Why you should be reading more

Reading is a hobby which allows you to cut off from the world and immerse in a new, more exciting world. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably a regular reader. People do it for enjoyment purposes or to pass their time. But do you know why reading is important? Here are the top 4 reasons why you should be reading more.

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1. Reading reduces stress
This reason is no shocker to us as many of us, including myself, retreat to reading because I was some relaxation and quiet time. This is backed up by the fact that by reading a book or newspaper for just 6 minutes can lower people’s stress level by 68%. In fact, this is more effective than going for a walk, drinking tea of coffee or listening to music.

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2. Reading improves language skills
A human development professor named Donald Bolger says that reading is like a snowball effect. The more you read, the more words you learn. And the more words you learn, the better you are at reading and comprehending.

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3. Reading can shape a person
When you read, your mind expands and takes in different aspects of reading. While reading, you experience a spectrum of emotions, and you experience it very intensely. You learn about different personalities and how they feel throughout the book, hence you become more sensitive to other people and think twice about how your actions can affect them.

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4. Reading improves focus and concentration
One of the major contributors to short attention span and poor memory is the lack of concentration and focus. If you want to improve your concentration, then you should try reading. You’d be surprised how reading just for a few minutes improves your focus throughout the day.

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DIY Mid Autumn Moon Festival Lantern

Schools these days expect kids to complete projects that are extremely difficult for their age. So, a lot of times, parents end.up.doing those or they hire someone to do it for them.

Last week, my 5 year old.daughter was asked to make a lantern for the Mid Autumn Moon Festival celebrations at her school. As the lanterns started coming in, I noticed the lanterns to be extremely compliand probably too difficult for my 5 year old tpanage even if I helped. Choosing any of those designs would have meant that in fact I would have to do most of the work. That was not something I was willing to do because I wanted my daughter to contribute in a meaningful way in this project.

A search on the internet led me to am extremely simple design which only required paper of different colors, glue stick and scissors. Thats it.

Steps to follow:

  • Take a colored piece of paper, make some design on which woud be easy to cut.

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  • Once done, roll the paper into a cylinder and stick the ends with glue stick.
  • Take another paper, draw parallel lines on it (I drew the lines) leaving a little space on both ends and cut along those lines (my daughter did all.te cutting). We also made holes using a punching machine. My daughter had a lot of fun doing this.

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  • Roll up this piece of paper on the cylinder.

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  • Cut and paste the handle to enable easy holding.

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Actually, I was quite happy with how it turned out and it only took us around half an hour to get it done.

I think I will be making more of these lanterns with the kids, especially for Eid celebrations at home.

Do try these at home with kids and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

The Easiest Vanilla Cake Recipe

So yea, I am new to baking…and cake decoration. Till now I.hav only depended on Boxed cake mixes but I feel I need to learn to make some cakes from scratch before moving on to decoration.

I opted to try our family favourite, vanilla cake, first. I tried a few different recipes of vanilla cake over the last 10 days and the following recipe turned put to be the best.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Simple Buttercream icing

Method

  1. Pre heat oven at 180 C and prepare the baking pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk and keep asida.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter till fluffy. Add sugar and mix until combined.
  4. Add eggs one by one and mix well.
  5. Add flour mixture and eggs into the butter mixture, alternatively. Combine them all properly.
  6. Add vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
  7. Pour into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (when toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  8. Let it cool for 10-15 min before covering it with simple buttercream icing.
  9. Enjoy with tea or coffee.

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The recipe is easy and fool proof. The cake came out soft and absolutely delicious. Highly recommended!

 

So I made a birthday cake…. First time ever

And surprisingly, it was edible!

I have never been a cooking and baking enthusiast. I am a stay at home mom and do all the cooking myself but kitchen is definitely not the place where I feel home.

But last week I decided to make a birthday cake myself. All I have ever done (and also messed up) is bake cakes using boxed cake mixes.

So, of course, I started with watching a million YouTube videos and seeing how complicated the whole procedure was, I decided that it would be best to keep the budget minimal (but realistic), make use of the utensils/tools I have already and buy ready made stuff as much as I can to ensure the process can be simplified as much as possible.

A day before I was supposed to have the cake ready, I decided to drop by a supermarket nearby to get the boxed cake mix. I chose chocolate because I know that chocolate hardly ever goes wrong. However, I was not able to find many other stuff which I required. I then headed off to another shop that I thought would have most of the items I required. I decided against buying expensive tools like Cake rotating stand or the cake leveler. I was just unsure how the cake would turn out and whether I would be making another cake ever in my life. But I did buy ready made fondant and some reddy made gum paste flowers.

That same day I decided to get the cake baked with the help of my kids. That was such a fun activity as the kids got to crack and eggs themselves and they helped me stir all the ingredients together.

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As I didn’t buy a spatula or a new cake pan, I just used the cake pan I already had and poured in the batter with a simple spoon. Thankfully, the cake came out perfectly.

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I left it overnight in the fridge so that I could get down to decorating it the next morning.

So next morning, after dropping off the kids to school, I took out the cake and cut it in half to put in the icing. Meanwhile, I had kept the butter outside so that it would melt. Then I made my first ever icing.

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It was actually simpler to make then I had anticipated. I put it on one layer of cake, put on the other layer and covered the whole cake with the icing.

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Next, was the turn to cover it with fondant. Now as I mentioned earlier, I had store bought fondant, which apparently I only had to roll and put it in the cake.

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I started by dusting off my counter with corn starch and started rolling the fondant.

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It was all white and a little boring and so I added just a few drops of red food color… Which turned it into pink.

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I then rolled on the fondant onto my rolling pin and stuck it onto the cake.  As my cake was not exactly high, it didn’t prove to be as difficult as I expected.

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Now I just needed to stick my decorations to the cake but I realised I didn’t know how to do so. A quick Google search helped me find out the easiest and the most economical way… Just use a little water. The kids were back from school by then and they helped (added on) with the decorations and they were quite proud of it.

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So the cake turned out OK. It didn’t look awesome but hey, it was just my first attempt. I made a few mistakes and I will be sure not to do the same in the future. Of course, next time I will try and bake the cake from scratch as well just to challenge myself a little further.

Top 10 Must Watch Kids Movies

Television has long been a source of entertainment and a way to wile the hours away. The prime objective of TV shows and movies has always been keeping the audience’s interest. But this platform has also been a strong proponent of positive messages, good vibes and lessons to learn. You and I have grown up watching some of the most classic children films and they remain to be some of the best movies of all time.

It’s not about the jaw-dropping graphics or the melodious soundtracks; it’s about the character development, the solid plotline and a positive life lesson that makes these movies stand out from the rest. While there are many titles that fit this description, here are top 10 children movies that have outshined through decades and must be watched with your kids before they turn twelve.

#1: The Lion King

Ah, who can forget this timeless Disney classic? This isn’t only a story of courage and how to fight for your people. This is a story that teaches children how to deal with loss and of course – how to put the past behind them.

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#2: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s best-selling children’s novel, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is about the adventures of an unprivileged boy into a magical chocolate factory. This movie not only keeps children entertained and humming the Oompa Loompa songs for days, but it also makes them understand the importance of humility. Charlie’s patience, humbleness and kindness brought him riches in the end unlike all the other bratty kids in the movie who met a more or less dreadful end to their chocolate factory tour.

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#3: Toy Story

Toy Story has seen many different sequels but the ’95 Disney film remains to be the best still. Toy Story is a fun concept with a strong message. Woodie’s dedication to protect his friends and Buzz’s show of courage are all inspiring themes that children are sure to pick on.

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#4: Akeelah and the Bee

This relatively contemporary movie blew up the box office charts in 2016. Akeelah, a young girl with a broken household, find an opportunity to break free from her circumstances through a Spelling Bee competition. With the help of Dr. Larabee’s coaching, Akeelah learns how she can become someone she can be proud of.

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#5: Brave

As the name implies, Brave is a story about courage and strength. Forced to marry at an early age by her parents, Meredith breaks the customs of her family tradition and pursues her passion instead – archery. Brave is a story that highlights and strengthens a mother-daughter bond and teaches both children and parents to understand the other person’s point of view.

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#6: The Iron Giant

Inspired from Ted Hughe’s award-winning novel, The Iron Giant made waves back in 1999. This story about friendship and sacrifice will leave tears in your eyes but a lesson that you will remember for years to come – a perfect kids move indeed!

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#7: Matilda

Another Roald Dahl adapted movie, Matilda narrates the story of a gifted yet misunderstood girl. Her struggles against the prejudice from her family and the cruelty of her school principal are short. Matilda soon realizes she has the power to stand up to all that don’t believe in her. This strong message of self-esteem, self-love and courage is extremely essential.

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#8: E.T the Extra-Terrestrial

This heart-wrenching timeless movie remains a favorite for many adults still. When a young boy befriends a gentle alien, new bonds are made and new adventures are embarked upon. The powerful message of sticking up for your friends is both a tear-jerker and uplifting.

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#9: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte must do everything in her power to protect her bovine friend Wilbur from getting slaughtered– even if it means constructing an elaborate spider web. Children will learn how important it is to help out those in need from this film. They will also learn the true meaning of friendship in Charlotte’s Web.

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#10: Wizard of Oz

Possibly one the most oldest and yet still one of the greatest classic children films is the Wizard of Oz. The plot follows Dorothy, a girl lost from her home because of a tornado, and her quest to return to her family. With her friends she finds embarks on the way back home but this road isn’t simple. Dorothy must act intelligently, with courage and kindness to make it through. The Wizard of Oz is truly one of the most inspiring kids’ movies of all time to date.

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Neurological disorders explained: Seizures

We’ve seen it on TV, in cartoons – characters getting sudden episodes of fits. It’s almost taken as a hilarious act in some shows but there’s honestly nothing funny about a fit.

Seizures, known by the layman as a fit or simply and episode, is a spontaneous change in the electrical conductivity in your brain that causes a sudden change in movement and behavior. In some forms of seizures, unconsciousness follows before the patient can recover.

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Seizure is a broad term; there are actually several different types of it. Most of these episodes last for only about 30 seconds to two minutes but even this short time period is a serious cause of distress for both the patient and his loved ones.

The underlying pathology of a seizure varies from what caused it in the first place. A neurological disorder, epilepsy, is the leading cause of seizures but meningitis, high-grade fever, certain medications, low sodium levels and even a striking lack of sleep can cause a seizure to occur.

It’s important to know how you need to act if you witness someone with an episode of a fit. During the attack, it’s important that you clear other people away and remove all sharp objects from the vicinity of the patient because you never know if they might lash out. It’s also important to not hold them down or try to stop the uncontrolled movements they make. Waiting is pivotal and it’s also the most hardest.

Once the episode has safely subsided, check in with the doctor. Anticonvulsants are the first line of therapy in patients with seizures along with certain lifestyle changes such as improving sleep quality, stress management and removing triggers.

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How Plastic Is Dangerous To Our Environment

“Today we use plastic- A material designed to last forever- For products designed to last minutes”

Plastic is one of the most contagious materials in the world as it cannot be biodegraded. Our lives are the put at the verge of life-threatening diseases by use of this single material. We throw plastic bottles, bag & packaging on a daily basis that are ended up in our rivers & environments hence giving an opportunity for an eruption of new diseases.

So, Have you ever thought of how plastic can ruin our lives?

Plastic – A threat to Wild Life:

This photodegradable material is not only an ultimatum for terrestrial animals but also for aquatic species.  Its exposure or consumption by animals can cause serious problems in the digestive tracts of animals. Moreover, the chemicals used to manufacture the plastic can lead to intestinal disruptions or even breathing difficulties in animals.

A source of spoiling Underground Water:

There exist landfills in almost all countries but its major drawback is that the toxic chemicals from plastic debris are absorbed in underground water. This ultimately pollutes the lakes, rivers or the adjacent water sources in the environment. Similarly, the flow of water is also disrupted that leads to various drainage problems.

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Disruption with our Food Chain:

The hazardous plastic is even consumed by the microorganisms thus disrupting their life cycles. The sea animals greatly rely on algae for their sustenance but when the microplastics are introduced in their feed, the whole food chain is destroyed & the humans are undoubtedly the biggest victims.

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Source of Toxin Carrier:

Plastic is a source of spreading the toxins everywhere. This destructive material contains toxins like BPA & other flame retardants hence posing a serious threat to pesticides that are vital for some plants. On the other hand, these toxins are absorbed by human bodies in various form that greatly disrupts the hormonal system of humans.

Lastly, the exposure to plastic is decreasing the lifespan of living beings to a great level. We should take serious measures to stop the plastic pollution for the welfare of living beings.

Do something drastic, cut the PLASTIC!