Southern Tomato Cucumber Salad

Lol, you know any salad automatically becomes a “southern” salad when you add a cup of sugar to it. And this southern tomato cucumber salad recipe certainly does contain almost that much sugar!

But it’s still one of my favorite summertime side dishes. I just made a batch for this weekend so decided to share the recipe while it’s fresh on my mind.

It’s very easy to make too. Check it out.

Ingredients
1 white onion, chopped
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
3-4 large cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper

Instructions
1) Put chopped onion, tomatoes, cucumbers into a large bowl or Tupperware.

2) Heat water, sugar, vinegar, black pepper until sugar is completely dissolved.

3) Pour this mixture onto the chopped vegetables. The mixture might not cover the entire batch of chopped vegetables – if not, make sure to toss the vegetables frequently in the next couple of hours to ensure the flavors get absorbed evenly. The first couple hours are most important for this.

4) Refrigerate overnight. Stir occasionally to ensure flavors are well-integrated.

5) Enjoy. 🙂

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So Close to Freedom! (Update Post)

So remember my post from a few weeks ago when I was fussing about my husband working from home ever since covid? And it was making me crazy? The link is here if you wanted a refresher…

Well… The update is that his work is making him go back to his physical office starting next week! And they dropped his raise from 20% to 10% due to all the inconvenience he caused.

Holy cow, I am so relieved! I don’t know how much longer I could survive being trapped in the house non-stop with him. To have a break everyday is exactly what I needed. Woohoo!

Now… I just need to wait-out getting the college kid out of the house too. He’s been home ever since covid bc his classes were all online this year. But starting August, he *should be* back on campus full-time instead! I cannot wait!

And my 10yr old daughter has been in school in-person this whole time anyway so she’s been out of house more than all the rest of us combined!

I have a light at the end of my tunnel now. I’m so happy! 🙂

FYI – my husband should’ve taken the 20% raise right off the bat. I hope he’s learned his lesson.

7 Creepy Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You

I definitely prefer to remain anonymous on my social media. The reason for this is because I’ve had issues with an online stalker before. And my blog and my social media is my escape from my real life where I can be free to be myself or even vent about my real life situations without any consequences. This is the only outlet I have.

For example, if I need to vent about work or my family or my friends or my neighbors, then it wouldn’t work out for me very well if any of them found out about it. I’d end up with some extreme negative fallout to deal with and many broken relationships too.

On the other hand, I’d end up severely censoring myself if I felt that my words could be visible to people in my real life. And if I censored myself here, then it would completely lose its purpose for me.

So anonymity is of paramount importance to me. How about you all? Do you care about it as much as I do? Or am I being a weirdo?

But this isn’t my first attempt at an anonymous online presence. I ended up having to completely shut down my previous attempts and go dark on the internet for a few years to recover after I had an online stalker obsessed with me. It was horrible.

It was a person in my real life that used this information they found against me, and threatened to use it to destroy my job and my relationships. The violation of my privacy was so painful. This was information that I never would have told anyone in my real life. But he found it. And took it. It felt like a theft of my most prized possession – my sense of self worth.

But I learned several lessons from this experience. And now I’m ready to try anonymity online again. But here is a list of the 7 creepy ways an online stalker can find you…

1) Name Search. So I never used my real name online, but this is the most obvious way to find someone. Once the stalker knows your anonymous name however, you’re basically discovered on all social media platforms.

2) Phone Number / Contacts. Most social media accounts have apps to download on your cell phone. And once you do that, you are exposed to all your contacts. Most social media accounts make it an option to activate this. But don’t trust it. This option may default ON, exposing you immediately. And phone system upgrades may also default this option to ON. So if your stalker ever had your phone number, this is a major risk.

I ended up buying cellular service for my iPad, which comes with its own phone number that I’ve shared with NOBODY. And I only download my Pepper Valentine apps to this iPad. So there is no phone number cross-contamination with contacts to worry about.

7 Creepy Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

3) “People You May Know” / “Suggested For You”. This is another option on social media accounts, but don’t trust it either. Because it defaults to ON and may also reset back to ON with any system upgrades. It can use your contacts as well as your Friends list to recommend. The scary thing about this, is that you don’t have to be online friends with your stalker. BUT if you share any mutual friends online, then this option will expose you!

I’ve completely cut off any potential mutual friends online in order to reduce this risk.

7 Creepy Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

4) Close Online Friends. My stalker knew who my closest online friends were. In order to find me, he would stalk their accounts too. He scoured their followings and followers, monitored their likes and comments to find who *seemed* like it could be me, and even befriended them himself under a decoy account to gather intel.

5) Decoy Accounts. Beware the people that engage with you online. You never really know who they are. My stalker would create many decoy accounts to try to access private accounts as well as lure the unsuspecting into giving him information about who they are following. He would maintain online relationships for MONTHS under his decoys to build trust. This is definitely a level of creepy that is unacceptable.

6) Email Address. I finally discovered that my stalker would use my email address to validate if an account was actually mine or not. He knew my email. So once he suspected an online account might be mine, he would attempt the Password Reset… and, the results of the password reset would give him enough data (the first 2 characters, number of characters, and then the email service) to determine if that account was me or not.

I’ve had to create a new email address specifically for setup only of any Pepper Valentine accounts, and I don’t use it anywhere else (not even for my contact forms or subscription forms) in order to prevent this validation check.

7 Creepy Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

7) Hashtags / Tags. If you hashtag something that your online stalker is aware that you are involved in, then he may search the hashtags online and find you that way. For example, if he knows you went to the beach for a week or that you work at Jumping Jack Coffee, then he may stalk those hashtags online and the MINUTE you tag/hashtag that place, then he’s got your post and your profile exposed.

In conclusion, if anonymity online is important to you, please take action to reduce your risks. It’s never guaranteed that you’ll be 100% safe, but you can be safer than normal with some precautions.

So what do you all think about my list above? Do you have any other stalker methods that I might’ve missed?

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Crazy Summer Pool Destinations – Thornton’s Pool

Thornton's Pool

It’s summertime and the kids (me too!) are ready to hit the swimming pools again! We found Thornton’s Pool last summer and everyone loved it.

Thornton’s Pool has been featured on tv and in many articles by now, so you might’ve seen it already on all those extreme pool shows on the television. But here’s a handy link to one such article if you don’t want to search yourself (don’t worry – that’s not an affiliate link. I just included it here for your convenience). And if you don’t want to read through all the scoop, here are the highlights:

  1. This pool is physically in someone’s backyard.
  2. It is 500,000 gallons of water.
  3. You can visit this pool for a donation fee.
  4. It is located in Covington TN. If you’re travelling to visit this, then the closest large city will be Memphis TN.

Here are some of the photos I took while I was there last summer:

Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.
Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.

So, this was a great time and a great destination pool last summer. And I would highly recommend it. If you want to check it out for yourself, you do need to book a reservation. I think the easiest way to contact them is via their Facebook page.

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How I Increased my Domain Authority

I sure did. My website’s DA (Domain Authority) just went from 1 to 5 and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Only took 8 months to get there too!

I know, a DA of 5 still basically stinks. But I’ve been getting some more clicks now from Google and I never really have before, so that’s exciting to see!

I created this domain 8 months ago. Around this same time, I started reading about SEO and how important it is. So I found the RankMath plugin and started following it’s guidance on most (not all) of my posts in order to improve my SEO. I still stink at it, but I’m trying.

Also around this time, I started checking my DA and found that it was ALWAYS 1. No matter how many SEO updates I made via RankMath, it never changed from 1. So I was really getting discouraged. I’ve been using this site to check my DA because it’s free and simple to use: https://websiteseochecker.com/domain-age-checker/

(That’s not an affiliate link above. I’m just providing it for your info and convenience.)

I also noticed that I was NEVER getting any clicks from Google. I was getting clicks from other search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo but never from Google, so I wondered if something was wrong.

I did some research via Google (oh the irony) and found that Google has a “Sandbox” that it puts new websites in for 6-8 months so they don’t affect any rankings. This is to weed-out spam sites and the people that aren’t serious.

Then last week, I noticing that I was suddenly getting some clicks from Google. I was like, WHAT!!? Lol, only 1 or 2 a day so nothing crazy but still a big change for me since I was accustomed to 0.

So I checked my DA out of curiosity and it had changed to a 5! I was so excited because I had practically given up on Google by this point, as it had taken so long.

I guess I’m now out of the “Sandbox” finally. Lol, now what do I do?

Do you all focus on this stuff like DA and SEO? Any tips on what I should try next? 🙂

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So We Did a Thing…

We got a kitten!

He’s super cute but definitely getting into EVERYTHING in the house. Climbing into every single nook and cranny and tearing up everything he can find.

But he’s incredibly affectionate and adorable so he can get away with anything at this point.

We’re still trying to come up with a name. But nothing has stuck yet. The first day we tried Turbo, then we tried Socks, and today we’re trying Milo.

Not sure yet what name we’ll try tomorrow!

I hope you all are doing well! 🙂

I’m So Close to Freedom!

Oh boy, I don’t know if you all have picked-up on the fact that I’m miserable working from home all day.

I think if I were alone at home all day, then it wouldn’t bother me so much. As I do believe that my primary issue is that my husband is ALSO home all day and I just wasn’t designed to be around someone 24/7 without a break for more than a year! It’s simply not my comfort zone.

My comfort zone is that whoever I’m living with… we do our own separate thing during the weekday (like, WORK) and have a few quality hours together in the evenings and the weekend. That’s a good balance that works for us.

But ever since covid happened, we’ve been home together non-stop. Every waking moment is together. Going on 14 months now. I’m not built for this. I’m burned out and I need a break. I physically CRY so often now because I need a break from this over-exposure so badly.

And I *might* get my break soon.

My husband has gotten his covid vaccine and his work is now telling him that he needs to go back to the office everyday!!!! Wooooo!!! I’m so happy about this I cannot wait I cannot wait I cannot wait I cannot wait!

They want him back at the office so badly that they even offered him a 20% raise to do so!

C’mon!!!!!! This is a no brainer, right?!!!!

But of course I have drama!!!!! Nothing can just be easy for me!

The husband is protesting going back to office. He’s turning down the raise AND insisting that they let him continue working from home full-time. Oh my gosh, I want to MURDER.

If he was really worried about covid, I can be sympathetic to that. But he’s not. He’s just using that as his excuse. He’s flat-out told me that he doesn’t want to go back to the office because then he “has to pretend to work all day”. And he doesn’t have to pretend that at home. That’s it. That’s his reason.

He KNOWS I’m miserable with both of us at home full-time. I hear him telling his friends that all the time so it’s not even a secret. And I don’t have a work office I can go to – I’m a legit remote employee. It’s not even an option for me or I would do it. But he’ll gladly keep me miserable, as well as turn down a 20% raise, just so he doesn’t have to pretend to work all day.

Ugh.

I’ll find out what happens soon I hope. I mean, his work is going to have to make a decision of some sort. But I NEED this. So bad. 🙁

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