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. √

Morning walks in October. #morningswithminjay #halloweendecorations #flashesofdelight #happier2017 #santamonica #socal

A post shared by Michelle Chahine Sinno (@michellecsinno) on

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?



Travel, Unplugging & Photos

Wander Far Dream Big

I’m about to embark on a three-week adventure in Europe (Yay!), and I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between enjoying my photography hobby, saving and sharing some memories from my trip, and being in the present moment.

Taking beautiful photos is something I really enjoy. It’s about creativity, capturing a moment in time, and how you see the world from your own perspective.

“With a camera in my hands, I feel like I have the power to stop time.” Matyas Sarvardy

I did suffer from taking too many photos at one point, but I think I’ve since mastered the impulse of taking a photo per minute (or second! Sigh).

Also, as Gretchen Rubin always says, saving some memories from special occasions and trips  can greatly add to your happiness during and later on.

I also think that sharing special experiences with family and friends can heighten your own enjoyment of it, if done in the right way.

SO, I’ve been wondering, how do you enjoy taking photos and sharing them, without overdoing it?

When it comes to taking photographs on a trip, I think the key is to keep your camera/smartphone away for the first few minutes— the first few minutes in a new place, at a new spot you are touring, etc… Take it all in, look around, and then allow yourself to take a handful of really good, thoughtful photographs.

When it comes to sharing them, I think sharing one photo a day — a lot like the popular one-line-a-day journals, will leave a trail of your journey behind without keeping you on your phone the whole trip. I think it helps to choose a specific hashtag for Instagram (that isn’t used by others), or set up an album on Facebook, so that they are then one collection you can enjoy looking back on.

So that’s my plan! Starting tomorrow, I will share ONE photo every day on Instagram from my trip with my hashtag #WanderFarDreamBig. I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover, what I’ll photograph, and then look back on it all when I return on September 26th.