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Friday, April 21, 2017
Tomorrow is Earth Day. Because of my ultra-sensitive daughter, it's become an official holiday around our house. Every year we participate in local events like beach clean-ups or tree plantings (or both). And then we make a "pledge to the planet" for the coming year.

The pledge doesn't have to be huge like saving the whales or chaining yourself to an ancient tree. The small differences make the biggest impact - like carrying a travel cup instead of buying beverages in bottles or cups that end up in our landfills. There are lots of ways to make a difference that only require tiny changes in our day-to-day lives:
  • Swap your incandescent lightbulbs for energy efficient fluorescents.
  • Do a home energy audit to identify energy "leaks" and plug them up.
  • Plant a small garden -even a couple of pots of herbs will do.
  • Join a clean-up event. Most only require a couple of hours of time. And you'll meet lots of great people with their own ideas.
  • Go solar in inexpensive ways like replacing outdoor lighting.
That's just off the top of my head. Okay, my daughter's head. I have to give her some credit. After all, if it weren't for her, Earth Day wouldn't be a bona-fide holiday at our house!

Your "Going Green" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, April 14, 2017
Housework, if you do it right, will kill you. 
~Erma Bombeck

Every year we go through our spring cleaning ritual. And every year I wonder if it's worth it. Sure it's nice to shake everything out and get the dust bunnies (and their babies) out from under the furniture, but is it worth the fret and worry and the sheer exhaustion?

I was reading an old Erma Bombeck book the other day and I realized: she was right about so many things. But the thing she was most right about was the futility of housework. Here's another of her famous cleaning quotes:
"My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?"
I don't know if I'm just getting older or lazier (or some combination of the two), but I'm starting to see the wisdom in Erma's words. Maybe this year I'll just let those bunnies breed. Or, better yet, I'll get the kids to do all the work. I think Erma would approve.

Your "Bye-Bye Housework!" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, April 7, 2017
Have you been watching April the Giraffe? If not, you're in the minority. She's been in labor...or close to labor...or approaching labor (it's hard to tell!) at Animal Adventure Park for a while.

Now she even has her own LiveStream feed where you can watch and wait like a nervous papa giraffe - all in real time. The Internet's hashtagging crowd has made April's upcoming delivery a trendworthy topic. According to YouTube stats, about a quarter million people are watching April as I write this.

And maybe with good reason. A giraffe's labor might be long, but according to sources from other facilities, the actual birth will be a "don't-blink-you'll-miss-it" affair. Since a giraffe's pregnancy lasts 15 months (yikes!), I'd say that's a good thing for April.

Like most people, I'm entranced by the live feed, but chances are, I'll miss the big event. After all, some moms have to work for a living!

Your "Labor of Love" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 31, 2017
Gyms and exercise classes have two super busy times of year: New Year's and the beginning of Spring. Anyone who's ever worked at one will tell you that the busy season dies off fast. Why? Because most people can't keep up with the lofty goals they set for themselves.

That's the bad news.

The good news is: you don't have to exercise six or seven days a week to be healthier, look better, and feel better. In fact, you only need about 150 minutes of low intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week to get the same benefits as someone who runs themselves absolutely ragged on the treadmill.

With just two and a half hours of relatively easy exercise per week, you can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, which reduces your stroke and heart attack risk. You can treat depression, anxiety, and sleep dysfunction. You can lower your blood sugar and risk for type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also reduce your risk for inflammatory bowel disease. But the best news? In a study of nearly 1.5 million people, regular exercise was shown to reduce the risk of 13 types of cancer - 13!

Two and a half hours seems like a very small price to pay for all these benefits, doesn't it? So the next time you start your New Year's Resolution or Swimsuit Body exercise program, remember: you don't have to be a world class athlete to get world class results.

Your "Good News" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 24, 2017
Spring has sprung. The days are longer, flowers are in bloom everywhere you look, and the weather is starting to feel gentler and kinder. That could only mean one thing: t-shirt weather is almost here! I can't wait. There's nothing as comfy as a soft, old tee.

I wear out my t-shirts completely. I wear them until there's nothing left but a few threads. When they're new, I wear them out and about. As they age and get faded and tattered, I just wear them around the house while I'm laying around or doing chores. When they get so old and thin you can almost see through the cotton they lay at the bottom of my drawer waiting for their final assignment: becoming a rag.

Worn out, washed-a-million-times tees are great for cleaning windows and mirrors because they have given up all their lint, which means no nagging "fuzzies" left behind. I use them to wash and dry my car because they're soft and won't scratch the paint or trim (just remove any decorations first). They're perfect for painting - both for wearing and cleaning up.

You can also use them for everyday spills and messes. Just cut them into different sized pieces and stow them in the kitchen, bathroom, or garage - any place you'd reach for a paper towel. Since they're re-usable, they're a 'green' alternative to paper. Not only will you save money, you'll be doing your part to help the environment!

Your "Love Your Tees for Life" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 17, 2017
Looking for a feel-good tale? A real-life story that will put a smile on your face and warm your heart? Look no further than this unlikely pair of BFFs.

Photo Credit:
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Wamba is a 50-pound African tortoise who spends her leisurely days in a heated shelter near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Dove Mountain where her other BFF, caretaker Ron Brink, works.

When Brink went to Wamba's shelter a couple of weeks ago, he found the African tortoise had made a new friend: a baby bunny who presumably cozied up to Wamba to escape the bitter cold of the Arizona night.

It turned out to be a good thing that this bunny found Wamba - and not just because of the cold. "We found that the bunny had stuff wrapped around his neck, like grass and weeds," Brink said. "There were four layers of this plant matter wrapped around, constricting so tightly it was embedded in his skin."

Without a little cuddle and care from Wamba and help removing all that junk around his neck, the bunny probably would have perished. Instead, he now spends his days hanging around with his new friend, safe from the cold and those pesky grasses and weeds.

Brink and Wamba intend to care for the little guy until he's strong enough to be released into the wild. But I wouldn't be surprised if the bunny bounced right back to the warmth and comfort of his foster mom. I'll be keeping an eye on the baby bunny's progress and I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Your "Every Bunny Needs A Friend" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 10, 2017
My family - both sides - came to the United States from Ireland. It's never been clear whether they were running from the Great Potato Famine or something else. Or if they weren't running from something at all but running to a New World. A world that held great promise for those bold enough to set sail for distant and unknown shores.

What is known is this: we remain to this day stolidly Irish. If there's an Irish holiday to be celebrated, we have a party. Or go to church. It all depends on the tenor of the holiday.

Along with traditional Easter and Christmas holidays, we celebrate both Easter Monday and St. Stephen's Day (December 26). And we celebrate St. Patrick's Day along with the rest of the world.

This year we'll be wearing the green (shamrocks, of course), cooking up some corned beef and cabbage, and downing our fair share of Guinness. But as true Irish folk do, we'll also be paying homage to good old St. Patrick who (the folktale tells us) banished all snakes from Ireland by chasing them into the ocean.

Whether the tale is true or a bunch of blarney, Ireland is snake-free to this day. And that alone is something to celebrate!

Your "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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