Skip mass-produced goods and opt for meaningful, homemade Christmas gifts. We've got eight simple ideas for everyone on your list.
1. Brandied spiced figs These boozy figs need to stand for two weeks before they're ready for gifting, but they only take 15 minutes to prepare. This is the perfect gift for those on your list who love to entertain–the sweet figs pair perfectly with a cheese platter and the liquid tastes great in a strong cup of coffee.
2. Erie knit hat This stylish unisex hat works for anyone on your list. The classic toque is quick and easy to knit (ideal for beginners and knitters of all levels) and is machine washable, so the wearer can enjoy it for years to come.
3. Festive terrariums Add a tropical touch to the holiday season with a gorgeous air-plant ornament or a hanging terrarium with succulents. The delicate vessels will bring joy all year long.
4. DIY leather key chain You'll only need 6 materials (and a few minutes) to create this fashionable leather keychain.
5. Knit dinosaur Only The Grinch couldn't love a smiling T. Rex stuffed animal! This knit toy is tough enough for the washing machine, and soft enough for cuddling.
6. Hot chocolate mix The presentation alone is cute enough–forget the fact that the jar is filled with hot chocolate goodness! This wintertime gift also makes a wonderful hostess gift before or after the holidays.
7. Mason jar soap dispensers Forget the pricey soap-and-lotion sets you can buy at the kitchenwares store: a pair of revamped canning jars are a stylish addition to any kitchen countertop.
8. Personalized dog ornament The humans on your Christmas list aren't the only ones who can enjoy your holiday crafts: your dog can, too! This fool-proof craft can easily be adapted for cats or other family pets.
Our editors share the items they are coveting this February—and they're all under $100.
As much as we love shopping, what we love even more is a good deal. Which is why we asked our style editors to share the items that they'll be shopping for this month. The good news? Everything is under $100, which means you don't have to feel guilty about picking a few things up yourself.
As I think about spring, I always begin to think about what sneakers I’m going to pick up. Spring is sneaker season, at least if you ask me. This year, I’m going back to basics with a classic pair of Vans. Bonus—they’ve been spotted on bloggers, models and off-duty actors, so you know this style is making a comeback. At the very affordable $80 price point, this will be money well-spent seeing as how I'll be living in them for the season. - Alexandra Donaldson, contributing editor
Graphic pants are everything at the moment. Dress them down with sneakers, add heels for a more professional look, pair it with a form-fitting top to keep it sleek. They'll go with everything. - Noelle Gauthier, style intern
Uniqlo women smart style ankle length pants, $40, uniqlo.com.
Easy to apply eyeshadow
If I’m wearing makeup beyond my under-eye concealer and mascara, it needs to be efficient. Which is why I have my eye on this Nudestix eye crayon. The metallic hue will add a bit of pizzazz to my makeup look, without too much extra effort.
Nudestix Magnetic Eye Colour in Twilight, $28, sephora.com.
How come boyfriend jeans always seem amazing in theory, but never translate into the model-off-duty look when worn? These "girlfriend" jeans have a tailored fit making them far more wearable.
Animal motifs have been hot on the runway—but if you can’t afford to spring for Gucci (and really, who can?) you can pick up this panther cropped sweatshirt from Forever 21. At $25 it’s a steal—and super cute to boot.
A few years ago I never could have imagined loving the kitten heel like I do now—but these days everything is old new again. The low-heel allows me to survive in them all day, so I'm thinking they'll be sticking around for awhile.
Say what you want about the Kardashians, but they have the perfectly tousled California-girl waves I'm after. Enter this new haircare line by their trusted hairstylist, Jen Atkin. I'm eyeing this texturizing spray to recreate their manes.
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.
We spoke to stylist Talia Brown about how to shake up your wardrobe when you feel like you’ve got nothing to wear.
It happens to everyone. You open your closet and sigh to yourself. You have nothing to wear. Even with a wardrobe full of great pieces, we all feel style fatigue sometimes. In favour of putting our best (and most stylish) foot forward, we spoke to stylist and personal shopper Talia Brown for some tips on breaking out of a style rut.
How do you know you’re in a style rut?
Most of us can tell when we’re feeling sartorially uninspired. “You look in your closet and everything starts to look the same,” says Brown, “nothing excites you.” If you don’t feel good about the duds you’re putting on, it’s time to rethink your approach to getting dressed.
You need a quick fix to your style woes
Adding a couple new pieces might just be the quick fix you need to jump-start your wardrobe. Brown recommends adding a pop of colour, especially with accessories, which can go a long way to brightening up (figuratively and literally) a stale wardrobe. “It’s nice to have a few pieces that will catch the eye of others—it will make you feel like a million bucks.”
You wear the same thing day after day, and you’re bored
If you find that you wear the same thing all the time—despite plenty of choice—then it’s time to reevaluate your closet. “If there’s something in your closet that you’re not wearing, there’s probably a reason for it—it doesn’t make you feel good,” says Brown. Evaluate what you like and are comfortable in and try to find ways to update with new colours and textures, or by adding new accessories. “Picture what your favourite little black dress would look like in pink, navy or oxblood,” says Brown.
Tip from Talia: Turn all of your hangers the opposite way (pointing out) and every time you wear something, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the right way (pointing in). Give yourself a timeline (a month, six months, a year) and if anything is still facing the wrong way, it’s time to think about letting it go.
You find that your outfits look sloppy or unpolished
“This usually happens when we’re trying to hide something about our bodies,” says Brown. Instead of focusing on the negative, think about what you love about your body. It might be as simple as adding a belt to enhance your waist, hemming a skirt to show off your gams or donning a statement necklace to draw attention to your face.
You want to find a new style
Before completely ditching your wardrobe, assess if there’s an important piece missing. Do you have the perfect black pants? Or a pair of jeans you can wear anywhere? What about a classic button down blouse? Figuring out what you’re missing and getting it can really breathe new life into your existing pieces. Having trouble? Find another set of eyes. Ask a partner or friend what they think you could add.
If you’re looking to try something new, Brown suggests heading to your local vintage store or finally splurging on that designer purchase you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to change your style, heading to a vintage shop will introduce you to silhouettes and patterns that aren’t currently in stores. “Sometimes it’s just taking that leap.”
Find a new mantra
Fashion is supposed to be fun—so make that notion your new mantra. “Play with colours and shapes and really find what it is that works for you and that makes you feel good,” says Brown. “Your body is your canvas, so express yourself.”
Classic, healthy and savoury muffin recipes to bake fresh or made in advance and frozen.
Whip up a dozen moist muffins on a leisurely Sunday morning. Or better yet, set out the muffin recipe ingredients the night before and let the first person up bake a batch for everyone. Most of these muffin recipes can be made in advance and frozen.
Before you start baking your favourite muffins, take a few tips from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen about muffin recipe dos and don'ts in this article: Muffin know how.