Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine Ideas (DIY Door Mat)

If you're in the mood for a quick and easy Valentine decor idea, how about creating a loving message at your front door?  I was originally looking for a plain mat that I could paint a big red heart on, but when I found this "key" mat at Target, I figured I could add a sweet message instead.

I'm not sure how practical this mat will be as far as the paint lasting once dirty shoes are scraped against it, but it's sure cute for now!

I die over this adorable shabby chic wagon from Hobby Lobby.  The pink and purple faux flowers are also from Hobby Lobby. 

To apply the text, I used a stiff paint brush and leftover Urbane Bronze paint from my kitchen cabinets.  I dabbed the letters on as opposed to swiping.  The heart was created with the same brush and pink craft paint.  This project took a total of about 10 minutes. 

The best part was painting with my little guy.  Of course when he saw me painting he wanted to join in.  I wish I could bottle this age!

Didn't his picture turn out cool?

Can you believe it's February tomorrow? 

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Does Modigliani-Miller apply to countries?

If it does, the capital structure of the US is just fine.  Current GDP is 15.8 trillion.  Let's apply a  real discount rate of 4 percent (which is probably high, given that the yield on 10-years TIP is negative), and assume a real long-term growth of 2 percent (which is likely low).  This means the country is worth about $316 trillion (this figure includes human capital as well as asset values).

Total debt outstanding in the US, public and private, is $55 trillion.  So we are about 17 percent debt funded, which means we are about 83 percent equity funded.  This should be OK.  What I am missing here?

(note: it was Matthew Yglesias' Slate piece today that got me thinking along these lines).


Steve Oliner shows that it takes too damn long to build things in California

The set-up:

Recent research, which I conducted with Jonathan Millar of the Federal Reserve Board and Daniel Sichel of Wellesley College..... presents the first comprehensive estimates of planning times for commercial construction projects across the United States. We analyze roughly 82,000 projects nationwide for which planning was initiated  between 1999 and 2010, using data obtained from CBRE Econometric Advisors/Dodge Pipeline. The projects in the dataset include office buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and hotels. About 95 percent of these projects involve the construction of a new building; the remainder are additions or alterations to an existing building or conversions to a new use.
They find that average planning time in the US for a commercial building is 17 months.   But the longest planning times are in California and the Northeast.  Planning times in some California MSAs are about a year longer than the national average.  This makes California's economy less nimble than others.

This is not about whether or not there should be strong rules to protect the environment--California needs such rules.  This is about making rules straightforward and predictable, and allowing economic agents to behave quickly within the rules.  My hypothesis is that it is California's clumsy implementation of planning, more than anything else, that puts it at a needless disadvantage relative to Texas.

It's the G.

After I saw the weak 4th quarter GDP number reported this morning, I went to the National Income and Products Accounts website, where I found that in the 4th quarter, government expenditures and investment has declined by 6.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate and that defense spending had dropped 22.2 percent, again, on a SAAR.

Can this possibly be correct?  I am wondering if there is some anomaly in the data.

Stella & Dot Style

You might say I'm a bit obsessed with my new Stella & Dot accessories.   Over the weekend, I had some fun incorporating the jewelry into my everyday wardrobe.  On Saturday, I dressed up a plain grey Target 3/4 tee-shirt with a few Stella & Dot pieces.  

Zoe Lariat Necklace (S&D) (This necklace is cool because it's one long chain you can wear different ways)

Gilded Arrow Bracelet (S&D) (it bends to fit different sized wrists)

Renegade Cluster bracelet (S&D) - Love this feisty piece- it's stretchy and comes in  GOLD too!

And Sunday church and brunch looked like this:

I like how my less-than-$10 Target tanks and tees can be made to look a little more special by adding the Stella & Dot accessories.  You don't need a new outfit, just some different jewelry to make your closet staples more attractive.  

I don't play favorites, but this Interlock Cross Necklace (S&D) could be an everyday staple, layered with my favorite "J" initial necklace that I found at a boutique in Austin.  

How are you dressing up your inexpensive tanks and tees?  Are you smitten with any of the Stella & Dot pieces?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine's Cards via Martha Stewart Craft Studio App

I might still be a third grade schoolgirl the way I can't get enough of creating Valentine cards with this cool app from Martha Stewart (Craft Studio).  The app was featured in Ms. Martha's magazine and I downloaded it later that day.  I made all of these Valentine's cards in about an hour (okay, I was playing with this app for most of Sunday afternoon last weekend while my son napped).  Here are a few . . .

The app is super easy to use and comes with all kinds of fonts and graphics.  Have you played with it yet?  

This app is cool, but I still most treasure a hand-written note.  You too? 

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Organized Drawers

When you've got a whole room -- or entire house -- that needs organizing, sometimes it's easier to break the task into smaller, more doable projects.  Instead of trying to get the bathroom completely organized, just start with the medicine cabinet or the linen closet.  Similarly, you could tackle one drawer in your home or one small area.

We've got portions of our house that are "semi-organized" but still need help.  I consider the semi-organized area to be, for example, a drawer where most of what belongs there is contained there, but in a not-so-organized way.  Case in point, a drawer in our wet bar.

We've got bar/kitchen items (margarita salt, our wine bottle opener, beverage napkins, napkin rings, shot glasses and my gold silverware) in there, but they are all piled in randomly.  I took everything out and sorted it into categories. 

My organization solution was the expandable plastic storage divider ($17 from The Container Store).  It's important to measure your drawer before going out and purchasing new organization items.  Lucky for me, the length of this one fit the drawer perfectly.  (I could have found a prettier divider or lined the bottom of this one with pretty paper or painted it, but for now, I just wanted a quick solution). 

If you are starting small don't worry about prettying up your organizational things for now, just get the "stuff" organized first. 

Ah, so much better!

BUT, not everything that was in the drawer previously belonged there, so when I was done, I was left with some miscellaneous items.  We've got cords to who-knows-what, party favors, take out menus, etc. 

These "left over" items are inevitable in most organization projects and can end up preventing you from tackling the chore in the first place.  

Let's face it- it's great to have one drawer organized, but then you have another pile of stuff to organize!  Of course, it helps to have other areas in your home where those things go, and then you simply but them there.  If not, you have to CREATE a home for those things.  Does that happen when you start organizing things too? 

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

An update of my tinker-toy model of housing starts and GDP

We had pretty robust growth in housing starts in December:

A few months ago, I suggested that we could have second quarter GDP growth of 2.9 percent.  I am now revising that to greater than 3 percent growth (the point estimate is 3.2 percent).  We'll see how things turn out....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I didn't think Phil Mickelson's Tax Rate Could be > 60 percent

From the Tax Foundation:

Mickelson lives outside of San Diego so he is subject to one of the highest tax rates in the country, but it doesn’t appear to be quite that high.  Gerald Prante and Austin John total up all the top tax rates on wage income in the 50 states and they do find California has the highest at 51.9 percent:

"For example, the 51.9% top METR [marginal effective tax rate] for wage income in California for 2013 under the Fiscal Cliff scenario is equal to the 39.6% federal income tax rate plus the new 13.3% top state income tax rate in California minus the deductibility of state taxes against one’s federal taxes (5.27%) plus the marginal tax rate effect of Pease returning (1.18%) plus the current 1.45% Medicare employee tax plus the new 0.9% tax on Medicare plus the current 1.45% Medicare employer tax which we assume is borne by workers in the form of reduced after-tax wages. The sum of these tax rates, which equals 52.6%, is then divided by 1.0145 (1 + Medicare employer tax) because by assuming that the incidence of the Medicare employer tax is borne by workers, we must add back the employer contribution to the worker’s income. The final METR figure is thereby 51.9%."

It’s not clear how Mickelson is getting to 62 percent, since there is no other income tax at the local level in or around San Diego. 

GIVEAWAY // $100 Stella & Dot

My wonderful and feisty "Sista" (sis-n-law) just became a Stella & Dot stylist and invited me to become one too.  I have always been smitten with Stella & Dot's gorgeous and fun line of jewelry and accessories, so I decided to join her.  It was serendipitous how the opportunity fell into my lap, so I'm going for it!

I'm actually really excited about this since I attended a Stella & Dot meeting and was totally blown away by their awesome team and business model. (To start, stylists earn 25-30% commission on their sales).  This could have been a boring or cheesy event, but it was authentic and energizing!  I'm so happy to partner with the Stella & Dot team.  And, of course, I'm loving their new Spring line . . .  a few of my favorite pieces are below.

If you are in the Houston area and would like to host a trunk show with me at your place, please email me at  The events last two hours and the hostesses receive free jewelry:)  

Or, if you are interested in becoming a stylist (you don't have to be in Houston), let me know and I'll get you hooked up on my team. Here's to new adventures!  

To celebrate my new business, I'm giving away a $100 credit to Stella & Dot!

To enter the giveaway, please visit my Stella & Dot website and leave a comment letting me know what piece is your favorite.  I want to see what y'all like. For extra entries, Tweet or Facebook about the giveaway. 

Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The winner will be chosen at random and announced on February 7, 2013.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3 Ways to Style a Parsons Desk (via The Everygirl)

Are y'all reading The Everygirl?  I adore the online publication and am a big fan of Danielle and Alaina.  I especially liked their recent article about how to style a West Elm Parsons desk.  They do it up three ways and then give you the break down and even links to where to purchase the products.  Cool huh?  I have a similar desk in my home office so I really liked seeing how they made it look different by varying the color scheme and accessories.

Which one do you like best? I think I like the first one "Pink & Gold" the most, but they all appeal to me.  The images are all via The Everygirl.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do higher marginal tax rates lead superstar athletes to play less often?

Let's think, for a moment, about why people want more money:

(1) To buy stuff.

(2) To keep score.

(3) To accumulate power.

Perhaps there are others, but these seem to me to be the big three.

OK, so there seem to be two kinds of athletes in the world (with respect to consumption):

(I) Those with entourages.
(II) Those without entourages.

It takes an entourage for superstar athletes to spend all the money they make--it would otherwise be hard to spend an eight figure money quickly enough (people can even afford private jets at those incomes).

So let's think about those with entourages.  If their taxes go up, they will actually have to work harder to keep their entourages.  That should mean they play more, not less.

For those without entourages, the marginal utility of consumption must be zero--this is the implication of not being able to spend all your money.  So their incentives must arise from reasons (2) and (3).

Scorekeeping is independent of taxes.  If an athlete wants to say he/she has the most winnings, they will have an incentive to play more games.

That leaves power.  Higher marginal taxes reduce the ability of high income people to accumulate power, which may mean they work/play less.  I don't know that this is entirely a bad thing. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

DIY // Inspiration/Memo Board

Slowly but surely I've been updating my home office and one of the latest touches was to create an inspiration/memo board.  I'm still rummaging through old magazines for images that inspire, but the board is ready and looks good all on it's own thanks to this snappy black and white polka dot fabric I found at High Fashion Home.

You might recall this fabric as the "tablecloth" for the Pottery Barn mystery box challenge I participated in last year.  I like to use what's on hand and this pattern works perfectly in my office. 

To make the board, I covered a cork board with the fabric and stapled it taut with a staple gun. 

I folded the corners like I was wrapping a present. 

Then I added nailhead trim around the edge for a decorative detail. 

You can read about my fabric-wrapped books HERE.  And thanks for the sweet little birdie friend!

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Thank you all so much for entering the Lulu & Georgia giveaway and thank you Lulu & Georgia for the generous giveaway!  

The winner is:

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And, I figured out how to put a Facebook Like Box on my blog by reading THIS 3-step tutorial:

I need to be better about updating the HWH Facebook page.  

Are you active on Facebook? 

You guys know I love Pinterest and Instagram (@honeywerehome), but FB and Twitter haven't really gotten my attention as much.  I think there's only so much social media I can actively participate in at one time.  I like how FB helps reconnect you to old high school friends though- it's fun to get caught up and see what's going on.  

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Happy Martin Luther King day!  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Morris Davis gives a talk where he shows that fewer American homeowners think they are underwater than actually are

Morris--along with Erwan Quintin--calculates median house prices by MSA using the American Community Survey from 2006-2010.  Because the ACS samples all houses, the change in price from year to year is largely not biased by the change in composition of the housing stock (the only change comes via new construction and home improvements--and the US had little of either from 2008-2010).  As such, the calculation, which is based on what people think their house is worth, is in some ways superior to house price indexes, which inevitably suffer from composition bias, even when their designers make admirable efforts to mitigate such bias.

In his talk, Morris showed that people thought the value of their houses went down substantially less than Case-Shiller implies.  Where Case-Shiller or people are right is not particularly important to mortgage performance, because people will not default if they think their house is worth more than their house.  Those who are forced to move for economic reasons might find themselves unpleasantly surprised, and may wind up selling (now) through a short-sale.  But it is possible that the reason many underwater borrowers are not walking away is that they think they are not under water.

Friday, January 18, 2013

City of New Orleans

In one of those lovely, serendipitous moments in life, I was flying over the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans while reading Tom Fitzmorris's Hungrytown.  The city, alit at night, on the south bank of a black Lake Pontchartrain, looked beautiful, and the Fitzmorris book made me hungry as it relayed the history of the city's unique cuisine.

In the wake of Katrina, Ed Glaeser was pointed in his evaluation of New Orleans as an economic entity.

The 2000 Census reported that more than 27 percent of New Orleans residents
were in poverty (relative to 12 percent for the U.S. as a whole). Median family
income was only 64 percent of the median family income in the U.S.

In 2004, according to the American Community Survey, the unemployment rate
for the city was over 11 percent. And New Orleans’ housing prices, prehurricane,
remained far below those of the nation as a whole, providing further
evidence of weak pre-existing demand for living in the city.

By most objective measures, the city, pre-hurricane, was not doing a good job of
taking care of its poorer residents. For most students of urban distress, New
Orleans was a problem, not an ideal. Poverty and continuing economic decline
fed upon each other, delivering despair to many of the city’s residents.
In light of all this, Ed argued that providing cash to residents of New Orleans might be superior economic policy to rebuilding New Orleans.

Were he talking about any other city, I think Ed would almost certainly be right.  But somehow, it seems to me, if we were to have lost New Orleans, we as a country would have lost something beyond an economic agglomeration.  Its continuing contributions to American culture--through food and music both--have provided a positive externality to the remainder of the country that it has not been able to internalize through revenue, and the country owes it something for that.  Perhaps the cost of losing these contributions would have been less than the cost of rebuilding, but I am skeptical.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Get Wavy Curls

I see all these gorgeous women with beautiful wavy hair, but didn't really know how to do it for myself.    On Pinterest  I recently found a how-to hair tutorial for wavy curls (from Cara Loren) and tried it out on my hair.  After I shared a pic on Instagram, some people asked for the video, which is here (click the picture of Cara to see her how-to tutorial).  Isn't she cute?!

Here's how the wavy curls looked on my hair.  It's different from how I normally do it, but I like it, although it took me longer than I usually spend.  I think I'm one of the last people to curl my hair this way (wrapping it around the curing iron instead of under the clamp).  I need to get with it!  

Do you do your hair this way?  How long do you spend on your hair? What about shampooing?  I'm in the wash/blowdry almost everyday category because I feel like I need to after working out.  Cara says she goes about 5 days between washing!

If you are on Pinterest, please leave your Pinterest name in the comments.  I want to check out some new peeps!  I also created a new Pinterest board, "So Funny" if you want to follow. 

To follow me on Pinterest, click the icon below

To follow my Blog, click the Follow button below

*Update- I'm working my way through the comments to follow your Pinterest boards too.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Valentine's Day Craft // Paper Straw & Washi Tape Arrows

Please tell me it's not too early to post a Valentine's Day craft project.  Paper straws, a heart-shaped craft punch, and patterned washi tape makes me a happy girl.  It might also mean I belong back in third grade:)  Being completely inspired by this DIY arrow that I originally found on Pinterest, I created my own arrow.

They are cute to look at . . . 

but more fun to play with!  

Is anyone else thinking Valentine's Day already?  I don't typically make a big deal of the holiday, but like to acknowledge it in small ways.  This year, I have some fun stuff in the works for my son (and his class).  Show you soon!

To see more Valentine's crafts, check out my glittery heart magnets and heart garland.  

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