Sunday, March 26, 2017

Goodbye Cable, Hello Big Savings!

We cut cable about a year ago and don't miss a thing.   We still get to watch all our shows. Want to know how?

Here's what we did:  -attic antenna with connection to dedicated cable connection in the wall - this was a bit of work but you could always hire a handy man to install it for you. (~$100 one time cost)-hdhomerun device plugs into attic antenna and home router which broadcast free channels to your home network. Streams live tv to 2 tvs at one time.  (~$100 one time cost)
-Hulu $10 a month optional

Check out their site for more details:
They also offer DVR for $60 a year subscription.   We haven't tried this yet but probably will.   This allows you to pause and rewind live TV.
-Fire TV device or similar type device including xbox and apple TV. (~$100 one time cost for each TV)-Free hd home run app (available in device app store) picks up this signal.  We get 39 free channels. Some are in 480p but all major networks are in 1080p
-slingtv $25 a month during football season optional 
-Netflix $8 a month optional

For All The Dog Lovers Out There

Hi, my name is Sadie and I am 10 years old.   This blog is all about me and my health journey!   I was grunting when I laid down.   My mom thought it was arthritis so she changed my diet and now I don't grunt anymore!   Yeah!   Now I no longer eat the rubbery dog food that I loved instead I eat only my dry food with homemade bone broth twice a day.   I get 1/4 cup of this yummy broth twice a day and I love it.

How does my mom make my broth?

She saves the bones from the meals my family eats and stores them in the freezer until she has a big batch ready to cook.   Then, she puts the bones in her pressure cooker and adds 2 onions cut in half, 2 T apple cider vinegar (to pull minerals from bones), 4 large carrots, some dried parsley, 3 stalks celery, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp garlic powder, ground black pepper and 3/4 pot full of water.  She cooks the bones for 120 minutes to pull all the minerals and good stuff out of them.    Boy does it smell good when it is cooking!   I know that smell and I get excited to drink up that yummy broth when it is done.   After cooking, she strains the vegetables off the broth and cools the broth in the refrigerator overnight.    The next day she skips the fat off the top of the broth and puts 1 cup of broth in sandwich baggies.   She separates each baggy with freezer paper and puts several bags in a larger freezer bag and in the freezer they go.    I have my own jar in the refrigerator just for my broth.  When I run out, she just pulls a frozen bag out of the freezer for the next day.   

She also uses this for any recipe that calls for beef or chicken broth so they get all the good benefits too!   My fur is so soft now.   I am a new healthier dog.    This may sound like a lot of work but I am worth it!   My mom sure does love me. =)

Why is Bone Broth so great for you and dogs?   Check out this article to read all of the great benefits:

Woof - gotta go chase some birds out back.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Saving on the Cost of College Tuition

I have talked to quite a few people about college tuition, scholarships, etc. and have found most people are not aware of a lot of ways to reduce the cost of college tuition.   While I don't intend to share the normal tips that you have probably heard, I am focusing on some things you might not have considered and were definitely not shared by my daughters' high school counselors and teachers.   I hope you find this information helpful.

Start the process the moment your kid is enrolled in their first high school credit course (probably in middle school).

1.   Get the Highest possible GPA and SAT/ACT Scores possible.

Colleges are basically buying your kid's SAT scores and GPA to raise their national rankings.  The higher their numbers, the better chances they have at getting a scholarship.   Some colleges like the University of Mississippi clearly outline what numbers they require and how much money they give you for those scores/GPA.   Check college scholarship pages for this information for the colleges they are applying to.

Most colleges will super score GPA scores for admittance but not for scholarships.   A super score is where they take the highest math score and the highest reading score from each test.

Your kid can take the SAT or ACT as many times as they like but keep in mind that the best time to start taking these test is right after they complete Algebra II or close to completing it as this is the highest level of math on the tests.   Many kids will take this class in their freshman or sophomore years.   By the time they are juniors or seniors, they have forgotten a lot of this lower math.

Colleges will take the highest score for scholarship and admitance.

The SAT prep classes are worth it if they can improve your kids scores.   I would try this one but can't vouch for it because we didn't use it and they one my daughter took actually lower her score so I can't vouch for that one.  - don't use this one.   Didn't help. - this guy was on SharkTank and I wish we would have tried this first.   It is self paced and on line so it is more convenient.

Make sure your kid gets the highest SAT as possible during high school.   Drop any high school credit classes from middle school below an A because they average those classes together and even if they got a B it will pull down their average.   This will mean that they will have to repeat these classes though in high school which means they will probably do well because it will be a refresher class.   Or make sure they get A's in these classes.   

I recommend that at least have a 3.5 GPA as that seems to be the threshold for additional scholarship money.   But again, look into the college scholarship pages early to see what the offer.

2.   Apply early!

Start touring colleges in the sophomore and junior years so as soon as senior year starts, your kid can start applying.

Apply to all schools starting the beginning of the senior year as long as they are not committed to that school.   Understand the differences between early decision and early action.  These are best explained here:

Be sure to check each college's policies before applying.   

Try to visit schools that they are interested in to determine if they even want to apply.   Be sure to investigate off campus housing as most schools really don't focus on this and they will be spending most of their time off campus versus in the dorm.  There is no sense wasting money on the application fees for schools that your kids won't want to attend keeping in mind they need to apply to some safety schools.

It is recommended that they apply to 7-10 colleges.

The early bird gets the money!   Complete the FAFSA on the first day it opens.   Many schools commit their scholarship money to the first applicants.   The quicker you apply, the better off you will be.

Check the deadlines for housing, etc.   Some colleges will have housing application deadlines prior to regular admission notifications.   Be aware of these!

3.  Academic Common Market Majors for Out of State Schools

Leverage majoring in Academic Common Market majors for out of state schools.

This program is for 15 states from Maryland to Texas excluding North Carolina.   The Academic Common Market is a tuition-savings program for college students in 15 SREB states, who want to pursue degrees that are not offered by their in-state institutions. Students can enroll in out-of-state institutions that offer their degree program and pay the institution’s in-state tuition rates. More than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate programs are available.

You can check each college to see what majors they offer in state rates for based on your state of residence.

Your kid may only apply for one school and one major per year.   

Compare the major class requirements for ACM majors with major class requirements for other majors your kid may be interested in.   Your kid may be able to take advantage of this program for one or more years depending on the similarities in the majors and then switch in later years.   Most majors require the same basic classes for freshman and even sophomore years.   Even if your kid can only participate 1 year, that can be significant savings.

4.  Take dual enrollment or community college courses instead of AP classes while in high school.

I don't like AP classes because the ability to transfer these classes to colleges vary sideline and are all based on the test and not the grade received in the class.   

Some colleges don't take all AP classes either so if they take this, make sure the colleges they plan on applying to will take them.

I think the dual enrollment and community college courses are a better route because as long as your kid receives a C in the class, they will transfer to the college your kid plans on attending.

Consider having your kid take at least 5 of these classes to eliminate a semester in college.  Keep in mind that a full year high school dual enrollment class will count for 2 classes in college.

This can be a significant saving as well because you can eliminate one semester of tuition, food, books, etc. and possibly sublease their room.

5.  Start college essays during Junior Year

Start looking for other scholarships to apply to during Junior year and begin writing the essays that they require before the hectic senior starts.   This way when the application opens, it is a cut and paste. 

Most scholarships are offered for freshman and the number offered later years are significantly less so plan accordingly.   There is a lot of work to be done the senior year of high school.

6.  Finish in 4 years or less

Make sure you road map out how many classes and which classes are required to graduate on time.   Many colleges don't require guidance to register for classes beyond the freshman year and students often get behind by not taking enough or the right classes.  This can be quite challenging for some reasons for some kids.  I know you don't want to baby them, but when it affects your wallet, you have no choice!

In senior years, colleges often only offer classes during fall or spring semesters.   Make sure they utilize the advisors to prevent these pit falls.

Good luck!

Paleo - AIP Waffles with Berry Syrup

For those of you who are just starting out on Paleo and are in the elimination phase, you know how difficult it is to find breakfast options.   This one is a winner!

Sugar-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Nut-Free

Makes 2 servings 
Pre-Heat Waffle Iron

Mix dry ingredients and then add in wet  (hand whisk is fine)

1/3 C Tapioca Flour
1/3 C Water Chestnut Flour
3 T Coconut Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 Palm Shortening Melted
1/4 Tsp of Liquid Stevia
2/3 C Full Fat Coconut Milk

Spray waffle iron with coconut oil spray or brush any allowed oil with brush between waffles.
I cook mine for about 4.5 minutes and use a belgium waffle iron.

For each waffle, put 1/2-3/4 C of blueberries or blackberries in a glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high.   Pour cooked berries on top of waffle as your syrup.

You can use ghee also if you like.

Sweet Blessings my Paleo friends!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Paleo - Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

I absolutely love these muffins and hope these hit the spot for yummy breakfast muffins for my Paleo friends.  Honestly, these are delicious even if you aren't Paleo.
You won't know these are grain , dairy and egg free!!!!

Makes 12 muffins.
Preheat oven to 350. 

Mix all the ingredients below in a high powered blender (Vitamix) until smooth:  
2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cups tapioca flour
2 eggs or egg substitute 
1/4 cup water chestnut flour (found at the Asian market)
1/2 cup almond milk or other non dairy milk
1/2 tsp of salt
1/3 cup maple syrup 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Fill silicone muffin cups 1/4 way full full.

Mix 2 tsp of cinnamon and 3 Tbs of coconut sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over each muffin cup.

Full each muffin cup with remaining batter.

Mix these ingredients in a small bowl:
1/4 cup coconut sugar 
1 Tbs almond flour
1 Tbs tapioca flour
1 Tbs of melted coconut oil
Dash of salt

Sprinkle this mixture over muffins

Bake for 35 minutes.

Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin cups.

I really recommend using silicone bakeware for Paleo cooking.   For reasons, baked goods cook more evenly in these.

Who Doesn't Like a Good Deal? - Things I buy at the Dollar Tree

(Disclosure:  I am not compensated in anyway by the websites or products I recommend.  They get free advertisement for having a good product that I personally endorse.)

So a few years back, I revamped my grocery shopping habits and one of the habits that has really stuck is shopping at the Dollar Tree regularly.

I figure I save probably about a dollar or more on everything I buy at the "tree" so if I buy 20 items that is $20 a visit or about $40 a month or $480 a year!

Here are the things I buy regularly:

-Make Up Removal Wipes
-Dental Picks
-Mouth Wash
-Retainer Cleaner (Denture Cleaner)
-Cotton Balls
-Fingernail Polish Remover
-Body Wash (for the girls - I use Joanne's homemade soap from Whole Foods)
-Snacks (even though I don't buy these too much anymore now on paleo I used to buy these a lot).
-Candy, Gum (ditto above)
-Baggies - sandwich and quart sizes (I buy the gallon freezer bags from Walmart)
-Mouthwash plastic cups
-Disposable plastic cups
-food storage containers
-measuring cups and other kitchen things as needed
-AAA, AA and 9 volt batteries (better ones)
-Wrapping paper
-mailing tape
-school and office supplies like pens and pencils, etc.
-padded mail envelopes
-large mail envelopes
-puzzles and puzzle books
-gain detergent (more about this in a latter post)
-dishwasher pods (generic ones 10 for $1)
-Various food items - like minced garlic and pink himalayan salt and pepper mills
-party supplies
-seasonal items for college kid packages

I am sure this isn't an exhausted list but you get the idea.   Next time you go in there take a look around and try some items you buy at grocery stores and other places.  Even if something doesn't end up being good, you are only out $1.

Happy Shopping!