Thursday, January 31, 2013

post-mass chill time

Last sunday I was so lasy that I just wanted to hole up in my apartment. but I promised my former roommate that I'd meet up with her sister who happens to live near my university. So I went to Cathedral of St. Matthew the Evangelist for mass. The cathedral was very beautiful. I think that was where they had JFK's wake.

Anyway, after the mass, i met up with my friend's sister who introduced me to her other friends who also lived nearby. We had dinner at Shake Shack. this place used to be just a shack in New York that served burgers but eventually they expanded because their burgers were just so good. It recently opened a branch here in DC so I'm trying it out for the first time. They serve angus beef burgers but I think their patty is too thin. they have fries and a variety of drinks. Their dark hot chocolate is just too decadent. On my next visit, i intend to try their frozen custard.

For dessert, we headed to Pinkberry. I love how they let you try the different flavors before you get to order. plus they have a standard price for plain yogurt and with toppings, so you get to put as many toppings as you want. I got the Salted Caramel yogurt with Baked Sea Salt Bites, Granola Bits and Hazelnuts. I also liked the fact that they labeled the toppings with their calorie content so you wont be too tempted to get everything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baker mode

Back in the day, I used to bake a lot. After school, I would whip up cookies and cakes before studying. Most of my allowance money would go to ingredients. This was all food network's fault. However as the years went by, I got older (yes, I really admit that I'm old) with more things to do that I had to put my hobby aside. But now, I have a lot of time in my hands, I could do the things that I want.

I heard that baking is quite difficult but its just all about following directions. if you are good at following directions, then you can bake. Its very precise, although I tend to tweak the recipes from cookbooks, maybe you can do this once you get the hang of it but in my opinion, I would always cut the sugar in half.

Today was a perfectly warm day. It's too good a day not to walk outside. Too bad its a wednesday so I normally stay in. But today, I went to harris teeter and got the necessary tools and ingredients for Salted Caramel Cupcakes.

Here's the finished product:

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I've started school and slowly settled down when my former professor commented on one of my facebook posts "let's meet up?" Apparently, she has been in DC for five years now. It is amazing how small the world is! She was my MATECO1 professor before and a few years after, I was already teaching the course. How cool is that? then again, after so many years you just eventually become friends. I feel so lucky that I have so many people here explaining how things are, where to go, what to do.

We decided to have brunch at District Commons. it was a very nice restaurant with an open kitchen concept. When we started, the place was almost empty but as lunch hour came, the place slowly got packed. It also is a good place to hang out after work/school. I had the pan seared salmon cakes benedict while she had the J&B breakfast hash. And we got dessert too! I havent had sweets in a while, i was actually avoiding them but this was just too tempting so we went for the Boston Cream Pie and Butterscotch Funnel Cake. The food was superb but the company was great.

I got a quick tour of Georgetown which was nearby, and the Potomac waterfront, which i recognize from watching USA Network's Covert Affairs.

Brunch is such a wonderful meal, especially when it extends all the way to 3pm. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday is the beginning of the weekend!

Life here is pretty much the same in Manila. We operate under a four day work week where all classes are held from Monday to Thursday and Fridays are reserved for meetings.

The morning was used to do my errands, trip to the grocery, sent a package somewhere, I got myself a Cuisinart Smartstick Hand blender which i experimented on later in the day. But the weekend is not a weekend without going out.

We had Thai for dinner at Galae Thai near Eisenhower metro station. Thailand is my favorite place on earth for shopping, but never for eating. I get by eating McDonald's and chinese food there. but this time, i can say I enjoyed dinner. I tasted the best pad thai ever. We also had green seafood curry, panang tofu, pla meuk tod (calamares with lemon sauce), and spring rolls. Everything was perfect except for the green seafood curry which I found to be too watered down. Thank you Joanna for the yummy treat! To more student fellowships!

Movie night was taken cared of by Joost (again thank you). We were already late for the entire Les Miserables movie craze. The movie house actually has a unique pricing scheme, before noon, movies are only $6 and as you progress, it gets more expensive. I was looking for the part where people say they cried but I found no tears.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day

It is President Barack Obama's second term in office and today is the big debut of his second term in office. Even if I'm not American, I feel somehow connected to this event since I've been seeing the personnel of the U.S. Secret Service make preparations on my way to school and home for the past week. I actually considered going to DC for the big event but since no one was going with me, plus its just too cold, I accepted my supervisor's invitation to watch tv at his place. (This sounds funny but I do not have a television set at my place. Avoiding distractions...)

It was a solemn ceremony compared to the Philippines' inauguration. Particularly touching points in Pres. Obama's speech:
1. This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

2. We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

3. My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

4. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

In my opinion, his speech is amazing and touching and can be summarized in one word: Unity. His strong leadership has carried the country through some terrible storms, both natural and financial. But a united nation is the key to weathering such troubles.

I love how he picked Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce to perform. They indeed rendered powerful songs for the programme. 

Our version of the inauguration feast: Seafood Pasta and Strawberry Salad. Way healthier than what was served in the inaugural luncheon at the U.S. Capitol which was said to be a 3000 calorie meal!

Photos from the TV:

I love Michelle's coat by Thom Brown accented with a J. Crew belt and Malia's by J. Crew coat. But not Sasha's Kate Spade coat. Just goes to show that brands are not really that important. 
J. Crew > Kate Spade. 

Kelly Clarkson

Swearing in

The trip from the Capitol to the White House was quite interesting. POTUS and FLOTUS went down for their walk. pretty normal. I was particularly interested with VP Biden running around hugging kids (typical politician) but his wife Dr. Biden was no where to be seen until they almost reached the White House. hmmm...

To end the day's activities, they have an Inauguration Ball but I could not watch this anymore since I have an extra early morning class tomorrow. I hope I get up in time. Let's see how fast and efficient Americans cleanup when I get to school tomorrow :D

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ice Cream Sunday

I've been trying out healthy living for a week now and a week without sweets/dessert is driving me nuts. So I decided to go to Costco and find a suitable treat for myself. I've been thinking cake, brownies and cookies but I just felt that the servings were just too much and they would only go to waste considering that I am alone. So I moved to the frozen foods section, They might have something there. So my choices were between Taste-it Tiramisu, Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, Healthy Choice fudge bars, Haagen Daz Vanilla Milk Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Bar and Drumstick... 

Cheesecake got eliminated first, for the reason that its too fattening. Healthy Choice fudge bars next for the simple reason that somebody named it "healthy choice." Normally junk food labeled "healthy" would taste like cardboard and I'm trying to reward myself here so that's also out of the list. Drumstick is just drumstick, I could easily get them back home, so now its just between Tiramisu and the Ice Cream Bar. I really wanted to try Tiramisu, but my cheap side got the better of me and I ended up with the Haagen Daz Ice Cream Bar

This box of 15 bars is around $11.78 including tax which makes it $0.79 per bar which is equivalent to around PhP 33.00. Way cheaper than Magnum in the Philippines and I think this brand went extinct in Manila last year. 

I'm planning to have this as my weekly treat to self.

Back at the apartment now, enjoying the beautiful sunset from my window. 

Nothing still beats the Manila Bay sunset though. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My First Saturday

Contrary to popular belief, Saturdays weren't made for partying (at least for now). Today was meant for rest and recharge. For the first time in years, I got up past noon, which is something that I could not do back home. (By 9am, my phone would start ringing with calls from the office and I would definitely have to get up.) 

Today also marks my first week here in the United States. For the last seven days, I've been living off my suitcase. All my suitcases opened on the floor and each morning would be a scavenger hunt. I got a bit tired of that so I just had to unpack. Back home, I have the household help to do that for me. But since I am all alone here, I have to do this myself. I feel that she would be proud if she sees how I managed to arrange the apartment. I've always known in my mind that I could do it but due to the ultra-long list of things that I had to tend to back home, I never had the opportunity to do it there. Today, I am proud to say that I was able to put up the shower curtains on my own!!!

 Before: no curtains

After: Shower curtain from Bed, Bath and Beyond

I didn't plan on getting shower curtains today. it just so happens that Bed, Bath and Beyond is located right beside the local grocery store Harris Teeter. 

Harris Teeter

Bed Bath & Beyond

Got myself a can opener, lemons, onions, garlic and cheese!!! Goodness, onions and garlic are way too expensive here but its just me... I might get used to it eventually... (not!)

Right after this quick errand, I decided to walk around and I found this nice row of restaurants which I hope that I'll be able to try out in the near future.

Until sometime in March, there's gonna be an ice skating rink in the middle. It looks fun. I want to try it out too.

After a day of cleaning, I'm gonna take my well-deserved rest.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Minor Errands Day (ME DAY!!!)

Since there is a 12-hour time difference between Manila and the East Coast, and I havent actually had time to adjust (between apartment hunting, administrative matters in school and classes), I got up extra late today. I don't have enough time to go to school, so I decided to take care of minor errands for my apartment.

For those who know me, I really need coffee to start my day, even if I'm already immune to the effects of caffeine (Yes, I am one of those who can sleep soundly at night despite shots of after-dinner espresso). So I headed to Costco to scout for coffee makers, then Nordstrom, then Marshalls, then Best Buy only to find that the cheapest one is in Costco. Here's what I got:

Mr. Coffee 12-cup programmable coffee maker. I'll review this in the future.

Settling down is a bit of a task and I only had one day with my mentor to shop. (We actually filled up the middle row and the entire compartment of his car when he helped me settle down.) So I'm pretty sure that there were a couple of things that we forgot to pick up.

Here's my shopping stash from Nordstrom and Marshalls:


Standard black for meetings and conferences/ Bordeaux (the picture doesn't do justice to the beautiful colour) for everyday

Not a big fan of closed shoes. If you actually see my footwear back home, I do not own any pair of closed shoes except for the pair that I got from Payless for church duties. With winter reaching its peak, I reluctantly shopped for closed shoes. It took me 2 hours to look for two pairs. 

Drinking Bottle

In school, my office is not too near the drinking fountain, making me too lazy to get a drink - not good for the body. So I got myself a bottle. This should keep me hydrated for at least half a day.


Despite having a heater, the cold has been waking me up these past days. My blanket from back home was not warm enough. 


Almost all my things are still in the suitcase and it takes forever to pick an outfit in the morning. My apartment has a huge walk-in closet that I have yet to put to use. So here's just what I need, velvet-lined hangers, and of course I got them in pink.

and lastly, home slippers. I know these are Havaianas and back home, people think that its a luxury. Well, I'm not a big fan of Havs because I think they are just too common (everybody has one), but I got this pair because its the cheapest pair that I could find.

Looking at my loot now, it doesn't seem too much, but carrying it from Pentagon Centre to my place was the hard part. Good thing the cashier at Nordstrom, and guess what: he is Filipino, was very friendly and kind enough to pack everything nicely. I made a new friend today. 

And that's today's adventure. Now, I have to get back to reality and start fixing my things.