One Word Photo Challenge: Cream

This is going to be the first time am joining Jennifer Nichole Wells One Word Photo Challenge and the word for this week is Cream.

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Today we went to see the Luray Caverns at the foot of Shenandoah National Park. It was a long walk but it was all worth it.

I particularly enjoyed the pool where there’s a two feet of water and the stalagmites are reflected. Awesome is not enough to describe it but that’s another blog.

365 Project: Day 224

Posted in East Coast, Family, Photo Challenge, Vacation | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Daily Post Word Challenge: Frayed sunflower

Frayed sunflower

Frayed sunflower

This is my entry to Fray.

It must be late in the season so all the sunflowers at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens look frayed and spent, just about ready to be feasted on by birds.

365 Project: Day 223

Posted in East Coast, Flowers, Photo Challenge | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Crab mentality

Am not going to speak about Filipino mentality here which is but a fallacy anyway and degrading for us as a race. What I want to talk about is Virginia’s crab culture against ours who are from outside the state.

My family loves crabs. For a year I have been telling my niece I’d come to Virginia only during the crab season. Chesapeake is known for their seafood and I want to enjoy that. So not in Spring or in the Fall and good thing I read that their crab season ends in October so I picked this month, instead of Winter.

Before they picked me up at the airport, my niece’s husband, Jun, went to buy crabs at G Mart. We had that for lunch and sure enough we finished one whole big pot of crustaceans (we had shrimps too) in one sitting.

At the party, their friends were saying at the dock they bought freshly caught butterfish and one of their friends bought blue crabs for a dollar a pound. So we went to check it out.

There were no boats docking when we got there but there were fresh crabs ready for shipping. DSC_0371 bushel of Class A male crabs was priced at $150 plus $20 for steaming with crab spice mix, excluding tax. The smaller ones (Class B) was about $135/bushel and the female crabs classified as C was even cheaper. The Filipino fishmonger there said the female crabs were of lower quality.
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The other night I heard they prefer the male crabs too because the shell is softer, easier to crack. In Chicago all they sell are female crabs and the shells I noticed are really hard. Filipinos from Chicago prefer the female ones for their hard fat because they are tasty but they are high in cholesterol. There is no choice anyway because they only sell female crabs. Lately I no longer look for that as they fat females are very compact. The ones without the hard yellow fat are much easier to eat and moister.

We bought a bushel of Class A crabs. I figured if we want to eat as much crabs we want that’s cheaper than going to an “eat all you can seafood” that charges $50 a pop or buying retail at $30/dozen. We also added a box of Chesapeake oysters to go with our feast.

A crateful of crabs though is good for probably a dozen people and that’s a lot for each person. We saved three quarters of it in the fridge and we removed the big claws to save space. I used a nutcracker to crack the shells and they were really thinner and easier to break as they said. We took the meat from the claws to be cooked later in another dish.

These are the things you learn when you travel. I thought it was strange and different but it makes sense actually. Before we are not happy to buy light weight crabs, now it certainly won’t make a big difference for me as long as it is meaty.

465 Project: Day 222

Posted in East Coast, Food, Reunions, Vacation | Tagged | 2 Comments

In good hands

DSC_0367Terry is the eldest niece in the family and they lived in the same roof as my parents so among our nieces and nephews, she’s almost like our own (along with my youngest sister). She got married in the Philippines so we didn’t meet her husband until my sister and I arrived here this week.

We hear a lot of good things about him from her so we know she’s in good hands. We of course would like to meet his family and so I suggested if we could have a party on Saturday.

His elder father came and all the siblings that reside in Virginia. He actually has a big family here, three brothers and a sister. They all brought dishes, same thing with their friends.

They are all so welcoming and we feel so at home with them. Yesterday, his eldest sister made some cassava cake for us and today she accompanied us to Oceana Naval Station to pick tickets to some attractions we want to see in the coming days.

We are glad that she found a good partner in life, someone who makes her happy and a very nice gentleman. They are a match made in heaven!

365 Project: Day 221

Posted in Battling the bulge, East Coast, Family, Food, Friendships, Vacation | Tagged | 7 Comments

Finding love in Virginia

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Before my niece got married to someone from Virginia, that state was never in my radar of places to see. I most likely asked the question, “What’s in Virginia?”

DSC_0328We’ve only been here for three days now, well actually this is going to be my fourth, and we are falling in love with the state. From the plane as we got ready to land, I could see the many water tributaries in Norfolk. I get excited seeing so many bodies of water – rivers and lakes, the Atlantic. I love coastal towns and cities.

My research online does not do the state justice. We went yesterday to the boardwalk in Virginia Beach and it is fun and exciting. Very touristy but they had several bands playing in different areas of the strip and they are free! The main strip is occupied by hotels and motels and stores selling cheap souvenirs. The restaurants are a mix of national chains like iHop and upscale ones like Catch 31.


There is something for everyone, whatever type of person you are.

We also went to see the Nauticus but we got there with only an hour to spare so we saw only the free exhibits. But if you are a navy buff, give yourself a couple of hours because they close at 5 pm everyday.

When I saw myrtle flowers, I know their weather is milder than Chicago.  I love that they have so many trees – pines which I have not seen in the Midwest, straight shooting up to the sky so their woody areas are less dense than what I see in Illinois.

There are still many places to explore and am loving it.

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365 Project: Day 221

Posted in East Coast, My Core, Uncategorized, Vacation | Tagged | 17 Comments

Travel theme: Orange

palabok

palabok

Palabok is a Filipino favorite snack food or dish.

It is made with thin rice noodles, crushed pork cracklings, shrimps, minced pork and sliced boiled eggs for appeal.  The sauce is made with shrimp flavor and heavily colored with achuete.

Fish sauce and lemon are the favorite seasoning.

It is time-consuming to make so we are happy if we could find a restaurant that serves a good one. We had this for a light dinner during my first day in Norfolk, VA.  So happy that they have a place to meet and get to enjoy Philippine dishes.

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This afternoon we went to check out Virginia Beach boardwalk. It is a happening place.  There was a music festival, plenty of stores catering to tourists, restaurants, entertainment galore.

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365 Project: Day 220

Posted in East Coast, My Core, Photo Challenge, Uncategorized, Vacation | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Sweeter than strawberries

Calabrese salad

Caprese salad

We are eating healthy and light lately. On our last trip to Costco, I got some fresh mozarella to go with our fresh tomatoes and Sheryl, our neighbor, has given us some more too.

Viv loved the caprese salad the other day so tonight we made some more using our own beefsteak tomato and basil. It went very well with the roasted chicken.

Am letting the tomatoes ripen in the vine. I picked them when they got very red but still firm. Gosh, they are so sweet! So great that everything is so cool to eat, just perfect for the hot temperature of today.

The salad is so simple and easy to make. Am so inspired to plant some heirloom tomatoes next year, a green tomato, pink, purple and yellow. Won’t that look great in a bowl of salad? It would be so colorful!

First tomatoes

First tomatoes

That big platter of salad came from about 60% of the large tomato in the photo. It was really huge, so sweet – better than any fruit and just a hint of acidity.

365 Project: Day 219

Posted in 9 to 5, Food, Garden, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments