The Best Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad is a simple and easy go-to lunch around here! A classic chicken salad recipe combines tender chicken with the perfect blend of flavors and add ins.  It’s great served on a bed of lettuce, in a sandwich or rolled up in a tortilla for a delicious meal on the go!

This is a simple classic chicken salad recipe. I add mayonnaise, seasonings, celery (or water chestnuts), green onions and almonds. Water chestnuts add a delicious crunch! I always add a little greek yogurt not only to lighten it up, but it just adds a delicious tangy flavor!

If you’d like, layer up extra toppings like cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes… and build the perfect sandwich with your favorite toppings!


Myths that home prices rise forever and interest rates stay low forever are alive and well in Australia. Please consider this amazing story of corporate insanity as described in the Sunday Telegraph – Revealed: The home loan that could save you a fortune.

ING Direct, Australia’s fifth largest lender, is preparing to sell loans that have no fixed term and no requirement to repay any capital along the way.

At current rates, the interest-only loans would cut repayments on a $300,000 mortgage by $5000 a year.

“People are needlessly being denied the chance to buy a property while prices spiral rapidly out of their reach” ING Direct CEO Don Koch said. “There is an urgent need to provide more affordable options and borrowers should be able to choose whether they want to repay the capital, or not.”

Mr Koch wants to position the bank as a “mortgage partner for life”, with borrowers carrying the same interest-only loan from property to property for as long as they wish, accumulating equity from rising house prices as they go.

Then, as they near retirement, they could sell their property for a big enough profit to pay off the original loan and buy a smaller place outright, leaving them mortgage-free. Or, they could keep the mortgage going and repay the original capital from their estate, after death.

Banks already offer interest-only loans, but borrowers often are allowed to keep them only for five to 10 years. Then they must start paying the capital.

But ING says this preoccupation with paying off the loan is unnecessary.

“There is no economic reason for banks to insist on regular capital repayment,” Mr Koch said. “It just makes the loan more expensive for the borrower.

Financial comparison website InfoChoice CEO Shaun Cornelius said the move was a welcome innovation: “Depending on the size of the loan, it could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to a borrower’s cash flow over their lifetime.”

Economic Idiocy

Koch’s proposal, seconded by CEO Shaun Cornelius of InfoChoice, is economic idiocy at its finest. No one “saves” anything by not paying down mortgages, the money is simply spent (most likely wasted) elsewhere. Moreover, home prices do not perpetually go up.

The US housing market has without a doubt proven both statements.

Ask any homeowner in the US who is headed for retirement and severely underwater on their home what they think of Koch’s hypothesis.

With so many underwater mortgages, only a complete fool think estates would be in a position to repay the original capital from their estate, after death, especially in countries where the bubble has not yet popped, such as Australia, Canada, and China.

Of all the proposals to keep the housing bubble alive in Australia, especially in light of what has happened in the US, this idea from ING needs to go straight to the top of the idiotic ideas list.

ING Direct CEO Don Koch is testament to the idea “there is always the greater idiot who never learns a thing from history, who instead proposes to do something that the market has recently proven preposterous.”

Simple Questions

By the way Mr. Koch, I have a few simple questions for you:

Are you aware of what interest rates were in the 1970’s and 1980’s?

“What happens when interest rates rise, perhaps even double, and your borrowers struggle to make even the interest payments?”

Alternatively, “Are you dumb enough to offer low rates forever?”

Either way. Mr. Koch, you and your banks are screwed, and it should not take a genius to figure that out.

How to Make Chicken Wings


Chicken wings are a staple appetizer at any party, but they are also good enough to compose a main course. There are many ways you can prepare chicken wings. Read below to learn how to make chicken wings.

  1. Buy your wings. Plan on each guest eating 10-15 wings if main course, or 5-7 wings if served alongside other food as an appetizer. These instructions are for 2 pounds of wings, which should comfortably serve four people, but do not hesitate to multiply or divide the recipe to fit your guest’s needs.
  2. Thaw if needed. If frozen, thaw your chicken wings. You can thaw them by placing your chicken wings in the refrigerator overnight, or in a cold bowl of water on the kitchen counter for 4 hours.

Serving our nation comes with some exclusive benefits that are sometimes overlooked. Using a VA loan backed by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for your next home purchase is a benefit that all veterans of our Armed Forces should be utilizing.

The intent of the VA home loan was to create affordable housing opportunities to our eligible Veterans by offering a mortgage loan that allowed for little money out of pocket and lower monthly payments (than other loan programs may offer).

When considering if you should apply for a VA loan you should first look at some of the advantages. For instance, VA requirements are less stringent than those of other popular products like conventional and FHA. Unlike Conventional loan products there is no minimum credit score to qualify. Rather, a VA approved lender looks at the entire loan application and reviews all the details and circumstances surrounding the entire application. Details such as recent credit history, employment history, assets and overall stability.

VA Home Loan Resources:

Primary VA Home Loan Benefits
Explaining How the VA Loan Works
Helpful Resources:

Mortgage Calculator – help estimating your payments
Complete Guide to Home Loan Options
Helpful Guide for Buying a House
Most Common Mortgage Questions
10 Steps to the Home-Buying Process You Must Know

VA Loans at a Glance
What are VA Loans?
A VA home loan is a mortgage that is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA-guaranteed loans are made by private lenders such as banks, savings and loan associations, or mortgage companies. If the loan is approved, VA guarantees the loan when it is closed. The guaranty means the lender is protected against a percentage of the loss if you fail to repay the loan.

VA Loan Advantages
100% Financing – a down payment is not required in most instances. This will generally save you thousands of dollars out of pocket, especially compared to the other loan options. Other than the Rural Housing Loan, all other mortgage loan programs quire a minimum cash investment.
No monthly mortgage insurance – the VA loan does not have monthly mortgage insurance, saving you around $100-$200/month on your payment. USDA, FHA and Conventional mortgages generally require monthly mortgage insurance which is a cost the borrower pays for an insurance policy used to protect the lender from default on the loan.
Low Interest Rates – the VA home loan generally offers some of the most competitive rates in the country. Typically, the a 30-year fixed VA loan is about .250%-.750% lower than a traditional Conventional Mortgage loan.
Flexible Guidelines – the VA loan technically doesn’t have a minimum FICO requirement (which nearly all other loan programs do). That said, a borrower generally needs a minimum score of 620 to pass automated underwriting, however lower scores are allowed but may require a manual underwrite (which means there are more stringent requirements to qualify). Additionally, VA loans offer some of the highest Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratios of any home mortgage.
Jumbo Loans with little down – most loan amounts over $484,000 are what are considered a ‘jumbo’ loan. Conventional jumbo mortgages require a 10% down payment, whereas on a VA loan it is possible to only put 2-3% down depending on your county loan limit and available entitlement.
Ability to use multiple times – a common misunderstanding is that you can only use the VA Home Loan benefit once. In reality, you can use your VA home loan benefit as many times as you’d like. Additionally, you can have multiple VA loans at the same time.
For example, if you own a home currently (secured by a VA loan) and are looking to buy another. Instead of selling your existing property you could rent it out. Then, when you buy your next home you could potentially get another VA loan on that residence as well. In this scenario you’d have a VA loan on your old home and on the new one.

Do You Qualify for a VA Loan?
Basic Eligibility Requirements:

Active-duty military with 90 days of continuous active duty
Vetarans with 90 days of consecutive active duty service during eligible wartimes
Veterans with more than 181 days of active duty service during peacetime (for most service prior to 1981)
Veterans with at least 24 months continuous active duty (service after 1982)
6 or more years in the National Guard or Reserves – 1 year of credible service is a year in which you earned the full retirement credits, meaning you drilled consistently throughout the entire year and were awarded a credible year.
Cadets of the U.S. Military, Coast Guard Academy or Air Force
U.S. Naval Academy Shipmen
The spouse of a servicemember that is a POW or MIA
Must use for a primary residence (single family home, townhome, 2-4 unit, VA-approved condo, manufactured home). 2nd home and investment properties are only eligible for an IRRRL refinance assuming it has an existing VA loan. If you’re looking to buy a 2nd home or investment property then only a Conventional Mortgage is allowed

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs


Instant Pot Chicken Thighs: How to make perfectly seasoned instant pot chicken thighs with crispy skin in the pressure cooker. Directions for cooking frozen chicken thighs as well. 

I am one of those blessed people who gets to talk to her mom just about every single day. She calls to check in to see what my kids are up to, hear how I am feeling thanks to Cystic Fibrosis, and she always wants to know what I am making for dinner.

Even though my mom follows my meal plan, so her meals are planned, she likes to see what sort of recipes I am testing or trying out and often she weighs in with her opinion.

Lately, she has been asking for two things: Chicken Thigh Recipes and Instant Pot Recipes.

So being the good daughter I am, I knocked both out with this easy recipe for perfectly cooked Instant Pot Chicken Thighs.

What is a VA loan?
Homebuyers who are considering a VA loan, but have questions, have come to the right place. Applying for a mortgage can be complicated enough even without adding a VA loan to the mix.

With so many steps, the VA loan process can sometimes feel overwhelming. In reality, the process can run smoothly if you know the basics and find a lender who’s knowledgeable and can walk you through it.

Common questions homebuyers ask about VA loans include:
What benefits do VA loans offer?
Who can get a VA loan?
What are VA loan requirements?
What are the benefits of VA loans?
For eligible folks, VA loans can be the key to homeownership. In 2018, 610,512 VA loans were made with an average loan amount of $264,197. In total, the VA was responsible for $161.3 billion in mortgages last year.

Here we break down what a VA loan is and how it can help you.

What is a VA loan?
A VA loan is a mortgage that is made by private lenders, but partially backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are no limits on how much you can borrow, but there are limits on how much the VA will guarantee.

One of the benefits of VA loans, also known as Veterans Affairs mortgages, is that they consistently offer lower rates than traditional bank financing, according to Ellie Mae.

Eligible borrowers may only use VA loans for their primary residence. You can’t finance an investment property or vacation home with a VA loan.

The main draw of a VA mortgage is that they make it easier to get financing by offering no down-payment loans and more lenient credit and income requirements than conventional mortgages. Once you have your certificate of eligibility or COE, you can apply for a VA home loan.

What are VA entitlements and why are they so important?
The VA guarantees a portion of your mortgage via “entitlements.” There are two types of entitlements offered to eligible veterans: basic entitlement and bonus entitlement.

The basic entitlement is $36,000 or 25 percent of the total mortgage if you default; you would get the lesser amount of the two. Generally, lenders will loan four times this amount, so you can think of the basic entitlement as a 25 percent down payment on a $144,000 home. However, you don’t have to use the full entitlement.

As home values continue to tick up, most homebuyers are faced with price tags in excess of $144,000, or the max loan amount for basic entitlement. This is where the bonus entitlement kicks in.

In 2018, the median sales price for a home hovered around $315,000, so for most VA buyers, the bonus entitlement is necessary. This is also called a second-tier entitlement.

The VA uses the national conventional financing conforming loan limit set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, to establish the bonus entitlement amount. The FHFA boosted loan limits in 2019 to $484,350. In high-priced areas, the ceiling is higher at $726,525, or 150 percent of $484,350. Homebuyers can check loan limits in their area here.

The VA usually covers 25 percent of your loan amount, so eligible borrowers would get 25 percent of $484,350, which is $121,087. Then the VA subtracts the basic entitlement, which is $36,000, from the $121,087, leaving borrowers with a total of $85,087 in bonus entitlement money.

Keep in mind, lenders will generally loan VA borrowers four times the amount of the entitlement. This means you would multiply $85,087 by four, which is $340,350. Finally, you would add the $144,000 VA loan limit from your basic entitlement to the $340,350 sum which gives you a total loan limit of $484,350 — the same as the national conforming loan limit.

For homebuyers in high-cost states, the entitlement amount is larger. In counties with higher limits, the VA will guarantee 25 percent of a maximum $726,525. If your mortgage exceeds that limit, the VA won’t cover it. That means on a $900,000 home in a high-cost area, the VA will only back 25 percent of $726,525.

It is possible to use your entitlement more than one time. This depends on several factors such as how much entitlement you have left (you don’t have to use all of it when buying a house), mortgage amount and county loan limits.

The goal of VA loans is to help veterans become homeowners no matter where they live, so don’t let a costly housing market or a prior VA loan deter you from exploring this option.

What are the VA loan eligibility requirements?
Most members of the regular military, veterans, reservists and National Guard are eligible to apply for a VA loan. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability also can apply.

Active-duty military personnel generally qualify after about six months of service. Reservists and members of the National Guard must wait six years to apply, but if they are called to active duty before that, they gain eligibility after 181 days of service.

You may qualify if you:

Served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
Served 181 days of active service during peacetime
Have been an active member of the National Guard or Reserves for 6 years or more
Are married to a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability
It’s important to note that getting a COE doesn’t mean veterans qualify for a mortgage — these are two separate processes. Once you qualify for a COE, you can shop for a home loan. However, you still have to meet lender requirements which include things like income verification, credit (FICO) score, and debt-to-income ratio.

Do VA loans require PMI?
Unlike other low down-payment mortgage options, a VA loan doesn’t require private mortgage insurance. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and conventional loans with less than 20 percent down require PMI, which can end up costing the borrower thousands over the life of the loan.

The benefit translates into significant monthly savings for VA borrowers. For instance, a borrower who makes a 3.5 percent down payment on a $200,000 FHA-insured mortgage would pay $100 a month for mortgage insurance alone.

What are VA loan funding fees?
Although the costs of getting a VA loan are generally lower than other types of low-down-payment mortgages, they still carry a one-time funding fee that varies, depending on the amount of the down payment and military category. This fee helps offset taxpayers’ costs since there’s no PMI or down payment required.

A borrower in the armed forces getting a VA loan for the first time, with no money down, would pay a fee of 2.15 percent of the loan amount. The fee is reduced to 1.25 percent of the loan amount if the borrower makes a down payment of 10 percent or more. Reservists and National Guard members normally pay about a quarter of a percentage point more in fees than do active-duty members.

Those using the VA loan program for the second time, without a down payment, would pay 3.3 percent of the total loan amount.

Can existing VA borrowers lower their interest rates?
The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRL) gives existing VA loan holders the opportunity to get a lower interest rate. This option requires borrowers to refinance their current VA loan into another VA loan.

The advantage of the IRRL is that credit and appraisal underwriting packages are not required. Additionally, you won’t have to pay cash out of pocket for an IRRL. It’s structured so than any fees are rolled into the new loan or the interest is adjusted so that the lender’s costs are covered.

Are there VA loan home occupancy requirements?
VA loans typically require borrowers to move into their home within 60 days of purchase and to use it as their primary residence. However, exceptions can be made depending on the circumstances, says Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United.

“Lenders will evaluate occupancy scenarios on a case-by-case basis. For active duty service members, a spouse can fulfill the occupancy requirement when the military member cannot. A service member’s minor child can also satisfy occupancy in some cases,” Birk says.

Borrowers can’t use VA loans to buy investment properties or second homes.

What are VA loan underwriting requirements?
The VA doesn’t require a minimum credit score for a VA loan, but lenders generally have their own internal requirements. Most lenders want an applicant with a credit score of 620 or higher.

Borrowers must show sufficient income to repay the loan and shouldn’t have a heavy debt load, but the guidelines are usually more flexible than for conventional loans.

VA guidelines allow veterans to use their home-loan benefits a year or two after bankruptcy or foreclosure.

What are VA loan amount limits 2019?
The limit on VA loans varies by county, but the maximum guaranty amount for 2019 is $484,350 in most US counties and up to $726,525 in certain high-cost areas.

Help for struggling VA borrowers
Another advantage of a VA loan is the assistance offered to struggling borrowers. If the borrower of a VA loan can’t make payments on the mortgage, the VA can negotiate with the lender on behalf of the borrower.

VA’s financial counselors can help borrowers negotiate repayment plans, loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosure. Regardless of whether they have VA loans, veterans who are struggling to make their mortgage payments can call (877) 827-3702 for assistance.

How to apply for VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility
Before you can apply for a VA loan, you must prove you are eligible. Applicants must get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

Eligible service members, veterans and spouse must meet one of the following criteria:

You’ve served 181 days of service during peacetime.
You’ve served 90 days of service during war time.
You’ve had six years of service in the Reserves or National Guard.
You are a surviving spouses of a service member who died in the line of duty.
There are three ways to apply for the COE:
Request a COE from your lender. Lenders have access to a database which can produce your COE within minutes.

Apply for the COE online at VA.Gov. You’ll have to log into your account and navigate to the COE application page.

Mail in your application. Print out this form, fill it out and include applicable proof of eligibility.

Documents required for COE:
Veterans and current or former National Guard or Reserve members in Federal active service

DD Form 214 – This must include a copy showing the type of service and the reason for leaving.

Active duty service members, Current National Guard or Reserve members who have never been Federal active service

An up-to-date statement of service signed by the adjutant, personnel office or commander of the unit or headquarters. It must include your name, Social Security number, date of birth, entry date of active duty, duration of lost time and the name of the command providing the data.

Current National Guard or Reserve member who has never been Federal active service

An NGB Form 22, report of separation and record of service for each period of National Guard service.

An NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting and proof of the character of service.

Discharged member of the Selected Reserve who has never been activated for Federal active service

A copy of your latest annual retirement points statement and evidence of honorable service.

Surviving Spouse receiving DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits

Submit VA form 26-1817 and veteran’s DD214 ( if available)

You must include the veteran’s and surviving spouse’s social security number on the 26-1817 form.

Surviving Spouse not receiving DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits

You must submit VA form 21-534.

You must submit form DD214 (if available), which proves discharge orders.

Include a copy of your marriage license.

Include the death certificate or DD Form 1300 – Report of Casualty.

Send the VA 21-534 to the mailing address in your state. You can find that information on the following link. PMC States

How to apply for a VA loan
Once you have your certificate of eligibility (COE), you can apply for the VA loan. The application process is straightforward, however keep in mind that not all lenders originate VA loans. Here’s what you’ll need to do to apply:

Find a VA lender. You can do this by searching on the VA website, getting recommendations from friends or doing your own research online. Be sure to shop around for the best offer, as lender’s terms vary.

Apply for the VA loan through the lender.

Other uses for VA loan
Buying a house is just one way you can use a VA loan. Borrowers can also use VA loans in the following ways:

Cash-out refinance

Interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRL)

Native American Direct Loan program

Adapted housing grants