Archive for August, 2007

Decorating the Christmas tree – Personalized Ornaments

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Decorating the Christmas tree is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. It’s also a great way to get your family together to create some holiday memories. It all starts with first picking out the perfect tree. Should you get a real tree, an artificial tree, a small tree, or the tallest tree you can find? Then there are the countless options of what decorations to use. There are the lights, the ornaments, the garland, ribbons, and just about anything else you can think of to put on your tree. The possibilities seem endless.

So where do you start? Picking a theme is a good place to start. Get some ideas on the colors and the decorations you may want to use. You’ll probably have some special ornaments to hang throughout the tree and you’ll need some filler ornaments for the rest of the space. Common Christmas symbols such as Santa Claus, snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen, and stars have a big presence in Christmas decorating.

Maybe the biggest decision to make is to decide whether to use a real tree or an artificial one. Everyone has a preference on which tree they like better and of course there are advantages and disadvantages for both. The traditional look and scent of a real tree cannot be matched by a fake one and many people look forward to and enjoy the tradition of going out to pick out or cut down the perfect tree. With an artificial tree, there are no needles to clean up and no worries about watering. Using an artificial tree year after year is also economical. However, artificial trees are made with the non-renewable source of petroleum and do not decompose in landfills once they are disposed of. Real trees are biodegradable and new trees are typically planted to replace the ones that have been cut down.

imageIf you want a real tree but don’t want to cut one down, there is also the option of using a planted tree. You can keep the tree planted in a pot and once the holidays are over, you can plant the tree outside in your yard. One must weigh the pros and cons of each type of tree and make the decision that best fits their needs.

If you choose to use an artificial tree, Christmas is just the beginning. You can reuse your tree again and again. Celebrate holidays throughout the year with a Valentine’s tree, Easter tree, Halloween tree, Thanksgiving tree, or decorate your tree for any other holiday or occasion that you can think of.

Personalized Anniversary Gift Ideas

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

For each year of marriage, there is a list of traditional and modern gifts that are customarily given for an anniversary. Traditional gifts start at year one and continue each year until year fifteen, and then every five years. Modern gifts on the other hand, start at the first anniversary and continue each year until the fiftieth, and then every five years. Modern gifts are becoming more and more popular than traditional gifts. Many married couples may find it challenging to find a traditional gift since the list only gives the material of the gift. The modern gift list is much more specific, but also contains more expensive gift ideas. For each anniversary, both lists have gift ideas that become more valuable and precious with each year.

Traditional gifts allow for one to be creative in their gift giving. For instance, on the first anniversary, a paper gift could be tickets to a theater performance or airline tickets, or even a heartfelt poem written on a piece of paper. Clocks are the modern gift for the first anniversary. An engraved clock with you and your partner’s names along with the date of your wedding or anniversary makes a thoughtful gift.

The traditional gift for the fifth anniversary is wood. Why not give your wife or husband a personalized and unique wood gift? A frame would be sure to make them smile. You can include your personal feelings and a loving photo for an extra special and personal gift. Traditional gift ideas may take a little more time and preparation, but the extra thought will surely be noticed and appreciated.

A milestone anniversary is the twenty-fifth year of marriage. Both the traditional and modern gift for this anniversary is silver. If a couple is having a twenty-fifth anniversary party or celebration, a wonderful gift is a cake serving set. This set is both useful and thoughtful and can be personalized with the names of the happy couple and the date of their special day.

The fiftieth anniversary is also a very important one. Both the traditional and modern gift for this wedding anniversary is gold. A gold cake server set is a thoughtful gift for this special celebration.

Remember that the anniversary gift ideas on the modern and traditional lists can just be a guideline and that a less expensive gift that you put your heart and thoughts into can be more meaningful than an expensive gift with no thought. You wouldn’t want to get your husband or wife a gift that he or she wouldn’t like, simply because of tradition. You can draw inspiration from these lists and make your gift to your spouse unique and personal. After all, an anniversary is about celebrating marriage and the love that a couple has and shares together.

Year Traditional Gift Modern Gift
1st Paper Clocks
2nd Cotton China
3rd Leather Crystal, Glass
4th Fruit, Flowers Appliances
5th Wood Silverware
6th Sugar, Iron Wood
7th Wool, Copper Desk Sets
8th Bronze Linens, Lace
9th Pottery Leather
10th Tin, Aluminum Diamond Jewelry
11th Steel Fashion Jewelry
12th Silk, Linen Pearls
13th Lace Textiles, Furs
14th Ivory Gold Jewelry
15th Crystal Watches
16th   Silver Holloware
17th   Furniture
18th   Porcelain
19th   Bronze
20th China Platinum
25th Silver Sterling Silver
30th Pearl Diamond
35th Coral Jade
40th Ruby Ruby
45th Sapphire Sapphire
50th Gold Gold
55th Emerald Emerald
60th Diamond Gold, Diamond
70th Platinum  
75th Diamond Diamond
80th Oak Diamond, Pearl
90th Granite Diamond, Emerald
95th   Diamond, Ruby
100th   10-carat Diamond

California Sales Taxes Are a Thing of the Past for Another 3 months!

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

My boss and I have made a commitment to file sales taxes on time.  Yes, I’m one of the ones in charge of filing the sales tax for the business I work with, and each month of January, April, July and Oct, on the 31st, (actually circa the 30th of each of those months) I get the tingles, just thinking about the hundreds of thousands of individuals toiling at their offices, just like me, making sure everything adds up. Before… way before… in times long gone, I used to make sure I got into my best, highly energetic mind-frame, RIGHT ON THE 31st! I will muster all my energy on the 30th and 31st I told myself.  Thank God for sometimes one or two of those thirty-firsts fell on a Sunday, or even better, a Saturday.

                  “Don’t we all thrive under pressure?”

used to be my motto. While in that mind set l would easily fall prey to the evil spirits of deadline lateness. When I left things for the last minute, Murphy’s Law got impatient on me, for some reason, and it would act in the creepiest of ways. Add to that, kids in trick-or-treat outfits marching the streets, and my entire day would have been bleak and gloomy, except for the self-imposed pressure to beat that deadline that kept me in my toes and alert. But my blog is not about things past, but of the present.

Nowadays, I find myself filling in and typing the infamous boe “bo” “ee”" form, days, if not weeks, prior to its deadline. The form, which descriptively is called ”Sales and Use Tax” (boe401a2.pdf for short) has, for no coincidental reason, Halloween as its due date… The founding fathers of California taxdom must have thought it well and hard to choose 4 of the 7– including the scariest–  (longest months with 31 days) of each year to give tax payers ample time to make their payments.  I downloaded my BOE401A2 form from the California Board of Equalization’s web site.  On this July 31st, 2007, I can proudly proclaim I filed not just on time, but early enough that I didn’t have to be mindful of what day of the week it was. It never crossed my mind to worry about getting to the God-oh-blessed Hector G. Godinez main post office in Santa Ana, CA, on time to beat the 8 P.M. deadline.  Starting a couple of months back, someone who has authority at the Godinez post office got anal, or perhaps maybe the post office branch restructured and the new managers want to darn make sure that gate closes at exactly 8 p.m or else it will cost them their job? I’ve tried to find a reasonable explanation why this so-important-in-my-life post office decided to change its laid back schedule and policy of allowing late-comers through its back bulk-rate truck gate.

Beating the deadline under pressure like I did in about half a dozen past instances was exciting but not for the faint of heart.  No more having to bribe the entrance guard. No to having to plead clemency for being 5 minutes late. No.  Procrastination is hopefully a thing of the past.  This month of July, I was able to finish the tax chores in a few hours because I had prepared all the documentation and gathered all the information that our accountant taught me to collect. The $100/hr. rate that Clara Mar�a, our in-house-MBA, gets, is well justified. And she is unexpensive, too, I think.  E-Filing shouldn’t cost 2%, though! I was so deeply stung to learn of this fee, that I didn’t even check if they capped the fee at all.  This is the first time I e-file, but next time I may as well use eFileSalesTax for only $4.95 a shot.Personalized Irish Blessing Keepsake

My boss surprised me with a personalized keepsake award of our own. 

Patting me on the shoulder, she said the sweet words… ”Thanks for beating Murphy!”.  That sounded surreal.  How had she known I had a bit of Irish blood in me? but most astonishingly, how could she have guessed about my inner resolutions?