Is a Pre-Paid Cell Phone Right for You ?

If you are anything like me, you have sat there staring at your cell phone bill wondering where the money goes every month and marveling how it manages to creep up over time. You’ve probably also thought about: switching carriers, plans, or looking at a pre-paid cell phone. Today we’ll take a deeper dive into that last point to see if that pre-paid cell phone you have been thinking of makes sense for you, or anyone in your family (Spoiler: for perhaps 15% of us it makes a lot of sense).

If you meet the following criteria, switching from a classic contract or post-paid phone with one of the big 3 carriers to a pre-paid cell phone will prove a good option:

– If you are a light user of your phone. Classic plans get cheaper at the unit level as usage goes up so heavier users benefit form being on a contract.
– If you are an inconsistent user of your phone. What is the point in paying for 500 minutes a month is one month you use 500 and the next you use 75 – and don’t be fooled by “roll over minutes” almost none of those get used, they aren’t giving you anything.
– If data is no big deal to you. Classic postpaid cell phone plans are the better option for heavy data users.
– If you want to make sure you absolutely never get hit with an overage. Or to control your child’s usage of a phone.
– If you do not use your phone for work.

What is above sounds like a pretty big group but in reality it is a small portion of the general cell phone using populous, but if you fit into that group the switch to a pre-paid cell phone is absolutely the way to go.

The 3-in-1 Multi-Cooker – Your Kitchen Needs One.

This has rapidly become my new favorite tool in the kitchen, why it took until now to really reach the market is beyond me. The 3-in-1 multi-cooker is the very logical evolution of three very similar tools. This gadget combines the slow cooking of a crock pot – with high heat sauté settings and steam setting for things like rice. It immediately eliminates the need for a rice cooker saving you space in the kitchen. From there the sauté settings give you expanded cooking flexibility for those busy holiday gatherings. Sear, Brown, Sauté, Steam, Stew – this does it all.

My favorite of these that I have tested is the: Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker. It is well priced at roughly $125 depending on the store and does everything you could ask of it, there are more expensive versions out there ranging well north of $250 but for the combination of features and cost this is the right multi-cooker. As far as draw-backs? The insert is Teflon covered aluminum which does have some downsides like scratching and wear of the coating. It also has advantages, specifically that it is much lighter and easier to handle and clean than the heavier ceramic inserts. The unit could also use a retractable cord, at nearly 4 feet long the cord is just hanging out on the counter waiting to be yanked by a passing toddler.

This is a classic winner of a tool for us at LifeHomeLiving – it serves multiple purposes, is affordable compared to buying each tool separately, it saves you space in the kitchen and gives you more flexibility when you need it. As I said above it is really surprising it took until 2016/2017 for these multi-cookers to really take off.

Happy cooking to you from the LHL Team.

Becoming a Better Cook – The Knives You Need

Good sharp knives are the at foundation of good cooking and equipping your kitchen with them will help you become a better cook. Sharp consistent knives promote better knife skills, promote more even chopping and cutting meaning fewer small burned pieces or larger undercooked checks of ingredients. Now doubt all of us recall Cutco knives from high school or the late night stuff of infomercials pushed by the likes of Billy Mays – we are not here to talk about those types of knives. Real chefs knives are rarely sold by late night pitchmen or door-to-door salesmen.

About Knives:

Knives do however range in cost and construction type. We’ll follow up with some recommendations for the begging cook in another post but lets first talk about how the knives are made. There are 2 primary methods of construction – Stamped or Forged. Stamped are cut from a sheet of metal and sharpened. Stamped knives are general cheaper, flimsier, and will not stay sharp for as long. They are though not without merit. Certainly if you are on a budget or looking for a lighter weight tool stamped is the way to go. Just make sure you buy a good electric sharpener with the knife to keep that edge up. Forged knives are lifelong tools, they are heavier, sturdier and more effectively built. That also means they cost more and weigh more – both consideration for the user. My preference is for the later as over time that cost to purchase becomes pretty irrelevant, I’ve owned my forged Henkles chef’s knife for 20 years and it is still good as new after a sharpening.

The Knives You Need:

Let me be clear I like gear especially sharp stabby things like these, I enjoy the thought, construction, and the craftsmanship that goes into tools. You do not under any circumstance need the 20 odd knives I have, you do however need 3 or 4 staples. Those staples are as follows:

– A chef’s knife. This is the most important knife you’ll buy spend the most money on it, care for it carefully and as Anthony Bourdain advises “get the biggest one you can handle” for most people this means a 7, 8, or 9 inch chef’s knife. I’d also recommend going with a forged product here.
– A paring knife. These are short typically in the 3-4 inch ranch and you can get by with stamped or ceramic here, these are typically used for cleaning and cutting things like fruit and veg.
– A serrated knife. Used for slicing things like bread, and roasted meats, this tool is less often used but still a staple in the kitchen.
– A boning knife. It is for what the name implies cutting around bones, for this reason the knife is actually designed to flex – but cheeping out here isn’t a great idea, boning can be dangerous work and the slip of a cheap dull knife could be a cut of your finger.

Now that we have talked about the who/what/where/how of knives we will follow on with some

The Top 10 Baby Names for 2016

In a year that saw a lot of upheaval in a lot of places the list of Top 10 Baby Names for 2016 was not one of them. Once again Jackson for boys and Sophia for girls took home the top honors as the most popular baby names of 2016. The other top baby names were:

Top 10 Baby Names for Girls:
1.) Sophia
2.) Emma
3.) Olivia
4.) Ava
5.) Mia
6.) Isabelle
7.) Riley
8.) Aria (like the casino?)
9.) Zoe
10.) Charlotte

Top 10 Baby Names for Boys:
1.) Jackson
2.) Aiden
3.) Lucas
4.) Liam
5.) Noah
6.) Ethan
7.) Mason
8.) Caden
9.) Oliver
10.) Elijah

This list originally popped up on Babycenter.com and is from self reported data so it might not be the most comprehensive list out there – but if you want to wait for the official list it wont be here until roughly this time next year. So until there you have the Top 10 Baby Names for 2016.

The most recent list of cancelled TV shows

Today we got the semi-regular list of major shows that have been renewed, end or cancelled on TV (and now on streaming services like Netflix!). The full list of both renewed and/or cancelled TV shows is running on MSN.com right now but here are some of the biggest names we’ll be losing to cancellation:

Duck Dynasty – After 11 seasons and a couple controversies the beards and bandanas are leaving the small screen.

Workaholics – After 7 seasons on Comedy Central this one is done.

Braindead & American Gothic – Each made it only 1 season on CBS before joining the ranks of cancelled TV shows.

Murder in the first – dead after three seasons on TNT.

Aquarius – Even David Duchovny could save their show from cancellation after 2 years on NBC.

Mistresses – is headed for divorce from ABC after 4 seasons.

Pretty Little Liars – Ending after its seventh season on the renamed “freeform” network.

Grimm – heading into syndication after 6 seasons on NBC.

I Am Cait – Canceled after two seasons and a bunch of hype on E!

So those are the big ones that are going away this season, which cancelled TV shows will you miss the most?