Pope Francis in Philly

I’ve visited this city 8 years ago, and its memory never left me. Philadelphia is unique with its history, friendly residents, and great urbanism. When we planned to take a trip there to visit my close friends along with seeing Pope Francis, I knew it was going to be an even more memorable trip.

First off, we explored the city in a less tourist-y perspective. My dear friends Carolina and Josh have been living there for over a year so they took on the role as our tour/food guides. I was excited to find that fall had started in Philly (unlike Louisiana). The leaves turned from green to yellow and fell from the trees as the breeze took them away. That made it relaxing and pleasant to walk everywhere. I couldn’t get enough of the homes and cute alleys.DSCF1193-3-2DSCF1343-1DSCF1411-1

We strolled through the Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest (and cutest) residential street in America. DSCF1334-1

Anytime we were hungry, we could always count on nearby cafes and dessert shops to pick up a warm cup of vanilla cappucino or French macarons.

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Our first meal of the day was of course a Philly cheesesteak. We made our way to south of Philadelphia where the cheesesteaks were said to be the “real thing” and taste exceedingly better.  It was a cheese overload that I happily cannot complain about!
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We completed lunch with a little dessert, Nutella mini-canolis at the Italian market.
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Then we made our way north where the crowds were. Pedestrians took over the streets where cars usually dominate. Instead of engines and honks, you hear people laughing, singing, and music in the distance. People from all over the country and world gathered that weekend for one purpose: to see Pope Francis.  I was so happy to be among them. It was a great experience, and I’m glad to check that off my bucket list.
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Despite being stuck in the crowds, walking many miles in a day, standing for long periods of time, waiting to get through security checkpoint, and sitting in dirt, I have to say it was all worth it to see Pope Francis waving eagerly and smiling at us as though he’s greeting familiar faces. This experience is going to be hard to ever forget.DSCF1470-14

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Hunting for the Best Coffee in Houston, TX

Saturday morning, we ran around Houston, TX like caffeine addicts on the hunt for the best macchiatos and lattes. We visited four coffee shops and hit the jackpot each time! Just from the research, it seemed like Houston had its fair share of coffee gurus. There were so many that we wanted to try.

Our first stop was at PaperCo Cafe — a modern cafe that’s connected to a church. It was inside of a warehouse-type building with windows as large as garage doors. The dawn’s lighting was gorgeous. I loved the fact that we were greeted with a charming, blue door. The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful, and the coffee and breakfast sandwich were delicious. The potato chips were extra crispy and slightly sweet making it perfect for breakfast. To top that off, there were yellow picnic tables outside with the view of Houston’s skyline! This place was a hidden gem with an amazing view.

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Our second stop was Agora. I was craving a green tea latte by then, but unfortunately we didn’t see it on the menu. That didn’t stop me from snapping some pics of the interior though. It was a two-story cafe with a very artsy and poetic vibe. The outside patio had a view of a large, colorful graffiti wall so I had to take a picture with it, even if I had to squint for the photo.

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Our third stop was Catalina Coffee. Immediately, I was in love with the tables they set up outside. The trees provided shade enough to keep you cool from the Texas sun. The breeze felt so nice that day, and we had to enjoy it while it was there. We were able to find a table outside just in time despite the crowd. Kasey — the lovely guy behind the camera (and my boyfriend) — ordered his second macchiato, and I opted for a warm chai latte for the sake of fall weather.

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The next morning, we made our fourth and final stop at Blacksmith Coffee. This one was crowded on a Sunday morning, but I tried the best hot vanilla latte there. It was so good that I wouldn’t change anything about it. It was warm and sweet enough with the right amount of coffee. I thought their latte art and presentation skills were superb as you’ll see in the pictures. Unfortunate, my camera was out of battery, and I also forgot to pack my charger (typical me) so you’ll have to see it through pictures from my iPhone.

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Each time we visit Houston, there is one place we always have to eat for lunch… Ruggles Green! This restaurant wins our heart every single time. If you’re familiar with that restaurant, you’ll know just how delicious it is! They serve the best healthy, flavorful food! We drove to the one in City Centre and ordered our usual: the buffalo burger, sweet potato fries, and margherita pizza! You can view pictures of it and my details of my outfit here.

Ice Cream Mac Sandwiches

With the humidity so high, making macarons has been a pain. I was so happy to feel that the humidity decreased lately. All I can say is thank you! These were made for my mom’s birthday and oh man, were they hard to resist. I definitely think this is my new favorite way to eat ice cream. They are so dainty and bite sized! You get a perfect amount of sweetness and texture in just one bite. My family instantly fell in love when they came home to such a sweet surprise. It’s safe to say that these delectable little sandwiches are my new signature dessert!

I used this recipe for the macaron: French Macarons

As for the ice cream, just choose whichever is your favorite!

– Chi

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Best Restaurant in Lafayette: Bread & Circus

Lafayette has finally earned a gem. This restaurant has the best selection of Southern food in Lafayette, LA. Bread & Circus has turned into an original, and there’s certainly no one in their way to the top.  We eat there WEEKLY, and when we don’t, we’re thinking about eating there. It’s the restaurant your brain’s calling for when you’re thinking of a different but still familiar place to eat. The menu is creative in taking what you know and giving it an upgrade. It’s fantastic. The item I recommend that you try first:  The John Jordan. If you’ve ever had a traditional Vietnamese po-boy (“banh mi”), you will love The John Jordan. It takes the best elements to “banh mi” like the crunchiness of the French baguette, the crispness of fresh pickled veggies, and the sweet butter and load it up with more deliciousness: PORK RIB. Sadly, it’s not pictured in my post, but please enjoy the view of their Juicy Lucy burger, the beef grillade & grits plate lunch, creamy veggie risotto, and Bread & Circus’s rustic interior.

– Chi

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Hot Day in Houston

Let me just start by saying there is NO SUN as scorching hot as a Texan sun! Goodness, I thought Louisiana had it bad, but we’ve got plenty of trees to use as shade unlike Houston–where you could be standing somewhere and there’s nowhere to hide except inside a nearby coffee shop. And that’s exactly what we did.

We did some research and found that locals claimed Boomtown’s coffee was the best in the city. They were right. I’ve tried a lot of great coffee, and Boomtown was definitely up there. I opted for the ice latte (of course). Anyone who got a hot cup of coffee in the middle of Texas’ hottest day could possibly be classified as crazy (I’m talking to you, KC).

On the bright side, we found cute grafitti art, and it made the world a better place.

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