food · international

Review: Rebecca Ethiopian Cuisine

You already know how I feel about Ethiopian food. While I haven’t recently tried my hand at making more Ethiopian dishes at home, I still find myself frequently craving the savory, flavorful East African dishes. And if I’m craving it, I’m going to have it, whether I make it from scratch or buy it from the pros.

A couple of weeks ago, I caved into my cravings and purchased a vegetarian combo from Rebecca Ethiopian Cuisine, a food truck that serves several locations in Washington, DC.


Photo as snapped by Art P. and posted on Yelp

For starters, the staff are super-friendly, and the food is prepared quickly. While you wait, you can nibble on a free lentil sambusa (at least, every time *I’ve* gone, I’ve gotten a free sambusa: your mileage may vary). I got back to my office and proceeded to chow down. Here’s a photo of my lunch:

Clockwise from top left: tomato fitfit, salad, atkilt wat (cabbage, potatoes and carrots), gomen (collard greens), kik alicha (yellow split peas) shiro wat (powdered chickpea stew), and my favorite, misr wat (red lentils) in the center

The food was great! Everything cooked perfectly and incredibly flavorful. I’m especially fond of their vegetarian combo offering because they have more sides than most of the combos I’ve had at other Ethiopian trucks. Usually, you get 4 or 5 sides when ordering from Ethiopian food trucks; with Rebecca, you get 7 (SEVEN!) sides. The price is very competitive, too: you can get all of this food for $10 before tax.

There is only one drawback when it comes to this truck: I can never predict when they will be close to my job! They don’t have a Twitter account, so whenever I see them, I know I’ve just gotten lucky. If you happen to spot them while you’re out and about in DC, just know that you’ve gotten lucky, too! And then, after you revel in your amazing luck, go ahead and order some food – you won’t regret it!

international · travel

Review: Ibis Styles Nairobi Westlands Hotel

During my incredible trip to Nairobi, I stayed at the Ibis Styles Hotel in the Westlands neighborhood. The recently remodeled hotel is a member of the Accor Hotels family. It is modern, secure and tastefully appointed. I stayed for a week, so I’m pretty comfortable mentioning the pros and cons of the hotel as I experienced it.

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The rooms are small but comfortable. The view isn’t particularly incredible but it’s a major city, so you should expect to see lots of buildings and not a ton of lush greenery. Oh, it was kind of nice to look down from the room and see schoolchildren playing during recess. I could even hear them when the television was turned off: it was fun hearing them laugh.

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Room photo as available on the Accor Hotels website


Views from my window

The hotel security is top notch, quick and pleasant. Had I chosen to drive, I could have parked there for free all week (that’s a big plus!). The hotel has a restaurant on site that served incredible meals (I chose half board, so breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the room). There was also a small cafe that served quick, tasty snacks and small meals. Sadly, these options weren’t available after 11 PM, so if you want to nibble late at night, you’ll either have to stash goodies in your room or be prepared to go out and grab a bite.

? ibis Styles Nairobi Westlands ?

Utamu is the hotel’s restaurant, and Sky Bar is the Cafe



Some of the meals I enjoyed during my stay

One of the advantages of this hotel is the excellent insect control: the room did not have – nor did it need – mosquito nets. During the entire stay, I didn’t experience any bug bites. That may have been because I visited during dry season, but my hunch is that the hotel has a stellar repellant setup to make up mosquito nets unnecessary.

Now, as great as this hotel was, there were some drawbacks. For starters, there is NO space for storing clothing. There are no dressers, and very little hanger space in the room. But what it lacks in storage space it makes up for in room under the beds: it was easy to slide my luggage out of sight. There are also no in-room refrigerators, so you’re limited to room-temp snacks (not a big deal, unless you plan on staying for more than a few days). There is also no in-room iron or ironing board, though there is an ironing room on the floor. Every time I went to iron my clothing, no one else was in there, so I’m guessing this setup works for most people.


Painting in my room

The room shower gets hot enough (yay for that!) but the drainage isn’t so good: water puddled and spilled out of the bathroom no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. That’s a design flaw that I don’t anticipate will be fixed any time soon. However, it was easy to contact room service and get more towels as needed.


Mirror detailing in the room

Also, despite describing itself as having an exchange counter, the staff seemed uncomfortable and confused about exchanging US dollars for Kenyan shillings. Their rate is MUCH higher than going to the ATM at the mall that I visited (The Hub in the Karen neighborhood). It’s easier and more cost efficient to withdraw from the ATM than to exchange money at the hotel. Not a con, per se, but something I’ll remember during my next visit.

So, would I return to Ibis Style Hotel in Westlands? Yes, absolutely! The pros far outweighed any cons, and I was pleased with my stay overall. The only way I’d consider a different hotel in Nairobi is if I planned to stay longer than ten days: I need a dresser in my room LOL!

international · travel

My Time at Nairobi National Museum

You all know how much I loved my time in Kenya. I wanted to make sure that I took in the local history, arts and culture while I was there because, why travel if you don’t wnat to learn about the place you’ve traveled to?

While in Nairobi, I visited the Nairobi National Museum. This museum DID NOT disappoint! I took photos in every area except the art gallery, in which photography was prohibited. Which is a real shame, since the artwork was wonderful. However, I understand the need to protect the artists from having their work ripped off and duplicated without credit.

Without further ado, here are some of my photos from the Nairobi National Museum:

Photos from the exterior of the museum

The mammal exhibit


Decor inside of the museum

The bird exhibit


Drawings from Joy Adamson,

Artifacts from the exhibit describing social customs in Kenya

Artifacts from the political history of Kenya


I wish I could have visited this museum again, because one visit simply wasn’t enough. This area is so rich in history, beautiful and culture: Kenya is an incredible experience. I highly recommend anyone visiting the area to go to the Nairobi National Museum. The price of admission is roughly $12USD for nonresident adults and $6USD for nonresident children. It was worth every penny!

art · international

International Art: Tom Mboya, Kenyan Artist

While vacationing in Kenya, I noticed that my hotel (Ibis Styles in Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood) had beautiful artwork lining the stairwells. Upon closer inspection, I saw that all of the paintings – about 30 in total, displayed in sets of 3 amongst 10 different floors – were done by Tom Mboya.

My curiosity kicked into overdrive and I started researching Mboya. As it so happens, Tom Mboya is a local Kenyan artist (no surprise there) that started out working in the hospitality industry before pursuing his art fulltime. The paintings are stunning and lively; from dynamic depictions of life in Kenya to breathtaking portraits of his countrywomen, these paintings draw you in and hold you captive.

Here are a few of my favorites from the hotel:



If you’d like to learn more about Mboya, check out his artist profile here.


international · style

My Latest Fashion Obsession . . .

While looking at a few items to spruce up my Spring & Summer 2018 wardrobe, I realized I have gotten stuck in a bit of a style rut.¬†For years now, I’ve adored a pared down, minimalist look (just see my purchases in my Boohoo haul posts here and here). I preferred clean lines and little-to-no patterns: lots of monochromatic or simply striped pieces. That look is elegant and easy to wear, but I find myself getting . . . bored.


Not my closet but the lack of visual variety is very similar to my situation (from Pinterest)

So, it was time for something different. And, BOOM! Just like that, Joe Browns clothing popped into my Amazon recommendations. I found myself drawn to the whimsical, vintage-inspired designs. The quirky prints and bold color and fabric choices are a huge departure from my usual aesthetic, but somehow, I think adding a few of the pieces will suit my personal taste as well as add some visual interest to my wardrobe.

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Here are a few of the pieces that I saw on Amazon that caught my eye:

The floral detailing is a far cry from anything that I normally would choose, but this is not only pretty, but looks like it could be worn either as a tunic or as a chic mini dress during those blazing summer days.

The asymmetric lapel is one of my favorite designs, and this boldly-colored nubby tweed is perfect for those cool spring days that aren’t chilly enough for winter coats but not warm enough for lightweight shawls.

This espresso and bronze pump has a vintage flavor and a heel that is high but not uncomfortably so.

This striking dress has an eye-catching blue, white and red print and a body-conscious fit. It has a tropical feel but without the kitsch.

I’ll order some of the pieces from previous seasons from Amazon, but for the latest Joe Browns fashions, I’ll go directly to the website here. Ooh, I can’t wait to post my pieces when I do a Joe Browns haul in the future!

food · international

Review: Carnivore Restaurant

While in Nairobi, I made the pilgrimage to Carnivore restaurant. This meat lovers haven is similar to the Brazilian churrascaria, with endless rounds of barbecued meats. While I’ve never eaten at a churrascaria, I couldn’t leave Nairobi without trying the local fare.

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Yes, I ordinarily adhere to a vegetarian/pescatarian diet. I was a bit nervous about eating meat after going so long without it. However, the meat served at Carnivore is all local animals that have not been fed the toxic ingredients often provided to animals sold commercial in the US.

I tried the following meats, which were barbecued and sliced at my table:

  • Ostrich
  • Crocodile
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Turkey

My camera was dying while I was out, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I wanted. In any case, here are a few photos from my Carnivore adventure:


Grill as seen when first entering the restaurant.


Place setting and fresh maize (corn) as an appetizer. Maize isn’t as sweet as what’s usually offered in American restaurants. I prefer this more savory varietal.


Soup prior to enjoying our meal. I meant to ask what kind of soup this was, but I forgot to inquire before the entrees were served.


Lamb and beef. I haven’t had either meat in many years: it was tender and savory, just like I remember LOL


One of my favorite desserts, the blondie. It was delicious!

I enjoyed my Carnivore experience immensely! While I wouldn’t make it a habit (I don’t know if my body could handle so much meat on a frequent basis), I’m glad that I tried it during my Nairobi visit.

Have any of you visited Carnivore? Let me know all about your experience in the comments below!

international · travel

I’m Back From My Trip To . . .

Nairobi, Kenya!

No one won the prize I offered in my Guess Where I’m Headed post, so I’ll be the sole benefactor of some neat Kenyan souvenirs. But even if you didn’t guess the location correctly, you can still check out my pics from the trip: I have photos on my Instagram but I’ll also share a few on this post.

Since I enjoyed a lot of activities while I was there, I will have a LOT of reviews coming over the next couple of weeks. I am excited to talk about my hotel experience, sightseeing at major landmarks, my museum visit, my first safari, dining out, and more. I also plan to do an in-depth video explaining how anyone can afford international travel, and how to plan for domestic and international trips (including timelines and helpful tips from an experienced traveler).

Without further ado, here is a soupcon of my photos from my time in Nairobi, Kenya. Enjoy (and look out for those reviews soon)!