Top Five New Year’s Resolutions and How to Keep Them

2012 raced through and before you know it, it’s 2013! Before you begin the arduous task of remembering to write “2013” in the date instead of 2012, there is the matter of New Year’s resolutions. This is an annual tradition that some are better at than others, but that’s not to say this year isn’t your year! Here are the top five most common resolutions courtesy of Time magazine, along with some handy tips on keeping them.

1.Lose weight and get fit. It’s at the top of the list for many after a silly season of delicious baking and baked ham. Gyms and fitness clubs know this, and take advantage by offering cheap deals. However often these annual memberships only get used for a month or so, which makes it a very expensive month at the gym.

How can I keep it? Get it out of the way! It should be your first activity of the day, and therefore you won’t be able to make any excuses after work such as being too tired, or having plans. Not only will you feel more energised for the rest of the day, studies indicate exercising right before sleeping can actually interfere with your sleeping patterns. Routine is also important. If you tell yourself these are the days you exercise and treat it as a given (and not an option), you are much more likely to keep to your new regime. Remember it takes about 66 days of regular exercise to form a habit.

2. Quit smoking. As more information emerges about the damage smoking does to our bodies, now is as good a time as any to quit the sticks. It takes a massive amount of willpower to overcome an addiction however, which is why only 15% of people who quit smoking are still cigarette-free six months later. It’s a surprising statistic, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t be one of the 15%!

How can I keep it? Luckily New Zealand has a whole range of free and low-cost support services available. Call Quitline or visit their website to find out the different options. It’s also a good idea to rally a support group of friends and family around you to help you quit. Also try and keep busy, anything that takes your mind off smoking is a bonus!

3. Learn something new. This is a very broad resolution, and so easier to keep that some of the others. The most common thing that holds people back from achieving this is time. However you don’t have to practice for hours become a professional at it, as long as you’re moving forward, you’re winning! Even half an hour a week is a great start to learning a new skill.

How can I keep it? Choose something you’re truly interested in! Don’t learn French just because you feel you should know another language, and don’t learn chess if it bores you silly. Do you scroll through Pinterest for hours at a time, but all the craft ideas are too much to handle? Why not focus on one area, such as knitting or painting. Don’t try and do it all at once! Trying to find time? If you are learning a language, why not get an audio CD and listen to it in the car while on the way to work? Want to expand your cooking skills but the kids are a handful? Incorporate them into your cooking lesson. You never know, they might just end up doing the cooking for dinner.

4. Eat healthier. This often goes hand-in-hand with resolution number 1, getting fit and losing weight. Especially when Christmas has just been with many lunches and dinners, all bursting with a bounty of food, it can be hard to remind yourself you can’t eat like that all the time.

How can I keep it? While there are fad diets a dime-a-dozen out there, you should remember there are no quick fixes. You should be aiming to create a healthy diet that you can you can adhere to for the rest of your life, while not feeling like you are constantly ‘missing out’. Don’t think of eating healthy as a ‘diet’, as this will just give a negative slant to your new, healthy eating plan. Try to incorporate more vegetable and fruit into your diet slowly while cutting out some sugar and fat. It will eventually become a habit and you won’t even notice the change.

5. Get out of debt and save money. Some of us can go overboard with the holiday season, and spend money on gifts, food, decorations and holidays that we can’t really afford. Unfortunately this follows us straight into the new year, but the good news is you can do something about it.

How can I keep it? There is plenty of good financial advice out there. A good government-run website is Sorted which has handy tips, facts, and financial calculators that will put you on the right path. Want to save? Why not create an automatic payment for each pay check, that diverts a set amount of money into a savings account. If this happens on the same day, you won’t even notice the money going out!

Bonus: Here is a great article by LifeHacker on forming good habits. A must read when keeping your resolutions. Click here to read.


DIY Candle Tutorial

Making personalized candles using the tissue paper method is a very popular method and easy to do. Below are the guidelines to personalize your candle for home decoration or gift etc. Be creative!

Transferring Ink to Candles


  • Tissue paper
  • printer paper
  • wax paper
  • markers
  • tape
  • heat gun or hairdryer (hairdryer is recommended, so you do not have to buy a heat gun)

First, you tape a piece of tissue paper, about the size of the candle, to a piece of copy paper.  Markers will bleed through the tissue paper pretty easily so you will need something to protect your table, and it was easier for the you/kids to draw on the tissue paper when taped to the “paper”.


Then cut out a piece of wax paper bigger than your candle.  You need it to go all the way around and give you some extra to hold on to for the next step.  Smooth it out nicely, and pull it tight over the tissue paper.


The following step is use your heat gun or hair dryer, turn it on and use a back and forth motion over the design, about 30 to 40 seconds.  Be careful when you are doing this step because it will get pretty hot on your fingers, you just keep moving it and actually turned the hair dryer off for a second or two to cool down then back again.

After that time, gently pull away the wax paper and your design should be transferred to the candle, the tissue paper pretty much disappears.


Tadaa, a simple DIY craft is done.

Transfer a photo onto the candle

Now you can decorate the candle further if you wish. Cut out tissue paper to fit on a sheet of printer paper, smoothed it out and put a little tape on all sides to hold it in place. Then you feed it into the printer.


Follow the rest of the directions for the transfer.


See on the left side how the wax paper is a little wrinkled so pull it tighter before you started the hair dryer.


And you are done!

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Handy Microwave Recipes

Most people spend about one third of their household budget on convenience foods such as takeaway and supermarket ready-to-eat meals due busy lives and less time on their hands. Sometimes you don’t have the energy to cook every night. There are also more people living solo, who often don’t want to cook just for themselves. However, convenience foods are expensive and some are high in fat and salt. If you lack the time or motivation to cook, the following recipes may be helpful because these are very easy recipes that utilize your handy-dandy microwave.

Breakfast- Flax “noatmeal”

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Breakfast. Flax “noatmeal” topped with some banana slices and coconut milk. “Noatmeal” recipe:

  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg yolk or egg white (if you make 2 servings, use a whole egg)
  • 2 tbsp dried fruit (opt)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 dropper vanilla stevia OR 1/4 tsp vanilla & sweetener

Microwave everything for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until thick and resembles oatmeal. Top with favorite toppings and nosh!

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Lunch- Summer Squash Casserole

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Amy Burke


  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup soft, fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Combine squash and green onions in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, folding back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes or until squash is tender. (Do not drain.)
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in squash mixture and cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap, folding back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 10 minutes or until casserole is set; remove from microwave, and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter; microwave 2 minutes. Sprinkle over casserole.

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Dinner- Shrimp Etouffee

Recipe makes 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) cancondensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pound cleaned shrimp
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. In a 2 quart microwave safe dish, combine margarine, onion, green onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery. Heat on High settings for 8 to 9 minutes.
  2. Stir in parsley, tomato paste, soup, shrimp, salt, hot pepper sauce and cayenne. Heat on High setting for 5 minutes. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Serve over white rice.

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Dessert- Salted Caramel Chocolate Mug Cake

Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake 013 533x800 2 Minute Chocolate & Salted Caramel Mug Cake

Ingredients: {makes 1 mug cake}

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 salted caramels

What to do:

  1. Into a small bowl add: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix to combine.
  2. Pour mixture into a regular sized coffee mug. Drop caramels into center of mixture one at a time.
  3. Microwave on high for one minute and 30 seconds. If needed {if cake batter is still gooey}, microwave on high for up to an additional 30 seconds.

P/S: I personally tried this recipe, it is delicious and easy. It perfectly fixed my craving.

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Snack- Popcorn

Movie Night! Save your money and make your own popcorn instead of buying from supermarket.

Microwave Popcorn Trick #popcorn

Add 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to a brown paper bag, fold the bag over twice then heat in a microwave — folded side down — for 2 minutes.

THAT’S IT! Fresh popped popcorn without any fuss, ready for you to flavor as desired or eat completely bare.

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Do not under estimate your microwave’s ability, it can make scrumptious meals, snacks or desserts you didn’t think was possible!

Want to know more?

Go to our Pinterest site for more recipes.

Money-Saving Tips For Around The Home

Have you already squeezed every last penny out of your budget? Check out these great tips we’ve found from all over.

  1. Utilize your microwave at home instead of your range because it consumes half the power. You could save up $40 or more per year on electric or gas. Plus, get your dinner ready in a fraction of the time.  
  2. Compare prices for everything from light fixtures to fridges. A quick web search using phrases such as “buy vacuum online” or “lowest price microwave” can easily show you a range of prices.
  3. When you are dealing a remodel project for temporary which leaves you without a cooking area, set up a makeshift kitchen. All you need is a prep surface, micro-wave, coffeemaker, and fridge. You will be able to save $20 per day on take-out and Starbucks coffee.
  4. Small amounts of electricity are still being used even if the appliances are off, but plugged in. Unplug items such as toaster, shaver, cell phone charger, TV when not in use.
  5. Warm up with big warm blankets on ourselves. Instead of turning on the electric blanket or room heater on cold winter nights, use a few layers of blankets to ensure you stay warm and cozy.
  6. A way to avoid the cafes and don’t burn your pockets by using your talents and do something enjoyable for your family that also saves money such as cooking, baking, sewing and other fun crafts.
  7. To save on electricity by reducing ironing time. When ironing lay a layer of aluminium foil shiny side up under your ironing board cover to reflect heat back up onto the item.
  8. Use toothpaste as a cleanser, it is a useful domestic cleanser. It will remove brown sticky stains from irons, bench tops etc. Hence, buying cleanser from supermarket is not necessary.
  9. To remove stubborn burns and stains on pots, boil the pots with water and once the water is boiling hot, turn off the stove and use a wooden spatula to scrape the stains off. This will save your money from buying cleanser.
  10. Maintain the life of clothes and energy by not using the clothes dryer unless you absolutely have to. There really isn’t a need to use a dryer. Hang your clothes on a drying rack, place near heater or air vent.

Bonus tip: It is always good to plan your shopping before your take any action to make purchase especially what are all the things you “need” to buy and the“budget”. If you are going to shop without a plan definitely you will think to buy whatever you like which is also know as impulse buying. That’s really a bad habit which can quickly kill your financial situation.