Man’s Digest: What NOT to do on Valentine’s Day

You’re invited!
Who? Bachelors, Boyfriends, Husbands
What? To celebrate matters of the heart
Why? Because those you love would like to be reminded of it
When? Tuesday, February 14th

First and foremost, this is not written with the expectation that each of our male readers are utterly useless when it comes to love – you’ve made it this far after all! This is, plain and simple, an expression of what many of my girlfriends and I believe to be the rules of thumb when it comes to Valentine’s Day ‘Don’ts’. They are for males of all relationship statuses, because this is a holiday for anyone with a loved one in their life (as the invitation clearly states!) Without further adieu, I humbly offer you ten things NOT to do this Valentine’s Day, on behalf of all womankind…. (slight stretch, but it’s happening).

1. Plan a double date with your buddy
If you’re planning on surprising her with a double date night with your friend and his flavor of the month, it’s doubtful you’ll receive praises for your Valentine’s preparation skills. Feb 14th is the only holiday that involves just the two of you, so don’t try to impress her by thinking outside of the box. The last thing she wants to do on Valentine’s Day is make small talk with your friends.

2. Buy a card and merely sign your name
If you have no intention of adding your own personal message to a Hallmark card – no matter how long you say you’ve spent ‘personally’ selecting it – just forget it. I think most ladies would agree that “From, x” is not a sufficient effort, and more of a slap in the face than not receiving a card at all. The same goes for cards to family members or friends!

A classic case of carnation disgust.

3. Buy red carnations in place of red roses
It’s true, the price of red roses skyrockets for this holiday, and it’s upsetting that us ladies won’t offer the same reaction to a discount bouquet from the grocery store. But if you’re really on a budget, go for a single red rose rather than a dozen carnations, it’s much more meaningful and, basic rule of thumb… knockoffs never go over well.

4. Sulk at home
For some, this holiday can act as a reminder of singledom. But you know when you’re at a club and you’re yelling over the music to your ‘taken’ friends, surrounded by hotties “I LOVE BEING SINGLE!”? Why not take that sentiment outside of the club and into real life? Sulking at home will get you nowhere. Grab some beers with friends who don’t have plans, go for a skate or skype with a loved one. Treat it like any other holiday, enjoy yourself, and make it your own.

5. Regift
If you think I’m making a mockery of you for stooping this low, think again. This actually happened to a friend of mine when she received chocolates the guy’s mother had given him that same day. Try to use your brain and think of a gift that hasn’t already been handed to you, she’s probably even dropped you a few hints.


6. Be a hater
Fair enough, you hate PDA. Don’t we all? But don’t make those around you who are proudly sporting red, receiving roses or handing out Valentine’s, feel guilty about their celebrations. If anything, you should be happy for them. Embrace this ridiculously cheesy holiday and make the best of it – or else you’re just wasting one more precious day on this earth. Think about it. (And we allllll know you think this is a Hallmark Holiday, it’s not clever anymore).

7. Propose
All of the ladies I’ve spoken to about the classic Valentine’s Day proposal have agreed that it’s a cliché. In my opinion, the element of surprise is key in a proposal…and there’s absolutely no way she’ll be shocked if it happens at Valentine’s Day dinner. Be patient and save it for a random Tuesday, she won’t know what hit her.

8. Buy lingerie
Speaking of cliché….
I’ve spoken out about this issue before in my last Man’s Digest, and in that article I stated the following: “If you’ve got a card and dinner to pair with your premeditated dessert, then this will pass for Valentine’s Day.” There you have it. If you plan on merely heading to La Senza and spending money that would otherwise go towards a lovely dinner, she’d much rather enjoy your company and some delicious food. Lastly, need I remind you the things you’ll have to consider once you’re there at the store? Size. Colour. Shape. Good luck to ya.

9. Plan a date when you’re not even dating
If you’ve only met a few times, you’ll likely scare her away with an extravagant Valentine’s Day date. Don’t get ahead of yourself. If you see each other the week before, bring up the concept if the topic arises and see how she reacts. By no means should you call someone up for a first date and suggest February 14th. I predict a hang-up.

10. See a horror movie
Yes, dinner and a movie is a great Valentine’s date. A little conversation and a little entertainment…and, ahh!!! A murder!! Blood!!! Ghosts!!! How. very. romantic. Talk her into seeing a gruesome movie any other night but this one. Best way to ruin the mood.

For those of you who are taken, remember that simplicity is more appreciated than you would think. Bring out your romantic side. No need for extravagance. Just plan ahead, show her you care, and be your charming self. She’s already into you anyway. See my guide to gift-giving if you’re searching for great ideas!
For those eligible bachelors out there, don’t forget about the sulking/hating. Treat yourself to a little celebration this Valentine’s Day, call your mom/sister/best friend and redefine romance.
In a nutshell, in this fast-paced world, we can all take a moment to breathe, enjoy each other’s company and tell someone we love them. Valentine’s Day gives us the excuse to do just that. xo

Man’s Digest: Gift-Giving

"You got me WHATTT?"

Besides endless Sex and the City reruns, the time it takes us to get all dolled up and ‘that time of the month’, I’d say the biggest struggle a man faces in a relationship is picking the perfect cadeaux for any given celebration. There are, of course, some men who are genius at this art, and to them, I say kudos. To you other boys who dread the thought of jolly old Saint Nicholas or the day your girlfriend begins to countdown to her birthday, and even that mark on the calendar indicating your anniversary, this postaroo is for you.

Here are 7 Gift Ideas that will have any woman smiling no matter the occasion: 

1. Concert Tickets
Even if your girlfriend isn’t music-obsessed like some of our nutshells, every woman has a favourite band or singer, and it’s worth a shot to check out tour dates and upcoming events. Plus, it’ll give you both something to look forward to in the future, and she’ll love the thought you put into it all. Plain and simple, this is a great gift.

2. A Day/Weekend Trip
In the end there’s nothing we want more than to spend time with you, and a romantic weekend away is the perfect excuse. A place like Le Nordik or Chateau Montebello are especially beautiful this time of year, and no material item will compare to those memories. If you don’t have the time or budget to allow for this kind of thing, even a hotel near home will give you that touch of extravagance and escape.

3. A Card & Dinner Plans
This is not your ordinary “Merry Christmas. Love you.” card. For this to give her just the right amount of butterflies, you’ve got to work for it. Put some thought into it, make a draft and think over the things you’d like to tell her. Most girls I know keep all of their greeting cards, and this one will be at the top of the pile. Include a little IOU to her favorite restaurant on a certain date, and then make sure you own up to it!

Cat's words get me every time.

4. Vintage Keepsakes
This one is dependent on your girlfriend’s hobbies and interests. If she loves fashion, dig around an antique store or eBay for vintage Vogue covers, they will make for great wall art, and she’ll remember the effort you put into finding them for years to come. If she loves music, find some antique records or an old record player; either of these will be a pleasant surprise, and she’ll have them forever. Other ideas are: a vintage sewing machine (for design/DIY lovers), an old polaroid or film camera or the first edition of her favorite novel.

5.  Perfume
If you’re afraid to buy the wrong one, make note of the bottles she already owns and bring the list to the department store. An employee will surely steer you in the right direction based on the notes she already loves, and she’ll think of you every time she spritzes it on. Read about each of our favorite perfumes here. 

6. A piece of jewelry (certain conditions apply)
This can be tricky. And there are a few circumstances to consider: 1) She eyes something while you two are shopping and you return later to pick it up – this will have her grinning for hours. 2) You invite her best friend on a little shopping trip to help you pick something out. She’ll actually love that you got her bestie involved and that you care enough to make sure it is bff-approved. 3) You got it alone. You either blow her away with your eye for bling… or you fail. You’ll only know you failed until a few months later when she hasn’t worn it since the night it was unwrapped.

The bracelet: perfect!

*Some sparkle advice:
– Take notice of whether she’s a gold or silver kind of girl. Stick to what she loves.
– A chain-link bracelet (like this or this) or a charm with a simple chain (like this or this) are usually safe bets.
– Sometimes the smallest stores have the best finds, and you’ll be giving her something she’s never seen before. Try antique or artsy jewelry stores.

7. Photo Albums/Frames
If you’ve just returned from a memorable trip, or you’re celebrating a milestone in your relationship, a photo book from iPhoto, Shutterfly or Picaboo is an amazing keepsake. These books are fully customizable if you have an idea in mind, or you can select from any theme and simply drag and drop your favorite moments. Read more about photo books here.  An enlarged and framed photo is also a great gift if a photo book seems like too much.



1. A ring
Boys, we dream of the cut, clarity and carat of that other life-changing ring, but we do not want to feel dread, excitement or shock when we’re handed a velvet box that contains a ring that is only meant to adorn our index finger. Just steer clear of that whole experience. It’s what’s best for you both.

2. Lingerie
Some girls may love this gift. But in my humble opinion, it seems like a bit of a selfish offering. If you’ve got a card and dinner to pair with your premeditated desert, then this will pass for Valentine’s Day.

3.  Household Equipment
This one’s for all those mom’s out there. I personally don’t have this problem yet but I know from first-hand experience that sons seems to think there mom’s are in need of these types of things. Yes, that broom is polka dotted and this soap smells very nice, but mom does not want to be reminded of her kitchen floors on Christmas morning. Lastly, any store with the words “Tire” or “Hardware” are not shopping hotspots for the women in your lives.

4. Excuses
“I have no money” or “I’m so busy these days, I didn’t have time” or “I left my gift at home”…all these things can very well be true, but they’re also inexcusable. There are plenty of great gift ideas that do not involve money, time, effort or a calendar. If you remember an event the day of, make it a point to come up with something (planning a weekend away takes just a few minutes online and you can decide on the date together). If you are short on money, try to make her something…developing a picture costs about 5 cents and an IOU for dinner can be contingent on your next paycheck. If you’re a busy guy, watch one less hockey game and I’m sure you’ll miraculously have some time on your hands.

In the end, us girls are all different and I’m sure you know your lady much better than I do, (unless you happen to be dating a nut!) but usually the simplest thought is the greatest gift of all and is unlike any large expense or extravagant purchase. Simply put, if you tailor any of the items on this list to your girl, I’d say you’ll pass with flying colors. Happy Shopping!

We also love sparklers...just sayin'.

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Man’s Digest: What NOT To Wear

So, I’m working away at my desk yesterday when a colleague excitedly comes over to me. We work in the city, and he’s spent his lunch-break in the department store next to our building doing a spot of shopping.  Dave (not his real name, but my favourite fake name) is digging around in his bag and pulls out a great white t-shirt….  Oh… wait…
it’s not a plain white v-neck t-shirt that’s tight around the chest and shoulders, but not too tight around the waist….  It’s a plain white round neck t-shirt that’s got a picture of a hot dog on it…  And not a hilarious novelty hot dog, but a badly focused photo of an actual hot dog.

Tastes Delicious. Looks Ridiculous.

He may as well have stapled an actual hot dog to a regular undershirt shirt. Gentlemen, point 1.  A v-neck t-shirt, if not overdone, is your friend. A round neck undershirt with pictures of food on it, is not.  You want a little v, that maybe just shows the edge of your collar-bone.  For my…hairier… comrades the trick here is that you don’t want to look like you are transitioning into a wolf-man.  A hint is ok, a thicket is not.

Frankly I think I belong in the era when getting dressed was something carefully planned and considered.  The problem with mens fashion today is that it’s too easy.  Jeans and a hockey or football jersey is the fashion equivalent of the microwave, and too many men today are risking salmonella.

This is when I should have lived. Back when men dressed with care. Sure they also died early from smoking related cancers after years of oppressing women, gays and black people, but they looked sharp.

So, following below are my tips for the modern day sartorially conscious man. I’ve even kept them reasonably simple… No Patricia Field type style suggestions, I promise.

1) Trousers
Not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line my fellow fellows forgot how to wear trousers.  And jeans.  And sweats. Hot tip boys – as surprising as it might be to you NO ONE wants to see your underwear.  Yes, even IF its your one pair of Calvin Kleins.  Mark Walhberg can pull it off…  You cannot.  BUT, equally NO ONE wants to see your Moose Knuckle (Google it…  you’ll regret it, but at least you won’t die wondering) Harry Highpants, your trousers should sit at the hip, not the sternum, and the cuff should sit at the bottom of your ankle, not the bottom of your foot.

2. High “Vis”
If you are a construction worker you MUST wear high visibility clothing, we get that.  In fact we applaud that.  We value your safety.  But unless you are attending a themed party, then the only ‘sight’ that your high vis should see, is the construction ‘site’. (See what I did there?)

3. Sweat Pants
Only with underwear.  Never without.  Also, for the gym and the house, never for the shops.

4. Runners and Dress Pants
Are you Jerry Seinfeld?  Is it 1997? No???  So then why the hell are you ruining your suit (and look) by teaming them with runners.  I have fallen arches, I get it….  it’s uncomfortable walking in your dress shoes…  but it’s also uncomfortable for
everyone around you to see you looking so foolish.  The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, dirtbag, put your shoes back on.

5.  The Wide Lapel
Not even Lou Bega pulled it off convincingly.  A medium lapel, with your shirt collar staying within the limits of your suit jackets says Modern Man.  A wide lapel, with an extra wide collared shirt pulled over the lapel says Mambo No. 5.

Lou Bega...come on.

 6. Ed Hardy
Was horrendous from the day a drunk vomited glitter and rhinestones onto a hat and thought it looked cool.  Then, like a weird ugly, bedazzled Gremlin it has spawned several million other pieces of apparel, all equally as horrendous.  Don’t let it into your
house, and certainly never… never… touch it.

Who might this guest be?
Located in Canberra, Australia, Simon Puckett is Inanutshell’s first international contributor. Simon is basically the best thing that happened to nutshell contributor, Meghan, in Europe…and she saw the Pope. He is the most witty and wonderful friend and writes a hillarious blog www.simon-thingsihateaboutyou.blogspot.comIf you enjoy Meghan’s Pet Peeves, you will undoubedtly love Simon’s hillarious take on the world!

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Man’s Digest: Work it Out II

Felix Hamel shares with us his realistic weight loss solution with before and after pictures to prove it. Read on to find out how you can incorporate some of his simple but necessary techniques into your lifestyle.

By Felix Hamel:

Below I have outlined my current workout; I like to workout early in the week so I can enjoy time off on the weekend but a good rest schedule is almost as important as the training schedule. Most people will prefer taking a rest day halfway through the week.
Monday: Chest and triceps workout with 30 minutes of cardio
Tuesday: Leg workout with 30 minutes cardio
Wednesday: Back and bicep workout with 30 minutes of cardio
Thursday: Shoulder workout with 30 minutes of cardio
Friday: Rest or cardio
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest or cardio

Cardio will usually consist of treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike but any type of cardio will offer results, the most important thing is to be able to consistently do cardio and switch up the routine if it starts getting boring. Continue reading

Man’s Digest: Work it Out

This month’s man’s digest is brought to you by our very first male guest blogger. Felix Hamel outlines an attainable way to shed unwanted pounds, his journey through an excercise routine and keeping the right mentality to see it through.

Although he's awesome, Rich doesn't quite have what it takes. . .

By Felix Hamel:

Everyone is always looking for the “miracle cure” whether it is for illnesses, ailments or the ultimate weight loss solution. These days it seems like everywhere you look there are temptations to eat unhealthy foods, yet anyone trying to sell diet plans will swear it is possible to still eat these foods and lose weight. Are these so called “miracle solutions” legitimate? It is unlikely, because every modern diet solution preaches an unsustainable lifestyle based on eating whatever you want in smaller portions or moderate amounts whilst replacing bad habits with healthier ones. Continue reading