Monday, March 9, 2015

Finding "Fun You": Take the test

In October, five friends and I packed our bags and jet off to sunny Palm Springs for a long-overdue girls' getaway.  I went in search of laughs, relaxation, shopping and adventure, but what I really discovered was far more thrilling and rare - it was Fun Kasie!! A lost relic of my past, Fun Kasie was benched years ago as Wife Kasie and Mom Kasie filled the top spots in my household roster.  Sitting idle for so long, Fun Kasie was all but forgotten until the right mix of girly stupidity, lack of responsibility, freedom to do what one pleases and a hint of vodka came into play.  The group of girls I was with had never met Fun Kasie before; having only had met them in the Wife Kasie era, they were instantly impressed and proudly renamed this vacation version of me, "VaKasie". 

VaKasie did all sorts of crazy stuff - went without makeup, let her hair air-dry, wore a bathing suit in public, laughed until she had to race to the washroom, used expletives liberally, was the TMI queen, went on a dune buggy adventure and even ate a McRib with extra jalapenos (Wife and Mom Kasie doesn't eat fast-food...let alone boneless pork patties smothered in a sweet sauce, nestled in a soft sesame-seed bun)!!!
VaKasie in all her glory

Here's what I know for sure - VaKasie was a blast.  I miss old me sometimes.  Life just takes hold and we tend to lose so much of our former free-wheeling selves.  We are suddenly soooo serious about everything.  In case this has happened to you, and you have yet to realise it, I've created a small but highly scientific test to assess your lame-a-bility factor. 

Lame-a-bility Quiz: Have you lost "Fun You"?  Please answer YES or No:

1. I have been married for more than five years
2. I have kid(s)
3. I have pet(s) and/or employment
4. I deliver a look-of-death, eye-roll, or desperate sigh when someone close to me flatulates
5. I haven't laughed until I've peed my pants in years (or ever!)
6. I often sit stone-faced during a classic comedy or simply declare, "this crap is not funny"
7. I have not been on a girls-only getaway in more than 2 years
8. I sometimes find myself listening to Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith songs on repeat
9. I wear full-coverage underwear with comfort and cotton in mind
10. When my kids yell, MOM!!!!" I reply with a long exasperated, devil-voiced, "WHHHAAAATTTT????"

If you answered "yes" to 2 or more of these, take a good, long look in the mirror because you are a totally boring lame-o.  The sooner you embark on fancy-free fun and frivolity the better for everyone - your husband, kids and boss with thank me!!

Now leave this blog, get on the web and book something fun and crazy.  Do it!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why married people need Hallmark holidays...more than ever!

My husband Brad has always firmly maintained a strict "no Hallmark holidays" stance.  Especially when it comes to Valentine's Day.  When we were hot and heavy in the early days (literally hot and heavy - post-University chub and excessively sweaty - not pretty), he would declare proudly, "why does anyone need to remind me to love and treat you special on one day of the year when I love and treat you special everyday?" "Wow, what a hopeless romantic!", you're likely thinking.  Or, to play devil's advocate here,  "what a hopeless cheapskate trying to avoid buying a V-day gift for yours truly". Thought I'd offer both perspectives for you. 

Anyway, to get back on track, he did sort of have a point.  I say sort of, because when two people are in a fresh-out-of-the-oven romance, every day does feel extra sweet and special.  Flowers "just because they made me think of you", back rubs "just because you work soooo hard selling souvenirs at the CityTV store", hand-written notes of naughtiness "just because sexting technology didn't exist back then" get the point.  Fast forward 15 years and here we are - 3 kids, 2 cats, 5 fish, endless taxiing to activities, non-stop heads-spinning, exhausted and run-down, matching sweatshirts with Golden Labs on them (we don't even own a dog!)...this is what married/family life looks like with young kids. 

Now, more than ever we desperately NEED Hallmark holidays.  Come mid-January, that sea of pink heart-shaped cards and candy at the local pharmacy is like a five-alarm fire burning into my listless, weary mind screaming out a relationship S.O.S: "wake up you good for nothin' dead-beat wife - it's almost Valentine's Day and you need all of this pink and red stuff to prove your love!!!!" All of the ads in the newspaper and on TV feature freakishly toned and spray-tanned hunks, on bended-knee, slowly opening blue boxes filled with sparkle, to the delight of a pale waif in a ball-gown cupping her hands over her mouth with an expression of sheer joy, exhilaration and hunger...sadly reminding me that the only blue box I'll be seeing on Valentine's Day contains my discarded recyclables.  Hmph. 

On the hunt for great Valentine's Day ideas, in the hopes of turning my slump around, I found so many really cool, fun, funky and fabulous ideas that do not involve cinnamon hearts.  Soooo many ideas in fact, that I'm going to pass them along to case you're also in a V-Day rut.  You're welcome!!

Watch on February 11th on CTV's Canada AM as I present to you a curated display of fun and fabulous for all three types of love:

1. Innocent/family love
2. Passionate love
3. Married 10+ years/In-the-doghouse love

Stay tuned....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Not your mother's "Mom Jeans": you know it's all about that bass...

I don't know what's worse, shopping for bathing suits, or shopping for jeans.  Both experiences are right up there with pap-smears and cleaning up vomit on my list of ugh-worthy activities.  Shopping for bathing suits and jeans both leave you frustrated and deflated, shimmying into too-tight or slithering into too-loose fabrics, discovering new areas of your body that have either drooped downwards or disappeared completely off the face of the earth (i.e. my waist and confidence). Ultimately, both have you fleeing the dressing room empty-handed and heading straight for the nearest fro-yo shop for a double-scoop of frozen therapy. 

Let's face it, after kids, our bodies just aren't the same as they were pre-kids.  As each of my three boys descended down the birth canal, other body parts followed suit: boobs, bum, waist...they all bought a one-way ticket south from Taut-ville to Mom-ville.  But just because your body is different, doesn't mean that you can't look great and feel great - especially in the ultimate uniform of Moms everywhere in North-America - jeans!!  You just need to know how to shop for your body and Houdini yourself.  It's about illusion my friends.  Jeans are now day-wear to evening-wear.  Dress them up, dress them down, take them anywhere - your wardrobe's best-friend can also be your foe if you don't own the right ones.

Let me show you what I mean.  The right pair of jeans, will bring out the best in you- elongate the limbs, lift the touche and cinch the waist - price does not matter, designer label does not matter.  It either works on you, or it doesn't.   The wrong pair of jeans will be bad, so bad... 

To prove my point, I recently grabbed 9 pairs of jeans in my size off the rack at a local shop that had an extensive denim collection, in prices varying from $40-$250.  Then I took to taking a ton of belfies (butt selfies).  As you will see, the exact same body can look REALLY different, depending on the style and wash, placement of pockets, seaming, etc...  Take note:
I arrived in these Lola Jeans (Cdn. brand $70):
these are the right fit for me: perfect pocket placement,
4-way stretch on legs, dark wash, mid-rise...

Wow- not good: my bum looks enormous because
the pockets are too long and large.  2-way stretch
so they pinch my upper legs and give the
dreaded stuffed-sausage effect - wash makes
rump and legs look larger.  Ugh.

Although very comfy, these tapered jeggings
feature ZERO flattering features: my arse looks
enormous (review pic 1 to compare) and
the acid-washing effect makes me look either
crazy, craving the 80's or both.  I purchased these
flat-out so as to take them out of circulation - then burnt them.

Here's a case of pockets that are wayyy tooo small, way too high
and wayyy tooo wide.  So it spreads my butt east and west
like my cheeks are on a scavenger hunt...
Even my Mom's Mom wouldn't wear these!
Plus the wash, is still too light so it adds pounds -
nobody wants to add pounds.

Issues can arise in the front too.  Here the
fabric bunches to create a vortex of
pleating - camel toe in the works - run,
very fast from jeans that do this....

By this point, I was really starting to think that I had
an unflattering rear-end...and maybe I do.  But
certainly, the jeans make all the difference.  These are
getting better but they flatten the rear - we want lift!! 
The right distressing and fade patterns create that illusion...
these do not, but the stitching on the pockets
does help define the cheeks...

Anyone craving I.H.O.P?  Enough said.

Aha! The darker wash slims, the pockets are
the right size, but the legs are bunching - not the
right stretch to them..and they are lower rise
which leads to....(below)

Muffin top.  If you've got a butt or hips or belly,
or all of the above, don't even look at a low-rise jean.
Mid-rise or higher rise will keep all that fleshy-fun contained
in the pants and slim the silhouette.

Perhaps the saddest bum ever...and note the
legs.  These jeans scream "I give up",  "I have zero sex appeal"
"I dine and work at the I.H.O.P"

Although light wash, these jeans are vastly better
than the others I tried on.  They lift and minimize the same bum
that looked so sad, droopy and hopeless up above.  Nice fit on
upper leg and cute flare at bottom for that Martini glass effect.

The jeans on the left were all wrong, whereas the ones
on the right worked.  Look at the pockets: the smaller, narrower
pockets on the first pair, enlarged my butt - notice how long the seam
on the derriere of the first pair is...that gave my cheeks ample room to
just hang-out and hang low...  The ones on the right hugged my bum and
visually lifted. 

Again, my Lola jeans.  Note that V-seam (kind of like Lululemons)
which cuts the length of the rear visually and the pockets help to
round the cheeks out - suddenly, my butt looks lifted, younger. 
The darker wash slims too.  These Mom jeans have....a 3" elastic waist!!
No buttons - pull-ons!!  Yep, these are my Mom jeans.

So, now that we've all spent way too much time analysing my arse, it's time for you to grab a three-way mirror and check out your assets.  The butt makes the jeans - there's no dispute.  Bottom-line (pun intended), there's no perfect pair for everyone, it takes some trial and error but here's what you can automatically gravitate towards next time you're shopping for Mom-worthy denim:

  • Mid to high rise for the cut
  • Bootleg or Slim fit
  • 4-way stretch (to avoid bunching or pinching in weird places)
  • Darker wash (slimming)
  • Perfectly placed pockets - more square shaped, angled out, not too small or high
  • Detailed stitching on pockets - adds interest, lifts and adds that little bubble-bum effect
  • Size down - if they feel just a bit tight in the store, they will be perfect once broken in.
Watch my Canada AM segment and find out which winners fit our Mom models...Don't blame your genes...blame your jeans!
Thanks to:
for outfitting us for this segment!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sick kids 101: How to spot a faker (and other nuggets of wisdom)

While we're on the topic of germs and illness (I'm still not fully over my cold...19 days later), I thought I'd tackle kiddie colds for a bit.

I've been asked to be part of an upcoming parenting panel for Canada AM exploring the dreaded "pukies". There's nothing more jarring to your mental routine that suddenly hearing, "Mom, I don't feel well".

I pride myself on a 0-1 absences per child per school-year record.  I have three boys - so the math is simple.  In general, my kids are healthy, but this stellar attendance record could only be achieved using my general rule of thumb:

"Unless you have a fever, or have fluids spewing from either end, you're going to school."
There is no grey area.  A common cold, or the sniffles do not lead to missed school. 

How to Spot a Faker:

This is easy using my fail-proof proprietary faker technique (PFT): if indeed a child is truly too sick to go to school, then they have to spend the day in their beds, resting and reading.  No devices, no TV.  Trust me, if a kid is REALLY under-the-weather, they want to spend the day in bed sleeping... A faker will usually get bored after about 20 minutes and beg you to go to school. No thermometer needed, only the Mom-ometer!  If they are well enough to traipse along merrily on errands with you, they're not sick!!!

How to make a sick kid feel better:

A truly sick kid will get well much faster with some deserved, over-the-top TLC.  Cuddles, back rubs, warm blankets fresh from the dryer, a popsicle or two and only speaking to them in a soft grandma-esque tone works wonders. Warning: depending on the kid, too much of this technique may lead to a "faker" which case you employ the above mentioned technique. 

Tips for dealing with puke:
If the illness is of the explosive projectile variety, that's where I usually bail and call in reinforcements (my husband).  Despite how vile, disgusting and gross it can be, there is a definite puke-plan readiness kit in place at our house. 

If it's vomit we're ready, if it's an earthquake or flash-flooding, we're screwed.  

As soon as someone skips a meal (that's clue 1) or mutters weakly, "my tummy hurts" (clue 2), we spring into action and do the following: get plastic mattress protector on bed (a smarter person would invest in 1 per kid's bed on a permanent basis), cover upper third of bed in towels, remove all duvets/quilts, wrap pillow in double layer of towels, find friendly looking receptacle (i.e. not an icky, smelly, dirt-stained garbage pail - that would make a healthy person sick to look at) and place on bedside table, walk child through the "run-to-the-toilet" technique as first course of action. 

When the upchucking occurs, it is imperative that you react overly calm and relaxed as you deal with it (like you're just tying a shoelace or playing biggie), otherwise the kid might panic and burst into a gagging, coughing, crying frenzy - thus leading to more vomiting.  Clean the mess quickly, have them brush their teeth, sip a tiny bit of water and go back to resting.  Repeat this process as often as necessary until puking ceases. 

Whatever you do, do not entertain the idea that all of those smelly, pungent vomit germs may have invaded their way into your fragile system - the thought alone could lead to phantom gagging in parents...which only doubles everyone's misery. 

Ferris Bueller would have never stayed home using my techniques

What's your technique??

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Surviving the Cold War: fighting phlegm, a guide to gaining sympathy.

I am pleased to say (knock on wood), that I have cultivated a pretty flippin' impressive immune system within this temple of mine.  Probiotics, green-tea, exercise, low-stress, laughing randomly, licking raw chicken packages, kissing my kids' runny noses: these are just some of the ways in which I have elevated my white blood cell count and lined my gut with germ killing flora.  Despite living in a home chalk-a-block with boogery-boys, I have managed to ward off illness to the point where I only get sick, on average, once per annum.  Being super-immune comes at a price though.  Because I'm so unconditioned to viruses, when one does hit, it causes me catastrophic over-reaction and whining (man style!).   But the sympathy I get from those around me, helps to heal.

Right now, as I struggle to type this blog entry, face pallid, nostrils chapped, I am victim to one such bug - "the common cold".   Allow me to vent: first off, I am offended that we call it the common cold!  For some of us, it ain't so common and therefor can't just be shrugged off as a ho-hum everyday occurrence.  Why are we so quick to dismiss its ugliness?  And it's U-G-L-Y!

Symptoms such as:
Swallowing gingerly only to feel like a dozen straight-edged razors are lacerating your larynx
A nose dripping like the rusty faucet of an abandoned gas-station bathroom
Eyes glazed over with a jelly-like film, only marginally disguising the candy-cane striping on the iris
A cough that sounds like a basset-hound with its privates caught in a rabbit snare
A mouth drier than sponge-taffy from taking on all of the breathing duties
A head that feels as though it was recently injected with 20 pounds of concrete...that's solidified
Greasy hair...not sure why it looks and feels greasy...maybe it's a side-effect of being too cold to want to bathe...

The hideous are never healthy. 

Anyway, it blows (literally)! How can anyone be so flippant as to call it "The Common Cold"?  I think we all need more sympathy via a name that sounds much more alarmist and serious.  You'd get a lot more than an "Awww" and some Ginger-ale from Grandma if it was called:

The Beast Within (an element of unpredictable danger)
The Massive Mega Virus (very MGM/Hollywood)
Boogeritis (too gross to require a description)
Mucoma (my fave...sounds deadly!)
Leave Me The Bleep Alone-itis (add "itis" to anything and double up on sympathy!)
Blow-crack-n'-bleed syndrome (this one, guaranteed nobody wants to ask about).

If you want people to pity you for having a common cold, then you need to up the ante and milk it - big-time! If you're looking for inspiration, copy whatever the man in your life already does.  Men are genetically superior at acting as though a cold will kill them...immanently. It's a natural gift.  We women can learn from them.  I sure have!!  Just check out my diary entry from today:

Cold War: Day 5 Update
Mucous has retreated following a battle of nose blowing that lasted well into 3 days and 3 nights. Enemy phlegm slowly advancing up lungs into throat...forcing coughs that in turn force gagging, that in turn forces blobs of green goop up throat and into mouth...I will fight and I will win...damn you head-cold!!! 

Stay healthy ladies... Adieu from the cold war...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bored Games: How good old fashioned games saved the Holidays!

'Twas the late morning of Christmas and all through our house,
Not a kiddie was stirring, they sat like a louse,
For they were uncreative and lazy - they lacked pep and verve,
They declared that they were bored!, oh how they had nerve,
So I grabbed each one by the tip of their ear,
And forced them to the table to sit and to hear,
Of my youth in the 80's and how we played games,
The kind with flat boards and straight-forward names,
Like Clue and Monopoly, Battleship too,
We played as a family and everyone knew,
That this was called "quality time", when young and old mix,
And rolling a die can give you hours of kicks.
So this dreary season when cabin fever strikes,
Gather 'round a board game that everyone likes!!
That's my holiday poem for you and yours,
Below are some games that sure beat doin' chores...
I can't stop rhyming, no matter how I try,
I had better stop typing, so long and goodbye...
Seriously, grab any of the games that I featured on Canada AM and connect with family...take the bored out of board-games!!  Especially if you're not in a position to party-hardy this New Year's Eve...  Hunker down and have some good ol' fashioned fun!!

Click here to watch the segment with Graham Richardson and I.
Available at Target...
Clue is a popular murder-mystery board game. The object of the game is for players to strategically move around the game board (a mansion), as of one of the game's six suspects. Each player collects clues from which to deduce which suspect murdered the game's victim, and with which weapon and in what room.
Monopoly is a classic, easy-to-play, family-fun board game in which each player attempts to become the wealthiest by buying, renting, and selling property. Players move around the game board buying or trading properties, developing their properties with houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy.
Battleship is a guessing game for two players. It is known worldwide as a pencil and paper game which dates from World War I, but was released as a plastic board game by Milton Bradley in 1967. The game is played on four grids, two for each player. The grids are typically square and the individual squares in the grid are identified by letter and number. On one grid the player secretly arranges ships and records the shots by the opponent. On the other grid the player records his/her own shots.
Scrabble is a fun, and classic, word game. The object of the game is to get the most points, and players earn points by constructing words with letter tiles and placing them on a grid. Each letter has a different point value, there are 100 letter tiles, and only one letter tile can fit in a grid space.
The object of Risk is to conquer the world by controlling every territory on a board that's a map of the world, and in doing so, eliminate the other players. Players control armies with which they attempt to capture territories from other players, with results determined by dice rolls.
Chess is a very popular and widely accepted as one of the oldest games still played. Although it has a set of easily comprehended rules, it requires a lot of practice to win against skilled opponents. To win, a player must use his pieces to create a situation where the opponent's King is unable to avoid capture (a condition known as checkmate).
Connect Four
Connect Four is a two-player connection game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row vertically suspended grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space within the column. The object of the game is to connect four of one's own discs of the same color next to each other vertically, horizontally, or diagonally before your opponent.
Available at Mastermind...
Sequence (Ages 7+, $29.99)
This is an awesome game of strategy for a range of ages, from children to adults. Players are divided up into two or three teams and cards are then dealt. When it is your turn you select a card from your hand which has an open space on the board, you then place that card in your discard pile and your piece on the corresponding space on the board. The object of the game is to get a row of 5 of your team's pieces. There are also ways of blocking opponents and of removing opponents pieces!
(plus Sequence Letters & Sequence for Kids!)
Spot It! (Ages 6+, $13.99)
Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio's 2010 Best Toy Award Gold Seal, Parent's Choice Foundation's 2010 Gold Gold Award, Canadian Toy Testing Council's 2008-2010 Children's Choice Award, NAPPA's Gold Award, ASTRA's 2010 Best Toys for Kids Gold Award, and Dr. Toy's 10 Best Vacation Children Products and 10 Best Games Awards in 2010.
Looking for a fun game for the entire family? Then feast your eyes on Spot It! This award-winning card game is a simple, fast-paced game that everyone ages 6 to 106 can see eye to eye on. There are several ways to play Spot It! but the strategy is the same: be the first player to “spot” one of the eight illustrated symbols on your card to the matching symbol on another card. Sounds simple, right? But there is more to this game than meets the eye when you consider that there is only one match for the symbol you are searching for on one of the remaining 54 playing cards. And while the matching symbols are the same colour and shape, they may be different sizes. You’ll be surprised at how the variety of images on these cards will challenge your eyes. And because Spot It! requires keen visual perception skills and quick reflexes, this creates a level playing field across all ages. So watch out for those younger players as they set their sights on the win. With lively action and endless fun, your family will only have eyes for Spot It!
Bellz Magnetic Game (Ages6+, $19.99)
The Bellz magnet game is deceptively simple and yet supremely challenging at the same time.
Just open the travel pouch and you’re ready to play! The pouch opens to become the game arena. Inside there are 40 custom bells in 4 colours and 3 different sizes. Players use the magnet wand to pick up bells of only one colour. Make a string off the end of the magnet wand, or create a cluster — just don’t pick up bells of any other colour or the turn is over. Each player must decide how far to push their luck on every turn. The first player to collect all 10 bells of one colour wins!
Let the fun RING!
Qwirkle (Ages 6+, $24.99)
Awards: Parent’s Choice & Mensa Select
At first glance, Qwirkle looks like a simple matching game, but once you start playing, you’ll soon discover that creative tactical maneuvers and a well-planned strategy are required to outscore opponents! The game consists of 108 wooden blocks with six different shapes in six colours. Using the blocks, players score points by building rows and columns that share a common attribute - either colour or shape. The key is in making strategic moves that will earn maximum points. The simple level of play allows younger players to get in on the action and helps to improve strategy, concentration and other critical thinking skills. Challenging fun for the whole family!
aMAZEing Labyrinth Game (8+, $37.99)
Creative Play Awards 2013 Winner
Make your way to the treasure, one slide at a time! This award-winning game is fun for the whole family! Choose a wooden playing piece and place it on the corresponding circle in one of the 4 corners of the game board. Put the 24 treasure cards face down in a pile where everyone can reach them. On your turn, draw a treasure card, being sure not to show it to the other players. Use the extra maze card to shift the maze in any of the 12 directions allowed. Your goal is to create a path for your playing piece to reach the object on your treasure card. If you can't make it to your treasure yet, move your playing piece along the path as far as you choose, and hope you'll be able to shift the maze in your favour on your next turn! Play continues to the left with each player shifting the maze in an effort to reach the treasure pictured on the card they draw from the pile. Once all of the treasures have been reached, the player who has found the most treasures wins!
Crokinole (Ages 6+, $49.99)
This gigantic, Canadian-made wooden game features a Crokinole board on one side and a checkers board on the other, for double the fun! The object of the classic game of Crokinole is to gain points by shooting (or snapping or flipping) the wooden discs into the highest possible scoring areas on the board. Crokinole 2 in 1 is the ultimate multi-purpose game board for family fun!
Mastermind Game (Ages 8+, $24.99)
Now the whole family can test their wits in this battle of logic! New Mastermind is fun for up to 5 players! Outsmart your opponents with a code that is too tough to solve. Outwit them in a head-to-head code-cracking clash to win the game! Mastermind is the original game of logic and deduction, where skill and strategy combine for compelling game play. Also improves logic and reasoning skills. Includes game board, multicoloured game pieces and instructions. Prove your powers of deduction and lay your logic on the line in the ultimate test of skill and reason!
Settlers of Catan (Ages 10+, $49.99)
Winner of the "Game of the Year" Awards in the United States, Germany and many other countries worldwide.
Welcome to the world of Catan, a remote Isle rich in resources and landscapes! You and the other players each control a group of settlers who have just discovered this island and wish to tame it. Begin the game by uncovering the landscape of Catan, which changes virtually every time the game is played! Next, attempt to guide your settlers to ultimate victory by trading resources, building roads, cities, and more! Beware though, as other players can cut off your roads or build monopolies that hinder your development! And watch out for the robber who's lurking in the shadows, waiting to steal your hard-earned gains! Requiring forethought and cunning, this game is sure to keep players of all ages entertained for hours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stuff this: great gift ideas for stockings!

I'm not one of those TV-types that tries to pretend that I'm all poised and perfect.  In fact, I'll have you know that in my glorious days as a youth, I found many-an-onion (or three) stuffed into my fireside stocking at Xmas.  Can't believe it?  I know...I look like such an angel too...(wink wink).  Nothing says Xmas morn' disappointment like racing down a flight of stairs on the 25th, sleep in your eyes, joy in your heart, pep in your step, only to discover half the produce aisle wedged into your stocking: onions, clementines, an apple, lettuce (I never said my family was normal).  This year, whether you're the primary stocking stuffer for the family or simply looking to stuff some stuff in a single stocking (say that 10 times fast),  I beg you to keep your hands out of the crisper and get a little more creative - after all, sometimes the stocking is the best part of Xmas morning!!  As featured on CTV's Canada AM, here are some really fun, festive, pretty and practical gift ideas that will at the very least, land you under someone's mistletoe this holiday season:

Click here to see all of the great stocking stuffers...including a $93,000 diamond ring from Tiffany!

Here is what we featured:

180S Unisex Vail Fur Ear Warmers, $30
The Vail ear warmers feature a soft faux fur outer shell and inner liner that provide warmth and comfort on cold winter days. Patented behind-the-head design fits comfortably over your ears and allows them to be worn with other headwear, glasses, and head protection. Adjustable click-to-fit frames ensure an easy, comfortable fit on a wide variety of head sizes. They also collapse for easy storage in bag, purse or briefcase.
Pretty Parfait
Limited Edition Makeup Kit
Pretty please, with sugar on top?!
Indulge in the ultimate beauty gift…our bestselling problem-solvers together in one  brilliant set! Give the gift of long lashes, naturally full brows and a flawless smoother-than-smooth complexion. Bundled up in an adorable collectible tin, this gift is toots sweet!
set includes:
they're real!
gimme brow in light/medium
stay don't stray in light/medium
the POREfessional mini size
Sugarglam Fairies
Limited edition set for lashes, lips & face
We’re “fairy” sweet on you!
This sexy gift for lashes, lips and complexion contains our bestselling they’re real! lengthening mascara, the POREfessional primer, bronzing powder and a famous tint. All “housed” together in a collectible, reusable Sweet Shoppe tin, it’s perfect to give…and get!
set includes:
they're real!
the POREfessional
benetint medium size
It’s a blushin’ blockbuster!
For the FIRST-TIME EVER, our famous box o’ powders are all together in one cheeky sweet spot. To top it all off, it also comes with watt’s up!, our delicate champagne sheer highlighter. Follow the easy Tips and Tricks to look blushin’ beautiful this holiday!
kit includes:
bella bamba
watt’s up
LADY S from Racinne
The advanced Korean biotechnology skincare company – has launched the Lady S At-Home Spa Device.
Unlike anything on the market, this portable micro-lifting device stimulates circulation, soften fine lines, tones skin, sculpts facial features and enhances skin’s absorption of serums and creams. Travel friend too – you can charge it using a USB plug!
The Lady S retails for $199.99 and is available across the country at
and will be available in Shoppers Drug Mart in 2015
Batiste – Dry shampoo
For the beauty-crazed and fashionistas in your life, the entire Batiste collection of dry shampoos make the ultimate stocking stuffer for the hair lover in your life (and the bottles look so on trend)
Sonia Kashuk 10-piece All That Jazz Brush Set
These professional quality brushes have been dressed up with stylish black handles caged in gold ribbed details, and ivory bristles to add a sophisticated touch to your beauty routine. The ultimate holiday gift, perfect for creating festive holiday looks. *Target exclusive
Hope in a Jar & Purity Cleanser Ornaments by Philosophy
an inspiring yet festive way to share the gift of great skin this holiday with these cute ornament sets from philosophy featuring two award winning skin care products suitable for all skin types (also serves as great Secret Santa gifts)

The Body Shop Absinthe Manicure & Moisture Duo
Give the gift of happy hands! Our purifying hand cream nurtures nails as well as hands - perfect for grooming on the go.
•This gift sends a child to class.
•Absinthe Purifying Hand Cream 30ml
•Nail File
The Body Shop Crackled Ceramic Oil Burner
BEST IF YOU WANT TO: Fragrance a room in an instant. Simple and stylish, the understated elegance of handmade ceramic works with any decor.
How it works:
The flame of a tea light (not included) gently heats the oil to scent your surroundings.
The Body Shop Olive Beauty Bag
Make someone feel beautiful from head to toe with our olive oil bath and body products. Filled with fresh olive scented treats, this sweet set makes for an ideal gift. With organic Community Fair Trade olive oil from Italy.
•  This gift sends a child to class.
•  Olive Shower Gel 60 ml
•  Olive Body Butter 50 ml
•  Olive Body Scrub 50 ml
•  Green Mini Crinkle Bath Lily
Satsuma Treats Gift Cube
Treat someone to a little bit of sunshine this festive season. This cute cube of mini bath and body treats is scented with juicy satsuma. Perfect Gift Finder →
•This gift sends a child to class. Learn more →
• Satsuma Shower Gel 60 ml
• Satsuma Body Puree 60 ml
• Orange Mini Crinkle Bath Lily
• An $11 value!
Tweezerman Matchbox Itty Bitty Nail Files
Perfect size files for girls on the go – just pop into your pocket or purse to nail any chips, snags or breaks on the spot
$5 at Sephora
Tweezerman Petite Tweeze Set
Set features the famous Slant and Point Tweezers in a smaller size. Matched with a fashionable leather case, this miniature set is perfect for purse and travel. 
$33 at Rexall
Tweezerman Mini Brow Rescue Kit
Keep your brows looking perfect any time, anywhere with this convenient, travel sized brow essentials kit. Fits any makeup bag or purse for quick touch ups on the go. Kit includes: Mini Slant Tweezer, Mini Browmousse, Mini Brow Brush, Mini Eyenhance Brow Highlighter, and a stylish travel case.
$32 at
Tweezerman Mini Nail Rescue Kit
A portable trio of Tweezerman’s top stainless steel nail care essentials for a quick fix anytime your nails hit a snag. The petite, travel-friendly set includes three tools for complete nail care. 
$25 at
Tweezerman Fashion Chic Zebra Mini Slant Tweezer and Mirror
A mini version of Tweezerman’s award winning, world famous slant tweezer; the zebra print texture creates an easy to hold, no-slip grip to help you grab every hair, every time. This pocket mirror is convenient and on trend all in one tiny package; perfect for tweezing on the go or mid day makeup touchups.
(no link)
$25 at Shoppers Drug Mart
eBay Holiday Collective
eBay and the Council of Fashion Designers of America are collaborating with six leading designers to offer the Holiday Collective: an inspired collection of giftable tech accessories, including these customized portable power packs.
LOFT Zipped Pouches
Travex® Connect Travel Wallet
The Original Outdoor Outfitter®
Lightweight, low-profile travel wallet is designed for when you need frequent access to cards and cash. Durable ripstop nylon construction. Interior organization for credit cards, ID, and money.
•100% ripstop nylon
•Large enough to hold passport
•Zip closure keeps contents secure
•Simple, adjustable cord strap
•6"H x 4.5"W x 1"D
Women's Camp Socks (Grey)
Keep your feet toasty warm this winter with these retro-styled Camp socks exclusively available at Sporting Life. With a classic look, these socks are perfect to pair with almost any outfit, including those PJs for days you'd rather not head outside.
Various shoe clips
Kikkerland - Mini bag toss 
Love Bamboo Coaster Set
Joseph Nogucci, $21
These trendy coasters are made of solid carbonized bamboo with a 7mm cork base, ensuring that no beverage ever touches your table. Set includes 6 pieces (L, O, V and E with 2 blank coasters); 10 cm in width x 10cm in height x 1cm in depth.
Albee Touch Screen Glove, $15
If you are frustrated with having to remove your gloves to answer a call or respond to a text message, then these gloves are for you. No more cold fingers and short responses, now you can press buttons on your touch screen without the cold and the hassle.

Glider Glove Unisex Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves $25.00
Glider Gloves are the warmest touch screen compatible gloves for men and women. Made with a blend of conductive materials, now you can enjoy amazing touch response along your entire hand and all 10 fingers. With best in-class accuracy and precision, your frozen fingers will warm up to the idea of touch, tap, text, pinch, and glide!
Café Travel Mug – Metallic Polka Dots
by Indigo
Our new travel mug is a little whimsical, a whole lot beautiful, with shimmering platinum polka dots against a crisp white ground. The white silicone lid removes for easy cleaning. 8-oz. capacity. 3.5” diameter, 5.25” high. Porcelain. Dishwasher safe. Available only at Indigo.
Café Travel Mug – Metallic Stripes
by Indigo
Our new travel mug is a little whimsical, a whole lot beautiful, with shimmering platinum stripes and a chic platinum base. The white silicone lid removes for easy cleaning. 8-oz. capacity. 3.5” diameter, 5.25” high. Porcelain. Dishwasher safe. Available only at Indigo.
Founded in the summer of 2013, the Toronto-based brand has quickly become one
of the fastest growing and most popular sock brands and can be found in more than 3,000 marque and specialty retailers throughout North America, as well online at
Yo Sox boasts a large selection of humorous novelty and bold graphic patterned designs for men, women and most recently, kids. Each sock is exceptionally crafted in Turkish compact cotton with a touch of elastane for all day comfort and reinforced heels and toes for long lasting wear.
Yo Sox designs have been spotted on the famous feet of Adrien Brody, Daniel Radcliffe, Shannon Tweed, Emily Hampshire and George Stroumboulopoulos, to name a few, as well as on some of the biggest names in sports including Joffrey Lupul and Donovan Bailey. In October 2014, Yo Sox announced a new collaboration with Toronto FC star, Dwayne De Rosario, to design an exclusive collection with proceeds benefiting the icon’s DeRo United Foundation.
The first-ever Yo Sox Holiday Pop-Up Shop is located at 567 Queen St. West in Toronto and will be open from November 19 – December 22. Yo Sox also offers a unique online sockscription service that delivers a new pair of Yo Sox to your door every month for a year! Beyond the holiday pop-up initiative and Yo Sox’s online offerings, the brand has created a limited edition gift boxed collection exclusively available at the Hudson’s Bay locations across Canada during the holiday season.
The entire Yo Sox collection (including limited edition holiday styles) is available online for all Canadians at yo– Yo Sox also recently launched a KIDS line, offering fashionable socks for even the tiniest of toes.
Men’s Skin Care Gift Pack
Rebels Refinery, $39
This manly 3-piece gift package contains Advanced Clear Skin Facial Cleanser (100ml), Advanced Clear Skin Facial Scrub (100ml) and Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer (100ml). Kit comes in burlap sack printed with soya bean ink.
Kikkerland - 4 in 1 pen tool
Kikkerland - Old and wise pen, set of 2
Are you or someone you know getting much older? This humorous yet stylish set of pens resembling wooden walking sticks is exactly the type of gift necessary for a 50th birthday party gag or simply to add to your collection of novelty pens. Being over the hill can be done in style.
DIME – Green
We took the standard keychain multi-tool and made it better. In addition to stainless steel pliers, wire cutters, a fine edge blade, spring-loaded scissors, flathead screwdriver, crosshead driver, tweezers and file, the Dime includes a unique blade designed to safely cut and score plastic packaging and a bottle opener that is exposed even when the tool is closed. Compact and lightweight, the Dime is the most valuable change you'll find in your pocket.
LED Illuminating Bands
Visibility is vital when biking or walking at night. When activated, the LED in these bands illuminates with a continuous or flashing red light. Each has a durable weatherproof nylon cover with a highly reflective spider-web pattern.
The clip-on marker (7-3/4" long) has a D-ring and a double-gate carabiner that can fasten to a backpack or jacket zipper for use as a beacon.
The bracelet (13-3/4" long) can be worn by simply slapping it against your wrist or ankle; the strip instantly curls back on itself, wrapping around the limb and holding firmly. The inner plastic spring strip is easily straightened by pressing both ends.
Each includes a replaceable long-life battery with a run time of approximately 100 hours.
Clip-On LED Illuminating Marker, $12.50
LED Illuminating Bracelet, $12.50
Replacement Batteries, pkg. of 2, $2.20
Chestnut Tools® Portable Electronic Scale
This compact, accurate, and highly functional scale has features such as automatic shut-down, tare weight, display lock and audible feedback.
It excels at weighing food in the kitchen, produce at the grocery store, or the one that didn't get away on a fishing trip. It can even save money by weighing luggage to avoid overweight charges.
The scale weighs in units of kilograms, pounds or ounces, and can convert between units. It is accurate to 1% for loads above 1kg (2.2 lb). Accuracy drops to 4% for loads between 0.25kg (0.55 lb) and 1kg (2.2 lb). Holds a maximum of 40kg (88 lb).

Comes with loop straps for weighing awkward objects such as luggage.
LED USB lamp, black, white
You can easily direct the light where you want it because the lamp arm is adjustable.
Ikea - $3.99
Tweezerman GEAR Essential Grooming Kit
Packed in a convenient, sturdy leather travel case, this men’s grooming kit is full of precise, reliable top grade stainless steel tools. Kit includes Nail Clipper, Scissors, Stainless Steel Tweezer, Multi-Use Nail Tool.
$32 at Shoppers Drug Mart
Klean Kanteen Classic Bottles
18oz classic - $18.00 w/ a sport cap
16oz Vacuum insulated with a café cap - $27.95
Loop cap - $5.95
Klean Kanteen Classic Bottles in a 27oz, 40oz and 64oz version. The Classic bottle is the perfect hydration companion, not only are they stylish, but they keep you healthy and help offset the epidemic of single-use containers one bottle at a time. These also come with interchangeable cap options
Kikkerland Gentleman’s Ice Cube Tray
Made from 100% silicone and dishwasher safe
Kitsch Women’s Golden Goddess Hair Ties
You'll be glowing in golden goodness in this five piece hair tie set consisting of gold glitter, gold chain print, raw silk, tan and chestnut.
Ski Key 2 Lock
Ski Key Systems offers peace of mind plus convenience to skiers & snowboarders. Ski Key offers a quick and affordable solution for locking skis and snowboard at your favourite ski area.
Hot Shots Handwarmers
This handy travel pack makes sure You're set for a whole weekend. With six pairs in each box you can stick one in each boot and glove and pocket or you can share them with your cold friends. Each, separately wrapped, handwarmer lasts about ten hours after opening. Use only as directed.

Hickies Eslastic Lacing System
Cats & Dawgs Bowtie Collars
For those formal occasions where a plain old collar simply won’t do., dress up your pet with our stylish holiday tie. He’ll be the most dapper critter in the room, guaranteed! Woof. (Or meow).
3 scoops o’ sexy
Scoop up this sexy gift and get 3 gift sets in 1 with individually packaged sets of full size hydrating lip balms and complementing tints. It’s one for you…two for me!
Set contains
-       Lollibalm & lollitint
-       Posieblam & posietint
-       Benebalm & benetint
-       $50
Enchanting Eyes – Eyeshadow Palettes:
Fairy lights are twinkling, music is filling the air and the mistletoe awaits… so get on your
glad rags, glitter up and dance the night away! Our enchanting Winter Trend 2014 Collection will help you sparkle through the season!
Enchanting Eyes Eye Shadow Palettes: (1) Dolly Pastels and (2) Frosted Pastels (SRP: $20) Dazzle with glistening colours inspired by frosty winter walks in the park, with 2 pastel palettes in collectible Christmas jumper designs.
Rudolph Snow Land
Insert characters into the snow to create your own personal Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer® SNOWLAND. With fluffy snow that expands to over 100x its original volume when you add water and lasts for weeks, when it’s too cold to play outside, you can keep warm indoors with your own winter wonderland. To rehydrate, just add more water. 7.5" x 5.5" x 2.5".
Paint Your Own Gingerbread Man
by NPW
The perfect after school craft, this Paint Your Own Gingerbread Man is a fun way to add a little personal touch to your holiday decor. It also makes an endearing gift for the youngsters to pass along to their favourite family members! Set includes: 2 paint brushes, 6 paints, 1 wooden gingerbread man, and 1 instructional manual. 4" x 4" x 8".
Rubiks Cube
250 million Rubik's 3x3 Cube puzzles have been sold making it the best selling puzzle or game invented in the last 200 years! This is the smoothest turning Cube with the highest quality labels ever produced. The ultimate brain teaser - billions of combinations.
Balsa Glider Kit
This is the original glider you recall from childhood, still made in Massachusetts by the same firm that developed them in the 1950s, and just as much fun as you remember. It has the same nostalgic look of a '50s-era jet fighter and, as always, comes as a five-piece kit of die-cut balsa parts that press-fit together in seconds (no glue or tools needed). With a little practice, you can make it perform a high "loop-the-loop" maneuver before gliding horizontally for a surprising distance.
11-1/2" long with a 12" wingspan, this classic toy is a thrill for almost any age.
And yes, they are just as fragile as you remember – they won't last forever, but at this price, it's impossible not to get your money's worth (just be sure to order at least one for yourself!).
Made in USA.
Balsa Glider Kit - $3.00 / $2.40
Book Darts
These paper-thin, 1" long bronze markers slide onto the page and securely stay in place.
They are perfect for use as non-slipping bookmarks that can even be positioned to point to a specific line. Unobtrusive and indefinitely reusable, they eliminate the need for bent corners, paper clips, underlining, highlighting, sticky papers, etc.
A good-quality item that is ideal for anyone doing research, they are popular with students, lawyers, executives, research assistants, voracious readers, etc. Tin of 50 markers.
Made in USA.
Acorn Radio & Speaker
Shea-Infused Lounge Socks
Looking foxy! These super cute fox socks are sure to keep your feet soft and toasty. Super-soft inner layer is infused with rich, hydrating Shea Butter to provide continuous moisture for up to 25 washes.
•Non-skid bottom. One-size fits most.
Twisted Peppermint Gift set
Ecocube Xmas Tree
Add 30ml of water to soil initially, and an additional 30ml every few days to keep moist. As with any plant, be sure not to over-water. Keep in a sunlit area and your Ecocube should start sprouting within 2 weeks.
Tired of being out of fresh lavender? Keep your kitchen permanently stocked with this stylish eco-friendly wood planter! Already filled with seed and fertilizer, just add water and there you have it, fresh herbs. For greener living all-year-round, when the plant for the cube becomes too large, you can set the complete Ecocube in a pot with soil and the wooden cube will compost and act as fertilizer for the plant.
3" wooden cube.
Plush Bookmark - Elf
by Andrews + Blaine Ltd
Our Plush Bookmarks from Andrews + Blaine are a quirky and adorable way to hold your place. Handcrafted and featuring a handful of charming details, they’re great stockings stuffers for bookworms of all ages! Measures approximately 3” x 7.25”.
Carabiner LED Light
This convenient small light clips easily to a zipper, backpack or key chain, so it's always on hand when you need it. Visible from a distance, the bright LED makes an ideal safety light for walking at night, providing a soft, diffused light that can be set to glow continuously or flash. You can even attach it to a dog collar to help keep your pet visible in the dark.
The 1-1/4" diameter soft polymer housing is water resistant to withstand adverse weather, and has a stainless-steel carabiner clip. Two replaceable long-life lithium batteries included. Available in white, red, blue or green.
BugLit LED Micro-FlashlightThis is a flashlight with a twist. For hands-free use, its four flexible steel wire legs can be formed into hang hooks or wrapped around an object such as a tent pole, a branch or even a wrist. The legs keep the desired shape while the tough no-slip sheathing grips well for a secure hold, ensuring you can aim the light exactly where you need it.
The bright LED operates on high, low or flash mode, running on two 3V lithium button-cell batteries (included), good for about 22 hours on the low setting. The removable carabiner lets you hang the light from a backpack, zipper or keychain. Body is about 1-3/4" long overall. Available in three colors.
Swedish FireSteel
An excellent emergency tool, this Swedish firesteel is impervious to water. It can be used in any weather condition, producing exceptionally hot, long-burning sparks.
Good for about 3000 strikes, it will light any thin, dry, combustible material (e.g., paper, grass, fine wood shavings).
At 3" long overall, it weighs approximately 1 oz, and comes with a short nylon lanyard and a stainless-steel striker blade with a built-in safety whistle.
Christian Lacroix Jigsaw Puzzle
$38 – www.holtrenfrew

Hanky Panky sets
$88 & $46 - www.holtrenfrew
Jonathan Adler Bottle Stoppers
$28 - www.holtrenfrew
Paul Smith for Movember mittens
Ruby + Ed Slipeprs
$80 - www.holtrenfrew
MoMA M&Co Paperweight
$48 - www.holtrenfrew
Jonathan Adler playing cards
$90 - www.holtrenfrew
Fortnum & Mason tea
$18, $20 & $40 - www.holtrenfrew