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14,500-SF Main Line home with pre-Revolution roots, 1,000-bottle wine cellar lists for $3.75M

The home has six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, plus two additional private living spaces and a bank barn which dates back at least 200 years......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 14th, 2022

59 great gift ideas for your wife, whether it"s Mother"s Day or her birthday

We rounded up 59 gifts for your wife or partner they're sure to love, including options that are romantic, stylish, or just plain fun. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Tommy John; Uncommon GoodsPutting extra care into picking out thoughtful gifts for your wife shows her just how special she is and how much you appreciate all she does. While nothing can top showing your gratitude with patience, support, and love, gifts can enhance our gratitude towards our partners.Whether you're looking for a Mother's Day, anniversary, birthday, or just an "I love you" gift, we have a wide range of ideas for your wife she's sure to love, ranging from romantic gift ideas to unique and personalized options. Browse all of the best gifts for your wife below, or jump to a specific gift category here:Romantic gifts for your wifeSentimental gifts for your wifeUnique and personalized gifts for your wifeFood and drink gifts for your wifeSelf-care gifts for your wifeStylish gifts for your wifeLuxury gifts for your wifeHere are 59 of the best gifts for your wife:This list includes Sponsored Products that have been suggested by Function of Beauty. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*Romantic gifts for your wifeA fresh bouquet of flowersUrbanStemsUrbanStems flowers, starting at $46, available at UrbanStemsUrbanStems is the best flower delivery service we've tested for its high-quality, vibrant flowers and quick delivery. If your wife hates the upkeep of fresh flowers, you can also get a dried bouquet that'll last a lot longer.A custom portrait of you twoUncommon GoodsLove Is In The Air Custom Portrait, starting from $85, available at Uncommon GoodsCommission this cute, cartoony portrait of you both floating away with heart-shaped balloons. All you have to do is pick the physical attributes that fit you both, and the artist will create an illustration that captures those lovey-dovey feelings.A card game to bring you closerUncommon GoodsIntimacy Card Deck, $25, available at Uncommon GoodsThese cards offer sweet prompts to bring you closer, like "Describe our first kiss" and "What's something you thought when we first met that you no longer believe is true?" An enchanting candleDiptyque FacebookDiptyque Baies Small Candle, $38, available at DiptyqueA scent from Diptyque is a classic gift — and for good reason. The aromas are unique, without being overpowering. This tangy scent with flowery accents is just right for an everyday smell that's still romantic. You can also find more of our favorite candle brands here. A modern twist on love lettersUncommon Goods/InsiderHow Do I Love Thee From A-Z, $22, available at Uncommon GoodsFill in the blanks about why you love your spouse. This little book holds 26 prompts, from A to Z, that let you express why you love and appreciate her. It's all bound together as a small book that she can have as a thoughtful keepsake forever.Sentimental gifts for your wifeA sentimental mapGrafomapGrafomap Custom Map, from $34.30, available at GrafomapMake her a totally custom map of one of her favorite places. Pick your location, then get to customizing. Grafomap lets you choose your own colors, write your own labels, and zoom in or out for a map that is 100% unique. A collection of your best memoriesSnapfish/InsiderSnapfish Photo Book, from $12.99, available at SnapfishEven though it has become so easy to scroll through old photos with your phone on Facebook and Instagram, there is something special about a tangible photo book that you can look at. These are nice to leave around the house, flip through every now and then, and be reminded of the memories that fill the pages. A thoughtful piece of home decorUncommon GoodsHand Embroidered State Pillows, $225, available at Uncommon GoodsGive her some state pride with one of these beautiful pillows hand embroidered with each state's cities, towns, famous sites, cultural icons, and more. Pick a state that means something to her like where she was born, went to college, or where you met. These vibrant pillows are so unique; they'll look great in your home and are definite conversation starters.A portable printerAmazonHP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $79.99, available on Amazon and Bloomingdale'sIf your wife is always documenting moments on her smartphone, she'll love having the opportunity to turn all of those memories into real prints. All she has to do is connect her phone to the printer with Bluetooth, then quickly print her favorites into physical prints she can hang up or frame. Pick out a favorite photo of the two of you to get her started and add an extra special touch.A nostalgic trip down memory laneUncommon Goods/InsiderCreate Your Own Reel Viewer, from $14.95, available at Uncommon GoodsDive headfirst into some nostalgia with a reel viewer like the ones you had as a child. Customize the reel with pictures of your favorite memories. It's a really fun way to reminisce about the past and is sure to get you and your spouse feeling sentimental.A DNA kit to connect with her family rootsAmazonAncestry DNA Kit, from $79, available at Ancestry.comGive your wife the meaningful gift of learning more about her roots and family history with an Ancestry DNA Kit. She'll be able to discover her own DNA story with a few easy steps and get results in 6-8 weeks.Unique gifts for your wifeCustomizable haircareFunction of BeautyCustom Shampoo and Conditioner gift card, available at Function of Beauty, from $50Function of Beauty revolutionizes haircare by creating a custom line of shampoo and conditioner that's based on hair type and goals. With a gift card, they can choose the formula's color and fragrance as well as add personalized details like their name on the bottle. If they choose to subscribe, their first bottle will be 30% off with free shipping included.Read our full review of Function of Beauty here.*Sponsored by Function of BeautyA pottery starter kitSculpdSculpd Pottery Starter Bundle, $89, available from SculpdIf your wife enjoys getting crafty, this starter kit just might help her discover a new pottery passion. Every kit comes with 2 kilograms of air-dry clay, which is enough to make two different pieces. She can choose from projects like planters, ring dishes, vases, and more.A wearable blanketAmazonThe Comfy Oversized Microfiber & Sherpa Wearable Blanket, $44.99, available on AmazonShe'll never be cold again thanks to this super cozy wearable blanket. Perfect for lounging around the house or cuddling up at night, it comes in numerous color and pattern options to suit her tastes.An eye-catching print of her favorite cityUncommon GoodsCity Prints by Carolyn Gavin, from $40, available at Uncommon GoodsThese sentimental yet meticulously crafted prints highlight 10 major cities that your wife may hold dear to her heart. Each print is a bit different than the next, but they all share the depiction of her city's most notable landmarks. A cute, custom gift boxGreeatbl/InsiderGreetabl Gift Box, starting at $15, available at GreetablGreetabl is the spot for times when you want to give those "just because" kind of gifts. The box also functions as the greeting card, to which you can add your own personal photos. You can pick two small gifts from a group of curated items like Sugarfina gummies or sweet-smelling soap. It's a small gift with the opportunity to add a lot of personal touches.A curated box of surprisesBreoboxbrēō box One-Time Gift Purchase, from $159, available at brēō boxBrēō box is a service that makes curated boxes full of unique and actually useful items. The contents of the box are always different, centering around everyday essentials, fitness, health, and tech items — all of which are always seasonal.If they love the first box, you can even gift them a subscription. Food and drinks gifts for your wifeA fill-in recipe journalPapierBon Appétit Recipe Journal, $32.99, available at PapierWhether it's a family recipe or new dishes to try out, this recipe journal stores every one of her delicious dishes and favorite restaurants. Stash every breakfast, lunch, dinner, or treat recipe in one place with this thoughtful gift for your wife.A tasty cake for special occasionsMilk Bar/Alyssa Powell/InsiderMilk Bar cakes, from $58, available at Milk BarCongratulate her on her special day or huge achievement with a delicious Milk Bar cake. A sweet Milk Bar cake that tastes irresistible will make her fall in love with you all over again. These cakes made our list of the All-Time Best products we tested.Coffee from around the worldUncommon GoodsWorld Explorer's Coffee Sampler, from $33, available at DriftawayAt the intersection of globetrotter and coffee connoisseur is this sample set. This box contains five unique coffees sourced from around the world, which vary depending on the season and other conditions. It's a great gift that'll make morning coffee a little more exciting.A 'just because' toastWine.com/InsiderLa Marca Prosecco, $15.99, available at Wine.comCelebrating someone you love is an opportune time to pop open a bottle of bubbly. This bottle is well-priced, and though it's not the fanciest gift on its own, it'll pair nicely with something else from this list. A high-tech spice grinderAmazonFinaMill Spice Grinder, from $44.99, available on AmazonThis nifty battery-operated spice grinder expertly grinds up dried spices and herbs at various coarseness with the simple touch of a button. Just pop in the interchangeable and refillable pods and enjoy freshly ground pepper, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, and more.A gift to satisfy any wife's sweet toothMacy's/InsiderSugarfina Champagne Bears, $22, available at Neiman MarcusTreat your wife to some of the cutest sweet treats around. Sugarfina makes adorable gummies inspired by — and sometimes infused with — alcohol like champagne and rosé. They're just as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat.Something small but sweetUncommon Goods/InsiderBees Knees Spicy Honey, $14.99, available at AmazonThis sweet and spicy honey will be a welcome addition to your kitchen. It's a thoughtful gift for an adventurous foodie who'll appreciate this hand-infused, locally made update to the classic sweetener.A taste of Japan by way of yummy snacksBokksuBokksu Tasting Gift, $44.95 per month, 3-month box, available at BokksuIf they love exploring new cultures through food, they'll appreciate this curated box of gourmet Japanese snacks. In this Bokksu box, your wife can expect to find between 10 to 14 snacks, a tea pairing, and an in-depth guide that details every product included. Fancy olive oil that'll instantly elevate any dishBrightlandAlive Olive Oil, $37, available at BrightlandIf they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen. A handheld milk frotherWilliams Sonoma/InsiderAerolatte Handheld Milk Frother, $23.99, available at Bed Bath & BeyondYou know how she takes her morning coffee, so why not make it a little easier to get a rich, frothy cappuccino at home? It's a little gadget that can make a huge difference in her morning ritual. A cookbook that'll inspire her next cheese plateAmazon/Insider"Platters and Boards" by Shelly Westerhausen, $15.38, available at AmazonShe's already the hostess with the mostest, but that doesn't mean she won't appreciate some inspiration for how to make her famous cheese plates and charcuterie boards even better. This book is filled with plenty of party-ready spreads along with the perfect meat and drink pairings for every platter. A really nice apronFood52Five Two Ultimate Apron, from $25, available at Food52If one of her greatest joys is cooking, make sure your wife is suited up with some of the best cooking accessories around. This lightweight cotton apron has smart pockets to keep all the essentials at arm's reach, built-in potholders, and even comes in some really cute colors she'll actually want to wear.Self-care gifts for your wifeA fluffy bathrobe for relaxing at homeParachuteParachute Classic Turkish Cotton Robe, $109, available at ParachuteWhen there's no time for a trip to the spa, this fluffy bathrobe will help her feel like she's on a luxury staycation. We named it our best overall pick in our guide to the best bathrobes for its soft feel and substantial shawl collar.A four-piece set of popular face masksSephoraPeter Thomas Roth Mask to the Max Kit, $58, available at SephoraTreat your spouse to new and cult-favorite face masks that treat any skincare concerns with premium ingredients. The four-piece mask kit is designed to hydrate, exfoliate, soothe, and tighten any skin type.A journal to jot down her thoughtsRifle Paper Co./Business InsiderStitched Notebook Set, $16, available at Rifle Paper Co.Your wife can keep this set of three beautiful notebooks out on her desk or nightstand to jot down everything from her to-do lists to her daily musings. An exciting new readBook of the Month InstagramBook of the Month Membership, from $49.99/3 months, available at Book of the MonthFor the wife that loves to read, give her the joy of getting lost in a book. Book of the Month curates some of the best new reads and has your pick delivered to your door as a hardcover each month. It's a great way to discover great new books and authors, plus if you sign up now you can get a free book.A luxurious exfoliator to keep skin smoothNecessaireNecessaire The Body Exfoliator, $30, available at SephoraNecessaire's clean beauty products come in beautiful, minimalist packaging that looks as good in their bathroom as it feels on their skin. This gentle exfoliator will help them slough off dry winter skin for good. A cute and cozy pair of pajamasTommy JohnWomen's Second Skin Sleep Tee, available at Tommy John, $52Women's Second Skin Sleep Short, available at Tommy John, $52A comfortable pajama set can make bedtime much better, but sometimes it's hard to justify spending so much on an outfit you'll never wear outside of your house. Since they might not be something she would buy herself, treat her to an ultra-comfy and colorful pair.A candle inspired by notable scentsOtherland/Alyssa Powell/InsiderOtherland Candles, $36, available at OtherlandWe love Otherland's candles, and we're sure your spouse will too. The assortment includes a selection of nostalgic aromas reminiscent of sandalwood, fig, and champagne, to name a few. It's one of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested.A subscription to 100+ celeb-taught online classesMasterClassMasterClass Subscription, $180 annually, available from MasterClassMasterClass provides online video classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders. Your wife can opt for a cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz. Plus, as part of a Mother's Day sale, you can get a subscription accessible from multiple devices for the same price as an individual one through May 8, 2022.Breakfast in bedEtsyBreakfast in Bed Tray, from $24.14, available at EtsyThey say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I say it's best served in bed. Use this cute tray to give them their favorite breakfast treats without ever having to leave the room. You can choose from an array of color options, sizes, and even have the text customized.Of course, this tray is best paired with a delicious, home-cooked meal and a lazy weekend morning.A hydrating gift setSephoraLaneige Hydration-To-Go! Normal to Dry Skin Set, $29, available at AmazonThis travel set is great for getting an on-the-go glow and includes some of Laneige's most popular products, including the cult-favorite Lip Sleeping Mask. If they have combination or oily skin, don't fret: Laneige makes an additional set.A Disney + subscription for her movie marathonAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderSubscribe for $7.99/month or $79.99/yearUnlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox make for a perfect movie marathon.Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here. And if you need to give her some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.A refreshing body scrubMacy'sKiehl's Gentle Exfoliating Body Scrub, from $36, available at Kiehl'sThis refreshing scrub is gentle and leaves skin smelling great and feeling soft. She'll thank you for this indulgent product that yields great results.A statement candleSephoraVoluspa Japanese Plum Bloom Candle, $32, available at SephoraThis candle has a mix of plum bloom petals and leaves, ripe plum fruit, and crushed currant fragrances. If you're not familiar with candle fragrances, all you need to know is that this makes a room smell delightful. Beyond the scent, the embossed glass jar is the final touch that makes this a wonderful gift.A super-hydrating sheet maskBloomingdale's/InsiderSkin Laundry Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask, $10, available at JCPenneyFor only $10, this little luxury will make her feel like she's indulging in a spa experience. Simply leave this mask on for about 20 minutes to refresh and soften your skin. You might want to get two or three since she's probably going to like these — and you probably will too.A mist made of calming essential oilGrove Collaborative/InsiderSleep Comes Easy Mist, $10.79, available at Grove CollaborativeLavender, chamomile, and frankincense are revered for their calming properties. Give your spouse all the tools she needs for a calm night with this mist. It can be used as a mist or pillow spray to wash any stress away and bring on major relaxation. Stylish gifts for your wifeA diamond-embellished bracelet with her zodiac signMontserratMontserrat Zodiac Bracelet, $200, available at MontserratSurprise her with this nameplate necklace that's plated in 18-karat gold and a set with a sparkly lab-grown diamond. It's simple enough to wear every day, and having her zodiac sign engraved makes it feel personalized just to her. Plus, the brand purchases carbon offsets to reduce its environmental impact.A popular puffer jacket that comes in dozens of colorsAritziaTnA The Super Puff Jacket, from $175, available at AritziaAritzia's Super Puff jacket has a huge following that includes Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and several members of the Insider Reviews team. Made with responsibly sourced down, the jacket is exceptionally warm and even water-resistant. We also love that it has fleece-lined pockets, but the best part about the jacket is that it comes in dozens of iterations so you can choose one to match her favorite color and desired length.A classic pair of solid gold hoop earringsMejuriMejuri Oversized Thin Hoop Earrings, $350, available at MejuriA simple, classic pair of earrings is a gift that'll come in handy over and over again. These solid 14-karat gold hoops are a Mejuri bestseller and can be worn with everything from a T-shirt to a cocktail dress. She'll be wearing them for years to come.A cozy pulloverPatagoniaPatagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T Fleece Pullover, $119 available at PatagoniaWhether you love hiking together or simply spending time on the couch, this pullover is absolutely worth its received hype. We love many of Patagonia's pullovers and sweaters because of their always dependable quality, durability, and comfort level. It's one of the best products we've ever tested.A summery pair of sunglassesWarby ParkerPercey Sunglasses, from $95, available at Warby ParkerTreat your wife to a new pair of shades, just in time for sunny spring. This pair takes the classic tortoise and flecks it with pink for a fresh take. If pink isn't really her color, you can find plenty of other styles at Warby Parker.A practical toiletry bagDagne DoverHunter Toiletry Bag, $40, available at Dagne DoverYour wife probably already has a few toiletry bags to hold her trinkets while she travels, but this one — with its multiple pockets, removable mesh pouches, and waterproof neoprene material — reigns supreme. A delicate, personalized gold braceletLalinne/Etsy/InsiderLalinne Jewelry Initial Bracelet, $22, available at EtsyThere are endless possibilities for how you can personalize this bracelet. The initials of kids, pets, or just the two of you are all thoughtful, personal takes on this delicate piece.A socially conscious shirtEverlaneEverlane 100% Human Collection, from $22, available at EverlaneShow your wife you appreciate her with a product that supports gender equality. When you purchase any shirt in the 100% Human Equality Now Collection, Everlane will donate a portion of the proceeds to the ACLU. Not only will she look great sporting this socially conscious message, but you can feel good about the fact that part of your purchase is going to a great cause.The comfiest sneakers she's ever wornAllbirdsWomen's Wool Runners, $110, available at AllbirdsAllbirds have reached cult-like status for their superior combination of comfort, style, and convenience. Each pair is made out of merino wool, which makes them super soft inside and out, plus they're machine washable so she can wear them wherever life takes her. Luxury gifts for your wifeFlowers that will last all yearRoseboxCustom Small Box, $179, available at RoseboxGetting a bouquet of roses is a sweet gesture, but a chic box of fresh stems that will last a full year takes it to the next level. Yes, you read that right. Rosebox arrangements are real flowers that are carefully preserved to stay fresh for a full year without any maintenance. Choose from a range of sizes from mini boxes to large centerpieces. Roses are also available in an array of color options from classic red to bright turquoise or lavender.  A gorgeous set of glasswareEstelle Colored GlassEstelle Colored Wine Stemware (Set of 6), $185, available at Estelle, West Elm, and Food52Elevate your wife's stemware collection for her next wine night or dinner party with these stunning, handblown glasses. Sets are available in rainbow hues from cobalt to blush and you can even mix and match colors. Sleek and sustainable luggageTour ParavelParavel Aviator Carry-On Suitcase, $350, available at ParavelIf she's looking forward to traveling again, a new set of luggage might be the perfect way to kick off the next trip. Paravel's carry-on suitcase is not only incredibly stylish, but it's also carbon neutral and sustainably made with 15 upcycled water bottles. Gift her the ultimate travel upgrade by adding a matching weekender or tote bag.A smartwatch she'll wear dailyAppleApple Watch Series 7, from $399, available at AppleThe Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smartwatch Apple currently sells. Your wife will certainly appreciate that it comes with top-of-the-line health features, a brighter display, and fast charging.A royally-approved travel tech organizerStowStow Travel & Tech The First Class Leather Case, $548, available at Stow LondonThis stylish tech travel case will keep all your wife's accessories organized on your next trip and comes with a Stow-branded USB and portable power bank as extra perks. Plus, it's royally approved. Meghan Markle has been spotted traveling with this very case. Choose from eight different colors and add embossed or hand-painted initials to it for an extra personal touch.A chic weighted blanketBearabyCotton Napper, $199, available at BearabyWeighted blankets have been shown to help reduce anxiety and help some people sleep better. This soft and luxurious version from Bearaby is chic enough to leave draped over the couch as a decor accent and cuddly enough to curl up in for a cozy night in. It also comes in five different color options and three different weights for a more customized experience.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 29th, 2022

The 5 best dishwashers of 2021

We consulted four experts and spent hours researching dishwashers to determine the top brands and models. Here are the best dishwashers in 2021. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Bosch; Frigidaire; GE; Miele; Gilbert Espinoza/Business Insider A dishwasher is one of the most time- and water-saving products you can have in your home. Through extensive research and expert interviews, we determined the Bosch SHEM63W55N is the best. Read about how we test kitchen products at Insider Picks. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyDishwashers don't just save you time and chapped hands; they keep your water (and hot-water) bill down, too. In fact, they tend to pay for themselves pretty quickly.According to Energy Star, a standard modern dishwasher requires less water than hand-washing dishes, and because it uses much hotter water, it sanitizes and kills bacteria more effectively. Therefore, a dishwasher is one of the better big-appliance purchases you can make for your home and your quality of life, especially if you're doing dishes for more than one or two place settings.I was a residential carpenter for four years and spent much of that time installing, removing, and adjusting dishwashers. I used my experience and insight from four other experts to curate a list of the best dishwashers you can buy. You can read more about our research methodology here.Here are the best dishwashers in 2021Best dishwasher overall: Bosch SHEM63W55N 300 Series DishwasherBest budget dishwasher: Frigidaire FGID2466QF DishwasherBest high-end dishwasher: Miele G 7566 DishwasherBest portable dishwasher: GE GPT225SSLSS Portable DishwasherBest countertop dishwasher: hOmeLabs Countertop Digital DishwasherBest dishwasher overallBosch; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderThe sleek design, ultra-quiet operation, and the unanimous support of its brand by our experts make the Bosch SHEM63W55N the best dishwasher you can buy.Dimensions: 24" W x 24" D x 34.5" HEnergy usage: 269 kWh per yearEstimated energy cost: $25 per yearNoise level: 44 dBEnergy Star certified: YesADA compliant: NoWarranty: 1 yearPros: Extremely quiet operation, stainless steel interior tub, AquaStop leak protectionCons: Exterior is not smudge-proof, not ADA compliantWhen I consulted my experts on their most recommended brands, Bosch came up time and time again. Alexander Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA specifically praised the brand's usability, reliability, and technical support, putting Bosch in the top tier of residential dishwashers. The Bosch SHEM63W55N features a stainless steel interior tub, a roomy third rack, and an adjustable upper rack. The tines on the top and bottom racks can fold down to customize their storage capacity. However, all this room translates to a unit that isn't compatible with those needing special height requirements.The Bosch SHEM63W55N boasts some special features, like a quick-wash cycle that takes only about an hour, a sanitizing setting, and a leak protection feature, a system of sensors that can detect when leaks occur and instantly shuts off the water supply. I've personally come home from a long weekend to find my dishwasher had leaked onto my parents' hardwood floors, so this can be an extremely helpful feature.At only 44 dB, this dishwasher makes around the same amount of noise as a refrigerator — which is to say it's one of the quietest options you can buy. The stainless steel exterior and recessed handle give it a sleek, high-end look, and the front-facing control panel allows you to monitor its operation easily. However, the exterior is not fingerprint-resistant, so if you have active kids around, you might want to have a bottle of stainless steel cleaner on hand.Best budget dishwasherFrigidaire; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderDespite its reasonable price tag, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF still provides many valuable features you see on high-end models, like a sanitizing wash cycle, fold-down tines, and a drying mode.Dimensions: 24" W x 24" D x 34.5" HEnergy usage: 268 kWh per yearEstimated energy cost: $32 per yearNoise level: 52 dBEnergy Star certified: YesADA compliant: NoWarranty: 1 yearPros: Smudge-proof stainless steel, sanitizing cycle, StayPut hinge ensures the door will not fall open or closedCons: Slightly louder than others, plastic interior tub, not ADA compliantThe fact that the Frigidaire FGID2466QF doesn't look like a budget model is one of the reasons Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors, recommended it so highly.The hidden control panel and stainless steel exterior are clean and modern. The front panel and bar handle have a smudge-proof finish, which can look darker than uncoated stainless steel. If you're planning on matching your stainless steel appliances, visit a showroom or appliance store if possible to take a look yourself. The plastic interior tub is less durable and harder to clean than stainless steel, though it's likely a big reason this machine is relatively affordable. The height also isn't ADA compliant, which can be another drawback.I was impressed by its door hinge, which prevents it from falling open or closing shut when you don't want it to. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF also features fold-down tines and has a high-temperature sanitizing setting. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF uses sensors to determine how much water pressure is needed based on how dirty the dishes are — a feature you often see in high-end models. Its dual drying options allow you to choose whether you prefer heated drying or not. It can also be programmed for half loads, an energy-saving feature that Yahoodain pointed out in his recommendation. At 52 dB, it's well under the noise level of a normal conversation and, surprisingly, a typical dishwasher, which registers at around 70 dB by the CDC. Best high-end dishwasherMiele; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderThe Miele G 7566 might have an intimidating price tag, but if money's no object, its top-of-the-line components, reputation for quality, and WiFi connectivity are worth it.Dimensions: 23.625" W x 22.5" D x 33.375" HEnergy usage: 230 kWh per yearEstimated energy cost: $30 per yearNoise level: 38 dBEnergy Star certified: YesADA compliant: NoWarranty: 5 yearsPros: WiFi connectivity, quiet operation, customizable tray designsCons: Not NSF certifiedGurfinkel recommended the Miele G 7566 for its high-quality and impressive five-year warranty.It features a stainless steel tub and an adjustable third rack. It also has four LEDs to illuminate the interior, making it easy to see what you're loading and unloading.The Miele G 7566 has a few special features that I haven't seen in other models — most notably, the WiFi connectivity and preset times so you can start the wash cycle even when you're not home. It also features a QuickIntenseWash, which cleans and dries dishes in 58 minutes, compared to the average normal dishwasher cycle of two hours. The Miele G 7566 runs even quieter than the Bosch at 38 dB.It looks modern and minimal with hidden controls and a stainless steel bar handle. The white LED readout gives it a high-tech look and separates it from other models that use black or red. The surface should also be easy to clean and maintain.This model is not officially NSF-certified to sanitize glassware, cookware, and dishes, though its SaniWash cycle reaches 167 degrees. This exceeds the 150 degrees that NSF requires for certification, and the Miele manual describes this cycle as intended for "baby bottles, cutting boards, and prepared dishes," but you won't have the peace of mind that comes from an official NSF certification.Best portable dishwasherGE; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderEven though it's a portable model, the GE GPT225SSLSS has the sleek look of a built-in unit, features a Piranha hard food disposer, and is mounted on four swiveling casters for easy transport.  Dimensions: 23.625" W x 25.375" D x 36 " HEnergy usage: 270 kWh per yearEstimated energy cost: $35 per yearNoise level: 54 dBEnergy Star certified: YesADA compliant: NoWarranty: 1 yearPros: Can be used as a countertop, Piranha hard food disposer, stainless steel tubCons: Louder than most modelsPortable dishwashers can often look conspicuous in the kitchen. The GE GPT225SSLSS dishwasher's controls are hidden, which gives the unit a modern, utilitarian look. It has a laminate wood top, which you can use as a countertop or workspace.My favorite feature of the GE GPT225SSLSS is the Piranha hard food disposer. This heavy-duty stainless steel blade grinds up any large food particles that may have been left on your dishes, ensuring that they'll easily fit down the drain. The dishwasher also features a durable stainless steel interior tub.The auto-sense cycle uses a beam of light to determine how dirty your dishes are and adjusts the water temperature to set an ideal cycle time. The GE GPT225SSLSS also has a sanitizing cycle, which uses high temperatures to reduce bacteria by 99.999%.  Because they lack the noise-deadening benefits of surrounding cabinets, portable dishwashers tend to be louder than built-ins. The GE GPT225SSLSS is the loudest of all the units I researched.One of the biggest perks of having a portable dishwasher is its simple installation. Unlike built-in models that need to be connected to existing plumbing fixtures, the GE GPT225SSLSS just needs to be plugged into an outlet and connected to your sink faucet. Gurfinkel agreed that when it comes to portable dishwashers, this GE model is a solid choice.Best countertop dishwasherhOmeLabs; InsiderDespite its small size, hOmeLabs' Countertop Digital Dishwasher has seven program settings and is Energy Star certified.Dimensions: 21.6" W x 20.2" D x 17.2" HEnergy usage: 203 kWh per yearNoise level: 50.44 dBEnergy Star certified: YesADA compliant: NoWarranty: 1 yearPros: Easy to hook up, six-place-setting capacity, seven different wash settings, relatively quietCons: No independent water reservoir (must be connected to your sink faucet)A countertop dishwasher is a remarkably useful appliance for smaller spaces, and hOmeLabs' Countertop Digital Dishwasher has an impressive six-place-setting capacity for its size.While it's not exactly small — it's going to take up about as much counter space as a full-sized espresso machine — this dishwasher is stainless steel, not hideous, and relieves you of most all of the dishwashing duties a full-sized dishwasher does.You'll have to keep it near your sink or be willing to move it (at 42.5 pounds, that might be out of the question for some), as it has no internal water reservoir. But in our research, we found that dishwashers with internal reservoirs, however appealing, tend to be problematic.The hOmeLabs Digital Countertop washer comes with a digital control panel with seven different program settings: heavy (for heavily soiled crockery), normal, eco (for lighter loads), high temp (for sanitizing things like baby bottles), quick wash (a short wash that skips the drying cycle), glass (lighter soiling and gentler washing), and rinse. Essentially, it does everything its bigger siblings do, but it doesn't take up the space or power and doesn't require the pressure. (6 PSI from your faucet will get the job done.)For under $400 and no installation hassles or fees, you're saving yourself some serious work with a countertop dishwasher.Our dishwasher research methodologyBosch; Frigidaire; GE; Miele; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderI wasn't able to physically test these dishwashers myself, so I leaned on my kitchen remodeling experience and background as a general contractor. I also consulted four experts for brand and model recommendations and criteria that I could use to compare and contrast models as I did my research. I consulted a food safety expert, Kaylyn Brunskole, the technical manager of Food Equipment at NSF International. I also reached out to an appliance retailer, Albert Safaradi of Albee's Appliances; a home remodeling expert, Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors; and an appliance repair expert, Alexander Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA. After consulting experts, I developed a set of criteria to use to compare potential options, including their appearance, construction, installation details, special features, energy use, noise levels, certifications, and repair and warranty details. I then spent hours rigorously researching the most popular options from online retailers and read countless best-of lists and customer reviews, developing a list that I vetted with my experts and removing ones that didn't meet their criteria. The result is four expertly-vetted dishwashers.How to install a dishwasherDishwasher installation is a pretty straightforward process, so if you've got a reasonable amount of experience working with appliances, you should be alright to DIY. Gurfinkel explained that a YouTube video and proper equipment like a hose and a wrench can be enough. Issues may arise if your original dishwasher wasn't installed properly and can't be removed; this will require breaking countertops and floors, and above all else, a professional.If you'd rather have a professional install your dishwasher entirely, Gurfinkel recommended going with a local installer, as they tend to care more about how the installation goes.Dishwasher FAQsThe Home Depot; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderWhen should I use a dishwasher?This is ultimately a personal preference, but there are smart ways to use your dishwasher so you're not wasting money or water. Run your dishwasher when you have a full load — that means when the upper, middle, and lower racks are full. If you use a dishwasher when it barely has anything to clean, you can easily run up your water bills.How do I load a dishwasher? Most dishwashers have an upper spray arm that rotates to ensure jets of hot water spread evenly. But if you pile pots and pans too high on the bottom rack, the spray arm may not be able to spin. Reach in and give it a quick spin before starting the clean cycle to ensure it can move freely. If it gets caught on something, adjust the load.Do you need to rinse dishes first? Even though you might think you're helping by rinsing off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you could actually be making it less effective. This is because the sensors that some dishwashers use to determine how long a cycle should run and how much water to use can be fooled by pre-rinsed dishes.What types of dishwashers are there? Built-in: These are the most common types of dishwashers. They are designed to be installed in a dedicated area under your kitchen counter and are connected to permanent plumbing hookups.Portable: Portable dishwashers are freestanding units that hook up to your faucet and sit on wheels and can be moved around as you like.Countertop: For those who are really tight on space, countertop dishwashers are even more convenient than portable options. They connect right to your kitchen faucet and use less water than full-size dishwashers.What sizes of dishwashers are there?"Dishwasher dimensions are standard: 23.75 inches wide by 33.625 inches high by 24.625 inches deep," Safaradi said. ADA-compliant units are 24 inches wide by 34.5 inches high by 24 inches deep. Compact-sized dishwashers tend to be about 18 inches wide.How long should a dishwasher last? "On average, you can expect a dishwasher to last you about 10 years with potential maintenance in between," Yahoodain said. Gurfinkel's caveat to that is how you use them, so make sure to follow the manufacture's guidelines for optimal operation. Stainless steel tubs will last longer than plastic ones.Is a front or top-mounted control panel better?This is really just a matter of personal preference. Some people like the minimal look of the top-mounted design, and it also prevents curious kids from pressing buttons at random. Top-mounted units will sometimes direct a red light on the floor to indicate that it's not finished yet, but that doesn't tell you how much time is left in the cycle. What certifications should I look for? One of the ways to effectively clean and sanitize dishes is to use a dishwasher with a NSF/ANSI 184: Residential Dishwashers certification. A dishwasher with a certified sanitizing cycle has been tested to reduce 99.999% (5-log) of bacteria. Lastly, depending on where you live, you might qualify for certain rebates to cut costs and energy use.How to clean your dishwasherCleaning your dishwasher "depends on the type of dishwasher, finish (stainless, plastic, or a mix), and the type of filter which catches leftover food in the machine," said Yahoodain.If your appliance isn't cleaning as well as it used to, check the filter at the bottom of the unit. You should clean it monthly to keep it free from food particles.I have personally had success using a simple warm water and vinegar mixture and using a dishrag to wipe down the interior components. That being said, make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions first.  You can also buy dishwasher cleaning tablets, like these from Affresh, to keep build-up at bay. There are a few different types that work for different brands, so make sure you get the right one. Try to clean your dishwasher once a month.GlossaryThe Home Depot; Gilbert Espinoza/Business InsiderWash zone: Your dishwasher has multiple areas that can be washed in different ways — these are wash zones. Typically a dishwasher will have two wash zones, the upper and lower racks, giving you the option to wash both or just one. This comes in handy when you only have half a load of dishes to clean.Filter: Your dishwasher filter prevents pieces of food from ending up back on your dishes or clogging your drain. These can be either self-cleaning or manual versions, so make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to keep them clean. Sensor wash: Using a beam of light to analyze your dishes, sensor wash dishwashers can determine the best cycle, temperature, and duration to clean specific dish loads.  Lower rack: This is the main storage area of the dishwasher and is used for items like plates, pots, pans, and larger bowls. Top rack: This is the second rack of the dishwasher and is used for cups, glasses, and oddly shaped utensils that may be too tall for the bottom rack. Third rack: Located at the top of the dishwasher, this is a thin tray that slides out and provides the ideal space to lay down smaller or irregularly shaped items. A third rack can sometimes act as the utensil basket, freeing up valuable space on the bottom rack.Spray arms: These are long narrow fan-like blades with several holes where the jets of hot water come out. Most dishwashers have upper and lower spray arms. The lower spray arm is usually fixed, but the upper spray arm rotates to ensure an even clean.Settings: Each machine has different settings, but these are among the most common based on my research. Normal: The standard cycle that should be used for typical, moderately soiled loads. The duration can vary depending on the machine, but on average lasts about two hours.Eco: Lower washing and rinsing temperatures to minimize the amount of energy and water used. This cycle can take longer than normal, up to 2.5 hours.Auto: A sensor analyzes how soiled the dishes are and selects the best cycle. Quick wash: This setting uses more water and higher temperatures to get your dishes done quickly, though this can sometimes result in less effective results than a normal wash. This cycle can usually run between 30 and 60 minutes.Sanitize: Uses extra-hot water (above 150 degrees F) to sanitize your dishes and destroy bacteria. This is recommended when washing dishes that have come in contact with raw meat or any other source of potential bacteria. This cycle is usually used in addition to another cycle and should add about 30 minutes to the wash time.Pots and pans: This setting uses extra water to ensure your extra-large cookware is cleaned effectively. This cycle tends to run about 2.5 hours.Check out more guides to kitchen appliances and fixturesThe Home DepotThe best kitchen faucetsThe best kitchen sinksThe best refrigeratorsThe best microwavesThe best wine coolers and fridgesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

56 gifts for your wife that are memorable and creative - from a clay sculpting kit to an art print of her favorite city

We rounded up the best gifts for your wife or partner this holiday season, including options that are romantic, sentimental, or just plain fun. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Getty Images Thoughtful gifts for your wife are key, whether it's for a birthday, anniversary, or just because. We rounded up unique gift ideas for her, whether you want a grand gesture or a personalized memento. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Putting extra care into picking out thoughtful gifts for your wife shows her just how how special she is and how much you appreciate all she does. Whether you're looking for an anniversary gift, birthday gift, or just an "I love you" gift, we have a wide range of gift ideas for your wife she's sure to love.Of course, the best ways to show your appreciation for your loved ones can't be bought. Nothing can top showing your gratitude with patience, support, and love. But when it comes to the tangible, gifts for her can enhance the gratitude we show daily through our actions.Here are thoughtful gift ideas for your wife, ranging from romantic gift ideas to unique and personalize options. Browse all of the best gifts for your wife below, or jump to a specific gift category here:Romantic gifts for your wifeSentimental gifts for your wifeUnique gifts for your wifeFood and drink gifts for your wifeSelf-care gifts for your wifeStylish gifts for your wifeLuxury gifts for your wifeHere are 58 of the best gifts for your wife Romantic gifts for your wife An enchanting candle Diptyque Facebook Diptyque Baies Small Candle, $38, available at DiptyqueA scent from Diptique is a classic gift — and for good reason. The aromas are unique, without being overpowering. This tangy scent with flowery accents is just right for an everyday smell that's still romantic. You can also find more of our favorite candle brands here.  A 'just because' toast Wine.com/Insider La Marca Prosecco, $15.99, available at Wine.comCelebrating someone you love is an opportune time to pop open a bottle of bubbly. This bottle is well-priced, and though it's not the fanciest gift on its own, it'll pair nicely with something else from this list.  A special pair of earrings AUrate Zodiac Stud Earrings, $18, available at AUrateYou can't go wrong with getting your wife a pair of everyday earrings. These ones come in all different zodiac signs, which add just the right touch of personalization. If she's not into the signs, they're still a really nice, simple pair of studs. A modern twist on love letters Uncommon Goods/Insider How Do I Love Thee From A-Z, $20, available at Uncommon GoodsFill in the blanks about why you love your spouse. This little book holds 26 prompts, from A to Z, that let you express why you love and appreciate her. It is all bound together as a small book that she can have as a thoughtful keepsake forever. A way to discover a fresh new scent House of Sillage House of Sillage Perfume Discovery Set, $35, available at House of SillageNow your spouse can test out seven new alluring fragrances to find a favorite thanks to this discovery set. House of Sillage also has gift wrapping and gift message options. Sentimental gifts for your wife A sentimental map Grafomap Grafomap Custom Map, from $49, available at GrafomapMake her a totally custom map of one of her favorite places. Pick your location, then get to customizing. Grafomap lets you choose your own colors, write your own labels, and zoom in or out, for a map that is 100% unique.  A collection of your best memories Snapfish/Insider Snapfish Photo Book, from $12.99, available at SnapfishEven though it has become so easy to scroll through old photos with your phone on Facebook and Instagram, there is something special about a tangible photo book that you can look at. These are nice to leave around the house, flip through every now and then, and be reminded of the memories that fill the pages.  A thoughtful piece of home decor Uncommon Goods Hand Embroidered State Pillows, $225, available at Uncommon GoodsGive her some state pride with one of these beautiful pillows hand embroidered with each state's cities, towns, famous sites, cultural icons, and more. Pick a state that means something to her like where she was born, went to college, or where you met. These vibrant pillows are so unique; they'll look great in your home and are definite conversation starters. A portable printer Amazon HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $74.95, available on AmazonIf your wife is always documenting moments on her smartphone, she'll love having the opportunity to turn all of those memories into real prints. All she has to do is connect her phone to the printer with Bluetooth, then quickly print her favorites into physical prints she can hang up or frame. Pick out a favorite photo of the two of you to get her started and add an extra special touch. A nostalgic trip down memory lane Uncommon Goods/Insider Create Your Own Reel Viewer, from $14.95, available at Uncommon GoodsDive headfirst into some nostalgia with a reel viewer like the ones you had as a child. Customize the reel with pictures of your favorite memories. It's a really fun way to reminisce about the past and is sure to get you and your spouse feeling sentimental. A DNA kit to connect with her family roots Amazon Ancestry DNA Kit, $99, available at Ancesty.comGive your wife the meaningful gift of learning more about her roots and family history with an Ancestry DNA Kit. She'll be able to discover her own DNA story with a few easy steps and get results in 6-8 weeks. Unique gifts for your wife A pottery starter kit Sculpd Sculpd Pottery Starter Bundle, $84, available from SculpdIf your wife enjoys getting crafty, this starter kit just might help her discover a new pottery passion. Every kit comes with 2 kilograms of air-dry clay, which is enough to make two different pieces. She can choose from projects like planters, ring dishes, vases, and more. A wearable blanket Amazon The Comfy Oversized Microfiber & Sherpa Wearable Blanket, $44.95, available on AmazonShe'll never be cold again thanks to this super cozy wearable blanket. Perfect for lounging around the house or cuddling up in at night, it comes in numerous color and pattern options to suit her tastes. A cute, custom phone case Bauble Bar BaubleBar x Off My Case iPhone Case, $68, available at BaubleBarA new phone case is always a fun little accessory update. Give her one that can be customized to say something that matters to her; think names, initials, favorite foods. You can get creative with what you want the case to say, as long as it fits within the 12 character maximum. An eye-catching print of her favorite city Uncommon Goods City Prints by Carolyn Gavin, $40, available at Uncommon GoodsThese sentimental yet meticulously crafted prints highlight ten major cities that your wife may hold dear to their heart. Each print is a bit different than the next, but they all share the depiction of their city's most notable landmarks.  A cute, custom gift box Greeatbl/Insider Greetabl Gift Box, starting at $10, available at GreetablGreetabl is the spot for times when you want to give those "just because" kind of gifts. The box also functions as the greeting card, to which you can add your own personal photos. Then you can pick two small gifts from a group of curated items like Sugarfina gummies or sweet-smelling soap. It's a small gift with the opportunity to add a lot of personal touches. A funky pair of socks Jimmy Lion/Insider Jimmy Lion Mid-Calf Socks, $9, available at Jimmy LionIf you're looking to put a smile on her face, gift your spouse a pair of these funky socks. The crazy patterns and bright colors make getting dressed a lot more fun.  A curated box of surprises Breobox brēō box One-Time Gift Purchase, $159, available at brēō boxBrēō box is a service that makes curated boxes full of unique and actually useful items. The contents of the box are always different, centering around everyday essentials, fitness, health, and tech items — and they're always seasonal. If they love the first box, you can even gift them a subscription.  Food and drinks gifts for your wife A fill-in recipe journal Papier Bon Appétit Recipe Journal, $28.04, available at PapierWhether it's a family recipe or new dishes to try out, this recipe journal stores every one of her delicious dishes and favorite restaurants. Stash every breakfast, lunch, dinner, or treat recipe in one place with this thoughtful gift for your wife. A tasty cake for special occasions Milk Bar/Alyssa Powell/Insider Milk Bar cakes, from $52, available at Milk BarCongratulate her on her special day or huge achievement with a delicious Milk Bar cake. A sweet Milk Bar cake that tastes irresistible will make her fall in love with you all over again. These cakes made our list of the All-Time Best products we tested. A high-tech spice grinder Amazon FinaMill Spice Grinder, from $39.99, available on AmazonThis nifty battery-operated spice grinder expertly grinds up dried spices and herbs at various coarseness with the simple touch of a button. Just pop in the interchangeable and refillable pods and enjoy freshly ground pepper, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, and more. A gift to satisfy any wife's sweet tooth Macy's/Insider Sugarfina Champagne Bears, $20, available at Neiman MarcusTreat your wife to some of the cutest sweet treats around. Sugarfina makes adorable gummies inspired by — and sometimes infused with — alcohol like champagne and rosé. They're just as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. Fancy olive oil that'll instantly elevate any dish Brightland Alive Olive Oil, $37, available at BrightlandIf they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen.  Something small but sweet Uncommon Goods/Insider Bees Knees Spicy Honey, $14.99, available at AmazonThis sweet and spicy honey will be a welcome addition to your kitchen. It's a thoughtful gift for an adventurous foodie who'll appreciate this hand-infused, locally made update to the classic sweetener. A taste of Japan by way of yummy snacks Bokksu Bokksu Tasting Gift, $44.95 per month, 3-month box, available at BokksuIf they love exploring new cultures through food, they'll appreciate this curated box of gourmet Japanese snacks. In this Bokksu box, your wife can expect to find between 10 to 14 snacks, a tea pairing, and an in-depth guide that details every product included.  A cookbook that'll inspire her next cheese plate Amazon/Insider "Platters and Boards" by Shelly Westerhausen, $15.38, available at AmazonShe's already the hostess with the mostest, but that doesn't mean she won't appreciate some inspiration for how to make her famous cheese plates and charcuterie boards even better. This book is filled with plenty of party-ready spreads along with the perfect meat and drink pairings for every platter. A handheld milk frother Williams Sonoma/Insider Aerolatte Handheld Milk Frother, $19.99, available at Bed Bath & BeyondYou know how she takes her morning coffee, so why not make it a little easier to get a rich, frothy cappuccino at home? It's a little gadget that can make a huge difference for her morning ritual.  A really nice apron Food52 Five Two Ultimate Apron, $45, available at Food52If one of her greatest joys is cooking, make sure your wife is suited up with some of the best cooking accessories around. This lightweight cotton apron has smart pockets to keep all the essentials at arm's reach, built-in potholders, and even comes in some really cute colors she'll actually want to wear. Coffee from around the world Uncommon Goods World Explorer's Coffee Sampler, $32, available at DriftawayAt the intersection of globetrotter and coffee connoisseur is this sample set. This box contains four unique coffees sourced from around the world, which vary depending on the season and other conditions. It's a great gift that'll make morning coffee a little more exciting. Self-care gifts for your wife A four-piece set of popular face masks Sephora Peter Thomas Roth Mask to the Max Kit, $58, available at SephoraTreat your spouse to new and cult-favorite face masks that treat any skincare concerns with premium ingredients. The four-piece mask kit is designed to hydrate, exfoliate, soothe, and tighten any skin type. A journal to jot down her thoughts Rifle Paper Co./Business Insider Stitched Notebook Set, $15, available at Rifle Paper Co.Your wife can keep this set of three beautiful notebooks out on her desk or nightstand to jot down everything from her to-do lists to her daily musings.  A subscription to 100+ classes MasterClass MasterClass Subscription, $180 annually, available from MasterClassMasterClass provides online video classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders. Your wife can opt for a cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz. Plus, right now the subscription comes with a 2-for-1 offer, so you can gift a subscription to yourself as part of the deal. An exciting new read Book of the Month Instagram Book of the Month Membership, $49.99/3 months, $89.99/6 months, $169.99/12 months, available at Book of the MonthFor the wife that loves to read, give her the joy of getting lost in a book. Book of the Month curates some of the best new reads and has your pick delivered to your door as a hardcover each month. It's a great way to discover great new books and authors, plus if you sign up now you can get a free book. A luxurious exfoliator to keep skin smooth Necessaire Necessaire The Body Exfoliator, $30, available at SephoraNecessaire's clean beauty products come in beautiful, minimalist packaging that looks as good in their bathroom as it feels on their skin. This gentle exfoliator will help them slough off dry winter skin for good.  A candle inspired by notable scents Otherland/Alyssa Powell/Insider Otherland Candles, $36, available at OtherlandWe love Otherland's candles, and we're sure your spouse will too. The assortment includes a selection of nostalgic aromas reminiscent of sandalwood, fig, and champagne, to name a few. It's one of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. A Disney + subscription for her movie marathon Alyssa Powell/Business Insider Subscribe for $7.99/month or $79.99/yearUnlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox make for a perfect movie marathon.Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here. And if you need to give her some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream. A cute and cozy pair of pajamas Shopbop/Eberjey Eberjey Gisele Short PJ Set, $98, available at ShopbopA comfortable pajama set can make bedtime much better. Sometimes, though, it's hard to justify spending so much on an outfit you'll never wear outside of your house. Since they might not be something she would buy herself, but you know she'd enjoy them, treat her to a comfy and colorful pair. A mist made of calming essential oil Grove Collaborative/Insider Sleep Comes Easy Mist, $10, available at Grove CollaborativeLavender, chamomile, and frankincense are revered for their calming properties. Give your spouse all the tools she needs for a calm night with this mist. It can be used as a mist or pillow spray to wash any stress away and bring on major relaxation.  A super-hydrating sheet mask Bloomingdale's/Insider Skin Laundry Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask, $10, available at JCPenneyFor only $10, this little luxury will make her feel like she's indulging in a spa experience. Simply leave this mask on for about 20 minutes to refresh and soften your skin. You might want to get two or three since she's probably going to like these— and you probably will too. A statement candle Nordstrom Voluspa Japonica Gardenia Candle, $30, available at SephoraThis candle has a mix of gardenia, tuberose, and Tunisian clove fragrances. If you're not familiar with candle fragrances, all you need to know is that this will make a room smell delightful. Beyond the scent, the embossed glass jar is the final touch that makes this such a great gift. Breakfast in bed Etsy Breakfast in Bed Tray, $30.26, available at EtsyThey say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I say it's best served in bed. Use this cute tray to give them their favorite breakfast treats without ever having to leave the room. You can choose from an array of color options, sizes, and even have the text customized.Of course, this tray is best paired with a delicious, home-cooked meal and a lazy weekend morning. A refreshing body scrub Macy's Kiehl's Gentle Exfoliating Body Scrub, $36, available at Kiehl'sThis refreshing scrub is gentle and leaves skin smelling great and feeling soft. She'll thank you for this indulgent product that yields great results. A hydrating gift set Sephora Laneige Hydration-To-Go! Normal to Dry Skin Set, $29, available at SephoraThis travel set is great for getting an on-the-go glow and includes some of Laneige's most popular products, including the cult-favorite Lip Sleeping Mask. If they have combination or oily skin, don't fret: Laneige makes an additional set. Stylish gifts for your wife A delicate, personalized gold bracelet Lalinne/Etsy/Insider Lalinne Jewelry Initial Bracelet, $22, available at EtsyThere are endless possibilities to how you can personalize this bracelet. The initials of kids, pets, or just the two of you are all thoughtful, personal takes on this delicate piece. A summery pair of sunglasses Warby Parker Percey Sunglasses, from $95, available at Warby ParkerTreat your wife to a new pair of shades, just in time for sunny spring. This pair takes the classic tortoise and flecks it with pink for a fresh take. If pink isn't really her color, you can find plenty of other styles at Warby Parker. A practical toiletry bag Dagne Dover Hunter Toiletry Bag, $40, available at Dagne DoverYour wife probably already has a few toiletry bags to hold her trinkets while she travels, but this one — with its multiple pockets, removable mesh pouches, and waterproof neoprene material — reigns supreme.  A socially conscious shirt Everlane Everlane 100% Human Collection, $12-$34, available at EverlaneShow your wife you appreciate her with a product that supports gender equality. When you purchase any shirt in 100% Human Equality Now Collection, Everlane will donate a portion of proceeds to the ACLU. Not only will she look great sporting this socially conscious message, but you can feel good about the fact that part of your purchase is going to a great cause. A simple bar necklace Mejuri Horizontal Engravable Bar Necklace, $280, available at MejuriJewelry is a classic gift and this simple bar necklace is timeless choice. Engrave it with a name or saying of up to 10 characters for some personalization.  A cozy pullover Patagonia Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T Fleece Pullover, $119 available at PatagoniaWhether you love hiking together or simply spending time on the couch, this pullover is absolutely worth its received hype. We love many of Patagonia's pullovers and sweaters because of their always dependable quality, durability, and comfort level. It's one of the best products we've ever tested. The comfiest sneakers she's ever worn Allbirds Women's Wool Runners, $95, available at AllbirdsAllbirds have reached cult-like status for their superior combination of comfort, style, and convenience. Each pair is made out of Merino Wool, which makes them super soft inside and out, plus they're machine washable so she can wear them wherever life takes her.  A new pair of leggings for her favorite workout Alo Yoga High-Waist Alosoft Sheila Legging, $78, available at Alo YogaGreat workout clothes can totally change the tone of a workout — look good, feel good, right? This pair of performance leggings is perfect for her yoga practice, and cute enough to wear around town after that too. If you want to complete the outfit, throw in a matching top.  Luxury gifts for your wife A gorgeous set of glassware Estelle Colored Glass Estelle Colored Wine Stemware (Set of 6), $175, available at EstelleElevate your wife's stemware collection for her next wine night in or dinner party with these stunning, handblown glasses. Sets are available in rainbow hues from cobalt to blush and you can even mix and match colors.  Flowers that will last all year Rosebox Custom Small Box, $179, available at RoseboxGetting a bouquet of roses is a sweet gesture, but a chic box of fresh stems that will last a full year takes it to the next level. Yes, you read that right. Rosebox arrangements are real flowers that are carefully preserved to stay fresh for a full year without any maintenance. Choose from a range of sizes from mini boxes to large centerpieces. Roses are also available in an array of color options from classic red to bright turquoise or lavender.   A chic weighted blanket Bearaby Cotton Napper, $249, available at BearabyWeighted blankets have been shown to help reduce anxiety and help some people sleep better. This soft and luxurious version from Bearaby is chic enough to leave draped over the couch as a decor accent and cuddly enough to curl up in for a cozy night in. It also comes in five different color options and three different weights for a more customized experience. A smartwatch she'll wear daily Apple Apple Watch Series 7, from $399, available at AppleThe Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smartwatch Apple currently sells. Your wife will certainly appreciate that it comes with top-of-the-line health features, a brighter display, and fast charging. A royally-approved travel tech organizer Stow Stow Travel & Tech The First Class Leather Case, $511, available at Stow LondonThis stylish tech travel case will keep all your wife's accessories organized on your next trip and comes with a Stow-branded USB and portable power bank as extra perks. Plus, it's royally approved. Meghan Markle has been spotted traveling with this very case. Choose from eight different colors and add embossed or hand-painted initials to it for an extra personal touch. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 1st, 2021

The best Champagne and sparkling wine for Mother"s Day brunch, graduation, and all of your spring celebrations

Experts helped us pick the best Champagne, cava, prosecco, and other sparkling wines for all types of budgets and tastes. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Kokouu/Getty ImagesThis content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.Champagne, a favorite beverage for toasting, comes from its namesake region in France. Aged in individual bottles, many enthusiasts prize the limestone soil where the grapes are grown. Because of the region's rules and prestige, bottles labeled Champagne are generally more expensive than those from other places. But there's more to sparkling wine than just Champagne. Prosecco from Italy and cava from Spain generally cost less but are often their own enjoyable experience. Producers from all over the world follow similar methods to make sparkling wine. The results are much more accessible and affordable than Champagne.For our guide, we recommend a variety of options at various prices, based on consultations with wine experts and our research. Taste is very subjective, however. You can ask several experts for suggestions and see no overlap, and that's why there is no single winner. The market is also tricky: You can find certain brands everywhere, while smaller producers tend to distribute in limited areas. That doesn't mean one is better than the other, but we tried to factor in availability with our choices.Check with your local wine shop for availability.Cheat sheet to picking a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wineRunPhoto/Getty ImagesShort on time? If you need a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine now, here are our recommendations if you can't explore our entire guide.The best Champagne for showing offWhen the budget doesn't matter: Krug Grand Cuvée (about $225), Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004 (about $450), Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée (about $70)The best non-Champagne sparkling wineGreat for everyday drinking or pairing with food: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2018 ($35), Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit ($25), Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut ($25), Claude Branger "L'éClipse" Méthode Traditionnelle ($19)The best rosé sparkling wine for date nightFor those very special occasions: Raventós i Blanc de Nit Rose 2017 ($26), Graham Beck NV Brut Rosé ($23), Ruinart NV Brut Rosé ($55)The best budget sparkling wineIdeal for toasting or celebrating, when you need to maximize your budget while still drinking something tasty: Segura Viudas ($10), Mas Fi Cava Brut Rosé ($14)The best for christening a shipAnything under $5, as you won't be drinking it.The best ChampagneThe best Champagnes under $65The selection of Champagne at your grocery store will mostly consist of big-name makers, with prices starting around $40. To be called Champagne, the wine must be made in a specific region of France. While perhaps not priced for most people's weekly wine budget, you can still find many Champagnes that come out to around $10 a glass. "We try to kind of really combat this stigma of Champagne being celebratory and kind of pretentious," said Ariel Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor in New York City.Most of the choices at these prices will be non-vintage, meaning winemakers may mix different varieties and harvests of grapes to ensure their signature wines taste the same, year after year. These are perfect for drinking right off the shelf for an impromptu celebration. What our experts particularly likeThe specialists we consulted recommend Agrapart & Fils Les 7 Crus Brut NV, Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne Brut, Cheurlin Brut Spéciale, and Marie Courtin Résonance Extra-Brut. "There's almost nothing better than grower's Champagne," Chevonne Ball, owner of wine-focused travel company Dirty Radish, said about the Chartogne-Taillet. "Crisp and elegant, this true Champagne is worth the price.""For those seeking the crème de la crème of the sparkling world, I always have some grower Champagnes in stock, like Laherte Frères," said Laura Marchetti, owner of Riverview Wines & Spirits. The winesAgrapart & Fils Les 7 Crus Brut NV: A non-vintage Champagne that's made from 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot noir grapes. Notes: brioche, yeast.Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne Brut: Made from 50% chardonnay and the rest a mix of black grapes, mainly pinot noir, this non-vintage Champagne is a split of the previous year's wine and wines that were aged two to five years. Notes: apple, citrus.Cheurlin Brut Spéciale: This non-vintage Champagne, 70% Chardonnay and 30% pinot noir, is from a historic house and is imported to the US by former Detroit Piston Isaiah Thomas. Notes: bread, citrus.Henriot Brut Souverain NV: With 30% of the Brut Souverain coming from reserve wines and an almost equal amount of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, this Champagne is very consistent from bottle to bottle. Notes: apple, mineral.Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV: This chardonnay grape Champagne is made from 50% reserve wines from previous years. Notes: mineral, lemon.Marie Courtin Résonance Extra-Brut: This wine is made from pinot noir grapes. Owner Dominique Moreau makes zero-dosage Champagne, aged in the bottle for about two years. Notes: tart, yeasty.Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut: This Champagne, made with pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay grapes, should be easy to find in practically any grocery or liquor store. Notes: citrus, apple.The best Champagnes under $150As you go closer to the over-$100 price point, you'll start seeing more vintage wines. The grapes for vintages all come from the same year, and the wines are aged longer than non-vintages. Leaving a bottle to sit for three years takes up space, which costs money. There are also constraints on how much is grown in Champagne, France. "It's a small area of land, so they can only produce so much," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence, a sparkling wine lounge in New Orleans. "You're paying for the taste of that terroir, which is usually very limestone."At under $150, you'll also see some cuvées, which is a term winemakers use to designate their very special blends. But there's no real regulation of the term, so its appearance on a label doesn't ensure quality. The winesBollinger Brut Special Cuvée: A popular Champagne made of over 60% pinot noir grapes, Bollinger's Special Cuvée shouldn't be too hard to find. Notes: apple, toast.Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV: Forty percent of this wine is from the reserve selection, which are wines aged an average of 10 years. Charles Heidsieck was one of the first Champagnes imported to the US in the 19th Century. Notes: brioche, apple.Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Vintage Brut 2012: This chardonnay grape Champagne is a vintage from 2012 that's definitely expensive but not too over-the-top. Notes: citrus, mineral.Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru: Egly-Ouriet is a grower-producer in Champagne, and its Brut is a mix of 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. Notes: lemon, butter.Henri Goutorbe Special Club Brut Champagne 2006: A wine labeled "Special Club" must earn the approval of the Club Trésors de Champagne's members. Henri Goutorbe is a grower-producer, and this 2006 wine meets the designation. Notes: biscuit, lemon.Pierre Péters Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut: Another grower-producer, Pierre Péters makes a chardonnay blanc de blancs from 40% reserve wine. Notes: pear, mineral.The best Champagnes over $150For most people, drinking a glass of Champagne from a bottle that costs upwards of $150 is a once-in-a-lifetime – if ever – event. As prices climb, there will be more vintages. Prized wines are made with more care and are aged longer, so they come in smaller batches. Rarity increases the price. Producers also make bottles that are meant to be stored before they're savored. That's not true of every expensive Champagne, but if you're spending a lot, you'll want to ensure you're drinking it at the best time. To see just how out-of-control prices can get, check out some of the world's most expensive Champagnes. The winesDom Perignon Brut 2005: This vintage from Moët & Chandon is ready to drink now but can also be stored for a few years. Notes: toast, apples.Krug Grande Cuvée: Unlike many high-priced Champagnes, this Krug is a non-vintage. It's made by blending over 120 individual wines. Notes: lemon, brioche.Laurent-Perrier NV Grand Siècle Grande Cuvée Brut No. 24: A non-vintage, this Champagne is made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, a blend of wines from the 2007, 2006, and 2004 vintages. Notes: toast, honey.Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Extra Brut 2010: The wine, made up of 71% pinot noir and 29% chardonnay grapes, is a good choice for aging. Notes: almond, citrus.Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2009: You can either drink or save this cuvée, which is made of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. It's named for the English Prime Minister, who was a fan. Notes: brioche, citrus. Alternatively, if you can get the 2008 vintage, which is generally harder to find, we recommend it.Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004: This prestige cuvée, made from chardonnay grapes, is a good choice for aging, especially given the price. Notes: mineral, citrus.Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2007: While you can drink Taittinger's all-chardonnay Champagne now, you can also age it a bit. Notes: citrus, nuts.The best proseccoThe best prosecco under $20Most prosecco comes from Italy and is aged in tanks, unlike Champagne, which ages in bottles. "Prosecco is usually super easy to drink," Hinds said. "It's not super complex — doesn't have a lot of different flavors that linger." It's very easy to find a nice bottle of prosecco for under $20, which makes it attractive for a lot of people. "If I'm being honest, people are buying for cost," said Ball of Dirty Radish. "But I would say that people who like prosecco probably really like a little bit softer of a bubble," she added. What our experts particularly likeBall is a fan of Loredan Gasparini's prosecco. "Inexpensive and available at most grocery stores, this is one of my favorite brunch sparkling wines," she said. "Delicious on its own or great as a mimosa. I suggest fresh-squeezed citrus!" The winesAcinum Extra Dry Prosecco: From the Veneto region of Italy, this prosecco is made from 100% glera grapes. Notes: pear, apple.Adriano Adami Garbel Brut Prosecco: This prosecco from Treviso in Northern Italy is made with glera grapes. Notes: melon, apple.Bisol Jeio Prosecco Superiore: From the Valdobbiadene area of Northern Italy, the Bisol family makes this prosecco from glera grapes. Notes: apple, citrus.La Marca Prosecco: Easy to spot with its pale-blue label, this is a prosecco you can find most anywhere. Notes: apple, lemon.Loredan Gasparini NV Brut Asolo Prosecco Superiore: Made with all glera grapes, this prosecco is from Veneto, Italy. Notes: apple, citrus.Villa Sandi Prosecco il Fresco Brut: Villa Sandi's prosecco comes from the Treviso region in Italy and is made from mostly glera grapes, along with some chardonnay and pinot blanc. Notes: apple, citrus.The best prosecco over $20A few years ago, the prosecco industry was having issues with counterfeit sparkling wine. To try and combat the problem, it created two classifications, Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Both require following strict regulations, but DOCG is more stringent.Not all prosecco — even some nice ones — will have these marks, but they can help guide your selection-making if you're feeling a little lost and want a marker of quality. Keep in mind that taste is subjective, and it doesn't guarantee it will be to your liking, though. The winesBisol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Crede DOCG Brut 2018:  Made from 85% glera grapes, as well as pinot bianco and verdiso, this prosecco is from Valdobbiadene in Italy. Notes: pear, apple.Cà dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo 2018: Mostly made with glera, this prosecco from the Valdobbiadene also has some verdiso, perera, and bianchetta grapes. Notes: lemon, apple.Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene Cartizze Superiore 2018: The Cartizze on this label refers to a specific hilly region known for its quality glera grapes. Notes: peach, floral.Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore: You can sometimes find this 100% glera prosecco for under $20, making it an even better value. Notes: apple, lemon.Rebuli Prosecco Cartizze: From the Cartizze area, like the Col Vetoraz, this prosecco is made completely from glera grapes. Notes: floral, apple.The best cavaThe best cava under $20Penedès, a region of Catalonia, Spain, is known for its sparkling wine called cava. Compared to prosecco, cava is made more similarly to Champagne — aged in bottles. The grapes are very different, though, with many wines being made from a mix of macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. There's a lot of variety when it comes to cava, including vintages and rosés.  Like prosecco, it is much more affordable than Champagne. But just because you can pick up a bottle for $10, it doesn't mean you need to hold your nose and drink. While inexpensive cavas do make great choices for mimosas or bellinis, you can also enjoy them in their own right. What our experts particularly like"[The Naveran Dama Brut] has one of the most delicate mousses and mouthfeel," Ball said. "The bubbles fill your palate with delicious aromas." Marchetti of Riverview Wines & Spirits recommends the line of Azimut wines from Cellers de Can Suriol "for a classic, traditional palate at an affordable price."The winesAnna de Codorníu Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva Cava: Mainly chardonnay, along with some parellada, xarel·lo, and macabeo grapes, this cava is aged at least 15 months. Notes: peach, citrus.Cellers de Can Suriol Azimut Brut Nature Cava: A cava from Penedès, this wine is made with macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. Notes: white fruit, pear.Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava: Macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes make up this cava from Penedès, in Spain. Notes: apple, toast.Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut: Aged for 36 months, this Brut wine from the Penedès region is made from 55% xarel·lo grapes, with some macabeo and parellada grapes as well. Notes: apple, citrus.Naveran Dama Brut Cava: This cava from Penedès has a somewhat unique mix of 85% Chardonnay and 15% parellada grapes. Notes: apple, yeast.Segura Viudas: From Penedès, this cava is made with macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo and is widely distributed in the US. Notes: apple, citrus.The best cava over $20When is a cava not a cava? When the winemaker doesn't want it to be called that. Some producers wanted to designate what they see as their wines' quality, so they've begun labeling their bottles with Corpinnat instead of cava. Raventós i Blanc, meanwhile, uses its own designation for its sparkling wines, Conca del Riu Anoia. This doesn't mean everything still labeled cava is bad. Corpinnat producers make up only a small percentage of winemakers in the region, so there's still plenty of cava to go around. The winesGramona III Lustros Brut Nature 2012: A blend of xarel·lo and macabeo grapes, this wine is aged for 70 months and comes from the Penedès region. Notes: apple, pastry.Raventós i Blanc de la Finca Brut 2016: Located in the Penedès region, Raventós i Blanc makes this sparkling wine from macabeo, xarel·lo, and parellada grapes. Notes: apple, citrus.Recaredo Brut Nature Intens Rosat Cava 2014: This cava is made from monastrell and garnatxa grapes in the Penedès region of Spain. Notes: red fruit, toast.Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava Brut: This Brut from Segura Viudas is made from macabeo and parellada grapes and aged for 30 months. Notes: floral, lemon.The best sparkling wineWhile all of the wines mentioned in this guide are, technically, sparkling wines, the ones mentioned here focus on wines mostly from the United States. The best sparkling wine under $25There are sparkling winemakers all across the United States, all using different methods and grape varieties with unique results. Not only can you find terrific options, but stateside products are also often budget-friendly too."Sparkling wines coming out of Oregon or California are always going to be vastly different than any of the others, because we're so young and so new," said Ball of Dirty Radish. "There's very cool stuff happening all around the country in sparkling wine," Arce said. The problem is, it can be difficult to find Michigan's Mawby wines or sparkling wines from New York's Finger Lakes outside of certain areas. You might have a local winery making a sparkling wine that you fall in love with, so they're worth exploring in addition to some of the more widely distributed brands.Besides US wineries, there are nice options from other winemaking regions such as Australia and New Zealand. For a bit of prestige, Mumm Napa is an affordable sparkling wine made in the traditional style of its parent company, G.H. Mumm of France.What our experts particularly likeThe recommendations for Gruet Sauvage Blanc de Blancs and McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut come from our panel. Sunshine Foss, who owns Happy Cork in Brooklyn, New York, says the McBride Sisters' wine has been popular in her shop because of the name, "but it's also a really, really good sparkling Brut."The winesDomaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV: A blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes, this sparkling wine comes from Washington State. Notes: lemon, mineral. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs Carneros: This California sparkling wine is 100% chardonnay. Notes: apple, lemon. Gruet Sauvage Blanc de Blancs: Made only from chardonnay grapes, Gruet's Sauvage is from New Mexico. Notes: lemon, apple. McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut: This Brut is made from 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot gris grapes, grown in New Zealand. Notes: lemon, floral.Mumm Napa Brut Prestige: Chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris, and pinot meunier grapes make up this Brut wine from California. Notes: apples, bread.The best sparkling wine over $25It's not just US winemakers that have vineyards in California. Some big Champagne houses, like Taittinger Champagne and Louis Roederer, have land in the state. That's why wines from Roederer Estate, for example, are lower than a typical Champagne. Larger producers will often stick to more traditional methods and grapes, while smaller producers might experiment more. Caraccioli Cellars, for example, is a smaller, family-run vineyard in California."The big difference between a big house and a small house (a big producer and a small producer) is how they're handling the wine," Ball said. Smaller operations often lack machinery, so they hand turn or hand riddle the bottles. That's one reason it took some US winemakers a while to get into sparkling wine, she said: "It takes a lot of work."You can find sparkling wines from the United States that cost over $100, for bottles producers have taken extra time and attention with or that come from a particular vintage. There are many quality wines for closer to $50, though. What our experts particularly like"Corollary Wines is the husband and wife duo Dan and Jeanne's passion project," Ball said. The Cuvée One is a mix of grapes from five Oregon vineyards, grown in different soils and climates, and that interest in the varying terroirs of the state comes through in the wine, she said. The winesCorollary Wines Cuvée One: An Oregon wine, it's made with 50% pinot noir, 32% chardonnay, and 18% pinot blanc grapes. Notes: lemon, bread. Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2013: From California's Russian River Valley area, this Brut is made from pinot noir and chardonnay, aged for four years. Notes: apple, floral.J Vineyards Cuvée 20 Brut: Almost half chardonnay grapes, plus pinot noir and some pinot meunier, make up this California sparkling wine. Notes: peach, green apple.Roederer Estate L'Ermitage 2013: Roederer Estate is the California winery from Champagne maker Louis Roederer; this sparkling wine is made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. Notes: apple, toast.Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2018: This blanc de blancs comes from California and is made from 100% chardonnay. Notes: citrus, pastry.The best sparkling wine in a canSometimes you want a glass of bubbles without the glass part, and that's where sparkling wine cans come in. Over the past several years, more and more winemakers have started making more portable versions of their products. You won't find Champagne in a can, but you can still get some great bubbles for on-the-go — or at home. The winesNomadica Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé: Pinot noir grapes make up this sparkling wine from California. Notes: berries, pomegranate. Underwood Rosé Bubbles: Mostly pinot noir with some chardonnay and pinot gris grapes, this wine from Oregon is available in bottle and can form. Notes: strawberry, cherry.The best CrémantCrémants are sparkling wines from eight regions in France — including Loire, Alsace, and Burgundy — and one in Luxembourg. They're made in a similar style as Champagne but are just a fraction of the cost. Some are made with grapes you won't find in Champagne. There's not an easy way to describe the taste, because there's a lot of variety. The prices of many of these sparkling wines are much, much lower than Champagne. "I feel like you can find great value," Ball said. The winesDomaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut: This is a chardonnay crémant from the Jura region of France. Notes: apple, citrus.Domaine J. Laurens Crémant de Limoux Brut Rosé: A rosé, this crémant is a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc, and pinot noir grapes. Notes: cherry, strawberry.Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut: From Alsace, France, this crémant contains pinot auxerrois, pinot blanc, and chardonnay grapes. Notes: pear, floral. Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux: Though many crémants from Limoux contain mauzac grapes, this wine is a blend of mostly chardonnay, plus chenin blanc and pinot noir. Notes: green apple, lemon.Pierre Sparr Crémant d'Alsace Brut Reserve: Eighty percent pinot blanc and 20% pinot auxerrois, this crémant comes from the Alsace region. Notes: apple, citrus.The best sparkling roséThe best sparkling rosé under $20There are several ways to make rosé sparkling, and it's going to taste different depending on many factors. Despite its pretty color, rosé doesn't have to be sweet. As with Champagne, you'll find bottles labeled Brut to be on the drier side. "I think a lot of people think that rosé is maybe something that's going to be sweeter or more fruit-forward, which that category, again, has so many variations within it," said Arce of Air's Champagne Parlor. For under $20, you won't find pink-hued Champagne, but there are lots of cavas and other sparkling rosés from around the world (including other parts of France) at that price. What our experts particularly likeThe experts we spoke to mentioned Landmass Papi Sparkling Rosé, Lve Rosé by John Legend, and Rivarose Brut Rosé as some of their go-to rosés. "It's really delicate," said Effervescence's Hinds of the Rivarose. "It's not overly sparkling." She also said the modern-looking bottle makes it perfect for gifting. The winesCampo Viejo Cava Gran Brut Rosé: Made from 100% trepat grapes, the rosé was aged in the bottle for nine months. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Graham Beck NV Brut Rosé: This rosé from South African winery Graham Beck, a mix of pinot noir and chardonnay, undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle. Notes: raspberry, apple.Landmass Papi Sparkling Rosé: From the Willamette Valley in Oregon, this sparkling rosé is made from tempranillo grapes. Notes: apple, strawberry.Lve Rosé by John Legend: John Legend's Lve rosé is made in the Charmat Method, like prosecco, from mostly unspecified white grapes, along with some pinot noir and grenache grapes. Notes: strawberry, mineral.Mas Fi Cava Brut Rosé: This Spanish cava is made from trepat grapes and is aged for 11 months in the bottle. Notes: cherry, strawberry.Rivarose Brut Rosé: A rosé from the Provence region of France, Rivarose's sparkling wine is a blend of syrah and grenache grapes. Notes: strawberry, pear.Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosé: Segura Viudas' affordable and ubiquitous cava was made from mostly trepat grapes. Notes: strawberry, raspberry.The best sparkling rosé under $50Closer to $50, you can start to find rosé Champagne, but the majority of sparkling wines under that price are from other regions. There are many rosé crémants from France that are around $25, but you can also get bottles from Italy, the US, and elsewhere for a similar price. What our experts particularly like"I would definitely hold [the Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit] up against any of the other sorts of higher-end wines that you would find out of Champagne," said Ball of Dirty Radish. The winesRaventós i Blanc de Nit Rose 2017: A sparkling wine from the Penedès region of Spain, it's made from xarel·lo, macabeo, and parellada, as well as monastrell, which gives the wine its color. Notes: floral, strawberry.Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit: Franck Besson is a unique producer in Beaujolais, France, and this rosé is 100% gamay grapes. Notes: strawberry, cherry.Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé: Pinot noir, chardonnay, and gamay grapes are used to make this wine, which is aged for 12 months. Notes: strawberry, toast.Parigot & Richard Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé: Aged for three years, Parigot & Richard's rosé is made from only pinot noir grapes. Notes: raspberry, mineral.Scharffenberger NV Brut Rosé: From California, Scharffenberger's rosé is nearly evenly split between chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, aged for two years in the bottle. Notes: raspberry, citrus.Schramsberg Brut Rosé: Made in California with mostly pinot noir and some chardonnay grapes, this rosé is aged in the bottle for about two years. Note: strawberry, bread.The best sparkling rosé over $50Just like other Champagnes, you can find bottles of rosé that cost hundreds of dollars, including Krug and Dom Perignon. Vintages and some cuvées will cost more, because winemakers take more care with them, and some of them are aged for longer. For under $100, there are lots of delicious choices from Champagne, as well as many sparkling rosés from elsewhere. The winesBillecart-Salmon Brut Rosé: Chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir grapes make up this rosé from Champagne. Notes: strawberry, orange.Henriot Brut Rosé: Henriot's rosé Champagne is aged for three years and is made from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier grapes. Notes: raspberry, mineral.Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé: A rosé Champagne, this wine is made of 100% pinot noir grapes and aged for five years. Notes: raspberry, brioche.Ruinart NV Brut Rosé: Ruinart's rosé is 55% pinot noir and 45% chardonnay and comes from the Champagne region. Notes: raspberry, spice.Soter 2014 Mineral Springs Brut Rosé Sparkling: Mainly pinot noir with some chardonnay grapes, Soter's Oregon rosé is aged for five years in the bottle. Notes: strawberry, almond.The best pét-natPétillant-naturel (pét-nat) wines are bottled while still undergoing their first fermentation. Some winemakers leave the yeast in the bottle, so the final product will be cloudy, with sediment on the bottom. "Pét-nats have become super-big right now because it's on the sparkling side but it's done in such a natural way," said Sunshine Foss of Happy Cork. The results tend to be less predictable than something like a cuveé, which is reliably blended from known reserves. "A lot of wine geeks love that funky taste, like strawberry cola," said Crystal Hinds. "Some taste like sour beers." You can find many pét-nats for between $20 and $50.What our experts particularly likeHinds recommends both the Kobal Wines rosé and the Les Tètes Nat Igny Rusé ($29): "It's just so beautiful and delicate," she said of the Les Tètes' wine. "You can hardly tell that it's a pét-nat." "Being Italian I'll always have a few prosecco col fondo — the Italian version of pét-nat," said Marchetti of Riverside Wine & Spirits. "Those are old-school, unfiltered prosecco." She suggests offerings from Carolina Gatti and the Col Tamarie, as well as Rodica's sparkling malvasia from Slovenia.The winesAncarani Indigeno Pétillant Naturel 2019: This pét-nat comes from Italy and is made from trebbiano grapes. Notes: citrus, bread.Bichi Pet Mex Pétillant Naturel Rosé: Bichi is a winery in Mexico that doesn't like to reveal what type of grape goes into this pét-nat. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Cambridge Road Naturalist Pétillant Naturel: A New Zealand wine, this pét-nat has riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Notes: pear, citrus.Carolina Gatti Ratatuja: An orange wine from Veneto, Italy, it's a blend of glera, pinot bianco, chardonnay, tocai, and verduzzo grapes. Notes: peach, apricot.Cruse Wine Valdiguié Pétillant Naturel: Made from valdiguié grapes, this pét-nat hails from lauded California winemaker Michael Cruse. Notes: strawberry, tart. Julien Braud La Bulle de l'Ouest Pétillant Brut: Low in alcohol (8%), this French wine is made with 100% melon de Bourgogne grapes. Notes: floral, citrus. Kobal Wines Bajta Blaufränkisch Rosé: This wine from Slovenia is made from blaufränkisch grapes. Notes: strawberry, yeast.Les Tètes Les Parcelles Tète Nat Igny Rusé: From France's Loire Valley, this wine is made from chenin blanc grapes. Notes: floral, cotton candy. Moutard Pet Mout Pétillant Naturel Chardonnay: Moutard makes wines from both Champagne and Burgundy in France, including this chardonnay pét-nat. Notes: citrus, mineral.Onward Wines Pétillant-Naturel Rosé: This pinot noir pét-nat is from California. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Rodica Bela Sparkling Malvasia Brut: From Slovenia's Istrian Peninsula, this pét-nat is 100% malvasia grapes. Notes: white fruit, floral.William Chris Péttilant Naturel Rosé: Texas winery William Chris makes this wine from sangiovese, mourvèdre, cinsault, and trebbiano grapes. Notes: citrus, melon.What is Champagne and sparkling wine?With a few exceptions, Champagne is sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, France. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) oversees production and enforces the strict regulations that govern virtually every aspect of the process."When you're paying for Champagne, you're paying for some of the techniques that are used," said Crystal Hinds, owner of Effervescence. "They can only pick at a certain time. They can only pick so much per hectare."If you pick up a bottle, and it has the word "Champagne" on it, the wine is almost certainly from this region and was made in accordance with the rules. "California Champagne" is quite different and is essentially the product of a loophole.  Cava, prosecco, and other sparkling wines are made from a variety of methods, with different grapes, and in different regions and countries. Consider this glossary a crash course in Champagne 101.  Assemblage: The process of blending wines from different vineyards, grapes, and years. You might see the assemblage listed as a percentage of each type of grape. Blanc de Blancs: It means "white of whites," so these wines are made from all-white grapes; in the Champagne region, this usually means 100% chardonnay. Blanc de Noirs: Noir is French for black, and only red grapes go into these wines, but the resulting wine is still a pale golden color because it uses the juice and not the skin, which is where the reddish color comes from. Brut: In the traditional method, Champagne goes through two fermentations. After the second, winemakers add sugar, which is known as "dosage." Drier, less sweet sparkling wines will have the word "brut" on the label. Here's the scale, from driest to sweetest:Brut Nature 2. Extra brut 3. Brut 4. Extra dry or extra sec 5. Dry or sec 6. Demi-sec 7. Doux Brut Nature: The driest of the dry, brut nature has no added sugar. It may contain some leftover sugar, up to three grams per liter. Cava: Cava is sparkling wine from Spain. However, not all sparkling wine from the country is labeled as such. Compared to prosecco, cava is more similar to Champagne. Winemakers mainly use three varieties of white grapes to make cava: macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo. Champagne, France: This region is in the northeast of the country, about 90 miles from Paris.  Cru: Traditionally, Champagne houses purchased their grapes from growers. There are 319 crus, which are also known as villages or vineyards, in the region. There are some grower-producers that use their own grapes, and so you won't find these designations on some very good bottles of wine. Crémant: Crémants are sparkling wines from France but made outside of the Champagne region. "Crémant is a really great way to go if you're looking for a good glass of sparkling wine, but without the cost of the Champagne tag, if you will," said Chevonne Ball of Dirty Radish.Cuveé: In Champagne-making, the first pressing is considered the best, and it's known as the cuvée. Subsequent pressings are the taille. Some winemakers also call their special blends cuvées, but there's no guarantee that something labeled with that word will be spectacular.   Disgorgement: During riddling, the yeast sediment collects in the neck of the bottle. To get it out, winemakers submerge the neck into a freezing solution. Then they turn the bottles right-side-up, take off the cap, and the carbon dioxide inside pushes the frozen chunk of sediment out. Fermentation: For the second fermentation -- which gives the wine its bubbles -- producers add the liqueur de tirage, a solution of sugar and yeast. Champagne and cava undergo this second fermentation in individual bottles. For prosecco, it happens in a tank, so it's a much less labor-intensive process. Grapes: Some types of sparkling wine use a limited amount of grape varieties. Champagne is most often made from chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Cava is mainly macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. Glera grapes are typically used for prosecco. Lees: After the second fermentation — once the yeast has consumed all the sugar and died — the wine isn't quite ready. Champagne stays in the bottle for at least 15 months before it's released. Non-vintage cuvées stay in the bottle with the lees, or dead yeast deposits, for at least 12 months. Vintage cuvées must rest on the lees for three years, minimum. Liqueur de tirage: The mix of sugar, yeast, and sometimes a bit of wine that producers add to non-sparkling base wine to start the second fermentation. The yeast consumes the sugar, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol.   Méthode Traditionnelle: The traditional method of making Champagne, where the second fermentation takes place inside an individual bottle. Many sparkling wines outside of Champagne are made in this way.       Non-Vintage: The vast majority of Champagne is non-vintage. It's not about how long the wine was aged. Rather, it means that the wine is a blend of different vintages or types of grapes, or it comes from grapes in different vineyards. Using a mix allows winemakers to create a more consistent wine. Prosecco: Prosecco is made in Northeast Italy, primarily using glera grapes. Unlike Champagne, prosecco is made with the Charmat Method. Instead of the second fermentation taking place in individual bottles, it happens in a tank, in larger batches. The method is faster and less expensive, so the resulting wine costs less than Champagne. Pét-nat: Short for pétillant-naturel, this style of sparkling wine has grown in popularity over the past several years. Non-sparkling wine undergoes a single fermentation when yeast transforms sugar into alcohol. The CO2 is released, so the wine is still instead of bubbly. With pét-nats, winemakers bottle up the wine during this first fermentation, retaining some of the CO2. Riddling: To get the yeast sediment into the neck of the bottle, winemakers slowly tip the bottle so the bottom is up. It can take a week or months, depending on the quality (and eventual price) of the wine.  Rosé: There are a few ways to make sparkling rosé or rosé champagne. Winemakers may add still (unsparkling) red wine to give some color or they may "bleed" juice from tanks of macerating grapes that will be used for red wine. Even when it's described with words like fruity, rosé can still be dry. Sec: On the scale from driest to sweetest, Sec is on the sweeter side, while brut has less sugar.Sparkling wine: Champagne, cava, and prosecco are all sparkling wines. They all have bubbles. You can find sparkling wines from practically anywhere. They may be made with different methods and different grapes, which is why they are priced and taste differently. Terroir: When people discuss terroir, they mean the climate, soil, grape varieties, landscape, and other factors that make wines distinct. Vintage: Vintage wines come from grapes harvested in a single year. That year will be on the label, so it's easy to tell vintages and non-vintages apart. These are the wines people buy and store in cellars. Non-vintages are meant to be drunk right off the shelf.Advice from our expertsFor our guide, we consulted four experts (from left to right): Sunshine Foss, Ariel Arce, Chevonne Ball, Crystal Hinds, and Laura Marchetti (not shown).Happy Cork/Universe/Dirty Radish/EffervescenceTo help us narrow down some selections of Champagne and sparkling wines, we spoke with five experts and got advice and recommendations for choosing what to drink. Drink what you like: "Prior to even this new wave of making wine more accessible, people thought, 'Okay, well you have to have this vocabulary to be able to speak to the wine and understand the wine.' For me, it's just really about how it tastes and what I like to drink," said Sunshine Foss, owner of Happy Cork in Brooklyn, New York. Sometimes, smaller is better: "I don't think like you have to go to that $150 splurge point to find a good bottle of Champagne," said Ariel Arce, who's been called the "Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village" by the New York Times. For $65 to $80, she said you can get a nice bottle from a smaller producer, who both grows the grapes and makes the wine. She owns Air's Champagne Parlor in New York City and wrote the book "Better with Bubbles: An Effervescent Education in Champagnes & Sparkling Wines."Taste a lot: "There's not really a way to learn about wine other than to try it and to taste it," said Chevonne Ball, who owns Dirty Radish, a travel company that specializes in wine tours. Look outside of Champagne and France: "That's one of the fun things that we do, is look for these different sparkling wines from different countries and give it a try," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence, a sparkling wine lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. Try to be a little extroverted: "If visiting a boutique wine shop, I'd ask what the staff is drinking right now," said Laura Marchetti, owner of Riverview Wine & Spirits in Jersey City, New Jersey. "Ask what's new and exciting and what wines their go-to wines are. Once you get the staff pumped up, it's often hard to get them to stop working for you." She knows this can be intimidating for some, but she adds that she's an introvert as well.How to choose what Champagne or sparkling wine to buyFG Trade/Getty ImagesTo gather our lists of recommendations, we consulted our panel of experts and looked at expert lists of best Champagnes, sparkling wines, cavas, proseccos, crémants, and more from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Food and Wine, Decanter, Wine Folly, The New York Times, and The Chicago Tribune. If you feel overwhelmed in the store or while searching online, here are some things to keep in mind. Start with the price: If you must have Champagne from France, the cheapest bottle is going to cost around $40. Sunshine Foss, who owns Happy Cork in Brooklyn, said she thinks people should also be flexible on price. "You might come in saying, 'Okay, I'm going to spend $50 on a bottle,' but you might get two or three bottles for that price that are all going to be amazing," she said.Buy by brand: If you definitely, definitely want to buy Champagne but are still stumped, you can look at some well-known brands and feel confident about what you're getting. "It's not my first recommendation, but I do think there are certain brands that make an incredibly consistent and quality product," said Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor. She recommends Charles Heidsieck, Bollinger, Philipponnat, Henriot, and Delamotte. "Those are five really beautiful houses, all of which are going to have their non-vintage Brut at an affordable price point," she said.  Look outside Champagne: There's cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy, but South Africa, England, Brazil, Australia, and lots of other countries are also in the sparkling wine business. "You're going to be tasting different grapes, like a malbec or like a blaufränkisch, grapes you've never even heard of, something different than the chardonnay and pinot noir and pinot meunier," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence. "You won't compare them as much to Champagne if you're tasting a totally different grape." Don't expect all sparkling wine to taste like Champagne: "There's nothing worse, in my opinion, than sparkling wines that are trying to compete with a region that's been making wine for hundreds of years," Arce said. "I think American sparkling is more fun when it's made in its own way, with its own unique grapes." Compared to France, Oregon, California, and other states are newer to making sparkling wine. "It's different soil. It's different terroir," said Ball, who owns Dirty Radish. "It's different grapes, and the rules are different. So we have a lot more freedom here because we have less of the regulations than they do in something like France."But if you do want something similar to Champagne: There are plenty of winemakers that use Champagne-style methods outside of the region. They'll label their bottles with méthode Champenoise or méthode traditionnelle. They'll also use the same grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. "I really liked the wine from Caraccioli Cellars, if you're looking for something to be similar to champagne," said Arce.What are vegan, organic, biodynamic, and natural wines?Kurga/Getty ImagesWhile you might assume all wines are vegan, some winemakers clarify their wines with egg whites, gelatin, or other animal products. Wines labeled vegan will instead use clay or charcoal for this process. US organic wines, certified by the USDA, are made without synthetic fertilizers, and the yeast and other additives must all be organic. If a US wine is labeled "made with organic grapes," then the yeast and additives might not be organic. The European Union follows similar guidelines for its organic wines, but they might contain more sulfites. Other countries may have different practices. Biodynamic winemakers follow many organic practices, but their wines may contain more sulfites. They also follow a strict calendar when certain tasks like pruning or watering take place. Natural wines are low-intervention, so the producers don't add yeast or sulfites. These are often made in smaller batches.What's your palate? A crash course on tasting notesProbably one of the most difficult ways for newcomers to wine is figuring out what they do and don't like based on taste. After a few tries, they might realize whether they're fans of dry or sweet, but it can be hard to distinguish apple or citrus notes, then articulate what it is that's appealing or off-putting."Sometimes, people don't even know what their palate is," said Sunshine Foss of Happy Cork. Some will assume dry means bitter, for example. "They'll tell me, 'Oh, I don't want a dry wine, but then they'll point to something that they've already had, and it's like one of the driest wines," she said. Brut wines will be on the drier side, while dry, sec, and doux will be sweeter."I'll ask about style and price point, if it's for just sipping or also meant to go with food," said Laura Marchetti, who owns Riverview Wine & Spirits. "However, usually the key is to engage with the person, to get them to do the talking in their own language and then for us to decipher from there.""A lot of times, you break down people's first experiences by asking them just simple questions,  like, "Do you like something a little bit fresher and brighter or something with more fruits?'" said Ariel Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor. "And then if you liked something on the lighter end, 'Can we dabble into flavors of berries, apples, and pears? Do we like minerals and lemon zest?'" All those questions will help a professional track down something you'll love, but you can start by paying attention to what you like when there's a bottle actually open in front of you. "You're on your phone all the time throughout dinner, so why not take a quick note, take a quick photo of that wine?" said Chevonne Ball, owner of Dirty Radish. If there's something you can pinpoint about what you like, that will be helpful for the next time you go into a wine shop, but it's not necessary. "It doesn't have to be very specific," she said. "It doesn't have to be lemon zest and lavender fields and blah, blah, blah." The more you taste sparkling wine, the better you'll be at distinguishing what you like. It's the only way to learn, said Ball: "You don't know that you like your burgers medium rare until you've had a medium-rare burger."What should I eat with Champagne?Marija Babic/EyeEm/Getty ImagesChampagne and sparkling wine has long been associated with celebrations. That means people often think the meal they eat with their wine needs to be special, too. That's not the case, according to Chevonne Ball and Crystal Hinds."I dare you to find one thing that doesn't go with Champagne," Ball said. "You can't — it goes with everything." Hinds agrees. Unlike red or white wines that pair well with select foods, "everything goes with sparkling wine," she said. "You can go through your entire meal with sparkling wine." But you can also open a bag of potato chips. At her sparkling wine lounge, Effervescence, Hinds takes housemade chips and pairs them crème-fraîche, chives, and caviar. The bar also serves popcorn with nutritional yeast, paprika, and olive oil. "Even plain popcorn with a little salt and butter is delicious with bubbles," she said. Hinds also recommends pairing sparkling wine with fried foods. "The acid in the bubbles cut through the grease and the fried tastes and the fat, and it goes beautifully with the fried chicken," she said. "I would have a glass of something with a big plate of onion rings and be just fine."Hinds gave a few suggestions for wine and food pairings. Jean Vesselle Brut Oeil de Perdrix NV ($54 to $60): "This particular wine, which is 100% pinot noir, carries me from an appetizer of warm brie to turkey, beef, or pork and on to dessert — if it lasts that long," Hinds said. "I poured from a magnum this year. It was that kind of year."Claude Branger "L'éClipse" Méthode Traditionnelle ($19): "For an everyday bubbly to pair with the raw oysters, I pull a bottle of Claude Branger's L'éClipse, which is made entirely from melon de Bourgogne," Hinds said. "We at Effervescence call it the oyster wine."  Gusbourne Brut Reserve ($48): "Of course when I want to impress a special guest with something new and amazing, I pair the Gusbourne Brut Reserve (2013) from Sussex, England," Hinds said. "It usually surprises our guests that it is not from Champagne, France, but England." Peter Lauer Riesling Sekt Brut Réserve ($66 to $99): "Lastly, I find Peter Lauer's Riesling Sekt Brut Réserve from Saar, Germany the perfect bubble for most of our desserts, which are seasonal and made in house. They are not usually overly sweet," Hinds said. "The Peter Lauer has a hint of ripe apricot and peach, with lime and slight biscuit notes that complemented our Citrus and Crème dessert (makrut lime meringue, pistachio, satsuma, Tahitian vanilla whipped cream) perfectly."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

58 thoughtful gift ideas for friends under $100, from cult-favorite skincare to an adult coloring book

Buying gifts for friends is a thoughtful way to show them how much you care. Here are 58 gift ideas for your friend, all for less than $100. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Airbnb Whether it's your friend's birthday or you simply want to say thank you, they deserve the best. We rounded up 58 gifts, each under $100, that your special friend will treasure. Want more gift ideas? Check out all Insider Reviews gift guides here. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Friends are the ones you rely upon, confide in, and plague with everything from menu choices to whether or not you should move across the country for a new job. So, when gifting occasions roll around, it can be difficult to find something adequately thoughtful to give to that important person — especially within the relatively affordable under-$100 range.To make things easier for you, we put together a list of unique, thoughtful gifts your friend would love to receive — all for less than $100.Below are 58 gifts under $100 your friends actually want:This list includes Sponsored Products that have been suggested by Function of Beauty. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*A portable, Bluetooth record playerAmazonVictrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Portable Suitcase Record Player, available at Amazon, $56.58If they love vintage goods, this record player is the perfect gift to add to their collection. The record player features built-in Bluetooth compatibility and a portable design that offers a modern twist on this retro staple.Customizable haircareFunction of BeautyCustom Shampoo and Conditioner, available at Function of Beauty, from $29.99Function of Beauty revolutionizes haircare by creating a custom line of shampoo and conditioner that's based on hair type and goals. They can choose the formula's color and fragrance as well as add personalized details like their name on the bottle. If they choose to subscribe, their first bottle will be 30% off and shipping is free. Read our full review of Function of Beauty here.*Sponsored by Function of BeautyA set of friendship lightsUrban OutfittersBrookstone Friendship Lamp Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $89.95If your close friend lives far away, let them know you're always thinking of them with this friendship light. Your friend will know you haven't forgotten them by tapping your light to instantly activate their twin light.A luxurious lavender scent perfumeNordstromYves Saint Laurent Libre Fragrance, available at Sephora, from $30A designer perfume like this Saint Laurent fragrance is a fitting gift for a friend who enjoys luxurious items. The floral fragrance's bold lavender scent appeals to the confident friend who's daring and always lives true to herself.A gold bracelet with her favorite football teamBaublebarNFL x Baublebar Gold Pisa Bracelet, available at Baublebar, $30Even if you don't share in your friend's enthusiasm for sports, this sports team bracelet shows you get them. Match the bracelet with their favorite team to help them be prepared for the next game day outfit.A relaxing weighted blanketAmazonLuna Weight Blanket, available at Amazon, $76.99For the friend who's constantly working or just needs a chance to unwind, a weighted blanket can make all the difference. We love this one because it's wallet-friendly but still made from quality materials like Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and natural glass beads. A scent tied to a favorite placeAmazonHomesick candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34For your old college roommate or your friend who's taken a job across the country, this candle is a sweet reminder of home.A planner to help them stay organizedRifle Paper Co.2022 17-Month Large Planner, available at Rifle Paper Co., $28.80Your Type A friend will thank you for this planner and its neat, detailed layout. The 17-month design means they can finish out this year and be set for the new year. Plus, two pages of colorful stickers can help liven up the notes, weekly, and monthly planning pages.A neoprene makeup bag from a cool startup they'll loveDagne DoverHunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is one of our all-time favorite handbag companies, and most of that has to do with quality, style, and unmatched attention to detail. The Hunter bag comes in six colors of water-resistant neoprene. It has helpful features like elastic lip gloss loops, slip pockets and a removable zipper pouch for compacts and shadows, and a smooth lining that's easily cleaned. Zipper tabs can be unsnapped to adjust the shape, too. A playful earbud pouch for that one forgetful friendBagguPuffy Earbuds Case, available at Baggu, $15If you have a friend who tends to lose their AirPods or earbuds all too often, this unique case attaches straight onto their keyring. Plus, it's quilted, padded, and machine washable. The pouch fastens with Velcro and comes in fun colors and patterns like leopard print and stripe.A phone case and wallet all-in-oneNomadRugged Folio, available at Nomad, $69.95You might have a friend who doesn't like carrying around bulky wallets and would rather keep it simple and sleek. This leather folio case sports three card slots and one cash slot, and also has a new internal shock absorption bumper that protects against 10-foot drops. Best of all, it's made of Horween leather, which ages and appears more rugged as time passes. A Fitbit for the activity tracker newcomerFitbitFitbit Inspire 2, available at Walmart, $79.95If they're contemplating joining the Fitbit bandwagon, they'll appreciate this uncomplicated activity tracker that monitors their exercise, sleep, and heart rate. It's slimmer than its counterparts, but still lasts for 10 days, has 20+ different exercise modes, and receives basic smartphone notifications.A high-tech towel that's better for their hairAQUISAquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. It also prevents hygral fatigue — the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz and damage — by cutting the hair's drying time by 50%.Their favorite specialty food straight from the sourceGoldbelly/InstagramOrder their favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $27Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. A book of witty, quirky postcardsAmazon/Business Insider'Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care,' available at Amazon, $12.95"Friendship Maintenance" adds a more personal touch to the frequent check-ins you're probably already having with one another. The witty postcards weave in themes of friendship in a hilariously relatable way.A tie-dye kitAmazon/Business InsiderJust My Style Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $6.09Tie-dye has made a resurgence: It's a socially distant (or virtual) activity that friends can enjoy together. They'll appreciate this affordable tie-dye kit that will provide them with enough dye for up to 12 projects.A gift card to a popular wine subscription clubWincGift Card, available at Winc, from $60Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions. A custom note with a surprise insideGreetabl/Business InsiderGreetabl Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $15Greetabl is one of the Insider Reviews team's favorite modes of checking in on those we love. The customizable box includes a fun print, a spot for a personal message, and the selection of a small gift like Sugarfina treats or quirky pins. An upgrade to the classic travel pillowAmazonTrtl Pillow Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow, available at Amazon, $32.99One of the best gifts for frequent travelers is a genuinely supportive neck pillow. The super-soft fleece of the Trtl holds the neck and head in an ergonomic position during flight, and it's lightweight — weighing only about a half a pound — so it won't weigh them down too much. Read our full review of the pillow here. There's also a newer, slightly more expensive version that we like too. A hilarious collection of Tinder exchanges that, altogether, become one modern horror storyAmazon/Business Insider"Tinder Nightmares," available on Amazon, $14.95"Tinder Nightmares" is a modern horror story of Tinder exchanges organized by theme, with chapters such as Bad English, Broetry, Strange Requests, Sneak Attacks, and more. The Instagram account of the same name has nearly 2 million followers. But beware — like Tinder, this book is not for the faint of heart. A set of the best socks they'll ever wearBombasWomen's Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Original Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, from $47.50Bombas' ankle socks have extra blister tabs to prevent chafing, a honeycomb arch-support system to cradle the foot's arch, and a seamless toe that gets rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes of most socks. Currently, you can save 20% off your first order with code COMFORT20.A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the mapBook of the MonthThree Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99This subscription gift was handcrafted for bookworms. Book of the Month has been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye." A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep.If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).A makeup and skincare subscriptionBirchboxThree Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $45Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products so subscribers can find products they love without committing to buying full-sized anything in the meantime. It's also a monthly excuse for them to treat themselves.An insulated stainless steel water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hoursAmazonDouble Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug (12 oz), available at Amazon, from $26.40This double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel mug is especially perfect for commuters who would rather drink hot coffee than room-temperature for the 45 minutes on the subway — or any other time. We're big fans, and it does a pretty incredible job of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to six hours. A gimmicky-seeming nail polish holder they'll actually wind up usingAmazon/Business InsiderTweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder, available on Amazon, $9.99Finding a convenient spot to place an open bottle of sticky, vibrant, and fast-drying liquid while you paint your nails is not easy. This $10 nail polish holder looks gimmicky, but it's actually pretty useful. A funny adult coloring bookAmazonWine Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $5.99Adult coloring has had a resurgence in recent years as a great de-stressor (even Kate Middleton is a fan). It turns out, though, that adult coloring is even more fun with adult beverages. Here's one that combines both. A brass and wood display box that's a bit cooler than the average picture frameArtifact UprisingBrass & Wood Display Box, available at Artifact Uprising, from $57Artifact Uprising's brass and hardwood Display Box is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional picture frame. They can showcase their favorite picture by sliding it into the front of the box, and the box itself can hold up to 50 five-inch by five-inch Square Prints inside.If you're just looking for prints, you can find those starting at $9 here.A renewing honey mask that warms up while it's on their faceSephoraHoney Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, available at Amazon, from $38This intensely hydrating mask from beauty brand Farmacy is infused with antioxidants to leave the skin looking glowy and plump. It also physically warms up while on the face, so the self care feels a bit more tangible. A silk pillowcase for smoother hair and less breakageAmazonCelestial Silk 100% Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, $40.99This Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's nearly $40 on Amazon, but it gives you more silk per square inch than options twice the price at Sephora. It's made out of 100% Mulberry silk — one of the highest quality silks you can buy — and comes in more than 25 colors and three sizes: standard, queen, and king. It's the one I personally own, and it makes a big difference for frizzy hair. A poetry book that has become a phenomenonUrban Outfitters/Business InsiderMilk and Honey, available at Target, from $7.38Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" is a New York Times bestseller and a small cultural phenomenon. It's a collection of poetry and prose dealing with love, loss, femininity, and survival. If they already have this, you may want to look into Cleo Wade's "Where to Begin" here.A yoga mat towel with skid-less technology made by a trusted companyAmazonManduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $58Manduka consistently makes some of the best yoga gear on the market, and its cult-favorite Yogitoes mat towels aren't an exception — they'd probably be the main response if you asked around yoga studios for a mat towel recommendation. They have patented skid-less technology that uses 100% silicone nubs, and it makes a big difference. Each Yogitoes towel is also made from at least eight recycled plastic water bottles, and the dyes used to make it are free of azo, lead, or heavy metal.A vitamin C serum developed by MIT scientists that keeps selling outMaeloveGlow Maker, available at Maelove, $29.95Maelove is a skincare company founded by a team of MIT grads (skincare obsessives, brain and cancer researchers, and chemical engineers) to make affordable, high-quality skincare accessible. The entire under-$30 line is supposedly great, but this $28 vitamin C serum (which people have likened to the multi-award-winning $166 C E Ferulic Serum) is the real showstopper — and it keeps selling out. I've tried it, and it does a great job of reducing hyperpigmentation, hydrating, and adding a "glow" to the skin.Read our full Maelove review here. A monogrammed leather passport caseLeatherologyStandard Passport Cover, available at Leatherology, from $50For the world traveler, adventure companion, or person who has a lot of places left to see before they're satisfied, this leather passport cover is one of the best mixes of quality for price you're bound to find. You can also personalize your gift further with a monogram (starting as an extra $10). Every time they use it, they'll think of you. A super soft $75 cashmere sweater from a sustainable startupNaadamThe Essential Cashmere Sweater, available at Naadam, $75This $75 cashmere sweater is one of the best I've worn, and it took me by surprise for $75. You can get it in either crew-neck or V-neck styles, unisex sizing, and 20 colors. In person, the cashmere is one of the softest I've felt.Plus, Naadam is a sustainable startup. They avoid toxic chemicals, invest in sustainable grazing practices, fund better vaccination programs for healthier goats, and use 100% clean energy to power production facilities. By cutting out middlemen, they pay nomadic herders about 50% more and charge about 50% less to customers without changing quality.A new book by the co-creator of "Broad City"Amazon/Business InsiderI Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff, available at Amazon, $12.44This book by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of "Broad City", deals with love, loss, work, comedy, and identity. A soft, durable pair of slippers they'll want to live inNordstromUGG Ansley Water Resistant Slipper, available at Nordstrom, $100They're not a new name, but UGG slippers have stuck around for a very good reason: they're incredibly soft, durable, and made really well. The sole is sturdy enough to withstand walks to the mailbox, and the water-resistant material can take a little gross winter slush on the way there.If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, check out Minnetonka — we're big fans of their mix of price and quality, too.An award-winning at-home facialSephoraDrunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This now-legendary AHA and BHA at-home "facial" gently resurfaces the skin to remove built-up dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. It's also won multiple notable beauty awards, including a Best of Beauty from Allure and Reader's Choice from InStyle in 2017. For more skincare products, check out the best luxury skincare on Amazon and best gifts from Sephora here.Popular leggings they can wear anywhereOutdoor VoicesOutdoor Voices Core 3/4 Leggings, available at Outdoor Voices, $88It seems like everyone and their best friend is talking about Outdoor Voices leggings, and these are the company's most sweat-friendly option. A card game to play with other friends to rehash favorite stories and learn some new onesAmazon/Business InsiderThe Voting Game Adult Card Game, available at Target, $19.99The Voting Game is basically a card game that gives you a funny prompt and invites you to anonymously answer "Who's the most likely to..." out of your friends. It's a great way to rehash your favorite memories and learn new stories.A mug with a "coffee reading" tarot-inspired themeSociety6/Business InsiderCoffee Reading, available at Society6, $16.15Perfect for the avid coffee drinker or casual fan of the occult, this ceramic mug made by the independent artists of Society6 is a fun — and useful — gift. They've also got pretty much every mug pattern you could want.A cult-favorite sleeping lip maskSephoraLaneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22Laneige's hyper-popular overnight lip mask smooths and moisturizes with vitamin C and antioxidants. Currently, it has over 14,000 reviews and a rating of 4.4-stars on Sephora. A cocktail recipe book that pairs music with good drinksAmazon/Business InsiderBooze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Amazon, $18.41Have a friend that loves music and a nice cocktail? This pairs both for a perfect combination every time. The guide includes music from 70 albums, ranging from the '50s to the '00s, with an accompanying A-side and B-side cocktail for each — all organized by mood. A tiny waffle makerAmazon/Business InsiderDash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $9.99This mini waffle maker may seem more gimmick than substance, but it didn't garner 2,000+ reviews just for being pretty cute. It's compact for small kitchens and people who only want to make three waffles rather than buffet quantities, and it's really easy to clean.A screw-on top that turns a wine bottle into a glassAmazon/Business InsiderGuzzle Buddy Wine Bottle Glass, available on Amazon, $14.99If they're more of a "one bottle per person" vino drinker, why not cut out the middleman with this twist-on bottle-to-glass helper? The personal diary of icon Frida KahloAmazon"The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", available at Amazon, $32In the last 10 years of her life, Friday Kahlo kept a journal full of thoughts, poems, illustrations, and dreams. This is it, and it's a particularly perfect gift for an artistic or feminist friend. Machine-washable sneakers they'll wear all the timeAllbirdsWool Runners, available at Allbirds, $110Soft, lightweight, breathable shoes that wick away moisture and can be tossed in a machine washer when they get dirty — what's not to love? A guard to keep away hot, messy splatterAmazon/Business InsiderFrywall 10 Splatter Guard, available at Sur La Table, $13.99A splatter guard gives you the benefit of an uncovered pan, minus the countertop cleaning and dodging of hot, popping oil.An elegant, unobtrusive diffuser that smells greatSnoweDiffuser, available at Snowe, $40Snowe's Diffuser has the advantage of looking more like home decor than a diffuser, but it also fills the room with a wonderful smell. Plus, the bottles of scent tend to last for months. Pick it up for a friend in five scent options that range from Speak Easy (leather, bitters, burnt cedar) to Pillow Talk (sandalwood, ginger, lavender). A beautiful candle that smells amazingOtherlandManor House Weekend Candle, available at Otherland, $36Otherland is a candle company started by Ralph Lauren's former art buyer, Abigail Cook Stone. If you want to give your friend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from an up-and-coming startup that they've probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option.Read our full Otherland review here.A Tile with a replaceable battery to help them find missing keys and walletsAmazonTile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2 Pack, available at Target, $55.99Few gifts are going to be as useful as a Tile Pro with a replaceable battery. It'll help them find missing items like keys and wallets. An app on their phone can trigger the Tile to ring out so they can locate where they accidentally left their belongings. Luxurious bodycare productsNecessarieNécessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25Nécessaire is a line of bodycare products that use vitamins and plant-based oils. It was founded by Randi Christiansen, a former Estée Lauder vice president, and Nick Axelrod, a co-founder of Into the Gloss, the editorial site that preceded Glossier. Read our full Nécessaire review here.A cute plant in a ceramic pot delivered to their doorThe SillShop plants and accessories at The Sill, from $5A plant from The Sill will come in a small ceramic pot with a drainage hole and its own saucer. It comes potted in the company's potting mix and will be delivered to their doorstep. A rechargeable batteryAmazonAnker PowerCore 10000, available at Amazon, $34.99Anker's PowerCore is a powerful, compact external battery that can provide nearly three and a half iPhone 8 charges or two and a half Galaxy S8 charges. A subscription to K-beauty sheet masksFacetory/FacebookFacetory Gift Subscription Plan, available at Facetory, from $19.90Facetory is an affordable monthly subscription to various K-beauty sheet masks. You can opt to pay for one, three, six, nine, or 12 months at a time. A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the goMark & GrahamLeather Charger Roll Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $24.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free.A box of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolateAmazonChuao Chocolatier Share the Love 36-Piece Gift Set, available at Amazon, $52.99A box stuffed full of chocolate needs no introduction, but this one is a pretty good deal. The box comes with 36 mini bars of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate, all made in small batches and free of artificial flavors. The 14 flavors range from sweet to savory, and each bar is only 60 calories. A ClassPass gift cardClass PassGift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amountStart heading to more boutique fitness classes with your friend by making them easier and cheaper to attend. ClassPass lets you drop in to different specialized studios for $15 or less per class.A class or experience for you to take togetherAirbnbCheck out local Airbnb ExperiencesCheck out local GrouponsThrough Airbnb Experiences, you can book an experience like a pasta-making class, brewery tour, or local tour that the two of you can enjoy together. Plus, you can buy this gift as last-minute as you like.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 4th, 2022

See inside this 105,000-square-foot Los Angeles megamansion that could go up for auction for $250 million next month

The 105,000-square-foot Los Angeles mansion, called The One Bel Air, reportedly has 21 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, and more. An aerial view of "The One Bel Air", a 105,000-square-foot mansion with a sky deck and putting green, night club, several swimming pools, a 50-seat theater, a four-lane bowling alley and more by Nile Niami of Skyline Development and designed by Paul McClean (McClean Design). The One is shown by court-appointed receiver Ted Lanes, who now controls the property and is in charge of finding a buyer and paying off the lenders and other creditors, gives a tour of The One, the 105,000 square foot house on sale in Bel Air. This is apparently the largest home for sale in the United States. The developer Nial Niami "listed" it for $500 million but got into financial trouble and was foreclosed upon by Don Hankey. Photo taken in Bel Air on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The One Bel Air is a 105,000-square-foot megamansion said to be the biggest modern home in the US. It was once marketed for $500 million but could be up for auction for $250 million next month, the LA Times reports. It reportedly has 21 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, a nightclub, and more. See more stories on Insider's business page. A sprawling Los Angeles megamansion believed to be the biggest modern home in the US could be yours next month for the cool price of $250 million.Known as The One Bel Air, the property, which is still under construction, comes from film producer-turned-real estate developer Nile Niami, who initially hoped to sell it for a whopping $500 million, which would have made it one of the most expensive homes in the world.In recent weeks, however, Niami's company, Crestlloyd, announced it may put the megamansion up for auction starting at $250 million in January, according to The Los Angeles Times.It comes with 21 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms, according to Architectural Digest. It also boasts amenities like a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, a 50-car garage, 50-person movie theater, nightclub, cigar room, sky deck, putting green, salon, bowling alley, and more, according to the LA Times.Here's a look inside the enormous mansion: At 105,000 square feet, the mansion is believed to be the biggest modern home in the US, according to the Los Angeles Times.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIt's called The One Bel Air and boasts 21 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms, according to Architectural Digest.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIts developer, Nile Niami, initially hoped to sell it for $500 million.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIn the mansion's sprawling yard, you'll find a sculpture from Italian glass maker Simone Cenedese.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesHere's the main entrance to the property.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesInside, the mansion's foyer has a rotating sculpture and floor-to-ceiling windows.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIn the dining room, you'll find a 10,000-bottle wine cellar.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThere's plenty of space to lounge around in the family living room.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesFor some pampering, there's a hair and beauty salon.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe salon seems to be one of the more vibrantly colored rooms in the mansion, with glossy red walls.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe mansion also boasts an entertainment room with its own bar.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesNext to the entertainment room, there's a private bowling alley.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIt has four lanes, several shelves of bowling shoes at the ready, and bowling balls oddly evocative of Trix cereal.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesFor even more active recreation, the property's future residents can take advantage of the mansion's private nightclub.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesOr, for less active leisure, there's a private 50-seat movie theater.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe One's 4,000-square-foot master bedroom has a walk-in closet with plenty of space for clothes, shoes, and accessories.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe mansion's future owners will find room for plenty of books in their private library, which has its own balcony.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesMultiple swimming pools dot the property.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThere's this one indoors, in a room with a living wall and a mirror on the ceiling...Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images...and these two outdoors, one of which is on the rooftop of a 4,000-square-foot bedroom...Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images...while the other is above the private nightclub.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesAnother pool functions as a floating lounge.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThough the home was built in the last decade, it has taken a cue from the construction of centuries past with its moat surrounding the entire property.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesVisitors to the mansion can have the guest house to themselves.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe guest house also has floor-to-ceiling windows...Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images...and three bedrooms on its own.An interior view of three-bedroom guest house at The One Bel Air, a 105,000-square-foot mansion with a sky deck and putting green, night club, several swimming pools, a 50-seat theater, a four-lane bowling alley and more by Nile Niami of Skyline Development and designed by Paul McClean (McClean Design). The One is shown by court-appointed receiver Ted Lanes, who now controls the property and is in charge of finding a buyer and paying off the lenders and other creditors, gives a tour of The One, the 105,000 square foot house on sale in Bel Air. This is apparently the largest home for sale in the United States. The developer Nial Niami "listed" it for $500 million but got into financial trouble and was foreclosed upon by Don Hankey. Photo taken in Bel Air on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesLawrence Perkins, manager at Niami's Crestlloyd, has said the company is still "going back and forth" over the listing price but that it's expected to be around $250 million, according to the LA Times.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images"Our goal is to run a thoughtful sale process to maximize the value from the small group of people in the world that can buy a property like this," Perkins said.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 27th, 2021

A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors Could Hold the Key to a Green Future

On a conference-room whiteboard in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jacob DeWitte sketches his startup’s first product. In red marker, it looks like a beer can in a Koozie, stuck with a crazy straw. In real life, it will be about the size of a hot tub, and made from an array of exotic materials,… On a conference-room whiteboard in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jacob DeWitte sketches his startup’s first product. In red marker, it looks like a beer can in a Koozie, stuck with a crazy straw. In real life, it will be about the size of a hot tub, and made from an array of exotic materials, like zirconium and uranium. Under carefully controlled conditions, they will interact to produce heat, which in turn will make electricity—1.5 megawatts’ worth, enough to power a neighborhood or a factory. DeWitte’s little power plant will run for a decade without refueling and, amazingly, will emit no carbon. ”It’s a metallic thermal battery,” he says, coyly. But more often DeWitte calls it by another name: a nuclear reactor. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Fission isn’t for the faint of heart. Building a working reactor—even a very small one—requires precise and painstaking efforts of both engineering and paper pushing. Regulations are understandably exhaustive. Fuel is hard to come by—they don’t sell uranium at the Gas-N-Sip. But DeWitte plans to flip the switch on his first reactor around 2023, a mere decade after co-founding his company, Oklo. After that, they want to do for neighborhood nukes what Tesla has done for electric cars: use a niche and expensive first version as a stepping stone toward cheaper, bigger, higher-volume products. In Oklo’s case, that means starting with a “microreactor” designed for remote communities, like Alaskan villages, currently dependent on diesel fuel trucked, barged or even flown in, at an exorbitant expense. Then building more and incrementally larger reactors until their zero-carbon energy source might meaningfully contribute to the global effort to reduce fossil-fuel emissions. At global climate summits, in the corridors of Congress and at statehouses around the U.S., nuclear power has become the contentious keystone of carbon reduction plans. Everyone knows they need it. But no one is really sure they want it, given its history of accidents. Or even if they can get it in time to reach urgent climate goals, given how long it takes to build. Oklo is one of a growing handful of companies working to solve those problems by putting reactors inside safer, easier-to-build and smaller packages. None of them are quite ready to scale to market-level production, but given the investments being made into the technology right now, along with an increasing realization that we won’t be able to shift away from fossil fuels without nuclear power, it’s a good bet that at least one of them becomes a game changer. If existing plants are the energy equivalent of a 2-liter soda bottle, with giant, 1,000-megawatt-plus reactors, Oklo’s strategy is to make reactors by the can. The per-megawatt construction costs might be higher, at least at first. But producing units in a factory would give the company a chance to improve its processes and to lower costs. Oklo would pioneer a new model. Nuclear plants need no longer be bet-the-company big, even for giant utilities. Venture capitalists can get behind the potential to scale to a global market. And climate hawks should fawn over a zero-carbon energy option that complements burgeoning supplies of wind and solar power. Unlike today’s plants, which run most efficiently at full blast, making it challenging for them to adapt to a grid increasingly powered by variable sources (not every day is sunny, or windy), the next generation of nuclear technology wants to be more flexible, able to respond quickly to ups and downs in supply and demand. Engineering these innovations is hard. Oklo’s 30 employees are busy untangling the knots of safety and complexity that sent the cost of building nuclear plants to the stratosphere and all but halted their construction in the U.S. ”If this technology was brand-‘new’—like if fission was a recent breakthrough out of a lab, 10 or 15 years ago—we’d be talking about building our 30th reactor,” DeWitte says. But fission is an old, and fraught, technology, and utility companies are scrambling now to keep their existing gargantuan nuclear plants open. Economically, they struggle to compete with cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar, often subsidized by governments. Yet climate-focused nations like France and the U.K. that had planned to phase out nuclear are instead doubling down. (In October, French President Emmanuel Macron backed off plans to close 14 reactors, and in November, he announced the country would instead start building new ones.) At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, the U.S. announced its support for Poland, Kenya, Ukraine, Brazil, Romania and Indonesia to develop their own new nuclear plants—while European negotiators assured that nuclear energy counts as “green.” All the while, Democrats and Republicans are (to everyone’s surprise) often aligned on nuclear’s benefits—and, in many cases, putting their powers of the purse behind it, both to keep old plants open in the U.S. and speed up new technologies domestically and overseas. It makes for a decidedly odd moment in the life of a technology that already altered the course of one century, and now wants to make a difference in another. There are 93 operating nuclear reactors in the U.S.; combined, they supply 20% of U.S. electricity, and 50% of its carbon-free electricity. Nuclear should be a climate solution, satisfying both technical and economic needs. But while the existing plants finally operate with enviable efficiency (after 40 years of working out the kinks), the next generation of designs is still a decade away from being more than a niche player in our energy supply. Everyone wants a steady supply of electricity, without relying on coal. Nuclear is paradoxically right at hand, and out of reach. For that to change, “new nuclear” has to emerge before the old nuclear plants recede. It has to keep pace with technological improvements in other realms, like long-term energy storage, where each incremental improvement increases the potential for renewables to supply more of our electricity. It has to be cheaper than carbon-capture technologies, which would allow flexible gas plants to operate without climate impacts (but are still too expensive to build at scale). And finally it has to arrive before we give up—before the spectre of climate catastrophe creates a collective “doomerism,” and we stop trying to change. Not everyone thinks nuclear can reinvent itself in time. “When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late,” predicts Allison Macfarlane, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—the government agency singularly responsible for permitting new plants. Can a stable, safe, known source of energy rise to the occasion, or will nuclear be cast aside as too expensive, too risky and too late? J R Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/ShutterstockLaboratory personnel developing a fusion device in Project Sherwood at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1958 Trying Again Nuclear began in a rush. In 1942, in the lowest mire of World War II, the U.S. began the Manhattan Project, the vast effort to develop atomic weapons. It employed 130,000 people at secret sites across the country, the most famous of which was Los Alamos Laboratory, near Albuquerque, N.M., where Robert Oppenheimer led the design and construction of the first atomic bombs. DeWitte, 36, grew up nearby. Even as a child of the ’90s, he was steeped in the state’s nuclear history, and preoccupied with the terrifying success of its engineering and the power of its materials. “It’s so incredibly energy dense,” says DeWitte. “A golf ball of uranium would power your entire life!” DeWitte has taken that bromide almost literally. He co-founded Oklo in 2013 with Caroline Cochran, while both were graduate students in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When they arrived in Cambridge, Mass., in 2007 and 2008, the nuclear industry was on a precipice. Then presidential candidate Barack Obama espoused a new eagerness to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions—which at the time meant less coal, and more nuclear. (Wind and solar energy were still a blip.) It was an easy sell. In competitive power markets, nuclear plants were profitable. The 104 operating reactors in the U.S. at the time were running smoothly. There hadn’t been a major accident since Chernobyl, in 1986. The industry excitedly prepared for a “nuclear renaissance.” At the peak of interest, the NRC had applications for 30 new reactors in the U.S. Only two would be built. The cheap natural gas of the fracking boom began to drive down electricity prices, razing nuclear’s profits. Newly subsidized renewables, like wind and solar, added even more electricity generation, further saturating the markets. When on March 11, 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami rolled over Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, leading to the meltdown of all three of its reactors and the evacuation of 154,000 people, the industry’s coffin was fully nailed. Not only would there be no renaissance in the U.S, but the existing plants had to justify their safety. Japan shut down 46 of its 50 operating reactors. Germany closed 11 of its 17. The U.S. fleet held on politically, but struggled to compete economically. Since Fukushima, 12 U.S. reactors have begun decommissioning, with three more planned. At MIT, Cochran and DeWitte—who were teaching assistants together for a nuclear reactor class in 2009, and married in 2011—were frustrated by the setback. ”It was like, There’re all these cool technologies out there. Let’s do something with it,” says Cochran. But the nuclear industry has never been an easy place for innovators. In the U.S., its operational ranks have long been dominated by “ring knockers”—the officer corps of the Navy’s nuclear fleet, properly trained in the way things are done, but less interested in doing them differently. Governments had always kept a tight grip on nuclear; for decades, the technology was under shrouds. The personal computing revolution, and then the wild rise of the Internet, further drained engineering talent. From DeWitte and Cochran’s perspective, the nuclear-energy industry had already ossified by the time Fukushima and fracking totally brought things to a halt. “You eventually got to the point where it’s like, we have to try something different,” DeWitte says. He and Cochran began to discreetly convene their MIT classmates for brainstorming sessions. Nuclear folks tend to be dogmatic about their favorite method of splitting atoms, but they stayed agnostic. “I didn’t start thinking we had to do everything differently,” says DeWitte. Rather, they had a hunch that marginal improvements might yield major results, if they could be spread across all of the industry’s usual snags—whether regulatory approaches, business models, the engineering of the systems themselves, or the challenge of actually constructing them. In 2013, Cochran and DeWitte began to rent out the spare room in their Cambridge home on Airbnb. Their first guests were a pair of teachers from Alaska. The remote communities they taught in were dependent on diesel fuel for electricity, brought in at enormous cost. That energy scarcity created an opportunity: in such an environment, even a very expensive nuclear reactor might still be cheaper than the current system. The duo targeted a price of $100 per megawatt hour, more than double typical energy costs. They imagined using this high-cost early market as a pathway to scale their manufacturing. They realized that to make it work economically, they wouldn’t have to reinvent the reactor technology, only the production and sales processes. They decided to own their reactors and supply electricity, rather than supply the reactors themselves—operating more like today’s solar or wind developers. “It’s less about the technology being different,” says DeWitte, “than it is about approaching the entire process differently.” That maverick streak raised eyebrows among nuclear veterans—and cash from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including a boost from Y Combinator, where companies like Airbnb and Instacart got their start. In the eight years since, Oklo has distinguished itself from the competition by thinking smaller and moving faster. There are others competing in this space: NuScale, based in Oregon, is working to commercialize a reactor similar in design to existing nuclear plants, but constructed in 60-megawatt modules. TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates in 2006, has plans for a novel technology that uses its heat for energy storage, rather than to spin a turbine, which makes it an even more flexible option for electric grids that increasingly need that pliability. And X-energy, a Maryland-based firm that has received substantial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, is developing 80-megawatt reactors that can also be grouped into “four-packs,” bringing them closer in size to today’s plants. Yet all are still years—and a billion dollars—away from their first installations. Oklo brags that its NRC application is 20 times shorter than NuScale’s, and its proposal cost 100 times less to develop. (Oklo’s proposed reactor would produce one-fortieth the power of NuScale’s.) NRC accepted Oklo’s application for review in March 2020, and regulations guarantee that process will be complete within three years. Oklo plans to power on around 2023, at a site at the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the U.S.’s oldest nuclear-research sites, and so already approved for such efforts. Then comes the hard part: doing it again and again, booking enough orders to justify building a factory to make many more reactors, driving costs down, and hoping politicians and activists worry more about the menace of greenhouse gases than the hazards of splitting atoms. Nuclear-industry veterans remain wary. They have seen this all before. Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor, first approved by the NRC in 2005, was touted as the flagship technology of Obama’s nuclear renaissance. It promised to be safer and simpler, using gravity rather than electricity-driven pumps to cool the reactor in case of an emergency—in theory, this would mitigate the danger of power outages, like the one that led to the Fukushima disaster. Its components could be constructed at a centralized location, and then shipped in giant pieces for assembly. But all that was easier said than done. Westinghouse and its contractors struggled to manufacture the components according to nuclear’s mega-exacting requirements and in the end, only one AP1000 project in the U.S. actually happened: the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia. Approved in 2012, its two reactors were expected at the time to cost $14 billion and be completed in 2016 and 2017, but costs have ballooned to $25 billion. The first will open, finally, next year. Oklo and its competitors insist things are different this time, but they have yet to prove it. “Because we haven’t built one of them yet, we can promise that they’re not going to be a problem to build,” quips Gregory Jaczko, a former NRC chair who has since become the technology’s most biting critic. “So there’s no evidence of our failure.” Georg Zinsler—Anzenberger/Redu​xA guided tour in the control room of reactor No. 2 inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant The Challenge The cooling tower of the Hope Creek nuclear plant rises 50 stories above Artificial Island, New Jersey, built up on the marshy edge of the Delaware River. The three reactors here—one belonging to Hope Creek, and two run by the Salem Generating Station, which shares the site—generate an astonishing 3,465 megawatts of electricity, or roughly 40% of New Jersey’s total supply. Construction began in 1968, and was completed in 1986. Their closest human neighbors are across the river in Delaware. Otherwise the plant is surrounded by protected marshlands, pocked with radiation sensors and the occasional guard booth. Of the 1,500 people working here, around 100 are licensed reactor operators—a special designation given by the NRC, and held by fewer than 4,000 people in the country. Among the newest in their ranks is Judy Rodriguez, an Elizabeth, N.J., native and another MIT grad. “Do I have your permission to enter?” she asks the operator on duty in the control room for the Salem Two reactor, which came online in 1981 and is capable of generating 1,200 megawatts of power. The operator opens a retractable belt barrier, like at an airport, and we step across a thick red line in the carpet. A horseshoe-shaped gray cabinet holds hundreds of buttons, glowing indicators and blinking lights, but a red LED counter at the center of the wall shows the most important number in the room: 944 megawatts, the amount of power the Salem Two reactor was generating that afternoon in September. Beside it is a circular pattern of square indicator lights showing the uranium fuel assemblies inside the core, deep inside the concrete domed containment building a couple hundred yards away. Salem Two has 764 of these constructions; each is about 6 inches sq and 15 ft. tall. They contain the source of the reactor’s energy, which are among the most guarded and controlled materials on earth. To make sure no one working there forgets that fact, a phrase is painted on walls all around the plant: “Line of Sight to the Reactor.” As the epitome of critical infrastructure, this station has been buffeted by the crises the U.S. has suffered in the past few decades. After 9/11, the three reactors here absorbed nearly $100 million in security upgrades. Everyone entering the plant passes through metal- and explosives detectors, and radiation detectors on the way out. Walking between the buildings entails crossing a concrete expanse beneath high bullet resistant enclosures (BREs). The plant has a guard corp that has more members than any in New Jersey besides the state police, and federal NRC rules mean that they don’t have to abide by state limitations on automatic weapons. The scale and complexity of the operation is staggering—and expensive. ”The place you’re sitting at right now costs us about $1.5 million to $2 million a day to run,” says Ralph Izzo, president and CEO of PSEG, New Jersey’s public utility company, which owns and operates the plants. “If those plants aren’t getting that in market, that’s a rough pill to swallow.” In 2019, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities agreed to $300 million in annual subsidies to keep the three reactors running. The justification is simple: if the state wants to meet its carbon-reduction goals, keeping the plants online is essential, given that they supply 90% of the state’s zero-carbon energy. In September, the Illinois legislature came to the same conclusion as New Jersey, approving almost $700 million over five years to keep two existing nuclear plants open. The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $6 billion in additional support (along with nearly $10 billion for development of future reactors). Even more is expected in the broader Build Back Better bill. These subsidies—framed in both states as “carbon mitigation credits”—acknowledge the reality that nuclear plants cannot, on their own terms, compete economically with natural gas or coal. “There has always been a perception of this technology that never was matched by reality,” says Jaczko. The subsidies also show how climate change has altered the equation, but not decisively enough to guarantee nuclear’s future. Lawmakers and energy companies are coming to terms with nuclear’s new identity as clean power, deserving of the same economic incentives as solar and wind. Operators of existing plants want to be compensated for producing enormous amounts of carbon free energy, according to Josh Freed, of Third Way, a Washington, D.C., think tank that champions nuclear power as a climate solution. “There’s an inherent benefit to providing that, and it should be paid for.” For the moment, that has brought some assurance to U.S. nuclear operators of their future prospects. “A megawatt of zero-carbon electricity that’s leaving the grid is no different from a new megawatt of zero carbon electricity coming onto the grid,” says Kathleen Barrón, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs and public policy at Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of nuclear reactors. Globally, nations are struggling with the same equation. Germany and Japan both shuttered many of their plants after the Fukushima disaster, and saw their progress at reducing carbon emissions suffer. Germany has not built new renewables fast enough to meet its electricity needs, and has made up the gap with dirty coal and natural gas imported from Russia. Japan, under international pressure to move more aggressively to meet its carbon targets, announced in October that it would work to restart its reactors. “Nuclear power is indispensable when we think about how we can ensure a stable and affordable electricity supply while addressing climate change,” said Koichi Hagiuda, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry, at an October news conference. China is building more new nuclear reactors than any other country, with plans for as many as 150 by the 2030s, at an estimated cost of nearly half a trillion dollars. Long before that, in this decade, China will overtake the U.S. as the operator of the world’s largest nuclear-energy system. Francesca Todde—contrasto/Redux Civaux nuclear power plant, in Civaux, France, May 2018 The future won’t be decided by choosing between nuclear or solar power. Rather, it’s a technically and economically complicated balance of adding as much renewable energy as possible while ensuring a steady supply of electricity. At the moment, that’s easy. “There is enough opportunity to build renewables before achieving penetration levels that we’re worried about the grid having stability,” says PSEG’s Izzo. New Jersey, for its part, is aiming to add 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035—or about the equivalent of six new Salem-sized reactors. The technology to do that is readily at hand—Kansas alone has about that much wind power installed already. The challenge comes when renewables make up a greater proportion of the electricity supply—or when the wind stops blowing. The need for “firm” generation becomes more crucial. “You cannot run our grid solely on the basis of renewable supply,” says Izzo. “One needs an interseasonal storage solution, and no one has come up with an economic interseasonal storage solution.” Existing nuclear’s best pitch—aside from the very fact it exists already—is its “capacity factor,” the industry term for how often a plant meets its full energy making potential. For decades, nuclear plants struggled with outages and long maintenance periods. Today, improvements in management and technology make them more likely to run continuously—or “breaker to breaker”—between planned refuelings, which usually occur every 18 months, and take about a month. At Salem and Hope Creek, PSEG hangs banners in the hallways to celebrate each new record run without a maintenance breakdown. That improvement stretches across the industry. “If you took our performance back in the mid-’70s, and then look at our performance today, it’s equivalent to having built 30 new reactors,” says Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main lobbying organization. That improved reliability has become its major calling card today. Over the next 20 years, nuclear plants will need to develop new tricks. “One of the new words in our vocabulary is flexibility,” says Marilyn Kray, vice president of nuclear strategy and development at Exelon, which operates 21 reactors. “Flexibility not only in the existing plants, but in the designs of the emerging ones, to make them even more flexible and adaptable to complement renewables.” Smaller plants can adapt more easily to the grid, but they can also serve new customers, like providing energy directly to factories, steel mills or desalination plants. Bringing those small plants into operation could be worth it, but it won’t be easy.”You can’t just excuse away the thing that’s at the center of all of it, which is it’s just a hard technology to build,” says Jaczko, the former NRC chair. “It’s difficult to make these plants, it’s difficult to design them, it’s difficult to engineer them, it’s difficult to construct them. At some point, that’s got to be the obvious conclusion to this technology.” But the equally obvious conclusion is we can no longer live without it. “The reality is, you have to really squint to see how you get to net zero without nuclear,” says Third Way’s Freed. “There’s a lot of wishful thinking, a lot of fingers crossed.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 16th, 2021

Former QVC CEO"s 13,500-square-foot Malvern estate lists for $2.95M

The home has a 3,200-bottle wine cellar and a wood-paneled "hunt room" that overlooks Radnor Hunt, located right across the street......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 7th, 2021

Learning From Trader Joe’s, Joe Coulombe

It’s a rare person who can run their own business, and rarer still are those who can do it well. And in a world of stiff competition and consumer fickleness, those people who’s businesses can both survive and thrive in that environment are probably the rarest of them all. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences […] It’s a rare person who can run their own business, and rarer still are those who can do it well. And in a world of stiff competition and consumer fickleness, those people who’s businesses can both survive and thrive in that environment are probably the rarest of them all. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more If you choose a manager to whom you entrust your capital, in the words of Charlie Munger, choose a ‘business fanatic.’ Such individuals live, sleep and breathe their businesses. They’re not bound by the same restraints as most business people; constantly pushing boundaries, trialing new approaches, thinking outside the box, challenging conventional wisdom and always looking for business improvements. If you’re in business, these are the last type of people you want to compete with. One man that epitomized such fanaticism was the late Joe Coulombe, founder of the convenience store chain that carried his name, Trader Joe’s. “Edward H. Heller, a pioneer venture capitalist used the term ‘vivid spirit’ to describe the type of individual to whom he was ready to give significant financial backing. He said that behind every unusually successful corporation was this kind of determined entrepreneurial personality with the drive, the original ideas, and the skill to make such a company a truly worthwhile investment.” Phil Fisher Joe tells his story in the book, ‘Becoming Trader Joe - How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys.’ It contains a wealth of wisdom, particularly when it comes to thinking about running a successful retailer. Over more than a quarter of a century, Trader Joe’s sales grew at a compound rate of 19% per year and the company’s net worth grew at a compound rate of 26% per annum over the same period - no mean feat for a commodity business that’s hard to differentiate. Furthermore, the business never lost money in a year and incredibly each year was more profitable than the last. When the competitor 7-Eleven extended it’s footprint into California in the 1970’s, Pronto Markets, the precursor to Trader' Joe’s, already enjoyed the highest sales per store of any convenience operator in America by a factor of three. A high wage policy, strong locations, a few liquor licences, and the beginnings of a differentiated strategy through product knowledge was the core of their success. One of the mental models I particularly enjoyed in the book was Joe’s concept of ‘Double Entry Retailing.’ A form of second level thinking, Joe recognised that making changes to Demand Side factors had an influence on Supply Side factors which aren’t always obvious. A striking example was the introduction of orange juice freshly squeezed on the premises. While a great Demand Side success - customers embraced the product - it was a total nightmare to administer because of the Supply Side issues; the great variation in sweetness of oranges over the course of a year, difficulty in ensuring machines squeezed the right amount and disposal of the leftover rinds. As a result it was eventually phased out. You’ll recognise many of the characteristics that form a common link with the other great businesses we’ve studied. I’ve included some of my favourite extracts from the book below. Harnessing Demographic & Technological Change ‘The clue, the keystone of the arch of Trader Joe’s, was a small news item in Scientific American in 1965. When we left Stanford, my father-in-law, Bill Steere, a professor of botany, gave me a subscription to Scientific American. In terms of creating my fortune, it’s the most important magazine I’ve ever read. The news item said that, of all the people in the US who were qualified to go to college in 1932, in the pit of the Depression, only 2 percent did. By contrast, in 1964, of all the people qualified to go to college 60 percent in fact actually did. The big change, of course, was the GI Bill of Rights that went into effect in 1945. A second news item, one from the Wall Street Journal, told me that the Boeing 747 would go into service in 1970, and that it would slash the cost of international travel. In Pronto Markets we had noticed that people who travelled - even to San Francisco - were far more adventurous in what they were willing to put in their mouths. Travel is, after all, a form of education. Trader Joe’s was conceived from those two demographic news stories. What I saw here was a small but growing demographic opportunity in people who were well educated. 7-Eleven, and the whole convenience store genre, served the most basic needs of the most mindless demographics with cigarettes, Coca-Cola, milk, Budweiser, candy, bread, eggs. I saw an opportunity to differentiate ourselves radically from mainstream retailing to mainstream people.” Obliquity “I hope you’ll consider the following, my favourite quote from my favourite book on Management, ‘The Winning Performance’ by Clifford and Cavanaugh,’ ‘The fourth (general themes in winning corporations] is a view of profit and wealth-creation as inevitable byproducts of doing other things well. Money is a useful yardstick for measuring quantitative performance and profit and an obligation to investors. But … making money as an end in itself ranks low.’” A Bias to Action & Tenacity “In 1962, Barbara Tuchman published ‘The Guns of August’, an account of the first ninety days of WWI, It’s the best book on management - and, especially, mismanagement - I’ve ever read. The most basic conclusion I drew from from her book was that, if you adopt a reasonable strategy, as opposed to waiting for an optimum strategy, and stick with it, you’ll probably succeed. Tenacity is as important as brilliance.” “Trying to find an optimum solution in business is a waste of time; the factors in the equation are changing all the time.” Value, Empower & Pay Employees Well “You’ve got to have something to hang your hat on. The one core value I chose was our high compensation policies, which I put in place from the very start in 1958… This is the most important single business decision I ever made: to pay people well. First Pronto Markets and then Trader Joe’s had the highest-paid, highest benefitted people in retail.” “Time and again I am asked why no one has successfully replicated Trader Joe’s. The answer is that no one has been willing to pay the wages and benefits, and thereby attract - and keep - the quality of people who work at Trader Joe’s.” “[I was asked,] ‘But how could you afford to pay so much more than your competition?’ The answer, of course, is that good people pay by their extra productivity. You can’t afford to have cheap employees.” “Equally important was our practice of giving every full-time employee an interview every six months. At Stanford I’d been taught that employees never organise (join unions) because of the money; they organise because of un-listened-to grievances.” “The [store] Captains had the salary plus a bonus that theoretically had no limit. The bonus was based on Trader Joe’s overall profit, allocated among the stores based on each store’s contribution. In 1988, several Captains made bonuses of more than 70 percent of their base pay. Unless a bonus system promises, and delivers big rewards, it should be abandoned.” “My idea, often stated to everybody, was that the [store] Captains should have the chance to make more than executives in the office. In a traditional chain store, managers aspire to become bureaucrats with cushy, high-paying jobs in the office. I wanted to kill such aspirations at the start.” “Part timers .. at a time when the minimum wage was $4.35, we often paid $13.00 per hour because these people were worth it.” “Productivity in part is a product of tenure. That’s why I believe that turnover is the most expensive form of labor expense.” “We instituted full health and dental insurance back in the 1960's when it was cheap. When I left, we were paying $6,000 per employee per year!” “Each full-timer was supposed to be able to perform every job in the store, including checking, balancing the books, ordering each department, stocking, opening, closing, going to the bank, etc. Everybody worked the check stands in the course of the day, including the [store] Captain.” “In thirty years we never had a layoff of full-time employees. Seasonal swings in business were handled with overtime pay to full-time employees, and by adjusting part-time hours. The stability of full-time employment at Trader Joe’s was due in part to caution opening new stores, and insisting on high volume stores.” “Cost of goods sold is the dominant expense. The funny thing is that grocers seem to spend more effort squeezing payroll than squeezing Cost of Goods Sold, though there is at least five times more opportunity in the latter.” Retail & Real Estate Decisions ‘First we upped the investment ante by taking only prime locations, which could generate the most sales, even though the rents were higher. A lease is an investment, perhaps the most serious and certainly the least changeable a retailer can make. Financially, a lease is simply a long-term loan… Most retail bankruptcies come from bad real estate leasing decisions… Early in my career I learned there are two kinds of decisions: the ones that are easily reversible and the ones that aren’t. Fifteen-year leases are the least-reversible decisions you can make. That’s why, throughout my career, I kept absolute control of real estate decisions.” “The keys to management are strong locations with good people.” “People often ask me, how many stores did we have at such-and-such time? It’s the wrong question to ask. What’s important is dollar sales. For example, from 1980 to 1988, we increased the number of stores by 50 percent but sales were up 340 percent.” “My preference is to have a few stores, as far apart as possible, and to make them as high volume as possible.” “Too many stores, to many irreversible leases, too much geographical saturation was a recurrent theme in the failure of American retail chains in the twentieth century.” “Ancient Mariner Retailers claim that ‘volume solves everything.’ If it’s profitable volume, they’re right. Things go most sour in the lowest-volume stores. It’s like riding a bicycle, the faster it goes, the more stable it is. The ‘normal distribution’ of most chains is 20% dogs, 60% okay stores, and 20% winners. I believe in ruthlessly dumping the dogs at whatever cost. Why? Because their real cost is in management energy. You always spend more time trying to make the dogs acceptable than in raising the okay stores into winners. And it’s in the dogs that you always have the most personnel problems." “I believe that the sine qua non for successful retailing is demographic coherence: all your locations should have the same demographics whether you are selling clothing or wine.” “I liked semi-decayed neighbourhoods, were the census tract income statistics looked terrible, but the mortgages were all paid-down, and the kids had left home. Housing and rental prices tend to be lower, and more suitable for those underpaid academics. Related to this, I was more interested in the number of households in a given area than the number of people in a ZIP code. Trader Joe’s is not a store for kids or big families. One or two adults is just fine.” “Computerisation has radically upgraded the statistics available: I’d probably do it more formally now. But there’s no substitute for ‘driving’ a location to ferret out traffic problems. And do it at night, too.” “I hardly need to mention that a trading area is rarely determined by a radius. It’s determined by geographical barriers, boulevard access, and where the demographics lie.” “Let’s go back to the question of number of stores. How do you space them? Here are some parameters: You need to have enough stores in a trading area to economically amortise the radio advertising. You need enough stores in an area to have a large enough pool of employees. My rule was that distance between stores should not be measured in miles but in driving time. I wanted no less than twenty minutes between stores. That pretty much avoided the dread word, cannibalisation. Could a given trading area support more Trader Joe’s? Almost certainly! I figured we could break even at ten thousand core residences. But I wanted super-volume stores. If the credo that super-volume stores have the fewest operating problems is valid, then the overall health of the chain, in the long run, is maximised.” “How many trading areas should you enter? As long as you can preserve the culture of the company, and as long as logistics don’t kill you, go ahead.” “Never, never, never sign a lease with a ‘continuous operation’ clause. That clause means you must stay open - you can’t ‘go dark’ and just pay the rent.” Product Knowledge “The buyers at the supermarket chains knew nothing about what they sold, and they don’t want to know. What they did know all about was extorting slotting allowances, cooperative ad revenue, failure allowances, and back-haul concessions from the manufacturers.” Four Tests “The advantage of hard liquor merchandise was that it met three tests: a) A high value per cubic inch, essential to a small store format b) A high rate of consumption c) It had to be easily handled If we could have added a fourth test, it would be that we had to be outstanding in the field. Still trying to maximise the use of a small store, I looked for categories that met the Four Tests; high value per cubic inch, high rate of consumption; easily handled; and something in which we could be outstanding in term of price or assortment. For example, diamonds met the first test but flunked the second. Fruits and vegetables met the first and second but flunked the third because produce requires constant reworking. Fresh meat flunked the third test even more.” Purpose “Most of my ideas about how to act as an entrepreneur are derived from ‘The Revolt of the Masses’ by Jose Ortega y Gasset, the greatest Spanish philosopher of the twentieth century. I believe it offers a master ‘plan of action’ for the would-be entrepreneur, who usually has no reputation and few resources. Ortega offers an explanation of how such a person can get an enterprise started. In the context of the career of Julius Caesar, an entrepreneur who started without power, Otega says of the state: ‘Human life, by its very nature, has to be dedicated to something, an enterprise glorious or humble, a destiny illustrious or trivial .. The State begins when groups, naturally divided, find themselves obliged to live in common. The obligation is not of brute force, but implies an impelling purpose, a common task which is set before the dispersed groups. Before all, the State is a plan of action and a Programme of Collaboration. The men are called upon so that together they may do something .. It is pure dynamism, the will to do something in common, and thanks to this the idea of the state, is bounded by no physical limits.” Most of my career has been spent selling ‘plans of action and programmes of collaboration.’ If you want to know what differentiates me from most manager’s that’s it. From the beginning, thanks to Ortega y Gasset, I’ve been aware of the need to sell everybody.” Radical Transparency “Throughout my career, my policy has been full disclosure to employees about the true state of affairs, almost to the point of imprudence. I took a cue from General Patton, who thought that the greatest danger was not that the enemy would learn the plans, but that his own troops would not.” Growth “Growth for the sake of growth still troubles me. It seems unnatural, even perverted. This helps explain why I went from 1974 to 1978 without opening another store. To keep sales increasing during the mid-1970s, we relied on new ideas implemented in existing stores. This was my favourite form of growth. I don’t think that any given store ever fully realises its potential.” Smallness & Empowerment “We developed a prototype [Trader Joe’s] store of 4,500 square feet. Here’s a good question: Given my need to get away from convenience stores, why did I stick with small stores? The answer was verbalised for us in ‘In Search of Excellence,’ Tom Peter’s best-selling book on management. He called it ‘The Power of Chunking’: ‘The essential building block of a company is the section [which] within its sphere does not await executive orders but takes initiatives. The key factor for success is getting one’s arms around almost any practical problem and knocking it off… The small group is the most visible of the chunking devices.’ The fundamental ‘chunk’ of Trader Joe’s is the individual store with its highly paid [store] Captain and staff; the people who are capable of exercising discretion. I admire Nordstrom’s fundamental instruction to its employees: use your judgement. Trader Joe’s finally settled down at an average of about eight thousand square feet in the 1980’s, but the concept of a relatively small store with a relatively small staff remains in force.” Marketing & Customers “At all times I wrote the Fearless Flyer [marketing newsletter] for over-educated, underpaid people. This requires two mindsets: Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer Newsletter 1) There are no such things as consumers - dolts who are driven by drivel to buy stuff they don’t need or even want. There are only customers, people who are reasonably well informed, and very well focused in their buying habits. 2) We always looked up to the customers in the text of the Fearless Flyer. We assumed they knew more than they did, we never talked down to them. 3) Given the first two assumptions, we assumed that our readers had a thirst for knowledge, 180 degrees opposite from supermarket ads. We emphasised ‘informative advertising.’ Originally, we distributed the Fearless Flyer only in stores and to a small but growing list. [Later,] by mailing to addresses rather than to individuals - by blanketing entire ZIP codes - we were able to tremendously expand the distribution of the Fearless Flyer. The ZIPs to which we mailed, of course, were chosen on the basis of the likely concentration of over-educated and underpaid people.” Word of Mouth “Word of Mouth: The Power of True Believers. As everyone knows, word of mouth is the most effective advertising of all. I have been known to say that there’s no better business to run than a cult. Trader Joe’s became a cult of the over-educated and underpaid, partly because we deliberately tried to make it a cult and partly because we kept the implicit promises with our clientele.” “There aren’t many cult retailers who successfully retain their cult status over a long period of time. A couple in California are In-N-Out Burger and Fry’s Electronics. But across America, in every town, there’s a particular donut shop, pizza parlour, bakery, greengrocer, bar, etc. that has a cult following of True Believers.” Pricing “One of the fundamental tenets of Trader Joe’s is that retail prices don’t change unless costs change. There are no weekend ad prices, no in-and-out pricing… I have always believed that supermarkets pricing is a shell game and I wanted no part of it.” Retailing “The fundamental job of a retailer is to buy goods whole, cut them into pieces, and sell the pieces to the ultimate consumers. This is the most important mental construct I can impart on those of you who want to enter retailing. Most ‘retailers’ have no idea of the formal meaning of the word. Time and again, I had to remind myself just what my role in society was supposed to be.” “[We decided] no outsiders of any sort were permitted in the store. All the work was done by employees.]” “From 1958 through 1976, we tried to carry what the customer asked for, given the limits of our small stores and other operational parameters. Each store probably had access to ten thousand stock keeping units (SKUs), of which about three thousand were actually stocked in any given week. By the time I left in 1989, we were down to a band of 1,100 to 1,500 SKUs, all of which were delivered through a central distribution system.” “Along the way not only did we drop a lot of products that our customers would have liked us to sell, even at not-outstanding prices, but we stopped cashing checks in excess of the amount of purchase, we stopped full-case discounts, and we persistently shortened the hours. We violated every received wisdom of retailing except one: we delivered great value, which is where most retailers fall.” “[We were] willing to discontinue any product if we were are unable to offer the right deal to the customer.” “Instead of national brands, [we] focused on either Trader Joe’s label products or ‘no label’ products like nuts and dried fruits.” “We wouldn’t try to carry a whole line of spices, or bag candy, or vitamins. Each SKU had to justify itself as opposed to riding piggyback into the stores just so we had a ‘complete’ line. Depth of assortment was of no interest.” “Each SKU would stand on its own two feet as a profit centre. We would earn a gross profit on each SKU that was justified by the cost of handling that item. There would be no ‘loss leaders.’” “Above all we would not carry any item unless we could be outstanding in terms of price (and make a profit at that price) or uniqueness.” ‘I do not believe in keeping ‘spoils’ in the back room until some salesperson comes by to pick them up. I believe that products should move in only one direction, never back up the supply chain. When a bottle was broken, a can dented, or a ‘short fill’ was discovered, it went to the trash bin.” “A guideline: No private label product was introduced for the sake of having a private label. This is 100 percent contrary to the policy of most supermarkets… Each private label product had to have a reason, a point of differentiation.” “The willingness to do without any given product is one of the cornerstones of Trader Joe’s merchandising philosophy.” “No bulky products like paper towels or sugar, because the high-value-per-cubic inch rule still prevailed.. We simply went out of business on the ‘bulkers’ and did not replace them with private labels.” “I believe in the wisdom that you gain customers one by one, but you lose them in droves.” “Back in 1967, [we] made a bet that rising levels of education would fragment the masses, that a small but growing group of people would be dissatisfied with having to consume what everybody else consumed… This philosophical approach put us in conflict with the mainstream of American retailing, which emphasises continuous products. Thus when a supermarket promotes Coca-Cola it doesn’t have to explain that Coca-Cola is a secret formula for a soft drink created a century ago in Atlanta.. Wines have not been popular in America because, intrinsically, they are not continuous products. You can’t just order up some more sugar and chemicals and make another batch. In 1987, I outlined to the buyers where I thought we should go: 1) we want continuous products. Any sane person does. We want continuous products which are profitable without creating a high-price image. 2) to create such products, they needed to be differentiated at least in order to avoid direct price comparison. 3) products in which we had an absolute buying advantage. For example, we were the largest seller of cheap Bordeaux blanc in the United States. 4) I was willing to continue to indulge in the spectacular ‘closeout’ sales of branded products, but I wanted to do so in the context of much greater overall sales, principally generated by continuous products, most of them private label.” “I don’t think that the internet grocery store will successfully invade food retailing because you’re dealing with four different temperatures: dry grocery, refrigerated products, frozen products, and ice cream when you try to home-deliver foods.” “Showmanship is the sum total of all efforts to make contact with the customer. It’s the most ephemeral, the most difficult, and the most important of the Demand Side activities.” “All the research on whether people turn to the left or the right, or whether you can ‘force’ people to the rear of the store, is irrelevant if you’re a value retailer.” Win-Win “Honour thy vendors: After all, these are the guys you’re buying from. They should not be treated as adversaries. Five year plan 1977 said, ‘Buying, therefore, is not just a matter of trying to beat down suppliers on price. It is a creative exercise of developing alternatives.’ Many of our best product ideas and special buying opportunities came from our vendors.” “Vendors should be regarded as an extension of the retailer, a Marks and Spencer concept. Their employees should be regarded almost as employees of the retailer. Concern for their welfare should be shown, because employee turnover at vendors sometimes can be more costly than turnover of your own employees.” “Tenants who enter negotiations with the idea of beating the landlord at the objective future game usually get the kind of landlords they deserve. And vice versa.” “Other non-merchandise vendors are very much extensions of Trader Joe’s and should be treated as much. Since we owned no trucks, warehouses, etc., I asked our people to keep track of the outsourced drivers and do their best to see that our contractors were paid reasonable wages with reasonable working conditions. Turnover is the most expensive labour expense!’ Committees “I want to make it quite clear that I called all the shots. I reject management by committee.” Economies of Scale “The point where the ‘buying power’ and ‘selling power’ curves cross each other creates the magical physical thresholds. There are two magical physical thresholds that a retailer must achieve to be competitive: the truckload, and the ocean container load. These thresholds mark the limit of most economies of scale.” Focus & Outsource “We tried to stay out of all functions that were not central to our primary job in society: namely, buying and selling merchandise.. [We’d] been getting rid of all functions except those buying and selling. We got rid of our own maintenance people, we sold off almost all the real estate we had acquired during the 1970’s, we never took mainframe computing in-house, etc. Some choice quotes from Dr. Drucker: ‘In-house service activities have little incentive to improve their productivity .. The productivity is not likely to ramp up until it is possible to be promoted for doing a good job at it. And that will happen in support work only when such work is done by separate, free standing enterprises.’” Business Problems “All businesses have problems. It’s the problems that create the opportunities. If a business is easy, every simple bastard would enter it.” “This is one of the most important things I can impart; in any troubled company the people at lower levels know what ought to be done in terms of day-to-day operations. If you just ask them, you can find answers.” Adapt, Challenge the Status Quo “Believe me, you have to have a system for everything that has to happen in your business - you just may not be conscious of it. And you probably have still other systems that are not needed. That’s why The Winning Performance calls for a ‘continued contempt for business as usual.’ To practice ‘constitutional contempt,’ you have to arrive every day with the attitude, ‘Why do we do such-and-such that way?’ Better yet, why do we do it at all? Usually the answer is, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’ ‘That’s the way we did it at my last job,’ or ‘All our competitors are doing it.’ Mental Model - Double Entry Retailing “I hit on the idea of using double entry accounting as an analogy, what I call Double Entry Retailing. On the left side of the ledger is the business in terms of how its customers see it: I call this the Demand Side. On the right side of the ledger are the factors that limit or determine the retailer's ability to satisfy those demands: the Supply Side. All businesses, whether manufacturing, wholesaling, services, etc., have [the] fearful symmetry of both Demand and Supply sides. And all businesses are subject to the ultimate supply-side constraint of cash: you can do anything, no matter how stupid, within that fearful symmetry, as long as you don't run out of cash. From my view, the Demand Side of Retailers can be analysed in terms of five variables: The assortment of merchandise offered for sale. Pricing: stability and relative to competition. Convenience: geographical, in-store, and time. Credit: the accepted methods of payment. Showmanship: the sum of all activities that result in making contact with the customer, from advertising to store architecture to employee cleanliness. Here are factors on the Supply Side: Merchandise Vendors Employees  The way you do things: "habits" and "culture" Systems Non-merchandise vendors Landlords Governments Bankers and investment bankers Stockholders Crime As in double entry accounting, the change in any factor must be matched by a corresponding change in another factor. For example, a decision to increase geographical convenience (Demand Side) obviously involves some change of policy with landlords (Supply Side) including the amount of rent you're willing to pay. Consider how Barney's paid through the nose because they thought they had to offer the geographical convenience of being in Beverly Hills. How big a factor was this in Barney's subsequent bankruptcy? Was it Demand Side success at the price of Supply Side failure? The lists above aren't much different from other businesses. What distinguishes retailing is the asymmetry of the fearful symmetry: the huge number of customers (Demand Side) vs. the number of suppliers. This is the exact opposite of a government defence contractor. This lopsided butterfly may cause a retailer to act as if the only people they have to ‘sell’ to are customers: the Demand Side. That’s a major mistake. All the people on the supply side have to be sold, too.” “One of the smartest things we ever did was to cut the hours of Trader Joe’s. This is mostly a Supply Side question, but the quality and attitude of the employees handling our customers is a Demand Side factor.” Employee Ownership “From the beginning of Pronto Markets, one of my basic principles, one of my basic goals, was employee ownership of the business. Getting there, however, was complicated.” Summary I found the similarities between Trader Joe’s approach to retailing and the German retailer Aldi strikingly similar. Despite being on opposite sides of the world, both businesses evolved complementary retailing practices: a focus on private label, above market wages for employees, a win-win mentality and continuous innovation. It’s little wonder the Albrecht family were attracted to the business. Aldi acquired Trader Joe’s in 1979 and retained Joe as the independent manager for another ten years. Paying staff well, empowering and sharing information with them and maintaining smallness are consistent themes across many of the successful business stories we’ve studied. When it comes to the specifics of retailing, the analogy of super-volume stores better able to provide balance is a useful one. As are the insights into economies of scale, pricing strategy, jettisoning poorly performing stores, the power of word-of-mouth marketing and the means to abolish bureaucracy through the outsourcing of non-essential functions. Every business has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Identifying what they are and how they contribute to a firm’s success can provide clues in our own quest to find compounding machines; in the long run, it’s business success which determines share prices. The more businesses you study, the larger the toolkit of mental models you’ll have to apply in your investment endeavours. Source: 'Becoming Trader Joe - How I Did Business My Way & Still Beat the Big Guys,’ Joe Coulombe, Patty Civalleri. Harper Collins. 2021. Follow us on Twitter : @mastersinvest * NEW * Visit the Blog Archive Article by Investment Masters Class Updated on Oct 26, 2021, 1:11 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 26th, 2021

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny?

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny? Submitted by Mark Jeftovic of Bombthrower.com Could This be a Blow-Off Top for Tyranny? King John’s military failure at the Battle of Bouvines triggered the barons’ revolt, but the roots of their discontent lay much deeper. King John ruled England in a ruthless manner at a time when the instruments of government and the practices of the courts were becoming consolidated. Eventually the barons could no longer abide the unpredictable ruling style of their kings. Their discontent came to a head during John’s reign. — Magna Carta, Muse and Mentor   There was a lot of defeatism evident in the comments on my recent series of posts, Why the West can’t ban Bitcoin, How we know Bitcoin is a force for good and No-Coiners don’t get that it’s not up to the government.  The overall timbre being that governments are all-powerful and that they will simply ban or outlaw emergent phenomenon that doesn’t suit their purposes. For awhile this was also my concern. When I wrote Domestic Terror is a Government Without Constraints it was motivated from a place of angst and hopelessness. However as we’ve all been watching events unfold, my mindset around this has been shifting. I have been coming across instance after instance of historical accounts on how seemingly unassailable and despotic regimes were swept away in mere moments of time, when it was least expected, when they seemed to be at the height of their power and poised to consolidate it even more. It is in these inflection points where nobody is aware of their existence, a grain of sand shifts somewhere and suddenly a geopolitical Minsky Moment ensues. Then it’s all over: The fall of the 300-year old Romanov dynasty and 800 year line of Tsars in a weekend over 1917 a few months after an obscure prince named Felix Yusopov murdered a peasant scoundrel named Rasputin The collapse of the Soviet Eastern Bloc in 1989 after gateway between Austria and Hungary was opened one weekend during a Pan-European picnic. It led to the collapse of the USSR after a failed hardliner coup in 1991. In 1945, the government of Haiti was overthrown in an uprising three days after the French writer and revolutionary Andre Breton gave a speech on Surrealism in Port-Au-Prince. Back in the days of William Buckler’s The Privateer newsletter, there was another, lesser known but just good newsletter by Mark Rostenko called The Sovereign Strategist (I have to admit modelling The Crypto Capitalist on both). Rostenko once wrote: “Nothing is bigger than the market. Nothing.” Rostenko quit in disgust and moved to the wilderness, I had brief communications with him over the years including this interview on my old blog. But my last couple emails to him have gone unanswered. What Rostenko may have lost faith in, for the moment, was that “the market” is really another word for The People. Every individual should be free to conduct their daily affairs in a way that serves their rational self-interest. I can hear the collectivists shrieking at that statement. To them I would simply dismiss their claims on everyone else’s autonomy by saying that when particular self-interested behaviours begin to adversely impact on the commons of everybody, then in an undistorted,  free market we would see it in rising costs or other market signals that would change the incentive structure and with it, everybody’s behaviours would adjust. Example: in a truly catastrophic global pandemic with a Black Plague, Ebola or Spanish Flu level of lethality, nobody would have be compelled to wear a mask, stay off the streets or queue up for a vaccine. In my piece that government can’t ban crypto, the naysayers converged around two objections: FDR’s gold ban of 1932 and Communist Centralist China now. FDR’s Gold Ban of 1933 This is one of those episodes in history where people simply don’t look beyond the headline. All they know that is in 1933 a series of executive orders were passed to remove the ability to hold gold privately or specify it as a payment method in contracts and they assume that was it: in a puff of edict, all privately held gold simply disappeared from the public’s hands (“checkmate, Bitcoin cultist”). Everybody is expecting one of these for a specialized area of mathematics called Bitcoin. But that isn’t what happened. In Kenneth R. Ferguson’s “Confiscation: Gold as Contraband 1933-1975” we get a more nuanced look at what the effect and implications of the gold ban were, including the haunting parallels to today’s Lockdown Society and it’s war on small business and the middle class. Our lack of insight into this era… “gives short change to the legitimate concerns of the people who were most opposed to President Roosevelt’s gold policies—farmers, blue collar workers, small business proprietors—and who believed democracy had been circumvented. Just a few years earlier, in the late 1920s, the mere thought of gold confiscation would have been inconceivable to everyone, including those who later supported it.” The gold ban came after FDR and the Democrats ran a campaign premised on a balanced budget and reduced government spending (yes, really). By the time he came into office the Great Depression was in full swing, the S&P had come off 80% from its 1929 high, unemployment was at 25%. England was forced to abandon its gold standard in 1931 and 25 other countries followed suit within the year. The newly elected president came into office facing a wave of  bank runs and took over the entire financial sector on his second day in office, “emergency executive control over all banking and currency transactions.” FDR blamed gold hoarding for the nation’s banking crisis, however: He failed to explain hoarding as a way of protecting a life savings in the face of frequent and increasing bank insolvency coupled with no depositor insurance, or to identify speculative activity abroad as foreigners exchanging their dollar assets for gold in anticipation of dollar devaluation. Most people would understand these choices as rational, but Roosevelt labeled them “unwarranted” and “speculative” in an emotional appeal to wrongdoing. The emphasis is added, because it highlights our main assertion: at some point rational self-interest creates an environment that incentivizes certain behaviours in spite of those that the government is attempting to induce. In fact, the harder the government may try to impose behaviours that are against the rabble’s own interests, the more vigorously they may adapt the discouraged behaviour  (also see: Bitcoin). FDR’s administration escalated the war on savers by ratcheting up the restrictions against gold: “The gold policies of President Roosevelt over a ten-month period provided a classic example of a political slippery slope. On April 5, the President declared “hoarding” to be illegal, and on August 28 the crime was elevated to “holding.” On December 28, 1933, the Secretary of the Treasury finalized the mandate by “requiring the delivery of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates to the Treasurer of the United States” (that is, from the theoretically-temporary hands of the banks into the more permanent possession of the government itself.) This is the definition of confiscation; it merely took ten months to be so stated.” Ferguson’s book does a masterful job detailing the machinations of this chapter in US and economic history, in details far exceeding my available bandwidth here. So what actually did happen? Compliance turned out to be low: it was estimated that $287 million USD of gold was in the public hands at the time of the ban. This excludes gold already exported out of the country by those who saw it coming (Canada was a favourite destination and waypoint) and the wealthy who were speculating against a USD currency devaluation using gold held offshore. Of that remaining stash in US public hands, compliance was estimated to be less than 50% by some tallies. The total face value of all gold coinage surrendered between 1933 and 1965 was less than $12 million USD, or approximately 4% of outstanding gold coinage. China’s Bitcoin Ban From my latest Crypto Capitalist letter, I cover the general situation in China: China’s crypto ban is actually less about crypto and more about state control over everything. There are rumours that China will soon break up Alipay, the overarching pattern is that China perceives Big Tech and decentralized tech as threats to the CCP hegemony, and they are moving to crush all opposition. Only by moving to outlaw entire industries, especially the ones poised to inherit the future, China may be repeating the same error that made over 500 years ago, when they ceded passage over the open seas to Europe, who went on to shape the trajectory of the world while China atrophied into centuries of internal strife and conflict: “More than five centuries ago, three ancient civilizations made three crucial decisions that largely preordained their subsequent collapse. As always, during periods of stress, these choices were not perceived as either critical or damaging. Indeed on the contrary, they were viewed positively as constructive responses to the contemporary problems that helped to strengthen their respective societies. In a matter of several decades between 1433 and 1485, China, Russia and the Ottomans independently decided that interactions with foreigners, trade, innovation, civil and property rights, education, and freedom to exchange views were contrary to the interests of the state and social cohesion” — Victor Shvets, The Great Rupture Is China making the same mistake now? We can already see that an outright ban on Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in China has had no effect on them globally. Zero. Think about that. Also note that reminiscent of how gold was exported from the US ahead of the gold ban in 1932 (not because anybody saw the ban coming per se, but because a devaluation of the USD was seen as likely), the largest Chinese crypto exchanges have been exiting China since 2017. Binance is still operating full-tilt having moved their HQ from Hong Kong to Bahamas, which is quite literally a page from The Sovereign Individual playbook – moving from a jurisdiction hostile to your interests to one accommodating to them.  Binance has its own exchange token (BNB) which at a $64B market cap makes it the 5th largest crypto currency in the world, and a Layer 1 blockchain (Binance Smartchain) that currently has a little under $20B TVL in DeFi, which definitely puts it somewhere on the Network State / Crypto-clave spectrum. Something similar happened with Chinese miners, who are moving to the West or other Asian jurisdictions. Interestingly, most of the crypto entities that arose there and then fled, came up in Hong Kong, which has had a taste of free market capitalism until the big rug pull in that respect in recent years. In mainland China itself, they’ve always been living under totalitarianism and the population is inculcated to it. But even there, how long can the Chinese people, catching glimpses through the Great Firewall of far  more marginally freer people, especially those in Hong Kong, abide by tyranny? How long can that centralized, top-down repression truly continue for? Life in liberal democracies is traditionally supposed to be anything goes except that which is expressly illegal. But we’ve had two years of rule by edict and that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. How long can this continue for? On a local level, some restaurants in Toronto are deciding not to enforce vax mandates. The longer the mandates continue, I expect more restaurants to begin eschewing them, because their economic self-interest is served by doing so. Even fully vaxxed people are curbing their outings because dinner and a movie feels more like internment into a gulag than a family night out. Venues that help people regain that sense of normalcy and comfort will attract the business, not the ones who force you to show “your papers please” on the way in. In Australia, the peasants are revolting, and even if the civil aviation authority is trying to ban drones from capturing the footage of these occurrences, they are still occurring and footage is getting out nonetheless. Varying US states ruling against vaccine and mask mandates, people are setting up job boards for those who aren’t vaxxed (or those who are but don’t want to work for companies that require it). The transportation system is grinding to a halt as air traffic controllers, air crew and pilots are calling in sick, resulting in mass flight cancelations, who knows where it will spread next. Why? The MSM is trying hard not to find out, but guys like Ron Paul suspect vaccine mandates. Right now we’re in civil disobedience, nullification and secessionist territory, but when I think about escalation: as the financial crisis that seemed imminent before COVID seems to be edging back into the frame (inflation, energy costs, supply chain constraints, cascading debt collapses: Evergrande and now the entire Chinese bond market) governments who seized on the COVID opportunity to introduce emergency measures may see a need for doubling down. After chasing the goalposts for almost two years now, I’m not sure the rabble is going to take it much longer. And if it doesn’t, what would that mean? #WorldWarWe In a recent podcast I was listening to (I think it was Sahill Bloom on Bankless, but it’s possible I’m misremembering and I’m sorry if so), he said something almost off-handedly: He said, in effect, “the next world war will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen” – and I expected him to talk about non-conventional warfare, such as bio-weapons, information warfare, and economics (“war by other means”), but instead he said “World War III will be everybody against their own governments” When you think about it, one realizes that today’s technology, with decentralization, cryptography, 3-D printing and drones could actually make this a possibility. In David Hambling’s Swarm Troopers: How Small Drones Can Conquer the World, he outlines how governments, whose military used to have technologies 20 years ahead of the general populace, have become so bureaucratized and sclerotic that they now move at a fraction of the pace of the highly competitive private sector: “If a commercial product goes through a generation every two years and the military cycle takes six years per generation, then in twelve years the military product goes from being four times as powerful as the competition to a quarter as powerful.” An example of this dynamic we can already see having played out is the Internet, which came out of the military industrial complex and in its day, was light-years ahead of anything the general public had (Compuserve, GEnie). But the “genie” did indeed get out of the bottle, and once the private sector got onto it and ran with it, it changed the fundamental architecture of power. The groundwork was laid for the evolution of societies in ways that would challenge, and will inevitably overwhelm the nation states that let it out. Say hello to the Network State and crypto claves. So now that we’re here in The Jackpot, do we honestly believe that the slowest, most bureaucratic, rigid an inflexible entities (governments) are actually going to win the race for primacy in a rapidly decentralizing world? When the gargantuan imbalances they created over the last century finally experience their all-encompassing, self-induced Global Minsky Moment? It was under FDR’s gold ban that dissenting Supreme Court Justice McReynolds ruminated that it meant the demise of the US Constitution: It is impossible to fully estimate the result of what has been done. The Constitution as many of us have understood it, the instrument that has meant so much to us, is gone. The guarantees heretofore supposed to protect against arbitrary action have been swept away. The powers of Congress have been so enlarged that now no man can tell their limitations. Guarantees heretofore supposed to prevent arbitrary action are in the discard… Shame and humiliation are upon us now. Moral and financial chaos may confidently be expected. While in those days the ban on gold was ineffective and compliance less than half, it did succeed in stripping the US citizenry of constitutional protections which has only escalated into the present day. We have all been treating what happened under COVID as something unprecedented. But if you think of Lockdown Society and The New Normal not as the implementation of a quasi-one-world government , ushering in a global police state, but instead as the crescendo, of a roughly century long process of creeping tyranny…. one of those infamous blow-off tops that are unrecognizable to us now because we are immersed in it, still experiencing it. Despite the overwhelming arsenals of governments, the militarization of civilian police forces, and near ubiquitous surveillance capabilities, there’s never been a time in history when the people have the means to rebel, both within the system and without. Especially here in North America, where to avoid retyping all this, allow me to simply excerpt a passage from the most recent edition of The Crypto Capitalist letter…. “The Future of Life Institute made docudrama short-film called “Slaughterbots”, it’s 7 minutes long and nothing short of chilling, but we’d be fools to think that if technology has this capability already, it won’t be used. By somebody: Mexican cartels are already using drones to smuggle drugs, not to mention weaponized drones in combat with each other and on at least one occasion used them to attack the police. It’s still under-appreciated how significant a change this is. On par with the gunpowder revolution and aerial warfare, autonomous weapons and drones are yet another technology in the process of changing the rules of the game. This brings us to the important part: we can already see that these technologies won’t just change the nature of conflict between governments. Drones are also accessible to non-state actors, perhaps even more-so. They will alter the relationship of power across society as a whole. When also you factor in their close cousin, 3-D printed weapons, we really begin to understand what a fundamental shift in the landscape decentralization and digital technology really implies. One of the defining characteristics that makes America, and certain other countries so different from, say, China, or even Australia, is the level to which the citizenry is armed. Especially in North America. The US and Mexico are two of the only three countries in world where gun ownership is a Constitutional right (the third is Guatemala) while even here in Canada, where it isn’t, we have one of the higher per-capita levels of gun ownership (somewhere around 34 guns per 100 people). Imagine a future in which all these gun owners have the capability and incentives to print up their own weapons on 3- D printers. Then deploying them via drones, possibly swarms of them, for whatever purpose. There is no technological barrier from them doing so, and doing so right now. What scenarios or conditions would have to exist to galvanize that kind of behaviour en masse? How close are we to those conditions now? Are we moving toward those conditions or away from them? Most importantly, do you think whoever is in government could stop it? If you consider this, then we can get a sense of why governments and policymakers are so eager to assert their authority now and to appear to be unassailable and omnipotent. I think it’s fear.” To be clear: I am not advocating an armed rebellion against incumbent governments. I’m observing how decentralization and cryptography have changed the architecture of power and asking what kind of incentives would have to be in place to make what I describe inevitable. The Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movements were the second half of the one-two punch that set all this in motion. The Internet freed the flow of information, and in a world where “whosoever controls the monetary system, controls society (Zarlenga)”, cryptos have taken the punch-bowl of monetary control away from the State in a truly Promethean manner, and open-sourced it. Who controls money now? Everybody. There is a point beyond which the citizenry will stop viewing each other as enemies (left vs right) and start viewing their own governments as the enemy (overlords vs rabble). If that happens, then the incentives and conditions will be in place for #WorldWarWe. Coda: As per the comment from Matt below, I am deeply saddened to learn that Mark Rostenko passed away July 26, 2020. We never met, but I considered him an internet friend and I respected him a lot. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

58 thoughtful gifts to give your friends under $100

Buying gifts for friends is a thoughtful way to show them how much you care. Here are 58 gift ideas for your friend, all for less than $100. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Getty Images Whether it's your friend's birthday or you simply want to say thank you, they deserve the best. We rounded up 58 gifts, each under $100, that your special friend will treasure. Still looking for gift ideas? Check out all Insider Reviews gift guides here. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyFriends are the ones you rely upon, confide in, and plague with everything from menu choices to whether or not you should move across the country for a new job. So when those gifting occasions roll around, it can be difficult to find something adequately thoughtful to give to that important person - especially within the relatively affordable under-$100 range.To make things easier for you, we put together a list of unique, thoughtful gifts that your friend would love to receive - all for less than $100.Below are 58 gifts under $100 that your friend will actually want: A set of friendship lights Urban Outfitters Brookstone Friendship Lamp Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $89.95If your close friend lives far away, let them know you're always thinking of them with this friendship light. Your friend will know you haven't forgotten them by tapping your light to instantly activate their twin light. A luxurious lavender scent perfume Nordstrom Yves Saint Laurent Libre Fragrance, available at Nordstrom, from $25.50A designer perfume like this Saint Laurent fragrance is a fitting gift for a friend who enjoys luxurious items. The floral fragrance's bold lavender scent appeals to the confident friend who's daring and always lives true to herself. A gold bracelet with her favorite football team Baublebar NFL x Baublebar Gold Pisa Bracelet, available at Baublebar, $30Even if you don't share in friend's enthusiasm for sports, this sports team bracelet shows you get them. Match the bracelet with their favorite team to help her be prepared for the next game day outfit. A relaxing weighted blanket Amazon Luna Weight Blanket, available at Amazon, $76.99For the friend who's constantly working or just needs a chance to unwind, a weighted blanket can make all the difference. We love this one because it's wallet-friendly but still made from quality materials like Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and natural glass beads.  A scent tied to a favorite place Amazon Homesick candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34For your old college roommate or your friend who's taken a job across the country, this candle is a sweet reminder of home. A planner to help them stay organized Rifle Paper Co. 2022 17-Month Large Planner, available at Rifle Paper Co., $36Your Type A friend will thank you for this planner and its neat, detailed layout. The 17-month design means they can finish out this year and be set for the new year. Plus, two pages of colorful stickers can help liven up the notes, weekly, and monthly planning pages. A neoprene makeup bag from a cool startup they'll love Dagne Dover Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is one of our all-time favorite handbag companies, and most of that has to do with quality, style, and unmatched attention to detail. The Hunter bag comes in six colors of water-resistant neoprene. It has helpful features like elastic lip gloss loops, slip pockets and a removable zipper pouch for compacts and shadows, and a smooth lining that's easily cleaned. Zipper tabs can be unsnapped to adjust the shape, too.  A playful earbud pouch for that one forgetful friend Baggu Puffy Earbuds Case, available at Baggu, $14If you have a friend who tends to lose their AirPods or earbuds all too often, this unique case attaches straight onto their keyring. Plus, it's quilted, padded, and machine washable. The pouch fastens with velcro and comes in fun colors and patterns like leopard print and stripe. A phone case and wallet all-in-one Nomad Rugged Folio, available at Nomad, $69.95You might have a friend who doesn't like carrying around bulky wallets and would rather keep it simple and sleek. This leather folio case sports three card slots and one cash slot, and also has a new internal shock absorption bumper that protects against 10-foot drops. Best of all, it's made of Horween leather, which ages and appears more rugged as time passes.  A Fitbit for the activity tracker newcomer Fitbit Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Walmart, $87.99If they're contemplating joining the Fitbit bandwagon, they'll appreciate this uncomplicated activity tracker that monitors their exercise, sleep, and heart rate. It's slimmer than its counterparts, but still lasts for 10 days, has 20+ different exercise modes, and receives basic smartphone notifications. A high-tech towel that's better for their hair AQUIS Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. It also prevents hygral fatigue — the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz and damage — by cutting the hair's drying time by 50%. Their favorite specialty food straight from the source Goldbelly/Instagram Order their favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.  A book of witty, quirky postcards Amazon/Business Insider 'Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care,' available at Amazon, $8.34"Friendship Maintenance" adds a more personal touch to the frequent check-ins you're probably already having with one another. The witty postcards weave in themes of friendship in a hilariously relatable way. A tie-dye kit Amazon/Business Insider Just My Style Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $7.03Tie-dye has made a resurgence: It's a socially distant (or virtual) activity that friends can enjoy together. They'll appreciate this affordable tie-dye kit that will provide them with enough dye for up to 12 projects. A gift card to a popular wine subscription club Winc Gift Card, available at Winc, from $60Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions.  A custom note with a surprise inside Greetabl/Business Insider Greetabl Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $14Greetabl is one of the Insider Reviews team's favorite modes of checking in on those we love. The customizable box includes a fun print, a spot for a personal message, and the selection of a small gift like Sugarfina treats or quirky pins.  An upgrade to the classic travel pillow Amazon/Business Insider Trtl Pillow Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow, available at Amazon, $29.99One of the best gifts for frequent travelers is a genuinely supportive neck pillow. The super-soft fleece of the Trtl holds the neck and head in an ergonomic position during flight, and it's lightweight — weighing only about a half a pound — so it won't weigh them down too much. Read our full review of the pillow here. There's also a newer, slightly more expensive version that we like too.  A hilarious collection of Tinder exchanges that, altogether, become one modern horror story Amazon/Business Insider "Tinder Nightmares," available on Amazon, $14.95"Tinder Nightmares" is a modern horror story of Tinder exchanges organized by theme, with chapters such as Bad English, Broetry, Strange Requests, Sneak Attacks, and more. The Instagram account of the same name has nearly 2 million followers. But beware — like Tinder, this book is not for the faint of heart.  A set of the best socks they'll ever wear Bombas Women's Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Original Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, from $47.50Bombas' ankle socks have extra blister tabs to prevent chafing, a honeycomb arch-support system to cradle the foot's arch, and a seamless toe that gets rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes of most socks.  A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Three Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99This subscription gift was handcrafted for bookworms. Book of the Month has been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye." A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep.If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A makeup and skincare subscription Birchbox Three Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $30-$45Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products so subscribers can find products they love without committing to buying full-sized anything in the meantime. It's also a monthly excuse for them to treat themselves. An insulated stainless steel water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hours Amazon Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug (12 oz), available at Amazon, from $24.44This double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel mug is especially perfect for commuters who would rather drink hot coffee than room-temperature for the 45 minutes on the subway — or any other time. We're big fans, and it does a pretty incredible job of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to six hours.  A gimmicky-seeming nail polish holder they'll actually wind up using Amazon/Business Insider Tweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder, available on Amazon, $9.99Finding a convenient spot to place an open bottle of sticky, vibrant, and fast-drying liquid while you paint your nails is not easy. This $10 nail polish holder looks gimmicky, but it's actually pretty useful.  A funny adult coloring book Amazon Wine Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $6.99Adult coloring has had a resurgence in recent years as a great de-stressor (even Kate Middleton is a fan). It turns out, though, that adult coloring is even more fun with adult beverages. Here's one that combines both.  A brass and wood display box that's a bit cooler than the average picture frame Artifact Uprising Brass & Wood Display Box, available at Artifact Uprising, $55Artifact Uprising's brass and hardwood Display Box is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional picture frame. They can showcase their favorite picture by sliding it into the front of the box, and the box itself can hold up to 50 five-inch by five-inch Square Prints inside.If you're just looking for prints, you can find those starting at $9 here. A silk pillowcase for smoother hair and less breakage Amazon Celestial Silk 100% Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, $40.99This Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's nearly $40 on Amazon, but it gives you more silk per square inch than options twice the price at Sephora. It's made out of 100% Mulberry silk — one of the highest quality silks you can buy — and comes in more than 25 colors and three sizes: standard, queen, and king. It's the one I personally own, and it makes a big difference for frizzy hair.  A poetry book that has become a phenomenon Urban Outfitters/Business Insider Milk and Honey, available at Target, from $7.38Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" is a New York Times bestseller and a small cultural phenomenon. It's a collection of poetry and prose dealing with love, loss, femininity, and survival. If they already have this, you may want to look into Cleo Wade's "Where to Begin" here. A yoga mat towel with skid-less technology made by a trusted company Amazon Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $45.39Manduka consistently makes some of the best yoga gear on the market, and their cult-favorite Yogitoes mat towels aren't an exception — they'd probably be the main response if you asked around yoga studios for a mat towel recommendation. They have patented skid-less technology that uses 100% silicone nubs, and it makes a big difference. Each Yogitoes towel is also made from at least eight recycled plastic water bottles, and the dyes used to make it are free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. A vitamin C serum developed by MIT scientists that keeps selling out Maelove Glow Maker, available at Maelove, $27.95Maelove is a skincare company founded by a team of MIT grads (skincare obsessives, brain and cancer researchers, and chemical engineers) to make affordable, high-quality skincare accessible. The entire under-$30 line is supposedly great, but this $28 vitamin C serum (which people have likened to the multi-award-winning $166 C E Ferulic Serum) is the real showstopper — and it keeps selling out. I've tried it, and it does a great job of reducing hyperpigmentation, hydrating, and adding a "glow" to the skin.Read our full Maelove review here.  A monogrammed leather passport case Leatherology Standard Passport Cover, available at Leatherology, from $50For the world traveler, adventure companion, or person who has a lot of places left to see before they're satisfied, this leather passport cover is one of the best mixes of quality for price you're bound to find. You can also personalize your gift further with a monogram (starting as an extra $10). Every time they use it, they'll think of you.  A design service that can help them figure out their decor or new apartment layout Modsy Premium Package, available at Modsy, $159Whether they're moving, always talking about redecorating, or would love a gallery wall but don't want to expend the necessary brain power, they'll appreciate a Modsy gift. The service makes an exact 3D, digital replica of their room and fills it with actual pieces of furniture from well-known brands that they can buy on the spot. A super soft $75 cashmere sweater from a sustainable startup Naadam The Essential Cashmere Sweater, available at Naadam, $75This $75 cashmere sweater is one of the best I've worn, and it took me by surprise for $75. You can get it in either crew-neck or v-neck styles, unisex sizing, and 20 colors. In person, the cashmere is one of the softest I've felt.Plus, Naadam is a sustainable startup. They avoid toxic chemicals, invest in sustainable grazing practices, fund better vaccination programs for healthier goats, and use 100% clean energy to power production facilities. By cutting out middlemen, they pay nomadic herders about 50% more and charge about 50% less to customers without changing quality. A new book by the co-creator of "Broad City" Amazon/Business Insider I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff, available at Amazon, $10.64This book by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of "Broad City", deals with love, loss, work, comedy, and identity.  A soft, durable pair of slippers they'll want to live in Nordstrom UGG Ansley Water Resistant Slipper, available at Nordstrom, from $99.95They're not a new name, but UGG slippers have stuck around for a very good reason: they're incredibly soft, durable, and made really well. The sole is sturdy enough to withstand walks to the mailbox, and the water-resistant material can take a little gross winter slush on the way there.If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, check out Minnetonka — we're big fans of their mix of price and quality, too. An award-winning at-home facial Sephora Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This now-legendary AHA and BHA at-home "facial" gently resurfaces the skin to remove built-up dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. It's also won multiple notable beauty awards, including a Best of Beauty from Allure and Reader's Choice from InStyle in 2017. For more skincare products, check out the best luxury skincare on Amazon and best gifts from Sephora here. Popular leggings they can wear anywhere Outdoor Voices Outdoor Voices Core 3/4 Leggings, available at Outdoor Voices, $88It seems like everyone and their best friend is talking about Outdoor Voices leggings, and these are the company's most sweat-friendly option.  A card game to play with other friends to rehash favorite stories and learn some new ones Amazon/Business Insider The Voting Game Adult Card Game, available at Target, $19.99The Voting Game is basically a card game that gives you a funny prompt and invites you to anonymously answer "Who's the most likely to..." out of your friends. It's a great way to rehash your favorite memories and learn new stories. A vase and smartphone stand handmade from glazed stoneware Uncommon Goods Bedside Smartphone Vase, available at Uncommon Goods, $32These smartphone stands are handmade out of glazed stoneware, and they double as vases so their owner can have the benefit of convenience without totally giving into the sterility of tons of tech devices. A mug with a "coffee reading" tarot-inspired theme Society6/Business Insider Coffee Reading, available at Society6, $13.59Perfect for the avid coffee drinker or casual fan of the occult, this ceramic mug made by the independent artists of Society6 is a fun — and useful — gift. They've also got pretty much every mug pattern you could want. A cocktail recipe book that pairs music with good drinks Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Amazon, $21.99Have a friend that loves music and a nice cocktail? This pairs both for a perfect combination every time. The guide includes music from 70 albums, ranging from the '50s to the '00s, with an accompanying A-side and B-side cocktail for each — all organized by mood.  A tiny waffle maker Amazon/Business Insider Dash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $12.99This mini waffle maker may seem more gimmick than substance, but it didn't garner 1,800+ reviews just for being pretty cute. It's compact for small kitchens and people who only want to make three waffles rather than buffet quantities, and it's really easy to clean. A screw-on top that turns a wine bottle into a glass Amazon/Business Insider Guzzle Buddy Wine Bottle Glass, available on Amazon, $15.06If they're more of a "one bottle per person" vino drinker, why not cut out the middleman with this twist-on bottle-to-glass helper?  The personal diary of icon Frida Kahlo Amazon "The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", available at Amazon, $21.94In the last 10 years of her life, Friday Kahlo kept a journal full of thoughts, poems, illustrations, and dreams. This is it, and it's a particularly perfect gift for an artistic or feminist friend.  Machine-washable sneakers they'll wear all the time Allbirds Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98Soft, lightweight, breathable shoes that wick away moisture and can be tossed in a machine washer when they get dirty — what's not to love?  A guard to keep away hot, messy splatter Amazon/Business Insider Frywall 10 Splatter Guard, available at Sur La Table, $13.99A splatter guard gives you the benefit of an uncovered pan, minus the countertop cleaning and dodging of hot, popping oil. An elegant, unobtrusive diffuser that smells great Snowe Diffuser, available at Snowe, $40Snowe's Diffuser has the advantage of looking more like home decor than a diffuser, but it also fills the room with a wonderful smell. Plus, the bottles of scent tend to last for months. Pick it up for a friend in five scent options that range from Speak Easy (leather, bitters, burnt cedar) to Pillow Talk (sandalwood, ginger, lavender).  A beautiful candle that smells amazing Otherland Manor House Weekend Candle, available at Otherland, $36Otherland is a candle company started by Ralph Lauren's former art buyer, Abigail Cook Stone. If you want to give your friend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from an up-and-coming startup that they've probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option.Read our full Otherland review here. A Tile with a replaceable battery to help them find missing keys and wallets Amazon Tile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2 Pack, available at Target, $59.99Few gifts are going to be as useful as a Tile Pro with a replaceable battery. It'll help them find missing items like keys and wallets. An app on their phone can trigger the Tile to ring out so they can locate where they accidentally left their belongings.  A rechargeable battery Amazon Anker PowerCore 10000, available at Amazon, $31.99Anker's PowerCore is a powerful, compact external battery that can provide nearly three and a half iPhone 8 charges or two and a half Galaxy S8 charges.  Luxurious bodycare products Necessarie Nécessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25Nécessaire is a new line of bodycare products that use vitamins and plant-based oils. It was founded by Randi Christiansen, a former Estée Lauder vice president, and Nick Axelrod, a co-founder of Into the Gloss, the editorial site that preceded Glossier. Read our full Nécessaire review here. A cute plant in a ceramic pot delivered to their door The Sill Shop plants and accessories at The Sill, from $5A plant from The Sill will come in a small ceramic pot with a drainage hole and its own saucer. It comes potted in the company's potting mix and will be delivered to their doorstep.  A renewing honey mask that warms up while it's on their face Sephora Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, available at Sephora, from $38This intensely hydrating mask from beauty brand Farmacy is infused with antioxidants to leave the skin looking glowy and plump. It also physically warms up while on the face, so the self care feels a bit more tangible.  A subscription to K-beauty sheet masks Facetory/Instagram/Business Insider Facetory Gift Subscription Plan, available at Facetory, from $19.90Facetory is an affordable monthly subscription to various K-beauty sheet masks. You can opt to pay for one, three, six, nine, or 12 months at a time.  A cult-favorite sleeping lip mask Sephora Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22Laneige's hyper-popular overnight lip mask smooths and moisturizes with vitamin C and antioxidants. Currently, it has over 13,000 reviews and a rating of 4.4-stars on Sephora.  A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the go Mark & Graham Leather Charger Roll Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $22.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free. A box of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate Amazon Chuao Chocolatier Share the Love 36-Piece Gift Set, available at Amazon, $39.95A box stuffed full of chocolate needs no introduction, but this one is a pretty good deal. The box comes with 36 mini bars of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate, all made in small batches and free of artificial flavors. The 14 flavors range from sweet to savory, and each bar is only 60 calories.  A ClassPass gift card Class Pass Gift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amountStart heading to more (virtual or socially distant) boutique fitness classes with your friend by making them easier and cheaper to attend. ClassPass lets you drop in to different specialized studios for $15 or less per class. A class or experience for you to take together Airbnb Experiences Check out local Airbnb ExperiencesCheck out local GrouponsOnce it's safe to do so, book an experience like a pasta-making class, brewery tour, or local tour that the two of you can enjoy together. Plus, you can buy this gift as last-minute as you like. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

33 appropriate and humorous gifts under $50 that your coworkers will actually love

We rounded up a master list of the best gift ideas for coworkers that they'll actually want to receive - all under $50. Getty Images Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Shopping for coworkers doesn't have to take a lot of time or money. You can find a unique, thoughtful gift under $50. Below, I've compiled 33 funny, thoughtful, and appropriate gifts under $50 that will serve you well. Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of the month. It's easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.But there are mountains of great coworker gifts out there. And they don't have to be expensive - in fact, they probably shouldn't be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.Check out all 33 gifts under $50 for your coworkers: A portable four-liter mini fridge Amazon Crownful Mini Fridge, available at Amazon, $43.99This mini-fridge is a lifesaver for coworkers whose food or drinks are always being taken in the office. The four-liter fridge can store up to six 12 ounce sodas and can switch between cold and warm temperatures. A set of four monogrammed pint glasses for after-work drinks Grommet Set of Four Monogram Pint Glasses, available at Grommet, $45Nothing shows true friendship at work like matching and personalized pint glasses. Engrave each pint glass with your work besties' initials to make every drink at happy hour feel more special and intimate. A USB connected disco light to liven up the office Uncommon Goods Disco to Go USB Light, available at Uncommon Goods, $20If they're always the life of the party, this portable disco ball is a great entertaining tool for any work event. From the office to happy hour, this USB disco ball instantly turns any meetup with colleagues into a party. A mini humidifier with color-changing lights Amazon URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser, available at Amazon, $15.99This essential oil diffuser is the perfect trick to gets rid of the stuffiness and feeling confined at an office desk. This small humidifier adds moist air while the auto color-changing LED lights soothe and enlivens the space.   A work from home kit filled with games and useful items Uncommon Goods Work from Home Survival Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $20This work from home kit makes working from a home a bit more bearable and less lonely. From the conference card bingo cards to the desk yoga guide, this fun kit brings remote coworkers together even if they are miles apart. A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees Driftaway Facebook Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $50If they're practically tethered to the coffee pot, they'll probably love the thoughtfulness of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup's beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep. A really nice bottle of olive oil Brightland Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37If they like to cook, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive Olive Oil from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the bottle is designed to be left out on display in their kitchen.  An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world's strangest and coolest places Amazon Atlas Obscura Color Page-A-Day Desk 2021 Calendar, available at Amazon, $15.99Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world's strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travelers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one. Mini succulents in ceramic planters Amazon/Business Insider StarPack Home 3-Piece Ceramic Succulent Planter, available at Amazon, $14.97If your desk-mate doesn't already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab these ceramic planters from Amazon and fill them with an assortment of succulents. According to science, it may make your coworker happier just to see the plants every day. Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods Uncommon Goods Wine Pairing Towel Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $28If you've got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They're thoughtful, informal, and unique. A candle that smells like their favorite state Amazon Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, starting at $34Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They're a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you're likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, your colleague will get to enjoy it for weeks to come — and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start. A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If your team includes a bookworm, they'll appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It's been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye". A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep. If your coworker is more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together Redbubble/Business Insider The This is Fine Mug, available at Redbubble, from $16.15A "This is Fine" mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night's too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here's a $15 nod to the fond shared stressors. A charging stand for their desk to keep things organized Amazon Anker Wireless Charger, available at Walmart, $19.49Help your coworker keep their cluttered wires under control with this wireless charger, which can charge through most protective phone cases.  A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk Bed Bath & Beyond Be Good Company Executive Mini Sandbox, available at Amazon, $24.99Know a coworker who'd rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more. A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours Hydro Flask Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Flask, available at Hydro Flask, $29.95It's often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We're big fans of the line. The best portable battery you can buy Amazon Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99If you want to get your colleague something they're sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because of its capacity, charging speed, and affordability. A self-betterment planner designed using the "best practices" of successful people in history Best Self Best Self Co. Planner, available at Best Self, $19.99If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they'll love this daily planner. It was created by a group of "human performance junkies" after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces. Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized Amazon/Business Insider Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Newegg, $11.16Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that's fun and practical. A beautiful candle from a cool startup Otherland Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36This is one candle they will be excited to receive. Otherland is a startup created by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. They're some of the most beautifully packaged and best smelling we've seen in a while — and they make great gifts.  An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you'll get to gifting never-ending convenience Amazon/Business Insider 6 ft Charging Cable, 3-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.98It's something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple of times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable. A notebook they can wipe clean and reuse Amazon/Business Insider Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook, available at Staples, $37The Rocketbook notebook is full of 21 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount. A glass Chemex that makes full-flavored coffee every time Williams-Sonoma Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $35.50Grab a glass Chemex from Williams-Sonoma that will deliver flavorful, sediment-free coffee routinely. The glass is heat-resistant, and the wood and leather collar serves as an insulated handle.  A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office Amazon Sriracha Keychain Combo Pack, available at Amazon, $13.99Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savory, or edible. The pack comes with a bottle of Sriracha and two differently sized keychains.  Tools for a night off and the "Do Nothing" sloth card made by an independent artist Society6/Business Insider "Do Nothing" Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $11.19Pair the sloth "Do Nothing" card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6's collection, it's also made by an independent artist — making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS. A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker Amazon/Insider Tile Mate Key Finder, available at Target, $24.99You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys that's compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone. A gift card to a popular healthy eating startup Daily Harvest Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50Daily Harvest is a meal delivery startup that makes healthy fast food that takes as little as 30 seconds to prepare. Meals are delicious, under $10 each, and designed by a chef and nutritionist team for taste and balance. It's great for healthy eaters, busy lifestyles, and solves pretty much all of our main roadblocks to eating well. A unique cocktail recipe book that matches a famous song with a complementary cocktail Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Barnes & Noble, $22.49Gift your favorite coworker a book that pairs some of the best music from the 1950s to the 2000s with cocktail recipes that match the song's mood, lyrical imagery, or the artists themselves.  A subscription that sends them cool new snacks Love With Food/Instagram/Business Insider Gift Subscription, available at Love With Food from $7.99/monthLove with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won't feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands. Plus, with every snack box that's delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to a family in need through a partnership with Feeding America.  A nice leather business card holder Leatherology Business Card Case, available at Leatherology, $45Leatherology makes luxe leather goods for less, and their $45 business card case is a great workplace gift for under $50. It has an invisible magnetic closure, holds up to 20 cards, and comes in a variety of leather types and colors. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.  A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card Baggu Small Baggu, available at Backcountry, $9.95Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that's perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily. A Bob Ross chia pet they can grow Amazon Bob Ross Chia Pet, available at Amazon, $20.99Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favor with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives. An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them Amazon Echo Dot, 4th Generation, available at Amazon, $49.99If they don't already have an Echo Dot, this is a great tech gift without quite breaking $50. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

See inside this 105,000-square-foot Los Angeles megamansion that was just marked down to a sale price of $225 million

The 105,000-square-foot Los Angeles mansion, called The One Bel Air, reportedly has 21 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, and more. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The One Bel Air is a 105,000-square-foot megamansion said to be the biggest modern home in the US. It was once marketed for $500 million but now has a $225 million asking price, the LA Times reports. It reportedly has 21 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, a nightclub, and more. See more stories on Insider's business page. A sprawling megamansion in Los Angeles is believed to be the biggest modern home in the US.Known as The One Bel Air, the property comes from film producer-turned-real estate developer Nile Niami, who initially hoped to sell it for a whopping $500 million, which would have made it one of the most expensive homes in the world. It comes with 21 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms, according to Architectural Digest. It also sports amenities like a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, a 50-car garage, 50-person movie theater, nightclub, cigar room, sky deck, putting green, salon, bowling alley, and more, according to The Los Angeles Times.After its owner defaulted on more than $100 million in loans and debt, The One is now in a court-ordered receivership. The mansion's initial asking price has been halved, and it's now selling for $225 million, the LA Times reports.Here's a look inside the enormous mansion: At 105,000 square feet, the mansion is believed to be the biggest modern home in the US, according to the Los Angeles Times. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images It's called The One Bel Air and boasts 21 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms, according to Architectural Digest. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Its developer, Nile Niami, initially hoped to sell it for $500 million. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images In the mansion's sprawling yard, you'll find a sculpture from Italian glass maker Simone Cenedese. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Here's the main entrance to the property. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Inside, the mansion's foyer has a rotating sculpture and floor-to-ceiling windows. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images In the dining room, you'll find a 10,000-bottle wine cellar. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images There's plenty of space to lounge around in the family living room. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images For some pampering, there's a hair and beauty salon. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The salon seems to be one of the more vibrantly colored rooms in the mansion, with glossy red walls. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The mansion also boasts an entertainment room with its own bar. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Next to the entertainment room, there's a private bowling alley. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images It has four lanes, several shelves of bowling shoes at the ready, and bowling balls oddly evocative of Trix cereal. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images For even more active recreation, the property's future residents can take advantage of the mansion's private nightclub. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Or, for less active leisure, there's a private 50-seat movie theater. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The One's 4,000-square-foot master bedroom has a walk-in closet with plenty of space for clothes, shoes, and accessories. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The mansion's future owners will find room for plenty of books in their private library, which has its own balcony. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Multiple swimming pools dot the property, like this one indoors, in a room with a living wall and a mirror on the ceiling... Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images ...and these two outdoors, one of which is on the rooftop of a 4,000-square-foot bedroom. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images This pool deck sits atop the private nightclub. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Another pool functions as a floating lounge. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Though the home was built in the last decade, it has taken a cue from the construction of centuries past with its moat surrounding the entire property. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Visitors to the mansion can have the guest house to themselves. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The guest house also has floor-to-ceiling windows... Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images ...and three bedrooms on its own. An interior view of three-bedroom guest house at The One Bel Air, a 105,000-square-foot mansion with a sky deck and putting green, night club, several swimming pools, a 50-seat theater, a four-lane bowling alley and more by Nile Niami of Skyline Development and designed by Paul McClean (McClean Design). The One is shown by court-appointed receiver Ted Lanes, who now controls the property and is in charge of finding a buyer and paying off the lenders and other creditors, gives a tour of The One, the 105,000 square foot house on sale in Bel Air. This is apparently the largest home for sale in the United States. The developer Nial Niami "listed" it for $500 million but got into financial trouble and was foreclosed upon by Don Hankey. Photo taken in Bel Air on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images After its owner defaulted on more than $100 million in loans and debt, the mansion is now controlled by court-appointed receiver Ted Lanes. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Lanes is now responsible for finding the mansion a buyer and paying off creditors, the LA Times reports. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The One is now going on sale for $225 million, according to the LA Times. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 28th, 2021

32 smart and humorous gifts that your coworkers will actually be happy to receive

We rounded up a master list of the best gift ideas for coworkers that they'll actually want to receive - all under $50. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Williams-Sonoma Shopping for coworkers doesn't have to take a lot of time or money.You can find a unique, thoughtful gift under $50 without much research (because we've done it for you).Below, I've compiled 32 gifts under $50 that will serve you well - some are funny, some are thoughtful, all are affordable, and most are impossible to hate. If you're still looking for inspiration, check out all of our gift guides here.Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of the month. It's easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.But there are mountains of great coworker gifts out there. And they don't have to be expensive - in fact, they probably shouldn't be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.Check out all 32 gifts under $50 for your coworkers: A USB connected disco light to liven up the office Uncommon Goods Disco to Go USB Light, available at Uncommon Goods, $20If they're always the life of the party, this portable disco ball is a great entertaining tool for any work event. From the office to happy hour, this USB disco ball instantly turns any meetup into a party. A mini humidifier with color-changing lights Amazon URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser, available at Amazon, $15.99This essential oil diffuser is the perfect trick to gets rid of the stuffiness and feeling confined at an office desk. This small humidifier adds moist air while the auto color-changing LED lights soothe and enlivens the space.    A work from home kit filled with games and useful items Uncommon Goods Work from Home Survival Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $20This work from home kit makes working from a home a bit more bearable and less lonely. From the conference card bingo cards to the desk yoga guide, this fun kit brings remote coworkers together even if they are miles apart. A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees Driftaway Facebook Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $50If they're practically tethered to the coffee pot, they'll probably love the thoughtfulness of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup's beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep. A really nice bottle of olive oil Brightland Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37If they like to cook, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive Olive Oil from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the bottle is designed to be left out on display in their kitchen.  An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world's strangest and coolest places Amazon Atlas Obscura Color Page-A-Day Desk 2021 Calendar, available at Amazon, $15.99Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world's strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travelers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one. Mini succulents in ceramic planters Amazon/Business Insider StarPack Home 3-Piece Ceramic Succulent Planter, available at Amazon, $14.97If your desk-mate doesn't already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab these ceramic planters from Amazon and fill them with an assortment of succulents. According to science, it may make them happier just to see the plants every day. Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods Uncommon Goods Wine Pairing Towel Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $28If you've got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They're thoughtful, informal, and unique. A candle that smells like their favorite state Amazon Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, starting at $34Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They're a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you're likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, they'll get to enjoy it for weeks to come — and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start. A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If your team includes a bookworm, they'll appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It's been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye". A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep. If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together Redbubble/Business Insider The This is Fine Mug, available at Redbubble, from $16.15A "This is Fine" mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night's too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here's a $15 nod to the fond shared stressors. A charging stand for their desk to keep things organized Amazon Anker Wireless Charger, available at Walmart, $29.96Help them keep their cluttered wires under control with this wireless charger, which can charge through most protective phone cases.  A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk Bed Bath & Beyond Be Good Company Executive Mini Sandbox, available at Amazon, $24.99Know somebody who'd rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more. A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours Hydro Flask Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Flask, available at Hydro Flask, $29.95It's often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We're big fans of the line. The best portable battery you can buy Amazon Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99If you want to get them something they're sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because of its capacity, charging speed, and affordability. A self-betterment planner designed using the "best practices" of successful people in history Best Self Best Self Co. Planner, available at Best Self, $19.99If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they'll love this daily planner. It was created by a group of "human performance junkies" after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces. Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized Amazon/Business Insider Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Newegg, $10.89Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that's fun and practical. A beautiful candle from a cool startup Otherland Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36This is one candle they will be excited to receive. Otherland is a startup created by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. They're some of the most beautifully packaged and best smelling we've seen in a while— and they make great gifts.  An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you'll get to gifting never-ending convenience Amazon/Business Insider 6 ft Charging Cable, 3-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.99It's something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple of times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable. A notebook they can wipe clean and reuse Amazon/Business Insider Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook, available at Staples, $37The Rocketbook notebook is full of 21 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount. A glass Chemex that makes full-flavored coffee every time Williams-Sonoma Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $35.50Grab a glass Chemex from Williams-Sonoma that will deliver flavorful, sediment-free coffee routinely. The glass is heat-resistant, and the wood and leather collar serves as an insulated handle.  A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office Amazon Sriracha Keychain Gift Pack, available at Amazon, $29.99Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savory, or edible. The pack comes with a bottle of Sriracha and six differently sized keychains.  A brownie pan that only makes edge pieces Amazon Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan, available at Amazon, $36.95This is exactly the kind of gift that seems more fun and clever than it is practical — until you're using it once a month religiously. Tools for a night off and the "Do Nothing" sloth card made by an independent artist Society6/Business Insider "Do Nothing" Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $11.19Pair the sloth "Do Nothing" card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6's collection, it's also made by an independent artist — making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS. A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker Amazon/Business Insider Tile Mate Key Finder, available at Target, $24.99You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys that's compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone. A gift card to a popular healthy eating startup Daily Harvest Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50Daily Harvest is a meal delivery startup that makes healthy fast food that takes as little as 30 seconds to prepare. Meals are delicious, under $10 each, and designed by a chef and nutritionist team for taste and balance. It's great for healthy eaters, busy lifestyles, and solves pretty much all of our main roadblocks to eating well. A unique cocktail recipe book that matches a famous song with a complementary cocktail Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Barnes & Noble, $22.49Gift your favorite coworker a book that pairs some of the best music from the 1950s to the 2000s with cocktail recipes that match the song's mood, lyrical imagery, or the artists themselves.  A subscription that sends them cool new snacks Love with Food/Instagram/Business Insider Gift Subscription, available at Love With Food from $7.99/monthLove with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won't feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands. Plus, with every snack box that's delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to a family in need through a partnership with Feeding America.  A nice leather business card holder Leatherology Business Card Case, available at Leatherology, $45Leatherology makes luxe leather goods for less, and their $45 business card case is a great workplace gift for under $50. It has an invisible magnetic closure, holds up to 20 cards, and comes in a variety of leather types and colors. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.  A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card Baggu Small Baggu, available at Backcountry, $9.95Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that's perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily. A Bob Ross chia pet they can grow Amazon Bob Ross Chia Pet, available at Amazon, $19.76Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favor with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives. An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them Amazon Echo Dot, 4th Generation, available at Amazon, $49.99If they don't already have an Echo Dot, this is a great tech gift without quite breaking $50. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 28th, 2021

Asheville boasts one of the longest foliage seasons in the US - these 10 central hotels offer striking views

These are the best hotels in Asheville, NC including Grand Bohemian, the Biltmore, Cambria, the Renaissance, Kimpton, and Omni Grove Park Inn. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Omni Hotels Asheville is a big city with a small-town feel in North Carolina. Asheville is near national parks and is known for vibrant dining, breweries, art, and music. Asheville's best hotels are also varied, from boutique inns to B&Bs and brand name luxury. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyWith unbelievable mountain views, a thriving food and drink scene, an emphasis on nature, and a penchant for the arts, Asheville is a must-visit destination. Sitting on "America's Prettiest Drive," the Blue Ridge Parkway, it has mild seasons year-round and one of the longest, most vibrant fall foliage seaons in the US.I've been visiting Asheville for the past decade, and throughout the pandemic, it made it my go-to road trip for its accessible location, outdoor activities, and how safely it's handled COVID-19. Follow my lead and plan a trip to Asheville with a stay at one of the following standout hotels that range from cozy bed and breakfast in a historic neighborhood to trendy downtown high rise, and the lap of luxury at a five-star spa hotel. Browse the best Asheville hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area here:The best hotels in AshevilleFAQ: Asheville, NC hotelsHow we selected the best hotels in AshevilleMore of the best hotels on the East CoastThese are the best hotels in Asheville, sorted by price from low to high. Cambria Downtown Ashville Floor-to-ceiling windows offer direct views of Pisgah Mountain. Booking.com Book Cambria Downtown AshevilleCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $128/$515Best for: Couples, friends, families, solo travelers, business travelers On-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, convenience store, meeting roomsPros: Every room is thoughtfully designed with wide foyers, Bluetooth mirrors in the bathroom, and desks and beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows with mountain views.Cons: TVs only have a few channels and don't connect to streaming services, so don't count on a lot of in-room entertainment.Located next to historic Grove Arcade, the Cambria Downtown Asheville places you in an ideal location to explore Downtown's revered restaurants, bars, breweries, and galleries on foot.The rooms are loft-style, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering direct views of Pisgah Mountain and more space to spread out than most standard hotel rooms. As you walk in, a foyer gradually widens, opening up to a space marked by crisp white beds, a desk, plenty of electrical outlets and USB ports, wood floors, and exposed red brick walls with eye-catching splashes of blue. The bathroom is spacious with a large vanity, walk-in showers, bathtubs in some rooms, and the coolest part, Bluetooth mirrors that can play your music while you get ready.A sundry in the lobby is packed with healthy meals to prepare in your in-room microwave, or head to Hemingway's, a Cuban restaurant and bar on the fourth-floor with a terrace and fire pits. Locals pack this rooftop on weekend nights, so make a reservation to grab a seat. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Renaissance Asheville Hotel Rooms are comfortable, clean, and have mountain views. Marriott Book Renaissance Asheville HotelCategory: Mid-rangeNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $131/$512Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, fitness room, pool, meeting rooms, marketPros: This Renaissance has the largest Junior Olympic saltwater swimming pool in Asheville.Cons: The restaurant is only open for breakfast, and the only other food served at the hotel are the snacks and packaged meals available at the on-site market. When you need a nice, but moderate Downtown Asheville hotel with a full list of modern amenities from a trusted brand, choose the Renaissance.I stayed here on a whim as I was passing through Asheville in the height of COVID-19 in 2020, and wanted a hotel brand I knew I could trust to handle the pandemic safely. The Renaissance, a Marriott Bonvoy property, did this exceptionally well and impressed me with their levels of safety and cleanliness.The Renaissance is on the edge of Downtown Asheville and every room has floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to wake up to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with plush beds, textured black headboards, a desk, and a sitting area.Asheville was nicknamed "Bee City USA" in 2012 for its honey bee population and commitment to educating the public about how important bees are for the environment. Staying true to this oath, this hotel houses "bee boxes" from the Bee Institute on its roof to promote sustainability.COVID-19 procedures are available here. 1900 Inn on Montford The lavish, spa-like Cloisters Suite is a top pick for romance and relaxation. Booking.com Book 1900 Inn On MontfordCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $145/$605Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, daily breakfast and social hour, live music, games, all-day snacksPros: Book the luxurious 1,300-square-foot Cloisters suite, which has a private garden and a large spa room with a two-person Whirlpool, shiatsu massage, air bath, and walk-in shower.Cons: This hotel is not great for families as children under the age of 12 are not permitted.Perched on a hill in a historic residential neighborhood, just eight blocks from the edge of Downtown Asheville, the Inn on Montford is charming, cozy, and well-placed.This Arts and Crafts style bed and breakfast has eight rooms, each with King beds, gas fireplaces, bathrooms with fiber-optic starry floors, Roman baths, and color-changing, LED-lit vanities.Don't miss the daily cookie selection; one of the innkeepers, Shawnie, makes them herself and prepares a mix of mouthwatering flavors like salted chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate-orange.If you're on vacation with your special someone, make it extra romantic and book the Cloisters suite, in the Carriage House, which has 1,300 square feet of space, a private garden, a huge living room, a kitchenette, a bar, a fireplace, and a luxurious 68-square-foot spa room with a two-person Whirlpool tub, shiatsu massage, air bath, and a huge walk-in shower. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection Art and design feature prominently, with statement decor in guest rooms. Marriott Book Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph CollectionCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $158 /$600Best for: Couples, families, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, art gallery, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Grand Bohemian Asheville is located directly across the street from the entrance to the famed Biltmore Estate, and the on-site art gallery has local and regional art and jewelry for sale.Cons: In some room categories, the bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a thin curtain rather than an actual door, which isn't ideal for privacy or modesty. Request one with a door if you're traveling with mixed company.This art-driven hotel is the best hotel in Biltmore Village, directly across the street from the entrance to famous Biltmore Estate, known as "America's Largest Home," which was built by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and has a world-class winery, historic gardens, popular restaurants, a farm and over 20 miles of nature trails.Like all Kessler boutique properties, this hotel is innately luxurious, but with a vibe that's creative, relaxing, and comfortable enough to make you feel at home. Art also features prominently, with an on-site art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures, glass art, and jewelry by local artists that are also available for sale.As such, the atmosphere is rich and enticing, with an entrance flanked by a Tudor-style driveway, dramatic candelabras, and heavy burgundy drapes.Inside, stylish, but quirky rooms and common areas juxtapose oil and contemporary paintings and historic busts with surprising sculptures, like a wild hog wearing a tacky tourist hat, and bright purple low lighting that matches velvet chairs alongside fixtures that look like antlers. The rooms are big and enticing, with tufted teal headboards, lamps with tree branch bases, brown and teal-patterned carpeting, and sleek bathrooms with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the soaking tub.COVID-19 procedures are available here.Read our full hotel review of Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville Village Hotel Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. Booking.com Book Village HotelCategory: Mid-RangeNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $170 /$705Best for: Families, couples, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, pool, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Village Hotel is located in Antler Hill Village, on Biltmore Estate, right next to a slew of family-friendly restaurants, activities, a petting zoo, a winery, and over 20 miles of nature trails. Cons: Transportation around the estate is currently unavailable due to COVID-19, so guests will need to factor a rental car into the cost of their trip.Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, and it's the best pick for families. Located in Antler Hill Village, just steps from the winery, the famed Cedric's Tavern (named after the Vanderbilt family dog), a petting zoo, the outdoor adventure center, and over 20 miles of nature trails, the hotel offers tons to do.The entry-level Village Double Rooms are simple, without fancy bells and whistles, but are modern and spacious with a minimalist black, white and gray color scheme, comfortable double beds, a walk-in shower, and a charming window seat for a vantage point over the beautiful grounds.In addition to all of the aforementioned perks of staying at Biltmore Estate, guests can also dine at Village Social for kid-friendly breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, or go to The Creamery for "Winky Bar sundaes," which is a waffle cone filled with black cherry ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Kimpton Hotel Arras Kimpton Hotel Arras has a prime downtown location and impressive perks, especially for pets. Booking.com Book Kimpton Hotel Arras Category: Boutique Neighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $171/$760Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, travelers with pets, IHG loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, fitness center, seasonal book program, free essential toiletriesPros: This hotel boasts a super central location in downtown Asheville, right on Pack Square. Animals may stay at no extra charge and receive special pet amenities.Cons: With its prime downtown location and resident and local foot traffic, this hotel can be loud and crowded.When in Downtown Asheville, look up and you'll spot the Kimpton Hotel Arras; it's the tallest building in all of Asheville.The 128 rooms, suites, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom luxury condos are bright, airy, and filled with natural woods, white and neutral fabrics, textured walls, art by local Asheville artist Catherine Murphy, a desk, and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.In even the most basic Queen Room, the vanity and bathroom area feels luxurious with a huge walk-in glass shower, marble accents, warm lighting, a dark wood vanity, a large mirror, and a separate toilet.Indulge in drinks and a Mediterranean meal at District 42, and when the sun goes down on a pretty evening, grab a seat by the glass fire pits on the terrace and watch life in Downtown Asheville buzz by. All Kimpton hotels are pet-friendly, too, so bring your dog, cat, bird, iguana or any other animal for no charge. All pet companions are also pampered with perks like stylish feeding bowls, pet beds, treat bags, a ball, and more for free.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Foundry Hotel Asheville Exposed brick and contemporary furnishings give off an industrial-chic vibe. Hilton Book The Foundry Hotel AshevilleCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $182/$684Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, families, Hilton loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, meeting rooms, courtyard with fire pitsPros: It's just two blocks walking distance from the heart of downtown Asheville, and offers Tesla car service and a Southern soul food restaurant by a six-time James Beard Award nominee.Cons: The internet connection was unreliable when I visited, which is hard for business travelers or those who like to be overly connected.Once the foundry and warehouse that forged steel for Asheville's famous Biltmore Estate, The Foundry Hotel Asheville is now a luxury boutique Hilton property next to Pack Square Park.An ode to the city's Black history, it's located in a historical enclave called "The Block," that was once a hub of African American community and business in the late 19th and 20th centuries.After sipping a glass of Champagne at check-in, make your way up to your room, which feels industrially luxe with exposed brick walls, all-white beds with cream tufted leather headboards, floor-to-ceiling mountain views, and eclectic wall art featuring period paintings and newspaper clippings in mixed oval and rectangular frames.Paying homage to its Black heritage, the on-site Benne on Eagle is a Southern soul food restaurant led by six-time James Beard Award nominee John Fleer. The hotel is just a five-minute walk from Downtown Asheville, but if you'd rather drive, The Foundry's Tesla car service can drop you off. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Abbington Green This charming B&B feels plucked from the English countryside. Booking.com Book Abbington GreenCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $229/$469Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, spa, English gardens, daily breakfast and social hour, games, all-day snacksPros: Every room has a King bed (which is unique for most historic bed and breakfasts in Asheville) and TVs you can watch from the bathtub.Cons: Children under the age of 12 are not permitted, which isn't ideal for young families.The English-inspired Abbington Green is an award-winning bed and breakfast, sitting atop a hill with whimsical landscaping and prize-winning manicured gardens.The property has both a main and carriage house, seven rooms, one two-bedroom suite, a spa room, a dining room, and a living room with games, a piano, and a guitar.Every guest room has a King bed, which is unique for historic homes like these, as well as towel warmers, a fireplace, and luxury bathtubs with a view of the TV — perfect for a bubble bath with a glass of wine and your favorite movie.There's an on-site charging station for electric cars, daily breakfast, a social hour, and a beautiful veranda where you can watch the sunset over the Blue Ridge mountains. The warmth of innkeepers Dean and Cherie brings it all together, as they love to talk to their guests, swap travel stories, and make everyone feel right at home.For COVID-19 procedures, call (828) 251-2454. Sourwood Inn The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry, and their knowledge filters down to the overall experience of staying here. Booking.com Book Sourwood InnCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Greater AshevilleTypical starting/peak prices: $235/$390Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, nature lovers, foodies, oenophilesOn-site amenities: Dining room, library, loop trails, wine and flower packages, gamesPros: The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry and brought that culinary experience to the hotel, giving guests farm-to-table dining, curated wine lists, in-room wine programs, and pairing dinners.Cons: The inn is a 20-minute drive from downtown Asheville on remote mountain roads, so you'll have to factor a rental car into your trip.This romantic bed and breakfast is a true hidden gem that sits largely under the radar in Asheville. Located right off the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, it's just 20 minutes from downtown, positioned on 100 acres of hilly landscapes that make it feel as if you're staying in a national park.There are 12 guest rooms in the cedar and stone-trimmed main house, with a separate Sassafras Cabin, all of which underwent a recent head-to-toe renovation. Rooms are airy and bright, welcoming sunlight through tall windows, plus light-colored walls, wood-burning fireplaces, balconies overlooking Reems Creek Valley, and soaking tubs with scenic Bullhead Mountain views.The owners spent a combined 25+ years in the wine industry, and brought that culinary knowledge to the inn through well-executed farm-to-table cuisine, curated wine lists, food pairings, as well as wine of the month and wine and dine packages that add value for serious oenophiles. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Omni Grove Park Inn Sprawling grounds feel regal and are exceedingly beautiful. Tripadvisor Book The Omni Grove Park InnCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Grove ParkTypical starting/peak prices: $239/$1,049Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, business travelers, families On-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, fitness room, pools, spa, meeting rooms, sports complex, outdoor center, golf course, tennis courts, food foraging experiencesPros: Perfect for a honeymoon or couples getaway, this romantic hotel guarantees five-star service, a renowned subterranean spa, and an iconic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunset from its restaurant, Sunset Terrace.Cons: As this is a luxury property, expect to pay premium prices for everything.Few resorts can say they've hosted 10 US presidents and every celebrity you can think of, from Gene Hackman and Helen Carter to Nick Carter and Barack Obama, but The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of them. Additionally, this historic resort, which opened in 1913 is famous for being a World War II internment camp for German diplomats, and served as the hotel and inspiration of choice for author F. Scott Fitzgerald over the course of two summers. Five-star service is unparalleled, with an exterior resembling a majestic stone palace that appears as if it's built right into the mountains. Overlooking 300 acres of hills, woodlands, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the hotel also sits on a Donald Ross-designed championship golf course.From its famous terrace viewpoint, wander down the stone steps to the subterranean spa (it's so popular that you have to book six or eight weeks in advance to get an appointment) and discover hidden waterfalls along the way. Be sure to drink a glass of wine by one of two huge lobby fireplaces, and look up to see original light fixtures from the first day it opened.You'll likely pinch yourself watching the sunset over the mountains from dinner at Sunset Terrace. It's such an iconic view that, whether you stay at the Omni or not, everyone will ask if you saw it.COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Asheville, NC hotels What is the best area to stay in Asheville?Asheville is a revered food and drink destination and staying in downtown Asheville puts you within walking distance from many award-winning restaurants and breweries.If you're only in town to visit Biltmore Estate, you could stay in Biltmore Village, which is right across the street from the estate entrance, or at the Biltmore itself. Biltmore Village and Downtown Asheville are the two main attraction areas in Asheville and, luckily for visitors, they are only a 10-minute drive apart.Don't worry about not having a car; Uber and Lyft are everywhere in Asheville's popular areas, and it's easy to catch one to get to and from each. When is the best time of year to visit Asheville?Ask the locals, and they'll tell you there's no such thing as a "low season" in Asheville anymore. As such, the best time of year to visit Asheville is anytime. The award-winning restaurant and brewery scene is always available and the famous Biltmore Estate is a top attraction.If you're planning a fall visit, Asheville's 100+ deciduous trees give it one of the nation's longest fall foliage seaons, making it truly spectacular to visit in September and October. At this time of year, the leaves start to change along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, apple-picking season is in full swing, and temperatures drop to the 40s and 50s.Prices get slightly cheaper in January and February when snow and ice make driving in the mountains less appealing, and in March when it's cold and rainy. What are COVID-19 protocols in Asheville?Asheville has been very proactive about COVID-19 risk since the beginning of the pandemic, and stores, restaurants, and businesses strictly enforce local mandates. Currently, there are no restrictions on capacity and social distancing in restaurants, bars, and meeting spaces. Masks are required in all indoor locations in Buncombe County based on advice from medical experts and scientists. What is the best hotel in Asheville?I believe that The Omni Grove Park Inn is by far the best hotel in Asheville. It feels like staying in a palace built into the mountain, right on a championship golf course, with five-star service, a subterranean spa, and unbelievable views of 300+ acres of rolling green hills and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Staying here is the ultimate getaway, whether you're on your honeymoon, planning a girls spa weekend, or looking for a memorable place to spend the holidays. But with rooms hitting peak prices at $1,049 a night, it might not be an option for everyone. However, Asheville is filled with a range of wonderful boutique properties and larger hotels. For the best boutique hotel in Asheville, stay at the Abbington Green, an England-inspired bed and breakfast in the Montford Historic District with large and modern King rooms, daily breakfast, social hours, and beautiful English gardens.For the best hotels in downtown Asheville, the Kimpton Hotel Arras is a dog-friendly hotel right on Pack Square with beautiful and spacious rooms. And across from Grove Arcade, the Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville offers stylish loft-style rooms with panoramic mountain views, Bluetooth bathroom mirrors, and a terrific terrace restaurant serving authentic Cuban food. What is better in Asheville—a boutique inn or bed and breakfast, or a larger hotel or resort?Both options are wonderful, and the one you choose depends on what your group needs or prefers. Boutique inns or bed and breakfasts are usually in historic residential neighborhoods and offer a cozy and comfortable feel of staying in someone's house. They typically have between six and 16 rooms, so if you're traveling with a small or mid-sized group, you could even rent the entire property.A larger hotel comes with more amenities and usually a more central location within walking distance of great restaurants, bars, breweries, shopping, and entertainment. There are also no age restrictions at larger hotels in Asheville, while most bed and breakfasts don't allow children under the age of 12 so as not to disturb other guests. What is the most romantic hotel in Asheville?With its beautiful stone building, iconic views, luxury service, and intimate feel, there is nowhere more romantic in Asheville than The Omni Grove Park Inn. Make your honeymoon extra special by booking a couples massage at the spa, ordering a tasty steak dinner and a bottle of wine at Sunset Terrace, book a Premium Club Floor Room on the adults-only Club Floor, and end each night with a drink by the lobby fireplace. What is the best hotel for families in Asheville?Village Hotel in Biltmore Estate's Antler Hill Village is great for families. Its basic Village Room starts at $170 and comes with two double beds. If you need more room, upgrade to the Village Double with Living Room, which starts at $320 per night and comes with a bedroom with two double beds, a separate living room with a couch, two twin sleeper sofas, and two full bathrooms.The location is also a huge benefit for families as it is steps away from family-friendly restaurants, the Farmyard petting zoo, 20+ miles of easy nature trails, falconry, and the Biltmore Gardens Railway, which has model trains that kids will love.How cheap or expensive is it to plan a trip to Asheville?Asheville is definitely a top tourist destination in the United States, so prices are constantly rising. That said, there is so much to do and see in Asheville, from hiking, biking, and kayaking to award-winning restaurants, breweries, and the Biltmore. These activities run from free or cheap to quite expensive. Hotels and resorts also run the gamut from $128 to $1,049 per night, and there are also tons of Airbnbs at a variety of price points. If you'd prefer one, we rounded up the best vacation rentals in Asheville as well. How we selected the best hotels in Asheville I chose the properties on this list based on my own deep knowledge of Asheville, supplemented by the research points listed below. I extensively researched and visited each hotel and selected properties with excellent recent reviews and ratings of 4 or higher on trusted traveler sites like Tripadvisor or Booking.com.All properties offer a variety of accommodation types, from boutique bed and breakfasts to brand-name hotels and luxury resorts.They range in starting price from $128 to $1,049 per night to suit a range of budgets. Hotels are located in Asheville's top neighborhoods and historic districts, and are near popular restaurants, breweries, shops, and attractions.All hotels offer COVID-19 safety policies, which we've linked for each property, or provided contact information where you can find out more. More of the best hotels on the East Coast Tripadvisor The best hotels in BostonThe best hotels in New York CityThe best hotels in PhiladelphiaThe best hotels in Washington, DCThe best hotels in Ocean City, MarylandThe best hotels on Hilton Head IslandThe best hotels in Myrtle BeachThe best hotels in CharlestonThe best hotels in SavannahThe best hotels on Tybee IslandThe best hotels in Florida Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2021

Central Bankers" Narratives Are Falling Apart

Central Bankers' Narratives Are Falling Apart Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Central bankers’ narratives are falling apart. And faced with unpopularity over rising prices, politicians are beginning to question central bank independence. Driven by the groupthink coordinated in the regular meetings at the Bank for International Settlements, they became collectively blind to the policy errors of their own making. On several occasions I have written about the fallacies behind interest rate policies. I have written about the lost link between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the general level of prices. I have written about the effect of changing preferences between money and goods and the effect on prices. This article gets to the heart of why central banks’ monetary policy was originally flawed. The fundamental error is to regard economic cycles as originating in the private sector when they are the consequence of fluctuations in credit, to which we can add the supposed benefits of continual price inflation. Introduction Many investors swear by cycles. Unfortunately, there is little to link these supposed cycles to economic theory, other than the link between the business cycle and the cycle of bank credit. The American economist Irving Fisher got close to it with his debt-deflation theory by attributing the collapse of bank credit to the 1930s’ depression. Fisher’s was a well-argued case by the father of modern monetarism. But any further research by mainstream economists was brushed aside by the Keynesian revolution which simply argued that recessions, depressions, or slumps were evidence of the failings of free markets requiring state intervention. Neither Fisher nor Keynes appeared to be aware of the work being done by economists of the Austrian school, principally that of von Mises and Hayek. Fisher was on the American scene probably too early to have benefited from their findings, and Keynes was, well, Keynes the statist who in common with other statists in general placed little premium on the importance of time and its effects on human behaviour. It makes sense, therefore, to build on the Austrian case, and to make the following points at the outset: It is incorrectly assumed that business cycles arise out of free markets. Instead, they are the consequence of the expansion and contraction of unsound money and credit created by the banks and the banking system. The inflation of bank credit transfers wealth from savers and those on fixed incomes to the banking sector’s favoured customers. It has become a major cause of increasing disparities between the wealthy and the poor. The credit cycle is a repetitive boom-and-bust phenomenon, which historically has been roughly ten years in duration. The bust phase is the market’s way of eliminating unsustainable debt, created through credit expansion. If the bust is not allowed to proceed, trouble accumulates for the next credit cycle. Today, economic distortions from previous credit cycles have accumulated to the point where only a small rise in interest rates will be enough to trigger the next crisis. Consequently, central banks have very little room for manoeuvre in dealing with current and future price inflation. International coordination of monetary policies has increased the potential scale of the next credit crisis, and not contained it as the central banks mistakenly believe. The unwinding of the massive credit expansion in the Eurozone following the creation of the euro is an additional risk to the global economy. Comparable excesses in the Japanese monetary system pose a similar threat. Central banks will always fail in using monetary policy as a management tool for the economy. They act for the state, and not for the productive, non-financial private sector. Modern monetary assumptions The original Keynesian policy behind monetary and fiscal stimulation was to help an economy recover from a recession by encouraging extra consumption through bank credit expansion and government deficits funded by inflationary means. Originally, Keynes did not recommend a policy of continual monetary expansion, because he presumed that a recession was the result of a temporary failure of markets which could be remedied by the application of deficit spending by the state. The error was to fail to understand that the cycle is of credit itself, the consequence being the imposition of boom and bust on what would otherwise be a non-cyclical economy, where the random action by businesses in a sound money environment allowed for an evolutionary process delivering economic progress. It was this environment which Schumpeter described as creative destruction. In a sound money regime, businesses deploy the various forms of capital at their disposal in the most productive, profitable way in a competitive environment. Competition and failure of malinvestment provide the best returns for consumers, delivering on their desires and demands. Any business not understanding that the customer is king deserves to fail. The belief in monetary and fiscal stimulation wrongly assumes, among other things, that there are no intertemporal effects. As long ago as 1730, Richard Cantillon described how the introduction of new money into an economy affected prices. He noted that when new money entered circulation, it raised the prices of the goods first purchased. Subsequent acquirers of the new money raised the prices of the goods they demanded, and so on. In this manner, the new money is gradually distributed, raising prices as it is spent, until it is fully absorbed in the economy. Consequently, maximum benefit of the purchasing power of the new money accrues to the first receivers of it, in his time being the gold and silver imported by Spain from the Americas. But today it is principally the banks that create unbacked credit out of thin air, and their preferred customers who benefit most from the expansion of bank credit. The losers are those last to receive it, typically the low-paid, the retired, the unbanked and the poor, who find that their earnings and savings buy less in consequence. There is, in effect, a wealth transfer from the poorest in society to the banks and their favoured customers. Modern central banks seem totally oblivious of this effect, and the Bank of England has even gone to some trouble to dissuade us of it, by quoting marginal changes in the Gini coefficient, which as an average tells us nothing about how individuals, or groups of individuals are affected by monetary debasement. At the very least, we should question central banking’s monetary policies on grounds of both efficacy and the morality, which by debauching the currency, transfers wealth from savers to profligate borrowers —including the government. By pursuing the same monetary policies, all the major central banks are tarred with this bush of ignorance, and they are all trapped in the firm clutch of groupthink gobbledegook. The workings of a credit cycle To understand the relationship between the cycle of credit and the consequences for economic activity, A description of a typical credit cycle is necessary, though it should be noted that individual cycles can vary significantly in the detail. We shall take the credit crisis as our starting point in this repeating cycle. Typically, a credit crisis occurs after the central bank has raised interest rates and tightened lending conditions to curb price inflation, always the predictable result of earlier monetary expansion. This is graphically illustrated in Figure 1. The severity of the crisis is set by the amount of excessive private sector debt financed by bank credit relative to the overall economy. Furthermore, the severity is increasingly exacerbated by the international integration of monetary policies. While the 2007-2008 crises in the UK, the Eurozone and Japan were to varying degrees home-grown, the excessive speculation in the American residential property market, facilitated additionally by off-balance sheet securitisation invested in by the global banking network led to the crisis in each of the other major jurisdictions being more severe than it might otherwise have been. By acting as lender of last resort to the commercial banks, the central bank tries post-crisis to stabilise the economy. By encouraging a revival in bank lending, it seeks to stimulate the economy into recovery by reducing interest rates. However, it inevitably takes some time before businesses, mindful of the crisis just past, have the confidence to invest in production. They will only respond to signals from consumers when they in turn become less cautious in their spending. Banks, who at this stage will be equally cautious over their lending, will prefer to invest in short-maturity government bonds to minimise balance sheet risk. A period then follows during which interest rates remain suppressed by the central bank below their natural rate. During this period, the central bank will monitor unemployment, surveys of business confidence, and measures of price inflation for signs of economic recovery. In the absence of bank credit expansion, the central bank is trying to stimulate the economy, principally by suppressing interest rates and more recently by quantitative easing. Eventually, suppressed interest rates begin to stimulate corporate activity, as entrepreneurs utilise a low cost of capital to acquire weaker rivals, and redeploy underutilised assets in target companies. They improve their earnings by buying in their own shares, often funded by cheapened bank credit, as well as by undertaking other financial engineering actions. Larger businesses, in which the banks have confidence, are favoured in these activities compared with SMEs, who find it generally difficult to obtain finance in the early stages of the recovery phase. To that extent, the manipulation of money and credit by central banks ends up discriminating against entrepreneurial smaller companies, delaying the recovery in employment. Consumption eventually picks up, fuelled by credit from banks and other lending institutions, which will be gradually regaining their appetite for risk. The interest cost on consumer loans for big-ticket items, such as cars and household goods, is often lowered under competitive pressures, stimulating credit-fuelled consumer demand. The first to benefit from this credit expansion tend to be the better-off creditworthy consumers, and large corporations, which are the early receivers of expanding bank credit. The central bank could be expected to raise interest rates to slow credit growth if it was effectively managing credit. However, the fall in unemployment always lags in the cycle and is likely to be above the desired target level. And price inflation will almost certainly be below target, encouraging the central bank to continue suppressing interest rates. Bear in mind the Cantillon effect: it takes time for expanding bank credit to raise prices throughout the country, time which contributes to the cyclical effect. Even if the central bank has raised interest rates by this stage, it is inevitably by too little. By now, commercial banks will begin competing for loan business from large credit-worthy corporations, cutting their margins to gain market share. So, even if the central bank has increased interest rates modestly, at first the higher cost of borrowing fails to be passed on by commercial banks. With non-financial business confidence spreading outwards from financial centres, bank lending increases further, and more and more businesses start to expand their production, based upon their return-on-equity calculations prevailing at artificially low interest rates and input prices, which are yet to reflect the increase in credit. There’s a gathering momentum to benefit from the new mood. But future price inflation for business inputs is usually underestimated. Business plans based on false information begin to be implemented, growing financial speculation is supported by freely available credit, and the conditions are in place for another crisis to develop. Since tax revenues lag in any economic recovery, government finances have yet to benefit suvstantially from an increase in tax revenues. Budget deficits not wholly financed by bond issues subscribed to by the domestic public and by non-bank corporations represents an additional monetary stimulus, fuelling the credit cycle even more at a time when credit expansion should be at least moderated. For the planners at the central banks, the economy has now stabilised, and closely followed statistics begin to show signs of recovery. At this stage of the credit cycle, the effects of earlier monetary inflation start to be reflected more widely in rising prices. This delay between credit expansion and the effect on prices is due to the Cantillon effect, and only now it is beginning to be reflected in the calculation of the broad-based consumer price indices. Therefore, prices begin to rise persistently at a higher rate than that targeted by monetary policy, and the central bank has no option but to raise interest rates and restrain demand for credit. But with prices still rising from credit expansion still in the pipeline, moderate interest rate increases have little or no effect. Consequently, they continue to be raised to the point where earlier borrowing, encouraged by cheap and easy money, begins to become uneconomic. A rise in unemployment, and potentially falling prices then becomes a growing threat. As financial intermediaries in a developing debt crisis, the banks are suddenly exposed to extensive losses of their own capital. Bankers’ greed turns to a fear of being over-leveraged for the developing business conditions. They are quick to reduce their risk-exposure by liquidating loans where they can, irrespective of their soundness, putting increasing quantities of loan collateral up for sale. Asset inflation quickly reverses, with all marketable securities falling sharply in value. The onset of the financial crisis is always swift and catches the central bank unawares. When the crisis occurs, banks with too little capital for the size of their balance sheets risk collapsing. Businesses with unproductive debt and reliant on further credit go to the wall. The crisis is cathartic and a necessary cleaning of the excesses entirely due to the human desire of bankers and their shareholders to maximise profits through balance sheet leverage. At least, that’s what should happen. Instead, a modern central bank moves to contain the crisis by committing to underwrite the banking system to stem a potential downward spiral of collateral sales, and to ensure an increase in unemployment is contained. Consequently, many earlier malinvestments will survive. Over several cycles, the debt associated with past uncleared malinvestments accumulates, making each successive crisis greater in magnitude. 2007-2008 was worse than the fall-out from the dot-com bubble in 2000, which in turn was worse than previous crises. And for this reason, the current credit crisis promises to be even greater than the last. Credit cycles are increasingly a global affair. Unfortunately, all central banks share the same misconception, that they are managing a business cycle that emanates from private sector business errors and not from their licenced banks and own policy failures. Central banks through the forum of the Bank for International Settlements or G7, G10, and G20 meetings are fully committed to coordinating monetary policies on a global basis. The consequence is credit crises are potentially greater as a result. Remember that G20 was set up after the Lehman crisis to reinforce coordination of monetary and financial policies, promoting destructive groupthink even more. Not only does the onset of a credit crisis in any one country become potentially exogenous to it, but the failure of any one of the major central banks to contain its crisis is certain to undermine everyone else. Systemic risk, the risk that banking systems will fail, is now truly global and has worsened. The introduction of the new euro distorted credit cycles for Eurozone members, and today has become a significant additional financial and systemic threat to the global banking system. After the euro was introduced, the cost of borrowing dropped substantially for many high-risk member states. Unsurprisingly, governments in these states seized the opportunity to increase their debt-financed spending. The most extreme examples were Greece, followed by Italy, Spain, and Portugal —collectively the PIGS. Consequently, the political pressures to suppress euro interest rates are overwhelming, lest these state actors’ finances collapse. Eurozone commercial banks became exceptionally highly geared with asset to equity leverage more than twenty times on average for the global systemically important banks. Credit cycles for these countries have been made considerably more dangerous by bank leverage, non-performing debt, and the TARGET2 settlement system which has become dangerously unbalanced. The task facing the ECB today to stop the banking system from descending into a credit contraction crisis is almost impossible as a result. The unwinding of malinvestments and associated debt has been successfully deferred so far, but the Eurozone remains a major and increasing source of systemic risk and a credible trigger for the next global crisis. The seeds were sown for the next credit crisis in the last When new money is fully absorbed in an economy, prices can be said to have adjusted to accommodate it. The apparent stimulation from the extra money will have reversed itself, wealth having been transferred from the late receivers to the initial beneficiaries, leaving a higher stock of currency and credit and increased prices. This always assumes there has been no change in the public’s general level of preference for holding money relative to holding goods. Changes in this preference level can have a profound effect on prices. At one extreme, a general dislike of holding any money at all will render it valueless, while a strong preference for it will drive down prices of goods and services in what economists lazily call deflation. This is what happened in 1980-81, when Paul Volcker at the Federal Reserve Board raised the Fed’s fund rate to over 19% to put an end to a developing hyperinflation of prices. It is what happened more recently in 2007/08 when the great financial crisis broke, forcing the Fed to flood financial markets with unlimited credit to stop prices falling, and to rescue the financial system from collapse. The state-induced interest rate cycle, which lags the credit cycle for the reasons described above, always results in interest rates being raised high enough to undermine economic activity. The two examples quoted in the previous paragraph were extremes, but every credit cycle ends with rates being raised by the central bank by enough to trigger a crisis. The chart above of America’s Fed funds rate is repeated from earlier in this article for ease of reference. The interest rate peaks joined by the dotted line marked the turns of the US credit cycle in January 1989, mid-2000, early 2007, and mid-2019 respectively. These points also marked the beginning of the recession in the early nineties, the post-dotcom bubble collapse, the US housing market crisis, and the repo crisis in September 2019. The average period between these peaks was exactly ten years, echoing a similar periodicity observed in Britain’s nineteenth century. The threat to the US economy and its banking system has grown with every crisis. Successive interest peaks marked an increase in severity for succeeding credit crises, and it is notable that the level of interest rates required to trigger a crisis has continually declined. Extending this trend suggests that a Fed Funds Rate of no more than 2% today will be the trigger for a new momentum in the current financial crisis. The reason this must be so is the continuing accumulation of dollar-denominated private-sector debt. And this time, prices are fuelled by record increases in the quantity of outstanding currency and credit. Conclusions The driver behind the boom-and-bust cycle of business activity is credit itself. It therefore stands to reason that the greater the level of monetary intervention, the more uncontrollable the outcome becomes. This is confirmed by both reasoned theory and empirical evidence. It is equally clear that by seeking to manage the credit cycle, central banks themselves have become the primary cause of economic instability. They exhibit institutional groupthink in the implementation of their credit policies. Therefore, the underlying attempt to boost consumption by encouraging continual price inflation to alter the allocation of resources from deferred consumption to current consumption, is overly simplistic, and ignores the negative consequences. Any economist who argues in favour of an inflation target, such as that commonly set by central banks at 2%, fails to appreciate that monetary inflation transfers wealth from most people, who are truly the engine of production and spending. By impoverishing society inflationary policies are counterproductive. Neo-Keynesian economists also fail to understand that prices of goods and services in the main do not act like those of speculative investments. People will buy an asset if the price is rising because they see a bandwagon effect. They do not normally buy goods and services because they see a trend of rising prices. Instead, they seek out value, as any observer of the falling prices of electrical and electronic products can testify. We have seen that for policymakers the room for manoeuvre on interest rates has become increasingly limited over successive credit cycles. Furthermore, the continuing accumulation of private sector debt has reduced the height of interest rates that would trigger a financial and systemic crisis. In any event, a renewed global crisis could be triggered by the Fed if it raises the funds rate to as little as 2%. This can be expected with a high degree of confidence; unless, that is, a systemic crisis originates from elsewhere —the euro system and Japan are already seeing the euro and yen respectively in the early stages of a currency collapse. It is bound to lead to increased interest rates in the euro and yen, destabilising their respective banking systems. The likelihood of their failure appears to be increasing by the day, a situation that becomes obvious when one accepts that the problem is wholly financial, the result of irresponsible credit and currency expansion in the past. An economy that works best is one where sound money permits an increase in purchasing power of that money over time, reflecting the full benefits to consumers of improvements in production and technology. In such an economy, Schumpeter’s process of “creative destruction” takes place on a random basis. Instead, consumers and businesses are corralled into acing herd-like, financed by the cyclical ebb and flow of bank credit. The creation of the credit cycle forces us all into a form of destructive behaviour that otherwise would not occur. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge17 hr. 43 min. ago

A mix of reverence and blame in Bakersfield as Kevin McCarthy"s constituents grapple with continued controversy

"I almost feel like if I didn't run now that I might participate in some kind of civil war to come," Ben Dewell, a challenger in the upcoming California primary, told Insider. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Voters in Kevin McCarthy's hometown have polarized opinions about their congressional representative. Some view the House Minority Leader's recent controversies as typical politics.  Others consider his headline-making lies a danger to their community and the country. Voters in Kevin McCarthy's hometown of Bakersfield, a Republican stronghold in the largely liberal state of California, have polarized opinions about their congressional representative. The House Minority Leader is embroiled in controversy for leaked audio revealing he privately criticized former President Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol while publicly supporting him, then lied about it.While some residents of his home district view recent headlines as signs of his political prowess, others view him as a danger to their community and the country. "My personal observation is that he does not cut corners or seek special consideration. His word can be believed, his performance can be relied on, and he treats other people with both friendship and respect," Dr. Mohsen Attaran, professor of management at California State University, Bakersfield, told Insider. "He's at the same time an ambitious and compassionate individual." Attaran, who taught McCarthy in the late 1980s and early 1990s in undergraduate and graduate classes, said that McCarthy's public support of former President Trump appears to be a political decision meant to keep him in office so he can continue working toward the goals of the Republican party platform.A platform, he said, that mirrors the community values of Bakersfield.Underdog ChallengersOther residents of the region, including challenger Ben Dewell, see McCarthy's behavior as an existential threat to the community. "I almost feel like if I didn't run now that I might participate in some kind of civil war to come," Dewell, a candidate running against McCarthy in the upcoming primary, told Insider: "Unfortunately, the rancor between people and their politics is so divisive right now."Prominent signage endorsing Kevin McCarthy is visible on streets throughout his hometown of Bakersfield.Katherine Tangalakis-LippertDewell, a meteorologist living on a fixed income, said he was inspired to run for Congress following McCarthy's behavior after Jan. 6. "I thought about what McCarthy had done by turning around in his disgust for Trump. At the time, he was saying 'yeah, this has to stop.' We heard all that on January 6 and January 7," Dewell said. "But he went to Mar-a-Lago and that picture of him smiling with Trump, to me, is violating his oath of office. And I was just thinking 'I just can't let that pass.'"Dewell acknowledged the challenges facing his candidacy running as a Democrat in the conservative region with limited name recognition and fundraising. So far, he has registered $101 in campaign donations with the Federal Election Commission, compared to McCarthy's $17,752,094. Other candidates face similar odds against McCarthy, who is campaigning for his 9th term and is a likely candidate for Speaker of the House should Republicans win enough seats in the midterms. The primary Democratic challenger for the district, Marisa Wood, has raised just over $553,000 in campaign contributions.Wood's office did not respond to Insider's request for comment for this story.  James "Deviant" Davis poses with original campaign artwork next to his van which he, until recently, lived in.Katherine Tangalakis-LippertJames "Deviant" Davis, a Republican challenger, has not raised any donations toward his run for Congress and, until recently, lived out of his vehicle after what he described as a campaign of persecution against him that originated with a former business associate. His platform includes resetting all currency standards, clearing all debt in a "debt jubilee," and shrinking the government.Politics, he said, is all a scheme."It's a Ponzi scheme, you know, and the Ponzi scheme collapsed. And it collapsed twice now that I know of underneath Kevin McCarthy's watch," Davis told Insider.Davis met with Insider outside Sequoia Sandwich Co. in downtown Bakersfield, sporting dark fingernail polish with green designs in binary code which read "1001011010," which he said translates to "666." During the hourlong interview, he spoke of being arrested multiple times for what he called baseless accusations, theorized that all civilians are subject to mind control by MK Ultra, and said Donald Trump might be part of a league of actors controlling the world. McCarthy's congressional office did not return Insider's requests for an interview for this article.Local Legacy? Whether McCarthy is active in his Bakersfield community depends on who you ask. Attaran, his former professor, told Insider he hosted the congressman in a guest lecture series several years ago and that his wife tells him she often sees McCarthy posting photos of himself at local events on Instagram. The local firehouse prominently features a memorial to Rep. McCarthy's father, Owen McCarthy, who served as a firefighter and assistant fire chief for the community his whole career. But a spokesperson for the department said that in the 20 years he'd worked there, the only time the representative visited was during the dedication of the memorial in 2012. A memorial for Rep. McCarthy's father, Owen McCarthy, is prominently displayed at the Bakersfield Fire Department, where he served as assistant fire chief.Katherine Tangalakis-LippertUnknown Midterm ImpactMcCarthy's popularity also appears to be waning with voters compared to his early terms. In his first election in 2006, McCarthy won with 71% of the vote. He ran uncontested in 2008 and 2010. Since then, the margin of his wins has slowly shrunken each election. McCarthy won 62% of the vote during the last voting cycle in 2020. In April polling by Politico, McCarthy's overall approval rating was 22% nationwide. 40% of registered voters had an unfavorable opinion, while 38% said they either had no strong feelings or hadn't heard of the representative. It's so far unclear what, if any, impact McCarthy's recorded comments about Donald Trump and Rep. Matt Gaetz will have on local voters. Trump has signaled he is "on very good terms" with McCarthy since finding out about the recorded call, alluding to McCarthy's strong public support in the days since.For McCarthy's proponents, Trump's support indicates the congressman is in line with the party and likely to win the upcoming midterm election. "I think Kevin, the main idea is, he supports the Republican party platform, and he is trying to help his community, his constituency, and I think he is doing an excellent job of both. Now whether he supports Trump or not, this is something that as a politician, you try to make a decision on how to win. You know, supporting your party platform, and I think he is doing an excellent job of that," Professor Attaran said of his former pupil."I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to be elected this time around because of his political roots," Attaran added. "His roots are very strong in the community, because of his demeanor, because of his help, because of his paying attention to details and supporting the community any which way but loose."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 26th, 2022

The best new books to read in 2022, based on your zodiac sign

Whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.Whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign.IStock PhotoWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. With so many great books to choose from, finding a great read can be overwhelming. To help, here are newly released 2022 book recommendations based on your astrological sign. These picks include exciting new fiction and nonfiction reads in 2022. With so many amazing books on the market, it can feel impossible to choose the one you know you'll enjoy. As a Leo who doesn't fiercely crave the spotlight, I know our astrological signs don't create a flawless, spot-on image of who we are. But they can offer intriguing insights into what motivates or interests us.These 2022 books focus on great characters, stunning writing styles, and unique plots that mirror zodiac personality traits for each sign. So whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are 3 great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign. Learn more about how Insider Reviews reviews and researches books.The best 2022 books to read, based on your zodiac sign:Aries"The Memory Librarian" by Janelle MonáeAmazon"The Memory Librarian" by Janelle Monáe, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99This collection of science fiction short stories begins with Jane 57821, who decides to break free from a world in which your thoughts can be controlled and erased by a select few. As a  natural leader that craves leadership and freedom, Aries will love the powerful characters rising against a totalitarian landscape in this inspired and artistic read."The Verifiers" by Jane PekAmazon"The Verifiers" by Jane Pek, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.59Featuring a strong, quick-witted heroine with which Aries can easily identify, "The Verifiers" is a mystery that follows Claudia Lin, an amateur sleuth who's just been recruited to work for an online-dating detective agency. In a story that will appeal to Aries' bold and brave nature, Claudia has to break protocol to investigate when someone goes missing."The Lost Dreamer" by Lizz HuertaAmazon"The Lost Dreamer" by Lizz Huerta, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99In this debut YA fantasy, Indir is a Dreamer whose existence is threatened when a new king seeks to bring her kind to a permanent end and Saya is a seer who discovers she has more than one gift. Aries will love these two determined trailblazers as they face impossible choices, new frontiers, and high-stakes risks in this supernatural read inspired by ancient Mesoamerica.Taurus"The Nineties" by Chuck KlostermanAmazon"The Nineties" by Chuck Klosterman, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.78This new nonfiction read revisits 1990s America, recognizing the accelerated cultural revolution that occurred before convenience technology crept into everyday life. While "The Nineties" is a fascinating analysis of a decade of social rifts and shifts, Tauruses will revel in the nostalgia and the "good old days" feelings from which they've never quite let go."Homicide and Halo-Halo" by Mia P. ManansalaAmazon"Homicide and Halo-Halo" by Mia P. Manansala, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.39"Homicide and Halo-Halo" is a cozy, tasty mystery novel about Lila Macapagal, whose summer is turned upside down when a resurrected local beauty pageant leads to the murder of a judge. Taurus readers will love to settle into the comfort of this foodie mystery novel as Lila and her old rival put aside their past to solve the case."House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. MaasAmazon"House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. Maas, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.74"House of Sky and Breath" is the stunning fantasy sequel to "House of Earth and Blood." In this novel, the dust has just begun to settle around Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar when they get pulled into rebel plans and must continue to fight for what's right. Tauruses will revel in the sheer beauty of this book, both inside and out, and enjoy the familiarity of a continued but equally captivating story.Gemini"All My Rage" by Sabaa TahirAmazon"All My Rage" by Sabaa Tahir, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99While "All My Rage" will certainly appeal to Geminis because of its multiple storylines that stretch generations and continents, it's the connection between characters that will truly speak to Gemini readers. Sal and Noor were as close as family members until a terrible fight split them apart. Now, as each former friend struggles against personal and familial trials, they must weigh the value of friendship against what once divided them in this story of family, loss, and forgiveness."Gallant" by V.E. SchwabAmazon"Gallant" by V.E. Schwab, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.95When a strange letter invites Olivia Prior home to the secret-laden Gallant, she accidentally finds herself on the other side of a ruined wall, in a strange alternate version of the world she just left. As they are curious and extremely adaptable, Gemini readers will love to follow Olivia as she unravels generations of secrets and tries to find the place she belongs."Don't Cry for Me" by Daniel BlackAmazon"Don't Cry for Me" by Daniel Black, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $22.48As Jacob lies on his deathbed, he begins to write letters to his estranged son, Isaac, pouring out truths from his heart and ancestral stories he believes his son should know. Geminis, who are natural communicators and expressive with their emotions, will undoubtedly cherish this hopeful and authentic story of empathy, reconciliation, and forgiveness.Cancer"Black Cake" by Charmaine WilkersonAmazon"Black Cake" by Charmaine Wilkerson, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.81Cancers are family-oriented and drawn to nurturing, so the moving familial story of "Black Cake" is sure to be a great pick for this water sign. In the wake of their mother's passing, Byron and Benny are left with a voice recording and a family recipe for a traditional Caribbean black cake. As the once-close siblings attempt to fulfill their mother's final wish, they embark on a journey of inheritance, family history, and motherhood."Book Lovers" by Emily HenryBookshop"Book Lovers" by Emily Henry, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99With their hard shell and soft interior, it's easy to know Cancers will love an enemies-to-lovers romance. Nora Stephens is a cutthroat literary agent ready to become the heroine of her own story when she takes a trip with her sister to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. Hundreds of miles from the city, Nora still manages to run into editor Charlie Lastra, with whom she's had more than her share of unpleasant interactions, but can't seem to avoid in this bookish romance."Vinyl Moon" by Mahogany L. BrowneAmazon"Vinyl Moon" by Mahogany L. Browne, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.53As Angel attempts to heal from a painful incident that led her to Brooklyn and away from her California life, she manages to find healing in her literature course, amongst the prose of Black writers. As Cancers are sensitive but protective of their emotions, Angel's story will resonate with Cancer readers as she allows herself to become immersed in words and slowly heal from her past. Leo"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy FoleyAmazon"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.16Lucy Foley's newest twisty thriller, set in a Parisian apartment surrounded by eclectic and mysterious neighbors, is a great pick for any drama-loving Leo. When Jess is in need of a fresh start, her half-brother apathetically agrees to let her stay with him for a while but seems to be missing once she turns up at his apartment. As Jess begins to investigate his strange disappearance, it soon becomes clear that every neighbor is a suspect with their own secrets. "Run Rose Run" by James Patterson and Dolly PartonAmazon"Run Rose Run" by James Patterson and Dolly Parton, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.00Co-written by a musical legend and one of the bestselling authors of all time, "Run Rose Run" is a fast-paced mystery about a young girl who comes to Nashville to rise to the top while outrunning her past. Leo readers will root for AnnieLee Keyes while reveling in the danger, drama, and desire of this page-turner. "Ramón and Julieta" by Alana Quintana AlbertsonAmazon"Ramón and Julieta" by Alana Quintana Albertson, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40Celebrity Chef Julieta Campos is fighting against a bitter rivalry, rising tensions, and a surprising connection to her new landlord, Ramón, to save her beloved taqueria. Strong, ambitious, and determined Leos are sure to love this contemporary retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" as Ramón and Julieta must decide if they'll allow rivalries to divide them or allow love to bring them together. Virgo"To Paradise" by Hanya YanagiharaBookshop"To Paradise" by Hanya Yanagihara, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.18Internally emotional and detail-oriented Virgos will find themselves easily immersed in "To Paradise", a powerful literary novel that spans three centuries from an alternate 1893 reality, to 1993 Manhattan submerged in the AIDS epidemic, to a totalitarian future in 2093. As the three sections of this incredible novel come together, the characters connect through their perfectly flawed humanity."The Intersectional Environmentalist" by Leah ThomasBookshop"The Intersectional Environmentalist" by Leah Thomas, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.99Since Virgos are intellectual and resourceful problem-solvers, "The Intersectional Environmentalist" is a great nonfiction pick for Virgo readers. In this book, Leah Thomas demonstrates how minorities, especially BIPOC, are significantly more impacted by environmental injustices. Both an informational read and a call to action, this book shows how the fight for civil rights and our environment are irrevocably intertwined."What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma" by Stephanie FooAmazon"What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma" by Stephanie Foo, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99"What My Bones Know" is a powerful memoir about Stephanie Foo's journey to understand the years of abuse and generational trauma that led to her diagnosis of complex PTSD. Because Virgos are compassionate and driven to understand and support others, Stephanie Foo's deeply personal and heavily researched memoir will affect Virgio readers with a painful but hopeful and enlightening story. Libra"Weather Girl" by Rachel Lynn SolomonAmazon"Weather Girl" by Rachel Lynn Solomon, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99This charming new love story is perfect for eternally romantic Libras. Ari Abrams and Russell Barringer work together on a news team, both subjected to the constant conflict of their divorced bosses. After a calamitous work party, Ari and Russell decide to secretly meddle in their bosses' issues in the hopes of mending their relationship until their plan backfires and they realize the real chemistry might be between them instead."The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan SlocumbAmazon"The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan Slocumb, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.88When Ray McMillian's prized family heirloom violin is stolen just before an international competition, his dreams of becoming a professional musician seem to be crushed. Libras, who value fairness and balance, will root for Ray as others, from family to foe, try to claim the precious violin as their own."Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen HoAmazon"Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen Ho, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99Social and diplomatic Libras will love "Fiona and Jane," an alternating collection of short stories that illuminate two best friends who drift in and out of each other's lives over two decades. Best friends through childhood and adolescence, Fiona and Jane are separated by distance and betrayals but brought together by a multi-layered friendship in this contemplative read.Scorpio"An Arrow to the Moon" by Emily X. R. PanAmazon"An Arrow to the Moon" by Emily X. R. Pan, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99When a new boy named Hunter Yee upends Luna Chang's life, their shared family secrets and hostility will bring them together in the face of an uncertain future. As Scorpios are intense and passionate, this magical retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" mixed with Chinese mythology will draw them in as Hunter and Luna are torn between fate and love. "Time Is a Mother" by Ocean VuongAmazon"Time Is a Mother" by Ocean Vuong, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $21.22"Time Is a Mother" is a deeply emotional, intimate, and slowly rejuvenating collection of poems that will speak to Scorpios' brooding and powerfully emotional side. In these poems, Ocean Vuong grapples with grief, loss, and restoration in the wake of his mother's passing."Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John MandelAmazon"Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John Mandel, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.38Since Scorpios crave psychological depth, "Sea of Tranquility" is sure to connect with their powerful mind. This epic, genre-bending tale illuminates humanity as it follows characters across time and space from the Canadian wilderness in 1912 to a writer who has left her colony on the moon to travel the Earth on a book tour. This novel is simply mesmerizing as Emily St. John Mandel creatively weaves three main stories into a transcendent work of fiction.Sagittarius"Violeta" by Isabel AllendeBookshop"Violeta" by Isabel Allende, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.99Born in 1920, Violeta's 100-year life is marked by revolutionary events, from the Great Depression to suffrage to personal heartbreak and great joy, outlined in this novel as she tells her incredible life story in a letter to her grandson. Because Sagittariuses crave exploration that leads to personal expansion, this historical fiction epic is sure to dazzle."The Cartographers" by Peng ShepherdAmazon"The Cartographers" by Peng Shepherd, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $25.19When Nell Young's legendary cartographer father is found dead in his office, she finds an incredibly rare and valuable map, possibly the last copy in the world. With a passion of her own for cartography, Nell sets out to uncover the secrets behind the map, her father, and the fight that tore their relationship apart. Sagittarius readers love adventure and anything that helps them understand the world better, so this new fantasy would make a great read."How High We Go in the Dark" by Sequoia NagamatsuAmazon"How High We Go in the Dark" by Sequoia Nagamatsu, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $19.97"How High We Go in the Dark" is an intricately told story about an accidentally unleashed Arctic Plague that devastates and reshapes humanity. Following a series of loosely connected characters and unique stories, this science fiction book is great for Sagittarius readers, who are curious explorers always seeking new ideas.Capricorn"How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer" to Every Moral Question by Michael SchurAmazon"How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer" to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.14Since they're always searching for the answer to success, "How to Be Perfect" is a great new nonfiction read for Capricorns. Funny and thought-provoking, this philosophical book analyses complex ethical questions and searches for an ultimate "right" answer to each one through different insightful perspectives. Plus, Capricorns love having a greater perspective and finding a balance where success meets emotional and spiritual truths."The Atlas Six" by Olivie BlakeAmazon"The Atlas Six" by Olivie Blake, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.41This super popular fantasy book is about the Alexandrian Society, a secret and revered group of magical academicians that only considers six magicians per decade to attempt initiation into their society of wealth, power, and prestige. Drawn to all of these attributes, Capricorns will love to follow the six newest candidates as they fight to prove themselves and survive amongst their greatest rivals. "What the Fireflies Knew" by Kai HarrisBookshop"What the Fireflies Knew" by Kai Harris, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.20When KB and her sister, Nia, are sent to live with their estranged grandfather, they are still grappling with their father's death and the loss of their family home. With a disconnected family, sometimes-friendly neighbors, and a looming feeling of loneliness, KB must make sense of the pieces of her new, challenging life in this coming-of-age novel that Capricorns will cherish because of their own determination to succeed despite adversity.Aquarius"Wahala" by Nikki MayAmazon"Wahala" by Nikki May, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.73Social and fascinated by group dynamics, Aquarius readers will love this novel about Ronke, Boo, and Simi, who each have very different lives but are kept close by their deep and longstanding friendship. When the charismatic Isobel arrives and begins to infiltrate their small circle, chaos slowly ensues and threatens to dismantle relationships, aspirations, and trust in this entertaining read. "Moon Witch, Spider King" by Marlon JamesBookshop"Moon Witch, Spider King" by Marlon James, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99In this sequel, Sologon, the 177-year-old Moon Witch, fights to tell her side of the magical and unforgettable story from "Black Leopard, Red Wolf." Curious, grounded, and proud to stand out from the pack, Aquarius readers will appreciate Sologon's perspective and crave to understand the reasoning behind her actions."South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation" by Imani PerryAmazon"South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation" by Imani Perry, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.16"South to America" anecdotal history of the American South is a great pick for Aquariuses, as they seek knowledge to better understand the world in order to make a powerful difference. This nonfiction read uses personal, political, and historical stories to demonstrate that the key to a greater, more equitable future lies in understanding the complexities of the South.Pisces"One Italian Summer" by Rebecca SerleBookshop"One Italian Summer" by Rebecca Serle, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.08Pisces are known for their emotional and intuitive nature and walking the line between fantasy and reality, so "One Italian Summer" is the perfect Pisces read. This book uses magical realism to bring Katy's story to life as she adventures on a mother-daughter trip alone shortly after her mom passes away. On the magical and alluring Amalfi Coast, Katy can somehow see her mother and get to know her as the young woman she once was."You Truly Assumed" by Laila SabreenAmazon"You Truly Assumed" by Laila Sabreen, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.15In "You Truly Assumed", a terrorist attack and growing Islamophobia brings three Black Muslim girls together over a blog used as an outlet and support system for a community of Muslim teens across the country. As Pisces readers are deeply compassionate and empathetic, the characters in this YA novel will resonate as they push back against the threats and hatred they receive in the fight to create a safe space for themselves and other Muslim teens."You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" by Akwaeke EmeziBookshop"You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" by Akwaeke Emezi, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.30Five years after the accident that killed the love of her life, Feyi Adekola wants to ease into dating again when she's whisked into a whirlwind summer of romance and luxury, complicated by an off-limits potential relationship that leaves her searching for real answers. Pisces are sure to love the passion in Akwaeke Emezi's writing and want to follow Feyi to the very last page as she seeks joy and healing after loss. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 25th, 2022

Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market

Traditionally, spring has meant sunshine and showers, flings and flowers. It also has meant—to real estate professionals at least—open houses, as buyers emerge from hibernation to peruse a blossoming world of new listings and real estate agents ramp up in preparation for the busiest time of the year. But in 2022, with limited inventory and… The post Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market appeared first on RISMedia. Traditionally, spring has meant sunshine and showers, flings and flowers. It also has meant—to real estate professionals at least—open houses, as buyers emerge from hibernation to peruse a blossoming world of new listings and real estate agents ramp up in preparation for the busiest time of the year. But in 2022, with limited inventory and new technologies that can at least partially substitute for a traditional walk-through, does the open house even exist? Are buyers still ravenously descending on every property as soon as it hits the market? About a 90-minute drive to Manhattan (without traffic) the town of Fairfield, Connecticut has traditionally been seen as a stretch for the traditional New York commuter. With a median listing price of $775,000 this year, according to Realtor.com, a 2,300 square-foot four-bedroom ranch-style home in a quiet neighborhood falls squarely in the “affordable” category for this market, listed at $599,000. Cars line a rural road in Madison, Connecticut as buyers flock to the opportunity offered by an early spring open house. Over the course of four hours split between a Thursday and Sunday in early April, no one shows up to this property’s open house, though it receives three offers within five days of listing, all in the $530,000 to $560,000 range. Paul Ferreira is the listing broker, owner of a RE/MAX franchise in nearby Trumbull. He says he is not changing his strategy for running open houses this spring, despite also predicting that the market is on track for a major shake-up in the coming months. “We’ve been seeing a definite slow-down,” Ferreira says. “We haven’t seen as many bidding wars in the last four weeks as we’ve seen in the last nine months. We’re definitely starting to see a slowdown in that aspect, of people paying 8-12% over asking to get the houses.” “I’m not saying it’s not happening,” he adds. “I’m just saying it’s not happening as much.” Another house visited by RISMedia sits a little further out, in the more rural, coastal exurb of Madison, where bucolic country roads wind through lines of trees, and looming old-money beach mansions offer scintillating views of the Long Island Sound. An open house in the bucolic village of Madison, Connecticut drew big crowds amid low inventory, as agents plan for a potentially busy spring. Victoria Tavares is a veteran agent with William Raveis. On a Friday afternoon in late March, a line of cars already threatens to clog up the narrow country road in front of a modest 2,100 square foot ranch sitting on just under an acre of land (which includes a small pond and well-maintained garden). Tavares is the listing agent for this home, priced at $399,000, and she receives six offers by the end of the weekend—all well above asking. “It was crazy—the sellers did accept an offer, but I still have buyers and agents reaching out to me to see the property,” Tavares says. A little closer to the city of New Haven to the west in the town of Guilford sits a significantly larger home in a brand-new community with wide, well-paved streets—a much more suburban feel, though still removed from any sort of downtown or urban center. At nearly 4,000 square feet, this colonial is listed for $750,000, and offers a wine cooler, a finished basement, nine-foot ceilings and a unique playroom/home office wing connecting a wide-open well-lit space set with cubbies and playmats with a cozy work-from-home space. This home was also listed as “pending” two days after the open house, which drew a large number of families with young children. The agent at the showing declined to speak with RISMedia and only gave a first name. Messages left for the listing agent were not returned at press time. Vibe check It is difficult, and probably unwise to try to draw broad conclusions from a tiny sample size in an even smaller geographic area. The Northeast has struggled even more than some with low inventory, and many other factors are likely to make the market in this area unique. That being said, though, some of the storylines and stereotypes of the current wild market were on full display at these homes, even as Tavares and Ferreira disagreed—to some degree—on the likely path ahead for real estate. “Most buyers were saying they’ve been searching, they’ve been making offers and they’re just being outbid by higher offers,” Tavares reflects. “Most of the buyers seem pretty urgent…they’ve definitely been doing it a while.” At least 25 groups show up to the Madison open house in the first hour, a good mix of younger couples, families and a few older couples. A younger couple who only gave their first names—Jeff and Alyssa—showed up early and left Tavares’ open house relatively quickly. Jeff says that the couple are in their third year of house-hunting. He described the process as “a little discouraging,” after putting in six or seven offers just recently, all at or above asking price, often beat out by “corporations.” The couple had hoped to purchase a multi-family closer to the urban center in New Haven and make some rental income before selling to fund a single-family home that they could start a family in—something they had hoped would only take three or four years in total “I would say broadly, my time frame has kind of run out,” Jeff quipped. Another couple, who declined to give their names, had recently sold their house in the affluent and posh suburb of Darien—a quick hop from Manhattan, where the median listing price for a home is $1.7 million—and were looking to downsize. They were listing their own home as an “office exclusive” and expected a deal to go through within days, they say. More than an hour’s drive into what they describe as “country living,” the couple say they are excited for the opportunity to pay significantly less for a similar-sized home, and want to escape the intensity of Darien after their children moved out—working remotely for now, but looking ahead to retirement. Tavares says she sees plenty of mom-and-pop investors snapping up houses—mostly that are not “move-in ready.” At the $300,000 to $500,000 price range, though, houses are still getting snatched up almost instantly, and even waterfront million-dollar mansions in the area are subjected to bidding wars. This colonial in Guilford, Connecticut featuring a play room and copious yard space was perused by a mostly younger crowd during an open house earlier this month. For the Fairfield house that Ferreira listed, the end result does not necessarily reflect the market. The owner of that home was an elderly woman whose children were making most of the decisions, he says. After asking if he could sell the house in 90 days (no problem, he told them), the children pivoted and claimed they needed the cash faster—within days—rejecting all the previous offers and asking Ferreria to market the home to flippers, who would pay cash. It sold for $410,000, and Ferreira guessed the new owner would list it in a few weeks for around $800,000. “All you can do is advise people the best course of action, but it’s up to them to take the advice,” he says. Running a small company that still lists 60 to 100 homes a year, Ferreira says this kind of scenario is relatively uncommon and is not a reflection of the current market. He speculates that the children of this owner had personal reasons for leaving almost $150,000 on the table. More broadly, Ferreira says that he has been advising clients to wait on home purchases (if possible) for the last eight months, deeming that prices have become inflated and that the market is destined for a pullback. He specifically refers to the fact that around 20 of his listings in the last year or so have failed to appraise—the first time that has ever happened in his career. “We don’t think this great market is going to be as great as it has been—this is my opinion,” he cautions. “Some REALTORS® think this is never going to end, but if you lived through the 2008 correction—2006, we were seeing the same craziness.” “Nobody’s willing to wait—everyone wants it now, now, now,” he adds. Tavares does not express any particular concern about the market, and says that sellers are still getting almost whatever they want for their homes as buyers remain overabundant for nearly every town and niche. “Buyers are just super eager to be the first one in the door,” she says. Anatomy of an open house Both Ferreira and Tavares agree that the open house is not only still a useful tool, but can be especially important for a variety of reasons in the current market conditions. Both also regularly have times on weekdays, they say, for different reasons. Ferreira traces his open house strategy back four years ago, to an idea he borrowed from an agent in California. “A lot of people are exhausted on the weekends from working all these crazy hours that they’re working. So we try to get one on a Thursday or a Wednesday during the week, especially once Daylight Savings time changes so it’s not as dark,” he explains. “Just like that, the people who really want to see it, they’ll get into the property. Then we do something on a Saturday or a Sunday.” This strategy has been “extremely successful,” Ferreira says, with short weekday windows and longer times on the weekends, which can better meet the needs of more people’s schedules. Tavares says she has seen more weekday open houses recently, and the weekday opportunities are often the busiest. It also saves a lot of time because otherwise you are spending a lot of unnecessary time scheduling showings seven days a week for a horde of desperate buyers. “If you’re serious, come now and that’s it. And it works. Serious buyers show up,” she says. “Basically you’re finding that the second a property hits the market, you have buyers and agents calling.” If a property is listed on a weekday, it is hard to tell people to wait until the weekend for an open house, Tavares claims. Often agents schedule evening open houses that day or the next day. “That’s really to accommodate the demand and the desire for buyers to get in right away,” she says. Ferreira agrees that with how busy agents are, an open house is just more efficient as long as finding buyers is easy. With the internet, he says the timing and windows for open houses can be completely flexible, and he will often schedule public open houses at the same time people request showings from him, to maximize efficiency. “I’ll not just meet them, but if anybody else wants to come at that timeframe, they can,” he says. All the other traditional benefits of scheduling an open house—training new agents in your brokerage, meeting new people and getting your brand out there—remain just as important as they’ve always has been, according to Tavares, even in the face of new technology and shifting consumer behavior. “All around the board, it just kind of facilitates that entire process,” she explains. One practice that might be new, and not necessarily welcome at open houses are attempts by other agents to sneakily poach potential clients. A man at Tavares’ open house introduces himself as the husband of another agent working in the region, and admits he regularly trawls open houses to send business her way in hopes of “an earlier retirement.” “That is so bizarre…I wouldn’t say that is very—what’s the word—ethical?” she wonders. “That’s part of doing open houses, though. Part of that is, while we obviously require everyone to sign in, you get those people who try to slip by the sign-in sheet—not that it’s really a big deal at the end of the day, but you do kind of wonder.” Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas, jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaApr 25th, 2022

The 55 best gifts for new moms for Mother"s Day, from bath bombs sets to sentimental jewelry

If you're not sure what to give a new mom for Mother's Day, we rounded up 55 of the best gifts, including useful baby gear, flowers, and jewelry. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.If you're not sure what to give a new mom for Mother's Day, we rounded up 54 of the best gifts, including useful baby gear, flowers, bath bombs, and jewelry.Aurate; Lush New moms will appreciate gifts that help them relax, save time, and mark milestones with their baby. Here are 55 of the best gifts for new moms, from funny parenting books to on-the-go accessories. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience. New moms are suddenly responsible for another human being, and there are quite a few things that can make that job easier. In a very uncertain time, new moms will appreciate gifts that are both practical and luxurious — things that can save them money and time. They also appreciate items that bestow a few precious moments for self-care.New moms are among the busiest people in our lives, and they undoubtedly deserve a meaningful gift — especially for Mother's Day. Some of these gifts will help them care for their new baby, while others are simply geared toward a mother who is ready for some "me time." Check out 55 of the best gifts for new moms on Mother's Day:A bath bomb set for their night offLushLush Mom Gift Set, $32.95, available at LushIf they're the type of person to spend 40 minutes in a Lush store eyeing all the bath bombs, this mother's day set is perfect: it comes with 4 bath bombs in fun, bright shapes and calming scents like citrus and jasmine.A platter of foods that were off limits during pregnancyWilliams SonomaEuropean Cheese & Charcuterie Selection, available at Williams Sonoma, $79.95My favorite gift for the new moms in my life is a collection of all the things they couldn't eat for nine long months of pregnancy: raw cheese, cold cuts, and wine. This cheese platter features the good stuff like runny cheeses and cured meats that she's likely been craving for the better part of a year. Pair with a bottle of her favorite wine for best results. A ridiculously comfy PJ set for the rare sleep-in morningTommy JohnTommy John Second Skin Sleep Shirt and Sleep Shorts,$52 each, available at Tommy JohnMade from Tommy John's ultra-soft Second Skin fabric, this adorable pajama set offers the height of sleep luxury with the casualness of wearing a t-shirt and shorts to bed. A picture book for momAmazon"Go to Sleep (I Miss You)" by Lucy Knisley, available at Amazon, $9.39 The early days of motherhood can be a weird time. Lucy Knisley brilliantly captures the mixed feelings "from the fog of new motherhood" in this graphic novel. This is an especially good gift for the mom who is navigating a cavalcade of new emotions; Knisley's tales of early motherhood will make any mom feel less alone. A T-shirt that makes a statementEtsyGreatwood Boutique Tough as a Mother Shirt, available at Etsy, from $7.62It goes without saying that moms are tough. Remind her just how tough and resilient she is with this super soft T-shirt. It's available in 22 different colors and sizes XS to 3XL.A luxurious bathrobeParachuteClassic Bathrobe, available at Parachute, $99Deemed the best robe on the market, Parachute's bathrobe is super comfortable and fluffy. It's perfect for a mom looking for moments of relaxation during an otherwise hectic day. A wet bag for messesBuy Buy BabyItzy Ritzy Travel Happens Sealed Wet Bag, available at Buy Buy Baby, $18.99Wet bags are commonly used to store dirty cloth diapers, but new moms will find them useful for everything from onesies that were victims of a blowout to wet swim diapers. A wet bag is a gift many parents never knew they needed but are happy to have in the diaper bag when messes inevitably happen.A convenient case for diapers and wipesOXOOXO Tot On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser with Diaper Pouch, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, $20.99Sometimes parents need diaper change supplies, but they don't want to lug around the whole diaper bag. This convenient pouch is designed to hold wipes, diapers, and diaper rash cream. There's even room for some hand sanitizer.Whimsical crib sheetsAmazonRookie Humans Crib Sheets, available at Amazon, from $37.99These sheets are beautifully designed and can be the focal point of a themed nursery. Some of the designs are high contrast, which appeals to a newborn's developing eyes. After testing a sample of these sheets, I found that they fit my daughter's mattress well without popping off the corners or having too much extra fabric. A simple milestone blanketMaisonetteBaby Milestone Mat, available at Maisonette, $49Moms delight in capturing their babies at all ages and stages. From one day old to one year and beyond, this blanket makes it easy to capture their baby at every age. The neutral design also gives parents the opportunity to add seasonal elements or themes to each picture.A letterboard for memorable milestone picturesTargetPearhead 10-by-10-inch Letterboard Set, available at Target, $12.99Letterboards help parents say it all with a picture; they're often used for baby's birth announcement picture and to get a snapshot of milestones. This one is just the right size to prop next to baby for a picture.Basic birth recovery suppliesFridaFriday Mom Postpartum Recovery Essentials Kit, available at Amazon, $49.99After having a baby, things are a bit messy to say the least. Help mom recover with this kit that includes disposable postpartum underwear, instant ice maxi pads, perineal cooling pad liners, and perineal healing foam all stored in a convenient toilet-top storage caddy. A treat just for momMilk BarAssorted Truffle Box, available at Milk Bar, from $28Doesn't a mom deserve some time to sit down and indulge a bit? They'll certainly be able to with this assorted truffle box from Milk Bar. It includes three different flavors of cake truffles: Birthday, Chocolate Birthday, and Apple Cider Doughnut Cake.A necklace that symbolizes the unbreakable bond between mother and childAUrate14-Karat Connection Necklace, available at Aurate, $390This beautiful necklace, available in yellow, white, or rose gold, manages to be simultaneously elegant and bold. The company has ideals they'll support, too: Its ethical solid gold is sourced from conflict-free suppliers and it donates a book to a child in need with each purchase. Mom and baby matching PJsHanna AnderssonMommy & Me Pajamas, available at Hanna Andersson, from $73One of the perks of having a kid is getting to dress them up however you please, at least until they're old enough to say otherwise. These matching pajama sets from Hanna Andersson are sure to encourage plenty of photo shoots and #twinning moments.A smart bassinetHappiest BabyHappiest Baby Gift Card, available at Happiest Baby, from $25This smart bassinet helps new moms and babies get sleep by combining gentle rocking with soothing white noise. The smart technology responds to baby by increasing motion and shushing when it detects fussiness. It also keeps babies in a secure swaddle so they stay safely on their back.A floral arrangement to brighten their dayThe Bouqs Co.A Fresh Floral Arrangement, available at The Bouqs Co., from $49These fresh flower arrangements come from farms that minimize waste and recycle water. Choose from classic bouquets like roses or sunflowers or opt for a more unique option that she can plant. The floral arrangement will be a bright spot in her day.Something to help them stay caffeinatedAmazonTakeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $27.99New moms need all the coffee. If cold brew is their thing, gift this cold brew coffee maker. It makes four servings of coffee. If mom preps it the night before, fresh coffee will be ready at the crack of dawn — right about when the baby wakes up. A minimalistic diaper bagKibouKibou Bag, available at Nordstrom, $89Moms need their hands free to do all the holding, rocking, wiping, and feeding that comes along with new babies. This small diaper fanny pack is made of high-quality vegan leather and has room for wipes, diapers, credit cards, keys, mom's phone, and more. It even comes with a built-in changing pad.The best socks they've never triedBombasBombas Gift Bag or Box, available at Bombas, from $55You might be thinking: Really, socks? But having a nice pair can make a world of difference. Bombas spent two years perfecting its gym socks. With thoughtful innovations, like a blister tab and performance cushioned footbeds, their feet will notice the difference. Bombas also donates a pair to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. A pick-me-up for her eyesPeach & LilyCold Brew Eye Recovery Stick, available at Peach & Lily, $28With one swipe of this stick, mom's eyes will feel more awake and less puffy. They probably won't have time to put on a full face of makeup, but this will help them feel a little more put together after a night of broken sleep.The best pillows to help them sleepAmazonCoop Home Goods Pillow, available at Amazon, $69.99I know what you're thinking: Is it really worth $70 for a pillow? The answer is yes. This memory foam pillow is adjustable so it's comfortable for every type of sleeper. New moms need all the help they can get when it comes to sleeping.Their favorite quote, framedMintedA Framed Custom Quote, available at Minted, from $38Maybe a new mom has a favorite quote that reminds them of their baby or they're just a lover of words. This gift will be a beautiful keepsake for them to always remember the newborn phase. Merino-wool sneakersAllbirdsWool Runners, available at Allbirds, $110When you're on your feet all day, a pair of good shoes makes all the difference. Allbirds wool runners won't fail them — they're soft, comfortable, and machine washable. You can't go wrong with the originals, but the new Tree line is similarly light and comfortable. A virtual baby bookQeepsakeQeepsake Membership, available at Qeepsake, from $47.88Qeepsake texts parents or caregivers questions to answer about their child. Parents simply text their answer back with accompanying photos if they desire and Qeepsake saves the responses. Then, users can order a book that displays all the questions, answers, and memories.A personalized beauty subscriptionBirchboxBirchbox Three-Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $45New moms will inevitably be dealing with spilled milk, spit-up, and lots of dirty diapers. Make them feel pampered with a personalized beauty subscription. They'll be able to create her own Beauty Profile, making each box just right for them.A sentimental gift for a lasting memoryMainEventUSA/EtsyBaby Hand and Footprint Kit, available at Etsy, $25.95This gift freezes the littleness of their new baby in time. Nothing shows how fast a baby grows quite like comparing their growing hands and feet to how small they once were. This kit allows new moms to do the prints at home and add two pictures.A treat to satisfy their sweet tooth while supporting milk productionAmazonMunchkin Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites, available at Amazon, $21.99These delicious cookies come in prepackaged bags so they can easily grab a snack while nursing. Although more studies examining the benefits of lactation cookies need to be conducted, this convenient treat certainly won't hurt.A nightlight that will help their baby — and in turn, them — sleep wellAmazonHatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-Rise, available at Buy Buy Baby, $69.99Rest is a nightlight, sound machine, and wake-up alert that grows with children — from soft light and white noise for midnight newborn feeding sessions to a preschooler's nightlight. Parents can customize everything — color, brightness, sound, and volume level — or they can choose from presets recommended by sleep experts. A neck and back massager they can use any timeAmazonZyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager, available at Amazon, $59.95New moms spend a lot of time hunched over: picking up baby, putting down baby, carrying baby, and feeding baby. This massager has heated nodes that rotate, and moms can move it around to any spot they're feeling tension.A memorable piece of jewelryMarky Baby Milk Jewelry/EtsyMarky Baby Milk Jewelry DIY Kit, available at Etsy, from $34.04Moms who choose to breastfeed often face an emotional journey. The piece of jewelry from this DIY kit is made with their own breast milk so they can remember this special time long after their baby has grown up.A personalized T-shirtKnown Supply/InstagramPersonalized Fitted Crew, available at Known Supply, $32 + $10 monogramLet's be honest — they're probably going to be spending a lot of time at home in the first year. What could be better than a cozy, comfortable tee made of Pima cotton? Bonus points if you choose a color that will hide a spit-up stain.A variety of Korean sheet masks for an at-home spa dayFacetory/Business InsiderFacetory 7 Lux 1-Month Gift Subscription, available at Facetory, $19.90They could try a different Korean sheet mask every day of the week if they wanted to. The unique sheets made with innovative ingredients are hard to find anywhere else — Facetory curates only the most interesting and effective in the K-beauty world. Adorable leather baby moccasinsFreshly Picked/InstagramFreshly Picked Baby Moccasins, available at Buy Buy Baby, $35These 100% genuine cowhide leather moccasins have a soft sole to help children who are starting to walk. They're easy to put on, will actually stay on your kid's feet, and come in many stylish prints and colors. An Audible gift subscriptionAudible/Business InsiderAn Audible subscription, available at Audible, from $15Do you know what's really hard to do when you're holding a baby, a bottle, and trying to cook all at once? Read a book. What's easier? Listening to one on Audible. They can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and more while multitasking at home or strolling through the neighborhood.A 5-year journalWrite to MeThe First Five Years Baby Journal, available at Write To Me, $49.95This linen-bound guided journal prompts parents to record milestones and memories to cherish for a lifetime. They'll be able to look back at all the firsts — first birthday, first haircut, first steps — and beam with pride.A funny book about the realities of motherhoodAmazon/Insider"The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year," by Dawn Dais, available at Amazon, $15.99Any mom knows that motherhood is not all rainbows and sunshine. This book dispenses practical and useful information in a humorous format that will have new parents laughing through the particularly hard days.  A selection of soft, high-quality baby clothing basicsPrimaryA Primary gift card, available at Primary, from $25Shopping for baby clothing is easy at Primary, which was founded by two moms. The adorable, colorful, and gender-neutral styles are classic and made from safe Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, soft fabrics. Primary offers sizes from newborn through age 12.A fitness app so they can work out with a trainer at homeKira Stokes/Business InsiderA subscription to Kira Stokes Fit, from $14.99/monthFlexibility is paramount for busy moms, and a good fitness app offers just that. The Kira Stokes Fit app has abs, legs, core, and full-body workouts available to stream anytime, on any device, so moms can sweat on their own time. Crib sheets from an Internet-famous bedding startupBrooklinenMini Crib Sheet Set, available at Brooklinen, from $32Adults love Brooklinen sheets, and now babies can enjoy the soft and comfortable experience, too. If they don't yet have a set for themselves, include a gift that will help them sleep as well. A versatile diaper bagAmazonSkip Hop Forma Backpack Diaper Bag, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, from $67.99The lightweight, minimalist design of this diaper bag makes it a versatile option for new moms. The included cubes make it easy to organize diapers, wipes, bottles, and snacks. There's also a convenient changing pad within one of its pockets.Dinner on the table in under an hourHelloFresh/InstagramA HelloFresh Gift Card, from $70Meal kits take the guesswork out of cooking. Food is delivered weekly, meaning fewer trips to the grocery store, and the kit includes easy step-by-step recipes to prepare dinner — a snap when they're basically too tired to function.A long-distance touch lampFiliminFilimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps, available at Uncommon Goods, from $99A new mom's life is busy and tiring, so they might not always be available to talk and catch up. When you want to let them know you're thinking of them and vice versa without actually saying anything, just tap the lamp to make the other one light up. Stress relief in a tiny jade packageWalgreens/Business InsiderRevlon Cool & Depuff Jade Stone Facial Roller, available at Amazon, $9.99This facial roller can be used on all skin types to help improve circulation and reduce the puffiness that comes with sleep deprivation. It may temporarily firm skin, too. Most of all, it just feels good, especially when kept cool in the fridge.A modern baby bookArtifact UprisingA Baby Book "The Story of You," available at Artifact Uprising, from $99With a sturdy fabric-bound cover (available in seven color/foil pairings), this interactive photo journal is a beautiful way to focus on the everyday moments rather than major milestones. The book is 100 pages and holds 47 photos. Register it online and get a complimentary set of Everyday Prints. Leggings that feel and look great90 Degree by Reflex/Facebook90 Degree By Reflex High-Waist Power Flex Leggings, available at Amazon, from $16.98We love these leggings because they are versatile, supportive, and silhouette smoothing. They also have a little pocket to hold keys or a credit card if she needs to run out. Available in 13 colors, these leggings are available up to size XXL and run true to size.A moment of zenChijiA Positive Energy Candle, available at Home of Chiji, from $39.99This brand's motto is "illuminate positivity" and when a baby has been crying for hours, a positive vibe is desperately needed. These candles are infused with crystals like amethyst and rose quartz to bring some calm to a chaotic house.A book that helps new moms who have endless questionsAmazon/Business Insider"Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool," by Emily Oster, available at Amazon, $13.39If they loved Emily Oster's pregnancy book "Expecting Better," they'll dive right into "Cribsheet." The "data-driven guide" helps new parents with sleep, potty training, and much more. A comfortable nursing braAmazon/Business InsiderMotherhood Maternity Women's Wrap Front Nursing Sleep Bra, available at Amazon, from $13.09All a new mom wants is to be comfortable, since chances are they aren't for most of the day. This wrap-front bra is soft, wireless yet supportive, and perfect for wearing all day and all night.A smart home deviceAmazonAmazon Echo Dot (4th Gen), available at Amazon, $39.99Hands-free music streaming, news and weather reports, thermostat controls, and alarms for naps or feeding, the Echo Dot does it all. They'll become a multitasking mom in no time with this smart home device.A soothing under eye treatmentSephoraWander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks, available at Sephora, $26These gold foil eye masks provide a soothing treatment for tired eyes. They help with puffiness and dark circles. Best of all, they won't fall off like some sheet masks, so they can hold baby upright while pampering themselves.Bubble bath made from plant-based ingredientsWalmart/Business InsiderHello Bello Bubble Bath, available at Walmart, $5.98Hello Bello, the baby line from Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, prides itself on making premium, plant-based products like body wash, baby lotion, wipes, and this bubble bath. The gentle, hypoallergenic formula is dermatologist-tested and safe on sensitive skin, so both mom and baby can enjoy a nourishing playful bath.A soothie to keep pacifier off the floorAmazon/Business InsiderPhilips Avent Soothie Snuggle Pacifier Holder with Detachable Pacifier, available at Buy Buy Baby, $14.99This adorable pacifier and holder be used beginning at birth. The pacifier and animal detach from each other, so it's easy and fast to clean both pieces. It comes in a variety of cute critters like an elephant, giraffe, monkey, and seal. A reusable smart notebookAmazonRocketbook Everlast Reusable Smart Notebook, available at Amazon, $18.74New parents live and die by a schedule. This notebook is surprisingly handy — it sends handwritten notes directly to the cloud. It makes sharing with the entire family a breeze, all without wasting paper.A pair of embroidered makeup towelsWeezieMakeup Towels, available at Weezie, $40We've personally discovered Weezie's makeup towels are unexpectedly useful, and so will they. Even if they aren't washing off makeup, the fluffy fabric will feel great at the end of a long day. You can even have them embroidered to say "Mama" or a phrase of your choosing.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 15th, 2022