Baby Clothes Overstock and Clearance Items – Why Donating Makes Sense

Retail clothing storeowners inevitably face the same situation year after year – a surplus of last season's styles in some form or another. This is good news for the consumer, as prices on these items are typically slashed well below retail in order to make room for new products. But what to do with the clearance items that remain on the shelves well into the next season? Or what if there simply is not enough room to hang on to these items any longer once new products arrive? Storeowners who find them facing these questions may want to consider donating overstock and / or clearance items to a worthy charitable organization.

In many cases, making a sizeable donation will not only benefit the many people touched by the organization receiving your donation, it may make a positive impact on your bottom line by allowing your business a tax write-off at the end of the year. If you are considering making a sizeable donation, you may first want to contact your tax advisor to discuss how the donation would affect your tax scenario.

It is advisable to spend some time researching potential organizations prior to donating. There are seemlessly countless organizations out there that are willing to take donations of clothing and accessory items. When choosing an organization, make sure first and foremost that the organization is not-for-profit, as this ensures the potential tax-benefit of donating. It may be easier to locate large national organizations, but it is worth to research smaller local organizations as well. These local organizations often do not receive the level of exposure necessary to meet their demands at the same level as larger organizations. As is the case in so many situations, the internet is generally the best source of information for researching charitable organizations. In addition, consult your local phone book, and ask around. Chances are you already know someone who has some sort of connection to a local charity – use those connections!

Once you have selected a non-profit organization to receive your donation, it is important to obtain a single point-of-contact within the organization. This person can organize the receipt of your donation, which in many cases can be arranged to take place at your business or warehouse. It is a good idea to provide an itemized list of the donation, including wholesale value, to your point-of-contact at the time of the donation. This list will not only help to document inventory in your records, it will also be a helpful tool for the charity to reference while incorporating the donation items into their existing product supply. In turn, ask that they provide you with a "letter of receipt", acknowledging and referencing the value of the donation. This letter will provide documentation that will be needed to validate the tax write-off. Be sure to discuss the significance of this letter with your point-of-contact prior to making the donation, and follow-up soon as the donation is made to be sure the letter is generated in a timely manner.

Learning Spanish Courses – For Work Or Play

Learning a language, especially Spanish can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I have put together a few tips on surviving the Spanish language course.First of all, if you have ever decided on learning Spanish or you think it’s time to knuckle down and finally learn Spanish, you are in luck because there has never been a better time to learn it. More and more countries are accepting Spanish on their school curriculum’s as there are more Spanish speakers venturing to other countries seeking out new lives. If you do not want to “miss the boat” as it were, now’s the time to study Spanish.

Below I’ve made some bullet points on learning Spanish effectively.

Why learn Spanish in the first place

First of all, before you begin your classes it would be a good idea to know your exact reasons for wanting to learn the language. Is it for work or play? In other words, do you need it in your job or is your learning Spanish more orientated to towards leisure or culture? So many people are finding better employment these days as a direct result of learning a language such as Spanish. The opportunities that exist are literally endless – translation, catering/restaurants, government and civil servant jobs to name but a few. I’m quite sure your boss will appreciate you that much more too, let alone your personal finances! Yes, having another language is a tool that helps you earn more money and that can’t be bad, can it? Also, your boss will be inclined to promote you as you will be an invaluable asset to his or any company.

If you have motives other than your job or career then I’m sure you’ll find learning Spanish a rewarding hobby. Just think about being able to converse with your new neighbors in Spanish! How welcome you’d make them feel by chatting to them in their native language. Imagine impressing your family and friends by ordering your next meal at a Mexican or Spanish restaurant in fluent Spanish.

Learning because of love

Maybe you’ve set your heart on learning the Spanish language because of love. Maybe you have met the girl or boy of your dreams and the language barrier has reared its ugly head. What a fine and noble opportunity to learn your future mate’s language and converse properly with them. One of the best methods to learn Spanish today is by using one of the very many online Spanish course methods. There are a few good ones on the internet today and they are all highly recommended for learning the language.

So whether it’s to improve your career, to enrich yourself culturally or even love then you could hardly go wrong in starting out on the right foot with an online Spanish course.

Traveling in Mexico: Internet Cafes in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa

INTERNET CAFES IN THE ZONA ROSA

While you're tooling around Mexico, you'll want to stay connected. Mexico City has excellent internet café facilities even for those who Spanish is not the greatest. English is spoken in many internet cafés in the Zona Rosa and Historic District. Here are some of your e-café options.

Café Internet Victal

Address: Hamburgo No. 108 local 101 at the corner of Genova

Phone: 514 – 4161, 672 – 3821

With a going rate of 20 pesos per hour, this is one of the cheapest full-service Internet cafés in the area. Chats, computer games, and office programs (word, Excel, etc.) are also available. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. The Victal is open from 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and is open on Sundays half a day. There are many computer-related services available – if it has to do with computers, they can probably do it or have it. Getting into the place is tricky at first. From the corner of Genova walk down Hamburgo about a quarter of a block. Enter the building through an arcade doorway and go up to the second floor. The entrance will be there but you'll have to look closely for the signs. The only visible signs from the street are above your head at the second story level with no clue for finding the entrance. You may have a short wait to get onto a computer but this place is worth the trouble.

Coffee Net – Zona Rosa

Address: Florencia No. 35 Local E (between Hamburgo and Londres)

Phone: 533 – 0844, 533 – 1760

An Internet café – cafeteria featuring a variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads, gourmet coffes and cappuccinos. The hourly rate is 25 pesos. Services are acceptable quality but a bit costly. Centrally located with good quality but pricey food.

Coffee Mail

Address: Amberes No. 61

A 24 pesos hourly rate internet café with standard fare. Similar in structure and price to Coffee Net but with less selection of sandwiches, coffees and foods. Regular customers typically come in to check or send e-mails. Other services are available but not heavily used.

Café Internet Red 2000

Address: in the Insurgentes metro station plaza

Phone: no phone

After exiting the metro at the Insurgentes station, this Internet café is in the outside plaza surrounding the station entrances. Long distance phone services are available through the internet. Rates are: 15 minutes 8 pesos, 30 minutes 16 pesos, 45 minutes 24 pesos, one hour 30 pesos. Only sodas and packed snacks are available.

Conecte Cafe

Address: Liverpool No. 140 (near Amberes)

Phone: 587 – 6179, 587 – 7737

A very well run internet café with full computer services including scanner, photoshop, translations, printing, Microsoft office and MP3 software available, all at reasonable rates. The internet use rate is 20 pesos per hour but there are only a few computers. Located across from Harmon Hall and Quick Learning building. There is also another Zona Rosa location at Genova No. 1. 71 on the first floor near Londres.

NOTE: There are other Internet cafés around the Zona Rosa area with varyingly higher prices for similar services.

In the Historic District:

LAFOEL Internet Service

Address: Doncelles No. 80 first floor (two blocks from the cathedral)

Phone: 512-3584, 521-2978

Open Monday to Friday from 9 am – 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am – 5 pm. Rates for services are: 10 pesos for 15 minutes, 20 pesos for 30 minutes and 30 pesos for one hour. Conveniently located near the Zocalo but a bit on the high side for service costs. Okay just to check mail or send a quick message though. They also rent computer equipment. Just be sure to confirm the rates before signing anything or leaving the promises with equipment.

Finally, be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico. If you would like more information, have questions or comments, the author can be e-mailed, see below.

Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.