Weekend Getaway in Big Bear Lake & Fall in Los Angeles

Since this is the first new post in the newly created section of my blog, “Flight Log,” I’d like to share the inspiration behind it. (Older posts in this section were categorized differently in the past, but I’ve included them here in this redesign as an archive).  

The “Flight Log” section of this blog is inspired by a beautiful book I recently read, and highly recommend, West with the Night by Beryl Markham, the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America.

The book begins with the name of a place from her flight log, which paints a picture of adventure, exploration, night flights alone over Africa in the 1930s (she was a solo freelance pilot transporting mail, medicine, and people), tents set up in remote areas, and wonder.

She refers to her log throughout the book, and that leads to romantic nostalgia for the reader, nostalgia for long-lost times and places and what might have been.

Though my adventure, travels, and exploration will likely be nowhere near the level of Markham’s, this is my flight log of sorts, a space to gather photography and notes from places I visit and events I attend, and who knows what else.

Here, my log starts with a weekend getaway to Big Bear Lake, two hours east of Los Angeles. The small mountain town (population 5,200) offered a perfect fall retreat, with foliage-lined roads and cooler temperatures. I’m grateful to friends who suggested and planned this getaway. A big group of us rented a cozy home with a great deck, yard, and kitchen (through Airbnb).

Morning in the yard.
Minjay enjoying the new smells.
Golden roads.
We did a short hike at Castle Rock Trail, which my friend recommended. Beautiful views (like the photo on the top of this post).
Loved the pine cones on the ground.
Twilight from the deck of the house we rented.

On Saturday night, I sat on a black wooden rocking chair on the porch, underneath a warm fleece blanket, and looked up at the stars, thousands more than I would normally see in the city. I stared at the shadow of the milky way and remembered stargazing on my balcony in Lebanon when I was fifteen. It brought to mind this sentence I love, written by Noah Hawley in his novel Before the Fall:

What if instead of a story told in consecutive order, life is a cacophony of moments we never leave?

 

Morning view.
Farewell walk around the neighborhood.

There’s nothing like being in nature and staring at the night sky that makes you want to live deliberately, to try to create more good, deep moments for your collection.

For me, one way to do that is to make the most of each season. I created a small list of to-dos for myself to appreciate fall in Los Angeles.

1. Fall weekend getaway. √

2. Seek out foliage on hikes and walks with Minjay. √

3. Bake and enjoy pumpkin treats. √

I can recommend Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice bread and muffin mix, pumpkin chocolate chip scones at The Trails Cafe if you’re in Los Angeles, and this great recipe for Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo.

4. Seek out different neighborhoods for morning walks with Minjay that have great Halloween decorations. √

5. Go to an event that celebrates all things fall. √

Ever since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been wanting to go to a live taping, but didn’t get around to it. I finally reserved a spot for a taping on the Universal Studios lot of Home and Family, the morning show on the Hallmark Channel that really goes all in for the seasons. It was fun to watch the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a morning show and check out the decorated set in person.

Kimberly Williams- Paisley with the hosts Debbie Matenopoulos and Mark Steines.
DIY pumpkin goals.

 

What are some ways you make the most of fall where you live?

 

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California Fall (Superfood!) Salad Recipe — Easy & Quick

pomegrenate-avocado-salad

“A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.” ~Pat Conroy

When I came across this quote on Instagram a while back, it really resonated with me. Poetic. True. It puts into words the deep meaning food can have for so many people, be it related to our childhoods, places we’ve lived in, places we love, or good times with friends.

This past Saturday, all of these things came together. During a weekend trip to Silicon Valley, I visited an old friend from Boston. She had made a delicious meal, including roasted colorful carrots, delicious vegan eggplant patties, quinoa with sweet potatoes, and lemon chicken wings. But what really stood out to me was the salad she made. I couldn’t get enough of it.

First, it had pomegranate in it. I know that’s pretty common in the U.S., but when I was growing up in Lebanon, salads were decisively salty. As a result, I don’t usually like fruits in salads. This was definitely an exception, especially because the pomegranate was always a special fruit growing up. Of course, we only had it once a year when it was in season– and we usually got it from the garden of our old family home in the country that we went to on weekends. I still remember the tree and how delighted I would be when the fruits appeared on it when I was a kid.

Second, the salad had avocado in it, (which was a really nice contrast in both texture and flavor to the sharp pomegranate seeds). We had been laughing all evening about the particular foods we eat in California (avocado, kale, etc., etc.,), and how our loved ones who don’t live here tease us about our eating habits.

Third, a simple dressing of olive oil and vinegar complemented the ingredients perfectly.

I didn’t even think about what a healthy salad of “superfoods” it was until I recreated it yesterday for my book club. So, so good. So, so simple. And so, so easy. I had to share it on this blog.

Iram’s California Superfood Salad

spinach-salad-recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 large avocados (3 small)
  • 10 oz spinach (I recommend buying bags of pre-washed baby leaves from places like Trader Joe’s. Makes it so much simpler).
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Seed the pomegranate. Yesterday, convinced I had been doing it wrong all along because it felt too onerous and complicated, I Googled “easy way to seed pomegranate” and found this great video:

Peel and cut the avocados. Again, Instagram taught me a simple, quick way to do it that I’m very proud of:

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-46-57-am

Wash the cucumber, slice it in half and then cut into small pieces.

Toss all the ingredients together. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt. Ta-da.

superfood-california-salad-roasted-rainbow-carrots-michelle-chahine-sinno

Bonus:

I also was inspired to roast multi-colored whole carrots like my friend did on Saturday:

  • Scrub the carrots well.
  • Toss in coconut oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 400 F for around 40 minutes, turning them over halfway.

And I finally tried out this amazing, simple Pumpkin Alfredo recipe that I had found, again, on Instagram (which is clearly so good for food tips!), and highly recommend.

Book club fall dinner This Is Where You Belong Melody Warnick
All so simple to prepare, yet was such a great fall dinner.

Here’s to good seasonal food shared with friends!

 

 

P.S. Can we discuss for a moment how beautiful these carrots are? Our natural world is amazing.

roasted-carrots-colors