Dedication.

Fall in Forest City, Iowa.

It’s been three months since I moved out of Iowa. And I’m so glad to be back in a big(ger) city. I love the traffic, the noise, ethnic restaurants, beautiful parks, Starbucks, the bling and the glamour. Mostly because it reminds me of home. When I was leaving Forest City, I never thought I’d miss it one bit. But I found myself thinking about the beautiful town a few minutes ago. I wondered how cold it might be, whether the holiday lights were up on the main street where I lived, if Scoopy Doos (the local ice cream place) has some new flavors.

I think I miss Forest City.

Strange how life works. Of all the places I’ve lived in, and I’ve lived in many, I never thought I’d ever miss Forest City – a rural American town of 4,000 people (I guess lesser when students aren’t around) in cold, cold Iowa. Having spent a year and three months up north, I believe I started loving it. I don’t particularly miss the loneliness or the fact that there were no restaurants or shopping malls around. But the fact that the city made me feel safe. Safe from everything – the crime, the evil, the negative. Actually, it was like a dream. A good dream. It was a happy place. Even when I was lonely, the town and its people made me feel at home.

I don’t take anything for granted in my life. Not my family, friends or career. I didn’t take Forest City for granted either. I live with many happy memories of this awesome town in Iowa! Miss ya :)

5 Big-Ticket Billionaire Sales

Posted: February 28, 2011 11:22AM by Riya V. Anandwala 

The rich get richer as the market gets bullish. But when the market slumps, even the wealthy have to pay a price. Since the recent recession hit the world, several billionaires have decided to give up their lavish mansions or yachts. Not too long ago, Russian billionaire Sergei Polonsky sold his hotel Sungate Port Royal, yachts and the house on the Côte d’Azur to put all the proceeds into further construction of his projects. With the market’s ups and downs, the economic downturn is still hurting some of the rich and famous. (For related reading, also take a look at 6 Outrageous Billionaire Purchases.)

IN PICTURES: 6 Millionaire Traits That You Can Adopt

David Siegel’s $75 Million Mansion
In an effort to save money, chief executive officer of Orlando-based Westgate Resorts, David Siegel announced the sale of his unfurnished 90,000 square-feet mansion in July last year. The property in Windermere, Fla. has been listed for $75 million. Continue reading…

Warranties That Aren’t Worth It And Why

Posted: February 15, 2011 9:21AM by Riya Anandwala

Remember your recent electronic purchase when the salesperson said, “we highly recommend protecting your item with our store’s extended warrantypackage that will cover all repair costs incurred within three years”? More often than not you get sucked into buying the package, as the investment in the electronic item is huge. But will you get the best returns? Chances are little to none. A recent Consumer Reports article released in December 2010 labeled extended warranties as bad deals in general and suggested buyers avoid them. (For more, see Extended Warranties: Should You Take The Bait?)

IN PICTURES: 6 Worst Financial Mistakes And Why You Made Them

Manufacturer Warranty vs. Extended Warranty
It seems as though almost every electronic item comes with an extended warranty plan that acts like an insurance policy, promising to cover all your repair and damage costs for a particular period of time after your purchase. How can that be a bad deal? In most cases the appliances you buy come with a manufacturer warranty that will cover your repair cost for a year. In that case, your retail warranty plan will more or less be a waste at least for the first year. Read More…

 

Kids enlightened at Proctor Center’s Black History Month celebration

By RIYA V. ANANDWALA

OF THE JOURNAL STAR
Posted Feb 26, 2010 @ 12:42 AM
PEORIA — At least a 100 people gathered Thursday at Proctor Center to celebrate Black History Month.

“We hope to enlighten our young children and learn some history of black people, ancestors,” said Deborah Totten, the organizer of the event.

The event began with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the unofficial African-American national anthem, followed by entertainment programs by children of the community.

While a group of children performed a play about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., others recited poetry such as “My World” and “Nappy Hair.” Read More…

Ready to roll

Peorian tackling multi-day Alaskan Iditarod Trail race on bicycle

By RIYA V. ANANDWALA

OF THE JOURNAL STAR
Posted Mar 02, 2010 @ 01:52 AM

Winter is about to get a whole lot colder for Vanessa McKenzie.

The 36-year-old Peorian is among the 50 participants in the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in the Alaskan range, which started on Sunday.

When a friend suggested the bike race, McKenzie, 36, thought the idea was crazy. But that changed when she and her boyfriend and race partner, Aaron Fanetti of St. Louis, began seriously thinking about it. Read more…

Girl Scout cookies coming in by the truckload

By RIYA V. ANANDWALA

OF THE JOURNAL STAR
Posted Mar 02, 2010 @ 10:24 PM
Last update Mar 03, 2010 @ 09:18 AM

PEKIN — Girl Scout troop leader Jamie Webb started sorting out about 4,000 cookie cases at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the First Church of the Nazarene.

“People are here to unload the semis, we have two trucks,” said Webb, who had 10 to 15 volunteers helping her.

The Girl Scouts who took orders in January will be delivering the boxes all through next week. The Girl Scout leaders of Peoria will pick up their delivery Thursday and start delivering this weekend. Webb’s troop managed to sell more than 2,000 boxes, making a profit of $1,100 so far. Read more…

The hunting’s great in Elmwood

Outdoors enthusiasts pack AllOutdoors Show in search of equipment

Story on the Journal Star

By RIYA V. ANANDWALA
OF THE JOURNAL STAR
Posted Mar 06, 2010 @ 09:24 PM
Last update Mar 06, 2010 @ 09:37 PM
ELMWOOD — With winter chills fading slowly, families and friends stepped out Saturday to buy fishing and hunting equipment at the inaugural Elmwood AllOutdoors Show.

About 100 sales booths were set up inside Elmwood High School for the two-day show that began Saturday. While some people shopped for their outdoors expeditions, others participated in contests, seminars and a raffle.

A fishing pond and an archery range were available for youngsters. A major attraction was the big-buck contest, in which hunters nominated deer they had harvested.

“We have had an overwhelming response since we started this,” said Janice Nash, one of the show’s organizers.

After helping operate an outdoors show in Tinley Park, Nash and a few others got together in February 2008 to discuss the prospects of doing the same in Elmwood. The plan is for this to be a yearly event, Nash said.

Proceeds benefited Elmwood High School athletic programs and academic scholarships. Nash expected between 2,500 and 5,000 people to attend, and proceeds are expected to reach $25,000.

“It is going awesome,” said Vianey Payan, 16, an Elmwood freshman who was among the volunteers working at the event.

Payan and another volunteer, Nicole Coffey, 14, spent Saturday making announcements and helping vendors with anything they needed.

“I was the first to volunteer,” Coffey said.

According to Nash, more than 100 Elmwood students joined Coffey and Payan among the volunteers.

One of the biggest crowds at the show was gathered around the fishing gear.

“I am ready for spring fishing,” said Jean Fahnestock, 61, of Pekin, who attended with her husband, Roger Fahnestock.

Aside from what was offered for sale at the booths, Jean Fahnestock also was pleased about the show’s potential benefits for the Elmwood community.

“It is a good idea to earn some money for the school,” she said.

Vendors paid $50 to set up a booth for the weekend.

Matt Birmingham of Cisco, located northeast of Decatur, sells custom-made baits and lures. The owner of Build Your Own Baits apparently had a very busy Saturday morning.

“Great turnout,” he said.