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Six quick cleaning tips to get your home spotless, fast

Chatelaine | posted Thursday, Apr 2nd, 2015

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1. Halt dirt at the source
Rule number one: don’t wear shoes in the house and you’ll exponentially reduce the filth. Set up an area near the front door and line up your kicks with plenty of room for guests’ shoes so they get the idea.

2. Mix your own cleaner
Use an all-purpose cleaner — you can whip up an all-natural version yourself using baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar — and assemble a “cleaning kit” for fast fixes. Include lots of spare rags and a toothbrush for tight spots. Tackle shiny surfaces with your cleaner to make them sparkle (scummy faucets are a turnoff) then wipe down mirrors with wet newspaper for streak-free gleam.

3. Bust dust
Re-usable electrostatic cloths attract dust like a magnet — buy them in bulk and attach them to dry mops in lieu of those pricey disposable cleaning sheets. For an even cheaper solution old dryer sheets also do the trick. Don’t forget to run a cloth over lightbulbs; they will burn brighter and last longer. Dust before hitting the floors with a vacuum cleaner or mop to catch the debris you just unsettled.

4. Rest easy
Always make your bed (it makes getting into it so much nicer). A fluffed duvet can hide a multitude of sins like crumpled sheets. Efficiency expert Donna Smallin, author of the One-Minute Cleaner, advises to keep an extra set of sheets on the box spring for quick changes.

5. Water works
Clean the shower while you’re still in it. Let your conditioning hair mask soak in while you wipe tiles down. Hint: Shampoo and liquid soaps prevent water marks from building up. Use your dishwasher for more than dirty pots and pans. The high heat will disinfect cleaning items like dish brushes and old toothbrushes.

6. Soak it
Don’t scrub what you can soak. Soak a paper towel with a mixture of 2 tbsp baking soda and 4 cups of boiling water. Place over spills in the fridge, close the door and in 20 minutes food residue will be easy to clean up. Donna Smallin’s handy hint for cleaning the microwave: Add some lemon slices to a cup of water and nuke for five minutes. Food and grime will effortlessly wipe away.

How to take care of your aging skin

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Mar 31st, 2015

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Why do we age and how can we fight it?
The environment: You need to protect your skin with sunscreen. It’ll reduce the chances of you getting dark spots, wrinkles and your skin will be in much better condition.
What is happening to your body internally: If you’re healthy it will seep through to your skin. Medications, genes, sickness, etc. can all impact your skin. Behavioural issues: Are you a smoker? Do you drink a lot? Do you do drugs? If yes, all these decisions will play a part in how your skin looks.

What should you do?
You want to exfoliate your skin. The skin is always producing new skin, so the dead skin needs to come off. Sometimes it doesn’t come off naturally, so you need to use something such as a chemical exfoliant or a manual exfoliant to get rid of that skin. If you have dry skin, you can exfoliate your skin less frequently (about every three days), whereas if you have oily skin, you can exfoliate your skin more frequently (about every two days).
Advance your skin care routine. Add a serum and use products that mimic ingredients that are in your skin such as coenzyme q10 and hyaluronic acid. The coenzyme q10 enegizes the skin to produce new skin and turn it over, and the hyaluronic acid locks the moisture in. Adding a serum into your skincare routine is really easy — it goes right after your toner and before your moisturizer in the morning, and before your night cream before bed.
Eat well. What goes into the body, shows on the skin. Drink water and get your servings of vegetables and fruits!

For more tips from Dino, watch the video below:

 		

Jeanne Beker’s Spring Shopping List

LOULOU | posted Thursday, Mar 26th, 2015

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A jean jacket: “A great summer go-to. Team it with a little black dress to give some of the rock-chick edginess, or with a pair of great boyfriend or sexy skinny jeans.”
Jeanne Beker $124.90. Buy online

A great pair of jeans: “Whatever style they are—bell bottoms, skinny legs, stretchy, boyfriend—it’s a perfect pick for getting around every day.”
DG2 by Diane Gilman, $79.90. Buy online

A dress that you love: “Whether that’s a plain, sleeveless number in a nice fabric like ponte that hugs you in all the right places and makes you feel really sexy, or something flowy and romantic and printed, everyone needs at least one new dress for the summer that speaks to the girl in you and lift you right up.”
Eureka by Christos Garkinos $139.90. Buy online

A big, floppy sunhat: “As the weather warms up and the sun starts shining, you definitely want to be protected.”
Jeanne Beker $46. Buy online

Eye-catching shades:  “Every woman needs a great pair of statement sunnies that you’re going to feel really good about wearing.”
Joan Boyce, $59.99. Buy online

A lightweight knit: “Preferably a cardigan. Something that’s going to feel really sumptuous that you’ll be able to mix in a variety of ways.”
Lusso Apparel, $149.90. Buy online

A sexy shoe: “It can be a wedge or something really strappy, as long as it’s a glam one that makes a statement.”
Vince Camuto $175. Buy online

An everyday shoe: “Plain and simple: This one is all about comfort.”
Vince Camuto $130. Buy online 

A bold bauble: “I think a cuff is ultimately empowering, so I’m all about a statement cuff, big bracelet and/or ring. But that’s a personal preference. Some people may prefer a necklace, as long as it really stands out.”
Jeanne Beker $35. Buy online

A printed top or dress: “Choose any feel-good style that’s really going to sing to you.”
Guillaume, $99.90. Buy online

Check out the full gallery at LOULOU

Make tax time less painful with Bruce Sellery’s help

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Mar 24th, 2015

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Let’s begin:

Bruce advises everyone to begin with something sweet: a reward. Whether it’s a glass of wine, chocolates or looking at the new pair of shoes you want, start with that because no one loves doing their taxes but keeping a reward in mind (the tax return and what you can put it toward) may help you reach your end goal.

If you have a little bit of lead time, start with the paperwork. Find and divide your forms and receipts such as T4 slips, investment income slips, receipts for your kids’ activities and charitable contributions, your RRSP contribution receipt, etc.

Bruce suggests keeping on top of these receipts throughout the year as they come in. Keep them in a file or even a shoebox; this will definitely pay off when you are tackling your taxes. For example, if you qualify for the maximum deduction for physical activity, it could be worth $1000 — you don’t want to lose out on that!

Should you pay someone to do your taxes for you, or should you do it yourself?

If you are unsure whether or not you can handle your taxes on your own, there are three variables you need to consider, Bruce says:

  1. Complexity: Can you handle the work by yourself? Is it too complex?
  2. Competency: Do you have the basic skills to do it?
  3. Enthusiasm: Do you not hate it?

If any of the above is an issue, consider hiring an accountant or using an online tax filing service such as TurboTax. The online services are fairly inexpensive, they prompt you to ask questions, and remind you of the papers you need.

What happens if you don’t do your taxes?

If you’re owed money by the government, you won’t get it. If you have a salaried job and they have been withholding tax at source, you may be eligible for a refund but you won’t receive it. And don’t forget about the credits you may qualify for – if you’re unemployed, on maternity leave, or have kids, you may be in line for a refund. Don’t leave that money on the table!

If you owe money and don’t file, the consequences are significant. If you miss the deadline, April 30, by a day, the government immediately levies a 5% penalty on what you owe, plus an additional 1% every month you are late.

The one exception from the penalty is if you have had a significant life event, for example, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness. If so, you must call the CRA, prove it, and see if you can work something out to avoid the penalty.

What if you haven’t filed your taxes for years?

This is the time to say, “I need help,” and call a professional. They will walk you through exactly what’s required so that you can make a payment.

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