Amish Cheese House in Chouteau, OK

Oh hello Amish goods heaven!

I’ve always thought that the Amish population were concentrated in the Northeastern region of the US. We’ve come across an Amish settlement in Pennsylvania and heard from friends that there are other Amish settlements in Ohio.

So imagine the surprise we had when we started seeing billboards promoting “The Amish Cheese House” driving along the Interstate 69 from Texas to Kansas City.

Amish in Oklahoma? For real?

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My winter sniffles magic tea

My winter season sniffle saviour

With the cold weather, unfortunately, comes all kinds of sickies – the sniffles, the coughs and, if you’re real unlucky, the flu. And with the exorbitant costs of health care (Check out our dental care damage here) in the US, “Bawal magkasakit” is the mantra of everyone living here.

Hence, prevention is key. And one of the best preventive measures I’ve discovered back when I was in Dubai, is magic tea.

Well, I used to easily purchase packets of Sri Lankan Ayuvedric Samahan tea at our neighborhood small grocers. But now that I cannot seem to find any Samahan tea at our Asian supermarkets. Believe me, I have tried and searched far and wide in all sorts of Asian markets – the East Asian kind, the South Asian kind and the Middle Eastern kind, to no success. So I decided to reverse engineer this magic tea.

I researched and I think I finally nailed it with the help of my Chef sister, who taught me how to make fermented fruit syrups.

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#TrailingSpouseStories: Christmas, then and now

Pretty Christmas lights

Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!

This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?

Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost :-)

I’ve known Marie Calica-Schiller when I was much younger and deep into competitive swimming. I have fallen out of love with the sport and turned to eating (LOL!), while Marie continued to stay on the fitness track with rock climbing, yoga and more. On top of that, she was a magazine editor at one of the best women’s magazines in Philippines, a make up artist, beauty & fitness writer and a barre3 instructor. Talk about being multi-talented! 

She recently packed her bags and a couple of balikbayan boxes to join the love of her life in Switzerland, where she now is a yoga instructor and freelance writer. 

And this is her story.

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#TrailingSpouseStories on Christmas abroad: From tearful to tearless

HE is still the reason for the season

Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!

This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?

Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost :-)

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What Thanksgiving means to the expat me

Gobble! Gobble! Aja eating eating! (Photo taken by The Husband)

I never celebrated “Thanksgiving” per se when I grew up in the Philippines. It was just something I read in books, saw on TV and in the movies. To me, the most memorable Hollywood Thanksgiving scene was from “The Addams Family Values”, where Wednesday and Pugsley performed in their summer camp’s reenactment of the first Thanksgiving meal. (“Eat me!” said turkey cosume dressed Pugsley.)

Life went on as usual on the second-to-the-last Thursday of November. There was work. People didn’t go into a state of panic because of their Thanksgiving menu and Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. There was no roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the table. There were no TV specials: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NFL Thanksgiving games, or the infamous Puppy Bowl (i.e. dog shows aired on TV for non-American football enthusiasts). There were no decades old Thanksgiving traditions to continue.

It was an alien celebration until I set foot in this country.

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Mexico City Extreme Layover: I-94 edition

Waiting for our return flight to the US

It was the first time that I travelled so light. When I travel by air, I usually have one suitcase or, at least, a backpack and my handbag. This time around, I didn’t need that suitcase neither that backpack.

All I brought along was a handbag.

The Husband and I flew out to Mexico City, Mexico in the morning, then flew back into Texas later that afternoon. He just needed to update his I-94 form that was set to expire later this month. The I-94 is a piece of paper (Well, it used to be since the US CIS digitized this particular visa related document recently) that states the specific date that you are legally allowed to stay in the US. This form is entirely different from your US visa.

How so?

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LC’s BBQ in Kansas City, MO

Our LC’s BBQ Burnt Ends feast

When you know that a visit to a place is most likely once in a lifetime, you take it all in, as much as you can, in the limited time you have been given.We were in Kansas City for two weeks and we’d never know when we’d get the chance to visit again.

I actually hit a BBQ wall after non-stop Kansas City BBQing in other places. I never had so much meat in my life that my jaws, stomach (and A$s) were screaming for a break. My body was craving for fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.

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Those little winter woes

Stairway to winter? Hell yeah!

Oh winter is really coming.

Daylight Savings Time has ended (the concept to be discussed in a separate post…it deserves one); clocks were adjusted to an hour back. Plus the other day, it was so cold that I added the extra layer – a wool blanket / bed sheet – on our already bed sheet covered mattress to help keep us warm through the colder nights.

I used to be excited to experience real winter, not the kind that we experienced in Dubai. You know the winter in the song “Winter Wonderland”, the winter when “Frosty the Snowman” frolicked with ear muffed, scarfed children stomping through the blanket of shiny white snow or sledding down the hill, the winter where everyone gathered in front of a roaring fireplace, the winter when you’d lie down in the snow and flap your arms and legs to create snow angels?

That winter with the biting cold and, most importantly, snow. And lucky for us, since we live in North Texas, we still get to experience a little bit of snow.

But winter, even if the snow showers are hypnotising, dazzling (I can stare at it as long as the snow falls – maybe a relatively shorter time here in Texas), can be a pain. There are just these little things that I never imagined would make life a little more challenging during the cold months.

How so? Let’s go through a number of day-to-day winter concerns one by one…

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Prospero’s Books in Kansas City, MO

The bookstore on the corner

I was a bookstore hound then. I still am now.

I spent hours, browsing through shelves in fluorescent lighted, commercial bookstores. Almost everything in it was shiny and new. On some days, we’d visit second hand bookstores bathing in the same intense fluorescent whiteness on equally white vinyl flooring with floor to ceiling shelves and cardboard boxes filled with yellow paged, dog-eared preloved books.

Yeah, these bookstores served me well then, providing me with all the books my parents and my own money could buy, but somehow they weren’t the kind of bookstores that actually told a story. This is why, here, I am always on the lookout for bookstores with a story.

Prospero’s Books in Kansas City, Missouri was one of those bookstores.

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#TrailingSpouseStories: The shoes should fit

We all wish we could bring this much (Photo by Eliot Phillips)

Welcome to the inaugural run of the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl hosted by Tala Ocampo and myself.

This November we talk about our First Voyage as trailing spouses and what we’ve brought with us, rather: what’s in your suitcase? Please, please see the end of the post for other #TrailingSpouseStories.

Today, I chat with Cathrina Legaspi-Del Prado. I’ve known her since gradeschool. Later on, she continued to become a flight attendant based in the same geographical region I was. Hers was a more interesting country though: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But she’s left the jet setter flight attendant life in Saudi (whew!) to join her husband in Texas. Now we’re in the same region again!

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