I love vacations. All through June and July I’ve been longing to get away, and felt frustrated by the responsibilities preventing me from traveling afar.

Tatjana & Jewels on vacation

Tatjana & Jewels on vacation

Okay, so I did attend a long weekend family reunion in Lake Tahoe, and it was fabulous! Gondola’s up to Olympic Villiage, zip-lining for the braver family members, picnics at my cousin’s stunning home in Squaw valley, dinner cruises, and full moon lit night walks by the lake.

Lake Tahoe family reunion, and yes those are all my cousins and then some

Lake Tahoe family reunion, and yes those are all my extended family and I couldn’t even fit them ALL in!

However,  that wasn’t a long enough break to satiate my wondering gypsy spirit. Then I realized just how much I take my own little corner of the world for granted…

Throw traffic to the wind

Throw traffic to the wind

… so I decided to throw traffic to the wind, and try to see Los Angeles through the eyes of a tourist again, or at least get out of my usual routine, and experience a staycation with the few hours I could steal away.

Picnics, concert, and fireworks in the Palisades for July 4th

Picnics, concert, and fireworks in the Palisades for July 4th with Yvonne Weisengrund

It all started with a 4th of July celebration with my friend Yvonne. We opted for the gourmet food trucks and picnics in Pacific Palisades complete with concert from the local all-stars cover band (they reside in the Palisades)  featuring singer Johnny Kaplan, Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen, Foo Fighters and Wallfowers keyboardist Rami Jaffe,  Rick Rosas on bass, guitarist Christopher Thorn, and Jesse Greene on violin, plus some spectacular fireworks.

Beach vollyball, relaxing by the pool, and being silly with friends

Beach vollyball, relaxing by the pool, and horsing around with 24’s bad guy, Michael Wincott

Followed by invitations for beach volleyball, lazing by the pool, and just plain being silly with friends over al fresco dinners. Then when I learned my honeymooning cousins from London would be staying at my favorite hotel in Santa Monica ….

Brunch with my honeymooning cousins in Santa Monica

Brunch with my honeymooning cousins in Santa Monica

… I quickly invited myself to brunch at Casa del Sol. Nothing like eating lobster club sandwiches overlooking the ocean with the lovebirds.

LACMA with artist Millie Brown

LACMA with artist Millie Brown

I found all that relaxation can work up a major appetite for inspiration and culture, so it was off to LACMA with artist Millie Brown for a day of Alexander Calder and James Terrell followed by sipping fresh coconut milk at Vegan Glory.

Summer Concerts at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl – one of my favorite venues in the world in my own backyard

Furthermore, it just wouldn’t be summer without enjoying some music at the Hollywood Bowl! Or having a lazy lie-in snuggled with Daisy before walking up to Larchmont Village for breakfast at Sam’s Bagels and a poke around the Farmers Market….

A lie-in, bagels, and a stroll to the farmer's market with Daisy

A lie-in, bagels, and a stroll to the farmer’s market with Daisy

… to find the ingredients to replicate a fabulous summer salad the caterers made for the lunch by the beautiful little pond framed by mountains  at my cousin’s place in Squaw Valley. You know me, whenever I try something new, I have to break down the flavors in my mouth, so I can come home to write my own rendition of the recipe. Will you be taking a staycation or vacation this year? It really can be a joy to rediscover parts of your own town that you take for granted – tell me what you’d rediscover about your hometown in the comment section below.

Zucchini & Kalamata Salad

Summer Zucchini  Salad

This is a delicious, fresh summer salad to accompany just about any grilled fish or meat you desire. Or, you can serve this salad on it’s own as a yummy yet very healthy lunch.

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
3 large zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, chopped (you could substitute lemon zest)

1). In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, chives, and a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2). Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat well in dressing.

Serving Suggestions: Serve cold with any grilled fish or meat on the side.

Variations: Try using finely crumbled Feta instead of the Parmesan, and chopped pistachios in place of the pine nuts.

Note: You will need a mandolin to slice the zucchini this thin and uniformly, but some very careful knife work will do the trick too.

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  • July 29, 2014
    11:42 am

    I’m afraid it’s a staycation for me. It’s too difficult to travel with my legs being so unpredictable, but that’s okay. I’m visiting art sites on the computer, there’s a nice place to go for coffee and a muffin not to far from where I live and my faithful Molly Cat keeps me company all the time. So, I can’t really complain. I’m taking on watercolours as a new field to explore and plan to make some jewelry over the summer and tuck it away as gifts for friends during the holiday season. Plus, I can always use a little more bling in my life, even if I have to make my own. Hoping to make some beads with Japanese paper in the next while. Add to all this that I was elected to the Board of Directors for our building and I’ve got a full plate for someone who doesn’t work. Here’s hoping I fit everything in and keep enjoying all that I’m doing. Sending hugs to you Jewels and include Ms. Daisy. You’re both long distance members of my extended family.

  • July 29, 2014
    11:45 am

    Awww, you and all my PCA members are my extended cyber family, Ruthee – love our community to bits.