Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kitchen Stuff Plus

This store always has lots of interesting little, inexpensive things all year round and they don’t disappoint come holiday season.
Kitchen Stuff Plus carries reasonably priced everyday dish sets for $25 (16pc) and $30 (20pc) that are great for people just starting out on their own (college students) or if you’re in the need to replace your own dishes. If you need ideas for decorating your holiday table on a budget check out their placemat/napkin/napkin ring sets for $18; charger plates in gold, red, silver or bronze for $10/set of 4 or TWO sets for $15; table runners in elegant fabrics or with cute reindeers $15; ball ornament name card holders $5 for a set of six.
Don’t forget the candles! Choose from the 3pc reindeer tealight holders $10; metal votive or pillar holders 2/$6 (snowflake, reindeer, or tree designs); angel shaped candles; Christmas tree shaped tealights in packages of 6 for $5.
As for gift and decorating ideas, check out the Grimm magnets 3/$8; the Roll-Up piano $25; plastic ball ornaments in containers of 30 for $12; the vanilla candle set contains tapers, votives, tealights, floaters and holders all for an amazing $7.50 and the flower candle set is only $10 for 16pcs. In keeping with the “modern” black and white holiday theme there are square glass plates and coasters with snowflake designs on them as well as ceramic mugs. Kitchen Stuff Plus is the place to pick up dish towels no matter what time of the year. You can’t go wrong with three dish towels for $7.50 or two sets of 3 for $12. There’s a whole wall of holiday designs to choose from.
Right now velour wine bags are two for $5; a hot chocolate mug with a tin of cookies is $10; reed diffusers are $8; individual tree ornaments are priced from $1.50-$5 and they have dish sets with reindeer or trees on them if you really want a festive holiday table.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mmmmm Chocolate

They look good, they taste good and they’re always packaged so prettily. Godiva Chocolatier has a variety of items that will be available only during the holiday season. Here’s just a few to get your mouth watering. Holiday Truffle gift boxes with eggnog, gingerbread and maple walnut truffles 6pcs for $17.50; Dark Truffle Heart or Raspberry Chocolate Premiere biscuits $12; milk chocolate Hanukkah gelt; Lady Godiva 2008 Limited Edition Gift Tin – a keepsake tin ‘baring’ the chocolatier’s namesake; Rudy the Bear holding a four piece box of chocolates; and my favourite just for the way they look, G Collection Gift Boxes “the ultimate fusion of art and chocolate”.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Microwave Peanut Brittle

This recipe is so simple. The mixture is very HOT so handle with caution and keep a bowl of ice water and some aloe gel handy, just in case. As all microwaves are different, you may have to reduce microwave times by 1-2 minutes.
1c white sugar
1 c peanuts
1/2c corn syrup
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1tsp baking soda

Stir sugar and corn syrup together in a microwaveable casserole dish. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Add peanuts, stir and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes (until mixture turns light brown). Stir in butter and vanilla and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from microwave and add baking soda. Blend well.

Pour onto cookie sheet and cool for 1-2 hours. Hit brittle with the end of a wooden spoon to break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Keeps for up to a week.

Pier 1 Imports

Ideas galore at this store! Perfect (and affordable) gifts for stocking stuffers or secret Santa at the office. Pink/black/white paper cubes with pictures on all four sides of a purse/dress/handbag/shoe for $10; tape measures in rococo printed cases or metallic hot pink pleather holders for $8; purse-shaped mirror compacts $4; scented candles in holiday decorated tins – mint chocolate chip & orange truffle are just two of the four scents to chose from $4 each; mirrored trinket boxes in a package of 3 for $15; flower rings $6; “diamond” paper weights with their own red satin gift boxes $18; bath confetti $5-$8; candy cane striped candles $8; apple cinnamon tealights in a candy cane shaped box 20/$8; hand made natural soaps $1.50; compact umbrellas in their own case in a variety of colours and prints $15.
They also have lots of decorations and décor items to choose from. Glass ball wreaths or garlands come in red or green $50 & $65 respectively (great Boxing Day purchases!). For those who don’t have room for a Christmas tree and like to buck tradition, Pier 1 has pink sequinned trees and silver beaded trees. Ornaments start at $4 and come in all shapes, sizes and colours. The gold reindeer with the beaded legs is a cutey and the glass birds with feather tails are a must have.
Gift wrap, gift bags, tags and ribbon can also be found here. For something a little different, package a gift in one of their satin covered Chinese food takeout boxes – red or gold – for $3.50.
I was able to practice a lot of self control in this store and my one and only purchase was a couple of boxes of table confetti in silver, miniature diamonds - $5 for 200 pieces.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Cheap gift ideas, cheap decorations. Gotta love it! If you aren’t a regular IKEA shopper, you wouldn’t know that every year they have a “colour scheme” for their holiday items. One year it was blue/white/silver, the next year red/green/beige. This year they’ve done away with the holiday colour scheme so you can choose from items in red, green, white, gold, silver, bronze or blue.
Holiday Décor Items: 62pc (plastic) ornament set includes icicles, snowflakes and balls $14.99; glass birds 2/$9.99; large ball candles in gold or silver 4/$7.99; super soft guest towels red/white snowflake and white/navy snowflake $1.99 – these make great hostess gifts; children’s apron with snowflake print $4.99; paper cocktail napkins in gold/white or silver/white stripes as well as ones with, you guessed it, snowflakes on them in red, blue or green $1.99 for a package of 30.
They also have wrap, bags, cards, gift tags, ribbon and bows for low prices, that get even lower (50% off) during the Moonlight Madness event coming up in December (date not yet known).
Gift Ideas: terry slippers $3.99; milk frother $3; set of three bud vases $14.99; velvet heart shaped cushions $8.99 (purple or brown); frosted glass sectional dish $9.99; stuffed animals from $5.99-$19.99 (beavers, hippos, elephants, turtles, pandas, dragons, and animals you’ve never seen before); soft sided pirate treasure chest toy box with a velcro closure padlock $19.99; hobby horses $14.99; rubber ice cube trays – all sorts of shapes $1.99 – these also make good chocolate molds; numerous frames, farmable postcards, tealights and holders.


At Sephora you’ll find something for the guys and something for the girls. They have a variety of fragrance gift sets for men and women. The one that caught my eye was the Lolita Lempicka set, it’s purple and folds out into a three dimensional dressing room.
Stocking stuffer ideas:
Rosebud Salve $8.50; GoSmile Touch-up $9.00; Sephora mini nail polishes $6 each; Sephora Round-a-Pout four colour lip gloss ball $11; metallic and sequinned makeup bags $18-$22.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gift Sets

Pharma Plus has a lot of items SDM doesn’t and this includes gift sets for the holidays. They have a great one for men, Burt’s Bees Dopp Kit Essential Skincare for men that includes 170g of shave cream, 73ml of aftershave cream, 250ml of shower gel, a bar of soap and a canvas dopp kit to keep it in for $39.99. Sally Hansen has also put together a gift pack for the gentlemen, Male Nails Tool Kit containing hand & nail restoration cream, cuticle repair cream, a buffer, tweezers, nail file and a nylon case to store it in $9.99.
Scünci has two hair accessory gift sets to choose from the “Wrap” $16.99 or the Scarfband set $14.99.
SOHO Style has trendy handbags for $19.99 in leopard print, silver or metallic red.
Disney Read-along CD’s in Dora, Little Mermaid or Instant Classic sets contain 3 CD’s and books for $12.99.
And for a little nostalgia, they have Chia Pet figures in Shrek, Scooby Doo, Homer Simpson and Garfield for $19.99.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Carlton Cards (and more!)

Carlton Cards has gift card holders (holiday themed) in small and large sizes for $2.99. The small holders are similar to a pillow box and the larger ones fold together to form a house. You will find them near the cash register on a display rack along with the gift cards. That right, they sell the gift cards to go in them!
Choose from Starbucks, Swiss Chalet, Subway, iTunes, Foot Locker, Pier 1 Imports, Roots, Chapters/Indigo and Linen'N'Things. Most gift cards are in increments of $25 and will be activated when you pay for them. I personally am a fan of gift cards (as long as they're from a place you regularly visit) as they are never the wrong style, size or colour. And if you're a saavy shopper, you can buy twice as much with your gift card during sale time!

Decorations & Gift Ideas

It’s been a while since I’ve stopped into a Home Outfitters and this weekend it proved to be full of (mostly) affordable holiday decorations and gift ideas. They have beautiful stockings, tree skirts and feather wreaths; cute fingertip towels embroidered with moose or snowmen ($6.99); purse and shoe ornaments – six per package for $30 (this is a Boxing Day 50% off purchase).
Gift ideas include Revlon Styling set (1”ceramic straightener and brush in a hot pink case) $24.99; peppermint lollipop lip gloss 3/$4.99; Oneida silver and white snowflake plates, mugs, teapot and mini cake plate; hot pink martini shaker with crystal studded top $19.99; Tubular wine travel case by Trudeau – complete with corkscrew, pourer/stopper and dripless ring; ice swizzle stick trays $7.99.
A stocking stuffer idea for the eyeglass wearer or cell phone user, Swivelz eyeglass cleaner $4.99.

Pottery Barn

You can be pretty sure you’ll find something you’ll like amongst Pottery Barn's holiday items, whether it’s something to decorate your home or to give as a gift. For the past two years they’ve had some really memorable large-sized candles (trees in 3 sizes or houses to create a “candle” village) but this year I have yet to see these eye-catching items. Never fear, they still have some interesting items this year. Their most mentionable candles are a box of 4 votives in glass holders available in orange blossom, chocolate truffle or neroli spice priced at $36 (the holders are reusable). A few stocking stuffer ideas include moc-croc luggage tags in red or brown for $15 and metal snowflake paperclips $12 for a box of eight.
Their silver “twig” reindeers would add a bit of glitz and cuteness to any mantle and they have a selection of beautiful tree ornaments starting at $8. Don’t overlook the faux fur wine bags ($15) that can be used for small gifts and not just bottles of wine.

It's All in the Wrist

Check out the wallets with wrist strap at Aldo Accessories (unfortunately no photo available for this). These convenient little items have enough room to hold your cash and all of your cards, but are just larger than your hand. A wrist strap can be pulled out of its hidden compartment, leaving your hands free to pick up and try on that great ring/bracelet/pair of gloves you just spotted! The wallet comes in black patent reptile print, metallic bronze and either gray or yellow(?) printed with colourful butterflies and purple or green trim. Being both a wallet and purse all in one, it’s a steal at $20.

Monday, November 19, 2007

For the TV & Movie Watcher

Everyone gets the munchies while watching TV or movies. For a change from the usual potato chips/stale theatre popcorn, why don't you give your favourite couch potato or movie critic a gift from Kernels. They have over a dozen different popcorn flavours to choose from (sweet, salty, savoury) and a portion of them are "low fat" due to being hotair popped.
Tins, pails or buckets can be filled with a selection of 2 or 3 popcorn flavours. They also have bottles of popcorn seasoning for the "do it yourselfers".
My favourite combo is half white cheddar, half lowfat caramel.

Williams Sonoma

We’re going a little high-end this time with gift ideas. Williams Sonoma has lots of kitchenware and bakeware to ooh and aah over on a regular basis, but here’s a few items they’ve gotten in just for the holidays. A gift box containing four snowmen mugs complete with top hats, where you insert the “frother” to whip your hot chocolate, makes a great gift for the cocoa lover ($64.95). Choose from a variety of “cleansers” such as peppermint dish soap 483ml/$12.50 or liquid soap and hand lotion sets for $15 in spiced chestnut or winter forest. There also have a variety of loaves in a box, gingerbread house kits, festive cookie cutters and baking pans to put a smile on any cook’s face.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Body Shop

The Body Shop is one of those stores that have great, affordable gift ideas at holiday time. Here's just a few of them - 60ml of shower gel and shower cream package along with a mesh puff for $12.00. Choose from mango & coconut, satsuma or passhion fruit.
Satsuma shower gel (60ml), watermelon lip balm and a heart shaped soap for $14.00. Shower gel, soap and shimmer lotion in their holiday scents (cranberry, rich plum OR vanilla spice). For the man in your life try the face protector, shower gel and a gray mesh puff gift pack for $17.00.
For those of you who would rather choose your own "gift pack" items, The Body Shop sells gift bags and boxes for $5 and under.


There use to be a Bowring in almost every mall, but they "downsized" and are few and far between these days. Some of the gifts and decorations you will find there - Silver aluminum birds in small $4.99 or medium $5.99 that would look great on any mantel. Beautiful silver, gold or black acrylic charger plates. Glass snowman candy dish $9.99. Good sized snowman or snowflake decorated mugs – 4 per box $14.99. Beautiful black, white and silver glass balls for decorating the tree.
Great little gift: Red or green popcorn “trees”. Coloured popcorn kernels in a tree-shaped package. The popcorn is for microwaves only (“how to” directions printed on package) 349g for $5.99.

Do I bother mentioning the moose dropping or penguin poo? Apparently penguins poo miniture white marshmallows. Who knew?!

Gift Ideas at Shoppers

Yes, Shoppers Drug Mart again. Hey, they’re everywhere and who doesn’t love collecting those Optimum points? It’s possible that some of the following items may not be available at all locations.
For the little one: 13 piece soft toy set of Noah’s Ark $9.99 (regular $24.99)
For him: Calvin Klein cologne “sampler” set; contains 5 bottles (30ml size) of men’s cologne $45.00
Biotherm Homme gift box containing cleanser, exfoliator and moisturizer $35
Neutrogen Men gift pack with hair & body wash, shave gel, post shave lotion, handcream and a travel bag to put it all in $14.99

Holiday Cards

Believe it or not, Shoppers Drugmart always has a great selection of boxed holiday cards. I’m tempted to wait for Boxing Day sales before I purchase them, but I know the ones I really like will be gone by then and with most boxes priced at $6.99 for 10 cards, why wait?
I have my eye on a few of them – the polar bear sporting a green felt hat with a pompom (also available in penguin wearing a red felt beret or angel with felt hair and “glowing” cheeks) box of 12 for $7.99; the “make your own scenes” cards that come with stickers you put on a background containing either snowmen or penguins $5.99 for 5 cards; and I just saw the pop-up cards 10/$7.99 available in four different scenes.
Selections vary from store to store, but you’re sure to find something that appeals to you.

Christmas Tree in a Box

You don't have to worry about cleaning up needles or figuring out the colour coding for the (fake) branches.
Christmas Tree in a Box includes an 80-page full-colour book, directions for folding five origami ornaments and instructions for assembling the kit’s centerpiece -the almost two foot tall Christmas tree, complete with ornaments, star topper and tree stand. Great for a child's room, kitchen, or desktop. It's really quite cute and a very clever idea.
Christmas Tree in a Box is available at Indigo/Chapters and sells for $17.95

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Helpful Holiday Hints

The holidays are coming so I’ll be posting gift ideas and and places to shop for great, affordable holiday decorations.

Let’s start with my favourite item to kick off the holiday season – Advent Calendars. The ones with pictures behind the windows are nice, but the ones filled with chocolates are nicer. I’m not talking about the calendars with no-name/unknown chocolates, I’m talking the GOOD kind.
Lindt does ones for $12.99 available at Winners.
Nutty Chocolatier have ones from Cadbury and Laura Secord has calendars for only $10 and each chocolate is wrapped in colourful foil representing snowmen, nutcrackers, Santa, etc. YUMMY!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Proctor & Gamble Warehouse Sale

The annual P&G Warehouse Sale is under way and well worth the visit. Wear your comfortable shoes and go early in the day if possible because this is a very popular event. Be prepared to spend 30-45 minutes standing in line, but thankfully most of the line-up takes place inside the warehouse so you don’t have to worry about the elements. You’ll find great deals on P&G products such as Pampers, Swiffer, Febreze, Always, Bounty, Pringles, Crest and Cover Girl Cosmetics.
Some of the great deals you will find - Pantene scrunching spray gel for $1.50; Daisy disposable razors (10/pk) $5; Charmaine (6 jumbo rolls) $5; Tampax tampons (18 count) $3; Venuse Divine razor blades 4/pkg for $8; Pringles 100 calorie individual servings (6 servings/pkg) for $2; John Frieda Radiant Red shampoo or conditioner 3 for $10; Cover Girl lipstick and lipgloss $3 and $5.
There is also a section with men’s (Pint Zero, Tommy Hilfiger), women’s and children’s (Kushies, Levi’s, OshKosh) clothing reduced by 50% or more as well as Cambridge towels, name-brand fragrances, DVDs and books.
1160 Birchmount Rd, Toronto; Mon-Fri 10am-8pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 11am-5pm; Sale is on until Nov 18th.
4 blocks south of the P&G sale is the Johnson & Johnson warehouse sale located at 200 Ashtonbee Rd, Toronto; same times and dates as P&G

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Make-up Galora!

Just a reminder that the new Toronto location of Sephora opens tomorrow, Friday November 2nd at 10am. 131 Bloor St, just east of Avenue Road.

Shop and Donate

The new Canadian Tire store (70,000 square feet!) at Lakeshore and Leslie in Toronto is celebrating its grand opening. As with all new Can Tire stores, this one has a Mark's Work Warehouse.
From November 1-4 people are encouraged to drop off gently used winter clothing at Mark's and in return they will receive a 20% discount on anything purchased in the store. The donated items will be given to the United Way.
So clean out those closets (to make room for new items) and support a good cause in the process!
Check out the huge Shoppers Drugmart while you're there. They have a food & beverage section (mini grocery store), a beauty boutique and a large mother & baby section.