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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Patola

Patola (smooth gourd) and Alogbati (vine spinach)
Yesterday, we went to Pasadena, which is one of the oldest communities in Los Angeles County, to attend the Tapulanga Foundation Fundraising Dinner. Since it is time for my hubby to visit his mom in Alhambra, which is very close to Pasadena, he gave me and my friend a ride to the dinner while he visited my mother in law and did some maintenance work at home. Whenever mom knows we are visiting, she would harvest her vegetables from the garden, and we would go home with more than a week supply of vegetables. Today, I cooked patola for lunch and alogbati with monggo for dinner.
Sauteed Patola in Garlic and Onion
Here is my very simple recipe for this patola dish, which to me, a taste of home, since this is one of my favorite vegetables from the Philippines. I am glad my mother in law always save her garden for us :) Thank you mom.
Ingredients: patola (or smooth gourd), garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Method of Cooking:
1. Peel the patola and slice thinly crosswise.
2. Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil until brown.
3. Add the patola, stir.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. ENJOY with rice :)
I did not add water, the sauce in the picture is from the vegetable itself.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pondering....Resolving..

My mind is on the road cruising... wandering... pondering, but not to any place but me. Where am I going? What am I doing? Am I directing myself enough to do and go purposefully? 
I have so many plans in my mind, but I hardly own them. I neglect taking actions to make them happen. I have driven myself to be unproductive. A friend of mine lately told me, "hahaha, be free from the bondage of Facebook and enjoy life out in real world. Enjoy life's blessings each day and rest in God's blessings and goodness. " Like my friend, I want to seek God and rest in his presence, love and kindness. There is nothing wrong with Facebook if it is used wisely.  But I feel like Facebook is designed to feed ego and thus has that power to make me do the opposite. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not saying that all the persons there are unwise,  egoistic, not Godly or not purposeful. I am talking about myself. I feel like, the more I spend my time in Facebook, the more I am going away from God and myself. It's very much the opposite of what I feel when I am in nature where I feel inspired, rejuvenated and refreshed. When I am in nature, I am humbled and see everything around me as a prayer, and so in my heart, I sing and I pray. One of my favorite quotes from naturalist John Muir says, " Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." However, once am home, instead of doing more purposeful things, I go to Facebook and lost time. :( For  a happier me, I know I must correct it sooner. 
At present, my resolve is to:
I. If I am home, I will not turn on my computer unless I have:
1. attended to my physical and spiritual nourishment. 
2. Finished all chores.
3. to do computer work.
4. to check important emails coming in from work and family.
II. If I am home and in computer, I will not log-on to Facebook unless I have:
1. spent time to nourish my spirituality ( I can read more inspirational stories and God's gifts in nature online).
2. finished doing computer work (most of my work and planning uses computer).
3. sharpened my mind, studied or read something that will help advance my skills on finance, technology, html and webpage design, the science of our natural world and whatever is helpful and productive. I think I am not doing good enough job in polishing my financial skills and planning because instead of reading more about it, I go to Facebook.
4. attended to my more purposeful blogging. 
5. inspired myself in many nature sites and inspirational sites. 
III. And if I use Facebook, it should only be:
1. for 10 minutes (I pray)- I should use a timer for myself- this was recommended to me by a friend. 
2. to share links- this is the very purpose I joined Facebook upon encouragement of some of my friends and family. 
3. to share pictures which I only find meaningful to me (where when I took that picture, I did not think of myself, but His glory) and only very occasionally, pictures of me for my family and friends.

Now, will I be able to do all this? God help me, I pray.....I really want to find structure and order in my life, and happiness that lasts a lifetime. Not temporary Facebook happiness that becomes a stress, addicting, and worse, leading me to neglect important aspects in life. I hope I can follow the lead of my family and some friends who use Facebook wisely and efficiently. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Springdale In My Mind

What is Springdale In My Mind?
Fall Colors @ Springdale, Utah 
Springdale in my mind is the gateway to adventure and fun which showcases one of the most amazing geologies on Earth. It is the gateway to Zion National Park, Utah's first National Park. It is a desert where the water plays very soothing melody to the ears as the Virgin River snakes along the massive canyon walls of giant sandstone monoliths. It is a desert with forested highlands. It is a desert where diverse plants and wildlife have made this place their home, their oasis. 
The Virgin River continues to work in Zion. From the upstream of Temple of Sinawava, the Virgin River cuts through Navajo Sandstone, creating a slot canyon that had made The Narrows as one of the premium hikes of the Colorado Plateau. Hiking the Narrows was rated #5 in the National Geographic ranking of America's Best 100 Adventures. The Narrows hike is also listed as one of the top ten day hikes in National Parks by National Geographic.
Hiking The Narrows, the trail is the Virgin River

Aside from The Narrows hike, another very popular hike in Zion National Park is the Angels Landing, considered as one of the world's great hikes. Angels Landing hike is considered to be one of the most thrilling  trails in the National Park Service. 
Hiking in Angels Landing
So many climbers and hikers from all over the world come to Springdale year round for the natural splendor and the thrill of adventure it brings.
Zion Canyon and The Virgin River
Zion Canyon provides a deep solace to those who seeks it. Because of this, the town of Springdale centers around the tourism industry. The town has been named one of the prettiest towns in 2008 by Forbes Traveler. 
Zion Canyon
If I live in Springdale, I probably will mostly rely on home security springdale because the outdoors would always call me to explore the wondrous world outside. Hiking, photographing, climbing, canyoneering, spelunking, enjoying every moment of Springdale in my mind. 
Thankfully, though Springdale is far away from home, but through Direct TV, its wonders and adventure is just a click away!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hiking in the Rain @ Savage River

In traveling, you have no control over the weather, but you have control over your activities. In our first 3 days in Alaska, we were so blessed with good weather. Except at the peak of Harding Icefield where we encountered extremely brutal freezing wind, the rest of our exploration in AK were in such pleasant weather. We prepared for strong winds, sun, rain and snow in our trip, because we did not want any of these to stop us from exploring.We packed our rain pants, rain jacket, windproof/waterproof warm shell, waterproof shoes, and of course trekking poles for the snowy trails. 
Hiking in The Rain, Savage River Trail, Denali National Park
On our 4th day, we left Seward for Denali National Park. Half of the day was glorious like it was in the previous 3 days. We had a wonderful hike to Byron Glacier, which is in Portage Valley, a short detour from Seward Highway. I will share our hike to Byron Glacier in my later post since I am right now taking a break from the ice. The other half of our 4th day had been raining, but you know what you'll get after the rain.
Rainbow @ Denali
Fireweeds and Rainbow @ Denali
Two days ago in my other blog, I brought you Mr. Moose in Denali National Park. We saw actually a lot of other wildlife in Denali, but I will keep you in suspense. I will hold that post about other wildlife in Denali and its vast landscape in a later post. Meanwhile, let me share with you another fun hike we did at Denali. Fun, because we did it in the rain and still riding high with hopes of seeing more wildlife.
Savage River Trail
The Savage River is oftentimes called as the edge of wilderness in the park, since it is only up to this part where vehicles are allowed. 
The Savage River, Edge of Wilderness
To further get deeper inside Denali National Park, one must enter by Denali Green Bus. With the heavy rain, the hike is so perfect because there is minimal change in elevation. Now, I could not imagine ourselves finishing the trail in Harding Icefield if it rains, because of all the snow and rocks over very steep slope. The Savage River trail provided us an opportunity to enjoy the wilderness still despite it is raining. There was one thing missing in our hike though, the fun of photoshooting. All the while, our camera were tucked inside our rain jacket. And the pictures above you see of the Savage River (except the rainbow) and below were taken by iPhone.
Savage Rock Trail
Though we brought our camera, but we hesitated to take it out afraid it will be drenched. We only took camera with us because of the possibility of wildlife, in that case, we know, iPhone can't do much in taking wildlife which usually are very far from us. One of the things I realized I need is a backpack or camelback rain cover. In that way, I can easily waterproof our camera and other electronics inside. I am glad to find some designs that I like at atv supplies. I thought we were so well geared in our trip, but after seeing some hikers with camelback rain cover, I knew, I would have to get one since I always prefer my camera in my backpack not dangling on my neck.
Though our hike here was not very productive in terms of pictures, but it was fun being drenched by cold rain, and hearing the sound of the rain drops on our rain jacket. And since the trail meanders next to the river, the sound of the flowing water in the river was very therapeutic. 
Aside from rainbow, what else do we see after the rain? Beautiful lighting, with peacefulness settling in after everything had been freshly washed by the rain. 
Yellow Lily and Reflections in a Lake
Reflections in a Lake
Now, the last 2 pictures above were no longer taken by iPhone, they were shot using my camera already. Also this was somewhere along Parks Highway, no longer at Savage River. Hiking is always fun, whether in rain, snow, or sun. Of course, as long as we have the proper gears. 

Straight Talk

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
My cell phone feels so Jurassic now. The battery is almost dying on me, I cannot talk straight without being right next to the charger. However, I am delaying my purchase of a new one since I want to carefully study the different options in the market. I am not attached to my phone, but when I call a friend or a family, I get carried away with time and before I know it, it has been hours since we've been talking. And the bill.... if we are not in the same provider company, my limited hours run fast quickly, and I end up paying so much for the over-usage.
As a user, I wanted something simple, something that has everything I need without the contracts. Something that I can swift from one plan to another without having to wait for a year or two, or to pay for penalty.
Then, I came across straight talk. It is almost heaven. Imagine a mobile plan that has no contracts, no surprise bills such as when you over-used your cell phone talking to someone, it has great nationwide coverage and excellent connectivity. Aside from calls, I used my cell phone to be more current with what is going on, I use the web a lot. With Straight Talk, I can get an unlimited monthly service, that is only $45! Why I say only? Check my current plan: $55 for 400 minutes, 2 GB of usage and no TEXT! No text, my goodness! Not that I text a lot, but there are a lot of unwanted text messages coming in, that we still have to pay!  With Straight Talk, the $45 includes unlimited calls, text, picture messaging, and web! Unlimited web! Goodness, I do not have to keep on checking my data usage if I am in the bus and worry if I will have over-usage since I fear for my surprise bills. It's really an everything you need plan at this low cost.
What makes me excited is that Straight talk also offers a lot of Smart Phone from trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung. I do have everything I need, not only from calls, texts and web use, but also a video recorder, camera, music and touch phone. 
I thought I am the first one to know about this, so I excitedly called a friend who I know had been looking for a cell phone provider that will not give her surprise bills since she has teens and gets shocked with the surprise bills they have been getting from over-texting, over-minutes or over-data usage. How surprised I was when she told me she was able to solve their problem through Straight Talk, and how more at peace and happier she is now. Truly, mom knows best, it seems they are ahead of us when it comes to practicality. 
Straight talk is also the official mobile phone of Fantasy Fishing, click Hook, line and sinker to see more of how Straight Talk can serve everything you need
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Belated Happy Birthday Icy

I know this is a day late, but I hope not too late to dedicate this post to a dear friend who have inspired me tremendously through the poignancy of her words and beauty in her pictures. Her photography is testimony that camera is only but a tool of capturing the beauty of what the eyes and heart see. To you, Icy, belated happy birthday! 

Though this may be a day late
But wanted to still send you
These purple dreams
That gently whisper

“Thank you, flower queen…
For always seeing the inner beauty…

Which your heart and eyes
Transform wonderfully

To pictures that speaks loudly
Of how much wonderful our world is to see…"

Happy belated birthday again…. flower queen!!
Your friendship is always treasured…
Friendship that my heart will always lovingly hold.



Again, belated happy birthday Icy. May your kind heart be always wonderfully blessed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spending the last bit of summer on my patio

Guest post written by Dena Hall


One of my favorite places in the world is on my patio. I just really love the little area that we've created back behind our home. If the weather's decent, I'll be out there under my patio umbrella. But from all of the time that I've used it out there, my patio furniture and umbrella are looking a bit worn for wear.

I went online to try and find some good end of season replacements for my furniture out there for a great deal. While I was looking, I ran across the siteWWW.homeproIMPROVEMENT.com. I had considered getting our siding replaced, but after I found the website I knew that I definitely wanted to get that done very soon.

I found this one really neat patio umbrella that I thought would be great to have in our patio area. It actually goes really well with the furniture that I have now. I just wish that I could find exact replacements of all of the pieces of furniture that I have now. I'll look for them a little more, but I don't think that I'll be that lucky.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The More, The Merrier

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Net10 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

So many cell phones, so many styles, so many providers, who is complaining? No one that I know of. :) The more, the merrier. The more options we have, the more likely we will get the best one that suits our needs perfectly for the best price! Best price means a lot of savings. :)

Currently, I am paying $55/month in my cell phone contract which allows me only 400 minutes talk on peak hours, unlimited talk non-peak hours (but my non- peak hours is already 12 midnight in the East coast, sigh ) and weekends, 2 GB/month of web usage, NO texting! I pay extra for text messages coming into my cell phone, even if they are unsolicited, unnecessary and unwanted text messages from advertisers. :(

Now, how about this? Getting coverage and unlimited talk, text, and data, for $50 a month,  with no contracts, no surprise bills and no credit checks from Net10.   For $5 less than my current plan, I am getting a lot more! I can see the Light of what the real NET10 customer enjoys.  In addition, Net10 only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung. It has great nationwide coverage and excellent reception/connectivity.

What I like most is the no contract, I can switch between plans each month to suit my budget and airtime needs, without penalties or fees. During the busy months of December and January, where I have lots of text messages coming in, I can get the unlimited talk, texts and web for $50, and then, switch to a cheaper rate for $15/month during my less busier months. If I needed airtime, I can just purchase online, or even directly from my cell phone, cool!Long Distance Service is available to over 75 countries, for about 15 cents per minute on calls originated in the US.

Net10 also has International Neighbors program which  is currently available to Canada and Mexico. This program gives you a special phone number that your family and friends can use to reach you at your NET10 number. Check them out in Facebook and Twitter to learn more and get more of their updates. Or you can check out their you tube videos.

cute NET10 commercial

And for some real Net10 customer testimonials, please check out the videos below:

real NET10 customer

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Multitasking

Who says life is easy? Like a climb, life definitely has a lot of challenges, but once we overcome the challenge, we rejoice and feel at peace and joyful. 
Though life is definitely challenging, but thankfully, it is very much manageable. If life is all easy, there is no room to grow, and the sense of adventure is lost. Unlike when I was still in the Philippines, doing household chore was a lot easier, there was no carpet to wash, yet we have a helper who cleans the house for us! I love cooking, but our helper washes the kitchen utensils for me, and she also does the washing and cutting of vegetables. Now that I am here in the US, I do everything, from house cleaning, to dishwashing, to doing laundry, to chopping the vegetables, to gardening, and many more household chores I have forgotten to mention. But on top of these chores, I blog, I do Facebook, I lesson plan, I study, I do my homework, and many more. Multitasking has become a skill for me, and slowly I am becoming more efficient at it. Most of the time, I let our iRobot clean the house for me :), while the robot is cleaning the house, I put the laundry in the washer, I prepare our foods, and while the food is cooking, I do work in the computer! So, I will not forget, I use my cell phone as timer, and when my cell phone rings, it means I have to check the food and stop doing something in the computer! That way, I do not burn our foods nor overcook it! I am so thankful for all these technologies that allow me to multitask. Thankfully, we no longer have a carpet at home, so major cleaning is easier now for me. I hand mop the floor once a week instead of iRobot. Before, when we still had carpeted flooring, we needed steam cleaning at least once a month or 2 months so that I don't get allergies. Thankfully, we don't have a huge house that we were the one doing the steam cleaning then. My hubby's friend however, who moved from the Bay Area to Austin told us he would be dead tired if he will do the steam cleaning himself. He said he multi-tasks! That is, while playing golf, someone from http://www.thesteamteam.com/ does steam cleaning in his huge carpeted house. He said carpet cleaning in austin is a luxury that he now enjoys after moving there.
How about you? How do you manage your multiple household tasks or household + work tasks?