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Last Minute Valentine’s Day Shopping Tips

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday. The hard part is finding a gift that expresses how you feel about your Valentine. Love is one of those things that can be tough to express.


What Do You Want To Express?

Because you’re shopping at the last minute hasty decisions are tempting. The first step involves thinking through what kind of love you’re trying to express. Your gift should reflect your relationship with this person. Always remember: you don’t have to stick to generic greeting cards and flowers. If you want to make your Valentine happy cater to their interests.



Be Creative!

Thinking outside the box is a great way to treat your Valentine to something that they deserve. It’s also a clever and thoughtful way to make your Valentine feel special.  Satisfying a need is the perfect, outside the box approach to Valentine’s Day shopping. Great examples of this include treating your Valentine to a relaxing day at the spa, or a new puppy (Talk to them first about it and make sure you’re both ready!).  No matter what you decide to get your Valentine creativity is key. Don’t be afraid to turn it into a fun, quirky, event.  You can buy everything from Knight-A-Grams, to custom cakes on Kijji.


Sometimes The Perfect Gift Is Online…

If you’re not the crafty type, and you want to find the perfect gift you’re in luck. The digital age is making it easier than ever for people to buy and sell online. Kijiji has a wide variety of used, handmade, and one of a kind items for sale. You can also google local jewelry, clothing, and accessory makers in your area. A lot of local designers are branching out into the e- commerce industry. E-commerce websites are a great way to find the perfect gift for any occasion. They thrive based on their ability to connect designers to customers in their area. If you want to find the perfect gift for your Valentine you might not even have to leave your house!


Don’t Overspend Or Go Overboard

Sticking to a budget, and keeping it simple is important. Never forget the most important part of Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love. All it takes is one thoughtful, small gesture to express how you feel. Expressing your love with less conveys a clear message. Expressing your love with a lot of bulk can lead to the message getting lost in translation.  If you keep it simple both your Valentine and your wallet will thank you for it.


Compare Prices

It’s easier to save money than you think.  If you want to get the best possible deal on your Valentine’s Day gift be open to comparing costs. To compare costs you have to be open to investigating what people are charging. Before buying an item compare prices at a wide variety of stores, both on and off line. You can sometimes spend less money on the same item elsewhere. If you can’t find a good deal on whatever gift you’re looking for used versions are often cheaper. If you choose to buy a used item online proceed with caution.




When in doubt listen to what your gut instincts are telling you. Don’t let the pressure of last minute shopping cloud your judgment.


What do you have planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

How to Deal With Snow: Don’t let winter win

If this is going to be your first winter in one of Canada’s snowy regions, you may not be very skilled at dealing with snow. Don’t let winter catch you off guard, though. Instead, learn how to deal with the snow and ice before it arrives. Prepare early by investing in snow removal tools, warm winter clothing, winter accessories for your vehicle, and a home emergency kit in case of a storm or power outage. Even if winter seems mild so far this year, don’t be left out in the cold, both literally and figuratively, when harsh weather does hit.

Use the Right Tools

There are a range of options available for dealing with snow removal on your property. From shovels to mechanical snow blowers, each tool serves its own purpose, though ultimately they all exist to help clear snow from sidewalks and driveways. If you have a large area to clear and regularly have heavy snow, it may be best to invest in a mechanical snow blower, which can handle large snow-clearing jobs with minimal effort on your part. There are two main types of snow blowers: one-stage and two-stage models. One-stage models are fine for those who have smaller spaces to clear, while two-stage models have the additional capacity to break up compacted clumps of snow and ice and are ideal for large areas.

For handheld, non-mechanical tools, the snow shovel is the classic all-purpose tool, but it isn’t right for every job. If you have a small amount of loose, powdery snow, use a snow pusher to clear it away rather than a shovel, which is best for scooping and lifting. Pushers won’t work on larger snow piles; that’s what shovels are for. If the small piles of snow are not removed, they could become compacted and build up a layer of ice, which may then require you to invest in a scraper to get rid of it.

Other snow tools, such as roof rakes, may also be necessary. These rakes help clear heavy piles of snow off of your roof, which may save your home from structural damage if you’re dealing with a large amount of snow. It’s also a good idea to have some type of gritty material such as sand or salt to create traction on icy parts of your driveway or walking paths.

Make an Epic Snowman this Winter!

If you aren’t already properly equipped with a winter wardrobe, take the time before temperatures dip below freezing to buy yourself a sturdy pair of boots, a warm parka, gloves, a hat, thermal underwear, and any other warm clothing you might need. Wearing several thin layers of clothing is more effective in keeping you warm than one bulky layer. Layering also allows you to remove a layer or two if you get too warm, which prevents excess sweating and actually keeps you warmer. If you are new to an area, don’t hesitate to ask your friends, coworkers, neighbours, or classmates about what to expect during wintertime and what clothing and accessories are best suited for the local climate.

Also, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for winter driving. If you’re new to a snowy climate, it may be a good idea to take some winter driving classes to learn how to safely drive over snow and ice. Make sure the heater, defroster, and wipers are working correctly and top off fluids such as antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Check tire tread depth, and if necessary, get a set of winter tires fitted when temperatures start falling. Lastly, assemble an emergency kit to leave in the car that includes ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, and blankets.

Have an Emergency Plan

Though most of Canada is well equipped to deal with heavy snow, occasionally there are major storms that knock out power and other utility services for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. When this happens, getting out of your house may be challenging. Stock up on non-perishable, easy-to-prepare foods and have a supply of clean drinking water as well. A camping stove or grill is good to have so you can warm up meals if necessary. Keep plenty of warm blankets in the house and invest in emergency supplies such as a first aid kit, weather radio, flashlight, batteries, and candles.

Take Up a Winter Hobby

When you live in a snowy climate, it helps to have an attitude of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Give yourself a reason to look forward to the snowy season by getting into a winter sport. If you don’t live near an area with downhill skiing, get into snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. And of course, living in Canada, it’s hard to ignore the allure of hockey. Getting active and learning how to make the most of all that frozen white stuff will make your life a lot more enjoyable. You can’t get rid of all of it, so make peace with it instead.

Take Up a Winter Hobby, like Skiing

Balancing Health and Holiday Indulgence: Avoid unnecessary stress about food

There are many things to worry about during the holiday season, and if you’re concerned about your health, the thought of consuming all those tempting holiday food treats may cause some grief. However, you don’t need to totally deny yourself during the festive season. Instead, use some smart strategies to keep yourself on track with diet and exercise while still enjoying the bounty of deliciousness that surrounds you.

Don’t Skip Your Exercise

During the holidays, it is easy to use the hustle and bustle of the season as an excuse for not following normal routines and schedules. If you tend to exercise only because you know you have to and not because you actually want to, it may be tempting to avoid exercise during the holiday season. This is especially true if you don’t have time to get in a good workout. But any amount of activity counts, so try to increase your activity by taking stairs instead of elevators or adding some extra vigour to outdoor chores such as snow shoveling.

Balancing Health & Holiday Indulgence

While you may not be able to exercise with your normal vigour, it’s still important to stay active during the holidays. If nothing else, exercise will help offset any guilt you feel for overindulging on sweets and rich meals. If you can’t make it to the gym or do your normal workout routine, go for a walk. Try to plan a family activity that involves some sort of outdoor sport, such as ice skating or snowshoeing. See your holiday shopping errands as an opportunity to get some extra activity and take a couple of extra laps around the mall at a quicker pace. You can even watch some yoga instruction videos online and get your exercise that way. Whatever you do, keep moving. Don’t save exercise for January.

Don’t Be Too Strict

Plenty of people have the best of intentions when it comes to consuming holiday foods. For example, if sweets are your weakness, it’s not realistic to think that you’ll be able to avoid them entirely during the holiday season. Your ability to say no is probably going to wear out at some point. The key is to set yourself up for success by planning to have one or two treats maximum at each event you attend. You can employ a simple strategy of filling up on healthy foods to avoid overindulging.

Holiday parties that don’t include a meal usually have an abundance of small-but-unhealthy finger foods that add up quickly. Don’t show up to one of these parties without eating something first, or you’ll be more likely to binge on sugary and fatty treats. Have a healthy, hearty snack or meal beforehand. Try to eat something with fiber, such as fruits or vegetables, and something with healthy fat and protein, like nuts or some fish. Fiber, protein, and healthy fats can help you feel full, which means you’ll be less likely to lose your mind and eat an entire plate of cookies than you would be if you showed up hungry.

Balancing Health & Holiday Indulgence

If you’re going to be sitting down to a holiday meal, try to load up half of your plate with fruits and vegetables for every serving you eat. Use a light hand with tasty-but-unhealthy additions such as gravy and cheese, but don’t avoid them altogether if you don’t want to. Once you’ve got the healthy eating out of the way, you can choose your one or two indulgence treats. Eat your treats slowly so you can savor the taste.

Control Your Portions

Part of the goal of using the “don’t show up hungry” strategy is to keep portion sizes reasonable. If you aren’t too hungry, you’ll be more likely to stick with just one cookie rather than eating four or five. When it comes to holiday meals, too, stay mindful of portion sizes. Yes, you’ll probably want to indulge in your Christmas dinner, but if you’re trying to lose weight or be mindful of your health, you don’t want to blow it on this one meal. Instead, stick to reasonable portion sizes. If half of your plate is veggies and fruits, you have half of the plate to divide between meats and starches.

Watch What You Drink

Drinks can be a surprising source of sugar, sodium, and calories, and that goes double for alcohol. Try to avoid drinking too much egg nog or seasonal soda and juices. Opt for water instead. If you find plain water boring, try some sparkling mineral water or flavoured seltzer. Drink a glass of water at whatever party or meal you attend that has you worried about your food intake. Water helps keep you hydrated and also takes up room in your stomach, which can help prevent you from overindulging.

Balancing Health & Holiday Indulgence

When it comes to alcohol, think carefully about how it changes your behaviour. If you’re more likely to stop caring about your diet after a few drinks, limit your drinking to a single glass of wine or a single beer. Ask a partner or friend to help hold you accountable. You may choose to stay sober for the majority of the parties and meals you attend during the holiday season and only enjoy alcoholic beverages for one or two nights. One good way of keeping yourself honest if you choose to stick to this plan is to volunteer to be the designated driver. Your friends will appreciate you stepping up, and you’ll be able to keep your eye on the prize as far as your health goals are concerned.


The Best Homemade Christmas Gifts: Holiday treats made with love

It can be a challenge to find Christmas gifts for every single person on your list, especially if you want to distribute gifts at work or you have a large family. In place of an expensive, store-bought gift for everyone on your list, instead opt for something handmade. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be crafty to whip up these clever gifts. Most of these projects simply require a bit of time and money to create thoughtful festive treats that won’t break the bank or throw your schedule into a tailspin.

Mason Jar Magic

There are lots of homemade gifts that you can make using mason jars as a container. It also doubles as decorative packaging. Just add a decorative tag that includes a list of ingredients and, if necessary, detailed instructions, including the addition of any perishable ingredients such as eggs or milk, and required oven temperature and baking time.

Mulling Spices: Assemble some mulling spices, which include allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel, and gift them either on their own or paired with a bottle of wine or apple cider that is well suited for mulling.

DIY mulling spices

Baking Mixes: Layered baking mixes are a great option for holiday gifts. These mix jars include layers of all the dry ingredients needed to make baked goods such as cookies and muffins. All the gift recipient will have to do is mix in the wet ingredients such as milk and eggs and bake – just remember to include instructions!

Candles: Homemade candles are surprisingly easy to make. Stock up on supplies such as soy wax, wicks, and essential oils for scent. You can pick holiday-appropriate scents such as mint or cinnamon and even add some colour to the candle. Pour it into a clear mason jar or another heat proof container and you’ve got a lovely decorative gift. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby whenever melting wax, just in case.

Homemade Infusions: Use mason jars to assemble homemade infusions of things like herbed olive oil, flavoured liqueurs, or spiced vinegar. Buy a bottle of your liquid of choice and put it into a large container with herbs, fruit, or spices for a few weeks before straining and decanting into mason jars.

Festive Flowers

Fresh flowers are always well appreciated, and for the winter holiday season, these make a lovely hostess gift or present for the friend who has everything. Choose red and white flowers such as red roses and white lilies and add in fragrant greenery such as evergreen branches and rosemary or juniper sprigs. Wrap the bouquet in festive paper or present it pre-arranged in a decorative vase. If using a clear vase, give it a festive twist by adding cranberries to the vase before sticking the flowers in.

DIY flower arrangements

Bountiful Baskets

Gift baskets are great gifts for people you don’t know very well but still want to treat. They’re an especially big hit in workplaces around the holidays. These multi-part gifts are a good idea for just about anyone, but are an especially apt choice for individuals with families who can share the goodies in the basket. Build the basket around a specific theme rather than just throwing together random items. Choose a sturdy, attractive basket or a similar container such as a decorative bowl or serving tray and wrap everything together in clear cellophane.

Movie Basket: A movie-themed basket is a fun idea because it allows the gift giver to include a variety of different snacks such as gourmet popcorn or movie theatre candy. You can also include a gift certificate for movie tickets or a DVD to watch at home.

Tea Basket: Build a basket around a few boxes of assorted loose or bagged tea. Include additional tea accessories such as a mug, tea biscuits, honey, and a lemon.

Spa Basket: Gather together some pampering products such as scented lotions, bath salts, candles, and face masks. Also include some health and beauty accessories such as exfoliating towels or warm and fuzzy socks. A CD of relaxing spa music is also a nice touch.

Snack Basket: Get a variety of different tasty treats, making sure to hit a bunch of different flavour profiles. You can include chocolate and fruit-flavoured candies for something sweet, nuts and pretzels for something salty, and even some drinks such as beer, wine, hot chocolate, or soda.

DIY gift baskets

Homemade Gift Tips

Presentation is important when it comes to homemade gifts. There is no need to go overboard with the wrapping, but make sure each element is presented in an attractive way. Adding embellishments like curls of ribbon or small faux flowers will make the final gift presentation look polished and festive. Make sure to personalise the gifts you give to match the recipient’s tastes, too. For example, if you’re planning on giving out mulling spices, don’t give a bottle of wine to someone who you know doesn’t drink alcohol. Substitute a nice jug of apple cider instead.

Winter Gift Ideas: Score big with these awesome gifts

Kitchen Gadgets

Silverware & kitchen gadgets are a great gift

Kitchen items are good gifts for anyone on your list who loves to cook or bake. It’s an especially good idea for young adults, newlyweds, or individuals who’ve recently moved to a new house. Well-reviewed blenders, stand mixers, and juicers are all good options.

Gift Cards

Gift cards

While many people avoid gift cards because they seem a bit impersonal, they’re usually a much better alternative than a random gift the recipient may not actually want. Gift cards are available for specific stores or services such as or the iTunes Store, or opt for general-purpose gift cards such as an American Express Gift Card, which is essentially a prepaid debit card.

Small Luxury Items

Scarves: a classic holiday gift.

While a pack of plain white socks makes for a legendarily boring gift, that doesn’t mean that all small accessories are off limits, especially if you opt for luxurious materials. Silk or cashmere scarves, angora hats, and soft leather gloves are all great options for small luxury gifts that will please most adult recipients.

Bar Gear

Cocktail shakers and bar accessories are a great gift for the at home bartender

Anyone on your list who loves to entertain or has a particular enthusiasm for craft cocktails may appreciate receiving some bar gear. Cocktail shakers, glassware sets, and bar tools such as lemon zesters or muddlers make useful and welcome gift components. Include a bottle of liqueur and a cocktail recipe book to complete the gift.

High-End Tech Accessories

Fancy headphones are a great gift for a music lover

One good gift-giving strategy is to buy someone something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. This often means buying a nicer version of common tech items such as high-tech headphones or a well-reviewed Bluetooth speaker set.

Art Books

Picture books aren’t just for kids. Anyone you know who loves art, design, or fashion will be happy to receive a beautifully printed hardcover art book. Crafty folks may be happy with one of the many intricate and well-designed colouring books that have recently been published for adults.


Cash is always a welcome gift for young people

Cash may not be a suitable gift choice for financially stable, well-established adults, but in many cases, cash is a thoughtful and supportive gift that speaks volumes. For a hardworking niece who’s saving for a vacation or younger brother who’s planning to buy an engagement ring for his sweetheart, a cash gift is a sign that you’re aware of their priorities and want to help out.

Spa Services

Give the gift of relaxation with spa treatments

This gift is best reserved for someone you know well who has previously expressed positive feelings toward spa services such as massages and skin treatments. Those who fall into this category will certainly appreciate the treat.


Vacations are a great gift for a partner or family member

Vacations are wonderful gifts because they require a lot of planning and are typically a bit of an investment. If you plan on giving a close friend or loved one a vacation, try not to schedule it without getting their go-ahead first. Instead, you can box up some items related to the destination and say that all the planning and expenses are on you.


Laptops, tablets and phones are always a coveted gift

Expensive electronics are usually a foolproof gift, especially for individuals who may not be able to afford exactly what they want. A younger relative who’s in university, for example, may really appreciate getting a brand-new laptop.

Concert or Theatre Tickets

Theatre or concert tickets: a great experience for someone with everything.

Shared experiences are excellent gifts for anyone on your list, and tickets to a concert or theatre event can be enjoyable both for the gift giver and recipient. This is an especially good idea if someone on your list loves a particular play, musical, or band.

Hobby Gear

High quality camping gear is a great gift for an outdoorsy man or woman

Items that correspond with the recipient’s hobbies are likely to be a big hit. For example, if you have an avid cyclist on your list, a high-end pair of cycling gloves will be well appreciated. Frequent campers may be excited to receive a super-lightweight, high-tech sleeping bag. Try to remember if you’ve heard the gift recipient talk about wanting a specific item or needing to replace an old piece of gear and buy accordingly.