Mallow More

August 7, 2011

My afternoon featured…more marshmallows!!!

Blackened over mini fires in the Hershey’s Snacktivity suite [mom, you would never have left this room!]

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Bestthingieverate.

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I also went to a session on Mobile Blogging [I want a new phone!] and Professional Blogging [I missed most of this session with sticky S'mores fingers so I don't have any notes]

Another snacktime was around the corner and the Stonyfield team agreed last night to meet me at 4:15 to try out the new Fig + Honey Oikos!

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Likes: Flavor, texture, not too sweet, low in calories and sugar for a sweetened yogurt (110 Kcal | 7 g sugar)

Wants: More chunks of fig would have been nice to chew!

Thanks guys : )

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Monica and I went for a beautiful afternoon walk on the water to recharge after a chilly day indoors. It was so nice to get out in the sunshine! Afterwards, we took quickie showers and dressed up for dinner – matching yellow purses and all!

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We dined at Donovan’s Prime Seafood with the American Express Prepaid team (our sponsor) and Manisha Thakor, CFA and personal finance expert responsible for putting women in the financial driver’s seat! She spent many years in financial services and now works as a speaker and writer. Women power!

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Since first creating a household budget a few years ago, I am actually fascinated with money, spreadsheets, organization, Mint.com, and budgeting. I couldn’t wait to ask her for advice. My biggest question was: How much should I be saving? 10%? 50%? It’s sometimes hard to not want to save it all and to determine how to break up your money pie. Her response was 10% to retirement and 10% to short term savings – so 20%. That’s double what I had heard other sources say (I’ve always heard 10% to savings including retirement) but I think 20% is a great number to shoot for. I could have talked all night about money management. Hopefully we will cross paths again sometime!

Dinner started with bread…

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And red wine [Franciscan Cab!]

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And ended with Scallops with saffron brie risotto and sautéed veggies

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But that was just the beginning of the end – because two desserts arrived!

Deconstructed Banana’s Foster..

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And an Oreo Pie

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We I put large dents in both of them! Ice cream + caramel [+ marshmallows] are the foods of the week!

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Thanks so much to American Express for the opportunity to come to BlogHer this year and for dinner!

This weekend has been really great – very chill and enjoyable! But I’m ready to get back to the rolling hills of Virginia. Flight leaves at 11 tomorrow!

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren @ Lawfully Wedded Wife August 7, 2011 at 12:59 am

I’m dying over those S’mores, they look amazing. Sounds like you had a great time! Safe travels tomorrow!

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2 Koella August 7, 2011 at 1:08 am

Did they make suggestions on what cell phones to use? Did a certain one catch your interest? Just curious :)

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3 KathEats August 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

They didn’t really say, but I really liked the Samsung Infuse!

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4 Hannah August 7, 2011 at 1:44 am

I die with envy! I’ve never had s’mores, and it’s been years since I even had a roasted marshmallow!

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5 lynn @ the actor's diet August 7, 2011 at 2:02 am

i had some amazing marshmallows (a caramel one!) at a foodie event tonight. they are truly one of life’s great pleasures. i heard on a podcast (michael ian black’s snack one) that they’re great with fritos. don’t ask, just eat….

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6 Khushboo August 7, 2011 at 2:05 am

Smores are the reason I stayed a girl scout in school! I would have definitely dominated that Oreo Pie!

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7 Nancy~The Wife of a Dairyman August 7, 2011 at 2:31 am

Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize you’re in San Diego this weekend at BlogHer. I am here as well…my first one and love it! Can’t wait to attend next year in NYC! Sorry to have missed you, would have really enjoyed meeting you in person!…maybe at the airport in the a.m. Have safe travels:)

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8 KathEats August 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

Oh man – how could we have missed each other!

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9 J3nn(Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) August 7, 2011 at 2:45 am

Your dinner and dessert look exquisite!! Those scallops and the Oreo pie… Oh em gee!! I died a little just looking at all the yumminess. :)

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10 jenna k August 7, 2011 at 3:05 am

i want a vat of the caramel from that oreo cake.
and i love the picture of you and monica- y’all look great!

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11 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance August 7, 2011 at 4:28 am

This post has made me realize how much I truly miss smores :(

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12 Jumanah @ Healthy Living in the Middle East August 7, 2011 at 5:03 am

OMG that oreo cake looks divine!

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13 Aine @ Something to Chew Over August 7, 2011 at 5:12 am

I’d like to try some snacktivities! :)

Safe trip home!

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14 Holly @ The Runny Egg August 7, 2011 at 5:12 am

I would have loved to talk to her about money! I too love that topic and learning more and getting smarter about money is definitely something that I’m working on.

That food looks incredible!

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15 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes August 7, 2011 at 6:00 am

Fig and honey yogurt sound amazing! so does the smores…oh mah gosh I would love one right now! Glad you had fun. Safe flight this morning! :)

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16 Kate August 7, 2011 at 6:14 am

Oh my gosh, I can’t WAIT for that new yogurt to come out!! fig + honey sounds so authentically greek haha. Have a good flight home (luckily it’s shorter going east!)

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17 Lauren August 7, 2011 at 6:18 am

Go Oikos for coming out with a new flavor! And a very delicious sounding one at that. Glad you are having fun Kath.

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18 Rebekah @ Medicine, Munchies and Movement August 7, 2011 at 6:20 am

That oreo pie looks so beautiful! I’m glad you were able to go to the conference and share your experience. It looks like you had a fantastic time!

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19 Living, Learning, Eating August 7, 2011 at 6:25 am

Wow, that oreo pie looks *amazing*, I want some! :)

I heard marshmallows are going to be the next big dessert trend…I hope not, FroYo is way yummier!

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20 kaila @ healthy helper! August 7, 2011 at 6:40 am

I have that same exact little grill and lazy susan! We make smoores on it ALL the time in the summer!!!
That yogurt sounds so good! I LOVE figs!!!

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21 Simply Life August 7, 2011 at 6:52 am

oh my gosh, those scallops and risotto look like heaven on a plate!

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22 CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com/ August 7, 2011 at 6:59 am

The Hershey Snacktivity looks really fun! Have you ever visited Hershey itself? They have a design your own chocolate bar exhibit at The Hershey Story. If you are in the area, you should definitely check it out! :-)

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23 KathEats August 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

I have been!

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24 Cait @ Beyond Bananas August 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

Oreo pie and smores! Amazing! I was just talking about how much I wanted a s’more last night!

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25 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 7, 2011 at 7:46 am

Enjoy your last morning of sessions and smooth travels for you back home.

Bananas foster AND oreos are 2 of my fave desserts/recipes…I have both on my site in various forms and ways :)

You both look awesome and love the yellow bags!

“Blackened over mini fires in the Hershey’s Snacktivity suite”– I need to order this for my house. Not even kidding.

20% savings?! whoa. They don’t live in CA..haha! People are losing their homes, their jobs, and everything…they don’t have 1 cent extra to live here, let along save 1% . Or 10 or 20% but it’s a great goal! :)

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26 Baking N Books August 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

I was thinking the same thing! 20% isn’t realistic for a lot of people. Those who can are lucky! I have a lot (a lot) of student loan debt – so essentially I can’t put anything into savings…although I do put some “away” each pay cheque – it’s more for an “emergency” fund, or when I have to pay in my taxes (which I pay a lot in).

Makes me sad when I literally see the thousands of dollar that go into my loans -each month – (for the next 10 years at least) – that I could actually be saving. I’d be a millionaire at retirement! If anyone knows how to get out of loans – let me know please! :) Desperate…

On another note, ohmygod- oreo!

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27 Jennifer August 7, 2011 at 8:06 am

After seeing the pics of The Hershey’s Snacktivity Suite it has left me speechless. :) I’ve never seen anything like that and I would not have left that room either. :)

Hope you have a safe flight back. I bet you can’t wait to get back to the bakery and GH bread.

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28 Lindsay August 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

I’m getting a new phone soon! I’m thinking the iPhone 4…what kind of phone are you looking to get and what do you think of the iPhone 4?

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29 KathEats August 7, 2011 at 8:51 am

I would absolutely go Android – I think they are so much more user friend, ESPECIALLY if you are a Gmail and G-cal user!

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30 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 8:29 am

Actually, 10% towards retirement is an ‘old school’ number. In today’s financial climate, experts are strongly recommending AT LEAST 15% towards retirement. Don’t get too caught up in short term volatility with the stock market and know over the long term you will end up with a lot more than if you had not entered into any type of organized retirement vehicle. Previously, 10% would have been good to pair with Social Security and Medicare; however, anyone who has not attained the age of 60 by the year 2010 really should not count on those services being available to them long term, as they are projected to ‘dry up’ our lifetime. On top of that 15%, a minimum of six months living expenses should be in savings for an unexpected job loss. In addition to that amount some savings would be prudent for emergencies, home and automobile repairs and then for vacations and wants. Don’t spend money on things you have not saved for–in the long run, you will live a happier, less stressful life. For those who say they don’t have anything extra to save, now is the time to soul search what you really do need and what you can do without to begin living within your means. A successful approach is to immediately take those non-negotiable savings out of your pay first, then live daily on what you have left. If it is not enough, you need to assess scaling down your lifestyle and possibly moving to a smaller place. The cost of cable television would not be so high if everyone had not bought into it. Maybe if everyone gave it up, there would be more on network television. Possibly, you might just have to temporarily give up some things, and always stick to your plan to achieve your goals. If you cannot immediately jump into it, begin to slowly shift to that direction with small changes possibly quarterly or twice a year. If you are just entering into the workforce from school, take those amounts out off the top of your pay because you are not used to having that income anyway so you should not have become accustomed to that lifestyle anyway and you won’t miss it. Then pay off any student loans and live a lifestyle on what you have left.

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31 Baking N Books August 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

But you have to pay the student loans first though – that’s “mandatory” bills-right?

So wouldn’t you pay all your bills – and then see what’s left over to put towards savings?? Retirement savings is out of the question for me. I pay $1500 in student loans each month – and will be for a long time ($120 k student loan debt)…so the best I can do is just put a little away for emergencies.

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32 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 9:06 am

No, always pay yourself first. Unfortunately, there is no way out of student loans; however, they are designed with low interest. Consider yourself fortunate to have the ‘priceless’ education which you can use to climb your way up in the workforce with higher salaries. As you earn increases in your salary, treat them as more money towards student loans. If you are just graduating and have not already purchased a house, you might have to consider going back home and living with your family (if that is an option) until you have the six months of living expenses and emergency savings in place after the non-negotiable 15% retirement off the top. Alternately, living within your means might require you to do things you might not be happy with, but will ultimately make you a happier, care free and less stressed over the long term. If you have already purchased a home, you might have to take on boarders or roommates or get an additional job (moonlighting). Unfortunately, it has already been projected that the young generation just graduating now will be living a much different lifestyle as their parents had. Being extremely frugal and fiscally responsible will be the norm, or you will ultimately fail miserably. There will not be any social programs (at least not in the United States) available at retirement age for those just entering into the workforce today–so don’t count on it and save for that time in your life. If they are available, then it will just be a bonus for you. Nobody looks out for you as well as yourself!

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33 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

When I started out that last comment about ‘paying yourself first’, I was referring to putting that AT LEAST 15% into an organized retirement vehicle (401K, 403B, IRA, etc.).

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34 Baking N Books August 7, 2011 at 9:16 am

I have been out of school for 3 years. I’m 30 years old – I will not be living with my parents -trust me. I am solely responsible for myself.

I also don’t consider myself fortunate for the education – because I hate my job (and profession). I was encouraged and pushed into it because of good grades, potential, etc. But it’s not what makes me happy period. Unfortunately, no other job is going to back pay my loans. And going back to school is never an option.

I’m just trying to do the best I can with my finances.

Thanks for your response though.

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35 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

Not wanting to ruffle anyone, it was not my intention to accuse all of the young people graduating now that their parents were irresponsible, I simply forgot to spell out ‘generation’ the second time after parents. Should have read: …will be living a much different lifestyle as their parent’s generation had. I wish everyone prosperity and a comfortable life.

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36 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

I’m with you, the prices of a lot of things would not be what they are now and taxes would not be as high if the government had not been recklessly spending like ‘drunken sailors’ for so many years. It is unfortunate that your generation will be paying dearly for it. For decades, salaries have not matched ‘percentage wise’ with a lot of things including salaries and bonus packages of some, inflation, and the price of goods–it is completely out of scale. Something was bound to give, and I believe that time is upon us. It is hard times for everyone. My comments are meant to only encourage the young to take a hard look at their money, make a plan and stick to their goal. It is going to hurt, but times are different now even as things are unfolding in the past so many days, and the sooner everyone wakes up and gets on board with that plan, the better off they will be down the road (health wise too because stress is not good). Sure not everyone will be excited by working multiple jobs or having to live with strangers or do other things to be frugal until they can get on track, but as soon as you can get ahead, you can eliminate those options. In an ideal world everyone would love what they do daily, but sometimes we have to just make the best of bad situations. A positive attitude can (and trust me WILL) open doors you had not even seen coming. Hang in there–at least the blog world cares!

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37 Barb August 7, 2011 at 9:30 am

Always so curious about finances and the “shoulds” involved. So, in your opinion, saving 15% towards retirement (we have our emergency savings intact) is the base percentage? Is this based on gross income or net income each month?

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38 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

Gross income (before taxes), and then depending on how that is set up it will be going into that vehicle non-taxed to being a greater number initially to grow over time. For hypothetical numbers, you won’t even really be missing that much from your net pay, and it is even set up that the government wants you to save with this carrot. If you look at it this way, it might feel even better. Just for even round number examples, I will use 10% retirement and 30% for all taxes for this scenario. If you pay is $300, and you take 10% off the top ($30), adjusted gross is $270 and taxes on that $270 would be $81 with a net of $189 take home pay. Alternately, if you had not taken that 10% retirement out at all, the net after taxes would be $210, so your pay is only $21 less for the $30 that will greatly grow over your adult life into a nice nest egg (look at it as a free $9 into your retirement on top of what you are saving).

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39 Barb August 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

Thanks! My husband hates looking at finances and I get worried and try to make sure we’re doing what we need to do, but don’t really know what I’m doing…except to save more! We both have pre-tax investments set up and he has a 403b, so I’m wanting him to put the extra away as he will get a matching amount and I don’t have that option where I work. Are your a financial advisor?

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40 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

IF ANYONE HAS THE GREAT FORTUNE TO BE WITH AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS STILL OFFERING MATCHING AMOUNTS TOWARDS RETIREMENT YOU WOULD BE FOOLISH TO NOT BE PUTTING THE MAXIMUM MATCHED AMOUNT IN–TALK ABOUT FREE MONEY. Might be hard now, but you will be thankful in the future.

No, just living life getting kicked in the pants and wanting to be realistic about being able to survive taking care of myself in retirement…scary prospect with as grim as things are becoming. Am I practicing what I am preaching? Unfortunately, no, but am trying to work my way towards that goal. Also, I care about other people not missing the boat on doing that for themselves.

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41 Barb August 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

Unfortunately, it’s not matching funds, but it’s something and it’s not coming out of our pocket! :-) Yeah, unfortunately, I’m jumping on the bandwagon late. Was single and a school teacher until 40. My savings was owning my own home. When I met my husband, we had to finish paying off his grad school loans as he went back to school later as an adult. However, we’re lucky to own our home (with the bank), have no credit card debt, and live comfortably within our means. However, I’m afraid that we aren’t always putting away as much as we could. Like you, I’m trying to be realistic about what the future holds. My retirement is with the state, and I’ve heard too many scary stories on tv about people losing their pensions after working for a county/state organization for 30 years.

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42 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I am one of them. So far, not losing it entirely, but in the past three years, it has been modified twice (and not towards the recipient’s benefit). Surely, I can understand there is becoming a realization that people are living longer and drawing on it longer so adjustments might have to be made; however, those adjustments should be known going into it and not when you are getting ready to count on it. Any necessary changes to a pension plan should be in effect for those beginning employment from that day forward so they know ahead of time. It just seems criminal to me changes need to be made because of mismanagement. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any accountability. Moral of the story, don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.

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43 Barb August 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for all your input. Wishing you the best!

44 Susan August 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

This is all really good advice. Living within your means is good, but if you can, I think living below is even better. I’m in my late 30s and have friends who are younger and older than me who do not seem to understand this. On the surface, they seem like smart people. But then I see how they spend their money and I know why they claim to be poor or why they worry about paying for college tuition.

I had roommates for several years before I met my BF and we bought a home. Not because I couldn’t afford a place of my own, but because I wanted to save more. And that helped tremendously when it came time to buy a house.

We splurge every now and then, but I feel we’re both pretty frugal. We could have bought a nicer, bigger house and we could be driving new cars, but we just don’t feel the need. We have retirement savings through work, we save 20% of our take-home pay most months, pay extra on our mortgage (aiming to have it paid off in less than 20 years) and drive older cars with no payments.

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45 Mary Frances August 15, 2011 at 10:15 pm

You are very wise and will live a longer, happier life. Not having financial worries and feeling good about your decisions makes for better relationships and sleep patterns resulting in least risk of diseases and a healthier life. Also, when your house is paid off, that is the time you can do or have the more frivolous or indulgent things. I do like your ‘below’ mentality–excellent plan!

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46 Allison August 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Quick note: don’t buy into the idea that social security and Medicare are going to actually dry up in our lifetime. That line of thinking is propagated by people who don’t want these programs to exist in the first place. Once we return to taxing people at pre-2001 levels (which is still less than any other developed country in the world, and which we’ll ultimately realize we have to do because we’ll no longer be a “developed” country for very long if we don’t), SS and Medicare will be fine again.

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47 Lynda @ healthy hoboken girl August 7, 2011 at 8:47 am

Such a nice weekend…have a safe trip back! What do you have packed for snack?

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48 Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me August 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

Yum! I love Stonyfield. The only yogurt I eat!

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49 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen August 7, 2011 at 9:01 am

From s’mores to dinner to dessert, all of that food looks delicious!
I have a serious obsession with spreadsheets and finances too. We have our monthly “finance” discussion this week and I get excited thinking about it. <–Dork.

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50 Emily August 7, 2011 at 9:23 am

Looks like such an awesome day and a great conferences. What has gotten you so into budgeting and finances? I am still in grad school and living at home so I don’t necessarily have too many expenses but I really want to get motivated and on the right track for when I graduate and start working in a year!

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51 KathEats August 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

I think realizing if I didn’t manage them no one would! When I graduated from college, I went through a few years where I never spent too much or more than I made, but I really didn’t monitor money at all. It was when I went back to school and money got tighter that I realized I needed to really watch it – and because I’m go big or go home – that mean really watching it. I made a budget that I hated and then finally found a budget that I love using. And then that made me really want to save more and more.

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52 Emily August 7, 2011 at 10:28 am

I have a mint account that I think I need to get a little more obsessed with! Thanks for the inspiration!

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53 Anna August 7, 2011 at 9:25 am

Brie risotto??? I have to try that.

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54 Cait's Plate August 7, 2011 at 9:35 am

Oh my. The Snacktivity Station!? That literally is like heaven on earth!

And that oreo pie with the caramel spilling over the top?? Amazing.

Also – love your dinner outfit and yours and Monica’s matching yellow purses, so cute :)

So happy you’re having a blast!

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55 Amy* August 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thanks for sharing the tidbit about savings! I’m really interested in it, too.*

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56 katie @KatieDid August 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

that sphere of drizzled chocolate (or at least thats what it looks like) is the coolest thing ever and I have no clue how one would make such a thing! Money tends to stress me out, but probbaly because I’m still in college making minimal money and racking up the student loans on a daily basis….ugh!

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57 Mary Frances August 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

A balloon… then pop it after the chocolate hardens briefly in the fridge. Don’t keep it in the fridge too long or the chocolate can turn spotty white.

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58 Maren August 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

Oh smores are the best!

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59 Molly @ RDexposed August 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

My mouth is watering after looking at your scallops!

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60 Angel7 August 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I think I would like the new Fig + Honey Oikos. I like the taste and texture of figs.

http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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61 Amelia (Eating Made Easy) August 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I came away from the Mobile Media session realizing I want a new phone too!! And I am so with you on being fascinated by finances. It’s such a satisfying topic to have interest in, because you can so quickly see quantitative results from your planning and saving changes. Loooove mint.com!

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62 Lexi @ A Spoonful of Sunshine August 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Smores are most definitely on the agenda tonight at our family bonfires! I <3 bonfires !!

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63 Margo @ peanut butter trees August 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

all I can say about that oreo pie — WOW

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64 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats August 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm

That Oikos looks delicious! I’ll definitely have to try it! Will it be in stores soon?

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65 Hilary August 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Um, Snacktivity suite?!?! Yes PLEASE! Looks like an amazing weekend!

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66 Laura @ Backstage Balance August 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm

It doesn’t get much better than S’mores, does it? Looks delicious!
How cool that you got to try out the new Stonyfield flavor. I love figs, so I think I’ll have to try this once it hits the shelves in my area!

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67 Katie M. August 8, 2011 at 12:48 am

I love your outfit! It’s very cute!

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68 Jill in Chicago August 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

This post and the comments make me want to start using mint.com – I’ll check it out!

Also, I have to add that I love my American Express card, and have always had great experiences with the company and their customer service (not to mention being able to link my points earned directly to Amazon heeey-yo!) I love that they sponsored people to attend Blog Her and have a connection to someone like the lovely Miss Thakor!

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69 Sonya August 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

That portable grill thingy for the marshmallow!! I need it! Sorry, I just love roasted marshmallows and the opportunity doesn’t always come around. This would be great! Do you have any information on it? Thank you!

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70 Megan August 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Fig & Honey Oikos!? YUM. Did they share an ‘in stores’ date with you? I don’t think my Whole Foods has it yet.

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