Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tasty Treat Tuesday - It takes two to tango

I am sorry to disappoint you if you think after reading this that Jeff and I have started learning how to dance the Tango or have taken ballroom dancing.  I am just trying to say that when it comes to baking cookies, I prefer to bake with Jeff as my assistant or maybe even reverse the role.  This past weekend we tried a new recipe for a soft cookie.  It's very healthy because it uses oats.  The recipe is from Giada and it's called Cranberry Oats cookies.
Aside from oats, it has cranberry, pecan and white chocolate chips.  Although Jeff prefers his favorite chocolate chip cookies made by my MIL, he does not mind helping me bake cookies.
I like them soft so he knows exactly when to take them out of the oven.  He also does a great job lining them on the cookie sheet using an ice cream scooper.  Whenever we pick a day to do some baking, we try to have at least two different treats.  The other favorite is called the Apple Bar cookie.  This is the second time we are using this recipe because we both love it.  Now let me share the photo so you can get motivated to bake some treats for yourself.  These recipes (food network) are both so easy but oooh so yummy.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Mystery Monday - Let me try again

Actually it is not a mystery what happened to those beautiful assortment of flowers that Jeff planted last weekend.  We bought the flowers for our front yard on Saturday.  Jeff planted them on Sunday.  I enjoyed looking at them on Monday and appreciated all his work.  Guess what happened to Tuesday.  Well, all the flowers were gone and all was left was a little bit of stems and the roots.  By the way, they (meaning the squirrels) also ate all the different herb plants that Jeff planted on the same day.  This weekend we were out and about and saw the flower sale at Orchard supply.  They were so pretty and so we thought we would try again or I should say Jeff will try again.  The annoying part is that it costs to buy these starters and Jeff works very hard to make the front yard look beautiful.  We try not to buy the ones that we know the squirrels like to eat but we can't seem to figure it out as they seem to just eat them all.  Anyway I am showing you the assortment that we got and will keep you posted on their growth or the mystery behind the disappearance of these flowers.  I know it's too harsh but we are truly beginning to hate those squirrels.

There are six different types of flowers with six starter each.

This Geranium has lived for over 3 years because it's indoors.
I'm trying to get some roots for these baby spider plant and eventually place in a hanging planter.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sadness Sunday - Losing a loved one

Even after six years and nine months I still feel some sadness each and every Sunday.  It was a Sunday when my son passed away.  It was also the 29th of the month.  For the last few months it seems like we get more and more news of our friend's parent passing away.  A couple of days ago, I received an email from one of my BFF that her mother passed away.  Last year when I visited my friend Sandy in Canada, I was lucky to spend a few moments with Mary.  She still remembered me and we had a nice chat while she ate her lunch.  That was only last September.  It is difficult to write about death but sometimes it helps relieve some of the pain that comes with losing someone so close and so dear to our hearts.  Someone from the place that I volunteer also lost a parent.  His father passed away a couple of weeks ago.  I spoke to him briefly and he still feels very sad because he was close to his dad and it was his first time losing someone that close.  I still remember how I felt when they told me that my father passed away.  That was almost 19 years ago.  I was too late.  I had to rebook my flight but during the night, my dad was gone.  I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.  A very good friend of ours did a special painting in pastel.  He is a very talented man who was very generous with his time.  Today I would like to share with you the amazing work he has done.  He does not paint just anyone or anything, it has to be special and close to the heart.  No words can express how much this painting means to me. 


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Salvadoran Saturday - Pupusas anyone?

Once a week I take my MIL to her weekly errands.  We usually start mid morning with whatever is on the list.  If for some reason there is nothing urgent, we would just pick a place to walk or do some sort of window shopping.  Of course we would have to stop for lunch which is usually an adventure.  Before she met me I am sure she did not like going to certain restaurants because she was not to thrilled about trying new stuff.  Now a days she is very open to trying whatever it is that I would pick.  She also had a lot of experience when my cousins stayed with her and they would take her everywhere and try all new fusion of food.
This past week we decided to try the El Salvadoran restaurant that I have been searching and finally found it.  It's a smaller family owned restaurant but the food is authentic.  We stop after the lunch hour crowd which was perfect.  Because we were not familiar with their menu, it took us to make our choice.  One thing I know for sure is that I will be coming back to try their desserts.  Here's what we had for lunch.  Unfortunately we did not try the pupusas which is what they are famous for.  

Bass filet with vegetables, rice beans and salad.

Fried chicken breast with the same sides as above.
Pupusería Los Dubon - Closeup of the Pupusas - Campbell, CA, United States
Pupusas - there were so many different filling it was hard to choose, maybe next time.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Favorite Friday - One of many

There's only one friend that I can think of when it comes to fun cars.  He's definitely a collector of classic cars.  I don't really know how many he has but I have seen several different classics and of course latest one.  His wife currently drive a Cadillac SUV and previously to that she drove a blue mustang.  Last week he took out his 1966 Corvair Corsa.  I like checking out special classic car and listening to the story behind it.  Anyway, I took some photos of this particular one and I believe it's one of his favorite.  I remember he also bought an old Corvair van with bright orange paint.  There's one other car that I saw only from a photo but also looks cool and in excellent condition.  


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tireless Thursday - Just keep going

Sometimes my friends ask me if I ever get tired of golf or tennis or volunteering or just being retired.  A few of my friends who retired actually ended up going back to work part time.  There are days when I think I have extra time and have nothing special to do that I think maybe I should find a part time or full time job.  But after a few hours of reasoning out, I ended up saying no to myself.  Living in a nice area where the weather is temperate, it's not hard to be outdoors a lot.  When I wake up in the morning and I feel good then I take advantage of that.  The best benefit of being retired is that you can make your own schedule.  I have to make sure that I enjoy each and everyday of whatever it is I am doing. Today's a good way to start enjoying your day whatever it is that you like doing.  In case you have not started making plans about how to enjoy life, today might be the perfect day.  Go out there and be happy.  Spend time with family and friends as much as you can.  And if you are feeling healthy and have lots of energy, then just keep going because you never know when you might not feel at your best.  

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Springlike Sunday - He bought me flowers

Remember Neil Diamond's song " you don't bring me flowers"?  Although Jeff doesn't really bring me flowers except maybe a couple of times when we were still dating,  he actually buys flowering plants for our garden.  Technically he bought them and planted them for me so I can enjoy them bloom in our garden.  Last Friday was the first of spring and all the starter plants/flowers are on sale.  We decided to pick a few to add to the front yard garden.  Some of the plants have died and some are looking very sickly.  Hopefully the ones we got will thrive and blooms just in time for summer.  Actually I don't get involve in the planting nor the weeding, but I like looking at them when they start to bloom.  I helped him pick the type of flowering plants and maybe a little bit on where to plant them.  There were some other plants that needed to be transferred to a bigger pots which I was able to do.  Here's the latest selection of flowers that will be in our front yard this weekend.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Selection Saturday - Mix greens

It was time to harvest again some of the vegetables from Jeff's garden.  Although this time it's just mixed greens, it was still good to use fresh pick leaves for our salads.  Since Jeff was busy planting an assortment of vegetables for this season, I decided to do the harvesting.  After picking the leaves, I washed them thoroughly, spin them and organize them by type in their own plastic bag.  They will be ready to eat anytime we want to have some salad.  All I need is to add some other vegetables like carrots, green pepper, dried cranberries and maybe some nuts.  Having some fresh greens taste a lot better than store bought.  I can't hardly wait until all the other vegetables grow.  


Friday, March 20, 2015

Freaking Friday - I lost it?

Losing someone is the worst feeling ever.  What is the second worst feeling? Losing your phone.  This would never happen a long time ago because we did not have cell phone.  Now a days it's like your best friend.  All of the things you do and need are on the small little electronic item.  So what was freaky today.  Well, it all began when I got home from being out with my friend Katrina.  We had a nice leisurely lunch and then some window and mini shopping.  The last store we stopped I recall taking my phone out to check my message.  Shortly after I remember being at the cashier paying my items.  Then I took my friend home and I drove straight home.  I unpacked my bag and decided to watch the recorded tennis match.  Not even a few minutes I thought of turning the sound on my phone just in case I ended up napping.  I got my purse and there was no phone.  OMG, panic attack.  I took my purse and drove to the last store thinking it would be there.  There was no return or no sign of my phone.  I was sick to my stomach all the way on my drive home.  When I got home Jeff met me at the door, I told him "I lost my phone", I started crying and could not stop.  I thought of calling Katrina to see if she would remember anything.  I went to the kitchen to make the call.  Lo and behold, I saw my phone case sitting in the dining table.  OMG, again.  I guess I don't remember taking my phone out immediately after I got home.  A couple of hours of panic attack and stress had a happy ending.  My blood sugar result was so high as a result of my freaking out.  The funny thing is that I did not even check the house before leaving or thinking of call my own number in case it was somewhere around the home.  There is a lesson learned here.  I am not a person that loses a lot of item on a regular basis.  I have reunited with my phone, embraced it and promise not to part with it again.  At the end of the day, it's only a material thing that can be replaced, so technically it's not the worst feeling.  Only losing someone you love is the worst feeling ever and ever.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Whimsical Wednesday - It's the happiest place

Whether is Disneyland or Disneyworld, everyone who has visited these resorts claims that it's the happiest place on earth.  It's at least 37 years ago since I have been to Disneyland but I still remember that ride where you see all the different dolls of the world.  I think it's called "It's a small world".  Although now a days there are many more exciting rides which I probably would not try but just the whole resort is filled with characters that are from certain fairy tells or whatever movie it might have been.  Now that I live in California and Disneyland is only six or so hours away, I almost want to go and see all the latest attraction they have.  The only thing that is holding me back is the amount of children around, the long line ups, and whatever it is that has infected certain areas.  There is also that Aulani resort in Hawaii that is so interesting everytime they show the commercial for it.  But again it's for family with children.  It's not that I don't like children, it's just that my idea of a vacation is having fun with adults around.  This means that I wouldn't be able to experience all the good things about Aulani.  So where is the second happiest place on earth?  I might say that where I live is the second happiest.  The perfect weather, an amazing life without too many stresses and of course the ability to enjoy retirement.  All the day to day things that I enjoy is already a blessing and I don't take it for granted.  I guess I am saying that I don't have to go somewhere to be happy.  Where would you go to find that happiest place on earth?  

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Mouth-watering Monday - My sister's baking again

Every now and then I would get an email from my sister showing the latest goodies she has been making.  There was a time that she could not do much baking as she was taking care of her health.  Now a days, I will get a photo at least once a week of whatever it is that she has just made.  I wish she was visiting me because all the stuff she has been making are all mouth watering food.  Instead of describing them, you wan just see it for yourself and I am sure you will be wishing she was your sister.  Not only she is a great baker, she's a great cook.

Ensemada - a filipino sweet bun with sugar topping

Her version of Hawaiian King buns

She made this the last time she was visiting - Pineapple Upsidedown cake.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sushi Sunday - I had to try it again

Finally I gave in to my craving for Sushi again.  After my episodes of dizziness and nausea, I could not eat any seafood, which I love.  Each time I pass by this particular restaurant where I had lunch with my golf buddies, it became more and more obvious that I need to try again.  Last week I finally stop at the restaurant and ordered the Sushi Lunch special.  Since I was bringing it home, I knew that nothing will be wasted because I will just eat what I can and save the rest for another meal.  The fish was so fresh and the rest of the meal was just yummy.  At least now I know that I enjoy them again and I can't wait to try some other Sushi place that will be opening up soon at the new shopping plaza near our home.  Here's the lunch special.  There were so many other great choices but they were even bigger plate.

This lunch was only $ 12

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Surprise Saturday - My daughter is amazing

While having breakfast with Jeff on Thursday morning, we heard the mail lady knock to advice us there is a package.  Since I saw it was an Amazon box, I just assumed it was for Jeff.  Then Jeff showed it to me and saw that it was from my daughter.  I got so excited because I was not aware she was sending me anything because I don't remember asking for anything.  She really knows how to keep it a secret so it's a surprise.  I tried that several times but I get so excited, I ended up telling her about the package I am sending.  We opened the box and what a nice surprise.  We receive some sweet things and something that Jeff and I had been looking for.  A couple of years ago, my daughter gave Jeff this special kitchen utensils to be used when he makes his scrambled eggs and ham for breakfast.  Sometimes last year, Jeff was using it and the phone rang, answered it and he forgot about the utensil in the pot and it all melted.  He felt so bad because it was my daughter's gift and it was his favorite.  Now Jeff is all happy that he has his favorite tool and he promise to take care of it.  So check out all the sweet things from my sweet daughter.  What a nice surprise!

Wunderbar is my favorite and Smarties is for Jeff and we will share the Kinder surprise.

Jeff's new kitchen tool for making his breakfast.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Faulty Friday - Same price different quality

Once a week we try to do something that we love doing as part of our entertainment or date night.  It could be bowling, billards or going out with couple friends.  The good part of shooting pool is that we just need two people, so that is Jeff and I.  Although sometimes we play for free at our friends home G and J because they have one at their rec room.  But we can't really keep asking can we come over and shoot pool.  That is why we have started going to this place where they have a few tables but it's really a bowling place.  They charge $15 per hour.  The last time we were there we noticed that the tables were dirty, there were so many marks as if someone took a knife and just slashed areas on both sides of the table.  We also couldn't find the triangle and chalks.  Their cue sticks were all bent and the tips are bald.
Although Jeff and I have our own cue stick so that was not an issue.  Even the chalk since I have my own as well as the file cube to smooth the tip.  You would think I am a pool shark because I have my own supplies in a nice suede case which I made many moons ago.  Just before we left the table, Jeff noticed that one of the pockets had some money left, so I guess it was our lucky day.  We walked out because we couldn't see paying that much for such crappy tables and service.  The other place we checked is called Cuetopia.  It's a real pool hall with many tables that are clean and the condition of the tables were excellent.  The service was great too, they bring your drink if you wish to have one.  They play great music that is not too loud.  The balls are very new and shiny.  Their cue sticks are clean and not all bent and in good condition.  Their price, $7.50 per person per hour.  Guess what, it's the same as that other place.  Now we are happy to have found a place that we can go to shoot pool.  During the week their rates are half the price between 12-4 pm.  Only problem is who am I going to play against. I guess if I am truly board, I can practice.  Then I might get too good and beat Jeff.  Did I ever tell you the story about the time during a new year's eve party at Jeff's friends home? They had a pool table and the rule was who ever wins stays on the table and keeps playing until some beats that person.  I stayed in the table the whole time as no one could beat me.  That was the night that Jeff proposed. After midnight, one guy kept asking me to play again because I beat him and he could not accept it.  I beat him two more times.  Then it was time for us to go home. 

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This is how shiny the balls were at Cuetopia.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Taxing Thursday - It's time to prepare

It's that time of the year again to complete the tax return form.  I have been doing my own taxes except maybe for a couple of years when my son did it for me.  Being here I am actually having to file two for each country.  The other one is very simple and straight forward and the other one it's filed jointly as a couple.  So basically I don't do anything except to give some numbers.  If I am getting a refund, I like to file early.  If I have to pay I would most likely wait until the beginning of April to submit.  This year I will probably pay but hopefully not too much.  I'm sorry this post is getting a little too boring.  Anyway, when you are finish reading this post, you will be in the mood to do your own taxes or if not get all the papers ready to bring to your tax person.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wellness Wednesday - Taking care of yourself

When someone reaches the age of 90 without having a lot of health issues, one would think that the person really did a great job looking after themselves.  Aside from maybe the hearing is not perfect and maybe unable to walk for hours, I think the person is doing great.
In fact the person still volunteers at the Senior's center serving lunch to other seniors.  You can see her sometime in her garden pulling weeds.  Other days you would see her walking to the post office to mail letters or cards for her friends or family.  Although she loves sweets, she does not have Diabetes.  She's raised three children, babysat her grandson and took care of her husband during the last few years of his illness.  It would be interesting to actually ask what her secret is.  During the first couple of years, I use to pick her up and my MIL to go to our volunteer work at the Senior's centre.  She did as much work as I did and she was happy. Jeff could still remember the time he saw them walking for miles and offered a ride home, they both refused and continued walking.  Of course this was at least 25 years ago, but at the age 90 and still able to walk a couple of blocks each way is amazing.  Her name is Sylvia and I want to be like her when I grow old.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Mofongo

As weather gets warmer and nicer, we try to enjoy the outdoors.  On the way home from our road trip this past Saturday, we stop by for some dinner in the downtown of Santa Rosa, California.  This is the home of Guy Fieri of tripple D.  Although we did not eat at one of his restaurants (we have been to at least three of them), we were in their heart of downtown.  We wanted to try the Russian River Brewing Company but when we drove by the line up was at least a half a block.  We decided to just park somewhere and walk around to see where it takes us.  The first street corner we cross we saw a place called El Coqui - a Puerto Rican cuisine.  As soon as we entered we were immediately seated, pure luck.  Anyway there were so many things in the menu I wanted to try but of course I can only eat a small amount.
Jeff found a nice prawns in garlic dinner and I opted to try a couple of appetizers.  One of them is called Mofongo.  I have seen this dish featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  So I had to try it.  It's plantain mashed up and deep fried.  Inside there's a surprise and I chose the chicharones (crispy pork rind).  The other item was their empanadilla.  Both were so delicious and bursting with flavor.  The only issue was that it was very heavy and my stomach felt so full and I had a mild cramp all the way home.  I guess it was too rich for my tummy.


Garlic shrimp with black beans, yellow rice and sweet plantain.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Memories Monday - Celebrating Life

For the past few months we were receiving sad news about our friend's mother or father or a relative passing away.  One of my followers was wondering why I haven't posted any for a week.  It's a bit difficult to be so joyful and full of life when your friends are going through their grieving process.  The one thing that is comforting to them is that their loved one is not in pain.  Some of them have chosen to have a Celebration of Life instead of the traditional viewing/funeral.  They say that it comes in waves of three but since October, I have received at least ten notices of losing someone.  It's a little sad when you start buying sympathy cards in bulk and finding out you needed more.  Sometimes you start running out of things to write, comforting words are taking longer to write.  For those of you who have experienced these type of loss, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Life is short- that seems to be the phrase that keeps being used.  Enjoy life is another one.  I am very lucky to have retired early to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I am enjoying life to the fullest and every moment is cherished.  We will never forget our loved ones that has gone before us.  We will remember the memories. 
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Showers Sunday - I can't believe it's hail

First day of March and the forecast for the next few days - chance of showers and or rain.  It started yesterday when the clouds became really dark.  We were out and about and by the time we got home, it started to rain hard.  There were some thunder and lightning.  And then Jeff called me to check out what was falling in the backyard.  At first I didn't want to believe it but I can hear it.  It was actually hailing.  Not big but enough to make a particular sound when it hits the deck.  Of course I took a picture to prove it.  I'm sure most of my friends in Canada will be making fun of this.  It's so small you will have to zoom in to really see it.  But the fact that it is hail, it means that the temperature is cold to produce frozen rain.  It's hail.

Can you see it?  It's that white tiny spot somewhere in the middle of the photo.