Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Home for the Holidays-Santa Hat Tree Topper Tutorial

One more day until December! Then the festivities will begin in this household! I am having a girls night in tomorrow night where we will be doing two different crafts and just hanging out. I can't wait!
I have been trying to put a few finishing touches on the house before tomorrow. I thought I would put a houndstooth hat on top of the hub's tree in the office, but being the cheap-o that I am, I decided to make a topper.The hubs suggested I make a Santa hat. Such a smarty he is:o)
So that's what I did.
Here is a quick tutorial on how to make your own Santa hat.
Start out with your choice of fabric for the body, fuzzy fabric for the pouf at the end and for the trim around the rim of the hat, and a Styrofoam ball.
 I had to add these pics in here...Scosche was spazzing while I was cutting the you think he got weirded out over the fuzzy fabric:o)
 Isn't he such a sweetie?
 Back to business:o)
I folded the fabric in half and cut at an angle. The base of my hat is 20".
 The length is 16.25". There was no rhyme or reason for those measurements...that's just how I ended up cutting it...just a side note. I didn't cut the top into a point. I cut it with a blunt edge. There needs to be room at the top to slide the fabric covering the ball into.
 Next lay your foam ball in the center of the fluffy fabric.
 Wrap fabric around ball, like so...and cut, making sure to leave enough fabric to hold onto.
 For the hat, put right sides of fabric together and stitch a 1/2" seam. Leave the end open so that the fluffy fabric with the ball inside will have a place to go.
 Tie the fabric off really tight that is holding the ball and slide it through the top of the hat. Using a really tough upholstery needle, stitch the pouf(fluffy ball) to the top of the hat. 
 There will be excess fabric, so trim that off.
Like this.
 This particular fabric doesn't fray, which is fantastic because there is no need for hemming! For the brim of the hat, I cut a 3" wide strip of fluffy fabric.. You will need to measure the brim of your hat to make sure of the exact length...making sure to add enough for a seam allowance. 
Stitch the ends of the fluffy strip together.
 Then stitch the band around the edge of the hat making sure that right sides are together.
 And have your very own Santa hat tree topper.
 Easy peasy:o)
 I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.
I look forward to sharing all the fun things we are doing for the month of December, so stay tuned!!!

Participating Here:

Is it a myth?

Some bear blogs are having a discussion as to whether the HAM buyers are driving our market or not.

My opinion is simple, in some areas they ARE they market. In others, like Pitt Meadows or Langley they are not much of a factor.

Take the North Shore. here is my anecdotal info. This year, I have had 3 friends sell their places. One bought smaller and banked the difference, one is renting and one moved to the Island with his family. ALL 3 sold to mainland Chinese buyers for MUCH higher than they had ever hoped for and in two cases for higher than their listing price as a HAM bidding war broke out.

Over the week-end I carried out my own unscientific experiment. I called up 5 newly listed rental homes in West Van on craigslist. 3 had Chinese agents who quickly admitted that their clients had just bought the homes and in fact two of them didn't even have possession yet. The other two were professionals agents- one volunteered that their client was from the Mainland and had just purchased it as an investment and had no intention of occupying for now. the last one would not reveal the ownership.

Based on my experience therefore it would seem that in some parts of Vancouver, the HAM money ARE the buyers PERIOD. The likelihood of being able to compete in the higher end market after 40% taxes unless you run a goldmine or are the CEO of Lululemon is zero...

Remember Landcor said that they estimate 74% of buyers in certain areas of Vancouver to be from off-shore. That is an astounding number and were it anywhere else in the world, there would be an outcry to legislate and regulate, but not here where we are the keepers of Hot money!

The only up-side I can see is that some people are making out like bandits, like my friends who sold, and some realtors who will hopefully be paying some taxes, and the Province will be getting the property transfer tax. It is btw desperate for any money it can get it's hands on with the deficit soaring, so if you think they are about to kill this golden goose, think again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Count Down

Here is a cute printable I found via Pinterest.
To print this cutie, go to Inviting Printables, and follow the link.
I am having Costco print mine out. I can't wait to get it. The kids are really going to enjoy adding "puffs" to Santa's beard!

Letters to Santa

I am getting geared up for Christmas, are you? I have all the decorations up...except for one tree. That one will go up today, hopefully. I will be sharing my trees with you very soon.
I have been scouring the internet for fun ideas to celebrate with the kids. They keep talking about their Christmas lists, and what they want Santa to bring them. I googled Letter to Santa Template, and found some really cute printable letters to Santa. Here are just a few that I found.

To print these cute Santa letter, click the link below.

Have a great Cyber Monday...have you found any great deals? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Any guesses for November's numbers..


Price change MOM, YOY - average or median or Benchmark for the 3 categories.

Here's mine:

MOI 6.5
MOM price change -1-2% in most of the categories (attached is always an odd one)
YOY- I think we will still be up 4-5% YOY after October's disappointing rebound.

For now the HAM frenzy seems to have moved to the North Shore..

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Thanksgiving

I hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving weekend. We just got back from our trip to Fall Creek Falls with my family. We had a fantastic time! Here are a few pictures from our adventures.

 This particular waterfall is called Piney Falls. This was the first time that we had ventured out to this waterfall...and we took the kids with us...crazy, I know:o)
 Beautiful, isn't it?
 Here is the view from across the gorge.
A certain little man was trying to talk his daddy into letting him go down the water fall in a boat...but a soft boat because that would make it more safe:o)
 Here, his daddy(the hubs) is trying to explain how gravity and force work together when water is involved.
 Daddy isn't impressed with this 5 year old's logic...don't you love how his hands are behind his back? Such a little man:o)
 In this particular picture the 5 year old...E...says"Well, what about the fish?" The hubs' response,"The fish are smart enough to stay away from the edge."
 Here E is pouting because he can't take a soft boat over the edge of a 100 FOOT WATERFALL!!
 Just so pitiful, isn't it? Mean ole daddy:o)

 S.R...a.k.a. Little Miss Stinker Pants, is trying to sneak up to daddy to take a peak over the edge. I thought my brother and the hubs were going to have a heart you see the the stink in those eyes?:o)
 I love this picture. Two peas in a pod!
 I have the most awesomest family!!!
 Here is the treacherous terrain we climbed times the kids were riding our backs through this forest.

Oh and here is Flower the duck..E named it...not sure what the gender of the duck is:o) But that doesn't matter when a 5 and 3 year old are involved. 
We had a great time this weekend. It was so nice to slow down and just be surrounded by family. I truly enjoyed my family this weekend, and realized yet again, what a blessed girl I am!
I hope you all enjoyed your blessings this weekend as much as I did.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Leverage 2.0 - How will you leverage ?

How will you use the power of leverage ?

LEVERAGE 1.0 : I have $1 and I know how to earn $2 from it.  But earning $2 is not interesting to me.  So I found a way to borrow $30 to do it.

My debt ratio is 30:1

Supposedly after it is done, I earn $60, pay back the $30 and $5 interests/fees.  I could have earned $25 instead of $2.  This is the power of leverage, amplify my earnings.

But when things go south, I haven't earned the $60 yet but I have already owed someone $35.  I just needed more time and I CAN get more time by just paying more interest/fee.  This time its another $8.  So I will need to pay back $43 but if I could earn the $60, I still have a profit of $17.  Not as good as $25 but still better than $2.

Just in case my $60 still hasn't come in yet, I could extend my time again by paying another $10 interest/fee.  By then my potential profit is $7, much worse than $25 or $17, but still better than $2.

However eventually the interests add up so much that I don't get any profit even if I get my $60.  So it is NOT exciting again.
time            loan    interest  potential earning
1st round : $30 +    $5         $25
2nd round : $35 +   $8         $17
3rd round : $43 +  $10          $7
4th round : $53 +  $15         -$8
5th round : $68
What happened above is considered a 'traditional' scenario.  I thought I could earn $2 from $1 but I was wrong.   I use leverage to amplify my earnings, however after 5 rounds of trying I still fail and I ended up amplifying my lost!  So I have to pay $68 tuition fee to learn a lesson, both on my business skill and also on the power of double edge leverage.

LEVERAGE 2.0 : What could also happen is that when I first get my $30.  I put $15 aside.  So it would look as if I have $15 and I have borrow $30, although my $15 is actually from the $30.  So my debt ratio is only $30 : $15 or 2:1.

When I realize I couldn't get my earning in the first round, I could borrow another $60 because my debt ratio is low.  Then I pay the earlier loan and interest ( $60 - $35 ) so I still have an extra of $25 to do more business.

I can continue borrow more and more to cover my previous loan and yet I have more money to do more businesses.

time            loan   ratio  interest  buyStock  potential earning
1st round  :  $30   2:1    $5          $15              $10
2nd round :  $60   4:1    $9          $25              $26
3rd round :  $120  8:1   $17         $51              $60
4th round :  $240 16:1  $33          $103           $130

As soon as I hit my debt ratio limit, I can set aside some money as if it is my capital/earning like how I did the first time.  Says I add another $15 to make my capital to $30.  Borrowing $240 is only a debt ratio of 8:1.  This can continue indefinitely.

With this method,

  • it appears as if I pay off my loan on time, every time. = good paymaster
  • I gets lower interest because of my good records and higher loan amount
  • I always have some extra money even before my real earning comes in = strong cash flow
  • my potential earning actually increase every time as I keep turning = good strategy
  • as long as I eventually realize one earning , I offset ALL my previous risks and I still make a REAL profit.

Don't get me wrong.  Although many people did the above illegally with the wrong methods.  But there are actually perfectly legal and legitimate ways.  As a matter of fact, almost ALL big businesses or even governments are doing exactly above.

As you may have observed, the risk is much higher now.  By the 4th round, I owe $273 instead of just $68 comparing to the earlier traditional method.  But with all the great benefits mentioned above (better strategy, stronger cash flow etc), this increased risk could still be justifiable.

Things still haven't really gone wrong yet with above creative strategy assuming it was done legally.

Things go wrong when

  • I didn't really know how to earn $2 from $1 = it was a bluff and people found out
  • I didn't really try hard at all to realize any earning 
  • I didn't use the extra cash flow to grow the business
  • I use the extra cash flow for new house, cars etc. = corruption
So the 'finance system' has opened a whole new world to us but at the end it is 'ourselves' who collapse it.  Don't blame the system, blame the greed and ignorance within ourselves who are playing with the power of leverage for the wrong reasons.

How will you use the power of leverage ?

Will the Market lead Housing..

As I noted in previous posts, our stock market has been leading house prices..

The market topped in April and our home prices peaked in May. So we would seem to lag the stock-market by a month or so as you will see from Larry's excellent chart

In October the stock-market dropped and then rapidly rebounded and lo and behold, we had an unexpected bounce in our home prices. What now?

Well, we have had another shellacking in stocks in November. and the market is down 8% in two weeks. IF this relationship still holds we should see a dip in our prices too.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The sad state of the MSM

I know that you all move around the bear blog world. However in case you missed it here is the sorry state if our MSM which cannot even bother to check the most basic facts.

Here is the exchange between me and vreaa. Sad that we have such shoddy reporting

Fish10 on 22 November 2011 at 7:45 pm said:

Well done to everyone for pointing out the crass error of the National Post.
This is a great line from the Editor:

“We have confirmed that you are correct and the person used in the story works in condo marketing. If we had known this it would have been disclosed, and that change has been made in the online story.”

No kidding!

So how weak exactly is the journalism on this paper? They ask someone – what do you do? ‘Marketing’. They don’t even bother to ask, “marketing WHAT?” and then they run a rah rah RE storey.

This is what passes for information and analysis at this sorry paper.

Reply ↓

on 22 November 2011 at 8:01 pm said:
Actually, it’s probably more sinister than that.
The reporter very likely knows that she works in RE (probably got the lead to interview her via contacts in the RE industry). Then intentionally omits the fact in the article.

Reply ↓

on 22 November 2011 at 8:11 pm said:
You are probably right. It is inconcievable that they asked every other question except what she actually does for a living.

If the storey was a plant via the RE industry then things are truly messed up, in fact it shows what little respect we have for the integrity of the MSM (particularly some papers) that we even consider it possible.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brazil tries to limit Chinese land purchases..

SAO PAULO, (Reuters) - Brazil's government is working on a new rule to further limit the purchase of farm land by foreigners, arguing that the current legislation has been ``insufficient,'' a Brazilian newspaper said Saturday.

The new rule, which could come as a decree, aims to close loopholes that buyers have been using, such as purchasing land through Brazilian companies, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said.

It could also impose restrictions on investment funds joined by foreigners and force international banks to sell land received as collateral of a defaulted loan within a year.

Brazil is one of the world's largest producers of food and biofuels, and the expansion of its production is seen as crucial toward addressing growing demand for these products, especially from emerging economies such as China.

Brazil's attorney general last year reinterpreted a land law that now limits purchases of rural land by foreigners, or by Brazilian firms that are controlled by foreigners, to areas no larger than 250-5,000 hectares () depending on the region.

The current rule has been fueling uncertainty among agricultural investors and proving a handicap for expansion, according to analysts.

The new legislation should set clearer mechanisms for foreigners to partner with Brazilian companies, especially for agricultural projects, Folha said.

The land legislation is aimed mainly at stopping the advance of China, which has been buying land in other countries through its sovereign fund, the newspaper said.

Official records show 4.3 million hectares of Brazilian land owned by foreigners, but it could be as much as three times bigger than that, the newspaper added.

Reporting by Inae Riveras; Editing by Paul Simao

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What do you do when you don't have an egg?

You find a substitute!!

I went to Target today for clothes and food....and for some strange reason, there were absolutely no eggs...strange, I know. Tonight we are having Cheesy Potato soup and I wanted some Jiffy cornbread to go with...but I have no eggs. I did a google search and came across these substitutes. I thought I would share them with you all just in case you ever get caught without an egg:o)

Egg Substitutions:
1 egg = 2 tablespoons liquid + 2 tablespoons flour + ½ tablespoon shortening + ½ teaspoon baking powder (Recipe from Substituting Ingredients by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein. See my sources. Add one or two drops of yellow food coloring if desired.) 

OR egg substitute (Substitute 1/4 cup egg substitute for each egg. Using egg substitute in place of eggs tends to make baked goods rubbery, because egg substitute has no fat. To improve the product's texture, add one teaspoon of canola oil for each egg replaced. Egg substitute can't be whipped and is much more expensive than regular eggs. It doesn't work well in cheesecakes. For more information, visit the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service's Egg Substitutes page; for a recipe, visit its Homemade Egg Substitute page) 

OR egg whites (Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg. This substitution may make baked goods less tender. To compensate, try adding 1 teaspoon of oil per egg called for in recipe.) 

OR flaxmeal (Make flaxmeal by grinding flaxseed in a blender until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Use two tablespoons flaxmeal plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder plus 3 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe. 

OR egg yolks (Higher in fat, but increasing the egg yolks in a baked good often makes it moister and more flavorful.) 

OR gelatin (To replace each egg: Dissolve 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water, then add 2 tablespoons boiling water. Beat vigorously until frothy.) 

OR cornstarch (Substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 3 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe. 

OR mayonnaise (Substitute 3 tablespoons mayonnaise for each egg called for in recipe.) 

OR Ener-G Egg Replacer (Substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons Egg Replacer plus 2 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe.) 

OR bananas (Substitute 1/2 of a mashed ripe banana plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.) 

OR silken tofu (Substitute 1/4 cup tofu for each egg.) 

OR fruit-based fat substitutes (Substitute 2 tablespoons fat substitute for each egg in recipe.)


Friday, November 18, 2011

This Emperor has no clothes....

While Mark Carney is being feted around the world as the wise Central banker who 'saved' the Canadian financial system and has now been chosen to run an international financial regulatory agency...we may want to look a little closely at his achievements.

1) Today we have consumer inflation running at 2.9%. What would a reasonable interest rate be in such a scenario? 3%? 4%? Not 1%. This is theft from savers.

2) Due partly to his Zero interest rate policy and lax lending, Canadians are the most indebted EVER! He may keep saying he wants people to pay down debt and save, but folks are not stupid. Why save, when you LOSE money every year?

3) He proclaims that he is against bail-outs and TBTF (too big to fail). yet our monolithic banks have a built in bail-out in the form of the potentially-ruinous CMHC, who's liabilities could bring the house down.

A recent report stated that while Canadian government debts were not as bad as many other countries, the high level of consumer debt, RE bubble and liability transfer to the Fed government..meant that we were actually at the same over-all debt level as any one of the PIIGS.

There was another Central banker who was lauded as a great genius and has now been shown to be a complete and utter fool, blowing up bubble after bubble..Alan Greenspan.

Lets hope that Carney ( and us ) do not end up in the same mess.
The fundamental problem is that Central bankers surround themselves with bankers, traders, investment bankers and sepculators. They go to their dinners, they come from that back-ground, they leave office and go back to big paying money-moving jobs. So when times are good, they hear the phrase..'Don't do anything' and when it finally hits the fan, 'help us, do something'. The result is the huge imbalances we have now.

The fact that one unelected official can have so much power over a country's fate is the biggest problem.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Restricting Off-shore ownership picking up steam..

Big piece on CBC BC News about the up-coming civic election and calls for restricting RE ownership by off-shore investors.

An astounding number was revealed. I cannot unfortunately find a link yet (doesn't seem to be up)

74% of recent buyers of Richmond and Vancouver RE are thought to be from Mainland China according to Landcor. Money escaping possible future restrictions.

One listing 'boasted' that it had never been lived in and it's ten year old appliances were never used.

In my building we have absentee owners from Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, Israel and Dubia. Some units are rented and others are left permanently empty- though there is someone who comes round to pick up the mail and pay bills on the empty ones.

How did we get into such a mess? Lax rules for one. even Australia has restrictions on off-shore ownership, even China does, but we don't. Why not?

The only people to bring it up was Peter Ladner, after he left office, and a solitary councillor who says 'we should look at the matter'.

Too late!

And I doubt one solitary Vancouver councillor can do much. The Australian rules came form their Federal government, not from one city councillor, however well intentioned. Can you imagine our own Premier and Prime Minster making such a pronouncement.

Lets start with punitive taxes on any house not occupied for 6 months a year. We have a city that is unaffordable for those who work here and make it liveable for the parvenues, and keeps the city safe and sound for their investments.

The piece on the CBC ended with a Chinese candidate in Richmond saying how Chinese investors should be directed to investing in businesses instead of RE. Quite right.

Chocolate Frosting Recipe

I have been in the baked goods mood again:o) But thankfully I didn't have to bake anything this time because I had some cupcakes in the freezer. I decided that I was in desperate need of chocolate on my cupcakes, and thankfully I had the ingredients in my pantry to make some homemade icing.
This recipe came off of the back of my Hershey's Cocoa box. It's called "Perfectly" chocolate frosting...or something like that:o)

1/2 cup butter(1 stick)

2/3 cup cocoa 
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

This recipe truly is "perfect!" 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

View That Holy City

Here is one of my favorite songs from our song book. It makes you wanna hop up out of your seat while singing it:o)

Now this version makes you want to jump out in the aisle and get crazy...this version is the more spirited version...I LIKE it;o)


We have been under the weather this week with a bug, so I haven't really been in the mood for crafting. We are well now, but I am swamped with hair stylist duties..I have a teacher gift in my head and I am looking forward to creating and sharing it with you all. I am hoping to get that done this weekend.
As far as the Christmas tree update...I now have 3 trees up..only 2 of which are decorated...4 more to go..yes, I know...sick;o)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I often visit Garth Turner's blog. He is an ex-MP, Cabinet Minister, Investment writer, investment adviser and speaker who most bear blog readers know well.

He keeps a regular blog going here and sometimes he gets things right and sometimes not, however he has an interesting turn of phrase. There was one such in the latest post which had me laughing and I thought it worth reprinting:

'Since this pathetic blog crawled from the primordial ooze (I should clean the Bunker more often), I’ve argued against our infatuation with the physical. For reasons I have pounded into sand, real estate will disappoint mightily in the years ahead, now completely unsupported by economic fundamentals and held aloft by duct tape, HGTV, fleeting aspirations and delusional mothers-in-law. No match for debt, lost jobs or swampy incomes.'


That latest post highlights the situation in Whistler (which has a MOI of over a year), which like the Sunshine Coast and the Okanagan and Victoria is not rosy and not the frenzy that is Vancouver.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Family Photos

I am so excited to share our family photos that we had made. I hope you all have a great weekend! See you next week!