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In a practical joke, 2 teenagers tried to enjoy their Big Macs with forks, knives, and candlelight
Keeping it classy, even at McDonald's.
We've heard of couples getting married at a McDonald's, and while we're sure the reception included plastic flutes of champagne and tablecloths on those occasions, it seems like whipping out the candlelight on any old dinner date is frowned upon.
Metro UK reports that two teenagers, Cameron Ford and Adam Welland, decided to class up their local Mickey D's by bringing in a tablecloth, fake candles, wine glasses, and cutlery, only to be told to leave. Metro reports that the teenagers were warned "leave or your [sic] banned," when the two were only trying to bring a little class to the fast-food joint. "It was just the standard knives and forks. Clearly we were planning to take over the whole of McDonald’s, so they had to stop that," Welland tweeted.
Turns out, however, that other staff members and surrounding customers overturned the one staff member's decision to kick them out, leaving the boys to enjoy their meal in peace. Since then, however, the story has gone viral; McDonald's has yet to comment on the incident, but we imagine many copycat pranks will ensue.
Get Rid of 100 Things Weekend
Are you being overrun by toys and papers too? I feel as if the kids’ toys are multiply in the night.
Join us for a 100 Things Weekend. Grab a garbage bag and make a donation box and hit the house hard. Don’t mull over this or that, just grab the random useless items that have become a permanent fixture in your house.
Get rid of things like old magazines, summer clothes that you never wore, fall clothes you still won’t fit in this year, kitchen gadgets that waste space, random keys & dead batteries from the junk drawer. Liberate yourself from that ugly candle your mother gave you that you are never going to burn. Give away that quilt your mother-in-law gave you guilt free to someone who needs it.
Don’t forget to include the kids in this adventure.
Toss things out like that truck with only three wheels, that McDonald’s Happy Meal toy (how do those things find their way in our homes anyhow?), that old National Geographic Kids magazine, and that half ripped art project. Donate things like Baby Einstein videos and any other infant toys your seven year old swears they still play with! Consider anything that has dust on it from inactivity.
Still not sold on the idea? Take a lesson on life from a five year old . Read this insightful article from the blog Organizing Our Way .
You Don’t Have to be a Domestic Goddess
to Take Control of Your Life
In the end a simple home environment allows your child more room for mental growth and creativity. If you participate I’d love to hear about it or see photos on Facebook .
Candlelight dinner at McDonald's? Yes, you get fries with that!
A candlelight dinner on Valentine's Day. How Romantic.
But at McDonald's? We promise we're not trying to pull a fast one on you about this fast food romanticism.
Like the old proverb, necessity was the mother of invention for Mark Caviness, the general manager of the Clifton McDonald's.
"Six years ago I tried to take our family to a restaurant and had to wait three hours," Caviness said. "It took too long to wait so we ended up going to McDonald's."
The next year when his guest services manager wanted to decorate the store for Valentine's Day, he said, "Why not do a candlelight dinner?"
On Wednesday, they set the mood for couples, young and old, to get flowers, a candlelit table, and of course, fries.
It's also an easy location for families to gather.
"I thought it'd be cool for the little one," said Brooke Van Orden. "Beautifully decorated and there are real candles so it's wonderful."
Reservations have been booked solid every year, and this year they super-sized the number of reservations by an extra hour.
"Each year we get bigger, and bigger, and bigger," Caviness said. "The ladies will say 'well I was going to shoot my husband for taking me here, but I liked it, I loved it.'"
If you want to start planning for next year, Caviness said he starts getting reservations weeks ahead of time for this special day.
Meet the woman who married a ROLLERCOASTER called Bruce - their relationship has its ups and downs
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but none more so than Linda&aposs - because she&aposs married to a 70-tonne rollercoaster called Bruce.
Linda, 56, first fell in love with 70ft tall Bruce 26 years ago when she worked at the carnival where the ride was based.
But only recently rekindled the romance after previous relationships with a locomotive and an aeroplane.
She is a self-proclaimed &aposobjectum sexual&apos which means she has romantic feelings for inanimate objects.
Linda, from America, is just one of the stars of the new series of My Strange Addiction which airs on channel TLC.
"Some women like tall men, some women like men with a colorful personality, he&aposs got all of that," she says in the show.
"To me, Bruce is just amazing when he stands up and is spread out."
The pair enjoy candlelit dinners and Linda often spends the night sleeping in the ride.
She&aposs joined by a couple of Brits with unusual habits - including 29-year-old Londoner Patrice who has been addicted to chewing bricks for the past 12 years.
Her addiction is so powerful she once chewed a two-foot hole in the wall of her bedroom and ate part of her grandmother&aposs home in secret.
"I started eating brick in my late teens," she explained in the show.
"I got the idea to do it from my grandma who told me that my auntie and uncle, when they were kids, used to dig the wall and taste it."
She says living in London makes her addiction worse.
"London is full of brick,&apos she says. "The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the roads. Brick is everywhere. I&aposm having this constant reminder of brick, brick, brick."
Also featured is 29-year-old Carolyn from Liverpool who has spent £26,000 making herself look more like Pamela Anderson and has dubbed herself &aposthe Scouse Pammie&apos.
There&aposs also Evelyn, who drinks air freshener and sprays it in her mouth up to 50 times a day.
55 Things in Your Attic That May Be Worth a Lot of Money
Don't throw away those boxes! You might be sitting on a gold mine.
We get it&mdashyou're stuck at home with a lot of extra time on your hands. You've looked up how to clean blinds and how to paint a room&mdashand then actually did the work! You've even resorted to Googling "What to do when you're bored." So now it's time to consider tackling the long-neglected task of cleaning out the attic or storage room. We all have that stash of boxes, you know the "priceless family heirlooms" that Grandma gave you ages ago. They're those boxes that haven't unpacked in several moves and too many years to count. While there is nothing more satisfying than dropping a pile of forgotten goods at the donation center (you know what they say about one man's trash. ), it might be worth taking a gander through your hoards of stuff to make sure you're not sitting on a treasure trove. Through the years, items can appreciate in value more than you think. So before you toss or donate anything, take a look at this list of 55 items that are worth a lot of money today and may just be hiding in plain sight in your storage. Who knows? Even those garage sale items you bought for a dollar could be worth a fortune now!
Equestrian and hunting paintings reached mainstream popularity in 19th-century England, but horses and their riders have added proper flair to gallery walls for hundreds of years. From formal jockey portraits to action-filled depictions of traditional fox-hunting excursions, the category is popular for casual horse lovers and experts alike. Large oil paintings with original ornate frames garner much higher values, while smaller examples in simpler, more primitive frames bring less.
What it's worth: $200 to $10,000
Video game consoles from the 1980s are nabbing big dollars, especially when they&rsquore unused and/or a rare edition. The Nintendo PlayStation prototype shown here sold at auction in March 2020 for a whopping $360K. Individual video games&mdashwhile available at every price point&mdashcan bring more than $20,000.
What it's worth: $20 to $360,000
Julia Child is one of America's favorite chefs, and her first cookbook swept the nation when it was published in 1961. If you've hung onto an original copy, you may be in the market for more than just a satisfied appetite&mdasha first edition in good condition with the original jacket is rare and earns top dollar on Ebay and other online auctions sites.
What it's worth: $2,000 and up
August 2020 marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment&rsquos ratification, which means &ldquovotes for women&rdquo collectibles are back in the spotlight. Items like those shown here that date directly to the movement&rsquos most active years (1890&ndash1917) are considered museum-worthy with values in the thousands later pieces, such as buttons and pins, are more affordable. Find an extensive index of artifacts at womansuffragememorabilia.com.
What it's worth: $50 to priceless
Post WWII, Americans were in a celebratory mood, and at-home entertaining (especially cocktail parties) was all the rage. Important to the affair was the offering of the appropriate graphic and colorful barware&mdashwith just the right dose of gold glitz&mdashby well-known glassware companies such as Libbey, Federal Glass, Hazel-Atlas, and Culver. As the craze for retro cocktails has grown, so has love for the accompanying accoutrements. But you don&rsquot have to wait for a party to enjoy them. These modern pieces make a fun addition to your everyday table.
What it's worth: $15 to $1,500
Lately, Country Living's style editors have been coveting monochromatic vintage coverlets like the pretty pieced quilt shown here. Their back-to-basics patterns (typically a single color mixed with white) were popular in the 1930s and &rsquo40s and are reminiscent of early quilters&rsquo designs, when color and fabric options were limited.
What it's worth: $150 to $450
When it comes to the nostalgia factor, nothing tops an original concert poster, and the bigger the name (read, the Beatles!), the better. Appraiser Helaine Fendelman advises that framed posters are more desirable and bring in the higher end of the $100-$1,000 range, although those of bigger headliners may bring much more at auction&mdasha poster for a 1966 Shea Stadium Beatles concert sold for $137,000 earlier this year.
What it's worth: up to $25,000
When young lithographer Milton Bradley founded his Springfield, Massachusetts-based printing business, an English board game he'd been introduced to by a friend was very much on his mind. He decided to launch a U.S. version of the game, The Checkered Game of Life, in 1860. The risk paid off in a big way, and so began his company's new direction and the eventual introduction of more than 1,000 games. Some were based on traditional card and parlor games, some gave a nod to cultural themes (money during the Depression, patriotism during war times), while others banked on characters from pop culture (think Superman or Charlie's Angels). When it comes to resale, sealed, unopened boxes often double the value, but the retro nostalgia of childhood family nights equals dollars for most titles.
What it's worth: $10 to $800
These gilt-framed bull's eye mirrors are often capped with an eagle, which was a popular patriotic motif of our then-newly independent country. It's also thought that the 13 balls around the edge symbolize the 13 original colonies. Mirrors of the actual Federal period date to 1780&ndash1830 and fetch top dollar, while nice 19th- or early-20th-century &ldquoin the style of&rdquo examples sell for much less.
What it's worth: $100 to $10,000
Small wall and desk clocks in the Art Deco style reached peak popularity in the 1930s and &rsquo40s. Their shapes and materials reflected the opulence of the era&mdashthink mirrored faces, gold accents, and geometric designs that mimicked the skyscrapers popping up in major cities at the time. Many clocks can be found for under $50, but higher value models by esteemed makers like Westclox and Telechron can reach nearly $1,000 in value. (Tip: they&rsquore super easy to spot. The maker name is usually shown on the clockface itself.)
What it's worth: $25 to $1,000
Still holding on to your old lunch box? Boxes featuring Roy Rogers, The Beatles, The Jetsons, and even Rambo can score a lot of cash.
What it's worth: Up to $3,100
Duck decoys became highly collectable in the mid-20th century and prices have never been higher for pristine items. If you've inherited one, you could earn up to hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction. Read further for more specifics on what makes for a valuable decoy.
What it's worth: Up to $650,000
If you've hung onto this popular 1967 record from The Beatles, you could be in luck. Copies of the album have brought up to $290,500 at auction, although most sell for a couple hundred dollars.
What it's worth: Up to $290,500
When pegging the value of baseball cards, the general rule is that the older they are, the more they are worth. There are a lot of nuances that determine a card's worth though, so if you've come across a hoard of old cards, it's worth getting them appraised. Based on variables like condition, player, and year, a card can be sold online for thousands of dollars.
What it's worth: Up to $3.2 million
These mini vases measure just four inches tall but pack a decorative punch. Made by Morton Pottery, they&rsquore just one example of the earthy swirled pottery popularized by Midwestern and Ozark-area makers like Niloak and Nemadji in the 1920s and &rsquo30s. Often sold as roadside souvenirs, these colorful vessels are widely known as &ldquotourist pottery.&rdquo Larger vases (12-plus inches tall) with maker&rsquos marks can be worth upward of $300.
What it's worth: $15 to $350
The plush collectable toys that were popular in the 1990s have massive resale value on sites like Ebay, especially if the tag is still attached and the item is in mint condition. While many are only worth a few dollars, some of the limited edition toys have sold for up to half a million dollars online. For example, one of the original Beanie Babies&mdasha lobster named Pinchers&mdashsells for $35,000.
What it's worth: Up to $500,000
Founded in 1919 as a subsidiary of General Electric, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was a pioneer in the radio industry. In 1929, RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company (known for the Victrola phonograph), creating RCA Victor and launching their presence into consumer radios. The company followed its original Radiola line with Art Deco-style console and wooden radios that dominated the marketplace in the '30s and '40s. Plastic was all the craze post-WWII, and RCA answered with sleek, colorful tube radios make of Bakelite and, later, other nonresin plastics, like this trio pictured.
What it's worth: up to $4,000
Yep, that record player is worth something too! "This RCA Victor Slide-O-Matic record player is somewhat rare," says eBay's Jim Griffith. "This particular model dates back to the 1950s and made listening to a stack of 45s&mdashthe only kind of record it plays&mdashpretty labor intensive," he says. "Records are inserted one at a time, so you basically listen to a single song before it's time to insert the next one." This model is less sought after than portable versions or a later version that combined the record player and an AM radio in single device.
What it's worth: up to $800
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a pair of Super Bowl tickets back in the day, you could earn a big payout from holding onto them. Most of these paper tickets have a blue or yellow stripe on the top which, according to Sports Collectors Daily, sell for between $200 to $1,000. If you held onto tickets with white stripes on top, you could make up to $4,000. Of course, it depends on the popularity of the game, as well. Super Bowl II and Super Bowl XII tickets are particularly rare.
What it's worth: Up to $4,000
Vintage clothing and accessories, such as scarves, handbags, and belts, can bring prices in the thousands, and even the tens of thousands if they bear a designer name such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Chanel. (A limited edition Hermes Birkin bag sold for $125,000!) Less-famous name-brand items can be snagged at more affordable prices. &ldquoThe key is condition,&rdquo says appraiser Bene Raia. &ldquoLook through all the layers of the fabric to make sure there are no moth holes or damage. Then find a great dry cleaner.&rdquo
20 Ways McDonald’s Has Revolutionized Eating Out In The Past 20 Years
In October 1996, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd., (HRPL) a wholly owned subsidiary of Westlife Development Ltd brought the world famous McDonald’s to India with the launch of an outlet in Bandra, Mumbai. Since then Hardcastle restaurants has opened 245 (as of 30 September 2016) outlets across West and South India.
The restaurants have allowed customers from across the country to enjoy McDonald’s quintessential dining experience which includes quickly served food, clean and comfortable dining areas and unique facilities. Through the course of twenty years, with the unique experiences it provides, McDonald’s has revolutionised the concept of eating out.
Here, we’re taking a look at some of McDonald’s unique practices, ranging from its food and beverage offerings, its variety of formats, its unique supply and demand chain to its involvement with employees which help explain its status as a fast food giant in India today.
Adapting The Menu To Suit Local Palates
While McDonald’s is a global fast food icon, about 70% of their fare has been developed to suit the local, Indian palate. The McAloo Tikki is a perfect example made with a potato and peas patty with Indian spices and breadcrumbs, it was introduced in 1997 and was an instant hit. Since then, it has travelled abroad to countries in Asia like Singapore and Dubai to name a few.
Adapting The Menu To Suit Local Culture
Across the world, McDonald’s iconic ‘Big Mac’ burger has been made with a double beef patty. However, displaying respect to the culture in India, a revised version of the Big Mac – ‘The Chicken Maharaja Mac‘ was created and in Jan 2016 a veg variant was also introduced! Indeed, India is the first country in the world where McDonald’s does not serve beef or pork products.
Meals For All Occasions
Whether you’re craving a good, hearty breakfast, a quick lunch or a wholesome dinner, McDonald’s always has something for you. While McDonald’s outlets serve hot cakes, McMuffins and McEggs for breakfast and burgers and wraps for later meals, McCafés are the perfect destination for a range of gourmet beverages including speciality coffee, teas, frappes, smoothies and a range of desserts including cakes, cookies and muffins.
Value For Money Meals
To provide customers with balanced meals, McDonald’s offers combo meals for almost all its fare. The Chicken McGrill, the Aloo wrap, the McAloo Tikki and the Masala Grill Chicken can all be had with fries and a soft drink at a pocket friendly price, creating a balanced, satisfying meal which is easily accessible.
A Range Of Healthy Menu Options
We’re living in a society which has become increasingly health conscious and McDonald’s has ensured it is providing a range of options for those who count their calories. A majority of their patties and breakfast options are grilled. According to recent reports, McDonald’s India reduced the sodium by 20% in the world famous MacFries and 10% across McNuggets and buns and the fat content in their mayonnaise from 67% to 25.5% so you can now indulge with low fat mayos in your favourite burger. Meanwhile, its dairy products such as the soft serves contain less than 3.5% fat.
McDonald’s has gone a long way in ensuring that it is a family restaurant. The trademark Happy Meals are a prime example of this children receive a meal containing a burger or nuggets paired with a tetra packet of juice and – the item which gets them most excited – a toy. Through the Happy Meal, parents can ensure that their children receive a rounded meal as well as a new form of entertainment.
Children can also enjoy their birthday parties at McDonald’s. These parties or ‘Birthday Blasts’ include Ronald McDonald invitation Cards, exiting games with cool prizes, return gifts, a special gift for the birthday child from Ronald McDonald and a special birthday card.
While McDonald’s offers fun, spacious dining areas to customers, it also understands that sometimes families just want to spend some quality time at home. So, it offers a home delivery or ‘McDelivery’ option. The home delivery menu is almost the same as the in store menu and the chain also offers special offers on delivery such as a free dessert with a meal or a one plus one deal which customers can avail of using coupon codes.
McDonald’s is family friendly in a variety of ways but also appeals to a younger crowd. McCafé, a in-house coffee style chain with their classy decor and plethora of beverage choices which makes it a perfect places for youth to unwind and enjoy affordable luxury meals and drinks.
Drive Thrus, which can be found on expressways and highways throughout the country are a traveller’s best friend as they offer them a range of amenities including a comfortable place to dine on delicious, hygienic food, clean bathrooms and parking facilities.
Producing Large Quantities To Cater To Volumes Of Customers
Through its unique supply chain, McDonald’s produces and serves a staggering quantities of products annually including approximately 15 crore buns, about 3.2 million litres of special vegetarian sauce which is used to add flavour to burgers and wraps and 1,200 tons of locally grown iceberg lettuce.
Working With Farmers To Ensure Premium Produce
McDonald’s has worked and continues to work with local farmers to help establish and improve their farming practices. For instance, at a time when iceberg lettuce was imported into India it trained 500-600 farmers to produce the crop in India itself, creating fresher lettuce which is ‘Made in India’. Through this and other similar efforts, it has ensured that it produces premium produce along with helping the lives of farmers and boosted local economy. Today, McDonald’s sources 90-85% of its raw resources directly from farmers.
The produce sourced from farmers is then taken to McDonald’s production partners like Mrs. Bector’s (which produce the burger buns) and Vista Processed Foods (which produces the patties). These production companies work in an efficient fashion to produce patties, breads, sauces and other products, ensuring that stringent hygiene and quality check steps are undertaken during every leg of the process.
Unique Supply Chain
Once produced, the products are then picked up by McDonald’s logistics partner, Radhakrishna Foodland which handles the distribution of products across the country. The company has an expansive fleet of delivery trucks as well as storage space at a variety of optimum temperatures for each product. Through Radhakrishna Foodland’s delivery process, products arrive at McDonald’s outlets fresh and in a timely fashion.
Hygiene and Food Safety at McDonald’s Outlets
Following their delivery, the products are then assembled in McDonald’s kitchens which have separate sections for vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. To ensure hygiene and food safety, various measures are taken including food audits twice daily, equipping every station with sanitising solution and directing the staff to wear appropriate clothing such as hair-nets, minimum jewellery for women inside the kitchen.
As well as providing indirect employment to farmers and employees of processing and delivery companies, McDonald’s directly employees over 7,000 individuals across West and South India read more about McDonald’s employees here.
McDonald’s makes a special effort to employ a diverse workforce with employees from across India as well as a large percentage of women.
Skills For Life
Each employee at the chain is trained with a Skills For Life course, which provides individuals in lessons on customer service as well as leadership skills which will help them with not just their McDonald’s careers, but a range of job paths in the future.
Opportunities for Education
Additionally, employees are encouraged to pursue higher learning opportunities – the chain has tie ups with institutes like Symbiosis and Welingkars which allow employees to avail of discounts. Indeed, there are several examples of employees at McDonald’s who started out as high school graduates and now head multi crore businesses.
Service With a Smile
Finally, every McDonalds’s employee is trained to follow the catchphrase ‘Service With A Smile’ ensuring that customers enjoy a pleasant ordering and delicious dining experience.
This complex web of factors from employee opportunities, behaviour and satisfaction, food quality, initiatives and unique facilities, which work together to guarantee a customer an un-paralled dining experience. And, it’s this experience it provides which has given McDonald’s its stellar reputation today and will continue to do so in the years to come.
A Pink Slip for Ronald McDonald?
What? Was he in danger of being laid-off? Apparently, not everyone is crazy about his work which critics say amounts to little more than pushing junk food onto kids. The organization Corporate Accountability International has been issuing calls for the fast-food giant to retire the relentlessly cheery pitchman, observing that sales of cigarettes to kids dropped dramatically when Joe the Camel and his rough-and-tumble buddy the Marlboro Man were let go.
Psh, replied McDonald's Corp.'s CEO Jim Skinner at a shareholders meeting last week in Oak Brook, Ill. The bizarrely coiffed redhead is ""is a force for good," Skinner told shareholders. "He communicates effectively with children and families around balanced, active lifestyles. He does not hawk food."
That seems like a bit of a stretch &ndash what else would he be doing if he weren't hawking food? &ndash but shareholders applauded the announcement. It looks as if Ronald's got job security for another 50 years. Now, if maybe someone could do something about that creepy monarch over at Burger King.
Ring in the new: 12 travel breaks to start the New Year
Make hay in Cork
If you’ve been responsible for feeding the troops all over Christmas, it’s time to sit back and let someone else do the cooking. Head to Hayfield Manor just outside Cork city for a champagne reception designed to wet your whistle for the eight-course gala dinner that follows. Roll out the barrels indeed. And when you’ve rung in the New Year, to the accompaniment of the hotel’s resident band, it’s back downstairs next morning for a champagne breakfast and suitably late (1.30pm) checkout. From €299 per person sharing. hayfieldmanor.ie
Northern highlights in Derry
Head north for a stylish New Year’s Eve package at the Ardtara Country House Hotel, recently awarded a Best Hotel Restaurant in Ulster gong. The Victorian Country House has a two-night New Year’s package including full Irish breakfast, prosecco and canape reception on New Year’s Eve and six-course tasting menu with specially selected wines, as well as live entertainment. Then retire in the wee hours to a bedroom with king-sized bed and open fire – it’s won romantic hotel of the year awards too. Prices from GDP199 (about €277) per person sharing. ardtara.com
Stay longer at Longueville
Enjoy lazy days at Longueville House, a country estate outside Mallow in Co Cork, whose great value New Year’s Eve break sees you check in on December 29th for three days of leisurely breakfasts, country walks and cosy log fires. Enjoy candlelit dinners on two nights and a special New Year’s Eve dinner, with dancing, on the big night when owners the O’Callaghan family and staff will be filling champagne flutes and toasting your very good health. From €479.50 per person sharing. Longuevillehouse.ie
Family friendly in Athlone
Make it a family affair at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. The hotel, which is on the shores of Lough Ree, has a five-course New Year’s Eve dinner in its award-winning L’Escale restaurant, with adult guests invited to kick-start the New Year with a live band while little ones can have dinner in its Penguin Kid’s Camp and their own disco event running until 1am. Teenagers can do what they do best and stare at their phones for the night in the dedicated teen room, breaking occasionally to roll their eyes. Two-night packages start from €219 per adult sharing. hodsonbayhotel.com
Capture a castle in Mayo
Celebrate Auld Lang Syne in very traditional style at Ashford Castle in Cong. Guests here arrive on New Year’s Eve to a glass of mulled wine and an afternoon treasure hunt around the grounds, designed to work up an appetite for the afternoon tea that follows in the drawing room. Evening festivities begin with a cocktail reception before a black-tie dinner, dancing and a midnight champagne celebration. Next day, fortified by a bucks fizz brunch, is a melange of golf, falconry demonstrations, boat trips and clay pigeon shoots, before more afternoon tea, dinner and music. The two-night package costs from €977.50 per person sharing. Ashfordcastle.com
Rock around the clock in Killarney
Liven up your New Year’s celebration with the queen of rockabilly, the indomitable Imelda May, who will be ringing in the New Year – with fellow Dub Damien Dempsey – at the INEC in Killarney. A fantastic venue for a getaway package at any time of year, stand by for the roof to be raised at New Year’s, with celebrations set to continue into the wee hours at both the Gleneagle and Brehon Hotels, which share the same grounds. A two-night stay at The Gleneagle, including breakfast each morning and concert ticket, cost from €183 per person sharing. The same package in the neighbouring Brehon starts from €248 pps. inec.ie
Cruise into the New Year
Voyage into 2016 on a cruise ship and you’ll be packing in cities, not suitcases. Start the New Year with a six-night Mediterranean fly/cruise with online travel agent E-Travel, on board the four star Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Epic – famous for the quality of its on-board entertainment. Fly out from Dublin on December 28th, bound for Barcelona, dump your kit in your cabin and set sail for Rome, Naples and Palma, Majorca. Stay in a balcony stateroom from €1,499 per person sharing, including return flights and transfers. e-travel.ie
Olé lang syne in Spain
See a different side of Spain with a New Year’s holiday in Andalusia, departing December 29th from Dublin to Malaga, and transferring for a seven-night stay at the four-star hotel Antequera Golf, on a half board basis.
Antequera is known as the heart of Andalucia, and a good base from which to see Malaga, Cordoba and Seville, excursions to which are all included in the package, as well as a special dinner and entertainment on New Year’s Eve. The package, including flights, accommodation and tours, costs from €829. traveldepartment.ie
Waltz into the New Year in Vienna
As you’d expect from Vienna, they do New Year’s Eve in style. From 2pm until 2am, the old city centre is transformed into a giant party zone, with a new Year’s Eve Trail to follow, hot punch and culinary treats on every corner and all sorts of musical entertainment. Check out the classical area on Graben and see the city’s dance schools offer crash courses – often literally – in waltz on Stephansplatz, with a firework display rounding things off on City Hall Square and in the Prater at midnight.
Then it’s up next day for a hangover cure brunch featuring the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert on a big screen in front of City Hall.
Clickandgo has accommodation to suit, staying at the three-star Altwienerhof Hotel for three nights, B&B, from €489 pps. clickandgo.com
Keep your sunny side up in Dubai
Top up your tan with a winter sun holiday in Dubai this New Year. Stay at the five-star Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf, a new hotel close to famous landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Creek and the Gold Souq and which offers a free shuttle bus service to Dubai Mall. With pool, spa, gym and numerous restaurants, there’s plenty of reason to just stay put and chill – and with temperatures typically in the high teens, it actually is chilled by UAE standards. Pay for five nights at the Al Jaddaf, including return flights from Dublin, from €1,876, and get one extra night for free, departing December 28th. Expedia.ie
Drop the ball in NYC
Times Square is lit up like a Christmas tree every night of the year but on New Year’s Eve, it goes into overdrive. Join the one million people who pack into it each year for a celebration that features star-studded musical performances, balloons, freebies, confetti and a pyrotechnic display so colourful you’ll be seeing it when you close your eyes for months to come. And, of course, you’ll be paying homage to the famous ball – made of Waterford Crystal no less. Sunway has three-night packages staying at the three star Wellington Hotel in midtown, about 1km from Times Square, on a room only basis, departing December 29th, from €1,769 pps, including flights but not transfers. Sunway.ie
Ski into 2016
What better way to work off all that Christmas pudding than to hit the slopes for New Year. Bring the kids and stay self-catering at the three-star Le Hameau du Mottaret apartments at Mottaret in the Meribel Valley.
What Kids Did On the Western Frontier
Ever wonder how children had fun when the wagon train stopped for the night? Or what the big event was for pioneer families on Friday nights?
What do you like to do on the weekend? Rent a movie? Play video games? Or do you run down to the community center with the rest of the neighborhood to take part in a fast-paced spelling bee?
Spelling? For fun? If you were growing up on America's Great Plains in the 1800s, you'd consider a spelling bee a boot-stompin' good time.
Children and adults "would come from all over to see a spelling bee," says Priscilla Clement, a professor at Pennsylvania State University.
Imagine what it was like growing up 100 years ago in places like Kansas, Wyoming, or Wisconsin before there were big cities, paved roads, or McDonald's.
Perhaps you've gone on a camping trip or eaten dinner by candlelight when the power went out on a stormy evening. Maybe you've read books about frontier life like Laura Ingalls Wilder's famous "Little House" series. (The pictures on these pages are from those books. They were drawn by Garth Williams, who also illustrated "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little.")
Historian and author Harriet Sigerman says the account of pioneer life in the "Little House" books is pretty authentic though somewhat romanticized. "She creates a sense of community that is authentic," Dr. Sigerman says.
Settling on the frontier was exciting for children, but it was also hard work. "Work really shaped their lives," Sigerman says. "Even young girls were accustomed to roping cattle and doing farm work."
Moving west wasn't like stopping at the nearest real estate office or keeping an eye out for "for sale" signs. Families were settling in undeveloped areas where they had to build their own houses and grow their own food.
To understand how children lived, it's important to understand a little history.
People pushed westward in search of free land and new opportunities. Some were immigrants from Europe trying to escape poverty and religious persecution. Others sought riches or adventure.
By the 1840s, settlers had reached California. But it wasn't until the 1860s that the Great Plains - the grasslands between the Missouri River and the Rockies - were safe for settlement.
The Homestead Act of 1862 offered a quarter section (160 acres) of land to anyone who agreed to improve it over a five-year period. Thousands of families piled their possessions in wagons, hitched up horses or oxen, said "giddyap!" and jolted their way west.
Parents depended on their children to help out. A quarter section of land is the size of 120 football fields! "Kids were expected to work," Dr. Clement says. "They didn't do the same things adults did, but they could weed, garden, tend cows, ride horses."
CHILDREN'S days would begin at first light, Clement says. "They would go to the well, lay a fire, bring in wood, and boil water. The children would then milk the cows and collect eggs." (Quite a difference from being asked to tidy your room, take out the garbage, and turn down the TV!)
Without electricity or running water, everyday chores took longer. Doing the laundry might take an entire day. And you'd never hear your parents demand that you take a bath every night!
"Bathing didn't happen very often," Sigerman says. "Putting together a bath was a big undertaking." Parents did strive to "maintain a sense of decorum," though.
Children learned to cook, bake, make soap and candles, sew and spin. "Young children did household chores together and then around the age of 9 or 10 they started to work in the field - boys and girls."
For girls, working alongside boys was a big change. In more settled parts of the country, girls were expected to do only household chores. "Girls had freer lives in the West," Clement says.
But just because TVs and Monopoly didn't exist, it doesn't mean pioneer children didn't have fun. Instead of playing Frogger, they might have gone outside and actually caught frogs. And instead of inviting the neighbors over for a barbecue, your parents might have them over to, well, make cheese.
"Cheesemaking became a community activity because it was very difficult," Sigerman says. "Families would share chores and turn them into a holiday."
Toys were expensive and not widely available, Clement says. So when children weren't working or going to school, they would use their imaginations - just the way you do - and make up games.
Perhaps you've built "forts" in the living room using blankets and chairs. Pioneer kids did that, too. And have you ever played "car" with a wheelbarrow? So did your great-great-great grandparents. Only when they gave each other rides, they called it "buggy."
It wasn't long, though, before settlements became towns and the railroad stretched across the country, giving people easier access to tools - and toys. Peddlers would ride through, or families used mail-order catalogs. "Though we're not talking FAO Schwarz," Sigerman says.
Life on the frontier was an adventure for children. They were a crucial part of America's westward movement. "Children were making history," Sigerman says.
And they still had time to have fun.
The 'Little House' books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (HarperCollins, first published in the 1930s and '40s). The author's family lived in Wisconsin and homesteaded on the Great Plains in the late 1800s. The popular series begins with 'Little House in the Big Woods,' and recounts in readable detail the everyday events, the hardships, and especially the joys.
'The World of Little House,' by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson (HarperCollins, 1996). It has maps, book summaries, floor plans, activities, and recipes adapted from each of the 'Little House' books.
'Caddie Woodlawn,' by Carol Ryrie Brink (various editions, first published in 1935). The Newbery Award-winning book is based on the childhood tales of the author's grandmother. The story follows rambunctious Caddie on her adventures on the Wisconsin frontier (the 'Big Woods' of 'Little House' fame).
'O Pioneers,' by Willa Cather (various editions, first published in 1913). The first of Cather's renowned prairie novels introduces Alexandra Bergson, the daughter of Swedish immigrants. After her father's death, Alexandra takes over the family farm in Nebraska.
'A Lantern in Her Hand,' by Bess Streeter Aldrich (Puffin, 1997). Abbie Deal gives up the life of a society lady, marries a farmer, and moves to the Nebraska prairie.
'Letters of a Woman Homesteader,' by Elinore Pruitt Stewart (Houghton Mifflin, 1914). This book for older readers compiles the letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart. A widow with a young daughter, Mrs. Stewart traveled to Wyoming in 1909 to claim free land.
In 'Little House in the Big Woods,' a late-season snow is the occasion for a party and maple-syrup candy. You'll need clean, fresh snow, a candy thermometer, and a grown-up's help.
Put four cups of pure maple syrup in a saucepan, and set it on moderate heat. Stir occasionally. Use a candy thermometer to determine when the syrup reaches 235 to 240 degrees F.
Ladle the syrup over bowls of fresh snow. Let the candy cool a bit, and enjoy! (A no-heating variation on the maple-syrup-and-snow theme is 'Snow Ice Cream' in 'The Joy of Cooking.')
Pioneer kids didn't have many toys. In fact, children in general didn't have many toys until the late 1800s, according to historians. But pioneer kids might have played with a toy Noah's Ark. It was a popular toy then. So were wooden pull toys. Girls may have learned how to sew while making homemade dolls. There weren't many picture books, pencils, paper, paints, or crayons, either. When they weren't helping their parents, children mostly made up games or played together.
This was a popular game, says historian Priscilla Clement. You need two teams, a ball, and some kind of barrier, like a log or a table.
Teams stand on either side of the barrier. The team with the ball is 'it.' They yell 'Anthony!' and throw the ball to a member of the opposing team. If the child doesn't catch the ball, then that team is 'it.' If he or she catches the ball, the teams have to change sides fast! While the teams are running to change sides, the one who caught the ball tries to hit an opponent with the ball. If he or she succeeds, the child who was hit changes teams. The goal is to eliminate the other team.
Laura and Mary Ingalls played this one. You need a sewing thimble and at least two people. One hides the thimble while other players close their eyes and count to 10. Then everyone searches for the thimble as the 'hider' counts to 50. Whoever finds the thimble hides it next. If no one finds it, the same person gets to hide the thimble again.
McDonald's Confronts its Junk Food Image
At a dinner McDonald’s hosted for reporters and bloggers, waiters served cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs using ingredients from the chain’s menu.
A Kung Pao chicken appetizer was made with Chicken McNuggets doused in sweet and sour sauce and garnished with parsley. Slow-cooked beef was served with gnocchi fashioned out of McDonald’s french fries and a fruit sauce from its smoothie mix. For dessert, its biscuit mix was used to make a pumpkin spice “biznut,” a biscuit-doughnut hybrid.
The event, held in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, was billed “A transforming dining experience of ‘fast food’ to ‘good food served fast.'” Attendees tweeted out photos and the night was written up on various websites.
The evening is part of a campaign by McDonald’s to shake its reputation for serving cheap, unhealthy food. At a time when Americans are playing closer attention to what they eat, the company is trying to sway public opinion by first reaching out to the reporters, bloggers and other so-called “influencers” who write and speak about McDonald’s.
It’s just one way McDonald’s is trying to change its image. In the past 18 months, the chain has introduced the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches and rolled out chicken wraps as its first menu item with cucumbers. Last fall, it announced plans to give people the choice of a salad instead of fries in combo meals. And in coming months, mandarins will be offered in Happy Meals, with other fruits being explored as well.
McDonald’s declined to make an executive available for this story, but CEO Don Thompson said early this year: “We’ve got to make sure that the food is relevant and that the awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant that cooks and prepares fresh, high quality food is strong and pronounced.”
The company faces an uphill battle, especially if the past is any indication. The salads it introduced more than a decade ago account for just 2 to 3 percent of sales. And the chain last year discontinued its Fruit & Walnut salad and premium Angus burgers, which analysts said were priced too high for McDonald’s customers at around $5.
The problem is that some simply people don’t consider McDonald’s a place to get high quality food, in part because the prices are so low. And while McDonald’s has added salads and a yogurt parfait to its menu over the years, Americans are gravitating toward other attributes, like organic produce and meat raised without antibiotics.
“People just don’t think of McDonald’s as having that premium quality,” said Sara Senatore, a restaurant industry analyst with Bernstein Research.
In some ways, the image McDonald’s is battling is ironic, given its reputation for exacting standards with suppliers. Thompson has also noted the ingredients tend to be fresh because restaurants go through them so quickly.
“The produce and the products that we have at breakfast and across the menu are fresher than — no disrespect intended — what most of you have in your refrigerators,” he said at an analyst conference in May.
But even that reputation for supply chain rigor was recently tarnished when the chain’s longtime supplier was reported to have sold expired meat to its restaurants in China.
The low-cost burgers, ice cream cones and other food that made McDonald’s so popular since it was founded in 1955 have come to define it. And some people can’t get over the idea that low prices equal low quality.
“It’s the whole perception people get when you sell something cheaply,” said Richard Adams, who used to own McDonald’s restaurants in San Diego and now runs a consulting firm for franchisees.
Anne Johnson, for instance, said she eats at McDonald’s because she can get a burger, fries and drink for about $5. But Johnson, a New York resident, doesn’t think there are any healthy options there.
“Basically, it’s junk food,” she said.
Adding to its challenge, McDonald’s can’t seem to raise prices without driving people away. Pressured by rising costs for beef and other ingredients, the chain tried to move away from the Dollar Menu in 2012 with an “Extra Value Menu” where items were priced at around $2.
But customers are apparently righteous about the $1 price point, and the strategy was scrapped. Last year, McDonald’s changed its tactic a bit, hoping not to turn off customers. It tweaked the name of the “Dollar Menu” to the “Dollar Menu & More.”
McDonald’s low prices also are part of what keeps it from competing with places such as Chipotle, which is touting the removal of genetically modified ingredients from its menu, and Panera, which recently said it will eliminated all artificial ingredients by 2016. Such moves would be Herculean feats for McDonald’s, given its pricing model and the complexity of its menu.
Meanwhile, the company acknowledges there are problems with how people perceive its food. “A lot of our guests don’t believe our food is real,” said Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation at McDonald’s, in an interview last year.
Taking Control of The Narrative
The image of McDonald’s food is a growing concern for the company at a time when U.S. sales have been weak for two years. The last time McDonald’s managed to boost a monthly sales figure at home was in October, and the company warns its performance isn’t expected to improve anytime soon.
McDonald’s has said it has other problems, including slow and inaccurate service at its restaurants. But improving perceptions about its food is also a priority.
Following the dinner in New York last fall, the company hosted a similar event last month for reporters covering the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Beignets filled with grilled chicken and dusted with sugar were served alongside a packet of McDonald’s honey mustard sauce.
Other “chef events” in local markets are planned for coming months, according to Lisa McComb, a McDonald’s spokeswoman. She declined to provide details but said the events will be a spin on a recent contest between two friends to make a gourmet dish out of a Big Mac meal.
McComb said McDonald’s wasn’t associated with that particular contest, which was posted online.
The company continues to tweak the menu, too. The new Bacon Club burger McDonald’s is promoting comes on a brioche bun and looks more like something that might be found at a trendy burger joint. It costs $5 or $6, depending on where you live, making it the most expensive sandwich on the menu.
In Southern California, McDonald’s also is testing a “Build Your Own Burger” concept, with the patties being cooked to order more slowly on a separate grill.
Beyond the menu, the company is determined to take control of its narrative.
“We’re going to start really, really telling our story in a much more proactive manner,” said Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s said late last year.
He added that McDonald’s has gone too long in “letting other folks frame the story for us.”