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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
Friday, September 2, 2016
Finally, the kids are back at school. Don't get me wrong...I love having my kids at home. I love summer. I love the camping, the fishing, and the beach going. But I also love a house that doesn't look like a hungry horde just ravaged the place.

Which is one of the reasons I love Back to School season. The "hordes" are in the classroom now instead of making a wreck of my house. Which means their teachers are the ones in charge of their boundless energy and curiosity.

That's why I always try to send a little something special to their teachers at the first of the year. Teachers don't get a lot of praise. They don't make a lot of money. But most will say they can't think of a more rewarding job.

I certainly can't think of a more important job than educating our children. So teachers deserve a little recognition. Even if it's just a small gift that makes them smile as the new school year begins.

Your "Thank a Teacher" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 26, 2016
12 years ago a dog-lover named Colleen Paige founded National Dog Day to help raise awareness — and adoptions — of shelter dogs. (She's also the founder of National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day and even National Cat Day.) Ms. Paige chose August 26th to celebrate man's best friend because when she was 10 years old she and her family adopted her first dog, Sheltie, on that date.

Since then, she's been in love with dogs and wants you to fall in love, too. Here are five ways to celebrate dogs on their special day:
  1. Take your dog somewhere they've never been before. Dogs love to explore. New sights and smells and new doggy friends are some of their favorite things. Take your dog to a new dog beach or park and let them have the run of the place. Not only will they love you for it, they'll be worn out afterwards. (And everyone knows that a tired dog is a good dog!)
  2. Give to a shelter. Even if you don't have a lot of spare cash lying around, you can still make a donation to your local shelter. They're always in need of blankets, towels, toys, cleaning supplies...the list goes on. Find out what they need, then clean out your closets! 
  3. Buy your dog a new collar or toy. Or both. Dogs like gifts just as much as people. So treat your dog to something fun on their special day. 
  4. Take lots of pictures. Take selfies with your dog. Or action shots. Or sleeping shots. Or any shot of your dog just being its cute and lovable self. Then enter your photos into the National Dog Day photo contest
  5. Adopt a shelter dog. Last but definitely not least, the best way to celebrate National Dog Day is to rescue one from a shelter. And let your new pup rescue you...from a life of doglessness!
Those are just a few ways to celebrate our canine companions. I'm sure you can come up with lots more. So let's pass the word and join in the fun of National Dog Day.

Your "For the Love of a Dog" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 19, 2016
As a self-appointed 'gift guru', a skill I acquired from my grandmother who had a keen mind for dates, I'm pretty good at keeping up with holidays. So imagine my surprise when one of my best friends presented me with a gift earlier this week in honor of National Friendship Week.

I was sure she was mistaken, but of course I couldn't point that out. It would have been rude. Besides, the gift she brought was a week's worth of my favorite chocolates. (Full disclosure: they didn't last the week!)

When I looked it up, I discovered she was right. At least according to some people. It seems there are about a dozen versions of Friendship Week across the globe and they all happen at different times. Which makes me feel a bit better as far as keeping track of the dates goes.

And since I still had a few days to pick out some fun and funny gifts for all my 'Besties', I didn't actually miss it — and neither did you! Whew!

Your "In Under the Wire" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 12, 2016
Have you been watching the Olympics from Rio? Although the games have been plagued by problems, including the Zika-carrying mosquito, reports of unsanitary water in the ocean and lagoons and now in the diving pool, and all those empty seats, the games have been just as exciting and competitive as ever.

Americans are doing well this year, so far bringing home medals in diving, fencing, archery, and gymnastics. But the swimmers took center stage this week. Katie Ledecky is a veritable machine, breaking her own world record and bringing home gold after gold. And Michael Phelps schooled long-time rival Chad le Clos, showing him that winning at trash talking doesn't earn you a medal. In fact, Phelps took home the gold in the 200m butterfly while the South African swimmer didn't even merit a spot on the podium.

Even through the controversies, which included dozens of athletes being banned for doping, the Olympic Games are still the best international competition in the world — no matter where they're held and no matter who wins. Though I must admit, as an American who can barely stay afloat on a pool noodle, it's fun to watch our swimmers pick up so much metal.

Your "Go For The Gold" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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