Friday, 24 July 2015

Our Bdays as Hubby & Wifey

My Hubby was born on Dec. 6th while i was born on Dec, 23rd. Last year we celebrated our individual birthdays for the 1st time as a married couple.
Dec 6th- I organized a House Party for hubby for his birthday at our home. We had about 20 friends over with the house prepped with cake, music, food and drinks (soft & alcohol). You all know i love planning parties. I cooked Fried rice, Goat meat peppersoup, Plantain and Peppered Chicken with my friend Ejura helping out (She also baked the birthday cake). There was also Shisha. Sadly i couldn't take pictures 'cos i was so busy. The night was great fun, guys played video games, interesting covos and takeaway food for the guests. It was all a wrap around midnight and time to clean up (the notsofun part) 
Dec 23rd- Hubby made me breakfast in bed to start  my day and then it was responding to calls, messages, social media messages wishing me a happy birthday. He arranged a surprise candlelit dinner for the two of us with my kinda food and wine that was as sweet as i love it, We got all dolled up and enjoyed an intimate time with each other. My friend Talatu came to visit with a nice gift and my friends Praisel & Ermy had organized with hubby to get me a nice perfume. I was really touched *biggrin* that even though one of them wasn't in Nigeria and the other was in another state, they still put so much effort to make my day and then i also got gifts in the new year from friend's that were outta town during my bday (This is a norm 'cos my birthday is around Christams period and a lot of people travel around this time). Every gal loves gifts so having gifts was great!!!lol. Hubby didn't get me a cake though and i was used to getting cakes even if its just cupcakes (yes i am a spoiled sweet-tooth) so that was a lil bummer. I let him know though and he made up for it during Val's day *biggrin*:D. He also got me an HTC Desire Eye as my belated birthday gift some months ago. I absolutely love the phone and i'm now an Android convert, gonna do a review on it soon
almost a smiley face breakfast
Long Distance Gift <3 td="">

I can't believe i'm now 25years old!!! getting older by the second, I can remember when i was 18yrs old. Oh well, we all gotta grow right, can't complain about where i am in life, gonna count my blessings and keep working towards my goals.
Husband and Wife are really just tags. We are having fun living together as two individuals who have made vows and are committed to each other. There is no hurry here to fit into roles or 'grow up', whether we like it or not we'll eventually have to so why rush it instead of enjoying the company of one another and our youth (isn't that one of the perks of marrying early? oh well *shrugs). I feel this is where most people miss it and get strung up while trying to live up to expectations that come with the newly acquired titles of Husband/Wife. I may be wrong but not getting caught up in the titles and expectations, myths etc. that come with them has been working great so far.

We fell in the Indian Ocean!!

Yes guys!! Hubby and I finally went on our honeymoon (1 year after our wedding...i know,lol) in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It was a totally awesome experience!! We went parasailing and fell off our jetski into the Indian Ocean!! Read all about it and check out the pics on FollowtheNigerian.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Life as a 'new' wifey

1 year, 1 month and counting. So what does life as a new wife come with. Lemme bust the biggest marriage myth-"Everything changes after marriage"-well, not necessarily everything, i've found out this depends on the relationship. We lived on our own while we were single and were quite real so we got the chance to know one another's quirks, habits, etc.
Being married feels pretty much like being in a relationship, difference is we are now "permitted" to live together and have babies plus our relationship is legal and we are entitled to each other's properties and all that good stuff. *Big Grin*.
So yeah back to what marriage is like, so far anyways-laughter, crying, quarreling, fighting, goofiness, having fun together, making joint decisions, joint spending, joint outings, cultivating shared interests, cooking 2-3 times a day, cleaning, hosting friends at your house occasionally, taking care of the house and putting things in order, having new family members, visiting family members. It also involves still having your individual friends, having your separate hobbies, having your time alone and also doing your own thing once in a while.
Some things will definitely change in your relationship after marriage though, i honestly cannot specifically say what will change though, 'cos different circumstances will arise, routines will change, new family members have been acquired and they will come with their own drama or hopefully not.
My most fun new wifey moments:
What i've learnt so far (still in the learning process):
  • GOD is a big deal in your relationship- Build a personal relationship with God. I'm a Christian so i'm writing from that point of view but i believe you can apply it to any religion. I have a YouVersion Bible App on my phone and i do study plans on it especially on marriage, relationships, handling conflict and they really minister to me. I recommend these plans:
  1. Healthy Conflict in Marriage
  2. The confident woman
  3. Marriage is hard
  4. Marriage-a lifelong journey
  5. 7rings of marriage
  6. How to pray
  7. 4days to deeper intimacy in marriage
  • Marriage is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL/MOST: It's easy to compare our relationships to that of our friends and sometimes even strangers, thanks to social media, we forget that what we see is mostly just a piece that we are allowed to see, not the entire picture. What works for others may not work for your relationship and vice versa.
  • YOU: You and your spouse will still find people attractive and other people will still be attracted to u and your spouse and even try to date u, no matter how big d bling on ur ring is. I mean if guys can find a 7 month preggers bump-glaring lady attractive how much more u. Its up to u  to chase dem away.  You will miss ur old fun carefree lifestyle. Be comfortable with being by yourself n know how to entertain yourself, your spouse won't always be available for this. Be comfortable enough with your spouse that you can be vulnerable with each other. Technology is a necessary evil, don't get sucked in and let it take over your lives. You are imperfectly perfect and flawed, nobody's perfect.
  • Patience is sooooo necessary- for instance while in a relationship or dating, if you get pissed off, you can just take a break and head back to your abode and be alone and sulk or do whatever it is you do. Well when you're married you live together so that's gonna be kinda hard. You also signed up for ...till death do us part.
  • Quarrels/Arguments will STILL occur - You will piss each other off, its a part of any relationship moreso the transitioning process of being married and in each other's faces 24/7. I believe it helps couples understand each other better, in my case anyway, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. Honestly we quarrel/argue every other day and when its all settled we understand better how the other person thinks and feels. It's soo easy to bottle up stuff and resentment builds up and then you just blow up eventually. If you don't like something or you are bothered about something, talk about it to your spouse. You don't have to talk about it right when its happening if the timing does not seem appropriate but be sure to make your feelings known eventually in the most considerate way so everyone is on the same page. Don't deprive each other e.g. of sex, food, etc. wen upset, it's not gonna help the situation. Don't speak or make decisions when angry, words are like eggs, once it's let out (broken) you can't really take it back and it hurts just as bad as sticks and stones and can have a bad impact on your relationship in the long run even after the fight is settled. Don't drag out fights 'cos it piles up and a small issue becomes a big deal and silence goes on for days. Our biggest quarrels/fights can be over the pettiest and mundane things. Discuss the best ways u both prefer to be approached wen upset and things that make ur anger boil over. What works for us so things don't spiral outta control is having rules for when we quarrel/fight (its inevitable) e.g- don't say 'nothing' if dere's something, no storming out, no cursing, inform each other of ur location if u need space, don't bring up d past, etc. It works, for us anyway, it is in d back of ur head as a no go area no matter how mad you may b, dere r exceptions of course. Initiate convo with ur spouse even if its via chat to convey your feelings n be as diplomatic as possible till the issues are said and sorted; when u guys are on a happier note u can voice out any issues still weighing on you. Don't act unbothered n stay on ur own for too long-put ur pride aside and Reach out You don't v to win all d fights, even when u r in d right, being d bigger person is all d win u get sometimes. Put urself in d other person's shoes. No comparism to others, that just makes thing worse,focus only on making ur point. A soft voice/approach can also help settle things faster than a 'shoutathon'. Forgive n Forget-not dat u v amnesia, obviously not but don't  always repeat or use ur spouse's past offences to blackmail them. Listen to Understand not to Reply.
  • You gotta keep the communication with the family-Most guys are not bothered about keeping in touch with the in-laws and even their family members so you guys have to find a way to not totally forget about your family. Its easy to get absorbed in each other's lives and skip out on calls to check on family members and visiting them. I'm a culprit, i'm not a fan of calling my folks or in-laws frequently or even chatting with them, its just weird for me. Soo we kinda have a schedule, when i call my folks and hubby happens to be around me, we use that opportunity  for him to join in the call and greet them and vice-versa. We try to call or send an sms at the beginning of the month, Call or Visit on their birthdays and anniversaries, plan impromptu visits, invite them over for lunch at our place and also visit our folks with gifts during major holidays (Sallah, Christmas or New Year). This keeps them happy even when we slack off a bit. Keeping in touch with the siblings is wayyyy easier and fun thanks to social media.
  • Baby Pressure is Real!!- Yupp, the end game for the folks is not having happily married children, oh no no no...the bigger picture is what they aim for, having grandkids, not grandkid oo, grandkidsssss, meaning more than one. 9 months after the wedding is the exact date they want a child to pop out of you. If this does not occur, there is a problem, they do not care if you are doing family planning, creating a better living and financial situation, etc. Their eye is on their goal to beat their peers or join them as the case may be, by acquiring the title 'grandparent'. Of course they want what they 'feel' is best for you. And the baby pressure is not limited to only the parents, relatives, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and the likes will also play their part in the baby pressure game. I will tackle this topic more in a different post so you know exactly what to expect.
  • Cooking/Cleaning and Chores is in ya hands- Sadly this is the case for most Nigerian wives, even those like me that have a 9-5 job. Most husbands do not help out. You can choose to have a visiting or live-in maid or DIY. I have chosen the DIY route and once in a while i have someone visit and do a thorough fumigation and cleaning of the entire house (mostly when we are outta town). It gets exhausting but what can a girl do,definitely not gonna live in dirt and filth, will just keep prodding him and hopefully one day he will change and help out more around the house. Hubby cooks once in a long while, honestly i do the most, i'm still trying to get him to learn more though. Thank God for blogs and machinery that make cooking easier, read my post on that. Cleaning and Chores on the other hand is about delegation, share the chores and bear in mind that you will still have to remind him CONSTANTLY to do his part and it may still end up undone. You need to set rules so you don't have to be doing daily strenuous cleaning after getting back from work e.g. Take off your shoes at the door and Wear House Slippers, Use a Coaster or tray with cups and plates, Eat at the dining table or with a tray in the living room, Wash your dish after eating, sweep up any dirt you make, clean up your spills, return items to their rightful place after use, etc. It honestly keeps my work to the minimum, along with daily maintenance. Allow hubby help u with house chores, he may not do it to ur level of perfection but be patient and by showing appreciation and with more practice, he'll get better at it and even begin to enjoy it, MAYBE even volunteer. Negative criticism most times can make men shut down and not wanna help at all 'cos they feel u'll just complain about how terribly they have done the chore or not doing it at ur pace, etc. Lovingly show how its done, don't hover him like an inspector or nag and that means sometimes u have to look the other way when waiting for him to get something done (even i am struggling with this).
  • Enjoy yourselves-We easily get caught up up in titles 'wife', 'husband', etc. and the expectations we feel we should live up to with such titles that they basically consume us if we are not conscious of it. Oh a 'wife' shouldn't hang out with any single friends, a 'wife' should tie wrapper in the house, etc. Cammannn, live and have fun with your spouse, it is not a prison sentence. Dress up, go to the movies together, go to the club together, spoil and pamper each other-bottomline do your thanngg as long as both of you are cool with it. I really hate seeing young wives tying wrapper up and down for one!lol. Why are we in such a hurry to become old and live like our parents?? Old age is inevitable and i definitely want a better life than my parent's have and i know they pray the same for us.
  • Your Appearance reflects on your spouse- Hmmmm, my people, sooo true. Before you were married, you can decide to not wear makeup to work today or tie a scarf or dress down, well not anymore. You will always get comments, its like after marriage you totally lose your individuality, everything is attributed to your spouse/marriage. You will hear stuff like 'You no make up today?, why na, abi you and oga (hubby) dey fight?', 'You dey tie scarf, hubby no give you money to make your hair ni?, 'You are looking good oo, this marriage fits you, your hubby dey do him work', 'You no get car, oga (hubby) suppose don buy for you by now na', 'You dey take care of this man wella oo, see as he don add weight now, he no be like this before e marry oo' and the comments go on and on like that. Soo Hubby's wardrobe is kinda in your hands (especially if he can't be bothered) and you may need to step up your game as well so people don't make some silly assumptions. Then again, sometimes we really can't be bothered what other people think and we can't please everybody. Some people will expect you to dress old or completely frumpy and will make side comments like 'why did ur husband let u leave the house looking so hot' or something related to that on days u look really good. I guess they are just voicing/sounding off on u their own insecurities on you that they have about their wives/significant other being 'snatched' from them if she looks good. If ur hubby does not have a problem with ur outfit, u shouldn't be worried.
  • No 3rd Party- This is possibly the most hammered on statement in pre-marital counselling, funny thing is after the marriage, they start prying in trying to know if there's any fights so they can help you settle it. *smh* Contradictions. Anyways, basically this means don't air your dirty laundry, if you have issues, sort them out between yourselves, don't go reporting each other to your parents, friends, etc. it just makes both of you seem so immature and that's how unwelcome advise and the likes creep in 'cos afterall na them they settle una fight. Obviously dere's some stuff that u can jist with your close friends about or sometimes ask for a different unbiased perspective on, but you have to know when you're crossing the confidentiality line and with whom (are they trustworthy? will dey still keep your business private even if you have a fallout with them? etc.).
  • Money Management is necessary- Money is a big cause of many marital issues, especially when only one spouse is working or when one spouse has no spending discipline. What has helped us in my case is having a budget. I downloaded a family budget from the excel template and customized it to our lifestyle and it helps us keep track on where we spend the most, where we should cut down, planning ahead, setting goals, saving, etc. It has also helped us to be more open and cautious about our spending 'cos for the budget to be effective we need to note down everything cash related that we do. I would advise any newly married couple to have a budget, save and plan ahead and spend within your means.
  • SEX is Important-Don't let the flames of passion die out, stay attractive to your partner. That Dopamine is essential! There will be quickies, lovemaking, lazy sex, crazy sex. It won't always be the same tempo and both of you will not always be in the mood at the same time. Different couples have different libido levels, et al, so do wat works for your relationship.
  • There will be downtimes: Emotionally, Financially, etc. Communication & support to the affected party is key during these times as they can make or break your marriage. Don't talk down ur spouse/significant other or compare them to others; that's a full on recipe for disaster.
  • It gets lonely- This point refers to when u guys are having a fight, he's in a mood or hubby just wants to be by himself, etc. You gotta know how to deal with these moments constructively, read a book, watch a movie; basically do stuff that won't get you depressed or upset. Also reach out to ur hubby, u can just peep in on him and tell him u miss him and love him or send loving smileys and a chat to him via phone, etc. Don't just abandon him.
  • You need your own friends- Yessss, your spouse knows them, but they are not your mutual friends, he needs his own friends too. You can go do your karaoke and do girly stuff with your friends and he can watch football and do guy stuff with his friends (not chasing babes sha oo). My point is its ok to have your own separate friends and still have your mutual friends you can do stuff together with. It helps keep some level of sanity and things don't get boring. You will lose some of your old friends, the attitude of some towards you will change and you will gain some new friends because of your status change and that's ok. Most times advice u gv ur single/separated/divorced/in a relationship friends may b misconstrued n considered unsolicited e.g. dey may tink u r dishn out advice cos u r now married or a mom, etc. even wen dey know its d same advice u'd v gvn dem if in a similar relationship status. Tread with caution here.
  • Hosting comes with the Territory- You will have to host guests at your house and it won't be just family members and friends-nahhh-it includes in-laws, relatives and even their friends , popularly called 'family friends'. It is quite the task, best thing is to plan ahead, know the no. of guests to expect, have a clean house, good food, drinks and entertainment a.k.a TV. lol. If Nepa/PHCN is not on your side then you have to be able to hold down conversations. Your guests will form their opinion of you, your spouse and your marriage by how good a host you are more often than not. I know right, so unnecessary.
  • Good Health is Wealth- Hospital bills aint cheap! Most men can't be bothered about getting checkups so this falls on ya. This marriage signup is forever, you don't want your spouse dying and leaving you all alone to start trying to wade in the dating pool again trying to find love and catering to your kids et al or falling terribly ill. You get my drift ba, so get your regular checkups-Bloodwork, Dental, Ophthalmologist, etc. Lets chip in exercise and eating healthy while we are on the topic.
  • There will be Stayover Guests- Especially if you have a guest room, the siblings will want to spend time with you guys, sometimes the parents may stop by also  and depending on your relationship with them, it can extend to friends and relatives. Inform and agree with your spouse before having guests over, always confirm when they will leave your house even before they come over and make them feel welcome when they arrive, let them know the house rules and where items they will need can be found in your absence, Feed them well and most importantly at the very least, be civil and accommodating to your guests even if you dislike them. Make them feel comfortable. It is ok for you to politely refuse a request to stayover at your place, it is your house.
  • The Parents will try to push their Limit- I know they raised us and we are thankful but now you are trying to raise your own family so some boundaries have to be established. You gotta learn to put your foot down when necessary, 'cos they will try to make you do things, unknowingly or otherwise, that might be inconvenient or totally unacceptable to you or your spouse. e.g stopping by unannounced, staying over at your house, sending a relative to stay at your house without your permission, making you spend above your means, giving unsolicited advice, etc.
  • Respect & Protect your spouse- The way you treat your spouse in front of your friends and family is how they will help you treat him/her. If you talk to him/her anyhow, they will eventually adopt your style and do same, though you may not like it. Have your spouse' back, present a united front even when you are both not on the best terms and no one will mess with you guys. 
  • Always remember you are a Team- It's best you know this 'cos this how people will view you until proven otherwise. Translation? You are held responsible for your spouse's actions. Whatever your spouse does, it is presumed he got your blessing. To society you are seen to no longer have a mind of your own and will be blamed/praised for the other's actions especially with regards to your families.Although this may be true to an extent, 'cos you WILL unconsciously consider you spouse before making most decisions, you still get to make some selfish decisions without input from the spouse.
  • You are his Reminder/Alarm/Calendar- especially for the stuff you absolutely need him to get done. There's a very thin line between reminding and nagging *sigh. The system that's currently working for us is a shared To-Do List via Google Keep. you can each add tasks to the list and set reminders/alarms and each person can see it on their phone. Of course sometimes u still have to verbalise.
  • You are both Human and will make mistakes: To err is human and to forgive is divine.
  • We are in this for the long run and its totally up to us to put in the work to make it work- We create our own magic, don't get comfortable and sloppy and stop putting in work. Every relationship is work, you need to put in attention, understanding, care, appreciation, sex, play, fun and all that good stuff to keep the fire burning or else it slowly dies out and becomes boring, sometimes stifling. Surprise each other, spice things up every now and then, be goofy. You are stuck with each other for life, make the best of it. Keep in mind why you fell in love. Team Work makes the Dream work.
Always remember you are two different individuals, even identical twins raised together turn out different, talkless of two grown individuals who decide to share their lives together. You are growing and learning in the journey of marriage, Exercise patience, be open and honest with one another and you'll become more in sync. There will be arguments, quarrels, fights, tears, down-times but they will pass and there will be the happier, goofy, fun times to wash them away. Ok y'all that's all i've got for now.
Marriage is a bed of roses, people just forget roses have thorns.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Tips for Easier/Faster Cooking

As a "newly" married wife, my cooking schedule has changed from my single, living alone days. I mostly ate out, or got stuff that i could easily microwave or occasionally cooked at the bf's place or ate snacks, you get my drift. 
I did not cook alot.
How did i cope having to now switch to making 1-3 meals daily with variety? Hubby didn't cook much either and we know in this country na the woman dey bother about food so i had to up my game. In his defence sha, he has also stepped up his cooking game a bit, with a lot of 'prodding' from me.
I already had knowledge of the basics but major thanks goes to the internet. Google, Youtube, Pinterest, Blogs especially DooneysKitchen (yupp i'm a proud Triber). I still consider myself an amateur at cooking although i'm wayyyyy better at it now; as in my mum eats my soups and food now and is like wow! 'i still can't believe u made this' *insert smirk and big grin*. My mum kept saying when i was younger that i will not disgrace her with my lacking cooking skills and that she pities my future husband; i had zero interest in being in the kitchen except it involved baking, now she's happily eating her words and dare i say i'm a better cook than
I mean when i was younger i once washed rice with OMO (detergent)!!! lol. Read post here.
Click here, here, here and here if you are a total newbie to cooking and check out the other links in this post, they will really help.
Luckily my wedding gifts basically stocked my kitchen.
Here are the tips that have helped me keep my sanity and enjoy cooking; i will update as more come up:
  • A Freezer is your best friend! Especially if you live in Nigeria and light supply isn't constant, its the only thing that can preserve your food. A Fridge also comes in handy for things that just need light cooling to be preserved.
  • Modern Technology and Gadgets are your friend- Best believe! Get out your cash and invest in those gadgets (Food Processor (It makes yummy pounded yam from yam tuber, cuts up your okro, dices food, slices veggies for coleslaw, peels potatoes and slices them for chips, grates, and more), Blender, Hand mixer makes smooth 'fele' amala and cakes/pastry mix, Microwave for defrosting, Deep Fryer for bulk frying, Blender, Juicer, Toaster, Waffle maker, etc.). Check out Dooney's blog for more details.
  • Variety is the spice of life- Find new recipes and try them out (My Recommendations from DooneysKitchen - sweet chilli beef sauce, chicken teriyaki sauce, gizdodo, plantain moimoi, 2 vegetable egusi)
  • Don't be afraid to experiment
  • The internet is your friend, honestly, just search for any recipe you wanna try out on Google, Youtube and the likes. e.g 
  • Prepare your ingredients way before cooking time (even a day before if possible); Prepping ingredients is most times the most stressful part of cooking- i dice/slice down my veggies and protein hours or a day before cooking time. It is so much fun to just throw in everything already prepped into the pot and have your meal ready in minutes. Truth is, its prepping the ingredients that consumes the most time and energy.

  • Listen to your favorite high tempo music while cooking, i don't focus so much on the time when i can nod and move to my fave jams
  • Rest as needed, if the kitchen is too hot and stuffy for you, take trips to get some cool AC air from the living room
  • If you feel overwhelmed by all the cooking you have to do just step out of the kitchen to somewhere cool, take a seat and prioritize cooking the meal that will be eaten that day or foodstuff that will go bad quickly. Once those are sorted, pack up whatever is left and store properly, you can decide to cook them later in the day or the next day without overworking yourself
  • When buying peppers, buy the ones that already look clean, this will reduce your workload when washing them at home.
  • Use a small knife to remove the seed and stem of peppers (Bell Peppers a.k.a Tatashe) away from water before blending 
  • Wear gloves or improvise by wearing a nylon over your hand and holding it in place at your wrist with a rubber band to wash peppers so your hands don't 'burn'.
  • Use a light foamy sponge dipped in salt and a bit of water to wash very dirty peppers
  • If you already washed peppers with your bare hands and it is burning, apply a little palm oil to kill the burning sensation
  • For smaller peppers (Scotch bonnet a.k.a Rodo), you can put them in salty water for a bit to loosen up the dirt on them and make it easier to wash. There's no point removing the seed in these peppers 'cos that will be quite the chore as the peppers are small in size. However i slice them open after rinsing to be sure they are good and not harboring any insects or dirt (like in the pic below), remove the stem and blend.
  • Wear gloves while grating to avoid grating your knuckles
  • Make a list of new recipes you want to try and read up on them in your spare time
  • Go through your recipes, decide what you want to cook and make a list of items you need to buy way before heading to the market
  • Make your market runs earlier in the week or a day before when you are working with perishable items that can't be stored for long 
  • You should have a customer(s) you buy stuff from, this will shorten your market runs and you get bargains faster.
  • Ask questions if you are not sure of something, even if it is embarrassing, you get the info you need. Preferably ask a friend before asking a stranger.
  • One pot dishes are ur friend! (Jollof rice/Spaghetti, Porridge(yam,sweet potato,irish potato, plantain or a mix of ur choice,etc)
  • Buy perishable items that cannot be cooked immediately or stored in a freezer/fridge in small quantity.
  • Rice, Beans, Oils, Garri, Semovita, Poundo yam flour, Plantain flour, Bean flour, Wheat flour, Yam and Sweet Potatoes are good to have in d pantry or cupboards 'cos they v a decent shelf life, keep them away from heat in a cool dry place.
  • Irish potatoes and onions are also good to have in the pantry and need to be stored in a cool ventilated space else dey'll go bad.
  • Check best before/expiry dates whenever buying food, spices, etc.
  • Corned beef,sardine,baked beans,cereals,custard,oats and the likes are easy eats n good to v on hand.
  • Marinate ur meats/poultry for a better well seasoned taste
  • Have a dedicated sharp cooking scissors for quick cutting of soft veggies (spring onions,etc)
  • Shapen ur knives when blunt
  • Explore spices, seasoning, condiments and their benefits
  • Buy more green plantain n fewer ripe ones so dey dnt go bad at the same time n u can space out eating it
  • Put the entire plantain in a plastic bag overnight for quick ripening
  • Peg open packaged food or store in airtight containers and in a cool dry place
  • Use measurements indicated in recipes or on the food packaging till u r good enough to wing it with eye measurements.
  • There are 3 popular classes of Frozen Chicken in the Nigerian market-that i know of anyway-{Hard chicken (cooks longer and doesn't break apart and is usually regular sized), Orobo chicken (Its like a slightly bigger version of the hard chicken), Soft chicken(breaks apart easily after cooking so its better for peppersoup or meals that you don't need it in one piece)}. For Live Chicken- I believe the 2 major classes are Local and Agric before you venture into the other classes-broiler, etc. I have never bought live chicken though. You can ask a friend that is well versed with buying livestock so you know what to look for or she can recommend someone u can buy from in the market.
  • Try to have sides available to spice up plain meals e.g. salad, gizdodo, etc.
  • To help ur salad last longer store the veggies (carrot, lettuce, cabbage) in the cooling part of the fridge in separate plates lined with paper towels and covered wit cling film. This will prevent them from turning black (oxidizing) quickly and the bottom part will be dry. You just assemble the veggies whenever you are ready to eat and u can make ur salad a proper meal and more savory by adding sauteed sausages, grilled chicken or fried diced plantain to it.
  • Seat down-yup, you don't have to stand over the sink or table to from start to finish, take a seat when possible
  • Use a knife to break eggs open, if you are as clumsy as i am, do it gently and you will not have shells in your egg. We all know how hard it can be to fish them out.
  • Wash your dirty sweet potatoes with water and use a potato peeler to take off the skin
  • Use ameat tenderiser spice to cook your gizzard to reduce the cooking time
  • Put some oil/butter (drops/teaspoon depending on the quantity of what u'r cooking) in Rice/Spaghetti (preferably coconut or sesame oil) when cooking so it doesn't stick together. {I read that if u parboil ur rice and add coconut oil after for the final cooking, it reduces the calories in it!}
  • For making solids/swallow from flour without lumps-Mix the flour with water to a pasty consistency in a bowl, add ur mixture to very lil hot water in a pot on fire and stir, till it thickens. Add hot water as needed till you are ok with how soft/hard it can poke it with ur finger to check. This is how i keep out lumps. This technique doesn't work for some brands of yam flour though,'cos they soak up all the water fast; instead start with a lil hot water in a pot on fire, add flour to it and stir well then just keep alternating between  addn water n flour in small quantities till u reach ur desired quantity/texture.
  • There are different types of cookware materials and different types of pots/pans for different functions, use appropriately for the best results- Stainless, Non-stick, Cast iron, Aluminium, etc. Click here and here to learn more about these
  • There are different types of yam, it helps to tell the person you are buying from what you want to make and he can recommend the best type of yam to suit your purpose. the types of yam i know are-Paper, Jalingo/Taraba (Archie's fave for all purposes), Water (it usually has hairlike strands on it-good for making ojojo(fried yam balls), ikokore or dishes that require very soft yam), Onitsha (recommended for pounded yam), White (supposedly good for boiled yam dishes).                              
  • Sort out ur foodstuff wen  you get back from the market into bowls n trays and keep whatever nids to remain frozen in d freezer till u'r ready to use it
  • Clean out ur sink to use as a bowl to wash ur chicken n veg (after soaking in water n salt to remove sand/debris) under running water 
  • To wash 'fresh' smoked fish, use salt and water to wash the body of the fish (of oil, dirt) then you can go ahead to open and debone the fish as you like
  • Soak vegetables (ugwu, waterleaf, greens,etc.) in water with salt for about 2 minutes then strain and wash in a sieve under running water to remove sand and dirt. squeeze out any left over water
  • When using with waterleaf, do not wash till you are almost ready to use it so it does not release more water while resting and become a mushy mess. 
  • Cut veggies (carrots and the likes) n freeze in batches using bowls or freezer bags, for ready use as needed. You can also keep vegs in the fridge,covered with cling film to prevent oxidizing (turning black).

Day old 'Ugwu' veg. stored in bowl with paper towel base & cling film cover
side view of storage of Day old 'Ugwu' veg.
Day old 'Ugwu' veg. looking fresh & green
  • Use left over vegs to make a stirfry/sauce (Manchurian sauce, Schezwan sauce, etc.)
  • Blend, Boil and store your tomato & peppers mix in the freezer or just roast and blend. The mix always comes in handy for stews, sauces, etc. Check here for more info on easier ways to make and store your pepper mix.
  • Blend your peppers for the pepper mix above at home if possible, the grinders at the market are quite grimy and all sorts pass through them; also the water they use for the grinding process, one cannot vouch that it's from a clean source. All you need is a good brand blender with sharp blades and you can control the ratio of items you are blending, quantity and texture. You can also half time if you have a lot to blend by using two blenders at once 
  • Use a pressure cooker to cook beans and save time, when the beans has softened considerably, remove the lid and only then should u add ur palm oil, spices and other ingredients and cook through without the lid.
  • Cook and freeze food, just defrost as needed (Chicken, Meat, Soups, Chicken/Beef stock, vegetables, etc) Check here for more details.
  • Bring out frozen vegetables (ugwu, efirin, etc.) only when u are ready to add them to the cooking pot, especially if you are not using the entire thing so they don't start to defrost, release water and get soggy.
  • If you have the smell of food (shrimp, iru, etc.) on ur hands and fingers use a stainless steel spoon and rub ur fingers and palms with it to get rid of the smell. works like magic
  • Explore healthy cooking options (Grilling/Roasting instead of frying, use of healthy oils, use of 'fresh' ingredients, etc.)
  • Make a food timetable. Check here (you can edit accordingly & very helpful for wives that do ALL the cooking)
  • Check out food/cooking hacks like this that make you look like a pro in the kitchen
  • Check out my Pinterest Chopaholic Board for some inspiration
  • Practice makes perfect
I hope this post comes in handy to someone out there. :D

My experience with The5kShop

I was excited when i found The5kShop and i even included them in a post, i thought finally i can buy nice accessories without breaking the bank. I immediately signed up and read through the shop's FAQs, Terms & Conditions, Payment system, Shipping & Delivery and Office address, it was all acceptable by me. I proceeded to check through the site and followed them on Instagram. Not long after finding them i placed an order on their website on March 26, 2015. My order was supposed to be delivered to my friend's house in Lagos.
On their site, it says delivery takes 2-3 working days so that was my expectation. I called my friend 3 days later to find out if my order had been delivered and it hadn't so i placed a call to The5kShop. Their customer service over the phone was good, i have to say, they listened to my complaint and apologized for the delay in delivery and said it was due to the elections. The excuse was understandable and i decided to wait till after the elections to call them again if my order was still not delivered.

I called on April 15th to find out why my order had still not been delivered, they confirmed my details, delivery address and order, apologized and said their system shows my order had been dispatched and should have been delivered. They said they would contact their courier service regarding the package and get back to me shortly. Toh, no wahala na. I called my friend whose address my order was to be delivered and he reconfirmed to me that nothing had come.
The call back came and i was informed that the courier service had misplaced my package. O.O *cricket sounds* what does that even mean. I got an apology and was told my money will be refunded to the account i had paid from. "We are also running at a loss due to this" the person on the line from their office said. I'm thinking, yeah sure and i hope you hold the courier service accountable for that, i don't want my money back though, just the items i ordered. *sigh. When will buying stuff online in this country and having it delivered be straightforward.
I tell them i don't want a refund, i will just order anothe set of items and get them picked up from their store, at least e no go vanish in transit with this option. What could possibly go wrong ba? I pick another set of items that cost the same amount as my previous order. I get a call later that one of the items is out of stock, *SIGH*, no biggy, i had read about this on their site in the FAQ Shopping section (Unfortunately, although our systems showed available stock when your order was placed, when we checked our warehouse, we found that the product was not available. Therefore we will be unable to send this item to you, if payment has been made; your money will be refunded immediately)
I replaced the out of stock items with something else. I was already out of Lagos so i arranged for a trusted courier service to pick it up for me and deliver it to my friend. To avoid any issues, i called the5kshop and informed them my items will be getting picked up and the date, I read out the items i ordered again so everyone is on the same page. On the day of the pickup, they called me to let me know the courier service was there to pick up my order, i once again read out my order and its collected and delivered to my friend. You can just imagine how fucking angry i was some hours later when i receive a call from the5kshop that ONE OF MY ORDERS HAD BEEN MIXED UP!!!!! I mean cammmmaaannn! I literally reacolld out the orders over the phone before it was collected. *SIGH* I got an apology and was told to please send my courier person back with the item to get it replaced, that's 2 trips i would have to pay for. No way. I let them know that would not work and sent them the address and contact details of the person my order was delivered to so they could sort out the error they made. Long story short, i never heard from them again and was stuck with an item i did not order and cost #200 less.

All this hassle for 1 earring and 2 sunglasses. wasted phone credit, time, energy and lost money(albeit not much).

My experience with them left me with a sour taste especially as it was my first time ever shopping from them. *First impressions...
Will i shop there again? Yes, if i happen to stumble on something i like, because they do have nice stuff at an affordable price. Next time i shop with them i'm gonna take precaution though, i will definitely not be going for their delivery option, i will rather pick up from their office and reconfirm my order before leaving their shop so my order does no get misplaced or mixed up. Also i will keep in mind that the stuff i order may be out of stock since their site doesn't update realtime what's left in their warehouse as indicated in their FAQs section. Hopefully their service will improve and be more seamless or maybe my case was a one time slip up * shrugs.