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Learn how feng shui techniques can declutter your home and create positive space in your life.
Do you want to bring happiness, good fortune and wellness into your life this year? Turn to the positive energies of feng shui as your guide. The ancient Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment can help spruce up your home and simultaneously create balance and joy.
Bridget Saraka, the Saskatoon-based owner of Feng Shui by Bridget, says the practice offers life-changing benefits. "Feng shui is about creating a space that's not only pleasing to your eye, but also pleasing to all your senses, so that your home supports and enriches your life," she says. "How we live has a profound impact on what our experiences will be. When you apply feng shui principles to your home, you can attract a great new year."
If your home is cluttered, dimly lit and has poorly arranged furniture, feng shui principles state that your life will be filled with obstacles and present few opportunities for growth. As a result, your job, relationships, finances and health can become stagnant. By making a few small changes, you can revitalize your space and your life. Here are six simple tips to get started:
1. Make your front door visible to receive blessings
In feng shui, a hard-to-read house number or a blocked walkway to a door will prevent positive energy from entering the home. "Have an address that's easy to see from the street and a path from your front door into your home that isn't cluttered with obstacles," says Saraka. "If the universe can't find you, how can fortunate blessings find you?"
2. Add colour for good health
Taupes and other neutral colours are popular in home decor, but they might contribute to low moods and energy levels during Canada's long, dark winters. "They're the wrong colour palate for Canadians because many of us suffer from seasonal affective disorder," says Saraka. From a feng shui perspective, these colours absorb the winter light, leaving Canadians feeling depressed and directionless.
To boost health and energy, start by painting your walls. "Choose a colour that's warm yet still reflects light – soft yellows, soft greens – colours that give a feeling of the sun and nature," says Saraka. "Green makes all colours pop, plus it's about life, vitality, growth and new vibrations." If you can't afford to paint, use colourful accessories—accent pillows, throws, live flowers, lighting in dark corners—to ignite powerful energy shifts in your home. "It's the easiest and most affordable way to do it," says Saraka.
3. Edit your belongings
Clear the bad vibes that accompany clutter. "Go through your home with a keen eye to what no longer serves you. If you haven't worn or used it within a year, donate it," says Saraka. "If it's broken and you're not going to repair it, remove it from the space. This editing practice opens up your home so you have room to experience a new chapter." Items that hold upsetting memories should be removed, too.
4. Let indoor plants and water bring prosperity
¨Want to attract wealth this year? Bring plants and a water fountain into your home. "Jade plants and fountains are symbols that represent wealth and finance in feng shui," says Saraka. Your health may also benefit from plants and flowers inside the home. "They purify the air," says Saraka, "And as you nurture the plant, you're nurturing yourself."
5. Position furniture for safety
If you don't feel safe and comfortable in your home, your furniture placement might be to blame. "Feng shui is first and foremost about comfort and safety," says Saraka. "Make sure that the largest piece of furniture in any room is in a position where you can see the door. If the sofa or head of the bed is against the same wall as the door, you can't see who is coming in. This creates a sense of vulnerability."
6. Use essential oils to attain happiness
Essential oils can help clear negative energy and add happy vibes to your home. "Put distilled water in a spritzer bottle, add three to six droplets of oil, and then spritz the air," says Saraka. If someone has been ill, Saraka recommends a blend of frankincense and cinnamon. ¨"To infuse a space with joy, use rose and orange essential oils. Rose is about love. Orange is about joy. So you're infusing joyful love into your space." Essential oils can be purchased from most health-food stores.
For more feng shui tips, check out how you can declutter your car.
Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Credits: Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson
Bars and squares make a fun addition to any cookie exchange.
Tested until perfect.
Get the recipe: Butter Tart Squares
The pride of Nanaimo, B.C., these bars have a crumb base layered with a creamy custard filling and a chocolaty topping. Best served at room temperature, the bars keep well refrigerated or frozen.
Get the recipe: Classic Nanaimo Bars
Enjoy these Australian squares just as they are, or dip them in a mug of hot cocoa for the ultimate treat. While they're traditionally made with sponge cake, our version uses easy-to-make chocolate pound cake instead, making them a sinfully indulgent dessert for chocolate lovers. To retain their moistness, store the squares in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Double Chocolate Lamington Squares
Sweet-tart cranberries are cooked with a hint of orange to make an easy jam-like filling, then sandwiched between layers of crisp almond pastry. Freshly ground almonds are crunchier than the storebought ground variety, so whirl whole nuts in a food processor for the ultimate nutty crust.
Get the recipe: Cranberry Almond Squares
A thick layer of creamy mint icing is sandwiched between a crumbly chocolate cookie base and smooth dark chocolate ganache in these irresistible squares.
Get the recipe: Mint Chocolate Squares
The inside-out version of this classic square offers a classy white chocolate top with a rich dark chocolate centre. Use a vegetable peeler to make the chocolate shavings.
Get the recipe: Reverse Nanaimo Bars
These layered bars are like three desserts in one! Using a candy thermometer ensures you have the right consistency of caramel (not too soft and not too hard).
Get the recipe: Gooey Peanut Butter Squares
If simplicity is your style, look no further than these six-ingredient squares, made with ingredients you'll likely already have on hand. If you prefer, use seedless raspberry jam instead of strawberry.
Get the recipe: Crumble-Topped Jam Squares
A smooth and silky no-bake filling comes together in a matter of minutes for this easy crowd-pleasing treat. Be sure to top the squares with peanuts quickly, before the chocolate sets.
Get the recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Each layer of these bars is a delicious treat on its own; together, they become the star of any goodie tray. To make them gluten-free, be sure to use oat flour that's labelled as such. If you choose not to use pasteurized egg whites, whisk a fresh egg white until frothy and measure out one tablespoon.
Get the recipe: Sugared Pecan Fudge Squares
Vanilla wafer cookies, raspberry filling and white chocolate lighten up the traditional colour – and flavour – of the classic Nanaimo bar.
Get the recipe: Pink Berry Nanaimo Bars
Classic pecan pie gets a bite-size makeover with these crunchy pecan-packed squares. Toothsome shortbread is the perfect base, adding a delightful contrast. Chill the squares before cutting for a smooth, easy slice.
Get the recipe: Honey Pecan Pie Squares
Trust us, these easy-to-make squares will be the hit of your holiday parties and family gatherings. Wrap them in cute little boxes and hand them out as hostess gifts at all of your festive get-togethers.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Toffee Hello Dollies
Sweet glac? cherries and vivid pink icing give these sumptuous brownies a nostalgic retro look. Make them a couple of days ahead, then spread on the fruity icing just before serving.
Get the recipe: Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Sweet butterscotch squares hide a layer of crystallized ginger and velvety milk chocolate. These are pretty when packaged as gifts and are the perfect holiday treat to add to a bake sale.
Get the recipe: Ginger Butterscotch Squares
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Live long with these tips. Credits: Calaimage/ Paul Bradbury
Bad health habits are literally taking years off your life, according to a new Canadian study. But we have strategies for curbing the worst offenders.
We have bad news and good news. First, the bad: whether it’s being a couch potato, smoking, letting one glass of Chardonnay turn into the whole bottle, or indulging in a giant bowl of chips and dip, our most beloved vices are killing us. Or rather, they’re drastically reducing our life expectancy, says a new study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine. It found that smoking, eating junk food, vegging out and drinking can actually slash almost six years off the life expectancy of both men and women.
The study, authored by Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, focused on the worst habits, which contributed to nearly half of all deaths reported in Canada. Using a predictive algorithm Manuel and his team created, population health surveys at the individual level were examined to learn just how dangerous these vices can be. The findings were dramatic—“smoking, by itself, was associated with 32% to 39% of the difference in life expectancy across social groups,” the study says.
But that’s where the good news comes in: though their impact can’t be understated, you can combat unhealthy habits—or at least tame them. Here are the 4 guilty pleasures that are worst for your health, and what you can do to curb them.
While only about 20 per cent of Canada’s total population smokes, it is still the reigning health hazard for Canadians. When lighting up again, remember that the overall loss of life expectancy is an estimated 2.8 years. Coming up with a smoking cessation plan can help you butt out.
2. Eating Junk Food
A poor diet can shave off 1.2 years of your life, so we think it’s safe to say that giving into your sweet tooth at every craving is not a good call. To head off that 3pm junk food craving, don’t skip meals, and keep healthier snack options on-hand.
3. Physical Inactivity
With all the hours you put in at the office, it can be hard to find the opportunity and motivation to head to the gym. But yoga, Pilates, running or even going on 15-minute walks will add an extra 2.6 years onto your life. The solution? Changing your perspective.
4. Consuming Alcohol
Drinking has the least impact of these four vices—drinking contributed to a two-week decrease in life expectancy, but we know heavy drinking impacts your health in other ways. That’s why it’s important to drink with restraint.