Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yum Yum!

Usually strained finances and expensive meals don't go together, but this is me we're talking about . . and I've been eating well lately. And documenting it, of course.

A few weeks ago, my roommate, a fellow food lover and fantastic cook, mentioned a new chocolate restaurant in town. We had no plans on a Friday night, so at 8:30pm we headed to Coco Sala. First of all, restaurant isn't exactly the right word for it. And we shouldn't have been surprised as the name means chocolate lounge. It was more of a posh NYC-style bar with modern decor and velvet booths where we looked completely out of place in our flip flops. We declined the owner's offer of a drink at the bar - we just wanted the chocolate! And after a half hour wait, we got it. Plus a few additional delicious appetizers like:

crispy Louisiana crabcake with mango salsa, chipotle chocolate tomato glaze, and avocado cilantro emulsion

mac n cheese with elbow pasta, parmesan and cheddar cheeses, fresh sage, and a cream cheese crust

I was in heaven already.

And then, three courses of chocolate each. My roommate and I shared every dainty treat. Our favorites were:

mini boston cream doughnut with cappuccino panna cotta
milk chocolate, peanut butter and banana foster split &
cinnamon churros with dulce de leche dip
Here's one course:

In Toronto, I took advantage of my travel per diem by treating myself to an extravagant lunch in the classiest neighborhood in town. I later learned that the chef was known as one of the best in the city! No wonder my lunch cost $66! Here's what I ate:

orechiette with braised rabbit, rapini, garlic, and chili - WOW, it was amazing, especially with a yummy glass of Chardonnay

And you know I ordered dessert: chocolate peanut butter bread pudding with caramelized bananas and yogurt sorbet. Words cannot describe.

And this week it was Lebanese food. It had been too long. Again, my roommate and I went to dinner together, ordering a bottle of wine and six small plates to share. It left me perfectly satisfied . . and just barely tipsy, oops! My favorite was the phyllo breaded and fried shrimp with a tahini pistachio sauce.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'd sleep sheetless for her

I'm back from another summer weekend at the beach, ready (but not feeling ready) to take on the big week ahead, the week where I finish planning and preparing for my little sister's wedding festivities. I can't believe I'll be home in just one week! I hope that week at home is the slowest week of my life, because I want to savor every last moment with Alyssa P_____. I don't even care if she hogs the sheets.

Ok, that last part was a lie. I will always hate it when she hogs the sheets. But maybe not as much this time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

my trip thus far

Word to the wise: Mark your clear 3 oz. bottles when you travel! Since arriving, I have attempted to both clease and moisturize my face with Aveda curl cream! I knew something didn't feel right, but all my liquids are the same color! And they all seem to smell the same, as well.

Twenty-four hours later, I have survived the conference thus far. I've been extremely well-fed and have met lots of nice people, mainly men. I say this only because I often wish I had more females to talk to, because maybe they would throw just a little less over-my-head industry language at me . . and maybe we could talk about clothes or make-up for a few seconds. It's not exactly 'natural' to walk around an event all by yourself trying to strike up conversations with hundreds of men, many of whom know several other members in attendance. I knew no one. But I did it. And I got to talk about football. And I got to watch the last few holes of the U.S. Open. So maybe I'm ok with all the men.

The "grand event" was quite the event last night. Each room had a different theme, played different music, had different dancers (ex: flamenco and tango), and served different gourmet snacks. I felt like I was on Top Chef! I have one more briefing tomorrow morning and then I'm off to be a tourist! I've made a list of neighborhoods I'd like to visit, but with only six hours to do everything, we'll see how far I get . .

Monday, June 16, 2008

about to leave my comfort zone

I don't want to go downstairs. I'm up on the 31st floor in my lovely room with its lovely view of the lake, the CN Tower, and many other skyscrapers. The King-size bed is calling my name, and the flat screen TV looks like it might be fun to watch. Also, I'm pretty hungry and perhaps should be ordering room service. But the real reason I don't want to join the conference? I'm kinda scared.

I'm about to be surrounded by hundreds of senior executives, and I am responsible for telling them all about an initiative that I, myself, am still becoming familiar with. Yikes!

I mean, if you called me up right now, I'd have no problem sharing all the details, boring you to tears, and getting excited about it in the process. But you also probably wouldn't ask me any hard questions.

It's always the unknown we're afraid of, the "what ifs", and the chance of failure or not living up to (usually) our own expectations. But, tough! You've just gotta bite the bullet and do what you have to do. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Three weeks until my little sister walks down the aisle. I better go get my dress altered! It still doesn't quite seem real, and I'm sure it won't sink in until I'm there amidst all the final preparations.

Until then, I'll be planning her personal shower, traveling to Toronto for work (and shopping :), spending a weekend at the beach, and picking up the pace at work. A lot going on in the next two weeks, so we'll see how often I get to blog.

Here's what else I've been up to (babysitting the cousins and slalom skiing two weekends in a row):

Sunday, June 08, 2008


What a fantastic first week at work. Not once did I feel anxious or unable to handle this new position, and I was welcomed warmly by all my new colleagues.

On Thursday evening, I visited my Cousin J and his wife, K. My aunt and uncle were in town, and J grilled up some yummy kabobs for everyone. In catching up with everyone, I was asked what I enjoy doing in my free time out here, a question that is always too hard to answer. It could best be summed up in one word: Everything. I am always up to something it seems, so it's hard to nail down what I enjoy doing most. Having just been out to Lake A.nna for the first time this year, I of course mentioned slalom skiing, a sport my family is quite familiar with as my grandmother has lived on a lake for the past thirty years. I described my first ski of the season and found myself saying "my heart just sings when I ski". Um, did I just say that?! Am I that much of a dork?! I mean, it's true, but still!

And my heart sang yet again this weekend, as I was invited out to the lake for the second week in a row. I'm not sure why these guys always invite me, but we do have a great time together sharing our love for the water and the feel of the wind in our faces.

Yesterday was more exhausting than usual when the temps got up to 96 degrees with 94% humidity, proof that I'm not exaggerating when I call this place (D.C.) a swamp. By the end of my ski, I wanted to curl up in a ball under the shade of a tree. I felt like collapsing. But all the fun and sun was well worth it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

had a bad day

Things I wish would not have happened today:
  • the six-block walk (because I still can't find the shuttle schedule) to work in high heels resulting in a blister
  • the absence of lunch
  • the tearing of my lovely brand-new suit pants from catching my heel in the cuff of my pantleg too many times
  • the nearly two hours of unsuccessfully trying to get my ID badge so I can do things like go to the bathroom without an escort; my clearance is not in the system yet
  • the pouring rain/tornado warning that kept me at the "badge place" longer
  • the missing of the last shuttle after work
  • the six-block walk back to the metro with my purse, a small shopping bag around my wrist, a folder tucked under my arm, and my hands holding my long pants up so I could actually wear flip flops home and stop rubbing my blister
  • all the sweating in the humidity

Ugh! Despite all of that, the actual work part of the day was good. I made my first suggestion, which was well-received, and although it was minor, it was nice to have a little confidence boost when facing something so big.

The Kansan and I have been in touch, and we have plans to play golf on Sunday. I'll be honest, even with all our joking and the nice words we've been exchanging, I don't know if this is merely a "friend thing" or what, but the good news is that I'm not worried about it. I would be content just being his friend, and I'm just enjoying the chance to get to know him better. I'm not sure myself if I'd have any interest beyond that, so I can't be upset if he feels the same way. Any other time, I would be overanalyzing and wondering, but fortunately I feel just as chill as the conversations we're having. It's nice for a change.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

first day

I ended my last two days of freedom with a day at the lake, slalom skiing and basking in the warm sun, and a re-organization of my closet. Only I couldn't fit everything in it. And then I got very, very overwhelmed and had to breathe deeply and remind myself that the first day at the job was going to be fine. I didn't want to go to work with my closet in such a mess. I wanted to feel put together and totally prepared.

I took all my suits, my business-y skirts, and my blouses and hung them on one side of my closet, cramming everything else on the other side. As long as I knew what my work wardrobe options were, I would be fine.

And I was. My first day went really well. Scariest comment: "We had three phenomenal candidates, and you were the cream of the crop. We're expecting a lot from you." First of all, I have a hard time believing that first part is entirely true, and not because I have self-confidence issues. Second of all, I hope they don't expect a lot tomorrow because there is just so much to learn.

I also hope I can get a passport in twelve days, because I need one. I had no idea it took weeks to get your passport, so I hope the word 'expedite' means less than two weeks.

I was so blessed today, because so many of my wonderful friends sent me texts and emails wishing me luck and asking me later how it went. I love them. And I love my new job.