Meet the Canadian Living 12th annual Me to We winner for the We Charity Youth Award, Xavier West.
Name: Xavier West Age: 14 Where he's from: Welland, Ont. Award: We Charity Youth Award
Xavier West had listened intently as public speaker and Me to We (formerly Free the Children) cofounder Craig Kielburger told a story about a visit to Brazil. Kielburger recalled being invited to play a game of soccer with a group of local kids: When the kids went to get the "ball," they returned with a discarded water bottle. The story struck a chord with Xavier, who was 10 at the time. He realized he could ask his parents for a new soccer ball any time—and it made him want to help those who couldn't afford the things he could.
That Christmas, instead of asking for toys, Xavier asked Santa to deliver a goat to a needy family. And when he learned that Me to We could build a new school in Kenya for $8,500, he set his sights on raising the money. "I get a lot out of education, and I feel that other kids should have education as well," he says. He became a one-person fundraising machine, collecting pop cans for the scrap yard, hosting garage sales and mowing grass. He also started a Facebook page to request donations, creating campaigns in which he would ask friends to donate $1 a week throughout the year.
It took four years, but Xavier finally raised enough money to build a school—even when the price went up to $10,000 midway through his fundraising efforts. But that wasn't the end of his work. This past summer, Xavier's grandfather rewarded him with a trip to Kenya. He travelled with his mother, sister and grandmother to help build a Me to We school, and he saw the impact of his work. "The idea isn't a handout but a hand up—they're trying to create a sustainable community," he says. "I was really honoured to be there with them."
Sarah Gunn, our home and garden director, shares her picks for the hottest looks you'll want to try in your home in 2017.
1. Wonder wall
The new breed of adhesive wall art (think colourful abstract patterns, gorgeous watercolours and large-scale moody florals) is sophisticated, is super easy to apply and makes a serious design statement.
2. Shape up
We've seen geometric home accessories in gold and other metallics, but now this silhouette can be found in light fixtures, decor and even furniture in a matte ceramiclike finish. This approach hitches onto the still-hot handcrafted trend and elevates mere home accents to objet-d'art status.
3. Purple reign
With some major paint companies choosing purple as their paint chip of the year—Benjamin Moore has selected Shadow, a rich amethyst shade, while CIL calls out Antique Violet, a soft greyish lavender—the time has come for this underused hue to hit its stride. While pastels are still holding on, this daring palette reflects a move toward intense, striking paint colours. If purple walls are too dramatic a change, try adding a smaller hit to your home by painting a console table or a desk in this royal hue.
4. Green crush
Following fashion's lead in textile and colour (Pantone has placed two verdant hues, Greenery and Kale, on its Spring 2017 Fashion Color Report), home decor has brought back luxe bottle-green velvet in a big way. While this incarnation calls to mind a posh library or a private club, its sleek lines and brass accents give a modern effect. A jewel tone might feel like a bold choice for such a big piece of furniture, but in an otherwise neutral room, it's a more approachable way to add colour.
Avec apartment sofa with brass legs, $2,199, cb2.com.
5. Swan dive
Move over, owls, foxes and flamingos. We predict that swans will make a graceful appearance as the animal motif of the year. Look for them in everything from fabrics to artwork.
Artwork has the power to transform the look of any room in your home, but it can be hard to find a perfect piece that fits your space and your budget. Our favourite online destinations for affordable art will help you decorate your walls without emptying your wallet.
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.
No one wants to feel hangry or get hit with a midday crash—but that doesn't mean you have to visit the office vending machine. Instead, curb hunger pangs with these healthier, expert-approved alternatives.
1. Swap: Microwave popcorn for cauliflower popcorn
Even light microwave popcorn can be loaded with sodium, trans fats (which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol) and artificial colours and flavours, says Kelowna, B.C.–based registered dietitian Tristaca Curley. Instead, cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces, then roast in the oven with some olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. This low-calorie, folate- and potassium-rich sub is a satisfying twist on that movie-night favourite.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
2. Swap: Store-bought gorp for DIY trail mix
Ready-made trail mixes can be full of sugar and salt, so create your own snack of walnuts (the nut with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids), unsalted sunflower seeds, dried apple bits and unsweetened shredded coconut. Add chocolate chips for an extra hit of sweetness. "For a tart superfood top-up, add golden berries, which resemble golden raisins," says Toronto-based registered nutritionist Joey Shulman. "They're lower in sugar versus other small berries, and they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which help with fat oxidation." Or add resveratrol-rich mulberries for their antioxidant punch.
3. Swap: Potato Chips for kale chips
"Regular chips contain trans fatty acids, the bad fat that can lead to heart disease and elevated cholesterol," says Shulman. "This superfood alternative is loaded with vitamins A, C and K." Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces (discard thick stems), toss with olive oil and salt, then roast until crisp.
4. Swap: Salted pretzels for roasted chickpeas
Sure, pretzels may be low in fat, but they're loaded with salt and have no real nutritional value, says Curley. For a crunchy alternative, try oven-roasted chickpeas. These legumes are high in fibre, protein and iron, making them an ideal "fill me up" snack. Toss together chickpeas, olive oil, sea salt and your favourite spice (think smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or garlic powder), then roast until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Swap: Cheese crackers for a seaweed snack
Most crackers are processed carbs laden with artificial colours, preservatives and other additives. "In their place, top a sheet of nori with some canned tuna, smoked salmon or a meat alternative, like grilled tofu," says Curley. The seaweed is super satisfying and guilt-free: There are only five calories per sheet. Plus, sea vegetables are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iodine (essential for metabolism) and iron.
6. Swap: Chocolate pudding for avocado and cocoa pudding
Chocolate puddings can be drowning in high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthier treat, mash an avocado, then stir in two tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp seeds and a quarter cup of honey, says Curley. This pudding is low in sugar and a great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and fibre.
7. Swap: Granola bars for energy balls
Granola bars can contain as much sugar, fat and refined carbs as a chocolate bar. "Instead, stir together a cup of oatmeal with half a cup each of nut butter, hemp seeds and dried fruit," says Curley. Maple syrup or honey will help it stick together. This homemade option is high in fibre and protein, low in sugar and free of additives.
8. Swap: Chips and dip for hummus and carrot or zucchini coins
Processed foods like chips can raise blood sugar, triggering a release in insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. In the short term, these highs and lows actually increase cravings; in the long run, they can lead to weight gain. Try this clever swap from Curley. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice carrots or zucchini into coins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a side of hummus. (Brownie points if it's homemade!)
9. Swap: Banana chips for a loaded banana
This snack is often coated in sugar and deep-fried to give it crunch, so choose a fresh banana, which is glycemic index–friendly, suggests Curley. (Foods with a low-GI value are digested more slowly, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar.) Top the banana with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, then roll it in hemp seeds. "You'll get a slow, steady rise in your blood sugar, so you'll feel full for longer," says Curley. Plus, this satisfying switch-up delivers potassium, protein, iron and omega-3s.
10. Swap: Chocolate-covered almonds for apple rings with nut butter
Almonds are a great snack, but when they're coated with chocolate, they turn into a treat. For a healthier option, slice a cored apple into rings. Top each slice with natural peanut, cashew or almond butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Apples are loaded with fibre and vitamin C," says Shulman. "Look for unprocessed nut butters; they're rich in good fats, which contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats."
Add pattern to your floor without breaking the bank.
A rug can help define a space, ground a room and add much-needed colour and pattern, but they can be super expensive! So, we went on a search for fabulous but frugal rugs. With many budget-friendly options, these websites prove you don't have to empty your wallet to add some patterned goodness to your floors.
1. Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel has a sophisticated selection of rugs in a variety of patterns and colours. Afraid to order a rug online? Order a 12 inch by 12 inch swatch to try before you buy.
West Elm’s offerings (in mostly muted tones) include a stunning selection of custom rugs. Want to see how the rug will look in a styled space? Click on the #mywestelm photos below the main rug images to see photos shared by West Elm shoppers.
This online-only shop has a huge selection of over 10, 000 rugs in endless shapes, sizes and patterns. With free shipping over $75 and an excellent return policy, you don’t have to fret over making the wrong choice!
If you are in the market for a rug for a child’s bedroom, playroom or family room, Land of Nod has your floor covered. Their selection of colourful, geometric and neutral floor coverings means there is something for everyone. You can order a small swatch to test a rug’s colours and pattern at home.