Saturday, March 31, 2012

Columbus Trip Day 2 Morning

Oh what an exhausting but wonderful day...

Starting with a sip of coffee while admiring the pinks, the whites and the greens (despite an overcast sky).
JalapeƱo, onions, and cheese omelette and beaten rice with peanuts for breakfast.  
Everybody's looking forward to the day ahead!

Then off to a hiking trip...
Waiting for wild bucks and admiring a tall white oak tree (to ward off vampires?)...

Hung up on St. Patrick's Day!

Quiet Stream and winding trail.

All smiles, laughter, fun (and tired feet)...

But the day was not yet done...

Columbus Trip Day 1

To cap off a very stressful week, the team went on a little adventure.  We took at 6-hour-long road trip to our team mate's beautiful home in Columbus, Ohio where she greeted us with so much warmth... and abundant beautifully prepared food (at 1AM in the morning!).

BMT (Basil, Mozzarella, Tomato with drizzle of sweet pesto) and Vegetarian Cream Penne

Rohini & Megha and Colorful Veggie Kebabs

Chicken Skewers (still marinating actually, wasn't able to take the picture of the cooked version which was sooo sumptuous and moist - gone in a few seconds)
And the girls.  Our lovely, gracious host Seema in black.  Rohini, Megha, Mich, yours truly, Ela,  and Emmy.  Where are the boys? Well, at least one was taking the picture hehehe!

Garlic Naan (also used as wrap for the chicken) and Pitas with Hummus (mmm, mmm, mmm!)

For dessert, we had Gulab Jamun (like milky pancake balls submerged in syrup) and Strawberries dipped in chocolate (no photos unfortunately as I was already feeling very tired)!

It's already past 3AM in the morning and I'm feeling blissfully bloated (yikes) ... looking forward to Day 2 in the next few hours...

Sunday, March 25, 2012


This weekend was an oddly busy one, but I could not resist posting my thoughts on XOCO.  My friend Mia, actually prompted me to try this Mexican restaurant which I pass by every bus ride to the office for more than a year now.  Ok, so there was actually one failed attempt back in Winter of 2011 (due to insanely long lines), one successful attempt about a week ago (for dessert).... and finally yesterday, breakfast!  I've come to realize that I'm more and more drawn to mexican breakfast food, and I think it all started with breakfast burritos (beef or chicken, eggs, salsa wrapped in burrito wrapper - darn, I don't know what they're called... "wrap"?).  McDonalds has them and I've never ordered anything else since I tried it - I will definitely miss breakfast burritos when I fly home to Manila because they don't carry this in their menu (now if only Mr. Yang reads this).  Then I discovered Huevos Rancheros (tortilla, salsa, refried beans, rice) which apparently is a breakfast staple not only in Mexican themed restos, but also available in many Chicago breakfast/brunch places.  Again, none in Manila - ugh.  And finally, what this tribute of a post is for... the one I've lost sleep for (not exaggerating, but maybe a little bit).  Chilaquiles!  Tortilla chips, roasted tomato-serrano sauce, cheese, scrambled eggs - yummy.  I like that it's somewhat a casserole/fritata and it's served in a sort of cast-iron plate.  Though you might think it's like Mexican left over resurrected in a pretty (intimidating) plate, it's d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.  Be careful though and don't burn your tongue out of low EQ like I did!  But it's definitely worth it.  

XOCO is a relatively small place and you'll have to stand in line to order your food.  We ended up sitting at a long bar with high chairs, so like I usually do while waiting for food... take pictures!  I like their decor - not in-your-face Mexican fiesta theme, but very subtle and stylish.  And yes, they used dark blue for their walls!

We ordered Ham-Cheese-Mushroom Empanada for appetizer which I thought they'd just serve as is - not even in a plate but just a plain brown paper bag.  But no, they topped it with cheese and served with this thick sweet chili-tomato sauce.  Best empanada I've ever had in my life.  Great first impression.  And for our morning coffee, we had chocolate cappuccino and latte.  The chocolate flavor is a little strong, almost like they put a shot of liquor.  And for the main course - Chilaquiles and Torreja.  Torreja is Mexican for French Toast (so I guess they should call it "Mexican Toast"?), topped with bacon and walnut bits.  It was the creamiest french toast ever that I'm guessing they used condensed milk (idea light bulb flashing)!

Chocolate Cappuccino and Stack of Napkins (why not? :-))

Ham, Cheese, and Mushroom Empanada

Torreja a.k.a French Toast

My new love - Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles' plate handle and yes... it was a gloomy Spring morning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coffee Creation # 4: Iced Toffeeccino

I think this is my favorite so far, especially with the Chicago weather turning more and more summery... it is very refreshing.

Step 1: Make an espresso (I used Starbucks Dark Espresso Roast)

Steps 2 & 3: Pour Sugar-Free English Toffee Syrup and ice cubes in a tall glass.  Then add your espresso.

Steps 4 & 5: Add cold milk (I used 2% Reduced).  Already good to drink right?  But wait, there's more!  Top with frothed milk.

Step 6: Admire your creation by taking a good macro shot of the foam. :-)

Enjoy! (close your eyes and you'll be transported to Boracay)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Peg for Bedroom

Never been a blue person until I got married.  And I found my way loving it 
(I guess I married the color too :-)) - thanks to teal, 
aqua, turquoise, tiffany blue - the semi-blues I call them.  

Mood board:

Pictures from HGTV Website

Then to Polyvore... tadaaa!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Playing with Food

Inasmuch as I would like to stay away from thinking about food and blogging about it, I can't help it.  It's a passion... and a dream actually.  Why stay away?  I've been advised to lose weight and this is not helping haha!  So... I'm thinking of publishing healthier options, and I think based on these "experiments," I'm getting there. :-) Anyway, here are the results of my "playing with food" in the last two days:

1. White Chocolate Latte (love the swirl)

2. Corned Tuna with Garlic Potatoes, Curried Scrambled Egg, Bell Peppers and Ranch Dressing (phew)

3. Cream of Broccoli with Italian Cheese (10 minute dish for a hectic Monday night - don't forget the chili pepper flakes)

1. White Chocolate Latte: Starbucks Espresso, Skimmed Milk, and Sugar Free White Chocolate Syrup
2. I think the name of the dish says it all :-)
3. Cream of Broccoli with Italian Cheese: Canned Condensed Cream of Broccoli, Broccoli, 5-Italian Cheese Blend, Mozzarella, Chili Pepper Flakes, Salt, Pepper, Skimmed Milk (just throw everything in the pan and simmer for 5 mins, except for the Mozzarella and Chili Pepper Flakes which I used as toppings)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Peg for Condo Living Room

We're finally selling our condo, but before doing so, we made a major but very basic renovation in almost all areas.  New tiles, floors, wall paint, lighting, toilet - it's practically 
new.  I have proven though that having somebody else oversee the renovation, though convenient, could be so challenging.  Just before we left Manila last January, Bobby, my
Dad, and I did a shopping "sprint" of home improvement materials at Wilcon and Home
Depot.  It was fun, but also stressful -- especially when we're back in Chicago and all the 
renovation was being done without my OC-eyes on the watch.  Anyway, we decided to 
make it clean, simple, and neutral - practically a blank canvass so you can pretty much 
do anything with it. I was overall pleased with the outcome and I thanked my Dad for 
doing much of the work, dealing with the contractor and taking care of all the buying, 
accounting, coordinating, etc.  Oh and did I mention putting up with all of my drama?:-) 

The condo is 42 sqm in size and has a loft layout.  It has two bedrooms and 2 baths.  I 
chose a light grey color for the walls in the first level and dark brown "hardwood" floors.  They weren't able to take a lot of pictures but here are some (clockwise): "hallway" from dining area to the 1st level bedroom (with a peak to the first bathroom), dining/kitchen, 
stairs from the loft to stairs.

I'm so excited to implement all the designs playing around in my head, as I am after all 
a frustrated Interior Designer/Architect.  With all the learnings I got from watching 
too much HGTV (particularly The Property Brothers and High-Low Project), I'm 
ready to get my hands dirty and let my inner Sabrina Soto do the decorating!  BUT, 
since the time has not yet come (and won't be in another five months), I have 
started creating mood boards and pinning ideas on Pinterest.  Also, Polyvore is another 
nifty tool I got addicted to, so... here's my peg for our living room.

Condo Living Room

Will post for the bedroom and dining/kitchen next.  Delighted.