Tuesday, February 18 , 2014

Swimsuit Shopping Made Kinder

It's the time of the year to shop for a new bathing suit! Well, maybe a little early, but one cannot over-anticipate a great day at the beach. And you don't want to wait till the last minute when all the great bathing suits are picked over. And what if you're invited on a surprise beach weekend to the Bahamas? But shopping for a swimsuit is such an ordeal. You're pale as a ghost...and clothing stores make you try the suits over your undergarments—that's flattering! Before you head to the mall...

If you are a woman, put on a pair of panty hose that are a few shades darker than your current skin tone. You'll boost your self-esteem with your legs looking their sleek, sun-kissed best when you're in the changing room. And by the way, when we say “put on panty hose,” we mean “ put on panty hose only.” Meanwhile, on top, wear as minimalist a bra as your physique will allow. This lets you see the real fit of the swimsuit.

If you are a man, we can think of no constructive reason for you to wear panty hose while swimsuit shopping, but we wouldn't stand in your way, either.

More help with what you wear...


Friday, February 14 , 2014

Cast a Love Spell on Valentine’s Day

Did you forget to make Friday-night dinner reservations for Valentine's Day? Nice job! Here are some tips to make it seem like you planned a romantic “ evening in” all along...

Takeout to the rescue! All you have to do is go a step above fast food and pick up some slightly exotic finger-food fare, such as sushi, gourmet tacos, shish kebab or satay (available at Indonesian and southeast Asian restaurants). Be sure to call the eatery ahead—hours before you think you’ll be ready to eat—because you’re not the only love-day procrastinator.

Do you have a fireplace? After it's lit, chuck in a handful of a salt substitute product called Nu-Salt, which contains potassium chloride. Your fire's flames will turn a beautiful, romantic mood-setting combination of pink and lavender.

Fill your home with romantic scents. Dot a drop or two of jasmine essential oil on a light bulb here and there. (Do it when the bulb is cold, please.) According to Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, jasmine oil emits a sweet, musky aroma that prompts the release of pleasure-supporting brain chemicals such as endorphins. It rouses passion...and helps establish an ambience of intimacy. Who needs a restaurant?

More relationship help...


Friday, January 03 , 2014

Winter Weekends and a Good Book

Ahhhh, there's nothing like curling up inside with a good book on a chilly winter weekend. Now, where's your favorite bookmark? It's probably under the couch...but don't bother looking. Try these two items for better place-keeping...

Sticky bookmark. It's just too easy for a bookmark to slip out of a book, especially if it's the laminated kind. If you don’t want to lose your place in a book, use a Post-it note instead. You can stick it directly on the page where you’ve stopped reading...or you can adhere it to the inside cover of the book—then, each time you stop reading, write the page number on the Post-it where you need to start again. You also can use a big Post-it (they're available quite large) as a sticky bookmark and a place to take notes as you read—for example, jotting down all the clues in a mystery, sifting out possible red herrings. A Post-it is an inexpensive, reusable, multitasking bookmark.

Perfect place-saver. The baby cries, a phone rings…nature calls! You can’t help it…you have to stop in the middle of a page. Use a bobby pin to mark the line where you stopped. It’ll grab the page exactly where you want it.

More unique ways to use everyday items...

Wednesday, December 25 , 2013

Off-Beat Christmas Movie Picks

We love rewatching It's a Wonderful Life every holiday season just as much as the next person...and White Christmas...and Miracle on 34th Street...and A Christmas Story, etc. But variety is the spice of life, especially when young folks are home on vacation and aren't thrilled with the same old classics. Here are some lesser-known flicks with a holiday theme or background that you and your family can stream or rent (or check out from your local library) and enjoy together this week between Christmas and New Year's. We had help from a few of our movie-savvy “elves” to select the best (albeit obscure) Christmas-themed movies. Each list below is chronological.

For the kids in your family (age seven and older)...

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934, not rated). You may have tucked away in your memory a band of marching wooden soldiers and a lovable, bumbling comedy duo trying to make things right. That would be this movie, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, toy makers who save the day in Toyland. This movie hasn’t lost its charm over the generations.

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1962, not rated). An inspiring coming-of-age story set in the 1860s, filled with beautiful winter scenery and skating…and a suspenseful ending that will entertain the whole family.

Ziggy’s Gift (1982, not rated, also available on YouTube.com). Young and old will enjoy this short animated piece based on the Ziggy cartoon that shares the message that giving is the best part of the holiday.

Home Alone (1990, rated PG). When his family takes off on a holiday vacation to France, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left behind and has to fend off two klutzy burglars. This is a beloved family comedy with some slapstick action.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, rated PG) This stop-motion animated “thriller” written by Tim Burton features Jack Skellington who brings some Yuletide adventures to Halloweentown. Slightly scary, but filled with delightful imagery.

Little Women (1994, rated PG). This version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, complete with snowy scenes from New England, will delight the girls (and young women) in your family.

Elf (2003, rated PG). The story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised among elves, who travels to New York City to find his true identity. Silly and sweet, all in one package.

The Polar Express (2004, rated G). This is an animated drama based on the holiday children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. Tom Hanks narrates this beautiful tale about a mysterious train that helps a little boy believe.

Shrek the Halls (2007, not rated). Fans of Shrek will love this short animated tale.

For mature audiences (teens and beyond)…

3 Godfathers (1948, not rated). Legendary director-actor duo John Ford and John Wayne deliver an entertaining mix of old-time religion and gun-slinging outlaws in this little-known Western based on the biblical story of the Three Wise Men. No one says a line like John Wayne can.

Trading Places (1983, rated R). This film is a little on the raunchy side to be called “Christmas themed,” but it has plenty of holiday scenes to fit the spirit of the season, and it has plenty of laughs. It features SNL alumni Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd at their best.

The Sure Thing (1985, rated PG-13). This charming teen romantic comedy stars John Cusack as Walter traveling with his “mismatch” Alison (Daphne Zuniga) to California for the holidays. Breakout performances are sure to entertain.

Scrooged (1988, rated PG-13). This film is a laugh-filled (although slightly dark) adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Bill Murray.

Die Hard (1988, rated R). According to Rotten Tomatoes, “its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of this definitive holiday action classic.”

When Harry Met Sally (1989, rated R). The comedy hit starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan has a few Christmases…and all is resolved on New Year’s Eve (you remember!).

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989, rated PG-13). Chevy Chase lights up the neighborhood and engages in numerous other hilarious sight gags, but there’s also some sentimentality to make this a worthwhile holiday treat.

A Midnight Clear (1992, rated R). A beautifully filmed war movie featuring excellent performances by the young Ethan Hawke and Gary Sinise. A small, tight-knit group of soldiers experience hardship and grace during World War II.

The Santa Clause (1994, rated PG). Sitcom star Tim Allen inherits the job of St. Nick and hilarity ensues.

While You Were Sleeping (1995, rated PG). A wacky romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman in snowy Chicago…irresistible.

Everyone Says I Love You (1996, rated R). This lighthearted musical by Woody Allen spans a few holidays and ends with Christmas in Paris. And guess what? It’s got romance!

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001, rated R). Renée Zellweger is adorable as Bridget Jones, who must choose between the sparring Daniel (Hugh Grant) and Mark (Colin Firth) (rotten luck!). Her quandary is surrounded by much holiday cheer and merriment.

About a Boy (2002, rated PG-13). Another charming comedy with Hugh Grant as a layabout who has written the seasonal radio hit “Santa’s Super Sleigh” and who befriends a small boy in need of a role model.

Love, Actually (2003, rated R). We couldn’t help listing one more romance! Features holiday love vignettes (and broken hearts) with more than a dozen characters. An amazing cast…Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman shine in this.

…And for a good goof: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, rated PG). Alien invaders kidnap St. Nick. Need we say more?

What are your favorite holiday movies? We’d love to know!

According to the late American columnist Burton Hillis, “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

Merry Christmas to you and yours, from Joan, Lydia and everyone at Bottom Line Publications!

More ways to enjoy family time...


Tuesday, December 03 , 2013

Better Than a Book Club

When it’s time to get out and socialize, the usual advice is to “start or join a book club.” Well, what if you don’t have the time to read, or you dread finishing a book that you don’t like, or you just aren’t an avid reader? How about starting a movie club instead? Movie buffs love to critique what they see, and you can schedule it so that club members watch the movies together or watch them separately and then get together to yack about them. And it doesn’t have to be movies...plenty of TV series, old and new, are talk-worthy as well.

There’s lots of advice on the Web about how to create a book club—and those tips work very well for movie clubs, too. (One place to start: ehow.com/how_2077518_start-movie-club.html). Money-saving movie night: Check your local library for films and television series. Many libraries now carry extensive collections of DVDs in both regular and Blu-ray format.

More ways to better socializing...


Tuesday, July 16 , 2013

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Checklist

You probably know it's a good idea to make a checklist of what to pack for a vacation (or a business trip). Even better: Take your packing checklist with you on the trip, and when the trip is coming to an end and you are packing to go home, use it again—and you'll never forget to bring something back home. (No more did-I-forget-something panic on the plane!)

More travel tips...


Wednesday, January 16 , 2013

Winter Getaway Packing Tips

Travel light! Give lots of thought to what you really need. Once you commit to your wardrobe choices, follow this packing order to keep creases to a minimum: First, lay out jackets…then shirts/blouses and pants/skirts…followed by jeans—all folded in half across the length of the suitcase. Shoes and undergarments go in the corners.

Thursday, January 10 , 2013

Easy Craft for Winter Cabin Fever

This is a fun and inexpensive craft...easy enough to do with your kids. Make napkin rings from empty tubes of toilet tissue or paper towels. Cover the tubes by pasting on paper that matches your table or room décor. You can use construction paper, wrapping paper, leftover wallpaper, last season’s sample wallpaper books (available at your local paint store) or even newspaper—try the comics.

Once the tube is covered, cut it crosswise into equally sized pieces—about 1½ inches wide. (Any large pair of scissors will do the job. The cardboard loops easily pop back into shape.) If you use solid paper to cover the tubes, you can also decorate them with stickers, sequins and ribbon.

We recently set a dinner table with a solid red tablecloth, napkin rings covered in black-and-white magazine excerpts with thin red ribbon tied around them, white linen napkins and white dinnerware. Conversations started immediately as dinner guests read their napkin rings and shared the articles.

Friday, December 21 , 2012

Winter Blues Mood Lifter

Today is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. If the lack of sunlight gets you down, try this relaxing mood lifter. While running a warm bath, prepare a cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is a common aromatherapeutic remedy for sadness. Add the used tea bag to the bath, along with a new one. If you use loose chamomile, wrap the herb in cheesecloth before putting it in the tub to avoid messy cleanup. Peppermint tea is also a good mood lifter, especially if you’re feeling a little fatigued from the holidays.

Once the bath is ready, take a pen and paper along with your cup of tea and relax in the tub. Make a list of a dozen wishes as you sip your tea. The things you wish for just might come true.

Friday, August 31 , 2012

Be Extra Safe in Your Hotel

When we travel, we pack a small rubber doorstop for added protection and you might want to do so as well. When you are in your hotel room for the night, lock the door and wedge the doorstop under your room door from the inside. This may give you peace of mind and a better night’s sleep.