Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Very Colorful Christmas Exhibit

Waiting for the show to start: Chai a.k.a. Ms. Spain, Zsazsa a.k.a. Ms. Holland, Joi a.k.a. Ms. Philippines, Ate Laling a.k.a. Ms. China & me a.k.a. Ms. Pakistan (they ran out of India sashes)


It's a small world: Ms. USA, Ms. Holland, Ms. Pakistan, Ms. Mexico & Ms. Japan

Me & Ate Pining: Getting ready to join the exhibit

By the Christmas Tree: My husband (Mr. Australia) & I

It was time to judge the best Christmas decorations and we joined our exhibit by dressing up as dolls from around the world. I got to wear the sari our friend Shalini gave me from India. Our Disney theme, specifically the It's a Small World portion came alive with our "dolls" and kids dressed as Disney characters set up. And then the train (the actual kiddie train), Thomas came driving in - and all the children lined up around 3 or so times to ride the train through all the other exhibits.

All the exhibits were beautiful, it was a complete light show with different Christmas themes. Everyone who was there enjoyed the exhibits, it was nice to just walk around with my husband and watch the light show.

And because people enjoyed it so much, it was announced that it will be an annual competition from now on.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birding & Concert Binoculars

My husband and I love to go to concerts and shows - we found it to be a common practice for people to bring their own binoculars in concerts even if they're not seated very far away. My husband bought a pair of binoculars for this very purpose.

I helped him choose one with a powerful magnification, but was not very bulky. Of course, we had to consider durability as well.

In February of this year, my husband and I adopted six beautiful parakeets. We have now developed a great fascination for birds, especially the colorful ones you find in the wild.

This is where our binoculars come in handy as well. They have found a new purpose as birding binoculars. Birds are beautiful creatures that are fun to watch, now our pet birds are easy to watch because they're right in our home. But watching the gracefulness of a bird gliding in the wind up close is a gift possible only through a birding binoculars. In the outdoors, you can watch without disturbing the birds gathering and see first hand their beautiful feathers, the shape of their beaks and the grandeur of their stance - without ever needing to threaten them. You can enjoy them in their natural habitat, watching what they do when they are not wary of humans.

It's very relaxing for me when I watch my pet parakeets just playing and interacting with each other. Watching birds in the wild are amazing, especially if you come upon the majestic eagle or the colorful parrots that pass through noisily chirping away.

If you're thinking of getting your own binoculars, OpticsPlanet.net, has a wide array of binoculars to fit your need and they have great prices too. They also have very helpful product information to help you choose the binocular you need. And for those who are fans of the stars, they also have telescopes available for the budding astronomer in your family.

This post is sponsored by OpticsPlanet.net, please see our disclosure agreement for more information about sponsored posts.

An Indian Sari: The YouTube Video

My friend, Shalini, gave me an Indian Sari about two or so years ago after I told her I wanted to collect Asian national costumes. She was going to show me how to put it on, but had to rush off to an appointment before she could.

Another friend who is from Bangladesh tried to show me how, but I didn't have the sari when she was teaching me so I didn't quite get what she taught me.

Our Christmas theme is "It's a Small World" from Disney and because we did not have time to put dolls up, we will be the living dolls tonight dressed in costumes from around the world. The perfect time to use my beautiful sari - I thought.

Ok, now how to wear it... Thankfully YouTube had this very detailed and easy to follow instructional video. I practiced twice and hopefully I get it done easily tonight as well.

Don't you just love how much you can learn online? I would have had no easy way of knowing how to wear a sari if it weren't for this video. YouTube just saved my day!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Movie Night: Twilight

My sister and a few of my friends have been raving about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series saying that it has replaced Harry Potter in its popularity. The kids-to-mom favorite has gone from growing up wizard stories to vampire love stories.

We watched the movie last night and despite of all the negative reviews I've read, I enjoyed watching Twilight. It was predominantly a love story, but it was also a film about a family - a family of vampires with great moral values. They stick together and protect each other. They accepted Isabella (whose name I'm partial to because it's the baby name we chose when we have a baby girl) into their family because Edward loves her. They respected Edward's decision not to turn Bella into a vampire and they supported him 100%. I think today's modern family can learn a thing or two from this rather unique family of immortals.

If you know you will be living forever, it would be nice to have a family you love spending time with to be there for you.

I thought the story was simpler than the Harry Potter series, to which it is being compared to. It is a story about love between two very different people. It is a story about family and never leaving anyone behind.

Overall, I like it. I would take my kids to see it - if I had kids. Two thumbs up for me!


Happy Thanksgiving From Our Table to Yours

(Left to Right) Arnold, Maya, Mama Marie & Erick

(Left to Right) Arnold, Maya, Mama Marie & Me

My husband Erick & Me



Here are some pictures of me & my husband after our big thanksgiving dinner. My husband cooked hawaiian style ham, lengua, rotiserrie chicken with lemon grass and blanched asparagus and sweet corn. We bought rellenong bangus, cassava cake and kutsinta from the Filipino store near where we live. Our cousins, Maya & Arnold brought sugar-free raspberry pie. Yummy!


We had a great time. Hope you had as much fun as we did this thanskgiving day! Happy Thanksgiving - or should I say Black Friday shopping!




Wednesday, November 26, 2008

World AIDS Day: Blog About It!

This morning I received an invitation to Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day on December 1, 2008 - and I would like to extend the same invitation to my readers who also have their own blog.  Help bring awareness to millions of blog readers about this dreaded disease.  

What you write about is entirely up to you.  But you can go to the Blogger Unite Resource page for information or check out the World AIDS Campaign website.

Let's help make the world a better place - make a difference by blogging about AIDS.  Give the gift of awareness this December 1st.

Passing on Black Friday

It's the day before Thanksgiving and I haven't even made up my mind about what dessert to make let alone tomorrow's menu.  But since my husband is the cook in our family, he will probably take care of the main meal so the menu is not really a big worry for me.

With the economy the way it is, I'm really not thinking about shopping much.  I have everything I need at home - although when you look at the prices of electronics in the ads it is very tempting to wake up at daybreak and shop.

Black Friday, the official start of the Christmas shopping season - I got a head start on that one, I already bought my youngest sister's Christmas present yesterday (her only request when I told her I was going to send out some gifts to them).  

It is the day when retailers go from red ink to black in their accounting books - or at least that is the hope.  The malls are still empty, everyone is being cautious with their money these days.

The good news is the price of gas is under $2.00 now!  And president-elect, Obama is looking at that $400 billion fund paid to individuals to not produce food.  So if the market gets flooded with produce then the price of food will go down - and it will bring relief to families that have been forced to take pay cuts.

I'm not sure I will participate in the mad dash to the sales this Friday.  I think I will just stay home and put up Christmas decorations - thankful that I don't have to move any time soon.  I have quite settled into my home now and don't really want to go anywhere, especially not this Christmas season.  And if I change my mind about the deals - there is always Cyber Monday...

To those who are braving the sales on Friday, have fun and good luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weekend Decorating Group Project

Eating with Chai - it's what LA loves to do!

My conspirators - oops, I mean co-decorators

My Christmas Tree for the Year 2008

Some photos from our weekend decorating the north side of the Culture & Arts Center in Ontario, California.  Since we are looking to move at the beginning of next year, this may be the only Christmas tree I will decorate this year:(  

I'm a Christmas tree girl - I used to plan way in advance what the theme of our tree will be at home and go ornament-shopping with my mom.  When I got married I treated my in-laws to their first ever fresh tree here in the US for Christmas, my father-in-law loved having the tree around.

Hopefully by next year there will be little ones who can appreciate the tree in our home - wherever that may be then...

Enjoy the pictures and hope you get a few inspirations for your own tree this Christmas!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Making Sense of Numeric Errors & Port Numbers


Have you ever had that experience where you are happily working on your computer and out pops an error with a long string of numbers? Usually unless it kills my machine I think nothing of it, but when I'm at work and can't proceed from point A to B because of the pesky error message I have no choice but to look the error message up. I try to look it up to save time so that when I go to MIS I can tell them, "...this was the error and this is what it means, now what do I do?"

I love working on my computer, but I'm not a systems administrator type of person - I want to log into my machine and start coding or blogging without worrying about why it is running.

PC Library is a great resource for finding out about that error message. For example if you get an error 109 from your computer - you're left wondering what it is. Go to PC Library and you'll find that it is called ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE and is caused by the pipe having ended. A pipe is a section of shared memory that processes use for communicating. PC Library also gives you a recommendation as to what to do next. So at least you know what you're dealing with.

It is also a great resource for learning about ports. Some error messages would tell you that your computer is having a problem with a certain port. Go to the Port section of the website and it will give you a table of port numbers in your computer. For example Port 80 is used for the
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and PC Library gives you additional information about how the port is used by your computer.

So next time you're bogged down by a strange numeric error, you know where to go!

This post is sponsored by the PC Library, please click here for our disclosure policy.


Life Imitating Art : Numb3rs' Pre-roll


My love for books written by Robin Cook has witnessed two cases of life imitating art through the years. One of them is Vector where he wrote about an anthrax scare that actually became reality a few years back. There was really nothing the author can do because the book had already been published but Numb3rs on CBS' case was different.

Last Friday's episode of Numb3rs was shot before the train collision that occured in Chatsworth, California last September 12 and David Krumholtz who plays the sexy mathematician, Charlie Eppes, did a pre-roll explanation that some of the scenes may be hard to watch for victims and families of the real collision. I appreciated the sensitivity of the show's producers to include this pre-roll. We cannot avoid the fact that sometimes life does imitate our creative work and we must always be conscious of our viewers' feelings so as not to add to the emotional trauma already brought about by the catastrophic incident.

Thank you for being responsible enough to have that segment of Numb3rs last night. You did good!



Photo Credit: Numb3r's CBS website

Supernatural's Jensen Ackles Matures On Screen

Supernatural is one of my husband's favorite TV shows. When we have to go out on a Thursday night he never forgets to record the episode.

The show is about two brothers whose mother was killed by a demon while the younger was still a baby. That was when their father started hunting demons.

Dean Winchester - played by Jensen Ackles - had to raise his younger brother, Sam - played by Jared Padalecki - by himself. The two grow up and have two separate lives, Sam gets into college - apparently the smarter of the two and the one gifted by a demon with supernatural powers of his own.

Dean becomes a hunter like their dad. When their dad goes missing Dean asks for Sam's help to search for their dad and hunt demons along the way. They've been together ever since except for the four months when Dean died and went to hell - bargaining for Sam's life in exchange for his.

An angel brought him out of hell, saying that he can help them. They want him to convince Sam to stop using his powers to exorcise demons from people leaving the host alive. Sam was working with a demon named Ruby when the brothers were reunited. Ruby led them to Anna who apparently was a fallen angel.

In last week's season finale, Dean falls for the angel. They make up a plan to let the demons and angels running after them fight it out while they get Anna back her grace and retrieve Sam's lost demon-killing knife from the inquisitor demon Allistair - who Dean apparently knew well from hell.

But the highlight of the episode was not the complex twist and turns the season introduced, but the huge improvement in Jensen Ackles acting prowess. While telling his brother that he had become Allistair's ally in hell, he cried first with a tear dropping from one eye only then both. Dean Winchester's character is usually sarcastic and funny, he never goes into heavy drama but he was quite good at it.

And of the two brothers, you know I always tend to go for the bad boy! Kudos to the writers of this TV phenomenon! You did a great job and kept us hooked until the end. Here's looking forward to more mind-boggling shows next season. Keep up the great work!

Photo Credit: Quizilla

Friday, November 21, 2008

Opening Doors With Blogging

Remember my source for the Family Portraits tip I posted yesterday?  My favorite blog, Geeksugar, just featured it today - Digital Photography School - this time for taking great food photos.  How cool is that?  Usually they feature something and I find it interesting and post my review of the website here.  Today it was the other way around!

The web truly has a way of amazing me.  Just yesterday I got a note/comment from one of the entrepreneurs I featured here.  Wow!  Without the web, I would never have been able to talk to that person.

I had people who develop the web applications I write about personally thank me for my review.  I've had a publisher contact me about reviewing some of their books.  I've been paid for some of my written work.  And it was all made possible by this powerful publishing tool they call a blog.

I just want to say thank you for reading my thoughts.  I hope you learn something here or find some inspiration while you're here.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blocking & Other Family Portrait Tips

When I was in school, I used to direct stage plays.  I learned about blocking, the importance of lighting and coaxing expression from my actors - and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Faced with a portraits project, I want to read up and find tips on how to make our pictures stand out.  So of course I google around for tips and here's what I found.

  1. Schedule the photo shoot when the kids are the happiest - they are the hardest to coax out of a bad mood.
  2. Advise the family to coordinate - but not necessarily wear the same thing.
  3. Patterns are for backgrounds and not your subject - advise your family to avoid wearing distracting patterns.
  4. Go casual, this is a matter of preference, but a relaxed family seems a lot more interesting to me than a stiff and very formal shot.  I think this helps with the kids' mood as well, if their clothes aren't itchy, they will be able to smile more.
  5. Make your portraits more interesting by changing the angle of your shots.  Climb up a chair and shoot from up high (this usually helps when you have a big group) or shoot from the ground up.
  6. Just because you're taking a picture of them doesn't mean your subjects have to look at you all the time.  Have them look off somewhere outside your frame or have them look at each other.  This will make for a more interesting composition.
  7. Placing subjects off center is not a bad thing - it creates a bit of an artistic flare to your photographs.
  8. Candid shots make for good portraits too - especially with kids.  Just be ready to click away when your little subjects get comfortable - they are adorable by nature, most don't need you to coach them.
  9. Add a prop for more interest.  If your subject is musically inclined take a picture of him with his guitar or drum set.  You can use the prop to bring out more of your subject's personality in the portrait.
  10. Take a series of shots - as much as your camera will allow and let your client have a lot more choices - they'll appreciate it.
  11. Create more interest with different poses.
So there you have it - I will test all these tips out soon and will add feedback to this post later.  Feel free to post more tips here in the comments section. 


Sources:
10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits by Digital Photography School

Gmail Makeover: A Design Challenge

Maybe I'm a little bit design-challenged or maybe I haven't gotten used to seeing an image on the banner of my clean email inbox - but I'm not sure I like themes on my Gmail.

One thing I have always liked about Google is how they keep their design uncluttered - even if the white makes their page quite bright I didn't really mind.

Do you like the Gmail makeover?  Leave your comments here please.

Recession-Proof Your Career with Degree Hound


With the unemployment rate at an all-time high and a lot of people realizing that job security is a myth - now is a great time to study.


I have a lot of friends who have been laid off and are now studying to have the skills to work in an industry that is still growing or has not been affected by the recession. A lot of them turn to the healthcare industry studying to be a pulmonary tech, a medical coder or a medical assistant because there is still a high demand for jobs like these.


For those who are still employed and love what they're doing - like me - most want to improve or add to their skill set. Although the big companies in Silicon Valley are laying off employees, I believe that what I do has become a need for companies in any industry. An advanced degree and training in technologies I don't know, but are in my line of work is a great way to make yourself valuable to your company. Although people say when you have enough experience, you can make do without an education in your career - I believe the opposite. Education is important, you may have all the experience in a field of expertise, but if you don't have the foundation - the basic training - your growth is slow and you are handicapped when it comes to learning more.


Now when you are working full time and doing two or three side projects, your first road block would probably be - where do I find the time to look for schools? Degree Hound has you covered - find the industry you're interested in and it will give you a list of schools to request information about the course you want. Where will you find the time to study - you ask? Degree Hound leads you to find online degrees you can finish from the comforts of your own home. Imagine earning your Masters or PhD while still exceling in your job? Yes, you can!


Any more objections? In this time of recession, we have to do all we can to provide for our families. We can't do this if no one will hire us. What you know, what you can do and what you have done will make for a great resume. Find helpful articles and tips on Degree Hound and jumpstart your career today.


Happy dream-career hunting! And remember, don't hesitate to invest in yourself, you are definitely worth it.




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Balsamiq Mockups: Blogging the Success

Balsamiq Mockups


As a web developer a.k.a. programmer, when I get a project that's very exciting to build.  I usually do not like spending too much time mocking it up.  My brain heads straight to data flow diagrams and database design.

But most clients/bosses are visual.  They want to know how the application you're building looks like.  Although I rarely draw the mockup in paper, I usually use either Visio or Photoshop - either takes a lot of time and sometimes my finished mockups leave much to be desired.

Balsamiq.com gets rid of this problem by making mockup drawing easier on your PC.  At a retail price of $79, in its five months of existence it has drawn $100,000 in sales.  Do you sense another modern day fairy tale without fairies coming?

Peldi Guilizzoni is a one-man bootstrapping operation, he developed Balsamiq and his sales figures are quite impressive.  The unique thing about Peldi is he blogs about his company's progress so candidly.  He includes revenue charts, costs and profit margins so openly in his company's blog - it's really fascinating to read and a great case study for developers thinking about starting their own business.

So there you go, our inspiring story of the day!  Don't these success stories just make you want to go out and code!  Thank you for the inspiration, Peldi.  Here's a shout out to Mariah who is helping out her husband with designs - good luck and all the best!

Sugar Widget: Gift Ideas for Your 'lil Techies

I was reading Geeksugar's gift guide and today she had a collection of what I personally think is the funnest gifts to shop for - the little ones!






Now don't you wish we had these types of toys when we were growing up? Growing up geek! How much more creative would you have become if you had learned to take videos when you were four years old, hmmm?


Just thought I'd share some gift ideas for that little techie in your life! By the way, great job on this widget, Team Sugar! Keep up the good work.

California Burning: Wildfires Rage Again


Photos from the 60 Freeway of the Wildfires that raged in Orange County last weekend.


We were going to have dinner with friends last Saturday when we saw this thick cloud of smoke, not far from where we live. Wildfires burned through a home in Yorba Linda and an apartment complex in Anaheim Hills. The 5, 57 and 91 freeways were closed sometime during the day. On our way home we passed through a freeway where the fire moved onto the asphalt, we could see flying embers as we drove home.


Up until last night when I got off from work, you could still smell the smoke from Garden Grove.


Please be careful when you travel and please pray that the authorities be able to control these wildfires all over California completely. Stay safe and enjoy your day!

Kitchen Experiments: My First Pie

OC Pinay's Strawberry Banana Cream Pie - Nov 16, 2008

I found this No Bake Strawberry Cream Pie recipe in Domino Mag and modified it a little, making it even simpler to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (about 4 pints), tops removed, plus 4 strawberries, reserved
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 graham-cracker Keebler pie crust
  • 1 tub strawberry cool whip

Preparation:

  1. Puree 1 lb fresh strawberries and 3 large bananas - add a little whole milk into the blender make this task easier
  2. Whisk milk, sugar and cornstarch into a heavy bottom sauce pan until dissolved - note that the heavy bottom of the pan will prevent your ingredients from burning later
  3. Add the strawberry & banana puree plus the lemon juice into the sauce pan mixture
  4. Cook on high heat, whisking often until the mixture is thick and bubbling - about 7 minutes
  5. Pour strawberry banana filling into prepared crust and let cool completely - more or less 30 minutes
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Just before serving scoop cool whip on top of pie - you can also use a decorating tip to do this for presentation - and top with the reserved strawberries.

Comments from my personal chef (a.k.a. my husband): "It's good! Very very good!"

I think I can use this pie for Thanksgiving this year. It's mostly fruit after all and is sweet enough for even kids to enjoy! Happy baking! And remember, never be afraid to do it yourself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Modern Day Fairytale - Without the Fairies

There once was a software designer for a big bank who created a simple game in his spare time.  He went to Apple and they made it available for download in the iPhone app store in July for $5.  The entrepreneurial software designer earned $250,000 in the first two months.   Now he has resigned from his bank job, owns his own company and has 5 games currently in development.  Wow!  Now that's a fairytale you want to tell your kids about - only it has no fairies just one brilliant idea and some creative resourcefulness.

That is the real life story of Steve Demeter, 29 years old, living in San Francisco Bay Area and owner of Demiforce.  His game is called Trism and to score points you have to align 3 or more triangles of the same color in a row.  If you've ever played Bejeweled (which are the only types of games I have the patience to play), the game is pretty much as simple as that.  And he says 50 year old ladies email him saying how much they love the game - ok, so my online gaming skills are comparable to a baby boomer's - but hey, that's a big market!

RPG and these heavy graphics games takes thousands of dollars to develop.  But these simple, brain age type games that even the older (and richer) generation can enjoy can be developed in a developer's off hours for pennies.  Wow!

So next time you see your child playing his video game instead of doing homework.  Ask him what he likes about the game first then send him off to learn the maths and logic he needs to develop one just as profitable as that in the future.

And hey, if you have the programming skills - you may want to try developing one yourself!  A startup based on the principle of bootstrapping - something not capital intensive to produce, but with huge potential profits.  

Great job, Steve!  You're definitely an inspiration to me.  To read more about Steve Demeter's story, go to CNN's Developer strikes it rich with iPhone Game article.  A nice happy ending to brighten up our day!

Missing the Exit & Finding A Christmas Store

On our way home last night, we missed our exit because of some not-so-courteous drivers and had to take the next exit off the freeway.  Right off the exit was a Big Lots store.  
My husband and I used to scan the aisles here for great deals - somewhere along the way I forgot about this place.  We went in and the place was crammed full of Christmas decorations.  Now take note that I promised myself I would not buy any more christmas ornaments this year.

But I saw this Glitter glow window decoration and just had to have one.  I bought a wreath design, but I couldn't find a picture, it has the same color palette as this gift and it only costs $6.  Our neighbor across the street already has a lighted christmas tree, which you can see the outline of in their window - now I can have a lighted christmas ornament of my own (ack, christmas-jones-ing the neighbors, how awful)!

While there I also found a few toys for the toy drive I'm donating to.  It was a great little side trip - all thanks to that not-so-courteous driver who made us miss our exit.  Thank you, mystery driver!  Hope you had as fun of an evening as we did!

DIY Digital Portraits

Christmas is almost here and for most Filipino families I know in the US, it's time for photo greeting cards!  We are producing these for a fundraising event and I thought I'd read up on how to take digital portraits.

The photo on the left is a shot of my photographer friend's daughter.  My friend made her smile and I took the shot.  I had my camera on automatic, but it still produced the desired effect of blurring the background and focusing on the subject.  Let the camera take all the credit, right?

An article in lifehacker.com gives a few pointers on taking great shots:
  1. You know all those knobs and buttons in your camera?  They have a purpose!


    • Use your camera's portrait mode - this will automatically adjust settings to be the best for photographing people.
    • Zoom all the way in - sharpening the image of your subject even more, plus the artistic close up works for a more professional-looking shot.

    • Force the flash to go off - this will remove or minimize the shadows on your subject's face, making for a more enhanced photo.


  2. It's all about the lighting!

    • Go outside - indoor light is usually not sufficient for good photography.

    • Ever heard of the not against the light rule? Follow that, but not for where you stand, but where your subject stands. A squinting subject doesn't really make a great shot. Put the sun behind or to the side of your subject.

    • Avoid having the sun directly hit your lens or you might see strange objects in your shot.

    • Early morning and late afternoon shots make the best pictures.




  3. Compose your shot!

    • Frame your shot as tight as you can so you get your subjects head and maybe their shoulders - this is where you creativity comes in.

    • Do not frame the shot by adjusting the zoom. Zoom all the way in then take a step back if you need to take the shot.

    • Hold steady and push the shutter release button half way down (my husband always tells me to do this, I find it easier to do with the D90 than my D50 somehow). Your camera will adjust focus and exposure let it do so then if you have the perfect balance of everything push all the way down.

    • Use your people skills to make your subject smile or put them into the mood they want in the photograph - almost like directing a scene in a play but freezing in just one moment, one expression - and click!


Now you're all set!  This was in lifehacker.com's article, but it is also my personal rule when taking pictures.  Take as many shots as you can, the more shots you have, the better chance you have of getting that perfect picture you want!  The photo above took four takes to get right.  The photo below of another friend's daughter was pure luck. I know... I have beautiful subjects and that helps too!

Have fun portrait shooting!  And never be afraid of doing it yourself.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Tab Tear Away on Chrome


Although I miss some of the add-ons from Firefox, I have continued to use Google's chrome browser because I like the clean layout and the faster loading of pages. I read this morning that Firefox 3.1 will have the tab tear away feature of Chrome and Safari built into the version.


Tab tear away? What is that? - I thought to myself. The article described Chrome's feature where you can drag a tab off of the open window and it will open into a whole other window - I took a screenshot while I was dragging it off. See how the tab containing the OC Pinay blog is sort of translucent? Once you release the mouse button, it will become opaque again and will be housed in a new browser window. Cool, huh? And you can drag it back into the original window if you so choose.


I must confess I didn't know about the feature until now. With my tendency to just fill my window with tabs, this could come in handy sometime. I go by a when I need it I will learn how to do it philosophy, but these little features quite honestly amaze me when I figure them out.


What are your favorite browser features? Describe them by leaving a comment here.

Gift Idea: The Tech Mommy Bag


Just because I have yet to have a baby, this gift idea for moms to be seems so adorable to me! It's a laptop and diaper bag. It costs around $19.00 and can be bought from Instyle Rosie Lee Spice


Like I said, I don't have a baby yet so I don't really know how blogging/programming will work together with changing diapers, but isn't this cool? I think this would be a great gift for your new-mommy techie friends who work or play on their laptops constantly.


Happy holiday gift-shopping! If you have more gift ideas, please feel free to email me about them so I can feature them here.

A Tribute to Emma Agnew

I found this in my google alert for video this morning. It is a tribute to 20-year-old Emma Agnew of Christchurch, New Zealand to mark the anniversary of her death last year on November 15.



My eldest stepdaughter is also deaf like Emma Agnew, she just turned 19 years old this year. New Zealand has a lot of great programs for the deaf and my stepdaughter has excelled and thrived in these programs - possibly the same programs Emma and her friends enjoy in Christchurch. It breaks my heart to think of someone so young and talented taken away from her parents in such a brutal fashion. Please pray for Ms. Agnew and the people whose lives she touched.



This video of New Zealand artist Brooke Fraser's song Faithful was made by her deaf-community friends and family. The video was shot in Christchurch's Sumner Beach, one of Emma's favourite places. The song is a perfect tribute.





The man found guilty of raping and killing Emma Agnew will be sentenced on December 12.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Capitalizing on Christmas


Do you enjoy decorating your home for christmas? Have your friends often complimented you for how lovely your home looks during the holidays? Did you know that you can offer this as a service to earn extra income this holiday season?


Many contractors and home stagers offer this service, but you can be a little more creative and resourceful and beat them by offering a better price to your clients. We were looking into having an area of our church done and a professional contractor gave us an $8,000 quote - and he gets to keep all the lights he puts up afterwards, whose purchase is probably incorporated into his asking price already. You can find a number of these companies online.


Looking for a business idea? Need a little cash for the holidays? Have some decorating prowess? Then this might be a good fit for you! Good luck and hope this helps!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reduce Debt to Zero



It is in the news everyday, people having trouble paying bills. A friend of mine told me once, that the economy of the US is built on debt and with the credit crunch everybody is feeling the pinch. People here usually borrow towards things they can't usually pay cash for, burying themselves deeper and deeper into debt. A lot of times the best solution is just to leave your credit cards at home and forget that they exist. If you can't pay for the item in cash, don't buy it. But for people who have already accumulated a ton of credit card debts, just not using their credit cards will not solve the problem.

There are four alternatives when you're buried in unsecured debt, which include credit card, medical loans and personal loans. (1) Credit counseling is where you go to a company and they try to reduce the interest rate and fees on your debt, generally allowing you to get out of debt in five years. (2) Debt consolidation is one of the most popular solutions people resort to, but it doesn't actually reduce what you owe, it just secures it with collateral like your home or your car. (3) One of the worst ways to get out of debt in my mind is bankruptcy, it will rid you of some of your debt but will taint your credit for ten years. (4) When you're living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet, most people just pay the minimum they owe on their credit cards every month - with a $10,000 loan you will probably end up paying $20,000-$40,000 in 10-20 years to pay down what you owe using this method.

The alternatives don't really sound so motivating, do they? Freedom Debt Relief offers another option - debt reduction. Also known as debt negotiation or debt settlement aims to reduce your debt by as much as 50%, they negotiate to lower the actual amount you owe so that you can pay it off in as little as 2-3 years.

In these tough times, getting rid of those credit card bills makes a big difference in your monthly budget. Trust me, I know the feeling, I breathe a sigh of relief every time a credit card statement comes to me with a zero in the balance due. Imagine how it would feel like to get rid of your big debts!

But don't take my word for it, find more information on how to be debt-free at http://www.freedomdebtrelief.com/ - I learned a lot in a couple of minutes of reading through the information on the site. It is a website that gives one hope in tough times - being debt-free is not an impossible task, you just need to know your options and go with the best one for you.





Friday, November 14, 2008

The President on YouTube

An article on the Washington Post entitled The YouTube Presidency caught my eye today. It states that President-elect Barack Obama will record a weekly democratic address on radio and video to be distributed on YouTube. The four-minute long report will continue the communication link the new president has opened up while campaigning.
I think President Obama has witnessed the power of web 2.0 and I think he is headed in the right direction in terms of reaching his constituents in a more personal avenue. This report has been compared to President Roosevelt's fireside chats.


A president must always have the pulse of his constituents and there are a million or so ways of doing that online. If President Obama can harness the power of technology to communicate with the people, he may be able to unite America as no one has ever done before.


Imagine a think tank website where everyone can submit their ideas on improving the state of the nation. A president who hears something going wrong in one state can go online and contact the residents of the states asking them to verify his information. A president who makes his constituents feel that they are a part of the decision-making process - that he is willing to listen to solutions and update people of the progress of his reign. A president who can awaken the patriotism of the apathetic by connecting to them and allowing them to get involved. Wow!


If President Obama can do that - then I think there's a brighter future for all of us here in America. God bless the president. God bless America.

Diaper Cakes: Gift or Business Idea

My coworker had a baby shower earlier at lunch and her department had made diaper cakes for centerpieces.  I had watched a demonstration of how they made these on TV before, but didn't realize how many people actually sell these online.

This particularly cute one-layer diaper cake for baby girls is available at babyshowerstuff.com for $19.99 - the least expensive one I've seen so far.  I think the company making these is based in Wisconsin.  They use the same Charlie-Brown-look-alike doll for all their diaper cakes, they just have variations on ribbons and colors in their catalog.  For the price, I think this is pretty cute.


A lot of designs I've seen incorporate some sort of stuffed animal in their diaper cakes then decorate them with goodies for the baby.  The photo on the right is from diapercakewalk.com, sold for $49.95 - one of their simplest and least expensive designs.  But still eye-catching, don't you agree?  Wouldn't this look nice with all the usual pink or blue wrapped gifts in a baby shower?

I think it would make a great gift to all babies that still wear diapers.  Want to try your hand at making these diaper cakes?  wikiHow.com has a page on How to Make a Diaper Cake
- these are just the basics though, I think with these you can be as creative as you like!  Imagine the smiles from your favorite mommies when they get something like this from you this holiday season.


Like I said, you can be as creative as you like!  This jungle theme diaper cake is from lilbabycakes.com with cakes from $34.00 and up.  I think this is great for the Christmas season, you can buy your diapers and baby stuff in bulk and you have 3 or so gifts from one of those bulk diaper packs from Costco.

It's also a great business idea especially if you know a lot of mommies with little ones.  There maybe an economic pinch, but babies will be born regardless of that.  I think the moms with young ones are a great target market when thinking of a startup in this economy.

Diaper cakes for the holidays.  Happy crafting!

Mortgage Protection for Your Family

Many of our friends say that now is a good time to buy a home because the prices of houses are low, especially the foreclosed ones. I have always had it in my mind that the best time to buy a home would be when my income or my husband's (either one by itself) would be enough to cover the home's mortgage. Just in case something happens to one of us, the one left behind will not have any problems keeping our home.


Especially if we have children, it is very important to me to have a roof over my family's heads. Also I would not want to burden my family with mortgage loans if something should ever happen to me. I want them to be able to live the same if not a better quality of life when I am gone.


My husband and I have cheap term life insurance for final expenses and debts I don't want to leave behind. We have medical insurance just in case we get sick. We have car insurance to take care of our car. Did you know that there is an insurance that pays for your home in case something happens to you?


This type of insurance is called mortgage insurance or mortgage protection insurance and it's offered by NAA Life. If something happens to me, my loved ones would have enough to worry about - I don't want them to have to worry about debt too. This is definitely an investment worth looking into.


And yes, they also have term life insurance if you're looking. Ask them about the coverage that's right for you. Protect your family.


Sponsored by NAA Life


The Spirit of Thanksgiving


I think a lot of us have been feeling the economic crunch the past few months and now that the holidays are here we are probably wondering how to get through it on our limited budgets. Some people may even think of not celebrating at all!


Our very wise staff pastor shared a demonstration with us using chocolates and water. Through these tough times, we should still be thankful. Thank God for our many blessings - blessings that are more than we deserve. Fill your heart with thankfulness, in his demonstration he filled a cup with chocolates and though hard times may come at you (pushes and shoves) what will overflow is kindness and grace (the chocolates). If you fill your heart with unthankfulness (water), when tough times come (push and shoves) then you're all wet - what overflows is anger and resentment.


Although we are all fretting for our jobs, our homes, the things we need to survive - we must trust God. We must let God's love flow from us out to the world.


Last weekend while renting a DVD, a couple of boy scouts came up to us, asking for donations of canned goods for the homeless. And I felt my heart ache for these people who have to spend the night in the streets in this cold weather. And I thought to myself, this is what will make my holidays special - giving to those who are less fortunate than we are. And so we bought some canned foods and donated.


That same week, a letter came from Ronald McDonald House charities asking for unwrapped toys to give away this Christmas. An email at work informed me of a food and toy drive here as well. I am still looking for a great place to buy toys at wholesale prices. Please if you know of a place here in the Orange County/Los Angeles/San Bernardino areas - leave me a comment and I'll check it out. I have a very limited budget, but I want to make it work out so I can share my blessings with others. Thank you in advance for your help and may the spirit of giving bless your heart today!

Thanksgiving Party Tips from Celebrations.com


As an event planner, I'm always on the look out for great party ideas. One of my favorite party tasks is the table scape whose crowning glory is the centerpiece. When I think of thanksgiving, I envision the beautiful colors of fall and a bountiful harvest. I found a party tip that incorporated veggies with flowers for your table scape from Celebrations.com. In this photo they used butternut squash, but I will probably switch it out with the regular green-colored squash making a richer base for my orange and yellow-colored flowers. The earthy tones come naturally to the green squash, carve pretty edges on them before putting the flowers in and it will surely be superb!



They even have recipes! I particularly like the mini apple pies. Thanksgiving is a time for pies and I had always bought pies from the bakeshops before. But I think I'm going to try baking a few of these mini pies this year. I have a great oven just for the job and Celebrations.com's recipe doesn't look too hard. I might even get creative and switch out the apples for other fruits. This simple recipes are perfect for a sometime-baker like me.


Celebrations.com is a great website for Holiday Party Ideas. They have lots of articles on planning your next party. You can even share your personal party tips with the community. They even have an insider's blog that lets me take a peek at my favorite celebrities' parties straight from the professional event planners they hire. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This is the perfect time to check Celebrations.com out! Happy brainstorming!



Sponsored by Celebrations.com



Image File Formats: PNG vs JPG


I think this is the first time I've ever used a PNG file format image in my blog. Usually I pick between a jpg and a gif option. I know that for photos, it's always best to use jpg. If you want some animation in your image, gif is usually the format to go with.


At work, the very talented company who made our designs gave us images in PNG format. Not one to question geniuses, I thought nothing of it. Until I came across this illustration from Digital Inspiration, which was featured in Geeksugar, one of my favorite reads.


It is a simplified explanation of when to use which format. Use PNG when saving screenshots (which I do a lot in jpg - now I know better!) because it retains the quality to display text clearly. Illustrations like comics, etc. are best displayed using PNG as well. Photos are best displayed with jpg retaining enough quality without needing a very large file size.


I thought it was a great tip! Good job!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day



Happy Veteran's Day to all the men and women who fought for their country! Your contribution to the freedom we experience today is greatly appreciated. Here is another great Google graphic for your enjoyment.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mourning the Loss of a Great Author


One of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton, died on November 4 - losing his battle with cancer. He leaves behind an amazing collection of literary masterpieces.
I listed a few of my favorites. He opened my mind to a world of possibilities, the perils of science combined with men's greed. I will miss his work.




Please pray with me for the family of Michael Crichton. May he rest in peace and may his family find the strength to let go while keeping his memory alive in their hearts.




If you have never read his work, please check out one of the links here or borrow a book from your local library. Only after you have read his work, will you understand the enormous loss the literary world has suffered with his passing.

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