Parcel Scam Alert

Below is a text I received on Christmas Eve, and it is a scam! Either they were phishing for information or worst:

+1 (402) 378-1378

Parcel Tracking: Hi, your package with tracking number ZZBURAHH is waiting for you to check the shipment address: spreadbrief.com/DemUgCq

It looked like it could have been legit with the a few problems:

  1. I never get text message starting in +1. I believe that to use +1 the message was probably sent from another country.
  2. I never seen a tracking number like “ZZBURAHH”. Personally, to me it sounds like “Brouhaha”
  3. I was only expecting packages from UPS or USPS.

First, I did a web search on the number. The results did not return any legitimate businesses. If a legit company was going to text me, I would expect to find their business on the web searching by their phone number.

Next I used WHOIS to look up the domain and I found problems:

  1. The domain was created the same day the text was sent.
  2. The domain owner was in another country.
  3. Most of the contact information on the domain was redacted for privacy. If you look at a legit company’s domain registration, such as UPS, they provide a mailing address and phone number.

Lastly, I emailed the text to myself and reported it to the domain provider. On WHOIS an email address is provided to report abuse.

Recommendation: Never click on a link you receive in a text or email.

Wood Tray with Folding Legs

Have you ever gone into a store and saw something and thought, “I could finish that item! If I did, my sister would love it”? That is exactly what happened to me earlier this year when I was strolling through Hobby Lobby.

Wood Tray with Folding Left finished by Sarah

The first step was to purchase the Wood Tray. If took me several trips to Hobby Lobby before I decided that I would work on this project. Next, I sanded all sides of the tray including the legs. Originally, I was going to stain the tray a traditional color. As I was looking through my collection of stain, I found Worn Navy by Rust-oleum. Perfect! My sister likes greens, blues, and teals. I painted the bottom of the tray with primer and stained the rest of the wood with Worn Navy. After it was dry, I placed a light coat of varnish over the stained area.

My original idea was to create a mosaic on the bottom of the tray with just leaves. I already had some leaves cut and baked which I made from Sculpey Clay, but I decided to add some flowers too. I used Sculpey Polymer Clay to make the flower petals and additional leaves. After everything was prepared and laid out, and even though it had a nice gradient, I decided it was too plain. I drew a tangle on every leaf, petal, and circle using acrylic paint pens. Each petal and leaf were glued to the bottom. Mint Puff Paint was used as the grout. I sprinkled three colors of glitter over the grout before it dried.

I seal all my work with polyacrylic before applying the resin. Sealing the piece helps to reduce the number of bubbles in the resins. My flavor resin to use is made by Art Resin. Their resin calculator is very useful.

I could of stop there and it would have been beautiful, but no I had to paint flowers on the outside edge and vines and leaves on the legs. I used acrylic paint pens. I like color, so the flowers were painted different colors.

After the painting was completed, I put a few more coats of polyurethane on the tray (sanding between each coat). You would think I was done. No! I was concerned that if it was stored, the legs would open at an inopportune time, hitting someone and causing an ouchy. Another trip to Hobby Lobby and I purchase belt buckles and ribbon and put my limited sewing techniques to work and made two straps. Again, they were a bit plain, so I used Puff Paint to paint flowers on the straps.

Flower Chests

These chests were a pain to sand and stain. An absolute pain. It took me over two years to complete them and at one point I almost tossed them in the garbage. The boxes were purchased from Hobby Lobby.

The problems: First the tops and sides of the boxes were so fragile they were difficult to sand. Second, I tried to use Minwax Gel Stain on the inside of the box – that went very poorly. On the plus side, this was a test of the Gel Stain before I put it on something much larger. I tossed the Gel Stain to never to be used again.

Three Nesting Boxes

First, I sanded the boxes and applied stain all over, even the areas I intended to paint. Second, I applied the first coat of varnish to the areas I was not going to paint. I apply varnish to seal the wood just in case I accidently got paint on unwanted areas of the boxes. Paint can easily be cleaned off the varnish areas before it dries, otherwise the paint would soak into the wood. Next, I painted the tops, sides, and the inside bottoms of the boxes using chalk paint.

After everything had dried and I was satisfied with the painting, I sanded the box again and applied another coat of varnish. Matte varnish on the painted areas and gloss varnish on the stained areas. Afterwards, I decided to add something extra. I created a mosaic pattern on the inside of the box, which I created from Sculpey Clay. I put a light coat of varnish on the bottom of the box before I poured resin over the pattern.

Since the bottom of the box was already painted. I didn’t see the need to fill the spaces with grout.

I still was not satisfied with color of the boxes. I wanted them to be darker. So, I lightly sanded the boxes with steel wool and applied a coat of Minwax Polyshade. It has stain and polyurethane.

Felt was added to the front and sides of the boxes because I thought if anyone wanted to store anything small in the boxes, it would just fallout through the holes.

Oreo Cream Cups

I did take pictures. I can now share my recipe. I came up with this recipe after spending hours looking at numerous recipes for different goodies ideas.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place large mixing bowl in freeze for at least 1 hour.
  2. Place Fillo Pastry Shells on a cookie sheet and bake according to the directions on the box. Let cool completely.
  3. Place 3 Oreo Cookies in a Ziplock bag and beat into fine crumbs. I use my meat mallet.
  4. When pastry shells are cool: Place 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels in shallow microwaveable bowl and place in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, microwave for 15 seconds and repeat until chocolate is smooth.
  5. Dip each pastry shell tops into chocolate. Let chocolate harden.
  6. Remove mixing bowl from freeze and add heavy whipping cream. Beat on high.
  7. Slowly had one box of Oreo Pudding to heavy whipping cream and continue to beat on high. Scrap bowl occasionally.
  8. Add vanilla extract. Beat on high until mixture in forms stiff peaks and can hold its shape. It should be the constituency of icing.
  9. Place part of the mixture in Ziplock bag. Cut of a tip of Ziplock bag and pipe the mixture into each pastry shell.
  10. Sprinkle Oreo crumbs on top of each pastry shell.

Christmas Trees 2021

Stuhr Musuem

Every year, the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Nebraska and the Hasting Museum allows individuals and organizations to decorate and display a Christmas Tree in their museums. Below is a dozen of these trees.

Stuhr Museum

Stuhr Museum
Stuhr Museum
Stuhr Museum
Stuhr Museum
Stuhr Museum
Hasting Museum
Hasting Museum
Hasting Museum
Hasting Museum
Hasting Museum

Hasting Museum

Easy Miniature Pies

These are some easy pies I made. I didn’t have a recipe, just an idea. This recipe would probably make twice as many pies, but 120 pies would be a lot of pies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans pie filling – different flavors (I used cherry and blueberry) *
  • 1 container of Philadelphia Cheesecake Filling
  • 4 boxes of Fillo Pastry Shells
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Directions:

  1. Cook Fillo Pastry Shells on a cookie sheet as directed on the box and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Prepare crumble topping by combining butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Stir until crumble is in small chunks.
  4. Place 20 of the Fillo Shells on a serving dish. Place about 1 tsp of Philadelphia Cheesecake Filling in each pastry shell. Top each cheesecake with about 1/2 tsp of pie filling. Place in refrigerator. Note: You will have cheesecake filling left over.
  5. Fill 20 of the Fillo Shells with approximately 1 tsp of the pie fillings each. Fill 20 of the Fillo Shells with the other pie filling. Sprinkle crumble on top. Note: You will have pie filling and crumble left over.
  6. Bake the miniature pies in oven until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Caution: Do not bake the Cheesecake Miniature pies.
  7. Let cool completely.
  8. Prepare Whipped Icing:
    1. Place a mixing bowl in freezer for at least 5 minutes.
    2. Beat heavy whipping cream on high speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar. Add Vanilla.
    3. Continue to beat on high speed until mixture forms peaks and can hold its shape.
  9. Place Whipped Icing in a piping bag, or a Ziplock bag with the end cut off, and pipe the icing over each of the pies.

* Please do not use store brand pie filling. Buy the good stuff.

Each box contains 15 Fillo Pastry Shells

Fillo Pastry Shell

The entire container of Philadelphia Cheesecake filling would probably fill about 60 Fillo Pastry Shells. I didn’t use it all because I wanted a variety of pies. Some cheesecake filling and the pie filling can be placed into a bowl and eaten, by the cook, while baking.

Good Stuff
Miniature Pies – The Whipped Icing taste like whipped cream.

Christmas Tree with Flowers

Merry Christmas! To celebrate I created a Christmas Tree with Flowers that is available for coloring. You may download the coloring page from this link Coloring Pages.

After the coloring page was completed. I decided it would be fun to recreate the tree in Tinkercad as a 3d Design. You may view, copy, change the 3D Design by using this link Christmas Tree with Flowers. If you have any question, please leave them in the comments.

Made with Tinkercad
Up close view of Christmas Tree with Flowers

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Oh, my house smelled so good after I made this cake. I started with the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Move oven rake to center position in oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray Bundt pan with Pam for Baking
  3. Wash and remove stems from blueberries. Drain and let dry on paper towel.
  4. In a small mixing bowl gently whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and white sugar. Beat on medium/medium high speed until mixture is creamy.
  7. Beat one egg at a time into sugar mixture.
  8. Add Vanilla into sugar mixture.
  9. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture; about 1/3 of flour mixture at a time and beat on low speed until combined. Scrap bowl well and beat on medium speed until fully combined.
  10. Stir in sour cream.
  11. Fold Blueberries into batter.
  12. Pour approximately 1/2 of the batter into the Bundt pan.
  13. Sprinkle about 1/2 of the cinnamon/pecan mixture over the batter in the pan.
  14. Gently add the remaining batter to the Bundt pan. Make sure the batter in even in the pan.
  15. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon/pecan mixture over the batter.
  16. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven.
  17. Check the cake the make sure it is done by sticking a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, continue to bake the cake and check for doneness every 5 minutes.
  18. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Place a folded dishrag on a countertop and gently tap the Bundt pan on dishrag to loosen. Invert cake on wire rack and let cool completely.
  19. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Low-carb Chocolate Mousse

I have been stocking up on the ingredients I need for my baking adventure. One staple ingredient is heavy whipping cream. Almost every grocery item I purchase; I check out the Nutrition Chart for calories, carb, sodium, etc. I wasn’t surprised, but I realized heavy whipping cream has zero carbs. One tablespoon of Hershey Cocoa has 3g carbs. An idea was formed. Chocolate Mousse – or at least that is what my taste tester said it tasted like.

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tbsp Splenda for Baking
  • 2 tsp Hershey Cocoa Powder

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Beat on low speed until all the ingredients are combined. About 30 seconds.
  3. Beat on high speed until the mixture fluffy, the consistency of icing. About 3 minutes.
  4. Place into serving dishes.

Note: This recipe will make about three 1/2 cup servings of Chocolate Mousse.

You may add more chocolate for a more chocolate taste. The more chocolate you add the more carbs you add.

Oreo Chocolate Bundt Cake

It’s that time again when the baking starts, and the goodies head off to work. I have several Nordic Ware Bundt pans, so this year I wanted to make some Bundt cakes for the baking season. After intense research, I decided to make an Oreo Chocolate Bundt cake. I started with the recipe from Liv for Cake.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup Hersey Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 Oreo cookies broken into chunks

Note: Room Temperature – I place the items on the counter until the butter is soften. The butter should hold it shape but easily dented. It usually takes about an hour obtain room temperature, depending on the temperature of the room and the butter.

Icing

  • 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Morsels
  • Powder Sugar (if needed)
  • 1/2 cup of Hershey White Chocolate Morsels

Decorations

  • 6 Oreo cookies crushed into crumbs
  • 30 Oreo whole cookies (Optional)
  • 2 12oz packages of Hershey White Chocolate Morsels (Optional)

Instructions:

The Basics

  1. Move oven rack to the center position
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  3. Spray Bundt pan with Pam for Baking and dust with cocoa powder

Cake

  1. In a small mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Whisk together until it takes on a chocolate color and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy. If using a hand mixer, scrap side of bowl regularly to make sure all ingredients are combined.
  3. Beat one egg at a time into the butter and sugar mixture, making sure it is thoroughly combined.
  4. Add vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture, making sure it is thoroughly combined.
  5. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat on low until combined.
  6. Add about a third of the milk to the mixture and beat on low until combined.
  7. Add about a third of the sour cream and beat on low until combined.
  8. Repeat step 5 – 7 until all the ingredients (except Oreos) are well blended together.
  9. Pour half of the cake batter evenly into the Bundt pan. Springle the Oreo chunks onto the Bundt pan. Cover the Oreo chunks with the remaining batter.
  10. Make sure the cake batter is spread evenly into the Bundt pan.
  11. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted unto the cake come out clean.
  12. Cool the cake for 10 minutes. Tap on the Bundt pan to loosen the cake and invert onto a cooling rack.
  13. Cool the cake completely. It will take several hours.
  14. Move the cake to the cake dish for icing and decorating.

Decorating – Optional

As an added bonus, I placed chocolate covered Oreos around the cake before Icing.

  1. Cover a work area with parchment paper to allow Oreos to harden.
  2. Place 12oz of white chocolate morsels in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Stir. Microwave for 15 seconds and stir again. Repeat until the morsels are completed melted and creamy (no chunks).
  4. Immediately, dip Oreos into white chocolate and place on parchment paper. Springle with the Oreo crumbs.

Note: I was able to make 15 covered Oreos with one 12oz bag of morsels.

Icing – Chocolate Ganache

  1. Once the cake has cool completed, you can put the Chocolate Ganache on top.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, place 1/2 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream. Microwave for 1 minute until cream is hot (not boiling).
  3. Add 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the mixture until it has the chocolate color. The mixture must be thin enough to pour on the cake, but not runny like water.
  5. Let the mixture sit for another 5 minutes and stir. If mixture is still too thin, keep repeating this step until the mixture is cool.
  6. If the mixture is still not thick enough, add 1 tsp of powder sugar to the mixture, stir well, until the mixture is at the right consistency.
  7. Pour evenly on top of the cake.
  8. Melt 1/2 cup of white chocolate morsel in microwave and drizzle over ganache.
  9. Springle the remaining crushed Oreos over the cake

The report from the office was that the cake was devoured. So, it was probably good.

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