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The true origins of the Lord of the Dead. Read if you dare!

When most people talk about the history of Halloween, their mind turns to Spain and Mexico, and the Day of the Dead. It’s a commonly known holiday in which the people honour those who have passed away by visiting them at their graves and leaving behind gifts or possessions.

But, the history and culture of Halloween goes back even further.

The American version of Halloween today draws a very real resemblance to the European gaelic festival called Samhain. When we think of Halloween today, we think of costumes, a chance to be something or someone different, candy, carved pumpkins, and sinister things that lurk in the night. But, in reality this version of Halloween, or All’ Hallows Eve is mostly manufactured by corporations and candy companies — and no, this isn’t some conspiracy theory.

The festival of Samhain is is celebrated on October 31st in the pagan celtic calendar and marks the beginning of the long winter months. The traditions of this festival can be traced back all the way to the 10th century, where it was named after Samhain, Lord of the Dead. The festival is supposed to give people time to take stock of their lives and prepare for the coming of the colder months. Dead crops are stripped from the land.

The festival also represented a period in time where the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest.

The celtic people of Ireland long celebrated Samhain before the arrival of Christianity. The celtic people were migrants of the Roman Empire across Europe and often travelled with tales of mystery and myth, sharing folklore in various communities and speaking in direct opposition to the teachings of early Christianity. Spirituality, magic and superstition were all beliefs held in the Celtic culture. The people  believed in the connection of the land with the universe and that life continues after death. During the time of Samhain, when the darkness of winter arrived, so did unwanted spirits. They held bonfires, dressing in dead animal skins and praying to the Gods to ward off evil spirits. It was a festival of gathering and community.

Another reason the Celtic people dressed in dead animal skins or disguised themselves as ghoulish figures was to protect themselves from wandering evil spirits. The spirits would recognize them as one of their own and leave the celtic people alone.

The Lord of the Dead was not only feared, but revered. The people appealed to him in order to ensure that lost souls could be reborn. During Samhain, there are similar traditions and links to Halloween we see today — the dressing up as ghoulish figures, and the presentation of gifts, often something sweet to the Lord of the Dead. The Celtic people were even known to carve turnips to mark ancestors.

The traditions and myths of  the Celtics have been reconditioned under Christianity and has changed the way we see Halloween. Samhain was the original event to which Halloween was marketed, and similar traditions can even be seen in other cultures, for instance the Day of the Dead celebrated in Mexico to mark the memory of past ancestors.

Traditionally, Samhain is celebrated by the Irish, Scottish and even those that practice wicca. Wiccans often see the holiday as the beginning of the spiritual new year. While Samhain has not been replaced by Christianity, the Christian calendar instead celebrates All Soul’s Day on November 1st to pay tribute to Pope Gregory III.  To celebrate All Soul’s Day, people and members of the Christian church were encouraged to pay tribute to the saints by making little soul cakes or bread that represented a blessed Christian soul.

Leave a comment below on what makes Halloween creepy for you!

5 winter office staples for 2017

A change in seasons can already be difficult. It can cause a lot of stress and there are so many things to consider. Do you have your winter tires? Have you regulated the temperature in your house? What on earth do I wear to work now? It seems like only yesterday people were wearing skirts and light blouses to the office. With the weather getting cooler and cooler, it’s sadly almost time to trade them is for sweaters and long-johns.

But, long-johns aren’t exactly appropriate for that corporate meeting you have. Women’s Post suggests these five fashion staples that are winter-ready and office-ready.

Suede Blazer

The right blazer can do wonders to any outfit, even a simple white t-shirt and jeans. Try adding something like a suede blazer to your wardrobe. I am also not suggesting spending $3000 on an authentic suede jacket, but you can find a faux look thats just as fashionable for under $100.

Metallic Faux Suede Jacket- Zara CAD 99.90

Black Ankle Boots

Don’t we love our boots in the winter? Tall ones, short ones, black one, and even red ones. The possibilities are endless. But to keep that chic office look without having to freeze your toes, the black ankle boot is a classic staple. These boots can be neatly placed under black trousers or worn with stockings and a skirt.

Almond Toe Ankle Boot- Le Chateau CAD 99.95

Camel Coat

Having a chic coat can often do wonders in pulling an outfit together. Brighter coats, rather than the usual black or grey, will make you stand out. Don’t be afraid of a little colour.

 

 

Babaton Spencer Coat- ‘Constant Camel’- Aritzia       CAD 298

 

Jewelled Accessories

Your style in the office doesn’t have to necessarily change in the winter— try adding some jewelled accessories. Your office look does not have to be boring and definitely nothing too bold. A statement necklace added to a simple top can complete your outfit. Try a chunky necklace with a knit sweater.

Blue Gem Statement Necklace- Jane Norman         £ 18.00

Oversized Cardigan

A really good cardigan should definitely be an office staple when it gets chilly. You can be cozy and still put together. Try wearing a large cardigan with a wrap belt to cinch the waist.

Draped Neck Cardigan With Belt- Zara CAD 25.90

What’s your office style in the winter ? Leave a comment below !

 

Top places to visit in New York City and Toronto

An announcement of a joint tourism deal between the City of Toronto and New York City means cheaper flights for the new year. The announcement was made at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Toronto by Tourism Toronto’s CEO Joanne Belanger.

“Toronto and New York city are the financial, entertainment, and cultural centres of our two nations and this partnership goes a long way to share our big-city experiences with each other’s residents and visitors,” Belanger said.

This new partnership will include a deal with Air Canada that will feature discounted trips to New York, with one way tickets starting at CAD $154 for trips before Feb 15.

This means there will be a boost in advertising for trips to New York and ads for travel to Toronto will be featured in the big apple later this month. The ads will focus on different activities to do in each respective city for the winter months . So, if you’re thinking about your next NYC trip, now is the times to take advantage of this special deal. Women’s Post suggests these top places to check in each city.

New York City:

Bryant Park Winter Village

Enjoy everything from ice-skating to to christmas shopping in this Christmas village. Bryant park will feature the most talked about christmas market, which includes over 125 shopping and food vendors and a 17,000 sq. ft ice-skating rink. Just remember to bring your own skates.

Broadway

New York City is home to the most famous theatre district in the world. This is the same spot where many famous faces got their breakout role. It is best to research which plays you are interested in seeing and buy your tickets early. Some popular broadway shows this season include: Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom of the Opera,  Hello Dolly! (Bette Midler returns to broadway),  Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway and much more. If you are willing to shell out the big bucks, don’t forget about Hamilton!

 

Museum of Modern Art

While there are many museums to check out in the city, try visiting the Museum of Modern Art for a different experience. This museum offers a great display of  pop culture and 20th century history. Some famous pieces you can see there include, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and Van Gough’s Starry Night.

 

The Sugar Factory

The popular Sugar Factory brand has opened a 9000 sq. ft American Brasserie in the poplar and ever-busy Meatpacking District. If you are unfamiliar with this American brand, they are known for their candy-land theme and their famous sugary cocktails. For the Christmas season they will include sweet selections from the Mariah Carey Christmas Factory.

 

Le Bain Rooftop Bar

Le Bain is located at the Standard Hotel in NYC. This popular rooftop bar is known for its spectacular views of the skyline, a seasonal pool, and of course, dancing the night away to music by world famous DJs.

 

Toronto:

 

Friday Night Live at the ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum gets pretty wild ever other Friday night of the month. Friday Night Live at the ROM transforms the museum into one big party. Now that summer is over, the ROM is just getting started and there are different themed parties each weeky. You can expect live performances, popular DJ’s, interactive attractions for some museum displays, and lots of food and fun.

Image courtesy of Maker Festival Toronto

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Ever since it’s open in 2013, it has been a popular attraction for Torontonians and tourists. The site was originally set to be open in Niagara Falls, but it was relocated to the heart of downtown Toronto. Go explore the popular sea-life and marvel at the sharks as you walk through an underwater pathway.

 

Harbour Cruise

Toronto’s waterfront is always busy with many activities that you can enjoy, and it is also where you can find all the harbour cruises you can take as you marvel at the skyline from a distance on the waters of Lake Ontario. There are many different cruises to choose from, including daytime, or nighttime trips, and some that include dinner and dancing.

 

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is an actual castle located on the heart of downtown Toronto. It was constructed in 1914 and was built as a private residence for Sir Henry Mill Pallett. It is now a public museum and landmark, and popular spot for photography or hosting wedding events. During the christmas season, it will transform into a winter wonderland, complete with many light displays in the castle garden and various Christmas treats.

 

Niagara Falls

While not technically in Toronto, Niagara Falls is just a short 90 minute drive away and closest to the border with Buffalo, New York. In a sense, it’s the perfect starting point, or ending point of your Toronto adventure. There are countless things to do in Niagara Falls and one of the most exciting opinions may be to take a helicopter tour to see the falls and the city from above.

 

 Will you be heading to New York this winter? Let us know in the comment below!

Recipe: vegan apple crumble

Despite the sprinkling of snow this week, it’s still too early to call this season winter. That means there is still time to indulge in your favourite fall desserts. The smell of roasted squash, sweetened fruit, and perhaps a bit of pumpkin spice is too much to resist. I will literally follow that smell to the nearest bakery or coffee shop. There is something addictive about these flavours, and I’m not ready to give them up just yet!

My personal favourite is an apple crisp or an apple crumble. There is a great recipe for a vegan (with gluten-free options) version of this fantastic dessert, provided to Women’s Post by Avra Epstein, founder of Love Wild Live Free. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Recipe Apple Crumble Pie (gluten-free option)

Yield: 1 pie (9”) or 4 mini pies (4.5”)

Ingredients

Pie Dough:

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour (see notes below on making this gluten-free)

1/3 cup *cold* unrefined coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

4 tablespoon *ice cold* water

Filling:

4 apples (about 1 + 1/2 lbs), peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other vegan sugar)

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon true cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Crumble Topping:

1/2 tsp true cinnamon

1/2 cup rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened

The tiniest pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Optional finishing touch:

1 tbsp unsweetened plant-based milk (I used rice milk)

1 tsp turbinado cane sugar

(use organic ingredients)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

Prepare the Pie Crust:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or fork), cut in chunks of cold coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time and gently mix until dough comes together (not to worry if it doesn’t form right away, the dough should come together when it is kneaded).
  3. Use your hands to gently knead/form the dough and gather any loose scraps.
  4. Transfer to a well floured surface and form into a disk shape. If you’re making 4 mini pies, divide dough into 4 and form each portion into a disk shape.
  5. Lightly flour the top of the dough, as well as your rolling pin and roll into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer to your pie dish and form crust moving from the middle of the dish, outwards to the rim of the dish. Repeat if making 4 mini pies.

Note: This dough is very forgiving, it may break when you transfer it to the dish, but you can easily press it back together.

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Combine apple filling ingredients in a large bowl – you can use the same bowl that you made the crust in to save time on clean up! Add filling to the pie dish(es), make sure not to include any excess liquid.

Prepare the Crumble Topping:

  1. Combine crumble ingredients in a small bowl. Top the apple mixture in the pie dish(es) with the topping.

Final steps:

  1. Optional: Lightly brush plant-based milk on any exposed pie crust on the rim of the pie dish(es) and sprinkle a small amount of turbaned cane sugar on top.
  2. Place pie dish(es) onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check after the first 20 minutes and keep an eye on the topping and crust thereafter to make sure that it doesn’t overcook.

Serve warm. Pairs well with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream or coconut whip cream.

A Note on making this Gluten Free

The flour: I have tested out a number of gluten-free flours over the years and I’ve found the best results with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (GMO-free). I like to avoid gluten-free flour mixes that contain conventional potato and corn starch. Be wary of non-organic potato and corn as these are are grown with pesticides and are commonly genetically modified.

The oats: Oats are gluten-free by nature, but are sometimes contaminated during processing or even in the field during production. If you are celiac or have a gluten sensitivity, be sure to select oats that have a “gluten-free” label on the packaging.

 

Avra Epstein publishes organic vegan lifestyle living resources on her blog lovewildlivefree.com where she shares everything from nutritious recipes, to health & wellness information, while showcasing the best of Toronto vegan businesses and local food along the way. Her meal-time inspiration, with an emphasis on healing foods, will make you feel good, inside and out! LoveWildLiveFree was recently featured on Blog TO’s list as one of “15 Instagram accounts for Toronto vegans to follow.”

Snowstorm a sign of the apocolypse or just normal Canadian weather?

The late winter weather in Toronto has left many people feeling shaken. It appears that climate change is rearing its ugly head, making spring something akin to living in an ice box.

This change in the weather has left many struggling to prepare for a severe winter storm set to hit the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — because apparently, as Canadians, we are easily frazzled by the mere possibility of this newfangled thing called snow. It is the Great White North after all. Snow in March isn’t that unusual. Still feel the need to bunk down in your basement and prepare for the next 48 hours of high winds and below freezing temperatures? Don’t worry, Women’s Post is here to help.

If by some random chance, the weather does become catastrophic, it is important to have an emergency kit. Everyone needs to have an emergency bag on the off chance that a natural disaster occurs, but what should go in it? Definitely include a flashlight with extra batteries and an extra phone battery if possible. Being able to contact people in the case of an emergency, especially when the power is out, is incredibly important. Also have a few non-perishable foods, toilet paper, and a first aid kit on hand. Some reports say to keep cash on hand to purchase goods if the ATM machines spark out, but it’s also handy to bribe people to help you in the case of an apocalypse. You can also burn it to stay warm!

If this “storm” turns out to be a few snowflakes and a slight chill wind, which is the more likely option here in every-centimetre-of-snow-is-a-disaster Toronto, take the time to hang out with family and enjoy yourself. Read a few good books and catch up on a Netflix series, and try not to let the cold air depress you. It will pass soon enough and spring will be well on its way. Take advantage of being able to cozy up in your slippers and cuddle with your loved ones. This final stretch of winter is manageable as long as chocolate and warm drinks are involved. If you have an indoor fire, make sure to turn that on for an added touch.

Winter is almost over (unless the apocalypse really is upon us) and doing relaxing indoor activities in the last stretch is the best way to survive this last big snow storm.  Be sure to enjoy how bright and beautiful the snow really is. Try and appreciate how that fluffy white stuff clings to the trees and makes everything so silent and still. Soon it will be gone for good and the warmth will set in. In a way, won’t you miss the ethereal beauty of the snowy weather.

Or will you? Just kidding…you definitely won’t!

How to deal with winter hat-head

I love hats — but I hate taking them off. My beautifully-styled hair gets completely full of static. If the static is under control, my hair gets flat or twisted in knots. The terribly annoying part is that I never know which problem I’m going to get.

Winter is just getting comfortable here in Canada, and promises to stay for a few more months. Here are some tips to keep your hair office-ready while still dressing appropriately for the below-freezing temperatures that are bound to ensue:

Make sure your hair is completely dry: I’m terrible at this. My hair takes forever to dry in the morning, so if I don’t straighten it the night before, there is no way to make it work the next morning. It also means that my hair dries in the shape of my hat during the morning commute. Make sure that your hair is dry AND styled before you put that hat on, or else there is no hope for a good look once you get to work.

Choose the hat wisely: Make sure the hat you are wearing isn’t too tight. A looser material will allow your head to breath and therefore avoid the flat-head look. Wool hats, surprisingly, can prevent static while more synthetic materials will make your hair frizzy and dry. You can also try a loose beret.

Try braids or a knot: Put your hair in a style that is not affected by static or hats in general. A little static in a braid adds texture, and can come off looking more professional than a hat mess (get it!?). If you don’t like to braid your hair, try putting it in a small bun or knot. This way, you can take the bun out when you get into the office and let your locks fall gracefully, without the added frizz or static.

Use anti-frizz: Moisturizing oils or creams can help settle your hair before you put in the hat and trap the moisture in. This should avoid a) dry ends and b) any added static from the hat. Again, make sure that your hair isn’t damp when you leave the house. I’ve used some leave-in conditioner and it’s had similar effects. Make sure you style your hair and let it settle before you put on the hat.

Touch up once you get to work: Make sure to have some elastic bands and bobby pins on your desk in case of disaster. Maybe even a small can of hairspray. When you take your hat off, shake your head upside down to get more volume. Sometimes, that’s all it takes — other times, it requires a bit more work. And then, there are the times when nothing you do helps. In that case, put your hair in a bun or a ponytail and say “screw it”.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hair day, especially in the winter.

How do you deal with hat head? Let us know in the comments below!

Parent vs. Winter: A mother’s candid take on the struggles of snow pants

I love winter. When snowflakes begin to fall, all I want to do is cozy up with a warm peppermint hot chocolate and have a snowball fight in the park. As November comes to an end, I look forward to the snowy days ahead, and then I remember.  Two horrible words that all parents of young children shudder to hear: snow pants.

Getting all of the winter layers on a small child is similar to trying to get a spastic jack Russell into his sweater and booties. It involves chasing said child around the house, pinning them down to get their snow pants on, and then desperately hoping that they don’t tell you that they have to go to the bathroom once all the gear is finally on (this results in a frantic removal of all the snow gear to avoid an accident).

The struggles of the evil snow pants vary according to the age of the child. When my daughter was an infant, picking out the snowsuit and fitting it was quite easy because she was mostly immobile. Getting the puffball into the car seat with all the extra layers was quite the opposite. The other problem was the howling tantrums that ensued after I cruelly prevented my daughter from sucking on her toes (a favourite baby pastime).

As children grow older, the challenge of winter clothes changes and arguably grows more difficult. Toddlers are akin to baby raptors and love to run with their legs out to the side much like the creepy monsters that once inhabited the planet. In other words, they are fast and wily when it comes to avoiding winter clothes, often outwitting the most able-bodied parent with their evil plots. Getting winter clothes on involves having to hold them down with your legs and hoist the snow pants on while they try to get away. Luckily, they haven’t quite figured out zippers yet, so as long as you are fast, the snow pants will remain on. Mittens be damned, buy 20 pairs because you will be replacing them often.

My daughter is now five years old and can get her own snowsuit on! This is a miracle after years of wasting 20 minutes on winter gear. But the war of the snow pants has not ended here. Now begins the era of the fashion diva. Even though black snow pants are discounted 25 per cent compared to the hot pink option, my daughter falls to the ground as if I’ve destroyed her when I hold up the black pair. Everything must be pink or purple. The boots, the snow pants, the mittens and if I stray from this ensemble, a level five tantrum begins. I don’t need to elaborate on what happened the day we only had black mittens because she had lost the previous five pairs of pink ones (we were extremely late for school).

Currently my daughter sports a purple felt jacket that goes to her ankles and makes her look like a three-foot 1940’s Russian baroness. She refuses to wear a shorter coat. Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles and it is honestly entertaining to watch her strut down the sidewalk in all her glory while also looking distinctly like a mini-Michelin man. Other tips I have picked up now that the toddler years are behind us also include putting an extra hat and mitts in her backpack and asking her if she needs to go to the bathroom before we start putting snow pants on.

I always add on an extra 10 minutes on our winter walk to school because walking with snow pants is no easy feat. My daughter can barely put her arms down because she is wearing so many layers, and that means we must trek slowly. On the other hand, if she does fall from a slippery sidewalk, her puffy winter layers provide some protection from the fall.  Soon enough, we are used to our winter routine, but of course there are initial growing pains when winter first begins.

In the war between parents vs. snow pants, snow pants always wins. The trick is to laugh at the necessary annoyances of keeping our children warm. Winter can be a wonderful thing with the right attitude, and who better to help us crabby parents get excited about snow days then our little children? As long as they don’t scream too much, right?

Enjoy the winter, and remember, stay warm!

How to deal with winter cravings

Winter can be hard. Over the past six months, you’ve been working hard, going to the gym, eating right, and then winter comes along. But, like an old friend, winter comes back into all of our lives to remind us how great carbohydrates can be. Why were you avoiding hot chocolate and marshmellows? I don’t know, it’s delicious, winter says. How about a donut or muffin with your coffee? Shouldn’t you start that Christmas baking now? I mean, it’s almost December.

Stop it winter! Just stop it! Why can’t you just let us be!

It’s the unfortunate side effect of cold weather. Our bodies tend to crave carbohydrates and sugars no matter what our brain tells us, and that can make it extremely difficult to keep on track. Luckily, Women’s Post has your back. Here are some tips to help deal with those pesky cravings:

Don’t stop working out: Did you eat half a dozen donuts last night? Well, nothing you can do about that except try to work off some of the calories. Make sure to continue hitting the gym, even if it means leaving a few minutes early to take into account the slow snow traffic. If you don’t like to make the trek to the studio, try going for a walk. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s also beautiful. Tell your honey to bring a thermos of hot chocolate and make an afternoon of it. Have a snowball fight or go tobogganing. Doesn’t matter, as long as you remain active.

Drink tea: Instead of grabbing that expensive peppermint white mocha with the extra espresso shot and mound of whip cream, try having a peppermint tea. The best part about tea is that there are so many flavours they can be substituted for dessert. How about apple or pumpkin tea? Maybe a chocolate chilli chai is what you need to warm up after time spent outside in the frigid air? Tea also has the benefit of antioxidants, which can help strengthen your immune system and aide in weight loss. Plus, it has the added benefit of tasting good too.

Take vitamin D: Yes, vitamins are annoying. It’s easy to forget to take them, but in the winter, with the clouds covering the sun, it’s extremely important. Winter can be beautiful, but it’s also quite dark, and this darkness can bring out emotions and feelings you didn’t know you had. This weather can also trigger symptoms of seasonal depression. I’m not saying taking vitamins will relieve all of those symptoms, but it will help in controlling some of those intense cravings and lifting your mood.

Try to make “healthy” versions of comfort food: There is nothing Women’s Post can tell you that will make those cravings disappear entirely, so why not indulge a bit and make healthier versions of the comfort food you desperately desire. For example, mac and cheese is a winter favourite. Instead of pasta, try using cauliflower. You can still enjoy the cheesy goodness, just without the extra carbs. Or if you must get that mocha, make it skinny.

Eat what you want, just in moderation: At the same time, don’t deprive yourself. It doesn’t work. It’s hard enough to resist the temptation to gorge on carbs and sugars without the added pressure of eliminating it entirely from your diet. Have a couple of cookies and enjoy that peppermint mocha. Just make sure not to over indulge. Plan for a small daily sweet — a cookie or a chocolate — and don’t you dare feel guilty! It’s winter for goodness sake!

 

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!

How to get the perfect layered look

“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful”.

I love winter. The feeling of snow lightly falling in my hair, the smell of ginger and cinnamon, and, of course, the fashion. I love being cozy, wearing sweaters, scarves, and hats. Sure, it may be cold, but with the right outfit, everything seems warm. For this winter, the trends seem to be heading towards the layered look — an outfit you can wear inside and outside while still maintaining a sense of style.

Here’s what you need to re-create the classic layered look:

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Anthropologie, $98.00


A blouse: This is the “under-layer” of the layered look, if you will. It can be a plan and traditional white shirt with a collar or something a little funkier – as long as the funkier option doesn’t clash with the other layers. These blouses can be worn underneath a sweater with a popped collar and a long necklace or on its own with a cardigan and  a short scarf. Pair with skinny jeans or flare dress pants.

Simons, $39.00
Simons, $39.00

A winter dress: These dresses are made with cotton or wool and look amazing with a pair of warm tights or nylons and an oversized sweater. Pair with some boots or high heel pumps for a more professional look. This type of layered outfit is great for the workplace and for an evening out. Just make sure that you are not going to do a lot of walking in the snow if you opt for more professional heels.

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Anthropologie, $98.00

A sweater: I feel like this one is obvious. A nice sweater can make or break a wintered-layered look. I tend to love oversized sweaters because you can layer more easily, but if you’ve got a body that just screams for more form-fitted materials, go for it!! If you do opt for the more cozy option, make sure it doesn’t swallow you up. There is a fine line between oversize-chic and just too big! Wear these sweaters with leggings and a pair of nice shoes to make it more business appropriate. Remember to accessorize. For form-fitted sweaters, pair with fitted pants and a textured scarf for a more wintery look.

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A cardigan: similarly to the sweater, this one is a closet staple. You can pair it with a blouse as mentioned above, or with a shirt or sleeveless top. It’s important to remember to measure the length of the cardigan according to your body type. Some cardigans can appear rather short on taller women, so make sure it works for you. The trend is to wear the cardigan open, without doing up the buttons, letting it fall in a flattering way.

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A scarf: Because it’s winter, duh. The scarf is the perfect accessory. It protects you from the cold wind while you are outside, and then doubles as a great accent with a shirt or sweater.  It also has the added bonus of being fuzzy. For added texture, pick a scarf that has fringe or intricately woven materials. This will add a more bohemian style to your outfit.

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A hat: This layered look needs a final addition, a winter hat. My personal favourite is a toque or a slouchy hat, something that doesn’t make my hair look ridiculous once I get to the office. The best part about a hat is that if you have a bad hair day, you can always keep the hat on because it’s the winter style!

 

What is your layered must-have? Let us know in the comments below!

Embracing the quiet of November

Winter is cold and formidable, with seemingly endless dark days mixed with the dread of venturing out into the windy snow-blown streets. On the other hand, it is also a time of quiet thought, where the snow creates a peace that summer has never known. Saying that, my favourite month of the year is November. The ushering in of winter is also a silent reminder to take space and revere in silence is a blessing in disguise, something we all tend to forget in the warmer months.

As the longer nights settle in to stay and the clock turns back for the winter ahead, I’ve always felt a change of pace in November. People seem to push each other less on the subway and there is something absolutely adorable about everyone donning their winter layers and looking strikingly penguin-like.  I believe with our inherent connection to Mother Nature and the earth we live in, most of us experience a sort of metaphysical pause when the fall fades into winter. Whether it be drinking a slow coffee at the shop instead of rushing out the door with an iced latte or writing in a journal by the fireside, the elements force us to consider how vital it is to slow down and relax every once in awhile.

Even the land reflects a more relaxing setting for breathing deeply and sleeping in that extra five minutes. The leaves fall from the trees and orange, red, and yellow fade from the landscape only to be replaced with a snowy landscape and a beautiful grey and purple sky. If you luxury of a skyline view of downtown every day at work, you can see the mauves and blues of this sky hinting at winter, and reflecting against the buildings. The November city skyline glitters with silver and purple, and temporarily I can forgive the sun for not showing her illustrious golden hues.

Instead of fearing the emerging winter cold, pull your scarf close and take a deep breath of the fresh air. After you do that, grab a coffee and walk down the street while wearing fuzzy red mitts from Hudson’s Bay. Listen, and what do you hear? Nothing but the sleeping sounds of a city retreating for a moment to relieve itself from the hustling and bustling of spring, summer and fall.

This is also the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed, the memories you made this summer and the love you felt. It is also a time to nurse your heart from being broken if it had been, and forgive yourself for your mistakes. In these moments, you can also dream about your future. What will the next year bring? Who will you meet? Where will you be at this time next year? Before the Christmas craziness takes over and the winter hustle and bustle begins, drink in the meditations of sweet November.

Embrace the quiet of winter for a moment. You won’t regret it.