A Holiday Gift Guide of Things to Give & Receive


It seems like every blogger is doing holiday gift guides so…I thought why not? But I'm keeping it SUPER simple and sharing just one list. I was going to do three lists but then I got busy and it's already December 15th - so one list it is. I'm calling it A Holiday Gift Guide of Things to Give & Receive…because it includes things I would be more than happy to receive (and a few things I have my eyes on) as well as things I think would be lovely to give…in case you're like me and haven't really started your Christmas shopping yet and need a few ideas!

1) Roots | Palmoa Shawl ($74): I think this is lovely and would work basically all year round - I picture myself wearing it with some skinny jeans and my favourite booties. 
2) Sephora | Tom Ford Black Orchid ($75): Perfume is something I'm very picky about and this one is divine - it's been on my "to buy" list for ages. Gifting a lovely bottle of perfume is always nice - it feels a bit indulgent. 
3) Indigo | Kobo eReader ($79.99): Hands down one of my favourite purchases of 2014. If you're purchasing for a book lover who hasn't been reading as much as they'd like, an eReader solely for books, with no tablet feature, might be the trick. If they already have an eReader perhaps a gift card for some books so they can load it up - wink, wink.
4) Various Retailers | Magic Bullet ($49.99): In my opinion, making smoothies is so much easier than juicing. I have a knock-off bullet-eque blender but would love a magic bullet - would be great for someone in your life looking to eat better and get healthy in the new year. 
5) Spa Treatment ($$+): This time of year is crazy busy for me at work and in life in general…and I know I'm not the only one. Perhaps someone in your life would appreciate a bit of a spa day - or a simple spa treatment like a massage so they can just unwind and relax? Even a manicure and pedicure would be lovely to give - and receive! 
6) Bath & Body Works | 3-Wick Candles ($22.50): I know of very few people who don't love a beautiful smelling candle - and these ones really scent an entire room…or in my case, my entire apartment! My favourite scents, Twisted Peppermint and 'Tis The Season, are both seasonal - you've been warned! 
7) Origins | GinZing Scrub Cleanser ($19.50): I think it's always nice to give something that someone might not necessarily get for themselves. Much as I like to look at spendy skincare I purchase very wisely as I'm a touch frugal. I've been trying samples of the Origins line and, for the most part, it's been quite lovely. Products from the Kiehl's line, like the Ultra Facial Cream, would be another good one to gift. 
8) Herschel | Novel Duffle ($79.99): A great weekend duffle - who doesn't need one? Plus this one has a separate compartment for shoes. Fab! 
9) Indigo | Leather Passport Case ($35): Anyone in possession of a passport would love to have something nice to hold it in - me included. I so want to retire the free case that came with my passport photo. I'm fairly picky with passport cases and basically just want it to hold my passport and nothing else - so this one looks legit.

Other worthy mentions:

+ OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark and a good top coat like Seche Vite - great for those who like to do their own nails - and LPAD is one of my all-time favourite colours…so good.
+ My almost four year old niece is a mini book worm so I'll definitely be adding to her collection - I'm eager to gift her The Book With No Pictures and to read it with her.
+ I always enjoy going to see a good movie, as do most people?, so I think gift cards for two to the local theatre is always a guaranteed hit.
+ If your giftee has been really good this year and is a Breaking Bad lover and you feel like being a bit spendy then The Complete Series on DVD would be ah-mazing and would garner you major brownie points!

Happy Last Minute Shopping!

WHAT TO WATCH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON


Contrary to what might be popular belief, Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York aren't the only movies I watch at Christmas time…though they are the ones that I watch the most! Here are a few other Christmas movies I really enjoy.

+ Last Holiday
+ Elf
+ Four Christmases
+ Christmas With The Kranks
+ Trading Places | I don't know that this is a "Christmas" movie but it takes place at Christmas time so...

And despite hearing/reading about how Love Actually makes everyone's favourite Christmas movie list, it doesn't make mine. I just didn't see what the big deal was with it??

What are your favourite movies to watch during the holidays?

MY FIRST REAL CHRISTMAS TREE.




This year I debated whether or not I was actually going to put up a Christmas tree. It wasn't because I don't love Christmas or decorating for Christmas because I totally do. It's because I wasn't totally crazy about my tree; one I've had for about 5 years.  I purchased it on sale back in 2009 and while it was okay, I just was never fully thrilled with the shape. I've always envisioned the perfect tree as being nice and full in that perfectly pyramid-eque shape - you know what I'm talking about? Mine was a bit on the thin side...

Anyways, knowing I didn't love my old tree I decided I wouldn't put it up this year and instead would decorate the many plants I have around my ornament. That would do it, right?

No. No, it didn't. While I like seeing the ornaments hanging off of my fiddle leaf fig, it wasn't quite the same thing. So I decided maybe I'd get a small table top tree. But when I was checking them out I noticed they were just a bit cheaper than what I'd typically spend on a (fake) tree, so I started looking at getting a new fake tree. And then I noticed that many places are selling real trees for only $20. Much less than fake trees…so I thought, why not?

I've kinda always wanted a real tree. I don't exactly know why; I just always have - even though I don't like the smell of pine. Growing up we never had a real tree…no big deal - I'm not complaining…we just didn't and that was normal…I don't think when I was growing up I even really thought about real vs fake. But as an adult, I've always wanted to have a real tree. At least once.

So I bought one.

Well, first I googled everything there is to know about picking a good tree and how to take care of one and then I bought one.

And I'm totally obsessed and in love with it. It's perfect.

Dare I say, I don't think I'll go fake again.

I loved the entire process of getting a real tree; of picking just the right one out - which is a bit hard when they are tied up. Getting it into the car by myself. Yes, I transported it home in my car...I got it inside and Howard and I took a selfie with it. I borrowed my neighbours hand saw to cut off about 3 inches of the bottom so it could drink up all the water I'll be giving it. I set it up in the stand I bought for $10. Then I snipped of the string holding it together not sure what to expect and it was perfect. The branches immediately dropped and there it was in all its glory - complete with that full pyramid-esque shape. And right after putting it up, almost as if on cue, Home Alone 2 came on TV. You all know how I fell about Home Alone...


I've read all about how sweeping up dropping needless can be a pain but it seriously hasn't been bad...I don't mind a few needles on the ground and have only swept up once since bringing it home almost a week ago. It also, thank goodness, doesn't have a strong smell…or any smell actually. And I'm really happy about that.

I've decorated it fairly simply. Just some clear lights and some gold and red balls in different sizes and different textures - some a flat matte, some shiny and reflective, and some covered in glitter. In lieu of a "proper" tree topper, I have small light weight wooden ornaments at the top that read: noel, hope, and peace.

It really is kinda perfect.

#realtreeforthewin

#OOAKX14


After work today a friend and I headed over to the One Of A Kind Show for a quick looksie to see what we could find. For those of you who don't know, OOAK is a semi-annual show (spring & winter) that features over 800 artisans who come from all over Canada to sell their products. There's everything from food to ceramics to clothing, jewelry, paper goods, art, and everything in-between. I've gone twice before (and blogged one of those visits here) so I was really looking forward to checking it out again. 800 vendors is overwhelming so here are some of my highlights in case you plan on visiting before the show ends on December 7.  And yes, the majority are food related. Perhaps I was hungry?

+ Edna's Pickles / I remembered this vendor from my first visit where I sampled the delicious Hot Eggplant chutney but for some reason didn't buy it. I didn't make that mistake this time. I picked up the Hot Eggplant which has a nice spicy but enjoyable kick as well as the Sweet Mango Mash which doesn't have any heat at all and is just sweet and yummy. I can't wait to pair these up with different things in the coming weeks.

+ Little Shop of Lobster / Both times I've been to OOAK this vendor has had a bunch of people sampling at their booth…a good sign? Turns out it is. Their crab mousse (dip?) and lobster mousse (dip?) are so creamy and yummy and good. I slightly preferred the crab mousse but the small size was sold out so I went for the lobster. The small jar probably won't last very long..which is slightly annoying given that it costs $11 (or was it $12?) but whatevs. It's delish.

+ Sweet Truth Toffee / This is another one that I sampled at one of my earlier visits but for some reason didn't buy it at the time…I think at the time I said it was "too dangerous" and did my best to walk away. Well, this time I couldn't walk away. And yes, this stuff is still dangerous. Dangerous as in you could probably eat the entire can in one sitting. It's probably the best toffee I've ever had. It's not that hard toffee that could like, break your teeth. It's nice and buttery and crunchy and just so so good. It was a toss up between Original Almond Butter, Sweet Lemon Butter, and White Chocolate Cashews and Cranberries - I went with the White Chocolate Cashew Cranberry one. It'll probably be done before the end of the weekend. Seriously.

+ Smells Like Canada / This booth immediately caught my eye because I loved the design and "feel" of it - it had this kinda simple, modern, woodsy feel and was just really well put together. But booth design aside, their candles had the loveliest scents and the hand salves were so moisturizing (and smelled good too!). Plus they had really clever names like Up North S'mores, Toronto Smoke, Red Deer Rose, and Double Double (and yes the Double Double smelled like coffee!). I was content to just look as my friend debated on some purchases but as we were leaving the show my friend surprised me with a travel sized hand salve and it's just lovely.

+ Atelier Make / Another booth that caught my eye with it's simple and thoughtful design. The ceramic pieces are so delicate and pretty and I especially loved the pieces with a touch of gold. Really, anything from this booth we be a lovely little gift for self or for a loved one.

It goes without saying that this is just a highlight of some of the vendors that caught my eye. There were a few others I forgot to get a card for and so have forgotten the names…my bad. I'd say the show is worth checking out if you're in the city…despite the $14 entry fee and $14 parking fee (though the day I visited had free parking!). Perhaps car pool with a few friends and split the cost of parking?

Have a great weekend…and if you attend the show I'd love to hear who some of you favourite vendors are!

MANDATORY: QUEEN HELENE MINT JULEP NATURAL FACIAL SCRUB


I discovered the Queen Helene line of products about two years ago when someone I followed on instagram shared a photo of themselves wear the masque and the resulting commenters raved about how much they loved the line and how affordable it was. Effective and affordable? Yes.

I've used other exfoliating scrubs in the past but for the last two years Queen Helen's Mint Julep Natural Facial Scrub has been my go-to. My mandatory. I love it and largely attribute it to why my skin has been virtually blemish and zit free for the past two years. I use it almost daily, in the evenings, and just a little nickel size goes a long way; one tube lasts me maybe 4-5 months. I slightly dampen my skin and apply it in a circular motion. I work it in for 30 seconds before rinsing off and my skin feels clean...even if I've been outside all day. I sometimes worry what if it's discontinued and then plot how I would stock pile as many tubes as I could so I'd never have to go without it. I buy it at Sally's but perhaps it's available other places too? Bonus? It's like, $6. So good.

+MANDATORY is a new on-going series where I share products/items that I absolutely love and would rather not have to go without.