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Inside New York City's most festive bar, where they spend more than $60,000 a year getting ready for Christmas

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rolfs christmas 0287

  • Rolf's German Restaurant is known for its over-the-top Christmas decorations.
  • By December, lines wrap around the block, and the place gets packed with locals and tourists.
  • They spend $60,000 on lights and ornaments.

 

When it comes to getting in the Christmas spirit, no one does it quite like Rolf's German Restaurant in New York City's Gramercy Park.

The otherwise quiet restaurant and bar is a spectacle during the holidays. Thousands of sparkling ornaments, icicles, lights, and dolls dangle above customers as they sip spiked hot apple cider and mulled wine. 

Business Insider spoke to restaurant manager Suhal Uddin in 2015 to get the scoop behind Rolf's tradition of over-the-top Christmas decorations. He estimated that there are about 15,000 ornaments and 100,000 lights hung up inside. It all costs the restaurant between $60,000 and $65,000 each year.  

We had to check out the decorations for ourselves.

SEE ALSO: Amazing vintage photos show what it was like to go holiday shopping in New York City 100 years ago

The Christmas decorations usually start going up during the last week of September.



Over the following six weeks, six men work overnight, five nights a week, to complete the ornate decorating process.



By November 1, it's complete. At Rolf's, the holiday season begins well before Thanksgiving.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A former nuclear test site in San Francisco is turning into an $8 billion neighborhood for the middle class — take a look inside

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sf shipyard lennar five point renderings 7

In San Francisco, an influx of tech workers has driven up the cost of housing and pushed natives to the far reaches of the city. And in the remote waterfront neighborhood of Hunters Point, an entirely new community is rising on the site of a former nuclear testing facility.

Lennar Corp.— the nation's largest housing builder — and its California-based spinoff Five Point have set out to transform the retired San Francisco Naval Shipyard into a bustling live-work community with 12,000 new homes and approximately five million square feet of office and commercial space. The project has a price tag to match its hefty ambitions: $8 billion.

The redevelopment of the neighborhoods around the shipyard and Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco Giants once played, began in 1999. The project has taken so long, in part, because it involves the cleanup of radioactive contamination. In the 1940s, the shipyard hosted a federal nuclear program that included a secret laboratory where researchers ran tests on the effects of radiation on living organisms. Its closure in 1994 left behind San Francisco's worst toxic-waste dump.

Now, the "micro-hood" at Hunters Point is starting to take shape, with 234 homes sold (about 83% of the completed units) and another 49 condominiums marketed for sale.

Take a look inside the rebranded San Francisco Shipyard.

SEE ALSO: Another former radioactive-waste site off the coast of San Francisco is turning into a $5 billion housing development

The bus ride to The SF Shipyard reminds me of the approach to Walt Disney World when I was a kid. For half a mile back, roads signs welcome you to a real-estate wonderland.

After a roughly 45-minute bus ride from downtown, I arrived in The SF Shipyard.



It was less glamorous than I expected. Wire fences separated swaths of dirt from other plots of dirt. A few residents walked their furry companions along the paved roads.



The city bus drops residents off along the back of the development, where rows of condominiums meet what remains of the retired San Francisco Naval Shipyard.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This is why low-carb diets can be damaging to your health, according to a dietitian

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  • Rachel Clare says Low-carb diets can be damaging to the human body. 
  • The human body creates keto bodies which break down fat reserves instead of carbohydrates. 
  • Ketogenic diets can be helpful for people suffering from epilepsy, however. 

 

Business Insider UK spoke with professional dietitian Rachel Clare about the dangers of ketogenicdiets.

Full transcript below

Rachel Clare: So the ketogenic diet is when you have next to no carbohydrates in your diet and what that means is that because your body isn’t using energy from carbohydrates it’s breaking down fats to give it the energy that it needs.

When you break down the fats in your body, it releases ketone bodies and so when your body’s breaking down more and more fat it produces these ketone bodies and so it means that somebody can be said to be in a “ketogenic state.”

In some small medical cases, the ketogenic diet is actually used for benefit.

So there’s some bits of evidence to show that being on a ketogenic diet can help people who suffer from epilepsy for example.

But for the general public the ketogenic diet is quite dangerous, your body when it’s producing ketone bodies it’s not in a normal state and so actually for the general public, the ketogenic diet is quite damaging.

Produced by Jasper Pickering. Camera by David Ibekwe. Research by Fraser Moore.

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Here's where to find free cookies and deals on National Cookie Day

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chocolate chip cookies baking

  • Monday, December 4 is National Cookie Day. 
  • And Americans love cookies. 35% have eaten an entire package of cookies in one go.
  • We rounded up the best freebies and deals we found across the country for aficionados.

 

Everyone loves cookies.

Turns, out, Americans love them so much that about one in three has eaten an entire box of cookies in one go, according to a recent survey by NationalToday.com.

70% of those surveyed eat cookies at least once a week, and 43% have eaten a row of Oreos in one sitting, the same survey found.

Luckily for cookie aficionados, a slew of companies are giving out free cookies or have deals this Monday in honor of National Cookie Day.

We listed some of more notable ones below, which we found via Money, Cleveland.com, and Delish.com:

  • All Mrs. Fields locations will be giving out a free cookies to the first 400 customers.
  • Insomnia Cookies is giving out a free traditional cookie with any purchase.
  • Whole Foods' cookie bar is offering items for 50% off.
  • Participating locations of Nestle Toll House Café are giving out free regular cookies to customers.
  • Participating locations of Great American Cookies will be giving out one free original chocolate chip cookie — no purchase necessary.
  • Penn Station East Coast Subs (the sandwich chain, not the train station in New York City) is giving out chocolate chunk cookie bites with any sandwich purchase.
  • Missouri-based chain Hot Box Cookies is giving out one free cookie with every order.
  • Cinnabon came out with a limited-time hybrid chocolate chip cookie-cinnamon roll called Cookie Bon Bites, which will come with free milk on Monday.

SEE ALSO: Meet the world's 50 richest billionaires in 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A restaurant created a dish that combines pizza, cookies, and ice cream

The founders of Brooklyn's wildest nightclub explain how partying can be 'resistance' in the Trump era

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  • Artists Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova are the founders of Brooklyn's wildest, weirdest club, House of Yes
  • A central philosophy of House of Yes is acceptance of "all people" regardless of race, sex, size, culture, or religion
  • They say partying can be "resistance through pleasure-seeking" when you use it to connect with all different types of people.

 

Artists Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova  say they founded Brooklyn nightclub House of Yes in 2015 to be a place for all people "to truly connect, be themselves, express themselves, make their art, and present their art."

That mission has taken on new meaning as the United States, and the world, have seen pushback against globalization and surges in racism, nationalism, and xenophobia over the last year. 

Burke and Sapozhnikova say the welcoming and accepting ethos of House of Yes has made it a refuge for communities who feel marginalized in the Trump era. 

HouseofYes7That aspect coalesced when New York-based South African collective One Tribe and DJ Ameme performed at the club one night in November. 

Sapozhnikova told Business Insider that the energy on the dance-floor felt "political."

"Everyone in that room was having the time of their life ... but everyone could feel this diversity on the dance floor. It was all ages and races and genders dancing their ass off together," said Sapozhnikova.

"We're living in a really divided time, but to have that, there's a realization that we're going to be okay."

Burke called it "resistance through pleasure seeking."

"The more you do that, the more you can connect with like-minded people and the stronger you are because of it," Burke said.

"When you are partying intentionally, and when the people who are behind it all are creating a platform for you, you can actually connect at the party instead of going and getting f—ked up and escaping. It's revolutionizing yourself."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Warren Buffett lives in a modest house that's worth .001% of his total wealth — here's what it looks like

Business Insider UK is hiring a tech reporter

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Robots

Business Insider UK is hiring a tech reporter to join our team in London. We are looking for a driven storyteller who can spot scoops and is able to write quickly and independently.

This person should be obsessed with covering the world's biggest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber, and Amazon. He or she should be excited about chasing down news and delivering original, reported features.

The ideal candidate:

  • has 2-3 years experience in a digital newsroom, and a background in journalism
  • has a proven track record of breaking stories in the tech world for a reputable media company or publication
  • is a sharp writer with a proven talent for framing headlines
  • knows how to create and package stories in an exciting way with an original angle
  • knows how to use blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media to attract and engage an audience

This person has excellent communication skills and is genuinely excited about building Business Insider UK's tech readership. A solid grasp on SEO is a plus.

Apply herewith a CV, cover letter, and a link to your LinkedIn profile, if this sounds like your dream job.

Business Insider offers competitive compensation packages complete with benefits. This is a full-time position based in our London office.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Hackers can gain access to your computer monitor — a cybersecurity expert shows us how easy it is

Weight Watchers' new program has 200 'zero-points' foods you can eat as much as you want — including eggs

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breakfast eating woman eggs salmon toast

  • Weight Watchers introduced its new 'Freestyle' program on Monday.
  • The program uses the company's SmartPoints system, where users track the points in the foods they eat, but adds new flexibility with an expanded list of foods with zero points.
  • The zero-point foods list includes 200 items, including eggs, salmon, beans, and peas.
  • Weight Watchers CSO Gary Foster told Business Insider that the new system reflects the latest science on healthy eating — and studies suggest he's right.

Dieting can feel like torture in a country that came up with the Crunchwrap Supreme.

In comparison to whizzing through a drive-through for an inexpensive meal, many dieters have to measure and track every item they eat or drink. And a lot of healthy food isn't cheap.

With that in mind, Weight Watchers — one of the oldest dieting companies in the world — is introducing a new program that allows users to spice up their daily meal plans with 200 foods that they can eat as much as they want.

The new list of so-called "zero-point foods" has some surprising additions, from whole eggs and salmon to beans and even lobster.

It sounds almost too good to be true. As far as the program is concerned, that smoked salmon omelette you ate for brunch wouldn't count. Yet the new framework reflects several recent changes in how scientists and dietitians think about healthy food.

"These foods get picked for a reason," Gary Foster, Weight Watchers' chief scientific officer and an adjunct professor at University of Pennsylvania's medical school, told Business Insider.

Weight Watchers' point system gives foods a numerical value 

The crux of the current Weight Watchers program, popularized by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, is a system called SmartPoints. Servings of food are assigned points based on four criteria: calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Every Weight Watchers member gets assigned a daily and weekly point goal based on their height, weight, age, and gender. The points totals are designed to help them lose 1-2 pounds per week. That figure is widely considered a safe pace for successful weight loss.

avocado smoked salmon blueberries healthy food meal bowl tomatoes lunch

Previous iterations of the SmartPoints system calculated foods' points based on other nutritional factors, such as fiber. But because the most recent US Dietary Guidelines emphasize the negative effects of sugar and the importance of protein, the most recent SmartPoints system does, too.

"We anchor ourselves to the dietary guidelines," Foster said. "It's one thing for a team of experts to say, 'This is what the globe should eat,' and it’s our job to then develop a system that can change that pattern of eating."

To encourage people to eat more fruits and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and kale— which decades of research suggest are linked with overall positive health outcomes and weight loss — Weight Watchers has designated all fruits and leafy veggies as "zero-points foods." Members can eat these foods without counting them in their points total. That's because overall, these foods tend to pack a lot of key nutrients and help you to feel full. They've also been linked with a reduced risk of chronic disease.

People don't tend to overeat these foods. While you might easily down two helpings of pumpkin pie, you'd have to consume two dozen servings of steamed broccoli to end up with the same overall calorie intake.

"It's definitely easiest to overdo it with drinks, refined carbs, foods that have added sugar or are highly processed — those are things that we just tend to keep going," Cara Anselmo, a nutritionist and outpatient dietitian at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, told Business Insider.

Why Weight Watchers new 'zero-points foods' list includes eggs and salmon

The new Freestyle program includes 200 foods that previously counted for two to four SmartPoints.

Whole eggs, beans, peas, corn, and nearly 50 different kinds of fish are all on the list. So are 11 kinds of shellfish, including crab and lobster, as well as skinless chicken and turkey.

The case for eating many of the foods on the new list has been bolstered by several recent studies — many of which overturn decades-old wisdom on nutrition. It was once believed that eating eggs, which are high in dietary cholesterol, would raise cholesterol. But recent research has shown that eating cholesterol doesn't necessarily translate into having high cholesterol, just as eating fat does not translate into being fat.

Plus, many of these high-fat or high-cholesterol foods are also rich sources of protein, a key nutrient that fuels muscles and helps keep you feeling full. Instead of spurning high-fat, protein-rich foods like salmon, the new program is designed to encourage participants to eat more of those items.

"These foods form the basis of a healthy eating pattern," Foster said. "Do we really care if people are eating 4 ounces of salmon vs 6 ounces of salmon? No."

Many high-sugar foods — especially processed foods like cookies and cakes that pack a lot of refined carbohydrates— remain in the "high points" terrain. The exception to that rule is fruit, which still has zero points since it packs a lot of other healthy nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

To ensure the new guidelines work for Weight Watchers participants, the company teamed up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to run a six-month clinical trial of 152 people. The results haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Foster said that so far, many participants have been shown to lose weight, see decreases in waist circumference, report fewer cravings and feelings of hunger, and improve their sleep.

hard boiled eggs

That's promising, especially when combined with the thousands of participants who've agreed to try out the new system in meeting rooms around the country, Foster said.

"It’s that combination of data that makes us feel very confident," he said.

But can you really eat as many eggs as you want on the plan?

Yes and no, Foster said — the new system is designed to give people more healthy, nutrient-rich options that they're unlikely to overeat. The chances that someone is going to order a 10-egg omelette are slim, he added.

Plus, many of the foods that are now considered zero points are even on a ranking of so-called "powerhouse foods" compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Very few people come to Weight Watchers because they’ve had a problem overdoing it on salmon, legumes, beans, and chicken," Foster said. "Someone might think 'OK I’m eating salmon, no sweat on that. If I’m eating chocolate cake, I know I still have to measure that.'"

SEE ALSO: A professor of medicine explains why eating fat won't make you fat — but sugar will

DON'T MISS: Americans have been making a huge diet mistake for 100 years — here's what they should do instead

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 40 years ago, NASA sent a message to aliens — here's what it says

10 of the most popular places to visit for the holiday season

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  • American Express Travel looked at flight-booking data and found the 10 destinations with the greatest increase in bookings during this year's fourth quarter.
  • Some appeal to those who like the cold and others to those who want to escape it, but each offers unique cultural experiences.
  • Many will allow travelers to break out of their vacation routines and travel to destinations that are not often associated with holiday travel.

 

It's not too late to book your holiday vacation. 

Whether you want to celebrate Christmas, ring in the New Year, or skip both and avoid the holiday vacation crowd, there are plenty of options around the world that can provide unique cultural experiences. 

American Express Travel looked at the 10 destinations that have experienced the greatest increase in flight bookings during this year's fourth quarter, and it found a wide range of cities across the globe. Some provide opportunities for skiing and unique holiday celebrations, while others allow travelers to get out of the cold and catch some sun.

These are some of the destinations that travelers are flocking to this holiday season.

SEE ALSO: 10 massive New Year's Eve parties that are worth traveling for

Aruba

Increase in bookings: 31%

Travelers looking to escape the cold have been flocking to this Caribbean island to relax on its pristine beaches. Aruba also has the advantage of being undamaged by this year's hurricanes.



Buenos Aires, Argentina

Increase in bookings: 28%

The capital of Argentina is a haven for design enthusiasts with its creative architecture and fashionable residents.



Reno, Nevada

Increase in bookings: 78%

Reno offers the excitement of a major city and the laid-back vibe of a ski town. The city features a number of gastropubs with excellent craft beer and plenty of opportunities to ski in the Sierra Nevada.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

America's future depends on the death of the single-family home

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  • The US is in the throes of an affordable housing crisis, spurred by high demand and low supply.
  • As a solution, more cities are moving new construction from urban centers to spacious single-family neighborhoods.
  • California, the exemplar of the housing crisis, recently passed more than a dozen laws to push new construction in suburban areas.

 

One hallmark of the American Dream — the single-family home — is dying as we know it.

And it's for good reason: The US needs more affordable housing.

"Around the country, many fast-growing metropolitan areas are facing a brutal shortage of affordable places to live, leading to gentrification, homelessness, even disease," Conor Dougherty writes in The New York Times.

The solution has long been to build upwards, erecting cheap condos and apartments in urban centers. But construction can no longer keep up with demand in many metros, so city planners are looking to single-family neighborhoods, valuable for their sprawl and low-density, for space to build out. 

"It's an enormous problem, and it impacts the very course of America's future," Edward Glaeser, an economist at Harvard who studies cities, told the Times

In California, the exemplar of the country's affordable housing crisis, Governor Jerry Brown passed more than a dozen new bills related to housing in September, many of which are aimed at speeding up new construction, especially in suburban neighborhoods.

In metros like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, single-family neighborhoods make up 90% of the housing stock, according to Issi Romem, BuildZoom's chief economist. "Single-family neighborhoods are where the opportunity is, but building there is taboo," Romem told the Times.

One way California is pushing new construction in the suburbs is by making it easier for homeowners to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or "granny flat," in their backyard.

granny flats California

A bill passed in January 2017 put the state in charge of ADU construction and removed some of the red tape for approval imposed by individual cities. Since then, some homeowners have jumped at the chance to build an ADU on their property, to house extended family or earn additional income from renters. Others, meanwhile, have staunchly opposed the legislation, saying it would erode the character and quality of single-family neighborhoods, and accomplish nothing in the way of housing creation.

But experts, like Dana Cuff, the founding director of CityLAB and a professor of architecture and urban design and planning at UCLA, said ADUs can help create the type of "postsuburban city" America needs.

The modern household no longer comprises the breadwinning dad, the stay-at-home mom, and 2.5 kids, Cuff previously told Business Insider. Instead, college graduates are moving back in, and homeowners need cash flow from renters and space for nannies, caretakers, and aging parents.

"There's just an infinite number of ways our housing should be made more flexible for our complete lives," she said, and building additional units on single-family lots "get the ball rolling."

Cuff's research suggests that ADUs are feasible for 5% to 10% of the 500,000 single-family lots in Los Angeles, enough to make a dent in Mayor Eric Garcetti's goal for 100,000 new housing units by 2021.

But while ADUs may be a solution for boosting housing supply in the long term, it's not a quick fix, she says.

"It's a messy process that's going to take time as people try to figure out how to do it efficiently so that the housing that's built there is, in fact, affordable," Cuff said. "The amazing thing about the secondary units is the land is free. It's already there, you don't buy that. And that's the biggest expense in housing today, the land."

SEE ALSO: How much you have to earn to afford a home in 23 of the most expensive US housing markets right now

DON'T MISS: Crazy-high rent, record-low homeownership, and overcrowding: California has a plan to solve the housing crisis, but not without a fight

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: JAMES ALTUCHER: The American Dream is a lie

A neuroscientist is trying to create tailored 'exercise prescriptions' for aging to keep the brain sharp

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Wendy Suzuki

  • Wendy Suzuki discovered the miraculous effects of exercise on the brain when she started working out more herself.
  • Her research has revealed how a single workout can improve your ability to shift and focus attention.
  • Suzuki is creating a startup called BrainThrive that she hopes can dole out tailored exercise "prescriptions". 

 

NYU neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki says some of her most groundbreaking research started after she gained 25 pounds. When she hit the gym, Suzuki noticed that the extra exercise was helping her focus and making her feel happier. Those observations led her to focus her research on the productivity-enhancing, mood-elevating effects of regular exercise.

Now Suzuki is hoping to bring brain-boosting workouts to the masses. 

To help people age better and work out smarter, Suzuki is developing a kind of tailored workout formula for keeping the brain fit, like personal training for the mind. She's aiming to launch a new startup based on this idea, called BrainThrive, before the end of 2018.  

A prescription for working out

Eventually, Suzuki wants BrainThrive to develop individualized exercise "prescriptions" — detailed instructions for when to work out, how long, and what to do that vary from person to person. Studies have shown that all kinds of workout routines, from aerobic heartbeat-boosting routines, to weightlifting and meditation, can each be helpful for different conditions.

yoga yogi pose exerciseFor example, aerobic activity, which carries fresh oxygen to your muscles and flushes away stale carbon dioxide and lactic acid, has been shown to help reduce "chemo brain" in breast cancer survivors. Yoga is a proven treatment for patients struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while bicycling may help kids with ADHD feel more peaceful and calm.

But what about the best workout secrets for a single man in his 30s? Or a mother of two in her 40s?

Suzuki told Business Insider that she's already started looking at preliminary data on exercise patterns and cognitive function from cell phone fitness apps and cognitive tests that people can take on their phones. The idea is that by mining this kind of data, BrainThrive might better zero in on how different brains respond to various kinds of fitness.

Suzuki says exercise 'transformed' her brain

Suzuki now runs a learning, memory and cognition lab at NYU. 

She told a crowd at the TEDWomen 2017 conference in November that after gaining weight, she joined every kind of fitness class her gym offered and embarked on a river rafting trip. She quickly noticed how the endorphins from her workouts were improving her mood and giving her more energy. She maintained focus better and read reports more easily.

Suzuki realized something that would inform her studies for years to come: the benefits of exercise aren't confined to muscles or metabolism.

"Exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain," she said in her talk. "A single workout can improve your ability to shift and focus attention."

older woman exercising fitness exercise ball yoga weightsSuzuki has since examined how exercise increases neurotransmitters associated with good moods. Aerobic activity, she found, boosts chemicals in the brain like depression-busting serotonin and reward-signaling dopamine. These effects can last for up to two hours after a session at the gym or on the trail. 

Regular exercise also builds more new cells in the hippocampus, which plays a role in short- and long-term memory and can help us navigate and think about the future. Other studies have shown that aerobic workouts can stave off age-related mental decline, and help with recovery from traumatic brain injuries.

"You can think of exercise as a supercharged 401K for your brain," Suzuki says. "And it's free!"

As we age, the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus degrade. But Suzuki believes this cognitive decline could be reduced via a special exercise program built specifically for the aging brain. Her vision is that just as a bodybuilder knows to focus on deltoids or biceps, we'll soon be able to tailor work outs to help our hippocampus or prefrontal cortex.

SEE ALSO: You might have more control over aging than you think — here are 5 things you can do to slow it down

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NOW WATCH: A former Navy SEAL shares his workout routine for staying in amazing shape

7 strategies that can help make your relationship happier in 10 minutes or less

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  • Relationships are complicated, and they take a lot of work.
  • But that work can be fun — and easy.
  • Here are some easy strategies for strengthening your relationship on a daily basis, from saying "thanks" to putting a ban on talking about housework.


Relationships take work. A lot of work. But a week at a couples' retreat — while potentially nice — isn't the only way to reestablish intimacy.

You have multiple opportunities every day to show your partner you care, get to know them better, and defuse petty arguments.

Below, find seven strategies for strengthening your relationship, none of which take more than 10 minutes.

SEE ALSO: 10-minute changes to your daily routine that can make you happier

Try 'mindful conversation'

"Mindful conversation" isn't designed to help romantic couples, per se — but it's a useful exercise in learning to actually listen to what your partner is saying, instead of tuning out or waiting for your chance to jump in.

Here's how it works (one of you can be "A" and the other can be "B"):

1. A talks and B listens for a set time period (say, three minutes)

2. B responds with, "What I heard you say is …"

3. A gives feedback and B responds until A is satisfied.

4. A and B switch roles. 

It might be awkward at first, but it gets easier over time.



Hug or kiss your partner

Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin previously told Business Insider that she and her family make a habit of practicing "warm greetings and farewells." Every time someone comes or goes, everyone gives a sincere hello or goodbye.

It's a habit most couples could stand to adopt. According to IKEA's "Life at Home" report, while most people surveyed say it's important to hug or kiss their partner in the morning, far fewer people report showing this kind of physical affection before heading out the door.

And yet research suggests that physical affection is related to greater satisfaction in romantic relationships. So take a minute or two to show your partner how much you care about them.



Say 'thank you' for something small

In "The Gratitude Diaries," journalist Janice Kaplan chronicles her yearlong experiment with being more grateful for everything and everyone in her life — including her husband.

She writes that thanking her husband for something as small as fixing a leaky faucet ended up improving her overall marriage.

As Business Insider's Erin Brodwin has reported, psychologists have known for a while that couples who express gratitude toward each other are more likely to stay together. In fact, thanking your partner even once can bring you two closer months later.

That's possibly because a single act of gratitude sparks a cycle of gratitude and generosity: You thank your partner, so your partner feels appreciated and invests more in the relationship, which in turn makes you feel more grateful to them.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A judge has forced Starbucks to keep running its failing Teavana stores in a chilling verdict for the retail industry (SBUX)

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  • Starbucks had planned to close all of its Teavana stores by the end of the year. 
  • Mall owner Simon Property Group responded by suing Starbucks to keep the company locked into its leases for the 77 Teavana stores that are located in its malls.
  • A judge is forcing Starbucks to keep those stores open in a decision that has chilling implications for retailers planning to close stores. 

 

A judge is forcing Starbucks to keep 77 failing Teavana stores open in a ruling that has chilling implications for the entire retail industry, The New York Post reports.

Starbucks said in July that it planned to close all 379 of its Teavana stores, which are primarily located in shopping malls, by the end of the year.

Shopping Mall

Mall operator Simon Property Group responded by suing Starbucks to keep the company locked into its leases for the 77 Teavana stores that are located in its malls. 

Simon argued that the closure of Teavana stores could trigger additional store closures in its malls at a time when shopping centers are already under pressure from falling foot traffic and widespread retail bankruptcies. 

The mall owner argued that it would be hit much harder by the closures financially than Starbucks would be if the coffee chain were forced to keep its failing stores open until their leases expired.

An Indiana judge agreed, and now Starbucks will be forced to keep running the 77 Teavana stores located in Simon Property Group malls, according to the Post.

The decision has chilling implications for other retailers planning to close stores, as the Post points out. 

It has been a record year for store closures, with retailers shutting down more than 5,000 stores in 2017. The closures have put growing pressure on mall operators to fill vacancies.

As these mall operators grow increasingly desperate to keep the lights on, many more retailers could find themselves in court, fighting to shut down dying stores. 

SEE ALSO: Trump could be forced to testify on sexual-harassment allegations — and if he lies he could be impeached

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NOW WATCH: 7 things you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday

This glass cabin in Sweden takes you closer to nature

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Sweden is offering the best way to relax and unwind... by staying in a glass cabin! This cabin is located on a private Swedish island and offers canoeing, swimming, and fishing. Following is a transcript of the video.

This cabin brings you closer to nature. It’s called the 72-hour cabin. The cabin is on a private island in Sweden. It was initially used as part of an experiment. Five people with stressful jobs spent 72 isolated hours on the island.

The outcome? There was a 70% decrease in stress levels. The island has access to canoeing, swimming, and fishing. The cabin is now available for rentals. Would you stay in this cabin?

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Taco Bell and McDonald's are gearing up for a cutthroat battle of the fast-food dollar menus (YUM, MCD)

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Taco Bell Value Breakfast thumb

  • Taco Bell is expanding its $1 menu with 20 new offerings planned for 2018. 
  • McDonald's is also resurrecting its Dollar Menu in January. 
  • Taco Bell's CEO says that the competition over value-conscious fast-food diners is about to heat up.

 

Good news bargain shoppers: the dollar menu is making a comeback. 

Taco Bell announced it is expanding its dollar menu with plans to roll out 20 $1 limited-time offerings throughout 2018, in addition to the 20 $1 permanent menu items. In mid-December, the chain is rolling out the $1 Stacker, which features layers of beef and cheese between a grilled tortilla. 

Taco Bell

"People ask the question: Who orders from the value menu?" Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider.

"The real question is, who doesn't? ... It doesn't matter if you're making $40,000 or $140,000, young, old."

According to Taco Bell, $1 menu items generated $500 million in sales in 2017. $5 boxes generated an additional $1 billion in sales. 

As Taco Bell doubles down on value, McDonald's is also resurrecting its iconic dollar menu.

McDonald's announced on Monday that it will introduce new menus with items priced at $1, $2, and $3 in early January. Deals include any size of soft drinks and cheeseburgers for $1, bacon McDoubles and McCafe drinks for $2, and Happy Meals and triple cheeseburgers for $3, Reuters reported. 

Executives acknowledged that McDonald's has struggled to attract value-minded customers since killing the Dollar Menu in 2013. With McDonald's and Taco Bell doubling down on the dollar menu, it looks like early 2018 is shaping up to be a true battle for bargain shoppers. 

Taco Bell

"Make no mistake, when the market leader starts to do things really well in different places, it just means you have to be that much more committed to your specific strategy," Niccol said. "It's going to be more competitive [when McDonald's rolls out its new value menu], no doubt."

Niccol said he's optimistic about Taco Bell's strategy, in part because the chain is able to roll out more creative — and sometimes absurd — new products, while McDonald's focuses on more traditional offerings. And, while he says customers' financial situations have overall improved since Taco Bell rolled out its dollar menu in 2014, there is still as deep desire for value. 

"With the technology of social media and the mindset of the recession still fresh with people, they believe they can have access to a lot of experiences that maybe in the past, they would have had to pay a premium," Niccol said. 

SEE ALSO: McDonald's gave up on winning the 2 biggest battles in fast food — and business is exploding

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NOW WATCH: 7 things you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday

This stripped-back hotel in Georgia has been named the best place to stay in 2018 — and prices start at $188 a night

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When you're dreaming up the best places and hotels to visit in the year ahead, a luxurious Parisian suite with gilded ceilings and gigantic bathtub or a sandy beach-side resort in Bali might come to mind.

But it's the stripped back, industrial Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia that has been voted the one hotel in the world to visit in 2018.

Global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle named Rooms Hotel, Tbilisi the top place to stay in 2018.

The accoloade was given as part of Monocle's "Travel Top 50" — a list of best-in-class experiences, food, services, and products in their fields decided by Monocle's international team of editors and writers.

Rooms Hotel's stripped back decor, farm-to-table restaurant, and emphasis on communal spaces helped it win Monocle's prestigious title.

Scroll down to take a glimpse around the ultra-modern, Instagram-ready communal spaces and lavish suites in Tbilisi's Rooms Hotel, where prices start at just $188 (£140) a night.

SEE ALSO: The 25 places you need to visit in 2018, according to the world's top travel experts

Local hospitality meets modern interior design at Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia, a converted Soviet publishing house set in the charming, artistic district of Vera in Tbilisi.

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The hotel revolves around open, communal spaces — such as the open-air terrace...



...and the New-York-inspired restaurant "The Kitchen."



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Women have a psychological advantage over men in sport — here's how it helps them under pressure

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Serena Williams

  • A study has shown that men may buckle under pressure more than women in elite tennis matches.
  • Researchers looked at the performance of servers, and found that women's performance wasn't as affected by tense moments such as ties.
  • However, as only same sex games were looked at, the results may not be translatable to the real world.


It's popular belief that men and women have different strengths. However, stereotypes about men being strong and women being sensitive are constantly being debunked.

When it comes to sport, new research has shown that women could have a psychological advantage over men — particularly in high pressure situations.

Researchers from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland analysed 8,200 games from Grand Slam tennis matches. Specifically, they looked at the performance of the server in every first set played at the 2010 French, US, and Australian Opens and at Wimbledon.

They found that men's performance deteriorated more than the women's when the game was at particularly tense moments, such as in sets that went to 4–4. After reaching the tie, the results showed the number of men's serves that were broken rose by more than 7%.

"Based on our analysis of 8,280 men's and women's tennis games, we find that men consistently choke under competitive pressure, but with regard to women the results are mixed," the study said. "Furthermore, we find that even if women show a drop in performance in the more crucial stages of the match, it is still about 50% smaller than that of men."

Alex Krumer, an author of the study and behavioural economics researcher at St. Gallen, spoke about the findings in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. He said they studied tennis as it is an easy sport with which to measure performance and competitive pressure. They also only looked at the first sets because asymmetry, fatigue, and momentum could all affect performance in later ones.

The real world is a lot more complicated

Previous research has shown mixed results on gender differences in competition. For example, in one paper from 2010, researchers Christopher Cotton, Frank McIntyre, and Joseph Price looked at mathematics competitions, and found that men may outperform women at first, but this advantage doesn't last very long. In fact, they found that in later periods they may end up performing worse.

"The initial gender difference only appears when we frame the competition as a race; it does not appear when we tell participants that the competition is 'not a race,'" the study reads. "These findings suggest that the existence of an initial male advantage depends crucially on the design of the competition and the task at hand, and when the male advantage does exist it does not persist beyond the initial period of competition."

M. Daniele Paserman, an economics professor at Boston University, looked at the same data before and concluded that both men and women play more conservatively on key points, when the pressure is really on, and hit fewer winning shots as a result.

"We thought it would be interesting to look at those unambiguous, objective results and ask: 'Which group choked less when it mattered?'" Krumer said.

As the results only showed men vs. men and women vs. women — and we're also not all professional athletes — it's difficult to generalise and apply them to everyday situations. However, Krumer does hypothesise about why women may choke less than men do.

"It could be biological," he said to the Harvard Business Review. "If you look at the literature on cortisol, the stress hormone, you'll find that levels of it increase more rapidly in men than in women — in scenarios from golf rounds to public speaking — and that those spikes can hurt performance."

At least one lab experiment has shown that women respond better when they are up against other women, whereas men may have an advantage in mixed sex situations. As men and women compete in the real world, Krumer said the female advantage may not translate well. As he pointed out, just 4% of Fortune 500 chief executives are women.

"Physically speaking, men are still stronger than women, on average. But if you’re talking about mental toughness, maybe in certain circumstances it’s women who have the edge," Krumer said. "I feel we can confidently say that in the world of elite tennis, women are better under pressure than men are. They choke less. Whether that translates to other competitive settings remains to be seen."

SEE ALSO: If your music appears to slow down when you exercise, this is what could be happening in your brain

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The Russian billionaire owner of Arsenal reportedly paid for his niece to wed in a lavish Disney-style wedding — take a look inside

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24-year-old Uzbekistan "influencer" Ganya Usmanova and tennis star Vazha Uzakov, 29, married over the weekend in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

The extremely opulent affair was reportedly paid for by Uzbek-born Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov, who is worth over $15 billion (£11 billion) according to Forbes and owns a chunk of Arsenal Football Club.

The pinnacle of the lavish affair was a fairytale-themed reception held at the Uzekspocentre Exhibition Centre, which centred around a white Disney-like castle.

There was no expense spared, with a "Sex and the City" style bachelorette party, multiple dress changes, and traditional folk entertainment.

Scroll down to see the extent of the lavish celebrations that were shared on Instagram with the hashtag #VazhaGanya.

SEE ALSO: Meet the world's youngest queen, 27-year-old Jetsun Pema of Bhutan

Uzbekistan 'influencer' Ganya Usmanova, 24, and tennis star Vazha Uzakov, 29, married on November 30 2017 in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

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The extremely opulent affair was reportedly paid for by Uzbek-born Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov who is worth over $15 billion (£11 billion) according to Forbes. He also owns a chunk of Arsenal Football Club.

Source: The Sun 



The couple opted for a Disney-like theme. The main reception, held at the Uzekspocentre Exhibition Centre, was centred around a white fairytale castle, against a night-like background with twinkling lights.

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The floor was decorated with diamond-effect designs, while ornate, chandelier-like decorations hung low from the ceilings and hundreds of flower arrangements adorned the tables. 



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How Meghan Markle’s dad became a 'total recluse' living in a cliff-top house in Mexico

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  • Meghan Markle's dad lives in a cliff-top house 25 km south of the Mexican border in California Bay.
  • The 73-year-old has yet to meet his future son-in-law.
  • Markle has a noticeable limp after sustaining a leg injury two years ago, according to family members.
  • But this won't stop him from walking Meghan down the aisle, according to his brother.


Meghan Markle’s dad, Thomas Markle, has yet to meet his future son-in-law.

This is because the retired lighting director lives in a cliff-top house in Rosarito Beach — around a 15-minute drive from the Mexican/US border.

After retiring from Hollywood in 2011, Mr. Markle moved to the stunning resort town in California Bay where his home now overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Meghan Markle's half-brother and Thomas Markle's son, also called Tom Markle, told the Daily Mail that his father has grown increasingly reclusive since the announcement of the engagement.

"Dad never liked the limelight, but since the news came out about Meghan and Harry he's become a total recluse," Tom Jr said.

"I haven't seen him in years. He hates the attention Meghan's romance has brought on to him. He loves her but hates the idea of being in the spotlight."

Regardless of Mr. Markle's reclusive status in northern Mexico, the father's love for his daughter is obvious. Since he divorced ex-wife and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, in 1988 when Meghan was five years old, the father and daughter have retained a close relationship and still speak regularly.

In an Instagram post on Father's Day 2016, Meghan Markle wrote: "Happy Father's Day, daddy. I'm still your buckaroo, and to this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world.

"Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkeley films & club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of handwritten thank you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you."

The 73-year-old became increasingly introverted after sustaining a leg injury two years ago, it has been widely reported. Nevertheless, Mr. Markle is reportedly set to walk his daughter down the aisle at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle come May next year, according to Markle's brother and Meghan's uncle, Michael Markle, who confirmed the news earlier this week.

"I know Thomas feels happy and excited about the engagement," the brother and uncle said.

"He and Meghan have a good relationship, and they talk weekly so she keeps him up to date."

prince harry and meghan markle

Despite claims from Tom Jr — who admits he has not spoken to his father or his half-sister in years — that Mr. Markle "hates" the spotlight, the soon-to-be-royal's father reportedly enjoys chatting with friends and locals around Rosarito about his excitement over the engagement, as well as Meghan's career on-screen in TV drama "Suits," proving he's just like any proud dad.

Ramon Moreno, the owner of a storage complex in which Markle sublets, told DailyMailTV: "Tom is a good man and a good customer.

"He loves his daughter very, very much. He says they talk regularly.

"He was proud of her when she was on 'Suits,' even before she was with the Prince."

SEE ALSO: Why the Queen might not attend Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding

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25 great gifts that are made in America

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  • While many manufacturers prefer to make their goods abroad, some still do so in the US.
  • New Balance, La-Z-Boy, and Crayola are among the companies that make some of their products in the United States.
  • These 25 gift ideas are perfect for your patriotic friends and family.

 

The elimination of manufacturing jobs in the United States and the increasing reliance on foreign-made goods has been a hot topic since the 2016 presidential election. But while many large tech and apparel companies prefer to use cheap labor in other countries, there are plenty of businesses that still make their goods in the US.

From guitars and socks to yoga mats for your cat, these 25 gift ideas are made in America.

SEE ALSO: The unofficial Goldman Sachs holiday gift guide for 2017

Stern Pinball Star Wars Pinball Machine

Price:$6,199

Stern makes pinball machines based on famous pop culture properties like "Game of Thrones," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and "Batman."



K'NEX Imagine 25th Anniversary Ultimate Builder's Case

Price: $74.99

K'Nex has started to increase its domestic production in recent years.



Grado SR325E Headphones

Price:$295

Grado is a family-owned business that makes headphones in Brooklyn.



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Starbucks opened a super-sized gourmet location in China — here's what it looks like (SBUX)

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Starbucks Shanghai

  • Starbucks opened a new super-sized Roastery in Shanghai on Tuesday. 
  • The location is 30,000 square feet and serves gourmet, nitrogen-infused drinks and food baked in-house. 
  • The Roastery is a window into Starbucks' future as the coffee chain attempts to bolster its premium image. 

 

Starbucks has opened a stunning location in China that is 300 times bigger than the average coffee shop. 

On Tuesday, Starbucks opened the 30,000-square-foot Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai. The location has gourmet drinks — like nitrogen-infused teas — and an 88-foot-long, hand-crafted coffee bar. 

Until now, Starbucks' only open Roastery was in Seattle, Washington. The success of the Seattle Roastery, which opened in late 2014, demonstrated to Starbucks the potential for more upscale locations and provided a blueprint for the other Roasteries in the works around the world.

Here's what it's like to visit the Shanghai Roastery, the most over-the-top Starbucks in the world. 

SEE ALSO: Starbucks has unveiled a new holiday cup after bizarre 'gay' red cup conspiracy

Starbucks is calling the Shanghai Roastery "the largest, most beautiful Starbucks location in the world."



It's nearly twice as largest as the current largest Starbucks, the Roastery in Seattle.



The location has three coffee bars, brewing up beverages you can't find anywhere else.



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