Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Link Love: November 30, 2010

Another round of link love today! Brace yourselves and your bookmarking tools because there are a lot today and I am sure will find at least a couple of things especially fascinating to you.

The Discipline to Write Daily by Chris Brogan
If you love to blog but still find yourself establishing the discipline to write in it regularly, Chris Brogan's advice is very helpful.



Facebook Co-Founder Speaks Publicly: What I Learned From Watching “The Social Network” by CNBC.com
The lesser-known Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin guest blogs on the popular online news channel about the movie inspired by their early years in developing Facebook. This is especially interesting to those who loved the movie. I personally think this is one of the best this year -- and Andrew Garfield brilliantly portrayed Saverin!

Analog Sunday
Analog Sunday is an informal idea to encourage people to take a day off away from all things digital. What do you think?

Speaker Highlights from Catalyst 2010 from catalystspace
In case you missed it, here are some of the speaker highlights & quotes from Catalyst 2010.

Outlive Your Life by Donald Miller
Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado is probably one of the most impact-oriented books I have read in a long time. Don Miller thoughtfully writes how this book can be maximized through your own life and through shared experiences with a group. One of my goals in 2011 is to be able to gather around like-minded women and go through the book together.

Social Printshop
Do you have a friend who loves Facebook and Tumblr as an online social tool? This makes a great holiday gift. Social Printshop prints a user's Facebook friends or Tumblr photo archive.

I'd Like to Send You a Book by Josh Harris
I am grateful to Josh Harris for sending me a free copy of Dug Down Deep. I plan to use this as one of my small group materials for 2011.

How to Open an Airplane Lavatory Door from the Outside by lifehacker
Next time your kid locks him/herself in the airplane bathroom, here's how you can easily unlock an airplane lavatory with nothing but your finger. Great advice for frequent plane travelers with kids in tow.

How to Use Tumbler (Tutorial) by Beautiful Blog Designs
I don't use my Tumblr as my main blog platform but I do love using it to display people, places, and things that bring nothing but delight! If you would like to spruce up your current Tumblr site, this is a great step-by-step tutorial.

No-brainer Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Mom Spark
Thank you Amy Bellgardt for this easy recipe. I am making this for Christmas!

One church that handled scandal well and how they did it by Monday Morning Insight
When a church member or a family member / friend experiences a scandal, this is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate mercy and grace the way Jesus Christ did. We can all learn a thing or two from this article.

Death of Discernment by Shaun Groves
One of my favorite communicators wrote one of my favorite blog posts in the recent times. The religious and the legalists might not like it though!

"I don't have any good ideas" by Seth Godin
Seth Godin and I agree. Please do not ever tell me you do not have any good ideas. It's in there somewhere and I wanna hear all about it!

Catalyst East 2010: Craig Groeschel
If there was a message on this year's Catalyst Conference that I feel must be heard by everyone I know in the church, it's this. Watch the video that highlights Craig Groeschel's message.

Cheesy Meatballs by Everyday with Rachael Ray
Great recipe especially if you have a husband who loves both meat and cheese!

Baked Brie from Real Simple
Brie is definitely one of my favorite cheeses! This recipe brings a whole new twist to my beloved.

Curious Sofa
I just think this online store is adorable and charming!

Seven Tips to Start Your Travel Blogging Journey by PROBLOGGER
I don't think I am called to do travel blogging full-time but I do know a lot of personal friends and readers who can be great at it. I hope you find this article helpful! And when you do start your blog, let me know about it.

Survival of the Hippest
Custom-made necklaces for your friends who love to tweet!

DIY silhouette drink escort cards by 100 Layer Cake
When is the next party? Can't wait to make these!

Catalyst West Coast 2011
Are we going? Probably not. But I do highly recommend that you pray about going and experience something extraordinary.

Monday, November 29, 2010

31 Days to Build a Better Blog - 25% Off!

Hi everyone! There is an ongoing sale on an e-book that I have personally found beneficial to improving my blog this year.

One again, I rarely promote something unless I have tried it myself, experienced excellent customer service, and has been really a life-changer for me.

Darren Rowse's "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" has taught me to do improvements to Listening to His Voice one little task, one day at a time. If you would like to start the year 2011 improving your blog every single day without being intimidated by the task, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of getting this e-book today -- it is 25% off until midnight strikes on December 1st.




If you would like to purchase "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" today at 25% off (US $19.95), please click on this special affiliate link:


Please make sure you add the discount code november25 on your shopping cart. Hit 'update cart' and the new price will be applied.

This also makes a fantastic gift to a friend or family member who you have discovered has started to love blogging! Buy it now before it goes back to its original price. You'll be thankful you did!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Best Grape Salad Recipe

Robert and I visited New Albany, Indiana a couple of weeks ago and my friend Lynn made this delicious grape salad that looked so simple to prepare. She showed me the ingredients and I later looked it up on Food.com and saw that the exact recipe is published on the website.

I loved the taste of this salad so much that I decided to follow the recipe on Thanksgiving Day. I hardly get the chance to cook but when I do create something -- I get excited about sharing it!


Best Grape Salad

Ingredients
2 lbs green seedless grapes
2 lbs red seedless grapes
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste

Topping Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar, packed, to taste
1 cup crushed pecans, to taste

Directions
Wash and stem grapes.
Set aside.
Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla by hand until blended.
Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving bowl.
For topping: Combine brown sugar, and crushed pecans.
Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely.
Chill overnight.

Notes
It might be a lot better to pick grapes that are moderate in size.
I will probably try making it with red grapes only next time. The green ones were too tart for me.
The store ran out of pecans so I decided to use walnuts instead and it tasted great!
If you are watching what you eat, proceed with caution. A small serving is about 300 calories.


Tell me: Are there any new recipes that you would like to share?

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

I just love a holiday in which the spirit of it is based on gratitude. With so much to be thankful for this year, Thanksgiving is my hands-down favorite celebration!

My strongest feeling of appreciation goes to my one and only Jesus who truly is everything to me. I cannot express it any other way than that.

My dependence on Him this year is like being hooked on an oxygen mask. Breathing through every second is so hard without Him.

While feeling this way might sound stressful to some you (because sometimes it is to me), I just love having this kind of relationship with Him. When He came through several times when I thought I could not hang on further, I cannot begin to describe the feeling this kind of love has brought me.

Trusting Him is so worth it!

And because of how He has brought me here today, I am grateful.

I am grateful to a husband who is also dependent on His Father so that he can come close to loving me the way He loves me. We have decided that we will make it a tradition to go out on a romantic date the evening before Thanksgiving.

If you are married (or believing you will be in the future), this is a good tradition to start before a hectic day with the family that usually comes with the actual Thanksgiving day. The quality time allows us to focus on each other and express what we are grateful for.

I am so thankful for all the food we ate yesterday. My mother-in-law's turkey recipe is still the one to beat!




I am grateful that we have other friends that are like family to us. Being a 34-year-old Filipino in the Midwest can sometimes be lonely.



I also miss my friends in the Philippines who we get to spend Thanksgiving with over there. We usually dress up and eat in Shangri-La's HEAT buffet.

And of course, I miss my family. I pray everyday that they are safe and healthy. Nevertheless, I am thankful for their presence in our lives even though they are so far away.

How about you: How was your thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Photo Cards

I rarely use this blog to promote anything unless I experience something above and beyond my expectations. When I experience great service, I want to share it to all of you because it might help you make a better buying decision when the need arises.

I started looking around the Net for customized photo holiday cards that had lots of pretty designs and offered a good value for my money. I tried a printing service two years ago. The service was great but the look and feel of the card felt a bit cheap.

This year, I picked Shutterfly to print my 2010 holiday cards. The website had a beautiful brown design that I had in mind going into this project.

Merry & Bright Holiday
Get custom holiday cards online at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.

Uploading our photo into the design was easy. In fact, I initially made a mistake with the cropping and felt unhappy with how the printing came out.

I expressed my regret to Shutterfly customer support and they readily gave me free credits to re-do my cards. They totally did not have to do that but their desire for me to be 100% happy re-assured me that I picked the best printing service for my cards.

I proceeded in re-doing the cards and it only took a couple of days for it to be delivered to my doorstep -- and it came out perfectly! I just got done ordering a second batch and will probably order a third.

Are you looking for thoughtful gift ideas this Christmas? Here are some other items you can customize on Shutterfly.


These gift ideas are perfect if you have an extensive collection of family photos. I am so happy with the service of Shutterfly and I just thought of sharing with you this great customer service experience.

Share with us today: 
Any product and/or service that you would like to recommend this Christmas season?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Food in Kansas City

My previous blog post talked about the wonderful time I had in Kansas City for the Women of Faith conference. I also enjoyed the breaks of the conference.

Why? My husband took me out on dates during those times! There were two dining places that I believe were highlights of our dates.

I loved them so much that I am excited to share them with you today -- just in case you find yourself in Kansas City in the near future!

First, let me tell you about Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. Kansas City is famous for its barbecue and when we were asking around, this came highly recommended by our good friends. While I do not believe there is a universal "best barcebue" (people have different tastes!) -- this restaurant is definitely on top of that list.

We ordered a Dinner for Two Special which really felt like should have been dinner for four! We ordered the beef rack slab -- which were eight dinosaur-sized ribs. Perfect for beef lovers like us. Yes, it was falling off the bone!

We picked great sides to go with the ribs: hickory pit beans, cheesy corn bake, and cheesy potato bake. Beans are definitely a non-negotiable for me when it comes to eating ribs. I just love beans! However, I don't think it was a good idea to order both the cheesy corn bake and cheesy potato bake. It was just too rich to take in both! We should have picked one of them and then went for steamed vegetables.


I had a special request to Robert as to where to go for dessert. I read about Glace Artisan Ice Cream and knew it was only available in Kansas City.


The reason I wanted to try it was the interesting selection of flavors. Definitely not your usual supermarket-bought ice cream! Take a look at few of the flavors available: roasted apple, bananas foster, caramel pecan, cream cheese, goat cheese with pear compote, green apple sorbet, maple walnut, and peanut butter chocolate.

Their "single" serve was a lot and we were allowed to pick 2 flavors in one serving. I sampled most of the flavors because I wanted to be sure I got something I liked. I am so easy to please but I must say -- the goat cheese ice cream tasted rather unpleasant! They should learn a thing or two on how to make a good cheese-based ice cream from Selecta.

(To those who do not live in Manila, Selecta is an ice cream brand whose bestselling flavor is Quezo Real. A coconut flavored ice-cream generously sprinkled with cheese cubes. It might sound a little gross but trust me -- it's really good!)

I ordered a combination of caramel pecan and vanilla bean -- and that worked out really well for me! Robert ordered maple walnut which was really good too!

Another thing to love about Glace: it's blue and brown packaging! A color combination that I am forever drawn to.


How about you:
 Have you discovered any new restaurants in the recent past? Please post your recommendations!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Women of Faith: Imagine

I am really enjoying our extended stay here in the United States for so many reasons: quality time with Robert's family, opportunity to meet wonderful people while raising support, and spending time with friends who are dear to us.

We have also resolved that this is a season of learning as we believe it will help us be better teachers of God's love and faithfulness as we return to Manila early next year. We prayed to God to give us opportunities to be students while we are here.

And He did respond to our prayers oh so generously. This year I was able to attend conferences that (1) helped me become better in handling online communications and (2) helped me become a more effective Christian leader. There was so much favor in these events because we were able to attend without having to pay for expensive conference fees.

I recently spent a weekend in Kansas City, MO. I had the pleasure and the privilege to attend Imagine: Women of Faith conference. While the previous events we went to greatly fed me as a blogger and as a leader, this conference nurtured the core of who I really am: a Christian woman.

It felt so good to attend a gathering of women who collectively worshipped God. It was an honor to listen to other females whose experiences have become great testimonies of God's faithfulness.

Allow me to share with you today some of the wonderful highlights of this uplifting weekend.

Lori Robertson is the Director of Programming at Women of Faith. She was the host of the conference. Her presence on stage was so sweet and gentle.

We had a gorgeous-looking (and sounding!) worship team: Jenifer Thigpen, Janice Gaines, Laura Cooksey, and Allison Abbott (who was a glowing pregnant momma). I absolutely loved that all songs from their set list are worship favorites. While I love discovering new worship songs -- it does feel great to sing to every single song without having to stick out your neck to see the lyric!

Marcus Buckingham, whose career has helped others discover and maximize their personal strengths (that includes yours truly), spoke about the primary life roles women feel strongest at. This is the basis if his book (which I did a book review on): "Find Your Strongest Life."

Have you seen a woman sing so beautifully on stage and pregnant at 8 months? I am talking about Natalie Grant. I have always been in love with her singing voice but I think I have fallen harder hearing it live. The most moving moment was when she sang "It Is Well" in acapella.

Lisa Harper was an incredible teacher. She had fresh takes on Scripture and very down-to-earth stories! Her funny lines on being single was also heart-warming.

Karen James talked about that day in December 2006 when her husband climbed Mt. Hood and was trapped there in the midst of the worst storm that ever hit that mountain. He tragically died on that climb. How Karen coped with such a seemingly unbearable loss was a strong testimony.

"Gospel Royalty" Tina and Erica Campbell also known as Mary Mary rocked the house with a high-energy concert on Friday night. I bet ya didn't know Mary was NOT their names! They were gorgeous!

Luci Swindoll was so inspiring especially to women who consider themselves artistic and creative. "Adventure is an attitude, not a behavior." I just love listening to a woman who worships God through the arts!

Lawyer Kim Cash Tate talked about a powerful (and very much-needed!) message how women, intentionally or otherwise, put labels on each other and how it creates tension on a supposedly loving fellowship as sisters in Christ. I did a thorough heart-check after hearing her message.

Sheila Walsh -- definitely my favorite speaker of the conference! She is so funny, honest; and that lady can sing! She spoke about forgiveness and trusting her husband again -- an issue I know resonates with a lot of married women today. I also loved another message of hers that explains a new perspective of one of my favorite stories in the book of Genesis: When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Awesome bonus: seeing Christine Caine, Lisa Welchel and Mandisa just a couple of rows ahead of me! They did not speak/perform. They were just there, like me, taking in all the wisdom from the speakers and worshipping God.


This conference stirred up dreams in my heart again on helping set-up a Christian women's conference in Manila. I think how fantastic it would be if I could combine all the events I attended (creative, leadership skills and female issues) into one dynamic weekend for women in the Philippines. I do not even know how I can start it but the vision just keeps on pressing within me. I would like to ask for your prayers and your wisdom as I ask God about this!

Do tell me: 
Would you like to see a faith-based women's conference in the city that you live?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Compassion International

I have received several e-mails and Facebook messages about yesterday's blog post on Operation Christmas Child. I am so blessed that a lot of individuals are packing shoe boxes to cheer up a child this Christmas. I also brings so much delight that someway, somehow this blog has created some kind of awareness on how something that seems so little to us can make a huge difference in someone's day.

Today, I want to share with you another way to make a difference in a child's life in a poverty-stricken country. This requires a little bit more commitment but allow me assure you that the impact is HUGE. Let me tell you about Quetzalli.


Quetzalli's full name is Quetzalli Nayeli Kenia D Paz Lopez. She was born on June 1, 2001. That makes her 9 years old today. She lives in Guatemala. Although we have never met her in person, she is like a daughter to us. We decided to commit to sponsoring her monthly so that she will have new opportunities to become everything God wants her to be.

Christian child ministry Compassion International was presented at the Catalyst conference that we attended several weeks ago. Monthly child sponsorships are the core of how this organization works. For just $38 a month, a sponsorship helps provide ongoing Christian training, educational opportunities, health care, personal development, life skills, and vocational programs -- opportunities they will never think are possible because of current lack in their lives.


As the Compassion team distributed cards of children in need of sponsors, Quetzalli's photo fell into our laps. She was standing very upright as if she were saying "I am a well-behaved girl. Please pick me." We immediately fell in love with her and knew in our hearts that God led us to her.



We prayed about sponsoring her (honestly it didn't take a long time to do so) and we are now very happy to be a part of her hopeful future! Someday I hope we get to meet her. In the meantime, I am more than happy to exchange letters and pictures with her.

Please pray about sponsoring a child in need today. If a $38 monthly donation is too steep for you, you can always combine with another individual or family. Right now, there are 1,397 children waiting to be sponsored  on the website. If you need more information on sponsoring a child, please click on this link as it may answer most of yours questions.

Your involvement will make a huge difference!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

I first heard of Operation Christmas Child last year. Robert's good friend James Tioco invited us to a dinner organized by Samaritan's Purse in Manila.







That evening opened my eyes to a fascinating project that gave people an opportunity to take a shoe box, fill it with gifts and toys, and send it to Samaritan's Purse for distribution to children who might never experience receiving a Christmas gift that year. I am grateful that I became aware of this and resolved that we will send a shoe box the following Christmas season.









A couple of days ago, Robert and I decided to pack a shoe box for a little girl between the ages 5 to 9 years old -- just in time for Christmas this year. I personally feel strongly connected to this specific age group and gender because most of the children I have closely bonded with recently fall under this demographic.



We asked the help of our little friends Maliya and Mateo on what to pick for our little girl. They were great and definitely knew more than we did!


Friends, I really encourage you to pray about packing a shoe box. It does not cost a lot to put fun items in it and make someone's Christmas brighter and happier.

Instructions are found on the website but I will also share on this blog on how to pack a shoe box.

1) SHOE BOX
Use an empty, standard-size shoe box or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.

2) BOY or GIRL?
Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child's age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Go online and print out the appropriate boy/girl label. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.

3) FILL WITH GIFTS
This is the fun part. Go to your favorite store. Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. Great gift ideas include small cars, balls, pens, pencils, toothbrush, toothpaste, t-shirts, and socks. You have so many options!

Please do not include: used or damaged items, war-related items, chocolate, food, liquids, lotions, medications or any breakable items.

4) INCLUDE YOUR DONATION
Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online, or you can write a check to Samaritan's Purse (note "OCC" on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.

5) DROP OFF
Place a rubber band around each shoe box and lid and drop off at the Collection Center this week. Drop-off starts TODAY.

For locations, please call 1-800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

You can also send your shoe box gift to:
Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607


This project is so close to my heart because a lot of Filipino children benefit from these boxes.







If you are looking for a meaningful activity that emphasizes sharing and generosity this Christmas, I hope that you consider packing a shoe box for a child. You can do this with your son/daughter, nephews/nieces or students; or if you belong to a Bible study group, this is something you can do together! Christmas just becomes more significant when we all decide to prefer to give than to receive.