Black (Friday) Coffee: Thanksgiving Roundup & Remodel Photos

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe

Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…


Len's Kitchen: Before

As promised, I’m including a picture of our modest kitchen remodeling project.   Thanks to a bit of requirements scope creep — we had enough granite left over for the powder room and kids’ bath — this ended up costing us a little more than expected.     But in the end it was worth it.   Here are a few photos showing the new granite counter tops, tile back splash and color change from blue to deep crimson.   We got a new garbage disposal and a deeper sink too – and I absolutely love it!


Len's Kitchen: After

We also had most of house painted from top to bottom too.   That was planned though.   It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint can make a house feel so completely renovated and new.


From the Family Room...

Anyway, we are very happy with how all this turned out!   Next year it will be time to renovate our master bedroom and bath.   That will probably end up costing us as much as what we spent on all the renovations we did this year.   Sigh.

Yes, I could have tried to save money by doing this all by myself, but age and wisdom allows me to now recognize my limitations, and so I wisely choose to pay the extra money and let the professionals do it.

By the way, if you were hoping to see a bit more detail in the photos of the granite and kitchen hardware, just drop me an email and I’ll send you a couple.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Fabulously Broke In the CityHoliday Gift Guide for Her: Gifts Under $100.   Every year I fret about what to get the Honeybee for Christmas.   Especially those stocking stuffers — last year I briefly found myself considering a 8-pack of white board markers before the Rational Fairy poked me in the face with her tiny wand and brought me to my senses.   Thanks to FB’s creative gift guide, that little fairy won’t be visiting this year.

Out of Debt AgainHow to Make Homemade Beef Jerky.   Speaking of creative Christmas gifts, Mrs. Accountability recommends homemade beef jerky!   What a great idea!!   Come on, folks, who doesn’t like beef jerky?   Best of all, you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought stuff.

Control Your CashScrooge Had the Right Idea.   Meanwhile, Greg shares a little of his own gift-giving advice — especially for those of you drowning in a sea of credit card and other debt.

…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Financial Highway10 Surprising Ways A Small House Saves You Money.

The Digerati LifeWant More Jobs?   Cut the Red Tape!

Car Negotiation Coach – How to Find the Best TV Price

Wealth Pilgrim – Need To Borrow Money? 5 Tips to Keep You Safe

JoeTaxpayer – Rangle’s   Ethics

Simply FortiesYoga Resource

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From November 2009:

Talkin’ Turkey: Evaluating My Thanksgiving Dinner Scorecard – Unlike this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, which was a relatively quiet — and inexpensive — affair with only seven people at the dinner table, last year we served dinner for 16 including my sister and her family, my mom and dad and the Honeybee’s folks.     Guess how much that cost!   Well, in this article I broke down all the expenses.

Credits and Debits

Credit: Instead of turkey this year, we had a ham.   No muss, no fuss, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual turkey.

Debit: Despite the easier kitchen duty this year, I still managed to over-steam the green beans a bit.   I got distracted talking with the family and the next thing I knew, the beans had lost that snappy texture I usually like.

Credit: My twice baked potatoes came out awesome though.   Absolute perfection!

Credit: I’ve got to give props to the Honeybee’s mom, who put together another delicious fruit salad.

Debit: Are the Detroit Lions one sorry football team or what?   They lost again this Thanksgiving, this time to the New England Patriots who pummeled them 45-24.

Debit: The Lions have now lost seven straight times on Thanksgiving and have been outscored in those games by an embarrassing margin of 258 – 98.   Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my green beans.

By the Numbers

A few of the many fun Black Friday facts, that can be found at Time’s It’s Your Money Blog:

6.4 Percentage of all holiday shopping sales that occur on Black Friday.

24 Percentage of Americans that plan to shop on Black Friday.

$343 The amount of money spent by the average shopper last year over Black Friday weekend.  

0 The amount of money I’ll be spending on Black Friday.   (No, that one wasn’t in the Time article.)

Other Useless News

Here are the Top 10 states in terms of pages viewed per visit during the month of November (so far)…

1. Montana (2.87 pages per visit)
2. Missouri (2.61)
3. Louisiana (2.36)
4. New Mexico (2.14)
5. North Carolina (2.10)
6. Rhode Island (2.03)
7. Washington (2.02)
8. Mississippi (2.01)
9. Nebraska (1.98)
10. Tennessee (1.97)

Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog!   As always, I highlight the Top 25 referring blogs (in terms of total visitors) in the first Black Coffee column of every month.

Here’s a friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

Letters, I Get Letters

Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff has stayed true (so far) to her pledge to write a letter every week:

“Am I the only one who thinks flying snakes sound and look really awesome as long as they are thousands of miles away?   Hehehe.

Geez, I can’t hear or see anything that far away.   I guess old age is really starting to take its toll on me.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at:

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee — assuming I get one, that is.

If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mailbag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. 😉

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

Carnival of Personal Finance @ Sweating the Big Stuff

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 2


    That kitchen looks almost too pretty to cook stuff in.

    Len, I can tell you’re in the Christmas spirit because this week, the debits don’t outnumber the credits.

  2. 4


    @FB: Not until after Christmas!
    @Greg: Wow, you’re right. I didn’t even notice. If the Lions would have won, it would have been the credits by a landslide.
    @Mrs.A: I can’t wait to get one. Maybe Santa will get me one for Christmas. 😉

  3. 6


    I was alone on Thanksgiving as the wife and kids were in Orlando and I stayed home to watch the cats. The Lions were up 17-10 when the neighbors insisted I join them for their feast. The loss is their fault. Missed the Cowboys game as a result too. But I can’t blame them for the Cowboys suckiness this year.

  4. 7


    Love the new kitchen, though the old one looked pretty good too!!!

    Hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving, and I appreciate your loyalty to the Lions. Not sure why you would put your head in a vice, and ask someone to keep turning the wheel, but….Maybe our former Dawg will stay healthy, next year…

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