MapSphere Online News
by haleyk, updated Jun 17 2019
Comprised of several states in the northern and middle regions of the U.S., the Midwest is well-known for its wide-open spaces, friendly and welcoming locals, large expanses of wilderness and wheat fields, and historically significant cities and towns.
Here, in the heart of the country, life is slower, there’s plenty of room to move around, traditions are important—and there are several popular home types that are unique to the Midwest. These include the Classic Farmhouse, the Modern Farmhouse, the Craftsman Home, and the Prairie-Style Home. Read on to find out more about each home type.
The Classic Farmhouse
Though the classic farmhouse style is most prevalent in the Midwest, farmhouses, in general, are popular in this region, and this includes vintage, rustic, and modern farm homes. Some trademark elements that set the classic farmhouse apart are natural wood accents—think wide-plank floors, exposed wood beams, barn board, and other wood accents. In terms of décor, typical furnishings are simple, cozy, warm, and lived-in—you probably won’t see stark modern furniture in classic farmhouses. Rather, butcher block counters, apron sinks, weathered finishes, wicker baskets and furniture, traditional fabrics (floral and paisley), and vintage touches are all trademark décor elements that you’re likely to spot in a classic farmhouse. Above all, expect a balance of old and new mixed with practical, sturdy furnishings; this is the epitome of true farmhouse style. Most interiors are painted with dark hues of grey and navy or light hues of whites, beiges, blues, and grey.
The Modern Farmhouse
Modern farmhouse style is similar to classic farmhouse style—the former simply has more modern, of-the-moment chic touches than the latter. For example, modern farmhouses tend to be characterized by sophisticated design elements like granite counter tops, modern lighting fixtures, and stainless steel appliances, in addition to a neutral color palette (usually beige, cream, or gray). Contemporary furnishings and natural, woodsy elements are also part of the modern farmhouse look.
The Craftsman-Style House
Craftsman-style homes are undeniably one of the most popular home types in the heartland. The craftsman style originated during the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 1980s—the goal was to contrast cookie-cutter homes with creatively charming architecture and handcrafted products made by artisans. Today, Craftsman homes have common identifying features like low-pitched rooflines, double hanging windows, covered front porches, pillars, exposed rafters, open floor plans, and usually, grand fireplaces. Though there are four main types of Craftsman homes—Prairie, Mission, Bungalow, and Four-Square—they all share these common features. Interior design elements typically include built-in storage, nooks, window seats, and natural materials.
The Prairie-Style House
Did you know that the Prairie house plan is one of the few architectural styles that wasn’t invented in Europe? Rather, Prairie-style architecture is synonymous with Frank Lloyd Wright; it came of age around the turn of the twentieth century in the Midwest and is characterized by wide-open floor plans, sweeping horizontal lines, a flowing interior (rather than several boxy rooms), rows of small windows, and overhanging eaves. Essentially, Prairie-style homes were designed to blend in with the flat prairies and open fields of the Midwest (these designs feature many different exteriors and shapes), and they were a direct reaction to ornate Victorian-style homes. Today, you’ll see Prairie houses scattered all over the region—they’re easy to spot, with their simple, clean lines, low-hipped roofs, and open floor plans. In terms of décor, Prairie-style homes tend to set the stage for natural materials, earth tones, and geometric forms, thanks to their minimal design; many of these homes have built-in furnishings like cabinetry, bookcases, and shelves, in addition to vintage accents like Prairie-style lighting fixtures and tile accents.
by haleyk, updated Jun 17 2019
Arizona sunshine can get mighty intense. In the summertime, triple-digit temperatures are par for the course, and blistering conditions can make it tough to be outside. And yet, despite the heat and perpetual sunlight, Arizona is a wonderful place to live.
After all, the Grand Canyon State contains some of nature’s most awe-inspiring masterpieces, along with some of the country’s coolest cities and art meccas, stellar microbreweries and craft cocktail bars, and delicious food to boot.
Here are just a few of the reasons why people live in (and love!) Arizona, despite the heat. You may even want to move to Arizona yourself.
The natural scenery is incredible
One of the most well-known facts about Arizona is that it’s naturally gorgeous—this is the home of natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Antelope Canyon, Sedona, and Saguaro National Park we’re talking about! Arizona’s nature is legendary for a reason: Where else can you hike amidst rainbow-colored desert landscapes, raft the majestic Grand Canyon, experience the pure magic of Antelope Canyon, and see towering, 60-foot-tall saguaro cacti? Nature is one of Arizona’s biggest draws, and one of the all-time best reasons to live here.
The art scene is astounding
Arizona’s art scene is world-class. Old-town Scottsdale has dozens of hip galleries brimming with diverse art from Western and Native American to contemporary. While Sedona is perhaps the state’s most well-regarded artist’s community—for decades, artists and art lovers alike have been flocking to this eclectic town, where there are over 80 galleries and constant shows and exhibits. In addition, there are several big-name museums located in both Phoenix and Tucson, including the Phoenix Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.
The cities (and towns) are super cool
Arizona’s cities and towns are just plain cool. In fact, three Arizona cities (Tempe, Mesa, and Tucson) recently made it on a national list of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live in America”, on Livability.com, with factors like local infrastructure, arts and culture, air quality, transportation, and outdoor activities playing a big role in the ranking. Whether you want to explore bustling cities, Old West towns, or peaceful artist’s enclaves, Arizona’s cities and towns have much to offer.
The food is delicious
Grub in the Grand Canyon State is known to be delicious and there are dozens of must-try foodie staples and top-notch restaurants scattered around the state. Arizona is a treasure trove of good food, from James Beard Award-winning chefs and fine dining destinations to authentic Mexican fare and other world cuisines. Plus, the drinks scene is just as exciting, with inventive craft cocktail bars like Bar Pesce in Phoenix, Citizen Public House in downtown Scottsdale, and Brix Restaurant & Bar in Flagstaff, in addition to dozens of wonderful microbreweries like Dragon Brewing (Tucson), Lumberyard Brewing (Flagstaff), and Oak Creek Brewing (Sedona).
The weather is actually beautiful
Yes, the heat can be crazy-strong, and you’ll need to be extra-careful to stay cool during the summer, but the weather in Arizona can actually be quite beautiful. After all, it’s hard to be unhappy in a state that boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year—all the better to explore the many glorious hiking trails, parks, mountains, and other outdoor fun that Arizona has to offer, right? In the wintertime, when most people in other states are shoveling snow and shivering next to the fireplace, Arizonians are lounging poolside and basking in the sun. It doesn’t get much better than that.
by haleyk, updated Jun 12 2019
When you think of Seattle, there are a few things that may come to mind—the place where the ever-popular young adult series “Twilight” was filmed, the birthplace of Starbucks, fresh coastal seafood. But for all these things Seattle might conjure up it’s also a city concerned with sustainability and extremely environmentally conscious. Part of it is a legacy of tending to the environment the city has long been a proponent of. The other is residents who are committed to keeping the city environmentally strong. From the sprawling green space throughout the numerous public parks to the city-wide recycling efforts, read on for details on just how Seattle is eco-friendly to its core.
Plenty of green space
If there’s one thing that makes cities more livable, it’s green space and a break from the concrete and hustle and bustle. Green space is representative of nature within a city and reconnecting with it. And Seattle has plenty of it. Pick from your choice of lush gardens with local vegetation, parks for playtime or arboretums. A little known fact is that Seattle ranks within the top ten of canopy covers in the world, a measurement of green spaces within a city. Plus, nonprofit organizations like Green Seattle Partnerships are doing their part to ensure the canopy cover in Seattle increases by the year 2025.
Multiple modes of transportation
Pollution from too many cars on the road is a real issue. One of those ways to combat that is to lessen carbon footprint in a number of ways, such as carpooling with neighbors and friends. But in Seattle there’s also other modes of transportation to take advantage of, like walking, riding a bike or riding the light rail Seattle Subway. Seattle is unique in that more than half of its residents don’t drive to work alone. More recently, the city has started operating two lines of streetcars.
An abundance of green homes
More and more, residents of Seattle are going green as far as their homes are concerned. The wider trend nationwide are tiny homes that by virtue are eco-friendly because it’s a smaller living space that pulls on less resources of the environment. But another way that Seattleites have been able to accomplish their green homes are by slowly tinkering with green renovations. This means going bit by bit to install solar panels, on-site rainwater cisterns, energy and water efficient toilets, non-toxic building materials and paints.
Sustainable and eco-focused businesses
Living a truly eco-friendly life often hinges on widening your awareness to incorporate more sustainable practices. This is precisely what a number of eco-friendly businesses in the greater Seattle metro area put into practice. HaloSource is a water technology company that works to create more clean water globally; Helion Energy focuses on providing clean energy and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? disposes of waste that residents otherwise wouldn’t be able to dispose of safely.
City-wide recycling efforts
There’s no need for Seattle residents to be concerned about their amount of waste at their home, apartment or condo. For all Seattle residents, recycling is included in regular garbage collection. The only requirement is separating it out into a separate bin and not leaving it mixed in with other garbage and waste. Recycling collection is however only collected every other week, although it will be the same day all other garbage is collected. The Seattle government’s website has more details on collection.
Choose to dine at restaurants that have truly sustainable food practices at their core and ethos. Some of the restaurants in Seattle that fit this bill include Plum Bistro, Juicebox Cafe and Tilth Seattle.
by haleyk, updated Dec 14 2018
Between Boston and New Hampshire lies a breathtaking stretch of coast, dotted with bits of colonial history, sun-soaked beaches, and a heavenly array of fresh seafood spots. The North Shore of Boston is the perfect location for spring breaking, summer getaways, autumn strolls along the pier, or winter wonderland adventures. Visitors and residents are never far from Boston and can take the train into town to avoid traffic, while simultaneously enjoying the natural splendor of New England's finest views. Whether you're craving a bowl of the world's best clam chowder, looking for picturesque scenes for a photo shoot, or investigating some of colonial America's oldest historical landmarks, the North Shore of Boston will not disappoint.
Sea and Shore
While much of the North Shore coastline is rocky, the are many excellent spots to stop and enjoy the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean. Those looking for a place to lay out on soft sand and splash in the waves should check out Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, or Crane Beach in Ipswitch. These popular, beautiful beaches are perfect for flying kites, building sand castles, or playing in the surf. Parking is a little tight and pricy (about $30 per day), but the cash is absolutely worth it. And, surf's up in Long Beach, where beginner and intermediate surfers can hang loose.
After a long day in the waves, what better way to warm up than with some delicious clam chowder! Fishing is huge on the North Shore, so it's no surprise that it touts some of the most mouth-watering seafood in the country. Tonno in Gloucester serves up some award-winning chowder and other delicious seafood with an Italian flair. Looking for a more old-school spot? The Three Cod Tavern in Marblehead boasts a 60-year-old secret chowder recipe that's sure to make your tastebuds sing--and it's gluten free!
Historical Hot Spots
The rich, colonial history of Massachusetts is not lost on the North Shore. The wharfs, piers, and little downtowns that speckle the coast glitter with breathtaking architecture and old-world charm. The grandeur of the old country lives here too, in the mansion of Castle Hill in Ipswitch. This National Historic Landmark has meticulously manicured gardens and impressive stonework, enough so that Hollywood has filmed several movies on the grounds. For a more working-class atmosphere, visitors should check out Saugus Iron Works. Open for business in 1647, this National Historic Site was the first integrated ironworks in North America. Visitors can visit the reconstructed facility, which is located about 10 miles from downtown Boston on a beautiful swath of property.
Perhaps the most well-known of the North Shore landmarks is the little town of Salem, home to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Visitors that delight in the spooky and the dreadful should not miss the Salem Witch Museum, or the Witch House--the only house in Salem with direct ties to the Witch Trials. A look around Burying Point Cemetery (the second oldest burial site in the United States after the arrival of European settlers) is a historical and chilling treat, as is a short drive out to the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers.
Need a beer? Never fear, the North Shore is here with plenty of award-winning brews. BareWolf Brewing in Amesbury has a chill, family vibe with plenty of boardgames. Right across the street at Silvaticus, you can find pours of German and Belgian style beers. Priding itself on its "Old World" approach, the atmosphere here can be most closely associated with the pubs of Europe. If you're feeling the old world vibe, head Mystic Brewing for a Belgian saison. So sit back, relax, and enjoy all the North Shore has to offer!
If traveling is the least of your worries and you're looking to relocate to Boston North Shore, you'll be able to soak in all of the above year-round. Toss the junk and start fresh in one of the greatest locations in Massachusetts!
by juliac, updated Dec 01 2018
Looking to enhance your car with the latest and greatest technology? With car models constantly changing and being upgraded, cars are no longer just a means for getting from point A to B. Handy gadgets can improve even the most distracted driving. Investing in a set of wheels with state-of-the-art technology is worth it to ensure maximum efficiency on the road. Here are the top gadgets that will impact your driving experience for the better.
Blind Spot Mirrors
One of the most frustrating - and dangerous - parts of driving is not being able to see if another vehicle or person is in your blind spot. This can be especially frightening when merging or changing lanes on the highway where cars are going at a fast speed. Fortunately, you can invest in blind spot sensors to avoid this problem entirely. While others might still zip around your car, you will at least be able to see them coming and better able to prepare. For larger cars, blind spot mirrors can greatly widen the angle and improve visibility.
When it comes to auto accidents, it can sometimes be tricky to prove who was at fault. With the installation of a Dashcam, however, your driving journey is documented from start to finish and the footage can be used in the case of an accident. A Dashcam can be mounted to your dashboard, and with the click of a button begins recording your drive. Many dashcams have added features to aid in your driving like GPS, night-vision settings, and varied recording options. The enhanced cameras are able to zoom in to capture license plates in front of your car, which can be extremely helpful in the case of a hit-and-run accident. Even if you witness an accident happening, your Dashcam footage could be beneficial to the victim’s court case.
The result of a Shark Tank business idea, the SMARTwheel is quickly making waves in the auto world. SMARTwheel was created to eradicate the issue of distracted driving by giving real-time feedback and alerting the driver of hazards before an accident occurs. The SMARTwheel easily hooks on to your existing steering wheel and installs within minutes. As you continue to drive, it stores memory of your driving habits. Download the affiliated app to track your driving progress and information on each trip.
Exploride Heads Up Display
The Exploride Heads Up Display is the all-in-one device for car efficiency. As the name might allude, this sleek device props up on your dashboard. Its opaque, plexiglass exterior acts as a smartphone, displaying anything from your email notifications to GPS. Save your data and phone battery by using the built-in GPS system to get you where you’re going. You can also keep track of your car’s mileage, fuel costs and driving patterns, all of which are store. Pump up your road trip by using the display to download and play all your favorite songs. The Exploride Heads Up Display will change the driving game.
Avoid costly trips to the auto shop by detecting any car troubles before they happen. The GoFar acts as a translator, syncing with your car and alerting you of any issues. The little device communicates with your vehicle and translates anything from low gas levels to engine problems. With the GoFar, you will save on gas money as well. Different colored lights indicate accurate gas levels and the device tracks your emission levels, helping you to save money by best utilizing your engine. The GoFar also monitors your brakes and acceleration, alerting you when you are abusing either and helping to make your drive a safer one. You can manage your driving habits and track your trips to get the most out of your driving experience.
While it may not directly relate to standard car features, having a hot cup of joe could be crucial to your sanity when driving. Forget the days of coffee forgotten on the kitchen counter in a rush. Skip your daily Starbucks pit-stop. The Handpresso brews your coffee straight from your car. Just plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter and let the magic begin. Keep your favorite roast flavors handy in case you need a pick-me-up.
Looking to upgrade your vehicle for the long run? Before investing in all the latest gadgets, first swap out your vehicle for a newer model that you can get excited to drive for years to come. Once you have a hot new set of wheels, you can deck it out with these exciting gadgets. Get the most for your money by monitoring your drive, saving on fuel expenses, and ultimately making your vehicle more comfortable during transport.
by pedrinchi, updated Sep 28 2018
by marekm, updated Sep 27 2018
by juliac, updated Aug 28 2018
Without a doubt, commuting adds extra time and money to your work day. Southern California is notorious for high commute times and traffic challenges; however, there are ways to make your commute more enjoyable.
Maneuvering the OC: Basic tips
If you’re new to the area, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by the all of your navigation options. Check out the public transit in your area first; Metrolink, Vanpool, and Express Bus run from Orange County to surrounding areas. A lot of employers offer public transit and carpooling benefits, as well as incentives for biking. If you intend to cycle to work, make sure your bike is in good working order, and you have all the necessary gear.
If you’re driving, invest in a dashboard phone holder so you can safely use your navigation tools. Before you get on the road, you should always investigate traffic conditions along your route. Try using Waze or Google Maps; these apps will tell you which roads take to avoid construction, congestion, and accidents. They will also to help you choose the best routes and estimate drive times, which you can also access if you have a GPS built in to your car.
A general rule, inland and longer routes are faster in Orange County. The coast is densely populated, and highways—especially I-5—become packed because they tend to be the shortest route. However, there is often less frustration in taking a longer route, especially if you are able to move continuously. If you have to take the highway, try using the 73 instead of the 5, or 405. If it’s in your budget, Orange County toll roads are similarly less congested than main routes simply because many drivers don’t want to pay the fee. Additionally, be conscious of weather. Southern California is warm and sunny, and drivers aren’t accustomed to poor weather conditions. Rain is particularly dangerous and causes numerous accidents, because drivers tend to speed and aren’t used to wet roads.
Choose Your Transportation Wisely
Getting around Orange County takes a bit of planning. Getting from here to there will vary based on your location. The OC roads are usually packed with environmentally friendly cars, bicyclists, and eccentric skaters. If you’re from out west, you already know how environmentally conscious Californians are, especially the folks down in the OC. So when choosing your means of transportation, make sure you think like a local and Uber, drive electric, or maybe invest in some sweet rollerblades.
Avoid the Chaos
Orange County and the Los Angeles area can turn into real tourist traps, particularly during school breaks. Disneyland is right off the 5 in Anaheim, so you’ll want to avoid that area during spring, summer, and winter break times. If you must drive during the tourist season, try to leave early in the morning or later in the evening, and plan for extra drive time.
Like most urban areas, the busiest times to be on the road are between 7:30-9am and 3-6pm. Rush hour is worst on freeways, especially in the 30 miles surrounding Los Angeles. Whenever possible, don’t plan to drive into or out of LA on a Friday afternoon. Everyone is either fleeing the city or coming in for the weekend, and it is usually a traffic nightmare. Sunday afternoon is similar, as people are going leaving to be at work on Monday. This is a good argument for living as close to the city as possible if you’re planning on commuting from Orange County to LA.
Making Your Commute Worth It
Whether you’re driving or taking public transit, there are plenty of options to keep you occupied. Audiobooks, podcasts, and language learning apps are an educational alternative to the radio. If you’re ready to jam, create drive-time playlists to get you going in the morning or wind you down at the end of the day. If you don’t have time to catch up with friends and family, long commutes are excellent times to make some calls (hands free, of course). And, you can always go for silent reflection. Whatever you choose, make your commute worth the extra time.
by Deleted, updated May 25 2018
by juliac, updated May 03 2018
Traveling cross country has been a major part of American history. Beginning with the idea of Manifest Destiny in the early days of expansion into the western US and continuing today with cross country road trips, getting out and experiencing the many different parts of the United States is almost a part of the American identity.
Though nearly any mode of transportation offered today is a much better choice than the covered wagons of the 1800s, some cars are more cut out for the trip than others. Here are some of the five best cars for road trips.
A well known American classic, the Jeep Wrangler has been a top choice for road trips for generations. Designed with adventure in mind, the Wrangler has lots of features that can help with an extended road trip. The Wrangler is built on an incredibly capable 4 wheel drive platform, allowing it to access more places than most other vehicles. In addition to its off road capabilities, the Wrangler can handle pavement like a champ. Rated at 23 miles per gallon highway, the Wrangler can take you further than before.
The 2018 Wrangler is also safer than ever, featuring advanced front and side airbags, blind spot monitors and rear cross detection sensors, which help to alert drivers of nearby vehicles that can be hard to spot otherwise.
As one of the top selling crossover SUVs in the nation, the Mazda CX-5 makes for a great family car or ultimate road trip machine. The CX-5 was designed “for driving enjoyment and rejuvenation” and has plenty of features to help maximize comfort for both the driver and passengers.
The CX-5 uses Mazda’s i-Active All Wheel Drive system, which can adapt to changing road conditions, helping keep it safe in weather of all types. At 31 miles per gallon, fill ups are few and far between.
With seating for 5 adults, a power liftgate, premium sound and bluetooth connectivity, the CX-5 is built to keep you comfortable for the long haul.
A staple of the SUV market for a number of years, the Ford Explorer is one of the top vehicles for a road trip. The largest vehicle included on this list, the Explorer has seating for seven, meaning no friend or family member is ever left behind. Powered by Ford’s proven Ecoboost V6 engine, the Explorer has plenty of get up and go for the mountain passes of the west, while still making an estimated 24 miles per gallon on the highway.
Ford designed the Explorer with performance in mind and did not stop with the engine. The interior of the vehicle features up to four USB charging ports as well as premium audio options.
Safety-wise the Explorer is offered with Ford’s Safe and Smart package, which includes rain sensing wipers, auto high beam lights, and other features to keep you safe and sound mile after mile.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Looking to road trip in style? Look no further than the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Another American classic, the Corvette first debuted in 1953 and has been a favorite of car enthusiasts ever since. What the Corvette lacks in space, it makes up for in style and performance.
However, the Corvette is not for the faint of heart. With 650 horsepower and an estimated top speed of over 200 miles per hour, the Corvette is by far the sportiest car included on this list.
A top choice of adventurers everywhere, the Subaru Outback is a great road trip car. The Outback comes with integrated roof crossbars, which can be used to haul things like bikes, kayaks, or cargo. Subaru’s proven all wheel drive system offers drivers a safe and capable vehicle that excels both on and off the road.
The Outback is also available with Eyesight technology, which helps spot upcoming road hazards and keep you from drifting out of your lane.
For the extra adventurous, fold the seats down, set up a sleeping bag, and spend the night sleeping in the back!