After reading this post, don't forget to enter our contest – you could win a new dishwasher. Plus, do you have your own story to tell? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org (no more than 300 words, please), and you could win one of 30 daily prizes. Today's winner is Devon Flynn of South Hazelton, BC.
The latest chapters of my life have been influenced by living green. I learned so much in the Katimavik volunteer program, having been a part of the environment committee. Upon my return after the nine-month program, I enjoyed a job working as a community kitchen chef and clearing trails for a running path, cooking with fresh vegetables and promoting healthy living. I gained a similar job the next summer, cooking, but using home-grown vegetables and fruits from a community garden that my friends and I planted. I would bike to this garden most days, enjoying the exercise and fresh air. It's part of a larger project that will promote
buying local foods. I continued my healthy lifestyle in the Canada World Youth volunteer program. I lived in Kelowna, BC, and Beijing, China, where I began to REALLY appreciate environmentally friendly living. We learned a lot about the issues there and how they are affected socially and politically. I hope to continue doing so and learning more when I bike across Canada, and maybe join the Otesha project in the future, a biking organization that promotes environmental issue awareness.
Thanks to Devon for sending in her story – and don't forget, if you still haven't entered, there's still time to send your own story to email@example.com.
Devon wins a gift basket of yummy organic and fair-trade goodies from
Cocoa Camino, including the following: • 1 Bittersweet 71% bar (100g) • 1 Milk bar (100g) • 1 Dark with Almonds bar (100g) • 1 Cranberries and Almonds bar (40g) • 1 Matcha Green Tea bar (40g) • 1 Panama Extra Dark 85% bar (40g) • 1 Chili and Spice bar (40g) • 1 bag of sugar cane (1lb) • 1 tin of Chili and Spice hot chocolate - dairy free (275g) Today's code word: chocolate Read more: •
What you can do about rising food prices •
New book about eating locally in Canada •
14 delicious rhubarb recipes
Skywalker has depression and anxiety, and believes she should be allowed to bring her cat on board without a carrier. But some say that a mental illness doesn’t require the same considerations as blindness or epilepsy. Others say her needs shouldn’t infringe on the rights of those with allergies. Many more were in her corner, arguing that Air Canada’s refusal is discriminatory.
According to Leslie Jack, a therapy dog coordinator for St. John Ambulance in Ontario, therapy animals can make a real difference to those in distress. Jack takes specially selected and trained dogs to visit with distressed adults and children in hospitals and long-term care facilities, seniors’ residences and even university campuses. “When we visit, it’s a positive distraction,” says Jack, “and within 15 seconds of petting a dog, people’s blood pressure starts to drop, anxiety is lowered and their day is brightened.”
Jack has seen similar results in people with brain injuries, PTSD and children of deployed soldiers. “No matter why it is, it works,” she says. That’s why she’s not surprised that therapy pets are key to easing anxiety around plane travel for some people. “It really is the same type of thing,” says Jack. “If people have anxiety or fear about flying, a therapy pet would be distracting and calming.”
Airlines, too, are starting to recognize the value of therapy pets in comforting passengers. But that doesn’t mean that you can simply board a plane, expecting to keep your cat or dog in your lap. While rules and regulations around flying with service and therapy pets vary, the following guidelines are a good place to start your de-stressed travel plans.
1. Make it official
Get a letter from your care provider stating that you have a diagnosed mental health issue and that you need to travel with a support animal. Ensure the letter is on letterhead and your care provider includes his or her official credentials. The letter should also be dated less than a year from your travel dates.
2. Do your research
Does your voyage include connecting flights on different airlines? Ensure both allow therapy animals. Ditto for destinations: animals are not allowed on flights to or from Bridgetown, Barbados, for example. Plus, sometimes different rules apply for domestic versus international flights.
3. Check the guidelines
Just because one airline says it’s OK for you to keep your support cat on your lap during the flight doesn’t mean that another airline will—and some airlines will only allow dogs. West Jet, for example, allows support animals but needs at least seven days’ notice on package vacations. Some airlines, meanwhile, require animals to be on harnesses at all times, while others will only allow pets in carriers.
Once you’ve done all the groundwork and have found a route that allows you to travel with your support animal, remember to feed him or her about four hours before you take off—it’s easier on travelling animals not to have a full stomach. Then sit back with your furry friend, relax and enjoy the flight.
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.
Want to transform the look of your bedroom? Inspired by board-and-batten siding, this headboard looks like a million bucks—on a way smaller budget. It's super simple to build and you can easily customize the size to fit your bed.
- Tape measure
- Table saw or handsaw
- 1/2-inch sheet of MDF
- 1- by 5-inch MDF board
- 1- by 3-inch MDF board
- Several 1- by 4-inch MDF boards
- Wood glue
- Clamps for drying (optional)
- Nail gun and nails
- Caulking gun and caulk
- Paint tray
- Paint roller and paintbrush
- Paint (We used Behr Ultra Pure White 1850)
- Screwdriver and screws
- Wood filler
Measure the width of your bed. Using the saw, cut the sheet (A) so it's 4 inches wider than the bed— this was 57 inches for us—and 66 inches long. (We had ours cut to size at The Home Depot.) Cut the 1- by 5-inch board (B) the same width as the sheet. Cut the 1- by 3-inch board (C) 4 inches longer than the width of the sheet, which was 61 inches for us.
Place the boards horizontally on top of the sheet so they're flush.
Measure from the bottom of the 1- by 5-inch board (B) to the bottom of the sheet. Cut four 1- by 4-inch boards (D) to the same length. Place them vertically equidistant on the sheet.
Create a grid by cutting remaining 1- by 4-inch boards (E) to fit horizontally between the vertical boards.
Glue each board in place on the sheet; let dry. Using the nail gun, secure each board in place. Caulk any edges (if you see gaps); let dry.
Paint the headboard. To make it easier to paint the sides, elevate the sheet on scrap pieces of wood.
To hang the headboard on the wall just above the baseboard, use the level, then screw it in place. Cover screw and nail holes with wood filler; let dry. Sand; touch up with paint.