Valentine’s Day Crafty Treat

This is a fun activity to do on a cold or rainy day.  Colors can be modified for any holiday.  Kids of practically every age can get involved in making this fun treat.

These treats are salty and sweet and make delicious and cute Valentine treats to share and enjoy. Enlist the help of your kids.

What you’ll need

  • Bite-size, knot pretzels (they look a bit like hearts)
  • Hershey’s Kisses (you choose your favorite type)
  • M&M’s candy (valentines colors or other to suit the season)

How to make magic happen

  1. Heat the oven to 200 F. Set bite-size, twisted knot pretzels (one for each treat) in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss.
  2. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes until the chocolate looks shiny but retains its shape.  Kisses will feel soft when touched with a wooden spoon. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and quickly press an M&M’s candy into the center of each Kiss.
  3. Allow the treats to cool for a few minutes, then place them in the refrigerator to set, about 15 minutes. Enjoy and Share!  We made half with classic milk chocolate kisses and milk chocolate M&Ms and half with dark chocolate kisses and dark chocolate M&Ms.  100% Delicious! 
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Book Review: The World Cannot Give

The World Cannot Give

This book is going to be wildly popular, and deservedly so.

I put down another book I was reading in order to eagerly start The World Cannot Give when I received the ARC because the early reviews compared it to A Secret History By Donna Tartt and A Separate Peace by John Knowles, two books that really affected me many years ago. In the end, The World Cannot Give did not disappoint, but it was slow going at first.

To me, the first half read pretty slow but the build-up was well worth it. The dynamic among the ensemble of characters was unique and familiar at the same time, making it very believable, despite its absurdity. The story is set at an elite Northeastern prep school and the characters are familiar in that they are believable in the setting. Laura is new to the school, so the other characters are seamlessly introduced to the reader as she meets them. Virginia immediately becomes a larger-than-life idol to both the reader and to Laura simultaneously. The boys whom Virginia has under her spell each play their own important role in the story.

The tension slowly builds, leaving the reader to carefully predict what will happen to each person in the story, yet each turn is surprising.

I strongly recommend The World Cannot Give to all kinds of readers, from YA and up. Book clubs will love this one and I predict it will be made into a limited series for one of the many streaming services. I would definitely watch it. I’ve already encouraged my many voraciously reading friends and family to get this book when it is published.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC of The World Cannot Give.

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It’s National Popcorn Day- Try a MilFam Business to Celebrate

Today is National Popcorn Day (yes, there truly is a day for EVERYTHING), so it seems fitting to feature  popcorn company Hot Sugar Pop!

Dual-military couple Will & Tiffany Glass started Hot Sugar Pop in 2018, but they’ve been popping popcorn for years. Will, a former Army culinary specialist who retired after 21 years and Tiffany, an Army Major serving as a nurse at Fort Knox, got into popcorn because it was one of the only snacks their oldest son could eat due to several food allergies.

They started experimenting with flavors and discovered people loved what they were making. Now they’ve got a Hot Sugar Pop storefront in Fayetteville, N.C., and also sell their popcorn online.

>>Follow @militaryfamiliesmagazine on Instagram for your chance to win popcorn from Hot Sugar Pop! 

And  even if you don’t win, Hot Sugar Pop is offering Military Families Magazine readers 20% off their popcorn purchases between now and the end of January! Just use promo code MILITARYFAMILIES20 at checkout.

Reposted from Military Families Magazine

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Legislation Introduced to Provide Financial Support to Military Members and Their Families

The following is a press release announcing legislation that could be very helpful to military families. Financial planning is a stumbling block for a great number of service members and their families. If enacted, the new will would provide avenues for military families to become more financially secure.

Contact your Member of Congress to voice your support for The Financial Readiness of America’s Servicemembers Act of 2021 (202) 224-3121

Nov 10, 2021 Press Release

Washington, D.C.  – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), Chair of the House Suburban Caucus, and Congressman David Scott (D-GA) released the following statement after they introduced the Financial Readiness of America’s Servicemembers Act

“The Financial Readiness of America’s Servicemembers Act of 2021 is important legislation that will improve and enhance financial training and the accessibility of such training for military servicemembers and their spouses,” said Congresswoman Ann Wagner.  “Military families sacrifice so much for us, and we must ensure they have every tool they need to provide for their financial security and that of their family.  This bill is especially important this week as we recognize the sacrifices veterans have made for us on Veterans Day, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help our veterans however I am able.”

“Even without the unique challenges our military personnel face, navigating the nuances of retirement benefits and savings choices can be challenging,” said Congressman David Scott. “For servicemembers making extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf every day, added stressors including deadlines, knowledge gaps, or motivation to manage the planning and execution of retirement benefits alone can prove to be additional barriers to financial readiness. With this bipartisan bill, we can work together to deliver the improved financial literacy resources our servicemembers deserve to take full advantage of the best options offered under the Blended Retirement System and build financial security for their families.”

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Wounded Heroes Documentary

If you or someone you care about suffers from PTSD, read on…

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Wounded Heroes, an award-winning documentary directed/produced by filmmaker Michael Gier and released by Gier Productions, LLC, is a three-year passion project that features successful alternative treatments that give anyone battling PTSD their lives back.

There have been many films produced about PTSD, but this is the first film that features options that heal PTSD.

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports anywhere from 17 to 22 Veteran suicides every day. Most are given prescription medications; some of these medications are black labeled with serious side effects. It’s time for better solutions. 

Gier says, “Many battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder believe that it’s a “life sentence” but as the film shows, that’s not true. Wounded Heroes features Veterans that had lost hope but now have their lives back because their PTSD is gone. They went from contemplating suicide to living happy fulfilling lives.”

“I feel alive again, I feel rejuvenated, I feel like a soldier again.” – Kyle Green, US Army

“I’m happier today than I’ve ever been in my entire life.” – Chuck Gardea, US Air Force

“I didn’t even know this kind of happiness was possible.” – Sherri Waters, US Army

The film not only features successful alternative treatments but also features steps for success. Gier says, “First, try the treatment option that’s most appealing and then follow up with other treatment options because they work well in combination. Second, find like-minded people that have your back; don’t fight this battle alone. Third, it’s vital to find a new mission; a purpose bigger than yourself.”

With the stresses of Covid, a divided country politically, and now the loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban, it’s time to help people heal. Wounded Heroes is a film that features solutions, not only for Veterans, but also for police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and anyone battling PTSD.

Wounded Heroes is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, VUDU, YouTube Movies, Roku, and Vimeo On Demand.

The “Sponsor a Hero” program gives people the opportunity to purchase screenings that are then given to heroes at no cost. It’s a great way for people to pay it forward as a thank you in appreciation for all they do.

Visit to watch the trailer, film excerpts, press interviews, and get more details about the Sponsor a Hero program.

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Empower Oversight Discovers Conflicts of Interest and Potential Insider Trading Enabled By the VA

From Empower OversightWASHINGTON —The Veterans Administration (VA) provided more than 1,200 pages to Empower Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding conflicts of interest and potential insider trading. The documents confirm the Department is stonewalling congressional oversight requests.
Based on whistleblower disclosures, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote to the VA on April 2, 2021, and July 20, 2021, asking several questions about conflicts of interest and potential insider trading enabled by the VA. Although the documents include what appears to be a complete response to Senator Grassley drafted more than six months ago—the VA has still failed to transmit the response to the Senator. The copy provided to Empower Oversight through FOIA has all the substantive responses to the Senator’s questions redacted.
Additionally, newly produced internal VA emails appear to show the VA struggling to answer a key policy question posed by Senator Grassley about how the agency protects retail investors from selective leaks of material non-public information. In one email, a VA employee writes, “we have never seen anything like this before.” The answer arrived at after exchanges between various subject matter experts is fully redacted from the documents.
A previously uncovered set of VA documents showed senior VA officials smearing and taking credit for firing a whistleblower who raised similar issues to those in Senator Grassley’s letters. On September 21, Empower Oversight published a detailed report on the controversy that led to its FOIA requests.
If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to assist Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.
Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research (EMPOWR) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to enhancing independent oversight of government and corporate wrongdoing. EMPOWR works to help insiders document and report corruption to the proper authorities while also seeking to hold authorities accountable to act on those reports.
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Congress Misses Opportunity to Help Military Families By Fixing Tricare Young Adult Shortcoming


Shared from

National Military Family Association

Most Americans get their healthcare through work – and military families are no different, earning their health care benefit through years of service. And while they make many sacrifices to do so, the quality of their health care coverage shouldn’t be among them. TRICARE, the military health insurance, should be on par or better than coverage available through commercial plans.

But TRICARE falls short in important ways – and Congress just missed an opportunity to fix that.

The National Military Family Association (NMFA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are disappointed that the House Armed Services Committee failed to include a key piece of legislation in the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. H.R. 475, the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, would have brought TRICARE in line with commercial insurance plans by automatically covering young adult dependents up to age 26 under their parents’ plan.

Military families deserve the same health care protections as their civilian counterparts; it is disheartening that Congress is allowing this inequity to continue.

For more than a decade, commercial insurance plans have been required to cover beneficiaries’ young adult dependents up to age 26. As a result, millions of civilian families enjoy the security of knowing their young adult dependents have access to high quality, affordable health care without breaking the bank.

Military families do not have that security.

Because TRICARE is not required to extend coverage to young adult dependents, military families must purchase a separate, premium-based plan to cover them after they reach age 23 – a clear inequity and a financial burden.

“These young adults are the same kids who spent their childhood worried about mom or dad while they were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Besa Pinchotti, NMFA Executive Director and CEO. “They served alongside their military parents, changing schools over and over again, leaving friends behind—understanding it’s all part of military life. They deserve the same access to affordable health coverage their civilian friends have.”

“It’s time to modernize TRICARE eligibility and bring it on par with commercial plans,” added Lt Gen Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret). “Congressionally-directed military health system reforms have meant increased costs for many military families. Reform must also include addressing glaring parity gaps to ensure the TRICARE benefit reflects the extraordinary risks and sacrifices associated with military service and remains an effective recruiting and retention tool.”

We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) for acting to address this inequity by introducing the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act. We are also thankful for the more than 70 Members of Congress who signed on to support this legislation. We’re asking Congress to follow their lead and act to end this inequity.

Our military kids have served and sacrificed their entire lives. The least we can do is make sure they have the same health care benefits as their civilian friends.

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Renting Out US Property While Living Overseas

It is a recurring theme among many Americans who live abroad to rent your home while you travel. Many people do not want to give up their residence because they plan to return in the near future or because they want to earn some extra money on the side. Additionally, letting your home be rented out is an excellent way to preserve the equity that has accrued over time while also making the home profitable.

In the event that you are a US citizen living overseas and have people who rent out your home in the United States, you will be obligated to report several things to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every year. We’ll go into greater detail about this later.

Tax Consequences to Selling a House

While it’s easy to understand that you don’t want to give up your US residence while you’re living in another country, renting out your home comes with its own set of tax commitments. One of them is the requirement to retrieve all depreciation from the time the property was rented, regardless of whether the property is being sold at a loss or a profit.

The property value reduction must then be taxed as a result of this. Furthermore, even if no deduction from depreciation is collected, your net loss or profit on the arrangement of the US property must be calculated in the same way that it would be if depreciation had been claimed.

Taxes When Renting Out Your House While Living Abroad

If you employ property management firms to monitor and report income and expenses related to your property, the costs can add up quickly. However, this tact has the advantage of providing you with an annual income and expense report that you can use when filing your US expat tax returns.

The use of rental property management software or an online spreadsheet to stay on top of all your US home transactions is an option if you make a decision to manage your US property from abroad. In the United States, you can lessen your expat tax burden if you effectively record and maintain financial details about your residence in the United States.

Staying on Top of US Property Expenses

The depreciation on your rental property, as an American expat living outside the United States, is one of the most significant tax deductions you could have with your US residence. Depreciation is a reduction in the value of an asset over time as a result of general wear and tear.

Consider the case of a house where the paint has begun to peel off the walls and the stairs have become rickety over time. Because of the organic wear and tear on the home, it may appear unattractive to prospective buyers, resulting in a decrease in the sale price of the property.

Consequently, you can begin depreciation from the date your home is placed on the market for rent, and the process will last for 27.5 years in total. The basis, or the amount of money you depreciated, will be less than the adjusted basis or less than the fair market value of your residence. In order to calculate the amount of depreciation that will be taken, you can subtract the property’s initial cost and divide it by 27.5 years, for example. 

Additional deductible home expenses can be included in your US tax forms; some examples are as follows:

·  home repairs

·  homeowner association dues

·  cleaning

·  travel expenses to repair the property or collect rent

·  mortgage interest

Landlord Insurance Whilst Living Abroad

The total amount of rent you received from the United States while living as an American overseas must be disclosed on your annual tax return. This holds true for the following as well:

·  The normal monthly rental fees

·  What your tenants pay for repair services – such as pest control or window repairs – is referred to as the “repair fee.”

·  When a tenant is unable to pay rent on time (defaults on payments)

·  The tenant causes damage to the property and, as a result, is unable to receive their security deposit back. You have the right to claim income from their security deposit!

Furthermore, security deposits are not considered taxable income. Additionally, if your tenant trades their services in exchange for rent, you may be able to deduct the fair market value of the rent from your income tax return as a deduction.

Schedule E

According to the IRS, Schedule E (Form 1040) can be used to report the following items:

·  income or loss from rental real estate, estates, royalties, trusts, S corporations, partnerships, and residual interests in REMICs – real estate mortgage investment conduits.

There is a limit of three residential properties that can be reported per Schedule. Moreover, the state in which your property is located in the United States may impose income tax on you. As a result, you may be required to file a state tax return. It really depends on the tax regulations for each state, and you can get in touch with Taxes for Expats if you want to be certain.

When you’re living overseas, it can be hard to keep up with the tax laws of your home country. However, there are some solutions that will help simplify this process for you and allow you to live abroad worry-free. TFX is a company that specializes in helping expat taxpayers find ways around their US taxes so they don’t have to pay them twice! If you’ve ever found yourself wishing there was an easier way to take care of all these pesky international financial obligations, now’s your chance. 

Guest Post By: Veronica Rhodes from TFX

TFX is a women-owned tax firm that offers all U.S. tax services — for both American citizens and non-citizens with U.S. tax filing requirements. From straightforward expat tax preparation to complex cases involving multiple factors — we’ve handled it all for over 25 years.

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My UnOrthodox Life- Trainwreck or Triumph?

By now, if you are in any way connected to Jewish life, you have heard of the Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life. I’ve seen several polemic opinion pieces about it written by people who have not actually seen the show. Rabbi Yonason Goldson, for instance, even made the bold proclamation, “I have absolutely no intention of watching the new Netflix series My Unorthodox Life.” They have no first-hand familiarity of any of the cast members’ character traits, nor do they know the characters’ personal backgrounds.

I agree with much of the written criticism of the show, but it is dangerous when writers, and individuals in general, criticize things we haven’t seen for ourselves, and we Jews, who have to fend off baseless criticism from all directions lately, should know better.

As a military family, we have been posted all around the world, so my husband, our four sons, and I have established a strong connection with Chabad communities who have embraced us, and we straddle the worlds of very modern secular and very traditionally observant.

I first heard of the show from a Jewish Instagram account that I follow, and I immediately pulled it up on my laptop to see what the fuss was about. I generally don’t watch this genre of reality tv, so that, in and of itself, might have kept me from tuning in, but the stars of the show are Jewish, and I will watch, read, or listen to, anything Jewish, and curiosity got the best of me. I grew up in a Reform Jewish synagogue, but have become increasingly more observant in my adult life.

I watched less than a minute before judging it as a trainwreck, reality tv at its best, and worst. So bad, it’s good. So absurdly disturbing, but also intriguing and compelling in many ways. Julia Haart seems to have gone from frum to flaunting in an extremely obnoxious, over-the-top fashion.

However, if you watch the show you’ll see, while a lot of the time Haart is very critical of the community she left, she also celebrates her son who is still frum and figuring out how he wants to be and how he wants to live his life, and she remains friends with her ex-husband, who is still religiously observant. She provides kosher meals for her observant family members, and is deeply respectful to everyone in her life, whether they are modest, traditional, and deeply observant, or theatrical and modern.

When you look beyond the chutzpah and theatrics, Haart truly has a heart of gold. She loves her family deeply and extends herself to young people to help them reach their full potential personally and professionally. She’s doing really good work.

Of course the show is full of drama and criticism of Haart’s personal former community, but it also presents people (her daughter and son-in-law, and her sons) balancing an observant life with a modern life. She clearly suffered trauma in the ultra-orthodox world of her upbringing, but it’s important for people to know that her former community is only one group in a vast spectrum of the strict Hassidic and Orthodox Jewish life. She felt that world was restricting her, so she left it behind to create a new life for herself. Her accomplishments are colossal and her menschiness is busting at the seams of her couture accoutrements. I recommend that you watch the show with a careful, critical, inquisitive mind, and you will learn that there are many ways to be Jewish. I look forward to reading more about her story.

In this wild series of 9 episodes, look beyond the enormous ostentation and you’ll see that the message is clear and solidly Jewish: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

#MyUnorthodoxLife #MilitaryBlog #Jewish #Jewishblog #StlJewishLight #RabbiYonasonGoldson @yonasongoldson #lovethyneighborasthyself #jewishblog #Netflix #Brazen #brazenbyjuliahaart

@netflix @JuliaHaart
@EliteWorldGrp @batshevahaart @miriamhaart

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Alert: Food Assistance For Military Families


Do you have children who aren’t receiving meals at school due to virtual learning? Are you in a military family and curious about how to access food support for your children?
On Wednesday, April 28, our partners at the Food Research & Action Center will join us, the Military Family Advisory Network, in providing insight into the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer and summer feeding programs. These programs have made adjustments to ensure that support is reaching families in need and that more families than ever are eligible to access food assistance.

Register for the event.

#military #militaryfoodinsecurity #militarfamily #militaryhunger #militaryfoodassistance #milfam #MFAN #foodhelp #militaryevent #militarygiftcard #giftcard #FoodResearch&ActionCenter #militaryblog #militaryfamilyblog #milfamblog #militaryfamilyhelp #FRAC #covid19foodinsecurity #militaryfoodpantry

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