There’s nothing shy about Big Tex, the official greeter of the biggest family entertainment event of the year, the State Fair of Texas.
The Texas State Fair has been a major source of entertainment for millions of visitors, and has been a contributor to economic growth in north Texas for over 125 year. So, here we go again!
Gear up for giant mechanical man (Big Tex), fried food of every description, exhibits, entertainers and of course the midway rides and games. There’s something for everyone, from gardening enthusiasts to hot rod fans.
This year the State Fair runs from September 28 to October 21, 2012 and as always, it’s at Fair Park in Dallas.
Fried everything — food is a major component of the State Fair.
Every year there’s a friendly food fight like no other, between the Texas State Fair concessionaires for the coveted Big Tex Choice Awards for the Most Creative and Best Taste fried whatever. And it’s official. Organizers actually registered the claim ® that the State Fair is the FRIED FOOD CAPITAL OF TEXAS®. Who can argue? These are the creative minds that gave us fried bubble gum and fried beer!
Best Taste: Deep Fried Jambalaya
Most Creative: Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll
Don’t miss a single fried delicacy — it’s a long time until the next State Fair.
Happy 60th Birthday, Big Tex
The iconic Big Tex has been welcoming visitors to the State Fair of Texas for 60 years. Enjoy this quick time lapse of the process of lifting Big Tex into his royal position overseeing the State Fair. Let’s give a big YouTube thanks to Mr. Holga, a staff art reporter and walkabout photographer for Dallas Art News.
On a side note, it normally rains a lot during the fair. We’re hopeful this year will bring some much-needed drought relief, but not at the expense of fair goers. Enjoy! — N. Wall
Home builder confidence rises again.
For August 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders reports the monthly Housing Market Index at 37 — an increase of more than 100% from one year ago and the highest HMI value since February 2007.
The Housing Market Index is an indicator of homebuilder confidence and when it reads 50 or better, the HMI suggests favorable conditions for home builders. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable conditions for builders.
Despite the recent rise in home builder attitudes, however, the Housing Market Index remains mired below 50 where it’s been since April 2006.
For new construction home buyers in Allen , the HMI may offer insight into the market for new homes through the end of this year. This is because the NAHB Housing Market Index is a composite survey, meant to gauge builder sentiment in three specific areas — current business, future business, and buyer activity.
When all three fronts are rising, it points to an improving market for sellers (i.e. home builders). Unfortunately, though, what’s good for sellers can be damaging to buyers. Builders are less willing to make concessions on price or product when markets are getting stronger.
In August, home builders saw strength across all three categories :
- Current Single-Family Sales : 39 (+3 from July)
- Projected Single-Family Sales : 44 (+1 from July)
- Buyer Foot Traffic : 31 (+3 from July)
Especially noteworthy in the August HMI is that builders project more sales for the next six calendar months than they have projected at any time in the last 5 years. With mortgage rates at all-time lows and buyer foot traffic growing, it’s no wonder confidence is high.
When demand for homes is strong amid stagnant or falling supplies, home prices rise and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in many U.S. markets. It’s a good time to be a Texas home buyer today, but market momentum appears to be shifting.
If you’re in the market for a newly-built home, therefore, the best “deal” may be the one you get today. Next year, your costs may be higher.
Rising home prices are taking a toll on today’s home buyers.
For the first time in 4 quarters — and despite falling mortgage rates — home affordability is sinking.
Earlier this week, the National Association of Home Builders reported the Home Opportunity Index, a measure of home affordability, down to 73.8 for the second quarter of the year. This marks the metric’s first “down” quarter since the second quarter of 2011, and is its lowest reading since December 2010.
A home is considered “affordable” when its payments meet standard mortgage underwriting criteria for families earning the local median income. This definition is used for homes across all U.S. markets — including for homes in Allen.
73.8% of homes sold last quarter were affordable to households earning the national median income of $65,000. This is the 13th straight quarter dating back to 2009 that the index surpassed 70. Prior to 2009, the Home Opportunity Index had not crossed 70 even one time.
Like all real estate data, home affordability varied by locale.
In the Midwest, for example, affordability was highest. 7 of the top 10 most affordable markets nationwide were spread throughout the nation’s heartland. An Alaskan city took the top spot.
The top 5 most affordable cities for home buyers in Q2 2012 were:
- Fairbanks, AK (98.7%)
- Mansfield, OH (98.1%)
- Springfield, OH (95.9%)
- Carson City, NV (95.4%)
- Kokomo, IN (95.4%)
At #23, Ocala, Florida (91.7%) was the top-ranked South Region city last quarter.
By contrast, the Northeast Region and Southern California remained among the least affordable housing markets nationwide. Led by the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area, 9 of the 10 least affordable areas were in the Mid-Atlantic and California, and for the 17th consecutive quarter the New York metro area was ranked “Least Affordable”.
Just 29.4 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area’s median income there, down from 31.5 percent three months ago.
The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.
Should you lease a new car, or should you buy one? Like most financial questions, the answer depends on your situation. For some people, leasing a car presents distinct economic advantages. For others, buying a car is the way to go.
There’s plenty of online material to help you choose your optimal path, but this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show serves as an excellent summary. In it, you’ll learn about the basics of leasing a car, and for whom leasing can be a great fit. You’ll also hear reasons to avoid a lease completely.
The NBC interview makes all of the following points :
- Leasing allows you to drive a car that may be “too expensive” to purchase
- Leasing puts you in a new car, with the latest safety features and gadgets, every few years
- Buying a car means that you have no mileage limits, and can sell at any time
For many people, it concludes, buying a car is preferable to leasing one, with a notable exception being those people who can claim their car or truck as a tax deduction. Be sure to check with your tax advisor if you plan to take that route.
However, for another group — homeowners and active home buyers — leasing a car can invite mortgage approval trouble. This is because a car lease payment is assumed by a mortgage underwriter to be a perpetual debt; one that never reduces or gets extinguished. When a lease is complete, it must be replaced with a new lease, and so on.
Therefore, no matter how many payments remain in a lease, mortgage applicants must use the full car lease payment for purposes of a mortgage approval.
By contrast, for people whom are owners of their automobiles, car payments must only be added to debt ratios if more than 10 car payments remain until the car’s loan is paid-in-full. For homeowners and buyers in Frisco , this can improve debt-to-income ratios and support a higher purchase price on a home.
There is no firm rule for whether it better to lease a car or to own one. The arguments for both sides are compelling and reasonable. Start with the video, then do your own research.
Do you keep “past due” foods in your refrigerator? You wouldn’t be alone.
A study from the Home Food Safety website shows that more than 40 percent of people either have never cleaned their refrigerators, or can’t remember the last they did.
Past due foods can lose their taste, give off bad odors, and/or make you ill — just a few of the reasons to remain vigilant about your refrigerator’s perishable foods.
Still nursing that ketchup from last Labor Day’s grill out? Put it in the trash. Storing canned vegetables that you bought last year? Get rid of them today.
Watching that freezer burn develop on some of your cold-storage foods? Pitch them in the garbage.
There’s very little good that comes from eating food that’s been damaged, spoiled, or left to rot slowly. That’s one of the reasons why FoodSafety.gov has created its “Storage Times For Refrigerator And Freezer” chart. Listed by food category, it tells you how long a particular food type can remain “safe” in your refrigerator, and in your freezer.
A sampling of the foods, plus their recommended maximum storage times, includes :
- Deli-sliced luncheon meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
- Hamburger meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
- Leftover pizza : 4 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
In all, the list contains recommendations for nearly two dozen common foods.
In addition, the FoodSafety.gov website maintains a separate safety information section for egg and egg-based products. Egg storage safety is important because more than 400 people contract salmonella each month nationwide.
From scrambled eggs and pies, to quiches and egg-yolk substitutes, you’ll know how long to keep your food, and how long until you should throw it out.