Saturday, March 31, 2012

Greek Bonds Worthless

The Bundesbank announced yesterday that it will refuse to accept Greek, Irish or Portuguese sovereign/bank bonds; ie it will cease to lend to commercial banks that use Greek, Irish or Portuguese bonds as collateral. As ekathimerini points out:
"It also means that the credibility of the new bonds issued is no different to that of the old ones they have replaced."
This effectively kills the European peripheral bond market and, by definition, the current structure of the Eurozone.

It is now only a matter of time before Greece, and other peripheral nations, leave or are kicked out of the Eurozone.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Colorful Wedges (Cheap!)

Happy Weekend guys!  I just wanted to pop in and show you these awesome wedges I just found at Target for only $29.99!  And they are super comfortable!  I needed some retail therapy after how bad I've been feeling lately- thankfully, I'm on the mend:)

 I can't believe EASTER is next weekend already!

Statement of The Eurogroup - Deconstructed

I have deconstructed today's statement of the Eurogroup, my comments are in blue.

30 March 2012
Statement of the Eurogroup

The stability and integrity of the Economic and Monetary Union have required swift and vigorous measures that had been implemented recently, together with further qualitative moves towards a genuine Fiscal Stability Union.

This is a lie, there have been no "swift and vigorous measures".

In order to further improve market confidence and in accordance with the agreement reached at the Euro Summit on 9 December 2011 and reiterated on 2 March 2012, we have reassessed the adequacy of the overall EFSF/ESM lending ceiling of EUR 500 billion which, given EUR200 billion long term commitments of the EFSF, currently entails a 300 billion maximum lending volume for the ESM.

We agreed on the following principles:

· The paid-in capital of the ESM will be made available more quickly than initially foreseen in the ESM Treaty, in respect of national procedures. Two tranches of capital will be paid in 2012, a first one in July, a second one by October. Another two tranches will be paid in 2013 and a final tranche in the first half of 2014. In line with the ESM Treaty, the payment of the capital will be further accelerated if needed to maintain a 15% ratio between the paid-in capital and the outstanding amount of ESM issuances.

Too little too late. Oh, and by the way, there is no real funding as yet for this or the EFSF.

· The ESM will be the main instrument to finance new programmes as from July 2012. The EFSF will, as a rule, only remain active in financing programmes that have started before that date. For a transitional period until mid-2013, it may engage in new programmes in order to ensure a full fresh lending capacity of EUR 500 billion.

· The current overall ceiling for ESM/EFSF lending, as defined in the ESM Treaty, will be raised to EUR 700 billion such that the ESM and the EFSF will be able to operate, if needed, as described above. As of mid-2013, the maximum lending volume of ESM will be EUR 500 billion. The combined lending ceiling of the ESM and the EFSF will continue to be set at EUR 700 billion.

· In addition EUR 49 billion out of the EFSM and EUR 53 billion out of the bilateral Greek loan facility have already been paid out to support current programme countries. All together the euro area is mobilising an overall firewall of approximately EUR 800 billion, more than USD 1 trillion.

Using old debts to boost the "firewall", an "interesting" form of creative accounting!

· Moreover, euro area Member States have committed to provide EUR 150 billion additional bilateral contributions to the IMF.

The euro area made substantial progress over the past 18 months to address the challenges stemming from the sovereign debt crisis.

No it hasn't.

Progress was notably made with regard to fiscal consolidation and growth enhancing structural reforms in a number of countries, the successful implementation of the adjustment programmes in Ireland and Portugal, the Greek PSI operation and the agreement on a second Greek programme.

The Greek Prime Minister has today stated that the country will need a third bailout. The Greek PSI has not gone according to schedule, and foreign law bondholders are still holding out.

Important improvements were made to improve the governance of the euro area through enhancements of the Stability and Growth Pact, the new macro-economic imbalances procedure, the Euro Plus Pact and the Fiscal Compact enshrined in the new Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union.

Finally, robust firewalls have been established. This comprehensive strategy has paid off and led to a significant improvement of market conditions.

There are no robust firewalls, and market conditions have not improved.

All in all this statement is bullshit!

Juncker Talks Bollocks

Euro Group President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has just claimed that Greece's failure to make a timely repayment of their foreign law bonds that are not exchanged does not constitute default.

I see....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

UK In Double Dip Recession

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported that the UK economy shrank in the first three months of the year.

Between January and March economic output fell, compared to the previous quarter, at an annual rate of -0.4%.

Given that there were three months of negative growth at the end of 2011, this means that the UK is now yet again officially in recession (ie a double dipper).

Pope To Pray For Euro

The FT reports that a press release has been sent out today by the office of Herman Van Rompuy, announcing yet another emergency eurozone summit – on April 1.
The presence of His Holiness the Pope affords an opportunity to pray for divine intervention to save the euro.

This is now seen as the most credible strategy.”
Oddly enough, the press release is not on the European Council's website!

Here is the text of the press release:
Brussels, 29 March 2012
Eurozone summit next weekend
Press Statement

It has been confirmed that a Eurozone summit will be held on April 1.

Due to inadvertant wording of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination & Governance, which refers to countries "whose currency is the euro", it has been confirmed that this summit will also include the heads of state or government of Montenegro, Kosovo, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and the Vatican City, all of which use the euro.

The presence of His Holiness the Pope affords an opportunity to pray for divine intervention to save the euro. This is now seen as the most credible strategy.

Indicative programme:
11.00 meeting with the President of the European Parliament
12.00 family photo
12.30 working session
+/- 19.00 press conference

R u e d e l a L o i 1 7 5 B – 1 0 4 8 B R U S S E L S T e l . : + 3 2 ( 0 ) 2 2 8 1 6 3 1 9 F a x : + 3 2 ( 0 ) 2 2 8 1 8 0 2 6
8255/12 1

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crisis Almost Over - LOL!

The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, who is evidently something of a clown like his predecessor has claimed that the Eurozone's woes are "almost over":
"The eurozone has gone through a huge crisis. I believe that this crisis is now almost over."
Sure enough the markets have fallen as, quite rightly, they attach little credence to anything that a Euro politician says these days.

Greek Banks Have Guts Ripped From Them

Reuters reports that firms and consumers are, unsurprisingly, continuing to withdraw money from Greek banks.

Private sector deposits in Greek banks fell by 2.7%, after a 3% fall in January. Deposits at the end of February were Euro170.1BN, the lowest level since October 2006.
For why?

No one trusts the Greek financial system anymore.

GIVEAWAY {Little Doodahs}

Today, Tracy and Carol, the wonderful moms behind the adorable shop Little Doodahs are giving away a $40 credit to their shop!  Little Doodahs sells apparel, toys, and accessories for kids from toddler age on up!

They were kind enough to send a care package to James and he sure enjoyed playing with their goodies over the weekend.

I love the fabric and detailed trim on this crayon holder.  James started coloring with the crayons right away.

But he REALLY loved the bunny pen/pencil holder.

He insisted that the bunny accompany him to lunch.

And check out the cute bracelet.  We spelled "FUN" with it, but you could personalize it with other words. 

G I V E A W A Y 

Little Doodahs is giving away a $40 credit to their shop to one lucky reader! 

They are also providing a 30% discount for orders with
Discount Code:  MEGAN30
The discount code expires on April 28, 2012.

To Enter

*Visit Little Doodahs site and leave a comment with you favorite item 
*Follow Little Doodahs on Twitter (leave an additional comment)
*Like Little Doodahs on Facebook (leave an additional comment) 
*Tweet, Facebook, or Blog about this giveaway (leave an additional comment)
*Followers/Subscribers of HWH get an additional entry (leave an additional comment)

The WINNER will be chosen via and announced on Saturday April 7, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Little Aqua Vase

As much as I love fresh flowers, it seems I'm always putting them in clear glass vases.  I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me to use a colored or more interesting vase before.   A while back, I was drawn to this little aqua vase from Crate & Barrel that I usually keep in my home office.  It has a small neck, perfect for just a couple of stems.

And I thought the aqua was pretty with some yellow flowers. 

And even my bathroom counter looks cheerier with the pop of color. 

So excited about all the possibilities- especially with what a quick coat of spray paint can do to transform my boring clear vases!  Maybe a weekend project?!

Come back tomorrow for a great giveaway from Little Doodahs!  Here's a sneak peek:

Bank of England Disconnected From Reality

The Bank of England, in its latest Quarterly Bulletin, has demonstrated that it is somewhat disconnected from reality and displays a mack of understanding of human nature.

In the bulletin, the Bank warns that “saving appears to be too low”:
If current households choose not to pass on those gains to later generations, they may be able to spend more and save less. Future generations, however, will need to save more for their retirement or work longer.”
That is all very well, maybe. However the Bank appears to have forgotten that UK interest rates (0.5%) are at the lowest they have been for years.

Add to that the fact that we are being told that we will have to endure years of austerity and, like it or not, people's reaction will be very human; namely to enjoy the good times (ie spend) whilst they still can.

Economic cycles and people's reactions to them are driven by emotions not logic.

Odds of Greece Leaving The Euro? Check William Hill

I am amused to see that the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), wary of the likelihood of Greece leaving the Euro, checks the odds of Greece leaving at William Hill the bookmakers.

The Telegraph reports that the OBR’s Steve Nickell told the Treasury Select Committee:
Occasionally I go and look at William Hill, they have the odds on these sorts of things. Last time I looked, the odds of Greece not using euro by the end of the year were the order of about 40pc, a bit lower after the latest Greek bail-out talks.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Problem Solved?

Despite the hype from the Eurozone that all is well and that problems are being resolved, it seems that some are still rather worried about the reality.

The Telegraph reports that Klaus Regling, head of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), has warned that the eurozone must reinforce its firewalls to avoid more market volatility.
"More money would reassure markets. Wrongly or rightly the fact is that big numbers in the shop window create calm." 

Even Angela Merkel appears to be prepared to yield to the pressure and agree to combine the EFSF and its permanent replacement, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

As to whether these vehicles actually have any funds in them is of course another issue!

Thank You HOUZZ!

Hi guys!  Sorry for being a little MIA last week- I've been sick, but starting to finally feel better- allergies might be getting the best of me lately.

On the bright side, I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from HOUZZ last week letting me know that Honey We're Home was a winner in the Design category for Best Of Remodeling.  I think my closet was the room that garnered the award.

To read more about how my closet was designed and organized, and to see more pictures, go HERE.

Thank you Houzz and the Houzz community!

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Oops! Greece Gets Its Dates Wrong

The PSI participation in foreign law Greek bonds was a meagre 69%. Greece has now extended the deadline for participation to April 4th.

Unfortunately, before then, on April 2nd there is a payment due on some bonds relating to Greek railways.

Was not the whole point of this exercise was for the swap to have been finalised so that bailout conditions were met before bills were due?


Friday, March 23, 2012

Wheels Fall Off Greek Bond Swap

As the take up the foreign law bond swap in Greece has been less than expected (people who didn't have their heads in the sand never expected the take up to be high), Greece is now expected to push back the foreign law bond swap deadline from today's March 23 deadline.

"Ironically" Greece's listed banks have asked for an extension of 30 days to their March 31 deadline for reporting their 2011 results to assess losses resulting from the recently completed bond swap.

If at first you don't succeed, change the rules!

Goldman Sachs Organises Muppet Hunt

Following on the from the Muppetgate scandal, in which Greg Smith publicly resigned and humiliated Goldman Sachs (Goldman employees allegedly refer to their clients as "muppets"), Goldman Sachs is taking no chances about further damage to its reputation. It has organised a Muppet hunt.

Goldman Sachs has started scanning emails for the term "muppet"  It is not clear as to whether the firm is also searching for; Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear or Gonzo the Great.

Neither is it clear what Goldman's will do to any hapless employee who has used the offending term in an email.

As to whether this scan is a breach of employee's rights of privacy depends very much on their terms and conditions of employment, and what rights they signed away when joining Goldman Sachs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Budget - Summary and Details

Here is a link to the details of today's Budget as per HMT:


Whilst here are the headlines of today's budget (source):

Tax changes

The personal allowance will rise to £9,205 in April 2013
  • The top rate of Income Tax will reduce from 50 per cent to 45 per cent in April 2013.
  • The Income Tax personal allowance (the amount you can earn before you pay tax) will increase to £9,205 in April 2013.
  • Age related allowances will be frozen from April 2013, moving towards a simpler, single personal allowance for everyone regardless of age.
  • From 2014-15, taxpayers will receive a new Personal Tax Statement, telling them how much Income Tax and National Insurance they have paid and what their money is being spent on.
  • Income Tax reliefs that aren't already capped will be capped at £50,000 or 25 per cent of income, whichever is higher.
  • The main rate of Corporation Tax will reduce by an additional 1 per cent from April 2012.
The new Income Tax rates for the 2012-13 tax year were published in December 2011 and will start on 6 April 2012.


Child Benefit will be withdrawn for households where someone has an income of more than £50,000
  • Child Benefit will be withdrawn when someone in a household has an income of more than £50,000. The benefit will be withdrawn gradually; 1 per cent of Child Benefit for every extra £100 earned over £50,000. Only those with an income of more than £60,000 will lose all their Child Benefit.
  • Servicemen and women serving in operations overseas will receive 100 per cent relief on an average Council Tax bill.
The new rates for the State Pension and benefits for 2012-13 were published in December. These rates start in April 2012.

Alcohol and tobacco

  • Duty rates for alcohol will rise on 26 March 2012 at the same rate as last year - two per cent above inflation. The government will shortly be publishing an Alcohol Strategy to address alcohol abuse.
  • Duty on tobacco will rise by five per cent above inflation - a rise of 37p on a pack of cigarettes. This will come into force at 6.00 pm on 21 March 2012.

Motoring and travel

  • Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) will increase by inflation only.
  • The government will take forward many of the recommendations from Alan Cook’s independent review of the road network, including developing a national roads strategy.
  • The government will also consider new ownership and financing models for the national road network.


  • A new Stamp Duty Land Tax rate of 7 per cent will be introduced for residential properties over £2 million from 22 March 2012.
  • The Stamp Duty Land Tax charge applied to residential properties over £2 million bought into a corporate envelope will be increased to 15 per cent from 21 March 2012. There will be a consultation on the introduction of an annual charge on £2 million residential properties which are already contained in corporate envelopes.
  • A New Buy Scheme was introduced last week to help those who cannot afford the larger deposits that some mortgage companies demand.
  • The government will fund an extra £100 million of improvements in the accommodation of the armed forces and their families.


  • The current system, where pensioners can receive an additional State Pension as well as their basic pension, will be simplified. This means that future pensioners will receive only one single-tier pension, based on contributions. This is currently estimated at around £140.
  • There will be an automatic review of the State Pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increases in life expectancy. Details of how this will work will be published this summer.
  • There will be no changes to pension relief.


Digital economy

  • The government has committed to providing 90 per cent of the population with access to superfast broadband.
  • There will be improved mobile phone coverage for rural areas and along key roads.
  • Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle are to become broadband super-connected cities, as part of the £100 million investment announced at the 2011 Autumn Statement.
  • £50 million will be used to fund a second wave of smaller cities.

The economy

The UK economy is predicted to grow by 0.8 per cent this year, and 2 per cent in 2013
  • The independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts for UK growth and inflation are broadly unchanged from its November forecasts.
  • Growth: its growth forecast for the UK this year is 0.8 per cent; they forecast growth of 2 per cent in 2013, 2.7 per cent in 2014, and 3 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
  • Inflation: expected to fall from 2.8 per cent this year to 1.9 per cent next year, and then 2 per cent by 2016
  • The OBR’s forecast for the unemployment rate is unchanged from last Autumn - the rate is expected to peak this year at 8.7 per cent and fall to 6.3 per cent by 2016.
  • Borrowing: public sector net borrowing (PSNB) is expected to total £126 billion this year, falling to £120 billion next year. It is then forecast to to fall to £98 billion in 2013-14, reaching £21 billion by 2016-17.

The Budget

Today, in case you were unaware, is Budget Day.

It is likely to be a damp squib, as most (if not all) of the headline measures/changes etc have already been leaked.

This is without doubt the most leaked budget in history.

When I was a lad people would have been flogged for leaking budget details (it is after all price sensitive information), how times change!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rat Leaves The Sinking Ship

As the Greek Parliament votes on accepting the second bailout, markets are already factoring in the need for a third bailout (if Greece remains in the Eurozone).

As a portent of the future, Greece's Finance Minister, (Evangelos Venizelos) has left office today so that he can lead PASOK into the next general election.

The fact that he was meant to be managing the constitutional changes, necessary for the second bailout to stand a chance of working, appears to have escaped him!

Summer Vacation

Maybe it's because our temperatures are rising and the sun is shining more and longer these days, but lately I'm craving a summer vacation.  A summer vacation where all I need is: a bikini, hat, sunglasses, cocktail, straw bag, and flip flops.

Sound good to you, too? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Road Privatisation - The Road To Hell

David Cameron has, quite rightly, observed that Britain's roads are in a mess.

Hi solution?

Privatisation of motorways and A roads, whereby companies would lease roads and receive a portion of the annual vehicle licence fee to maintain and upgrade the network. Firms would be allowed to charge tolls and, theoretically, use the revenues received to build more roads.

An "interesting" idea

However, given the shambles of the privatised rail network, airports, and water companies, I am somewhat "baffled" at Cameron's belief that this will actually work.

The Good Croissants

This post could also have been called, "Impromptu Pajama Party" but it was really all about the croissants.  Croissants so good that Oprah herself declared them one of her Favorite Things in 2009.

These are the croissants that I finally ordered from Williams Sonoma, waited for about a week for them to arrive, then promptly ate the following Saturday morning.  

They arrive at your door, frozen, packed in dry ice, 15 large croissants in a box. You let them rise overnight, apply an egg wash, then bake for about 15 minutes.  

They come out looking like this.  And are seriously delicious, buttery, flakey, light addictive things. 

On Friday night, having pulled out the frozen croissants to rise, I quickly texted a couple neighbors to invite them over to help us enjoy.  Originally planning on a pajama party at 9:00 a.m., once James woke us up at 6:30, we moved the party up to 8:00 a.m.  A casual, relaxed breakfast at home on the weekend is one of my favorite things.  Even better when sleepy friends and little kids come over. 

Don't mind that little curly-haired cutie on the bench! 

Kids played.  I have a "thing" for kids in glasses.  And chubby kids. My heart just melts. 

13 croissants didn't stand a chance.  Then the grown-ups drank coffee and watched Pioneer Woman:)  Kids played until the living room looked like this. 

10:00 a.m. on Saturday. 

Hope y'all had a great weekend!   

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today, I'm playing Blog Tag!  I was tagged by two fellow bloggers Amy (Eat. Sleep. Decorate)  & Carmel (Our Fifth House).  Read on to hear my responses to their questions and to see my questions for Shelli (A la Mode Maven).

You must post the rules.
Answer the 11 questions presented to you by your tagger.
Create 11 questions to ask the bloggers you plan to tag.
Tag the 11 people and link them in your post.
Let them know you've tagged them.

1. What is your favorite DIY project that you have accomplished?

One of my latest (and easiest) DIY projects was these little faux potted plants.  You can read about them here.

2. If you could have the skills of any designer or cook, who would it be?

One of my favorite designers is Nate Berkus.  Not only is he incredibly talented, but I can tell that he treats the people on his show so genuinely.

3. What is your favorite color scheme?

I'm still a "neutrals" girl at heart and love the look of an airy, white room.

4. One thing that we might not know about you is...

In my day job, I work as a lawyer.  

5. What do you miss most about being a child?

It was all so simple then:)  And maybe living in California- can't beat that weather.  

6. What does your ideal Friday Night look like? BE HONEST! 

Oh this one is easy, because we have the routine down pat!  Early dinner out with the family and sometimes another family will join us- usually Mexican food.  Come home, put James to bed, sit on the couch eating ice cream or drinking hot cocoa and catching up on Pinterest, blogs, and email. Rinse. Repeat. 

7. What is one beauty product you could never live without?

My eyelash curler.  And curling iron.  Okay, that's two. 

8. What is your favorite season and why?

Summer!  I love the long, sun-filled days.

9. If you could travel anywhere and money wasn't a factor, where would you go?

I've had a hankering lately to go somewhere beachy.  Hawaii comes to mind.

10. What is one design mess in your home?

Our media room.  It's still just being used as a storage space for unused furniture and things that need to go in the attic. 

11. One goal you have for your blog in 2012 is...

Respond to emails quicker and to comments more often.


Our Fifth House

1. If you had a time machine, where or rather when would you go?

I want to go to a year from now.  Am I pregnant?? 

2. Diamonds or Pearls?

Diamonds.  I really need to post my wedding ring.  It is seriously gorgeous.  My favorite piece of jewelry ever!

3. What's your favorite movie? 

For fun- Sex & The City.  

4. When you were a kid, what was your favorite television show?

Who's the Boss?

5. Let's pretend you found $50 in your couch cushions, what would you run out and buy?

I'm looking for a mirror for my guest room, so I'd take that $50 bucks to Homegoods and hope it was my lucky day.

6. What is your favorite color?


7. Why did you start your blog?

I had just quit my job and was a stay at home mom to my 4 month old son.  We also had just built a house and I was obsessed with the decorating process. 

8. What is your favorite home decor store?

Lately, Z Gallerie.  

9. Name one thing in your make-up bag you can not live without?

My Juicy Tubes lip gloss.  I probably apply it 20 times a day.

10. Do you watch Revenge?

What's that? :)

11. Will you still be my friend even though I made you suffer through this little game of tag? 

Of course!


I saw that most of my friends were already tagged by Carmel, so I'm tagging Shelli (A La Mode Maven).

1.  What does your morning routine look like? i.e. Do you make your bed and/or drink coffee?? 
2.  Do you cook or eat out most of the time?
3.  What's your favorite food?
4.  Who's your celebrity crush?
5.  What's your favorite room in your house and why?
6.  What have you been wanting to change up in your house lately?
7.  Where do you score most of your decor finds?
8.  How much time do you spend on Pinterest- if any at all? 
9.  Have you met any bloggers in real life?  If so, who?
10.  What's your signature drink?
11.  What blog post are you most proud of? 

Make it a great day!