Another Semi-Finalist: Further Investigation

My mystery novella, Further Investigation, is also a semi-finalist in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards competition! The book grew out of the research I did for My Writer’s Sampler: Exercises in Learning to Write Fiction, and apparently is strong enough to stand on its own.

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Those Predictable But Irregular Bills

Things like property tax, car registration, the half-yearly car insurance bill, holiday spending, vacations, big car repairs, replacing appliances are all things we know will happen. Because they don’t happen every month like rent/mortgage and utilities, it’s harder to plan for them.

Years ago I had a system for that. I added up all of those expenses for the year, divided by twelve, and put that much in a savings account each month. It worked very well. I never had to use credit to pay anything, and felt a certain financial serenity that was very nice.

An article in the Dollar Stretcher today informed me that that method is called a “sinking fund.” According to Dave Ramsey, this is different than an emergency fund. The items in the sinking fund aren’t unexpected emergencies, they are expected but irregular expenses. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/stop-the-panic-sinking-fund

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

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Dislike avocado? Or just want a new idea?

Avocados are a great source of potassium, fiber, essential fatty acids, and a bunch of other great stuff. But what if you don’t like the texture, or the color? What if you’d rather eat chocolate pudding? On the other hand, what if lactose intolerance bars you from enjoying pudding?

Not to worry, there’s an alternative: avocado chocolate pudding. At first, I was skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I almost let the avocado go bad before trying it. I tried it just in time.

The recipes on the internet call for things I don’t have, like coconut milk, so I just left those out. I mixed up the good part of the avocado (must be soft), 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, and a bunch of sugar, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. If you have less of a sweet tooth than I do, start with less, you can always add more. Smush it all together and add enough water to get a pudding texture.

It looked like pudding. Summoning my courage, I tasted a little. Tastes like sweet chocolate. The texture is exactly the texture of chocolate pudding. Yay!

Refrigerate for best effect.

HDMI Switcher Saves the Day

Only one of the HDMI ports on my TV works. I want to connect both cable and Roku. I thought I’d have to buy a different TV. Luckily I entered “HDMI port” in my TV search on Amazon and the first thing that came up was a “switcher.” I had never heard of this, so I Googled it and learned that it can convey input from several different sources to the TV, and it automatically displays the one that’s turned on. So for $30 I can seamlessly switch from cable to Netflix.

 

 

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Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

It’s not the Sodium, It’s the Balance

All my life I had low-normal blood pressure, except when exposed to petrochemically-based fragrances and grooming products, then it spiked. The fairly low blood pressure was fine and dandy, until I got where it wasn’t safe for me to cook anymore. I switched to frozen dinners (mainly Marie Callender’s – they don’t taste fakey like some brands). I noticed my blood pressure started running a bit high. Not horrible like the petrochemical spikes, but too high for complacency.

Prepared foods often have higher levels of sodium than scratch cooking, and high sodium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. So I Googled around and learned, or re-learned, that part of managing sodium levels is not just reducing sodium, but balancing it with potassium.

The sites I found talked about eating potassium-rich foods like peas and bananas. There’s only so many bananas and peas I’m going to realistically eat. Eating them did lower my pressure some, but not enough, and I knew I’d eventually drift away from eating that way. So I bought some potassium tablets and added them to my weekly minder pill-keeping-track-thingy.

Well, wow. Within a few days my pressure was back to my normal 117 or so over 73 or so. I think I’ll take the potassium tablets maybe five days out of seven instead of every day, because there is such as thing as TOO MUCH potassium. If you take too much it can cause irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest.

Free Book

I’ve published my first mystery novella, Further Investigation. People who have read it have surprised me with their enthusiasm. They seemed sincere, so I started writing another one. The Kindle version of Further Investigation will be free from tomorrow, the 6th, through April 10th, if you’d like to check it out.