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Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 life lessons I wished I had learned earlier

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
-George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1910)

No one is born with all knowledge, we all learn various things through out of life journey. Our first learning is through our parents, then teachers, our friends, our neighbors, co-workers, relatives, or some of even learn through other people’s success or failures from history.

Best way we learn thing is by doing; by practicing until we get it right. We learn from our own past behaviors and experience. Some times we make mistakes and keep correcting our ways until we get it right. Mistakes are not bad things, as long as we learn from it. It is human thing to make mistakes and I am very human, because I have made many mistakes and making some right now too. Only thing is I may not know it.

However, here are few lessons I wished I had learned it sooner. If I had, my life would have been more balanced sooner. I would be living much more zen life that much earlier. I know I still have a long ways to go and learn more lessons in the life. Life is a journey through living and learning.

1. Only person you can change is yourself.
I had tried in past to change behavior of my friends, or family members based on what I thought was proper ways to do things. However, in end it did not work. We are all ready to change when we want change ourselves. Need and desire for change has to come from within. Without it, no matter how good and convincing thought is, people will not change until they want to change themselves.

Click here to read rest of the article here: 10 life lessons I wished I had Learned Earlier

No Spend Month Challenge

I did no spend month challenge 2 years in row, once I succeeded and other time I failed. Here is my first year's month end recap and what lessons I learned:

Now that August is here, here is a recap of our No Spend Month Challenge with its final update and lessons and take away from this No Spend experiment:
This July we did No Spend Month experiment to see if our family of four, living in Northern California can survive with only $300: For groceries, eating out, cleaning, gardening supply, entertainment (books, movies, etc), Gas for cars, Any repairs, clothing and accessories and other items.

31 days

4 people


To see recap on what is No Spend month and with Monday’s weekly updates on how we did, check out the posts below for more details.
No Spend Moth Challenge: Introduction $0
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1 Money Spent 1st week: $104.73
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 Money Spent 2nd week: $33.72
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3 Money spent 3rd week: $97.15
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4 Money spent4th week: $18.50

Click here to read rest of the story: No Spend month challenge take away and lessons learned

Learning From History

I wrote about learning from history (3 part series) and you will see part of here why learning from history is cool.

This is a third part of series on why it is cool to learn from history. Here we will take a light hearted look at history with famous saying quotes from wise and famous people from our past. Hope you enjoy it.
Click now to read Why learning from history is cool : Part 1
Click now to read Why learning from history is cool : Part 2
Quotes on history

Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything.  You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.  ~Michael Crichton
We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry, because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre.  ~Dick Gregory
History is herstory, too. (His-Story is Her-story too) ~Author Unknown
History is a cyclic poem written by Time upon the memories of man.  ~Percy Bysshe Shelley
If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.  ~Pearl Buck
History is philosophy teaching by examples.  ~Thucydides,

Click here to read rest of the article here: Why learning from history is cool

Great Classics that everyone should read before they die

Reading is one of my passion and I am a bookworm since I was a child. You could always find me nook or any corner immersed in a book, forgetting to eat, play or be social. Now, I do not get a chance to indulge reading hours like I used to, I still read books every free chance I get. I have written and talked about my love book reading and benefits of reading in 101 changes series, before but this time I sharing my favorite books that I love and I hope you like it too. There are several benefits to reading and there are many fun kids books that we should read once.

Here are some of my favorite books that I have read at least once, and a few others books, again and again. There are so many wonderful writers, so little time. :-) I have written mini review about the book without giving too much away about the story, hope you get to read some of it.

Note: There are still many more great books I have read and loved but article’s length is over 4700 words there, I guess there have to be part 2! Let me know, books you loved or any that I might have missed here. 

1. Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen is master of romance and her era, she knew people and their psychology very well. If you love classic and hopeless romantic, this story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett will have a hold on you. One of my favorite book by my favorite author. (Amazon)

2. Leave It to Psmith
Leave it to Psmith By P. G. Wodehouse is classic about a debononair young Englishman, Psmith (P is silent), who wants to quit his fish business and decide to support himself by being hired by anyone as long it is nothing to do with fish. The story has romance, suspense, humor and witty dialogue. Lesser known than Jeeves but this story is one of the best. (Amzn.)

Click here to read rest of story here: Greatest classics everyone should read once.

Benefit of Tea Drinking

As you know, I love chai, specially made by Zenguy at home, here are some great benefit of drinking tea, some you may be surprised.

Tea has been around for many centuries around world and loved in countries like China, India, England and other places. Tea drinking has been always connected with well-being, restoration, and regeneration of cells. Many people are just starting the see and feel the benefits of drinking tea. Drinking tea has been linked to fighting cavities to Parkinson’s disease. After all, we all got only one body and one life and health is true wealth.
In India, where I am from, it is a custom to drink tea for breakfast and one in afternoon after nap (Yes, adults take naps too, although India is changing fast to become more like western world). Many of us in America, are drinking coffee and soda with meals. While there is nothing wrong with it, tea drinking has many more benefits, let’s explore more.
Zenguy makes a best chai, if you like to know how to make best chai at home you can click here : How to make best chai tea at home post.
  1. Less Caffeine than Coffee: While I love my coffee occasionally, tea has far less caffeine in it. Coffee has usually two or three times more caffeine than tea. Little caffeine is okay and might be beneficial but too much caffeine can harm our heart and body organs. Drinking too much coffee can give you jittery feeling, headaches and sleeplessness compared to drinking tea.
  2. Tea has Antioxidant benefits: Many of us are aware of antioxidants can help us in slowing down the aging process, and regenerate and repair our body cells. Some studies shows that antioxidants can prevent cancer as well. Well, give me a cup right now!

Click here to read rest of tea drink to your health benefits, you will be happy to be chai-tea drinker!

How to make Best Chai Tea at home

Every Chai recipe varies from person to person, but a few thing is common in making Chai are Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom. You too can make it at home as it is simple and easy enough to make it. Generally Chai is drank hot and with savory snacks like fried fritters like Pakora or Samosa.
Yes, you can buyChai-Tea mixes to make it home or drink it in Starbucks or Other Places, but nothing beats home made chai! Zenguy makes a awesome Chai, as I have written about it before. Tea is regular for morning and afternoon tea in India.

Zenguy’s Chai Recipe

  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger paste
  • 1 stick Cinnamon Or Cinnamon Powder
  • 6 pods Cardamom
  • 8 Fresh mint leaves
  • Darjeeling or Black Tea Loose (not tea bags)
  • 1 cup of Soymilk or milk
  • Vegan Sugar as needed (You can use regular sugar as well)
Click here to read how to make zenguy's best chai-tea recipe for free here.

How to find peace in your life

Many of our life can be chaotic and stressful at the time. There is a saying: “when it rains, it pours!” and “Misery Loves company”. I am having share of my life issues at the moment that I feel overwhelm despite trying to live calm and simple life. I am sure many of us, have been in situation like this once in our life, sometimes more. I have written about finding ways out of overwhelm and simplifying life before.

Today I want to share how to find peace, with noise and chaos around us and still function. While, I am going through this phase, these quotes have helped me and inspired me and I am sure it will inspire and motivate you as well. We can not change certain aspects of our life but we can change our attitude towards it for positive and upbeat outlook!

You may also like 5 peace books everyone should read once here.

Resource Books to Find Peace in Your Life:

Finding Peace By Jean Vanier: One of our deepest human desires and needs is to live in peace. We all yearn for peace, but what is it exactly? How do we find it, and how can we bring peace to our lives and our communities? Jean Vanier reflects on recent world events, identifying the sources of conflict and fear within and among individuals, communities, and nations that thwart us in our quest for peace.

21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness: Overcoming Anxiety, Fear, and Discontentment Every Day by Joyce Meyer: In today’s world, peace is hard to come by. When personal desires are followed, serenity is forfeited. By submitting one’s life to God, a peace-filled life is ensured.

Famous Peace Quotes: Finding Peace 

A smile is the beginning of peace.
- Mother Teresa

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are nourished.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

End each day with thoughts of peace.  Begin each day with
thoughts of peace.  Continue thinking thoughts of peace
throughout your precious day and happiness will be yours.

Read more quotes : Finding Peace in Your life quotes here.


Benefits of Being Vegetarian

Many people are turning vegetarian for various reasons now a days, such as health and ethical reasons. I have been vegetarian all my life, so it is easy for me to say but do not take my word for it.  If you have thought about vegetarian diet and was not sure, this may just help you make decision.  Being vegetarian or eat mostly vegetarian diet has many benefits.
Let’s see 25 reasons being vegetarian is good for you and environment around you. While all diets have its pros and cons. One can eat soda and chips all day and be a Vegetarian but that would not be healthy diet.

Benefits of Vegetarian Diet

  1. Plant base food does not contain cholesterol. Meat food are generally high in cholesterol.
  2. Except of vitamin B, plant food contains all vitamins.
  3. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, improving digestion in body. High fiber diet is helpful in preventing certain type of cancer.
  4. Lower blood pressure: Plant based food have low sodium and low in fat, reducing low blood pressure and blood circulation.
Click here to read rest of Benefits of Being Vegetarian here.

Barefoot Running: Fad or Great?

Barefoot Shoes
I like to walk bare foot on soft grass around my house, and have walked barefoot in garden often time, but sometime going barefoot, means getting splinters or hurt where there are thorns or pebbles around. The very first time I heard about barefoot shoes was last year sometime on one of my favorite blog Zen Habits, that I started following before even I had a blog along with a few others. Like Leo, I am a parent, and believe in simplifying, minimizing and decluttering stuff and not buying un-necessary stuff. One of the caveat when you stay home with kids and homeschool is we are living simplified life if not minimalist life. Health is important part of simplifying life to the best for all of us. I think, I was always frugal but learned lot more about simplicity to make living in reduced income comfortably so I can stay home with my little ones.

While I am working on finding harmony in many things in my life such as financial, health and fitness, relationship with people I care for, I find ways to achieve health and fitness in a simple ways such as walking, dancing and running after kids. Sometimes that is enough, and other times I think I need more push. So, when I read  Barefoot Philosophy post from Leo on Zenhabits, I was intrigued with a concept of  Vibram FiveFinger shoes as I love to walk barefeet often moist grass in my garden during morning. With the Vibram, I can almost go anywhere and have benefit of open free barefeet feeling. The only issue was that cost of Vibram Fivefinger, so I decided to dig further to research and find out more and share it here just in case if any of you are in same boat as I am. In recent times, shoes price have dropped to bit reasonable compared to when it was new!

Click here to see detailed analysis of vibram fivefinger shoes review and see if that is right for you?

How to Boost your happiness

Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.  ~Cynthia Nelms

Fact: We all want to be happy and live Happy Life

We all go through phases where we are happy and when we are sad. Most of the time, we get sad because our expectations did not match the reality of outcomes or somehow something felt short. While, some serious sadness that comes with uncontrollable circumstances, we can do a few simple and easy happiness booster, that will surprise you. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself.

Simple Happiness Boosters:

Here are few simple and easy way to change your mood. No, it will not cure your money problems, world peace or cure for cancer. However, still you will feel lot better and happier. I know because I have tried it out first before writing it here, and I am your average person just like you, who gets happy and sad in daily life.

1. Get Sunshine

I grew up part of my life in Seattle, so believe me I like cloudy and rainy weather. It makes me feel like breaking in song and dance routine like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain (even when I know I can not dance!).

Click here to read original article: Simple ways to boost your happiness

How to Get Rid Of Mice Naturally

Do You have a Mouse in a House?

Have you seen a mouse up close? When you are least expecting it? It happened to me once, as I was cleaning out a shelf in my garage, something black and furry jumped over me. I was startled and screamed like any girl would do. That was small tiny mouse, who hid behind the shelf quickly. That was the first time I ever saw a mouse up close. For days, I thought he (don’t ask me why, I thought mouse was “he”) stayed in the garage but one day, and I thought of my self kind enough to co-exist as long he stayed in the garage and did not bother me or kids inside the house.
One day, I saw a mouse running behind sofa in the living room and then I saw another in the kitchen. So, I knew I had two mice at least. I thought it was okay if they stayed in garage, but not inside the house as I am so scared of mice and cockroaches. But once they moved in the house and started running around my counter and behind the shelf, I was out of my wits. I had to found some solution fast with compassion.

I found a few ways to get rid of mouse from house naturally: Click here to read Natural ways to get rid of mouse from the house.

Ramen Noddle Hacks : Make Gourmet Meals Out Ramen Noodle

As we are doing no spend month challenge, I am looking for ways to eat cheaply without losing quality of food and health. Many of the cheap food will include rice, beans, and also instant ramen noodles. Eating while saving money, does not have be dull and boring, otherwise we will not continue to save or eat healthy food. While, I have tried some ramen noodle hacks successfully and some not so successfully in kitchen, here are some of them that I have tried successfully by myself or learned from other creative cooks. Hope you enjoy it.

Ramen Noodles History:

Instant noodle were first marketed in Taiwan, which was under Japanese regime in late 1950s.In early 1970′s Japanese Company called Nissin introduced “cup Noodles”, which you can still buy at grocery store, which comes in waterproof Styrofoam cup, and all one has to add is boiled or warm water for noodles to be cooked and ready to eat in no time.
Instant noodle is one of the major inexpensive food, eaten in many countries, specially popular with not so rich, college students who can eat cheap and quickly make these noodles for their busy college life. There has been said, that about 95 billion people in world eat some type of instant noodles. Top Noodle consuming countries are China, Indonesia, Japan, and south Koreans along with many South Asian Countries such as India too.
Instant noodle have been criticized for low protein, vitamins and fiber while being rich in carbohydrates. One can add fibrous veggies with vitamins to make it much rich and healthy in nutrients.

Click here to read more of Upgrading inexpensive ramen noodle into Gourmet Meals

8 kids books that everyone should read

Out of many passions of mine, one of the strong love I have is for reading. I love classics, new best sellers, fiction and non fiction types of books to keep learning and be entertained at the same time. Over 2600 words to share my passion on reading, that too kid’s books but I am sure you will find something fun and educational in the process! Check out great classic books to read, and benefits of reading posts.
When I was younger (ahem, in college years),  I did not wanted to read certain books that I felt were kiddish or for teens only and I felt similar way for certain cartoon movies for me. Since then I have learned to enjoy and be educated by some of the “kiddish” books that many adults will like too. Here are some great example that kids(teens) and adults will love to read!

Click here to read 8 kids books that everyone should read

Simplifying Christmas and Gift Giving

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.

Click here to read article: Simplifying Christmas and Giftgiving

Top Peace Books To Read

For all of our lives, we feel something is missing and we chase our dream to make money, fall in love, get a college education, get married, buy house, have kids and so on and yet something remains unfulfilled in many people. That something is peace or we can say mental peace that comes with time.

What Does Peace Mean to You?

Peace is kind of inner sense calm where nothing from outwardly bothers you and you are at peace with your self and world. Peaceful heart should be free from worries, jealousy and boosting. It is inner calm and balance where nothing is overly sad or overly happy. That is what it means to me, while I am long way from achieving this feat, I am trying.
When I gave up my six figure job over 7 years ago, I had thought it was a beginning of my journey to find meaningful purpose and peace within myself. I have read many books, visited websites, attended a few talks and I found some great gems and some that were not worth my time.

Click here to read: Top 5 Must Read Peace Books

Fun Holiday Movies

Christmas Tradition

I am sure many of you celebrating Christmas or any holidays have some type of tradition to share with family and friends. These beautiful traditions are wonderful as they pass from generation to generation and hold family like a glue.
I love watching “It is a Wonderful Life” Movie by James Stewart and Donna Reed anytime but during Christmas time it is a perfect for making a tradition.. It is such a uplifting movie that brings more holiday cheer and positive feelings around.
That got me thinking what other Christmas movies are great to watch and thought of sharing some of my favorite movies here. Here are some of my picks

To view post go best holiday movies to watch for everyone