Be Ever Vigilant

Don’t get taken!

Unfortunately, there are bad people out there. I met a couple today when “Amazon” called me. I’ll admit to being naive. I am, by nature, very trusting. In our current world, that can definitely be detrimental.

I stupidly gave out too much information and luckily did not have enough money on either of my cards to cover what they tried to charge me. I eventually became suspicious and asked for a number to call back. I was put on hold for what seemed like forever, until finally there was a click and a busy signal. Yeah. He hung up.

So, to avoid this, you should do the following:

  1. Always ask to have a number to call back. Tell them that now is not a good time, and you will need to return their call. Any real company will have a number where they can be reached.
  2. Never give out any personal information, including credit card/debit card numbers (or any parts thereof), CVV numbers on the back of said debit/credit cards, social security numbers, etc.
  3. Never give anyone that you have not called yourself, access to your devices including computers, phones, etc.
  4. Be suspicious of anything that has to be done instantaneously. No reputable company will need you to move that quickly.
  5. When in doubt, cancel all cards and ask your bank(s) to issue new ones. You can never be too safe.
  6. And finally, make sure your devices are protected. I recommend the free AVG for your phone and computer. It’s easy to install and it offers good protection.

Be smart and be safe and I hope you voted!!!

God bless,

Rita

Happy Halloween 2020 Style!

Scary Monsters with Warty Witch Fingers

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween! We certainly did here! We have a tradition in our house of making a special “spooky” dinner. We’ve had “gremlin” stew (made with real gremlins – ha! Ha! Just kidding!!!)

This year we made “monster” burgers and warty witch fingers! They were so much fun. The dinner was made out of the following:

1, 26 oz. bag frozen french fries

4 Tbsp. canola oil

4 gluten free hamburger buns

4 hamburger patties

4 slices of cheese (real or dairy-free)

8 slices of black olive

tomato slices

pickle slices cut longways down the pickle like a tongue

Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and place french fries on it. When your oven is preheated, drizzle with the oil and put fries in the oven. Cook for 15 – 18 minutes.

Cook hamburger patties in a frying pan over low-medium heat. In the meantime, cut cheese into teeth on one side of the slice and set aside. Prepare the buns with your favorite toppers (mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.) Add the tomato slices to the buns. When the burgers are done, place them on the other side of the bun from the tomato. Slip the pickle “tongue” under the burger and top with the cheese “teeth.” Place the other side of the bun on top and top with two olive slice “eyes.”

When the witch fingers are crispy, pull the pan out of the oven. Place the fingers on the plates next to the monsters. Enjoy!

For dessert, child #2 and I made sugar cookies. Recipe to come soon, but they are delicious! Here’s a pic:

Pre-frosted sugar cookies

Tasty Tuna Burgers

Tasty Tuna Burgers

I have long loved tuna burgers, but have struggled with a recipe. I wanted it to be simple, with only a few, non-specialty, ingredients, but also something so very tasty that my family would love it and want seconds. Tuesday is one of my cooking nights and I decided to take on the challenge. In our home, everyone cooks, so as not to wear out any one preparer of tastiness! Here is with what I came up:

5, 5-oz. cans of tuna (just your regular, chunk light brand in spring water)

1/2 cup Heinz mayonaise

1 tsp. dill

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (or the juice you squeezed from the lemons you zested and then froze for later use)

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. granulated onion (or onion powder)

1/2 cup finely chopped breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Add about 2 Tbsp. safflower oil (canola oil would work too!) into a large frying pan and preheat on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Gently shape the tuna mixture into patties that are about 3 inches in diameter. You should get six patties.

Cook about 5 minutes on each side to achieve a golden brown (you might have to adjust your heat down a bit depending on your stove and the size of your pan.) They should look like this:

Yum!

Flip and continue to cook on the second side until it too is golden brown. Remember you are only trying to get a lovely golden brown and warm it through. Your “meat” is already cooked. Remove from pan and serve on a bun or off with your favorite toppings. We used the last of our garden tomatoes and cucumbers along with some chips. Enjoy!

Kindness is Never a Mistake

Our changing world through our trees!

How many times per day, in our changing world, is someone kind? Not very often, in my experience. There have been a few notable instances where someone has been kind. There was a man in a store that overheard me talking to child #2 about where the tire air caps were kept. We eventually found them, but a couple minutes later, the man hunted us down in a different aisle to bring me a package of them. I thanked him, but told him that we had found them. I couldn’t believe he went so far out of his way for me. It was a great feeling.

Now, I try to be kind, especially to the workers. It’s not easy to be working in a store, but it’s even more difficult if you have nasty customers with which to deal. These people are hard workers with families at home, and problems too. No need to make their lives more troublesome.

However, yesterday was a winner of a day. Let’s just say, I had a lot to offer up! To start the day, I plunged the toilet. Yeah. It’s my favorite task!!! The day went from bad to worse when I couldn’t find close parking spots, and people were rude. I was feeling pretty low, but I still had a donation to make to the local Salvation Army. When I went to pull up, a person had entered from the wrong direction so I pulled up next to the donation bins and waited so she could pull out and I could pull in. As she was finishing up, a little blue car pulled up behind the woman going the wrong direction. What? Seriously? Once the first woman left, I pulled up. Keep in mind I had been waiting a good 10 minutes, while this woman saw me waiting, and didn’t care. She was so much more important! The attendant started to say something to me so I let him know that I had been waiting patiently while she zipped around to enter from the wrong direction. He agreed with me, while she tried to explain she was just following the person in front of her while screaming and swearing. I suggested she follow the signs. She called me an a_______le!

Keep in mind that this was at Salvation Army, a Christian church’s resale store. I was appalled at her behavior and expressed my surprise to the attendant. He filled me in on how much bad behavior he sees on a daily basis. My mouth hung open! What is wrong with these people? Did they never get taught the golden rule? What are they doing at a Christian establishment? Seriously? This is what we’ve become?

Please, be kind. I have never regretted being kind, because it is never a mistake! God sees the good that you do. We are all His children and loved unconditionally by Him! This means that it doesn’t matter the mistakes that we’ve made or how awful we’ve been in the past. Ask for forgiveness. Go and sin no more. Start that out by being kind. Ideas? It could be as simple as smiling at people. Give a kind word. Give someone at the store, with only a few items, go in front of you. Say “hello.” Cook or bake something for a new parent or an older, friend who can’t. It can be as simple as that. So, go be kind! As for me? I had another plunging session with the toilet last night so I actually started and ended my day with plunging!!! At least today has been better!!!! I did get many things to offer up for special intentions yesterday, though, so it was still a win!

Bake a cake for a neighbor!

An Autumn Snack

Ready for the oven!

Ah, Autumn! The leaves are turning and the air has a crisp bite to it. It’s the perfect time to be turning on the oven to take the chill out of the air with something to eat. We make many Autumn treats, apple pie, pumpkin cake, chocolate chip cookies (well, let’s be honest – we make these all year long!!!) The one snack my children and I look forward to every October is…pumpkin seeds!

We enjoy carving pumpkins for Halloween with jack-o-lantern faces, bats, cats, or many other fun things, but the part I like best is the roasting and eating of the coveted pumpkin seeds. We wait a whole year between eating this treat, but it’s worth it! Here is how I do it:

1 – 4 large carving pumpkins (this totally depends on how many children you have, or at least how ambitious you are!!! We had four this year, but one was rotted on the inside and you couldn’t tell until you cut into it. I’m taking it back for a replacement! Child #4 was so disappointed, so child #2 gave her her pumpkin and will carve the replacement I pick up tomorrow.)

Pumpkin carving tools (I use a knife to cut the top off, as well as the pumpkin saws, scrapers, etc.)

1 large foil-lined jelly roll pan

1/4 – 1/3 cup safflower oil (canola works too)

1/4 – tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut the top off of your pumpkin(s) using a sharp knife while cutting at a 45° angle so that the top will be able to sit back on the pumpkin instead of falling back inside. Use your fingers to take out the seeds and place on the prepared pan, being careful to discard the “guts” as these will not help your seeds to bake. When you have all the seeds from all of your pumpkins on the pan, drizzle the oil generously over the top. Sprinkle the garlic and salt and stir to make sure the seeds are evenly coated. Bake for 20 or so minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until seeds are golden brown and fragrant. They should look like this:

Yum!

When done, pull the pan out of the oven and let cool. Enjoy! These can be kept in an airtight container for a week if there are any left!!!

Don’t forget to finish scraping out your pumpkins and carve them! That’s the second best part! Here’s a pic of mine for this Halloween!

My 2020 Jack-o’-lantern. Ooh…scary!

Welcome, Friends!

Some welcome cookies.

I just wanted to welcome my friends from Facebook! I have spent some time this weekend setting up a Facebook page for this lovely, marvelous, glorious blog! I am trying to increase traffic so that I can reach more people who need my help.

I am very grateful for every one of my followers. So, thank you for joining me!

What have I been up to lately? Child #2 and I have been cleaning out the hall closet. What”s the big deal? Well, some people have a junk drawer…I aspire higher. I have a junk closet. At least, I did. Not so much anymore. Now I have a partially empty, partly organized space.

I have utilized my carpentry skills to put in a fourth shelf in a spot that was formerly just wasted space. This shelf I designed to hold three plastic containers in height and five across. This way, I should be able to organize all the stuff that everyone has been just throwing in the closet for years. Yup. I’m done!

So, I have taken many things to a resale store. I have pared down and organized, sawed and straightened until I think the base closet is as good as it’s going to be. Now I just need to finish putting everything away in its proper box.

The closet so far.

Next time, I’ll give you all a lovely recipe. Something for Fall. Something warm and savory. Mmmmmm…yum!

Note: I want to thank you for all the prayers for my aunt. She is back at home after her medical drama, and, though the progress is slow and she is discouraged, she will continue on. One step at a time.

An Easy Treat

My tasty apple pie bars! Yum!

A few months back I bought some gluten-free pastry dough. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it, but it sounded good. Yesterday, I decided was the day. I had a few “older” apples as well as a few new apples. So, I set out to make some apple pie bars. First, I laid out the pastry dough on a sheet of parchment paper on top of a jelly roll pan, making it fit as best I could. This is what you’ll need for the pie filling part:

5 large baking apples (Granny Smith, Johnathan, McIntosh, etc. are good bets, though you might need 7 – 8 to make up in size from the apples I had. I got them from a friend and I don’t even know what variety they are!

7 – 8 medium sized Gala Apples

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup tapioca starch

3/4 cup brown sugar for sprinkling

Peel, core, and slice your apples, placing in a large bowl. When all are sliced, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tapioca starch. Stir in to evenly coat apples. Pour apple filling onto pastry dough and spread out evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Bake at 400 F for 25 – 30 minutes, or until apples are browned and the brown sugar is carmelized. Let cool for 15 minutes and cut into slices with a pizza cutter. Serve warm. You may also wait a day for the filling to flavor the pastry dough. Either way (or both!!!) are extremely tasty, and quick!!!!

Money Saver – Sewing

My three double sided fleece blankets I sewed today!

Whatever your situation in life, people like to save money. I grew up without a lot of extras. We did not have much, but my mom sewed most of our clothes, and that helped a lot in the money department.

I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t know how to sew. What? How is that possible? I got my first sewing machine for my eighth grade graduation. I loved that machine! No, I was never a high-end seamstress, but I can sew a pair of pants, a shirt (if I have to!!!) a skirt, dress, pair of shorts, blanket, curtains, or a jacket. Not to mention fixing pants that are too wide at the ankle, hems, or other alterations.

As a single mom, I need to stretch every dollar, and sewing is just one way that I can do so. I have patched holes, made clothes, made clothes fit, etc. thanks to my not-so-great-but-still-sufficient sewing skills. You can too!

So, dust off that old machine and get crackin’! Sewing is not difficult. If you don’t have a machine, that’s o.k. too (though it does make things much faster!!!) YouTube is your friend here. Start with something easy – perhaps a pillowcase, or a two-piece fleece blanket, like I did (well, actually three! What can I say? I’m an overachiever!!!!)

So, that is my suggestion for money saving for today. Learning to sew, no matter your circumstances, will give you a very useful skill, as well as save you money. That’s no small potatoes!!!

The Warrior

Me in my fabulous hat!

Look at me. I mean really look at me. Do I look like a warrior to you? I didn’t think so. However, I learned this evening, that I do to child #3. What? Yup. She sees me as a warrior.

What makes me a warrior? Well, I do kill all the spiders in my house. They usually don’t freak me out. I just get a shoe and bam! It’s done. I know there are people out there who disagree with killing spiders or other living creepy crawlies. To them I say, that’s fine, but if they want to live in my house, I will be vanquishing all of those creepy crawlies. They may live outside and I will not bother them, but DO NOT come into my house unless you would like to meet the soles of my shoes (or anyone else’s that are handy – I’m not picky!!!) I did manage to kill this sucker who mistakenly made a web on my back driver’s side tire. Yuck!!!

Huge spider! Thankfully, after my drive he was gone!

Looking back, I guess I can see child #3’s point. I survived an abusive marriage, got out, saved my children from having to see the creature that abused them every day of their lives, went to work after many years out of the outside workforce, defended my choices to close family members and endured their confusion and side-taking, forgave, forgave, forgave, moved on, dealt with CPV, found out just how sick child #3 was/is mentally, survived, sent child #1 to college, sending child #2 to college next year, dealt with my many issues and the rejections of some, and on and on.

Yeah. I guess you could say I’m a warrior. I get up every morning to face a new day with God ever at my side. I face the challenges of the day and if what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, as they say, then I’m not just a warrior, but a warrior supreme!!!

Strong enough for the climb!!!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Glaze

What is better in the Fall than a piece of spice cake? I have been making this pumpkin spice cake for years. I have made it gluten-free and it is wonderful. There is also a vegan option that I used to use, but unfortunately, my oldest became allergic to flax seeds, so I don’t use it anymore. I included it, however, for you cake-hungry vegans!!! (I know you’re out there!) So, here’s what you will need:

1, 10-inch bundt pan

spray oil

1 1/2 cups canola oil

2 cups of sugar

4 eggs OR 1 1/3 cup warm (but not hot!) water + 4 Tbsp. of flax seed meal

3 1/2 cups brown rice flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or already grated if that’s all you have!)

1 tsp. salt

1, 15 oz. can of pumpkin (or two cups of homemade pumpkin, compacted

1 cup chopped pecans (You may leave the nuts out if you are allergic or you are serving this to someone with diverticulitis!)

Spray your bundt pan thoroughly with the spray oil, ensuring that you get all around it, including the spindle. You want your pan to be well sprayed so the cake doesn’t even think about sticking! Set your prepared pan aside. Preheat your oven to 375° F.

Mix oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl on medium speed for about two minutes. Add eggs (or flax seed-water combo) and beat until well combined. Stop mixer and add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Start mixer on low until ingredients are combined and then turn it up to medium-high to complete the mixing. Add pumpkin and mix in thoroughly. Add chopped nuts (if using) and put mixer on low to mix in the nutmeats.

Pour the batter out into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. It should look like this:

Cooling right out of the oven!

Let rest in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate to finish cooling.

Cooling on plate after inversion.

This is where I generally stop, or sometimes I will put a dusting of powdered sugar on it to finish it off. Today, however, I was after something a bit different. Inspired by a local chain restaurant’s salted caramel pumpkin shake (not dairy free…sigh) I wanted to make a maple, caramel glaze. First, I needed to get the cake fully cooled and actually cold. To achieve this, after the cake had fully cooled on the plate, I slid it into the freezer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I started the glaze:

1/2 cup “butter” (vegan – I like Smart Balance!)

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and cook on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted, combined, and comes to a rolling boil. Let cool for five minutes and pour over your cake. You might want to set your cake on a jelly roll pan to catch any delicious drips (and to avoid another mess to be cleaned up!!!) Enjoy!

It was worth it!