Monday, August 27, 2012

Jibarita Eats: Annabel's

This weekend we visited a new brunch spot, Annabel's in Mt.Lookout. We were in the neighborhood getting our new license plates for Lola and Yelp led us to this tasty spot. We did have to wait almost an hour to be seated but since we weren't in a hurry we enjoyed the wait in the quaint little street.

The inside is cozy (code for tiny) but comfortable and just a really cute place overall. I ordered the Carrot Pumpkin Faux Toast while Tomas ordered Buttermilk Corn Cakes. 

My faux toast tasted good but after a couple of bites the taste was very overwhelming. It wasn't what I expected and certainly didn't love it.

Tomas' corn cakes were delicious! They were definitely the highlight of our brunch. They were very buttery, light and tasty. I would go back and wait another hour just for a taste of these puppies.

Overall: Quaint little place, creative yet limited menu with items that might be hit or miss.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bald Headed Husband

Tomas has always considered shaving his head once his baldness got too serious but he wanted to try once before starting work. That way if he looked ridiculous he wouldn't to face work colleagues the next day. He was especially worried of how he would look with a bald head but with a full beard.  I love that beard so if he would ever shave it off there would be serious consequences.

He visited the Art of Shaving @ Kenwood Mall which is styled as an old school barbershop.

Here is the final result!

I think it looks goood! In my eyes he looks pretty much the same. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jibarita Eats: Arthur's

Burgers.... Suddenly last night I had an intense craving for the fresh flavors of a good juicy burger unfortunately it was already time for bed. 

Today, after couple of computer keyboard clicks, we were headed to Hyde Park to venture into Arthur's, one of the top spots for burgers in Cincinnati. Lucky for us Sun-Tues its Burger Madness, with 6 toppings for $7.99. We topped our burgers with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, green peppers and BBQ sauce and ordered a side of sweet potato fries. 

The burgers were sooo yummy! We ordered the meat Medium Rare and the burgers was cooked perfectly to that point. The ingredients all tasted very fresh which was much appreciated. The bun wasn't that good but the great taste of the rest of the ingredients made up for it. We will definitely be back for some more!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jibarita Eats: Taste of Belgium

One our first restaurant discoveries in Cincinnati was the gloriousness of Taste of Belgium in Over The Rhine. We stumbled across this top brunch spot on a late afternoon while waiting for an event at the recently renovated Washington Park. Since every other restaurant in the vicinity has an hour long wait we decided to adventure into this land of waffle.

We both decided to try the iconic Chicken and Waffles dish since that was probably something we wouldn't have been able to find any place else. The chicken was rich and juicy and the coating was toasted to perfection. The waffle... hmmm honestly not my favorite. I prefer a slightly sweeter and softer waffle like the ones I had at Bruges Waffles in Salt Lake City.  We also ordered some dessert waffles and while yummy once again the waffle was very very stiff and not as sweet as I would have liked it.Taste of Belgium had some tough competition in the waffle department but I guess it held it own.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

House Buying Begins

I'm so happy Tomas is finally "home" it feels like real life can finally begin now that he's here. Part of this real life thing is finally getting to start the house hunting. As part of the relocation benefits at my new job, I get some help buying a house as long as I buy within my first year on the job.

We definitely want to take advantage of these perks, so as soon as Tomas landed in Cincinnati we've been trying to narrow down what we are looking for in a potential house before actually starting the house buying process. For the sake of research we've been going to a few open houses to help determine what we should have on our must-have list. After seeing some 8+ houses we have a better idea of what we would like to buy.

Must Haves:
  • 2 story
  • 4 bedrooms
  • at least 2.5 bathrooms (With the master bedroom having it's own bath)
  • Open floor plan
  • Usable basement
  • Hardwood floors throughout
  • 2 car garage
We are hoping to buy for something around $250,000 but we are willing to go up to $300,000 for a house with all updated amenities (kitchen, bathrooms,finished basement etc.). We are also open to the idea of buying a fixer-upper as long as the price is near $200,000.

Here are some pictures of houses we've seen so far and have really liked:

House #1

This kitchen I can work with
Great sized backyard
 House #1 was the first house we saw and the downstairs and basement were awesome! Unfortunately the second floor had no bathroom and had slanted ceilings that cut off a lot of space in the bedrooms.

 House #5

Big, spacious master bedroom
Updated galley kitchen
HUGE backyard
Of the dozen or so houses we've seen so far, this is our favorite. It had alot of the things that are on our must have list except it was a ranch with no basement. It definitely wasn't the "one" but it was nice to get a little bit closer to finding a house with everything we'd like to have.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mediterranean Cruise Honeymoon: The Tips and Tricks

Saying that we had an incredible time on our honeymoon is an understatement! It was the trip of a lifetime and I'm so glad that we decided to start our life as a married couple with such a bang. I'd  like to toss around a few suggestions to those of you that might be planning on taking a European cruise honeymoon.

1. Pack light!

I cannot stress this enough! Pack a little clothing as possible, which might not seem so simple when your spending 3 weeks in a other country with limited access to laundry. We spent 18 days in Europe and everything was packed in the 2 backpacks shown below and one small garment bag.

My wardrobe for this honeymoon consisted mostly of dresses. I'd wear them for dinner with nice heels and jewelry and them wear them again some other day atop leggings with my Crocs.

In contrast, our friend C and L, packed 2 HUGE suitcase( bottom left) in addition to 2 backpacks. These things could easily fit me inside, they were humongous and a pain to travel with. I think they definitely learned their lesson.

Another good thing of packing light was that since only Tomas had a checked bag, I was able to check a bag full of souvenirs on the flight back home for free.

2. Do a bit of Research

I did a ALOT of research before the trip but you may be able to get by, by only using this book.
Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports
Rick Steve's Mediterranean Cruise Ports
It features most of the cities covered in a Mediterranean cruise. It has information on tour guides, restaurants, maps, directions to attractions and recommendations on how to "Skip the Line" or "Where to buy tickets in advance". The part of the book that we loved the most was the walking tours of the major cities. The one we followed in Athens was one of the highlights of the trip!

Unfortunately seeing Europe by cruise means you only get to see a city for a couple of hours and his book/walking tours definitely made us make the best of them, helping us avoid 3 hour long lines and to squish in as much as possible into our day. Its the perfect companion for someone traveling on a cruise DIY style.

3. Find the time to enjoy all the cruise ship has to offer.

Mediterranean ports are wonderful and it's easy to get wrapped up in all the grandeur and wonder but don't neglect the amenities a cruise ship offers. We had an absolute blast on the cruise portion of the honeymoon! The Mariner of the Seas is a great ship, with good food and lots of things to do. I feel I should warn you that Mediterranean cruises do cater more to a retired crowd, so those of you expecting the party atmosphere that can be found in some Caribbean sailings will be a bit disappointed. We enjoyed the laid back vibe since it made for a quieter more intimate atmosphere perfect for us honeymooners.

4. Find time to slow things down and turn up the romance.

Though we did go on our honeymoon with friends (The awesome C and L - who got engaged during our stay in Istanbul) we had more than our fair share of private and romantic moments. On our second night aboard, I surprised Tomas by hauling him down to the pool deck at 2am after a night of salsa dancing, so that we could chill in the Jacuzzi tub for a while. At that hour the deck was deserted and it was super nice to be able to just relax and spend some quality time with each other and let all the wonderful things that had happened in the last few days just sink in.

We also celebrated our one week as Mr. and Mrs. on board.We got all dressed up and after a nice dinner, we celebrated at the Mariner of the Seas wine bar. We were the only ones there and the atmosphere was super romantic and intimate. We celebrated yet again on our last night on the ship, having dinner at the ship's steakhouse while watching an incredible sunset.

Taking an European honeymoon can be very overwhelming, so don't forget to sit back, relax and focus on the two of you for a while.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

3 Day Getaway: Rome

We are that crazy newlywed couple that left for their honeymoon immediately after the wedding. We left our wedding reception at two pm, raced home for a quick change and shower before commencing the two and half hour drive to the airport where we would catch our six pm flight to Rome. Thankfully there weren't any car accidents, road constructions or flat tires to contend with, so we made it to the airport with plenty of time. After spending a total of 16 hours traveling, which we mostly spent sleeping, we arrived in the Eternal City. We took a taxi from the airport and and got our first look of this gorgeous city on the ride to the hotel. 

Tiny glimpse of the Colosseum at the end
We arrived, check-in, dropped our bags and sped out to enjoy the last few hours of daylight. I have to say that staying at Hotel Morgana was one of the best decisions we made about on the trip. The hotel is really close to the train station, has INCREDIBLE service and I thought our room was gorgeous. What do you think? Not too shabby a place to spend our first night as a married couple ; )

My first experience in Europe was magical. Still basking in the newlywed bliss, everything seamed so much more beautiful and romantic. We had a couple of hours of daylight left so we wandered around and tried to take everything in. In the wandering around, we happened upon the Spanish Steps just as the sun was going down.

A little more wandering around and a few hours later we happened upon the Trevi Fountain. We basically just walked right into it. We were walking in it's general direction and the fountain kind of creeped out of nowhere. 

After staring/taking pictures of the fountain for a solid hour we to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. The food was pretty uneventful, so much so that I don't even remember the name of the restaurant I just remember being insanely tired. 

On the second day, we visited the Ancient part of the city, walking until our legs almost fell off.

Visiting the Colosseum was Tomas's favorite part of Rome. As avid fans of Spartacus, walking around the ancient building made what we had watched on television so much more real. We got to walk the sand that the ancient gladiators had walked and Tomas got super excited about it (When we arrived back home, he would watch Spartacus for hours)
Colosseum Arena
We walked from the Colosseum all the way up to the Pantheon, enjoying the beautiful Roman architecture along the way.

The last day of our honeymoon was spent back in the wonderful city of Rome, this time visiting the treasures inside Vatican City. You could say we saved the best for last!

Castel Sant'Angelo
First Glimpse of Vatican

Vatican City was the perfect end to the perfect honeymoon. St.Peter's Cathedral is simply breathtaking...there are no words to do this place justice. We were completely awestruck with the magnitude and beauty it holds. It's truly remarkable. 

Taking Mass at St.Peter's Cathedral