Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Here's a quick and easy idea for a cookout dessert.  I can also attest to them being kid approved!  Watermelon cupcakes - in looks only, not taste!  Start with a quick trip to the grocery store for some vanilla or white boxed cake mix and its required ingredients, and pick up some cans of vanilla or cream cheese frosting if  you don't feel like making your own buttercream. Make the cake batter as directed, add some mini chocolate chips, and color with Americolor Gel Colors in Deep Pink (#414 ) and Fuschia (#127 ).  While baking, color the frosting with Americolor Electric Green (#162).  Assemble the cupcakes and you're done.  When you bite into them, you will see the mini chocolate chips standing in as the "watermelon seeds."  Cute, right?

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 by Julie

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

It may come as a surprise, but this Memorial Day weekend I decided not to travel anywhere but make a fun "staycation," instead, here in Washington D.C.  First on the weekend's agenda was to finally visit Glen Echo Park in Maryland.  I've been intrigued by this place for a couple years now, ever since I heard they have weekly swing dance Saturday night gatherings in an early 20th century ballroom - because I've always wanted to learn how to swing dance.  It wasn't until I looked it up as a potential wedding reception spot for a friend, however, that I knew I had to one day go explore the park and do a photography safari.











Glen Echo Park was once Washington D.C.'s local amusement park, before today's Six Flags/Kings Dominion/Hershey Park could even be conceptualized.  Opened in 1918 to guests, the park remained the premier destination for roller coaster riding, bumper car driving, carousel spinning, pool going, and arcade game playing until 1968, accessed by the convenient trolley car system that used to run up the river from downtown D.C.  Today, the park is part of the National Park Service program and retains the original 1921 Denzel Carousel and the bumper car pavilion, now used as an outdoor party space. Other remnants of the amusement park include the entrance for the Crystal Pool, once a large swimming pool and sand beach area that is now a playground, and the exterior of the old arcade, that once included a shooting gallery and skee ball palace.  A children's theater and art showrooms occupy these spaces now.  The park is an interesting place for photography both during the day and at night, when all the neon signs are lit.  I was inspired enough to make both trips in one day, coming back right around dusk.  One tidbit I learned was that on the last day the carousel operates for the season, the park plans a special day when they bring back original games and turn the bumper car pavilion back into its original state, so you know where I will be on that day!!






One of the neat things we discovered in the Candy Corner, now a very small building filled with amusement park artifacts run by the National Park Service, was a then-and-now photo challenge.  There are four laminated copies of old photographs of the park, and your task is to find the location and take a then-and-now photo, holding the black and white photo up in front of the lens to be perfectly aligned with where it once was.  I was able to capture two of the four photos pretty well - using my phone's camera because I couldn't hold the photo and steady my other camera.  The other two were near impossible because of the lens used in the original photograph, and the fact that the original entrance sign was smaller in the photograph than the one currently on display didn't help either.  Here are my successful photos of the bumper car pavilion and the trolley tracks by the entrance.  You should definitely try this challenge - at Glen Echo or in your hometown - because it was fun!


Posted on Saturday, May 25, 2013 by Julie

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Monday, May 20, 2013



Sometimes you get invited to dinner and offer to bring dessert.  And sometimes the day of the event arrives and you don't feel like baking.  And sometimes you need to think of something healthy because everyone is watching what they are eating. In all of these cases, can I suggest an extremely simple, yet delicious option? Individual low-calorie strawberry shortcakes!


Three reasons to make these as your dessert:

1. Everything is pre-made:  fresh strawberries (thanks to Mother Nature), Sara Lee Pound Cake from the freezer section, and Fat Free Cool Whip also from the freezer section

2. They take less than an hour to make: cut the strawberries into small, quartered slices and sweeten with your preferred low calorie sweetener (I like Truvia).  Slice the pound cake, then use a circle shaped cookie cutter to punch out shapes (you need 3 per jar).  Put the cool whip and the cut strawberries into disposable piping bags to keep the mess to a minimum - no tips needed, just snip the ends with scissors, giving a larger opening for the strawberries.  Layer in this order in a small jelly jar, using an assembly line technique: pound cake, whipped cream, strawberries - repeat to make 3 layers.

3. Low in calories: because of fat free cool whip and the artificial sweetener. I like a buttery pound cake, so I didn't scrimp there, but after all the cutting, you're really only eating about 1-1.5 slices of the cake.  It's all about portion control, and this glass jar presentation seems like you're getting a lot when you're really not.

To make 4 strawberry shortcakes, I needed almost one tub of whipped cream, almost one quart of strawberries, and the family-sized pound cake because I sliced the cake thick and you end up losing a lot to excess from the cookie cutter.  Think about cubing the pound cake if you don't like excess cake.  ENJOY!



Posted on Monday, May 20, 2013 by Julie

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Sunday, May 19, 2013


I felt like doing a little cookie decorating this weekend, and I was inspired a photo of some citrus cookies my mom made awhile ago.  Keeping it simple, I opted to just stick with lemon slices because it reminds me of summer and a tall glass of lemonade or that garnish on the side of my margarita glass.  So with a late May weekend as gloomy, cold, and wet as this one in Washington D.C., it was nice to be creating my own little piece of sunshine in my house.

I'm not sure if I've ever posted the two recipes that are staples for any of my cookie decorating, so I'll do it here and forever reference this post in future decorating adventures.  Keep reading for a little hint on how to make the white accents on the cookies.


 Butter Cookies for Cut Shapes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add a little at a time to the wet mixture, mixing it until everything is incorporated.
4. Divide dough into a softball or handball sized sphere.  Place between two pieces of parchment or wax paper and roll it out until it is about 1/8-1/4 inch thick - I prefer thicker.  Repeat until all dough is rolled out.
5. Place all rolled dough stacked on a baking sheet.  Cover the baking sheet in cling wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.
6. Remove dough from the refrigerator, peel off the paper and cut shapes.  Combine and roll out excess dough after cutting to make even more shapes (though it may need to chill for a bit depending on how warm the dough got).
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
8. Place cut shapes on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, ensuring the bottoms don't get too brown.
9. Cool on a rack until completely cool, then frost.

Royal Icing (Decorators Frosting)

Ingredients:
  • 1 box (1 lb) confectioner's sugar
  • 3 oz egg whites, room temperature (approx. 3 eggs, but use the boxed egg whites to make it easier)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
1. Mix together in a stand mixer until powdered/confectioner's sugar is incorporated into the wet ingredients.
2. Beat on high for 7 minutes.
3. Separate into bowls, the quantity depending on what colors you want to use.
4. Add water to the icing in the bowls only one spoonful at a time until you get the consistency you want.
5. Pipe on the cookies as desired.

To make the lemon wedges, I used a round cookie cutter and sliced the shape in half.  I kept a few whole just for fun. I did not pipe an outline for the yellow, rather kept the icing a little thicker and did the edges and flooding all with one squeeze bottle.  Immediately after piping the yellow fill color, I took a squeeze bottle of white icing and did a border just inside the edge and a dot in the center.  Using a toothpick, I dragged the outside edge of yellow frosting through the white line and up to the center dot to create the interior triangles.  I then spread out the center dot to create a more realistic look.  I gently tapped the cookie to make the frosting settled, then used the toothpick to eliminate the air bubbles (not all were successfully popped!).

Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2013 by Julie

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

I wanted to bake some cookies for my friend's birthday party this weekend, and what screams birthday more than multi-colored sprinkles?  In this case, I'm experimenting with some Wilton Jumbo Nonpareils I found at my local Target.  I originally saw a recipe for these swirl cookies on Sprinklebakes, but if you search on the internet, there are many variations, and I actually decided to use this one from Pip and Ebby, making some modifications of my own.  I liked that her recipe called for all purpose flour, and not cake flour.  The key to this recipe is to use a food processor because the butter is cold butter, and it blends with the dry ingredients a lot better when it gets finely chopped by the food processor.



Sprinkle Swirl Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter - cold and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon peel powder or lemon zest
  • Gel food coloring, color of your choice
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup jumbo nonpareils
  • 1/2 cup regular-sized nonpareils
1. In a food processor, combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugars) and process until combined
2. Add in butter and process until the dough looks like cornmeal
3. Add the vanilla and process until the dough almost forms a ball
4. Remove half of the dough and set aside
5. To the remaining dough, add lemon extract and powder or zest, gel food coloring (start small, like 1/4 tsp), and 2 Tbsp flour and process until just combined and color is evenly distributed
6. Roll out each ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper, trying for a rectangle the size of a standard sheet of paper about 1/4 inch thick
7. Place both sheets of dough on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours
8. Pour nonpareil mixture into a rectangular dish
9. Remove dough from the refrigerator and peel off on side of the wax paper
10. Flip the exposed side of one dough over onto the other dough
11. Gently roll the combined dough over the wax paper to ensure they are stuck together, then add a little pressure on the ends to taper the dough to make it easier to roll
12. Remove the top sheet of wax paper, take a knife, and cut the dough into a rectangle
13. When the dough has become pliable, roll the dough into a log shape
14. Place the log in the dish with the nonpareils and roll to affix the sprinkles, using your hands to  press the sprinkles into the bare spots
15. Place the roll back into the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours
16. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
17. Slice the dough roll into 1/4 inch slices and place on a parchment or silpat covered baking sheet
18. Bake 15-17 minutes or until the cookies aren't shiny and the vanilla dough is lightly brown on the bottom

Look at the Sprinklebakes version for additional hints on preparing the cookies.  Remember, her ingredients are slightly different.  I actually was not happy with the baking outcome from this recipe.  My cookies flattened out too much, so I'm not quite confident Pip and Eddy's modifications were for the better.  Maybe next time I'll try Sprinklebakes' version.  The flavor ended up coming primarily from the fruity flavors of the jumbo nonpareils.

Posted on Saturday, May 18, 2013 by Julie

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'm always on the lookout to find alternatives for exercise that aren't confined to your stereotypical gym setting - something that makes you excited about working out because, really, if you break the word down, it's still basically work, right?  It should be no surprise to people who read my blog or know me that the two alternative fitness classes I engaged in this month were both deals I found on LivingSocial, one of my many sources for inspiration when it comes to local, fun activities.

The first class was an intro class into the street fitness trend: parkour.  This kinetic, plyometric, dynamic activity was popularized by David Belle, who is considered its founder, but its origins are found with the French Army and its early 20th century obstacle course training methods.  Most people have that "oh yeah" moment, though, when I tell them it's like the opening scene from Casino Royale with James Bond chasing after a man with a backpack.
Here in Washington D.C., a place to learn the basics of parkour is at one of Urban Evolution's two locations, in Alexandria or Manassas.  They offer both adult and kid classes.  My deal was for the intro class.  We started with a warmup that included two laps around the building where we had to run on the balls of our feet and jump over all asphalt cracks and paint stripes, then two sets each of crouch push-ups, high bar swing-leaps, and burpees with a pushup.  The first lesson of the class was in safety and balance, talking through the core idea of parkour - efficient energy usage.  We got on the balls of our feet, bent our knees and squatted to the ground to test our balance and to physically recognize the strength (or lack of) in our ankles, which is key to reducing injury risk.  Continuing with only using the balls of our feet, we started jumping as quietly as possible, controlling our landings, then moved on to precision jumping.  Using 2x4 wood cuts screwed into a 2-inch wood base on each side, we jumped with accuracy to land and balance on the wood cut, gradually moving our starting line out until we reached failure.   Once we felt comfortable with the movement, our instructor added PVC pipe hurdles to a course of these 2x4 wood steps to emphasize the importance of high knees.  I failed at this exercise, and have the bruised butt to prove it from missing the step by a fraction of an inch and falling backwards onto the hurdle.

The next phase was to teach you safe dropping and landing techniques.  Here we identified the impact of moving your center of gravity lower to reduce the impact of the drop and landing on the balls of your feet to absorb some of the downward force.  The somersaults were not my forte, I can tell you that!  I can't even tell you the last time I did tumbling of any sort!  Add to that the mental challenge of twisting yourself to do a shoulder roll, then finish the move straight, get to your feet and run...my brain and body were just not connecting! Finally, we learned about mounting tall objects and vaulting over them.  The focus here was on maximizing your movement to get up efficiently and to position yourself to land quickly and accurately.  That James Bond clip has great examples of effective body positions/landings that allow you to maintain momentum.  This is also called freerunning.  The class ended with a "graduation" obstacle course that incorporated all the techniques we learned.

Later that day, nursing my bruised butt and tight/slightly injured shoulder muscles, I was thinking about what I learned from the class.  First, much of what was demonstrated is very applicable to everyday life and any sport one may play: economizing movement and energy while not breaking momentum.  Just think about the last time you tripped over something and fell.  The second takeaway was that, in my opinion, parkour is for the young and very limber!  I think a lot of my issues with the obstacles were mental, thinking about potential injury and how that would impact and disrupt my ability to work, drive, walk my dog, etc.  The final lesson was observed two days later:  I was more sore from this two hour class than I was running in a half marathon last month.  Crazy, right?
The day after the parkour class, I went to Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria to take a class to refresh some of my indoor rock climbing skills.  Probably not the best idea considering my sore muscles! I actually learned to climb several years ago, but haven't been to the climbing gym in awhile because I don't have a belay partner.  I thought I could benefit from a class in movement skills, continuing on the theme of efficient energy use, as a refresher and as a way to get me on the wall.  The class is called Intro to Climbing, but it really should be taken after the Basic Skills class.  There is no belaying involved in this class, just moving along the wall close to the ground and doing a little bit of bouldering.  In the first part of the class we focused on walking the base grips with no hands to demonstrate the effectiveness of transferring your energy and weight the right way.  Next we talked about ways to conserve arm strength, which boils down to keeping them as straight as possible.  Finally, we got on the bouldering wall to climb a little higher.  I can tell you now, I will never be interested in bouldering because I don't like the idea of climbing 15-20 feet with nothing securing you and only a padded mat to cushion your fall.  I much prefer top-roping with a belay partner!  And now, I just need to convince some friends to get belay certified so I can go back and climb again...

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Julie

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Once again, I've been inspired by one of my favorite bloggers.  Honestly, it wasn't the recipe that attracted me but Sprinklebakes' gorgeous photographs.  I loved the jimmies in the graham cracker crust and the nonpareils for decoration on the top.  This is what a funfetti cheesecake would look like, and who doesn't love funfetti anything?

Making this strawberry milk cheesecake couldn't be easier.  First, no baking is involved.  While I enjoyed the simplicity of this no-bake concept, I have to say that I much prefer my cheesecake to be of the baked variety over no-bake.  Second, the ingredient list is small.  All you need is butter, sugar, cream cheese, heavy cream, salt, graham crackers, strawberry milk mix, and the jimmies/sprinkles.

Overall, it's not a bad little cake.  I think the sweetness makes it a great candidate for kids birthday parties, or perhaps a Mother's Day dessert.  Personally, I'm not a huge fan of powdered milk flavorings, and the smell when I cracked open that container of strawberry powder was "whoa"!  The whipped cream and cheese toned the flavor down a bit, but it still left me yearning real strawberries, or at least something a little less fake.  Don't get me wrong, it was totally edible, and I have witnessed that it is kid approved.  Anyway, here's the recipe from Sprinklebakes:

No Bake Strawberry Milk Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Sprinkle Crust:
2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup jimmies sprinkles
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

  1. Use a food processor to crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs, then combine with jimmies, salt, and sugar - stirring well make sure the ingredients and jimmies are evenly distributed.
  2. Make a hole in the middle of the graham cracker mixture and pour in the melted butter.  Mix together using a rubber spatula until all the crumbs are moistened.
  3. Pour into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan and press the crust mixture into the pan - on the bottom and up the sides
Strawberry Milk Cheesecake Filling
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup strawberry milk drink mix powder (if you purchase the reduced sugar variety, add 2 tbsp granulated sugar)
  1. Beat heavy cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks stage
  2. Add cream cheese and beat again until combined.  
  3. Sift strawberry milk powder over the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture.  I used the electric mixer on low to incorporate.  Add sugar if needed.
  4. Scoop mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust and push to fill in the crust.  Smooth top.
Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
  1. Beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. 
  2. Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star decorator tip.  Pipe whipped cream stars around the outside edge of the cheesecake, and in the center.  Sprinkle with multicolor nonpareils. 
  3. Cover springform pan in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours, or overnight.  To unmold, remove from freezer and place a dishcloth soaked with hot water and wrung dry around the outside of the pan. This will warmth will help loosen the frozen crust from the pan. Let cheesecake partially thaw in the refrigerator before serving.  Slice cheesecake while still partially frozen and serve.
Thanks SPRINKLEBAKES!!  Keep posting yummy recipes!


Posted on Saturday, May 11, 2013 by Julie

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Every year in the spring, thousands of people make the trek from all over the world to Omaha, Nebraska in order to see their investing idol - Warren Buffett - during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.  And when I say thousands, I mean over 30,000 people (closer to 40,000 this year I heard), most of whom are shareholders, analysts from Wall Street, fund managers, and students.  I have only been one time before, back when I was in grad school, during which time I was fortunate to not only meet Mr. Buffett but receive a personal invitation I couldn't pass up to go to an exclusive gathering in Omaha with his Berkshire Hathaway managers and his longtime partner, Charlie Munger.  This year, sans special invite, my goal in going was simply to seek inspiration.

If you've actually read some of my earliest blog posts, you may have seen one about my simple thoughts on taking control of your investments based on my personal finance experience and past role as an equities analyst at a money management firm.  I will be the first to admit that I've disengaged somewhat from being an active investor, with life seeming to always get in the way, but lately I've been feeling the yearning to clean up the cobwebs in my brain and stop being so passive.  My hope was that by going to the shareholders meeting, being around industry professionals, and listening to the 5 hours of exclusive Q&A with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger (meeting audio is never released), where the two often end up sharing wisdom both on investing and on life simply due to the nature of the questions, it would be the catalyst I needed to rev up my motivation.  And, I think it worked!


The meeting is quite the circus.  Most attendees arrive on Friday and settle in to their hotels, booked as many as 10 months in advance, some opting to attend the welcome reception at the Berkshire-owned Borsheim's jewelry store.  The actual meeting is held on Saturday at the Centurylink Center in downtown Omaha, conveniently attached to the convention center. Lines of the über-faithful start early when an arena has an approximate capacity for only 18,000 seats and twice that are expected to attend. Doors opened this year at 6:30am, a half hour before scheduled, because of the cold and rainy weather - I got there "late" at 7:15!  If you want to sit anywhere on the lower level, it's best to get there before the meeting starts at 8:30am because people save seats for large groups.  Surprisingly, the honor system seemed to hold true, as my 4 seats were still there an hour after I placed sheets of the local newspaper on the back of them.  Once seating is secured, it was time to hit the expo.  The convention center space is filled with displays from Berkshire's more popular companies, most offering exclusive merchandise for the shareholder meeting:  See's Candies had a special edition small chocolates box, Oriental Trading Company had Warren and Charlie rubber duckies for $2, Fruit of the Loom sold out by lunchtime of their $5 t-shirt with the famous Buffett saying "Rule #1: Never Lose Money.  Rule #2: Don't forget Rule #1", and Brooks Running had special t-shirts to go along with Sunday's inaugural 5k race.  Of course, the $1 Dairy Queen Dilly Bars and Mini Blizzards were plentiful, and many people were scrambling to enjoy shareholder discounts on Justin's Boots and The Pampered Chef kitchen tools.  At the Clayton Homes exhibit, you could fold up a copy of a newspaper (BRK is a newspaper supporter) and throw it on the porch in an attempt to best Buffett's throw to win a free Dilly Bar.





But, if you're a regular attendee, you know a pre-meeting visit to the exhibit hall is an advantage because, besides knowing the inventory is available for souvenirs, this is the highest probability that you will bump into Warren Buffett as he makes his way around to visit the displays, Cherry Coke in hand to quench his thirst.  You can easily spot the "Buffett Scrum" because of all the cameras, and it moves much like a tidal wave, sweeping people up as it passes by.  If you happen to catch the scrum, you may also be lucky to see the most famous BRK boardmember - Bill Gates.  You just need to make sure to make it back to your seat by 8:30, when the annual hour-long movie is screened that begins with a new animated cartoon of Warren and Charlie, then has various TV appearance clips, commercials from BRK companies (my favorite was the Geico Camel Hump Day ad), and skits with Warren, Charlie, and Hollywood celebs - this year featured a storyline of Warren wanting to be in the next Terminator movie with Arnold.  Every year, the clip of Buffett testifying before Congress regarding the failure of governance at Solomon Brothers is played as a reminder of the results of insufficient oversight and reckless behavior.


Like I said, there is no audio or video recording of the meeting itself, though many analysts post their notes and analysis to the web the week following the event.  Check out this great recap from Jeff Matthews, though I firmly disagree with his view on inviting a short-seller, Doug Kass, to be a part of the Q&A panel!  Munger said it best, during the meeting, when he said (in response to Kass boldly asking BRK to give him money to invest): “The answer to your question is NO.  We don’t like trading agony for money.”  Speaking of Charlie Munger, if you've ever seen a Penn and Teller show you will understand when I say that Munger is Teller to Buffett's Penn, though not as quiet.  After so many years, the two have their act down pat.  The 89-year-old Charlie started digging in to his box of See's Peanut Brittle and cans of Diet Coke early into the Q&A session and patiently waited his turn to give his 1-2 sentence quip to conclude the question's answer, most often to say his catch phrase, "I have nothing to add," on Warren's prompt "Charlie?"    I think one of my favorite Mungerisms was in response to a question about whether or not The Pampered Chef operated like other deceptive direct-sales businesses (i.e., Herbalife), to which Charlie responded, "I think there’s likely to be more flimflam selling magic potions than pots and pans.”

The weekend concluded on Sunday with the inaugural Berkshire Hathaway Invest in Yourself 5K race on a cool and wet morning.  This race was sponsored by Brooks Running Company, a BRK company, and the start was announced by Mr. Buffett himself.  Of course I pretended I was in the 6 minute mile pace group so that I could get a good spot to watch the show.




As for the rest of the weekend, I was very fortunate to have a friend and former work colleague who recently moved to Omaha.  We went out on the town with his other friends in for the meeting, spending hours catching up at the Crescent Moon Alehouse and downstairs biergarten, conveniently located across the street from BRK headquarters, and having obligatory steak dinners at The Drover Restaurant.  Before my flight left on Sunday, I got a chance to explore the Old Market historical area near the river, with its cute shops, restaurants, and bars.



If you've never read anything about Warren Buffet or have no interest in investing at all, you may be surprised at how his philosophies easily translate into your life.  Here are some fun Buffet-isms you might like:

Warren Buffett's Rules of Success 
(also posted on a wall of your nearest Jimmy John's sandwich shop, by the way)

No. 1: Reinvest Your Profits
When you first make money, you may be tempted to spend it. Don’t. Instead, reinvest the profits. Buffett learned this early on. In high school, he and a pal bought a pinball machine to put in a barbershop. With the money they earned, they bought more machines until they had eight in different shops. When the friends sold the venture, Buffett used the proceeds to buy stocks and to start another business.
No. 2: Be Willing to Be Different
Don’t base your decisions upon what everyone is saying or doing. When Buffett began managing money in 1956 with $100,000 cobbled together from a handful of investors, he was dubbed an oddball. He worked in Omaha, not on Wall Street, and he refused to tell his partners where he was putting their money. People predicted that he’d fall, but when he closed his partnership 14 years later, it was worth more than $100 million.
No. 3: Never Suck Your Thumb
Gather in advance any information you need to make a decision, and ask a friend or relative to make sure that you stick to a deadline. Buffett prides himself on swiftly making up his mind and acting on it. He calls any unnecessary sitting and thinking “thumb-sucking.”
No. 4: Spell Out the Deal Before You Start
Your bargaining leverage is always greatest before you begin a job – that’s when you have something to offer that the other party wants. Buffett learned this lesson the hard way as a kid, when his grandfather Earnest hired him and a friend to dig out the family grocery store after a blizzard. The boys spent five hours shoveling until they could barely straighten their frozen hands. Afterward, his grandfather gave the pair less that 90 cents to split.
No. 5: Watch Small Expenses
Buffett invests in business run by managers who obsess over the tiniest costs. He once acquired a company whose owner counted the sheets in rolls of 500-sheet toilet paper to see if he was being cheated (he was). He also admired a friend who painted only the side of his office building that faced the road.
No. 6: Limit What You Borrow
Buffett has never borrowed a significant amount – not to invest, not for a mortgage. He has gotten many heartrending letters from people who thought their borrowing was manageable but became overwhelmed by debt. His advice: Negotiate with creditors to pay what you can. Then, when you’re debt-free, work on saving some money that you can invest.
No. 7: Be Persistent
With tenacity and ingenuity, you can win against a more established competitor. Buffett acquired the Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1983 because he liked the way its founder, Rose Blumkin, did business. A Russian immigrant, she built the mart from a pawnshop into the largest furniture store in North America. Her strategy was to undersell the big shots, and she was a merciless negotiator.
No. 8: Know When to Quit
Once, when Buffett was a teen, he went to the racetrack. He bet on a race and lost. To recoup his funds, he bet on another race. He lost again, leaving him with close to nothing. He felt sick – he had squandered nearly a week’s earnings. Buffett never repeated that mistake.
No. 9: Assess the Risks
In 1995, the employer of Buffett’s son, Howie, was accused by the FBI of price-fixing. Buffett advised Howie to imagine the worst- and best-case scenarios if he stayed with the company. His son quickly realized the risks of staying far outweighed any potential gains, and he quit the next day.
No. 10: Know What Success Really Means
Despite his wealth, Buffett does not measure success by dollars. In 2006, he pledged to give away almost his entire fortune to charities, primarily the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s adamant about not funding monuments to himself – no Warren Buffett buildings or halls. “When you get to my age, you’ll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. That’s the ultimate test of how you lived your life.”

Sample of Some Great Warren Buffet Quotes: 

  • “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1.” 
  • “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.” 
  • “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” 
  • “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” 
  • “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” 
  • “Only when you combine sound intellect with emotional discipline do you get rational behavior.” 
  • “Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.” 
  • "I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
  • "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
  • "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."
  • "Whether we're talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down."
  • "I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will."

Posted on Tuesday, May 07, 2013 by Julie

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