Netflix has come a long way since they were essentially streaming whatever content they could license. They are now a huge producer of exclusive content – for better or worse – but sometimes they really knock it out of the park.
Why Your Kids Should Watch The Dragon Prince And You Should, Too
The Dragon Prince is a show that my son stumbled upon one day while watching Netflix on his tablet. Normally he’s pretty into tablet-time, but I’d never seen him so engrossed in any other show. He talked about it at dinner, he talked about it before school in the morning and it was what he wanted to talk to my husband about when he got home from work.
And when he ran out of episodes, he legitimately cried; he was that into the story. I started to wonder about just what was the deal with this show? Could it be that good?
With season 3 just having been released to Netflix, we were determined to sit down and watch it with him. When we told him it was out, his face lit up like it was Christmas and he excitedly started explaining the backstory (which we will do in a much less sugar-hyper-six-year-old style).
Particularly if you or your children were fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was written by the same person, then this show is going to just click. Even if you’ve never seen Avatar, though, there are plenty of reasons to greenlight this show on your kids’ watchlist. Let’s take a look at why.
Epic fantasy without tedious exposition
The world here is rich with complex characters, backstories and fantastical elements, and the show does a fantastic job fleshing it all out. Particularly, it does this without out-of-place exposition, layers of indecipherable names and convoluted plot points. This isn’t Game of Thrones for kids; it’s better than Game of Thrones and it’s easier to understand.
The show is set in Xadia, a continent with elves, humans and dragons. The elves and dragons find power in the elements, giving them magical abilities and giving each faction a unique concept. There are fire elves, sea elves and so on. The humans – who always seem to ruin everything – can’t use elemental magic, so in their lust for power, they dive into dark magic. This requires the life force of magical creatures and animals, and so the humans are banished to section of the continent to ruin for themselves; we are why we can’t have anything nice.
The dragon prince himself comes into the foreground when, after 1,200 years, the humans kill the dragon king and take his egg, which holds the titular character. Without spoiling anything, the story progresses as the humans move closer to war with the elves and dragons. Season 3 picks up beautifully from where season 2 left off and everything about it is well-designed, with a complex story that isn’t heavy and doesn’t require a supplemental book to keep up.
The animation is again very similar to The Last Airbender, but even more refined. Creatures are truly fantastic and whimsical, like the little adoraburrs, but can also be impressively threatening like the dragons of Xadia. Visually, it’s awe-inspiring and really is just as gorgeous as it is good at telling a compelling story.
Dragon Prince is exceptionally inclusive
One of the very first things we noticed was that a human captive of the Sun Elves – the general Amaya – is deaf; she communicates with sign language. It’s not until you see a deaf character in a show that you realize how often you don’t see deaf characters represented. This isn’t a throwaway character, either or a half-hearted attempt at the fascade of inclusion. The creators of the show consulted with sign language experts and coalitions for the deaf to create a very real, very powerful character.
Mixed families are also represented in that the king of Katolis is raising the son of his deceased wife, whom she had in a previous marriage. The royal family is biracial as well, another aspect of everyday life that somehow gets left behind when creators write characters.
The elf assassins Runaan and Ethari are married and male. Whereas many shows might introduce a gay couple and have some characters balk at the concept or at least fidget, the show simply presents them as a couple. I asked about the characters and my son simply said something about “his husband”. It didn’t throw him off or make him ask questions; it simply was a fact that these two elves loved each other.
The primary protagonist is a literal child
Prince Ezran’s journey to reunite the dragon prince, Zym, with his mother is complex. Ezran can speak with animals, a magical ability that humans simply don’t possess. He has to make difficult decisions, and the morality of the story is not often clean-cut. Ezran is not a philosopher king nor is he held up as a perfect leader; he makes choices for the best of his people, but as a child would. This represents a lot for kids, who are often used to watching fantasy shows about adults.
Ezran is endearing, strong and authentic, and this makes the entire thing very enchanting.
It’s a genuinely funny and heartfelt story
I found myself laughing out loud multiple times per episode. The characters are charming and awkward at times, but the storytelling is top-notch and uses visuals to drive the plot as much as dialogue. During our season 3 binge, we were asking our son about characters and eventually we could tell he was getting annoyed, so we’ve resolved to re-watch all three seasons again. It is any interesting paradigm, though, being the one who won’t be quiet during a show – we like to think of it as preparing him for parenting.
The Dragon Prince deserves a binge-watch
The episodes are short, around 30 minutes each, and the show is utterly enjoyable. It’s teaching our kids bravery, inclusion and that children can make a difference and should be heard. Especially now that winter is coming and watching Netflix is a nice way to spend a lazy Saturday, give The Dragon Prince a try. Chances are you’ll join us in bemoaning that there aren’t any new episodes left and that we have to wait for season 4.
In the past, my husband had lost over 200 pounds with a ketogenic diet, and he is always excited to help other people on that journey. Not me, however – I cannot stomach the idea avoiding carbs and the diet always just felt extremely restrictive.
Before we get into the good stuff, I do want to mention that while this post is sponsored by Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion , the views within are my own.
I do want to lose weight, however, so I started looking around for other ways to go about shedding some pounds. I found “Always Eat After 7pm” and was automatically caught up in the premise that eating at night could actually help me lose weight. After all, it’s been my belief my entire life that eating at night makes you gain weight and with my husbands sort of carbphobia, I was extra scared of late-night snacking or before-bed pizza.
Why This Mom is Reading Always Eat After 7pm
What drew me to “Always Eat After 7pm” is that it claims to offer consistent weight loss while flying in the face of everything I “know” is certified science. Turns out, that’s not the case – in fact, the author points to multiple studies that indicate better sleep and lower calorie consumption the next day when food is eaten before bed.
But to be frank, the thing that piqued my interest was this quote:
“Fact is, most diets are extremely narrow with regard to food choices and variety, and many even limit entire macronutrients altogether over the course of the entire program (think low-carb and low-fat diets). Three months with no carbs? No thanks. Such practices not only are entirely unnecessary, but make for a miserable, unsustainable experience.”
Based on surprising science, Always Eat After 7 PM debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night.
I looked at my husband with his 12 eggs a day habit like some kind of real-life Gaston and thought “no thank you”. I’d rather eat whatever I want, especially if I want a late-night snack. And that had me hooked – I decided to try this method.
Ever the skeptic, my husband poked around through the book and watched this video of the author Joel Marion explaining the science behind his method:
Once my husband realized what was being pitched would actually work, he begrudgingly stopped judging the bowl of cherries I was furiously maxing on at 9 pm.
I’d tried other diet plans in the past, like ones where you need hyper-expensive workout videos or meal delivery systems and I hated them. They worked, mind you, but I hated them and they were costly. If this plan could help me lose weight and keep up with my kids, and the entry fee was only the price of a book, I was quite frankly sold.
We’ve been traditionally taught to avoid carbs, have an early dinner, and never eat before bed. But the fact is, the latest scientific research shows us this earlier model is not the most ideal and a diet simply won’t work at ALL if you don’t stick to it. I remember my mom doing juice fasts as a kid and she was always irritable, had no energy and she still barely lost weight, all of which sounds like horrible torture.
I was determined to apply this book’s concepts and objectively see if it worked for weight loss, so I picked up an advance copy. I’ll be working on the concepts in the book, starting with the 14-day acceleration phase that claims to help you lose up to 1 pound per day (I’m particularly excited about that). I’ll be writing about my success with the program, so keep coming back to see how I’m doing.
Right now in our homes, we’re all stressed; the kids, the spouse, our parents. It’s scary and uncertain and there’s a pall of tension over everything, and even mundane tasks like going to the grocery store feel like suiting up for dangerous missions.
Between taking care of the kids, working from home and trying to keep things organized, going to the grocery store was not high on my list of wants, but having food is definitely high on our list of needs. A friend of mine suggested I try Postmates, and they gave me the promo code FOODMATES, which gives $100 off of delivery fees, so I decided it was worth a go. That said, please note this is a sponsored post, but it in no way reflects my view points or opinion.
I had heard of Postmates when I lived in Chicago, as it was a popular courier service, but they’ve branched out and now deliver just about anything, anywhere. This includes food from local restaurants, groceries, medicine, etc so we used them to get our weekly grocery order delivered.
The app is incredibly simple to use and the delivery was fast, no-contact and painless. I didn’t have to fight crowds, wear PPE, or wander around a grocery store – our weekly meal plan was completed with a few clicks of an app.
Plus, by ordering through Postmates, there was no chance I was going to impulse buy anything; I got exactly what I needed and didn’t have to leave the house.
It’s not guided meditation or a 5-mile run, but anything to prevent some stress right now is welcome. Having our groceries delivered by Postmates freed up a huge amount of time in my day, and by using the promo code FOODMATES, I didn’t even have to pay for delivery (though we tipped of course).
Do yourself a favor and give them a try and see how much less stressful your life can be when things you need are brought to you.
While the world is staying safe and keeping our distance, there are still those of us who must go out and work, shop and interact at least in some ways with the outside world. Though we’re all counting the days to when we can get out and mingle again, for right now our trips to the grocery store need to be quick, efficient and frugal.
Grocery Shopping Tips For Quarantine
These tips are designed to help us all make our quarantine grocery shopping healthy, safe and efficient, but they’re useful for when all of this ends as well. Wrangling your grocery excursions each week can save you thousands of dollars over the year and tremendous amounts of waste, and might even improve your health.
Make a meal plan before your grocery list
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go shopping hungry or thirsty because it increases your chances of impulse buying. Did you know it’s just as detrimental to not have a plan in place for all your groceries?
A good meal plan flows into each day; buying a value pack of ground beef can make burgers one day and the leftovers can be used for chili the next. Cooking a pork roast for dinner on Sunday is perfect to make pulled pork on Monday or Tuesday. Planning meals like this saves money and prevents waste, and it allows you to use fillers like beans or rice to make your meals stretch farther.
Avoid Instacart unless you absolutely cannot
Though it seems like getting your groceries delivered is a great way to save time and minimize risk, ultimately someone else is still out there shopping, meaning even though you’re not exposed, someone else is. Additionally, this person is looking at your list and touching things, putting them back and spending more time in the store than you would because you know where to find your routine purchases.
Services like this also mark up the cost of each individual item and charge you a fee. Combined you might be looking at paying over 20% more than if you had shopped yourself.
For high-risk people, these types of services are likely necessities, but many grocery stores offer special hours for high-risk, elderly and emergency services customers. These are low traffic times with extra precautions taken, so if you can, use these hours to your advantage.
Try expanding meatless Mondays
Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal and with supply chains becoming hindered, it’s increasingly scarce, limited and costly. Meatless Monday is a popular concept that helps people reduce their carbon footprint, reduce meat intake and increase their vegetable intake for better health.
Beans are a great substitute for meat as they provide proteins and cost dramatically less. Dried beans last a considerable amount of time when properly stored and they’re not difficult to cook at all. When coupled with rice, most beans provide a complete essential protein profile and again, both are pantry staples that last for years.
If you want an idea of how much meat to buy for your family and how much each serving costs, there are calculators online that help with that. Applications like these can show you just how much you spend each week on meat, and how much each serving costs, and you can compare different proteins against each other for cost-effectiveness as well.
Batch cook and streamline
With quarantine days bleeding into each other, it’s best to automate as many healthy practices as possible. Your brain likes to make habits out of the mundane, but different experiences feel more special when we make certain parts of our days automatic.
To this end, making big batches of easy breakfasts and lunches is a great way to eat healthy with little thought and to save money. A big container of tuna salad or a breakfast casserole are both extremely cheap, can feed a family for days and can be tailored to be delicious and healthy. This also makes it so that your dinners or weekend meals are more special, because they differ so dramatically from your daily meals. Canned tuna also keeps for a long time, making it an ideal purchase during quarantine when you want to maximize your shopping trips.
Safety and efficiency
Going to the store should be as quick and efficient as possible. Plan a grocery list based on what you pass by as you flow through the store. Produce and meat are usually on the outside, with pantry staples in the middle of the store.
Take a list to ensure you only need to go past each area once, and don’t waste time browsing. Getting in and out as quickly as possible is your top priority, as is maintaining distance. Going as early as possible is another great idea to minimize interaction with other people and maximize how quickly you can get through the store.
Redefine your overall budget
Your grocery budget should be robust enough to feed your family well, but not bloated and including things you really don’t need. Reconsidering your entire budget is a great step during these quarantine times because money is probably becoming more tight, but even if it’s not, there’s never been a better time to step back and evaluate where your money is going and how it’s working for you.
Take the time to sit with a budget calculator and plug in the data to determine how much you should be spending on groceries versus how much you are, and find ways to make those numbers more closely match up.
Grocery shopping has changed dramatically in a few months, and what was simply another chore has turned into something that begs deeper consideration. You can, however, make it a positive, efficient and money-saving experience with just a little bit of planning, budgeting and forethought.
Cooking is one of the most important skills for literally every single person to learn. The days of hoping you marry someone who can cook are over; even if you do, there will be periods of your life where you’ll need to cook for yourself.
Eating takeout all the time is hard on your wallet and your waistline, and cooking for yourself (or your family) has the benefit of allowing you to know exactly what is going into your meals. Additionally, for people with intolerances or allergies to certain foods, cooking for yourself might be literally lifesaving.
Saving Money by Cooking at Home
Particularly at the time of this writing, quarantine across most of the globe due to COVID-19 has us stuck in our houses, so there’s never been a better time to learn how to cook. Let’s take a look at some ways in which home cooking can benefit you, your wallet and your weight.
Cooking is a must for weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, cooking for yourself is the right way to go. Even though most restaurants have calorie and macronutrient breakdowns (fat, protein and carbs), those are still dependent on a chef that goes by exact measurements. A heavy hand with the sauce ladle can tip the calorie count 200 or more, and nobody wants that.
Since weight loss is based mostly on what you put into your body – mainly calories – knowing how many you’re taking in per day can be far more easily measured when you’re cooking for yourself.
Home cooking saves you money
While it’s a great thing to support local restaurants, particularly during these difficult times, you can’t reasonably do it every single day. Cooking is far cheaper than eating out, and it’s not difficult to see why.
When you map out a meal plan – you do make a meal plan each week I hope – you can usually ballpark how much it’s going to cost you. For a family of four, a frugal meal plan can be $100 or less, but to eat out for a family of four might cost upwards of $50 for one meal. The math is plainly obvious; $100 for an entire week of meals, or $50 for one single meal of takeout.
Cooking is so easy to learn
Despite what you may think, cooking isn’t incredibly difficult to learn. There are plenty of places online where you can learn basics of home cooking, even if you’re a complete novice. Youtube is a great place to find beginner recipes, cooking steps, tips and basic information.
For a new cook, one of the most daunting tasks is figuring out how to convert measurements – how many tablespoons in a cup, ounces in a gallon, etc. Having a reliable website to convert measurements is hugely helpful, even for a seasoned cook (or if you’re trying to make cooking fun but educational for the kids!)
The conversion tools at Culinary Schools.org are fantastic for quick conversions, no matter how new to cooking you are. I’ve been cooking for years but there’s times where I’m in the middle of a recipe and simply don’t know how to measure out an ingredient, especially when the directions are using metric versus imperial units.
They’ve also got a handful of weight loss calculators that are perfect for figuring out your macros, your body fat percentage and the amount you can expect to burn from working out. If you’re learning to cook to lose weight, they’ve got all the tools you could possibly need to scientifically progress towards your goal.
No matter what reason you have for embarking on the noble pursuit of learning how to cook, it’s not nearly as hard as you think, and the benefits are enormous. Cooking at home is a powerful, noble life skill, it can save you money and help you become the healthiest version of you. There’s never been a better time to learn how to cook for yourself.