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Elephant Sanctuary: India Photo Credit Zengirl
How do we feel and treat other with compassion? Maybe you see someone struggling to carry large bag, do we help him? Maybe someone is feeling dizzy and fainting, do we rush to help or move on our way hoping she will be alright? If you hear a small child crying in grocery store, do you feel annoyed or do you feel bad for mother or father and ask them if they could use help? On flip side of the coin, what if you were offered the help, and you get annoyed by them? Are we ready to offer and ready to accept help and compassion in this society without being judged? I sure hope so.
I believe most of the people are good natured and kind hearted and ready to offer help but somewhere along our hectic life, we may become annoyed at others, or we think our privacy is being invaded when someone offers the help. However, we can still live our life relatively fine and help others and accept the help from others. Here are a few ways to be compassionate and helpful.
How do you feel compassionate? Do you help others when they ask? Do you help when they do not ask but yet you see them needing help? Do you feel compassion is important? How do you feel when someone offers you help? Do you graciously accept or act like you have it under control? Some answers may not be easy, but if we think about it, it just may be easier to accept and offer help to total strangers and be happy about it.
Go out and do one random act of kindness today, if you can.
If you have a extra fruits at home, either because you bought too much from the farmer’s market, or got from someone who has garden, what to do? It happened to us, a neighbor gave us so many oranges, more than we could eat. We ate fruits, made fresh juice, even shared some with other friends, we still had leftover oranges on our kitchen counter.
I turned to internet and food blogs to find a ways to make something edible form oranges, as I could not think of anything at top of my head. I found a few ways to not only use leftover extra oranges but also found a ways to use other fruits and make some home made gifts to share with others. Here are a few ways to save money, eat healthy and be creative at the same time.
Leftover fruits such as Oranges, Lemon, Lime
1 Cup Coarse salt
How to Make it: Recipe
Zest Oranges or other citrus fruits Until you get about 4 table spoons worth of Citrus zest. I use small inexpensive gadget that works well. Make sure not to zest white part of the citrus fruit as it tends to be bitter.
Mix zest and coarse salt in small bowl. You can use small whisk, but I prefer to use my hand to mix the content to release the flavor.
Spread it on baking try and leave it overnight to air dry it. I suppose it can be done in oven but I did not try it so not sure how the outcome would come out and taste. Air drying worked well for me. Fill it in air tight glass herb bottle. You can use in in Salad, soup and use it in herb infused olive oil with pasta dishes. Over the time, zest colors may fade but taste remains.
It should have about 2 months of shelf life.
4 Cups of Sugar
Peel Orange, lemons and grapefruit and score them in to sections in to 6-8 pieces by hand. Make sure peels are washed and does not have white parts or citrus membrane.
Cut Peels in to strips about half inch thick approximate measure.
Put washed and cut peel strip in sauce pan with water. Cover the sauce pan and bring to boil until soft. Drain.
Use same sauce pan and add 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar and bring to boil. Make sure sugar dissolves in to water.
Add boiled Citrus peel and bring to boil again.
Reduce heat and simmer peels slowly and gently. Stir once in a while until Citrus Peels are translucent and syrup becomes bubbly. It took about 94 minutes or so for me , approx. 1.5 hours. It is not a fast cooking so have patience while making this.
Once you think peels are translucent, drain it. Save syrup for other things (topping on crepes etc.)
Spread Peels in to cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Let it sit and dry it overnight, 8-12 hours.
Put remaining 1 cup sugar with food color of your choice, I used red. Toss red sugar powder in a bowls with air dried peels. Shake off excess sugar. Again let it air dry for 1 more day 8-12 hours, before eating.
For variety, you can dip these peels in to melted chocolates half way and dry it or freeze it. It will make beautiful candied peels that will taste great too.
Approx. 2 Cups fruit juice such as Orange Juice or Lemon Juice. (It can be freshly squeezed of store bought)
3 cups sugar
6 oz liquid pectin
2 table spoon fresh lemon Juice
Cooking oil (spray)
Take large sauce pot and pour Citrus Juice and sugar in it. stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.
Line a baking pan with microwave safe plastic wrap, covering whole pan and spray with cooking oil spray lightly. Leave it on side.
Cook juice on sauce pot on high heat for about 20 minutes or so, until mixture becomes soft ball stage. add liquid pectin inside and stir in for 2 minutes or so. You can use candy thermometer also but I did not, I just eye balled and guessed the temperature. I am bit lazy like that. If you use candy thermometer, make sure temp is about 220 degree or so.
Remove pot from the heat. Stir in lemon juice.
The pour the mixture in to prepared baking pan lined with plastic wrap.
Let it sit and cool for 1.5 to 2 hours, until it becomes firm.
Lift plastic wrap on pan and cut in 1 inch squares, or any shapes you like by knife or cookie cutters.
Dip each pieces in to sugar gently.
Store it in air tight container. You can wrap each little pieces to make sure they stay unbroken if you like.
Image source: Wikipedia
As a parent we want our kids to have best and do best, so we sign them up for classes such as sport, art, piano, violin, Language learning, lego and robotics and so many more. 3 months break in summer will give kids some break but no, we sign them up with summer camps during summer break. When do kids get a chance be a kid and play? It seems because of extra activities and fear for safety, kids are no longer free range kids as 30 years ago. Kids are showing stress signs but acting up, health issues and other disciplinary problems which may indirectly related to being so busy and high exceptions from parents, to school. One of the kids who is in Private school 2nd grade has 2 hours daily homework, in 2nd grade, can you believe it? May you can but it baffles me.
There are many kids who are either bored and too much stimulated by activities that surrounds them. Parents are not happy either, many parents seems to think they are busy driving kids from one activity to another. If no one is happy, why do we parent do this to ourselves? Stress survey done by Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s health (Palo Alto) found that over 50% of 9 to 17 years old were stressed out on average to high level of stress. That can’t be good.
We can not eliminate 100% stress and worries from our own life, let alone our children’s, however, we can surely try to minimize it by doing a few things. I think it may help parents and kids both relax a lot. Last semester, we followed hectic schedule our 2nd grader, and we have slowed down this month so we can get a bit breather. Here are a few things that we did that might work with other children as well.( Note I write child as he or him but this case goes for both girls and boys.)
You might think every waking moment your child should be doing something magnificent or learning. And it might be hard to see your child laying on sofa doing nothing, telling you he is bored. Creativity strikes right after boredom happens in many cases. Unwind after school activity for a day. Let them think and soak up all they did and did not do.
If you do extra classes such as music, art, swimming and other cool things, make sure your child has only 2-3 activities per week so give him time to relax his body and mind.
If your child has tons of home works or things to do, it can be overwhelming. Sure it is overwhelming for adults too. Breaking down things to do list or a problem in to mini section and tackling it helps see the result much faster and keeps us motivated, same thing with kids. In beginning you may need to help your child do this, until he learns how to do that on his own.
Majority of our stress comes from not finding stuff when you need it, especially for kids. If your kids or you are always looking for book, home work or a project you worked on last minute, it will increase blood pressure for all of you. Create a space for your child’s things, school works, hobbies so he can put everything in its place and find it when necessary.
If you teach kids to clean up since they are young, it helps them when they’re older. However, there is never too late to start, even for older child or even teen. Teaching them keeping their stuff organize and helping them by getting them bookcases, boxes to store stuff.
It has been said that minimum of 8 hours of sleep is needed to function better, but little kids to teens sometimes need more than 8 hours sleep. Do you remember when your infant was born, he was sleeping or cat napping 18 hours a day? Of course, kids do not need less sleep as they grow older, they may need 8-10 hours sleep to feel refresh and function properly. So, make sure you have routine for them and they get enough sleep to feel rested.
I have a younger kids so it is easier for me to stick to sleep routine and Zenguy has perfected sleep routine with kids so well, they know it and do it well. I am not sure yet how to enforce on teens but they can be reasoned with as well.
With family so busy with activities and things to do, we hardly tend to eat together. I fall in this category occasionally so I know. Making time to eat together as a family does wonder to kids self esteem and share what they liked on that day and what they did not. Young kids tend be chatty so we listen a lot or should I say we try to.
Seeing family life together and what everyone has done that day, makes everyone feel in “know” and be part of something special. At least, I know I felt that when I was a kid.
Being a parent can be demanding and we have things to take care of, bills to pay, dishes to clean, and so on, but taking time to talk to your child if something is wrong will help by asking direct and open questions and then listening to them. Always ask questions that can not be answered in “yes” or “no”. If you ask how was your day, you may get answer like “fine”. You should ask “What happened during X event?”
Sometimes we want so much from our children and we think of them as little people. They are not, they are still kids and will make mistakes. When I teach some concept to R, and I expect him to get it, and when he does not I sometimes get frustrated. I usually do not get upset with other child making same mistake. So I came to realize that wearing mom hat makes me expect a lot from my own kids, so I tried to wear teacher hat and try to be rational when I know a parent in me want a super smart child, instead of just human child.
We ll need help to lessen stress in our children’s life and our’s too. I am a work in progress and as I mentioned despite using pen name of Zengirl, I get un-Zen sometime, so I wrote this article for me to read when I need little motivation booster.
How do you keep your self or your child less stressed and more happy?
Image source:Stree Free Kids Curriculum
Image source: Zengirl
I am life long vegetarian since my birth, but that does not mean I eat healthy. Occasionally I tend to eat junk food sometimes, especially when I am stressed out, or extremely busy in other things. As part of finding balance between heart and mind of six areas, eating and being healthy is one of the important thing in my life as it is for many of you. Cooking and eating is important for anyone because we are what we eat, and we are what we think of ourselves.
Some of the people I know think cooking is complicated and hard so they tend to get take out or eat out. When they eat something at home it is almost always frozen meals heated up. Other people are opposite cooking great 7 course meals on weekdays like Martha Stewart’s shows. I fall somewhere in between, I generally love cooking but occasionally I go through times where we simply eat Khichadi or Bread and Milk for dinner.
Here are some of the ways I have learned over the years, so cooking is not complicated. Cook healthy at home with these simple tips.
I am sure, there are more ways to eat healthy that does not feel like climbing mountain or so hard. Do you have your favorite to share?
In January, many people are looking to take care of their new year resolutions, be it losing weight, eating well and saving money. I have goals that I want to achieve in 2013, I have given up making resolutions as I have failed in a few months to keep those up. So I create mini goals that I break down from a one big goals so it makes it easier to me to achieve it and stay focused.
One of the thing I am passionate about or should I say, I am forced upon is to save money. When I decided to not go back to my six figure salary work and be home with kids, something had to give so I started reading and learning new ways to cut down on expenses. Some of my early favorite personal finance blogs were Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly and Zen Habits. Trent from Simple Dollars still writes his money tips with passion after so many years so do check out his blog. J D Roth has sold his “Get Rich Slowly” blog and I admit I do not read regularly anymore but there are some great articles out there still. Leo from Zen Habits has achieved his financial freedom so he does not write about money tips much but I still read his blog for changing habits and inspiration.
I have done No Spend Money experiment and written about saving money tips before, as 2013 is starting, I am looking back to find more ways to save money so that I can continue to follow my passion of being home, work at home part time and homeschooling mom to my kids.
One of the most expense that people now a days have is phone related that is to say, phone, cable, cell phones and internet bills that keeps growing. Ten years ago or so family needed only single land line phone and television was simple choice enough choosing whatever came in local handful channels that came mostly free. But now there are thousands of channels and programs for television are there. For phone there are multiple lines, data plan, test plans, apps, ringtones and what not. I am not even sure I am all updated with what is available technology wise currently.
If you add this for spouse and kids, bill can run higher and higher. Although, television program says “Must See TV”, there is no such a thing as I and many others have given up or reduced watching Television for good. If you still decide to watch it, you can let go of many overlapping services to save money on bills.
There are a few ways to slash your phone bills and most of these tips will not cause to feel deprived either.
I love watching movies and a few Television series such as from BBC, A&E and Master Piece Theater. So, one does not have to give up watching their favorite TV shows or movies just to cut down on expenses. There are many ways to save and cut the bill in half or even more.
It has been said that over 70% of household have an internet access. That means many of us can find ways to slash our internet bills so we can still save money and still read best blogs, deals and news online.
Enjoy using phones, internet and watching movies, Television series without breaking your wallet this year!
Have you ever seen a newborn, how does he learns to crawl, stand or walk? We as an adult do not have learning sessions with infant to show how to crawl on your fours? Or, when we walk, how opposite hand and leg co-ordination should go? We do not have 30 minutes of classes and exams for it, yet infants learns to crawls, walk and chew and talk just by observing adults around him or her.
Knowledge and learning is very important, not piece of paper that shows the degree. One could have many degrees and yet do not know much or remember much after passing the tests. Unschooling is such a method of learning, that is alternate to what we think education system is. Yet it works for many kids and adults alike.
When we have a natural curiosity about the subject we learn the best, one size fits model of schooling does not work for every child or an adult. All of us do not learn the same way, and we all have different learning and teaching style. Some learn better by reading, some learn best by watching and others learn by doing hands on approach. Once we know what our learning style is, gaining knowledge is better.
I have BS in engineering and Marketing degree and half finished MBA, yet I have forgotten many things I learned in the university. I feel now when I have questions, I go on Wikipedia or and other websites, read many books and my learning is ongoing and I feel more knowledgeable than ever, because all the learning I am doing is because I want to, not because I am forced to or going to be tested upon.
Author and educator John Holt coined the term “Unschooling” in 1970s, when he wrote the book “How children fail“, I read the book after one parent recommended when I was searching for preschool for my son. It changed the way I think about education system, as John holt wrote about his experience as a teacher.
Here are some of quotes by John Holt; Although his quotes are for children’s education, it can apply to adult education too.
“Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.”
“I can’t help noting that no cultures in the word that I have ever heard of make such a fuss about children’s bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up. Could these social facts be connected? I strongly suspect they are.”
“What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent- is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.”
“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him.”
“Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world then anyone else could make for them”
“It is as true now as it was then that no matter what tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember, and use are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool parts of our lives.”
“Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don’t always know what it is. “
Sudbury model schools are where learning is individualized and child-led, and not forced education on him or her. I have visited a sudbury schooling here in SF bay area, where all age (from 4-16 years) children learn together and play together and it is based on unschooling way of teaching.
What is your opinion on today’s schooling system? How do you learn best? While I understand, everyone learns differently and their pace, in my opinion, learning happens best, when you are curious about the subject and learn on your own and not because you have to.
What do you think?
Image source: Here
If you asked this question around 2005, not many people knew what blog was and what that word meant. Now many people are writing on blog today and blogging has became a huge phenomenon. There are many free ways to start a blog such as from blogger and wordpress sites. There are hosted sites you can get from website hosting companies.
While my blog is surely not about how to start blogging or making money, I do often get asked by new readers who may want to start a blog, either to express themselves, show off their recipes, poems and what not. I am certainly not blog expert, but I know a few things since blogging since mid 2009, it has been over 3.5 years so I have picked up things that I want to share.
One caution is, blogging is never get rich quick thing for most of us, I am blogging for a few years and making money takes time and true passion. If one want to make money, then keyword and seo is important. I recommend expert such as Pat Flynn at smart Passive Income blog and Darren at Problogger to find out more on how to blog for making money as they are far better and expert in the blogging to make money field.
I started out on free blogger site first. However, I personally prefer to have my own site hosted on web hosting account, as it give me more control over design and content of my blog sites. I use BlueHost for hosting and I am quite happy with them. However there are many web hosting choices to choose from.
If you are starting out check out how to get blog set up and website tools needed to get you started off on right Path.
As long there is a internet alive, blogging will be too and it has future. It may change with time as internet changes.
Personal Blogs: This is where people write about themselves as a journal, to keep in touch with long distance friends and families, to create a online journal to keep a goal such as losing weight or saving money etc.,
Information Blog: These type of blogs are great for sharing and learning about some particular topic such as gardening, cooking or fitness.
Some people do it for fun, some do it for making money. I like to do it for mostly fun, however it would be nice to make money to recover cost involving hosting, domain and time spent a little for most people.
Static Websites: These type of website do not change, they are usually few pages long and have information about one subject and people can learn, click and go. Example includes many bank sites, picture images site, how to articles.
Blog: Blog is where content is often updated and posted. Some on daily basis or some on weekly basis. People can blog how often they like about one subject to multi subjects they like. Fresh content makes it easier for search engine to find and rank your site. That is one of the reason many site including corporates site now has a blog section.
Forum: Some site has a blog and forums and some sites are only forums on specific topic. Even many money and parenting sites has several forums which are quite popular among people. It could be addicting. Forums are best for asking questions and learning from it.
Knowledge/Wiki: Some sites are open for others to share their reviews or point such as IMDB or wikipedia, where people may learn and post knowledge they have.
Podcast Blog: These type of sites have audio based postings, such as interviews you can listen to, music you can listen to and so on. It seems to be popular with many people who can listen to podcast while driving or doing other things.
Video Site: You tube, Vimeo are popular example of these sites that are big. One can start his or her video blog by recording a topic or places to put on the blogs and share the knowledge on subject they are expert on.