Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve dinner at downtown San Mateo

Was feeling a little under the weather today despite having a good night's sleep. Actually, make that very under the weather because of the onslaught of once-a-month cramps. Why oh why do women have to endure that.

Halfway through working on next week's itinerary (and holding a heat pad to the stomach for dear life), Panda called from the office and asked if I have bathed.

"Huh? Yes, I have." I had to bring our smelly trash to the rubbish bins downstairs and I figured that I better not let our neighbours see me in this sad and dirty state.

"I've booked a table for us at the Italian restaurant at 6pm. Can you get ready in time?"

It was close to 5pm and I had a split second to decide if I should stay at home, crouch over in bed and rot through the last day of 2012, or brave the pain and go ahead with dinner.

Needless to say, dinner plan won because it's been a while since we've gone to a nice restaurant with good ambience!

Here are the photos of our dinner at Osteria Coppa in downtown San Mateo. The service is excellent and I didn't regret coming out of my hole to enjoy the festive atmosphere. We say thanks to a wonderful 2012, and cheers to an amazing, soon-to-come 2013!

Taking on Five Guys

Panda is obviously in a state of mental and physical struggle. He has just received the shock of his life when his burger arrived.

See, we are still trying to adjust to the serving portions in US. He is promoting Five Guys burgers in the video but the 'bigness' of the burger completely caught him by surprise.

Check out the pained expression as his takes his first bite.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

To the mall we go again...

We confess. We have been shopping way too much for our own good ever since we set foot on this country. I have lost track of the number of times we've hit the Premium outlets in Gilroy and Livermore... adding Napa Valley as the latest on the list.

I have to say though that Great Mall is the fairest of them all. Other than the fact that it's nearest to our home, the mall is fully indoors compared to the rest which consists of rows and blocks of boutiques in open air. Which, of course, makes it the perfect place to go in this cold rainy December weather.

Today, our loot was a pair of Oakley radar shades (for me) and more Bath & Body Works stuff. Small victories, compared to what we would have bought a month ago.

When we first arrived in US, we were shocked at how cheap the prices of popular US brands are compared to back home. At the outlets, there are always additional discounts on top of the already marked down prices. Coach, Kate Spade, A&F, Aeropostale, Nine West, Gap, Timberland... Safe to say that we would never buy them anywhere outside US again!

However, we have also quickly learnt to pace ourselves and not be lured by the big discount signs outside the shops. Every week the brands promise bigger discounts or more attractive package deals; we realised after a while that these endless chase of 'value-for-money' products does little but burn a bigger and bigger hole in our pockets.

Our current strategy is to focus on the thing we need, be each other's shopping critic (e.g. you really don't need that... nah that doesn't look nice anyway...), and get out of the mall as fast as our little legs can carry us once we've got what we wanted. Don't look left, don't look right. Just link our arms and head for the car and go, go, go!

Success: Made my intended Oakley purchase without buying anything extra.

Failed: We didn't need B&BW stuff... but we got some cos they were going as low as US$3!

This is certainly not part of our shopping list! :D


On a separate note, sharing photos of our simple, yummy lunch at Liang's Kitchen at Milpitas and our coffee break at Peet's at Burlingame:

Taiwanese cafe recommended by Panda's colleague.

Demonstrating the art of tea pouring.

Hakka 板条 and traditional 卤肉饭


Peet's Coffee: Some folks claim that this is the place where real coffee is sold (jab at Starbucks)!

Verdict: It's cheaper than Starbucks but I still prefer the latter.

Check out the cool silver fire hydrants at Burlingame.

It's been a while... since we landed!

So... I have been tasked by Kungfu Panda to start a new blog about our life in US. It's been more than a month since we first arrived in US. We have settled in rather smoothly and quickly, thanks to kind friends who provided advice on everything we need to know and took us on many orientation trips (read: shopping and eating). We also managed to get the car and house settled within our first week.

Wouldn't have done all that without the grace of God, who by the way, sent us the biggest, fattest rainbow we have ever seen on our first day. Definitely a morale booster.

Well in this first post I thought it's apt to share what our house looks like. Even though it's supposed to be a short work stint, we thought it's still good to create a decent, cosy living environment. So here goes:

My workstation, the open kitchen!

The perpetually messy dining table.

My mini DIY bookshelve and dressing table.

The living room + IKEA sofa bed for guests.

The only bedroom in the house
(Bonus: a walk-in wardrobe on the unseen left)
When we showed Mom the house via FaceTime the other day, she said it looked strangely similarly to our house back home. I think we subconsciously miss our little French seaside cafe (with fake fireplace and white bricks and poster bed!) This is really... home away from home.