Friday, December 31, 2010

the Year in Review

Wow! What a year! Where has the time gone? I really can't believe that 2010 is over. I decided to do a year in review just because it seemed to be the thing to do in blog land:o) As I started looking at what all we had accomplished as a family, I realized that we have been busy making this house a home. We have really made this place our own and finally feel at home and not just living in a house

I am sharing links of each of my favorite projects for the year of 2010.

So here goes......













And there you have it. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been fun. I do plan on making some changes for this blog for the following year. Stayed tuned to see what happens. 
I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and please be safe.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Everywhere...

 This was our house Christmas morning. I have never seen a White Christmas in the deep south before(been here almost 10 years)...and it was GREAT! The only problem was that we didn't get to enjoy it for very long because we had to make our way to my parents' house before the snow got too bad.
 Isn't it beautiful?
 This is the view off the side of our house. Before too long, that area behind the trees will be filled with houses. For now, we can still enjoy the view:o)
The snow is melting now, and I am in the process of breaking down all the Christmas decorations. I am really not into it, but I reeeeeeally want it all down....can I hire one of you to come do it for me:o)
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. We surely did!!
Hoping to get my craft on here in the next few house is starting to look NEKKED!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Personal Finance Portfolio should be dynamic

We often hear experts said
if you are young, you can take more risk, hence put your investment in equity.
if you are old, you should keep your capital in safer vehicle like bond etc.

But one important strategy they miss out is ... the dynamic of personal finance portfolio.

Says you are 25 years old, you will need a sum of money at 35 years old. Hence you can invest into equity. However, you must learn something about the equity market you are entering into. For example, you know that for every 10 years in your equity market, there will be a peak and a bottom. So perhaps by 3-4 years before your maturity date, ie. 31-32 years old. You should start considering withdrawing your equity investment and keep them in a money market or bond fund. This will preserve your capital and secure you from unexpected last minute change, ie. a sudden equity collapse.

for example;
age 25 : 90% equity, 10% bond
age 27 : 80% equity, 20% bond
age 32 : 40% equity, 60% bond
age 34 : 10% equity, 90% bond
Keeping a non dynamic portfolio expose you to risk the whole time. If bad luck hits you, you may lost all your 9 years of earning in the 10th year. So one must keep ones personal finance portfolio dynamic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have a Great one, lots of good food and good booze

End of month numbers for December will probably be pretty meaningless, since the listings and sales are so low -unless they are bearish in which case I will take my trumpet out :)

We will watch the list/sales in the new year and the price deductions.

I may start my regional scans again like I did late 2008, however that's only if it looks like we are starting the move down.

The one good thing we have in our favour, is that every Marc Carney and his dog is talking about the huge RE-driven debt load. That means the bozos probably WANT to see a RE correction and not try and derail it asap this time, like they did last time.

Was it not ever so that the worst catastrophes grow from the seeds of good intentions. We had a crisis in 2008/9 and the quickes,t easiest thing to do, was re-inflate RE. Hence they did it and now they regret it (though they wont admit it- just wag a finger at the borrowers).

The result is that Canadians, once a conservative bunch, have more debt now than the US. The architects of this calamity-in-making may have had good intentions, however they should also have the decency to admit a little mea culpa into the egg-nog.

See you all on the other side of 2011...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some Teachers' Gifts and A Weekend Holiday Tour

What a whirlwind weekend we had! I hope that you all had a great one. I'm sure several of you were attending last minute holiday parties and finishing your shopping. I FINALLY got my shopping done. Now, all we have to do this week is sit back and relax. The hubs is off work for the next two weeks. Life is grand:o)
Here's a quick overview of the gifts that I gave E's teachers at preschool.

I started with these fleece blankets from Walmart. They were $3 for the set. Not bad, eh?
Since they were already rolled up, I tied a ribbon around each of the blankets.

 I also found these mugs at Walmart. They were $2 a piece.
 I cut out some vinyl with my Cricut and applied it to each of the mugs. I love the first one...the initials are "M.E." How funny! Inside of the mugs I put a pack of hot cocoa, red crinkle filler and dipped white chocolate marshmallows. 
 I got these acrylic trays from my neighbor. She has started a little vinyl applique side business. She had a few extras left over, so I bought them off of her. I love these trays. I think they turned out so pretty!
 I also added peppermint cupcake jars in with the other goodies. Let me just say that those were DIVINE! They were so delicious. These gifts were such a huge hit with all the teachers. They were so excited.
 In other news....we had our 2nd annual Holiday Walk in the neighborhood this past weekend. There were 8 houses on the tour and ours was on it. I have pics to share of our house. Some will be repeats from an earlier post...please humor me:o)
For the previous post (and better shots of my living room tree) go Here
Our Master Bedroom:
just a little side note...I am fully aware NOW that almost all of our trees are frustrating!!:o)

 Dining Room

 Love these napkin rings from Pottery Barn!!!

 E's Room

 Space themed tree...I was a little disappointed in this tree. After Christmas I am going on a hunt for 2 white trees. One for the Hubs' office and one for E's room. All the ornaments on this tree are dark and they blend in with the green of the tree. Maybe I'll do silver in here...we'll see:o)
 SR's room.
Living Room

 Can you see the curtains in the kitchen window? No sew curtains using a canvas drop cloth. I'll do another post on those soon.
 Here's an updated shot of the Menu Board with the new wall color behind it. It stands out so much better now.
 Our appetizers that we served. 
 These little cookies were so yummy. Turtles I believe is what the kids are calling them these days. Pretzels, rolos and a nut of your choice(I used almonds). Super easy. You can find the recipe here
 Our upstairs guest room
 Bonus room (1/2 of it at least).I had another shot, but it was so fuzzy:(
 These little goody bags were the favors that we handed out to our guests. Head over to Cookies and Cups for this great party mix!
Our house tour was AWESOME! There were so many nice neighbors that were going on and on about how much they loved the house and how it was decorated. Even the men were talking about how much they loved it. Made me feel proud:o) The hubs even paid me a high compliment..He told me that sometimes he forgets how talented I really am. That really made me feel nice:o) Anyway, this is it for me for this week. We will be maxin' and relaxin' until after Christmas. I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Participating in these parties:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lounge-y Pants

It's been a lounge-y week. Well a week that involved very little motivation to do anything since both of the kids were down with the flu last weekend and this week has been spent recovering. They are much better now, only a cough, which will last for a few weeks, according to the doc...(Whoopee!) So needless to say, my wardrobe has consisted of pj's for the past week. I have looked skank-tastic with wild unkempt hair, no make up and usually not getting around to brushing my teeth until bedtime...fantastic isn't it?  I feel really sorry for the paint guy right now who is here painting S.R.'s closet door. He must have thought, WOW! when he saw me...Oh yeah, it's that good!
Anywho....There is a blog that I follow called Whimsy Couture. They have some of the cutest patterns for sale and even have some free ones...all about some free stuff! Anyway, occasionally they send out a call for help in testing new patterns. I answered the call this time:o) Most of my pjs are 8 years old (or older) and have holes all in them. This was my chance to freshen up my jammie wardrobe. The pattern was super easy to follow and I was done in less than an hour on these puppies. I made the legs a little long just in case they shrunk in the dryer...not real big on pre-washing my fabrics b/c I am impatient:o)
So I will be sporting these for the next 8 years:o) You guys should check out all the patterns that are available. 
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? I have 3 more gifts to buy....thought I was done:o/
I will be working on E's teacher gifts this afternoon. Just waiting on the paint guy to get done so I can put the rug rats down for a nap. Hopefully I will have pics to share with you tomorrow!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A quick post on the Canadian banks..

Firstly I am going to say something about them, I never thought I would- I am impressed. They are all barking at the Federal Government telling Flaherty to do something about the huge consumer debt and have suggested dropping mortgage durations or increasing down-payments.

Now it is a bit late. The horse of debt has already bolted, the bubble of housing is already super-inflated..but at least they have come to their senses. Can you imagine the hyenas on Wall Street ever asking for the gravy train to be stopped?? Of course not.

Anyway it is a start. The Federal Government has now heard from Carney (our own mini-bubble meister) and the Bank bosses to make them reign in lending. They cannot ignore it for much longer.

BTW- anyone notice that the Royal Bank has lost it's pristine rating. Why? Because of the Royal banks involvement in World-wide capital markets AKA gambling. What is it with bankers. A bunch of boring conservative folks who make great money from mortgage clipping and bank fees suddenly want to go to Vegas and blow the whole stack on the craps table.

They all do it.

They all hire these whiz kid traders, who are really just professional gamblers, playing with our money and when they lose, they lose big.

Like the Bank of Montreal did on gas!

When they take these huge losses I wonder if they ever go back to the heads of trading operations ($5 Million + a year) and say- " We want the bonuses back for the last ten years'. Of course not.

Anyway my purpose was not to knock our banks, but to offer them a little praise..NOW perhaps they will stop making those STUPID ads with a middle-aged couple taking equity out of their homes to travel around the world or buy a sail-boat. Maybe they can keep that equity so they (we) don't become even a bigger burden on the next (totally screwed) generation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I am worried..

Lets put housing aside for a minute and lets look around us.

Everyone from the B of C to Bank economists have been sounding the alarm over the huge level of household debt. This debt is mostly related to inflated RE, either directly to purchase it, or to extract equity out of it for other expenditures.

Things could go sour very quickly.. and when they do it is VERY difficult to get out of the debt-death spiral. The US is dealing with a catastrophic situation, and if it gets any worse I worry about their civil society.

Alarmist talk?

How about 15 Million unemployed, and another 11 under-employed (ie moved from full-time to part-time).

How about 43 Million on food stamps - in the wealthiest economy in the world!

Hopefully we have seen some sort of bottom, but that bottom is a long way down from where we are.

Are we so insulated from our largest trading partner's fate? We were, we had solid banking practices, higher savings rate and lower debt. But the last few years were like Canada-gone-wild. We did exactly what the US did.

The best way to prevent a calamitous RE bubble bursting is to prevent it from happening in the first place! Forget Vancouver, even places like Saskatoon and Calgary had huge price rises even though there is huge swaths of flat land around them. Kinda reminds me of Vegas.

in case we think we are immune, here's what Stephen Jarislowsky said in a Globe and Mail interview, and he is a very wise head in the investing world:

Canada’s banks got high marks from the International Monetary Fund for escaping much of the carnage that ravaged U.S. and European financial institutions in the wake of the global financial crisis. Have they done enough to leverage that position?

Yes and no, but here’s the thing: In Canada the hardship still lies ahead. Our houses are still 20 to 30 per cent above normal levels, salaries are shrinking and a lot of Canadians are heavily indebted. There’s a lurking disaster, to the extent that you have reduction of purchasing power and we are just not saving hardly anything as a nation.

That’s pretty bearish.

I think things are going to get a hell of a lot worse. We still have a trade deficit today despite the fact that commodity prices are incredibly high.

I hope I’m wrong but I think Canada is on the edge of a lot of trouble.


BTW- hat tip to this site which I am adding to my blog list.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When the BOC talks we should listen

I have never read such an anxious piece from them as their latest review. Even in the midst of the crisis they were not sounding such dire alarm bells.

Here's a few clips:

'The Bank judges that the risk of this environment jeopardizing financial stability in Canada in the near term is moderate; however, careful monitoring of risk-taking is essential so that any buildup of financial imbalances can be identified early '

'In Canada, with the growth rate of debt outpacing that of disposable income in recent years, the proportion of households with stretched financial positions that leave them vulnerable to an adverse shock has grown significantly. The risk is that a shock to economic conditions could be transmitted to the broader financial system through a deterioration in the credit quality of loans to households, which would prompt a tightening of credit conditions that could trigger a mutually reinforcing deterioration of real activity and financial stability. '

'The Bank judges that, overall, the risk of a system-wide disturbance arising from financial stress in the household sector is elevated and has edged higher since June. This vulnerability is unlikely to decline quickly, given projections of subdued growth in income '

'However, the vulnerability of the household sector has deepened, with the rate of growth of household debt continuing to exceed that of income.'

'The main domestic source of risk arises from the increasingly stretched financial position of Canadian households, which leaves them more vulnerable to adverse events '

'In Canada, the deteriorating financial position of the household sector requires vigilance. When taking on debt, households bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that they will be able to service it in the future. It is also essential that financial institutions actively evaluate the risk sur- rounding households’ ability to service their debt over time. Authorities are co-operating closely and will continue to monitor the financial situation of the household sector.'

My comments:

So the are saying the same thing in several different ways, in a very short document. Consumers and households you are over-debted..damn over-debted. Your debt growth has no relation to your income growth (or lack of) and your ability to pay it!

Wouldn't have anything to do with your ZERO interest rate policy would it now??

Where is this huge debt coming from?= OVER-PRICED HOUSING.

Most of it is housing-related debt and equity withdrawal (you know all those radio ads for people wanting to lend you money on the last cent of equity you have in your house)

So what are they going to do about it??

Nada. Nothing. Zilch. We will just wring our hands and hope consumers do the right thing even though no-one but economists read our reports and actions are louder than words, but we ain't going to do a thing. Just worry about.


We Have a Winner....

And the winner is......

The Baking Bride!!!!
Her fave characters are Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head:o) Love it!!
Make sure to shoot me an email with your address so I can get you your DVD....and thanks to all of you who participated in this giveaway....
Can't wait until the next one:o)

Board and Batten Bar

This was our project last weekend. The hubs was the man power behind this project. I was more than willing to hand it over after all the heartache I went thru working on the Dining Room. This took a few hours of work and we already had the supplies on hand so there wasn't any extra cost....finally a project that didn't require a trip to Lowes;o)
This is the before. I shared it with you guys the other day.
 The walls were a creamy yellow color with hints of Cheeto fingerprints dispersed thru out:o)  
I really love how it turned out. The hubs did an excellent job hanging the batten and I did a pretty stinkin' good job painting;o)
 Now if you'll notice, there are only 2 chairs sitting there. I am waiting for my new bar stools to get here so that I will have a total of 4. I really hope they get here before Sunday. We are having a White Elephant Christmas party at our house then. Can't wait!! 
On another note....the winner of the Toy Story 3 DVD will be announced tonight. Thanks for all the participation!