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The latest news from Life

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Luggage Scale

    • International overweight bag fees range from $50 to $200 depending on airline carriers and how much your bag is over the predetermined limit.
    • This $9 digital luggage scale can save you hours of frustration and hundreds of dollars even if you don't consider yourself an overpacker.
    • It can weigh bags and suitcases up to 100 pounds. It also weighs less than five ounces itself, so it won't add much to your overall bag weight.

    There's no bigger rush than finding an international flight deal. There's also no bigger buzzkill than finding out that there are unreasonably low bag weights.

    So, before I went on a two-week, three-city vacation to Australia, I bought this $9 digital luggage scale from Etekcity. It saved me from having to pay $80 in overweight baggage fees on that trip alone.

    After booking my tickets to Australia, when I read that passengers could only bring one carry-on and one personal item that totaled to 15 pounds and check-in bags couldn't be more than 40 pounds, I knew I was going to have a hard time packing. Even though I was traveling for two weeks, you can bet that I was packing three weeks' worth of clothes, accessories, shoes, and makeup. Not to mention I had to save space for all the souvenirs I'd bring home.

    The digital scale proved to be a lifesaver. I was able to weigh my bags throughout my packing process so I packed more thoughtfully (I guess I didn't need five pairs of jeans after all) and avoided paying overweight baggage fees on all the legs of my trip.

    Etekcity Luggage Scale

    The scale is super small and weighs under five ounces so it'll barely register in your suitcase, and using it is fool-proof.

    Once you've packed your bag or suitcase, loop the scale around any handle. Then lift the scale up for a few seconds, and the digital display will show how much your bag weighs. From there, you can repack as needed in the comfort of your own home — not at the airport in front of 12 annoyed passengers and future seatmates. Even if you aren't an overpacker like me, you'll have total peace of mind just in case check-in agents try to scam you and say your bag is over the weight limit.

    Since I bought this scale, I've used it on trips to Iceland, Hong Kong, Turks and Caicos, Greece, and more, and have never had an issue with overweight baggage. In fact, it's helped me discover that I had more room in my suitcase for shoes.

    Buy the Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale from Amazon for $9

    SEE ALSO: 26 packing essentials we never travel without — from a $150 mobile WiFi hotspot to a $6 pack of face wipes

    DON'T MISS: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.

    TPG Awards

    • Travel and rewards website The Points Guy held its inaugural awards gala, awarding the best airline, hotel, rewards, and credit card products of 2018.
    • The credit card winners were all nominated and chosen by TPG readers.
    • Here are the credit card winners — these are some of the best credit cards you can get as 2018 draws to a close.

    Last night, travel and points/miles/credit card website The Points Guy (an Insider Picks e-commerce partner) held its first annual TPG Awards at the USS Intrepid museum in New York.

    The awards show featured a number of presentations and honors — including an award to "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III.

    Award categories featured credit cards, loyalty programs, hotels, and airlines, and — except for a few awards for the best airline cabins — all the nominees and winners were chosen by TPG readers. 

    The winners for the various credit card categories were mostly unsurprising, as TPG readers are a savvy bunch who know how to find great value, but there were a few categories in which the winner was likely a tough choice.

    Read on to see the best credit cards of 2018, in a few different categories, as picked by The Points Guy's readers.

    You can read more about the airline winners here.

    Premium Card of the Year: Chase Sapphire Reserve

    Insider Picks' take: The Sapphire Reserve is one of our all-around favorites, and our pick for best overall credit card. TPG readers were — unsurprisingly — on the ball with this one.

    Mid-Tier Card of the Year: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

    Insider Picks' take: The Sapphire Preferred is definitely worthy of best mid-tier card, with rewards and benefits that easily outweigh the card's $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year). However, another nominee on the list — the recently refreshedAmerican Express® Gold Card— is also worthy of a nod.

    No-Fee Card of the Year: Chase Freedom Unlimited

    Insider Picks' take: Capping off Chase's sweep of the personal cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is another favorite. It offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but that cash technically comes in the form of points (meaning 1.5 points earned per dollar spent). If you have a card like the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can pool your points and potentially get a better redemption value for them.

    Best Credit Card Perk of the Year: Sapphire Reserve's $300 travel benefit

    Insider Picks' take: The annual, no-hassle $300 travel credit is fantastic. It automatically applies to the first $300 of travel purchases you make each card membership year, and "travel" is defined broadly to include things like taxis, parking, and subway tickets, as well as airfare and hotels. The perk brings the card's effective annual fee down from $450 to $150.

    However, another nominated perk — Centurion Lounge access with the Platinum Card® from American Express— shouldn't be overlooked, especially with several new locations opening next year. In fact, the Platinum Card's overall lounge access shines above the Sapphire Reserve, so if that's important to you, you might be better off with the AmEx card.

    Best New/Refreshed Card of the Year: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

    Insider Picks' take: We feel this is the all-around best hotel card you can get right now, and several members of our team carry it. The card offers airline fee credits, resort credits, free nights, automatic top-tier elite status, and more.

    The award category was open to cards that launched in the 12-month period ending September 14. Had it extended through October, we suspect that the American Express Gold Card would have taken home this prize, since it offers 4x points at US restaurants and supermarkets (for the latter, that's on up to $25,000 per year — you get 1x point per dollar after that).

    Best Business Card of the Year: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

    Insider Picks' take: For a while, this has been among the best business cards around, offering some incredible perks to outweigh it's $450 annual fee.

    The day before the TPG Awards, AmEx Business announced a few changes to the Business Platinum Card — including a few new perks but an increased annual fee of $595 — that make the card potentially less useful for sole proprieters and very small businesses, but better for bigger small and mid-size businesses.

    Had these changes been announced earlier, when the TPG Awards voting was open, we wonder if the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase might have won instead.

    Best Airline Cobranded Card of the Year: Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

    Insider Picks' take: This has been a good year for cobranded airline cards, as positive changes have come to both the American and United Airlines mid-tier cards. However, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card is a favorite thanks to its annual companion certificate, which can be an incredibly lucrative benefit.

    Best Hotel Cobranded Card of the Year: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

    Insider Picks' take: There's no question here, as the Aspire Card offers such an absurdly high value proposition that there's little reason not to get it — even with its high annual fee, you'll get way more value back over the course of each year.

    SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks in 2018

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Donald Trump christmas norad

    • Children who called the US military's North American Aerospace Defense Command to get updates on Santa Claus' progress on Christmas Eve were greeted by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Monday night.
    • Together, the Trumps answered some of the phone calls in what has become an annual tradition for the first couple.

    Children who called the US military's North American Aerospace Defense Command to track Santa Claus' annual trip around the world were greeted by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Christmas Eve Monday.

    Together, the Trumps answered some of the phone calls in what has become an annual tradition for the first couple.

    "Are you still a believer in Santa Claus," Trump asked a 7-year-old on the phone in the State Dining Room of the White House. "[Because] at seven, it's marginal, right?"

    "What's Santa going to get you for Christmas," Trump asked another child. "Have a great Christmas, and I'll talk to you again, OK?"

    "Are you tracking Santa," Mrs. Trump to her caller. "I want to wish you a Merry Christmas."

    "Do you know where [Santa] is?" Mrs. Trump asked another child. "I hope your dreams come true."

    NORAD's 63-year tradition of tracking Santa started after a newspaper ad in Colorado encouraged kids to dial an fictitious number to the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor: "Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number," the advertisement said.

    More kids began calling in to CONAD, and instead of hanging up, operators began giving out Santa's location.

    Today, around 1,500 volunteers are taking phone calls and replying to emails from people around the globe. Over 140,000 phone calls are made to NORAD's Santa hotline and the website receives about 9 million unique visitors each year, according to NORAD.

    You can track Santa's movements here »

    SEE ALSO: 'That's the way they want it': Trump claims dead US troops would have agreed with him to pull out of Syria

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    • Monopoly isn't a fun game.
    • It was originally created to be an insight into the trials and tribulations of money.
    • That's why it ends in flipped boards and family fallouts every Christmas. 

    For most people, Monopoly is not an enjoyable board game in any sense of the word. Almost every family breaks out the box at Christmas, but it inevitably always ends in fall-outs, arguments, and hours of not talking to each other afterwards.

    On the internet there are also tails of flipped tables, break-ups, and even stabbings after someone doesn't follow the rules or steals money from the bank.

    The problem is, we all seem to have an obsession with a game that makes us miserable. For one player, their good fortune will make them feel like a king for a few hours, while everyone else will steadily abandon the game. Ultimately, all it comes down to is luck.

    It was originally called 'The Landlord's Game'

    Monopoly is derived from an original board game called "The Landlord's Game," and rather than being good family fun, it was actually created to be an insight into the trials and tribulations of money, and the negative implications of capital accumulation.

    It was made up by a woman called Elizabeth Magie in 1903, who wanted it to reflect her political views. She was a georgist, which meant she believed people should own the value they produce themselves, but that anything earned from the land, such as natural resources, should belong to everyone in the community.

    The Landlord's Game was supposed to show the dangers of land monopoly specifically, which is what happens when land is treated as private property.

    "It is a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences," Magie wrote in a political magazine, according to The Guardian. "It might well have been called the 'Game of Life,' as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world, and the object is the same as the human race in general seem[s] to have, ie, the accumulation of wealth."

    In the Landlord's Game, and in Monopoly, one person succeeds over all the others. There is no skill involved, as it all comes down to the numbers you roll, and thus what squares you land on. The winning player feels skilled, and has the illusion of making good choices, when really it's all down to the whim of the dice.

    So actually, Monopoly was never created to be fun. When all the property is bought, and players have gone around the board a few times, the remainder of the game play is a simple rate of return calculation. In other words, the ultimate winner is already decided, it's just a matter of when they will obliterate the competition. Players can hang on until their very last pound is gone, and everything is mortgaged, but really nothing can bring you back from the inevitable loss.

    Over the years, families have created their own "in-house rules," such as collecting all the tax money if you land on free parking, or earning £400 for landing on "Go." Also, seemingly few people play the auction rule.

    However, all these extra complications seem to do is prolong the inevitable, so really you're better off sticking to the original rules — meaning you might want to give them another read through. Alternatively, you could just put the box away and play something else. That way you might still be on talking terms with your family afterwards.

    SEE ALSO: All the Monopoly rules you've probably been playing wrong your whole life

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Barbara Corcoran on Donald Trump: 'He is the best salesman I've ever met in my life'

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    grey goose summer martini

    • There's a right way to make a vodka Martini — and it's not the way James Bond told you.
    • Business Insider spoke to Francois Thibault, cellar master at Grey Goose vodka who taught us how to do it properly.
    • Thilbault told us that you should always have your Martini stirred, not shaken because it dilutes the mixture too much.
    • He also said that you shouldn't store your vodka in the freezer, unless it's not very good.
    • You can see his recipe in full below.

    Francois Thibault is a man who knows a lot about the spirits industry.

    Born into a wine-growing family in France's Cognac region, it seemed only natural that he would train as a cellar master and go into the brandy business that the area is so famous for.

    What wasn't so expected, however, was that Thibault would eventually help develop one of the world's most popular vodkas — Grey Goose.

    The Frenchman was approached by American billionaire Sidney Frank (the man behind Jägermaster) in 1997, who asked him to plug the gap in high-end vodka — and he has remained the cellar master ever since.

    Thibault doesn't think the transition is that strange, though.

    "I believe that I haven't changed my job, coming from a Cognac house to develop vodka," Thibault told Business Insider.

    "I've simply adapted myself to a different type of ingredient but still applied the same rules.

    "I've swapped the grapes for the grain of wheat."

    Francois Thibault Grey Goose cellar master

    Business Insider asked Thibault about his favourite cocktail, the martini, which he described as "the perfect cocktail to compare different vodkas."

    He told us how best to prepare and serve the perfect vodka martini — and it seems James Bond's old adage of "shaken not stirred" may not have been so wise after all.

    Thibault says you should always have your martini stirred, not shaken.

    This is because when you shake your martini you also break up the ice in the mixer, which thereby dilutes the mixture much more than stirring.

    "On the palate, we feel this dilution remarkably. There's also a lot of oxygen that enters the spirit while shaken," Thibault says.

    "You want your martini to stay as fluid and silky as possible without too much dilution and too much contact with oxygen."

    Thibaut recommends 20 seconds of stirring — no more.

    Finish with a twist of lemon zest — just make sure you remove the white pith, which tastes very bitter.

    You can see Thibault's recipe in full below.


    • 50ml Grey Goose vodka
    • 10ml Chilled Noilly Prat dry vermouth
    • Dash of orange bitters
    • Lemon zest to garnish


    1. Add Grey Goose and vermouth to a mixing glass filled with ice.
    2. Stir deliberately and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best bars in the world in 2018

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 4 tricks that will make hosting Thanksgiving dinner much easier this year

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    Winery Image_33

    • Maximilian Riedel, CEO of glassware company Riedel, believes every wine should be decanted — even Champagne.
    • For old wines, this is because sediment settles at the bottom of the bottle.
    • For new wines, decanting helps to naturally age the wine.
    • It doesn't need to be done hours before — decanting your wine right before you drink it can still make a difference.

    When it comes to wine, what you drink it from can be just as important as what you're drinking.

    From swapping a narrow Champagne flute for a tulip-shaped one to picking the right glass for your Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and pinot noir, there's plenty to learn about the world of glassware.

    But one thing many people don't realise is that what you do before you drink it is also key to getting the most from your wine.

    Maximilian Riedel, CEO of glassware company Riedel, told Business Insider that he believes every wine should be decanted before you drink it — even Champagne.

    "I am a firm believer that every wine must be decanted," he said. "When I say every wine, I truly mean sparkling and still."

    A family run Austrian company that was established in 1756, Riedel is one of the world's most well-known producers of wine glasses — so Riedel himself knows a thing or two about what's best for your bottle.

    Decanting started with Champagne

    wealthy couple drink champagne

    He explained that the concept of decanting actually started with Champagne.

    "Champagne is, thanks to the second fermentation through the yeast in the bottle, the ageing process, one of those wines that in the old times had to be decanted to split the wine from the yeast," he said. With modern Champagne, however, it's done with a machine.

    "The yeast over time moves into the neck of the bottle. There it gets, nowadays, frozen, and you remove it, then you refill it with a special liqueur. Every Champagne house does this, but this is a very modern technique to remove the yeast.

    "In the old days, you bought the Champagne, took it home, then you had to gently decant it to keep the yeast in the base of the bottle."

    max riedel

    He said that despite the fact Champagne is "the most ancient thing to do," for most people it seems like something new.

    "Everyone is afraid that if you decant Champagne that you lose the bubbles, but the difference between Prosecco and Champagne, in Champagne the bubble are binded, it's not artificial. The bubbles grew up, they were bred in the bottle of Champagne, through the fermentation. With Prosecco you're just adding CO2."

    Old wines need to be decanted to get rid of sediment...

    It's well understood that wine tastes better as it ages. However, Riedel explained that with old wines, over time, sediment settles in the bottom of the bottle, so they need to be decanted.

    "People don't like the feel or taste of sediment," he said.

    Decanter_2007 01_Sommeliers_Black_Tie_4100 00

    ...But young wines need to be aged

    However, he said that nowadays "nobody can afford to drink these old wines, [so] at most restaurants the wines on average are very young.

    "Storing wine for time [also] needs space, and space has become very expensive, especially in the big cities."

    That means people are drinking young wine — and it also needs to be decanted, but for different reasons.

    "Young wine must be decanted because young wine is like a young person — they have yet to settle, they're all over the place. The only way to mature them is through time, the ageing process."

    You should even decant rosé

    rose wine

    "I am the guy who decants Champagne, white wine, red wine, and rosé wine," he said. "When I posted once on social media me decanting rose, I had a lot of questions, a lot of doubters. But people who love rose like I do know that sometimes you still have a lot of the gas that they use to kill germs etc. in wine, that sometimes the sulfate is still notable on the nose, and the only way to really get rid of it and enjoy wine that young is by decanting it."

    It doesn't need to take hours

    While he's obviously a proponent of decanting, Riedel added that you don't need to use a decanter if you have time to open a bottle of wine five to eight hours before drinking it.

    "Then you would not need a decanter because there's enough oxygen exchange with the bottle," he said.

    However, if you don't have the time to plan out your day, decanting right before you drink it will still make a difference.

    "If I now open a fresh bottle of wine and pour it into a glass, and the other one I pour into the decanter then into the glass, you, and everybody else, would notice a difference, in smell and in taste," he said. "After five hours open in the bottle, in the glass, and in the decanter, it tastes the same."

    In busy restaurants, Riedel added that the most simple way to decant is from one bottle to another. "It's very similar," he said.

    You need to pick the right one

    1950_09 Eve Decanters come in all different shapes and sizes.

    "For me when it stands on its own it's like a piece of art," Riedeil said. "There are very few art pieces you can actually use on a daily basis."

    He said that a small decanter is good for white wines, because it can fit into an ice bucket to keep the temperature.

    Meanwhile, a big decanter like his "Eve" design exists to stretch a young wine.

    "In particular wines that have power in the fruit, high in alcohol, the decanter stretches the wine and naturally matures it," he said. He explained that as the wine flows through the decanter, it "naturally ages, gets rounded, softer, brings forward the primary aroma in the wine."

    He said the more you rotate the wine through the decanter, the more oxygen you're pumping into it — which means you're naturally ageing it.

    Meanwhile, he said a decanter like this might "rip apart" an old wine.

    If you're not sure where to start, Riedel says you can even try a flower vase that has the shape of a decanter "just to try it."

    "If you really fall in love with the concept and believe it makes a different, then you can start investing money," he said. "You can go for affordable to very expensive."

    The lowest-end decanter from Riedel — its machine-made single bottle size — costs £40, while the Eve design will set you back a whopping £495.

    They're not that hard to wash

    Riedel — who is a proponent of putting wine glasses in the dishwasher — said there's nothing wrong with your decanter looking used.

    In order to wash it, however, he recommends filling the inside two to three times with warm water, then leaving it overnight to absorb the colour pixels.

    "If you want to try to avoid water stains, use a hairdryer," he added. "It sucks out the humidity."

    SEE ALSO: A wine expert says you shouldn't drink Champagne from a traditional flute — here's the glass you should use instead

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Tim Cook's estimated net worth is $625 million — here's how he makes and spends his money

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    Aspen Colorado home

    • Real estate consultancy Knight Frank's report on global ultra-prime destinations includes four ski destinations.
    • Three of those are in the Alps, including St. Moritz, the hidden gem beloved by the 1%.
    • Aspen is the only American market represented in the list of ultra-prime real estate markets.

    The world's wealthiest people are buying homes in four main ski destinations globally, and they're focused mostly in the Alps. The only exception to the European dominance in this field — and it comes as no major surprise, given its reputation and prices — can be found in Aspen, Colorado.

    That's according to a recent Knight Frank report on the global ultra-prime market, which looks at destinations that have seen at least three home sales over $25 million every year for the past three years running.

    Those four ski destinations fit into a larger scheme of 17 total ultra-prime destinations, including cities like London, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

    While the town is home to a year-round population of only about 7,400, Aspen has for years been recognized as a hot spot for the rich and famous, attracting the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson.

    Media mogul Lachlan Murdoch numbers amongst the high net-worth individuals who have contributed to Aspen's ultra-prime standing; in 2017, he bought a $29 million mansion that includes a horse stable and a 300-bottle wine cellar.

    Read more: 50 of the best ski resorts to visit this winter in the US and Canada, ranked from most expensive to least

    The three European ski destinations can be found in St. Moritz, Courchevel, and Gstaad. The first two, in particular, are familiar names amongst celebrities and business moguls looking to kick back in style on and off the slopes, and both are host to resorts that have historically been listed amongst the most expensive in the world.

    St. Moritz is, as Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower previously reported, a Swiss resort "... with world-class skiing, the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, twice a home to the Winter Olympics, and a hidden gem for the one percent."

    Gstaad, meanwhile, also in Switzerland, is home to the winter campus of the world's most expensive school, Switzerland's Institut Le Rosey.

    SEE ALSO: A new report reveals the 17 most popular housing markets for the world's richest people, and a notoriously expensive city is missing from the list

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: History of the Christmas tree: Evergreens were sacred to ancient Egyptians. Then people started decorating them.

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    airport lounges thumb

    • Airport lounges are advertised as super-exclusive and luxurious oases that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of a crowded airport.
    • But they're not always as grand as they might seem.
    • Many of these lounges are actually often overcrowded and place limits on free drinks.


    Exclusive airport lounges, usually open only to first-class fliers or members of a credit card rewards program, are meant to serve as relaxing refuges from loud, crowded airports.

    But that's not always the case.

    Many airport lounges tend to be overcrowded and difficult to get into, and once you do get in, you'll find that once-gourmet dining options have been replaced with mediocre buffets or finger foods. And limitless alcoholic beverages are no longer a guarantee.

    Here's what some airport lounges look like today. 

    SEE ALSO: Outrageous photos show what flying on private jets is really like, from private bedrooms with plush bedding to exquisitely crafted meals served with Champagne

    DON'T MISS: The top 14 boutique hotels in the world, from a romantic retreat in South Africa to a private villa in Thailand

    You might think of airport lounges as relaxing retreats from the hectic hustle and bustle of a typical airport.

    These exclusive areas are usually only open to first-class fliers or members of a credit card rewards program.

    Instagram Embed:
    Width: 540px


    Airlines tout them as a refuge where you can wait for your flight in peaceful solitude.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iphone xr blue

    • You may have received a new iPhone this holiday season.
    • Here are 33 great apps to download for it. 

    Deciding which apps to download from Apple's App Store can be daunting, especially when you have a new phone. After all, there are millions of apps choose from.

    We've rounded up 33 of the best apps you should download first on your iPhone. There are some obvious choices on this list, but we've also chosen a few hidden gems that the Tech Insider staff uses and loves.

    Let's check them out:

    Citizen lets you see if there are emergencies or crimes nearby.

    Citizen is a free app.

    Moment helps you track screen time. Apple has built-in tools, but a lot of people in the tech world use this app.

    Moment is a free app with in-app purchases.

    Mindbody lets you book and search workout classes on the go.

    Mindbody is a free app. The classes cost money.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Gratitude must ultimately come from within, but with good modeling, open dialogue, and by creating opportunities for kids to feel thankful, parents can help children teach children to be grateful.
    • Gratitude does not come naturally to children; it's important to remember that being grateful is a complex concept younger children might be unable to grasp.
    • Here are the ways we are trying to instill a sense of gratitude in our children so they will better appreciate all the good in their lives, including by encouraging them to donate their toys.


    Gratitude does not come naturally to most people.

    In fact, according to a 2014 study conducted by Harvard's Graduate School of Education, approximately four out of five children value personal achievement and success more than caring for others. The study's authors concluded that "the root of this problem may be a rhetoric/reality gap, a gap between what parents and other adults say are their top priorities and the real messages they convey in their behavior day to day."

    In other words, raising caring kids who are grateful for the good things in life comes down to the Golden Rule: do to others as you would do to yourself.

    My wife and I strive to consistently model the type of behavior we want our kids to display themselves in the hopes that our outward actions will reflect the emotions within.

    We say please and thank you when simply handing each other objects in the kitchen, we ask each other questions, and we see how the other is feeling when in earshot of the kids even when we're well caught up on each other's day. Crucially, we also involve our kids in as many conversations and activities that provide opportunities for gratitude as possible.

    Learning to be grateful

    Our son is five, and our daughter is not yet one, so I don't expect much in the way of gratitude from her. The key here is to not expect much from him yet, either.

    As Washington Post contributor Meghan Leahy wrote in article from August 2017: "True gratitude can take years to develop. It requires deep empathy and an appreciation of others’ feelings." And empathy is a highly evolved emotion that a child's brain can't fully grasp, both because of the lack of life experience and simply because of its level of development.

    As gratitude is not innate in most children, it must be learned. Therefore, it must be taught. And a child is never too young to start learning to be grateful, so long as the caregivers use a light touch.

    The first tangible way my wife and I are teaching the kids gratitude is by doing what we call our Thankfuls at dinner. Each night, we go around the dinner table with each family member who can talk sharing one thing for which they were thankful from that day. It's a secular take on a prayer, and already we can tell it's working: for the first week or so of our Thankfuls, it was always a parent who remembered to initiate the sharing session. Now our son is without fail the person who says: "Should we do our Thankfuls?"

    And even if he is thankful for beating a level in Super Mario Bros or for it being a sweet desert night instead of expressing appreciation for a warm, safe home, at least he's expressing gratitude in some form every day.

    Teaching gratitude for the holidays

    The holiday season has presented several unique opportunities for my son to learn about gratitude.

    I decided to get one of my wife's gifts from the nonprofit World Vision, a charity that works to "empower people out of poverty." A majority of the purchase price of the handmade silver cuff I chose for her will go to World Vision's Where Most Needed Fund, helping provide people in need with clean water, warm clothing, health care support, and other essentials.

    I involved my son in the process of shopping from World Vision, explaining how the money we spent would help other people and that by buying from this type of organization instead of from a regular store, our money would do some small part to improve other people's lives. Sure, I could have simply said: "Not everyone has safe water, a warm home, and toys to play with, so you should appreciate those things." But by doing something concrete instead of simply talking about it, I'm confident he better understood the message. (We'll deal with the fallacy of relative privation when he's older.)

    As Christmas approached, my wife and I asked our son if there were any toys he would like to donate so that other kids could enjoy them. We weren't going to force him to give away a single marble if he didn't want to, of course, but we explained that he had more than enough toys himself, while other children went largely without.

    Read more:Why our kids are going to play outside this winter, and yours should too, according to science

    Then, with a light touch, we suggested a few toys that he had outgrown or simply never liked that much. He jumped on the opportunity to give several away, and we thanked him for his generosity. Was it a huge sacrifice on his part? No, but the spirit was there. And after boxing up the chosen giveaways, we talked about how fortunate our family was to have enough things that we could give others away.

    A few days later, our son's daily Advent calendar gift was a packet of colored glue sticks for his glue gun (don't worry, it's a low temperature "cold" glue gun). He unwrapped them, realized what they were, and then hugged us both and thanked us as if we had given him a bar of gold. It was just a little gift, but he was genuinely grateful.

    So maybe it's working.

    SEE ALSO: I asked my 5-year-old what it means to be happy, and his answer was surprisingly profound

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    nike gift card

    Gift cards are an ideal gift in a lot of ways. For instance, you get to give them exactly what they want — in the color, style, and exact model that they want it — without polling their closest friends, family, and private online wish lists. They also typically don't expire.

    Below, you'll find 40 of the best ones to give. If you want more options, there are also lots of restaurant gift cards on Amazon and plenty of other brands here. Otherwise, you might opt for stores like Best Buy with free in-store pickup

    Below, you'll find 40 of the best gift cards to give this year:

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.


    Buy a Brooklinen gift card

    Brooklinen makes the best high-end sheets at the best price on the internet. Have a gift card delivered digitally, or in a gift card box. You can find a full review of Brooklinen's sheets here.


    Buy an Amazon gift card

    An Amazon gift card is a more polite version of giving them cash — with it, they can buy pretty much anything they've had on their wish list — whether it's new and exciting tech or completely utilitarian home basics. You can also buy it in a gift card box.


    Buy a Spotify gift card on Amazon or Best Buy

    They probably already have a Spotify account, but that doesn't mean they won't appreciate not having to pay for it for a while. A Spotify gift card lets you fund the next few months of something they love and use multiple times per day. 

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    amex rose gold new york 12

    • The new American Express® Gold Card features a new metallic design, in addition to competitive rewards on restaurants and supermarkets in the US, airfare, and more. 
    • AmEx also introduced a special rose gold version — it's been a runaway success, with over 60% of new card applicants requesting that version.
    • You can request a rose gold card, but only until January 9, 2019. 
    • New cardholders can also get a unique, limited-time welcome bonus if they apply before the same date.
    • Here's what you need to know about the AmEx Gold Card.

    When looking for a new credit card or charge card, aesthetics should not be your biggest concern. Your focus — assuming you pay your bills in time and don't carry credit card debt — should be on things like rewards.

    That said, it's nice when you're able to enjoy both.

    When American Express reintroduced its Gold Card this fall, the card got a fantastic set of improvements to its rewards earning scheme and suite of benefits.

    As part of the overhaul, AmEx unveiled a new chic, gold-colored metal version of the card, similar to the Platinum Card's design. AmEx also introduced a limited-edition rose gold variation of the card — it was so popular that AmEx encountered shipping delays. According to AmEx, over 60% of new card applicants requested the rose gold version of the card, although information on how many existing cardholders requested one was not immediately available. 

    Current and new users are able request either the regular or the rose gold card. However, the latter option goes away on January 9.

    That means that this is the last chance to get the rose gold version of the card.

    Also going away January 9: a unique limited-time bonus for new members. If you don't have the Gold Card and open one by then, AmEx will "pick up the tip" when you dine out. During the first three months, new card members will get 20% back on restaurant charges — in the form of a statement credit — up to $100 total.

    Learn more:Amex is issuing a limited-edition rose gold version of its brand-new Gold Card — here’s how to request one in 5 minutes

    That's in addition to the standard welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Some people may be targeted for a higher bonus.

    The new Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at US restaurants, as well as on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that). It also earns 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, and 1x point on everything else.

    That makes it among the most competitive cards for restaurants and supermarkets in the US — since it's possible to get more than 1¢ of value for each Membership Rewards point, the value is more than 4% back.

    Learn more: AmEx Platinum cardholders can potentially get the $200 airline fee credit twice in their first year — here's how

    The Gold Card features several other benefits, too. Cardholders can get up to $120 in dining credits a year — split into $10 chunks each month — when they use their cards to order food through Grubhub or Seamless, or at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. That's in addition to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year.

    The card's annual fee is $250, but between the annual credits and the rewards, it should be easy to earn enough value to more than make up for that.

    Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    SEE ALSO: 11 lucrative credit card deals you can get when opening a new card in December — including a 200,000-mile bonus

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    Camaro SS

    • The Ford  Mustang GT and the Chevy Camaro SS are two of the USA's most famous muscle cars, but both icons have been updated for the modern world.
    • I drove both and was impressed with the staying power of their old-school V8 engines — but also the new technologies that Chevy and Ford have deployed.
    • Ultimately, I preferred the wilder Mustang GT, but the Chevy Camaro SS might be easier for some drivers to live with day-to-day.

    Muscle cars are often characterized as uncompromising, given that these all-American machines are designed to serve up serious speed in a straight line.

    But the truth is that for much of their multi-decade reign on the roads of the USA, that speed has been crude. Loud and proud, but if you asked a muscle car to gracefully negotiate a corner, well ... you'd have been far better off with a Porsche.

    That's all been changing in the 21st century, however. With the Mustang and the Camaro, Ford and Chevy have engineered hybrids of a muscle car and a sports car. OK, they can't quite do it all, and if you want a car that's brilliant in the curves, German might still be your best bet. But Porsches and BMWs ain't cheap. Mustangs and Camaros aren't, either, but their price tags are many thousands below European coupés that match up on horsepower. 

    Over the past year, I was lucky enough to be flipped the keys to both a Mustang GT and a Camaro SS, both rocking potent V8 engines, and outfitted in flashy colors. So did I favor the bright yellow 'Stang or the hot orange Camaro SS?

    Read on to find out.


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    Let's start with the Mustang GT. I sampled the 2018 re-fresh of the new 'Stang, which was rolled out in 2015. It was late 2017, and the setting was sunny Los Angeles.

    Read the review.

    The GT starts at about $35,000, but my options-packed test car was closer to $50,000. The yellow paint job definitely stood out, even in LA, land of flamboyant automobiles.

    The Mustang looks good. Updates aren't radical: the front and back end have been made more sleek. The overall effect is to continue presenting the Stang, after over five decades, as a sports car with global appeal, versus a stonking old American muscle car.

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    border patrol

    • An 8-year-old child from Guatemala died at a hospital in New Mexico while in Border Patrol custody on December 25, the agency said in a statement.
    • The statement said a Border Patrol agent first noticed the child showing signs of potential illness on Monday while in custody, and that the father and child were "promptly transferred" to a hospital.
    • The child was initially diagnosed with a common cold, the statement said, but hospital staff later found he had a fever.
    • After being held for observation for an hour and a half, the child was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon, then brought back later that evening after displaying nausea and vomiting.
    • The child's identity and cause of death is unknown.

    An 8-year-old migrant child from Guatemala died at a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, shortly after midnight on December 25 after being apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection, the agency said in a statement that was first reported by the San Antonio Express News.

    The statement said a Border Patrol agent noticed the child showed signs of potential illness while in custody on December 24. It went on to say boy and his father were "promptly transferred" to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo.

    Though the child was initially diagnosed with a common cold, the statement said, hospital staff later found he had a fever. After being held for observation for another 90 minutes, the child was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon with prescriptions for amoxicillin and ibuprofen.

    Later that same evening, the statement said, the boy began vomiting and was brought back to the hospital, where he died shortly after midnight on December 25.

    The child's identity and cause of death is unknown.

    CBP's statement said both Congress and the Guatemalan government has been notified of the boy's death, and the Department of Homeland Security will review the incident.

    The death of the Guatemalan child comes just weeks after a 7-year-old migrant girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died in Border Patrol custody. A CBP timeline showed she had not been able to access emergency medical care until roughly 90 minutes after she first began showing symptoms.

    Read more:Migrant father contradicts US officials, says his 7-year-old daughter who died in Border Patrol custody was given no water for 8 hours

    Jakelin died on December 8, shortly after she and her father were apprehended while illegally crossing into a remote area of the desert in New Mexico as part of a group of 163 migrants.

    The Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, drew backlash in recent weeks after appearing to blame Jakelin's death on the family members who brought her across the US-Mexico border.

    In an interview with "Fox & Friends," Nielsen told the hosts that the girl's death "is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey" migrants take.

    "This family chose to cross illegally," she said. "What happened here was that they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them. They came in such a large crowd that it took our Border Patrol folks a couple of times to get them all."

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    raise main

    • Few of us ever use all the gift cards we receive. Instead of letting them go to waste, you can sell them for free on an online marketplace called Raise.
    • You'll be able to set your own selling price, and after Raise takes a 15% commission from the sale, the rest of the money is yours. 
    • You can also buy discounted gift cards to the places you really want. They're shipped to you for free or made available in your account instantly. 
    • The well-designed website decreases your gift card clutter and helps you spend your money more productively. 

    There's a drawer in my house that's unofficially known as the Gift Card Graveyard: It's where all the gift cards we've received over the years go to die. On the off chance we remember we have a gift card for that coffee chain we haven't visited in years, it attracts some attention, but for the most part it remains untouched and hundreds of dollars go to waste. 

    Gift cards aren't useless. They're easy, last-minute gifts for anyone in your life and a convenient way to pay at your favorite stores. The problem, however, is when you receive a gift card for a store, restaurant, or website that you don't intend on visiting and is of no use to you. 

    A website called Raise is the best way to get rid of your Gift Card Graveyard and make some extra money, with little effort. Raise is an online marketplace where you can sell your unwanted gift cards for cash at whatever price you choose and buy discounted gift cards to the places where you actually shop. 

    Here's how Raise works

    To sell a card:Visit the Sell page and enter the name of the store. You'll be taken to a page that looks like the below, where you'll enter all your gift card information and set your selling price.

    It's free to list a card, but once it sells, Raise will take a 15% commission from the selling price. Raise tells you what your total earnings will be after the commission cut, so you know exactly what to expect. 

    After you submit your listing, it takes up to 24 hours for the gift card to be verified and approved. Once it's sold, you can get paid out through three different methods: ACH Direct Deposit, PayPal, or check ($30 fee).

    raise desktop sell listing

    To buy a card: Visit the Buy page and search for your desired store, or filter by price, category, and sale specials. Raise offers thousands of brands that you shop regularly, including Target, Macy's, Nordstrom, Wayfair, Sephora, Airbnb, Starbucks, and Chipotle. 

    If you don't see a price you like, you can set up Brand Alerts that will notify you when a card in your desired price and discount range is available. 

    Physical gift cards are shipped to you for free in three to 14 business days, while most electronic gift cards are delivered instantly (processing can take up to 24 hours). 

    You can buy and sell with confidence because of Raise's one-year money-back guarantee. 

    Every order is backed for one year after the purchase. Raise will cover: 

    • Cards that are not active
    • Cards with an inaccurate balance
    • Cards delivered as a different brand than ordered
    • Physical cards not received within 30 days from the date of purchase

    Other than the desktop site, Raise also has iOS and Android apps, which let you instantly use your gift cards online or in-store through the Raise Wallet. 

    Since 2013, Raise has attracted more than 2 million buyers and sellers, and saved its users a total of $150 million. Though the savings on each gift card might seem minimal, the platform is still a smart way to find cash in unexpected places and save money where it matters. 

    Buy and sell gift cards at Raise here

    SEE ALSO: 13 easy, legitimate ways to make extra money this month — that you probably haven't considered yet

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    • For personal luxuries, I'm pretty cheap. But getting the seemingly ridiculous $150 Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit has actually improved my quality of life.
    • You can control all your Philips Hue bulbs by an app or by voice using Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant. 
    • The app lets you set schedules so lights automatically come on at any time of the day and for any specific need (reading, focus, relaxation, etc).
    • If you love ambiance, you will love these. 

    I am probably more surprised to find myself writing a story about how wonderful expensive light bulbs are than you are to find yourself reading it.

    As someone who almost exclusively subsisted off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in college without complaint, I can tell you I’m not exactly a high maintenance person. In fact, where my needs are concerned, I’m pretty cheap. I moved myself into my first post-grad apartment using suitcases and Uber pools.

    But, I recently got the Philips White Ambiance Starter Kit (currently $144 on Amazon) in a bid to mitigate the many annoyances I had gotten used to living around rather than solving. When you interact with slightly-too-short phone cords and mismatched Tupperware every day, the little things start to add up.

    The Philips White Ambiance Starter Kit may seem like a ridiculous, unjustifiable cost, but they're the best upgrade I've made to my apartment all year. They just make life easier and better.

    Basically, the kit is made up of four Alexa-compatible, smart light bulbs with many light variations. The kit I got includes four A19 LED bulbs and a Philips bridge (which connects it all). And though the upfront cost is high, it's nice to note that each bridge should be able to control up to 50 lights — so you won’t have to buy that most expensive piece of tech again if you want to add more Philips accessories to your home to synchronize. You can just buy the (comparatively) much cheaper bulbs

    Installation is as easy as screwing in the light bulbs, downloading the Hue app, and pairing the bulbs to your Hue Bridge (which is included). It took me all of five minutes.

    From there, you can control your lights from the app or just by voice control using Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant, and you can set schedules in the app for things like waking up in the morning, going to sleep at night, or making it seem like somebody's home when you're out of town for the weekend.

    You can also adjust them to very specific needs: energize, read, focus, and relax. And, as you might have guessed given the name “White Ambiance,” you can play with 50,000 shades of white light. If you love anything even remotely “atmospheric,” you will love these, and they are worth it.


    There are many practical implications of these features for lots of different people, but for me, it made getting up in the morning easier, made me more relaxed, and made me enjoy and love my living space more.

    It fixes a common small apartment annoyance; My room has one master switch, so either everything is on or everything is off, unless you use their individual switches. But since my room is small, most outlets are covered by furniture. Having to shut the master switch off to control the lights at the expense of my Amazon Echo and fail-safe alarm weren’t options, so virtually every night I would have to cram my hand behind my dresser to click the light off. I can’t explain how nice it is to be able to control the lights from an app or by voice commands — even dimming.

    It also means that I can be in my space for virtually every mood — I can use bright lights for reading, and varied levels of dimmed for activities like relaxing, watching a movie, or lulling myself to sleep.


    I don’t get a ton of natural light in the heart of NYC, and I was missing the little joy of waking up to sunlight. I set a schedule in the app, though, and now I wake up to my favorite type of warm light every morning at the same time. It actually puts me in a better mood. And it’s nice to have that be the first thing I notice rather than just the Alexa alarm.

    And since it makes waking up early feel more natural (and much less gloomy), I’ve felt better about getting up early for workouts. I still rely on (healthy) pre-workout to actually get me going, but the mimicked sunlight gets me out of bed much more consistently.

    So, all in all, even though these light bulbs are definitely more expensive than anything I would have normally bought for myself, they’ve absolutely been worth it for me. They've also functioned as a nice lesson that sometimes just judging things by how cheap they are kills the very necessary fun of “joie de vivre." When it almost laughably affects your quality of life, it's really not so hard to justify.

    If you appreciate mood lighting, waking up to sunlight-like light instead of just your alarm, or are similarly cramming your hand behind your bedside table every night just to turn off the lights, I really recommend the Philips Hue White Ambiance starter kit. Even at $144, it's one of the best value buys I made for my apartment in the last year. Sometimes, it's worth it to spend a little more for a lot more comfort.

    SEE ALSO: 13 organizing ideas that'll help you make the most of your space

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    dandelyan negroni

    A bar on London's South Bank has been named the best in the world.

    The World's 50 Best Bars list, now in its 10th year, is based on the opinions of more than 500 drinks experts, who each cast seven votes.

    For 2018, the experts named Dandelyan, the bar of the Mondrian Hotel in London, the best in the world.

    The bar was created by the award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, or "Mr. Lyan," the creator of the "Lyan" family of bars that includes Super Lyan, Cub, and White Lyan, which is now closed.

    Dandelyan, his oldest bar, is "inspired by the great botanists, fruit hunters, and bon vivants who brought back new tastes from foreign lands."

    Located in Sea Containers House right on the River Thames, Dandelyan offers some pretty stunning views — and its interior is just as impressive.

    However, there was one main thing that surprised me about the best bar in the world when I went to visit.

    Here's what it was like.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best bars in the world in 2018

    Dandelyan, in the Mondrian Hotel on London's South Bank, was named the best bar in the world for 2018. Situated right on the River Thames, the bar boasts some pretty stunning views of sites like St. Paul's. Here's what it looks like when it's empty (and shot with a professional camera).

    And here's what it looked like when I visited on a Friday night. I was taken aback by the bar's location, right on the river path, meaning plenty of tourists and pedestrians walk by and look right in at you (or even come inside).

    The stylish interior has an art deco vibe, paying homage to the Sea Containers building the bar and hotel are in. The space, by the British designer Tom Dixon, is inspired partly by "the luxurious cruise liners of generations past" filled with luxe purples, pinks, greens, and golds.

    Source: Dandelyan

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    best cold brew coffee

    • Cold brew coffee is always ready to roll, so keep a can or 10 in your fridge and you'll never be without a refreshing, energizing beverage.
    • KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee is the best ready-made cold brew coffee because it's sublimely smooth and rich in taste.

    In case you hadn't noticed, cold brew coffee is having a moment. People have been drinking cold coffee for years now, but today, we're not talking about the cup of joe left sitting on your desk since the morning, nor are we talking about regular coffee you poured over ice.

    True cold brew coffee was designed to be sipped chilled from the get go, and purveyors of cold brew coffee manage everything from the bean selection to the roasting timing and temperature to the extraction process to ensure their beverages come out just right.

    Cold brew coffees are generally less bitter and acidic than traditional coffee, resulting in a smooth and refreshing beverage. Think about that: refreshing coffee. Sure, the hot stuff can be energizing and comforting and such, but I've sipped down cans and bottles of cold brew coffee after a run as many times as I've enjoyed one in place of a steaming morning mug.

    Refreshment is great, but convenience is an even bigger selling point when it comes to ready-made cold brew coffee. There's no grinding or scooping, no brewing or perking, no pouring out a cup, even. You just pop the can or bottle open and sip. For the commuter or traveler, cold brew coffee is simply a smart choice. But there's still one more benefit to pre-packaged cold brew coffee that I think many people overlook: the taste consistency.

    When you make your own coffee, chances are you inadvertently use a slightly different bean to water ratio each and every time, and you likely add a varying amount of sugar, cream, or whatever else you use with each and every cup, too. With cold brew coffee, the beverage maker has locked in the exact flavor profile they want, so once you find a brand and a blend you love, you can count on it with each and every serving.

    Here is the best cold brew coffee you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best cold brew coffee overall

    Why you'll love it: KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee is mellow and mild, thanks to its low acidity, but it still has plenty of flavor.

    Of all the cold brew coffees I've sipped in recent years, KonaRed has always been the brand by which I measure other options. The coffees are consistently mild and mellow, offering lots of flavor with no discernible acidity.

    You can sip a KonaRed coffee slowly over time or you can chug a bottle or can. KonaRed also makes three-liter multi-serve boxes with pour spouts for people who want a big supply. The coffee gets all that flavor thanks to a 16-hour cold water steeping process, which enhances the taste and aroma with juice extracted from the coffee berry, which is the fruit that surrounds the bean.

    Of the KonaRed coffee blends I've tried, the basic black coffee, fittingly called Original, has always been my favorite. but the bold Espresso flavor is also lovely, while the Maui Mocha variety is like a desert in a bottle. The Kauai Caramel blend is frankly too sweet for me, but you just might love it.

    Plenty of dedicated coffee connoisseurs certainly love the stuff. A writer from BevNet called KonaRed coffee "smooth but bold."

    Pros: Mild acidity, high caffeine content, unique berry-like flavor notes

    Cons: Rather expensive

    Buy a 6-Pack of KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee on Amazon for $32.90

    The best cold brew coffee flavor varieties

    Why you'll love it: High Brew Cold Brew Coffee is delicious stuff no matter which of the six different flavors you choose.

    In the mood for something sweet? High Brew has you covered. Want something bold and rich? No problem there, either. Or hey, want some standard black coffee but without the bitterness? Yeah, the company does that, too.

    In fact, the best way to share all the various flavors of cold brewed coffee High Brew offers is probably just to list them. So here we go: Double Espresso, Black & Bold, Dark Chocolate Mocha, Creamy Cappuccino, Salted Caramel, and Mexican Vanilla. In case you were wondering, yes, I did list those from least sweet to sweetest. By the time you get to Mexican Vanilla, you're basically drinking a coffee milkshake. Not that I'm complaining.

    Over the past two years, I've gone through dozens of cans of this stuff and have enjoyed them all thoroughly. My only complaint, in fact, is that the company does not offer any coffees without added sugar, so if you ever want a truly basic black coffee, you need to look elsewhere.

    With about 200 reviews currently posted on Amazon, High Brew Cold Brew Coffee has a solid 4.2-star average rating. A shopper called Candace says High Brew coffee is "very tasty and convenient" in its eight-ounce can, while a brand fan named Ben says he "love[s] the taste" and the "caffeine content."

    Pros: Great selection of flavors, good serving size, certified fair trade

    Cons: No sugar-free options

    Buy a 12-Pack of High Brew Cold Brew Coffee on Amazon for $25

    The best cold brew coffee concentrate

    Why you'll love it: One 32-ounce bottle of Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate yields eight servings of tasty, potent coffee.

    There are two kinds of people who will love Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate above most other options. First, there are the people who love saving space, whether because they live in a smaller home or simply dislike clutter. Second are those who love huge doses of caffeine.

    One 32-ounce bottle of this concentrated elixir can prepare eight servings of coffee, and when compared ounce-to-ounce with regular coffee, this stuff is three times more potent in terms of caffeine.

    Preparing a basic serving of Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee is pretty easy: You blend four ounces of concentrate with four ounces of water. You can also replace the water with milk or with a dairy-free alternative to prepare delicious original drinks, too. As long as you keep to that 1:1 ratio, you'll be preparing a beverage that has more caffeinating potential than a standard cup of coffee of the same size.

    With a couple dozen reviews posted on Amazon, Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate has a fine 4.1-star average rating. One shopper says it has a "really good taste" that's perfect for a "cold brew mocha." Another reports loving the stuff but cautions that the caffeine concentration will "knock your socks off."

    Pros: Multiple servings per bottle, high caffeine concentration, 100% organic

    Cons: Requires dilution prior to consumption

    Buy a Two-Pack of Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate on Amazon for $35

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    The best wine aerators

    • By exposing wine to several minutes' worth of air in just a few seconds, a good aerator is one of the simplest, easiest, and cheapest ways to get the most flavor out of your wines.
    • The VinLuxe Pro is the best wine aerator you can buy because its simple and elegant design uses a three-step process that aerates wine beautifully.

    Getting into wine can quickly become a rather time-consuming hobby. You can easily spend years learning all about the different types of wines, the regions of the world where they're made, how certain wines should be stored and served, and — most importantly — how to get the most enjoyment from the bottles you've purchased. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do so is to invest in a good aerator. An aerator may, in fact, be the cheapest tool in the amateur sommelier's arsenal, yet it easily ranks among the most important (for many wines, anyway).

    Wine is, after all, an organic material, and its flavor and fragrance are subtly affected by everything from the soil the grapes were grown in to how the wine is stored — and exposed to elements such as light — inside glass bottles. Even wine glasses are designed with this in mind, with a bulb-like shape that lets you swirl the wine (thus aerating it a bit) and a narrow opening that directs the released aromas toward your nose.

    But what is aeration, exactly? In a word, aeration is the process of wine mixing with oxygen, causing the flavors to "open up" — a rather vague-sounding bit of wine jargon that basically means allowing the hidden flavors of the wine's components to express themselves more fully. This happens when some of the less pleasant wine components (think acids and ethanol), which evaporate more quickly than the good stuff, are "bled off" by aeration, and the nicer flavors and aromas are left behind for you to enjoy.

    Not all wines necessarily benefit from aeration, but most will. Fresh wines and wines that have been aged for awhile in the bottle have the most to gain from the process: Young, tannic wines will have their rougher edges smoothed out a bit, while older wines will taste better once they've had some time to breathe after being stored in bottles for years. Also, bear in mind that aeration won't make bad wine taste good, but it will bring out the best of a good wine.

    When using an aerator, the process really only takes a few seconds; exposing your wine to oxygen for too long will allow the good flavors and aromas to escape, too. And — although it's a relatively quick and simple process — there are a number of different types of aerators available, from simple handheld designs all the way to modern electric units with built-in dispensers.

    We've done the research to smoke out the best wine aerators that cover every need and price point, so read on to find the right one for your next wine party.

    Here are the best wine aerators you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best wine aerator overall

    Why you'll love it: A solid handheld design and highly efficient three-step aeration process make the VinLuxe Pro wine aerator the best tool to enhance your drinking experience for less than $20.

    Decanters are popular among wine enthusiasts as an attractive way to both serve and aerate wine. These glass vessels let your wine breathe, but decanters are big, fairly expensive, and take time to aerate the liquid inside.

    A good handheld aerator such as our favorite, the VinLuxe Pro from Andre Lorent, is a smaller, cheaper, and more time-efficient way to achieve the same effect as a decanter in a matter of seconds.

    The VinLuxe Pro achieves this with its thorough but surprisingly quick three-step aeration process. First, wine poured into the VinLuxe hits a raised "umbrella" that splashes the liquid around in the aerator's chamber. It then trickles through 32 drip channels, all the while swirling inside the aerator before entering your glass.

    This whole process exposes the poured wine to several minutes' worth of air in just a few seconds. Compared to other aerators we've tried, the VinLuxe is notably better at opening up aromas and flavors and reducing the bitter tannic bite of many red wines. About the only thing that could make the VinLuxe Pro perfect is a mesh sediment filter, but that's not a deal-breaker as most wine aerators don't include one.

    At its affordable price of just $19, though, this is a minor quibble given how well the VinLuxe Pro aerates your wine and how simple it is to use. It's easily the best way to improve your wine-drinking experience for less than $20.

    Pros: Great three-step process aerates wine more fully and efficiently than most other designs, opens up the flavor of wines in a few seconds, and it's an excellent value at less than $20

    Cons: No mesh sediment filter

    Buy the Andre Lorent VinLuxe Pro Wine Aerator on Amazon for $19

    The best electric wine aerator

    Why you'll love it: For one-touch convenience, it's hard to beat the Aervana electric wine aerator and dispenser, which delivers fully aerated wine right into your glass with the press of a button.

    Manual wine aerators, whether handheld or in-bottle, are generally pretty simple pieces of equipment. Recent years have seen the growing popularity of electric units like the Aervana, however, which aerates wines beautifully while offering the added convenience of push-button dispenser, effectively turning your favorite bottle into a tap.

    The Aervana aerator's operation is fairly straightforward: You attach it to the top of an open bottle, with the Aervana's suction straw placed into the wine. With a push of a button on the top of the unit, this straw "drinks" the wine up into the aerator, where the liquid is mixed with air inside the chamber. The Aervana then dispenses the aerated wine into your glass — no pouring necessary.

    The drawback to this design is that, while the suction straw keeps solid particulates out of your glass (as these solids will most likely have settled at the bottom of the bottle), it leaves behind some wine once the bottle is almost finished. This last bit of wine — including any dregs that might be in there — will need to be poured out normally, as the Aervana's straw can't reach it.

    This is a relatively minor problem, though, considering how well the Aervana aerator works and how dead simple it is to use. The Aervana electric aerator is very effective at drawing out the pleasant flavors and aromas of your wines while dulling the harsher tannic and alcoholic edges, it's easy enough for anyone to use, and it looks great.

    It's expensive at around $90, but if you're in the market for the best electric wine aerator, then the Aervana has you covered.

    Pros: Turns your bottle of wine into a simple push-button tap, aerates wine as well as any other aerator we've tried, and its mess-free design makes it ideal for serving wine at dinners and other get-togethers

    Cons: It's expensive, and the suction straw does not go all the way to the bottom of the wine bottle

    Buy the Aervana Electric Wine Aerator and Dispenser on Amazon for $90

    Buy the Aervana Electric Wine Aerator and Dispenser on Wine Enthusiast for $90

    The best pouring wine aerator

    Why you'll love it: An on-bottle design like the Soireehome aerator can open up your wines while offering easy one-handed pouring.

    Aside from unique examples like the electric Aervana, wine aerators typically come in two main varieties: handheld designs (like the VinLuxe) and "pouring" ones that fit right onto the bottle. Our favorite, the Soireehome on-bottle aerator, is a great alternative to handheld models when you just want to pick up a bottle and pour a glass of wine like you normally would without an aerator.

    The Soireehome might be the simplest of all of our picks: The aerator just pops into the opening of your wine bottle and it's ready to go. As you pour, wine enters the blown glass aeration chamber, swirling around inside and mixing with air. Inward-facing dimples in the glass also help to agitate and move the wine around a bit. This oxygenated wine is then deposited right into your glass from a well-designed drip-free spout.

    Another nice feature of the Soireehome aerator is that you can actually control how much air your wine is being exposed to by changing the angle at which you pour. Pouring more slowly will prevent the wine from swirling and splashing around in the aeration chamber, mixing it with less air. Pouring while holding the bottle at a more vertical angle will have the opposite effect, letting a greater volume of wine swirl around through the aerator for more oxygen exposure. However you use it, it aerates and opens up wine exceptionally well.

    The Soireehome's glass construction is certainly part of its appeal, but it's also a potential drawback as it will naturally be more prone to breakage than the more common acrylic aerators, although the newer model is thankfully a bit sturdier.

    At $20, though, it's hard to complain about the Soireehome on-bottle wine aerator, and it's an easy one to recommend to anyone looking for an alternative to larger handheld aerators.

    Pros: Fits right onto the bottle for one-handed aeration while pouring, drip-free design, and you can control the amount of air different wines are exposed to for the best results

    Cons: Glass construction is relatively fragile compared to acrylic aerators (although more durable than it used to be)

    Buy the Soireehome In-Bottle Wine Aerator on Amazon for $20

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dubai Burj Al Arab Most Luxurious Hotel (1 of 74)

    • One of the most decorated luxury hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, was recently named the "best hotel in the world" by the Ultratravel Awards. The Burj has frequently been called "the world's first seven-star hotel" and "the most luxurious hotel in the world" by travel writers and critics.
    • I recently stayed at the hotel on a trip to Dubai to see if the Burj Al Arab could possibly live up to the hype.
    • Adorned with more gold and marble than any reasonable person would choose, the Burj Al Arab impresses through the sheer force of its vision of luxury.
    • A guest's every whim is attended to, the architecture and design astounds with color, patterns, and vertigo, and extravagances like caviar and truffles find their way into numerous dishes at the hotel's restaurants. It's like living in the dream world of an Emirati royal or President Donald Trump.

    If you've ever wondered what it's like to vacation like a billionaire, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai is likely the closest we normies will ever get. 

    Shaped like the sail of an Arabian dhow ship and built for $1 billion, the hotel is full of extravagances like a Rolls-Royce chauffeur, a 14-piece set of Hermès toiletries, personal butlers — Burj says the staff-to-guest ratio is 6:1 — and 24-karat gold everything. 

    Since the hotel opened nearly 20 years ago, the Burj Al Arab has won accolade after accolade for its bonkers approach to luxury.

    In just the last year, it was named the Best Hotel in the World by The Telegraph's ULTRA Awards and given a Five-Star Award by Forbes Travel Guide. When it first opened, a journalist was supposedly so enamored with the Burj that she exclaimed that it must be a seven-star hotel, a rating that does not exist.

    Gold-plated luxury usually makes me roll my eyes, making me think something along the lines of, This is what the richest people in the world waste their money on? 

    I certainly had that reaction when I stayed at the Burj Al Arab on a recent trip to Dubai, but I also found myself overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of the hotel's luxurious vision. 

    While I can't condone spending the $1,500 a night minimum it costs to stay there, I can say that staying the night inside the dreamworld of an Emirati royal is a very interesting trip.

    Keep reading to see what it was like:

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at Robert De Niro's ridiculously swanky new hotel in Ibiza — and it makes you feel like a celebrity, if you can afford it

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at New York’s most iconic luxury hotel that charges up to $50,000 a night and was once owned by Donald Trump

    The Burj's vision of luxury starts with its location. The hotel was built on a tiny man-made island a few hundred meters off the Dubai coastline. That means any would-be visitors must enter via guard-monitored bridge.

    Most people arrive via complimentary chauffeured Rolls-Royce pick up. Your other option is to arrive in a private helicopter — to a private helipad, of course.

    Compared to the rest of the Burj, the lobby is nothing to write home about, with low ceilings and a pared-back design. But that's by design. The lobby is mostly used to corral tourists coming to marvel at the structure, not guests.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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