Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gimme Some More S'mores!

While I grew up in Armenia, I've heard of this American classic childhood treat. I just never tasted it as a kid. But if I did, it would be hands down my favorite food! Mmmmm

Over the weekend, when we were hanging out in a cabin in Big Bear, my cute niece Karina and her boyfriend, Ara (yes, she already has a boyfriend!) thought that we've got to have S'mores.

Traditionally made over a bonfire,  we made it over our own mini-bonfire... a.k.a a fireplace! Well, toasting marshmallows at home is not the best idea but it certainly is possible. We just had to be very careful to keep Alex away from the fire (which he did not mind - he likes keeping himself away from trouble... so far).We also made sure to use a real wood log. It is not a good idea to toast marshmallows over some kind of fake log - who knows what chemicals were used to treat it!
Young and energetic Karine and Ara drove to the nearest market and came back with all the necessary ingredients.

In case you don't know, here's the shopping list:
Graham crackers
Marshmallows (and skewers, of course - using fingers to toast marshmallows is never a good idea!)
Chocolate bar (milk chocolate is more preferable than dark chocolate because it melts better. But since we LOVE dark chocolate, that's what we chose.)

Instructions are easy:
Split the graham cracker into two halves.
On top of one side of the cracker place a chocolate bar square.
Toast the marshmallow.
Now place the marshmallows on the chocolate and put the second half of the graham cracker on top of the marshmallow. Give it a few seconds so the chocolate would melt.
And then I got smarter and sandwiched the chocolate bar between TWO toasted marshmallows. Yes!
Hmm. There is something about fire that attracts us to gather around it, sing songs, talk, laugh, eat S'mores...  What a perfect night! Feel so lucky to be able to spend it with people I love.

Oh, and last but not least ~ there is a National S'mores Day celebrated in the U.S. every August 10th. Who knew? It is always a wonderful idea to celebrate S'mores!

xo, Zuma A.

I posted photos from the trip on Facebook, check them out, leave comments, and like if you like :)) xx

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Unbeaten Paths: The Hidden Jewel Of Big Bear

Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and started your week with renewed enthusiasm.

Today I am so happy to share with you the unexpected discovery that I made over this weekend.

Last Friday, my family and I were off to the mountains for our annual trip to Big Bear, California. We have been going there (or to Mammoth Lakes) every January for twenty years already!

While I don't necessarily like living in a cold climate, I don't mind spending a weekend in the snowy mountains. (Yes, we are spoiled here in Southern California.) This year, however, it was clear that we won't get to see snow since So Cal was blessed with 80 Degree weather for the entire month of January!

So what to do in Big Bear if there is no snow?
The slope looks pretty sad for this time of the year.
I hope that February weather will bring a generous amount of snow supply!
At first, we did the usual - walked around the lake, hiked a beautiful trail, bowled... and then we went to the zoo. Yes, Big Bear Alpine Zoo, located right at the very bottom of the ski slope! Did you know there is a zoo there? I didn't. Luckily, my friends Mary Ann and Art, who love exploring unbeaten paths told me about it. Thank you!

Honestly, I am not really a big fan of zoos, but this one is different - it's more like an animal rescue and rehabilitation center. 90% of animals that are being brought to this center are able to get back to the wild. Amazing, right? And the rest 10% of  animals that have to be put to sleep for either a bad injury or a bad behavior are being brought here and, if they cannot be released to the wild for one reason or another, they find their home at this zoo.

The zoo is very small and lacks budget, so it doesn't have any fancy landscape. It's more like a mix of Big Bear's wild life in a a typical Big Bear setting of tall pine trees and unpolished, low budgeted roads.
The insider tip: walk around the zoo will take no more than an hour, so come at around 2:30 in the afternoon and stay for a feeding tour at 3. The tour is free, and, while you will watch the animals eat, you will be treated with stories about them, their abilities and habits, and the very important tips on how to survive meeting them face to face. So if you come across a wolf in the wild, you will know exactly what to do to survive and what not to do. They say that turning around and running away is a bad bad bad idea. Now you know. I may have saved your life! Yeah!
Apparently, bobcats, while they look cute and fluffy, can take on animal 4 times its size! Consider to be warned!
And we got to see them eat a big dead rat. Yuck! 
There are quite a lot of wolves in this zoo. Did you know that wolves howls have different meanings?
This was not only my first meeting with real life wolves, but also I listened to their howl. So loud, so soulful, so wild!
Three little bears. Ok, not so little. The one on the left is 950 pounds.
Bear claws are no joke, I tell you. 
So if you ever come across a grizzly bear (the one with a hump), you have to play dead. But if you come across a black bear (the one without a hump), you better fight and run uphill in a zigzag line. Bear will follow, but, eventually, will get exhausted and give up. 

I feel so much smarter already! I learned so many cool things and heard great tips (hopefully, we will never have to use them!)

Tomorrow, will tell you all about making S'mores!!!! M-m-m

xo, Zuma A.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Zennn... How To De-stress. Lesson 1

I had a crazy week last week - I had to do tons of work for my day job and blog, I had to drive Alex around to his activities, I had to read through my new health insurance terms, I had to start putting things together for taxes (yes, its time!), and, meanwhile, the empty fridge and the very dusty house just drives me crazy. It's just too much.

So yesterday I decided to take a day off and work on my new video (did I say a day off?).

Well, the video was about a very appropriate topic: How To De-Stress, Lesson 1. I so needed it!

Here what I came up with:

To shoot the second part of the video, my entire family and I drove to Laguna Beach. Such a beautiful place! And here are some more pictures from my amazing "de-stress spot".
Whenever I feel stressed, the first thing I do is I get out of the bubble to clear up my mind. I go somewhere nice, close to nature… and breath.  I concentrate on breathing, close my eyes, and let the breeze clear up my mind of all thoughts - good and bad. Empty my head and feel the moment. Just be.  This is such a happy place.
I always remind myself that I should always have time for this! My happiness should be my priority. A happy person is a better mom, a better friend, a better worker. Better everything!
By the time it was 4PM, we got very, and I mean, VERY hungry. So we walked to our favorite spot in Laguna Beach, and had pizza and beer. Oh, so good!
 Everyone were very quiet on the way home... and very full.
Please leave your comments - I would love to know what you think about this post and what you do to de-stress.

Thank you so much for spending your time with me. 

xo, Zuma A.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

zFashion Thursdays: It's Not Personal, It's Business, Or Is It?

Whenever I go shopping, I always call my mom on the way back and tell her what I got - she loves clothes, and, as you can see, she is the one responsible for giving me my fashionista genes. But whenever I tell her that I got a cute t-shirt or a cute little dress, she always asks: Anything for work? (Maybe she asks because she is so proud of me for becoming an attorney.)

No, mom! Nothing for work. I mean, I work to live, I don't live to work (or is it vice versa?).

My point is, that I would rather spend the money on clothes for my weekend adventures, not work.

Anyways,  I do have to admit that she is right - as much as I love getting into my jeans and t-shirts, I can't wear them to work... and I do have to work.

So today's fashion post is about the business wear. But no suits, sorry. They kind of suffocate me. So usually, I wear either a black dress (I have a few), or black pants with silk blouses or shirts. And to cover my shoulders, I grab a cardigan instead of a jacket.

And I am proud to say that I am pretty reasonable when it comes to spending on clothes. Mixing pieces from ZaraAnn TaylorVince Camuto, or Michael Kors give me the opportunity to save money on the more important things - shoes and handbags, of course.

Before I show you this week's look, I have to give a shout out to my photographer - my Honey. After I came back from LA, I dragged him to an office center near Irvine Spectrum, put the camera into his hands, and asked to take photos. Thank you Honey! 
 I love the flowness of a silk blouse. It is feminine, soft and pleasant to the body. Zara silk blouse. (similar here)

Ann Taylor is a great place for pants and cardigans. I get quite a good "mileage" out of them. (similar here)
And Tory Burch Handbag. I love this bag! I can put there my files, computer, snacks, snickers, make up, and camera, and still have space for anything else I can think of I need... or not.
These are my favorite Tory Burch booties (sorry they are old, but I found similar ones here). 
Swarovski crystal pendant and a gold chain.
Have a fabulous day!

xo, Zuma A.

Zara silk blouse. (similar here)
Ann Taylor pants. (similar here)