Saturday, January 20, 2007

Can a home equity loan pay for a wedding?

So Jemifus and I have been evaluating different options to fund some of the wedding. We could always accept some aid from our parents, sell one of our cars, apply for a bunch of 0% credit cards or take out a Home Equity Loan. I used to be a loan officer and most my clients took out home equity loans to consolidate their high interest credit card balances and a smaller percentage used it for home renovations. The benefit was that my clients got a low interest rate and some tax deductions. It's a pretty good deal if you have equity in your home. I would just advise you to make sure you evaluate all the costs that go with taking out a home equity loan to see if it financially is beneficial versus your other options. It's definitely something we are considering to fund the wedding, but we may wait and take out a heloc (the acronym for those in the know) to finally put in those hardwood floors that we've been talking about for 3 years. However now that we've spent 2 weeks installing a two hundred pound weightlifiting system in the guest room, we aren't that motivated to do anything that requires removing items out of our place. Because that makes sense right? We're too lazy to move around things to improve our home, but we'll spend all day standing in place lifting a heavy metal bar.

This post is sponsored by Personal Home Mortgages.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A bit depressing...

At the time, I felt quite superior and justified making fun of the owner of this car. I, mean, seriously who does this? The car was filled with stuffed animals. They were coming down from the rearview mirror, hanging off the sides of the windows and littered to the brim on the back window! And it looked like the kind of plush that you win at carnivals or those jumbo-claw vending machine things. Anyway, my cousin also thought it was noteworthy and therefore took pics. I am always fortunate to have her in my life as she always carries her camera with her.

Anyway in retrospect, I'm kind of depressed because this car was in the same parking lot as my car on New Year's Eve, which means we were both doing the same thing on New Year's Eve, ergo we are both pathetic...? I'm not even going to tell you where we were because it was practically the same place we were last year too!

I hope my cousin doesn't get offended when she reads this. I'm sure she won't b/c like me, she has high self-esteem and realizes that even though we didn't have the most exciting New Year's this time, we are still uber cool peeps.

Proud Member of Audubon Society

Some of you may not know this about me, but I have been a member of the Audubon Society for many, many years now. As an avid bird watcher, I must have high-quality binoculars that are optimized for spotting that rare ivory-billed woodpecker, even rumored to be extinct! So naturally my binocular supplier of choice is Eagle Optics. They have the best selection at the right prices. Not only do they have the products I need, but they deliver outstanding customer service. And if you've read my previous post, you'll know I highly value good service. They'll even finance your larger orders (anything over $200). And don't forget to check out the Hot Deals page on their site!

This post is sponsored by

There's a reason why DIY rhymes with die...

Okay so I know that's a little about DIY rhymes with cry? If you don't know what DIY stands for, consider yourself extremely fortunate. I have been entrenched in the world of Do It Yourself for the last couple of weeks and on more than one occasion, I was either praying (and I'm not even that religious) to be transported to outerspace or holding back my tears.

The jury is out on whether buying my own bargain invitations was a good idea but the instructions on the box did imply that printing them at home would be easy as 1-2-3! After 5 hours of Jemifus, the tech wiz, trying to get it to work on our printer, we had to bug our nearby friends for use of their computer and printer. Getting it to print the right size was a snap but we didn't anticipate it taking a long time to figure out the wording and font. Btw, MACs rock - they have the best font selection ever! But then we still had to actually print all 125 of these babies. It turns out that our friends' printer wasn't grabbing the invitation due to the card stock, so we had to manually insert each invitation. Also the invitation kept getting dirty at the top, so my brilliant marketing/engineering friend came up with a snappy solution that required applying a small post-it to each invitation where the dirty spot was happening. And then we had to periodically give the printer a "cleansing" cuz the invitations would get smudged after about 20 run throughs. Are you just dying right now reading all these mind-numbing details? It took 4 people and about 12 manpower hours. And I still gotta tie the ribbon, print the RSVP cards and envelopes and assemble the whole kit and caboodle for mailing.

You see, DIY should rhyme with die!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Family: You can never get away from them!

And for some of you, that's a bad thing but for most of you, family is the reason for being. Most of my friends have followed the baby-making trend of the last couple of years and Jemifus has always been interested in his family lineage. So that got me thinking, is developing a family tree difficult? For me, for sure because I share a last name with about a gazillion folks. Well, I guess it wouldn't be diffcult, but my tree would be very large, like those crazy Hawaiian banyan trees. I did find a cool online site, ZOOOF, The Family Network, that makes family tree building pretty easy. And it has features that make it wiki-tastic! My geeky Jemifus is all over it. It's in beta right now going live Feb 14th, but if you want to to give it a try before that, you can email your name, e-mail address, country and gender to and they will send you a personal invitation.

This post is sponsored by

Baby-Talking Men

Is it ever appropriate? I was reminded of this yesterday when I bumped into A and thought it'd be funny to say "Sorry" in baby-talk in front of my cousin as one of her co-workers who is madly in love with her would baby-talk to her. I'm not sure if he did it verbally or only through instant message. I almost think via IM is worse e.g. "I'm sawwie :)" Yes happy face included!

And is it really appropriate for men to use happy faces in their emails and text messages? Sure once in a while is understandable. But continuously? Again another one of my cousin's admirers is a big-time smiley face offender. He uses it more than I use the ellipsis! ... :) ...

A Friendly PSA: Online Coupons

Before you hit that "Buy Now" button, remember to check to see if there are any promotion codes because there is a good chance there will be. For example, as usual I was shopping for wedding stuff and found some great invitations on that were a bargain. But I'm not in it for just a bargain, I must find the best bargain! So I did a quick google search for any coupon codes and found this Target discount: 10% off your purchase, no minimum. How great is that?! You can find online coupons for all kinds of merchants just by visiting the sites that keep track. Happy Shopping!

This post is sponsored by Coupon Chief.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Would you like some Gatorade with your 'Gator steak?

Reading this article about Ohio markets stocking up on alligator meat brings back fond memories of my 2004 New Orleans trip.

I was dining at, Jacques-Imo's, a favorite among locals for authentic Creole cuisine. The group I was with ordered Shrimp & Alligator Cheesecake. Naturally me being the out-of-towner was offered the first slice. It was one of those quick game-time decisions: do I offend my gracious hosts and say no way Jose? So as the wheels are quickly spinning in my head, I remember when I perused the menu, I also saw that they had Godzilla Pie so logically I figured since the Godzilla pie couldn't possibly really have gorilla in it, then there most certainly wouldn't be real alligator in the cheesecake.

Jemifus, formerly known as A, did not accompany me on this trip so of course I told him all about this experience when I got back and he, as usual, started laughing. For some reason, everytime I tell him a serious story, about 80% of the time it results in him laughing...or more like smirking! There are more details to this but due to laziness, I will spare you. (Maybe Jemifus will kindly leave a comment to this post and tell you about the Godzilla article he left in my organizer or the conversation he had with my cousin who also vouched for me that Godzilla was absolutely a gorilla...hint hint)

Anyway, it turns out that Godzilla is not a gorilla!!! AND that I ate REAL alligator! Why the heck is his name Godzilla then? That is really misleading. I will add this to my list of Festivus grievances.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Festivus Grievance: Selfish Parkers

I can't tell you how much bad parking makes my blood boil. I live in a 30+ unit condo building with only 3 guest parking spots. These spots are highly valuable because as I mentioned in a previous post, Pasadena does not allow cars to park on the street from 2-6am! Well, you can but you need to either have a permit. But in order to get a permit, you have to provide evidence that your place of residence doesn't provide enough parking spaces, which is ridiculous. Or you have to call a hotline to leave a message for a temporary overnight exemption, which you can only do 6 times a year. Anyone with a mild social life will reach this 6 night quota quite quickly so that leaves you to duke it out with the rest of your neighbors for the 3 guest spots. So it really bothers me when a jerko will take up 2 spots with their bad parking job. There are times when I've seen cars park diagonally to take up 2 spots. Who does that?!

I am proud to say I think I've single-handedly resolved this problem at my complex. I leave polite but strong notes on these jerko cars regarding their selfishness. It seems to have worked! So I suppose I really don't have a Festivus Grievance after all. Life can be good sometimes.

Excellent Customer Service: Pier 1 Imports in Pasadena

One of my biggest pet peeves is bad service. I find it so offensive, especially at big retail establishments. So I am delighted to be blogging about one of the greatest customer service experiences that I have ever had, about 2 weeks ago at the Pier 1 Imports on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. As some of you may know, I am looking for every way possible to keep the wedding budget in check. So when I learned that A gets a great deal on Pier 1 giftcards through his Discover Cashback Card, I went searching for wedding decor there. I found these awesome gold mosaic hurricanes. The catch was they were on promotion and a seasonal item that would not be replenished. So time was of the essence. A wasn't going to be able to get the giftcards for a couple of weeks and I had to buy the hurricanes before that in order to get all the hurricanes needed to outfit each table. Sean, the assistant store manager at the Pasadena Pier 1, was so awesome. He was so patient and understanding when I came in with all my receipts from driving to every possible Pier 1 in LA to get the 25 hurricanes and asked him to credit my credit cards and re-purchase them with the giftcards. It took forever to do but Sean was super nice the whole time and I guarantee that I will be back buying unnecessary things like overpriced giftwrap and candles just because Sean gave some outstanding service. Should you need some home accents, I hope all you Pasadena residents will show your support also.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wedding Shoes

In about a month, I need to start my quest for wedding shoes. The two criteria are mega-height and as-comfy-as-possible. I suppose I'll throw a third criteria in there for my fiancee's benefit - affordable. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to look? My maid-of-honor has come through again with a very unique idea - stripper shoes. Her rationale is that since strippers are on their feet all day, their heels must be comfortable. And even if you've never been to a strip club, I'm sure you can guess that strippers wear very high heels. If noone else throws out other ideas, look for my plastic clear stilettos come April 14th!

Movie Review: The Queen

The Queen is a really interesting look into how the monarchy reacted to Princess Diana's death. And there's also some cool insight into how tough Queen Elizabeth II is. But that's basically all the movie is about - don't expect a lot more. If you don't know much about how the Prime Minister and the Queen interact with each other and/or want another interpretation on the reaction/response to Princess Diana's death, this is the movie for you.

I can't say I'd recommend this movie over others currently out in theaters right now. If you are debating between this and something like We Are Marshall or The Pursuit of Happyness, this is definitely one that you could wait for the DVD release. We're still within the Holiday window so go for the uplifting movie!

Movie Review: We Are Marshall

This was the perfect movie to lead up to the college football filled viewing day that I just had. All the teams that I was rooting for lost - Arkansas Razorback, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Tennesse Volunteers. But if you read my Rose Bowl post below, you know my day ended up pretty swell.

We Are Marshall is a solid feel-good movie. I almost always like inspirational sports movies based on true events and this movie fits that bill. It wasn't as good as Miracle, but Disney really excels in these kind of feel-good movies so not really fair of me to compare. However it was absolutely better than the more recent release, Glory Road. I highly recommend it - you'll pick up some really good metaphors by Matthew McConaughey's characterization of Jack Lengyel.

Book Review: Prep by Curtis Sittenfield

I haven't read a book completely in a long time. I have a bad habit of starting books and losing interest about halfway through - Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Blink by Malcom Gladwell...the list goes on. So I surprised myself that I finished Prep. It's the kind of light popcorn book that makes me embarrassed to read it in public and also a little uncomfortable to admit on a blog that I finished in 3 weeks (a record for me). But there was something really appealing about it...I think the whole teen angst thing was spot on and I could really identify with the main character, another embarrassing admission. I'm now pumped to give Catcher in the Rye a shot, but I have a feeling it'll suffer the same consquences as all the other "quality" books that I've attempted to read oh so many times.

Rose Bowl - Granddaddy of them all

Oh yeah! I won't go into specifics, but my game day rituals proved to be helpful in 'SC's victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl game today. I can't tell you how elated I am. My only regret is that Lloyd Carr will now face mad scrutiny and he seems like such a classy man that I hope everything works out okay for him.

On a side note, I am so happy that Pasadena is the old-school, traditional city that it is. Something that I normally would not like, the resistance to change, is something I actually really appreciate about the city of Pasadena...well except for this weird law that you can't park anywhere in Pasadena from 2-6am. But in general, I love that Pasadena always says no to things like the NFL, freeways going through Pasadena and now another thing to add to my list: that the Rose Bowl committee does not let the sponsor take over the name of the Rose Bowl game. I like that it's still the Rose Bowl and not the Citi Rose Bowl. I find it utterly disgusting that all the other bowls have caved...Nokia Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, you get the picture. Go Pasadena!