Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas: Products to Show Your Sweetheart You Love Him

Valentine-coupleValentine’s Day is coming up! But, after the holidays, we might be a little drained from figuring out what to give everyone — coming up with a gift for your sweetheart might not come to you very easily. We have a few ideas for your Valentine to take a little pressure off you. Whether he is a sports fan, a history buff, or just needs to relax, we have something he will go wild over! Here are a few Valentine’s Day gift ideas to show your sweetheart you love him.

sports-cardsSports Fan A die-hard fan can never have too many pieces of home decor and accessories with his team’s name and colors on them. Complete his collection of sports cards with ones decorated with 23-Karat gold. If he has other interests in addition to sports, you may be able to find a way to combine them in one gift, like a grill cover with his team’s logo on it or golf balls.

history-booksHistory Lover If your “honey-sop” relaxes by exploring the past, you can give him a gift that takes him back in time. Look for a book or DVDs on a favorite topic or era, or fascinate him with shocking crime stories. For something more personal, check out a coin set from a significant year.

beer-holsterPersonalized Decor Personalized decor for his home or office lets you give him something made just for him. A sign with his name on it announces to all who visit just who the king of the man cave is. Personalized pint glasses or beer steins are a distinctive touch for any home bar. Photo frames with your names on them are a wonderful way to display holiday snapshots. Even just a monogram brings sophistication to drinkware, a beer growler or even a beer holster.

Whatever your guy is into, The Lakeside Collection has a wide variety of gifts to help you show him how much you love him. Our values and shipping deals make romance more affordable than ever. This Valentine’s day, celebrate your love with gifts and decor from Lakeside!

National Compliment Day: Compliments to Win Over Your Valentine

CoupleJanuary 24 is National Compliment Day — you may not think it’s an idea worthy of devoting an entire day to raise awareness of…. until you receive a compliment and feel how powerful it is. It feels good to be recognized and appreciated — especially by loved ones. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought we give you a few ideas for National Compliment Day with 5 ideas for compliments to win over your Valentine.cake

  1. Point out the little things. That cute mole, that wildly adorable cowlick, the crooked smile — those things that no one else would notice but you think is lovely should be said out loud. It’ll make your valentine melt.
  2. Highlight the things your valentine works hard on. The masterful way he or she can curate knickknacks on the mantel, how he or she can diffuse a heated situation between the kids, how well that chocolate cake came out on the first try. Your valentine will love you all the more when his or her hard work is noticed.
  3. Shout out loud that you are proud. Telling someone that you are proud of him or her is an all-encompassing compliment, but it lets that person know you are better person for having your valentine in your life.
  4. kids-on-ballsUnderscore parenting. Telling your valentine she’s a good mother or he’s a father, is about the best compliment you can give anyone. That someone is able to shape a child into a good and admirable person, is no small feat. While you’re at it, your in-laws might appreciate a similar compliment.
  5. Rare combinations. He’s smart and hilarious. She’s creative and warmhearted. He’s interesting and can sing beautifully. When your valentine understands you think he or she is the total package it will make your heart and your valentine’s heart swell.

While we want others to feel good, they want you to feel good, too. Remember that it’s just as important to graciously receive compliments as it is to give them — be prepared to give and receive lots of love this Valentine’s Day!

Fascinating Facts About Penguins

PenguinJanuary 20 is Penguin Awareness Day — what better time than the middle of winter to honor our favorite aquatic bird? Of course, they are adorable — but they’re also fascinating! They are so interesting that we thought we’d share a few facts about them. Here are 11 fascinating facts about penguins.Penguin

  1. Most, if not all, penguins live south of the equator. If someone calls the penguin an “arctic bird,” that is false because no penguins live at the North Pole.
  2. Penguins’ sleek black and white coloring is actually camouflage. When they’re swimming, if a predator is looking up at the penguins, the white of their bellies blends in with the bright light from the sun. If a predator is looking down at them while they’re swimming, the black on the penguins’ backs disappears in the dark depths of the sea.penguin-snow-globe
  3. Penguins have up to four layers of feathers to keep them warm. Emperor penguins have about 100 feathers per square inch!
  4. Penguins have no land-based predators.
  5. Penguins can drink seawater — a special gland helps them separate the salt from the water which they expel through their beaks.
  6. Though mating season is only during the spring and summer, more than 80% of the time, penguins return to their same mates year after year.
  7. It can take three days for a baby penguin to break through their eggs with their beaks.
  8. Most birds have hollow bones, penguins do not. This helps them swim fast.penguin-hand-warmers
  9. Most penguins can stay underwater for 4-5 minutes, but some are known to be able to hold their breath for 22 minutes.
  10. Penguins are carnivores. They eat fish, squid and krill.
  11. While most birds molt a few times a year to gradually get rid of feathers and regrow them, penguins have one “catastrophic molt” in which they lose all their feathers at once. To stay warm during the molt, they gain weight for insulation.

Though penguins have flippers instead of wings, they still follow migratory patterns like other species of birds. Right now, While we’re trying to stay warm in the Northern Hemisphere, penguins in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying another cold month-and-a-half before they start their migration for 2015.

The 4 Most Memorable Big Game Halftime Shows

Halftime-ShowFor the NFL’s most important game, the halftime extravaganza is a show within a show. Even if the game itself is a snoozer, the halftime entertainment usually gives everyone something to talk about the next day. While it may seem like an institution as old as the big game itself, it was not until the 1990s that broadcasters realized it was an opportunity to pack some extra fun into the night. Many of the performances stand out for their excellence. Some others do not. Here are the 4 most memorable Big Game halftime shows.

patriots-flag2004—Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake
“Memorable” does not always mean “best”. It can also mean “controversial”. That certainly was the case in 2004 when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake teamed up for the 2004 Big Game show. This was the performance that introduced the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” to the American vocabulary. After some suggestive dance moves, part of Jackson’s costume was pulled off and “Nipplegate” began. Was it an accident or intentional? We may never know. We do know the half second of exposure led to a legal battle over censorship, thousands in fines, a five-second broadcasting delay for all future halftime shows, and the creation of YouTube.

seahawks-picture2005—Paul McCartney
Jackson and Timberlake were a difficult act to follow. The NFL wanted no surprises at 2005’s Big Game, but it still wanted a big show to draw in non-football fans. It found a safe choice in Paul McCartney. Sir Paul did not disappoint, opening with the Beatles song “Drive My Car”. He then treated viewers to a fireworks-laden performance of “Live and Let Die”. McCartney finished with the iconic “Hey Jude” and got the entire stadium—not to mention the crowd at home—to sing along.

packers-throw1991—New Kids on the Block
In 1991, broadcasters decided to have a big-name act as the halftime entertainment. In an effort to appeal to a wide variety of viewers including tweens, New Kids on the Block was hired to perform with characters from sponsor Disney. It sounded like a winning formula, but things went bad quickly. Most people did not see the performance at halftime. The Gulf War had just started, and ABC News preempted the halftime broadcast with an update on Operation Desert Storm. Viewers at home did not see the performance until after the game. When the television audience finally saw the show, instead of a medley of New Kids’ hits, it was treated to a salute to global peace and togetherness. Which felt odd, considering the aforementioned Gulf War. At least everyone got to see a mind-blowing version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston.

colts-ball1993—Michael Jackson
After some fumbles, broadcasters finally got the formula for a good Big Game halftime show: popular musicians and special guests performing for about 15 minutes in a huge, over-the-top spectacle, usually involving explosions. The first show of the new era was Michael Jackson, and some fans think it was last great TV performance of his career. He opened with drama, standing still for about 90 seconds before launching into a medley including “Jam”, “Billie Jean”, and “We are the World”. It was the performance of an artist in the middle of resurgence shortly before his ultimate fall, criminal allegations, and early end.

Our Favorite Valentine’s Day Treat: The Blondie

BlondiesJanuary 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day! The blonde brownie is also known as a blondie. They’re similar to brownies in how they’re made, only the recipe doesn’t call for chocolate. According to foodtimeline.org, blondies don’t derive from brownies at all — it evolved from gingerbread bars. However, they are as versatile as brownies — you can find them with all sorts of sweet embellishments: butterscotch, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, caramel, walnuts, coconut — just about anything you think would be delicious in a dessert. Some people take it to the extreme with Oreo blondies or birthday cake blondies — there’s even a recipe out there for Roasted Strawberry and Goat Cheese Blondies — but anyway you make it, it’s moist, dense and rich just like the brownie — and it’s way better than a cookie!

At The Lakeside Collection, our favorite blondie recipe includes white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. It’s very simple — only seven ingredients (five if you make it without the nuts and white chocolate) Although we’re making blondies to celebrate National Blonde Brownie Day, it’s our favorite Valentine’s Day treat. Blondies

Blondies

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • ⅔ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

In a bowl fitted to a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed until it’s well-combined. Add vanilla extract and eggs one at a time and mix until it’s creamy and smooth. Slowly add the flour and mix well.Blondies

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add white chocolate chips and nuts. Spread mixture in a 9”x9” baking dish. Bake the blondies for 40 minutes or until the edges are dark brown and the top is golden brown. For extra measure, stick a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Let cool completely before cutting.

Blondies

Of course, you can make blondies any day of the year — not just National Blonde Brownie Day or Valentine’s Day — they’re a perfect dessert for just about any occasion.

Blondies

 

Make Your Dreams Come True Day: 24 Inspirational Quotes

Make-Your-Dreams-Come-TrueJanuary 13 is Make Your Dreams Come True Day! We are all dreamers, but achieving those dreams can sometimes seem impossible. When it feels impossible, we need a little motivation. Today we’re giving you motivation in the form of quotes. Here are 24 inspirational quotes to help you make your dreams come true:

  1. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” –Walt Disney
  2. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” –Harriet Tubman
  3. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!” –Goethe
  4. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” –Colin Powell
  5. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” –Henry David Thoreau
  6. “No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder
  7. Make-Your-Dreams-Come-True“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it.” –George Lucas
  8. “When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme.”  –Jiminy Cricket
  9. “I don’t dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living.” –Steven Spielberg
  10. “We should show life neither as it is or as it it ought to be, but only as we see it in our dreams.” –Leo Tolstoy
  11. “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” –Oscar Wilde
  12. “I’m a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds.” –Mike Tyson
  13. “Strivers achieve what dreamers believe.” –Usher
  14. “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” –Erma Bombeck
  15. “Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  16. “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” –Oprah Winfrey
  17. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot
  18. “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” –Alexander Graham Bell
  19. “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.” –Mother Teresa
  20. “It always seems impossible until it is done.” –Nelson Mandela
  21. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” –George Bernard Shaw
  22. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” –Zig Ziglar
  23. “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” –William Butler Yeats
  24. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” –Mark Twain

Make-Your-Dreams-Come-True

Food Safety Tips for Your Big Game Party

Super-Bowl-PartyWe’re all getting excited for football’s biggest game as the list for top contenders gets shorter and shorter! Of course the best part of the Big Game might not be football, but the viewing party — it’s certainly our favorite part! But we want to make sure we’re hosting a safe party — starting with the food. Here are 3 important food safety tips for your Big Game party

Keep Cold Food Cold… Bacteria grows fastest in food when it’s at temperatures between 40℉ and 140℉ — in the food industry, they call it the “Temperature Danger Zone.” If you’re hosting a party, make sure food like dairy-based dips, shrimp or deviled eggs are kept on ice to keep their temperatures under 40℉.Deviled Eggs

Quick tip: fill a cute baking dish with ice and place your bowls or platters with cold food on top of it.

…and Hot Food Hot If you’re serving hot dips — keep them in the slow cooker so you can maintain the safe temperature (140℉). If you’re serving meat, make sure it’s thoroughly cooked (beef and pork should be cooked to 145℉; chicken should be cooked to 165℉) and hot-held at 140℉. Any casseroles and ground meat of any kind should be cooked to 165℉ and held at 140℉. If anything needs to be reheated, it should be reheated to 165℉. If anything has been left at room temperature for more than two hours, throw it away.

Quick tip: Use your oven as a warmer. Set it at 200℉ to keep casseroles warm between plays and it’s not being served.bears-casserole-carrier

If you’re going to a Big Game party and you’re bringing the hot dip or a casserole, there are slow cooker carriers and NFL casserole carriers that will help keep your food hot while you’re traveling.

appetizer-standThink Small Serve dips and snacks in small quantities. There are two reasons for this: 1) you’ll have more control over the serving temperature to keep the food safe — and reduce the risk of it staying at room temperature for too long and 2) you’ll reduce the risk of contaminating items like chips and nuts by having too many hands in the bowls. It’s a little bit more work to continually refill everything, but it’s worth the work if no one gets sick at your party.

We’d all love to be able to serve the food and forget about it to watch the Big Game, but food needs monitoring. Following a few food safety tips will keep your guests healthy and your party successful!

National Cuddle Up Day: Items for Your Pet to Cuddle With

January 6 is National Cuddle Up Day! The beginning of January is the perfect time to remind us to cuddle up with those who are closest to us… including our pets! Those little snuggle monsters don’t need an excuse to get cozy with you, but a little gift of warmth lets them know we appreciate their snuggles. Here are 5 items for your pet to cuddle with on Cuddle Up Day.

Pet-ThrowMake your furry friends comfy with a Quilted Pet Throw or Shaped Pillow! Your precious pup or cuddly kitty will love stretching out for a nap or get wrapped in for cold winter days with the soft, warm throw and a place to rest his head on the cushy paw-shaped pillow. Your pet deserves to be comfortable and adorable at the same time! Of course, humans can use the throws, too! They’re perfect for cuddling away a snowy afternoon.

waterproof-pet-bedGive your puppy or aging dog with bladder issues a comfortable spot to rest with this Waterproof Pet Bed. This durable, polyester bed is stuffed with polyfill and surrounded by sturdy padded foam bumpers for extreme comfort and support. Use it on its own or in a crate to keep your furry friend comfortable at all times — but especially on Cuddle Up Day. But if today’s no good for cuddling, the waterproof surface allows you to easily wipe off dander, hair and messes so every day can be Cuddle Up Day.

patchwork-pet-bedsCozy Patchwork Pet Bed is made to look like a soft quilt, but its super padding makes it ideal for your tired pup to snuggle up on. Each of the 9 patches has a different dog-themed design for a cute piece that’s a comfy place for your pet to curl up and rest.

dog-toy2-In-1 Animal Dog Toy does double duty to provide hours of fun for your dog and something to comfy to rest on when the day is done! The plush animal has a squeaker for sedentary play and the attached plush flying disc has 5 squeakers to make a game of  catch five times more fun! But when he’s worn out from all the play, the plush animal makes the perfect pillow to cuddle up with.

pet-bedThe Plush Thermal Self-Heating Pet Bed is the must-have pet product for this winter and Cuddle Up Day! It works by recycling your pet’s own heat using a reflective silver foil sheet inside the extra-puffy fleece. It’ll keep your furry friend cozy when the temperatures drop while soothing his aches and pains. There’s no better bed for your pet to cuddle up on!
On Cuddle Up Day, don’t forget your pets! They bring you sunshine on the darkest days of winter and they deserve a little extra cuddling this January.

9 Best Places to Escape to in January

Sanibel-IslandWinter is back and, if you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, without the sparkle of holiday cheer, winter can be dreary. Instead of staying at home and twittering away the hours until the spring sun shines, get out of town! It’s one guaranteed way to prevent cabin fever from setting in. Here are the 9 best places to escape to in January.

If you live in the West or the Northwest, pack your bags and head to the Southwest for a winter intermission to warm up.

Arizona  With temperatures in the 60s and 70s, Tucson, AZ is a welcome respite from January up north. Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by four mountain ranges that give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you’re into hiking, biking or horseback riding, you won’t get bored in Tucson. If you have little ones with you, head to the Funtasticks Family Fun Park for laser tag, go karts or bouncy castles to give your kids the perfect winter escape.  For something a little more cerebral, plan a visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum to explore more than 300 planes. Tucson is also a popular place to film movies — Old Tucson Studios has old west sets where you can see Living History Presentations and historic tours. It’s not a bad break from the cold.

California Carlsbad, CA is between San Diego and Los Angeles — that means mild weather during the harsh winter months we have in the Northwest. Beautiful beaches and sunshine are enjoyed by everyone. Carlsbad provides calm away from home when snowstorms and cold winds are at their most intense. For families, Legoland provides hours of interactive entertainment to give your kids a break from snowmen and sledding.

White-SandsNew Mexico Alamogordo, NM is an outdoor playground with something for everyone. Because of its unique climate, skiing and golfing can be done in the same day! But Alamogordo’s most precious gem is the White Sands National Monument. It’s 275 square miles of sand made up of gypsum crystals. Let the kids climb the dunes and slide down them — it’s just like hills of snow without the freezing temperatures.

The Midwest gets painfully cold in the winter. Last winter CNN said, “It’s too darn cold.” When it gets that cold, the only direction you should head is south.

Texas A place for a winter warm up in Texas isn’t hard to find and temperatures in the 50s and 60s in January are hard to resist. Day or night, entertainment abounds in Austin, TX. Sample the finest Tex-Mex in the country for breakfast, lunch and dinner, swim at Barton Springs Pool — which is open year-round — during the day and go two-stepping at night. Those aren’t things you will find in January in Illinois.

Louisiana Temps in the 60s in Lake Charles, Louisiana beat the sub-zero temps we get used to in the Midwest during January! And the birds know that, too! The migratory patterns make Sam Houston Jones State Park a great place to be for bird watching — it’s also an excellent spot for camping (in cabins or tents) and other outdoor activities exploring marshland and lagoons you can’t find in Minnesota in January.

Tennessee Winter in Memphis feels like spring for Midwesterners! It’s a short trip to the birthplace of rock and roll and a comfortable time of year to tour the town Elvis Presley called home. You can visit Graceland to see just how the King lived and relaxed when he wasn’t onstage. But Elvis isn’t Memphis’s only claim to fame — for most people, Memphis barbecue alone is worth the trip.

If you’re in the Northeast, head south for a quick trip for warm adventures.

Georgia Savannah, GA almost never gets cold — at least not the kind of cold Northeasterners are used to in January. The comfortable weather makes visiting historic landmarks pleasant  in addition to fascinating. With all of the history surrounding the city, there are a lot tales to be told — it’s considered “America’s Most Haunted City.” You can take the Ghosts and Gravestones tour to explore the city’s sinister past on a trolley. But if you want the history without the spirits, there are mansions and houses to visit that have been well-preserved from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

CharlestonSouth Carolina Charleston, SC is rich in history with attractions to stimulate all of your senses that might otherwise be numb in the Northeast in January. There are a lot of parallels between New Orleans and Charleston — food being one of the most pronounced. Because it’s on the coast, they serve some of the best seafood with southern soul you can get: shrimp & grits, oyster stew, fried soft-shell crab. Of course, food isn’t the only draw to Charleston. On a walking tour you’ll feel like you’re in a different time with all of the mansions draped in Spanish moss, the brownstone neo-gothic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist or the historic Magnolia Cemetery which was built on a former rice plantation — a walk you can’t take in the northeast in January.

Florida Florida, of course, is the obvious destination for January, but Sanibel Island is the place to go if you want to be active with the family. Beaches, fishing, snorkeling — you can certainly dip your toes in the water in Sanibel Island without the threat of getting frostbite. Even if you don’t want to get wet, there are nature tours, hikes and biking everyone will enjoy in January.

Winter won’t last forever, but when it’s as cold as January gets, it feels like forever. Breakup the winter months and take off for a weekend — you won’t regret it.

4 Things You Can Do with Your Christmas Tree

Christmas-TreeChristmas is over and it’s just about time to take down the holiday decorations — including the tree. It takes about ten years to grow a Christmas tree and it seems wasteful to just leave it in the alley. There are things you can do with your tree so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Here are 4 things you can do with your Christmas tree now that Christmas is over.

Scents Christmas trees have a fabulous natural fragrance and it can fill your home well beyond Christmas. You can put the needles in sachet bags and scatter them around the house or simmer a few small branches in water with a cinnamon stick for potpourri.

MulchRecycle Many communities support Christmas tree recycling. There are drop-off centers who will take your tree off your hands — some cities even have curbside pick-up. The trees will likely be chipped into mulch to cover hiking trails and park paths.

Return it to Nature Trees are a natural habitat for all sorts of wildlife when they’re alive — and they can be a habitat even after they’ve been cut. Prop it up in your backyard for birds and squirrels to use temporarily. If you have a pond or a friend with a pond, you can create a semi-permanent habitat for fish. You have to anchor the tree and fully submerge it in the water, but it’s an excellent way to return your tree to nature.

Pine-NeedlesGardening If you have a garden, remove the branches of your tree to created a natural cover for your vegetable and flower beds. The pine needles will help the ground stay moist. If you have narrow but sturdy branches, you can save these for the spring to make a trellis for a vertical garden or stakes for plants. Evergreen stakes work to give indoor plants support as as well.

Those Christmas trees can’t stay up forever, but you can make use of them long after the holidays are over without tossing them in the alley. Remember that they’re too wet to burn and can be hazardous if you try to burn them in your fireplace and, even if you don’t want to re-purpose your tree, your community may environmentally-friendly ways to recycle it for you.