Life Hacks

Thursday

A Mortgage Calculator, A Move and A New Adventure!

­čĆíToday's post is sponsored by Mortage Calculator UK

It's been a very busy few months for me. Actually, that's an understatement! It's been quite adventurous, to say the least!

Over the Summer I listed my home in Ontario for sale and in less than two months had moved across the country to PEI. The move was both exciting and scary as there were so many variables to consider and prepare for. 

As this was not my first time buying or selling, I did have some tools in my repertoire that helped to make the process smooth. Aside from pairing yourself with a great Realtor, a mortgage calculator is incredibly important to utilize.
Mortgage Calculator UK

Mortgage calculators like Mortage Calculator UK will help you figure out how to make your budget work when house hunting. Do you have to use one to purchase a home? No, but without one, you could be lacking a proper understanding of your financial capabilities and that could very well be a downfall.

So what is a mortgage calculator exactly?

A mortgage calculator helps estimate your monthly payment due along with other financial costs associated with home ownership. There are options to include overpayments (to pay off your debt quicker) as well as learn about amortization and a remortgage calculator. 

This particular calculator is mainly intended for use by UK residents. Take a look at the payment calculator. This handy tool helps calculate what you can afford based on your income, with both high and low-end options.

Over the last few years, the needs of home buyers have really changed. I noticed this myself while on the hunt for a new home. I had to consider the needs of myself, my husband, and our son - three very different personalities with some very specific wants in a new home. Those wants and needs for us included a home office, game room, and a large open-concept kitchen.

I needed to find a home that we could afford but one that also suited our individual tastes and needs. This is where a mortgage calculator is so helpful! Using one allowed us to pinpoint a max home price we could make work all the while setting the right plan in place to pay off our debt sooner than later.

I'm a big planner and seeing the monthly payments BEFORE purchasing a home really put my mind at ease. It also allowed me to make room in the budget for things you need when traveling by car for a move across the country - like hotel stays in multiple Provinces, gas, and new furniture.

Have YOU used a mortgage calculator when buying a home? 
Let me know in the comments.

Sunday

Gaming To Escape

Like a lot of people, I have found myself playing online games more and more over the last few years. I find gaming to be a wonderful escape from the stress that sometimes comes with needing to live life gluten-free. It's also a great way to take a break from social media and just have some unapologetic fun. While I don't consider myself a superstar gamer by any means, I love to pass the time with a good online game.

If you like casual games that are free to play and don't require pestering friends to water your crops or send you gifts to level up, well I have a site for you! The website is Solitaire.org and it's full of a variety of games...not just Solitaire!


One of my go-to games to play is Battleships Armada. I've loved the game Battleship since I was a kid. In this version, you can choose between three levels and even adjust the sound. I really like it because it's not a long drawn-out version of the game. It's simple, to the point, and fun to play.



Another game I have a blast playing is Tetra Blocks, which also takes me back to my childhood. Am I dating myself yet? There's something about this game that just ropes me in - I could play it forever and I would not be bored. Like Battleship Armada, Tetra Blocks is very easy to play (depending on the level chosen of course) and a lot of fun.



I've been really into hidden object games as of late and the below game is just an example of the variety of this game type available on the site. Garden Secrets Hidden Objects is pretty fun. Especially if you enjoy being a sleuth and are patient. To be honest the hidden object games are right up my alley - I love searching for them and let me tell you it's not always as easy as it looks! It feels pretty rewarding to find all of the objects before the time runs out. There's even the option to click for clues if you're struggling. I try not to utilize that option though and I feel pretty darn proud of myself when I'm successful all on my own!
 



Aside from the fantastic variety of games (seriously, there's so much!) on Solitaire.org the music which plays along with the games is incredibly calm and relaxing. This is a big deal to me because let's be honest, if you're looking to wind down after a busy day or stressful situation buzzy carnival sounding music is not going to be helpful. The music on Solitair.org games is almost Zen-like and a love it!

 The website gets bonus points for not having those annoying pop-up ads all over the place AND for not having in-game ads that no doubt would take away from the chill experience.

Do YOU like to game? What are your favorites?

Thursday

Easy Gluten-Free Black Forest Cake

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support.

I have been wanting Black Forrest cake for what seems like FOREVER. It was a favourite of mine when I was growing up before I was diagnosed with Celiac. To put things in perspective, I have been navigating the gluten-free waters for well over ten years now. Enjoying some black forest cake, gluten-free of course has been long overdue.

Chocolate Cupcakes


What's a girl to do when she can't find a ready-made gluten-free version of her most favourite cake?! 


Make It At Home

Don't worry I am by no means a super amazing baker, which means you can totally pull this off too! Short-cuts and hacks are my best friends in the kitchen and I used a couple in this recipe.

You Won't Believe How Easy This Is


Seriously, it's a piece of cake.

All you need for the cupcakes is a boxed gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I used Betty Crocker because I love how moist and fluffy the final product turns out. But, you can use any boxed mix which you prefer. 


Ingredients

Chocolate Cake Mix

Whipping Cream
Sugar
Vanilla Extract
Maraschino Cherries
Chocolate Sprinkles
Red Sugar Crystals


Homemade Whipped Cream 

1 1/2 cup Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp Sugar 
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Place above ingredients for homemade whipped cream in a large bowl. Stir to combine. That's it for now, but ensuring everything is cold is super important. 
Place the beaters from a hand mixer in the bowl and cover with saran wrap. 
Put bowl, in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Once chilled, beat with hand mixer until stiff peaks form.


Whipped Cream
Stiff Peaks

*Follow directions on chocolate cake mix box to make the cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes come out of the oven and cool, they are ready to be transformed. 


First up - deconstructed black forest cake... a trifle of sorts. 

To do this, I cut a cupcake into four layers. I then alternated between the following components:
cupcake slice
whipped cream
chocolate sprinkles 
red sugar crystals
maraschino cherries

Chocolate Cupcake


For my more traditional cupcakes, I used the OXO 1261080BK GG Cupcake Corer. It literally cores your cupcakes with little to no effort at all, leaving room for a surprise filling. Once I had created room for a filling, it was time to assemble. In the cupcakes vacant centre, I layered the whipped cream, maraschino cherries, chocolate sprinkles and red sugar crystals. The top of the cupcakes a capped off with a swirl of whipped cream, sprinkles, and sugar crystals. A single maraschino cherry completes this sweet treat.



Valentines Day Dessert
Just Look At That Goodness 


Have you created anything inspired by a favourite dessert? Let me know below.




Friday

Toaster Bags


Toaster bags are such a neat little invention. Although I don't use them in my own home as we have a separate toaster oven for all things Gluten Free, I would grab a set to take on vacation with me. Heck, they are probably good to keep on hand along with mini jams (GF ones of course) for those all too common occasions where you are headed somewhere which may not have "safe" options.


Where can you get them?

I searched online and found many places which offer the toaster bags in Canada. One problem I noticed was sky high pricing. So I have listed below, two sellers with reasonable prices.

If you are  American, a simple search of "toaster bags" on Amazon.com will provide you with several affordable brands



Regal offers a set of 4 toaster bags for $7.98. Shipping extra. 

















Plan It Products sells a set of 2 toaster bags for $6.00 via amazon.ca Shipping extra.









Have YOU tried Toaster bags? Let me know what you think!

Tuesday

My Dream "Mini" Kitchen




Here you have it folks. My dream kitchen! It's actually designed as a kosher kitchen but would work perfect as a Celiac friendly one. These  Armoire Kitchen's have mini versions of everything one would need to cook.

  • Two burner cook top
  • Exhaust hood
  • Dishwasher 
  • Fridge 
  • Sink
  • Microwave
As you can see, there is lots and lots of storage for all of your Gluten Free food and dedicated cookware / utensils.





I love that when you are done in the kitchen, you can just close up shop so to speak. Fear not as there is a built in safety feature that prevents the cook top from working while the panel doors are closed.



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Disclosure

This policy is valid from 23 February 2013

This is a personal blog written and edited by me. All opinions are that of my own. I am not a healthcare professional or an expert. All information presented in this blog is purely that of my own experience and or opinion. Please consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet.

I write this blog as a hobby that I am passionate about. From time to time, I may receive monetary compensation for a sponsored post. I only work with brands that I trust and would use in my own home.

This blog accepts complimentary products for review. The opinions I have of a product will never be swayed by a company sending me an item(s) for free. I take into consideration the opinion of family members who are gluten-free due to Celiac Disease and I also value the opinions of non-gluten free family members. Taste is a matter of personal opinion so please use your own discretion and don't take my opinion as a gold standard.

Any ingredient or gluten-free claims should be verified with the restaurant/manufacturer as things can and do change.

For questions about this blog, please contact: sandra@glutenfreedoll.com

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