There's no better way to embrace the rituals and traditions of the holiday season than by lighting a fire in the fireplace, cranking up the Christmas carols and gathering the gang around the kitchen table for a fun-filled day of crafting homemade ornaments for the tree.
Assembling these paper pinecones is the best part, so have an adult cut out the pattern pieces in advance to save time. Then let the excitement begin and invite the kids to create their own unique, twirling pinecones. It won't be long before you have enough to cover an entire tree!
You need: • Tracing paper
• Medium-weight decorative craft paper, such as solid colour or patterned scrapbooking paper
• Card stock or recycled greeting cards (for pattern templates)
• 26-gauge wire
• Sharp-tipped craft scissors (such as Fiskars No. 5 Micro-Tip craft scissors)
• Glass beads
• White craft glue
• Sewing needle or straight pin
2. Trace pattern pieces onto card stock or recycled greeting card to make reusable pattern templates; cut out.
3. Trace pattern pieces onto decorative paper to make number specified; cut out.
4. With sewing needle, pierce holes in centre of pattern pieces B, C and D.
5. Cut piece of wire approx 30 cm (12 inches) long.
6. Glue one end of the wire between the two A pieces (see photo); let dry.
7. From the opposite end, thread two beads along wire to bottom (see photo). Thread wire through remaining pieces in the following order: B, C, D, D, C, threading two or three beads onto wire between each pattern piece.
8. Finish the pinecone by threading three or four beads on top of piece C.
9. Wrap the remaining length of wire around a pencil to create a spiral; bend end of wire into a hook to hang on Christmas tree.
Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
Try this simple way to beat stress and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you're into yoga, there's a practice you might already be doing that's been shown to benefit people who suffer from mental illness.
A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found yogic breathing, a practice known as Sudarshan Kriya, helped "alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments," and lessened symptoms, such as stress, associated with the mental illness.
Karusia Wroblewski, who teaches yogic breathing in her yoga classes at Toronto's Yogaspace, says the technique has significantly improved the lives of both herself and her students. "They have more energy and their outlook on life improves," she says. "One student reported being able to cut back on anxiety medications. I just received a thank-you letter from a student who had suffered from deep depression, panic, anxiety attacks and insomnia."
Yogic breathing is more than just slowed inhalation and exhalation—it requires a conscious effort in recognizing and regulating our breathing patterns by adjusting the speed, rhythm and volume of each breath. According to Wroblewski, we often neglect the importance of breathing because it's a natural process. She says injuries, stress and even strong emotions can affect "healthy breathing."
Thankfully, for those who can't make it out to yoga class, you can practise yogic breathing at home. It's entirely safe for beginners. Wroblewski suggests finding an experienced instructor if you want to try intermediate or advanced techniques. Here's how to do it.
When: Try practising when you wake up in the morning, or at night right before you go to bed. It's not ideal to do this type of breathing on a full stomach.
Proper position: Start by lying on your back with a pillow under your knees and interlace your fingers, resting them on your abdomen. Close your eyes. Let the tension in your body melt away.
The basics: Inhale gently through your nose—imagine a balloon inside your body slowly inflating. Exhale through your mouth while the air escapes the balloon. Control your breathing; your breaths in and out should be smooth. While you're breathing, try not to dwell on your thoughts—just let them come and go, as if they were on a cloud floating by. Repeat the breaths three to four times, then close your mouth while continuing to breathe through your nose.
We may be approaching the end of award season, but Hollywood’s biggest night is still to come. It’s time to get ready for the Academy Awards (or whatever other big event you have planned).
Touted as the biggest night in Hollywood, stars will spend months primping and perfecting their appearance in anticipation of the Oscars. Even if you’ll be spending Oscar Sunday nestled on the couch instead of stepping out on the red carpet, you can probably appreciate the effort that goes in to looking good for a big event. Whether it’s walking down the aisle, a milestone birthday or even just an event with lots of photograph opportunities, there are occasions in our lives that we want to look our best—and pull out all the stops. The last thing you want is to be stressed out about your appearance instead of enjoying the big day.
We spoke to Victoria Radford, a makeup artist and esthetician whose handiwork you’ll be able to spot on the Oscar red carpet. Her advice? “You always look the most beautiful when you look like yourself—just enhanced. It’s important to start the process early, rather than making major changes the week before.” The the best move you can make is to give yourself plenty of time to amplify your appearance and account for some time-off. Just don’t forget to enjoy the process; remember, getting ready is half the fun.
6 months before: Consult an esthetician and hairstylist
Ideally, you want to be almost ready by the time you sit down in the makeup chair. What does this mean? Radford compares it to going to the gym: if you decide you want a 6-pack, you’re going to need to plan ahead. The same goes for skincare and hair — envision how you want to look and develop a personalized plan going forward.
Talk to your stylist about what you’d like to achieve. If this means growing your hair out long remember remember to be realistic and make note of your lifestyle. If your beauty routine is pretty low maintenance, don’t opt for hair extensions or a bob that requires heat styling every day. If you have curly or frizzy hair, Radford recommends an in salon Keratin treatments. Keratin combats frizz by bonding together all of the frizzy particles. It also prevents the hair from breaking, which is great for growing your hair out.
As for you complexion, a good morning and evening skin care routine is a great starting off point. Your skin cells renew themselves every 28 days, so to get your skin to reaching J.Lo glow levels consider going for a monthly facial in addition to having a rock solid skin care regimen. If you are looking to add volume or minimize wrinkles using injectables like Botox or Restylane, Radford insists that you do tiny tweaks over time, think of it as a sprinkle, instead of everything all at once. If this is your first time, leaving six months before the big day will ensure that any adverse reactions (either allergic or personal due to not liking the result) won’t ruin your look.
Photography by Marie Rainville
3 months before: Think about your brows
If you’re a chronic over-plucker and looking to grow out your brows, discuss with a brow technician what your ideal brow shape is. We spoke to Lexi Miles, the founder of WAXON Waxbar, who insists that your entire face changes when you have a great brow. Three months gives you three appointments to restructure your brows.
One month before: Test out beauty looks
Now is a good time to try out makeup and hairstyle looks that you think you’ll want to embrace on the day of the event. Try other beauty treatments like lash and brow tinting or eyelash extensions at this point. You’ll be able to make sure that it’s the effect you want and that there’s no allergic reaction, which sometimes can be caused by the dye or the glue.
Image provided by Vita Liberata
Two weeks before: Decide if you want a tan or a wax
If you’re after a more bronzed appearance, never get from the harmful UV rays, instead pay a visit to a professional for spray tan, or try to do-it-yourself at-home. Just make sure to pick the right tone for your skin: Light is for the fair skin, medium works for more golden skin, and dark is best for deeper and olive skin tones. Bonus: A faux-glow can also blur stretch marks and cellulite.
Miles recommends waxing before you get your sunless tan. “Waxing is a natural exfoliant,” she says. “Your tan will adhere to your skin a lot deeper and will last a lot longer. We would recommend at least 24 hours before you get a spray tan.” Just make sure to go to a wax specialist—they will help reduce pain and give you a better quality experience. How you care for your skin pre and post tan is key in determining how long your bronze lasts; Waxon's On the rocks is a 2-in-1 product that will both exfoliate and hydrate skin to ensure there's no patchiness.
One week before: Touch-ups
Book a facial or go for a chemical peel; they’re a fantastic way to eradicate dead skin cells, comedones, blackheads and plump up skin with hydration which will lessen the appearance of fine lines. It also get's the blood flowing, helps with lymphatic drainage, leaving your pores looking more refined and your skin buoyant. Now is also a good time to do final colour touch-ups. Spend the week giving your tresses extra nourishment in the form of hair masks, and avoid heat styling it so your hair will be extra healthy.
The day before: Do the things you love, again
The day before, organize a day of pampering and spend time touching up your treatments from previous outings. Whatever results you loved—spray tanning, waxing, eyelash extensions, tinting—do it as close to the occasion as possible, so they’re freshly done and looking as close to perfect as possible.
Grab someone close to you, like a friend or your mother, and schedule an appointment for a mani and pedi. It's the perfect way to de-stress, have some girl time and bring you one step closer to looking primed and polished.
Kenneth Willard/Trunk Archive
Day of: Get ready to knock ‘em dead
At this point, you’re nearly finished and there shouldn’t be much left to do. Although it sounds like overkill, it you want that red carpet celeb glow schedule in one last facial; but for those who can't make it to the salon employ a bio cellulose sheet mask that will provide as much last-minute nourishment and hydration as possible. Our favourite, the 24K Gold Mask by Victoria Radford, is formulated with colloidal gold, which takes down inflammation and encourages cellular renewal by using the same material treated on burn victims.
Want to take the all-over-glow up a notch? From Gwyneth Paltrow to Rihanna, every red carpet regular uses Prtty Peashun; a skin-firming lotion with a tint of colour for that conceals imperfections and enhances muscle definition. After that, play some music, pop some bubbly and it’s time for hair and makeup.
As always, the most important part is to relax and have fun. Feeling beautiful and confident is the goal, so enjoy whatever blessings you’re celebrating! And remember that your friends and family love you no matter what you look like.
We asked some of Canada's top celebrity designers to spill the beans on their best-kept design secrets—and did they ever! Read on for expert advice on everything from space planning and choosing paint colours to styling shelves and how to create a foolproof gallery wall.
The inside scoop on space planning
How much space do you need around your dining room table? Can you really make a room feel larger? Our experts weigh in.
Tip 1: Sofas should be two-thirds the length of the longest wall, and seating is placed close enough around so no person is more than eight feet from another to allow for easy conversation. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 2: One easy rule to figure out what size dining table you need: allow for a minimum of 30 inches walking clearance on all sides. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Space planning is critical. For a kitchen island, for example, leave three feet of space between the island and surrounding counters. Ensure that appliances (like the fridge or dishwasher) can open without blocking traffic flow or hitting neighbouring walls or cabinets. Not leaving enough room is a mistake people make all the time, before they call a designer in a panic to help fix it! — Lisa Canning
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 4: Use mirrors strategically to expand space and increase the amount of natural light reflected in the room. Framing a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors adds a dramatic effect to the feeling and scale of the room. — Brian Gluckstein
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 5: Allow for 18 inches between the sofa and the coffee table so people have enough room to pass by and to make it easy to reach for drinks or food. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 6: Want to make sure furniture fits before it arrives at your door? There are a host of free sites (like planyourroom.com) that allow you to put furniture onto a scaled floor plan. Another option? Many furniture and decor stores offer free design services, and they'll do the calculating for you. — Janette Ewen
Light it up
Follow these five rules and your lights will shine in all the right ways.
Tip 2: Install dimmer switches; they're a practical way to control light and energy consumption. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 3: The bottom of the shade of your bedside reading lamp should be at shoulder height when sitting in bed. Do the math! — Karl Lohnes
Tip 4: Choose a pendant or chandelier that's one-third the size of the table or kitchen island. Hang it approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table or island; if there are more than one, place them 12 to 18 inches apart. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Incandescent bulbs are great for atmosphere lighting, but LED bulbs are more suited to task lighting, when you really need to see what you're working on. — Janette Ewen
The inside scoop on paint and palette
Did you know that paint selection should be one of the last decisions you make when decorating a room?
Tip 1: I'm a firm believer in mood boards. They're not just for designers! Gather together fabrics, paint samples and inspiration images for a room before starting. It will create a picture and a trajectory that you may not have thought of. — Steven Sabados
Tip 2: When you design a room, pull your palette from one inspiration fabric. Whether you use a whimsical print or a more traditional pattern, take all the colours present in that material and allow those to guide fabric selection for pillows, throws, drapery and upholstery in the room. Take that same fabric to the paint store and have a custom colour mixed that matches one of the hues exactly. — Lisa Canning
Tip 4: Fine finish Choose a fresh trim colour in a semigloss, such as Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65. It creates a subtle separation from a matte wall, and it's a much more durable finish, which comes in handy since trims are usually the most touched, bumped and scuffed parts of our homes. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Colour pop If you buy that cool orange statement chair, give it a buddy. When you're adding a colourful piece to a space, always have at least one other subtle hit of that colour elsewhere in the room to create a cohesive feel. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 6: Want to make a room feel taller? Paint baseboards and crown moulding the same colour as the walls. Want it to feel huge? mix one-third of the wall colour into the ceiling paint. — Karl Lohnes
The inside scoop on styling
You've bought the sofa and painted the walls. Now what? Our experts show you how to style a room like a pro.
Tip 1: Shop at stores that have liberal return policies and buy three times as much as you think you need. This gives you plenty of merchandise to play with to see what works and what does not. Mix in unique family heirlooms and vintage finds with the new pieces you purchase to create a naturally curated look. — Janette Ewen
Photography by Magdalena M
Tip 2: For a no-fail pillow combination, you need only three: one 20- by 20-inch, one 16- by 16-inch and one 12- by 16-inch. Those sizes look good together no matter how you arrange them! — Jo Alcorn
Tip 3: Beauty is in the details When styling a console, include framed art on easels or leaning against the wall; it's a great way to display smaller pieces. Create a dynamic vignette by mixing in boxes, vases and vintage pieces in differing heights and dimensions. — Brian Gluckenstein
Tip 4: Mix and match Use these common elements when styling shelves: stacks of books, gorgeous flowers and at least one accessory that has a lot of shimmer and shine. Varying heights and textures is also really important for visual interest. — Lisa Canning
The inside scoop on art
Take the mystery out of hanging art.
Tip 1: Make your own art! Buy a canvas in a size you're looking for, then grab some paint in the colours you're decorating with, and see what happens. Great masterpieces are born of happy accidents or beautiful mistakes. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 2: When hanging art on an empty wall, the middle of the art should to be hung 66 to 72 inches off the floor. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Art relates to furniture, not the ceiling: Keep art about six to eight inches above the sofa, or any piece of furniture, when hanging it. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Tip 4: For a gallery wall, use different-size frames in one single finish and select artwork with a consistent theme in colour or subject matter to keep the display cohesive. — Brian Gluckenstein
Each year, top designers and brands showcase the best in innovative and inspiring design from around the world at The Interior Design Show in Toronto. We’ve picked our top Canadian designers that you may not have heard of yet, but should.