Tag Archives: Birthday

International 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.


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.


How gorgeous is this view?



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


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

Louis Phone

Selfie with my beautiful Mamma!


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!


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!

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!

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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!


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

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.


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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