Finally Got Through!

I woke up around 5am and checked my phone. F.B. finally sent me a text message!

He said: Sorry didnt txt.bad signal & no recharge.we're ok but house is nuts.flood pretty much half d house.dunno if comps ok.stayin at house nxt door.i miss u.i love u

I decided to try calling him again and it finally went through & he answered. He said they are still without power, so I didn't keep him on the phone for a long time. I heard sirens in the background. He said sometimes the water in the pipes comes on & other times it's off. They are still staying with the neighbor, He said the house is a mess. And they are still staying with the neighbors next door while they are cleaning up. The neighbors have a 3 story home. (Their home is 1 story.) He said during the flood the 1st floor of the neighbors house was completely flooded. He sounds okay, better than I expected. But I think still in shock somewhat at everything that is happening.

I know he's upset about the computer. He told me he doesn't know if it's going to work. The thing about our relationship is we rely on technology so much that when everything fails for us, we feel cut off from each other. It was so hard not hearing from him for several days because every day we are in contact somehow, email, chat, text, phone. He says he may try emailing me from an internet cafe in the mall at the end of the week. If his PC is shot, we may have to just rely on that communication for awhile until they are able to afford a new one. It won't be as nice as being able to chat with each other in real time but it's something. And I've already recharged my phone card so I can call him frequently. It was just nice to hear his voice and hear that he is okay.


Flood in Cainta Rizal Philippines (New Updates)

F.B. texted me around 8pm Sunday saying they had to stay at a neighbors house because their house is flooded. I looked up a news article online and it says Cainta Rizal is under 6ft of water! Most of Metro Manila & Rizal is flooded. Every time I try to call him I keep getting busy signal or an automated message saying the number you have dialed is either unattended or out of coverage area.... so not sure what is going on, but I'm worried and wish I'd hear from him. Please keep him & his family in your thoughts & prayers. Thanks!

9-26-09: I emailed F.B.'s father. He is a ship captain and is not in the Philippines right now. This was the information he received:

I was just on the phone with my mom and she said that everyone is ok in the neighbor's house but except for important papers and documents saved by your tita Zen, everything else is flooded. Right now the rain has abated and hopefully the waters will subside. They dont have electricity right now which could be the reason why we can't reach their phones because they did not have the means to recharge. Mom said that she cannot reach them too because of the same reason. I will give you an update as soon as I have more news.

9-27-09: Another update from F.B's Dad:

Dear Sarah,I already talked with your Tita Zen and thank God they are all ok. The water is only on the streets now and drying up. The house was submerged upto the lower half of the windows last night so everything is in shambles right now and they started cleaning up. FB says dont worry, they have not charged their cellphones until now because electricity might be out for another two days. I told them to buy a car charger so most probably FB will talk to you in his phone today.

9-28-09: Another Update from F.B.'s father:

Good morning Sarah, Yes the house was half submerged. Everything, including the refrigerator was already floating inside the house before they left to go to the neighbor. The PC and monitor and the television were all submerged. FB manage to drive "First" and "Pearl" to our friends inside the village situated on higher streets just when the water started to flow in. Of course after driving "First" he had to walk back to drive "Pearl" and on his way back he had to wade waist deep water near the house. According to Your Tita Zen the water rose so quickly that it was already neck deep in the carport when they went over the next house. We can thank God that it happened during daytime and I even dont want to think about consequences had it happened while everyone is asleep in the night. They have to buy new mattresses including a replacement for FB's bed and do a lot of laundry as everything in the closets were reached by the muddy water. Your Tita Nel's home was not flooded. Thank you for praying with me Sarah because that's all I can do right now. We are in the middle of the Atlantic on our way to Russia and we will only arrive there on Oct.8


End of Summer

I've been going to the park twice a week and walking hour/hour and a half. I've gotten some nice end of summer pictures that I wanted to share:

I use a Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W55 for all my pictures.


Cute Workout Clothes: Take 2

Well... I had to send back my 1st order because the hoodie & pants were too big. But... Old Navy didn't have the sizes I needed in stock for exchange so they issued me a refund. I went back on their website tonight and picked out a different hoodie in XS and yoga pants in S. So now I have to wait for them to arrive. They were both $15.00 like my last order. I actually like the design on this hoodie better and I like the pants better too.

Here is what I ordered:

Women's Fleece Zip Hoodies: Love

Women's Fold-Over Yoga Pants

Like I said before if you order from Old Navy, make sure you get a size down. Their clothes are cut so much larger than normal. If you are a medium you will be a small. If you're a small you'll be an extra small, etc.

On another note, my future sister in law has a blog too. You can check out her blog here!


Belated Birthday Dinner

Friday I went out for a belated birthday dinner with my cousins. We headed up to the Willow Grove mall for some shopping. I recently got a $10 gift card for doing a survey on Victoria's Secret website. And then a $25 gift card from American Express arrived in the mail which was a surprise. (Even though you have to spend $2,500 to get a $25 gift card- I think it's taken me 3 years, haha!) So I had $35 to spend! Awesome! I got 2 bra's for $12.50 each & some Strawberry & Champagne body spray. I love that scent and Pink. (Which is my signature scent.)

I was a bit annoyed they've changed their VS Cotton line though after all these years that I've been wearing them! The bras are all now lightly lined & I liked them better before without any lining at all. I just hate padded bras. Blah. The 2 I got on clearance were from the Pink line and they were more to my preference.

Also stopped at Ross so I could pick out a medium suitcase, since I'm taking 2 bags to the Philippines this time. I found a medium roll away suitcase for $34! I love Ross for getting discounted department store luggage!

We had dinner at Friday's. I had an amazing salmon & pasta dish. And I made my cousin pick out a new drink for me to try because I usually get beer, wine, margarita's or strawberry daiquiris. I tried a long island tea for the first time. Yummy! Also a thank you to my cousins for the awesome gifts. I got a cute Clinique Makeup set in a metallic pink clutch & Burt's Bees lip gloss set, etc.

Today F.B. & I were talking about staying in Makati City for a few nights again, so I looked up our beloved Best Western Astor hotel on and booked 4 nights the 1st week of January for $53 dollars a night. It was $83 a night on! I booked through Agoda last time and they are so much cheaper! Definitely recommend them!

We've stayed at the Best Western in Makati city 3 times now and we just love it. The staff is super nice too (once had to call the front desk because we had stupid neighbors blasting disco music at 4am!) and we love the breakfast buffet. And the hotel also offers a shuttle service if you don't want to commute.

It's also close to everything in the city. Green Belt, Glorietta Mall, it's not too far a drive from Mall of Asia. You can actually walk to Glorietta mall or to Green Belt from the hotel. We've done it before on the nights we couldn't use the car. (In the Philippines in the city depending on the numbers on your license plate once a week you are not allowed on the roads until after 7pm.) I wouldn't mind visiting Manila Ocean Park again too!

To read all of our Makati City trips you can click on the links below:

Makati City Trip December 2006
Makati City Trip January 2008
Makati City Trip October 2008


Photo Tutorial: Improving Your Pet Photos In 4 Steps!

I originally posted this tutorial for our members on the Rat Chatter Forums, where I am a moderator. I also wanted to share it on my blog.

Everyone can learn to improve their photos with these simple steps. All you need is a photo program like: Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Fireworks, Photoshop, etc. There are also free programs out there on the web that will allow you to edit your photos to show their best. Picasa 3 is a free photo editing program. PhotoBucket even has a buit in program for editing photos as well.

I wanted to give a short tutorial on how you can edit your pet photos in just 4 steps to make them look their best. I'll be using Photoshop 11, but you can also do these steps with other photo editing programs.

Note: To view the pictures full size in this tutorial please click on them.

Here is our straight out of camera original photo:

This photo is good, but it has a gray overcast to it and needs to be sharpened & brightened up!

Step 1: Sharpening Your Photo.

Sharpening your photo will make it clearer & crisper. (It helps to pick a photo where the subject is in focus.)

Let's sharpen our photo & compare it with the original. You can see the sharpened photo is clearer.

Step 2: Brighten & Contrast.

We need to brighten up our photo a bit & increase the contrast.

I increased the brightness to 10 & the contrast to 5 for this photo. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare:

Step 3: Color Balance

I'm going to increase the color balance towards warmer because this photo has a gray overcast look to it.

I slide the bar towards warmer to warm up the photo and get rid of the gray look. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare Again:

Step 4: Increase Saturation

The last step is increasing the saturation to give the photo more color. This tool is usually called: Hue & Saturation.

All I'm going to do is slide the saturation bar up to 8, this makes the color stronger. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare:

Now that's we've finished let's compare the original photo to the finished version:

You can see our finished photo is clearer, crisper & brighter than the original. Just 4 easy steps is all it takes to make your photos look their best!

1 more tip for getting clear photos. If your camera has a MACRO setting, it will help for taking close up clear pictures without being blurry.

I use a Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W55 for all my pictures.


Wedding News...

I've got a bunch of questions from Misguided Mommy, so I'll answer some of them heehee!

Whats up with you and FB lately you haven't updated us in ages. Gosh! Nosey people need answers! How is he? Did he end up finding a job? Have you heard about your visa? Do you know where you are going after the wedding? How is work? Gosh girl your leaving us all hanging over here!

1. F.B. is fine. We were going back & forth on each other's facebook pages today. We have been meeting for "dates" every other day online to chat. I think we spent almost 4 hours talking today.

2. We did discuss some wedding dates for December. Right now we are waiting to see when his parents will book the hotel we will have our wedding "reception" at. I believe it's just going to be a small dinner with family & friends. I do know it's going to be at a hotel in Manila. But we aren't sure which one yet. I've already invited my friend Gayle to our wedding dinner, which I'm excited about! Gayle & I met on myspace a few years ago. She is also a mutual friend with my old coworker & friend Christie. We got to meet in Makati City in January 2008.

His parents have also said they will pay for 2 nights at a hotel for our wedding night. I don't think we are really having a honeymoon, since my whole trip in the Philippines is like a vacation. I do think F.B. & I will take a day trip to the beach sometime (Maybe Cavite?) and we talked about staying a few nights up in Tagaytay again, since they've built more shopping places, restaurants since our last stay there and we could go to Enchanted Kingdom too. Plus I always love seeing Taal Volcano. We won't be staying at the same hotel we did last time though!

3. Next year I'm not going back to the Philippines. F.B. & I have already discussed this. We agreed to take a year off from traveling due to the expenses. He's going to focus on the job thing next year and take anything he can get so he can save up some money for when he moves over here. He also won't have to worry about taking time off work to be with me if I come to stay 2 months.

I'll be working here in the USA with our immigration lawyer and be able to save more money while I'm not worrying about $1,500 plane tickets and other travel expenses. Immigration may take up to 2 years. I will be going back to the Philippines for another visit in 2011. The long distance sucks... but at least we'll be working on our immigration process and closer to being with each other for good!

4. Visa question can be answered here!

5. And work question can be answered here!


Ginger & Nutmeg

Just some pictures of Ginger & Nutmeg from the park last week. (Ginger is Blue Hooded. And Nutmeg is an English Irish Dumbo.)

I really love animal & nature photographs, which is why I always take so many! You can view some of my pet photos on Flickr Here.

I ordered a Marshall Carry Sack with some of my birthday money. It was smaller than I thought, but still big enough for at least 2 ratties and alot easier to carry around than the plastic carrier I use for them in the car, etc. Nutmeg was a little hesitant this time at the park. But Ginger just stuck her head out of my bag and was looking all around.

Oh! And an update on the Cute Workout Clothes post. I always forget Old Navy's sizes are cut larger. I had to return both the hoodie & pants for smaller sizes. So now I'm waiting for my exchanged items to come back! Believe me, if you're a small in a hoodie, you'll need an extra small. If you're a medium in pants, you'll need a small. I always forget that with Old Navy.


Cute Workout Clothes!

I ordered some cute workout clothes yesterday from Old Navy. I really want to go hiking/walking in the park 2x's a week for extra exercise and wanted something cute but more comfortable than jeans to wear. I've already got a pair of purple & gray Adidas sneakers I've never worn in my closet too. Both items were only $15.00! Can't beat that! And the hoodie is adorable, I love the flower design on it! If I had extra $$$ I would have gotten the other colors too.

Women's Graphic French Terry Hoodie

Women's Active Drawstring Pants


Another Birthday.

I'm 27 today... another year older, lol. Went to the park in the morning and took Saffy with me. Got alot of nice pictures and it wasn't too warm out in the early morning, I could actually wear a hoodie. Ran into 4 angry mean geese though blocking the path. Two bikers couldn't get through, I couldn't get through, whenever someone would try to walk to the side of the path out of their way they would flap their wings and chase after you! Finally a lady with a dog came through and the geese scattered. I guess they had a nest somewhere close to the path. I think I'm going to start going to the park twice a week for extra exercise... those hills kick my butt! Sad to say alot of my jeans have gotten tighter on me... and I have 2 months and 3 weeks to make them fit again! blah!

My boy sent me a letter & two birthday cards and a Watson's Drugstore Lemon Lip balm! He said he had to search 8 stores for it, maybe they are about to discontinue that flavor? I lost the last one he sent me in the creek at the park accidentally a few months ago, it fell out of my pocket accidentally. I promised him I wouldn't take this one to the park! Heehee!

After a quick stop at Starbucks, I was heading to the supermarket when my Service Engine light came on in my brand new Nissan Versa. I've only got 2,100 miles on and I'm not even due for an oil change until I hit 4,040 miles. I checked the manual and it said to check the gas cap, nothing was loose. I even stopped and put $5 worth of gas in even though the tank was already over the halfway point. The light was still on. I called Nissan and I have to take the car up there tomorrow at 9:30am because it could be something with the engine or emissions? Fun....

Turned around and headed to the library to pick up the 6 books I checked out. I love my library. They have an online catalog and I can just pick the books out and they email me when their ready to be picked up. I got there at 11:50am and there were a bunch of people waiting outside... they didn't open until 12pm on the dot.

My birthday got better in the evening. Steak pizza with the family & a chocolate chip cookie cake. Also got alot of great presents. A Sentry Safe from my parents. I've been wanting a fire proof box for awhile, now I'll be able to put my birth certificate, marriage certificate (In December!) and our immigration papers in my lock box. 5 for $25 Victoria's Secret Hip Huggers, Marshall Carry Sack for my ratties and my brothers got me a flashback from my childhood the 1st 3 seasons of the Animaniacs on DVD. Haha.

My passport came back on Friday with my 59 day visa. The expiration is still weird, it's 2 days after I arrive. Maybe I need to send it 1 month before I leave instead of 2. At least I know, once I enter before that date, I can still stay 59 days.

UPDATE 9-5-09: So as I'm approaching the exit I get off to go to the Nissan Dealership the stupid Service Engine Light goes off! WTF?! I still pulled into Nissan and the mechanic said if the light went off it's fine & he doesn't need to check it out. He said sometimes when you get gas if the cap isn't tight enough, etc, when you start the car the computer won't recognize something and it will take driving a certain amount of miles to make the computer reset. Gee, I wish the guy that I talked to on the phone yesterday had told me all I needed to do was drive it! What a waste of time! Glad the car is okay though!


Completely forgot to mention...

I mailed off my passport to the Philippine Consulate in New York almost 2 weeks ago for my 59 day tourism visa! And if my application and paperwork is filled out properly, etc. I should be getting my passport back with my visa in a few more weeks.

I still have to go shopping for another medium roll away suitcase. Last time I went away I just took one big HUGE roll away suitcase. It ended up being overweight on the way home and the airline made me repack it. It's a pain to take more than 1 suitcase (for me.) because when I get back to the USA, I always have to claim my luggage and then recheck it after I've been through customs.

But... this time I'm going to take two suitcases. I have a large but not over large purple roll away I've taken with my before, and I'm going to get a medium one as well so that way the weight my luggage will be more even and I hopefully won't have any issues with overweight luggage. So far according to my airlines rules, I shouldn't have to pay any extra for 2 bags since I'm traveling to Asia. But if I run into baggage fees, I'll just have to deal with it.

F.B. & I have been in discussions about a possible date for our wedding. His parents want to give us a reception and will have to make arrangements to set that up and they will also have to give the judge that will be marrying us a specific date. We've narrowed it down to a few different dates in December that will give us enough time to get our paper work done but nothing is definite yet, and... since I still want to do a wedding date blog giveaway, I won't be sharing it on here even when we do know. *wink*


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