Category Archives: Life Lately

Life Lately Meal Plan

I Need to Get Back on Track

What a crazy month it’s been!

I’ve traveled a bunch, we got engaged (!!!), Travis’s sister visited, I celebrated one of my best friend’s weddings, and I attended a bunch of events for both work and my blog.

I won’t lie, it’s been FUN, but I have had my fair share of indulgences this month — way more than usual.

Cinnamon Crunch Donut from Sidecar Donuts & Coffee in Santa Monica, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My ideal healthy lifestyle is all about balance. I aim to workout 5 times a week and eat healthy 85% of the time, leaving the other 15% to allow myself to splurge a bit and just live it up.

Recently, I’ve really been slacking my on diet and because of that, I’ve been feeling super sluggish at the gym. I’m glad I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon with my workouts, but I know that if my diet was better then I would feel way more energetic while working out.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich from Hollywood Burger in Hollywood, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Now that things have calmed down a bit and we have a lot less travel planned, I’ve set myself a few healthy goals for the next few months:

  1. Plan and buy groceries for at least 4 dinners every week. I know that meal planning is one thing that really helps to keep me on track, so I need to be better about planning specific meals as opposed to just winging it when I get home after a long day.
  2. Cut down on that vino! Sure, work is crazy and at times I can be pretty stressed, but having a glass of wine every night isn’t going to fix that. During the week, I am going to swap out my glass of wine for fruit-infused water or green tea and leave the wine for weekends and special events. I know the wine is also contributing to making me feel sluggish in the mornings, which leads me to my next goal…

Rose from The Anchor in Venice, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

3. Work out 5-6 days a week. I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with my workout schedule, but there have been plenty of mornings where I skip my workout because I would prefer to sleep an extra half hour or I tell myself I have too many other things to do. No more excuses — make fitness a priority.

I need to get back on track with my worksouts ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

So keeping with my healthy goals, here’s this week’s meal plan:

Monday: Pizza Spaghetti Pie (Never tried this one, but the reviews are raving!)

Tuesday: Maple-Mustard Salmon + Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad –> Man, I love summer fruits!

Wednesday: Turkey Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze (Love this recipe and I haven’t made it in so long!) + Roasted Broccoli

Thursday: Out with friends

Friday: Grilled Skirt Steak + my favorite Extra-Crispy Roasted Potatoes

 

I am focusing my meals around protein and vegetables with some healthy complex carbs mixed in.

Alright, off to the gym now. I hope you guys have a great start to your week!

Life Lately

We’re Engaged!! And This is Our Proposal Story…

As promised on Monday, I am back today to share our engagement story!

We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Two weekends ago, Travis and I went to Philadelphia for his 5th year college reunion. For those of you who are longtime readers, you’ll remember that Travis and I met at the University of Pennsylvania when he was a senior and I was junior. We had a long distance relationship for a year, when he graduated and moved to Los Angeles for a job and I was still a senior at Penn. After I graduated, I moved out to Los Angeles and we lived separately for a year before moving in together in Santa Monica.

Okay, back to the story!

When Travis first mentioned wanting to go back to Philly for his 5th year reunion, I told him that I didn’t need to go with him because I wanted him to be able to celebrate with all of his college roommates who he doesn’t see that often. Travis insisted that I should come along, but I didn’t think anything about it because his reasons made sense. Neither of us had been back to Philadelphia since my college graduation four years ago and we have so many favorite spots in Philly that we both wanted to revisit.

Travis did all of the planning for the trip. He rented an Air B&B in Philadelphia so that all of his college roommates could stay in a house together again. This is another reason I was not suspicious. This wasn’t a romantic getaway, I was bunkered up all weekend with a lot of guys!

We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

On Saturday morning, Travis said he wanted to head to the Penn campus a little earlier than the rest of his friends so he could film some of the festivities on his GoPro. Now, if you know Travis, you’ll know that he takes that tiny camera everywhere with us, documenting all of our trips and events, so again, nothing was out of the norm here.

We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Once we arrived on campus, Travis suggested that we get our photo taken in front of the famous sculpture in the middle of the campus that spells the word “LOVE.” Everyone takes their photo in front of that sculpture, so there was a little bit of a line. When it was our turn, we asked another couple to take our photo and once they were done, I started to walk away. But all of a sudden, Travis grabbed my hand, pulled me back, got down on one knee and held up a ring. It was there that he asked me to marry him!
I was SO surprised! Actually, to put it frankly, I was in complete shock! At first I didn’t even say anything because I couldn’t believe what was happening — when I tried to speak, no words would make it out of my mouth (even though my brain was screaming “YES!!!”). Finally, he stood up, put the ring on my hand and told me that we actually had to hurry because he had a bottle of champagne waiting for us at a local restaurant about 2 blocks away. I think I said something like “Hold on! You just proposed! Can we slow down for a second?” but he said that we were 40 minutes late for our reservation (oops, my fault — I was very slow to get ready in the morning, but he couldn’t have rushed me because I would have known something was up).
As we walked to the restaurant, I kept staring at the most gorgeous ring on my hand in disbelief! I was asking Travis one million questions: “Who knew?,” “How long were you planning this?”, etc.
When we arrived at the restaurant, the manager took us back to our table. Next thing I know, we’re walking into a private room and I see both of our immediate families standing there waiting for us.
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
THAT is when it finally hit me and I broke into tears. I couldn’t believe it. Travis pulled off the most incredible surprise – I had no idea any of this was coming. He planned an absolutely perfect proposal and the best day of our lives.
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
I was beyond appreciative that both of our families drove all the way to Philadelphia to see us for just a couple of hours — even with two tiny babies in tow!
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 I also can’t believe that everyone kept all of these secrets from me for so long!

We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
We had a beautiful celebratory brunch (although I could barely eat anything from all the excitement), and it was so nice to spend even just a few hours with family who I don’t see nearly enough.
After brunch, our families had to depart and we had to head back to campus to meet up with friends for more of the reunion activities. It was very hard to leave our families, but I know I will see them all soon enough.
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
Once we got back to campus, the word had spread and everyone was so excited to hear the story and celebrate with us.
Our friends tried to have us recreate the engagement (since Travis didn’t end up getting any of it on his GoPro), which just made us crack up the entire time.
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
We're Engaged!! And This Is Our Proposal Story! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
Words cannot even describe my happiness. I couldn’t have asked for a better proposal, and spending it with our families meant the most to me. I love Travis with all of my heart and I am SO excited to see what the future holds.
And just since everyone has been asking, no we don’t have a date or venue picked out yet. Right now, we are just taking in every moment we can to celebrate!
Thank you so much for reading and your congratulations on Instagram – you guys are the BEST!
XOXOX
Life Lately

Bessie and Her Many “Beds”

Alternative titles for this post:

Bessie the Bed Thief

My Dog Makes No Sense

My Incredibly Creative, Very Obsessive Dog

Since, it’s Friday (YIPPPEEEE!) I was feeling a very lighthearted post for today. I personally love when I get a little sneak peak into a blogger’s life, so I thought it would be fun to share one of the things that makes Travis and me laugh constantly around here.

Bessie has this thing where she likes to lay on ANYTHING that we put on the ground. Suitcases, Ikea bags, clothing, dirty laundry (ew, I know), you name it – she sleeps there.

Let’s get this straight, though. Bessie has some pretty damn comfortable beds. In fact, she LOVES her beds, but she also really loves making new ones.

I was inspired to write this post when Travis and I discovered her like this yesterday morning:

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

She had pulled the blanket off of our bed and placed it partially on top of her bed. Her back was resting up against a hard part of our bed frame, so there was no way that this could have been comfortable for her, but she stayed here for a solid hour. Total. Weirdo.

But you guys, this isn’t anything new.

Please excuse the incredibly blurry photo, but this is the day it all started two years ago. Travis came home, dropped his backpack on the floor and all of a sudden Bessie we saw Bessie leave her cozy bed to go lay on Travis’s bag. With a laptop inside, that backpack really couldn’t have been that comfortable, but…to each her own?

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Then there’s the time we got a big new Mac computer and Bessie decided that the cardboard box it came in would be her new hideout for the next few hours.

Forts are cool, I guess?

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sometimes it’s clothes, though. Do you guys remember this photo? It was the time I was trying to photograph some stuff for the blog and Bessie just had to be the center of attention.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

This dog is also obsessed with warm laundry out of the dryer.

Okay, honestly, I don’t blame her for this one. Laying in a pile of warm laundry on a chilly night might just be the best feeling ever.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

What’s not convenient, though, is the persistence to lay on top of clean clothes while we fold. Bessie I love you and all, but…dog hair.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

And getting dressed in the morning can sometimes take a little longer than usual. If I pull my sweater box out from underneath the bed, I can almost guarantee that she’ll climb in it.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

It’s the dirty laundry I don’t get it. If I sort laundry on the floor and walk away for a little bit she’ll make a new bed for herself.

Because what smells better than sweaty gym clothes, amiright!?

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Okay people, here is my favorite.

Whenever we pack for trips or come back from a trip and begin to unpack, our suitcases become automatic beds.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The first time Bessie did this to Travis we thought, “Aww that’s so sweet! She missed you!”

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

But then she continued to lay in the suitcases even after they had been emptied…

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.comBessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Oh, and don’t even get me started on trying to pack for a trip. Here’s a photo from last summer just after I had packed my suitcase for our trip to England. I spent a solid hour trying to pack all of my clothes for eight days into a carry-on suitcase. It was a serious struggle, but I did it.

When I was done, I stepped away for no more than two minutes to grab something from the other room, but when I came back into the bedroom, somehow all of my clothes were unfolded and jumbled up in my suitcase. I think we can all assume who the culprit was here.

And I mean I get it. She’s probably thinking, “You’re not going anywhere without me this time, Mommy!”

I definitely am sympathetic, but you’ve gotta admit that she’s totally nutso!

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

But it’s not just our stuff that Bessie selects as a new bed. Whenever we dog sit our friends’ dogs, Bessie loves to “test out” their beds. I guess she’s a girl who likes her options?

Bessie’s doggie friends sure are accommodating, though! Take a look:

Exhibit A: Not Bessie’s bed.

(Sorry Woody!)

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Exhibit B: Not Bessie’s bed.

(Sorry Sammy!)

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Exhibit C: Not Bessie’s bed.

(Sorry Bailey!)

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Exhibit D: CLEARLY not Bessie’s bed.

(We’re really sorry, Benny. You sure were nice to let her borrow your big king-sized bed, though.)

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I really hope that doesn’t make you think Bessie is selfish, because she’s far from it. Travis and I joke that she really just likes “testing out” other dog beds. And besides, if it’s in our house she might genuinely think it’s for her.

In the end, Bessie just wants to be part of all of the activity.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

She loves us unconditionally and if something smells like us, she’ll likely take it and lay on it because she is an absolute love machine.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

And as much as we poke fun at her bizarre tendencies, we love our little happy girl so, so much.

Bessie and Her Many Beds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The end!

 

Life Lately

An October Photo Dump

Oh mannnnnnn where has this month gone? October has been so busy for me.

– We’ve had a ton of visitors

– We had an ant infestation in our apartment (don’t even get me started on this one…)

– I’ve been working a lot

– I had an eye infection + Travis was really sick. Bleh!

– And it’s been ridiculously hot in Los Angeles.

Travis and I both feel as though we haven’t been very healthy the past month and we’re looking forward to getting back on track together. Because it’s been so hot in our apartment, we haven’t cooked as much as we usually do, which means a lot of take-out. While we try to get “healthier” take-out, it’s still not as clean as when we cook ourselves. Also, when we have visitors, we tend to eat out (and drink) much more than usual. And on top of it all, since both of us have had our share of illnesses, we haven’t been able to hit the gym as frequently.

This past weekend we did a BIG grocery run at Whole Foods and stocked up on lots of healthy meals and snacks for the week. We’re both looking forward to cooking more and we’re pushing each other to go to the gym every morning before work.

Whole Foods

To get this Monday rollin’ I am going to share a big old photo dump of recent pics from my iPhone.

Let’s go!

Travis dressed Bessie up to root for the Yankees in their last game. Sadly (for Travis), her jersey didn’t do much to help the team. Bessie has the same attitude towards sports as I do… she wasn’t even facing the TV the entire game.

Bessie

October in LA has been unbearably hot for everyone. It’s been 90+ degrees a majority of the time and all of us are wondering where the heck fall is. The mornings have been the best time to exercise because the temps are cooler. I’ve been lucky to catch some AWESOME photos of sunrises along the beach like this one.

Santa Monica

We’ve had a lot of events at work lately. On this particular day, I was photographing (and taste-testing!) new seasonal cocktails.

CHAYA Downtown Cocktail

My favorite twins (Liz and Becky) in town from the East coast last weekend! We rowed together in high-school and college (well, they rowed and I was their coxswain). Now that I live across the country, it’s rare I get to see them, so I was reaaaaaally excited for their visit. We had an awesome weekend together and packed so much into just three days. One highlight was sitting at the bar at Wally’s in Beverly Hills and tasting lots of awesome wines.

Friends in LA

On the Sunday of their visit, we took a road trip down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway).

Friends in LA

…And hopped out somewhere in Malibu to snap a photo together.

Friends in LA

The next day my parents were in town! YAY! YAY!

I took them to lunch at CHAYA Downtown Los Angeles (one of the restaurants for which I work). They both loved their meals and it was a blast “taking them to work” with me.

Mom and Dad in LA

My current favorite item on the menu at work: Salmon with Caper-Tomato Salsa, Lotus Chips, and an Arugula Salad. I could eat this every day. So flavorful and light.

Salmon at CHAYA Downtown

This weekend Travis and I INTENDED to lay low because everything’s been so busy, but I guess that wasn’t really in the cards.

We ended up doing a lot of stuff around the house: laundry, meal prep…and in Trav’s case, building a new desk.

Travis Desk

(Which he was very proud of).

TJ Maxx

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with TJ Maxx. I buy everything there: clothing, accessories, suitcases, home decor, dog beds, kitchen equipment, everything. The closest TJ Maxx is only 3 blocks from our apartment (YIPPPEEEE!), so I constantly pop in to see what’s new in stock. On Sunday I was in search of decorative storage options for our apartment.

I walked home with the most massive bag of stuff, which looked a tad ridiculous because I am so petite. I definitely counted that as my second workout for the day.

Bessie

A few months ago, I talked about Bessie’s egg bed and how she was obsessed with it. Unfortunately, it was recently torn in the washing machine, so I had to get a new one.

When I last posted about this bed, it was ridiculously priced on Amazon, but it’s since gone waaaaay down, so we bought a new one. For the record, we found the first one at TJ Maxx for only $19.99 (No I am not a TJ Maxx Brand Ambassador, but hey, if they’re reading this then YES I LOVE YOU!).

Dog owners – you seriously HAVE to get this bed. Your pup will thank you.

 

So now you’re all caught up! I hope you guys have a great Monday. I will see you later this week with a brand new recipe 😉

Life Lately

Recipes that Didn’t Make it.

Going to be 100% real right now. I make and photograph a lot of recipes that don’t make it to the blog. Why? Because not everything comes out as delicious and beautiful as I would hope. I sometimes spend hours cooking and photographing food that ends up tasting bland or frankly, disgusting.

Thank goodness for my trusty taste-tester, Travis, who can be honest with me about whether or not a recipe is blog-worthy.

I thought it would be fun to share some photos of recent “recipe failures” so you could see a different side of what goes on in my kitchen. So, without further ado, welcome to the gallery of recipes that didn’t make it to the blog!

 

Sweet and Sour Carrots

I am not exactly sure what happened with these carrots because a whole lot of delicious ingredients went into this recipe, but the end result was incredibly boring. If a side dish is going to take you a good 45 minutes to make, it better be worth it. Am I right!?

Sweet and Sour Carrots

 

Gluten-Free Brownies

I had high hopes for these brownies. I used PB2 instead of flour, hoping that I was onto a delicious gluten-free breakthrough. Unfortunately, even after cooling in the pan for hours, these brownies were SO sticky. After I attempted to cut them into clean squares, it looked like a tornado hit the pan.

These three little squares were the cleanest cuts I was able to get. The perfectionist in me was screaming! So even though these gluten-free brownies tasted great, I wasn’t about to post something that didn’t look like bake-sale perfection.

Healthy Brownies

 

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Let me start by saying that I LOVE this recipe. Like LOVE. So does Travis. We’ve made it one million times. But, when I finally went to photograph it for the blog, the auto-focus on my camera stopped working. Every photo was a blurry mess. #FAIL.

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Now that my camera is up and running again, I’ve been meaning to remake this for you guys. Maybe this weekend?

 

Frozen Greek Yogurt Bark

I’ve seen a bunch of recipes for yogurt bark on Instagram, so I decided to have a go at it myself. I must have seriously missed something with this one, because my yogurt bark turned out terribly. The bark was all crackly, plus one minute it was rock-solid and next it was a melty mess. What a disaster!

Yogurt bark masters out there, what the heck did I do wrong?

Greek Yogurt Bark

There you have it! As you can see, not everything turns out like rainbows and butterflies around here. It’s all about experimentation.

 

What about you? Any funny cooking disasters you want to share? But actually. Please share and make me feel better…

Life Lately

Weekend Recap

Hello friends! How was your weekend? Mine was great! We had plans to go away for a short trip, but our plans changed at the last minute.

It ended up being fine because we had an activity-packed non-stop weekend!

Friday night neither of us felt like cooking, so after 20 minutes of debating what to eat, we decided to head to The Misfit, our favorite local restaurant. We started our meal with a couple of drinks off the happy hour menu and then defaulted to a few of our favorite menu items.
The Misfit Santa Monica

Saturday morning Bessie woke me up VERY early by licking my face. I rolled over to find that she had stuck herself between our pillows, with her butt on Travis’ pillow. What a nut.

Snuggles

Saturday morning, after our respective workouts, we showered and headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Neither of us had been before and it’s been on our LA bucket list for quite some time.

LACMA

I am fairly certain my favorite exhibit was designed for children, but I was in awe. “Metropolis” was made up of many different “roads” and “buildings” designed to look like a city. Hundreds of tiny toy cars were speeding through the streets and it seriously looked like a miniaturized city. It was an amazing site to see!

LACMA

That night, we had dinner reservations at one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Tagine. We were last there for our anniversary back in January, so I was REALLY excited to go back.

Tagine Restaurant

I will spare you the REALLY dark and grainy restaurant photos I tried to take. Total fail – but the meal was incredible as always. I am in love with this 12-table restaurant.

 

Sunday morning I was SO productive. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am quite Type A and have trouble sitting doing nothing. I was on a “get stuff done” rampage starting at 6:45AM Sunday morning (I know, god help me) – which consisted of doing ALL the laundry and cleaning out my closet. I felt so accomplished when it was finished. I packed up a big bag of clothes to sell online through ThredUp (affiliate link).

In the afternoon, we headed to Los Liones Canyon for a short hike. Travis brought his GoPro to film our trek and we were both psyched to see this incredible view as we neared the top.

Los Liones Hike

When we got home from hiking, I was starving and devoured this bowl of Kashi cereal is less than one minute.

Kashi Heart to Heart

The rest of our lunch consisted of homemade turkey burgers cooked on the grill pan. So yummy!

I made a conscious effort to put my phone away after that, so this is where my photos end! Later that day we got massages (I told you it was a great weekend!), cooked dinner at home, and saw Trainwreck (which I loved!).

 

What was one highlight from your weekend? Have you seen Trainwreck yet?

Life Lately

Friday Photo Dump

Hi there! Happy Friday! We made it!

I am popping in this gorgeous Friday to share a recent photo dump. I am constantly snapping photos on my iPhone, but so many of them never make it to social media or my blog. So without further ado, here are a few very random photos I snapped throughout the last week!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

We took Bessie with us to New Jersey last weekend. When we go away, we typically leave her with friends, but this time since we were just staying at Travis’ house (rather than a hotel) we knew bringing Bessie wouldn’t be a problem. She’d flown once before with Travis last Thanksgiving, but traveling with a pet was new to me! I am proud to say that our little Bessie was an angel on both flights. We gave her half a Benadryl to make her drowsy, and that definitely helped. Towards the beginning of the flight, all she wanted to do was poke her head out and take everything in. It was adorable. We also lucked out that both women we sat next to on each flight were dog lovers, so they didn’t mind when I kept Bessie out on my lap.

Bessie United Airlines

The Sunday of our trip, we took NJ Transit into NYC to meet up with Travis’ siblings for dinner. We had plans to meet at ABC Kitchen (I was SO excited to finally try this place after hearing rave reviews from all my friends who live in the city). On our walk over to the restaurant, I stopped in front of a building that looked somewhat rundown, but very rustic, and said to Travis, “I LOVE that building! I would want to turn it into a restaurant.”

Well, lo and behold, that storefront was actually ABC Kitchen – it just had very minimal signage! Looks like someone had the same idea as me.

ABC Kitchen NYC

Our meal was INCREDIBLE. I tried the pizza, fried chicken and salmon. I honestly can’t decide which dish was my favorite. I wanted to eat #ALLTHEFOOD.

Dinner ABC Kitchen NYC

Given my obsession with Eataly, we had to stop at the NYC location again because it was walking distance from ABC Kitchen. I loved this sign they had right in the main entrance. We were in NYC the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, so the city was celebrating in full swing. I couldn’t get over these adorable pasta people – go Eataly!

EATALY NYC Pride

Fast forward a little less than a week was my friend Paget’s (in the middle!) birthday in Hollywood! I love Kelly and Paget so much – I have no clue what I would do without these two ladies in Los Angeles.

Paget's Birthday

On Saturday, July 4th, we BBQ’d at home. Afterwards all I wanted was ice cream. I NEVER eat ice cream because I am semi-lactose intolerant, but I was having a serious craving. Travis and I went to Beachy Cream up the street because I knew had dairy-free ice cream.

To make it even better, Beachy Cream even had FREE doggy fro-yo, so of course I grabbed a cup for Bessie. At first she didn’t know what to make of it, but when she finally got in there, she looooooved it. I had to take it away from her before she devoured it all. Sorry Bess!

Doggy Fro-Yo

I couldn’t help stopping to take in the scenery during my run yesterday morning. I was jogging on the path overlooking Santa Monica Beach and I was amazed by how calm and peaceful the beach looked. There wasn’t a soul in sight (not even any surfers that I could see). We gotta appreciate what’s around us, right?

Santa Monica Beach

 

That’s it from me! I hope you have a great weekend and I will see you early next week with some delicious new recipes!

Life Lately

Memorial Day Weekend in Numbers

Hello! How was your long weekend? Mine was an absolute blast, filled with friends and delicious food.

I haven’t done a weekend in numbers post in awhile, so I thought it would be a fun way to round up the weekend.

 

2: Inches cut off my hair on Friday. I was in desperate need of a haircut and I feel so much better (and lighter!) now. Erin, my hair stylist, has the sweetest dog, Gracie, who she sometimes brings to the salon. Gracie recently stayed with us when Erin went out of town, so she was especially excited to see me on Friday, knowing that I would rub her belly nonstop.

Gracie

 

3: Slices of Stella Barra Margherita Pizza I ate on Friday night. This was the perfect way to kick off the long weekend! Not pictured: a shared arugula salad, glasses of rose, and the MASSIVE chocolate chip cookie that Travis bought me after the meal. My tummy was quite content.

Pizza

 

12: (approximate) number of times I told Travis to throw out this grey t-shirt over the years we’ve been dating. He’s had it since high school, but insisted on keeping it (despite the massive holes) because it was incredibly soft. Saturday morning he finally gave in to my wishes and agreed to get rid of it. He then proceeded to tear the shirt into shreds…which we both found way too amusing.

Shirt

Any other ladies out there have to convince their guys to get rid of old clothing? What is it that makes them so darn attached?

 

2: Bottles of champagne consumed by four of us ladies during brunch on Saturday morning. We went to Courtyard Kitchen in Santa Monica (which I’ve mentioned plenty of times on the blog), and I finally took advantage of their BYOB option (no corkage fee!). We all loved our meals and we had SO MUCH FUN together!

Brunch

 

20: Minutes waited in line to get into The Bungalow in Santa Monica after brunch. I’d say this was a record because sometimes it can take up to two hours! Personally, I could never wait that long to go anywhere, so I was glad our group decided to get there early to hop on line before the masses.

The Bungalow

 

1: Matcha Green Tea Latte made by me on Monday afternoon. It was my first time making one at home and it was a great afternoon pick-me-up.

Matcha Green Tea

 

1/4: Pound burger grilled on Monday evening. I ate my burger on a gluten-free bun with caramelized onions, homemade date ketchup and guacamole. We also enjoyed some charred broccoli and pinot noir on the side. What a perfect way to cap off such a fun weekend!

Burger

 

How was your MDW? Did you grill? Tell me one delicious thing you ate!

Life Lately

Travis’ Big Birthday Surprise(s)

If you’ve reading for awhile, you know I love surprising people. Remember the time I surprised my brother for his birthday, or my dad back in February, and the majority of my family, just last month for Passover? It’s safe to say, I got my dad’s love of surprises.

Well a few months ago, I knew I wanted to make Travis’ birthday in April extra special. I started reaching out to his family and friends on the east coast, trying to arrange a surprise visit for him in LA. I was able to lock in his sister, Justine, who flew to LA from NYC on Thursday (Travis’ actual birthday). We were both SO giddy in the car when I picked her up from the airport. We kept debating whether or not Travis had any clue she was coming.

A few days prior, I’d reached out to one of Travis’ coworkers to see if she could figure out Travis’ schedule that day. Justine and I wanted to show up to his office and surprise him. The timing worked out that Justine landed when Travis was grabbing lunch with a few coworkers, so we decided to just crash their lunch. We snuck into the restaurant where they were eating, and walked right up to Travis. He just stared at us for a few seconds, completely STUNNED. It was an awesome moment. After a few hugs and lots of laughter, we stayed and chatted for a bit with Travis and his coworkers. After,I drove Justine back to our place and Travis and I both went back to work.

Travis and Justine

That night, we went out to dinner to the Misfit, one of our favorite places in Santa Monica. With the menu changing seasonally, we never get bored of this place. It was a delicious meal, but even better because Justine was with us.

But Justine’s visit wasn’t the only surprise in store for Travis this weekend. For months I’ve been planning a big surprise party with all of Travis’ friends. The party was set for Saturday night at a bar in Santa Monica, just walking distance from our apartment. All of his friends were in on the surprise and I was SO GLAD that no one let it slip over the course of the last few months.

Let me just say that Travis gave me more than a few panic attacks about his birthday. About a month ago, he told me that he wanted to do a big party and rent a party bus (something one of our friends had recently done). I tried to play it cool and told him that was a waste of money and we should think of something else. He pushed me for a bit, and then luckily I was able to change the conversation to something non-birthday related.

Earlier this past week before Justine arrived, he told me that he wanted to invite a bunch of his friends out on Saturday night and reserve a table at a bar. Again, I told him that was a waste of money and unnecessary. I felt like the LAMEST girlfriend ever, telling him to NOT make plans on his birthday. Man, I am mean. I just didn’t want him putting down a deposit on something that he couldn’t take back! I still did everything in my power to make sure he wasn’t suspicious about my plans.

On Saturday, the day of the surprise, my goal was to keep Travis as busy as possible. I thought if I kept him distracted, he wouldn’t be thinking about our evening plans that much. All he knew was that the three of us (Travis, Justine, me) had dinner reservations and afterwards we were going to meet our friends Kyle and Kelly at the bar, Copa D’Oro in Santa Monica.

Our morning began at the vet for Bessie’s checkup. We were glad to hear that she is as healthy as can be!

Bessie Vet

After the vet, we both hit the gym and then I sent Travis to get a massage (one of his birthday gifts).

My plans to keep him distracted pretty much failed. As soon as he got back from his massage, Travis started texting a few friends to see if they wanted to meet up with us after dinner. Little did he know, all of these friends were going to be at the bar waiting for him after dinner…

They all did an amazing job throwing him off, and told Travis they had alternate plans (family dinners, double dates, movies, etc.).

So that night Travis, Justine and I went to Rustic Canyon, a seasonal kitchen and wine bar in Santa Monica, at 6:30PM. Originally, I thought that the time was perfect because I had told all the guests to arrive to the bar by 8:30PM.

Dinner

Well, I was wrong.  We had a problem. The food came out SO fast. Justine and I did what we could to eat slowly to kill time, but Travis, oblivious to our plans, ate as quickly as can be.

Rustic Canyon

We even tried to convince him to order dessert, knowing very well Travis doesn’t care for cake. So after dinner, we drove home to drop off the car. Justine and I started trying to stall Travis any way we could. It was only 7:45PM! Justine pretended to go fix her makeup while I prepared dessert.

Since Travis doesn’t like cake, I stuck a candle in a stack of Almond Butter Cookies I’d made for him a day before. Everyone needs to blow out a candle on their birthday, right?

Cookie Candles

After, I tried convincing Travis we should have a drink at home before we went out. Nothing was working. He just REALLY wanted to leave. He was very eager to go celebrate with Kyle and Kelly.

Finally, I received a text from Kelly saying that everyone was at the bar ready to go, so I told Travis and Justine we should head out. When we were one block away from the bar, I stealthily texted Kelly to warn her. We walked up to the bar’s entrance, showed the bouncer our IDs, and let Travis walk in first. He walked STRAIGHT PASSED our group, so I had to yell “Trav!” to get him to turn around.

Here’s the video:

It’s dark, but you get the idea!

 

Unfortunately, this is the ONLY picture I have from the night. I was 100% NOT in blogger mode, and my phone stayed in my purse the whole night. I wish I captured more, but it’s safe to say that it was a blast.

Surprise Party

I had Copa D’Oro create a custom cocktail menu for our group. It was a big hit! The most popular drink on the menu was the Travbone, a pineapple Mojito. Justine came up with the drink names and Kyle and Kelly helped with the spirits and flavor combinations.

Cocktail List

I felt like I barely saw Travis the whole night because both of us were busy catching up with friends. When I finally did snag him near the end of the party, Travis kept asking me a bunch of questions about the planning process. He was so thankful and appreciative.

I can’t even explain the weight that was lifted off my shoulders the very moment everyone yelled out “Surprise!” All of the lies and scheming were kiiiiiilling me! I am so thankful for all of our amazing friends who helped plan such a memorable night for Travis. And a special thank you goes out to Hector at Copa D’Oro, who was a pleasure to work with since day one.

Sunday was sad when we all had to say goodbye to Justine. Having her here made me wish she still lived in LA. We all hated to see her go – including Bessie!

Bessie Justine

It was such a good weekend, celebrating with friends. It definitely makes going back to work on Monday a bit more difficult than usual.

I’ll make sure to pop in later this week to say hi to you guys! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more life updates!

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Life Lately Loving Lately

What I am Loving Lately

Hellloooo friends, happy Monday! I hope you guys had a great weekend. My weekend consisted of an early morning rowing practice, a fun date night out at a local wine bar, evening walks with Bessie, and some delicious recipe development that I will be sure to share with you soon!

I thought what better way to start a Monday than with a list of things I am loving lately. Feel free to play along in the comments below and let me know what new products, services, links you’ve been loving lately!

 

The Better Chip

The nice folks at The Better Chip, a Los Angeles-based company, sent me a box of various flavors a few weeks ago and I was SO pumped. I think Travis, being the true chip connoisseur in our house, was even more excited than I was.

The Better Chip

Before I even opened a bag, I loved these chips because of their ingredients. The list is minimal and it’s all stuff that you know and can pronounce.

The Better Chip

Another thing I love is that the packaging lists the nutritional information for one serving AND for the whole bag – so smart for people who struggle with portion control (ME!). These chips are crispy, salty, and still have that perfect crunch. They don’t taste like your typical “healthy” or “low-fat” chip. Out of all the flavors I tried, I would say the regular corn flavor was my favorite!

P.S. While these chips were gifted to me, these opinions are completely my own and I was not asked to write a review. I want you guys to know that I will always be 100% honest with you.

 

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bites

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bites

After work on Friday evening I was in a serious baking mood. I pulled a bunch of ingredients out of my pantry to make a new no-bake granola bar. The problem was, my bars weren’t really holding together after I cut them, so I decided to roll them into energy bites instead. This method worked perfectly! If you love peanut butter and you love trail mix, you’re going to LOOOOOOOVE these peanut butter trail mix bites. The contain peanut butter (wahoo!), mixed nuts, raisins, dates, and dark chocolate chips. Stay tuned for the recipe later this week!

 

ThredUp

I first read about ThredUp on Julie’s blog at the end of last year. I’ve been selling my name-brand clothes at consignment shops since college and it’s always worked out pretty well for me. The only annoying part is driving to the stores, waiting for them to go through your clothes and decide what they will accept, and only getting your money months later after the store is able to sell your clothes. ThredUp (affiliate link) changes ALL of that.

This is how it works: They send you a free “clean-out” bag that you fill with any items you want to try to resell through their website. Then you mail it back to them via FedEx (free of charge!). Once the bag arrives to their headquarters, they go through your clothes and decide which items they can resell. They will either donate the clothes they can’t resell (based on condition and/or brand) or mail them back to you (at an extra cost). I’ve had a ton of luck reselling items on their site that I was no longer wearing, so I’ve used that credit to purchase new-to-me clothes. You can also receive your money in PayPal form. Usually online shopping is difficult for me, given my petite stature, but ThredUp has soooooo many sizes and brands. I am able to search by my favorite brands (Banana Republic, Asos, J. Crew, etc.), special sizes (Petites, they even have XXS through plus sizes), and specific category. My second order from ThredUp arrived last week and again, I was so amazed by how well everything fit me!

ThredUp

When I began photographing my new finds for you guys, Bessie immediately thought these new clothes were for her… to sleep on.

PicMonkey CollageAny time we put anything of ours on the ground she lays on it. Backpacks, suitcases, reusable grocery bags…anything that smells like us! This girl is a nut, but we sure do love her.

 

This photo:

Leadership

I swear this is me as a five year old. Quick story: in Kindergarten I named myself “the Queen” during recess and I ordered all of the girls to chase the boys around the playground. You think that’s funny? Well, they listened! So yeah, I would say I’ve been practicing my “leadership skills” since very early on 🙂

 

That’s it from me! I hope you all have a great start to your week! I will be back mid-week with a delicious new recipe. Stay tuned!

 

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