Want to create a unique item for your home but not sure where to start? Tiffany Pratt, DIY project guru and co-host of HGTV's 'Buy It! Fix It! Sell It!,' gets you started with these tips.
Tiffany Pratt knows a thing or two about DIY projects. In fact, as the eclectic and colourful co-host of HGTV's Buy It! Fix It! Sell It!, her mission is to battle the other co-hosts to get the best treasures at auction and transform them into one-of-a-kind pieces. The goal? To sell the finished product to interested clients for the highest profit.
When approaching a project, Pratt looks for pieces that have good bones and envisions how she can transform them in ways that have never been done before. For her, the item's contours are also key in determining what she can do with a piece. "I look at things more as shapes and less as what they actually are," she says. "If something holds a shape really well, then that's all I'm looking for because then I can do whatever I want with it."
Looking for the best DIY advice? Pratt has these tips.
Start with what you have
If you're not an experienced do-it-yourselfer, then sourcing items from your home (even from your recycling bin) can be a great place to start. Have some old newspapers lying around? They can make great wallpaper for your bathroom!
Consider scale and size from the start
If you're looking for a piece you can make over and incorporate into a space in your home, make sure you know the dimensions of the space before you allow yourself to fall in love with anything, warns Pratt. Once you have the measurements in hand, you can allow yourself to fall head over heels and "take it home, work on it and use it."
Search out inexpensive pieces
Avoid purchasing items that will break your wallet. "Don't buy something that is extremely expensive that you're going to be afraid to work on and enhance," says Pratt. Remember, a key component of a DIY project is to create, redo, remake and upcycle for the least amount of money possible.
Look for easy fixes
Don't complicate things for yourself, especially if you're a DIY beginner. Pratt suggests looking for easy fixes such as painting an item, or wrapping/covering a piece in fabric and reupholstering.
You can also save yourself a lot of time and headaches by steering clear of these basic DIY warning signs: The item is falling apart at the seams, the piece is structurally unsound, or your pick contains hazards such as protruding nails or bug infestations.
Stay within your skillset
It's great to be ambitious with a DIY project, but it's also important to tackle things you know you will be capable of doing and completing successfully, says Pratt.
"If this is a real DIY, make sure it's something that's in your wheelhouse of skills: painting, sanding, hammering.… If it is, then go for it."
All you need is love
The most important tip of all? No matter what, do and make things that you love and make you happy, regardless of what people may think of the end result.
"That's the whole point of DIYing: to use our two hands, and to engage our minds, our spirits and our creativity doing something we love," says Pratt.
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.
To cook shrimp in a skillet, heat oil (or butter) over medium heat. Add your peeled shrimp, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink and opaque, which should take anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan. As soon as the shrimp is pink and opaque on both sides, remove the shrimp from the heat or it will very quickly go from perfect to overdone.
Here are 7 things to avoid when cooking shrimp:
1. Using shrimp that’s past its prime: All protein tastes best when it’s super fresh, but that’s a real non-negotiable for shrimp. Fresh shrimp should be used within 24 hours, as should thawed shrimp. If you’re not sure when you’re going to consume the shrimp, it’s best to buy it frozen so you can take it out as needed.
2. Over seasoning: Shrimp is naturally quite salty, so make sure not to over season it. Taste as you go and err on the side of under seasoning. You can always add a little pinch of salt if needed, but it’s much harder to take one away!
3. Cooking shrimp that hasn’t been completely thawed: Shrimp must be completely thawed before cooking. If it isn’t, you’ll end up with a watery, unappetizing mess. Once your shrimp has completely thawed, you can pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking. This will remove excess water and give your shrimp the best possible texture.
4. Low heat: Make sure the shrimp starts searing away when it first hits the pan so it doesn’t simmer instead of searing. Medium heat is as low as you should go!
5. Keeping the tails: There is a time and a place for keeping shrimp tails attached (think shrimp cocktail) but when eaten as part of a dish, it’s easier and less messy to not have to deal with the shrimp tails at all.
6. Forgetting to properly peel and unvein the shrimp: Although most of us are well-aware of where our food comes from, finding a piece of shrimp shell or a black vein (which is basically the intestinal tract of the shrimp) is not incredibly appetizing — and it doesn’t taste good! Make sure to evenly peel the shrimp and devein it before using. Even when shrimp is labelled as deveined, it’s a good idea to quickly check each one just to make sure it’s been adequately cleaned. 7. Buying previously cooked frozen shrimp: Shrimp which has already been cooked and then frozen might seem like a great time-saver, but it really does not have the best texture. It’s more watery and usually doesn’t taste that great. Always opt for unpeeled, uncooked frozen shrimp if you're not buying it fresh from the fish counter.
1. Add it to salads. Sliced or chopped rotisserie chicken is perfect for bulking up a
lunch or dinner salad. SImply toss it with your favourite salad ingredients, making sure to generously drizzle the dressing over the chicken to prevent it from drying out.
2. Make it the star of a sandwich. Transform slices of leftover chicken into a tasty lunch sandwich by adding a few simple pantry ingredients. Try it paired with tomatoes,
sun-dried tomato pesto and Swiss cheese.
3. Stir it into soups. Rotisserie chicken makes a fantastic addition to so many different kinds of soup. It’s also a fantastic way to breathe new life into dry white meat; the broth from the soup will help add flavour and tenderize it.
4. Toss it with pasta. Shredded chicken is a quick and tasty way to add protein to everyday pasta dishes. Add it to your sauce in the last minutes of cooking and simply heat it through.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.