The Lighter Side

3 Ideas For A Perfect Valentine's Day

January 30, 2015

My husband and I are like most people these days: super busy. With all the competition for our time and energy, romance sometimes has to take a backseat. But we always make time for each other on Valentine's Day.

You don't have to spend a lot of time planning an evening or spend a fortune on flowers and chocolates to create a romantic day. Here are three simple ways to show your valentine how much you love them:

  • Make a special meal. It doesn't have to be fancy or time-consuming. Just make at least one of your valentine's favorite dishes (mine's chocolate) and serve by candlelight.
  • Cut and paste your special moments. Make an electronic "collage of love" from last year's photos and watch it together. By candlelight, of course.
  • Send the kids away. It's hard to be affectionate while the kids are making retching sounds in the background, so farm them out to friends or grandparents so you can kiss and hug in peace. And don't forget the candlelight.

Valentine's Day is the time to reconnect and remember why you fell in love. You can spend thousands or you can spend pennies -- the important thing is spending the time you have with the one you love.

Your "Light The Candles" Gift Guru,

What Do Coffee and Sunscreen Have in Common?

January 23, 2015

Love your coffee? Need your coffee? Both? Well, now you can embrace your obsessive love affair with the beany drink -- it might protect you from developing skin cancer.

A new study surveyed about half a million American coffee drinkers over ten years. Those who drank coffee had a decreased risk of getting melanoma skin cancer. And those who drank four or more cups a day reduced their risk by 20%! But don't reach for that decaf -- it has no effect on skin cancer at all.

Doctors warn that increased caffeine might not be a good idea for people who have high blood pressure. But if your blood pressure's in good shape and you like to spend time in the sun, one or four cups of coffee might be the best thing for you. As if I need another reason to love my morning cuppa joe!

Your "Cream & Sugar, Please" Gift Guru,

Their Second Walk Down The Aisle Might Be A First

January 16, 2015

Do you believe in love at first sight? If not, this story I picked up from Good News Network might change your mind. And even if it doesn't, you'll have to admit these newlyweds have one of the best "meet-cute" stories ever told.

In 1995, when they were just three years old, Briggs Fussy and Brittney Husbyn took their first walk down the aisle together as flower girl and ring bearer at Fussy's godmother's wedding. "I knew I was going to marry her," Fussy said in an interview -- but not at their first wedding. In fact, the two didn't see each other again until 2007 when they ended up in a college classroom together. One day, Brittney turned around and told Briggs, "I think I have a picture of you on my wall at home." She did. And he had one, too. The rest, as they say, is history.

The couple admits they're enjoying all the attention they've been getting for their super sweet love story and they say they'll print out all the articles to show to their kids someday. "Everybody loves it — especially my godmother," who Fussy says, "takes all the credit." The couple revealed that there won't be a similar happy ending for their own ring bearer and flower girl because, well, they're related.

Your "Cute Couple!" Gift Guru,

Baby Bao Bao's Blizzard Roll

January 09, 2015

Is it cold enough for you in the new year? Ever since the ball dropped it's been nothing but blizzards and black outs across the country. The weather might seem beastly to us, but it's a blast for the National Zoo's baby panda, Bao Bao, who made good use of the cold snap this week.

This video of Bao Bao rolling down a snowy hill and playing with her mother in the frigid Washington DC winter gave the nation a case of the warm fuzzies when it went viral on social media and even made the national television news.

Some journalists even say that the baby panda's first snow storm makes all that cold worth it and maybe it's true. Seems people just can't resist the warming feeling they get watching a roly-poly baby bear play in the snow. I know I couldn't. The YouTube video has over two million views and I think at least a hundred of them are mine!

Your "Let It Snow!" Gift Guru,

Happiest New Year

January 02, 2015

Many people experience a post-season let-down after the holidays are over. Family and friends have returned home, decorations are packed away for another year and the house is missing the commotion and glow we've become accustomed to since Thanksgiving. But there's no reason to let the January blues get you down. Instead, put together a list of small celebrations to look forward to.

Shopping is a great way to lift your spirits. Walk the malls and surf the web to look for January close-out sales. You can save a lot of dough in January, which always makes me happy! You can also take a vacation without even going anywhere. Camp out at home with a "stay-cation" filled with fun activities like movie marathons and games. Finally, music always lifts the spirits. "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby Ferrin and Pharell Williams' "Happy" are great songs to start with -- and, most importantly, don't forget to cut loose and dance!

By the time February rolls around, you'll find yourself already looking forward to Valentine's Day, Easter and Fourth of July. And before you know it, it will be time to deck the halls again!

Your "Be Happy, Clap Along" Gift Guru,

I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing

December 26, 2014

I know what my new Year's resolution will be next year: lose the weight I gained over Christmas. I think it will be easier to keep than most resolutions because I think I'm still full from too many holiday goodies! So I believe my first step -- eating less -- will be pretty easy. But exercise is important, too. Since I'm not much for sweating it out at the gym, jogging or going to exercise classes, so I found some other ways to burn up those holiday calories.

If you put on some extra ounces, too, you can work them off in a few weeks with simple things like choosing a parking spot far away from building entrances so you'll have to walk (bring your tennis shoes!). Plus, you can take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators, which burns lots of calories. And if you're super adventurous, you could try some of these funny-looking office chair exercises. (But you might want to close your door door so as not to alarm your coworkers.)

However you fared at the holiday feasts, I hope you had a great holiday and you're looking forward to a new year. Even if those new pounds do insist on following you around, it will only be for a few months!

Your "Lighter New Year" Gift Guru,

Merry Christmas!

December 19, 2014

Ready for Christmas? I can hardly believe it, but we are. The decorating is done, the baking is finished, the gifts are under the tree and the guest rooms are waiting for family and friends.

If you're still looking for that special something, there's still a little time to find a gift to delight, entertain and amuse. Just order soon and ship quick to make sure the perfect gift will be under their tree by Christmas morning.

Wishing you you and your families a warm, safe and very happy holiday from all of us here at The Lighter Side.

Your "All Seasons, All Reasons" Gift Guru,

January Statues

December 12, 2014

I love that the Golden Globe nominations come out before Christmas. I also love that the awards show doesn't air until after the new year. First, binge-watching old episodes featuring my favorite nominees is a great way to relax when I'm holiday-harried and second, it gives me something to look forward to when the house takes on its annual, eerie post-holiday quiet.

My hands-down favorite for best motion picture is "The Theory of Everything," the beautifully told, heart-rending story of the smartest man in the world, Stephen Hawking. And this year, I'm rooting for Claire Danes, who absolutely deserves to take home the best actress statue for her sublime work in "Homeland." I'm also hoping that "Downton Abbey" outshines the already much-awarded HBO dramatic series, "Game of Thrones" and that "The Lego Movie" will overcome the favorite, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" in the animated film category.

So when you need to take a little holiday from the holidays, check out all the nominees and pick your favorites. Then rent the nominated films you haven't seen yet and see if you change your mind. If that doesn't give you enough of a break, you can always watch an episode (or two, or five) of your favorite television show while you wait to see if your picks take home the top honors next year.

Your "Happy Binge-Watching Holidays" Gift Guru,

How Ugly is Your Christmas Sweater?

December 05, 2014

December 12th is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, a holiday born out of decade upon decade of garish gifts. Remember the sweater from Grandma that made everyone groan when you opened it? Awesome. Or the Rudolph sweater with the light up nose that your dad proudly picked out all by himself? Perfect.

According to the official web site, the holiday is about "proudly sporting your favorite ugly Christmas sweater for the entire day...regardless of circumstances. Wear it to school, to work, to a funeral, to your sister's wedding..." Meaning if you participate, you have to go all the way and wear that ugly thing wherever you go.

So dig out those gaudy garments and start an ugly sweater competition at work, at home, at your favorite bar or wherever the ugliest of sweaters are welcome. And if you happen to win a cash prize, let it ride -- on a new ugly sweater for next year!

Your "Ugly is in the Eye of the Beholder" Gift Guru,

Ready for Santa?

November 28, 2014

Today is Black Friday, but I'm not going to the mall. I can save just as much money online without having to deal with traffic and navigate crowded stores. I'll miss the exercise of a marathon shopping outing, but I can work off those Thanksgiving calories at home by getting ready for Santa's visit.

Going up and down the attic stairs to fetch boxes of decorations is a good workout in itself. So is putting up the tree, making sure it's level, stringing lights and hanging ornaments. Climbing, bending, reaching and stretching are all good ways to work your muscles.

And when it's all finished and you're ready for Santa, you will have burned enough calories to justify a special treat: test out the cookies you plan to leave for him on Christmas Eve. I mean, someone has to make sure Santa's goodies are good enough, right?

Your "Waiting for St. Nick" Gift Guru,