February 16, 2018

Happy Lunar New Year! Here's how to make your own delicious Asian dumplings, aka potstickers.

Chinese Dumplings aka Potstickers
Happy Lunar New Year as the Asian world celebrates a new year.

I am a huge fan of Asian-inspired cooking, particularly the spicy cuisines from China's Sichuan and Hunan regions.

And Asian dumplings, better known in the United States as potstickers ... I love 'em, particularly dipped in a hot Chinese chili oil or hot mustard sauce.  But boy, when they are not prepared well ... Yuck!  And in my humble opinion, most of the frozen potstickers available in your local grocery store are simply yuck!

But no worries.  I you do not have a favorite Chinese restaurant to get your potstickers, or if you simply want to make them yourself, making these versatile dumplings is not difficult.  The dough just includes 3 simple ingredients; the dumplings themselves can be filled with just about anything you desire.  Disclosure:  I have not tried a peanut butter and jelly filling.  Yet. 😄

And don't worry if your dumplings don't look perfect.  The appearance isn't going to affect the taste.  Just be certain to roll your dough thin enough so the Asian dumpling isn't too doughy.

To get started on your Asian dumpling aka potsticker kitchen venture, click on the Facebook post below and check out this easy-to-follow and informative post from one of my favorite baking and cooking companies, King Arthur Flour:



新年快乐 (Happy Chinese (Lunar) New Year) everyone!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 15, 2018

L.L.Bean ends its lifetime product guarantee due to abuse ... And gets served with a class action lawsuit just 3 days later!

The L.L.Bean Bootmobile
L.L.Bean.  Gotta admit I'm feeling a bit sorry today for this 100 plus year old boot, clothing, and outdoor recreation equipment company.  Disclosure:  I own no L.L.Bean products, so I have no horse in this race.

What happened at L.L. Bean?  Well you see, for decades (exact time unknown), L.L.Bean has maintained a no questions asked, lifetime replacement guarantee for its products.  But, as so often happens in life, a few bad apples -aka customers, or perhaps not even customers - have been abusing this lifetime guarantee.  And the number of bad apples has been growing.

According to L.L.Bean's executive chairman Shawn Gorman:
“A small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent'.”  Some people had sought “refunds for heavily worn products used over many years.  Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.”
Ouch.  Kinda like the person who continuously returns a TV within a warranty period, simply to get a new one.

Under L.L.Bean's new return policy announced this month, customers will have one year to return an L.L.Bean product, and will be required to provide proof of purchase.  After a year, if an L.L.Bean product shows defective workmanship, the company will work with the customer to provide a "fair solution" to the problem.

Sounds reasonable to me.  I mean, heck, a 30 day return policy is pretty much norm in the retail industry, including with rule-the-world E-commerce behemoth Amazon.

But, the new 1 year return policy is apparently not reasonable for a group of people and their attorney.  Just 3 days after L.L.Bean announce the new return policy ....  yep, 3 days ... the company was served with a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago.  The complaint generally claims that L.L.Bean is dishonoring its "warranty" and that consumers are therefore deprived of the warranty they purchased.  The complaint demands that L.L.Bean either honor the lifetime replacement guarantee or initiate corrective advertising in the form of notices in the L.L.Bean catalog and point-of-sale reminders about the new return policy.


Oh, and don't forget the request for at least $5 million in "damages" to the plaintiff class.  And, of course, payment of the plaintiff class attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses.   You can read more about the lawsuit and download the complaint here.

Perhaps we'll get some new lawyer jokes out of this lawsuit.  Although I'm certain the matter is not funny to L.L.Bean.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 12, 2018

President Lincoln's Birthday: Similarities between President Lincoln and President Kennedy

President Abraham Lincoln
photo credit:  whitehouse.gov
Today is President Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which is recognized as a legal holiday by some municipalities in the United States.  President Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809.  He was assassinated and died on April 15, 1965.

Over the years, an urban legend has grown about similarities ... or alleged similarities ... between the lives of President Lincoln and President Kennedy, who was also assassinated.  Here are just a few of the Lincoln/Kennedy urban legend similarities from Wikipedia:
  • Both presidents were elected to the House of Representatives in '46.
  • Both were losing candidates for their party's vice-presidential nomination in '56.
  • Both presidents were elected to the presidency in '60
  • Both presidents were shot in the head on a Friday seated beside their wives.  Both Fridays preceded a major holiday observed within the week.
  • During the assassination, they were sitting in an alphabetical pattern.  Their spouses first name and both president's last name. J,K,L,M- Jackie, Kennedy, Lincoln, Mary.  Jackie was seated to the left of Kennedy and Mary to the right of Lincoln.
  • Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre; Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in a Lincoln automobile, made by Ford.
  • Both presidents' last names have 7 letters.
  • Both assassins' full names have 15 letters.
  • Each assassin committed his crime in the building where he was employed.
  • Both presidents were purportedly smiling immediately before the assassination began.
  • After shooting Lincoln, Booth ran from a theatre to a warehouse; after shooting Kennedy, Oswald ran from a warehouse to a theatre.
President John F. Kennedy
photo credit: whitehouse.vog
So, what do these similarities mean?  That's up for you to decide!  Mr. Martin Gardener, who has examined pattern trends/coincidences and has written about numerous events, believes 'it is relatively easy to find seemingly meaningful patterns relating any two people or events, but that such patterns often do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. '  There are many more similarities between Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy; read the entire Wikipedia article covering this topic here.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 6, 2018

Tax Preparation - Take care when choosing a tax professional.

As an Enrolled Agent licensed by the United States Department of the Treasury, I am allowed provide tax preparation, tax planning, and taxpayer representation services (for audits and other matters) to clients in all 50 states and US territories.

Did you know that when I sign a tax return I have prepared (or reviewed for a fee), I take legal responsibility for its accuracy?  That's true.  This is a professional responsibility I uphold with great care, which is one reason I place great emphasis on obtaining complete ... and accurate ... information from my tax clients.

"Tax Season" for me does not run from January through April, but rather year round.  For my tax clients - who generally have technical and complex tax concerns, including tax issues in multiple states - taxes are not simply a quick return, but rather a yearround issue.

For tips on selecting a tax professional, visit this recent IRS publication "Ten Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer"

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 4, 2018

Quiz Answer: Can you name the part of the United States Consitution that cannnot be amended?

I recently posted the following quiz:  Can you name the part of the United States Constitution that cannot be amended?

You can read the post and comments here.  No one provided the correct answer.

And the answer is ... drumroll ...

The only part of the United States Constitution that cannot be amended is found in Article 5.  Specifically, the part of Article 5 pertaining to "equal suffrage in the Senate", better known in current day language use as equal representation for each state in the Senate.

Reason?  Many of the Founding Fathers were from lightly populated agricultural areas.  They were concerned that the densely populated communities - then Boston, New York, and Philadelphia - and their respective states (and those states' greater wealth) would be able to control government.  Some delegates labeled this risk as possible tyranny of an aristocratic upper house.  The equal representation clause for Senate representation assures that each state will have the same number of Senators, to balance the representation provided by the state population makeup of the House of Representatives.

At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (summer of 1787), delegates agreed to set the number of Senators to 2 per state, and that each Senator serve 6-year terms.  There was some disagreement on the number of Senators; for instance, Pennsylvania wanted 3 Senators per state.  But in the end, 2 Senators per state was the agreed-upon number.

I have read arguments from some people who believe the Senate representation provision in Article 5 could, in fact, be changed.  Not by an amendment of the constitution (which requires approval from 2/3 of the states), but rather changed by a measure approved by all of the states.  However, I do not know how widely agreed upon this process is by constitutional scholars.  Not that it would ever happen, anyway.

Thanks for participating in the quiz!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts