Monday, April 25, 2016

Taking the plunge: a mission to embrace dreaded bathing suit season


What would I rather do than wear a bathing suit in public?  

I would rather have day-long dental surgery without anesthetic.

I would rather have a pap-smear from a swarthy looking male medical student on day 1 of his residency.

I would rather clean up stomach-flu from an airport washroom.

I think you get the point.  I would rather do anything than expose my white, pasty, thrice-pregnant, veiny, Mom-bod in public, whilst wearing what amounts to a spandex bra and undies.  Ewww.  I just threw-up in my mouth thinking about it.  There's nothing worse for many of us, than bathing suit season.  Thank god I don't live in a tropical country.  In fact, one quick search on Ancestry.com reveals that I descend from a long-line of insufferable female prudes who migrated further and further north over the centuries in search colder climes where head-to-toe apparel was required for at least 10 months of the year.  Don't even get me started on shorts!  Anyway, I digress...

My swimsuit phobias began somewhere around age 10 when a girl begins to realize that soon she will become a woman.  Insecurities and self-awareness burst on the scene faster than Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch doing back-flips in a music video. I had a new above-ground pool with a strategically tiered deck that gave the illusion of an in-ground pool, yet still 6 feet above ground so all surrounding neighbours could see. It was my summer playground.  I also had a white (emphasis on the white) Tweety Bird bathing suit, one-piece, full coverage...or so it seemed when the fabric was dry...  I think you know where this story ends and it's pretty transparent (pun fully intended).  Lesson: Never buy, wear or support any company that manufactures white bathing suits...cruel, sick, pervs.

"Yo - that Tweety Bird suit is whack girl!"
It took a full 8-years for me to muster up the courage to wear a bathing suit in front of others and this time it was when a bunch of friends went up to spend the weekend at my, then boyfriend's, cottage.  Surely, I would have to go into the water at some point.  Unlike today's trampy teens who cheerfully flaunt about in two bandaids and a piece of neon dental-floss, two-piece bathing suits were on the fringe for us suburban girls in those days.  On the one hand, I wanted to fit in and look cool, on the other hand, I wanted to hide behind a boathouse tarp for 48 hours and hope that nobody noticed I was missing.  In the end, I went into a fancy swimwear shop and spent a full pay-cheque from my part-time gig at Sears on a designer bikini that featured special hyper-colour fabric (remember that stupid technology? Where the hot or cold spots on your body changed the colour of the fabric?).  Let's just say, that I'll never forget the moment I dropped my towel, dove in, then emerged onto the dock to a chorus of, "Hey - your butt crack is green but the rest of your bathing suit is blue!!!!"

When is this style coming back?  Very classy, great coverage, very hip, no?  
As an adult, and now a mother, I ended up having to bite the bullet a few years back when we surprised our kids with a 1-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge- an indoor water-park jammed full of bathing bodies.  A place where you spend countless hours lined up on wet and soggy wooden staircases climbing your way, step-by-squishy-step to the top of water slides, all the while staring at some strangers water-logged bum as you ascend.  At first I said that I would watch in full dress, down from below, but once there it become apparent that there was literally no safe refuge from the sloshing buckets of water routinely dumped on the masses from above.  Reluctantly, I put on my trusty tankini - fashions 2-piece swimwear solution for prudes who pretend to be fun like bikini girls, but without actually showing any skin.  This is the suit that my husband glumly describes as, something his mother would wear.   I doned the suit because,  who do I know at Great Wolf Lodge?  These are strangers!  They don't know me!!  I can be anonymously self-conscious, water-logged and pale without worry!  As I waltzed into the frenzied water-park, chlorine burning my eyes, granny-tankini not quite covering my mushy mid-section, 3 kids in tow, it happened - the voice was clear and distinct and shattered my anonymity to the core: "Kasie?  Kasie Savage?  Is that you?".  Oh god.  Not a relative.  Not a friend.  A COWORKER!  A flippin' MALE COWORKER!  Childless, spouseless, dry and full-clothed.  He leaned in for the friendly "what are the odds I see you?" hug.  My humid tankini pressed against a cotton polo shirt and Dockers.  Shoot me.  When we ran into each other at work, I defensively tried to defuse the awkwardness - "haha....can you believe it....haha....you saw me in basically my underwear....haha...and here we are....and I'm clothed....haha....sob..."

Last Fall our family took a vote on getting a backyard pool - there were 4 yays and 1 nay (yup- that nay was me!).  Fast forward to now and the new pool is open and everyone's been in, splashing about, living it up, except me.  There's been talk in the neighbourhood of pool parties, backyard fun and more.  I'm now 38 and I'm a realist.  Despite the very best advances in cosmetic surgery, I'm pretty confident that I'm not going to grace the cover of a swimsuit magazine any time soon so I'm going to have to suck it up, grow some confidence and rock the hell out of a bathing suit this summer.  I overheard two ladies in their sixties at the gym talking to each other about their daughters in their thirties.  One woman said, "I told my daughter - you have no idea how great you look until you look back 30 years later...young women need more confidence!".  I know she's right.  So stay tuned, because this summer I'm going to take the plunge.  I'm going to force myself to repeatedly wear a bathing suit until it no longer feels weird - kind of like the way you have to make those angry goat noises during certain yoga poses...after a while it just seems normal!

Who's with me?  Who's going to make 2016 the summer of dare-to-bare-in-swimwear?  I am going to give a big wet soggy middle-finger to self-consciousness and dive right in this year...likely in a black one-piece with removable bathing skort...baby steps....

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Name changer: My life as Cassie.


38 years ago, my young hopeful parents Louise and Leslie felt confident that their soon-to-be bundle of joy (me) was  going to be a bouncing baby boy!  Oh the joy!  You see, there were already two little girl cousins in the family and the grandparents all had their fingers and toes crossed hoping for their first grandson!!!  The crib was assembled and the name was picked - Casey.  His name would be Casey.

And then on August 17th, 1977 at 8:42am, the words "it's a girl!" changed everything...or at least the spelling of my name.  In the moments following the birth of a daughter and not a son, my parents decided to keep the name Casey, but change the spelling to what they thought looked girlier: K-A-S-I-E.  And the rest is just a gong-show of mispronounced misery (for me).


Look at my face: "Really?  Kasie?  Nobody can pronounce that Mom!"  

To this day, I actually dread handing over my I.D. to people, or seeing people read my name aloud from print.  I can feel the exhausting ball of tension forming in my gut while getting my canned correction ready, the one I've uttered at least a billion times: "It's actually Kasie - like Katie with an "s"...rhymes with Stacey, Tracy...."  Then they usually apologize, nod and say, "sorry about that Cassie".  Oh for the love of sanity, why could I not have been C-a-s-e-y?

I can still see the uncertainty and confusion in the polite faces of teachers, every first-day-of-school as they paused in the alphabetical roll-call, processing the unfamiliar spelling and playing mental eenie-meenie-minie-moe with their options, slowly opening their mouths and taking a gamble on whatever came out.  Occasionally the knot of name-dread would give way to sheer joy as the rare teacher actually got it right the first time!  Nobody named Jeff or Sue will ever know the relief you feel as an oddly-named child when someone calls out your moniker and nails the pronunciation, thereby avoiding the red-faced attention that comes from a verbal flub-up.

As an adult, it has not gotten any better.  Especially given that I appear on television regularly.  Instead of working quietly in a cubicle somewhere, minding my own name-woes, I have the pleasure of hearing my name mis-pronounced in front of tens-of-millions in the U.S. and Canada.  I actually find it amusing that Americans 100% of the time never say my name correctly versus 50% of Canadians. That's a little name trivia for you right there!   I actually like to think that I go by a stage name south of the border - it's "Cassie", spelled K-a-s-i-e!!!

One of my son's former hockey coaches has spent almost 4 years scrambling to recall the correct way to say my name, to the point where he defaults to Mrs. Savage.  He laughs.  I sigh.

Casey, in its correct form, is clearly still a very popular name in Canada - most notably amongst short-haired, large breed dogs.  Seriously, there are two canine Caseys on my street alone.  I was once reprimanded by an angry old man at an outdoor wedding - told to "get outta here you louse", "go home", "get lost".  Turns out that "Casey" was a senile German Shepherd that had wandered over from next door.  My husband laughed.  I signed.
The neighbourhood dogs from L to R: Casey, Casey, Casey, Casey, Rufus, Casey, Casey, Muffins


Would I change my name if I could turn back time?  Not a chance!!  It's me.  It's all I know. Would I change the spelling?  Hellz ya!  For sure!  Of course!  I've always thought K-h-a-y-s-e-e had a very nice look to it...the H is silent..like me after a botched roll call in grade 2.

Do you have a name that gets butchered?  Is this the first time you realize that my name isn't Cassie?  Is your name actually Cassie?  (If so, I hate you.  Kidding!)  Let me know!  Share!  It's like therapy...but cheaper and much less effective!


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dog days: How a floppy pooch got me out of my head, outdoors and into pure sloppy happiness


There are essentially three types of people: dog people, cat people and people who dislike pets (also known as weirdos).  I grew up with dogs, but once living on my own found cat ownership to be best suited to my life and lifestyle.  Cats are kind of like TV people so we share a lot in common: self-absorbed, vain, always grooming, kind of moody and generally seeking attention only to gain something in return...in my case a paycheck, in a cat's case some heavy petting or soft fish-flavoured treats.

I never figured myself to be a dog person. Too much responsibility, mess, dirt, slobber, fur, expense, commitment...   My husband grew up in a human-only household so he's never really understood why anyone would be willing to battle -35 winter temps with a dog tethered to one arm whilst toting around a thin plastic sack brimming with mushed dog poop in the other.  Eww.  Yet hundreds of millions of people do it.  So I wondered, why would anyone want to take on all the work that comes with a dog unless the payoff far exceeded the sheer mass of time/energy/money/effort?  Maybe us non-dog people are really missing out.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago where I found myself using prime working/money earning time perusing dog breeder websites and reading Cesar Milan Dog Whisperer books.  I suddenly needed a dog.  Not sure why, but I did.  Convincing the kids was easy - puppy!!!!!!  Convincing the husband was not - puppy? Dog?  Stoop n' scoop?  -35 at 6am?  After an fairly impressive sales pitch by yours truly (we work from home, kids are great age, we love outdoors, great for our health to walk more, kids need responsibility....), it was clear, I had won this argument.

After visiting breeders, researching, reading and finally settling on "the one", I picked our pup - a long-lashed, sweet-as-pie, chocolate male Australian Labradoodle that would grow to be 40 pounds (great size for those daytime hikes!).  A few weeks later, when he was 8 weeks old, we made the long trek back to the breeder to take him home and make him a part of our family.  In preparation, the kids and I had rehearsed our dog-walking routes, dog-proofed the house, set up crates, bought the supplies, picked out a name (Brady) and were ready to make this real.  I wore the same sweater to retrieve him as I had on the day I had picked him - I knew he'd remember the scent.  As soon as I reached down and lifted him up, he gingerly sniffed my face then buried his soft fleecy head in my neck, little tail wagging - I knew then our lives were going to change.

And change they did!  In the three weeks since we've had Brady it's been a whirlwind of activity, non-stop supervision, feeding, walking, peeing, pooping, playing, napping, feeding, walking, playing, peeing, pooping, playing....from about 6:30am until 10pm.  It's exhausting.  But the best part, is what I haven't been doing!  I haven't had time to indulge myself in all the self-absorbed TV business stuff of the past.  No time to blow-dry my hair, or do my nails, or go out shopping for no reason, or worry about work, or fill my mind with self-doubt, or criticize my appearance, or have my 2" roots touched up....  Brady has given me something to focus on that's outside of myself.  It's so liberating and de-stressing!  The kids love being responsible for something other than themselves - so do I.  So does my husband.  Watching each of my boys connect nose-to-nose with him is really heart-warming. It's teaching them empathy, trust, communication, loyalty and what it feels like to depend on one another.  I know that many Labradoodles become therapy dogs and no wonder - just owning one is therapy!  Doctors really should prescribe fewer anti-anxiety meds and more dog petting.  It would save the Canadian health-care system a bundle.

How amazing to put the well-being and happiness of a little creature before ourselves.  In this world, it's a rare privilege!  The excitement in Brady's big brown eyes when I come inside from getting the mail - it's so foreign!  It's as if he'd set off fireworks if he could.  He loves us so much.  We love him too.   It's pure, non-judgmental, unconditional, sweet adoration and it feels so, so good.  All kids (and adults) should know what it's like to love and be loved by an animal.

So yes, on the one hand I'm likely unemployable because I've let myself go to the dogs (literally), but on the other hand, I'm happier.  If you're looking for me, I'm the walking dishevelled mess bearing a slight resemblance to "pre-dog Kasie" - but with a soggy wet poop bag hanging from my arm instead of a stylish handbag!






Friday, February 5, 2016

Love or hate it - you can't avoid "the big V"

Let's talk Valentine's Day - "the big V".

WATCH THE CLIP HERE!

My husband detests what he calls the "Hallmark Holidays" - the ones on the calendar who's soul primary purpose is to sell holiday-themed merch.  I would argue that EVERY holiday is driven and propelled by consumerism first with sentimentality trailing in a far second.  Rather than be a fuddy-duddy about it, you might as well just embrace it, in your own way and join in on the fun.  Valentine's Day means something different depending on your stage of life.

As a kid, Valentine's Day meant waking up to a fun plush toy and some treats awaiting my brother and I at the breakfast table.  It also meant, distributing those cheesy little perforated cards to all classmates.  Even that one kid, Jean-Pierre*, who purportedly ate a dead bird's eye at recess got to relish in the joy of feeling accepted by peers.

As a teen, Valentine's Day turned from sweet to sour.  The Student Council distributed via public presentation,  "carnation-o-grams" that had been purchased by admirers.  One by one, the long-stemmed blooms were handed out to those who were genetically blessed, ultra-sporty, popular or floozies.  We all crowded around the makeshift stage, hoping, wishing, praying for public acknowledgement of our existence.  After all of the flowers were handed out you could easily glance around the cafeteria tallying up the smiles and the frowns - a visual segregation of the cool kids and the rejects.  It was torture.  I fell somewhere in between.  I did receive one carnation-o-gram in grade 11...from a kid who kept a toe-nail clipping collection in his locker - I've loathed carnations ever since.

Now as a parent, I'm kind of somewhere in the middle of loving and hating Valentine's Day.  There's no chance I will be receiving a gift from Mr. Fuddy-duddy, and that's cool - saves me a trip to the mall too!  But, my three boys do still have to contribute to the whole V-day machine at school, so it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.  I'm always keen to focus on the love stuff - write the boys a little love note , make a special breakfast (because you know from my other blog posts, they're normally making their own!), get the conversation going on loving one another and the importance of kindness...  I lean more towards the "acts of kindness" camp than the "here's a pricey token of my love and appreciation"  But regardless of which way you lean, there are oodles of options for every person, every kind of love and every budget - from zero dollars to money-is-no-object (side-note, I'd be very interested in meeting a money-is-no-object type!...for research purposes!!!)

I will feature a whole gamut of goodies on CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday, February 10th!  Tune in!
* Names have been changed to protect me from harm!

www.whistlewood.ca
Custom Chartuterie Board (from $140)
Made in Canada


www.riveroakstudio.com
Custom Family Legacy Pillow (from $40)
Made in Canada

Monday, January 25, 2016

Putting the "Mean" in Meaningful: A Mean Mom's guide to bliss

Parenting has its rewards.  That first coo, first smile, when they first say "mama", that crude crayon drawing of a stick figure Mom and a stick figure kid without torsos holding hands, their first goal, watching them become well-mannered young adults, being a good friend, the list goes on and on.

Being called "mean" is also pretty high up on my list of rewards.  Seriously - it is! When I say "no" to my three boys, often times it's because there's a hard lesson to be learned, usually one about delayed gratification, earning rather than expecting something, needs versus wants, responsibility, etc...  If I had a nickel for every time I said "no" in response to "can you buy me...", I'd be rich enough to buy them whatever they wanted - except I wouldn't.  Hence the "Mean-Mom" moniker.

I'm cool with being mean.  Some Moms crack under the guilt of feeling like their kids are angry or disappointed with them - I am not that Mom.  I feel good looking at the long-term forecast - where dealing with "no" is not only a part of life, but a healthy part of building resilience and independence as an adult.

Recently, a bunch of Mom friends got together over wine(s) and we discussed the many things we do for our kids that they don't seem to appreciate.  Let me tell you, a Moms to-do list is never-ending.  From dawn until dusk and well into the night, Moms are on the go, many of them working their hardest to keep junior happy by doing everything they can for him/her.  So many Moms complain of exhaustion - "I am sooooo tired.  I have nothing left to give".  Worst of all, satisfying all the requests and demands and expectations our kids place on us is almost impossible and ultimately detrimental to their self-reliance, self-confidence and independence. As one of my fave parenting experts, Alyson Schafer says, "never do for children what they can do for themselves".

As of September, I made a decision to stop doing for my boys what they were perfectly capable of doing for themselves.  Just what are an 8-year old, 10-year old and 12-year old capable of?  It turns out, a lot more than you think!

Have you ever tuned into NatGeo TV?  Do it.  Find a show with your kids that profiles a village in the middle of a developing nation and take notice of the kids.  Often, 8-year old kids are trotting about caring for baby siblings, cooking meals, harvesting food; 12-year old kids are managing small agricultural businesses and walking miles in search drinkable water.  And meanwhile in the West, we're frantically spreading Wowbutter on whole-grain bread with the crusts cut off for a kid who's clothes we picked out, packing their schoolbags and micromanaging their every waking second - all while they sit on their lazy duffs thumbs-a-blazing on their devices. What the funk are we doing?  No wonder our kids can't manage their time, or possessions,  or food intake or make plans or set goals - we do it all for them!  Then we get together over wine and complain about how irresponsible and useless they are at managing their little lives.

So as of the first day of school back in September, here is what I no longer do for my kids Mon-Fri:

- I do not make their breakfasts
- I do not make their school lunches
- I do not bring them their lunches when they forget them at home
- I do not do their homework
- I do not make them dress appropriately for outside (hence shorts in November)
- I do not tell them how to dress
- I do not clean up their messes in the house (they do)
- I do not brush their teeth
- I do not see them off to the bus in the mornings
- I do not make them special meals if they complain about dinner
- I do not get them a Timbit just because I'm getting myself a coffee at the drive-through
- I do not buy them gifts outside of birthdays and Christmas
- I do not give them money for no reason
- I do not care if they look like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber (their hair, their problem)
- I do not run out to buy last-minute project supplies (should have planned better)
- I do not make excuses for them if a project is turned in late

Here's what I still do:

- I encourage them to be responsible and respect the rules of our house.
- I support them in dealing with the consequences of their actions.
- I love them unconditionally.
- I make dinners and lunches on weekends.
- I enjoy reading the entire newspaper each morning with my coffee and new-found free-time.
- I inform them of the top stories making news while they're making breakfast!
- I enjoy getting to the gym before they're on the bus.
- I enjoy watching them figure shit out for themselves.
- I enjoy going to the movies with my husband, knowing the eldest is capable of managing the other   two while we're out.
- I enjoy watching them make their own scrambled eggs and toast, or smoothies.
- I love watching them do for themselves what I know they're capable of doing - like laundry!

It's not always easy and initially there was a lot of whining, stomping off and hollering, "you're the meanest Mom ever!"  But it's now the new normal around here and it's working really well.  They called it mean, I call it meaningful!

I had the flu around Christmas and while face down shivering in bed, my 8-year old tapped on my shoulder and delivered me a freshly brewed honey-ginseng tea, a fresh fruit smoothie and a plate of sliced cucumbers - with a get-well card.  Nobody else was home - he managed it all on his own.  That right there was the best parenting reward of all!
My youngest making place-settings for the holiday table - because he can!

Are you a "Mean" Mom too?  Share your experience with me on Twitter @KasieSavage or on Facebook "Kasie Savage"

Monday, December 14, 2015

Unique Canadian Stocking Stuffers: for all budgets


Christmas is less than 2 weeks away - yikes.  If you're doing a mental tally of your gift giving and it has as much "wow" factor as fish-faced selfie, you need to consider stepping it up (big-time) in the stocking-stuffing department.  After all, for many, it's the opening of the stockings that brings the most excitement anyway!

You know I love supporting Canadian businesses and you know that I love great, unique finds that are not mass-market items.  Here I have curated a group of great stocking stuffer ideas that will wow and surprise even the most grizzled of family grinches.  In fact, I think most of these items would make great stand-alone gifts too!!!

BEST STOCKING STUFFERS 
(TO MAKE UP FOR LACK-LUSTRE GIFTS UNDER THE TREE)

Click here to watch my segment on CTV's Canada AM!

Canadian Companies

Hillberg & Berk: From Regina, this handmade semi-precious jewellery company is owned and operated by women.  Fast becoming one of Canada's best-known designers, their collection is well-priced, high-quality and full of impact and sparkle.  Add a bracelet, earrings or pretty necklace to someone's stocking!!  Visit www.HillbergandBerk.com to shop or find a retailer.


Virgin Hill Coffee Roasters: Located in Knowlton, Quebec (Eastern Townships), Virgin Hill Coffee Roasters is a family-owned business supplying smooth, rich, incredible 100% Arabica coffee to gourmet shops, cafes, restaurants and businesses across Canada and the globe.  Instead of a huge multi-national that mass produces, if you love coffee, you've got to try their fresh, aromatic and unique small-batch blends (Knowlton Blend is my fave).  Prices are very reasonable (under $6 per 1/2 pound) and available in whole bean, freshly ground and K-cups too!!!  Toss some java in a coffee-lovers stocking this Xmas!  www.VirginHillCoffee.com


Squish Candies: Montreal-based Squish Candies knows that you don't have to be kid to love candy.  Their gourmet, artfully crafted, high-quality, all-natural gummies feature classic flavours and delicious grown-up ones such as, Mulled Wine, Strawberry Rhubarb and Cranberry Elderberry, as part of "Santa's Picks" collection.  Beautifully packaged and ready for gift-giving, these trendy treats are available at select retailers and online. Starting at $6, check them out at www.squishcandies.com


Mother Earth Essentials: Founded by Carrie Langevin who comes from a long line of Cree Medicine women, this Aboriginal skin-care, body-care, candle and tea line is loaded with traditional natural ingredients based on recipes from ancestors.  From the finest essential oils to berries, medicinal and ceremonial plants.  A perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who deserves to be pampered.  www.motherearthessentials.ca

Over The Rainbow: A denim and apparel destination since 1975 in Toronto's swank Yorkville neighbourhood, Over The Rainbow offers some pretty cool winter accessories from the Tuck Shop Trading Co. that any hip, on-trend guy would love.  Check out their lumberjack plaid toques emblazoned with "YYZ" or "TRUE NORTH" lettering ($40.00).  Visit www.rainbowjeans.com


Other ideas...

Under Armour: One of the hottest brands in athletic apparel and equipment, Under Armour offers something for the whole family with lots of great smaller accessories that fit perfectly in a stocking.  From the Ozsee Sackpack (for trips to the gym), the Boy's 4-in-1 Graphic Beanie, Fleece Band for girls, even boxer shorts, your local Under Armour store carries a huge array of products for any activity and sport loving man, woman or child!

EQ3: If you want to surprise a home cook or foodie with something really special, EQ3 has a gorgeous copper-finish measuring cup set for $49.99.  Really, a gift in its own right, wrap it up and put it in a stocking...especially great if the recipient is hosting Xmas dinner!!  High-end, high-quality and high-impact!  www.EQ3.com

Essence Cosmetics: Affordable, fun and high-quality - three words Essence Cosmetics uses to describe itself.  Makeup is always a fun stocking stuffer and a visit to Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix is all it takes to load up on a great red lipstick or other beauty must-have.  My faves are their "How to make smokey eyes" kit and " How to make brows wow" kit.


Charlotte Tillbury: As a UK-based makeup artist working with some of the most iconic faces across the globe, Charlotte Tillbury is the must-have, must-wear name in beauty today!!  This is supported by my own pal and makeup artist Joy Tilberg who's eyes bulged out of her head when I mentioned Charlotte's name!  www.CharlotteTilbury.com for a retailer near you.

The Face Shop: Located in most major malls, The Face Shop is a made-in-Korea beauty shop that's part of the Fruits and Passion family.  They have some incredible kits that make perfect stocking stuffers.  Check out their Hand Care Set - complete with Hand Mask, Hand and Cuticle Duo and Nail Serum.  With the amount of dishes I do, this is truly a beauty essential!!!

Canadian One-stop Shops...

Dollarama:  This is your go-to one-stop shop for all the fun stuff kids and adults adore in stockings.  From craft supplies to stationary supplies to hair and beauty supplies, around-the-house goodies and essentials, Dollarama has it all and is conveniently located in most towns across Canada!  With items priced between $1-3, this is major bang for the buck!!

Indigo/Chapters: If I could spend 2-hours anywhere, it would be here.  Really and truly, this great Canadian retailer has so much more than books.  I would love to personally thank their buying team for continually amazing me with exclusive high-quality accessories for the home that I cannot find anywhere else.  They also have dedicated stocking-stuffers for the whole family throughout.  Shopping online is a great way to find deals too!  www.Indigo.ca

Winners/Homesense/Marshalls: As I type this, I am preparing for one of my thrice-weekly visits to Winners or HomeSense.  It is physically impossible to enter a location and leave empty-handed.  Just check my credit-card statement for proof.  Designer-finds, discount prices and loads of smaller items that would add a lot of impact and excitement to any Xmas stocking.  You can even buy stockings while you're there!!!  So fun.  www.winners.ca

Catch my segment on great stocking stuffers and a complete lineup of items from above, Tuesday, December 15th at 8:40am on CTV's Canada AM!Click here to watch!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas calendars ANYONE can make (and enjoy!)


Just as soon as our clocks fall back, I like to spring forward and soak up every single merry second of the holiday season.  It's just so much easier than starring bleakly at a cold, damp, darkened, leafless streetscape at 5pm dreaming of April.

In our family, once the Halloween candy is still freshly wedged into tiny molars, the kids are already addressing envelopes to the North Pole and dotting the "i"s on their wish-list of Apple products.  As parents, we know that December means answering the thrice daily question, "how many more days until Christmas????"  A Christmas calendar makes the countdown (or count-up) fun and making your own reusable calendar can be a really nice way to kick off a new tradition as well as usher in the festive season. 

With budgets in mind (you won't need a credit card for these purchases!), I've come up with two easy (I promise), fast (I promise) Christmas calendars using supplies that cost less than $30 total- one is focused on receiving and the other on giving.  In our house, we'll use both this year.

Receiving: The Jute bag/Loot bag Christmas calendar (wall calendar)
This wall-hung calendar has a very earthy, organic feel and allows you to stash all sorts of fun little treats, gifts, gift-cards and notes in all 24 pockets.





Supplies needed:
24 small jute bags from Dollarama (2 for $1) or Craft store (likely more $)
3 x 3' branches (I used birch logs from the cottage, but you can use any 1/2" - 1" log/branch
Roll of twine (Dollarama $1)
24 Chalkboard stickers (Dollarma, $1/pack of 10)
Chalkboard marker (Craft store)

How to:
Place a chalkboard sticker on each bag and number them 1 to 24.
Weave a 4' length of twine through the handle on each of bag 8 bags and secure ends to first branch/log.
Repeat steps with next 8 bags and hang second branch/log from first log.
Repeat steps with final 8 bags and hang third branch/log from second log.
Tie a small twine loop in centre of first log (for hanging).
Decorate or embellish with Xmas balls, bells or bows to suit your taste/decor.

Giving: The Little Box of Christmas Kindness (table-top calendar)
This table top centrepiece does double duty as a reminder of what the holiday season is really all about: giving!  Numbered envelopes reveal a daily to-do that focuses on family, friends, fun and sharing.  You fill in the cards to suit your life so it is totally personalized and completely re-useable for years to come!





Supplies needed:
1 festive box from Dollarama
24 x blank cards and envelopes
Pen or metallic marker
Household Xmas decorations to suit your tastes.

How to:
Number envelopes 1 to 24 (I used a stamp and ink pad to decorate mine)
Fill in cards with fun ideas like, "Shovel a neighbours driveway", "Make your brother's bed", "Bake cookies for a friend", "Buy someone a coffee", etc...
Fill box with cards and envelopes and place on a decorative tray.
Arrange and style to suit your tastes.

If you're still a sucker for store-bought, ready-made, treat-filled calendars, tune into my Advent Calendar segment on CTV's Canada AM, Friday November 20th @ 8:40am for more great ideas!
Click here for BIY (Buy-It-Yourself) and DYI ideas!!!