Friday, 14 December 2018

Holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

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Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water - which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset - from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

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Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

That Holiday Glow: Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

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Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

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Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.

Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

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Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

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House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

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A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to - complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year's Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

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Are there no tips listed above? Please share your tips with us in the comment below or on my social media.

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area! 604.218.4846 &

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Impressive Christmas Dinner Menu

Looking for holiday meal ideas? Browse our collection of show-stopping entrees, sides, salads and soups perfect for your Christmas menus.

1. Roasted Sage Turkey with Vegetable Gravy

Total Time:
Prep: 30 min. + chilling

Bake: 2 hours 10 min. + standing
Servings: 16

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2. Pomegranate-Hazelnut Roasted Brussels

Total Time:
Prep & total time: 25 min. 
Servings: 8

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Get recipe here

3. Crown Roast with Apricot Dressing

Total Time:
Prep: 20 min. 

Bake: 2.5 hours - standing
Servings: 12
4. Roasted Apple Salad with Spicy Maple-Cider Vinaigrette

Total Time:
Prep: 15 min. 

Bake: 20 min + cooling
Servings: 8

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5. Bacon and Broccoli Salad

Total Time:
Prep: 15 min. 

Servings: 16

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Get Recipe here

6. Four-Cheese Sausage Rigatoni

Total Time:
Prep: 35 min
Bake: 30 min
Servings: 12

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7. Bacon and Fontina Stuffed Mushrooms
Total Time:
Prep: 30 min
Bake: 10 min

8. Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Total Time:
Prep: 50 min
Bake: 20 min
Servings: 4-6

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Get recipe here

9. Do you want to serve your guests with appetizers? Get Ideas here

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10. And of course - Christmas Desserts!

Rich and Easy Tiramisu Dessert
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What is in your Christmas Menu? Please share with us your  favorite recipe with photo in the comment below or on my social media.

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area! 604.218.4846 &

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Christmas Appetizers for your house party!!!

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Christmas party is the feast everyone looks forward to all year long. Serve your loved ones the ultimate holiday spread with these delicious appetizers, drinks, sides, and desserts - if you do, we guarantee they'll be back again next year.

1. Cranberry Brie Biscuit Dip

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This creamy, cheesy appetizer just may steal the show from your Christmas ham. 

2. Deviled Eggs

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These easy-to-make apps have all the holiday flavors you crave:, like smoked paprika, bacon, and fresh green herbs.

3. Antipasto Squares

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Combine all of your favorite antipasto pieces into one delicious appetizer.

4. Feta and Spinach Tartlets

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These savory tartlets are inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean. Reminiscent of Greek spanakopita, they combine spinach, feta cheese, and fresh dill for a crunchy phyllo dough shell.

5. Roasted Tomato and Garlic Tart

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Made from layers of rolled and folded dough, these puff pastries are buttery and flaky and can rise to eight times its original thickness. For this tasty tart, you can also cut it into smaller bites to create a party-ready appetizer.

6. Stuffed Shells

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Paired with a creamy béchamel sauce, these stuffed shells are sure to make their way into your regular dinner rotation, but you should definitely add them to your holiday spread this year.
Get recipe here

7. Italian Roasted Mushrooms and Veggies

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Get your fix of veggies with this Italian-style baked side dish. With cauliflower, tomatoes, and cremini mushrooms, this dish is full of flavor and texture.

Please share your Favorite Christmas Appetizer recipe with photo in the comment below or on my social media.

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area! 604.218.4846 &

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7 of the Best Christmas Drinks from around the world + recipes

Boozy, warming, and very indulgent – what more do you expect from a Christmas cocktail? Try one of these delicious drinks from around the world while you're wrapping presents this year...

In many countries, nothing says winter quite like the smell of brewing mulled wine wafting through your home. But Christmas is celebrated across many diverse cultures - each with their own parcel of traditions and practices - so why limit yourself to the same festive brews year on year? 

1. Bombardino, Italy

The bombardino is Italy's version of eggnog and made of one part Advocaat and one part brandy. Popular in the ski resorts, it provides a welcome burst of warmth among the snow. Its name apparently derives from the exclamation of one of its first ever tasters who, noting the kick of the alcohol and the high temperature, said: “It's like a bomb!”

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There are several variations of the bombardino: some include rum rather than brandy, and others - like the calimero - have a shot of espresso, too.


* 1 part brandy
* 1 part Advocaate (or eggnog)
* Hot espresso coffee
* Whipped cream, to serve

Place brandy and Advocaat in an Irish coffee mug. Top up with hot espresso or hot coffee, give a stir and adjust to your taste.
Serve hot with whipped cream on top.

2. Coquito, Puerto Rico

This Puerto Rican coconut eggnog is especially popular during Christmas time, and some say it even tops its more popular American counterpart!
It's made by mixing several types of milk with coconut cream, egg yolks, cinnamon, vanilla and white rum. Serve cold, sprinkle with grated nutmeg and cinnamon, and share with family and friends.

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* 2 egg yolks, beaten
* 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
* 1 (14 ounce) can cream of coconut
* 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
* 1/2 cup white rum
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the top of a double boiler, combine egg yolks and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly, cook over lightly simmering water until mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C). The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Transfer mixture to a blender, and add cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum, water, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass bottles and chill overnight.

3. Cuban aliñado, Cuba

Technically, this drink is not a Christmas exclusive. It is part of a tradition that emanated in eastern Cuba: as soon as a woman found out she was pregnant, the family would start preparing the aliñado in time for the child's birth. The drink would age for nine months or so, enhancing its flavour, before being handed out to those who came to visit the new baby.

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It has since been adopted by some, and incorporated into the season's celebration of the Nativity. The three main components are chopped fruit – usually apple, papaya, cherry, plum, fig or pear – syrup and sugarcane liquor (rum). So close your eyes and dream of Havana.


* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup water
* 1 package ciruelas pasas (prunes) ** must have
* Fresh fruits such as: apple (cubed) and grapes
* 2 cups Rum

Make the syrup: Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar. Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and add fruit and rum to taste.

4. Wassail, UK

Otherwise known as spiced cider, this has been a winter favourite in Britain for centuries. It's a good alternative to mulled wine, especially if you have a slightly sweeter palate.
A mixture of all things festive - apple cider, oranges, lemons, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg - it'll warm you on the dreariest of days. 

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* 6 small apples
* 1 cup whole, unrefined cane sugar
* ½ cup brandy
* 2 quarts hard apple cider
* 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 10 whole cloves
* 6 allspice berries
* 6 large eggs, separated
* freshly grated nutmeg, to serve

Heat the oven to 350 F.
Take a sharp paring knife or a melon baller, scoop out a whole at the top of the apples at the stem end without fully penetrating the fruit. Continue scooping the core out of the apple until you reach the seeds, and remove them. Then fill each apple with unrefined cane sugar, reserving any leftover sugar. Place the filled apples in a baking dish, and bake them for 45 minutes at 350 F.

While the apples bake, pour the brandy and hard apple cider into a pot set on the stove over medium-low heat. Whisk in the powdered ginger and any remaining sugar. Drop in the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice berries.
When the apples have finished baking pull them out of then oven and allow them to rest.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl until thick and creamy. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolks, until uniformly combined, but taking care so that the egg whites maintain their loft. Temper the eggs by pouring a half-cup up hot wassail into the eggs and whisking to combine, and then whisk the eggs into the wassail.

Strain the wassail through a fine-mesh strainer into a punch bowl or soup tureen to keep it warm. Drop the baked apples into the bowl, and serve warm with a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.

5. Café Mexicano, Mexico

Fancy a taste of festive Mexico? Their Christmas cocoa has an irresistible chocolate twist, and you can enjoy it with or without alcohol.

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Pour chocolate syrup into a warmed cup - stir in Kahlua or brandy, if you fancy - add the coffee, then top it off with a dollop of thick cream and cinnamon. Hello, heaven.


* 1ounce Kahlua
* 1⁄2ounce brandy
* 1teaspoon chocolate syrup
* 1dash ground cinnamon
* hot coffee
* sweetened whipped cream

Place Kahlúa, brandy, chocolate syrup and cinnamon in a coffee cup or mug. Fill with hot coffee. Stir to blend. Top with sweetened whipped cream.

6. Irish coffee, Ireland

There are many ways to drink Irish coffee, and just as many occasions. But during the festive season, the way to do it is with as many cream liqueurs as possible (within reason, obviously). Along with the Irish whiskey, add in some Kahlua Coffee Cream and Baileys. Top it off with a swirl of whipped cream.

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Hot port is another winter drink favoured by the Irish. As a bonus, it's also thought to cure the early signs of a head cold – perfect! Stir some sugar into a shot of whiskey, pierce a slice of lemon with some cloves, add it to the glass and fill with hot water.


* 6 ounces hot, freshly brewed coffee
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
* 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
* Whipped cream 

Preheat your mug, then fill with coffee: Pour hot water into a mug or heatproof glass to take the chill off. Pour out the water. This will also prevent your glass from cracking. Fill the mug about 3/4 full with the coffee.

Add sweetener: Add the granulated and brown sugars and stir until fully dissolved.

Add Irish whiskey: Add the whiskey and stir to incorporate.

Top with whipped cream: If using lightly whipped cream, pour it slowly over a warm spoon onto the coffee, being careful not to break the coffee's surface. This takes some practice. A more foolproof way to not break the surface is to whip the cream a bit more and dollop it gently on top. Drink while hot!

7. Eggnog

Of course! Our lovely Christmas drink - eggnog.

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Recipe:(single portion)

* 2 oz. Bourbon
* .5 oz. Cognac
* .5 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
* .5 oz. Simple syrup
* 1 whole egg

* Dry shake + Ice shake or Blender

Top with milk , nutmeg, orange zest and Luxardo Maraschino Cherry for garnish.

Please share your Favorite Christmas drink recipe with photo in the comment below or on my social media.

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area! 604.218.4846 &

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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

6 Clever Candle Decorating Ideas That Don't Cost a Thing

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Candle decorating ideas can transform your home this time of year, when night falls early and there's a chill outside. The flickering flames can make things feel both festive and cosy on a dark winter evening.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to glam up ordinary votive candles, which cost very little or nothing at all. Want proof? Check out these candle decorating ideas that use stuff you have lying around the house, from candy canes to leaves and even asparagus.

1. Float them in water

Water-filled jars are an easy pairing with votive candles and green leaves. Tiny tea lights are just weighty enough to skim the water's surface - without going under - and banana leaves are easy to bend and insert. You can also submerge flowers, twigs, rosemary branches, fruit, cranberries or slices of citrus in water.

2. Fill a fireplace

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Sure, you may want actual flames in this spot during a cocktail party or at Christmas party, but sometimes getting a fire going and keeping it stoked is a royal pain when you're trying to pass platters and baste a bird. Instead, skip the newspaper and kindling and create an arrangement of pillar candles. Use different heights or elevate some of them on upturned bowls. You'll have the same pretty glow as a real fire without having to prod it with a poker.

3. Wrap 'em in candy

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Who really eats candy canes, anyway? Put these swirly sticks to better use by gluing them to a pillar candle and then wrapping it all with a ribbon.
If you're not a fan of peppermint, try Twizzlers or chocolate-dipped pretzels. You can also glue on other treats, including Hershey's Kisses wrapped in foil, multicolored gumdrops, and pieces of ribbon candy.

4. Grab a few greens

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Tie together small bundles of branches with twist ties or thin wire, and arrange them on a small metal pan with pine cones and cranberries. Add other bundles to a large glass vase, and fill it with water. You can use greens from your backyard or Christmas tree or pick up artificial ones from a crafts store.

5. Add spices

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Cut or break whole cinnamon sticks to match the height of your candle, and then wrap the pillar with a rubber band.
Tuck the sticks inside the band to secure the spices, and wrap the candle with twine or raffia. Embellish with a leaf or a piece of bittersweet tucked under the twine. No cinnamon sticks in your cupboard? You can also glue whole star anise to a candle. And your DIY efforts come with a reward: a delicious homey scent every time you spark this spicy light.

6. Pick Veggies

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Emerald-hued veggies pop out visually against white pillars. As with the spice candle, use a rubber band to hold the veggies in place and then cover it up with kitchen string or holiday ribbon.

This veggie-centric look is an ideal display at Thanksgiving because it fits the harvest theme of bounty, but the green also works at Christmas (add red ribbons or fit candles inside hollowed-out scarlet produce such as bell peppers and pomegranates).

Please share your Candle Decorating Ideas with photo in the comment below or on my social media.

Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area! 604.218.4846 &

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