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Home Sweet Home

4 Ways to Fill Your Home with Cozy Scents this Winter

Winter days often find us inside seeking comfort and warmth. To create the perfect indoor atmosphere in your home, try adding some winter-inspired scents to the mix. Whether you like the traditional glow of a scented candle or the rustic approach of stovetop potpourri, the right scent in your home this winter can make you feel calm and comforted. Read on for four different ways to disperse a scent throughout your home. 

Stovetop Potpourri

For a rich, strong scent without any special tools or ingredients, try a simmering stovetop potpourri. By combining several raw ingredients with some water and simmering over low heat on your stove or a hot plate, this potpourri can fill your house with aroma all day. The best part? You can whip up a recipe that uses leftover natural materials and food you may have at home this time of year – think herbs, spices, evergreen stems, and citrus. Try this recipe that incorporates a lot of traditional winter scents and can stay on your stove for up to a week if you keep adding water. Your kids will also enjoy helping you put these pots together – send them off throughout the house to collect aromatics!

Plug-In Diffusers

A plug-in diffuser can be a great option for a strong scent that isn’t limited to the kitchen stovetop. These diffusers use electricity to warm the oils or scent pads inside, thus spreading fragrance throughout your home. Some versions don’t allow you much control over the strength of the scent, and you can’t easily “turn off” the smell from many varieties since the aroma continues to waft out of the openings, so choose wisely.

Photo: aldomurillo via gettyimages.com

Soy Candles

Candles are perhaps the most traditional way to spread fragrance throughout your house. A great choice for smaller areas and those who want the ambiance that a cozy flame adds, it’s easy to find a candle that’s just the right scent for your family. Because it’s burning the fragrance and wick, make sure to purchase soy candles made with non-toxic ingredients – some “fragrances” in household goods like candles can be harmful when inhaled over a long period. You can also practice some basic candle maintenance to ensure that you get the most out of each jar. Trim your wick to ¼ inch before each burn and allow the wax to form a full melt pool on the top each time you burn (that will avoid those frustrating craters that sometimes form in the middle of a beloved candle). Just make sure to keep candles away from little hands and paws.

Reed Diffusers

Looking for something low maintenance and minimalist? Try a reed diffuser. By putting essential oils in a glass jar and then placing reed sticks in the liquid, the oil infuses the reeds and disperses into your home over time. Most reed diffusers offer about two months of scent potency before you’ll need to refill the bottle. Flipping the reeds over every few days will also help the fragrance stay strong throughout the room. While not ideal for large spaces, reed diffusers offer a flame- and outlet-free way to infuse your home with comforting fragrance – the glass jars are also easy to match with your décor in any room, and finding the perfect vessel can sometimes be half the fun.

Add the coziness of a comforting winter aroma to your home today!

Categories
Home Sweet Home

Countdown to Cozy with These 20 Winter Accessories

Don’t let the longer, colder days of winter get you down! These 20 items will help make the days warmer and brighter even when the weather keeps you inside. From warm slippers and matching pyjamas for everyone, including the dog, to heated blankets and house decor that instantly warms the heart, wintertime at home can be cozy and fun.

Winter Accessories to Warm You Up 

Wearable sherpa blankets will keep you warm whether you are working on your computer, watching TV, or playing video games. Pockets are must-haves for keeping necessities close at hand. Take it outside to the firepit or cheer on your favourite players at an outdoor game. 

Warm slippers are a necessity for cold days. Surround your feet in warmth with plush fleece slippers. Look for solid rubber soles for indoor and outdoor traction and memory foam inners to help retain shape with wear. Machine washable fabrics make slippers easy-care.

Sheepskin insoles make any shoes or slippers warmer. Look for arch support, and you’ll be walking on air all winter long.

Foot massagers provide more than just warmth for your feet. Look for multiple levels of vibration and heat. 

Matching pyjamas are excellent choices for everyone! Plaids, stripes, and holiday themes with feet and hoods for all ages make everyone smile. Look for bow ties and bandanas for your dog. Then, break out the board games!

Warm Home Touches 

Heated blankets top the list of affordable warmth. Want to snuggle with everyone in the family? Go for an oversized blanket. Look for machine-washable blankets with auto-off features and temperature and dual controls if you like your side of the bed warmer or cooler than the person you are sharing it with.

Colourful pillows add a splash to the sometimes drab winter season. Mongolian fur, sheepskin, and fake fur bring cozy warmth to your furniture. Look for oversized pillows and floor cushions for lounging around watching a favourite holiday movie. Trade out your usual ones for pillows with holiday or winter themes. 

Area rugs are essential in the winter if your home has hardwood floors, adding warmth and texture. Consider a second rug to layer over an existing rug for cushioning underfoot. No one likes to hop out of bed onto a cold floor, so add a plush area rug next to your bed. 

Throw blankets are perfect for reading chairs. Blankets in 100% wool or cotton with a bit of heft are great for snuggling. It’s all about layers! 

Flannel or fleece sheets provide a cozier, warmer bed for the winter season. Look for soft, lightweight sets. Your bed will be so comfy, you won’t want to get out!

A ceramic space heater with an adjustable thermostat ensures you stay both warm and safe. Look for high and low heat settings as well as fan-only and tip-over protection.  

Photo: FreshSplash via gettyimages.com

Best Winter Kitchen Accessories

An instant pot is one of the nicest things you can do for your family. Fast and easy recipes abound this season to ensure a hot delicious meal is ready at the end of the day. Be sure it has a removable dishwasher-safe insert and lid for super-fast cleanup. 

A hot drink station set-up is a simple addition that feels fancy. Equip it with several different coffees and teas, creamers, and flavours. Include the kids with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and peppermint candy cane stirrers.

Upgraded mugs can make your hot drink station super fun and help keep your to-go drinks hot! Modern, retro, traditional, eclectic, rustic, or glam, there’s one for everyone. Look for double-wall vacuum insulation to keep your hot beverage hot, or try a mug warmer to keep your drink hot. If you are on the go, a thermos mug might be your ticket to warmth!

New cookbooks from your favourite chefs can inspire creativity and new well-loved creations.  Snowed-in weekends call for delicious warm meals and snacks. Hunker down and bake, bake, bake. 

Don’t Forget the Bathroom Accessories!

Candles and essential oils will turn your bathroom into your own personal spa. Draw a hot bath, light those candles and get ready to relax.

Portable speakers bring calming music to your newly upgraded spa bathroom. Look for one that is waterproof and has a decent range. 

A cozy robe is a must when you get out of your luxurious bath. Fleece, plush, or flannel are the best materials for keeping warm in the winter. 

Winter Lighting Accessories

Nightlights for the bathroom or hallway become essential as daylight gets shorter. Choose one with low wattage to keep on all day for warm lighting or with motion detection to instantly light up dark spaces. 

Twinkling lights are not just for the holidays. Place white lights around the mantle, along your staircase, or in your bedroom all winter long. Battery operated and auto on-and-off are essential features.

These winter accessory ideas will keep you toasty from the inside out and add a warming ambiance to all your living spaces!

Categories
Home Sweet Home

DIY Home Improvement Projects for Winter Weather

Take advantage of stay-at-home winter days to make improvements around your house. Even if you have never been a Do-It-Yourself-er, these projects are excellent for beginners and offer snazzy new looks for nearly every room in your home. Make something old new again, spruce up your walls, or get crafty to keep the heat inside. 

Spruce up Your Walls

Install floating shelves for your bathroom—or just about any room in your home—for an unexpectedly low cost. These shelves are both functional and decorative. In addition to the wood, you need a nail gun and nails, wood glue, screws, a drill, and stain in the colour of your choice. And even though they are fun to make, the real excitement comes when accessorizing the shelves. Clocks, candles, hand towels, fancy soaps on a dish, and a green plant will add organization and a pop of colour to your bathroom. Your head will spin thinking of all the places these shelves could go!

Removable wallpaper may be just the upgrade your room needs! And with so many colour and pattern options and the ease of installation, you can change the ambiance of any room without the fear of long-term commitment. From bold or understated florals to big buffalo plaid to popular Shiplap, your room can become the oasis of your dreams. Some wallpapers have helpful guidelines on the back for quick, easy alignment, and other brands come in various sizes to fit any wall without lots of cutting. They’re easy to reposition with no messy paste or glue and no residue left behind. You can truly have beauty and fun without commitment and a custom look in a jiffy.

First impressions count. Make your guests feel warm and welcome with this inviting entryway organizer. This beginner-level project requires common board, ceiling hooks, wall hooks, wood stain in your choice of colour, screws and nails, and a sanding block. It’s very straightforward and takes less than an hour to assemble. Plus, it is an excellent catch-all storage for your keys, wallet, purse, and other important items you want to be able to find quickly as you head out the door. 

Photo: PhotoAttractive via gettyimages.com

Get Crafty

Get ready to bring the outside inside. This step-by-step guide to painting terra cotta pots will make your live green or flowering plants look beautiful in any room, both now and in the springtime. Required supplies are minimal. All you need is a paintbrush or foam brush, craft paints, and pots. Using painter’s tape or rubber bands as guidelines ensures your stripes are perfectly aligned. These DIY pots can be more affordable than a store purchase. Make several in a pallet of seasonal colours.

There are endless opportunities for a spruced-up dinner table. From holidays and birthdays to a quiet dinner at home to snowfall, there are plenty of chances to show off your creativity. These reversible placemats are embellished with fun tassels and are easy for even the novice to make. Tassels are made out of yarn and hand-stitched to the finished placemat. Choose a seasonal fabric or your favourite two colours, or make a set now for your springtime parties. 

Make the Old New Again

If you have an old, solid piece of furniture like a dresser or chair, now is the perfect time to refurbish it with a coat of paint. Chalk paint gives a soft vintage look and adheres to most finishes. A wax finish completes the look. Consider updating the hardware for a completely new look to your dresser. Go from drab to fab!

Lamps are another item in your home that may need an upgrade! Or find one at a local thrift store that has the shape you are looking for but needs a little love. This DIY Ceramic Lamp Makeover walks you through the steps of prepping and painting your lamp, so it matches your home’s style and looks fabulous! 

Keep the Heat In

You may be surprised to learn how much heat escapes your home through windows, doors, and cracks. Get out the caulk and fill the spaces. Or, make some easy draft dodgers using fabric and fiberfill. Cut lengths of material to match the door bottom or window ledge, then sew all around and fill. 

Installing a programmable thermostat may save you hundreds of dollars. An experienced DIYer can install most programmable thermostats and some smart thermostats. Customize your home’s indoor temperature to meet your heating and cooling needs. 

Whether your winter DIY projects are just for show or practical solutions to your winter issues, we are fully confident you will have success and fun while doing it!

Categories
Home Sweet Home

Decorate for Winter with These 7 DIY Crafts

When the holidays end and the decorations go back into storage, the house can feel quite empty! Fortunately, many fun and easy winter décor ideas make for simple DIY projects that the whole family can enjoy. 

From rustic wooden centrepieces to soft sweater upcycle ideas, these seven projects will transition your home from cold to cozy in no time.

Macrame Snowflakes

A cozy decorating option during any season, macrame creations are especially welcoming in the winter months. If you’re new to macrame, try this beginner’s tutorial here and stock up on the necessary supplies. Once you have a general idea of the process, follow this guide to make a lovely macrame snowflake. You can vary the size and colour of these creations and display several in your living room or entryway! Macrame is sturdy, so you can easily store these snowflakes with your other holiday décor when the season is over and pull them out again next year.

Mason Jar Snow Globes

Mason jars are popular these days—from canning to home décor, it seems everyone is using them! You can find jars at most grocery and craft stores or simply recycle any you’ve received from friends and family during the holidays. A winter snow globe is a great way to add a bit of whimsy to your side tables, and you can easily repurpose any small holiday decorations (such as trees from a Christmas village) to use in these creations. Here’s an easy tutorial for making a snow globe that uses clear Elmer’s glue—the added viscosity means the glitter will float down more slowly, adding to the beauty and fun! You can add a personalized touch by displaying a photo inside the snow globe instead of small decorations. Choose a wintery photo memory for an added seasonal touch!

Sweater Pillows

Adding texture to your living space is one of the best ways to make the inside feel warm even when the outside is freezing. Instead of purchasing new pillows or throws, you can upcycle an old sweater (or thrift store find!) and turn it into a pillowcase. There are several easy-to-follow tutorials here (using sewing machines or just stitching by hand), so find a sweater that matches your wintery colour scheme and get to work!

Photo: FreshSplash via gettyimages.com

Frosted Bottles

Create various tablescapes and mantle decorations using frosted bottles as the base; the glass will resemble snow and can hold twigs, evergreen branches, or even taper candles. If you cluster several bottles of different shapes and sizes together, you’ll create a layered look that helps add depth and dimension to your space. This tutorial uses wine bottles as a starting point, so don’t be afraid to use any colour of glass for your display—a primer spray will cover anything! Epsom salt is an inexpensive and easy way to get that textured snow look on the outside, but you could use white glitter or even confetti for a different finish.

Log Candle Holder

After your holiday centrepieces and candle holders are packed away, replace them with a rustic DIY log candle holder. Almost any log will work, but something with a flat side or end is best for display, and birch is a lovely wood that’s easy to sand and cut. You can create a long piece for holding tea lights or try something smaller that could hold a single candle in the middle of additional wintery items for a nice centrepiece. Spraying the logs with paint or glitter can add an extra touch of sparkle!

Snowflake Garland

Garlands are an easy way to make a big statement in your living space. For a wintry feel, make a garland of snowflakes to hang from the mantle or around window frames. You can create snowflake shapes and colours using craft sticks or purchase snowflake ornaments/foam shapes to string with miniature twinkle lights for an illuminated look. Be creative in your space and hang your garland vertically instead of horizontally if you need a focal point in a bare corner.

Snowflake Coasters

Sometimes you want more subtle décor in a space, so adding small pops of interest around the room is a great way to decorate without going overboard. These snowflake coasters are not only decorative but useful as well! You could easily incorporate a different design—pine trees, mittens, hot cocoa—the choices are endless!

If you’re looking for some winter DIY décor inspiration, start with one of these projects today!

Categories
Women's Health

4 Tips for Staying Healthy this Winter

Most of us are venturing out of our homes more often this winter, with schools and offices reopening. This means it’s important to do everything we can to stay healthy for an enjoyable season. Here are some tips to remember:

1. Eat a balanced diet.
What we put in our body fuels us and helps protect us. Even though the holidays and hibernating on the couch during weekends can tempt us to reach for processed snacks, balance out indulgences with more nutritious foods. Fresh fruits and veggies are available throughout the season, so be sure to take advantage of them, and remember to include whole grains and lean proteins.

2. Get enough exercise.
Moving our bodies is great for boosting immunity and mood. Whether you prefer the gym or walking around the block, the key is to have regular physical activity. If you’re just starting out or don’t know what to do in the cold, try something new like snowshoeing or ice skating. Try partnering up with a friend or family member to get some quality time together and maintain motivation.

3. Visit your doctor.
Many of us have neglected regular checkups and doctor’s visits during the pandemic. But staying on top of these can make sure you’re healthy and able to fight off colds and viruses. Check that your vaccines are up to date, that any bloodwork required is being done and that you have a time booked for your physical. Don’t forget to make appointments with specialists, like your therapist or dermatologist.

4. Drink fresher water.
Canadian private and public drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality. Whether it’s supplied by a municipal system or a private water well, water can carry contaminants that are harmful or cause the water to taste off. Use a DIY at-home test kit from My Water Quality to make sure your water is pure. Simply follow the instructions and use the courier service that is included with the testing kit to ship your sample to an accredited laboratory. An easy-to-read report card will arrive within five to 20 days and provide you with all the results.

Find more information at mywaterquality.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Categories
Active Aging

Don’t Give Up On Your Fitness Goals in the Winter With These Tips

With freezing temperatures, snow, and the business of the holiday season, staying active during the winter months can be a challenge for even the most physically fit and motivated. However, colder weather is no reason to abandon your fitness journey or delay reaching your goals. Here are seven ways to stay on track with your goals during cooler weather.

Lace-Up Properly

Good shoes are a must for anyone for day-to-day use, but proper footwear is especially crucial if you’ll be walking or running through snow or ice. Look for waterproof shoes and thick socks to stay dry and warm on your next outdoor walk.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Not every day of the winter will be unbearably cold. Go outside when you can, and stay in the sunshine to warm up, whether you’re on a walk, playing a sport, or just enjoying nature. This can help reduce the stress that can come during the time of year when the weather can feel particularly gray and dull.

When in Doubt, Walk it Out

Walking is one of the most simplistic exercises you can do when it’s cold outside since it requires no equipment other than the few extra layers you’ll need to bundle up with before hitting the road. Throw on a knit cap and a light jacket that doesn’t restrict your movement for some extra warmth. Pay special attention to road conditions to avoid slipping on ice. Stick to paved sidewalks, and consider driving the route you intend to walk ahead of time to make sure the snow has been cleared.

Photo: South_agency via gettyimages.com

Don’t Skip the Stretch

Stretching before a workout is always a good idea, but in the colder weather, the added warmth that your muscles will gain from stretching is critical. Stretching will allow your muscles to loosen and be less stiff once you head outdoors. You’ll be glad you stretched ahead of time once you begin any exercise, such as walking, ice skating, or cycling.

Invest in the Gym Membership

If it’s simply too cold to reasonably and safely exercise outdoors, the winter months are a perfect time to join a local gym. Many gyms nationwide offer the first couple of weeks or even months free to new customers and allow you to cancel at any time, making a gym an affordable and safe option for when it’s just too cold to exercise outdoors. Depending on what kind of gym you join, you can take advantage of exercise options available such as lap swimming or indoor cycling that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do in the colder months.

Create your Own In-Home Gym

If you’re up for the challenge and have the space, you can create your own home setup that can incorporate some of your favourite workouts into your routine at home while also giving you the creative freedom to add fresh ideas to your space. Try adding a yoga mat or a dumbbell rack to give you plenty to work with as you temporarily shift your workouts to be primarily indoors.

Stay Hydrated

Though you may not feel as thirsty as during the hot summer months, drinking enough water is just as critical in the winter. Hydrate before, during, and after exercise. Carry an insulated water bottle if you want to drink warm water to stay extra toasty on a chilly day.

Everything Counts

Staying active during the winter months doesn’t need to mean strenuous workouts you’ll dread doing. Shovelling snow, running up and down the stairs, vacuuming or mopping the house, or even doing a DIY project in your home are all excellent ways to keep moving even if you don’t have a workout planned on a frigid day. Get creative and make it fun. The most important thing to remember is to keep moving!

Categories
Home Sweet Home

Finding a Snow Blower to Fit Your Situation and Budget

Let it snow. Let it snow. But, be prepared! Don’t wait until that first snow to shop for your snow blower. Depending on where you live, a snow blower can be a luxury or a necessity. Deciding if you need one is your first decision. Plus, choosing which one to purchase can be daunting. 

To help you decide, we’ve provided some questions to ask yourself and information about which key features to research before shopping for the best models available at your local or online retailers.

Do You Need a Snow Blower?

Start by asking yourself the questions suggested by Consumer Reports Buying Guide:

  • How much snow do you get in the average winter?
  • How big is the area you need to clear around your house? 
  • Is your garage attached to your house? Or do you have an additional driveway area to clear to get to your car?
  • How long is your driveway? Is it flat or sloped?
  • How many sidewalks do you have on your property? 
  • Do you have public sidewalks that require clearing within a specific number of days after a storm?
  • Do you get three or more major storms every year? If you rarely get a big winter storm, is it more cost-effective for you to hire a plow truck instead of investing in a snow blower? 
  • Can you wait for a hired hand to dig you out or do you have a schedule that requires you to be on the road fast?
  • Do you enjoy being outside in cold weather?
  • Will a good snow shovel be sufficient?

The Answer Is, ‘Yes!’ So, How Do You Choose?

There are multiple vital features to consider when making your purchase: Size, plus the following features, dictate price, ranging from $200 to over $3,000.

Augers

All snow blowers have an auger that throws the snow from the ground through a chute. Single-stage snow blowers have just an auger and are best for light to medium snow up to 9 inches. Two-stage snow blowers have both an auger and an impeller that works like a fan to force snow through the chute. Three-stage snow blowers have an auger, an impeller, and an accelerator that helps force collected snow to the auger. These are the fastest and recommended for 18 inches or more of wet snow.

Base your choice between single, two-stage, or three-stage blowers on how much your average snowfall will be, the typical weight of the snow, and how much area you need to clear.

Photo: Willowpix via gettyimages.com

Power

There are gasoline-powered blowers, electric blowers, and battery-powered blowers. Consider the power cord length if you choose an electric blower; most are under 100 feet long. Gas-powered snow blowers perform the best, and Consumer Reports recommends them for medium snow up to 16 inches. Battery-powered blowers are quieter and better for the environment; however, make sure you do your research to find one that works well. 

Power Steering

Power steering makes easy work out of turning around. Some models have one-hand power steering. Will you need to change directions frequently? Power steering versus a manual crank that comes on lower-priced models is a back-saver and time-saver. 

High-End Features

High-end snow blowers are equipped with push-button power steering, heated handgrips, airless tires that never go flat, and push-button or pistol-grip joystick chute rotation.

Other Features to Consider

  • Wheels or Tracks?: Most snow blowers have wheels, usually powered on two and three-stage blowers. Tracks are better for steep driveways. 
  • Chute Construction: Plastic or steel? Plastic works better and lasts longer without cracking, chipping, denting, or rusting.
  • Headlights: Are you working at night or early morning? Headlights are a must-have feature.
  • Safety: An important safety feature is the “deadman’s switch” that stops the auger from spinning if you let go of the handle.

Winter weather is just around the corner. If you have determined that a snow blower would be a helpful tool to add to your collection, shop now and be ready to don your snowsuit later!

Categories
Women's Health

Keep Working Out In the Winter With These 6 Tips

Fitness is a year-round journey, but one that can be made more challenging by colder weather. While it may be tempting to put off your exercise habits until it starts to warm up outside, abandoning your fitness routine (even temporarily) can make it nearly impossible to get back to where you want to be physically when you do decide to resume. 

Below are some tips to safely keep up your exercise habits in winter weather so you can stay on track.

Bundle Up

If you’re used to running or jogging outdoors, don’t let the colder weather stop you from this cardio exercise that’s great for your whole body. Wear leggings or loose jogging pants (your body will gradually heat up as you run despite the cold) and thicker socks than you’d typically use while out on a run. A light jacket is also a must, as it will keep you warm without restricting your body from moving. A warm hat or earmuffs are a good idea, too. On an especially chilly morning, a pair of gloves will keep your hands warm so you can run or jog in the most comfortable way possible.

Brighten Your Wardrobe

In the winter months, not only is it colder outside, but darker too. Wear brightly coloured clothing and reflective gear to both stay warm and so drivers and pedestrians can spot you. When out at night, wearing a flashlight on your hat or at your waist is also an excellent idea for your visibility to prevent any potential slips and falls.

Take Care of Your Skin

Winter air can lead to dry and irritated skin. Make sure to apply lotion or moisturizer to your skin in addition to drinking plenty of water. Use petroleum jelly on sensitive areas of the skin such as your nostrils, the tip of your nose, and your ears for added protection. Additionally, it’s essential to remember that, even in the winter, harmful rays can reach and damage your skin. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before you go outside will ensure your skin stays healthy during the dry winter months.

Photo: svetikd via gettyimages.com

Check the Forecast

If you live in an area with a lot of snow or other wintery weather, it may be best to postpone your exercise until later in the day when the sun is out and the snow or ice has had a chance to melt. This will allow for better road conditions and ensure that you’re not exercising on wet or icy sidewalks or pavement. Use your best judgment, and stay indoors during winter weather advisories or when road conditions make exercising outdoors (or driving to the gym) unsafe.

Don’t Skip the Warmup

Warming up before your workout is always a good idea, regardless of the weather. However, it’s even more important to get a good warmup before exercising in colder weather to increase your muscles’ blood flow and temperature. Modify your warmup to benefit what you plan on doing that day, whether that’s lunges and squats before running or simply stretching.

Watch Your Breathing

Breathing can feel particularly difficult while out exercising in the cold. That’s because the human body reacts to warmer, dry air much differently than the cold. In lower temperatures, airway passages tend to narrow, which makes inhalation more challenging for your lungs. While working out outdoors, try to consciously breathe in through your nose. Wrap a scarf or a light neck wrap to keep the air your breathing in moister.

Though working out in the cold is no easy feat and provides added challenges, it’s also no reason to postpone or give up on your fitness journey. Take the proper precautions and pop on the right gear, and you’ll be set for whatever the winter months may throw at you.