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Easy appetizers, signature cocktails and tasty treats

l loca gift guide

+tips for healthier holidays





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Treat yourself to the confident glow of radiant, rejuvenated skin with Dr. Diane Wong, M.D. and her team.


+ Injectable Treatments + Laser Treatments + Medical Aesthetics + Registered Massage Therapy + Spa and Salon Services

C A L L O R V I S I T G L O W M E D I S PA . C A

YORKVILLE 129 Yorkville Ave, 4th Floor Toronto, ON M5R 1C4 416.920.9998 AURORA 15435 Yonge St. Aurora, ON L4G 1P3 905.726.9333 MARKHAM 8500 Warden Avenue (within the Hilton Suites Hotel) Markham, ON L6G 1A5 905.470.8522

York Life

editor’s note


Making Memories

EDITOR Jacqueline Kovacs

This time of year always takes me back to the mouth-watering aromas coming from my mother’s kitchen. Her turkey was always juicy and accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole and homemade stuffing and gravy. And then there were the cookies: shortbread, gingerbread, pinwheels, thumbprints and usually some kind of square thrown in for good measure. She was — and still is — one of the best cooks I know, and her holiday feast was probably the highlight of the season for me. With my own family, I confess, I have to take some shortcuts. Yes, I roast a wickedly good turkey and my garlic-whipped mashed potatoes are a family fave, but my stuffing comes from a box and my gravy from an envelope. And while I generally make about three kinds of cookies (often with children assisting), I don’t shy from supplementing my seasonal treats with offerings from local bakeries. That’s why I’m delighted to feature the delicious work of Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts on our holiday cover and in our pages. After all, if you don’t have time to bake yourself, buying from a local bakery is the next best thing (and probably better than what I can cook up anyway). Besides baking, we’ve got appetizers and signature cocktails to round out your holiday entertaining. Plus, we show you how you can take “local” one step further and find some unique gift ideas from York Makers, a group of talented artisans who are all based right here in York Region. Happy holidays! Jacqueline Kovacs

Stuff I’m Swooning Over Over:

COPY EDITOR Deanna Dority CONTRIBUTORS Liz Bruckner, Jim Craigmyle, Naomi Hiltz, Sue Kanhai, Andrea Karr, Signe Langford, Joann MacDonald, Leslee Mason, Rachel Naud, Karen Robock, Kasie Savage, Julia Suppa, Doug Wallace DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING Amanda Smug ADVERTISING MANAGER Mara Sepe ADVERTISING SALES Amanda Andolina, Pam Burgess, Dawn Chaykowsky, Joelle Hawley, Tony Segreti, Judy Starr, Willen Tam REGIONAL DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION AND CREATIVE SERVICES Katherine Porcheron EDITORIAL DESIGN Brenda Boon, Nick Bornino, LuAnne Turner, Jennifer Dallman, Emily Ayranto, Karl Strasser DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Phil Sheehan DIRECTOR OF DISTRIBUTION Mike Banville

York Life, Markham, Richmond Hill, Thornhill and Stouffville is published by Metroland Media, York Region. Statements, opinions and points of view are those of the sources and writers and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, advertisers or York Life magazine. Contents copyrighted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any article, photograph or artwork without written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Submissions are welcome from writers and photographers. We assume no responsibility for unsolicited material.

For the Foodie Christmas Spatulas, $2.97, Walmart and

4 | York Life November December 2017

Gift Idea for Him Shoe Shine Kit, $34.99, At selected Winners

For the Beauty Junkie Wella Oil Reflections, $33.99 At selected hair salons

York Life 580B Steven Ct., P.O. Box 236, Newmarket, ON L3Y 4X1 905-853-8888

At TMS, I am known.

When students are genuinely known, their learning can be fully understood and beautifully supported. They can thrive. TMS creates opportunities for children to be inspired by learning through experimentation, exploration, and self-discovery. Located in Richmond Hill, our Montessori Lower School is for students 18 months to Grade 6. You hear the laughter, see the joy on students’ faces, and feel the trust parents have as they drop off their children. Our Upper School (Grades 7-12) offers the only independent International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme in York Region. On any given day, this modern campus may showcase a student art exhibit, impromptu debate or a pop-up lab for group projects. But don’t just take our word for it. Finding the right school for your child is too important. You have to visit and see and feel it for yourself. Our Montessori start and IB finish provide a unique framework within which your child can say

I Am Known. We are worth the visit.

Richmond Hill


N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 01 7







LIVING WELL News, tips and fun facts





INDULGE WITHOUT THE BULGE Tips for healthier holidays






HEART OF THE HOME Designer Pam Byer shares how she transformed a Stouffville kitchen


STEP UP YOUR ENTRY Pretty, personal DIY planters



Cover photo: Ellie Kistemaker

Designer Lisa Canning on how to elevate your washroom

6 | York Life November December 2017

VAYCAY: TAHITI Island hopping in French Polynesia


TRAVEL SMARTS Tips for a cleaner, healthier flight

HEALTHY TRANSFORMATION This Stouffville mom turned to nutrition to cope with loss and wound up in a healthier place

Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts

How to improve your sleep





HANDMADE FOR THE HOLIDAYS A roundup of unique gift-giving ideas — all made in York Region

SIGNATURE COCKTAILS Make your own unique cocktail in six simple steps

Set a seasonal table


LOCAL START-UPS Easy appetizers everyone will love


A BEAUTIFUL MIND Shawn Solomon of Thornhill Skin Clinic helps her clients feel good — inside and out

living well

Put a


on It!

It’s one of the most recognized signs of the holidays — a wreath, hung on a door, used as a centrepiece or populated with candles. But wreaths have been used since ancient times to denote people’s heritage, occupations and achievements. Later, as a Christmas symbol, the wreath’s circular shape and evergreen construction were said to symbolize spirituality and everlasting life. These days, though, wreaths come in a range of sizes and are made from a variety of materials, so you can easily find one to suit your own style and budget.

Pom Pom Wreath $29.96,

Flocked Winter Wreath $27.98,

Pre-Decorated Artificial Wreath $60.99,

Holly Berry Wreath $39.98, York Life November December 2017 | 7

living well | Health

Puppy Love What parent hasn’t heard the plaintive plea: “Can we get a dog?” And often the answer is no, because of the work responsibility and sometimes a concern about the dirt and germs our four-legged friends may bring into our homes. But it may be time to give Fido a second thought. A new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that exposing kids to pets and other common indoor allergens before age three may prevent the development of asthma and other respiratory issues. That’s right, having a pooch may be even better for your kids than you thought. Just be prepared to take over your pup’s care needs once the novelty has worn off! — Karen Robock

Burn Out

Get in Gear

This upgraded GPS sports band from Samsung boasts smart new features, including nutrition tracking, swim training and sleep monitoring. Take it on the trails, to the gym or in the pool, so there’s no excuse for missing a workout this winter. Automatic activity detection will recognize when you’re active — and customized personal motivation can prompt you to get moving when you need a kick in the butt! Gear Fit2 Pro, $299.99 — K.R.

Fans of scented rooms, you may want to shelve those incense sticks, say French researchers. It turns out they give off pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde when they burn, which can cause respiratory problems and may even be carcinogenic. And that’s not the only fragrant danger. The study, by Directorate-Generale for Competition, Consumer Affairs and the Prevention of Fraud, found that many plug-in air fresheners and scented candles can also be harmful to indoor air quality. They recommend limiting the use of these products and opening a window or door for at least 10 minutes afterwards. — K.R.

It’s The Balm

Beat dry, chapped lips this winter by treating your pucker to a layer of protective and nourishing moisture. We love that these lippies contain natural pout-protecting ingredients like beeswax, antioxidant-rich orange extract and green tea leaf. — K.R. Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, $4.89 Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy, $32 Drunk Elephant Lippe, $22

Rest Assured We all know how important a good night’s sleep is to our health, so many of us aim for a good “sleep hygiene” routine, including a warm bath, no electronics and a cooler temperature in the bedroom. But when was the last time you thought about the state of your mattress? If it’s old (over 10 years) and looks saggy or feels lumpy, it’s time for an upgrade. Consider it your holiday gift to yourself! This made-in-Canada mattress uses CertiPUR-US foam, meaning it’s free of harmful chemicals, and contains a stay-cool top layer for a more comfortable trip to dreamland. Best of all, it’s easy: Buy online and your new mattress ships straight to your door rolled in a box the size of a hockey bag. Just move it to your bedroom, unroll it and hit the sheets. Still not convinced? Endy mattresses come with a risk-free 100-night trial, so you can, ahem, sleep on it. — K.R. $775 for a double at

8 | York Life November December 2017

living well | Home


The Rustic Touch

If wintry weather is giving you a bad combination of cabin fever and the chills, consider a little decor therapy. The Rustic Collection from Canadian home fashion and decor shop Bouclair is a new line that’s sure to bring warmth to any home. Picking up on the trend of wood details with brushed-metal accents, the collection offers a sophisticated yet rustic look. You can find such pieces as a metaland-wood two-door buffet, fabric sectional sofa, mirrored pinewood and metal coffee table, and more. Priced from $169.99 to $1,999.99, — Rachel Naud

BREAKING TRADITION Of all the familiar sounds of the holidays, the one that makes us cringe is the smashing of fragile glass ornaments hitting the floor on decorating day. This is usually quickly followed by the shooing of pets and small children from the area to avoid cut feet. This Christmas, however, you can change that not-so-great tradition. These shatterproof ornaments have the lustre of real glass but the safe practicality of plastic. Available separately or in a combo pack. $3.98 to $19.98, — R.N.

Powerful Stat If you’re feeling the pinch to heat your home this winter, you’re not alone. According to the Fraser Institute, from 2008 to 2016, electricity prices in Ontario rose by 71 per cent. To reduce your heating bill, consider installing a programmable thermostat, such as the Honeywell 7-Day Programmable Thermostat (Best Buy, $89.99), to adjust your home’s temperature according to your schedule. WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO? Enbridge Natural Gas offers these tips: • Close doors in unused areas. • Open blinds and curtains during the day to let the sun’s warmth in. • Set the thermostat lower — a 3°C reduction can save you up to six per cent. — R.N.

Bright Idea Remember the old “clap on, clap off” lighting system from the ’80s and ’90s? Well, new technology has pushed illumination light years forward. Philips Hue, from Philips Lighting, works seamlessly with voice-activated speaker Google Home. Use Google Home to control lighting and create the ideal ambience in your home. Simply say “Okay, Google, dim my dining room lights 20 per cent,” and your lighting wish will be Google’s command. — R.N.

SMART Grilling Well Done Barbecue season may be over, but grilling doesn’t have to wait until spring. This indoor grill combines the patented grilling technology from T-fal’s original OptiGrill with unique smart technology that lets you program your cooking setting and monitor the progress — all from an app on your smartphone. T-fal OptiGrill Smart, $329.99, available at Hudson’s Bay and Best Buy. — R.N.

York Life November December 2017 | 9

living well | Food & Drink

That’s a Wrap? Do you try to reduce waste with reusable containers, but end up using plastic wrap for food items that just don’t lend themselves to lidded containers? Here’s your green solution. These all-natural beeswax food wraps keep your leftovers fresher longer, reduce kitchen waste and make packing litterless lunches a snap. Just hand-wash in cold water and hang to dry, and you can reuse them again and again. $18 for 3 medium size at — Karen Robock


p! Butter U tter for a

ened bu Need soft taring at a t you’re s recipe, bu tter from of cold bu hard block m. Just le No prob ? e g id fr the ou need amount y grate the sit on the l and let it utes. into a bow out 10 min b a r fo r te .R. coun king! — K Happy ba



For a personalized gift, write a message on a bottle using a metallic marker.

Whether you’re ringing in the New Year or toasting a holiday feast, your guests will appreciate having a splash of this pretty bubbly. This special edition bottle of rosé also makes the perfect gift for the Champagne lover on your list. Laurent-Perrier Champagne, $99

Got a foodie on your gift list? Or maybe the chillier temperatures are inspiring you to whip up big family dinners and lots of comfort food. Whatever the reason, you’ll find loads of mealtime inspiration in this season’s hottest cookbooks. Set-it-and-forgetit meals make weeknight dinners a snap. Leave it to Martha to show us how to make everything from cinnamon buns to stews in the good old slow cooker. Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, $35. 10 | York Life November December 2017

Take “Meatless Monday” to the next level. Toronto-based YouTube star Candice Hutchings’ new collection features 138 vegan recipes that promise to satisfy even the most enthusiastic meateaters. The Edgy Veg Cookbook, $32.95.

Food writer Amy Rosen is back for seconds with a sequel to her bestselling Toronto Cooks, including 100 recipes by 50 of the city’s top chefs. Toronto Eats, $37.95. — K.R.

living well | Travel

Stopover: Los Angeles On your way to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii or Tahiti? Los Angeles is a cool place to pause en route to break up the journey. It also makes a great city start to a beach break if you’re heading to Mexico’s west-coast hot spots. For your short visit, it’s best to pick one or two neighbourhoods to concentrate on, rather than spreading yourself too thin around too much. Setting up home base in West Hollywood puts you within easy reach of the sensations of Sunset Strip, the riches of Beverly Hills, the glamour/ seediness of Hollywood proper and the serenity of Venice Beach. Foodies will have trouble narrowing down their restaurant choices. This is a town where even the burger joints make the top-10 lists. You’ll definitely need a car and a plan mapped out in advance — L.A. is not a place to wing it. Mix the kitsch with the cool stuff for an allaround great weekend. —Doug Wallace

Turndown: Chic by Royalton All Exclusive Resort PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC This all-inclusive, adults-only hot spot on golden Uvero Alto Beach sports a glam Miami South Beach feel, with its five à la carte restaurants, 24-hour room service and premium drinks at six bars. It comes complete with an upscale casino, a state-of-the-art health and fitness complex and a headache-erasing Detox Oxygen Bar for short recreational oxygen shots. Go for the Diamond level for the butler perks and privileges. From $300, chicresorts. com. —D.W.


Sound Investment Isolate earplugs are a smart choice for travellers looking to catch a proper 40 winks. Tune totally out with an aluminum, titanium, gold or rhodium finish. The aluminum version comes in a range of colours, while the denser titanium can sport a natural or mirror finish. Two sizes, too: standard (4 mm) and mini (2.5 mm, shown). From $40, — D.W.

Flight Plan: See Ya! Canadians made

32.3 million overnight trips outside the country in 2015, of which 82% were for leisure. This is more than twice as many international leisure trips per capita than

in the United States. York Life November December 2017 | 11

living well | Beauty

Sweet Surprises For the product junkie in your life, a beauty Advent calendar packed with 24 days of mini goodies is sweeter than a gift of chocolate. L’Occitane’s seasonal offering comes with bath and body items like hand cream, shampoo and shower gel; NYX features lipsticks and glosses; and Sephora Collection has a mix — everything from nail polish remover wipes to lip liner. — Andrea Karr

Sephora Collection Fairyland Advent Calendar, $56,

Smile Pretty

NYX Lippie Countdown 24 Days of Lips Advent Calendar, $65 at Shoppers Drug Mart

TEENAGE DREAM This past summer, Pickering, Ont., native and teen heartthrob Shawn Mendes launched his debut scent, Signature — a unisex “floriental” fragrance with fruity top notes, a woody base and a rose and frangipani heart. The Canadian touch? A sugar maple accord. The scent’s adorable bottle has a guitar pick engraved with Mendes’ signature and a cap crafted to look as if it’s wrapped in guitar string. Give it to the teen on your Christmas list and wait for the smiles. Shawn Mendes Signature Eau de Parfum, $60/50 mL at Shoppers Drug Mart. — A.K.

If you love using whitening strips to brighten your smile, you won’t be able to get enough of the latest addition to the Crest family: Whitestrips With Light. The new innovation uses a blue-light device — similar to the technology at the dentist’s office — to weaken the bonds within stains for a megawatt grin in less time. — A.K. Crest 3D White Whitestrips With Light, $120 at mass retailers and drug stores.

Night Shift

Skin regeneration and repair happen while you sleep, turning bedtime into prime time for slathering your face with lotions and potions. — A.K.

Try a night treatment like Omorovicza Midnight Radiance Mask — it uses sand lily and salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin and reduce discoloration. Omorovicza Midnight Radiance Mask, $155,

12 | York Life November December 2017

L’Occitane Advent Calendar, $69,

Try Canadian-made Pura Botanicals Overnight Watermelon Mask, which contains both watermelon extract to brighten and neroli to improve elasticity, and wake up to a refreshed complexion. Pura Botanicals Overnight Watermelon Mask, $64,


To Your Health It’s the time of year to get your glow on. But shopping, socializing, party planning, later nights, and sipping holiday cocktails followed by caffeinated mornings can all take their toll on your body, leaving you feeling tired and foggy and your complexion tired and dull. Sure, you can drink water to help hydrate, but why not kick your H2O up a notch with Rejuvenate, a protein-and-more powder from Canada’s Age Quencher. The six-in-one formula delivers collagen, vitamin C, silica (to support hair, skin and nails), a prebiotic and fibre — all in one powder you can throw in a smoothie or in your water bottle.

York Life November December 2017 | 13

health | Holiday Survival


Without the Bulge The experts dish on how to stay on track with healthy eating over the holidays 14 | York Life November December 2017


A traditional turkey dinner can deliver up to 3,000 calories!

he holidays are just around the corner, and as much as this is a time for fun, family, friends and food, it can also be a stressful time to stay on track with healthy eating. With events to attend and so many goodies around, making the right food choices and watching your waistline can be challenging.

How challenging? Here’s some perspective: one turkey dinner with all the trimmings and one piece of pie is actually about 3,000 calories. That’s equal to eating six fast-food burgers! When it comes to alcohol, 1.5 ounces of spirits totals 70 calories, a glass of wine comes in at 120 calories, and a beer will set you back a whopping 140 calories. But don’t get discouraged. You can balance enjoying holiday indulgences with healthy eating habits. Here’s how: • Never show up to the party hungry; fill up on veggies and fruit before you head out the door. You’ll be less likely to grab those calorie-laden puff pastry appies being passed around. • Don’t skip meals the day of the party in hopes of saving your appetite — you’ll likely feel that you can overindulge in unhealthy foods. • Skip sweet bevvies and avoid the associated empty calories. Choose water flavoured with lemon, lime or cucumber to keep your taste buds satisfied. • Use a small side plate instead of a large dinner plate. That way, you’ll take smaller portions of the food you enjoy. • Avoid snacking on mini-chocolates or nuts. Those snacks look small, but the fat and calories add up quickly. How else can you stay healthy during the holiday season when you’ve got a busy schedule of socializing? • Wash your hands with soap and water often, especially before eating. • Get enough shut-eye; aim for seven hours of sleep a night. • Remember to keep up your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables to help meet all your body’s vitamin needs. • Reduce likelihood of food-borne illnesses by making sure your food is properly cooked. And don’t guess; always use a meat thermometer to be certain. Most importantly, try to relax, have fun and really enjoy this special once-a-year time with friends and family. Tips provided by Southlake Regional Health Centre’s registered dieticians Michelle Fedele and Jacqueline Hornick.

IN ADDITION TO CARDIOLOGY CONSULTATIONS, PACE OFFERS A FULL ARRAY OF NON-INVASIVE CARDIAC TESTING PACE now offers a CARDIO-METABOLIC CLINIC, specializing in the management of TYPE 2 DIABETES for patients with documented vascular diseases.


• Adult/Pediatric Electrocardiography (ECG) • Adult/Pediatric Exercise Stress Testing • Adult Echocardiography (ECHO) • Stress Echocardiography • Adult/Pediatric 24/48/ 72/hour as well as 7 and 14 day Holters • Event Loop Recorder (ELR) • 24 Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring Many PACE Cardiologists are affiliated with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and Southlake Regional Health Centre. To access the clinic, patients need a referral from their family doctor, the emergency room, nurse practitioner, or an urgent care/walk-in clinic physician.

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Orillia (echo lab only) Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (M022) 170 Colborne Street, W 1-888-662-0680 York Life November December 2017 | 15

Rest Assured

Why prioritizing sleep should rank high on your to-do list and the simple changes that can help you get enough BY LIZ BRUCKNER

16 | York Life November December 2017

When it comes to scoring a deep, restful sleep, the obvious rules are well known: No coffee after dinner. No bright lights before bed. But it’s not just the pre-bed prep that can help you nod off quickly. Here’s expert intel on why sleep is so necessary, how to get more and whether sleep aids are worth trying. Why is sleep so vital? Sleep’s main benefit is that it enables our bodies and minds to rest and recover, says Wendy Hall, a professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing. “When adults don’t sleep enough, beyond feeling like we’re in a fog and having difficulty with problem solving, we can feel very sleepy.” Daytime sleepiness has been equated to walking around as though you’ve been drinking, which can make driving and operating machinery unsafe. When children don’t get enough sleep, they can become aggressive, struggle to pay attention and become depressed or anxious. Teens with chronically inadequate sleep may engage

in risky behaviour, such as take drugs and alcohol, and reckless driving. How many hours do you need? While people differ when it comes to individual sleep requirements, Hall says that generally the younger you are, the more sleep you need. Newborns benefit from 14 to 17 hours, while infants need 12 to 15 hours and toddlers do well with 11 to 14 hours. Preschoolers will ideally sleep 10 to 13 hours, school-aged kids need nine to 11 hours, and teens do best with eight to 10 hours each night. Sleep needs settle into a more regular pattern in young adulthood, with seven to nine hours as the norm for those between 18 and 64, while adults over 65 benefit most from seven to eight hours. What’s the best way to get more sleep? There are myriad options for increasing your sleep intake (see “5 Easy Tips for Improving Your Sleep,” right), but should dreamland continually evade

5 Easy Tips for Improving Your Sleep Whether because of the cold, the heat, worrying about tomorrow’s to-do list, or too much Netflix in bed, a lack of sleep does more than affect you physically. Recent studies have found that just one night of compromised shuteye can leave you vulnerable to emotional meltdowns and affect how the brain discerns between what is and isn’t important. The fix: Sleep, and plenty of it. Here are five easy ways to catch more zzzs. Skip late-night workouts Sure, getting in a daily workout is important, but for some people, vigorous activity before bed can result in a night of tossing and turning. To get

you, Hall hails behavioural therapy as the best restorative course of action. “It looks at changing people’s thoughts and feelings about falling and staying asleep, incorporates sleep restrictions to the point that time in bed is limited to help consolidate sleep,” she says. “It also encourages changing negative sleep habits, improves sleep routines, employs techniques like mindfulness, meditation or relaxation, and promotes the approach that activities in the bedroom should be restricted to sleep and sex.” Are sleep aids a safe option? A natural approach that’s been highly touted in recent years is the use of melatonin, a hormone made by your brain that regulates your internal clock. While some users swear that it helps them fall asleep, others find it largely ineffective. Though Hall says studies have shown it has positive effects on jet lag and some small benefits for adults struggling to fall asleep, she adds that unless you aren’t producing enough, incorporating it into your nightly routine isn’t likely to affect your sleep pattern. As for prescription and over-the-counter pills, they can be very helpful and many are a safe, viable option for the infrequent user. However, Hall cautions, it’s important to ensure that you weigh the pros and cons of this type of medication in advance. “It’s always wise to have a conversation with your doctor before you begin to take anything so as to avoid complications and potential health problems.”

your heart rate up without compromising sleep, aim to exercise in the early morning or afternoon hours so your body has time to wind down. Or, try simple stretching or yoga before bed — both help you relax before hitting the sack. No booze before bed While it’s commonly known that drinking before bed can make you drowsy, intoxicated sleep isn’t quality sleep. Yes, you nod off quickly, but studies confirm that your body is awakened by a revved-up nervous system during the second half of the night, leaving you groggy the next morning. What’s more, drunken sleep can also cause snoring and an elevated heart rate, and experts say that over time it can potentially lead to sleep apnea. The fix: Indulge in no more than a glass or two earlier in the night — at least three hours before turning in. Turn off electronics Using your phone, tablet or any electronic gadget while in bed can derail your best-laid shuteye plans. To make drifting off easier, keep screens

out of your bedroom, as they can lower your body’s sleep-aiding melatonin levels. Keep your room dark Just as keeping electronics light low — or better yet, off — is important, so is minimizing bright lights in the bedroom. The National Sleep Foundation reports that melatonin can only be stimulated in a dimly lit space, and bright lights inhibit that process. Having problems minimizing street or city lights? Use heavy fabrics on windows to darken the room, or try a sleeping mask to block light blasts. Hone your sense of purpose A study by Illinois’ Northwestern University found that participants who focused on past achievements and goals for their future were less likely to experience sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. They also had a higher quality of sleep overall, prompting researchers to consider “life purpose” as an effective and drug-free option for improving sleep quality, particularly in those ages 60 and up.

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York Life November December 2017 | 17

Special Promotion

Excellence in Dentistry

Not your average dental practice, Hillcrest Dental Centre sets the bar high when it comes to expertise, state-of-the-art technology, and service. t’s no small feat for a business to be dubbed Meet Our Newest Dentists “the choice of generations” three decades


since it debuted, but Hillcrest Dental Centre in Richmond Hill, a family-friendly, leadingedge practice launched by four local dentists in 1984, can claim just that.. Each of the four founding dentists — Dr. Frank Catapano, Dr. Marshall Kochberg, Dr. Gerald Vanderpluym, and Dr. Margaret Wong — continue to bring their expertise to the clinic, but now a new crop of interdisciplinary dentists, including Dr. Tehchin Hsieh, Dr. Shayna Levitan, Dr. Mark Sokalsky and Dr. Amy Tawadrous, have joined the team to better serve the city’s diverse and expanding community. These experts use the latest technology to meet every patient’s “whole-mouth” needs in one place. With a modern, stylish design setting the tone for clients, Hillcrest is always innovating to enhance and improve patient experience, and offers digital X-rays for accurate diagnostics with minimize radiation exposure, Zoom Whitening to offer an instant, customized whitening experience, as well as state-of-the-art Invisalign, implant technology, sleep apnea appliances and thorough oral cancer screenings. Whether you’re new to the area or looking for a practice that better fits your lifestyle and dental needs, you’re invited to come experience the difference!

Dr. Shayna Levitan A former high school science teacher, Dr. Levitan is known as Hillcrest Dental Centre’s “singing dentist” with a passion for dental health. She’s a University of Toronto Dental School graduate who works well with anxious patients, and loves to treat children. “My biggest focus is on oral hygiene and the prevention of dental disease,” she says. “My passion is gentle, compassionate dentistry with heart. I came into the dental field because I have always been an anxious patient and wanted to make a difference for people like myself. I always tell my patients that my first priority is their comfort — emotionally and physically — and my second priority is to fix their teeth.” Dr. Mark Sokalsky A graduate of the University of Toronto, Dr. Sokalsky brings many years of standout clinical experience to the Hillcrest Dental Centre team. Following 10 years in the public health sector as a school

dentist, he opened a practice in Toronto before joining the staff as a general practitioner with experience in many facets of dentistry, and a special interest in cosmetic dentistry. “I love working in the large-group practice Hillcrest Dental Centre has established, partly because of on-site specialists who make it possible to immediately refer patients for special procedures,” he says. “Most of all, my focus is on patients who present with discomfort, problems, questions or are just in need of routine maintenance.” Dr. Amy Tawadrous With a history in Biological Sciences, Dr. Tawadrous joined Hillcrest Dental Centre in 2016 after graduating from the University of Western Ontario. With a history of diverse experiences — she’s worked in various hospital settings with many specialists, including oral surgeons, prosthodontists and

paediatric dentists — she’s also traveled across the province to provide much-needed dental services to many rural communities. Recently, she joined with Nine Miles of Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care to children and adults living in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. “I enjoy practicing all areas of dentistry, and meeting and treating patients of all ages,” she says. “I grew up in Richmond Hill and after I completed my training, I knew I wanted to move back to my home community and practice dentistry at Hillcrest Dental Centre. To serve the people of this community is an honour and I look forward to growing more involved day by day. Hillcrest Dental has welcomed me warmly in so many ways and I enjoy coming to work and being part of this awesome team.”,, 905-883-0411 We provide on site referrals to an Endodontist and Oral Surgery for the convenience of our patients.

The founding dentists, from left to right: Dr. Frank Catapano, Dr. Margaret Wong, Dr. Marshall Kochberg; front row: Dr. Gerald Vanderpluym

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2563 Major Mackenzie Dr. Unit 1. Maple, ON L6A 2E8 • 905.832.2753

© 2016 Pandora Jewelry, LLC • All rights reserved


Hot Stuff Do winter’s cold, dark days have you wishing you had a fireplace, or an additional fireplace? These days, installation can be as easy as bringing one home and plugging it in. And if the words “electric fireplace” conjure up images of cheesy glowing fake logs, fear not: modern units come in a range of styles — from traditional and rustic to sleek and contemporary — as well as sizes and budgets, and can work in any space. This Tyson media cabinet with a built-in electric fireplace adds warmth, ambience and functionality with its open-storage design. Plus, it warms up to 1,000 square feet and comes with either traditional logs or acrylic ice. $1,099.99,

York Life November December 2017 | 21

home | Room Tour

22 | York Life November December 2017

Designer Pamela Byer had been working on this Stouffville house for years. Now the newly renovated kitchen is its crowning glory BY SUE KANHAI PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM CRAIGMYLE

York Life November December 2017 | 23


he concept for this stunning kitchen had been kicking around in Pamela Byer’s mind for a while. The senior interior decorator at Design Line Studio in Aurora had worked on this Stouffville home for a few years, designing many of its rooms. The kitchen was the last piece of the puzzle. “After working with the homeowners for so long, I kind of already knew what direction they’d like to go in,” she says. “It’s almost a case of, did the chicken or the egg come first?” The original space had a lot going for it: it was spacious, had a big island, was open to the living and family rooms, received tons of natural light and had room to seat friends and family. The hitch? Its French country style — the cream paint and traditional cabinetry — was not the homeowners’ first choice. Updating the kitchen would bring it more in line with the rest of the house, which is clean-lined and modern. The home is large and fairly open from one room to the next, so the decorator had consistency in mind. The palette was grey, white and black, and keeping the look soft was essential.

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“We really didn’t have to change any of the function of the kitchen; we just had to change the aesthetic of it,” Byer says. Sticking to the original footprint and putting the new appliances where the original ones were saves money in a kitchen remodel, she says. There’s less labour and fewer additional costs involved. The client hoped to take advantage of the high ceilings —12 feet in the kitchen and 11 feet in the butler’s pantry — and Byer wanted everything to scale. The homeowner also wanted some kind of focal point, but nothing too ornate. Byer installed quartz all the way up the wall of the oven and stove, and the result is dramatic and majestic while still clean-lined and tailored. The gorgeous stone is white with fluid veining. Because the colour palette is so subdued, Byer wanted to create visual interest. The bubble pendant lights have different shades of grey, and clear, hand-blown ribbed glass for texture. The high-contrast faucets and pot filler are a deep matte black.

Designer Pam Byer says the island is one of the prettiest she has done. The bubble pendant lights, with different shades of grey and clear, create visual interest in the subdued space

“The island is one of the prettiest I’ve done,” Byer says. “We wanted to be able to see it and we didn’t want anything blocking or taking away from it, so we chose acrylic counter stools with wrought-iron bases. They have that wow factor, but they don’t obstruct the view.” Many don’t realize the importance of accessories, and Byer gave careful thought to each individual piece. They needed to fit the colour story, have some flair and be large enough for the room. “Accessories jazz up your space a bit and prevent it from being too cold or onedimensional,” she says. All of the Miele appliances are stainless steel, per the homeowners’ request. The range hood was custom made, as a favour by a friend, and Byer added a sleek coffee bar. Particularly fun for Byer was redesigning the butler’s pantry, which let her be creative in a small space. Originally traditional with espresso-coloured wood and a dark countertop, the space felt off-putting and cavernous.

Touches of creativity are seen in the butler’s pantry (above), the coffee station next to the fridge (next page) and the accessories on the glass shelves above the sink. The result is a space that better reflects the owners’ personalities.

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Sources: Backsplash and island countertop: Cambria, Brittanicca Perimeter countertops: Caesarstone, 4001 Fresh Concrete Faucets and pot filler: Taps Bath Centre, matte black plated brass Cabinetry paint colour: Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace OC-65

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Byer revamped it entirely, installing floating shelves that keep the nook open and airy. The wall tile resembles concrete, but is actually affordable porcelain. The ceiling light’s stainless steel drum shade complements the dramatic chandelier in the adjacent dining room. People worry too much about perfection, which isn’t realistic when renovating, Byer observes. With any custom kitchen, “little things will arise,” she says, but notes, “Hey, it adds a bit of spice and excitement.” The homeowners had lived in the house for a few years before tackling the kitchen reno, and that’s always a wise course of action. “It’s a pretty big undertaking,” Byer says. “Years ago, when we started purchasing furniture for the home, it was all with a mind to having a kitchen that would one day look similar to this. It was sort of the grand plan.” The renovation took about three months, which is typical for a project of that size. The homeowners, a family with two daughters and a dog, are very happy with the results. “They’re just such a fun couple,” Byer says. “They have a big family and they love to entertain. It really reflects them now. ”

Technical Help Design Line Studio uses a unique software program that provides clients with detailed 3-D renderings. This helpful tool takes a lot of the guesswork out of the design process, bringing ideas to life, enabling clients to see their decorator’s vision and ensuring the final product is exactly what they’d hoped for.

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inter, the season when our outdoor landscape is cloaked in ice, snow, slush or a dreary mix of all three. It’s also when gardening is far from our minds, yet winter is arguably the season when a splash of personality and colour is needed most — not only to visually warm up our exteriors, but also to create an inviting entry to our homes. Saving money, enhancing curb appeal and showcasing your creative side are just three of the reasons why you should tackle your own winter planters this season — think custom DIY versus pricey big-box cookie-cutter grab ’n’ go. We asked HGTV’s Home to Win host, author and international landscape designer Carson Arthur, as well as Aurora-based floral designer Karrie McFee, for professional tips and tricks that they use when creating their own winter planters.

York Life November December 2017 | 27

home | Planters Timing “One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is letting the soil in their fall planter freeze. The water in the soil causes it to expand, often splitting the pot,” Arthur says, adding that he’s a fan of creating a transitional planter — one with dried grasses and twigs. “As we get closer to the holidays, I can bulk this planter up with boughs or other winter-inspired pieces.” McFee, meanwhile, relies on a local tradition as her seasonal barometer: “I like to save my clients’ planters until after the Aurora Santa Claus parade (end of November), unless there’s greater exposure to sunlight or elements — then I would hold off until the end of the first week of December for maximum enjoyment.” Preparation “You need to be able to fill your winter planter with something other than soil,” Arthur says. “Some use packing noodles or sand, but I prefer to use mulch, because it can go into the garden come spring. Make sure to buy one bag per planter; that way, you know you’ll have it when you need it.” Opting to spare her planters any wear and tear, McFee uses inexpensive planter inserts instead. “Make sure the planters are free of old roots or plants that could prevent the fullness of your display,” she says. “If your existing soil is frozen, thaw it with some hot water from a kettle. I like to use a mix of fresh, damp soil and florist sponge, as well as a disposable container, for easy removal in spring.”

Let your winter planters showcase your style, creativity and personality, rather than copying existing styles

Design Arthur, a lover of big-bang-for-the-buck, recommends hardy evergreens and unexpected favourites like euonymus, but for the wow factor, he recommends thinking outside and inside the box. “If you want to save money, add items like wrapped empty Christmas boxes. They are a great way to fill a planter on a dime.” McFee, the traditionalist, recommends the tried-and-true standards. “Evergreen varieties such as cedar, pine

Landscape designer Carson Arthur recommends evergreens for outdoor planters. To up the wow factor, try adding empty wrapped Christmas boxes.

28 | York Life November December 2017

and fir are the most popular and longestlasting. Broadleaf evergreens such as boxwood and oregonia are also long-lasting, but pricier.” Bonus tip: Shop for supplies at supermarkets and nurseries where these plants are sold in bundles at competitive prices. Maintenance To water or not to water? “No!” Arthur states emphatically. “Water is your enemy in the winter months. The natural material like boughs and greens go dormant and freeze, which means they don’t need any water until it starts to warm up outside.” But if you create your planters when temperatures are still above freezing, and you’re using a disposable planter insert, McFee disagrees. “You do not have to water to keep your greens fresh; however, give it a good soak to encourage the soil to freeze.” Style Your winter planters are more about showcasing your style, creativity and personality versus copying existing styles. But this doesn’t mean spending a lot of money. “Adding a pop of colour in a strategic spot is a fantastic way to draw the eye,” Arthur says. “I love the intense red of feathered cardinals from the local dollar store. You immediately see them, they last all through the cold months and, if you catch them before the spring rains, you can save them for the following year.” McFee’s rule of thumb is simple: “For high impact, I use the ‘Can you see it from the road?’ approach. I like to use large plastic ornaments in bright colours, or natural ornaments such as white-painted pine cones or birch balls.” On trend When it comes to contemporary style, Arthur says creating small vignettes is key. “Layering elements makes the entire space feel like a display, and it’s so simple to do. I’ve even painted an old pair of rubber boots red and stuffed them with leftover boxwood clippings. Total cost was under $10.” For McFee, a trend that we can all mimic is a more modern and formal look. “Stacking layers of greens as opposed to mixing them — think more uniform and less cascading.” No matter your style or budget, creating your own winter planters can start as a fun project and evolve to become an annual, decorative household tradition. Karrie McFee favours brighly coloured ornaments, such as affordable red-feathered cardinals.

York Life November December 2017 | 29

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Bathing Beauty Who doesn’t love a long soak in a hot bath? And lingering in a totally gorgeous en suite? That’s like a prescription for relaxation. To create a luxury retreat-like bathroom, designer Lisa Canning offers her insights PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANN TARDIF

York Life November December 2017 | 31

home | Room Tour

First Add White When I think of a spa, white comes to mind. Fresh walls combined with the beautiful natural light in this recently renovated Newmarket bathroom is ideal. Here we used my favourite — Benjamin Moore Decorator White. To avoid the room being bland, we incorporated a lot of texture. We used Daltile’s Octagon & Dot mosaic on the floor, and its Florentine tile on the shower walls. This tile is glazed porcelain with a marble design printed on it, so it’s a great budget-saver. Having a mix of patterns and textures ensures a monochromatic colour scheme like this doesn’t feel boring. We picked up the grey on the floor with the neutral grey in the Auguste vanity by Foremost. It’s in the Details Have you ever thought about trim? Well I do, in every room I ever design. Trim can help you achieve a whole new level of luxury with a material that has a very reasonable price point. To ensure this white room didn’t feel too basic, we added crown moulding, trim and baseboard in Metrie’s Pretty Simple collection. There are so many options, sizes and profiles available, but if you want to add a level of luxury through trim and don’t know where to start, Metrie has simplified the process with its curated Then & Now Finishing Collections. They take away all the guesswork by presenting coordinated lines. Each moulding element within each collection has been meticulously designed, so every joint and reveal is seamless. 32 | York Life November December 2017

Add Natural, Rustic Elements All the white in this room called for some contrast, so we incorporated pieces from one of my favourite retailers, Artemano. This tree stump makes for a perfect perch for a wine glass or book while relaxing in the soaker tub. Artemano’s buying team travels the world in search of modern, solid-wood furniture pieces, and other home decor accessories that add artistic flair. We also added a small, rustic wooden shelf adjacent to the tub for candles. These little contrasts give the bathroom a grounded, earthy element. And what spa would be complete without candles? Handcrafted candle holders in textures such as concrete are definitely essential.

Fixtures Are Room Jewellery Plumbing fixtures are like jewellery on an otherwise plain outfit — the jewellery makes it fancy. Here, we used the Ara collection by Delta, with its geometric angles, to bring a bit of a modern edge to this space, and it took the room’s luxury level up to that of a five-star spa. I love the contrast of the modern fixture next to the traditional soaker tub — it makes such a bold statement. Luxury Can Be Affordable There are so many ways to add luxury to any space, and a bathroom is no exception. This room wasn’t just supposed to be a bathroom, it needed to feel like a spa. So, we added as much

Having a mix of patterns and textures ensures a monochromatic colour scheme like this doesn’t feel boring luxury as possible, without breaking the bank. First, we created a custom shower, complete with a bench. This looks and feels grand, but we kept the costs reasonable by using prefabricated glass shower enclosures (as opposed to all custom glass) by ShowerHaus. For an invigorating touch, we added body jets. A few perfect touches included adding a decorative hamper, a modern stool, and a leaning towel ladder from Bouclair, which adds a gorgeous visual element and can show off plush, luxurious towels. Quality towels are a must, and I love these striped Turkish cotton towels. The detail you can’t see: floors heated by the Nuheat flooring system, so your feet are happy when you get out of the shower.

And the final piece of this puzzle — the tub! This soaker tub has been with the homeowners for years, literally sitting in the garage just waiting for the perfect bathroom renovation. With a brand new coat of Benjamin Moore’s Newburyport Blue, I must say that this tub steals the show. These tips will help you to create a spa-like oasis in your own home. Remember, creating a spa is all about relaxation, comfort and luxury. And you deserve all that!

The shower is custom, but costs were kept reasonable by using prefabricated glass enclosures. Body jets were added for an invigorating touch. York Life November December 2017 | 33

Special Promotion

Teaching The FuTure Today Pickering College’s approach to technology and learning results in students who are digital innovators It’s not unusual to see toddlers with tablets in their hands, making children today adept at using technology at an increasingly early age. At Newmarket’s Pickering College, technology is a core focus from Kindergarten through to Grade 12 — with one clear distinction. “Even though students of this current generation are widely considered as digital natives, most will develop into digital native consumers without any purposeful engagement of the mind,” says Gordon Chiu, Technology Integration Specialist at the independent school. “At Pickering College, our mission is to develop students who are digital native creators and innovators.” Students learn to code from Kindergarten onward. In the early days, Pickering staff use physical resources

like Code-a-Pillar, a learning toy that has nine individual segments that kids can piece together, directing the toy’s movements toward targets. “I like Code-a-Pillar because he can move,” says Kindergartener Keira Adams. “I can make him move by myself by putting the pieces together and then I push the magic button.” In Grades 1 to 3, students use Dash and Dot, small robots that can be programmed via apps on phones and tablets. “Dash and Dot teaches me how to make Dash work,” says Grade 1 student Tristan Simpson. “You swipe actions and sounds and then the arrow makes him go.” Adds classmate Sophia Lara, “I learned that if you go slow it’s easier to control Dash. If you go fast, it’s harder because it goes out of control and keeps on crashing.”

Learning to code starts in Kindergarten with Code-a-Pillar. Later, in Grade 5, students create programmable robots (left).

Grade 5 students use Lego Mindstorms kits that contain software and hardware to create customizable, programmable robots. “I learned that there wasn’t instructions for the sensor, so I needed to create my own support to hold the sensor up,” says Julian Gal, a Grade 5 student. “I had to connect wires to the right connection. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t work.” Pickering has also mandated the use of laptops mandatory from Grade 6 onward. “In Grades 4 and 5, we want them to use their laptops appropriately to make decisions, with guidance,” says Grade 5 classroom teacher Alex Au Yong. “I find that from Grade 4 on, they’re very comfortable to think, to make good choices and conduct themselves responsibly.” The school has invested in technology of all types, including computers, mobile devices, 3D printers and robotics. “Our students are taught that these tools help express ideas, create original content and solve problems,” Au Yong says. “The high level of engagement and interest in our design and build challenges such as Lego robotics and coding is incredible. Our students in the Junior School also love using Google Apps for Education and Edsby, our learning management system, as a natural part of their learning.” Throughout their schooling, students have the opportunity to participate in technology-related national and global initiatives such as FIRST LEGO League and Hour of Code. PickeringCollege’senrichedGlobalLeadershipProgram benefits every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The program centres on six core competencies, including Design and Build and Enact Change.“At Pickering, we want

them to create new things that have impact around them,” Chiu explains.“Students are posed with authentic questions and use coding and robotics to solve them.” Teachers also harness audio-visual power to nurture leadership skills. “We use photographs and videos to assist students in reflecting back on their thinking,” Kindergarten teacher Alexis Furlan explains.“We might look at and discuss photos of students engaged in an activity and with a quote of something they said in the moment.” Students in various grades record each other and get instant feedback on their reading, public speaking and presentation skills. All grades have the opportunity to use the school’s CRTC-licensed radio station, 102.7 CHOP FM, speaking live on air. Even primary students can share a book report, read poetry aloud or interview a special guest. They learn to speak in a clear voice, slowly and enthusiastically. “They are experiencing these practices right from the beginning of Junior Kindergarten,” Furlan says. “They’re confident and comfortable with various media before they reach the later grades.” Pickering’s Global Leadership Program is carefully crafted to best prepare students for university and the workplace. “The ability to use technology in an innovative way to create products and solve problems is critically important for 21st century students,” says Julia Hunt, Director of Global Leadership.“Creativity and innovation are transferable skills that can be applied to any context, giving Pickering College students a competitive edge.”

In Grades 1 to 3, students learn with small robots programmed via apps on phones or tablets.

Visit or call 905-895-1700 ext. 259 for admission information.

food & drink

Whisky Is the New 40 Looking for a way to toast to the New Year and cap off Canada’s big 150th? Forget the beer and indulge in some Canadian Club. After all, the oh-so-national distillery recently launched its special 40-year-old whisky, just in time for the holidays. With age has come flavour — resting in American oak barrels in Windsor, Ont., for 40 years has resulted in a whisky with an aroma of dark plum and vanilla with a backdrop of toasted toffee and sweet oak, and a taste that is slightly sweet, with hints of nutmeg, clove and fruit, and a touch of caramelized sugar. What hasn’t changed is CC’s characteristic smoothness. Available in limited quantities at the LCBO, $249.95.

36 | York Life November December 2017

food & drink | Recipes


Local Start-Ups Entertaining season is here and that means being prepared, not only for your planned soirées, but also for unexpected drop-ins. We’ve got you covered. These appetizers come together quickly, or can be made ahead of time, to get you out of the kitchen and into serious socializing. Best of all, they feature Ontario produce, so you can offer your guests the freshest flavours possible.

Warming and delicious, this surprising starter is quick to prepare. Serve in espresso cups or tiny shooter glasses. 4 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 1 medium onion 1 cup peeled and chopped sweet potato or butternut squash 3 large cloves garlic, quartered 1 tbsp hot or mild curry powder 4 to 6 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper Light sour cream In a large heavy saucepan, combine potatoes, carrots, onion, sweet potato, garlic and curry powder. Pour in enough broth to just cover vegetables; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Purée vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, garnished with sour cream. Makes about 20 shooters.

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food & drink | Recipes

MINI POTATO PANCAKES WITH SOUR CREAM AND SMOKED TROUT Best served right away, these little gems are quick and easy. 4 large potatoes, peeled 2 onions 2 eggs, beaten 1/4 cup all-purpose flour salt and pepper, to taste vegetable oil 1/2 cup sour cream 4 oz smoked Ontario trout, in small strips snipped fresh chives or small sprigs of dill (optional) In a food processor or by hand, shred potatoes and onions. Place in a clean tea towel and squeeze out excess moisture; transfer to a bowl. Stir in eggs, flour, salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat a thin film of oil. Using about 1 tbsp of the mixture for each pancake, place round mounds in hot skillet, a few at a time, and press to flatten. Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes each side, turning once. Add more oil as needed for remaining pancakes. Drain well on paper towels. To serve, top each pancake with a dollop of sour cream. Arrange strip of trout on top and garnish with a length of chive or dill sprig. Makes 24 pancakes.

SAVOURY APPLE AND GOAT CHEESE LOG This simple make-ahead appetizer is a life-saver during the holiday season. Serve with crackers or crostini. 5 oz herbed Ontario goat cheese, softened 2 oz cream cheese, softened 1 apple, peeled and coarsely grated 2 green onions, finely chopped 1/2 tsp pepper 3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped In a medium bowl, blend together all the ingredients except the pecans until combined. Place on a large sheet of waxed paper. Using paper to help, form into 1½-inch-diameter log. Refrigerate until firm. Place nuts on a plate. Roll log in nuts to cover. Wrap log in waxed paper and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with apple slices, if desired. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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CURRIED CREAM CHEESE AND VEGETABLE SPIRALS You can use any flavour tortillas for these easy make-ahead appetizers, but whole wheat will add more fibre. 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated 1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp curry powder 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander or parsley 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp salt 8 oz light cream cheese, softened 4 large whole wheat tortillas In a large skillet, cook carrot, red pepper, onion, garlic and curry powder in oil until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in coriander, lemon juice and salt and let cool slightly. In a bowl, stir cream cheese with a wooden spoon until creamy. Stir in vegetable mixture. Spread each tortilla evenly with filling, then roll up tightly, pressing firmly to seal. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. To serve, trim off ends of rolls; cut each roll into 8 to 10 slices on the diagonal. Makes 32 to 40 spirals. Printed with permission from Foodland Ontario.

Perfect Pairings There’s nothing like a good wine to take any party up a notch. Here are two of our favourites that are sure to please your guests. La Crema Sonoma Coast 2015 Pinot Noir: Aromas of red cherry, raspberry, pomegranate and sweet tobacco give way to tastes of red-, blue- and black berries, plum and cherry with an underpin of spice and toast. $29.95 Kendall Jackson 2016 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay: Delightfully tropical with mango, papaya and pineapple with citrus notes, intertwined with aromas of vanilla and honey for depth and balance. A hint of oak and butter makes for a lovely, lingering finish. $19.99

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food & drink | Cocktails

s t i r i p S SIGNATURE


Hollywood caterers do it for their celebrity clients and now you, too, can create a buzz at your next party. Ready to take your entertaining to the next level? Then personalize those party libations with a unique signature cocktail. We’ll show you how in six simple steps. Step 1: Design Your Cocktail Around Your Party’s Theme

Choose a cocktail theme that gels with your event. For yuletide celebrations, think frosty, sparkly, spicy, creamy holiday concoctions — the Santa’s Sleigh, the Jack Frost, the Gingerbread Crumble. 40 | York Life November December 2017

The same goes for a celebration around any major achievement, such as a wedding shower or even a significant weight loss. Dropping the pounds and revelling with friends? How about tall, thin highballs filled with muddled herb creations? Call it The Last Ten, the Skinny Shinny or the New Me.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT Depending on your particular drink, you’ll need: • Alcohol: vodka, gin, whisky, tequila, creamy and clear liqueurs • Mixes: cola, ginger ale, club soda, orange and pineapple juice • Flavourings: salt, spices, herbs, berries, fruit, bitters • Bar set: stainless steel shaker, mixing glass, ice tongs, muddler, strainer, shot glass, long-handled spoon

food & drink | Cocktails

Step 2: Choose Your Spirits Selecting spirits has a lot to do with your party’s vibe. If it’s a quiet gathering around a fire, a full-bodied liquor is in order — something with a slow burn, like bourbon or a creamy chocolate liqueur. An afternoon brunch, on the other hand, calls for a sparkling berry burst of gin or an orangey Aperol spritz. Will there be dancing? Nothing gets a party rolling faster than a flight of festive shooters. Tequila shooters are standard fare, but layered shooters are signature drinks! Creating a layered shooter: Pick three different-coloured liqueurs. Form distinct layers by pouring the liquor over the back of a spoon into a shot glass very slowly. It will prevent the liquor from plunging into the layer below and mixing.

Step 3: Build Your Recipe

Your aim is to deliver a delicious drink with a level of complexity. Take the palate on a ride by firing off several taste buds — sweet, sour, salty, savoury, bitter. Use the fundamentals of perfume formulation — top note, heart note and base note — as a model to build your drink. Top note: The introductory sensation. Think bright, citrusy fizzes that tickle, or luscious, creamy, chocolatey hits . Heart note: After the top note subsides, it sneaks in as the body of the main spirit bleeds through. Choose something savoury. Base note: The lingering taste. This is your closer, that herb you mashed in, a spice or that splash of bitters. Go for sour or bitter. Your three ingredients don’t have to include a mix at all; all three notes could be alcohol. Just keep in mind, you want to take the palate on a ride and give your guests a friendly buzz, not have them crashing into furniture. 42 | York Life November December 2017

Step 4: Mix It Up

Decide how you want to mix your cocktail during the party. Here are your options. The straight pour: This works for layered drinks and triple-note alcohol drinks. Shake and stir: Shake or stir your cocktail in front of guests and let them be a part of the show. Have all mixes, herbs, berries and bitters ready ahead of time. Infuse: Infuse flavour in syrup or alcohol in advance; then just pour and dress it up. Consider spices, herbs, or floral infusions like lavender or elderflower. Simple syrup recipe: 2 cups of sugar dissolved into 1 cup boiling water. Add spices or flavourings to infuse. Let steep, then strain and cool before using. Muddle: A muddler is a long, wooden pestle, great for crushing herbs, spices and berries right in the glass. Herbs are de rigueur in signature cocktails. A muddled drink also brings out the strong flavour of an herb or spice.

Step 6: Name Your Drink

Step 5: Master Presentation

Give your signature drink a snappy, fun, memorable name — the Snowball Splatter or Naked at the Off-Ramp are two examples. Guests will love using it and you’ll hear it repeated numerous times around the party. It cements your party’s theme. Bottoms up!

It’s theatre! The colour, the glass, the rim, the ice, the garnish. And for the adventurous, smoke, fire and foam. This is where your signature drink will truly shine. The colour: A shot of Blue Curaçao liqueur and you have a sapphire in a glass. Add pineapple juice and you have an emerald. Layered drinks also supply that rainbow explosion.

Ice and garnish photos by Mike Guilbault

The glass: Don’t just use highballs, snifters and martini glasses; be creative — jam jars, coconuts, even small bowls can be used as a glass. The rim: Dip your rim in a syrup, plunge it into a bowl of shredded coconut and you’ve created a snow treatment. Drip puréed raspberry coulis inside the rim and guests relive summer in December. Make your own rim salts using colourful spices and salts. Rub the rim with a lemon, dip in the salt and voila! It adds to the complexity and hits that salty taste bud receptor.

Make the garnish outrageous enough to fit the event.

The ice: Plain cubes are so yesterday. The ice for signature cocktails should be unique. Buy moulds to create ice balls. Infuse ice with flavour or embed it with flowers, herbs, berries, even gumdrops or chocolates. What a nice surprise when the ice melts and there’s still a treat to be had. The garnish: You can’t get too crazy here. Swizzle sticks can hold sliders, sushi, candies, fruit and flowers. Make the garnish outrageous enough to fit the event. A baby shower with frothy milky drinks and candy soothers on swizzle sticks? Why not? Smoke, fire and foam: Molecular gastronomy has entered the world of cocktails, but if you don’t have the wherewithal to create a foamy froth, a little whipped egg white with a spray of flavouring will do. You can also shake a teaspoon of gelatin in a cocktail shaker with your mix to create that velvety texture top. Tip: Experiment first. Smoke guns are a slightly pricier addition to your bar set, but create a spectacular effect that will really impress your guests.

York Life November December 2017 | 43

food & drink | In the Kitchen

Rolled Gingerbread Cookies ½ cup butter ½ cup golden brown sugar ½ cup molasses 1 egg 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour ½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp cloves 1 tsp ginger 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy — about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in molasses and egg, mixing until blended. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and add to creamed mixture. Mix until well blended. Wrap in plastic and chill at least four hours in the fridge. Using a generous amount of flour on your rolling surface, roll dough to approximately ¼-inch thickness. Using a cutter, cut cookies and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (For a softer cookie, reduce baking time.) Makes about 12 three-inch cookies.

44 | York Life November December 2017

In the kitchen with...

Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts When the holidays arrive, it’s all about the cookies at this York Region bakery, where nut-free treats make for sweeter celebrating BY JULIA SUPPA | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELLIE KISTEMAKER

York Life November December 2017 | 45

food & drink | In the Kitchen


ue the carols, break out the bells and top everything with tinsel. The holiday season is upon us and it’s a time to be cheerful, merry — and big-time prepared. Between the parties, family gatherings and social outings, this can be a hectic time of year. And while it’s always a thoughtful gesture to bring a homemade treat to thank your host, it’s not always possible. But with Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts, it actually is. Now with two locations — the Aurora store, which opened last year, and the original Richmond Hill bakery, opened by co-owner Anna Herd five years ago — Ginger’s embraces its small-town roots. “They are very welcoming communities,” co-owner Amanda Spiteri says. “They have a very small-town feeling, even though they’re close to the city.” And the owners want to keep it that way. The modern-vintage bakery is bright and airy, with turquoise accents and a large communal table, perfect for sharing a bite with a friend or neighbour. Those tasty bites are all made from scratch and nut-free. Although the bakery specializes in wooing your sweet tooth with cupcakes, cakes, muffins and hand-pies, as the holidays approach, it’s all about the cookies. “Christmas is my ultimate favourite holiday,” Spiteri says. “For me, Christmas baking was always a family event. My dad has his special chocolate-chip cookies. My mom always did pies for Christmas, my grandma always made cookies and tarts. So I grew up with that homemade sense of dessert.” Her fave? The thumbprint cookie. “I love jam,” Spiteri says. Herd also brings her own family memories to the business. “We would make sugar cookies and gingerbread, and my mom always made cinnamon rolls Christmas morning,” she says. “So, we serve those here around the

BETTER BAKING Kick your cookies up a notch with these tips from the pros at Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts

46 | York Life November December 2017

Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts co-owners Amanda Spiteri (left) and Anna Herd embrace their business’s small-town roots. Their bakery includes a large communal table, perfect for socializing over a treat.

holiday season, too.” For Herd, gingerbread is the holiday winner. “We use my grandma’s (top secret) gingerbread recipe.” Each year, the bakery creates more than a thousand cookies for individual sale, but also for gift boxes, featuring 20 handcrafted holiday cookies for $22. Inside, you’ll find a combination of Herd’s grandma’s gingerbread, salted millionaires (“a giant Twix bar”), thumbprint cookies, bergamot cookies,

pinwheels, sponge toffee and merengue. Cookie boxes are only available by preorder, from mid-November through to December 22. You can also find Ginger’s at the Aurora Holiday Market selling cookies, homemade caramel sauce and hot chocolate mix, leading up to Christmas. For the co-owners, it’s all about keeping it homemade. Says Spiteri: “It’s like a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

1. Start with a delicious cookie dough. If you’re making your own dough, make sure it’s cold before you roll it out. If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy ready-made dough through Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts.

off the cookie. There are lots of YouTube videos you can watch on consistency.

2. Have an appropriate-size cutter. Aim for a cookie with a three-inch diameter, a quarter-inch thick.

4. Have your icing colours ready to go in your piping bags. You can find piping bags at Bulk Barn or online. There is the element of icing drying right away, which is the point. Start with your base and then add your polka dots or complementing icing.

3. If you’re using royal icing, make sure it’s the right consistency. If it’s too thick, it’s hard to pipe and will hurt your hand. If it’s too runny, it’s just going to flow

5. Have all your decorations ready: sprinkles, dragées, decorator’s sugar and so on. You want to apply them immediately, before the icing cools. – J.S.

Giant Jam Thumbprints 1 cup butter, softened ¾ cup sugar 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla 2½ cups all-purpose flour ¼ tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy — about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in egg and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add flour, baking soda and salt all at once; mix until thoroughly combined. Scoop approximately 2 tbsp of dough per cookie and roll gently into a ball.

Press your clean thumb into the centre to create a crater. Place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Fill each crater with your choice of jam. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 12 to 15 cookies. Variation: Bake the cookies fully without jam and then fill with caramel sauce.

York Life November December 2017 | 47

Giving Back

to the Community As a community-based media group reaching more than 300,000 households, we take seriously our responsibility to support community initiatives that help make York Region a great place to live, work and play. We support a wide variety of causes including health care and research, social services, education, arts and culture, community festivals, the environment, youth initiatives, volunteerism and much more.


In the Bag Packing just got easier, thanks to Canadian-designed Destination Bags. Lightweight and chic, the collection features compact storage compartments for clothing, cosmetics and intimate apparel for a streamlined packing solution. Other intelligent touches include built-in hangers and expandable pockets. Bonus: Created with premium, quilted ultra-sheen fabric and embellished with an accent brooch, they’re also good-looking. Bags range in price from $140, for the men’s On the Go toiletry case, to $200, for the women’s Luxury case.

York Life November December 2017 | 49

travel | Vacay

Island Hopping

in Tahiti Rise from your pillow and dive into crystal-clear blue water a few feet away while you wait for breakfast to arrive via canoe.Yes, you’re in for a pretty good day BY DOUG WALLACE


hen practically anyone can find a beach to sit on somewhere for a week, privacy is the ultimate luxury. No one knows this better than visitors to French Polynesia, the gem of the South Pacific — distant, exotic, romantic and unspoiled — which sees as many tourists in one year as Hawaii does in one week. The isolation is the attraction. After all, this is one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans. The weather comes a close second, with year-round temps averaging 27°C. The charming French flavour is point number three, from the baguettes tucked under everyone’s arms in the morning to the double-kissing and the simple-yet-perfect cuisine. 50 | York Life November December 2017

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travel | Vacay

With its larger lagoon, Bora Bora boasts more hotel chairs, over-the-water bungalows and people, but it is also the most exotically beautiful of the islands.

Moorea’s over-water rooms are worth the splurge.

It’s hard to beat Moorea’s tranquility.

Huahine is unspoiled and historic. 52 | York Life November December 2017

A visit to French Polynesia reveals a tranquil, reserved haven that has been enchanting people since the European explorers started arriving in the early 1500s. Five chains of 118 islands cover a fairly wide swath in the southern Pacific Ocean, spread out over 2,000 kilometres, on about the same latitude as Lima, Peru. The islands are autonomous, yet administered by France as a “collective,” with those ties going back to the mid-1800s. Like Hawaii, the biggest island’s name has come to denote the whole region. The capital city of Papeete is your international jumping-off point via Air Tahiti Nui. Enjoy Island Hopping Unlike typical sunny locales, there aren’t a ton of all-inclusives in French Polynesia, nor is it the type of place you pick just one spot and stay there the whole time. You need to island hop, so your visit becomes less of a beach rest and more of an adventure. Your first stop should be the tranquil island of Moorea, just a half-hour ferry ride north of Papeete. Close enough to the big island but still rather isolated, this is a small community where you’ll get your first lesson in slowing down — the maximum speed limit is 60 km/h — and your first taste of the over-water bungalow experience.

While they are more expensive, over-water rooms are worth the splurge, as well as larger and more lavish than they look from the outside. Their biggest benefit is the fact that you don’t really have to leave your room, because you can see everything from your deck: the lagoon, the ocean, the beach, the boats. You can even watch the fish swim under your cabin through the window in the floor — when you’re not snorkeling, that is. Just add room service and a good book. Take In History and Culture Moorea is famous for its two magnificent bays — Cook’s and Opunohu — with Secret Mountain sitting between them, long considered sacred, the bottom of it ringed with temples and shrines. Also found throughout this and most regions of French Polynesia are maraes: stone monuments where the elders of the ancient tribes would come to talk religion, politics and business. Twenty minutes by plane farther north sits Huahine, a two-island grouping, one of the most authentic communities in the region. Unspoiled and more reflective of true Polynesian life, with a history that predates both Hawaii and Fiji, this is the place to learn about the past while immersing yourself in the present. Huahine is a bit of an artist enclave, with a

Huahine, a two-island grouping, is one of the most authenic communities in the whole region. It’s also a bit of an artist enclave with a slightly bohemian vibe.

slightly bohemian vibe. It’s also great value: the top spot for finding alternative accommodations like family home-stays, hostels and smaller hotels. A visit to the museum at Maitai Lapita Village uncovers the history of the Lapita people, the pre-Polynesian ancestors. Ancient pottery shards from 1500 BC, wooden and whalebone sculptures and tools, tinted engravings, 19th-century photographs, reproductions of war clubs, fishing lures and jewellery all help illustrate early life here. You will also learn that Polynesian culture in general is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with people now embracing their history, getting back to their roots and reviving their culture — tattoos included. The hos– pitality industry champions this in a number of ways, with traditional cuisine and entertainment, and with coral nurseries established to encourage reef rejuvenation. Get More Social The next stop? Bora Bora, “the pearl of the Pacific.” With a larger lagoon comes more hotel chains with more over-water bungalows and more people. But that doesn’t take away from the experience; it just makes things a bit more social. Bora Bora is also the most exotically beautiful — shades of aqua too numerous

for your eye to properly process, big Mount Otemanu looking down on you, seemingly taking everything in. Lagoon cruises will take you out to snorkel coral gardens, feed giant stingrays and swim with black point and lemon sharks, all before sitting down to a barbecued lunch on a private island set on picnic tables in the shallow water, while ukuleles play and palm trees sway. As for your fellow adventurers, you’ll soon start seeing familiar faces in the airport lounges and get chatting with those who seem to be following you around. In general, this is a well-travelled bunch. Naturally, the French love this place. And it’s not just those who have money; many middle-class French families flock here, happy for the easy kinship their passports and common language allows. Mix in the Japanese, Americans and Canadians and you’ve got a melting pot. Peak season is from March to October, with May and June being the driest. Avoid the rainy season, from November to January, when it can rain for three weeks straight. In the end, is it worth the eight-hour flight from Los Angeles? A thousand times yes. You thought it was farther, didn’t you? So does everybody else.

This Bora Bora view doesn’t get tiresome.

How to Get There The capital city of Papeete has the only international airport. Air Tahiti Nui ( flies there in eight hours from Los Angeles up to five times a week. All French Polynesia domestic flights are run by Air Tahiti (airtahiti. com), which flies to 46 islands in the five archipelagos, as well as to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

York Life November December 2017 | 53

travel | Smarts

Just Plane Dirty

Good, clean advice on how to stay healthy during your flight BY DOUG WALLACE How many times has this happened to you? You have a fabulous vacation or weekend away, then immediately feel as if you’re getting a cold the minute you step off the plane. Was it the woman with the runny nose in the seat next to you? Did you pick something up from the beverage trolley? Or, were you just run down and overly susceptible? Whatever the cause, here are 10 tips to protect your health in flight. 1. Accept the fact that your hands are going to be filthy throughout the airplane experience — from security, the waiting area, the handle of the baggage cart and more. You need to considerably step up your handwashing. 2. From the second you board the plane until you are at your final destination, never ever touch your face. Even though you washed your hands before you boarded, keep fingers out of your eyes, nose and mouth — particularly if you are one of those licky pageturners. 3. Immediately upon boarding, wipe down arm rests and your tray table — especially the latch — with a disinfecting towelette. Include the air-vent nozzles and the seat belts; no one ever cleans those. If you get looks from your seatmates, offer them a towelette. You’ll be surprised how many will accept. 54 | York Life November December 2017

4. The seat pocket in front of you is a cesspool of germs. Never put anything in it. Avoid over-handling anything that is already in the seat pocket. Do not take the free magazine with you when you deplane — do not even touch it. 5. Put all carry-on luggage in the overhead bin, leaving the space under the seat in front of you for just your feet. This will help stave off deep vein thrombosis. Loosen your shoes so your feet can swell freely. 6. Speaking of which, if you take off your shoes, put on a second pair of socks. Why? The floor is germy beyond belief. Never go the lavatory without shoes. 7. Speaking of which (again), use the anti-bacterial gel instead of the soap and water in the lavatory. Bring a small bottle of your own to use once you’re back at your seat.

8. Only drink water you can see is coming from a bottle. (The ice is okay.) Never drink the coffee or tea, regardless of how good it smells. The water holding tanks on airplanes are seldom cleaned or replaced. Bring your own litre of water. 9. Staying healthy also includes sleeping well. A neck pillow and ear plugs go without saying, but throw on an eye mask as well. Keep sleep aids simple: melatonin, an anti-nausea treatment (check with your doctor before taking any medications). Alcohol just tends to make an in-flight sleep more fitful, so try to keep that to a minimum. 10. Worried about in-flight air quality? Don’t be. The ventilation systems do their jobs extremely well. Not convinced and still dabbing antibiotic ointment in the nostrils? You can stop: It’s a myth.



for the


When you’re looking for a gift for that special someone, consider going beyond the mainstream stores with massproduced items and look closer to home for something as unique as your recipient-to-be. After all, York Region is home to countless creative people, like the members of the York Region Handcrafted Maker’s Association. While this group of talented local artisans create an incredible array of handmade treasures all year long, their holiday offerings are extra special. Here’s a sampling. BY SUE KANHAI PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM CRAIGMYLE



York Region Handcrafted Maker’s Association

Handcrafted Christmas Market Interested in joining? To be a member, you simply need to make your crafts by hand and live in the area. New members and sponsors are always welcome.

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 Newmarket Old Town Hall 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $2 or a food donation

York Life November December 2017 | 55

feature | Gifts


Soft Touch

Canadiana pillows from Blue Lake & Rocky Shore Artist: Jillian Bache, Richmond Hill Gingham Moose Pillow Cover, $45 Birch Trees Pillow Cover, $50


On a String

Embroidered ornaments from ThreadXLove Artist: Stephanie Gauthier, Newmarket Small Hoops, $30Medium Hoops, $40

56 | York Life November December 2017


Sign of the Times


Let It Shine

Wooden sign from Rustic Hustle Artists: Leigh Gordon and Kyryl Tsymbal, Oak Ridges Holiday Sign, $45.99

Candle holders from A Cut Above Woodcrafts Artist: George Jazzar, Aurora Three Applewood Tea Light Candle Holders, $45


In Print

Under Wraps

Blanket from Winter’s Woolies Artist: Winter Mitchell, Keswick Chunky Knit Blanket, $125


Fine art digital print from Karen Hoepting Art Artist: Karen Hoepting, Markham Woodlands Animals Art, Paper GiclĂŠe, $115


Get Crafty

Holiday ornament kits from NV Craft Co. Artist: Natalie Viecili, Maple DIY Tiny Toque Garland, $16 DIY Collage Ornaments, $16

10 My Type

Holiday art from Ink and Dirt Designs Artist: Karen Jansen, Markham Frosty the Snowman Print, Typography, $18.94


Child’s Play

Fleece toys from Sew Shenanigans Artist: Meghan Larkin, Newmarket Handmade Fleece Penguin Family, $65


In Stitches

Embroidered ornaments from La Petite Stitcherie Artist: Ariane Griffiths, Keswick Star, Stocking and Poinsettia Ornaments, $10 to $25


Season’s Greetings

Cards from YFL.Art Artist: Yolanda Fernandes Ly, Vaughan Christmas Card Set, Assorted Hand-Illustrated, Watercolour, $6.20


Make Arrangements

Ceramic floral arrangements from Flower-Girl Artist: Tracey Paul, Newmarket Red, White and Green Floral, $75 Blue and White Floral, $45

York Life November December 2017 | 57


Transformation How one Stouffville mom turned to nutrition to cope with loss and wound up in a healthier place BY KINJAL DAGLI SHAH

58 | York Life November December 2017


ristine Peacock and her husband, Patrick, were looking forward to a family life filled with playdates and nightly routines after their third daughter was born five years ago. But eight weeks later, the vision was shattered. Patrick had been complaining of severe stomach pain and was advised by their family doctor to get a colonoscopy. “The doctor was expecting him to have Crohn’s or colitis. Instead, at 39 years of age, he was at stage three of colon cancer,” recalls Kristine, an elementary school teacher in Stouffville. “I remember carrying our baby in her little bucket seat into the hospital for Patrick’s appointment. When the doctor told me, I was in a state of shock, and the secretary had to help me carry the seat back to my car.” Between chemotherapy sessions for Patrick and postpartum recovery, Kristine was experiencing migraines, hair loss and anxiety. She quickly realized that she had to look after herself so that she would be able to give her husband the best possible care. “I couldn’t afford a personal trainer, but I took the chance to audition for a 10-week fitness contest hosted through a daytime show on CityTV,” she says. “I ended up getting selected as a contestant.” Armed with a clean-eating diet and a personal training plan as part of the contest, Kristine garnered renewed energy to help her husband, realizing this new routine helped her cope with stress. “When the series ended and the cameras stopped rolling, I continued learning and transformed myself into a health nut and fitness enthusiast,” she says. She also took cooking classes to boost her nutritional knowledge. “By then, my husband was eating very little, so I wanted to make the tiny amount going into his body extra-powerful.” Despite those efforts, Patrick passed away in 2014, two years after his diagnosis. Kristine’s passion for health and fitness, however, only intensified. “I lost Patrick,” she says, “but I wanted to protect my kids from their genes with the help of good nutrition.” She also began to think about a career in nutritional counselling, something she had discussed with Patrick in the days before his death. “He was worried that a career change would make us financially unstable,” she says,

York Life November December 2017 | 59

“but at the same time, he also encouraged me to keep the passion going and to move forward in life personally as well as professionally.” Kristine believes her late husband blessed her by offering her closure and she was eventually able to move on. “I found a new partner in Darren, who took a chance on me, a young widow with three kids,” she says. “He encouraged me to follow my heart, and I revisited my desire for a career in nutrition. I pursued an online degree as a culinary nutrition expert and launched Meals That Matter soon after.” Meals That Matter offers cooking classes, salad parties, corporate lunch-and-learn sessions and a blog with healthy recipes. A big part of Kristine’s dream — and Patrick’s legacy — is to heal people through nutrition. “We don’t know what causes cancer and it’s no one’s fault. We can’t control the environment, but we can control what we put into our bodies. It’s my calling to help other people maintain good health,” says Kristine, who continues to work full time as a teacher, occasionally incorporating her love for nutrition into her work. “I did a little cooking class with my students and we learned to make veggie rice wraps and homemade pizza. I later received notes from the parents as well as some of the children thanking me for inspiring them to eat healthy.” Kristine views herself as a wellness coach who inspires healthy living. Her nutrition philosophy is to eat whole, organic, unprocessed, local foods without counting calories. “I want to teach people, especially busy mothers, how easy it can be to provide a family with nutritious and delicious foods that promote optimal health. Food is the medicine to prevent or cope with illness.” 60 | York Life November December 2017

Recipes From Kristine’s Kitchen

Quinoa, Fruit & Lentil Salad 3 cups quinoa, cooked 1 apple, diced ¼ cup green onion, sliced 14-oz can lentils ¼ cup dried cranberries ¼ cup walnuts 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp cayenne pepper In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, apples, onions, lentils, cranberries and nuts. In a small bowl or Mason jar with lid, whisk together oil, vinegar and spices. Drizzle dressing over quinoa salad and gently toss to combine and coat ingredients evenly. Serve immediately, or make ahead and refrigerate — it travels well. Makes 6 servings.

Zucchini & Fennel Soup 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 3 medium zucchini, chopped ½ sweet onion, chopped ½ bulb fennel, chopped 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth Heat oil in a large skillet or soup pot with zucchini, onion and fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft. Purée soup in a blender or use an immersion blender. Serve immediately. Makes 3 servings.

York Life November December 2017 | 61

feature | Business Profile

A Beautiful Mind

Shawn Solomon has found success by making clients feel good about themselves — through and through BY JOANN MACDONALD | PHOTOGRAPHY BY NAOMI HILTZ


hen you think about empowering women, chances are cosmetic injectables don’t spring to mind. But Shawn Solomon, owner of Thornhill Skin Clinic, believes that whatever we can do to help ourselves feel confident is a good thing. “I love helping women feel strong and beautiful,” Solomon says. “What we feel is what we see.” Clearly there’s a demand for her services. When it opened in 1994, Thornhill Skin Clinic occupied one 386-square-foot unit at its current Yonge Street location. In 2005, the clinic expanded to one more unit. Ten years later, Solomon added a third unit. Now, voted the Top Medical Spa in Vaughan for 2017, the clinic is in need of another unit — space for storage and in-house staff training — that she hopes to have next year.

62 | York Life November December 2017

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feature | Business Profile

What’s behind her ongoing success? Commitment to customer satisfaction. “We are result oriented, and therefore each client is set up with a customized program, specifically tailored to their needs,” Solomon says. “Our clientele retention is close to 90 per cent, because we foster the relationships that we build. We don’t sell, we fix. I do believe this not only makes us different, but it defines us.” Solomon works with nine staff members, providing services such as Botox Cosmetic injections, injectable fillers, acne treatments and skin rejuvenation. “You tell me what bothers you and I tell you how to fix it,” she says. But only if she agrees. “If it isn’t reasonable or safe, we just won’t do it. Our reputation is everything. If we can’t get onto the same page, then we are not the right place for that patient.” Although she has an obvious passion for her career, Solomon says she fell into it while studying for a master’s degree in economics at the University of Toronto in 1993. Alone and pregnant with her first child, she did manicures and pedicures to make ends meet. She brought in decent pay until nail salons started popping up everywhere. So, she got a job as a receptionist in a plastic surgeon’s office and was eventually invited to train in skin care. She’s been hooked ever since. Based on volume and training, Solomon is recognized as a platinum-level injector — the second-highest level — by Allergan, the distributors of Botox and Juvéderm facial filler, both among the most popular treatments at the clinic. Add to that list photo rejuvenation, microneedling, laser hair removal and PRP, aka the vampire facelift. Solomon has been doing the last procedure for a decade, but says, “It’s hot right now, since Kim Kardashian did it.” Clients are typically women over 35, but the clinic is seeing an increasing number of men, who now make up more than 12 per cent of clients. Many come for Botox and laser hair removal. “Lasers are not the same as they were 10 years ago,” Solomon says. “The delivery system has improved dramatically. When the pain-free laser came, men were happy.” Women, accustomed to the pain of older lasers, often question if the laser is working. Solomon says new clients often feel bad about themselves. “The common [complaint] is, ‘This wasn’t here two weeks ago,’” she says. “Aging really is a slow transition, and it’s only when we notice something, it gets on our radar.” A paramedical esthetician, Solomon

64 | York Life November December 2017

Shawn Solomon’s expertise in injecting, combined with an honest and caring approach to customer service, has earned Thornhill Skin Clinic the Top Medical Spa in Vaughan award for 2017 and resulted in business that keeps on growing. ”One of the biggest things that I’ve loved about the past few years of my growth is that I’m able to spend more time with people,” Solomon says.

says there’s also a therapy aspect to her relationships with clients. “It’s not always about cosmetically what we’re doing for you. One of the biggest things I’ve loved about the past few years of my growth is that I’m able to spend more time with people.” She also enjoys connecting with people outside of the clinic and believes that giving back to her clients and the community is the true measure of success. In 2016, deeply touched by a four-year-old girl who had received a heart transplant, she funded a professional video to help bring light to heart disease and defects in children. She continues to spearhead fundraisers for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She is a supporter of Imagine a Cure for Leukemia, Maccabi Canada and Colon Cancer Canada.

A mother of four, Solomon has sponsored two baseball teams through Thornhill Baseball Club. She celebrates her community with an annual Give Back event each December. “This event is a customer-focused holiday party to say thank you to our amazing clients and community,” she says. “At last year’s event, we gave away over $10,000 in treatments and products. Food Dudes was in the house to cater, and the swag bags were full of goodies to keep our beauties smiling after the night had ended.” In the end, keeping people smiling is what it’s all about for Solomon, who believes the most important service the clinic provides is helping people feel better in a holistic way. “I think women should build each other up, not knock each other down.”

York Life



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York Life November December 2017 | 65

one last thing

GET SET! You’ve planned, made lists, shopped, sliced, diced, roasted and baked, so make sure you do all of that work justice by showing it off on a beautifully set table. And that doesn’t have to mean fancy — cheery touches of seasonal colours plus a dash of fun make the difference between place setting and place sensational. So bring on the layers, ornaments and, of course, food, family and friends. Happy holidays! Metallic Flatware (20-piece set), $59.99; Table Runner With Tassels, $16.99; available at selected HomeSense stores. 66 | York Life November December 2017

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York Life Markham Nov/Dec 2017  
York Life Markham Nov/Dec 2017