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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.


Visit other participants for The Weekend in Black and White. Grateful to Dragonstar for hosting this meme.



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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.

Visit other participants for The Weekend in Black and White. Grateful to Dragonstar for hosting this meme.



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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


Visit other participants for The Weekend in Black and White. Grateful to Dragonstar for hosting this meme.



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