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Showing posts from 2015

I'm back! and a story!

Sorry for having been away from the blog for a while. I've been busy with some personal issues and health reasons and was just not up to blogging.

But I'm back and hope to be blogging more.

I'm a big fan of the TV show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman that used to air back in the 90s. I used to watch it infrequently back then because we didn't have reliable TV then. When I was in my early 20s, I discovered the DVDs in Blockbuster and watched all the seasons. I loved how the show attacked modern day issues in the Old American West in the 1860s time period. Plus, the show was based in Colorado Springs and I used to live in Colorado back then. The show covered so many issues - women's rights, slavery, american indian rights, prejudice, ignorance, diseases that it was fascinating to me. I've never tired of watching it multiple times.

A few days ago, I discovered it on Amazon Prime Video and have been watching the shows and I loved this story that the town's Reverend sa…

What I've Read Recently: Trump, Bedtime Regrets and More

Heidi Klum to Donald Trump: Every Woman Is a “10” :- Recently I've been watching Donald Trump in the news a lot and I've been very put-off by his attitude towards women and his bombastic nature. I loved Heidi Klum's response - that you can't attach a number to a women.

The Post-Bedtime Regret Every Parent Has Felt | Babble: This one is so true - so many days I've been impatient with my daughter and then at bedtime when she's cuddling in my arms and I'm rocking and singing to her, I'm calm and I feel bad - I should have been more gentler and spent more time with her. I should be more patient.

When Life Feels Like a Mess, There’s Something We Can Do: Just read it.

Best and Worst School Systems in the US

I was surprised when I came across this article about the best and worst school systems in the USA. I live in NH and work in MA and have family in CA.

Though I expected MA to have one of the better school systems in the country, I was surprised to see that it was the top school system in the country. NH came in at No. 15 which was a big surprise to me. CA came in at No. 43 which was a big surprise to me.

Another item which really surprised me was that NH was 2nd in the country for highest reading and math scores. This was great news!

Read the article to see where your state stands!

2015’s States with the Best and Worst School Systems | WalletHub®

July Goals Update

July was a busy month mostly spent with family and some travel to NYC & NJ. I didn't get a lot done but was still a fun month with spending lots of time with family. My sister and her kids are visiting us for last 3 weeks and it's been great having them here. We did a road trip to NYC and NJ and visited family. It was hectic but fun. We also spent a significant amount of time planning for my daughter's birthday party which was so much fun!
Lose 12 lbs: *sigh* This goal has gone completely to pieces. I'm 140 pounds now - I've put on weight since my parents are here visiting me. Over the next 5 months, I'm going to have to try harder to lose weight. Learn swimming: On hold for nowRead 12 books this year:  Got a little more light reading done this month - Read the  "The Heir - Windham Book 1" and "The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy". Do 12 craft or knitting activities this year: Went for a Girls' Afternoon Out with my friends to a graffiti …

Money Tips Roundup

12 Items That Pay For Themselves :- The one I want to use the most is my slow cooker. I really need to start using it more. I do use dryer balls and would love to cancel cable altogether if not my husband's new-watching and my daughter's Disney Jr addiction.

Why We've Given Up On Coupons :- I have tried to use coupons but most of the food we cook is Indian and we don't have coupons for them and other stuff - we generally buy what is cheap and generic. I make an effort sometimes if it will be relatively easy and quick but otherwise I don't bother with coupons.

Decoding Your Pay Stub [Infographic] :- Fairly basic info graphic which gives you an idea about your paystub and what it all means. This is good info for those new to the workforce and are not familiar with how and what happens with your paycheck.

NY and NJ Trip

My sister and her kids are currently visiting us and we took them on a trip to NY & NJ along with my parents. I have some family in the NJ area and after visiting them, decided to go do some sightseeing.

It was a very hot and humid day - one of the worst days so far. Also, very cloudy and thunderstorm-y.



We parked in the Liberty State Park to visit the Statue of Liberty. We took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and had a lot of fun on the top level of the ferry. There was a nice breeze which really helped with the heat. Unfortunately, we didn't get tickets to go to the pedestal or the crown. So we just saw Lady Liberty from the bottom and walked around a bit. I loved the view of the NY Skyline from the boat.


We ate a picnic lunch on some benches in Liberty State Park and took the ferry to NYC to the Boardwalk Ferry Station near the 9/11 Memorial. Earlier in the day, on the way to Liberty State Park, we were all sharing our memories of where we were and what we were doing whe…

Success, Blogging and Other Tips

Daniel Norris Code Of Success :- I wish I could adopt some parts of this - like reading more, playing outside more and travelling a lot. Sounds great!

How to Start a Successful Blog Today: 27 Tips:- This was a great, in-depth article on how to start a blog and make it successful. I plan to use some of the tips here to try to make my blog better - mainly, focus on content & making it more visible.

5 ways to keep your financial information safer from hackers:- I'm guilty of not following a few of these but it's something I'm working on.


Money Tips Roundup

12 Items That Pay For Themselves Tenfold or Better :- Great article! I need to try making more crockpot meals and hanging clothes on a clothesline.

Applying SMART Goals to Personal Finance :- This was a great breakdown of how to apply SMART goals we use at work in our personal lives & personal finance. Reading this article made me want to look at my life goals and how I can apply the SMART principles here.

The Benefits Of Paying Yourself First :- I've been trying to use a zero-sum budget but ever since I've started using it, we've had so many unexpected expenses my budget has been going bust every month. I am going to have to try harder with this.

Girl's Afternoon Out

My friends and I had a girl's afternoon out a few days ago, leaving the children at home.

We went to a paint place - where they teach a group of people how to paint a particular piece of art. It was a lot of fun and the end result is below.

I have never been good at art and I can't even draw a straight line. So I was actually nervous about going to this place and only the fact that I was going with my friends helped me.

I guess the one thing I learnt about art is that there's no right or wrong in art - you just go with what you like and don't be too hard on yourself.

How Stress Affects Diabetics - Tidbit of the Day!

Diabetics are advised to avoid stress but why? How does stress affect diabetics?
When we get stressed, the body starts getting into the "Flight-or-Fight" mode. The term "Flight or Fight" was coined by Walter B. Cannon in 1915. He studied the autonomic nervous system and started by studying an animal's response to a threat.

When "Flight or Fight" is triggered, the body produces more cortisol and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and the liver produces more glucose for the body to use as energy in an emergency. This excess glucose makes it difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

Tomato Cucumber Feta Salad

One of my favorite salads (of which there are few) is the Greek Salad at Panera Bread. I want to start eating more salads to lose some weight and eat more healthy and one of the salads I came across was a Tomato Cucumber Salad. I made some modifications to it based on what's at home and made a Tomato Cucumber Feta salad with a vinaigrette dressing. It was awesome and I just loved it.



Here's what I did:

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
3 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:

Peel and take out the seeds from the cucumbers. Then chop them up into small chunks.Cut the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Then chop them up into small chunks. Finely chop and add the flat-leaf parsley.Make the dressing by adding olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper and mixing it up. Add this to the cucumbers and tomatoes and toss to c…

Greener Grass

Loved this quote I came across today!

14 Tips for Visiting Disney World

While we had a great Disney World vacation, there were certain things we did right and some things we did wrong.



What To DO:
Buy groceries online: We saved on time and money by order groceries from GardenGrocer and had it delivered to the Disney resort before we arrived. We bought plenty of water, milk, eggs, bread, jam and yoghurt. The prices were expensive and there's a minimum order of $40 but it was worth the time savings in getting a taxi & going to a grocery store and coming back. Take a portable induction cooktop: Our daughter's very picky and doesn't eat anything available at restaurants. So we brought an induction cooktop with us in our luggage and used it to make pasta, heat milk, make boiled eggs for her - I don't know what we would have done if not for this. Eat lunch early by 11:30am: We ate lunch on all days well before the crowd hit. We had no lines for lunch and were able to hit some attractions without FP+ during those times. Take a nap if possible: 

June Goals Update

June was a fun month for me with travel to Disney and preparing for my parent's visit. They arrived in the 3rd week of July and life has been really busy since. I didn't get a lot done but was still a good month with spending lots of time with family. My husband switched jobs and that's been a change in our routine that we're still adjusting to. I also caught Conjuctivitis and had to wear glasses for a week which gave me massive headaches.
Lose 12 lbs: *sigh* I'm still at 136. However, as per my 30-day walking challenge, I'm trying to hit 10k steps. Learn swimming: Honestly, I'm not sure if I can do this. I'm too nervous about getting my vertigo back again. But l want to do this - so I'm going to try. Read 12 books this year: Was so busy with Disney trip and preparing for and visiting with family that I didn't read much. I read Family Fun May 2015 magazine and a lot of online reading but that was it. I need to do better this month. Do 12 craft or…

What I've Been Reading Lately

How I Keep My Email Inbox To Fewer Than 5 Emails :- Basically, unsubscribe ruthlessly, use delete liberally, use (gmail) filters to push emails out of inbox, deal with email immediately. I've tried multiple times and succeed for a few days and then fall behind a bit and then off the wagon completely. I will try following these steps to see if they help.

4 Tips On Doing What You Don't Want To Do :- The core idea - You don't want to do it. Do it anyway. Take the first step. Keep the momentum going. It's not as hard as you think it is. You'll feel great afterwards.

Strawberry Season

Strawberries Nutrition Info :- My daughter and me both love strawberries. We eat them all year round and I love strawberries in my smoothies. But I didn't know they were so good for you - there are a superfood for diabetics and lower cholesterol as well.

Oftentimes, I cut the strawberry stem off and a good chunk of the strawberry too when preparing it for my daughter. I've been meaning to buy a strawberry corer but kept putting it off. I came across this tip at Popsugar



Get rid of those pesky stems without wasting too much of the fruit by inserting a straw into the bottom of the strawberry and pushing up. The leaves will come off too!

I tried this out and while it wasn't perfect, it did work.





What I've Been Reading Lately

What Happens When Wives Go On Strike :- I've often wanted to do the same thing - just disappear for a couple of days and let my husband handle everything - perhaps he'd appreciate me more... :) ... *sigh* but that's not likely to happen.

Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans :- I read this article and was just so disappointed. I can't believe NYTimes actually published something like this. I'm putting this in here just because I didn't agree with it at all. You take a loan, you repay it. Go to a college you can afford if you can't afford to go to a private school. There was just so much whining and excuses it was unbelievable. The worse thing is that he encourages other people to follow his example.

Motherhood is the strongest bond :- I had tears in my eyes when I read this.

What I've Been Reading

Chip-Enabled Credit Cards are Coming: What You Need to Know :- Recently, I got one of my first credit cards replaced by one with a chip. This article was an easy read to know what's it's all about.

The Exhausting Shadow Work of Being a Modern Wife :- Interesting article!

Which Supermarket Truly Has the Best Deals :- As expected, Costco comes in at the cheapest overall for most of the items with Trader Joe's and Target coming in next. To no one's surprise, Whole Foods came in at most expensive. Of course, one single place may not make sense for buying everything and you can read through this article and decide for yourself.

Daily Routine

A few weeks ago, I bought the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and as part of the bundle, the getting started section contained the 4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking mini-course as an introduction to the bundle. This course is 

There are 4 short videos each of which talks about how to solve common problems in homemaking and how  to integrate those solutions into your daily routine. I came up with a simple daily routine to start implementing these steps. 

The 4 steps are fairly simple but really important:

Fold and put away one load of laundry before starting anotherStart dishwasher in the night and unload dishwasher first thing in the morning so you can start loading dishes throughout the dayOnce a week, have a meeting with yourself. Check on what are plans for week and see how many meals need to be made. Decide on what those meals are going to be and make a grocery list.Nighttime routine:5 mins to do quick cleanup5 mins to check calendar for next day5 mins to prepare for next day - clo…

Mini-Goal + Challenge: Walk 10000 steps everyday

I did the 30-Day Walking Challenge recently and did not do so well at it. I had 2 issues with it - it asked me to walk 10k steps over my regular day-to-day steps and also, I fell sick quite a bit.

My goal to lose 16 pounds by the end of the year is also not going too well considering it's almost 6 months out and I've ended up putting on weight.

I thought perhaps both of these were a little too ambitious for me at this point and I should probably start off with mini-goals to get started on the right path.

Mini-Goal & Challenge: Walk 10,000 steps everyday including day-to-day steps

May 11: Day 1: 10450 steps
May 12: Day 2: 8515 steps
May 13: Day 3: 8982 steps
May 14: Day 4: 6411 steps
May 15: Day 5: 10010 steps
May 16: Day 6: 5795 steps
May 17: Day 7: 8727 steps
May 18: Day 8: 11379 steps
May 19: Day 9: 10882 steps
May 20: Day 10: 10663 steps
May 21: Day 11: 8269 steps
May 22: Day 12: 10289 steps
May 23: Day 13: 9510 steps
May 24: Day 14: 14538 steps
May 25: Day 15: 4228 st…

May Goals Update

Overall, May was a good month for me. I didn't get a lot done but was still a good month personally. We're having some personal changes - good ones but it did cause some disruption.

I've been walking 30 mins most days and it has felt really good.
Lose 12 lbs: *sigh* I'm still at 136. However, as per my 30-day walking challenge, I'm walking 10k steps most days. Learn swimming: Waiting for my summer plans to get fixed before I can register for classes.Read 12 books this year: Am really disappointed I didn't read much this month since I was preparing for our Disney World trip - I read a bunch of travel books on DisneyWorld and online websites. Do 12 craft or knitting activities this year: Spent some time gardening this month - planted seeds in seed starting pellets and did some potting outside of new plants.  Introduce a new experience to AGirl once a month: Took AGirl to DisneyWorld. We had a great time and she had a blast meeting princesses and going on rides. Sh…

Disney World Trip

We had a great trip to Disney World this week. We just got back on Wednesday around midnight and are still exhausted from the trip. It was a relatively short trip of only 4 days, considering it's Disney World we're talking about.

AGirl had lots of fun at the trip though she did get over stimulated towards the end. She met her favorite Disney Jr. characters - Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. She also met some princesses and saw lots of animals.


Cinderella's Castle

Animal Kingdom Entrance

EPCOT

I'll post more about my trip soon!

What I've Been Reading Lately

How I Limited Screentime by offering my kids unlimited screen time :- While this won't work with Agirl as it is right now, perhaps it might in the future. Or I might modify it a bit and use it. I'll have to think about this.

Healthy Child's List of 11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids :- This year, I didn't get any of these sunscreens but last year, I had used one of the Coppertone spray ones for my daughter. Yikes!


Planning a trip to DisneyWorld

I'm so excited!! We're finally planning a trip to Disney World. My last trip to Disney World was back in 2000 when I was still in college - so it's been around 15 years and Disney has changed a lot in those years.

I still remember walking around Magic Kingdom and Epcot with my parents and my sister - watching the fireworks and eating pizza at the hotel and meeting Mickey Mouse. And now, I get to enjoy that with my husband and my daughter. I'm so excited about showing Magic Kingdom to her. She loves princesses and Disney shows.

We're planning a 4-day trip and are staying on Disney property in one of the resorts. Our plan is to spend 3 days on Disney parks and one day at SeaWorld. We tried to do a bit of research already and have found so many website son the internet and tips on planning a trip to Disney.

Some of the big decisions we made already:
Staying off versus on disney resortsWhich resort to stay atAdding Park Hopper Adding Memory MakerWhich rides to FastPass+…

Mother's Day Thoughts

Being a mom can be hard sometimes. Some days it can feel as though the world is against you. Some days it can feel as it you give and give until there's nothing more to give anymore. Some days it feels as if your body's not your own anymore - it belongs to your kids and your family.

And some days can feel wonderful - when you feel so loved. When your daughter comes running to you and hugs you. When she says "I love you mama". When you hold her soft warm body in your arms and think "This is heaven".

And some days you may be worried - doubting yourself - are you a good mom? Are you providing her with everything she needs? Are you raising your daughter well?

Some days, you just need a break. You want to shut out the world, take your body back, take your mind back and just breathe.

This Mother's Day I made a promise to myself. I promise to take better care of my health. I can't take care of my family if I don't take care of myself. I promise to take…

30-Day Walking Challenge!

I came across the 30-day walking challenge by Leslie Sansone here. With spring almost there, I decided to take this challenge up. The goal is to start with 2000 steps and work your way up to 10,000 steps a day over 30 days by adding around 500 extra steps a day

I started on April 6th with a 30 minute walk around my office. The weather was great and it was a wonderful walk. Yesterday, I wasn't able to walk outside but I went for a a couple of walks totaling 14 mins which gave me an extra 1000 steps but I didn't meet my goal.

This 10000 steps a day is outside of my regular daily activities - so it's going to be hard to hit but I'm going to try to do it anyway.

(April 6th) Day 1: Goal: 2000 steps Actual: 3299 steps
Day 2: Goal: 2500 steps Actual: 1008 steps
Day 3: Goal: 3000 steps Actual: 0 steps (had a bad cough)
Day 4: Goal: 3500 steps Actual: 0 steps (had a bad cough)
Day 5: Goal: 4000 steps Actual: 2500 steps
Day 6: Goal: 4500 steps Actual: 0 steps (had guests - spent…

April Update On Goals

It's May, finally! And the temperature is in the 70s!! Yay!!

April was not a great month for me. I got 2 rounds of a nasty virus (cough, cold, etc) and so did my husband. So we were sick most of the month and just getting the essentials done.

Some good things that happened was that I started walking around 15-20 mins a day at work whenever the weather was good and I was feeling OK. It just felt really good to be out walking again. I've also been doing a lot more cooking and experimenting with new foods.
Lose 12 lbs: Not much progress on this. I'm still at 136. Learn swimming: Waiting for my summer plans to get fixed before I can register for classes.Read 12 books this year: I read Eighteen Acres, Early Potty Training and Parents Magazine August 2014Do 12 craft or knitting activities this year: Didn't get to this. Introduce a new experience to AGirl once a month: I spent some time outside on our lawn with my daughter this month and I started my seeds indoors and introduc…

Recipe: Potato Fry

Fried Potatoes are one of my favorite dishes - especially served with curd rice. Yum! And the best thing about this recipe is that it is very simple to make!


Recipe: Potato Fry

Ingredients: 

Small Round Potatoes
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Red Chilly Powder
Salt to taste

Directions:

Pressure cook the potatoes just till they are cooked but still firm. In my pressure cooker, that's upto one whistle.Once it's cooled down, peel off the skin of the potatoes. They should slide off fairly easily. Take a non-stick skillet or pan and heat the oil on medium-heat. Once oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to splatter, add the chilly powder. The chilly powder will turn brownKeep the heat on medium-high and add the potatoes and keep stirring them. Keep moving them around every 2 mins so they don't burn in one spot. Add saltContinue till you see more brown spots and all the potatoes look well-fried.

Early Potty Training: Review

I received the book Early Potty Training as part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle which I recently bought. As I was skimming through the list of books, I came across this one and chose it to be the first to read. My daughter's almost 3 and while she has been introduced to the potty and sits on it occasionally, she's not keen on potty training yet. My personal feeling is that she's not physically ready yet. 
The book is a short and fast read with tips on how to potty train a young kid - younger than the standard accepted age of 2.5-3 years old. While I personally do not want to potty train younger than 2.5 years, I believe in each to their own. 
The main steps for potty training that the author uses are: Take child to potty as soon as child wakes up, before child goes to bed and at nap timeStart changing diaper every 2 hoursThen take child to potty every 2 hours before putting on new diaperWhen child's dry most of the time, switch to training underwear or regular under…

Eighteen Acres: Review

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace is a book I had gotten through Bookmooch a few years ago but I did not have a chance to read it till very recently. I started reading the book and couldn't put it down till I finished it.

Short summary: If you're into politics, then you will love this book. It takes you behind the scenes of what actually happens at the White House. It was an interesting read and reminded me of the politics in the TV show Scandal.

The story is about the first female President of the United States Charlotte Kramer and her White House Chief of Staff Melanie Kingston and Dale Smith, a White House correspondent and rising star on the networks. The story revolves around the President's re-election campaign when everything goes crazy with the rumors of the First Husband's infidelity and a horrible error of judgement on the part of Charlotte's close friend who's also her closest National Security Adviser. How these three women handle the consequences o…

Weekend Update

Last weekend, we were supposed to travel to NJ to visit some family but due to my falling sick (again!!), we had to cancel the trip and stayed at home for the most part. 
I recently read some quick and on-the-go breakfast ideas and came across the idea of making muffin omelettes. I adapted the recipe from here to use carrots, red peppers and no meat and I skipped on the cheese since I didn't have any cheddar cheese at home. The liquid was a little lumpy once mixed with the flour but I made them anyway. When they came out of the oven, they looked good but for some reason, in about 15 mins, they just completely lost all their ooph and sunk in. They tasted ok but I don't think I'll make it again.

I've always had sleep issues with my daughter and for the last several weeks, whenever she naps at home over the weekends, she wakes up in 45 mins to an hour and starts screaming and being extremely fussy. It takes a while to get her to a good mood.

One of the days this weekend …

Seeds sprouted!

As you can see a lot of my seeds have sprouted. 3 of them have sprouted 2 leaves and become tall enough that I put them in another container for them to get more sun.

Only the peppers and the coriander have not sprouted so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will sprout soon. Otherwise, I might have to try again.

This last weekend, I ended up buying 10 cu ft of garden soil for the raised bed garden I'm planning for this summer. Also, I bought 2 tomato plants and a strawberry plant from Home Depot to plant in some containers as soon as danger of frost is past.

For some reason, it gets warm during the day but gets chilly at night. I guess that's spring!

What I've Been Reading Lately

Safest Used Cars Under $10,000 for Teens - Consumer Reports :-The cars listed are Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Focus, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Soul, Mazda3, Mazda6i, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf. These are mostly cars made between 2004-2012 and start from $5590.

Love and Wealth are not enough :- This article really got me thinking. I really want my daughter to know I "get" her and love her for who she is and make sure she knows that.

Simple words to live by for busy moms!

I got this in my email from The Abundant Mama and this really touched my heart. Words to live by! It's hard but I think making the effort would be so worth it.

Pushing past the tired..

Recently, I've been feeling more tired but still I've been trying to up the amount of work I do at home. I came across this quote -

You might as well do it; You're going to be tired anyway. 
It gave me some motivation to push past the tired and get some more done.

What I've Been Reading Lately

Money mistakes in your 30s :- I'm in my early 30's and I'm guilty of at least half of the items on this list. I do spend too much money on my daughter and we have bought more house than we really need. Also, while we do save money, we are not really saving for my daughter's college.

How To Break Free Of Emotional Eating :- One of my goals is to lose weight this year and I'm finding this particularly hard. One of the reasons is because of emotional eating. One of the other reasons I overeat is also when I'm bored at work. Now that spring is almost here, I'm hoping to start going for daily walks - hopefully, that should help.

Busy Saturday!

I spent sometime today working on some household tasks I had been putting off. I finally replaced the wreath on my front door with a new one.

Last year, my gardening hobby/experiment was 50/50. I had an ok harvest but not as well as I had hoped. But it was not too bad either. So this year, I'm planning to increase my scope and try more plants. Also, I thought I'd try planting seeds instead of buying the plants from the store. 
I bought a jiffy seedling greenhouse and planted a bunch of seeds - some perennial flower mix, basil, coriander, peppers and cherry tomatoes. Based on how these go, I may plant some more. I will keep posting on this.


March Update on Goals

I can't believe it's April already! 25% of the year is already gone!

March was a good month for me. I've felt much better and my daughter's sleep-trained for the most part. I'm still working on getting her to sleep longer than 5:15 in the morning but it's been a huge improvement in my sleep. My cleaning's been more on-track with trying to clear clutter before it builds up. There's still room for lot more improvement but one baby step at a time. I've also been doing more baking and cooking than before.
Lose 12 lbs: This was a sad fail for me. I just fixed my weight machine and I checked my weight - it's 136 pounds. So I've put on another 4 pounds and now my goals is to lose 16 pounds.Learn swimming: Waiting for my summer plans to get fixed before I can register for classes.Read 12 books this year: I read The Frog Princess, 20 Minute Meals and All You October 2014 magazine this month. Do 12 craft or knitting activities this year: Didn't get…

What I've Been Reading Lately

The 7 Most Relaxing Ways to Spend Your Lunch Hour :- I find the last one the most interesting :) ... I generally go out for lunch with my colleagues or my friends once in a while and am just waiting for warmer weather to get here so I can go out for walks.

Save Money On Groceries With Manager Markdowns :- At the Market Basket where I shop, there's a shelf with all reduced groceries. I always take a quick peek there when I go grocery shopping and if something looks good, then I buy it if I will use it reasonably soon. Last Friday, I picked up 6-7 zucchinis @ 0.59/lb which is a pretty good price. I shredded all the zucchinis and put them in the freezer save for 1 cup which I used to make zucchini muffins.

Uses for Hair Dryers!

Having a 2 year old in the house automatically translates to stickers and crayon marks everywhere. I  just read an article which says I can use a hair dryer to remove the crayon marks and stickers from my walls and floors. I'm going to try it out and see whether it works.

#3. Clean Stray CrayonIf your little Picasso has missed the paper yet again—or forewent it altogether—you can make cleanup a little easier with a hair dryer. Just blast the stray crayon marks with hot air from a hair dryer. This will soften the wax and make it much easier to wipe away. #4. Remove StickersHeating stickers with a hair dryer can loosen the glue or adhesive on the back. Once it’s warmed, you can slowly start to peel away the sticker. This also works well for price tags and most bottle labels.
9 Handy New Uses for Hair Dryers That Will Blow You Away! - Common Sense With Money

So True!

Fry "Applam" in the microwave

I was watching the TV show "The Kitchen" the other day on Food Network. They had a part of the show where some of the hosts talk about microwave uses.

One of the tips mentioned was how to make potato chips in the microwave and to make sure they are crunchy. I thought why not try the same thing with appalam. I thought this would be great since I did not have to use up a lot of oil to enjoy my favorite appalam.

So, the tips says to start with a microwave safe plate and take a piece of parchment paper and spread some oil on it - enough to cover the area. I just poured a little bit of oil on it and spread it with my fingers around the parchment paper.




I first tried with pepper appalam chips which I had bought in India. I put a few side-by-side and put in microwave for 2 minutes. This came out very well - crunchy and not oily.




Next, I wanted to try a whole appalam. I put the appalam on it and kept it in the microwave for 2-3 mins, depending on your microwave. This came out decent…

What I've Been Reading Lately!

Financial Independence and Career Choices :- This was a great article by The Simple Dollar. It really made me think and get motivated about my career. It put things in a different perspective for me.

The Preschool Visit :- We're considering moving my daughter to a full-day preschool closer to our home in the fall after she turns 3. We're going to go and check out the place next and this info is helpful. I really love her current daycare but it's expensive.

Visit to Acton Children's Museum

On Friday, I took AGirl to the Acton Children's Museum. They are free for the public the first friday of every month from 4:30-8:30 pm. Though they have a Discovery Museum and Science Museum, we only explored the Discovery Museum. From the outside of the building, it looked very small and you wouldn't think that they would have as many exhibits as they did.

There were kids of all ages in there - from a 6-month-old baby to middle school kids.

AGirl had a blast - she kept running from one exhibit to the other. The pirate ship exhibit and the kitchen exhibit were her favorites. This is AGirl trying to climb the ropes (sails) of the pirate ship.


Unfortunately, it was so crowded that I couldn't take pictures. Plus, I was busy chasing after AGirl! But I will definitely go again and will try to take more pictures that time.

New Hobby!

From when I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with coins and always wanted to collect them. In fact, my grandfather had a big stack of old coins which I coveted but I never mentioned it to him and he gave it to my cousin.

Recently, my interest in it has been coming back. I don't want to invest any money in it - my idea is just to do something small. I want to collect quarters of all US states. Once I'm done with this, I want to collect a quarter from each year as far back as I can go.

And then we'll see from there... I'm excited about this. I will post again about this when I'm done collecting all the US States quarters. I currently have 41 US state quarters - I still need 9.

Comparing our kids to others

It's inevitable. You're talking to your friends and one of you mentions something that your kid did. And the talk moves on to where each kid was developmentally at different ages. One mom might say - By age 3, my daughter was reading and starting to write. Another might say her son was talking full sentences by 2 years. Another might say their child started talking at 8 months.

Recently, I was talking to one of my friends and she was telling me about her daughter. I listened to her and felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. Was my daughter where she should be? Am I failing her in some way by not teaching her more and spending more time with her?

Agirl doesn't know her colors or numbers or the alphabets yet. She's not expected to but a lot of Indian kids do know them by this age.

Logically, I know there's really no answer to this question. Kids will learn at their own pace. Her teachers have no concerns about her. I need to just provide the environment and the tools.…

February Update on Goals

February wasn't a very good month either. I was still dealing with health issues and with my daughter's sleep issues and snowstorms, I didn't get a whole lot done from my goals. I did focus a bit more on cleaning my kitchen and dining table everyday (which gets very cluttered) and trying to contain my daughter's toy explosion. Also, I have been doing more cooking than I've done before.
Lose 12 lbs: My weight machine still is not working. I need to buy batteries for it but because I've been over-eating this month, I'm almost scared to check myself. So I've gone backwards in this goal. Learn swimming: I need to fix my vertigo issues before I can try to learn swimming. My vertigo is because of inner-ear issues and I don't want to make it worse. Read 12 books this year: I finished Should I Be A Stay At Home Mom and read The Total Money MakeoverDo 12 craft or knitting activities this year: No time for this. Introduce a new experience to AGirl once a mon…

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

About a few months ago, I discovered Dave Ramsey through his podcast of this radio show - The Dave Ramsey Show. After listening to his podcast many times while driving in my car from work, I had a good handle of many of his concepts and these same concepts are the ones that I grew up learning from my parents in India.

"Debt" was considered something really bad in India at that time and most people saved money and bought stuff. (I honestly don't think this is still true in India anymore - times have changed there). So when my husband and I bought a house, getting into so much debt was very very scary to me. However, I adjusted to the idea over time. And probably here in comes the problem - you get used to the idea of being in debt. 
I'm so grateful to have had those money lessons growing up and for us having had good jobs that we don't have much debt - mostly just our mortgage. And after listening to Dave's podcast, I've been inspired to get out of even t…

What I've Been Reading Lately

The One Thing I Stopped Doing to Improve My Marriage:- After reading this article, I really thought about it. Sometimes, I do treat my husband like a child and micro-managing him.

Age-Appropriate Chores List :- Now that my daughter's 2.5 years old, I think it's time for her to start doing some chores around the house. There are some more suggestions here for now and once she's older too.

Getting Lost in Just Doing :- There are times when I've done this unconsciously and it really does help you.

Friendships

Recently, I've been reading about how important it is for women to have friendships and how important it is to connect with other people. Not only is it good for the soul but good for the body too!

I've been lucky that I have a few close friends from high school and college that I regularly talk with and I'm really close to my sister and talk to her about almost everything. I'm also really close to my parents and talk to them very frequently. I really cherish these relationships, more given that most of them don't even stay in the same state as me. Through all the rough patches, I've always been able to sail over it because of these relationships bolstering me mentally even if they weren't present physically.

I recently read this quote below in my email from George Washington and it struck me how true that is.



Parenting Difficulties - Getting your toddler to listen

These days, it's been a struggle to handle Agirl - she's 2.5 years old and doing everything per the book - testing her limits, tantrums... the works. I've been struggling with getting her to listen to me. She does all sorts of shenanigans to get my attention.

In desperation, I turned to the internet to find some help in what to do to get her to listen to me.

Most of the articles on the internet seem to agree on the following:
Avoid situations from being created by making sure they're not sleepy or hungry. Carry some small toys to distract their attentionGive plenty of attentionPraise them when they are goodStay calm and don't yellGet on his level and talk to him with eye contactKeep your message short and to the point and clearFollow through on warningsTry a reward systemTry Timeouts if the child is old enough Hopefully, these should work. They are certainly worth trying.
Some of the articles I read were:
Tips For Dealing With Toddlers Who Won't Listen Getting You…

Recipe Tryout: Skillet Potatoes

I've been meaning to try out some recipes which I've come across online or on Food Network TV shows. So here's my first try.

I saw the Food Network TV Show "Daphne Dishes" on TV the other day and saw her make Skillet Potatoes. It looked tasty and I love potatoes and seemed simple enough - so thought I'd try it. I followed her receipe for the most part with some substitutions - I substituted Gold potatoes instead of russet potatoes and used 1/2 a stick of butter instead of a whole stick. Also, I used a 8-inch cast iron skillet instead of 10-inch.

And here's the result! I made it 2 times and both times it got a little burnt instead of even heating - not sure if it was the skillet or the heat was not correct.


My husband's verdict was that it tasted good except for the burnt parts. I might try this receipe again some time but use a different skillet and see how it comes.

What I've Been Reading Lately

15 Secrets To Saving Money on Amazon :- I shop at Amazon a lot and am an Amazon Prime member. I was familiar with a lot of these secrets but there were a few I hadn't heard of - Amazon Warehouse and Amazon Outlet.

An Easy Lowtech way to limit screentime :- This is a cool idea - only charge your device once every 2-3 days; this means the kids have to budget their screen time or they are not going to get till you recharge next. This is also a great way of teaching them to budget time like money.

Kitchen Tool School: Everything About The Cast Iron Skillet :-  I bought a cast iron skillet recently and just seasoned it following the directions here. This should be useful as I start using this skillet.

Should I Be A Stay-At-Home Mom? Review

I recently read the Should I Be A Stay-At-Home Mom? book on the kindle. The book talks about the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home mom and how to make the decision and once you make the decision, she gives some tips about staying at home and how to manage.

I'm a working away from home Mom and a lot of what she said made sense. However, I felt like the book was strongly skewed towards staying at home and not exposing the other part of the debate enough.

What I've Been Reading Lately

Unique Difficulties That Women Face with Weight Loss :- This was a good article and had good information about why women find it more difficult to lose weight. It made me feel better about not losing any weight last month.

Protect your child's credit :- Made me think about AGirl's credit too. I made a note to check her credit report when she's older, especially before she goes to college so she doesn't have any issues.

Questions for the modern playdate :- This was an interesting read. My daughter's not old enough yet that I would drop her off at somebody else's place for a playdate. But at some point she will be and this is something I should think about before she does. Gun control & vaccinations were never thought of as issues when and where I grew up but in today's world, we need to ask these questions.


To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Over the last few days, I've read and heard so much about the measles outbreak and people coming out to talk on both sides of the issue.

I'm vaccinated and my daughter's vaccinated. My personal viewpoint is that parents should have a choice in whether they should vaccinate their kids or not and when making that decision, they should think about how their decision affects others too - not just their kids but their neighbor's kids, the kids they go to school with, anybody they come in contact with.

That said, here are some blog posts and other articles that I read recently that made me think more about this issue.

I Wish My Mom Had Vaccinated Me :- Talks about how she was not vaccinated as a kid and how she caught whooping cough, was not treated for it and suffers to this day because of side effects.

Enough is Enough with Blaming “Anti-Vaxxers” :- I have very mixed feelings about this one. I don't agree with a lot the author has to say but she has a few valid points to…