Friday, May 31, 2013

Eurozone Unemployment Hits 12.2%

Eurostat reports that the rate of unemployment in the Eurozone hit 12.2% in April 2013, up from 12.1% in March. This compares very unfavourably with the levels of unemployment in the UK (7.7%) and the USA (7.5%).

The level of youth unemployment in certain countries is particularly shocking, the highest being in Greece (62.5% in February 2013), Spain (56.4%), Portugal (42.5%) and Italy (40.5%).

As I have said before, this level of unemployment is not sustainable and is a threat to democracy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

House Prices Overvalued?

According to the OECD, house prices in the UK are too high.

The Telegraph reports that a study by the OECD, which compared prices with local wages and rents, suggests that British house prices are 31% too high compared to rents and 21% over-priced against incomes.

Given that housing is the bedrock of the British economy, providing a credit hungry public with the raison d'etre to borrow ever increasingly large sums of money, people would be forgiven for thinking that this analysis is grim news for the economy.

Fear not!

The British government cannot help itself when it comes to meddling in the housing market and, via its Help To Buy Scheme announced in the March Budget, has already taken actions to underpin and further stimulate the housing market.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Judgement Day For Lagarde

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, will find out today if she will be put under formal investigation for her role in a payout made to Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister.

Tapie, a supporter of the former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was awarded 400M euros in 2007, in a dispute with the bank Credit Lyonnais.

Lagarde protests her innocence and, according to the BBC, claims that the payout was the best solution at the time.

Suffice to say, given the economic malaise within Europe this issue could not have come at a worse time for Lagarde, the IMF and the global economy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ahi Tuna Salad

One of my favorite starters to order at a restaurant, aside from the cheese plate, is the tuna tartare.  To satisfy the craving at home, I make something similar once in awhile.  This recipe does call for a couple of unique ingredients you may not necessarily have on hand, but you can pick them up at most grocery stores.


  • Ahi tuna

  • Tomato

  • Avocado

  • Scallions

  • Spicy mayo (I get it from the sushi counter at my store- it's about $1.00 for a small cup)

  • Wasabi paste- comes in a tube in the Asian aisle 

  • Black sesame seeds

I sear the tuna in a skillet over medium high heat for about two minutes per side and them remove and let rest while I dice the tomato and avocado.  Add in a bit of chopped scallion, the spicy mayo and wasabi paste to taste and sprinkle with the black sesame seeds.  

Are you into sushi or not so much?  I know people love it or hate it.  I'm definitely in the love category!  This is one of the recipes on my health and fitness blog, Honey We're Healthy.  Join me over there for more! :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thank you, Pinterest . . .

for finally alerting me when I'm about to pin something I've already pinned!  I've done this so many times in the past and on Sunday, got this friendly little message twice:)  Has this happened to you?!

You can follow me on Pinterest HERE.

Be Bold!

Mark Carney, the incoming Bank of England Governor, has warned that Europe could face a decade of stagnation unless it takes the kind of bold measures seen in Japan.

Carney is quoted by the Telegraph, whilst making his last speech as Governor of the Bank of Canada:
Europe can draw lessons from Japan on the dangers of half measures... Europe remains in recession. Deep challenges persist in its financial system. Without sustained and significant reforms, a decade of stagnation threatens.”
His comments give more traction to the rumours that the ECB is considering negative interest rates.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kid Spaces

Perfect timing for today's post from some of my favorite people over at Small Fry blog.  As you know, I'm in the midst of making over my son's nursery into a toddler room, and below are two creative kids rooms I know you'll love.  Don't these girls look like fun?! Their personalities translate into their children's spaces too!


I started the concept of Quinn's Room with the colors I wanted:Aqua Blue, Orange & Grey. I can't remember where I got my initial inspiration for those colors, but color is where the room started. It was important for me to have a room that was very little boy inspired but still masculine. I'm not a fan of sports themes or any of the typical "boy room" designs so I stuck to bold patterns, simple ikea furniture & beautifully painted walls. I had five versions of the aqua i eventually used on my wall for a month! I sent over my ideas to my designer friend, Kirsten & she helped me find the striped bedding from West Elm & the beautiful rug from CB2. Both bold patterned pieces I think make the room! I love being in Quinn's room, it is cheerful, happy & calming  & the perfect room for my little boy.


When we found out we were having a boy, it was around Christmastime and my husband had this awesome teal cashmere sweater that he would wear. It was the coziest thing ever, I wore it around all Winter. I fell in love with the color so I took the sweater to Home Depot and had them color match it! It represented comfort to me, and isn't that what a nursery is all about? We knew we couldn't do more than one wall teal without the already small room feeling smaller, so we painted one, picked a complimentary lighter blue for the others. To add texture my husband installed some pine flooring on the one wall, with original plans to do a high gloss white, but we sort of loved the natural wood, so it stayed!

We are huge music lovers and had a collection of concert posters that we wanted to put up in the nursery. They all had a mustard yellow hue to them, so that became the secondary color throughout the room. I was like Jenna in the sense that even though it was a nursery, I wanted it to feel masculine and ageless. The gallery wall helped with that tremendously. I found a super cheap rust colored rocker, and threw that in for good measure. By now my color scheme was all over the place, so my goal with the crib bedding was to tie it all in some how. Low and behold I found this adorable woodland creature print with you guessed it, mustard, teal, rust, and light blue. My husband built the shelves and hanging racks into the standard closet, and an Ikea shelving system gave us extra storage. 

Thank you Jenna and Emily for sharing your inventive kids' rooms with us!  

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Kristen at 6th Street Design School kicks off her series this week and I'm honored to have chimed in with what works in our house as it pertains to kids + good design. 

Inflation Falls

Inflation has taken a surprisingly sharp turn downwards from 2.8% in March to 2.4% in April, the so called "experts" had predicted 2.7%.

The fall has been caused by sharp falls in transport costs (eg air fares which fell by 6.4%). Unfortunately, the cost of food and non alcoholic beverages has increased by 0.7%.

In other words, those who are on tight budgets will continue to be squeezed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cleaning Up

I'm feeling a whole lot lighter after tackling a chore that I'd been avoiding for a couple weeks- cleaning up the accumulating mess in my office.  It's the result of James' art projects from school, home files, Stella & Dot stuff, craft things, and magazines.  It's all the stuff that didn't belong downstairs, and so I rightfully bring it up, but instead of putting it away properly, I just dumped it on my office floor.  You do this too? Move one pile to the next until you can't stand it anymore.

I avoid my office completely when it looks like this so it was time to get it cleaned up.  It didn't take long to throw out the trash and put things back where they belonged. 

So much better!  Doesn't it feel so good to get things organized and cleaned up?  It's a fresh start to the week!  Hope you have a great one!

Brexit - Good or Bad For Britain?

Britain's "love affair" with the EU, much like the seasons, turns hot and cold on a regular basis. More often than not the feelings towards the EU are frigid, to say the least.

In response to the never ending wrangling with the Tory party over Britain's role within (or without) the EU, Britain's leading businessmen have penned a letter to the Independentwarning that a Brexit would severely damage Britain's economy and standing within the world:
"The benefits of membership overwhelmingly outweigh the costs, and to suggest otherwise is putting politics before economics."
The economic costs/benefits of leaving the EU are not clear cut. However, the political consequences of remaining in the EU are clear; Britain's independence will continue to be eroded.

Does this erosion of independence matter?

Ask the good people of Greece or Cyprus!

Like it or not politics does play a role in this, because if politics fails we lose our democracy and there will be either dictatorship or anarchy. Businesses may well do well under certain forms of dictatorship, but the people of Britain won't.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Turning Japanese

In echoes of Japan in the 1980's/90's, it seems that the ECB is going down the path of negative interest rates.

As per Financial Acrobat:
"More rumours about negative rates from ECB. Said to have contacted German bank to ask if they could cope with it. It is likely true."
I loved the 80's!

Osborne Encounters Resistance

Poor old George Osborne appears to be encountering some resistance form other ministers to his plans to slash spending by £11.5BN.

As yet, according to the FT, his "colleagues" in government have only come up with £2.5BN in cuts; with some ministers failing to provide Osborne with the list of 10% in proposed departmental cuts he ordered before last month’s deadline.

Could it be that they don't think that he will still be in office in a year, and that as such he can "safely" be ignored?

As with any business, there will always be resistance to cuts. However, also as with any business, if the person who is demanding them is deemed to be "on his way out" the cuts will never materialise.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Living Room Before & After (Danielle Moss)

I'm a big fan of Danielle Moss (Breakfast at Toast/The Everygirl) and really appreciate how honest she is about not just the successes in her life, but the struggles too.  We all have them, trust me.  But, blogs are generally our "happy place" so let's enjoy her gorgeous apartment!  Have you seen it already??  So bright and full of personality in the little details.

In true Danielle style, I love how she shares the unglamorous "before" photos.

*all images via Breakfast at Toast

Amazing what some paint and styling can do to a room!  And I'm reminded to "enjoy the process"!

RBS Sacks 1,400 Staff

The newswires are reporting that RBS has told staff that 1,400 of them will lose their jobs over the coming two years.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Big Boy Bedroom Plan

My 3 year-old son will soon be sleeping in a big boy bed.  He's been quite content in his crib (only crawled out once!) all this time.  I took my time searching for a new bed and didn't go with the car bed although I did consider it, opting instead for a better quality twin bed and "Cars" bedding.

I searched everywhere, looking online and in several stores.  I almost bought one from, but the reviews weren't that good and said the color (Walnut) was more orange/red than pictured.

I really loved the dark blue Pottery Barn Camp bed, but it was $599 (on sale from $749).

Ultimately, I chose a twin bed (Hampton Classic Bed) from Pottery Barn Teen that is on sale for $399.

and also a red and white patterned sheet set with a red jersey knit pillow case (for "accidents" and when I want a change).

This West Elm shower curtain will become his drapes after a little sewing to make them longer (thanks Amanda!)

and the upper part of his walls will be painted something similar to this, Indi Go-Go by Benjamin Moore.

There will be pops of red, perhaps one of these bean bag chairs from Pottery Barn:

It's a start - finally!

*This post contains affiliate links.  

Negative Interest rates

It seems that the ECB is considering negative deposit rates, ie charging banks for their deposits.

The purpose of such a move?

To encourage/force banks to lend money in order to boost the flagging Eurozone economy.

Will it work?

No one knows!

Friday, May 10, 2013

ONS Screw Up Again

In September 2012 I wrote the following about the unreliability of ONS data:
"As I have noted many times before it is extremely unwise to rely on figures provided by the ONS, they are always out of date and invariably wrong; eg in February this year inflation figures spiked partly because the ONS (as per usual) had been erroneously under reporting inflation (clothing) for several years, and the resulting correction caused a spike in inflation.

Instead of the government and the Bank of England relying on and using ONS figures to to try to manage the economy, they may as well rely on reading goat entrails as these would be more accurate, timely and easier to interpret!
Here we are in May 2013, and yet again the ONS have been forced to revise their figures. It seems that Q1 construction figures reported by the ONS were wrong, and need to be revised upwards. As such the UK was not in recession in Q1 2013.

As per the Telegraph:
"The ONS now believes that output in the quarter contracted by 5pc, not the 5.4pc previously thought. In terms of levels of GDP, it has revised construction output for the quarter up by £108m to £25.273bn. 

Philip Shaw, UK economist at Investec, has calculated that an increase of just £70m in national output in the first three months of 2012 would cause growth to be revised from -0.1pc to 0.0pc.
All else being equal, the construction industry revisions would suggest that the economy did deliver just enough activity to escape the technical double dip recession."
As I noted above, it is extremely unwise to rely on figures provided by the ONS!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Greek Youth Unemployment Hits 64.2%

In a damning indictment of the Eurozone's economic policies, and of the folly of joining a single currency system, the youth unemployment (18-24) level in Greece has risen to a disgusting 64.2%.

Levels of unemployment such as this are normally associated with third world countries in the midst of a civil war, or the equivalent. Yet Greece is, allegedly, a first world country and is meant to be an "equal" member of a powerful and prosperous economic block (ie the Eurozone).

The reality is that Greece is not treated as an equal, it should never have joined or been allowed to join the Eurozone and the prosperity within the Eurozone is not evenly spread but confined to the wealthy Northern economies.

As such it is clear that as an experiment the Eurozone is destined to fail, indeed the world will be a better place without it. However, with levels of unemployment such as this in Greece the real danger is that of a plague of dictatorships and civil unrest spreading country by country in the Southern members of the Eurozone.

In order to survive as a democracy and civilised society Greece needs to exit the Eurozone now, others such as Cyprus need also to consider their positions.

Oh and by the way, in case anyone cares, today is Europe Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


You might remember me talking about wanting to paint our media cabinets dark grey last week.  They are currently Sherwin Williams Divine White (flat) and Jamestown Blue (Sherwin Williams??) on the back wall.

And I want to paint them dark grey like this:

I actually don't WANT to paint them myself, so I called the painter who painted my office for $100 (well worth it in my opinion) to get a quote.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it sure wasn't $750!  He said he would paint it with his spray gun and the cost is really in the care he has to take in covering everything else in the house so it doesn't get sprayed with paint.  

I politely declined. 

My question is:  Is this something I can tackle myself?  I painted the back wall, but that was easy, no drawers and doors, etc.  I really admire all you DIYers out there that wouldn't even hesitate to paint this yourself, but I'm very hesitant because I want it to look good, especially because it's such a focal point in the room.

Would you paint it yourself? 

What do you think is a reasonable price to pay to hire someone?

* * * * * 

And please come say hi to Jenna at SAS Interiors- she invited me over to talk about creating a meaningful home.  Thanks for having me Jenna!

Euro Downright Dangerous

Kudos to Lars Seier Christensen, chief executive of Saxo Bank, who has vented his spleen on the Eurozone.

He said that it was clear that the eurozone would eventually break up, as Brussels claimed even more power and used it “ever more poorly”.  He also, wisely and correctly, noted that "short term" capital restrictions are always introduced as "short term" but end up being long term; and warned that there will be many more.

As per the Telegraph, he said:
"Euro denominated assets will remain unattractive, and downright dangerous, to hold for years to come."
A wise man indeed!

Monday, May 6, 2013


My little baby is turning into a full fledged BOY.  We had a date night last Friday which included a trip to the bookstore (his request) and dinner at a restaurant, just the two of us.  I told him when I dropped him off at school that when I picked him up we were going on a date.  Hours later when I returned, the first thing he said when I walked into his class was, "Are you ready for our date, Mom?"  So sweet!

But he's not all sweet all the time anymore.  He wants to play rough, pretend he's Darth Vader, and challenge me.  We can't go anywhere without his lightsaber or Mack/Mater/McQueen.  He tells me, "No," goes straight to time-out for one minute, and then chastizes with that pouty face, "Don't be ugly to me!"  And he wants to negotiate all the time.  Mr. Let's Make A Deal, I swear.  

He's developing his independence and exploring the world.  Finding out what he likes to do and what makes him happy.  Testing boundaries and asserting himself.  Asking questions and making connections.  Struggling with discipline and rules. Getting so good at talking and communicating.  He might be more and more boy, but he is still so friendly and outgoing, talks to everyone, and loves to give hugs and kisses.  He's already teaching me more about myself as a person and woman and mother than I'm probably offering him.  I get lessons in patience and self-control and staying "in the moment" daily.  I'm so proud to be his mom- I feel like I should thank him on Mother's Day for coming into my life and making me a mom.  It's the best thing in the whole world.  

Abby M. Interiors

Happy Monday friends!  Over the weekend I was thrilled to hear my friend Abby announce the launch of her new interior design blog, Abby M. Interiors.  I've been following Abby since she first started blogging (A Delightful Design) and we started our blogs around the same time- hard to believe it's been about 3 years now!  I think Abby is so talented and beyond classy and I'm just so happy for her success.  It takes a lot of bravery and determination to follow your dreams, so big KUDOS to you Abby!

Here is a sampling of some of her work, but you can visit her new blog for more photos and info about hiring her for your own project.

All photos via Abby M. Interiors

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Basket Addiction

Happy almost Weekend!  If you have a chance, head on over to my friend Jen (I Heart Organizing) where I'm sharing my tips on how to organize your home with baskets!  I must have at least 50 baskets over here, what about you??

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cable Calls For Decision on Fred Goodwin

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is less than pleased that action has yet to be taken by Scottish prosecutors against Fred "the shred" Goodwin (the former CEO of RBS) and other senior directors of RBS for their role in its demise.

The Telegraph reports that Cable has written to Lord Wallace, the Government’s chief legal adviser in Scotland, demanding to know when a decision will be made on whether to ban the former bankers from sitting on company boards.

Cable first asked Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to consider prosecutions in January 2012.

The irony being of course, despite Cable's desire for speed, if a decision to prosecute was taken the trial would be lengthy and extremely complex. Any successful prosecution would then be appealed, and the resulting quagmire of appeals and counter appeals/hearings would take years to resolve, not to mention cost a small fortune.

The question that Cable needs to ask himself is will such a lengthy prosecution really serve the public interest?

A cynic might argue that Cable is playing to the gallery.