Friday, April 27, 2012

Avoiding a Baby Shower Gift Faux Pas

Everyone always talks about April showers and May flowers. Well, there’s another kind of shower popular in the month of april, but it doesn’t bring may flowers. It brings may babies! That’s right, it’s baby shower season. 

Time to reach into my arsenal of covert baby shower gifting tactics. I’ve written about baby shower gift ideas before on the blog. You can read last year’s blog here (insert link). I’m not a mother myself so I’m always terrified I’m going to give the one gift that will leave people snickering later on in the evening. Nothing like a shower faux pas to scar someone for life. Sure, I’ve been to more baby showers than I can count on my fingers and toes, so I’m armed with some experience, but I still like to do my research (chatting with moms and some intense reading) to make sure I’m in the know. 

So I figured, since last year I spoke about what gifts make good ideas, I’d talk about what gifts make horrible gifts (the kinds that will get you on the watch list of all future mothers to be). Learn from other’s mistakes, and then you can just sit back, enjoy the finger sandwiches and baby themed cupcakes without that lingering anxiety of having picked the wrong gift.

Religious-themed gifts
This can be totally fine, as long as you’re certain about the parent’s religious leanings. Otherwise, stay away from porcelain crosses, silver religious necklaces, or bibles. Nothing puts a damper on a fun baby shower quite like a religion debate.

Soaps or lotions
Again, this can be a good option, but if you’re going to buy any sort of lotions or potions buy off the registry the parent’s have designated. That way you’re sure to be buying the products they prefer and will therefore use. Some parents like scented products while others prefer unscented. Some will only use organic products while others have no preference. So unless you’re 100% certain, stay away from this category of gifts.  

Check the registry before buying big-ticket items
Doubles, triples, and quadruples are great for onesies, diapers, and sometimes even bibs. But really, what is a mother to do with 3 car seats, 4 booster seats, and multiple diaper genies. Before you invest in a big-ticket item, check the registry, and if you can, conspire with other shower guests to make sure there won’t be any repeats.  

Check the gender
Oh, this is such an important one! That set of beautiful pink hair bows and that floral onesie would be adorable for a little girl. Too bad the shower invitation card said that they were having a boy. If the parents reveal the gender beforehand, make sure you read the card carefully. And if in doubt, go gender neutral. 

Anything needing dry-cleaning
That gorgeous silk onesie is a good idea in theory. Until the mom flips over the tag and finds that it’s dry-clean only. Now, I might have time to dry clean my favorite dress before an evening out. But I’m a single gal with the time for things like that. When you have a newborn, there’s not a lot of time for impromptu runs to the dry cleaners. So step away from that white cashmere sweater….I know it’s cute, but you can do it. Just walk away.  

And for a good laugh I was reading some of the funniest “Worst Baby Shower” gift memories from a Rogers yahoo forum. Including such gems as:

  • Condoms (I might have laughed when I read this. But depending on their circumstances, I’m not too sure the mother-to-be would laugh)
  • A used/filled in memory book
  • A maple syrup spigot (no idea why that would show up at a baby shower. Proud Canadians maybe?) Perhaps an ideal alternative would be:

  • “A blank card with a $10 bill inside. The person wrote in it ‘I didn’t know what was an appropriate gift since you’re adopting and not having a baby the normal way so I have enclosed some cash for you to pick something” (Note people: A gift card with a nicer, less offensive note might be a better option)
  • Candle holders

It’s true that it is the thought that counts. Mothers appreciate you taking the time to carefully select a gift (regardless of the price) and encourage them on their special day. Having said this, always include a gift receipt. Make it as easy as possible for the parents to return any duplicates or unneeded gifts. Don’t be offended if they do need to return your gift. It’s not ungratefulness. Having a newborn baby can be a huge strain on time and finances and sometimes parents need all the help they can get!

A few interesting products that are useful and unique!

If you’re not a parent yourself, I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories. That white nursery/ ceiling should stay that way. And poor mom and dad shouldn’t have to wear a plastic suit when it comes to diaper changing time. This is a easy, and totally adorable solution. 

Perfect for those sunny summer days at the beach to protect baby’s eyes! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Thank You to Mothers Everywhere

May is coming up quickly, so that means that Mothers Day is approaching as well.  Lately I’ve been spending some time thinking about my mother and what she means to me. My mother has done so much for me, and been beyond amazing, so I try to treat every day like mother’s day, but it’s nice to have one specific day dedicated to her every year where she gets to be the complete centre of attention. (and boy does she deserve it!)

When I was little my mother and I got along like peanut butter and jelly. I have the cutest picture of the two of us sitting on my bed when I was about 4 reading a book together. We’re both wearing red sweaters and jeans and totally matching. Knowing me, I probably orchestrated that, wanting to be just like my mom. Now, I was four and I hadn’t quite figured out how to give my parent’s sass yet. Come about age 13, my relationship with my mother changed, as I hit adolescence and became the usual pouty, self-absorbed, sassy teen girl. It wasn’t until the end of high school that I started to really recognize just how lucky I was, and that I was taking my mother, and our relationship for granted. I sometimes wish I could take back all the times I argued with my mom about cleaning my room, fighting with my sibling, or buying that brand name sweater. But rather than dwell on the past, I try to let my mom know as much as I can how much she means to me.

The truth is, Mom’s have a hard job. They watch us make mistakes, and have to sit back and let us make them, knowing that it’s how we learn lessons, and turn those mistakes into successes. Sure, that one boyfriend was a jerk, and my mom later told me after that she thought he was way too boring for me. But she knew I had to take my time, and date him for a bit so I would know what to avoid in my next relationship. I swear, mothers are jedi mind masters, and always seem to know the answer to everything one of life’s questions. But I think the hardest thing for them is to sometimes resist telling us all the answers (even if they know them) so we can figure it out on our own. 

One of the most important things my mother has done for me is believe in me and all my crazy dreams. That sounds cheesy, but boy have I had a lot of dreams. Some worked out, some didn’t. But my mother never faltered in supporting me. When I said I wanted to return to dance half way through high school, she immediately sourced a ballet barre for my room. In high school when I brought the notice home about the class trip to London England, her and my dad secretly conspired to get me there, even if it meant they had to move some finances around. They wanted me to see the world. Years later, my mom bought my plane ticket to Europe, saying she didn’t want me to have to take out a bigger student loan. She wanted me to go with my best friend and experience the trip of the lifetime we’d been planning since grade 11. And of course there were all the times when I said “mom, I’m going to fail this test!” or “mom, what if I don’t get honours? Will you be disappointed in me.” She’d always scoff, and say that she could never be disappointed in me, that I was an amazing kid, and all that mattered was that I tried my best. From childhood to adulthood, my career goals changed constantly, from wanting to be a teacher (like this school-themed Barbie I had), to a video editor (like my dad), to a television producer, to a graphic designer, to a PR specialist, to an activist with an NGO, to a professor. In first year university I’d call her saying “mom, I love my classes, but I’m afraid this degree is useless and I’m going to end up flipping burgers my whole life talking about Marx and Foucault” In those moments when you’re doubting yourself, it means the world to have someone believe in you. I still have all the birthday and Christmas cards from my parents since grade 4. Every once and a while I like to go through and read them. And the one thing I always notice is that they never had a shortage of encouraging words for me. Even during those teen years when I argued with my mom too much and didn’t say “I love you” nearly enough, the cards from her are just as loving.

So mom, May 13th is your day to feel like a princess. It’s my turn to treat you. And to all the other moms out there – new moms, moms with kids, moms with teenagers, moms with adults who have left the nest, you have the hardest job in the world and you deserve all the respect, love, and attention you get on your special day!

I love this necklace for my mom, because she’s more than my mother. She’s my best friend.

Boy are the words on this necklace so true. Like I said earlier, moms have mind reading superpowers!

And I love how unique these cards are! Not the usual drug-store or big box store card. And it comes with a cute little keepsake charm. 

And for fun, here’s a link to an adorable mother’s day Olympic-themed commercial that just came out yesterday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning Round 1 - My Jewelry Box

Okay, so to all my friends it’s no mystery that I love Spring!. In February I count down the days until I can break out my extensive dress collection, my pastel-coloured tops, my bright nail polishes, and my cute flats.

image from pinterest

 April and May roll around, and there’s a little skip in my step, and a smile on my face until one day I take a good look around my house and see the cold, dirty truth. My jewelry box is overflowing, my closet is filled to the brim, there’s a little too much leftover winter grime on my windows.
Time for Spring Cleaning! It really isn’t that bad…after you’re done. I always feel about a million times better once I’ve sorted through all my winter baggage and cleared room for a new spring fresh start. But nevertheless, I don’t exactly look forward to all that carpet cleaning, closet sorting andceiling dusting madness. I just wish my cleaning lady would take on this job as well but I guess it is really me that has to go through my closet to make some tough decisions.

So to make things a little less overwhelming I like to break things down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Last week I tackled my jewelry box. I went through the box and really asked myself what I should get rid of. No point taking up valuable space with pieces that I don’t wear or need. I made a pile of the jewelry I’ve had forever and no longer wear, the Pieces I have from friends or family and hate to part with but are outdated, Pieces that Ihave lost or broken (I have waaay too many single earrings too). Of course, with the pieces that are still in good shape, I always feel so horrible having to throw them away.

Here are some fresh ideas to help reduce, reuse and recyle – I want to do my part to help the planet too!  So instead of tossing them in the trash bin I:

·      look to see if any local jewelry designers can re-use the pieces, or even create something new for me from those pieces.
·      try selling old jewelry on craigslist or kijiji.
·      have a jewelry swap with friends - everyone brings the pieces they don’t want or need anymore, we crack open a bottle of wine, pop in a chick flick, and look through the jewelry pile to make a swap.  
·      donate my clothes or jewelry to great causes like Dress for Success, a group that provides professional attire for disadvantaged women so they can get that power job in a power suit.  

So of course, the second I’ve cleaned out my jewelry box I realize…”hmm..there’s a lot more room in there.” So I treat all my hard work with a new piece or two that showcases this year’s spring trends perfectly.

So confession time: I have a bit of a floral obsession…especially come springtime. So I have my eye on this baby. That big bright flower just makes my heart happy.

Another obsession of mine has to be nautical inspired pieces. I never like to go the full out nautical route with the bright stripes and blue, white, and red colour scheme. Way too obvious for my taste. But I do love a little hint of nautical here and there. And this bracelet is just too adorable to pass up. The pretty pink pastel (another spring fav of mine!) mixed with the gold and the grey just looks so chic I can’t help but daydream about all the outfits I’ll be wearing it with.

Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share? Do you like spring cleaning or do you put it off for weeks (until it’s really summer or fall cleaning…)?  Until next week – Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sisters: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Whether you have a sister yourself or not, I’m sure at one point or another you’ve heard someone say something really nice about their sister, followed by some sort of complaint, followed by a rant about the things their sister does to annoy them. But in the end, it always comes back to the good. Sisters mean that you have a best friend, a teammate, a confidant, a hairstyler, a manicurist, and a workout buddy always on hand!

The Bad:
-       They take camera phone photos of themselves while you’re driving to jail….oh, okay well I guess that’s just the Kardashians.


-       They steal your clothes à Maybe this should be in the ugly category…because regardless of whether you are a teenage or adult and  you’re looking for that super hot new top to wear on your first date with that cute guy that you just met, and you find out your sister stole it the day before. Well, that’s how things go from bad to ugly reeeaaal quick.

The Ugly:
-       Competition à oh,  competition is like a dirty word for siblings. Naturally, someone is always smarter, more athletic, has better hair, has more boyfriends, gets more attention from mom and dad, has a better job, gets married first…oh the list could go on. But in the end, we’re all different and we each have our unique strengths. So we support each other.

The Good:
-       As much as everyone always has their arguments, there’s always more good moments than bad with my sister. I probably have the best sister I could have ever asked for. Sure, we get mad, but we can never stay mad. My sister would do anything for me and I would do anything for her... well almost.... (I don’t want her to get any ideas!) I know that no matter what’s thrown my way, I’ll always have someone on my team.
-       She’ll listen for hours about my crazy weekend antics, boy woes and girl friend troubles. And of course, she’s always 100% honest with me. She’ll let me know if I am really wrong about something or if I am right on and not really crazy
-       She give me useful hints on the latest in skin care, teaches me how to wear make-up, tells me that I am amazing, and offers to help whenever I need it
-       Even when I need her help to dress up in some Orangefish gear, she’s always up for it. She even sweated it out on the hottest weekend of summer at the Orangefish booth in the Beach’s Jazz Fest (and for those of you who came…you know how hot it was!)

Famous Celeb Sisters:
Thanks to good ol’ Hollywood, we get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of sister relationships play out right before our eyes. And because we’re not involved, we can just sit back, watch it all unfold, and eat popcorn!

Khloe, Kim, and Kourtney:
I hate to contribute to the already over-hyped Kardashian clan, but they are sisters. And this is a blog about sisters. These three sisters definitely have their share of drama. Through the sex tapes, short engagements, even shorter marriages, they stick around and help each other out (and provide us with like, 9 seasons of resulting drama)

Brothers drop spiders down your back. Sisters, they help you get the spiders off….or sit back and laugh at you panic.

Kate and Pippa Middleton
If growing up with the Kardashionan sisters was hard, imagine hearing that your sister is marrying a Prince?! How do you fix that? Wear a fabulous white dress on her wedding day and steal her dress thunder. So yeah, maybe you’re not a princess, but at least your but looks great in your dress!

My own sister’s birthday is coming up in a few days and I want to get her something fabulous to thank her for being so amazing. Here’s what I’m deciding between:

Bath Bombs: So she can take a relaxing bath after I’ve stressed her out after venting about all my problems

“my sister, my friend, through thick and thin”
A beautiful silver necklace because a girl can never have too much jewelry!

Or this is my personal favourite – the bicycle wine rack.  Anyone that knows my sister knows that she loves her wine.  The only problem with this wine rack is that there is only enough room for one bottle. Well at least when she is done one she can burn off those calories by biking home to get the second bottle!

An adorable card where I can write a nice long, heartfelt message to her. Can I make her cry? Challenge accepted!

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