Hi friends, I'm sure you've seen
Advent calendars in stores already; they're all over the place here, in grocery stores, drugstores...even the local coffee shop. But I've always thought there was something special about having a one-of-a-kind Advent calendar, so this year
I designed one. Cutting out the stockings takes some time, but with the help of a glue pen and some glitter, it's not long at all before the stockings are ready for you to hang up. The stockings can even be filled with small candies (or sewing notions, hint hint).
If you're feeling ambitious and you'd like a calendar that lasts, you could also cut the stockings out of felt. Embroider the numbers (from 1 to 24) on half of the stockings, then blanket stitch around the edges and tack on the hangers. I think this could be the beginning of a sweet family tradition! In general, handmade Christmas ornaments make great gifts (or gift toppers) and they're a great way to decorate if you're looking for something that's both cute and cost-effective. Here are some great ideas I've seen around the internet recently.
We talked to Canadian musicians Tegan and Sara about their relationship, activism and why they've teamed up with Kiehl's to benefit the LGBTQ community.
Identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin have spent a vast portion of their lives in close quarters. The 36-year-old Calgarians shared a bedroom as kids, then a tour bus when they became "indie darlings–turned–pop tour de force," as GQ described them last year.
But as the duo was steadily racking up accolades, their sisterhood was crumbling, despite—or maybe because of—all that time spent together. "In our younger years, it was really difficult to navigate our relationship in the context of what we were trying to do in music, running our own business and travelling the world," says Tegan. "While most of our friends were entering college and getting to explore their identity, we were bound together in this career and life. There was inevitably a lot of trouble. Often, it was just the two of us on the road, so it was easy to pick on each other."
The sisters, who skipped university in favour of playing music, scored a record contract with Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young at age 19. They received a Grammy nomination in 2012 for their concert DVD Get Along, then went on to win three Juno Awards. It was their breakout hit, "Closer," an upbeat synthpop track from their seventh album, Heartthrob, that propelled them from indie rock band to mainstream chart-topping pop-dance duo seemingly overnight.
But if that song title felt slightly ironic, well, it was; by that point, the twins had been living on opposite sides of the country for 13 years. But where mainstream success has historically torn bands apart, for Tegan and Sara, it has had the opposite effect. The sisters, who have always been honest about their tumultuous relationship, say they're now in a really good place.
And this reconciliation made writing about their issues for their latest album, Love You to Death, easier. "Stability affords us an opportunity to look at the past with a critical eye, but it also helps us shift narratives away from previous losses. I'm still flawed, but my relationships have become stronger," says Sara.
This record, their eighth, is coated with a layer of "poptimism," continuing the modern pop takeover they started with Heartthrob. But they're not abandoning their outspoken past selves; as with their sibling strife, the twins have always been open about their sexuality and the social issues that are close to them, perhaps taking a cue from their mom, a social worker. At the 2014 Juno Awards, Tegan accepted the Group of the Year award for Heartthrob by saying, "I don't think very many people— and especially not us—thought two queer kids from northeast Calgary would get here, but here we are." Today, she says, "We've always been honest about seeing ourselves as a band, first and foremost, but in times like this, we do use our voices, as frequently as we can, if we think we can help. In this day and age, I think it would be irresponsible of us to say, ‘We're not political people; we don't want to get political.' "
In fact, compelled to use their voices beyond singing to help those who don't have one, the sisters set up the Tegan and Sara Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ women and girls around the world. It will focus on economics, health and representation, the areas in which they say LGBTQ girls and women face the most challenges. And when Kiehl's approached them about a partnership that would help support the foundation, they quickly jumped on board. Proceeds from special editions of Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser and Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser, products the pair has been using for more than a decade, will directly benefit the sisters' new charitable endeavour.
It's just one more way they're getting closer. As of 2015, the sisters have both settled on the West Coast. "We live really close in Vancouver," says Tegan. "So close that Sara can see my apartment from her courtyard."
Proceeds from these special editions will go to the Tegan and Sara Foundation. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser and Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser, $26 each, kiehls.ca.
A chaotic office can lead to a cluttered mind. Whether you use the room to run a business or to get crafty, these solutions will outfit your workspace for success.
1. Command centre
Nail clipboards to the wall and use them to manage work projects or to keep paperwork for everyone in your family organized.
2. File maker
Eliminate desk clutter and give important documents a place to land by using easy-to-access vertical filing systems and wire baskets.
3. Go vertical
Keep your desk clear—and all of your inspiration in full view—by hanging an oversize corkboard above your desk.
4. Dreamy drawers
Tuck a filing cabinet under a wraparound desk to keep your office supplies and paperwork neat and tidy. Insert a plastic divider or place several small boxes inside the top drawers, and add a hanging-file system to the bottom one.
Adjust shelf heights to suit your storage needs and avoid wasted space.
Create a system that involves a recycling bin for things you no longer need, a file for items that need to be mailed, filled out or paid, and a sturdy plastic banker's box to store papers you'll need in the future, like tax and legal documents.
Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.
"Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she's having!" If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits.
After working in health care for over a decade and working one on one with thousands of clients, it has become clear that there are certain habits that are absolute game changers when it comes to your health.
Implementing the following habits will quickly make a huge impact on your health - both physically and mentally.
1. Wake up early
If you wake up late and feel rushed in the morning, the rest of your day tends to continue in a similar hurried and stressful fashion. In order to set the proper tone for your day and to carve out some precious time just for yourself, try waking up a half-hour earlier than you normally do to walk, stretch, meditate or write in a journal.
By doing so you will lower your stress levels and begin your day in a clear and calm fashion. To make life even easier, pack your bags and lunch (and the bags and lunch of your kids) the night before and lay out your clothes for the next day.
2. Do not eat refined carbohydrates or sugar
There is no way around it: Eating too much refined flour and sugar in the forms of cereal, bread, cookies, granola bars and muffins results in a dramatic energy plunge and food fog. To make matters worse, refined flour and sugar also tend to trigger the over-secretion of the hormone insulin, which leads to excess fat storage in the abdominal region and intense sugar cravings.
Highly healthy people treat white refined sugar as a "toxin" and save it as a very occasional treat. Instead of white sugar, opt for naturally sweet foods, such as berries, apples, unsweetened applesauce and mangos, to make morning parfaits and smoothies or frozen deserts. And remember to consume whole grains rather than refined flours.
3. Get active three to five times per week
Highly healthy people keep moving. In order to keep your body mass index in a healthy zone, your heart healthy and your stress levels down, it is important to engage in cardiovascular and weight-bearing activities three to five times per week.
Pick something you love - or try something new! - such as yoga or Pilates, personal training or brisk walking.
4. Drink two litres of water daily
If you are feeling fatigued or bloated simply add more water to your daily regimen. Highly healthy people hydrate!
Whether you opt for water or herbal tea, it is critical that you take in two litres or more of hydrating fluids every day.
For an extra health boost, add freshly squeezed lemon or lime to your water to take advantage of their natural astringent effects.
5. Make time for bliss and joy
Let's face it - life can get so busy and cluttered that we often forget to make time for play and joy. Highly healthy people understand the importance of taking a break and engaging in activities that allow them to follow their bliss. Whether that means going for a massage, spending time with friends or taking an art class, be sure to find something that makes you lose track of time and enjoy life.
Commit to implementing these five tips for seven days straight and you're sure to notice a huge difference in your overall sense of physical and mental wellness.
Joey Shulman is the author of The Metabolism-Boosting Diet (HarperCollins, 2012) and The Last 15 (Wiley, 2007). She is also the founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, please visit drjoey.com or shulmanweightloss.com.
I've always been moved the way Canadians have incorporated our beautiful flag into cultural events. Of course, I'm biased. How could I not be? But even when I try to be objective, I'm still convinced our flag, that splash of red Maple Leaf on the stark clean white background is an attention-grabber. It also lends itself to artful depictions in paintings, wall-art, summertime light shows (as witnessed last July on Parliament Hill; see above), and even on celebratory cakes! Many Canadians are pulling out all the stops as our national flag turns 50 this month. It still surprises many people that our red-and -white maple leaf flag was raised for the very first time on Parliament Hill just 50 years ago on February 15, 1965. Cities and towns across Canada are hosting various events to honour the anniversary of our flag, and many of them coincide with Family Day weekend (February 15 and 16), which is a statutory holiday in some provinces. And why is our flag so important? To quote the official statement: "Our national flag speaks to what we have accomplished together, to the historical moments that have served to define us, and to the promising future of this great country."
Here are ten across-Canada highlights from the
Flag of Canada Day Calendar of Events:
1. Quebec City, Plains of Abraham, Feb. 15. Hockey Canada's Century Tour, which celebrates 100 years of Hockey Canada, hosts a Flag Day event during the Québec Winter Carnival. Bring your family and friends to the caravan on the Plains of Abraham. Organizers have arranged a photo booth in which visitors can take their picture with the Canadian flag as a backdrop.
2. Prince George, British Columbia - Feb. 15 Activities at the Canada Games Plaza include an outdoor selfie station where visitors are invited to have their photograph taken with the aim of creating a Canadian flag mosaic. 808 Canada Games Way
3. Toronto, CN Tower - Feb. 13 to 15 Head on down to one of the tallest structures in Canada to have your selfie taken. On the evening of Feb 15, the CN Tower will be lit in the colours of the national flag.
4. Gatineau, Quebec, Museum of History February 6 to July 5 The museum curators have produced an incredible exhibit with rarely-seen artifacts and memorabilia related to the Canadian flag.
Must-see: the first known depiction of the flag as it exists today. Also, visitors can view flags that were proposed but weren't chosen!
This is just one of the numerous designs that was proposed, more than 50 years ago, as the National Flagof Canada, but obviously wasn't chosen. Courtesy: Museum of Civilization.
5. Winnipeg, Manitoba at the Canadian Human Rights Museum - Feb. 15 There will be the heart-stopping raising-of-the-flag ceremony followed by hot chocolate (it's winter in Winnipeg, after all) and other indoor activities.
6.Victoria, British Columbia - Feb. 15 The public is invited to Government House for the outdoor ceremonial flag raising along with army, air and sea cadets. Indoor programming and refreshments follow.
7. Regina, Saskatchewan - Feb. 13 The "Celebrate the Flag!" exhibition includes an interactive touch table where visitors of all ages can create their own flag, and then record their own Canadian moment in the video booth.
8. Fredericton, New Brunswick - Feb. 15 to March 31 A special flag exhibit at Government House is a dual 50th anniversary celebration of both the Canadian and New Brunswick flags.
9. Ottawa, Confederation Park - Feb. 15. There are lots of activities in Ottawa in honour of the flag's 50th anniversary: outdoor events, ceremonial flag raising, unveiling of a collector's commemorative stamp and coin, a citizenship reaffirmation – and what's a party without cake!
10. Vancouver, British Columbia - Feb. 12, (morning) Guest speakers Senator Nancy Greene and John Furlong at this breakfast event reflect on the 50th anniversary of the flag and the 5th anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Vancouver Convention Centre West. For complete details and times of Flag Day celebrations, visit the
Flag of Canada Day Calendar of Events. Oh, and if you're hosting your own flag celebration, you can always serve our delicious Tested Til Perfect
O Canada Cupcakes.