The phone rings and guests are dropping by in 10 minutes. Now what? Lynn Fraser, an Edmonton life and executive coach and owner of Balance Your World, reassures us that the goal is not a perfectly clean house — just a warm welcome for your friends.
After all, “your guests are coming to see you and the kids, and it doesn’t matter if your home isn’t perfect. A place that’s homey and comfortable is much more welcoming than a show home.”
Still, with a plan and some expert know-how, you can make a house presentable in almost no time (and keep your heart rate within normal range). Here’s how>
Linda Chu, the owner of Out of Chaos Professional Organizing Solutions in Vancouver, recommends focusing on the living or family room, kitchen and washroom. Don’t worry about bedrooms — your guests aren’t coming for a sleepover.
Pop the little kids’ favourite DVD into the player, suggests Chu, and give them a small no-mess snack so they’re occupied — this way, they won’t undo your work as you go (much). Meanwhile, you, your partner and big kids can zip around the house.
Give yourself three minutes for a sweep through the rooms. Grab a bin or basket or two and pick up everything that doesn’t belong: dirty laundry, excess shoes, toys, models of the Eiffel Tower. In the family room, stash books and mags into an ottoman or a drawer in your coffee table, if you have one. In the kitchen, the big kids can clear the counter and load the dishwasher. Don’t worry about sorting things nicely — that’s for another time.
Finish picking up in the bathroom and, while you’re there, take three minutes: Flush the toilet, close lid, close the shower curtain, wipe counters and replace towels. The key to a quick bathroom turnaround is a little prep, stresses Chu: Pack a set of clean coordinated towels and washcloths in a zippered bag (the kind comforters come in). Include kitchen and dining room linens, if you like. When company drops by, you won’t have to scrounge in the linen closet. After they leave, do the laundry and pack the set back up, ready for the next visitors.
On to the kitchen! You and your helpers have three minutes to wipe the table and counters, put out the garbage, clean under the table with something like a Swiffer WetJet (especially if your children are small and floors are sticky).
A minute left! Enough time, suggests Chu, to comb your hair. And take a big breath.
Read on for the more great last-minute cleaning tips>
What if you don’t have 10 minutes? What if friends just pop in? Try these quick tips:
• Grab a garbage bag and do a fast runaround, picking up what you can. Stash and sort later.
• Consider an alternative use of appliances, suggests Margaret Weeks, a home economist at the University of Prince Edward Island. Pop clothes and towels from the floor into the washer or dryer; your dishwasher will hide (er, hold) lots of dishes and pots.
• Put a fresh bar of soap in the bathroom — the room will smell nice even if you don’t have time to scrub.
• Focus on a welcoming atmosphere, says Fraser: Put on some music, turn on the kettle for coffee, clean off the table, put out a snack, clear a path to wherever you’re going to entertain your guests, and remove the clutter from the front entryway.
• Remind yourself that if people are dropping by on the spur of the moment, they must be very good friends who’ve seen you through thick and thin, says Weeks. Smile, open the door and welcome them in for a cup of coffee.
Streamline your tidying technique:
• Contain it To control clutter, you need storage — baskets, pretty boxes, plastic bins. Weeks also likes big tote bags and hampers for quick storage of toys, shoes and laundry. When not in use, stack and tuck them away.
• Give it a home If everything has a place, you can tidy in a hurry because you know where it goes.
• Hang it Install hooks or pegs at your entryway, suggests Chu. Guests can hang their coats on the hooks (rather than in closets you don’t want them to see).
• Multi-task with cleaning supplies Fraser mixes one-third vinegar to two-thirds water in a spray bottle for mirrors, counters, glass and fixtures.
• Teach your kids Keep clutter under control by picking up 10 things every day, says Weeks. Encourage your kids to learn the same habit (if you start right now, this will take approximately 24 years).
Looking for ways to get your kids to help you with chores? Check out this video:
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease in Canada. It occurs in about one in every 25 hundred births. But for CF Awareness month Dr. Harvey Rabin, the Director of the Adult CF Clinic at the Foothills Medical Centre, says CF patients are living longer and better than ever.
Every newborn in Alberta is now screened for CF as part of the neonatal screening program. Dr. Rabin says this early diagnosis helps to offset the damage the disease can cause. CF primarily affects the lungs and the digestive tract. When CF patients get sick with recurrent lung infections they produce a lot of mucous, they cough, they have shortness of breath and have a fever. It’s usually the cumulative damage to the lung function that causes death in these patients. But Dr. Rabin says both the lung problems and GI issues are more easily resolved than ever. The lung infections are treated with IV antibiotics either at home or in the hospital. The digestive problems are resolved with digestive enzymes taken with every meal and snack. In fact, Dr. Rabin says you wouldn’t know someone had CF unless you saw them when they were sick or noticed the numerous medications they take every day. Dr. Rabin also says people with CF are now living well into their 50s and 60s and with less disability.
New medications are a big help too. Dr. Rabin says a breakthrough medication that hit the market in Alberta a few years ago is making a huge difference in the lives of 5 percent of CF patients. This medication points to new medications on the horizon for the rest of the CF population.
Also a tremendous help to CF patients are the specialized CF clinics in major centres across the country. These clinics offer a multidisciplinary approach to treatment so patients meet with doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers and more.
These clinics are supported by CF Canada. And CF Canada is holding it’s annual Great Strides Walk for CF Canada on May 31st. In Calgary, it will be on Sunday at North Glenmore Park at noon. For more information about CF and the walk this weekend visit this website.
Fancy half-price hotels and attractions far from the maddening crowd? Savvy vacationers save a packet by taking advantage of shoulder season travel—that wee sweet spot between top-price high season and bone-chilling low season. But playing the shoulder game means finding destinations that combine lower airfares and accommodations plus pleasant weather and things to do. Choose wisely and you’ll wonder why it took so long to discover the easiest route to discount travel. Here’s our guide to the world’s greatest shoulder destinations.
Europe’s summer is a sweltering mess of jam-packed cities where air-con is a foreign concept. But golden days from late-September through October can be a breath of fresh air. Enjoy the balmy coastlines of Italy, Greece or Spain, or explore some capitals before the autumnal dark days arrive. Europe-bound flights drop to half their summer peak, and if you like driving tours in France or beyond, you’ll find the roads far less thronged.
Late-September is also a smart time for springtime South Africa’s safaris and winery regions. Or consider going tropical in Costa Rica. Around late November, the rainy season recedes and you can ogle the toucans just before the tour groups arrive.
Hot spots include…
Sardinia: Explore sandy coves and foodie-loving villages off Italy’s western coastline. Why now? The Autunno in Barbagia artisanal festival starts in September.
London: Crawl blockbuster museums on a self-guided culture tour. Why now? The Victoria and Albert Museum’s sumptuous Fabric of India exhibition starts October 3.
Cape Town: Weave the delightful Cape Winelands. Why now? Late-September’s Cape Town Fringe Festival.
» Top 10 cheapest U.S. cities to visit
Our southern neighbour is stuffed with tan-tastic winter destinations. But while Florida and Arizona welcome snowbirds, it’s shoulder time in Texas. California-wise, wait for February if you’re craving better-value hotel rates and airfares for San Diego or San Francisco. Both are mild until later. Also consider Hong Kong or Thailand just before the end of March—the start of the rainy season.
Hot spots include…
Austin: Feast on America’s tastiest food trucks. Why now? January’s Free Week Austin music festival.
San Diego: Explore museum-packed Balboa Park. Why now? February’s Winter Brew Fest.
Hong Kong: Dine in a world-class foodie city. Why now? Hong Kong Arts Festival starts late February.
» How much to tip around the world
This is Europe’s other—rainier—shoulder. Airfares rise dramatically after a few weeks, so book in April. Fancy a side-trip? Reykjavik isn’t too cold in May as it readies for summer’s visitor peak. It’s similar in Canada. May-to-mid-June is a chance to visit popular destinations like Victoria, the Rockies and Quebec City before the masses arrive: hotels are discounted and the weather is balmy.
Further afield, the post-cherry-blossom-pre-rainy season May window in Japan means Tokyo hotels are keen to bargain. You’ll find similar pre-rain deals in Malaysia and South Korea, and you can also cash in on summer’s end in Australia and New Zealand, with flight deals and sleepover discounts beginning to emerge.
Hot spots include…
Victoria: One of Canada’s earliest springs starts here. Why now? Whale-watching begins.
Napier: Time travel in New Zealand’s finest art deco city. Why now? Tour Hawke’s Bay wineries sans crowds.
Melbourne: Dive into Australia’s artsiest city. Why now? May’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
» The best luggage you’ll ever buy
Summer offers key ways to avoid credit-card immolation. Labour Day to late September is great for Canada trips. The islands of Aruba and Bonaire are outside the hurricane belt—yet their summer room rates are still the year’s lowest. Or, shimmy south. February’s carnival season is a crowd-puller, but coastal Brazil in July is a quiet zone. Check hotels vying for business in Rio—and expect warm weather with rain.
Hot spots include…
Jasper: September’s sun lights up the mountains. Why now? The VIA train from here to Prince Rupert is a late-summer gem.
Aruba: August is hot. Why now? Restaurant Week in late August.
Rio: Hit the beaches without the crowds. Why now? Late July’s giant Anima Mundi animation festival.
» The best time to book a flight
It’s tick season so we’re hearing a lot about Lyme disease. Celebrities are also happy to talk about how Lyme disease is affecting their lives. But the truth is, Lyme disease in Alberta is actually very rare.
I spoke with Acute Care Physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj who says in Alberta the chances of contracting Lyme are about one in ten thousand. He explains of all 1376 ticks submitted last year for testing, only 9 were carrying the bacteria that causes the disease.
That said, this is a disease that’s preventable so why not learn more about it. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria found in a specific kind of tick called the adult black-legged tick. To get Lyme, Dr. Bhardwaj says an infected tick bites a human and transmits the bacteria. But this transmission can take several hours even longer, which is why it’s useful to look for ticks on your body after a hike, or a camping trip. Ticks like to hide out in the crevices of our bodies…the armpits, the hairline, behind the ears and the groin. If in fact you find a tick, don’t panic, simply remove the tick with a pair of tweezers approaching the tick from the side, pulling straight back so as not to leave the head behind.
It’s also useful to try and prevent the tick from getting on you in the first place. Use bug spray with DEET, wear long sleeves and a hat and tuck your pants into your socks to prevent the tick from crawling up your leg.
But if you do find a tick on your body, bring it in with you when you go get checked out. You should get checked if you start to feel flu-like symptoms…. a mild fever, aches and pains and fatigue and if you have a rash that resembles a target. However, these symptoms may not show up for days, weeks or even a month or so later. And not all people infected get a rash.
Dr. Bhardwaj says this is often why Lyme is difficult to diagnose. People don’t often associate their symptoms with the hike they did weeks ago. They also often don’t know they were bitten and don’t get this rash.
Futhermore, some people don’t even get this initial infection. They go right to stage two of the disease which causes nerve problems or joint pain. And these symptoms are often associated with more common conditions. That said, if these more common diseases have been ruled out, think about Lyme. Same goes for the Late Stage of Lyme disease. This stage can occur months to years after the initial infection. Not much is definitively understood about this late stage, but doctors will work to treat your symptoms.
Bottomline, if the infection is caught early, it will be treated in most cases very successfully with antibiotics. So be aware of Lyme disease and take the necessary precautions.
For more information visit this website.
Antioxidant-rich foods are easily found in the produce section of your local grocery store, and adding these brightly coloured foods to your diet is a secret weapon for banishing wrinkles and preventing chronic disease. Juicy red tomatoes, crisp orange carrots and more are rich in antioxidants, but it’s important to know which foods are best when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Nutritional therapist Gabriela Peacock reveals the top vitamins to include in your diet, and which foods are packed with them…
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are often packed with antioxidants
This vitamin helps the immune system, as well as the intestinal, respiratory and urinary tracts. For a boost of Vitamin A, include foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes and kale in your diet.
This helps protect your cells from damage, and improves the absorption of iron which is great for your energy levels. It also helps the immune system to work properly, and can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries and kiwis.
This vitamin supports the immune system so it can fight infections, prevent blood clots and protect your cells from free radicals. Make sure to get your fix by introducing wholegrains, broccoli, nuts and seeds into your healthy diet.
Antioxidants play a key role in keeping us healthy and banishing wrinkles
This essential mineral, when partnered with Vitamin E, provides oxidative protection and helps regulate thyroid function. Usually found in foods including fish and red meat, but if you’re vegetarian you can also get your quota by eating brazil nuts.
This naturally occurring ‘phytonutrient’ gives fruit and vegetables their red colour. Studies show Lycopene reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. The best lycopene foods include tomatoes, papaya and apricots.
This mineral is usually found in green, leafy vegetables. It can reduce the risk of chronic eye disease, lowers the risk of developing cataracts and protects healthy cells. Lutein can be found in kiwi, broccoli, kale and spinach.
If you’re going to do it, do it right. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your workout. A big thank you to Nicolas Clanet, personal trainer and kinesiologist at Nautilus Plus, and Sophie Rochon, in-store activities coordinator for MEC Quebec, for the great tips.
Switch up your activities
If you always do the same activity, you’re always using the same muscles. To avoid hitting a major plateau (or risking injury), try to switch up your activities on the regular. This way you can hit all the major fitness zones: cardio, strength training and flexibility. So ditch the running shoes and pick up a yoga mat now and then.
Work in intervals
By working out in intervals of high and low intensity, you can really push yourself at certain points, knowing you’ll have time to recuperate immediately afterwards. You’ll burn more energy for a longer period of time – even after your workout is done (bonus!).
Change the playing field
When you work out on an uneven surface (like an outdoor field), you automatically work more on balance. Psst! The fresh air’s not so bad either!
Finding a personal trainer, a kinesiologist or even a community that enjoys the same activity as you do will help you to develop a workout plan that’s tailored to your needs. Sharing info is the best way to learn how to achieve your goals pronto.
Keeping a fitness journal helps you track your progress. Take note of all the deets: how much weight you’re lifting, how far you’re running, how many calories you’re burning… Everything counts!
Click here for more tips
Spring has sprung and garden season is finally here, however, it isn’t always easy to know which pots, soils, or plants are right for you. Frank Ferragine came by with his best tips to make the start of gardening season a little easier.
Picking the right pot:
Although using multiple smaller pots may look more aesthetically pleasing, they may not always be the best choice for your plants. Using one larger pot for multiple plants can allow for better moisture retention due to the fact that there is a greater amount of soil in the pot to hold on to the water. Because the larger pots hold water for a longer period of time, they can be great for the busy gardener who may miss a day or two of watering. It’s also important to make sure to check the bottom of your pots for holes or a space for drainage. In order for plants to thrive, pots need to have a place where water can drain from the soil to ensure that your plants aren’t sitting in water.
Choosing the right soil:
The pot is just as important as the soil that goes in it! By buying soils that are specific to pots, you can ensure that your plants are getting the proper nutrients as well as the proper amount of space for water and root growth. Potting soil is great because it acts like a sponge to help hold in water. However, it’s important to check your plants soon after you water them. Due to this sponge-like texture, the first watering might let too much water drain to the bottom of the pot. Make sure to check back five minutes later and add more water to the soil if necessary.
Deciding on the right plants:
Certain plants thrive better depending on temperature and location. When buying plants, it is important to look at whether the plant is best in sun or shade, when they can be planted, and how long they will last. In some cases, plants may only be in bloom for a few weeks at a time, while others can last through the hot summer heat. Paying attention to all of these details when purchasing plants can make your gardening experience a lot easier by saving you both time and money.
Check out the video below for more tips from Frank:
There is always so much concern and controversy surrounding peanut allergy in children. And this reaction is for good reason. Peanut allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis and death from a food allergy.
And over the past 20 years the prevalence of peanut allergy has continued to climb. During this time the recommendation has been to avoid giving peanut to children until the age of 3, but the rates of peanut allergy did not come down. So researchers have been revisiting this issue.
And now a new study shows the opposite may work better at preventing peanut allergy. Allergist Dr. Joel Doctor says this study will change how doctors think about peanut allergy. The researchers took babies at high risk of developing peanut allergy, tested them for the allergy, and if they tested negative, slowly introduced peanut to them. And Dr. Doctor says what the researchers found was very dramatic. They found an 85 percent reduction in the development of peanut allergy in these children by the time they turned five.
So what do parents do now? Well, because this study is only a couple of months old, there are no new guidelines just yet. But doctors are working on them. In the meantime, Dr. Doctor recommends pregnant women who are at risk of having a baby with a peanut allergy… this means either they have the allergy, or a family member does, should talk to their doctor about getting their child screened for the allergy by about 6 to 8 months of age. If the baby tests negative, the family should start slowing introducing peanut under the watchful eye of a trained doctor. Dr. Doctor says for babies with no risk, so these are infants with no family history of food allergy or eczema, they can be introduced to peanut as they would any other food at home between the ages of 6 to 12 months. That said, Dr. Doctor says even with no risk kids, peanut should still be introduced carefully. That means giving a small amount on the side of a cracker, watching the child for a reaction for about 15 minutes, then introducing some more.
So if you’re pregnant, now is a good time to start talking to your doctor about introducing peanut to your child. And be warned your family doctor may not know yet about this latest study, but ask them to look it up.
Here’s the link.