Friday, November 30, 2012

Wheels Fall Off Greek Bailout Plan

Unsurprisingly the wheels have fallen off the Greek bailout plan.

For why?

Eurozone banks do not want to take the losses that will arise from the Greek bond buyback plan.

The IMF will not release the next tranche of bailout money until the Eurozone delivers on the bond buyback plan.

See the problem?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

$100 Nordstrom Giveaway

Hi guys!  I wanted to let y'all in on the GIVEAWAY I'm doing at my Health & Fitness blog, Honey We're Healthy.  If you'd like a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to my favorite store, Nordstrom, go HERE to enter!

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And there is still time to win a $100 gift card to Staples.  Go HERE to enter.

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One more thing, our 2nd Annual Christmas Cheer Holiday Link Party starts on Tuesday at Cassie's place (Hi Sugarplum) with Christmas crafts.  On Thursday, is Michelle (Ten June) with Christmas mantles.  See you there!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Greece - The Never Ending Story

Despite Eurozone hyperbole that the Greek crisis has been "solved", via a debt write down, bond buyback and probable gifting of the next tranche of bailout money, it appears that this is not the end of the story.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has in fact warned that Greece may need additional help.

As per, Euro-area governments may provide additional funding through the European Union structural fund and further interest payment reduction as long as Greece meets all its obligations under the agreement.

In other words there is an open ended commitment to prop Greece up.

Target Holiday Accessories in the Bathroom

I'm continuing to add small touches of Christmas decor throughout our home and I have to thank Target for sending some Threshold decor pieces that I added to our master bathroom.  They are a festive addition and super cute.   Below is their red and white plush hand towel and the cable knit soap dispenser and cup.  Adore!

To add more flair, I put fresh cut tree branches and faux red berries into a mercury glass vase tied with a  bright satin red ribbon.  

On my husband's side, we have the Target snowflake hand towel and cable knit tray.  

On top of the cable knit tray is a tiny faux boxwood brightened up with a red bow. 

And in the living room, I'm crazy about these Target quatrefoil candles in red and green.  I've been burning them nightly- so cozy!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's All At The Co-op Now!

Simon Gompertz writes that as a result of an order from our European overlords (requiring Lloyds to hive off a large number of branches) 3.5 million customers of Lloyds TSB will start receiving letters from the bank from tomorrow, informing them that their accounts will be moved to a new bank (TSB) owned by the Co-op.

Christmas Dough Bowl

I hinted that our dough bowl might be getting a Christmas makeover and it happened this weekend.  Just a few additions transformed it from fall to festive.  I'm all about simple yet bold with RED this year.  Last year, all of our Christmas decor was very pure and angelic, with white, silver, gold and green.  This year, I'm breaking out and going with an energetic and strong color.   

The dough bowl is filled with faux snow (an after Christmas find from Pottery Barn several years ago and still going strong), pine cones, red ornaments, two teeny birds, and some real branches trimmed from James' Christmas tree.  

It really brings some holiday cheer to the kitchen.  

I adore the little bird in a nest (from Michaels and Hobby Lobby). 

Are you getting in the Christmas spirit?!

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P.S. Any of you still hanging with me on The Voice?! I loved Amanda's strong rendition of Adele's Someone Like You- just awesome!  I still can't tell who's gonna win- what do you think??


Monday, November 26, 2012

Mark Carney Named As Governor of The Bank of England

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, has been named the new Governor of the Bank of England.

He will take over from Sir Mervyn King next June.

The Reason for the Season

Hi everyone!  I hope you are rested and ready for the holiday season! We had a nice Thanksgiving split between two families/houses with way too much awesome food.  The long break was great and I'm really excited for the upcoming weeks.  On Friday, I avoided the stores and opted to stay inside, cleaning house and pulling out the Christmas decor.   We are making use of what we have this year, buying just a few more ornaments for the tree in lime green (a color I didn't already have).  And we bought a mini (3 foot) real tree for James' room.  It was really fun to see him run around the tree lot and then have him help put on the ornaments.  He said the tree looked "beautiful" when lit up with all the white lights!

James also helped me unpack and display our Nativity.  I love this Nativity scene (from Costco).  It's rather large and the detail in each piece is lovely.  I got to explain to James why we celebrate Christmas and to remind myself also.

Wishing you a happy and blessed holiday season. 

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D Day For Greece?

Another day, and other summit to "resolve" the Greek crisis. In theory Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels today to discuss Greece's debt problems. However, it is possible that given there is no likelihood of any tangible outcome that the meeting will be delayed until December.

Despite the certainty of failure, the Eurorcrats continue to spout the "party line" that a solution needs to be/will be found. ECB vice president Vitor Constancio says that he expects a deal on Greece to be reached today.

However, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn is a little more "Delphic" and according to the Telegraph has stated that a decision must be taken on the next tranche of aid to "get rid of uncertainty hanging over Greece".

That of course is true, but uncertainty can be ended in two ways:

1 Give Greece more money, or

2 Cut Greece off and force it to default and exit the Eurozone.

Either way the uncertainty is ended!

Friday, November 23, 2012

EU Budget Summit Cancelled

Unsurprisingly the EU budget summit has been cancelled.

A waste of time, effort and money (our money!).

EU Draft Budget Proposal Leaked

Courtesy of Open Europe a draft of the latest HermanVan Rompuy (HvR) proposal for the EU budget has been published.

The headline spending figure remains broadly unchanged in the new proposal, standing at €1,014BN (a €4BN increase), but more is spent on farm subsidies and structural funds, in a move designed to appease France, Poland, Italy and Spain.

Thus the budget in its present form will not pass, as the UK will veto it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eurozone Imploding At Alarming Pace

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit is quoted by the Telegraph as saying that the Eurozone is deteriorating at an "alarming pace".

Meanwhile the "Gnomes of Brussels" continue to demand an increase in their bloated budget.

This will not end well for the hapless citizens of the Eurozone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Of Mice and Men - Samaras Cancels Begging Bowl Qatar Trip

Lats Friday I wrote of  a begging bowl trip by Greek PM to Qatar (and possibly Asia Pacific and Russia) that was "definitely" going ahead:
"In the meantime, hoping to delay the arrival of the fat lady, Antonis Samaras Greece's PM is to go on a tour of the Middle East, China and Russia to try to attract investment.

However, whilst the trip to Qatar is
definitely going ahead the other ports of call have yet to be confirmed; not everyone likes people turning up on their doorstep begging for money."
Less than a week later and it seems that the "definite" trip has been cancelled.

As per Zerohedge:
"Greek Premier Cancels Planned Visit to Qatar on Nov. 26: Office. So much for that bailout plan."
As I noted last Friday, not everyone likes people turning up on their doorstep begging for money.

Chalk Markers

The wall is super fun- the chalk dust everywhere- not so much.  I found some chalk MARKERS online  ( and they rock!  They write just like a pen and wipe off clean with a damp cloth- no dust!  They have different sizes and a variety of colors.  It says on their website that these are the markers Starbuck's uses on their chalkboards. 

I tried them out over the weekend and put up a Thanksgiving message.  

Cool, huh?!  I can't wait to play with them more- did you notice I ordered the traditional Christmas colors? :)

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The Troika's Stark Choice

Despite Greece's doom laden warnings that it would run out of cash by 16 November,  as at the time of writing this article it hasn't.

In other unsurprising news Eurozone finance ministers, the IMF and the ECB (aka the Troika) have failed, for the second week running, to reach an agreement as to how/whether to bail Greece out again.

The bottom line is that Greece's debt is unsustainable.

The Troika face a stark choice, either the debt is written off or Greece is written off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

UBS Banker Kweku Adoboli Guilty of Fraud

A former UBS banker, Kweku Adoboli, has been found guilty of fraud after losing the bank $2.3BN in unauthorised trading.

Ooh La La Moody's Downgrades France

Moody's has downgraded France from AAA to Aa1.

Moody's rationale for the downgrade being that France’s long-term economic growth has been hit by its inflexible labour market and low levels of innovation eroding its competitiveness and industrial base.

It also cited France's exposure to the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

Moody’s is quoted by the Telegraph:
Further shocks to sovereign and bank credit markets would further undermine financial and economic stability in France as well as in other euro area countries. 

The impact of such shocks would be expected to be felt disproportionately by more highly indebted governments such as France.

Dough Bowl

I've had my eye on a dough bowl for quite some time now.  I love the shape and simplicity of these rustic looking bowls.  I was trying to find a good deal on a large size for our kitchen island or breakfast table.

I had pinned a few from etsy, but then, imagine my surprise when I was at our annual holiday Nutcracker market and I stumbled upon rows and rows of the infamous bowls.  I was with my girlfriend and she had no idea what I was getting so excited about- she's all a "dough what?"

The one I chose is pretty large (36x10 inches) and was $75 after tax.  It's from Paul Michael Company. The giant glass lamps I left behind are still haunting me, but that's another story.

For Thanksgiving, I've got pinecones (a few embellished with gold spray paint), faux green apples and real manderin oranges in mine.  

I love seeing how other people use their dough bowls to hold everything from crayons (Emily A. Clark)

to pumpkins (Sand & Sisal)

I can see them getting decked out with a little faux snow, some bright red berries, and greenery come this weekend!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Barclays Purges Thought Crimes

Echoing an Orwellian dictatorship, Barclays is attempting to "cleanse" the minds of its executives of their aggressive money making thoughts.

The Mail reports that Antony Jenkins, the CEO of Barclays, has ordered more than 100 of the bank's most senior executives to attend a two-day re-education event.

The process is designed to cleanse their minds of the aggressive culture instilled by his predecessor Bob Diamond.

The re-education event, to be held in North London, is part of a drive by Jenkins to win back the trust of customers and regulators by making a decisive break with the Diamond era.

The attendees will participate in a series of seminars and bonding exercises aimed at instilling ethical values. The executives will then be expected to act as evangelists for the new culture throughout the organisation. During the two days they will be immersed in sessions including history lessons on the bank’s heritage as a Quaker institution.

They will also be subjected to ‘360 degree feedback’ on their performance, with people both above and below them contributing to their bonus assessments. The process is designed to penalise self-serving or unethical behaviour.

Let's see how that goes then!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lagarde and Greece Wait For The Fat Lady

Christine Lagarde (CEO of the IMF) is quoted by the Telegraph wrt a possible deal being brokered for Greece next week:
"You know, it's not over until the fat lady sings, as the saying goes.

It's a question of working hard, putting our mind to it, making sure that we focus on the same objective, which is that... Greece can operate on a sustainable basis, can recover, can get back on its feet, can re-access markets as early as possible.
That is what is driving the IMF's determination."
In the meantime, hoping to delay the arrival of the fat lady, Antonis Samaras Greece's PM is to go on a tour of the Middle East, China and Russia to try to attract investment.

However, whilst the trip to Qatar is definitely going ahead the other ports of call have yet to be confirmed; not everyone likes people turning up on their doorstep begging for money.

Necklace & Jewelry Organization

As the closet clean-out continued, next on the hit list was an array of jewelry I never wear.  Truthfully, I'm terrible at accessorizing, opting most days for diamond stud earrings or simple hoops, and James' birthstone necklace or my favorite "j" necklace.  But, I'm hoping weeding through and giving away what I haven't worn in forever and keeping everything else out in the open will encourage me to wear it more.  I think it's working because I've worn three different necklaces this week.

I've got my necklaces hanging on a piece of foam board that I covered with decorative paper.  I used thumbtacks to hold the necklaces.  

Thumbtacks also hold some of my earrings. 

Little trays are perfect for keeping bracelets and watches. 

I've had the first jewelry board for awhile, but I just made this one, since I now have extra room with lots of clothes donated. 

Bowls from Anthropologie and West Elm hold bangles.  

I really like having everything were I can see it.  The decorative paper is from Paper Source.  The silver thumbtacks are from WalMart. 

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eurozone Driven Into Recession Again

The Eurozone has fallen back into recession again.

As per Eurostat:
"GDP fell by 0.1% in the euro area1 (EA17) and increased by 0.1% in the EU271 during the third quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2012, growth rates were -0.2% in both zones.

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP fell by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU27 in the third quarter of 2012, after -0.4% and -0.3% respectively in the previous quarter.

During the third quarter of 2012, GDP increased by 0.5% in the United States compared with the previous quarter (after +0.3% in the second quarter of 2012) and fell by 0.9% in Japan (after +0.1%).

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP rose by 2.3% in the United States (after +2.1% in the previous quarter) and by 0.2% in Japan (after +3.4%).
Could it be that the dogmatic policy of austerity, being pursued by unelected bureaucrats and vainglorious politicians, is driving the Eurozone onto the rocks?

Surely not?!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

$100 Giveaway (Martha Stewart Home Office Collection with Avery)

With the holidays just around the corner, it makes me breathe a bit easier when things like packaging and mailing out gifts is made simpler with gorgeous products to help keep me organized. This year, I'm thrilled to have received and be using beautiful and functional holiday and organizational products from the Martha Stewart Home OfficeTM with AveryTM collection.  If you need to get control of your holidays this year too, you can find the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery line exclusively at Staples (available online and in-store).  

Since I recently redid my home office, I'm using it as command central for all things holiday related.  Keeping my desk clean and clutter free is priority number one in helping to maintain sanity when things feel out of control.  I'm so happy that the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery collection has such functional and pretty things to help keep my life organized!

I used the Stack+FitTM modular system from Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery as "home base" to hold all of my items in preparation for mailing Christmas cards.  I like how the Stack+Fit has three dividers of different sizes so I can customize it to fit what I need.  

I've got markers and packing tape (isn't that the cutest packing tape ever?!) in the small compartment, postcards in the adjoining slot and Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery padded envelopes and printable mailing labels in the large compartment in back. The labels and padded envelope are so festive in their candy cane colors, I don't have to worry about making my packages pretty.  

I've got lots of photos I'll be printing and sending this year to relatives that prefer printed (as opposed to emailed) photos of James, so I'm happy to have these red and white striped padded mailers to send them in.  I think it's so fun to receive a gift like this in the mail, and the fun packaging adds to the beauty of the gift inside.  

The Stack + Fit also has a companion pocket that you can hang on the wall to keep important documents and papers off of your table tops and counters.  It comes with matching push pins so you can hang the pockets on walls or corkboards.  If you don't want to use a push pin, you can use the attached adhesive to adhere it to metal, wood, glass, and tile; the adhesive will remove cleanly from smooth surfaces.  It's really a lifesaver that comes in various sizes and colors to meet your specific needs.  

I had no idea that Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery was making gorgeous wrapping paper, too!  I love to coordinate presents, and these papers are not only pretty, but durable, too.  The Paper Gift Tags are so cute in their stocking, mitten, and rectangle shapes. You can write right on them and they won't smudge.  The holiday line is available in-store at Staples.

To see all the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery collection go HERE.

To entered for a chance to win  a $100 Staples gift card, please leave a comment stating one way you stay organized during the holidays.

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No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/14/12-12/14/12.

Be sure to visit the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery page on where you can read other bloggersĂ­ reviews and find more chances to win!

Like Avery on Facebook to learn even more about their wonderful products.

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The Eurozone Tinderbox

The growing backlash against the economic dogma of Eurozone austerity has found physical form today, as unions stage a series of demonstrations and "general strikes" across the European Union.

By way of an example, Greece continues to suffer. The Hellenic Statistical Authority has released data that shows that the Greek economy shrank by 7.2% on an annual basis in the three months to the end of September.

Driving economies and people into the ground for the sake of an economic doctrine imposed by unelected bureaucrats will backfire on those who pursue this misguided policy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Cheer Holiday Link Party

With Christmas approaching, I'm so excited to announce our 2nd Annual Christmas Cheer Link Party!  Again, Cassie (Hi Sugarplum), Michelle (Ten June), Natasha (Schue Love), Courtney (A Thoughtful Place), Michaela (Michaela Noelle Designs), and I have teamed up to bring you five holiday link parties.  

I'm really looking forward to all of the parties, which include:

Hi Sugarplum (Tuesday, December 4)

"Christmas Craft"- Show us your holiday crafty side. 

Ten June (Thursday, December 6)

"Merry Mantle"- Bring on the mantle decor.

Honey We're Home (Tuesday, December 11)

"O Christmas Tree"- I can't wait to see your trees all fancied up

Schue Love (Thursday, December 13)

"Holiday Recipe"- Give us some yummy main dishes, sides, appetizers, drinks or dessert.

A Thoughtful Place (Tuesday, December 18)

"Christmas Vignette"- Get creative with a little something that showcases the holidays.

Michaela Noelle Designs (Thursday, December 20)

"Holiday Apparel"- We'd love to see what you're wearing this season, including any DIY holiday accessories, or hair tutorials.

I can't wait to see what y'all have to share with us this year. 

Please grab a button and let your friends know about the party!

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And a big THANK YOU to Jessica at Creative Index who created our cute invitation and button.  She is so talented- go HERE to see more of her design work.

Allegations of Gas Market Rigging Akin To LIBOR

The FSA and Ofgem are looking into allegations that some of the UK's largest utilities have manipulated the UK physical natural gas markets.

Seth Freedman, a whistleblower, told them that he saw evidence that wholesale gas prices, used as the basis for domestic energy bills, were manipulated by some of the big power companies.

Mr Freedman, who worked at ICIS Heren (a firm which reports gas prices), said he saw what he took to be suspect trading on September 28 (the end of the gas industry’s financial year).
The fact that gas is traded like all other commodities makes it susceptible to speculation.

In the event that Mr Freedman's allegations are proven to be true, then this would be a scandal equivalent to the LIBOR rigging by the banks.

You can almost hear the lawyers rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the lawsuits that are going to come from this.

Greek Bond Auction Falls Short

Greece's t-bill auction fell Euro1BN short of raising the Euro5BN due for Friday's bond deadline, although it was almost Euro1BN above its target.

However, it may well manage to sell some more and make up the shortfall before then.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Greece Needs Another Euro32BN

The Troika draft report on Greece states that Greece needs another Euro15BN to get it through to 2014.

For good measure the report goes on to say that Greece may need extra Euro17.6BN in 2015/16.

Whilst the powers that be ponder where that money is going to come from, of more pressing need to Greece is this Friday's bond maturity deadline; yet still no sign of the next tranche of bailout money!

Euro1.4BN EU Fraud

Bruno Waterfield has just tweeted that the EC has confirmed that 'part of' the proposed roll over of €1.4BN from 2012 to next year are funds 'under investigation'.

Which basically means there is a suspicion of fraud wrt this sum of money.

Don't you just love the EU's budgetary process and financial "controls", the stories that just keep giving.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Painted Closet Island

Last weekend, when I painted our half-bath door, I also painted the island in my closet.  It needed touching up from all the scuff marks.  I originally planned to paint it grey, and at the last minute chose a glossy light pink.  I figured why not- and thought it would look good with the Lucia chandelier.  It's very subtle, but I'm not sure I'm sold on it.

Right before moving in, the closet looked like the picture below.  It's all painted Sherwin Williams Divine White (flat).

Here's how the island looks in light pink and with the runner removed.  

Over the last few weeks, I've been on a deep-cleaning closet organization binge.  I have tried on almost everything I own (including shoes), and am being ruthless when it comes to editing out what doesn't fit, I haven't worn in years, or I just don't like.  I've given bundles of clothing, shoes, jewelry, and makeup to family and friends.  It's feeling very refreshing to simplify!

I also figured out a new way to organize my belts and jewelry too that I plan to show you soon.  I'll show you the entire closet as soon as I'm finished.

Are you liking the pink??  I love the glossiness, but not sure about the color- the first picture is the truest representation of the shade.  It's Sherwin Williams Venus Pink, acrylic, high gloss.

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