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Non-Taxing Tax Tips

by Laurie on April 4, 2014

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If you are like me, and for your sake I hope you aren’t, but you are probably scrambling to get your tax papers filed before the looming deadline of April 15th. Well we are not alone! Did you know that that the IRS receives about 20% of individual returns in the last week before the deadline? That’s roughly 30 million tax returns!

It can be complicated to get all the necessary documents together but if you follow these 5 tips, hopefully filing your taxes will be less “taxing” on you. (I couldn’t help it-it was just too easy!) I must mention that I am not a tax professional so please contact one if you have any questions.

 

1. If you really just can’t hack it before the deadline, don’t worry. You can file an extension which will grant you an additional 6 months time. All you have to do is file a IRS Form 4868 free of charge.

 

2. If you  earned $58,000 or less this year, you can file for free using the IRS Free File system. In any case, you should try to use an electronic system like IRS e-file which is great for accuracy.

 

3. Don’t lose out on deductions like children under 17, tuition, or large medical expenses. You can also deduct if you have a home office. Just be sure that the room is used exclusively for your work and doesn’t double as a bedroom or anything else.

 

4. If you lost your job in 2013 and received unemployment money, it is taxable. Taxes are not withheld before you are paid, unlike a job, so don’t forget about it. You may have to pay in.

 

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photo courtesy of www.cityofchicago.org

5. This may sound pretty ridiculous but don’t forget to sign and date your return. Of course if you file electronically you will need to sign it with a personal pin number. Can you believe that half of returns are not signed when the IRS receives them?  Probably not because I just made that up but I’m sure you wont forget now so my job is done!

 

5 Top Trends for Spring

by Laurie on March 28, 2014

So we are officially one week into the Spring season. Hmm.. Someone should tell the weather because it certainly doesn’t feel like Spring outside.

Sooner or later though its going to get nice and we gotta be prepared.  Here are the easiest trends to style when we finally ditch our heavy boots and winter coats:

 

1. Pastels

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photo courtesy of glamour.com

Mint green, baby blue, light yellow, peach…. There are so many beautiful colors to implement this trend in your wardrobe!  I just love the soft and feminine look.

 

 

2. Black and White

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photo courtesy of slice.ca

This is such an easy trend to follow! Even the most fashionably challenged (talk to myself) can do it.

 

 

3.Boxy Cropped  Jackets

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photo courtesy of glamour.com

You can wear this as you would any jacket. Use it as an accessory to dress up simple jeans,  skirts or dresses.

 

 

4. Floral Print

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photo courtesy of fashionisers.com

Another beautiful feminine trend to try and an instant mood booster too!

 

 

5. Light Denim/Chambray

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photo courtesy of accessoriesmagazine.com

Dress it up or down, denim and chambray are easy to style.

 

What trend are you most excited for?

5 Top Tips to Keep Your Home in Tip Top Shape

by Laurie on March 24, 2014

Its that conflicting time of year again. The weather starts getting nicer (at least its supposed to be), and the birds are chirping outside peacefully.

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.guidingstar.ca/Markham_Home_Show.htm

But its also the time for “Spring Cleaning.” The dreaded words that most women hate and want to pretend don’t exist!

You don’t have to allow stuff to pile up until you get overwhelmed. You can easily maintain the order and cleanliness in your home with these 5 simple tips:

 

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20 Dish Pileup!
Photo Courtesy: apartmentguide.com

1. Here is an obvious one but nonetheless crucial in keeping your home clean so I’m gonna mention it anyway: Don’t let things pileup! This includes everything from dishes to laundry, or washing down your tabletops. If the list of chores becomes too long, there is a less of a change of you tackling it. You’ll feel messy and guilty and it will be that much harder to get your house in order. Get in the habit of taking care of things right away and they won’t have a chance to overwhelm you.

 

 

2. Remove shoes before entering your home. This simple act will prevent outside dirt from staining up your carpets and floors. Of course that means vacuuming and/or mopping less often for you.

 

3. Going along the same lines as the previous tip, be sure to use coasters under your cups to prevent rings and catch drops. This is another great way to maintain cleanliness without overwhelming you with strenuous upkeep. Don’t have coasters? Napkins or small plates will do.

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Do you think she looks overwhelmed?
Photo Courtesy: myturnstone.com

 

4. Designate a place for things that can cause lots of clutter and disorganization. For example, keep bills and mail filed in a specific spot. It will keep your home neat while saving you time. You will no longer have to rifle through a stack of papers when trying to find something specific.

 

5. Lastly, keep a calender of your cleaning schedule. This sounds kind of rigid but in truth it is so freeing! If you plan out when you are going to take care of your cleaning chores, they wont creep up on you all at once and overwhelm you. No more wondering about the last time you washed the curtains or steam cleaned the carpets.

 

 

You can really have that clean house a whole year long, not just during the Spring.

March Madness

by Laurie on March 19, 2014

There is madness in the air.

March Madness that is.

 

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Photo Courtesy: sugardoodle.net

 

Now, I am big enough to admit that I know next to nothing about basketball, and even less about the college teams, but that doesn’t prevent me from getting swept right along with all the madness.

 

Top 5 interesting things to know:

1. March Madness actually began in 1939 but has transformed so much through the years. The excitement and fan involvement has largely increased to where the tournaments are now one of the most watched sporting events, as well as one of the most gambled upon.

2.  About 2.5 billion dollars is estimated by the FBI to be gambled illegally due to March Madness. If you do it, do it right!

3. The winning team of the tournament gets to keep the actual hardwood court that they won on. I never heard of that before! They can use it for their court in their school or do whatever else they want with it.

4. Can you believe that the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) does not profit at all from March Madness? Yeah, I can’t believe it either. I mean, nothing? The games bring in billions of dollars which is actually given away to the participating colleges. That’s pretty cool!

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Photo Courtesy: http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/

5. Warren Buffet has promised 1 billion dollars (Yes, you read that right. Billion with a capital B) to whoever gets all of their picks correct. Now it sounds pretty generous but truthfully speaking, its near impossible for anyone to accomplish this. Mathematically, the odds are 9.2 quintillion to 1. So pretty much not gonna happen but more power to you if you can beat those odds.

 

Good luck with your picks and don’t get too mad if you don’t win that billion. He is just offering it because he knows he wont have to pay up!

 

5 Reasons to Smile

by Laurie on March 12, 2014

We all know its good to smile. In fact, I am sure everyone likes to smile because they realize how good it makes them feel. But I’ve got 5 reasons to smile for those times when you just don’t feel like it. That’s the tough part but here goes:

 

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1. Smiling can help you feel like smiling. Sounds strange but its true.  Even a fake smile releases endorphins that reduce your negative thoughts and lifts your spirits. If you are not exactly feeling happy, smiling can help you get there.

 

2. Smiling can make you healthier. Another strange one but hear me out. A smile boosts your immune system by activating your white blood cells, which help fight off bacteria and viruses. Also, your blood pressure is lowered and your heart beat and respiratory system are regulated. So not only does smiling have an immediate affect by calming you down inside, it also helps keep your body healthier in the long run.

 

3. Smiling makes you more attractive. We may not want to admit it to ourselves but we all care what people think of us and looks play an enormous role in that. Interestingly enough, a study was conducted in which 69% of people found women more attractive when they smiled over when they wore makeup. Hmmm…

 

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photo courtesy of smiley-faces.org

 

4.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the old saying “Smile and the world smiles with you”. Yet another reason to smile. It’s contagious- so make the first move and others will follow, making your world a happier place to live.

 

5. And lastly, smiling can help stop or prevent an argument. Of course caution is advised in this situation because you don’t want the other person to think you are being belittling or mocking them in any way. That will just make a bigger mess and even less of a reason to smile.

 

 

Is that a smile I detect? :)

5 Minute Meditation

by Laurie on March 7, 2014

Life is busy so our heads are often working in overdrive.  Everyone can benefit from a little R&R and clearing of the mind. You may think meditating is not for you, but try to be open to it . It can truly have a positive impact on the rest of your day. Just follow these 5 steps for a 5 minute meditation, or longer if you can:

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1. Find a quiet space with no distractions. If its possible to meditate outside in nature, try to do that. In any case, it should be somewhere that you won’t get interrupted and are able to focus completely.

 

2. Sit comfortably. Find the position that is right for you but make sure you are sitting up tall and straight. You can leave your hands resting at your sides or on your lap with palms facing upward.

 

3. Close your eyes and relax your body. Start with letting go of any tension in your toes and work your way up. This make take a while but don’t move on to the next body part until the one you are working on is totally relaxed. Then take some time to focus on how calm and tension free your body is.

 

4. Concentrate on your breathing. This is where you begin to develop the discipline overtime to keep your mind from wandering.  If you find yourself drifting, don’t judge yourself. It takes practice to keep focused.

 

5.  Repeat a mantra.  The point of  it is to help you clear your mind so it should be short and easy to remember. A common one is “Om” which means “I am” in Sanskrit. You can pick anything that will put you at ease.

 

Now go on and enjoy the rest of your day completely refreshed!

5 Emergency Tips

by Laurie on March 2, 2014

Please take 5 minutes to read these tips and pass it along to others as they can save a life in case of an emergency. We hope they never have to be put into practice!

 

1. Your elbow is the strongest part on your body so if you need to defend yourself, this is the best body part to use.

 

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2. If a robber asks for your wallet, don’t hand it to him. Toss it in the other direction and run like crazy. He is most likely more interested in your wallet and wont pursue you.

 

 

 

3. Always take the elevator rather than the stairs, especially at night.

 

 

4. If the predator has a gun, run in zigzag pattern. (The chances of hitting a running target are 4 in 100 and will mostly likely not be a vital organ.)

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5. If you are ever locked into a trunk of a car, kick out the tail lights and wave your arms. The attacker won’t see you but other people can see you and hopefully save your life.

 

 

Please share any other safety tips you may have. They can save a life!

 

 

5 Quick Pick-Me-Ups

by Laurie on February 18, 2014

So let’s face it. We all have our share of days when everything just goes wrong. The babysitter couldn’t come, the train was late, the dinner burned….(fill in the blank with endless possibilities). Here are some tips to help prevent those bad days from turning into one big giant rut.

And since there never seems to be enough hours in the day, these suggestions can be quick; like 5 minutes. Try one or try them all if you’ve got the time.

 

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Crank it up!

1. Music:

This is certainly one of the more well known pick-me-ups, and for good reason. Listening to your favorite music has been known to improve your mood. So kick back and enjoy those tunes!

 

 

 

2. Exercise: 

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“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I don’t know about you but for me this is a dreaded word because I immediately conjure up the image to the right in my head. But you don’t have to engage in a full blown workout (thank goodness), especially in the middle of a busy day. Just moving around releases those famous endorphins that everyone is always talking about. Take a walk or dance to your favorite music and kill two pick-me-up birds with one stone!

 

 

 

 

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“Argh…”

3. Vent:

Put your feelings to pen or call up a friend and give her an earful. Either way, getting your negative thoughts out of your system will prevent them from growing inside or keeping you down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aaahhh…

4. Relax:

Long massages may not always be a feasible option but why not capture a small part of the great spa experience? Light a candle of your favorite scent or use some of your favorite lotion. Try a long bath with oils if you’ve got a little more time to spare.

 

 

 

 

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It’s dark chocolate of course!

5. Indulge:

Whether its a piece of chocolate or getting a coffee from your favorite shop, treat yourself kindly. Enjoy something you usually don’t and it will instantly brighten your mood.

5 Quotes To Change Your Life

by Laurie on February 11, 2014

We all need a little encouragement or kick in the pants from time to time to focus on what’s important. These are some of my favorite motivational quotes and I hope they become yours too:

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1. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”― Rumi

2. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”―Farrah Gray

3. “Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”―Steve Maraboli

4. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

5. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou

 

 

Please comment below with any other quotes that have made a big impact on your life. I would love to hear them!

Top 5 Game Day Foods

by Laurie on February 2, 2014

We all know that no matter how great your Super Bowl Party is, it would be nothing without the food. So make sure your game will be really “super” with these top foods. Make one or make them all!

Nachos and Dips (like guacamole): No party is complete without them.

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Chicken Wings: A delicious and messy must-have.

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Mini Hamburger Sliders: So much fun to eat and personalize to your liking.

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Photo Courtesy of Hauteliving.com

 

Sweet and Spicy Chili: Great for these cold days!

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Photo Courtesy of sacfoodies.com

 

Pizza: Who could forget this classic?

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I don’t know about you but my stomach is starting to growl looking at all this food. And I just ate.

Boy am I going to get into trouble during the game!

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