Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Save money every month


Saving for unexpected emergencies and major life changes is important, but it can be really difficult. Here’s how to get it done – quick and easy!

1. Don’t buy things you don’t need

Don’t give in to the sweets counter at the supermarket or the special on a brand of chips. Stick to your shopping list and you’ll save money in the long run.

2. Keep a record of your expenses each month

Write down everything you spend your money on for a month. Be as detailed as possible, and try not to leave out small purchases. If you see a lot of unnecessary expenses on your list, cut it down to the essentials.

3. Make a budget plan
On your budget plan, subtract your final list of expenses from your income to determine what you are able to save every month. Try to leave a little room in your budget plan for unexpected expenses such as car or household repairs.

4. Set saving goals

Determine how much you need to save, to buy a house for example, and establish a time frame. Make sure your goal is attainable within this time period.

5. Stick to your saving plan

A budget won’t do you any good if you don’t follow it and stick to your goals. Build some self-discipline and remember what you are saving for.

6. Don’t use your credit card

Without the convenience of credit cards you’ll be less inclined to spend money on unnecessary items. Using cash will make you more conscious of what you are spending your money on every month and you won’t want to constantly draw money from an ATM because of bank charges.

Saving money and reaching your goals is possible for everyone. It takes a bit of planning and a lot of discipline, but you can do it. It’s never too early to start preparing for a great future.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Chicken, leek and mushroom pie


As the weather starts to cool down, a tasty pie is exactly what your tummy needs. To make it a real "pub-style" meal serve it with chips and salad.

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks or strips
3 medium leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp of dried thyme
250ml chicken stock
1 tbsp corn flour
Salt and pepper to season
Drizzle of olive oil
1 roll of ready-made pastry

Method:

Filling:
1. Fry the chicken in a little drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat until starting to brown and then add the leek, mushrooms and thyme.
2. Add the chicken stock.
3. In a separate bowl mix the corn flour with a little water until all of the corn flour has dissolved, then add this to the chicken mixture in the pan.
4. Once the sauce has begun to thicken take off the heat.
5. Place the filling into a pie dish.

Pastry Lid:
1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
2. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the ready-made pastry approximately half a centimetre thick.
3. Lay the pastry over the pie filling, crimp the edges with your fingers and thumb or a fork and cut off any excess pastry.
4. Poke a small hole in the centre of the lid to let the steam escape.
5. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg mixed with a splash of milk and bake for about 25 minutes, or until pastry is golden.
6. Remove from the oven and let the pie rest for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, 11 April 2014

5 things to know before going into labour


Parents-to-be spend nearly 40 weeks planning for the arrival of their babies – but once the contractions start, the urge to panic can be overwhelming! Here’s a checklist of questions you should be able to answer before the big day:

1. Know what your medical aid covers

It’s important to find out in advance what your medical aid will cover relating to the birth: for example, how many nights are you allowed to stay in the hospital, and will they pay the anaesthetist if you have a epidural?

2. Know the route to the hospital

Make sure you’ve driven the route to the hospital several times so that it becomes second nature – and have a back-up plan in case of heavy traffic!

3. Have a plan for the other kids

If this isn’t your first baby, make sure you have plans for taking care of your other children. Make sure you have someone reliable and trustworthy lined up who can be called on short notice to baby-sit.

4. Have your suitcase packed

Most hospitals will supply you with a list of things to bring along for both yourself and the baby. Make sure your bag is packed a few weeks in advance, so you don’t have to worry about this if you go into labour earlier than expected.

5. Communicate your birth plan
It’s important to know what you want from your labour: Do you want access to an epidural for pain relief? Who do you want to be with you through the birth? Do you want to breastfeed immediately after delivery? Make sure you and your doctor are clear on the answers to these questions – but be flexible; in a medical emergency your doctor may have to deviate from this plan for the sake of you and your baby’s health.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dealing with unemployment


Unemployment is a scary reality, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone and that there is no shame in being unemployed. Support from your family, friends and even professional organisations will go a long way in keeping you motivated and positive.

One step at a time

• Surround yourself with positive, supportive people; talk to a mentor, counselor, religious leader, or friend when you need to regain a positive perspective, visualise yourself in your new job.
• Cut expenses as much as possible during the transition. Take a temporary position if needed; bringing in extra income not only helps financially, but it can also help you feel productive.
• Make a list of all your skills and accomplishments and remind yourself of them daily!
• Ensure your CV reflects your skills and accomplishments related to your current goals.
• Be proactive and develop a solid job-finding plan.
• Prepare a daily schedule for your job search and follow it (just as if you were working).
• Keep track of your contacts and follow up!
• Practice your interviewing skills regularly until you are happily working.

The South African job market is a tough place, and employers are obviously fussy about who they hire. There’s no recipe for coping with losing your job or finding a new one. The only thing you can do is to try and stay positive. Even if it feels like you’re fooling yourself with each new job interview, staying positive will make you easier to live with, and hopefully it will make you easier to employ.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Macaroni bake


This macaroni bake is the perfect weeknight family meal and should satisfy even the fussiest eaters.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
1kg beef mince

1 can chopped tomatoes

500ml ready-made pasta sauce

½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried parsley

500g macaroni

100g mozzarella cheese, grated


Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease an ovenproof dish.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Let it cook on a low heat for one minute. Add the dried mixed herbs and cook for another minute.
3. Add the minced beef and cook for five minutes, breaking up lumps as it cooks, until well browned. Add in the tomatoes, stir and cook for one minute.
4. Add the pasta sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for five minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sugar and dried parsley.
5. In the meantime, cook the macaroni according to packet instructions and drain well.
6. Spread half of the cooked macaroni evenly into the prepared dish. Top with half of the bolognaise sauce, then the remaining macaroni, followed by the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with some extra dried parsley. Top with grated cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top turns brown and bubbly. Serve warm.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Tuna tartlets


School is back on Monday so why not spend some time with your kids this weekend and make these delicious lunchbox treats together.

Ingredients:

200g tuna
4 eggs
100g cheese, grated
250 ml milk
30g cake flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
25ml finely chopped parsley
5ml salt
Grated cheese to sprinkle on top
Paprika
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease two muffin trays.
2. Combine the tuna, eggs, cheese, milk, flour and onion together. Season with salt and add the parsley. 
3. Spoon the mixture into the muffin trays and sprinkle each tartlet with cheese and paprika. 
4. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

How to stop fighting


Every couple experiences problems that threaten the closeness of their relationship. It’s all too easy to settle into hurtful repetitive and even predictable ways of arguing. But, couples can stop arguments if they become more aware of the triggers. They won’t necessarily settle your disputes, but they will help you to rebuild a positive and loving relationship.

Avoiding “red-flag” subjects
If talking about being overweight or a mess in the house are virtually guaranteed to start a fight, it’s wise to avoid these topics. Don't carry on about the same issues if you aren't willing to find a solution.
Know your trigger times

Arguments are seldom random or unpredictable. A fight can easily erupt when both of you are tired, stressed or feeling hassled. Identify when arguments usually happen and make adjustments.
Use humour
Many arguments can become downright silly. Humour can change the tone “I’m-right-you’re-wrong” fight. Throw in a joke about how ridiculous the argument has become and see if it lightens the mood.
Concentrate on the positives
Instead of zeroing in on what someone did wrong, pay attention to the things done well. Giving praise for even the smallest act of thoughtfulness can work wonders.
Forgive and forget

Forgiveness involves letting go of anger, restoring respect and offering acceptance. Put down the burden you’re carrying, it will free your hands and heart to keep building a fulfilling relationship.

Communication cements your relationship

Many couples do not suffer from a lack of communication. In fact, they talk to each other all the time. But communication can go wrong and end in arguments. Watch out for:
• Not saying what you really mean
• Always changing the subject
• Grumbling about minor matters instead of tackling the real problem
• Nagging
• Being a know-it-all
• Sarcastic and patronising remarks
• Always criticising


Remember that you partner is your friend and someone that you love. You don't have to agree with everything they do or say, but you should always treat them with love and respect.
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