Hello, I'm glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your visit. It has been said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This blog is about me, my adventures, silly moments, and keeping in touch with you. Life is exciting and so full of possibilities, so let's enjoy the journey together.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Pumpkin Cream Pie

This pie is a family favorite disaster.

the famous Pumpkin Cream Pie!

I have been working on perfecting this pie for a couple of years now and

I can honestly say. . . 

I believe we have arrived!  

. . . Perfect results every time

This quest actually began as Grandma’s pie.  

My memories are of Thanksgiving dinner and the endless talk about how amazingly wonderful Grandma’s Pumpkin Cream Pie is.  None of that pasty baked custard stuff people are used to.

No  No  No. . . this is creamy goodness with no oven required

except for the crust which is baked in advance.

anyway every year the main topic of conversation centered around this pie.  Then every year they would complain about how it wouldn’t "set up this time”, it’s good. . . just, well. . . runny, sort of like a thick soup.

let’s just say. . . .

. . . it was a bit temperamental

Every year the conversation went a bit like this:

cook over double boiler so it doesn't scorch or cook too fast

maybe it needs more thickener

forget the double boiler, it needs more heat

perhaps it didn't cook long enough

I think it cooked too long. . . 

the list of reasons and discussion for failure seemed to endlessly evolve around these same points each Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. . .

                                         as a child. . .

                                                             teen. . .

                                                                    pre-adult. . .

                                      adult. . . . 

so following the tradition for Pumpkin Cream Pie
a couple of years ago I set out to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

I have studied the science of thickeners

what they do, why some work, and some don’t


I have tested - making pumpkin pie


run trials, making more pumpkin pie


and tried various methods and have finally come to the final product. . .

Seriously, I made pumpkin pie in July, trying to figure this out, knowing, believing, having hope and faith that there was a solution to making this famous pie work.


Perfect Pumpkin Cream Pie. . . Consistently!

                                There you have it . . . 

Pumpkin Cream Pie!
(click here for recipe)

. . .  No longer to be known as the annual disaster

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, May 8, 2017

I have a mac. . . and a few lessons learned

Please accept my apology in advance for a second post with no pictures. . . 

This is a follow up to my previous post of when my computer was hijacked . . . and is still pretty much business.  It is my hope that my experience will help someone else in the future to either avoid this altogether or to make the recovery process a bit easier.

We are still piecing together a few things, and I am learning to use a whole new computer system. . . it’s a MAC vs my original windows based computer

. . . It’s been rough.

I have been close to tears more than once trying to figure out the simplest functions.  

For example:

to minimize a window in a windows computer the little shrink/expand button is in the upper righthand corner and is ALWAYS visible . . . a mac on the other hand is in the upper lefthand corner, is SUPER teensey-weensy barely discernable thing and auto-hides until you hover over it.   

I knew there would be a learning curve, but was unprepared for the simplest functions to be TOTALLY different causing me a near mental breakdown on more than one occasion.

It's been a frustrating process for all involved. . . especially poor superman who was blessed opportunity to deal with my frustration on an hourly basis. . . I don't wish to count how many chats evolved about HOW to USE my new puter :(  

. . . in short, it's been a distressing event.

I am happy to announce it is coming, and I am figuring things out and the transition is coming much more smoothly as time rolls forward.

But I digress, and now return to the purpose of this post about the recovery process

. . . the purpose of this post is to share with you a few things we have learned over the past few weeks, from becoming victims to cyber hijackers that took my computer hostage.

It’s taken us a full month to sort of recover from this incident . . .  and honestly there are some things that are unrecoverable.    I will never approach my computer the same again, this has changed how I manage my tech life forever.

There is a website that has dedicated it’s resources to helping people like us, but unfortunately the spyware/malware that I opened the door for, it's called SPORA and they do not have an antidote as of yet. . . 

But we are still hoping it will happen.

if you are interested here is their link  www.nomoreransom.org

In the meantime, here are a few tidbits of wisdom that I will pass onto anyone and everyone who will listen, and or read this post.

First, Keep a backup of your files!

Honestly, if you would be sad to lose your files, then back them up in a manner that they are not in any way connected to your computer.

I have 15 years of documents now completely inaccessible because our backup was on our server, in the event that a hard-drive crashed. While this is good, it’s not good enough against the evil forces outside beating at the door to get in.

These evil and designing creeps wormed through our server and began hacking each computer connected to the server, including the server itself.  So, our back-up files kept on the server are also no longer accessible either.

Secondly:   Keep a backup of all your files on a disk, USB, or other form that is not connected to your computer or to your network . . . in other words, make sure your backup drive is completely separate from your computer AND network.

I cannot express how distressing it is to know my recipe files, lesson plans, thoughts, devotionals, journal entries, copies of blog posts, resume’s, letters, all my kids mission letters, Training plans, workout logs, address files, financial records, my design files for announcements, weddings, parties, recitals and several other things

. . . and the list goes on.  At random moments I think of something else lost. . . these are a few that come to mind.  I had 44 Gig of data that was wiped out in all of 20 seconds.

Third:  Did I mention to keep a backup of your electronic files?

           I have a small handful of items in my Dropbox, but they only recover if they have been            opened in the last 12 months. . . this would be many items for me, including the recipe            links I have in my Blog. . . I get to re-create those too.

If I didn’t mention the importance of backing up your files
now I have

. . . if you missed the importance of this simple action, re-read the above three paragraphs.

As I mentioned in my first post about this nightmare, we Isolated my computer immediately and disconnected from the internet, unless we were actively trying to repair the damage.  If we did need to connect we turned off or disconnected every other device we owned, including our phones before proceeding. 

Next, we began changing passwords, and locking down financial accounts within hours of being victimized.

Fortunately, We have the Genius who is a computer programmer and develops software for on-line/Internet Security, we consulted with him, and he confirmed our fears to what we already had concluded. . . my computer was toast. . . destroyed, and shouldn’t be used

. . . ever again.

These evil and designing creeps (EDC’s) were generous enough to offer me that for $170.00 they would restore my files.  


They shouldn’t have taken them in the first place

Am I being overly sensitive about this?

I don’t think so, but just in case please let me know
and I will consider rethinking my position.

What we learned is in addition to scouring your computer for information, they also track each keystroke you make getting further information. . .

But it gets even uglier,

Let’s say you pay them, if they release your files, and often you will only get a portion restored AND then they plant a time bomb so your computer becomes victim again in the future.

Oh yeah, there’s still more . . .  

Let’s say I copy my files give them a new name, and re-save them on a different disk . . .

Well, they have that covered too.  They implant “metadata” within each file so they can find you again in the future. . . With these EDC’s you will never be safe again.

At this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what we found ourselves dealing with.

As mentioned in my previous post, we closed all checking, credit, and financial accounts as was advised by our banking institutions.

If this unfortunate business happens to you here are a couple of things I wish I would have realized before we began this process.

Fourth:  If you have Dropbox write them within 30 days and they have a way to mass restore your files. 

I wish I would have realized this sooner.  I am after the 30 day mark and they are trying to help me, but it's been a week since I initially contacted them and the e-mails keep going back and forth as they are needing information that I've not been sure how to answer.

Working with the Dropbox peeps is a definite process and they only do phone support for paying customers, which I am not so e-mail is the only way to communicate with them.

Fifth:  If you use on-line banking to pay bills:

BEFORE Closing out the initial account you are replacing, have the bank “link” or “connect” the new acct and the old acct in the online banking/billpay function.  You will need to call the on-line banking division to make this happen. If you take the time to do this first, you won’t need to reestablish all your online account information.

I made this discovery accidentally, the actual bank person didn’t even think about how to get around this. We were simply told we would loose this information and have to reestablish this information with the new account, and with that we lost all payment history.  This process took me several additional hours to input all this information.

Sixth:  Keep an old fashioned physical Paper and Pencil/Pen Log of passwords

I think it’s safe to say that most people have SEVERAL websites they access.  

Seriously, every time we make an online purchase, or I have a couple of accts where they are newsletter type and they have their own passwords to access them not to mention my Strava, Garmin, and Training peaks accts.  

Many of these are accts that I had on the auto-log-in . . . remember me . . . function, you know the save my password feature on Chrome, Google, Safari, Firefox etc. . . those were all gone now, and I couldn’t remember all those passwords so I had to request new passwords for all these too . . . Honestly, it was a total pain in the _ _ _ _ (you can fill in your favorite word here)  :)

My biggest hurdle yet is finding a blog editor for mac that has the functionality of my previous Open Live Writer. . . I also need to replace photoshop. . . Adobe has moved to a monthly subscription on the cloud, which we are unwilling to pay for so we are looking for an alternative application here too . . . The whole process has been daunting.

Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated and welcome.

The good news is that I had all of my Yellowstone pictures still on my camera disk, along with a few hundred others . .  so as soon as we get them transferred over I will continue on with our Yellowstone adventure.  I had most all of those posts sorted, divided, categorized, and written, ready to go, but will need to start them over too.  But at least I have the pictures, right. 

Be patient,
I'm desperately attempting to be positive 
and to find the silver lining here

No, at the end of the day, It would be easy to ask the question:  Where is the Joy In the Journey with this one? . . .

I will simply say, there were so many tender mercies and little miracles along the way that I Know without doubt that my Heavenly Father was watching out for us and supporting us along the path of uncertainty and vulnerability.  

That, my friends is where the true joy in any Journey lies.

I'll look forward to seeing you soon with the continuation of our Yellowstone Backpacking adventure!

Until Then. . . 

have a wonderful day, and Thanks for stopping by to chat!