2018 Christmas Gift Guide

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

With just a couple weeks left before the big day, Spoiled Splendid is here to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone. From $10 to a few thousand, there are gifts here for every budget. And to make your shopping a bit easier, just click the photo and it’ll take you to a local retailer.

Maison Margiela Replica Fragrances

These fragrances are meant to tap into your memory and transport you to a certain nostalgic destination. They are wickedly accurate and I think they make a great playful gift for anyone who might be difficult to shop for. Sephora is selling limited edition travel sets that include scents such as Jazz Club, At the Barber’s, and By the Fireplace. 

Price - $68

Gucci Hologram Watch

I’m pretty obsessed about this and put it on my list to Santa. This Swiss made beauty is sure to be a conversation starter whenever you wear it. I love the classic lines with the futuristic style. I promise I’ve been good all year Mr. Claus.

Price - $1195 (Available at any fine jeweller)

https://www.gucci.com/ca/en/

Dillon’s Rose Gin

Everyone automatically thinks Champagne for the holidays (And that’s OK!) but why not break away from the pack. This elegant floral gin is delightful on the rocks or with your favourite tonic/soda. It is flavourful and unique and only produced in small batches. It even scored 95 Points from Wine Enthusiast. *Must be of legal drinking age to consume.

Price - $40

Must De Cartier Wallet

I ADORE beautiful wallets and this is one that will never go out of style. The soft leather wallet comes in burgundy, green and black and is embossed with the iconic double C’s. And for an extra special touch, have the inside personalized with his initials. 

Price - $400

Louis Vuitton Capucines PM

Some LV bags are so in your face that I feel it distracts from the quality and craftsmanship. The Capucines is subtle, slick and feminine. I especially love the bubblegum colour but it is also available in black. 

Price - $6250

NixPlay Wifi Digital Photo Frame

I know what you’re thinking. Digital Photo Frames are so 2011. BUT…this one is Wifi enabled so you could create some pretty awesome moments. Lets say you live in Edmonton, Canada but your parents live in London, England. You could create a shared online folder, upload pics into the folder and it would display on their frame in England. This way they would never miss your handsome mug, pics of your puppy or your nephew’s soccer game. 

Price - $189.00

Bentley Bentayga 

Bentley has strived to create the world’s most luxurious SUV - and they don’t disappoint. This ride can be totally customized to your own preferences - hand stitched interiors, duo-tone paints, etc, etc, etc. You can even have a Breitling clock installed on the dashboard with a mother-of-pearl face and with diamond inserts. Subtle. You have you choice of V8, diesel or hybrid makes - regardless, this is one fast ride with top speeds reaching over 300 km/hour. Only for those with a proven track record of being on the Nice list. 

Price - $195,000+

Mac Lip Conditioner

Winter brings dry (at least where I live) weather and chapped lips happen. But even if you’re on the beach for the holidays, it’s important to take care of your lips. I was given a free tube of this to use (THANKS MAC!) and I found it moisturized well. Perfect stocking stuffer. 

Price - $19

Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville

I drink a lot of coffee. A. Lot. And I appreciate a well-made latte and Americano. I have never gone to a fancy barista academy, but I feel like it every time I make my cup with this gorgeous machine. Every cup comes out perfectly. The milk-frother is simple and quick. And with the endless coffee options offered through Nespresso, I don’t feel limited with my choices. This year I’m leaving Santa a 1% vanilla latte with extra foam beside his cookies. 

Price - $799

2017 Christmas Gift Guide

2017 Christmas Gift Guide

2017 Christmas Gift Guide

Sometimes finding that perfect gift can be a real challenge. Whether your budget is $1 million or $10, you want your gift to be a reflection of good taste and thoughtfulness. I love to shop so people regularly ask me for gift suggestions. So I thought I would compile an annual list of wonderful gifts that are sure to bring a smile on Christmas morning. 

$3500 - Cartier Tank Solo Watch 

Classic and charming timepiece. This distinctive watch with opaline dial and oversized Roman numerals is sure to be the perfect gift for anyone in your life. This is suitable only for those on the Extra-Nice list! And don't forget to get it engraved!

www.cartier.com

www.cartier.com

$75 and up - DKNY Satin Sleepwear for her

What could be a better gift than sleeping in these luxurious satin pajamas? A wide range of colors, styles and sizes make these an awesome choice. Inspired by traditional men’s wear, the cute and comfy sleep sets are what dreams are made of. 

www.nordstrom.com

www.nordstrom.com

$325 - Piccolo Watch Cufflinks in Rose Gold with Mother of Pearl

Eye-catching cufflinks that are both beautiful and functional. With a vintage inspired look and Japanese technology, these are sure to wow anyone. The rose gold finish makes these unique enough to become a year-round favourite.

www.tateossian.com

www.tateossian.com

$95 - Jo Loves Christmas Tree Candle

No one does signature scents as well as Jo Malone. Her new boutique, Jo Loves, has specialized fragrances to suit anyone’s palette. The Christmas Tree scented candle is sure to make the season bright. Makes a lovely host/hostess gift. 

www.joloves.com

www.joloves.com

$75 - Hermes D’Orange Verte Cologne/Perfume

This unisex fragrance is a must-have for that person who can’t get enough citrus. Clear notes of orange, lemon, mandarin, mint and blackcurrant buds. Distinctive and fresh and addictive! Hermes rarely disappoints.

www.hermes.com

www.hermes.com

$295 and up - Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphone

There are a couple styles to choose from but regardless you can expect the incredible quality of Bose. These noise-cancelling headphones block out all the background sound to give you clear and pure music. On top of that, these are the perfect flight accessory to block out the noise of screaming children on that long-haul flight.

www.bose.com

www.bose.com

$300 and up - Fairmont Hotel’s Spa SheetsI spend a good portion of my year in different hotels when I’m on the road. And while there is nothing better than sleeping in my own bed, that's only because my bed has the Fairmont Spa sheets on them. These high-quality microfibre sheets are equivalent to 600 thread count but are wrinkle-free and machine washable. (PS-I also have the Fairmont mattress and it’s another incredible splurge!)

www.fairmontstore.com

www.fairmontstore.com

$1555 - Tumi Gatwick International Expandable Carry-On

I find myself replacing my checked luggage at least once a year, but when it comes to carry-on, I love investing in something timeless and durable. The Tumi Gatwick is the perfect combination. Since relaunching the Arrivé collection, this carry-on is one of the most stylish and timeless luggage pieces out there. Tumi also does free customization, so make it extra special by having their initials embossed on the tags.

www.tumi.com

www.tumi.com

$4010 - Givenchy Horizon Small Gradient Spray Satchel Bag

This bag is not only the perfect color for the season, but it’s modern and elegant design is certain to gather heaps of compliments. This may be your last chance to get a Riccardo Tisci designed bag since stepped down from the iconic fashion house earlier this year. He has recently collaborated with Rihanna and Beyonce.

www.holtfrenfrew.com or www.givenchy.com

www.holtfrenfrew.com or www.givenchy.com

$270-$340 - Tiffany Dog Collar

Even Fido needs deserves something under the tree. Tiffany & Co. launched a line of collars and leashes in November. Designed in Tiffany Blue or black Italian leather and palladium-plated hardware, your pet will look so fetch! And if you're in the USA, Tiffany's can emboss the inside of the color with the dog's name and address. 

www.tiffanys.com

www.tiffanys.com

$7 - L’Occitane Peony Overnight Perfecting Mask 

These individually packaged masks are the perfect stocking stuffers. I love the peony scent but I also love how hydrating these lightweight masks are. Great for dry winter skin. 

www.loccitane.com

www.loccitane.com

$49 - Simon’s Blick Velvet Bow Ties

Any man would be thrilled to find any of these luxurious bow ties in their stocking Christmas morning. Available in red, blue and black—they are certain to add the right touch to his New Year’s eve outfit. 

www.simons.com

www.simons.com

Botox for beginners—The line stops here

Botox for beginners—The line stops here

I decided I wanted to begin Botox treatments to slow the aging process. Many of my friends had questions and were curious about the procedure. So I thought—lets feature it on the website. Check out my video showing my treatment and the results. I also want to thank Dr. Sapijaszko and his team at The Youthful Image Clinic.  

Massages around the Globe

Massages around the Globe

There is nothing better than how you feel after an incredible massage. I have a stressful job and so I try to get massaged a couple times per month. Unlike other indulgences, I feel absolutely no guilt enjoying my massage because of the many health benefits. It is exciting to try different massage styles when you are traveling so I thought I would share a few of my more memorable experiences.

One of the most interesting massages I had was in Russia. I had an afternoon in St. Petersburg to myself and was a bit tired of touring museums and palaces. I had the concierge desk book a massage for me, and because of broken English, the concierge and I did not really have the opportunity to discuss details. So I arrived at the ‘Spa’- which lets just be clear, was most certainly not a spa. It was a non-descript storefront along a busy street. At first I was concerned that the concierge had sent me to some sort of ‘pleasure palace’ but I decided to go inside. I was welcomed into a very Scandic looking room that smelled like a cedar chest. The spa attendant was very kind and spoke perfect English and she told me that I was booked with Ivan for the Banya massage treatment. It all sounded legit. Ivan came to meet me and took me back to the changing room which is where it all took a very different twist. Before entering the treatment room he gestured that I change into a towel and then meet him inside the room. I put my items in a locker and went inside. The room was a tiled steam room similar to what you’d find at a gym or a Turkish bathhouse. It was very, very hot and you could barely see through the steam. Ivan motioned me over to the far side of the room and to lay down on the towel that was laid out on the tiled table. This is when I noticed that Ivan was shirtless and in a towel as well. Odd...but we’re in a steam room so it would be odd if he was fully dressed, right? I lay down and Ivan begins kneading my muscles with a very strongly wood scented type of oil. Imagine your mother kneading dough in the kitchen, now replace your mother with a 200 lb shirtless muscled Russian. I got worked over on the hard tile surface. Finally he stopped after about 15 minutes and I was grateful for the reprieve. It didn’t last long. Mere seconds later I was accosted with bucket after bucket of ice water. I lay in shock on the tile surface—physical shock from the stinging cold water. What came next I could never have foreseen. Whack! Whack! Whack! Ivan was thrashing me with tree branches. What the hell was going on? I lay there puzzled as I was beaten with eucalyptus branches...for the next half hour. When the whacking ended and I already knew what was coming. More ice water. Ivan left the room and I tried to recover and let the steam melt the ice pieces that still covered my body. A few minutes later, I assumed the massage was finished and got up and proceeded to dry off and get dressed. When the spa attendant asked me how it was, I was lost for words, pretended I didn’t speak English, paid and left.

In Iceland I had an in-water, or Watsu, massage at the Blue Lagoon Clinic.  My therapist, Ilsa, met me in the pool and asked me to float on my back as she placed a short pool noodle under my knees. She cradled my head in her hands and proceeded to give me one of the best back massages ever. Her hands were strong and easily glided down my back and shoulders. The thermal water relaxed me and gazing up, the northern lights put me in a trance. Ilsa moved the pool noodle behind my neck and began to work on my legs and feet. Here I almost feel asleep as I floated away. At the end of the massage, she stretched me out by gently swinging me around in the water and twisting me. Imagine floating yoga. For the entire hour in the pool, we were the only ones there and she roped off a section of the pool just for my treatment. There was also an option to do a silica sand body scrub during the massage as silica has healing properties. The whole experience seemed very embryonic but it was delightfully relaxing. Ivan would have hated it.

I was in Egypt and thought I would try the ‘Hammam Heaven’ package at the spa at the Fairmont Nile City where I was staying. I had enjoyed hammams before and after trekking through the desert and the pyramids the day before, I thought I could use a thorough scrub down. It was all set up in a room that looked more like an operating room than a treatment room in a luxury spa. The room was mostly stainless steel and the table was covered in a cellophane sheet with a neck rest. My therapist got me to start off face up and began the exfoliation process by rubbing me down with a smooth clay masque. Then she turned on the overhead series of jets and the table became an instant massage shower. With the help of pumice gloves, she stripped several layers of skin off me. Flip over and repeat. By the end, my body was raw and red. Then the massage part of the package came. Instead of using an oil, she lathered me up with eucalyptus black soap, a tribal soap made in various parts of Africa that is said to have medicinal qualities. Black soap is made from sun-dried palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, plantains and shea tree bark. Basically the plant matter is boiled down for over a day and then the soap is left to cure for at least 2 weeks. The soap soothed my skin and within minutes I was lathered and covered head to toe in suds. She started the massage off with my scalp and neck and worked her way all the way down to my feet. By the end I was as clean as humanly possible. The overhead jets were turned on again, but on a pulsing pattern this time, and I was told to just lay here for 10 minutes. I felt like I was getting hosed down after a night out at a foam party in Ibiza. 

Finally in Thailand, I booked a 3 hour spa package at my villa. Until you have travelled to somewhere like Thailand or Bali or India, it’s hard to imagine how over-the-top spa treatments can be. After I drank a custom-made tea blend based on my preferences, I was instructed to take a 15 minute steam. They handed me a jasmine scented iced towel to take in with me. Nice touch. When I came out, the bathtub had been filled with milk and rose petals. I got in the onyx bathtub and they came in to apply a face mask made of marigold petals and honey. After my soak and a shower off, I was asked to sit in a throne (seriously, it was a throne) where they ran a floral foot bath for me. The therapist massaged my calves as my feet sat in the steaming perfumed water. When the soak was finished, she pulled my feet out and gave me the deepest foot massage ever. Oiled up with mint oil, she hit pressure points I wasn’t even aware of. Then it was time for the main event and she asked me to lay face down on the massage table. Everything began normal—scented warmed oil and soothing Swedish massage techniques. I was totally relaxed. She walked around the table and then she walked right up on to the massage table. From here, she spent the next half hour walking up and down my spine and working my shoulders with her knees. Thankfully this was a petite Thai lady and not Ivan! She finished the massage with gentle Reiki-like touch, barely even touching my skin. When I left the spa, I felt like I had been put through a washing machine—but on the delicate cycle.

My suggestion is that the next time you go on a trip, try a massage. Some of my best holiday memories include spa stories from different places I’ve visited: being massaged with seashells in Hawaii, right on the beach in Grand Turk, with wine in Mendoza, etc. You really never know what you'll get but it will always makes a great story. So indulge, relax and try to avoid therapists named Ivan.

Must Haves: Jo Malone Home Fragrances

Must Haves: Jo Malone Home Fragrances

Jo Malone Boutique at Toronto's Pearson International Airport

Jo Malone Boutique at Toronto's Pearson International Airport

Fragrances are such a personal expression of ourselves. This is why most of us have several bottles of cologne or perfume we use depending on our mood. But when it comes to a home fragrance that you live with day after day, if it imperative to find something that really represents you.

Friends gave me a Jo Malone gift basket as a housewarming gift a few years back. My best friend said that as she sampled the different scents, one stood out as being particularly suited to me - Lime Basil and Mandarin. Lime Basil and Mandarin is bright, clean, citrusy with an herby asian note. She was right - it represented me and my style. The diffusers are strong enough to be present without being overpowering. One diffuser will last you approx. 4 months. The candles seem to burn slower than regular candles and are also quite concentrated. I'd light the candles a few minutes before company would arrive and it just gave the scent an instant refresh.

While in a Jo Malone boutique, the salesperson asked me if I had mixed any of their products before. I had not. She asked which scents I liked or used and I told her that I had Lime Basil and Mandarin at home and had a tester of the Red Roses cologne. Red Roses is a springy mix thats sweet, fresh and delicate.  She suggested that I mix the two fragrances - and at first I was slightly taken aback. The next thing I knew, she mixed them together in the boutique and I was immediately impressed. She had melded two of my favourite fragrances together into something more complex and more representative of my style. 

Jo Malone is an interesting success story. Joanne Lesley Malone grew outside of London in Kent in a subsidized housing complex. In her youth she struggled with severe dyslexia and left school without graduating. She followed in her mother's steps and became a facialist where she made her own masques from scratch. As a small thank you to her clients, Joanne began giving them a nutmeg and ginger bath oil that she made at home. It was an instant hit and in 1994 at the age of 30, Joanne opened her own shop in London - with lines forming around the block to sample her fragrances. Celebrities instantly feel in love with her home and body products and the business exploded. 5 years later, Estée Lauder bought a large stake and took the company international. The business has expanded from bath oils and colognes and now offers everything from room diffusers, candle, skin care, soaps and hair products. 

Jo Malone's latest offering is Herb Garden and include fragrances such as Carrot Blossom and Fennel, Nasturtium and Clover and Wild Strawberry and Parsley. Look for it at Saks in the USA and Holt Renfrew in Canada and of course in boutiques around the world. Their flagship store is on Regent St in London - and also offers scents exclusive to that shop.

Candles are priced between $65-455 USD and Diffusers are $85 USD. Colognes retail for $125-170 USD / 100 ml and the bottles and lids can both be engraved.

http://www.jomalone.com/

Must Haves: Kao Eye Masks

Must Haves: Kao Eye Masks

I had just spent thirteen hours in the plane and I arrived in Tokyo. After having dinner with my friend and getting ready to board my next flight, my friend ducked into a gift shop and bought me a box of Kao Eye Masks. I could not read any of the Japanese on the box - but I was able to figure out they were meant to relax me on the flight. Little did I know that they would become my newest must-have.

Kao's MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks begin to heat upon opening up. They last for 10+ minutes and heat up to a relaxing 40C allowing your eyes and sinus cavities to relax. The steam is also meant to hydrate and moisten the eyes - which is useful especially when traveling. Besides unscented, the masks also come in lavender/sage, chamomile/ginger, and fresh rose scents.

My goal on most long haul flights is to fall asleep and I now refuse to on an international flight without a few masks with me. These masks help me fall asleep almost instantly. The heat and the aromatherapy transport you from a crowded and loud plane to a relaxing and comforting spa sensation. The masks won't block out all the light like a high quality sleep mask, but it will likely be enough for you to fall asleep. At times I'll also reverse the mask and put the heat pads onto my neck for a therapeutic feel. 

While the masks can be difficult to find in North America, they are easily found in Asia or on Amazon.com. On Amazon.com the masks are retailing for approximately $1 each. They come in boxes of 14 and they are all individually wrapped. They weigh next to nothing and can easily be put into your carry-on luggage for your next flight. But a quick warning - once you start flying with them, it'll be difficult to travel without them. So I suggest you stock up.

http://web.kao.com/sg/megrhythm/

My Next Big Step - MacBook Pro

My Next Big Step - MacBook Pro

I have been a devote PC computer user as long as I could type. Having to use the school Apple computers was pesky at best. I went through University with my Dell Laptop and since then, I've had a string of Windows operating machines. My work is very Windows dominated and several programs don't offer support to Mac users. But this isn't to say that I haven't kept an open mind. A decade ago I bought an iPod and put thousands of downloaded songs on it - it crashed and wasn't able to be resuscitated. I even bought an iPad the first week they came out - tried it out - hated it - and sold it the next week.  After this, I've been known to mock people who were part of the Apple 'cult' and felt the need to update their phone every 8 months upon the newest release of the iPhone. Then my main laptop crashed for no reason and my friend who helped me recover the data was one of those said die-hard Apple users. For years he had been trying to convert me over the Mac world. 

Then I did the unthinkable. Allison at the Apple Store in West Edmonton Mall sold me a MacBook Pro. I probably wasn't her favourite customer as it took a while for me to accept that this computer was going to become a huge part of my life. Maybe, just maybe, it could be as good as those PC laptops I had relationships with.  

So Allison tried to make my life as easy as possible. She took the time to set-up my computer for me and assisted in getting my accounts up and loaded. My friends were also on hand to ensure that the purchase wasn't too traumatic but were also good in figuring out the technical details for me. I spend the majority of my day using a computer but when it comes to gigs, ram, interfaces - I'm lost. Within 45 minutes, we had demoed a few models, selected the one best for my needs, and were set-up, paid and out the door. 

But does the writer live happily ever after you ask? I'm surprised to admit that I am very satisfied with the computer. I've had it for a few weeks now and there are clear benefits to it over my past PC computers. Start-up is quick and efficient. The sleek and slim design makes it easier to use and transport - not to mention that the weight is close to half of my past laptop. The battery life is ridiculous at over 10 hours of use. The retina display is crisp and I get less eye strain. I've used Facetime to easily talk with both friends and business partners. 

Now there are a few small drawbacks with the Mac. I find that webpages freeze a bit more often than with my old PC. Downloading groups of pics is not quite as easy as with the PC but the Mac does seem to import them faster.  But both of these are noticeably outweighed by the benefits. 

Before I bought the MacBook Pro I also checked out the latest PC offering - the Surface Book. I went and demoed it in store and was a bit shocked at the lack of knowledge by the Windows store staff. But comparing the two computers, I would have had to upgrade the Surface Book up to the price range of around $2500 Canadian to get what I was getting with the MacBook Pro for about $1700 Canadian. Also - Allison asked if my employer was registered with Apple, which it was, and I received a very generous discount. The Windows Store didn't ask. Also in comparing the two, I read a great article from LapTop Mag regarding the two machines that is really worth checking out: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/surface-book-vs-macbook-pro

Finally, a few last things about my recent purchase. I opted to get the 3 year Apple Care Protection Plan. I have a history of being rough with my computers so thought it would likely pay for itself. Also, I did mention I'm not very well wired technically - so if I have a question, I may just call the 1-800 number instead of asking a friend who may mock my ignorance for years to come. Before I left the store, my friends insisted I get the AirPort Time Capsule - Apple's back-up solution with a built in wireless router. I won't buy into the much faster wireless connectivity, but it is nice to know that if my computer crashes, it will be backed up by the Time Capsule. Plus with 2TB of storage, I can easily transfer over my hundreds of gigs of photos with piece of mind. 

Technology was made to make our lives easier and I'm happy to say that Apple has proven that to me with this computer. Now if only they could fix my iPod from 2007...