Category Archives: Travel

Travel

Three Days in London

Hello! How are you guys? Can you believe it’s already Wednesday? I mean, thank goodness for Monday holidays!

This London post was SUPPOSED to go up last Friday, but as I mentioned, things have been quite nuts around here lately, so alas, here we are on Wednesday. Better late than never.

I took 1,389,457,343 photos in London, so in order to keep this post as concise as possible, we’re going to play a little game I saw on Tina’s blog: Three words per photo. Here we go!

Obsessed with Marks & Spencer.

LittleChefBigAppetite in London

Big Bus Tour!

Big Bus Tour London

Selfie on the bus!

Big Bus Tour London

Gorgeous London architecture.

IMG_2387

Cocktails for lunch! (At Nopi)

Nopi London

Lunch at Nopi.

Nopi London

The famous Harrods!

Harrods London

Harrods Food Hall.

(Breaking from three words to just say that I was OBSESSED with the Food Hall. I would happily move in if they let me. Like in one of those food cases would be totally fine. Preferably the one with the pastries.)

Harrods London

Chocolate for days.

Harrods London

Trips on the Tube.

The Tube

This little cottage.

(JK – that’s Westminster Abbey.)

Westminster Abbey

Dinner at Gymkhana. (The BEST Indian food EVER.)

Ghymkana London

Naan for days! (Gymkhana)

Ghymkana London

A GoPro nerd!

Buckingham Palace London

Buckingham Palace Gardens.

Buckingham Palace London

Hello Mr. Guard!

Buckingham Palace London

(Obligatory) Buckingham Palace selfie!

Buckingham Palace London

Delicious brunch spread.

Brunch London

I spy a castle.

London

Dinner at Clos Maggiore.

(The most gorgeous restaurant setting I’ve ever seen / had the pleasure of dining in).

Clos Maggiore

Heeeeeey Big Ben!

Big Ben London

Bye, Kensington Hotel!

Kensington Hotel London

Landing in Los Angeles.

Landing in Los Angeles

 

I was SO sad to leave London. The entire time I told Travis, “I am moving here. I am so moving here.” Hey, if it wasn’t ridiculously expensive and even farther away from my family, I’d at least think about it.

Have a great rest of your week friends! Only 2.5 more days until the weekend :)!

 

Travel

Family Reunion in Skipton

Hi friends! Happy Hump Day! My week is moving pretty quickly, and I can’t wait for the long weekend. Work has been very crazy for me since I got back from my trip, so I am definitely looking forward to the extra day to catch up on life things this weekend.

In my last post we left off at the end of our short day in Amsterdam. The next morning we headed to the airport for a short flight to Leeds, England. Leeds is located in the North of England, about 40 minutes away from Skipton, where we were staying.

Map of Leeds England

My dad’s parents lived in Skipton and we used to visit them there when I was little. Sadly, we stopped going to Skipton as often after my grandparents passed away. In fact, the last time I was there was in 7th grade!

The whole point of this trip was to spend time in England with my dad’s side of the family (his brother, sister, and my cousins) just like we used to do many years ago. This family reunion in Skipton was SO important to our family because we live all over the world (Los Angeles, Boston, England, Paris, Spain, etc.), and we NEVER get the chance to all be together.

Leeds Airport

At the Leeds airport, we met my parents, brother, and sister-in-law who had all just flown in from Boston together. My dad drove us (he’s the only one with experience driving on the left!) to our house in Skipton.

Craven House Skipton

The house was perfect! It had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for all 15 of us to spread out throughout the week.

Since we spent six days in Skipton, I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty, but rather just show you a few highlights of our time there.

Skipton

We went to A LOT of pubs. Cock and Bottle was one of our favorites.

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Day trip to Kettlewell! For a city girl like me, it was amazing to be able to get so close to grazing sheep.

Kettlewell

How gorgeous is this view?

Kettlewell

Kettlewell

My little cousin Louis was hooked on his plastic iphone the entire trip. It was adorable.

Kettlewell

Funny enough, this photo below was NOT planned, but it was so, so perfect.

Louis Phone

Selfie with my beautiful Mamma!

Kettlewell

On the Sunday of our trip, we had an even BIGGER family reunion. We invited extended, extended family over to our rented house for a potluck lunch. These family members all live in England and many of us had never met before, so this was a real highlight for everybody.

2015_08 Skiptonade (180)

On my birthday, we took a day trip to York! My brother studied abroad in York during college and my aunt went to high school in York, so everyone had fun exploring their old stomping grounds.

York England

I haven’t been able to spend my birthday with my immediate family in years, so turning 25 was extra special because I got to celebrate with my dad’s entire side of the family. I love these people so, so much!

York England

On Wednesday we took a day trip to Bolton Abbey, another place we used to picnic as a family many years ago. The grounds are vast and GORGEOUS.

Bolton Abbey

 

Bolton Abbey

It’s a popular activity to make the trek across these rocks – we used to do it all the time when we were little. For some reason, I still found it terrifying 10+ years later. I am by no means scared of heights, but the stones were wet and I kept thinking I would slip. It didn’t help that I was carrying my DSLR camera, two iphones and two wallets in my jacket at the time. That was a silly thing to do.

Bolton Abbey

On our last night in Skipton the cousins took a group photo together. Trav and I are the nerds up there in the back. Heeeeeeey!

Cousins

The next morning Travis and I boarded the train from Skipton to London, the last stop of our trip. My whole family walked us to the train station (which was awfully nice of them). I felt like royalty with a giant send-off crew waving to us as the train departed. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to everyone because we don’t know the next time we will all be together again. I’m thankful that everyone took lots of photos, so we have great memories of our trip.

Train to London

——-> Check back in later this week to read about what we did, and most importantly, what we ate in London!

For more “life” posts like this one, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@littlechefbigappetite)!

 

P.S. Thank you to my Mom for letting me snag some of her amazing photos for this post!

Travel

Less than 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Hello, I am back! To catch you up, the last 10 days I was traveling through Europe. My dad’s side of the family had a big family reunion in the English countryside, where he grew up.

When planning this trip months ago, we quickly realized that flying from LA to Europe takes a long time, and there weren’t many direct flights that were budget-friendly. Many of the flights we looked at had layovers in Amsterdam, so we decided to make the most of a stop in a city neither of us had traveled to, by spending slightly less than a day there.

After at 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, we couldn’t wait to get to our room and clean up. All of the travel advice I read insisted not to take a nap for jet lag, so we listened, but man was it tough! We were EXHAUSTED, and the comfy hotel bed was calling to us. But we toughened up and set out for a day of sightseeing.
One Day in Amsterdam

Our first stop was the I Amsterdam sign because it was just around the corner from our hotel. We arrived right when street performers were starting a dance routine, which was fun to watch.

One Day in Amsterdam

I expected the sign to be crowded, but I had no idea it would be THIS crowded. We practically had to fight people just to get a photo with it.

One Day in Amsterdam

Next, per the recommendation of many friends, we hopped on the river canal cruise that takes you all throughout the city and allows you to hop on and off as desired.

One Day in Amsterdam

Everyone told us it was the best way to see Amsterdam and they were right! Plus, given how tired we were, we welcomed the opportunity to sit and enjoy the ride, rather than walk everywhere.

One Day in Amsterdam

The architecture in Amsterdam is gorgeous. Some friends and travel sites recommended we rent an apartment or houseboat on the canal, and now I can see why! Since we were only in Amsterdam for one night we decided to just get a hotel that was convenient to the airport and the major spots we wanted to see.

On a side note, we stayed at Hotel JL no. 76 and it was perfect for our needs. It was a modern boutique hotel right in the heart of the Museum district. It was easy to get to from the airport and there was plenty to do within walking distance. The rooms are small, but comfortable, and the prices are very reasonable. I highly recommend it.

One Day in Amsterdam

 

One Day in Amsterdam

In the middle of the river cruise, we hopped off so we could wander through Vondel Park.

(Travis was very excited about the opportunity to use his GoPro throughout the city!)

One Day in Amsterdam

It was a Thursday afternoon, but the park was packed.


One Day in Amsterdam

We saw many groups of friends and families laying alongside the lake. If we had more time, I would have loved to grab a few snacks and a bottle of wine and picnic outside. The setting was gorgeous.

One Day in Amsterdam

After our stroll through Vondel Park, both of us could barely keep our eyes open. 24+ hours without sleep is no joke people! We decided to head back to the hotel to take a quick nap before dinner. We only allowed ourselves about 40 minutes, but it was glorious.

We took the advice of our good friend Meredith and went to a rijsttafel (translation: rice table) for dinner. The concept sounded so intriguing to us: 20(ish) small plates of varying flavors, textures, and colors served with rice.

One Day in Amsterdam

We couldn’t believe the amount of food that we were served for a very reasonable 18 euros per person.

One Day in Amsterdam

One Day in Amsterdam

Look at all this food! From chicken satays, to pickled vegetables and fried bananas, EVERY SINGLE DISH was amazing.

One Day in Amsterdam

With every bite, we kept saying to each other, “Oh my gosh! Try this! This one is amazing!” Every plate was so delicious. If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam in the future, I highly recommend this experience. We loved our meal at Kartika.

Afterwards, we decided to walk off our incredible meal and stroll through the city some more. We both regret not having more time in Amsterdam because there was so much to do, see, eat, and experience. Even still, we were able to pack a lot into less than 24 hours.

We had an early flight to Leeds, England the next morning so we ended up calling it a night around 10PM. More about our time in England in my next post!

 

Have you been to Amsterdam? If so, did you go on a canal cruise? Try a meal at a rijsttafel?

 

Travel

How I Stay Healthy on Vacation

Hi people! I am leaving for vacation in England TODAY! Woohoo, I can’t wait! We booked this trip months ago and I am thrilled that it is finally here.

Before I leave, I wanted to share how I stay healthy on vacation. Personally, I hate reading vacation health tips that encourage you to run at least 3 miles a day or order customized meals of steamed veggies and grilled chicken at every restaurant you go to. I believe you should let loose a little bit on vacation! Heck, if we aim to be our healthiest selves the rest of the year, we deserve a little break once in awhile, am I right?

When I am on vacation, I aim to find a balance. I exercise when I can, eat healthy when I can, but definitely indulge and lounge around when I want to. My point it, you shouldn’t be spending your entire vacation thinking, “Is this healthy?” because that’s no fun!

Alright, without further ado, here are my tips!

 

1. Exercise before your trip.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, I highly recommend squeezing in a quick workout before you leave. When on a plane or in a car, you end up sitting in the same position for hours on end. No fun! If you can swing it, get in an early morning workout before your trip. Your body will thank you before you cram it into a teeny-tiny airplane seat.

 

2. Pack healthy snacks.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

Whenever I go on trips, I always pack my own snacks. I wrote this post last summer about some of my favorite healthy travel snacks. I never rely on airport or rest stop food because it’s typically unhealthy and way overpriced. A few months ago I saw a small Chobani yogurt priced at $4 at LAX, and needless to say, I was horrified.

Before we get to England, we have multiple stops and some long stretches of time on the plane. So to make sure neither Travis or I gets too hangry, I packed a boat load of snacks. Coming with us: Homemade turkey sandwiches for lunch on the first leg of the trip, Krave Jerky, Blue Diamond AlmondsKind Bars, Trail Mix, and organic apples.

Bet you wish you were sitting next to me on the plane, dontchya?

 

3. Bring a water bottle.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

I don’t go anywhere without a water bottle. In particular, I love my Bobble, because it filters the water as you drink. I never have to worry about filling up my bottle from a random water fountain or airport faucet.

I recommend bringing an empty water bottle with you through security at the airport and filling it up at a fountain near your gate. That way you’ll have water for your flight and a bottle to carry around with you during your trip.

 

4. Pack those sneakers! Exercise when you can.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

I always pack a pair of sneakers and at least one set of workout clothes with me while I am on vacation. Check to see if your hotel has a gym. If not, there are loads of equipment-free workouts you can find online. I love the Nike Training Club App.  If that’s not your thing, go for a run or a long walk. You’re in a new city for darn sakes – go explore it! You’d be amazed how many calories you can burn by just walking all day. Get your body moving for even just a small amount of time – it’s better than nothing!

One more tip – make sure to workout in the MORNING before sightseeing or laying on the beach. That way, you’ll get it out of the way and won’t think about it all day long.

 

5. Plan your special meals.

Tips to Stay Healthy While on Vacation

One of my favorite parts of going to a new city is researching restaurants I want to try. While I love a good indulgence, you guys know that I really do ENJOY eating healthy meals. So before my trip, I create a list of restaurants that includes both healthy fare as well as “treat” meals. Remember, balance is key. Enjoy your burger and fries guilt-free, but don’t let the rest of your day consist of pastries, pizza, ice cream, etc. All of that food will just make you feel like crap.

I want to really emphasize that it’s okay to eat “off-plan” or steer away from a super clean diet when you’re on vacation. If you stress yourself out about it, you’re not going to enjoy yourself.

 

I’d love to know how you guys stay healthy while on vacation. Do you do anything I didn’t include in this post? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Note: This post includes some affiliate links. I greatly appreciate your support!

Travel

Weekend in Chicago

I took lots of iPhone photos in Chicago. I was debating whether or not to bring my DSLR camera, and in the end I am glad I left it at home. With all of the rain we experienced, I would have hated lugging it around in addition to my raincoat and umbrella.

So instead of recipe photos, today I bring you a hodgepodge of iPhone pictures from last weekend in Chicago. As you can see, because of the rain, we mainly spent our entire trip eating…

Our first meal of the trip was Thursday night at Nico Osteria. The General Manager was the first person to stop by our table, and after telling him that we had no idea what to order (everything looked SO good!), he suggested letting him order for our table of four. It was the best decision and we felt like we got the royal treatment that night.

Nico Osteria

All of the seafood and pasta dishes were UNREAL, but what really stole the show for me was the complimentary dessert, brought to us by our (amazing!) server at the end of the meal. This cake was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was rich and indulgent, and I savored every single bite. I was glad we got to try it, because the server said they were removing it from the menu that week (they change their menus almost daily).

Nico OSteria

On Friday it rained and rained and rained, which was a bummer because we were hoping to spend the day outside.

Instead, we decided to find a great place to eat! Nearly everyone we asked for restaurant advice told us to go to Au Cheval for a burger. We arrived around 11:30AM on Friday, not having eaten breakfast yet and there was already a one hour wait. So while we waited for our table, Travis and I walked to Whole Foods down the street for a quick snack. By the time we were finished, our table was ready!

Au Cheval

We decided to split a burger, and man am I glad we did! Look at the size of this thing! Pro tip: get the fried egg on top – it’s heavenly.

Au Cheval

We were thrilled when the sky finally cleared up a bit on late Friday afternoon. It was the perfect opportunity snap a few photos of Chicago’s amazing skyline.

Chicago

Friday night we went to Siena Tavern and our group of 5 decided to split eight or so dishes amongst the table. That’s my favorite way to order because I get to try lots of different menu items that way.

I honestly loved everything we tried. One of my favorite dishes was this halibut. (Yay for more dark restaurant photos!)

Siena Tavern

Siena Tavern

Saturday afternoon our group took a long walk throughout the city and along the lake. It was a very foggy day, but we were just happy that it wasn’t raining!

Chicago

Friends

We also made an obligatory stop at Lou Malnati’s for a slice of their famous deep dish pizza. This was my second time having Lou’s and man, is it dense! Deep-dish lovers are going to hate me for saying this, but I honestly prefer crispy thin-crust pizza. Maybe it’s because I can eat more slices? #givemeallthefood

Lou Malnatis

Sunday, Travis and I had a few hours to spare before we had to head to the airport. Eataly Chicago was right down the street from where we were staying, so we had to stop in. We’d been to the Eataly in NYC and it was food heaven for both of us. I just can’t wait for Eataly in LA!

Eataly

At the airport Travis and I stopped at Potbelly’s to grab some food for our flight. It always seems like EVERYONE flying out of Chicago Midway also stops here. The line is always out the restaurant. It’s fair because it really doesn’t compare to typical airport food. We decided to split a big sandwich and salad and nearly inhaled them at our gate before our flight.

Potbelly's

We had the perfect food-filled weekend in Chicago, but we were excited to get home to Bessie and sleep in our own bed that night.

 

Have you been to any of the restaurants I visited? Do you prefer deep-dish or thin-crust pizza?

Life Lately Travel

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. This expo has been around for 35 years, and it is the world’s largest natural, healthy and organic products event.

I was hoping to share this post with you guys last week, but I think my blog got a little overwhelmed by the number of pictures I tried to include in the post, so I had to cut it down a bit. 😉

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I brought home SO MANY HEALTHY SNACKS from the expo. The entire time I was there, I kept telling my co-workers that I was in Candyland. It was pure heaven for this healthy-snack-obsessed-girl.

Every one of my favorite healthy brands was at the expo, passing out samples of some of their classic snacks as well as promoting new lines and flavors.

 

Below are just some of my favorite brands that were there:

Hope Hummus: Travis and I are hooked on their Spicy Avocado Hummus. I won’t tell you how quickly we finish a container because it’s pretty embarrassing. We get our Hope Hummus at Whole Foods and there were some new flavors at the Expo that I’ve never seen before.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Krave Jerky! GAH, I LOVE YOU KRAVE. I was never a jerky person until I tried Krave. I got hooked on it about two years ago when they were passing out samples at a local grocery store. (Clearly I love samples.) I used to think jerky was a “dude’s food,” but Krave has some pretty unique flavors, such as Chardonnay-Thyme Turkey Jerky, which don’t leave your breath stinky and your hands sticky and gross. Plus, this jerky is all-natural (duh) and not loaded with chemicals and ingredients you can’t pronounce.

If you’ve never tried Krave, I HIGHLY recommend it as a delicious protein-packed snack. You can find it at most grocery stores!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

JUSTIN’S. Oh man, you guys know how much I love Justin’s Almond Butter. When I saw their booth, I practically ran over to them and blurted out, “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU GUYS. I EAT YOUR MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER EVERY MORNING.” They laughed and made sure I went home with plenty of their new mini-sized peanut butter cups. The people who work for Justin’s are all SO nice. I kind of wanted to just hang out with them the rest of the day.

Hey, there is Justin, himself! How cool!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Some of the displays at the Expo incredible! The amount of money that these vendors spend just to set up their booths BLOWS MY MIND. Just look at this display from Bob’s Red Mill! They had their entire product line (flours, grains, seeds, etc.) on the wall. I wanted to just take the whole thing home with me.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Chobani also had a very cool setup. Their booth must have been the size of my apartment! In one section, they were passing out samples of their Chobani + Oat cups. On the other side,  they had an entire chef’s station where you could customize your own bowl of Chobani. I’ve never been to their Soho location, but I am sure this was very similar to what it is like there.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Even some of my favorite dog food brands were there! So, of course, I went home with some free samples for my little Bessie, as well.

Wellness Dog Food

 

At the expo, I also sampled many new-to-me products and learned a lot.

I couldn’t get over how many different kinds of matcha powders this company had on display! I thought matcha was just…matcha. Who knew!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Another company was pushing their “kale popcorn” – I mean can you think of a trendier snack? I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it that much – it tasted a bit “too healthy” for me, if you know what I mean.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

Bone Broth was a big trend at the expo this year. I am sure some of you know how much bone broth has exploded in the last year. It’s a delicious warm drink that is great for your immune system and it is very low in calories. Pacific had a very cool bone broth sipping station. You could sample 3-4 different bone broth flavors (chicken, turkey, etc.) and then add in some extra garnishes. I also brought home a cardboard carton of their chicken flavored bone broth.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

I could go on and on about all of the amazing displays and foods I tried.

Natural Products Expo West Recap

My coworkers were cracking up because my eyes would light up every time I saw a brand I loved. I also got very sample-happy. The shopping bag of samples I brought home was practically as big as me! Towards the end of the afternoon, I was getting pretty tired of carrying it around, but even then, I still didn’t want to leave!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

When I got home that night I laid out everything I collected on our kitchen table. Travis’ eyes grew larger and larger every time I pulled the next thing out of my bag. I felt like Mary Poppins! I think he’s just as happy as I am that I got to attend the expo because he’s been reaping the benefits for the last week!

Natural Products Expo West Recap

 

Before I leave you guys, I wanted to share a few tips for anyone planning on attending the Natural Products Expo West in the future. I was lucky that my boss has been attending for at least 10 years, so he was able to give me great advice before I went.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. This is A MUST – and that’s coming from me, who wears heels practically every day. I wore sneakers to this event, and my feet were STILL sore at the end of the day. There is SO MUCH WALKING and you end up carrying around heavy bags all day. Ladies, leave the high heels at home.

2. Don’t sample everything you see. If you sample everything in sight starting at 9AM, you’ll want to take a nap by noon. Trust me. Even when I took a sample from a booth, I would usually eat one bite and share or trash the rest. I know it sounds like a waste, but there is so much food at this event, that you have to prioritize. This is why having a bag is great – you can bring home anything you didn’t get to sample.

3. Make a plan. You won’t be able to go to every booth, so find out who will be there and decide which vendors are your priority. Save some time for booths you didn’t expect to stop at, as well.

4. Bring business cards. If you’re a retailer this is essential. Since I was attending for work, I passed out my business cards to every vendor I was interested in keeping in touch with. It’s a great way to put yourself in their system so you can stay on top of new products and promotions. On a side note, I haven’t been spammed by anyone since the Expo.

 

So that’s it! If you have any questions feel free to ask away in the comments section below. I have samples to last me until 2016 and I am already excited for next year!

Life Lately Travel

Weekend in San Diego

My parents were in San Diego for a few days last week, so on Friday afternoon I took the train from LA to visit them.

Train

I used Amtrak fairly regularly when I lived on the east coast, but this was my first time taking it out in California. The whole experience was a breeze and reminded me why I love traveling by train so much – no long security lines, LOTS of legroom, bigger seats, no turbulence, and on and on!

Ship

My parents met me at the train station in San Diego and together, we walked back to their hotel. We passed the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier on the way, which was seriously cool to see up close. It was HUUUUUUGE!

Petco Stadium

That evening we enjoyed dinner out in the gaslamp district and some warm cocktails on our hotel’s rooftop bar (which overlooked Petco stadium!).

Breakfast

The next morning we had breakfast at Richard Walker’s Pancake house. My mom ordered their famous German Pancake and we all GASPED when we saw the waiter carrying it over to the table. We couldn’t believe the size of it! I ordered a Mediterranean omelet with a side of buckwheat pancakes – YUM! Just like my mom’s meal, the portions they served me were massive. I wasn’t complaining because it was great fuel for our busy day ahead.

Balboa Park

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon walking around Balboa Park. It was supposed to rain, but luckily for us it held off the entire time we were outside!

Like LA, San Diego seems to be incredibly dog-friendly and you guys know I am all about that! I got so excited when I saw a large group of Greyhounds walking together through the park. Travis had his rescue greyhound, Tad, with him in college and I quickly learned to love this special breed. The owners walking the Greyhounds said that they meet up weekly because Greyhounds, in particular, love to be with their own kind.

Balboa Park

We also came across a tiny yorkie mix named Ridley, who reminded us SO MUCH of my parents’ yorkie-poo Diesel.  We stayed and pet him for a few minutes – I couldn’t get over how sweet he was.

Ridley

How beautiful is Balboa Park? We saw one couple getting their wedding photos taken by this pond. It was such a peaceful setting. If I lived in San Diego, I know I would spend a lot of time here.

Balboa Park

After Balboa park, we stopped to check out the famous “Unconditional Surrender” statue at the port.

StatueUnconditional Surrender Statue

Just so you get a sense of how large this statue is, I am as tall as the nurse’s shoe!

Hotel Del Coronado

Our Saturday afternoon ended at the famous Hotel del Coronado. When the hotel opened in 1888, it was the largest resort in the world! I couldn’t believe how beautifully restored this old hotel was – the grounds were immaculate and the decor was modern, but you could still feel the old charm.

Hotel Del Coronado

We enjoyed a late lunch together overlooking the hotel grounds and ocean. I ordered a roasted turkey sandwich with homemade white BBQ sauce on delicious brown bread. After all of the days activities, I didn’t even realize how hungry I was. I devoured everything on my plate in no time.

San Diego Beach

When the sun began to set, it was time for me to head back to LA on the train. My parents were catching a red-eye back to Boston that night as well. I was sad to leave them but thrilled that we got to spend a good 24 hours together while we were on the same coast! Unfortunately for them, my parents were heading home to even more snow in Boston! Eek.

 

Life Lately Travel

A Big Surprise

Weeks of planning finally led up to this weekend’s big surprise. With the help of my mom and brother, I flew home to Boston from Los Angeles on Friday to surprise my dad. My dad is the master of surprises and he loves nothing more than when our whole family is together, so it was great to be able to turn the tables and surprise him for once.

Travel

I took a red eye from LA on Thursday night and landed in Boston very early Friday morning. My mom picked me up from the airport and drove me into the city where we had plans to surprise my dad. His coworker was in on our surprise, which was very helpful because we never would have known his schedule or whereabouts without her assistance.

My dad was scheduled to be in a meeting for a little while, so my mom took me to my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a small bite to eat. After not sleeping well on my flight, this large coffee was very needed.

Dunkin Donuts

When we received a text message from my dad’s coworker that his meeting was wrapping up, we hurried over to the building, rode the elevator up to correct floor and snuck up behind my dad.

He was stunned! He said he had no suspicions about my visit, which meant our stealthy planning was a big success. After lots of hugs and laughter, my dad (unfortunately) had to go back to work for the day and my mom drove me home.

Family

Boston readers, I feel for you. There is SO. MUCH. SNOW.

Snow

The picture above was from the day I arrived. We had more snow over the course of my visit that now you can’t even see those patio table and chairs!

More snow

Because of the weather, a majority of the weekend was spent inside by the fire trying to stay warm. I loved eating lots of cold-weather foods such as this root vegetable gratin and balsamic-glazed turkey meatloaf.

Dinner

I was so happy I got to see my BFF, Amanda, for brunch at one of my favorite local breakfast spots, Johnny’s. Leaving Amanda always makes me so sad. If we lived in the same city, I know we would be attached at the hip.

Amanda

I also got to spend some time with two of my favorite four-legged friends.

Diesel, my parents’ yorkie-poo…

Diesel

…and Cooper, my brother and sister-in-law’s black lab.

Cooper

My flight back to LA was cancelled because of all the snow, so I got to spend an extra two days at home with everyone. Many people were probably frustrated with the cancellations, but I didn’t mind because two days (the original duration of my trip) would have been way too short!

We were seriously snowed in. Even after you plow the snow, there is no where to put it! Oy.

More Snow

I finally flew back to Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Boston Logan

After even more flight delays (waaah!) I was thrilled to see Travis AND Bessie in the car to pick me up from LAX. Bessie was so excited to see me, her tail didn’t stop wagging the whole way home. The 70+ degree weather when I landed was also a very welcome surprise!

 

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Dogs Eats Lately Life Lately Travel

Holiday Recap in Numbers

1 Stop at a vista point on our little road trip to Santa Barbara.

Vista Point

Vista Point

6 Failed car selfie attempts to get all three of us in the shot.

Selfie Attempts

7 Wineries and tasting rooms visited in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez.

Pali Wine Tasting

Les Marchands

 Unlimited amounts of beauty in Malibu during our drive back to Santa Monica on Christmas day.

 Malibu

Malibu

 2 Fortune cookies opened on Christmas Day. (Why are these never accurate?)

Fortune Cookie

1/2 of a Pastrami sandwich on rye consumed by me at the famous Langer’s deli in Downtown Los Angeles. We’d been meaning to check it out for over a year now and we finally got around to it on Saturday. It definitely lived up to the hype.

Langer's

Langer's

P.S. Mom, your Matzoh ball soup is better…but you probably knew that already!

Langer's

(Approximately) 27 Licks given to us from our first ever foster dog, Wally (also known as Killian on the blog). After our lunch at Langer’s we swung over to see him because it had been almost a year since our last visit!

Wally

We’ve been so lucky that we are able to remain part of his life! His mom sends us lots of photo updates and if you love cute doggie pics, I highly recommend you follow his Instagram account. Even though we now have a dog of our own, I will always have such a strong attachment to this little fluff ball.

Please note the hilarious Christmas onesie he is sporting – it is from Target and it comes with legs and all!

Wally and godparents

48 Degrees in both Santa Monica and Newton (home) on Sunday morning. Initially I thought there was something wrong with my iphone app, because this never happens.

Temperature

1 Beautiful sunset walk overlooking the Pacific ocean with Travis and Bessie on Sunday evening – a very special way to end a wonderful holiday week.

Sunset

Dogs Travel

Vacation in Boston

Hi friends!

The past two weeks I have been home with my family in Boston. I had some time before starting my new job, so I was able to spend a few weeks at home relaxing. I haven’t been home for that amount of time in over two years, so I felt very grateful for the time to relax and catch up with lots of family and friends!

Now that I am back, I am finally catching up on my blog. I decided to take a good detox from social media while I was home, so I could truly embrace every second there. Here are a few pictures from my time in Boston (and Maine) to catch you up:

Recipe Book 1

Recipe Book 2

My mom found this “resepy” book I must have made when I was in preschool. The recipe I chose to include was homemade peanut butter, so clearly nothing has changed.

School Book

The same thing goes for this journal entry I wrote for class when I was in first grade. Guess I’ve always been a good Jewish girl!

Dunkin Donuts

I always know I am home when I see glorious Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere. Dunkin’ is expanding to the west coast and they are opening a new location only a few blocks away from me in LA this month! Wahoooooo!

Farmer's Market

My dad and I took a trip to the farmer’s market in Kennebunk, Maine. Everything was so colorful and fresh. We brought home two big bags of fresh produce to cook with. There is something about farmer’s markets that makes me so darn happy.

Dinner by Dad

My dad turned some of what we purchased into a few delicious meals. It was such a treat to be cooked for and occasionally just play sous-chef.

Rococo Ice Cream

My family stopped at Rococo Ice Cream in Dock Square, Kennebunkport. We heard it was one of top ten ice cream shops in the country, so we had to try it!

Rococo Ice Cream

They had unique flavors such as “Smokey Blueberry,” “Molasses Ginger Snap,” “Strawberry Basil,” and “Speculoos Pretzel” (shown in the cone above). If there hadn’t been a long line behind us, I would have asked to sample every flavor. Everything I tried was outstanding and I can definitely see why it was voted one of the best in the country. If you find yourself in Kennebunkport, Maine you must stop here!

Taza Chocolate Factory

On one of my last days at home, I took a tour of Taza Chocolate Factory in Somerville, MA with my friend Amanda. My mom found a deal for 2 tickets for only $8 and after reading raving Yelp reviews boasting unlimited chocolate samples, I knew I had to do it.

Taza Chocolate Factory

Amanda (who is such a sport for allowing me to take a picture of her in our required hair nets) and I took the hour-long tour and learned all about how Taza chocolate is made. Taza is stone-ground Mexican chocolate, so we were shown the stones as well as all of the various machines used throughout the chocolate-making process.

My eyes lit up when I saw our tour guide passing out samples within the first five minutes of the tour. This was my first time trying Taza chocolate, and after one bite I was hooked! Taza’s chocolate has a gritty texture that I can best compare to a crunch bar. You can see tiny crystals in the chocolate, which gives it a unique texture and taste.

Taza Chocolate Factory

Taza sells most of it’s chocolate in round disk form, which is very unusual compared to the typical American bars of chocolate. I sampled so many flavors such as coffee, salted almond, orange, cinnamon, ginger, chile, super dark, and more!

Taza Chocolate Factory

I brought home a few samples for my family to try and they loved it, too! None of us are ones to typically reach for a chocolate bar (if I am going to have chocolate, I usually prefer it in cookie or cake form), but we are all big fans now! You can find Taza at any Whole Foods across the country, but if you’re a Boston local you must check out this factory tour!

Bessie

Now I am back in LA with my favorite girl, Bessie. Travis brought her in the car to pick me up from the airport and she went NUTS when she saw (or smelled?) me. She basically hasn’t stopped wagging since. I’m just as happy to be back with her 🙂

 

I will be back later this week with a new delicious recipe! Remember to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for regular updates! You can use the easy “follow me” buttons on the right!

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