Homemade Vanilla Pudding

Homemade Vanilla Pudding


Ever run out of vanilla pudding mix? Concerned about the ingredients in pre-made vanilla pudding? Here is an easy recipe to make homemade vanilla pudding!



Homemade Vanilla Pudding

Ingredients

4 cups milk, divided
1 cup white sugar
6 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP butter

Directions

• In a pot on the stove heat 3 cups milk until the edges bubble
• Combine the salt and sugar in a separate bowl
• In a bowl (I actually use a plastic drinking cup), stir in 6 TBSP of corn starch into 1 cup milk, beat until smooth
• Add corn starched-milk slowly to heated milk, stirring constantly
• Add sugar and salt mixture to heated milk, stirring constantly
• Allow milk mixture to become hot and thick, but do not allow to boil. (look for the mixture to attach itself to your metal whisk)
• Remove from heat
• Add butter, stir until melted
• Add vanilla, stir
• Pour into serving dishes
• Chill before serving

This recipe originally appeared on Coupons, Deals and More back in 2011.


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I Take Terrible Photographs, How Can I Take Better Pictures?

How How Can I Take Better Pictures?


Those of you that have followed me for a while know I am a horrible photographer.  Simply awful.  I cut off heads, my pictures are blurry because I move at the last second, and the lighting is always wrong … to name but a few of the problems with my picture taking skills.   I can combat some of those problems by taking two or three shots of the same still life (not kidding), and photo editing programs have helped me center, take out redeye, clarify, etc., or my pictures would be even worse (if you can believe that!).

Sonny-boy has a great photography-eye.  Hubby and I tried to talk him into making it a minor years ago, but he wasn’t interested.  Maybe the old “if it is work it isn’t fun” theory applied?  I recall handing the camera over to Sonny-boy when he was as young as eight to take photos at family events and on vacation. It used to floor strangers who walked up to us and handed over their camera while requesting that either I, or my ex-husband, take their group photo, and instead we would hand the camera over to the kid.

We’d always reassured people that it was better this way, he has a real “eye” and we would also assure them that Sonny-boy’s photo would probably be their best one!  I always wished for contact info (this was before the days of prevalent email) to find out if they were happy with the picture(s) Sonny-boy took, but never was nervy enough to ask.  Based on what he did for us, I am sure those pics were pretty darned good.

So, any suggestions on how I can take better pictures?  I do not have an astigmatism, so that isn’t an excuse.  I bought a few light-boxes to set up a more controlled space, and now I am wondering if a new camera (ok a camera that isn’t point and shoot or my phone) is something I should look into? How important is camera equipment to a good photograph?  Hubby took the picture below during our Florida trip that is so fabulous, it looks Photoshopped.  It was taken with his blackberry!

Florida Vacation Pictures


Yup, with a blackberry!

Maybe I really am the world’s worst photographer and there is nothing that can be done?

Were you a terrible photographer who managed to turn it around? How’d you do it? Or have you always been able to take decent pics?  What (midpriced) cameras would you recommend for a total photospaz?  On the one hand I don’t want to waste money on something that isn’t going to help me, on the other hand, maybe I need to upgrade from my Droid to get better – or at least clearer – pictures?

I truly take terrible photographs, how can I take better pictures? Any help would be appreciated!

Disclosure   the links in this post may be affiliate links


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What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen

What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen


What To Do If Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen; steps to take when your credit card information is stolen.

Last year, my credit card information was stolen twice! The first time my CC company called me about suspicious activity, and the account was immediately closed without any fraudulent activity ever being added to my account. I was then sent new cards, and all was good.



Or so I thought.

Thereafter at least once a month I would get a call from the fraud alert department of my credit card company asking me if this-or-that charge was authorized. This was a giant PITA because Sonny-boy uses my card, and while some items were easily recognizable, other items I had to call back about later. Inevitably, every fraud alert call was a waste of my time … until it wasn’t.

While down in Florida in February of 2012, I received another call from my credit card company. Some inner sense must have kicked in, because instead of getting testy with another useless call, I was very pleasant to the rep calling.

The fraud agent asked me about some charges that were coming from somewhere in Europe. They were not mine, so all three were denied, and never hit the account. I thought all was well, when two weeks later I received yet another call. This time, over $1600 in charges that were not mine had been placed on my card in just a few days.

My credit card company emailed me a fraud statement that I had to sign. When I checked it to return, the dates did not match-up. I was looking at my paper statement, and the fraudulent charges started 2/8/12 not the 2/15/12 listed in the email.

After placing another call to my credit card company, we figured out another $2400 in fraudulent charges had been added to this card. Everything from adult websites to clothing stores to auto part retailers, and nearly all charges were from Europe or South America.

I saw a great deal of irony in the fact that so many of my valid charges were called upon for verification in the eight months prior, but a week long spat of overseas charges for adult entertainment was completely missed by my credit card company.

So what can you do to protect yourself from a cyber thief?

• While most major retailer websites have secure check-outs, always check for a secure feature (remember the lock on ie?)
• Try and use a credit card online that offers a one-time-use feature. Citibank is the only card I know of that currently has this feature, and is what hubby and I use for online purchases. You can be sure Sonny-boy will be applying when he gets home from spring break.
• Some credit cards allow you to receive an email alert for every charge to your card. It is a great way to keep tabs on your account activity.
• Many websites now accept paypal as payment. If your credit card is attached to your paypal account, it is another layer of protection against internet thieves.
• Know where your credit card is at all times. Sometimes you can’t keep the server that is swiping your card at a restaurant in sight at all times, but do try.
• Shred your old statements if you still receive paper ones. Make sure you shred your receipts too once you compare them to your bill for proper account reconciliation.

And what do you do if your information is stolen, and fraudulent charges are placed on your card?

• If you suspect your card has been compromised, contact the fraud department of your credit card to report the charge. Some credit cards accept verbal confirmation of an unauthorized charge, and will email you a form to email back to confirm you did not make these charges. Other credit card companies may require written verification. It is best to ask when you call the fraud department exactly what they want.
Here are the federal guidelines on stolen credit cards.
• Close your credit card and have a new one reissued. Yes, it is a pain, but so is never knowing when the next bad charge will arrive.
• And remember, if a website looks iffy, don’t buy there. Better safe than sorry.

And sometimes, there is nothing you can do. Very secure websites are compromised. Someone swipes the credit card image and you never saw it. There are all types of thieves out there that would rather use their talents for evil instead of good. Just remember that you are not liable for unauthorized charges, and while inconvenient, waiting for a new credit card is better than the alternatives.

Do you have any other thoughts on what to do if your credit card information is stolen?

Note: this post originally appeared on my old blog, Coupons, Deals and More.


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