Friday, March 12, 2010

Phone Scams

Today I received a cell phone call that registered as "No info" for the number. The man on the other line had a heavy foreign accent. He basically said my cell phone had been randomly selected as a winner in a contest held by Interlinks Telecommunication in Canada and I have won a BMW and $350,000. He said I needed to call a phone number and speak with Mike Kimball to work out the details. The number was 876 area code. I just said okay and hung up the phone, knowing it was just a scam. Thinking that was the end, I went about my day. Three hours later the same man calls again telling me I need to call to claim the prize. I asked if it was the same info he gave earlier. Yes he said, and repeated the phone number. I asked if I truly won something why does this Mike guy not call me? His response was simply that is what he was doing. Uneasy that these people had my phone number and were obviously going to call me until I take action, I bellied up to my trusty computer. I knew better than to try calling the number as I feared incurring an outrageous phone bill. Google to the rescue again. I first tracked down a company in Canada by the name the man had given. Sure enough, outside of Ontario, I found the company. I searched the website and found the phone number did not match, and conveniently enough, the names of those who worked there were listed too. Your right, no Mike Kimball listed. Next I Googled the phone number. It popped up as a Jamaican phone number.........long way from Canada, huh? Then I Googled Jamaican Phone Scam, up came a lot of stories of people who have received calls similar to mine, unfortunately some of them acted on the calls. There are stories of money sent, and expensive calls made. Sick, just sick. I guess that is how these people keep going. They fish the phone lines until they catch one vulnerable person, desperate for a little extra money, not thinking about what might be happening.
So, my bloggers, word of advise. If some one calls your phone, unsolicited, their number is blocked (by the way I checked my ATT wireless account and the number showed as 000-000-0000 "blocked" on the call list), they ask you to call to claim the prize of a drawing you never tried for, DO NOT CALL, you may be stuck with a mighty big phone bill. You can do a lot of research yourself on the Internet now. Yes it is hard to turn down someone who says you won that much, but you can certainly verify very quickly if you are about to get drug down by a scam. So, write down all the info the caller gives, verify it over the Internet as a scam, then make a report to the FTC.
I am not sure what to do from here but will keep you advised if I get any more phone calls. I am hoping my skepticism on the last call made the point clear that I will not participate and hopefully they will not call.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Take two of these and call me in the morning!

I don't think there is a medication out there that could make me feel any better than sunshine. I can have the worst of mornings but as soon as one of those most powerful rays hits my face, I have an instant rush of smile. No, not the grin across my face. You know what I mean, that feeling you get that makes you undescribably happy. The kind of "happy for no particular reason" kind of happy. The kind of happy that can instantly turn you from being cranky and dreading the day ahead to excited to face the day and all of it's challenges. No one knows me better than God does and I am so thankful that he has filled my mornings with this blessed mood booster that greets me when I stand at my kitchen sink looking across our pasture. Hello DAY!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kiwi, the best snack ever!

Forget those nasty vitamin C supplements, grab some Kiwi! I LOVE kiwi and probably could eat my weight in them, so could my kids. I love their sweet yet tart flavor and their soft creamy melon texture with a hint of crunch from the seeds. Some of my friends have made the comment they too love them though, they hate to peal them. Let me give you a tip.
Wash the kiwi (as with all fresh fruits) and slice off the ends,

insert a spoon in one end just under the skin and rotate it around the kiwi just below the skin.

Walla! The skin is off your kiwi!

Easy isn't it? Must admit, I did not come up with that, saw Al do it on the Today show once! At the bottom of this blog is a link to a nutritional website that has some fantastic info on the kiwi. More than 270% of your daily needs of vitamin C in just one cup! As we all know, that which we get from food is more accepted by our bodies and right now all of our immune systems could use a real boost. At the grocery store in our town today the kiwi is 3 for a $1.00. I don't know if this is great pricing or not, but I do know you will never find a candy bar for that price! So boost your immunity and grab some kiwi today!

Katie loves to eat hers sliced. Tanner goes for it whole!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken Run

If you are one of my FB friends you remember my story about Gertrude the chicken. For those of you who don't I will bring you up to speed. My oldest thought one of our chickens might like to swim in the horse trough, on a 40 degree day. When we found out what happened we collected the almost frozen chicken and recuperated her in our laundry room. Thankfully she made a full recovery by the next morning and returned to the barn. Apparently, since that evening she has never forgotten the amenities she discovered in the "chicken coop" on the hill. The next day she brought the other five ladies up to the house for a "little tour". We turned the corner of the living room to see six little heads staring into the door! I felt like Old McDonald's version of the Hollywood celebrity tour. I swear they had little fanny packs on, okay maybe not, but can't you just picture it? We had a good laugh at them and when they realized we saw them they turned and ran back down to the barn. Then last night, I went to start the grill to for some burgers. When I opened the back door, there once again were my little feathered girl friends. This time they had made themselves quite comfortable eating bugs and grass seed in the back yard. Have you ever watched a free range chicken? What exactly are they eating? They peck the same one square foot area probably 25 times. Do they really see that many seeds and bugs? My thoughts are they live one big game show where all day long they peck the ground with the hopes of winning a piece of food one out of so many pecks. Imagine being a chicken for a moment. You stand no more than 18-20 inches off the ground, you see something you want to eat, you fling you head to the ground at what seems about 35mph, pick up what ever you saw and eat it. Can you really stay focused on that little morsel at such speeds. Try this, extend your arm in front of you, focus on your hand, bring it in to your face as fast as you can (be careful not to hit yourself!). Could your eyes stay focused? Now you get my theory that they live on one big game show. Who do you think should be the game show host of that? Barry Manilow? Sorry Barry, it's the hair!

Above is a picture of Katie and Gertrude.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Girls Night

Ladies, we all know how important those two words are to us! The night itself can entail many different activities depending on the "girls", but they all have one thing in common..... letting it all hang out. Girls night is a time of enjoyment with out judgement cemented with lots of laughter (and sometimes snorting) that sends you home with sore cheeks and a good feeling deep inside. Even the best of marriages are supported by girls night. It is not so much that we want to get away from the hubbies and kiddos (or maybe for some) but more that we need to feel like a "girl". The best way to do that is to call up some good friends, go to a restaurant you would never eat at with your guy because it is to frilly or with the kids because it is too nice, pick a good "chic" flick, sit back and enjoy the ride.

I was lucky enough to be raised with my best friends, my sisters. I would not give them up for any sum of money out there. We have had a lot of great girls night and last Friday night was no exception. Funny enough I think it marked the first time in a long time (since she was a Freshman in college) that we really got to hang out just the two of us. We left about 7:00, picked up tickets for "When in Rome" and headed to The Cheesecake Factory. There we indulged in the Four Seasons Pizza. Our reason for picking that one? Simple, we love veggies on our pizza and our families do not! It had to be the best pizza I have ever eaten hands down. I highly recommend it. We topped it off with the Stefanie's Red Velvet Cheese Cake, simply perfect! Not too rich, just the right amount of sweet. Don't worry we shared both items, no way any one person could eat all of that! Now comes the best part. After a meal like that one really wants to follow it up with a nice coffee, but our theatre was not far enough away to guzzle one down before we arrived. Our plan? Make use of girls next best friend....huge purse! Yes, we successfully smuggled our coffees into the theatre with out any spilling! That is a thrill no man could ever understand but we laughed about it the entire night. Moments like these make you glad you have great girl friends to share. Not that there is anything wrong with our husbands girls, or our kids, but that every now and then we need to let our hair down and play. The guys do the same thing, don't let them fool ya. They just call it "hunting"! Thanks Hollie for a great evening! So, go call up your friends, compare calendars and schedule your next Girls Night, it won't schedule itself! You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Butter cream Icing Tip

Okay, as I promised, I will pass on my latest tip. As you will find, I am a Google nut. If I need to know something, my first response is to jump on Google. If you can't find it on Google then you just don't need to know it! Anyway, I was searching for a really good butter cream recipe. The ones I use every one else loves, but for me it just wasn't exactly what I wanted for my cakes. You know how it is. When testing something made by someone else, the scale I use is a little less critical. When testing something I make, I am down right "Simon" about it! So in a search for the best tasting butter cream icing I found something. No the secret is not so much in the recipe, it is in the method. Grant it I do realize there are many types of icing, but I really do not want to deal with egg products in the icing. I am more comfortable using the butter and Crisco recipes. I just feel there is less exposure to illness due to allergy and bacteria. Personal feeling only, nothing scientific. Oh, I also use Marshmallow Fondant (MMF) for decorating too. I will walk you through that sometime. Back to the butter cream tip. When reading reviews on an icing recipe I found, one woman noted that she creamed the butter and Crisco together in her electric mixer for 20 minutes before adding the sugar. WHAT!!!!!! Is she crazy? Who in their right mind would cream anything that long? Someone who wants a very creamy, yummy smooth, use your finger to get to the bottom of the bowl, then lick the rim good icing. That is who! Yes, that is the trick. It is not so much the recipe. They are all basically the same, just a slight variation in the ratio of butter to Crisco. The real difference is in the method of mixing the ingredients.

So, with this tip in hand, I headed to the kitchen to begin making my butter cream icing. I softened the butter (10 seconds in the microwave per stick) put it in the mixer with the Crisco and let her go. I let the mixer mix for just a few minutes, then scraped the sides and started it up again. I went about the kitchen preparing the rest of the goods to assemble the cake. To my surprise when I looked back at my mixer after about 10 minutes the two ingredients were beginning to emulsify (become one)! After the full 20 minutes it was a beautiful white fluffy product that resembled whipped cream! It was probably two to three times the volume of the original two products. I added my flavorings and then slowly began adding the powdered sugar. To my surprise I was able to add the full 2 pounds of sugar with out the need of any water. When I made this recipe before I would always have to add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water just to get all the sugar in and when it was done, it was a little heavy. Not so now, when the "fats" are creamed together in this way it accepts the sugar like a long lost friend creating a very light creamy and not too sweet icing. It piped nicely too. The only thing that I did not like was that I could not use Viva paper towel method to smooth the icing as it did not crust. I have a feeling though if I was able to let it set in the fridge for several hours it eventually would, I just did not have that kind of time yesterday. I will let you know progress with that on future cakes.

The moral to this tip though is, when an icing recipe says to "cream", it means to do it until it is fluffy and one product with out any trace of the two or more ingredients that originally went in to it. Okay, I see why they simply say "cream". It is much simpler to say than all of that. Oh, one more thing. Be sure you do not over beat the icing once the sugar is added. It will add too much air to your icing. If you have ever decorated a cake you know that bubbles are not your friend! Next I will try this on cream cheese icing. Mine always seem very heavy and sweet. I am guessing that if I cream longer like the butter cream the same result will be achieved! So pull out that stand by icing recipe and let me know what happens.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Wow! Welcome to my blog. (Yes, that is a welcome to me, to my own blog. Well, no one else is here to do it!) Now, welcome to you too! This is so much fun. I mentioned that encouragement can come from many different places and I feel it is fitting that the encouragement for this blog came from a friend I really have never met. No...I am not crazy and I don't have an imaginary friend! Her name is Sara and she is a co-worker of my husband. We communicate quite regularly now via e-mail and Facebook. She is a faithful follower of my cakes (I call them T-Cakes) of which I will be posting on this blog. So with great encouragement and leadership from Sara I am now blogging! I have a lot to share with you. I hope you gain encouragement to do much for yourself and welcome shared thoughts from you.