Relaxation Techniques for People With Anxiety

It is normal to feel some anxiety in life; it can even be a positive thing in small doses. However, when it becomes a daily occurrence or actually leads to panic attacks and other debilitating moments, this is of definite concern. There are many reasons why anxiety occurs and a therapist is the one best qualified to determine what may behind it. However, there are things you can do on your end to relieve the symptoms of anxiety:

Deep Breaths

When you feel yourself in the grip of anxiety, take several deep breaths. Set aside a few minutes a couple of times each day to practice this technique. Exhale slowly. You should feel your heart rate start to slow down. This can be done anywhere. Close your eyes if it helps you to retain focus.

Exercise

Exercise is good for us on many levels, and it also helps us to relax. It doesn’t have to be very involved; even a simple walk will help. However, if you are motivated to do something more involved and intense, absolutely do so.

Visualization

We all have places that we enjoy and hold fond memories for us. Do you like the ocean? Close your eyes and imagine gentle waves lapping against the shore on a calm summer’s day. Now imagine the sounds that go with it: a calm breeze, the water rhythmically reaching the shore and receding, the sound of seagulls talking to one another down the beach, etc. This sounds like a simple method, but it can be highly effective.

Creativity

Do you like to draw? Paint? Create word games? Doing something that stimulates your creativity can be highly effective at distracting your mind. It also helps you to accomplish something positive at a time when you are feeling unhappy about how life is going.

How and When to Start a Vegetable Garden in Ontario

Living in Ontario means dealing with fluctuating temperatures year-round, which can be a challenge for novice gardeners. But you can still have your own successful vegetable garden if you plan it right and take regular care of your plants. Here’s a starter’s guide to starting a vegetable garden in Ontario.

Size and Location

If you’re new to growing your own food, it’s best to start small. The bigger the garden, the more maintenance it’ll take to keep it healthy. We recommend choosing an area in your yard between 3 and 5 metres square. You can always expand it next year if you find you have a knack for gardening!

Choose a spot where the ground is level to ensure water doesn’t pool at one area of the garden. Vegetables need at least six hours of sun a day, so choose a spot on the southern or western side of your house that gets plenty of light.

It helps if you can pick an area close to your faucet. This will reduce the time it takes to water your garden.

Preparing the Soil

Before you start planting, prepare the soil by raking out stones and pulling weeds. The best soil for gardening is soft, loamy, and rich in nutrients. If you’re planning an organic garden, be sure your soil is organic as well.

Choosing Plants

Ontario has a short growing season, but there are still many vegetables that do well in our climate. Easy beginner plants include tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chard, radishes, peppers, cabbage, lettuce and beets. Pick your favourites, but be sure to have a mind for companion planting. Not all vegetables do well when planted side-by-side.

As a beginner, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether to start from seeds or seedlings. Seeds are less expensive, but they can be a challenge to get going. Buying plants from a nursery costs more, but it gives you a leg-up by eliminating the trouble of germinating the seeds. Planting seedlings also lets you start later in the growing season; seeds need to be in the ground as early as spring.

When to Plant

Here in Ontario, the weather is far too volatile to set strict planting dates. Instead, it’s best to pay attention to the soil temperature and frost when determining when to plant.

Most seeds should be planted a certain number of week before or after the ‘last frost date’, meaning the date after which there’s only a 10% chance of a hard frost. That falls mid to late May for most of southern Ontario, but it can vary year-to-year. The soil temperature can also fluctuate with the weather.

This is another reason seedlings are an easier option for newbies!

Planting

When it’s time to plant, mark your rows with stakes to indicate what kind of vegetable is there and when it was planted. Follow the instructions on the seed packet or card that came with the seedling; otherwise, you can find guidance on how to plant different vegetables on the Farmer’s Almanac site.

Be sure to plant taller plants on the northern and eastern side of your garden plot. Otherwise, they could shade the shorter plants and reduce the amount of sun they get.

If you’re working with seedlings, choose an overcast day but dry day on which to plant. This will reduce the stress on the plants.

Weeding

You should start weeding your garden right away, as they compete with your plants for nutrients and growing space. If you let them grow too much, you risk damaging the roots of your vegetables when you pull the weeds out. Set a regular schedule of once or twice a week, depending on your weed situation.

Weeding is easier on days when the soil is moist, such as the day after rain or watering.

Watering

Most vegetables need 3-4cm of water each week to thrive. You must water your plants several times a week if it doesn’t rain, especially when your plants are young. Small plants have shallow roots, so they can’t reach the moist soil further below the surface.

Always water in the morning or early afternoon. Watering later in the day means the leaves will be wet overnight, which makes them more susceptible to pests and fungal disease.

Mulching

Mulch is a soil cover made from organic material like hay, leaves, peat moss, or grass clipping, Once your plants have reached a height of 10cm or more, you should lay mulch around them. This helps to prevent weeds and cools the soil down to conserve moisture.

Planning a Landscape in 7 Steps

Creating a beautiful landscape takes time.

A landscape should be both beautiful and functional for the people who use it. Home renovation shows make it look easy, but good landscaping takes a lot of time and planning. Before you break ground, be sure you’ve considered each of the following steps in the landscaping process.

1. What Do You Need?

Think about how you plan to use the space. Do your kids need somewhere to play? Are you hoping to start a vegetable garden? How often do you have friends and family over for dinner? These answers should inform the decisions you make regarding your landscape. Don’t forget to consider special needs, such as pollen allergies and the need for wheelchair access.

2. What Do You have?

Many landscaping mistakes occur because the person forgot to consider the space they’re working with. It’s worth the time to study the sun, wind, and drainage patterns of your yard before you start planning the landscape. For instance, you may not want to put a patio in an area that gets tons of sunlight, but a vegetable garden would go great there.

3. Consider Maintenance

How much time and money are you willing to spend keeping your landscape beautiful? Think about how much effort it’ll take to mow that lawn, water those flowers, and weed that garden bed. You can cut the time you spend on maintenance by adding some low-maintenance plants, like shrubs and trees, and covering areas of lawn with a patio.

4. Sketch it Out

While you surely have a vision of the perfect yard, it can be hard to visualize the steps you need to take to make it come together. Once you’ve decided what need from the space, draw an overhead map of your yard on a piece of graph paper and start sketching it out.

5. Start with the Hardscape

Hardscaping refers to elements of the landscape that will remain static, like a porch, sidewalk, driveway, deck, fence, patio, or rocks. Adding the hardscape usually involves some construction, so you should get it done before you start planting.

6. Lay the Soil

It takes time for plants to grow in and look their best, but you can speed up the process and ensure your plants take root by adding good soil with organic matter. Loose, fertile soil will help your new plants establish quickly. The DIY Network recommends using a garden hose to lay out the lines of your garden beds, then use orange spray paint to mark the lines before you put down soil.

7. Choose the Right Plants

Your choice of plants will depend on your personal preference and the climate where you live. However, there are a few key points for greenery success in any landscape:

  • Plant to compliment your house. Put low-growing shrubs and plants in front of low windows an porches, and larger plants at the corners of the house to help frame it.
  • Plant around focal points. Choose a stand-out feature that draws the eye, like a tree, sculpture, rock, or shrub, and coordinate your flower beds around it.
  • Plant with variety. Select plants of various sizes, shapes, and colours to make your landscape interesting. Spread them throughout the yard to pull the design together.

Home Maintenance To-Do’s Before the End of the Summer

Preventative home maintenance will help you avoid fall and winter disasters.

With the summer more than halfway over, it’s important to make the most of the warm weather while it lasts. There’s still time to check a few things off your home maintenance to-do list. Here are a few tasks that are best done before the fall rolls around.

Clean the Fireplace

Fall weather can be unpredictable. Sometimes, you don’t see a speck of snow until December; other years, you see kids out trick-or-treating in full winter clothing. If you’re lucky enough to have a real, wood-burning fireplace in your home, you might want to light it as early as October. Get it clean and ready to burn before the temperature drops.

To do this, get down on all fours and shine a light up the chimney from inside. Open the damper and inspect for bird or rodent nests, loose or damaged bricks, or sticky residue from previous seasons (called creosote). If you spot one of these problems, you should turn to a chimney-cleaning professional to help get your chimney up to code.

Test the Heating System

Hopefully, it will be many months before you have to switch on the furnace, but it’s still best to get your system in order now. HVAC companies get swamped in the months leading up to the winter, so you should get any problems taken care of before the busy season.

To test your heating system, try turning the thermostat up five degrees on a cool evening. If the heat doesn’t turn on and stay on, something is either wrong with the thermostat or the system itself.

Try replacing the thermostat’s batteries to start. Once you’ve ruled that out, call a heating and cooling expert to check and service your system.

You should also replace the air filter on your furnace before the cold weather hits. This will ensure your system runs efficiently when the time comes.

Clean the Gutters

It’s important to clean the gutters before the winter. Debris left behind can cause ‘dams’ of ice to form around the edges of the roof, causing snow to pack up and create the risk of leaks or roof damage. But cleaning the gutters can be a dirty and somewhat dangerous job, so you don’t want to be up on the roof in the brisk fall weather.

Take Care of Trees

Like cleaning the gutters, inspecting and trimming the trees is an outdoor task that is far easier to get done while it’s still nice and warm out. You’ll want to remove weak, brittle tree limbs that could break off and fall under the weight of the snow, especially near the house. This will also help spur new, healthy growth next season.

Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors

You’ve heard it a million times, but too many people still ignore this critical home maintenance task. It’s best to check your detectors and replace the batteries at least every few months. Your safety detectors are very important in the winter, since we tend to shut our windows and use fireplaces more often.

But why not wait until fall? Because it’s an easy to forget, especially once the busy fall season gets going. Do it before you get distracted by back-to-school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holidays.

How to Make Your New House Feel Like Home

Moving requires a lot of planning and can be quite stressful. However, this work is balanced by the excitement that most of feel when we move into a new home. This house or condo may be one we have been dreaming of for sometime, so it is a real accomplishment to know that it will be yours for years to come.

However, a new home can also seem a bit off-putting at first. This can be particularly true if you have lived in one place for many years.

Here are three easy ways that you can help to make a new house feel like home faster:

ASSEMBLE YOUR BED

There are certain necessities we all require, one being a good night’s sleep. Unless it’s late and you are absolutely exhausted from the move, do not sleep on the floor. We are all used to our beds, so sleeping it in as much as possible during those first few days in the new house provides an important sense of comfort and familiarity.

Bring Out Your Favourite Things

We all have certain things we love and cherish. They might include a favourite painting, a photograph, or a family heirloom. These all help to remind us of home and loved ones, so you can give your new place that same feeling by unpacking them and placing them on display.

Maintain Your Regular Routine

It can take awhile to get all of your things into the new house and plan where they will go. Otherwise, you should try and stick to your normal routine. Go swimming on Saturdays? Keep doing that. Always play cards with friends Sunday evening? Don’t cancel (in fact, invite them over!). Maintaining our everyday routine is a way of telling our mind
that everything is fine and on schedule. Work your unpacking
around your regularly scheduled activities.

Where Does Broil King Rank Among the Best Performance BBQs?

Where Does Broil King Rank Among the Best Performance BBQs?

Wouldn’t it be easier to choose a new BBQ if you could just fire them up and throw on a few steaks right there in the store? You can’t tell much about how a BBQ performs just from looking at it. After all, there’s more to a grill than meets the eye.

Luckily, Consumer Reports tested 100 gas BBQs so you don’t have to. Their ratings can help you determine who has the best performance gas BBQ for your needs.

Like many of you, I always prefer to buy local if I can. So let’s look at how Canadian manufacturer Broil King holds up against its competitors in the gas BBQ arena.

Durability

Durability is a problem with gas BBQs in general. The burners are often the first piece to go, and most gas BBQs don’t last much longer than ten years. But Broil King ranks well compared to its competitors, beating out Char-Broil, Char-Griller, and Napoleon with ease.

In a review of the Broil King Sovereign, one Consumer Reports reader writes:

“Grill is long lasting. I have owned mine since 2007. Had one burner go bad under warranty and the company sent me a complete set along with the gas rail. Did not expect that. The firebox slightly warped,sent a picture. Two days later a new firebox was delivered. Both issues were in the first three years and no problems since with some very heavy usage.”

Appearance

It’s no surprise that KitchenAid, known for its colourful, trendy, appliances, snags the top spot for appearance. Kenmore (which does poorly in all other categories) also caught the eyes of readers in this category. As for Broil King, it sits somewhere in the middle, along with competitors like Weber.

Grilling Performance

This is where Broil King shines. Broil King BBQs of all sizes are rated highly for cooking performance, particularly the Sovereign, as one reader writes:

“The versatility is the main reason I am sold on this grill. I have rigged up a smoker and the grill will hold a very steady temperature to cook low and slow. I have even made beef jerky on it at low temperature to dry the meat yet not “cook” it.”

Ease of Cleaning

This is another pain point when it comes to gas BBQs. Scraping off the charred remains of your meal is something you accept when you live the BBQ life. But not all grills are created equal, and that’s true when it comes to cleaning them as well.

Boilmaster, Char-Broil, and Char-Griller lose out big time in this category. Weber and Napoleon are somewhere in the middle. Broil King, in all its kingly dignity, does somewhat better. It’s not the pinnacle of cleanliness, but it stands out among its competitors as being slightly less of a pain to clean.

The Benefits of a Clean Home

We all know that a neat and clean environment is more likely to make us feel happy about ourselves and our lot in life. A mess at home indicates to others that we are not keeping on top of our responsibilities. That can be rather embarrassing, but there are other reasons you should set aside time to do that spring/summer/fall/winter cleaning.

First off, you will actually feel better. Not just because everything is where it’s supposed to be, but you will be less likely to become sick. Bacteria, dust, pet dander, and mold are just plain bad for your health and can actually lead to issues like allergies and asthma.

If you like to entertain and spend time with friends and loved ones, you will be more likely to have them over if your home is clean. Likewise, they will be more likely to accept if they can sit down and not stick to something.

Cleaning makes you more aware of your environment. As a result, you are more likely to realize that something needs to be repaired or replaced before a major problem breaks out that could cost you a lot of money.

There is physical activity involved in cleaning (a lot of physical activity, if you have tried to clean my home!), so it is actually quite good for you! Maybe not something you would like to do everyday, but once a week is not too much to ask.

A clean home will make you feel more useful and effective as a person. Also, you are less likely to feel guilty about those days and nights where all you really want to do is watch TV. If the house is clean, go ahead, you’ve earned it! Enjoy that sense of accomplishment because it will also make other aspects of your life seem more do-able.

Living in the North: Why It’s a Good Idea to Have Heat

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Approximately 33% of the year in Canada the weather is extremely cold. This is also true for parts of the United States such as Michigan and Wisconsin. The number of states that have cold weather ranges from 10-12. Some years it even snows as far south as Jacksonville Florida! Can you imagine! It’s amazing! There are a number of factors which come together to produce such a dramatic shift in climate. For one thing, theres the fact that the sun is further from the earth, as well the earth tilts on its axis and aims us away from the sun. This seasonal shift does not occur in more central parts of the region such as the equator. The equator is basically the region of the earth that is in the exact middle of the latitude. Most tropical regions are between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Every winter its important to make sure we get the proper weather treatment ready for our houses.

There are a number of steps to be taken in order to get a house ready for the winter. Things like windows, doors, flooring, water treatment, roofing, etc. There are just a tonne of preparation steps that need to be taken to have a house ready for winter. A few years ago my furnace broke and then then I had to call for a broken furnace emergency repair service. Not only is it important for warmth but it will help you save money as well. We often see that people spend a lot on heat during the winter- by improving your insulation and windows you will keep that heat inside and as a result save more money. NOW THATS WHAT I CALL AWESOME!

I know for a fact that one of the best ways to improve on heating efficiency is to look to your furnace. Basically, you need to make sure that your furnace is up to date, you can learn more about that in the following link – www.HoggMechanical.com

Home Remedies And DIY Projects

Being a stay-at-home mom, you sometimes like to plan out some DIY projects to make your home more comfortable and decorative for your family. Here are a few home remedies and DIY projects I would like to try.

masonPlants – I have really been getting into plants and flowers lately. Those mason jars are a perfect vase for a nice flower setting. I might also try to make cactus plants using little plant pots you can get at the local grocery store.

Light switches – What would make a home more bright and cheerful? Colourful light switches! I want to try to change all the switches in my house to different cute ones with Disney characters on them or just some bright colours.

Drawer handles – I love it when a dresser has crystal handles or ones where it is different from the rest of the dresser. You can basically buy them one  at a time and then dress up a  drawer or dress down depending on the type of handle you choose.

That’s it for now but don’t forget to come back and check for more tips!