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She Folded…

It took a lot of convincing and persuading on my part to convince [stubborn] Sherri to allow me to frame my limited edition Dave Matthews Band concert prints and hang them in the den… At first, she was extremely hesitant but I didn’t give up and they are now displayed in the most trafficked area of the house.  See below.  Not so bad, eh?

She’s a good negotiator though…. a very good one.

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Helfpful Household Tips

I am sure we all have heard magic solutions from our grandma or some other wise person who knows old fashion remedies for getting out stains, warding off evil spirits or making food last.  Today a friend of mine sent me a bunch of easy household tips and I thought some of them were worth sharing with everyone.  I will test out a few and let you know if there is truth to these remedies of it is all fiction.

 

  1. Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick off the little ’stringy’ things.
  2. Take apart your bananas when you get home from the store.  Leaving them attached at the stem makes them ripen faster.
  3. Store open chunks of cheese in aluminum foil, not plastic wrap.  The cheese will stay fresh longer and not mold.
  4. Peppers with three bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.  Peppers with four bumps are firmer and better for cooking.
  5. Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground meat.  It will help ull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  6. To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add some milk, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese.
  7. Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light tast of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.
  8. Reheat leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet n top of the stove, set heat to medium-low and heat til warm.  This keeps the crust crispy. 
  9. Broken glass:  Use a wet cotton ball or q-tip to pick up small shards you can’t see.
  10. Place a dryer sheet in your pokcet to keep mosquitoes away.
  11. Reduce static cling on your skirt or pants by putting a small safety pin on the lining. 
  12. Use conditioner to shave your legs – cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your skin smooth and silky.

 

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Stay at Home Mom’s Work Valued at $117K

According to an article on CNN.com’s “Work at Home” section, a stay at home mom’s work is valued at just under $117K per year and a mom who juggles work and a career, her ‘at home’ work is valued at $68K annually.   The fact is mom’s have a lot on their plate and the work is not 9am-5pm, 8am-6pm or even 7am-7pm; it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It’s just a fact.  Not to say that Dad’s don’t have a lot to juggle too but in general, Mom’s more often than not, tend to do the lions share of the work.  Of course in some homes the Dad does a fair amount of work or they evenly split duties but according to various survey’s, results show Mom’s still edge out Dad’s in the ‘motherly duties’ department. 

In general, I think there is usually one person that handles more of the household duties regardless of whether or not you have kids.  One person tends to be more of a doer than the other but it is essential you find the proper balance between each other otherwise one person will feel they are doing everything.  In our house, I edge out Darren in the ‘duties’ department but that is because I choose to in many ways.  He does have his responsibilities and is always willing to help but usually I am the one doing the laundry, paying the bills, grocery shopping and tidying up.  His responsibilities include garbage and recycling duty, washing our cars, heavy lifting and that anything requires more than a few twists of a screw driver or the bang of a hammer.   Once the baby is born, we are going to have to share even more duties and our schedule is going to be even fuller but like all parents we will find the right balance. 

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Our House: One Year Later

One year ago today on April 13th Darren and I officially became home owners. It’s really hard to believe that a year has gone by already. Some days I feel like we just moved in but looking back I realize we’ve been through four seasons in our home. Our beginning months were super busy getting ourselves settled; buying furniture, painting, decorating and turning our house into a home took time but we enjoyed every minute of it. Over the past year, we’ve hosted numerous barbecues, hosted our first joint family Thanksgiving, had a smashing Super Bowl party, and held many dinner parties with friends and family. While there are days I miss city living and all the conveniences, I really love living in the suburbs. The peace and serenity of leaving the city is a welcome refresher especially now that warmer weather is arriving and we will be spending more time outdoors. Every day when we pull into the driveway I truly feel like I am home. This summer we are looking forward to more time at the pool, continuing to get to know our neighbors and adding a few new touches to our house. We are excited to see what year 2 in the Herman house brings…..

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A Lazy Sunday

It’s been a while since I blogged over here on HermanWeb so I thought what better day to say hi to everyone than a lazy Sunday? Well, over at the Herman household, it was anything but lazy.

After a great evening over at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, we had plans for my father (Edwin) to come over and help us re-do the cedar closet in our home. This was not a last minute decision however, as we had been planning this since the holidays when the Kepner’s gave us a very generous gift certificate to Home Depot to purchase the supplies. My father has a knack for building custom closets – not sure where he learned to do it, but he’s been fairly on par with closet building. Not only has he been building closets for the home we grew up in, but he’s even been known to help out a family friend or two. I’ve previously spent time building closets with him because we ALL know that Kenny isn’t much help around the house (sorry Kenny). Trivia question: what happened to all of the fine china my parents had from their wedding? Leave your answer in the comments section of this blog post.

Anyway, back on track. We ripped out the entire cedar closet and started essentially from scratch today. I estimate we started at 10:45am and we didn’t finish until 9:00PM this evening. The closet is a nice size, but what took the most time was fixing the cedar and measuring/cutting/installing the bars for where the clothes hangs. Sherri cooked up a wonderful feast this evening of meatloaf, peas, and potatoes which she knows is my favorite… and it came at a time when we needed a break from the grueling work.

We listened to a Dave Matthews Band concert on the iPod stereo, a little Status Quo (Matchstick), and ended with the Beatles (Love album). It was a great bonding time with dad- and Sherri’s been nursing the cuts and splinters that are in my hands as I type this.

For pictures of the day’s events, click here.

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Go Big Blue!!!

Yesterday, friends and family gathered at our house to watch the Giants take on the Patriots.  Unfortunately for me I was struck with food poisoning from the night before and never made it to my own party.  Darren held down the fort with help from our friends Ryan and Caroline and made the night a huge success.  We had a ton of food, way more than we needed but from what I heard, everything was delicious.  We ordered wedges and trays of baked ziti from Battaglia Brothers in Dobbs Ferry and they did an outstanding job. The game was fantastic.  I don’t think many people thought the Giants were going to beat the Patriots given their undefeated record but with the help of Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants, they pulled out an amazing victory.  The house erupted in loud cheer each time the Giants scored and I could hear the excitement all the way in our bedroom, two flights up.  I was really sorry to have missed the game and to mingle with all our guests.  Tomorrow will be the victory parade up the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan.  As a long time Giants fan, I couldn’t be more excited that they won!

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Countdown to Super Bowl

We are just a few days away from Super Bowl XLII and our big party.  We are really excited to have our friends and family over to watch the Giants vs. Patriots.  The hype around the day is not only about the actual game but about the commercials and half time show too.  Year after year we crowd around the tv to watch the great plays but we also tune in to see the latest and greatest multi-million dollar Pepsi or Budweiser ad.  Every year there tends to be one breakout commercial that everyone is talking about the next day.   The Times did a great rundown of the Top 25 Most Memorable SuperBowl Commercials.  Click here to see which ones made the list.   And by the way, sorry Darren, but Apple’s 1984 ad didn’t clinch the top spot. 

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J&R: Bargain Prices for Electronics

If you are in the market for a new TV, a digital camera, a DVD player or even a computer, check out J&R in downtown Manhattan or online.  Darren and I have been looking to add a new television to our home so we’ve been shopping around for the best deal on a high quality LCD television.  January is a great time to buy electronics since the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)  just ended and all the stores are anxious to move their current merchandise to make room for newer models that will be arriving in stores in the coming months.  If you don’t care about having the very latest in technology and are willing to go for the 2007 models, major deals are out there for the consumer and they are worth taking advantage of.  TV sales during the holiday season were not as robust as retailers would have hoped so there are deep discounts out there.  We found J&R to be the best in terms of pricing compared to Best Buy, Circuit City and other electronic stores.  Another plus to J&R is that if you are shipping out of the state of New York, you won’t pay sales tax.  Lucky for us though, we have a Jeep and were able to fit our purchase in the back so we didn’t have to pay for delivery.  J&R also makes it easy for people that come to buy because if you spend over $100 in merchandise, they validate your parking for up to 2 hours at a local garage right near the store. How great is that! This is the second time we bought from J&R and both times the sales people were very knowledgable and the selection was enormous.  They are also willing to negotiate and work with you to make a sale which made the trip into Manhattan worth it!  If you are in the market for electronics, I highly recommend giving them a try.

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Make a Budget and Stick to It

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post about what to do with your bonus check.  Being fiscally responsible is something that is very important to me as is preparing for the future while still enjoying the present.  Darren and I have big goals for the future and the only way we are going to achieve them is by being disciplined in how we spend and save our money.  I will be the first to admit living and working in Manhattan as a single successful woman, I had a lot of disposable income given my responsibilities were few and far between.  Darren also loves to tease me that I had it easy because for every date I went on the guy always paid.  I know, I was very fortunate and that isn’t the norm. 

Things change though when you get married and buy a house.  At one time we  only had ourselves to worry about but now we have each other, our home, our cars and some day a family to consider.   To be sure we are being smart about our spending, we recently sat down with our accountant to see if we were handling our finances correctly and sought some advice on the kind of investments we should be making.   I was really pleased to hear we were being smart about things and that made us both feel good.  

One of the key things our accountant commended us for was setting a budget and sticking to it.  We recently uploaded Quicken to my new iMac and transferred all our financial information into it.  We looked at our spending for 2007 and used that as our starting point for setting our 2008 budget.  It is really interesting to see where we spend our money and how much it costs to run our home.  Quicken allows us to track our income vs. expenses, our spending vs. our budget and a variety of other comparisons.  

In order to be sure we were saving money each month, we factored in a montly savings amount into our budget.  By doing this, we are guaranteed to set money aside each month for savings.  And, if after all our expenses are paid we still have some extra funds we can either add that to our savings as well or we can splurge a little for some extra special things.   We purposely built in some shopping and special spending into our budget so we don’t feel like we are depriving ourselves of luxuries but we are doing it in moderation and that is my recommendation to everyone.  

Make a budget and stick to it.  You will be happy you did.  My philospophy has always been to live and spend within your means, save some and spend some.  In the end, you can’t take it with you. 

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What to Do With Your Bonus

Most companies pay out bonuses around this time of the year, especially if you work in the financial services world.  As a result, many people are seeing (or are about to see)a surge in their bank account balance and they are trying to figure out what to do with their cash surplus before they end up blowing it on something extravagant and unnecessary.  I have always been a good saver but at the same time I have spoiled myself now and again with fabulous trips and great clothes.  Somehow though I managed to do something right along the way as I was able to save up enough money for a downpayment to purchase my own apartment back in 2000 and then in 2007 Darren and I bought our own home.

If you are looking for some advice on what to do with your bonus so you don’t spend all of it and have nothing to show for it down the road, here are some of my tips that have helped me build up some equity through the years. 

1.  First off, pay off any outstanding debt.  There is nothing worse than paying high interest rates on credit cards, notes or other owed balances.  Clear these up and live within your means.  Pay your credit card bills monthly and do not carry over balances.  If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it!

2.  If your company offers a 401K plan, contribute a portion of your bonus to it.  Many companies allow you to contribute up to 20% of your bonus before taxes.  This is a great way to save for the future.  These contributions add up over time.  The maximum contribution for 2008 is $15,500 but whatever you can contribute you should.  You can, and should contribute to a 401K or Roth IRA from your weekly paycheck too until you max out or contribute the amount you feel you can afford and still live within your means.  Even if you can only contribute 2-3% from your check, I recommend it.

3.  Build a savings cushion of three months of living expenses.  You should always have an ‘emergency’ fund to go to if you need it.  Life happens, and you may need to dip into this fund if something significant arises.  I’d suggest setting this ‘emergency’ fund up as a money market or short-term bond fund where the money is not as accessible as a regular savings account.  Also, interest rates are a little higher and the ability to make a withdrawal from these types of accounts require more effort than a regular savings account.

4.  Set a long-term goal for yourself.  Do you want to buy a house or apartment?  A car?  Take a great two vacation to an exotic location?   If so, start thinking about long term investments.  If your ‘emergency’ savings exceed what you need to live off for three months, put your excess cash in mutual funds, bonds or securities with a solid company that you intend to hold on to for a long period of time.  In 5, 10, 15 years the dividends on these kinds of investments pay off.

5.  Treat yourself every now and again to something special.  Whether it be a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, a full day at a luxury spa or that ‘must have’ bag you’ve had your eye on – its okay to splurge every once in awhile – just be sure you slurge within your means. 

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