Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Winter Vacation Awaits You at Crested Butte, Colorado!

Crested Butte, a true winter wonderland!

I have never been one to hit the slopes, but now that I am getting older and my kids are at the age where they are self-sufficient, I have been thinking about activities that we don't normally do.  One such activity has been skiing. I'm thinking I should try it before I'm too old to make it down the slope in one piece!! 

Few places on earth offer such a remarkable combination of breathtaking beauty, diversity of activities and genuinely friendly people as Crested Butte. Often referred to as "The Last Great Colorado Ski Town". Crested Butte is a historic town tucked away in the Colorado Rockies Elk Mountain Range. Because of it's affordable accommodations, gourmet restaurants, cozy pubs, and eclectic shops, Crested Butte attracts repeat visitors year-round! 

Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management Inc. offers a large selection of quality lodging in Mt. Crested Butte. Choose from studio condominiums to 4 bedroom condominiums in prime locations including ski-in/ski-out or walking distance to the slopes. Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management understands that the quality of lodging can make or break your vacation. They have carefully evaluated and inspected each property and have categorized the accommodations to further help you make your lodging selection. It seems that they really want you to come to Crested Butte, Colorado to relax and have fun - not hassle with your accommodations. 

I myself like to stay in these type of accommodations rather than hotels simply for the space, kitchen and laundry amenities. I like to enjoy vacations in a "home away from home". Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management Inc. will even stock your fridge ahead of time, offer suggestions for activities, and if you are celebrating a special occasion, they can arrange for a cake, flowers, catering, and even babysitting services! They promise a vacation you'll never forget!

Winters in Crested Butte, Colorado, are a skier's and snowboarder's paradise. How beautiful is this view? I can picture myself at the top of a mountain taking deep breaths of fresh, clean air and enjoying the sun on my face. I hope to take my family to a place like this very soon. If you are interested in planning a winter vacation, go to and book online using promo code: skimSB or call (888)412-7310. See you on the slopes!

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You can find all the fun gift ideas HERE:

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Tribute to my Second Mom

Luzviminda de Dios Bumatay 
October 27, 1939 - July 9, 2015
Mom, Grandma Luz, Manang Bennie, Manang Vennie, Auntie Luz, these are all names that I heard Mom being called throughout the years. I had the privilege of calling her Mom as her daughter-in-law.  I actually met Mom in my early teens, so she has been in my life for a long time, starting from my formative years through adulthood.  I learned many things from my second mom by watching her and seeing how she interacted with all of us, her kids and grandkids.
First, Mom nurtured each one of us and made us feel important.  Personal notes and greeting cards were something Mom loved to write in her own hand.  On my birthdays and anniversaries, she would hand me a card with a simple note telling me she loved me more than I would ever know and that I was a blessing to the family.  I remember her often introducing her son, my husband, Eric, to new acquaintances as “This is my son, the Sheriff.” She would beam with pride when she said that.  'Til the end she would ask me my opinion on anything, even the most minor of things. “Is it okay, anak?” she would say.  Because of these actions, I felt very loved, accepted and valued.
Mom was an English teacher and as such, she was a wordsmith.  She loved books, and magazines, reading everything from classic literature, biographies, fiction to spiritual books. Any verses, poems, psalms that touched her, she would rewrite on post it notes and place them in her keepsakes or in a notebook or journal.  I always felt very special reading her cards and letters, but I suspect she wrote something similar in everyone’s cards. In our midst of going through old photos for her slideshow to be shown at her viewing, I opened a drawer in her bedroom.  In it were stacked bundles of every single birthday, anniversary, Mother's Day, Valentine's, you name it that she every received from her three sons, her daughters-in-law, and her grand kids through the years. She kept it all.  This is one letter that I've kept from her that I will always treasure.
Mom loved music, especially hymns.  She was a longtime member of the Nestor Methodist Church in south San Diego and sang in her church choir for many years.  Mom actually requested to be buried in her choir robe.  "How Great Thou Art" was one of her favorite hymns that she chose to have sung at her viewing and funeral.  I spent some time looking for an appropriate version to include here. I think Mom would have loved this rendition.
Mom (and Dad) was generous from the start. Eric and I became parents while we were still in college. We were starving students so to speak with a baby. In addition to buying diapers and baby food, frequently she would leave some gas and recreation money for us on the counter with our names on a post-it as we completed our educations.  When she knew we were itching for a home of our own, she didn’t hesitate to help us in that way too, co-signing a loan with us.

Being a teacher, education was very important to her.  Almost as soon as our daughters were born, Mom and Dad started to plan for their college educations by purchasing savings bonds. Automatic deductions came out of their paychecks. Dad sponsored Sherilyn and Mom sponsored Allison. In time, patience and persistence literally paid off. They were of great help as college time came faster than we knew it. Mom never missed a school awards ceremony, performance, promotion or graduation for her grand kids. Next to me, she was probably the loudest cheerer in the crowd. She would say off and on through the years that she just wanted to live long enough to see her first grandchild graduate from college. She did just that.

Mom loved the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter were always
spent at the house with a beautiful table and bountiful food prepared. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday.  Mom would dress the table with fresh flowers, an impressive cornucopia of gourds, fruits and nuts, even a spray of wheat to add that finishing touch. She and Dad would have no less than two huge turkeys and a ham to feed us on Thanksgiving and days afterward.

At Christmas time, her decorated tree could grace the cover of Good Housekeeping or Ladies Journal, two magazines she subscribed to.  She had a knack for real artistry with making her home beautiful and inviting with seasonal decorations.  Even her gift wrap for Christmas gifts were selected with utmost care, down to the handmade ribbon that adorned each box.  For mom, it was all in the details. She loved social gatherings and entertaining guests, especially having her family in her home on these special days.
Along with being a special homemaker, Mom was also a great cook. Mom (and Dad, being a cook in the Navy) definitely fed us.  I never was a size small, but when I met Mom I think I was a size medium.  After I married Eric and enjoyed Mom’s cooking on a regular basis, it all went downhill from there. Her pinakbet, vegetable lumpia, mechado, bibingka, leche flan, and pineapple upside cake were some of her specialties.  In my early years with this family, I was amazed that getting a nonchalant call that dinner that night would be at Mom and Dad’s house would consist of these ginormous steaks, lobsters and more! She and Dad would go all around town to pick up fresh dinner rolls that she knew Allison liked, or a specific dessert that she knew was someone’s favorite.  She would remember that my dad loved her Arroz Valenciana and when she would make it, would make sure we delivered some to him. That was her thoughtful nature.
In addition to entertaining and cooking, Mom enjoyed gardening, tending to her numerous orchids and roses in the backyard, attending plays and music concerts, and watching her favorite sports on TV, like tennis and ice skating. Mom and Dad traveled all over, going to their hometown fiestas in Tayug and San Quintin, to class reunions in Boston and Canada, and going on cruises and tours in Europe. She was a social butterfly.
Grandpa Roger and Grandma Luz at one of their reunions.
One of her brothers, Uncle Nanding, spoke about a vivid memory he had of Mom when she was in college and he was still a high school student. He remembered a parade and her riding a float as one of the muses. He described her as a Disney princess. This is a picture of that day. Mom was Ms. Liberal Arts. She was seventeen here.
Mom as Miss Liberal Arts in 1956
When Mom retired, she helped us by watching her grandkids: Julian, Nolan and EJ. As you can guess, 13 years after Sherilyn and 11 years after Allison, our bonus baby would be a boy! We named our only son, EJ. Eric Junior.....Ericson de Dios Bumatay Jr.  Through him, Mom’s maiden name “de Dios” will continue on. Mom and Dad and my parents would alternate babysitting days, and when EJ was a baby, they would come to our house so that he could continue sleeping and Eric and I could leave from work.  They stayed with him at our house until we came home. 

When EJ started school, they took turns with my parents picking EJ up from school and caring for him until we came home.  Mom and Dad would have EJ’s vanilla milkshake waiting in the car and then drive through either Jack in the Box or McDonald’s for his favorite chicken nuggets, of course EJ’s top choice.  Mom kept the fridge stocked with Oreo cookies, milk, vanilla ice cream and cones ready for EJ whenever he spent the afternoons there.  Often, I would come to pick him up and find EJ and his Grandma snuggled up on the couch at their house. EJ would be nestled against her, in a quiet and peaceful state, taking a nap. Mom would tell me to have Eric come back for him later and she would patiently lay with him and let him sleep. She loved being a Grandma. As I did not really grow up with my grandparents, I’m grateful that my kids know theirs.

"Gratitude" and "Faith," two words that remind me of Mom.  She would often say, even on her most painful days and the most difficult of situations that “God is Good,” “Thank you Lord,” that her “cup runneth over".  When she felt anyone of us were going through a hard time, she would say just the right thing to make us feel that yes, everything was going to be okay.  “Trust in the Lord,” she would say. If she was ever mad or upset that she was sick, she never showed it. I never heard her ask "Why me?"  That was Mom. Last August, Mom had surgery. We prayed hard for it to be successful.  Despite her age, mom survived the surgery and we thought all would be well.  We had Mom for another eleven months.

Her favorite psalm was Psalm 23.  Randy, my brother-in-law, read it to her the night she passed. We all knew the end was near that day.  She went peacefully with all of us surrounding her at home and sending her to heaven in pure love.  All that she wanted was her family to be with her in her last breaths.  I will never forget Mom in that last moment. She was still beautiful and carried herself with dignity and grace when God called her home.
Mom's favorite Psalm
In more recent years, I would try to remember to thank her more often for all that she gave to me and my children, but I don’t think in my lifetime, it could ever be enough.   To Mom, thank you for raising this son of yours who became my husband, for he is the best part of my life.  Thank you for having me as part of your family, for providing me with a second Dad, brothers and another sister to love. Thank you Mom for helping me grow into my own as a woman, and most importantly as a wife and mother.  I will forever be grateful for your love and support, for everything you gave to me, as my Mom. I think of you daily and miss you more than you'll ever know.  Happy 76th Birthday.
The Chapel of the Roses is our view when we visit Mom at Glen Abbey

Sunday, October 25, 2015

2015 San Diego Asian Film Festival Turns Sweet Sixteen!

Ultrastar Mission Valley at Hazard Center

(Main Theater & Box Office)
7510 Hazard Center Drive | San Diego, CA 92108
I have been a long time fan of foreign films. I think it started when my Mom and Dad used to take my sister and I to the only theater in South San Diego that showed Filipino movies. I forgot what it was called but it was near Farrell's in Chula Vista.  Alas, both facilities closed down long ago. When I was in my late teens, I remember watching "The Joy Luck Club", and "The Scent of Green Papaya", "Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker" and "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman".  I would rent them from Blockbuster Video to watch, of course with the subtitles.  I have not ceased with my Asian Film fetish, in fact my interest has grown to include regular viewings of Korean dramas, Taiwanese dramas, and of course the occasional Filipino films that show in my local theaters.

I always get excited in October because I know the San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) is right around the corner! SDAFF is the largest showcase of Asian cinema on the west coast with over 130 films from 20 different countries. Presented by Pac-Arts Movement, this will actually be the Sweet Sixteenth year for the festival, so you can use the promocode: SWEET16A for 16% off single tickets. Tickets are available online for all shows. Tickets can also be purchased on-site at specific screenings one hour before show time. For all screenings at Ultrastar, tickets can be purchased at the Ultrastar Mission Valley box office (Member $9| General $12) starting October 30. Student/Military/Senior and Group discounts are available at the door. Most screenings will be held at the Ultrastar theaters in the Hazard Center in Mission Valley, however there are other magnificent events happening at other venues throughout the county. Check them out here.

I first attended SDAFF back in the year 2000, I think! I attended a screening of "The Debut", a coming of age movie starring an all Filipino-American cast. Since then, I have attended the festival off and on, trying to catch one movie at least in the festival and encouraging my family to watch.  My eldest daughter ended up interning with them back in 2010 and really enjoyed the experience. My nephew got involved in their awesome program, Reel Voices, back in 2013 and still volunteers today! Reel Voices is a sponsored program by Pac-Arts, where actual film makers work with high school students to teach them the art of documentary film-making.
Check out his documentary:

The festival always offers free events, a great way to join in on the fun if you're on a budget.  As in the past, all screenings happening at 4 pm on weekdays are free during the festival.
Monday, Nov. 9: 
Tuesday, Nov. 10: 
Wednesday, Nov. 11: 
Thursday, Nov. 12: 
In addition to the free screenings, the following is a list of films perfect for the whole family to see:
SHORTS FOR SHORTIES! San Diego Premiere- Nov. 7, 11:00 AM, UltraStar 
Family-friendly animated and live-action short films about resilience, childhood, acceptance, and friendship. For the first time in SDAFF history, this program was curated (researched and selected) by local San Diego high school students to teach them the art of programming. Free for kids 12 and under.

LITTLE BIG MASTER West Coast Premiere- Nov.8, 1:00 PM, UltraStar
Miriam Yeung plays a star school principal who can get any job she wants, but opts instead to save a struggling kindergarten from closing on its five students. With uncommon sincerity and a mountain of cuteness, this family-friendly Hong Kong hit fights class inequality with the fervor of principle.

REEL VOICES World Premiere- Nov. 8, 12:00 PM, UltraStar
12 high school students from San Diego create documentaries based on subjects in their own lives. Free admission.

WINNING GIRL San Diego Premiere- Nov. 12, 6:10 PM, UltraStar
A documentary about a Hawaiian girl's four-year journey to become a world champion in judo and wrestling.
And since October is also Filipino American History Month, I want to highlight some of the Filipino films showing, "Lorna" and "Swap".
LORNA (directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, starring Shamaine Buencamino and Maria Isabel Lopez) 
Nov. 6, 6:30 PM, UltraStar San Diego Premier
Nov. 7, 6:05 PM, UltraStar  (Maria Isabel Lopez scheduled to attend)  
Audience Favorite Award, 2015 YBCA New Filipino Cinema 
Best Supporting Actress, 2014 Cinema One Originals Film Festival         
Lorna, 60, has men in her midst: the ex-husband, the smooth-talker, the overseas boyfriend, and the rock star with a stoned smile. Love should come easy, but as Lorna quickly learns, it doesn’t always get easier with age. Shamaine Buencamino and Lav Diaz alternate stealing the show in this retro, dashing comedy.

SWAP (directed by Remton Zuasola) North American Premiere- Nov. 9, 6:20 PM, UltraStar
Cast and crew scheduled to attend
Staged in a magnificent single take while zipping in time and shifting breathlessly across locations, SWAP follows a young couple as they confront the unimaginable: the kidnapping of their son. The film’s theatrics foreground is a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse, while the ghosts of social upheaval loom behind the curtains.

Two of the films that I will be bookmarking are:
Fans of Kpop and Kdrama will recognize these up and coming actors! Kim Woo-Bin, a model turned actor, and Kang Ha-Neul, who got his start in musical theater, (Both were in the megahit Korean drama "The Heirs"). Rounding out the trio is Junho of international idol group 2PM fame. 

A summer camp film taking place back in the 80's with youth finding out what it means to be Korean. The shirts alone pique my interest!

Another event that I would like to attend is Getting Intimate with Ken Jeong.  We all recognize him from the Hangover films and he now has his own show on ABC, Dr. Ken. He will be here in person for a panel discussion on Saturday, November 7th at 3:10 pm at UltraStar. I hope he is as funny in person!

One of these years, I am going to take a week off of work, book a hotel, and totally LIVE in the movie theaters and attend all the exciting events during the festival. If you haven't attended yet, try it out this year! 

Major sponsors of the San Diego Asian Film Festival include Barona, AARP, Sharp Health Plan, McGregor & Assocates, Wells Fargo, PROVEN Staffing, Qualcomm, The San Diego Union-Tribune and KPBS. 

Follow SDAFF on social media:  #SDAFF2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Find Melt in Your Mouth Desserts at SNOICE!

SNOICE is a dessert shop owned by two young San Diego native entrepreneurs, Jayrell and Dianne, who strive to offer a cozy place for family and friends to enjoy camaraderie and custom desserts!

SNOICE offers the following yummy selections:
  • Shaved Snow - A Taiwanese inspired dessert made of ice shavings from flavored ice blocks. The dessert is lighter than ice cream, with a more airy texture.  You can top this dessert with fresh fruit, flavored popping pearls and condensed milk.  I enjoyed a custom half Pina Colada and half Ube (taro) Shaved Snow with mango mochi, bananas, and lychee flavored popping pearls.
There are so many toppings to choose from for your shaved snow!
Photo courtesy of SNOICE
The shaved snow comes in three different sized cups for to-go orders.  In house orders are served on a plate!

  • Halo-Halo - A popular Filipino shaved ice dessert drenched in evaporated milk, and mixed with all sorts of fruit, other toppings and premium Magnolia ice cream that comes in Filipino flavors like buko pandan, macapuno, and ube! My favorite is mais con queso!
    Photo courtesy of SNOICE
  • Boba Tea - Flavored milk teas served with or without chewy tapioca balls.  They can also be served hot or cold
Photo courtesy of SNOICE
We have halo-halo and boba places here in South San Diego, but I was excited that I no longer have to drive out to the Convoy District to get shaved snow, it's right here in Spring Valley!  Better yet, SNOICE is under the same roof as Kababayan Bakery.  Bring your family and enjoy a Filipino meal and dessert!

This is the machine that shaves the flavored ice blocks for the shaved snow.  I want one in my house!

Our lovely server, Marivic, was friendly and efficient!
My son really liked his cookies and cream shaved snow!
Find SNOICE at 8423 Suite B Paradise Valley Road right off of the 54 freeway. Say hi to Marivic, Jayrelle and Diane too!

Follow SNOICE on social media:
IG / Twitter: @snoicesd
#thatsnoicelife  #snoice

Disclosure:  I was treated to sample some complimentary desserts. All photos and opinions are my own unless otherwise specified.

2015 Moms Meet WOW Summit!

The Moms Meet WOW Summit is coming up this week! It will take place in San Diego, CA on 10/23 and 10/24 at the beautiful Town and Country Resort. This annual conference brings healthy-minded moms and bloggers together to attend expert-led seminars and workshops, sample amazing products, build lifelong connections, and have fun! 

I'm planning to attend Friday's events specifically for bloggers! I'm looking forward to attending workshops where I can learn from successful bloggers about taking better pictures and building my blog, social media presence, and more.

On Saturday,  Moms in attendance will hear from guest speakers, attend educational workshops, and sample tons of free products in our exhibitor room. At the end of the day, everyone will walk away with an amazing goody bag!

Learn more about the 2015 Moms Meet Wow Summit here and get 30% off by using the promo code WOW30.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Getting my Green On from Shiftcon 2015

Last month, I was able to attend ShiftCon, a Social Media Conference created to support bloggers and other influencers who care about topics such as food, wellness, toxic-free living and the environment.  Like any other conference, there were speakers, workshops, social gathering, an expo with vendors (and even yoga and a 5K!)  but all focused on healthy living and the impact that some big businesses are having on our health and environment by the chemicals used in their products. I have never been to a conference like this and I must say this one really got me thinking about the choices I am making for me and my family and to examine where I am in this "shift" for taking responsibility for our children's future and what kind of changes need to be made.

The conference was held at the Marriott in Manhattan Beach.  It was a really beautiful location! Different water features and rock reflection areas made it a perfect venue for this event.

Watch this video to see what it was all about!

From the get go, the message of green living was present. There were different levels of "greenness" at the conference. There were those like me who were barely scratching the surface and those that have truly dedicated their lives to purchasing, consuming, using products that support green living.   What amazed me was that our lanyards, badges, and badge holders were all made of recycled materials, bamboo, corn silk, and recycled plastic I think!
All food served at ShiftCon consisted of organic food.

I was really impressed by the time and effort the organizers of this conference put into finding these vendors and their products!

Another part of the conference was the Expo.  Vendors lined the hallways of the main floor and were happy to talk to the attendees and give samples of their products.  This was valuable to me because I would never have learned of different products and had the opportunity to see if I liked them if not for the samples.  The volume of samples was overwhelming.

I even learned how to make a healthy popcorn snack!

Some of the vendors held fun contests too!

In addition to the Expo were the Hospitality Suites, where exclusive brands had dedicated rooms to host conference attendees.  Bitsy's Brain Food was one of them.  

Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics was another hospitality suite vendor! I fell in love with their products.  I wish they were around when my kids were babies.

Naturepedic also had a suite! With four beds to try out, robes, and slippers, we spent a lot of time with them too!

My favorite vendor was Orgain. They sponsored the 5K and also ran a "Shiftcon Upgrade" campaign where attendees tweeted their wishes and Ally from Orgain would grant them.  I dubbed her the Fairy Goddaughter of the conference.  One attendee wished for chair massages and Orgain came through!  I enjoyed one myself! 

The workshops and speakers were also amazing. Listening to Gary Hirschberg (Co-Founder and CEO of Stonybrook Farms and Chairman of Just Label It) speak, raised my eyebrows at times.  He discussed the millions of dollars being spent by big businesses lobbying for the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act in order to keep the status quo and not require the labeling of ingredients, namely genetic modified organisms (GMOs), in our food.   It is too soon to know if GMO's are safe for human consumption.  In short, we know what is bad for us but if don't have labels, how will we know what we are eating? He went on to say how companies are basically selling pesticides with the same ingredients as Agent Orange to farmers with the claim that they will keep weeds at bay and protect their crops. Gary shared that an astounding 41% of Americans in our lifetime will be diagnosed with some kind of cancer. His message was clear, protect your health, use your influence to voice your opinion and educate, and get the big brands to stop keeping us in the dark! At the end of his talk, I felt that he did his job as the keynote speaker.  I reflected on what I eat and feed my family and what I spend my money on.  What I thought about was the need for me to use my influence as a consumer to protect the environment that my children and their children will grow up in. 

Another workshop I went to was about how to handle stress. I didn't realize that a boost of magnesium could work wonders in calming one down.  The workshop also talked about taking probiotics,  eating well (eat the rainbow), and essential oils.  I wished that I could have attended one about organic beauty products as skin is the biggest organ of your body and of course absorbs what you put on it.  That's one workshop I will bookmark for next year.

One of my favorite parts of this experience, was that I had a chance to reconnect with my childhood friend, Cynthia.  We've known each other since middle school and I was even one of her bridesmaids, but husbands, kids, work, and life in general have kept us too busy to really stay in touch in recent years.  Blogger events like this have brought us in back in contact and I am grateful.  The time we had at the conference together made me realize how important it is for moms to savor friendships and invest in them.  Cynthia and I volunteered at the conference in exchange for complimentary registration fees and in doing so, we made a new friend, Amy!

Thank you to Leah Segedie, creator of the ShiftCon Social Media Conference, for opening my eyes!  I can't wait to see how green I am by ShiftCon 2016!
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