Tag Archives: Eye Candy

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Winter-ready maintenance tips

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Winter-ready maintenance tips

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association that represents power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf cart and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI offers maintenance tips for preparing for upcoming seasonal changes.

“Doing good maintenance in the fall means that your lawn mower will be in ready when spring arrives and you are eager to tackle landscaping projects,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “As you get ready for winter, now is also the time to do snow thrower and generator maintenance. You should also review safe handling procedures, so you know how to use your equipment and are ready when snow falls.”

  1. Re-familiarize yourself with how to handle your equipment safely, along with any maintenance needs. If you lost your manual, you can usually find it online. Save a copy so that you can consult it when needed.
  2. Before storing equipment that you won’t need during the winter months, clean and service it yourself or take it to a small engine repair shop. Drain and change engine oil, then safely dispose of old oil. Service the air filter, and do other maintenance activities as directed by your service manual. Check all winter equipment to see what maintenance and repairs are required.
  3. Handle fuel properly. Unused gas that’s left in gas tanks over the winter can go stale. It can even damage your equipment. Before you store your equipment, add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, and then run the equipment to distribute it. Turn the engine off, allow the machine to cool, then restart and run until the gas tank is empty. For winter equipment, be sure that you use the fuel that your manufacturer recommends. Most outdoor power equipment is designed, built and warranted to run on 10 per cent, or less, ethanol fuel.
  4. If your equipment has a battery, remove and fully charge it before storing. It’s important that batteries are not stored on metal shelves or touching metal objects. Store the battery on a plastic, or wood, shelf in a climate-controlled structure.
  5. Store your spring and summer equipment in a clean and dry place, such as a garage, barn or shed. Winter equipment should be kept away from the elements, but be easily accessible for use when needed. Always keep your outdoor power equipment out of the reach of children and pets.
  6. Clear the paths the are regularly used in your yard, especially during the winter months, and put away warm weather items. Clear space in your garage and basement (before the weather changes), so that you have room to store larger yard items, like patio furniture, umbrellas and summer toys.
  7. Familiarize yourself with your winter equipment and make sure that you know how to turn the machine on and off the machine, along with safe handling procedures.
  8. Buy the type of fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer no more than 30 days before required. You should use fuel with no more than 10 per cent ethanol in outdoor power equipment. Also, fuel goes stale and will need to be replaced if you have not used it within a month. Use a fuel stabilizer, if recommended by your manufacturer.
  9. Keep heavy duty, weatherproof extension cords on hand for your generator.

 

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After two years, we reveal our master bathroom reno

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After two years, we reveal our master bathroom reno

Two years ago, when we purchased our home, we knew that ONE day we’d get to our master bathroom. It was dated and needed a good reno, but we felt we could ‘live with it’ for a few years. Well, that one day finally came and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

The Plan

When planning out our space, I looked at a few different configurations. Ultimately, I was thinking I’d put a shower at the far end of our bathroom, install a smaller vanity, move the toilet over and put a claw-foot tub where the existing bath was. I think this would have made for a really functional space. The plan changed quickly over the course of a weekend when we bought a new house. Surprise…WE’RE MOVING AGAIN!! With that said, we still wanted to undertake this reno on a tight budget. Things would stay where they were so that we wouldn’t need to move any plumbing and we could get things started right away.

Tile

First off, I fell in love with these tiles from Stone Impressions. They were a quick ship option; I LOVED the pattern and they were unlike anything I had seen before. I started playing with the idea of using the Avery tile as a feature wall and didn’t look back. I reached out to Stone Impressions and was over the moon when they wanted to collaborate on our project. They shipped us the hand-selected Carrara marble tiles all the way from San Diego. When I opened up the package, I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes. The pattern on each individual tile looked so handcrafted and luxurious. I swear, we’re going to miss them in our new home.

Vanity

Next up, the vanity. We went with the 60″ Ashburn Vanity from Foremost available online at The Home Depot Canada. It was the perfect size for our space and the colour is GORGEOUS! My favourite part? That it has feet. It really looks like a piece of furniture. We decided to add an additional sink and it’s so functional for us. Before, we had so much counter space that we really didn’t use. We ordered the vanity online and it was shipped to our door (countertop, sinks and all).

Faucets & Hardware

When it came to our faucets I decided to go with matte black. I really love that the faucets don’t match the hardware on the vanity. The mixed metals work so well in our bathroom. This also allowed me to incorporate a polished nickel showerhead and some polished nickel in our vanity light. We ordered towel racks and our toilet paper holder in the same matte-black collection from Pfister. They’re stunning! The accents of black really work so well with everything else we have going on in the space. The collection is exclusive to The Home Depot Canada and I couldn’t be more thrilled to recommend it. The water ribbons as it pours, the design works with any bathroom esthetic, it came with an easy-to-install, push-to-seal drain, it has a lifetime warranty AND there are other finishes to choose from. Major win!

Saniflo

When planning our bathroom reno, we thought we’d be able to incorporate Saniflo into our project. When they explained to me how it worked, I jumped on the opportunity for a collaboration. In the end, we didn’t end up moving any plumbing and didn’t need to use their system, but I can assure you, we’ll be using it in our new home and I’ll be telling my friends about it. What is it exactly? Let me explain: The Saniflo Sanicompact macerating toilet is the system that I’m referring to. If you’re looking to install a toilet in a trailer, a cottage, a basement, or anywhere else that typically requires you to move plumbing, the Sanicompact allows you to quickly and easily add a new bathroom without any major construction. There is no need to break the concrete or move plumbing lines because the Sanicompact can tie into your existing lines. The best part about this system is the tankless design, which makes it great for smaller spaces, and it looks very modern too. Sounds pretty great right? Well, that’s a wrap. Thanks so much for checking out our Master Bathroom Reno. We love it! Stay tuned for future renos in our new house. I can’t wait to start planning and creating.

Shop my Bathroom:

Tiles: StoneImpressions | Faucet: The Home Depot | Tub: The Home Depot | Towel Bar: The Home Depot | Hand Towel Bar: The Home Depot | Toilet Paper Holder: The Home Depot | Vanity: The Home Depot | Turkish Towels: House of Jude

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Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and new mom living in Burlington, Ontario. You may recognize her from shows like Tiny Talent Time, Morning Live First Edition and The Shopping Channel. She has also worked behind the scenes for the Property Brothers’ Show, Buying And Selling. When Jaclyn’s not on TV or creating beautiful designs, you’ll find her latest projects on her blog jaclynharperdesigns.com. From DIYs, design projects to life as a new mom, her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel give her fans a peek into her family life.

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Kids’ bedrooms – a labour of love for the little ones

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Kids’ bedrooms – a labour of love for the little ones

I love working on bedrooms. They come in all shapes and sizes, so a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t really work, especially when the space is small and/or awkward. That sums up my spare room, which I was challenged with turning into a home away from home for three little girls under the age of six.

With toys, clothing and gadgets for three little ones, I had to come up with unique sleeping arrangements and incorporate lots of storage to make the best use of the space.

Creative Space Configuration

Fitting three girls into a small space certainly made making room for beds a challenge. My only option was bunk beds and, with tight space restrictions, I had to take it a step further and have custom beds created. In order to fit them into this small, square room, I had to get really creative. First, I turned the hinges on the bedroom door so it would open in the other direction. Then I built in a wall, creating a pseudo hallway inside the room. That wall was able to serve as a headboard and I mounted the bed ladder right on the wall, making use of every square inch of space.

Smart Storage

Because little girls have A LOT of stuff, I installed drawers on wheels under the beds and added an open-shelving area for additional storage. We also tucked a window seat into the wall and surrounded it with storage as well. I wanted to add texture and a modern twist by changing the closet doors to Masonite’s Melrose Safe ‘n Sound door, from Metrie. I went with their Safe ‘n Sound core option for the weight and feel of the door, and most importantly, to keep the noise down.

A Playful Feature Wall

I added wallpaper in a geometric pattern from Wayfair to create a feature wall. Originally, I was going to wallpaper the entire room with this pattern, but there was limited stock when I ordered it. So, having fallen in love with the design, I decided to use it anyway in a smaller dose – hence, the feature wall. I also used stylish blackout blinds from Wayfair in all white; their soft, cascading design makes the space seem larger and more airy.

Space-enhancing colour palette

I used soft colours in the room by adding a patterned rug from Wayfair and the polka- dot sheets, which keeps the room soft, clean looking and fun, all at the same time.

I added hypoallergenic, dust-mite control, fully washable pillows and bedding from my own line called Alcorn Home. I cannot stress enough the importance of “washable” sheets with little ones! These beauties pop right in the washing machine – cover, filling and all. Finally, I added some pink velvet pillows (also washable), and a black-and-white throw blanket to balance off the wallpaper at the end of the bed.

Personality, function and room to play

The artwork is another source of colour and pattern. By enlarging and hanging cute family photos, it added personality and a sense of belonging for the kids.

A full-length mirror at the end of the hall is functional and created a runway for playtime. There was enough floor space for the girls to get out their doll houses and other toys, and still have room for everyone to enjoy whatever they were doing at any given time.

The biggest lesson to learn from this makeover is that sometimes you really have to think outside of the box – literally! If I had stayed with the square room, as it was, it wouldn’t have the wonderful personality and function this room has now.

I love how this space turned out, and the kids love it too – which is the most important thing. I look forward to many sleepovers here and know this is a space that will easily change with them as they grow up. Just hoping it’s not too quickly!

Jo Alcorn is founder and design specialist at Alcorn Home.

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Building a new backyard deck? Take your time and do it right

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Building a new backyard deck? Take your time and do it right

Whether you’re looking to install a new deck or want to make minor improvements to your existing one, deck building should never be rushed. There are a lot of new products on the market, so it’s important to do your homework and plan for your space to get the best possible outcome for your property.

Achieving the deck of your dreams is an investment that will undoubtedly add value to your property. A new deck becomes the outdoor hub for family and friends to enjoy well beyond the summer months. It will provide a wonderful place to entertain, grill and make cherished memories. The right deck built with quality, long-lasting materials, will endure for decades.

Inspiration

While it’s important to pay close attention to the details and planning of your deck building, the process should also be enjoyable. The first step towards creating your vision is to become inspired. You may already have an idea of what you want, but if you don’t, there are endless possibilities and options to explore. Look at different decks online, in magazines and on social media, or even just walking through your neighborhood. You never know what you might discover.

Layout

No matter your budget, the deck layout is determined by the space that’s available. If you have a smaller backyard or prefer a minimalist approach, you might consider a simple design with clean lines such as, square or rectangle. Popular dimensions for decks include 12’x12′ and 16’x20′ – both create ample space for outdoor entertaining and relaxation.

Homeowners who want a more personalized design often opt for custom shapes, sizes and styles. Multiple levels can offer space for covered sections – perfect for outdoor kitchens, grill corners, hot tubs and water features.

Subtle outdoor lighting enhances the ambience in the evening hours and is a crucial addition for most decks regardless of size.

Simplify the creation of your deck layout by using a deck design tool. Using a design tool will help you visualize your future outdoor space and help determine whether your plan meets your outdoor living needs.

Wood or composite

Wood has long been considered the go-to material for decking, but composite products are gaining in popularity. Composites are developed from a mix of recycled plastic and wood fibres and offer the luxury of low-maintenance and increased durability. Not to mention, there are a variety of unique finishes available, plus new technology geared to circumvent expansion and contraction issues and withstand common water challenges like rot, wear and warping.

Deckorators offers some of the industry’s best warranties, such as a 25-year Structural, a 25-year Stain & Fade, and a 25-year Removal & Replacement warranty to help you feel confident in your decision. Deckorators also has designated Certified Pro contractors available to help you each step of the way.

Decking patterns and colour

Adding a pattern to your deck design can provide a unique style that is sure to stand out. While the shape of your deck is one consideration, the colour options, styles and finishes enable you to customize your outdoor space. Consider incorporating a multi-colour pattern such as: herringbone, hexagonal, V-shaped, sunburst or picture-framed boarder. Even a standard-shaped deck can be made to look like one-of-a-kind, creating an extension to your home while adding some personality.

Playing with colour will also help you find the tone that’s right for your property and surrounding space. To get familiar with what’s available, check out new PANTONEVIEW home + interiors 2019 to identify trends, proven colour combinations as well as timeless shades that will stand the test of time.

Find a builder

When you’ve completed your research and have an idea of what your dream deck looks like, it’s time to contact a local contractor who will implement your plans and achieve the outdoor space you want. Industry leaders, like Deckorators, understand the importance of finding a certified deck builder that can work with your product of choice. Additionally, the established Certified Pro program trains local contractors to work with Deckorators’ products and meet a variety of client needs.

Jase DeBoer blogs about deck ideas on the Deckorators On Deck Blog. He also hosts the bi-weekly Deckorators Facebook Live program “On Deck,” which offers homeowners insight on tips, trends, and products to take their deck beyond ordinary. As senior category marketing manager for Deckorators, DeBoer has extensive knowledge of how deck design elements can work together to create a personalized outdoor oasis brimming with style.

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Saving money, food, and the planet

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Saving money, food, and the planet

Wasting food isn’t just bad for the family budget, it also hurts the planet. According to a national study, co-authored by food recovery program Second Harvest www.secondharvest.ca and Value Chain Management International, www.vcm-international.com, the findings suggest that the 35.5 million metric tonnes of food, which is wasted annually in Canada creates a whopping 56.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

One way to reduce waste in the home is to invest in re-usable storage bags or containers. Etee www.shopetee.com makes reusable sheets and bags out of organic cotton muslin and non-toxic dyes, coated in organic beeswax, tree resin, non-GMO soy wax, organic jojoba, and essential oils.

Estee wraps are easy to store flat in a drawer.

I tested Etee’s bags with cheese, snacks, and nuts, and these bags can also be used for cooked (not raw) or smoked meats. They kept bagels fresh for several days, and were terrific for transporting sandwiches and fruit for work lunches. They are especially effective with fresh herbs: dill, parsley, and coriander- all stayed very green and fragrant for close to a week.

Their tackiness is activated by being rolled into a ball and kneaded for a minute. That’s what allows the sheets to form a seal. Just keep in mind that the wrap sticks to itself rather than to the bowl containing the food. They can also be frozen for up to 30 days.

After use, they should be rinsed in cool water and, if necessary, gently washed with soap that doesn’t contain alcohol — which can degrade the finish — in lukewarm (not hot) water.

Kliin cloths are machine washable; air drying will make them last longer.

Paper towels can be wasteful, so I was eager to try samples from yet another Canadian company, KLIIN, which makes cloths (starting from $5) that are a cross between conventional paper towels and wash cloths. KLIIN cloths proved to be useful for chores like wiping surfaces, doing dishes, and washing outdoor furniture. The manufacturers claim one KLIIN cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels. A $15 roll of thinner towels has five, nine-by-nine-and-a-half-inch sheets, and is available online at www.kliin.co or at select retailers.

Kliin towels come in happy colours and fun designs that brighten the kitchen.

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House www.aroundthehouse.ca. Follow her on Instagram @athwithvicky, on Twitter @ATHwithVicky and on FB at www.facebook.com/ATHWithVicky

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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

As temperatures slowly start to warm up here in Ontario, it’s easy to imagine spending more time outdoors. I’m here to give you a few simple tips on how you can create your very own luxurious backyard retreat — no passport or suitcase required. Now is the time to get those projects finished so that you can get the most out of your backyard this season. Are you ready to own a little piece of paradise? If so, keep reading.

CURATED ZONES
By creating distinct zones in your outdoor living space, you create several customized, livable areas. This not only makes your yard more functional, but also more luxurious because you are optimizing the space for maximum enjoyment. Think of resorts where there’s the pool area, the cabana, the outdoor bar, barbecue, the yoga area, the tennis courts… okay, you might not be adding a tennis court but you get the idea. Try using large area rugs to ground these spaces. They will help distinguish one area from another, and make each space feel more pulled together. Lighting can also help with this. Hanging light pendants from above will create a more intimate atmosphere, while placing lights on the ground offer an open and airy environment. While area rugs and lighting are important considerations when creating the type of retreat you want, the most important question to ask yourself is: How will you be using your space?

BODACIOUS PLANTS
Try to incorporate a good balance of hardscape and softscape in your outdoor retreat. Think about those luxurious walkways at resorts that guide you to the pool area. Not only are they colourful, they are also calming and restorative. The stone-work surface surrounded by the lush greenery feels so indulgent. Look to replicate this vibe. By adding plants of varying heights and an eclectic mix of planters, you can create a space that feels beautifully curated. When it comes to plants, the more the merrier. Just ask your local greenhouse which plants require less maintenance, that is, if you don’t have a green thumb.

COOL GADGETS
Of course, nothing says luxury more than cool gadgets that get the conversation started. This summer, I recommend trying out the brand new Space Grill. It’s the world’s very first, full-sized, three-burner, fold-down, gas grill. The space-saving design allows you to mount it on an outside wall, or hang it on a stand so that it takes up as little space as possible. It also looks so stylish. Watch THIS video to see what I’m talking about. It’s available at all three Barbecue World locations.

TRENDY ACCESSORIES
When it comes to accessories, I’d encourage sticking to tone-on-tone neutrals. Think black, white, taupe and navy, as these colours work well together and tend to give a lavish feel to your space. By adding pops of bright colour, you tend to make the space feel more casual. Think of the really high-end resorts – you’d usually find white-canopied beds, black loungers, white towels … you get the picture, right? To create the same luxurious feel in your own backyard, stick with a similar palette. In fact, Airmiles has a brand new rewards catalogue with 200 additions. I used my miles to get the Napoleon Healthy Choice Starter Kit – the perfect accessory for grilling this season. Collectors from coast to coast can select from a variety of barbecues, patio furniture and accessories.

LOW-LYING FURNITURE
In 2019, low-lying outdoor furniture is trending. This comfortable yet stylish look tends to give off a luxe vibe. The good news is, there are some fantastic options that can give you this look without breaking the bank. My favourite this season is Hampton Bay Park Heights this collection set from The Home Depot.

WRAP-UP
So there you have it. A few simple tips on how you can create a luxurious retreat in your own backyard. Now let’s hope we get some warm weather sooner rather than later.

Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and new mom living in Burlington, Ontario. You may recognize her from shows like Tiny Talent Time, Morning Live First Edition and The Shopping Channel. She has also worked behind the scenes for the Property Brothers’ Show, Buying And Selling. When Jaclyn’s not on TV or creating beautiful designs, you’ll find her latest projects on her blog jaclynharperdesigns.com. From DIYs, design projects to life as a new mom, her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel give her fans a peek into her family life.

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Majestic murals, a glimpse into the wallpaper styles

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Majestic murals, a glimpse into the wallpaper styles

Photography By Kayla Rocca

A glimpse into the wallpaper styles that dress the walls of a regal estate overlooking the Niagara Escarpment

A 200-acre countryside estate that sits at the top of the Niagara Escarpment is one of the latest projects Westgrove design agency has undertaken. This premier luxury rental called The Escarpment House was built in classic Georgian architecture and is surrounded by lush rolling hills with panoramic views of the Toronto cityscape.

While creating the design for 14,000 square feet of living space can be a daunting task, Westgrove was eager to bring contemporary luxury to this extravagant estate. Our vision was to maintain the elegance and grandeur of the property while modernizing furniture and lighting to create the ultimate guest experience. Inspired by modern boutique hotels with an eclectic mixture of finishes and textures, we relied on unique wallpaper prints to give several rooms a unique experience.

Inspired by the rooms of the Escarpment House, here are the four types of wallpaper you should be incorporating into your home design:

A Touch of Pastel

We took advantage of the property’s eight ensuite bathrooms, and truly gave a distinct feel to each one. We chose a pale pink watercolour palm print from Newwall to create a soft and contemporary feeling. While we chose to incorporate pink, any pastel against white trim and gold fixtures can emulate this look.

The Statement Wall

We knew for this main floor suite, complete with a wood-burning fireplace and two ensuite bathrooms, we had to make a statement. We chose an organic mural wallcovering by Emma Hayes, hung to look like falling petals, echoing the romantic undertone of the entire bedroom.

Signature Colour

While many people shy away from a single bold signature colour, we think when done thoughtfully, the end result can be striking. We continued the green palette from this second-floor bedroom into the ensuite. Inspired by the existing marble countertop, we chose a distinct palm leaf print for the walls accented by pheasant-feathered lamp shades and matching live foliage.

Off-White Delight

Utilizing shades of white and off-white on the walls can be a simple way to establish elegance in a design. To elevate from elegant to luxurious, we recommend opting for wallpaper rather than paint. This can be seen above, in the way we incorporated this subtle, marbled off-white wallpaper to easily enhance the overall look and feel of the room.

Located on 200 acres at the top of the Niagara Escarpment in Caledon, the Escarpment House is an exclusive 14,000 square foot countryside estate event venue and rental space. To learn more about the property, including rental availability, visit the website: escarpmenthouse.ca.

Keri MacLellan and Andrea Pierre are designers and co-owners of boutique design agency Westgrove. They created and brought to life the concept and design of the Escarpment House.

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Women In Skilled Trades (WIST)

Women are breaking barriers

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Women are breaking barriers

Tiffany Morin loves to solve puzzles. In fact, the new graduate from the Women In Skilled Trades (WIST) program says she considers every house she works on to be a puzzle.

“If that door isn’t closing right, you have to fix the puzzle – you have to find the missing piece,” said the 21-year-old from Baden (near Kitchener). “You see something that’s not working, you re-evaluate what’s wrong and try the first solution, then the next solution.”

Morin recently graduated from the program at the Centre for Skills Development in Burlington. It is an important cog to train and educate women to join the male-dominated construction trades.

“We’re chipping away every year to change the gender makeup of the trades,” says instructor Lawrence Farrell.

Among 19 women in the 22-week program, Morin was considered one of her class’s top problem-solvers. She has taken those skills and her new education with her to a job in Kitchener with Timeline Journey Renovations.

“It’s going really great. So far, we’ve put in a few doors, bathroom vents and a fence job where we replaced all of the old posts with new ones. Every day, I learn something new,” Morin says.

Farrell was not surprised to learn Morin was hired the Monday following her graduation in September.

“Tiffany is a very capable worker, and is an excellent problem solver with an eye for detail,” Farrell says. “She excelled in theory and was admired for her ability to grasp concepts quickly and apply what she learned for hands-on use. She is a leader, and that will shine through as she develops in her career in the trades.”

Because she excelled in leadership skills, academics and technical ability, Morin joined classmate Nico Varkevisser of Hamilton in being awarded with a $500 bursary from the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON).

Morin describes Varkevisser, a former daycare worker, as a quiet leader. “She was always so patient. All of the students got frustrated at different points but we all understood where people needed to take a second to catch their breath; no one was good at everything,” Morin says.

“Nico was definitely the most patient and understanding of all of us. She was always level-headed and if she ever got frustrated, it didn’t show.”

While she has plenty of patience, Varkevisser says she’s focused on improving her professional qualities. “I have a whole skill set that I didn’t have six months earlier, and I have the confidence that I can learn different skills if I didn’t learn them before.”

Varkevisser, 25, says that while it’s intimidating to be a woman stepping into construction, it shouldn’t be. “I think it needs to be more normalized so that women can be seen as being just as efficient as men in the construction world.” Couldn’t agree more.

Richard Lyall is president of RESCON.


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Green tips for the holidays

Green tips for the holidays

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Green tips for the holidays

Check out the simple tips below to bring some holiday cheer to your home and our environment by thinking green.

DECORATING

(NC) Families are outfitting their homes with the most festive decorations they can find. This year, check out the simple tips below to bring some holiday cheer to your home and our environment by thinking green.

Use a real tree: According to Statistics Canada, $61 million worth of artificial trees were imported into Canada in 2016. While artificial trees last longer, they are not recyclable. Real trees are as green as it gets. They are grown expressly for the holidays and do not contribute to deforestation. Not only do they help to remove carbon from the atmosphere while they are growing, they’re recyclable as well.

Use eco-friendly decorations: Consider stopping at your local thrift store, which is sure to offer a wide variety of unique and vintage decorations. You should also opt for decorations made from wood, burlap, metal or cloth where possible – not only do they last longer, but they give a natural, festive feel to your home. Lastly, get creative at home and use a mix of old decorations, branches or plants to really deck the halls.

Recycle old batteries: Make sure to replace and recycle the old batteries in reusable decorations, such as electronic train sets, snow globes and other figurines, to ensure they don’t wind up in landfills. Call2Recycle Canada (call2recycle.ca) has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, ensuring correct battery recycling is accessible for all Canadians. You can plug in your postal code on their website to find one closest to your home or work.

Use LED lights: The holidays are a peak time for energy consumption. Reducing your carbon footprint can help save you money while saving our environment. It isn’t as hard as you think, either. LED lights use 90 per cent less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. LED lights are perfect for indoor and outdoor decorations to brighten up any winter night.

GIFT BUYING

The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, but we all look forward to opening a gift or two. According to PwC, Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,563 each during the upcoming holiday season. Ensure your dollars don’t waste away in our landfills by following these green tips for gift buying.

Less is more: When shopping, think quality, not quantity – buy one great gift you know your loved one will cherish instead of multiple items. You can also consider donating to a charity or cause in someone’s name. DIY stocking stuffers and homemade treats are always a hit, so don’t forget to reconnect with your creative side.

Charge up your gifts: When purchasing toys and electronic gifts, why not throw in a pack of rechargeable batteries, too? Since you can recharge them over and over, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. This will decrease the number of old batteries that end up in landfills.

Create an experience: Holiday gifts tend to be all about the latest and greatest products, but they don’t always need to be. Create memories for your loved ones by purchasing experiences instead of what’s making the trendy list. Experiences such as concert tickets, movie passes or a ski trip are exciting gifts that will never ever end up in a landfill.

GIVE TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Incorporating these tips into your holiday festivities can make a big difference in keeping our earth clean and green. A little holiday cheer could land you on the environment’s nice list for a long, long time.

That’s a wrap: Make sure you’re disposing of wrapping paper and gift bags properly. Most wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes are recyclable if they don’t contain foil or glitter. Don’t forget to remove any sticky tape and decorations such as ribbons and bows before throwing them into the recycling bin. They are not recyclable and could taint other recyclable materials. If you feel like getting crafty, make your own wrapping paper using old maps, newspaper or your kids’ artwork.

Turn off the lights: Holiday nights are brightened by holiday lights, but think about reducing your carbon footprint by installing a timer or shutting off your indoor and outdoor lights before heading to bed. Timers help ensure your lights are turning on and off at the right times, which will save you money and our environment at the same time.

Out with the old, in with the new: The trendiest new toys and gadgets are great to receive, but don’t leave your old stuff by the wayside. Toys and gadgets make for great donations, so think about giving them to a family in need or dropping them off at a toy drive.

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A Merry Drink for the Holidays

A Merry Drink for the Holidays

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A Merry Drink for the Holidays

Whether mocktail or cocktail, these beverages will add pizzazz to your holiday entertaining.

(NC) Sangria is often relegated to summertime patios, but this make-ahead pitcher drink is equally perfect for winter entertaining. Sweet, tart pomegranate juice and warm winter spices add festive flavour and de-alcoholized red wine makes this a great non-alcoholic option.

“Spruce up this mocktail with sprigs of basil or fresh mint for an extra pop of colour and freshness,” suggests Michelle Pennock, executive chef for the President’s Choice Test Kitchen. “These small touches add bright tasting notes that get your guests’ senses tingling and set the stage for your event.”

Non-Alcoholic Spiced Sangria

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cool time: 2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each ground allspice and ground cloves
  • Pinch (0.5 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 navel orange (peel on), thinly sliced into rounds
  • Half lemon (peel on), thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) PC Red De-Alcoholized Wine with Natural Flavour, chilled
  • 2 cups (500 mL) 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pulp-free orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) frozen pomegranate arils

Directions:

Bring sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and 1 cup water to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate syrup until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Stir together orange, lemon, 1 cup wine, pomegranate juice, orange juice and ¼ cup syrup in 3L (12 cup) pitcher. Cover and refrigerate one hour or up to 12 hours. Stir in frozen pomegranate arils and remaining wine. Divide among wine glasses filled with ice.

Chef’s tip: You’ll make more of the spiced syrup than you need for one batch of this sangria. Refrigerate the remaining syrup in an airtight container or jar for up to one month and use in your favourite cocktails and mocktails, or as a dressing for fruit salad.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 100, fat 0 g, sodium 10 mg, carbohydrate 24 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 20 g, protein 1 g.

A holiday mule to warm up your guests

This extra-festive twist on a Moscow mule is sure to spice up your holiday party. Flavoured with the zing of ginger beer, notes of caramel and vanilla from bourbon, and balanced by the sweetness of apple cider, it strikes a perfect balance. “To make your drink look as good as it tastes, try garnishing with accents such as crystallized ginger,” suggests Pennock. “This small step brings the drink to the next level.”

Maple Bourbon Cider Mule

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) honeycrisp sweet apple cider
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) bourbon (1 oz)
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) ginger beer
  • 1 slice crystallized ginger (optional)

Directions:

Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, maple syrup and lime juice. Cover and shake vigorously 15 to 20 seconds.

Strain into stemless red wine glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Thread crystallized ginger onto wooden cocktail skewer (if using); place in glass. Chef’s tip: Leave out the bourbon for a non-alcoholic version.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 220, fat 0 g, sodium 10 mg, carbohydrates 39 g, fibre 0 g, sugars 36 g, protein 0 g.

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