Thai couple Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat make a new world record for longest continuous kiss at 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds during an event n Pattaya, southeastern Thailand on Feb. 14.
Narong Sangnak / EPA
Ekkachai Tiranarat kisses his wife Laksana during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record time for longest continuous kiss in Thailand on Valentine's Day. The Laksanas were eventually successful by beating nine other married couples with a time of 58:35:58.
Narong Sangnak / EPA
Ekkachai Tiranarat and his wife Laksana cry after they achieved the new world record for the longest continuous kiss.
After 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds, Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat of Thailand were the last couple still kissing -- beating the competition and holding the new Guinness World Record for world’s longest continuous kiss.
You can make your love last past Valentine's Day by following these tips.
By Meena Hart Duerson, TODAY
While love is always in the air around this time of year, couples can struggle with how to keep the romance alive the other 364 days.
“For couples that have been together for a while, I would suggest they remember that it was probably a lot of small things that got them together, like notes and phone calls or texts that say, ‘I’m interested in you, and you are on my mind,’ so never stop doing these things," said therapist Darren Wilk of the Gottman Institute, also known as the "Love Lab." "After children come along and life’s responsibilities take over, there is a massive shift in couples to focus on the big stuff and this is why only 33% of the couples are still happy and feel connected. They forget to keep doing the things that got them together.”
The Love Lab's leader, Dr. John Gottman, and his researchers have studied thousands of couples over 40 years, from newlyweds to people in long-term marriages, and he says he can predict with 90% accuracy within the first three minutes of meeting a couple whether their relationship will make it or not. Here are the behaviors he and his researchers have isolated that make the difference between breaking up and going the distance:
1. Start strong to stay together
“Couples starting out must realize that how they start their relationship can predict how they finish," Wilk said. "They are making a long-term investment but do not even know it. Eventually their relationship will rely on these early memories to get them through tough times later on." If you're in a new relationship, get to know your partner now by asking lots of questions.
2. It's OK to fight, but you have to be friends
"In my research, I found that 69% of the time, couples fight about perpetual issues in the relationship that never get resolved. That's OK!" Gottman wrote in a Facebook post. "What matters is not solving these problems, but the affect around which they are discussed." That means even if you're in a disagreement, try to communicate with humor, affection, and acceptance. If things really get heated, take a 20-minute break — that's how much time you need to calm down.
3. The magic numbers are 5:1
Gottman found that of the couples he observed, the most stable relationships had a ratio of five positive interactions to every negative one. That 5:1 ratio is a key indication that a marriage will last — Gottman saw that more negative interactions were more likely to lead to divorce. "Maintain this ratio of positivity during an argument by avoiding the following three statements completely: you never, you always, and anything insulting or superior," he advises.
4. Turn to each other
Couples who look to each other for support, in what Gottman calls making "bids" for their partner's attention and affection, form stronger bonds than those who don't. "In one particular study, I found that newlyweds who were still married six years after their wedding had turned towards each other 86% of the times while in the lab," Gottman writes. "Those who were divorced six years later, however, had only turned towards each other 33% of the time." To maximize your emotional connection, don't take the little things for granted. "It is my philosophy that the small things done often make the most difference in a relationship."
5. Stay positive
“It’s a choice to really cherish your partner, and if your partner really is the right person for you, you have to actively cherish your partner’s positive qualities and think in your mind how fortunate you are to have this person in your life," he advises. "If both people do that with one another, then a relationship can last forever.”
Bake vegan peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for your Valentine.
By Lisa Granshaw, TODAY contributor
Our favorite thing about Valentine's Day? Spoiling our significant others with delicious desserts, from boxes of chocolate to tasty homemade treats baked with love. And even if your sweetie is vegan, they don't have to miss out on the tasty fun!
With more alternatives for milk and eggs readily available, it's easy to bake up vegan treats.
“It’s healthier cooking with whole plant foods instead of animal products and it doesn’t contribute to animal suffering," Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, told TODAY.com. "You don’t have to worry about the issue of how it [the product] was raised.”
So try these vegan recipes to please your Valentine's sweet tooth, without sacrificing the decadence of dessert.
You won't be sacrificing taste by going vegan with these peanut butter cups.
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar, packed light brown sugar, or sifted powdered sugar (for less crunchy results)
2 tablespoons vegan graham cracker crumbs (optional)
Pinch of salt
Prepare a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
To make the chocolate: Combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute increments until melted and smooth, keeping a close eye to avoid burning and stirring often. Alternatively, use a double boiler.
Place 2 teaspoons of the melted chocolate in each cup-cake liner and with the back of a spoon carefully spread across the bottom and one-fourth of the way up the liner. Repeat with all 12 liners. Place the chocolate-covered liners on a plate and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium-size bowl, stir together the peanut butter, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and salt.
Divide the peanut butter filling among the 12 liners, about 1 heaping tablespoon per liner, pressing down gently to make sure the filling spreads out. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.
Top the filling with 2 teaspoons of the remaining melted chocolate, spreading carefully so that none of the peanut butter can be seen. Let the cups chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before enjoying.
Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Yields 12 candies.
Recipe courtesy of Farm Sanctuary. From "Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites," Celine Steen, Joni Marie Newman, Fair Winds Press 2011.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl or bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until well mixed and soft. Add vanilla extract, peanut butter, maple syrup, sea salt, egg replacer and cinnamon. Mix until all ingredients are uniform.
Add flour and oats. Mix until all ingredients look evenly distributed. Fold in chocolate chips. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (or use cooking spray). Scoop the dough with a tablespoon for even-sized cookies. Place about 1 inch apart.
Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through, to ensure even baking. Bake until edges are golden-brown.
Yields about 16 cookies.
Recipe courtesy of Farm Sanctuary and Spork Foods, a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg.
Prasit Rangsiyawong, 29, kisses his bride Varuttaon Rangsiyawong, 27, during a wedding ceremony ahead of Valentine's Day in Prachin Buri province, east of Bangkok on Feb. 13. Three Thai couples took part in the wedding ceremony arranged by a Thai resort, aimed at strengthening the relationships of the couples by doing fun activities.
Prasit Rangsiyawong, 29, and his bride Varuttaon Rangsiyawong, 27, jump in a pond during a wedding ceremony ahead of Valentine's Day in Prachin Buri province, east of Bangkok on Feb. 13.
By Jonathan Sanger, Associate Multimedia Producer, NBC News
Most couples are happy when their wedding goes according to plan. Some Thai couples, though, look for a day full of the unexpected. A day before Valentine’s Day, three Thai couples took part in an adventurous wedding ceremony that involved being chased by pirates, dangling from cables, and falling into water.
Chutima Imsuntear, 37, falls as she runs with Sopon Sapaotong, 41, during a wedding ceremony ahead of Valentine's Day in Prachin Buri province, east of Bangkok on Feb. 13.
Sorawich Changtor, left, 28, and Rungnapa Panla, 30, run to escape a man dressed as a pirate as other couples look on during a wedding ceremony ahead of Valentine's Day in Prachin Buri province, east of Bangkok on Feb. 13.
We asked TODAY viewers to define love as a Valentine’s Day kickoff. Their responses — through photos and words via #ValentinesTODAY and #LoveIs hashtags — have gotten us in a lovey-dovey mood for the chocolate- and card-filled holiday.
Whether the love was attributed to a spouse, a canine or a hot dog from a New York street vendor, the responses were fantastic.
Celebrities and guests even had the chance to wax poetic behind the scenes at the TODAY photo booth this week. Josh Duhamel quoted Wikipedia, swimsuit-clad Sports Illustrated models encouraged unyielding support and Jenna Bush Hager thought first of her cat Bernie (and her family, of course!).
Feeling inspired? Take a look at what viewers have to say about love:
Amy Webb 'hacked' online dating to meet her perfect match, her husband Brian.
By Meena Hart Duerson, TODAY
Looking to meet your valentine online? The secret to finding love in the digital world may be more scientific than you think. “Data, A Love Story,” a new memoir from author and digital strategy consultant Amy Webb, offers what seems like the holy grail to frustrated daters: a formula for cutting through all the bad dates to skip to the optimal mate.
Webb was a successful, career-driven single woman, but found herself striking out in love — both in the real world, where she spent too long in relationships with men who were all wrong for her, and online, where she went on a series of nightmare first dates before nearly giving up on the whole proposition.
So she took her search to the next level, "hacking" the system to figure out what she was doing wrong. First she reverse-engineered the process by creating 10 profiles as men – inventing doctors, lawyers and high-achievers to scope out her competition. She then took copious notes on how the women on the site presented themselves and communicated with these male profiles, gathering piles of data on what worked best.
While it wasn’t the most scientific of experiments, Webb managed to develop a strategy she thinks will help other daters. After all, she’s had 100 percent success with it so far: After creating her system, the first date that passed her new test turned out to be her future husband.
Step 1: Make a list — and stick to it
“Online dating sites are excellent places to find casual and serious long-term relationships, but only if you have a plan first,” Webb told TODAY.com. “I don't advocate crunching numbers like I did, but I do strongly recommend that you start off with a list. What, exactly, are you looking for in a partner? Be extremely specific, even when it feels embarrassing...If having someone who's three inches taller than you is important, for whatever reason, then write that down. If you absolutely cannot stand cats, write that down, too. Don't self-edit.”
Once you have your criteria in place, use it to weed out people who don't make the cut. "Come up with a system to evaluate any potential future dates," Webb says. This way, you won't waste time with anyone who wouldn't be a good match.
Mary C. Gardella / Courtesy Amy Webb
Amy Webb and her husband Brian met online.
Step 2: Create your own "super profile"
You can't find your soul mate if you're attracting the wrong people. Webb's research made her realize she was ending up with losers because she was putting out the wrong signals, by doing things like posting her entire resume as her dating profile instead of a few fun tidbits about herself. "I'm not suggesting you dumb yourself down," she writes in the book, but "your online profile isn't the place to show off your near perfect SAT score." On that note, here are her tricks for putting your best foot forward:
*Keep your profile short, about 90-100 words (three sentences), and use vocabulary that's "aspirational, positive and optimistic" *Post three to five flattering pictures of yourself where you're the only one in the frame *Don't talk about yourself in the third person *Wait to talk about your job until you end up on an in-person date *Don't lie about your physical appearance
Step 3: Start dating!
Being single this Valentine's Day could be the best thing that's happened to your dating life, Webb says, because you can take the opportunity to get organized.
“I know it's rough to face Valentine's Day, and that a lot of people will ultimately wind up on bad dates feeling even worse than had they stayed at home alone watching a great movie,” Webb says. “While you can't turn a blind eye to all the pink and red hearts festooning storefront windows, you can decide to dedicate this year's V-Day to yourself...Thursday night, pour yourself a big glass of wine (or your drink of choice) and dedicate the evening to writing out a list of what you want in a partner. Make a scoring system. Then resolve to honor your list before you log back on to the dating site you're using.”
Another option is to round up your single friends and do it together. “I've been getting a lot of email and tweets from people who've read my book saying that they're hosting 'list parties' on Valentine's Day," Webb says. "Groups of single friends are getting together, writing out lists like I did, and then sharing them with each other for ideas on how to score the traits. That's a great way for online daters to feel empowered and excited – rather than despondent – on Valentine's Day.”
"Data, a Love Story" is the memoir of how one woman "gamed" online dating to find her husband.
PIzza Hut changed the formula for their Eau de Pizza Hut, and are giving away bottles for Valentine's Day.
By Tracy Saelinger, TODAY contributor
If the smell from that pizza box sitting on the front seat drives you wild, start dropping hints to your sweetie: Pizza Hut is giving away its new Eau de Pizza Hut cologne in time for Valentine’s Day.
The scent actually began as a joke on the company’s Facebook fan page in Canada, as TODAY.com reported in December, but the company soon produced a prototype.
Pizza Hut Canada’s scent started off sweeter — more doughy — but the new version, available for the first time in the U.S. this week, is move savory, with a “base scent of freshly rising dough” and finishes of “oregano, vine-ripened tomato sauce and crisp fresh-sliced vegetables” with “wafts of cheesy goodness,” Chris Fuller, a spokesperson for the company, told TODAY.com.
The fragrance is not yet available for purchase. “We’d rather sell the real deal,” Fuller joked — though the company is evaluating demand. In the meantime, Pizza Hut is giving away 72 bottles of the stuff this week via a Twitter contest. To try to get your hands on one, tweet your most impassioned plea to the company by Wednesday using the hashtag #lastminutelovers. Winners will receive a $20 gift card as well as a bottle of Eau de Pizza Hut. Aphrodisiac effect not guaranteed.
To make the scent, designers at Aromachology in New York City, a custom-perfume bar, ordered tons of pizza and took samples of the fragrance out on the street to make sure they had it right, said co-founder Ashlee Firsten. Even the most die-hard pizza fans in the office had to swear off pies for a few weeks, she said.
The pizza cologne is just the latest example of a larger “ambient scenting” trend, explained fragrance expert Sue Phillips, founder and president of Scenterprises. Supermarkets, malls and hotels are pumping food smells into the air more and more, she says; her company recently created a roast turkey aroma that wafted into deli aisles.
And let’s not forget, there was that Whopper-scented body spray that Burger King put out a few years back. It’s all part of the plan to get us to open our wallets, Phillips added. “It’s that Pavlovian dog syndrome.”
But guys, before you douse yourself in Eau de Pizza Hut on Thursday, you may want to listen to Tony Gemignani, the 11-time world pizza-throwing champion and owner of four California pizzerias.
“I’ve come home from work smelling like pizza every day for 22 years,” he said, “and my wife always complains.”
Three days before Valentine's Day, Florida woman Melissa DeGeso-Jones donated a kidney to her husband, James Jones, who was suffering from renal failure.
By Scott Stump, TODAY contributor
Three days before Valentine’s Day, a Florida woman gave her husband the most special gift of all – life.
On Monday, Melissa DeGeso-Jones had her kidney transplanted at Florida Hospital in Orlando to her husband, James Jones, who has been suffering from renal failure.
"(I’m) giving as much love as I have," DeGeso-Jones told Orlando’s News 13 before the surgery. "It's completely from my heart. James has said things to me about it being a huge sacrifice, and I said, 'It's not; it's an investment. This is our life. It's not just your life that I'm giving, too. There can't be an ‘us’ without it.' So, that's what it's about."
If I know anything about Valentine's Day, it's that handmade gifts are much more meaningful than anything you can buy at the store.
If you want a surefire way to leave your Valentine in stitches, then it's time to try your hand at a cross-stitched Valentine's card! This is one project that's much simpler than it looks – perfect for both the amateur DIY'er and expert crafter.
Need a last-minute gift? Make your loved ones feel extra special with DIY Valentine's Day cards.
Red embroidery floss
Directions: First, print out your heart template (available here). Tape it on your card and use a push pin to poke holes through the black dots on the front side of the card. Then, take your needle and embroidery floss and start stitching! Pull the needle through the holes you've made, and create a series of X-shaped stitches, also known as cross-stitches.
Tie a knot on the inside of the card when you've reached the end, and you're done! Wasn't that easy?
'Like' it! If you want to take your stitching to another level, try creating a matching Valentine's gift box, too! Inspired by the Facebook "like" button, this box is a cute way to tell that special someone you really, really "like" them.
Red embroidery floss
Directions: Print out the "like" template (available here) and tape to your box. Like you did with the cross-stitch card, use a push pin or needle to poke holes through the box around the outline of each letter. Now start stitching back and forth, tying knots when you're done with each letter.
And that's a wrap! Within minutes, you've now got a couple of cute and simple ways to give goodies to the ones you love... erR, like.
Want to see more DIY Valentine's Day tutorials? Check out Brit's wrap up on Brit + Co.
Ah, Valentine's Day! It's the most romantic event ever concocted by the greeting card industry. While the cliché would have it that it's a time when droves of husbands and boyfriends descend on jewelry, candy, and flower shops, Google has a different take: Searches for "gifts for boyfriend" outpaced "gifts for girlfriend" by over 240 percent in the last 30 days. Similarly, searches for "gifts for husband" were made 39 percent more often than "gifts for wife."
What's afoot here? Are the ladies really doing more of the work of keeping love alive? Or is there simply an asymmetry in the sexes' shopping approaches? One would think that most of the fellas would take advantage of the Internet and research the ideal trinkets for the objects of their affections, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
That said, love is certainly in the air. Searches for "how to break up" and "divorce" have fallen by 15 percent and 41 percent, respectively, going from 2012 to 2013, says Google. Additionally, searches for "how to propose" jumped up by 66 percent in the last 30 days — California, New York, and Texas saw the highest increases in those searches — and that's been accompanied by a 13 percent increase in queries for "jewelry."
In other Valentine's Day news, "heart shaped cake" searches are up 4,900 percent in the last week. So if you can't find love this Thursday, at least you may get a slice of leftover cake.
Want more tech news or interesting links? You'll get plenty of both if you keep up with Rosa Golijan, the writer of this post, by following her on Twitter, subscribing to her Facebook posts, or circling her on Google+.
It's not too late to plan a perfect Valentine's Day.
By Meena Hart Duerson, TODAY
So, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and you’ve got nothing: You haven’t come up with a gift or made dinner reservations, and you forgot to order flowers. Have no fear! The perfect Valentine’s Day is still within reach. Here are some tips for how to salvage a romantic night.
1. Get on the same page. "The biggest mistake couples make is waiting until the last minute to talk about Valentine's Day," dating guru Chiara Atik of the website HowAboutWe told TODAY.com. "What often ends up happening is that one person assumes they'll be going out, the other assumes they'll do something low-key, or they each assume the other person is planning it. TALK ABOUT VALENTINE'S DAY BEFORE HAND."
2. The food. It’s OK if you missed the boat on booking a trendy table for two; nothing wins over a date quite like a romantic home-cooked meal. However, now is not the time to experiment with the most extravagant recipe – stick to something simple. Try these foolproof classics from the TODAY archives:
Giada De Laurentiis cooks up a romantic pasta topped with beef, smoked almonds and basil – perfect for your Valentine's Day dinner.
Most importantly, do NOT turn this meal into a stressful experience — if cooking's not your thing, order take-out from your date's favorite restaurant. "What makes Valentine's Day romantic isn't the setting, or the gifts," Atik says, "it's spending time with each other, and taking an evening to really show how much you value one another."
3. Flowers: Roses are red, violets are blue, and picking up flowers is so easy, your Valentine will be thrilled if you do. If you act right this second you could still place an order online, but if you miss the delivery deadline head to your local florist (sites like Foursquare's Valentine's Day Guide can help you find one in your area), armed with these tips for how to snag the best deal.
And remember: You don’t have to stick to a traditional bouquet of red roses (especially if you waited too long and the selection is picked over). Surprise your date with something beautiful and unexpected, like tulips or an orchid — or try a flower delivery subscription service like H. Bloom to keep the romance going after February 14.
4. Gifts: Admit it: You blanked on the big day, and now you're starting to feel panicked. Don't just rush out and buy a random gift; you still have time to put together something thoughtful:
Carley Knobloch from Digitwirl shows off a variety of tech gifts, apps and websites that you can use to keep your love hot for Valentine's Day.
But don't blow your budget just because it's a holiday. "Don't spend crazy amounts of money on one elaborate date," Atik says. "Taking time to regularly spend time together and celebrate your relationship, however modestly, is ultimately much more romantic than one big (forced) blowout." A handwritten card expressing your love goes a long way.
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be sad if you're single. It just means there's more food for you!
By Adina Kalish Neufield, TODAY contributor
For many, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to go out for a fancy dinner. For others, it’s just another reminder that they’re still single. But who says the two have to be mutually exclusive? Instead of sitting home on the couch drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice cream, give yourself a night out on the town complete with a meal that’s worthy of your sophisticated palate and all ‘round excellence.
With more restaurants embracing the communal dining trend putting extra long butcher-block tables front and center, solo dining is no longer taboo. Still, for those who are a bit more traditional or simply want their own space, we’ll admit, some restaurants cater to lone patrons better than others.
Either way, whether you’re on business in a new city or simply not afraid to break out “table for one” with gusto in your own town, we’ve scoured the map for a few eateries in which you’ll be proud to dine alone.
Simply observing the mastery that goes on in the open kitchen of Sable Kitchen & Bar Chicago will keep you plenty distracted while sitting alone, but you’ll also have fun perusing the diverse menu, too. Solo diners will be pleased to know they can order smaller versions of Sable’s most popular plates such as bacon wrapped dates, housemade beef jerky, ranch truffle butter burgers or New England lobster rolls without splurging. One more reason to love Chef Heather Terhune: She even shares her recipes.
Courtesy of Saen Mullix Photography
Sable's short rib sliders with root beer glaze. One for you, another one for…you.
Surround yourself with a cornucopia of delectable dips at the Persian oasis, Rumi’s Kitchen in Atlanta and you won’t even care if someone sits next to you. The newly designed restaurant features an open Mediterranean inspired kitchen, plenty of seating and a tranquil atmosphere that keeps you from feeling rushed. Solo diners can easily fill their plates with starters including Rumi’s famous dolmeh (ground beef, rice and mixed herbs wrapped in grape leaves and simmered in pomegranate sauce) or a variety of eggplant, garlic, yogurt and spice dips served with fresh, hot pilowy pita. Tender lamb and chicken kabobs or koobediah (ground chuck wrapped in flatbread) come with your choice of saffron basmati rice or rice with cherries, with enough piled on your plate to brown bag lunch for the entire week.
Channel your inner Descartes by grabbing a seat at Raoul’s in New York City and a goblet of Pinot Noir. Between the Euro-boho atmosphere and eclectic art gallery, you can easily lose yourself for a few hours taking it all in. Steak tartar and warm octopus salad are succulent and tasty any day of the week, but for a special night out, pricey as it may be, treat yourself to the Colorado grilled rack of lamb and a side of crispy pomme frites. Don’t forget to save room for the banana coconut bread or sticky fig puddings for dessert. C’mon, you know you’re worth it.
One could easily argue that the communal nature of the sushi bar was intended for the solo diner. Still, when you find one that stands out for the atmosphere as well as the food, it’s worth noting. So we’ll give a special shout out to Sugarfishin DowntownLos Angeles. For just under $20, we highly recommend the “Trust Me Lite” special which includes organic edamame, tuna sashimi, one piece of albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi and nozawa shrimp sushi, plus a toro hand roll. Grab a spot at the spacious bar or linger longer in the comfy booths. Sugarfish doesn’t take reservations so you won’t be competing with couples who’ve had their Saturday nights planned for weeks.
You’ll get the most out of your solo dining experience at OLA Miami if you step outside of your comfort zone, sit at the bar (and yes, that means putting your book/phone away) and just see what happens. Prepare to dive right into the ceviche as well as the cast of characters who sit next to you (or chat it up with the bartender). You’ll fall in love with the wahoo ceviche with watermelon juice, fois gras empanada or the plantain crusted mahi. Of course no Miami culinary experience is complete without OLA’s deconstructed key lime pie.
If there’s ever a time to brunch alone, it’s at Revel Seattle, because you’ll want to keep a plate of bacon, hazelnut and pickled pear doughnuts all to yourself. The black currant porridge is also a treat, or, if you’re more traditional, go with the two eggs, bacon and scallion potato hash. Reservations aren’t taken for parties less than six, so you’ll be in line with the rest of ‘em the morning after your fabulous date with…yourself.
Still not in love with solo dining despite our venerable recommendations? Hey, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a woman, check outInviteforabite.com, a website created with the business traveler in mind, to allow solo female diners to meet up with other solo (female) diners anywhere in the world (sorry, guys). Or, check out grubwithus.com, an experience (available in select cities only) for solo diners who pre-pay for a meal and get a ticket to a specific restaurant to meet other diners.