Orange soil, simply means African soil. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

FREEDOM TO SUBSTITUTE: Stretching your income (1)

Women cannot on the most part end the current depression sweeping the country. As family income is reduced and sometimes jobs are lost, or the markets are not performing as they used to, it becomes necessary for women and mothers to start to think outside the box, to keep the family afloat at this times.

As with most economic situations, women and children suffer the most since they are mostly dependent on the men who are either in the field working, or out of work. Women play a significant role on the future outcome of the effects of the depression on the family especially the children,therefore certain measures must be taken to wait it out and do so well.

Kindly allow me in the next few post not just to encourage but try to enlighten you on some few steps that may help curb the effects of the depression on the immediate family.

Firstly you want to make a list of all the expenses your family incurs in a month. Afterwards proceed to look for suitable alternatives for these expenses.

This post is mainly directed to mothers, both working and stay at home mothers (and the rare fathers...)

Common Expenses

Stay at home maid

As a kid my mom had a store in front of the house, this was where the young lady working for her at that time spent most of her mornings and free times.

We sold drinks, small snacks (made by my mom with assistance from the help), biscuits, toiletries and some small sized provisions. Over the years the store grew so big, because my mother tied the lady's salary to the success of the store, which also included bonuses and promotions.

This motivated the lady to work harder and put in a lot of efforts into the success of the store. It's been almost 30 years and that little garage is now a small department store in one of the suburbs in Lagos.
While having a help is a must for most working mothers, for the stay at home, or working from home mom, we could make some slight adjustments to the roles and duties of the housemaid.

For the most part of the day when kids are in school, parents are at work, if your maid doesn't go to traditional school you could make this time a rewarding period for both the family and the maid, by enrolling her in a skills development program.

The skills she enrolls in should be in close relations with her abilities and interest, it would also have an advantage if it's  something you also like. That way you could mentor her and watch her progress. This skills could later serve as an added service she can provide for the home eg sewing torn clothes, dyeing faded table cloths, baking snacks for kids birthday etc.

In reality some of these maids may have little or no interest in these type of developments. In such a situation, you may have to consider whether she could work part time at a friends place to earn a portion of her salary while staying and working at your end. This option is a little tricky and needs a lot of thoughts and input from you the help and the friend.

Grocery Shopping

This one can easily be the number one money guzzler if not adequately checked. The way to go about this is to first write down what is bought everyday of the week for a month. 

After you make a scale of preference putting the most important items on top and progress downwards to the least important.Taking note of the items that cost the most, and also who or what that item is meant for. 

There are certain items that cost a lot, but can be easily substituted with a healthier less expensive option that may provide the same nutrients or benefits (look out for my blog posts on foods and substitute).

Certain other items like cleaning liquids, disinfectant and toiletries could be substituted for, with locally made items. 

For the toiletries this would have to be a really creative substitute, I personally love dove soap, wash and cream and this costs me a huge chunk monthly. What I did was to look for a way to make the wash stretch longer by using only in the mornings, and take my evening bath using liquid black soap concoction I designed myself(would make a post on this). A little tweak here and there and you could save thousands of Naira from your weekly grocery shopping.

Look out for part two of this post.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Abuja is a thriving metropolis, with satellite towns, you would come to realize that shopping is impossible, especially shopping for food items.
As a woman and a stay at home mom, a food market is a business you can handle. A food market is a store( could be your garage), that sells perishables, e.g tomato , fish, onion, and meat.
The advantages of this business are limitless,

  1. profit from food items
  2. shopping for home and business is convenient
  3. requires little capital
  4. no waste, as unsold items can be stored, or consumed in the home.
  5. creativity e.g blending tomatoes onion, and pepper, packing and freezing, for sale the next day.
  6. staying at home making money in the convenience of your house.
There are certain disadvantage you must be prepared for

  1. shopping everyday
  2. Electricity for freezing stuff
  3. storage
  4. waste
its a viable venture, and the population of your area can determine what you purchase. Also the status of your customers, married or single.

Food items  you can start off with are

  • tomatoes
  • pepper
  • onion
  • tatashe
  • green pepper
  • green peas
  • okra
  • runner beans
  • carrot
  • cabbage
  • goat meat
  • cow meat
  • fish(titus, mackerel, and croaker)
  • catfish (a deep 30inch wide basin can serve as the pool, or an old bathtub)
  • spices and dry foodstuff(rice, beans, garri, semo, corn flour etc)
"The success of a food market, is the availability of fresh food items.

do not stock up, know the market and let demand push your supply"
Knowing how to store individual items is also key to reducing waste.

The list above is only a guideline, you can add and subtract as the demand requires.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The way we earn, spend, and save money is a practical expression of our most fundamental beliefs. When our priorities are out of sync, money can become the great divide in an otherwise harmonious relationship. 
By working together toward financial freedom, money can cease being a source of conflict and become a way to express our highest values, while providing comfort and security to those we love most. 
Here are ways that you, as a couple, can improve your relationship with money.
While dating
  1. Learn to have fun without a lot of money. A car ride, walk in the park, home-cooked meal, free concert, or ice cream cone are just a few of the opportunities available to enjoy time with your lover without spending a lot of money.
  2. Pay attention to your partner’s financial habits. Just because your beloved is a lot of fun and a good kisser does not mean that she is fiscally responsible. Before you commit yourself, learn how your partner handles the big issues of real life, including financial matters.
  3. Discuss your dreams and goals with your partner. Almost everything you will do during your lives together will cost money. Make sure your partner’s goals are compatible with yours.
Living Together
  1. Don’t move in by degrees. Some people leave their toothbrush one night, then a few changes of clothes, and before they know it, they’ve moved in. Have a discussion with your partner about rent, household expenses, and other important matters before you make your decision.
  2. Create a written living-together agreement. Clarifying your intentions in writing will help you to avoid misunderstandings and costly disagreements later. In most cases, your agreement will be enforceable in court.
  3. Plan carefully before you borrow with your beloved. Determine in advance who will be responsible for debts incurred during the relationship. In the absence of an agreement, each partner is generally responsible for debts for which she has signed, often without recourse to the other partner for repayment.
For Newlyweds 
  1. If you are paying for your own wedding, pay cash instead of going into debt. Have the courage to care more for the reality of your joint finances than the symbolic ritual of a lavish party. Consider having a small get-together to memorialize your love, and then throw a larger party when you can afford it.
  2. If you receive monetary gifts on your wedding day, don’t spend them all. Set aside as much as you can to invest for shared dreams, such as a house, business, or children.
  3. Review your investments. Determine if you need to change your investment allocations to meet your joint goals. Your partner’s assets can provide you with some investment flexibility that you could not achieve while single.
Joining Your Financial Lives
  1. Create a workable structure for your financial lives. Who will be responsible for paying bills, filing invoices, balancing the checkbook, and researching large purchases? Establish a division of labor that suits your talents and needs.
  2. Celebrate your differences. If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, create a budget that allows for both. If your partner is a bargain-hunter, put him in charge of the spending part of the budget, while you invest the savings.
  3. Confide in your partner. Keeping financial problems to yourself is destructive to the openness and stability of your relationship. Discuss your worries with your mate and ask her for practical suggestions and support.
  4. Rank your financial priorities. Where your individual goals coincide, make a list of the steps it will take to accomplish those goals. Where they collide, figure out which you can live without and how to combine the rest with your partner’s plans.
Starting a Family
  1. If one partner will stay at home while the other works full-time, discuss the model you will use for your finances. Will you pay the homemaker a salary for her services? Have a spending limit for purchases, like a corporate buyer? Create an arrangement that shows respect for the most important job on Earth: raising a wonderful human being.
  2. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to prepare your will. You don’t want guardianship issues to be settled in court if anything happens to you. Ask a friend or relative if he would be willing to be the legal and/or financial guardian for your children after you’re gone. Then, follow through by updating and signing your will.
   17.  If you stay home, keep up your career skills. Work part-time to maintain your skills and contacts, or go to        school part-time to improve your financial prospects. Maintain your skills so you can ease your transition to the workplace.
Relationship Skills for Financial Success

  1. Organize regular "money meetings" to discuss your financial situation, dreams, and goals. Use this time to brainstorm creative solutions to problems and generate ideas to improve your future.
  2. Work with your mate’s personality, instead of against it. One of you makes financial decisions instantly, while the other one deliberates for days. One of you hates paperwork, while the other has anxiety if every blank is not filled out completely and perfectly. Focus on a positive outcome, not the method of traveling.
  3. Don’t ignore your partner’s needs. It may not be important to you, but if it’s important to your partner, it’s important to your partnership. Treat your partner as a business associate, not a dumping ground. Hear what your partner is saying, consider it, and respond.
Money is important, so deal with issues early!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Soap Making
“Where the hard pastel-colored bars sold at the supermarkets are anonymous and indifferent, homemade soap has character. It charms…it smells good…feels good…is comforting in ways which manufactured soap can never be.” Ann Bramson

A bar of soap may cost 40 naira to make and can be sold from 150 to 400, and there is a growing market of natural ingredient buyers in this market. Many people are going back to basics and buying all-natural soaps. By adding special herbs, fragrances and colors, you can make gourmet and specialty soaps right in your own kitchen.
You can make colorful ones for special occasions, tailored ones for specific needs, and custom 
fragranced ones for a signature scent.
By carefully choosing a combination of quality oils, adding your favorite fragrance or essential oils, and swirling in a lively colorant, your soap suddenly takes on that charming “character” that commercially manufactured soap can’t even begin to compete with.

The Soap Process

Natural hand-made soap is not difficult to make, once you understand the basics. You can make a batch of soap in as little as one hour, depending on the formula.
The following is the basic formula for making all soap:

Fatty acid (oil) + Base (lye/Caustic soda) = “A Salt” (soap)

The oil or fat is heated gently. Lye and water are combined separately. When both ingredients reach the required temperature, they are combined. When the mixture becomes the desired consistency, it is poured into a mould. The bars are then removed from the mould after setting up (approximately 24 to 48 hours). They are restacked and allowed to “cure” or dry until hard. This can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks depending on the formula. 

There are 3 keys to successful soap making:

1.     Accurately weighed ingredients.
2.     A good formula.
3.     Proper technique.

Equipment Needed

  • One large stainless steel mixing bowl (the larger the better). This greatly reduces the amount of splatter leaving the bowl during the mixing process
  • One heat-resistant container that hold 2 cups (glass Pyrex works well) to mix Lye and water. Note: Using a large container may result in rapid heat loss and temperatures not reaching their goal
  • A container to heat oils. If using the stove, a stainless steel pot will do. If using the microwave, use a microwave-safe container
  • Meat thermometer made of glass and stainless steel (having two works best — one for the lye and one for the oil)
  • Protective wear: long sleeved shirt, pants, shoes (no bare feet), glasses and rubber gloves. Keep a bottle of vinegar nearby to neutralize lye spills
  • Soap moulds; plastic, cardboard, or wood (use wax paper to line, see “Soap Moulds”)
  • Measuring spoons, pot holders or oven mitts, and plastic spatulas(flat frying spoon)
  • Digital scale, accurate to at least two grams 

Soap Moulds

Generally, you can use just about any type of plastic, wood, or cardboard as a soap mould. Do not use tin, aluminum, or copper as they react with the lye. Candy and candle moulds may work well, too. If you want something simple, choose a square or rectangular container and cut the bars to size after your soap has set. Cardboard  juice containers work well as they are coated with wax.

To make round soaps try recycling a plastic bottle. Using an empty, clean, plastic  round shampoo bottle, carefully slice the sides of the bottle lengthwise. Tape sides using plastic packing tape to prevent leakage. Pour the soap mixture and let set for required amount of time. Peel tape back and release your soap, then cut the bars to a desired size. Set to cure as usual.

If you are having trouble getting your soap to release from the mould, try placing it in the freezer for two hours. This will cause the soap mixture to shrink from the sides and make removal easier.

To help with release, use vegetable shortening(vegetable oil) to grease your moulds.

Tip: Line your moulds with brown freezer or butcher’s paper. Apply some vegetable shortening to the inside surfaces of your mould, lay in some freezer paper, shiny side up, and trim to fit. After removal, simply peel off the paper from your soap block the next day.


  • Soap making is not recommended for children because of the potential danger that lye poses.
  • caustic soda (sodium hydroxide)you can get in tie and dye shops.
  • Be sure to keep the lid tight on the bottle of lye. Moisture in the air will weaken its strength and cause it to form lumps.
  • Lye can be fatal if swallowed.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and protective clothing, such as a long sleeved shirt and shielding eyewear when working with lye.
  • Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Vapours released from the lye when it is first mixed with water are quite noxious, and can greatly irritate the lungs.
  • Always have a bottle of vinegar close at hand. Vinegar will help neutralize the lye/water mixture if it happens to splatter on your skin.
  • Lye can remove paint, so be careful not to let it come in contact with any painted surfaces. If lye, lye/water or even freshly made soap splatters on any painted surface, wash the area quickly with water and detergent. Rinse with clear water and wipe dry.
  • Freshly made soap can burn and irritate the skin, therefore it’s best not to handle soap with bare hands for at least 48 hours. If your skin does come into contact with fresh soap, rinse your skin with vinegar immediately, then rinse with running water.
  • Do not use any containers made of tin, zinc or aluminum. Lye will react with them.
  • Recommended containers for mixing your soap include glass, plastic, stainless steel, enamel, and heat proof stoneware.
Homemade Soap Making Using Lye

 Here is a simple soap making recipe which you can try at home and make a stock of handmade soaps for your family and you to use. You can also sell them as gifts, by decorating them with ribbons and gift wrapping them in baskets.

Things you will need for this cold process of easy soap making recipe are -

  • Distilled water - 12 ounces
  • Vegetable shortening - 1 can
  • Lye - 6 ounces
  • Container - 8 × 8 inches
Step #1: Use a can of vegetable shortening like Crisco(or any vegetable oil). The first step to learn how to make your own soap is as follows. Take the vegetable shortening in an enamel pan and melt it on a stove and similarly in another pan, heat lye.
Step #2: In a glass bowl, take the cold distilled water and add the lye to the water slowly. Keep stirring continuously with a wooden spoon till the mix is almost clear.
Step #3: In another glass bowl take vegetable shortening and add the above mix of lye and distilled water to it. Do this slowly and keep stirring. Make sure that both the liquids are warm to touch.
Step #4: After the above solution starts to thicken, you can experiment with different additives and add scents, oils or herbs to the mix.
Step #5: The next step, is to pour the above solution into a container and set aside the mold for 24 hours in a warm insulated place.
Step #6: Cut the above big soap piece into little soap bars and store for 3 weeks in a dry place to cure. After 3 weeks your homemade soaps will be ready to use! 

Tip: Packaging is everything.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


"Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time." Bernard Meltzer:

Are you affected

Have you ever seen your most important tasks being put off until later and then later and later, while you are getting busy with many not so important activities? Did you hope that you may have more time and better mood in the future to start the task and do it properly? Does an approaching deadline mean a crisis for you? Do you keep hesitating every time you make a decision?

If you often see yourself in such low productivity situations, then there is a big chance that your life got under control of the procrastination habit. And those situations are only the most explicit symptoms.

What is it?

A basic definition of procrastination is putting off the things that you should be doing now. This happens with all of us time after time.

Yet, what makes a big difference for your success is your ability to recognize procrastination reasons and expressions in their different forms, and to promptly take them under control, before this bad habit steals your opportunities, damages your career and pride, or destroys your relationships. So why do not you do it now?

Causes of procrastination

What are typical reasons why you procrastinate?

Here are a few of the most common situations to consider in your anti procrastination efforts.

It can be as simple as

  • Waiting for the right mood
  • Waiting for the right time

Then look at the way you organize your work. You may notice other reasons for procrastination like

  • Lack of clear goals
  • Underestimating the difficulty of the tasks
  • Underestimating the time required to complete the tasks
  • Unclear standards for the task outcomes
  • Feeling as the tasks are imposed on you from outside
  • Too ambiguous tasks

And there are also many connections with

  • Underdeveloped decision making skills
  • Fear of failure or fear of success
  • Perfectionism

Monday, February 7, 2011


No matter if blue, brown, hazel or green, eyes have been referred to as windows to the soul, giving those who exchange glances the power to better grasp ones personality and emotions. Eyes reveal joy and elation as much as they uncover sadness, melancholy and distress. Sometimes pensive, mischievous or mysterious, eyes can let us in on little secrets we might otherwise miss in dealings with people we know and love.

Eyes can exercise a special power of seduction by casting an enchanting gaze in anothers direction. A wink can signal a special understanding or remind another of an inside joke or amusing memory. Eyes also key into flirtation a great deal. Cartoons and old movies always show the femme fatales batting their long, dark eyelashes in an attempt to attract the men.

No matter what your motives, playing up the looks of your eyes will bring a natural definition to your facial features while accentuating perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic on your visage. The main makeup components you may want to consider when dressing up your pretty peepers Retro Eyes are mascara - Lashes Unlimited, eye shadow and possibly eyeliner, though sometimes pressed powder or a light foundation will work wonders for circles under the eyes.

Eye Shadow Artistic Palettes

Depending on the hues you wish to use, you can get a little colorful and creative with the wide selection of products for eyelids on the market. No longer do you have to sift through dozens of shades of eye shadow powder looking for the perfect blend now you can accessorize your eyes with a beautiful array of powders , creams and glittery dustings. Traditional eye shadow powders are very easy to use with small applicator brushes and foam pads. For a dimensional look, blend two colors of powder or one color of powder atop a cream shadow base.

With cream-based eye shadows, less really is more. The cream shadows generally come in small squeeze tubes that really enhance the look of your eyes with a light application across the lid, reaching up to your brows if you wish.

Not sure about colors? Go with something neutral.


When selecting mascara, many factors come into play, with each brands newest addition to the line claiming bigger and better benefits. From thickening to lengthening to blackest black, waterproof and curling, each mascara product has a special offering of its own. Considering your own lashes, choose one that best suits your needs.

If you wish to avoid that scary-looking metal eyelash curler that appears more like an ancient torture devise, opt for a product that contains a curling formula. Choose the color you want to wear - black, brown or even navy blue. With so many options available, you can add a couple types of mascara to your collection and change your look as often as you like!

Generally, applying two coats of mascara will give enough definition to lashes to really make a difference. Allow the first coat to dry before applying the second in an effort to prevent clumping. If some of the mascara accidentally brushes onto your eyelids or underneath, simply use a q-tip to remove it. This may necessitate touching up your eye shadow a bit.


To really define your eyes, apply a thin line of eyeliner in black or brown, khaki, plum or navy. To properly apply the eyeliner pencil or liquid liner, gently pull the corner of your eye outward, forming a straight line along your lashes. Starting at the inside corner and working toward the outside, delicately trace a line with the pencil angled toward your lashes.

Be careful how much eyeliner you apply, as a little really does go a long way. For a dramatic look, thicker and darker is very acceptable. For a subtle definition, stick with a lighter application.

* * * *

Feel free to experiment with a bunch of different products until you find the ones that suit you best.Doing a home makeover can be fun as well as a form of much-needed stress relief. For best results, invite some girlfriends over and make a night of it!