Schlau Rogers of Laguna Beach concludes its month-long clothing drive in support of job seekers

Schlau Rogers of Laguna Beachwas among theseventy-four law firms and legal businesses and organizations that joined together for the 8th Annual “Suits for a Cause” clothing drive throughout the month of March to donate professional suits to WHW, which provides the unemployed and underemployed the skills and resources they need to get and keep a good job. 

This year’s “Suits for a Cause” provided over 500 suits and thousands of pieces of business and casual attire and accessories for one of the nonprofit’s largest clothing drives of the year.

As a three-attorney practice, Schlau Rogers personally donated items and also encouraged their network to donate on their behalf throughout March by offering pick-ups by the Schlau Rogers team, personal deliveries, and coordination with local businesses in their network to increase donations.

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Matt Schlau (Principal Attorney), Joshua Rogers (Principal Attorney) and Tom Yacko (Of Counsel).

Said Schlau Rogers’ Principal Attorney Matthew Schlau, “This was our first year being involved with WHW’s ‘Suits for a Cause,’ as Josh, Tom and I formed our practice at the start of 2017. But, we plan on staying involved! Giving back to our community is something we’ve been doing for quite a while. We’re Mater Dei graduates, as well as former members of the baseball team there, which instilled principles like supporting our local community through charitable efforts in all three of us. 

“From the start of our practice, we have continued to incorporate these principles and will continue to do so. We’re focusing our next charitable efforts on helping to assist local pregnant women become self-sufficient and break the cycle of homelessness.”

Schlau Rogers is passionate about helping new and existing businesses succeed, and looks to incorporate ideas, methods and tactics of successful entrepreneurs in counseling their clients. One way they continue to learn is through podcasts and a podcast turned the firm on to the idea of helping job seekers in their local community, which led to their participation with WHW and Suits for a Cause.

In 1993, WHW was founded by two legal professionals and survivors of domestic abuse who had faced the task of rebuilding their self-esteem, and their professional wardrobes, in order to return to the workforce. 

WHW has grown from providing 63 women with professional apparel to help prepare them for interviews 25 years ago to now serving more than 8,000 job seekers (men and women) each year and empowering them to navigate a complex job search with a multitude of tools. 

WHW is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and since its inception, has served over 90,000 job seekers with programs including Employment Readiness Workshops, Computer Training, Job Placement Assistance, Employment Retention Assistance and Professional Apparel, including interview-appropriate apparel and accessories. 

WHW accepts donations year-round including clothing donations at its Irvine location (2803 McGaw Avenue). 

For more information about Suits for a Cause and the full list of legal firms, groups and companies that participated this year, visit

Brenda Bredvik: The acclaimed Laguna artist takes on new challenges at the Sawdust this year


“There will be cats,” she said.

That’s all it took, and I knew I’d be visiting artist Brenda Bredvik’s booth at the Sawdust Festival this year.

Well, truth be told, you couldn’t have kept me away from her booth, cats or not, despite my fanaticism for all things feline.

I first met Brenda about 10 years ago, when I was living in Woodbridge, Irvine. A large wall in our house needed either a solid piece of furniture or an amazing piece of art. I happened to be in Laguna and saw Brenda’s abstract painting of Crystal Cove. 

Despite what seemed like an enormous sum of money to me – though of course an appropriate price for such talent – I bought it, my first original oil painting.

I love the painting – the colors and the light and how it speaks to me in different ways at different times – and it now hangs in a prominent spot on our (much smaller) wall here in Laguna.

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Brenda’s talent with color is obvious in this pool triptych, a commissioned piece

So I’m delighted to hear that Brenda has decided, after nine years of exhibiting at the Festival of Arts (though more recently she’s exhibited at art galleries here and in Arizona) to showcase her awesomeness at the Sawdust.

“They’re such a wonderful, friendly, warm generous group of people,” she says of the Board and the artists who have shared tips and advice about how best to show her work in this beautiful canyon setting.

Brenda is also attracted to the Sawdust by the fact that she can show her work in both photography and oil painting (FOA only allows for one medium), and she’s also planning for the first time to sell reproductions of her art in a variety of sizes. This will enable many more people to afford and enjoy her work.

Her biggest challenge? “I’m an artist, not a business person,” she says. “Making sure I have enough inventory, keeping things in the supply chain, figuring out how to build the booth – those are the things that I’m most concerned about – it’s daunting - I’m excited though, I love the atmosphere at the Sawdust.”

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Brenda is experimenting with “distressed” photography

And while attracting national and international art to Laguna Beach is an important element in maintaining our town’s reputation as an arts colony, there’s something quite wonderful about an arts festival so dedicated to nurturing and displaying the talent of our local artists.

Brenda is also a keen surfer and swimmer, covering 2,500 to 3,000 yards four times a week at the high school pool, and she’s taken part in several ocean races. She also loves to snorkel and SUP. Her obsession with all things coastal is reflected in her art, so vibrantly that one can practically smell the salt air and taste the spray. 

“I am the beach girl,” she says. “The environment here is constantly changing, the lighting, the atmosphere, it inspires me.”

She says there are similarities between her two passions, art and swimming: “Both are a process. Over time, you build technique, as you do them over and over, you tweak things so you’re better, or faster, or more confident.”

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Brenda is seen here with her niece, Jenna Bredvik (18) who also loves the ocean

Unusually for someone as obsessed with the water as she is, Brenda, who grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, only learned to swim when she was 30 years old. “It was part of my rehab after a skiing accident,” she says. “I loved it right away.”

Laguna residents for 23 years, Brenda and her husband Mark also love to hike and climb to high spots, including Mt. Whitney in 2010. 

“He’s in IT, not an artist,” she says. “I couldn’t be married to myself!” He cooks, she bakes. He’s calm; if she were a firework, she’d be a Catherine wheel. They’re a perfectly complementary pair.

Asked her painting technique, Brenda responds: “I think of it as a butterfly approach. I add, I subtract, I keep building layers, I paint over. I’m inspired by Nature’s palette.”

To which I can testify: her brilliant blues and teals, reds and greens vibrate on the canvas. Nature never had it so good.

So it is – whether creating glorious abstract landscape images, or experimenting with photography, or dabbling in matters cat – Brenda is an artist to treasure, as much for her work as her mercurial, many-faceted, sweet personality.

Brenda’s work can be viewed at

Send us your Sawdust news and updates – we love to publish features about our Laguna artists.

Bluebird Canyon Farms, Laguna’s glorious rural gem where great things grow, holds free open house

On Tuesday, April 10 between 6:30 and 8 p.m., Bluebird Canyon Farms – Laguna’s only farm! – will host a free open house where Lagunans can learn more about the history of the farm and the programs that are offered, from cooking to yoga classes to sensational Bounty “farm-to-table” dinners in the spring, summer and fall.

Taking the short journey from bustling downtown Laguna to this truly rural atmosphere takes only minutes, but the visitor feels transported to another world entirely – to a peaceful, thriving, fruitful oasis, tucked in the midst of suburbia.

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Beekeeper Connor Dorais with his bees

Owner Scott Tenney explains: “Bluebird Canyon Farms is a novel operating urban farm and unique educational facility. We take exceptional care of our property and work to support individual rights to quiet enjoyment of the canyon in which we reside. We operate safely, carefully, quietly, respect the environment, and contribute to community safety, security and resiliency. 

“We teach and train economically disadvantaged individuals and grow healthy food which we distribute to the local economy,” he adds. 

Tenney is hoping for a large turnout at the open house so that residents get a chance to meet the Bluebird Canyon Farms team and vice versa. 

Kathy “Farm” Tanaka, a member of the team, notes that people will be able to see where the vegetables that they purchase at the Farmers Market are grown – not to mention how honey is harvested straight from the hive. 

“Visitors to the open house will be able to meet our beekeeper and learn exactly where our honey comes from and how it is processed,” she says. The farms are also home to Black Copper Marans chickens and fish in aquaponics tanks. 

Onsite parking is limited and is offered first come first serve, although offsite parking is available on Rancho Laguna Road. Carpooling or taking the free public transit shuttle are alternative ways to enter the site also. 

Bluebird Canyon Farms is located at 1085 Bluebird Canyon Drive.

For more information on this upcoming event, visit or call (949) 715-0325.

Birthstone of the Month: Fascinating facts about diamonds, rare gems of legend and lore


The Hope. The Cullinan. The Koh-i-Noor. The April birthstone, diamond, has many famous specimens and is steeped in legend and lore. Some are renowned for their size – for example, the Cullinan is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found (3,106 carats in the rough, discovered in South Africa in 1905). 

Others are legendary for their storied past. The Koh-i-Noor, now in the British Crown Jewels, was believed to have been found in India hundreds (some have said thousands) of years ago. Although its origins are still a mystery, its path through history includes ownership by various ruling factions in modern-day India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Credit: Smithsonian

Hope Diamond

The Hope, a rare blue diamond, has been the subject of books and documentaries (and much superstition). Mined in India, its journey included French and British royal ownership before it wound up in the hands of a private collector, Henry Philip Hope. 

After several more changes in ownership, it came to Harry Winston, Inc. The company eventually donated it to the Smithsonian, where it is the most visited exhibit at the museum.

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Credit: Studio East

Pink Star Diamond

A recent addition to the roster of world-famous diamonds is the Pink Star. A year ago, on April 4, 2017, it set a world record. Or, more accurately, the new owner did. The Pink Star diamond, the largest pink diamond ever found, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong for $71 million. The stone, weighing just under 60 carats, was bought after only five minutes of bidding. 

Mined in Africa in 1999, the gem was cut over a period of two years and was bought by the jewelry company Chow Tai Fook. 

Diamonds are among the world’s rarest gemstones, and naturally colored diamonds only occur in an estimated 0.01 percent of the world’s diamond production. 

Diamonds are the only gemstone composed of a single element

Diamonds are 99.95 percent pure carbon - the only gemstone composed of a single element. With the exception of the pink to red diamonds, the colored ones get their color from chemical impurities - the tiny part of the diamond’s composition that is not pure carbon. Blue diamonds contain boron. Yellow diamonds contain nitrogen. But no one knows what makes pink diamonds pink (or red diamonds red). The current theory is that the color is in fact due some kind of seismic shock that happened to the diamond.

Diamonds are also the hardest material on earth - according to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), they are 58 times harder than anything else in nature. This does not mean, however, that they are indestructible. They are vulnerable to fracturing (“cleaving” in the gemological world) when hit.

Diamonds are ancient - most were formed more than a billion years ago, and at depths of more than a hundred miles. They were brought close to the Earth’s surface more than 20 million years ago, via volcanic eruptions which formed geological phenomena known as kimberlite pipes. 

While kimberlite pipes are primary sources for diamonds, the gems are also found in what is known as alluvial, or secondary, deposits. In such cases the diamonds were separated from the kimberlite pipe either by the explosive force of the eruption that formed the pipe, or were washed away after millions of years of erosion. 

The oldest recorded source of diamonds (dating to before 500 BC) is India, and these were all alluvial deposits. No one has ever discovered the original kimberlite source.

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Credit: Buzzle

Kimberlite Pipe

In addition to India, known diamond deposits include Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zaire, Australia, Canada, and Russia (note: this is not a comprehensive list).

Imitations abound

There are a variety of stones used to imitate diamonds, some of which are natural (colorless sapphire, for example), and some of which are man-made. The most common are the lab-grown imitations cubic zirconia (often known as CZ) and moissanite. 

Basic gemological equipment can be used to distinguish these from diamonds, as they do not have the same chemical, physical, or optical properties of natural diamonds. In other words, they look like, but are not really the same as, diamonds. And their value is not even in the same ballpark. A one-carat CZ can be had for five dollars or less. A one-carat moissanite will cost around $400. A one-carat diamond will cost $3,000 and up, depending on the quality.

Diamonds can be lab-grown

Diamonds (and some other gemstones) can, however, be lab-grown using materials and processes which create a stone which does have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties. In this case, the result is a synthetic diamond. 

For many years synthetic diamonds were not gem-quality, and the stones produced were used for industrial purposes. However, according to a recent New York Times article, in the past five years the quality of these man-made diamonds has reached a point where they can compete with natural diamonds aesthetically. The value of synthetic diamonds, and whether or not their value will fall as production increases, is a hotly debated topic.

Lorraine Hornby is a local jewelry artist and Certified Gemologist, SCC. Her work can be viewed at, and you can read more about gemstones and jewelry fabrication on her blog,

Wellness program at Montage is partnering with leading nutritionist and health coach, Kelly LeVeque

Montage Hotels & Resorts announced an exclusive new partnership with leading holistic nutritionist, celebrity health coach, and bestselling author, Kelly LeVeque.

Founder of Be Well By Kelly, LeVeque will offer curated, seasonal menu options at all Montage Hotels & Resorts locations for guests to stay on-plan and maintain a healthy regimen while traveling. The #BodyLoveatMontage collaboration between LeVeque and Montage marks LeVeque’s first hospitality partnership, and supports the brand’s overall commitment to providing guests and travelers with offerings to encourage healthy, fulfilling lives. 

“We are delighted to launch this partnership with Kelly LeVeque,” said Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman and CEO, Montage International. “Wellness is at the core of every Montage property, and our partnership with Kelly provides guests with extraordinary access to wellness resources.”

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Spa Smoothie

Starting April 9, all Montage Hotels & Resorts properties including Montage Laguna Beach, Montage Beverly Hills, Montage Deer Valley, Montage Kapalua Bay and Montage Palmetto Bluff will feature a Be Well By Kelly menu created by Kelly LeVeque for breakfast, lunch and dinner in select restaurants, in-room dining, Spa Montage and pool menus; Montage Los Cabos will unveil the menu upon opening in late spring. Highlights of the spring seasonal menu options include the Peaches and Greens Smoothie, Wild French Salmon Salad, Chicken Kale Cobb Snob Salad, Lemon-Garlic Roast Chicken and Buttery Lime Cod with Slaw. Menu items will change seasonally across the Montage portfolio.

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Southwestern Scramble

“I’m thrilled to start this venture with Montage Hotels & Resorts and create tailored experiences to educate locals and travelers, and help them enjoy a guilt-free vacation,” said expert Kelly LeVeque. “Together we will work towards putting forth an approachable program to excite and motivate guests.”

LeVeque is a bestselling author and nutritionist, well known for taking a practical and optimistic approach in helping people improve their health, achieve their goals, and develop sustainable habits. Her clients include Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Sophia Bush, Molly Sims, Chelsea Handler, Emmy Rossum, Sanaa Lathan and more. Before starting her consulting business, Be Well By Kelly, LeVeque worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies and eventually transitioned into personalized medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, and completed her Post Graduate Clinical Nutrition education through UCLA and UC Berkeley. 

Her book, “Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever,” will also be available at all Montage retail stores.

The Ranch – it’s a stay-cation destination


Sometimes you want to unplug your devices, de-program the overloaded brain, and hit the re-set button. I’m talking about a solid vacation, where you can be transported into relaxation mode. Sometimes that requires a journey, but sometimes you can find that vacation state of mind in your own backyard – with the added bonus that you don’t need to pack tiny toiletries. Full tube of toothpaste, no problem. Not sure which shoes? Bring ‘em all! Throw the whole lot in the car and take a drive to a whole other world – just get to The Ranch at Laguna Beach.

So easy. Right down the road, and yet it feels like a million miles away.

I did that. I left my default world just for a weekend, and ended up re-booting my whole system – in the best way possible.

Enter another world

  The Ranch LB is unlike any other place in Laguna, or Southern California, for that matter. The setting, deep in the canyon and beside a burbling creek, is bucolic. The canyon walls and jutting rocks make a dramatic backdrop. The green lushness of it all could have been plucked from Ireland or New Zealand or… well, so many places that aren’t Southern California. And it’s one of the reasons The Ranch was awarded the National Geographic designation Unique Lodges of the World. 

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Photo courtesy The Ranch LB

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Once tucked into that into that canyon nest, it’s easy to let the outside world fade from memory.

Start with check-in. The Ranch is staffed with nothing but cheerful and attentive people who, additionally, all seem to be very attractive. Maybe the cool, relaxed vibe here just makes everyone look better. Come to think of it, I think I looked better after the weekend spent here.

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the property with The Ranch’s marketing manager, Caitlin Curry. We zipped around in a little golf cart, first to see the Creekside Suites, where I would be staying, and then past the first hole where we paused while golfers exacted their shots over Aliso Creek.

The creek looked really nice. It was clear and flowing and there were actually fish in it. Lots of big fish – catfish? I don’t know. But, in my almost 30 years here, knowing that creek as it flowed through Leisure World, when my mom lived there, and here, back when it was Ben Brown’s, I never remember fish in the creek. Caitlin told me that The Ranch team volunteers every couple of weeks to clean an almost one mile section of the creek that The Ranch has adopted, upstream. It’s been pretty polluted – she even pulled an old car bumper out of the water, and, of course, lots of plastic.

In tune with the environment

The Ranch is active in environmental sustainability. For one thing, I was very pleased to find that The Ranch does not proffer up straws with drinks. That’s one of my pet peeves. It seems to me that straws are overabundant these days, and I hate seeing them litter our beaches. At The Ranch, you can have a straw only if you ask for it, but it will be a nice paper one. Then Caitlin showed me an interesting bit of The Ranch’s recycling technology.

Out by the area known as Scout Camp, there’s a shed housing some of the maintenance equipment and a very special device that, apparently, is the only one of its kind in North America, a GLSand glass bottle crusher. The Ranch’s discarded glass is put through a five-step recycling process in this machine and is turned into sand. The beautiful white sand is then used for pavement repairs, pool filtration, and to fill those dastardly sand traps on the golf course.

Additionally, the resort uses all reclaimed water on the golf course and grounds, and has an on-site organic garden for the chef’s menu creation.

One more pet peeve – plastic water bottles. I drink a lot of water, and I always have my re-usable thermos by my side, so another thing that impressed me at The Ranch was the water filtration machine I found in the workout room. Compact enough that it could fit in my (tiny) home kitchen, it puts water through all kinds of filtration, osmosis and alkalinity, and dispenses it right into your vessel. Dear Santa, I would love one of those machines.

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Photo by Maggi

Creekside bedroom

Settle in – and get out

The beautifully appointed rooms at The Ranch LB make settling in a cozy comfort. I enjoyed the samplings of coffees and tea as I read the complimentary newspaper of choice (I go for two news sources – Stu News Laguna, obviously, and The New York Times). It was so relaxing as I listened to the creek splashing and spilling over rocks, I began to feel my shoulders settling down and deep breathing ensue. But, not being the type who does anything half-heartedly, I picked myself up and walked over to the place where serious relaxation can be accomplished – the Sycamore Spa.


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Photo by Maggi

The Sycamore Spa

The balance at the spa is one part uplifting marine and beach, and one part grounded in the earth, canyon. Under the expert hands of Alex, I started with the “Canyon” option, one hour of the Calming Canyon massage, followed by a 30-minute “Treatment Elevation,” Beach Feet. Every fiber of my being melted into vacation mode. My runner’s feet were scrubbed with white sand and salt, and my toes felt like new.

Day one of my stay-cation was off to a good start, and I can say that this nit-picky traveler slept like a baby in the amazingly comfortable bed.

Day two began in the chilly morning hours, hitting the links. I’m not much of a golfer, but I know the lingo and I sure liked the scenery. It was cool and green, and looked pretty much like Scotland. I managed to visit every sand trap where I admired the pearly sand, and I sacrificed a few balls to the water gods, but I thoroughly enjoyed the views and the company I was paired with – two brothers, one who is a local and the other visiting from Arizona.

After golf, the “Pond Pool” beckoned. The saline pool and hot tub were a relief in more ways than one. I had a new bathing suit that did not get ruined, unlike that time in a crappy hotel hot tub that was overloaded with chlorine. Also, sitting in the hot tub turned out to be a happy social exchange, as another set of brothers were there (also one local, the other visiting). I was beginning to see a pattern. What a great way to visit with friends or family as they stay at The Ranch.

Home away from home

There’s no shortage of things to do at The Ranch. I love that because I did not want to leave the property the whole time. Sure, lots of folks want to get to the beach, and The Ranch will shuttle you there anytime, complete with beach chairs and towels. But living here, I get my fill of the beach. For me, the canyon is otherworldly. And on-site, there are activities every day, which The Ranch will notify you of on your phone. There’s poolside yoga, bird watching, volleyball, garden tours, and docent stargazing to name just a few, plus the Junior Rangers kids activities.

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Photo by Maggi

Hanging out on “The Porch” at The Ranch

I’d like to mention a mouthful about Harvest, the lodge restaurant. The gorgeous, large dining room seemed to be full all the time, and dining at the bar was lively and fun, too.  But the food really warrants a full story, so that will be the next article. Suffice to say that I was thrilled that my favorite fish, Branzino, is full-time on the menu. With that, and the Hamachi special, I was in seafood heaven, though the Wild Mushroom Pappardelle makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Getting away without getting too far away turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. My weekend at The Ranch LB was a perfect combination of active and restful, serene and social. No wonder people from all over the world are heading here. I feel lucky that we have this treasure easily accessible right here in our backyard.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach              31106 S Coast Hwy

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster.

Katie Ford is our Ad Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Account & Instagram Manager.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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