Sunday, September 27, 2009

A glimpse of Bull Shoals, Arkansas

We've seen Bull Shoals for the first time yesterday. We hadn't made that trip last week due to hubby not feeling well. To those who does not know yet, we're moving to this town in a month. It is primarily a small retirement and vacation community in the northern part of Arkansas. I have lived in a big city all my life back in the Philippines so it was really a culture shock to me when I moved here in the U.S. In as much as hubby would like me to be happy by living in big cities proximate to big shopping centers, we're afraid that we won't be able to do that because of his line of work. He works in a hydropower plant that obviously uses water to supply electricity. These plants make use of rivers and lakes in this country to generate power and usually these are located in remote areas of the United States. I've long been resigned to the fact that we can't move to L.A., Chicago or New York, not that I wanted to live in these cities anyway, considering the ridiculous cost of living in these places. He's very good with what he does, not to mention the excellent pay and security that the job offers. It didn't take me long enough to get adjusted and satisfied with living in simple and small towns like Ozark and Bull Shoals. As a matter of fact, I love the peace, serenity, low crime rate, picturesque view, laid-back life, pleasant people that these little towns offer. Like most people, I love to shop. But it has really never been a problem even if we've lived quite a ways from malls. Hubby has been very good with his promise to take me to new places, treat me to good restaurants, drive me to the mall and let me shop to my heart's content. Life is treating me well and I'm so thankful to God for that.

Alright, back to the topic. Bull Shoals has a pretty lake with clean and clear waters, almost 1,000 miles of pristine shoreline being enjoyed by people who love to swim, fish, scuba dive, water ski, wake board, camp and even just to chill out and relax to keep their minds from stress. When you google Bull Shoals, you'd be presented with so many lake resorts to choose from. We stopped by their marina yesterday afternoon and took some photos. We've already made plans to rent a boat and just explore the whole lake and probably try fishing. It's another unique and romantic date idea for me and Jeff. There's nothing to dislike about the place. Oh did I mention that the weather was awesome. The sun was out but the cool breeze was just fantastic. We found some nice houses to stay though we haven't finally decided which one yet. On our next trip, we'll look into some more and hopefully by then, we'll have a decision. Anyway, I'll make another blog about that. But yeah, everything is falling into place and we're pretty much excited with the move.

Bull Shoals Marina and Boat Dock


Close-up of a neat log-cabin inspired houseboat in the middle of the lake

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cake: The Icing on my Wedding

I couldn't imagine mixing fashion with cakes. I'm so impressed with the creative ideas that these clients have come out for their cakes. But of course, there's a person molding these ideas into unique and yummy cakes that makes every event more meaningful and special. She has the imaginative hands and the awesome talent to create wonderful cake creations like these. She is Trina Ang. When I saw the photos on her website, I knew I found the one. I didn't think twice. I chose her to make the cake of my dreams. I know I would never go wrong with her ability to create that perfect wedding cake for me. The photos above are some of her celebration cakes. I'm pretty sure everyone could agree with me that she does a pretty good job with those designs. I can't wait to meet her in November and brainstorm about my own wedding cake. Below are some of her brilliant wedding cake creations.

*Photos are from Trina Ang's Multiply site.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Parting ways on good terms

Due to our impending move to Bull Shoals, I put in my resignation last Thursday, effective October 16th, which is actually two weeks earlier than I had intended to resign. Even if hubby had not been moved to Bull Shoals, I would still have to resign from the bank where I am working. I would be gone for a while, a little over 2 months for our wedding and vacation in the Philippines so that's really part of our plan for me to quit my job. After a year of working for Bank of the Ozarks in the Information Systems department, I have learned so many things especially about computers. I still don't speak perfect English, lol, but I know I've made a considerable improvement with my confidence and ability to converse with Americans in their language. I consider myself lucky for having been given a chance to work in a bank for a first job in the U.S. The people that I've worked with were all awesome. I'm not saying I've worked in a perfect world but they handle stress, conflicts, differences and problems at work in a very professional way. Modesty aside, I was touched when my boss told me that I am a very good asset to our department and he's not thrilled to let me go. As a matter of fact, he let me know that should I wish to work again, that I'd be welcome to rejoin the bank. Of course, it's not going to be in the same department because I.S. is only in Ozark but we have several branches in Arkansas and he's willing to give me a very good recommendation should I wish to apply. I think that's so nice of him to do that and I'd definitely love the chance to work with them again. But I'd like to rest for a while when I get back from the Philippines. Though it's comforting to know that I have one best option in the near future. I'm going to miss them all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

One Big Change

"Nothing is permanent in this world but change." At some point in our lives, we've experienced changes. We make important decisions in life that would result to life-altering changes. Some are good, others are bad. Regardless of the outcome, we feel proud of ourselves for having the courage to try something new. If you're a regular on my blog, I'm sure you know that me and hubby have been preparing so much for our upcoming wedding in the Philippines. If you've been married, you realize how stressful wedding preparations can be. Little did we know that in addition to the busy wedding preparations, we are going to face one big change in one month's time. My hubby has been offered a job in Bull Shoals, Arkansas and he accepted it. We are leaving Ozark and would start anew in another small town in Arkansas. We are both excited and nervous about the move and the change of environment. He has been looking for a job outside Ozark for quite sometime now. He had turned down job opportunities in South Dakota and Washington state in the past because of the apparent cold climate of SD and the dry climate in that part of Washington. We thought it would take a while before he could find a better powerhouse to transfer. So we are really thankful that he got accepted in Bull Shoals. We don't know so much about the place yet, but the basic information that we have is enough for us to decide that it's time to make that one big change. Bull Shoals is like 3 hours and 30 minutes away from Ozark and a few degrees cooler which is a good thing in the summertime but probably a curse to me in the winter. We'll be driving there tomorrow to look at the area and hopefully scout a nice place to rent.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The best 2 years of my life in the U.S.

Two special occasions happen in October so I claim it to be our month. My birthday and our U.S. wedding anniversary. I got over excited that I failed to remember that there is something else to celebrate in September. It was hubby that reminded me about September 12th. Today is the 2nd anniversary of my U.S. arrival. Oh yeah, how could I have forgotten about that? Our PI wedding is just what occupies my thoughts lately. I should have realized that if I hadn't come here in the first place, there's no happy ending to Jenn & Jeff love story, lol. And no PI wedding to be planned in the future.

Wow, 2 years! Where did it go? Time flies, doesn't it? If I would summarize those years into few words, I'd say it was years of a blissful relationship with hubby, personal and cultural adjustments, and living the reality of life in the U.S. Whoa! That was an astute analysis. Well, what I was really trying to say is that those two years were spent eating a lot, I mean a whole lot in restaurants, thus explained the disgusting weight gain, lol! Not to mention the several travels we've made to different places in the U.S. plus numerous food binges in restaurants which again contribute to the 20-pound weight gain. Shuccks! I must add the crazy weekend shopping I have done for the past 2 years which of course always ended with eating out, which obviously by now you probably realize why have I gained so much weight in just 2 years. Arrggghhh!

Well, 2 years of being here is not just everything about shallow things, of course! I have learned a lot. I have cried. I have laughed out loud, as in lol! I have been hurt. I have been loved. I have grown stronger and wiser. I have known better not to mistake a UPS truck with a military tank truck, lol! Yep, it took me 2 years to admit to you all that I have once mistaken a UPS truck delivering something to our house as a military truck loaded with notorious gunmen equivalent to the Abu-Sayaff in the Philippines. Boy, it scared the hell out of me! I didn't know if I should hide or run. At that time though, I was reading a book about the experience of an American missionary couple who were kidnapped by the Abu-Sayaff and how her husband died while she was able to survive, went back to the U.S., live through it all and share her tragic experience. I was halfway through the book when that weird-looking UPS truck pulled into our driveway and drove me nuts, hahahaha! (Sus, palusot pa jud! Dili nalang jud muangkon na ignorante pa ko adto!) But you know what, there may have been good and bad times during those 2 years but what I am really thankful for is that...through it husband has always been with me, never failing to love, to care, to protect and to give me unconditional support when I need it the most. (He thinks the UPS experience was cute! Waahhh!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ceremony at Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

I have always wanted to get married in Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. I knew in my heart that one day, I'd be walking down the aisle in this historical piece of architecture. When my chance to get married came along, I have only one church in mind. However, just to be on the safe side, I have thought of a few other church options, just in case I won't get lucky enough to get booked at my first church of choice. But after going through church requirements preparation, I was finally booked at Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. The ceremony is at 4:00 P.M. and dinner reception follows at 5:30 P.M.

Why Cathedral, you might ask? Well, aside from the apparent beauty and grandeur of the architecture inside and out, this church brings back a lot of cherished grade school memories. My sister and I went to school at YLAC Elementary School from Grades I-VI. It is a free Catholic school run by RVM sisters which is situated right at the back of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. During major examinations time, my sister and I, along with my mom who brings and picks us up from school would hang out on a small, comfy, cool shaded area right beside the church at lunch time. Mom would help us review for the exams. On occasions when our school had to attend mass, all grade schoolers would march to Cathedral escorted by our teachers and principal. Since my wedding is a very personal occasion, I think it's just fitting to include venues and people who were part of who I am. Considering how many brides would like to get married on the months of December and January, I just feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be wed here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An expression of beauty: Florist and maquillage artist

Kalidades is my wedding florist. We had a bad experience with my sister's florist 5 years ago. The supplier seemed nice and good but on the day of the event, it turned out that the choice of flowers and the arrangement itself are not what she promised to us when we signed the deal. She told us she's gonna use imported flowers but you can hardly see imported in her arrangement. That's why I have always been wary with my decision on which florist to get for my wedding. I don't need the fancy, very expensive floral decoration but I just want to get my money's worth, if you know what I mean. Flower arrangement is one of my least priorities as far as my wedding expenses is concerned. But I must say, it still made a great chunk from our budget. If I had a choice, I wouldn't spend that much for my flowers but after spending a great deal of time looking for a good but affordable florist, I realized that in this time and age, I have made a reasonable deal. I just hope that unlike my sister's supplier, they would be true to their word with me. I may not get the exact arrangement in the photo for my reception, but I'd like to have something similar. I think gazebos look romantic and chic.

Now, I'm going to talk about my make-up artist. He is Emi Ayag. She's pretty, isn't she? Much prettier than the bride, I would say, lol! Definitely one of the best make-up artists in town! It comes with a hefty professional fee, but I don't mind as long as he's going to make me look the best version of me on my wedding day. The last thing I would want is to look pasty white and fake-looking on my big day so I invested a little bit more for my make-up artist.

I am almost done booking my major wedding suppliers. I still need to do some more when I go home in November but at least I have taken care of the most important details. Truly, weddings are stressful but this is my dream wedding so I'd like to be very hands-on in choosing the people who's going to help me make this day a fab and memorable one.