Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gray Built-In Bookshelves

Joni, of Cote de Texas, is famous for bring us gorgeous home tours and I came across this West University home she featured back in December 2009, as decorated by Sally Wheat.  Although the entire home is beautiful, what really caught my attention was the gray built-in bookcases in the family room.  Ms. Wheat is definitely ahead of the trends as gray is as relevant as ever, four years later. 

I scoured the entire post for the name of the paint color and found that Joni graciously shared it in the comments. 

Here's another darker gray built-in from Home & Design.

Laura at Bright, Bold, and Beautiful featured a home office remodel by Niki and Bradely Davidson that has the same dark gray built-in look.

I'm in love with just about every design from M.E. Beck Design, Inc. including her use of dark gray in this living room.

All of this gorgeous gray is making me want to paint our living room media cabinet/bookshelves gray.  Here's what they look like now.  Who has photoshop and can give me a rendering?? :) 

I painted a white door gray and love the look, so I'm thinking I'd love the look in the living room too.  It's more interesting and dramatic. 

I'm just not sure how dark I want to go.  The door is painted Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams.  

What medium to dark gray paint do you like?  I'd love to hear. 

Eurozone Unemployment Hits New High

Unsurprisingly, given that monetary policy within the Eurozone is being conducted by unelected and unaccountable anti inflation zealots from the ECB, unemployment levels within the Eurozone hit a record high of 12.1% in March.

The highest increases were registered in Greece (2 1.5% to 27.2% between January 2012 and January 2013), Cyprus (10.7% to 14. 2 %), Spain (24.1% to 26.7%) and Portugal (15.1% to 17.5%) .

Eurostat estimates that there are over 19 million people unemployed within the Eurozone, 3.6 million of them being under 25.

This level of unemployment is not sustainable and is a threat to democracy.

Cyprus Parliament Votes

Today the Cyprus parliament will be finally given an opportunity to vote on the bailout plan imposed on it by the IMF/EU.

Pundits expect that the bill will pass.

However, if it doesn't, the EU/IMF will simply delay the bailout until the parliament votes in favour of it.

"Democracy" in action, the EU way!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Impromptu Picnic

This weekend, in between thunderstorms, we had a pocketful of really nice weather.  The kind of mild weather that is perfect for an impromptu picnic, and just the excuse I needed to bust out my new picnic basket I found at HomeGoods.   They are designed by Cynthia Rowley and come is several different colors and patterns.

The padded handle is nice and inside, they are insulated.  I was able to fit a small cutting board, 4 tupperware containers, 2 boxes of crackers, a juice box, hand towel and ice bag. 

A small pocket on the outside is great for napkins and cutlery. 

You don't need to get all fancy for a picnic, just a few light snacks are perfect.  

I showed my son that, on a picnic, you can take off your shoes and enjoy bare feet:) 

But then he was off to the playground. 

Have you enjoyed a picnic lately?  Next time I'm bringing the wine.

Eurozone Economic Sentiment Decreases

Unsurprisingly confidence in the Eurozone fell for a second straight month in April.

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased by 1.5 points in the euro area (to 88.6) according to the European Commission's latest Business and Consumer Survey results.
"In the euro area, the ESI's decline was broad - based across all business sectors, with services witnessing the sharpest drop, while consumer confidence went up. Among the five largest euro area economies,  economic sentiment worsened significantly in Germany (- 2.3) , France (- 2.0) and Italy (- 1.9), while remaining broadly stable in the Netherlands (+0.2 ) and improving in Spain (+ 0. 9). 

The decrease in industry confidence ( - 1. 5 ) resulted from a much more negative assessment of the current level of overall order books and lower production expectations. Managers' assessment of stocks of finished products remained virtually unchanged. The past production and, to a lesser extent, the current level of export order books, which are not included in the confidence indicator, were also assessed more negatively . 

Services confidence dropped abruptly by 4.1 percentage points, driven by significantly worsened assessments of the business situation and demand over the past three months. Demand expectations deteriorated to a lesser extent. 

Consumer confidence increased by 1.2 points, based on a marked easing of unemployment expectations and slightly better expectations concerning households' future financial situation, the future general economic situation and savings over the next 12 months. Retail trade confidence decreased by one point, driven by worsened business expectations and views on the adequacy of current stocks. The assessment of the present business situation worsened only slightly. Also construction confidence decreased (- 1.3), based on weaker employment expectations and assessment s of order books. 

Financial services confidence (not included in the ESI) improved markedly (+ 5.0), fuelled by considerably better assessments of the business situation and demand over the past three months. Demand expectations improved slightly. Employment plans were revised downwards across business sectors, contrasting with the easing of consumers' unemployment expectations. Selling price expectations decreased in industry, retail trade and construction, and increased marginally in services."
According to the Telegraph, "experts" had forecast a decline to 89.3.

The pressure is now on the ECB to cut rates this Thursday. However, given that the ECB is dogmatically sticking to its anti inflation monetary policy, at the cost of millions of jobs in the Eurozone, I do not expect to see any cut in rates.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cyprus To Maintain Capital Controls

In a remarkably unsurprising development, Cyprus has decided to maintain capital controls during the summer.

The Eurozone finance ministers and ECB will of course be delighted, as this will enable them to continue to crow that there there has been no bank run in Cyprus.

My sympathies to the people of Cyprus, it will be a long hot summer!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Pain In Spain

Unsurprisingly Spain has had to delay reaching it budget deficit reduction targets by two years, to 2016.

Additionally, it foresees its unemployment rate as being 27.1% in 2013 and 26.7% in 2014.

At what stage will the Europhiles wake up and realise that levels of unemployment such as these are not sustainable in a Western democracy without there being serious blowback?

The above figures are of course subject to revision!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

UK Avoids Triple Dipper

In a small ray of sunshine, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that Britain's economy grew by 0.3% in Q1 of this year; thus the UK has avoided entering its third technical recession by the skin of its teeth.

The 0.3% rate of growth even managed to be larger than the 0.1% predicted by economists.

However, before people break open the Bollinger, it should be remembered that 0.3% is not exactly "stellar" and that China is feeling very sorry for itself having "only" managed to grow by 7.7%!

However, as I always say, never rely on ONS statistics they are out of date and will be revised upwards/downwards in due course.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our Living Room Sectional (Pottery Barn Pearce) - A Review

Our sectional is from, the Pearce Chaise Sectional to be precise and I wanted to let you know the pros and cons in case you are considering this sofa for your home.  Overall, I would buy this couch again, but I wish the back cushions held their shape better.

This sectional comes in four pieces and can be configured so that the chaise is on the left or right. You have to be careful when placing your order so you get the correct piece.  

The couch is big!  It's long enough seat several people and also to take an afternoon nap.

For our space, the sectional fits our living room perfectly.  I love having the chaise lounge and you can typically find me there.  I claimed it from the very beginning.  Well, James and I claimed it. 

The fabric on our sofa is Everyday suede in Light Wheat, but it also comes in a variety of different fabrics and colors.   Light Wheat is a neutral dark tan.  You can take swatches of their fabric home for free.  The suede is great because it is soft and wipes clean easily.  The only stain I haven't been able to remove is an ink pen.  All spilled milk and other unidentified spots have disappeared with a scrub of soap and water.  

My disappointment in this sofa is the back cushions.  They get so "mushed" and lose their shape- especially the ones that get the most use.   I continually have to refluff them.   The cushion covers do unzip, so I guess I could purchase a new insert- I haven't looked into that, but might consider it. For now, I've added another pillow insert into the one cushion that goes where I sit.  

Be mindful that with a sectional like this (with the chaise), you can't have a very large coffee table in the middle.  There are about 70 inches inside, but you need to have room to walk around the coffee table, so the widest coffee table you can reasonably have is about 40 inches.  

I think this couch is popular- I've seen it in my friend Courtney's home (A Thoughtful Place).  I'm not sure we have the same fabric/color though.  And her cushions don't look as smushed.  :)

Balancing Home has the Pearce in Oat.  

If you have any questions about this sofa, let me know and I'll answer in the comments. 

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P.S.  I'm sharing a spinach and fruit smoothie on my health and fitness blog- Honey We're Healthy.  This one's surprisingly yummy!

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Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I got the new Wisteria catalog the other day and pretty much flagged every page for items I liked.  I have never ordered from Wisteria, have you?  I'm surprised I haven't at least gotten this x-base stool.  I've admired it for years.  I could be sitting on it instead of the floor when I bathe my son.

I'm crazy over this Reclaimed Pine Bookcase.  I envision it in a dining room - it would be great storage for linens/serve ware with all those different sized drawers.

And this French Directoire Dresser is definitely on my list.

I like seeing the different ways they style it.

And those chairs.  They come in a variety of soothing colors.  

Wisteria's mirror collection is amazing.

If you don't mind a desk without drawers, this glass desk is pretty cool.  

Have you ordered furniture from an online retailer where you haven't gotten to see the furniture in person first?  How was your experience? 

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Banks Delay PPI Claims

In March I noted that the financial ombudsman service (FOS) was taking on 2,000 new PPI complaint cases a day, with numbers rising at "unprecedented" rates.

I went on to note that it was clear that the banks were trying to delay payouts:
"Needless to say, as the number of referrals to the FOS rises, so does the length of time it takes for the ombudsman to make a determination. It seems that the delays are also increasing because some companies are causing unnecessary delays.

Natalie Ceeney, chief financial ombudsman, is quoted by the BBC:
"As the complaint levels show no sign of slowing, consumers are increasingly having to wait longer to get their complaints sorted - with many businesses still continuing to cause unnecessary delays.
Where businesses have shown a real commitment to better customer service and diligent complaints handling - including actively engaging with the ombudsman - cases are resolved more quickly and easily, to the benefit of everyone."
None of this is surprising, those who were sold PPI will see this as an opportunity to try to obtain a refund (irrespective of whether they were mis-sold PPI or not) and the banks will do everything they can to try to reduce the costs of the claims.

That being said, had the banks not incentivised their staff to sell policies that were in many cases clearly inappropriate to people who didn't need them/couldn't claim on them when they needed to, then this entire mess could have been avoided.

The greed of the banks is now being repaid by the perspective that the banks' customers have that there is "free" money to be made.
As the old saying goes, "what goes around, comes around".
A claims management company, Emcas, has now also said that banks are rejecting around a third of claims from customers. Ironically, as per the Telegraph, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which deals with complaints rejected by the banks, is upholding the majority of PPI claims.

Why such an anomaly?

A cynic would argue that the banks are trying to slow things down in the hope that those claiming simply give up.

Needless to say the British Bankers' Association denies that banks were deliberately turning down legitimate claims in the hope that they would avoid having to pay up.

Make of that what you will.

Irrespective of what obstacles (real and imaginary) are put in your way by the banks, do not give up; if rejected by the bank make a claim direct to the FOS, do not use a claims management company (which will charge you a percentage of any compensation that you receive).

Monday, April 22, 2013

HomeGoods Blogger Party

We had a great time at the HomeGoods Blogger Access Party on Saturday morning.  The store associates were so friendly and put out a wonderful spread of breakfast pastries, fruit, and drinks for us to enjoy before we shopped.  The store generously gave away five $50 gift certificates and also $10 gift certificates to everyone who came.  THANK YOU HomeGoods and to all the beautiful ladies who attended!

Here are a couple items that came home with me on Saturday:  This global/geometric dark gray and white flat weave rug.  It was a steal at $49.99 for a 5x7.  They had several sizes and lots of different patterns and colors.

Since I moved the cowhide rug back downstairs to the living room, this new rug is perfect for my office. 

And I got a huge bottle of hand soap in a fun, striped bottle for $3.99.  I like how it goes with our kitchen rugs.  

Then, on Sunday, I visited the HomeGoods by my house and fell in love with these Drexel Heritage lamps.  They were only $80 each and so vibrant.  They really "wake up" the dining room.  

I adore the lucite base.

Have you been to HomeGoods lately?  What's your favorite thing you've found there?