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How to stay warm in this frigid Toronto winter

It was -30 degrees this morning in Toronto with the wind chill, and according to the Weather Network, these temperatures are here to stay. For newcomers and those living on the street, this realization is even more shocking, not to mention dangerous. As Environment Canada puts it, “extreme cold alerts put everyone at risk.”

The City of Toronto has issued its own extreme cold alert, which means additional warming centres and shelter beds become available for those that need it.

Here are some tips to stay warm over the next few weeks:

Layer it up! I’m talking leggings under your pants, undershirts, and sweaters. When you go outdoors, make sure to wear an appropriate jacket that is warm and wind resistant. Pair it with a scarf that covers your entire neck and your face. Hats, mittens, and winter boots are necessary. If you don’t have any of these items, make a trip to the store as soon as possible. There are still some decent boxing day sales on (thank goodness they last for the whole week) and you won’t regret the investment. Don’t worry about your hair or your makeup in this weather. Just get from work to home safely and warmly — no one will care!

Stay indoors if you can! It’s all about reducing your exposure. In these conditions, skin will freeze after 10-30 minutes of exposure to the air. If you are waiting for a bus, for example, this can be problematic. It can also be problematic for drivers, as an increase in freezing temperatures also leads to an increase in black ice. Make sure to limit the time spent outside and talk to your employer about potentially working from home.

Insulate your home! It may be too late to put a plastic wrap around your windows this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. If your radiator is battling against a cold front, your home won’t actually warm up. Drape a blanket or sheet over your air conditioner and windows. If you have to use a staple gun to keep the sheet up, so be it. This will create an extra barrier against the cold entering through these crevasses. You can also roll up towels and place them at the bottom of all your doors. Speaking of doors, make sure all your doors are closed so the heat can fill up a space without travelling to great a distance.

Stay active: The more you sit, the colder you will be. Try to move around, even it if is indoors. Do some yoga, walk up and down some stairs, do some jumping jacks, or even just wander around to different rooms in your home. First of all, it’s important not to lose your fitness regime in the winter, so moving at all is a step forward. Second of all, your body circulation will help you retain heat.

Soup and coffee! Thermoses are your friend. Make sure to warm your insides by drinking lots of warm beverages and hot meals. Invest in a good travel thermos to make sure these meals stay hot for hours. I love my travel mug, which allows me to drink hot coffee from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.!

How are you staying warm going into the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!

Reality check: millennials are poor and house prices are rising

As a millennial, I enjoy avocado toast and expensive coffees daily and travel to Europe on my weekends instead of buying my luxury home.

NOT.

In reality, I am living in a world where two-ply toilet paper is a treat, scrounging for change for transit causes cold sweats, and an avocado is a treat I get once a year in my Christmas stocking. In other words, millennials are poor and house prices are rising. Seeing a unicorn walk down the street is more likely than being able to afford a decent home in the current real estate market.

Recently, Australian real estate millionaire Tim Gurner revealed on Australia’s 60 minutes that he believes the younger generation is wasting their cash on frivolous snacks instead of investing in future homes. This has caused international outrage, with several young people pointing out the obvious — no amount of avocado toast is going to make up for the fact that millennials are being priced out of almost everything that previous generations enjoyed.

It is common fact that employment is not plentiful, with baby boomers hanging on to their jobs, and technology wiping out the rest. University and college have become essential in this job market and this leaves millennials with overwhelming student debt on top of everything else. Wages have stagnated as a result, creating a society where working for minimum wage with a degree is the norm. Healthcare coverage, salary jobs, and benefits are the childhood dreams of Narnia, and working long hard hours is standard.

Interestingly, Gurner, who incited the wave of indignant avocado toast hatred worldwide, happens to be 34. He falls within the age range of a millennial, and yet feels justified as a classic ‘one percenter’ to provide the obvious reasons why the rest of the world can’t be like him. If anything, Gurner should have to mail a piece of 19 dollar avocado toast to every millennial he has disrespected.

While I wait for my apology, I think I might go to the coffee shop and buy my daily avocado toast. Women’s Post looks forward to seeing you in Europe on the weekend fellow millennials. Don’t forget your two-ply!

How to combat your coffee addiction once and for all

It’s one thing for your morning cup of joe to help you get through the day after a long night. However, if you’re on your third cup of espresso before noon and it’s the only reason for your existence at the moment, you may have a slight problem. Sure, coffee helps knocks things off your long to-do list, but it is also responsible for increasing anxiety and depression, indigestion, and other health problems. Coffee addiction is not easy to combat. It takes determination, perseverance, and a little bit of that New Year’s motivation that we’re all currently striving on. With these few easy steps, your coffee addiction can be a thing of the past once and for all.

 

  1. Start on a weekend

It’s probably not a good idea to start your coffee cleanse the week you have a big project coming up. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can leave you with a brutal headache, not to mention give you a bad case of the jitters. To avoid experiencing these during your 3 o’clock meeting, start your coffee cleanse on a weekend, when you’re at home and able to relax.

  1. Eat chocolate

Dark chocolate not only tastes good, but can help satisfy your coffee craving. You can substitute your morning cup of joe with a good old fashioned cup of hot chocolate, or casually nibble on some chocolate throughout the day. Remember, everything is okay in moderation! Let’s not forget those fitness goals while we’re trying to combat our addiction.

  1. Switch it up!

There may be many reasons why you want to cut coffee out of your life. Whether it’s the amount of sugar you put into your lattes, the increase in high fat dairy that your body can no longer endure, or the overall disadvantages of caffeine, it’s important to make gradual substitutes when it comes to combatting coffee addiction. Start off by decreasing the amount of sugar, switch to black coffee, or try decaffeinated coffee. It’s not an overnight process, so take your time!

  1. Hydrate

The solution to all of your life problems is to hydrate. Increase your water intake! Drinking enough water is known to help combat fatigue, decrease unwanted weight gain, keep your blood pressure down, and well as flush toxins out of your body. The sudden boost of energy will aid in removing other toxins out of your life too, like Jimmy from Marketing. So quench that thirst.

  1. Sweat it out

Another solution that’s not just for coffee addiction, but a lot of other health and wellness concerns, is daily exercise. Increasing your heart rate as well as practicing muscle strength and endurance can help combat the fatigue and lack of energy that may come without your everyday coffee. In addition, exercising releases serotonin, which will put you in a better mood. Not even your dog drinking out of the toilet for the 30th time this week can phase you!

These simple but effective solutions can keep the caffeine at bay! Welcome to a new life of whiter teeth and more pocket change. Don’t forget to share your journey with us in the comments below! Good luck!

A little Stars Hallow in Toronto – Pop-Up Luke’s Diner

I left my house at 6:30 in the morning excited and ready to experience something I’ve only ever dreamed of — getting coffee from Luke’s Diner, a staple set on the comedy-drama TV show, Gilmore Girls.

I’ve followed the escapades of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore for most of my life. I laughed when Rory stole a box of cornstarch after her first kiss; cringed whenever Taylor Doosey led a town meeting; swooned when Sookie and Jackson finally went on a date; and cried my eyes out when Lorelai broke up with Luke (both times), leading to a recovery Gilmore-esque feast of pop-tarts and marshmallows.

Not only was the show full of quick-witted dialogue and loveable characters, but it showed a side of teen drama that wasn’t boy-obsessed or filled with unnecessary dating triangles.

While Gilmore Girls did touch on relationships, it also showcased developed characters who cared more about their ambitions than who they were going out with at night. In fact, no Gilmore girl would ever settle or change their lifestyle for a guy, and that’s something I really respected and learned from as a young girl.

And then there was Rory Gilmore. She was a bookworm — smart, academically driven, and completely comfortable with who she was. As she struggled to figure out what it meant to be a teen, a university student, and then an adult, so did I. I watched as she pursued journalism in high school and university, struggling to befriend her nemesis Paris Geller, and fought for her perfect study tree. In the end, she succeeded in getting a job in journalism, something that gave me hope as I ventured out into a similar profession.

After years of watching this show over and over again (thanks Netflix), I was ecstatic to hear there would be four pop-up “Luke’s Diners” in Toronto. I knew I had to go, even if it would mean being slightly late for work. The line was already around the corner when I arrived around 7:15 a.m. and took my place among a sea of plaid, flannel, and backwards baseball hats. While I waited for my free coffee, I chatted with the group of women around me, discussing our favourite episodes and arguing about whether Rory should have married Logan, or stayed with Jesse or Dean.

As the line unravelled and I got closer to the storefront, I saw the sign. Luke’s Diner, just like the show. I snapped a photo and moved inside the independent coffee shop The Rolling Pin, near Lawrence and Yonge. After a bit of a wait got a coffee with a sleeve that said Luke’s Diner. The cup itself had one of my favourite quotes on them (Coffee please and a shot of cynicism).

And then…I left. That was it. I stood in line for one and a half hours for a picture of a sign and a cup of coffee with a marketing sleeve.

20161005_084332_hdrI’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know it was more than that. I thought the music of Carol King, the singer of the infamous theme song “Where You Lead”, would be playing in the background. I thought there would be cut out of the characters and a list of Luke’s diner rules plastered in large print on the wall (it was there, but it was typed on regular printing paper and tapped messily on the wall). I also thought they would be selling some cool Gilmore Girl merchandise — which was honestly a lost opportunity because the group I was with would have purchased anything after that wait! Baseball hats, tshirts, even roasted coffee with the words “Luke’s Diner” would have sold like, well, Luke’s coffee!

 

I know these pop-ups are marketing ploys, but a little more effort could have been made to make the experience more complete. Netflix could have provided a lot more in terms of supplies. I don’t think the coffee shops had enough time to do any sort of re-decorating and some of them struggled with the mass amount of people waiting to enter their storefront.

Suffice to say, it was a great idea, but it was all poorly executed. With the Gilmore Girl revival coming to Netflix in November, you would think there would be more of a fanfare. You know, Lorelai Gilmore style?

But, I got my picture with a Luke’s Diner sign. So, I guess that’s okay.

Oy with the poodles already — am I right?

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Headline Coffee — the future of journalism?

You get up in the morning, grab the newspaper (or your Ipad/tablet for your digital news), and then saunter into the kitchen to make your brewed beverage of choice.

But, wait! There is no coffee beside that fancy Keurig machine. What now?

The Toronto Star has you covered. Tuesday, the news organization launched Headline Coffee, a delivery service that will bring ethically-sourced ground or whole-bean coffee from around the world directly to your doorstep. No need to make that timmies run!

For $20, subscribers will get a bag of coffee — good for about 35 cups — from a new single-origin country each month. Those beans are then roasted locally to perfection.

At first glance, the idea of a news organization selling something other than news seems a bit strange. But, amid job cuts and declining advertising revenue, this seems like a brilliant way to make a little extra cash. Headline Coffee is disrupting the system and shattering the illusion — the news industry is in trouble. Despite what people may think, news publications can’t hire employees, or keep the ones they do have for that matter. Printing and staffing a large paper is expensive, and without extra revenue, there is no way the Star, no matter it’s reputation, can maintain its product.

Like many smaller publications have figured out, it’s time to embrace this reality and get creative. Magazines like Spacing are supporting themselves with private donations, launch parties, and memorabilia sales. Sponsored content is becoming the norm and there is nothing editors can do about it.

Cue Headline Coffee: a unique and effective way to entice readers to help pay some of the costs for a larger news conglomerate. It also just happens to target their specific audience — news and coffee lovers. I can attest to being part of that audience and I have to say that I am intrigued by this offer.

As the Star said in their press release announcing their new Headline Coffee, “whether they relax and read their newspaper at home, clutch it during their commute, enjoy a quick news update on their mobile phone or swipe through Toronto Star Touch on their tablet, reading the Toronto Star and enjoying a cup of coffee are parts of their day for about 75 per cent of the Star’s readers.”

It will be interesting to see if the quality and quantity of news increases as coffee sales rise. Will Headline Coffee help the Star stay afloat? Who knows, but in the meantime, let’s brew a good cup of Joe, settle into a comfortable chair with our paper, and see what happens.

5 new ways to spice up your coffee

Mornings can be rough. The nights are short, the kids are off from school, and frankly, it’s too nice outside to even think about spending your day in the office. If you’re like me, you’ll need that cup of coffee before you say your first word. Why not try something new in your daily brewing routine and try these five different ways to spruce up your coffee. You’ll thank us later.

  1. Stir in some black sesame powder:

Black sesame seeds are highly nutritious, packed with vitamin B1, fibre, magnesium and calcium (just to name a few).  Add in a teaspoon to give your coffee a rich, nutty flavour.  This tastes especially good with coconut or almond milk.

  1. Sprinkle on some spices:

You don’t need a trip to Starbucks for that gourmet kick in your cup of joe. Add in some ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cardamom directly into your cup before you pour in your coffee for a refreshing spice kick. Alternatively, you could sprinkle on the spices after you have poured your coffee for a lighter taste. These spices are a great alternative to sugar!

  1. Try using a different type of milk:

Swapping out your usual milk and creamer can add a new unique taste to the coffee. Try using variations such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk or cashew milk. You can even pick between sweetened or unsweetened.

  1. Blend in some coconut oil:

Yes, that’s right, coconut oil.  Similar to the “bulletproof coffee,” this interesting add-in brings creaminess to the drink and can keep you full all morning.  Make sure you blend in the coconut oil so that is incorporated properly with the coffee!  This also makes it frothier – almost like a latté mmm!

  1. Try sweetening with maple syrup or pure vanilla extract:

Maple syrup contains 54 antioxidants and makes a healthy, low-calorie swap for your regular sugar.  Alternatively, you could add vanilla extract; just a few drops will do to add some sweet vanilla flavour.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try using almond extract.

You’re welcome.

How do you spruce up your coffee? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

5 Drinks To Keep You Warm This Holiday Season

It’s December! The countdown to the holidays has officially started. You’ve (hopefully) put up your Christmas Trees by now and are looking for ways to gather your friends and family for some quality time. With carols blasting, your uncle attempting to sing, and the presents scattered under the tree, it seems like the perfect time to sit around the fireplace with a warm, holiday drink. Whether it’s hot chocolate, eggnog, or a fancy latte — we’ve gathered some of the best recipes for you to try.

Candy canes aren’t just meant to be ornaments and stocking stuffers. Add a hint into your favourite hot chocolate recipe for a nice minty taste: 

1. CANDY CANE WHITE COCONUT HOT COCOA

 

  • 3 Cups of Silk Coconut Milk
  • 1¼ cups Ghirardelli Classic White Chocolate Chips
  • ½ cup Andes Peppermint Crunch chips or ¼- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract.
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Add coconut milk, Giraradelli Classic White Chocolate Chips and vanilla bean to a heavy saucepan.
  2. Heat until chocolate melts, whisking to keep the chocolate from sticking or burning on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and the cocoa is hot.
  4. Add Andes Chips or peppermint extract ( start with ¼ tsp and taste, then adjust).
  5. Add vanilla extract if you didn’t use a vanilla bean.
  6. Pour into a mug, top with whipped cream. Garnish with a candy cane and a sprinkle of Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips or red and white sprinkles.

Too old to build a gingerbread house? (We disagree!) Bring the same taste and tradition into drink form with this decadent latte: 

2. GINGERBREAD LATTE

 

 

  • 4 shots espresso (or ¾ cup strong-brew coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1½ cups milk (for foaming)

Directions

  1. In a glass measuring cup, combine the coffee, spices, sugar and molasses. Use a whisk to dissolve the spices in the coffee very well. Divide between two mugs.
  2. Steam or froth the milk in a milk frother (or just warm it on the stove).
  3. Divide the milk between the two mugs, and serve immediately.

You can never have too many truffles! Never. Especially if it’s in your hot chocolate: 

3. TRUFFLE HOT CHOCOLATE 

 

 

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 6 ounces 70% cacao dark baking chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash salt

DULCE DE LECHE WHIPPED CREAM 

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions 

  1. In a large saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around sides of pan (do not boil). Remove from the heat; whisk in the chocolate, brown sugar, espresso powder, vanilla and salt until smooth. Return to the heat; cook and stir until heated through. Pour into mugs; top with desired flavor of whipped cream.
  2. To prepare dulce de leche whipped cream: In a heavy skillet, melt sugar until golden. Gradually stir in cream; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Skip the traditional eggnog this year and spice it up with some cayenne pepper: 

4. SPICED CHOCOLATE EGGNOG 

 

 

  • 2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups brandy (optional)
  • Whole nutmeg, for garnish
  • Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Heat two quarts milk, the sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.

  2. Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until pale, about two minutes. Whisk one cup of milk mixture into yolks in a slow, steady stream. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. (Do not boil.)

  3. Remove pot from heat, add melted bittersweet and milk chocolates, and stir until incorporated. Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks. Pour mixture into a large bowl set in ice-water bath, and let cool, stirring often.

  4. Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled eggnog into a large serving bowl, and add brandy if using. (Add more milk to eggnog if necessary to reach desired consistency.) Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top, and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne. Serve immediately with churros on the side if desired.

Opt out of the cream and cocoa at least once a week (if you must) and curl up with a cup of cider: 

5. WARM MULLED CIDER 

 

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider (not juice)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 11 1/2-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 8 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the orange to create long strips.
  2. In a medium pot, bring the cider, honey, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and orange zest to a simmer. Do not boil. Heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Ladle into cups and serve warm with the cinnamon sticks.

Mmmm…. we don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to try these! Let us know how you like them in the comments below or on Twitter and Facebook @Womenspost!

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