Mother-in-Law Day: 5 Ways to Show Your Mother-in-Law Your Appreciation

mother-in-lawOctober 26th is Mother-in-Law Day — your relationship with your mother-in-law is not like any other relationship. As the mother of the person you married, you owe her a lot for where you are today. Here are 5 ways to show your mother-in-law your appreciation.

Pay Her a Visit Take a few hours out of your weekend to visit your mother-in-law. Take her to a movie and have coffee afterward or go on a walk in the park, or to a museum . Spending time with your mother-in-law shows you care and it gives you the opportunity to learn a little bit more about her and your spouse.

Ask Her Advice Asking advice shows you respect her opinion. Your mother-in-law experienced a whole life before she met you and she wants to share her experiences and lessons she’s learned. Moms love being thought of as knowledgeable and wise.

frameGive Her Something Sweet You don’t have to give her something big for it to be thoughtful, but a nice frame with pictures of her children or grandchildren would be a nice gesture. Even something fun to put artwork from her grandchildren is a good way to make her feel loved and appreciated.

Ask Her for Help Moms love helping out. Asking for help shows her you respect her and need her. Have her babysit or take the kids to the park even if you don’t need her to. Moms love to be needed — especially when all the kids are grown and have their own families to take care of.

Offer Your Help Moms also love to know you’re there for her. Go to the grocery store or help her put up holiday decorations. Moms love having their children around — even when they’re children by marriage only. mother-in-law

The holidays are coming up, so you don’t have to go all out for Mother-in-Law day but she deserves some recognition and appreciation even if she’s only your mother in the eyes of the law.

Make a Difference Day: 5 Ways You Can Make a Difference

volunteersOctober 25th is Make a Difference Day. It’s a day that was created to encourage people to improve the lives of others. For some people, being of service to other people is second nature, for others, it takes some effort. For those of you who need some inspiration, here are 5 ways you can make a difference.

Raise Money for Victims of Disasters Disasters hit anytime and anywhere. The American Red Cross aids in about 70,000 disasters in the United States every year. From forest fires to hurricanes, millions of people are touched by disasters and are in need of help — whether it’s food, clothing or shelter. Raising money for the Red Cross or another disaster relief organization provides aid in all forms to people who have lost everything due to disasters.

petcaveFoster a Dog or Cat According to the ASPCA, more than seven million pets are taken in by animal shelters every year — almost three million are euthanized. Some shelters don’t have the space to accommodate every cat or dog that needs a home and some pets aren’t wired to be around that many animals or they’re too young. Rather than euthanize healthy cats and dogs, shelters make fostering available to people who can’t provide a forever home. By fostering one pet, you can make a difference in the lives of many pets. If you’re an animal lover, giving a temporary home to a shelter pet is rewarding for both you and the animals.

Support the Troops and Their Families There are many ways you can support our troops! If you want to go big, you can donate money or volunteer at organizations like Project Sanctuary. It’s a place where soldiers go with their families after returning from a tour of duty to heal and bond. But your contribution can be as simple as writing letters or sending care packages to deployed soldiers or even help mailing those packages — every little bit makes a difference.

volunteerHelp Your Neighbor You don’t have to think beyond your block to make a difference. You can make a difference to someone by doing little things like raking leaves in your senior neighbor’s yard, helping a single mom by walking her child to school or bringing a meal to a sick neighbor. Everyone needs help but not everyone asks for it; it’s up to you to offer it.

Volunteer at a Nursing Home There are a number of ways to volunteer at a nursing home, but one of the most appreciated is as a visiting friend. Talking and sharing stories doesn’t seem like much work, but seniors look forward to new friends and a chat over coffee. There are also programs in which you can visit seniors living alone in their own homes. Volunteers are especially needed around the holidays, but visiting volunteers are welcome year-round.

There are so many ways you can make a difference in someone’s life without even trying. Start small and eventually you’ll make a big difference.

5 Halloween Myths and Folklore Explained

girl-in-witch-costumeHalloween is the spookiest of holidays with a lot of folklore surrounding it. Your kids get dressed up every year as all sorts of creepy creatures without a reasonable explanation. Here are 5 Halloween myths and folklore explained.

All Hallows Eve The word “Halloween” is the short form of the phrase “All Hallows Eve.” “All Hallows” and All Saints Day along with All Souls Day which are Christian holidays set aside to pray for the souls of the deceased to reach Heaven. All Hallows Eve coincides with the Gaelic festival “Samhain” which celebrates the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Samhain is considered a time when there is overlap between the world of the living and the world of the dead — and where we get a lot of our Halloween traditions.

lighted-ghosts-yard-stakes

Make yours the scariest house on the block for Halloween night with these Lighted Ghosts Yard Stakes.

Ghosts, Ghouls & Goblins As the idea of the world between the living and dead is bridged on Halloween, according to Samhain tradition, on that day there were fears about running into “lost souls.” To avoid wrath of the evil, misdirected souls, people would dress up as ghosts hoping to blend in with the spirits. Ghosts came in many forms: 1) Goblins were demons who looked for trouble and caused harm to humans (gnomes and gremlins fall into the category of goblin). 2) Ghouls were also demons who set out to harm humans, but they also preyed on the dead and were thought to be grave robbers.

jack-o-lanternJack-O-lanterns Jack-o-lanterns have a sinister story behind them brought to you by the Irish. According to Irish folklore, Jack was a farmer known as Stingy Jack. He was a cheat and could trick just about anyone — including the Devil. As the legend goes, Stingy Jack managed to trick the Devil into making several promises, but the last one came back to haunt Stingy Jack. He convinced the Devil to climb a tree to grab a piece of fruit, but before the Devil could come down, Jack carved crosses into the trunk making it impossible for the Devil to get out of the tree. In exchange for freedom from the tree, Jack made the Devil promise not to take his soul when he died. When Jack died, the Devil kept his promise, but God wouldn’t let him into Heaven either. With the last laugh, the Devil tossed him an ember and, from a turnip he had in his pocket, Jack carved a lantern to carry the ember as he wandered Purgatory for eternity. Jack was then re-named “Jack of the Lantern” which was shortened by the Irish to “Jack O’Lantern.” According to folklore, people would hollow out turnips — and later pumpkins — to make lanterns and put them on their porches to guide lost souls home on Halloween.

creapy-candlesVampires, Mummies and Frankenstein The association of vampires, mummies and Frankenstein with Halloween may have something to do with literature and Hollywood and the fascination with bringing the dead back to life. But whether we’re dressing up as a vampire or decorating with mummies, we run with the idea!

Mummification is the process of preserving a body after death. Though mummies can be found all over the world, ancient Egypt is what comes to mind when we think of mummies. When people died in Egypt, part of mummification was wrapping the bodies in linen cloth — which is how we imagine mummies today. The idea of bringing mummies back to life is a relatively new idea. It allegedly first appeared in the 1800s book by Jane Loudon Webb called “The Mummy.” It was about a mummy who comes back to life seeking revenge. From there, many stories and movies were hatched about reanimating mummies. Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel “Dracula” put a story to the fabled vampires that have been lurking in Eastern European folk tales for centuries. Mary Shelley’s 1818 book did the same for Frankenstein. There is no direct connection between these mythical creatures and Halloween except they are all caught in that overlap of the mortal and spiritual worlds.

witchWitches & Broomsticks Samhain is considered to be the most important holiday for witches. It marks the third and last harvest before the darker half of the year begins. As a symbol for Halloween, a witch is seldom seen without her broomstick. There are a few theories behind the witch and her broomstick: One explanation was the broomstick had purpose, but it wasn’t for flying around — they were used to bless crops. Witches would jump up and down with the brooms in the fields and it was thought that the higher you jump, the taller the crops would grow. One other explanation for the broomsticks is hallucinogens. In “Murder, Magic, and Medicine” John Mann says witches were known for concocting brews of tropane alkaloids which give the sensation of flying and the connection was made to broomsticks. Whether broomsticks were used to help crops grow or flying was part of hallucinogenic experience in centuries past, today a witch without a broomstick on Halloween is just an ugly old lady.

Celebrating Halloween doesn’t have quite the same meaning today as it did when the festival started. But even as a modern holiday, there are traditions from the days of yore we will never let go of — however spooky their histories are. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

As the build up to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays begin, it is easy to get caught up in the coming wave. Remember to take some time for yourself before the stress gets to you by wrapping up in a sweater, enjoying a good book, massaging away your aches, or grabbing a cup of tea. Here is The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

Fall in love with the soft chunky knit construction of the Women's Long Open Front Sweater.

Fall in love with the soft chunky knit construction of the Women’s Long Open Front Sweater.

Use this set of 3 Plantar Fasciitis Massage Balls to help relieve pain and soothe aching feet.

Use this set of 3 Plantar Fasciitis Massage Balls to help relieve pain and soothe aching feet.

 

You'll read comfortably for hours with your book or e-reader on this plush Book Pillow.

You’ll read comfortably for hours with your book or e-reader on this plush Book Pillow.

Honor the professional who works hard for you with the gift of this Occupational Double-Walled Tumbler.

Honor the professional who works hard for you with the gift of this Occupational Double-Walled Tumbler.

 

3 Simple Ideas for Fall Decorating

Thanksgiving dinner is hard to plan for and decorating for the holiday can sometimes turn into a big chore. You know you want your home to have a fall feel, but getting started is tough. Here are 3 simple ideas for fall decorating to make your Thanksgiving a little bit easier.

leaf-wreathLeaves During the spring and fall, trees, shrubs and leaves dominate decor. In the fall, leaves take on warm shades of orange, red and brown. They decorate our landscape and bringing them indoors lets the season permeate our homes. For crafty people, leaves are a great tool, but for people who lack crafting skills, they can be intimidating. You can buy leaf wreaths for your door to welcome guests to your home. But you don’t have to put a wreath on your front door — make a temporary home for it over the mantle or even on bathroom or kitchen doors.

Fall-Floral-ArrangementsIf you want to use nature’s bounty to decorate the table, you can create a fall centerpiece using small gourds, branches and freshly fallen leaves. Tie together whispy, bare branches and colorful fall leaves to create an arrangement in a vase. If you don’t have the time, there are artificial fall floral arrangements to create a fall atmosphere or look for leaf-shaped decor and harvest colors — bowls, platters, flatware holders — to add a fall accent to the table.

pumpkin-dishesPumpkins Carving pumpkins is a messy tradition, but you don’t have to carve them to make them part of your decor. Outside, you can create a cute narrative on the porch — stack them using leaves or moss to keep them steady, or line the stairs with them to guide your guests to the front door. But leaving pumpkins unadorned, may not be quite cute enough for you. If you draw well, you can etch scenes into the pumpkins to make them unique. Painting them or decoupage may satisfy your need to make a mark on your pumpkin. If you’re looking for something to bring out year-after-year, pumpkin-shaped planters are an option. Real pumpkins aren’t always an option for indoor decor, but there are plenty of pumpkin products to dress up the living room or dining room to make it feel like fall.

Harvest-LED-Candle-Lighted-DecorCandles Candles make any season more festive — making them unique to fall is where the challenge comes in. To make a pillar candle uniquely fall, repurpose a jar by filling it halfway with popcorn kernels and put a small pillar candle in it — the corn will help keep the candle steady. Pumpkins (not jack-o-lanterns) also make great candle holders! Carve out the top of mini pumpkins and gourds to hold tea lights.  To keep them safe, use LED tea lights — they’ll last longer, too!

You don’t have to be crafty to give your Thanksgiving dinner a fall feel; knowing what you like and what your options are can be enough to put together your fall decor without having to put in too much thought. Shop The Lakeside Collection for easy decor ideas — you’ll need the extra energy to make a spectacular holiday meal!

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

halloween-dog-collarHalloween is a night everyone gets dressed up and hits the streets for candy! We love to take our pets with us, but there are some Halloween pet safety tips to think about before we start putting up Halloween decorations or bring out the candy for trick-or-treaters.

halloween-dog-costumeCute Costumes We can’t resist dogs and cats in costumes! But our pets might not be as keen on costumes as we are. When you have the costume picked out and ready to go, let your pet do a test run. Make sure there are no little pieces they want to chew off to become a choking hazard. Check that  they can see, hear, move comfortably, and they’re not irritated by the costume. It can cause a lot of stress for our furry friends and we want them to be as happy as possible. If they don’t like the full costume, a bow or fancy collar may please both pet and owner.

Ghoulish Goodies

Get special dog treats for Halloween to steer them away from Halloween candy! Children’s candy can be a toxic temptation for pets. Dogs love chocolate, but chocolate does not love them. It contains theobromine which is toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. A few bites of milk chocolate which contains the least amount can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Baking chocolate contains the most — even the smallest amount can kill a dog.

Sugar-free candy can also be hazardous for your pets. The artificial sweetener xylitol is toxic for dogs. It can cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar leading to tremors, seizures and sometimes death. It’s found in human treats like gum and mints. halloween-dog-treats

Trick-or-treating

On Halloween night, only take dogs with you if they are crowd-friendly. While they might be OK going out on their morning walks, Halloween brings out a lot more people — who don’t necessarily look like people. You don’t want them to get stressed out; they may not react the way they normally do even in a familiar neighborhood.

For those pets staying at home, all the people coming to the door and all of the opening and closing may cause alarm to your pets. To be kind to your dog and the kids in costumes, block off the entryway so they don’t get too excited or get out.

If your pet is an indoor-outdoor pet, keep them indoors on Halloween for the same reason you shouldn’t take them trick-or-treating; the unfamiliar costumes and number of people out and about may stress them out. Additionally, though there are myths surrounding black cats being the victims of pranksters around Halloween, the bigger concern is that they can’t be seen in the dark and get hit by cars. As an extra precaution on Halloween, make sure all pets have an ID tag in case they do get loose in the chaos of the holiday.

pumpkin-headDevilish Decorations

You know your pets and you know what they like to chew on, rub up against or bat. When you’re putting up Halloween decor, look out for little things that can be easily chewed off and swallowed. If you have a cat, think about what they like to climb and if your Halloween decor might be a temptation.

Be careful with jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin in small amounts can be good for dogs’ digestion, if they eat too much, it will upset their stomachs. It’s also high in vitamin A which can be toxic if a dog consumes too much.

Use LED lights instead of candles. Cats and dogs don’t know the power of their tails and they can knock over candles or jack-o-lanterns lit by tea lights causing a fire. LED lights also eliminates the risk of a curious kitten getting burned.

We ramp up safety precautions for our kids on Halloween, but pets are part of the family, too; it only makes sense for us to take care of their Halloween needs as well.

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

The crisp days of October are meant for bundling up for long walks and preparing for the winter ahead. The Lakeside Collection has what you need to look wonderful, stay warm, and get your home ready for guests. Here is The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

 

6-Pair Kids’ Glove Set lets them choose the pair they want to wear.

6-Pair Kids’ Glove Set lets them choose the pair they want to wear.

 

Add this Beaded Scarf Necklace to your closet for a fashion-forward accessory that looks great paired with any outfit.

Add this Beaded Scarf Necklace to your closet for a fashion-forward accessory that looks great paired with any outfit.

Seasonal Angel Figurine graces your decor with a lovely look for any time of year.

Seasonal Angel Figurine graces your decor with a lovely look for any time of year.

 

Decorative Lighted Snowman Shovel is a whimsical addition to your holiday setting.

Decorative Lighted Snowman Shovel is a whimsical addition to your holiday setting.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 5 Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink-Ribbon-Breast-CancerOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Millions of people are touched by the devastating disease, but there’s always more we can do to create awareness and support research to find a cure. Here are 5 ways to support breast cancer awareness.

Walk The most popular way to get involved is to participate in a walk or run. Hundreds of walks are held every year across the country. These events raise money to help cancer patients in addition to raising awareness of the disease. The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides originated in Boston in 1984 with 200 walkers. Since then, more than eight million people have walked to raise more than $460 million dollars to fight breast cancer.

Pink-Ribbon-Breast-CancerVolunteer All those walks have to have volunteer support to put the events together. They need people to set up, train walkers, put up posters, and do administrative work. Making time and putting in effort is appreciated and needed to make these events happen. There are several organizations to be of service to. Avon, The American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation all have volunteer opportunities.

Donate If you don’t have time to give, donations are welcome at every organization. Money goes to education, outreach, awareness, and treatment. In 2012, the National Cancer Institute spent $602 million for breast cancer research. Finding a cure costs money and every cent counts.

Host a Fundraiser Breast cancer foundations make it easy to create fundraising events. Whether you want to do something small like a bake sale, or you have bigger aspirations like hosting a dinner or an art show, you can manage these events through foundations.breast-cancer-awareness-tote

Buy Pink Everyone loves pink! Pink products come in all forms — scarves, tote bags, t-shirts, pink tulip bulbs — and a portion of the proceeds go toward breast cancer research. Not only is money you’re spending supporting the cause, but you’re also raising awareness of breast cancer and showing your support for the cause when you wear your pink products.pink-tulips

However you decide to support the cause, every little bit has a benefit — whether it’s for education for prevention, helping families as cancer patients go through treatment or research to find the cure, your support is appreciated and needed.

Fun Facts About Candy Corn

Candy CornLove it or hate it, Halloween would not be quite the same without candy corn. It’s been around as long as we can remember — but the confection we’re so used to seeing this time of year just becomes part of the Halloween decorations. But it has a few interesting details you may not be familiar with. Here are some fun facts about candy corn — the fall candy Americans fell in love with more than a century ago.

Chicken Feed Little has changed about candy corn since it was first manufactured in the 1880s except for the name. Candy corn was originally called “Chicken Feed” and the packaging featured a rooster as part of the logo. It originally had a very strong following among farmers.

Wedding Cake One of the ingredients that gives candy corn it’s unusual hard-yet-soft texture is fondant. Fondant is sugar and water heated together just long enough for it to be moldable. Fondant is used as icing on elaborate wedding cakes because you can sculpt it and make beautiful, ornamental cakes you can’t make with regular icing.

Candy CornSpecial Recipe Though Brach’s wasn’t the company to introduce candy corn to America, they’ve been making it for a long time with their own recipe – and that recipe includes honey. Most other candy corn is made with plain corn syrup.

Not for Vegans Even if you opt for the makers who don’t use honey (honey is not a vegan product), it still wouldn’t be a vegan treat because one of the ingredients in candy corn is marshmallow which contains gelatin. Gelatin is made from animal protein. More specifically, gelatin is made from collagen which comes from bones and joints of animals. It’s an ingredient in many of the things we eat but it’s a no-no for a vegan diet.

Shellac Shine Candy corn allegedly contains shellac – it’s what makes fingernail polish shiny. Shellac is a resin secreted from a lac bug found in India and Thailand. It’s used in all sorts of products and candies to give them a sheen – but it’s another reason candy corn isn’t considered vegan.

candy pumpkinPurple Corn You’re probably familiar with the slight variations in shapes and colors — pumpkins for Halloween or bunnies for Easter — but in eastern Canada, they produce a purple candy corn. The flavor is blackberry cobbler.

Of course, if you really love candy corn, you don’t have to wait until October every year to have it – you can eat it year-round if you make it. The Food Network’s Alton Brown has his own recipe for the fall favorite. Otherwise, there is plenty of candy corn coming at you in the next few weeks!

 

4 Ways to Make Other People Smile

happy-clockGet out your grin! The first Friday in October is World Smile Day. Started by artist Harvey Ball, who is credited with creating the “Smiley Face” icon in 1963, it is a day to focus on smiling and doing things that make other people smile, too. Here are 4 ways to make other people smile.

Smile! A genuine, friendly smile is one of the most contagious things around. Good feelings are infectious, so share a little bit of yours. You may be surprised how much just smiling at and acknowledging others can do to uplift people around you, even total strangers.

Do an Act of Kindness The easiest way to make other people smile is to do something nice for them, or an act of kindness. Bring in doughnuts for the department at work or the parents waiting at the school bus stop, or leave a gnome on your neighbor’s doorstep. You also can do acts of kindness for people you do not know by doing things like putting quarters in a washer or dryer at the laundromat or in a parking meter. Write inspiring, unsigned notes and put them in public places for other people to find. Acts of kindness not only make others feel good, they will lift your spirits, too.

Pay It Forward One specific act of kindness is called “pay it forward”. This is where you pay not only for yourself at a store, restaurant, or tollbooth, but also pay for the person in line behind you. That person then can choose to pay for the person behind them. As the chain builds, so do the good feelings. One pay-it-forward chain at a coffee shop in Florida reached 750 customers in August.

Be Friendly and Polite In our ever faster-paced world, manners often fall by the wayside. Sometimes, a “please” or “thank you” is all it takes to improve someone else’s day. A little patience and politeness on your part may make the day for a friend or a stranger.

Celebrate World Smile Day today and spread some cheer! You’ll make yourself feel good by bringing joy to others — all you need to do is smile. :)