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Coffee Crisp and Other Delights from Toronto – Cathy June 13, 2010

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4 days in Toronto.

17th floor room.

4 flights.

10 trips on The Rocket.

22 full size coffee crisps.

My trip in numbers.

Allan and I went to Toronto for a conference he was presenting at – he was absolutely in his element and spoke with great fervor. Everything else was planned around that, but we still had great fun and time to visit a few beautiful restaurants and sites.

We couldn’t go without visiting AGO – the Art Gallery of Ontario. Frank Gehry is a native Torontonian and has his hand in the mesmerizing architecture. Time constrained, we were only able to have brunch at Frank. It was truly an experience. The pancakes were the highlight with their buttery crispness encasing fluffy goodness. The poached egg appetizer laid on top of a bed of greens and Peameal bacon was the perfect compliment to the pancakes. Note to other non-Canadians, do not make a complete arse out of yourself by asking a Canadian server what Peameal is. (Peameal bacon = Canadian bacon, and it’s in everything!) The things you learn while traveling…

Other favorite things:

Fire on the East Side – Comfort food with a southern twist. The short ribs and duck confit quesadilla memories are making me drool.

Tim Hortons donuts.

AGO floating staircase – I really wish we had enough time to peruse the museum.

General Tso’s chicken in Chinatown.

Luminato festival. Free concerts, makeovers, art displays and other events around the entire city.

Toronto’s fabulous public transportation. LA is very jealous.

The design of the Ontario College of Art and Design. It’s a love it or hate it design, and where his conference was.

The walkability of the area and seeing so many dogs on our walk.

And coffee crisp of course! I swear they’re not all for me. They’re for my brother. He’s visiting in two weeks (super excited!). He’ll vouch for me then. And if you’re wondering what a coffee crisp is… It’s a snickers size kit kat that’s coffee flavored. Delish! I’ve got a few extra mini ones if you’re curious. Email me. =)

Safe travels!

A Mango a Day aka Philippine Bliss – Cathy February 19, 2010

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I’m back. =)

I adore the Philippines. I love the tropical fruit available year-round. I love the 90 degree weather in January. I love that it’s where my family is from. I love all the fresh seafood and lechon at every meal.

I miss it.

I traveled to Manila, Cebu, and Bohol with my family and boyfriend for my mom’s side reunion. I don’t think people think of the Philippines and associate it with malls, but that’s a huge part of the culture. Malls are everywhere and huge. For example the SM Mall of Asia is the second largest in the Philippines and the fourth largest in the world at 4.2 million square feet. We’re talking good shops too – Topshop, Aldos, H&M, Bench, etc. It’s a hot country and the malls are a great place for people to go during the day and convene. I definitely stocked up on Topshop. If you’re curious, the current fashion on the streets of Manila are color-filled with lots of sandals that come over the ankle. You can get tons of these type of sandals for under US$20.

ClosetCat: Philippine Sandal Example

fun headpieces for nights out,

ClosetCat: Manila Style example

and back-baring or shoulder emphasizing club tops (this Topshop dress below has both, though you can’t see the back).

ClosetCat: Philippine Nightlife Style

But generally it’s a shorts and tee place (mainly because of the heat). Remarkably, most all schools still have strict uniform policies, so on any given day you’ll see hordes of young men and women in their school uniform. This is typically a long pleated skirt to mid-calf or trousers with a tucked in white button up.

ClosetCat: Philippine Style: School Uniform

Cebu produces the best mangoes in the world. We toured and relaxed – massages, swimming all day, and drinks from the swim-up-bar.

And Bohol is home of the smallest monkey in the world – the tarsier. I think it’s ugly-cute. Like a pug. There’s also the Chocolate Hills that are an endless horizon filled with cute-dainty hills. In the fall they dry up and all turn brown as if it’s a field of chocolate kisses laid out neatly waiting to melt.

We also went to Pagsanjan Falls, I blogged about it pre-trip. You couple up in canoes that two men (one in the front and one in the back) paddle you upstream in. They paddle until they get to a rapids area (there are around 20), where they have one foot inside the canoe and one out literally pushing off the rocks to propel forward. At the end of the rapids (about 1 hour) is a waterfall that you transfer on to a bamboo raft with others where two other men pull you under the waterfall via a thick rope connected to the cave wall beyond the waterfall. It’s a fabulous time where you take in the serene rainforest type scenery and then get pummelled by a waterfall who’s facade looks like a drinking goat. – check it out below. Just beautiful. The best part is on the way back to the city, we buy local buko (young coconut) pie for about US$3. Heavenly.

More posts soon on my necklace finds for the ClosetCat shop.

ClosetCat: Filipino Fruits

ClosetCat: Allan and Me in front of the Chocolate Hills

ClosetCat: Church Candles

ClosetCat: Pagsanjan Falls

ClosetCat: Do you see the goat drinking water?

ClosetCat: Sunrise in Bohol

Charming Gift Guide – Cathy October 16, 2009

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I adore charm bracelets. The idea of having a piece of jewelry that grows with you is just marvelous. I got my charm bracelet from my mom right before I went to study abroad in Florence during University. She gave it to me with a Golden Gate bridge charm (we’re from the Bay Area) because that would be the starting point of all my future trips. So inspirational. It symbolized my growth, my spirit for travel, and a loving relationship. And that’s what is so great about a charm bracelet, it can mean so many different things.

So the goal for mine was to add a silver charm for every spot we traveled to since Florence. It didn’t pan out perfectly as they have NO silver charms in Prague. They’re well known for gold and that was the only thing I could find. C’est la vie. I still adore it.

It is a wonderfully classic gift to give. It’d be perfect for a college graduate, a daughter, a girlfriend, a best friend, anyone.

Some beautiful starting ones are:

Tavernas and Tunics – Shar September 16, 2009

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So, I was walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Plaka area of Athens, pausing frequently to take snapshots of the various quaint, color-schemed cafes that lined this terraced part of town:

Blues and Beiges

Blues and Beiges

Greens and Violets (my fave colors!)

Greens and Violets (my fave colors!)

Browns and Burgundies

Browns and Burgundies

As I approached the Monastiraki area, the cafes and tavernas started giving way to the more standardized clothing and souvenir shops. My friends and I reached a dead end of one alley as we hit a wall just festooned with rich garments – all in the classical Athenian style. A particular piece drew my eye – a short tunic of a saturated midnight blue, embellished with gold thread around the waist.
“22 Euros!” the shop owner piped up as I took the dress off the wall to admire the color. “…But for you, 20 Euros,” he adds with a generous smile – as though I don’t know he’ll say that to anybody.  One-size-fits-all though? That’s odd. The owner encourages me to put it on over my clothes. Although it fit alright, I still felt like this 1-size cut fit too loosely. I’m mini.

Yay or Nay?

Classically Athenian... Yay or Nay?

So, having never been able to say no straight up to nice shopkeepers, I tell him thank you very much and I’ll come back for it.
Thinking back, I’m sure I made the right decision. I’ve found that just because I like certain styles while I’m traveling, it doesn’t mean I’ll feel the same way about it back in the States. Case in point, a pair of Cretan axe earrings that I picked up in Santorini – never worn and gathering dust. Like an artifact.

Welcome Shar September 2, 2009

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My friends call me Shar.

I write often, but have never kept an actual blog. So here goes…

I’m 25 years old and a college graduate with a BA in Literature and a minor in History. I’ve found that I’m drawn irresistibly to the world of academia and have long ignored the more practical fields (I still suspect my family is disappointed I didn’t choose medicine or business). In any case, books had always been my first love, and I decided to remain faithful.

In my two years between degrees (currently in DC working on my Masters in Museum Education), I have worked in both the travel and museum industries. What I love about both is that they offer you the chance to expand your comfort zone and expose yourself to worlds apart from yours. Across time and across the globe, different fashions, cuisines, art, architecture, music and literature will each tell you a different story about the people who use those outlets to express themselves. And any interaction with these stories allow you to see the world differently and so allow you to recreate yourself. These stories and expressions of self are what I mean to collect and share with you.