Anticipating Motherhood

Who knew that sleeping in one’s childhood bed again would inspire a wave of deep thinking into the wee hours of the night? I’ve been “home” for three weeks now, and though my twin bed has lent me a comfort similar to that in decades past, sometimes it robs me starkly of slumber, letting my mind cascade from one apprehensive thought to the next.
Like now. Less than 40 days to go, and visions of motherhood leave me at once jubilant and nerve-wracked. Will I be able to soothe him? Will he embrace my steadfast commitment to nursing him? Will he be calm or colic? Will he resemble me? And the precursor to all this – how will I survive childbirth?
Since bygone days of university, I have been told about my strong maternal instincts. Looking out for friends altruistically; tuning in to their worries and woes; helping to assuage them with patience and a composed demeanor; doting on guests and visitors with fervent hospitality and whatever snacks flesh out my pantry.
For years, I’ve known that I w…

Dining Out in Southern CA: What's Hot & What's Not

Juggling prenatal doctor appointments, maternity classes, and shopping for baby, I’ve only had limited leave to pursue gourmet adventures in Southern California. Most days, I’ll toss a fresh salad of kale, spinach, crumbled feta, blueberries and pomegranate seeds – nothing like a nutrient-packed bouquet of produce to keep me energetic and hydrated in this parching weather.
Other days, the realization that I’ll soon be on indefinite house arrest hits me like an icy slap in the face. So after poring over the nutrition facts of an eatery’s menu, readily retrievable online, I prepare myself physically and mentally for a culinary pampering session. And out we go!
Red Robin has been on my radar since last year’s visit. Where else can you enjoy a delicious burger with bottomless fries, steamed broccoli or a house salad for under 10 buckaroos? Speechless? This place is worth holding your breath for!
The latest promotion features a lineup of four burgers at $6.99 each. And did I mention they’re …

Prenatal Diaries: Of Resistant & Ruthless Receptionists

It’d been less than 48 hours since I left humid Beirut for the sweltering heat of Southern California. I couldn’t particularly recall how hot a high of 43°C (110°F) could be, but a three-minute walk from the hospital to the onsite physician clinics inspired eerie reassurance that the admitting facilities were near. Forget maternity; I’d need treatment for a heatstroke.
To reinforce the rejection I’d encountered over the phone weeks ago, securing an obstetrician/gynecologist (OBGYN) proved to be a veritable nightmare. I visited a handful of clinical offices, attempting to set up an appointment as a new patient. But the first question with which I was invariably bombarded was, “what month are you?”
Elsewhere, the number 7 is a harbinger of blessings, a marker of good luck. Not in these circumstances, however. Almost as soon as I uttered the calamitous adjective “seventh,” the receptionist’s head would shake convulsively, as though I’d committed a grave sin. Some offices claimed the thresh…

Au Revoir, Beirut

Every time I find myself at Beirut International Airport, a torrent of feelings overtakes me. As locals, we constantly berate the country we live in, citing a hodgepodge of factors like traffic, pollution, economic stagnation, political backwardness, and the high cost of living.
But as soon as we depart from this little nation of 10,452 square kilometers, we start longing for Fairuz’ enchanting music, for a mankouche at the corner bakery, for the beautiful vistas to be had from any mountain perch, for a sight of the glistening Mediterranean. Our country of savages transforms into our country of life-loving pleasure-seekers who are perhaps the world authorities on hospitality and warmth.

On every trip to the US, which is where I’m headed today, I’m clouded with conflicting thoughts of “where is better?” I love that my destination of Southern California is sunny with blue skies and fresh air, void of humidity, and bordering the cool majestic waters of the Pacific. I love that prices are …

Dunkin Continues to Delight Beyond the Donut

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been participating in a unique campaign with Dunkin Donuts Lebanon. The aim is to capture and spotlight awesome customer service in action, which will eventually be rewarded with a prize trip to the most outstanding staff member.
How do I fit in? Think of me, and nearly a dozen other social media stewards, as a mystery shopper. I have the opportunity to visit outlets at will, interact with DD personnel, and watch my order materialize.
The upside, of course, is that I’ve gotten major exposure to the extensive menu at Dunkin Donuts, which, believe it or not, transcends America’s favorite pastry and the accompanying cup of Joe. You could literally waltz up to DD and have a picnic without ever coming near the donut (I dare you to!).

Here’s a quick tour of what the menu has to offer, comprising mostly permanent items and a few perhaps seasonal – we’ll have to see what becomes of the #DunkinMagic delights!
In the savory selection, cozy up to the bagel, a lifesav…

What Happens When You Schedule a Dream: Furn Beaino's New Central Kitchen

Three summers ago, mere days before my wedding, I stopped by Furn Beaino in Jounieh for the very first time. I’d heard and seen enough on social media to entice me to pass by the small bakery nestled along the inner highway of Sarba. There, Wissam Beaino, who along with younger brother Samer assist their father Toni in running the operation, greeted me with an infectious smile and a spiced meat pie tens of seconds later.
I would never have guessed that a single spiced meat pie, better known to locals as la7m baajin, would be the start of a solid friendship steeped in the mutual love of good food.
Furn Beaino has been serving hungry passersby for over 40 years, earning a blemish-free reputation as arguably the best lahm baajin house in the country. One solitary bite out of that crisp dough, spread meticulously with fresh finely minced lamb, tomatoes, onions, pepper paste and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
With every visit, I discovered a new item, but only after…

VOX Gold Gives New Meaning to “Dinner and A Show”

When your date invites you to dinner and a show, the evening’s agenda is pretty clear: grab a bite somewhere, and then head to the movies to catch a flick. Slightly more glamorous plans would entail a Broadway show, perhaps an opera, or even a ballet. But that’s the general gist of it. Two concrete activities – chewing and viewing – taking place discretely and consecutively.
You’d never imagine the two would be fused into one.
VOX Cinemas at City Centre Beirut did the unimaginable: they took a perfectly great concept, VOX Gold, and gilded it with even more glitter and glitz. 
Originally, you would have been more than content to curl up in the leather-upholstered reclining chair, outfitted with plush pillow and blanket upon request. The private lounge area and minimum age restriction ensure your séance will be smooth and serene. But a gourmet dining affair all while taking in the film? That’s like double prizes.

Indeed, VOX Gold recently rolled out a gourmet package priced at LBP 75,000 (…