I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (And Mangoes Too)

As I mentioned in my last blog post, both of my grandparents ended up in the sticks because they were educators. I failed to mention that my grandpa was also a full time hustler. Besides running an elementary school he ran a copra business that my cousin continues to run to this day. He also has a mango plantation because …the Philippines…. but it’s actually not mango season so I pretty much missed out on any knowledge drop about that.

According to Wikipedia, Copra is the kernel of a coconut. It is dried and then pressed to make coconut oil. My family has been doing this for generations so when I tried to explain to my cousin that coconut oil was so in right now in the US he looked at me like I had ten heads.


Copra has a unique earthy, meaty, tropical scent that I can only associate with the Saluyong. As soon as I arrived and breathed in the air, I immediately traveled back to my childhood in the Philippines. It’s a delicious scent.

My family gets our coconuts from native mountain people and from what I hear they are an interesting bunch. They did not like dealing with my cousin because he looks young so he ended up growing a big gnome-like beard to fit in better. They are pretty demanding group in terms of copra pricing so if they don’t like the price you quote them they will start to stroke their bolo (Filipino machete) and look you down menacingly.

The rest is all business — we dry the copra event more at our family compound and then they watch the rise and fall of copra prices and then sell it to wholesalers at the city. It’s almost like the stock market but island style.

It’s definitely a heart-racing type of job so I am pretty happy that I work in front of a computer all day and so far my run-in count with machetes at the job is zero.

And that my friend is how you get coconut oil! The next time you’re slathering it on your eggs think about my family and the countless other islanders who risk their lives on a daily basis to make sure you get your fill of heart-healthy fats.

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Mabuhay Philippines!

Hola! Or should I say Mabuhay!

Today is my first day back to work after almost a month away in the Philippines. Fortunately (or unfortunately?!?!) jet lag + Daylight Savings Time caused me to wake up at 3 am so I went from over 450 unread emails to just 13. By 8:00 am, I had already eaten a spaghetti dinner, cleaned my apt, and caught up on all of the latest episodes of ‘Once Upon a Time.’

With all of this extra time, I thought I’d take you on a little walking tour of my mom’s hometown.

Nestled among the foothills of the mountains, Saluyong is rather removed from the comforts of the outside world. Yet it is rich in natural resources — I showered with water from a fresh spring, had access to all the coconuts I could eat, and woke up to the sounds of roosters crowing every morning. At first it was a bit annoying since roosters wake up really early, but with a sunrise view like this…how can you be mad? #HashBrownNoFilter

My family lives almost directly across from the elementary school, where both of my grandparents were sent away to teach when they were younger (think Laura Ingalls Wilder but island style). They were one of the first people to help develop the school and my grandfather eventually became principal. He told me that he was the first person to have a motorcycle in the area and my grandma used to ride in the back!

This is my niece hanging out in our family garden right before pre-school. Isn’t her uniform adorable?

There’s no WiFi here (which meant I -TOTALLY- missed out on the drama that unfolded between Khloe and Lamar while I was gone) so kids have to entertain themselves in other ways. These children are part of the local scouting program and here they are learning to build tents out of palm leaves since there is no REIs or LL Beans in Saluyong.

Tug of War is an international game but instead of rope these kids are using bamboo. Like most American kids, basketball is life for many Filipino youths…but their courts sure do not look anything like the courts at home.

Rob and I are seriously scratching our heads on how children play basketball on a grass court. Not pictured in this frame, a loose piglet about three feet away.


One of (pretty much the only) main attraction in Saluyong is a natural spring pool that is owned by the family of one of my the family of my mom’s childhood best friend. To get there we walked past the school, into a bunch of random coconut trees, crossed the river, past the water buffalo, past the chicken and dog playing together, up a small mountain and finally beautiful, sweet, cool relief.


That’s it for now! If I’m still jet lagged tomorrow check back for information on the secret world of coconut oil.


Once Upon a Thai









Thailand is not just beaches and elephants. It has a long storied history and a very rich culture. We loved riding a long boat through the waterways of the Chao Phraya River, climbing the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, and the more modern temples in Bangkok.

Here are a few fun facts that I learned!

  1. If you find a white elephant you must present it to the royal family where it will live out the rest of his life in luxury. White elephants are considered sacred a sign of virtue and wealth.
  2. At almost every building or house you will see a miniature, highly decorative shrine in front of it. These are called spirit houses and are designed to provide shelter for the spirit’s of a previous building’s occupants.
  3. Transgenders (or kathoeys) are considered the third gender in Thailand. They are widely accepted into society  and I can tell you for myself that their contouring skills would put any Kardashian to shame. The average sex change operation (male to female) cost is approximately $8,000.
  4. Chang and Eng, two of the most famous Siamese twins are from Thailand (originally called the Kingdom of Siam). After they joined the PT Barnum Circus they adopted the name “Bunker” and became American citizens. They married two sisters and had 21 children in total.
  5. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ice cream toppings. Think: sticky rice, sweet potato, corn kernels, water chestnuts, pumpkin, red beans, gooseberries, and mung beans!

Eating My Way Through Thailand

When Rob and I first started dating, we became obsessed with the show No Reservations. My favorite episodes were always the ones where he went to a Southeast Asian country and tried their street food. It vaguely reminded me of my childhood in the Philippines and everything (except the rats and the crickets) looked so mouthwatering delicious that when we planned our honeymoon to Thailand we decided we would only exclusively eat at street cafes. #ShopLocal

Bangkok is the capital of street food! It was impossible to turn a corner and not run into a purveyor or something delicious. The first few days we were so jetlagged that we would wake up past midnight to eat dinner. While most of the restaurants were closed, night markets ruled the scene. It awesome to fulfill our pad thai craving at all hours of the night.

I’ve always had an aversion to eating any food where the colors were not found in nature. That being said, I was super impressed with this plastic contraption that allowed us to tote our beverage easily throughout the market. I wish I could bring my own to cocktail parties so I don’t have to live in fear of spilling my wine anymore.

Roasted pork with extra crispy skin, gravy, rice, AND a soft boiled egg? It must be my birthday! Bring on the cholesterol pills!

Rob was obsessed with the meat on a stick vendor. Pretty much every time we walked past it, he HAD to grab one to snack on.

These little griddle cakes are hollow in the middle and filled with coconut custard. It was pretty much the best thing I’ve eaten ever.

Street market jerky. It’s a little bit sweet and a lot more pliable than Ameircan jerky. It tastes fantastic with sticky rice.

I wanted to take this giant bag of fried fish skin home but it would not fit in my luggage. I settled for a more portable version but it just wasn’t as beautiful as this one.

I’m a true believer of the mantra that it’s not a true island vacation unless you’re drinking out of a coconut.

On our last few days at the beach the boy and I subsisted wholly on fish — roasted, fried, grilled and fresh from the ocean! Our waiter commended us on our ability to eat pick fish like a local. #Skillz

I could smell this chicken simmering from over a block away.

Fresh produce at the local market! Look how tiny those little eggplants are in the bottom left corner. My dad likes to pickle them and eat them as a side dish at home!

Rob was absolutely obsessed with this meat on a stick vendor and made me stop here every time we passed by (which was pretty much every time we left our hotel in Bangkok). It’s the perfect nightcap!

Fruit shakes are a must in Thailand. It’s the perfect way to beat the heat! Rob’s favorite flavor was mango but mine was coconut.


Everyday I’m Hustlin’

I know I have used this space as a personal blog, but I recently realized that a lot of people are curious about my job at Yelp. While my Instagram may look like it, I promise I don’t eat out every single day. Here’s a few quick facts about what I do for a living so we can get back to what’s really important — Jake or Fitz (And the answer is Jake. Duh!).


  • As a Community Manager, my job is to be the online and offline face of Yelp here in the DC area.
  • Yelp’s Headquarters are in San Francisco but we have Community Managers around the world including places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, São Paulo, and Rotterdam. #WhoRunstheWorld
  • I am not paid to write reviews. The reason I write reviews (and have been doing so for the past seven years) is because I love sharing insider knowledge on my favorite haunts and getting the dish from other locals like myself. Life without reviews would be life without Meat in a Box and that is a very sad life indeed.

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  • Every week I write and publish a newsletter which goes out to subscribers who live in the District! Looking to get your coffee buzz on?  What about having  a little slice of Havana without ever hopping on a plane? My newsletter has got your back!


  • I also get to plan my own events for the Yelp community as well! They are free to attend and give Yelpers a chance to get up-close and personal with business owners and learn about their craft. Events can range from six-course wine and steak dinners for thirty people to hotel blow outs with over 1,200 people, 50+ vendors, and entertainment. I throw about three or more events a month. Want to learn more? Visit yelp.com/events and yelp.com/elite for more information.10632793_10152182610051533_2991545479005083337_n
  • I train businesses on how to use  Yelp’s free suite of business tools and give them tips and tricks on how to maintain their online presence. I usually meet with businesses on an individual basis but have also gotten the chance to speak at the DC Tourism Board’s public form as well.
  • I help Yelpers give back to the community! Over the past year we adopted DC Central Kitchen as a charity partner and every month we respond to their direct needs such as creating snack packs for their after-school program, preparing meals, and collecting warm winter weather wear. Since 2014, we have collected thousands of dollars for their program!


  • For those not involved with the Yelp community there is a misconception that Yelpers are a bunch of people hiding behind their computer. That is not the case at all! A majority of Yelpers are just regular folk from all walks of life who love sharing information with others. Even celebrities have gotten on to the Yelp game! Mila Kunis, Jared Leto and Christina Hendrix have publicly said they were fans and Jerry Seinfeld and Wale are actively contributing their thoughts to the site.


  • I work from home which means on any given day there is a high probability of me wearing yoga pants. When I’m feeling adventurous or social, I work at coffee shops, fancy hotel lobbies, Union Market (my favorite spot), bagel shops, bars, and even my rooftop pool.
  • I love my job because I get to meet and work with a lot of interesting and passionate people and because I get the chance to make the city that I’ve lived in for over 25 years a wonderful place to be.











Antiquing in the Country

Goodbye City. Hello Country.

About an hour away from Washington, DC is the small, sleepy town of Lucketts, Virginia. Nestled between fields of sheep and several vineyards, a day trip to the Old Lucketts Store is one of my favorite ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. The rickety rooms are stuffed to the brim with all types of treasures….from weathered furniture, to tiny cordial cups to mink hats from the 1950’s.

Amber and I had so much fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of this store. After we packed up all of our vintage finds, we headed out to The Wine Kitchen in Historic Leesburg for red wine flights and chocolate cherry cake. I can’t imagine a more perfect day with my best friend!









Woman Crush Wednesday: Tina Belcher


During the month of December when Rob and I’s regularly scheduled shows went on break we became obsessed with Bob’s Burgers, a cartoon about the adventures of a man, his family, and his restaurant in a nondescript seaside town.

Watching the show, I especially felt an affinity to Bob’s oldest daughter Tina who pretty much is my 12-year old doppelganger, minus the barrette. I learned early on that I was more Daria than Quinn, Tai than Cher, and Molly than Samantha. Like most girls, I fretted over this fact and tried to fit in. Tina Belcher is  the exact opposite of my adolescent self, she embraces her weirdness and makes no apologies for who she is. She’s fun, fearless and my pick for my first Woman Crush Wednesday Post.

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.









Welcome to the Jungle!

The highlight of Rob and I’s trip to Khao Sok National Park was getting up close and personal with elephants but to stop there would be an insult to the majestic beauty we encountered along the way. We were able to explore the area several ways: via canoe, speedboat, vintage Burmese junk ship, and by foot. But enough words, I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story!

The day we arrived it was pouring rain, but that did not stop us from jumping in a river canoe. The craggy limestone cliffs and fog give the whole scene a Lord of the Rings feel…Am I right?

We took a speedboat to explore a nearby mangrove where we encountered monkeys, snakes, birds and other wildlife. Also, I’m too cool for a life jacket.

Thai people greet each other with the ‘wai’ (demonstrated above) which can be used to express respect, gratitude or apologies.

We took this classic Burmese junk ship right to the mouth of the Andaman sea where we got to picnic and swim on a private island for the afternoon.

Originally we thought this jellyfish was a pink plastic bag floating in the water. Boy were we wrong! I am still amazed that our ship captain picked it up with his bare hands.


Our jungle trek included a raft ride! There were tons of fish in the water and they jumped through the little slits of the bamboo when we threw food in the river.

After our trek, we were led to a small little open hut where we got to participate in a Thai cooking class.

Roasted pork and chicken grilled over open coals. We also learned to make coconut milk from scratch!




The Weekend Update

+ Date night at La Granja de Oro where I discovered the best dish known to man, lomo saltado. Basically it’s beef strips sauteed in onions and peppers, on top of a bed of french fries, and then smothered in gravy….with some rice on the side. Totally fit for a Peruvian lumberjack. It basically put me to sleep.
+ Drinks with our potential new neighbors!
+ Remember this post about New Year’s Resolutions? Well consider item #4 halfway crossed off because I painted our kitchen lemongrass green!

+ Happy Birthday Kathleen! Homemade pho FTW!
+ Happy Birthday Charlie Brown! Costco pizza and vanilla mousse birthday cake FTW!
+ Happy Housewarming Charlie + Clarissa! For those who don’t know Charlie and Clarissa, they are basically Rob and I’s doppelganger couple.
+ Two hour play-doh sesh with Alina – It must have been pretty epic because when we left she yelled “Uncle Robbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb!!!!!!” and started to cry. She also calls me “Timi” now but I think it’s because she has problems saying “K” sounds. I read her a book and she called a cow a “tow” and a cat a “tat.” We tried to take a selfie with her but this photo was the best we could do.
+ Studio 504 brunch with the sister and a few other friends. We had mimosas, 1/3 pound of bacon each, and coconut macadamia nut waffles. Kassie brought over her American doll that she named Mickey and they wore matching hairstyles which Kassie described as an ” Orthodox Jew ponytail. Because it is very reserved in the front, but… party in the back!” AKA, my niece is a huge Pitch Perfect fan. Kassie is very interested in all of Rob’s action figures and she always sits and looks at them and asks tons of questions. I could tell Rob was touched because he instinctively reached out to her, ruffled her hair, hugged her and kissed her on the head. I swear my ovaries released an egg at that very moment because it was the cutest thing ever.
+ Spaghetti night! I’m normally not a spaghetti fan but I recently found a recipe for homemade pasta sauce that makes me want to eat it every, single day (no lie it was the second time we ate spaghetti this week!). Rob ate three bowls! We tried to watch the Golden Globes but honestly I’m not much of a fan of award shows. Instead I’ll probably spend a good ten minutes pouring over all of the recaps on Buzzfeed this morning.

Triple the Babies, Triple the Fun

Once upon a time, I bonded with a girl entirely based on the fact that we could consume more beef and broccoli than anybody else at our table (boys included). Our common interest blossomed into friendship and soon we were causing trouble all over town.



My sister and I were lucky enough to be in her wedding too! Here is a photo of Kat and I holding her dress and taking our jobs very, very seriously.


We grew old, she became a doctor….I started a blog…you know how the story goes. Now she is the mother of not one but three beautiful girls! Rob and I were jonesing for a hit of some of that sweet, sweet newborn smell so we decided to gas up the car and pay a visit to Tiff and her family up in Maryland.



Sweet Ari teaching me the right way to focus my lens. “This is the way you do it!!”







Let’s not forget Brody too!

How lucky is she to have such a sweet family? I hope one day that my kids are just as awesome.


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