Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saving money on groceries

Recently, we had some family visiting for a few months and as a result, our grocery bills shot through the roof. It's back to being just us again and I'm trying to reduce our grocery expenses.

One of the reasons our grocery bill gets so high is we buy a lot of groceries at the local indian grocery store and it tends to be the biggest part of our grocery budget.

  1. Use a discount grocer or warehouse club - options for me are Trader Joe's, Market Basket, Costco, ALDI's and Sam's Club
  2. Choose your primary store and learn its layout
  3. Watch the store flyer each week
  4. Make a meal plan and grocery list
  5. Stock up big on sale-priced non perishables
  6. Listen to uptempo music while you shop
  7. Figure out the price per unit when buying a specific non perishable item
  8. Shop your pantry - meal plan around the items in stock in your pantry
So I'm going to start meal planning soon and use the rest of these tips to reduce our grocery costs every month. I will keep updating on how that's going.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Corn and Capsicum Tikki

I made this Corn and Capsicum Tikki yesterday and it was really yummy. I forgot to take pictures but it was fairly simple to make and pretty fast. It is pretty healthy and a good evening snack.

Corn and Capsicum Tikki recipe

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Some iPhone tips you didn't know about

I came across an article recently about some iPhone tips and it had some suggestions which I didn't know about even after years of using iPhone.

Here are those suggestions:
  1. Invert display colors for easy night viewing. o to Settings --> General --> Accessibility --> Invert Colors to change your nighttime display.
  2. Slide texts left to read timestamp. A few days ago, I found myself trying to find out when a message was sent in iMessages and was not able to figure it out. This is useful info for the future.
  3. Ask Siri what's happening on Twitter. For some reason, I've not used Siri much beyond basic stuff like setting a reminder or an alarm. I should start using it more.
  4. Putting the phone in airplane mode to charge faster. I don't know if this really works but something i need to try

Monday, September 19, 2016

1000 Books Before Kindergarden Initiative

I recently came across the 1000 Books Before Kindergarden challenge and decided to take it up for both my daughters. I'm excited to start this challenge and hope all of you with little ones take it too - To me, it's a way to motivate me to read to my daughter everyday.

I've started a separate page for this challenge and will keep track of the books there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Review: If the Earl Only Knew by Amanda Forester

Today is National Read A Book day and I finished reading this book today. It was a fast read and I loved the character of Kate and her courage. She and her brother were interesting characters and I look forward to reading her brother's story. 

Here's the description from Amazon:

The chase is on in award-winning author Amanda Forester's brand-new Regency romance series!
A sizzling scandal just waiting to happen... 
Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won't ever be accepted as a proper society lady. 
To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can't decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her...

 I found it refreshing that the male character was not given too much importance and not portrayed as the central character. While he is not shown as a weakling, the story does not focus so much on him.

I definitely recommend reading this book if you're looking for a light and fast read!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Only a Promise by Mary Balogh

I am a big fan of romance novels and have just started to get back into reading after a really long break. I've started reading the Survivor's Club series by Mary Balogh. This book was an easy and enjoyable read and I liked it. 

Here's the description from Amazon:

The new Survivor’s Club novel from the New York Times bestselling author. 
The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, for one of them, striking a most unusual bargain will change his life forever.…  
Ralph Stockwood prides himself on being a leader, but when he convinced his friends to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he never envisioned being the sole survivor. Racked with guilt over their deaths, Ralph must move on...and find a wife so as to secure an heir to his family’s title and fortune.
Since her Seasons in London ended in disaster, Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood. Driven by the need to escape her family, she takes refuge at the home of her mother’s godmother, where she meets Ralph. He needs a wife. She wants a husband. So Chloe makes an outrageous suggestion: Strike a bargain and get married. One condition: Ralph has to promise that he will never take her back to London. But circumstances change. And to Ralph, it was only a promise.

 I loved how the author explored the characters and emotions of the main characters and dealt with after effects of war. The main characters were not perfect and dealt with complicated problems. I also liked that there was no great grand plot to get them to fall in love or confess their love. The gradual progression of feelings was very well done and I liked that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Life has been busy!

Life has been busy and both my daughters have been keeping me busy. We had a hectic summer with family and friends visiting almost every weekend. We even had a small family get-together at the Poconos Mountains. It was a fun summer.

AGirl started at a new school close to home over the summer and it took her a while to adjust to the new school but she loves going to school now.

A2Girl has been doing good and growing but dealing with some gas and sleep issues.

I've been staying at home with the kids so far and am not sure when I will be going back to work. It's a hard decision and at this point I can't figure out how I'm going to make it all work.

I hope to start blogging more frequently from now on as I get some more time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Baby in the house!

So I disappeared from the blog for a little bit because I had my second baby girl in April. 

And as you can imagine, it has been very busy. AGirl has been excited about the baby for a while now but since the baby was born, she has become super possessive of me and been very disruptive. I have been told this is just a matter of time and things will settle down in a few months and I can't wait for that day.

I am hoping to start blogging again this month. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Recent Parenting Articles That Really Struck Me

Why Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug a Relative: While the intentions are good, the consequences are pretty bad. As a child, I never felt comfortable being forced to even talk to people and asked to let go of my parents. I can't imagine being forced to kiss or hug somebody when I didn't want to.

8 Things ER Doctors Refuse to Have in Their Homes: Wow, this was pretty eye-opening for me. Things which really surprised me were Ramen Noddle Soups, Old pain pills and High chairs that pull up to the table. I never thought of these are dangerous enough to not keep at home.

How You May Be Ruining Your Child's Love Of Reading: I have been reading to my daughter from the very beginning and she is read to at daycare as well. But recently, as her books have gotten bigger and I'm running low on time, I've been trying to get out of reading after just one book. She wants me to read more and more - I should probably indulge her more and read more books to her.

Monday, March 14, 2016

AGirl's Favorite iOS Apps

AGirl's 3 years old and she loves playing games on the iPad. It really varies by day as to which app she plays with but some of her current favorites are:

Toca Nature :- She loves playing on this app and exploring the environment. This is one of her favorites that she keeps coming back to and playing.

ABC Gurus :- AGirl has never been into the alphabet apps even though I've bought a ton of them for her. This is the only app she has shown interest in and only recently. But for the last month, she has been consistently coming back to the app. You can color each letter and add eyes, mouth and various other features and activate it.

Little Builders :- This is an iOS Editor's choice app and I had just downloaded it because it had become free for the weekend. I had not really expected AGirl to get into this since she's not into trucks or building stuff but she really loved this app and has spent hours on it. At times, she would get frustrated because something she wants to do requires more finger control than she had at that point but the game is really good.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Quick Review: Todoist

Todoist is a great To-Do list manager and it's biggest advantage is that is syncs across all my devices & applications - Chrome, iOS (iPad & iPhone), Linux, Mac. I love the reminders feature and the Karma feature.

I've been using Todoist for about a year and I've been loving it. I'm a premium member but I started off as a basic member and I wanted the premium features - so I decided to get the premium version - it's worth paying for it. I use it to track all my appointments, things I want to follow up on, daily stuff I want to do, articles I want to read in detail later. It can handle a lot.

I especially love the iPhone app - it's so easy for me to tick off tasks I've done and add new tasks on the go. I can also select multiple tasks and move them to another day if I've not been able to complete them.

Try out the basic version and let me know how you like it.


To learn more about how to use it, go to A Comprehensive Guide to Todoist

Note: All opinions are my own and I haven't been paid or given anything for free. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Things to buy and not buy in March

March is just beginning and you can get great deals on certain products like chocolates, frozen foods, cleaning supplies and winter gear on clearance.

To Buy:

  • Winter Clearance: It's well known that the best time to buy clothes for a season is a couple of months after the season has started. Right now winter clearance is on everywhere and you can get great deals for next year or even for rest of this winter depending on where you live. 
  • Chocolate: Now's a great time to buy all the Valentine's day clearance chocolate and you can use it for baking or just enjoy the chocolate :)
  • Cleaning Products: There are lots of coupons out for cleaning supplies and combined with sales on the brand name cleaning supplies, now's a great time to stock up on them. 
  • Frozen Food: March is Frozen Food month and you can find good sales on frozen food and stock up. 
  • Luggage: Winter travel is over and summer travel is yet to start. You may find some good deals on luggage. 

Don't buy:

  • Spring Clothes: They will go on sale soon once spring starts. 
  • New Smartphones: Don't buy new smartphones which are still at full price. If you want to buy, go for older models which will be on sale. 
  • Patio furniture: The best patio furniture deals start over Memorial Day or Independence Day holidays

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February Goals Update

February was a busy month - my health is not doing so great and had some challenges with that. I didn't make too much progress on my goals but I didn't expect to anyway with everything that's going on.

Goals for 2016:
  • Blogging:
    • One post a week: I did 8 posts in January. 
    • Family:
      • Get my daughter potty-trained: Still working on this. Making some progress. The sticker chart didn't work but she is doing better with peeing in the potty if I take her. She still doesn't tell me when she needs to go. She still wants to poop only in her diaper - improvement is that she asks me to put a diaper on her when she wants to poop.
      • Get her ready for Kindergarten: Have been spending more time reading to her and asking her to identify letters and doing puzzles with her. Also have been listening to stories that she comes up with - she is so imaginative. 
    • Professional:
      • Learn one new technology over the course of the year: No progress on this
    • Home-making:
      • Organize the entire house top-to-bottom and room-by-room: Spent time organizing one of the guest bedrooms and some more organizing of the master bedroom. Spent some time decluttering some parts of the study. 
    • Financial:
      • Create a budget every month and stick to it: Did a good job sticking to February's budget. Didn't save any money due to some unexpected expenses.

    Friday, February 26, 2016

    Gender Inequality

    I came across this Indian advertisement for laundry on my Facebook feed and it brought me to tears. It brings home a fact that is so true... Women do a lot more of the housework and childcare than men do. And when a man does do housework, he is greatly appreciated and lauded for that.

    My husband and I both work full-time. My husband enjoys cooking more than I do and does majority though not all of the cooking in our house and recently has started doing his own laundry as well. But I still do 95% of the childcare in the house and 95% of the cleaning and my laundry and the kids laundry. I however consider myself better off than a lot of other Indian women - my husband does more work than they do. But it's not equal.

    I read this article on the New York Times and according to the article, in India, men spend about 0.9 hours per day on cooking, cleaning and childcare whereas women spend about 5.9 hours per day on the same. Talk about being unbalanced.

    Thursday, February 25, 2016

    Parenting Articles

    I have been reading a lot of parenting articles recently and thought I'd mention some of them here.

    How to Raise a Well-Mannered Child: My daughter is only 3 but I'm starting to notice that she is picking up on words and things we say which are not meant to be repeated by her. We need to be more careful around what we say in front of her. Also, we need to make a habit of sitting and eating together.

    Things Not to Say to Kids: I'm guilty of a few of these - especially the "Don't cry" and "There's no reason to be scared". I'm trying to do better ever since I read this article.

    What to Do When Your Toddler Runs Away: This is one scenario I'm really scared about. It did happen to me in the daycare parking lot - AGirl ran away from me. Thankfully, there were no cars about and I was able to get her back and talk to her about it. 

    Friday, February 19, 2016

    My Little Pony : Friendship is Magic Coloring Pages

    My daughter's a huge fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series and I had recently bought a coloring book for her which featured My Little Pony characters. She has been obsessed with them ever since we got them and has loved coloring them.

    The book ran out of Princess Luna coloring pages and she really wanted to color Princess Luna again. I went online to see if I could find something and found quite a few My Little Pony coloring pages.

    Here's a collection of a few of them which I liked and printed for my daughter:

    Kids Under 7: My Little Pony Coloring Pages: This has coloring pages of all the ponies

    My Little Pony Coloring Pages For Kids: There are a variety of coloring pages here as well

    Top 25 Free Printable My Little Pony coloring pages:- You can download all the coloring pages in a pdf and print them whenever your little one wants to color

    My Little Pony Coloring Page:- Has a lot of coloring pages you can print

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    Life Your Life On Purpose Coloring page

    A few days ago, I came across this coloring page on MoneySavingMom. "Live your life on purpose" is a quote by Crystal Paine and a blogger had made it into a coloring page. It looked simple enough for me to do and I loved the quote.

    Thursday, February 4, 2016

    January Goals Update

    January was a busy month and was a good month for the most part. I didn't make too much progress on my goals but I didn't expect to anyway with everything that's going on.

    Goals for 2016:
    • Blogging:
      • One post a week: Done. I did do 6 posts in January. 
      • Family:
        • Get my daughter potty-trained: Still working on this. Making some progress but still on-going. I'm going to start a sticker chart in February and see if there's any improvement. 
        • Get her ready for Kindergarten: Spent some time everyday coloring with her, reading books, introducing alphabet and talking with her
      • Professional:
        • Learn one new technology over the course of the year: No progress on this
      • Home-making:
        • Organize the entire house top-to-bottom and room-by-room: Spent time organizing my daughter's room and the master bedroom. Both are still in progress but some significant work was done. We bought a new bed for her, moved some furniture around and organized her closet. 
      • Financial:
        • Create a budget every month and stick to it: Did a good job sticking to January's budget. 
      • Personal Goals:
        • Read 12 books this year: I did do some reading but mostly fan fiction and a few romance novels
        • Do some craft projects: I did my first adult coloring page :)

      Wednesday, February 3, 2016

      Top things to buy in February

      Top 5 Things To Buy In February :- I probably will stock up on breakfast foods, cereals and canned goods this February.

      Top 5 Things To Buy In February :- This is another list from one of my favorite websites Hip2Save

      Monday, February 1, 2016

      What I've Been Reading

      Even though I feel like I haven't read much in the last year and last month, I did actually read quite a bit.

      I read a lot online articles and at the computer. I read a lot of Pride & Prejudice Fan Fiction and Harry Potter Fan Fiction. Last month, I reread some romance novels which I love to read over and over again.

      I love Judith McNaught's book - Once and Always. It's one of my favorite books and I love reading it over and over again. The characters make me laugh and cry and that's what makes me go back and read it when I feel the need to read something light.

      I also read these books of hers which I love - Almost Heaven, A Kingdom of Dreams and Remember When.

      I didn't keep track of which Pride & Prejudice Fan Fiction I read as I read so many but I love this series of Harry Potter Fan Fiction - Backwards With Purpose: Always & Always

      Monday, January 25, 2016

      My First Attempt at Adult Coloring!

      For the past several months, I had been wanting to try coloring pages for adults to see if it will help me reduce my stress. I printed one of my favorites out on card stock instead of regular paper and tried it out to see whether I have the patience to actually do it.

      And I did!! I was so proud of myself..

      The hardest thing for me was to realize there were no instructions - I had to decide which colors I wanted to pick and color. Also, realizing there's no right or wrong color - that was big for me.

      I hope to color more of the pages from the website below and hope you try it out too!

      20 Free Coloring Pages for Adults - Crafts on Sea

      Friday, January 22, 2016

      Life Advice from Kid's Entertainment

      I'm a huge fan of Disney movies and cartoon characters and my husband has frequently caught me watching my daughter's shows along with her. :)

      Here's some great life advice from beloved kids's characters by AAA State Of Play

      My personal favorites are from Olaf, Dory, Edna Mode and Dumbledore.

      Life Advice from 50 Beloved Characters in Kid's Entertainment - - Infographic

      Thursday, January 21, 2016

      2015 Hottest Year On Record!

      Yesterday, NOAA reported that 2015 was the hottest year on record breaking the previous record of 2014 as the hottest year on record. Global warming is becoming more and more of a threat but it saddens me that so many politicians just ignore global warming as a threat at all.

      I understand that there are other pressing issues at hand but we shouldn't ignore this long-term threat and do as much as we can - each and every one of us. I'm guilty of this too - My carbon footprint is probably quite high and I don't recycle or re-use as much as I should.

      But I'll make an effort to do so from now on. I'll start with 2 small ways:-

      1. Reduce my use of paper towels and switch to cloth napkins and re-use the paper towels I can when they are used
      2. Recycle paper and gallon milk plastics

      Tuesday, January 19, 2016

      Review: Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad

      My daughter recently received the Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad as a take-home gift from a birthday party. She has played with it before when she was around 2 years old and she did love it then but she would put the stickers in her mouth then and I had to keep an eye on her and she didn't quite fully get the concept back then. 

      Now that she's 3 years old, she played with the stickers by herself for more than an hour and knowing my daughter, that's saying something. She picked each type of habitat and was happily removing the stickers and sticking them. The best thing is that the stickers are reusable and they only stick to the sheet which comes with the book - they are easily removable and repositioned. Also, this means less time spent cleaning up after her stickers for me. 

      I anticipate that she will get hours of enjoyment out of this reusable sticker pad. 

      There are other themes as well - My Town, Vehicles and Play House.

      I highly recommend this sticker pad for 3 year olds and it's a great gift idea. 

      Tuesday, January 12, 2016

      Money Saving Tips Roundup: Saving at Stores

      Ten “HIP” Kohl’s Shopping Secrets You Need to Know: Kohl's is one of my favorite places to shop and it's the closest store to my house - so I find myself shopping online and at stores fairly often. Even considering myself a savvy Kohl's shopper, there were a few tips here I didn't know about.

      15 “HIP” Tips for Saving BIG at Target: Same for Target - I love shopping here with Cartwheel and mobile coupons and during seasonal clearance sales.

      Monday, January 4, 2016

      Goals for 2016

      Happy New Year!!

      It's a new year and I'm excited about starting fresh again! This is one of the best things about life - you can always start over - no matter how many times you've done it before.

      Last year, my blogging fell off around mid-year because of some personal issues I was dealing with but this year, I'm determined to start again. I have a lot of plans for this year but I'm going to try to be realistic as well. I'm going to be facing a lot of challenges and changes in my personal and professional life and I will blog about them as they happen. But keeping them in mind, I'm going to be ambitious but not disappointed if I don't end up meeting them.

      Goals for 2016:
      • Blogging:
        • One post a week: I want to try to blog at least once a week, hopefully even when life is extremely busy
        • Family:
          • Get my daughter potty-trained: This is going to my major focus for the first half of the year. My daughter's 3 and a half and we need her to be potty trained soon. She's half-way there already and we just need to push her to the finish-line.
          • Get her ready for Kindergarten: I want to spend some quality time with her and teach her stuff and play with her. 
        • Professional:
          • Learn one new technology over the course of the year: I would like to learn some new technology like Selenium or write an iPhone app. Basically, I want to learn something new and implement it in some way. 
        • Home-making:
          • Organize the entire house top-to-bottom and room-by-room: This has been a long time coming and I have to get this done this year. This will involve some purging and re-organizing. 
        • Financial:
          • Create a budget every month and stick to it: This is going to be challenging but is also very important to our family's financial health.
        • Personal Goals:
          • Read 12 books this year: I want to spend a little more time getting back to reading this year
          • Do some craft projects: I want to try some craft projects which I've been wanting to do for a few years now

        Slid off again!

        The last few weeks have been extremely busy and I have not spent much time on the computer at all. So I have not been blogging much - hope t...