Thursday, April 6, 2017

Emma, please say “yes”


I think my high school boyfriend asked me to prom by saying something like, “Hey, want to go to prom?” in the middle of a crowded high school cafeteria. (The answer was “yes” in case you’re wondering).

Kids today are under so much more pressure to pull out all the stops and do something cool (Yikes! I just learned that the average amount of money spent on a so-called promposal ranges from $218-$431(!) with an additional $515 to $738 spent on prom itself. I’m hoping this is per couple at least and thrilled that the Midwest comes in at the lower end of each of those ranges. Thank you Visa and seventeen magazine for those fun facts).

Arizona student Jacob Staudenmaier has topped them all with his prom invitation that recreates the opening sequence of  La La Land (which sadly, I cannot get to copy into this post so you’ll have to click through to indiewire to watch). I’m guessing that Jacob topped the averages listed above, but when your target date is Emma Stone, I guess you pull out all the stops.

 I hope Emma says “yes.” (And Jacob, didn’t you have homework to do???).

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Back to the future

Who doesn’t love to predict what the technology of the future will look like? I’m often struck by how many changes happened in our grandparents’ generation—my husband’s grandma fondly remembered when they first got indoor electricity and plumbing—and even in our own. My kids can’t really conceive of life before the Internet and DVDs and a time when a calculator that could only do basic math was a pretty exciting birthday gift.

A friend who’s a long-time employee of GM recently sent me this video from the General Motors archives. It was made in the ’50s and envisioned what the cars of 1976 would look like. Although their predictions were sadly off base in terms of timing (I would have loved a car that could keep ice cream cold when I was growing up!), in some ways they were amazingly prescient.

Tags: , ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Monday, March 20, 2017

Enjoy the path of least resistance

Yesterday’s New York Times had an intriguing article about a bride who planned her wedding in just five days (I’m guessing this article has been forwarded by many MOBs (mothers of brides) who are stressed out by the wedding planning process). While I don’t know that I would like to attempt to pull off such a big day in such a short amount of time, I did appreciate the bride’s way of determining what was important to her and fully intend to borrow her insights in the future:

With each social expectation for weddings, I asked myself: “Does this achieve the goal of making the people at my wedding feel loved and appreciated for the role they play in my life? Will it help strengthen my marriage and the promises we made to each other?” If the answer was no, I didn’t waste any more time.

I now appreciate applying this to other areas of life. Is where we go to dinner eternally significant? If not, it’s not worth arguing over. Do party favors for the barbecue you’re giving matter? Probably not. Enjoy the path of least resistance. If it truly represents the most important elements of your life and relationship, put time, energy and creativity into it. If not, do yourself a favor and skip the stress.

I’m not someone who tends to stress out over party favors and picking the perfect restaurant, but have undoubtedly wasted too much energy on equally mundane things. I think I’ll make “enjoy the path of least resistance” my new mantra!

Tags: ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less


For the last few years, people I know and love (and, more important, whose reading tastes I trust), have been raving about A Man Called Ove. I tried to read it and was almost immediately turned off by its “grumpy old man who will undoubtedly have his heart touched by the end of the book” approach.

That book went back, but I put it on hold at the library because so many people continued to rave, and my name finally made it to the top of the list. I’ve now sort of sped read my way through it and here’s my take: it was ok.

Yes, there were poignant moments. And yes, there were times that I got a bit teary. And, yes, Ove does have his heart touched by the end of the book. But I, like the grumpy old man of the title, was a hard sell. I’m still not completely sold, but as Ove would likely say (if he were a real person and not a made-up character) the author wasn’t a complete twit.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less

I just came across this fascinating article in Atlas Obscura about the “Nansen Passport.”

It’s a pretty short article—pop out and give it a read—but in a sentence, it’s about a man named Fridtjof Nansen who created a special passport that stateless people could use to safely cross borders in the global tumult between World Wars I and II.

An idea whose time may have come again? 

Tags: ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Friday, February 3, 2017

More thoughts on happiness

I was so tickled last week to hear from Hazel Garcia. Hazel works at investmentZen.com and had come across a post I did about whether money could buy happiness. Hazel was working on an info graphic about the topic, which she kindly shared (see below), along with some thoughts about savings. I don’t mean for this to be a plug for investmentZen (about which I know almost nothing!), but thought you’d get a kick out of Hazel’s insights. Here they are (and thanks for reading Hazel!).

 

You’ll be happier if you spend your money on experiences, rather than things.

It’s no secret that we love to buy stuff. In our consumer culture, getting that fancy new phone, the shiny new tablet, the brand new pair of shoes, that hot new car – it’s all par for the course.

But does it really make us happy? Is there a way we could spend money in a way that maximizes happiness?

At InvestmentZen.com, we spend a lot of time thinking about money and how it impacts happiness, so we decided to take a closer look at the research and figure out how you could spend money in a way that makes you happier. We came across some interesting findings that objectively showed us that spending money on experiences will make you happier than buying material things.

Of course, we also believe you should save as much money as possible and use it to buy your freedom, but that’s a topic for another time!

Here’s why spending money on experiences will make you happier than spending money buying stuff:

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Monday, January 23, 2017

I’m not messy, I’m trending!

When I was a kid, I was incredibly fond of a cookbook my mom had gotten as a wedding gift, The General Foods Kitchen Cookbook. This must have been the cookbook of 1959 as my mother-in-law—also a 1959 bride—had a copy too (which is now gracing my shelves).

It’s one of those cookbooks where all the food is perfectly photographed, kitchens are spotless and there are handy tips for handling every entertaining challenge you’re likely to encounter (A personal favorite: How to turn a meal for two into a meal for three when your husband runs into his army buddy who’s in town for just one night and they arrive home, ready for a delicious homemade meal, without a warning phone call. We are advised to add a can of corn to our package of Lima beans so that they can make a “proud showing.” I love that).

I was reminded of that cookbook last week when I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about catalog companies’ attempts to hit the right note of “messy” when capturing today’s ideal house. I confess to a certain amount of joy when I realized that my floppy couch pillows are a fashion statement, not just messy looking. Hooray!

I was going to say “oh, how times have changed,” but then I realized that “Susie’s” kitchen (I can’t think of her as anything else for some reason) actually features a dirty pan. A nice bit of real that I’d never noticed before.

 

 

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thank you, Mr. Morton

I’ve never had the chance to meet Steve Morton personally—though I once saw him get an award for supporting the great work of Safe Harbor (check them out—they are making a critical difference for abused children in our area). But if I ever do, I will certainly thank him for making the Morton County Forest a reality.

Morton, a Madison native and UW-Madison alum, not only donated the land for the forest—property that has been in his family since 1953—he also donated $15,000 to have shelters built on the property and created a $230,000 permanent endowment to ensure the forest can be maintained on an ongoing basis.

I first visited the park in late October, during one of those preternaturally nice fall Saturdays  we can only dream about now. And my husband and I had the chance to visit it again after the first snowstorm in December. Amazingly we were the only people there that day—perhaps a combination of a steepish drive on a snow-covered road and, oh yeah, the possibility that it might have been hunting season in the hills nearby (though I see from the article referenced above that hunting is prohibited except in special circumstances).

If you haven’t discovered Morton County Forest for yourself, I highly recommend you visit. And don’t forget a tip of the hat to Mr. Morton when you do.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, December 15, 2016

We non-hunters DO have a sense of humor

I am not a hunter. I have nothing against hunting and am related to some lovely people who like to spend their free time doing it, but my desire to sit perched in a frigid tree stand waiting hours for a deer to wander by is exactly zero.

I am, in truth, the kind of person this hilarious video mocks. But at least I know it (right?).

Something from this company will likely need to be under the Christmas tree of someone I know!

 

Tags: ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The incredible, edible…spoon?


I confess: I have used a fair amount of plastic ware in my life. If we were measuring landfill impact it wouldn’t come anywhere close to my disposal diaper levels (sorry–kind of!) but I certainly contributed my fair share. I try to be more mindful now if I’m bringing a meal somewhere or going on a picnic but I’d be lying if I said that disposables were no longer part of my life.

That’s why I was tickled to hear about Narayana Peesapaty and his edible spoons. Peesapaty is an Indian scientist who’s spent the last decade experimenting with alternatives to plastic who came up with a line of spoons inspired by roti—a common flatbread. His spoons are made largely from sorghum, a grain that’s gluten-free and requires a lot less water to grow than rice and wheat.

After a lot of trial and error Peesapaty came up with an edible spoon in a variety of flavors—including plain and savory and sweet choices—and is currently turning out more than 30,000 spoons a day at his small, family-owned company, Bakeys Foods Private Limited.

Peesapaty has bigger dreams, which include biodegradable cups and plates made from the straw left over from wheat and rice harvests—that contributes to the dangerous levels of air pollution in many large Indian cities—and international distribution (If you have a Wall Street Journal account, Google “Can an Edible Spoon Save the World?” or learn more at this Business Insider article—apparently the spoons are pretty tasty and hearty too).

It will probably be a while until we see these spoons stateside—in the meantime, check out this amusing alternative in A Spoon for Every Bite.

 

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less

Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

I love to learn about new things. And I love to tell a good story. Let’s get together and tell yours!

More about Vicky

“Vicky is one of the best writers I’ve worked with. She provides a high quality product on time and is a joy to work with. Vicky is able to take complex financial subjects and turn them into readable prose.”

Jim Jerving, Editorial Director
LendKey

More testimonials