Hall of Mirrors

One of creative attractions to see in City Museum, St. Louis, MO

Boracay Island, Philippines

Breathtaking view from a helicopter

My First Snow

A peaceful snowy day of early 2012

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Dec 1, 2012

My new hobby -- Couponing!

I haven't been active on Swagbucks.com lately because I started to learn how to use coupons and before I knew it -- I got addicted to couponing! Yep! I have been shopping more frequently than before I used coupons. Saved some bucks too! I am not going to post a how-to-use-coupons guide because there are a lot of coupon blogs and sites that have tutorials about how to use them. All you gotta do is read, read, read or watch video tutorials online.

What I do is print coupons over the Internet since I don't buy newspapers.

Here are the sites I regularly visit to find deals.

Look how much I got for using coupons in just three months!

Stockpiling or Hoarding?

Sep 23, 2012

Aspiring couponista

Learning the ropes of a couponista. I sat on the floor at Target trying to combine coupons and find the best deals but I got so confused. It was fun though.

Aug 16, 2012

Fedex SmartPost vs. UPS Shipping

I am expecting two shipments in one order from Amazon.com (free stuff agan because of Swagbucks I know I said was going to post about it lol). One package was sent through UPS and the other package through Fedex Smartpost. It is very interesting to compare the two shipping services as both couriers shipped my items on the same date. So in real time I can compare their services.

I track both packages on Packagetrackr.com - an all-in-one tracking tool for all shipments and what I love about this site is that it includes a visual route of a package using Google Maps. It's a cool way of understanding where and how far your package is. For me, a picture or an illustration is easier to understand than mere updates like scan updates, etc. Below are the screenshots from Packagetrackr.com of my shipment tracking info.

Fedex SmartPost route originated in Indianapolis, IN. Photo insert is the item to be delivered.

UPS route originated in Louisville, KY.  Photo insert is the item to be delivered.

The green computer icons are the shipment scans. As you can see UPS route is slightly further compared to Fedex's route but as of this writing my item from UPS is to be delivered today while Fedex tomorrow based on the tracking details. However, USPS received my item yesterday so I might receive today we'll see.

Here is what I figured out SmartPost takes longer because they utilize USPS which does their own tracking and sorting time so time between that is critical as to when you would actually receive your package. Bottom-line is Amazon.com or any business that uses SmartPost are the ones that fully gain the advantage not the customers.

Jul 18, 2012

Amazon.com Free Super Saver Shipping Review

I am excited to receive my first and free Amazon.com order. Free because I used Amazon gift cards I snagged from Swagbucks. I will have to post about how I got free gift cards and what Swagbucks is. But for now I want to share my experience with Amazon's shipping service -- the Free Super Saver Shipping (SSS). It's free shipping when you order eligible products that reach at least $25.

As you know, it was my first time to place an order online so I'm pretty excited in receiving it. I tried to combine items to take advantage of the Free Super Saver Shipping but I ended up redoing my orders until I settled for one and placed an order on July 10, 2012. The delivery estimate is on July 19, 2012 as shown on the picture below based on my Amazon.com order summary.

I learned that Amazon.com uses various carriers like the USPS, Fedex, UPS and a regional carrier in the area.  For the Free Super Saver Shipping Amazon utilizes Fedex SmartPost where the final delivery is serviced by the USPS. I searched reviews about SSS and Fedex SmartPost most of them are negative reviews -- not a good impression for me. Although I had to give the shipping services benefit of the doubt because a free shipping is obviously going to take days or weeks. If you want free, be ready to wait. Duh.

Anyways, I have been checking the shipping status since it was shipped the next day July 11, 2012 (hooray!) The screenshot below is from Fedex tracking page. So my package just got forwarded to USPS today but I wasn't pleased with the adjusted delivery date a day later than the original delivery date. I don't like how Fedex adjusted the delivery date and still indicate it's on schedule.

I tracked it on USPS site and below is the screenshot. Maybe my package will arrive on time after all. Now it's in the hands of USPS. We'll see...... This post won't be a complete review until I receive my package.

Update: I received my order ON TIME! Yahooo! I was so happy and satisfied with the Free Super Saver Shipping from Amazon. It took 7 days excluding Sunday. So far so good I'm definitely using their free shipping again.

Jul 14, 2012

The Second Step: Applying for K-1 Visa

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing, and NVC will send it to the U.S. Embassy where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.

I remember my excitement after our petition got approved but I was very confused on what to do next. Below are the processes I did prior to applying the K-1 Visa.
  • Obtain your Manila Case Number from NVC - call/email NVC after you receive the NOA2 (Approval Notice from USCIS) between 2-3 weeks. 
    Note: Visa interview may be set up before OR after the medical exam. In my case, I scheduled my interview AFTER I completed medical exam.  Also, don't wait for the Packet 4 because the U.S Embassy seldom send them to the applicants and it would arrive late usually and I never received mine. But here is the link to Packet 4
  • Your  fiancé(e) can proceed to a complete medical exam at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview Applicants are advised to have their medical examinations done at least one week before their interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Click here for the Medical Exam required documents. I suggest register online because you will skip the registration process at SLMCEC so you save time.
    Current Medical Exam Fee:  $223.00 - SLMCEC does not accept credit card or dollar payments. The fees must be paid in Philippine pesos at the prevailing exchange rate.  
Documents I brought with me for my medical exam
  • Make sure your income meets the current  Poverty Guidelines because it is a strict requirement that you can support your  fiancé(e) when she/he arrives to the U.S and some applicants have been denied or delayed the process of a visa because of this. Click here for the current Poverty Guidelines.
  • Pay the Visa Fee at any BPI Branch (your Passport Number will be the Receipt Number.) Wait 3-4 hours before scheduling your interview date.
  • You may either call U.S Embassy and have them schedule your interview or you may set it up online: www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/  
  • Below are the documents I prepared:
  • BPI Receipt
  • Visa Interview confirmation 
  • PASSPORT. You must have a passport valid for at least six (6) months. 
  • Form DS-156 (2) copies 
  • Form DS-157 (2) copies 
  • DS-156K (1) copy 
  • Visa Photos (3) copies. I pasted two of them on the Form DS-156
  • EVIDENCE OF A GENUINE ENGAGEMENT. Photos, e-mails, chat transcripts, Western Union Receipts, engagement ring receipt
  • Form  I-134 Affidavit of Support (Original copy) 
  • Supporting documents: Form W-2 (2010-2008), ITR 2010, Recent Pay Stubs, Letter of Employment, Bank Statement, US Petitioner's Birth Certificate
  • We also prepared our co-sponspor's documents just in case the CO would determine that my husband (fiance at that time) didn't meet the Poverty Level required. But the Consul didn't ask for it so I was very relieved. 

Jul 12, 2012

The First Step: Filing the Petition

You, the U.S. citizen sponsor, must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live. You will send your petition to the address below:

The USCIS Dallas Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
Attn: I-129F
2501 South State Highway 121 Business 
Suite 400 
Lewisville, TX 75067

Current Filing Fee: $340.00 (Money orders or personal check are accepted. Click: Guidance on paying immigration fees)

Required Forms for the petition:
Form I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
G-325A - Biographic Information
G-1145 - (Optional) Clip this form to the first page of your application (on top of the cover page). By completing this form and attaching it, USCIS will send you an email and/or text message to alert you when your application was received.

Here is how we assembled our K-1 Packet.
Cover Letter - this is optional but it helped organize our documents
Payment ($340.00) Payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Form I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
I-129F Supplement: Part B, Question 18, explanation of meeting in person
G-325A and passport style photo (Petitioner)
G-325A and passport style photo (Beneficiary)
Birth certificate/US Passport (Petitioner)
Letter certifying intent to marry (Petitioner and Beneficiary)
Proof of having met in person in the past two years (Pictures, visa stamps, boarding passes)
Proof of ongoing relationship (Western Union receipts, chat transcripts)

Make sure to sign and date the forms. Triple-check everything before sending your petition to USCIS. Good luck on filing your petition!

P.S. below is our K-1 Timeline
03-24-2011 Filed i-129F Petition for Fiance(e)
04-06-2011 NOA1
07-11-2011 NOA2
07-15-2011 NOA2 (Hard Copy)
11-02-2011 Visa Interview
11-25-2011 POE (Chicago)
01-27-2012 Civil Wedding

Personal Experience

Jun 18, 2012

What is a K-1 Visa?

If you are a U.S Citizen and your fiancé(e) is overseas and you want to marry in the United States. This visa lets your fiancé(e) enter the United States for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place in the United States. Once you marry, your spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the United States while the USCIS processes the application.

While the K-1 Visa is legally classified as a nonimmigrant visa, it usually leads to important immigration benefits and is therefore often processed by the Immigrant Visa section of United States Embassies and Consulates worldwide. If the non US Citizen fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 non-immigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of the children on the I-129F petition.

What are the basic eligibility requirements for a fiancé(e) petition? 
You must be a U.S. citizen to file a fiancé(e) petition. In your petition, you must show that: 
You are a U.S. citizen;
You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States;
You are both free to marry; and
You have met each other in person  within 2 years before you file this petition. However, there are two exceptions which require a waiver:
– If the requirement to meet your fiancé(e) in person would violate strict and long- established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
– If you prove that the requirement to personally meet your fiancé(e) would result in extreme hardship to you.


Related Posts: The First Step: Filing the Petition
                            Getting Married on a K-1 Visa

May 25, 2012

Silly Sleep Positions by Ninja Cat!

oh yeah!

Such a hard day today

A big leap of faith

 I grew up going to airport waiting areas to either meet or see off my mom, aunts, their husbands, and cousins. I've had always wondered what it's like to be behind departure doors, take care of luggage and all airport transactions for the flight. I thought it must be exciting to board a plane, leave to a different country... leave everything behind instead of being left behind.

Leap of faith

Six months ago I took a leap of faith and was aboard this plane. A choice that changed my life in just 24 hours. I remember the mixed emotions and I was right it was exciting to do all the airport stuff, however it felt odd that I'd be the one leaving this time. Excited and sad at the same time.

Anyways, I arrived right in the middle of Fall so it was very cold for me. That was the major adjustment I had to deal with and I hated the bitter winter coldness. It was the mildest winter I experienced so imagine that.. Pfffft.

Half a year away and am still adjusting to everything... Taking it all one at a time. My new life now  is like a blank sheet of paper waiting for me to write on and I hope to write good things on it.

May 23, 2012

Introducing a new cat

This post is about Spider's progress as he adjusts in our home. Introducing a cat to its new home is stressful for it especially if you don't understand their needs.
I have had searched articles and tips on how to introduce cats into the house. Here is one article I read:
I didn't and couldn't follow all the tips but it was helpful in understanding cats' behavior.

Day 1 - Spider was very scared and skittish; he was able explore the whole house though; he hid a lot; hissed at the towel which has Ninja's scent.
Spooky Spider!
Day 2 - Spider survived his first night. He seems to hide in the basement, still a little skittish
Day 3 - Both cats have been touching noses in greeting; unsuccessful attempts in sniffing Ninja's butt; Spider's hissing stopped
Day 4 - Spider walks around the house casually; placed both bowls of cat food across each other
Day 5 - More nose touching in friendly greeting; Spider still tries to sniff Ninja's butt (LOL!)
Day 6 - Both cats are familiar with each other's scent and can be close to each other

Day 7 - Spider has been running around the house and is now comfortable with his new home
Day 8 - Starting today they share a bowl of cat food and so far no growling or hissing

Day 9 - Successful butt sniffing! Well, Spider did it while Ninja was busy eating
Day 15 - They chase each other playfully. Yay!

We're so glad both cats are getting along quite well. They're not yet buddy-buddies but I'm sure it'll happen soon.

May 17, 2012

Getting married on a K-1 Visa

After two vacations to the Philippines, Greg and I decided to start the K-1 process. It is also known as the Fiance(e) Visa, a faster visa process than the Spousal Visa and it requires the applicant to marry the U.S Citizen fiance(e) within 90 days after the applicant's U.S entry.  This way we weren't rushed into marriage first  -- main reason why we chose it. 

We waited seven months from date of filing to visa approval but average wait time is 4-6 months. We wanted to make sure we were ready for the interview and everything fell in place like a puzzle. Surely good things do happen to those who wait. :-) It was a stressful wait, somehow we saw it as a blessing in disguise. We were tested by distance, how far we could endure being apart from each other for a year.

I was quite proud with how we filed the paperwork because there were no lacking documents plus the fact that we didn't hire an immigration attorney and I recommend NOT to get an immigration attorney because you are going to save a lot of money, no arguments and some of them aren't sure of the process itself or even lazy to file your application promptly. For us, the tedious hours of gathering all paperwork were worth it.

So this is just a summary of my whole experience as a K-1 Visa Holder. Below is my K-1 Visa timeline:

03-24-2011 Filed i-129F Petition for Fiance(e)
04-06-2011 NOA1
07-11-2011 NOA2
07-15-2011 NOA2 (Hard Copy)
11-02-2011 Visa Interview
11-25-2011 POE (Chicago)
01-27-2012 Civil Wedding

Related Topic: What is a K-1 Visa?

May 15, 2012

Online Shopping: Wholesale-dress.net Review

Two years ago my Facebook News Feed was full of  friends being tagged with pictures of fashionable clothing with prices that ranged from Php 400 - Php 1,000 plus which is ridiculously pricey. Curiosity got the better of me so I searched on the internet and found the site Wholesale-dress.net They offer a wide range of products from women's clothes to Cosplay costumes. The prices aren't too bad either.

I ordered a few times but I got disappointed with most of the dresses. Well, I should have known better -- they're made in China! Made of cheap fabrics and just copies of dresses in magazines which the company uses as product photos. I guess you get what you pay for.

The chat support was bad too because of poor customer service and bad communication skills. I remember I complained to this chat agent about a rip in the dress when I received it. She just told me to sew it because it's just a tiny rip. I got mad of course there shouldn't be a rip in any dress  you bought!

Anyways, below are pictures of some stuff I purchased from them. I still have some $7.00 credit but I don't know if I'll purchase again. Also, I purchased enough items that I got access to their database of product photos.

May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

"Shoutout to all the moms out there for the undying love for your child. No one can fathom that love unless you're a mom yourself."

I searched for Mother's Day quotes but I couldn't find an appropriate one which doesn't sound too proper so I just wrote my own. This year is quite a different Mother's Day celebration for me. Most friends I know back in the Philippines just had babies and I have a mother-in-law now. 

At my age I still could not fathom how it is to become a mother. It is more than providing for your child it is when you realize in your heart you are ready for this kind of love that binds with the responsibilities. I see the happiness in some of my friends' faces after giving birth. I see the new strength and it is amazing. But I cannot picture myself in that scenario... maybe one day it will come. Maybe not. 

All I know for now is that I am enjoying my time with my hubby. There is so much to see, so much to do to build our future. Only time will tell if I find in my heart that I will be ready to give a mother's love.

CD-R King USB Flash Disk Durability

A week ago I found my USB Flash drive in the dryer and I was like "Uh oh this is definitely broke." I tested it right away and to my surprise it still worked like it didn't get machine washed and tumble dried. I wasn't only surprised because it just got washed but because the brand is known for cheap product parts. I was glad that for the value of money it is durable.

CD-R King is a media & technology provider in the Philippines. Their computer related products are affordable so they are a known brand although some of their products have less life span.

Here is the link to the flash drive that I own:

May 3, 2012

New member in our home

On April 25th we welcomed a new addition to our family. His name is Spider and we got him from my hubby's friend. He is very friendly and affectionate but he dislikes being picked up. A toughie but a sweetie :) 

Now, our Ninja cat is opposite he likes to be picked up but not cuddly. He won't even come to you if you call him he has a mind of his own. I think he was an old aristocrat in his old life. He looks tough but actually a coward. 
Do I look proper in my fur coat?

May 1, 2012

About Me

This is my nth attempt in blogging over the years. All of my blogs never got updated and got stale. I had no internet at home so it was difficult and inconvenient when I needed to check on my blog. This time should be different now I have all the resources. 

So my blog is all about my insights in my everyday life, experiences,  information or just anything I want to share.


Apr 30, 2012

Memorex SingStand™: Karaoke Home System

Filipinos love to sing and a karaoke system at home is a common electronic device to own. But I have had always wondered if there was such a device that would enable my computer to become a karaoke machine instead of buying a CD player with karaoke system. It would just take up space and I would have to buy karaoke CDs  -- more expenses then.

The Memorex SingStand™ was the answer for me! It's innovative and doesn't take up space.

I love how you can connect your iPod or any MP3 Player to it and you can sing your heart out to your favorite songs.

At the base are the speakers, controls and line-in connections. I am using the SingStand™ as my PC speakers which has crisp sound I love so much!

Here are the complete list of the product features:
  • Sing along with music from iPod device or any MP3 device with headphone jack with 3.5mm line-in connection
  • Auto Voice Control (AVC) is your built-in vocal guide
  • Enhanced vocal effects with echo
  • Powerful speakers built into base (Two 4W speakers)
  • Connect keyboard to play with band
  • Cable management clips
  • Dual microphone inputs for singing duets (one dynamic microphone included)
  • Keyboard input

  • Microphone / digital audio player holder (audio line in cable)
  • Dynamic 10ft. corded microphone
  • 3pc adjustable pole

Visit the site at SingStand™