Monday, 30 August 2010

Baby Shower



Over the weekend, my sister, Kate and I hosted a baby shower for our other sister Anne Hunter. I was really rushed to get everything together so I didn't get a ton of pictures. See below for one of the table. I got lilies and put them in glass baby bottles from Babies R Us.



Our menu...
Krispy Kreme doughnuts (requested by the preggo)
Dales Black Bottom cupcakes
Sugar Cookies in the shape of baby carriages
Cucumber Sandwiches
Pretzel crisps topped with tomato, mozzarella & basil
Chicken Salad Cups

Cucumber Sandwiches
Peel and cut cucumber into thin slices. Cut white bread into the shape of circles, cover with mayonnaise, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, top with cucumber. Very easy!

Real Estate Rollercoaster

The words BARGAIN PRICE - OWNERS MUST SELL!! don't inspire confidence someone is having a good time in the real estate theme park. You're half way down the big dipper, when that pasty white kid four rows ahead loses his lunch. You just know you've done your dough when the vomit smacks you square in the face.

Cleaning off after such a ignominious end is someone's experience in Turners Beach right now. Turners Beach is one of those lifestyle areas, where real estate agents can lay it on real thick. Close enough to the job, but far enough away to.... well I can't keep a straight face to even write such crap. Let's just say the lust, the fear and the pressure gets the better of people.

It's why someone plonked down $346,500 for this 4x2 'home in a dream location'.


Now that was 2-1/2 years ago. Imagine the capital growth so close to the beach, to not just live a life, but to live the lifestyle you deserve... 150k? Lower; 100k? Lower; 50k? Lower; 25k? Lower; 10k? Lower. Ok surely you're covering closing costs? Well I hope Turners Beach has a surf live saving club because someone's underwater. Previous sale to current asking price - $2500 higher.

Yep, right now the asking price is $349,000. Four months ago they were asking $375,000. You note how we're still above that psychological barrier - forget closing costs, in your head you haven't lost money until your sell figure is lower than what you paid.

How does one extract themselves from this situation? Marketing a house in this situation is very easy - lower the price.

Down and down she goes, where does it stop? Nobody knows.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A quick intro

If you want to see the dangers of overpaying for real estate, you've come to the right place and you've definitely come to the right place if you're a Tasmanian.

You're in the market for a house, but you're looking to set yourself apart. You can taste the newly acquired status, showing off to friends, proudly telling co-workers where you've just bought. It's a seductive mix, but stop and think when that real estate agent whispers in your ear, trying to press your real estate arousal buttons:

- open plan, alfresco dining;
- can't go wrong with property;
- granite counter tops;
- get in now before you miss out forever;
- property only goes up

*Cough* what?

Sure, thanks to a massive credit expansion over the last 10 years there's been some amazing gains in property, but how long can that continue? Because those who bought in the past two years - the last ones to the party - have really gotten ahead of themselves -  that 500k house on the North-West coast makes good sense, because property always goes up, right?  And if you've gotta get moving, or interest rates go up, you can list and some fool will pay more than you did.

Unless you are that fool.

Right now we're seeing the problems of over-capitalisation and paying over the odds in regional Tasmania. Some people are seeing their dream slowly turn to a nightmare, if only they'd questioned the dogma - if only they'd had an alternative view to listen to.

You can't go wrong with real estate? Well take a look at the coastal town of Wynyard.

Wynyard is a nice enough place - it's flat and has an airport escape route, even more appropriately in the spirit of bubbles - it has a tulip festival, but exactly how many 400k plus houses does a population of 5000 need?



$445,500 is current asking price for this 4x2. So let's see what the agent has to say:
This generous serving of quality is found in a quiet cul-de-sac in Wynyard and is just a short walk to town and beautiful walking tracks of the Inglis River.
There is room for the whole family with 3 bedrooms and spacious living downstairs plus parents retreat (or 2nd living) & master bedroom upstairs.
The exceptional kitchen boasts fabulous granite bench tops & the dining area leads out to the private 1512m2 double block.
Properties like this rarely become available, so be quick!
Well not quite true, you could have taken a shot at this property when it was on the market in 2008. And the going price? Someone slapped down an eye-watering $450,000. Two years on and this anchor has weighed down the owners for over six months as it failed to attract a bite, even with a discount from the initial $460,000 listing price.

That $460,000 listing is a significant figure in this case. Psychologically it's the belief the owners can get back more than they paid, at least on the purchase and the sale. When you factor in closing costs, that purchase was closer to $470,000, but to maintain the veneer of not losing money, you can always forget stamp duty.

If this house does sell at $445k (and believe me it won't), throw in agent fees and the seller isn't just taking a haircut, they're taking a buzz cut.

It gives me no pleasure to report this sad tale, but it illustrates the danger of paying big money for an illiquid asset, especially in a regional market. At this point I'll highlight that Wynyard currently has 41 properties for sale over $400,000.

They ain't changing hands any time soon. Now god forbid the real estate agent be the one to break the news, no one is stepping to the crease at those prices any more.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Caesar Salad Simplified

I have been meaning to post this Caesar salad recipe for a while now. It is a pass down from my mom and we serve it with grilled chicken and I have actually made homemade croutons.

Caesar Salad Simplified

2 quarts of greens, torn in manageable pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cut clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
plenty of fresh ground pepper
2 dollops of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible
1 cup croutons

This is properly made with romaine, but any combination of greens may be used. Ahead of time, measure the olive oil and put in the cut clove of garlic. Let sit for 30 or more minutes. Note...remove the garlic clove before pouring oil onto the greens.

Put the greens in a large bowl, grind plenty of pepper over them, sprinkle on salt, and the garlic flavored oil. Put the dollops of mayonnaise in the middle of the greens, pour the vinegar over the mayonnaise, sprinkle the cheese over the entire salad and toss gently until everything is evenly distributed. Last, scatter croutons over the top and toss once more. Transfer to a clean, chilled bowl and serve at once. Serves 4.

How to Make Croutons

Remove crusts from slices of bread and cut in small cubes. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil for each slice of bread. Heat oil with cut clove of garlic in skillet. When hot toss in the bread cubes. Shake the pan until they begin to brown, then lower the heat to allow them to crisp without burning. Shake the pan or stir with a fork now and then. This takes about 10 minutes in all. 2.5 slices of bread makes 1 cup of croutons.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Living Room...more updates

I feel like my living room has come pretty far from this...


to this...


My grandmother just moved to a retirement community and I acquired this new chest. The mirror I had stored in my attic and I love it...not sure why it was up there.



Here are some more pictures of the room...next project...the dining room.





Monday, 23 August 2010

Menu Planner


We had a great time at the beach last week. Here is a family photo attempt. Camille has to take a family photo to school and this one will have to do.

We have a lot going on in the evenings this week so we are doing quick and easy meals.

Monday - Summer Corn and White Bean Soup (Recommendation from Ada at Spark!)
Tuesday - PF Changs frozen meal
Wednesday - Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu, Risotto, Green Beans
Thursday - Wine Club
Friday - Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad and Bread

Thursday, 19 August 2010

$25 for $50 worth of GAP apparel


Back to school is right around the corner. There is a great Groupon today. Get $50 worth of Gap Apparel for $25. After reading September's Lucky and seeing an ad for Gap's black pant colllection, I have my eye on the Perfect Trouser or the Really Skinny. Or you can always find a good pair of jeans there. Click here to take advantage of this deal.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fish Tacos

We are having a great time at the beach this week. Today, we were the typical vacationers and took our kids to Chuck E Cheese. They had fun...we ate pizza and played games. Camille won a plastic ring, two lollipops and some stickers. She was thrilled.

This afternoon in between thunderstorms, I took the kids to TJMaxx and found some Levis for $9.99 and two Ralph Lauren polo for $12.99 each...all for Clyde. I am dying to go back because I didn't have time to check out anything for myself.

Tonight, Michael and I made fish tacos....delicious. I highly recommend. Check out the recipe here. We added Pico De Gallo as a topping.

Layton Grier Photography






I have been thinking recently of trying to get some family photos taken...Clyde is 15 months now and Camille three. I was hoping (fingers crossed) we might be able to capture a good one. Layton Grier is a portrait, event or wedding photographer. She specializes in black and white environmental portraits and photojournalist wedding photography but also has some pretty cute children's photos. Check out her website here. Her portrait sitting fee is $400 and her wedding fee is $2500. She includes a high resolution disc with both so you can make your own prints without having to come back and pay her more for reprints.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Weekend Recap

It was a great weekend at the Richmond Jazz Festival. I hadn't worked an event in a while and it was fun to be back in the mix. I am off to Sandbridge today for some R & R with Michael and the kids. I will have some scheduled posts later in the week and next week I will be back with a menu planner.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Groupon!


Richmonders....great Groupon today! $10 for $20 Worth of Fine Wine and Craft Beer at Corks & Kegs. Click on the link to the right to redeem.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Camille turns 3!

Camille turned 3 over the weekend. Here are some of some pictures of the decor at her party. We decorated purses and cupcakes. Very fun!




I found instructions on how to make tissue paper flowers here. This is much cheaper than real flowers especially because in this case, I already had the dowels.



We had a Dora theme and I got all the Dora gear from the Ukrops clearance sale. My uncle is a store manager and gave me everything for $.25 each. So for $2.50, I had everything from napkins to party hats to wrapping paper.


I made these Dora Cupcakes. I followed these decorations and mine didn't come out quite as cute.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Richmond Jazz Festival


I have put my event planning hat back on and took a contract position with HandsOn Greater Richmond working on volunteer management for the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont. It is going to be a great event and is coming up rather quick...August 14-15. If you are interested in volunteering, click here. Volunteers get their admission to the festival free on the day you volunteer. If you want to attend, click here to purchase tickets.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Thinking of Fall....

Even after the sweltering humidity yesterday, I am still dreaming of fall...football,first days of school, Halloween...all the fun things that come when the leaves begin to change. I got the L.L.Bean Signature Catalog today and am loving these things. Now if my budget would only allow.

Wool Tartan Pants


Signature Outfit with Tweed Skirt


Stretch Denim Flare


Now that I know what I like....I can be on the look out at my favorite discount stores for similar items.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Menu Planner

Sunday - Joan Munson’s Sweet White Corn Soup With Poblano Puree, Bar Grilled Cheese

Monday - Spinach & Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo

Tuesday - Kate's Italian Sausage Pasta

Wednesday - Crustless Tomato Ricotta Pie, Salad & Bread

Thursday - Pork Loin with Mango Salsa, Black Beans & Rice Mix and Corn (recipe below)

This recipe came recommended from my friend Lindley. Which got me thinking...do you have any easy recipes that you love? Send them my way....astoakley@gmail.com.

Pork Loin with Mango Salsa
Ingredients:
- 1 pork loin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium mango (sliced and cut into chunks)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 small shallot (minced)
- 1 pound white or brown crimini mushrooms

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 F. Rinse your pork loin and trim any fat to make the surface of the loin smooth for rubbing. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and the cocoa. Then use your hands to rub the mixture evenly over the pork.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Brown the tenderloin in the skillet on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Being careful not to lose the juices, transfer the pork loin to a Pyrex pan and slide into the oven. Cook for 12–15 more minutes. Check the loin after that time period by cutting into it. If still pink, cook a few minutes longer.

In a small bowl, lightly mix mango, cilantro, shallot and lemon juice. Serve with slices of pork.