Lifestyles Magazine Midland ~ March April 2018

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Quest For The Perfect Diet Healing Powers of Temazcals

Travellers Check Your Health Risk Easy Weekend Home Improvements

Lifestyles Green Living Online April 9!

Out & About MARCH

10 Mon


17 Sat

Artists Expression for Autism March 10, 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm Gayety Theatre, 161 Huronia St., Collingwood Cost: $60 to $100 Event website: An incredible night to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorder. Platinum Blonde’s Rob Laidlaw will be performing with Eli Young, the inspiration behind this amazing event. Best voices of that era featuring Rob Laidlaw, Gord Deppe from the Spoons, and Gary Brown. Other performances by Barbara Lynn Doran, Sofia Blu and Fun Cam.

27th Annual Sweetwater Harvest Festival March 17 & 18, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Wye Marsh, 16160 Highway 12 East, Midland Cost: $10, Family (2 adults, 2children) $30 Event website: Escape to a time when maple syrup was made over an open fire, experience our history and explore nature at its best. The festival celebrates the history of maple syrup, and the role it plays in our cultural and natural heritage. Sweetwater is not your average maple syrup festival. Yes there are sugar shack tours, pancakes and taffy tasting, but there is so much more to the weekend long festival. There are birds of prey talks, kids games & activities, woodcarving demos and of course chickadee feeding. If you purchase your tickets online prior to the event you will enjoy less wait time upon arrival!


14 Sat

A Fool’s Errand 14 April, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm Georgian Theatre, 1 Georgian Drive, Barrie Cost: $23.00 Event website: Phone: 705-739-4228 What does this character do after his show is over? Find new audiences of course! A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step... on a banana peel, having his pants fall down, losing his hat and 60 minutes later, he still has not reached the door...

Visit our Events Page online to find more great winter events &

contents MARCH APRIL 2018



VOL 2 NO 2

In this Issue 4 Out & About 6 What Is A Smart Home? 7 Transform Bathrooms With Technology 12 Maintain Indoor Air Quality All Year 13 Kitchen Renovation? Hire a Designer 14 How Youngsters Can Go Green 15 Trends For Administrative Professionals 16 Pros & Cons Of Connected Cars 20 Give Thai A Try 21 Choosing Materials For Decking is published six times a year by YouLink Inc. Contact us at info@lifestylesmagazine. ca and visit us at All rights reserved. Letters to the editor are invited. Please send letters to Reproductions of any article, photograph or artwork without specific written permission of the publisher is strictly forbidden. The information contained in may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior wrtten permission. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. The options expressed in are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the publisher or advertisers. YouLink Inc., 3-200 Memorial Avenue, Suite 104, Orillia ON. L3V 5X6

Quest for the Perfect Diet Healing Powers

of Temazcals

10 Travellers Check Your Health Risk

18 Easy Weekend




coverpic More Winter To Come!


Kevin P. Banks Publisher 705 716 1308

R. Brock Weir Group Publisher/Editor 705 330 2262

Linda Laforge Production | Creative | Design 705 728 6218

6 healthy, happy, balanced life

What is a smart home?


efrigerators that inform their owners when it’s time to buy more eggs and thermostats that learn homeowners’ heating and cooling preferences may once have seemed like futuristic ideas straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, such products are no longer a dream but a reality. The term “smart home” refers to a residence that has appliances, HVAC, lighting, entertainment systems, security, and many more devices that communicate with one another. Such devices can be controlled remotely. Proponents of smart home technology say features can help people save money on utilities and conserve natural resources, all the while providing peace of mind to homeowners. In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide. That marks a 64 per cent increase from 2015, according to the research data firm IHS Markit. The smart home trend is only expected to grow in coming years. Although there’s interest in smart home technology, the industry remains fragmented. Consumers are trying to figure out which devices are simply fun and which provide practical benefits. Furthermore, the range of smart devices is expanding rapidly, making potential compatability issues a concern. Companies that plan to educate consumers further about the

Home security

Wi-Fi enabled doorbells with video capabilities allow residents to see who is at the door without having to open it. Cameras can even be accessed remotely, simulating that someone is at home at all times. Never wonder if you’ve locked the door again with smart locks that can be engaged via a smartphone. Make sure that homes are secured or that pets are behaving while out with smart cameras.

Flood sensor advantages of smart home features and are open to standardization may have the best chances of survival. Those interested in dabbling in some smart home technology and testing the waters may want to start with the following household items.

Smart bulbs

Manufacturers offer various types of smart light bulbs. Some are color-changing, others react to doorbells or alarms, and others can simulate typical lighting patterns when homeowners are away. Integrated apps enable remote access to scheduling so people can arrive home to a welllit house.

Get peace of mind against damaging floods with Wi-Fi flood sensors.


A new breed of smart appliances can make it possible for users to turn on the washing machine while out of the house, close refrigerator doors from afar or even start their vacuum cleaners remotely. Smart technology is taking over and is likely to continue changing the way people live and work.

Check out Lifestyles Spring Home online for more

healthy, happy, balanced life 7

Transform bathrooms with technology


echnology is infiltrating every room of the house. Many new home buyers are millennials, and this tech-savvy demographic covets technological innovations. A recent survey by Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate indicates 77 per cent of Generation X and Y home buyers want their homes equipped with the tech capabilities they have grown accustomed to. Many of these involve smart innovations, including those that can transform one of the most private rooms in the house — the bathroom. Automated home theatre rooms and Wi-Fienabled home security systems have become the norm, but what tech improvements are available to make the powder room more in touch with today’s digital lifestyle? According to the home improvement resource The Spruce, bathrooms have the most potential of any rooms to be improved with technology. The following are just some of the bathroom gadgets and gizmos no one should resist before giving a try.

from becoming infested with germs. In addition, faucets with built-in timers can be programmed to set tasks for brushing teeth or washing your face.

Automatic faucets

High-tech toilets

Infrared sensors have been helping keep public restrooms more hygienic for years. The same technology can be used in home bathrooms to curtail water waste and keep faucets and sinks

Musical shower

Instead of having to blast the volume on the portable speaker you use in the bathroom, a wireless speaker is built into some showerheads. This enables those who like to sing in the shower or listen to podcasts while washing up to enjoy this luxury effortlessly.

Smarter weight management

Bathroom scales have gone high-tech as well, with various options enabling users to measure weight, BMI and body fat percentage before sending the data wirelessly to a phone, tablet or computer. This can put you in greater control of fitness goals. Borrowing ideas from bidets and trends around the world, modern toilets do not require hands or paper. These toilets have temperature-controlled water, spritzing wands and air dryers to clean and

sanitize. Self-cleaning toilets help busy professionals save time and are ideal for those who always want their bowls as clean as possible. And if you desire extra comfort, toilet seat warmers are available, while LED lights can make nighttime restroom visits easier.

Soaking tubs

As fast as stand-alone showers were introduced to the modern bathroom, tubless designs have been replaced with streamlined soaking tubs. Tubs come with different features, including chromatherapy, which employs colored lights to enhance mood. Air baths are controlled electronically and provide different levels of sensation for those who are skipping the hot tub. Round out these innovations with automated lights, chilled medicine cabinets and aromatherapy, and your bathroom will indeed become a technological spa.

Check out Lifestyles Spring Home online for more

Quest for the PERFECT diet

healthy, happy, balanced life 9


his time of year tends to bring people out of hibernation – we feel more positive, more energized and ‘lighter’. It’s also that time where many of us feel the ‘urge to purge’ – clean up our homes, and shed that extra winter layer off our midsection! But how do we tackle this goal? Which dietary approach should we follow? Is there such a thing as the perfect diet? The answer is YES, but each one of us has their own perfect diet based on our genetics, age, hormones and specific goals, which also means that our perfect diet is one that changes with age and our current health. So it’s not really an easy answer is it? To make matters even more complicated, each of us has HUNDREDS of different colonies of bacteria that live in our guts (our microbiome), which also contributes to why we’re all unique and respond differently to different diets. So where do we begin? Let’s dissect a few of the popular dietary trends and weigh the pros and cons!

Paleo Diet

Otherwise known as the ‘cave-man diet’, this approach focuses on eating like our ‘paleolithic ancestors’. There is an emphasis on whole foods such as vegetables, meat, nuts, seeds and fruit in moderation. This diet avoids dairy products and grains. PROS – most people can benefit from limiting processed foods and sugars. The focus on

consuming ‘whole foods’ in their most natural state is sound advice and generally leads to weight loss and an improvement in energy level. CONS – can feel limiting for some individuals. Not everyone needs to completely eliminate all grains or dairy from their diet in order to feel great.

Ketogenic Diet

This diet follows a low-carb and high-fat approach to eating and forces the body to burn fat instead of sugar as a fuel source. The body produces ketones (from breaking down fat) which become a source of energy for the brain and tissues. This diet has been used clinically for over a hundred years to treat specific health conditions like epilepsy. PROS – the North American diet is generally very high in sugars and carbohydrates. Eliminating these can benefit a variety of chronic health concerns such as obesity and diabetes. Research is also looking into the positive benefits on brain health. Increasing healthy fats in the diet is very satisfying, so individuals find they have fewer cravings and generally are able to go longer between meals. CONS – This can be a tough diet to follow, and is often not recommended without medical supervision. There are many ‘versions’ of the keto diet and not are equally healthy. A distinction needs to be made in the QUALITY and TYPE of fat that a person is consuming, as not all fats promote good health

Paleo Tortilla Soup 4 large skinless chicken breasts OR 8-10 skinless chicken thighs 1 large can of diced tomatoes (fireroasted are best if you can find them) 1 carton organic chicken broth (1L) 1 onion, diced 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced (sub hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne) 1 green bell pepper diced 4 cloves of garlic, minced 1 TBSP chili powder 1 TBSP smoky paprika 1 TBSP cumin Sea Salt & fresh cracked Pepper to taste Olive oil 3-4 cups water Optional Garnishes– avocado, fresh tomato, green onion, cilantro Variation. If you want to increase the veggie content, add 2 diced carrots and 2 celery during the sautéing phase! If you’re not strictly paleo and can handle some legumes, go ahead and add some black beans to give it a Tex-Mex feel! Lay the chicken on a baking sheet. Drizzle with

Olive Oil and sprinkle with the chili powder and cumin. Bake at 400 C for 30-40 min (until browned). In the meantime in a large pot sautée the onion, peppers, smoky paprika and garlic for a few minutes until golden. Add tomatoes, broth, water. Bring to a boil and simmer 30min. Remove chicken from oven once cooked and shred with a fork. Add to soup and simmer 5 more minutes. Adjust the flavour if needed. Add chopped cilantro, avocado, green onion and lime as garnish. Enjoy! Crockpot Version. Toss the chicken in a little olive oil and then the spices. In a hot pan sear the chicken 1-2 min. per side and then transfer into the crockpot (this intensifies the flavour). Then add all other ingredients and set your crockpot! Dinner will be ready when you get home – just add the toppings once you serve!

Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

These diets avoid all animal products, which means no meat and often no fish, while vegan diets also avoid dairy (including eggs). PROS – Vegetarian diets are thought to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable choices. With the right selections a vegetarian diet may increase a person’s intake of vegetables, heart-healthy fats and beans (which can lower cholesterol levels). CONS – Just avoiding animal products doesn’t make a diet healthier – some vegetarians may consume an abundance of grains and starches, and not necessarily eat more vegetables. Having knowledge of vegetarian protein sources and possible deficiencies (iron and B12) is key. So how do we choose which approach is right for us? My advice is to experiment and see what feels best in YOUR body. You don’t have to confine yourself to a strict set of rules – perhaps you do best with a combination of two or more of the above approaches? Perhaps you follow a Paleo diet but include some rice and cheese on occasion. Maybe you do well with a low carb high fat approach but include some sweet potato every few days. Studies show that the most successful diets for long-term weight-loss are those that keep simple carbohydrates in check. Any diet that keeps your insulin levels low throughout the day is going to keep your energy levels steady, will keep cravings at bay and will allow you to enter ‘fat-burning’ mode. So pick a diet that focuses on whole foods, adequate protein, plenty of vegetables and a dose of healthy fats! Here’s one of my favourite comforting and satisfying soups! This soup is full of flavour and gives you a full serving of protein to keep your energy up throughout the day. It’s also grain-free and dairy-free for those with food intolerances.

Dr. Anna Falkowski is a Naturopathic Doctor, Wellness Educator & Clinic Director at Vitality for Life Health Center in Barrie, Ontario with a specialty in Women’s Health, Weight-loss and Family Medicine. She is a healthy living advocate passionate about teaching classes and creating online programs for ‘Mom on the Glow’, her wellness blueprint for busy Moms. For more information you can visit www. or

10 healthy, happy, balanced life

the healing powers of Temazcals

Do’s & Don’t’s

• Do arrive early and with an open mind. If you are late once the ceremony starts, you might not be allowed entrance. • Do keep any negative thoughts to yourself, although after, questions are welcomed. • Do keep hydrated and avoid alcohol . • Do eat lightly before and after. • Do wear a bathing suit and wrap if possible. • Do speak up if you feel any discomfort, dizziness or nausea inside the lodge • Don’t wear warm and restricting clothing • Don’t rinse your body over the vat of water, rather step away so that your oils do not contaminate the container.


or many of my 20 years living part of the year in Mexico, I had heard of the healing powers and health benefits of Temazcals. I knew that Temazcals are similar to the sweat lodges used by North American natives, but I had yet to have participated at one. Mostly it was fear of the unknown- how hot would it be? Would I pass out and disgrace myself? Would I feel claustrophobic? And lastly, I worried I would be made to drink a potion that would give me hallucinations I would never recover from. Finally, through the encouragement of friends who said it would help my arthritis, I recently booked a session at Playa Larga, a beach just outside the beautiful city of Zihuatanejo in Guerrero, Mexico. I knew the owner, an amazing woman named Guadalupe (Lupita) Maldonado, and felt confident in her ability to guide me through the process and my fears. Some call her bruja, (witch), or Curandero, (healer) but Lupita prefers to call herself the “mother earth guardian.” By the time the session was over, I was convinced she was all three. I did some research beforehand, feeling that the more I knew, the less nervous I would feel. Temazcal, comes from the Nahuatl word temāzcalli [temaːsˈkalːi] which means house of heat, or possibly from the Aztec term to bathe. The Temazcal is a sometimes round, sometimes rectangular structure, with a small entrance that leads into the cave-like room. Generally made of volcanic rock and cement so that it will not explode in the heat, hot stones are placed in the center of the room or close to an outside wall. Water is added to the rocks throughout the course of the ceremony, which will include chants, songs, and sometimes dance. The compound where the Temazcal I visited was located, is enclosed by a great wooden stick fence, which leads into a beautiful garden with some outbuildings. To begin, Lupita invited the 25 or so participants to join her in a large circle around an alter on the ground. The alter included offerings of flowers, fruit, sage, seeds, corn, rosemary and more, as well as incense burners, but varied from session as to what is available on any given day. My friend Franco, an experienced participant at Temazcals, (and who I kept glued to my side), explained that the ceremony was to give thanks for our food, for the wind, fire and rain. Lupita spoke eloquently on the importance of allowing ourselves to rid ourselves of our negative thoughts, and embrace the goodness of mother earth. She invited us to find our shadows in the sunlight and explained that without darkness there would be no light. After the prayers, we held hands, sang and danced in a circle. Her words were translated for the benefit of non-Spanish speakers by one of her assistants. Finally, it was time to enter the Temazcal.

healthy, happy, balanced life 11 When it was my turn, Lupita saw my nervousness and instructed me to sit close to the doorway - exactly where I wanted to be in case I needed to make my escape. Inside was a large circular room, and I was surprised to see that it felt open with plenty of room to stand if you wished. People either squatted or sat crosslegged along the walls. I began to breathe easier as Franco explained that heat was hottest on top and if I felt dizzy or simply too warm, I was to lie flat on the ground where it was cooler. And if I needed to leave, I only had to speak loudly and someone would assist me out. All this helped to calm me. Lupita was the last to enter and as the flaps

of the thick Mexican blanket closed behind her, the room darkened. I could still make out the participants dimly via a hole in the ceiling, like the hole in a teepee. This wasn’t bad at all, I thought. The ceremony started with drums, chanting and singing and as water was added to the stones, a lovely smell of herbs consisting of albahaca and rosemary filled the room. Lupita encouraged us to let our emotions go - to cry, laugh, moan, sing or do whatever the feeling moved us to do, just as a baby inside her mother would. After a few minutes, Lupita asked one of her assistants to block the light by placing a round basketlike circle over the hole in the ceiling. All thoughts that the ceremony would be continued in the semi darkness fled as the room immediately went pitch black, a black such as I have never experienced in my life. I closed my eyes to try and meditate as Lupita’s voice rose and fell, and I could hear the breathing of those around me. Someone coughed, and it echoed to a spot behind me, although with my back to the wall I realized it came from the other side of the room. The room was very hot now as more steam was added. Sweat poured profusely from every pore in my body. I rubbed my arms and legs and felt a deep warmth enter my bones. I flexed my fingers, which over the last few months had been stiff, and could feel them closing into a semi fist. After the session, which lasted about 45 minutes, we left the Temazcal into the gardens where Lupita wrapped each of us in white sheets. We were then led to lie like mummies on straw

mats under a palapa, (women on one side, men on the other), to rest and restore ourselves. After about 15 minutes we were given a delicious hot tea, a secret recipe of over sixteen herbs and spices. It crossed my mind (briefly) that perhaps this was the drugged tea I so feared, but was assured by Lupita’s daughter it was simply “tea.” Although at this point I no longer cared. I re-entered the Temazcal a second time that day, and felt very proud of myself for conquering my fears. After the second session, we were invited to line up to pour water over our bodies to wash off the oils and sweat accumulated on our skin. It felt wonderful! When we had finished cleansing ourselves, Lupita sat on a low stool, her knees apart. Individually we were instructed to sit on the ground with our backs to her, while she washed us as if we were newborn babies. This was to symbolize rebirth. The water from this vat smelled different, and I found out later it too was infused with herbs.

continued online at

Elisabeth AsheDirmeitis is a former TV and radio talk show show host and media sales executive who has lived and worked in Mexico for 20 years. Her accomplishments include five novels, Mexico News Daily journalist and current owner of Three Wishes B&B, Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Crazy about horses, she loves to participate in Extreme Cowboy Competitions and Natural Horsemanship Clinics.

12 healthy, happy, balanced life

Maintain indoor air quality all year long


illions of people anxiously anticipate the arrival of spring. Months spent cooped up indoors as temperatures outside dip below freezing can take their toll, and those first warm, sunny days of spring can be just what people need to kick the winter blues. Winter can be dreary for people confined to indoors as temperatures drop, and poor air quality in a home can add to that dreariness while adversely affecting individuals’ health. Air quality tends to suffer most in winter, but there are ways to ensure the air inside a home stays healthy all year long.

Inspect and address any sources of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odourless gas that can contribute to poor indoor air quality and a host of health problems if it goes undetected in a home. Potential sources of CO in a home include improperly vented natural gas appliances, such as stoves and water heaters, gas-powered tools that are used indoors, clogged chimneys, or blocked heating exhaust vents. Men and women can periodically inspect potential sources of CO and address any issues they find while also making sure all CO detectors are properly installed and functioning optimally.

Inspect HVAC ducts

about the quality of air in their homes also can avoid scented products, such as air fresheners and scented detergents, which the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes may release volatile organic compounds into the air.

Ductwork is used to deliver warm or cool air in homes with heating and air conditioning systems. Much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to the duct surfaces without ever entering living spaces. Homeowners should consider Inspect bathrooms for mould growth having their ducts cleaned if an inspection uncovers substantial visible Mould can grow on surfaces that are routinely wet, and that makes poorly mould growth. In addition, the EPA recommends homeowners consider ventilated bathrooms common sources for infestations. Mould can adversely cleaning if ducts are infested with vermin or clogged with excessive affect indoor air quality when spores are released, potentially triggering amounts of dust or debris. allergic reactions, asthma attacks and respiratory conditions. After bathing in bathrooms without vents, men and women can open windows so the Avoid chemical cleaning products room dries before mould can grow. In bathrooms with vents, make sure Chemical cleaning products may be great at disinfecting dishes, countertops vents are running during baths and showers and afterward until ceilings, and other areas in the home, but such items may be toxic and adversely affect walls and floors appear dry. indoor air quality. For example, chemicals such as bleach and ammonia, Poor indoor air quality can be easily addressed to ensure individuals stay which are used in many commercial cleaning products, can linger in the healthy throughout the year. air, irritating the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Homeowners concerned

Check out Lifestyles Green Living [online April 9th] for more

healthy, happy, balanced life 13

Kitchen Renovation?

Hire a Designer


e-modeling a kitchen is one of the largest investments you will make in your life. It is the most design sensitive and intricate room in your home and working with a kitchen designer will ensure the outcome is functional, efficient, safe and beautiful. Every detail counts. There is a lot to know so save time and hassle and avoid the pitfalls and disasters that can occur during a renovation by learning some of the strategies to help you in your quest. From hiring the right kitchen designer, to developing a budget, to planning your project and most of all, living through it!

Find Your Perfect Relationship

Choosing a designer to work with is as important as choosing your finishes and your budget. A good way to find the perfect designer for you is to ask your friends and family or other local companies and contractors if they have any recommendations. Don’t hesitate to ask the designer for references and call those references. After all you are hiring them for a job. Some questions to ask. Did the project start and finish on time? Did deliveries and installer show up when they were supposed to? Did the project stay on budget or close to it? Were there any unauthorized changes? Did anything go wrong and if it did how quickly was it resolved? Last but not least, go with your

gut. If you feel like you can’t trust that person, keep looking!

Determine Your Budget

Before starting any major renovation you need to have an idea of what you are willing to spend. A rule of thumb that works for kitchen renovations is to take 10 per cent the current value of your home and use that number as your budget. This budget will need to include cabinetry, countertops, appliances, sink(s), faucet(s), hardware, flooring and paint. Be sure that you receive a written outline of what is included in your quote and that you read it through before signing to make sure it meets your expectations and that there are no hidden surprises. Be wary that spending too little on your renovation could result in decreasing the value of your home and that spending too much does not necessarily mean you are going to get any return on that investment down the road. In other words, don’t overdo it, stay within the value of the home and you can’t go wrong.

Do Your Research

Before you sit down with a designer you need to do some research and make some decisions. You will need to bring a scale drawing of your kitchen showing locations of all the windows,

doors, heating, plumbing, and electrical locations. Measure the whole room to allow the designer a complete picture of the space and the option to change the layout to better accommodate your needs if required. Bring a detailed wish list organized by priority with the most important things at the top. Do you want more storage? Do you need a place for recycling? More counter space? Include an idea folder of pictures, products, materials and details that appeal to you. Also include information on kitchen use such as how many cooks and seating for eating or homework. You will also need to have specifications of the appliances you are planning to incorporate into the kitchen. Redesigning after you have decided on the perfect layout to accommodate a change in appliances is time consuming and will delay the start of a project. Details count and the more information you can give a kitchen designer at the onset of the planning stage the better. You are now armed with the knowledge to help your re-model flow smoothly and with the skills to hire someone who has your best interests in mind. A kitchen designer is your key to making your dream kitchen into reality. So renovate with confidence and peace of mind and let the experts worry about the project details for you. Steven Wright | Briana Lalonde

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How youngsters can go green


hildren often aspire to emulate their parents. Young boys who see their fathers shaving might reach for dad’s shaving cream, while young girls may find their way into mom’s closet in an effort to dress up like their mothers. Kids’ curiosity may be similarly piqued when they see their parents going green. Parents who reduce, reuse and recycle are setting positive examples for their kids, who may inquire about the ways they can follow suit. While going green might not seem like the most kid-friendly activity, there are myriad ways for parents to involve children in their efforts to live eco-friendly lifestyles.

Donate clothing and toys

Children outgrow their clothing pretty quickly. Rather than discarding items kids can no longer wear, parents can take tots along to donation centers or thrift stores to show them how their clothes can be reused. Use this as an opportunity to teach kids how donating or recycling old items cuts down on the need to use natural resources to create new items. Do the same with toys, which kids tend to outgrow almost as quickly as their clothing.

Bike to school

Stay-at-home parents, telecommuters or those who have time to escort their children to and from school can bike to school with their children. Teach them how biking in lieu of driving helps to conserve fuel and how such conservation benefits the planet. If biking is not an option due to weather or distance, parents can organize carpools, teaching kids how traveling together instead of individually helps to conserve fuel.

Avoid plastic water bottles

Plastic water bottles might seem more convenient because they don’t need to be washed after using them, but the environmental organization Clean Up Australia notes that plastic bottles, many of which are derived from crude oil, generate enormous amounts of waste that ultimately end up in landfills. In addition, the transportation of such bottles from factories to store shelves requires the burning of significant amounts of fossil fuels. Take kids along to the store to purchase their own reusable water bottle, explaining to them how they’re doing their part to

protect the planet by choosing reusable bottles over bottled water.

Visit the library

Young children who love to read can borrow books from the library rather than asking mom and dad to purchase their own copies at the bookstore. Explain how borrowing cuts down on the need for paper, which helps preserve forests and reduce waste.

Spend more time in the great outdoors

Many parents want their children to spend more time outdoors and less time on the couch playing video games or watching television. Parents can make an effort to spend more time outdoors with their children engaging in fun activities like hiking, camping or fishing. Such excursions can instill a love and appreciation for nature in youngsters, and that love can compel them to a lifetime of protecting the planet and conserving its resources. Kids who want to follow their parents’ example and go green can do so in various ways, many of which are as fun as they are eco-friendly. Spending time with kids in the great outdoors can instill a love of nature in youngsters that compels them to embrace eco-friendly practices throughout the rest of their lives.

Check out Lifestyles Green Living [online April 9th] for more

healthy, happy, balanced life 15

Workplace trends affecting administrative professionals


xecutives who occupy corner offices tend to get much of the glory for a company’s success. But many professionals know the progress and sustainability of a business tends to lie within the daily services offered by its front line of employees. A number of these seasoned and dedicated workers fall within the category of administrative professionals. Administrative professionals have seen their roles evolve in the changing face of office employment. While some of the more conventional duties that have long been a part of admins’ jobs remain, many now find their roles expanding. Admins who want to stay a step ahead and improve their career opportunities can hone their skills and keep abreast of the changing trends. A survey sponsored by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals zeroed in on what hiring managers said they consider are key motivators for hiring admins. The survey found that organizational skills, initiative and attention to detail are some of the most important qualities for support professionals to possess. They also need to have advanced technical skills, as proficiency in Microsoft Office is just the tip of the iceberg. Some employers now require office professionals be skilled at cloud-based apps, social media, database

regarding how to process invoices can help admins. Flexibility. Admins who can wear many hats are especially attractive candidates to many businesses, as admins may have to fill in for the duties of an office manger or bookkeeper.

management, and even website maintenance. Long gone are the days when filing papers and keeping up on company correspondence filled the bulk of an admin’s day. The following are some skills administrative professionals may need to advance their careers. Excellent written and verbal communication. Being bilingual is an added feather in one’s cap. Industry experience. Knowledge regarding how a specific industry and/or business works can help admin professionals. Customer service skills. A friendly but effective demeanor can benefit admins. Filing/billing. An ability to file and/or create financial reports coupled with knowledge

Thirst for knowledge. A desire to continue one’s education, including involving oneself in various seminars or training sessions particular to the industry, can help admins. Credentials are sought-after and include certification in certain industry standard courses. BYOD trends also are rising among administrative professionals. This means workers are able to bring their own computers or other digital devices to work. Admins may be tasked with establishing protocol for security and maintenance of such devices. Thanks to evolving roles for administrative professionals, outdated job titles are changing and salaries are increasing. According to Salary Guide, the average starting salary across the administrative field increased by 3.4 per cent in 2015 and continues to grow. Current administrative professionals can continue to grow their skill sets and keep current on the training or technologies that can help them advance their careers.

Check out Lifestyles Women Today online for more

16 healthy, happy, balanced life

Pros and cons of connected cars


hile smart cars that can communicate and dial into command centres, provide directions or even blast off back to 1985 were mere concepts 30 to 40 years ago, today automakers have made tech-savvy cars a reality. Cars have become computers on wheels, and there’s seemingly no end to the features that many vehicles are sporting. However, are these connections truly a boon to drivers or a safety bust?

Cars have become computers on wheels, and there’s seemingly no end to the features that many vehicles are sporting. However, are these connections truly a boon to drivers or a safety bust?


Proponents of connected cars say safety features embedded in the vehicles, such as GM’s OnStar platform and similar services for other brands, make a strong case for connected cars. These systems can immediately alert for emergency assistance if there is an accident or if a passenger is unresponsive. The future of other safety features includes vehicles that can sense obstacles in the environment and make modifications to GPS routes based on accidents or road blocks, passing that information on to other cars to create safer conditions. Service centres can use connected cars to digitally diagnose problems and possibly reduce more invasive mechanical measures. Insurance companies can use data pulled from driving habits to determine rates based on safe driving behaviors. Manufacturers can track data such as how optimally a person has driven to develop more efficient vehicles. Another benefit of smart cars is infotainment, which truly takes internet use mobile in every sense of the word. Apps learn drivers’ preferences and can fine tune music, news and other entertainment options to make trips even more enjoyable.


One of the biggest arguments against connected cars is the increased level of distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. A smart car is essentially a smartphone on wheels, which may prompt greater levels of distraction. Another area of concern is security. As cars become more connected to the internet, they can become greater targets for hackers. Researchers have already shown how hackers can take control of the vehicle, forcing them to brake or steer elsewhere. There’s also the opportunity for people to be digitally spied on or for criminals to gain other personal information through driving habits. It seems as though connected cars are here to stay, and drivers must weigh the pros and cons of having this technology at their fingertips when behind the wheel.

Travelling to Paradise? Check Your Health Risk!

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hile vacationing in our version of paradise at the exquisite Decameron Resort, Panama, my husband Jim and I were suddenly thrust into the real concern of needing medical assistance while out of country. Jim had an abscess on our first day. After consulting the Spanish speaking resort nurse we were taxied off to the doctor in the local town. It wasn’t expensive. With cab fare, the $12 doctor fee and prescriptions for what we understood were pain killers and antibiotics, it cost under $85 US. Jim felt it was under control until the following night when the swelling increased, along with more discomfort and pain. We returned to the nurse’s office, where he hoped his abscess could simply be lanced or pierced and drained with a syringe. Once again, the nurse did not speak English well and Jim’s Spanish was limited. This time she brought a doctor into the office who was at the resort. He advised him to go to a Panama City hospital, a two hour drive away for surgery. The words he was able to speak in english were “incision”, “surgeon” and “immediately”. Jim quickly went from minor concern to approaching terrified. We left the nurses office prepared to either take the trip to Panama or book the next flight home. How to decide? We did two things. We asked a local Panamanian his opinion and we searched reviews on local hospitals. That’s when fear kicked in. A Panamanian gentleman strongly advised we go home. The first online review of Hospital Santo Tomás read, “I have travelled through many countries and lived in remote Afghanistan for four years but never encountered care as poor as this…” Fortunately Jim’s abscess broke over night. He continued taking his antibiotics and was able to take

care of his condition when we were home in Canada the following week. This left us with the understanding of how risky foreign travel can be. People tend to exaggerate dangers such as terrorism or exotic diseases like Ebola and minimize common risks like car or bus accidents, malaria or hepatitis. The reality is, anything can happen. So what do we do to secure piece of mind while travelling? Plan your trip so you’re prepared for the possibility you might require medical care abroad.

On the canopy tower that the Rainforest Aerial Tram, Gamboa, Colón, Panama

3. Make sure you have Travel Health Insurance

Check with your credit card company to see if you’re already insured and check the specifics, like if your spouse is covered, for how long and how much. Increase your health coverage if so desired.

4. Travel with all your medication and special needs items

Things like magnesium and travel probiotics can do a lot to ease bloating, pain and other more embarrassing symptoms.

5. Pack your own travel health kit

1. Check Hospital Reviews of your top destinations before booking

If you haven’t settled on where you’re going, this could be the deciding factor!

2. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis B, Cholera and Malaria before you travel. On the Monkey Island Tour in Gamboa, in Soberania National Park of Panama

Call your doctor to book as much as six months before you plan to travel.

A good travel health kit contains enough supplies to prevent illness, handle minor injuries and illnesses, and manage pre-existing medical conditions for longer than the duration of your trip. First aid supplies and medications may not always be readily available in other countries or may be different from those available in Canada. Things like bandaids, hand sanitizer, iodine pads, safety pins and scissors, tweezers for removing ticks or splinters etc, can come in handy when you need them in a pinch, and aren’t cumbersome to carry along on hikes and excursions. Pre-departure planning with assessment of potential disease risks can help prevent illness or injury during your travel abroad. Safe and happy travels! Linda Laforge is a writer and portrait artist residing in Barrie. Find her work at LindaLaforge. com Photos by James Koebel, the

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Give Thai a try as an appetizer or snack Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass and Basil Serves 4 as an appetizer or snack 1/2 cup Basic Chicken Stock (see below) 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn or cut in half (optional) 1/2 cup dry white wine


hai food is a favourite of many people. Unique, flavourful and often spicy, Thai cuisine can be a tasty addition to family menus. Whether you’re hosting friends or simply want to whip up a flavourful snack, the following recipe for “Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass and Basil” from Katie Chin’s “Everyday Thai Cooking” (Tuttle) is sure to please.

1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai, thinly sliced (deseeded if you prefer less heat) 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla) 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar 2 small handfuls, about 1/2 cup, of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped 1 pound fresh mussels, debearded and scrubbed clean 1 clove garlic, minced 2 teaspoons all-purpose cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water Fresh basil leaves for garnish Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish Lime wedges 1. Pour the chicken stock into a wok or large skillet. Add the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to moderately high.

Basic Chicken Stock Makes 2 quarts 2 1/2 pounds boney chicken pieces 3 1/4 inch slices peeled fresh galangal or ginger

2. Add the wine, chili slices, fish sauce, palm sugar, and fresh coriander leaves. Stir to combine. When the sauce is gently boiling, add the mussels. Stir to combine and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

4 garlic cloves, smashed

3. Remove the lid and gently stir in the mussels. If some of them still haven’t opened, put the lid back on and cook 1 more minute.

4 ounces coarsely chopped fresh coriander stems (cilantro)

4. Reduce heat to low and add the garlic and stir gently. Push the mussels to the side of the pan. Add the all-purpose cornstarch mixture to the liquid in the pan, stirring until thickened. Once thickened, stir to combine.

Fill a stock pot two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Add chicken bones and boil for 3 minutes. Pour out the water and rinse the bones. Return the bones to the stock pot. Add the galangal, garlic, lemongrass, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Skim the fat and foam off the top. Add the fresh coriander stems. Simmer uncovered for 2 hours, continuing to skim the foam off the top frequently. Strain and cool before storing in the refrigerator.

5. Remove from heat. Scoop or slide the mussels into a large serving bowl (or individual bowls). Pour the remaining sauce on top. Garnish with basil and fresh coriander leaves. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side. Cook’s note: It’s best to purchase mussels right before cooking, but if bought in advance keep them moist on ice in the refrigerator. Just before cooking, scrub them with a stiff brush under cool running water and trim off beards if they have them. If any are open, tap the shell. If they don’t close tightly, discard them. If they don’t open when cooked, also discard them.

2 stalks lemongrass; use the bottom 6 inches of the stalk with outer leaves removed, smash with knife 2 quarts water

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Choosing materials for decking



arm weather often gives rise to thoughts about spending time in the great outdoors. Decks can expand outdoor living spaces, making them popular home additions. However, when it comes time to map out a deck building plan, individuals may be unsure as to which deck material will meet their needs. Wood and composite decks are among the most popular choices today, and the popularity of aluminum is growing steadily.


Wood is a versatile and attractive decking material. According to the wood resource Real Cedar, some people think that wood is too expensive and requires too much maintenance. In fact, domestic softwoods can be very cost-effective decking options. According to Remodeling Magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report, wood decks retain considerable resale value. In terms of maintenance, choosing a rotresistant wood can result in less maintenance. Durable woods include cedar and redwood. Popular Mechanics says both species contain tannins and oils that make them naturally resistant to decay, rot and voracious insects. Periodic cleaning and inspection/repairs will be needed, but wood can be much more durable than people may think.


Composite decking and its close cousin, plastic lumber, are some of the fastest-growing decking materials on the market. Many products are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. Some composites will be comprised of recycled plastic and wood fibers to create a weather- and stainresistant material that doesn’t warp, rot or splinter. Composite manufacturers continually experiment with manufacturing processes to duplicate the look of natural wood grain. Homeowners are often drawn to composite decking because such decks require little maintenance. These decks do not need to be sanded, stained or refinished. However, mold and mildew can grow in shady, damp areas, so homeowners must realize that these products are not completely maintenance-free.

Although aluminum decks are not seen that often, there are reasons why this decking material is becoming more popular. According to LockDry®, a manufacturer of aluminum decking materials, power-coated aluminum does not need to be replaced due to rotting, cracking or warped boards. Most planks have interlocking edges that create gap-free, watertight decks. Aluminum also has the advantage of being a very strong but lightweight material. Some people may think that aluminum decks would be hot underfoot, but the material actually stays cool in the sun because of its heatdissipation properties. For those who have green goals in mind, aluminum is totally recyclable. Various decking materials can meet the look, price point and maintenance level homeowners desire.

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Complete these home improvements over the weekend


ome improvement projects ramp up when the weather warms up, as homeowners channel the rejuvenating feelings of spring and tackle their home to-do lists. Large-scale renovations can greatly affect a home, but smaller projects can yield impressive results and be completed over the course of a single weekend. If time is of the essence, these weekend or one-day projects may satisfy homeowners’ desires to fix up their homes. Install a fresh light fixture. Improve drab spaces with a little illumination. Better Homes & Gardens suggests replacing an existing fixture with something new and vibrant. If hanging a new fixture is not within one’s skill set, free-standing table or floor lamps also can cast a new glow on a space. Install a new faucet. Instantly improve a kitchen or a bathroom with new fixtures. New faucets can provide aesthetic appeal and low-flow faucets can help conserve water.

Update kitchen or bathroom hardware. Replacing hardware is a fast and easy project, but one that can have immediate impact. Swap out tired or outdated hardware for newer brushed metals and more impactful shapes and designs. Create an accent wall. Painting a focal wall in a home can create a serious impact. The bonus is it will not take as long or require as many materials as painting an entire room. Accent walls frequently feature a bold colour, so decide on placement and tackle this project in less than a day.

Install stair runners. Dress up hardwood stairs with decorative carpet runners. Runners come in elongated pieces of carpeting or individual pieces that can be placed on each step. If carpeting doesn’t fit with the home’s design, painting individual stair treads also can create visual appeal.

Create a gallery on the staircase. Gather and arrange framed photos, artwork or wall accents so that they ascend the wall of a staircase. This creates a designer touch and can dress up an often barren area of wall space. Home renovations do not need to take weeks or months. Many projects can be completed over the course of a weekend.

Add moulding. Moulding can add instant aesthetic appeal to a room. Moulding is appropriate near the floor, at the top of walls where they meet the ceiling, or even midwall as a chair rail. Some homeowners like to create framed molding on walls in formal living spaces.

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Healthier farming & Healthier families


uying and consuming all-natural and organic meat products is beneficial for both your health as well as the planetary well-being. Eating organic and all natural products free from harmful chemicals provides an abundance of sustainable nutrition and taste. It is one step closer towards optimal health and hope for future generations.

Why eat organic and all-natural?

Organic and all-natural meat products naturally loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micro nutrients, generally taste more succulent and rich due to the animals food source, activity level and overall health. Organic and all natural meats are prohibited to be genetically modified in any way throughout their growth and processing. Choosing to eat all-natural meats and organic products is the only way to guarantee that your food is raised appropriately and responsibly. Their diet should be free from harmful additives, chemicals, growth proponents, animal by-products and with minimal or no GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

What is factory farming and why is it harmful?

Factory farming is an intensive, industrial farming practice that has replaced traditional style farming. Animals are mass produced using hormones and antibiotics, treated inhumanely, and slaughtered cruelly. Regulations in these facilities are voluntary and underdeveloped due to the lack of enforcement by Canada’s animal welfare standards. These farming practices are shortcuts to a more cost efficient product; however they come with a terrible cost for both the animals and the consumers. Animals are confined indoors where they are severely crowded or entirely isolated. This unnatural setting leaves the animal with insufficient room to turn around, lie down, groom, or express natural behaviours. These unsatisfactory conditions cause physical and psychological damage to the animals, leading to diseases, ailments, cannibalism, and debilitating stress. Factory farmers treat these preventable health issues by feeding and spraying massive amounts of pesticides and antibiotics into the animal’s feed, which remain in the meat and passed on to the people that consume the

product. An article written by Aidan Hollis, a Professor at the University of Calgary, states that, “the over abundance of antibiotics being used by the agriculture and aquaculture industries is increasingly putting the health of humans at risk”.

Where and how are the animals raised?

Cranston’s Ontario Inc. is a customer centric local company, “Family owned” and “Family oriented”. We believe that “Healthier farming contributes to Healthier families”. We take pride in our commitment to support Local Ontario Farms as well as promoting the importance of healthy food choices in today’s world. Our Farms uphold traditional, wholesome and humane farming practices. Animals are raised without the use of growth proponents (steroids/hormones), or sub therapeutic antibiotic treatments. Our wide selection of products are carefully packaged, inspected and delivered directly to your door. We ensure minimal handling prior to your delivery and keep our premium products affordable. It’s our commitment and our promise.

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