Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Top Eight Gifts For The Holidays!

The best part about the holidays for me is the shopping. Okay, that sounds awful, doesn't it? Actually, that's not the best part. The best part is spending time with family, decorating the tree with my children, sipping hot chocolate by the fire place, and seeing my children's excitement grow as we get closer to Christmas. It's also about giving back.

I love how festive and beautiful everything is, the holiday parties, the cookies, the Bailey's, and yes, the shopping. Especially for my children, especially when they don't give me a list with impossible to find toys on it, and when they remember to stay within Santa's budget!

I also enjoy shopping for my mom, best friends, and my sister. Because that means whatever I find for them... I get for myself, too. (Wait.. .am I doing this wrong?)

Anyway, here are some great gift ideas for giving—or for receiving, hint, hint—this holiday season!

Loulou's Top Eight For Her:

Sephora Color Daze Blockbuster: This make-up palette has all the make-up you're going to need for a very long time. This expandable palette includes lots of your Sephora  favourites, in every colour you can imagine. The set contains 64 waterproof eye shadows, 12 cream eyeliners, 48 lip glosses, 3 blushes, 6 multi-purpose eye, cheek, or lip creams, 3 multi-purpose luminizers, 3 make-up brushes, and a partridge in a pear tree.


Tory Burch iphone case: My sister has asked for a new iphone case for Christmas, and since I'm a huge Tory Burch fan, I think this would make a great gift
for me for her, don't you? Best part? It's only $50!


Aqua Solid Wrap Scarf: I want this scarf in every colour! This time of year, my accessory of choice is a colourful scarf. This makes the perfect gift for almost anyone on your list, and it's only $58.



Dogeared Sterling Silver Whisper Cross Necklace: I keep coming back to this necklace because it's so delicate, pretty, and unique. This is a great gift to give a friend, and a great gift to buy yourself, too. I also love the elephant for good luck.



Nostalgia Electric Theater Style Stirring Popcorn Maker: Popcorn just happens to be my favourite snack, especially when I'm watching movies and TV shows in the comfort of my home. How fun would a girls night in be with popcorn, wine, and Homeland on TV? Pretty perfect if you ask me!  
 
Books: I have always loved receiving—and giving—books for the holidays. There's nothing I love more in a home than seeing bookcases filled with dozens of books. To me, books make a home, and that's why my children always get a few books for Christmas to add to their little library in their rooms. I love giving friends copies of my favourite books.


Canada Goose Hat: The name Canada Goose is very well known and very loved in Canada, and in any part of the world where it's cold. I'm not kididng when I say the vast majority of Canadian girls would prefer a Canada Goose coat over anything else for the holidays because they're stylish, and oh-so-warm! This cute hat makes a great gift and it's under $60, too.


Osolee Bracelet: I have a few Osolee bracelet's and I wear them every single day. And every day, I get a new compliment on them. I love the "India" Turquoise and Gold Wrap Bracelet so much it's hard to believe it's under $30. Seriously! Time to stock up, my friends.


Need more gift ideas? I've put together a guide to the best toys of the season for your kids!

Happy holiday shopping...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Will My Boys Remember?

The  memories of my childhood are still vivid in my mind. Pictures sometimes help bring back certain memories, as do certain scents, or places. My grandparent's apartment in Greece, a home-cooked meal by my mom that I loved to eat as a child, and the smell of my father's cologne all take me back, instantly.

I remember happy, carefree days, and of course, regular days of family dinners around the kitchen table and rushing to the family room to watch Today's Special. I remember favourite t-shirts, my old bed, eating chocolate chip ice cream for the first time with my great-grandmother in her backyard, and snuggles with my mom late at night.

I look at my children now and wonder what they'll remember when they look back to their childhood.

All the laughter?
The brotherly fights?
The tired sigh from their worried mother?

There is so much I want them to remember, and some things I would rather they forget. Like hospital visits, or when I yelled at them to go to bed.

I want them to remember a mom who would lay down beside them every single night until they fell asleep, a mom who read a dozen books before bed time because they were all requested.

I want them to remember parents who had some rules, but didn't live by them; I want them to remember the love, and the hugs and the kisses. I want them to remember the "I'm sorry, I love you" as soon as I would raise my voice.

I want them to rememember how much I loved them, even when they piled on top of me and almost broke my back.

I hope they remember how every morning I smothered them in kisses and hugs, no matter how tired I was.

I want them to remember how proud I was of them for the small things, like bringing their dirty dishes to the sink, and brushing their teeth, how even running towards the soccer ball without even coming close to scoring a goal made me jump up and down with happiness, while clapping my hands.

I want them to remember the day they sat on the stairs eating 24 little chocolates from the advent calender in 10 minutes and how I laughed with them, instead of scolding them.

I want them to remember the fun of travelling together, the joys of an airplane ride, and how I put on a brave face even though I was secretly suffering an anxiety attack in the air. I want them to remember the first time they swam in the ocean, and how happy they were with each sea shell they found.

I hope they remember when they had ice cream before dinner.

I want them to remember always feeling warm and cozy in bed because I would would wake up throughout the night to make sure they were still covered.

I want them to remember the car rides, the family road trips, the craziness, the laughter, and even the fights. After all, it's what makes us a family.

I want them to remember how every question asked was answered as honestly as possible, how much I loved to play at the park with them, and our evening walks after dinner in the summertime.

I hope they don't remember me always on my phone...

I wonder if they'll remember my threats to drive to the police station when they were misbehaving in the back seat of the car, or when I simply walked outside during one of their fights because I didn't want to hear them bickering anymore?

I hope they remember how happy they felt the days I was the volunteer in their classroom, and I hope they remember the happiness of running into my arms after school.

I want them to remember that even though I was not the greatest cook, every meal was prepared with love. (And maybe cooked a little too...extra well done.)

I want them to remember a childhood filled with wonderful, happy memories... of laughter, encouragement, and excitement. I want them to remember a mom who was always there, who said yes more than no, and who went with the flow.

I want them to always remember that they're my entire universe, always and forever.



I was inspired to write this post after reading a lovely, similar post over here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mastercard Delivers Black Friday Deals For Canadians at Saks and Bloomingdale's

I love that I'm Canadian, but I envy my friends south of the border sometimes. Especially on days like Black Friday. I'm a certified shopaholic, and to be able to take part in the shopping frenzy that goes on the day after Thanskgiving gets me excited. However, stores will be crazy busy, and even though you can score some amazing deals, who wants to spend all day waiting in line?

Imagine being able to shop these great deals, without having to deal with parking lot chaos, crazy line-ups, and people misbehaving? Well... here's a secret: We can! We can shop to our heart's content, and reap the benefits of the fabulous sales, only with a Canadian twist.


Hello, online shopping...

My friends at MasterCard have been working closely with top US retailers to deliver Black Friday deals to those of us north of the border. Deals like free express shopping from Saks, for instance. I know. It's almost too good to be true.

From Friday November 22 until December 10, MasterCard cardholders will receive amazing perks like free shipping, duty-free shopping, and incredible discounts at stores like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Macy's, Gilt, and other stores. It feels like an early holiday present, right?

From shoes to sparkling accessories to designer handbags and cashmere sweaters, you can shop all day long. Of course, there's also an amazing kids section at Saks, too...

The only problem is, now I'm having a hard time deciding what to buy with the MasterCard I was given to go shopping with!

At first, I was sure I wanted this bag from Marc Jacobs:


But then, this one from Tory Burch caught my eye...


And then I fell in love with this one...


Of course, I do need a new pair of Reva flats. And I already know how comfortable they'll be...
Or should I get these Fendi shades? I'm like a deer stuck in headlights. Too many fabulous choices!
So even though I'm not stuck in a parking lot for two hours I'm still experiencing some of the stress that comes with Black Friday shopping! Because, oh my God, decisions, you guys. This is not easy.

However, once you've made up your mind? Smooth sailing. Just pay with your MasterCard when you're checking out and use the promo code that's available online to take advantage of these deals. And then... exhale... you did it!

For more information on great deals, follow along on Twitter using the hash tag #ShopMasterCard.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. MasterCard gave me a prepaid MasterCard so I was able to take advantage of these amazing deals. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Tis The Season For Giving...

"Cherish every moment" were probably the wisest words of advice I received when I was pregnant. Looking at how big my boys are now, it's hard to remember that once upon a time, they were snuggled tightly in their blankets, sleeping peacefully in their cribs. There are so many amazing memories I have of my children as babies, and truthfully, they'll always be my babies, no matter how big they get.

There are definitely things I don't miss about the baby stage, though. Like the diapers. If you're a mom, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say it felt like half the day was spent just changing diapers... over and over again!

When I was pregnant for the first time, selecting all the things I needed for my baby registry was fun but a little stressful. The one item I was told to put on my list was the Diaper Genie. Once my baby was born, I made good use out of the Diaper Genie. It's no wonder the Playtex Diaper Genie is the best selling diaper disposal system—it does a great job of protecting against germs and diaper smells. It also has an easy-to-use foot pedal for hands-free disposal, 5-layer refill bags, and a double-clamp air-lock design that prevents odours from escaping. Pretty genius, if you ask me.

If you're expecting a baby, or if you have a friend who is pregnant, I have a gift for you.

I'm giving away 10 Diaper Genie's!

All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me why you would like a Diaper Genie. Will it be for you? For a friend? For a family member?

Perhaps you have a charity in mind you'd like to donate the Diaper Genie to? It's the season for giving, after all...

Good Luck! I will select 10 winners randomly on November 26th.



Disclosure: I was compensated for this post, and I received a Diaper Genie for review. (I donated my Diaper Genie to the Youville Centre in Ottawa, through a fundraiser at my children's school.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Whirlwind

Can you believe Christmas is literally around the corner? It's unreal how quickly November has flown by! I don't know about you, but this has been one of the busiests months ever. School events, red cups at Starbucks, dances, parent-teacher interviews, book fairs, events, dinners, art shows, TV appearances, doctor's appointments, work, life, laundry... the usual. But more. It's been a post-it notes everywhere kind of month.

My mom's limited edition print was launched at her art show last night at Koyman Galleries. CHEO CEO Alex Munter was there to talk about the importance of art in the hospital, and how the money made from this print will benefit the children. A personal friend of ours who is the head neurosurgeon at CHEO was also on hand to talk about the equipment that will be bought from the sales of this print.



From this one print (The Joys Of Youth) $25,000 will be going to CHEO. After all the prints are released, CHEO will receive $150,000. How amazing is that? I love seeing the Ottawa community get together, and last night, so many friends were in attendance at the show, supporting my mom and CHEO. I could not think of a more worthy cause. And if you're looking for a Christmas gift to give someone who loves art? This print would make a great addition to any home.

From gifts of art to... toys! I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today, talking about some of the hottest toys of the season for boys and girls. Here is my segment, in case you missed it, or want to see it.

It is always a blast being on the morning show. If you're looking for more great gift ideas for your boys and girls, check out my post on my shopping blog about the hottest toys for the holidays!

With Kelli, Stu, Crystal, and Erin this morning at CTV.

Phew... it's been a crazy busy (but totally fun) week.

I hope you all find some time this weekend to kick back and relax. And you know, get started on that holiday shopping!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Living In a Boy's World

My boys are four and a half and seven years old. They're best friends, and the more time they spend with one another, the more fun they have together. I hear them giggling, scheming, watching movies, dancing Gangham Style, and reading books in their bedrooms. It is awesome how close they are, and it's awesome that I can be in a different room now, folding laundry, knowing they're okay, playing together. Of course, boys will be boys, and I'll often have to break up a fun wrestling match about to turn bad. Moms just know the right time to step in, you know?

Having boys has taught me so much, and has opened my eyes to a whole new world (of anxiety.)

From construction vehicles to the world of  Minecraft and LEGO, I am immersed in the land of boys and I love it, even though my boys are also very hyper, eat like an adult football team, and don't always pick up after themselves. They're incredibly smart, and incredibly funny. They make me laugh constantly. As much as I teach them, they're teaching me, too, and every day is an adventure. They test my patience, they have turned me into a master negotiator, and they make me wake up at 6 a.m., whether I want to be up that early or not.

They have also taught me that I should never leave them alone outside with scotch tape.

Because this was the scene I stumbled across not too long ago:


Yup, that's right. Two boys left outside can lead to trouble, or you know, can lead to one brother taping up his little brother to a giant street light with some tape. Pretty tightly, too. At least there was laughter, and no tears.

I tell ya, I still haven't been able to take a perfect picture of them both looking at the camera and smiling, but these types of pictures? I've got tons of them. Shenanigans! Boys...

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