Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Regardless of who you voted for, you can't deny how historic last night was. I definitely cried watching the crowds at Grant Park and then watching Obama's acceptance speech. (I wonder what kind of puppy they're going to get?) I wish his grandmother had been able to see this, but I know all of them were watching from above.

I read a lot of articles today (since when am I such a political junkie?), and this one really got to me.
images from here and here

"Ferris Bueller, you're my hero"

I just saw here (who got it from here) that this Friday at the Village Halloween Parade in NYC that they're recreating Ferris Bueller's "Twist & Shout" Chicago parade scene. How cool will that be? I've never understood why this never happens in real life.

In 24 hours, I'll be down in South Padre, sitting in the hot tub with my honey and enjoying an adult beverage. With the beautiful weather they've been having, how can I possibly be expected to handle school work on a day like this?

I'm totally going to rock the 3 new bikinis I bought at J. Crew final sale in a moment of weakness. My previous efforts to not give in to unnecessary
(And the suits from that post were long-gone in my size.) Moral of the story? If you're going to give in to temptation eventually, might as well do it right away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Sister is Held Even Closer

A really good article on Stephanie Nielson. (Have tissues on hand.) She's supposed to have been waking up this weekend - I'm anxiously awaiting more updates.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You can also shrink it so you can put it in your pocket if you need to

I love the Megapixel Giant Touch Map! I missed this last night since I went to the Hostess with Mostess Halloween Hip Hostess event:

This one's pretty good too. Why is SNL only funny during election season?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The first thing I turn to in my daily list of reads are the blogs in my Personal Finance folder. I learn a lot - demystifying investing, thoughts on the economy, what others are doing to get out of debt or build up their savings, (anonymous) people's budgets and net worth. It helps to keep me on track, makes me give more thought to needs vs wants, and ideas on living a well-balanced life while putting off immediate satisfaction today for a comfortable (and hopefully early) retirement. I thought I'd share some interesting things I've found lately on the blogosphere:

It's the Economy, Stupid! An easy-to-read, high-level view of the history of the US economy. Go edumacate yourself.

FruGal posts on Frugal: So hot right now I have been made fun of in the past for my frugal ways (seriously, why pay more than you have to?), but turns out I was just totally ahead of the trend. People are always copying me.

Mrs. Micah writes how Women's Magazines sell Faux Frugality I love indulging in fashion magazines but often walk away feeling a bit down when scanning the prices of the clothes. The article highlights Marie Claire's "Splurge vs Steal" feature, where the "steal" is often a couple hundred dollars but is *such* a bargain in comparison to the splurge at $1500. Sometimes they do have pieces that truly are inexpensive, like a top from H&M, but everything they mix it with is pricey so the outfit is still outrageous. It's the same with home decor and wedding magazines. (Look at these beautiful wedding gowns! This Oscar de la Renta can be yours for $10,000! This Vera Wang is price upon request, but you know you deserve it for YOUR SPECIAL DAY!) Just once I'd like to see truly frugal finds.

I'm usually not tempted by things that are comparative bargains (except maybe once they fall under a certain dollar limit!). I'm a member of both Gilt Groupe and ideeli (let me know if you want an invite to either!), and I haven't come (too) close to buying anything yet. Lots of times the "bargain" is still something I would never spend (this Valentino dress is $2498, down from $10,550),

but I often see things in a range that are what I would normally spend, or are maybe a bit over but still a good deal for a quality piece you will wear for years (like this Valentino skirt for $198 down from $750 - still a little high for me, but a more realistic example)

(On a side note, I don't care how rich you are, I'd be pretty annoyed to buy something for $10k and *maybe* wear it once before it's reduced to $2500 for us commoners to partake.) Unfortunately you can't fully view the sales before they happen to pick something to snatch up, and the best steals quickly sell out. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve when it comes to clothes bargain-hunting that I'll save for a later post.

I mentioned that I do have my weaknesses at a certain dollar point, but Brown Eyed Girl and Money keeps me in check - even if it's only 25 cents and you don't need it, you've spend 25 cents on something that just adds clutter to your life. She recounts her struggle to walk away from a cashmere cardigan that was 50% off of $300 - and then she remembered that it was still $150 and that there will always be more sales.

Finally, check out Get Rich Slowly's review of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Stuff is just stuff, and you wouldn't even miss it if you didn't know it existed. (That being said, I still check out sales but try to do so with a specific purpose in mind, and am usually successful at exercising restraint.) See how the world wide webs keep me on track?

Watch this video - You saw it - Natalie says that to tough out this economic storm I *need* to get a puppy. I want the furry white guy at 39 seconds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Believe it or Not...

I got home from work early today and hung out with DH for a bit before going to Catholic class. He was deep into studying, but he keeps the TV on in the background (usually TBS) and it was Seinfeld time. I never watched Seinfeld the first time around so I'm a decade late in sharing this (has it really been a decade?), but we were both in stitches today over George's answering machine message:

George's Answering Machine - Jerry Seinfeld

I'm not sure why we think it's so funny, but I keep replaying and singing it for James. I should totally record this for my cell phone. Not knowing the origin of the song, I turned to YouTube:

The Greatest American Hero, an early 80s sitcom drama-comedy! The plot looks a little complicated for me. And not to be confused with Great American Hero, home of (one of) my favorite Dallas sandwich. Life makes sense now.

Navy, marigold, & white may be my favorite color combo ever

So I've always been a blue gal when it comes to decor, especially navy. I had never been a big fan of yellow, but now I can't stop gravitating toward it was well. Right after we shared the news of our engagement with DH's family, one of the first questions I remember was "what colors are you thinking?" My immediate answer was that the BM dresses would be navy, and so we started discussing flower colors. Pink...I guess? Hmm. Then MIL in suggested I do yellow, and that was it - navy & yellow! (I like to call it marigold.) I am so in love with this combo now. Behold some of my fave photos from my wedding inspiration board:

(I believe both of these came from In Style)

What I've seen in inspiration boards around the blogosphere is how well something like a wedding or fashion inspiration/mood board can be translated to one for the home. I need to work on one; I think it'd give me more focus on finishing out what we're going to hang where, what pieces are still missing, etc. You may be seeing a lot of posts using these colors.

I have nothing yellow in my house, but I think I need an item (or two) that would quickly give that punch of color. How about these throw pillows in navy & yellow on clearance for $5.50 at Pier 1?

I wish our house had more white, too. (Oddly enough, as white walls are so often classified as boring.) The sectional, double chair, and ottoman are tan, and almost the entire condo is painted tan as well. (The nature of how the house is laid out would make it difficult to repaint just a single room, so painting to introduce color isn't a good option.) All of this contributes to some darkness, as well as a blah factor. So even though I'm not supposed to be buying anything new, I'm keeping my eye out for some inexpensive finds (like the pillows above), and thinking of some ways to repurpose what I already have.

Before I get too carried away with this color scheme, I think I'm only going to let it manifest itself in the living room and my office/dressing room (this is the room next to our bedroom that I have totally taken over for myself). Different shades of blue will probably be a key component throughout the house though - I'm hoping that leads to a nice cohesiveness as opposed to, "doesn't she know there are other colors?" What do you think? "Signature color combo" or "needs to branch out?"

Speaking of inexspensive finds like the pillows above, I'm going to be interested to see what kind of deals I can score as Linens 'n Things goes out of business. Everything's currently at 30%, but I'm hoping there will still be some good merch left by the time they get to 40-50% (or maybe more!) While we received so many lovely wedding presents (*mustfinishthankyounotessoon*), it's the functional items on the registry that we actually need that we didn't get. (I totally covet all the pretty & practical organizational things, but of course no one wants to buy those.) So, this might be a great opportunity to pick some of these kinds of things up on the cheap!

I leave you with some quotes on the color yellow from a recent post on Apartment Therapy:

"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are
others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot
into the sun." - Pablo Picasso
"How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun." - Vincent Van Gogh

"She was wearing a canary-yellow two-piece bathing suit, one piece of which she would not actually be needing for another nine or ten years." - J.D. Salinger

Doesn't it just make you happy?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

So, I've been looking for *something* to go in our entryway. According to the design sites I look at, I need a "landing strip". (Just don't try to Google the phrase.) Somewhere to drop off the keys and bags, place a cute vase on, hang some art over. The flooring in the entry was just redone, and now I just need something to finish it out.

This console from Wisteria has been reduced from $630 to $220 - whoa! - but I'm hoping to find something magical (read: free) from the in-laws' storage shed or on Craigslist.

Since a table would go against the wall next to the front door and we always come in through the garage, which is located next to the stairs (which we immediately take up to the living area), maybe we'd never actually use the table. But a place to corral mail before it gets carried upstairs and scattered around would be nice. I really like this from Urban Outfitters:

And this hook (also Urban) is just plain cute:

I also really, really, really (and recently decided that I) want a card catalog. Behold:

(from here)

(and this lucky duck got hers for free on Craigslist!)

Um, how incredibly great (and versatile!) would one of these be? I could put it in an office and store craft supplies, in a kitchen with all kinds of neat goodies, and what I'm looking for - in the entryway and put all of the little odds & ends - keys, mail, sunglasses, scarves, gloves. I read that they also hold bottles of wine quite nicely (I don't know if I'd do that). Plus, I (briefly) wanted to be a librarian when I was young. Oh card catalog, I want you.

(love the original label on this one)

I found an smaller one (30 drawers) on eBay that could fit the bill with a coat of paint. I showed it to DH, and while I think he secretly liked it (who wouldn't?!), I think he's trying to put a moratorium on adding anything to our home that will later have to be moved. He's always ruining my fun. I was seriously considering bidding on the one I found, since at under $100 it's much cheaper than others I've seen, but I'm sure the shipping costs would be quite high.

What do you think? Should I hold out and hope to come across the perfect card catalog on my local Craigslist? Or am I crazy to want one and should just get a regular, boring console table? (Or make DH happy and not get anything - don't say this option!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cleaning up the Ol' Google Reader

So I have a ton of blogs in my Google Reader with no possible way to come close to reading most of them. So for every new personal finance or interior design blog I add, I need to remove some others. (This should also be my policy for anything new I bring into my home, and I'm working on it.) Today I'm removing Cake Wrecks. While hilarious, it needs to go. I think my friend Meg would really enjoy it, though.

Megan, "Babylicious" runs circles around this!
all via Cake Wrecks

I did add something similar (in terms of only having humor value) yesterday: It's Lovely! I'll Take It!, a blog of bad photos from real estate listings. I've often wondered how people think they can sell their house when the photos they've posted look like these:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I can't believe people really believe this

I keep seeing more and more articles of crowds acting like this. Who actually believes this crap? I received a blast email earlier in the election cycle with the whole "Obama is a Muslim and refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance" nonsense, and I've had someone tell me they wouldn't vote for Obama because they think he'd be assassinated. I never really thought race would be an issue, or that there was going to be such fear-mongering and hate. With only 3 weeks to go, I hope this doesn't get uglier.


I saw this on Swiss Miss and couldn't help but laugh. I have all kinds of tricks like this that I don't even really think of, and I love whenever I find out about others'. (DH has some good ones.)

New York Cheat Sheets
Christopher Niemann

All New Yorkers develop tricks that allow them to stay ahead of the pack in
daily life. These are generally tightly guarded secrets, but now that I don’t
live in New York, I have generously decided to share some of mine. What follows
are a few handy charts that will, I hope, help readers to improve their

In the morning, I used to take the 2 or 3 train from Clark Street to get to my studio in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. Here’s some advice, if you happen to make that commute, too: When you get off the elevator at the Clark Street station, go down the stairs to the left. On the platform, make a sharp left; this will position you directly behind a column (A). It’s pretty close to the tracks, so there will be very few people around, thereby improving your chances of getting on, even at rush hour. If you happen to bring a newspaper, use one door further up (B).

When you arrive the at 14th Street station and step off, you’ll be near the 13th Street exit, and the door will open right in front of the stairs (C). If you chose the newspaper option mentioned above, the door will open in front of a convenient trash can, where you can discard your paper (D) before leaving the subway system.

My favorite breakfast spot in New York is a little coffee shop on Eighth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. It has a lemon poppy muffin that is absolutely divine when fresh — and tastes like drywall when not. The easiest way to test for freshness, of course, is to poke the crust, which would be wrong. Fortunately, you can ethically conduct the freshness test by poking the paper muffin cup at one specific point, at about two-thirds of the height of the base. Lower or higher poking doesn’t yield reliable results.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh, yum!

Blue Bell has Snickerdoodle ice cream now?! Ooh, I might finally have a definitive favorite ice cream flavor! (I can never decide between chocolate chip cookie dough and cookies and cream. And whatever happened to the vanilla with the maraschino cherries I loved as a child?)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Google: 2001 vs. 2008

To celebrate Google's 10th birthday, they brought back their oldest available index from 2001. Look at what a difference 7 years can make:
2001 - Barack Obama yields 771 sites

2008 - Barack Obama yields over 78 million sites

Try it here.

Free Handbag Giveaway

Handbag Planet is launching a new website and will be giving away a free handbag each hour. There are several cute ones to choose from, just don't pick the one I picked!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Funny baby

Found via Quirkology

Alright, back to watching Michelle Obama on Jon Stewart!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cherishing Those You Love

I had never heard of Stephanie Nielson until about a month ago when I saw several blogs posting about fundraising efforts for her family. On August 16th, the popular blogger, her husband, and a flight instructor were in a horrific plane crash that killed the instructor and left her husband with burns over 30% of his body and 80% of hers. I googled for more information and immediately added hers and her sister's blog to my Google Reader. I immediately felt connected to her, and it has been amazing to see the outpouring of support and fundraising efforts on her behalf by an online community.

I obviously don't know her at all, but she has the most beautiful thoughts on motherhood and appreciating all of the simple, beautiful things that make life worth living. She seems so positive, fun, and to use the word again, amazing. Past posts by her are currently being reposted on her blog, and I check her sister's blog for updates on her progress. She's undergoing skin graft surgeries and has remained heavily sedated, and my heart just breaks for her sweet children who just want their mother (they are 6, 5, 3, and 1), and the darling husband who's still in the hospital. I pray that she will come out of it all, and I don't doubt she'll be amazed by the outpouring of love that's been directed toward her family. It all makes you appreciate every day that you get.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A post of cliches*

I've always tried to follow saving for a rainy day, but when it rains it pours...except I feel like it's been pouring for the past year. Is this my sign that I really have to become a full-fledged adult and accept the fact that these things happen and that's why I have an emergency fund? I don't really remember having so many unexpected expenses in my first few years post-college, but I'm probably having selective memory.

My October budget is totally blown and it's only the beginning of the month. Our stupid HOA levied a special assessment that adds up to about 4 regular payments in two months. (I really, really hate how ridiculously overpriced our HOA is, especially since they dropped free cable as part of what you get in return for your dues *right after* we closed on the house. Swell.) Maybe they'll finally remove all of the lumber that's supposed to go to updating all of the units' decks that they've been storing in the parking area directly in front of our garage since we moved in.

I finally brought my poor car in this week for half of the 30k service needed and will need to bring it in again soon to do the rest. Why does anything car-related cost and arm and a leg? (I nearly fell out of my chair when I got a $1000 quote from the car dealership when I took my car in a couple of weeks before the wedding, which was *not* a good time for it...although I probably should have just gotten everything done back then, which may have prevented the flat tire on the busy day that was the wedding setup/lunch/rehearsal -- again, *not* a good time. I vow to take better care of my car.) I'm going to try and shop around for the rest of the maintenance and see what I can learn to do myself/make DH do for me. ($60 for an air filter? AYKM?!)

Another nail in the coffin: my 3 year-old TV, all of a sudden, does not turn on. It just makes a noise like it's going to turn on to tease you, and then flashes a red light to let you it's not going to happen. Oh, the tragedy. I've tried researching online to see what the problem might be, and it looks like it will probably be at least $300 to fix, and that it could be a variety of things. Ugh. I obviously didn't do my due diligence in purchasing this TV (I got it through a friend's brother's Best Buy discount and I think it had the biggest discount or something) since I've found a *lot* of posts online about similar issues others have had with their Samsung TVs. (Granted, I probably would not have found anything bad if I had done more research then, but over-researchers like me regret making the wrong decision!) One of the links I found where someone had the same issue (don't know if it was for the same model), the TV repairman said it would be $500 (half the cost of her TV) to fix, and they wouldn't warranty the repair. I wonder what it's going to cost just to find out what it will cost to fix, and if they'll even diagnose the correct issue the first time. I feel so American consumer and un-eco friendly in saying this, but I just want to get a new, shinier, skinnier model and drop my current TV like a hot potato.

And if last night was any indication, we're definitely not doing much to reduce the dining and entertainment expenses for the month. But a girl needs to socialize with her friends!

I know things breaking down and such are par for the course , but come on! I should be an adult and stop complaining about it -- $h%t happens, right? -- but that'd be too easy. If this keeps up, I'll be as poor as dirt. I need to just take it one day at a time, and eventually these hiccups will just be another drop in the bucket.

(Oh, and I just got our property tax bill for the year in the mail. Not unexpected, just one of the many joys of home ownership I get to realize. I better get back to the salt mines to pay for all of this!)

(I count at least 11 cliches in this post.)