Designs For Real Life: Cottage Kitchens VS. Farmhouse Kitchens

Dream of having a comfortable, relaxing kitchen that reminds you of your vacations away? Every morning can be as serene as a trip to the beach or in your childhood “happy place”. Creating a kitchen of solitude might just be the answer for a busy life but what fits better… Farm Style or Cottage style?
Cottage Kitchens often pull inspiration from the beach or the woods. No bold colors or textures just light colors and elements balanced in a fuss free simple way. Cabinetry can be painted in whites, light blues, soft greens or in rustic woods like hickory and maple. Light stone countertops without a lot of pattern is the best way to keep it complimentary and then add a farm sink with a country looking faucet. Exposed dining plates and shelves with knick knacks are a great way to make the space seem less enclosed and more relaxed. So what if company can see the dishes. It adds to the livability of the kitchen. Durable flooring in a warm grey plank is a good choice, then you can add a woven rug in front of the sink for style and comfort. The mission is to create a kitchen that most would feel like they are on “vacation time” every day.
Farm Style Kitchens are similar but, I believe they have a different feel. To me, a farm style kitchen should feel like you have gone back in time to your grandmother kitchen. Bolder colors, taller cabinets, glass doors to show off your china, are all parts you can implement in a 2018 farm style kitchen. To obtain a true farmstyle kitchen think about your cabinet construction. Most cabinets today are called frameless which means you don’t see hinges or a frame around the doors. If you want a true farm style cabinet from years ago think about inset construction. This is where the door is flush inside a frame and you can have visible decorative hinges. Farm Style sinks are also popular with a rustic looking stone countertop such as soapstone, which looks only better with age. On your floor a decorative bold pattern tile works. Add plants and elements of nostalgia such as vintage signs or pictures. Balance of farm style could be a creamy white kitchen with black iron hardware or greens, blues, greys, yellows. You can go with fun colors that tug at the memories. If you loved your grandma’s periwinkle kitchen, then farmstyle makes it easy to recreate that.

Unfiltered: Easy Breezy Summer Sippin’

Here come the dog days of summer, and I say bring it on! As the weather gets hotter, most people prefer lighter, more refreshing beverages. So, this month I would take the opportunity to talk to you about some of my favourite tried and true summer ‘Go-To’ drinks.
There are a few things to consider when deciding what to drink in hotter weather. Firstly, we want something light, and refreshing. Secondly, we want something lower in alcohol, especially when starting a little earlier in the day sitting around the pool or patio. Thirdly, we like to keep it simple, who wants to spend all of their free time mixing overly complicated drinks? and lastly, it is all about the presentation. It needs to look pretty in the glass! Whether it be a slice of fruit or a few handpicked herbs from your herb garden, the perfect garnish is easy to come by this time of year.
When I make a refreshing cocktail for my guests I always make them from scratch. The art of mixing drinks, now known as ‘Mixology” is so much easier than it looks and tastes 100% better than those ready-to-drink, overpriced, too-sweet, concoctions available at your local liquor store. Here are a few of my personal favs to try this time of year.
Wheat Beer: these are going to be very light and fruity with aromas of banana and other tropical fruit.  Pour them in a tall glass and garnish with an orange slice or handful of berries. Try St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale, or if you prefer something local. Try Picaroons Dooryard wheat ale.
Radler: Simply put a radler is beer and fruit juice mixed together. They are also very pretty in a glass and garnished. They are typically 4% alcohol or less, and super refreshing! My fav is the Pumphouse Crafty Radler.
Sangria: super easy to make!  A sangria is any wine (white or red) plus fruit juice or ginger ale/sprite and any variety of fresh cut fruit. Mixed together and served in a wine glass with fruit. Most recipes are going to call for the addition of a spirit, which I always omit in an effort to keep the ABV low.
Last but not least, try putting a spin on your favourite old school cocktail. I am a sucker for a Cucumber Mojito, garnished with fresh sliced of cukes, or how about a Watermelon Margarita, or a Banana Daiquiri?
Remember to drink responsibly, and always have a few glasses of water to stay hydrated. Have a safe and amazing Summer.

Investing In Your Future: Worthwhile Renos Start Here

There are a lot of reasons for renovating a home. If you’re among the many Canadians intent on tackling a home reno project this year, here are some important tips.
  Plan it. Whether your goal is to create more usable space, make your home more energy efficient, or to enhance its value, figure out what renovations you want to do and why. A contractor can help minimize mistakes and an interior designer can help you create an appropriate design proposal.
  Budget it. Once you know what you want to do, create a realistic and affordable budget. It’s not unusual for extra expenses to crop up, so set aside a contingency fund of at least 10% of your budget.
  Fund it. Know your financing options. You could access a secured or unsecured line of credit, refinance a mortgage or a personal loan – but the best financing option of all is to set up a savings plan and/or use money you have already saved specifically for your reno.
Sweat equity is a great way to save money – but only if you are confident you can do the work yourself. Also look into government support for such projects as improving the energy efficiency of your home. Local utilities may also offer grants or rebates.
  Research it. If you’re using a contractor, choose carefully. Get recommendations from friends, co-workers or relatives, be sure to get multiple quotes and a reasonable price, always ask for references and always check them out. Check to see if you need building permits for your renovations. If you live in a condo, check with your building’s management for any approvals you may need.
If you’re renovating to increase the value of your home, keep in mind that some improvements offer better returns than others. In any case, how much you spend should depend on where you live as well as how long you plan to live there. For example, the value of an over-the-top reno in a lower-cost neighbourhood may not be recognized by potential homebuyers. On the other hand, a reno that improves energy efficiency may not only lower your operating costs and pay back your investment over time, it can also be a selling feature. A real estate agent can help you determine the renos that will get the best return on your investment.
And before you start, to be sure you’ll have the money you need for your reno – and for all your other life goals – talk to your professional advisor.

The Crayon Box: Making Waves

Two Liberal candidates responded to my interview request: Stephanie Tomilson (Rothesay) and Brigitte Noel (Gagetown-Petitcodiac). While the Liberal Party currently holds a majority, these two seats are held by members of the PC Party, something these candidates are looking to change. Ms. Noel became a politician simply because she wanted things to change in her area, and decided to take some advice her grandfather had once given her, “If you want to change something, stand up and go for it”. Ms. Tomilson has been involved in her community from a young age, so for her, politics was a natural next step.
Ms. Tomilson is a high school principal and so had some things to say about the education system. She believes one of the jobs of the education system is to prepare students to succeed in whatever path they choose, whether that be university, apprenticeship, going straight to work, or something else. She agrees that the education system needs to be improved, but says that she feels progress is being made. Ms. Noel thinks the free tuition plan for post-secondary is a “fantastic initiative” and wants to see more money spent on the education system and the healthcare system. Ms. Tomilson’s parents own a special care home, which she believes has given her a better idea of the system. She says that there are many preventative and early intervention steps that could be taken and that the government needs to communicate more with professionals to move forward.
Crayon time: Ms. Noel is our second black crayon, saying that in the same way that black is what we see when all colours are absorbed, humanity has more strength when we work as one. Ms. Tomilson said that she would be any colour as long as she was a Crayola Twistable®, which came in plastic tubes that you twisted to “sharpen”.
Ms. Noel stressed the importance to get out and vote. Ms. Tomilson gave a similar message, saying that, “If you think your vote doesn’t matter, and you don’t vote, then you make it so. Decisions are made by those who show up.” She says always tells students not to be afraid of the word ‘no.’
When discussing the topic of the perception that politicians will go back on their word, Ms. Noel said people should pay attention to what politicians are actually doing, and not what they say they’re going to do. Being a politician hasn’t made her any less true to herself and she’s committed to listening and taking action. Ms. Tomilson believes that people who run for public office are running with the best of intentions. She claims that politicians are, at the end of the day, just trying their best to do what they’ve said they’ll do. She says that politics are about people and if someone is in it for another reason than that, they’ll lose their way. Ms. Tomilson says that being a politician has helped her realize just how many good people there are in her community and it also thickened her skin. She finished off her interview with a fairly memorable quote that inspired the title: “I’m not here to tread water. I’m here to make waves.”

Family Matters: Managing Health Appointment Fears

To an adult, going to see a doctor or dentist is a routine part of life and our self-care, but for a child, especially one who has never been, a doctor or dentist can be scary. Regular teeth cleanings, physician check-ups, vaccinations, or emergency procedures are a reality for families however children can be fearful, and anxious about getting examinations for lots of different reasons.
Some of our kiddos may: lack exposure to dentist or doctors’ offices; have painful experiences; struggle with listening or behaviors when stressed, and/or; be on the autism spectrum. Here are some solutions to help manage your children’s fears and worries that work to build positive experiences and that will promote future self-care.
Role Play. Pretending to be a nurse, doctor, dentist or physiotherapist using stuffed animals or role playing can ease the minds of children who do not know what to expect from their medical visits.
Read About It. Find a good children’s book about visiting the dentist, doctor or nurse. Many books introduce the tools and equipment used at the appointments. Seeing an animated dentist wearing a mask will likely make it less scary for your children when they see it in real life.
Visit. Give your local public health nurse or dentist a call and see if they will give you and your children a tour of their office. This can set a positive tone for any upcoming visits as your kids will be familiar the environment and the people.
Set Up Steps. Create a visual outlining the steps associated with the visit, such as, go to reception, walk into the room, greet the doctor. Have your kids color the sequence to make it more fun for them. It may also be helpful to include an after-the-doctor treat as part of the visual!
Start Early and Role Model. There are many ways to be a good role model for your children.  One way is to take your kiddos with you to the appointment. For example, take them to a general routine teeth cleaning. Let them watch the entire process, to assure that it will be okay and talk with your kids about what the dentist is doing.
It is important for your kiddos to think of medical professionals in a healthy light. With self-care in mind this week, enjoy the parenting journey.

Life Balance: Being Nice VS. Kind

In today’s column, I will discuss how being a people-pleaser can have detrimental effects to your well-being, and how to find a proper balance between being too nice and still demonstrating self-respect. According to reputable author and psychiatrist Dr. Sirota, being too nice is defined as a pattern of behaviour where you constantly put others first, and where you feel like you can’t say no to others’ requests. If you are too nice, you generally feel the need to help, rescue or care for those around you, whether in your personal or professional life.
In hopes of avoiding rejection or receiving negative feedback, the compulsive people-pleaser will choose to agree instead of assert themselves. They will, in other words, sacrifice their wants in exchange for validation. This same person may appease those around them in hopes of avoiding conflict or confrontation. The fear of losing the approval of others, and therefore threatening their self-esteem, is all-consuming.
These people-pleasing behaviours are often recognized by colleagues, friends and family, and may unfortunately lead them to take advantage of this nice person. This may lead the nice person to feel frustrated and unsatisfied by their daily interactions, which may inadvertently create feelings of increased stress, exhaustion and resentment towards those around them.
In hopes of finding a better balance, one which prioritizes your well-being, Dr. Sirota suggests that you be kind instead of nice. This entails behaving in a way that demonstrates love and appreciation for those around you, all the while maintaining a sense of self-confidence and self-respect. In other words, you carry yourself in a way that shows that you care, without neglecting your own needs and feelings.
What does this look like exactly? It requires you to set up boundaries, to stand up for what you believe in and advocate for yourself, and to walk away from those who intentionally hurt you. Being kind helps foster overall feelings of success, mutual respect and boosts mood and morale.

Food For Thought: Mix Up Your Salads

Salads are the perfect summer meal solution. They are delicious, easy to make and won’t heat your up kitchen when temperatures soar. Stock your kitchen with a variety of salad ingredients so you can toss one together in no time.
Most salads begin with greens. Add variety to your salad by using different leafy greens, such as spinach, baby kale, romaine lettuce or spring mix. Top your salad with a mix of veggies to keep it interesting. Broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, bell peppers and sugar snap peas all make tasty additions to salads. You don’t have to limit your salads to only veggies. Adding fruit to your salad is a great way to add new flavours! Try apple, orange or grapefruit pieces, chunks of melon or pineapple, or fresh berries. Save time by using ready-to-eat greens and pre-cut veggies and fruit.
Make your salad into a full meal. Add protein to help keep you feeling full. Try topping your salad with cooked chicken, pork, beef, salmon or canned tuna. Add a sprinkle of cheese such as mozzarella, feta or goat cheese. Looking for vegetarian options? Include nuts, seeds or canned beans such as kidney beans, black beans or chickpeas to add plant based protein. Add more fibre to your salad by including whole grains. Along with protein they can help make your salad more filling. Add cooked and cooled grains to your salad, such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, bulgur or quinoa.
Looking to add more flavour to your salad? Try mixing your salad greens with chopped fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint. If you are new to using herbs, start with small amounts until you discover which flavors you enjoy the most. Or finish your salad with a splash of salad dressing. Salad dressings (homemade or store bought) contain healthy fat, but calories can still add up quickly. Use just the amount you need to enjoy your salad.
Mix up your salad by experimenting with new flavour combinations! Try spring mix, fresh berries, slivered almonds and raspberry vinaigrette. Toss together cooked pasta, grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, baby spinach, feta cheese and Greek salad dressing. For a quick appetizer, try sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and bocconcini cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Or combine baby arugula, canned mandarin oranges, pecans and fresh mint leaves. Mix olive oil with some of the juice from the mandarin oranges for a tasty dressing.
Interested in learning more? Contact Caroline Black, caroline.black@sobeys.com or Mary Ann Peters Gallant, maryann.petersgallant@sobeys.com to learn more about nutrition classes at Sobeys.

Live Well: The Problem With Resentments

“Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don’t replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways.”  Mark Sichel, Psychology Today.
The word ‘resentment’ means to recall again afresh real or imagined slights or injuries, some of which are from childhood while are more recent. Resentments are a major stumbling block for good mental health because we keep reliving the offending experience repeatedly, providing free headspace to those who have hurt us. They get up each morning, brush their teeth and comb their hair oblivious to our pain because they have moved on, while we continue to suffer. It is important to remember that just as love is a strong bond between people, so too are resentments. Resentments are heavy; they prevent us from moving on and having our best life.
There are two key ingredients to ridding ourselves of resentment and escaping the never-ending cycle of hurt and anger. The first key is forgiveness; now many people think that forgiveness means we are letting offenders off the hook, that it implies it was okay what was done to us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person; rather, it is a gift we give ourselves when we decide to stop being mental and emotional prisoners. It is understanding intellectually why it is in our best interest to let go of the past, realizing that that bell has been rung and cannot be unrung. Forgiveness is not something we will do once, but over and over again each time the memory comes to us. Some people have found it helpful putting an elastic band on their wrist and giving it a ping each time they start to think about that person or event as a reminder that hanging on to that memory is only hurting them.
The second key ingredient is gratitude. I encourage clients to keep a gratitude journal and begin writing down all the things in their lives for which they are grateful. It isn’t only about the big things in our lives, it can be as simple as having a bed to sleep in, food in the cupboard, the function of our legs, arms, eyes, and ears, that we live in a country where there are no bombs dropping on us or bullets whizzing overhead. I urge you to set yourself free of resentments so you can have the good life you deserve.

Exercise For Health: Stop Exercising

Stop exercising? Well my first question would be why? Some people get bored or think they will walk or they’re too old etc, excuses are just that excuses. Choosing to not do weight bearing exercises will result in you losing strength and stamina. Going for a good brisk walk is a wonderful form of exercising but it will not give the endless health benefits that good strong muscles will give you. Muscle work even when you are not, they support bones, balance and burn calories even when your body is at rest. Strong muscles can relieve pain and help your body perform daily activities with ease.
You will be surprised how quickly muscles can lose their strength, when you stop exercising your muscles will begin to weaken probably within two weeks. Muscles will realize that they will not be called upon so they will no longer store glycogen and will become smaller. Taking the summer off really has no benefits for your body, taking a few days off can recharge you taking a couple months off means you have to start all over again. Sometimes when you get out of the habit of doing something it is lost and the commitment you once had is gone. It takes twenty one days to make or break a habit.
Enjoy your summer and participate in the things that are only available to us during the few warm weeks that we have. I would recommend that you keep up with your weight training it only takes three days a week for one half hour to maintain what you have built up. Do you really want to start over again in the fall?
Put your own health high on the list of priorities that you’ve made for yourself. Physical activity is the best prescription and you get to write it yourself. Some studies have shown that yoyo exercising can cause you to gain weight and keep it on. The sudden exertion you use when working out strenuously for a short time causes your body to actually burn less calories, similar to starvation mode when you do not eat enough. Once you get to a place where you are happy with the results you have achieved it does not take a lot to maintain what you have. Keep the habit going challenge yourself once in a while Moderate exercising frequently is more successful in keeping a person healthy and the easiest way to maintain good numbers on the scales.

Tending To My Patch: Growing Vegetables In Containers

The simplest answer is; virtually any type of vegetable or herb should fair well in a container as long as it has enough room, proper drainage and nutrients. There are also ‘mini’ varieties of vegetables that have been specifically bred to do well in small spaces and look attractive.
They need a sunny space. An advantage with vegetables grown in containers is that you can move the containers around to follow the sun and seasons if necessary. Growing vegetables in containers allows easy access for the following reasons: easy access to the kitchen; handy or safer environments, especially for children; better protection from unwanted attention of various pests; easy for the less mobile and the handicapped.
An outdoor potted vegetable garden is usually extremely attractive and serves the dual purpose of style and function around your patio.
The following list of basic tips applies to most vegetables, and will help you and your plants get off to a good start. Sun – most vegetables need full sun – that means at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Water – growing vegetables need water – lots of it. Proper watering may be the single most important and hardest part of vegetable container gardening. Heat – if the container will be placed in a really hot zone you may have to shade your plants in the middle of the day in order not to fry them. Always make sure to harden off your plants before you put them outside. Growing Median/Soil – quality potting soil is really important for vegetables. Fertilizer – plants need food to thrive, and their food is fertilizer. If your soil doesn’t have fertilizer already mixed in, you’ll want to add fertilizer. Drainage – drainage is key to keep plants from drowning. You want your pot or container to let excess water out of the bottom, so your plants won’t sit in water or soggy soil. Containers – choosing a container can be daunting. You can use almost anything for a garden planter as long as it is big enough and has good drainage. Keep in mind though, that the larger your container, the easier it will be to maintain. The more soil a container can hold the more moisture it will retain. Bigger, really is better here. Seeds or Seedlings – you can start your veggies from seed or buy seedlings. There are some significant advantages and disadvantages to each. Starting your own seeds is much less expensive than buying seedlings, after some startup costs. If you start your own seeds you can grow hard to find varieties and can also grow your seedlings organically.