Learn how to properly de-ice your outdoor steps and walkways.
This winter, transform your outdoor steps and walkway from slippery to safe with these helpful de-icing tips and tricks.
Problem: Icy walkway
1 To remove the bulk of the ice, chip away at it using a long-handled ice chipper. The one you normally use for your car will work just fine. The ice will be thinnest at the edges, so start there, working inward.
2 If any ice is too persistent to loosen with the chipper, melt it using boiled water. Just be sure to have an absorbent rag at the ready to wipe up the water immediately after. The last thing you want is for it to refreeze and add to your workload. Wear thick rubber gloves to avoid scalding your skin.
3 Ultimately, when it comes to ice build-up, the best defence is a good offence. In the future, to prevent snow from melting down and forming into ice, ensure your your walkways are shovelled regularly. To make the work less back-breaking, explore your local hardware store for an ergonomic shovel.
If a bargain-sized bag of ice melter or traction aid is cramping the style of your front entrance, try placing it in an elegant lidded plastic storage bin like the Berkshire from Mayne ( Lowe’s, $178), which looks like an architectural feature. Keep a wood-handled scoop inside it for easy dispensing.
Illustration courtesy of Joanna Kim
Hold the salt
Rock salt has negative environmental and health effects that can’t be ignored. Try these green alternatives for fast slip-proofing.
(From top to bottom)
A volcanic mineral that provides instant grip for your soles, even in freezing rain. Traction aid, EcoTraction, $13.
Pooch-approved and stops new ice from forming for days with an invisible barrier. Safe Paw Ice melter, Pet Valu, $17.
A greener option from a trusted brand. Sifto Safe Step Ice melter, Canadian Tire, $8.
Learn to make your own Irish cream at home.
Learn to make your own Irish cream from blogger Imen McDonnell's The Farmette Cookbook.
Learn how to keep your evergreen fresh all season long.
Find everything you need to know to keep your evergreen fresh and contain the inevitable mess.
Nothing announces the holiday season quite like a fresh conifer. But, as it’s often as tall as you are and prickly all over, a Christmas tree can be quite challenging to manoeuvre. Spring for the optional plastic bag for easy transport, and don’t rush to pull it off. Once the tree is indoors, cut a hole in the bottom of the bag large enough to poke the trunk through, and insert it in a tree stand. Pull the bag down, flatten it around the base of the stand and conceal it with a decorative tree skirt. When you’re ready to say goodbye to the holidays, carefully remove the skirt and shake the needles off outside. Then simply pull the bag back over the tree and haul it out with minimal mess.
Needle in a haystack
Vacuuming tree needles out of carpeting can seem like mission impossible, but it doesn’t have to. Sprinkle the area with baking soda to neutralize stickiness from sap. Then, target needles individually with the crevice attachment. In future, to minimize the problem, choose an extra-large tree skirt.
What’s your type?
Before heading out with wallet or axe in hand, get informed about the most popular tree types.
Fraser fir: Known for its sturdy, well-spaced branches ( ideal for ornaments) and superior needle retention, this high-end tree can be pricey.
Balsam fir: A less expensive alternative to the Fraser, it has similarly stiff branches and a nice woodsy scent.
Eastern white pine: With slender, wispy branches bearing soft needles and a light fragrance (great for allergy sufferers), it’s a delicate option.
Size matters Make sure your tree stand is large enough to contain sufficient water. A good rule of thumb is four cups of water per every inch of the trunk’s diameter.
Remove stubborn sticky sap from carpeting and fabrics by hardening it with bagged ice and then scraping it off. For walls, wipe it away with a bit of baby oil; afterward, remove the oil with dish soap and water.
Dos and don'ts
Do: Have a pro make a fresh cut at the trunk’s bottom, and put the tree up right away. Keep it in constant contact with water.
Don't: Saw the trunk at an angle or in a V shape, or drill a hole in it. These methods won’t aid water uptake.
If you opt for a faux tree, mimic the fresh scent of a real conifer with one of these products.
Fill your room with the fragrance of eucalyptus and pine with this designer tool. Jo Malone London diffuser in Pine & Eucalyptus, Holt Renfrew, $95.
Tuck these discreet green stick-shaped ornaments into your tree for a month’s worth of fir aroma. Scentsicles ornaments in White Winter Fir, Bed Bath & Beyond, $14 per pack of 8.
Poured in festive green glass, this candle emits a jolly woodsy scent as it burns. Scented candle in Snowy Pine & Fir Balsam, Indigo, $20.
Learn how to use everyday materials to create playful winter decorations.
Pull out the string, tape, paper and scissors – with a little creativity, these everyday materials can be transformed into decorations that bring to life a whimsical winter wonderland.
1 Wallpaper: Craft your very own snowfall with these pretty avant-garde snowflakes made by accordion-folding white craft paper into pinwheels and snipping with scissors. Add in one or two bold-hued pinwheels for impact.
2 Wrap stars: A tableau of gifts dressed up in white wrapping will lend an ethereal effect both under your tree and around your home. And don’t skimp on the ribbon – let it trail delicately from the presents in long sweeping curls.
3 Advent honours: Forget brown paper pack- ages – these sweet gift bags embellished with paper cut-outs and “sewn” up with string make a fun Advent calendar. Numbered paper hearts on the ends of the ties indicate the days.
4 Bow beautiful: Rethink the ubiquitous holiday bows this year by making your own signature snowflake gift adornments using white craft paper and scissors. Use contrasting string to attach these beauties to your parcels.
5 Liner notes: Who knew simple white paper muffin tin liners could create such pretty towering trees? Stack them in different sizes and heights for a veritable frost-kissed forest.
6 Branching out: Paper roses have nothing on these fragile flowers made from twists of white tissue. Easy to make and elegant to behold, this simple arrangement is a pure nod to winter.
7 Ball game: Few things are as satisfying as decking your halls with homemade ornaments. These delicate spheres are a cinch to make with strips of craft paper and string. Display them on your table, tree or mantel, or send them off with visitors as take-home treats after a holiday soiree.
8 Clever covers: Dinner guests will love these adorable covers made by cutting patterns into accordion-folded lengths of paper and securing them around drinking glasses with tree candle clips.
9 Snowy settings: Create the perfect holiday table covering by cutting snowflake patterns into a white paper runner. Continue the effect: Use similar stencils to powder the festive treats you serve.
Photography courtesy of Andreas Hoernisch/Living4Media