A Labor Day Dump Cake

Are you entertaining this long weekend ?  How about a dump cake for dessert.  Not just any dump cake , but a:

{caramel & chocolate} Turtle Dump Cake

1 small box (3.4 oz) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix1 1/2 cups whole milk3/4 cup caramel sauce, divided1 box (15.25 oz) chocolate fudge cake mix, DO NOT prepare1 bag dark chocolate chips1/2 cup chopped pecans

It had me at caramel.  Here are the particulars for the cake:

You only need 6 ingredients! A boxed cake mix, instant pudding, dark chocolate chips, caramel sauce (like the stuff you put on ice cream), pecans, and some milk. Super simple and you can have this in the oven in just about 10 minutes. Maybe 5 if you’re fast 🙂 

Together as family author writes:

“I am normally not a fan of dark chocolate chips so I was hesitant to use them in this dessert. But I did it anyways and I am so glad I did. With so much other sweetness going on, the dark chocolate really balances everything else out. So please use the dark chocolate chips!

Top each serving with some vanilla ice cream and if wanted, drizzle some of the extra caramel sauce on top and/or some melted chocolate. I just melted some chocolate chips with about a teaspoon of oil in the microwave. The oil helps the chocolate be silky and smooth. Drizzle that over each serving if wanted.

I don’t think it needs the chocolate or caramel drizzle because the cake is so rich and moist by itself, but it never hurts to have more”


    • 1 small box (3.4 oz) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 3/4 cup caramel sauce, divided
    • 1 box (15.25 oz) chocolate fudge cake mix, DO NOT prepare
    • 1 bag dark chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
optional drizzle
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon oil (canola, vegetable, coconut)
  • leftover 1/4 cup caramel sauce


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In large bowl, stir dry pudding mix and milk with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, the dry cake mix, and 1 cup of the dark chocolate chips. Stir until well blended.
  • Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle pecans and remaining 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips over top.
  • Bake 32-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out almost clean. It should not be completely cooked like a cake, you want it gooey so to speak.
  • Scoop up some of the dump cake into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. If wanted, drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce and the chocolate sauce.
  • TO MAKE CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE : combine chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it is completely melted and smooth.


I use the caramel ice cream topping. You can use any caramel you want, as long as it’s in liquid/melted form. Melt down some caramel squares, etc….


Makes my mouth water looking at that picture.  If you make one, let me know how it tastes.  Hers’s a link for more–


Simple Changes That Helped Me Lose 45 Pounds—and Keep It Off

Slide 1 of 8: Katie Dunlop's journey began after college, as she found herself 45 pounds overweight and tired of the ups and downs of fad diets and trendy workout plans. She started to look for small changes that might add up over time. Her first mission was to search and destroy mindless munching. Every night as a pre-dinner snack, Dunlop used to nibble cheese and crackers while cooking. 'I didn't necessarily need that,' she says. Instead of banning this pre-dinner ritual all at once, Dunlop decided to cut out the cheese for a few days, and then phase out the crackers. 'Food habits are the hardest thing to change, so finding little 'tweaks' became hugely important,' she says. Here are 12 more weight loss before and after photos that will motivate you.

Slide 3 of 8: An often-overlooked step of successful weight loss: organizing. Dunlop says that cleaning out old junk food in her pantries helped get her in a positive, healthy mindset. Get rid of those bags of Oreos, potato chips, and chocolate kisses. You will find that the 'out of sight, out of mind' trick really does work. Research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab shows that when food is visible, we're more likely to grab it. The study authors also found that normal-weight women were more likely to have a designated cupboard for snack items, and were less likely to buy food in large-sized packages than those who are overweight.
Photos by Katie Dunlop of love sweat fitness.  Article from Readers Digest.

I’m a Burglar—Here’s How to Outsmart Me

This long Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to put these tips to good use.

Slide 1 of 13: The investigative team at Portland, Oregon, news station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they'd think twice if they saw a car in a driveway. Check out these other ways you can make it look like you're home when you're not.

drpnncpptac / shutterstock



One deterrent not mentioned in the article is a couple of lights attached to timers that go on and off at different times of the night.  Highly effective.

The article can be found at:



5 Tips to Get More Creative Writing Fiction

Anyone can sit down and start writing fiction, but not everyone can sit down and start writing good fiction. Learning how to write fiction is an art form that takes a lot of patience, practice and determination (it also is nice to get a little help, which is where we come in). To get you started, here are five fiction writing tips to help you improve your craft.

1. Start with tension

Time and time again you’ll hear fiction writers and instructors tell you to start with action. This is flawed advice. Why? What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s better to start with tension, like a character falling short on getting something he wants—can’t save the life of a loved one, can’t beat a rival in a race, etc.

2. Know what your characters’ wants are

Interesting stories come from characters who want something. Romeo and Juliet want each other. Harry Potter wants to beat Draco Malfoy and Slytherin in Quidditch. Hannah Baker wants the people who led her to commit suicide know how they hurt her. Writing a fiction book requires that you have compelling characters, and characters who have strong wants and desires are the most compelling kind there are.

3. End each chapter on a cliff

OK, you don’t have to end each chapter on an actual cliff, but you do need to leave them with unanswered questions. This doesn’t mean you can’t answer questions during the book, it just means you need to create new ones as you go along. Be creative. Fiction is built on the curiosity of readers. If you don’t spark their curiosity (especially at the end of a chapter), what incentive do they have to start the next one?

4. Give your characters obstacles

The obstacles can be as difficult as you want (and should be pretty darn difficult to help spice up the story). But the key here is that they have to be able to overcome the obstacle no matter what it is—drug addiction, in love with a person who’s on the antagonist’s side, etc. Fictional writing is strongest when characters face tough odds and still come through in the end.

5. Understand your audience

Are you writing a fantasy novel? A crime novel? Erotica? Fiction genres are different and are told in different ways, so audiences of each have different expectations that you need to cover. For example, if you’re writing crime fiction, you have to reveal what happened early and spend the novel solving the crime (and the whodunit). If you’re writing a thriller, your story is dedicated to characters trying to stop whatever it is from happening.

Great advice from the writers at Writers Digest:


12 Avocado Breakfast Ideas That Are WAY More Exciting Than Toast

Please bear with me on this post.  Avocado in the morning is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Nor a salad either.   But here are 12 breakfast ideas that might pique your interest to try one, or two or twelve. My first choice is going to be Mexican Scrambled Eggs.  Need not be just for breakfast either.  Brunch anyone ?





scrambled eggs in a jar

con poulos photo

Cheddar, Pepper, And Avocado Scrambled Eggs In A Jar

Your morning eggs just got way more portable thanks to this handy trick from Woman’s Day. Prep your jar overnight, microwave in the morning, add a hefty dose of avo, and you’re good to go for a tasty avocado breakfast.

Get the recipe

Per jar: 356 cal, 25 g fat (10.5 g sat fat), 788 mg sodium, 26 g protein, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber


Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Upgrade scrambled eggs with a tasty homemade salsa (featuring avocado, natch) with this recipe from Woman’s Day.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 210 cal, 14 g fat (3 g sat fat), 375 mg sodium, 13 g protein, 18 g carbs, 6 g fiber

baked avocado with egg and ham

Jason varney photo

Avocado, Ham, And Egg Cups

For a super-filling (and low-carb!) avocado breakfast, try cracking an egg into the center as shown in this Prevention recipe. So. Good.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 267 cal, 21.5 g fat (4.5 g sat fat), 12 g protein, 9 g carb, 7 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 513 mg sodium.

flatbread with avocado, cauliflower, and chickpeas

mike garten photo

BBQ Chickpea & Cauliflower Flatbreads with Avocado Mash

If you’re still extremely committed to avocado toast, upgrade to a flatbread version from Good Housekeeping, which is topped with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 500 calories, 25 g fat (4 g sat fat), 915 mg sodium, 65 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 11 g protein

avocado bacon kale and egg grain bowl

khaul hymore photo

Bacon, Egg, And Kale Bowl

Nutritionists are always saying to eat more greens at breakfast…if you slap a fried egg and some avocado on top of this veggie grain bowl fromPrevention, you won’t even be mad about it.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 381 cal, 20 g fat (4.5 g sat fat) 16 g protein, 37 g carb, 8 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 480 mg sodium

BLT with fried egg and avocado

mike garten photo

Fully Loaded Fried-Egg BLT

Make the world’s best sandwich breakfast-friendly with a fried egg and some mashed avocado. My mouth is watering just looking at that pic, TBH.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 410 cals, 24 g fat (6 g sat), 20 g protein, 29 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 745 mg sodium

green avocado smoothie

mitch mandel photo

Perfect Fruit And Veggie Smoothie

If you hate the taste of bananas in your smoothie (some people do!) use avocado instead like in this recipe from Prevention. You’ll get similar creaminess and thickness—with an extra dose of healthy fats.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 396 cal, 13 g fat (3 g sat fat), 26 g protein, 45 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 28 g sugar, 489 mg sodium


Minimalist Baker photo
Savory Breakfast Salad

A salad…for breakfast? Yep, breakfast salads are totally a thing, and I guarantee you’ll be on board once you sink your fork into this combo of sweet potatoes, blueberries, and avocado.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 523 cal, 37.9 g fat (12.1 g sat fat), 7.5 g protein, 57.6 g carbs, 15 g fiber, 15.3 g sugar, 156 mg sodium



Chelsea Kyle photo
Easy Vegan Breakfast Tacos

Breakfast tacos are hard evidence that these packed tortillas are ALWAYS a great idea—morning, afternoon, or night. But if you’re vegan, most breakfast tacos (which often contain eggs) are off the table. Until now! Try out this plant-based version, which features scrambled tofu.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 372 cal, 13.4 g fat (2.1 g sat fat), 18.6 g protein, 51 g carbs, 14.6 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 523 mg sodium


Loaded Veggie Avocado Quinoa Frittatas

These mini frittatas are packed with healthy ingredients, like quinoa, eggs, spinach, red peppers, and, of course, avocado. Not to mention, they contain nearly five grams of protein per tiny frittata.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 113 cal, 5 g fat, 4.8 g protein, 12.6 g carbs, 2.2 g fiber, 1 g sugar

Woman's Day savory corn waffle 

con poulos photo

Savory Corn Waffles With Tomato Herb Salad

Avocado toast, meet avo waffles. These waffles from Woman’s Day are topped with tomatoes, avocado, and fresh herbs (and a ranch-like dressing)—perfect if you hate super-sweet breakfasts.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 305 cal, 15.5 g fat (6.5 g sat fat), 8 g protein, 450 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 4 g fiber

breakfast chilaquiles with avocado

Breakfast Chilaquiles

Yes, it is 100 percent acceptable to have chips for breakfast—especially when they’re slathered with avocados, pico de gallo, and sour cream like in this Good Housekeeping recipe.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 495 cal, 32 g fat (9 g sat fat), 19 g protein, 36 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 915 mg sodium

OK. Did any one of these make your mouth water for avocado in the a.m. ? I hope you are saying, “Yes. Yes they did”, because my mouth is and I just ate.


These 8 Foods Are Most Likely to Trigger Arthritis Flares

Raise your hand if you have arthritis.  Millions suffer with this disease that causes inflammation, swelling, and joint pain.  Here are some foods to avoid if you do have arthritis.

Protect your joints against pain and inflammation by avoiding these arthritis trigger foods.


iStock/Ben Harding

One of the foods to avoid with arthritis are dairy products. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can specifically flare up in response to the proteins found in dairy. Some people with RA are actually intolerant to proteins found in milk; their bodies form antibodies to milk proteins, and attack those proteins when they’re found in the body, according to the mmittee for Responsible Medicine. But not everyone reacts the same way to milk—or to other various types of dairy. In a 2015 study of women with osteoarthritis, milk improved knee pain but cheese actually made it worse. Experiment to see how foods tend to affect your particular type of arthritis.

Fried foods


A study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that cutting back on fried, processed food may reduce inflammation in the body. Fried foods contain lots of saturated fats, which can worsen inflammation. Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, suggests switching to unsaturated fats, like olive oil, rather than butter, to see improvements in symptoms.



Processed sugars found in many prepackaged snack foods release an inflammatory trigger called cytokines into the body that can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, making it another one of the foods to avoid with arthritis. A study published in the journal Rheumatology found that participants reported immediate painful symptoms after indulging in refined sugar and sweets. Researchers believe that the increase in painful symptoms is a result of increased glucose levels.



Meats are higher in fats and calories, which are easily metabolized into chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. It’s worse if you grill, sear, or fry meats at high temperatures because that mouth-watering charred flavor is actually from toxins called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that damage proteins in the body. AGEs are broken apart by cytokines, which can then cause inflammation. “We expect that increased levels of AGEs increase inflammation, although a direct link to arthritis is not firmly established,” says Jaime Uribarri, MD, a nephrologist at Mount Sinai Hospital who has lead many studies on the topic.

White flour-based products


White foods are bad news for arthritis. We’re talking white rice, potatoes, breads, and crackers—all of which contain refined carbohydrates. These foods also hike production of AGEs and cause inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The molecular structure of refined (aka white) grains is fairly simple: “The body turns them into sugar more quickly, and sugar is highly inflammatory,” says Barbara Olendzki, nutrition program director of the Center for Applied Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Choose whole or multi-grain carbohydrate options whenever possible. If you don’t want to give up all your favorites for good, learn how to cook white rice and potatoes in a way that increases resistant starch.



Sorry, java lovers. Coffee has been linked to increased chance of developing RA and it’s one of the foods to avoid with arthritis. Researchers believe that some ingredients in coffee trigger rheumatoid factor, which can later progress to RA, although the findings are based on a study of Finnish coffee drinkers who drank boiled coffee, which may influence its impact on the body. However, it’s still cause for concern. A 2009 study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy found that even decaffeinated coffee contributed to the development of RA and suggests switching to antioxidant-rich tea.



Gluten, a sticky protein found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, oats, and rye, can promote inflammation. People who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which gluten prompts the body to literally attack certain food proteins and injuring the digestive tract should go 100 percent gluten-free, as should arthritis patients who have gluten intolerance, a less serious condition that can still trigger inflammation and other symptoms. Nutritionist and health expert Joy Bauer suggests that people with certain types of arthritis get tested for celiac disease, as they are both autoimmune diseases that often occur together.



Alcohol doesn’t just impact liver function, it also disrupts interactions between other organs, potentially causing inflammation. Although some research suggests that red wine can help to keep the heart, muscles, and joints healthy, a 2006 study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that excessive use of alcohol increases the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Stick with a maximum of one glass a day for women, two for men.

This article was published in Reader’s Digest



Is This National Brush-a-Turtle Day ?

One gracious visitor to the Singapore Botanic Gardens has evidently found the key to the hearts of a group of turtles living there.

a group of people sitting at a beach© Nur Hafiza Ariffin

That key? Well, it’s a brush.While paying a visit to the gardens recently, Nur Hafiza Ariffin happened upon a curious scene. There, crouched on the banks of a pond in the park, was a lady wielding a bristled scrubber.

Ariffin clearly wasn’t the only one who noticed.

In front of the lady, dozens of turtles were eagerly emerging from the water — lining up so she could give them a scrub.

Ariffin believes the woman’s aim was to help rid the turtles’ shells of algae, a thoughtful offer they appeared delighted to accept.

“Spreading kindness in every way possible,” Arrifin wrote. “[The turtles] happily came towards her to get their backs cleaned, and once it was done they cutely walked off.”

“Such a heartwarming sight,” she added.

a turtle in the grass© Giphy

Needless to say, a good time was had by all. Turns out, even if a turtle doesn’t need cleaning, they seem to enjoy the feeling of bristles on their shells. In fact, that’s one recommended way of petting them.

It’s no wonder then that the lady Ariffin saw that day is so popular among the locals.

A feel-good story from:


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