TIP: Always get fresh french fries

From the Keep Calm o matic website: click for page

From the Keep Calm o matic website: click for page

Ever swing through a fast food restaurant like MacDonalds, because its convenient and you are in a hurry? Well the only thing more distressing is when you reach into the bag for the first fry and you realize your fries are not hot, not that fresh and very disappointing.

Here is how to never have that happen again:

  1. Walk into the restaurant. Being there in person makes it easier to confirm they will comply with the next step.
  2. Ask for fries without salt.

What is the first thing they do when they plop fries into the that stainless steel bin? They salt them. If you ask for fries without salt, they can’t use those fries.

Sometimes this requires them to make another batch so here are some ground rules:

  1. Be nice. Smile and say ‘Please’. Its amazing what happens when you are nice to someone.
  2. Be prepared to wait if they do have to fry you some fries. Hey, that is what you asked for, right? Just be okay with a slight delay.

Voila! You have fresh, hot, wonderful fries!

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Tax questions answered

30SecondMomIts another Helpful tip Tuesday.

If you are on twitter, follow me @TacomaLynette and the #30SecondMom chat on Wednesday the 5thof March for a great twitter chat about taxes.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a tip about 10 Tips for Tax Time. Well, now is your chance to speak interactively and learn even more about taxes. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, or if you are just curious about taxes, join the chat. 8pm CT/6pm PT  RSVP for prizes: ow.ly/jcOXt

I love the 30 Second Mom group. I am honored to be a contributor, but even more so to interact with these fine ladies. What I love about this group is there are a bunch of great, kind ladies out there who have the knowledge to help one another. They do it, with tips that take just 30 seconds to read on their smart phone app. Super easy and super helpful. Its a group of ladies who help without judging and a group that has some great ideas too!

Join the chat, register for prizes, download the app. Then, you can have tips ALL day EVERY day for whatever life throws at you.

10 Tips for Tax Time

ReBlogging for Tax Time

Okay, it’s tax time. <<THE HORROR!>> Just kidding.

During my day job, I am a CPA. That required learning about taxes to pass the test. I took a class and was hooked. I decided not to do taxes for work. Now, I do taxes for fun. (Yeah, most of you think I’m weird or sick in the head). I really enjoy looking at all the numbers and different ways things can be worked to determine the best outcome for my clients.

After doing taxes for businesses and individuals for more than 10 years, here is some advice. Bookmark this list. I see this stuff come through all the time, save yourself some time by eating that elephant in the room, one bite at a time.

  1. Keep a brightly colored tax folder where you stick all your mail. If it says “Tax Document” or you think it relates, stick it in there!
  2. Add a notebook to the tax folder. Use this notebook to document questions you have throughout the year.
  3. Monthly/Quarterly (More frequently than your 1 visit to the the tax office), clean out the folder from step 1. Get rid of outdated information, e.g. statements from March can usually be replaced by April statements etc.
  4. At the end of the year, organize your folder. Put all your pay information and W2s together. Don’t mix your business expenses in with your personal interest statements. You don’t want to pay me for the time it takes to organize your things.
  5. Keep at least 1 ticket from the Goodwill or other donation box. Attach this ticket to the notebook tucked into the tax folder. Keep a running list of all things donated and the date: 12 bags of clothes on Feb 12th.
  6. Review your pay-stub during the year. Work with your tax adviser to make sure you are withholding enough, especially if you have had any job changes or raises.
  7. Review your W2. Look at the amount you got paid (box 1)- shocking how much we lose to bills isn’t it? Look at the funny codes in boxes 12 and 14. Make sure they make sense.
  8. Bring your tax adviser last years’ taxes, especially if you are using someone new.
  9. Ask questions, lots and lots of questions. Your tax adviser should have answers or offer to look up your questions for you. Don’t trust your taxes to someone who doesn’t ever need to ‘look things up’. Laws change every year, its best to verify anything that might not be totally clear.
  10. Talk. Talk to your tax adviser about all the things that went on in your life over the course of the year. Kid graduate and go to college – you might still be able to claim that kid and an education credit to boot! You never know what nugget of information will bring you more money at tax time.

10 Ways to Fight the Summertime Blues

Picture courtesy of Metro Parks – click for link to summer programs!

Otherwise known as “Mooom, I’m booored.” If your kids are at home and not safely ensconced at Grandmas as mine are, you have heard this expression at least once. You don’t need to be the next Martha Stewart to keep your kids entertained, there are several options around your town to help out.

Summertime Activities to Keep Away Boredom

  1. Do chores: Have the kids help you with your own summertime projects. You will both learn something. The kids will have fun painting/ nailing/ spackling / washing the car. You will have fun learning that paint does not come out of clean t-shirts or spraying them with the hose. Besides, its good to have them realize what it takes to keep everything running in tip top shape.
  2. Go outside: Go to your neighborhood park, spray park, city zoo or aquarium, nature walk or scavenger hunt. Play I-Spy with all things nature. Run the energy right out of them, so the next time they will think twice about whining.
  3. Lay down in the shade of a tree and watch clouds go by. Make up stories about the different shapes you see. Then reach over and start a tickle fight. Completely unexpected and full of fun if they can’t catch you.
  4. Find your nearest craft store(s). Michaels, Hobby Lobby and JoAnns all have great kid craft classes or kits and some of them can be pretty inexpensive if you watch for the coupons in the Sunday mailer.
  5. Check out the local Parks Department and Library. Locally, our Metro Parks department and Tacoma Library system have a wonderful assortment of summer camps, outings and day drop-in services. Some community centers have classes like cooking class, lego camp and more.
  6. Volunteer. A very good blogger friend of mine The Do Gooder Mama always has wonderful ideas about how to help around your community. Our family has just started volunteering through Catholic Community Services to help a lady do chores at her house.
  7. Do a 5K. In Seattle, rainy weather shouldn’t hold you inside, or else you might never breathe fresh air. The nice weather in the summer is a boon. There are dozens of 5K runs in your area. Have the kids join in and do a stroller walk if they are too young for the full 5K. (BTW: my 5year olds did a 5K walk last year, so it’s totally possible!)
  8. Take a small trip. You don’t have to fly to Mexico or Hawaii to have a great family vacation. Go camping (again exploring nature is AWESOME) or go to the beach for the day. Get started early and wait for them to CRASH on the way back. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, shovels, buckets and towels.
  9. Stay-cation: set up the tent in the backyard. Use your BBQ outside or your firepit and roast marshmallows, hot dogs all with the convenience of a running toilet. (My most important thing about camping really)
  10. Go see a play or movie. Many places have movies in the park throughout the summer. Around here it can be a little late because darkness doesn’t fall until after 9pm. But, this is such a great experience that once in a while, it is worth the crankiness and the nap the next day.

There you have it 10 awesome things to do to fight the summertime blues.

Fresh French Fries – guranteed

Picture courtesy of Serious Eats. Click for article comparing french fries at major fast food retailers

I don’t know about you, but the summer time months make it so easy to swing through a fast food restaurant once in awhile. On a road trip, avoiding a hot stove on a hot day, busy with play dates and summer camps etc. But one thing that can make or break your fast food experience is old/cold fries.

Im sure the restaurant has a metric for the amount of food they have to throw out at the end of the day because it sat under a warmer for too long. (Appetizing, I know.) So, they have a reason for giving you those cold/old fries. To make sure you get fresh fries, order them this way *without salt*. Since fast food companies salt their fries as soon as they take them out of the fryer, ask for the fries without salt. They will have to make a fresh batch.

Remember:

  • This takes longer, so be patient
  • Do this in the lobby, not the drive through. If you are standing in front of them, its easier to see them fry the fresh batch
  • Be nice. This is a special order and they deserve at least a smile and thank you for accommodating you.