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Friday, July 30, 2010

Arches in BW

I use to join Monochrome Weekly, but this is my first entry for The Weekend in Black and White. Glad to be able to join you again, guys! Grateful to Dragonstar for hosting this meme.

These arches are found at Mission San Jose, San Antonio Texas. One of the four missions built by the Franciscan missionaries in San Antonio Texas, during the early 1700s.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To Swim Or Not to Swim

My 11-year-old niece, Cate, trying to decide whether she will swim or not.
Lake Travis, Austin Texas

For more watery shots, check out  Watery Wednesday


Moving To Houston

My three nieces (ages 12, 11 and 9) moved  to Houston from Arizona. They are going to school here at Houston. My husband and I drove to Arizona some time in June to help them pack for the big move. Each one of my nieces have so much that they cannot seem to leave behind (yikes) Packing would have been difficult had it not been for several  moving supplies  like, moving boxes, bubble wraps, tape dispensers and such. One secret for an easy breezy packing is having the right moving supplies. Packing done, we all drove to Houston. The drive was fun -what with three kids in tow. Doods and I enjoyed the games they played during the long drive. More rest stops, especially ones with playgrounds -hahaha.

My sister, their youngest, two-month old, Monica, and her husband followed us to Houston two weeks later. It's full house at our home right now. It's such a nice change from being just the two of us to having six other people.  My sister and I have checked out the school for the girls and have secured the school supplies list already. We're waiting for the no-tax day to go on that shopping spree. For the meantime, there's still time to enjoy what's left of the two-month summer break, before school starts.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Acne Age

Skin care problems. Yes, that's what this is all about. Oops, not mine -not yet!  Although some age spots are slowly peeping already (yikes!) Most of you know that my three nieces (ages 12, 11 and 9) are presently staying with my husband and me. They moved here in America, from the Philippines, and are staying for the duration of the school year, and perhaps beyond (depending on how things work). My husband and I are thrilled to have them. There are some adjustments to be made, since we are so use to just "us." We do not have kids of our own (yet). Some adjustments include the need to have planned menu and available snacks among other things -teehee. Recently, another concern came up, acne!

The thing is, I do not know anything about acne. I had some when I was growing up, but it's the type that disappears with plain soap and water. I myself use basic skin care products, more like for hygiene than for cosmetic purposes, so there goes my knowledge about acne (practically none). One of my nieces have tiny red pimples that gets irritated every now and then, not all at once. It's as if the pimples agree on a schedule on whose turn it is to swell and scare us -yikes! Kidding aside, she diligently washes her face thinking it might be dirt that infects the pores of her skin, but with the pattern that I just mentioned am seriously considering checking out some acne products. I get scared when they swell. You guys know anything about acne?


Don Juan Rose

Meet "Don Juan," our bright red climber. Since we took him home last spring, he has never failed to amaze us with his vivid blooms.

Chrysanthemums at the park

Cattleya orchid

Vanda orchid

It's Ruby Red Macro @ Brenda's Photo Challenge. Feel free to check the other participants.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Upgrade Or Not

When we had our house built, we had to make decisions on upgrades. Mistakes regarding these choices can make life difficult.  I mean, some things should be installed prior to moving in, and some upgrades can be done even after we have moved-in.  The basics, like fireplace (which is optional) and bricks on the facade of the house are just a few that (we believe) should be decided on, because it would be very difficult to have those installed after we have moved in, when the furniture are already in place. In fact, I think, with the bricks, we might not have a choice after the boards have been in place, to replace it with bricks. Well, as for the little things, it is wiser to take things slow and do things project by project -weekend projects, I mean.

Weekend projects can be putting tiles on the patio, or painting the rooms. Now that I've mentioned it, lately, since I've been hooked into gardening, I've been thinking of  putting tiles on our patio. I hate to see how quickly mold and grime settles and I had to brush it every now and then. Tiles is so versatile, I see it in unexpected places. I saw subway tiles, and it looked good, not to mention easy to clean. Ok, I got distracted. Anyway, all am saying is, am glad we held back and did not have every little area upgraded. Most times, you get a good deal when you take time to patiently watch out for those amazing sale. And on top of that, it is such a delight to work on weekend projects.


You Have Got to Watch This!

Contribution by German Flowers

"You've Got Mail" is the best movie on Satellite TV. The cast is superb and the writing genius. It explore New York City in a magical way through out the seasons of a year following the love story of an unlikely pair.
I love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together, they make a handsome pair who have great chemistry. Meg Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly who owns a small children's book store. Tom's character is more dynamic in a large corporate but family run conglomerate book store. Eventually his store runs hers out of business.
There private lives are where its gets interesting. They met online in a chartroom and they begin to talk all the time via email. Their banter is fresh and witty and it is clear they enjoy each others advice and stories.
Eventually, Tom Hanks figures out his email partner is Meg Ryan who is clueless. The story then revolves around him trying to get her not to hate him and to wrap her around his finger.

They meet in a springtime garden in New York filled with flowers and bees buzzing. They kiss after realizing they were meant for each other. It is the most perfect movie and ending to a fabulous film. I love that it happened before online dating became so big and common place. It is a real spin on modern love.

Income Insurance

Two months ago, my sister gave birth to their fourth child. A baby girl, their fourth. Yes, four daughters -all younger than 13! Talk about being pro-life! Teehee. I can see how delightful it is to have kids that are not ages apart. The same-age-bracket factor has a lot of pros. Especially in terms of sharing and er..hand-me-downs...ahihi.. Good thing my third niece isn't  so picky. Of course she understands that her big sister has bigger responsibilities in terms of household chores, so it kinda works out. My sister did a good job with the give and take practice in her home.

One of the cons, with the same-age-bracket thingy is the fact that nobody would be old enough to man the household should something happen to mom and dad, something none of us ever want, but had to think about. I mean with the eldest only 12 and three younger sisters. My sister just had to think of everything, including the possibilities of accidents, even death. She and her husbands made sure they have an accident insurance.

With a huge household like theirs, bills just roll like rapids, and so should their income! Geez! Their income is something that they should also protect. Having an income insurance assures them of a smooth flow of income despite sickness or injury. It is wise to invest on these things. It is consoling  to know your options. Life Insurance Australia offers financial security that we all need. It is stressful to live like a worry-wart. My sister did a good job in seeing to these things.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hybrid Hysteria

Car Craze is back! Well, more like am forced to consider getting one, now that my three nieces are living with us. As most of you know, my three nieces (ages 12, 11 and 9) moved to the USA from the Philippines. They will be with us for the duration of this coming school year (or probably beyond) This means a huge change of lifestyle for my husband and I. Having been childless for 13 long years, we find it delightful to have the girls around. Albeit a lot of work and the challenge of raising pre-teens, we are still excited.

The first adjustment would, an extra car! We only have one vehicle and have survived with it for as long as we can remember. Things work out well. I enjoy carpooling. I carpo ol with my co-teacher and friend for the past seven years. but with the girls different schedules -each one hectic- we have to get another vehicle. I like the look of the sleek sedan, acura tl, with it's four-wheel drive. When they heard of the plan to get another car, my nieces did not hesitate to suggest a "bumblebee" the chevy camaro, popularized by the movie Transformers -teehee.  Of course, dodge has an answer to chevy's camaro -their dodge challenger, the two-door, muscled version of the camaro -not bad, but too masculine for me. Oh well, with gas price fluctuating up and down, am greatly tempted to go for  hybrid cars! So many to choose from...but am actually anchored to a realistic budget -hahaha.  But it's always pleasant to check the market and compare. ")


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rooftop garden @ Wordless Wednesday

Rooftop gardening? Hmm . . . looks like it! :)

Ooh, those succulents look so healthy! :)

Click the button below to visit other participants of WW


Summer at Branson Missouri

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

A visit to one of Branson's spectacular tourist destination, The Titanic Museum. This huge two-story building is full of memorabilia from the Titanic era. It also houses one of the richest collection of amazingly clear photos of the titanic at sea, before it's sad fate. These photos are courtesy of  a titanic-survivor who took a lot of photos of titanic and the passengers during it's sail. Technology has enhanced the rare photos, making it clear and vibrant. This Titanic Museum is massive, with a 100 feet height. Holds 400 rare artifacts. It is anchored on water, giving it the at-sea look. Most of us have seen the movie, Titanic, but nothing compares to seeing the photos of the real people who have survived.

Me, Rossa, Luz, Excem McCasland and Nelly

My husband and I were fortunate to enjoy a week-long spring break, that allowed us to explore Branson Missouri. We drove from Houston, with several of our co-teachers, and met with some friends, the MCCasland's, who have driven a week ahead to meet family and relatives. The McCasland's regaled us of their stay at Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. The couple and their relatives, were wowed by the clean surroundings and friendly service. Like them, good customer service, is one of the things that Doods and I look for in a hotel. The McCasland's had a huge family reunion at Branson. Like them, Doods and I are fond of traveling with company -in a big group- so we always look for reasonably-priced packages, like the ones being offered at Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. 

This summer, my sister and her family joined us here in Houston, from Arizona. My three nieces ages 12, 11 and 9 have just completed their first school year here in America, from the Philippines. It was a huge adjustment for them, so we are looking forward to take them driving this summer, to help them unwind and de-stress. I know, even children get stressed-out these days.

We have a long list of places to choose from, and Branson is on top of the list. They are all excited to visit the Titanic Museum and explore the other activities in the area like the Ride the Duck, A tour around the city aboard the WWII replica of the DUCW. This amphibious vehicle takes you on a drive and a plunge that will have you quacking in delight. We are looking forward to taking my nieces to see the fish hatchery. Doods and My brother-in-law can't wait o go fishing on Lake Tnaycomo -well stocked from the fish hatchery!  Last time Doods and I were in Branson, we looked around some places that offer good packages. One ofthe places we checked out was Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing, and it looks like a good place to stay. They have packages for big groups like ours. We can't wait to take the girls to Branson this summer.

Visit my sponsor: Experience the Summer Spectacular in Branson!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pink Petunias

We have old hooks that use to carry solar-powered lamps. The hanging lamps are now faded and yellowish, and is fast becoming an eye-sore, but the hooks are still sturdy, so we decided to retire the old lamps and replace them with these lovely pink petunias.
The thing I like most with hanging plants, is that I can easily take it down whenever there are storms and such. One other advantage of hanging plants is, if it loses its shape, it can easily be replaced -minus the hassle of uprooting and replanting. Hello summer!

Visit other participants of Today's Flowers and feast on their colorful blooms!


Free Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller

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

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Enroll Today in Cryo-Cell’s signature U-Cord service and for a limited-time receive a free Baby Jogger City Mini. Having a new born is life changing in many ways. New moms give up a lot of the usual things they use to do before baby's arrival. Working out is just one of those precious things some new moms are forced to give up, but not when you have a Baby Jogger City Mini. Cryo-Cell knows that as a new mom, it’s hard to find time to exercise. Cryo-Cell moms really understand the importance of safeguarding the future health and well-being for both their newborns and for themselves. With the award-winning Baby Jogger City Mini stroller, new moms can work out as they enjoy time in the beautiful outdoors with their new baby. What better way to celebrate the birth of your newborn and get back in shape all at once? Enroll online or by phone at 800-STOR-CELL today. Special promotion ends 6/30/10 at midnight EDT.

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Visit my sponsor: Protect Baby, Protect Mom


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grand Shores Ocean Resort

After experiencing one of the nastiest winters, it is now time to hit the beach. Summer is at it's peak, and the dancing wave are beckoning.  Houston welcomed summer with a huge splash. Due to a hurricane entering from the coast in Florida, the first weeks of summer, which we have all waited for, has been rainy for almost two weeks. Those days were dreadful. We were wishful of long barefoot walks on soft sandy beaches, under the blazing sun. It isn't too late for all these. I found this website, that has affordable packages.

Myrtle beach sounds like  good place to visit. I have been looking around for a Myrtle beach hotel that is very near the beach and offers child-friendly amenities. Despite the fact that my nieces ages (12, 11 and 9) are crazy for the beach, they also like to play in the pool -indoor or otherwise. Plainly speaking, they just can't get enough of the water. I guess they got this from living in a country that is an archipelago. My nieces are from the Philippines. Our country is made up of 7,107 big and small islands. Short of saying, there's water practically everywhere! Teehee. 

With amenities that offer a lot of fun things to do, a day wouldn't be enough at Myrtle beach. I can see that it's going to be a lot cheaper if we stay longer, and avail of reasonably-priced  Myrtle beach vacation deals. Whew, I can almost foresee sun-kissed days and long walks on sandy-beaches.

Spit and Splash

Can you find the spit?  Teehee.

For more critter photos, visit Camera Critters


Friday, July 9, 2010

Credit Repair

People often times think that credit repair is bothersome and complicated, and in the process, under-estimate the huge advantages of the process. They do not even bother to inquire about it. Well, they are missing a lot by doing this. It may time some time and effort, what does not anyway. Nothing is handed to us in a platter. With every endeavor, there is always a need to put in some work. Actually, nowadays, credit repair services like DSI Solutions are available online. 

DSI Solutions can give you an Improve credit. This has advantages.One of the major advantages is that you won't get turned down for loans. Unexpected things can happen to you anytime. You might find your ideal house, situated at an ideal location -perhaps one that is very near your workplace. With bad credit, it would be difficult to be approved for a loan, worst, there is a likelihood of being denied that loan, and your ideal house slipping away before you have tie to think. Do not wait for that surprise "good deal" to spring on you. Start your credit repair now with DSI Solutions.


Teen Drug Rehab

The reality of teen substance abuse is quite alarming. My husband, a high school teacher, has dealt with several situations pertaining to substance abuse, from students who have been caught doing drugs, have confessed to do drugs and even have students who attended class, high on drugs.

There are many reasons why teenagers do drugs. In most cases, the leading cause of substance abuse is  stress. There are so many suppressors that push teens to do drugs, one of which is social acceptance, and/or low self-esteem. Peer is the life of most of these high school kids. They crave for approval, the want to be "cool" This feeling of wanting to be accepted can drive teens to do anything even dare to do things that are destructive to themselves -like drugs.

In the school setting, students who are hungry for their parents attention, would find it easy to casually talk to their teachers about their sentiments, problems, heartaches... their frustrations. Often times, when students confide about being hooked on drugs or alcohol, the teachers do their best to talk to the student about  teen drug rehab or teen alcohol rehab. It is vital that kids know they have a way out, that they can be helped. Teen drug treatment  is available and accessible. Sometimes, young people just needs to be guided accordingly to realize there is so much ahead of them and high school is just a cocoon they have to go through to emerge as butterflies.  But despite the rehabs, early on, parents should provide their teens with teen addiction info before the kids start to get curious about drugs or alcohol. In the end, prevention is still better then cure


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Cleaning

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, one of the perks of being a teacher is having a long summer break -a little less then three months. Every summer, Doods and I take off on a long driving across different states. We live like nomads to the most part of our summer break -exploring. This summer however, is different. My sister and her family  came to join us for the summer break. They are here with us in Houston, from Arizona, for a month and a half. It has been a joy having them especially my four nieces. Doods and I love having them around. Having these much people though means a lot of adjustments, esp since we are so use to having no one at home with us, just the two of us.

One of the things we worked on, is the bathroom. My sister has four daughters, all younger than twelve. Geez, we definitely need to organize the bathroom. And then there's the guest room closet which the girls will use. I got organizers for that closet too. Then the cleaning part. We cleaned big time because my sister has a two-month old baby.  We thoroughly vacuumed the carpets, plus did some steam cleaning.  Because it's summer, the air feels dry and warm, we needed to get a  humidifiers for the baby. Oops, wait til I tell you all about the kitchen! Oh well, talk about summer cleaning, despite all the adjustments, Doods and I are super thrilled to have the girls (nieces) with us. We would gladly go through all the cleaning and organizing over again, just to have them here with us again next summer!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ducks and Geese

My niece, Miriam, fascinated with the ducks and geese.

For more watery shots, check out Watery Wednesday


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Llano, Texas

On our long drive from Arizona to Texas, we passed by this picturesque bridge @ Llano, Texas. That's my 11-year old niece, Cate, trying to make up her mind -to swim or not to swim...

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The Biggest Loser

Guest post brought to you by Alex Banof

One of the best reality shows on tv in my opinion is the show The Biggest Loser. I have been watching this show since it first started and each season, I get emotionally invested in the contestants. With so many great, emotional story lines of people trying to improve their lives by losing weight and improving their overall healthy, its easy to root for every single person on the team. While I have never struggled with losing a large amount of weight, I can still sympathize with their desire to want to improve things for themselves. The hard work and emotion that they put into all details of the show is what keeps me watching. From intense workouts to extreme diet changes, the contestants all work incredibly hard to achieve their dream weight or fitness goal.

Each week I watch the show on the channels I get through the best cable tv deals and get more sucked in by the trainers on the show. Jillian Michaels is one of my favorite fitness tv personalities. Her honesty, desire and sometimes cruelness with the contestants is the initial reason that I started watching the show. Her dynamic with not only the contestants but the other trainers is one of the most interesting parts of the reality show.



Spring and summer are often characterized by blooms. It is a good time to work on projects in the yard. This spring, I worked on several container gardens. I like the fact that these gardens are versatile, and can be easily moved around.  This project is easy, and right now, timely. I said timely because a lot of plants are on sale during spring. For my container garden project, I chose a blue point juniper and several low-maintenance blooms. I shaped the blue point juniper into a simple topiary. I picked out a number of beautiful  outdoor planters. When doing container gardening, choose your outddor planter  wisely, they bring out the best in your plant/foliage, and they add character in your yard.

I also bought an indoor planter. Added some to my collection. I am very fond of  indoor planters. I have quite  collection of indoor plants already. This time, I've decided to grace the fireplace -for the meantime- since it's spring and the fireplace isn't in use. I added some mini roses that were on sale -so many lovely colors to choose from. I got pink, yellow and  red. This year, am into planters, big time.


Monday, July 5, 2010

JK Adams

I've recently watched Julie and Julia -kinda late for me huh. I've read the book while it was hot on the shelf, but I got too busy to watch the movie.  But I had to see it because I got intrigued by Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child -the voice, wow!  Meryl Streep did an awesome job. She nailed it. I really enjoyed the movie.

Watching Julie and Julia whetted my appetite and had me experimenting  with new recipes. It also had me checking out some kitchen stuff. JK Adams has some of my favorite items. Their JK Adams wine rack  that comes with a stemware rack looks really practical. The JK Adams pot rack is classy and elegant, but very durable. The monogrammed JK Adams cutting board is a beauty, durable, but soft enough not to damage the blades of my sharp knives. I like how these items tie together things in a kitchen. They are made of the same material - durable wood. Items are available in different  shades and personalization is also available.

Geez, Julie and Julia really made me see, not only cooking, but also my kitchen, in a different light.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spring Projects

Last spring, I took advantage of our one-week spring break and worked on several projects for our yard. Unfortunately, I got too busy to blog about it, so here's hoping it's not that late! Here are just some of the projects I worked on.

I spiced up our front yard by adding some terra cotta pots. Doods and I bought several blue point juniper trees for the terra cotta pots and embellished it with colorful impatiens and petunias, oh and our neighbor gave us some yellow flowers (I forgot the name). I really like how the experiment turned out. Tadah! Teehee.

Anybody knows what these yellow flowers are called?

This second project did not require much. We have old hooks for solar-powered hanging lamps. I retired the old lamps (thry already turned yellowish!) and replaced them with these hanging baskets of petunias. Fortunately they are on sale to welcome spring -yay! There goes some dash of color!  Not bad huh.
I love working on the yard. The weather was perfect, not too cold, not too warm (like right now -too hot! Whew!) Doods and I love driving around the neighborhood to feast our eyes on other lovely creations -my neighbors have lovely gardens! I can't help noticing some address plaques that are so pretty! Am drawn to those gorgeous address signs. Wouldn't it be neat to have a classy address sign or even just an address plaque? I wish! Methink it's cool! :)  


Rain Chain In My Backyard

Geez, our fourth of July is rainy! I hope it stops raining later tonight. It's the first time for my nieces and my brother-in-law to celebrate fourth of July. They moved here in America a year ago, some weeks after the fourth of July, so they missed the spectacular display of fireworks. *sigh*  It isn't raining as I type, and I really hope it doesn't anymore!

It has been a wet week! Yea, rainy days are here to stay. Hurricane Alex  visited the south of Texas, somewhere in the South Padre Island area. Puddles everywhere in the yard. Grass is growing wild. Gutter over spills. My roses and camellias are suffering from  having "wet feet."  They are drowning because the roof facing  my back yard has no gutter. Heavier drops of water causes the soil to splatter on the leaves, causing the leaves to rot or develop fungus. Gutter for that part of our roof is on top of  our to-do list, and a  rain chain for the corners of our house to help support the gutters from heavy rains.

Rain chains are alternative to down spouts. The purpose of a garden rain chain  is largely decorative, to make water feature out of the transport of rain water from the roof gutter to a drain. They are widely used in Japan. Rain water ran-off gets distributed from a roof top gutter downward through the gutter rain chain. Copper rain chains  are very practical and ideal.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer @ the Theatres

One of the perks of being a teacher is having a long summer break, and I mean really long. A little short of three months. This is the time we over-worked, underpaid government employees take this time to unwind, and relax. Normally, my husband (who is also a teacher) and I take this chance to be on the road for that much awaited long driving. This summer, we did not go anywhere. We stayed home because my sister (who is also a teacher) and her family spent their summer break with us. The thing is, my sister has four kids -daughters- all younger then twelve. The moment I found out about my sister's plan to stay with us, I listed several fun -but inexpensive- activities for my three nieces (the fourth is only two months old).

I had pizza-making and baking on top of the list. At least this is something we can do as often as they get hungry -teehee. We did nail-painting, kite flying and we frequented the theaters. There's an outdoor theatre here at downtown Houston that is free, plus the earliest show in the movie threatre is always cheaper. My sister and I though grabbed this chance to see Broadway musicals and plays. The trick is securing the tickets real early to get really good seats!  Right now, the line up here at the local theatre in Houston is not as good as the ones at Boston. If you live anywhere in Boston, the place to secure your tickets is at Boston Opera House Tickets. Wang theatre is about to show Grease -one of my faves! Better check the tickets at Wang Theatre Tickets.  My nieces of course are bugging us to take them to any Justin Bieber concer. For this, the place to check is Air Canada Center Tickets. Geez, this summer is and will be pretty much spent on the theatres! :)

Cycling Craze

One of the things that Doods is fond of is biking or simply put "cycling."  He and his mountain bike can go places. Thanks to family friendly bike lanes that are situated along beautiful parks, biking has become another remarkable way to de-stress. Biking is also a good form of exercise, not to mention inexpensive. No need to pay membership fee or shell out gas money just to get to the gym. All he has to do is grab his bike and go! Biking is also eco-friendly, it does not emit fuel discharge and generates renewable energy thus minimizes air pollution and reduces traffic congestion.

Biking and photography -two of Doods' favorite hobbies- go well together. With biking, it is so easy to park  anywhere and snap. Doing away with the hassle of costly parking or lack of parking space. Its high maneuverability and ability to travel on special paths makes it a good companion for nature photographers.

Bikers need to note the little things that make a bikers life safe and comfortable. There are special gears that are considered a necessity. Biking shorts  are the first thing a biker should invest on. These special shorts provide padded support if you will be cycling for long periods of time and on long distance ride.Equally important is the bike shoes that absorbs the pressure of body as the biker pedals through. Bike helmet is the bikers best companion. Not only does it protect the brain during accidents, it is also a law in over half of the US states. However careful a biker may be, there are always motorists who drive like dare devils. It is better to be safe than sorry. Another handy companion is the bike lock. Most bikers invest on a good bike and good bikes can be eye-candy for burglars. It is always wise to put a lock on your bike. In fact, it is recommended that you put two or three locks in your bike. Biking can be very enjoyable if a biker pays attention to these simple things.

The weather has been good, warm enough for some sweat. Doods can't wait to be out and be on that bike lane again.


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