Monday, August 31, 2015

Back To School Jewelry Looks

     Heading back to school is always exciting and maybe even a little nerve racking. You’ve got a backpack full of new supplies, some great new clothes and a chance to start fresh. Now’s the time to stand out from the crowd.

 This post was created in partnership with eAccountable. All opinions are my own.

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Whether you’re going back to high school or hitting the college campus, one way to really make an impact and show off your seriously unique style is accessories that will turn heads and make your classmates envious.

Get that extra boost of confidence when you wear modern, cool, edgy accessories like ear cuffs, ear jackets, hand sheaths and unique statement rings. Visible Interest is a top destination to get the newest jewelry pieces by indie designers who share a passion for the uniquely fresh and modern and who believe in the charm of individuality. Visible Interest has something for every hip chick - sleek and modern options in gold, silver, or mixed metal looks.

Check out Visible Interest's back to school collection and get 15 percent off your purchase with the code: Back2School through September 19th, 2015.


Visible Interest

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Survive a Financial Crisis

Nothing is permanent. That is very true most specially, when it comes to money. I am sure at some point in your life, you may have experienced a financial storm that had truly impacted your life. Going through a financial crisis is a no brainer cause for stress. On my post about How To Survive and Thrive On a Single Income , we experienced the hardship of the recession. It was a few years ago but we can not deny the valuable lessons we learned from it. Most families I think learn from it.

Whatever the unexpected situation you might be facing , it can be a job loss or a situation where it requires you to live below your means..getting ready can bring you peace of mind.




BUILD YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT

Some may call it an emergency fund. I had written a post about brilliant ways on how you can build your savings account. It is not hard really, you just have to start. NOW.  If a $1 savings plan or $5 savings plan is still not doable..start at .25 cents and let it grow. By the end of 52nd week you will have $344.50. Yes, it may not be enough for a whole family but imagine if you start putting a larger amount every week. Diligently.

Check out my recent post on : 6 Superb Ways to Build Your Savings Account.


START ADJUSTING YOUR BILLS

Sit down and give this part an hour or two. Decide on what bill expenses you can trim down. It can be your cellphone bill, maybe you can downgrade a plan or call to negotiate your current plan. If you have a cellphone, does having a home phone matter? Maybe you can for go some subscriptions for the time being : netflix, magazines, or other monthly subscriptions.

Sometimes it is important to know when to ask for help. For some, relying on government assistance is just a NO-NO. I am not suggesting that you will just solely rely on it, all I'm saying is..sometimes we need to do what what we have to do to stay afloat. Maybe a government assistance --such as utilities payment assistance will greatly help.

Resources to check :
 Healthcare.gov -->If you’re unemployed you may be able to get an affordable health insurance plan through the Marketplace, with savings based on your income and household size. You may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

211 - Call to find organizations near you that offer low cost rent or mortgage help( unemployed).  You can also Google 211 for your state : 211la.org for LA County , 211texas for Texas , win211.org for Washington, 211ct for Connecticut , 211SanDiego for San Diego CA

Administration for Children and Families-  Look for the Low income home energy assistance, for utility assistance. You can also find other great resources here like headstart for kids and other support ( homelessness, abuse , human trafficking etc)

WIC- if you have children below the age of 5 and meet the income qualifications, you can apply for WIC. If you are on this program, it will also open doors for other assistance like : utility assistance, CA lifeline for phone services.

MAKE A "WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT THIS " LIST

It can be your weekly dining out or what I have mentioned above, it can be a monthly subscription that you can completely live without. Make a list of certain things that you can live without. You will be surprised on how much you can actually save with this list.


MAKE EXTRA INCOME

If in the case that you were laid off, well by all means take a break if you needed to BUT always..always make sure your resume is updated . You never know when a good opportunity will come knocking on your door. Include all and any newly learned skills that you may have. If you are tech savvy and knowledgeable with the in and outs of social media, do mention that. All companies nowadays consider social media marketing as a great tool.

Got more skills? Make a list of skills that you are good at in addition to your line of work. If you are really good at crafts, homemade gifts , why not sell it on etsy? or start a blog ( free at first), start a facebook page and market your creations. Do you rent? Ask the owner or land lord if you can trade in some handyman skills you have, in lieu of some or all the rent.

Check out my recent post on : Work From Home Jobs ( for bloggers and non bloggers) and 20 Ways Bloggers can Earn Money.


FACE THE DEBT BEFORE THE CRISIS

Sometimes we dig our own grave. Does that sound harsh? Only a few people live on "what if's " . I can't blame them..that is just not a way to live. Besides, the words "fear not " is mentioned 365 times in the Bible ( well, some say that that is actually exaggerated..some say only 200 some 314 times). The point is, whatever number that is. God does not want us to worry.. to fear.  He also wants us to be a good steward of our money. Even before you face a financial storm, face the debt.  You wouldn't want that added stress of debt .


SIZE IT DOWN

There is nothing wrong and embarrassing about downsizing. I will be honest here.. We did downgrad to a smaller place when we faced a financial storm ( 2008-- who didn't?) . I felt so terrible, ashamed and just flat out awful. I was thinking  family and friends may look down on us because -- WE DIDN'T OWN A HOME. The fact is I absolutely missed the truth, that we are actually gaining something. We took a responsible and humble step of downsizing. Keeping up with the Jones's will tear you down. It doesn't matter what other people or family may think of you. Take a big step of stepping back, not because you are moving backwards BUT because you realized what really matters in your life.

Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward
after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.” 
-- Robert Brault. 
Tweet:  “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward
after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.”

NEVER. NEVER . EVER LOSE FAITH.

There will be times where you've been submitting resumes left and right. Times, when you did all the best that you can. Those days where everything seems like all the problems in the world are in your hands and the "rainbow" after the rain is out of sight. NEVER. EVER. LOSE THE FAITH.  Keep on pressing , keep on fighting. Remember that , " This too shall pass"

 Here are Bible Scriptures for you to reflect on and to give you strength on your
temporary problems :

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Matthew 6 : 25- 27 " That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Hebrews 11 --> About great examples of faith
Genesis 22:11 --> Abraham's faith was tested
Genesis 39:21 --> Our Lord's faithful love FOR Joseph 
Proverbs 3:5-6 --> Trusting Our Lord
Isaiah 41:10 --> The Lord is always with us
John 14:24 -->Do not let your hearts be troubled
Psalm 46:13 -->God is our refuge
Psalm 55:22--> Casting our cares onto the Lord.




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cookie Butter Roll Ups

So I finally tried the cookie butter. I know huh..I am so "yesterday".  My sister's love it and so do my nephews but I never had the chance to try it , even though we live very close to Trader Joe's . Now that I have ,YUM. What was I thinking, don't be me. Cookies and butter..what's not to like.

Yum




Ingredients:

8 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter ( may use more for frying)
Cookie butter

Directions:

Cut all the crust from the sandwich bread. Flatten it out with the use of a rolling pin. If you do not have a rolling pin, a glass would do the job.


Whisk the egg and milk together, set aside.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl or dish, set aside.


Spread a teaspoon ( or a lil bit more) of cookie butter on your bread.  Spread it in the middle , leave an inch from the edge of the bread. Roll it up nicely.


Using a skillet,(medium heat) melt your butter . Dip the rolled bread in the egg and milk mixture and place the roll ups into your hot skillet(medium heat),until browned.Turn your roll up and fry until all sides are browned.


Place the fried roll ups in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Coat the roll ups nicely with the sweet mixture.



 Serve with milk,coffee or tea.









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Breakfast Biscuits

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Friday, August 14, 2015

10 Books That Teaches Safe Touch, Stranger Danger and Self Awareness

A few days ago I shared a post on  How to Teach Kids about Safe Touch. I got positive responses on that post. This is a very important and personal topic for me. Talking to kids about this very sensitive topic can be really intimidating. A study done by David Filkenhor , Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, shows that : ( see, National Center for Victims of Crime)


  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
-->The statistics and prevalence of  child abuse is hard to determine because it is often NOT REPORTED.

 I truly believe that child sexual abuse prevention starts at home. We are our children's advocate.
We can empower and keep them safe.

   When hubby and I felt that it was time to teach our own kids about the safe touch and unsafe , I was honestly at a loss. I just didn't know how to start. I asked a friend of ours and she suggested a book. That's where we started, our girls love books, so how else can I relay this very important message to them. The world we live in now , sadly requires parents to be proactive. Here are some some book suggestions to help you discuss this very important matter.





---> this post contains amazon affiliate links, see full disclosure HERE




It's My Body by Lory Freeman

 Preschool children learn safe boundaries, how to distinguish between "good" and "bad" touches, and how to respond appropriately to unwanted touches. This book is a powerful book for enhancing self-esteem.




     This book is excellent because it was written from a kid s point of view, so  it makes the teaching moment a lot easier. The book uses a simple but direct approach that doesn't dumb down the issues involved. There are also suggestions of appropriate responses to help keep them safe. I Said No! covers a variety of topics, including:
What's appropriate and with whom.
How to deal with inappropriate behavior, bribes and threats.
When and where to go for help, and what to do if the people you're turning to for help don't listen.
Dealing with feelings of guilt and shame.




    This book uses simple and reassuring language. It did a wonderful job of explaining that a child's body is his or her own; that it is all right for kids to decline a friendly hug or kiss, even from someone they love, and that you can still be friends even if you don't want a hug now.




      Right Touch reaches beyond the usual scope of a children's picture book. It is a parenting book that introduces a very difficult topic--the sexual abuse of young children.




This book helps kids distinguish between good and bad secrets. It can be confusing for kids to know the difference between a good and a bad secret.There are secrets that are fun to keep, like a surprise birthday gift for Mom, But sometimes, children have secrets that make them feel bad, and these secrets are best shared with their parents, or with some trusted older person. A child who is bullied might be inclined to keep it secret, but it's always best to tell parents about it. Or children who are touched intimately and improperly by an older person will soon feel better if they reveal the secret to parents.A must read for every family.



   Siblings Katie and her little brother Kyle learn about personal safety, private parts, and “thumbs up & thumbs down” touches by talking with their mom in a loving and easy-to-understand manner.  Katie and Kyle’s mom also explains the essential “No Secrets” rule in their family, and that it is never their fault if they get an “uh-oh feeling” from anyone.

    The story is written with a positive and engaging approach using child-friendly language and charming illustrations. A “Parent's Guide with Prevention Tips” is also included to help parents understand their role in keeping children safe from sexual abuse. By learning how to interpret red flags and how to recognize possible grooming scenarios, parents can significantly reduce the risks and keep their children safe from sexual abuse.

   “No Trespassing - This Is MY Body!” comes highly recommended by pediatricians, teachers and parents as a valuable tool in the fight against childhood sexual abuse.




    It is a storybook to help boys and girls, of different races and ethnic backgrounds learn about protecting their bodies, self-respect and how to assertively say “No” and “Don’t touch me!” to anyone who touches them inappropriately.

   Children learn that it’s OK to tell and talk about their feelings. This book uses  simple explanations and open-ended questions as well as a fun “Can you spot it?” exercise to keep children engaged and help refocus them if they become distracted, anxious or stressed due to the topic being discussed.





 Young children are curious about almost everything. Asking questions is one of the many ways they learn about themselves and the world around them. Sometimes body parts can also be confusing for them. The key to self awareness and keeping them safe is the knowledge of each body is unique. A boys body parts is different from a girl's. It is a fun way of teaching young children.




 We want our children to learn the stranger danger concept.  It is hard at times especially when us adults encourage our kids to be friendly and cordial. This book did a wonderful job with that task. When Papa Bear tells the cubs why they should never talk to strangers, Sister begins to view all strangers as evil until Mama brings some common sense to the problem. "The Bears' rules for safe conduct among strangers are listed on the last pages, including a rule about the privacy of a bear's body. It is definitely a must read for every kid.


This book uses an age-appropriate and kid-friendly format . My Body Is Special and Belongs to Me! tackles safe and unsafe touch and much more topics that can be intimidating to discuss .




I would love to connect with you! 



How to teach kids about safe touch



http://www.abountifullove.com/2013/11/dear-daughters-20-manners-we-want-you.html



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Polynesian Chicken

My mother in law gave me a couple of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. Every time I crave for comfort food and get overwhelmed with all the drool worthy recipes I can find online , I browse through the pages of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. I know..I know..browsing through cookbooks is so old school. But some of the great , tasty, time tested and delicious recipes are in the good 'ol cookbook. This Polynesian Chicken is so good, I am sure that your family will love it. Budget friendly to boot!



Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken, cut up
1/4 cup, low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 tbsp dried minced onions
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
8 3/4 oz can pineapple chunks, drained ( reserve the juice)
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
11 oz can mandarin oranges
optional : cooked white rice


Directions:

Combine soy sauce, ginger, pepper, onion, brown sugar, reserved pineapple juice and orange juice. 


Place the chicken in an ungreased 9 x13 baking pan. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for one hour ( or overnight), turning once.


Bake at 350 deg (covered) for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove cover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the juices are clear when pierced by a fork.


Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate and skim off the fat.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cornstarch and water with the skimmed pan juices, heat until it thickens,


Stir in pineapple and oranges. Heat until warm, Pour the sauce over chicken
Serve with rice.






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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Make Ahead Meatballs

I have a really good relationship with frozen meatballs. It is very handy for those busy days. I am also a big fan of batch cooking days. It would probably take 2 hours or more of your time but that 2 hrs will actually save you time .A few things that you can batch cook are :
  • GROUND BEEF -browning it and storing them in a freezer friendly Ziploc in 2 cups or more - great for taco nights, burritos, enchilada , meatballs ( recipe below)and many more!
  • CHICKEN BREAST - grill it and separate it into freezer friendly Ziploc bags in 2 cups or more - great for Southwestern Egg Rolls , Baked Cheesy Mexican Casserole and many more! ( See here for more RECIPES that uses chicken breast.
 Here's a delicious and yummy make ahead meatball recipe , make a big batch and use it for smothered meatballs, use it with this Super Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce or Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs.






Ingredients:

5 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs or use homemade breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup  low fat milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup Italian seasoning
2 tbsp brown mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
3 large eggs

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients together in a LARGE BOWL. .yep  learn from my mistake. It was indeed a challenge to mix it but the bowl got the job done :)

Scoop about 1 tbsp of the meatball mixture and roll them into balls with your hands.
Put the meatballs in a parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze the meatballs for about 10 minutes to let it firm up.
  Once the meatballs are firm , In a large skillet , heat olive oil. Fry the meatballs in batches, turn meatballs so  they are brown all over.  Place the cooked meatballs on a paper towel to drain excess oils/fats.


These meatballs are freezer friendly . To freeze , place the cooked meatballs in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put into the freezer.


When frozen, divide them into large freezer Ziploc bags and label.





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Friday, August 7, 2015

How to Teach Kids about Safe Touch

One of the many fears I have for our girls aside from their safety is being violated. As  proactive parents, we constantly teach them about strangers, which is a fine line because you want them to be friendly but need to teach the difference about being friendly and talking to strangers. We teach our kids to not bully and to stand up for themselves. We teach the ABC's , healthy eating, manners . We teach them about internet use and telling us whatever it is..that is on their minds..an open communication. Is it enough? It just doesn't stop there.
With all the news out there about child molestation , that goes on for years without the predators being caught, we often ask ourselves. How can we keep our children safe?
Teaching our young kids about safe touch unsafe touch is very vital. The two most important keys in teaching
them about safe touch is our guidance and communication/conversations. It is never too early to teach our kids about this.




---> Some links are affiliate links,  meaning if you purchase through that link , my blog gets a small commission. see full disclosure HERE

1. Teach body parts.

       Name body parts with your kids. Awareness is the first step on being comfortable with their bodies.
Activity to do :  Use this people shapes and help them label all the body parts. Make it a fun craft day.

2. Teach the "privates" and "privacy"

         After you've helped your kids in naming body parts, show them the "private parts". Explain that those private parts are private. Meaning we do not share our private parts . Explain and differentiate when a touch is okay and appropriate versus not okay and inappropriate --> going to your doctor's visit , when mom or dad helps you in the bathroom or when he or she is being helped when hurt. 

      The book, The Right Touch by Sandy Kleven is a great tool. It is a gentle read aloud story. In the story, young Jimmy's mom explains the difference between touches that are positive and touches that are secret, deceptive or forced. She tells him how to resist inappropriate touching, affirming that abuse is not the child s fault.


3. Their body belongs to them.

Explain to your kids that if anyone asks to see or touch their "private parts", they should say NO . Tell them that their body parts ..private parts belong to them and that NO ONE should touch it without their permission ( again, differentiate when a touch is appropriate).  That it is not okay for someone to ask them to take off their clothes, it is not okay for someone to take pictures or videos of them without their clothes.

In the same matter, teach them that other people have private parts too and that they should respect it too.

4. Fine line between POLITE and CONSENT.

This is such a sensitive topic for some families. As parents, we want to teach our kids to be respectful and polite most especially with RELATIVES AND FRIENDS. ( Hello Aunties and Uncle's, Grandma and Grandpa). There were times when family get really hurt and offended when our girls would not give a kiss or a hug.  Please for Pete's sake, let's not force our kids to give hugs and kisses..when they don't want to.

We NEED to clearly teach our kids about consent. By forcing them, we are confusing them about ownership of their body. Their body belongs to them. Let's not confuse them that they do not have control of their own bodies. Offer an alternative instead, like a "flying kiss" or " sing a song for them".

5 .Play the game of  SAFE TOUCH AND UNSAFE TOUCH.

Make a list of  "touches" . Use index cards and on on each card, write a name of a touch. Example : hitting, kicking, visit to a doctor with mom and dad in the room, a person asking to touch their privates, pushing, pinching)

Let your kid draw a card and let them tell you if it is a safe touch or unsafe touch. Give rewards by all means. Make it a fun learning experience.

6. Keep the conversation open .

Refrain from being impatient about answering questions. Believe me, as hard as it is for us to explain this difficult topic to them , it can also be confusing to their young minds. Keep the conversations open and gentle for their young minds. Use age appropriate explanations. We want them to learn and not frighten them .
Do not have this conversation only once. Revisit often.

7. NO secrets

 Whatever made them feel unsafe, uncomfortable , scared and upset , confused about a touch-- Assure them that they need to tell you or a trusted grown up. No secrets. When you talk to them openly , gently and honestly ( age appropriate though), it sets a tone of trust and safety..that they can talk to you about anything.

8. Pro active

As I have mentioned above, don't let this be a one time conversation. Revisit these talks. Watch a video about safe touch , read books about safe touches. You are your kids advocate. You are your children's voice. Let's equip them.

Here's a short video on child safety - NO TOUCH.



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Skills Your Preschooler Needs to Know Before Going to School

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