Friday, July 30, 2010

Sweet And Salty

Yesterday, I was in munchy mood.

I'm a Hershey Milk Chocolate girl, but I do eat M&M's once in a while. So when I saw this bag of the new Pretzel M&M's at the cafe, I grabbed it so swiftly; I don't know if it was just mere curiosity of the new product or I'm just feeding my sweet cravings. The next time I know I was opening that sweet bag in the elevator back to my office. If you like chocolate covered pretzels, then you might like this one too. It certainly has the crunch and saltiness of a pretzel that blends so deliciously with the sweetness of the milk chocolate and the candy shell.

How about you? What's your favorite candy or chocolate bar?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Curve Balls And Flowers

It's been a tough day. Actually, it's been a really tough week for me, and I'm not so sure if things will get better anytime soon. Life has thrown me several curve balls, but I'm still here - standing.

To cheer myself up, I'm posting some photos I really like. I took these photos at the Hershey Gardens. I hope they can cheer someone who's having a tough time too. After all, I find my smile whenever I see blooming flowers.
There will be another inning, another game, another chance, and ‘how’ you handle the curve balls is really up to you. You can lose your confidence, your spirit, your love of the game or, you can take your stance at home plate, swing like you have never swung before and know you have a chance at hitting that ball far out into the outfield or the stands.  (Kimberley Cohen)

Happiness held is a seed; happiness shared is the flower.

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth the flower.
~Shigenori Kameoka~

The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days. 
~Robert Leighton~

Happy Wednesday to all.


My entry to the PEBA 2010 Blog Awards has been approved as Nominee #2. My entry is here: Outside Looking In.

If you would like to read the other entries, please click the PEBA 2010 badge below, or vote for your favorite entry here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Seafood Feast

Bear took me to Red Lobster this recent weekend. He was brandishing his $50 gift card award from work, so off we went to have a feast. Thank you, Bear.

This is Red Lobster's Ultimate Feast. It's absolutely filling and for someone who indulges in crab or lobster once or twice a year, this plate is simply gorgeous. I love the steamed snow crab legs, garlic shrimp scampi (a favorite) and Walt's favorite shrimp. My only complaint is that I found the split Maine lobster tail too salty.

The meal was great, but I think I can only manage to indulge with this huge serving once a year. It was just too much food for one meal.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Supporting PEBA 2010

My entry to the PEBA 2010 Blog Awards has been chosen as Nominee #2. The theme this year is - Strengthening OFW Families: Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation.  

I would love to hear your thoughts.  My entry is here: Outside Looking In.  Please feel free to read and leave me a comment.

To read the other entries and vote for your favorite entry, please click here.  Thank you and let's support PEBA!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Notebook Love

In response to Wifely Steps entry, Notebook in my Bag, I also carry a notebook in my bag. Nothing beats having a notebook and pen in hand when a great idea comes to mind. I bought this notebook in Hawaii when I went home to celebrate my 31st birthday. I love the Hawaiian themed cover because it reminds me that I'm carrying a piece of aloha with me wherever I go. It also makes me feel close to home all the time.

If I were to allow you to peek into my notebook, you'll see a hodgepodge of thoughts from what I'm feeling about work and life, weekend must-dos, shopping lists, recipes I'd like to try, blog ideas, my top ten world destinations (which seems to change every month), to what I'd like to eat for dinner. I also paste my favorite funny comic strips and cut out sweet notes from family and friends which I revisit when I am feeling low. This notebook isn't just an absorber of my stress and crazy moments, but also a source of laughter and encouragement.

Sometimes, when I'm so stressed at work, I usually get away from my computer and write on my notebook to relieve the stress. It helps me refocus and get back into working mode. This notebook is half-way full, so I might start looking for a new notebook soon.

How about you? Do you carry a notebook too?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I planted sunflowers on my front garden, and although I was so worried they wouldn't survive this ongoing heat wave, I'm surprised that they are thriving in the 90 or 100 degree, humid weather. I am so happy that every morning when I leave and come home from work, I am greeted by these smiling sunny faces.

I love it when they're still starting to bloom

Ever so patiently the petals slowly open to embrace the sun

Am I ready?

In full bloom and glory

I'm thinking of saving the seeds and plant them again next year.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Outside Looking In

About six years ago, my sister decided to work abroad and left her three kids and husband behind to become a domestic helper in Hong Kong. I had immense fear. I feared for her safety, and I feared for her family’s situation, but my sister calmly told me, “Sacrifices have to be made for the family. I’ll be fine.” After a few months in Hong Kong, my sister and her employer got into a dispute, and this resulted in my sister filing a law suit against her employer.

As my sister bravely faced her own legal battles abroad, we, the family, were left in the dark not knowing who to turn to or ask for help. As for my sister, she was left to fend for her own in a foreign land. Desperate to find another employer, my sister asked help from her agency and other agencies who did not do anything but ask for more money for all reasons I found to be absurd and suspicious; the agencies still kept the money even after they failed finding her employment.  Truth cannot be denied that out there, there are agencies and individuals who would con their fellow overseas foreign workers (OFWs) for selfish financial gain; this is in addition to the lack thereof of available government programs to help OFWs abroad and at home. In the end, my sister won her case, was given her unpaid wages and a paid ticket back to the Philippines. With that short stay in Hong Kong and a win on her law suit, my sister came home to face another battle – to save her marriage.


OFWs and their families are involved in two, among many, major battles. First, they have to endure the separation from their love ones while still maintaining their family’s integrity back home. This applies to all OFWs but more to parents leaving a partner and children behind, but single OFWs too face the blunt reality that family support is no longer a tricycle, jeepney or bus away. Second, they face the battle to survive the challenges and demands of working in a foreign country, adjust to their host country’s laws and culture, and find normalcy in their new environment. Apart from all these, they have to endure the longing of love ones each waking day. These are just a few of the sacrifices an OFW makes.

Since I started writing this entry, there are two discernible themes – LOVE and SACRIFICE. I think these two are the main components that keep OFWs alive and thriving. If you ask a number of OFWs why they chose to work abroad, you wouldn’t be surprised if the common instantaneous response is, “It’s for my family.” It is a common response, but it is such an unselfish and loving response. This proves that no desert is hot enough, no distance too far, or no country too cold can keep an OFW from uplifting his or her family’s welfare first before his or her own.

And to those left at home, they are left to endure the absence of a mother, a father, a sister or a friend. For a parent, left to assume the responsibilities of both mother and father, he or she must solely look after the children because there’s a balance to be kept, a gap to be filled, and normalcy to be attained. In my sister’s absence and with the intent to keep the children’s lives as normal as possible, we, my family and relatives, stepped in to look after her children, but no matter how much love, sacrifice and guidance were given, someone or something will still go astray. It is regretful that my sister’s marriage did not survive.


So before anyone decides to work abroad, one must take into consideration EVERYTHING. Sit down with your whole family and decide what is best. Ask for everyone's cooperation to keep the communication open and to maintain the family bond strong.  Make them understand that when someone decides to work abroad, there are things at stake, but emphasize to yourself and your family that the family always comes first.  Before you board that plane to somewhere, keep your family and love ones in your heart and never let them go.

Yes, my sister’s story is not new, but it cuts deep through the heart of every OFW who has to endure time away from family and friends. My sister’s story is neither special nor unique, but what happened to my sister’s family is an example of what some members of the OFW community are facing these days. The breakdown of the family structure is just one among many growing social problems that some OFW families face today.  This needs to be addressed individually and socially, but I'd like to address the individual foremost, self-discipline and self respect is key.

To OFWs and their families, it is important to remain true to God and your vows, imbibe in your children the importance of faith, good values, and loyalty to family. Most of all, you must demand from your individual self to be a good example to your family, your community, and your country at all times.  Lead by becoming a good example.


To your fellow OFWs, unite and help each other. Since you are all going through very similar circumstances and challenges, do not fail to extend a helping hand or offer a shoulder to cry on for those in need. Become messengers and beacons of strength and hope. Trash that crab mentality and put into practice the essence of bayanihan.  Help each other. Uplift each other.

As more people join the OFWs’ community, it is a powerful entity that can demand and advocate for more rights, protection and security from the Philippine government and host governments. As a united community, you own a powerful voice; use it. The results may be slow, but as trickling water slowly carves a rock, your advocacy will make way to friendlier policies for OFWs. Change may not be visible now, but it will pave way for improved rights and policies for future generations. Advocate change now! Inspire the community! Inspire the country! Inspire the world!


To all of you who are far from home and enduring loneliness in far flung places, take heed that you carry home with you in your hearts. You all have my gratitude and respect, and I pray that in due time, you’ll all be home in the arms of those people you love again. I think that OFWs so truly embody Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and [OFWs] —
[OFWs] took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


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Wordless Wednesdays - Backyard Harvest


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hershey's Roses

When we visited Hershey Gardens a couple of weeks ago, the roses reign supreme. There's something special about a rose that never fails to capture my heart and imagination. They're just simply beautiful. The garden was permeated with the most natural, clean, floral, sweet fragrance. While we were there, there was a wedding taking place, and I had a smile on my face thinking how lucky this bride is being wed to the love of her life amongst the beautiful roses.

Nuff said, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity 
under roses and violets and morning dew!
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Sonic Experience

During our trip a couple of weeks ago to Lancaster's outlet shops, we were looking for a place to eat when we happen to pass through Sonic. We've seen Sonic a couple of times, but this is the first time we tried the place. It's the usual fast food place except that you can order from your car.  It was a cool experience.

This is the menu where you can order and pay right at the bottom with a credit card.

It looks like a parking lot.

Our order came quick, and the servers are in roller skates.

The food tasted much, much better than McDonalds.

It was a cool Sonic experience.

Friday, July 16, 2010

5:04 AM, July 16, 2010, DC Area

This morning, I was awaken by a rumbling sound; then the house shook. My mind was suddenly flooded with the memories of the July 16, 1990 destructive earthquake in the northern part of the Philippines. I held my breath and quietly waited for the aftershocks. I was so relieved none came, but my heart was still beating so fast.

I couldn't go back to sleep after that.

Hens And Chicks

Here's one interesting plant I saw at Hershey Gardens. It's called Hens and Chicks.

Hens are the bigger ones and Chicks are the smaller ones

the flower

the flowering Hens

apparently, they die after flowering

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gettysburg Civil War Reenactment

This year, my wish to see the Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Reenactment finally came true. For the July 4th weekend, we packed two lawn chairs, bottles of  water and snacks then headed to the Gettysburg National Military Park. It was so humid and hot that day, but the excitement to watch the reenactment kept us excited and kept the heat stroke at bay.

Since the reenactment doesn't happen until 1 PM, we busied ourselves by visiting the reenactors' tents, the specialty stores that sells all types of civil war memorabilia and genuine collectors' items, drank lemonade, and listened to Gen. Lee's speeches and other notable civil war players.

As I stood that day where the bloodiest battle in American history happened, history became alive.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some Reasons I Love Blogging

I blog because...
  • I love to write and writing keeps me sane. I may not be a good writer but I love having a medium to express my thoughts and ideas. My paragraphs may not be perfectly composed at all times, but they do contain my absolute honesty and they embody what I feel.
  • I make connections and keep my connections. I meet people through my blogs and I am updated with my current friends' whereabouts. Also, through blogging, I met wonderful bloggers whom now I consider friends.
  • It's a journal of my thoughts and my life's ups and downs. (I still keep a real journal on the side though.)
  • I love to share my interests - be it for photography, travel, food and more.
  • It helps with the bills. Becoming a first-time homeowner last year challenged my budgeting skills. Through blogging, I found ways to make a side income. If I'm not blogging to pay bills, I'm blogging to pay for my future trips.
  • It keeps me motivated to be active. Whenever I'm out and doing things, I feel happy that I have something to blog about. My blog keeps me in check to accomplish what I've set out to do.
What about you? Why do you blog?

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Parade Of Flowers

After the Tulips season at the Hershey Gardens, a variety of flowers are now in full bloom at this time of the year. Summer brought to life so many flowers and colors, and here are just a sample of what I saw.

 A bloomin' Monday to all!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Name, Scenery, Signs And Friday Follow

I've passed through Intercourse several times before our July visit, and the town's name fueled my curiosity. Here's what I found online pertaining to the town's name origin.

Formerly known as "Cross Keys" from a noted old tavern, this village was founded in 1754. Much speculation exists concerning the origin of the name of this little country village. There are several explanations, but none really can be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed on the Old Philadelphia Pike, there is a long stretch of race course, and was known as "Entercourse". It is believed that "Entercourse" gradually evolved into "Intercourse" which became the name of the town in 1814.
Another theory concerns two famous roads that crossed here. The Old King's highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (now the Old Philadelphia Pike) ran east and west through the center of the town. The road from Wilmington to Erie intersected in the middle. The joining of these two roads is claimed by some to be the basis for the town "Cross Keys" or eventually "Intercourse".
A final idea comes from the use of language during the early days of the Village. The word "intercourse" was commonly used to describe the "fellowship" and "social interaction and support" shared in the community of faith, which was much a part of a rural village like this one.
No matter how Intercourse got its interesting name, it is a town full of delightful treasures and friendly shopkeepers, nestled amongst scenic Amish farmland. (Source:
 one of the signs that greeted me when we drove into town

 no traffic guarantees for a lovely, smooth ride

 grazing horses

 lovely farm houses

 it's like a sea of lovely placed homes and farms

 it must be lovely to live here, i thought

 typical farm houses

 corn fields seem to be everywhere

here's an Amish buggy ride using a light signal

Below are signs from the specialty shops you can find around town:

any favorites? i love "sassy spoon" because it has a certain ring to it.

Thank goodness it's Friday!