Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Lazy Day

On approximately the 10th of January, boyfriend up and decided that he wasn't going to start "being healthy" until the 1st of February.  What the heck!?!  I tried to get him to change his mind, to be my partner in action for making 2012 a healthy year, but I failed miserably.  

Its incredible how much a significant other can motivate/demotivate you.  On Saturday night, at midnight, right after watching the documentary Food Inc., guess who's idea it was to go through the McDonald's drive-thru for an M&M McFlurry?  Mine.  And we didn't stop there - after picking up the bucket-like cup of ice cream, we went through an empanada drive-thru and ate steaming hot chicken and melted cheese deep-fried empanadas.  Great.

Midnight Snack
Starting tomorrow those bad weekend habits will disappear and we will be working out {hopefully} 4-5 times a week.  

My fitness plan: 
Play tennis
Run intervals through A's hilly neighborhood
Master P90X's 15 minute abs video
Use exercise bands for strength training
Complete GainFitness work outs online

This time I will stick to it, with or without my partner!

Monday, January 30, 2012

El Campo: Eating Off the Trees

Yesterday boyfriend and I spent the day with his parents at their land out in the "country".  It is a natural food lover's paradise - you can just pick off the trees whatever you feel like munching on (which is probably why I love going there).  Imagine a farm with a beautiful, crystal clear, freshwater river to swim in, lots of animals to look at, and fresh food all around you.  This is where we were.

{River where A swam growing up}
Boyfriend's mom and I walked around as she pointed out to me all the exotic fruit that surrounded us.  Of the more obvious ones, from corn to mangos, from tropical fruit to peas and starchy veggies, there was everything within a 15 minute walk.

Did you know that this is what tamarind looks like?  

{Mushy plum-sized fruit}
I've never liked tamarind flavored anything, but eating it fresh was actually delicious.  It tastes like small dates with a tangy kick.  

And this, this is where carob comes from.

{Looks like green toothpaste}
These oversized pods weren't ripe enough, so the green pulp was pasty.  Over time, the pulp turns into a powder which is what becomes the carob powder that you can now find at health stores as a baking alternative for cocoa powder. 

This is the heart of the banana tree.

{Pretty heart}
The heart hangs off the tree, and as it matures, the layers peal back like flower petals and the banana bunches grow underneath of them.  Some cultures call this the apple of the tree and eat it, too.  I wonder what it tastes like.

{Mandarins, Oranges, Lemons}
Everything we ate yesterday [except for the rice] was grown within 0.25 miles of us.  I must say, I didn't like seeing the feathers and head come off of the chicken we were about to eat, but somehow I managed.  And the fruit - it was much tastier than any overpriced organic fruit I've ever bought in a supermarket.  

And of course, I drank the juice of two coconuts and scooped out all the flesh with my makeshift coconut shell spoon.  My favorite.

{Don't bother me when I'm with my coconut}

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Awkward & Awesome Round Dos

1.  When customers at work ask - in all seriousness - if I am my coworker's aunt because my name means aunt in Spanish.  My coworker and I are complete opposites, think: Heidi Klum & Seal. 
2.  Being Greek and not shaving your legs for two weeks.  Also when your boyfriend tells you that your legs are hairier than his.  
3.  That the DR has had about 5 moderate earthquakes this month [one 5.3 was only 80 miles away], and I haven't felt a single one.  I feel like I'm missing out. 

1.  My new Ruby Woo Mac lipstick.  Now if I could just gather up the courage to wear this fire red color that really pops..  That would be splendid.
2.  That we've mastered the art of how to make the most tips at work.  Oh, the perks of my job...
3.  That in one month from today I'll be sipping piña coladas at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.  And that paradise is only a 3 hour drive away.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bubble Tea

I've been searching for bubble tea for months [I posted this post about it back in October!].  My love for bubble tea began when I was working at Argo Tea in college.  I would scoop the "bubbles" out of their large tupperware container and slurp them down in nothing but a glass of water..  Seems kind of gross thinking back on it now.

Anyway, after many months of zero luck, I finally tasted bubble tea again last Saturday night at Formosa - a house turned into a small Taiwanese cafe in Santo Domingo.  I knew it was an authentic place because we were the only people speaking Spanish and the menu options were the following:

Spaghetti with Special Sauce
Spaghetti YangChun with Special Sauce
Soup and Spaghetti 
Spaghetti Soup with Special Sauce

We had an order of egg rolls (the least exotic choice, how boring) and of course, two large glasses of milky, ice cold bubble tea.  I'm convinced it was made with condensed milk - it was just too darn delicious.

{Love this Bubble Tea glass}
When the egg rolls finally arrived at our table (and most of my tea was already gone), they were served with a red sauce.

Me: Egg rolls with ketchup? 
A: {Shaking head} Ugh, that is not ketchup, Tia.  Its probably picante {spicy sauce}.  Its only red because its sitting on a red plate.
Me: Its ketchup.
A: {Shakes head again} {Dips finger in mystery sauce} {Licks finger} {Makes face} ...Its ketchup...

People eat egg rolls with ketchup?  Who knew!  I stuck to my roll sans sauce.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself at Age 16

Highschool - Brother & I
1.  You don't know how much you think you do.  Respect your parents and be more grateful - not every kid has a spanking new Jetta at 16.

2.  Its good that you value your grades, but a B+ is not going to set you back in life.  You will have an MBA at age 23!  So relax.

3.  Acrylic nails? Why?  Just paint your real nails, you have great nail beds.

Grad School Graduation
4.  Its OK that you don't have a solid "group" of friends and that they are all from different cliques - it means that you are a more well-rounded person.

5.  Don't spend your whole paycheck from Marshall Field's at the Marshall Field's junior department and on employee-discounted Coach purses - you won't like Coach in a few short years.

Skiing in Andorra
6.  Not making it to the gym one day won't kill you; besides, your body is going to be stuck at the same weight at least until age 25.

7.  Spend the night at your grandparents' house as often as you can.  One day you're going to live out of the country and miss waking up to Yaya's torta {fried feta pancakes}.  You'll also miss hearing Yaya scream at Papou because The History Channel is on too loud and Papou shaking his head.

A & I
8.  Study the world more.  You're going to travel to places that you didn't even know existed at 16.

9.  Eating a half jar of peanut butter after school is a bad habit.  If you keep eating it at this pace, forget #6.

10.  Don't worry about boys.  You aren't going to meet the right boy until you've decided that you are finally done with boys at age 23.  And guess what?  He's going to be a handsome one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food Award: Favorite Foods Around the World

My best friend Julia of A Girl with a Stethoscope nominated me for the Lactose Free Lizzie Food Award!  What does this mean?  That I have to write a post about one of my favorite things: Food.  Anything about food.  So I'm going to write about five of my favorite food discoveries from around the world.

Lunch time in Sardinia
Italy: Gnocchi
Gnocchi is a potato filled ball looking pasta.  If it wasn't so calorie dense I would probably find a way to eat it twice a week!  It can be served with any kind of sauce, but I prefer it in pesto {pesto and gelato are tied for my second favorite food coming out of Italy}.

Octopus, Calamari, Ají, Patatas Bravas
Spain: Tapas
Yes, tapas can mean a number of things that come in small portions.  But hello, this mean that you can eat a lot of different good things, instead of filling up on only one good thing.  One of my all-time favorites is Patatas Bravas from the Costa Brava - potatoes drizzled in a pink, spicy, mayo sauce.

Chicken & Olives
Morocco: Chicken Tagine
To me, chicken is no filet mignon.  Its sort of bland, sort of dry, but when cooked the way it is in Morocco, it becomes the most flavorful and tender meat.  I have never had a love for chicken more than I did when eating it in Morocco. 

Little Perfections
Portugal: Pastel de Belém
These little Belem pastries from Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon are famous throughout the country and are now gaining popularity around the world.  They are small creamy custard pastries, sprinkled with cinnamon and powder sugar.  One of my favorite desserts.

Greasy & Delicious
Dominican Republic: Platano Maduro
Its a difficult personal battle for me every time I see plantains at the supermarket, because if I buy them, I will eat too many of them.  Its usually eaten as a side dish, but served in the States as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream.  Its very easy to make - try it at home.

Now that I've listed my top 5, the winner of my 
favorite-food-discoveries-from-around-the-world goes to...

I was pleasantly surprised with my gastronomic adventures in Morocco.  Never had I tasted food with so much flavor; I'm convinced its because of the Tagine pot - the North African style crock pot.  Some other foods I indulged in while there:

A Colorful Salad
Tomato Chutney
Piping Hot Mint Tea
Now that my turn is over,
I nominate the following 3 bloggers for this award:

Mia of GlocalGirl 
Because she's always making me hungry with her pics from across the pond.

Marisa of Shades of Monet 
Because maybe she'll post her Bailey's banana bread recipe..

Jessica of Strawberry Besos 
Because she taught me how to chop garlic without the lingering garlic smell.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


As you all probably know by now, I'm not very creative in the kitchen - I can barely cook!  And since boyfriend keeps reminding me over, and over, and over again that I said 2012 would be the year I learned how to cook, I began a hunt for a motivating meal planning template. 

I loved the free templates on The Project Girl website.  I downloaded the Weekly Meal Planning template and the Goal Setting Template.  Since I didn't make any new year resolutions this year, I figure its never too late to start, right?  Besides, who ever got anywhere without a goal in mind?  

Here are a few new goals 
posted on my fridge: 

See movies at the theatre on Wednesdays, when they are only 100 pesos 
[under 3 bucks]! This Wednesday we're going to see New Years Eve (the DR is a little late on new movie releases..).

Read The Secret.  I'm probably the last person on earth to finally get around to reading this book!

Cook dinner three times a week.  Please allow me to boast that I just cooked a mean Chicken Marsala and mashed potatoes!  Now I feel like I can cook anything.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Little Things He Does

Joanna of A Cup of Joe, posted a sweet article today titled Do you ever worry about your partner dying?  Her article + the linked one brought me a smile and a tear.  I highly recommend reading both her post here and these beautiful paragraphs here.  

Joanna writes about how, when it comes to relationships, its important to appreciate the little things in the here and now, rather than in the future when they are gone.  I, like Joanna, worry a lot.  I know that boyfriend and I are both healthy young people, but that doesn't mean that something can't happen to us tomorrow.  My worrying makes me realize how important it is to appreciate the little things and be grateful for love. 

So some things that I love in the here and now are

When he gives me a peck on the lips over the tennis net in the middle of a game [even if he claims its for bad luck].

Touching his neck; he has baby soft skin. 

That I have to smile every time I watch him dance and sing to Sexy and I Know It when it plays on the radio.

How after work today he pulled the hair away from my face and rubbed my head when asking how my day was.
"Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory."  - Uknown

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Frío Frío

{Girls selling Johnny Cake}
Last Sunday we spent a few hours at Boca Chica beach.  The beach is known for its Johnny Cake (pretty much a deep fried piece of pancake-shaped batter that it is eaten with hot sauce drizzled on top), so after seeing countless people of all ages pass by selling Johnny Cake, we jumped at the sight of a Frio Frio cart!

{Asking for his price}
Frío Frío, also called JumJum, is the Dominican version of the all-American ice cream truck.  On most days, you can find men pushing these wooden carts around the city; wooden carts stocked with large glass bottles filled with intense colored liquids.  

So what is it exactly?  The Frío Frío itself can be compared to a snow cone, since it is simply shaved ice with artificially (naturally if you're lucky) flavored "juices" poured on top.  

{Preparing our drinks}
My cup of ice was topped with strawberry and lemon "juice".  Boyfriend's was filled with coconut (which always tastes like cotton candy) and a touch of mint (just like drinkable spearmint gum!).  

{Drinking with my feet in crystal clear water}
Frío Frío is by far the most refreshing beverage here on a hot day.  Only downside: it is highly addictive..  A and I often find ourselves driving around after our competitive tennis matches [...against each other...] on the search for a Frío Frío man! 

A must try for anyone in the Dominican Republic!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bad British Accent and Bad Hair

Last night boyfriend fiiiinally agreed to watch One Day with me, and as someone who never falls asleep during movies, he was half asleep the whole time!  {That sentence alone is enough to sum up the film.}

After reading the book, I couldn't wait to see the movie.  The movie was a horrible disappointment.  All funny parts of the book were left out and the ending just left me depressed!  I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending, but I somehow was unprepared.

Anne Hathaway killed all the likable traits of her character and she wasn't even able to maintain her British accent throughout all the scenes.  Plus, she had horrible hair [except for the short chic cut during her time in France].  Her bad hair styles seemed to be the only thing that "aged" her over the twenty-ish years that the movie followed.  In my opinion, Anne Hathaway needs to stick to The Devil Wears Prada and the The Princess Diaries type of movies.  The only good thing about the film: Jim Sturgess.  I didn't know he existed until last night!  How is it that I've missed every movie he's been in?  Check him out on IMDB.

Did anyone like the movie?  Any new movie recommendations for me?  
I'll admit I'm a sucker for cheesy rom-coms.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Awkward and Awesome Tidbits

Many of the bloggers I follow write weekly Awkward and Awesome Thursday posts.  This week I thought I would partake in the tradition!

1.  Truly believing that I had malaria for the past week and asking everyone about the signs and symptoms, when it turns out it was just the flu.
2.  The new Dutch girl I hired baking prune & whiskey muffins (???).  Also, her expecting me to guess that that was what kind of muffins they were when I tasted the batter. 
3.  Watching boyfriend suck the dust out of our screens with a vacuum cleaner and there being so much dust that he spelled my name on the screens.
4.  Thoroughly struggling to chop basil, only to realize five minutes later that I had been holding the knife upside down the entire time.

1.  Learning new Dominican slang every day and putting it into practice.  Not so awesome: being told that I've lost all of my proper castellano spanish.  Pero ven aca, papaa! 
2.  Boyfriend finally solving the Rubick's Cube I got him for Three Kings Day.  At last!  No more listening to nerdy man voices explaining how its done on YouTube!
3.  Nature's Own Butter Bread with peanut butter.  Heaven. 
4.  Realizing that this is my 100th post!  I can't believe I've actually blogged 100 times.  Thanks for reading.

Also Awesome: Instagram

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Scratching Off the World

In the DR, Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6th and its considered the last day of the Christmas season.  Goodbye, Christmas tree.  Children are given gifts on the 6th, so of course I told boyfriend that we had to participate in this holiday (anything for a gift, he always picks out the best ones!).

I don't know how he remembered, because I haven't mentioned it since writing a blog post back in September, but he got me the Scratch off world map that I wanted!  I was ecstatic.  Its perfect.

{My travels in color}
It really puts the magnitude of the world into perspective.  Most of Africa, and all of South America & Asia are completely colorless for me!  Time to get crackin'.  

PS - Buy this map for a travel lover here.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The flu that I've had since Monday is finally just about gone.  Normally I hate being sick, but with boyfriend making me tea every night on the stove, slathering Vicks on my nose, and wrapping his old t-shirts around my neck before I go to sleep, I didn't mind it so much.  He's such a cutie pie.

Now that I'm healed, how do I tell him thank you for taking such good care of me?
By giving him the flu right back! Guess its my turn. 


Thursday, January 5, 2012


Us in Zwolle, the Netherlands
Ildiko is a dear, dear friend of mine.  Actually scratch that, she's family.  Since most of you don't know her, Ildiko is one of those women with an amazing life story.  She struggled for many years growing up in Eastern Europe, and somehow moved herself and her baby to the States with not a penny in her purse.  She is an incredibly ambitious, brave, wise, calm, and genuinely kind person and a wonderful mom.  I look up to her in so many ways.  

Us in Barcelona, Spain
She's been going through a tough time lately, and of course, its as if the whole world comes tumbling down at once.  In addition to everything that she's going through, I found out today that she just lost her mother.  I don't even know how to begin to understand how she feels, but I know that her courage and strength will pull her through anything.  One day, I hope to be as strong of a woman as she is.  May your mother rest in peace, Ildiko.  Thinking of you, xoxo.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Snapper

Last week I was told that on my way to Puerto Plata for the weekend, we had to stop in a little town called Maimon and eat fried "chillo" {I later found out this was snapper}.  Maimon is a village that looks exactly like the thousands of other small villages in the DR, the only difference being is that it is near the coast and it has a few restaurants large-outdoor-rooms-with-tin-roofs on the main road.

As soon as we walked inside one of these large-outdoor-rooms-with-tin-roofs, the waiter's first question was whether we would be eating fish.  When we said yes, he welcomed us right into their kitchen, and a cook began showing me all the recently caught fish that were in the freezer.  The fish were enormous.  I told him that I wanted chillo and so he began frying my fish.

Frying Pans
My Fish
Now I figured that I wouldn't be getting a clean cut fillet on my plate, but at the same time I wasn't expecting the fish to look exactly like it did when it was going in to the frying pan (but with crustier skin)..

My Plate
Hello, Fishie
But with a squeeze of lime I got brave and actually ate it (midsection only).  
And it turns out that it was the best fried fish that I've had in my life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Its 2012

We spent New Years weekend here:

Its hard to come back to reality.  
Reminiscing already: 

1 - Eating lobster
2 - Long walk around the complex
3 - Ringing in the new year
4 - Sun bathing at Cabarete beach

Happy 2012!