OCTOBER, I’M BACK!

Apple picking, fall

Hello guys!

After being absent for quite a while, I’m so happy to say that I’m back for fall! A new season is a promise of so many possibilities and new adventures, and you know what really puts me in a fall mood? Apple picking!

Last weekend I got my plaid shirt out of the closet and visited an apple orchard for the very first time. Now I totally understand why so many people are obsessed with it – it’s the perfect way to kick off fall! My family and I headed out to a lovely farm located in a little town in Wisconsin, and we had an incredible day. The sun was out and the air was crisp but yet warm since it rained the day before. It was amazing to be able to savor the scenery, to step on crunchy and colorful leaves, and to capture the moment with pictures. However, my favorite part was when I jumped up on Dan’s shoulders and risk my life to pick up the best ripe apples (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic here, but I was seriously convinced I would have an epic fall when I was up there). I’m actually not a big fan of apples – or any typical fall recipe that contains the word “pie” or “cinnamon” in its title really -, so I’m still trying to figure out what to do with so many of them (any suggestions?).

After the adventure in the orchard, we went to check out the farm’s market where we picked up some fresh vegetables and Dan and my in-laws enjoyed a fresh cup of cider and homemade apple cider donuts. It was such a wonderful time. Now I can’t wait to go to a pumpkin patch!

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Yael Serena

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

Apple picking, fall

pumpkins, fall, halloween

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Happy fall everyone! 🙂

 

feet from shore

CAN YOU PICTURE A WORLD WITHOUT COLOR?

colors, flower, nature

Have you ever thought about how different your life would be if you couldn’t see colors? Can you imagine a world without them? Probably not. I’m sure if I ask all of you to do the exercise, most will picture a world that is equivalent to living in a black and white television, where there is not much variation and everything looks plain and boring. But think about it one more second… aren’t different shades of black, grey and white colors too? The absence of color is an impossible concept to imagine for me, even if I try it with all my might. Color is always on something, but we often take it for granted and miss its wonders.

What would the world be like without the magic colors of a rainbow? What would the world be like if people weren’t black, brown, yellow or white skinned? Would diversity exist without color? What would the world be like if we couldn’t see the bright blue of the ocean or the sky? Would the horizon exist? Would we appreciate the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset? What would the world be like without the color of the flowers? Would mother nature be so wonderful? Would we able to enjoy the following colored photos?

There are many things we would not be able to experience fully if there were no colors. They make our lives much more interesting and diverse, and today, I’m just grateful for not having to live without them.

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

 

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

colors, flower, nature

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colors, flower, nature

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.”

– John Ruskin

Happy Veterans Day!

 

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PALOS VERDES, the best-kept secret of LA

Palos Verdes, California

Last weekend my friends and I went to visit Palos Verdes – a place you only see in postcards. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the LA area, not many people know about this little heaven on earth, which makes it the perfect place to go and relax all day. The ocean views from the lighthouse are breathtaking, beaches are absolutely gorgeous and in clear days you can even see Catalina Island shinning along the horizon. I really want to go back, take the ferry and visit that island all day long. Palos Verdes is also a good place to go hike down the rolling bluffs and beaches falling into the sea that surrounds the peninsula. I can’t wait to go back soon, plan a potluck date with my international friends and do some more exploring!

Oh, this little peninsula also has a gorgeous Botanical Garden that we had the pleasure to visit. This place was huge, and there were several themed areas: rose garden, japanese garden, cactus area, mediterranen garden, and some other names I can’t remember. There was even a small lake in the middle with some ducks hanging out there. It was already late when we arrived at this place so we didn’t have enough time to visit all the gardens; but being surrounded by beautiful flowers was the perfect way to end an amazing day.

Finally, I don’t want to forget to mention that the other day was the first time I met one of my favorite bloggers in person! Julie is a Belgian girl who is currently working as an aupair in Redondo Beach and also loves photography. Although she’s a Nikon user (grrr!), we have a lot of things in common and we got along just perfectly! She couldn’t have been cooler, funnier or more beautiful, and we spent about four hours talking, exploring Palos Verdes and practicing our photography skills.  She’s a lot of fun, go and check out her blog to know more about her!

Palos Verdes, California

Palos Verdes, California

Palos Verdes, California

Palos Verdes, California

Cacti are beautiful plants, but also dangerous… This is me plucking out some cactus thorns from Nico’s hands.

Palos Verdes, California

Palos Verdes, California

Palos Verdes, California

botanical garden

Here there are some pictures I took at the Botanical Garden. I’ll be posting more in the next few days, stay tuned! 🙂

Flowers, Botanical Garden

Flowers, Botanical Garden

Photography

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Fall

Flowers, Botanical Garden, Purple

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, International Friends

Have a nice day!

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH & CREAMED SPINACH GRATIN

Butternut Squash recipe

In search of the perfect autumn recipe? Stop looking then, you just found it! Last weekend Dan and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up our Halloween pumpkins, but as usual we ended up spending a lot of time inside the store grabbing a bunch of stuff that we really didn’t need (like Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix –> so good!). Anyways, we were walking through the aisles when we saw a little stand with some samples of their Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin. I don’t know if it was the lack of breakfast that morning or what, but that recipe hit the spot. It was so delicious, and last night we decided to look up the ingredients and make it ourselves. Definitely a 10 out of 10! This recipe needs to be in your life, especially if you love vegetarian friendly recipes.

Butternut Squash & Spinach Gratin recipe

ingredients button

  • 3 Ibs fresh spinach, or 3 (10-ounce) packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
  • 3-5 tablespoons vegetable/olive oil for greasing pan
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Ibs butternut squash, peeled, quartered, and seeded
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

directions button

1. Cut squash to separate bulb section from solid neck section, then cut pieces lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Cutting butternut squash can be difficult because the squash is dense and hard, so be careful with your fingers. We put the squash in the microwave for 5 minutes to make the process easier. Also, chop a medium onion and a few gloves of garlic.

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

2. Bring 2 inches water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Squeeze cooked spinach to remove excess water, try to get it dry.

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

3. Add 3 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium low heat, then cook onion and garlic, stirring, until softened. We also like to cook the squash a little bit so it gets extra soft, but you might skip this step if you like. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and heavy cream, stir to combine.

 Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

4. Preheat oven to 400°F while you’re preparing squash and spinach mixture. You can layer squash and spinach in baking dish using the same technique as lasagna, but in our case, we mixed all the ingredients together, placed them in the baking dish, and served the finished product over white rice. Add your cheese selection to the mix and sprinkle top layer with Parmesan grated cheese.

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

5. Bake until squash is tender and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, cook white rice to serve with the Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin.

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin

Here you have a fantastic recipe to impress your guests during fall evenings. Go ahead and try it out, you won’t regret it!
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BACK TO COLLEGE DAYS

UCLA campus

I’ve got a thing for American college campuses. Every time I visit a new city one of the first things I check on the map is if it has a great campus to walk around. I’m not sure if it’s because they remind me so much the first time I came to the States and all the great experiences I had during those four months of my life, or just because they are beautiful places in general.

Often times I found myself thinking about how different my life would have been if I didn’t chose to do my exchange program here a couple years ago – where would I be right now? With who? Would my dreams be the same? It’s crazy how little decisions can change the course of our lives and turn our world upside down when we less expect it.

Living in the States with an American boyfriend was certainly not in my life plans; and if somebody would have asked me to guess my future some years ago I would probably have come up with a million things except that one. I guess that’s one of the reasons why life is so exciting – you never know what’s next to come! You can have an endless list of future plans and guess as much as you want, but the truth is that nobody assures you that things will go the way you imagined… and sometimes that’s for good.

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UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

I can’t believe it took me so long to visit UCLA campus, it’s gorgeous. We laid down on the grass for a while and admired the beautiful library buildings that were right next to us. I love that the campus has a lot of green space, definitely a perfect place to sit under a palm with a great book in your hands.

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

UCLA campus

Have a great day!

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MISSING FALL IN CALIFORNIA

California in fall

Yesterday I mentioned that I was happy to live in a place where summer never seems to come to an end. For me there’s nothing like wearing a pair of denim shorts, a bright tank top and taking a stroll along the beach with my feet in the ocean (maybe the title of the blog gave that away?). It’s nice to go outside and feel like you’re still on vacation, but don’t take me wrong – I miss autumn so much.  I can’t help but feeling melancholy every time I see people posting fall foliage pictures and fashion layered outfits.  I have adoration for this color-rich season, and here’s what I miss the most about fall in Los Angeles:

1. Jumping into piles of golden leaves

2. Seeing autumn orange colors everywhere

3. Wrapping myself in a scarf and a warm cozy sweater

4. Wearing Uggs

5. Smelling the crisp morning air through my open windows at dawn

6. Everyone is so healthy so you feel bad eating Halloween candy

7. Carving pumpkins isn’t the same when it’s 85 degrees outside

8. Walking down the street inhaling the smell of fresh foliage

9. Curling up in front of a fireplace with a hot bowl of soup

10. Seeing kids stepping on all of the crunchy leaves that fall from the trees to the sidewalks

11. Keeping myself warm with a cup of hot chocolate

12. Taking deep breaths to cool the lungs while I’m running outside

13. Being given the chance to miss hot weather

14. Snuggling up in cold sheets

15. Sitting out in the park watching squirrels and birds harvesting the fresh fallen acorns

Fall in California

Fall in California

For those of you who are used to well-delineated seasons, what are the things you like the most about autumn? For those of you who live in a one-season place, what are the things you miss the most about this time of the year? What are the things you do to make your house feel autumnal?

Have a nice fall day!

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