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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for October 2015

From Discovery Cube to Trail: Exploring Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Monday, Oct 26, 2015

Did you know that Irvine is wild? It may not be obvious at first glance but in the scenic hills that frame the city and the vibrant waterways that hug its western reaches, wild spaces await. In 2006, more than 37,000 acres of biologically and geologically important land were permanently protected as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Today, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks make up 50,000 acres of historic, scenic, and vital open space.


Some of the most significant priorities of this Natural Landmark are to protect endangered ecosystems and serve as a home for wildlife so access to these lands is not limitless. Many of the wilderness parks and preserves that make up the Landmark are only open to the public via guided tour and special access days. Yet, even with these limitations, the possibilities for exploration are vast.


Families will want to begin their exploration of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana. This science center is home to more 100 hands-on exhibits, including a virtual helicopter ride above the canyons and coastlines of the Landmark. The immersive film takes "riders" all over this biodiversity hotspot, from the pristine beaches of Crystal Cove to otherworldly, water-and-wind-formed landscape of Limestone Canyons' sinks. The helicopter's flight path allows "riders" to catch a glimpse of landscapes they might not know exists in the land surrounding Irvine and surely sparks a desire to get out and explore the nature that surrounds the region. is your resource for finding guided hikes (which take place daily across the Irvine Ranch system), equestrian rides, and Wilderness Access days. Hikes range from toddler walks and family hikes to trail runs with 1000 foot elevation gains. Visitors can learn about animal tracking, birding, paddle the Upper Newport Bay, practice yoga, mountain bike, and even learn to a map and compass with the experts. There are even evening programs such as monthly full moon hikes and bat programs.

If you would rather just head out on your own and won't be visiting Irvine during one of the Wilderness Access days, Bommer Canyon is a great place for a hike. The canyon, located near Irvine's upscale Shady Canyon village, is open seven days a week (weather permitting) from dawn to dusk. This area, filled with hills, sycamores, oaks, and interesting rock formations, is rich with ranching history. The Bommer Pass Trail has recently undergone a habitat restoration and native plants have been planted along the trail. Nearby Quail Hill is also a nice option, especially during the spring wild flower season when the lupine are in bloom.

With a new paint job, ‘Innovation Rocks!’ in the float barn and at UCI’s The Cove

Posted by: Laura Berthold Monteros
Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

Paul Simonds, Southern California Gas Company; Demea Metcalf, Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Woolery, Wells Fargo; Wendy Haase, Destination Irvine; Sam Murray, Managease, Inc.; Kate Klimow, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine; Linda DiMario, Destination Irvine; Tallia Hart, Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Dan Han, Ignite Payments Agape; Terry Winkler, DI blogger; Bruce Greenberg, The GDR Group

"Oh, wow!" Bruce Greenberg exclaimed after seeing "Innovation Rocks!" for the first time.  He and other members of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce got their first look at the freshly painted Destination Irvine Rose Parade float last Wednesday at Phoenix Decorating Company in Pasadena.  His reaction reflected that of the other folks present, but how does a float about innovation relate to the innovation happening in Irvine every day?  We put that question to Matt Bailey, Chief Collaboration Strategist for UCI Applied Innovation at The Cove and also found out a bit about the new space for innovative collaboration at UCI.

Linda DiMario and Chris Lofthouse

At the Rose Palace float barn, Chris Lofthouse, President/CEO of Phoenix, told the Irvine group, "You've seen it in an 8x10 rendering.  It's going to be pretty exciting in three dimensions."  And it was.  "It's spectacular," Linda DiMario said.  "It brings the "Innovation Rocks!" theme to life."  

Though most of the paint on the whimsical float is in bold colors, fine detail is apparent in the fine lines for the pages of the books and the feathering of colors on the flowers.  Indicating where to put the colorful flowers and dry materials is one of the reasons floats are painted so carefully.  "Innovation Rocks!" is pretty well done until December, when the botanical materials will be applied. 

As Sam Murray enthused, "I think it's huge and incredibly tall!  The fact that it's painted now, you can see how the flowers go on." 

Innovation Rocks long view

Peter the Anteater, mascot of UCI, towers over the float to a height of nearly 17 feet with lovely blue fur and a white lab coat.  The coiled tubes on the side rise higher than that and must be folded down to leave the barn and later go under the 210 overpass. 

 "We love Peter the Anteater and are awful proud that the float is telling the world how great Irvine is," Kate Klimow said.  "It's a great ambassador for UCI."  Noting that 2015 is UCI's 50th anniversary year, she said, "It's great to share the party with the world."

With its strong theme of science and invention, "Innovation Rocks!" reflects the community of Irvine itself and puts that message in front of 80 million viewers.  A float is really a picture book that tells a story in 30 seconds as it rolls along the parade route.

In a phone interview, Matt Bailey opined, "It's certainly an interesting way to do it.  The story about all the great things happening here gets lost.  Often things happen in Irvine, technology or innovation, and it's hard to tell a story about.  If it were Uber or Tinder, it might be easier to talk about.  There's a lot of hard science here and businesses happening around that.  It's important for the local community and people outside Irvine to understand what's happening in Irvine."

One thing that happened in Irvine, Klimow said, is that the HTTP internet protocol that enables billions of people to surf the web was invented at UCI.  "There's a whole center of innovation in Irvine," she said.  "It has a global presence."

Han looking at float

Daniel Han, taking in the height of the float in this photo, surveyed the creation and poked around in the driver's compartment.  "It's phenomenal," he said.  "To me, it's a dream come true to even be here."  The first memory Han has of America after he came at the age of six was watching the Rose Parade on television with his family.

At right in the photo, Demea Metcalf is snapping pictures with her phone.  "I'm blown away!  I think it's so bright and colorful." She's excited about the float because, after all, "It's the Rose Parade!"

"I think it's a perfect representation of the City of Irvine," Greenberg added.  "It's flowers, education, technology.  It's why we all work here."  It's also why students choose to attend UCI.  The innovation-themed float ties together the aspirations and offerings of the community and the university. 

Bailey said, "If Irvine is known for anything, somebody saw it on a list of safest places to live.  That's great, but I think it's not all that inspiring for young people.  There is a lot of opportunity here.  It's a great university."  He wants people to know that it's a place for experimentation, a safe place to fail, learn, and succeed.  "It's a great environment," he said.

Matt Bailey

Most folks likely know about the Rose Parade, but it's unlikely they are familiar with one of the newest innovations at UCI, Applied Innovation at The Cove.  The Cove is dedicated to technology transfer-getting inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors in the same space to collaborate and get new technology to market faster and ensuring that intellectual property is protected..  The doors opened just two weeks ago.  "Six months ago, we were dry walling," Bailey said.

"The Cove is the first step there is to creating a space where people can get together.  It's 31,000 square feet of space in a research park that's dedicated to building a community or microcosm of the university ecosystem.... It's fun, it's got a good energy to it.  It's about making connections.

"The hard science piece is happening at the university.  We take it and try to get it implemented, out into the world,  We take all the great innovation and apply it to something, turn it into something real in the world."  One of the ideas is to foster an environment where people from the university and the community can bump into each other and end up collaborating on a new project.

Bailey said, "I think a Rose Parade float is a pretty interesting communication channel, an interesting way to reach a wide audience," and he added, "It's got to be a sustained effort, don't do it with this one thing."

Whether at The Cove or reflected on a Rose Parade float, as DiMario stated, "Innovation is at the heart of what makes Irvine a global city."

Style Week OC Recap- Irvine Spectrum

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, Oct 15, 2015

Style Week OC may have come to an end, but you can still shop your favorite Irvine Spectrum Center stores for new fall fashion pieces. Afterall, it hasn't really felt like the Autumn season has kicked in with the heat wave and humid weather Orange County has been experiencing; so you have time to catch up on updating your wardrobe and be outfit appropriate for when the weather starts to cool down.

Style Week OC at the Irvine Spectrum Center welcomed more than 300 spectators to watch fashion shows for two nights, with the illuminated Giant Wheel serving as a fun and dramatic backdrop to the runway.

On Friday, September 18th, the Surf & Action Sports runway show took place, featuring OC's most prolific surf, skate & activewear brands and retailers such as Oakley, Roxy, Vans, DC, Quiksilver, Tilly's, Hurley, and Macy's. 

On Saturday, September 19th, the center presented two runway events; the Irvine Spectrum Center collection runway show featuring the latest looks for fall from retailers such as Nordstrom, White House | Black Market, Kaitlyn, Macy's, Maxstudio, Bebe, Windsor, Francesca's Collections and Tommy Bahama. Part two of the fashion shows showcased the finale of the Celebrity Cruises Design Challenge where FIDM's student designers were challenged to create looks inspired by the cruise line's exotic destinations. Student designer Marly Klugem was the competition winner and took home a $2,000 prize for her "Where Mystery Meets Modern: Amazon River Journey & South America Cruise" design. I absolutely love the mix of textures in the pencil skirt and the volume from the shrug!

Photo credit: The Larson Group.

Filed In: Events

Irvine Hosts 2015 Solar Decathlon

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Sunday, Oct 11, 2015

US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon- Irvine  - Oct 8 - 18

The City of Irvine is hosting the 2105 Solar Decathlon and, once again, some of the country's best and brightest college students will be at the OC Great Park, presenting their vision of an energy-efficient future.

The international event is a competition where collegiate students are challenged to design, build and operate a solar-powered home. This two-week event at the OC Great Park is the culmination of countless hours of collaboration, creation and competition. 


On the day that I visited the Solar Village, record-breaking heat reminded me of the instense power of the sun. What better place than southern California to explore ways to harness its energy? I toured the homes presented by 15 collegiate teams, and listened as students explained their energy-saving ideas and innovations.

The home team, Team Orange County, is made up of 100 students from four local schools; UC Irvine, Chapman University, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College. Their entry, The Casa Del Sol, is not only practical and energy efficient, but aesthetically pleasing as well. 


The 1,000 square foot building was inspired by the California Poppy flower, which opens and closes in response to the sun. Casa Del Sol is a fully-responsive home as well, with adjustable walls, natural ventilation and shading that harnesses the benefits of sunlight while providing protection from its intense heat. 

Even on one of the hottest days of the year, the living spaces of the Casa Del Sol were surprising tranquil and refreshing. And even though it was designed to promote cutting-edge design and technology, Casa Del Sol is a house of The Present, not of the far-distant future. All of the innovations on display are readily available right now. 

At the end of my visit, on a very, very hot day, I was impressed with innovation and creativity that was very, very cool.

2015 Solar Decathlon

OC Great Park - Irvine
October 8 - 18
11am to 7pm daily 
Admission is Free 

Necessity is the mother of innovation in digital media

Posted by: Laura Berthold Monteros
Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015

It started with a photo, an old photo of a happy child nestled in his father's arm, sitting on a bench at Disneyland.  To Mitch Goldstone, it is invaluable.  It is the only memory he has of his father, who passed away when Goldstone was seven.  "Everyone has a story like that-the most important picture," he told DI.  Realizing how easy it is for those precious photos to be lost was an impetus to looking for a way to save them.  His spirit of innovation in founding Scan My Photos International in Irvine with business partner Carl Berman, and a personal aspiration mesh perfectly with the theme of the Destination Irvine Rose Parade float, "Innovation Rocks."

"One of my passions? To get a float in the parade," he said.  "The whole city is so excited about it.  The theme of innovation-that's what Irvine is all about."  He noted the economic value in having such high visibility and fondly remembers the gorgeous floats Kodak used to enter in the Rose Parade.  Irvine has a unique story to share about the mix of business and technology, he said.  "The entire world watches on New Year's.  It's great symbolism." 

Some of that symbolism and tradition made news on Monday with the announcement of the 2016 Tournament of Roses Royal Court.  Out of 900 original applicants, the Queen and Court Committee selected seven young women to represent the association from for the next 12 months.  The girls started with a 15-second introduction to the judges in mid-September, and made it through four cuts to become Rose Princesses. Applicants are evaluated on a wide range of qualities, including academics, poise, personality, public speaking, and appearance, but to make the Court, they also possess special, very individual qualities. 

2016 Tournament of Roses Royal Court
The 2016 Royal Court gathered on the south porch of Tournament House after the announcement.  
Left to right in the photo are Sarah Shaklan, Rachelle Liu, Erika Winter, Bryce Bakewell, Regina Pullens, Natalie Hernandez-Barber and Donaly Marquez.

Goldstone grew up in New York, but when he came to California to attend the University of Southern California, the climate-both weather wise and businesswise-compelled him to stay.  In 1990, he started a small photo printing business in Irvine.  As more and more people switched to digital cameras, Goldstone said he had to reinvent his business, which meant going digital.  In his 25 years in business, he says he has printed or scanned 300 million family photos. 

"They are doing no good in those boxes," he said.  "Photos are going to get destroyed or fade away."  It might be a natural disaster, but some disasters are homemade.  "The risk of loss goes all the way down to, if you have a young child with a box of crayons, he could turn your lifetime memories into art."Mitch Goldstone of Scan My Photos International

Innovations in technology helped to propel his business, he says.  "I'd love to take credit and think it was something I thought of.  I was forced to rethink my business.  People stopped bringing in rolls of film.  I had to innovate to continue with my passion.... Over the years, I've been very fortunate because of technology."  He gives a lot of credit to the many photo apps for sharing and storing digital images and to "Throwback Thursday," because it's popular to post old pictures electronically.

"It's so much fun to go back to family events and holidays," he said, but slides and analog (hard copy) photos are not easily shared and the history can be lost.  Photo sharing apps are only uploading recent pictures from smartphones, digital cameras and other digital media.  " solved that.  It's kind of like magic to see how quickly your photos can be digitized.  Then can be shared with friends, relatives."

Goldstone estimates there are 3 ½ trillion analog photos in the world.  His company scans and digitizes 300,000 photos a day, as many as 300 per minute per machine on equipment manufactured by Kodak. takes SMP, digital photos, slides, film negatives, VHS tapes, EPS tapes, and 8, 16, and 35 mm films and turns them into 300 or 600 dpi jpegs stored on DVDs or flash drives.  He suggests uploading the files to the cloud and purchasing extra flash drives for sharing with family members and keeping in a safe deposit box.

Scan My Photos facility

"It's such a synergistic process with innovation.  That's what my business is all about," he says.  Part of the innovation at is making it easy for customers to send in their photos.  They can go to the website and order everything online, including a "fill the box" option. sends a box to the customer, who has prepaid online.  The customer fills it and can bring it in himself or ship it back with no shipping cost. 

"As soon as we get the box, it's scanned and sent back in a few days.  We're so sensitive-these are people's most precious possession-they shouldn't have to wait a long time."  Goldstone avers that his shipper, the US Postal Service, has never lost a box.  USPS even sent a 12-person crew to shoot a promotional video at the company.

Though receives boxes from all over the world, the only location is in Irvine, and Goldstone remains a staunch supporter of the city.  He served twice on the board of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, with his high point being on the community service commission. He is also extremely enthusiastic about the first Irvine float to be in the Rose Parade.

"The float is energizing to the City of Irvine, people are talking about it," he enthuses.  "I will do anything to help out."

Filed In: Dining

Irvine Happy Hour Hot Spot- Bacchus Bar & Bistro

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Friday, Oct 02, 2015

Happy Hour with a touch of sophistication; that is excatly what Irvine's Bacchus Bar & Bistro delivers every Monday through Friday. Tucked in the corner of the Quail Hill Shopping Center, Bacchus sits a bit under the radar but most definitely deserves to be thrown into the spotlight. The vibe inside is wine shop meets bistro, with dozens of bottles from around the world lining the walls. On weekends live, local blues and classic rock bring this restaurant to life. With over 60 wines available by the glass and many more by the bottle, how can a wine afficianado resist?

Bacchus Bar & Bistro features an extensive list of wine from around the world, from $6 Happy Hour glasses to $150 bottles worthy of a splurge. Their wine list is extensive and highly regarded- celebrated with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for two years in a row. If you are in the moods for sampling, be sure to check Bacchus' special wine flights which include 3, 2.5oz wines currated in themes such as "European Whites",  "Southern Hemisphere", and "New World Blends". If you would rather enjoy a beer, Bacchus has you covered. The bistro has several beers on tap as well as a long list of bottled microbrews such as Bootlegger Hefeweizen out of Fullerton and Mission Hard Root Beer from San Diego. A beer sampler -pick four- is also available for $13.


Bacchus' menu consists of appetizers, salads, flatbreads, small plates, sandwiches, and desserts. Standouts include the braised lamb quesadilla, kale and farro salad, glazed pork belly tacos, and lobster grilled cheese. Perhaps the biggest standouts are the build-your-own cheeseboards. Each board comes with bread and crackers as well you your choice of cheese, meats, and accompaniments. There are eleven cheeses to choose from including Corazon Manchengo from Spain, Fourme D'Ambert Blue Cheese from France, and the coffee-crusted Barely Buzzed from Utah.  

Happy Hour Highlights

Where: Bacchus Bar & Bistro. 6735 Quail Hill Pkwy, Irvine. 

When: Monday through Friday from 4:00-6:00pm

Eat: The Chef's Sandwich Special for just $7. Options change daily. I still dream about the brie, bacon, and apricot jam sandwich that I had.  Other highglights include spiced &glazed nuts for $4, chips & BBQ jam for $5, roasted & loaded potatoes for $6, a loaded Nate dog for $5, and the flatbread of the day for $8.

Drink: Beer and glasses of wine under $15 are $2 off. Glasses regularly priced over $15 are $3 off. There are several special Happy Hour wines for $6-7 a glass.  

For more information visit . 


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