June 26, 2017 at 04:42PM

According to a legend, tea was first discovered by the legendary Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Today, China is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. It is the most highly consumed beverage in the world. China still boasts many teahouses, particularly in cities with a strong teahouse culture such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Chengdu. Different regions are famous for growing different types of tea. Hangzhou is famous for producing a type of green tea called Longjing or the Dragon Well tea. Tea tastes also vary regionally. Drinkers in Beijing tend to prefer jasmine tea while in Shanghai prefer green tea. Processing raw tea leaves for consumption is a time and labor-intensive activity and still done by hand in many areas in China. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea pickers tend to be seasonal workers who migrate from all parts of the country during harvest time. The pickers work from early morning until evening for an average wage of around 120 RMB (around 16 euros) a day. Tea can be sold from around 80 RMB (around 11 euros) to over 4,000 RMB (around 525 euro) per kilogram. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea. Chinese people believe that the practice of brewing and drinking tea can bring the spirit and wisdom of human beings to a higher level. — By EPA

Seasonal workers harvest Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 13. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)

from Big Picture

from Blogger June 26, 2017 at 04:42PM

June 22, 2017 at 12:42AM

The huge forest fire that erupted on June 17 in central Portugal killed at least 64 people and injured hundreds more, with many trapped in their cars by the flames. It is the deadliest natural disaster to hit the country in decades. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, as a claim stating arsonists may have started the devastating blaze emerged on Wednesday.

National Republican Guards GIPS and firefighters try to extinguish a fire in a forest after a wildfire took dozens of lives on June 19 near Pedrogao Grande, in Leiria district, Portugal. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

from Big Picture

from Blogger June 22, 2017 at 12:42AM

June 16, 2017 at 06:38PM

A majestic procession of 54 tall ships will grace Boston Harbor Saturday with a Grand Parade of Sail that puts history in motion. The ship’s arrival will mark a six-day celebration of maritime glory as more than a million visitors are expected to see and board the vessels docked in the city before they depart on Thursday. — By Bill Greene

SN Lance Taylor of the US Constitution Color Guard prepares for the Opening Ceremony of Sail Boston at the Boston Harbor Hotel Rotunda on June 16. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)

from Big Picture

from Blogger June 16, 2017 at 06:38PM

The Wicked Difference A Doorknob Makes

There are a few things that people don’t give a lot of thought to. Why no one has created a more advanced zipper? The fact that you’ve never actually seen your own face, just a reflection of it. (!??!) Unless they’re heinously offensive, do you even give much thought to the type of door knobs in a house? Am I right?

While I have yet to invent a new zipper, and find a way to dislodge my eyeballs to look at my face, I can DEFINITELY help with the doorknob situation.

I teamed up with Schlage to chat about the difference a doorknob makes. Instead of doing a before and after, I thought it would be fun to show you 6 of my favorite knobs on the same space, styled just a little differently.

The first thing that I need to announce is how heavy these knobs are. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. They are solid and have some serious weight to them!

Schlage has so many options, so if you see something that you love but want a different finish or knob style –  chances are FANTASTIC that they can make it happen.

My first pick was the Latitude Lever + Century Trim in Matte Black. I love the color and how simple and modern the style is without being too basic. There is a slight curve on the back trim piece that ups the style cred instantly.


My second pick was the Accent Lever in Satin Brass. The finish is the kicker here. It’s the perfect brass for those of us that are obsessed and need it everywhere. My only grievance is that it isn’t available in all of the knob styles; maybe we should start a petition? #makebrassgreatagain


The Northbrook Lever and Upland Trim is the definition of modern hardware. It’s angular and masculine and so so good. I love it in the Satin Nickel finish.


The Bowery Knob and Greyson Trim is simple and subtle, this style will literally go with everything, which is great because it comes in 6 different finishes.


I was so surprised at how much I LOVED the Accent Lever and Wakefield Trim in Bright Chrome, it’s a little more polished and traditional than I would have normally gravitated toward but I seriously love the oval trim piece.


The most unexpected item on the list was the Georgian Knob and Brookshire Trim, the plans for the Merc have softened my heart to the ornate things of the world, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Berkshire was one of my favorite trim options. I get that it’s not for every house, but for those that are aiming for something more traditional and formal; the Berkshire could definitely be one of your new best friends.

The thing that I love about all of these doorknob options from Schlage is that they all look intentional, they look designed, custom and amazing. Each one brings its own personality to the space. So now is the fun part, look around your house, are your doorknobs saying what you want them to say? Or are they saying I’m builder basic/I love 1982/No one loves me and has long forgotten that I exist? Check out the options that Schlage has, their prices are👌🏼 !!

Huge thanks to Schlage for teaming up with me on this post!



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Let’s Talk Money: Figuring Out Financing for The Merc

Hey hey! So just a heads up on this post, if money talk makes you uncomfortable you might want to come back tomorrow cause today I’m diving into to financing situation for the Merc. You guys know that I’m an open book, even when things are impossibly hard and I look like a fool, Why would this be the exception?

Let me start off this post by saying, I get that its taboo to talk about finances. But its also really interesting, especially when it comes to unique situations like the Merc. Getting a loan (or even seeing if you can qualify) is downright scary. Yes, its a huge deal but its also REALLY REALLY exciting. So lets talk shall we?

Finding financing was the biggest hurdle that we faced from the word go. Being the eternal optimist I looked at the Merc like “here is this amazing building that I want to save, I mean, who wouldn’t want to finance it?” Spoiler alert, everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

The zoning and usage made getting a loan for it extra complicated. Apparently there are 2 options on a loan application, residential or commercial. Using a commercial building as our main residence made checking off one of those boxes difficult. You can’t get a commercial loan for a residential building, and you can’t get a residential loan for a commercial building. The situation reminds me of the necklace from Never Ending Story. Its  complicated interweaving just keeps going and going and going. (Man I need to force my kids to watch that this summer!)

I started out talking to a mortgage guy that our agent recommended. He came back pretty quickly with a no and suggested that we try approaching smaller local banks that had a vested interest in Southern Utah, and also look into private lenders. Because of our experience with the house we almost built and the necessity for private money with that, I knew what we were going into and I did not want to go down that path. So I started with the local bank option first. I got a list of 5 banks and started making phone calls.  After being told no a few times (one didn’t do commercial lending, one said it was too complicated) I asked one of the loan officers if it was so difficult to find financing, how did people do projects like this? To which she replied, “they don’t.”

Point made.

A few banks told me maybe and I submitted 3 applications to 3 different banks. Pretty quickly I could see that this was going to not only take someone approving our application, but advocating for us and really caring about this process. This knight in shining armor came in the form of a man named Bryan from Zions Bank.

I will never forget the moment. After weeks of trying to figure out lending I was sitting outside playing in the front yard with the baby when Bryan called and told me that he thought that there was a possibility that we could find a way to make the loan work. I felt like Lloyd Christmas, it was all I needed.

Because of the use and zoning the loan needed to be commercial. For those that aren’t familiar, commercial loans require a larger downpayment (usually 20%) and have a quicker amortization (aka payoff date) so you have to have more money up front and your payments are higher.

Our original plan was turned on its head a little when we couldn’t get financing lined up before the seller had to close. When the seller purchased the Merc a year prior he had seller financing and his note was due April 1, so it was not optional, we had to close by that date.

That was a stressful moment.

We were planning on putting down 20% to secure our loan so we had a good portion of it already, but definitely not enough. We needed to get a little creative. The purchase price of the Merc was $300k. We ended up paying off the seller’s note at $225k and he put a lien against the building for the remainder that would then be rolled into our construction loan.

So that is where we’ve been hanging out. In this limbo of owning the building but not having the funds or the green light to start the renovation…until yesterday!

Yesterday we finally closed on the construction loan and I AM SO HAPPY!!! Bryan and the whole team at Zions Bank (hi Spencer and Stewart!!) worked so hard on making this happen. It would have been so easy for them to walk away and say it was too complicated but they stuck with me and I could not be more grateful!! They get a big fat glowing gold recommendation star, my experience could not have been better. Our AMAZING agent Meghan worked relentlessly and I just can’t believe its finally happened!!

So what do the numbers look like?

We ended up with a 20 year amortization and our interest rate is 4.92%. The loan amount is based on the renovation being 100% financed (no DIY, partners, or child labor is factored in) The construction loan matures (meaning that the construction needs to be done and we need to have our C.O.) by Jan. 1, 2018. One thing that I didn’t realize until this process started was that typically in your closing costs the bank factors in the interest during construction so that you don’t have a payment. YAY for that! Once the construction closes, the loan amount is rolled into the regular commercial loan. Our payments are manageable and we’re hoping to save even more by sticking on budget and doing a good portion of the work ourselves. #becauseDIY

Phew, was that a lot? It feels like a lot but now there’s nothing standing between us and our dream project!! Are you guys ready to get started?!



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