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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Choosing Store Brand Infant Formulas Over Name Brand

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PBM Products. All opinions are 100% mine.

Why choose store brand formulas over name brand?  Because it is cheaper that's why. My  seven-month old niece, Monica, is being fed store brand infant formula and so have all her three older sisters before her. My sister who has four daughters has long ago learned that store brand formula are the nutritional equivalent to name brand. There are no better formulas, only more expensive ones. 
The thing is, name brand infant formulas are heavily advertised than their store brand counterpart. This type of publicity includes giving away free samples to hospitals and doctor's offices. On top of that, these name brands are almost always on television and magazines. These type of publicity adds to their overhead cost, and thus requires the company to jack up the price of their products.
As per the infant formula act, all infant formulas are subject to the same regulations governing manufacturing and ingredients. Store brands meet the same exacting FDA nutritional requirements as all the major brands.
Recently, consumer's confidence in name brands hit a low when Abbot voluntarily recalled certain Similac infant formula due to the presence of small bugs that may be hazardous to health. Though FDA declared that this incident poses no immediate health risk, some infants may suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort.
With the advent of the recent recession scare, it would be wise for consumers to be well-informed. It pays to be intelligent buyers.
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San Francisco Peak, Flagstaff Arizona

Yesterday, while driving to Flagstaff, I saw this view -beautiful scenery. I thought I'd quickly take a photo to share with you guys. The snow-capped mountain of San Francisco Peak is pretty all year round. On Spring, it boasts of green feet and snow-cap. During summer it is beautiful with every shade of green. Come fall, when the first signs of snow comes, it begins to look as if salt and pepper has been sprinkled on it. Now, winter, it looks like a scoop of  ice cream! :)

Throwing Around Christmas Cookie Ideas

Guest post written by Amanda Lerner

I'm not sure how this happened, but I have to bake Christmas cookies for both of my kids this year. For my youngest it will be for his third-grade holiday party and then for my daughter it will be for a Christmas party that her Girl Scout troop is having in about a week. I'm also in the planning stages of our annual Christmas party, so I'm knee deep in cookie recipes that I've been throwing around for quite a while.

I was online a few days ago trying to find some more cookie recipes to consider using and when I was doing that I actually came across adirect tv internet online offer that I signed us up for. Our internet service at home had been really bad for a while anyway, so that was a nice surprise to find.

Out of all the Christmas cookie ideas that I'm thinking of making though, I might just stick with the classic sugar cookie ones for my kids' Christmas parties because those will be really easy to make and I can easily make a lot of them, which I need to do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fright Fest @ Six Flags, San Antonio

Am posting this a tad late, we all got a bit busy around here. Doods and I took the girls to Six Flags the day before Halloween. Six Flags has Freight Fest the whole month of October. The park was transformed into a huge Halloween Park. Ghouls and Goblins prowled freely around the park. Yikes! The girls loved it. There were several shows including Monster Mash, a concert featuring Gothic-looking performers swinging to some popular rock songs.


Doods and the scary walking doll

Therese goofing at the bars while we wait for our turn at the bump car

Finally, Bugs arrives!

Therese, Cate and Yam gets a chance to pose with Bugs

and Silvester too

Gearing up to watch Monster Mash

We did not get front seats, but we were in the second row -yay!

Monster Mash rocks!



Wicked Fresh All Day Everyday

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Toms of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.
click hereThe nature of my work requires that I stay fresh all day everyday. I'm a Kindergarten teacher and hygiene is something I discuss with  my students on a daily basis. Five-year olds are impressionists. They remember almost everything that is said to them. They are malleable and can easily be molded, so getting them to learn a routine is easy. But undoing a bad habit can be difficult. That is why It is important to jump start them with a good routine.

In our classroom we have a big check list of things to do before going to school. Every morning, we go over the check list and the kids excitedly regale me and the class  with what they had for breakfast, and this talk always leads us to the discussion of brushing our teeth every morning. Hence as a role model to these malleable students, it is fitting and proper that I show good example by coming to school properly groomed and appropriately attired. Hair combed and teeth properly brushed.

Young children notice almost everything and they are very vocal about their observation. It is so funny how they would notice anyone of their classmates that have yellow teeth or one with a bad breath. They will not hesitate to tell their teacher -me. Likewise, I am sure they will tell me right away if they detect me with a bad breath -hahaha.  That is why, I don't just brush my teeth in the morning, I also keep a Tom's Of Maine  mouthwash in my classroom.

Besides, it is not just the students that I encounter every day, their parents and guardians pick them up from school everyday and most often than not, the parents inquire about their children and they love listening to me discuss their children's antics in school. Because of this, I have made it a habit to wash my mouth before dismissal time in time to face the parents of my students. A dose of mouthwash always makes me feel like am wearing freshly laundered clothes, so refreshing!  My mouthwash makes me feel wicked fresh all day everyday.

Share your Wicked Fresh moments for a chance to win Wicked Fresh Prize at ThatsWickedFresh.com Check out the That's Wicked Fresh contest page

Feel free to join Tom's Maine on Facebook and/or follow on Twitter @TomsofMaine

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monument Valley, Utah/ Arizona

Its been over a month since I last wrote a long post. It got very busy here, what with my three adorable nieces around. But something worth blogging came up, and I would not want to pass up on the chance to log it here in my treasure chest of memories (blog). I  want to write about it for posterity's sake. Besides, even though a picture is worth a thousand words, it doesn't tell a complete story (teehee).

During Thanksgiving break I met with one of my Salitype sisters and long-time blogging buddy, Betchai, of The Joys of Simple Life. Most of you in the blogospehere know her because of her well-written travel blogs and post-card-perfect outdoor photos. She and husband, Khai, invited my husband and I to go photo-hiking with them to Utah and Arizona. It was an idea that we warmly welcomed since Doods and I did not have much planned for the week-long Thanksgiving break. We just decided to drive to Arizona to visit my sister and spend the week with the family. The thing is, there is so much to see in Arizona, so despite the fact that Doods and I have been spending a lot of time there, there are still a lot of beautiful spots we haven't explored yet.

Initially, Beth planned for us to meet at Moab, Utah to explore the arches at Arches National Park, and then explore Bryce Canyon the next day. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate. The forecast for Moab on the days we were suppose to go hiking there were in the 50s, but it dropped to 40s, and much later, 30s. The road where we were suppose to drive to get to Moab had snow. As per Beth's advice, we did not risk driving in the snow. Instead, we made plans to meet them the next day at Monument Valley National Park. About an hour and a half from my sister's house -shorter and safer drive. It was fortunate that the two were very flexible and Beth was quick in creating another itinerary.

We met Tuesday. We explored Monument Valley National Park. It is interesting that Monument Valley National Park is in the state line of Arizona and Utah. Part of Monument Valley is in Arizona and another part is in Utah.


Sunset at Monument Valley
 
 
Monument Valley
 

 Beth and I at the rooftop of The View Hotel, overlooking Monument Valley

The Mitten (notice the thumb?)

We met at Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Beth advised us to pass by a visitor center and speak to a ranger for much needed information about the park and to get some tips on famous spots where you can take a good picture.

  The next day, all four of us explored part of Glen Canyon and Lake Powell.

We had a marvelous time with Beth and Khai. 
Thank you guys for inviting us to join you in exploring Utah and Arizona. Can't wait for our next photo exploration



In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitze

Pier 1 Is A Part of Our Family Tradition

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

This is the first time my younger sister, Ima, will host Christmas dinner in their home here in Arizona. Last year, they  joined us in Houston, Texas for their first Christmas here in America. This year, because of her recent surgery, they will not be able to do the long drive to Houston, it would be too tedious. Instead, my husband, I and our three nieces drove to Arizona from Texas to join them for a family get-together.
The thing is, though she is able to plan thoroughly for the Christmas dinner, she won't be able to completely  execute the plan because her recent surgery renders her incapable of walking long distance and lifting heavy objects. Hence the appointed second in command -me! Am not the expert but I do have ideas to share since I have been doing this for a long while now. I'm familiar with how and what to prepare, and where to get things.

As per my experience since I hosted my first Christmas dinner in 2003, some investments go a long way. Thus, it is important to make a list of the "must haves." I remember purchasing a starter set that consists of a dozen red wine glasses and red plates from Pier 1. I did not buy a lot since we only had less than ten guests on our very first Christmas dinner here in America. But since those wine glasses were a hit, I was very much encouraged to purchase some more the next year. It was well worth my investment. It was such a hit that my husband and I made it our Christmas gift to some of our friends. It was so heartwarming that because our friends noted how much I love my Pier 1 red wine glasses, for holiday gifts some of them purchased some other dinner ware items from the same store, that would best complement my red wine glasses. The gifts ranges from dainty napkins and durable napkin rings, to table runners and soup bowls. I now have a lovely collection of beautiful Pier 1 items that has become a wonderful part of our traditional Christmas dinner.

Likewise, my sister is starting a life here in America, I would love her to have wonderful things that will be part of their family tradition.

By the way, during the months of November and December, you can support Toys for Tots by dropping off an unwrapped toy and/or making a cash donation at the Pier 1's register.
Guys, please continue to spread holiday cheer by liking Pier 1 Imports on Facebook. For every new fan they get, they will donate $1 to Toys for Tots.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Doods Got a Ticket!

Geez, two days ago, on our drive here to Arizona from Houston, we were speeding up along I-10 (by Sonora, Texas) some minutes before 8PM when out of the blue, intermittent flashing of red, white and blue lights glowed from a dark corner followed by the loud siren of a state trooper's car. Yikes! Doods knew that those flashing lights were meant for us because we were the only ones traversing along that quiet interstate! Yes, we were pulled over for over-speeding! The thing is, Doods and I fell in conversation and he did not notice our speed. We were running at 83 mph at 65mph limit.  Fine: $188.00-huhuhu. With Defensive driving, it might be reduced to $108. This is his second over-speeding ticket since we moved here in the US some seven years ago. I hope the last one! :(  By the way, this is also where he got his first over-speeding ticket in 2003, on our way back from California to Houston, Texas. What's with that spot anyway?! I wonder!




Sell Online!

Ever heard of ebay? Who hasn't! Most of us were able to buy hard-to-find  items, if not sell some in ebay. Actually, am a regular ebayer. I have won several practical and not-so-practical items through the auctions there. I also patronize several ebay stores. Likewise, I was able to sell a lot of items in ebay. I have even marketed some of my scrapbook pages in ebay.

I like doing business online because it allows me flexibility. Selling online is a good sideline. There is a huge market because everybody goes online  nowadays. Also, I have control over my time. I am not pressed for deadlines and such. The only thing that's holding me back are the items I sell. When I had plenty of time -before my nieces moved in with us- I had time to make scrapbook pages or personalized wooded plaques to sell, but now, hardly. My friend, and co-teacher, Mike, mentioned about his brother's ebay store. His brother buys his wholesale products from wholesalers that are also found online. Amazing how flexible these wholesale suppliers are. Short of saying, you can sell almost anything you like and still get it with at wholesale price.

Methinks, given much attention, selling online can be a a very good sideline. Who knows, you might even give up your career and do this full time!


Candy Overload

Last Thursday was our class Christmas party. It was held in the classroom, and we had the traditional potluck. Here is what I have observed. I do not know whats with the parents of pre-schoolers, but unlike kids from  higher grade levels, the parents of  pre-k and kindergarten kids make their kids bring so much food. Each one of my five-year old students came with an arm load of food -pizza, cakes, cupcakes, chicken wings, spaghetti, tamales, donnuts, and more. Yes, we had a feast!

We  played several games like musical chair, tail the donkey and one of the kids brought a small pinata. I played some dance music and the kids had a blast dancing. Now, the phrase 'shower of candies' is an understatement! Geez, almost half of the class brought a goody-bag to share with everyone. Do you know what that means? Yes, candy overload! Yikes! I had to remind the kids not to consume all those candies at once. Everybody had a present to open, and a bagful of candies to take home. I had a blast looking at the children's happy faces. Their delight at simple things is contagious.  Occasions like these teaches children about generosity. As young as they are, children learn that Christmas is a season for giving and sharing.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilderff

A Peaceful Feeling

Author: Isiah Williams

It's early morning and we wake up to that amazing sight, the first snowfall of winter. How beautiful it looks, as it softly falls on the trees and lawns. My husband and I sit in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and watch as it begins to gather in the driveway. As pretty as it is, we both know, it will soon be time to get out that shovel and clean off that pavement. Today is Saturday and having nothing better to do, we take a walk in the freshly fallen snow. The crisp, cool air is invigorating after a long, hot summer. We stop and talk to a few neighbors, who are already sweeping off their stairs and bushes. Arriving back home, we decide tomorrow is another day and we will leave this picture of natures beauty until we really have to disturb it. Tonight, we will enjoy the snow, an evening of DirectStarTV and worry about the chore of digging out tomorrow. As we get ready to turn in for the night, a peaceful feeling comes over us, as we watch the snow twinkling so brightly, like little stars within the trees.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Monica's First Christmas Dress

Christmas shopping is one of those inevitable things that we just succumb to! This year though, there's been some changes. There's an addition to our shopping list, my six-month old niece, Monica! It will be her first Christmas. The whole family is excited to buy her her first Christmas dress. Doods, I and my three other nieces went to several stores to check out some baby clothes. We were blown away by the cute and dainty little people's clothes! We had a hard time deliberating which one of those countless lovely dresses we'll buy. In the end, we settled for a white, flowy, organza that has intricate laces. It has soft velvet top, and a flowy organza skirt attached to it. The dress is fit for a little princess.

Can't wait to drive to Arizona to see baby Monica and find out how the lovely dress will look on her. Her three older sisters are excited to dress her up. She looks like a doll! So cute!

Kia Is Dependable

Some years ago when Kia was beginning to make headlines, it was selling a tad cheaper than most cars. It was not that popular then. After all  it was younger than most of its counterparts. It is a good thing though because the Car Dealer was giving a good deal. My brother was looking around to buy his first car. He checked out a Kia Dealer did not hesitate to take his chances with a Kia. There was something about the make of this particular Kia that really appealed to my brother. And he loved the color on sight! He did not have to think twice, he took a risk and plunged. His decision paid off. He had a really good deal on his Kia Rio and despite being a baby in the industry, Kia really proved its worth.

The service was also to boast. He had his first Kia Oil Change and was pleased with the service. I guess Kia's service is evident in how well my brother's car is running even after all these years -smooth!

After that initial experience with Kia, the family became an instant fan. When my brother-in-law was canvasing for a bigger vehicle for his growing family, he did not hesitate to check out the Different Kia Models. He found a style that will  best fit their lifestyle. They bought a Kia Ceres, and just like my brother, they were not disappointed with Kia's performance. Kia is Dependable!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Off To See Santa

Guest post from: Steve Delaney

It is Christmas time again and that means SANTA! Christmas is a magic time of year for kids and when you are packing your cars and getting in lines at the malls, stores make sure that you take safety precautions. One of the easiest things you can do is setting your home security systems on the way out of the door. Christmas is also an easy time for thieves to make this a memorable event for all of the wrong reasons.


This year we will be packing up our kids to head to the mall and to the local downtown Christmas displays, as we do not want to miss any opportunity to see the big guy. The kids have lists three miles long and are looking for every opportunity to make sure they show Santa how they have been good this year. There is nothing as wonderful as seeing your kids light up and enjoy their holiday season.


The holidays are filled with magic and fun. Please be safe this year and make it the best holiday ever.

Skiing Season is Here!

Winter is here, and my favorite thing to do in the snow is ski with my husband! I always feel a rush when we pack our bags, set our home security alarm from securitychoice, and take off for a weekend away at Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass! My husband has been skiing on Mount Spokane since he was about four years old, and when we started dating one of the first things he taught me was how to ski! He is an awesome skier, and can even do jumps and flips. I'll never be that good, but over the years I have gotten better and better, to the point of at least keeping up with him! Now we try to enjoy four or five weekends on the slopes of Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass each winter. Both ski areas have several chair lifts and ski runs at easy to moderate to advanced levels, so learning to ski is easier. The resorts also have nice, cozy lodges with fireplaces and comfortable chairs to relax in when the weather is a little too cold, or our bodies are just sore from a day of skiing. Next year we plan to try out a few of the ski areas up in Columbia, Canada!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pedestal Mailboxes

Arizona unlike Texas always enjoys a white Christmas. On our long drive to my sisters home from Houston to Arizona, we were regaled by beautiful Christmas decors. It was a lovely sight to see snow covered roofs and snowed pine trees that looks as if they have icing on.

We also saw an amco pedestal mailbox that was prettily decorated with green garlands and red poinsettias. Lovely! Actually, any one of these beautiful amco mailboxes would be a beautiful decor in every lawn, especially those amco victorian mailboxes. How lovely and romantic they look amidst green grass, or even when surrounded with snow. Pedestal mailboxes are my favorites. They posses a distinct elegance. These elegant mailboxes are not just decorative, they are also sturdy and safe. They have good locking device and a lot of the styles can also be personalized.

Tomorrow, we will drive around the neighborhood again. I will take photos of the beautiful mailboxes and the Christmas decors and pick up some decorating styles that I can combine with what I already have.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Picnic in New York

It would be too early to talk about picnic and outings, but because it has been a bit too cold here in Arizona, my sister and I can't help but talk about summer destinations. Her church group here in Arizona has been planning to drive to Colorado and go on a quick detour to visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, but my husband, Doods, and I have visited those places already. This summer, I want to visit New York because of the beautiful location shoot-outs I've seen in the movies. Like the quaint store "Serendipity" from the movie of the same name and that lovely bridge where Tom Hanks met Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. You've guessed it, I'm a hopeless romantic!

Some of our friends in New York has been inviting us to see them for a long time now. They said there are a lot of lovely places in NY where people frequently visit. With my nieces tagging along, they said would be a good idea to go on a picnic. Children always love to run around outdoors. My friends mentioned picnic catering ny, the people who do the catering service for their company picnics. They are not just limited to NY, they also have picnic catering nj. I am excited to explore New York this summer. I might even meet with some blogging buddies who are NY based. Yay!

Avatar Without 3D Is Still Awesome

This guest post from Lewis Beck

It will go down as one of the best movies of all time. I'm speaking of Avatar. While going the 3D route was original and incredible, was it really a great decision? I saw Avatar in 3D in the movie theater and it was amazing. But the 3D added to the movie - watching it without 3D did not take away from the movie. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if Avatar never came out in 3D and was just a regular movie, it would still be known as an incredible movie. I watched it the other night on BestChoiceTV and enjoyed it immensely. I even gave one of those happy cries toward the end when the good guys (and nature) began to fight back. The love story was also powerful. Let me tell you - I don't like love stories. I find them incredibly boring. But this one really worked. I think it was because every time some romance sprung up, it was in the middle of a conflict. Now that's the way you pull off a love story, especially if you want to hook the male viewers. If anyone knows how to hook viewers, it's James Cameron. This guy will take his time to make sure everything is perfect before going to screen. Come to think of it, I think I'm going to look up every James Cameron movie and watch them all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dependable Hiking Shoes

This recent Thanksgiving break, my husband and I had an opportunity to do a photo-walk with blogger friends, Beth and her husband, Khai, who are also photo enthusiasts like us. The couple invited us to go hiking with them at Utah. Doods and I were so excited to join Beth and Khai. And we were also excited to explore Utah, considered as photographer's paradise. It is also a favorite destination of hikers because of the trails that boast of scenic views.

When I was making my checklist for the upcoming hike, hiking shoes topped my list. The last thing I want is for my old beat-up hiking shoes to breakdown in the middle of a nowhere. A good hiking shoes is always worth investing on. Dr. Martens is not just popular brand, it is also respected in the shoe industry. It boasts of shoes that sets the standard for durability, comfort and fashion. When it comes to hiking shoes, Doc martens can be relied upon. My husband and I have several pairs shoes that have kept us company for over ten years despite its heavy use. Trustworthy and dependable.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Day at the Library

Post contributed by Toni Jensen

Every morning around 9, I set my home alarm from AllHomeSecurity.com as I head off to the library in Georgia. I go to the library for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is because I can think straight. As you already know, inside the library is a quiet and serene environment which allows me to forget about the outside world and really just think about everything. I always choose a booth where no one will distract me and just sit and think about life, my goals, and what I want to do for that day.

After I've sat long enough, I'll start getting me some books together to check out. I enjoy inspiration and motivation books, so I always round up about 7 books before I leave. Once I've picked the books I want I locate an open computer and start to work in my online classes. The library I go to has plenty of computers but they are always taken and people are always waiting on them. For this reason I only get an hour on the computer each day.

Once I've finished my hour, I get my things together and I might sit in my corner another minute to decide what I want my next move to be. Once I've done this and checked out my books, I head out with plans of returning tomorrow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Baking is One of the Best Parts of the Season

Thanks to Roman May

October is here again, and that means it's time to start fall baking. I was getting ready to make an apple crisp a few days ago, when I realized that I was out of several key ingredients, including the apples! So, I got ready to head to the store.
With a grocery list in hand, along with several important coupons, I set the Security Choice home security alarm, backed out of the garage, and made my way to the nearest grocery store. Once there, I stocked up on apples, brown sugar, and even a couple of pre-made pie crusts, to have on hand for the time when a pumpkin pie craving strikes.

I got back home about 45 minutes later, and set to mixing the filling for the apple crisp. While I was stirring up the ingredients for the glaze, I realized that none of my baking dishes were clean, and had to put everything aside in order to clean one of the pans.

After the dish was cleaned out, I was finally ready to pour the apple crisp mix into it and start the baking. Then, however, came the hardest part. Of course, the hardest part was waiting for the apple crisp to be done cooking! After so many delays in the cooking, from missing groceries to dirty pans, the apple crisp tasted sweeter than ever.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Deep Fried Cupcakes

Guest post written by Sarah Long

Just when I thought that cupcakes couldn't get any more delicious. I know that paying five dollars is really ridiculous for one cupcake, but I jsut can't resist from paying that much when I go into a cute bakery and see them sitting there behind the window. So when I heard that there was such a thing as deep fried cupcakes at the state fair, I had even more of a reason to go to it this year.

Even before I went to the fair, i was really curious about how they did that with a cupcake, so I looked it up with my wireless internet service and found that they deep fried the cake part of the cupcake and then put the icing on top of the fried part. I didn't think that you could fry it with the icing on the cupcake anyway.

Well, when I finally tried fried cupcakes I did really like it a lot because it was all deep fried mixed in with the sweet too, which really balanced out everything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Cable? No Problem!

Guest post written by Candice Burgeon

My husband and I are avid TV watchers. Now that we are retired, we find ourselves relaxing and watching all of our favorite programs. We try and get out often, but we sometimes find that we have a lot of down time, so we spend a lot of time together in the living room.

After several years of great service, we’ve been having trouble with our cable connection. This definitely upset us. If we don’t have access to our programs, we tend to get a little stir-crazy around the house.

I went to call Time Warner Cable to resolve our problem, but I could barely hear the operator and make an appointment.

Shortly after, I finally decided to go downtown and purchased the hearing aids I was looking at on HearingAidsbyMiracleEar.com. I then went back home to set things straight.

After scheduling an appointment, my husband discovered that wait without cable until next week.

Now that we’re temporarily without cable, we’re trying to get out a little more. The TV is great, but we both agree that it really is no substitute for spending quality time together out of the house.

My Favorite HGTV Show!

Guest post written by Christine Duncan

One of my favorite satellite TV shows is House Hunters International on HGTV or Home and Garden Television that we get through tv from www.tvbydirect.com/directv-deals.html. There are two reason that I like this show.
One of them is because of the way that Suzanne Wang introduces the show. When she introduces the show she starts off by coming up with some witty clever introduction on the couple or family that is currently looking for a second home over seas. Usually it is some place that the couple of family loves as a vacation spot but sometimes it is a location that the couple or family wants to have a second business. After you are introduced to the family it starts to make you wonder what they for a living.

The second reason that I love this show is because of the locations that they go to find a home. Most of the time they are looking for a vacation home and sometimes they are just looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of their old location. The locations that are shown on House Hunters are mostly beach locations. I like trying to figure out which home the couple or family will go with. It is a mystery in itself, but sometimes you can figure out which one they would like to purchase as their vacation home or business home. This show is my favorite satellite real estate TV show!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Helping Schools Through Volunteering

I appreciate the guest post, Lindsay Valdez

As a piano teacher in my spare time, it pained me to hear that my kid's school was cutting the music program. I went to the principal to see if anything could be done. It turns out that they were hoping to rally up volunteers to get some kind of after school program. Obviously, I was more than happy to help, but I had to clear it up with my teenage because I wasn't sure how she would react to having me attending her school.

This wasn't my 1st time volunteering at my kid's school. I also have helped them at fundraisers, chaperoned dances and I'd attended some field trips, but like I said, this would be my 1st real time commitment. Once I got the okay from her, I called the principal and let him know I would be available to help. The next Monday after setting up the ADT security alarm, I headed off for my first day working with the musicians in the music club. It's mostly about keeping the students focused on the music and helping them read higher levels of sheet music. I love being able to hear the original works of these young musicians and help mold the sound that they are trying to develop. It's usually a weekly 1 to 2 hour commitment that's well worth the time.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Miriam Turned Ten

I had been tied up and a bit too busy last week, I have not been able to blog for a long while. I would have wanted to blog about my niece's birthday. Better late than never, right?

Miriam turned ten last Thursday -September 23. The night before, when the kids were fast asleep, we wrapped a gift for her and placed it on top of her bookshelf. We also placed two birthday cards -one from Doods and me; and another from her sisters. Boy was she surprised when she woke up! She was clueless. Teehee. Doods got her a pink Nintendo DS. Yam earned it, she deserved it. We received her  report card already -the first- and she has wonderful grades. Good enough considering she's a new student  in their school. We know she worked hard in school.



The class -spearheaded by Mr Mitchell and Ms Spittler, also gave Yam a birthday card. Yam was thrilled.

Happy Birthday, Yam! May you continue to be God-fearing, fun-loving,  focused, and people-oriented. We love you, Baby!

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

BBQ Grill Covers

When my sister and her family stayed with us during the two-month Summer vacation, we had our endless fill of grilled stuff. My husband and my brother-in-law, grilled almost everything -pork, chicken, beef, veggies. Summer and barbecue go well together. My nieces really enjoyed picnics at the park and bonfire at the beach, especially when we take our ever-dependable grill. But summer vacation came to an end, and my sister went back to Arizona, barbecue days sort-of left with them. School opened and everybody got busy. Much as we would want to, we got too busy for barbecues, not to mention the downpours that came the first few weeks of school. It's not fun to barbecue on wet days. Our poor grill was forgotten at the back porch. Forgotten, but not neglected. Thanks to heavy duty grill covers, like the one we have. It kept our grill safe and protected from harsh weather and crazy critters.

 Well,  we did not really say goodbye to our grill, we just waited for the cooler fall days, which -by the way- are here now. I can almost smell barbecue again -yay! Now that we have adjusted to school life and things are less hectic, we'll  BBQ again, perhaps we'll start  this weekend. It's really a good thing we got BBQ grill covers. Now, we do not have a lot of cleaning to do with our BBQ grill, and there's hardly any damage from the previous downpours. BBQ anyone?

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The Fence

I was fascinated by the deep crevices in this fence. For something that is suppose to be ordinary, this thing holds extraordinary appeal. So much character.


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PlayStation®Move

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of PlayStation MOVE. All opinions are 100% mine.

Some time ago, my husband, Doods, bought a PlayStation®3. What I liked about our PS3 is that it function as a bluray player at the same time.  Good deal huh. Now, we enjoy bluray quality movies. We have always found it relaxing to watch a movie after a hard day's work. HD is good, but bluray is better!  What I did not expect was that I will also enjoy playing the PlayStation games with Doods.  Now, we don't just look forward to the movies, we also look forward to the challenge of the game! But guess what, there's something even better, something new! The PlayStation®Move a better version of what we have right now.

PlayStation®Move redefines motion gaming with the most immersive and realistic gaming experience only possible on the PlayStation®3 system. The simple, ergonomically designed, easy-to-use controller captures a full range of motion giving you ultimate control over how you play the game. With a diverse selection of games and new ones launching all the time, you can enjoy hours of fun with friends and family.

PlayStation®Move has something for everyone. Whether you’re experienced, casual, or somewhere in between, PlayStation®Move has a wide variety of games including sports, action, party, family, and shooters. The games are addictively fun and the outcome of every move is all under your control.

I like the fact that the outcome of every move is all under your control and not based on luck. Games of luck serve as an early orientation for "Casino" type of games which I do not like my nieces to get oriented with. With PlayStation®Move, they develop perseverance and  patience to master a skill; and most of all, they get to practice good judgment!

Imagine if you will, that a little genie appeared and gave you and your family the PlayStation® Move. How would this change your family? Now, more than ever, we would love to get the PlayStation®Move because my nieces are living with us. This is something they will really enjoy. I can even imagine our family game nights! This will be a good outlet for sibling rivalry. My girls will really like it. Another feature I look forward to is the exercise for the whole family. This is a fun way to keep the kids healthy and fit.

To those of you who have who have PlayStation®Move already, which games are you most excited to play on the PlayStation®Move? Why? By the way, if you -like we do-  have an existing PlayStation® already, you can bring motion gaming exclusively to your existing PlayStation®3 for only $99 with the MOVE bundle package! Good deal huh!  I can't wait to get the MOVE bundle for my family!


Visit my sponsor: PlayStation®Move


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Yam and the Squirrels

This photo was taken from one of our countless park days during the long Summer break. My niece, Miriam, came across a friendly squirrel, and fondly observed it. The squirrel did not mind at all that he was being observed. He was busy collecting acorns. To Miriam's delight, another squirrel appeared. Apparently, Mr. and Mrs.Squirrel have a date! They looked cute chasing each on the branches and around the grassy park.





For more critter photos, visit Camera Critters


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Golf At Glen Oaks Country Club

The Author of this post is Cheryl Martinez

Glen Oaks Country Club used to be the Mecca of all country clubs on Long Island. This was the case in regards to food, service, stature, and golf. What ruined all of this? Bernie Madoff. At least 50% of the members at Glen Oaks Country Club on Long Island had their money with Madoff, and many of them got wiped out. Fortunately, I only lost 50%. Strange statement yet true.


I still have enough money to play golf at Glen Oaks. I'm ecstatic about this. The courses are narrow, which makes them challenging. There are also a lot of natural obstacles. But most of all, you get amazing beauty when you play there. And if you like service, a caddy is available. If you ever get invited to play, be sure to take up the offer. You won't regret it.
My Saturdays are often the same. I wake up, do my workout, set my home Los Angeles adt alarm so I can protect my other 50%, and head to Glen Oaks. Everyone there greets me with a smile. After a quick sandwich, I head on out. The only negative is that I'm not able to choose which course I want to play. That will depend on how crowded each course is at the time. But it doesn't really matter. They're all beautiful. I truly enjoy nature so how I play isn't as important as just being outside. But a good score makes for a perfect day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Master Chef Fever

Three days ago, my nieces were rushing to finish their homework, even dinner was rushed. Yikes! Everybody was excited to watch the final episode of Master Chef. I had to admit, even I was looking forward to it -big time. It is fascinating because the contestants are amateur cooks9 from all over the Unites States.  They do not have a degree in Culinary Arts. They are regular people with regular jobs. Their unifying factor is their love for cooking.

Doods  has contaminated the girls with his love for cooking. The whole house is all agog over Master Chef series. Since Master Chef started, our spice racks had been constantly replenished. Doods and the girls love to experiment with different ingredients and different spices.


Master Chef was very interesting. The girls enjoyed the part where the contestants had to plate their dishes. The creative ways they arrange their dish blew us away. The youngest contestant, a 22-year-old, Mississippi-born gal, known as the "pastry princess" bagged the dessert challenge with the way she plated her creme puffs. Beautifully done with  glazed-brown-sugar standing like three lightning bolts in the center of four delicious-looking creme puffs. Each one of the contestants were so innovative.

Now, everyone in the house wants to try the different spices that they've seen in Master Chef. Our kitchen spice racks  have been converted to a wall spice rack to accommodate some newer spices. Geez! The spice rack is the family's latest favorite these days. Now they try to spice the simplest dish!

As for the finale, the finalists were David, a software engineer, and Whitney, the 22-year-old pastry princess. Encouraging huh. My nieces are inspired by the fact that the overall champion is a small town, 22-year-old, country girl. She must have been cooking since grade school. Inspiring! :)

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hannah Montana

Guest post of the week by Nestor Nielsen

I love the show Hannah Montana Forever. It is my favorite teen drama. I watch it about every day on direct tv arizona. The star of the show is Hannah Montana who is played by Miley Cyrus. She is a very talented actress. There is a girl named Lily on the show, and she is Hannah's best friend. Oliver another really close friend of Hannah's, and is also Lily's boyfriend. Hannah's dad is named Robbie on the show. He is her dad in real life, his name is Billy Ray Cyrus. The show is about Hannah Montana who is a pop singing star. She goes to school and tries to keep her identity hidden. Her regular name in the show is Miley Cyrus, this is the name she uses at school and everywhere else. She dresses up and puts a wig on when she is performing. Many scenes in the show are of her hiding and trying to keep everyone from knowing she is the pop star. The only people that know who she really is are her family and her close friends. All of her fans are so in love with her music, she would not be able to do anything without fans bothering her. This show is really cool, and they are great actors and actresses.

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Donna Karan Home



Some time back, Dood and I went to Las Vegas to watch a concert of one of my favorite Korean singers. Why travel to Vegas for that? Well, simply because there is no other way for me to see him perform live. He is a Korea-based performer and only did a US-tour, so i grabbed the chance. It was December, so we decided to spend our anniversary in Vegas at the same time. We were off from work for the two weeks -winter break- so we booked a good hotel and stayed for a week. Of all our vacations, that stay in Vegas made me reflect on the ambiance of the room. The beauty of our hotel room convinced us to redo our bedroom in such a way that we will feel like we are on a vacation.

When we got back to Houston, that was the first thing we did. Little by little, we remodeled our master bedroom. I got my inspiration from the Donna Karan Home. They are committed to providing their customers the finest in luxury bedding, bath accessories and window treatment products. Donna Karan Home bedding creates an instant makeover for your master or guest bedrooms. Their bath accessories can transform your bathroom into a place where function meets style. And, the window treatments can decorate any room with ease. 

It took some time, but we were finally able to to finish redesigning our master bedroom. Now, even if  we're just home, it feels like we're on a vacation.


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Bricktown Kindergarten School

My mom owns and operates a pre-school ever since I can remember. Technically since I was third grade. That's er... some 31 years now! And yes, it still operates til date! Hers was the first one in our neighborhood. In the early 80s, when my youngest brother started going to school, my mom decided it was high time she quit her demanding job and be a stay-at-home mom. This is the best way she can attend to all four of us! I have three sisters (each of us 'just' a year apart) and a brother (our youngest). My mom opened a pre-school with chairs and tables that her dad (my grandpa) put together. He has always been handy with wood work.

Here's a picture of me, my sister, Ima, and my grandpa, in front of the hand-painted sign that my uncle did.

The school had very few students on its first year of operation. My mom took her time in testing the waters and did not want to plunge too soon. Of all businesses, the business of dealing with little kids is one of the difficult ones, because of the high-accountability. My mom waited for the proper time and when things were ready, she planned a massive campaign. Her sister and brothers, were a huge help. My uncles made hand-painted posters on plywood that went to the front yard of our house. They hanged smaller signs around the neighborhood. The posters and signs did wonders.  The enrollment rose up and filled up mom's small cozy classroom. After some time, mom had to hire another teacher to accommodate the growing enrollment. The other teacher, Ann (technically employee, practically family) has been in our school for over 20 years now.

In the mid-90s, other pre-schools and daycare centers started to pop up like mushrooms all around the village. More and more parents recognized the value of sending their kids to school at an early age. The competition got stiff. Sadly at that time, mom's hand-painted posters were already fading and her signage have long been gone. She is a very good teacher, but she is not very good with advertisement. Luckily, her other teacher, Ann, (30ish) had better plans. She introduced my mom to the beauty of  business cards and flyers. It was all new to my mom then, but she agreed to do it. This innovative type of advertisement worked!  I even brought back a magnetic calendar with my mom's school on it. Thank you, Ann! Their dwindling enrollment rose up again.

Bricktown Kindergarten School has been serving our town for over three decades now. Most of my mom's students are the children of her former students. All my three nieces went to grandma's school too. Thanks to good advertisement, mom's school is still on top of its game!

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Mission Conception

Some friends invited us to visit Mission Conception, a National Historical Park located at the heart of San Antonio, Texas, some three hours away from Houston.  In the 1930s, it was almost fully restored in its original design by the Works Projects Administration (WPA).



Click the badge if you want to see more scenic views. Happy Scenic Sunday!



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Friday, September 17, 2010

A Love Story That Never Goes Out of Style

This guest post from Josue Nichols

One of my favorite television mini-series I managed to catch on Virginia satellite TV was Jane Eyre. I loved the book as a young girl, still savored it as an adult woman, but to see it acted out in the flesh was great.

To me, the story is timeless -- a young girl, played by the gorgeous Ruth Wilson, is hired as a governess by a mysterious man with whom she becomes enamored. The feeling is mutual, until she finds out about the crazy wife locked up in the tower. There's heartbreak and a bittersweet ending that satisfies the cynic in me that says truly happy endings are rare, and the romantic schmuck that hopes for them anyway.

The mini-series was fabulous. Toby Stephens, as the brooding and mysterious Mr. Rochester, really did the role justice. The show captured the atmosphere of a time gone by and the repressive environment of that particular era. And who can't relate to a love gone good, then bad, then good again?

Costuming was wonderful, and I think the director did a good job translating a beloved classic story into a captivating film. I will definitely watch it again, just like I've re-read the book a hundred times. Tragic love stories never go out of style.

Decorating for the Holidays

Have you been to the mall lately? Whoa, as early as now, Halloween fever is building up already. The decors are beautiful and fascinating. Am not an advocate of witches and monsters, but I can't help but smile whenever I see Halloween decors because it reminds me of the children's happy faces whenever they get a treat. Here in our village, and most probably everywhere else, having  Halloween home decor is a sign that there are treats waiting for them. As early as now, my kindergarten students talk of nothing else but their Halloween costumes. I wonder what I'll wear? Teehee.

But more than Halloween, I love to decorate for Thanksgiving. I love the smell of hay, and am excited to curve a pumpkin with my nieces. Since they are somewhat new here in America, it would be a treat to have them try pumpkin curving for the first time. Truth is, I have not hosted thanksgiving at home because our friends, the Slaughter's always invite us to join them. This year, for a change, we will drive to Arizona to celebrate thanksgiving with my sister and her husband. We'll follow the turkey tradition, complete with cranberry sauce and cornbread. I checked out several Thanksgiving tablecloths and am greatly inspired by the lovely designs.


Christmas is my favorite of all. This year, like the last, it's my sister's turn to drive to Houston from Arizona to join us for the winter festivities. We always decorate early. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, we start decorating for Christmas. I  take my time decorating because even the simple task of decorating feels like a main event already. I find it enjoyable and I'm sure my nieces will enjoy it too. I have several favorite Christmas home decors, mostly the ones that have sentimental value.

Whew, as soon as Halloween decorating starts, it'll be non-stop til Christmas.. and then hmm... Valentine's day... and so on. Life is made up of delightful decorating!

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Gameday With Little Ones

Guest Blogger:
Written by Clarice Robbins

Football games are like family holidays to us. We all get together, try to look our best and spend some quality bonding time with lots of pictures chronicling them to save afterwards.
Me and my husband met in college and decided as soon as we got married to always bring our family to the games so we're continuing that tradition with our grandkids now. But they're still pretty young so just getting them out the door with their game gear on is a lot of trouble so as you could guess tailgating and watching the game is even more of a headache. But it's worth it in the end.

Last season I noticed that I was getting a little hard of hearing and knew that that would interfere with watching the kids at the games so I got some miracle ear hearing aids after researching a bunch of hearing aids types. I got them over the summer to get ready for the season and although it's just started I've noticed how much they've been helping out already.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shack

Shack
Colored version here.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drug Rehab

There are many reasons why people resort to alcohol or substance abuse. One of the major reasons, is stress. I know because a good friend of mine was a victim of this horrifying nightmare. He is one of the finest people I've known. He was active in our parish and use to find joy in service. He married at the right age of 25, to his girlfriend of 5 years. They were God-fearing couple even before they got married. They were both actively involve in church ministry. They had their first child a year after getting married. They had two more after their first. each one just a year apart. Life was good, or so it seems.

My good friend owns and operates a private school bus, and his wife is a high school teacher. With three kids it was ok at first, but the bus started to act up. Repairs here and there, they're barely making a profit with much of the pay going to repairs. Milk was costly and so was babysitting. His wife cannot afford to give up her job, just in case the school bus go berserk, at least, one of them has work. Fast forward, after some time, their fear was realized, the school bus finally broke down and they have to give up the small business because it was difficult to commit with too many beak downs. Life dragged, but they persevered to make ends meet.

One time, one of the bus operators invited my friend to a party, and little did we know, he was initiated to a substance that allowed him to temporarily forget this problems. Then one thing led to another, and before he knew it, he was too deep in his addiction. He changed, become estranged to his wife and even to his kids. He even started stealing. His wife was at the verge of divorcing him already, when he was brought to prison for stealing. At that time, the only option for him was to willingly subject to drug rehab. If he does, he will not go to jail. He fought against it, thinking he can rehabilitate himself. The only thing that made him subject to it were his children. He agreed to do it after seeing their sad faces.

If not for my friend, I would not have believed drug treatment works. After a year in rehab, my friend came out a changed man. The training was rigorous. The life in the center was difficult (in a good way). They were taught discipline and were oriented about responsibility.  He said, he will gladly recommend it to anyone with drug problems, even people who need alcohol treatment. Like drug rehab, alcohol rehab is worth a go. A second life is always worth everything.

My friend and his wife celebrated their 13th anniversary and unexpectedly had another child. I enthusiastically share his story over and over again in the hope that people will trust the power of drug rehab. Let rehab be a gift to yourself or to your loved ones who are trapped in substance or alcohol abuse.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Two Weeks In School

Last Friday, when Doods and my three nieces picked me up from where my carpool buddy dropped me off, a wonderful surprise greeted me, Miriam's Star Student of the Week Certificate was clipped on the window of the passenger seat. Whoa

Most of you already know that my three nieces (Becca-12, Cate-11 and Miriam-9)  have moved in with us from Arizona to attend school here in Houston. It has been an unexpected blessing. Doods and I really appreciate and welcome the change. Of course, there's still much to learn about "instant parenting" but we enjoy having the girls around.

Since the girls were going to be new students in a competitive school, we were a bit worried that it might take them a while to adjust to a new environment, new school, new classmates, new system.. new life. We were not so worried with academics, they are all good in that area already. Each one loves to learn and are excited and eager to go to school. We were more concerned about the social aspect of the move. With stories of bullying here and there, who wouldn't be! We just want them to fit-in like normal kids, to belong, to have "real" friends, and just feel happy, secure and comfortable with school. Well, what do you know, in two weeks time, new-student, Miriam (4th grade), was chosen as the first recipient of the Star Student of the Week Certificate. (Thanks, Mr Mitchell!) It's just a simple certificate, but it means a lot to us. It allowed us to let out a long sigh of relief. The girls are happy! Things are looking up! We can sit back, relax, and just let life happen.


Becca (7th grade), she had their Goals Night in school last Friday. Doods and I were able to meet all her six teachers. All her teachers were nice and accommodating. Of the six, Becca seem to like Mrs. Elkins the most. Mrs. Elkins teaches Intro to Broadcasting. I like Mrs Elkins too, she was very pleasant and appear to really enjoy what she's doing.

Meanwhile, Cate, asked for help last Wednesday, to choose a gift for her new-found friend (fast becoming bff) Courtney. Cate wanted something personalized, so she and I worked on a macramĂ© friendship bracelet. She did a good job.

Life is good! We do not ask for much, but that they be happy. Happy students learn better, and do well in school with very little effort.

As a reward for two weeks of hard work, we took the kids on a three-hour drive to Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio. Celebrating life any way we can!

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Miriam's Ice Cream Concoction

Today's Brenda Photo Challenge is photo essay. When I saw the topic, I got excited. I have not done any, and am excited to try it, but..er.. my premature Alzheimer's (teehee) manifested itself and the challenge was completely forgotten. I was reminded when I saw Ann's post early this morning when I was blog hopping. (Thanks, Ann!) Guys, I'll do better next time. For now, here is a photo collage of my niece as she attempts to be creative with her ice cream. I made this some time back for a scrapbook she was putting together.

click on the photo to enlarge


It's Photo Essay  @  Brenda's Photo Challenge. Feel free to check the other participants.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Yucca Tree

Yucca Tree


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Monday, August 30, 2010

Abandoned Bridge

I wonder why this bridge was abandoned. It still looks passable... hmm..



MellowYellowBadge


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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Old Car

Old Car



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