Blackout Image by: Getty Images
Holiday soirees, baking sessions and shopping excursions are filling up our weekly schedules, and it’s becoming all too easy to get wrapped up in such glories the festive season brings. But, with these winter delights come plenty of cold weather side effects—like power outages—that we need to prepare for.
Power outages are especially common in the winter because they’re typically caused by freezing rain, sleet and high winds damaging power lines and equipment. Aside from your beloved tech and appliances being out of commission during an outage, you could also find yourself without heat, hot water or running water.
To ensure you’re not left in the dark (figuratively!) if or when a blackout occurs, we’ve gathered a few tips that will help keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.
1. Think ahead. Power outages can happen at any time, so it’s important for you and your family to be prepared. Keep a battery-operated flashlight and extra batteries in an easily accessible place, ensure the carbon monoxide detector in your home is working and has a battery-powered back-up, and protect any sensitive electrical appliances with surge-protecting power bars.
2. Make a kit. The Red Cross recommends having a “disaster preparedness kit” filled with the supplies you’ll need for at least 72 hours. We’ve asked our readers what they include in their kits, and most of them agree on the importance of flashlights, matches, and first aid kits—as well as alcohol and chocolate. We couldn’t agree more, but the Red Cross also suggests stocking up on bottled water, non-perishable foods (you know, other than chocolate), extra batteries, extra keys for your house and car, cash, personal hygiene items, important documents, special needs items like medications and baby formula, and a copy of your emergency plan.
3. Know what to do. In the event of a power outage, you should: Check to see if your neighbours’ power is still on to determine whether only your home is affected, turn off your appliances and turn the heating thermostat down to prevent potential power surge damage when power is restored, keep one light on inside and one on outside so you know when the power is back on, refrain from opening your refrigerator or freezer to keep food cold, don’t leave candles unattended, and never use charcoal or gas barbecues inside the home since they emit carbon monoxide.
4. Have some fun. Since your TV won’t be on and everyone will want to conserve the batteries in their phones, tablets and laptops, a blackout provides a rare opportunity to reconnect with each other. Dig out the board games, whip out the comfort food and rediscover family game night.
Learn more on how to be prepared for a power outage at Red Cross.
Whole30, an intensive one-month dietary reboot that requires cutting out dairy, grains, sugar and processed foods, took the Internet by storm last year, as much for its strict approach (cheat once and you have to start from scratch) as its health benefits. But Melissa Hartwig, one-half of the duo behind the program and a certified sports nutritionist, knows that ditching bad habits is usually a more long-term project. Enter her new book, a guide to rethinking your relationship with food, complete with advice on creating your own perfect diet and strategies for overcoming slipups. — Stacy Lee Kong
Food Freedom Forever (Viking Canada)by Melissa Hartwig, $32.
When Zoe Walker sees a photo of herself in a personal ad that she didn't place, she's confused, but not afraid. Soon, more ads, featuring different women, all commuters, appear. Then, Zoe starts seeing those women on the news, the victims of increasingly violent crimes—but no one save Kelly, a transit cop, believes her when she says there's a link. This fast-paced read will have you looking over your shoulder on your way to work, wondering who has been paying attention to you, without you noticing. — SLK
I See You (Berkley) by Clare Mackintosh, $24.
Canadian-born, U.K.- based YouTube star Estée Lalonde's debut book is full of charming no-pressure advice for creating a stylish life, including chapters on beauty, fashion, food and home, all punctuated with regular appearances by her boyfriend, Aslan, and their greyhound, Reggie. But it's in the sections on people and life, where she candidly describes her ever-present struggle with anxiety and what it was like to grow up on the fringes of the in crowd, that Lalonde gets real. — Grace Toby
Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid to a black mother and a white father—so the title of the comedian and Daily Show host's first book, Born a Crime, is, pardon the pun, no joke. A hilarious but thoughtful read, Noah's essays touch on poverty, racism and his heartwarming, complicated bond with his mother, who, despite her tough love, shares his penchant for laughter. — Kate Wells
Born a Crime (Doubleday Canada) by Trevor Noah, $35.
Love at first bite
Any Ina Garten fan knows that her husband, Jeffrey—who can often be seen smiling blissfully while enjoying a homemade feast on Food Network Canada's Barefoot Contessa—is the one true not-sosecret ingredient to any recipe Ina cooks up. Her newest cookbook (her 10th!), Cooking for Jeffrey, is an edible love letter to her husband, and to the dishes she's been making for him for decades. It features a plethora of recipes that are perfect to serve at a dinner party, such as Camembert & Prosciutto Tartines, Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken, Challah With Saffron, and Limoncello Ricotta Cheesecake. Another reason to love the book: Almost every dish comes complete with a make-ahead tip, so you'll never have to scramble in the kitchen while your guests are enjoying one another's company. If you've been meaning to entertain more, or if you just want reliable, full-flavoured, simple, rustic food to add to your repertoire, this is what you'll want to curl up with. — Jennifer Bartoli
Photo courtesy of Davina Choy Image by: Photo courtesy of Davina Choy
The iconic lifestyle expert shares stylish ways to give your bedroom a fresh new look.
We recently had the chance to talk to Martha—who just launched her latest collection of home decor products at Hudson’s Bay—and ask her some of our burning questions about bedrooms and bedding. Yes, she irons her bed linens. No, she doesn’t like accent cushions on her bed, instead opting to style them on a nearby chair or chaise. How often does Martha think you should change your sheets? Once a week. “Investing in good bed linens will last you for many years. Wash them once a week and they will last you for a very long time,” she says. Here’s what else Martha has to say about making your bedroom design a “good thing”:
1. Add a headboard
A headboard can instantly pull an entire bedroom together! It gives the room a focal point when layered behind your comfy, cozy pillows.
2. Use colourful accents
Liven up your room with colourful lamps, a fresh coat of paint on an old dresser, or wallpaper in your closet. A light, floral pattern makes a statement next to a solid wall without being too bold. It's eye-catching and creates depth.
3. Use mirrors
Create the illusion of more space by using a wall full of mirrors. It's a beautifully polished touch that matches almost every colour and decor.
4. Get artsy
Bare walls really only mean one thing –room for art! Keep your bedding subtle and go bold with your favorite paintings and art pieces. It will make your bedroom more personal and way more interesting.
5. Style the nightstand
The nightstand is an oft-neglected but valuable piece of furniture in your bedroom. Turn it into a picture-perfect composition that will make your bedroom feel both homey and inspiring.