Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Update About My Biolomix Blender, 2 Years Later

Literally 2 years ago I shared that I purchased a heavy duty blender from Aliexpress, a Vitamin knock off called the Biolomix blender. I shared a review of it not long after it arrived, but 2 years later, I still get questions about my blender, whether I still like it, whether it was worth the purchase, if I'd recommend it to others, etc...

Today, my friend Rachel asked me about my blender, which was perfect timing, considering that it is currently on my mind.

So, to put it short, do I still recommend this blender, now that I've had it for 2 years? Do I still think it was worth the money?

A reminder, it cost me $108.81 including shipping for the blender, two jars, a dry jar and a wet jar, and a tamper. The Vitamix equivalent would cost nearly 10 times that amount locally, and costs 4 times that in the US, from what I'm told.

The answer? A resounding yes. Yes I like it. Yes I still use it. Yes, I think it's worth it. Yes, you should get it.

But there are caveats.

Ready to Get On Board to Self Care? Here are Things You Can Gift Yourself

Self care is super important. Don't neglect yourself, thinking you aren't worth it, especially if you make sure that your family members get what they need. If you have decided that you want to do some self care, and your love language is gifts, show yourself some love by getting yourself something nice. Here's some ideas of how you can gift yourself. 

Often times we will give gifts to other people for their birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and during the holidays. It can be very rewarding giving gifts to your family and friends but sometimes you need to spend a little money on yourself, so you can be happy and enjoy life to the fullest. Self care products are some of the best gifts to get yourself because they will help with your overall well being and keep you healthy. If you are ready to get on board and learn about some of the best self care gifts then check out some of these great options.

How Blu Tack Saved Me Over $50 and Lots of Time

So a few months ago I shared how one of my plain toilet seats that came with my house broke, and I used the chance to update my toilet seats to something that is in line with the color scheme that I have for my bathrooms. I mentioned, though, that after they arrived I realized just how impossible it was for me to actually install it myself, due to the shape and size of one of the bathrooms, and my lack of dexterity for another.

I started installing the toilet seat in my bathroom, the one bathroom where my body actually fit, but because of my clumsiness and the need to get the different parts aligned exactly a specific way, I was having lots of problems.

I've included an image of instructions on how I was supposed to put it together.

As I mentioned in the previous post, it may seem pretty simple, but it was much more complicated than it sounded, specifically because I was working against gravity, and only had to do everything one handed because of the angle. I needed to somehow get piece number 2 to stay up while I put on the bolt, and oh, it doesn't show you the washer that needs to be there too. And that you need this "key" type thing to screw the bolt in under the toilet. And while I was fumbling around the first time, piece number one got lost, as did piece number two, falling into a crack between my toilet pipes and tiles, irretrievable unless I the tile to retrieve it.

But somehow I managed, sort of. I ended up adding an additional washer and using a piece from the toilet seat I just removed to get one of the screws on, and then was stuck with the other screw and hired a professional to come do it, and because he was already coming to my house to do something else, he ended up charging me $40 per toilet. But had he done just one, he would have charged more, because he takes a minimum charge per home visit.

Anyhow, I thought my toilet seat issues were done, but unfortunately the job I did screwing that one side in, with the missing pieces, really caused issues. It wasn't tight enough and it caused the bolt to slide around so much that it no longer held the toilet seat in place. The toilet seat refused to stay on the toilet, even though I kept hooking it back into the hooks. And then because of all the sliding around, different pieces from the seat broke off, and the lid separated from the seat. I had a fix it guy come to my house to fix something else and I asked him to take a look at my toilet seat and see how it can be fixed, and he told me that because too many pieces were missing, it wasn't fixable. (I finally found out what happened to the missing pieces- one of my kids flushed them down the toilet when they fell in.)  

Basically, every single time I'd use the toilet I'd get really irritated, because the seat had no cover and was floating on nothing and my bathroom became a source of frustration.

I decided to buy myself a new seat, found one that looked better quality than the one I had before, and today I arrived.

I nearly hired a professional to install it, and then I had an epiphany. Recently when shopping, I decided to pick up some Blu Tack aka sticky tack. Today, I realized that with some tack I could install the toilet seat myself, clumsy me, one handed and all!

Is Forex Trading Worth the Risk?

If you have money in savings, you might have thought to invest it and grow your money. There are many different ways to invest, and some of them are stocks, and others is forex trading. Both of them can be pretty risky, so this post sent in by reader Joel explains how Forex works and tackles whether or not it is worth the risk. At the end of the day, this is just my two cents- consider it a gamble, and don't invest money you can't afford to lose.

Forex trading allows for the exchange of international currencies, and like it's stock market counterpart, it is associated with a level of risk. A lot of speculation occurs within foreign currency exchange given its high level of volatility and liquidity, but this doesn't mean it doesn't have a place in your investment profile. If you're interested in reaching your investment goals and using Forex trading as a medium, you might be evaluating the risk and reward of these platforms.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Homemade Vegan Nasi Goreng Recipe, Delicious Indonesian Fried Rice, Gluten Free, Frugal, Paleo Option

Growing up, as far as I knew, there was one dish called fried rice. And it was made the way my dad made it. Rice. Veggies. Soy sauce, chicken broth, ginger, garlic, sugar, vinegar. That's it. And supposedly its origins were in China. But then I learned there are infinite varieties of fried rice, mostly Asian, oh, and on my trip to Greece this last summer, I found out there is also a Greek rice called "fried rice".

This type of fried rice, Nasi Goreng, is Indonesian in origin, though they do make it around the world, and it is a staple in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands. I only learned about it recently, when I saw someone say that it was her favorite dish, and looking it up, there are so many varieties of it, each recipe as different as the next. However, there were some things I noticed that made it different than the "standard" Chinese fried rice that I grew up in.

Number one, is the fish. Nasi Goreng nearly always has shrimp paste, and sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. Secondly, there are many varieties that have candlenuts in it. And then it often has ketchup or tomatoes in the sauce, and it also often has nutmeg and turmeric in it. (I thought to myself "why nutmeg?" but then saw a video on Indonesia where it explained that it is one of its national crops, so that started making sense to me.)

These flavors together sounded wacky and far fetched to me, to be honest. But if its such a common and popular food there and around the world, it must taste good. I already learned to overcome reluctance to put tomatoes with soy sauce (as I was taught as a kid) when I learned about Japanese yakisoba noodles, but still this combination threw me for a loop.

After having learned about the trick of putting ground nori in recipes instead of shellfish to give it a fishy taste for my laksa recipe, I decided to give it a try here.

I will admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about trying this out, so I made it when my kids were in bed and just a small enough batch for me, so that in case it didn't taste good, I wouldn't have a lot of waste.

But oh boy, my apprehension was for nothing. It tastes amazing and wonderful and I had enough left for my kids to try it and they were sad that there wasn't more and asked me to please make it again. Which I will, especially now that I overcame this hurdle and see just how delicious it can be.

Picking Up New Furniture To Liven Up A Room

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you need to change up how your home is. Some people think that you need to do an entire renovation to fix up your home. But sometimes just changing some furniture can make the entire environment look different. Here's some tips.

Of all the aspects of interior décor, furniture is among the most important ones. Your home’s curb appeal, functionality, and convenience largely depend on the pieces of furniture you choose to place in the various rooms. But just like anything else, furniture pieces succumb to wear and tear over the years, thus needing replacement. Also, it may reach a point where you decide it’s time to give your interior décor a major makeover. When moving to a new home (which may be bigger, smaller, or have a different décor design), the need to get new furniture may also arise. But sometimes you just feel that your old furniture makes your home look boring and you decide it’s time to liven the space up and give it a fresh new look. So how exactly should you choose furniture pieces for the various rooms? Here are some tips you want to read on the considerations you need to make when picking up new furniture to liven up a room.

Homemade Fish Free Curry Laksa Recipe -- Southeast Asian Spicy Noodle Soup, Allergy Friendly, Kosher, Vegan Option

It's a cold and stormy night, and tonight I found the thing that makes it all worth it- a delicious rich and spicy soup, perfect for a night such as this.

I'm the type of person that sees a picture of a food and can imagine what it'll taste like, and ends up craving it, just from a picture, despite never having tasted it beforehand. A few weeks ago I heard about laksa for the first time, a curried southeast Asian soup, popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. I looked it up and found that it generally is made with shellfish, something that I personally don't eat, but did find a recipe for vegan laksa paste, the base for the soup. I literally had recipes for laksa sitting on my open tabs on my browser the entire time, so I wouldn't lose them, and to remind myself to make it, and finally tonight, after having been out in the cold rain and not having eaten the whole day, I decided to make it.

And it is superb. I combined a few different recipes, mainly this one and this one for the paste, and another one that I can't find for the soup, and the result is mouthwatering and scrumptious, perhaps my new favorite soup.

Oh, and it is also super easy to make, once you have the laksa paste. The laksa paste lasts a week in the fridge, but can be frozen as well. Or you can just buy it.

With the laksa paste, you can make a vegan soup or not- I made mine with chicken this time, but in the future plan on doing it vegan. And unlike most laksa recipes that have fish, this recipe works for people with allergies to fish and shellfish, as well as those who follow a kosher diet and don't mix meat and fish as found in many laksa recipes that aren't shellfish based. There's no nuts in this recipe, its gluten free, and I've included a soy free option so that this is free of the top 8 allergens, and the only common allergen in it is coconut. If you leave out the noodles, or use zoodles or spaghetti squash, this recipe is also paleo, and is low carb too.

Basically, this recipe is good for nearly anyone, as long as you enjoy delicious, spicy, and coconut. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Oh, and lastly? I replaced all the hard to find or expensive ingredients with easier and cheaper ones, to keep down the cost. Still tastes awesome.

There are many different versions of laksa, but from what I see, this version is most similar to Cibinong laksa, from Indonesia.

P.S. If you're wondering what the taste is like, I do find a similarity between it and Thai green curry paste, with many of the same ingredients, but it definitely has differences, because the proportion of ingredients in the recipe are quite different.

Homemade Fish Free Curry Laksa Recipe -- Southeast Asian Spicy Noodle Soup, Allergy Friendly, Kosher, Vegan Option

Teaching Kids To Cook

My kids love cooking with me. They definitely enjoy it more than I enjoy them cooking with me, but I have them cook with me because despite the mess and the extra time, it teaches kids great skills, and I want my children to love and have the knowledge of cooking. Here's some tips from Nancy Evans on how to teach your children to cook.

Every parent wants to raise happy and healthy children. One of the best and most fun ways to ensure that your child is on the path to success is to ensure that they have a healthy diet. Eating healthy is not always easy with the many options to eat out and grab a quick bagged snack, but it can be. Children love to help their parents. One way that we can encourage healthy eating is to encourage them to help us cook.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Treating Myself For My Birthday

My 32 birthday is coming up. Exactly a month from yesterday. The holidays were really enjoyable together with my kids and friends, I had a great time, but I must admit, as a single mom, not in any relationship now, and without a close relationship with my family, the whole gifting thing was difficult for me. I got my kids gifts and we did fun things together, and even though we did a Secret Santa thing with the family and my son Ike got me something, it didn't fulfill my gifting desires. One of the hardest things about being a single mom, to be honest, is feeling like there's no one there to get me a gift, to think of me and say "Here, I thought of you and wanted you to have this".

A friend of mine just died and she was a single mom for many years, and one thing she taught me was that as a single parent, you need to celebrate on your own. Throw yourself a birthday bash, treat yourself to something beautiful, don't wait for someone "special" to arrive in your life and do it for you.

So I decided that for my birthday, I will make a fun celebration with my friends, and I will get myself a wonderful gift. So many times the gifts that I get myself, when I do get something, are super cheap and nothing special, or they are something that I need, which doesn't feel really like a gift. But this time, I'm going to tell myself "I am worthwhile" and "I'm allowed to spend money on myself" and not just look for something that is cheap, but something that is high quality, that I'll treasure.

One of the things I strongly considered was buying myself a pair of beautiful but dainty solid gold earrings, because nearly all the jewelry I have is cheap costume jewelry, other than a bracelet I got from Mike when we were engaged, and I do like high quality jewelry.

However, though this was a strong consideration of mine, I decided to nix this because my daughter, Rose, is always rifling through my jewelry and "borrowing" my earrings, and sometimes even breaking them. Beautiful jewelry for myself will have to wait until she is a little older and/or learns to not take my things without permission.

How to Increase Your Customer Volume Within a Short Span

People have all sorts of reasons to need to increase their income drastically. Do you have an unavoidable expense coming up? A new child? Are you getting divorced and switching to a single income family? Whatever the reason, it can be hard to find ways to make up the discrepancy in your current income and your desired one. Here's some ways that can help.

Whether fierce competition from other businesses in the industry has recently arisen or your company is relatively new, learning how to increase customer volume is imperative. In addition to encouraging more customers to shop with your business, you want to implement these changes as quickly as possible without compromising on service.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Frugal Accomplishments These Past Two Weeks

I'm sitting here, Saturday, trying to remember what frugal things I did this past week (and I realized I didn't even share one of these last week!!), so I can share with you, and I'm not remembering it most of it. I'm feeling like this was a very unfrugal week, but as I'm sitting here trying to remember, I'm also reminding myself that I worked a lot these past two weeks, many hours more than I usually do, so even if I didn't do so many specifically money saving things these weeks, overall they were weeks that were good for my bank account, so that's that.

But that doesn't mean I didn't do anything frugal, it just means that the frugal things I did do are different than what I do other weeks.

Is Gluten Affecting the Health of Your Family?

As someone who has been off gluten nearly 9 years by now, sometimes I don't even realize that some people aren't aware of gluten, what health issues can be linked to it, and how to avoid it. Here's a submission from a reader for readers that are less informed about gluten; hopefully it'll help you improve you and your family's health.

Don’t let gluten slow you down or affect the health of your kids and loved ones.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Going gluten-free is a common trend these days. But for many people, it’s a necessity. If you’re one of the 18 million Americans who experience some form of gluten sensitivity, you’ll know all too well what we’re talking about.

Many people find that shortly after eating foods that contain gluten, they experience headaches, nausea, or bloated. While it is possible it’s due to overeating, many times these symptoms are a sign of something more serious.

The adverse effects of gluten can happen to anyone, adults and children alike. That means that if your child is frequently complaining of stomach and headaches, it could be a result of what they are eating.

No matter who may be showing signs, it’s important to take note of what the symptoms are and when they happen. If they become a common occurrence, it’s time to talk to your doctor.

By identifying the issue, you can take measures to begin improving your health and decrease the presence of these unpleasant symptoms. The first step is to gain a better understanding of gluten and what it’s doing to your body.

My Latest Frugal Shop

On Thursday, I realized that I needed to go grocery shopping. I had some spare time so I could do some comparison shopping, but I wanted to stay local as much as I could. There are two stores close to me that are walkable, and one has better prices for certain things, and the other has better prices for other items. Though I don't usually hit up both at once, this time I decided to do so.

First off, I went to the grocery store that has better prices on meat. They had a sale that many of the meat items would be discounted if you spent more than $60 on non sale items, but only 3 kilograms/6.6 lbs would be at that lower sale price.

I wasn't sure what to get, because lots of the items in the store that I wanted to get specifically were sale items, and what wasn't officially a sale item was low priced enough that I didn't think I'd manage to reach $60, but I looked around and tried to find items that I needed and would buy soon anyhow and use that to reach the $60.

How Do You Get Money From Your Life Insurance?

My best friend and ex recently reminded me that I need to take care of life insurance, beyond a communal one and a policy tied to my house, but frankly I'm clueless about this. Fortunately, thanks to this post, I am just a bit more knowledgeable on the subject now.

We live our lives hoping for the best, and we often believe that nothing can go wrong, which unfortunately isn’t very realistic. Things do go wrong. And that is something you need to be prepared for, or else you will needlessly suffer the consequences. The best way to be prepared is having insurance, whether that is a car, health, and/or more importantly, life insurance –– which is crucial if you are providing for a family as it will help secure them financially if you are gone. Still, even if and when you do get life insurance, things might not go wrong, not in terms of dying anyway. You might face some financial troubles that need an immediate solution. Well, in that case, you can get money from your life insurance, but how do you do that?

Friday, January 17, 2020

Buying Shoes For My Complicated Feet -- For Cheap!

Shoe shopping has not been easy for me, like ever. But it has gotten especially harder since I moved abroad. Shoe shopping has always led me to crying, because I can never find what I want in my size, and usually end up paying exorbitant prices for shoes I don't even like when I finally do find something that fits me.

When I was in the US in September, I stocked up on a bunch of dress shoes at Nordstrom Rack, and I'm really happy I did that, because now I finally have dress shoes that I like, that fit me, and are comfortable. (I only use a small amount of what I got, the rest is put away for when I need new shoes, and I'll just switch to some of the other pairs). I felt less of a need to buy sneakers for myself, because I can always go to the men's department for sneakers, which means that I can find them my size locally, even if they are expensive. I did look to see if they had good sneakers for myself while I was there, but I couldn't find anything specifically that was for my feet issues, so I decided not to just buy whatever.

Speaking of feet issues, about a year ago my feet were in incredible pain. I felt like the soles of my feet were constantly ripping, and my heels had sharp pains. This is a problem for someone who is working in cleaning, or teaching classes on her feet, or doesn't have a car. Ok, fine, painful feet is a problem, period, and it was making me very non functional. I went to a podiatrist who diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, and told me that my shoes were really bad for my feet, and were contributing to the issues I was having. He recommended that I get insoles for my plantar fasciitis and go buy myself some high quality name brand supportive sneakers, which, I'll admit, was hard for me to stomach, because I'm someone who grew up only ever wearing Payless shoes. But the shoes I was wearing were causing me pain. So a change needed to happen.

Personal Meat Slicers VS Knives

I want to start making home cured meats, but one of the things I was wondering about would be how to slice it like store bought deli meat, so that I could get the right texture and thickness that I wanted. This post sent to me comparing knives vs meat slicers offers me what to think about, and I hope you'll find it informative as well.

As humans, we love eating meat. Well, most people do. Our ancestors used to fight on the best parts of any animal that they catch. Cooking didn’t come until it fire was discovered, thus became the origin of the said activity. Even though there are a lot of other people who are trying to discourage others from eating meat, more humans around the world cannot live without it. We are known omnivores as we can eat almost anything that doesn’t have a poison. Some cultures even found ways of extracting poison and toxins from their food so that they can eat it safely. There’re still a lot of environmental and dietary implications of eating it according to this link, but for now people can’t have enough.

One of the best ways of enjoying meat is slicing through it first. Nothing can stop you from eating a hunk of meat and using your teeth to cut it. However, we are now living in a very different and more civilized era. You want to make sure that your meat is properly cut so you can eat it more politely.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Keeping Women's Bodies Healthy

I'll admit something. I grew up knowing more or less "how to keep my body healthy", but there's one thing that I knew very little about in terms of keeping it healthy. Specifically how to keep my womanly parts healthy. Over the years, though, I've learned much about it, and wanted to share with you things that I've learned, and hopefully you'll also be able to keep your body in a healthier state.

I find this is especially important because it isn't talked about much, and people feel uncomfortable going to gynecologists for internal exams and tend to avoid that. And since people don't talk much about their private parts and don't compare, there also is shame and guilt about bringing it up, and lots of questions of "am I actually normal"?

So to combat that, I wanted to address women's health in a post, to open up discussion, help combat stigma, and to help people reach optimal health.

First, I wanted to talk about avoiding UTI's.

The Basics of Potty Training Dogs

While I love having a dog, I knew that with four little kids, there was no way I'd have it in me to deal with potty training a dog, so when we got our Snickers, she was a year old and already potty trained. However, quite a few friends of mine are in the new puppy potty training stage, so hopefully this post will be helpful for you!

Puppies can be a lot of work, and potty training them might be the epitome of the work associated with coaching your new dog. Don't worry if you’re having a hard time teaching your puppy, almost all dogs learn eventually where it's okay to go to the bathroom.

Keeping that in mind, there are a few basics to consider when you're instructing your pooch.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Accepting and Loving My New Fatter, Happier Self

The newer, fatter me. Never been fatter, never been happier. In my life.

I wear my belly like a badge of honor. And no, not because of birth. (But, ok, that does contribute to my belly.)

In a world that says weight and size are a determiner of your worth, I say no.

Currently, I weigh the most I ever have in my life.
And I'm proud of that.

Most of my weight is centered in my belly.

I get people asking me if I'm pregnant, "God bless your baby"s and questions of when I'm due. I usually tell people 'Not pregnant, just fat' and when they get all mortified I tell them that I'm not bothered by it, I know I look pregnant (diastasis recti and my fat contribute) but I tell them to please not make comments about other people's "pregnancy" because it's a very sensitive topic for many people.

So why would I be proud of this belly of mine?

Well, let me just say that even when I was my skinniest, I always had a belly. Even as a young underweight child, my belly protruded. I was chastised for it, told that I'm not working hard enough to tighten my abdominal muscles, and I strengthened them and tightened them and it still protruded.
Most likely bloat caused by my undiagnosed gluten intolerance.

Then I gained weight when I reached puberty, lost it when I was pregnant, but post pregnancy my belly stuck out despite my lower weight, as my abdominal walls separated when pregnant.

My weight went up and down over a few years and pregnancy, but the one constant- always looking pregnant.

7 Reasons Why Painting Your Home Is A Great Idea

I've wanted to paint my home for a while. Since I've had my own home, it was always white, white, white, and I hated it, but my landlords had a clause that we couldn't paint it another color. Now that I have my own home, I am thinking about painting the rooms, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Here's some reasons why painting is a good idea. Another one not mentioned is that some paints are wipe-able, which means that its easier to keep the walls clean.

Painting your home may seem like a large task to take on, and you may be wondering if all the time and money is worth it. Well, you may not know that painting your home can actually offer many benefits. Here are the top 7 reasons why painting your home is actually a great idea.

Quick Pickled Lemon Sauce Recipe, Middle Eastern Style -- Paleo, Vegan, Easy and Delicious

Quick lemon sauce served together with other fricassee fixings

Pickled lemons, also known as preserved lemons, are a condiment used all over North Africa and the Indian subcontiment. They are a primary ingredient in tagines, Moroccan stews, and they are used in fricassee, Tunisian fried sandwiches, in Cambodian soups, etc... I tried making pickled lemons the "real way" once, it was a ton of work to make, and then it had to ferment for a while, and after all that, I never was the biggest fan.

However, a bunch of years back I learned how to make quick "picked lemons" which don't require 3 months of waiting, and are less salty, less bitter, overall just have a better flavor, and I really loved them. My family loved them too, and we could down it really quickly, with bread, salads, proteins, etc...

But the thing is, they are chopped by hand. And they're lemony. Which means if you have any cuts on your hands, it burns. And it's just a pain to chop it small enough so that the peels absorb the flavor. So I tended to avoid making it.

But then I had an epiphany. Make it into a sauce!!!

Your Child's Mental Health: Top 7 Productive Ways To Improve It

Parents have so many different goals and dreams for their children. But as someone who struggles with mental health issues, in large part because of my childhood, my biggest goal as a parent is to raise emotionally healthy kids. And it isn't easy. The biggest chunk of my monthly budget goes on emotional health, but it is worth it. Here's some tips on how to improve your kids' mental health.

As parents, when presented with what you would like the most for your child, most of us want him or her to be both happy and healthy. Mental health is an important part of that because it encompasses both the emotional and physical well-being we seek for our child. Here we outline some effective ways you can navigate how to improve your child’s mental health.

My Last Scratch and Dent Shopping Haul

It had been a while since I shopped at a scratch and dent store. It didn't help that my nice, big and study, metal wagon broke and I only had little fabric weak shopping carts to use, and I still haven't been able to find a suitable replacement. Add to that that I've been busy and I haven't even made it to the city to do some frugal shops, only to the nearby (albeit frugal) grocery stores.

But the last two times I bought gluten free cereal at the grocery store, I paid full price and flinched, because for the last few years, it seems, I've never paid full price for gluten free cereal, always stocking up on them at the scratch and dent stores, for super cheaply.

So it was time to go back.

Tips for Saving on Healthcare Expenses

Healthcare can be really expensive! I live in a place with relatively low costs for healthcare, and even locally things can add up. But in places like the US without socialized medicine, prices can be exorbitant, so here's some tips on how to lower the cost.

Healthcare, no matter how you save up for it, will always be an unwanted expense. So, as much as possible, it’s best to find different ways on how to trim down the costs. Yes, it is possible to be frugal and healthy at the same time. Here’s how:

Thursday, January 9, 2020

My Thoughts on Prince Harry and Meghan's Decision

Harry and Meghan on Christmas Day 2017 (cropped)

Social media is abuzz with Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle, the Duke and duchess of Sussex, and their announcement about their decision to take a "step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent".

On my Facebook feed along I've seen comments by people saying that Meghan "bringing Harry down", that they are "counting the days till Harry realizes what an epic mistake he made by marrying Megan", that he is "turning his back on his country", that this is his legacy and she "knew what she was signing up for".

And of course the news is no different, with people saying that they are the "two most spoilt brats in history" and much else.

In short, it seems everyone and their mother (including the Monarchy) is extremely upset at their decision, and I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts.

I am sure, though, that when you saw the post title of this blog, you probably were confused, because my blog isn't about gossip and the latest news, so why am I getting into it now? What does it have to do with the topics I cover on my blog.

I have a list of posts ideas for this blog, and as I was scrolling through it the other day, I saw an entry entitled "What it's like to be famous" about my own experience being in the spotlight (which I still plan on writing about when I get a chance), and this is very similar to that, and it's something that felt very personal to me for quite a few reasons.

I quite admire the Prince and the Duchess and I have for a while, especially since they decided to become public about their struggles with mental health.

Cooking Made Easy: How to Prepare Healthy Meals for Your Family

Home cook and feed your family lots of delicious foods. This post from a reader explores the different nutritional benefits of various cooking methods.

Your family’s health and well-being are your responsibility, especially when you have growing kids and elderly members. With the increase in pollution and unhygienic environments, the only way to stay healthy is to maintain a stable lifestyle and switch to healthier food habits. You insist that your family members exercise or take up a sport to stay active, but you should also pay maximum attention to their meals that’ll provide them with the essential nutrients and keep them healthy.

Here are a few ways to prepare easy and healthy meals for your family.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Fresh Tomato Salsa or Pico De Gallo Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo

I think I have mentioned quite a few times here about how much I love Mexican food, how much I love salsa especially. I have a few different salsa recipes, from my fermented salsa, to my canned salsa that tastes just like or better than the expensive jarred stuff I used to buy.

This recipe is for pico de gallo, a fresh tomato salsa hailing from Mexico. According to my Mexican chef friend Enrique, it is called that, which means beak of the rooster, because it is spicy and sharp, just like the rooster's beak. It can also be called salsa Mexicana or salsa picada, and in some areas is called salsa cruda or salsa fresca (but in Enrique's area, the northeast, on the Mexican border, those last two would be blended, and not like this.)

There are many different versions, and they generally do have cilantro, but I make mine without, but feel free to add if you like and have it available. This salsa is terrific on just about anything, as a dip for chips, in tacos, fajitas, burritos, or on whatever your favorite protein is.

And of course, this recipe is great for most diets, other than people that can't handle spice or nightshades.

Fresh Tomato Salsa or Pico De Gallo Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo

1 extra large or 2 medium sized tomatoes
1 extra large or 2 medium bell peppers (any color, though I prefer red)
1 large onion
1-2 hot peppers (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice

1. Dice your tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Mix them together.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than the hot peppers. Mix well.

3. Chop your hot peppers finely and add to the salsa. I find, at least with the hot peppers that I buy, that the heat can vary tremendously, and while sometimes two or three hot peppers will barely add any spice, other times half of one is enough. Also, this would depend on the type of hot peppers you use and your love of spice. Basically this part is up to you.


Are you a fan of salsa? Do you prefer fresh or cooked? How do you make yours? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? What do you call this dish? What is your favorite thing to put it on?

Why You Need To Be Vigilant With Your Utility Bills

My electricity bill just arrived, and it was lower than it has been for a while. That's probably a combination of the fact that we went away for 10 days, as well as the fact that my AC/heater combination has been broken, so we haven't used it, and the difference to the bill was enormous. Even one appliance can make a huge difference to your utility bills. Learn more about them with this post below.

Your household or office runs on electricity, water, and gas, which are the three major utility bills you pay. When our monthly bills come in we know that we pay according to our usage, but we often don’t understand much further than that. You’ll probably see a lot of numbers and jargon on bills that you might not be familiar with.

You need to understand better how these utility bills are calculated, so when monthly bills come in, you’re not baffled by what’s going on.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Easy Guacamole Recipe -- Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

The other day when I shared my recipe for my Tex Mex Artichoke Chicken, within the post I wanted to link to my guacamole recipe, but I realized I never shared it. I mean, years ago I did share my guacamole recipe stretched with eggs, but since I don't eat eggs anymore, and especially because I've been able to get avocado relatively cheaply lately, I don't make it anything like this anymore, which is a good thing, because my kids don't like it that way and complain when they go to my mother that does make it that way.

I feel like its really hard to go wrong with guacamole. As long as you add lemon juice and salt you'll get something tasty, but this is my favorite way to make guacamole, making it perfection.

If you're a cilantro hater, definitely leave it out. This will still be great. And if you like spice, feel free to add a chili pepper to your guacamole. (I like spice but prefer mine in my salsa and not in the guac.) And you can also add a diced tomato to stretch your guacamole a bit.

As for how to eat your guacamole? How not! Eat it in tacos, burritos, on chili, on nachos, with chips, with crackers, as a dip for veggies, on sandwiches, or just even eat it by the spoonful.

Bonus? Guacamole freezes beautifully!

Easy Guacamole Recipe -- Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

Tips on How to Reduce Food Wastage

Being frugal with your grocery shopping is all well and good, but if part of your food is getting thrown out, then that means that wasn't so frugal after all. Though I'm good at keeping down my food bills, making sure that food doesn't get wasted is something I'm still working on. I would say I'm about "medium good" at preventing food waste. Here's some ideas from a reader which can help you and me prevent our food from getting thrown out.

It is important that we minimize the amount of food we waste because many people across the world go hungry every day. It is important to understand how lucky we are to have such an abundance of food and we should all do our best to make sure the food does not get wasted. Food wastage contributes to global warming, contributes to the global food crisis, and hurts families financially.
Thankfully, there are some ways you can prevent food wastage in your home and I am going to share some of them with you.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

So it's that time of the week again where I share what frugal things I got up to, no matter how many frugal things I did or didn't do that week!

And finally! A week where I did a decent amount of frugal things so I don't have to feel uncomfortable sharing how few frugal things I did in my weekly round up.

Here's what I did to save money this week.

My Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Taking Out Student Loans? Do it Right With These 6 Tips

Growing up hearing about how long it took my parents to pay off their student loans (they only paid them back halfway through my childhood, maybe longer) even with working super hard and being frugal, in many ways I'm glad I didn't go to college because I am not dogged by student loan debt. However, for some people, especially with their chosen career path, student debt is inevitable. Here's some ways you can do it smarter.

One of the most important things you have to think about when graduating is how are you planning to pay school fees because, believe it or not, this can limit your choices when it comes to where you want to study and the degree you want to earn. You might be a genius and can guarantee yourself a full scholarship in a fancy school, or might be lucky enough to have parents that have enough money saved. However, when it comes to education, taking larger investments, generally means that you would have to end up opting for student loans.

Most students graduate with debts that weigh them down for the rest of their lives so we thought of giving you a few tips for taking out student loans.

Fill a free application for federal student aid

The FAFSA is what universities and the government use to determine which student loans and benefits you’re eligible for. You have to fill it whenever it becomes available every year.

Federal loans are so much better than personal loans, which can make your life harder and tend to add much more pressure. The interest rates are usually fixed, unlike the personal loans, which increase annually, even though sometimes student aid loans have increased interest rates, it will still be better than applying for private loans.

Look for free money

There are plenty of websites that give you the opportunity to apply for different scholarships and grants, where you can get money to earn your degree and would not be required to pay it back. Some people would even go as far by putting up a GoFundMe page, although this may be a bit too much for some cases. When applying for FAFSA, you’re not only applying for federal student loans but you’re also applying for scholarships and benefits (grants) covered by the governments and that is absolutely free to you. You will also need to use other tools and websites to try to get the most of the private grants or scholarships that you qualify for.

Consider taking private loans

What if it’s still not enough, or one of the first two options did not work for you? You can now try to go for a private loan. The options seen at https://www.loanry.com/ will provide you with lenders who are willing to help repay your debts. These kinds of services generally offer a variety of options from which you can pick from. There are different types and categories of loans and lenders other than banks and financial institutions, so make sure you evaluate your options so that you’re able to repay it easily. Keep in mind that you will need to understand the ratio of your debt to your income, especially in the first year and have high credit scores, so you borrow more.

Plan your debts

Calculate your debts, compare it with your income and make sure you’re easily covered. Having lower credit scores or a hard time repaying your debt can last more than 10 years and you don’t want to plan 10 years of lost energy instead of 10 years of success after graduating with a degree in whatever field you dream about.

If you think you are going to struggle, don’t worry because there are many ways in which you can find lenders who are willing to help refinance your debts and repay your loans, you just have to be careful with selecting and choose the best one for you.

Get a career in public service

In certain jobs related to the government, they give you benefits such as planning your repayment terms based on your monthly salary, so it can be easier for you as a public school teacher, or if you’re working at the military for example. There are plenty of options that could be interesting and beneficial for your career and will definitely help with your debts.

Leverage on that career

If you work for 10 years in a non-profit, governmental setting and after meeting certain criteria, you can apply for a pardon where the party you’re working for will offer to pay or forgive your loans over 120 qualified payments. If this option is appealing to you then make sure you pick the loans that qualify and make sure it’s something you will want to do because you might not always get the job you had hoped for.

For those of us who knew that they weren’t going to miss high school, we really looked forward to going away to earn a degree and had plenty of daydreams about how this will be a chance for us to feel better about our education and our lives, so make sure you take all the steps towards not ruining the next 10 years of your life.

Tex Mex Artichoke Chicken Recipe -- Easy, Paleo, Allergy Friendly, and Delicious

I went out for dinner recently and had these delectable artichoke tacos, which was quite surprising for me. I love artichoke, but only ever had it in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean type recipes, such as these stuffed artichoke hearts, marinated artichoke hearts, or artichoke with chicken and mushrooms. If you're a fan of artichoke, it is even better with Tex Mex seasoning than any other way.

With the tacos I had in mind, I set out to create a meal in one that was a bit less work, and made this chicken dish. This recipe was out of this world, a big hit with my family and guests. While it is scrumptious as is, topping it with guacamole and salsa makes it even more special.

Tex Mex Artichoke Chicken Recipe -- Easy, Paleo, Allergy Friendly, and Delicious

Which Type of Home Generator Is More Efficient?

Earlier this week I had a post about why getting a generator can be a really good idea. If you've thought about getting a generator, but not sure which type is best, this post sent to me by a reader might be quite up your alley and helpful.

If you and your family have ever been left in the dark during a storm due to a power outage you know how difficult it can be to complete simple household tasks. If you have been affected by a power outage you may consider purchasing a generator for your home. A home generator can be a good way to ensure that you and your family are protected during power outages. A home generator can help give power to basic household utilities such as lights, TV’s, and radios. Home generators can also be used to keep refrigerators and freezers cold so that food doesn't spoil during an outage. Also, if you and your family live in areas with extreme temperatures you may want to invest in a home generator to make sure your family stays safe. There are many benefits of getting a home generator, but when it comes to buying one you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Listed below are the types of home generators and how efficient it will be for you and your family.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning and Spice Mix Recipe

Let's pretend that this was artistically spilled for this picture, and not that that's what spilled over when I was transferring the taco seasoning to the smaller jar... haha...

I love Mexican food and Tex Mex and all sorts of similar types of foods. I've shared quite a few Mexican recipes here, but one of my favorites is tacos. I've already shared a recipe for homemade taco spice mix, and while its a great recipe, more often than not, I don't have my homemade chili powder on hand, and locally what they sell as chili powder is just cayenne pepper.

So since my original taco spice mix required chili powder, I've decided to share another recipe, this time without any chili powder, and in addition to that, it's without onion powder, which is hard to get locally, and always clumps up. (If you're wondering why there's sweetener, its to replace the sweetness that generally comes from the onion powder. Feel free to leave that out if you want.)

Use this on taco meat, lentils, chicken, veggies, you take your pick. It's terrific.

I made this pretty non spicy so that my kids will eat it. If you like spicier food, increase the amount of hot pepper flakes.

Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning and Spice Mix Recipe

6 Simple Ways to Experience Luxury in Your Own Home

I live in a relatively small home, and my old home was a bit of a dump, in part because of how tiny it was, and for other reasons as well. When we moved into our current home, I said that I wanted to make my bedroom into a haven, make myself have a luxurious bedroom so I wouldn't feel the need to go away to experience luxury. If you want to make your home more luxurious, here's some great ideas on how you can make your home into that little piece of heaven. 

Certain features in your home could elevate your house in the most luxurious ways. We are all pretty comfortable in our humble homes and our comfort zones that we wouldn’t trade for the world. However, a little bit of luxury here and there never hurts anyone.

The best of homes are ones that combine comfort, luxury, and functionality. Your home doesn't have to be big, snazzy, or anything above average to get some elements of luxury in it without having to sacrifice anything else or break the bank.

Let's have a look at some small changes you can make.

My Frugal Large Grocery Shop, Part 3 -- Dry Goods

Sorry it's taken me so long to get this posted, it's just really tedious and time consuming to write up my shopping list, hunting down prices on a few foot long receipt, so that I can share them here. But quite a few people said they appreciate my doing so, so I'll do it gladly, just takes a bit longer to get done.

I already wrote about the produce I bought, and the things for my freezer (and fridge), so now I'll get down to the dry goods (and bottles- they count, right, since they're shelf stable?).

Starting a Family: See This Checklist for First Time Parents

While I've been a parent over 12 years, if you're about to be a parent for the first time, here's some things you might want to consider.

It’s exciting, isn’t it? Barely days or even weeks since you’ve found out, you find your thoughts wandering. A thousand things pop in and out of your head, playing scenarios over and over and you don’t seem to get tired of it. Sometimes you are excited, sometimes you are afraid, other times you are unsure of yourself.

I’m sure you want some assurances, but there is none. The best thing you can do is to be prepared. And if you are reading this in order to prepare for parenthood, congratulations! Great job! Deciding to keep your precious baby, that itself is a sign that you are on the right track.

Now, let’s get you up to speed. There are many lists and pointers out there and you can surely find a number of really good ones. Here’s a few personal notes, a checklist which I am sure you will find useful:

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Gluten Free Tunisian Fricassee Sandwich Recipe -- Vegan Option

My sister in law, Sarah, is Tunisian, and one day, as a newly wed, she posted pictures excitedly on our family Whatsapp group that she made fricassee, along with pictures. "What is that?" I asked, and she said "You know, fricassee!" Well, no, I didn't know, because the fricassee I had heard about is a french chicken stew type thing, and it looked nothing like what Sarah had made.

Well, fricassee has another meaning, Tunisian in origin, and I have no idea where its name comes from. Its a fried bread sandwich, filled with a variety of different items, from tuna to potatoes to pickled lemons, and more.

I never was able to taste Sarah's fricassee because I don't eat gluten, but after I successfully made gluten free sfinge, I decided to give fricassee a try, using my sfinge recipe as a base for the fried bread.

When it comes to fillings, I looked in various Facebook groups to find out what authentically goes in fricassee, and there were so many debates about what goes in an "authentic" fricassee. According to my brother, Sarah fills her fricassee with tuna (no mayo), potatoes, sliced eggs, pickled lemons, pickles, olives, and harissa (Tunisian hot sauce), but according to another person, "Traditional fricassee never has pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers, and it does have mayo."

Basically, I don't think there is one defined official way, but I'll just list all the fillings I've heard can go in fricassee:

Gluten Free Tunisian Fricassee Sandwich Recipe -- Vegan Option

Factors To Consider Before Selling A Real Estate Property

I'm not currently looking to sell my home, nor do I have any plans for the future. However, I know many of my readers may be, either because they're looking to downsize, or to lower their living expenses for other reasons. For that reason, here's some important things to consider before selling your property. 

Selling a real estate property can be a huge change in your life depending on the circumstances. Whether it is an old family home, or a property you spent countless hours updating through renovation and repair, the whole process can be a bit taxing on you. That’s why it is important to go into selling a real estate property with the right information that is both helpful and factual.

There is a lot to know before you consider selling a real estate property because of the major implications of such a big financial move. These considerations are how you can ensure that this property you are selling is not going to be sitting on the market for too long, or give you a return that is well below your expected return.

These are the factors to consider before selling a real estate property:

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