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See What $250,000 Will Buy In Today's Housing Market

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Each week we take a look at how much house you can expect to get at a specific price point. This week, we’re looking at homes priced around $250,000.

Cedar Rapids, IA

9330 Deer Valley Dr, Cedar Rapids IA
For sale: $249,000

cedar rapids house zillow

Spacious and sitting on more than an acre lot, this Cedar Rapids home is still within a neighborhood with all the amenities. The 2,642-square-foot home has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.

Hendersonville, TN

151 Mansker Park Dr, Hendersonville TN
For sale: $247,900

Located about 20 minutes outside Nashville, this suburban home in Hendersonville is just over 3,000 square feet with 3 beds and 3 baths.

Kansas City, MO

9808 N Farley Ave, Kansas City MO
For sale: $249,950

In Kansas City, $250,000 gets you 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in a 5,000-square-foot floor plan. This 2007-built home has hardwood floors downstairs and an office.

Marietta, GA

2285 Glenridge Dr, Marietta GA
For sale: $254,900

A brick exterior with black shutters makes for a curb-friendly home for sale in Marietta. Sitting on an acre, the 2,410-square-foot home has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.

East Hampton, CT

21 Dogwood Dr, East Hampton CT
For sale: $248,000

At the end of a cul-de-sac, this East Hampton home sits on nearly an acre of wooded land. The 4-bedroom, 2-bath home has an additional room that can be used as an office or nursery.

SEE ALSO: The spooky stories behind 10 of America's most famous haunted houses >

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The MTA's New Fare Hike Plan Is Bad For Tourists, Good For Locals

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nyc metrocards

In October, NYC's Metropolitan Transportation Authority began debating the best and fairest ways to raise fares in 2013.

The latest plan, unofficially revealed today, combines elements of four original proposals.

According to the Daily News, the "hybrid plan" will raise the price of a single ride from $2.25 to $2.50, the 7-day MetroCard from $29 to $30, and the thirty-day pass from $104 to $112.

The "bonus" on pay-per-rides will drop from 7 percent to 5 percent, so a $20 purchase will come with $1 free, rather than $1.40. It will, however, be available on purchases as low as $5, rather than the current $10.

In light of the fact that a fare hike is not really avoidable — the MTA's budget needs to raise $450 million from fares and tolls in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported— that is relatively good news for low-income riders, who cannot afford to buy monthly passes. Two of the four plans proposed in October called for the elimination of the bonus altogether.

The latest plan also spares those who do buy the 30-day cards. One plan suggested raising the price of the 30-day unlimited pass to $125.

Tourists and others who use public transportation only occasionally are less likely to benefit from those bonuses, and so would pick up more of the tab.

Andrew Albert, a nonvoting member of the MTA board, told the Daily News:

It’s the best option in a bad scenario. Ideally, the city and state would give bigger subsidies for mass transit and we wouldn’t have this budget problem. We wouldn’t have to raise fares. But given our subsidies, or lack of subsidies, this takes it easier on a vast majority of our bus and subway customers.

The planned 2013 fare hike, to take effect in March, would be the fourth in five years.

Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, told the New York Times:

At least this part to me seems to be helping the poorer customers. But a fare hike is a fare hike is a fare hike. You can dress it up, do good things, but at the end, you’re still asking for more money from your customers.

The Straphangers Campaign, a NYPIRG group, argues hikes are unnecessary. It cites a plan by New York State Assemblymember Jim Brennan for a transportation bond referendum that could provide extra funds for the MTA, eliminating the need for fare hikes.

SEE ALSO: Underground Construction Photos From NYC's New $2.4 Billion Subway Station

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12 Rules Of Etiquette For Your Office Holiday Party

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holiday party christmas sweaters beer shame sad

It's office holiday party season, but that doesn't mean you can cut loose with your co-workers like you do with your college buddies.

"The holiday party is very challenging for people in the business world," said Barbara Pachter, a business etiquette expert and president of Pachter & Associates. "Part of the reason is that people forget it's a business activity, and they let it all hang out when they are drinking," she said.

She shared some pro tips for surviving your office holiday party without making a fool of yourself.

Ask about the dress code — and stick to it.

If the party is at someone's home, call ahead and ask about the dress code.

But dress is important no matter where the party is being held. "You don't want people talking about what you wore the day or night after the party," Pachter said.

And for women, the holiday party is not the time to start showing cleavage. "You don't want to dress seductively; it's still a business event," she said.



Have a snack before the party.

"Eat a little before you go to a business social event," Pachter said. "If you drink, you'll have something in your stomach, and if the food is delayed, you won't be hungry."



Don't forget to show up.

It's not really optional, said Pachter. And if you're invited to more than one office party, you should try to show up at all of them.

"People will expect you to be there," she said. "It's an opportunity for you to meet people, and the person you talk to may wind up being the person who interviews you for your next job in three months."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Inside All Of This Weekend's Star-Studded Art Basel Parties In Miami

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Kim Kardashian Kanye West Vera Wang Art BaselArt Basel Miami is an international contemporary art fair held each year in Miami Beach.

Since it began in 2002 as an offshoot of the annual art fair in BaselSwitzerland, Art Basel Miami Beach has become as much about the parties celebrating art and artists as the art itself.

This year's fair brought out the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Paris Hilton, Demi Moore and countless other bold-faced names.

See how Hollywood's A-list partied in style during this weekend's Art Basel.

The week's festivities kicked off Wednesday night with a beachside barbecue for Art.sy at the Soho Beach House hosted by Carter Cleveland, Larry Gagosian, Wendi Murdoch, Peter Thiel & Dasha Zhukova.



Before the party, hosts Wendi Murdoch and Dasha Zhukova posed with model Karlie Kloss and Demi Moore during a private dinner.



Host and Art.sy founder Carter Cleveland surveyed the scene solo.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Where To Find The Best Latkes In New York City

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Latkes, potato pancakes

It's the third night of Hannukah, which means lighting a menorah, playing dreidel, and feasting on latkes.

Latkes, or fried potato pancakes, are a delicious, oily indulgence generally reserved only for this time of year.

We've found the restaurants that serve the best latkes in New York City.

Of course there are kosher delis that make latkes just like your grandma used to, but there are also some interesting twists on the classic latke, from a peppery Ukrainian potato pancake to a Mexican version that's topped with jalapeños and tomatillo apple salsa. 

Top with some apple sauce or sour cream, and nosh away!

Katz's Delicatessen

205 E. Houston St.

Katz's is most famous for its pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and its role in the film "When Harry Met Sally," as the site where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm.

But the classic Jewish deli in Manhattan's Lower East Side also makes a fantastic latke year-round served with apple sauce or sour cream.



Kutsher's Tribeca

186 Franklin St.

Kutsher's Tribeca is a modern Jewish American bistro that opened last year. 

Named after the beloved Catskills resort, the restaurant serves latkes that are small but flavorful, and topped with local apple compote and sour cream or sour cream and three types of caviar.

The restaurant is also offering "Eight Nights of Latkes," serving up a different take on the traditional potato pancake each night of Hannukah.



The 2nd Ave Deli

162 East 33rd St.

The 2nd Avenue Deli is a New York institution that's been serving up kosher deli cuisine, like matzo ball soup, salami sandwiches and blintzes, since the 1950s.

Order the latkes—a hefty portion alone—or, if you're feeling particularly glutinous try the Instant Heart Attack, a sandwich that consists of two large potato pancakes stuffed with corned beef, pastrami, turkey, or salami.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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10 Holiday Gifts That Give Back

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red cross emergency shelter

I recently covered 10 Holiday Gifts for $10 or Less, but since the season of giving is upon and and ’tis better to give than to receive, why not consider giving a gift that gives back, too?

Check out 10 feel-good gift ideas >

As consumers reel from an uncertain economy, job losses, and natural disasters, it can be difficult to embrace the concept of holiday shopping when so many members of our communities and others around the world are struggling with basic, everyday needs.

There is a way to clear your conscious from the holiday shopping-induced guilt: Focus on giving gifts that give back. Not only will you feel good about supporting a cause you care about, but the recipient will appreciate the thoughtful and unique gesture.

Not to mention the charity you select benefits as well.

And just so you know, giving back is actually good for you.

According to Naomi Eisenberger, a UCLA assistant professor of psychology, “When people talk about the ways in which social support is good for our health, they typically assume that the benefits of social support come from the support we receive from others, but it now seems likely that some of the health benefits of social support actually come from the support we provide to others.”

Imagine if every gift on your holiday shopping list also gave back to a charity. That sure would result in a lot of feel-good feelings floating around — talk about embracing the holiday spirit!

If you are ready to make your dollars count and spread some extra holiday cheer, here are 10 holiday gifts that give back.

Endangered Animals

WWF Species Adoption – $50 to $250

Give a gift that will help protect the future of nature.

Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats.



Military Families

ONEHOPE Wine - $18.99 (for the Zinfandel for military families)

ONEHOPE Wine donates an astounding 50% of its profits to partner charities benefiting a variety of causes.

Their Zinfandel is paired with helping families of fallen troops attend Snowball Express to enhance the quality of life for post 9/11 service members.



Disaster Victims

Emergency Shelter from the American Red Cross – $50

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this gift is the perfect way to honor those affected by the storm.

Disaster victims often have to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Just $50 gift provides urgently needed essentials for one disaster victim, including three meals, two blankets, one cot and personal supplies.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The Best Classic Eateries On New York's Lower East Side

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katz's

A century ago, New York City's Lower East side was a thriving community for Jews immigrating to the United States.

Today, it's better known as a hipster enclave than for its immigrant past.

But some culinary havens have managed to survive the ebb and flow of New York life, and many have even experienced something of a rebirth, giving the neighborhood a dose of nostalgia and kitsch.

We've rounded up some of our favorite classic eateries for a historical walking-and-dining tour of the neighborhood. They're a throwback to the old world, and might offer some inspiration for a Hannukah gift or dinner.

RUSS AND DAUGHTERS: A quick walk down East Houston Street from the Second Avenue stop on the F train, this appetizing store, which opened in the early 1900s, has been in the same spot, owned by the same family, for four generations.



Choose from a variety of smoked fish, including salmon, herring, white fish, sable, sturgeon, and peppered mackerel. If you're feeling a particular yen for luxury, have a worker help you pick out a tin of fine caviar (500 grams of the coveted Siberian Baerii sell for $1,140).



There are dried fruits, too: peaches, pears, plums, papaya, and other varieties.



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Meggings Are Real, And You Can Buy Them Today

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Conan O'Brien in jeggings

When Business Insiderreported the existence of "meggings"—tights, worn by men, as leggings—the primary reaction was disbelief.

Meggings can't possibly be a real thing, can they?

Intensive research, which consisted primarily of a search on Google Shopping, revealed that meggings are in fact real, and you can buy them today. The primary vendor is a site called The Stylish Fox, which carries several varieties of meggings from a European brand, Adrian, which manufactures them in Poland.

The Stylish Fox reported on Twitter in September that it had very small quantities in stock but would try to expand supply.

These things are harder to get than a white iPad Mini with LTE, people.

City Men's Tights

"May look more sheer than one would expect."

Price: $11.30



Grating Argyle Men's Tights

Despite the possibly-too-accurate name, this model seems to be selling fast.

Price: $16.99



Hunter Men's Footless Tights

The definitive "meggings," with a "male front panel."

Price: $12.60



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Tracking Jay-Z And Beyoncé At Art Basel, One Instagram At A Time

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Beyonce Art Basel

Celebrities flocked to Miami Beach for this weekend's annual Art Basel contemporary art fair.

It was rumored Beyoncé and Jay-Z would be making an appearance, but it proved reality as the power couple  touched down in the sunshine state to hit a few parties and pose with some art pieces.

While Blue Ivy was clearly with a babysitter, Beyoncé instagrammed and tumbled her way through the weekend, posing with art at the convention center or showing off her killer updo.

Be sure not to miss cameos by Beyoncé's mom, Tina, and former Destiny's Child bandmate, Kelly Rowland.

Upon touchdown in Miami, Beyoncé Instagrammed this picture of herself with a wristband reading "bElieve 52." Almost 90K of her nearly 800K followers liked the photo.



Jay-Z and Beyoncé's first stop was a private dinner celebrating singer Rico Love's 30th birthday at the SLS Hotel South Beach.



Then, Beyoncé Instagrammed this photo of her sister Solange performing at a private party in Miami. It got 50K likes.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The Best Places To Ride Out The Mayan Apocalypse

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etna volcano eruption sicily end of the world

So the apocalypse is nigh, according to some.

With the end of the world approaching, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, there has been panic candle buying in Sichuan, China, reassurances issued from Sydney to Moscow, and plenty of tourist dollars made in Mayan parts of Central America as visitors gather for a front row seat of the cataclysm.

Here we round up other apocalypse-themed places and trips around the world...

Bugarach, France

Of course if you really want to scare yourself, then head to this French village in the Pyrenean foothills, which the apocalypse will somehow bypass, internet rumour-mongers would have you believe.

The problem is, it will apparently be closed on December 21, when the alleged end of the world is scheduled to occur.

The flat top mount that is supposed to be the only place left standing will be out of bounds, if the village authorities have their way...



Copan, Honduras

Those going to the nearby Copan on the Guatemala and Honduras border will realise apocalyptic endings are nothing new to Central America, at least when it comes to this beautiful expanse of abandoned temples, once the biggest city state in all of the Americas.

At its busiest and most thriving, the city is thought to have been over farmed and been hit by disease, suffering a rapid demise during the ninth century AD.



Luzon, the Philippines

Apart from its title, the film Apocalypse Now was fraught with a sense of doom.

It was shot on a Philippine island, which doubled as Vietnam.

It was hit by typhoons, and the stars did their best to create an apocalyptic atmosphere, with some of the lead actors strung out on drugs.

The stress of the shoot even led to Martin Sheen having a heart attack.

“The horror, the horror,” as Kurtz says.



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A French Chef's Guide To The Best Pâtisseries In Paris

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buche de noel golden lenotre

For fans of cakes and confectionery, Baking Mad pastry chef Eric Lanlard gives his guide to the best patisseries in Paris.

I don’t have a sweet tooth but, for me growing up, the most exciting part of the week was going to the patisserie because it was so glamorous and exciting.

Any village in France will have at least one or two patisseries and, mostly on Sundays, people will go and buy some cakes for the family or for guests.

The patisseries are like jewelery shops, with beautiful interiors, and when you go to a patisserie in France it’s almost like going to Louis Vuitton or Prada to buy an expensive handbag or jewellery.

Service is sophisticated, everyone’s smartly dressed; it feels special.

And that atmosphere is expected – people are prepared to spend a lot of money on cakes and they understand how much work is involved. It’s a highly rated profession.

In France, the people behind the patisserie counter do an apprenticeship for two years to sell cakes. They’re not students doing it part time or just doing it for pocket money – that’s their career. People sometimes call me a baker but I’m a pastry chef and they’re completely different disciplines.

There’s a rivalry between bakers and pastry chefs. Pastry chefs consider themselves alchemists and think bakers just mix flour and water. When I was an apprentice if I created a cake and it wasn’t a good job my boss would say: “That’s the work of a baker.”

In my shop, Cake Boy in London, I see British customers are more hesitant to spend that much on cakes and they’re not as open-minded as the French are. It can be tempting to just choose a cheesecake but there are lots of options out there.

Paris is a good place to discover patisseries at their best because it’s where the most innovative and glamorous brands are based. The interiors can be incredibly beautiful and the experience feels so indulgent but it’s not inaccessible.

Going to a patisserie in Paris is more relaxed than going to a restaurant and usually it’s very relaxed and friendly – it’s not like going to a restaurant or brassiere.

La Patisserie des Réves, 93 rue du Bac & 111 rue de Longchamp

La Patisserie des Réves Paris

This is the most innovative patisserie in Paris. It’s a totally different patisserie concept to what’s come before it. The cakes are beautiful and avant-garde, so even if you buy something traditional, like an éclair, the shape and topping will be different. It’s not an éclair as you know it – it’s special.

Many Parisian patisseries have huge displays of cakes but in La Patisserie des Réves there’s just one table on show, with a small selection of maybe six to eight individual cakes placed on it. They’re all stored under glass domes that are lifted by pulleys and a staff member is positioned by the table so they can tell you about the cakes you’re looking at.

If you want a closer look they can lift up the domes by using the pulleys and the effect is dramatic and extravagant and theatrical. Once you choose a cake you’re given a receipt and you go to a counter in the back of the shop.

There’s a shutter door there and your cake is delivered from the kitchen – they keep just one cake in the display area and the others are stored in a special freezer so they’re as fresh as can be. It's quite cool.

Ladurée, 75 avenue des Champs Elysées

laduree shop macarons

Ladurée has branches all over the world now but the original one is still the best one. It doesn’t matter if you open in Harrods or wherever and you try to recreate the original décor and atmosphere – you can’t beat the real one on the Champs-Élysées.

If you’re shopping in the area it’s the best place to stop to have a tea or a coffee and it’s what you expect from an old patisserie – quite dark, all wood; it looks like something which has been for 100 years, which is the case. Once inside you have to queue to choose your cakes and the staff members spend hours explaining everything to you.

Then you join another queue and have to pay to get your cakes, then you have to queue again to collect your cakes, which have been wrapped beautifully. The whole experience is time-consuming but fantastic and they’ve got a salon de thé, a modern bar and upstairs there’s a private dining room.

Despite its age and heritage the patisserie is still very innovative. It’s got an old location but with very modern cakes. It shows what a patisserie should be and it’s a good place to stop for champagne and cakes.

Patisserie Stohrer, 51 rue Montorgueil

anthares cake patisserie stohrer paris

L'Antares from Patisserie Stohrer, a cake made of pistachio macaron, pistachio mousseline cream and fresh raspberries

Patisserie Stohrer is the oldest patisserie in Paris. It’s tiny and the cakes they do there are very classic, almost to the point of being baker-style cakes. If you’re French their cakes bring back memories of childhood because they sell the kinds of cakes we used to have years ago.

Their specialty has always been the Rum Baba. There isn’t too much going on in terms of how they’re decorated and so on, but they’re very, very good. In contrast, the interior of the shop is decorated like Versailles. It’s full of paintings and it’s all gilded. The ceiling looks like a ballroom ceiling and it’s all a bit flamboyant.

Pierre Hermé, throughout Paris

box of macarons pierre herme

Foie gras macarons

Pierre Hermé revolutionised the traditional French patisserie, he was one of the first young chefs to give a breath of fresh air to the industry. The French can be a bit stuck in their ways but he challenged how things were done. He used to be the head chef of Fauchon patisserie and that’s where he built his reputation.

Now he’s famous worldwide and he’s still very edgy in what he does. He has a few shops in Paris and they’re definitely edgy too; they’re scary to visit because they’re quite sterile and clinical and the girls behind the counter are immaculate and wear four-inch stilettos.

You’d never dare to say a bad word in that patisserie because you know you’d be told off. It feels special there and people pay a premium for that – you could spend €100 on one cake there.

Fauchon, Place de la Madeline

fauchon macarons

Fauchon is a French institution – it’s the best food hall in the French capital. The patisserie department is fantastic, with very innovative cakes that come in weird shapes and flavours. It’s all about luxury and indulgence there and the service is out of this world.

I am quite happy sitting outside and watching the world pass by; the area’s quite chic and there’s plenty to see. My favourite thing to order is the chocolate éclair with an imprint of Mona Lisa’s eyes on it. Fabulous!

Lenôtre, throughout Paris

cake lenotre

The late Gaston Lenôtre was the Godfather of French patisserie and started a big cookery school. His innovative style and his desire to share his passion made him a respected chef in France and abroad and, after his death in 2009, there are still a number of his shops to be found all over Paris. If you want to buy some good-quality cakes the selection isn’t as extreme as some of the others, in terms of decoration, but the quality is excellent. He has left a wonderful legacy.

Inspired by Parisian patisseries, Eric Lanlard's I Love Paris afternoon tea is available at Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel at Cadogan Place, London until December 31. As part of his ongoing partnership with the property, Eric Lanlard will man a pop-up Cake Boy cake shop in the hotel's GILT cocktail lounge from 11am-4pm on December 14 and 15.

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10 Reasons Millennials Might Abandon Big Cities

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excite young success

The hot pursuit of young professionals has been at the core of American cities' urban revival for more than a decade. It worked. They came, they played, they stayed.

An urban renaissance unfolded as the number of people living in America's downtowns soared, construction of condos and loft apartments boomed and once-derelict neighborhoods thrived. In many of the largest cities in the most-populous metropolitan areas, downtown populations grew at double-digit rates from 2000 to 2010, according to the Census.

Now, cities face a new demographic reality:

The young and single are aging and having children. If the pattern of the past 50 years holds, they might soon set their sights on suburbia. 

The oldest of Millennials turn 30 this year and they're ready to start families

The stakes are high because the oldest of 86 million Millennials are turning 30 this year, a time when many marry and start families. This giant demographic wave is even larger than the 77 million-strong Baby Boomers that have dominated social and cultural trends for decades.

"This Millennial generation is the generation that decides where it's going to live before it decides what it's going to do," says William Fulton, president of policy and research at Smart Growth America, a non-profit national coalition against suburban sprawl. "The stakes are very high."



Young people are most likely to move at the drop of a hat

"We know young people move the most," says Richard Florida, whose book The Rise of the Creative Class published 10 years ago helped spark the wooing of young professionals to revive declining urban centers. "So capturing people early on in their lives in a metro really matters. It's important to compete with suburbs for people once they get a little older and have children."

The older they get, the less likely people are to live in cities, according to recent Census data. The peak age for urban living is 25 to 27, when 20 percent of that age group are nestled in urban centers. By the age of 41, about a quarter have moved to the suburbs.



Millennials are no longer interested in the "extended dorm life" of big city living

Cities endured decades of shrinking populations fueled by an exodus of young and old who found refuge from crime, racial tension and poverty in suburbia. When cities began to invest in their neighborhoods with new housing and rail systems and lured entrepreneurs, the turnaround happened. Cities don't want to see the pattern reverse again.

"Cities began renewal efforts by offering a young adult-focused lifestyle," says Robert Lang, urban affairs professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. "It was like an extension of dorm life after college. Cities assumed that they would get to the business of improving schools and providing more family services later. Well, now it's later."



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The Most Frequently Mislabeled Fish

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If you live in New York, and buy or eat fish, then at some point you probably received something different than what thought you were getting, The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal reports. 

A surprising number of mislabeled seafood items end up in grocery stores and restaurants, a new study by conservation group Ocenana revealed. More specifically, researchers found that 56, or 39 percent, of 142 fish samples DNA tested were were different from what they claimed to be.

Fish labeled as white tuna often turned out be escolar (a buttery fish that is known to cause gastrointestinal issues) and fish parading as red snapper could have been anything from tilapia to Atlantic Cod.  

Here's a chart from the study laying out fish that are commonly swapped for a different species:

Mislabeled Fish

SEE ALSO: We're Running Out Of Cod

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New Orleans Has By Far The Best School District In The Country

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New orleans

The Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans is the best school district in the country, according to the Brookings Institution.

Brookings released its latest Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI) today, which ranks many of the U.S.'s school districts based on thirteen categories.

"The ECCI provides a snapshot of the quality of education choice and competition within the geographical areas served by large school districts and allows for comparisons of choice and competition policies and practices across districts," the report notes.

The RSD was miles ahead of its competitors, much to the surprise of those who thought that Hurricane Katrina would hinder the local education system for decades. It was the only district to receive an A ranking, with New York City a distant second at B+.

New Orleans' education system used to be much worse. In 2003, the Lousiana Department of Education passed special legislation that formed the RSD in order to "take underperforming schools and transform them into successful places for children to learn." The process was so successful, that after Hurricane Katrina the RSD strategy was implemented in schools throughout New Orleans.

The ECCI lauded the recovery district for the "high availability of choice in the RSD, with over 80% of schools being alternatives to traditional public schools including charters, a good supply of affordable private schools and tax credits available for private school attendance." The district also boasts free transportation costs.

It even assigns students to schools based on the algorithms that were devised by 2012 Nobel Prize winners Alvin Roth and Lloyd SHapley, creating "assignments that result in the smallest possible mathematical difference between the expressed choices and assignments over the whole population of parents exercising choice."

This is a snapshot of the top 30, but check out Brookings interactive graph and map to see how your school district scored:

brookings ecci

DON'T MISS: These are the 16 countries with the smartest kids >

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Make Your Own Flavored Popcorn Like A Pro

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This is Hammacher Schlemmer's Flavored Popcorn Maker.

Why We Love It: This popcorn maker coats popcorn with liquid or dry seasonings, whether it's hot sauce, caramel, cinnamon, or grated cheese. It has a special paddle that mixes and coats the kernels, and can make up to 10 cups of popcorn in five minutes.

The popping chamber becomes a serving bowl when you're done, and the Flavored Popcorn Maker comes with a recipe booklet, too. Plus, everything from the cooking chamber to the included measuring cup are dishwater safe.

Hammacher Schlemmer Popcorn Maker

Where To Buy: Available through Hammacher Schlemmer.

Cost: $99.95.

Want to nominate a cool product for Stuff We Love? Send an email to Megan Willett at mwillett@businessinsider.com with "Stuff We Love" in the subject line.

DON'T MISS: Look Stylish And Smart With Mujjo Leather Touchscreen Gloves

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10 NYC Bars Where You Can Admire Famous Art While You Drink

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society of illustrators barThis post originally appeared at Untapped Cities.

At Untapped New York, we’re dedicated to bringing you the best of New York’s cultural life and nightlife.

Previously, we shared our picks for the best hidden bars in the City.

Now we’re bringing your our list of the Top 10 Bars where artists have left their mark, from Upper East Side institutions like Bemelmans Bar and the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis to the trendy Ace Hotel, with a collage by street artist Michael Anderson.

Though a couple of cocktails at some of these bars might be a bit of a splurge, we think it’s worth it for the chance to soak up the atmosphere in these one-of-a-kind places.

After all, you won’t find these works of art anywhere else in the world.

Bemelmans Bar

In exchange for one and a half years of room and board for himself and his family, Ludwig Bemelmans painted the walls at the Hotel Carlyle Bar in 1947.

As a result, the bar was renamed Bemelmans Bar.

The murals depict Central Park throughout the seasons with a cameo by Madeline.

Bemelmans Bar is located at 35 East 76th Street in the Hotel Carlyle.

The bar has an entertainment calendar that is worth checking out, including performances by Woody Allen & The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band (yes, that Woody Allen).

Alternatively, if you have children, or for the child in you, perhaps the bar’s Madeline’s Buffet is more appropriate.

Whether you are going to Bemelmans Bar to see jazz or to have a cocktail, you will be rewarded with Ludwig Bemelman’s only public work of art.



Murals on 54

Murals on 54 is located in the Warkwick Hotel’s former Raleigh Room, both of whose names were derived from Dean Cornwell’s works of art.

In 1937, publisher and Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst, commissioned Dean Cornwell to paint a mural for the restaurant at the Warwick Hotel, which he owned.

Cornwell painted the 1584 scene of Sir Walter Raleigh receiving his charter from Queen Elizabeth I and Raleigh landing at the lost colony of Roanoke.

Cornwell and Hearst reached a barter agreement for the murals. However, their agreement is a lesson in why one should never barter with an artist.

As a result of a dispute which arose from the agreement, Cornwell painted, what one journalist at the time described as “one of the most colorful spots in the City.”

Cornwell’s revenge art included a depiction of a man urinating on the Queen, another man urinating on Sir Walter Raleigh, and an American Indian without his pants.

Cornwell and Hearst eventually worked out their differences and Cornwell painted over one of his colorful additions. As a result of the controversy surrounding Cornwell’s creativity, the mural on the left side of the restaurant was covered for more than forty years.

The murals were recently restored and add to the ambiance of the restaurant.

Dean Cornwell was chosen by Hearst because of his reputation and his abilities. He was known as the Dean of American Illustrators.

Born in 1892, Cornwell worked his way through magazine illustrations (for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping) before becoming the President of the Society of Illustrators in 1922.

In the late 1920s, Cornwell began his career as a muralist. His commissions graced the Los Angeles Public Library,  the Detroit Athletic Club, Rockefeller Center, New York’s General Motors Building at the 1939 World’s Fair,  the Bethlehem Steel Company, the New England Telephone headquarters building in Boston, and  The 21 Club.

Cornwell died in 1960, but his work is still coveted. The Warwick Hotel was approached by The Museum of Modern Art, who wanted to purchase Cornwell’s murals for $100,000. Patrons at Murals on 54 are lucky the hotel declined the museum’s offer.



The Leopard at Des Artistes

The Leopard occupies the storied space at 1 West 67th Street, that once housed Café des Artistes in the 1917 George Mort Pollard Gothic designed Hotel des Artistes.

It was said to be the largest studio building in the world, when it was completed, and was the fifth studio building on the block.

The Café des Artistes was created to provide meals for residents of the Hotel des Artistes, many of whose apartments had no kitchens, but who would buy their own ingredients for the chefs to prepare.

In the 1920s, American illustrator, and Hotel des Artistes resident, Howard Chandler Christy, painted a series of nine murals, entitled “Fantasy Scenes with Naked Beauties,” on the walls of the restaurant.

In August 2009, Café des Artistes closed and in May 2011, The Leopard opened.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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An Investor Is Selling His Sick Park Avenue Penthouse For $35 Million

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Jerome Markowitz, who has held a number of roles at various financial services firms, and his wife Maria are selling their 885 Park Avenue penthouse for $34,995,000, the Wall Street Journal reports

The 6-bedroom, 8-bathroom duplex apartment is situated on the top two floors in "one of Park Avenue's most sought after addresses," a listing from Corcoran reads.

The couple purchased the duplex in 1998 for just over $8 million, according to the Journal. 

Some of the amenities include a wood-burning fireplace, a library and a terrace offering great views of the city.

It's definitely a dream home for New York City and now we're going to take a tour.

Corcoran's Hilary Landis has the listing.

Welcome.



Here's a shot of the formal living room.



And the formal dining room



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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One Chinese Ghost Town Has Turned Into A Skateboarder's Paradise

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The term “ghost town” has various meanings in different parts of the world. Most often, it’s a town that lived and died with a boom-and-bust cycle, or as a result of catastrophe.

In China, however, ghost towns like Ordos City were built for people who never lived there to begin with.

China’s ghost towns are known for more than their lack of people.

These huge developments were envisioned by the government as blank canvasses for architects, their visions brought to life in contoured brick, marble ledges, and wide expanses of smooth tile.

In other words, the Chinese government built the biggest, most elegant skate parks in the world.

Before you pack a board and some tight jeans and move to Ordos City, it’s good to understand what you’re getting yourself into.

“Kids are like, ‘Let’s move there. It’s a skate paradise!’” director Charles Lanceplaine says about the reaction to his newest skate film, Ordos. “But there’s nothing to do there. There are no restaurants or anything. There’s one night club. We tried to go but no one was there.”

I understand their unchecked enthusiasm. When I watched skaters popping off swooping brick sculptures surrounded by wide-open expanses of totally unpopulated concrete, I started to check airfare myself. 

SEE ALSO: A Tour Of China's Most Famous Ghost City

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Women Expect Men To Spend Half Their Weekly Income On Gifts

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When it comes to holiday gifts, is it the thought that counts? Or does the value of the gift have to do more with the price tag attached to the present?

new study published in the U.K.’s Daily Mail shows that women want their partners to spend about half a week’s salary on their holiday gifts, while men only want to receive gifts that cost roughly a third of a week’s salary.

The average salary for men in Britain is £30,852 annually–or roughly $49,415, in U.S. dollars. Looking at the weekly take-home pay for this salary, women are expecting gifts worth almost $475. (Guess they didn’t hear the news that 87% of holiday shoppers plan to spend less on gifts this year.)

What’s more, the Daily Mail reports that women have their hearts set on designer goods like Burberry coats and Louboutin heels–luxury items whose price tags run even higher than $475.

In comparison, men are expecting slightly less expensive presents in the ballpark of $250, based on the average woman’s salary in the U.K.

If these “expected” amounts work for your holiday budget–and won’t send you into debt–then fantastic! But remember: Holiday giving is no excuse for sinking into credit card debt. (Find out the nine best to worst ways to pay for holiday gifts.)

For affordable presents and under-$100 designer goods, check out LearnVest’s gift guide for everyone on your list.

WANT MORE?

20 Best and Budget-Friendly Gift Websites 

The 5 Love Languages of Gift Giving

Will a Dell XPS From LearnVest and Techlicious!

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Kate Middleton Brought An Entire Fashion Category Back From The Dead

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Kate Middleton William

Kate Middleton has single-handedly brought back panty hose.

Until recently, the flesh-toned stockings were in a fashion category that had been relegated to the same class as Christmas sweaters and fanny packs. 

When the Duchess was photographed wearing nude pantyhose, people took notice, Julia Neel at Women's Wear Daily reported.

"Given her positive image and sky-high fascination factor, it isn’t surprising that with her legwear of choice — primarily flesh-toned, especially for dress-up affairs — she is single-handedly elevating the category to fashion-worthy status," Neel writes. 

Several panty-hose retailers have reported that their sales have skyrocketed since Middleton married Prince William in 2011. 

Middleton's style is often emulated and most designs she's photographed wearing sell out immediately. Especially famous are the nude pumps she's rarely seen without. 

When she was initially photographed in pantyhose, fashion experts were quick to criticize her. But Kate kept trying, and she was eventually accepted. 

Boston Globe fashion writer Beth Tietell said that the panyhose are "quite elegant."

NOW SEE: What You Missed At The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show >

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