The Little Girl Who Inspired Her Parents to Shake the World


kate farms

Most people think of meal replacement drinks as tasteless chalky swill that either geriatrics patients or very sick people imbibe, but the Komlete line of shakes from Kate Farms were made to be delicious enough that a picky kid would drink them.  As the world’s first meal replacement shake, Komplete is organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free for optimal health benefits without many of the ingredients that can have side effects for the sensitive system.


The inspiration behind Komplete is a little girl, Kate Laver. Kate, the daughter of Richard (cousin of tennis legend Rod Laver) and Michelle Laver, was born with cerebral palsy.  Her parents struggled through her childhood regimen of feeding tubes, hospital visits, and numerous pharmaceutical drugs. Years later, after being diagnosed as “failing to thrive,” the meal replacement formula prescribed to her by doctors was laden with sugar and dairy for added calories. Some negative side effects that Kate endured were digestive problems, sleep apnea, and bottle rot.


The Lavers, along with the help of a family friend, created their own meal replacement shake in their kitchen. Leaving out the sugar and dairy products, they replaced them with all-natural vegan ingredients.


Their efforts resulted in the Komplete Ultimate Shake, which contains 24 fruits & vegetables, a high-level of plant-based proteins and 21 superfoods, like acai, mangosteen, black currants, raspberries, green tea extract. Kate Farms believes that their “passion for healthy foods and belief in taking care of one another is the reason” they exist.


Komplete can be found locally throughout California in many Santa Barbara and Palm Springs retailers including but not limited to Lazy Acres, Tri-County Produce, Lasson’s, Clark’s, Pacific Health and Harvest Health among many others.


10 Things to Make Your Fourth of July Celebration a Blast

Drink Up, Snack On and Celebrate with a Bang This July Fourth With These Party Favorites

The upcoming Fourth of July three-day weekend is a great time to get together with friends and family for picnics and parties. Host the hottest Independence Day celebration on the block with these refreshing drinks, satisfying snacks and festive party favorites.


The Harry & David Red, White and Blueberry Cake will get you in the festive spirit with its three layers of vanilla cake separated by luscious strawberry and blueberry filling and topped with cream cheese icing and chocolate covered blueberries. It makes the perfect dessert for your Fourth of July celebration and adds a little elegance to your buffet table.  Harry & David, $49.95.

Thirst  Burst

July is hot, Diabolo is cool.  Drink up this holiday with the refreshing, sparkling non-alcoholic lightly carbonated beverage made with all-natural ingredients and zingy fruit flavor combinations, like Dragon Fruit Plum, Blueberry Lemonade and their Energizing Acai Berry Guava.  These beautifully packaged designer drinks, which are staples at cafes and bistros in France, will and add some jazz, and some cool, to your party.  Available at Albertsons, BevMo and select markets.diabolo800


Cash-Back Bar

Stock up for the celebration at your neighborhood grocery drink aisle or BevMo and grab some Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and get a rebate while you’re at it with the no-coupon-needed shopping app, Ibotta, which lets users play games and give their opinion on brief surveys to earn cash back, deposited into their PayPal or Venmo account.  Shop as a team with friends in your social network to earn more rebates faster.  Free on the App Store or Google Play.Ibotta800

Churn it Up

Crank up the ice cream maker and chill out with red (velvet), blue (berry) and vanilla flavors on the Fourth with recipes from Scoop Adventures:  The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States.  The book includes 80 adapted recipes for home ice cream makers for unique and yummy treats like Red Velvet Ice Cream, Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream, Lavender Caramel Swirl Ice Cream, Banana Pudding Ice Cream and Sweet Basil Ice Cream.  Page Street Publishing, $ cream book800

Go Bananas

Get fresh and fruity on the Fourth with delicious desserts made with the Yonanas, a fun kitchen gadget that emulsifies frozen fruit in seconds into a creamy treat that tastes like soft-serve ice cream. To top it off this miracle masher can make a variety of fruity concoctions including sweet potato pie, tiramisu, and tropical sorbet.  Costco, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond. $40.yananas banner850

Veg Out

Grill meatless for your BBQ party with Gardein’s line of vegetarian foods that combine garden + protein for healthier everyday entrees and appetizers that are convenient and ready-to-cook from your freezer.  Besides veggie burgers, the line includes fishless filets & chips and black bean burger sliders.  Available at Whole Foods, Target and Safeway stores.gardein_Chickn-Yakitori_8x8_RGB-225x225800

Water, Water Everywhere

While reveling in the hot summer sun, hydrate regularly. On the go, take along the ultimate water bottle from Eco Vessel, a line of stylish and durable beverage containers made of sustainable materials and triple insulated to maintain cold or hot temperatures for extended periods of time.  Plus, Eco Vessel donates 1% of the purchase price of every product sold to Water For People, an association that strives to provide long-lasting solutions to the water, sanitation, and hygiene problems in the developing world.15__95892.1377730366.1280.1280

Snack Crackle Pop

Celebrate the holiday with healthy snacks that satisfy your munchies without ruining your diet.  SHRED Pop is a zero cholesterol, no MSG, gluten-free popcorn alternative developed by New York Times bestselling diet book author Dr. Ian Smith.  At only 100 calories a bag and tasty flavors like Honey BBQ, Sea Salt, Kettle and White Cheddar, you can indulge without the guilt.  $21.99 for 24 1 oz. bags, available at

No-Nut Job

With lots of kids over for the holiday, it’s hard to keep track of who has nut allergies, but with nut-free Skeeter Snacks you can let the kids enjoy delicious snacks without worry.  These crunchy and flavorful goodies come in varieties that include Chocolate Chunk, Skeeterdoodle, Golden Oatmeal, Chocolate Cubed cookies and Cinnamon Grahams and Chocolate Chip Minis, which are all-natural, whole grain, free of trans-fats and contain NO high-fructose corn syrup.  $3.49 10 oz box.  Find stores that carry Skeeter Snacks at

Square (In-Between) Meals

If you are hitting the road for the Fourth, take along some satisfying snacks for the road that are good for you. Corazonas 100-calorie oatmeal bars and two-bite-size Mini Oatmeal Squares are heart-healthy snacks chock full of whole grains, fiber and protein and infused with plant sterols, which have been proven to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, in decadent flavors like Chocolate Coconut Macaroon, Banana Walnut, Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Macademai Nut.  Try a sampler box of seven flavors for $9.99. Available at Costco, Safeway, Walgreens, Safeway stores or

A Boy’s Bedroom Makeover Invites Discovery of the Great Indoors


This kid’s room makeover made one little boy a happy camper.  Six-year-old Stephen shared his room with a queen-size guest bed, alongside his pirate-ship toddler bed, which he had outgrown.  The rest of the room was furnished with mismatched hand-me-down pieces, and everywhere were piles of clothes and toys, with no place to put them.

BEFORE windows before lo res


Enter Los Angeles interior designer Baiyina Hughley.  After accessing the space and chatting with Stephen about his favorite activities and toys, her vision of a camping theme emerged.


BEFORE toddler bed

“I wanted to create a space that was playful yet organized, and I knew right away that I wanted an overall design direction that Stephen could grow with over the years,” said Hughley.


A Fort Night


In keeping with the camping theme, Hughley was excited to make a focal point of the room a five-foot high mini teepee from House Inhabit (Etsy, $130), one of her favorite elements of the room which she felt would encourage play and discovery.  To complement the teepee, Hughley added a Felt Campfire Playset with S’Mores (Etsy, $50).  Inside, she made it cozy with an IKEA STOCKHOLM cushion ($14.99) in black and white and a TEJN Faux Sheepskin rug ($9.99).

tee pee low res 2

“These types of whimsical details are what add charm and personality to a space, and Etsy is one of my go-to resources, especially when it comes to kid spaces,” said Hughley.


Above the tee pee she placed a Moon in My Room (Toys R Us, $20.99) remote control nightlight to create additional height and visually balance the vignette.


Trees are Tops


Hughley felt that a wall graphic would make the ceilings appear higher, and she wanted to explore using a fresh modern color scheme outside of the typical navy blue and forest green so often seen in boy’s bedrooms.  She chose made-to-order removable white vinyl birch tree decals from Décor Your Wall (Etsy, $115) against a backdrop of light gray (Sherwin-Williams, Harmony Light French Gray 0055, flat enamel, matte).


Hughley chose a bright white for the ceiling (Sherwin-Williams, Harmony Extra White 7006, eg-shel), and to separate the walls from the ceiling she placed a decorative wood trim border just under the curve of the cove ceiling.  This detail adding a charm to the room that felt right in line with the original architecture.  All trim and the door were also painted bright white (Sherwin-Williams, Harmony Extra White 7006, semi-gloss).


Orange is the New Bed


Since Stephen likes to host sleepovers, bunk beds were a practical and space-saving choice. carried a perfect storage solution of bunk beds with two roomy drawers (Junior Roommates Twin-Over-Full Bunk Bed with Two Drawers, $1,345.99), and mattresses for the beds (Beautyrest Elements Plush Pocketed Coil, twin $239.99, full $284.99), which arrived compressed and rolled in a box.  After taking the mattresses out of the vacuum sealed bags, they unfurled and plumped up to become amazingly comfortable beds.

bunk bed lo res

The bedding added flair to the room with the opted for a bright orange and white Rugby Stripe Duvet Cover ($69 twin, $99 full) from Pottery Barn Kids with a matching sham ($24.50) personalized with Stephen’s monogrammed initials, and Pottery Barn Teen Reverse Dottie sheet set (sale priced $22.99-$38.99). Underneath the covers were down alternative inserts ($29.99 each)  for the duvet and gusseted pillows,( two pack for $29.99) from  Accent pillowed included two navy Lacoste pillows ($25 each) from HomeGoods.


Light it Up


One of the biggest challenges in designing the space was the fact that there was very little direct sunlight in the room throughout the day.  There was also very little task or ambient lighting.  Hughley solved this with plenty of lighting options.  She chose the FLY Suspension Pendant light by Kartell ($350) in petrol blue, which she liked for its fun modern color and its large size.


“The biggest mistake you can make is choosing a light fixture is choosing one that’s too small,” said Hughley.


Other lighting additions included two blue-and-white accent lamps (HomeGoods, $25 each), a bright orange metal desk lamp (Euro Style Lalla Desk Lamp,Overstock,  $66) and two white plug-in wall sconces (Eyeball Sconce, Urban Outfitters, $29 each) placed so that each bunk had its own personal reading light.


“The wall sconces were one of the most practical updates to the room which gives Stephen not only the ability to read a good book before bed but have a better sense of ease and comfort knowing that he has a light close by to turn on if he needs,” said Hughley.  “I’m a huge proponent of multiple lighting sources in a room.  Functionally it was one of the best transformations in the room.”


Closet Case


Another of the functional challenges of the room was the small closet.  The walls were in bad condition, and some of the shelving in the back was not accessible.  Hughley wanted to add function to the closet while also bringing in a sense of playfulness and whimsy.

handybook guys lo resBEFORE Closet

With the help of a consultant at WoodTrac, Hughley assembled the ideal closet with cabinets, drawers and cubby spaces suited for clothes, shoes, hats, and the odds and ends Stephen collected.  The installation of the closet took about a half-day with the expert skills of two Handybook handymen. For assembly jobs like this as well as furniture assembly, electrical installations and other odd jobs, Handybook proved a reliable go-to resource throughout the redesign project.


The transformation was remarkable as the jumbled storage space became an orderly and even inviting space, complete with custom-framed wildlife artwork from and dog-tail clothing hooks (IKEA, $2.99 each).  Toys, electronics and other knick knacks now had a home in drawers, cubbies and tidy wicker storage bins (HomeGoods, $20).

closet and art lo res

Rug-ged Individualism


To ground the space, Hughley chose an 8×10 Handmade Hexagon Light Blue N.Z. Wool Rug, (Overstock, $447.95) to counter the pendant and repeat the blue with a modern geometric pattern that reinforces the kid-friendliness of the room. For added comfort and safety, Hughley placed a Broyhill non-slip pad the rug (HomeGoods, $29.99)


“I was nervous to order a rug online, but I was blown away by the quality when we received it,” said Hughley.


Elementary My Dear Boy


For other furnishings, Hughley chose the Pottery Barn Kids sturdy white Schoolhouse Basic Desk ($589) with brushed nickel hardware, which offered a large surface for homework and art projects along with two big drawers for supplies and files.  The desk was also useful as a nightstand for the bottom bunk.  Hughley paired the desk with a molded plastic side chair (InStyleModern, $99) and placed a similar armchair rocker across the room (InStyleModern, $135) as a reading chair.

book shelf lo res

Hughley chose IKEA’s MALM 6-drawer dresser ($149) in a dark black-brown finish because of its clean lines, ample storage and the masculine color that related to the finish on the bunk bed.  At the foot of the bunk bed, Hughley placed the IKEA TROFAST ($39.99) and plastic bins ($3-5) for additional toy storage.  For books, Hughley chose the array silver bookcase from CB2 ($189), a steel vertical rack to hold Stephen’s favorite reading material.

dresser low res

To decorate the walls Hughley hung above the dresser a large-scale framed Calder museum art poster that fit right into the room’s color scheme.  She custom-created another kid-friendly framed poster for above the desk using Pantone paint chips which allowed her to have creative control of the colors and patterns.


Made in the Shade


While there are plenty of exciting elements in the room — a bunk bed, a teepee, a bonfire — the first thing Stephen complimented upon seeing the completed space was the window treatments.


“The roman shades were ready-made from Pottery Barn Teen ($189 each), and they rival designer custom shades,” said Hughley.  “I chose black roman shades with a small scale white polkas despite the room being dark because I knew the contrast with the paint would create the illusion of brightness that the room so greatly needed.”


Hughley selected gun-metal black drapery rods with square finials (HomeGoods, $19.99) the IKEA AINA grey linen curtains ($49.99 pair), similar to the paint color, to visually widen the span of the windows while not competing with the rug or bedding.


“Since I chose to go neutral on both paint and major furnishings, it was essential to bring color and pattern into the space through accessories, bedding and window treatments,” said Hughley.  “The three pieces that ground the room are the pendant light, the rug and the window treatments.”


In the Zones


Hughley was successfully able to mix prints by varying the scale around the room.  Her choice of orange for the bedding brought brightness and warmth that countered the coolness of the grey and blue.  Her other accomplishment was in making the space completely functional through the layout and placement of furnishings, which created distinctive zones within the room.

desk and bunk bed lo res

“I hope that I’ve created a space for Stephen to grow with over the years.  It was very empowering to create a foundation and direction where he still felt open to making it his own,” said Hughley.  “One of the biggest successes of the project was making the process of letting go of old toys and clothes a positive one.  He was making space for something new!   The space feels completely different now.  There is a sense of peace with having less and he can actually find and play with his favorite toys.”



West Hollywood PRIDE Celebration Makes Community Proud

20140607_123228The 2014 PRIDE LA Music & Arts Festival held June 6-9 in West Hollywood Park delivered on the promise of its promoters, Christopher Street West, that the event would feature “something for everyone.”  A centerpiece of the festival was Thunderground, an outdoor rollerskating rink complete with a light show and mirror balls and pulsating disco music.

Many skaters graced the rink wearing their best circa-1970s Lycra leggings and fro wigs.  Sponsor American Apparel helped set the dress code by giving away muscle tank tops and pink and white stripped Richard-Simmons short-shorts, while Delta Airlines offered free spray tans in two cabanas in the outdoor VIP lounge.

Other attractions included a pop-up arcade of carnival games, such a shooting gallery with a ping pong ball gun where you could “put your balls in Putin’s mouth” by aiming at a cut-out target of the Russian leader’s open mouth, and a variation on the water-dunk booth but with players breaking water balloons over each other’s heads.


There were lots of great giveaways from companies ranging from Just for Skin face creams Dyle, a new tech device that streams live TV to your mobile phone.  Booths by Walgreens, Whole Foods and Arrowhead Water were just some of the mainstream companies represented.  Bedsides the occasional nearly naked buff man in a tiny sling of a bikini handing out palm cards to the local gay men’s night club, the tone of this year’s festival seemed less focused on sex-related promotion than in previous years.

As a banner over Robertson Boulevard greeted, “Welcome to Our Family,” PRIDE indeed felt more about fun and community this year.  After all, what’s more wholesome than a giant roller-skating rink with kids and parents skating around together hand in hand?  This year I can really say, PRIDE made me proud.

Giving Care on Father’s Day

mom and dad


My Dad used to do everything.  He was the family electrician, mechanic, gardener and general handyman.  He was also an avid fisherman, poker player, computer tinkerer and golfer.  But for the past several years, Dad has done none of the things he used to love, because he has Alzheimer’s.

While it is Father’s Day this Sunday, Dad doesn’t really know it.  But Mom does.  She’s saving the Father’s Day cards I sent to open Sunday and to celebrate with him.  When I called her last night, she was giving him dinner.  Today she will be taking him on errands with her, as she cannot leave him alone.  A few days a week, she pays a helper to watch him, so she can go to work.

At age 76, Mom works part time at a real estate office.  She works to get out of the house, to stay connected to the outside world and keep her sanity, because no matter how much she loves Dad and is dedicated to him, taking care of every aspect of personal care for a grown man is an incredibly physically and emotionally draining job.

I am 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, where I moved 15 years ago.  I have told Mom to let me know when it gets too hard for her to handle Dad herself.  I offered to move back to Virginia to help, but Mom says she is okay for now.  I don’t really believe that’s true.  I hear it in her voice.  She’s tired.  Sometimes she sounds depressed.


It’s not just that her caregiver duties are trying; Mom has lost her best friend, her husband, her partner in life, her confidant, her co-parent, her travel buddy, her Jeopardy- and Jay-Leno-watching pal, and her day-and-night companion who shared the last 56 years with her.

So far, mom is holding up, but I know — as all our family and her friends know, Mom has an extraordinary job taking care of Dad, and her life has been extraordinarily impacted by his illness.  I am very glad my mother has resources and friends and family who help her, but for many others in her position, they do not have this network.

Across the country 42 million people, primarily women, between the ages 40 – 60 are faced with the challenge of providing care to their older loved ones each and every day. New research from AARP suggests that caregiving can take a tremendous toll on a caregiver’s personal health and general wellbeing. And yet, many caregivers do not self-identify as such and can be reluctant to ask for help. A new campaign, the Ad Council’s Caregiver Assistance campaign with AARP,, aims to connect caregivers to resources, tools and experts.

dad caregiver

This Father’s Day, the sponsors are raising awareness about The Thanks Project, an online platform that enables caregivers to publically recognize the parents whom they care for. Each individual ‘thanks’ will be integrated into the interactive tapestry, representing the 42 million caregivers in the US. Caregivers everywhere deserve to be recognized for the important work that they do, and Father’s Day remind us why it’s worth it.

thanks project

While Father’s Day is a day to honor Dad and remember all the things he’s done for me and all he has meant to me throughout my life, I am also thankful for Mom on this day, for all the love she shows to my father, through sickness and in health — and I know he would have done the same for her.