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 like a fancy gold necklace, 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

Everybody has a story to tell about saving money on electricity, especially mothers who need to create a family budget monthly. Your electricity consumption rate depends on several factors, such as the appliances you frequently use and the size of your household. Switching off unused appliances and lights, as well as choosing the right electricity plan and power provider are important to save money on electricity bills. The government has done their part to help residential and commercial property owners save money on energy. In the past, electric supply was monopolized. Thus, with energy deregulation, homeowners can now enjoy lower electricity bills.

Texas is deregulated for electricity. Consumers that live in North Texas can shop for electricity. For example, you can compare Fort Worth electricity rates to find the best prices. So, if you live in Texas, you can check out different electric suppliers and their energy plans to pick the best for your household.

While searching for a reliable provider, you can research what each electric supplier offers in your area by visiting official websites. They even have an electricity consumption rate tool to help you compute how much electricity you consume. Moreover, they provide helpful blogs that share some tips and tricks to make your home energy-efficient.

Let me now share a story about 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.

5 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.

Tuesday, March 2, 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

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.