mom holding baby in nursery

3 Reasons You Need Life Insurance for Your Mortgage

“ In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are many cliches about being prepared. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. The list goes on. Some things are really easy to prepare for. You know you have to prepare for the future by saving money for a new car, house, or retirement. You have to prepare your kids for school by teaching them to read or write. You know you have to prepare a will so that your wishes can be granted upon your death. But as another cliche goes, you can never be too prepared.

While many people have heard of or have invested in life insurance, not many know about mortgage life insurance, yet this could be the best way to protect your family and prepare for what happens in the event that something happens to you. Here’s why you should consider enrolling in a mortgage life insurance policy.

  1. Lose your ability to work, keep your home
  2. Mortgage life insurance is designed to help cover the cost of a home mortgage in the event that the person covered becomes disabled or dies. Since many families depend on two income earners to be able to afford their mortgage and other bills, it can be tough if not impossible to maintain this standard of living in the absence of one earner.

  3. Provide stability in an uneasy time
  4. If you have children, losing a parent can be one of the hardest, most traumatic experiences imaginable. Now combine that with having to move from your home because your surviving parent can’t afford the house you’re living in. While regular life insurance can be used to cover any type of expense, including mortgages, mortgage life insurance is specifically intended to only pay for your mortgage and can be combined with other forms of life insurance so that your family’s whole financial well-being is cared for.

  5. Provide peace of mind
  6. Most people would choose to pay their home off if they could so that they’d never have to worry about what happens if they’re no longer able to support their family, but that’s not always doable. Mortgage life insurance can give you the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of and the costs can be affordable at less than $1 per day.

    Mortgage life insurance can be a great solution for your needs and is offered by most major insurance companies. To learn more about coverages, premium, and plans contact your trusted insurance agent.

A 25 foot tall house of cards and other crazy records held by Texas

From beauty queens (the most Miss USA titleholders) to chili con carne dreams (4,800lb–the world’s largest serving!), it really does seem that everything is bigger in Texas. Check out some of the other Guinness World Records set by Texans!
 

 
Largest Frito Pie
Snackmaker Frito-Lay calls Plano, Texas home so it’s no surprise that Texas is the home of the Guinness-certified World’s Largest Frito Pie. Created in 2012 at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, the pie was assembled in a U-shaped chaffing dish measuring 133sq ft, produced 5,000 individual servings, and weighed 1,325 pounds!

For non-Texans, a Frito Pie is a meal comprised of Fritos corn chips, bean-less chili (in this case, Hormel brand), and shredded cheddar cheese. This record-setting pie required 635 bags of Fritos, 660 cans of chili, and 580 bags of shredded cheese!
 
Largest Pecan Pie

The El Paso Diablos Baseball Club set the world record for largest pecan pie in 1999, shattering the record previously held by Okmulgee, Oklahoma. The Texan pie weighed just under 19 tons, was 50 feet in diameter and was produced using 1,500lbs of pecans, 13,350 lbs of sugar, 9,700lbs of corn syrup, among many other (large quantities of) ingredients.
 

 
Tallest Free-Standing House of Cards
Set by Texan Bryan Berg in 2007 during the annual State Fair of Texas, the structure measured 25 feet, 9 7/16 inches at its tallest point. As the record name implies, the structure contained no glue, adhesives, or other bonding or support agents. Berg also holds the Guinness World Record for largest playing card structure.
 
Largest YMCA Dance
During the Sun Bowl, a college football matchup featuring teams from the ACC and Pac-12, the world’s largest “YMCA” dance was achieved by 40,148 participants on December 31, 2008. The dance lasted for 5 minutes and 34 seconds and the accompanying music was sung live.
 

 
Largest Gingerbread House
Traditions Club, a private golf club in Bryan Texas, is the holder of the world’s largest gingerbread house! Created in 2013, the house was 60 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 10.1 feet tall at its highest point. The house was created as a fundraiser to build a new trauma center at St Joseph’s Hospital and visitors were able to meet Santa Claus inside the gingerbread house with a donation.
 
Oldest adoption
This is a heartwarming two-part record, both set by Texans. The oldest person to ever be adopted was Mary Banks Smith who was 76 years and 96 days old when she was adopted by Muriel Banks Clayton aged 92 years, 322 days. Mary, Muriel’s first cousin by birth, had been raised by Muriel, but was officially adopted on June 9, 2015 in Dallas.
 

 
Most Tennis Balls Held in the Mouth – Dog
Augie, a golden retriever from Dallas, Texas, holds the world record for most tennis balls held in the mouth at one time by a dog with five regulation sized balls.
 
Tallest Donkey
Romulus, an American Mammoth Jackstock owned by Cara and Phil Yellott of Red Oak, Texas holds this record. The Yellott’s confirmed the record in Waxahachie, TX on February 8, 2013.
 

 
Largest Makeup Painting
Texas is the land of sky-high hair and pageant queens, so it’s no surprise that Mary Kay cosmetics calls the Lone Star State home. In honor of the company’s 50th anniversary in 2013 a mural was commissioned in Dallas, Texas measuring 76 feet long by 8 feet high and was created entirely out of Mary Kay makeup using only makeup brushes and sponges.

paint colors palette options

Color Me Happy: Using Color to Effect the Mood of Your Home

Blue
Blue comes in a sea of colors, but whether you think it’s cool as a river or calming as the ocean, this is the color to choose if you’re looking for your home to be a haven.
Effects/Emotions: Relaxing, calming, serene, focus, communication
Best Use: Bedrooms, offices, hallways
Rooms to Avoid: Gym–the calming nature of blue isn’t great for high-intensity workouts

  • blue bathroom
  • light blue bedroom
  • very pale blue bedroom

Yellow
There’s nothing mellow about yellow! This sunshine-y shade works great throughout homes and can be used as an unexpected alternative to a pure white without being overwhelming.
Effects/Emotions: Lively, Energetic, Cheery, Sunny
Best Use: Entertaining areas and public spaces like the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and living/family room
Rooms to Avoid: Bedrooms

  • yellow home gym workout room
  • yellow bathroom
  • yellow formal living room

Orange
Orange is a very boisterous color and can be an unexpected hue for decor, but when done correctly sets a great tone for the rest of the room. While it’s often used as an accent color because of the attention-grabbing nature, tones such as terracotta and burnt sienna have been very popular in the United States southwest decor for ages.
Effect/Emotions: Warm, energizing, exciting, creative, social, confidence
Best Use: Bar areas, kitchens, patios, gyms
Rooms to Avoid: Bedrooms

  • orange kitchen
  • peachy orange living room
  • orange living room walls

White
Pure as the driven snow. Bridal white. Pearly white. White is heavily linked to cleanliness and freshness which makes it the perfect canvas for any other colors or a powerful color to leave on it’s own. The difficulty of keeping a crisp white color in decor has also led to the association with class, privilege, and luxury.
Effects/Emotions: Purity, Clarity, Thoughtfulness, Openness
Best Use: All rooms. This blank canvas is a great way to layer in other colors without being too overwhelming or can be used on its own for a clean, pure aesthetic.

  • white bedroom
  • white living room
  • white kitchen

Green
With many shades of green from lime to forest, you can find a green for any room with the darker hues having a classy, rich feel and light shades eliciting sunny emotions like near-spectrum yellow.
Effects/Emotions: Balance, harmony, tolerance, understanding, connection, fresh
Best Use: All rooms, depending on shade
Rooms to Avoid: Avoid bright, lime shades in bedrooms as they take on the qualities of yellow rooms

  • green sitting room
  • green bedroom
  • mint green bedroom
  • green wallpapered bathroom
  • green hallway

Turquoise
Turquoise is the unofficial color of the tropics for good reason–it’s easy, breezy, yet fun and effervescent nature is perfect for anywhere you want the “Don’t worry, be happy” vibe of the islands to follow!
Effects/Emotions: Cool, calm, healing, happy, peaceful
Best Rooms: Bedrooms, bathrooms, yoga studios, dens
Rooms to Avoid: Gyms or anywhere high energy is needed

  • turquoise kids bedroom
  • turquoise bedroom
  • turquoise dining room

Pink
Pink is the color of cotton candy, bubblegum, and all things baby girl so it makes sense that this fun, lighthearted color is the perfect choice anywhere you want to keep the mood light and tension down.
Effects/Emotions: Playful, nurturing, love, sweet, dissolves anger
Best uses: Bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms
Rooms to Avoid: Office, library, or anywhere directness and focus are required

  • pink bedroom
  • light pink art room
  • light pink bedroom

Black
Traditional design wisdom says to avoid ink-colored walls, but black is surprisingly versatile and elegant when used as an accent wall or in purposeful ways. Be sure to pay close attention to the finish and texture of the walls in your room, though, lest you end up with an unintended Addams Family aesthetic.
Effects/Emotions: power, reflection, class, drama, protection
Best uses: Kitchen, living/family room, dining rooms, foyers
Rooms to Avoid: Rooms without windows (unless you’re going for a cave-feel)

  • black accented bathroom
  • black accented dining room
  • black kitchen
  • black kitchen

Red
Red hot, firecracker, scarlet letter: Red has long been associated with heat, passion, and competitiveness. In fact, teams with red uniforms are statistically more likely to win at any given challenge or competition than those wearing any other color. In many Asian cultures, red is the color of luck, making it a great choice for the home.
Effects/Emotions: Energy, power, strength, heat, stimulates appetite
Best Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, bar areas, theaters, office
Rooms to Avoid: yoga room, spa, patio or other relaxing areas

  • red kitchen
  • theater with red walls
  • red walls in office
  • in home theater with red walls

Purple
The high cost of indigo traditionally meant that the color purple was reserved for nobility, but today all can enjoy this beautiful hue. Ranging from lilac to plum, all purples are a mix of calming blue and fiery red which means you can find a purple shade to fit any room or purpose you desire!
Effects/Emotions: Spirituality, luxury, ambition, royalty
Best Use: Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Closets
Rooms to Avoid: None, depending on shade

  • purple bedroom
  • purple bar area
  • purple bathroom

map of radon levels throughout the us

Radon Gas: What you don’t know could kill you!

Most people spend the majority of their time at home so it’s important to have a home that is both comfortable and safe. While smoke detectors have been a staple in American homes for years and carbon monoxide alarms have been required in any home built after July 1, 2008, there’s another highly dangerous, extremely common danger that many homeowners ignore: Radon gas.

While many people know of radon gas and the potential dangers associated with it, many have never heard of it until they’re ready to buy or sell a home. Natural levels of radon are highest in the majority of the Midwest and Plains state, but high radon levels can be found from Washington to North Carolina. Some state have laws that require a home seller or real estate agent to disclose any known radon information about a property, but no states have laws requiring the testing before the sale of a property. Whether you’re buying or selling a home (or just living in one!) here’s what you need to know!

What is Radon?
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste. By breathing in radon, you’re increasing your chances of lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, causng 21, 000 deaths each year.

Where does it come from?
Radon gas is a product of the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Typically it moves up through the ground to the air above and into homes through cracks and other holes in the foundation, but it can also enter through well water.

Who should test?

Everyone. Homes all over the US have been found with radon issues and the US Surgeon General suggests testing all homes below the third floor for radon. There are two versions of the test, a long one which spans more than 90 days and a shorter version that can be completed in 2-90 days. You can find professional to conduct the test for you or there are simple kits to test as well. If you’re planning to do the testing yourself, make sure you buy a kit that includes the lab testing in the price or you’ll have to pay another fee to have it processed.

I have a new home, I’m safe, right?
Nope. All homes should be tested. Whether your home is old and draft or new and airtight, this gas can slip in and do its damage to your air quality. Nearly 1 in 15 homes in the US is estimated to have elevated radon levels above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) which is the Environmental Protection Agency considers to be a high-risk level of exposure.

I’m selling my home. What should I do?
Some states require disclosure of any known radon testing results. A potential buyer may ask for a new test if the EPA’s Radon Testing Checklist items were not met, the last test took place more than two years prior, you have renovated or altered your home since the test, or the buyer plans to use a lower level than you tested such as a basement. States that require disclosure of previous test findings include: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kanas, Maryland, Mine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. More information about laws regarding testing and disclosures can be found here.

I’m buying a home. Should I ask for a test?
It’s always a good idea to ask for a test if possible. If there has been a previous test done you can accept the results of prior radon tests or ask the seller to perform a new one to be conducted by a qualified tester. Before accepting previous results, keep in mind that results can differ based on who conducted the test, where in the home the test was conducted, and if any structural changes occurred since the test.

I found high radon levels. What do I do now?
There are a variety of methods to reduce radon in your home. The most basic approach begins with sealing cracks and other holes in the foundation, but the EPA recommends taking it a step further with a vent piper and/or fan solution. Often referred to as a “sub-slab depressurization system” these do not require major changes to your home and can help prevent radon gas from entering your home from below the floor/foundation. Radon mitigation specialists will be able to help you find the best solution based on the design of your home and other factors.

Radon Protection: How Homebuyers can do Their Due Diligence
A home purchase is one of the most significant transactions people go through in their lives. This guide will discuss radon’s natural presence in a home, acceptable radon levels, what protections are available, ways in which a radon issue may be resolved and how to reduce radon levels in a home. Get the guide here.

For more information you can read the EPA’s full Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon here.

white house yard

White House History: Celebrating the Most Famous Home in the US

With up to 100,000 visitors per month, the White House is the most visited residence in the United States. To celebrate President’s Day, we’re taking a look at some of the more interesting facts about the “Presidential Palace”.

Who lived at the White House?

George Washington was the only president to never live in the White House. While he was alive during its construction, he died before its completion. Prior to the construction of the White House, Philadelphia was the nation’s acting capital and wasn’t happy about the impending transition to D.C. The city built its own presidential palace in the 1790s, but Washington refused to stay there, instead opting to stay in other Philly-area residences.

drawing of white house construction

Where is the Cornerstone?

Speaking of the construction, the cornerstone was laid on Saturday, October 13, 1792–but nobody really knows where it is today. According to the story, a group of freemasons met at a Georgetown tavern and paraded to the proposed site of the president’s mansion. In a ceremony, they placed an inscribed cornerstone to mark the start of construction then marched back to the tavern to make a toast. They then repeated their march back to the mansion site and back to the tavern for a total of 16 trips. All this celebrating and toasting meant that no one really documented where the stone actually was.

How much of the White House–is really the White House?

It’s hard to imagine that much has changed to the structure of the White House, but actually very little of the original remains. The British burned the original in 1814 after US forces set fire to Canada’s parliament during the War of 1812. First lady Dolley Madison saved the famous Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington as she was fleeing and some of the exterior stone walls also survived. Unfortunately, this was not the only fire that ravaged the property. A blocked fireplace flue caused another damaging fire on December 24, 1929. President Hoover left a Christmas party to personally direct firefighting efforts.

white house backyard

This was not the only rebuilding effort required by the home. When President Harry S Truman tried to upgrade the White House in 1948, it was nearly condemned! Engineers discovered it was structurally unsound and close to falling down at which point Truman began to reside at the Blair House. It took four years to complete the renovation project. While the structure was opened for rehabilitation efforts, Truman tried to find the missing cornerstone but was without success.

Today anyone interested can visit the White House to see this great home themselves. Public tour requests must be submitted through the guests’ Congressional representative and are awarded on a first come-first served basis. Tours are free of charge, however, all guests aged 18 or older must have a valid, government-issued id. For more information on scheduling a tour, visit the White House Tours & Events page.

house with a for sale sign in front

Real Estate 101: The Basics for the First Time Home Seller

1. The Price is Right (or it needs to be!)

Have you ever fallen in love with an item in the store, but when you saw the price tag decided it wasn’t worth the cost? Maybe you decided to just wait until there’s a sale, figuring that the price would come down before the item sells out. If you’re selling your home, this is exactly what you don’t want to do. Getting the price of your home right can be one of the most difficult parts of the home selling process. Especially in a “hot” market like we’re experiencing now. If you price it too high, it’s going to take time to sell, but if you price is too low, you’re leaving money on the table.

One option would be to work with a real estate agent. Real estate agents have access to tons of information about previous home sales. For example: they can tell you about another home that was built in the same year, with the same number of beds and baths, with the same size lot just sold for $152,000 in 3 days! This info helps them suggest a proper price. While some people shy away from using an agent in the sale of their home, usually being deterred by the commission, a real estate agent can help you sell your home for a higher price, leaving you with more money–even after figuring in their commission.

Tip: If you’re not planning to use an agent, make sure you do your homework. Your first step will be to get a home appraisal. This will give you a good frame to start your pricing on. You’ll also want to check sites like Zillow or Redfin. You can see the estimated value of your home on these sites, but they can be off by tens of thousands of dollars. So, the best use for these sites is to research homes similar to yours. Not only can you see how much homes like yours are listed for, but also how long they’ve been on the market. Additionally, you can see the sale history. This research will ensure that you’re getting pricing where it needs to be.
 
interior of a living room
 

2. Prepare to be Seen

Before you stick the sign out in the yard or list your property online, you’ll want to make sure your home is ready to be seen. If you’ve already moved into another home, this will just be a deep clean of the home for sale. If you’re still living in this home, you’ll want to make sure it is picked up and ready to show at anytime. Staging the home by adding extra decorations or “homey” touches is great, but clutter-free and clean are the minimum.

Tip: If you’ve got the time and budget, it’s a good idea to throw a fresh coat of paint on the walls–especially if that hasn’t been done in a few years. Most advisers will tell you to not spend money on renovations before you move. However, a fresh coat of neutral paint is known help entice buyers and get you a great return on investment.
 
home with sale sign in yard
 

3. Get the Word Out

There’s a reason that real estate agents always put signs in the yard of the homes they’re selling–they work! Prepare yourself for it to work really fast as well, depending on your market. If you’re in a city or larger town and have a home in the low to middle-high price range, it’s very possible that as soon as you put the sign up, you’ll have people calling and knocking on your door. Make sure you’re prepared to take the next steps as soon as that sign hits the ground.

Tip: Not everyone lives in an area with a booming real estate market. For example, you may live in a rural area and you don’t see a lot of drive-by traffic. If this is the case, you’re going to need another tactic to sell your home. There are many websites that will list your home for free. However, because these are free listings, you may just blend in to the rest of the listings on the site. Another option to consider is an advanced marketing option like event marketing. Using an online event marketing platform, your home will stand out because of the interest gained through range pricing. Think of an opening bid and “Buy It Now” pricing – you’ll gain interest from those searching the lower price ranges and interest from those who want to jump on a deal right away. But, you still retain control of the final sale price. You can learn more about how this works here.
 
women at a business meeting
 

4. Understand the Players

If you’re handling the sale of your home without the help of an agent, it will be up to you to coordinate showings. Most buyers will not want to purchase the home sight-unseen, so expect to let potential buyers in for a look. In many cases, this includes buyers who are working with an agent. It may be uncomfortable for you to allow strangers to roam your house. However, this is how buyers fall in love with a property.

Tip: If you’re working with a seller directly, it’s a good idea to stay on premises, but if they have an agent the best thing to do is leave. The buyer’s agent will facilitate the showing (after all, they want their client to find a home), and it stops you from talking the buyer out of a sale.
 
accounting spreadsheet and calculator
 

5. Know the rules

This part gets a bit trickier for home selling DIY-ers. The laws concerning real estate vary by state.  There are laws as to what the necessary inspections are, the time frame for everything to be completed and what needs to be disclosed to the new buyers. In some states you need to tell potential buyers if there was a death in the home, in other states you are required report on your annoying neighbors, and the list goes on. In short, know the rules or risk getting sued.

Tip: Even if you choose to not use a real estate professional in your home selling, that doesn’t mean you should completely go this process alone. Selling real estate comes with many financial, legal, and tax implications so it’s best to consult a lawyer and an accountant with real estate expertise that can help ensure you have the proper documents and don’t wind up with any costly surprises down the road.

Selling your home is a very exciting process. It can lead to many positive changes and help set you up for future financial success, but it’s important to consider all the moving parts to make sure your experience is a positive one!

couple kissing in street with valentine's balloons

Valentine’s Babies: Are the Southern States the Most Romantic?

This Valentine’s Day, love is in the air, but apparently some states get a little more of the lovin’ feeling than others! From 2007-2015 there were 3,978,497 babies born in the United States with about 8% of them born in November—9 months after Valentine’s Day. To figure out where the love bug bites the strongest, we looked at the data.
 
States with Highest Percentage of Babies Born 9 months after Valentine’s Day

  1. Tie: Florida & District of Columbia – 8.49%
  2. Hawaii – 8.33%
  3. Louisiana – 8.26%
  4. Texas – 8.24%
  5. Tennessee – 8.22%
  6. Alabama – 8.19%
  7. Georgia – 8.17%
  8. Arizona – 8.16%
  9. North Carolina – 8.15%
  10. Mississippi – 8.13%

 
General population trends get thrown out the window here with southern states having the highest percentage of babies born in November. While they might not have the highest total number of February conceptions, these stats sure make it look like love is in the (southern) air!
 
States with Lowest Percentage of Babies Born 9 months after Valentine’s Day

    1. Wyoming – 7.47%
    2. Idaho – 7.6%
    3. Vermont – 7.62%
    4. Tie: Nebraska and Minnesota – 7.7%
    5. Tie: Wisconsin and Colorado – 7.72%
    6. Maine – 7.73%
    7. Tie: Iowa and North Dakota – 7.76%
    8. Tie: Oregon, Montana, and Delaware – 7.78%
    9. Tie: New Mexico and Pennsylvania – 7.79%
    10. Tie: Alaska and Ohio – 7.8%
  1.  
  2. Maybe it’s a lack of romance, or it could be the freezing weather, but the states with the lowest rate of Valentine-inspired babies come from across the country, but lay almost exclusively in the north. The only exception to this is New Mexico–does that mean it’s the least lovey warm-weather state?
       

Number of Babies Born 9 Months After Valentine’s Day

State | Number of Births

  1. California 39,734
  2. Texas 33,252
  3. Florida 19,048
  4. New York 18,670
  5. Illinois 12,406
  6. Pennsylvania 10,994
  7. Ohio 10,864
  8. Georgia 10,738
  9. North Carolina 9,843
  10. Michigan 8,869
  11. Virginia 8,272
  12. New Jersey 8,155
  13. Washington 7,004
  14. Arizona 6,965
  15. Tennessee 6,713
  16. Indiana 6,654
  17. Missouri 6,006
  18. Maryland 5,911
  19. Massachusetts 5,601
  20. Minnesota 5,380
  21. Louisiana 5,344
  22. Wisconsin 5,178
  23. Colorado 5,143
  24. Alabama 4,886
  25. South Carolina 4,629
  26. Kentucky 4,423
  27. Oklahoma 4,230
  28. Utah 3,996
  29. Oregon 3,550
  30. Arkansas 3,156
  31. Mississippi 3,120
  32. Kansas 3,108
  33. Iowa 3,062
  34. Nevada 2,948
  35. Connecticut 2,792
  36. Nebraska 2,054
  37. New Mexico 2,011
  38. Idaho 1,735
  39. West Virginia 1,556
  40. Hawaii 1,534
  41. New Hampshire 1,009
  42. Montana 979
  43. Maine 975
  44. South Dakota 966
  45. Rhode Island 887
  46. Alaska 880
  47. North Dakota 878
  48. Delaware 869
  49. District of Columbia 813
  50. Wyoming 580
  51. Vermont 450

 

Percentage of Babies Born 9 Months After Valentine’s Day

State | Percentage Born in November (9 months after Valentine’s Day)

  1. Florida 8.49%
  2. District of Columbia 8.49%
  3. Hawaii 8.33%
  4. Louisiana 8.26%
  5. Texas 8.24%
  6. Tennessee 8.22%
  7. Alabama 8.19%
  8. Georgia 8.17%
  9. Arizona 8.16%
  10. North Carolina 8.15%
  11. Mississippi 8.13%
  12. Nevada 8.12%
  13. Arkansas 8.12%
  14. New Hampshire 8.12%
  15. California 8.08%
  16. Rhode Island 8.07%
  17. Maryland 8.03%
  18. Virginia 8.01%
  19. Missouri 8.00%
  20. Oklahoma 7.96%
  21. South Carolina 7.96%
  22. Kansas 7.94%
  23. Indiana 7.92%
  24. New Jersey 7.91%
  25. Kentucky 7.90%
  26. Washington 7.87%
  27. Utah 7.87%
  28. New York 7.87%
  29. West Virginia 7.86%
  30. Illinois 7.85%
  31. Massachusetts 7.83%
  32. South Dakota 7.83%
  33. Michigan 7.83%
  34. Connecticut 7.81%
  35. Ohio 7.80%
  36. Alaska 7.80%
  37. Pennsylvania 7.79%
  38. New Mexico 7.79%
  39. Delaware 7.78%
  40. Montana 7.78%
  41. Oregon 7.78%
  42. North Dakota 7.76%
  43. Iowa 7.76%
  44. Maine 7.73%
  45. Colorado 7.72%
  46. Wisconsin 7.72%
  47. Minnesota 7.70%
  48. Nebraska 7.70%
  49. Vermont 7.62%
  50. Idaho 7.60%
  51. Wyoming 7.47%
 

Source

United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Division of Vital Statistics, Natality public-use data 2007-2015, on CDC WONDER Online Database, February 2017. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/natality-current.html on Feb 13, 2018 11:48:57 AM

Sip on something awesome: Coffee in the Caribbean

 

“Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.” -Edward Abbey

While Americans have enjoyed coffee from airtight tins since the early 1900s, many have not experienced the joy of truly fresh coffee. In 1907, 97% of the world’s coffee came from Brazil, but today many countries, from Ethiopia to Hawaii export these delicious and highly coveted beans. If you’re looking for the best cuppa Joe, here’s what you need to know

 
coffee being poured into mug
 
Costa Rica

Costa Rican coffee is known for having a full and rich body with bright acidity and a clean, crisp taste. Costa Rica uses an Arabica bean which is grown at higher altitudes and harvested in winter between December and February. The aroma profile is an intense and fragrant coffee smell with hints of brown sugar, while the flavor leans more toward citrus, tropical fruit, and apricots. The high quality brews these beans create means Costa Rican coffee has gotten a reputation as some of the best in Central/South American and has led to its introduction into Starbucks’ “reserve” program.


 
beans in coffee cup
 
Jamaica

Jamaica produces multiple types of coffee, but the most well-known is its Blue Mountain variety. Grown in the region of the same name north of Kingston and south of Port Maria at an elevation of between 3,000-5,500 feet, this coffee has virtually no bitterness, despite the fact that it has an excellently full body and a vibrant, yet smooth, acidity. This brew is also very complex with an unusually sweet flavor that teeters on chocolaty and an aroma filled with sweet herbal and floral notes with nutty undertones. One of the more notable facts about Jamaican coffee cultivation is that nearly all of Jamaica’s coffee plants are direct descendants of the plants the French brought to Martinique in 1723.
 


hands holding coffee in mug
 
Honduras

Historically coffee in Honduras was fairly standard and unremarkable, but in recent years has been receiving more acclaim. Grown at an elevation of between 3,600-5,400 feet, this bean exhibits a round, medium body with a soft acidity and a vanilla/hazelnut aroma. Like the coffee of the nearby Costa Rica, the harvest time in Honduras is from November to April. While the country was slow to take to coffee production, it has been a primary cash crop (along with bananas) since the early 2000s.
 
coffee with flower drizzle

Guatemala

Known as a “true Central American coffee”, Guatemalan coffee has a full body, rich cocoa-like flavor, and a toffee-esque flavor. The beans here are washed and sun dried and give off citrusy, floral notes when brewed. One of the truly unique properties of Guatemalan coffee is its ability to retain its flavor, even through dark and even espresso roasts. Guatemala’s location between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, consistent climate (it averages 72F year-round!), and volcanic soil makes this an ideal spot for cultivation.
 
coffee in white cup
 
While you can buy these varieties of coffee (and many, many) more at your local grocery store or online, experts will tell you to consult a local coffee roaster to obtain green coffee beans which can then be roasted to your specification right before you pick them up. You will then want to leave the beans whole until you are ready to brew a cup and ground coffee goes stale much faster than whole beans. Enjoy!

full pizza cut into slices with ingredients surrounding

Where should you live based on your favorite pizza?

First off, lets talk crust: How thick is too thick?

Great! Now what about sauces?

Perfect. What kind of topping are you looking to add?

Let's talk cheese: What kind and how much?

How much of this pizza are you planning to eat?

Last question: What kind of atmosphere do you want to eat your pizza in?

Where should you live based on your favorite pizza?
Naples, Italy

You're a traditionalist and you like to enjoy your pizza the way it was meant to be enjoyed-- in high quality and quantity! The freshly crushed tomato sauce, hand tossed dough, just a hint of basil is perfection to you and even better is that nobody in Naples expects you to share your beloved pizza pie!
New York, NY

The Big Apple knows how to do pizza and you'll love their big slices! NYC was the first US city to have a pizza parlor and New Yorkers agree there's no pizza like New York pizza. With hundreds (if not thousands) of pizza joints sprinkled throughout the city, you'll be happy to know pizza is often sold by the slice here, meaning you can hit up multiple pizzerias to make up your meal!
Chicago, IL

Chicago style pizza is much like the city itself, familiar yet unique. Known as the Windy City, Chicago keeps warm with the comfort of thick, cheesy, toppings-filled pizzas. While New Yorkers and Neapolitans will scoff at these double decker pies, Chicago style lovers are warm hearted (and full-bellied) good-natured folks!
Los Angeles, California

Your anything goes attitude makes California pizza the perfect fit for you. Avocado? Throw it on! Microgreens? Sure! Tofu? Why not! California cuisine is known to be a little wacky, a lot healthy, and completely customizable which it the perfect pie for you!

Share your Results:

puppy pet on white carpet

What’s that SMELL?! Remove Pet Odors in 6 Easy Steps!

We’ve all been in one of those homes. Whether you’re a cat-lover, a dog-person, or have no interest in pets of any kind, we’ve all been in a home that smells like “pet.” It’s a distinct smell and it’s never good. Sometimes it’s a noxious ammonia smell from an unkempt litter box, other times it’s the smell of feet and garbage coming from a gassy Labrador. In either event, it makes you not want to stay, and most of the time the homeowner has no idea their home is that house.

With the rate of pet ownership on the rise, it’s likely that the next time you move, you will be buying or selling a home that has had pets. Depending on the type, number, and behaviors of the pets (and their owners!) these homes can come with their unique scents.

If you’re planning to list your home or you’ve just moved into a new one, you’ll want to address this right away. A new owner may choose to replace flooring such as carpets that hold stains and odors, but if you’re renting or selling it simply doesn’t make sense to do that. Follow these tips to tame the smells and remove pet stains.

Find out where the smell comes from

Because you might not be sure exactly what is causing the smell, when it happened, or even where it is, you may have to do some detective work.

To find urine stains, you can use a black-light. Feline urine glows very brightly because of the high levels of phosphorus, but canine urine will also appear. These can be purchased online or at most big box stores for relatively cheap and will make your cleaning process go much faster.

To remove the smell:

Once you’ve identified the areas you need to target, gather your supplies. The basics you’ll need will be baking soda, water, distilled white vinegar, paper towel, and if you’ve got some really tough stains to treat, an enzymatic cleaner.

To remove stain dried stains:

  1. Combine baking soda and water to form a paste
  2. Apply paste to the stain area generously. Cover with paper towel (or newspaper or upside-down laundry basket. Just keep kids and pets away) and let it dry.
  3. Once dry, spray or pour enough vinegar over the stain area. It will bubble and foam.
  4. Using a clean paper towel, press down on the stain to remove moisture.
  5. Repeat as necessary, no more than two times.
  6. Rinse with water and blot to absorb.

The vinegar smell may stay for a bit, but should dissipate after a couple of days. If this process does not lift the mess, use an enzymatic cleaner following the directions on the package. These cleaners are designed to break down and oxidize the chemicals in urine that cause stains and odors.

If the stains are really set in, you may need to rent a carpet cleaner to really get down in there. The professionals suggest not using steam, as the heat will set in the stain and smell, and it’s also recommended to not use the store-bought carpet cleaning chemicals as they can be dangerous for pets and ineffective for these stains. Instead, for these tough stains you’ll want to use a wet-vac with plain water and an enzymatic, pet-safe cleaner. Check out the clip below of Oprah on Live with Kelly & Michael to find out her favorite cleaner as well as tips for removing fresh pet stains!