The Lighter Side

Those Gnarly Gnomes

March 06, 2015

Gnomes used to live deep within the interior of the earth. But now they live everywhere. Especially in gardens. And since it's almost gardening season, I thought it would be nice to take a minute to honor the knowledgeable gnome.

Gnomes take their name from the Greek work for knowledge (gnosis) because -- as the legend goes -- they knew the exact location of valuable underground metals. The gnarly old men worked hard to guard the earth's treasure, but they had a reputation for being surly and ill-tempered.

Today the service they provide is making us smile. We put them in our gardens and yards. We take them on vacation and photograph them at bars, restaurants and tourist attractions. We treat them like friends. Which is, I think, a nice payback for all their years of hard work underground. Even though all that friendly treatment hasn't improved their attitude much!

Your "Getting to Know the Gnome" Gift Guru,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,