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Monday, October 28, 2013

Renewal and Amendment of Passport Denial

One of the reasons (if not the BIG reason) why I finally decided to change my citizenship from Filipino to American .......

The incident I am sharing below happened about 4 years ago. I could not write about this then without bursting into tears, and without suffering from breathing difficulty. However, reading the pain from a fellow blogging friend's post on "Denial of Passage", I feel somehow, it is about time to put into writing the similar pain I had experienced before. I am not sure if I would be able to finish this post without feeling a heavy heart again. I thought I am free already from the pain brought about by my experience at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles 4 years ago, but somehow, as I type this, the pain slowly comes back.

Though I migrated to USA 2003 with a H1B visa sponsored by my employer, had my green card 2004 ( with my maiden name ), and was eligible for citizenship 2007, but I never had plans of changing my citizenship from Filipino to American.

Until....... this incident......

General Home Cleaning

Summer Break! It's my first day to enjoy waking up without alarm clock, but I guess I had been used to wake up early, so I got up and started physically tedious tasks, which are: cleaning the house and doing laundry. I am cleaning the house one room at a time. First room to do: the kitchen. Far from done but feeling joyful.
To add beauty to the kitchen, I cut some fresh flowers outside and put in a flowery mug, instead of vase. I somehow used up all my glass vases when I was so inspired to make terrariums, which I placed in the bathrooms and living rooms. 
Our kitchen is so full of so many things right now, I will start de-cluttering them, since definitely, I believe in "less is more". Have to decide what to put away.

Pictures to follow when I am done :) Haha, I don't know when I will, since definitely, I am so distracted. You see, I am here in mobile blogger, writing this post in my cell phone. :)

My son's electric dream

Two weeks ago, I got my son his very own guitar. He has been practically begging me to get him one. I bought him a handsome piece, a classic hagstrom at guitar center. The Hagstrom Swede's mahogany body and bound Resinator fretboard with pearl block inlays is just visually awesome. The best part, however is its classic sound! It comes clear and strong with any genre. It was worth the investment. I love my son to pieces, and with his own guitar, he will be on his way to a bright future in the music industry.

~ by Ai ~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pancit, Lumpia and Banana-Apple-Blackberry-Grapes Smoothie

What's our typical meal?  They always include a mix of vegetable, fruits,  and rice (most of the time) or noodles (not too often ) or pasta.

In this set of meal, I made Pancit, which is Filipino for noodles. It's actually stir fried noodles in extra virgin olive oil with vegetables and lean chicken.
We enjoyed the pancit with lumpia or Filipino egg roll. Instead of frying, I simply grilled the lumpia. Yes, lumpia can be enjoyed without frying, and it tastes just as good! At least, for both of us! :)
Our meal isn't complete without fruits. I usually mix fruits to make an all fruit smoothie adding only water or ice. Fruits are already sweet so there is no need to add sugar. I do not add milk or cream since we love the taste of an all fruit drink.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saving Money By Trimming Your Monthly Expenses

Saving money can be quite challenging when you have a lot of bills to pay each month. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to trim your monthly expenses. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to make a drastic change in your lifestyle to save money. Below are some of the simple things that you can do to save money: 

 Drive Less 
 The car is one of most family’s biggest expenses. The cost of fuel, insurance and monthly car payments can cost one thousands of pounds per year. You can save a lot of money if you drive a little less. If you live in a city with reliable public transit, then you should consider taking the train or bus a couple of times per week. You may also want to consider carpooling.

Sell One Of Your Cars 
 If you have two cars, then you may want to consider selling one of them. This will give you the opportunity to make money very quickly. You will also be able to save thousands of pounds per year.

Keep Your Car In Good Working Order 
 A car that is well-maintained will run more efficiently and last longer. That is why you want to make sure that you keep your car in good working order. Regular tune-ups and oil changes will help keep your car working properly.

Cancel Memberships That You Are Not Using 
 Do you have a gym or country club membership that you are not using? If so, then you should consider cancelling them. There is no use in paying for something that you no longer use.

Cook At Home 
 Eating out every day can cause you to spend hundreds of pounds per week. That is why you should consider cooking at home. You may not have the time to eat every meal at home, but you should consider eating at home as much as possible. You will not only be able to save money, but you will also be able to improve your health. Home-cooked meals are typically a lot more nutritious than the meals that you would eat at a restaurant.

Cut Vices 
 Smoking and excessive drinking are bad for your health and wallet. Therefore, if you are a smoker or excessive drinker, then you should consider quitting.

Buy In Bulk 
 When you see something that is on sale, you should consider buying in bulk. Buying in bulk can potentially help you save a lot of money. It will also help you save money on transportation costs because you will not have to make trips to the store as often.  Considering Payday Loans may help to facilitate this when you do not have the extra money upfront to make bulk purchases.

Choose Free And Low-Cost Entertainment 
 You deserve to have a good time after a long and stressful week, but you should choose free and low-cost entertainment. Museums and parks are examples of places where you can go for free. If you enjoy going to the movies, then you should consider going during the day because it is usually cheaper than going at night 
Saving money these days is challenging, but making a couple of simple adjustments in your lifestyle will make it a lot easier.

Guest Author:

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Alaska At winter time?

Seward Harbor, Seward, Alaska
Seward is a small city in the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Though a small city, but it is very vibrant and beautiful, especially in the summer. It is a popular fishing town, where fresh caught wild fish abounds.
Freshly Caught Wild Halibut @ Seward, Alaska
A lot of boat tours leave in Seward to explore the glaciers and ocean wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park. 
Will I See Killer Whale in the Tour?
We took the Major Marine wildlife and Glacier Cruise when we were at Seward. We were not disappointed at all. We saw a lot of wildlife, such as gray whale, killer whales, puffins, sea lions, and many more. Experiencing the glacier calving was definitely the highlight of our cruise, seeing the changes and power of nature up close was so inspiring.
Aialik Glacier Calving
If Seward is teeming with life and activity in the summer, the picture of winter is that of pure tranquility from all the snow. I had only been to Seward in the summer, 
 Summer Hike @ Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska
but I could very well imagine the boats in the harbor during winter would all have winter boat covers  which are very essential in protecting the boats from the harsh weather conditions. Not having the boats properly covered can be overly expensive. High quality cover material which is waterproof to shed water and with a little bit slippery texture to shed snow and ice is required for winter boat covers. I wonder what the scenery below at Seward will look like in the winter with boats fully clothed by winter covers and mountains all covered with snow and ice.
I probably would not be able to wear just sandals and eat ice cream in the harbor at winter.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Makes a Good Anti-Aging Skin Product?

In today’s world age is not revered, it’s downright punished. That’s why the health and beauty business has skyrocketed over the last several decades. No one wants to look old and they will try nearly everything on the market to reverse the natural trend of life. There is an emphasis on youth and beauty and having a face covered with wrinkles is not going to be looked kindly upon. 
Anti-aging skin care products are a cash cow and they make offers through their advertisements to tap into people’s insecurities, fears and desire to fit in with today’s culture. The question is how many products of this nature are just purely produced to make a quick buck and how many of them actually deliver on their promises?
Like anything else, the first step in discovering what anti-aging products do really work is conducting a bit of research. There are many studies readily available that depict what substances, compounds or elements have yielded results and you should never spend a penny on any product unless you know exactly what is composed of.

So What Do You Look For? 

Peptides: You must select a product that contains the chains of amino acids classified as peptides, which are proven to diminish those ugly lines from our skin. The latest rage is Syn-Coll, a trademarked peptide, that ramps up the manufacture of collagen by up to 119%.

Humectants: These guys lock moisture into the skin which holds off the formation of all those fine lines and wrinkles. Examples of humectants are glycerin and sodium hyaluronate.

Alpha Hydroxyl Acids: A naturally occurring product, these compounds reside in citric fruit, vegetables and milk. Their main task is to rid our skin of impurities and clarify our complexions by revealing the new skin developing underneath. They are essential for any anti-aging product to be productive.

Retinol: Going through your teen age years, you probably experienced some form of acne. Retinol, one of the purest forms of Vitamin A, is normally prescribed for serious breakouts, but it is very useful in anti-aging skin products as well. This substance makes our skin cells repopulate at a much higher rate and the turnover will reveal much softer, stronger skin.

Coenzyme Q10: This enzyme is another key component for any anti-aging product to contain. It also enhances collagen production besides being a very strong antioxidant that combats all the bad things in the environment that attack your skin.
Now that you know what your anti-aging product needs to contain, the next step is using it correctly and dutifully. Many people fail to follow the instructions on a regular basis or become discouraged when they don’t see immediate results. Even if you have the most amazing product in the world, perfectly suited for your skin type it will never work unless you dedicate yourself to using it.

One such product that does guarantee results within 30 days or you will receive a refund is Ageless Derma. Both their cosmetics and skin care line inculcate all the above elements into their products, which are also all natural. Scientifically proven to diminish the signs of premature aging and relieve the issues associated with hyperpigmentation, this is a must have product for all your skin care needs. Purchase your version today. What do you have to lose?
Purchase Ageless Derma products at DrSkinSpa.com, use code flawless for 20% Discount

About the Author:
Desiree Johnson, Licensed Esthetician

Monday, October 14, 2013

Starting the Week with High Energy

This Past Weekend Wandering in our Home Sweet San Diego
Rest and Relaxation is very important for both hubby and I to free ourselves from the daily stresses of work. Being out and exploring the great outdoors though may be physically exhausting but it makes us feel strongly rejuvenated and energized. Proper rest and relaxation allows us to perform our day to day obligations both at work and at home without much complaining about being too tired to do things other than work responsibilities. We both know that tiredness is a natural bodily reaction, but it is something that could easily be remedied if we set aside a time to take care of our body.
simple joys in simple life, stopping to enjoy the sights of dragonflies and coastal birds on land
simple joys in simple life, swimming with the fishes
There is just unexplainable joy in slowing down to enjoy the the therapeutic gifts of nature, not only enjoying the scenery, but also the flora and fauna around. Freeing our weekends of any household work and chores allows us to get nature therapy helping both of us welcome another work week with such renewed energy and spirits.
Monday, despite people may think we have physically exhausting weekend because of all our hikes and other outdoor adventures, but it's actually the day we both have the highest energy level because the outdoor physical activities give us huge energy boost and lift our spirits up.
curtains down, it's MONDAY LAUNDRY day

curtains up
After a nature inspired weekend, we start the week with high energy. We use this high energy to do household chores. We do major chores on Monday. We follow up cleaning/tidying the rest of the days so that the house does not look stressful. We do not have household help, nor I wish for a household help. Somehow, I doubt the help would do a lot better than us cleaning the house, and better than me, cooking! :) Plus, we do not want some stranger to invade our "home sweet home and sweet moments of togetherness!" With self-sufficiency ( the term we use here in US for kayod na sa trabaho, kayod pa rin sa bahay ), I have learned to enjoy immense FREEDOM of not having extra eyes and ears peering and eavesdropping on us.

So, here's a peek to our "Marvelous Monday",  where we start the week with high energy. Our secret to keep our energies high, live a happy and healthy lifestyle is setting our priorities straight, manage time wisely, and spend our 2-day weekend like a vacation enjoying a true mind, body and spirit nature therapy.
*Wake up at 5:30 am.
*Leave home for work at 6:05 am.
*Back home from work at 4:30 pm. Though we work at different places, but we usually get home about the same time.
*Take down curtains, change bed sheets, pillowcases, bathroom and kitchen towels, and DO LAUNDRY as soon as we get home.
*CLEAN the house. I do the living room, kitchen and bedrooms. Hubby does the bathrooms, cleaning/tidying and watering of the plants outside. If needed, sometimes, hubby does some home repairs, like today, he changed one of our malfunctioning door locks.
*Cook for our dinner and lunch for work the next day.
 Avocado Smoothie ( just avocados, ice and honey ), sauteed mung beans with amaranth ( monggo at kulitis ), mixed berries smoothie ( mix of blueberry, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry smoothie, only ice was added ) , pasta in very thin alfredo sauce, and homemade vegetable pizza
Left: our dinner tonight- vegetable fritter or "ukoy", all vegetables pinakbet and grape-apple-pineapple smoothie (only ice was added ) . 
Right: chicken vegetable soup, arroz valenciana and mixed seafoods and vegetables

I am debunking the notion of most that people in US mostly eat frozen foods, or fast foods, or unhealthy foods because life here is too busy because "kayod na sa trabaho sa araw, kayod pa rin sa bahay, wala nang oras sa pagluto at pagod pa". For me, busyness is all about priorities. EATING HEALTHY is high in our priorities. Tiredness is about managing our stresses. Stretching exercises, walking, playing tennis, and weekend wanderings in nature help us greatly in fighting stress and not feel tired. For both of us, the most draining and exhausting are the mental and emotional exhaustion from work. When brain thinks so much, heart beats so fast from all the pressures of work, our body shouts, "LET ME BREATHE IN...BREATHE OUT..." Thus, daily exercising and freeing our weekends for nature wandering and outdoor adventure are also high in our priorities. We do not exercise and eat healthy to lose weight, but rather, we do them for staying healthy and fit helps us enjoy life a lot more.

*After all household chores and enjoying dinner, hubby relaxes in front of TV, while I relax in front of computer, BLOGGING, thus this post! :) We both see to it that we hit bed anytime between 9:00-10:00 pm, so we could get up at 5:30 am to welcome the next day's batch of work. Right amount of sleep is another high in priority for us in keeping our energies high.

Happily sharing our lifestyle of starting our week with high energy, relieved from stress through our weekend's pure relaxation therapy in nature wandering through hiking, swimming, snorkeling and/or boogie boarding. It sure feels good to start the week with cleaner house, clean bedsheets, curtains, and empty laundry container! As we gather another load of stress from both our work, another load of dirty clothes, linens and curtains  during the week, we know there will be another Fri-date ( nature date after work ) and weekend wanderings to get our nature therapy to again start a very energized and inspired week. Have a good week, everyone. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seafood Soup

Something for the rainy and chilly day. YUM!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Plants Inside The House in Purifying Air

Some of My Indoor Plants
I love gardening, and I found that bringing some plants indoor is a cheaper way of decorating home. Though cheaper, but for me, it makes the home feel more "homey". Aside from being an added beauty to the home, plants serve a lot more purpose. They are very good absorbent of pollutants in the air, which the inside of our house is no exception to having some toxic chemicals in the air. 

I keep plants that are easier for me to grow. Meaning, those plants I need not water often, since we love taking longer vacations on my break from school, thus I kind of train them to live without such constant nurturing everyday. I talk to them, but mostly, talking to them to be tough, haha! I probably talk to my plants more than I water them. AND, I use recycled water for watering. 

The two bigger pots in the picture above are home to my snake plants. 
Indoor Snake Plants
The snake plant is an evergreen perennial species that is tolerant of irregular watering and less lighting. Scientists have found out that this plant has the amazing ability to absorb formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, and a variety of other chemicals present in the air. This proves especially helpful for indoor environments, where air circulation is limited compared to outdoors. Keeping ornamental houseplants has been shown to improve indoor air quality, even removing tobacco smoke and such volatile organic compounds as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene. Plants that prove especially effective in purifying air include spider plant, aloes, golden pothos, peace lily, snake plant and several species of philodendron and dracaena.

You may wonder where we get these toxic chemicals in our home, such as formaldehyde and benzene. Formaldehyde is used widely in building materials and numerous household products. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, smoking, household products, and the use of un-vented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters. Formaldehyde, by itself or in combination with other chemicals, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. Somehow, we could not shield ourselves entirely from these chemicals but it is great we have help in purifying our indoor air with some plants.

I usually put our plants inside the house in well lighted area. They may not need watering that much, but I observe, if they do not see light, they easily lose their health and soon may get rotten. I don't really bring them outside to get direct sun, somehow, even indirect sunlight already helps them be healthy enough.

Next time you talk to your indoor ( and outdoor plants), thank them for helping you breath cleaner air. And yes, they smile back at you, beautifully!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mixed Sea foods and Vegetables in Coconut Milk

Craved for some Filipino dishes cooked in coconut milk today,  so I made a seafood dish very simply prepared by sautéing in garlic and added a little coconut milk. I ate them with vegetables also cooked in coconut milk.

Meal is not complete without rice and very berry smoothie, from a mix of different berries. :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Your Training Shoes are More Important Than You Think

Fitness is an important part of our day to day lives. It helps us keep our physical body in shape so that it  builds immunity against any type of sickness. One of the key aspects about a good workout is the attire that you  wear. Wearing a flexible tee shirt and shorts does make a difference while you are exercising but one of the things that goes unnoticed is the shoes.
Many people think that wearing a good pair of sneakers is enough to ensure a good workout. However, there are shoes nowadays that are designed specifically to aid a certain type of workout. Training shoes make a big difference to a workout and here are some of the reasons why they are more important than you think.

Helps Avoid Injuries
One of the basic functions of a shoe is to protect your feet from the hard ground. It also provides a cushion for our feet so that impact that is received from taking different steps is absorbed by the shoe. This is why it is easier to walk in a shoe than barefoot. When you are doing a workout, having a good set of trainers will help you protect your feet from any damage that can be caused from the routine.
Most of the workouts require jumping and running which means that your foot will be exposed to heavy landings. Trainers are designed to absorb the impact of those landings while making you feel lighter as well. Wearing good trainers will prevent foot conditions such as Metatarsalgia, which is a pain that associated with the ball of the foot.

Improves Performance
Trainers are also designed to help improve the performance of the user's workout. Nowadays, shoe makers are using a lot of advanced technology so that the shoes are more flexible and lighter. These features make a big difference when you are doing rigorous training or exercises that require a lot of movement and locomotion. Athletes and sports enthusiasts wear trainers in order to maintain their balance as well increase the performance while doing a particular activity or exercise. Even for those people who are not heavily in to fitness can use trainers to help them play better at other sports such as tennis or badminton.

Allows for running on rough terrain
Another great feature about training shoes is that they are suited for most terrains. This way people can expand their exercises and workout routines to the outdoors by running around the park or the streets. These areas have a harder surface and are difficult to run on.
With Training shoes, it becomes easier for the user to run on such terrain without damaging the feet. Trainers are also good on grass, so if you do plan on running through a garden or park, you will still able to run on such terrain with relative ease. There is a less chance of you slipping or hurting yourself when you are using trainers.

~Premier Sport brought the following tips to you. PS offer discounts on sports clothing and trainers. ~

Exercising Outdoors

The outdoors is such an inspiring gym
The coolness of air fanning your skin
The beauty of the surrounding
The sound of nature around you
Keeps you moving 
Without you knowing it
You have burned so much calories from climbing up and down its slopes
A very natural and inexpensive way of staying healthy, fit and physically active!

Photos for Memories

I was browsing recent pictures that a friend from North Carolina shared to her Facebook friends.  Their family pictures are so professionally done. I am not surprised because she shared their pictures were taken by a pro she found from the directory of north carolina photographers. She said she and her husband really want to have very memorable pictures of the confirmation of their only daughter that they asked for the professional service of a known photographer after checking his portfolio of wonderfully taken photographs. I do understand their choice because I too take joy from memories wonderfully captured in pictures. I remember the days when my parents also paid for a professional photographers service. Ahhhh, those were really fun days, where we had to follow the photographer's direction trusting he'll make all of us look good in picture. We always jumped for joy whenever we got the pictures after a few days of waiting, put them in album so that we could share it to visiting friends, or look at them again and again in our free time. Photo sharing may have taken a very fast direction now with Internet,  but still, the pictures share and preserve memories.