This is a general catch-all category for the stories that appear on this site.

PROTAG Duet 400

STOP LOSING EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW

Has your handbag, keys or luggage gone AWOL? You won’t need to spend hours looking for lost stuff if you can put an inexpensive Bluetooth tracker on the case.


Mezzi CosmiaNEW NOW NEXT | There’s a new luxury handbag in town and it’s vying for the affections of those who would shell out $1300 for Louis Vuitton’s legendary Neverfull or $1,000 for 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Pashli satchel.

Mezzi matches its high-end competitors for quality and beauty and then goes one step further by packing tracker technology inside its handbags, briefcases and totes. It’s difficult to permanently misplace a Mezzi because each one features a “seamlessly integrated MEZZI Trackr allowing wireless connectivity” between it and your smartphone.

Now that’s a great idea; but really, you don’t need to buy a Mezzi handbag if its just its tracker technology that you want. You can make each and every one of your existing handbags (or your luggage, laptop, keys, whatever) Mezzi smart for as little as $18 with one of the new wave of tiny, inexpensive Bluetooth tracking devices.

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Baggu 400

BACKPACK’S BACK ALL RIGHT

Five not-too-expensive backpacks that are totally on trend right now.

 

zara suede rucksack

 

SHOPPING AROUND | “The next thing I know you’ll be sleeping with that thing,” my husband joked recently after glancing at the Fjällräven Kånken that I’d casually flung on our bed. I know where this observation is coming from. It’s been eight months now since I purchased the mini version of this iconic Swedish backpack (originally designed in the 1970s for school children), and not a day has gone by that I haven’t used it—because it’s just that practical and unobtrusively cute.

Not a day that is until this past Monday. Read more

IMG_0794 copy2

BARKING MAD

Here’s how to make our four favourite variations on classic chocolate bark. (RECIPES)

EASY & DELISH | We are forever on the lookout for spectacular made-in-minutes desserts. Our quest has lead us to ambrosial treats such as Donna Hey’s five-minute clafloutis, Dorie Greenspan’s five-minute apple cake and Teresa Syrnyk’s quick bacon candy. Every one these sweets is two yums up in our book—and so is chocolate bark, the perfect basket-ready candy to share at Easter.

Nothing is easier to make than chocolate bark is, and few desserts have the potential for personalizing that this drop-dead gorgeous confection has.

Here are our top four chocolate bark recipes.

Bark Management

Chocolate bark is basically melted chocolate that has been poured out into a pan and then garnished with candies, fruits, flowers, nuts, whatever. That’s all there is to it. You can use whatever type of chocolate you like and whatever toppings in whatever combinations you want, which is what can make each batch of bark so interesting.

Contrary to what some recipes say, it really is best to melt your chocolate on the stove, in a double boiler (not in the microwave). If you don’t have an official pan, improvise by using a stainless steel mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water.

I like to make bark in bread baking pans. They are the prefect size to turn out slabs of bark that look like supersize candy bars. Be sure to line the pan you use with greased parchment paper so the candy will pop out of it easily.

Barks Worth A Bite

We love Specialty Cake Creations’s white chocolate bark made with freeze-dried strawberries (find them at outdoor stores or Trader Joe’s) and salted pistachios. CLICK HERE for the recipe.

We love Murray Bancroft’s Nowruz-inspired chocolate bark. We made ours with rose petals (find them at Persian markets or specialty food shops), salted pistachios and dried sour cherries. CLICK HERE for the recipe.

We love Healthy-Delicious.com’s  ginger coconut dark chocolate bark. CLICK HERE for the recipe.

We love Martha Stewart’s lime and macadamia nut bark. CLICK HERE for the recipe— eds

White Chocolate Bark - Carolann Rule White & Dark Chocolate Bark - Carolann Rule Martha Stewart's Lime & Macadamia Nut Bark Dark Chocolate Bark - Carolann Rule ealthy-Delicious Ginger Coconut-Bark

Socttie-Pug Dudley Rule - Carolann Rule

GOING CLEAR

This DIY acrylic barrier will stop canine escape artists without stopping the eye.

Socttie-Pug Dudley Rule - Carolann Rule

DO IT YOURSELF  | We love our Scottie-pug dog child, Dudley (pictured here), but he does have one annoying, potentially life-threatening habit. When we accidentally leave an outside door open, he bolts. While this is never a good thing, it is particularly troublesome at my husband’s garden design office where Dudley earns his kibble working as a greeter.

To foil this behaviour, senior landscape designer Kim Stuart came up with an inexpensive all-but-invisible system that eliminates the need to install those supremely unattractive but highly effective baby (a.k.a. dog) gates. Read more

George Lange

PICTURE THIS

This is how you take an unforgettable Photo: 228 ideas, tips and secrets for taking instantly better photos.

The Unforgettable Photograph - George Lange

WHAT TO GIVE | Are you casting around for an inexpensive gift for someone you don’t know all that well, or for someone you do know well but, for whatever reason, everything you can think of to give that person doesn’t feel like a fit?

You won’t go wrong by shooting them a copy of esteemed American photographer George Lange’s The Unforgettable Photograph, written with the assistance of journalist and onetime Vancouverite Scott Mowbray. Everyone is snap happy these days—it’s not for nothing that “selfie” was named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013—and most of what is being shot would be instantly improved by adopting any of the 228 dead easy non-technical suggestions put forward in this meaty $6 picture book.

Here are three favourite takeaways from my now dog-eared copy. Read more

drops Collage Frame - IKEA

You Will Love The Drops Frame From IKEA

How to get family snapshots out of Cyberland and into your living room.

drops Collage Frame - IKEA

 

CHEAP & AWESOME | Although they did not confirm this number themselves, Buzzfeed reported last year that humans take 380 billion photos a year. To that figure I would like to add my own unsubstantiated statistic: 99.99 percent of these photographs will forever reside out of view, most of them in Cyberland.

And maybe that’s a good thing, but displaying some printed photos in your home does keep good times and good people visually at hand without logging into a computer or staring at a digital flip screen. My new favourite way to display snapshots on paper is in an inexpensive Drops collage frame from IKEA. Read more

ikea-regolit

4 Ways To Dress Up Plain Paper Lanterns

Decorating-with-Chinese-lanterns-3
Tissue Paper Stars
Kate Daudy - NYTimes
ikea-regolit

Peel and Stick Letters - The Swell Life


DIY | While inexpensive paper lanterns used en masse contribute enormously to the festive mood in a room (try imagining the space pictured above without them), a plain pendant lantern used on its own can easily look like an uninspired afterthought.

Of course a single Noguchi Araki light sculpture would be beautiful, but shades like these, which are fashioned from handmade washi paper and authentic bamboo ribbing, are anything but cheap.

If you are going to use a cheap Chinese paper lantern alone in a room, why not personalize it in a way that makes it distinctive? Here are four of our favourite eye-catching ways to embellish paper lanterns, plus a how-to video from Martha Stewart that covers some of the basics. Read more

Stack Of Cloth Napkins shutte

Why You Need To Use Cloth Napkins Daily

Here’s why you should use cloth napkins every day—and how (and where) to sew beautiful mitered-corner ones for yourself. (VIDEO)

Stack Of Cloth Napkins shutte

 

MONEY WELL SPENT | You should be using cloth napkins every day not only because doing so will save you money by cutting down on paper waste but also because you deserve nice things, and cloth napkins are nice all around: better next to the skin than paper ones, generally larger and more absorbent. Read more

Generic Drugs - iStock

Generic Over-The-Counter Drugs Are The Better Buy

If you’re buying brand name over-the-counter meds instead of generic ones, nine times out of 10 you’re wasting money.

 

BEST BUY | When it comes to fashion and décor, I can be as big a brand snob as anyone, but it makes absolutely no sense to be a label slave where over-the-counter medications are concerned. Why chain yourself to a brand name “OTC” med when the no name equivalent is available at a seriously lower price? Read more

Baggu Bags

The Awesome Baggu

Why I’m replacing my cache of nonwoven polypropylene shopping bags with ripstop models from Baggu.
  Baggu Bags

 

BUY RIGHT | It was cleanup month around here so I tackled the buildup of shopping bags that had threatened to devour my closet. I don’t know how it happened, but over the past two years I’d managed to accumulate around 50 reusable polyester and nonwoven polypropylene “billboard shoppers” (so called because they often display a company logo) in every size imaginable. These shoppers are awkward and bulky even when folded and gang-bagged, and they easily turn into an unwieldy space-stealing mess when stashed in the back of a car or cupboard.

To add insult to injury, nonwoven polypropylene bags are no better for the environment than those disposable plastic bags they’ve come to replace. Read more