Whether it's been a couple months or a couple years since your last good house clean, there's a place in every home that can be tidied up a bit. So we've compiled a collection of our best organization tips to keep your place spic and span. Learn how to pare down an over-crowded closet, where to move the kids' toys and tackle the inevitable pile of paperwork that gets dropped by the front door.
Did you know a well-organized home isn't just easy on the eyes (and nose)? Clean, clutter-free quarters can also boost your health, too. Learn how you can lose weight by clearing clutter from your kitchen in the articles below. At home: 6 ways to clean up your home life How to declutter your home, your heart and your mind. My friend Maggie is a hoarder. Her tiny Winnipeg bungalow is filled to the rafters with every homemade card, piece of art and dollar-store gift her children ever gave to her. Now the kids are gone, and Maggie is selling the house. But the prospect of dealing with the massive clutter is overwhelming. She feels paralyzed by inertia. “I'm buried by my debris,” she says tearfully. “It's sabotaging my life.”
How to organize your kids' toys Find out how one mother decluttered her home by organizing her kids' toys. My life, since it became seriously infested with children, has become an exercise in managing small pieces of plastic. Not a day goes by when I'm not confronted with the challenge of what to do with myriad bits of colourful crap.
Cheery address book Organize the addresses of friends and family in one place. While many rely on e-mail these days to correspond with family and friends, you may still get a little thrill when opening your mailbox to find a hand-written note. If you still like to send "snail mail" and had a hard time finding all the street names and postal codes for your holiday envelopes this past season, then one of your resolutions may be to organize all of this information in one place. Page 1 of 2 -- Find more great tips for organizing your home on page 2 Declutter your wardrobe with ease Clean out your closet with these expert tips. Edit a little at a time. Each month, go through one category – sweaters, jeans, skirts – and get rid of pieces you no longer wear. Sorting each section separately will keep you on track and make the task of organizing your wardrobe seem less daunting.
Closet makeover One woman gets expert advice for decluttering and organizing her closet. Who: Cindy Crean, 44, wife and mother of two. Background: Cindy used to wear long, loose garments, but over the last five years, she's become more comfortable with a sleek, tailored appearance.
Managing your digital photos Harness the power of your computer to avoid the digital shoebox filing system. Here's the best basic advice I ever heard on digital photography: 1. Take lots of pictures 2. Label everything 3. Burn to CD or DVD often (photographs take up a fair bit of room and can bog down your computer). Simple door organizer craft for kids This easy craft project puts everything you need right at your fingertips. Are you used to the clutter of a student's busy life: lunch money, permission slips, bus passes. Keeping all those bits and pieces organized and accessible is the key to an easy early-morning exit. This handy doorknob organizer, made with household items in under 30 minutes, can help you conquer the mess – and make the bus on time.
Simple organizing for parents Three-ring binders can make a difference If your kitchen is a three-ring circus, tame it with three-ring binders. Outfitted with clear plastic inserts in a variety of formats, binders are ideal for storing.
How to maintain your health records Discover expert advice on how to keep your personal health records up-to-date. Being able to accurately recall your medical history is challenging at the best of times, let alone in an emergency situation. And for many Canadians, health records are fragmented and incomplete, spread across the many health-care practices they have visited over the years.
It's that time of year again! The warm weather is finally here and our yearly ritual of cleaning out the closets, organizing the garage and planning our gardens begins once again. In addition to getting our homes in order, it's also the best time of year to get your health and weight in tip-top shape. While many believe New Years is the optimal time to take back control of your health, after spending a decade practicing in the weight-loss world, I'm convinced that now is the ideal season to shed those lingering pounds. How clearing clutter can help you lose weight Find out how clearing clutter can help boost weight loss. Four years ago I became the organizational expert on a television show called Clean Sweep. The premise of the show was very simple. A team of experts – including me, a designer, a carpenter, and a crew that assisted in the painting and redesign plans – was given two days to help a family dig out from under their overwhelming clutter.
Organize your garage Make room for the car in your garage with our easy tips. "Garages are particularly interesting because they're the places people put everything they can't decide where to put," says Laura Tanner, professional organizer and owner of Dwelling Space Inc.
Easy rider Organize your car for a stress free ride. On a typical day you go to and from work, pick up a gaggle of kids from soccer, hit the drive thru for an after-school snack, drop Rover at the vet, stop for groceries and dry cleaning and then race home to get dinner on the table. In the mad rush, the car has morphed into hell-on-wheels — a morass of sports equipment, take-out wrappers, CDs, backpacks and dog hair. Sound familiar? At work: Spruce up your home office You'll love to work from home in an office that reflects your personal style. Design your perfect workspace using these tips, tricks and products. Even if you're working with a small budget and an even smaller space, setting up a functional, comfortable home office is easier than you think. Here are five tips on how to create a brand new home-based workspace or simply refresh your existing one.
Customize your topper by ironing on some DIY patches—or opt for the quick-and-easy approach by purchasing a vest or jacket that's already decorated.
Jean jacket, $267, tommy.com.Image by: Genevieve Caron
6. Denim squared
Denim on denim has earned its right to be considered a modern-classic way of dressing. A good rule is to mix up your washes: Wear lighter denim on top, with darker on the bottom. The deeper shades helps create a slimming effect.
It's hard to remember a time when skinny jeans weren't the standard in denim. The slim silhouette is still the shape du jour and can be found in just about every wash, colour, pattern and level of distress.
We spoke to Rime Arodaky, a Paris-based wedding dress designer, and Danielle Gulic and Yvonne Reidy, co-owners of Loversland a bridal shop in Toronto, to find out the biggest and best wedding dress trends for 2017.
Following wedding dress trends is tricky, especially if you're a bride. On one hand, most brides-to-be want a look that they can look back on without regret (something most women who got married in the 1980s can't do). But on the other hand, embracing the time and place you got hitched is a great way to mark the moment—and incorporating the trends of the day is the easiest way to do this. The good news? For 2017 the bridal dress trends that are making the biggest waves are also the prettiest—which means you can rest easy about that dress regret.
We spoke to Danielle Gulic and Yvonne Reidy, co-owners of bridal boutique Loversland in Toronto, and wedding dress designer Rime Arodaky for all the latest you need to know about the top 10 2017 wedding dress trends.
Lace is still going very strong for 2017. Think illusion necklines, sheer lace sleeves, lace overlays or just all-lace dresses. When it comes to soft romanticism, lace is still your best bet.
Image by: Oscar de la Renta
2. Jumpsuits and suits
"When we first opened two years ago, we were really stoked about jumpsuits and pants," says Danielle Gulic, "but only now are we at the point where women are actually embracing it." It may seem like a bold fashion choice, but wearing a sleek or romantic suit to your nuptials is a great look. Remember Bianca Jagger's wedding look? Trust us, it will stand the test of time.
3. Understated glamour
This is more of a feeling than a hard and fast trend, but Yvonne and Danielle have noticed a definite uptick in women looking for more glamorous and Hollywood-inspired elegance. Could you wear it on a red carpet? If yes, then it's probably glamorous.
"I think women are a bit more open and amped for sparkle," says Danielle. This doesn't mean over-the-top sequins necessarily (although go there if you're feeling it) but just adding a little shine to an otherwise simple silhouette can take a dress from simple to stunning.
5. Clean lines
Rime Arodaky calls this the "city-chic" look. Think clean lines, simple silhouettes and an overall polish to your bridal look. While you could wear a gown like this to a big 500-person wedding, it would also be a great look for a city hall bride.
Structure doesn't necessarily mean hard edges—but Rime has definitely noticed that brides are paying more attention to the detail and shape of the dress and how it fits their body. It's all about finding that middle ground of the perfect fit. "Brides are looking for a bit of structure," she says. "Nothing too flowy or too soft—without being too puffy or too heavy, the structure is becoming very important."
Off-the-shoulder silhouettes are still big—but the trend to keep at eye out for is single-shoulder dresses. "It's not quite here yet," says Danielle, "but I think we'll be seeing a lot more one-shouldered gowns soon." From our research, there were only a few brands embracing the one-shoulder—and they were all more experimental. File this under, big in 2018.
Colours (other than the occasional pale pink or muted yellow) haven't hit the mainstream yet—and Rime, Danielle and Yvonne are okay with that. But what they are seeing is more intricate embroidery, often in pastel colours. The takeaway? Go for subtle colours and interesting touches instead of full on colour.
Elizabeth Fillmore-FelicityImage by:Loversland
9. Metallic accents
"I really love metallic details," says Rime. "I have little gold dots in the new collection and I love hints of rose gold too." Metallics are a no-brainer for your big day. And while most brides bring the trend into their look with accessories or even nail polish, this year feel free to embrace a dress with a bit more pizzazz in the form of metal accents.
Rue De SeineImage by:Loversland
10. Old school accessories
Okay, so this isn't a dress trend, but it is one of our favourites on the list. Old school accessories—like traditional veils and embellished hair combs—are making a comeback. When it comes to trying these trends the Loversland ladies implore you to just try it on. "A lot of girls come in and they don't want a veil," says Yvonne, "but then as soon as they try it on, they love it." So ditch the flower crown for a veil or a glamorous comb in your hair.
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
Want to transform the look of your bedroom? Inspired by board-and-batten siding, this headboard looks like a million bucks—on a way smaller budget. It's super simple to build and you can easily customize the size to fit your bed.
- Tape measure
- Table saw or handsaw
- 1/2-inch sheet of MDF
- 1- by 5-inch MDF board
- 1- by 3-inch MDF board
- Several 1- by 4-inch MDF boards
- Wood glue
- Clamps for drying (optional)
- Nail gun and nails
- Caulking gun and caulk
- Paint tray
- Paint roller and paintbrush
- Paint (We used Behr Ultra Pure White 1850)
- Screwdriver and screws
- Wood filler
Measure the width of your bed. Using the saw, cut the sheet (A) so it's 4 inches wider than the bed— this was 57 inches for us—and 66 inches long. (We had ours cut to size at The Home Depot.) Cut the 1- by 5-inch board (B) the same width as the sheet. Cut the 1- by 3-inch board (C) 4 inches longer than the width of the sheet, which was 61 inches for us.
Place the boards horizontally on top of the sheet so they're flush.
Measure from the bottom of the 1- by 5-inch board (B) to the bottom of the sheet. Cut four 1- by 4-inch boards (D) to the same length. Place them vertically equidistant on the sheet.
Create a grid by cutting remaining 1- by 4-inch boards (E) to fit horizontally between the vertical boards.
Glue each board in place on the sheet; let dry. Using the nail gun, secure each board in place. Caulk any edges (if you see gaps); let dry.
Paint the headboard. To make it easier to paint the sides, elevate the sheet on scrap pieces of wood.
To hang the headboard on the wall just above the baseboard, use the level, then screw it in place. Cover screw and nail holes with wood filler; let dry. Sand; touch up with paint.