The Lighter Side
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Friday, August 11, 2017
Remember your neighborhood Bookmobile? Ours turned me into a full-fledged bookworm. I'd read anything they had on board from short stories to comic books to biographies. My daughter, whose birthday is just around the corner, inherited my bookish ways so I never have trouble finding just the right gift for her.

If there's anything a bookworm loves, it's a new lamp. Even if it's not a reading lamp, a little mood lighting goes a long way toward setting the stage for a long summer's night with a good book. Since my daughter is also a self-avowed tree-hugger, this Tree of Life Lamp is perfect.

Pillows run a close second. Especially when your favorite bookworm likes to find cozy out-of-the-way spots to read. It doesn't have to be a giant body pillow or one of those ergonomically correct reading cushions. A comfy pillow that supports the lower back will do. All the better if you can find one with a lovely sentiment to remind them of you as they read.

And for when they're not reading, how about something that reminds them of their favorite pastime? A jewelry box disguised as a book hides valuables and fits nicely on any shelf, nightstand, or dresser. It has compartments for rings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, and other little keepsakes. My daughter brought some some fallen leaves from William Faulkner's estate on a field trip last year. I have a feeling this will be the perfect place to store them.

I'm grateful for all the bookworms in my life. Not only do they share their latest "great reads" with me, it's easy to pick out their perfect gift. Even if all else fails, there's always a good book!

Your "Reading is Fun!" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 4, 2017
Whew! We're on the last leg. The Dog Days of Summer come to an end (officially if not literally) on August 15th. Or on August 11th, depending on who's doing the calculating. Either way, we still have at least one more week to go which calls for a celebration. Or two. Or seven. Or ten.

My favorite way to celebrate starts with shutting down the kitchen. From now until it's over there will be no cooking indoors. I'll order a pizza. Make a giant salad. Throw some dogs on the grill. Anything to avoid firing up that hot stove.

There are other ways to celebrate, too. Here are three of my favorites:
  1. Get yourself invited to a pool party. (Or throw one yourself!) There's nothing like floating around in the blue water with a cool beverage to beat the Dog Day heat.
  2. Take up residence in a hammock with a stack of good books. Swinging in a shady breeze is like nature's fan.
  3. Hit the beach. Even if you don't jump into the ocean, it can be ten degrees cooler (or more) near a large body of water. 
Of course, air conditioning can also get you through, but it's not as much fun as getting out there and enjoying the last leg - before we have to start gearing up for the cold.

Your "Playing it Cool" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, July 28, 2017
When I saw a headline about a cat petting a tiny frog, I thought, "Right. This is one of those 'click-bait' links that promises a cute, cuddly story but ends with the cat eating the frog." After all, that's what my cats would probably do.

But I clicked anyway. (Don't we all? That's why they call it 'bait'!) My inner cynic had to admit defeat when I saw this:

Rin-chan is the definition of the curious cat. After petting the frog the first time, the cat even stops to smell and lick his paw a bit - as if trying to suss out what exactly this thing is. The frog seems relatively unperturbed, even when the cat leans in for a closer sniff.

Now Rin-chan and his little green friend are bona-fide Internet stars. As a cat parent myself, I'd make sure all that newfound fame doesn't go to their heads. I wouldn't want superstar egos to spoil what looks to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Your "Cats & Frogs" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, July 21, 2017
Just when we're tired of dieting for swimsuit season, along comes the best holiday of the summer: today is National Junk Food Day! That means you can eat anything you want today and none of it has any calories. Just kidding. It means you don't have to make the healthy choice and you don't feel a shred of guilt about it. Not one iota.

That's how you eat right on Junk Food Day.

You don't have to overeat to enjoy the holiday. Just don't worry about what you eat. Treat yourself to a fast food burger or a giant sundae. Order that pizza for lunch and skip the salad. Take a box of donuts to work and share the festive spirit with everyone. Cupcakes, pies, chips, fries...nothing is off limits today!

I did a lot of digging and I can't find an origin for the unofficial holiday. Best guess? It was created by a woman. A hungry woman. A woman who hadn't eaten chocolate since Easter. Sounds plausible to me. I just wish she'd have taken credit for it. I'd like to send her a thank you card. And a box of candies!

Your "Let's Eat!" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, July 14, 2017
Remember taking family photos? Photos we took with actual cameras instead of phones? Pictures on actual film that you had to take in for developing? Then you'd come home with a fat envelope full of prints? Remember how you never knew if your photos had come out the way you wanted until you held them in your hand?

Now we view our photos on a screen. We delete them if we don't like the way we look. We plug our cameras or phones into our computers, transfer the photos, and, with the exception of those we share on social media, we forget all about them.

I was cleaning the back bedroom last weekend when I came across a box of old pictures. I found my wedding photos, tons of random snapshots of the kids and our pets, and lots of goofy pictures from family vacations, baseball outings, the kids in Halloween costumes...

I had always meant to hang them - I even had the frames - but I just never got around to it. Right there on the spot, I decided our photos had been hidden away for too long. With my handful of frames and some picture hangers, I went to work. I framed and put up all those pictures up and down the walls on either side of the staircase.

I didn't get that back bedroom clean, but I did create a family gallery that stretched from a worn out photo of my parents' wedding party to a picture of my own family on vacation. And the pictures I like best? The ones where we look goofy, or tired, or someone's eyes were closed. The photos that would have been deleted from our digital devices and our memories...they turned out to be my favorites.

Your "No Such Thing as a 'Bad' Picture" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, July 7, 2017
Pregnancy can be a burden for women. Sure there's the "glow" that everyone talks about but there's also the morning sickness, the bloating, the cravings, the back pain, and feeling like there's a bowling ball sitting on top of your bladder for half a year. Men aren't always spared the discomfort, either. Some get what's called "Couvade Syndrome". Whether it's psychosomatic, hormonal, or just plain sympathy, the symptoms are real and some are quite painful. Men can be afflicted with back pain, stomach upset, food cravings, end even breast swelling during their partner's pregnancy.

As if that's not enough for the poor expectant dad to endure, some cultures make sure that men feel the pain of pregnancy by deliberately forcing symptoms to emerge. But the Huichol Indians take it to a whole new level, making sure that men feel the pain of childbirth as well. In an elaborate ritual that takes place during labor, the father sits above his wife with ropes tied to his testicles. (Yes, you read that right!) These ropes are held by his wife. When the expectant mother has a contraction, she pulls on the rope...the rest is, well, self-explanatory.

American moms have less elaborate rituals of their own. Rituals for which American fathers, even if they suffer from Couvade Syndrome, should be grateful. After all, a 4AM run to the all-night market for a pint of chocolate-chocolate ice cream, a jar of pickles, and a back pillow is better than having a rope tied around the "family jewels"!

Your "That's Gotta Hurt!" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 30, 2017
Every year on the Monday following the switch to Daylight Savings Time, we celebrate National Napping Day. Well, I do anyway. It makes sense to nap after the Spring Forward adjustment so you can  make up for that lost hour of sleep. The largely unknown holiday was dreamed up by Boston University Professor William Anthony and his wife to illustrate the benefits of napping. The Anthonys have hard evidence to back up their claim that Naps Are Good - so good, in fact, that napping shouldn't be reserved for just one day a year.

After conducting exhaustive (pun intended) research, their team proved that a short sleep enhances both mood and performance and helps carry you through the rest of the day. Sleep-deprived people perform routine and repetitive tasks pretty well, but most of us need a few midday winks to keep our creativity and our critical thinking skills at morning levels.

Mid-afternoon naps have been part of human culture for thousands of years - even during the workday. But what if your boss isn't the type to let you sleep on the job? Show them this article from Entrepreneur Magazine saying leaders should embrace on-the-clock napping. The article points out that besides productivity gains, a twenty minute nap makes employees less irritable, which makes them easier to work with.

There are SO many reasons to grab a midday snooze. But the best one is the simplest: a nap just feels good.

Your "Let's Catch Some ZZZZZZs" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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