Sales of New Housing Down 11%

In the flower of Econo-Girl's childhood, she was so obnoxious it defies description. Frequently she would say, "Hate to say I told you so" to the limited joy of those around her.

So I will refrain from that refrain now.

However, let it be noted that the housing boom seems to have busted, even in the eyes of the evil CNN Money, syncophant to the mentally dead. Econo-Girl's eyes widen, as does everyone's, at the idea of getting SO MUCH RICHER by doing nothing but paying her mortgage, which she would have to do anyway.

What a compensation for those who were fooled by the dot com stock fiasco. You aren't idiots anymore! Call that house an 'investment' and you are a genius!

The truth is, we are just lucky. We take a guess, and we are lucky.

Econo-Girl moved into this section of DC when it was a ghetto. Kids were shot on their porches, stray bullets killed grandmothers in their living rooms, and gangs collected on corners to guard their territory. Sure, there was a new Metro stop, but that didn't guarantee anything. Sure there were plans to build a big supermarket and an urban mall, but no one really knew what would happen.

Fundementally, Econo-Girl looked around and said, I could live here. I like it here. As it is. Not for what it could be. And so that is how Econo-Girl became "that white lady with the dog" to the kids in the neighborhood.

Now that the neighborhood is changing, Econo-Girl doesn't like it as much. The new people moving in aren't as friendly and the sense of community is eroding. Ahhh, well. Isn't the past always better?

Roasted Chesnut Recipe

Recipes for Hot Roasted Chestnuts
Ingredients:1 pound fresh chestnuts in the shellWater
Chestnuts are like popcorn kernels, with a tough shell that traps moisture. And like popcorn, chestnuts will explode if you don't slit their shells before roasting. Use the point of a paring knife to cut a large "X" into the flat side of the shell to let the steam escape. Be sure to cut through the skin. The cooking methods below yield about 2½ cups — enough to serve four.
Note: Do not use a microwave oven. The chestnuts' texture is likely to turn gummy.
For this method, it's best to use a chestnut roaster, a cagelike device with a long handle specially designed for use in the fireplace. After slitting X's in the chestnuts, place them in the roaster and hold it over hot coals. Roast chestnuts for 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the roaster from time to time.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. After scoring them, place chestnuts in a single layer in a baking pan and sprinkle generously with water. Roast 17 to 20 minutes, or until the X-cut opens up and the shell begins to char. Continue to sprinkle water over chestnuts as they bake to prevent them from drying out. Stir occasionally.
Peel both the shell and the skin off the roasted chestnuts while they are still hot. (If they cool so much that the shell won't easily come off, reheat them briefly.)
Serve fresh from the oven because their flavor declines as they stand; they are always at their best when hot.
Heat a heavy sauté pan for one minute. When it's hot, add chestnuts in a single layer, sprinkle with a small amount of water, and cover the pan. Medium-high heat works best. Shake the pan often and continue to sprinkle with water, until shells begin to char and the X-cut opens up. Cooking time: about 10 minutes. After chestnuts are cooked, remove them from the pan and wrap them in a tea towel to retain moisture. Peel and eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
www.csmonitor.com Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.


Hemline Watching

Just as we are getting notice that consumer prices are falling by the most they have ever fallen in 56 years, Econo-Girl is noticing that micro miniskirts are back!
A few posts ago, Econo-Girl posited a few thoughts about deflation.  Usually deflation is bad.  I mean really bad.  It generally means that no one has enough money to buy stuff, so in order to sell anything at all, retailers have to drop prices.  It's what's been happening in Japan this past decade and they are only now pulling out of it.
This is why Econo-Girl is not predicting doom with deflation:  skirt hemlines are going up.  Yes, that's it.  Nothing else.  In fact, it is underwear-peeking time, like in the late '90s. 
Some of you may not take comfort in that comparison.  Econo-Girl can see why.  But for the immediate and short term, there will be no economic collapse.  You heard it here first.


Leisure Lad's Latest Fad

Perhaps that characterization is unfair.  Leisure Lad is going to the George Washington University's Weight Clinic.  For four months, he will drink a protein shake under medical supervision.  Just gearing up for it, he has lost 10 pounds.
Econo-Girl will confess a fondness for portly men.  But the Leisure Lad has diabetes, and that is an exception.  Despite the extra weight, he is incredibly strong.  Econo-Girl is glad he is taking his weight seriously.
Have you heard of the Amish diet?  Eat scrapple, eggs, shoe-fly pie and walk 19 miles a day.
A recent study somewhere has linked weight control with walking.  Not going to the gym, not pumping iron, but plain walking.  Granted, people don't walk nearly as much as they used to one hundred years ago.  And it wouldn't hurt them if they did.  But is that the only factor in American obesity?
How about the food industry?  But no one is taking the cash out of my wallet and shoving food in my mouth. I do that all on my own.
Confusion about what healthy eating is?  Yes, because whenever one study says fat is bad, another says it is good.  The same is true for carbs, protein, etc.  So the public has no standard to rely on.  And no, Econo-Girl does not trust the FDA's Food Pyramid because she gained ten pounds using it.
Even Weight Watchers has lost Econo-Girl's respect.  The new system has a person only eating a nominal amount each day to 'save' for extra eating on the weekends.  Not a path to dietary success, guys.    Soon it won't just be on the weekends, as we all know.
A possible solution is in the air.  In London, the city has instituted a hefty tax on people who drive into the city.  Traffic is way down.  Everyone is taking the train.  Talk abounds about doing that in DC.  What a great way to trim our tummies at the same time!


Our Heat is Out

Our heat is out and the spammers have abandoned my blog. Things are looking grim.

Econo-Girl cannot find wood pellets to save her life, either. Alas, they always sell out around here. But with the current situation, finding those damn wood pellets is high on my list.

It is quite fashionable to use alternative fuels these days. And it is such a good feeling, too. A nice fire that produces steady heat. We didn't really appreciate how much heat it was providing until we ran out of fuel.

So it's off to the hinterlands to find some pellets!


Tips on Saving

"The Latte Factor"???  That is what economists and financial advisors are calling the habit of paying $5 for a cup of coffee when all you have to do is to put that $5 in the bank instead.
Econo-Girl is no stranger to frittering money away.  But at some point she tallied money spent and realized that she wasn't getting the most bang for the buck, as in spending $100 a month on taxis.  A little more planning and effort would save about $80 of that to be used for overpriced coffee. 
The real point of this cheapskate trend is to savor what really gives you pleasure.  Econo-Girl worships her morning coffee.  It is made with an expensive coffee maker that makes the best coffee on Earth.  Econo-Girl generally won't pay for coffee anywhere and will only drink her own.
A close second, and the old way Econo-Girl made her coffee was to use one of those manual things where you poured the grounds into a clear plastic cup, poured in water, let it sit, and then pressed down on a plunger to get all the coffee grounds to the bottom.  Another great cup of coffee.
Coffee preferences aside, this is about enjoyment.  Starving yourself and those around you from any joy is not the way to live.  Paying attention to where your money is going, and making sure that you want the things you are buying, that is true thrift.


Mortgage Defaults

Click on this link to hear about mortgage defaults for Katrina survivors.
Imagine being expected to pay on a mortgage when the house isn't even there anymore!  Econo-Girl wouldn't. 
What would the structural issues be for the mortgage market with all of these defaults?  Econo-Girl thinks that it will make mortgage rates even higher and getting a mortgage will be harder.
No less than Alan Greenspan has warned Fannie Mae that it is overextended in providing mortgages, and he said there is considerable risk right now to the entire mortgage system because of it.  One of the risks Greenspan warned about was a larger number of defaults.
Econo-Girl and Leisure Lad are trying to sell his coop in DC.  My goodness, the prices have gone down.  And it takes longer to sell something.
The upshot of all this information is that Econo-Girl sees long term mortgage rates rising rapidly in the next six months.  By mid-summer of 2006, we will be wistfully recalling the rates of 2005. 


The Death Penalty

A great remembrance of an old W. quote about the death penalty.  Is that what Jesus would do?  Sneer at a death row inmate who was pleading for her life?  Jesus was executed, too, bud.
Econo-Girl has always maintained that there are simply some people who like to kill.  Some of them are elected officials in Texas.


The Candy Machine Inflation Index

There are many mundane things that Econo-Girl looks to in determining the rate of inflation:  the price of milk and eggs, the price of fresh produce, the structural issues around the supply and cost of gas, to name but a few.  But there is one indicator that is absolute:  the prices for candy in candy machines.  Why absolute?  Because that price NEVER GOES DOWN.  EVER.
Econo-Girl was again indulging her pechance for Peanut M & Ms when she saw THE PRICE HAD RISEN 25% SINCE YESTERDAY! 
Hold on tight, my little dumplings.  We are in for a wild ride.