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Monday, November 25, 2013

Making Blog More Mobile Compatible

Has it ever occurred to you that when you open a blog in your mobile phone, it seems like it is taking forever to download? It is because of all the links and pictures presents. My husband first complained to me I should make my blog more mobile compatible since according to him, when he tried viewing my blogs in his mobile phone, it took forever to load! And he is using 4G! Thankfully, though my hubby does not blog, but he knows more about the technology in blogging than I do. He taught me all I needed to do is following these steps:
1. go to my blogger's settings,
2. click email and mobile, and
3. choose "yes, on mobile devices, show the mobile version of my template."
snapshot of my laptop screen and steps to make blog mobile compatible
( you can click on the picture to enlarge if the steps are not clear )
Snapshot of my Mobile Phone
So, now, instead of going to Facebook, when I am in the bus, I enjoy blogging :) The sites now are fast to load in mobile phones, and I have even tried commenting in other mobile compatible sites. Love it! How I wish all the other blogs I love to visit are also mobile compatible, since it makes it a lot easier to view the blogs when on the road. I am also happy to note in my blog's stats, it identifies now the following mobile devices (i-phone, ipad, blackberry, android and nokia) as some of the operating systems for page views!
pageviews for The Joys of Simple Life below ( I set the stats to not count my own pageviews)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Home Remodeling

Our Living Room and Kitchen Before and After Some Upgrades 

Remodeling our homes can be exciting. It is a way for us to completely change the look and feel of our homes, and make them into our own. But it can also be a daunting task. Hiring contractors and purchasing supplies can be expensive. We need to be very careful to make sure that we are getting the best deal possible on all the things we are purchasing. Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks we can use to get the most bang for our buck on our remodeling job.

The most important thing we can do to save money and peace of mind when it comes to remodeling our homes is to work with the right contractor. There is a very thin line between affordable and too good to be true. While it may seem like a good idea at the time to go with the cheapest company possible, this may not be the case. By being too spendthrift with contractors, we may find ourselves getting shoddy work done, which will cost us more in the long run to replace.
Labor of Love: DIY flooring project

An experience I would like to share is when we changed our floor from carpet to laminate wooden floor. We did the flooring ourselves because it would cost us several thousands to pay for the labor. The result? We made a lot of mistakes. :( We had to redo the first room (where we made a lot of mistakes) so it would not look ugly, thus we wasted some materials and spent a lot of time redoing the job. We spent all my 2 weeks Christmas vacation doing the floor, and for hubby, it was the most tiring 2 week vacation he ever had. When we computed the number of hours we spent doing the flooring and the compensation we could get for the work done, we laughed because had we paid ourselves, our labor would be way too expensive because we spent so many hours. We finally understood why we had to pay the contractor that much. Actually, after doing the hard labor ourselves, we realized, the labor cost we avoided was not that much compared to all the body aches we got and lost vacation times! :( We told ourselves that next time we would have a floor change, we would hire someone who could do better job than us. Looking at the positive side however, we saved a lot on materials because we bought the laminate woods on wholesale, which is another great way to cut costs when it comes to remodeling.

Oftentimes, when we get the parts that we need through wholesale such as kitchen parts manufacturers, we get the best deal possible without having to deal with any sort of retail mark up. After that DIY flooring project, we had been working with a contractor whenever we need home upgrades. One thing we learned from working with a contractor is that the contractor may even be able to get us a better deal on materials because they work with a lot of suppliers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Old and Not So New

Why "Old and Not So New?" Well, because both the pictures above were old pictures of "old" and "new". However, with time, the "new" before, is not so new now. :) I saw from my picture archive the picture I took before when we changed our fridge. I took a picture of the old fridge, and the new fridge (that time) we replaced it with. Looking at the top pic made me smile because of "HIKING" literature in the fridge. Hiking never gets old for us. :)

What were our reasons to change our fridge that time?
1. Save energy. The old fridge was not energy efficient, and being of old design, we were actually paying a lot more for electricity.
2. Space. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, that even if it just the two of us, we figure we needed a lot of space for our fruits and veggies. :)
3. Well, aesthetic. To match our oven since we changed our oven also that time. 

It has been years now, and we have enjoyed a lot these kitchen upgrades. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reminiscing Memories from Joshua Tree National Park

 with my younger brother at Joshua Tree National Park
 I know, it's far from throwback Thursday, but these pictures do bring me a lot of joyful memories throwing me back to those times.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Table Layout and Courtesy During Meal

A meal includes appetizer, bread, broth, drinks and a chief course with both dessert and coffee. Such meal demands a formal place location. Take into account the following tips:
1.       Locate the bread plate to the right and a little bit upward the salad plate.
2.       Put the salad plate to the left and beyond the forks.
3.       Place the dinner plates on the distance of several inches from the brink edge of the table. They should be disposed in the middle of the place mat or straight in front of a seat.
4.       Locate soup bowls on the dinner plates.
5.       If there are numerous courses, the mistress can choose whether to serve each dish on different serving plates or not.
6.       You should free the dishes only after each course is terminated by everybody who is present at the table.

Tips for the Location of Cups and Wine-cups
1.       Locate glasses for water beyond the dinner knife. Other glasses should be put fast beside to the right side of the water glass.
2.        Cups for coffee with saucers should be disposed to the right of knife on the table.
Recommendations for Placing Doilies and Name Cards
1.       Napkins can be put on the plate and to the left side of the forks if we are speaking about a less formal place location. If it is a more formal place location, it is recommended to put napkins inside a glass. A server should offer you to arrange it on your knees while you are at the table.
2.       If the guests are numerous at the dinner party, then you can take advantage of name cards. Such card has to be disposed beyond the utensil for dessert and to the left hand side of the glasses.
3.       The napkin has to be in your lap constantly during the eating. If you need to rise from the table, arrange your napkin on the bottom or the arm-pad of your chair. In a special emergency put your napkin to the left hand side of the plate, yet it is not desirable. When the whole meal is finished, place your folded doily to the left or right side of the plate.

Courses during the Dinner Party
Bear in mind not to start your dish until all guests at your table have been served. Do not forget to hold out seasoning and dressing to your “table” neighbors before applying it on your own. All things that can be helped from one guest to another around the table should be placed in a clockwise direction.

Remember to suggest bread to other guests before feasting yourself. If you want to butter a slice of bread, do not take butter directly from the common dish. Everything you should to do at first is to put a lump of butter on your bread plate. To butter all slice of bread at once is not correct. Instead, snap off and butter little pieces that can be eaten at a time. Such procedure should be kept while eating your appetizer. 

One of the recommendations as concerns soup is to spoon it in the opposite direction of you in order to avoid splashing. Get out crumbling the rusk into your soup plate. Instead, you can snap off a lump of it to eat before or after soup. If there are some noodles in your soup, you should snip them with the help of your spoon to get a piece that can be eaten at a time.

If some pieces of your salad are too big to be eaten at a time, it is better to slice them on the butter plate before consuming. Tricky cherry tomatoes are recommended to be pricked with the sharp point of the knife as they may mess you.

Any appetizer should be eaten bite by bite. Do not cut big lumps of your dish beforehand. Fork teeth have to be directed downward, especially while slicing meat.  Get out saying that you are full or gorged at the table as overeating is considered to be a mauvais ton.

After the dinner plates are removed you should replace your dessert spoon/fork nearer to the left hand side of the place setting. It is better to apply the spoon as well as a fork while consuming any dessert a la mode like an apple pie. Hold the fork in the right hand, take a piece of pie and add small amount of ice-cream to the pie with the help of spoon which is in the left hand.

Bear in mind to thank both the hosts for the engagement and meal as well as other guest for your common pastime. If you have visited somebody for a meal, do not lose opportunity to send out a grateful card within 48 hours after the event. I post some interesting recipes at wikitalks from time to time, so feel free to read my favorite section http://wikitalks.com/category/articles/food-cooking/
It is necessary to admit that this is not an exact enumeration of all etiquette and table setting rules but the above mentioned tips will aid you not to make a complete fool of yourself.

Surviving Santa Ana Scare

For the past few days this last week, after our every hike, we would go to Torrey Pines Gliderport hoping to show to some visiting family members how paragliders would freely fly in the sky.
Paragliding at Sunset (photo taken not this week)
But each time, we were greeted with a quiet bluff and quiet sky because of Santa Ana winds. 
Sunset from Torrey Pines Glider Port, San Diego
The Santa Ana winds are warm, dry off-shore winds that appear when  the high desert gets very cold. The air heats up during adiabatic compression in its descent, and the heating up of the air also dries it rapidly. The result is a very strong, warm and dry downwards wind. This downward wind would not be safe for paragliding. This easterly wind would crash the westerly waves that would not be good for surfing. And if very strong, the Santa Ana wind would bring threat of wildfire over the many canyons, mesas and mountains of San Diego.
The Mountainous and Hilly Geography of San Diego County
Because the Santa Ana winds had been brought up each time we were sitting on top of bluffs watching the sunset, some of our family remembered we had to evacuate from our home about 6 years ago because of wildfire. They asked about our conditions at the evacuation camp which was at the Qualcomm Stadium, how we were feeling at that time, what things we brought with us when we evacuated, and if we have fire insurance. Let me recall a little bit the scare that we survived 6 years ago.

About 6 years ago.......

Despite strong Santa winds advisory to stay at home last October 21, 2007, I was too naive to know the power of Santa Ana winds that I asked hubby if we could go to Cuyamaca Mountains for our weekend hike.
Our hike was far from pleasant, because the very strong wind was sweeping us, and even if the air temperature was 52 Fahrenheit, it felt below freezing brought about by the rapid evaporation process that were sucked out from our skin by the very dry winds. After enduring a very windy hike, we had lunch at Julian, San Diego's mountain town escape. On our way back home, we saw firetrucks, and we were asked to take a detour. It was the longest drive back home from Julian we ever had, since we had to go to Riverside County first, before we could drive back South to San Diego. Listening to the car's radio, we knew of a massive Witch Creek wildfire in Ramona, going West. Because of the very strong Santa Ana wind, it was predicted the firefighters would have no control over the fire, and that evacuations were ordered in the path of fire. We were still calm, thinking Ramona was far from us.

The night we went to bed, we knew the wildfire was continuing to move West and maybe just less than 20 miles East of us. That night, the Santa Ana wind picked up more speed and became even stronger blowing amber in random direction and burning homes. Morning, when we got up, our panicking neighbor told us we have evacuation orders to Qualcomm Stadium. Tears slowly ran down my face. My kind husband on seeing my tears, gave me a hug and assured me that the worse thing that could happen is we will just have a new home. Having lived in Southern California for more than 15 years of his life, he is more accepting and understanding of the forces of nature, whether it be brush fire from Santa Ana winds, land slides and flash flood from heavy rains, and possible earth quake. For him, there is always risk wherever you are, tornadoes in the midwest, hurricanes in the southeast and east, snowstorms in the northeast and midwest, that after all weighing the pros and cons, you just have to choose the place which suits best your interest and lifestyle. In order not to end up in the world of nothingness, for him, preparing for these possible calamities is very important. So, with calmness in our hearts at that time, we started to pack some clothes for a few days, we left everything behind but important papers such as fire Homeowners Insurance that will put back order to our lives just in case the wildfire will blow amber to our home.  
The Very First Time I Got an Evacuee's Band
At that time, some family and friends worried about our stay in evacuation center, thinking it may be a trap for criminal activity, like what happened to Louisiana and New Orleans during the hurricane Katryna evacuation. However, far from our fears, the evacuation center had some jovial atmosphere. There may be an occasional burst of tears, but people managed to smile despite the uncertainties of having a home to go back to when the firestorm would be over. The insurance representatives from various homeowners and Commercial Insurance companies were there, offering help and advise to clients as early as they could. Paramedics were around for evacuees who may seek medical attention from the stress they were going through. Counselors were there to provide comfort for those who may feel emotionally upset with the conditions. There were clowns entertaining kids who may have no full idea of what was exactly going on, there was live music from local entertainers, there were abundance of gourmet foods catered by hotels and restaurants (donations).
Despite Abundance of Gourment Foods At That Time, I Still Chose Fruits and Veggies :)

Thousands of tents were set up, there were new blankets, new pillows, and new cots. We got our free San Diego Padres throw blanket and pillows. It was so inspiring to see all the help coming in, and we were already directed what to do by the insurance companies should our house catch fire. Above all, what was very inspiring then were the accepting and calm attitude of most people, giving each other words of comfort. These were some of the words I often heard: 

"We can never control the forces of nature which can be very devastating and unforgiving, we can never predict what will happen, but we can always prepare for their coming. We may lost our houses, but we keep the land. We have our community and our lives. We can always start anew. Nature heals....so can we."

It was at that point in time where I have learned that having homeowners insurance helps a lot calm people down at the time of calamities. I may not be that home savvy at that time yet coming from another country, but I am glad, my husband was confident we can easily pick up the pieces again and start anew should we lose our house because of the protection from home insurance. Now, whenever we get Santa Ana wind, I still get scared for the lives of people and of the firefighters, but not much scared anymore for losing a home. For home, is not lost when the house is burned down, home stays in our hearts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five Things to Think About When You Start Your Home Improvement Project

Home improvements are a great way to open up the spaces in your property – to make your home work just the way you want it, rather than the way it was when you bought it. Follow these five key points to get a head start on your development.

Plan for the unexpected
The unexpected is only a disaster when you haven’t planned for it in advance. Most building developers advise that you sequester a contingency fund when you book a project – that is, you accept a quote for works, but you keep money aside that goes beyond the original agreement. This is to cover the unseen and unknown – the stuff you reveal when you start pulling down walls or digging into the foundations of your property. Contingency money is used when the project changes beyond the original boundaries – without it, you could end up with a half finished house.

Think about the things you don’t see
The finished look of your home is obviously important to you. But it’s the stuff you don’t see that can make all the difference. Consider insulation for temperature and sound. Think about waterproofing and weatherising. The technical stuff is costly and time consuming, particularly with older properties – but it makes your property dry, strong and energy efficient.

Look at your heating system
Your heating system is potentially the most expensive thing in your house – not because of what it cost to install, but because of how much it costs to use. If you are committed to a home improvement project anyway, it can be a good idea to start thinking about how you create and store heat in the property. When the walls come off, you have nothing stopping you from rearranging the whole thing. Look at under floor heating or heated skirting boards for a low energy alternative – and consider combined heat and power boilers to make a dent in your electricity bills.

Insulate, insulate, insulate
The more you insulate now, the less you will pay for heat in the future. Insulation is also important for maintaining the privacy for your family members and house guests. An older property may require some serious insulation in order to get rid of the noises and knocks it makes naturally. If you reveal the floorboards, be aware that you are also creating an acoustically resonant room, which will pick up sounds from other parts of the house, and transmit sounds to other parts of the house. Raise the floorboards, and coat the joists in acoustically inert material to solve the problem.

Think about the character of your property
An older property has a specific character, which can be ruined by an insensitive home improvement project. You can modernise, but think about doing so with an eye for the details that made the place attractive initially. Revealed beams and restored fireplaces are excellent architectural touches, which can speak volumes about the original look and feel of the home while sitting comfortably in a modern environment. Contact us for more information about creating modern spaces in period properties.

About the Guest Author:
The Author is an architect and clean energy designer. His online writing has been published on some of the best respected design and construction sites in the UK. He also runs a network of blogs, which attracts a huge amount of unique visitors – an average of nearly 700,000 every day.


Let me share with you one of my favorite kitchen partners, Blendtec. This is actually the most used at home since we juice fruits and vegetables everyday! I use this to make soup too. We consume fruits and vegetables a lot, and one way we enjoy them is by making whole juice or smoothies, or soup. 

I love my veggies as salad, steamed or cooked. We eat veggies in so many varied ways. We are so thankful that our natural choice for foods and the main staple of our diet are fruits and vegetables. Their nutrition and health benefits to us are added bonus.

Here is an example of mixed fresh fruit smoothie:

1. I put in Blendtec a mix of freshly cut up pears, pineapple, and fresh strwaberries, blueberries and raspberry. I do not remove the leaves of the strawberry as they are a good source of nutrients and fiber. 
2. I add a little bit of water ( to make 2 glasses, since there are 2 of us at home).
3. Then, I let Blendtec do the hardwork for me of making whole juice. Sample video below.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things You Must Know When It Comes To Your Roof

Roof Repairs in Gainesville, GAAre there questionable areas on your roof? Are there sections that look worrisome? Do you not know what you see when looking at the roof? Learning how to maintain the needs of your roof will help to make you a more responsible homeowner. You should be able to determine the condition of the roof and repair some problems before they are too big headache.
Safety should be a strong consideration with taking on your roof.You can be seriously injured by attempting to fix a leak during a storm. Put a bucket under that leak until weather conditions improve and wait for clear weather.
Don't try to fix your roof in inclement weather.A wet roof could cause you to fall; this may result in a bad injury or worse. If you are performing your own roof repair, do it when it's dry and sunny.

Roof Repairs in Gainesville, Georgia
When fixing leaks, you have to be sure that the job is done correctly the first time. This means that it's not a good idea to patch up the initial spot has been fixed. Check over the whole roof and you can see if there are more problems that you're going to have to take care of.
  • Wear shoes with rubber soles whenever you work on your roof.
  • Make sure you're safely secured properly every time you climb onto your roof.
  • Always research the contractor that you are considering. Don't hire the cheapest repairman who comes to call.
If it will be a little while before a contractor will come to fix your roof, then you should do what you can to fix the leak temporarily. Get a sheet of heavy duty plastic and you can nail that over the leaking area with it.
You don't want to walk on the roof yourself and looking for damaged spots. If you feel there might be a problem, hire someone to come out and take a look at it. You certainly shouldn't walk on a roof that could collapse.
Insurance is something you will want to confirm your roofer has. If you work with an uninsured contractor and something is damaged, you will be financially responsible if there is any property damage. Don't just take their word for it either; ask for proof that they have plenty of up to date, make them show you the documentation that proves it.
  • Check your roofing materials before putting new shingles up.
  • A living roof is one that has soil to grow plants and flowers.
  • If you're having a hard time locating a leak, you would be wise to take a garden hose and spray it.
  • This will help you find the exact location of the leak and where it is. It is simple and much cheaper than hiring a professional.
With all of this great information in mind, you're ready to tackle any roofing problem which may rear its ugly head. When you educate yourself on the topic of roofing, you will be better able to care for your roof. Treat your roof properly and it will treat you right.

Call us today at (678) 369-6698 for a free roof inspection in Gainesville, Georgia. One of our professionals will assess the damage and make a recommendation. It is our practice to try to save you money and inconvenience with roof repairs before replacing it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vietnamese Egg Roll and Food

One of my favorite foods, perhaps next to Filipino foods, is Vietnamese. I usually ask hubby to have Vietnamese. I am not good in making Vietnamese Food, so we just go to nearby Vietnamese restaurant, which we do have a lot in San Diego. Now, I am thinking of having Vietnamese again this weekend. Gotta go hiking first! :) Haha!!

Our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego is Pho Ca Dao and Grill Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo. Their service is great and the servers are very friendly. We often stop here for food after Mt. Woodson hike.

Now, I am thinking of pho!

Mom, can I have my own drum set?

All of a sudden, little junior shows interest in music. And then he pops the magic question - "Mom, can I have my own drum set?" No need to panic right away. Getting your child a drum set not only fuels his interest in music, it also instills discipline in your child to hone his talent. There are many drum sets in the market nowadays, which gives parents the freedom to choose the right one for their child. When purchasing classic kids drums, we always have to consider durability, good quality sound and affordability. Of course, there is also the option to choose whether little junior would want a 3-piece set or a full 5-piece with cymbals. Whatever you decide, remember that it is always wise to invest in our child's future.   

~ by Ai ~

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Merry Golden Christmas...Anyone?

A Merry Golden Christmas, San Diego 2005
I always hear a lot of people wishing for a "white Christmas".
My 2nd white Christmas, Mount Laguna, San Diego County 2004
( my first was in Connecticut )
I can not blame them for after all, the song "White Christmas" is one of the most popular Christmas songs. Many fell into the lyrics,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Joshua Tree in My Dreams

 Pictures here were from our first time at Joshua Tree National Park, sometime December 2007. The words in the picture above were inspired from Joshua Tree, whose tree limbs look up to heaven, like in a prayer.

Looking at my picture above makes me smile because it is so "back then" picture! :) I no longer use that camera back for many years now, since I prefer the convenience of a camera backpack.