Who has not seen episodes or clips of the Oprah Winfrey Show episodes called “Oprah’s Favourite Things”? Those were some pretty crazy shows with some huge giveaways. The take-away message for me was to liberally share ideas of products I recently discovered or products I really enjoyed. You never know when that sharing of ideas could offer that last gift idea someone needs but doesn’t know what to get.
At this time of year, many people are making a list and checking it twice, sometimes looking for fresh ideas for the gift giving season. Here are some of my most recent favourites that you might find interesting to look into for yourself or as a possible gift idea:
Once upon a time, you would walk through a men’s accessory department and find racks and racks of men’s socks in every colour under the black, navy, grey and white rainbow. Seriously, it was pretty dismal. For a change, you might find stripes or argyles in combinations of those colours, but that was about it… I guess it was for all the black and white photographs! Today, we have a number of great companies that breathed new life into the world of men’s socks, offering a splash of colour to help men make a gentle statement or show a little personality even under the most conservative of suits.
Happy Socks is a company from Sweden that has struck a chord with me in their huge selection of colours, patterns as well as sizes. If you check their web site at www.happysocks.com you will notice that many of their styles of socks are offered in two sizes 36-40 and 41-46. Too often, other socks are labeled “one size fits all” and for a little guy like me, that often means having the heel of the sock up above my shoe around the ankle. The 36-40 in Happy Socks is a perfect fit for me. I am a huge fan and have stocked up… or socked up, if you prefer!
Bella Pella Soap
The Bella Pella company is based out of Montreal and is one of my favourites when it comes to a great mail-order service. Specializing in handcrafted bath and body products, Bella Pella offers a wide range of products for women, men, kids and for the home. They even offer dog shampoo too!While the men’s spice soap is usually at the top of my list, I admit I also alternate with the cold process olive oil soap as well as the lavender and vitamin E soap, among others. The gentle and nourishing qualities of the cold pressed soaps seem really great for my dry skin especially over the winter months. The delicate aromas of each are a treat for the senses.
Check out the full range of products at www.bellapella.com
Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense sunscreen
After a close call with skin cancer two years ago, my dermatologist recommended that I should be wearing sunscreen daily. Given my fair skin, she also recommended I crank up the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) to a minimum of 50. I accepted the recommendation but knew I had my work cut out for me in finding one for me that was not so heavily scented it would knock out my colleagues in the boardroom, nor would it leave me feeling sticky all day. And so began my journey of testing sunscreens. The one that quickly became my favourite was premium brand Kiehl’s. It goes on with a very smooth, silky texture, feeling more like a light daily moisturizer instead of a heavy coating of product and provides great protection with an SPF of 50. Always follow the directions for reapplication as directed on the bottle. Kiehl’s Super Fluid is fragrance free and non-comedogenic. Check it out at your local Kiehl’s store or online at www.kiehls.com
For more information about skin health and proper sunscreen protection, consult your doctor or dermatologist.
Sometimes the right words at the right time are all a person needs to make it through a rough patch. My two favourite books this year did just that. I discovered Ekhart Tolle’s “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” when I was at home sick with a bad case of shingles, at a time when mind, body and spirit were disconnected over some stress I was not coping with very well. “A New Earth” offered the words of guidance I needed to help navigate uncertainty toward a more resilient mindset.
Oprah Winfrey’s “What I Know For Sure” was a birthday gift from my mother four months later which offered the pearls of wisdom that validated the progress I had made and provided the reassurance that I was indeed on the right track to better dealing with situations over which I had very little control. “What I Know For Sure” is a delightful book of inspiring thoughts and stories, and can be the focal point of a wonderfully relaxing snowy Sunday afternoon, enjoying a cup of chai tea.
“The Masters” Hand Soap
If you are looking for a different stocking stuffer idea, I discovered “The Masters” Hand Soap at a local art supply store a few years back when I had taken up painting when I had hit a wall of writer’s block. While this bar of soap is a good all-purpose soap, it is intended to help artists clean up after creative projects including “painting, gardening, crafting or even working on the car” as described on the package. One day I wondered… if it is supposed to help clean artists’ brushes or get the paint off of clothing, would it be a good all-around laundry stain remover? Sure enough, it was! Affordably priced at my local art store here for just $3.10 per 40 g bar, this has now become my go-to stain remover. Check it out at www.generalpencil.com
GaGa for Gluten Free Cookies (Shortbread)
Nothing says Christmas like shortbread and if you have a friend or family member who is on a gluten-free diet, GaGa for Gluten Free would be perfect as a stocking stuffer, gift or to serve with dessert. Gaga for Gluten Free’s “Simply Shortbread” dances on the tongue with its delicate flavours of butter and sugar, as a great shortbread should do. My friends and family have tasted them and cannot believe that they are gluten-free as they taste very much like the “normal” kind. In my books, these are a clear winner and highly recommended. While you are there, feel free to try their other flavours, “Chippity Chocolate Chip” and “Double Chocolate”. Gaga for Gluten Free cookies are perfect on a cold winter’s night by the fire with a hot chocolate or a flavoured coffee. Also good for Christmas Eve with a glass of milk, for St Nick.
To find out more, check them out at www.gagagf.com. Made in Canada in a dedicated gluten free and nut free facility.