It's possible to trade profitably on the Forex, the nearly $2 trillion worldwide currency exchange market. But the odds are against you, even more so if you don't prepare and plan your trades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg report, several analyses of retail Forex trading, including one by the National Futures Association (NFA), the industry's regulatory body, concluded that more than two out of three Forex traders lose money. This suggests that self-education and caution are recommended. Here are some approaches that may improve your odds of taking a profit. Prepare Before You Begin Trading Because the Forex market is highly leveraged -- as much as 50 to 1 -- it can have the same appeal as buying a lottery ticket: some small chance of making a killing. This, however, isn't trading; it's gambling, with the odds long against you. A better way of entering the Forex market is to carefully prepare. Beginning with a practice account is helpful and risk-free. While you're trading in your practice account, read the most frequently recommended Forex trading books, among them Currency Forecasting: A Guide to Fundamental and Technical Models of Exchange Rate Determination, by Michael R. Rosenberg is short, not too sweet and highly admired introduction to the Forex market. Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk, by Matthew Maybury is an excellent introduction to Forex trading. The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex, by Kathy Lien is another concise introduction that has stood the test of time. All three are available on Amazon. Rosenberg's book, unfortunately, is pricey, but it's widely available in public libraries. "Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude," by Mark Douglas is another good book that's available on Amazon, and, again, somewhat pricey, although the Kindle edition is not. Use the information gained from your reading to plan your trades before plunging in. The more you change your plan, the more you end up in trouble and the less likely that elusive forex profit will end up in your pocket. Diversify and Limit Your Risks Two strategies that belong in every trader's arsenal are: Diversification: Traders who execute many small traders, particularly in different markets where the correlation between markets is low, have a better chance of making a profit. Putting all your money in one big trade is always a bad idea. Familiarize yourself with ways guaranteeing a profit on an already profitable order, such as a trailing stop, and of limiting losses using stop and limit orders. These strategies and more are covered in the recommended books. Novice traders often make the mistake of concentrating on how to win; it's even more important to understand how to limit your losses. Be Patient Forex traders, particularly beginners, are prone to getting nervous if a trade does not go their way immediately, or if the trade goes into a little profit they get itchy to pull the plug and walk away with a small profit that could have been a significant profit with little downside risk using appropriate risk reduction strategies. In "On Any Given Sunday," Al Pacino reminds us that "football is a game of inches." That's a winning attitude in the Forex market as well. Remember that you are going to win some trades and lose others. Take satisfaction in the accumulation of a few more wins than losses. Over time, that could make you rich!

The Best Soft French Bread

The Best Soft French Bread
This soft and fluffy french bread is better than store-bought and so easy to make!
Is there anything better than fresh french bread, hot out of the oven? The smell, the crisp crust and the soft and fluffy inside... it's enough to make my mouth water, just thinking about it. I remember years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest, having dinner at my best friend Cort's house. I can't remember what she cooked for dinner, but I remember that she made the most amazing, melt-in-your-mouth delicious french bread, and I couldn't stop eating it. I'm going to blame it on my pregnancy (although it's not like anything has changed since then...), but I just kept shoving slice after delicious slice into my mouth. I probably ate at least half a loaf by myself (sorry, Cort!). At the time, I was terrible at baking bread, and after that night I added "bake perfect bread like Cort" to my lifetime goals list. I asked Cort for her recipe, of course, but she bakes so much by feel and intuition that it was nearly impossible for me to replicate her bread.
Years passed, and I bought myself a stand mixer and learned how to make amazing bread, but french bread still eluded me. And then I stumbled across the recipe below, and reached french bread nirvana. It's everything I could ever want in a french bread. The flavor and texture are spot on, and it's the perfect bread side for soup night. It also makes delicious sandwiches, french toast, and even french bread pizza! I've made this recipe dozens of times, and it always comes out of the oven golden brown and perfect. It's one of my favorites to bring when we have dinner with friends, and everyone is always surprised I made it myself, because it's so perfect! (I'm a little surprised myself, to tell the truth.) You definitely need this recipe in your arsenal!
The Best Soft French Bread
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 5-6 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until foamy and bubbly. Add the salt, oil, and 3 cups of flour, and mix until smooth. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and doesn't stick to your finger when tapped lightly. Let the dough rest ten minutes, then stir it down (I just turn my mixer on for a few seconds). Repeat four more times, stirring the dough down in between the rise intervals. 
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment or silicone and sprinkling with cornmeal. Divide the dough in half, then roll each half out into a rectangle that is approximately 9 inches by 13 inches.Starting at the long side, roll the dough up into a long cylinder. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with remaining dough. Cut 3-4 slashes in the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Cover lightly and let rise 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the surface of both loaves. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


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