The Lighter Side

Celebrating the Princely Pig

February 27, 2015

Love bacon? Ham? Pork chops? Who doesn't, right? March 1st is National Pig Day. Created back in 1972, the reason for the season is to "recognize and be thankful for pigs as intelligent domestic animals." I was surprised to learn there is a national day for pigs, but I was even more shocked by some other porky facts:

  • Pigs are very intelligent animals; they can be trained much more easily than dogs. In fact, a piglet can learn its name in just two weeks.
  • Pigs have an excellent sense of smell. They can smell food up to five feet underground.
  • Contrary to popular belief, pigs are cleaner than most animals. They do not excrete where they sleep unless they live in captivity.
  • The idiom ‘to sweat like a pig’ is totally false. Pigs don't have sweat glands.
  • Pigs roll in mud to cool their bodies, but prefer water to mud -- they're excellent swimmers.
  • Pork is the most consumed meat in the world.

So, now that you know, what will you do to celebrate National Pig Day? Wear a pink curly ribbon around your pig tails? Cook a fat roast? Have a Snort Off or a Pig Out? Join an online Pig Chat? Play a piggy game? Whatever you do, take a minute on Sunday to celebrate the princely pig in all its porky glory.

Your "Praise for Pigs" Gift Guru,
Linda

Irish for a Day

February 20, 2015

"Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day." Or so the saying goes. But some are more convincingly Irish than others. Which is why I thought I'd help you become Irish for a day with a few little-known facts about St. Patrick's Day.

  • The first non-religious celebration of St. Patrick's Day didn't take place in Ireland, but in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737.
  • Irish Coffee was actually invented in San Francisco, California.
  • A four-leaf clover1 is supposed to bring good luck, but the world record number of leaflets found on a shamrock is 14.
  • The ratio of pubs to people in Ireland is 1:350.
  • The American Heart Association says a daily Guinness could be as effective as a daily aspirin in reducing the risk of heart attacks.

Green beer and corned beef aren't the only ways you can celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Wear the green, learn a few Irish blessings and show off your new knowledge. And it wouldn't hurt to learn the lyrics to "Danny Boy."

Your "Sláinte!" Gift Guru,
Linda

Lucky at Lotto?

February 13, 2015

Didn't win the $564 million Powerball on Wednesday night? Me either. I played so I could dream about what I'd do with a half a billion dollars, but it looks like my dreams are on hold. Three people matched all five numbers and the powerball so the lucky winners will have to share the big jackpot. Before taxes, each will receive only $188 million. Only.

The lotto isn't the only way to win. You could always head for the casino to try your hand at slots, or poker or roulette. Then there's off-track betting. Or fantasy sports leagues. But I could never figure out the rules of most of those games. And forget about the betting rules. It's all too complicated for me.

So I'll stick to the lotto and my lucky number picker. It's easy, doesn't cost much to play and the dreaming is almost as fun as the winning. Almost.

Your "Luck Be A Lady" Gift Guru,
Linda


Love Your Heart

February 06, 2015

There's no better month to think about your heart health -- both romantically and mechanically -- than February. After all, we're already thinking about Valentine's Day, so choosing February as American Heart Month makes lots of sense.

You might be surprised to learn that you can do some very simple things to watch out for your heart.

  • Eat more veggies. Just one extra cup of vegetables per week is all you need to make your heart healthier.
  • Just getting up and moving a little bit during the day -- like taking a walk around the block -- will strengthen your heart.
  • Turn off the TV. Believe it or not, you'll sleep better and drop some weight just by hitting the "off" button!

You don't have to change your whole life, deprive yourself of your favorite foods or become an iron-man athlete to make your heart stronger. According to the American Heart Association, choosing just one of these three lifestyle mods can reduce your risk of heart disease. What better gift for you and your Valentine?

Your "Heart Happy, Heart Healthy" Gift Guru,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda