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!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
If there were ever a dessert that just screamed spring to me, it would be these cupcakes. Light and fluffy lemon cake dotted with fresh, juicy blueberries and topped with pillowy lemon cream cheese frosting. Everything from the flavors to the light, bright colors makes me think of a breezy, sunny spring day…pretty much the complete opposite of the gray and rainy days we have been having for nearly a month now. I suppose even if the weather doesn’t provide, I’ll take my sunshine anywhere I can get it, including in the form of cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes:
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
For the frosting: 
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 large lemon
Additional fresh blueberries, for garnish
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the milk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Using a spatula gently fold the berries into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.) Garnish with fresh blueberries.

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