Your Ultimate Guide to Tea

Want to swap your morning coffee for something new? Look no further! Tea is a wonderful alternative to coffee. This warm beverage is packed with nutrients and health benefits. Check out this guide to learn about each variety and what it has to offer. 

White Tea
White tea is the least processed of all the tea varieties. It is harvested before the leaves fully open giving it a sweeter, more delicate flavor. White tea has a lower caffeine content than both green and balck tea. This antioxidant rich beverage offers a refreshing fruity flavor that can easily be enjoyed at any time of the day. 

Herbal Tea
Herbal tea, unlike its counterparts, incorporates herbs, spices and other plants. This tea variety is uncaffeinated and offers many health-benefits based on the type. 

  • Chamomile tea offers a mellow, honey-sweet flavor. It is said to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. It also helps to reduce menstrual pains and aid with muscle spasms. 
  • Rooibos tea is smoky, sweet and nutty in flavor. It helps to improve blood pressure and circulation while also monitoring good and bad cholesterol levels. 
  • Peppermint tea is perfect for soothing an upset stomach. It also helps in improving constipation, motion sickness and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Peppermint tea can also help reduce headaches. 
  • Ginger tea is fantastic for fighting morning sickness and indigestion. This spicy beverage can also aid in relieving joint pain. 
  • Hibiscus tea offers a sweet, fruity flavor. It helps decrease blood pressure and improve liver health. 

Green Tea 
Green tea is made by steaming and pan-frying tea leaves then drying them. Green tea offers a unique grass-like, earthy flavor. This variety has more caffeine than white tea, but less caffeine than black tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to help reduce inflammation.

Black Tea 
Black tea is the most consumed of all the varieties. Along with its high caffeine content and strong, earthy flavor, black tea offers a variety of health benefits. Its high antioxidant content has been shown to reduce risk of disease. Black tea has also been shown to reduce inflammation and support healthy immune function.


Tips to Improve Sleep While Traveling on Business

If your job requires travel, you may find yourself spending a lot of time on airplanes and in hotels. With the constant change of scenery and constant movement, getting the rest you need isn’t always easy. With these tips, any busy business traveler can improve their sleep while traveling and stick to their regular routine.

Prepare a Smart Schedule
Creating a well thought out itinerary, even for short trips, is the best way to start out a business trip. Book flights at times you would normally be sleeping, especially if you are a good airplane sleeper. Otherwise, book for the day before, if possible, to give your body and mind time to rest and reset. Plan out what and where you may eat to not waste time or fall back on fast food that will keep you up throughout the night.

Sleep on Your Flight
Try to get as much sleep on the plane ride as possible. The more you sleep here, the better rested you will be for meetings. This is especially helpful when you fly a red-eye or have a longer flight. Not everyone finds it easy to sleep on an airplane, however. Try natural remedies, a sleep mask or headphones to help relax your mind for a full rest. Even if it’s only resting, your body will thank you.

Eat a Healthy Diet
It’s important to keep your diet healthy while traveling. Though this may seem hard to do, especially when you’re surrounded by airport restaurants and snack shops or opting for room service at your hotel or a quick fast food stop. The healthier the food you put into your body, the better you can rest when it comes time for bed. 

Unplug and Wind Down
When you aren’t sleeping in your own bed, it’s easy to distract yourself with your phone. The end of each day is prime time to unplug from technology, social media and email to unwind from a long flight or meetings. With less distraction and reducing screen time can significantly improve your sleep, even when you aren’t traveling. Traveling will find a way to mess with your daily routine, including the time your mind and body needs for rest. So, the next time you’re sent away on business, remember to follow these tips to help you keep your sleep schedule on track.


5 Romantic Dates for Valentine's Day at Home

Home is where the heart is. So this year, instead of making dinner reservations or buying tickets to the movie theater, why not spend quality time in the home you have built with your significant other on Valentine’s Day? Enjoy a romantic and relaxing night in to celebrate your love with these five at-home date ideas. 

Cook a Romantic Dinner Together
You don’t need a restaurant full of waiters, hosts and other dates happening around you to have a romantic meal. Instead, choose your favorite recipe, or recreate one from your favorite dining spot, from the comfort of home. Break out the aprons, pans and ingredients and, together, cook up a dish. Not only will this experience be romantic and fun, but it offers a chance for you to work together and create something delicious.

Snuggle Up With a Romantic Movie
Forget those sticky floors and expensive snacks at your local theater. Instead, hop onto one of your streaming platforms, search for a romantic movie, or one that you both want to see, and press play. Be sure to grab all of your blankets and pillows to create a cozy space. Light a few candles, grab some snacks and snuggle up with your loved one for a comfortable and romantic night in.

Play a Few Games
One of the best parts about date night with your loved one is being playful. This Valentine’s Day, break out those dusty board games and get ready for a night of laughs and competitive fun. Whether you choose a problem-solving game, a strategy-style or a light-hearted game of truth or dare, this is a chance to strengthen your relationship. Sit back, relax and have some fun with games, snacks and lots of love.

Have a Relaxing Spa Night
There’s nothing better than going to a spa for a day of pure relaxation. Or is there? Instead of spending hundreds at the spa, turn your home into a pampering extravaganza. Light a few aromatherapy candles, draw a bath full of bubbles or bath bombs and grab some mud masks. Before you know it, you will both be relaxed and ready for a romantic night ahead. 

Plan a Scavenger Hunt
Did you get a nice surprise gift for your partner? Instead of wrapping it up and hanging it to them, write a series of clues to guide them throughout the house, leading them to a nice reward at the end. Include creative clues, like photos, riddles or silly notes, to make this scavenger hunt even more fun!


How Could Buying a Waterfront Property Affect Your Homeowners Insurance Rates?

Homeowners insurance premiums are based on many factors, including location. A house near a body of water will typically have higher homeowners insurance rates than a home located further inland.

Why It Costs More to Insure a House on the Water
Premiums for houses near the water are not higher due to the risk of flooding, since a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover flooding. Houses on the water and nearby structures can be damaged by waves, wind, and moisture. If a lakeside property has a permanent dock or pier, a standard homeowners insurance policy may not cover damage to it caused by weather. You may need to purchase a separate endorsement.

Insurance rates for homes near a coastline are higher primarily due to the risk of storm-related wind damage. Those areas are more vulnerable to hurricanes and nor’easters than properties located farther inland. Premiums may also be higher than average for homes that are not located directly along the shoreline, but that are close enough that they could be impacted by a major storm near the coast.

Homeowners insurance policies for waterfront properties often have a separate deductible for catastrophic wind damage that is significantly higher than the deductible for other types of damage. That is intended to discourage homeowners from filing small claims and to encourage them only to submit claims for serious damage.

How Companies Cover the Costs of Major Storm Damage
Some smaller, local or regional insurance companies sell policies to international reinsurance companies that write policies around the world and that have the financial resources to cover claims for catastrophic storm damage. Diversification helps them afford large claims, since it’s unlikely that several major storms would devastate multiple areas in a single year. That reduces the financial burden on smaller carriers and lets them issue policies to local customers. Reinsurance companies use computer models to assess risk in specific areas and to set premiums. 

How to Get Affordable Homeowners Insurance Coverage
You may qualify for lower homeowners insurance rates if you take steps to reduce the risk of damage to your home from a storm. For example, you can remove old structures that could be damaged or blown around by strong winds and install storm shutters to protect the windows. You can also replace or repair the roof using hurricane-resistant materials. 

Consider the Total Cost of Owning a Waterfront Home
Owning a house on the water may be your dream, but it’s important to think about all the costs associated with it. Homeowners insurance premiums for a waterfront property may be significantly higher than they would be for a house farther inland. Before you buy a house near the water, research insurance premiums so you don’t get shocked later and realize you can’t afford to insure your dream home.


Elements of a Luxury Primary Bedroom

Your bedroom should be a place of refuge and relaxation. It should be a space void of clutter, and just because it’s not a high-traffic space, doesn’t mean it should be an afterthought. A luxuriously restful bedroom can help you recharge and start your day successfully. Read on for inspiration on the elements every luxury primary bedroom needs to create the relaxing oasis you deserve.

Choose One Focal Point
Whether it’s a glamorous four-poster bed, a pair of plush velvet armchairs or a stunning shagreen dresser, choose one piece as your focal point and have the rest of your furniture complement this one piece. This approach will reduce visual clutter and create an understated, serene vibe.

Softness Underfoot
If your home primarily consists of hardwood and tile flooring, low pile, wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom will feel like the ultimate luxury. However, if you prefer to not cover the wood floors, a wool rug underfoot will create a similar feeling. Size up on the rug, so you can ensure that the softness extends beyond the bed.

Invest in Art
Going to sleep and waking up surrounded by your favorite art pieces will positively impact the way you end and begin your day. So, instead of saving your best works of art for the high-traffic areas, allow these types of pieces into your bedroom so you can personally enjoy them.

Hang a Statement Light Fixture
Instead of relying solely on recessed lighting and table lamps, install a hanging statement light fixture for elements of romance and glamor. Bedside sconces and art lights also add additional lighting layers that contribute to a bedroom’s overall coziness.

Keep the Surfaces Clear
Nightstands can quickly become catchalls for your odds and ends. Make it a point for your nightstand to be a sacred space. Keep the surface as clear as possible, with a water carafe, small clock and a tray for your book or tablet. Keeping a clear nightstand will create a vibe of luxe simplicity and make your room feel lighter.

The same goes for the dressers. Keeping this space minimal, including only a tray with your necessities, a picture frame or two and a small lamp, results in restrained elegance.

Incorporate Greenery
Fresh greenery or a weekly bouquet of fresh flowers adds freshness and depth to any room. Greenery is often the finishing touch that a space needs, and it will make an average bedroom feel more luxe. As a bonus, it will help purify the air, which is advantageous for sleeping.

Choose Overfilled Pillows
Overly plush pillows will elevate your bed from a basic bed to a cloudlike destination. Overfilled, plush pillows will make you feel like you’re sinking into a bed in a five-star resort and provide the ultimate in relaxation.

Design a Custom Closet
A custom closet allows you to maximize your space and organization and makes getting dressed feel like a luxury. Whether the closet is a full-sized room or a walk-in closet, you’ll find that getting dressed becomes an experience in itself. Designing a bedroom and keeping luxury top-of-mind will result in restful sleep and an overall sense of well-being. 


The Ultimate Kitchen Design Guide

Even if you’re working closely with an interior designer or a kitchen design firm, understanding what goes into a kitchen design is an integral part of the process. Before working with a design professional, it’s helpful for you to understand the different components that go into the planning stages of designing a kitchen to ensure the process is as seamless as possible. If you have a kitchen redesign planned soon, read on to learn more about everything that goes into a kitchen design project.

Make a List of What You Want
Assess your current kitchen, and make a list of all the missing features and functions. For example, if you entertain often, perhaps you need an additional prep sink or a second dishwasher. Or, if you love getting the newest kitchen appliance, you may need extra storage to conceal these larger appliances. If you have a busy household, maybe you need warming drawers built-in to the cabinetry to keep everyone’s meals warm. Or, if your family tends to gather around the island, perhaps you need more creative seating options. Whatever you feel like your kitchen is missing, write it down. It’s easier to scale back than add to your list once the design process begins.

Set the Budget
No matter how high-end your kitchen is, every project has a budget. This will make the project easier to design and implement, giving your designer better insight into selecting materials. Plumbing, electric, appliances, materials and labor all go into the kitchen design budget. To cover any unexpected costs, it’s wise to build in an extra 10-20% into your overall budget.

Visualize the Layout
While your design professional will create the layout for you, it’s your job to thoroughly think through how you use your kitchen. For example, if you and your partner like to cook together, you’ll need ample space for two cooks. If you have younger children who like to be in the kitchen with you, you’ll require plenty of room to move around. The working triangle is a long-standing guide to laying out the kitchen. This means the sink, refrigerator and oven range are in a triangular shape and help create a more seamless cooking experience. 

Factor in Lighting
Don’t let lighting become an afterthought. As you plan the layout and cabinetry design, consider where you want light sources. For example, you’ll likely want recessed lighting in the ceiling in addition to pendants over the island. You may also want to include sconces and picture lights into your design to add a visual element.

Think Through the Creative
Gathering as many inspirational photos as possible is the best first step to take so you can start to shape your kitchen’s design vision. Whether you prefer white, colored or natural wood cabinetry, selecting the cabinet color is the best place to begin to determine your kitchen’s design aesthetic. The cabinet color will help guide your decisions on the wall color, flooring, the countertop material and shade, the backsplash material, the hardware finish and the lighting options. 


Foods That Can Help You to a Better Night's Sleep

Whether from work worries, other stressors or just a too-busy to-do list, everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. But nutritionists tell us that making the right food choices can help us get a better night’s snooze. Try upping your intake of these common vittles and see if your sleep quality improves.

  • Bananas – Besides its big helping of potassium, the humble banana offers a good amount of vitamin B6. Eating one before bedtime can boost brain-calming levels of serotonin.
  • Salmon – The vitamin D and omega-3s found in salmon is another way to increase the production of soothing serotonin. It’s best eaten no more than twice a week, however, because of concerns about the mercury it may contain.
  • Almonds and Brazil Nuts – Both are packed with magnesium, which can enhance levels of sleep-regulating melatonin. A study reported by the National Library of Medicine reported a 10% drop in the number of students reporting insomnia after eating 10 almonds a day for 14 days.  
  • Crab – Low dietary intake of the mineral selenium has been linked with difficulty nodding off. Eating more crab meat is one way of getting your selenium fix, plus crucial sleep nutrients like calcium and vitamin B6.
  • Soy Foods – Greater intake of isoflavones, found in soy products such as tofu, are linked with higher chances of getting optimal sleep. Just one daily portion of soy, which could be tofu, a glass of soy milk or a serving of edamame, made it more likely people got enough snooze time.
  • Butter Beans – Also known as lima beans, and delicious in soups or salads, these humble beans contain phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B6, making them a powerhouse when it comes to inducing better sleep.
  • Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese on crackers or crispbread is an ideal bedtime snack, providing a balance of tryptophan for initiating serotonin and melatonin formation and carbohydrate, needed to transport this amino acid into the brain.

What to Do If Some Rooms Are Colder Than Others

During the winter, you may find that most of your house is nice and warm, but one or more rooms are colder. There can be several reasons for that. You may be able to address the problem yourself, or you may have to call an HVAC technician. 

Things You Can Try Yourself
A colder room may have drafts. In some cases, closing the curtains or hanging heavy drapes can help retain heat and keep the room warm. If one or more windows are old and damaged, adding caulk or weather stripping may eliminate drafts. If those strategies don’t work, you may need to replace old windows. 

A vent that provides warm air to a room may either not be fully open or there may be an obstruction. Check to see if the vent in a cold room is open and make sure that there is no furniture blocking it. 

If necessary, use soap and water or a cleaning solution to clean the grate that covers the vent. Use a vacuum to remove whatever dirt and debris you can from inside the vent. If you think there might be something deeper inside the ductwork that is blocking airflow, have an HVAC technician conduct an inspection. If you look inside the vent and see rodent droppings, contact a pest control company.

Your HVAC filter needs to be replaced regularly. A dirty filter can reduce airflow. Check the filter and replace it if necessary. That may take care of the issue.

Sometimes an HVAC system needs to be balanced to give each room an appropriate amount of airflow and keep the entire house at a consistent temperature. HVAC systems have supply runs that come off the supply trunk and provide heat to individual rooms. If your system has dampers in the basement or attic, you can adjust them to regulate airflow to different parts of the house. If your HVAC system doesn’t have dampers, you may be able to make adjustments at the supply registers. 

When to Contact a Professional
Ductwork may be damaged and may need to be repaired by a professional. In some houses, ductwork was installed in a way that makes it difficult for adequate airflow to reach certain rooms. In those situations, an HVAC professional may have to repair or modify the ductwork. 

The location of a room may be responsible for the difference in temperature. If a room is located along an exterior wall in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, if it’s poorly insulated or if it’s above an uninsulated space, such as the garage, you may need to hire a professional to install more insulation.


Why You Should Choose a Long-Term Investment Strategy and Stick to It

Investing for a long-term goal, such as retirement, requires a sound strategy. All too often, people make investment decisions based on current market conditions and recent changes. That approach can backfire. You’ll generally be better off if you decide on a long-term strategy and stay the course.

Stocks Usually Do Well Over Time
It’s common for individual stocks and the stock market as a whole to experience wide swings. That can make investors nervous, but it’s a normal process. 

Although the stock market goes up and down, over a period of decades, it tends to follow an upward trajectory. Even accounting for periods of significant economic decline, if you look at the big picture, stocks tend to perform well over the long term. If you invest in stocks and hold onto them for several years or decades, you will most likely see a substantial return. 

Reacting to Market Fluctuations Can Backfire
Investors often get worried when the stock market dips or a particular company that they own stock in is struggling. They sometimes think that it will be better to sell stocks before things get worse. 

When people try to time the market, it’s hard to get things right because there are so many factors at play. Investors have limited information, and circumstances can quickly change. When investors sell stocks during a market downturn, they typically earn less overall than they would have earned by staying invested and waiting for the market to rebound.

Making Emotional Decisions Can Cost You
If you get nervous when the market is in decline, you may sell stocks when the price is falling and get less than you initially paid for them. When the market begins to improve, you may decide to buy back stocks and pay more than you sold them for previously. You would be better off just holding onto those stocks and riding out the storm. 

If you sell stocks, you will have to pay taxes. Your tax rate will depend on how long you owned the stocks and your income tax bracket. You can also incur fees when you sell and buy stocks. All of those costs can eat away at your investment portfolio’s balance. If you stay invested, on the other hand, you can earn dividends and reinvest them to grow your nest egg.

Get Financial Planning Advice
Your individual investing strategy will depend on your goal, how much time you have available to invest, how comfortable you are with risk and other personal factors. If you need advice on how to save for retirement or another goal, consult a financial planning professional. 


Pros and Cons of Buying a House With Cash

Most people who purchase a house take out a mortgage, but some can pay the entire cost upfront and buy a property outright. If you have the funds available to pay cash for a new home, that can give you some distinct advantages, but it’s also important to consider the risks.

Benefits of Paying Cash for a House
If you can afford to pay cash, you can avoid all of the hassles and costs associated with getting a mortgage. You won’t have to shop around for the best rates, submit applications or wait for approval. You won’t have to pay fees associated with a mortgage at the time of closing, and you can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest. 

Being able to pay in cash can make your offer more appealing to a seller. Sometimes two parties agree on a purchase price, but the deal falls through because the buyer can’t get financing. If a seller gets multiple offers, you can pay in cash and others can’t, the seller will be more likely to accept your bid. Even if another buyer offers more money, the seller may accept a lower price from you if you can pay in cash and the other buyer can’t. 

Owning a house outright can give you peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about the monthly cost of a mortgage and will have room in your budget to focus on other priorities.

Downsides of Buying a House With Cash
You may have additional financial goals, such as investing for retirement and your kids’ college education. If you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for a house, you won’t be able to put those funds toward your other long-term priorities. 

If you itemize your tax deductions and you have a mortgage, you will be able to deduct interest. That may significantly reduce your tax liability. That won’t be an option if you pay cash for a house and don’t take out a mortgage.  

Buying a house with cash can leave you with little money in savings. If you lose your job, the house needs major repairs or you face some other type of financial emergency, you may struggle to make ends meet. 

If you buy a house with cash, a large sum of money will be tied up in a single investment. If you fall on hard times and need to sell your home, you may not be able to find a buyer quickly or you may have to accept less than you paid for the property. 

Weigh the Pros and Cons
Everyone’s situation is different. Think about how much money you have to work with, how much you have already saved for retirement and other long-term goals, and how comfortable you would be having a large sum of money tied up in a house. If you need additional advice, consult a financial professional.

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