Tag Archives: personal

The Art of Avoiding the Scam

As technology evolves to secure our identities, so has scammers’ creativity and resourcefulness to steal it. While we may think we’re savvy enough to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, the reality is that we’re all susceptible to the threat. Secure yourself with these helpful tips.

Don’t give out personal information unless you’ve initiated contact. Scammers will contact you by phone, mail, and even email requesting personal information. Never give out that information unless you’ve initiated contact or know exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Avoid logging on to personal accounts on public computers. This can make your information accessible to the next person who uses it. Additionally, accessing your checking account via public Wi-Fi puts your information at risk. Only use your personal computer on a private, trusted Wi-Fi signal to access any information that people could use to do you harm.

Create strong passwords. Make it something challenging for others to guess by interchanging E with 3, switching between upper and lowercase, and adding special characters. For example, if you wanted to make your password “animal”, a better alternative might be @N!mA1. That’s much harder to guess and still easy to remember.

Check your credit report annually to look for any discrepancies. The three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

Secure your debit and credit cards. You can sign up for digital wallets, which help add a layer of security to your debit and credit cards by encrypting the card information. You can also sign up for purchase alerts where you’re notified via phone and/or email if a certain parameter, such as a dollar amount on a transaction, is hit. It’s also a good idea to let your financial institution know if you’ll be traveling to prevent your card from becoming locked due to unfamiliar transactions.

Being proactive and staying on top of your credit and finances goes a long way toward protecting yourself from scammers; however, if you find you’re already a victim, visit https://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack to learn what your next steps should be.


Article provided by Member One

Serve it Up Sassy: Just a Note to Say…

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“You’re the syrup on my pancakes, you’re the sugar in my tea, you’re the icing on my cupcakes, you’re the sweets in life for me, you’re the chocolate on my ice cream, you’re the sweet grapes in my wine, you’re everything I love in life, and will you be my Valentine?” –Dr. Don Stoltz

In keeping with the note-writing theme and desserts, this intimate Valentine soiree begins with a cute one-of-a-kind envelope backdrop. Several 4 x 5 ½ inch white envelopes with the back flap facing forward are lined up side-by-side and row- by- row creating a subtle chevron pattern. A singular hot pink envelop draws attention to the overall scheme. The table is draped with a hot pink tablecloth with the classic white serving dishes and pedestals displaying the decadent desserts. Three outstanding desserts include Strawberry Linzer Cookies, Cupid Cupcakes and Cherry “envelope” Pastries. Envelope folded pink cloth napkins are neatly pressed and dress-up the table. Mini petit fours, chocolates and cinnamon imperials were purchased to round out the buffet. The cupid cupcakes are vanilla with pink fondant. A heart- shaped cupid cookie mold made the cute impression. The cupcakes are served up sassy in a white lace paper wrapper. Fruited water, hot tea and coffee could be served as choice beverages.

As the soiree comes to a close, send a lovely valentine home with your guests; perhaps a small gift box containing chocolate truffles or petit fours along with a hand-written personalized friendly word. An unknown poet penned this relevant quote, “Not always is a Valentine composed of fancy paper with buds and birds, and clever words and cupids a la caper, oh birds and darts and sugar hearts are very sweet and fine, but often just a friendly word will make a Valentine.”

Make every day as special as Valentine’s Day and send a note that is signed, sealed and delivered by YOU!

On a personal note,

I would like to thank you for reading my articles and for all the sweet compliments and encouraging words that many of you have expressed. You bless my heart and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you.

With warmest and highest regards, Liz

single cupid cupcake 1 AACupid Cupcakes      

1-18.25 ounce package white cake mix
1-3 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
3- egg whites
1-1/3 cup water
1/3- cup vegetable oil
1- teaspoon vanilla or extract of choice
1 container Vanilla Buttercream frosting-purchased
1 pound white fondant- tested Fondarific
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar for rolling fondant
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Pink food coloring color paste or gel
Cupid heart-shaped cookie mold
2- inch round cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, add cake mix, pudding mix, egg whites, water, oil, and flavoring.
Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, be sure to scrape down sides and bottom of mixing bowl. Pour batter into cupcake liners filling ½ full.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
To Frost and Decorate:
Lightly frost cakes butter cream frosting. Knead fondant until soft and pliable, add pink food coloring, knead until blended. On confectioner sugar coated surface, roll out fondant ¼ inch thick.
Gently brush cookie mold with confectioner’s sugar, press cookie mold onto fondant using straight up and down motion. Cut a 2- inch circle around the cupid heart imprint. Repeat for all cupcakes. Place rounds on top of cupcakes. 

close up linzer plateStrawberry Linzer Cookies    
½ cup butter, softened
1/3cup sugar
1/3cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup strawberry jam
Sparkling coarse sugar


Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and confectioners sugar until light and creamy.
Add egg yolk, lemon extract and heavy whipping cream.
Add flour and salt to creamed mixture. Beat until combined.

Shape dough into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.
Roll out chilled dough to ¼ inch thick. Using a 1 3/4 –inch scalloped-edge round cutter, cut 24 cookies, reroll dough and repeat. Place cookies on baking sheet.
Using a small heart shaped cutter, cut out center on 12 cookies. Bake tiny hearts on separate baking sheet if desired.
Refrigerate cookies before baking for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake cookies 15-20 minute’s, do not brown tops or bottoms.
When cookies are cool, spread ½ teaspoon jam between whole cookie and top with cutout cookie. Sprinkle coarse sugar or confectioners sugar on top of cookies. Serve immediately or freeze cookies with out jam. Let cookies thaw before filling.

single pastry 1ACherry Envelope Pastry
1 package refrigerated piecrust
1 can cherry pie filling
½ cup sparkling sugar
¼ cup whipping cream
One 4 x 5 inch paper envelope
One small heart shaped cookie cutter

Unroll pastry on floured surface. Open a 4 x 5 ½ inch paper envelope and use as a pattern. Reduce the pattern to make a smaller envelope if desired. Trace pattern onto parchment paper. This is your pattern. Cut pastry into 4 envelopes and 4 small heart shaped cut outs. Fill pastry with cherry pie filling, but not on the back flap. Following the folds of the paper envelope, fold the cutout pastry, leaving the upper flap open. Place heart cut-out on folded edges of pastry envelope. Place pastry on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with whipping cream then sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake pastry at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not remove from baking sheet until completely cool.  

Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®
Liz Bushong, Serve it up Sassy! ™

To purchase cookbooks, find recipes, cooking, and decorating demonstrations, go to www.lizbushong.com.