Olympic Medal Count Since the New Millennium

The London 2012 games may be over, but I feel that I’m still suffering from a serious case of Olympics fever.  My Olympics fanaticism has shifted to conjuring up images of Michael Phelps swimming in a pool of medals…

Medals, it seems, are what the Olympics are all about.  Even though the Olympic committee’s official line is “it doesn’t matter who wins, its taking part that counts” we have to admit that, no matter where we are from, we still do want our respective countries to win.  Surely, the athletes themselves are even more passionate about it than us.  Since the beginning of the second millennia there have been a total of four Olympic games, all boasting of improved drug screenings, increased attendance and more countries getting involved in both men and women’s sports.

For the first three Olympic games of the new millennium, the three big boys of Olympic sports were all present at the top of the medal table. Russia, China and The USA have been haggling for the top spot, with Russia unfortunately only reaching second and the top place being traded between China and America.

Other Strong contenders among the competing nations have been Australia, who managed an impressive fourth place when they hosted the games in 2000 and again in 2004. The Germans have also been fighting to keep themselves in the top six with excellent results, in fact in the last 12 years they have managed to come 6th twice in the medal tables and 5th twice- all in all an impressive performance.

Great Britain seemed to make full use of the home advantage, as 2012 was their best ever gold medal haul.  Although the Russians won more medals than the Island nation, not enough of them were gold and they were forced to concede third place to the Brits.

Korea and Japan who weren’t so prominent in the early Sydney Olympics have proven themselves to be forces to reckon with as they have slowly been creeping their way up the medal table.

More than the number of competing nations, what’s astounding is the amount of support the participants get as they strive to smash Olympic and world records.  It’s amazing how countries are unified by such events.

I wonder who bookies like Ladbrokes will name as favourites in the future, as the competition gets hotter and the old titans face bigger challenges.






Finding the Best Charity

It can be difficult to choose a charity, but there are certain things that can be done to help you to make a wise decision. When you choose a charity wisely, you will not only be benefiting others who are in need, you will also be benefiting yourself in certain ways. This is true, regardless of whether you are going to be writing a check, doing a boat donation, vehicle donation, or donating any other item within the home. What are some things that need to be considered so that you can make the most of the charity that you choose?

One thing that should be considered is the way that they are going to distribute the money. This is important for any type of charity, but it is especially important for those that are taking larger items. For example, when an organization takes yacht donations, they are going to need to sell that yacht and distribute the money to the charities (Source: Yacht Donations by Angel For Hope). You want to make sure that they are going to handle the footwork and anything else that needs to be done for the money to be distributed. Once they take the item off of your hands, you should be stress-free in the process. Of course, there is the need for you to consider the tax advantage of donating to the charity. In some cases, they will have their own accountants that will provide you with the paperwork that you can use on your taxes at the end of the year. That will help you to know that you are using it properly.

Dinner is on me – Gong Bao Chicken

I’m sure you have all heard of Gong Bao Chicken or Kung Pao Chicken as it commonly known. I’m not going to into the history of it or where it came from, because all you really need to know is that it tastes really good. I came across a recipe they use at this restaurant called red hot buffet and thought – hey, let’s give it a go…so here goes nothing or more like the ingredients

Step 1: Marinade

  • 600 g Diced chicken breast
  • 30 g Yellow chilli beans
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Maggi liquid seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons cooking wine
  • A pinch of salt to taste (only if needed)

Method: Combine these ingredients and let it marinate in the fridge for 2 hours prior to preparing.

Step 2: Sauce

  • 1 Teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 50 g chopped ginger
  • 100 g chopped garlic
  • 20 g Dried red chilli
  • 100 g Yellow chilli bean sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons Maggi seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chinese Cooking wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1 Litre Chicken stock

Method: Sautee the ginger and the garlic in a wok pan and add the dried red chilli. Stir this for a minute and then add all the other ingredients. Let this cook with the chicken stock for at least 7 minutes. Put aside in another container once done.

Step 3: Final Touches

  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 100 g mixed bell peppers [diced]
  • 100 g white onions [diced]
  • 50 g spring onions [diced]
  • 100 g potato starch [sifted]
  • 50 g Roasted peanuts
  • 50 g Roast Cashew nuts
  • 6 Dried red chillies
  • 2 Shoots of Coriander leaves

Method: Heat up the oil in your wok pan and fry all the pre-marinated chicken. Drain off all the excess oil once you have fried up all your chicken and then add the mixed bell peppers, spring onion and onion to the mix. Sautee these ingredients together for approximately one minute.

Pour the sauce over your chicken and add potato starch to thicken. Add roasted peanuts, cashew, chilli and coriander leaves as garnish to finish off your dish.

Best served with steamed Jasmin rice.

Let me know how it tastes

Recipe and picture courtesy of Red Hot World Buffet

Flood, Sweat and Tears

I never really understood the difference between a monsoon rain, a tropical depression and a typhoon.  They all are the same to me, because of the devastation they always leave behind.

For the past 3 or 4 days, we here in the Philippines have been battered by a series of heavy rains.  The downpour has caused so much destruction.

Lives were lost, people drowned, some lost their homes.  An entire family was buried alive from a landslide.  Families are staying on their rooftops, as flood waters have entered their houses.  Kids and babies are shivering in the harsh cold.

I can go on and on with accounts of the aftermath of the deluge, but it pains me.  Yes, it breaks my heart to see people suffering helplessly.

Stirred, not shaken.  That’s how I’d describe the spirit of the Fililpino people.  In the light of disaster, these victims are holding their heads up high.

I am also amazed at the heroism going on.  Rescue volunteers are putting their lives on the line just to save people they barely know.  It’s one thing to risk your live for the ones you love, and another thing to do that to total strangers.  That, clearly, is a manifestation of the purest form of love.

If you’re from the US and would like to make a tax-deductible donation, click HERE  (Please select “Task Force Noah: Operation Habagat” as your beneficiary.)

If you’re in the Philippines or other countries, click HERE.  (Please indicate in the comments section that you want your donation to go to Task Force Noah: Operation Habagat.)

A little will go a long way… Let’s virtually hold hands and help those in need.



Drink-ware for Moms- and Kids- On the Go

Any prolific paparazzi- including the one who caught Kristen Stewart making out with that director- would know that I can’t start the day without a piping hot cup of coffee.  A professional stalker wouldn’t have to second guess that I always carry with me a sweet and creamy cuppa as I board the car on my way to work.

Okay, maybe there is no stalker or paparazzi following my every move, but this much is true: I love my coffee.  I like it nice and hot, and I carry my coffee with me wherever I go.  So, when an old friend told me about the Bubba Brands line of mugs and tumblers, I became keenly interested and excited.

They are an undisputed icon in the thermal drinkware industry- and for good measure.  They boast of using BPA free foam insulation with dual-walled polyurethane to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.

Bubba Brands has been around for a long time now, but I haven’t really considered checking out their products until now (I did need some convincing from my friend!).   I hopped on over to ShopBUBBA which happens to be the official online store of Bubba Brands.

I like this one in particular.  Other than the fact that it comes in a stylish purple shade, it is sure to keep my coffee hot for hours.  It’s sure to last me through those lengthy meetings.  I also like that the tapered bottom will fit in the cup holder inside my car.  The handle is ergonomically designed too.

Of course, how can I forget my little princess?  This one, I want to get for my daughter.  It’s big enough to hold the cold water to see her through the entire school day.  It’s also something we can take with us whenever we go out.  I do prefer to bring our own water when we eat out, for instance.  I’m pretty sure she’ll love the color too.

There’s just so many Bubba tumblers and sports bottles to choose from for people on the go.  Whether you’re a serious sports buff or a busy mom like me, you’re sure to find something to suit you.

Psychic Readings: The Way to a Harmonious Home

Back in high school, I remember making it a morning habit to quickly jump to the entertainment section of the daily newspaper and skim through my daily horoscope.  I wasn’t one to really “live by the horoscope”.  It was all for entertainment value.

I have to admit though, that over the years, I have grown an interest in the field of psychics, fortune tellers, and the like.  My college boyfriend probably is to blame for this piqued curiosity.  Whenever we’d grow tired of going to the movies, we’d see a fortune teller and have our fortunes told- just for fun.

Now that I’m a mom, I learned that psychic readings can help iron out problems at the home front.  Short of appearing on the Dr. Phil show to hash out your domestic disputes, you can dig deep into your family problems and bring some positive energy back into your home with the help of an expert- not psycho- psychic.

What happens is the psychic interprets patterns in yours and your family members’ lives.  This can be done using tarot cards or talking to the psychic about past experiences.  A skilled psychic will be able to accurately analyze the meaning behind tarot cards which the family member has chosen.  You will then be more able to understand why your spouse or children act a certain way, and devise plans of action which work towards a more peaceful relationship with them.

When communication lines have broken down in the family, getting a psychic reading from a trustworthy psychic could be a worthwhile alternate road to take.

Purchasing a New Home

A little over a week ago, we celebrated Memorial Day- and National Doughnut Day a few days after, if I may add.  We bestowed honor on the unsung heroes who gave up their lives for the freedom of others.  If you or someone you know used to, or still is in the military service, you deserve no less than the same honor.  One of the benefits our military veterans enjoy is the VA loan.

Did you know that you could refinance your military VA loan for an interest rate that is fixed and much lower than your previous one?  There are a lot of reasons why you should take advantage of this opportunity right now, even without considering the amount that you could potentially save in the long run. With a VA loan, you could finance a new home that costs up to $179,000 and yet pay the same low interest rate as when you first applied for the loan. In the long run, this will save you hundreds in installments and mortgage.

Besides that, the loan is also available to bad credit and poor credit VA applicants. If you’ve had a streak of bad financial luck these recent times, this is a helpful link to help you stay out of debt and remain in your home.

In order to qualify for the loan, you’ll need to fill out the required documentations and provide a loan checklist before submitting your application. It is always a good practice to make sure that you’ve adhered strictly to the guidelines so that your loan is approved speedily. There is an entire list that you’ll need to refer to, and these consists of documents such as an entire month’s worth of pay stubs, the W-2’s of the last 2 years, contact numbers and addresses of all employers as well as all landlords. You’ll also need to submit your bank statements as well as documentations to support your funds to close.

Do remember that you could always head on over to their official website for more information.


Are You Having a Bad (Online) Face Day?

It takes nearly a lifetime to build your reputation online, but it takes only minutes for someone to destroy all of that.  Scary but true.  With the advent of social networking sites, blogs, and other online forums, it has become almost effortless to ruin someone else’s reputation.  With a few clicks of the mouse, you can make lives miserable.

This is where online reputation management comes in.  Sounds like something out of a boring Business 101 class, I know, but it is quite essential in the online world.  In a nutshell, it means controlling or monitoring search engine result pages, and tracking how a client is mentioned in social networking sites and the like.

It’s pretty amazing how sophisticated this is.  Both online and offline techniques work at promoting positive content while pushing down certain links which pertain to the negative.

How does this relate to us mom bloggers, then?  Well, for some of you who may have online businesses such as digiscrapping shops, your reputation is highly important.  How can you sell anything online if people read nasty things about you?  That story about a dark relationship you had way back in high school can prove to be detrimental to how people perceive you online.

Just for kicks, try googling your name or your blog title.  Hopefully there’s nobody out there trying to slander your name all over the place.

Taking a Leap of Faith

Pardon my ignorance, but I must admit that I have never before imagined that you could actually grill pastry.  I never thought that fresh butter slowly melting on top of grilled pastry can be such a delectable delight.  It was a friend from work who introduced me to this sweet indulgence a week ago, and I must say that I am now a fan.

The sweet has suddenly turned sour when he told me he was leaving his job for a better opportunity elsewhere.  I will miss him not only because there will no longer be a delicious piece of hunky meat walking around the office, but also because on a few occasions, he has been my confidante.  His IT expertise has rolled over to the love department, and I have been a regular customer.

And then, the sour now turns into flavorful.  It is his moving on which has served as a springboard for me to finally think about my goals for the future.  A few posts back, I wrote about my thoughts on turning into a full-time work-at-home mom, and he was one of those who felt strongly about it.  We started out at this company at about the same time, and he identified with how burned out I felt at work.  His leaving now inspires me to act towards achieving my goals.  If he could do it, so can I.

When I wrote that post, I was still uncertain about what to do, but things are starting to become clearer now.  I will not bore you with the details of my goals (because even I bore myself sometimes!), but let me just say that I now have an action plan of sorts.  I also considered the various comments left by my lovely readers in coming up with a decision of what to do with my life.

Timing is everything.  Prayer will help see me through.  Things may not go as planned, but I have faith that an Invisible Hand will guide me.

When “Something Old” is New: Why Choose Vintage Jewelry

Here’s the thing: just because I’m no longer married- and I’m not getting married anytime soon- doesn’t mean I don’t have the liberty to wear “something old” or “something blue”, right?  I have seemed to develop a certain fondness for vintage wedding jewellery.  Not because I’m hoping to tie the knot again in the near future, let’s be clear on that.  I just find that vintage pieces are timeless.  They put the “C” in classy.  Well, it’s that, and because I turn to Hollywood inspired jewellery to try to look even just a bit like Grace Kelly.  If I can’t have her face, I can at least have a necklace that resembles hers.

Image source: http://www.lovettandco.co.uk

So, what’s the undeniable appeal about vintage jewelry?  For one, they’re not your run-of-the-mill jewelry pieces.  If you’re like me who thinks it’s utterly horrible to find someone else wearing the exact same piece, then vintage is the way to go.  With vintage jewelry, you won’t fall into the trap of mass-produced pieces.  Especially if you’re an upcoming bride, you’d want to stand out from the marrying crowd.  With vintage jewelry, you’ll be wearing something that is unique to a certain era.

If you’re a sucker for quality, then vintage jewelry is the perfect choice for you.  The quality of today’s costume jewelry pales in comparison to that of vintage pieces.  They have been designed to last a lifetime, so you can count on their durability and wearability over time.  You can have your daughter wear some of your old pieces on her prom night, and she’ll look like a 2012 version of Audrey Hepburn.

Style is another reason to choose vintage jewelry.  They may be old, but not necessarily old-fashioned.  Their craftsmanship is of a high standard, that even today, you won’t mind being caught dead wearing them.

Going for vintage jewelry helps you go green.  Because you’re wearing something from the past, you do not promote practices- such as mining- which devastate the environment.  It’s one of the industries which pollute the environment the most, because of the huge amounts of waste products it generates.  The toxins mining delivers to the air take their toll on our health.

Choosing vintage jewelry gives you the chance to wear a piece of history on your body.  It gives you an almost surreal feeling of being transported back in time.  You could be wearing a family heirloom which makes you feel connected to your roots.

Maybe vintage jewelry is just like wine: they get better with age.  Wish I could say the same about myself…