I have been honored to be a YesVideo Storyteller, their ambassador program. Part of the benefits of being a “Storyteller” is traveling to their headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and take a tour of their facilities. Since 1999, YesVideo has been providing services and programs for families to protect and share generations of memories. They believe in designing products that our own families would enjoy and building processes that we would trust to handle our own irreplaceable memories. First, they started out by mailing customers CD-ROMs, then moved toward mailing DVDs and now making it easy to share the memories via email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and NOW even EMBED VIDEOS on your blog. Along with mailing in your “memories,” you can go into a retail drop-off location like Costco and pick up your “stories” within a few weeks.

“YesVideo is the platform for America’s Family Memories,” said YesVideo’s CEO Michael Chang. “17 million tapes will be lost forever this year. YesVideo wants to change this.” YesVideo brings back memories. Their mission is to help families rediscover & share precious moments held on old film reels, VHS tapes,etc. They currently have 1.8 million video in their YesVideo Cloud, which is connected with Amazon Cloud. Did you know that 125 million minutes of video securely via the cloud with 30% of users are sharing with friends and family? AMAZING!YesVideoBarCodesThe YesVideo tour, given by VP of Operations Lisa McCabe, began at the beginning of where “your stories” enter the facility, the loading dock. From the moment they receive your memories, YesVideo understands that you are entrusting us with your precious and irreplaceable “memories.” They assign ever videotapes, etc with a barcode. They take this responsibility extremely seriously and treat your memories as we would treat our own, like gold. So much, that they have installed tons of video cameras in the facilities to ensure the security and safety of each “story.”YesVideoReelsThe video transferring begins of your media. It is truly amazing to see all the reels going. The sounds bring me back to my childhood. 🙂
YesVideoEditingThen, it moves to editing, where they use an algorithm to make chapters in “your stories.” Each chapter a picture is grabbed to be put on your DVD cover.YesVideoLisaMcCabeThen, the edited videos are burnt on your DVD and placed in the YesVideo Cloud. Did you know that YesVideo has the greatest number of VHS players than anywhere in the world?! If you want to donate yours, they are always accepting more. 😉YesVideoPlayersDuring the last step called “Order Fulfillment,” YesVideo brings up your order record and the system lists all of the items that correspond to your order. This list consists includes your original media, DVD disks and cover sheets for the DVDs. We complete the inventory of your order by scanning the barcode on each item in your order. This ensures that we have the correct DVDs matching to each piece of original media. Once YesVideo has fulfilled and sealed your order, it is boxed up and shipped back to you via UPS.YesVideoPackingI personally want to thank the great YesVideo host and hostess of the mostest, Eber Legarreta and Sharleen Reyes. You know how to show people great food and fun places in the Bay area. I also want to thank CEO Michael Chang and VP of Operations Lisa McCabe for taking time out of their busy schedules to show us what makes YesVideo the place where the world should be bring their Family Videos. Thank you!

Business Travel: Silicon Valley, California

Business_Travel_Silicon_ValleyI am a firm believer in the idea of adding fun to a business trip. It’s not always easy to find free time when you’re traveling all over the place representing your company or brand, but business travelers should carve out time to enjoy themselves whenever possible. Fortunately, a perk for being a YesVideo ambassador was traveling to their headquarters in Silicon Valley. This brand knows how to work hard and play hard. The digital revolution transformed Santa Clara County, California, into the home of some of the world’s biggest technology companies. So, if you are here on business visiting one of these companies, here’s is what I would recommend for you in Silicon Valley.

Local Charming Hotel
Looking for a quality hotel in the Silicon Valley that has more local charm than big name behind it? Try The Plaza Suites in Santa Clara, California. It is a great value for the money with a ritzy-looking front lobby and comfortable suites. Located near the 101 freeway, it’s a great place to stay for business trips, a university visit or a weekend getaway.ThePlazaSuitesThe_Plaza_Suites_Pool

Amazing, Comfort Restaurant
Pedro’s Restaurant offers a varied and unique selection of authentic Mexican creations. Share their delicious Pedro’s Sampler Platter, which comes with mini beef chimichangas, sopes, taquitos and cheese quesadilla, served with with jalapeno cream cheese and guacamole. Their Sweet Corn Tamales are also a perfect way to start out your meal. Indulge in their Carnitas Tacos or Enchiladas Las Hadas for the seafood lover, which comes with snow crab and bay shrimp in two flour tortillas with salsa del mar and a sliced avocado.Pedros_Restaurant

Stan’s Donut Shop is a local favorite and a staple in the community since 1959. This bakery has got all your favorites and some more fun flavors for the adventurers. 😉

Getting There
Silicon Valley is well served with scheduled flights to San Jose International Airport from Southwest, American Airlines, jetBlue, United and Delta.

Getting to Silicon Valley
There are lots of different options. Local light rail is connected by a free airport shuttle bus, or you can get one of the scheduled bus services that service the airport as well. San Jose Airport connects to Caltrain by VTA bus line 10, a free shuttle between the airport and the Santa Clara Caltrain station and transit center. Various other local VTA bus lines also leave from this transit center. Taxis also serve the airport and can transport you to Sunnyvale for around $25 one way, for example. Limo transfers and Uber are also available from outside the airport terminal.

Must-See Sights
Silicon Valley is home to the company that basically powers the entire computer industry: Intel Corporation. You can learn all about the history and operations of this groundbreaking tech company at its sleek, ultra-cool museum with fun and interactive exhibits for all ages. It has big touch screens, a fun Name Machine to create letters in the binary code of 0s and 1s, and a kiosk where you can send digital composite photo postcards to friends. Although these are largely closed tech campuses, outside Google’s campus at Building 44, 1635 Charleston Road, you can do selfies with a big green Android, or a colorful Jellybean, Cupcake, Frozen Yogurt, Gingerbread Man and more sculptures of the company’s mobile operating systems. Still saving up for that race car? Get your fast and furious fix at K1 Speed, an indoor go kart racing track. And be warned: These aren’t your mother’s go-karts. They can get up to 45 miles an hour!1653652_10203009615419841_690413714_n

NextSpace for Getting Things Done
Traveling on business and need a place to work? It’s the sharing economy to the rescue! Coworking could be just the answer you’ve been looking for, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out NextSpace, a creative hub of economic activity, bringing together entrepreneurs and freelancers. Located in the Historic Lion Building on the corner of Second and San Fernando Streets, NextSpace provides a cafe, workstation, office and conference space for you while you are on business travel.