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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.
Photography by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg
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Sure, the main dish may get all of the glory, but your holiday feast is only as good as its sidekicks. Here are 20 of our favourite festive side dishes to round out your special meals.
Stovetop space is often limited when preparing big meals, so avoid the crunch and make this classic creamy side in your slow cooker, instead! Bacon makes this dish extra-indulgent, but you can easily omit it if you prefer to keep it vegetarian.
The combination of a creamy potato filling and cheesy breadcrumb crust makes this recipe one of our favourites. Gruyère cheese is notoriously strong-smelling, but it mellows nicely as it melts.
While it may look similar to broccoli, rapini has a distinct and assertive taste that many find bitter. Here, we’ve tossed the green with a sweet and savoury dressing, sweet yellow beans and nutty toasted almonds for a perfectly balanced blend of flavours.
Roasting the garlic takes some time, but it’s well worth the reward. The tender, golden cloves give a deep caramelized flavour to the dish, which pairs nicely with the sweet and peppery turnips that are mixed into the mash.
Sweet potato casserole is a must on holiday tables in the United States, but the traditional marshmallow-topped side doesn’t always have the same appeal here in Canada. For our Canadian twist on this dish, we’ve swapped out the marshmallows for a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel that’s the perfect balance of sweet and savoury.
A mix of fresh and frozen peas gives this bright dish the best texture. If fresh sugar snaps aren’t available, simply double the frozen peas or substitute with broccoli or green beans, instead. The three-ingredient garlic butter is a great condiment to have on hand—simply toss with hot pasta or gnocchi and steamed veggies and you’ve got a meal in minutes!
This creamy dish is a cross between decadent creamed spinach and lighter slaw, making it a crowd-pleasing side to satisfy many palates. To make this vegetarian-friendly, simply use vegetable broth.
Toasted walnuts, tangy blue cheese and crisp kohlrabi converge in this simple autumn salad. A slightly spicy, creamy dressing is the perfect balance to the peppery arugula.
Adding Parmesan cheese to stuffing might seem unconventional, but it helps to keep this dish moist and gives it a nice crisp crust. Oyster mushrooms are an elegant addition, but you can easily use inexpensive cremini mushrooms if you prefer.
This rice-based dish is a great gluten-free alternative to traditional bread stuffing. Tossing sliced shallots with cornstarch before frying makes them extra-crispy, making for a delightfully crunchy topping.
Artichokes may seem intimidating, but they’re actually quite simple to prepare. To prep them, first cut off the sharp tips of the leaves, then slice off the top of the artichoke to remove the fuzzy centre. Simmering in water loosens the remaining tough leaves, making them a cinch to pull off. It’s best to do this work a day ahead so that all you have to do the day of the meal is make the topping and roast the artichokes until crispy. The show-stopping end result is well worth the effort.
Goat cheese lends extra creaminess and a hint of tangy flavour to classic garlicky mashed potatoes. Heating the drained potatoes for a minute cooks off any excess liquid, which yields the fluffiest mash.
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The secret to these crispy roasted potatoes is a dual cooking method—you simmer them first, then finish them off in the oven with goose, duck or beef fat. Look for the fat in the gourmet section of major supermarkets or in specialty markets, or simply reserve the drippings from cooking duck, goose or beef.
No holiday meal would be complete without a heaping dish of mashed potatoes, and this one, with its delicious blend of fluffy russets and colourful sweet potatoes, is sure to fit the bill.
Endive can be bitter when eaten raw, but roasting the leafy vegetable mellows the flavour and brings out its sweetness. An herbaceous and zesty dressing adds a welcome hit of freshness. Be sure to rinse the leeks well after halving them, as sand and grit can hide within its layers.
Flavour-packed capers are an effortless way to punch up the flavour of any side, and they work especially well with mild roasted cauliflower. If you find capers to be overly salty, simply give them a rinse before using.
Tender, sweet acorn squash and crisp bacon add extra appeal to Brussels sprouts. For even cooking, trim the thick bottom end of the sprouts, remove the outer leaves and halve them lengthwise so they’re about the same size as the squash cubes.
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