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Friday, November 17, 2017
67 years ago today, the 14th Dalai Lama became Tibet’s official head of state. He was 15 years old. Now he's one of the world's great leaders, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, among other humanitarian awards. At the "young old age" of 82, he travels the world talking about compassion, gratitude, harmony, and inner peace.

Not only that, he has a great laugh. It's an infectious giggle full of joy, compassion, and yes, serenity. Watch and just try not to crack a smile (or a full belly laugh!):

As the Dalai Lama himself has said: you don't have to be a Buddhist to embrace the idea of inner peace and you don't have to be a Christian to embrace the giving, compassionate spirit of the Christmas season. I couldn't agree more.

So if the holiday crush starts to, well, crush you, maybe it's time to light some incense, turn down the bright lights, and meditate (or just replay the video). It's my sure-fire Rx for a serene season.

Your "Ohmmmmmm" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 10, 2017
With Halloween behind us, it's time to start thinking about the next holiday - Thanksgiving! It's my favorite because it's all about food and family. And showing gratitude for those we love and all we have.

"Turkey Day" is an American holiday to us, but it's really one of many harvest festivals around the world. West Africa, Barbados, and China celebrate the end of the work season, bringing families and communities together for a few days of feasting, dancing and - most importantly - being thankful.

A lot of cultures even give thanks for the enormous amount of work it takes to create a great feast. I've taken up this custom myself.

So what if the store is crowded? Or if it's dark and cold outside? Or if the traffic is getting on my very last nerve? If I remember why I'm doing it - to celebrate the abundance I share with my friends and family - it suddenly doesn't feel like work anymore.

So, on this "turkey day", let's all just pause in the midst of our holiday duties. Let's  take a moment to reflect on the reason for the harvest festival season. You'd be surprised at how being grateful - even for a short moment - really lightens the load.

Your "Got Gratitude?" Gift Guru
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 3, 2017
I don't know how much time I spend watching cat videos. I'm pretty sure I don't want to. Pretty sure I don't want my boss to know, either. (Of course, I suppose I could call it research for the blog.)

So...I just found a new tool for my 'research'.

It's a 24-hour online TV channel dedicated to cats and only cats. Here's the description from the website:

All cats, all the time. 
We've got kittens too. 

Meow-mazing indeed! And it's purrrr-fectly priced at: FREE! That's right. Now we can watch cat videos all day and all night and it won't cost a nickel. I feel like Christmas came early this year!

There are cartoon cats. Just plain cute cats. Documentaries about cats. There are even regular shows like "Scaredy Cats", "Famous Felines" (like Grumpy Cat), "Cats Gone Viral" and (of course) "Putting Up with Humans".

The streaming cats are brought to you by PlutoTV, a network that obviously understands what the viewing public craves: more cats!

My friends, I have seen the future of television and it is cat-tivating!

Your "Awwwwwwmazed" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 27, 2017
The house is full of Halloween candy right now. And what we give away to trick-or-treaters will be replaced by our own kids' Halloween hauls. That's why I think of Halloween - not Thanksgiving - as the beginning of the Holiday Weight Gain season.

Did you know that most people don't pack on lots of extra pounds during the holiday season? Studies have shown that Americans gain about one pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just one pound.

But here's the problem: we never take off that pound. As in, not ever.

Gaining a pound-a-year doesn't seem like a lot. But "suddenly" we find ourselves ten pounds heavier. A lot of people try crash dieting in hopes of losing the ten pounds that took ten years to gain within just a few weeks. Studies have proven and (speaking from experience) I can tell you that crash diets don't work. Not in the long run.

That's why our weight creeps up and up and up as we get older. So what are we supposed to do with the holidays right around the corner? Try not to put on that holiday pound in the first place! A few tips to help out:
  • Avoid the drive-thru: Fast food is packed with bad fats and empty calories, but it's hard to eat right when you're busy-busy-busy with the holidays. So stock your purse or car with healthy snacks (dried fruit works great for me). If it comes down to fast food or a bad case of the Hangries (hungry + angry), grab a kids' meal instead of the SuperSize. It will hold off the Hangries until you can find something healthy to eat.
  • It really IS all about carbs: Carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels, which releases insulin into the bloodstream. All that extra sugar converts into body fat. Stick to (a little) meat and (a lot of) vegetables if you can.  
  • BYO. Make sure there's a healthy low carb dish in the mix by bringing your own to holiday parties. The same goes for drinks. Bring a bottle (or two) of red wine to share. It has fewer calories and a lower glycemic profile than holiday fruit punch or egg nog.
Finally, don't worry so much that it takes all of the fun out of the holidays. We can still eat well and have a few treats. As long as we remember one thing: it's easier to keep off the dreaded "holiday pound" than it is to lose it later.

Your "Not One Pound!" Gift Guru
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 20, 2017
If you're off your noodle for nuts, Sunday is your special day: it's National Nut Day!

The word "nut" can mean a lot of things. Like when someone is "nuts" for a thing or activity like...maybe finding the perfect gifts. "Making your nut" means putting together enough money to pay the rent, keep the lights on, etc. Your head can also be called a nut - that's where the phrase "she's off her nut" came from.

But National Nut Day isn't for celebrating your noggin, paying the bills, or giving tribute to the eccentric, wacky, or silly people in your life.

This holiday celebrates the humble, edible, deliciously nutritious nut.

In honor of the humble nuts we love to crack, here are five pieces of nutty trivia to enlighten and enliven your noggin:
  • Arachibutyrophobia is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. 
  • Pistachios are really a fruit, (but once we get cracking, who really cares?) 
  • Peanuts are not nuts. They're legumes - close cousins to beans and peas. 
  • It takes 300 PSI of pressure to crack open a macadamia nut (totally worth it!) 
  • Cashews are always sold without their shells because the nut is closely related to poison ivy and sumac - the shell contains an oil that's toxic to humans.
There you go: all about nuts in a nutshell. Now go forth and share your nutty knowledge while you celebrate with your favorite nuts - both foods and people!

Your "Wild for Walnuts" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 13, 2017
"Breaking News: The Three Bears broke into a pizza parlor in Colorado.
Goldilocks was not at work at the time

That's the email I got from a friend along with this Facebook video from Antonio's Real New York Pizza in Estes Park, Colorado. Of course, it wasn't THE three bears. It was just a mom and her two cubs looking to pack on the pounds before hibernating for the winter.

The family of three tore their way through the restaurant's drive through window looking for something just right to eat. Did you know that bears can open refrigerators and rifle through cabinets? Me either! But they can and they did...

The three bears didn't find any porridge, but they found lots of good stuff to eat. First they ate through 40 pounds of dough. And then they found the salami, which the cubs ate with gusto while Mom continued to search for ingredients to add to their "pizza".

Antonio DeSousa posted the surveillance video and pleaded with the authorities to show leniency to the wayward bear family even though the nighttime raid cost him about $1,000. "If bears break into our stores, please don’t shoot them," he wrote. (Awwww. If there's anything we here at The Lighter Side adore more than animals, it's animal lovers.)

If I ever get out to their "neck of the woods, I'm definitely going to pop in to Antonio's. The Three Bears thought it was 'just right' raw, so Antonio's pizza must be awesome when it's cooked!

Your "Bears Love Pizza, Too!" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 6, 2017
Halloween isn't for kids anymore. Well, not just for kids, anyway.

Sure you have to do the trick-or-treat thing and the kiddie parties and costumes, but once all that's out of the way, it's time for the Big Kids to play!

The costumes get funnier, scarier (and sexier) every year. A lot of my friends spend months - or even the whole year! - planning their costumes. These are two of my favorite couples' costumes this year...

Making a Halloween Horror to remember takes more than fun costumes - you need lots of scary props and effects, too. Anything that lights up, swings, talks, or moves suddenly will do the trick. After all, what's Halloween without at least one scream?!

And before the party starts, don't forget to break out all your favorite kitchen and table accessories for that perfect petrifying touch.

You don't have to work yourself into the grave to make a spook-tacular Halloween for Big Kids. The hardest part might be getting the kids to bed first!

Your "Stay Spooky" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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