Unique Valentine's Day Gifts Image by: instagram.com/bitebeauty/
Think outside the box this Valentine's Day and pick up something cute, funny or thoughtful!
Valentine's Day is full of clichés. Chocolates, lingerie, flowers—it's not for everybody (though no judgement if you're all about that OTT romance). Which is why we've put together a list of gifts that we think aren't as obvious. Some are silly, some require a personal touch—but we're sure all of them will be well-recieved. Take a look.
Simply say "I love you"
TheThinktree card, $5.50, etsy.com.
If a simple card will do the trick to say “I love you,” then it may as well be a cute one.
Remind them of your favourite (shared) things
BonMotPrints wedding song print, $25, etsy.com.
Do you and your person have a song? Was there something special you played at your wedding, or a tune that always puts a smile on your partner’s face? This personalized poster is the best way to honour that ditty.
Talking Tables glitter banner, $18, indigo.ca.
Staying in with your honey this Valentine’s Day? Dress up your home with a few cheesy—but very cute—decorations. It’s the little things that will put a smile on your lover’s face.
PlumPerfection pillow cover, $32.50, etsy.com.
Get straight to the point with this fun pillow. It’s the perfect gift for new couples.
Miniature Bonsai Tree Kit, $16, urbanoutfitters.com.
Taking care of something together—like a pet—is a great way to expand your relationship. But not everyone is up for a new furry friend. Instead, pick up a plant, or better yet, grow a plant together. This Bonsai Tree Kit is the perfect way to watch your love grow—without the animal allergens.
Bite Beauty Lab, starting at $55, bitebauty.ca.
Kissable lips sort of go hand-in-hand with Valentine’s Day, so get your love the gift of healthy lips—with a twist. Sign your lover up for an opportunity to get her makeup professionally done, or if you’re in Toronto plan for your sweety to check out BITE Beauty Lab—she’ll get to make her own personalized lipstick shade.
You Had Me At Merlot wine glasses, $16, urbanoutfitters.com.
If yours is a love that was nurtured over a bottle of wine, then you should probably pick up these cute glasses.
Alexander Straulino/Trunk Archive
We lift the veil on the world of nonsurgical anti-aging procedures—what they can do, whether they'll hurt and how much of a dent they'll put in your wallet.
We all get older; it's a fact of life. But do we need to look older? The answer is no. Nonsurgical cosmetic procedures such as laser treatments and Botox injections can minimize wrinkles, remove excess fat and plump up and tighten skin. But they're also a bit taboo, because isn't it frivolous to want to "fix" your hard-won lines and sun-darkened brown spots? Our advice: Do what makes you feel good—you're the only one who gets to have a say about your appearance. We offer a breakdown of your treatment options, just in case your curiosity (or your frown lines) gets the better of you.
SLEEPLESS BEAUTY ("I LOOK TIRED")
If you see an exhausted face looking back in the mirror every single day, the culprit is probably your peepers. "The eyes are the very earliest place affected as we age," says Toronto-based plastic surgeon Dr. Jerome Edelstein. In order to brighten your appearance, you'll need to minimize dark circles, frown lines and crow's-feet.
To deal with wrinkling in the upper part of the face, try injections of botulinum toxin (a.k.a. Botox or Dysport), which relaxes the muscles that allow wrinkles to form and reduces the appearance of lines. It's possible to customize the number of units and injections so that your upper face will be completely frozen, be able to move slightly or be fully capable of movement, though more movement means less overall improvement.
Next, try a dermal filler to restore volume in your tear troughs, the areas under your eyes, which can appear dark and hollow. Dr. Andrea Herschorn, who works with Dr. Edelstein, recommends starting with half a syringe of soft, fluid Emervel, or Teoxane's Teosyal or PureSense Redensity II.
Pain and downtime: Injections of botulinum toxin feel like minor pinpricks. You might have a slight headache for a few house or days.
$$$: $12 per unit of Botox or Dysport. Forehead treatment costs between $300 and $600.
Lasting effects: Three to four months.
WEIGHTY MATTERS (SAGGING SKIN AND JOWLS)
There are two main reasons for jowls and sagging in the lower part of the face: skin laxity (due to loss of collagen and elastin) and decreased volume in the cheeks (caused by fat atrophy and thinning of the cheekbones). All of these changes are a natural part of getting older.
Usually, a two-pronged approach is best for treatment. The first step is dermal filler being injected into the cheeks. "I call it building a foundation," says VIctoria-based dermatologist Dr. Mark Lupin. "You start deep and work toward the surface." Adding volume back to the cheeks with one to six syringes of filler will lift the skin in the lower part of the face.
Then, your doctor or medical esthetician will likely recommend a skin-tightening treatment that uses radio-frequency technology. Thermage and ReFirme, for example, heat the collagen deep in the skin, prompting it to contract and tighten and kick-starting the skin's natural renewal process.
Pain and downtime: Pain is minimal, though some patients will take an oral analgesic.
$$$: $1,500 to $2,100 for one Thermage treatment. Most people require one treatment, but some may opt for a second treatment three months later. Meanwhile, each ReFirme treatment costs $250 to $500. Six treatments, each one or two weeks apart, are required.
Lasting effects: Up to two years for Thermage, and about a year for ReFirme.
YOU MISSED A SPOT (THE NECK)
Most of us spend so much time focusing on our mugs that we forget another important area: the neck. Your neck requires just as much love as your face, and many of the aforementioned treatments can be used to make it look slender and elegant. Botulinum toxin injections can correct vertical lines (also known as vertical banding or turkey neck) and create a more defined jaw line, and radio-frequency technology can tighten sagging skin. Meanwhile Fraxel laser treatments can smooth fine lines and correct papery texture.
One procedure that's exclusive to the region between your chin and your collarbone is Belkyra, a brand-new injection that uses deoxycholic acid (a bile acid that emulsifies fats for absorption in the intestine) to destroy fat cells responsible for the look of a double chin.
Pain and downtime: Belkyra is relatively painful. It will feel like burning in the neck for five to 10 minutes. There will be swelling and slight bruising that typically last for about a week but can last as long as a month, so winter is a great time to try this treatment (hello, scarves and turtlenecks).
$$$: Approximately $1,200 to $1,500 per treatment. Two to four treatments, each eight weeks apart, are required.
Lasting effects: Belkyra's effects will last forever; fat will never deposit in your double-chin region again—even if you gain weight. Can we get some of that for our thighs? Health Canada says no...for now.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS (DEEP-SET LINES)
"As we age, volume loss makes us look older, and most of that volume loss happens as a result of fat atrophy," says Dr. Cory Torgerson, a facial plastic surgeon based in Toronto. The loss of fat, in addition to increased skin laxity and repetitive muscle movements, can cause defined lines in certain areas of the face—especially above the lips (known as smoker's lines), along the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth (nasolabial folds), and from the corners of the mouth down the sides of the chin (marionette lines).
For plumping up, all deep lines will need dermal filler injections, though each type of wrinkle requires a slightly different treatment process. There are several brands (for example, Juvéderm, Restylane, Emervel and Teosyal) that use the go-to ingredient hyaluronic acid. Doctors will have their preferred brands, depending on their personal experience, but each line has a full range of density options, such as a thicker, more structured filler for cheekbones and a thinner, fluid one for under the eyes. And if you don't like the results of your injections, don't worry; the hyaluronic acid fillers can be broken down with an injection of the enzyme hyaluronidase.
Pain and downtime: Dermal fillers are one of the more painful nonsurgical treatments available. However, most offices order syringes that also contain lidocaine, which numbs the tissue and minimizes pain.
$$$: $600 to $800 per syringe. As a ballpark, one to four syringes can usually treat the nasolabial folds in a single appointment, with each syringe containing only one cubic centrimetre, or one-fifth of a teaspoon, of product.
Lasting effects: Six to 18 months.
Before considering a visit to the doctor's office, try these recommendations for a better at-home regimen.
Eye spy: Look for an eye-care profuct that contains a vitamin-A derivative, such as tretinoin or retinol, which will stimulate collagen production and target skin laxity. Olay Pro-Retinol Eye Treatment, $40, well.ca.
Here comes the sun: Protect your skin by applying a sunscreen with SPF30 or higher to ensure the results from your procedures last. SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF50, $44, skinceuticals.ca.
Bright idea: Look for a serum or oil packed with vitamin C. The antioxidant helps brighten, repair and protect from free radicals. Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Vitamin C Youth Activating Oil, $56, sephora.ca.
In the neck of time: What did we say about taking care of your neck? That means moisturizing! StriVectin TL Advanced Light Tightening Neck Cream, $99, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
Perfect Pasta Dough Image by: Ryan Szulc/TC Media
Take a little extra time to cook this weekend by tackling one of these delicious cooking projects.
A snowy or rainy weekend afternoon is a golden opportunity to make pasta from scatch. The result is so silky and smooth that good quality extra-virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is all you need to flavour it.
Make sure to have an accurate candy thermometer handy before you start making fudge. It can be a little tedious to make, but the end-result is beyond worth it!
Layer after scrumptious layer of rich meat sauce, tender pasta and creamy cheese make this lasagna delicously indulgent. You'll be thankful for leftovers come Monday!
The combination of mint and pistachio is divine in this vibrant pesto sauce. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month to toss with cooked pasta on those nights when you have no time to cook.
Pulled pork is dead easy to make, but you do need to carve out a couple hours in your schedule to cook the meat. Serve piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage.
Lazy weekends indoors are the perfect time to practice your layered cake-making skills.
Brittle hardens very quickly, so be ready to stir in the peanuts and baking soda immediately. Be sure to spread the candy out as evenly as possible on the baking sheet before the sugar is too hard to handle. Break into pieces and enjoy as a sweet snack.
Caramelized onions do take a while to make so they're an ideal weekend cooking project. Keep leftovers in the fridge to add to sandwiches or to top seared meat or fish.
Our foolproof dough delivers the most amazing pizza crust you'll ever taste. The flavour of homemade dough is really worth the extra time and effort.
The fragrant spices of North African cuisine come to life in this Moroccan-style tagine. If you're entertaining over the weekend, this makes a great main.
It's hard to beat homemade ice cream, especially with it's flavoured with chocolate and salted caramel. Keep in your freezer for ready-to-eat dessert all week long.
Making homemade marshmallow will never make you want to buy the store-bought kind again!
A fluted lattice top is all you need to transform a bubbly, fruit-filled pie into a bakery-worthy treat.
Make this tasty quiche on Sunday afternoon so you can enjoy any leftovers with a salad for lunch.
If you've been meaning to put your meat grinder to good use, this is the recipe for you!
This simple beginner recipe is a terrific introduction to bread baking. Conveniently, it makes two loaves, so you can serve one right away and freeze the other for later. If you freeze your bread, let it cool completely before slicing so that it stays nice and moist.
The best part about this roast is that it's mostly hands-off once the initial prep is done. The balsamic vinegar loses its bite as it cooks and becomes a sweet coating on the grapes and shallots.
The exquisite taste of homemade ricotta belies how stunningly simple it is to make. Whether you eat it fresh and warm topped with berries and honey or simply tossed with pasta, you will be impressed with this silky, creamy fresh cheese you made yourself.
Using roasted peanuts makes this peanut butter more flavourful than store-bought versions.
Cabbage rolls are definitely a labour of love but they're so delicious that we never mind the time it takes to prepare them!
XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE
Image courtesy of GE Appliances Image by: XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE<br>Image courtesy of GE Appliances
There's more to laundry these days than just sorting colours. Here's the latest buzz in fabric care.
1. Fabric softener can save you money
Under a microscope, cotton fibres aren't all that dissimilar from strands of human hair. What's more, they're both at their most vulnerable when wet, which is why we use conditioner on our hair after shampooing. In the laundry cycle, that conditioning role is fulfilled by fabric softener. More than just perfuming your clothes and making them softer to the touch, fabric softener lubricates fabrics at the fibre level, reducing the damaging effects of friction in both the washer and the dryer, ultimately extending the life of your go-to garments.
2. "High-efficiency" washers aren't a fad
If you've still got a traditional agitator-method washer, you're officially in the minority. According to Jennifer Schoenegge, a clothes-care product manager at GE, high-efficiency (HE) washing machines now outnumber conventional washers in North American households. This is great news from an environmental standpoint, as not only can HE washers do up to four basket loads in a single wash but they also use half the water of standard models.
3. Not all high-efficiency detergents are equal
High-efficiency washing machines use cooler water than traditional washing machines; as a result, they require different detergents than agitator-method washers. Unfortunately, Schoenegge says some detergents that market themselves as being suitable for use in HE machines are simply repackaged versions of original formulas and can result in degradation of garment fibres over time. Look for detergents branded "HE Turbo," which offer protection against damage caused by cold-water washes, and collapsible suds that break down over the course of the wash and rinse clean in a single cycle. It's also important to avoid under- or overdosing detergent by measuring it according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
4. Dirty laundry doesn't always look dirty
In fact, "70 percent of the soil on your clothes is invisible—but it's there," says Margarita Bahrikeeton, global research and development leader for P&G Fabric Care. The tricky thing with these invisible stains (which are largely caused by oils from your body) is they attract even more dirt from the filthy water sloshing around inside your washing machine. Over time, Bahrikeeton says this dirt can degrade the contrast in your clothes, casting a "grey veil" over the entire garment that affects our perception of the colours. Although there are new detergents on the market containing polymers that claim to stop dirt from redepositing during the wash cycle (Tide Pods, for instance), you can take matters into your own hands by regularly washing your washing machine itself.