It's that time of year again, Pantone has announced it's color of the year - Radiant Orchid. Described as a "captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" it's sure to make a statement in your home and office.
This is a bold color - but a pillow or rug in your office or on your couch will have you thinking about spring. Let's kick out winter with a little drama.
In three short days, the 2014 Olympics will come to an end. I don't know about you, but I am amazed with the athletes. They make it all look so easy. But we all know that it has taken them years of practice, lessons and patience to get to Sochi. Watch our twist on the magic of our office Olympics.
Valentine's day is one of the most romantic days of the year and it's tomorrow. Did you forget to make reservations? If you did, you probably have two options for tomorrow - 5 or 9 p.m. Don't despair - plan a romantic night at home and if you feel like it you can even get dressed up for it. Plan on stopping at the grocery store tonight and pick up something extra special. I'm making scallops and spinach. Super easy and super special. After that, maybe movie night at home. Here's the recipe:
Remove scallops and keep warm.
Add shallots and stir; add wine to deglaze the pan, scraping bits from the bottom, then add spinach. Cook for 2 minutes, until wilted. Add lemon juice.
Divide spinach among four plates and top with warm scallops.
And Twist's Top Ten Top Valentine's Day Movie Picks:
Friday is Valentine's Day and we have an easy DIY project to attach a photo or keepsake to a handwritten valentine. And the best part of it: all you need is a paper clip and three easy steps.
1. Start with the paper clip in this direction:
2. Bend middle of clip and push left-hand side upward.
3. Clip bottom tip over papers or pictures. Darling!
The heavy snow and in some places ice on top of snow can cause power outages. Here are some tips to help you survive and stay safe if you lose electricity:
. Include power outages in your family disaster plan. Know where to meet ahead of time because cell phones don't always work during an outage. Freaky, but true.
. Cash - make sure you have more than seven dollars in your wallet. Some restaurants may be open but it could be cash only. Seven dollars does not buy lunch for three people. Weird but true - some banks may not be open. Keep a hidden twenty or fifty dollar bill in your wallet so everyone can eat.
. Gas - make sure you have some. Gas stations rely on electricity to power the pumps. True fact - during a ice/snow event people will be lined up at the pumps like they did in the 70's. Very eerie.
. Turn off all light switches but one. Don't make it the one in your bedroom, unless you want to be woken at 4 a.m. when the power does turn back on.
. Flashlights need batteries. Enough said.
. Don't run a generator inside a home or garage (if you are lucky enough to have one). Use gas-powered generators outside only.
. Keep your phones and other essential electronic devises charged at all times. Do you know how long it takes to charge a cell phone in a car? A long time, trust me.
So, there you have it. A few thoughts to help you survive this crazy winter. And for me, a few glasses of a lovey wine from Tuscany helped me sleep through the night in a house with no electricity, water or heat. How many days till Spring?
With Super Bowl Sunday baring down on us, we wanted to share some of our favorite wing spots. According to the Wall Street Journal more than 1.25 billion wings will be consumed this Sunday. That's four per person for every man, woman and child living in the United States. Wow.
For those of you in Chicago here's our favorites:
1. Bird's Nest
2. Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
3. House of Wings
4. Wild Goose
1. Gators Wing Shack - Palatine
2. Palmer Place - La Grange
And for Minnesota we love:
1. Blue Door Pub
2. Hickory Hut
3. Spring Street Tavern
Where do you go for your favorite wings? If we didn't mention them, let us know and we can talk wings on Monday. Have a safe Super Bowl Sunday.
I don't know about you, but I am ready to skip town on this artic ridiculousness. 56 days to go - my heating system is on the blink for a second day in a row and I'm sick and tired of winter and being cold.
Since 56 days is a long time - I'm going to trick myself into thinking it's spring. I'm going to make my own container terrarium. No soil required, no dirt under my finger tips but maybe it'll take my mind off of the cold.
Winter is the perfect time to try your hand at air plants. Only 3 things required:
Terrarium - you can stop by your local craft store for a great selection.
Air plant - some nurseries are open all year. Check online for your nearest local store. They come in a variety of colors and they love warm air and regular moisture.
Spanish Moss - see above
And if you're not feeling like a DIY project, my local Lowe's sells a ready made air plant for $7.98 - now if I could just blink my eyes and make winter go away I would.
You're not the only one who's busy at year end. With tax season upon us, scammers are working overtime to create new, slicker ways to trick you into divulging personal data in order to steal your money and identity. Watch out for these popular tricks aimed at catching you off guard.
Email scams take many forms, but the best ones come from email addresses that sound legitimate like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. They use the IRS logo with names and signatures of actual IRS executives. If you click on a link within the email, it takes you to a site that looks just like the official IRS website and asks you to provide personal information such as name, address, bank account number, PIN, social security number, or even your mother's maiden name or your place of birth. Often the emails contain misspellings or ungrammatical phrasing common to non-native English speakers, a red flag that it originates overseas. Some of the specific hooks they use to trick you include...
1. Economic Stimulus. The fraudster claims the government has just announced a new, easier way to receive refunds as part of the Economic Stimulus program. To take advantage of it, all you need to do is have your refund direct deposited through an online form. It adds a sense of urgency by saying refunds will be delayed if the online form is not completed by a certain date.
2. Take the survey. In this scam, you're invited to participate in an IRS customer satisfaction survey that pays you $80. It starts with standard questions but ends with asking for your account details so they can credit you the $80.
3. Return errors. This email states that your return has inaccuracies that will delay your refund. For example, your social security number filed does not match the IRS records, or you forgot to sign and date the return. You are asked to confirm personal details before the return can be accepted.
4. You're under investigation. This fraud preys on the fear of every tax-paying American - an IRS investigation. It claims the IRS suspects you of tax fraud and as part of its investigation it demands answers to personal data.
5. Additional refund due. This scheme claims you're owed a refund just discovered by a recent IRS recalculation. It's usually an odd, but legitimate-sounding amount like $156.29. In order to claim it, you must submit a form accessed via a link. Clicking on the link automatically downloads malware that enables crooks to spy and collect your passwords and logins.
If any of this happens to you, email the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org to lodge a complaint.
Although phone scams typically target seniors, they can trick any unsuspecting soul.
1. Social security refund. The fakers tell the victim they can get his or her Social Security payroll taxes refunded for an upfront fee based on the size of the refund. Of course, the refund is inflated as is their upfront fee. The problem is, the law doesn't allow a refund of taxes paid into Social Security.
2. Early bird reward. The caller offers a reward for filing your return early. All you need to do is provide your bank details. They'll even get you on a three-way call with your bank to "help" ensure you'll be properly credited.
The IRS doesn't reward early birds, and for official business they NEVER contact taxpayers via email. They may send out emails with general information, but they will never request personal information online. It uses US Mail for all authorized communication. The only official IRS site is www.irs.gov. You should never go there by clicking on a link but only by typing the address directly into your browser. Tax refunds are strictly obtained through an annual tax return, not a separate application form or any other process. Never give out personal information to unknown callers via the phone.
Start preparing now
Whether you're an early or last minute filer, there's a lot to be aware of this tax season. Stay on the look out and make sure you've got everything lined up to make year-end preparation less taxing. Twists OP has an enormous array of official IRS tax forms and materials to streamline the process. Make your list, check it twice and call them today!
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