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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Easy Dairy Free Vanilla Cake Recipe, With No Expensive Ingredients or Equipment


Today I made a birthday party for my daughter, more on that in another post, and for the cake I wanted something quick and easy. Though I have a terrific gluten free vanilla cake recipe that I've made in the past, this time I wanted to try a cake with gluten, because I wasn't sure if the kids coming would appreciate gluten free cake anyhow, and I was running low on my gluten free flours.

I searched the internet to try to find a good vanilla cake recipe (vanilla cake is so much harder to make well than chocolate, I've discovered) but all the recipes seemed to call for butter (which I didn't have at home and didn't want to use anyhow) or sour cream or buttermilk or a variety of other specialty expensive ingredients. I just wanted plain old boring vanilla cake. And dairy free. So I found this recipe, and tweaked it to make it dairy free. And without needing a mixer. Just an easy cake.

Since I can't taste this since I don't eat gluten, I can't tell you what I think of it. But everyone enjoyed the cake, though my kids said that my gluten free vanilla cake is better, and with frosting this was pretty good, but they felt it needed frosting. So I'm not claiming that this is the best ever vanilla cake, but its a decent enough cake that is quick to throw together and has cheap ingredients too.

Easy Dairy Free Vanilla Cake Recipe, With No Expensive Ingredients or Equipment

LGBT Mental Health Counseling In Philadelphia Drives Global Change

I'm a big fan of therapy, but unfortunately, there isn't enough of it going on, and there needs to be changes made in accessibility, especially when it comes to marginalized groups and minorities. Here's more about a place that is making a change in that regard for the better.


More than anything in the world, you are the most important. Out of all the riches in the planet, you are the most precious. Unfortunately, the first person to doubt these things is also you. And nobody else can really help change your perspective other than you.

Matters concerning mental health have been gracing the tabloids in recent years. As a mental health professional, I couldn’t be happier to see that the world is slowly warming up to the idea of normalizing psychological care. It wasn’t too long ago that people were laughed and called names just because they’re unlike everybody else; they don’t feel just like everybody else. Read more about this here: https://demontattler.com/1468/news/mental-illness-then-vs-now/

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Great Frugal Shopping Today



Today, I had to take the kids with me to the city to go to the dentist, and I figured that while I was already there, I'd take care of errands that needed getting done. Fortunately, every single errand I got done managed to be a frugal one, so I wanted to share them with you.

First, I was passing by one of the scratch and dent stores that I like to frequent, and wanted to see if they had any great prices. And oh boy, I was astounded at how wonderful the prices were. The most awesome were boxes of white chocolate Reese's cups, 2 boxes filled with 24 packs for $4.28, working out to just 9 cents per package of Reese's cups. So I bought 4.
My kids have an event coming up where we need to make these goody bags, and I knew the Reese's cups would be a boon there.
They also had white chunky Kit Kat bats for 29 cents each, and these chocolate bonbons so we bought 10 of those as well for the goody bags.
They also had these giant multipacks of sucking candies, 57 cents a package, so I got 5 of them.
Then there were these gluten free wafers that I got in the past and my family really enjoyed- if you bought 9 packages you paid $5.71, so I bought 18 for $11.43, for a total of 63 cents a package.

I think we're pretty set with the goody bags.

Oh, and while I'm photographing these, I threw in also these artificial coloring and flavoring free sprinkles in all sorts of cool colors that I found at a different scratch and dent stores I was at, for 95 cents each, which I'm really excited about.

After that, it was time to go shoe shopping.

Is Cbd Cream A Good Alternative To Cbd Oil?

As someone dealing with regular pain issues in my body, I am very curious to learn about different things that can help the pain, with minimal or no side effects ideally. Therefore, this post sent by a reader about CBD creams was very timely and really makes me want to look into it as an option for myself. 


CBD has been rising up the popularity ladder especially in the world of social media. But it still suffers from a major lacuna and that is lack of adequate research about its effectiveness on human anatomy. A lot of confusion still persists regarding its chemical abilities as well as working mechanism. Today we are going to try out and lessen your confusion by talking about the two most important forms of CBD which gets rampantly used by people across the globe.

Gluten Free Vegan Char Chai Tow Kway, Singaporean and Malaysian Stir Fried Carrot Cake Recipe with Daikon Radish, and Homemade Chye Poh, Chinese Dried Daikon Radish


First time I heard about Cantonese turnip cakes, lo bak go, made with daikon radish, I was a little hesitant, because it sounded strange, but it is such a popular dish that I said I'd give it a go, and I was very pleasantly surprised, to put it mildly. They were such delightful little dim sum, that when I heard that they were often served as a stir fry, in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine I knew I wanted to try it. Oddly, in Singapore these "turnip cakes" made with daikon radishes, are actually called carrot cake. So since this stir fry is from there, its called stir fried carrot cake.

But first, I needed to figure out what they were called.

Because I saw it sometimes written as char tow kway, other times I saw it written as chai tow kway, and I wasn't sure how there were so many people misspelling it. So I posted asking for clarification in an Asian food forum, and found out that char means to stir fry, chai tow means vegetable head, referring to daikon, and kway means cake. So Char chai tow kway is its official name, and there's two official ways to make it, dark and light. I made it dark, with soy sauce.

Char chai tow kway is traditionally made with egg, but since I wanted to make mine egg free, I used mashed tofu instead (since I knew tofu scramble was a common vegan replacement for scrambled eggs) and it tasted like it had eggs in it.

A standard ingredient in this is chye poh, Chinese pickled radish. There are so many ways to make chye poh, but I was told by Sinaporeans that though it is generally bought, you can make it from scratch this way, so I did a short cut and made mine just by grating daikon and salting it, and letting it sit out. It is a very salty item, but chopped small it is used to add saltiness to your dish instead of adding plain salt. I've included instructions on how to make the chye poh as well.

I made this recipe when a friend was over, and told her that I would be making stir fried radish cake, and she said that sounds weird, she thinks she'll pass. But then once I made it, I convinced her to try it, and upon tasting and she tasted it, she was in shock at how amazing it was, and wanted more and more.

So even if the recipe sounds strange to you, its definitely worth trying, because it is unbelievably delicious.

And of course, if you do eat eggs, feel free to use scrambled eggs here instead of the tofu.

My char chai tow kway ended up a little more crumbly than it usually is, because I didn't let my lo bak go cool off all the way and solidify first, but it didn't affect it's taste at all, just its looks. But if you want firmer, just make sure your radish/turnip/carrot (aka DAIKON) cake cools off first before you fry it up.

Gluten Free Vegan Char Chai Tow Kway, Singaporean and Malaysian Stir Fried Carrot Cake Recipe with Daikon Radish, and Homemade Chye Poh, Chinese Dried Daikon Radish

Ingredients for Stir Fried Carrot Cake:
Oil (as needed)
1 recipe Cantonese turnip cake, lo bak go (use my recipe if you want to keep it vegan)
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon salted turnip, chye poh (see below)
1/2 block tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon molasses
3/4 pack bean sprouts
Salt (to taste)
3 scallions
Sriracha (optional)

Ingredients for Chye Poh
2/3 cups daikon radish
3 teaspoons salt (divided)

Instructions for Chye Poh
1. Grate your daikon radish.

2. Mix with 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Let sit for an hour. Pour off any liquid that accumulates.

4. Add another teaspoon salt and let sit overnight.

Instructions for Stir Fried Carrot Cake
1. Cube your lo bak go cake.

2. Fry your cake in oil until browned on all sides, mixing periodically. Add more oil as needed.

3. Dice your garlic. Add it to the cakes.

4. Mash your tofu with a fork until its in crumbles, then add it to the pan.

5. Chop up your chye poh and add it to the pan.

6. Add soy sauce, molasses, and bean sprouts to the pan and mix.

7. Add salt as needed.

8. Chop up scallions and add to the pan.

9. Serve hot, with sriracha on top if you want.

Enjoy!

Have you ever heard of or had stir fried carrot cake before? What country did you have it in? What immediately comes to mind when you hear of stir fried carrot cake? Probably something that is nothing like this, right? Does this look like a recipe that you might try?

Five Reasons To Cook Together As A Family

I love cooking together with my kids. Ok, sometimes it is annoying because kids take longer to do the same thing that a more experienced person can do, and they make bigger messes. But I still love to do it because its a great bonding experience, and it teaches them important kitchen skills. Here's some more reasons why you might want to cook together as a family.


We know that cooking dinner every evening isn’t always a fun activity — in fact, for many people cooking just feels like a chore. This is a real shame, given that cooking can actually be a fun and fulfilling task — especially if done with the entire family. Whether you prepare every ingredient from scratch or use one of the prepackaged meal kits, cooking together creates a close bond between family members that’s worthwhile trying whenever you can. Need a bit more convincing? Here are five reasons why you should take the time to cook together as a family.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Another Solution to our Bedtime Woes


I knew that I wrote a post before about the bedtime situation in our home, how bedtime was hell and drove me up the wall and was the worst part of my day, and how following the family therapist's advice finally gave me some breathing room and turned it from a horrible time to something much more pleasant. But I didn't check the date that I wrote it until now when I wanted to link to it, and I see that it was a year ago to the day, exactly. So that's amusing for me.

And that did help, and it did work, and I say that a year later we no longer have those issues.

However, to say there were no issues at bedtime from there on out would be a fallacy. But you know how it is, when a problem is so enormous, you can only really focus on that, and the smaller issues, even if they are big issues in their own right, get pushed to the wayside. And once my kids were actually going to sleep when I put them to bed, and bedtime no longer took three hours and lots of fighting, I was able to pinpoint another issue that really bothered me- the fact that my nearly 6 year old daughter Rose kept coming into my bed in the middle of the night.

The Best Natural Skincare Brands

If you're careful not just about what you put into your body, but also what you put on your body, you may want to stick to more natural skincare brands. But how do you even know where to start looking? How do you even know what is good? This post sent in by a reader covers some of the best natural skincare brands.


All-natural. Organic. 100% sustainable.

More and more people are becoming conscious of what they put into and onto their bodies these days. The beauty industry has definitely taken notice of this trend, resulting in an explosion of all-natural skincare products on the market. That means the health-conscious beauty gurus among us have more to choose from than ever before.

Why Natural Skincare?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How to Make Yee Sang Recipe, Chinese New Year Prosperity Tossed Salad, Lo Hei, Gluten Free and Vegan Option


When I finally figured out how to make my own homemade gluten free vegan hoisin sauce, my friend Juli of Pandemonium Noshery suggested that I use it to make Yee Sang, a Cantonese salad, sometimes pronounced yusheng, also known as Lo Hei, served as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, because each of the parts of the salad symbolize different wishes for the new year, specifically prosperity.

It is popular among the Chinese community in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. This recipe generally has raw fish in it- yee sang means fish but is also a homophone for an increase abundance- but it can also be served without fish to keep it vegan.

There is a ritual with which this salad is served, which you can see here.




Once the dish is served with each of the parts separately, there is the custom to toss it with chopsticks high in the air, to mix it together, while giving each other warm wishes for the coming year.

The dish usually is made with deep fried wheat "pillows", making it gluten, but I replaced that in this recipe with deep fried gluten free noodles, but you can also use deep fried wonton wrappers if you have those.

How to Make Yee Sang Recipe, Chinese New Year Prosperity Tossed Salad, Lo Hei, Gluten Free and Vegan Option

Is Life Insurance Worth The Investment For Your Kids?

Life insurance. Its something many responsible people think about. Is it worth it to get? And more specifically, is it worth getting life insurance for your kids? This post sent in from a reader explores that.


Raising a child is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time, patience, attention, and of course, money. Not all parents have abundant resources to spend, and even those who have abundant resources do not wish to waste a single dollar. Especially because this is money that could have been put to better use elsewhere.

Life insurance is an investment that many people can easily misunderstand. In order to be able to determine whether or not you should get life insurance for your children, you first have to understand what exactly life insurance is and what is its purpose.

Ginataang Tilapia Recipe, Filipino Fish with Coconut Milk and Greens, Paleo, Delicious, and Easy


I love recipes from around the world, but haven't had the fortune to taste too many different Filipino recipes. One of them, pancit bihon, is a stir fry that my friend Juli taught me, but beyond that, I wasn't really familiar with their dishes. However, on a quest to learn more about dishes from around the world, I learned about ginataang tilapia, something that really appealed both to my taste buds and my budget.

Ginataan is a Filipino term for food cooked in coconut milk (and when its followed by another word it becomes ginataang, hence the g in the name) and often served with rice. While I used tilapia for this (specifically St Peter's fish), you can feel free to use any fish that you like for this recipe. Not all ginataan fish recipes have greens in them, but this one that I loosely based mine on does, and so do many recipes, and I figured it would be the perfect recipe to use the abundant wild greens that are growing in my backyard at the moment. I used wild swiss chard, also known as sea beet, for mine, but you can use any that you have on hand that aren't bitter. Spinach and kale and bok choy are common store bought greens used for this, but mallow, milk thistle, amaranth, and lambsquarters would be great in this as well.

As written, the recipe is gluten free and paleo (assuming you use non soy sauce alternatives), and to keep it paleo serve it plain, without rice. It is relatively allergy friendly as well, not to mention easy to make. I really enjoyed it, as did my fish loving kid. And if you use home grown greens for this, its a pretty cheap dish to make as well.


Ginataang Tilapia Recipe, Filipino Fish with Coconut Milk and Greens, Paleo, Delicious, and Easy

Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder on a Budget

As a mother of two kids on the autism spectrum, I know that the various ways people use to help their kids with autism often end up costing a pretty penny. Fortunately I have schools for my kids that help them that aren't too expensive and give them their necessary therapies. But there's more that parents can do, because a lot of times, certain issues can be helped with supplementation. Read more below.



Although people with ASD aren’t in need of a cure, they often require treatment for some of the symptoms associated with autism. As any parent knows, accessing medical treatment can stretch your budget, particularly for long-term or lifelong issues.

However, there are a range of budget-friendly ways to reduce the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Using supplements for autism can be a great way to target specific symptoms, including sleep problems and gastrointestinal disturbances.

What’s more, many parents favor natural supplements for autism spectrum disorder as they can be more gentle than pharmaceutical options – not to mention cheaper!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Soft Pretzels Recipe


I've been off gluten for about 9 years at this point. And by this point, I've managed to find gluten free replacements for all the gluten things I loved, either store bought or homemade, but the two things I had yet to have and still missed were soft pretzels and licorice.

Well, I can knock that list down to one, because I made my own homemade soft pretzels, and they were totally awesome, and hit the spot. And they were vegan, and using only healthy (in my opinion) ingredients, and pretty cheap to make as well.

When I was trying to find a recipe to make, I found a bunch of different gluten free recipes, all that weren't vegan, but this recipe looked the most promising to me. I veganized it, and switched the corn syrup to jaggery syrup, and switched around the flours to use what I had at home, and it was terrific.

The outside is chewy, the inside is soft, and the taste is just right.


I will mention that while it is definitely possible to get it into pretzel shape, it is a pain to do that because the dough is finicky and does like to break, and even once it's already pretzel shape it can break, so if you aren't particular on having the pretzel shape, its much easier to just make pretzel sticks, and they taste the same. So after I made half the batch pretzel shaped, I just decided to do the rest in sticks, and it was awesome too.


Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Soft Pretzels Recipe

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

5 Gift Ideas for the Little Adventurer in Your Life

Today's my 32 birthday, but I already shared here about what I'm getting myself as a birthday gift- hint, its a new bed set. But my daughter Rose's birthday is coming up next month; here's some great ideas that I'll consider for this little adventurer of mine.


Has your little one got a birthday coming up? It’s not always easy to find the right gift for your children, even though you know them the best, it’s difficult not to buy them something that they haven’t already got. You’ll find a unique range of toys for 5-year-olds here, just click the link.

But if your little one is a bit of an adventurer and loves nothing more than exploring in the garden and discovering the great wide world around them. Then you have the perfect opportunity to encourage their passion even further and treat them to something that will inspire even more outdoor adventures.
Need some more guidance? Read on for 5 gift ideas for the little adventurer in your life.

A pop-up tent

The perfect base for any garden adventurer! Treating your little one to a pop-up play tent means that they can take shelter from the elements and hide from any potential predators all in the safety of their back garden… A simple pop-up tent is easy to put up and to fold away again. They can even make good use of it inside when the weather isn't great. Of course, you could spend money on an expensive camping tent, but they take a lot more work to put up and to take back down again!

Their own headtorch

Torches are of course loads of fun. But a headtorch is next level excitement for any little explorer looking for night-time adventures! Big torches can be heavy, clumsy and cumbersome, making it difficult to play. A headtorch, however, means that they can keep their hands free whilst they play, you don't have to worry about them dropping and breaking it and it's not likely to be put down and forgotten about!

A sleeping bag

On those long summer nights, it’s always fun for the whole family to camp out in the backyard. And if you gift your little one their very own sleeping bag, they’ll be even more excited. It doesn’t need to be anything too hardcore – they’re not camping on Mt Everest. Just something simple, warm and padded with a cool design should be ideal. Make sure it’s the right size and that they won’t grow out of it too quickly, make sure it’s warm enough and machine washable! They can also take it to friend’s houses for sleepovers when they’re old enough!

A cool water bottle

A reusable water bottle is the best way for your little one to keep hydrated whilst they’re out playing. Choose one with a cool design, that keeps cold drinks cold and warm drinks warm! They’ll love taking it everywhere and you can enjoy the fact that they’re always hydrated!

A new backpack

What could be better than carrying all their exploration gear, snacks and toys in their very own little backpack? Make sure it has plenty of pockets for all their supplies and again, choose one that is machine washable so you can keep it clean!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Awesome Last Minute Deal!!!



There's this amazingly store near me, that has great prices all the time, but sometimes they have extreme sales that just knock things out of the park. I'm on a Whatsapp group for the store where they write what the daily sales are (they change all the time), and a few hours before they closed for the weekend, I saw an ad for "Happy Hour".

There were so many things with terrific prices, but the things that stood out in my mind were the fresh chickens that they quite clearly wanted out before their weekend break. I was busy so couldn't make it there, but I sent my kids there to shop for me, with all the cash I had at home, and the mission to get as many fresh chicken products as possible with that money. Of course, there were a few other items on the list, but the chickens, that's why I sent them.

When they came home, I was so excited with what they brought home. They told me that they literally took every last bit of fresh chicken off the shelf.

You Don't Need Medication to Sleep

I have anxiety that sometimes gets in the way of my sleeping. For this reason, I try to do things to make falling asleep more easy for me. One of those things is to have a bed time routine, things that my mind associates with sleeping. I have this certain meditative music soundtrack that I play when I'm falling asleep, and because I use it so often, my brain already associates it with sleep and helps me get into that mode, even when my anxiety is otherwise racing. Here's some other ideas from Nancy Evans to help you sleep better.


Sleeping pills and medications prescribed to help people calm their minds and help them sleep more soundly are oftentimes highly dangerous to your overall health. With the potential added risk of addiction and or even just damage to your liver, you should consider alternatives to using medication to get better rest throughout the night.

Sleep allows your skin cells to renew, it allows your organs to function properly, and, most importantly, getting a good night's rest allows your mind to go through the processes that it needs to go through in order to stay healthy. This can go as far as being able to recall information and maintain a healthy memory. Below are some ideas to help you get better sleep throughout the night without the need for medication.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Dim Sum Cantonese Turnip Cakes Recipe, Lo Bak Go, Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal


The other day, when I was given a bunch of free broccoli, I was also given a bunch of free daikon radishes. There were so many being given, but people didn't want them, because they thought it was just this strange radish, so I told them that it was a special Asian radish, and it usually is more expensive, and it's used for a lot of Asian recipes. Being that no one else wanted them, I took a bunch, and then came home, stumped. I mean, I knew there were so many recipes using daikon, but as soon as I tried to think of one, my brain blanked.

So I turned to the internet for help, and was recommended that I make a Cantonese recipe, lo bak go, known in English as turnip cake (even though daikon is a radish, not at turnip), more accurately called radish cake sometimes, and for some strange reason known in Singapore as carrot cake.

Turnip cake is a common dim sum dish. It is naturally gluten free, and though traditionally has Chinese sausage and shrimp in it, can easily be made vegan, as I did. And it's allergy friendly as well.

It is traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year.

I was worried when I made it that it would have an overwhelming turnipy taste, but it is such a delightful dish, especially when served with dipping sauce. I served it to a friend who came over, and exclaimed that it tastes amazing, just like restaurant food. Score!

Lo bak go is first steamed, and then cut up and fried until crispy. The outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Some people don't fry them, either for taste or health reasons, but in my opinion, its more enjoyable fried.

These turnip cakes can also be stir fried and used to make another dish commonly found in Singapore, something I'm also planning on trying out.

The nice thing about this dish is that you can make the cake in advance, and then freeze it (or part of it), and then defrost it then fry it up. Or if you fry it up and have leftovers, they will crisp up nicely again upon refrying it for a few minutes.

If you don't have daikon, or daikon isn't cheap where you live, I am certain that this recipe will work well with regular turnips (even though daikon is a radish, simply based on taste), just use two of them, since daikons are larger. I plan on trying it out and letting you know.

Though I found many different recipes for lo bak go, this was the recipe I used as my base.

Dim Sum Cantonese Turnip Cakes Recipe, Lo Bak Go, Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal

5 Reasons to Freelance After Becoming a New Mom

I'm a freelancer. It's what works best for me. Many moms find the same thing- working for yourself simply opens up many more doors of opportunity than having a standard 9-5 job, especially as a mother. Here's more about that, from a reader.


Having a baby changes your entire life. As a new mom, your priorities will shift overnight. While you bond with your little one, you may view your world differently. This may include rethinking your career. According to the research done by global business news company Quartz, the debate of whether or not to go back to the office is more common than you think. One-third of American moms won’t return to their old job after having their child. Some of these women plan to work remotely or become a stay-at-home mom, while others decide they want to make a job switch in the months after giving birth.

If you are one of the many moms who enjoy having their career but want to be there for baby, consider freelancing. Not sure if it’s right for you? First, you may want to know what distinguishes this type of work from other jobs. The online career website FlexJobs defines freelancing as working for yourself, rather than for a single company.

Some of the most popular freelance jobs include copywriting, virtual assisting and tutoring, but you can find work in nearly any industry. More jobs are available now than ever, including rewarding roles for accounting associates, registered nurses and event coordinators. As you begin your search for the ideal openings, let us explain a few of the biggest benefits of freelance work for you and your growing family.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Steaming Food Without a Steamer -- Easy Kitchen Hack



I have a few different Asian recipes that I wanted to make, all which required a steamer. But though I have a collapsible vegetable steamer that can go in any of my pots, that wasn't going to work for these recipes. Examples of these are many dim sum, including steamed dumplings, steamed pork buns, pot stickers, as well as Korean rice cakes.

I will admit that I did finally buy myself a bamboo steamer for this purpose, after many years of wanting one. But for this latest recipe that I made, I decided that I would make myself my own steamer, using equipment most people would have in the house, so that all of you can do it too, without needing any special equipment. This works for anything that needs to be steamed, including vegetables, not just Asian recipes that use

What you'll need for this is a large pot, some aluminium foil or some small ramekins, and a smaller pan or baking dish that can fit inside the large pot.

Make Your House Child-Friendly: From Installing A Boiler To Covering Windows

All parents know the feeling when they're taking their kids somewhere and it isn't child proofed. Fact is, if you don't have little kids at home, your house is likely to be very different from one that is child friendly. Here's some tips from a reader on how to make your home welcoming and safe for a young child.


So you find out that you're expecting a child. Are you ready? Well, regardless of whether your answer is yes or no, in 8-9 months, there's going to be a crying baby that will solely rely on you for their health, sustenance, and well-being.

When you're expecting for a baby, emotional maturity and financial security are the two significant aspects that many uses as metrics as to whether you're well-prepared or not. However, parents must also prepare another facet: their house. The living quarters of the baby must be in pristine condition, cleaned up and baby-proofed.

Shelter England just released the findings of their study. Inadequate housing increases the likelihood of children suffering from ill-health and disability during their childhood and early adulthood. There is a higher risk for meningitis, asthma and slow growth. If this is not enough, children who live in bad houses suffer from various mental health and behavioural problems.

Listed down below are ways on how to make your house child-friendly.

Asking For Discounts -- And My Rules About It


I had planned on writing a post specifically about discounts and such, and I'm writing from inside a cafe where I am working between engagements today. While I was here, I wanted to order something to eat, to fill and warm my belly on this chilly winter day, but the restaurant doesn't have that many gluten free options.

There's this one dish that they make, salmon with a side of roasted potatoes and salad, that is quite delicious, and I smelled it from the kitchen and it tempted me. The dish costs $27 dollars. As I was contemplating if that is something I wanted to spend, I realized that, though I was tempted to get the dish, what I actually wanted was the potatoes, and I wasn't even hungry enough for the fish and the salad. So I asked the waitress if I could order just the potatoes from that dish, and she said I could, it would cost me $8.57. Not bad, considering that that was all I actually really wanted. This restaurant has cream sauce for some dishes, so I asked the waitress how much I could get a mushroom cream sauce addition to my dish for, and she said that would be free. So of course I did that.

All because I asked. Had I not asked, I probably would have spent over 3 times the price for something that I didn't even want as much for.

And that goes hand in hand with what this post was intended to be about.

Just Ask About Discounts

I find the biggest, most helpful, money saving tip is to simply ask if there is a discount for xyz. There are many different reasons why someone can get a discount, especially when it comes to entrance fees. If you're a student, you might be eligible for a discount. If you have a disability you might get a discount. If you are a veteran, you might get. If you have a AAA membership... List goes on and on.

So many places have official discount policies in place that they may not advertise with big letters.
When we were on our family vacation last year, we went to a museum that was rather expensive. Just out of curiosity, I asked them if they had a discount for kids with disability. They did. Quite a steep discount. So we got a much cheaper entrance fee because of that. And they didn't even require me to show the disability card.

When we went rock climbing recently, I asked them again about any discounts they may have. They had discounts for people with disabilities, and they asked me how many of my kids had disabilities, I told them two, and they also had a discount for kids under the age of six, so they, without even asking to see my disability cards, gave me discounts for two kids in addition to the discount for a kid under age six, so it ended up being much cheaper than the original price listed.

Use The Web to Look for Them

Something else I recently learned, now that I got a credit card, is that there are oftentimes many available discounts, at least locally, for people who have specific companies' credit cards, that are not advertised widely. I've decided that before I go do something, to look online to see if there are discounts for my credit card. When I took my kids ice skating, by ordering tickets online through my credit card company, I paid less than half of the expensive original price. Going to the movies, I found that for the price of 2 tickets, I get 2 tickets and popcorn and drinks, just by ordering through my credit card company. And no, this wasn't visible on the website in either place, I had to google the name of my credit card and the place I wanted to go, and only then did I find results.

When you're planning to do an activity, not only should you check your credit card company do see if they have discounts for those activities, but check Groupon. When we were on our last family vacation, we went on a glass bottom boat, but by checking out Groupon first, I found the same exact ride for half the price.

When Not To Ask
This post would not be complete without a caveat. And to be honest, at first I was debating whether or not it was wrong to post this, because I personally don't like when people ask me for a discount. And that's why I wanted to add, that as much as "Just Ask" is a great money saving tip, there is a time and place where this is acceptable.

If you're in the supermarket and go to the checkout, you don't ask them there "Can I have a discount on this?" I think we all agree that if we want a discount at the supermarket, then we shop sales, use coupons, and shop around. Asking at the register for a discount is just tacky.

However, though we all (hopefully agree) not to ask at the register for a discount, there might be a time and place to ask for a discount in the supermarket. For example, you might speak to the manager and ask if they are willing to sell you something at a discount if you buy an entire case of it. Or if there are some produce items that have seen better days, you can ask the manager if you can get a discount on some really past prime produce. Or if you see something past its sell by date, again, ask the manager.

But that's not all. More on that in a bit. First I wanted to point out other times that it isn't acceptable to ask for a discount.

When I teach my foraging class, I get royally peeved when people ask me for a discount. The reason is not because I'm a money hungry person who wants to take all your money. In fact, its quite the opposite.

I've been told by so many people that I charge way too little for my classes. But that is done intentionally. I charge very little because I want to make it accessible to everyone, to make a class that doesn't keep this knowledge away from people who don't have money to come. I charge very little, to the extent that everyone is already getting a discounted rate. And I provide a bring a friend discount and a family rate. When people ask me for a discount on top of that, I do get miffed, because I personally feel like they don't realize that I'm already charging much less than I should be charging to give everyone a discount, and they aren't valuing my time or my expertise, because if I gave people a discount on top of my already discounted rate, I would practically be losing money. (That said, I have been known to give select people free admission to my classes, people who approach me and tell me that they really want to come to my class but can't afford it. But that is very different than people, for example, seeing my $15 dollar price and asking for a discount.
Don't ask for a discount on an already low price. The one exception I have to this is in scratch and dent stores or reduced rack stalls at the market. Often they want to move products quickly and they've offered me a discount on buying in bulk, so once I know that they will do that, in the future I may ask about discounts for bulk. But only once they offer it to me first.

For other things, to be honest, I charge a larger price tag. So I understand people asking me for a discount then. But because of various reasons, I don't generally give out discounts for those. However, people who approach me and say "Hey, I want to be a long time customer of yours, are you willing to give me a bulk discount?" I am much more likely to agree to that. You see, I'm getting something out of that. I'm getting more work, and you're getting a discount.
The people that annoy me most are people who don't just ask me for a discount, but ask for a price that is 5-20% of my asking price. That is just rude. Don't do that. If you ask for a discount, don't tell them "This is what I'll pay you", especially if the number is laughably little. That's rude.

And accept no for an answer. Don't pester. If you ask for a discount and they say no, then that's the end of it. Don't badger them and explain to them why they should be giving you a discount. And if they do give a discounted price, accept that, don't try to bargain them down to accept it lower.
However, if you ask for a price and don't like the price, feel free to walk away. If they then offer you a lower price to keep you as a client, then that's fine. But I'm not ok with haggling when someone already tells you an answer. But that's just me.

So to sum it up:

Rules For Asking For Discounts
  • Don't ask for discounts on already cheap items.
  • If offered a discount, accept the price given, or walk away. Don't try to get them to give you a bigger discount.
  • Ask them what their price is, don't tell them what you are going to pay.
  • Be reasonable. Don't ever ask for more than a 25% discount.
  • Ask the right person, like the manager, not a cashier.
  • Give something back in exchange for the discount- like taking past prime/past date items off their hand, or a bulk purchase. Don't ask for a discount without giving anything in exchange.
  • Respect the no. When someone says no, do not pester them. No means no.

And lastly, while I don't add this as an official rule, I personally feel very different asking entrepreneurs/self employed people about discounts than I do big companies. Entrepreneurs usually have to work really hard to survive financially, and don't get a steady salary. Every discount you ask for means less money for them, and often those discounts can make or break it for such a person. So overall, I nearly never will ask an entrepreneur for a discount, and feel less bad asking companies for one.

What about you? Do you generally ask for discounts or look for discounts? What are your rules for when you will ask for discounts and when you won't? If you're an entrepreneur, how do you personally feel and respond when people ask you for a discount?

Where is the Safest Place to Put Your Drain Cleaner

This post, sent to me by reader, Jack, has some good ideas about where to store drain cleaner, and safer homemade alternatives as well. I would add to this list that whereever you store drain cleaner, if you have little kids at home, use a child safety lock on the doors. Or, if you don't have those, keep them on a really high shelf. Personally I keep things like that above my stacked washing machine and dryer, far out of reach of any climbing kids.


If you don’t pay attention to what goes in your drains, they’ll eventually get clogged. The good news is that most of the clogged drains can be troubleshot easily without the need of a plumber. All you’ll need is the audacity to forage for the debris causing the clog and using some household chemicals. While most drain clogs are similar in reaction, the causes sometimes are different. A bathroom sink drain will have hair clogging it, while a kitchen sink would probably be filled with leftover food that didn’t go down, and that can pose a serious issue.

While the use of many cleaners with loads of chemicals may be toxic and dangerous, leaving them out in the open for kids and pets to spill them or mistakenly play with them should be your main concern. You will need to save these cleaning products in safe places where small children or any furry babies you have can’t reach them. In this guide, we’ve curated a list of the places you need to put your drain cleaner while mentioning the recommended cleaner. Read on!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Stir Fried Broccoli with Hoisin Sauce Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Easy


Once upon a time all my kids liked broccoli, calling them little trees. But as they got older, they got pickier, and now, on a good day, I'm lucky if I get one kid eating broccoli if I make it.

But I got a bunch of broccoli free the other day, because it was a little bit older, and I knew I wanted to do something with it. As I had hoisin sauce at home that I made, and knew that hoisin sauce is a good base for stir fry, what I'd do with my broccoli was a little obvious to me.

I made this broccoli stir fry, expecting to eat it myself, and bring it to a family who was hosting me for dinner, but my kids saw me making it, and devoured so much of it, even kids who generally turn up their nose to broccoli. We definitely have a winner here.

This recipe is gluten free and vegan, easy, and allergy friendly too, as long as you make it with my homemade hoisin sauce. You can definitely also make this with frozen broccoli, it just won't end up with the same al dente texture.

8 Natural Ways to Support Urinary Health


If you want to keep your body healthy, here's some tips on how to support urinary health, from a reader.
Urinary system

Urinary tract health isn’t something you need to leave up to chance. Protecting your urinary health means adopting some simple healthy habits now and throughout your life. Following are some adjustments you can make to your diet and lifestyle to keep your bladder functioning at its best.

Friday, February 7, 2020

How To Save Money on Your HVAC Unit


In my house I have two units that are both heaters and air conditioners. Apparently they're called HVAC units, so if you're wondering what those are, it stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. (Yes, I learned something new from one of my sponsored posts.) Unfortunately, despite calling a repair person to fix them a few weeks ago, they again weren't working. The first time, there was a problem with something in the outside units, and the repairman took care of them.
But up until yesterday morning, one unit wasn't even turning on, and the other unit, it would turn on, then turn off after 30 minutes approximately every single time. Which was very frustrating.

So yesterday the repair person came by, and for the big HVAC unit, fortunately it was a super simple fix. We have been having lots of black outs and electrical surges, but I had a surge protector, which should have stopped that from destroying my unit! But the unit still wasn't working! Turns out that the electric surges fried the surge protector, but the HVAC works just fine once I took out the surge protector. Thankfully for that line of defense! (And now I will contact the electric company who reimburses you for damages caused by surges, based on experience.)

But the other unit? While the repair person was fixing it, we were talking, and he heard that I blog teaching people to save money, and he told me that he had a good idea for a blog post for me.

6 Simple (Yet Effective) Ways to Help Your Kids Get a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep issues with kids are the bane of my existence. Some great tips here from a reader on how to help your kids with their good night's sleep.


The second babies are born, most moms kiss sleeping goodbye because of the little ones’ schedule and the fact that they wake up every hour or two making it extremely hard to find time to rest. It’s only when they grow up a little that they tend to have longer hours of sleep; however, not all children are lucky to have that. Therefore, moms tend to try various methods on their children to afford a comfy environment for their bedtime.

So, if you’re a mom whose kids are struggling to enjoy sweet dreams at night, follow this article to find the best 6 effective solutions to this problem.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Copycat Easy Cheesy Corn Recipe



There's this fast food place near me that is nearly entirely gluten free, that I ate out at recently. Its name is officially "Corn" and it has two main types of things. Cheesy corn, as well as a baked potato bar. Watching them make my corn, it was so easy and simple, and yet when I tasted it, it was better than any corn I ever make. So of course, I replicated it at home.

That doesn't mean I won't ever buy it out again, because its still a convenient place to buy dinner when I'm out of the house. But here's how to give that same great taste at home, for a fraction of the cost.

The restaurant gives you various toppings to put on your corn, I like sweet chili sauce, but it's good without. The other options that they have that you may want to top yours with are sriracha, salsa, garlic dressing, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, aioli, and some more that don't translate well.

P.S. This recipe looks pretty similar to Korean cheesy corn. Guess we all love our cheese and corn!

Copycat Easy Cheesy Corn Recipe

How to Save On College Expenses


I've been reading more and more about people's college debt, and how it hurts them financially for the rest of their life, or at least many years down the line. I'd love to prevent that as much as possible for my kids, which is why, even though there are many years until my kids are college age, I am thinking now about how to save on their college expenses. Here's an idea sent in by a reader, how to lower their living fees while at college.


Keeping costs down as a college student is an essential tip a parent can impart to their children. Parents can teach their children how to stay frugal as they embark on their college life. When you send your child to college, aside from funding their tuition, you also have to think about the college dorm.

When your child is in his or her freshman year, they may find it harder to luck out in the savings department since most universities require them to live on campus. That said, the following years can be an opportunity for savings. Cutting down expenses while in college is possible. Here’s how:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Homemade Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce Recipe, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan, and Easy


I grew up with Chinese food at home on a regular basis. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce were some of the staple condiments used in my home. But ever since going gluten free almost 9 years ago, I haven't had any hoisin sauce. I can barely ever find it locally, and when I do, it always has gluten in it.

For the longest time, for some strange reason, I thought it was made with plums, then I realized I was mixing up umeboshi paste and hoisin sauce.

Lately, as I've been looking into different Asian recipes to make for my family (and you), I kept on coming upon recipes that called for hoisin sauce, and then needed to find alternatives without hoisin sauce. Until I finally said "Why not just see if I can make my own version?"

As I was doing my research about how to make my own hoisin sauce, so many homemade versions had peanut butter in it, and others had tahini in it, and those both seemed wrong. No, peanut butter is in pad thai sauce, not hoisin sauce, and tahini is middle eastern, not Chinese!

So I decided to do some research about what authentic hoisin sauce is made from, and its is predominantly made from soybeans. Fermented soybean paste! And none of these recipes I was finding mentioned soybeans, let alone fermented soy beans! But you know what is fermented soy beans? Miso! I knew I'd be looking for a hoisin sauce recipe using miso. And, though my brain insisted otherwise, sesame seeds are a traditional ingredient for hoisin sauce, so I guess tahini does actually make sense for it as well. But peanut butter? That's out. I'm not sure what led to so many hoisin sauce recipes online call for peanut butter...

I ended up finding these three recipes that ended up looking most promising, using the ingredients that are meant to be found in hoisin sauce. And the result was undeniably delicious. And surprisingly easy to make.

Hoisin sauce, once you have it, can be used in a variety of ways. One of the most famous ways is in char siu pork, Chinese barbecue pork, as a dipping sauce for egg rolls or dumplings or steamed buns, or in stir fries, and it is commonly added to pho in Vietnam.

Once you make it, it should keep in the fridge for at least a week, more than that I can't promise you. This was enough to make one jar, as shown.

To keep this gluten free, make sure to use gluten free soy sauce and gluten free miso. This recipe is vegan as written.

If you want, you can replace the first six ingredients in the recipe with 2 teaspoons of Chinese Five Spice Powder, as this is ad hoc my version of that.

Homemade Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce Recipe, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan, and Easy

Is Overdraft Protection a Good Idea?

Where I live, we don't have so many issues with credit cards. But what we do have is overdraft protection. So many people swear by it, as a back up, but for so many people, it causes tremendous financial issues, as people dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes. This post explores overdraft protection, how it works, and whether or not it is a good idea.



There are different ways in which consumers can protect themselves. You can think of the car and travel insurance, as well as protection against theft. But believe me, there are also various ways in which consumers can mess themselves up, including through the aforementioned protection. In banking, there is a provision for consumers to get overdraft protection which primarily protects them from overdrawing an account. However, is it a wise move for rational consumers? Well, it seems to be a good idea on face value. Many consider it in case they make purchases via debit cards and lack enough money in the accounts. In this case, the bank is at liberty to transfer money from any of the related accounts, including savings to account, to finance the purchase.

You may avoid that embarrassment that might come at the check-out point. Nevertheless, you can end up paying huge fines and fees. The wise say it is better to prevent than it is to cure. For many individuals and businesses, overdraft protection might turn out to be more effective compared to fees charged by banks. Although the fees may not be horrible, they can accumulate in case you keep overdrawing your account.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Easy French Toast Casserole Recipe


I know, this isn't much to look at, but the taste is wonderful, and you want to try it out!


Stale bread. You ever have it at home? I know that, despite my trying to avoid it, its a regular occurrence in my home. And I don't want to waste that stuff. But there's only so much bread crumbs I want to use. French toast is a great way to use up stale bread, but the standing, dipping, frying, repeat is something that can be both time consuming and tedious. Here's a way to get the same great taste without all the work- French toast casserole. Or, as my kids told me "It tastes like French toast, but looks like cake". That was before they told me "Right, you're making sure to put this on your blog? Because it's that good and needs to be shared."

While I used this specific amount this past time, the recipe is totally flexible. Play around with it. Use a different sweetener, use less or more sweetener, use fewer eggs, use non dairy milk, add fruit- the sky is the limit.

Easy French Toast Casserole Recipe

Inexpensive Activities To Get Your Child Out Of The House No Matter The Season

Are your kids screen free and you're looking ideas of things to do with them? Or do they use screens but you want to give them other things to do, ways to get fresh air and leave the house, and have a fun time while you're at it? Try these 10 inexpensive ideas sent in from a helpful reader.


The great outdoors is calling you to come and explore. Whether you are living in the city, suburb, or somewhere farther, there are plenty of things that you and your child can do outside no matter what the season is. People know that there are a lot of things competing for their attention nowadays and sometimes it can be hard to get them to go out. Sometimes playing on their phones and tablets games about nature are enjoyable for them than actually experiencing it.

Here are ten ideas that you can do to get your kids outside to play and explore!

Easy Thai Cucumber Salad Recipe -- Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Allergy Friendly Options


I recently found this recipe for a thai cucumber salad when searching for another recipe and it seemed so awesome and different and delicious, so I decided to make it, with my own variations, and it definitely hits the spot. Its the perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. While the original recipe calls for peanuts, I made it with almond slivers instead and it was phenomenal, but of course if you have allergies to nuts and peanuts, feel free to replace with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, or leave them out. It won't have the same crunch, but it'll still be great.

This recipe is gluten free and vegan automatically, and to keep it paleo use homemade sweet chili sauce and use almonds instead of peanuts, and make sure your sweetener is paleo legal.

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is? It takes less than 5 minutes from when you think of making this to having it already on the table.

Definitely try this one out.

Easy Thai Cucumber Salad Recipe -- Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Allergy Friendly Options

How to Protect Your Kids from Flea Bites

We've had our dog now for 1.5 years, and she had fleas twice. But fortunately, we've never had to deal with flea bites on the family. This post, though, is a great piece with information of what to do to make sure that doesn't happen to your family, especially if you have pets.



Fleas are the last thing anyone wants to deal with. Trying to get rid of these wingless, tiny bugs that bother our pets can be so frustrating—and now they can bother our children, too!

We won’t always be able to protect our children from fleas, but we can do our best to prevent and treat the situation. Fleas usually feed on dogs, cats, horses, and humans; most warm-blooded mammals, really. You are more likely to get bitten by a flea if you have pets, so we have compiled a list to help you protect yourself and your children from flea bites.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Why I Finally Got a Credit Card, and How Have One Safely


I will admit, one of the things that are more challenging for me in life is to see more shades of grey and be less dogmatic about things, realizing that there is a middle path. Certain decisions of mine, mainly parenting, I tried to do the opposite from how I was raised, because I realized how bad it was for me, that I ended up swinging to the opposite extreme, which also wasn't good. It wasn't even unhealthy for my kids, but it was unhealthy for me, because I ran myself ragged, all because I wanted to do things right. Over time, and with therapy, I've worked on being less extreme in my positions, and to take the good from certain dogmas, while leaving the less beneficial parts behind.

So, I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I think he is really great, and his baby steps and get out of debt plans are good, solid advice. And I have all the respect for him.
But he's human. Which means sometimes his advice just doesn't work. Or isn't the best for everyone. Or needs to be tailored to your situation.

One of the things Dave Ramsey talks about is that you shouldn't have a credit card. Credit cards are bad, bad, bad. Don't do it. Blah blah blah.

How To Make Your Child’s Graduation A Special One

I will admit, I have never had a graduation celebration. In fact, I never even went to my graduation. I received my high school diploma from a brick and mortar school that accredits homeschoolers, and the graduation ceremony was in Maine, and right as my family was making an international move. So no, I didn't attend. And to be honest, I don't feel like it was such a loss. However, I know for many, a graduation ceremony is the biggest thing, and very meaningful. Here's how you can make your child's graduation special.



Perhaps one of the proudest moments in anyone’s young life is their graduation. It would be the end of a rigorous journey called education, and they would finally get that elusive diploma or those extra letters at the end of their names.

But no one would be more proud of these achievements than the parents who have supported their children through thick and thin. And to mark the end of all the hardships in the academe, some parents tend to give their children one big surprise – by giving them the celebration they can never forget.

How do you do it? Does it have to be grand? What can you do on a limited budget? Read on to find out.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Homemade Tom Yum Soup Recipe, Thai Hot and Sour Soup, Fish Free, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly


I think one of the most well known of Thai dishes, and especially soups, is tom yum. This is a hot and sour soup, often made with shrimp, but not necessarily. I already have a recipe on my blog for tom kha gai, which, to be honest, is not tremendously different from this one, but they're both good, so why not include both?
I tried to look up what the difference is between these two soups, and this is one of the websites that I found that explained it best. Tom means boiled in Thai, so soups generally start with that. Yum is a mix of flavors that includes sweet, sour, and spicy. So tom yum means sweet, sour, spicy soup.
Kha means galangal, in the ginger family, so tom kha is soup that has galangal as the base of its flavor. Add gai or kai, which means chicken, and you have tom kha gai, which is galangal chicken soup.
Tom kha gai is made with coconut milk, whereas tom yum can be made clear, or with evaporated milk, or with coconut milk. When its made with coconut milk, its called tom yam kathi, and when its with chicken, its got the word gai added to the end.

So while this version, having coconut milk, and chicken broth, are rather similar to tom kha gai, other versions aren't necessarily as similar.
This version, being tom yum, has sweetener added, while tom kha gai does not.

Tom yum generally requires fresh lemongrass, but I know how hard it can be to get that in some places, so I used dried lemongrass (from a spice store) for mine. I left out the kafir lime leaves which are hard to get, and used ginger instead of galangal, because that's what I have available.

I loved this, and could eat bowl after bowl of this. But you have to enjoy hot and sour to enjoy this one, so only some of my kids enjoyed it.

This version, being fish free, is great for anyone with a fish allergy, and as it is gluten free and free of the top 8 allergens, is also allergy friendly and paleo legal as well.

Homemade Tom Yum Soup Recipe, Thai Hot and Sour Soup, Fish Free, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Can I earn a lot of money by blogging?

I love blogging. I've been doing it for the past 11 years by now, and I must admit, it's taken quite a few years before my blog became profitable. Here's a post from a reader about some things to consider if you've thought about starting a blog.


You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t seen the massive rise in popularity of blogs over the last decade. There are blogs for absolutely everything, from sports to news and everything in between. Thanks to the innovations we have seen on the internet recently, it has become extremely easy to create your own blog. Simply google “Create a blog”, follow the steps and voila, you have your own blog. It can be done within 5 minutes. Then all you have to do is write an article, check it hasn’t been written already by running it through an online plagiarism tool like the one found here and post it.

Those who gain a good following and are skilled with a computer can turn blogs into passive income streams. With advertisements, affiliate links, promotional content and product selling pages, the ways you can earn money from your blog are endless.

Still skeptical?

Let me show you the top-earning blog in the world.

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