Posts by Jenn

Keeping Your Identity Safe Through the Tax Season

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Another year has come and gone and here we are at tax season again.  AGAIN.  I’m always torn this time of year;  the geeky wanna-be-organized part of me wants to hunker down and input numbers and organize receipts and deductions while the procrastinator in me thinks that would be awesome ….but so would season 2 of Downton Abbey.

This year I’m looking at my taxes in a little bit of a different light.  I’ve been working with Identity Guard this year to help spread the word about Identity Theft and while I thought I was well informed about protecting myself…I’m going to be honest I’ve spent a little bit of time rocking in the corner with my new anxieties.

Okay, okay.  It isn’t that bad.  But it IS a lot more complicated and a lot more rampant of an issue than I originally thought, especially when dealing with Child Identity Theft.  And tax season is no different.  In fact, it is even more pertinent to be aware this time of year.  Identity Guard has some great resources on dealing with  Tax – Time Identity Theft on their site.  Take just a minute to look through them, I feel confident you will learn something new.

Every year the IRS pays out billions of dollars each year to fraudulent filers.  Criminals who steal information from people like me and you, from our children, and then file a return with the IRS to collect funds that don’t belong to them.  When you think about that… you have to start thinking about how that happens.  How do people get that information?

Do you get your mail in a private box or outside of your house or do you have a box in your neighborhood?  Does it occur to you during this time of year to keep a closer eye on your mail to make sure that the tax documents you need actually arrive?

We live in a neighborhood where we walk down the street to our mailbox.  Our individual boxes are locked and we never give out our key.  This makes me feel confident that our mail is safe.  So confident in fact that last year when our tax forms for our mortgage didn’t show up I didn’t even think twice about it, I just called the bank and got the numbers that I needed over the phone.  Luckily there was no trouble with this…. but I’m more bothered by the fact that it didn’t even occur to me to be worried about anything other than the inconvenience when I was trying to get the taxes finished.

Keeping your mail safe at tax time is just one of many ways that you can guard yourself against Identity Theft.  Need more convincing?  Here is an article on reasons to keep an eye on your mail and other important documents at tax time.

I’ve been working with Identity Guard for several months now and I feel like I’m learning more and more every day.  There is so much to know, sometimes it can be confusing where to start….especially when we are faced with a new concern: preserving our children from identity theft. Identity Guard offers the kID Sure Program to help you get started in learning about and protecting your children from identity theft.

When you are figuring out whether you will be paying in or receiving a refund this tax season, stop and take a few extra minutes to learn about how you can better protect both your and your child’s identity from thieves.

This service and the book Bankrupt at Birth were provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I have received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

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Cookie Dough Brownies for my Valentines

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Valentine's Day Treats

 

 

This is the year of me trying to keep things simple (she says with maniacal laughter).

 

No.  Really.

I’m trying to realize there are simpler ways for me to get things done and I don’t always have to go with my initial, usually dramatic, ideas.

For instance, while I would love to make chocolate double-heart cookies decorated with royal icing to look like candy hearts for the kids’ school parties next week (for those counting … that would be 50 cookies)….. I’ve decided to pare it down and go with something much more simple.

These Valentine themed cookie dough brownies are just the treat!  Last year my friend Misty shared this idea with me and after tinkering with it a little bit I came up with this Valentine version.  Perfect for school … or just for the family.  Never fear, if you have friends/family that are gluten free/dairy free like I do…. I have also included a gluten and dairy free version of the recipe!

Enjoy!

 

Valentine

Valentine

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Add the milk, vanilla and flour, mix until combined.
  • Fold in the M & M's.
  • Spread the cookie dough mixture over the cooled brownies and chill until the dough is set.
  • Melt together 1/2c. white chocolate chips and 1 TBSP shortening. Drizzle it over the top of the brownies. (You will want to skip this step or substitute with Enjoy Life chocolate chips if you are making the recipe dairy free)
  • Roll out a small amount of fondant and use a small heart cookie cutter to cut a heart to top off your brownies.
  • Place the fondant heart on top, using a bit of the melted chocolate to secure it.
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Monday’s Magical Moments: You’re Such a Character!

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Disney Pictures

 

One of my favorite parts of the Disney experience was very unexpected:  the parades.  I absolutely loved them everywhere we went.  The music and the enthusiasm of the characters combine to make a more than memorable event.  With all of the people in the crowds I somehow seemed to get tons of pictures with the characters looking “right at me” …they are so into what is going on around them…playing their parts and not just waving to a crowd.

 



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Monday’s Magical Moments: Sleeping Beauty

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Disney Pictures

 

After two weeks off I’m back to share some of my favorite Magical Moments with Disney!

The very first thing we did at Disney last spring was to take our kids to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where they were properly “Princessed” and “Knighted” for our adventure.  They were so adorable and all of the cast members around Walt Disney World played along:  they greeted SuperGirl with a bow and a “Hello, Princess” … and random strangers graciously commented to her on how adorable she was.

We returned to our room mid-afternoon so I could get ready for the first of many amazing Disney Social Media Mom events; I spent maybe 15 minutes getting ready and when I looked over to the bed… this is what I found:

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Sleeping Beauty

 

Nobody said being a princess was going to be easy.

 

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Make Holiday Memories with Rice Krispies Treats: A Twitter Party!

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Photo courtesy of Kristen at Dine and Dish

Last year I participated in the Rice Krispies Making Memories Challenge with my good friends and fellow Kansas City bloggers, Kristen from Dine and Dish and Kelly from Kansas City Mamas.  We created four different Rice Krispies treats that were unique and a whole lot of fun!  We made Kettle Krispies  …a twist on the salty goodness that is kettle corn, then there were the Tangy Watermelon Treats …these tangy treats were an ode to all things summer and fun!  Halloween brought around a fun monster craft and Cinnamonster Treat Snack Mix…where we turned traditional Rice Krispies treats into a snack mix that frankly, we just couldn’t stop eating!  Finally, we rounded out the year with Snap.Crackle.Poppers!  We rolled and twisted our Rice Krispies into the traditional New Year’s Eve poppers toys that children and adults both love!

While I’ve always loved Rice Krispies treats, I really hadn’t begun making them for my kids yet before this challenge started.  Now?  I’m forever coming up with a new idea that would make them a little different and a lot of fun :) At our house, we also make them with Earth Balance and Gluten Free Rice Krispies to make sure that all of our dairy-free/gluten-free dietary needs are met.

Well, Rice Krispies wants to keep the memories going and has scheduled a Twitter Party with all of the previous contestants from the Making Memories Challenge as we talk about to make Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for the holidays that will  spark memories with your kids that last a lifetime.

The twitter party will take place on Wednesday, December 19, 1-2 p.m. CST. (You can RSVP here or follow the hashtag: #RiceKrispies on Twitter.)

Even better?  Of COURSE there will be prizes!!

Rice Krispies will give away five total prizes, each consisting of a Rice Krispies Treat making kit with all the ingredients you will need to create yummy Rice Krispies Tree Trimmer Treats at home with your little helpers, plus additional holiday-themed goodies. Winners will be chosen randomly from among participants who respond correctly to trivia questions.

It will be a good time… I know this because not only will I be there … but the ladies joining me?  I could sit in a room and chat up for hours!  If you don’t already, follow me, @JennHethcoat , on Twitter along with these wonderful women:

  • Amy, She Wears Many Hats – @WearsManyHats
  • Ashley, Cute as a Fox Creations – @CuteasaFoxBlog
  • Kelly, Kansas City Mamas – @KCMamaKelly
  • Joey, Real Mom Media – @joeyfortman
  • Julie, Mommie Cooks – @mommiecooks
  • Kristen, Dine and Dish – @DineandDish
  • Kristyn, Lil’ Luna – @LilLunaKristyn
  • Sarah, Genesis Moments – @DIYFrugal
  • Wendy, Around My Family Table – @MyFamilyTable

 

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