pen rainbow

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Saturday Trust—Name Your Beneficiary

Pay attention!  This is super important...

5 Beneficiary Form Mistakes to Avoid
Re: Insurance Annuties & Individual Retirement Accounts

Read this great article by on the importance of naming your beneficiary(ies).

"Otherwise capable and intelligent people don't always do proper estate planning because they don't want to address their own mortality."  
--Joel Larsen, Certified Financial Planner

Photo by

I can tell you from personal experience that it is vitally important to update the beneficiaries on your insurance and retirement accounts every time that there is a major life event, i.e. death of a beneficiary, a remarriage or a divorce.  

After his wife passed away, my dad tried to remove her name as a beneficiary from his 5-year select annuity life insurance policy, but the insurance company made it exceedingly difficult to complete the process.  He mailed in the form, but they said that it never arrived. So, he faxed it to them and confirmed that it was received, but they simply failed to process the paperwork.  When he followed up, he was told that he had not sent in the correct form.  They basically gave him the run-around for five years until he died.  

His wife's name was never removed, and when he passed away, the insurance company refused to acknowledge my claim.  Even though she had predeceased him by 5 years, and he had managed to update the beneficiary by naming the trust, the insurance company refused to acknowledge the legal authority of the trust, and the issue was forced into probate court.  

The judge granted our Set Aside Order to administer the estate, basically acknowledging that my dad had a Last Will & Testament that superseded the trust and established me as the Executor.  The insurance company accepted my authority as Executor of Estate and paid the claim.  

If my dad had named me as the beneficiary, all of that could have been avoided.

"The IRA beneficiary form overrides your will."  -- Neil Brown, CFP; CPA

The Big 5 Mistakes

Pay attention to these 5 beneficiary mistakes...

  • Outdated Forms — Update whenever there is a life event, i.e. the death of a beneficiary, a remarriage or a divorce
  • Naming Your Estate — This forces the issue into probate court.
  • No Financial Controls — Naming a minor child as a sole beneficiary is a big mistake without financial controls.  Ask for "restrictive beneficiary endorsements" on IRA or annuity policies.
  • Forgetting to Name a Guardian — If you name an underage child (under 18), and forget to name a guardian to oversee the assets until the child reaches legal age, the court will appoint a guardian.  If you are divorced, the court may appoint your ex if your ex is the biological parent.  

Even the most bulletproof beneficiary form won't help your heirs if they can't track it down after you pass away.  --

  • Missing Paperwork — Keep copies of your beneficiary forms with your important papers in a fire-proof safe.  Do not assume that the bank or insurance company will be able to locate their own copies.

Protect your estate by reviewing your beneficiary paperwork with a certified financial planner or a trust attorney to make sure that these forms reflect your wishes and adhere to federal and state laws.  Community property states, for instance, require a notarized release from a spouse if you wish to name someone other than your spouse as a beneficiary.  

Do the right thing & take care of your beneficiaries!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Photoshop Gallery—Make A Banner

This is harder than it looks...

Photoshop Tutorial by KevConcepts

I've been trying to figure out how to make banners for a while now, so I tried this YouTube tutorial today by KevConcepts™.

It's tricky, and I think that the hiccups are a result of using a CS version of Photoshop v. Photoshop6.

After several tries, I still don't have it down, but I knocked out a couple of decent banners.  I'll keep working on more banners for next week.

Rectangular marquee tool + Edit_Transform_Warp tool

I added a nice drop shadow to both banners

Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Mini-Post: Hot in Arizona! LOL

A great on-air improv by weatherman, Cory McCloskey

Wow!  2,385 degrees in Wickenburg!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for the Home: New GS Cookie Scented Merch!

Love this partnership between Yankee Candles & Girl Scouts of America

The 4 Most Popular GS Cookies In Candles

Thin Mints  $27.99 from Yankee Candles and from the GSUSA Online Shop

All of the apothecary jars sell for $27.99 each

Everybody's fave!

Coconut Caramel Stripes  $27.99 from the GSUSA Shop and Yankee Candles

Get some cookies to go with...

Chocolate Peanut Butter 

This is simply a GREAT idea!

Traditional shortbread Trefoils_$15.99 for the tumbler jars at the GSUSA online shop

Air Fresheners for Your Car

Don't forget these awesome cookie-scented car fresheners for $2.99 each from GSUSA Online

A must-have for every GS cookie manager!

Support your local GS troops!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Kevin&Amanda's Top 20 Faves 2014

From one of my favorite food & photo bloggers, Kevin {&} Amanda

Top 20 Most Viewed Recipes of 2014
Delicious & Spectacular!

Click HERE to see all of the recipes

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday—The Texting Dictionary Corner

Know your abbreviations & acronyms

Chalkboard texture by Kim Klassen
VT Portable Remington font by Susan Townsend on dafont
Image by dsmp

Popular Text & Internet Abbreviations

SMS (Short Message Service) aka Texting

  • AATK = Always At The Keyboard
  • AR = Action Required
  • AWHFY  = Are We Having Fun Yet?
  • BFF = Best Friends Forever
  • Cd9 = Parents are Around
  • DD_DS_DH_DW = Dear Daughter_Dear Son_Dear Husband_Dear Wife
  • EOM = End of Message
  • F2F = Face to Face aka Face Time
  • FUBAR = F*ed Up Beyond All Recognition
  • FYEO = For Your Eyes Only
  • FYG = For Your Guidance
  • GGN = Gotta Go Now
  • GR8 = Great!
  • HB2Y = Happy Birthday To You
  • HHOK = Ha Ha Only Kidding
  • HTH = Hope This Helps
  • IDK = I Don't Know
  • JK = Just Kidding
  • kk  = Okay
  • KPC = Keeping Parents Clueless
  • LET = Leaving Early Today
  • LOE = Leaving Office Early
  • MYOB = Mind Your Own Business
  • NFA = No Further Action
  • NM = No Message
  • NRN = No Reply Needed /Necessary
  • NVM = Nevermind
  • OATUS = On A Totally Unrelated Subject
  • OIC = Oh I See
  • OoO = Out of Office
  • ROFLOL = Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud
  • TLTR = Too Late To Respond
  • TTYL = Talk To You Later
  • YVW = You're Very Welcome

Click Here to look up more abbreviations on

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday—January Flowers

Spring has sprung in the San Francisco Bay Area

From my yard...

Hello, Daffodils!

Delicate white & yellow daffodils_photo by dsmp

Gorgeous yellow & orange daffodils

Lively all-yellow daffodils

Blooming in a row along our sidewalk

Hello, Camellias!

Double reds next to Caralee's window_photo by dsmp

Dark pink camellias next to the driveway

Hello, Artichokes!

One of our artichokes & a green lawn
I've also been cutting up oak branches for the compost
Here's to a beautiful Spring

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Saturday Trust—My Trust Organization Supplies

Start with the basics

I use these supplies for organizing my own trust files

On Amazon

IRIS 4-Piece Letter & Legal Size Clear File Box_$48.68 + free shipping_4 box set

This times 4

Lorell Legal /Letter Plastic File Box_Clear_1 box with lid_$15.89 + free shipping

Note that the Lorell lid is not the same as the IRIS boxes
Use the same boxes if you plan to stack your files
Also available at the Container Store

Pendaflex Hanging Folder, Assorted Colors_Letter Size_25/ Box with Tabs_PRIME_$19.99

I use Pendaflex hanging folders because they are stronger and easier to fold than the office supply store brands.  

Comes in many assorted colors on Amazon_free shipping

Pendaflex 2-Tone File Folders_Assorted Colors_Letter Size_100/ Box_$19.99 PRIME

Tri-cut tab tops

Smead also has a nice selection of jewel tone hanging folders ($11.99 PRIME) and matching tri-tab folders.  

Smead Jewel Tone Hanging Folders_PRIME
Matching colored tabs included
Smead jewel tone file folders come in multi-packs & individual colors
PRIME Eligible!

Pendaflex Hanging Folder Plastic Tabs_2" Letter Size_Assorted Colors_25/ pack_$5.76 + Free Shipping

Note: Jewel tone purple tabs are hard to read
2" letter size tabs are available in assorted colors by different brands

Have fun getting organized!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Photoshop Gallery—Type On A Shape

My PS projects from Kim Klassen's 2B Photoshop tutorials_Lesson 9 Type Love

Fun with Type & Shapes

I used 2 layers of type placed on circles that were slightly off-set.  Then, I used shades of sepia from the photo to add custom gradience to the type colors.  The sepia tone was added in Lightroom.

I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed.  These things, to me, are expressions of love.  --James Herriot

Sleepy Meekie

Type placed around a circle and inside of a shape

Fancy work with the type tool
More chalkboard fx using the blur filter tool
& Kim's chalkboard texture

"Anna" texture by Kim Klassen, plus a custom gradient by dsmp. "Pea Noodle's Girlfriends" free font by Kevin&Amanda

White winter rose

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home: DIY Gold Hangers

Turn your collection of multicolored plastic hangers into gold

January means closet makeovers!

I love this simple idea from blogger /designer, Melissa Direnzo, from The Sweet Escape, for sprucing up tired, colored plastic hangers in your closet.  Scroll over her before & after pix below...

Amazing what a little spray paint can do!
Photos by Melissa

How will they hold up with use?  No idea, but I love this inexpensive pick-me-up for turning boring hangers into something that will make you happy to see the inside of your closet every day!

Perk up your closet!

Melissa is a DIY home contributor for, Apartment Therapy, one of my favorite go-to websites for inspiration.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday's Cupboard—Kombucha!

My favorite refreshing, non-alcoholic drink!  

Okay, it has 0.5 percent alcohol which is a result of the natural fermentation process, but it's not enough to have any effect whatsoever.


Kombucha (Russian: chaynyy grib (чайный гриб), Chinese: chájūn (茶菌), Korean: hongchabeoseotcha (홍차버섯차), Japanese: kōcha-kinoko (紅茶キノコ)), is a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black and/or green tea  --Wikipedia

It has a light fizz, it's full of good stuff (probiotics + aminos + organic acids + electrolytes), and it's super-low in calories (20 calories in a 15.2 ounce bottle of Kevita).

It does contain low levels of caffeine which is a natural component of the black or green tea.  But, the amount of caffeine in a glass of kombucha is 1/2 to 1/3 of the amount found in a cup of the same kind of tea from which it is made.

My favorite flavor is lavender-melon by Kevita.  Steve likes gingerberry made by Synergy (35 calories in a 16-ounce bottle).  Flavors vary depending on the brand.  Our favorites are mildly fruity with a light sweetness.

Lavender-melon kombucha with a slice of Roma apple
SO good!
This drink originated in Manchuria and has been around for a couple of thousand years.  You can find it in the grocery store next to the refrigerated Odwalla-type drinks.  Odwalla is more of a smoothie drink, whereas kombucha is more like a light soda, but not sweet.

Click HERE to find out more about kombucha

My favorite brand and flavor
Stay hydrated and have a healthy week!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday—The Cumberbatch Corner

A Benedict Cumberbatch by any other name is still a Bentobox Cumbersnatch

Drink a bottle a good French wine, then try this... The Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator 

Then, watch this...

Then, check out this funny blog post by caseymckinnon..."Did Benedict dress himself today?"  LOL

Click HERE to see the entire post

No, he did not...
Yes!  He did
Have a fantastic week!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday—Fail This Week!

Why failure is not the same as unsuccessful

Failing Toward Success

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to 
success when they gave up.”   --Thomas Edison

Thomas A. Edison_AP Photo
Was told by his teachers that he was "too stupid to learn anything."

I'll never forget the day that I answered a question incorrectly in a group lecture at UC Berkeley.  I was nonplussed when a typical upper-div know-it-all promptly pointed out why my answer was incorrect.  He didn't have the right answer, but he knew that my answer was incorrect.  When 200 pairs of bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes turned toward me, I responded that failure is just a part of learning at UC Berkeley, and wasn't that why we were all there in the first place?  To fail some of the time?

Well, good gawd, NO!  We were not all there to FAIL.  Was I insane?  We were there to stomp our competition into the ground with our superior intellects.  Murmurings of discomfort pulsed through the lecture hall as the class began to ponder the meaning of failure, something students at CAL tend to avoid like the plague.  Could failure actually be something positive?  

The flip side of success is failure, and like it or not, they are two sides of the same process.  I did not enter UC Berkeley to pit my intellect against every other student, and I honestly didn't give a crap if I got a wrong answer.  I was there to learn, and guessing or coming up with a wrong conclusion was part of it.  35 years later, I'm still not afraid of a wrong answer.  Actually, I am more interested in why things don't work than I am in why they do.

At least, one college professor agrees with that idea.  Williams College Professor of Mathematics, Edward Burger, asks his students to share their errors in class.  How liberating would that be to learn in an environment that is receptive to mistakes, where students are not terrified to speak up?  Especially in a subject as absolute as math.

Click HERE to read Professor Burger's inspiring article, 
Teaching to Fail (21 August 2012).

Go boldly into this week!  These folks did...

From, 23 Incredibly Successful People Who Failed At First, by Richard Feloni and Ashley Lutz (7 March 2014)

Fired by a newspaper editor because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

Walt Disney_AP Photo
Failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure skating team_Became an editor at Vogue
& was passed over for the Editor-in-Chief position

Vera Wang_Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Ostracized by the Japanese business community for his Western-style business model

Soichiro Honda_Getty Images/The Asahi Shimbun

A film studio executive wrote, "Can't sing. Can't act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little."

Fred Astaire_AP Photo

His first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.

Theodor Suess Geisel_aka Dr. Seuss_AP Photo

From Wikipedia

Raised in Alabama under Jim Crow laws & fired from her job as a seamstress 
in a local department store.

Rosa Parks_National Archives/Ebony Magazine

His music teacher said,
"As a composer, he is hopeless."

Ludwig Van Beethoven_Painting by Carl Traugott Riedel

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on
 the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Saturday Trust—The D-Word

Why end-of-life planning is not a priority

I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens.  --Woody Allen

Life Expectancy

One hundred years ago (1915), the average life expectancy for a women was 56.8 years. The average man could expect to die before his 53 birthday.  Fast forward to now (2015), and the average woman can expect to live until she is 81.4 years old.  Men on average can expect to die five years sooner, around the age of 76.4.  As a 57 year old woman, I can expect to live between 24 and 28 more years, based on current National Vital Statistics life expectancy data.

Fact #1:  We are all going to die.

Rebar cross & a cage for a pet cricket

If we all know that death is imminent, then why is there a resistance to discussing important end-of-life decisions?  Let's start with some of the casual dialogue I've heard over the past year...  
  • "You're waiting for me to die."  
  • "They want a piece of my will."  
  • "Let my kids worry about it!"  
  • "They don't need the money."  
Our longer lifetimes have produced an attitude of cynicism that obstructs what would have been a practical and necessary discussion in 1915 when people did not expect to live past the age of 60.  A productive career was a lot shorter, and the average person had less time to build any savings.  Death was closer and much more commonplace than it is now.  There was a greater connection between the generations with respect to passing on family wealth, and in most cases, end-of-life expectations were shared and dutifully followed with strict adherence.

We have more time to think about it now, but we don't because we don't have to.  Dying of typhoid fever in 1915 is a much scarier thought than dying in an assisted living facility in your eighties, but fear is not the main component here—denial is.  Better healthcare has stretched our lifetimes and created a sense of immortality.  We expect to die at some point, but it is now very far away.  

We can put off death, and we can put off talking about it.

As a result, we are not sharing how we want to die with the people who will be most likely to handle our end-of-life issues.  I've been on the receiving end of this equation for the past year, and my perspective is shaped by recent experience.  As a result, I understand that the tangible remnants of my life will continue for a short time after I'm gone, and I can either take charge of my end-of-life choices now or ignore the fact that a loved one will have to make them after I'm gone. 

How we die lives on in the minds of everybody who survives us.  ~Peter Saul, Senior ICU Specialist at John Hunter Hospital, Australia

Can We Talk?  

All of this makes sense until you encounter a brick wall of resistance from someone who does not want to face the fact that we're all going to die some day.  

Fact #2:  Failing to plan for future responsibilities can make a 
bad situation worse.

When I think of end-of-life planning, I like to think of it as a getting-younger issue rather than a getting-older issue.  I can expect to live until I'm 82, so I've got another quarter century of life ahead of me.  But, demographically speaking, I'm in the over-55 category, which means that all kinds of shit can rain down on me at any time.  

As a group, we Boomers are entering into shall we say, senior categories, at traditionally the right ages, but with more life expectancy.  Relatively speaking, 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40, and 70 is the new 50.  The number of households caring for an elderly family member is expected to double in the next 25 years, which means that the need for caregiving will be as common as the need for child care.  LIke it or not, our parents are getting older, and so are we.  End-of-life planning is not just an idle preoccupation to be dealt with later on.  

So, how do we open up this dialogue with a family member who doesn't want to talk about it?  

AARP 5-Step Caregiving Planner 

I love this step-by-step guide by AARP on how to develop a caregiving plan with your family.  It's not about discussing a living trust, a Health Power of Attorney &/or a Last Will and Testament.  These issues will emerge later in the conversation.  Furthermore, if you start with the gritty legal issues first, you are likely to encounter resistance, and the whole dialogue will shut down.  A caregiving plan is a gentler place to start.  

Click HERE for the AARP Caregiving Family Planner pdf    

The AARP planner breaks it down into 5 steps.    
  • Step 1:  Prepare to Talk — 10 Tips on How to Approach a Difficult Topic
  • Step 2:  Form Your Team — Who Will Be Part of the Conversation
  • Step 3:  Assess Needs — Great Checklists!
  • Step 4:  Make a Plan — What To Do & Assigning Roles
  • Step 5:  Take Action —  Putting the Plan into Action

The conversation about caregiving is more than one exchange. 
It is a discussion that takes place over time.  


Final Wishes 

Finally, I'd like to add my own tip for end-of-life planning based on my experience with my dad.  

Share your memorial plans.  

My brother's marker in Searchlight

Most people have pretty strong views regarding their own burials, funeral plans and obits.  Don't be afraid to share this information with your closest friends and family.  Tell the people who are most likely to be involved in your end-of-life plan.  Put your instructions in writing, and file it with your HPOA (Health Power of Attorney) and your trust &/or will.  

This will reduce conflict among extended family members, friends and acquaintances.  Some people feel a very strong need to have a memorial or a Celebration of Life in order to find closure when someone passes away.  So, make sure that your wishes are crystal clear and share them before you die.  

Happy Planning!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday—The Photoshop Gallery: Type Tricks

My photo projects from Lesson #9_Beyond Beyond by Kim Klassen

Taken with my Lumix in manual

Fun with fonts
Geometry brush by Leslie Nicole_FrenchKiss Collections
Isobel texture by Kim Klassen

Type in a shape
Victorian bird brush by Leslie Nicole_FrenchKiss Collections
Anna texture by Kim Klassen

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday Mini-Post: 132-year Old Gun Found in Great Basin Nat'l Park

Back when we actually needed these things...can you spot the 132-year old Winchester in this photo?

photo courtesy of the National Park Service

1n 1883, some dude lost his Winchester rifle in the Nevada desert.  132 later, archeologists doing surveys in Great Basin National Park found it!

Click HERE for the full story  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Garden: Pencil Gate

I saw several pins of this idea on Pinterest.  Love it for a creative's garden!

This goes on my Pinned It—Did It! list for this spring.  I have to make a fence that looks like giant colored pencils.  They'll look even cooler once the paint starts to weather.

Fun project!

photo from
Simple Ideas That Are Borderline Genius

I love this version with the recycled aluminum cans and painted on erasers...

Image from on Pinterest

Great as a border fence!

Image from on Pinterest

Add variety by making some of them upside down & adding mechanical pencils.  I wonder if I could make a Don't Steal My Pen fence...

All kinds of pencils!  from

Make it a creative year!