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The latest news on Features from Business Insider

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    bangs lead image

    • Getting bangs is risky as you can never be sure how it'll look in advance.
    • However, there are certain styles which nearly always suit certain face shapes and hair types.
    • Celebrity hairdresser Jason Collier explained to INSIDER how to know what shape of bangs will flatter you.

    When you're feeling stuck in something of a rut, there's nothing like getting a haircut to shake you out of it.

    As Coco Chanel reportedly once said, when a woman changes her hair, she's about to change her life. 

    But the trouble is, getting a drastic haircut is risky. How can you know whether a new style will suit you? Once you've gone for the chop, you're largely stuck with your new 'do until it grows out.

    Perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking cuts to go for is bangs. There are so many different styles, and if you don't love the result, there's not much you can do about it.

    Read more:There's a good reason why you shouldn't go out in the cold with wet hair, and it has nothing to do with getting sick

    Fortunately, there are ways you can increase your chances of choosing a style that will suit you. 

    "Bangs are a classic way to update your look, and they look especially great during the cooler months," Jason Collier, a hairdresser whose clients include Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller, and Eva Longoria, tells INSIDER.

    "I’m convinced that there’s a style of bangs to suit every woman; it’s just about knowing what works best for your face shape and hair type."

    Your hair type can affect your bangs

    "How your hair sits, behaves and grows will all impact your bangs, so it's essential to think about what can be achieved with the hair that you have," Collier explains.

    Fine

    You may think that fine hair will never be able to pull off bangs because they'll just sit flat and sad on your forehead, but this isn't the case.

    "If you have fine hair, bangs can make it look instantly thicker, simply because shorter sections look fuller," Collier says. "But be careful not to go for too heavy bangs, as you'll be left with a thinner effect on the rest of your 'do."

    He recommends a side-swept, flirtatious fringe, styled with a root-lifting spray to add oomph and create movement.

    Curly

    Bangs are a scary prospect for many people with curly hair, but with a bit of styling can be a great look.

    "Don’t be tempted to straighten your fringe," Collier advises. "Simply smooth out with a round brush and a styling cream to loosen the curl without shaking it out altogether.

    Thick

    If you have thick hair, play to your strengths: go for heavyweight, blunt bangs and embrace the retro vibe.

    "Side bangs can look a little too chunky if your hair is especially full, and short bangs are risky as they can stick out from the head, so play it safe and opt for super-flattering full bangs to make the most of your natural volume," Collier advises.

    Whatever your hair type, bangs usually require a fair amount of blow-drying and styling which can damage your hair, so make sure to maintain your bangs' lustrousness by using a nourishing oil and heat protection spray (applied to the brush, rather than the hair).

    The best style of bangs for your face shape

    Heart-shaped faces: side bangs

    "For heart-shaped faces, think about trying side bangs, to balance the face and draw
    attention to the eyes and mouth," Collier advises.

    "Have it gently layered, with the longest layer at the cheekbone and the shortest at the arch of the brow."



    Long faces: side-swept bangs

    "If your face is longer than it is wide, you should look to achieve bangs that balances it out," Collier advises.

    "I’d recommend going for long, side-swept bangs, tapered to one side and ending at the cheekbones to add width."



    Round faces: angular, choppy bangs

    "If you have a rounder face shape, you might have thought that bangs wouldn’t be for you.
    But actually, rounder bangs can add some contour and shape to the face," Collier explains.

    "You might need to be braver when it comes to the cut, and opt for more angular bangs than you first thought; a rounder face can appear elongated if you cut in choppy bangs which end about three centimetres above the brow, which diffuses the roundness."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    ubiome 3

    • I tried an at-home gut microbiome test kit made by Silicon Valley startup uBiome.
    • Since being founded in 2012, uBiome has raised nearly $110 million and rocketed from a meek citizen science project to a key player on the life science venture scene.
    • Having experienced minor digestive issues for years, I hoped to learn more about the gut bacteria thought to play a role in everything from our mental health to our ability to process fat and gluten.
    • What I learned about my so-called "forgotten organ" truly shocked me.

    If you've ever taken a probiotic, eaten yogurt, or added pickles to your sandwich, you've taken a step toward nourishing the vital community of life in your gut collectively known as your microbiome. In recent years, scientists have called the microbiome the "forgotten organ" thanks to its emerging role in affecting everything from your mood to your risk of disease.

    It's believed that the communities of bacteria living in our guts and elsewhere influence everything from our mental health to our ability to process fat and gluten.

    So when I recently got the chance to try a microbiome testing kit at home for free, I took it. Called the "Explorer," my kit was made by Silicon Valley startup uBiome. Since its founding in 2012, uBiome has raised nearly $110 million in funding and transformed from a meek startup to a key player on the life science venture scene.

    Investors call uBiome a game-changer. Before the company existed, we had virtually no central repository for data on the microbiome — data that could ultimately lead to new treatments for deadly diseases. 

    "We will look back and say, 'I can't believe we lived our lives without this knowledge,'"Bryan Johnson, the cofounder of a venture firm called OS Fund that led uBiome's latest funding round, told Business Insider.

    My uBiome test results came with a significant surprise. Here's what the experience was like.

    SEE ALSO: A startup helping us better understand the bugs that live in us raised $83M to start developing treatments for diseases like cancer

    DON'T MISS: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    Jessica Richman founded uBiome as a citizen science project in 2012. Since then, her company has quietly risen to prominence. Investors think uBiome's data could be used to design new drugs for everything from autoimmune diseases to cancer.

    Richman created uBiome with crowdfunding nearly six years ago in 2012 — the same year that a huge government research initiative focused on the microbiome ended. Called the Human Microbiome Project, the seven-year project's purpose was to study the diverse communities of microbes living in and on our bodies and learn what roles they play in health and disease.

    But Richman didn't want to wait years to see those results turn into real products for people.

    "I couldn't miss the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of the microbiome revolution," Richman told startup hub Y Combinator, which backed uBiome, in 2014. 

    This September, her company raised $83 million in a funding round that transformed it from a meek startup to a key player on the life science venture scene. Hundreds of thousands of customers have since had their microbiomes sequenced by uBiome researchers, and the company hopes that data will be used to offer the first concrete insights into how microbes impact our health.

    "uBiome basically invented the category of the microbiome," Johnson said. "What if we could understand this thing that is such a big component of what makes us who we are?"



    So far, uBiome has collected microbiome samples from 250,000 customers, Richman told Business Insider in September. She aims to reach 1 million samples by 2019, she said.



    I got a free uBiome test kit at an event organized by Silicon Valley venture firm Rock Health. At $89, it's the most basic version of the 3 tests uBiome offers. The other tests require a physician's sign-off.

    Having experienced mild digestive issues for years, I was excited to learn more about how the bacteria in my gut were faring. Would I learn more about what was causing my occasional bloating, cramps, and indigestion, or simply walk away from the test more confused than before?



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    good omens

    • Television-tracking app TV Time provided Business Insider a list of the most-anticipated new shows coming in 2019 that don't have release dates yet.
    • They include HBO's "Watchmen" and Netflix's "The Witcher."

     

    As 2019 looms, viewers can expect the return of some fan-favorite TV shows, including the long-awaited third season of HBO's "True Detective," starring Mahershala Ali. 

    But there are also plenty of new shows coming up that could become major hits that don't yet have release dates, including HBO's "Watchmen" and Netflix's "The Witcher."

    To find out what audiences are most looking forward to, we turned to television-tracking app TV Time, which ranked the most-followed shows based on its over 13 million global users (the shows provided don't have release dates yet).

    The top eight most-anticipated news shows are below:

    SEE ALSO: Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro says he's lost over a decade of work on unmade movies, including 'Justice League Dark' and 'Beauty and the Beast'

    8. "First Wives Club" (Paramount)

    Paramount describes the series like this:"Based on the film of the same name, three women unite as their marriages end in divorce." It stars Ryan Michelle Bathe, Jill Scott, and Michelle Buteau, and premieres in January.



    7. Untitled Fosse/Verdon Series (FX)

    According to Deadline, FX greenlit an untitled limited series from executive producer Lin-Manuel Miranda about the romantic and creative relationship between filmmaker Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon in July. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams will star.



    6. "City on a Hill" (Showtime)

    Showtime gave a 12-episode series order to "City on a Hill" in May, according to Deadline. It stars Kevin Bacon and is executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The series is about racism and the criminal justice system in Boston in the early 1990s.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    surgery

    There are plenty of myths and misconceptions around weight-loss surgery that can make the decision to have it shrouded in mystery and stigma. 

    Here are a few common misconceptions about weight-loss surgery and the truth about going under the knife to lose weight.

    MYTH: There's only one kind of weight-loss surgery.

    There are many kinds of weight-loss surgery. According to Mayo Clinic, most bariatric surgeryhelps people lose weight by either restricting the amount of food they can eat or reducing the number of calories the body can absorb.

    A fewcommon types of weight-loss surgery are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion.

    Each patient's situation is unique and only a physician can decide which procedure is best suited to an individual's particular needs.



    Weight loss surgery is a permanent solution to weight gain.

    Weight-loss surgery isn't a magic bullet. According to Mayo Clinic, returning to unhealthy eating habits after surgery can resultin losing no weight at all or even gaining weight. In extreme causes, overeating after surgery can cause damage to the organs that were altered by the operation, such as the stomach.

    Improperly eating after surgerycan also result in something called "dumping syndrome," where too much food enters the small intestine too quickly and causes symptoms like dizziness and vomiting.



    MYTH: People who get weight-loss surgery are too lazy to lose weight normally.

    Contrary to what some people may believe, people who opt for weight-loss surgery over a strict regimen of diet and exercise aren't just lazy or lacking gin willpower.

    "When someone is 20 or 30 pounds overweight, diet and exercise are prescribed and can work," explained Alfonso Torquati, chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Rush University Medical Center. "Butonce you cross the threshold of being 50 or 60 pounds overweight, the failure rates for controlling weight with exercise and diet are close to 90%."

    Rather than being an easy way out, weight-loss surgery can help some patients make the extreme diet adjustments necessary to lose large amounts of weight.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    scooby doo shocked

    • Not all animated animals look like their real-life counterparts.
    • Artists sometimes take a lot of creative liberties when creating animal characters. 
    • Sometimes animated animals have similar behaviors as their real-life counterparts.

    Artists tend to take some creative liberties when they developed some of our favorite animated animal characters. From outrageous sizes to unbelievable abilities, their unusual characteristics is what make these animated creatures so compelling.  

    Take a look at some of the most beloved cartoon characters next to their real-life counterparts.

    Scooby-Doo is modeled after one of the largest dog breeds.

    The adorable mystery-solving dog Scooby-Doo is fairly similar to his real-life inspiration. Scooby's breed is aGreat Dane and they tend to be large, lovable dogs who are typically friendly and patient with people.

    However, according to the American Kennel Club, Great Danes are known for being effective guard dogs, which is pretty different from Scooby's easily spooked disposition.

     



    The giant crab, Tamatoa isn't so far off from the real-life crustacean.

    Tamatoa from "Moana" is a larger-than-life crab covered in treasure and he's based on the very large coconut crab.

    Found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, this giant crustacean uses its massive claws tocrack open coconuts. Although not quite as huge as Tamatoa, the coconut crab typically weighs around 10 pounds.



    Artists took some creative liberties with Arthur the aardvark.

    Arthur, the cuddly bespectacled aardvark resembles a bear more than he resembles an aardvark. 

    In Arthur's first appearance in the 1976 book,"Arthur's Nose," he resembled a real-life aardvark with along snout and sharp claws.

    But over the years, Arthur lost many of those classic aardvark features. Creator Marc Brownexplained to AV Club, "It wasn't anything I was consciously doing. I just drew him and the more I got to know him … His nose got smaller and smaller."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    What is Lewis Hamilton's diet

    Lewis Hamilton is one of the most famous athletes in the modern world of sport.

    The British racer is a five-time Formula 1 champion who claimed his most recent title at the Monaco Grand Prix in September 2018, and then finished the 2018 season on a high by taking the chequered flag at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

    Hamilton is constantly evolving as an athlete and as an F1 driver, and even changed his diet in 2017 at the age of 33 to strictly follow a plant-based diet.

    So what sort of food does the vegan king of the racetrack eat?

    Here's everything Hamilton likes to eat and drink for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    SEE ALSO: The most expensive, rare, and bizarre vehicles Lewis Hamilton drives when he's not racing

    This is 33-year-old Lewis Hamilton, the biggest name in motor sports. Hamilton is a five-time Formula 1 world champion and holds a number of records in the game including most amount of pole positions (83), 41 fastest laps, and most career points in the history of F1 (3,018).

    Source: Getty Images.



    Like a lot of people, Hamilton enjoys breakfast. Here, he sits down to set up a day of skiing. But Hamilton strictly follows a plant-based diet, so that means he cannot eat breakfast items like pastries that might be made with dairy butter.

    Source: Getty Images.



    Hamilton has said he regularly eats porridge for breakfast. Porridge, as Business Insider has previously reported, is a staple menu item for many Formula 1 drivers, but every now and then Hamilton has something more adventurous, like beans on toast.

    Source: BBC and Business Insider.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    eighth grade A24

    • These are the directors whose movies we'll be falling in love with for years to come.
    • They include the likes of Steven Caple Jr. ("Creed II"), Bo Burnham ("Eighth Grade"), and Desiree Akhavan ("The Miseducation of Cameron Post").

     

    2018 has been a great year at the box office, and it has also showcased the talents of many filmmakers who are on the cusp of major fame.

    In some cases, like that of Bo Burnham (the indie hit “Eighth Grade”) and Steven Caple Jr. (box office champ “Creed II”), we got a glimpse of talents who were just figuring out their craft. With others, like Desiree Akhavan (“The Miseducation of Cameron Post”) and Brady Corbet (“Vox Lux”), 2018 showed us that artists known for their work in front of the camera were just as talented behind it.

    Here we look at 14 directors who you should keep an eye out for in 2019 and beyond:

    SEE ALSO: 22 movies coming to theaters before 2018 ends that you need to see this holiday season

    Desiree Akhavan (“The Miseducation of Cameron Post”)

    Since she built a fan base through her 2011 web series, “The Slope,” Akhavan’s profile has only grown as she’s told some of the most original stories about sexuality and relationships of anyone working today. Her 2014 feature debut, “Appropriate Behaviour,” also starred Akhavan as a Persian bisexual Brooklynite just trying to fit in. And in this year’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which won the grand jury prize at Sundance in January, Akhavan casts Chloë Grace Moretz in the incredible role of a teenage girl forced to go to gay conversion therapy. Akhavan is currently starring in the British series she created, “The Bisexual” (which you can see on Hulu).



    Julius Avery (“Overlord”)

    With just two features under his best, this Austrian writer-director has quickly gotten on the radar of some of the biggest players in Hollywood. J. J. Abrams produced his latest movie, “Overlord,” which has become a hit with critics and is destined to be a horror cult classic as it follows US soldiers behind enemy lines before D-Day who uncover secret Nazi experiments. And off of that success, Avery has now been pegged to direct a Flash Gordon movie for Fox.



    Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Captain Marvel”)

    Though this duo are known in the indie world with such favorites as “Half Nelson,” “Sugar,” and “Mississippi Grind” under their belts, next year they hit the mainstream with “Captain Marvel.” Marking the first movie in the MCU with a female as the lead, Boden and Fleck’s grounded quality will be a nice mix to the action and explosions we have come to expect from a Marvel movie.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    nyu graduation

    • With the cost of college at an all-time high, it's important to take into consideration what's being offered in a financial aid package.
    • The Princeton Review ranked the top 20 colleges that offer the least amount of financial aid based on student responses. 
    • More than half of the schools are located in the northeast.

    The cost of an undergraduate degree is at an all-time high.

    More than 44 milion Americans are saddled with student loan debt, contributing to a national total of $1.5 trillion, according to Student Loan Hero. And the average student debt per graduate who took out loans is higher than ever, at $17,126, Business Insider reported in November.

    With those facts in mind, there's a lot to consider when it comes to selecting a college's financial aid package — some just aren't as robust as others.

    The Princeton Review ranked the top 20 colleges that don't offer the greatest financial aid packages, according to students. It determined this ranking based on students' answers to the question: "If you receive financial aid, how satisfied are you with your financial aid package?"

    Thirteen of the schools are located in the northeast — nine of which make the top ten.

    Below, see which schools offer the least financial aid, from the University of Massachusetts to New York University.

    SEE ALSO: The 25 US colleges that give the most financial aid, ranked

    DON'T MISS: College is more expensive than it's ever been, and the 5 reasons why suggest it's only going to get worse

    20. University of Massachusetts-Amherst

    Annual tuition and fees: $34,570 (out-of-state); $15,887 (in-state)

    Average loan debt per graduate: $31,860

     



    19. University of Arizona

    Annual tuition and fees: $32,449 (out-of-state); $11,644 (in-state)

    Average loan debt per graduate: $23,956



    18. University of New Hampshire

    Annual tuition and fees: $33,879 (out-of-state); $18,499 (in-state)

    Average loan debt per graduate: $33,013



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ford Raptor

    • The Ford F-Seriestruck is the best selling vehicle in the US and has been for the past 36 years. 
    • In 2017, Ford sold an astonishing 896,764 F-Series trucks, an all-time single-year record.
    • Through October, Ford has sold 749,456 of the trucks and is on pace to break last year's record.
    • Here's a look at the 70-year history of the Ford F-Series. 

    In 2017, Ford sold an astonishing 896,764 F-Series trucks in the US. An all-time, single-year high for a model that has a history of setting records. 

    That makes F-Series the best-selling vehicle in America in 2017. Just like it did the year before. And the year before that. And 33 years before that.

    In total, the F-Series has been America's best selling truck for 41 consecutive years and its best-selling vehicle overall for the past 36 years. 

    And the F-Series is well on its way to taking the top spot once again in 2018. Through October, Ford has sold 749,456 of the trucks and is ahead of last year's pace. 

    Read more: 15 cars that changed the world.

    To give some background: Ford unveiled the original F1 pick up on January 16, 1948. Since then, the F-Series has been Ford's biggest success and most important product, even more so than the iconic Mustang. Since 1977, Ford has sold more than 26 million F-Series trucks in the US. 

    In the 21st century, Ford sells a pickup for every single minute of the day. In 2017, that number was more than a truck and a half per minute, Autoweek reported.

    Besting its rivals the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and the RAM line up of trucks. Japanese offerings such as the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan can't even come close to the F-Series. 

    Let's take a look at the 70-year-long run of the best-selling car in American history: the Ford F-Series.

    William Fierman contributed to this story

    SEE ALSO: 23 hot cars we can't wait to see at the 2018 LA Auto Show

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

    The 13th and the current generation of the F-Series debuted in 2015.



    Here's the 2019 F-150.



    Buyers can choose from a whole range of models from the utilitarian XL to more plush models like the King Ranch, Platinum, and Lariat. All the way up to the luxuriously appointed F-150 Limited.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Taco Bell opening Hammersmith, London

    • Taco Bell has just launched its first London restaurant.
    • There are now 92 branches of the Tex-Mex chain across seven countries in Europe.
    • The American fast food chain is different to its European counterparts in various ways, especially when it comes to the menu and interior design.

    Tex-Mex chain Taco Bell has just opened its first location in London. 

    It's not the first branch of the American fast food favorite to open in the UK — there 27 locations across the country — but it's safe to say its arrival in the capital is long overdue in the eyes of many American ex-pats and Brits who have fallen in love with the chain.

    The first London branch opened in Hammersmith (west London) last week, with three more set to open over the next three weeks in Holborn (November 30), Croydon, and Fulham (both early 2019).

    Read more: I'm a Brit who just tried Taco Bell for the first time, and these 7 things surprised me

    There are currently more than 440 Taco Bell restaurants across 27 markets outside of the United States, 92 of which are in seven European countries (the UK, Finland, Iceland, Cyprus, Spain, the Netherlands, and Romania).

    However, aficionados of the American chain may be in for a few surprises upon visiting a European branch.

    "Going global means that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t always work," a spokesperson for Taco Bell told INSIDER. "There are regional differences and dietary preferences to take into consideration. So we want to give local markets freedom to innovate and tailor the menu to fit their culture.

    "It's important to us that our menus reflect local tastes, as we expand across the globe. Our menu is constantly evolving and bringing fans back to try new, imaginative dishes, so naturally, we're bringing this same spirit of innovation to other countries."

    We visited the new London location to see how it measures up.

    Here are the main differences between Taco Bell in Europe compared to the US.

    The interior design is more modern in cities like London.

    Branches of Taco Bell across the US have different feels — some are inspired by the farm-to-table movement, others by "timeless design married with cutting edge urban sensibility."

    There's also variation in the European branches, but most are more similar in style to the newer American Taco Bells than the older traditional ones. 

    "The Glasgow restaurant features the exposed blocks of the original building, whilst the Brighton restaurant welcomes natural light through the buildings iconic skylight,"the brand says

    The Taco Bell spokesperson said the urban restaurant locations like London are often smaller, with "more modern designs geared for highly foot-trafficked areas."

    "Fans can expect to see local artwork in the restaurants, open kitchen concepts, complimentary WiFi, outlets for charging devices and décor that invites guests to stay and socialize over their meal."



    On first glance, the menu in London looks pretty similar to the US.

    Quesadillas, burritos, and of course tacos are all on offer.



    There are differences though: notably, European restaurants have pork on the menu.

    In the US, the menu features beef, chicken, shredded chicken, steak, beans, and black beans — but no pork. 

    In Europe, however, slow cooked pulled pork is a permanent feature on the menu. 

    According to Katie Taylor, Marketing Director of Taco Bell Europe, this is because there's "different consumer demand."

    "In the US, it doesn't make sense," she explained to INSIDER. "It's about optimisation. There isn't the same demand for pork in the States."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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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.

    best gingerbread house kits

    • People have been constructing gingerbread houses for hundreds of years.

    • Make this classic holiday decoration an enjoyable part of your family's tradition by using a great kit like our top pick, the Wilton Petite Gingerbread House Kit.

    • It comes with everything you need to build a festive little candy cottage that will look and taste great.

    The history of gingerbread stretches back thousands of years, with verifiable accounts of ginger-flavored cakes dating back to Ancient Rome. Ginger made its way to the western world as crusaders returned from their campaigns to the Middle East in the late 11th Century and throughout the 12th and early 13th Centuries. The sweet, spicy root added flavor and preservative qualities to foods and was soon a prized staple used in myriad foodstuffs.

    Gingerbread houses, too, have a long history. Bakers were making stylized edible houses not unlike those known in the modern era as far back as the early 1800s. Figurines made from gingerbread arrived as much as 500 years before that. Medieval bakers mastered various types of gingerbread shaping, and even in centuries past, this tasty bread was often associated with the Christmas holiday.

    In my family, the making of gingerbread houses has a relatively long history, too, though one often fraught with woe. For every great-looking gingerbread house made in my home, there have been two that ended up collapsed and consumed before ever taking shape. See, while my wife tends to take her time carefully constructing a solid base house and allowing the icing to dry and such before she starts decorating, I traditionally rushed through the construction part, eager to get to the decorations. This usually results in a house that is structurally unsound and prone to catastrophic failure.

    Our young son has also yet to master the patient art of proper gingerbread house architecture, and his also often break apart. But that's really not the worst thing ever, as a fallen gingerbread house is nothing more than candy and cookies.

    If you and your family (or you and your friends or coworkers or your cats) want to make a great gingerbread house this holiday season, I can't help you be a meticulous, cautious builder, but I can recommend a few great gingerbread kits that will at least give you the materials and some of the tools needed to create a charming candy cottage. What you do with the stuff is up to you. And for the record, eating it is a fine option, especially after the roof caves in for the second time.

    Here are the best gingerbread house kits you can buy:

    Updated on 11/27/2018 by Steven John: Added three new kits and updated prices and formatting.

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

    The best gingerbread house kit overall

    Why you'll love it: The Wilton Petite Gingerbread House Kit is a compact classic that's easy to make, looks lovely, and tastes great, too.

    The larger the gingerbread house, the harder it is to make. And that's not because larger gingerbread houses require more decorations than their smaller counterparts, but rather because larger sheets of gingerbread tend to crack quite easily. If you and the kids want to build an edible holiday decoration that won't break apart during the construction phase, then smaller is always better.

    And while the finished house you'll get from the Wilton Petite Gingerbread House Kit lives up to the adjective in its name, it's such a lovely little structure that you won't mind the diminutive size a bit. Besides, at 5.25 inches wide, 5.75 inches deep, and 4.5 inches tall, this tasty holiday house is the perfect size to serve as a centerpiece on the dining room table, to perch on a deep windowsill, or to rest on a countertop or shelf, adding charm and cheer and without taking up too much room.

    The kit comes with colorful gumballs, gumdrops, hard candies, colored fondant, icing, and more, including, of course, panels of sweet and spicy gingerbread. Building the house shouldn't take more than a half hour and kids and adults alike can have a hand in the process.

    The Wilton Petite Gingerbread House Kit scores a four out of five-star average rating on Amazon. One customer named Dana called it a sturdy "fun family Christmas project," while a customer named Joyce admitted that she and her family "had a blast building it" and then they "ate it."

    A video reviewer with Disney Toy Wishes demonstrated the ease of building a Wilton gingerbread house using just the materials included in her kit, and the result was indeed lovely.

    Pros: Easy to build, solid and sturdy design, great selection of decorations

    Cons: Smaller than most other options

    Buy the Wilton Petite Gingerbread House Kit on Jet for $26.76



    The best low-cost gingerbread house kit

    Why you'll love it: The Candyland Gingerbread House Kit comes with everything you need to make a lovely and delicious little cookie house.

    You remember the beloved game Candyland from your childhood, right? Well, now you can relive the joys of moving a little game piece up that sweet, colorful road by building a Candyland-themed gingerbread house and then eating it!

    OK, to be honest, nothing about this gingerbread house kit has anything to do with Candyland other than the fact that it's marketed as such and that you can cut a few characters out of the box itself to use as "scene setters."

    But here's the thing: You're not buying this gingerbread house kit out of nostalgia for childhood game night, you're buying it because it costs less than fifteen bucks and comes with everything you need to create a lovely little holiday decoration that you can also, should you choose, consume.

    In the kit, you'll find four walls, a roof, a chimney, an icing packet, and four kinds of candy. And of you choose to cut out the Candy King, Candy Fairy, and the two kids on the back of the box, you can add them to the festive tableau, too. Just don't eat them — they're made of cardboard.

    A lady named Elizabeth who built a gingerbread house using the Candyland Gingerbread House Kit called the kit "perfect, cute, and cheap," though she did add that "there's nothing really Candyland about it."

    But hey, $14.99, right? And you're going to eat it eventually, anyway. Or throw it out, so you'll get over the lack of classic game resemblance.

    Pros: Low cost, multiple candies included, easy construction

    Cons: Bares little relation to stated theme

    Buy the Candyland Gingerbread House Kit at Bed Bath & Beyond for $14.99



    The best gingerbread kit for kids

    Why you'll love it: Building a gingerbread house is the hard part, and decorating it is the fun part, so skip the house and instead decorate cookies with the Wilton Gingerbread Cookie Kit.

    Let's be honest, while decorating gingerbread houses is lots of fun, building the base gingerbread house can be time-consuming, painstaking, and overall frustrating. And if you think sticking together those walls and the roof with icing well enough that the structure actually stands is tricky as an adult, just imagine a kid trying to do it!

    So skip the house building but don't skip the holiday gingerbread decoration by using the Wilton Gingerbread Cookie Kit. It comes with eight pre-baked and ready to decorate (and/or eat...) gingerbread cookies in classic "gingerbread man" shape and includes green and white ready-to-use icing, red fondant, and multiple kinds of candies in classic Christmas colors. Kids can be as detailed or as basic as they'd like with the decorating, and there's no worry about a roof cave in or wall collapse.

    Oh, and by the way, Wilton also throws in an extra bag of multicolored jawbreaker candies, so use those on the cookies or just eat 'em.

    An Amazon reviewer named Barbara raved about the Wilton Gingerbread Cookies Kit, calling it a "great item and price" and saying they were "easy to do," as well. However another shopper reported that many of the cookies in three kits she ordered arrived broken, so order with enough time to request replacements and/or be ready to do some surgical repair work using medical grade icing.

    Pros: Very easy project, comes with multiple icing colors, extra candy bag included

    Cons: Rather expensive, some cookies may arrive damaged

    Buy the Wilton Gingerbread Cookie Kit on Amazon for $25.46



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    Christmas Tree vendors, new york city

    • Christmas tree vendors always pop up around New York City after Thanksgiving.
    • The Gilmartins are an Alaskan family who spend the holidays selling evergreens in Manhattan, and have for 21 years.
    • They sleep in a camper and shower at a nearby hostel, taking 12-hour shifts to sell trees around the clock.

    'Tis the season in New York City, which means miniature evergreen forests have sprouted up every few blocks. The Christmas tree-sellers have come to town.

    Despite a coniferous tree shortage, vendors have come from all around North America to make some extra cash and brave the crowds and the cold. Newsday reported the market is open to practically anyone — you don't need a license to sell Christmas trees on the city sidewalks.

    Business Insider spoke with the Gilmartins, an Alaskan family running a stand on 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue.

    Back in 2015, AP reported they sell about 500 trees a season, earning around $14 an hour.

    Married couple Tom and Michele have sold trees in Manhattan for 21 years, and their son Rory has accompanied them on the journey since he was a baby.

    "What an adventure, right?" Tom told Business Insider. "We feel like we're part of this place, for sure."

    This story was originally published in December 2017.

    SEE ALSO: What the biggest 'War on Christmas' controversy gets wrong about history

    The couple hails from Nikiski, Alaska. Both work in the commercial fishing industry. Tom caught the Christmas tree bug from his sister, who sold trees in Manhattan for 30 years.



    Tom said there was a lull in business at the fisheries at the time. "There was nothing to do," Tom said. The couple had a rough time during their first year, but they just kept coming back and got used to the work.



    When Rory was little, Michele would carry him on her back or put him in a baby swing attached to the stand. He grew up playing in the stacks of trees — climbing up on the pile or crawling between the rows.



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    Tim Cook sad unhappy

    • Apple stock is on pace to have its worst month since 2008, dropping 21% and wiping out over $200 billion in value.
    • In fact, Apple lost its crown as the most valuable US company to Microsoft this week.
    • Here's why investors have been so negative on Apple lately.

    Apple stock is having a terrible month.

    Though it's still up by just under 3% on the year, it's been deeply slumping in November, having fallen by 21% in the month at a cost of over $200 billion in market value. On November 1, Apple announced it would no longer reveal how many iPhones it sold in a given quarter, leading analysts to speculate that the company expected unit sales to start trending downward.

    That has been a big contributor to the rout. In fact, Apple has now lost its crown as the most valuable US company — to Microsoft! The company that was once the first $1 trillion publicly traded company is now not even the most valuable US company.

    When markets opened Wednesday morning, Apple's market cap was at $833 billion. Microsoft's was slightly higher at $838 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

    Ultimately, it's all shaping up to be Apple's worst month since 2008, during the financial crisis.

    There are a lot of reasons Apple is in a slump. Let's break them down:

    SEE ALSO: The last time Microsoft was more valuable than Apple, the Zune was still taking on the iPod

    1. The global smartphone market is slumping and shrinking, with only a slight glimmer of hope in the future. Apple, which makes 61% of its revenue selling iPhones, is not exempt.

    "According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 355.2 million units during the third quarter of 2018, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 6.0%. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the global smartphone market, which raises questions about the market's future. IDC maintains its view that the market will return to growth in 2019, but at this stage it is too early to tell what that growth will look like."—International Data Corporation



    2. But a lot of signs also point to slower demand for Apple's iPhones specifically, especially the new midrange iPhone XR, which costs $750. Several Apple suppliers that make parts for that device have slashed their forecasts in recent weeks.

    "October sales for AAPL's Taiwanese suppliers were better than seasonal given the delayed iPhone XR release. We expect a sharp reversal in this dynamic, with spot checks late last week highlighting 20-30% iPhone order cuts related principally to the iPhone XR and XS Max, that 20-25% order increases for the 8/8 Plus and older iPhone models will only partially offset,"the Longbow analyst Shawn Harrison wrote in a November 12 note. 

    "Some preliminary checks confirm Lumentum's commentary this morning regarding very recent iPhone order cuts, which supports cautious commentary from Skyworks last week. In our very preliminary checks, we're hearing of 20% order cuts for the XR, as well as ~5% cuts to XS and XS Max build plans,"the Raymond James analyst Chris Caso wrote in a November 12 note. 

    "This morning Apple supplier Lumentum updated much weaker guidance for the next quarter just 10 days after guiding to a higher revenue expectation. The company noted the following 'We recently received a request from one of our largest Industrial and Consumer customers for laser diodes for 3D sensing to materially reduce shipments to them during our fiscal second quarter for previously placed orders that were originally scheduled for delivery during the quarter,'"the Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote on November 12. 



    3. There are also major concerns about emerging-market economies, where consumer confidence may be waning. A strong dollar isn't helping.

    "In addition to weakness in demand for Apple's products in China and other emerging markets it also looks like the balance of price and features in the iPhone XR may not have been well-received by users outside of the US,"the Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall wrote in a November 19 note.

    "China could be driving incremental weakness. On the FQ1'19 call, Apple indicated macro and foreign exchange driven consumer weakness in emerging markets such as Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and India," Hall wrote on November 12.

    "Ultimately, we believe Apple continues to face FX headwinds given ongoing USD appreciation against key global currencies. In China, given USD/CNY, the supply chain suggests many consumers are opting for high-end models w/similar specs from local competitors rather than the XR,"the UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri wrote on November 14.



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    Best Snow blowers

    • High-quality snow blowers make quick work of clearing snow, require minimal muscle, and serve you through many winters.
    • The Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE Gas Snow Blower is our top pick because it uses a self-propel system to match your pace, handles all varieties of snow, and has a joystick that makes adjusting the chute effortless.

    Shoveling is great exercise. When the snow starts, I always intend to shovel my way out of each snowfall to stay fit. But after the first few snowstorms, my intermittent back pain pays a visit, and I give in to the calls of the snow blower.

    When buying a snow blower, you should first consider where you want the power to come from. There are three main sources: gas, corded electric, and cordless electric or battery. Gas snow blowers are the most popular, most powerful, and most expensive option. They also typically need more maintenance than the other power options.

    Corded electric blowers are generally the least expensive and don’t rely on fossil fuels, but you have to mind the cord as you work, and it’s not recommended for longer driveways due to the inherent cord-length limitations. Battery power avoids the cord problem, but batteries only last for so long before they need to be recharged. You can buy extra batteries so that you have enough to complete your job, but they are usually quite expensive.

    Snow blowers are either single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage. A single-stage snow blower has an auger that moves very fast and sends the snow flying out of the chute in one step. Two-stage blowers have augers that feed the snow into the chute where a propeller throws the snow. Three-stage devices have augers that feed the snow into the center where it is chopped up and fed into the propeller. Snow blowers with multiple stages tend to cost more, but they can also handle heavier duty jobs and throw the snow further.

    While researching the best snow blowers, we combed through hundreds of buyer and expert ratings and reviews of dozens of models. Our guide features throwers that have a track record of performance, durability, and are fun to use.

    Here are the best snow blowers you can buy:

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

    The best snow blower overall

    Why you’ll love it: If you want to remove snow from flat, paved surfaces as quickly and effortlessly as possible, the Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE Gas Snow Blower is the best.

    There are a few features that make the Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE Gas Snow Blower(model #36002) stand out. First, it’s not a traditional single- or two-stage blower. It’s more of a hybrid.

    It has a single helical auger that moves 10 times faster than your usual two-stage blower. This sends the snow up to 40 feet away. The Personal Pace self-propel system moves the snow blower at your walking speed. And, a joystick allows you to adjust the chute direction and angle. The clearing width is 24 inches and the snow cut depth is 16 inches.

    Toro sent me this snow blower to test. Unfortunately, my town hasn’t been hit with a significant snowfall yet, so I haven’t had a chance to test it out. However, I can comment on the shipment and assembly process. The blower was delivered on a pallet by a semi-truck. The instructions for setting it up were pretty simple, and I had it up and running within half an hour of cutting into the box. Stay tuned for my full review once Michigan gets a few snowstorms.

    The Toro SnowMaster 724 is The Wirecutter’s top pick. The reviewer found that it was the fastest snow blower he had ever used. It beat out several larger and more expensive models. He also noted that the joystick chute adjustment was smooth, and the Personal Pace drive system worked as advertised. However, he mentioned that it did have some hiccups on steep inclines and uneven surfaces.

    Moving Snow recommends the snow blower for people with paved driveways up to two cars wide and 150-feet long that live in areas with regular light snows and the occasional heavy snow. The reviewer notes that the snow blower handles heavy, wet snow well and can take on deep snow piles. Busted Wallet, SnowBlower, and Snow Blower Guides also recommend this model.

    More than 86% of the people who reviewed the Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE on the Home Depot website gave it four or five stars. The most common comments revolve around how easy to use the unit is and how it has a good size and weight.

    Buyers found that the light weight and Personal Pace function made the snow blower easy to maneuver. One owner raced his neighbor who had a comparable driveway and a two-stage Ariens snow blower. The SnowMaster completed the job in half the time.

    Pros: Moves at your pace, fast, handles wet snow well, three-year limited warranty

    Cons: May have trouble with uneven surfaces

    Buy the Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE Gas Snow Blower from Home Depot for $749



    The best two-stage snow blower

    Why you’ll love it: The Cub Cadet 2X 26-inch HP Gas Snow Blower is your ideal pick if you want a unit that is easy to handle and throws snow far from your driveway.

    There are two features that set the Cub Cadet 2X 26-inch HP Gas Snow Blowerapart from the competition. First, it has dual LED headlights, which is important since the only opportunity many of us have to clear snow is when it’s dark outside. It also has zero-turn, posi-steer power steering that allows you to turn the blower around with just one hand.

    There’s a 26-inch clearing width and 21-inch intake height. Another cool spec is the 16- by 4.8-inch tires, which provide solid traction. Cub Cadet backs the 2X 26 HP with a three-year limited warranty for residential use.

    Consumers Reports recommends the Cub Cadet Snow Blower and gives it top ratings for the controls, handling, plow pile removal, and owner satisfaction. The only metric it didn’t score better than fair on in the tests was noise.

    Moving Snow recommends this model for people with a two-car driveway that’s 100 feet long and is in an area that gets up to 60 inches of snow a season. The reviewer liked the two headlights, smooth chute controls, and how much traction the tall tires afforded.

    About 82% of the buyers who reviewed the Cub Cadet Snow Blower on the Home Depot website recommended it. Several of the buyers commented on how helpful the power steering and ease of handling are. Another commonly mentioned benefit is how far the machine throws the snow. It easily clears double-wide driveways, and the steel chute adjusts effortlessly.

    For the most part, buyers have found unpackaging and assembly to be simple, but the instructions cover four different models so be careful to choose correctly.

    Pros: Power steering, good snow throwing range, headlights, smooth chute adjustment

    Cons: Expensive

    Buy the Cub Cadet 2X 26-inch HP Gas Snow Blower from Home Depot for $899.99



    The best single-stage snow blower

    Why you’ll love it: The Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Blower makes quick work of small paved driveways and city sidewalks.

    At 87 pounds, the Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Bloweris incredibly light for a gas-powered snow blower. This, along with the Power Propel self-propel system, make this single-stage unit easy to move around.

    Another cool feature is the Toro “Guaranteed to Start” warranty, which states that the blower will start on the first or second pull every time in the first two years. If not, the company will fix it for free. The hard-plastic body has a 21-inch width, and the tough plastic auger makes constant contact with the surface for efficient clearing.

    The Wirecutter recommends the Toro Power Clear 721 E for smaller properties that get less snow. The reviewer liked that the snow blower is light and compact enough to move around like a mower. However, he points out that single-stage blowers are not ideal for gravel or grass since they can pick up and throw stones. Also, this blower has trouble with more than six inches of snow.

    Consumer Reports didn’t review the 721 E, but the site did review the 721 QZE, which is virtually identical except it costs $160 more than the E and has a chute control on the handlebar. The Power Clear receives top scores for the controls, handling, surface cleaning, plow pile removal, and owner satisfaction. Consumer Reports recommends it and gives it the highest rating of any single-stage gas snow blower.

    Approximately 69% of the people who reviewed the Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Blower on the Home Depot website gave it five stars. The most common positives associated with this machine are that it’s self-propelled, lightweight, has a good size and weight, and it’s easy to use.

    The most helpful reviewer appreciated how well the 721 E handled an early-season slushy snowfall with ease, and as a smaller person, he liked that he just guided the unit rather than pushing it.

    Another buyer had his Power Clear break down after a single use, but Toro arranged to have it repaired for free, and it worked great after that.

    Pros: Compact, lightweight, easy to maneuver, self-propelled, two-year full “Guaranteed to Start” warranty

    Cons: Not meant for heavy snowfalls, manual chute adjustment

    Buy the Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Blower from Home Depot for $569



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    eXp speedboat (end)

    If you've ever wondered what the next phase of working remotely could be like, look no further than eXp Realty. 

    In most respects, eXp is your typical real estate brokerage company. It employs thousands of licensed agents to help clients buy and sell their homes. And business seems to be good: eXp's stock price has almost quadrupled since this time last year, giving it a market cap of over $610 million.

    What sets it apart is that, rather than having agents stop by a physical office for meetings, presentations, or technical assistance, the company's 13,000 agents and 200 staff employees go to work on a virtual island. A small office in Bellingham, WA serves as its headquarters because of "a legal requirement," the company says, but the real work gets done in the digital realm.

    The company says that maintaining a virtual office, which gets about 8,000 unique visitors a month, gives it some advantages.

    "We found that we have an ability that's hard to find in the physical world," said CTO Scott Petronis, referring to the ease of internal communication. 

    Not only can employees report to work regardless of the weather, but there are no restrictions on how many employees the offices can support, no campus maintenance fees, and no geographical limits on recruiting talent.

    "It's a great feeling to know that we can hire great talent regardless of where they are in the world," said Petronis.

    I got to go on a tour of eXp's virtual offices, alongside Petronis and VP of Marketing Mitch Robinson. I sat at an introductory meeting, toured shared spaces, went to a beach, rode a speedboat, and got to meet some of eXp's employees, all without leaving my seat. 

    Here's what it's like to work out of a virtual campus:

     

     

    When I first signed on, I saw this man staring back at me. It took me a minute to realize that I was supposed to customize this guy to look like me.

    I used the app from my desktop PC, but there's a mobile app, too. The mobile app comes with some limitations: You can only hear audio, not see the virtual world. It's really meant for taking conference calls in a pinch.



    There aren't too many options to play with, but I was able to adjust my hair color, skin color, and face type. There were actually more options for clothes than personal appearance.

    A company Representative says that eXp is always trying to add new options, and recently did so with religious head wear and seasonal clothing. We're also told that some employees change their avatar's clothing every day, just like in the real world.

     



    Once I was ready, I found myself in an outdoor area of some sort, and I located my tour guides: eXp CTO Scott Petronis and VP of Marketing Mitch Robinson.

    The controls were easy to get used to — you can either click around to move, or else guide yourself with the arrow keys. When someone was talking, their speech bubble turned light blue to let you know it's them.



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    grocery shoppingAround the world, people shop for groceries a bit differently. And although habits vary, many shoppers put a lot of emphasis on choosing healthy, fresh foods, finding great deals, or buying particular foods from specialty shops.  

    Here are some great grocery shopping habits around the world that you might want to adapt.

    Try reducing food waste like some shoppers in the UK.

    According to a Waitrose report, shoppers in the UK are buying smaller amounts of food more frequently in an effort to reduce waste and save money by not buying more food than what's necessary. Some shoppers visit grocery stores multiple times per day. 



    Consider buying organic, sustainably-sourced foods like some shoppers in the Netherlands.

    According to a report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, more and more shoppers in the Netherlands prefer to buy organic food over conventional food

    The report also said many shoppers in the Netherlands seek out products that are sustainably sourced. 

     

     



    Shopping locally like many in Italy could score you fresher ingredients.

    Grocery shopping is considered a traditional activity in Italy. According to Italy magazine, many shoppers try to purchase their food from local grocers.

    Whether it is fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses or occasional treats like pastries or cakes, many Italian grocery stores try to offer locally-sourced foods. Because of this, food markets are also quite popular.

     



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    tombstone headstone grave

    If you've ever worried about what would befall your Gmail, photos, documents, YouTube videos, and other digital data in the event of a terrible accident or your own death, you're not alone. 

    It's a little dark to think about, but the good news is that Google has your back.

    The service offers a feature that will bequeath your Google account and all of its contents to up to 10 pre-selected trustees, and even let you set your account to self-delete after an extended period of inactivity. 

    Here's how to set it up:

    SEE ALSO: We compared 3 of the most popular note taking apps for iPhone — but the winner depends on what you want to do

    To get started, you'll want to make sure you're logged in to your Google account, and find your Account settings.

    Click on the tile menu, and "Account" should be the very first module in the drop-down window. 



    From your the landing page for your account settings, you'll want to click "Personal info and privacy."

    Google doesn't really advertise this feature, and bury it pretty deeply among the dozens of other account customizations, making it feel like the morbid needle in a settings haystack. 



    From here, you'll have to scroll almost all the way down the page, until you see the section titled "Assign an account Trustee." On the right side, you'll see an entry to the "Inactive Account Manager." Go ahead and click "CHANGE THIS SETTING" to set it up.

    This page doesn't include any mentions of the word "death" or establishing a virtual will of all your Google data, but trust me, that's what we're doing. 



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    best air fryer

    • The best air fryers can fry, grill, roast, and bake an array of foods in a short time. They are also durable, have an intuitive user interface, and a large capacity.

    • The Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer is our top pick thanks to its large capacity and built-in smart programs that make perfect cooking incredibly easy.

    According to Kitchen Weapon, Philips was the first to introduce the air fryer in 2010. Since then, dozens of brands have entered the market with their own version of this innovative appliance.

    Air fryers work using the Maillard reaction. In case you aren’t well-versed in early 20th-century chemistry, the Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids that give a distinctive flavor to browned foods. With traditional fryers, this is achieved by submerging the food in hot oil. On the other hand, air fryers achieve the same reaction by using a mechanical fan to circulate hot air at high speeds around the food. The result is fried foods that use up to 80% less oil. In fact, most recipes just call for a few squirts of spray oil.

    When shopping for an air fryer, there are a few features that differentiate them. Digital display air fryers are generally more expensive, but they are a must for precise cooking. Many models come with dishwasher-safe components that make cleanup simple. Also, pay special attention to the warranty information on the appliance you are considering, because many brands have had issues with the cooking drawer busting.

    Our guide to the top air fryers is based on thorough research into the ratings and experiences of countless experts and users. Based on our analysis, the following models meet the highest standards of reliability, functionality, and value.

    Here are the best air fryers you can buy:

    Updated on 11/28/2018 by Steven John: added new pcks to replace out-of-stock items. Updated pricing and formatting.

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

    SEE ALSO: The best deep fryers you can buy

    The best air fryer overall

    Why you'll love it: The Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer features multiple built-in smart programs that remove all the guesswork from the cooking process.

    Using most air fryers is easy. In fact, along with health benefits and food taste, ease of use is one of the major selling points of these popular appliances. But most air fryers still require a little guesswork, some careful clock watching, or both. Not so with the Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer.

    This exceptional cooker comes loaded with multiple smart programs that require no more than the tap of a few buttons to commence a perfect cooking session with the temperature and timing settings managed for you. You can use a built-in smart program to air fry up shrimp, fries, chicken, steak, and more. And its 5.6-quart capacity means plenty of perfectly cooked eats for the whole gang.

    Using the many accessories that come with your Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer, you can prepare everything from an eight-inch pizza to a fish fillet to a cake to veggie skewers. If you thought air fryers were relegated to making French fries and chicken fingers, this one is ready to change your mind.

    Be prepared to spend a little time learning how to use it, as the multi-button control panel and the aforementioned programs are not as intuitive as some of the easier controls of other units on our list, but one read-through of the instruction manual should have you covered. Plus, just look at those accessories.

    With hundreds of reviews logged on Amazon at the time of this review, the Yedi Housewares Deluxe Digital Air Fryer enjoys a sizzling 4.7-star overall rating. A five-star rating left by a user named Angela came with a review reading in part: "[The Yedi]cooks faster, better quality, and is much more well built than other" air fryers she had used in the past. Another led off simply saying: "Holy smokes!"

    The product testers from JustNewReleases called this air fryer "sleek and stylish" and said: "You’ll get your ingredients cooked very nicely" whether you use the included "three stainless steel skewers [and] multi-purpose rack, an 8-inch pizza pan, an 8-inch cake carrel," or any of the other accessories. — Steven John

    Pros: Large capacity, pre-programmed cooking options, well-made

    Cons: Learning curve prior to easy use, relatively pricey

    Buy the Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer on Amazon for $110



    The best air fryer on a budget

    Why you'll love it: The Dash Compact Air Fryer is charming, reliable, and it costs less than forty bucks, too.

    You don't buy an air fryer for its looks — you buy it for its cooks, so to speak. But that's no reason your air fryer can't look great, and with its retro styling and five different color options, the Dash Compact Air Fryer certainly looks great. But guess what? That's still not why you buy this one. It's the sub-$40 price that makes it a great buy.

    With that small price tag comes a small capacity cooking chamber, it must be noted. The Dash has a mere 1.2-liter (that's 1.27 quarts, for reference) cooking capacity, meaning it's not suitable for family meals. But for the couple or the individual, this low-cost air fryer is a fine choice indeed. And if space is at a premium in your kitchen, its overall small size will be a sure bonus.

    As for operation, the Dash Compact Air Fryer is one of the easiest to use on our list. It has a temperature dial, a timer, and ... that's it. As long as you make sure not to overload the rather small basket, you can count on evenly cooked fries, wings, rings, veggies, tofu, and much more.

    Do make sure to take the frying basket out and move the foods around midway through the cooking to ensure even "frying," and be aware that a few people have reported the handle coming loose, so be as gentle as you can.

    With nearly 400 reviews on Amazon, the Dash has a fine 4.1-star overall rating. Many people note its small price, but many note its quality of cooking, too. A lady named Tiffany called it a "great little air fryer" that's "perfect for cooking for one or two people." A gentleman named Dayle said it's "definitely a great item."

    Just don't try to save money by buying a unit that's too small for your family, because a 1.2-liter cooker fills up fast. — Steven John

    Pros: Great price, comes in several colors, easy to use

    Cons: Small capacity

    Buy Dash Compact Air Fryer on Amazon for about $40-$50 (prices vary by color)



    The best air fryer for large meals

    Why you'll love it: The Secura Air Fryer is cost-effective, has a large frying capacity, and does an excellent job of cooking evenly.

    Aside from the 4-liter/4.2-quart cooking capacity, the Secura Air Fryer is a fairly basic device. There are two dials for setting the temperature (up to 390 degrees) and time (up to 60 minutes). There are also heating and power indicator lights. The unit comes with a nonstick fryer basket, toaster rack, and skewer. 

    As with most gadgets, when there is a lack of features, such as digital settings, there are fewer parts that could potentially break down. Secura stands by the quality of this device with a two-year limited warranty.

    Corrie Cooks reviewed the Secura XL air fryer and gave it high marks for its durability, size, and functionality. However, the reviewer disliked that it didn’t have an LCD display and thought the 4-liter size didn’t warrant an “XL” distinction. BestSmokerz.com included the Secura XL on its list of the top ten air fryers because of the heavy-duty construction and large capacity. But, this unit lost points because the dial makes it hard to precisely set the timer.

    Around 93% of the reviews of the Secura Air Fryer on Amazon are positive. Reviewers were impressed with how this model is able to cook healthier French fries, reheat leftover fries to their original glory, make small pizzas, roast turkey breasts, toast bread, and more. One buyer pointed out that it can do everything an oven can do, but it’s easier and faster. One buyer mentioned they did have trouble making onion rings from scratch.

    Pros: Two-year warranty, durable, easy to use, relatively affordable

    Cons: Relies on dials instead of digital settings

    Buy the Secura 4 Liter, 4.2 Qt., Extra Large Capacity 1500 Watt Electric Hot Air Fryer on Amazon for $82 (originally $129.99)



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    Money

    • Money-saving tactics can often be unrealistic or forced.
    • There are easy ways to spend and save money every day, like removing stored credit card numbers, implementing a 48-rule of spending, and logging every expense.
    • Here are 12 unusual ways you can save money every day.

     

    While you may already be familiar with some money-saving tactics— such as bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it or getting fewer cups of coffee out — there are more creative ways to save money every day that you may not yet be doing.

    After all, when it comes to money matters, every cent does add up — literally.

    For instance, I used to fall into the buy-lunch-at-work trap. Even though I’d aim to only spend up to $10 per day in the work cafeteria or going out with friends, that number would often inch up.

    Once I added up how much I was spending per week, I realized that money was better off in savings or my emergency fund versus in overpriced lunches that I didn't even enjoy that much.

    Bank of America’s recent Better Money Habits Millennial Report found that 73% of millennials (ages 23-37) said their generation overspends on unnecessary indulgences. In addition, 35% of millennials reported not saving enough, while 17% said they spend more than they should.

    All that said, there are many under-the-radar ways to save more money each day. Below, experts weigh in:

    SEE ALSO: 6 things people who are good with money always splurge on

    1. Automate small amounts of money

    You may already pay your bills and add to your savings through automatic transfers, but once you start automating smaller amounts, they'll add up to bigger ones. For example, once I eliminated buying lunch at work and daily Starbucks runs, that was approximately $20 a day I was not spending, which meant an extra $100 per week toward my savings just from skipping frivolous lunches and coffees.

    "Automate weekly savings for small amounts you won’t miss, even as little as $10 or $20 per week," Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized consumer expert, told Business Insider. "These small amounts will build quickly over time and you will learn to live without those extra funds." 

    She also recommended putting the money toward an online savings account that offers a higher interest rate than savings account at traditional banks.



    2. Create a 48-hour rule and remove stored credit card numbers

    The speed and simplicity of online shopping make it easy to fall into the habit of impulse buying clothes and other items. "To prevent impulse purchases, wait 48 hours after identifying something you’d like to purchase," Chris Whitlow, CEO of workplace financial education company Edukate, told Business Insider. "This will separate your need spends from your want spends."

    Similarly, having your credit card numbers stored online may be efficient, but it’s also dangerous as far as spending money is concerned. "Removing this information can save you fromimpulse shopping, and allows you to cut back on the amount of money you spend," Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at finder.com, told Business Insider. "Plus, the more time you have to think about a purchase, the more likely you’ll make a better financial decision."



    3. Take public transportation or walk

    Yes, it may be convenient to drive, but is it cost-effective? "Stop driving your own car to work every day," Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of money-saving platform DontPayFull, told Business Insider.  

    "Instead, use public transportation, such as trains, buses, or shared vehicles, or try biking or walking for a few miles every day. This will extensively save your wallet and health at the same time." Plus, there are a lot of extraneous costs involved with owning a car, from insurance to parking fees.



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    CapeTown1

    • Photographer Roger Eberhard stayed in 32 different Hilton hotel rooms in 32 countries within the span of 365 days.
    • He photographed the views from his hotel windows, all of which look very different, and sequenced them with photos of each room, which looked remarkably identical.
    • The photo series compiled in his book "Standard" illustrates how, even when we travel, humans tend to gravitate toward standardization and crave certainty.

    Swiss photographer Roger Eberhard doesn't usually stay in hotels like the popular Hilton chain when he travels.

    But for his new project, "Standard," he switched things up a bit — by staying in 32 different Hilton rooms across 32 countries.

    In each of the 32 cities, he photographed his room from the exact same angle, as well as the view of the city from the hotel window.

    Business Insider spoke to Roger Eberhard about his series. 

    SEE ALSO: This photographer captured shots of New Yorkers on their way to work for 10 years — and it shows how repetitive a commute can be

    Roger Eberhard set out on his travels specifically for this project.



    Over the course of exactly 365 days, he stayed in 32 cities across 32 countries.



    In each city, he stayed in a Hilton hotel room and photographed both the room ...



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