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Monday, August 31, 2009

heating your home efficiently...

In a country where you are lucky to have a couple of months of warm weather, insulating and heating your home is a big thing, comfort and financial wise. Not only does it crunched your financial resources by paying sky-rocketing electric/ gas bill it also cramped your style. At this point in time where every penny counts, all must think of a way on how do we keep comfortable and warm during those cold winter nights.

Under floor heating system is becoming "the best" in providing warmth to your home. Not only is it efficient, amongs other thing, it is economical. Since, the heat comes from the ground which means it will heat up the floor first and will keep the chill away from your feet( hey! you can even walk barefoot and you have to agree with me- the head is the part of our body that requires warming last! ). You don't have to worry about wet bathroom floor after a shower or bath, it dries up so quick that you don't need a mop to do the job, ain't that cool! Good news for the lady of the house, you don't have to worry about those dust collecting on your wall mounted radiators. With these radiant floor heating, you can arrange your furniture without those unsightly wall mounted radiators getting in your way of style.

If you're planning of building your dream home, think of those cosy winter nights, think of radiant floor heating. If your house doesn't have one yet, it's about time you should be thinking of installing one. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. Remember..be smart, be warm!

mussels in ginger broth...

Mussel is commonly known as " the poor man's oyster". It maybe inexpensive but no shellfish is more nutritious than a mussel. It is an excellent source of protein, low in calories and fat, contain numbers of vitamins and minerals and are easily digested.

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands. It is encouraging to concoct a simple yet healthy dish to take advantage of what the sea and its produce offers us.


ginger ( cut in strips, lots of it)
patis/fish sauce or pinch of salt - optional
water 1/2 cup
cooking oil
chili/spring onion

Saute ginger, onion and garlic. Add half glass of water and bring to the boil. Seasoned with of just a pinch salt or fish sauce and pepper. Add mussels and cover. Simmer for five minutes. Finally, add chili and spring onion to give it a bit of a zing.

Serve hot.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do it

I'm a big fan of sunflowers, specially the tall, tall ones. Their bright yellow hues and the way they shoot upward, turning their open faces toward the sun, fascinate me.

For a few weeks now, I have been keeping an eye on this particular sunflower growing outside the basement window. Rog planted it for me the week we brought Teyla home from the hospital. I remember standing out on the deck, all whoozy from the powerful pain meds, watching while Rog dug a hole, dropped a white seed in and gently covered it up with dirt. Amazing how something so tiny can grow into an 8-foot-tall plant in a matter of weeks!

One day last week, I went to check on the plant and realized to my delight that I wasn't the only sunflower fan. Naturally, the honey bees had been keeping their eyes on it, too, and as soon as the flower had unfurled most of its golden petals, they buzzed to action.

I wonder how sunflower nectar tastes? I probably will never know. But I have a feeling it must be pretty tasty because throughout the week, everytime I walked outside to check on the sunflower, one or two or even three bees were constantly gathering nectar from it.

I marveled at how hard the bees worked and how seriously they seemed to take their job. I stood close to the flower and snapped picture after picture, but they were so intent on performing their honey-gathering duties they barely noticed my presence (and if they did, it didn't bother them; they simply toiled on). As I watched the bees, a Bible verse came to mind. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10)."

Even bees know the importance of throwing heart and soul into a task at hand. To achieve success (which, in their case, means an ample supply of honey) they know they have to sweat for it. No dilly-dallying on the job. No half-heartedness or the like. They know a job well done is a job done "with all your might."

We've got another week on our hands, people. A brand new week. Another chance to excel in our various professions. To be the best nurse there ever was ... the most oustanding teacher ... the greatest doctor, student, dentist, counselor, accountant, stay-at-home mom, blogger ... to be the most loving wife or husband:) Whatever professions we represent, let's take to heart this lesson from the bees. When faced with a task, let us give it our all. 100 percent; no more, no less.

Let's seize the task and JUST DO IT.

Warm greetings from Teyla, our very own little bumble bee:)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

up close and personal...

One on one interview with Jeff Johnson.

Jeff Johnson, MSW is our subject for this month. He has provided us with this introduction to begin our interview process.

Jeff Johnson was born and raised in the Midwest both Indiana and Kentucky. Jeff completed his undergraduate work at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. Jeff attended law school during which time he strongly felt a call to become a therapist. Resigning his law school seat he completed his graduate work in Social Work earning an MSW at California State University, Long Beach. Jeff has completed specialty courses in substance abuse and addictions at UCLA and other training programs. Jeff has earned many awards with his work in Co-Occurring Disorders (COD) and speaks regularly at community and state level events teaching and consulting programs on this subject. Last year Jeff was at presenter at the California State COD conference. Jeff has recently started serving as an Advisory Board Member for the UCLA Extension Certificate programs in Alcohol & Drug Counseling and Studies.

TSS: What is a Co-Occurring Disorder? Do you consider this your specialty and do you have any other areas of interest?

Jeff: Co-Occurring Disorders or COD for short is when an individual has a mental health diagnosis and a substance abuse or alcohol diagnosis simultaneously. I specialize in the treatment of this population and sometimes focus on women with children who have a substance abuse problem who are in family reunification programs. I also enjoy working with youth and adults who struggle with sexuality issues, which can lead to addictive behaviors.

TSS: Describe a typical client.

Jeff: The clients I treat have either severe depression with and without psychotic features, schizophrenia, or Bi-Polar disorder, and have addictions with meth, opiates, marijuana, and or alcohol. Many times they have suffered severe sexual abuse, trauma, and have avoided proper treatment medically, mentally and for their addiction.

TSS: It must be difficult listening to problems and conflicts everyday without it affecting you?

Jeff: If everything was viewed as a problem I would need drugs for respite or a tall building to jump off onto my head. These individuals are seeking help, to get their lives back and find a new life. I view each individual as ‘presenting opportunities’ for growth into a new life. This treatment is not to learn how to live with a present lifestyle but to learn a new life—maybe for the first time. I am an opportunity developer—they do all of the work while I cheer them forward. It is beautiful to see one of your clients start college for the first time while hearing voices that are not real, or watch a client apply for a job after years of being depressed and high, and observing self esteem grow in someone when the best name they have ever been called is a “crazy drug addict loser.” I call them all “winners” from the first day I meet them and tell every one of them, “You are worth it.” So, how hard would it be for you to have a job where you watch people ask to get their life back then watch them do it? For me, it is a blessing to be invited to participate as they get their lives back.

TSS: Sometimes I wonder how individuals who have learned this through books can help if they have never been through it themselves? Do you hear this question a lot?

Jeff: Great question. Yes, I hear this question often from clients seeking treatment to other professionals in this business. I have never used drugs or abused alcohol—I have been very lucky. My answer is short and simple, if your doctor has not had a heart attack would you refuse treatment if you were having a heart attack? Do you have a male OB/GYN? Do you ask him how his last childbirth went? Addiction is a disease that has many roads leading to successful recovery. I utilize in my treatment protocols peers in recovery. A doctor friend of mine, who is 25 years clean after 15 years of active using described it well. He said, “When I started my recovery and asked a professional for help it did not matter to me if they had experienced recovery in their lives, I knew I needed to get well and they could help me.” As of today they have not stopped making addicts and alcoholics nor has the prevalence of mental illness diminished. Services are limited, funding for resources is scarce, professionals willing to work with this population are limited, so for those who are looking to get well should be looking at what they are willing to do not who will assist them in it. A therapist should be the smallest part of this process.

TSS: We have heard you are planning on writing a book. Can you tell us about it?

Jeff: Thank you for asking. Yes, actually I am working on research for a book and a workbook. I also want to research a paper—more on that later. My book title hopefully will be, “Spirituality, the Real First Step to Recovery for the person with COD.” Just to keep it simple, in the 12-step recovery process the first step defines the person seeking recovery as being powerless. In the second step they identify a higher power. Throughout the 12-steps a higher power is referred to more than any other item towards recovery, thus, my book subject. Learning symptom management for the mental illness at the same time adds a new dimension to the recovery process. I am also interested in writing a manual on stigma reduction (I teach this material now in recovery homes) and I think it could work in a workbook format. I would like to do a research project with lesbian couples analyzing the effects of how entering into a committed relationship has altered their sex lives. I have a lot to do.

TSS: What motivated you to this line of work and to work with this particular population?

Jeff: This answer is easy---God, my Higher Power! Everyone is wired with special gifts and talents. I prayed to God to allow me to work with the hardest population, the population no one wanted and to give me the gifts to bring healing to this population. God answered my prayers and now I am just following directions from HIM.

TSS: Any final thoughts to our audience?

Jeff: Yes, and thank you for this opportunity. Substance abuse and alcoholism for most is not a choice. Biological pathways in the brain modify themselves, in some more quickly than others, to sustain harmful habits. This disease enters into lives without barriers or boundaries and certainly without regard for consequences. Mental illness has a dual stigma with individuals thinking they are crazy if they have a diagnosis and the general public who agree with them. Once treatment starts it is not easily removed and it takes a lifetime of monitoring—like cancer—to stay its return. Services for individuals with COD are not funded adequately, professionals are not seeking this population to treat, and public perception on recovery is poor. People with COD can and do get their lives back. The public sees individuals in recovery as they struggle, but once stable these same individuals teach your children in school, treating you as a doctor or nurse or secretary, or rule on your case in a courtroom. How do I know this—because they have all been my clients! If you have more than 4 drinks a week please see a professional in this area to discuss if you need to have some concern or e-mail me for a confidential response at wrapcc@yahoo.com. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

TSS: Thank you Jeff for this interview—it is very inspiring and educational.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adventure in Canada

Canada's landscape is one of the most striking in North America. From the scenic rocky mountains, to the peaceful and inspiring lakes, Canada is a great country for travel and outdoor adventure. Its peaceful wilderness are ideal habitat for wildlife.
Whether you are a hiker, a biker, a camper, or just simply would want to relax and enjoy the peacefulness and inspiration of nature and the great outdoors, Canada is truly a beautiful country to visit. It is a big country, bordered in the East by Atlantic Ocean and in the West by Pacific Ocean. Across this two coasts lie an inspiring diverse geography. Whether you want to enjoy the inspiring mountains by hiking, skiing, dog sledding, and fishing in the lakes in Canada, or want to experience its friendly atmosphere in its picturesque cities,
Vancouver, photo courtesy of wikipedia

Canada has so much to offer. Its cities are full of warmth and have an inspiring and lively atmosphere that is balanced with natural beauty from its surrounding mountains and oceans. Canada attracts nature photographers all around the world to capture its inspiring beauty.
What's great with Canada is that one can enjoy the peacefulness of nature and the lively warmth in the city in one day.
Beautiful Downtown Vancouver at Night, photo courtesy of wikitravel

One of Canada's big cities, Vancouver, is well known for its inspiring natural beauty. It is nestled between the coast mountains and the Pacific Ocean. With views of the mountains and water in every turn and step you make, it makes Vancouver one of the most picturesque urban cities in the world. 
Who says one has to travel thousand of miles to enjoy both the mountains and the oceans from a vibrant urban city? In Vancouver, these three worlds mesh wonderfully. It is nice nature is not walled off from civilization so that we won't forget to take care of our natural resources and will continue to have an awareness to preserve its beauty. And in Downtown Vancouver, we can find last minute deals through CheaperthanHotels.com.
Delta Hotel and Suites, Downtown Vancouver
CheaperthanHotels.com is a very popular service for overseas tourists and many of the deals are cheaper than can be obtained by the native Canadians. It is great to be sleeping in one warm cozy bed and take a really nice and warm shower after a day of touring the city or hiking the mountains.
one of city center accommodations in Toronto a tourist can find
Toronto is another beautiful city in Canada that is bordered by the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario.
Toronto's skyline, photo courtesy of wikipedia
Toronto is Canada's economic capital, and is considered one of the top financial centers in the world. A tourist can find last minute deals on city center accommodations in Toronto at a much cheaper rate than hotels at Cheaperthanhotels.com.
Montreal, photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Another vibrant city in Canada to visit is Montreal, Canada's 2nd largest city. A tourist can find Montreal Hotels from $50 per night. One does not really have to spend a lot of money when they travel, if there are budget smart shoppers, there are also budget smart travelers. Next time you plan to travel and enjoy the beautiful and picturesque sceneries in Canada, think about Cheaperthanhotels.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Jersey here i come....

A friend of mine in New Jersey invited us to see her new home, enjoy a few days sight-seeing, deep fishing in the open sea, and relax on the beach for a week get-away. I couldn't go with this invite but took a rain check. Work and school occupies 14 hours of my day, Monday thru Saturday. However, one of our mutual friend accepted the invitation. They drove around New Jersey, New York and Atlantic City doing things i would have enjoyed. I was bummed when they send pictures of them together having a great time - I knew i missed a great opportunity.

I promised my friend as soon as school ends, my family will get on the plane and repeat the same good times with her. Recently, i was day dreaming about this trip. I now have a long list of places i want to visit. The first stop is Monmouth County in New Jersey. It ranks 42nd among the highest income counties in the United States and one of the 10 best place to live.

The list of activities seems endless. However, relaxing on the beach is one of my favorite things to do when I am on vacation. My husband and daughter are the adventurous types, so they leave me on the beach with my book and either go deep sea fishing or fresh water fishing. knowing them like i do, they will end up doing both before we leave.

Our entire family enjoys visiting historic sites. We have lots of choices. Just to name a few we are interested in are Monmouth Battle Field State Park, Church of Presidents and Centenneal Cottage. It is a fun way to spend 7 - 10 days as a family together relaxing.

There are many small communities to check out at Monmouth County and great houses to boast too. If you are house hunting, looking for commercial, retail and high-end residential real estate in Monmouth County, you can check out Bruce Germinsky Realtor. It is a great site for professional and medical class A office space, retail, shopping centers, oceanfront luxury condos, waterfront homes, etc. New Jersey Real Estate. Bruce Germinsky Realtor offers retail leasing, site development, real estate development, it offers a great deal on what's on the market for you.

Elegant Housing Units you can find at Monmouth County

Monmouth County unit available at Bruce Germinsky Realtor
I can hardly wait to send my pictures back after this trip. Why do daydreams has to end?

by chay

carpal tunnel what?

A couple of years before i got pregnant, i had this strange sensation on my right hand --numbness, pins and needles or alternately, a dull pain. I never took any noticed of it then since it doesn't happen everyday. I simply ignored it.

However, during pregnancy and after wards, the symptoms persisted and became worst. My right hand appeared to be weak and couldn't hold even my mug of coffee. I routinely woke in the middle of the night and had to stand and sway my arm in all direction to relieved the pain ( when one is fast asleep, we are unaware of the position of our wrist which aggravates the symptoms). At the time, i knew what was causing it---carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel is a small tunnel in your wrist to which tendons that supports movement of your fingers and a nerve, median nerve, which control sensation passes through.When you have this condition, the tunnel shrink or swell and put pressure on the nerve and the tendons causing the symptoms. No one really knows what causes this condition. However, there are factors that can increased the risk of having one --- diabetis, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, any damaged or fracture to your wrist, repetitive motion of the hand and pregnancy.

Treatment varies from conservative to invasive. Massage and cold compress may provide temporary relief. Wearing splint and cortico-steroid injection might do the job. If the symptoms persists and progress, a surgical intervention may be necessary.

I tried splint which afforded relief only at night time as need to take it off when i'm at work. I needed more than just a night relief, i was desperate for day ease as well.

I went for series of test. The only option left for me is surgery. Anything that will make my right hand resumed its function was fine by me.

I had a surgical procedure, carpal tunnel decompression, done under local anesthetic. It involved cutting ligament or opening the roof of the tunnel to make room for the nerve. It isn't a long operation, it normally takes 10-15 minutes. The worst part is when they start turning on the tourniquet to stop blood flowing into my right hand . Other than that, all went well. I had my hand bandaged for 2/3 weeks which i find quite frustrating as i am a right handed person.

note: some people finds this video disturbing. watch at your own risk

this article does not intend to diagnose. it is to share useful information of author's experiences as an operating room nurse/perioperative nurse.

image taken from public domain......www. wristpainavice.co.uk

Friday, August 21, 2009


if i could wipe the tears falling down your cheeks
in its place casts diamonds to adorn your lovely face
if i can erase the memories that haunts you day and night
replace them with happiness we once used to have

if i can ask the wind to sing you a lullaby
to find comfort in its cradle on cold and painful nights
if i could command the rainbow to paint you in the sky
take away the loneliness that was etched in your eyes

if i am bade forever, i wish it to end
to live in infinity- a burden i cannot bear
the yearning never ends and the pain remains
knowing i can reach you but never can possess

if i can offer you the moon and its stars
alas! it's not for me to promise things i cannot have
i can only speak of what's in my heart
and it is to love you until its beating stops.


image taken from public domain...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Story Behind A Song

When I traveled 1987 on Luzon in the mountains I met this Finnish guy in the bus from Sagada to Bontoc. During our conversations, I asked him why he wanted to visit the Philippines. He didn’t say because of beaches or rice terraces, but had a quite different story.

In Finland he had heard that song from Z.A. “ANAK” in the radio. And he found out from which country it is. So he said to himself: ” Where they make beautiful music like this must be a beautiful country”. That’s why he decided to visit the Philippines and he told me, he was right. - I agreed.

*this is my husband’s story way back years when he first time visited Philippines.I can still remember tears in his eyes as he told me this story, and it touches me because I’m a Filipino. We play this song everytime we miss Home… Philippines

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Transported by Music

Today, I got home a bit tired. Classes will officially start this Monday, but we, the teachers, have been reporting to work since yesterday. Sometimes, I feel as if the usual day in the classroom with the students is better than sitting in a long meeting like what we did today. It didn’t help that there was overcast and later part of the day it even rained. A certain part of me was happy –I am saved from watering the plants today –it is a must here in Houston during summer –it’s really hot and dry, it’s been awhile without rain. With the brainstorming, it was practically “brain drain” for most of us. While I “try” to listen to my Chairperson and co-teachers plan for, and discuss the coming school year, my mind kept wandering to the beach –peaceful, sunny, with an orchestra of waves playing in its crescendo. Geez, the thought brought my mind to my latest sheet music Seashore Collection #2. I enjoy playing piano, a recreation that really helps me unwind.

When I came home today, I took a quick shower, had my tea and sat on my piano stool, pulled out my sheet music and was lost in playing. My latest favorites are the Seashore Collection which I found online and was able to download for free. Whoa, in minutes, I was transported to a sunny beach with the sound of waves that teases the seagulls. I downloaded several of the Seashore collection and look forward to playing it whenever I need to relax.

My playing depends greatly on my moods. When there’s a small party in my house, I give my friends a boogie or play the blues. There are times when I want my music to serve as my prayer -I play worship songs and hymns. I don’t spend much on expensive sheet music, there are a lot of free sheet music that can be found online and most times, it comes with piano tips and tutorials. It isn’t difficult to play the piano, if you are interested to read music; there are several lessons on sight reading and improvisation available online. Playing the piano is enjoyable and it greatly relaxes me. Tomorrow, I might be stuck in another long and tedious brainstorming, but it’s OK, I’ve got several music sheets that will transport me to ♪♫ la la land!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Christine is Back!

Christine, my daughter (19), is back from her long vacation in the Philippines. She had the most amazing time with her friends and family. She has not been to the Philippines for four years and it was quite an experience for her to spend time with friends from high school and our family. Some of her friends are married and have kids of their own while others are pursuing college degrees and will graduate next year. Although she misses her friends in the Philippines, she is happy to be back home in the US. She is able to sleep in her own room, stay up late and sleep in late, watch movies after movies on our television, play with her dog and get on the internet. Next week reality sets and her summer of leisure ends when her college classes begin.

Christine - third from the left. This was taken in the province of Tagaytay, Philippines

Her friends enjoying gift bags from her – chocolates, perfume, lipstick, etc.
Last night, for the first time since she returned we had the chance to sit together and watch several movies on our HBO network channel. We talked about her vacation experiences and laughed at funny movie scenes. Since she left, I haven't had the chance to sit and enjoy movies, so last night was an amazing time with her. Jeff and Christine love watching basketball and football together - they are sports watching buddies and since I do not understand a thing about putting a football into a basket for 6 points on a rain soaked court I just make popcorn for them! LOL. Thankfully, we have Direct TV at home and the package we have has the DVR and has over 200 channels.
We love having all the cool features from digital television.  Every time we move we retain our Direct TV Service.  Direct TV has free installation and so far the service is the lowest rate we have found in the market. In this economy every dime saved is important. Saving on our Direct TV System is just another cost efficient way to spend time together as a family.
You will love the DVR service too. It lets you pause or rewind live TV shows if you have to get more popcorn, go to the bathroom, or if you have teenagers-stop the show to answer that very important text message from BFF? - I love that feature! Working late? DVR lets you record your favorite show/game without discs or tapes then watch it whenever you want.
Even Cottonball enjoys watching show with us
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