101 Changes: Change 19- Do More With Beauty Products

If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days. I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: Change 18- Heal The Hurting Heart

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Creative Triple Duty Beauty:

I like and think of a new ways to re-use, re-purpose what I have at the hand. It comes in handy as a stay at home mom, or saving money and also saving a trip to a store. Here are a few ways you be able to save money and downsize your make up bag as well. Did you know, beauty products can do other things as well?

Petroleum Jelly:

Use 1: Everyone’s knows and uses the pretty inexpensive Petroleum Jelly for smoothing rough and dry skin and protective barrier over the skin. My favorite use is to use it over minor cuts and scratches on kids and myself.

Use 2: Use for lips: I was reading ingredients on lip balm and thought of creating a lip-balm at home for cheap using Petroleum Jelly. You can create a lip balm with dab of Jelly, a drop of perfume, 1 vitamin E capsule.

In addition to it you can create lip exfoliate product at home. Here is how to do it,  take small scoop small  spoonful of Jelly, mix it with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Massage the mixture over dry, chapped lips. After you’re done, wipe it away with soft cloth towel and now you will have soft and kissable lips.

Use 3: Remove makeup: Use petroleum jelly on cotton pas and gently press it over eye makeup area for to wipe away make eye make up. It can be used to take over makeup over face as well.

Perfume:

Use 1: Use spray perfume to give your skin, clothes, body an amazing scent and feel fresh.

Use 2: Create a scent holder: Take a pretty greeting card or colorful thick card paper, punch a hole at the top with hole puncher and thread a yarn or ribbons through it. Spray a mist with your favorite perfume and hang it inside the car or bathroom for instant scent freshener. Whenever, scent stops coming, you can spray it again a few mist and its ready to go again.

Use 3: Some of the perfume bottles are so pretty, so what to do when it is empty? I use it when it is empty to fill up with little water and make in to mini single flower vase to display. It looks great and smells wonderful.

If you use many little small bottles together with single bud or flower will make a beautiful center piece or decor that not only will look great but smell great as well.

Mascara:

Use 1:  Generally used for boosting the thickness or length of your eyelashes.

Use 2:  Did you know you can use a mascara as an eyeliner too? Dip a small brush in to the container and sweep it along the lash line. I learned this trick from a make up tip from a Women’s day magazine.

Use 3: Disguises gray roots: If you started to get white hair but not enough to use hair color formula, then using mascara to disguise the white roots and hair might just be right trick for you. Grab a mascara that matches your hair color closely, and gently brush and glide it over your white hair and roots. A little mascara can go long way.

How do you re-use or re-purpose beauty products you have?  If want to know more creating beauty for cheap check out my post: Create Beauty Products from Fruits and Vegetables

101 Changes: Change 18- Heal The Hurting Heart

I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: Change 17 – Help Someone Even In Bad Economy

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Life is funny in a way, as we do get most hurt by people closet to our heart, and not by someone whom we barely know. People close to us, be it close friend, sibling, cousins, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, can hurt us emotionally, sometimes with words and sometimes worse. We are going to talk about hurt by words, an emotional hurt here.

How to heal, when you are hurting and move on, when it is hard and you do not want to? I wrote a post not too long ago about being Have you gotten hurt , it was and is very hard for me to deal with.

We can not prevent of getting hurt by other person, as it would be impossible unless we lived alone in woods. But we can steps to minimize the pain and move forward. How so? Let’s explore.

1. Write down in journal or write a letter to them (Do not mail it, or give it to them, just write it for your eyes only) Write everything down you feel. Talk your feelings to someone else who will understand and not judge you. If you can not find/trust anyone to listen, that is okay, you can talk to a stuffed toy or picture of your friend and let it know how you are hurt and how it is making you feel in details.

2. Once your initial anger/frustration is out, you can try talking to a person who hurt you in person. Make sure, timing is good for both of you and there are no other distractions. When you talk, keep flow and mind open. Do not accuse or attack person but talk about situation in focus. Once you talk, listen to other person’s explanations. It simply could be that person, never realized that he/she was hurting you.

3. Once you talked your feelings out, see how genuine other person’s feelings are. If they are truly in dark or truly sorry, you can forgive and be friends with them slowly.

4. Sometimes, most of us are not so lucky, and other person may not feel they have done anything wrong and they accuse you instead. Try to remain calm but firm in your beliefs. Sometimes, you may have to walk out on that relationship for short-term or permanently, if you think it will not work out.

When relationship ends, it hurts a lot, specially, if you have invested so much of your time and efforts and your kids and their kids life have intermingled. Make a choice and stick to it, as it is not easy to do. Remember, your pride and dignity is important too, once you let someone walk all over you, they may do it again. Truly forgive them but you can choose not remain friends.

5. Forgive yourself for your feelings, it is okay to cry (yes, for guys too) but do not blame your self ,if relationship does not survive. One can not clap with one hand, you will need both parties willing to work out situation.

6. Friendships and relationship with people are complex as human emotions are complex. All of us want to be liked but sometimes, we can not please everyone. Do what you feel right for you and follow your gut feelings. Do not stop making new friends because old one hurt you. Sometimes taking a risk will benefit with new friendship that will be better suited for you.

No matter what happens, try to be open-minded and calm and try to resolve situation first. If you have hurt someone by mistake, tell your apology from heart, if you think you were not wrong, explain your situation and tell them you never meant to hurt them. All of us like to keep relationship intact but when it is not possible, move on without feeling guilty or blaming yourself.

Life teaches us new things and sometimes we became a better person because of it.

Do you have a story to share? Good or not so good ending? How would you handle your hurt emotions?

101 Changes: Change 16: Declutter For Better Life

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I am starting a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over again for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out last 101 changes article here: 101 Changes: change 15: Get Beautiful With Nature’s Bounty –Avoid Chemical Laden Creams and Make Up

Having clutter around not only cost us our money but also our piece of mind and happiness with it. Your house might be filled with piles of books and magazines you mean to read it, the smaller size clothes in your closet when you get back to your college weight, every toys that kids got from family and friends, many bills are just a few of example of clutter that most of us go through in our lives. Kitchen, bathrooms and office are worst places in a house for clutter to pile up easily. Instead of you owning the stuff, your stuff ends up owning/controlling you. Here are few ways, clutter cost us more than we bargained for;

  1.  You misplace bills to pay or check to deposit in your huge piles of paper. By the time, you find anything, bill is past due and check is no longer cash-able (after 90 days). You have just lost money and added interest or fees on bills too.
  2. You buy item, only to realize months later, that you had that same item in your storage pile somewhere in the house. It was hard to find and hence forgotten. Sometimes, you may buy same items a few times over the years, not remembering, costing you more money.
  3. You panic when someone called for unannounced to visit, as it will be overwhelming to clean up clutter in such a short time. Either you are embarrassed when company comes or choose to do less social inviting on purpose, either way you are losing social life with friends and family because of your clutter.
  4.  You do not want to come home as cluttered and messy home does not make you feel better. So you tend to eat out more often and do more outside shopping to make yourself feel good, adding clutter to your already cluttered house.
  5. You may think it is wise to put all extra storage in storage place, leaving your house cleaner. However, you may pay $50 a month for your junk and your house slowly begins to be cluttered again.
  6.  You may lose your valuable time finding things in the house. You may search every morning your car keys under the stuff pile, or you may find that food in your fridge has gone bad, wasting food and money both. Your self-esteem may take hit.
  7.  You are not living your true potential life, due to all clutter. You are waiting for some miracle to make it all better, clutter robs you from happiness. A happiness you get when your sink is empty and kitchen is clean and your bills are paid on time. You will get so much joy once work is done and you can truly relax and enjoy your home.

Is clutter costing you in some ways? In future we will look at a few ways to get started on path to simplifying and de-cluttering.

Finding Inner Peace Within You

 

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“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves. “— Mohandas K. Gandhi

There is a lot of information about how to “do something”, or how to make “more” money or how to get “ahead” in career in internet. While, I think it is important aspect of life, many of us forget how important it is for us to be peace within ourselves.  There is no happiness that comes from finding peace. Lot of people in past have tried to find enlightenment or being content and finding peace within themselves. I admit, I am nowhere expert, but I am working striving to achieve peace within myself. In new year resolution or goal, you should do that too. Because it is like satisfaction like no other in our life. Imagine, you’re thirsty and have not had any liquid for 6 hours, you will get that thirst quench satisfaction from cold simple water than any other liquid drinks, be it soda, milk or juice. Water is simple enough but it quenches thirst more, same way peace within us gives us happiness glow that no other things in life can provide.

Finding peace is simple but not easy in modern world as we are constantly striving to be better, constantly trying out-do our own past performances.  While there is certainly an advantage to better yourself, but doing it constantly may leave some people tired and worn out.

Ways to Find Inner Peace Within You

Here are 4 simple ways that I think peace can be attained by anyone who truly wants it. How?

1. Let go of expectations:

“Let go of expectations and live the life you’re destined for. Peace comes only when we are true to our soul’s nature.” unknown

One of the biggest thing that I have to work on is to letting it go of our expectation of others. We as people have an expectations from our family, friends, co-workers or people we may not even know. For example, in past I have expected that if I invite someone for dinner or pay for someone’s lunch, they should be returning the favor by doing same for us. It seems simple and may be reasonable enough expectation but that have led for me to disappointed a few times. Not because people I know are rude or thoughtless, it is because other people are busy in their and may not think they have to follow-up favor or anything might be a matter.

Same things go for making time for calling people, thanking people for hard work and effort, we as society are so busy and bogged down sometimes we may forget to appreciate what is good around us. By letting go of expectation, we can certainly let go of the hurt feeling, resentment and bad vibes that can ruin a good family bond and break away years of friendship. It is easier said then done but I am working on everyday to let go my expectation of people, so I can choose to have peace for myself.

2. Declutter Stuff, Data:

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hoffman

And the cost of a thing it will be remembered as the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it’. – Unknown

I can speak from my example, as we have kids so we often get so much stuff piled at home, mostly kids toys and art work. We also had some gifts from friends and family that we would never use, but could not give it away, because it was given by loved ones with effort. Our house size grew smaller as our stuff increased and living and maintaining became harder in a few years.

Our computer, and paperwork filing also piled up. Once we decided we needed to simplify and declutter our stuff and data life. It was hard start, but once me and Zenguy started decluttering and letting go of stuff, some brand new also gave us so much mental relief which is hard to describe. Once we simplified and let go of stuff, we had more space in our house, kids were actually able to play and enjoy with a few toys that we kept, we were able to find things quickly. This is ongoing process as stuff have strange ways of keep coming back.

Having more stuff means more to maintain, so letting go of stuff we did not use and keeping only things we use daily gave us so much space and mental freedom and mental peace. Try it yourself and see how it changes your stress level to lowest level.

3. Avoid Power Struggle and Control in Relationship:

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Often time, we want to be in control of our life, our house, our career and our destiny. Having perfect and harmonious life the way we want sounds good but that may not be someone else’s idea for harmonious life, which can lead to power struggle and frustration. For example, a friend of mine likes clean house like most people do, however she goes through mini heart attack whenever there even a little mess by her family in the house, so people in the house have learned not to do anything or play with messy things to avoid melt down. That may make be her happy temporarily, but for rest of family or visitor is like walking on egg-shell if they mess up.. That can NOT be good for other people in her life but she often times does not see it.

If your own mental peace comes at cost of other people’s peace, it will not be truly satisfying. Because making others happy and peaceful is more sustainable peace in my mind. Letting go of control and power struggle in any relationship and making others happy will not only give others mental peace but it will make you content feeling and inner peace that will glow in everyone around you. I was and up to some point control freak so I know what I am talking about, I have learned how to let go of control from Zenguy and slowly improving to improve my life and for those around me.

4. Forgive Others:

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

It would be truly Utopia, if we lived in a world where no one hurt other person and lived happily ever after. However, even I feel people are generally nice, sometimes we get hurt by them. Often times it is UN-intentional and other times lack of awareness on their part, as given a chance no one truly want to be a bad person who hurts others. At least that what I hope for.

Keeping resentment and hurt in our mind, we expect people to change their ways to apologize and we would say “No Problem” and back to being normal as before. However, it is worse when some people may not even realize that they have done something wrong or have hurt you and that is hard for person who is hurt.

One should forgive a person not because the person may deserve it, you should do it for YOU deserve it. You owe a chance to yourself to be happy and peaceful. So, let go and forgive and forget the situation so you can move on and live the life you meant to live.

Hope you achieve and find inner peace within you!

50 Way To Increase Your Income & Earn Money

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Pic Credit: Zengirl

Many of us are working at a job for pay bills and save money for the retirement. However, after paying bills, insurance and daily spending very little is left for many people. Right now with economy being down, many people are laid off, or getting paid less in their current job.

Many of us are looking for ways to make money on side to boost our income a little or a lot. There are a few ways which are relatively easy for any of us to make extra money. Now, none of us will be able to retire with these ideas or be a millionaire, but it will sure increase a nice boost to your income. Check it out, many are easy to do for any of us.
Ways to Make Money In Hurry

50 Ways to Make Money

Here are 50 ways to make money and boost your earning income to comfortable level.

1 Do online surveys. Many online surveys pays as little as 10 cents to 5 dollars. There are many surveys are out there to try it out. Beware of the one that asks for fee, try only free surveys sites. You can do surveys online or via email.

2. Sell sometimes from home which are not using. You can sell your stuff on craigslist, ebay or amazon. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You can make good amount depending on type of stuff you have. If you have any collectibles items, you can make good money. A friend of mine sold his baseball cards to make $950, not bad for something sitting in his closet. Sell only things you do not care for or not interested in.
Offer to drive someone around for little pay. Sometimes you can drop off people to airport, or pick up groceries for them and some of them will pay you $5-$20 for it.
3. Go around in neighborhood and ask them if the need lawn mowing done. You can go with a buddy and clean up yard for $20-$50 per yard.

4. Clean houses, sure it is not glamorous but cleaning house for a couple hours can make you $70-$150. Most of the area people need cleaned are bathroom and kitchen. If the house is super messy, you can ask for more money for it.

5. Give Blood, many blood banks are always looking for blood donation. It can be helpful to someone and you can make some money out of it. Check out everything before you donate your blood.

6. Write for online places such as hubpages or squidoo. You can make some money while writing about things you know. You do not need to be a great writer, good enough writer will do. Click here to join HubPages and Squidoo here. It is free to join.
7. Baby sit your neighbor or relative’s kids. If you like kids that is the great job to do. If you get a babysitter license, you can watch kids at your home and make a good full time income from watching 2-5 kids at home at once. Not bad.

8. Pick up children from school service is great as many parents are still at work when kids gets off the school. Parents need someone to pick up kids from school, and drive them home and spend couple of hours with them until they get home. These kids are usually older and can take care of themselves so it is good potential of making extra money.
9. Start blogging, you will not make money right away as it takes sometimes but blogging can be a good income source for many if done right.

10. Rent a room in your house, if you have an extra room that you are not using. That is great way to have income coming in without doing much work. You can set some rules as you see fit for your lifestyle such as no smoking inside the house, no late parties and so on. You can rent room for $200 to $700 per month, depending on where you live.

11. Teach English to adults and kids. Many times people want to learn proper English and you can teach them and it is a good way to supplement your income.

12. Paint street and house numbers: These painters have a block to paint numbers for street or house number and you can make $10 or more for painting each house on curb side. I recently paid someone $15 for my place and found out this can be done by anyone.

13. Recycle metal, cans and make extra money. If you are using lot of cans and metals, you can take it to recycle and make some money by doing it.

14. Paint houses, lot of people are looking for someone to do the work of painting the house. Painting house is relatively easy once you move the furniture and have supply at hand. It can be a great boost for additional income when money is tight.

15. If you love taking pictures, put your pictures in photo sharing sites, some of them you can earn money if someone decides to download it and use it for their website or print media.

16. Write for others: Many people are not great writers and looking to buy articles they need in specific niche subject, you can earn money by writing for demand studios or about.com.

17. You can always look for odesk, freelancer sites to see what are people looking in services, if you can provide those services that is a great way to make easy cash money.

18. Sell your hair for cash. Many people need real human for making wigs. If you have a long hair you can sell it for money, and your hair eventually will grow again in no time.

19. Take dogs for walk services. Many people are too busy to take their dogs for walk, if you have time and like being with dogs, then this is a great way to get outdoor and make some money along with it.

20. Deliver newspaper: There are still many people who are getting newspaper delivered to their homes. You can do small or large route and make money delivering newspaper as an adult too.

21. Fix computers for others: If you are computer savvy and know lot of installing and fixing minor computer problems, this has a great potential as many people are looking for ways to get help for computer related problems.

22. Invest in stocks: If you know what you are doing and know your stuff well with help for right people, tools, you can make good money in stocks. I am still learning but I know a friend who has made a good profit playing the stock market wave.

23. Sell your gold. Many of us have gold stuff that we do not use or care for, selling it to a reputable company can bring some cash to you. Do research before sending your gold anywhere.

24. Land your voice: If you have a great radio voice, you can do voice over for many companies or individuals. Good and easy way to make extra income.

25. Odd jobs as needed: One can shovel the snow, washing a car, cleaning a rain gutter, small handyman type of job will help make extra income in short amount of time on side.

26. Help people move: If you have a van or truck, you can be hired locally to move stuff for people and you can charge people by mile or amount of stuff they have.

27. Become a mystery shopper: Mystery shopping can be fun, as you can shop or dine to check out the services and file a report. Generally you do not get paid for items unless they are food in restaurant. Generally you will get paid $10-$20 per project. Look for mystery shopping opportunity near you.

28. Deliver Phone Books: You can deliver phone books to various neighborhood to supplement your income.

29. Start a small business from home: If you have some ideas for a business, start one from home, alone or with a friend. There are many business ideas to choose from, go with what you know.

30. Put your saving goals in high interest yielding account to make easy passive money.

31. Create a CD ladder: Here is a idea on how to create a CD ladder to earn more money from your interest on your savings.

32. If you use credit card, use reward cards that gives back percentage of spent amount of mileage for traveling, it is a great way to earn money from something you use anyways.

33. Tutoring kids for various subject such as math, science, reading or something you know.

34. Teach music: if you know how to play piano or how to play guitar, giving lessons from home can boost earning for you.

35. Search for bonus and freebies for signing up. Many times, banks and other companies may offer some bonus or freebie to open up an account for you, some time as high as $100, look for these deals.

36.Write an ebook on subject your know well of and sell it online.

37. Look for missing money and where is my refund sites to check if you have any money in it that you can claim.

38. Deliver Pizza; Most people order pizzas Fridays and in weekend, so if you get a part time job during that time, you can earn some money plus make some extra on tips as well.

39. Do car valet services: you can offer to park cars for popular restaurants, hotels or resort and make good money on income and tips.

40. Sell bottled water and cookies during fair and cultural event for profit

41. Sell your nicer stuff on consignment stores; Nicer clothes or nice stuff can be sold for higher prices at consignment store.

42. Use cashCrate for making some extra money.

43. Get free or cheap stuff from friends and resell it at higher price, after repairing and updating the pieces.

44. House sitting: Taking care of house related stuff while owners are short or long term vacation can be a great boost of income as well it can be free rent for you.

45. Be a guinea pig: Many times when new drug or product comes out, the pharmaceutical companies need to test the outcome, so if you are brave enough you can check out these opportunities for easy money for a few hours or long term work.

46. Sewing and alterations services: If you know how to sew and have a sewing machine at home, you can do small to big job or sewing new clothes, pillow cases, curtains and so on and you can make money doing alterations for expensive clothing for many people.

47. Be a Nanny: Nanny job is different than babysitting, as you will be watching only one family kids either at their home or yours. Many times, these nanny job comes with free rent, food and income to stay with the family.

49. Adult Daycare services: Many times elderly people or people who are sick need looking after and there are many opportunity out there for adult day care service jobs.

50. Have a garage sale for unwanted items, specially in spring and summer month. You will get rid of clutter at home and make money at the same time.

How To Simplify Gift Giving During Holidays

This is repost edit from previously written article on heart and mind.

Recently, I got an two email asking similar type of questions;

Hi Zengirl,

I like to simplify gift giving during Christmas, we have large family between both me and my husband, total of 9 siblings and 17 kids total, not counting cousins, friends and office workers. How do we do it all, without breaking our banks and without hurting anyone’s feelings?

Second email was similar.

Now that thanksgiving is coming up, we told our family members, that we are not going to pool money for Christmas as we are saving up for down payments on our first condo. My mom and sisters seems to be already visibly hurt and upset, as it has been our tradition to pool money each year. How do you do it without hurting anyone’s emotions?

Well, I can see and feel for both of them. It sure is not easy, as in western world, we have associated Christmas as gift giving to friends and family and our media advertisements shows images of happy families opening presents on Christmas morning.

Zenguy and I almost do not give traditional gifts to each other during anniversary and Holidays and prefer more of experience gifts route, but that does not work with kids, our kids like normal other kids loves toys, super heroes, books and puzzles. We as a family do Christmas gift giving to kids and some close family and friends without going totally crazy and tired over holidays parties and gift giving. Believe me there is a middle way, that is not too excessive with 55 gifts each or zero gifts.  Meaningful Holiday Gifts From Heart are always appreciated more compared to expensive gifts that have no values or thoughts behind it.

While, we can not undo years of traditions and mental thinking, we can try to keep bit of sanity, save money and keep ourselves and family happy as we can be; I understand, all of us are different, so pick and choose what works for you.

Simplifying Gift Giving During Holidays;

1. Divide and Choose:

If you have a large family and friend circle, sit down with family and divide and choose 1 or 2 family for gift giving, instead of 9 or more family. I am sure, everyone will be feeling the pinch and cost of gift giving so when you make a decision together as family, hopefully there will be less hurt and disappointment.

Everyone will still get a gift, save money and hopefully, there will be little less stress for everyone as they would have to buy for less people. If you do decide to go through this route, make sure, you divide, adult and kids in equal numbers and rotate people each year just to keep things fresh.

2. Set Buget Limit

If you have a large or small family, set a budget limits for gifts, so everyone is same boat. Someone I know always feels at short end during Xmas, as she buys $50-$75 gifts for kids, while her sister gives $15 gifts to her kids, she feels cheated and resentful. While everyone give according to their budget, if you set the budget limit  to reasonable amount, lets say $25 per gift, than everyone feels equal and satisfied. If you have extra monies, and want to give more, you can do that later or during holidays but no one should feel that they have to match the gift.

3. Give gift for kids only:

Everyone in family can agree that giving gifts to kids and teens only. That may work for some family. Adults can celebrate by other creative ways, such as going out for dinner, watching movies and so on.

4. Give gift of experience.

Experience gifts are going to museum, teaching someone how to ride a bike, cooking class, boat ride, spa massage to local spa, sewing classes, time to relax, adventure outing such as scuba, parachute jumping and so on. There are inexpensive and expensive options for giving experience gifts based on your own budget. The good thing about this option is this experience is remembered long after the holidays are gone and if you match it with person’s interest, it is more meaningful.

5. Give gift of time.

This is my favorite as mother of 2 young boys, I am short on time, so if I get some free, alone time it is like a million dollar gift to me. I am sure, there are plenty people who could use more time in their life. This is most underused gift can do wonders for tired parents, or someone who is care taking of an older parent or sick child. It could be simple enough to buy groceries, drive them, cook food for them, hire cleaning person or do bit of housecleaning for them. You get the idea. The recipient will remember this gift help long after these plastic gadgets gift most people give.

6. Have options:

If you can not do other options above or feel you must have gifts you can choose homemade inexpensive gifts, or inexpensive store bought but useful gifts to people around you.

a. Frugal Gift giving:

You can choose Gifts under $25 for every age, for all taste: Gift Ideas under $25

I am too lazy to do black Friday shopping early in morning, but my younger brother get most of his shopping done on black Friday, where there seemed to be lot of deals happening, so you can buy it on Friday after thanksgiving.  There seems to be lot of Black Friday online shopping deals, for those who wants to avoid shopping.

Best idea that I personally use, that I shop for gifts throughout the year, whenever I find good deals, not only for Christmas, but also for birthdays and anniversaries. It makes my life bit easier.

b. Homemade gifts and other ideas:

There are so many ways we can celebrate and give giving. Check out: Gifts from heart during Holidays

c. Give to gift cards

If you truly do not know what person would like, or they have everything, give gift cards to amazon, or their favorite book store or movie store. That way, they can buy what they like, when they like. They do not have to worry about returning unwanted gifts and you do not have to worry about going through mad rush in to over crowded stores during holidays.

d. Give gift to Charity

You can give gift to local shelter or charity on behalf your family member, and give tax receipt to them in a envelope. It is win win situation in many cases. People may feel good about helping and keep clutter away from home.

e. Give with gift receipt.

If you buy anything give with gift receipt, so the recipient can go return or exchange it if they need. Do not feel personal, if people decide to return, exchange or re-gift your thoughtful gifts. It is surely not you, but it is personal thing. When in doubt, always ask person what they like before spending time to find perfect gift for them as people taste in things can change as with many of us.

7. Focus on “Giving”, not taking

True meaning of any celebration is giving and togetherness of family and friendship. Make sure you focus on togetherness, by spending quality time when eating meals together, opening gifts, or singing songs. Create memories of watching movie together, or joking, decorating a tree, or whatever you want your holidays tradition to be.

You can download my ebook for FREE here: Meaningful Celebrations

Create memories, Be together with family without smothering them and you will have one joyous celebration and tradition! It is all about people.

Make Homemade Gifts From Extra Fruits

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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.

Make Citrus Salt:

Ingredients:

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.

Candied Orange Peels

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Ingredients:

3 Oragnges

2 Lemons

4 Cups of Sugar

1 Grapefruit

Recipe:

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.

Fruit Jelly:

Ingredients:

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

Coarse sugar

Cooking oil (spray)

Recipe:

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.

Enjoy.

Image source: Wikipedia

Unschooling : Method of learning

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Image source: Here

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.

unschoolingHere 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. “

If you have not read John Holt’s books, please do so, here is little information about him from wikipedia click here : John Holt.

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.

More information from other sites:

How to Unschool your child

Beginner guide to Unschooling

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?