Friday, April 16, 2021

A New Way I Learned To Save Money on Public Transportation

This post is dedicated to my friend Babs who is responsible for this way I've been saving money lately.

I live without a car. Once in a while I'll rent one, but I use the bus generally to get around. Where I live there's a bus to the nearest city, and if the intercity bus doesn't reach where I want to go, then within the city I can either take another bus (or many) or take the light rail or a combination.

Our buses to the city cost 85 cents. Within the city buses cost $1.70. It used to be you could get a transfer if you pay cash, but then they changed it and you could only get a transfer within 1.5 hours if you used a smart card to pay for your fare. You could fill up your smart card on the buses. With the smart card, for every dollar you put on you get an extra 25 cents added to the amount of money on your card. With a child's smart card, for every dollar you put in, you get 2 dollars. Then when you used the card the fee would come off the card's total, but because you got more than you put in, you still got a discount, half off for the kids and 20 percent off for you. You also get an automatic transfer when using these cards within an hour and a half.

In addition to this, you can also get a daily pass on your card. Either a daily pass for within the city (and intercity to places with cheap bus service like where I live) or more expensive ones for larger locations, such as between different cities and within them, with different fares depending on where you were going, which was generally significantly cheaper than paying for fares each way. The daily pass within the city was only worth it if you took the bus at least 3 separate times (not within 1.5 hours of each other). The intercity pass was always worth it.

Then things got more complicated.

8 Best Ways to Save More Money

Looking for ways to save money on expenses? Here's some suggestions from a reader.

A good income is no indicator of financial well-being. Some people manage to live without denying themselves anything and even save money earning less than $1,000. Others think that $10,000 per month is not enough. The money disappears somewhere by the end of the first week because they spend it on all from restaurants to the best live casino offers. Money management is a science, and these rules will help you study it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Top 20 Natural Pest Control Remedies 

Do you hate bugs in your home? I certainly do. But I'll be honest, I have a hard time calling exterminators because locally there were some really irresponsible exterminators who used dangerous chemicals and ended up killing two small children from it. I prefer to use natural pest control remedies whenever I can; here are some safe and effective natural ways to keep your home and garden free of those little critters.

Safe, non-toxic pest control methods for your home

Pests are a nuisance to everyone, and we all want to get rid of them. Certainly, there are methods that have been tested through the years that we have been battling these unwanted species.

We had some help from our local exterminators Pro Pest Control Sydney who offered some insight into the advantages of using natural pest control methods. They also gave us 20 everyday items that can effectively work as natural pest control remedies.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Updated "About Me" For the Blog

After literally 9 years of not updating my about page on my blog, and people nudging me to update the extremely outdated about me section, I finally did it today. I thought about just linking to it within this post but then this post would be incredibly short, so I just copied it here as well.

For those that are new to my blog, this may help you learn a bit more about me. For those who've been here a while, maybe you'll learn something new?

Hello there and welcome to my about page. It has been far too long since I updated it last (9 years ago!!!!), and it was about time. If you've been reading my blog a while you will probably know about most of these updates already, but for the newbies I wanted to introduce myself and share what this blog is about.

This blog was started 11 years ago when I was in a time of great financial crisis. I had heard about a woman who blogged about her extreme frugality and made money from her blog and I loved writing and felt I had a lot of great ideas to share so took a gamble and started this blog. I was truly penniless then- the 10 dollars to buy the domain name was 10 dollars I didn't have, but I took the risk and I'm so glad I have. 

4 Points To Help You Decide Whether It’s Time To Relocate

I abhor moving. Absolutely detest it. If there were a list of the absolute most horrid things a person might have to do, moving is high up on that list for me. Yes, that much. I'm so happy I own my house so I don't have to move. But sometimes moving is a necessity. Sometimes not just moving houses but locations. Sometimes where you live just isn't right for you anymore. But how do you make the decision? Here are some points from a reader to help you decide.

This planet is huge and full of so many different opportunities. Whether we’re talking about professional life, recreational life, or personal life, Earth can give us so many different options. Plenty of people will want to stay in the same place every single day for the rest of their lives. For whatever reason, the idea of moving around just doesn’t seem attractive at all. That’s fine, of course, but humans are meant to travel around – it’s in our nature.

When you get the itch to move abroad or to a place hundreds of miles away, it can be easy to doubt whether it’s a good idea. The brain likes to play tricks on us, doesn’t it? If you’re in this predicament right now, then perhaps these four thoughts can help you out a little and make the answer a little clearer

Exciting News to Share

You know what that face is?

It's genuine happiness.

A feeling of freedom.


I asked Mike 2 years and 8 months ago for a divorce. 

Mike moved out 2 years and 5 months ago.

Paying for Child Care: When Does it Make Sense?

When my kids were little, the obvious choice for me was to stay home with them, not just from an ideological perspective but also from a monetary one- I wouldn't make enough money to make paying child care worthwhile. So instead I worked from home so the kids could be with me. This is something that many parents debate- is it actually worthwhile to pay for childcare? Here are some thoughts on the subject from a reader. Hope you find it as interesting as I did!

Child care services offer parents a lot of freedom and flexibility, but the costs can be substantial. For many parents living on minimum wage or a single income, paying for a full-time child care program is out of reach. Although costs can vary depending on where you live, they take up a large chunk of an average salary almost everywhere. This situation causes many parents to wonder if it makes any financial sense to pay for child care. It often seems more cost-effective for one of the parents to give up their job and stay at home.

So, when does it make sense to pay for child care?

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

What To Do When You Flop Your Rice

Usually I am good at cooking rice.

Ok, I take that back.

I used to be more or less fine cooking rice, but occasionally I'd burn it because I'd get distracted.

So I started cooking rice in the oven because it doesn't matter as much when you take it out; it's more forgiving that way. 

Cooking rice in the oven is supposed to be simple. And it usually is. 2 cups water for every cup of rice, cover it, bake it for 30-45 minutes or until ready. If you leave it for 15 minutes longer it's not a big deal.

But yesterday I had really, really bad luck with rice. And it sucked because my daughter was hungry and she asked specifically for rice because I hadn't made it in some time and rice is one of her favorite foods (I know, right?). 

I specifically put in two pans of rice. I put the rice in the oven but -TMI warning- I had to use the bathroom badly so I didn't cover it right away, and I wonder if that was the issue here... 

Because half an hour later, the water was all gone but the rice looked and tasted dry and gritty. I added an extra cup of water to it and baked it for longer but it was still dry and gritty. So I added more water. And when the water was absorbed I had pasty rice.


How To Avoid Debt (and What To Do If You Can’t)

Debt avoidance is much better than debt management. Here are some tips from a reader on how to act to prevent getting into debt and the best course of action to follow if taking a loan is inevitable.

Debt is one of the most dangerous financial situations you can find yourself in. There are several causes of debt: unexpected costs, expensive life events (like moving house), or poor money management. Some of these causes are unavoidable, while others can be planned for. Either way, you want to avoid debt at all costs.

If you go into debt, you will find your lifestyle changed. In the short term, debt can lower your credit score, remove your ability for financing, and even cause creditors to bring lawsuits against you.

In the long term, the effects can be even more disastrous. It can take years to pay off debt, which means years of restriction, tight budgeting and poor emotional health from the strain. If a lawsuit is brought against you successfully, the consequences you may face could follow you around for years.

In summary - avoiding debt is paramount.

DIY Carpet Stain Removal Tips

I used to have a carpet in my kids' room and I needed to throw it out because the kids got slime in it and I couldn't get it out. (Slime has since been banned from my house.) Too bad I didn't have these tips that a reader sent me or I might have been able to save the carpet!

Smart tips to keep your carpet looking pristine 

Getting stains on your carpet is inevitable. You may accidentally spill your drink or drop your food. Then, you rush to rinse it off with water but still find a spot on your carpet. Just like that, your carpet is already stained. 

Even without kids or pets, a carpet disaster can happen anytime. When this happens, a DIY solution to remove the stain is usually the first thing that comes to one’s mind.   

The experts from No1 Carpet Cleaning Melbourne, a local carpet cleaning company based in Southern Victoria, share some easy-to-follow carpet stain removal tips that will make your carpet look spotless again.    

Monday, April 5, 2021

Buying New Chairs and The Importance of Sinking Funds

I haven't had a lot of success with appliances and furniture lately, to put it mildly, as I mentioned recently. Fridge, stove, and hot water all stopped working at once. And I didn't even write in my posts about my issues with my dishwasher and needing to call a repairman out because of a massive flood it was causing in my kitchen. When it rains, it certainly does pour.

But it didn't end there.

Three years ago we bought a table and chair set and we were quite excited about them. But they were cheap and not the best quality and the chairs have really been problematic lately. Like they were wobbly and not so great to sit on. The legs on some chairs bent a bit. And when I stood on one time I felt the seat break a bit.

But they worked.

And while the chairs weren't great and I wanted to replace them, I told myself that that was a want, not a need, and there were enough other expenses that I had that it wasn't right to just buy new chairs- that would be a sign of my being spoiled. I could wait with that, especially since I was having fridge and hot water issues and I was getting a new oven anyhow and paid a little more for a giant oven, which is a bit of a splurge.

It wasn't the right time for me to indulge my "petty" desire for nicer chairs.

And then my friends came over for dinner. And in the middle of dinner two of the chairs around the table literally split in half. Not screws loosening as had been happening for a while with these chairs. Nope, the metal snapped where it was soldered together. Definitely not fixable.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Family's Finances

Debt sucks. Unfortunately thanks to college many adults start out their life with significant debt. Another large percentage of people have credit card debt because of their income being less than their expenses. Debt is tough because each month the payments can eat up a sizable amount of your income, making you have even less disposable income. If you're in that situation, here are some suggestions from a reader on what you can do to improve your family's finances.

When you graduate from college with a four-year degree in hand, you leave the hallowed halls of learning behind and are suddenly thrust into the world of adult responsibilities. It's now time to get a full-time job, where you will work endless hours as you try to handle your projects and lengthy to do list. You'll also have to find a place to rent and then you'll have to buy all of the things you need to set up your first home. Once you get settled in, you'll have some time to start exploring your new town and hanging out with friends again.

While the change from college student to adult is a big transition, nothing prepares you for being a parent and strapping on all of those new demands. Suddenly, everything you do has to be considered in terms of how it helps take care of your family. You can't just live anywhere, you have to get in a good neighborhood where your family will be safe and the schools are great too. When you have kids, you quickly find out it's even harder to make ends meet. Your finances take a hit, because it takes money to raise a child.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Parenting Tips: How to Communicate With Teenagers

Raising teenagers is considered to be quite hard. That is the common consensus. Many teens and their parents do not get along. I am lucky that my teen son and I have a good relationship. However, these things are not a given. Here are some tips from a reader on how to better communicate with your teens, so that you can have a better relationship.

Raising children is fraught with many challenges. After all, no one wants a child to get into bad company, start smoking, gamble at nationalcasino.com/en_au, and the like. And it is natural that the older the child becomes, the more difficult it is to find a common language with him. The greatest difficulties, as a rule, begin with the onset of adolescence.

Let's take a look at tips on how to communicate with your teen children properly.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Buying an Exciting Giant Oven and Rearranging My Living Room and Dining Room

I mentioned in my recent post that I had so many things breaking at a time. What I didn't mention, though, is that my stove had been breaking for a long time, and it wasn't a new thing. I was just suffering with a barely working stove, making everything take longer since I could only cook two pots at a time, and one of those pots cooked very slowly, and the other burner sometimes would either try to explode or flutter out. The oven was problematic from when I got it. For some reason the steam dripping down the inside of the oven made the bottom of the oven rust and flake off from the very beginning. It was gross and I couldn't justify getting rid of it just for the aesthetic, so I kept my nasty looking oven for far too long. It was only after the burners were really affecting my life negatively that I decided I'd get a new oven. (And only once I was able to ascertain that I didn't need to buy a new fridge. I could live with two not so great functioning burners; I do not ever want to live without a fridge again- 8 days was far more than enough!!!)

When I was looking for an oven, I decided to see if I could find a larger one than what I had before. Because even when the burners were working, if I had a larger pot or a wok it often took up half the stovetop and I could maybe cook one other thing on it. As someone who does a lot of cooking and dabbled in catering for a few weeks last year (before my health issues didn't let me continue), I saw how much extra time it took me to cook when I was not able to use all my burners in one go. More burners, I knew, would be very, very useful for me even just cooking for my family, but especially if my body starts cooperating more and I want to attempt catering again. I'd seen stoves with five burners on them but the fifth burner is a small one in the middle of the other four, and it still has the same surface area as the standard stovetop, so it wouldn't help me at all, because you can't use them at the same time. So I decided to look for a stove/oven that had 6 burners, but all of them were ridiculously expensive, at least 3 or 4 times the price of a standard stove/oven, even the cheapest ones that existed. Then I looked on the price comparison website for a 5 burner stove, attempting to see if one existed that wasn't with overlapping burners and I found quite a few that were only about 75 dollars more than the standard one. I was shocked at how little extra five-burner stoves cost, even when they were extra wide. With only that different of a price, I knew I had to get it. 

The only thing was the width. My house is great, but it is small. The kitchen is combined with a living room and dining room, and I had to make sure that everything would fit. There is no nook for my oven, it just goes next to the counter, so I had no actual limitations in terms of size. I did, however, need to be able to fit my furniture into the room. My dining room table was next to the oven and I measured- at 90 cm (30 cm wider than my old oven, I think) it still gave enough room to have my dining room table there. But just barely.

I ordered it. So it would be tight. That's fine. I pull the table out anyhow for meals, more towards the center of the room, so I'd do that whenever our family would have a meal, I thought.

The oven arrived. It was beautiful! So big and wide and with so much room to cook! Exactly what I wanted!

But when I put my table next to it, I saw just how difficult it would be to have the table there. So I decided to switch it all up, and reconfigure my entire space.

The best money-saving apps available to download right now

I love money saving. I love applications on my phone. Apps that save me money are the best kind. Here are some suggestions on money saving apps sent to me by a reader.

Saving money isn’t the easiest of goals to smash, particularly at the moment during these difficult and financially testing times for a lot of people. Fancy dinners can be made on a budget, or the occasional bargain can be found online. Still, overall the cost of living can catch up with people and lead to the rare stressful moment or two further down the line.

As is the way of the world now, there is pretty much an app for everything. That includes money-saving apps also, with an array of popular apps helping people all around the globe to make savings here and there wherever possible. Alongside this, sometimes your finances can feel overwhelming to manage and knowing exactly how much you should put aside for something can cause a headache. We have all been there.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Heartwarming Ways To Make Your Presence Felt Across The Miles

It's really hard when people you love don't live near you, and traveling to see them is either expensive or not doable for other reasons. But even if you aren't there in actuality, there are ways to essentially give a hug long distance. For example, when my best friend Michelle was living in the US, for her birthday I wanted to do something special, and I found out the contact information of a woman who makes fancy fruit platters and had her make and deliver one to Michelle. (It helped that it was in the city where I grew up, so it was easy for me to find friends who had this information.) 

Another time, during lockdown, my close friend Babs, who lives in another city, was having a hard day and I would have loved to make her dinner and bring it over to cheer her up, but was unable to. However, I contacted a restaurant near her and ordered her dinner for her family, which was the second best option. Here are some other ideas that a reader sent as to how you can show loved ones you care even without actually being there.

Given the last 12 months which we have had there are many of us who have not seen family or friends, and that has been difficult on us all. Thankfully however there are many ways in which we can still show our love and affection, no matter how far away we are. Whether it is a birthday, Christmas time, an anniversary or any other occasion, there is much that we can all do to make our presence felt across the miles.

If you are distanced from your loved one, here is exactly how you can ensure that they know you are thinking about them.

The New and Cool Smart Rubik's Cubes

My 13 year old son Lee is a whiz at just about everything technology related. (I wrote this post without his help, so if I sound like a total ignoramus when it comes to these stuff, its not his fault. I did get his permission to write about him though.) He taught himself how to use photoshop and movie editors and taught himself basic programming to use with arduino boards. He uses Scrap Mechanic and uses logic and basic programming to build things there.  But before he taught himself that, he used Minecraft to build things like basic computers using logic gates and binary (that he taught himself). But if I think about it, his first introduction to concepts used in these skills he has was with Rubik's cubes. At a certain point he was obsessed with Rubik's cubes, and he used algorithms to solve them. I'm pretty convinced that this was the starting point to his understanding and interest in algorithms and logic which led him down the path to his computing skills today.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Preventing Distracted Driving

I have an embarassing confession. I once got into two car accidents on the same hour long trip home. The first accident happened when I was already tired from a long day, and fortunately it was just a mild bumper to bumper accident with no damage. But because I was upset with myself for this accident, and the additional fact that I was already tired probably led me to getting into another accident not long after that, and this one did cause damage to the car I hit and I feel really embarrassed about that. Distracted driving is really problematic and while I only had material damages in my distracted driving accident, it can be deadly or cause serious injuries other times. Here are some suggestions from a reader as to how you can prevent this problematic occurrence when you drive.

Every day distracted driving claims the lives of eight people in the United States. Distracted driving occurs when drivers engage in an activity that takes their attention away from driving. This type of conduct has devastating impacts as each year around 3,000 people die and 400,000 are injured from crashes involving at least one distracted driver.

Distracted driving impacts not only drivers of the vehicles involved but also those outside the vehicle. For example, about one in five people killed in crashes involving a distracted driver were not inside a vehicle but rather walking or riding a bike.

It is important to identify different types of distracted driving so that drivers are aware and can correct their behavior before tragedy occurs.

How to Make Good Coffee at Home On a Budget

I used to be a coffee lover. Or rather, I still am but am not able to drink coffee, as coffee triggers my anxiety badly and my psychiatrist banned it and all stimulants from my life. But for many people, coffee is a very integral part of their morning ritual (and often many other times throughout the day). Many people on a tight budget still make sure to budget money for coffee from coffee places, because that little luxury is important to them, and there's no problem with that. But one often can have their cake and eat it too, getting that luxurious coffee while still saving money. A reader sent me these instructions as to how you can make your delicious coffee at home.

Money can be tight for all sorts of reasons, and when it is, you need to find ways to make the little things work. Coffee is the most popular beverage globally, and when it comes to your morning fix, a cup of ordinary coffee won’t always do. Sometimes you need to get the day started with something a little more substantial that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and on a budget that might be impossible. Some of the items might be in your home already, and all you need to do is add your favourite coffee click here. Let’s look into some options for good coffee on a budget: 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

My Easy Fix of a Friend's Necklace (That I Accidentally Broke)


My friend Babs was at my house for dinner yesterday and she was all dressed up for the occasion with a new necklace that her mentor gifted to her literally the day beforehand. It wasn't an expensive piece, just costume jewelry, but it was sentimental because of who gave it to her.

Somehow my hand got snagged on Babs' necklace as she abruptly moved, and the force snapped her brand new necklace in half.

I felt terrible about my part in ruining her brand new gift, and decided to see if I could fix it.

Check Out This Tasty Biltong Recipe

I know all about biltong from being married to a South African for over a decade; it is a dried meat that hails from South Africa, but I've never had a chance to actually taste it, because when my former brother in law made a batch it had gluten in it. Biltong is sometimes sold in powdered form, to be used as a seasoning in things. This recipe sent to me from a reader uses biltong powder and sounds absolutely delicious.

When you are on a budget and you want to serve something delicious and easy, Biltong shavings or powder will be the perfect item to have. It is inexpensive to stock, has a great shelf life, and you can add it to a wide range of dishes.

Try this tasty meal that’s quick and easy to prepare and can be added to your recipe collection:

Cheesy Biltong Omelette Recipe

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Easy Baked Onion Quinoa Recipe

If you want an easy and delicious recipe for a gluten free side dish, look no further than this quinoa recipe. It is so simple I almost feel bad to share it, but then realized that lots of people do like simple things and simple definitely doesn't mean bad. Its not something I've ever done before, so that means maybe a lot of you never would have thought to do it on your own. For this I can thank my friend Michelle who always bakes her quinoa with flavorful seasonings, something I'd never considered doing before.

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, allergy friendly, vegan, vegetarian, and super easy as well. If you're a quinoa fan, definitely give it a try.

Easy Baked Onion Quinoa Recipe

How To Get The Best Out Of Your Estate Agent

Are you looking to rent or buy a home, or rent out or sell a home you own? Real estate agents can be helpful with that. Here are some ideas from a reader about how to take the most advantage of your estate agent.

Estate agents are the number one people you want to contact when looking for a new home or office space. They are also the people you consult with when you finally decide to buy a new home or put your home up for rent. They are the eyes and ears of real estate, and if you find the right one, you are almost sure to get everything done efficiently and quickly.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Fridge, Hot Water, and Oven Drama

You know the phrase "When it rains, it pours"? Well, that certainly happened with our family recently. We all had a nasty cold (not corona, tested negative for that) and while that was raging in our family, we discovered that our refrigerator wasn't cooling things as it should and things were getting moldy and spoiling quickly in our fridge. This wasn't the first time recently that that happened- just in February the same thing happened and I repaired it, so I realized it was something more complicated than I originally thought, and decided to hire a repairman to fix it. I didn't want to have to keep doing the same fix monthly.

At the same time as our fridge stopped working, the hot water in our house stopped working as well. At first I assumed that it just wasn't sunny enough that day for the solar panels to heat up the water, so then when it was a sunny day and there still was no hot water, we thought that it was the solar water heater that wasn't working, and tried to use the electric hot water heater, but that also didn't work.

So get this. We were sick, our fridge wasn't working, and we had no hot water, so no hot showers to help clear up our congestion. It sucked.

And oh, did I mention that our combined stove/oven was on its last legs? Though it had four burners, one didn't work at all, one turned on to only the tiniest little flame ever, and one frequently made a small fiery explosion when it was turned on or sputtered a lot and sometimes went out. I only had one reliable burner, and for my family and someone that cooks like I do, that definitely wasn't usable. I knew I needed a new oven, but first I knew I needed to see what was with my fridge and the hot water for our house.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Fun Things For Kids to Do in Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas once for just a day. I didn't do anything there other than eat out at a restaurant and go grocery shopping and meet some locals for dinner. It was just our last stop on our family trip to the Grand Canyon as well as Bryce Canyon and Hoover Dam when I was a teen. I never even got to see the famous strip. Because of this, Las Vegas is on my bucket list to travel to once again, this time as an adult. One day, maybe. But if you're traveling to Vegas with kids, here are some ideas for kid friendly things to do with them, submitted by a reader. 

Las Vegas is known for being one of the places with the best casinos in the US. People often travel there with the intention to gamble, but nowadays you can do that online, with many Malaysian casinos online, so people don't need to go to Las Vegas to have fun with these games. But Las Vegas still is a fun place to visit because it has an air of excitement to the place. However, most of what Las Vegas is known for is not kid friendly. If you are traveling to Vegas with kids, here are some great Las Vegas attractions that are fun for the whole family including children.

Best Return Gift Ideas for your Child’s Birthday Party

Where you live, are party favors and goody bags a common thing given out at parties? For us here at regular birthday parties such things arent given out, but at school parties we do give out goodie bags. These things, I learned, thanks to this post sent to me by a reader, are sometimes called return gifts. Here are some cute ideas for what you can send as return gifts.

All kids wait for that special day of the year – their birthday. For that matter it is not only the kids but the adults also equally attach a lot of emotion to this special day.  As the day comes near, children bombard their parents with many questions related to this special day, like, what gifts they are going to get, who will be invited, what type of party the parents are thinking of, what dresses they would wear and many more. Birthdays are special for all kids, irrespective of their age, ethnicity, or social status. 

Many children today like playing games online or watching movies online. Sometimes when they're unsupervised on the internet they discover things that aren't age-appropriate such as casinos like WildBlaster, but even when they aren't going to websites meant for adults, they can be stuck in front of shows for hours instead of playing. When making a birthday party, you might want to think about what return gifts to give them, preferably ones that will engage their attention enough that they'll like using them even when they have the internet as an option. 

Here are some ideas of Return Gifts that most kids will enjoy and will excite them.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring Cleaning the Stockpile

I recently posted that I got some great deals from the scratch and dent store, but when I got home I had a hard time putting it away because the area under the stairs where I keep my grocery stockpile was a huge mess. As I looked at my pantry trying to decide what to do I decided that a bit of spring cleaning was in order.

My son Lee chides me that I have so much stuff in there that I don't know what is even in there, so I buy too many repeats, or I think I have something but I don't so I get stuck mid recipe (hello coconut milk). I decided to take everything out of my pantry into my kitchen and sort out everything by type and put it back in the pantry in a way that I can see what is where and find things when I need them.

It made a huge mess and is stressful and to be honest, doing so is not for the faint of heart.

5 Ways To Help Children Manage Their Frustration

As parents, its really hard when our kids are upset and we don't know how to help them. This post sent in from a reader gives some good suggestions as to how to help your children when they are frustrated. I hope you find it helpful!

Teaching and mentoring children can be a rewarding yet challenging experience. Children today encounter more obstacles and frustrations in life than kids typically might have in past decades. By providing resources and practical tips to help children build coping skills and learn to manage frustration, you are better able to help each child achieve his or her full potential and live a healthy, happy and productive life. Consider the following five, practical tips as a helpful guideline when attempting to help a child find constructive and safe ways to manage his or her frustration:

5 Tips to Make You Better at Gift Giving

Gifting is wonderful and its something I try to incorporate into my life regularly. It's always nice to look for tips on how to be an even better giver, and these tips sent to me by a reader are wonderful. I especially love the first one- while I've heard the concept before, the way it was worded is a really great way to help notice what would make someone's life better.

Who doesn’t love gifting?

Whether you’re giving someone you care about a wonderful present, or you’re receiving something to celebrate a milestone moment in your life, there’s nothing like a good present.

However, as fun as gifting can be, it can also be a real headache too. Finding the perfect present every time someone has a special occasion to celebrate is easier said than done. On top of that, you need to think about wrapping the item, and making it look extra special too.

Fortunately, if you’ve always struggled with gift giving, you’re in the right place. Here are some quick and simple tips that will make you better at the art of presents in no time.

Friday, March 19, 2021

My Latest Scratch and Dent Shop

It's been some time since I've been to the scratch and dent store near the open air market. I was in the area the other day, though, and since I'd heard from my friend Alison how awesome of a selection they had recently, I decided to go there. Of course I regretted not bringing my collapsable shopping wagon with me because I ended up finding such wonderful things there that I ended up buying a cheap cloth wagon from the store and lugged some bags in my arms and needed to take many breaks when bringing the stuff home, but I wasn't going to give up on those stuff just because of a little work. Too many good things to pass up.

Here's what I bought. I think you'll see why I found this shop exciting.

Tips to find right interior painter

Are you painting your place? Here are some tips from a reader about things to keep in mind before you decide on how to paint it.

The land of do-it-yourself can be a dangerous one, but even more dangerous is the prospect of hiring a professional, affordable interior painter! It’s important to consider a few simple principles when deciding how to hire an interior painter. Remember that it’s all about what you want, and then choose the painter that fits your budget.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Accepting and Taking Care of the Me, Now

This post is a hard one for me to write. I am a public figure, and share lots of things that are going on in my life. But I do try to keep up a certain image, and not share my struggles with the world. But sometimes, sharing those struggles is important, because it helps other people with their struggles as well. But it's still hard for me to admit these things. It's hard for me to be raw because I'm afraid people will judge me, and honestly, writing a post when I'm feeling raw often makes me cry when I'm writing the post, and this one is no different.

In addition to the physical issues I'm currently going through, I've been having a hard time mentally/emotionally as well. I've been doing a lot of therapy to try to help with that, adjusting my meds, but these things take time. Healing isn't always an upward climb, sometimes there are downs as well, and I've been having some downs recently. And these things affect how I act, how I think, and how I present myself to the world. Because of this, I have lots of uncertain feelings about whether the way I am now is the new me, a temporary me, or something else.

Because of that, it's hard for me to do things for myself. Feeling I'm worth it. Feeling that I should be spending the time and money and energy on myself now. Maybe I should wait until I'm healthy mentally. Maybe I should wait until I am completely anchored in where I am in life, and not going through more changes. Maybe I should wait until some time in the future when I "deserve" it.

6 Ideas To Create A Child’s Birthday Gift

Do you like to make things yourself? Are you a craft lover? Do your kids enjoy crafted things? If so, you might enjoy these ideas for crafts you can use as birthday gifts for your children that a reader sent me.

Birthdays are one of the most anticipated celebrations by children, next to Christmas. Especially if your kids know that their birthday is coming up, they get all excited about the cake that they’ll have, the colors of balloons that they get to play with, and the gifts or new toys that they’d love to unwrap. That’s why it’s a big deal for parents to plan a big birthday party for their children every year.

Sometimes, some parents get too wrapped up in planning fancy birthday parties for their child that they almost overlooked their child’s gift. So, how about your child’s gift? Have you thought about it thoroughly?

If you’re thinking of giving your child new clothes, they may not like receiving them at all. After all, kids their age don’t care much about their clothes or their fashion. Their mind is still centered on playing games, collecting toys, or eating sweet treats. Thus, it’s best to focus your gift on something that’s still within their age’s interest.

To help you out, read on below for more ideas for kids gifts that they’ll definitely love:

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Medical Update

Me cuddling with newly 7 year old Rose in the place I seem to be
spending most of my time these days, my bed.

It's been some time since I shared what is going on with me and my health situation and I wanted to update you.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been too much of a change. But I guess that means at least things aren't getting much worse. 

The biggest change really is that getting progressive glasses really helped and completely fixed my dizziness. That was a big thing because the dizziness was quite debilitating. Unfortunately, none of the rest of my symptoms resolved.

In December, after months of waiting, I finally started taking synthetic thyroid hormones, at a low dose, to hopefully help with my medical issues, including extreme fatigue. The endocrinologists through my HMO refused to prescribe me this medication, and my GP also refused, so I was pretty much stuck. Then I spoke to my dad, who also works for my old HMO, as a metabolic specialist (in addition to working as a cardiologist), and he agreed to prescribe me synthetic thyroid hormone, because my numbers and my symptoms showed that these meds should help me, even if they weren't extreme.

Things To Watch Out For Before Taking Out A Loan

Taking a loan out can have many downsides. There are problems with being in debt, as paying off loans can make any financial difficulties even worse. However, sometimes a loan is necessary. Here are some things to keep in mind before taking out a loan.

If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you were short on money, then you know that it is anything but pleasant. Worrying about where the money for your next meal will come from is not only stressful but can put your health at risk for years to come. To make matters worse, imminent financial doom can make you vulnerable to loan sharks. Understanding what you are getting into before taking out a loan is therefore crucial. This article will provide you with further tips on what you should check before taking out a loan.

Monday, March 8, 2021

How to Protect Your Pets With Bug Sprays

I have a dog and she's so cute. One of the things that is less cute about her is when she gets fleas. Or ticks. Bug spray is one of the ways to keep your animals free of these gross critters. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

When you're looking for bug sprays - both repellents and pesticides - you have to consider the safety of your family members. This of course includes your pets. It's well-known that insect repellents and pesticides often have all sorts of synthetic and possibly harmful chemicals in them. So choosing the right bug sprays for your family is essential to their health and happiness.

This is especially a concern for pets. While the chemicals in bug sprays can be harmful to humans at times, the concentration of chemicals in the bug sprays can actually be more harmful to pets than to humans. That's not to say that every bug spray is harmful to humans or to pets, however, it does mean that you need to be picky when deciding which bug sprays to use for home pest control and for insect repellent.  

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saving Money on My Electricity

I was talking with a friend of mine about my electric bill, and she mentioned something about the monthly discount that I get because I have kids with a government recognized disability. I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but showed her my bill and she looked it over and saw that it didn't mention anything about a discount. I was a bit confused. Her kids have recognized disabilities but they were considered a lesser degree than my kids' disabilities, and she got a discount, so why wouldn't mine entitle me to a discount? I mean I had remembered hearing something a few years ago when my kid's disability was recognized by the government, but it slipped my mind and I never actually did anything about it. But now that I knew, I decided to see what the story was.

I called up the electric company and waited on hold with them for a long time. No biggie. Among other things, I wondered if maybe the reason my electric bill didn't come with a discount for my kids' disability is that the electric bill is under Mike's name instead of my name, and the kids' disability is under my name. 2.5 years after he moved out the electric bill was still under his name and getting sent to his email, and I had to wait for him to send it to me each month. I thought it would be this big complicated thing to switch it to my name, but all it entailed was a long wait on hold, paying off this month's bill, giving them the number on my electric meter, and giving them the new payment information (which was the same as the previous payment information, because I was paying it anyhow). Not a big deal. Then it was switched to my name.

4 Ways to Make a DIY T-Shirt At Home

I'm a big t shirt fan. But I don't like plain old boring ones. I like unique ones, and that often means looking hard to find exactly what I like. I've made some t-shirts in the past, and it's really fun. Here are some ideas from a reader about how you can make your own DIY t shirts at home. Have fun crafting!

Whether your goal is a unique expression of your personal style, a wearable reminder of a special occasion, or just a fun craft project for a rainy day, making a DIY t-shirt at home can be a fun project for all ages and skill levels. There are different methods that are appropriate for different levels of skill and ages, and some will be easier for individual t-shirts or printing bulk t-shirts. Here are the 4 basic ways to make a DIY t-shirt at home, along with their various advantages and disadvantages.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Homemade Poke Bowls Recipe and Technique- DIY Instruction with All Sorts of Varieties

Delicious poke bowl- but needed more sauce!

A friend of mine is a caterer in the US and a while back he mentioned making poke bowls for his clients, and it was something I'd never heard of before. Then more recently on some local foodies groups, people were asking where they can get poke bowls, which rekindled my interest in them. Poke bowls, pronounced either pokay or pokeh, are a derivative of a traditional Hawaiian marinated raw fish dish called poke. Poke bowls, though, are something more recent and a bit more international, with Asian influence due to Asian workers on pineapple plantations, and then with rice added to make it more filling.

So essentially, a poke bowl is generally rice covered in raw fish and vegetables, and maybe other toppings,  placed separately on the rice, with its origins in Hawaii. This is an interesting article on the history and evolution of poke bowls.

Once I heard this, I had a bunch of questions. I know all about bibimbap, a mixed rice dish from Korea. It basically sounded the same as a poke bowl. So what actually is the difference? Add in Buddha bowls and it's even more confusing.

The answer I picked up is more or less like this. Traditional bibimbap is made overall with hot and cooked vegetable toppings and traditionally has a sunny side up egg on it. Poke bowls are generally made with raw fish and raw cold toppings (but the rice can be hot) and sometimes have fruit in them. Then Budhha bowls are vegan and don't necessarily have rice on the bottom, but can be any other grains. But once you veer from the standard ingredients and ways of making it, they do sort of morph and become somewhat interchangeable. 

You can make less traditional poke bowls without fish, using meat instead of fish, or leaving it out entirely. You can put raw or cooked fruit or cooked vegetables in your poke bowls if you want. You can put in peanuts or almonds to add a crunch. There's no official rules with poke bowls, which makes them extra fun. Your options are only as limited as your imagination. And you can make it to suit a variety of different diets.

Once I introduced poke bowls to my family, they fell in love. They asked me to make them on a regular basis for dinner. And the best thing is- they're so easy and versatile and can be made with whatever you want and is in season or you have at home that there's not to make them. Because everyone can pick whichever toppings they want, it works perfectly for picky people and for people on various diets. Even if you're low carb, you can do this without rice and just use the toppings and make a traditional poke. Vegan people can stick to vegan proteins. People with allergies just choose the topings that work for them. And I find that other than making the rice and the marinated fish, if using, it's super simple and can be made within a few minutes, no advance prep work required.

The last and final ingredient for your poke bowl is the sauce. There are many different types of sauce you can put on, from soy sauce to teriyaki to spicy mayo to sweet chili sauce to sriracha, and even more. My favorite is a combination of spicy mayo and sweet chili sauce. Or you can leave it off if you're like one of my pickier kids.

I tend to use short grain rice, which I wash first and then bake. You can make the rice as you would sushi rice (but without the vinegar) but that is more work. Or you can just use any type of rice you like, prepared any way you like. 

I've included the recipe I use for my marinated salmon, which you can serve on its own as traditional poke, or you can use it as a topping for your traditional poke bowl.

I've included all the different toppings I've included in mine, but don't feel limited by what I included- use whatever you think will taste good together! Let's put it this way- if you can possibly imagine it in sushi, or if you've ever seen it included in a sushi menu, it fits!

Homemade Poke Bowls Recipe and Technique- DIY Instruction with All Sorts of Varieties

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

4 Reasons To Try New Recipes At Home

Some people make the same recipes over and over again. They like to stick with what is tried and true, and their menu plan doesn't change much if at all. I'm not like that at all- I'm constantly trying new recipes, and sometimes my family's biggest complaint is that I don't repeat enough of the dishes that they like. For those of you who are more into cooking the same recipes over and over again, here are some suggestions from a reader about why you might want to expand your repertoire and try some new recipes.

Healthy eating can seem repetitive and can get boring if you do not explore. However, you can avoid that by trying out creative new recipes. With new recipes, you can enjoy cooking as you will look forward to trying something new regularly. Finding new recipes is not so difficult; there are many cookbooks you can get and cooking shows that you can follow. You can also download recipes online onto your phone, and even if you change phones, you can easily set up new iPhone so you don’t lose anything. Here are four reasons to try out new recipes at home.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Beet Chutney Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

I love Indian food. It is so chock full of flavors and nutritious and delicious, but the best thing about it is it's generally very cheap to make. Not only that, it's quite versatile as well, and you can make it with nearly any ingredients you have on hand. 
I made up this recipe when I was trying to see how frugal of a meal I could make- I picked some mallow from my overgrown yard and made mallow chutney (yes, this recipe has been sitting in my drafts box for almost a year by now) and some red lentil dal and rice, but I wanted something else to go with it. And I had some beets sitting in my fridge, so why not that? That's why I love Indian food- whatever you want to make curry or chutney with, you can- I even made banana peel chutney once. 

Chutney is basically an Indian condiment. It can be sweet or sour or spicy, but usually, it is a mix of two or three of them. 

This chutney recipe is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo, as well as mostly allergy friendly (though it does have nuts).

Beet Chutney Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

4 Easy Ways to Be More Frugal in the Kitchen

Want to save some money in the kitchen? These ideas sent to me by a reader might help.

A lot of money goes into maintaining your kitchen. From the appliances you buy to the food you stock your pantry and fridge with, there are a lot of expenses to account for.

With that being said, there’s also a lot of room to pinch some pennies. Check out these 4 ways to be more frugal in the kitchen.

5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids; 5 Cost-Efficient Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

It's never too early to think of Christmas. If you think of Christmas only in December, your pocketbook might be hurting, but if you think about it in advance and budget for it all year long, you can get some great things without affecting your finances negatively. Here's some cost efficient Christmas gifts sent in from a reader- and most would make great birthday gifts as well.

Christmas is a great time to spend time with family and to appreciate the important things in life. It's easy to lose sight of the true value of holidays amid the glittering lights, Christmas carols, and beautiful decorations. And it's easier to lose track of your budget, and many try to justify this because 'tis the season, right?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Tteokgguk or Ddukguk Recipe -- Korean Rice Cake Soup -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

I feel like such a slacker, because I shared my recipe for homemade garaetteok (pronounced karatok) that are Korean rice cakes, and two different recipes that use them already in May of last year, and I never got around to actually posting this recipe, which has been sitting in my draft folder, mostly written, since then. But today I wanted to share a recipe and I looked back to see which I still didn't do yet and saw this one!
This recipe is one of the most traditional Korean recipes using rice cakes. Tteokgguk is generally eaten on the Lunar new year, one of the most important Korean holidays. It is symbolic, as the white disks represent money, wishing people a prosperous year. This dish is so traditional that one of the ways of asking people how old they are, in Korea, is to ask them how many times they had this soup.

There are many different ways of making this soup, both in types of broths as well as additives, but I chose to make mine with beef which is the most traditional, and left out the additives. This recipe also generally has egg in it which makes the broth white-ish which is also symbolic for purity, I think, but I kept mine allergy friendly and mine is egg free. So it's not white but that's ok.

This recipe is gluten free and allergy friendly- the only common allergen in it is soy, but you can make it with coconut aminos as well.
Tteokgguk soup is both delicious and comforting and a fast favorite.
I based mine on a bunch of different recipes I saw online but Maangchi's is the one I was mostly inspired by.

Teokgguk or Ddukguk Recipe -- Korean Rice Cake Soup -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Tips For Running a Successful Blog

I'm on my eleventh year of running this blog, and I'll admit, it's not always so easy to do so. Often I'm exhausted, but I know I need to keep at it if I don't want it to die. Here are some tips from a reader on how to run a successful blog.

Blogging is becoming more and more popular and new people are starting blogs daily. Blogging is extremely fun and if you have a passion for it, it’s great to share your thoughts and watch your readers grow. Plus, a side benefit from running a blog is that you can potentially make a side income from it, with some people running one as a full-time job. That said, running a blog isn’t easy and shouldn’t be done for just money. Below I have put together a guide of several tips that will help with the running of your blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Korean Style Roasted Fennel and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Not all my recipes are masterpiece show stoppers. Sometimes they're super easy, simple, and good. And that's all right. This recipe is more than just good, but it's a very easy recipe. What I'd call an I'm too exhausted to cook but need for anyhow recipe. Which makes this really suitable for now, because all I want to do now is take a nap, but I'm a grown up with responsibilities, so I'll just share here how exhausted I am... and then get back to work.

This recipe was created when I had no energy, but tastes wonderful. It is chock full of flavor, and takes maybe 5 minutes total, if even, to get it into the oven. (Probably would take me 2 minutes.)

I love fennel and roasted it has this creaminess to it. Sweet potatoes are also wonderful. And I love Korean food and Korean seasonings. So I just mixed them all up and got this wonderful result.

This is suitable for most diets- gluten free, vegan, paleo, and allergy friendly as well- only contains sesame and possibly soy from the top 8 allergens.

Korean Style Roasted Fennel and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

What Couples Can Expect from a Trial Separation?

As a person going through the divorce process, it took me a long time to realize that I needed to end my marriage, but once I did, I made my decision and there was no going back. For other people, it is not so cut and dry, and a trial separation might be in order to decide if divorce is the next step they want to take, or to try to work on the relationship. Here's more on the topic. from Veronica Baxter, a writer and legal assistant working for Philadelphia divorce attorney, Lee A. Schwartz. 

A marriage is a long-term commitment to another person that asks a lot of you. It is not surprising that you may face some issues along the way. Perhaps you are having problems, and you’ve both agreed that you need some space to process how you are feeling.

This article will go into what couples typically experience during a trial separation and how to make the most of it if the couple truly wants to work on the relationship, from the office of Philadelphia divorce attorney Lee A. Schwartz.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

My Response to an Article on Men Being Abused by Women

Warning- this post is probably very triggering for people who have been through abuse. It contains details about abuse and also talks about suicide and murder. Read at your own discretion.

I was at a friend’s house this past weekend and was looking through a magazine that is popular in my circles. It had a piece written by two men entitled “We’re Only Addressing Half the Problem” that talked about the abuse men go through, especially during and after divorce, and said that while society helps women who are abused, it ignores the other half of the problem, men that are abused. 
It cited a few studies but misrepresented them, and then they made an internet survey of 199 divorced people from a divorced group, and then asked them leading questions about whether or not they were abused and what the abuse was like. Of the respondents, only a quarter of them said they were abused, and of those that answered, more men than women responded that they were physically abused. Which made me realize, even more than I did at first, just how problematic this piece was. As I read it, I got more and more incensed.

This is an edited version of my response that I sent to the magazine. There’s very little chance that this will ever be published, because of its length, but it's too important a topic to not be shared, so I’m sharing it here with you to right a grievous wrong and to correct some, unfortunately too common, misperceptions about abuse.

Understanding Law: What Does Family Law Cover?

Before I filed for divorce, I used a lawyer one time. To buy a house. I have had very little experience with lawyers thankfully, and I'll admit I'm fairly uninformed about things having to do with law. This piece from a reader explains what types of things a family lawyer may be involved with.

People usually aren’t aware that there are different fields in law. Like doctors, legal professionals can specialize in certain subjects such as criminal law, corporate law, intellectual property law, and more. So if you were a business owner who wishes to merge with another company, you would have to hire someone with corporate law expertise rather than criminal law.

But what if you’re facing legal battles such as divorce and child custody? The three legal fields above wouldn’t suit that kind of conflict. So what kind of professional legal representation should you seek? The answer to this is easy. You need to hire a lawyer who is an expert in family law. But to understand exactly how they can help, you need to know what Family Law covers. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Easy Honey Butter Brussels Sprouts Recipe

I hated brussels sprouts as a kid. But that's because the only time we ever had them was at our Thanksgiving dinner with another family, and apparently the host didn't know how to cook them well. As an adult, though, they became one of my favorite vegetables, which is unfortunate because they are one of the more expensive vegetables locally. So I keep them for special occasions. For my birthday I decided to make some, and chose to do a honey butter type recipe. 

This time I remembered what I did wrong the last time I made brussels sprouts and made sure to roast mine before adding the rest of the seasonings, so that they could actually get browned, and I'm glad I did. Since I used frozen, they still didn't actually get crispy, but that's ok with me. 

These brussels sprouts are so good, they're addicting. I highly recommend them. They're pretty allergy friendly; other than the dairy they contain none of the common allergens. They're gluten free, vegetarian, and did I mention quite easy to make?

It's also pretty fuss free. You don't actually have to use measuring spoons- feel free to eyeball the amounts in this recipe. And depending on the prices of brussels sprouts where you live, can be pretty frugal as well.

Easy Honey Butter Brussels Sprouts Recipe

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