Friday, November 30, 2012

Hannah Green in Thinkprogress on Renewable Energy in India

She writes:

This August, power shortages in India that left 300 million in the dark made it very clear that one of the world’s fastest growing economies was facing an energy crisis. Less clear is how realistically to solve it. Many firms are looking for new sources of oil to fulfill India’s growing energy demands, but this could prove to be painfully expensive.  On the brighter side, solar energy and other renewable resources are already being rapidly harnessed in the non-Western world, and they are becoming cheaper and cheaper.
As of June 2012, 31 percent of India’s energy came from renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, while only 9 percent of the United States’ did as of the end of 2011. In a 2009 McKinsey & Company survey, India was rated the top producer of solar energy in the world, just above the United States, with an annual yield of 1,700 to 1,900 kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak (kWh/KWp). However, demand for energy in India will only continue to grow, and the question is whether energy will continue to come mainly from fossil fuels or from renewable energy sources...

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

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

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

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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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The housing cycle is the business cycle--again

Ed Leamer said so.  I said so.  And I continue to think it so.

Run a simple bi-directional Granger Causality model of change in residential investment and GDP.  It turns out a model with one and three lags best fits the data going back to 1969.  That model's four quarter forecast for GDP growth is 2.6, 2.5, 2.1 and 2.5 percent; for residential investment growth is 6.2, 5.0, 4.9 and 4.9 percent.  (BTW, the model passes the stationarity test).

But residential investment has grown by between 8.5 and 20 percent over the past four quarters.  Let's say that an exogenous shock (kids moving out of their parents' houses) leads residential investment to grow by 10 percent.  The forecast for GDP growth now increases to 2.6, 2.9, 2.6 and 2.9, or about .4 percentage points higher than the baseline case.  This increase in GDP reflects more than the direct impact of residential investment on GDP.

What is Apple's objective function?

Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs is a lot of fun--at least in part because it is not a hagiography.

One of the most striking things about the book is that Jobs never pushed profit maximization per se--he pushed "great products."  When John Scully pushed out Jobs and ran the company, he did push profit maximization--and Apple nearly went out of business.  Re-enter Jobs with his products-first philosophy, and Apple eventually becomes the most valuable company in history.

When economists model firms, we inevitably assume profit maximization, and then allow firms to compete either through price or quality.  The exception to this is a principal-agent set-up, where managers are seeking to maximize their own compensation.  But this doesn't really work for Apple, where Jobs was both a principal and an agent.

Maybe none of this matters--that making great products is a sufficiently strong proxy for profit maximization.  But Job's desire to make great products led him to care a lot less about cost minimization than, say, Dell--the chapter on how fanatical Jobs was about the plastic case molding for the original Macintosh underscores how Jobs tended not to think about marginal revenue and marginal cost when making decisions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It turns out Harry Hopkins didn't say it

After Mitt Romney's "gifts" comments, I couldn't help but remember that I thought FDR advisor and WPA director Harry Hopkins said "we shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect."  But it turns out this is likely apocryphal--indeed, Hopkins denied having said any such thing.

Here is a nice chronology from Bartleby:

AUTHOR:Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890–1946)
QUOTATION:We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect.
ATTRIBUTION:Attributed to HARRY L. HOPKINS, administrator of the Works Progress Administration.

  Although Frank R. Kent mentioned the subject of “spending, taxes, and election” in reference to Hopkins in his column, “The Great Game of Politics” (Baltimore, Maryland, Sun, September 25, 1938, pp. 1, 16) he first attributed “we are going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and elect and elect and elect” to Hopkins in the Sun, October 14, 1938, p. 15.

  Joseph Alsop and Robert Kintner in their column, “The Capital Parade” (Washington, D.C., Evening Star, November 9, 1938, p. A–11), elaborated Hopkins’s “probably apocryphal” words to: “Now, get this through your head. We’re going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and re-elect and re-elect and re-elect, until you’re dead or forgotten.”

  Arthur Krock, in his column, “In the Nation” (The New York Times,November 10, 1938, p. 26), reported the wording as “we will spend and spend, and tax and tax, and elect and elect.” He also repeated this wording in an article in The New York Times, November 13, 1938, sec. 4, p. E–3. A letter by Hopkins denying this attributed quotation and a response by Krock were published in The New York Times, November 24, 1938, p. 26.

  Over the years the quotation attributed to Hopkins has evolved into the wording above.

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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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Karen Chapple on the most reasonable way to create affordable housing

Housers need to listen to this:

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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Friday, November 16, 2012

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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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:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post.

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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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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The myth that taxes are too complicated for the typical American

I was listening to David Walker on the radio this morning, and he was going on about how tax preparation is too complicated for the vast majority of Americans.  This didn't seem right to me, so I went to the IRS SOI data Table 1.2 to see how many American's qualified for the 1040A return (a two-page form) or the 1040EZ return (a one page form).

The answer: of the 140 million tax returns filed in 2009, 90 million were filed by taxpayers that had adjusted gross income of less than $100,000 and that used the standard deduction.  These taxpayers qualify for using the 1040A or1040EZ.  So for more than 3/5 of US taxpayers, filing is not complicated at all.

Is the tax code too complicated for the other 50 million and for corporations?  Almost certainly.  But it is not a problem that afflicts the "vast majority" of Americans.

[update: according to this source, 32 percent of filers use 1040A or 1040EZ]

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.

Monday, November 12, 2012

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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