I was tempted to title this blog post "Two Kiwis and a Backpack." According to Craig and Linda Martin, the travelling duo behind
Indie Travel Podcast, "our backpack is our home." [caption id="attachment_2713" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Linda and Craig Martin: A Marriage of Two Passports"]
[/caption] The late twenty-somethings (Craig turns 30 later this year) from Auckland, New Zealand have been travelling since February 2006. Their round-the-globe journey has taken them to 50 countries, all the way from Tonga to Lake Titicaca. In 2009 they received the
Lonely Planet Award for Best Travel Podcast. One of the things that's made them - and their podcast - really stand out for me is the dedicated and
enthusiastic travel community they've built up around their travelling adventures. Fans can not only listen to an Indie Travel podcast through iTunes, but you're also invited to pose a question, post a picture, or publish a video. It's a great site to visit even for those without audio. (And, unlike some other travel aficionados who've embraced the social media bang wagon, Craig and Linda really do try to answer each and every question. So you've no fear of being left in cyber limbo.)
[caption id="attachment_2717" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Indie Travel rocks on in Australia"]
5 Reasons to Love the Indie Travel Podcast
GREAT CONTENT: A blog reviewer for Podcast.net once described Indie Travel Podcast as "a weekly travel podcast with sweet advice for independent travellers (and want-to-be-travellers)." That's bang-on. The advice is informative (as well as inspiring), to the point, with an eye toward budget-conscious travel and they really do a sweet job of speaking to people looking for independent travel. The format seems to be: Hey, this how we did it, along with a few bumps along the way, so here's how you can do it. They'll even help you get a deal on travel insurance.
STYLE AND TONE: The husband-and-wife banter works well. Craig and Linda don't always agree. Quelle surprise for a married couple who spend 24/7 together. In one particularly excellent episode, the two discussed the emotional stress of travel. Linda was quite forthright about her need to be around people (the extrovert) whereas Craig didn't hesitate to say he needs a lot of downtime, and sometimes alone. It wasn't an overly heavy episode, but definitely refreshing. Check out the blog notes that accompany the podcast titled, "Emotional Energy: How to keep it while travelling."
IT'S ABOUT MORE THAN THE DESTINATION: You can listen to amazing podcasts devoted to the wonders of visiting London, England or rural France, but Craig and Linda don't shy away from addressing sensitive travel-related issues with their guests. Case in point: an episode titled "Ecotourism or Ecoterrorism?"
TELL IT LIKE IT IS: Neither Craig nor Linda pussy-foot around when they've not been impressed with a place they've visited, whether or not it's on the whole world's bucket list. So don't be surprised when you hear them describe San Pedro de Atacama as "a tourist trap."
Pleasures of a Well-travelled Life [caption id="attachment_2718" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Varied tastes in travel - and wine. Craig and Linda like their glass of vino."]
[/caption] At the end of the day, I have to say that I'm really drawn to
Indie Travel podcast because it's about real people embracing real travel. They like good food. They like to drink. You're just as likely to hear Craig and Linda talk about a rainy afternoon spent in a pub in Saigon as you are to hear them share their passionate recollections of a day spent exploring historic ruins in Cambodia. I'll take both, thank-you. Be sure you check out
Fave Travel Podcast 1 of 5: The Amateur Traveler. Stay tuned for my next pick. If you listen to a travel-related podcast that you'd like to share, please let me know. Post your comment here or send me a quick email to DougCanLiving@canadianliving.com. Cheers!
You've spent all afternoon baking a cake only to have the centre cave in. Or perhaps it didn’t rise to begin with, and now you have a dense, stodgy brick. Here are the four main reasons why that’s happening and how to prevent it.
1) Your leavener is expired. Air bubbles are essential for a cake to rise, but if your leavener is stale, the chemical reaction that causes the air bubbles to form will never happen, leaving your cake dense, gummy, and flat. Before setting out to make any baked good, it’s smart to check your baking powder or baking soda for freshness, especially if you don’t bake very often.
To test baking powder for freshness, mix a small spoonful with a little boiling water. It should bubble and fizz vigorously. To see what that looks like, click here.
To test baking sodafor freshness, mix a small spoonful with a splash of vinegar. The same fizzy reaction should happen. If they don’t fizz, toss them out and buy fresh containers. 2) Your eggs are too cold. Eggs are a key ingredient when it comes to incorporating air into a batter, and room-temperature eggs will whip up far more readily than cold ones. In fact, in all our Canadian Living baking recipes, we assume all eggs are used at room temperature.
Before you start making a recipe, be sure to take your eggs out of the fridge first and let them stand while you collect all your other ingredients (30 minutes is usually long enough, depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
In a pinch, place your eggs in a bowl and pour very warm water over them to cover. Let stand until the eggs are no longer cold to the touch, about 5 minutes.
Pro tip: If your recipe calls for the eggs to be separated, do it while they're still cold and then let the yolks and whites stand separately at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before using. The membranes of a room-temperature egg are much more delicate than a cold one, so you’re way less likely to break the yolk if you separate them while they're still cold.
3) You under-baked the cake, or peeked while it was baking. That old adage about not making any loud noises while a cake is baking is true! The structure of a half-baked cake is very delicate and anything from a loud noise to a drastic drop in temperature (i.e. opening the oven door to peek) can cause it to fall.
It’s easy to tell if a cake is under-baked: If it’s high and fluffy around the edges, but fallen, dense and gummy in the centre, it needed more time. To avoid under-baking your cake, check it for doneness no sooner than 5 minutes before it’s supposed to be done. To do so, insert a cake tester in the centre—it should come out clean. You can also gently tap the top with your finger. If it feels firm and springs back, it's ready. Pro tip: Unless directed, don’t try to remove a cake from the tin straight out of the oven — it can sometimes be a bit too delicate at this stage. Let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove it directly to a rack to cool completely.
4) There isn’t enough flour in your recipe. This one is a bit trickier and only really happens when you’re adapting another recipe or playing around with recipe development.
A cake relies heavily on protein—in eggs and flour—to maintain its structure. The protein in flour is called gluten. Gluten is a bit of a four-letter word lately, but it serves an important purpose: over-develop gluten and you’ll end up with a doorstop; avoid it entirely and your cake will likely fall.
If you don't have enough flour in a recipe, there won't be a strong enough foundation to allow for proper expansion and the cake will collapse. You’ll notice gluten-free and flourless cakes are often sunken in the centre, and that's why.
If you're trying out your own cake recipe and the texture is gummy, or the centre is fallen no matter how long you bake it, try increasing the flour by a tablespoon or two until you get the desired consistency.
Remember that a sunken cake isn't the end of the world. Most of the time, it will still be delicious and you can cover up that fallen centre by piling it with some creative toppings, like whipped cream or sweetened mascarpone and fresh fruit.
The important part is to get into the kitchen and have fun! Everyone will love your efforts, regardless.
For a collection of 25 Tested-Till-Perfect chocolate cakes and cupcakes, click here!
Forget oversize luggage—pack smart with our space-saving tips for your next vacation.
You’ve been there before: You squeeze four pairs of shoes, nine bottoms and nearly every top in your wardrobe into a suitcase. Then, during your week-long beach vacation, you end up wearing only a third of what you packed. And, of course, there’s your beauty arsenal of toners, lotions and special shampoo. Needless to say, after all that heavy packing, lugging around a massive suitcase through the sand isn’t all that relaxing.
So we turned to Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton, cofounders of WHOA Travel, a boutique travel firm that plans adventures for women (think hiking Kilimanjaro or kayaking in Costa Rica). Read on for their top tips on packing lightly and smartly for your next beach holiday.
Beauty picks: Only the essentials
To pack your beauty must-haves, head to your local drugstore and purchase a traveller’s set of mini squeeze bottles for transporting moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner and cleanser. It’s a much more compact alternative to packing full-size products.
Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and an after-sun treatment. “If your skin is sensitive and you don’t know how it’s going to react to a new sunscreen, bring your own,” says Fleece. “And finding aloe vera is not always the easiest thing.” Another beauty essential for travel is baby powder. It’s perfect for degreasing hair and removing sand that’s stuck to your body. Just sprinkle the baby powder onto your legs and feet, and the sand will come right off.
Pack, then edit
When it comes to clothing and shoes, stick to multipurpose items and eliminate duplicates. You’ll never need two pairs of bright-colour shorts or two wrap dresses. Thornton recommends having a pair of flat sandals that swing two ways: comfortable enough for walking around town and dressy enough for dinner and dancing. Once you make your selections, always reconsider each item that you’ve packed. “I pack everything I think I need, leave it for a few hours, then come back to it, and suddenly I realize what I don’t need,” says Thornton.
Keeping the contents of your luggage organized will help you quickly find what you need. Resealable produce or freezer bags are your best bet for keeping smaller items, such as socks, underwear and bathing suits, at the ready; your clothes are easier to find when they’re kept together, and see-through plastic will allow you to identify them quickly. Or you can invest in a mesh garment bag, Thornton and Fleece’s must-have travel essential. “You can stuff them with scarves, T-shirts and other clothing. And pushing all of the air out saves a lot of space,” explains Thornton. If you decide to bring a few small accessories with you, empty painkiller bottles are a great place to store rings and earrings. Meanwhile, dainty bracelets and necklaces can be slipped into straws and taped at each end to prevent them from knotting.
Keep electronics to a minimum
All-in-one entertainment is another way you can keep your luggage light. Instead of packing books, download them onto your tablet. “It’s all about knowing what I’m going to need,” says Thornton. “I leave my laptop at home and get everything I need on my phone.”
Pick a souvenir you’ll wear while you’re there
Leave a little space in your luggage for souvenirs you pick up upon arrival, and opt to purchase goods that you can wear or use during the course of your trip. Fleece’s go-to souvenir is the sarong. “You can use it to lie on the beach, to wear as a wrap when you grab a cocktail from inside the hotel and in evening when the sun goes down,” she says.
Other souvenirs to consider buying when you arrive at your destination: a wide-brimmed hat, a bathing suit and jewellery. “People always comment on the stuff we buy on vacation,” says Fleece, who has a collection of accessories from the beaches of Rio and the Bahamas.
Sample packing list
Here’s our list of beach-vacation essentials (not including the obvious toiletries, underwear, cellphone and pajamas). Use it as a guide when packing for your next exotic getaway.
-One cotton T-shirt
-Two sleeveless tops (one casual, one dressy)
-One pair of trousers
-One pair of shorts
-One maxi skirt
-Two breezy dresses
-One long-sleeved shirt or blouse
-One cardigan or sweater (for cooler evenings)
-Two bathing suits
-One pair of flip-flops or pool shoes
-One pair of day-to-night sandals
-One pair of hiking boots, water shoes or sneakers, depending on what adventures your vacation entails
-One pair of sunglasses
-One beach bag
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.
Breathe new life into this wardrobe staple with a bit of style inspiration.
There's a reason why we love the white button-down. Whether it's oversized, fitted, short sleeve, cropped, silk or cotton, it's always a chic—but unfussy—way to embrace classic style. But, like even the most stylish women, we sometimes get stuck in a fashion rut. Which is why we pulled together some great white button-down shirt looks from some seriously stylish women. Discover new and fresh ways to wear a white button-down below.
There's nothing chicer than a casual white button-down shirt under a blazer. Keep the look modern with boyfriend jeans and patent brogues—extra points for embracing metallic.
You can make this borrowed-from-the-boys piece feminine in an old school way by pairing it with a pleated midi skirt and sharp kitten heels.
If you're worried about a white on white look, just remember to play with texture. The silk shirt paired with crisp denim and leather shoes makes this look a winner.
Embrace the menswear vibe of this piece by pairing it with a classic black blazer and trousers—though we might recommend ditching the tie to avoid any waiter confusion.
Keep this piece cozy by topping it with an oversized knit. We especially love the addition of a statement piece of jewellery.
Pair your button-down with tailored separated for the office. A pencil skirt (in a fun print or colour) plus chic heels is a no-brainer when it comes to professional dressing.
This look is for the bold. Pair statement pants and shoes with a white button-down and a classic blazer. Think of this as business on top and party on the bottom.
Put a little prep in your step with trousers, loafers and fun socks. For the extra preppy, add a fisherman knit and drape it over your shoulders. Very refined gentleman, no?