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Friday, October 21, 2016
One day, out of the blue, Josette Duran's son Dylan started asking his mother to pack two lunches. She automatically assumed she wasn't sending him enough food to get through his school day. That wasn't it. Dylan had noticed that a boy at his school had only a fruit cup for lunch every day, which he ate by in a corner by himself.

It seems the boy's mother had lost her job recently and wasn't able to afford a complete lunch for her son. When Dylan told his mom the story, Josette Duran didn't hesitate to pack the extra lunch her son requested, including fruit, sandwiches, snacks, drinks and a little note that said, "Have a great lunch boys!" (The exclamation point was dotted with a little heart.)

One day, Ms. Duran was called down to the principal's office. There she met the student's mother, who had found a new job and wanted to thank Ms. Duran for feeding her son. She also offered to pay her back for all the food. Dylan's mom refused her offer. Then she took things one step further: the school volleyball team that she coaches donated $400 to the school cafeteria for other kids whose parents can't afford lunches.

In interviews with the press, Josette Duran says, "I don't think I did anything special." She's wrong. Because small acts of kindness lead to large acts of kindness. Because her little boy just asked for one extra lunch, now every kid at that small school in Albuquerque, New Mexico has a whole, healthy lunch to eat. Every day. And that's pretty darn special.

Your "Random Acts of Kindness" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 14, 2016
No time for sleep. No time for a shower. Barely enough time to grab a bite to eat for yourself before someone else needs to be fed. Sound familiar? Then you're probably a mom.

New moms have it really rough. Especially if they've already got a toddler at home. Even more so when the new baby won't let Mom a wink all night long and the toddler wakes up cranky in the morning. But some moments make everything worth it and keep you going even when you think you're about to drop. Like this one captured by new mom Esther Anderson:

Seems Esther had been having a rough night with her new daughter, Tessa, when the baby's sister, Ellia, woke up crying. So Mom grabbed her phone to document what was looking like a "long day" to document the grumpy morning for Dad. But in just one minute, little Ellia went from crying and cranky to cute and cuddly on camera.

Now the sisters are Internet sensations. They might even become famous when they grow up. Mom probably doesn't care about all that. As long as the sisters just love each other "so much".

Your "Moments for Moms" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 7, 2016
Daniel Radcliffe has made close to $100 million playing the wizard, Harry Potter, but his true magical skills might be off-screen. Seems the young actor has spent very little of that cash, preferring to save it instead.

In an interview with London's "Telegraph", he said he doesn't really do anything with his money, but having it gives him freedom.  Not only is he free from worry about earning money, he says, “It also gives me immense freedom career-wise.”

He's used his freedom to hold out for meaty roles such as the role of a corpse who proves to be quite useful in Swiss Army Man and playing beat poet Allen Ginsburg in Kill Your Darlings. Both movies were well-received by audiences and critics, even if they didn't quite hit the box office gross of the Potter movies.

As long as he keeps his fortune intact, Radcliffe can pick and choose his roles. “For all the people who’ve followed my career, I want to give them something to be interested in, rather than just make loads of money on crap films for the rest of my life,” he says. I'd say he has nothing to worry about. If recent history is any indication, Radcliffe will be making movie magic for a long, long time. As long as he keeps saving.

Your "Save Your Magic" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 30, 2016
Five or six years ago, I discovered that October isn't just the spookiest month of the year, it's one of the yummiest, too! Not just for the bags of Halloween candy but because it's also National Pizza Month and National Popcorn Popping Month!

I only heard of the month-long national "holidays" when the kids very carefully explained why they should be able to have pizza and popcorn for dinner every night in October. That's taking it a little far, but I am willing to meet them halfway...and get a family dinner night every week in October in the bargain.

For the last five or six years, we get together one day a week in October to celebrate our favorite junk foods. The whole family settles down in the living room to watch a movie while we vie for the cheesiest slices of pizza and eat handfuls of freshly popped popcorn. While it can be hard to get everyone together at meal time, no one ever misses out on October family dinner nights. That alone is worth celebrating.

Your "Family Matters" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 23, 2016
What could be cuter than a newborn piglet? TWO newborn piglets! Last week, a Visayan warty pig named Fancy gave birth to two adorable striped piglets at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.

Though the Visayan warty pig is native to two of the Visayan Islands in the Philippines, director of animal programs at the Brevard Zoo says people often mistake them for domestic pigs or wild boars. “They’re actually members of a distinct species on the brink of extinction,” she says.

So these two little piglets are a very big deal. Along with their siblings born to Fancy in 2008, they're poised to help revitalize their species and become legends in their own time.

The Australasia section of the zoo is closed for renovations, so guests won't be able to get up close and personal with the piglets for a few months. But the zoo promises to keep their Facebook page updated with cute videos like these:

Your "Things That Make You Go, 'Awww'" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 16, 2016
Samson is one big city fat cat. Not the kind who rides around in limos and lights his cigars with burning hundred dollar bills — this fat cat is even fancier than that. And he's gigantic!

Sampson is well-known as the biggest cat in New York City. The Maine Coon weighs in at a whopping 28 pounds. Not only that, he's fully four feet long! The famous feline has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and he's one of the most pampered pets in the city. Maybe in the world.

Samson's human, Jonathan Zurbel, takes him for regular walks around NYC. In a stroller. And his personal groomer is paid $120 a week to care for the coddled cat. Don't take my word for it, they've even been featured on television:

Maine Coons are some of the biggest domesticated cats in the world, weighing between 8-18 pounds. Despite his considerable girth, the colossal cat is perfectly healthy. And he's quite happy, too. With a life like his, who wouldn't be?

Your "It's A Cat's Life" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 9, 2016
When I was a kid, I collected coins with my grandmother. I didn't exactly let my friends know about it, because I knew they'd think it was "nerdy". But it was something I could enjoy with my grandmother and she would never call me a nerd. We used to search out all kinds of different denominations from circulating currency back then. And later we got into specially minted collectible coins. Because of her, I still collect them. (I even have the entire set of state quarters, collected one-by-one.)

These days I'm too old to care whether anyone thinks I'm a nerd, so I proudly display my collection. My favorites are pop culture coins, especially ones that celebrate and honor my favorite actors, singers, and comedians. Every time I add a few new pieces, I reconnect with those very early memories of sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table and sorting coins on her floral vinyl tablecloth.

And that's just priceless.

Your "Coin Nerd" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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