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Laguna Beach artist Dave Hobrecht completes Jackie Robinson painting, “Game Changer”

Laguna Beach sports artist Dave Hobrecht has teamed up with former Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti to start a new company called The All-Time. Colletti is selecting a roster of the all-time greatest Dodger players, coaches, and broadcasters, while Hobrecht is creating completely original black-and-white paintings for each selection. 

The All-Time Dodgers pitching staff, catcher, and first baseman paintings have already been released, and now it is time to reveal Hobrecht’s newest painting “Game Changer,” showcasing the best second baseman in Dodgers history: Jackie Robinson. 

Laguna Beach Dodgers

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Submitted photo

Dave Hobrecht’s Jackie Robinson painting, “Game Changer”

Hobrecht knew that Jackie Robinson’s legacy extended far beyond the baseball diamond. He wanted to create something that not only paid tribute to Jackie himself, but also to all of the lives that he affected. 

Players like Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Chan Ho Park, and Fernando Valenzuela (among countless others) were able to become a part of Major League Baseball and have successful careers thanks to the brave actions of Jackie Robinson. Branch Rickey and Vin Scully look on as Dodger players of all races, religions, and ethnicities line up to shake Jackie’s hand and pay “Game Changer.”

The All-Time is a company out of Laguna Beach that will release an in-depth art book in September 2019 containing the all-time greatest Dodger legends at each position selected by Ned Colletti and painted by Dave Hobrecht. 

It is a one-of-a-kind product that will place unparalleled insight from a successful MLB executive next to exquisite, original artwork from one of the best sports artists in the game. Each month leading up to the book release, The All-Time will reveal a new addition to their roster alongside a brand new painting. 

To learn more, visit www.thealltime.com.


New Little Free Library coming to Fire Station #3 – community invited to celebration & potluck on April 5

The community is invited to join together for a community celebration and potluck on April 5 at 5:30 p.m., at Fire Station #3 in the Top of the World neighborhood, in celebration of the new Little Free Library coming to the Laguna Beach Fire Station #3. 

Bring your appetite, a dish to share and pull up a chair in the fire station! Wine is also allowed at this event. The fire station will provide tables and chairs.

The Little Free Library Foundation has donated a library box under their Impact Giving Program for installation in front of Laguna Beach Fire Station #3.

The library will serve firefighters, the school community, and neighbors, with the primary goal of raising awareness about nature, wildlife, and our local environment in a time of increasingly dangerous fires and lengthier fire seasons. As with other Little Free Libraries, the fire station’s library will also be stocked with books to entertain as well as inform. 

Fire Station books

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Firefighters were inspired by Ellen Girardeau Kempler’s Little Free Library, just a few blocks away from Fire Station #3

Because Laguna’s Fire Station #3 was the staging area for the fight against a June 2018 wildfire that threatened and forced evacuation of the Top of the World neighborhood, this is an especially well-timed gift that symbolizes the important partnership between communities and their fire departments in fire preparedness, prevention, and safety.

In keeping with the terms of the gift, neighbor Ellen Girardeau Kempler, who submitted the grant application, will assist helping maintain the library and will organize one community program – a story time or presentation – during the coming year. She will also see that the library is registered on the Little Free Library organization’s map and work with the city to promote the library through photos, news stories, and blog posts. 

To help keep the library stocked, firefighters and community members are welcome to replenish it, keeping in mind the objectives outlined above. Ellen will also seek assistance from Transition Laguna and other community groups, including the “book fairies” to help replenish. 

Fire Station #3 is located at the corner of Tree Top Lane and Alta Laguna Boulevard in Top of the World.


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

March 12, 2019

Almost spring – more daylight but no high temps 

Dennis 5Here on Sunday, our new adjusted time of sunset is at 6:57 p.m. PDT. Now that’s more like it!

The Spring Equinox is only around 10 days away. However, you wouldn’t know it as temps continue to run 10 degrees or more below normal as the deep cold low pressure trough extends all the way down to central Baja. Even places like Palm Springs are still awaiting that magical 70-degree day when it should be about 76 degrees by now. It was only 65 there on Sunday.

By now, Laguna usually has seen at least three days with 80-degree temps. Heck, we’re just trying to reach the 70 mark and that doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. On the bright side, we’re still warmer than 85 percent of the rest of the country. 

Now it’s almost spring and here comes severe weather and tornado season. An estimated 1,200-1,300 tornadoes strike the country each year. There’s been a tornado reported in all 50 states, but the core of activity occurs east of the Continental Divide. Not one month escapes the wrath of these violent storms. 

During the winter months, the focus of activity is in the Deep South and the Gulf oast. By late March, the area known as Tornado Alley comes to life mainly in the Southern Plains. April and May are the peak times in the plains for tornadoes. Only about two to four percent of these reach EF-4 or EF-5 status. 

By June, tornado activity reaches far north into places like the Dakotas and the upper Midwest. Tornado frequency drops off dramatically in the Deep South. Their peak season is during the winter as cold fronts penetrate that far south so we get the great temp differential. Twenty-three lives were lost two Sundays ago in Alabama when an EF-4 with winds up to 175 mph tore through a populated area. More casualties are sure to happen as the season progresses.

Most tornadoes happen between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the afternoon but they can strike at any hour.

Even California has had tornadoes with a couple of them reaching EF-2 status. Down here we’re pretty safe but we’ve had a couple of waterspouts that reached EF-1 status like the one that made landfall just south of the Aliso Beach Pier on Thanksgiving of 1981.

Our flat spell continues. Did somebody build a huge breakwater offshore and not tell us? The ocean is in a deep coma. Time to build an artificial wave machine here in California. There’s a classic one in of all places Austin, Texas that cranks out perfect four to five foot barrels every 70 seconds. Might have to check it out if this flat spell keeps going! 

See y’all Friday, ALOHA!


Club Q Laguna to screen Beginners on Friday

Club Q’s movie of the month, Beginners, will screen on Friday, March 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Susi Q Center. 

After his mother dies, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is stunned when his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, comes out of the closet. When Hal passes away a few years later, Oliver grows depressed, struggling with his failing career as an artist while constantly remembering his childhood and time spent with his dad. Oliver’s loneliness is eased when he meets actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent), but their relationship is threatened by their mutual fear of commitment.

Club Q Beginners

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Join Club Q at the Susi Q for a special screening of “Beginners” on Friday

Club Q Laguna, a social club for the LGBTQ community and friends, has been bringing people together for the past five years and meets the first and third Friday monthly. 

RSVP for the event here.

Bring a treat to share (optional), and friends. Club fees apply

Susi Q’s mission is to work together to enhance the lives of seniors through programs, services, and advocacy that promote independence, wellness, and community.

Susi Q is located at 380 Third St.


Annamarie just a few hundred boxes short of
her goal of selling 5,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies,
today last day to buy

By DIANNE RUSSELL

With the help of Brian Griep of the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association (LBPEA), who spearheaded a campaign to help Annamarie McIntosh reach her goal, and both LBPEA and the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association making generous donations, Annamarie McIntosh is just a few hundred boxes short of selling 5,000 boxes. 

Annamarie just firefighters

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(L-R) Crissy Teichmann, Annamarie, Firefighters Scott Hammond and Tom Padden

On Saturday, after meeting with Annamarie, President of the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association Crissy Teichmann, said, “The Laguna Beach Firefighters are always up for a challenge. When the Police Association challenged us to match their Girl Scout cookie purchase to help Annamarie meet her goal of selling 5,000 boxes of cookies, we not only matched it, we beat it by buying twice as much.” 

Annamarie’s dad Steve says, “She’s so close. We were busy over the weekend.” 

Her mother Vicki says, “Annamarie has been working hard to sell cookies and getting donations to supply cookies to the troops at Camp Pendleton through Cookie Share.”

Annamarie just rain

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Annamarie has been working hard, rain or shine

 As of yesterday, Brian was still working on getting her to the 5,000 mark.

Today is the last day, since Annamarie has to have her paperwork in tomorrow morning. So if you want to help her reach the goal by buying or donating, call her dad Steve at (949) 315-9209 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Girl Scouts offer many opportunities and experiences for young girls. As a young girl, I was a Brownie and Girl Scout and have a lot of great memories from those experiences. We are proud of Annamarie’s motivation, passion, and dedication to help support many young girls across the country by selling so many boxes of cookies.


With passion and commitment, Co-Owner/Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales transforms Nirvana Grille

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The most important thing Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales wants people to know is, “Nirvana Grille is not the Nirvana Grille they knew a few years ago.” Due to the vision and dedication of Smith-Rosales and her husband Luis Rosales, co-owners of Nirvana Grille, the entire feel of the restaurant is evolving.

With passion close up

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Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales

Of course, the quality of the food doesn’t need revamping. Among Smith-Rosales’ many accolades, she was named “Great Chefs of Orange County” for the celebration of Food and Wine at the Balboa Bay Club, named one of the “Top 10 Chefs in Orange County Under 40,” and she has been featured on the front cover of OC Metro Magazine, in Laguna Beach Magazine as among the top 14 local chefs, and chosen as one of the Roosters Foundation’s “Culinary Masters.”

Nirvana Grille has been a staple on Broadway for over a decade and remarkably will celebrate its 11th anniversary on March 15 (Smith-Rosales was only 28 when it opened), and she admits that she always wanted to have her career unfold here. 

Collaboration

“From the time I started cooking, I knew I wanted to be here because I was born and raised in Laguna, and it’s small. I met my husband at the Ritz-Carlton back in 2002. He helped open it and worked there for 16 years. Then after being together for years, we opened the restaurant in Mission Viejo. We envisioned opening at that location first, and we also catered. Luis was out front as the server. It took off quickly, and we wanted to see if we could open another one.”

With passion good food

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The food experience of the guests is always the main objective

Lucky for Laguna, they had their sights set on this town.

“We heard a place in Laguna was available, so we looked at it. It kind of just happened. I was four months pregnant at the time, but we decided we could handle it. The property owners (who originally wanted a bank here) loved the menu, and that we were husband and wife, and I was a female chef. It worked out, and he didn’t raise our rent for five years.” 

Smith-Rosales designed the interior, and Gregg Abel, her godparent, was the architect. Soon they were ready for business. As fate would have it, her older son, Diego, was born the day before the Pageant of the Masters opened in 2008. “We started here in Laguna after two years in Mission Viejo, and we ran them concurrently for four years until November 2012 when the lease was up there.

“Our first year here was constantly unfolding, and this year has been a huge one for transitioning as well. Now we have a great local following, but since we’ve evolved over the years as a family and in other areas, I wanted to reflect that change here.” 

Back in the kitchen

“When my younger son, Mateo, who is now two and a half, was born, I took time away from the restaurant and was here only twice a week. Although I still did events off site, marketing, and catering, I didn’t have to be here every day,” she says. “Then in June, we parted ways with our sous chef. We weren’t being innovative, and I wasn’t finding ‘crave-able” things on the menu, and I figured that if I wasn’t, neither were our customers. Unfortunately, the next chef didn’t work out, so I decided to be in the kitchen again.” 

With passion rockfish

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Pan-seared Rockfish dish

And it appears as if Smith-Rosales is very happy to be back there. “I’m having a ball in the kitchen with my staff. We’ve never laughed so hard, and now they see me in a different light. I’m not just coming in trying to fix or pick at things. It’s all about the experience of our guests.”

To that end, she and her husband have switched roles. During the week, she’s in the restaurant five days, and he comes in two to three days. However, she still makes sure she spends a substantial amount of time with Diego and Mateo. “Diego now realizes his role in the family, and is taking responsibility for chores, so when we do have time together, we can spend it having fun.”

Not surprisingly, Diego loves to cook. “He has three things he makes: tacos, blackened salmon, and a special recipe for mashed potatoes,” she says. “And he loves to eat. When he was younger, he’d eat lentils and broccolini and zucchini.” 

Sophisticated fare for a child, but I suppose not when your mother is a chef.

Innovative ideas

Smith-Rosales admits, “It’s hard to make it here. Laguna is saturated with restaurants.”

They typically change menus with each season, and the new spring menu will be rolled out on April 2, from Tuesday through Sunday. The new items will be up to 50 percent off, depending on the dish. They also change the wine list, so they might have some wine bottles that they’re discontinuing on special. 

 “I can put a menu together pretty quickly, but it wouldn’t be a lot of new stuff, and like I did with the fall menu, I’m trying to be intentional about creating things that people loved, and so we always have our staple dishes, but I need to be inspired and intrigued, the dishes need to be ‘crave-able,’” she says. “There are two on the menu that I crave every week, the Pan Seared Rockfish and the Chicken with Farro Risotto.” 

Smith-Rosales has already implemented some other appealing ideas. 

For late night customers, beginning on March 1, Late Night Nirvana Bites, are now served on Friday and Saturdays from 9 - 11 p.m., and then at 10 p.m., the space is transformed into a lounge with a couple of VIP tables and a dance floor and blue lights. When it’s warm, they’ll open the outside patio with a firepit and the upstairs as well. 

With passion behind bar

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Gertrude, Chef Smith-Rosales, and Enrique behind the bar

From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday nights, patrons can dance the night away to ‘80s music and on Saturday, move to Latin beats. There is no cover charge. The demographic for their setting is 30 - 50 years old, and what she’s always interested in is what the crowd is looking for. Enrique Zarate, who has been with Nirvana for 10 years, and is the lead server and bartender for the dance parties, spurred Smith-Rosales on to start them. 

A weekend place to grab a late bite and dance the night away

“I want the people in Laguna to know there’s a place to get something to eat after work. And a place to dance that doesn’t look like a storage room or a dive bar.” 

She has also introduced a Laguna Pride 365 event every Friday (the first one was on March 1). Local Craig Cooley and his organized group met upstairs from to 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Around 40 people attended.) It’s open to the public. “After their meeting, they came downstairs to dance,” says Smith-Rosales.

As an additional perk, although OC Restaurant Week ended on March 9, Smith-Rosales says, “We will continue the three-course set menu for $30 and $40 a person for three weeks until the new spring menu is introduced.” 

With passion late night

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Late night fare

Other significant alterations will happen in the fall when the entire center gets a facelift. Major changes (done in phases) will take place inside Nirvana Grille as well.

But that’s not the transformation that Smith-Rosales is concerned with now. It’s the feel of the place. She says, “We know the evolution is not going to happen overnight. We’re being realistic. We are building it and thinking of things as we go.”

Just to add to the appeal, here‘s a couple of things that residents may not know: Happy hour is all night, every night of the week. They have an inside and outside patio (both allow dogs) and a parking lot!

It certainly seems as if Smith-Rosales’ vision for Nirvana Grille is headed in the right direction to be true to its name – nirvana – the place to achieve a perfect state of happiness. It’s just a matter of getting the word out.

Nirvana Grille is located at 303 Broadway St, #101.

For more information, go to www.nirvanagrille.com or call (949) 497-0027.


Bird Watch 

Bird Watch volleyball

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

“Where is everyone?”


Laguna Creek curves 

Laguna Creek sunset

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

The creek meanders and merges with the sea


Sea glitter

Sea glitter

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Photo by Tom Berndt 

Spectacular specular reflections light up the sea and the sky


Spring super bloom

Spring super yellow flowers

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Wildflowers don’t care where they grow, but they picked a good place

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