Friday, October 24, 2014

Nothing Warms Chilly Nights Like Chili!

It's that time of year again where it's getting chilly in the morning and evening, and what better way to fill our tummies for supper than a hot soup or a hot stew. I don't think there is any other more popular recipe when it comes to this but chili.

The husband is the one in-charge when it comes to chili. He was actually the one who introduced me to this delicious dinner recipe. Using his late mom's recipe and his good buddy, the Crock-Pot, he prepared it for the first time this fall on Sunday.

I love this chili. It is so tasteful. And for you to taste it too and so you can agree with me, I am sharing with you my late MIL's recipe, with permission from the hubs, of course.

Chili a la June (June was my MIL's name; Hubby affectionately calls her June Bug)

1-1/2 pounds Lean Ground Beef
2 cups Chopped Onion
1 can Chili Beans
1 can Crushed Tomatoes (or 2 cups)
1 heaping teaspoon Black Pepper
1 can Tomato Pieces or 1 can whole Tomato Squashed Up (or 2 cups)
3 to 4 tablespoons Chili Powder
4 squirts Hot Sauce
2 teaspoon Chopped Garlic
1-1/2 to 2 cans Water

1) Brown the beef in the pan.
2) Once it's brown, mix it with all the other ingredients in the Crock-Pot.
4) Simmer on high for five hours.
5) Serve hot.

There you have it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Man is as Good as His Word

October 20, 1944 - "I have returned."
...and one such individual that backed up a promise he made with action, literally, was General Douglas MacArthur when he followed up on his pledge to the Filipino people of "I shall return," with the US invasion of the Philippines on October 20, 1944, beginning the end of the brutally horrific occupation of the Pearl of the Orient by the Japanese Imperial Army. During his island-hopping campaign across the vast Pacific, MacArthur's military genius was calculating one distinct goal: the fastest and most strategic way to get back to the Philippines, and in accomplishing this goal, he was brilliant.

In island hopping, American forces bypassed many insignificant islands, leaving the Japanese behind to rot in the tropical heat and stench of the jungles, saving many GI's lives because when an island was invaded, the fanatical Japanese fought to the death for their Emperor with the goal of killing as many Americans as possible. MacArthur had another foe other than the Japanese, though. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had other ideas of how to bring the war to an end which didn't include a Philippine invasion. But MacArthur felt it would be a betrayal to the people of his second homeland if he didn't return. And with being a legend in his own time as well as holding great sway with President Roosevelt and others in Washington, he used his willpower and assets and made it come to be that he would return, writing an historic page in the story of two great countries.

I can't help but recall the times I've flown into Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. My eyes would be glued outside the window, not as an excited tourist but as an amateur historian, my internal GPS trying to home in on areas where the battle to free the city took place. But it's been seven decades since and things have changed so much. And it's truly hard to imagine that chaotic time where, mostly unknown to most Americans of this age, over 250,000 Filipino men, women and children were massacred by the Japanese, raging against their futile efforts to hold on and defeat the American forces.

Two things, however, are easy to identify. In Manila Bay looms a hulking, tadpole shape, the Rock; Corregidor Island, where the Americans and Filipinos made their heroic last stand in early 1942. And across the way to the mainland, jutting out into the bay is Bataan Peninsula, where the defeated soldiers of Corregidor embarked on the terrible 60-mile trek to a POW camp, a journey that came to be known as the Bataan Death March.

My most memorable trip to the Philippines was in 2009. It was then that I met Lynndee, my co-blogger here, who during my time there became my fiancée. Her cousin has a little place out in the country, a retreat, and he took us there one day for a getaway. It is located amidst the sprawling Dole pineapple fields. What a sight that was; acres and acres!
Pineapples galore!
On the way to his place we ran into a wee bit of trouble on the washed out road!

An adventure in paradise!

But with sheer willpower and muscle, we got 'er done and moved onward.


His place sits at the base of Mount Matutum, an active volcano, no less. What a majestic sight that was.

That's just clouds, not an eruption. I wanted to hike to the top but Lynndee wouldn't let me.

Her cousin's wife and kids were there, as well as his father, Lynndee's uncle. We had a wonderful Filipino meal and afterwards sat down to chat and share some good rum. I found her uncle to be an amazing man and I will never forget the hours -yes, hours!-  we sat there and talked. One thing we had in common was baseball. Though the great American pastime, he was a treasure trove of baseball lore and anecdotes having followed the game for decades. But another thing we share is a love of history and in him I found a fortune for he is the epitome of living history.

He told me of when the Japanese came to the islands. Initially they spoke of being Asian brothers and how all would be well with them working together. But history has shown us how that utopian scheme worked out. The Japanese began imprisoning or  killing government officials who wouldn't work with them, as well as dissenters and clergymen. Her uncle's father was a minister, and when he saw what was happening, he took his family into the hills and joined a guerilla band. So at the age of eleven, her uncle became a child patriot who learned how to fight like a man. What an incredible story he shared with me! Forevermore I will hold this man close to my heart as not only family, but as a true hero.

And I, too, shall return. But not as a tourist. When I retire, I'm taking Lynndee back to her home country and make it my home as well. And I can hardly wait for I know that many new adventures await me among my new family and friends. See ya then!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not Only is He Cute, He's a Scholar!

"Every achievement in life is worth being proud of."

The quote that I borrowed online is one of the few quotes that I live up to and truly believe in. Being a mom is not an easy task, I have to say, therefore every milestone and achievement that my only son gets is one thing that gives me joy and fulfillment.

I am my son's number one fan and I support him all the way in whatever he likes to do and whatever makes him happy for as long as it is for his own good, makes him a better person and  is good for the community.  If you remember, I bragged a li'l about him HERE, and now I am bragging some more. (",)

My son has never given me problems from the beginning and although I was anxious of him facing reality or facing the dog-eat-dog world out there when he started school, all I could do was hope and pray that he would meet good people and would only come across people who will treat him nicely, and so far, so good. He did encounter meanness but nothing major that would have destroyed him and influenced him which I am so thankful and grateful for.

His latest achievement was being invited to join the National Junior Beta Club (often called Beta Club). This is the first year of the club for his school thus he is a charter member. Together with the other selected 6th grade students, he was inducted into the club last Thursday.

As if you may know, the club is for those students who not only demonstrate outstanding academic achievement but also who exemplify worthy character and commendable attitude.

Both the husband and I couldn't be more prouder of our son. We hope that he will continue this scholastic journey and being a good boy.