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See How It Jiggles!

By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

In Texas right now, we are experiencing full blown spring!  And, in Tyler we are in the middle of the Azalea Trails Festival season.  Unfortunately, as in the case of many other years, someone forgot to tell good old Mother Nature the dates for the Festival, so she started the season a little too early and most of the blooms are no longer showing their brilliant colors, but rather are beginning to look a bit worn out and drab.  At least that would be the case for our azaleas.  However, there is still one more promise of beautiful blooms left for our yard when the Granny Smith apple tree will get all loaded up with the blossoms that will provide all the neighborhood squirrels with their annual dose of fruit during the summer.

My apple tree, a gift from two of my grandchildren 16 years ago, was planted, begrudgingly, in the front yard by my husband when we moved to our current home.  Just the same, this tree holds a great deal of meaning for me.  First and foremost, it was a gift from Ashleigh and Dylan, and secondly, it reminds me of the apple trees that surrounded the house where I grew up in Minnesota.

Those apple trees would bloom every year around Mothers’ Day, and being the creative youngster that I was, a bunch of the blossoms would be crafted into a corsage for my mom to wear to church.  My mom must have been a saint, because after I cut several small branches from the trees, I would wrap the stems in wet Kleenex and tin foil, and my mom, with the front of her dress damp and sagging, would wear her corsage to church with as much pride as a mom could muster!

Speaking of my mom, if you were to line up all the cooks in my family – living and/or dead – from the best to the worst, I’m afraid my mom would not have come in first!  It’s not that she was a bad cook, but there’s a book in my collection “The Gallery of Regrettable Food” by James Lileks that almost seems to showcase a lot of her recipes.  This book that was foodpublished in 2001 by Crown Publishers, comes with the disclaimer “This is not a cookbook.  You’ll find no tongue-tempting treats within…No, The Gallery of Regrettable Food is a public service.”  It is filled with “generous portions of hilarity and ghastly pictures from retro cookbooks, a lot of them I recognize from my mother’s collection.

One chapter delves into the mysteries of Jell-o in all shapes and forms.  In our house, Saturday was generally not complete unless my mom was in the kitchen whipping up a congealed (enough said) salad for lunch on Sunday.  I can remember her grating carrots, chopping walnuts, celery, and god knows what else, combining all of it with lemon Jell-o and pouring it into a mold with so much pride.  All I know about those salads is, as a kid, I hated them.  Once you had a bite of it in your mouth, it took FOREVER to chew up whatever solids were in them after the Jell-o melted away.  And, of course, in those days you had to clean your plate if you wanted to go back outside to play.

I don’t know if it is because of those memories that we don’t use much Jell-o in our house,  but about the only time we make it is if somebody has a bit of a stomach virus and that’s about it.  However, there is a recipe that my mother-in-law uses Jell-o in that really is pretty good.  We call it (are you ready for this?) Grandmother’s Pink Salad.  Ta-Da!  She takes a pint of small curd cottage cheese and sprinkles a package of dry raspberry, cherry, or strawberry Jell-o on top and then folds in a small can of crushed pineapple (drained) and a small carton of Cool Whip and refrigerates it before serving.  And, here’s some good news for those of my readers who have indicated a dislike for cottage cheese; you can make it without the curd and it is just as good!  It really has a great taste and texture, but not the ubiquitous look of the wiggly, molded salad with an assortment of floating vegetables in it like those I grew up with.  And, talk about easy and yummy!  Yup!  Now scoot to the kitchen!  You know you want some!

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TJC Connect LIVE offers Sessions on Admissions, Financial Aid and More


TJC Connect LIVE offers Daily Virtual Info Sessions on Admissions, Financial Aid and More

Tyler Junior College is hosting free, virtual information sessions to help students and parents engage with TJC staff and get the answers they need when they can’t visit the College in person.

TJC Connect LIVE, held at 2 p.m. weekdays on the Zoom video-conferencing platform, covers a variety of topics such as admissions, advising, career planning, financial aid, Presidential Honors, the TJC Promise, and a student-led panel.

Sessions are held in real-time, allowing students and parents to ask questions and interact with TJC staff and students.

Schedule of daily sessions:

• Monday, April 20: Admissions

• Tuesday, April 21: Career Planning

• Wednesday, April 22: Financial Aid

• Thursday, April 23: Scholarships

• Friday, April 24: Admissions

• Monday, April 27: Admissions

• Tuesday, April 28: Student Panel

• Wednesday, April 29: Financial Aid

• Thursday, April 30: Presidential Honors Program

• Friday, May 1: Admissions

To register, go to

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Avoiding Covid-19 Related Scams

By BBB Serving Central East Texas, Start With Trust®

As consumers and businesses adapt to extended stay-at-home orders, scammers likewise adjust their tactics to take advantage. And as April is National Secure Your Identity month, Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) warns consumers about an increasing number of Covid-19 related scams aimed at compromising personally identifiable and account information.

Many of these are old scams tailored to fit Covid-19. Since the outbreak, BBB Scam Tracker has received 357 scams filed with reported losses of $46,861.

“Times of uncertainty are ideal times for scammers to prey on fear,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas said. “The bottom-line is don’t respond to a text, email or phone call from a sender that is unfamiliar, even if it looks official or from a respected agency or official.”

BBB advises consumers to be on the lookout for the following Covid-19 related scams:

Employment Scams. Many in the East Texas area were laid off or furloughed recently and may be looking for work online in the wake of coronavirus shutdowns. Fraudsters find ways to take advantage of this by posting phony work-from-home jobs promising remote work with good pay and no interview required. These cons often use real company names and can be very convincing. The common thread with bogus employment scams is that they will require you to pay upfront for training, equipment, or they will “overpay” you and ask you to wire back the difference.

Phony Cures and Fake Masks. BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of people receiving emails and messages claiming that, for a price, they can buy products the government is supposedly keeping secret – ways to prevent or cure coronavirus. Medical experts are working hard to find a coronavirus vaccine, but none currently exists.

Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check) Scams. As soon as stimulus packages were announced and approved, scammers quickly got to work sending out fake economic impact checks and asking consumers to pay fees to get their money earlier than what was promised. These claims are false and open consumers to the risk of identity theft and outright theft of the funds in their bank account.

Phishing Scams. Several people are now working from home and con artists have stepped up their phishing scams. They may claim to be from an official department of the employer to offer IT support or claim the company-issued computer has a virus. They may use scare tactics, stating the computer will crash if you don’t act immediately, all in an attempt to gain access to your computer remotely or to your personal or company’s information.

Government Impersonation. Another common phishing scam brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is fake emails and text messages claiming the government needs you to take an “online coronavirus test” by clicking a link they provide. No such test currently exists but if you click on the link, scammers can download malware onto your computer and gain access to your sensitive personal information.

Mandatory Testing. BBB has received reports from seniors reporting that they are receiving text messages from scammers posing as the U.S. Department of Health, about taking a mandatory online COVID-19 test in order to receive the recently approved stimulus payment. Others are receiving emails stating they qualify for a payment and to click on a link to claim a check.

“Never make uneducated decisions, click on links in unsolicited emails or links, or provide any personal or account information to people you don’t know,” Mills said.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer during this outbreak, go to Please go to or call 903-581-5704 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.

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BBB: Income Sources Amid Stay-at-Home Orders

Government mandates across East Texas have caused local businesses to close their doors and establish remote work procedures. While many have been able to remain operational, others result in job losses. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas provides consumers with resources for supplemental income opportunities and local job postings to mitigate lost income.

“Last week, the Department of Labor reported an increase of three million unemployment claims,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas said. “This is the highest number reported since 1982 when there were 695,000 claims.”

Significant job cuts have affected retail and service industries, but some are adjusting to social distancing by providing alternate work for employees such as restaurants moving servers to takeout orders. However,  If these opportunities were not available for you, here are some tips on how to start looking for remote work or other job opportunities.

Assess your skills. If you worked as a sales associate or server, consider using your customer service skills to work for a call center remotely. Consider if your previous specialty can be done remotely for another company.

Do your homework. Search for companies or businesses which are hiring in your area. If you consider companies outside of your area, make sure you perform proper research on that company, as there are many fraudulent opportunities online.

Update your resume. Be sure to include your interest in working remotely and remember to add your knowledge or experience working with web conferencing/communication tools.

Look for job postings or staff agencies. Consider staffing agencies in your area which can match your skills with a hiring organization. If using an online service, be on the lookout for fake companies. Also reach out to local grocery companies, restaurants, an essential business, or any retail establishment which may be offering delivery as a new service. Remember to do thorough research on any company you are interested in working for.

Use freelancing job sites. Some sites like Upwork provide individuals with remote work opportunities such as translating, writing, designing and more.

Start with trust. Before going to any job site or answering any ad, research the company’s reputability on Avoid job opportunities which require you to pay upfront fees or will not conduct a face to face interview, even if it is via web conferencing software. Never provide banking or social security numbers until you have been hired for a legitimate position.

Please remember, that if you are considering working out of the home during this season to practice the safety guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the safety of yourself, those you love, and those you will be in contact with.

For more tips on how to be a savvy business owner, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.

ABOUT BBB®: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB serving Central East Texas opened their Tyler office in 1985 and serves 19 counties in East Texas.






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