Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: Bayaguana, DR

Bayaguana is a region in the middle of the Dominican Republic, only about an hour out from Santo Domingo.  There is no major city there, just a little town, a river, plenty of greenery, and lots of farms.  Most homes in the area are made of wood and have tin roofs; I always wonder how they successfully survive the tropical storms each fall! 

Recently, more and more eco resorts have been popping up in the area, and A's mom is in love with the idea of turning her finca {farm} there into an eco-resort or day trip package for DR tourists.  A whole day could be spent just walking around, visiting the animals, and learning eating the local fruits.  We spent the day at the finca on Sunday {one of my favorite DR places}, and here are a few shots that A snapped.

{They looked almost neon in person and wobbled so much!}

{Tamarinds and a Coconut}

{Only 8 days old}

{My Sunday Swim}
There is a river that runs through their farm, and A's mom is dreaming of building a terrace cafe overlooking the river.  With the exception of grains, all food could be supplied from the farm itself; the idea of making it a Slow Food getaway has been running through my head..  Would you visit, eat, and swim? 

Helene in Between

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Motivation v7

Today is a national holiday in the DR, so its still the weekend for me!  But with only 2.5 weeks left on the job, I start training the new Me tomorrow - work is about to get super busy!  Here's some motivation for your Monday.



Happy first week of May!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Me As an Expat Interviewer & Tips On How Not to Bomb Yours

I haven't talked about work in a while, but after the week I've had its only fitting!  In my job I have had the pleasure (or pain) of conducting interviews for a handful of positions.  I cannot count the number of times that my jaw has dropped when scanning applicants online, or post-interviews when I finally have the freedom to make the facial expression in private!  

This week I've been on the hunt for a new "Me" to take over my position (we leave for Greece in a month!).  After scanning the resumes of 300+ applicants and interviewing the select few that have actually shown up to their scheduled interviews, today I finally found The One.  She's perfect, and I, therefore, am an HR genius. ;)  Here are some interview tips (that I had thought were common sense), and I'm pretty sure that they apply to any country/culture: 

When asked to describe your experience with specifics, please do not write See CV or lots.

When scheduling an interview via email, do not ask what the position is {hello, you are the one that applied!} and don't ask how much you will be paid.  Really?!

If you find yourself in a country where its vital to add your photo to your CV, do not put a picture of yourself in a mini skirt and tube top as if you're ready for the disco.

Don't put Taco Bell on your CV if they fired you after one month. 

Don't arrive late and mumble that there was traffic. 

Phone OFF and off the table. 

If asked if you have any questions about the role, do not say that your only question is: 
How much $$$

Don't say that listening to music is the only thing you like to do in your free time.  How on earth can that be your only hobby?!  Be creative!

I also usually ask the interviewee to tell me what their strengths are, and I almost always get a look of confusion or a really, really long Um...  I always thought that this was a question one should always be prepared for, so now I wonder, is this just a very "American" thing to ask? Do they ask this in other places?  Here its also OK to ask very personal questions, like who you live with and if you have kids, but I still find it awkward to ask..

Expats, have you ever had an awkward interview experience abroad?
Do tell!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Vietnamese Lunch

Last Saturday we decided to try Matica, a vegetarian place that we've been meaning to get to for a long time.  With my detox cleanse, its been hard to eat out, so we figured this would be the perfect oppurtunity to lunch on super healthy Vietnamese food.  We started by sharing a salad that had dried algae {I just love the crunch!} and an orange/semi translucent vegetable that I really have no idea what it is/called!

We drank iced tea; his was a berry blend and mine was lavender/lime with a touch of honey.  A had a raw veggie stuffed "burrito" and I had the spring rolls wrapped in rice paper, which is surprisingly gluten free!  They tasted so fresh and were bursting with flavor when dipped in the soy/lemongrass/ginger sauce.  I can't wait to get back to Matica to try their dumplings, accompanied with different dipping sauces, the rosemary cookies, and the rice noodle dishes!

The meal inspired me to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine, especially since I've never been to Asia and always hear that the food is excellent.  Did you know that Vietnamese dishes balance a combination of 5 taste elements?  The all-knowing Wikipedia tells me that the meals incorporate 5 distinct flavors: spicy [metal], sour [wood], bitter [fire], salty [water], and sweet [earth].  Cool way to think about food, right? 

I would love to try Vietnamese pho (broth soup made with noodles, meat, and lots of herbs) and these chocolate filled sticky rice balls!  Post-cleanse, of course. 

Have you been to Vietnam or tried the cuisine?
What dish is your favorite?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Detox Cleanse: Halfway There, In Search of Snacks

Last Tuesday I finally started a 2 week detox cleanse with a kit I had purchased in October from a Whole Foods in California ('m doing this one).  In addition to swallowing about 13 pills a day, I've been trying to eat as clean as possible and I've completely cut out dairy and gluten.  I've been eating so much fruit!  And chicken and fish and vegetables and nuts.  And for the carbs, I get my fix from brown rice (about every other day) and quinoa - I even made cinnamon breakfast quinoa with almond milk this weekend.  Yay for branching out! 

The first three days were really hard.  I felt extremely fatigued {could barely practice yoga} and even depressed, as if not eating cereal for breakfast or an occasional cookie from work was such torture!  Haha.  I was also very bloated, felt sort of flu-y, and had very strange dreams.  I searched my symptoms on Friday and it turns out that they were all symptoms of gluten withdrawal.  Does this mean that my cleanse is working?  I hope so!  

My energy has come back and I'm no longer day dreaming about sugary sweets like I was at the beginning of the cleanse.  I feel normal now, although sometimes I struggle to eat enough calories since there is only so much fruit and veggies a girl can eat.  I'm going to make some hummus and lentils this week, but I need more snack ideas that aren't raw fruit and veggies or nuts!  Anyone have any ideas?

Have you done a detox cleanse? 
Did it work? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Motivation v6

Happy Monday!  I'm nearly halfway through a detox cleanse program, so I spent the weekend trying not to feel miserable that I couldn't eat anything fun!  I have 8 days left, so I thought I would post some health/fitness motivation for your Monday. 


How was your weekend?  
Have a great week!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Happy List

1. The fact that my wedding bouquet and a large piece of wedding cake are chilling {literally} in the freezer.  I have no idea if this is how you're supposed to preserve flowers but it seems to be working!  Don't ask what I'm going to do with it... I just like knowing that its there!

2. My first spontaneous lunch date with my HUSBAND!  Starting marriage off healthy with a large vegan salad for him and quinoa tabouleh and sirloin for me.

3. Urban Decay's Naked eyeshadow palette.  Its so great.  This weekend I plan on getting rid of nearly all of my other eyeshadows because this thing covers everything. 

4. Our song came on the radio for the first time since we've been married (a whopping 5 days in)!  It brightened up the sudden rain storm & traffic. 

5. Its Friday!  It took me a few days to catch up on sleep from our wedding weekend so I'm so happy to just lay low.  Perhaps a Homeland marathon?  We're halfway through Season 2.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our {Surprise} Wedding: Reception

Our ceremony and reception were all in the same place: the backyard!  We began with lots of family pictures and I even had the photographer recreate a few shots I had found on Pinterest; I can't wait to see how our professional photos turn out!  

Drinks:  An open bar with cocktail servers.  Also, one of A's sisters made infused lemonades.  One was strawberry/mint and the other was strawberry/orange.  I can't wait to try them at home.  (I'm hoping marriage helps me in my lack of domestic skills..)

Eats: finger food like mini quiches and pastelitos.  Lots of cheeses.  Churrasco.  Mini shishkabobs. Spinach & ricotta crepes.  {I am praying that the photographer took pictures of all of this!}

Sweets: Polverones {soft powdered sugar cookies}, deditos de novia {guayaba filled cookies}, and suspiritos {merengue}.  And of course, wedding cake!  Ours was a simple vanilla cake served with hefty dollops of cream sauce. 

First dance: I'm Yours/Somewhere Over the Rainbow mashup by Jason Mraz.

Father/Daughter dance: The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett.  There are so many great versions of this song but my dad sought out the sloooowest version since neither of us like to dance!  This way we wouldn't have to move so much, hehe. 

We had a DJ, which I certainly was not expecting!  Unfortunately by the time the real dancing started, our photographer had left!  A new brother-in-law taught my mom how to dance salsa, merengue, and we all did a mini Harlem Shake on the dance floor.

Bouquet toss: I don't think there are any pictures of this but I threw the bouquet from a balcony overlooking the party.  Here I am with the girl who caught it and her long-time boyfriend.. 

Garter toss: I had wanted to take some sort of "trash the dress" photos, and I figured that the jacuzzi would be the perfect opportunity - it was so hot that night!  It wasn't until I had finally convinced A to jump in with me at the end of the night that I realized I still had my garter on!  He took it off underwater and his friends made him remove it, (underwater) with his teeth!  Poor guy. 

Although I was a little warm in what felt like a 30 pound dress, the weather was beautiful and I'm so thankful that it didn't rain!  At one point a friend told me, "Look at the sky!  The moon is smiling for you!" and she was right, the half moon was angled perfectly and looked like a happy face.  Although we hadn't planned to have a "real" wedding, I'm glad that we did.  And after our wedding flop a few weeks ago, I can truly say that everything happens for a reason.