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Friday, May 26, 2017
I can't believe I got sunburned. I always carry my sunscreen and my trusty (very) old floppy sunhat with me. Well, I guess I have to say "almost always" now.

When I set out for an art festival last weekend, I managed to leave every one of my sunburn-beating barriers behind. I even forgot my rain umbrella, which I'm not afraid to use under the blinding, burning sun. I don't care if I embarrass my dear family, some of whom insist on walking a few paces behind or ahead of me.

"I might look crazy, but I don't look like a lobster," I tell them.

Until now. I'm burned to a crispy, blotchy, soon-to-be-peeling shell of my former sensible self. My poor nose got the worst of it. You can see that thing coming from 100 long paces. It's a burning hot blistery mess that I can feel not just when I wash my face or go back into the sun, but every single second of the day.

Even my daughter agrees that this nose is a lot more embarrassing than using an umbrella when there's no rain. After casting her eyes upon my mangled muzzle, she even bought a floppy sunhat of her own. I guess that's the silver lining: parenting isn't always about setting a good example. Being an object lesson can be just as effective.

Your "More Aloe!" Gift Guru,
Linda

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, May 19, 2017
Since the first Despicable Me movie came out in 2010, Gru and his minions have been part of our family. We've seen all the movies multiple times. We see them first in the theater, but we still can't resist buying them afterwards. That way we can watch over and over again - at our convenience and in the comfort of our own home.

On June 30th, Despicable Me 3 will open in theaters all over the country. You can bet we'll be at one of them for the premiere. So far, every film in the Despicable series has been more hilarious than the one that came before, which ups the ante with every release. We have high hopes for the new one, in which Gru meets his long lost evil twin brother, Dru (both played by Steve Carell.) You can watch the trailer here.

With a mix of humor for kids and grown-ups (and those in between), the Despicable movies are perfect for family night. Even if family night means bringing along more than a handful of your "tweenage" daughter's friends.

So mark your calendar and get ready for the latest laugh-out-loud adventures of Gru and his minions.

Your "Gru & Dru at a Theater Near You" Gift Guru
Linda

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, May 12, 2017
I love my morning coffee. And my mid-morning coffee. And my late afternoon latte. I've told you about the health benefits of coffee. And how it might act as a natural sunscreen. Now there's one more reason to love your morning cuppa joe: one day it might fuel more than just you.

Researchers into biofuel are discovering that coffee grounds might be the best bet for extracting the oils needed to make biodiesel. The current feedstocks used to extract oils for biodiesel fuels have created a controversy. While the biofuels help reduce dependence on fossil fuels, growing the feed places a high usage demand on land and water.

It turns out that used coffee grounds might offer a good low-cost alternative. Most of us just throw away our old grounds, In fact, over nine million tons of the stuff ends up in landfills every year. All those wasted grounds could be turned into 720,000 tons of biodiesel - without putting undue burden on land and water. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Your "Saving the Planet One Cup at a Time" Gift Guru,
Linda

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, May 5, 2017
Remember thinking there was a monster in the closet when you were a kid? Or worse, a monster under the bed just waiting for you to close your eyes? It's a common worry among young children, but have no fear because the sure-fire cure is here.

When a six-year-old girl in North Dakota said she couldn't sleep because of the monsters in her room, a wise pharmacist (who must be a parent himself) prescribed an antidote - Monster Spray. 


Pharmacist Jeff Dodds of Barrett Pharmacy in Watford City gave the girl a prescription with these instructions: “Spray around the room at night before bed, repeat if necessary.” The prescription also came with a refill.
 Someone took a photo of the bottle and shared it with local media. It went viral in an Internet second. Facebook loved it. Twitter retweeted it. Instagram shared it. They applauded the pharmacist for his sense of humor, his compassion for a scared little girl, and his dedication to his profession - which indeed must be his true calling in life.

For best results, combine this pharmacist's perfect placebo with a cuddly companion and watch your fearful child fall peacefully asleep.


Your "No Monsters Allowed!" Gift Guru,
Linda
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, April 28, 2017
Who doesn't love a good bath? Everyone knows that it's a great way to relax - especially if you light the candles and pour a nice glass of wine to go with it. A nice long bath lowers the stress hormone cortisol (a mighty culprit in belly fat gain) and boosts dopamine levels in the brain.

Most people also know that it's better for your skin than a shower because you can add salts to help open the pores and oils to make your skin silky smooth, which is very hard to do in the shower. (Anyone who's tried an after-shower lotion knows what a slippery proposition that can be!)

But here are three health benefits of baths you probably didn't know about. A bath can:
  • Lower your blood sugar: A savvy doctor in the U.K. did a study that showed how a long hot bath can help reduce blood sugar levels. His study showed that having a bath can reduce glucose levels more than exercise. Which brings us to our next benefit, burning up excess calories. 
  • Burn calories: It's true, sitting in the bath can actually burn more calories than exercise. That's right. Now, I'm not suggesting you give up your daily fitness routine, but adding a bath can bump up your efforts to shed those unwanted pounds. 
  • Delay aging: A long bath lowers cortisone levels, which contribute to adult acne and premature aging. To get the full anti-aging benefits, apply moisturizers while skin is still slightly damp and warm. 
In case you're worried about hygiene, it's just not true that baths are "dirtier" than showers. Unless you've been working outside or sweating profusely, a bath will get you just as clean as a shower. 

If all of this isn't reason enough to go home, run a bath, pour a glass and soak for an hour, I don't know what is!

Your "Hooray for Baths" Gift Guru,
Linda

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
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,
Linda

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,
Linda

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
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