Friday, April 30, 2010

Trees at Fun Friday: The Torrey Pine

Torrey Pine in Fog
It is Fun Friday again in our group, Blogging for Fun, hosted by Melissa. For 8 weeks, we will be featuring trees, thus the title, "Trees at Fun Friday". 
Torrey Pines Lining the Trail
Inside my favorite nature park to hike in San Diego, are the rarest pines in the United States, the Torrey Pines. This rare pine grows naturally in the wild only in two places: at Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego, California, 
Stunted Torrey Pines growing in poor sands on top of sandstone cliffs
and in a single grove at Santa Rosa Island of Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. The Torrey Pines that grow along the exposed western portion of the reserve are growing in poor sand, these trees are exposed to very strong winds and the scorching sun. Probably, because of its exposure to harsh elements, some of the Torrey Pines show an aberrant growth referred to as gorilla's nest or witch's broom.
An aberrant growth ( gorilla's nest) on top of Torrey Pine
(found this tree at Razor Point, at the exposed western slope of the Reserve)
The cause of this unusually very bushy growth within the tree is unknown, possibly due to a genetic disturbance. The beauty of Torrey Pines lies in its character, in its survival amidst the nutrient clad sands, surviving drought ( after-all, San Diego is in a semi-arid environment), whipped by strong chilly ocean winds and cooked by the sun.  
Silhouette of a Torrey Pine at Sunset
The Torrey Pines State Reserve was established to preserve these rare pines. The Torrey Pines Golf Course, host of the 2008 US Open Golf Championship, which is located right next to Torrey Pines State Reserve is named after this rare pine trees.
Torrey Pines Golf Course
To learn more about the Torrey Pine tree, please click here

Have a good weekend everyone. 

Hormel Chili in Your Hiking Trips?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hormel Foods. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love hiking, it is my favorite form of exercise year round. For me, there is nothing that can compare to the pure joy of getting up close with the amazing wonders and forces of nature.
What I like most in hiking is the simplicity, there is no material competitiveness, just you and nature. Hiking releases stress,  it draws no pretensions. Experiencing the beauty in silence is a perfect time to feel God's loving presence in us.
However, let me introduce the other reward of hiking :) Another joy of hiking is knowing I am still very fit to hike and enjoy climbing mountains. In hiking, we not only exercise our legs and body, but also our heart and mind. My favorite form of vacation is a hiking vacation, out in the wilderness to enjoy the beauty of nature. One of the constraints when going to these places is the scarcity of food around. Sometimes, we get back to our hotel later than 10:00 pm that no restaurants, not even the hotel's restaurant is open. We have to rely in our own food so we do not starve.

It is during these situations where I remember how quick and easy my late mom would make us meals back on our younger days. We would have Hormel chili soup, where we would simply add cubed potatoes, cubed carrots, and evaporated milk to Hormel Chili. Hormel company has gone a long way, with so many choices to choose from. My most favorite feature being a hiker is the easy open cans, where I do not have to worry about bringing can opener. And the addition of "meatless" Hormel chili, for the vegetarian members of the family. 
Aside from Hormel chili soup, another very simple recipe that does not require any fuss, and ingredients also do not require refrigeration is Hormel Chili Pasta. Hormel Chili soup and Hormel Chili pasta gives us the necessary nutrients and calories for us to go hiking again the next day :) 

Hormel Chili Pasta Recipe
1. Boil pasta until soft.
2. Heat up a can of hormel chili in the pan.
3. Mix the pasta with hormel chili.
4. Add parmesan cheese and sprinkle pepper flakes. 
5. Enjoy :)

Want to share your own hormel recipe or explore other easy but very enjoyable recipes? Please visit hormel  site. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enjoying Spring

Yellow Carpet of Wildflowers
Spring is around almost everywhere, literally. However, the poppy fields at the trails in Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Ramona Dam and Toothrock Mountain in Poway did not bloom as much this year, I guess because it warmed later, and the chillier winds depressed their growth and invaded by the taller weeds. However, the bloom at Torrey Pines was still as beautiful as the previous years I had been enjoying it. The yellow carpet of wildflowers above is at Mission Bay, by Pacific Highway and Sea World Drive. This field of wildflowers is actually right next to Sea World. We parked at Fiesta Island,
Jetskiing @ Mission Bay
and took the trails from there to enjoy these wildflowers.
Yellow Amongst Yellow
The tower that you can see at the very far back of the picture above is Sea World's Tower, and am so glad that despite thousands of people inside Sea World, only very few would take time to enjoy the outdoors at Mission Bay.
Anyhow, the walk at Mission Bay was too flat for me that I was back to my favorite place to hike in San Diego, which is at Torrey Pines State Reserve.
@ Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve
Hiker @ Broken Hill
This is my kind of walk, up and down trails right next to the sea.
Beach Trail from Broken Hill
Trail to Yucca Point
and enjoying the fluttering sea dahlias amongst other wildflowers with the sea breeze.
Sea Dahlias
Lilac Mariposa Lily @ Torrey Pines State Reserve
I thank you all for your continued support and visits here despite I can only update this once a week the most :(. Sorry if I had not been commenting often as well, I will try my best to visit when I get the chance again. Meanwhile, just sharing this piece of information from my side of the world today. I am looking forward to my summer break already when I can write here some more and posts more about the simple joys in of simple life out of the doors :)

Hope you had a good weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Help From Auto Loans To Continue Living A Life with No Regrets

He is one of the most financially responsible persons on Earth. He is very careful with money, religiously putting aside at least 30% of his income to his savings. He lives a good and balanced life, with time for spiritual enrichment, family bonding and personal leisure in the middle of his highly achieving career. 

Until one day......

The troubled economy caused his company to lay off a mass of employees, himself included. Not only that, several months later, he found himself in major medical conditions that needed surgery. His hospitalization slowly drained his savings. He was used to being asked for some monetary help from friends, relatives or acquaintances who were going through tough times. Should he follow them? However, he told himself:
"No, I do not have to bother anyone for I do not know what they will be giving up because they could not say no to me. I do not want some of my friends, or some of my family, to give up what may be so precious for them while I still have a car and a house to give up."

Despite having saved a lot of money in the bank, it still was not enough to pay off his hospital bills. In order for him to pay the several thousands left in his hospital bill, he took a secured auto loan on his fully paid 4-year old car. Using his car title, he was thankful he was able to borrow money from an auto loan company similar to Tampa Title Loans. He was thankful that the auto loan company loaned him money based on the actual market value of his car, right on that same day he applied for the loan. This kind of auto loan is very ideal for people who are going through life such as him, and for those who have no credit history or may have bad credit history. They could get money from their auto loan, yet still have their cars to keep. It gave him peace of mind, knowing that:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dreaming of Home

Sunset from my Hometown
Despite enjoying my life here in US, blessed with a very supportive husband and living in a city where I can enjoy the beauty of nature within an earshot, yet, I could not deny the feelings of missing the home I first knew and grew up in. Despite the many blazing sunsets here in San Diego, I still miss sitting in our bay and watching the sunset there. I am missing the laughters and hugs of my family and friends. I am missing the atmosphere of my first "home sweet home".

However, going home is not easy, I wish it is. One thing that I dislike the most is the travel time, it is just too long!!!! Thus, I am planning that the next time I visit home, I will make the most of my travel time by stopping by in nearby countries so that I do not have to make several very long flights for it. Goodness, I do not know how long do I need for this type of vacation, but maybe I can do two or three Asian countries each time I visit my hometown. Of course, I wanted to go to Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Japan, India, okay......to cut it short, I wanted to experience most of Asian countries. Each time we travel, I always make my own itinerary, and I do not go with package tours despite it may be cheaper! Why? Because I love to travel at our own pace, and I really wanted to experience the place the way I wanted it. I am very much detailed in every vacation planning, from places, to activities, to hotels.

Though I have been to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, but that was almost 20 years ago when I was fresh out from college and was sent by my employer for a training there. The places I been to where the places determined by my employer for us to see and explore. I wanted to go back and do it my way, of course, without attending lectures and seminars anymore, but just simply enjoying what each places has to offer. Thankfully, looking for hotels in Bangkok and other cities is a lot easier now with all information we can gather from the internet. Well, we can get travel coupons even if we just spend time to really look for the best deals.

Of course, another country I would love to visit but I do not know when since I wanted also to see the Australian Open, the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific at the same time when I go there. The schedule of Australian Open just do not match our school year :( . But maybe I can just go there some other time and just dream about watching Federer vs Nadal in a championship match at Melbourne Park :) and then watching the amazinng Mebourne skyline at night from one of the best hotels in Melbourne.  Then, visiting the National Parks near and around Melbourne the next day such as: Churchill National Park, Dandenong Ragnes National Park and Organ Pipes National Park.

Oh well, am so glad for the internet, for while these travels do not happen yet, I can just do virtual travel, surf for pictures, close my eyes, and dream I am there :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Meeting Fellow Blogger Ebie

I really had a great time meeting today fellow blogger Ebie of The Main Ingredient, and her daughter Zee. They are fun to be with, and Zee is a great tutor in photography. What is great with meeting fellow bloggers who are also in photography is that you can learn from each other, though I must say, I learned mostly from them :). My weakness is taking pictures of people since I am used to nature and landscape photography, and it is fun to be picking up bits and pieces for people photography. Anyway, here are some pictures from our fun day today. We met first met at Flower Fields then, proceeded to La Jolla.
The Flower Fields, Carlsbad, San Diego County
Colors of Ranunculus @ Flower Fields
White Ranunculus Up Close
Ebie Taught Me How to Shoot This Without going down on my knees :)
After The Flower Fields, we went to La Jolla and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
La Jolla
Seals on Shore at La Jolla

Me @ Torrey Pines, taken by Zee 
Ebie, hope you had a wonderful time in San Diego, and hope you can visit some day and let us hike and explore more of Torrey Pines State Reserve and around.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Up Close and Personal

The week has passed and I have not been anywhere but home, this is the first spring break in many years that we have not been anywhere because we are down with cold. It's good to be home though, good to be relaxing and resting, but what is not good is dealing with cough and cold :(

Getting cold slowed us down, no more hiking, just home...home....and home....sometimes, we take a relaxing walk around though....and since we are more into sitting down and relaxing now, here are some pictures I took this week out of slowing down.
Monarch Up Close
Inside of an Orange Lily
Hug Hug Me Tight - Sipping the Sweet Nectar 
No, I did not inhale the pollen of this daisy, I hold my breath while taking this picture
The Reason Behind Allergies!
Got Ya! Inside the Rose
My Pink Rose
I guess, looking at the positive side of being down with a cold, though there are no more scenic landscape, rolling mountains and waterfall pictures to take from hiking, but stopping allowed me to take a closer look at the flowers and we have more time now to wait for the bees and the butterflies. 

Happy Easter everyone.