19 Feb

Tax time – what you can claim

It’s Tax Time Again. Here’s the 411 on What’s New for Your Tax Return.


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The holidays weren’t that long ago but believe it or not, spring will be here before we know it. And with spring comes tax season. Are you ready? Make sure you are up to date on what’s different about your tax return this year because there are new tax credits that can help keep a few dollars in your pocket where they belong. Caroline Battista, senior tax analyst with H&R Block, provides insight into these new credits and who can benefit from them:

• New Family Tax Cut: The Family Tax Cut provides a tax credit to families with children under 18 equal to the tax savings that would be realized if up to $50,000 of taxable income were transferred from the higher income to the lower income spouse or common-law partner. The maximum credit is capped at $2,000.

• Pumped up Children’s Fitness Tax Credit: If your children are active, the government increased the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit to $1,000 and made it retroactive for 2014. Parents should claim the receipts in the year they paid – not the year the activity takes place.

• Remember the First-Time Donor Super Credit: Much like the name implies, if you were a first-time donor in 2014, you will get some extra credit for your donation. Originally introduced last year, when we asked Canadians on a Leger survey if they were aware of the credit, 72 per cent said no.

• New search and rescue credit: Meant to complement the volunteer firefighters credit, search and rescue volunteers who put in 200 hours or more of work can claim a personal amount of $3,000, which means $450 tax savings.

IMG_6458-1And more good news for Canadian families. Though the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) does not show up in your tax refund, parents with children under 18 will start to see an increased benefit in July 2015. For children under six, the monthly amount will be $160 (up from $100) and for children between six and 18, it will be $60 a month. The increase for January to June will be paid in a lump sum in July 2015. And then parents can expect the increased amounts to arrive monthly after that. If you haven’t applied for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, use Form RC66.

These, and other possible credits, can make a difference on your 2014 tax return; even a few dollars can make a difference. Battista advises Canadians to do their homework before they file in order to take advantage of every credit you are entitled to. If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own taxes, visit a local H&R Block office where a professional can assist you in every step, do a thorough review of your information and ensure you don’t miss a thing.

** Disclosure: this is a sponsored post, but I hope you will be able to use some of these tips to get some money back come tax time.

12 Feb

Valentine’s Day Love – Red Velvet Blizzard Cake

We’re in the middle of winter here in Canada.  Despite the cold weather, every year around this time, things heat up because the warmth of love is in the air – if just for a few days.  I truly enjoy showing people love.  I have a lot to give, so while many feel Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, I think it’s fine if we’re reminded if only once a year, that it’s marvelous to show other people love and celebrate it.

Red Velvet Blizzard Cake

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be for “lovers” either.  It’s important to show love to everyone we meet throughout the day (everyday) and especially to those who are nearest and dearest to us.  Caring doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive presents like diamond rings; giving people your undivided attention, being truly engaged, listening, and helping around the house are simple ways to show others you love them. I’m a firm believer that love is present in it’s actions and not simply in words.
I’d be remiss however if I didn’t mention a little something about chocolate (and ice cream) at Valentine’s Day.  It’s pretty much my favorite things together in harmony, love and chocolate and ice cream. The only thing that would make it better is if I was on a warm beach. Valentine’s Day … chocolate … Ice cream … Beach – ok that was kind of a hint – I hope my darling husband is reading this.  Friends, could you please tag him, I prefer to be discrete.

Dreaming……

And I’m back…. But without a tan 🙁

This Valentine’s my family and I cooled things down with a little Red Velvet Blizzard Cupid cake from Dairy Queen.  This cake is the perfect size for our little family of 4 / 5 (my mom’s with us most of the time).  We each had a few small pieces without feeling too guilty.   Generally Dairy Queen cakes are for special occasions with lots of people, birthdays, anniversaries and big parties.  This mini Red Velvet blizzard cake (at only $12.99) is perfect for a smaller get together, family or maybe for lovers to share.  The cake is made with the classic Dairy Queen ice cream but on the inside there’s  a layer of red velvet cake and a layer of blizzard.  We were also able to get the cake personalized in less than 1 minute.  I should have thought of something more creative, but I guess Happy Valentine’s pretty much covers it.

Red Velvet Blizzard Cake1

We often call desserts “love”, so this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to bring a little “love” home.  This little red velvet blizzard cake is available in adorable cupcake form too.

DQ Spoon
Giveaway: 1 lucky Canadian reader is going to receive a $20 Dairy Queen GC as well as a special jewellery box with a fitting surprise.

To Enter: Make a comment below on how you show others love

Bonus Entry: Follow me on Twitter @myweeview and Tweet about this giveaway with a link to this post

Bonus Entry: Like my page on Facebook

 

Giveaway is open to Canadians, closes February 28th @ 11:59 PM AST

 

 

*Disclosure, this is a sponsored post.  But seriously, please think about love not just at Valentine’s Day, but all year round.

 

04 Feb

Thai at home

I love food.  I’m really great at eating food, but not very good at making it.  I need simple and easy to follow recipes.  I also need quick, as a full time working mom, I do not have an extra spare moment to spend slaving away in the kitchen.  There are a few meals that I can get away with making regularly and there are a few things that we’re always better off ordering in.  One type of food that I have never been able to recreate properly is Thai.  While I love the taste, I don’t necessarily love it when I try to make it on my own at home.


An ingredient that is frequently in Thai food is fish sauce.  And to be honest, I never cooked with it – until recently, maybe that’s why my Thai recipes were always off.  So what is fish sauce? Well, if you really want to know the deets …. This info-graph has the whole thing laid out for you.  (There’s a reason I haven’t made fish sauce on my own before…. I don’t have 30 minutes to put together a meal, let alone 9 months to make a sauce.  I guess it’s best to leave this one to the pros).

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To put the fish sauce (and my “stellar” Thai cooking skills) to the test I made a recipe found on the Thai Kitchen website.  Tempura Shrimp!  I absolutely love tempura in restaurants and wouldn’t ever dream of trying it at home, but here I am, trying it at home.  Here’s my website putting me outside of my comfort zone.

Here’s what you’ll need to make tempura shrimp:

Shrimp
Canola Oil
Tempura batter
Thai Kitchen Premium Fish Sauce
Dips (Thai Kitchen Plum SauceThai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili SauceThai Kitchen Pineapple & Chili Sauce)

This is was quick and easy to make.  I literally dipped each shrimp into the fish oil and then rolled them into the tempura mix and popped them on a hot skillet with the canola oil.  They were ready in about 30 seconds on each side.  It’s just a bit harder than sticking bread in the toaster and slathering on peanut butter – that’s my kind of cooking.  Oh yeah, and the verdict? Very yummy!  And not just for  adults, but the kids (6 and 2) enjoyed them too.

They are best served hot so make sure the rest of your meal is ready to go when you throw these in a pan. You’ll be serving up appetizers or a meal (3 or 4 on a skewer) in just a few minutes.  You can use a dip, or just eat them on their own (yes they are that good).

Temputa Shrimp

Now that I’ve tried the shrimp, I’m going to experiment with different veggies (sweet potato tempura, or how about home made onion rings) in the fish oil and tempura batter.  I can’t express how easy it was and how much it did taste very similar to what I would order in a restaurant.  I was actually impressed with myself and perhaps now that I have found the fish oil Thai secret, I won’t be so scared to try other Thai food at home too.

Tempura Shrimp Skewer

When you see fish oil as an ingredient, there’s no need to be scared, use it, it really does make the Thai difference.

Looking for another recipe? How about these Thai Cocktail Meatballs – or check out all the recipes for the #TKeveryday Recipe Challenge.

Enjoy!

*Disclosure, this is a sponsored post.  Please try this, you will like it.  I tried other recipes, and they were not nearly as good. Promise.