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Designing Life Her Way Alyssa Nicole

MTV House of Food Star Gillian Espinosa

Brad Cohen

Front of the class

Beth Grossman Sows Law of Seeds


July – Sept 2014

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in this issue… Regular Features

Cover Feature Alyssa Nicole

10 Delta Kidz Corner Full Time Mom Turns Jane of All Trades

14 Delta Laughs Doing My Jury Doody

16 Delta Wellness Sticky Web of Why

17 Words from Bubba Born for This Moment

24 Delta Reads Brad Cohen: Front of the Class

35 Delta Fashion Doris Hobbs: Working Girl Fashion

36 Delta Smilz By Jennifer Cordero

38 About Delta Living Magazine 4

July – Sept 2014

Photo by Charleen Earley

22 Delta Wisdom Their Gifts that Keep on Giving


Fashion Designer Alyssa Nicole shares her world and talent about living her dream in San Francisco.

Special Features 12

Beth Grossman Sows Law of Seeds​


Gillian Espinosa MTV Reality Star


Father’s Day Waltler Ruehlig


Surviving 50 Year High School Reunion Walter Ruehlig

delta living CONTACT US P.O. Box 395 Knightsen, CA 94548 925.383.3072 PUBLISHER Charleen Earley - GRAPHIC DESIGNER Conrad Borba - EDITOR IN CHIEF Maria Tavares - WRITERS Maria Tavares • Doris Hobbs Dr. Danielle Dowling • Dr. Eileen Norton Walter Ruehlig • Vinny ViNicola William “Bubba” Paris Beth Grossman • Charleen Earley

letter from the editor When I think of summer, I think of freedom. Freedom from school, from a routine, from having deadlines. I also think of long days, Independence Day, swimming, popsicles and the smell of sunscreen and tanning oils. And of course having a list of great books to read! But if you’re more of a magazine reader, I’m glad you found your way to leafing through our golden pages. Keep flipping and you will find words of empowerment

(pg 28), a few giggles and chuckles about the debate of attending a 50 year high school reunion (pg 30) and the “funny side” that occurs after your summons finds its way to your mailbox (pg 14). I also remember feeling as though I could do anything I wanted with my days when I didn’t have to wake up early for a class; or work in my adulthood (nowadays). Alyssa Casares’ passion for clothing design (pg 32) reminds me of that boundless feeling. I can only hope your plans

Maria Tavares for this season are filled with happiness and sunshine and a sense of endless freedom. So, what will YOU do with your summer?

PHOTOGRAPHERS Maria Tavares • Jennifer Cordero Charleen Earley • Walter Ruehlig Rick Lemyre COPY EDITORS John Hartmann • Maria Tavares Tammy Borba • Walter Ruehlig Rita Caruso • Leigh​Shughrou DISTRIBUTION Barbara Ellison-Smith Walter Ruehlig SUBSCRIPTIONS $4 each issue or $15 annual (4 issues a year) Mail check to: P.O. Box 395 Knightsen, CA 94548 Make check payable to: Delta Living Magazine Delta Living Magazine is published quarterly on recycled paper. Copyright© 2012 by Charleen Earley. Single copy price $4 in U.S.A. on 100% recycled paper. $15 for annual subscription. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Printed in the U.S.A. E-zine version available. Contact, 925.383.3072 or visit All rights reserved. No part of any issue of Delta Living Magazine, be it editorial content, photographs or advertising design, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means; electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or any other format, without the prior permission of the publisher. All facts, opinions and statements appearing within this publication are those of the writers and editors themselves and are in no way to be construed as statements, positions, views or endorsements by the publisher of Delta Living Magazine. Accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed. Due to uncertain nature of U.S. Postal Service and third party freight services, Delta Living Magazine does not guarantee delivery of said publication by any specific date.

letter from the publisher I'm one of those who Charleen Earley loves to inspire people around me with motivational stories, educational information and entertaining words. I hope this issue does that for you through Bubba's words (pg 17), Brad Cohen's interview (pg 24), Oakley's up and rising Chef Gillian Espinosa (pg 20), Vinny's article about his neighbor (pg 22), and Beth Grossman of Brisbane (pg 12). I did an article on Beth years ago for the San Francisco Chronicle. I quickly discovered she's one of those amazing women who, instead of fighting, makes serious social change by using art, talent and creativity.

You might've noticed the writing and photo deadlines have been extended! The first deadline was WAY too short - so here's your chance to get your laptop and camera out, and write and snap your way into winning Delta Living Magazine's 2014 contests! Wanted to also tell you - since we're family now - my son Andrew is heading north this fall to UC Davis to complete his Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering, while I head south to San Jose State University to begin work on my Master's Degree in Mass Communications/ Journalism. Only thing is, my son refuses to put the bumper sticker "My Mom Goes to SJSU!" on his Jeep. Whatever. July – Sept 2014


contributors… Conrad Borba - Graphic Designer Conrad Borba is a graphic and web designer, who spent much time in his youth drawing and creating, with his earliest memories of working on a computer as a kindergartner. He studied graphic and web design at Modesto Junior College and the Institute of Technology of Modesto. With over 10 years experience in graphic design and six years as a freelancer, Borba stays abreast industry standards in order to provide his clients with fresh and new ideas. Reach him at conradborba@

Dr. Danielle Dowling ~ Writer/Life Coach Dr. Danielle Dowling is a life coach and psychologist. She’s an intuitive strategist working with women who are ready to stop compromising on the things that matter most — self-realization, soulful companionship and accessing innate power. Her goal is to motivate women to live inspiring lives; to help them experience a life better lived and to help women achieve their dreams whatever they may be. Connect with Danielle at

Walter Ruehlig - Writer Walter Ruehlig graduated cum laude with a degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany and career counsels adults with disabilities. He’s the former President of the Antioch School Board, founded the Antioch Music Foundation, and is the 2012 Antioch Citizen of the Year-Lifetime Achievement award recipient. He regularly contributes to three local newspapers. Email him at

Jennifer Cordero ~ Photographer Jennifer Cordero’s photography can be found in the Delta Smilz section where she captures the smilz of local residents enjoying life in East Contra Costa County. Discovery Bay is where she feels extremely fortunate to raise her family. Whether it’s traveling to see exciting new things, cooking to taste new foods, or just plain relaxing, she’s always looking for something fun to do and photograph. E-mail her at

Maria Tavares - Editor/Photographer/Writer Maria Tavares is a writer, editor, photographer, full-time mother and wife. She is grateful to be Delta Living Magazine’s newest editor. She is also the owner of FiestaFlix Photography and a Party Host for a local girl’s boutique in Brentwood: Little Miss Everything. See her work at Read her blog, “Life Through the Lens” at FiestaFlix.

Doris Hobbs ~ Fashion Writer Inspired by an era gone by, Doris brings her classic and timeless sense of style to the pages of Delta Living Magazine. “The Working Girl feature is for the average woman seeking to refine her appearance with a vintage flair,” says the Bay Area fashion blogger and writer. In addition to Delta Living Magazine, she writes for both Simon Malls as a featured Style Setter and her personal blog at

Dr. Eileen Norton ~ Writer Dr. Eileen Norton (PSY19240) is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Brentwood, CA. She is one of only 7,000 people around the world trained in a truly innovative technique that allows for the most efficient resolution of issues—beyond anything else encountered. Her interest in Spiritual Psychology spans 24 years and includes healing for body, mind, heart and soul. Reach her at or 925.354.7526.

Beth Grossman - Writer Beth Grossman is artist and creator of the Law of Seeds. She uses art and participatory performance to raise awareness and encourage public involvement in environmental issues and interpretation of history. Based in Brisbane, California, she has collaborated internationally with individuals, communities, corporations, non-profits and museums. Contact her at (415) 467-1836, or www.

Delta Living Magazine Vision Delta Living Magazine is an artery of hyper local and regional features, which shares information to promote improved lives to our families. It specifically focuses on inspiring, motivating, educating and entertaining our community to reach a bit higher in creating their ideal lives. 6

July – Sept 2014


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Full-Time Mom Turned Jane of All Trades Photo and story by Maria Tavares


eople ask me all the time where I find the time to juggle all of my jobs and activities. I think I'm honestly still looking for it. I'm a full-time stay at home mom to a very inquisitive, bright and sassy two and a half year old; I work Thursday to Monday at Little Miss Everything in Brentwood as a Sales Associate, Party Host and Creative Director, in charge of the social media fun; I'm a natural-light photographer, and writer, photographer and Editorin-Chief of Delta Living Magazine. I'm also a wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc. And the newest member to the Blogilates community (if you haven't fallen in love with this workout family, you're missing out!). Working at the boutique has been a blessing since I am able to take my crazy toddler with me to my shifts. Sometimes she plays with the owner's daughters or with all of the many fun things the store has to offer, although I think she’d much rather answer phone calls and greet every customer. I'm sure she'll be a great saleswoman one day. Being a photographer allows me to manage my own schedule and I can decide who or what I work with. Since I mostly shoot in the naturally lit outdoors, I have no excuse for not taking my daughter with me to get a bit of fresh air after we've been cooped up in the winter. When meeting new clients, I always make sure 10

July – Sept 2014

to ask if they mind me bringing her. So far, not one client has minded. I met Charleen, owner and publisher of Delta Living Magazine, at last year’s Rocktober Fest in Discovery Bay. I always say “It doesn't hurt to ask,” and ask I did. My primary focus was to sew my photography oats where I could, so freelance photographer was on the table. But I was dying to exercise my passion and dream of editing, so I asked about helping with that too. Bam! Editor of Delta Living Magazine was added to my already long title. I tested the waters for one issue and then jumped in and added writer to my title too. I know Charleen understands the juggling act, because she has more job titles than I do! Where do I find the time? Nap time is definitely a huge factor. I'm as happy as a clam if I can get one to two hours to myself to do any extra work. I can write, edit photos, put ads together, eat a meal, shower, get a work out in, etc. Otherwise, it's “our time.” Wherever I go, the tiny tot has to go.Whatever I have to do, she has to do it also. Anyone who knows her, knows we are lucky parents. She has always been amazing at going with the flow. How do I get anything done when she's awake, you ask? I remind myself that I want to win the war, not the battle. I try not to focus on the little things that would usually bug me, like a messy room! As Elsa, Queen of Arendale says, “Let it go.” (Anyone else out there going nuts because this movie is on repeat in your home? If so, I feel your pain.)

When there is a day where I need to edit a ton of photos or edit articles, that means I'm sitting at my desktop for an unclocked amount of time, which means my child is supposed to stay close by for an unclocked amount of time.That can definitely be a challenge for a wiggle worm at any age. We plan a fun activity for when I'm done, I mentally set a time limit for myself, and then I try to work as best as I can while she asks a million questions, sings the lyrics to “Frozen” at the top of her lungs, makes a mess of my room with all of her toys and books, asks for snacks every five minutes, and climbs all over me and the chair I'm in. All the interuptions have actually helped me focus better on my tasks at hand. A few techniques that work for both of us when I'm clicking away at the keyboard in my home space include: setting up a “workspace” or “picnic” on a blanket for her to play or pretendwork on. She has her own mini-laptop that she mimics me with. I lay out coloring books, crayons and reading books. When those won't do, she grabs her own toys, we pick out a snack for her picnic, or there might be an occasional pillow and stuffed animal snuggled with her for movie-watching. Most-importantly, I have learned to save evenings for family time. When my husband is home from work, we have a meal together and bond with our daughter.We recap our busy day, play and laugh and unwind as a family, which helps us get ready to conquer the next day.

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Beth Grossman scribing at an artist's residency at the Queen's Botanical Garden in New York, 2013. Photo by Nicholas Biondo

Brisbane, California Adopts A Bill Of Rights For Seeds and Debuts Art Exhibit: The Law Of Seeds By Beth Grossman


ctivist artist Beth Grossman is calling attention to the genetically engineered seeds that are having a huge impact on food sources worldwide. Brisbane, California has decided to act locally and think globally by adopting a BILL OF SEED RIGHTS Proclamation and commemorating it with an art exhibit. Grossman is using this art project to call attention to the necessity of national and international “seed law” to protect plant biodiversity and the rights of individuals to save seed, keeping them in the public domain. She 12

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has compiled a Bill of Rights for Seeds and is sharing it as a visual art exhibit that debuted at Brisbane City Hall and will tour around the United States. She enlisted Brisbane city government to become the first U.S. city to adopt her Bill of Rights for Seeds. This Proclamation was presented by Mayor Clarke Conway at a public reception at Brisbane City Hall. Grossman was inspired by the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador, each of which includes Articles on the Rights of Nature. She compiled a Bill of Rights specifically for seeds and then scribed them with a quill pen on 10 vintage seed bags that are also painted with images of

the stages of germinating corn from seed to mature plant. The Law of Seeds is a traveling art exhibit that will be featured at botanical gardens, city halls, libraries and natural history museums. Artist Beth Grossman invites the public to appreciate the wonders of seeds and engage in a discussion on the importance of protecting this precious source of our food chain. As the exhibit tours, Grossman wishes to encourage each city to develop, adopt and enforce seed law. In conjunction with this exhibit, some cities will host “Seed Exchange” events where the public can learn about the importance of open pollinating seed for

Text of the Bill of Rights: We the Peoples of this Earth, Gratefully Honor the Ancient Knowledge of Seeds that Nourish and Sustain All Living Beings. 1. Seed is the source of life. It is the yearning of life to express itself, to renew, multiply and evolve. We recognize the right of seeds to maintain their vital cycles. 2. We respect the right of seeds to retain their unique identity as distinct, self-regulating organisms. 3. Seeds shall enjoy the right to clean water, the essential element for all life. 4. All seeds shall be guaranteed the right of clean air to germinate, prosper and regenerate. 5. The right of seeds to grow on land free from contamination, pollution, toxic or radioactive waste shall not be infringed. 6. Seeds deserve full and prompt restoration from any violation of these rights caused by human activities.

The Law of Seeds Preamble scribed on a vintage seed bag with a handmade quill pen, 15" x 30" in 2012. Photo by Beth Grossman

going regeneration. The Law of Seeds is about our accountability to future generations and ensuring that nature’s seed cycle will carry on. Please contact Beth through her website www.bethgrossman. com if you would like to bring this project to your community. Based in Brisbane near San Francisco, Beth Grossman has collaborated internationally with individuals, communities, corporations, nonprofits and museums. She uses art as a creative force to stimulate conversation and focus attention on the environment, history and civic engagement – all aimed at raising awareness, building community and encouraging public participation.

7. No entity shall deprive seeds of the freedom to bear fruit according to their nature. Genetic engineering threatens their vital drive to regenerate. 8. Any law that makes seed the property of corporations will not be recognized. No patents shall be granted on natural organisms. 9. Open source seed and the sharing of seed by creating community seed banks and seed libraries shall remain a global right. 10. Humans shall work in harmony with nature to create renewing systems for food, energy, climate balance and financial security.

Beth Grossman scribing in her studio in Brisbane, CA, 2012. Photo by Greg Harris

July – Sept 2014


Funny side up DELTA LAUGHS

Doing My Jury Doody By Charleen Earley


or many people, serving jury duty is about exciting as cleaning the cat box. And since my luck finally ran out, I was summoned last winter to do my civic duty thing – something we Americans are supposed to be honored to do-do. Yah and summoned too; not called, emailed, texted, twittered or friend-requested on Facebook, although I swear (on the Bible, right hand raised), they’ll be doing it that way next year. I have to admit, up till now I’ve been very stealth-like. Out of my 46 years of adulthood, sans the first 18 of them, I’ve only had to actually serve once, when I lived in Oakland. And again, to be honest, it was a pretty cool experience, and here’s why. The judge ended up giving a jury member (sitting next to me) a ride to the pharmacy, because the juror was experiencing a mild heart attack while putting his head between his knees, (not because I was sitting next to him), but because he said his wife forgot to pick up his heart pills. Now that was exciting. But now that I’m a wee bit older, emphasis on “wee,” the thrill and excitement of it all has since lost its luster and has been cynically replaced with the “I-get-paid-WHATper day?” and the “how-long-is-this-gonnatake-anyways?” Two to three days, the court gal assured all 45 of us, much longer if it’s superior court. At least back when I was ungainfully employed, the $5 per diem payment looked like gold. Did you know there’s a box you can check on a form after you serve, where you can forfeit your whopping $15 per day (can we say exponential inflation here) reimbursement in the name of Our State is Hurting in this Economy Too? May I record this as a donation on next year’s tax returns? I arrived at the courthouse 20 minutes 14

July – Sept 2014

early. It was cold and cloudy. Doors were locked too, and I saw a line forming. I opted to keep warm in my vehicle, because I just couldn’t see myself itching to be first in line to walk through the airport-like security screening just inside. An officer yelled out every two minutes to those who braved the weather, “No weapons or illegal drugs, you know what I’m talking about!” His words were delivered with such conviction; I decided to leave my fingernail clippers and metal box of Altoids in the car for good measure. Once inside and short of taking my shoes off, we had to place our belongings in grey rubber containers and walk through the metal detector door jamb. An officer held up a journal-type book and asked the shady-looking kid in front of me if it was a zap book? What the heck is that, and what rock have I been living under? It must not have been good, since he was sent back to his car to leave it there. They should’ve yelled that out too in the beginning, to save him a trip. “No weapons,

illegal drugs or naughty writing journals.” You know what else is new? They show this video about the Greatest State in the Union, complete with testimonials from your average citizens (actors?) touting how wonderful it was to serve jury duty, what a “deep and moving experience” it was, and how much they learned from the “best system in America.” It played that epic-type music at the end – I could feel tears coming down my cheeks. No one else was crying, so I feigned allergies. These former jurors also spoke about how they forged new friendships with each other and how they stayed in contact afterwards. Really? “Hey, this is my friend Susan, we met at Steve’s grand theft auto trial 10 years ago. He got out and did it again.” So are we spinning our civic wheels here or just upgrading hub caps? Just sayin’. We hung around all day with an hour and a half lunch time (how cool was that?). At the end of the day (with all my e-mails answered from my Android, a book read on my Kindle Fire and nails chewed to the core, since I left my clippers in the car), we were given some “good news–bad news” from our judge. She said, “Good news is, the lawyers worked it out; bad news, you don’t have to serve, and you’ve basically done your duty for 12 months!” Even though that sounded like good news and better news, I was thrilled to hear her version of the “bad news,” since it meant my doody was done for a solid 364 days. Truth be told, I was little bummed I barely had time to make new Facebook buds, but I did have enough time to go home and start a zap book journal and clean the cat box. Charleen Earley is a comedienne, freelance writer, humor columnist, high school substitute and journalism teacher, and Publisher of Delta Living Magazine. Reach her at


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July – Sept 2014



The Sticky Web of Why “why” questions suddenly get answered. Meanwhile, before I got clear on this, I’d spend all kinds of time and energy trying to figure out the “why” and get absolutely nowhere. Just imagine me chasing my tail hour after tortured hour, when all that was really required was to focus on the “how,” so I could end up doing what I need to do. That’s not to say that the “why” questions don’t still pop into my mind. When they do, I just remind myself that they will be answered and get myself back to searching for the answer to “how.” So let’s take a moment to look at how the “How” questions can be of assistance. First up is the “How can I feel better?” question. This kind of focus puts a part of my brain to work on coming up with answers. Which I think is what the “why” question is attempting to do. “How do I work with changing my thoughts or beliefs so my behaviors and emotions also change?” “How do I love myself while I go through this?” “How do I make something positive or meaningful out of this circumstance or event, since it is happening to me – whether I deserve it or not?” Now this is a line of questioning worth pursuing. “But hey, why didn’t I figure this out sooner?”

By Dr. Eileen Norton


e all do it. Look at some situation in our lives or something we’ve said or done and ask ourselves the totally useless questions. “Why am I like this?” “Why do I do what I do?” “Why me?” As human as that line of questioning is, it is almost always a dead end. No matter how you ask the “why” it goes nowhere when it comes to assisting me and you with getting out of whatever we have managed to get ourselves into. I often suggest to people that instead of asking a ‘why question’ that they move into something that starts with the word ‘how.’ “How can I feel better?” “How can I make the changes I want to make to get to where I want to go?” “How can I figure out where I want to go?” “Since this is happening to me, how can I use this experience to move myself forward in some way?” It seems to me that asking “why” might be the brain’s way of distracting us.You know, get us all tangled up in that old “why” and I don’t have to be or say or do anything differently. It’s silly how our own noodles can conspire to keep us in the same old status quo. And if you think about it, even if you have the answer to “why” things are the way they are, what good does that do? If I do get an answer to “why” then I know how I came to be stuck in this place I don’t want to be. Big deal. The answer still does not do one thing to change what I am experiencing. It does absolutely nothing to shift me away from it in any way. So the answer, even if I get it—is simply useless. In my mind, it’s way more efficient to figure out the answers to the “how” questions. And yes, friends, I am all about efficiency 16

July – Sept 2014

when it comes to getting out of pain! Once I have the “how” questions and look for their answers, I will know what to do to shift my experience. When I focus on the “how” and begin to address what it is that I need to work on in order to change what I am thinking, feeling, doing, or experiencing— I move into some ways of being that are a whole lot more comfortable. In some cases, it can be a type of comfort that’s way better than I ever even knew existed.

Then when I am feeling better, living the kind of life I want to live—I suddenly get really clear on the “why” of things. It is totally twisted. And it has been an almost universal phenomenon with me for myself, and the hundreds of people I’ve worked with over the years. So after I use the “how” the “why” shows up, it is a sure thing that it is going to happen in that order. I have come to think of it as the verification that I am truly making changes that make a difference when my

Dr. Eileen Norton is a Clinical Psychologist (PSY19240) with a private practice in Brentwood working with adolescents and adults. She specializes in teaching people the skills and tools to create the life they truly want. Her work with anxiety, depression, relationship issues and life transitions utilizes her Clinical and Spiritual Psychology background. An aspiring gluten-free baker and zumba fanatic, Eileen spends as much time as she can outdoors and traipsing through foreign lands.

Words from Bubba … A Peek Into My Book: Born For This Moment By William “Bubba” Paris


very creation and innovation exists because someone conceived and manifested them.There are over 32 million cataloged books, more than six million works of sheet music, and more than 14.7 million photographic prints and images displayed in the Library of Congress. Each one of these unique expressions exists because someone had the pure potential to create them. Everything we study in school, every specialty exists because someone saw the subject naturally, and when they wrote down their natural thoughts, they became the textbook to understand that discipline. So our modern world, in its present form, exists because people, who were once four months old, gave the world their own

unique creative expression, from their pure potential. We enjoy a world with a multitude of choices, because there have been a multitude of creative expressions in the minds of toddlers. If every baby was meant to be the same, there would only be one book in the Library of Congress, instead of 32 million. If all children were meant to be small, there would only be gymnastics and horseracing and not pro football and sumo wrestling. If every child was only good in math, then who would write the great novels? If every baby could only sing, then who would grace our movie screens? We desire a world with uniqueness and diversity, but we expect all of our babies to look and act the same.What an irony! The day a child is born, he possesses the pure

potential to manifest his purpose. Even if we can’t identify what his purpose is, he is the natural embodiment of his gifting. The parent must protect, nurture and embrace the gift to the world that is embodied within their child. If you believe that a gift is embodied in your child, then this embodiment must exist in all children. This epiphany should facilitate a paradigm shift when raising your children; teach them to appreciate the differences in others. Help them to understand that if everyone was just like them, the world would not have as many options nor would it be as enjoyable. Tell them that over time, a caterpillar will become a beautiful butterfly. We, as adults, have to make sure that we embrace and appreciate the uniqueness of all children, understanding that their uniqueness is what gives the world its different creative options.

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July – Sept 2014


3/21/2014 1:57:54 PM

Father’s Day – Sow Good Seeds for the Next Generation Inarguably, parents, by mere example, are the first and most enduring very day that my wife goes to teachers. My dad, as legions work underscores the importance of the upcoming celebration of Father’s before, brought alpha Day. Cynthia works for Children and constancy. You didn’t Family Services as a Due Diligence Clerk. need today’s volumiShe tries to track down and contact ab- nous research to prove that even the simple act sent parents. The majority are male. This attempted contact is mandated of sharing a family meal by the Welfare and Institution Code of on a daily basis counCalifornia to proceed in resolving child tered some of life’s unwelfare cases. In her best-effort search, predictability. Dad was a font of everyday practical my wife investigates death records, DMV, prison and other databases from all over wisdom. The lessons went beyond learning how to use a saw or change a tire. My the country. I, for one, count my blessings. I had father was an immigrant who jumped a a dad active in my formative years. Sure, government ship in fleeing rising Nazi I grew up in the 50s, hardly the height Germany. He came to the States with of touchy-feely. Back then, dad meant little more than the shirt on his back, but breadwinner, not nurturer. He came navigated us through a Yorkville (Gerhome expecting to comfort his tired feet, mantown), Manhattan hi-rise tenement, not childhood egos. Dads opted for slip- to an Astoria Queens garden apartment, pers,Walter Cronkite and a cold beer; not to a home in Great Neck, Long Island. It homework help, adolescent counseling or was the American Dream played out before my eyes. Scout mentoring. As a chef at a large New York City The birds and the bees? That topic buzzed outside the realm of home sweet company, dad rose at 4 a.m. every day to take a bus and subway to his job. No home. We’ve surely, then, made societal prog- guessing for me what hard work looked ress on the sensitivity front. That said, just like. My father was a Freemason. He didn’t having the presence of a male figure in the home spelled foundational bedrock. moralize, but also didn’t muddle right from wrong. Character, honesty and values defined him. As a child of the Great Depression, thrift and sacrifice were in his DNA. Dad was a devoted husband. Without pontificating on the subject, again, through osmosis, I was imbued with priorities in life. God, family and country mattered most. Horst and Marie parents Walter's Ruehlig. Photo courtes y of Walter Life was never Ruehlig with kids (L-R) Walter, Eric and Richard.

By Walter Ruehlig



July – Sept 2014

a bowl of cherries for Horst Ruehlig. He was an orphan, who later lost his sisters to the Dresden bombings; his wife to early-on cancer; and my brother to a nervous breakdown. Yet my dad showed me how to grin and bear it. He never complained about his lot in life. Instead, he carried himself through life’s travails with grit, stoicism, wit and good cheer. Sadly, the institution of fathering now suffers. So many falsely confuse manhood with sperm. Having babies seems the vogue; not raising them. In fact, some 40% of American kids, 70% in some communities, now grow up in a dadless home. Lord knows, parenting is tough enough with two adults, working fulltime at it. Consider the sad statistics. Fatherless homes essentially triple the chances of a child dropping out of school, ending up in prison, being chronically unemployed, or falling into a life of drugs. The stakes are obviously high. Men, your community cries out for you. Your kid cries out for you. There are no parenting redoes, no second chances. Not for you. Crueler yet, not for your kid.

Haley Finetti Winners of East County Idol Competition on April 11, 2014 at 7 p.m., held at El Campanil Theatre in Antioch, CA, were congratulated by Antioch Music Foundation President Walter Ruehlig. Seen L-R are third place winner, Veronica Young, a graduating senior at Connections Academy; first place winner Hayley Finetti, a freshman at Liberty High; and second place winner, Nicholas Crossen, a junior at De La Salle Academy. Winners took $400, $200 and $100 prizes for being the best vocalists of 13 competing high schools in Contra Costa County. Previous East County Idols have gone on to professional musical careers, the top 50 of the American Idol and into some of the most prestigious musical schools in the nation. Photos courtesy of Luns Louie

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Cooking Up a Recipe of Reality Competition: MTV-Style By Charleen Earley


Photos courtesy of MTV 20

July – Sept 2014

hocked and excited were two of the many emotions Oakley resident Gillian Espinosa felt when she discovered she made the cut to join seven other twenty-somethings in Los Angeles for MTV’s “House of Food” reality show, inaugural season. Hotel and Restaurant Management major at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Gillian put her education on hold to film the 12-episode show, and glean top culinary know-how from highlyregarded culinary masters Casey Lane, Brendan Collins and Brooke Williamson. “I loved being on the show and learning from incredible chefs. I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for this opportunity,” says Gillian, 21, a Freedom High School graduate. “It’s hard to pick a favorite chef that we learned from, but I’d have to say my favorite was Brooke.” MTV’s first culinary show, “House of Food,” premiered on Monday, March 31, pitting a group of eight aspiring chefs in one house for three months with cooking competitions. Winner moves to L.A. with an apprenticeship. Chosen for their passion in cooking and food culture, Gillian says her love for the kitchen started early. “I learned to cook when I was little from my mother and grandmother,” says Gillian, who plans to one day open a pastry shop serving pastries, gourmet sandwiches, coffee and tea. “The career choice started in high school. When I was in high school, I’d cook dinner every night. My family and friends started getting irritated, because I was cooking for them almost 24/7!”

Chef Brooke Williamson

Putting life on hold while living and competing with strangers had its ups and downs, but support from back home through phone calls kept her grounded. “I had an amazing team of family and friends who were all supportive of me while I was on the show,” she says. Romance and hot drama was always on the menu at the House of Food. “You have eight people living in a house together, things happen and sexual desire is gonna be there!” she says. Yet you can’t always judge a cooking book by its cover. “The viewers don’t always see the full story. People are quick to judge, but there’s more to us than what you see on the show. We are all nice and good people, sometimes you don’t see all that, but it’s there.You only see 15 minutes of a challenge – but in reality, it was a grueling, all-day thing. It’s basically three to four months packed into a 12-episode show.”

With cameras recording their every move, the paid reality stars-in-the-making had very little down time. “We got to go out a couple of times to relieve stress, but for the most part, we were too busy to do that,” says Gillian. “From the moment you wake up, to the time you go to bed, the cameras are on you. After the first two days, you don’t even notice they’re even there; you have to live life like you normally would.” On Monday, June 16, 2014, Gillian placed runner up with Will Andersen, 24, of Boston, MA. Harrison Bader, 22, of Suffern, NY, took first place, but Gillian has no regrets. “This experience meant the world to me. I don’t even care that I didn't get ‘first place.’ I got the experience and to me, that was worth it,” she says. “I’m moving to L.A. in January to pursue my career, so I’m as happy as can be with my life.” Watch all 12 “House of Food” episodes at

“I loved being on the show and learning from incredible chefs. I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for this opportunity.” Photos by Charleen Earley

July – Sept 2014



Their Gifts that Keep on Giving By Vinny DiNicola


cherished my dad when he was alive; the time we spent together and the many special moments we shared. Like so many dads, he taught me so much. All of those things he said and taught still resonate in my mind every day of my life. My wife Angela and I live in Discovery Bay, CA. We have wonderful next door neighbors on both sides of our house. In both cases, they’re retired couples in their 70s. One of the gentlemen, Dwight, who lives on the left if you face our house, does something I can never quite get completely out of my mind. Every week when the garbage cans are emptied in front of our house, Dwight grabs our garbage cans along with his and returns them to our side of the house where we store them. We never have to worry - he does this every


July – Sept 2014

week as long as he’s home. This gesture is something he decided to do on his own to be helpful. I frequently reflect on this act of kindness and friendship, because each week that goes by is a constant reminder. This has been going on for about nine years. This is a gesture that keeps on giving. It’s not a one-time thing, or something easily replicated in-kind. Oh, sure, if I’m home and the cans are empty and sitting out front and I’m the first one to notice, I’ll return his cans, as well as mine. But, it’s not the same thing. I’m doing it out of gratitude and reciprocation, and that’s fine. Dwight does it because he wants to help.

I believe life experience and challenges have prepared elder seniors in a special way to teach us so much. Dwight’s gesture, as subtle as it is, has taught me a lot. As with my dad, Dwight’s influence is a gift that continues to teach and challenge me. Think about the wonderful things seniors have taught you and try to imagine where you would be without their influence in your life.

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July – Sept 2014



Brad Cohen – A Synonym for Overcoming Obstacles with Tourette Syndrome By Charleen Earley

What do you love about teaching? The thing I like most about teaching is that we are clearly making a difference in the lives of kids every single day!

Photos courtesy of Brad Cohen


met Brad Cohen “personally” while watching a film in April on the Hallmark channel. I figured the movie was school-related with its title “Front of the Class,” so I DVR’d it to watch later. As a teacher, I love watching films about school-related subjects. I finally got around to watching it, and was simply moved. Cried even. Wished I had watched it sooner – like when it first came out in 2008. I learned Brad Cohen is an American motivational speaker, teacher, school administrator, and author who has severe Tourette syndrome (TS). In the film, his character, excellently played by actor Jimmy Wolk, walks us through his struggles and challenges of growing up with TS and discovering, chasing and accomplishing his dream in life – to become a teacher. If you have time, put this magazine down, find the movie (rent, borrow or buy), watch it, then pick up the magazine and read the interview below! My hope is that this young man will inspire you, educate you and motivate you in your own personal journey called life. Covering the basics here: How old are you; where do you live; family? I’m 40! I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my wife Nancy and two kids, ages two and four. What is your mantra in life? How do you live life by? By making a difference one day at a time! I live life keeping that positive attitude and being the best I can be. Becoming a teacher has allowed me to slowly make a difference in the life of our future. What's your relationship like with both your parents today? All is great! Life is good! What is your current title today? Vice Principal? I’m an assistant principal. 24

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Tell me some basics about TS, in layman’s terms. Also, is it hereditary like autism and is it associated with autism? No association with autism. It is hereditary though. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes people to make involuntary tics that they cannot control.Tics can be vocal or motor. I explain it to my students that there is something in my brain that causes me to make noises and funny faces, just like there is something in their brains that causes them to blink their eyes.

What do you want people to know about living with challenges in life? We want to be treated like you would treat anyone else – with respect. We have dreams and aspirations like others, but our path to finding success is going to look different than the average person – but we can and will get there! How many motivational talks do you give a year? How can someone book you for their school? I give about 8 to 10 a year. I normally speak at large conferences or for school districts at the beginning of the school year to help inspire them with my story. I don’t visit schools as I don't have the time, because I’m still in the schools. We have the same hours. If you could change anything about yourself, TS-included, what would it be and why? I wouldn't change a thing. I believe I am the person I am today because of what I went through growing up. I can't change the past, but I can make a difference for the future. That empowers and motivates me the most. Why is tolerance, or accepting others for who they are, important in our schools and homes? Nobody is perfect and everyone has issues in life. People with Tourette syndrome

DELTA READS or other medical issues must get through life differently. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me and I don’t want others to pity me. But I do want them to show some tolerance for people who are not the same as they are. We teach these lessons to children, but then for some reason, things change. Is your movie based on your book? If so, how did that transpire? Yes....90% is true.The timeline of events is off a little bit; otherwise many parts are word for word. I wrote my book, then I was honored to be on the Oprah Winfrey show and from there, Hallmark Hall of Fame learned

about my story and wanted to do a madefor-TV movie about me. I took a risk and the rest is history. I was very happy with the results. When did you write your book? What inspired you to do so? How long did it take? Back in college I knew I needed to write a book. It was my goal to make sure others didn’t have to go through what I had to go through. I wanted others with TS to have it easier than I did. So I started writing. It took me four years to write the book. It was published September, 2005.

How can readers purchase your book? They can get it everywhere! Advice to parent readers (even student readers) who have TS? Keep that positive attitude. Be yourself. Never give up. Follow your strengths in life and make sure others see those strengths. Find your passion in life. Be an advocate for yourself and for your child. Education is a powerful tool – use it to educate others. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed that your child has TS; if your kid sees that, they will follow suit. What are your hobbies and interests outside of work and speaking engagements? Hanging out with the family and kids, playing softball, watching all sports; especially baseball! Do you feel you were born an optimistic person? Or something you learned along the way? The people closest to me have always modeled a positive attitude. I think seeing that, along with my own experiences in life, has helped me become the person I am today. Any great TS resources for parents/ teachers reading this? The Brad Cohen Tourettes Foundation had a conference in Atlanta. It was a great success. I hope to continue making a difference in the TS communities across the U.S. for many years to come. Any new projects in the mix? Right now, I want to be Super Daddy!

July – Sept 2014


Photo courtesy of the John Marsh Historic Trust. This collapsed section of the Stone House’s north wall will be repaired and the remaining stone walls in the 158-year-old mansion will be stabilized to prevent further collapse in a major project set to start July 14.

Stone House project set to start Contributed by the John Marsh Historic Trust


fter 20 years of planning, fundraising and navigating a bureaucratic maze that would have been daunting even to intrepid pioneer John Marsh, work is set to begin to stabilize the great Stone House Marsh completed in 1856. History fans, especially the John Marsh Historic Trust and its 3,000 contributors, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Almost. This month, construction will begin on permanent repairs to shore up the crumbling walls of the first stone manor built in California. The $755,000 project is being paid for by more than $350,000 in donations to the Trust, a grant 26

July – Sept 2014

from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, and a construction set-aside from California State Parks. But numerous delays getting the project started have resulted in a $49,500 increase in costs, a budget gap that must be filled to complete the project. “We’re thankful that the work is starting, but with the relief comes more pressure than ever to raise the additional money,” said Trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre. Marsh was a Harvard graduate who blazed his way across the continent, establishing many firsts along the way. He opened the first school in the Northwest Territory and wrote the first dictionary for the Sioux language. He was appointed an Indian sub-agent by President John Adams, forging treaties with, and between, Na-

tive American tribes. He also practiced medicine, though the death of his mentor prevented him from finishing his medical degree program. In 1836 Marsh became the first doctor in California. After purchasing a former Mexican land grant near modern-day Brentwood, he became the first American settler in what would become Contra Costa County. Forging a great cattle rancho out of the bandit-infested wilderness, Marsh lived peacefully with local Bay Miwok Indians, who helped plant the first wheat, grapes and fruit trees and made Marsh the region’s first farmer. His glowing letters of life in California, published in Eastern newspapers, inspired the first California-bound wagon train in 1841, when the Bidwell-Bartleson party set out for Marsh’s home and established the historic Overland Trail.

Sharp business practices and a gruff personality led to his branding by John Bidwell as “the meanest man in California.” But his work as a doctor, his bold demeanor and a talent for making money made him one of early California’s wealthiest and most influential men – before he was murdered by disgruntled employees in 1856. “Marsh played an important role in California statehood, but he was a figure of national importance as well,” Lemyre said. “We’re anxious to tell his story, and that of the Mexicans and Native Americans who lived and worked with him on his rancho.” The Stone House is part of new, 3,700-acre Marsh Creek State Park, which is not yet open. Plans for the park include 70 miles of trails, campsites, equestrian facilities and exhibits of 7,000-year-old

Photo by Rick Lemyre. Architects, engineers and members of the John Marsh Historic Trust discus the upcoming work at a pre-construction meeting held at the Stone House June 18.

archeological finds near the house. The Trust is working with State Parks to find partners and money to open other sections of the park, but first must finalize the fundraising for the current project. “We’re hoping that the people and businesses who provided support in the past will donate again to help us bring the project home,” Lemyre said. Locals will get a rare opportunity to see the Stone House up close and learn about the rest of the park on Oct. 11, during a free Stone House Heritage Day at Marsh Creek State Park. Tax-deductible donations may be made by credit card or PayPal through the Trust website, www., or by mailing a check to the John Marsh Historic Trust, P.O. Box 1682, Brentwood, CA 94513.

For more information about the John Marsh House and how you can be a part, visit Donations may be made through PayPal, or by check to P.O. Box 1682, Brentwood, CA 94513.

Photo by Rick Lemyre. JMHT President Gene Metz, right, and Board Member Ken Young, center, discuss funding with an official of State Parks’ Diablo Vista District, which is overseeing construction that starts July 14.

July – Sept 2014


The Unkind Things You Tell Yourself and How To Stop

By Dr. Danielle Dowling


e’ve all got ‘em: An on-going list of things we tell ourselves, stories we’ve made up about the type of people we are and how we navigate life. We replay these stories, ad infinitum, in our minds. Sometimes, we tell ourselves loving, nurturing things: I’m great at handling stressful situations. I have good taste in human beings and I choose wonderful friends and partners.Things usually work out for me! And sometimes, often times, we tell ourselves unkind things: I’m always broke and I can never stick to a budget. Did he call? DID HE CALL? Let me check my phone again. They never call me back! I’m not loveable. Sound familiar? Yup, we all do it. In psychologist-speak we call these circular, repeating thoughts ‘scripts.’ They’re a mental brew we create (either intentionally or unintentionally) that can be powerful enough to direct our emotions and actions. We (often inadvertently) create these scripts ourselves and the more we use them and listen to them, the stronger they become. 28

July – Sept 2014

So if you’re repeatedly thinking self-abusive, hopeless things, you’re reinforcing that message. You’re literally convincing yourself that you’re not deserving, not worthy and not good enough. And if you repeatedly tell yourself you’re not loveable, you’ll start to believe it. You’ll retreat and prevent yourself from being open or accepting love and intimacy, making your negative script a self-fulfilling prophecy. But lucky for us – it’s totally, 100% possible to stop that internal litany. Scripts are like messages recorded on a cassette tape and the way to destroy damaging scripts is to cut the tape, so to speak. How do we cut that imaginary tape? Visualize the script as a cassette tape and imagine scissors cutting through that thin, black ribbon.This creates a “breaking the habit” act. By cutting the tape, we’re sending our mind the message that we’re detaching from the script. When you observe the negative script beginning to play out, simply pause and state “cancel-cancel,” effectively breaking the thought pattern. Then consciously pull up a thought, person or experience you feel grateful for. Ask yourself “What’s working in my

life right now?” To simplify: Step 1: Acknowledge that a negative script has begun to play out Step 2: Say “cancel-cancel” or imagine “cutting the tape” Step 3: Direct your brain in a more empowering, positive direction by answering the question: “What’s working for me right now?” You deserve better than a mental lists of unkind, untrue things on repeat. Clear your mind, cut the tape and lean into a sweeter, freer mind and life. Dr. Danielle Dowling is a Los Angeles based life coach and business coach. She offers a sharp combination of keen insight, knowhow, plus intuition. Interested in laser focused, one-on-one treatment? Hire her by contacting her at

Delta Living Magazine 2014 Photo Contest RULES ... • Original/non-published work • 1 photo per person • Entrant can be any age • Color-only, 300dpi, at least 1MB size • Any subject / Appropriate for all ages • Ex: Artsy, creative, emotional, educational, etc. EXTENDED DEADLINE: September 1, 2014 WINNERS ... 10 winners, top 5 published on Delta Smilz page in October issue, with photo credit and caption. All 10 winners published on JUDGES ... Richard Wisdom, Photographer for The Press, Ken Perkes, Owner of Perkes Photography, Jennifer Fink, Owner of Generations Photography, Steve Nosanchuk/Owner/Photographer of Steve's Freelance Photography.

Submit your photos to:

Delta Living Magazine 2014 Writing Contest The Rules ... • Original/non-published work • Entrant can be any age • 800 words or less (over 800 words disqualifies) • Error-free • Appropriate subject for all ages • No poetry (sorry) • Examples: fiction, non-fiction, humor, human interest, sports, etc.

EXTENDED Deadline: September 1, 2014 The Winners ... First place: Story published with byline, headshot and brief bio in October 2014 Delta Living Magazine. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and honorable mention - names listed in print issue of July 2014 issue. Stories with byline, photo and brief bio posted on

The Judges ... Rick Lemyre, Co-Founder of The Brentwood Press, Ruth Roberts/Managing Editor at The Press, Amanda Dove, Managing Editor of Delta Sun Times, Sarah Villec, Advertising Director for the Dixon Tribune and General Manager for the River News Herald/ Rio Vista.


July – Sept 2014


7 Ways to Survive

your 50 Year High School Reunion By Walter Ruehlig

Right: Walter Ruehlig, 1964, Community College, Corning, NY


emories came in spades for us baby boomers this past year. First, the trumpeted 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination revived enough conspiracy theories to keep the National Enquirer circulating another half century. Then the 50th anniversary of the Beatles celebrated the Ed Sullivan Show igniting the second British Invasion. Yet no dose of nostalgia prepared me for the invite to my 50th high school reunion at Great Neck South High on Long Island. Jumpin’ Jack Flash, how, seemingly overnight I matriculated from a child of the 60s to a grandfather in his 60’s!; trading pimples for wrinkles; from growing hair to growing forehead; from rolling joints to aching joints; from desperately wanting to look like Marlon Brando to emphatically wanting NOT to look like Marlon Brando. Suddenly, I was thrown into a cascade of swirling emotions, wrestling with my own self-doubting Hamlet. To go or not to go? Were my high school days the best of times, or the worst of times? If I wanted you in my life, wouldn’t you already be there? Need I, late bloomer, prove something? Must I feign interest in grandchildren’s soccer exploits of someone I never had anything to do with in the first place? Who’d believe an innocent reunion could take on shades of a morality play, unleashing titanic emotions and life’s perennial questions? After all the tumult, though, I’ve rejected the head ‘stuff.’ Curiosity and the desire to live the moment trump and my only residual dilemma is over the energy, time and money of a 3,000 mile trek; save that, I’m a-go. After all, the high school registrar, if alive and now a centenarian, won’t find my transcript deficient and revoke my diploma. I won’t break out in acne the day of the reunion. The hall monitor won’t find that secret compartment in my old locker, now holding 50 year old girlie magazines. Some one night stand won’t likely come up and say, “Walt, do you remember me and that rainy night in the back seat of your Ford? Well, I thought 30

July – Sept 2014

you’d like to know you have a 49-yearold daughter.” Further reassurance; heck, there’s even a National Association of Reunion Managers and myriad web sites and blogs to navigate behaviors A-Z, sensible attire included.

same boat on names and faces. Good news; it’s ‘reunions for dummies’ and de rigeur to wear name badges and yearbook photos. Remember, we’re lucky if we remember the person’s name whom we met yesterday. Stumped? Simply tell people ‘your face looks familiar, but I don’t remember the name.’

SOME THOUGHTS: 1. Be comfortable in your own skin. Accept your body. Since 70% of Americans are overweight, most of us will be in good company. Gals, spare, then, the 11th hour starvation diet, tummy tuck or Botox; the only extra baggage you need worry about are suitcases. Guys, realize that two month old hair plugs really don’t cut it. 2. Leave old grudges at the door. Hold the drama for the therapist couch; better yet, neuter past angst by not vesting energy into it. No sweeter revenge than having fun. 3. Recruit a friend before you go. You’ll have both a conversational anchor and a second if the high school bully regresses. 4. Accept the fact that everybody shares the

5. Don’t get foolish. If you’re into pot, don’t light up. The high school Detention King may have become a federal agent. 6. Reserve a Plan B. If the affair starts looking less like 50 Shades of Grey and more like National Lampoons Class Reunion, consider the merits of copious alcohol and a cab. 7. Above all, relish the now. Appreciate the fact that you’re vertical and made it this far in life, those 20 reception hall steps included. Enjoy the night as theater by treating each person as a new acquaintance and character to explore. After 50 years, face it, they are new. Savor stories and belly laughs. Chances are you won’t make it to the second fiftieth. That is, unless Ted Williams homers on cryogenics.

numbers By Charleen Earley



The value of a human life, average value of a year of quality human life Stefanos Zenios & Colleagues at Stanford Graduate School of Business

world population


4 million

cellular phones sold today

Google was born


186 trillion

New book titles published this year

emails sent today


Facebook was born

1 billion overweight people in the world

589,000 TVs sold today

890 million undernourished people in the world

27,000 people died of hunger today

168 million

dollars spent on weight loss programs in the U.S.A. today

13 billion

cigarettes smoked today

As of June 25, 2014 at 9:30 p.m., these were the numbers pulled from The numbers are updated in real time. When you go to this website, the numbers on this page will have significantly increased.

July – Sept 2014


Designing Life Her Way


he might be the youngest fashion designer in San Francisco at age 22, but Alyssa Nicole’s Spring 2014 Collection – which includes two bridal pieces – shows maturity and quality well beyond her years. Inspired mostly by personal instinct, color, moods and vintage silhouettes, the FIDM* graduate says “white noise” defines

Photo by Jess Sorensen


July – Sept 2014


her latest collection. “My designs are feminine, romantic, soft and refined with a little edge to it; a slight Bohemian edge, not a nasty girl edge!” says Alyssa Casares, Nicole is her middle name. Alyssa was born and raised in Hughson, California, a small farming town east of Modesto and moved to San Francisco three years ago to follow her passion in life – designing clothes. She takes orders via her website, and stitches almost every piece herself.

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in SF

Not just a passing fad, Alyssa says she’s in designing for the long haul. She began altering her clothes at age eight, and sewing at 12, all self-taught. “I was always into crafts. I made my first dress when I was eight. I sewed little feathers on it; it was hideous! I think my mom still has it,” admits Alyssa, whose mom, also her business partner, bought her a Brother sewing machine when she was young. “Today I use a regular standard sewing machine; I think it’s a Brother

Photo by Charleen Earley

By Charleen Earley

Photos by Joesph Petersen

too!” With occasional trunk and pop-up shows, Alyssa’s wedding dresses range from $1500 to $3500, with a lead time of four months, and ready-to-wear pieces $100 to $400, with a one to two week lead time. Chiffons, silks, laces and soft linens encompass her fabric choices – some coming from Europe – allowing her line to rely on youthfulness and fun, which is why she refuses to put an age-limit on her target audience, who tend to range from mid-20s to 50. “For my Spring 14 collection I used silk with metallic Lurex, silk organza, sheer checkered silk and silk chiffon. A few of the dresses were designed in denim as well,” says Alyssa, whose sizes are standard to contemporary, 0 to 14. Romantic and feminine is how Alyssa describes her clientele. “She’s a person who has watched Audrey Hepburn movies!” says Alyssa, who personally accessorizes with Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson handbags and shoes. For clients who want to order a custom design, Alyssa personally walks them through the process. “Clients can first get a feel for my aesthetic by looking in the shop (online). I then work

July – Sept 2014


Photo by Ryan Chua


July – Sept 2014

with them on their vision by providing them with a few rough sketches until we narrow down the final design,” says Alyssa. “I provide consulting on the design fabrications and fit variations. Each custom design is unique because we draft the pattern for the garment by hand. So it truly is couture in the sense that every step in the process of creating the customized dress is done by hand.” “We also offer in-house alterations and meet with clients for fitting on the design,” adds Alyssa, who has an orange cat named Ziggy. “If clients are outside the Bay Area, I offer consultations and fittings via Skype or emails.” When it comes to editing her final pieces, mom steps in. “My mom Sonia doesn’t do any designing at Alyssa Nicole, but she does help in the editing process for collections,” says Alyssa. “Basically, she helps decide which designs will make the final cut in the collection. She also handles the business side of the company, so I can focus on design and creative direction for the line.” Currently working on her newest line, Alyssa spends her time making samples, working on patterns and sourcing materials from textile companies in Los Angeles. “I hope to have the collection finished by August, planning for 13 pieces, but may end up designing more!” says Alyssa, who recently scored a vintage pink silk scarf from the Alameda Flea Market. “There will be a few of the best sellers from my last collection and I design variations on the styles, so there will be fall/winter dresses with long sleeves this season.” Life as a designer is not how reality TV spins it. “It’s not all glam and shopping; it’s a lot of hard work and you can’t give up,” she says. “My ultimate goal is to design dresses that make my customers feel beautiful in. I don’t compare myself to other designers, but have hopes that I can inspire women the way my favorite designers do.” Visit her website at www.



Working T


his season’s pre-fall collections have started making their debut arrival at retailers, leaving this as an approachable moment to plan your wardrobe for the remainder of the year. Many designers utilize the summer months to preview the season ahead as a cooler trend is welcomed. Choosing a garment that fits your style ensures you may have a staple you will wear from year to year.While my personal aesthetic bestows a profound influence of an era gone by, the fall season will certainly contain plenty

of trends that can be revised with an arrangement of new and existing wardrobe staples. A few preferred garments that have made the transition to my closet are anything leather, a classic red plaid pencil skirt and of course 50s glam. Take your adored favorites and incorporate a similar hue, varied texture or contrasting style into your sandal-ready wardrobe. Look right and you’ll find inspiration on how to highlight these pre-trends into your existing summer wardrobe.

Doris Hobbs


I normally shy away from bold patterns, but have noticed plaid is on trend. Any suggestions on how I should wear this trend come fall? Shelly Stewart, Discovery Bay, CA


Yes Shelly, the 90s revival of plaid-on-plaid has made a comeback this year in a preppy iteration. With the mixture of plaid, you may want to make sure it is coordinated by using a similar color palette. If you prefer a less flamboyant appearance, you could simply take one staple piece, such as a cropped coat, skirt or blouse, and anchor it to a solid color.


Is there a trend coming for the pre-fall season to help one make the transition from summer? Faith Tsung, Antioch, CA


Yes, there are many fall trends that can be worn now Faith. A few that come to mind would be a garment that adorns sheer hems or gauchos, both paired with simple, summery attire. Another trend this season would be the obsession with orange as the new black. Try utilizing this trend as an overall ensemble or use it to accent your outfit with accessories.


One of my favorite trends coming this fall is fringe. Any suggestions on how to wear this trend? Naz Techranchi, Alameda, CA


I too adore the unexpected way fringe can be used to add texture to one’s overall appearance, but I personally would stay away from wearing it as an overall garment. Instead, utilize this playful piece as an accent within your accessories. Look for an array of handbags this season by Steve Madden, Michael Kors and DKNY (to name a few), that seamlessly works with any casual daywear.

Photo by Maria Tavares

For more fashion advice and news, be sure to follow Doris on Twitter @doris_hobbs. Send your fashion questions to Doris Hobbs at July – Sept 2014



Angela Zhang

Megan McKinney

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(L-R) Judy, Jack, Anna, and Weg

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ual Wu

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Delta Living Magazine  

Celebrating YOU! ... this publication is an artery of hyper local and regional features to promote improved living with inspiring, educating...

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