Real Estate Review: A Good or Bad Market?

Q. Tom, how is the real estate market really doing? Really? For every positive thing I hear or read about the market, it seems I hear or read something negative too. Why all the contradictory information?

You’re right on with your perception of contradictory indicators regarding the marketplace. National vs. local data, sensational vs. realistic media reports, macro vs. micro-market statistics and timely vs. time-lagged information many times result in confusion rather than clarity for the home-buying and home-selling public. The best thing to do is keep in mind that real estate is local and that every market even within the same community is different based on local supply, demand, job market and even school systems. To answer your question, the real estate market is really not bad – really! It remains a very price-sensitive market but I assure you there are many more positive indicators than negative – this market is definitely stronger than a year ago. How do I know? For starters, the amount of short sale listings has been consistently dropping in nearly every community. It used to be that short sales comprised 45-55% of all sales, now it more like 30-35%. In some micro-markets, prices are actually increasing based on demand; in fact, about one if five houses now receive multiple offers. Also, my direct experience at weekend open houses in the last month affirms that buyers in good numbers are searching in earnest for the right home to purchase; some of these people have been renting for a couple of years and are already pre-approved with a mortgage lender, others are first-time buyers with their parents in tow ready to assist with the necessary down payment if the right home and value come along. And these days there are more than a few buyers, investors and non-investors alike, who are walking around with a lot of cash just waiting for the right real estate opportunity. So, the real estate market is good and getting better. Really!

Q. My mom passed away a month ago; my siblings and I disagree as to whether to sell mom’s home as-is with the furniture, sell as-is but emptied of all furniture & belongings, or improve its dated look with new paint, carpet, appliances, etc. with the goal of obtaining a higher sales price. And we’re also having a hard time getting started as mom was a ‘collector’ and left behind a lot of stuff. Any recommendations?

My condolences to your family. I run into this situation all the time. My first recommendation is to consult with an experienced Realtor whose opinion you trust. A trained eye is necessary to properly advise whether a home should be sold as-is with furniture or sold vacant as-is or updated with paint, flooring and other amenities. If improvements are recommended, keep in mind you only want to spend money and time on upgrades that will provide a return on the investment; in other words, for every $1 you spend you’ll want to get $5-10 back on the sale. Regarding getting started and sorting through mom’s stuff, maybe this will help. Think of putting all things in one of six categories: things you will 1) keep yourself 2) give to extended family 3) sell outright or consign 4) give away to anyone 5) donate or 6) haul away. That should get you all on the same page and moving in the right direction. I wish you the best!

The Rest of 2011 – Bad, Mediocre, Good or Great?

Put me in the mediocre camp … but hey that’s not bad! The summer months have been marked by renewed talk of a recession. We have seen a pull back in the equity markets and some disappointing job reports. The housing market has continued to struggle as well. The European debt crisis refuses to go away. For the last year or so it pops up, causes worry and then fades from the headlines only to pop up again. I am sure we have not heard the last of it. This string of disappointing news has prompted many economists to revise their economic forecasts downward. This comes on the heels of some very positive forecasts at the beginning of the year. In just a few short months the consensus view on the economy has gone from overly optimistic to overly pessimistic.

I believe that things are neither real bad nor very good right now. Our economy is most likely going to muddle through and continue to expand, but at a very slow rate. This expansion will continue to be propelled by exports, moderate consumer spending and some corporate spending. Continued high unemployment, a flat to down housing market and state and local government spending cuts will provide plenty of headwinds keeping our potential economic growth in check. While this is not the robust recovery everyone is looking for it is certainly better than another recession.

From an investment perspective, this environment may still provide positive returns. Maintain good balance in your portfolio and be sure to continue to invest a large portion overseas in both the stocks and bonds. One of the most effective ways to gain global exposure is to invest in US multinational corporations that have high international sales. As was the case in previous earnings seasons, the first quarter of 2011 results showed that US companies with a high percentage of international revenue posted more positive surprises than their more domestically oriented counterparts.1

Stay the course and stay invested. A properly allocated, globally diversified portfolio should provide good results over time. The returns may very well end up being mediocre during some periods of time, but mediocre still beats the pants off cash or CDs paying next to nothing right now.

1. Market Pulse, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, June 2011

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and should not be construed as investment advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or

Market Fresh: Shopping with a Purpose

ALIVE August 2011 Market FreshRecently I spent a week in Austin, Texas, where I attended the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. For a taste of local color and a bit of homespun humor, our keynote speaker was Jim Hightower, a populist who prides himself on watching over “The Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be.” Most importantly, he’s a longtime advocate of family farming, organic growing, and local eating. Or, as he puts it, “putting the culture back in agriculture.”

Although Austin is the home of a major upscale grocery chain’s flagship store, Hightower dismisses it as more of a tourist-attraction than a food source. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower knows it’s somewhere between difficult and impossible for a local farmer to get his products placed in one of these giant supermarkets. Instead, he and his family buy directly from their neighboring farmers, as well as those who sell at Austin’s weekly downtown farmers’ market.

Hightower stressed that the pricey merchandise you see in supermarkets may indeed be “organic” when labeled as such, but is still often imported from other states and sometimes even other countries. He knows that agribusiness corporations—those same folks responsible for bringing us genetically-engineered “fresh” tomatoes year ‘round, and packaged “guacamole” that contains no avocado—have been known to use their substantial political clout (i.e., dollars) to influence the definition of words like “organic.” So when Hightower passes by a supermarket produce display, he takes the organic moniker with a grain of salt. Instead, he looks for descriptors like “sustainable” and “local,” which carry far more value for the consumer. And he finds those labels rarely, if ever.

I think you see where I’m going with this. California is obviously ahead of much of the country when it comes to consumer affairs, but the wise shopper will always keep these factors in mind.

And while I’m on the subject, I defy anyone to leave the Danville farmers’ market empty handed this month. The kaleidoscope of colors and intoxicating aromas seduce even the most miserly among us. Even if you harbor a deep-seated aversion to cooking, you can’t help but succumb to the charms of summer’s bounty, as so much of it requires little or no time in the kitchen. Never underestimate the power of a vine-ripened tomato sandwich, fat and fragrant strawberries, or a juicy nectarine eaten out of hand.

Also remember that shopping at the farmers’ market ensures the food you buy has been grown locally and freshly harvested at the peak of ripeness; and that the money you spend there goes directly to the people who grow the food we eat. Oh, and need I mention everything tastes better?

Here’s a Spanish-inspired sauce that makes a colorful and remarkably tasty dip for summer crudités or prawns, especially when served outdoors on a warm evening. Or simply spoon a large dollop of it alongside anything that’s grilled—vegetables chicken, lamb, or fish. It is quickly made from pantry items you may already have on hand; but it’s the locally-grown vine-ripened tomatoes that send it over the top.


  • 1/2 cup whole natural (skin-on) California almonds
  • 2 vine-ripened plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • a heaping 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) sliced drained piquillo peppers or other bottled roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup California extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread out the almonds on a small baking sheet. Gently squeeze the tomato to remove most of the seeds and set cut-sides down on the sheet. Add 2 of the garlic cloves in their skins. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning the garlic and stirring the nuts once, until the almonds are very lightly browned when broken open. Place the nuts in a blender or food processor. Peel the roasted garlic and add it along with the tomato halves.
  2. In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time, until they darken slightly and smell fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add to the blender. Mince the remaining garlic clove and add that as well. Add the piquillo peppers, olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the smoked paprika, chipotle chile, salt, and 1/4 cup of water. Pulse the machine on and off several times, then puree for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce is smooth. Taste, and add up to 1 more tablespoon of lemon juice if you think it’s needed. If the dip thickens upon standing, thin with a little more water.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes about 11/2 cups, to serve 6 to 8.

Adapted from Great Party Dips by Peggy Fallon (John Wiley & Sons 2009)

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad and Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 1-800-949-FARM or visit their web site at

2012 Fiat 500: The Return of Fiat!

ALIVE August 2011 Passing Lane

How long has it been since Italy has sold a car in the U.S.A. which was affordable to the masses? Answer: a very long time. With the merger of Fiat and Chrysler, Fiat now has a new distribution channel and a team that has launched their return. The first offering is the 2012 Fiat 500, a small four-passenger spirited bite-size of a car that is so fun to drive.

This little car is about the size of a Mini, minus about six-inches. I lost count on the number of people who commented on how cute the car was. When the first lady started her sentence with “oh how cute…” I thought she was talking about me until I realized the 500 out staged my new shirt! This time around, Fiat opted for rounded features and a retro interior to create its splash into this pint-size car market. I think I personally increased traffic to chiropractors with the constant wrenching of necks checking out this foreign micro-car whizzing by!

The 2012 Fiat 500 is available in three trims (Pop, Sport, and Lounge), with two body styles (hatchback and convertible). The convertible version or as Fiat calls it “Cabrio,” consists of a contemporary solution to the famous canvas roof of the original Cinquecento. The 500c features a premium dual layer multi-position power retractable cloth top that runs on rails between the edges of the roof. When you press the power button once it opens to a sunroof for the front occupants; press it again and it expands to include the rear passengers. One more click and it folds back to offer a full open-air view.

The base model is the Pop Hatchback starting at $15,500, which includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, fabric seats, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, power heated mirrors, cruise control, 15-inch steel wheels and a five-speed manual transmission. An optional 6-speed automatic transmission is available for a $1,000. The Pop convertible jumps to $19,500.

The Sport trim ($17,500) adds a load of sporty features including firmer springs, rocker panel cladding, slightly flared fenders, tighter steering, 16-inch aluminum wheels, roof spoiler and more. Inside the Fiat 500 Sport the interior carries a Gray/Black color scheme, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, six-speaker subwoofer, Bose sound system and hands-free Bluetooth ™ technology.

The Lounge hatchback version at $19,500 is the upscale version of the 500 which comes standard with the 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, a fixed glass roof, Sirius satellite radio, premium fabric seats, 15-inch aluminum wheels, and a lot of chrome trim. The Lounge Cabrio version starts at $23,500.

For a small car I never felt shoe-horned or cramped. The cabin had a very open feel and the front legroom was fine. Jumping in and out of the back seat to buckle my 3-year old son into his car seat wasn’t an issue; even though I did have to reposition the driver seat each time.

The Fiat 500 proves that inexpensive cars aren’t required to have economical looking interiors. The touch points, (steering wheel, seats, buttons, and gear shift), were soft and pleasing on contact. Some of the non-touch points (areas that you don’t frequently feel-like the dash), looked good but felt of the quality you would expect from a car priced in this range. The trunk, although small, is adequate for a few bags of groceries or packages. If the Cabrio top is in the full down position which hangs over the trunk top, any attempts to open the trunk, will result in the top automatically adjusting the canvas top upward, creating the clearance needed to open the trunk.

At 140-inches long, the Fiat 500 is more than one and one half feet shorter than the Ford Fiesta, and 11-inches shorter than the Toyota Yaris. With comparisons like these, math is more fun and stylish with the 500. All three trim levels have different driving characteristics. The Sport has a firm ride and quicker steering. The Pop with its standard manual transmission delivers a softer ride but is still fun. The Lounge also has a softer ride compared with the Sport and is easier to steer.

All three models are equipped with the same 1.4-liter engine that produces 101 horsepower and 98 foot-pounds of torque. Fiat’s famed MultiAir system is complex and helps increase fuel mileage (30 city / 38 Highway) but does require premium fuel. Being that the car is so light the 101 horses really keep the 500 running!
Room for improvement:

  • When the Cabrio top is in its full down position it blocks your view and makes it pretty difficult to see behind you

Cool Features:

  • Unique styling
  • Italian sport performance

The Fiat 500 might be small, but it still includes seven air bags, electronic stability control, reactive head restraints, ABS brakes and has earned a 5-star safety rating.

In Summary: Fiat is re-entering the with one of the first 2012 models. The Fiat 500’s fresh new styling should help it do well in the new mini-compact car category against the likes of the Mini Cooper, and Smart Car. Fiat has come a long way since its previous offerings from years ago. This is a great car at a great price. If you’re looking for small, check out the big reasons to own a 2012 Fiat 500.

2012 Fiat 500c Pop Cabrio
Base price: $19,500 as driven: $21,750 (including destination)
Engine: 1.4-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 101 @ 6500
Torque: 98 foot pounds @ 4000
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Drive: Front Wheel-Drive
Seating: 4-passenger
Turning circle: 30.5 feet
Cargo space: 5.4 cubic feet
Curb weight: 2,363 pounds
Fuel capacity: 10.5 gallons
EPA mileage: City 30 / Highway 38
Wheel Base: 90.6 inches
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper
Also consider: Mini Cooper, Smart for two

Stamps In My Passport: Malta

Stamps In My Pasport: Malta

As I wander around this great planet of ours, I am fascinated by the various architectural styles we individuals choose for our homes. Not only are they extremely diverse, they also tell us something about the culture and ambiance of the region. I could spend a little time talking about our own California style, but I’d probably not say anything you haven’t said yourself. So, instead, let me select a spot in my travels which I found somewhat unique.

The people of Malta have a balcony fetish! Before I go too deeply into this unique observation, let me refresh your knowledge about Malta. We start with Italy. As we all know Italy is shaped a bit like a big boot. Down near the toe sits the island of Sicily which is often compared to a soccer ball that the leg of Italy is driving into a net. I assume that the Italians’ interest in soccer comes from their geographic manifestations, although I doubt Sicily likes being booted around by its neighbor.

Now that you have these objects firmly fixed in your mind, I need you to go south in the Mediterranean and you will find a couple of other little islands – Malta and Gozo. I suppose if you have a vivid imagination you could think of them as divots picked up by the Italian boot as it sends Sicily off. But, in any event, that’s where Malta sits.

Now Malta is a very proud nation. It has a history of monoliths which predates Stonehenge and boasts of being included in many of the empires that thrived in the millenniums before and after the birth of Christ.

The island is even mentioned in the Biblical book of Acts when John was shipwrecked on his way to Rome. In fact, he had a major influence on the island by baptizing a little gang which eventually grew until it covered the island. But, I’m straying away from balconies, and that’s what this is all about.

Almost all of the buildings in Malta have balconies. They are not huge balconies, actually they are quite small. My brief investigation indicates they are only about three feet wide and in most cases take in just the equivalent of the one room they front. But, they have a great deal of character. For example, some are totally enclosed which defeats the purpose of a balcony. The Maltese love to express their individuality by painting their balconies in various hues ranging from bright to subdued. The color also is important. They love either green or blue but avoid orange and red balconies. Some years ago inexpensive aluminum balconies were introduced but a speedily-enacted law made them illegal, and the wood and iron one prevailed. One finds adornments on most of these exterior porches, such as chairs and colorful flower pots.

Within the last year the Maltese Housing Authority spent about one hundred thousand dollars on balcony renovations. Some criticism was directed at the Housing Authority for this use of its limited funds. But the Minister of Housing, who incidentally is a lady, said “it is not always easy to repair or replace balconies, but they are part of the Maltese heritage and we must preserve them.” She is also lobbying to combine the Housing Authority and the Planning Authority to pool their resources in dealing with balconies. It was a bit strange that I never saw anyone sitting on or in these enclosures. Perhaps the time of year is important.

The island of Malta is a beautiful place. The weather is pleasant, the people are prosperous, and appear quite happy. The entire ambience is of one of pleasure and contentment. I’m going to start a referendum in California demanding more balconies. Who knows? It may be the answer to all of our problems. Down with patios and back yard entertainment areas. Let’s start putting our barbeques on balconies. It may help to regenerate the housing market.

The Dirt Gardener: Thanks for Asking

ALIVE August 2011

Q. I finally planted several Jalapeño Peppers and I’ve been pleasantly surprised on how well they have grown but disappointed that the flavor has been quite mild instead of hot. My wife thinks I picked them too soon. What do I need to do to increase the heat?

A. Your wife is correct. You’re harvesting the peppers too early. When mature, Jalapeño Peppers should be three-inches long and two-inches wide. The color will cycle from a green to a darker almost blackish green color. Some varieties of hot peppers do turn a blackish red. If left on the plant long enough, all the varieties will turn a red color. Red Jalapeños have a wonderfully sweet/hot taste. Once you think maturity has been reached, harvest a few and check their flavor. If the taste is suitable, then you’ll no you can pick the rest when they reach that stage. If they’re not quite spicy enough for you, wait a few more days and try again. You’ll need to keep trying the peppers at different stages until the taste suits you. The Scoville Scale measures the spicy heat or pungency of each pepper variety. This scale runs from 2,500 to over 500,000. Jalapeño is in the low range of hot peppers while Cayenne, Serrano, and Habanero are near the top of the scale. The heat and flavor does increase as they mature; however, geography plays a role, as the mature chili pepper is more intense the closer they’re grown to the equator. Hence, Jalapeno Peppers growing in Orange County will be hotter than those in San Jose or Portland Oregon. When you harvest hot or chili peppers, you should carefully snap each pepper from the plant. Better yet, use a pair of sharp garden shears to cut the stem an inch or so above each pepper. It’s highly recommended to wear a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands especially those with nicks and cut from any juice that might leak out during harvesting and for whatever reason don’t touch your eyes as you will encounter sever and intense discomfort.

Q. I have several beautiful rose bushes, but they’re developing small red flowers on some aggressive growth that in some cases is over eight feet tall. The growth is taking over the rose bushes. What can I do to prevent this from happening?

A. Most of the modern day roses are not growing on their own roots. Instead, they are budded on to a second type of rose known as the rootstock. They are joined together at the bud union. The bud union is the large knot near the ground. Any shoots or growth from below the bud union is growing off the rootstock. This plant produces a single, cherry red flower, which is what I think you are describing. These rogue shoot are commonly referred too as suckers. Roses sucker naturally, so it’s impossible to prevent them from reoccurring. All you can do is be observant and prune off the shoots as they develop.

Secretariat:ALIVE at the Movies

ALIVE at the Movies: SecretariatHast thou given the horse his strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Was Secretariat a freak of nature or an animal nurtured to grow to his full potential? I pondered the question and came to the conclusion that every once in a while there comes a specimen so pure in his purpose that he literally outruns everyone around him.

Secretariat is a movie about just such a magnificent creature. While the movie focuses primarily on the horse, as it should, the stories of the people are a huge part of the story.

Secretariat is a horse that dramatically affected the people around him. The story opens with the death of the Chenery family matriarch. Everyone comes home for the services and to figure out what to do next with the family’s horse farm which hasn’t turned a profit in a while. Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) is married to a Denver attorney and is “Suzy Homemaker.” Her brother, the professor, wants nothing to do with the farm but Penny can’t quite pull the plug on their ailing father’s dream.

Penny decides to stay for a little while to figure out what to do. While she is still going back and forth from Virginia to Colorado she finds that she has a passion for the new foal born shortly after her mother’s death. Penny fires the trainer who has been scamming the family during her father’s illness and hires Lucien Lauren (John Malkovich). Lucien had retired but after some coaxing takes on the young horse. Penny sees in Lucien a man who is good but more importantly, desperately needs a “win” in his life. It’s amazing how someone who carries a pocketful of newspaper clippings of his failures reacts when given one more big chance!

Named Secretariat by the farm’s secretary, because a big race was coming up; he needed an official name and no one could decide what to name him. Everyone still called him Big Red, even his fans. There’s lots of speculation about him being a short distance runner only, but “Big Red” proved them all wrong. He went on to win the Triple Crown! The last of the three races, the Belmont Stakes was the longest and the hardest of the races, yet he won it by 31 lengths; a record that has not been matched in the 37 years since.

So, I wondered about Secretariat as I’ve wondered about a few others, like Lance Armstrong. Does God, once in a while create a Job or a Lance or a Big Red, or does it come from being placed in a situation where we are given the tools, the nurturing and the grit to excel?

Secretariat is a wonderful, well cast, family movie. After doing some research I learned that there was some literary license taken with the story but the result was the same—Big Red was gifted with guts, heart, determination and as we all eventually experienced, endurance.

As always feel free to give me your thoughts and opinions at

Everyday Style: “Shapewear”

The thought of wearing a corset or an old-fashioned girdle is unthinkable in the year 2011, but just say the word “Spanx,” and women get a look on their faces like they’re in on the best secret ever. They smile and nod their heads, “Oh, yeah, I know what you’re talking about.” If you don’t know, then keep reading. Shapewear has become one of the most important components of a wardrobe. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there and working wonders. Here are a few foundation essentials:

  • If your last bra fitting is a distant memory, then it is time for another. A professional bra fitter, available at most department and bra specialty stores, can put your girls where they should be; at the midway point between your shoulder and your elbow. The center of your bra should touch your sternum, and the closure should fit comfortably at the middle set of hooks. The most basic bra in your drawer should be a t-shirt bra—one that has a smooth fit, without lace or fussy details that create bumps. Make sure it’s nude colored as white is unpleasantly visible, especially under a white blouse or t-shirt.
  • Everyone knows that a VPL (visible panty line) is a fate worse than death, mostly because there are so many products on hand that alleviate this affliction. If a thong is not your scene, then a laser-cut boy short or panty can provide coverage without revealing its whereabouts. The laser cut pieces have no elastic bands at the leg or waistband, and provide a smooth, clean line. If you’d like more coverage, a shaper (most commonly, the brand, Spanx) in a bike short style, or one that goes down to the calf, are great options.
  • The term “muffin top” refers to spillage of mid-section flesh over the top of jeans, and no one likes to see it or have it. An industrial strength camisole, worn under your blouse or body-skimming top, will magically lessen rolls, and since it usually comes in a longer length to tuck in your slacks, it won’t roll up your tummy. Problem solved.
  • Another favorite product, created by a couple of East Bay curvy girls, is The Perky Lift ( This all-in-onesie smoothes back fat bulges and muffin tops, supports a sagging bust-line, and eliminates VPL…and it’s pretty to boot! Full-busted women love the wide straps that ease shoulder pressure, and the “down under” front closure makes trips to the Ladies Room easy and sanitary.
  • Gentlemen can also benefit from shapewear. Wearing a compression crew neck t-shirt or tank will firm the chest (no more “man boobs”), slim abs, and provide extra lumbar support. Fabrics are lightweight and comfortable, and some are even treated to wick away perspiration. Men should get to experience the “joy” of shapewear, just like we do, right, ladies?

ALIVE August 2011
If you’re not convinced that these products are as comfortable as they are revolutionary, I challenge you to try one on. Who knows? You may convert, and wear them daily as many women (and men) do. They are available everywhere, at all price points. My only suggestion is: Go up a size …that way, they’re a little easier to get on and off. At least, that’s my experience!

Poof! You’re healed! Exploring Class IV Laser for injuries and post-surgical healing

In 2004, Align Healing Center began using laser therapy to help patients relieve their muscle, joint and nerve pain. Due to the near miraculous results that laser can provide to a sprain, strain or chronic pain, our patients began to ask “what else can laser help heal?” Wondering the same thing, we began to branch out and use laser on any and all injuries and wounds that our patients were presented with. We have literally watched the healing process occur right before our very eyes. Swelling reduces within minutes, severe bruises dissipate with no visible sign within a day or two and surgical wounds become painless, with minimal scarring and redness. We have had patients that have had knee surgery and hip replacements, shoulder surgery, spinal surgery, breast augmentation and reconstruction, rhinoplasty, face-lifts and c-sections that heal in a fraction of the time typical without the use of laser therapy. If you are intending on having surgery or have a stubborn injury that has taken longer to heal than you would have expected it is worth your while to explore the benefits of Class IV K-Laser therapy.

How Laser Therapy Speeds Tissue Healing
Injuries and surgery cause tissue damage and inflammation which reduces the circulation to the injured tissue thereby impeding the nutrition and energy available to the damaged area. Laser therapy is the application of low levels of laser light to areas of the body that have been injured or damaged. Therapeutic lasers do not cut or burn, but instead, supply energy to the body in the form of photons of light. Light is transmitted through the skin’s layers (the dermis, epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue under the skin). The wavelength of the Class IV Laser allows these photons to travel deep into the body; up to 8-9 inches. When laser light penetrates into the body, it stimulates damaged cells to start producing ATP. ATP is the “fuel” or energy source that all cells need to function and repair. When damaged cells have the energy they need to function properly they can immediately start the repair process. Laser therapy accelerates the healing of injured areas, decreases inflammation, and eliminates pain allowing patients to quickly return to normal activities.

How long does it take to work?
95% of our patients notice improvement after the very first treatment. However, some conditions may take a few treatments to respond. Each laser treatment is cumulative, meaning that each successive treatment builds on the previous. The doctors at Align personally work with you each visit to ensure that you are progressing as quickly as possible.

What People Are Saying about K-Laser at Align Healing Center

“I cannot thank you enough for the “miracle healing” of my knee! It was such a bad fall and yet after the first treatment I have never had any more pain and I have been able to be on my feet all day. Thank you so much for your great laser and your caring treatment.” J. Frank, Walnut Creek

“I’m entirely pain free this morning…You’re a magician!! I’ll encourage my patients to consider laser therapy for their pain. Thanks again.” Dr. Navolanic, MD

“6 months after my hip replacement I was still in debilitating pain when I walked any distance. After K-Laser therapy I am able to live a normal life, which for me includes hiking and biking without pain!” J. Franco, Danville

For more information about how laser therapy may be helpful to you contact Align Healing Center to schedule a free consultation (925)362-8283. Visit us on the web at

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness for 11 years. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit

Season Beauty Updates: Fall Wake-up Call

Revive Your Wardrobe and Brighten Your Face

With the changing seasons I always look forward to the new color palates. It’s a way to have a fresh new start and exciting to try some new colors. Some of us get bored using the same color make-up and some of us just like to stick to the same cosmetic style. If you are one of those people that love change and like to try different trends in make-up then take advantage of the fresh new looks. If you haven’t changed your look since high school, it might be time for a fresh new start, because this season is beaming with great new looks. It’s time to update!
This season brings us a brand new style in eye application techniques and creativity. Cosmetic palates are equipped to make the eyes sultry, big and gorgeous. Using colors with nude tones and rich deep matte navy shades, the eyes will pop with delicate sophistication, but at the same time being real and natural. Delicate nude pinks are in the forecast, combined with soft, shimmery taupe’s, for contour and defining the eyes. Applying Meteor (Dark Green with shimmer) eyeliner on top, it will enhance the eye giving it depth, beauty and a youthful look. Adding a layer of sparkle will give the eyes a beautiful effect and enhance your “ahh” appeal for drama and a radiant glow. Dark navy mascara is back and they are here for the bold, “ooh la la” lush eye effect.
This fall cheeks are smooth and glowing. Light pink blush shimmers are on the horizon as this year’s most popular shade. This stroke of genius takes your complexion from dull to radiant in seconds. Bronzers continue to be a staple for California girls to keep the skin looking fresh and warm. The sun kissed look is always in season. By adding a beautiful highlighting pink blush it will give your skin that nice dewy smooth glow.
Latest lip textures have Vitamin E and Vitamin C added to the formula. It is a treatment that you can wear daily, to build power and fullness to the pout and it will give the lips more hydration. Lip colors are bold this season. Many shades of reds are in the forecast this fall, along with beautiful plum tones and juicy pinks. Lips glosses are perfect to give you a finished look. Use glosses that are bold with sheer color, like reds, plums and bold pink tones. They are trendy and fun!
Make-up should be fun, exciting and bring out the creativity inside one’s soul. With years of experience and having an eye for color and the love and appreciation of art, we pride ourselves in giving each and everyone their own personal look and experience. We help choose styles that fit your own personal lifestyle, whether it be ultra natural (maybe one eye shadow color and a gloss) to a Modern Trend-look, Vogue Chic’, or Full-Out-Glam-Run-way look.
Fall trends start August 17th and anytime you are ready. So make your appointment today and discover what cosmetic wardrobe is best for your style.