Special Birthday and Anniversary Celebrations: Unique gifts for your loved ones

Special Birthday and Anniversary Celebrations: Unique gifts for your loved ones

Last summer and this summer our family was very fortunate in that we had two very special (and rare) occasions occur that called for parties to be thrown! Both my parents and my parents-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries with much fanfare (ok, so it was mostly from their family and close friends).

While I love to plan a party, and especially one for such loved people, I always find it difficult to decide on a gift idea for those who have everything, and need or want nothing. Even though these celebrations are meant to bring family and friends together and are not for receiving gifts, I do love to bring some sort of token of appreciation and love, especially if it is something that may bring about special thoughts and significance to someone.

For my parents and my in-laws, I knew that they would think it was pretty neat to have their special occasions recognized by the leader of our country, Canada, which is our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. By simply planning in advance (approximately 6 weeks), and filling out an online form found here, you can request free birthday or anniversary greetings from the current Prime Minister (note that this is not just from Prime Minister Trudeau; any currently serving Prime Minister would offer the same greetings).

Birthday greetings are available for 65th birthdays and up, at 5 year intervals. Wedding anniversary greetings are available for 25 years and up, also at 5 year intervals. If you are planning this as a surprise for someone, you can even have it delivered to you so that you can present it yourself on the date. You can get more information on the Prime Minister’s website.

Because the certificate is not a typical photo-size, I had to find a document-size frame for it, which I did easily at Walmart for about $22.

Another celebratory greeting that can be requested for free for Canadians is from our Governor General, and you can do this online as well at this link.

“The Governor General sends messages to Canadians who are 90 years of age or older and to couples who are celebrating an anniversary of 50 years or more.”

Our current Governor General is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, and his role as Governor General of Canada is to be the representative of the Queen in Canada. This fall, Julie Payette will be sworn in as our new Governor General.



And for those very very very special occasions, you can even request a free congratulatory message from the Queen!

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sends messages to Canadians who are 100 years of age or older and to couples who are celebrating an anniversary of 60 years or more.”

On the other hand, for your religious loved ones who would appreciate a blessing from Pope Francis, you can also request a Papal Blessing Parchment right from the Vatican!

Papal Blessings are available for a variety of celebrations; as per the website:

“The Apostolic Blessing is granted for the following occasions:

1. Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation
2. Marriage
3. Priestly Ordination
4. Religious Profession
5. Secular Consecration
6. Ordinations of Permanent Deacons
7. Marriage Anniversaries (10, 25, 40, 50 , 60 years)*
, Priestly Ordination, Religious Profession
8. Birthdays (18, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100)*
9. Catholic individuals* or families*
(with name and surname of the spouses united in a religious marriage).”

You can download the request form from the website and then fax it in to the Office of Papal Charities. You get to choose from 7 languages what language you would like your Papal Blessing in…I chose Portuguese, as I figured my parents would love that.

Make your request at least a month in advance, as it does get shipped to you from the Vatican, and then you will need time to frame it as well. The parchment is not a standard size, so I found a simple gold frame that was big enough for it and then I had a custom white mat cut for it, all at Michael’s.

Although the Papal Blessing gets sent to you for no fee, included with it will be a suggested amount for a donation to the Papal Charities. The amount will be to cover the costs of the parchment and the courier fees. I believe my amount was approximately 30-40 Euros, which can be paid online.

Getting all three of these envelopes in the mail sure makes for a fun mail-week! (I felt super important even though they were totally not even for me)

Once you have all of the lovely messages framed, you can then use them as decor to decorate your party space! After the party, they can go adorn the walls of your loved ones’ home as a reminder of their special day…

My smart sister had another idea for a unique gift that can be useful (because who doesn’t need more pillows, right? Give me all the pillows!)…. These fun personalized pillow covers from Thirty-One Gifts were a hit!

You get to choose the colours you want and what you want it to say, and you can preview how it will look online before you order! Check out these personalized pillow covers here.

The pillow insert was a perfect size and a great price from Ikea.

Don’t forget the balloons!! You always need balloons for a party!

Happy celebrating!! xoxo

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day 2017

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day 2017

If you’re like me, you like to drop gift hints here and there to your significant other ahead of special occasions…hoping to avoid receiving gifts that you really don’t want or need….or like!

So in hopes of the special mom in your life receiving a lovely and thoughtful and useful gift this Mother’s Day, I’ve pulled together a list of spectacular things that I would love, and would recommend for anyone still wondering about what to buy.

  1. Fragrances – For those women who don’t have fragrance allergies and enjoy spritzing themselves with a lovely scent, these are some of my favourite classics (and they are available at Shoppers Drug Mart, where you can spend points or collect points with your purchase!):

Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, Eau de Parfum

Chloé, Eau de Parfum

Miss Dior, Eau de Parfum

2. Jewellery – You can never go wrong with new jewellery, and it doesn’t have to be expensive to be nice! Some of my picks include:

Stella & Dot Signature Engravable Bar Necklace


Pandora bracelets

Tiffany Infinity Pendant

3. Books & Accessories – If she is an enthusiastic reader, always looking to get her hands on the newest novel out there, here are some good bets, along with some mugs to drink her coffee/tea/water while reading or travelling; also a unique locally hand-made bag with the best fabric designs:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Good Morning Beautiful ceramic mug

Kate Spade New York thermal mug


The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


Anchors Lop bag by Cloud Rabbit Designs

4. Home decor – Beautiful and locally-made home decor signs for your home (or get a custom-made one!), and stunning mid-century modern plant stands:

Wood sign by Spring Meadow Co.


Walnut Wood Plant Stands, made in Canada by Hook & Stem Co.

5. Portuguese Culture gifts – lovely ideas to give much saudade to the Portuguese women in your life or to those who love anything Portuguese:

Earrings from Átrio, Etsy shop – Antique Azulejo Tile Replica


Benamôr Créme de rosto face cream


Mosaic fish platter


Casa Cubista Striped Horizontal Jug


But of course, nothing is so valuable as a tender, thoughtfully-made home-made card, complete with written words of love and appreciation. This gift has no link, no monetary value, but is the best gift of all. I’m sure all mothers would agree.

Happy shopping! XOXO

Sending Christmas Greetings to Family & Friends (& to the Queen!)

Sending Christmas Greetings to Family & Friends (& to the Queen!)

I’m a sucker for sending traditional (or non-traditional) Christmas cards, and still can’t give it up. With the cost of postage nowadays, I see why many people have stopped this practice, or stick to just hand-delivering them. I get it, I really do. This year, in order to reduce costs, and remember the reason for the season I plan to hand deliver as many as I possibly can so that I can personally give Christmas wishes to each person and spend some time with them too.

I got started back in November with researching online where I was going to order my cards from based on rates, shipping costs and shipping times.  Nowadays you can always find some good sales or discount codes as well, so be sure to look for special offers on the site itself or search for a discount code online.  The last couple of years I’ve ordered my Christmas cards from VistaPrint.  Their selection of different styles of holiday cards is vast and you should easily be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.  I figure out what it is that I want to order and then order it the week of Black Friday, when there are amazing deals on.  For the amount of money saved with the sales, I am able to upgrade the paper quality of the cards and it still ends up being a great deal.

Now I’m in the midst of stamping, addressing, checking off, and delivering. I admit I do most of it all myself, but I like to get my son involved in some ways so that he can follow along with the traditions in our family. Whenever we receive a card I make sure he sees it and who it’s from. Then we hang it up together on our Christmas card frame, which is just an Ikea frame that i repurposed with some bakers twine and mini clothes pins (I’ll show you this in a future post).

Another thing we do (admittedly not every year, but when we remember and can afford to: an international stamp this year costs $2.50!) is to send Christmas greetings to Queen Elizabeth II and to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (Here’s a tidbit about me: I am slightly obsessed with anything and anyone British…the food, the Spice Girls, the Beckhams, and of course, the British Royal Family…and I’ve never even been to London YET!)

Did you know that if you send a letter or card to a member of the Royal Family that you will get a response? It may not necessarily be personalized, but it will be a response mailed to you!

One year we sent a Christmas card to the Queen and got this letter back (on Buckingham Palace stationary! Eeek!):


We’ve also sent congratulatory cards to William and Catherine on the occasions of their marriage and the birth of their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte:




And then I keep them safe in these commemorative cookie tins so that I can give them to him when he’s older (assuming he’ll care?).


Really though….It’s not just for me that we do this! My son really does enjoy it. I did not have to pursuade him to wake up very early on the morning of April 29, 2011 when he was just 6 years old to watch the Royal Wedding with me!

Anyhoo, we’ll be working on those cards this week so we can get them into the mail quickly.  If you’d like to write to the Queen, you would address it to:

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

If you would like to contact a member of the Royal Family, you can click here to go to the Royal Family’s site to find out the addresses and the proper etiquette as to how to address them.  The site for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also has a special section for children which explains how to write a letter to a member of the Royal Family.

Now, time to get writing!

DIY: Pokémon Trainer “Ash Ketchum” costume

DIY: Pokémon Trainer “Ash Ketchum” costume

Halloween showed up pretty quickly for us this year.  So much so, that a week before the 31st of October I found ourselves without a costume for my son.

I always ask my son what his ideas are for costumes, and he usually tries to come up with ideas related to current events, what’s hot in toys and games, etc.  This year, with the craze of Pokémon Go taking up our family fun times, he decided that he would love to be the Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum.  But, he was very specific…it had to be the most recent version, the XY version.  I know very little about the Pokémon world, so since Google and Pinterest are my best friends, it was very easy to find what he was referring to.


Unfortunately, what I couldn’t find was a ready-made, ready-to-buy Ash Ketchum costume.  Now what to do?  Enter my hero, my mama (my son’s grandma/vóvó), who is a skilled seamstress, to the rescue (again)!

As much as I’d love to take credit for this DIY, I must shamefully confess that I did not inherit my mama’s sewing skills.  Nor have I made time to learn them.  I can sew on a button or two, but it takes much longer than it needs to!  I really must make time someday to learn her mastery so that I can at least hem my own pants one day (which at my petite height is necessary more often than not)!

After closely scrutinizing the pictures I could find online, I determined that the only things I needed to have created was the top/jacket, the ball cap and the gloves.  The pants could be any type of blue casual/cargo style pant and a simple black t-shirt was easy enough to find.


Since the weather is never very warm for Halloween night here in Southwestern Ontario, the choice of fabric for making the jacket was important.  As a kid growing up here myself, my least favourite part of Halloween night was always having to cover up my costume with a winter coat!  So when mama and I went out to pick out and buy fabric, we headed right for the selection of fleece fabrics.  We picked out two different colours and made sure to get enough of the lighter blue colour to use some for the ball cap.

We also picked out a small amount of some red fabric in order to make some cuffs to attach to some cheap black stretchy gloves I had.  The gloves that Ash Ketchum wears are technically fingerless, but again, due to the cold weather at this time of year, I decided to forgo that part of the costume and leave the fingers whole.


My son already had a red ball cap in his closet that had the NovoFit logo on it.  Instead of buying a new red hat, my mama suggested that she could simply hand stitch the fleece fabric onto the hat and it’s brim so as not to damage the hat itself.  Because the logo on the hat was a bit large, to get it fully covered mama had to cut the fabric arch a little bigger than it should be.  My son didn’t mind at all that it didn’t match Ash Ketchum’s exactly; he was so excited already for the costume as he saw it come together.

Of course, we couldn’t forget the accessories to bring this costume to life, and for it to be somewhat recognizable to those who don’t partake in Pokémon or Pokémon Go.  I picked up a plush Pikachu, which my son loved being able to add to his collection of stuffies.  I also managed to find a plastic Poké Ball at a local toystore for a reasonable price, although my first instinct was to buy a cheap bouncy ball and paint it to look like a Poké Ball.

The best part of this whole DIY was seeing how happy my son was with his homemade costume and how much more special it was because it was made with love by vóvó.