El Portal Colombian Bakery in Carrolton, TX

Bandeja Paisa…arriba!

As an expat, I am always fascinated on the differences in culture and the surprising similarities. I’ve observed this in Latin American cultures. I suspect it must be the Spanish connection; as with the Philippines, a lot of these Latin American countries were under Spanish rule in the past. (Anything that could possibly be a common ground?) Thus, a lot of the same Roman Catholic practices and a lot of the same flavors in the food.

Thanks to The Husband’s boss, we were introduced to Colombian cuisine in El Portal Bakery in Carrolton TX, which proved my hypothesis true.

How so?

[Read more…]

On the year to be

I am a planner. I anxiously live tomorrow today.

Before going to bed, I have tomorrow’s checklist running in my mind or even already written down on my notebook of things-to-do or a piece of paper. By mid-week, I already plotted out my weekend’s plans, secured schedules with family / friends (often gets done if they cooperate or are not at all as fond of spontaneous get-togethers) and errands to run. Before the New Year, I have reflected on the year that was, evaluated my personal performance and written my goals and plans down, ready for implementation on January 1st.

But somehow I still have not done that to the intense detail I expected. Strangely. Maybe I was caught up in the hoopla of the holiday flurry, which I oddly did not expect. There were not a lot of parties, just the main events of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; but there was A LOT of cooking and baking. More than the usual.

So here I am, just relishing the few days of feasting on leftovers, taking a break from full on cooking and baking. Now I have the time to pause and reflect. Albeit a little late, it is still better to start now that not at all.

[Read more…]

Thank you 2014!

and good food and travel!

The past week has been crazy tiring. I was neck deep in activities – the flurry of Christmas eve preparations, quick catch up with a friend from Manila and weekend travel (Yes! We were still able to squeeze in a trip), but somehow they all just happened in a blink of an eye. Just like this year, it was jampacked with activity in my wee kitchen and loads of travel, but it is almost over. One more day and 2015 na!

I honestly am still dead tired to do my annual look back into the year that was, so this will be a quick run down of the most memorable moments I am thankful for. Here goes!

[Read more…]

Amish Cheese House in Chouteau, OK

Oh hello Amish goods heaven!

I’ve always thought that the Amish population were concentrated in the Northeastern region of the US. We’ve come across an Amish settlement in Pennsylvania and heard from friends that there are other Amish settlements in Ohio.

So imagine the surprise we had when we started seeing billboards promoting “The Amish Cheese House” driving along the Interstate 69 from Texas to Kansas City.

Amish in Oklahoma? For real?

[Read more…]

My winter sniffles magic tea

My winter season sniffle saviour

With the cold weather, unfortunately, comes all kinds of sickies – the sniffles, the coughs and, if you’re real unlucky, the flu. And with the exorbitant costs of health care (Check out our dental care damage here) in the US, “Bawal magkasakit” is the mantra of everyone living here.

Hence, prevention is key. And one of the best preventive measures I’ve discovered back when I was in Dubai, is magic tea.

Well, I used to easily purchase packets of Sri Lankan Ayuvedric Samahan tea at our neighborhood small grocers. But now that I cannot seem to find any Samahan tea at our Asian supermarkets. Believe me, I have tried and searched far and wide in all sorts of Asian markets – the East Asian kind, the South Asian kind and the Middle Eastern kind, to no success. So I decided to reverse engineer this magic tea.

I researched and I think I finally nailed it with the help of my Chef sister, who taught me how to make fermented fruit syrups.

[Read more…]

#TrailingSpouseStories: Christmas, then and now

Pretty Christmas lights

Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!

This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?

Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost :-)

I’ve known Marie Calica-Schiller when I was much younger and deep into competitive swimming. I have fallen out of love with the sport and turned to eating (LOL!), while Marie continued to stay on the fitness track with rock climbing, yoga and more. On top of that, she was a magazine editor at one of the best women’s magazines in Philippines, a make up artist, beauty & fitness writer and a barre3 instructor. Talk about being multi-talented! 

She recently packed her bags and a couple of balikbayan boxes to join the love of her life in Switzerland, where she now is a yoga instructor and freelance writer. 

And this is her story.

[Read more…]

#TrailingSpouseStories on Christmas abroad: From tearful to tearless

HE is still the reason for the season

Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!

This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?

Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost :-)

[Read more…]

What Thanksgiving means to the expat me

Gobble! Gobble! Aja eating eating! (Photo taken by The Husband)

I never celebrated “Thanksgiving” per se when I grew up in the Philippines. It was just something I read in books, saw on TV and in the movies. To me, the most memorable Hollywood Thanksgiving scene was from “The Addams Family Values”, where Wednesday and Pugsley performed in their summer camp’s reenactment of the first Thanksgiving meal. (“Eat me!” said turkey cosume dressed Pugsley.)

Life went on as usual on the second-to-the-last Thursday of November. There was work. People didn’t go into a state of panic because of their Thanksgiving menu and Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. There was no roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the table. There were no TV specials: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NFL Thanksgiving games, or the infamous Puppy Bowl (i.e. dog shows aired on TV for non-American football enthusiasts). There were no decades old Thanksgiving traditions to continue.

It was an alien celebration until I set foot in this country.

[Read more…]

Mexico City Extreme Layover: I-94 edition

Waiting for our return flight to the US

It was the first time that I travelled so light. When I travel by air, I usually have one suitcase or, at least, a backpack and my handbag. This time around, I didn’t need that suitcase neither that backpack.

All I brought along was a handbag.

The Husband and I flew out to Mexico City, Mexico in the morning, then flew back into Texas later that afternoon. He just needed to update his I-94 form that was set to expire later this month. The I-94 is a piece of paper (Well, it used to be since the US CIS digitized this particular visa related document recently) that states the specific date that you are legally allowed to stay in the US. This form is entirely different from your US visa.

How so?

[Read more…]

LC’s BBQ in Kansas City, MO

Our LC’s BBQ Burnt Ends feast

When you know that a visit to a place is most likely once in a lifetime, you take it all in, as much as you can, in the limited time you have been given.We were in Kansas City for two weeks and we’d never know when we’d get the chance to visit again.

I actually hit a BBQ wall after non-stop Kansas City BBQing in other places. I never had so much meat in my life that my jaws, stomach (and A$s) were screaming for a break. My body was craving for fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.

[Read more…]