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Friday, February 28, 2014

Does Being Busy Keep Us Away From Staying Healthy?

While having lunch earlier with some of my colleagues, we noticed there's one thing very similar with our lunches, vegetables! I, however was the only one with rice, and cooked vegetables ( though I had a small lunchbox of salad too). The rest, they either munch on vegetable salad only, or some, just really plain raw vegetables, such as raw broccoli, raw tomatoes, raw carrots, etc. We asked each other if eating vegetable was a choice for health reason, or a choice for something else. Here are the responses, and you may be surprised, the main reason is not for health. :)


A choice I grew up with. I grew up eating mostly vegetables, and I used to get sick whenever I ate anything meat except when it is fish. 
My Lunch: Bittermelon sauteed with scrambled egg and mungbean with mixed vegetables and rice

However, these days, it is a combination of: influence from my childhood diet and HAVING NO TIME to prepare gourmet food! :) LOL

Colleague 1( everything raw vegetables, no dressing at all, just raw carrots, raw broccoli, banana, etc).

A choice of HAVING NO TIME to cook. He said when you have a very busy life and hardly have time to spend in the kitchen, there are 2 choices, and they are extremes: one is unhealthy fast food and frozen instant dishes; the second one is healthy raw vegetables and fruits. He opted for the second one, and he found it to his liking. Though he said he has moderate diet, like gourmet cooking in the weekends. :) Haha! 

Colleagues 2, 3, and 4. ( vegetable salad and fruits ).

Also a choice of HAVING NO TIME to prepare foods.One is guilty however of buying ready to go salads in supermarket, hahaha! 

They however said they wanted to eat my food actually, because my food always look yummy! I have rice and cooked vegetables always, and added, "I doubt this Western diet trying to tell the world what to eat, NO carbs, NO rice, yet, look, who is the thinnest among all of us, the one who eats rice everyday! " 

Now, I am not a health professional, but my theory in foods and nutrition is, "eat a variety of foods in moderation". I know, rice and carbs are put in bad light by "health gurus", but for me, we have to listen to our body. If I skip rice for even just for a day or two, I become very weak, and tend to crave for all the unhealthy foods ( sweets, sweets, and more sweets, and fatty foods). However, if I have rice, I could keep eating all the nicest vegetables and fruits without craving for sweets, which is my weakness as I love cakes, cupcakes, milk chocolates, etc. However, as long as I have my rice and vegetables, I really don't look for sweets! Also, I am not a fan of junk food. I am not a "chip" person, I somehow just don't have a taste for them since I often find them too salty and greasy. 

Anyway, it may be a surprise for most, but actually, when you have hardly no time to prepare meals, it's easier to choose healthy foods. Being busy does not keep us away from healthy choices. Just like what my colleague #1 said, eating raw vegetables and fruits takes very little time preparing at all. Haha! I actually love eating raw vegetables too, such as raw broccoli, raw carrots, raw zucchini, tomatoes, however, they are my snacks! For my lunch and dinner, I prefer cooked. Because I prefer cooked, therefore, it is my priority when I get home to cook for dinner and lunch, and vegetables are the fastest to cook. 

Here's a typical food day for me:
My Typical Food Day

Bass Guitar Amplifier

I have very low Music Instrument Quotient (MIQ), if there is such a term. :) I guess, the reason to that is not being able to play any instrument at all. Though it does not mean I am not interested in music. In fact, music has a great role in my mental development, haha! I am one of those, especially when I was younger, who could think harder with music. I could solve very challenging problems back then when I have music, but without music, I fell asleep thinking, haha! As such, I am not always surprise to see some Math and Science people who are so passionate about music.

One of my friends who is also in the field of Math is very passionate about music. Because one of our friends is visiting the Philippines soon, he asked if we could buy for him an excellent bass guitar amps. Now, my friend and I here in SoCal have very limited idea what to look for, so, we wold communicate to him often his specific requirements. To our surprise, there are just so many types of bass guitar amps, whew! I thought before, all amplifiers could be used for any type of guitars, but then, there are actually specific amplifiers that would work for certain guitars. Thankfully, shopping for bass guitar amps is easier for us since we do not need to go from one store to another store, we shop online, and read a lot of reviews. Somehow, this process of finding one helped me also learn about some instruments used in playing guitar. I just hope our friend will like it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kitchen Bay Window Gardening

My Potted Garden By the Kitchen Bay Window

If there is one thing I love other than enjoying the great outdoors, is bringing nature at home. Gardening is a great therapy for me. I find great relaxation in looking at my plants, how they grow, multiply and thrive. I don't only enjoy plants outside of our home, I bring them inside our house too. After all, plants inside the house do not serve only an aesthetic purpose, but also serves to purify our air helping us maintain our good health. Aside from purifying the air, I also have some of my favorite herbs by the bay window. I love it that I do not have to go out to get some leaves when I need them, they are within reach in the kitchen. :) Very relaxing to the eyes, very convenient when cooking, and they add some good nutrients to our food too.

Right now, it seems I have so many ideas in my mind, of making my own wooden pots which I believe would make the kitchen look more of Earth, haha, or greener. :) How I wish I have my own lathe for turning machines so I can make my own design of well carved earthen and wooden pots. Hmmm, whenever this kind of idea comes to mind, I can't help but be thankful that there are so many things in life we could really apply ourselves in, adopt as hobby, and not be bored with the passing time. :)

Life..... IS VERY GOOD! Thank you God for this gift of wonderful life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

OOTD (4th in series): Pink at Valentine's

February 14 is not always a holiday for us, it just coincided with our school district holiday, in celebration of President Lincoln's birthday. Because we have Friday off, we took advantage by having teachers date in the morning. :) That made me have 2 Valentine dates actually. :) In the morning, with a fellow teacher friend, and in the afternoon, with hubby.

Here was my Valentine morning OOTD for teachers day out :)

I took the picture above with a tripod before I left home for my V-date at Old Town San Diego. It was more of catching up date. We simply took a short walk at Old Town, then, had a very long lunch, because of "tsika-tsika", haha! Or chit chat.
pics from our short walk at Old Town San Diego

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ways to Make Your Home Feel More Clean

Having a clean house is important to keep your home an inviting place where you like to spend your time. Keeping a clean home means having things put away, and removing dust, dirt and grime. It also means doing an occasional deep clean and ensuring that even the parts of the home that you don’t see are well-maintained.

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To help ensure your home is clean (and feels clean) here are a few key tips to consider:

  • Have your carpets cleaned professionally. 

No matter how well you vacuum your carpets, dirt and dust mites can get lodged deep down in the fibers and you won’t be able to get them out. Stains, spills, pet accidents and other incidents can also cause visible messes and dirt deep down underneath the carpet fibers. The best way to deal with dirty carpets and to make them as good-as-new again is to bring in a professional cleaning company. Chem-Dry helps to ensure your carpets truly are clean by using a natural solution and less water. This means you don’t have to worry about chemicals from the cleaning process and you don’t have to worry about mold and mildew forming as your carpets take days to dry.

  • Have your ducts cleaned

Every time you turn the heat, air conditioning or fan on in your home, the air that you breathe moves through the duct work in your house.  If the ducts are dirty, then this dirt comes out in the vents and is in the air that you end up breathing in.  Dirty ducts can cause respiratory problems and can also make your house much less clean as the dust and grime settles on different surfaces.
The EPA advises duct cleaning by a professional in cases where there is visible mold growth inside hard surfaces of the heating and cooling system; when the ducts are infested with rodents, insects or other vermin; or when the ducts have become clogged with excessive amounts of debris and dust such that particles are being released out through the supply registers in your home.
Of course, you don’t have to let conditions get that dire before getting your ducts cleaned. This is just something you may want to do periodically so that your home is as clean as it can be.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Building Credit Score

at St. Mary's Cathedral, New Haven, CT eight years ago ( 11 years ago)

Flashback eight years ago  (this was first published 2011, it's now 2014, so, flashback 11 years ago)....I was barely a year in US, living in a place all by myself with weather so opposite than my country of origin, Philippines. Behind the smiles were tears of homesickness that I felt no one then clearly understood. 

I would spend hours in the cell phone talking to some of my friends in California or back home in the  Philippines sharing how I wanted to go back home and give up the life I found in US. 

For my family and friends in California, having gone through the same struggles when they started in US, their words of comfort were: 
" Give it another year or two, Betch, if you can. It's very hard, but you won't be giving yourself a chance to really find your place and heart here if you decide this early when your heart is still clouded by homesickness. If after a year or two, you still feel the same, then, it's about time to listen to that feelings of going back to the life you left in Philippines." 

For my  friends back in the Philippines, the words were:  
"If you go back, the person who took your job will lose hers. Think of it this way Betch, you being there helps a lot here! Not that we do not want you here, we do,we really do, and we miss you too! I know, it is your right to go back, I would be happy too because I would have my best buddy back, but just opening up to you the reality of how someone will lose a job that she picked when you left, because it will be yours again. Also, why would you go back, so many wanted to be in your shoes, of getting a professional job in US?" 

I cannot blame my friends back home, for I too, thought initially life in US was a bed of roses; maybe it is, complete with THORNS and not just the rosy petals

On my second visit to US, my plan was to find a job in the gold coast of California, to enjoy a balance of waves, nature and city.  BUT with only a tourist visa on hand, looking for a job in academe in CA was very competitive. Why would they hire me when I needed sponsorship to work legally? Fate brought me to Connecticut ( CT ). I came to CT without knowing a single soul. Unless, you would count the academic director and some of the teaching staffs I met during the interview process. Very thankful for their kindness of welcoming me despite my visa status and sponsored me ( or petitioned me to teach ) to live and work legally in US. Very thankful also for their time showing me around CT, MA and NY. 
at Central Park, New York, eight years ago  ( 11 years ago)
@ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, eight years ago ( 11 years ago)

But then, just like most other new immigrants, homesickness and some reality bites got in the way despite being surrounded by super supportive colleagues. 

Reality Bite #1:

After I spent a month vacation in US, when I went back to Philippines, I carried out plans to try my luck the second time I come to US for visit because I fell in love with the lifestyle that I observed in the coastal side of California. I wished to be like other people who takes a breather almost each day from work to jump into the ocean. Though I came from a country surrounded by oceans, but we do have to travel far from the city of work to enjoy a pristine beach, and oftentimes, they were expensive because they are in a resort where we had to pay. Since a kid, I always was drawn to the sea, but sadly, most work are in the cities that are not too close to a pristine sea for relaxation. Ocean relaxation then was a luxury. Observing the lifestyle in California, I started dreaming about enjoying the ocean after work as part of daily regular life, not as luxury. And where nature is not too distant and walled off from the city. 

I accepted the job in CT because it was close to the ocean. I thought then I could live anywhere in the world as long as I am close to the ocean. I enjoyed my first few months in Connecticut because there was the sea and the people enjoying the sea! I was enjoying my dreams, that is, to not wait for a vacation to go to the sea! After work, I could collect shells, sea glass, play in the sand and the surf. I felt I was in heaven.
Happy Times in CT

But homesickness started creeping in at winter. The waves closer to the shore were frozen and the beach abandoned. I started missing home. My colleagues and students described me "willfully crazy" for still going out in heavy snow ( just running and going to the lake and ocean ), for them, it's a time to stay home. But where was home? I was alone! I felt too sick when I would have to stay home because of no-school snow days. Despite the cold, I stayed out long by the ocean just so I could stare and listen to the waves. As the waves crashed on shore, so my tears flowed endlessly, praying fervently for God to lead me the way. I was there, right in front of the sea, I wanted to be in it, but I couldn't, for no one else was there at the freezing cold and abandoned beach but the "willfully crazy" me! 

I was thinking: "If people who were born here could not even stand the cold to enjoy the ocean and outdoors this time of the year, why then am I fighting it here? I want to continue to enjoy the ocean and outdoors all year round. It may be expensive when I was in Philippines, because I had to take a vacation to enjoy pristine sea, but at least, I could enjoy it anytime of the year, from sun up to sun down." 

It was not the life I dreamed to live and wished to exchange with what I have in Philippines.

Reality Bite #2:

Another reality that bit me was I had to pay $500 rent for a bedroom because I could not get an apartment of my own at that time because I had NO CREDIT HISTORY. A one bedroom apartment in CT that time ( 11 years ago ) would only cost me $600-$700, just $100-$200 more than the bedroom I was renting.  I disliked renting room terribly because I felt like I did not have my own privacy, and I disliked having to follow household rules of others, and I was not as free to cook. I wanted badly to have my own apartment, but I could not! :( The issue was not about the cost, but about my credit history. When I applied to rent an apartment where I would have my own kitchen, living room, etc, I was outright denied by the apartment complex after they have checked my free credit score online. Those days, what did I know about credit scores? I HAD ZERO credit score, was the reason given to me why they cannot trust me as tenant. 

How can I build my credit history? 

Obviously, by opening a credit. 

But how can I open a credit?

If you have a good credit score! 

DUH! My biggest challenge then was, how can I open up a credit when I have no credit history? How can I slowly build my credit score when no bank would let me open a credit? A colleague helped me start building my credit score by applying for mobile subscription where she was my guarantor, and applying for small bank "cooperative" type of credit card where again, she was my guarantor. 

There was one myth from others who loved to give this "newbie" financial advises on building credit score that I did not follow. They said to never pay my credit card balance in full because that will not raise my credit score because I won't have credit. I did not listen. There is NO WAY I will let the bank earn money from me through interest. For me, my account would still have activity every month since I will use my card to buy necessities such as grocery and other needs and wants, but will not buy anything that I can not pay in FULL after the billing cycle. I believe credit card is a means to save money , not as as a headache paying unnecessary interests. I probably need another post why credit card could save you money if you are good and disciplined in spending and not put any debt in it. Credit does not mean to be "in debt", but simply, being able to purchase and pay them off right away. I set my credit card account to automatically withdraw from my bank the full balance each billing cycle so that I won't pay for any penalty and I do not have to worry about forgetting the due date. 

I also did not listen to the encouragement of others to apply for many credit cards as possible to raise my credit score. I simply do not believe in it and I just could not take having too many plastic cards to carry. I believe if the bank sees you have too many loans and credit and can hardly pay them because there is always balance left, they won't trust you are capable of paying and not gain a good credit score. 

Thankfully, my own judgment work. After a year, I already had very good credit history, haha! Now, building credit score is no longer my concern. But once a while, I do check my free credit score online just so I know that the product of my hard work is kept and no identity theft is abusing it.  


I live the dreams that motivated me to try my luck in US after my first vacation: that is to be one with the ocean after work, to enjoy the balance of nature and city, where a get-away to nature is not a luxury but part of daily life. Where the waves closer to the shore are not frozen, and the sands not abandoned. 

~originally published November, 2011~

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cactus Dish Garden

Cactus Dish Garden

What do I do with some of our dishes that got some scratches? Instead of throwing them away, I made dish garden out of them. And I love looking at them, haha, gardening, is very therapeutic, plus, of course, the little dish garden can be inside home or outside. Wherever it may be, it does not fail to beautify the place. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

OOTD (3rd in series ): Blue....Then and Now....All Seasons

Summer 2011

The dress above is one of my favorite casual dresses for wandering, everywhere! I love it because it is so easy to put on, haha! I do not have to worry about buckling a belt, buttons, zipper, etc. In short, it is just so perfect for me, who frankly speaking, spends very little time dressing up. I am a very low maintenance type of gal both by choice and circumstance. I wake up 5:30 am in the morning on weekdays to take shower and have a quick breakfast. By 6:00 am, I am gone for work! No make up, no lipstick, just facial and lip moisturizer and press powder! I guess, no choice when you have so limited time. Don't ask me to wake up at 5:00 am or 4:30 am just to put make-up, I can't sacrifice my 8-hrs of sleep. :)

Because I am used to waking up early on weekdays, and keep my 8-hrs of sleep almost everyday, I wake up early on weekends too. That way, I and hubby have longer time to enjoy the outdoors! Sleeping early to have full 7-8 hours of sleep is what gives hubby and I full energy to enjoy a balance life enjoying the outdoors, work, errands and household chores.

This OOTD post is "blue-inspired" by Zen of The Letters of November, who featured "pink-inspired" post in her OOTD series. Honestly, though I love blue, but I wasn't into wearing blue outfits before, until, I met Zen whose love for blue is very contagious, that I started buying anything blue as well, because it reminds me of our "color coded" friendship, haha! I am pink, Zen is blue. :)

Blue OOTD.....Then, August 2011

Left-over Soup :)

Our Left-over Soup

Being just the two of us at home, it can't be avoided to have left-over rice a lot of the times. What do I do with it? I make left-over soup. :) The above left over soup has left-over rice and left-over vegetable dumpling. I used chicken stock to make left-over soup and added some vegetables, and a lot of pepper. :) Haha! Somehow, I love spicy hot soup for cold weather. :) 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bittermelon and Mixed Vegetable Dinner

DINNER PLATE: rice, sauteed bittermelon with scrambled egg, and mixed vegetable with bittermelon and mung bean ( monggo )

Bittermelon, anyone? Bittermelon is my all time favorite vegetable, haha, I know, others find it bitter and could not take it, but it is actually the bitterness of bittermelon that I love. I love this vegetable for taste, but its health benefits are surely a BONUS!!

What are the health benefits of bittermelon? Let me count the ways......

Nutritional Value (per 100 g serving) : 44 kcal, 5.6 g protein, 290 mg calcium, 5 mg iron, 5.1 mg vitamin A, 170 mg vitamin C

"Bitter Melons are rich in iron. They have twice the beta carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, and contain Vitamins A, C, B1 to B3, Phosphorus and good dietary fiber. In traditional Chinese medicine, Bitter melon is used as an appetite stimulant and as a treatment for gastrointestinal infection and against breast cancer. Bitter Melon may prove to be a very effective herbal remedy against diabetes! " - http://bittermelon.org/heal/nutritionalqualities

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Leisure Spending Grows Alongside Your Family

Couples get used to entertainment expenses reflecting good times at moderate prices.  But adding a couple children to the mix skews the leisure budget - sometimes beyond affordability.  Entertaining family members of different ages is difficult enough, creating challenges among parents seeking family harmony.  But the landscape is rougher-still, when times are tight and entertainment budgets are slim.

Movie admissions, travel expenses, meals out, and other leisure spending are multiplied by each family member - every time you gather as a complete family unit.  The expense is simply too much for some families to sustain, so creative low-budget entertainment alternatives are explored by cash-strapped parents.
The bigger your family is, the higher the tab, so it pays to lay down some fundamental leisure rules, before spending gets out of hand.  A payday loan could take the pressure off parents by providing additional funds to allow for some family fun activities. Going back to basics, embracing free family fun times, creates bonding opportunities and keeps families close, without ruining the household budget.

Tap free Resources for Family Entertainment

You are not alone in your quest for low cost family distractions; countless families have come before you with similar entertainment needs.  Fortunately, the information age brings video and other entertainment to your doorstep, through internet connections and television subscriptions, but local libraries are still in place to serve similar needs.

Videos, music and books issued by public libraries are cost-free, and provide excuses for fun family outings to the library.  There is something available for every age group, so the library lends itself to families - even parents, who enjoy the distraction too.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

San Diego Shopping (1): Fashion Valley Mall

Fashion Valley Mall is one of the many shopping malls in and around San Diego. This is one of my 3 favorite malls/store here in San Diego. The two others are UTC mall and REI store.  Maybe I am a loyalist, that when I need something to buy, I just go to Fashion Valley Mall or UTC Mall for my work, professional and casual needs. Or I just go to REI for my outdoor needs.

In this post, I will bring you to one of these 3, the Fashion Valley Mall. I'll bring you there only through pictures I took with my cell phone. We won't be shopping, promise. :) I have nothing in mind to buy right now, and I am afraid I can't be your partner in shopping since I honestly get bored so quickly shopping. Also, I have no idea what is the latest trend in fashion since I hardly look at any fashion mag nor watch TV! I go according to my accepted styles.
Simply Me, According to My Life-"style"

I am also a very careful shopper, haha! I have no problems with impulse buying, because again, if it is not in line with my life-"style", I won't get it!  I shop only when I really have something in mind to buy.  

Now, let us go back to Fashion Valley Mall which has many shops and stores, from $$$$$ to $. I go here whenever it's "me" time.

All the pictures in this post were taken by my trusted cell phone, :), and I took the pictures while pretending I was simply texting or busy with my cell phone, in short, not very obvious that I was taking pictures.   

I usually start/end my Fashion Valley shopping from the west side. 

What you'll see first in this side are Cheesecake Factory, P. F. Changs, and True Food Kitchen. I don't know why these restaurants greet shoppers first, I guess their strategy to lure shoppers to eat. :)  The most visible store in this side is Bloomingdale's.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guide to caravan batteries

It probably has to be admitted that the caravan battery isn’t typically considered to be one of the more glamorous aspects of discussions of caravanning as a leisure activity.

However, it will certainly become the focus of all conversation in the event it becomes sulky and refuses to work. Sitting in the dark in your caravan is unlikely to be a pleasurable experience - even for the most dedicated caravanners!

What does a battery do?
At the outset, it’s important to recognise that what follows contains a number of generalisations.  Some caravan manufacturers might do things a little differently to others but even so, the chances are that your caravan obtains its power through the following process:
  • you have what amounts to a 12 volt battery that delivers electricity to many of your electrical appliances around your caravan;
  • that in turn is recharged by the unimaginatively-titled recharger, that usually sits hidden away somewhere in the back of one of the storage units;
  • the recharger takes mains electricity, when connected and delivers a voltage-reduced flow into the battery to recharge it. In that sense, it is partly charger and part voltage transformer.
So, if that’s all there is to it, what can go wrong?

Problems with the battery

There might be any number of reasons why a battery will stop taking a recharge. Fluid levels may fall, deposits might accrue to the plates inhibiting the electro-chemical processes involved in recharging or natural wear and corrosion may occur simply due to age.

If you are interested in the chemistry and other sciences behind such processes, you will be able to find in-depth explanations* on the internet.

In fact, just as is the case with the traditional automobile, the knee-jerk reaction of many to such problems is simply to throw their battery out (or hopefully in this day and age, recycle) and replace it with a new one.
In some cases that may be justified but in other cases it might be a pity and an unnecessary expense, given that there may be nothing at all wrong with your battery.

Problems with the recharger

In theory, the recharger is a very simple and straightforward device that should never go wrong.  However, if it does, then clearly the battery is not likely to be getting recharged or at least not recharged in the optimum fashion.

Now if you think there can surely only be one way to recharge the battery, you’d be wrong.
In fact, the optimum voltage required by a battery in order to minimise corrosion and furring (i.e. wear and tear) may vary depending upon the charge level state of the battery at the time you are trying to recharge it. Basically, a battery that is almost flat following excessive use over time may require higher initial voltage charge levels to that of a battery which has only used perhaps say only 20% of its stored charge at the time the recharge is applied.

That is not an easy concept to explain simply and concisely in a few words and it is made even more complicated by the fact that there are different types of batteries including conventional lead-acid and gel models.

Suffice it to say that the voltage of the charge delivered to a battery by the recharger should, in ideal circumstances, vary depending upon how much charge the battery is holding at the time the recharge starts and the type of battery it is.

Once again, if you’d like to see more of the physics and mathematics involved in that, you can find them readily available on various internet sites.**

Dish Inspired From Big Sur's Lucia Lodge

View from Lucia Lodge, Big Sur, CA

During our stay at Lucia Lodge in Big Sur, aside from the inspiring views, I also could not forget one of the dishes that we had there for dinner. That was seafood pasta with baby broccoli. At that time, I never had baby broccoli yet, the first time I took a taste, it was just AWESOME! I had to ask the waitress for the name of the vegetable, and she told me, "kale", haha! I was confused because I had too many kales, and they did not look at all like that. However, I search in the supermarkets, and found out, it was baby broccoli, which I saw from Trader Joe. Since then, I had been enjoying baby broccoli, in addition to many other vegetables that I love. 

Here is our dinner for tonight, inspired from that dish from Lucia Lodge. I had sea food penne pasta, with baby broccoli. I am again, in vegetable and sea food heaven! :)

Baby Broccoli and Sea food Penne Pasta

Each time I make this dish, I close my eyes, and I feel like, I am in Big Sur again! Ahhh, I love Big Sur, and I miss it big time too. :) Now, if only we could retire there, but thankfully, it is mostly a preserved area. One thing I am thankful with California, is the preservation of some lands, to keep the beauty and natural resources as it was almost hundreds of years ago. A beauty that looks so distant, but truth is, just between two California big cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

View from Lucia Lodge, Big Sur, CA

Thankfully, the memories of Big Sur will always live with me, each time, I have "baby broccoli!" Haha! 

What are the Most Common Reasons People Get Into Debt?

As of 2014, total US consumer debt is $11.4 trillion. That number includes student loans, auto loans, mortgages and credit cards. In terms of the last item on that list, the average credit card debt for a US household is $15,000. With that much debt, there's no question that this is a significant and widespread problem. Because of the prevalence of debt, it's hard to spend much time online or watching TV without being exposed to multiple advertisements that promise to get you out of debt.

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While there's no shortage of programs and tools aimed at people who want to take control of their debt, most aren't long-term solutions. The reason those options have more in common with quickie diets than they do with any type of real answer is because they don't get to the root of the problem. If you can't clearly identify why you're in debt, even successfully paying it down isn't a guarantee that you won't slip back into your old ways.

If you want to take control of your debt once and for all, the first step you need to take is identifying why you're in this position. And although everyone faces unique challenges in their lives, there's enough data about this issue to identify the most prominent reasons that people have debt hanging over their head. So by taking the time to read and reflect on the following list, you should be able to identify the one or two main causes of your own financial challenges:

Your Money Seems to Disappear

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