Thursday, February 28, 2019

Low-Tech Cleaning Must-Have: Pumice Toilet Stone

Greetings, Delivered Ones! In the area where I live, hard water is a real problem. It leaves stains in the toilet which are very difficult to remove. We had tried several different types of cleaners to no avail. The hard water stains remained.
Last night, my son decided to give the pumice toilet stone that I'd purchased from Amazon a try and was so pleased with the results that he insisted that I come and see how well it worked. Lo and behold, the toilet was free of hard water stains for the first time in literally years.
These toilet stones get a Seal of Approval hat trick. They are long-lasting, easy to use, and inexpensive. Plus, unlike caustic chemicals, they are environmentally friendly. We will never be without them again!


The Seal of Approval
Copyright Public Domain Pictures

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Hello, Delivered Ones! If you enjoy sharing your opinion about products, then you will want to click the colorful button at the bottom of the post and join Influenster. There is also an Influenster app for iPhone and Android so you are able to share your opinions and find products and deals on the go. 
I've only just started using Influenster, but it shows a lot of promise. It's free to join and easy to use. Click the orange button and give it a try!


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Earnably GPT Site

Hello, Delivered Ones! Today I want to introduce you to Earnably, a nice GPT site where you earn points for completing offers and taking surveys. You then cash in the points and can be paid either via Paypal or with gift cards of your choice, including Amazon, Target, and some of your favorite restaurants. You can also choose to donate your earnings to charity.
There are plenty of opportunities to earn points, so click the link and look at what they have to offer. 


Monday, February 25, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #216: How to Train Your Dragon III

The third movie in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is out, and it's a winner. If you have kids or grandkids, and/or you are a kid at heart, this movie is for you. 
The movie does tackle some darker themes (i.e. the dragon poachers) and there are a few moments which might be upsetting to younger children, but overall, it is appropriate for all ages. 
There are lessons about love and loss and about interacting with nature. Wild animals need to be allowed to be wild if possible, and people must learn to respect nature. 
However, there is also plenty of fun to be had. Although the gang is all grown up, they are as goofy as ever. There will be moments when you'll want to cry into Tuffnut's full, thick beard, but there will be moments when you'll be roaring with laughter too. 
Kids who have prosthetic limbs or require assistive devices might take encouragement from seeing heroic characters who also have prosthetic limbs. Even the mighty Toothless has a prosthetic tail fin to help him fly.
This movie was great fun, and you don't really need to have a kid in your life to have an excuse for seeing it, but if you do have a kid in your life, by all means, take them along!


Copyright Public Domain Pictures
The Seal of Approval gives How to Train Your Dragon 3 five out of five stars

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up 24 February 2019

Hello, Crazy Creatives, Delivered Ones, and Horror Harridans! It's been a mad week. I posted at the end of January about a minor accident that I was involved in when the roads were icy, and a young lady stopped behind me, but her car didn't. It was a very minor accident with no injuries.
The repairs on my vehicle were just completed. The young lady's insurance took care of everything. To recap an important point from the initial post about this incident, when I spoke to the insurance agent, I was told that the girl's family wanted to pay me out of pocket for the estimated damages, an offer which I declined. I'd had past experiences with vehicle repairs, and there is often underlying damage that can't be seen at first glance.
The initial estimate was for around $400 for chipped paint.
The actual repair cost was close to $1900.
If I had taken the $400 from the family, I would have been screwed.
Always go through the insurance company in situations like this.
Earlier this month, I joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club. Our current book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The big Discussion Fun Day is March 20th. The book club virtually meets on Goodreads. You can find me on Goodreads as well.
To be honest, I never would have known what a wonderful writer Daphne du Maurier was if I hadn't gotten a copy of Rebecca on Audible. Other than book reviews, I don't do much reading these days. I'd had an Audible membership for a couple of years but really hadn't used it much since I stopped working as a home care nurse. I decided to dust it off so I could participate in the book club, and I'm so happy that I did! Rebecca is one of the most engaging stories that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.
I'm in the car a lot, so audiobooks are real salvation. You can listen during your commute to and from work on a device such as your smartphone or tablet. If you use public transit for your commute, you'll want a good pair of headphones. Be sure to check device compatibility before purchasing.
That's it for this wrap-up. I hope I have imparted some useful information, and maybe I'll see you around the IWSG book club!


Monday, February 18, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #215: Hysterectomy Alternatives

In the past, hysterectomy has been the go-to option when things go wrong with the female reproductive system, particularly for women who are beyond their child-bearing years, even for benign but troublesome conditions such as fibroids. Many doctors, even good ones, still believe that hysterectomy is the best option for these issues, and sometimes it is. 
However, hysterectomy is not the simple little nothing surgery that medical professionals seem to want women to believe it is. Any major surgery comes complete with risks and significant recovery time, and, unless a condition is immediately life-threatening, I am one who believes in exploring alternatives before committing to having part of myself excised, even if it is a part which seems to no longer serve any useful purpose.
I have a collection of small fibroids taking up residence in my uterus. My OB/GYN believes that these fibroids are irritating the lining of my uterus, causing endometrial hyperplasia. She feels that I should have a complete hysterectomy to resolve this issue.
There are categories of endometrial hyperplasia: simple with normal cells, simple with atypical cells, complex with normal cells, and complex with atypical cells. Complex with atypical cells is the most worrisome variety and carries with it a 36% increased likelihood of converting to cancer.
If I had complex hyperplasia with atypical cells, I would already have had a hysterectomy. However, I have the least worrisome variety: simple hyperplasia with normal cells. This type has a 1.6% increased likelihood of becoming cancer. I believe it is overkill to undergo major surgery if other alternatives can resolve the condition.
I am going to contact an alternative treatment center tomorrow which specializes in a minimally invasive procedure called uterine artery embolization. This procedure involves injecting small particles to block the blood flow to the uterine arteries, depriving the fibroids of circulation. In most cases, the fibroids shrink within a space of three months and the problems they cause are resolved. The procedure is done under sedation rather than general anesthesia and involves only a brief hospitalization and an approximate two week recovery time, rather than the two months necessary to recover from a hysterectomy. 
Uterine artery embolization is not appropriate for women who wish to be able to have children in the future. I am post-menopausal, so this is not a consideration in my case. I am simply seeking to avoid major surgery if possible.
I feel that hysterectomy is too often the go-to method for resolving uterine health problems. There are certainly cases where it is appropriate, but I do not believe it should be the first line of defense for resolving a benign albeit bothersome issue.

The following link contains descriptions of treatments used to eradicate fibroids. It leads to a page on the Denver Fibroids website. If you are interested in finding a clinic in your area, type in your city and "fibroid treatment" or "hysterectomy alternatives." You might have to do a little digging, but don't give up. We are fortunate to live in a time when there are alternatives to major surgery for many health issues.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate or employee of the Denver Fibroid Clinic. The preceding information is not intended to replace professional medical advice. If you are experiencing problematic health issues, please make an appointment with a physician to discuss your options.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up 17 February 2019

This week did not start out well, People. My stupid freezer, which is only about 5 years old, died on me, and I've been removing the smelly, rotting food from it. I'm considering cleaning it out and using it as storage space while my son and I continue to go through our items and figure out what we want to keep and what can really be gotten rid of or repurposed.
This tale of tragedy and triumph will continue on my Inspire Me Monday post. In the meantime, let me share what I did once I managed to get back into the swing of things.
I learned that there's a lot more to Swagbucks than just the main website. You get two SB for every grocery receipt you upload to Swagbucks. You can get up to 50 SB per day for printing grocery coupons. I need to remember to do this next time I go shopping. 
Do searches with Swagbucks. Check Swagbucks for deals before you shop online. Scroll down the main page and click on the "mobile" link. You'll find even more ways to earn and save with Swagbucks.
I also got back in the swing of things with Paid Viewpoint and Point Club
I took some quick and easy location surveys with Panel App. Remember, save your Panel App points for the guaranteed prizes! They always have a monthly giveaway which you can enter for free as well.
I cheered myself up by listening to the mythology channel on Podcoin. Podcoin is a mobile app which you can find in the Apple App and Google Play stores. You earn 1 PC for every 10 minutes you listen and can trade your coins for gift cards. Enter code Caraur1w when you sign up, and you will get 150 PC to start.
So, things did get better in spite of the dead freezer which I am in the process of emptying. Maybe one day I will have a new freezer. For now, I need to get new glasses. I remember the days of old when I didn't have to wear glasses. Then I turned 40 and became farsighted and my vision has not improved with age.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Spam Breakfast

Click to Enlarge

Good morning! I am inviting you to join me for a lovely Spam breakfast today.
These are items from my Spam folder. Some of them are from companies recommending stocks or trying to get me to join their $2000 per year seekrit insiders' stock club. Yeah...that's gonna happen. Also, I can tell you that if you use the words tRump and Brilliant in the same sentence, I've stopped listening to you.
As for Mr. Frank Mitchell, it's none of your damn business how often my hand and I get busy. Get stuffed with your vague future health threat attempts to make me buy your snake oil.
Now, most of us are savvy enough that when we see a sender such as "F-acebook" we know right away this email is Phishing. However, what if you have someone in your life who isn't particularly Internet savvy, i.e. your mom who only uses the Internet to watch cat videos, search for recipes, and send emails? 
My mom is 79 years old. She is an intelligent person, a college graduate and a retired nurse. However, she is also very gullible when it comes to scams of this nature. One morning she called me in a panic telling me that I needed to call Microsoft because they were trying to get in touch with me about my "delinquent account." I informed her that Microsoft would never attempt to contact a customer by phone. It is always on the customer to contact Microsoft.
Some common traits to look for in scam emails are:
Close but not exact sender names such as "F-acebook."
An email address from outside the addressee's home country for companies such as Wal Mart. I received one email from "Walmart" with a Russian address. You can see all the problems with this Phishy email in this post.
If you have a friend or loved one who isn't particularly Internet savvy, they could benefit from this information. Pass it on!
Sorry, Emma, I'm afraid I can't help you and I'm not going to be able to reply you today.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Apps that Pay: Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is an app which rewards you for scanning your grocery store receipts. It works for most major grocery chains and warehouse clubs, but not for stores such as Petsmart. 
Unlike apps such as Ibotta, you don't have to pick your products to get rewarded for them, which is nice. You just snap a picture of your receipt. It's that easy. You can learn about some of the possible rewards available to you on this page.
You can download the Fetch Rewards app from either the Google Play or Apple app store. Enter code B8QJQ to get 4000 points right away.
Fetch Rewards is one of my favorite receipt rewards apps. I think it will become one of yours too.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Blog Promotion: Blogpros and Pingler

So, now you've got a blog, but how do you make it stand out from the rest? You've built it, but they won't come unless they know it's there! 
If you're like most startups, whether online or brick and mortar, you don't have a huge advertising budget. Google Adwords is a great idea, but some of us don't even have $5 a day to spend on advertising, so that idea has to go to the back burner for a while.
I started using Blogpros promotional services back in December. I told you that I would report back whether I found the service helpful or not. 
My pageviews increased exponentially using Blogpros. I went from about ten views a day on average to between 100 and 200 daily views. This certainly doesn't make me the most popular blog on the block, but it helps a lot. Blogpros service costs me $39.95 per month.
I just started using Pingler. I'm paying $8.08 every three months for the service. Their lowest cost package pings up to 25 URLs of your choosing every three days. This is an inexpensive advertising tool which is worth checking out. Click the banner at the bottom of the post to see the possibilities with Pingler.
If you have free or inexpensive ways that you use to promote your blogs and web pages, I would love to hear about them!


Monday, February 11, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #214: Get Angry

Can I inspire you to be angry today?
It's hard for me to type a post about anger without using salty language, but I'm going to keep it clean.
Can I inspire you to open your eyes and see that things just aren't right?
Can I inspire you to see that it isn't right that people should be forced to sleep on the street?
Can I inspire you to face the fact that those people don't "deserve" this?
Can I inspire you to understand that it isn't right for people in the lower classes to be unable to afford decent housing?
Can I inspire you to see that it's wrong for people with disabilities to have to choose between eating and having medical care and being able to earn a living wage?
Can I inspire you to see that it's madness for people to have to be in debt for years for trying to better themselves by getting a higher education?
That it's madness that most higher-paying jobs require higher education but that education is out of reach for the poor?
Can I inspire you to realize that a society of haves and have-nots benefits no-one but those in the highest positions?
Can I inspire you to realize that the only thing "trickling down" is a word that I can't use in a "family friendly" post?
Can I inspire you to understand that the homeless are not "just lazy," that the poor are not "just stupid," that the "welfare queen" is a myth, that only a very small percentage of people attempt to defraud the welfare system?
Can I inspire you to see that very vulnerable people are falling into the cracks and have nowhere to turn for help?
Do you know that many elderly people live in poverty?
Do you know that many single parents live in poverty?
Can you see that there are a lot of people who used to work a "good job" but now need assistance, that the help is not there, that they didn't suddenly become "lazy" and "shiftless?"
Can I inspire you to realize that people with substance addiction issues deserve help, not jail?
Can I inspire you to understand that mental illness is not "laziness"?
Can I inspire you to understand that everyone deserves adequate food, shelter, medical care, and education?
Can I inspire you to understand that service workers are not "lesser" and do not deserve to be stuck working multiple jobs to make less than a living wage?
Can I inspire you to be angry today?
Because until we all get angry enough, nothing is ever going to change.
If nothing changes, things are only going to get worse for all but the wealthiest one percent.
I hope that I can inspire you today.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up 10 February 2019

Copyright Public domain Pictures

Moving my files from Google Drive to my external hard drive like...

No, I'm not doing anything illegal. However, I have decided to keep the number of files that I store on my Google Drive to a minimum. Google is restructuring things, and at this point, I'm not sure I want to pay a monthly fee to store my files with them. A larger amount of available storage on Google Drive was necessary in the past when I was working night shifts as a homecare nurse. Now that I do 99 percent of my blogging and writing activities from home, storing the files I may need on Google Drive is not as much of a necessity.
I have used iDrive since 2015. After a couple of disastrous data losses due to hard drives (one internal, one external, different computers) going belly up, I decided that some sort of cloud protection was necessary. Click the link to try iDrive. Personal accounts get a generous 2TB of storage for just $52.50 for the first year and $69.50 thereafter.
I ended up having some setbacks this week. My freezer no longer seems to be working correctly, and I'm not sure that I want to spend my birthday money on a new freezer. I'll probably need it to pay for new glasses anyway. I became depressed and ended up spending last night watching biopics on Netflix. 
I whipped myself back into some semblance of productivity today, doing laundry and trying to figure out which clothes I should keep and which I should get rid of. It becomes a bit difficult when it's something given to me by my mother, which I never really used in the first place but she would be hurt if she knew I'd given it away. Hopefully, I am on the road back to what passes for normal in my strikingly abnormal existence.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Cie's Food Reviews: Cheap and Delicious vs. Meringue Hockey Puck

This is a Jimmy Dean English Muffin breakfast sandwich. It comes in two varieties: bacon or sausage. The taste is comparable with an Egg McMuffin. These sandwiches may not meet any sort of highbrow standard of perfect food, but if you add a glass of your favorite juice and a side of seasoned potatoes, you'll have a reasonably nutritionally complete meal.

This ghastly item is a Jimmy Dean English Muffin breakfast sandwich defiled by the presence of a disgusting and flavorless meringue hockey puck. I grabbed one without reading the box completely, thinking that the egg portion was, you know, an actual scrambled egg rather than a meringue hockey puck. I put an extra slice of American cheese on the sucker to make it palatable.

A number of years ago, some marketing jackwagons decided that they needed to sell more egg whites, so the idea that ZOMG, TEH EGG YOLKS WILL STRAIGHT UP MURDERIZE YOU WITH THEIR CHOLESTEROL CONTAININGNESS AND THEY TOTALLY HAVE CALORIES TOO WHICH WILL END UP AS A MOLECULE OF FAT ON YOUR ASS was birthed into the world.
If you care about calories (fortunately, I no longer give any fucks about them, which is a relief after all the years I spent counting them to no avail because diets don't work) or if you're just curious, the average egg contains 70 calories.
The egg yolk is where all the protein and flavor is. Unless you're making meringue or a white cake, egg whites are just the hold things together part of the egg. Note that in a white cake, the egg white is mixed in with the other yummy ingredients, and in meringue, it is sweetened, fluffed up, and toasted. Without something added to give it some flavor, egg white is just straight-up nasty, and I would be happy enough if the geniuses who came up with the abomination that is an egg white "omelet" spent an eternity in hell having to eat nothing but the meringue hockey pucks which one finds in the Jimmy Dean "Lite" breakfast sandwiches.
"Lite" food is a lie anyway. When food manufacturers remove fat from food, they often have to add more sugar or salt to give the food flavor. I can remember the low fat craze of the 1980s. Foods like avocados were demonized. Avocados, for fuck's sake! Avocados are tasty, satisfying, and loaded with nutrients. Thinking about it makes me want to eat an avocado right now. Or maybe an actual omelet with cheese and veggies topped with avocados. 
I hate myself right now for making myself hungry for something I don't have the ingredients or money for!
Regarding the cholesterol scare tactic, the type of cholesterol contained in foods like eggs is not the type of cholesterol that is a cause for concern. There is a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia. In brief, this genetic mutation causes a person's own body to produce too much cholesterol and not utilize cholesterol properly. 
Certain endocrine conditions such as diabetes can also promote the elevation of blood cholesterol. Controlling one's blood glucose levels tends to help in lowering the "bad" cholesterol. In my own case, my cholesterol levels are actually quite good (despite my hedonistic, egg-yolk-eating ways), but my triglyceride levels remain elevated despite adding Novolog to my treatment plan, so I started taking a triglyceride-lowering medication. Ceasing consumption of egg yolks would have had little to no impact on my lipid panel.
In any case, trans fats, which occur at low levels in nature but high levels in processed vegetable oil products such as margarine, are the fats which have been shown to be problematic. Using non-hydrogenated oils in cooking is a sound idea. 
The TL:DR takeaway from this post:
Meringue hockey pucks suck. Eat the whole egg. That's where the flavor is. Also, don't buy into VFHT (vague future health threat) scare tactics. The only ones who benefit from those are Big Food and their advertisers.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Prime Pantry Order for 5 February 2019 + GPT and Survey Stuff

Greetings, Delivered Ones! Today's Prime Pantry box contains Kraft Honey Mustard dressing, Celestial Seasonings Cool Brew iced tea, Keebler PB&J Crackers, and two bags of Planters Trail Mix in Tropical and Chocolate.
I know that I often sing the praises of Ken's Honey Mustard dressing, but the Kraft dressing was on sale for $1.99 per bottle, and it works just fine. This is a case where it's a push between the favorite item and the lower cost item, so the lower cost item wins out.
I love Gold Peak tea, but it generally costs between $2 and $2.50 for 52 ounces. I saved one of the bottles once it was empty, rinsed it out, and now make my own using tea bags at a fraction of the cost of a single bottle of Gold Peak. 
I love to try different trail mixes. Planters had some good options available this time.
The PB&J crackers are okay. I honestly think I prefer just plain peanut butter crackers. But for $1.19 a box, these were a good deal.
Now for the survey and GPT site thoughts.
I finished filling out all of my profile surveys for Mindfield Online. On the positive side, Mindfield does offer up plenty of surveys. On the negative side, they are hard to qualify for (at least for me) and you don't get paid for the ones you don't qualify for. I spent an hour trying to qualify before throwing in the towel for the day.
My son and I started a subscription to Pretty Litter via Swagbucks. I got 1200 Swagbucks for this subscription. Don't forget to check Swagbucks before shopping online. 
I've been very busy today. I feel like I need to have a rest now before heading to the store to pick up some necessary items such as potatoes.
Until next time!


Monday, February 4, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #213: Shout-Out

I'm back! I didn't know if I'd feel up to it today, but I was feeling--ahem--INSPIRED, so, here I am.
I don't feel much like talking about me or giving warnings right now, so instead, I would like to give a shout-out to a WAH blogger who has been very helpful to me during these tight times: Laurie of The Passionate Penny Pincher.
I am a person who likes to eat a satisfying meal but I don't have a lot of money at this time. The Passionate Penny Pincher has had some great coupons, like this Papa Murphy's coupon which will be used to pick up tonight's dinner!
I have found the best dining deals on this site by going to the Hot Deals tab at the top of the page and choosing the Dining Deals option. It hasn't steered me wrong yet!
I suggest adding The Passionate Penny Pincher to your blog list if you like saving money.
Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate or employee of The Passionate Penny Pincher. I have received no compensation for writing this review. These are my honest thoughts regarding this blog.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up for the Week of 27 January 2019 - 3 February 2019

An unfortunate change was made to one of my most-used sites.

Cash Crate, while still a great site, switched out their game system for a new one which I don't like nearly as well.
If you are signed into Cash Crate, I have two words for you: Tap Research. I find that I am more likely to qualify for Tap Research surveys, the surveys tend to be briefer, and I receive a penny for most of the surveys I don't qualify for. It's much better than being rejected for survey after survey and getting nothing at all.

I completed a fair number of surveys with Earnably.

I also completed a fair number of surveys with Fusion Cash.

I did searches with Inbox Dollars and Treasure Trooper.

Irazoo and Unique Rewards will probably become my go-to gaming sites since Cash Crate made the switch to a new gaming system with Irazoo taking the lead. Irazoo has the same games that Cash Crate used to have, and Unique Rewards has some of the same games.
Strangely, I have to sign into Irazoo on Edge if I want to play the games. Even though I turned off my ad blocker for Irazoo, the games page always says that I have an ad blocker on. I don't have any trouble playing the games when I'm signed in on Edge.
If you do sign up for Irazoo, please enter the following code so I can get credited for referring you: R7RPQG

That's it for this week. I honestly don't feel particularly inspired or inspiring as of this writing, but I'll try to come up with a post for Inspire Me Monday. Maybe.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Tasty Timesavers: Pudding

If you find yourself wondering what to do about dessert, I have one word for you:


You may find yourself saying that pudding is boring, that it's for kids, that it's too easy to make. I say there's no such thing as "too easy." In modern life, many of us are wearing a lot of hats, and doing what you can to reduce your stress is genius!
The above image features rice pudding molded into the shape of a heart. Fun fact: that pudding probably isn't even edible. It may have been sprayed with shellac to hold it in place, or the pudding has been mixed with lard so it will hold its form or both. Food photography is fun and beautiful, but real, edible food tends not to photograph as well as doctored model food.
However, I didn't come here to talk to you about food photography.
I came here to tell you how to serve up a quick dessert that your family will love!
Pudding is kid-friendly. In fact, the kids can help you decorate it.
Making rice or tapioca pudding is a bit more involved than making instant pudding, which comes in a variety of flavors. Neither rice nor tapioca pudding is terribly difficult to make from scratch, but grocery stores often sell acceptable pre-made versions thereof. Kozy Shack is a favorite brand of pre-made rice pudding. I will sometimes grab a container of Kozy Shack at the store.
Pudding mix is shelf-stable and very versatile. The possibilities are pretty well endless. Instant pudding mixes up easily with a whisk in about a minute. I find it tastes best chilled. Make the pudding before serving dinner and put it in the refrigerator. It will have a nice, creamy consistency by the time it is served.
A few instant pudding ideas:
Make pudding "sundaes." You can call these "parfaits" for the adults. Vanilla pudding works nicely in place of vanilla ice cream with less of the melty mess. Top with any ice cream topping and a bit of Cool Whip or whipped cream, sprinkles, candy pieces, whatever you like. Pre-make the parfaits in dessert dishes, or set up a sundae bar on the counter and let everyone make their own the way they like it.
The banana split trifle is a fan favorite. Layer a trifle dish with vanilla wafers or bits of pound cake. Top with a layer of pudding and a layer of pineapple sundae topping. Add another layer of pudding. Top with strawberry sundae topping. Add another layer of pudding and top with chocolate sundae topping. Add the final layer of pudding, cover with banana slices, cover the bananas with Cool Whip or whipped cream, and decorate with bananas and chocolate curls or chocolate chips. If you have family members who aren't banana fans, you can reserve the bananas and let others add them as they wish.
That's the fancy version. The simplified version is to put a serving dish of chilled pudding on the counter, put the toppings to the side, and let others create their own. Never underestimate the popularity and simplicity of "create your own" desserts. The family will enjoy putting together their own concoctions their way, and, unless someone is a nit-picky party pooper, they won't even think about the fact that the family chef just saved him or herself a lot of prep work!
It's also super simple to spoon pudding into a pre-made pie crust and top with Cool Whip or whipped cream and a few toppings to make it look pretty. Chill for about an hour and, voila, you have an easy and tasty dessert!
I have honestly never tried to make instant pudding with non-dairy milk, even though I haven't drunk dairy milk for years. I use dairy milk to make pudding and my good buddy Lactaid (or the store brand thereof) allows me to eat it without the awful aftermath. Odd thing: I used to be able to drink milk with no problem. Then when I got to be about 40, I developed lactose intolerance. I also started needing to wear glasses, and a few other crappy things started to happen as well. I guess 40 must be "the hill" that everyone keeps telling me I'm over. 
My gray hair didn't come on at 40, however. I started going gray at 27. I honestly wouldn't even bother dyeing my hair, except that I didn't end up with a nice vivid white that would look really cool. I ended up with a darker gray that, combined with my pasty complexion, makes me look like I just crawled out of a mausoleum. I don't care about looking young. I'm not young. I'm over 50. However, looking dead is kind of depressing. As far as I know, I'm not dead yet. So I use various shades of Henna to make myself look alive.
However, I digress. I didn't come here to tell you how to look less like you just crawled out of a tomb. I came here to tell you about why pudding is a favorite dessert at my house. It's so easy and there are so many flavors to choose from. The possibilities are pretty well endless!
With its versatility and simplicity, you can have pudding for dessert every night and never have the same dessert twice--unless you want to.