Thursday, September 20, 2012

Becca


Check out the video here or click on the photo above to go to the site! Yes, not only is she featured on the Web page, but she had a cameo. I'm still laughing. She seems much more composed than I could ever be and looks great in it. I especially love the quick smile at the end. 

The video is certainly much better than our childhood days of "It just keeps coming in." Click on the photo below to check out that lovely advertisement...
Did anyone else inappropriately think "That's what she said" after every viewing?  

I am still a bit annoyed with my father about that commercial. I  had just gotten back to Worcester after a fun weekend in Boston with my high school gfs. I felt gross, had been sleeping on the ground for the past few days in a sleeping bag and I was congested because of the cat at the apartment. I looked like hell, no make-up, and was wearing the last items in my sleepover bag. My mother picked me and my gf up from the train station in Worcester and instead of going home, we went to my Dad's work to film a commercial. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Still upset about the lack of a heads up. Those lines were memorized right then and there. Legit, that might have been a second run-through. Why isn't my memory that wonderful now? Studying for the GMAT would be 87% easier.

Update: That commercial is still airing. This is one of those hand hitting head, groaning, staring at Dad incredulously and laughing. He claims it's a great commercial... It does have a certain marketable stickiness.  In fact, Becca used to get followed around stores when we were younger because people recognized her from the commercial! I'm going to convince him ASAP to let me create a new one. Becca and Jules be ready at Thanksgiving. Marisa, are you finally ready for your debut? 




"Does It Work?"

Pawn Broker - Installment III


In stores one of the most common questions is: Does it work?

Of course it works. We do not even consider taking in an item without making sure it works. We would not want a broken item as much as you would not want a broken item. No pawnshop is willing to pay hard earned cash to attain something they could find in a junk yard; moreover, no pawnshop is willing to pay hard earned cash for something they couldn’t turn around and get rid of through selling.

Majority of merchandise found in pawn shops on sales floors are pre-owned, this does not mean that they are worthless items. The pawn shop is the ideal place for economics majors. At one point this floor item was either bought by the pawn shop, or the loan was left outstanding for a substantial amount of time. An item may be pre-owned but the longer the store sits on the item, the longer the store clerks allow the item to depreciate or in the case of gold recently appreciate. They’re going to price an item when it goes on the floor for what they think it is worth to the average customer. If a customer comes in and the clerks have been sitting on the item for awhile, they are probably more likely to sell the item at a cheaper price; however, the store owners are usually (and understandably) not willing to go lower than what they took it in for.

It’s a hard concept to explain to a customer when they’re asking, “How come you’re loaning me a dollar when you can turn around and sell it for three?” Well, the two dollar difference pays for utilities, storage, postage, payroll, accountants, etc. but most importantly, security of your item. Those two dollars just got stretched a long way… and of course you expect the pawn broker to make enough to get by, so they can continue giving out loans. The economics of the business holds the pawn brokers accountable, almost to the point of saying they are more honest than the average bank that is backed by the government with empty hands.

Well, how about an item that doesn’t really devalue? Like Jewelry. “I paid thousands for this ring, I expect thousands for it now.” Thinking it devalues or appreciates, is not the way a pawn broker looks at items on the loaning side of the business. The pawn broker determines what they believe the true value is. Brand name items might sell in the store, but a pawn shop could never find another customer readily willing to pay what it was initially worth. So what is jewelry really worth to the pawn broker? Weight in gold? Clarity of Diamond? All Jewelry is based on 4 Cs: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat. Every diamond that comes in to a pawn shop is tested, even unmarked gold is tested. Gold is paid for usually within a percentage to the gold rate on that particular date. 

The real question the pawn broker asks himself in the end is: What good is one more ring to me? The answer is: none. The pawn broker is there to serve the customer and receive a small percentage skimming over the top to eventually help the business’ bottom line. If the customer is selling or trying to acquire a loan on an item, it is always best that they come in with a price in mind. Not just saying, “I want to get rid of it, what will you give me for it?” As aforementioned, the answer would be: nothing. A pawn broker becomes a packrat of sorts filling rooms with items that they personally do not want or need. It is always better if the customer comes in for a loan thinking realistically, knowing the pawn broker doesn’t really want their item, saying, “I really am trying to acquire ___$ can you help me with that” and then go from there. The customer will get much further in negotiating than if just asking “what will you give me for it.” It’s a yes or no, and if taking out a loan, that’s what it is all about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shirt Crafting

I have always been big into re-designing clothes. Like cutting my favorite old jeans into jorts or making them into a skirt. The skirt was awesome because I took the time to sew on lace around the edge and time to embroider it with a cute design. Jean skirts were all the rage in middle school and high school. While I love that skirt, I am glad I'm past that fad for now. Last night I was a bundle of energy and needed a project. So, I took an old fagged out shirt from The Loft. I had been meaning to recreate it as a pillow, but made it into a cute tank using the method everyone has been pinning. I hate when shirts wear out, drives me cray!

Cute right? Decent way to get more wear out of that fagged out top!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saratoga, NY

I really have been traveling New England these past few days. Moving Bec and Jules into college was intense. RI and NH in one weekend. MA, ME and NY the next. A lot of driving. Hopefully, no tree hungers are reading this post! (sorry becca)

I went to Troy, NY not Saratoga; albeit, we did take a day trip to shop! We went to Saratoga Sundress and a few other shops. Rachel bought a few things and even scored her favorite jeans from the GAP - "these make girls with a bootie look great! Right?!" I love her. She is always a blast to be with. More importantly, she ordered the most amazing hot apple cider and was willing to share.

Rachel lives in Troy, NY with her bf Jeff while she is attending RPI. She's a smarty pants engineer who works at a mushroom factory. You can laugh, I do. Regardless of laughter, it is a really cool business concept. You know the packing peanuts? (the styrofoam nuggets that you sometimes receive in packages?) The company she works for, mass produces bio degradable peanuts, the material used: mushrooms. And get this, it is not only Eco-friendly, but cheaper to use! Amaze-balls!

Anywho, Jeff passed the test, he could handle both Marga and I visiting at once. He even made Marga a flourless chocolate cake - she just learned she's a glutard. We'll just have to see how he handles Marisa... I loved his apartment, it was very organized. Even his cat was enjoyable.

For those that don't know, I am scarily allergic to cats; not an I "need an epi pen, get me to a hospital" scary, but an "my face is congested and bulky, my eyes are ready to fall out with the tears" scary. I took sudafed and was happily medicated the entire trip. I even joyfully petted Molly until she got off my pillow each morning.

She's an odd cat. As Rachel explained, apparently she had a rough time at a different apartment. This was because her owner (not Jeff) lives with a roommate who has two cats. These two cats would gang up on her. So she would hide in the bathroom tub. The other cats hated water and would leave her alone in there. Pulls on your heart strings a bit, doesn't it? Anyways, Jeff being a wonderful host put her in the only room with a door, the bathroom. So my allergies would not be as bad that first night. Molly escaped as soon as I went to brush my teeth. I found her nestled up in my bed. It was a good idea and try.

Marga and I had a sing-a-long the entire way back from NY and even scored some fresh apples instead of McDonalds at a farmer's market - ideally set up at a rest stop!

It was an exceptional weekend in NY.

Meal 3 Acorn Squash

Sorry, I know. I need to post more photos of the prep work. I'll do it next time. I was so hungry and it was so good that I couldn't wait! This meal takes about 45 mins if you're multi tasking each dish and time it right!

Entree
Maple salmon
17 mins at 400 degrees

Side - Stuffed shells
Boil shells and stuff with a mixture of:
Egg yolk
Marscapone 3 tbl
Ricotta 1C
Two cups cooked spinach
Teaspoon of pepper, garlic, onion powder, itallian mix powder
Then pour spaghetti sauce in a covered baking pan, place the shells in the pan, cover with extra sauce.
Bake 30 mins at 400 degrees.

Veg
Acorn squash
Cut in half, scrap out middle gunk with spoon, score with knife.
Drizzle with honey about 2 tsp
Sprinkle about a tsp of cinnamon
Add light brown sugar if you have a sweet tooth, but this is really a sweet treat regardless!
Nuke in the microwave for 6-8 minutes until the outer shell is soft and malleable to touch.


Maine Adventures

I love spending time at the camp, but I easily get bored and consistently need new goals to accomplish - even when I'm supposed to be relaxing. My most recent success was building my bf a sign for his birthday.

Joe had given me bottle caps - I had been begging him all through college to collect them. I had wanted to make a Bentley sign out of them. He got them to me just around our graduation. - Bit late for my project.. So in my car, there were baggies full of bottle caps. His mother actually saw them when we were getting something from my car for countryfest. That was embarrassing, really looked like an alchie. Regardless, I figured I should use them for making a gift for Joe's Birthday. Especially since he was nice enough to give them to me!

I went to a wood scrap yard in Maine for the bottom piece and headed to lowe's for the border. It was hectic trying to figure out what to use on the bottle caps, hot glue? Plexiglass? This is when my Dad got involved. He loves projects just as much as I do, perhaps more. He just hates to admit it and grumbles a lot to fake it. I brought this fact up, and he grumbled. I stated giving him a hard time, "why can't we just have fun? I know you enjoy it. Doesn't always have to be a mission." I love playing the brat. My mother thought it was hilarious. He picked out a varnish wood glaze. We bought two packages - thankfully. For the rest of the trip whenever we did a family activity, my mother would laugh and say, "Are we having fun yet?"

I ended up using hot glue around the edge of the bottle caps to ensure they stayed in place. It was fun designing it, almost like a puzzle. I had trouble at first figuring out was to spell out/ design. Bentley, fishing, beer, Gannon, Joe, Joseph, JMG, it was a tough choice. But I settled on fishing. In the event he wants to pass it off to someone else, figured "fishing" would be the easiest. Luckily, he loves it. I I think it's tacky, but figured it was perfect for the recent grad's man pad.

Anyways, designing it turned out to be the easy part. Dad nailed in the sides, like I said, he Has to be involved with every project. He then helped with the varnish. We poured it over the bottle caps and then around the caps in the border. My dad went down to finish his cigar, but I stayed to watch as the varnish started leaking out the sides. I placed cups to catch the draining mess. My dad yelled up at me from his lawn chair, "leave it alone." Just trying to save our newly painted porch! (See our last Maine adventure post.) "Are we having fun yet?" The glue finally became tacky and started curing - it came out mint.

Taking off the newspaper was a process because everything stuck together. It was such a mess. Everyone's hands were sticky. My mother had to use gasoline, soap, and rubbing alcohol to get the glue off, which was a bit extreme considering all the product calls for is soap - if it comes in contact with skin. "Are we having fun yet?" Albeit, gloves would have been a bright idea.

My father then burned the newspapers in the fireplace. For some odd reason the smoke was not going up the flue and the smoke built up and set off not one but two fire alarms. "Are we having fun yet?"

Yep, I think we are. Especially because everyone is laughing together at the absurdity.

I enjoyed helping Dad take the pontoon boat out of the water and kayaking around our lake front. I'll post more about that later.

The photos of people holding fish is my immediate family - going clockwise from the top left, me, Jules, Becca, Dad. There is an entire wall for my external family's trophy fish. A normal trophy fish for us is a 4-6 lb bass. We all love that camp :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blogging

I read this awesome article on ifb about blogging and copyrighting. Read the article here. I had always wanted to include some form of copyright ever since taking Digital Photography. I learned that anything one posts to Facebook is liable to end up in advertisements across the globe. I decided it was worthwhile to save the incredible photos for myself and just post the average ones!! While unethical, it is legal to use photos from Facebook. So, I am really happy I found this site through reading the article I linked above! http://creativecommons.org/choose/

Meal 2 Peanut Chicked

Entre
I had mixed reviews. Granted the third critic ate it re-heated and is extremely picky.

Need:

4 pieces boneless chicken
1/2 C peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 C milk
1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter melted
Cracker Crumbs (Ritz)


Step 1. Rinse chicken and then stick in a baggie with the flour to coat.
Step 2. Mix peanut butter, egg, salt and red pepper then blend in milk.
Step 3. Dip chicken in the mixture and place on a lightly coated plate. (I used a quick spray of PAM)
Step 4. Drizzle on butter, add crumbs

350 degree oven for an hour

Side
I had pre made half a box of pasta. I then added half of a large tomato in chunks after it had chilled in the fridge.

Veg
Zuchini cut in thin quarter inch circles
red pepper
olive oil
salt
garlic powder
ritz crackers

Bake at 350 for 30 mins




The Pawn Customer



A friend asked what the average customer is like and I can tell you no two customers are the same. It’s often comical the extremes of socioeconomic spectrums that can be observed in the store simultaneously. We have lawyers coming in for  their son’s new interest in musical instruments, we have daughters coming in to buy Rolex watches for their fathers, we have students buying calculators, contractors buying mass amounts of tools, the dyi husband in need of a drill, the businessman in need of a laptop, people buying Dvds, cds, game systems of all sorts. On any given day, we can have a professional violinist sitting in the store testing out different bows, truck drivers in need of a gps system, college students in need of a t.v., a husband in search of an anniversary diamond, kids in need of a replacement ipod, sound system, and/or new camera equipment. There are certainly no expectations set by a pawnshop employee as to who will walk in the door.

The average national Pawn Shop Customer is supposedly:
• Age: 36
• Household Income: $29,000
• 80% are employed
• 82% have high school diploma or GED
• 33% are homeowners
• All ethnicities

Pawn shops can act as a local hero for the walk-in customer:

“For over 250 years Pawn stores have been a solution for this exact type of short-term loan. If your credit is tight and bank account drained, a Pawn store will allow you to use something you own as collateral for a loan to get you to the end of the week.
Do you know that in America, more people have health insurance than access to a checking account? Do you know that an $80 Pawn loan for 30 days is less expensive than a bounced check, Utility reconnect fee, credit card late fee or payday loan?
A study released by the FDIC in February 2009 reported as many as 28 million un-banked and 44 million under-banked Americans. Other studies show that 32 percent of pawn customers borrow only twice per year to help cover unexpected expenses.
The Consumer Federation of America found that more than 50 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. When it comes to financial alternatives, pawn customers do not have many safe, convenient, regulated choices.
” 

Meal 1 Baked Salmon

Entree
I usually grill salmon, but the recipe picked said to bake. I hate trying new things in the kitchen when cooking for others. I like knowing something is going to work before I try it. This ended up being simple and tasted healthy, which everyone can appreciate!

Need:
Salmon slice
Maple Syrup
Honey
Lemon Pepper
Salt

Cook at 400 for 15-20 mins

Side
This would have tasted a billion times better if I had made it mashed instead of baked!

Sweet potato (microwave for 6-10 minutes)
Then cut open and add
Caramel Sauce
1tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter
3 tsp brown sugar
sliced marshmellows to cover - Microwave for 15 seconds

Veg
Asparagus
extra olive oil to drizzle
lemon pepper
2 slices bacon

I was dumb thinking more bacon the better. In reality, the bacon won't cook if it's really fatty. Winning. I'd suggest cooking it a bit before wrapping the asparagus bundle.  I put 6-10 asparagus in a bundle.

400 degrees for 12 minutes





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kraft V.S. Pawnbrokers


My Summer Job as a Pawnbroker – Installment 1

I have been asked a lot this summer, “Where are you working?” (I am currently working for my father when needed at his stores until I obtain a Marketing/Management role, or a position closely associated to the field I studied at Bentley.)  They then ask, “What does he do?” If asked I tend to take time to explain a bit, and they are usually intrigued. Shows like pawn stars have really done an admirable job of creating a more positive image for the pawn industry, trying to negate the negative image that has been painted with commercials, literature, and the film industry. However, some individuals are still blinded by the negative image that has been ingrained into public majority for decades upon decades. One flare up recently by Kraft and recent negative feedback from a relatively close comrade cut deep. Both humorously depicted Pawn Shops as the negative and seedy store fronts from the past. Both sources were highly uneducated in their depiction of the store and how it is run. 



First, let’s dispel the major flaws with the Kraft advertisement. No child i.e. anyone under the age of 18 could ever sell or pawn (take out a loan on an item) in a legal pawn shop. It is against federal law. Additionally, the idea that a Pawn Shop would willingly take in stolen goods is preposterous. I researched the likelihood of this occurring and learned that less than 1% proved to be stolen items, national average. Here is an interesting take on the industry theft possibility by our friends on the History Channel : The pawn stars.

As you can see, he/she would have to be a relatively incompetent crook if they were trying to get away with selling a stolen item to a Pawnbroker.  Not only are Pawn Shops trained to appraise items quickly. All items that a pawn broker takes in are submitted to a database with all of the loaner/seller’s information. This database is directly tied into the police stolen item reports. Security is tight on a store based level. Most stores use camera systems to film entire transactions, some even go so far as to take finger prints. The pawning industry is very highly regulated. They are regulated on an extremely local authority level, and also, state and federal levels.
“The pawn industry is a heavily regulated provider of consumer financial services. In addition to state licensure requirements and laws concerning the terms and conditions of pawn loans, pawnbrokers are subject to 13 federal laws. These federal, state, and, in some instances, local laws govern every aspect of pawn transactions including interest rates, loan duration, redemption methods, record-keeping and transaction reporting requirements”
For the record, as a marketing major, I relatively enjoy the Kraft advertisement. The advertising company did a great job with the color scheme, the message, the lines, and the actor choices. However, the advertisement took a stab at a very unstable industry with the popular public. A strong company such as Kraft did not need to nationally campaign by unintentionally knocking other industries down a few pegs. That would be the equivalent of the pawning industry asks what the girl wanted the money for and the little girl answering “organic healthy local food! Dad only buys Kraft.” and then depict all of the negative chemicals and/or demonstrating working conditions involved in the making of Kraft macaroni. Let’s go so far as to depict a piece of an employee’s hair slipping out of the plastic hat going into the pasta machine, or beads of sweat dropping into the cheese. Icckk!  Can you imagine? The advertisement is simply not a good example of business ethics; albeit, humorous.
This effort is a year old, but I am glad it was not just me who took offense to this commercial!

Monday, September 3, 2012

College Girls

Becca & Juliette are off to college. This was not without some classic Longvall Family zaniness. Becca's boyfriend came and helped us move the heavy things. He was only there for 20 minutes as he had to make a bus to get to a FB game, but he wanted to help my Dad move the fridge first as he knows my Dad has a bad back. Clearly, he's a winner so far. Bec's room is on the third floor at Salve Regina. I still hate that she can go on the cliffwalk when ever she wants. I feel like I would be such a different person if I had gone to school in Newport. I love it there. We went down to First Beach, which is close enough that she could walk to it from her dorm. We had Dell's Lemonade because you really can't go to a RI beach and fail to slurp some down. 

The Black Pearl was phenomenal. Best Lobster Salad I have had all summer. I was in heaven after I drank an IPA, sipped on some Clam Chowder, and nibbled on my Lobster. Who am I kidding. I slugged the beer, poured the soup like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and then scarfed down the Lobster Salad. It was that good. It's moderately pricey for a lunch meal, but it seriously was the best New England meal I had all summer. (Yep, beat out the squire!)


Dropping off Juliette was gorgeous as well. She is in NH at Colby Sawyer. It is gorgeously located with prime views of the mountains. I cannot wait to visit her this winter to ski/snowboard! We moved her in (she is thankfully on the first floor). Her room is small and was missing some furniture. Moving her in was somehow more involved than moving Becca in. Juliette though had brought less things with her. Go figure. We went to eat at the Flying Goose after. It is an adorable restaurant and apparently the first solar powered brewery in NH. We always purchase the onion rings and goose bread for apps. They are delicious items. The goose bread is a really hearty bread which tastes amazing on cold evenings. Juliette always gets a bowl of clam chowder, but Mom and I usually opt for one of the specials. This time Mom's special, Baked Alaskan Cod, was barely cooked! It was awful and made me question why I always think it has a amazing food. The waitress handled the situation perfectly, saying she was going to talk to the manager immediately, offered to take my mother to speak with him, and took the item off the bill. Completely saved my opinion of that gem of a restaurant. 

Juliette is still at home as we are picking up her friend from France today from Logan Airport and dropping them both off at college later this evening. It's so weird to think that I'll be the only one at home now with Mom & Dad. Hopefully, I'll send out applications this week and hear back from a few of them. I'm not terribly optimistic, most of my friends sent applications out to 200 locations. If I have sent out maybe 6 over the course of the summer, I still have 194 to go. Cross your fingers for me!