1. Yankee swap Guests bring a wrapped, unmarked gift and are assigned numbers. Person number one picks and opens a gift. Person number two opens a second gift, and decides whether to keep it or swap it for the first player’s gift. And so on.
2. Victorian tangle Friends buy gifts and gather together. Each person ties a very long piece of coloured yarn to the gift they bring. Participants go all over the house, tying string throughout, often overlapping over banisters and under chairs. After guests are assigned a yarn colour, they follow their yarn to find a gift. Best done before cocktails.
3. Eco elegant party Everyone buys something from a second-hand store and personalizes it for the recipient. That can mean anything, from spray painting an old tea set to creating an eclectic centrepiece to sewing hand towels out of a good quality but worn-in-spots linen tablecloth.
4. Time trade Each member of the group goes online and buys a voucher for a service – it could be two hours of massage, a pedicure, a gift certificate for a movie or maybe dinner out. Swap "gifts" over a potluck dinner to further lighten the workload.
5. Holiday trivia Participants answer holiday-related questions. (Who played the little girl in the original Miracle on 34th Street?) The winner for each round picks a gift, which can be wrapped or unwrapped. This game can be highly conversational, spun out endlessly over drinks and nibbles. A "moderator" gets the last gift standing, which may or may not be a good thing.
Fortunately for those following a gluten-free diet the availability of whole-grain gluten-free flours has increased over the last decade. This means
better gluten-free baked goods. And that's a reason to celebrate...with a
Here's a list of the
gluten-free whole-grain flours we use most often in the Test Kitchen when we develop gluten-free baking recipes and the best ways to use them:
Rice Flour - Rice flour (brown or white) is great to use as the major flour combined with small amounts of other flours, but not on by itself. The fine, almost sandy texture can be unpleasant unless combined with other flours. The relatively bland flavour lets the others shine through. Use white rice flour as a base when a traditional white colour is expected, such as white cakes or cupcakes.
Brown Rice Flour - Milled from the whole grain, this flour has a grainy texture and a pale creamy colour just a shade darker than white rice flour. It's got a deeper, nutty flavour than it's white counterpart and is great in muffins, pancakes, breads, biscuit, cookies and other baked goods where you want a rich, nutty flavour to come through.
Quinoa Flour - Because of its strong flavour quinoa flour is best used in small quantities combined with other flours, such as rice flour. It gives baked goods a tender, moist crumb and is great for pancakes and muffins.
Buckwheat Flour - Although it's name might suggest otherwise, buckwheat is entirely gluten-free. Available either light (hulled) or dark (unhulled) the fine, strong flavoured flour is traditionally used in blinis, pancakes, crepes, soba noodles and in waffles. It's also great used in part for baking breads and quick breads.
Chickpea Flour - Because of the high protein in chickpea (and other bean flours) the end results tend to be more tender and to rise more. However, they have strong flavours and so are best used in part with another mild-flavoured flour, such as rice, for best results. Use some chickpea and other bean flours in any baked goods, especially those with strong flavours such as molasses and brown sugar and chocolate that will 'mask' some of the bean-y flavour.
Nut Flour/Meal - Made from finely ground nuts, these are what to go to when you desire a rich, nutty taste from your baked goods. Almond flour is readily available, but you can grind up many nuts and use the 'flour' as part of a baking mix. Ground hazelnuts and chocolate sound like a delicious combination for a cake! Try toasting the nuts first to further develop the nutty flavour and to dry the flour a bit prevent clumping.
Gluten-free all-purpose flour blends - Many brands are available of already blended gluten-free flours. And these are great to have on hand for when the baking mood strikes and you just need to whip up a batch of
these cookies. In the Test Kitchen we most often use
Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour. It's readily available and has just the right blend of flours for many baking endeavours from crisp, chewy cookies to light, fluffy biscuits.
Breaking up is hard to do. It's even harder if you still love and respect the person who you've grown apart from.
In these long-term relationships, you likely don't want to leave your partner high and dry (especially if you're living together), but you want to be able to have a clear break so you can both move forward on good terms.
1. Bite the bullet: "Usually when a person has gotten to the point of wanting to end a relationship, the other person can sense that the relationship is in trouble. If your partner is extremely surprised, it means that you havent done a good job explaining your feelings all along," says Dr. Seth. Be communicative with your partner. Let them know that you are having doubts, express your concerns and don't let things linger. In a long-term relationship, you have had time to clearly assess whether your relationship has room to grow. If you feel it doesn't, let your partner know sooner rather than later.
2. Choose your timing wisely: Many people are reluctant to break up with their partner in person, and choose to do so in writing, whether that be via a letter, email or (sadly) text message. This could be to give their partner time to let the break up sink in before having to see them in person or to be able to explain themselves without being interrupted or guilted into staying. Dr. Seth recommends giving your partner the respect to have a discussion in person, but being mindful of the timing. "Get into the discussion when your partner isnt already stressed and has time to process the issue. If he has a meeting in an hour or has to go to work, wait until he has plenty of time to deal with the breakup when you finally broach the issue," says Dr. Seth.
3. Be assertive: "Acknowledge that the relationship hasn't been working out for you for a while, and say clearly that you want to end the relationship," says Dr. Seth, adding "Dont make any promises about staying friends or wanting to see each other, because time will tell what kind of relationship you want."
4. Discuss logistics as a team: If you're still living together, it's both of your responsibility to figure out the next steps. "You may be the one who makes the decision to end the relationship, but you need to make all the logistical decisions together," says Dr. Seth. "If one member of the couple wants to end it but the other does not, the initiator of the breakup should offer to make certain sacrifices: moving out and letting the other person keep the place they shared; giving the other person plane tickets that were purchased a while ago for a future vacation," says Dr. Seth in regards to the trickier logistics that have to be figured out. "It is the kindest practice for you to make certain sacrifices if you are the one ending the relationship, so offer to move out or pay any early lease termination fees," says Dr. Seth. It's a small price to pay to have piece of mind and peace between the two of you, despite coming to an end.
5. Online 'decoupling': Couples should have a discussion about how to handle social media awkwardness when they break up. They can send a mass email to friends announcing the breakup but most couples feel more comfortable to let people know as the situation presents itself. I find that remaining friends on social media post-breakup makes the adjustment to singledom more difficult, so couples should consider unfriending each other at least for the first few months when emotions tend to run high.
6. Handling friends and families post breakup questions: If the two of you were together for a while, its not just the two of you who will experience a breakup. "Family members and friends also became attached to you and your partner, so a loss is felt on many levels. When you break up, ask the other person whether its okay to stay in touch with any of his or friends or family you grew to care about," says Dr. Seth. By doing so you're both making the other aware of your boundaries, and can work within them to ensure no one is upset.
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.
The leading researchers on couples have found that your attachments to your earliest caretakers have a powerful impact on your later romantic relationships. The attachment behaviours of both of your parents in childhood ingrain deep-seated learning about how to be in relationship and shape your later experiences of love.
How does your relationship with your father impact your romantic relationships? One of the most intriguing findings in the field of couple therapy is that people tend to unconsciously pick partners who resemble their parents in some way. And dads have a key role to play. Research shows that women tend to be drawn to partners who are similar to their fathers psychologically, behaviourally or emotionally. Women who have positive relationships with their fathers even tend to pick partners who resemble their dads physically.
Why? Well, on a certain level it's simple: We live what we learn. But some couple researchers have taken it a step further. Harville Hendrix, a United States–based couple therapist, has argued that people unconsciously pick partners who resemble their early caretakers in order to work through old wounds or unresolved issues from their childhoods. Since parents are only human -- and because we are so vulnerable and dependent as children -- there are inevitably old hurts present.
Continuing the paternal pattern with partners Research also shows that women in long-term couple relationships tend to reenact the relationship patterns they learned from their dads. This makes sense when you consider that your relationship with your dad is where you learned to relate to the opposite sex. This can be either beneficial or problematic. If your dad was a supportive, emotionally available parent, then you will have learned the skills needed for a healthy relationship early on and your romantic relationships will likely benefit as a result.
On the other hand, if you were in an unhealthy role in relation to your dad you may be at some risk of continuing that role in your couple relationships. For example, if you were a caretaker to your dad you might find yourself excessively caretaking your partner in your couple relationship and feeling exhausted or resentful as a result.
How to bring positives from a negative relationship Awareness is key. The more you can bring your triggers, behaviours and reactions into conscious awareness the freer you can be from your past. If you find yourself having strong negative reactions to your partner, there's a good chance that childhood material is being activated.
For instance, are you projecting onto your partner disappointments that are really about your dad? Or do you repeatedly find yourself dating the same kind of guy with the same negative outcome? If you can become aware of what you're doing that isn't serving you, then you can begin to empower yourself to make different choices that will nourish and benefit you in your adult intimate attachments.
What if your dad wasn't around while you were growing up? Lots of people grew up without a father. If you are carrying powerful negative emotions about this -- such as a sense of abandonment or feelings of unworthiness -- then I encourage you to do some healing work, preferably with a compassionate, caring therapist. On the other hand, without any hardwired internal templates you are free to create a couple relationship that suits you best.
Assess your relationships Take an honest look at how your dad might be affecting your couple relationship today. Are any of your father's behaviours causing conflict with your partner? Does your dad express approval of your partner or criticize him? This behaviour has the power to strengthen or weaken your couple relationship. Is your dad respectful of your relationship or is he intrusive or controlling? If he is controlling,consider setting some limits to protect yourself and your couple relationship. A good, relationship-oriented therapist can help support you in setting respectful boundaries.
So take stock of this important relationship with your father. What do you honour and appreciate about what you've internalized from your dad? And what might you need to work on or change inside of yourself for the benefit of a more satisfying couple relationship – not to mention your own freedom, health and happiness?
Carole-Anne Vatcher, MSW, RSW is a Therapist and Relationship Coach for women. She works with women in person in her private practice in Kingston, Ontario and via telephone with women across Canada. For more information or if you are interested in working with Carole-Anne visit her website at www.carole-annevatcher.com.