Blog · Community

Now’s the Time to Become a Housing Hero

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

This very question is exactly what brought me to the Housing Hero campaign launch for Bethlehem Housing and Support Services on November 22 at the Warehouse in St. Catharines.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the downtown core as the daughter of a local business owner, and now, as a young professional, not only do I work downtown, but I live downtown as well.

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I guess you could say, that in almost thirty years, I have become increasingly invested in the health and wellness of the area. None of us are immune to the many issues our beautiful downtown is facing, but I have recently witnessed the housing issues first-hand and the need for safe and affordable housing is a very real and growing crisis. The increasing number of displaced individuals cannot be swept aside, and, for anyone concerned with the economic state and potential capability of the downtown core, this is an issue that must be addressed.

The average rent for a two bedroom apartment is at an alarming $1107.00 per month right now (rentjungle.com), and mid-to-moderate income families are facing desolate situations. Bethlehem Housing and Support Services have been working tirelessly since its official inception in 1988 to nurture the personal growth of families and individuals in Niagara. This organization has been able to encourage personal development and prosperity to the most vulnerable in our city through affordable housing and other focused services.

Bethlehem Housing and Support Services provide transitional housing to their clients and offer dedicated meetings with support workers, access to support groups, and workshops that help develop important life skills. Once residents move out of the transitional housing program, they are guided to support groups that are available on a more permanent basis throughout the region.

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In partnership with PennTerra Group and FirstOntario Credit Union, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services have been constructing a brand new 127 unit building in downtown St. Catharines, located at 111 Church St. in St. Catharines. This much-needed building will also offer on-site support services, a daycare facility, as well as a naturalized play area. With over 5,500 people currently on the waitlist for affordable housing, this building could not be coming at a better time.

But, as with any large-scale development, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services cannot do this alone.

Lori Beech, Executive Director, called up lines from the Bonnie Tyler song “Holding Out For A Hero” in her riveting call to action during the Housing Hero campaign launch: “I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero til the morning light. He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon and he’s gotta be larger than life.” I had the honor of meeting the current Housing Hero Champions at the campaign launch and they all proved to be larger than life.

Being a Housing Hero means committing yourself to the goal of solving the affordable housing crisis in Niagara. Whether it be through one-time or monthly donations, group fundraising campaigns or hosting fundraising events, Housing Heroes are offering their efforts, time and passion. Bethlehem Housing and Support Services are currently inviting people of all ages and backgrounds to become a Housing Hero.

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Ten-year-old Claire and her sister Evelyn, seven, have been Housing Heroes since Claire decided to ask for donations instead of gifts for her eighth Birthday. Juliet Dunn – vocalist, performer and co-creator of the TD Niagara Jazz Festival, uses her beautiful voice to draw attention to the need for affordable housing in her role as a Housing Hero. Jimi Russell – Housing Hero and Niagara’s Selfie King, is using his childhood experience with homelessness as motivation to ensure that children in Niagara can flourish in the safe environment he never had.

To find out more about Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, or for information on how you can become the next Housing Hero visit bethlehemhousing.ca or housinghero.ca.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world.”
— Desmond Tutu

Blog · Home

Room By Room – Getting Organized

I’ve been following the Apartment Therapy social media account for quite some time and was thrilled to find out they have some really fantastic books published. I thought it would be great to feature a section from the book Apartment Therapy – Complete & Happy Home called Getting Organized.

Organizing your space isn’t just about bins and shoe racks and drawer liners. It really is about creating areas of high functionality that will actually increase happiness and peace of mind.

I’ve pulled some information from the book and added some of my own tips that I have utilized in my home.

KITCHEN
– Let function dictate storage. Coffee near the coffeemaker. Dishtowels near the sink. Spices near the stove. You get the idea. When you can, buy sets of dinnerware, glasses and storage containers. Of course mix and matching is trendy but sets will stack neatly and make the best use of your shelf space. Put all your dry goods in matching airtight containers. It will look cohesive and keep everything fresher longer. Here are some amazing mason jar containers a friend made for me. Not only do they look adorable but I can cut down on plastic by taking these containers to places like Bulk Barn to buy my dry goods in bulk!

ENTRYWAY
– Temporary landing space, not a permanent dumping area. Keep only regularly used coats, shoes and accessories in this space. Move anything else to a spare closet or storage. Seasonal organization will keep this area decluttered and high functioning.

BATHROOM
– Keep only your daily essentials out and easily accessible. A small tray or container will keep your products from taking over the entire countertop and limits spills. Make sure items that guests will need (toilet paper, bathroom spray, soap and lotion) are visible to avoid an awkward situation. Nobody wants to have to rifle through other people’s cupboards (okay maybe some of you will do that anyways).

OFFICE
– The top of your desk is for items you use EVERYDAY ONLY! Everything else should be out of sight. Invest in wireless technology whenever possible. Tangled cords = chaos. Don’t forget visual inspiration. A vision board will keep your dreams where they belong – in clear focus.

TV ROOM
– This is a great place to get cozy. But don’t let your throw blankets and pillows take over. Consider storing them by season in a trunk that can double as your coffee table. Opt for all-in-one gadgets to limit the number of console and remotes. Keep it simple. Consider double-duty furniture that acts as storage and seating when you have more than a few friends over.

BEDROOM CLOSET
– My number one tip: separate by seasons. Take a couple days every season and rotate to a spare closet. It will make your wardrobe selection less time consuming and will free up tons of space. Grab a few baskets to organize worn clothing – one for dark laundry, one for light, one for the drycleaners and one for anything that needs to be repaired. Find a storage system for your shoes that works best for you – whether it be a shoe rack or individual plastic bins.

The most important thing to remember when getting organized is that it needs to be personalized! A organizing system that works for someone else might not work for you. Switch it up if you need to but always stick with it, you’ll feel the difference quickly I promise!

Blog · Health & Beauty

Deaf Leopard …… What?

“Catie you have profound hearing loss in both your right and left ears. You are hearing with the capacity of a 70 year old person.” I couldn’t believe what Dr. Lo was telling me – well I kind of could – maybe I was just in denial. Tears streamed down my face. “You really need hearing aids”.

Okay okay let’s back up the bus a bit here. You’re probably asking yourself how I got myself to this point. To be honest I never really gave much thought to my hearing. As silly as it sounds I kind of just assumed my straining was normal. Despite some people in my life casually mentioning my hearing, it never occurred to me that I was different than anyone else. That continued until I had been at my current job for almost a year. I spend the entire day on the phone and I started to notice I was misunderstanding more and more conversations. I was also finding myself to be extremely exhausted by the time 5PM rolled around. It wasn’t a physical exhaustion really it was more a mental exhaustion – if that makes any sense. So I asked my family doctor to send me to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT) for a hearing test.

I saw Dr. Shirley Lo at the end of November for my appointment. During my hearing test the audiologist stopped all of a sudden to ask me “Have you ever worn hearing aids before?” YIKES I thought to myself – this isn’t going well. After the test was complete I was taken to another room to meet with Dr. Lo about the results.

And now we find ourselves where this post started off. “Catie you have profound hearing loss in both your right and left ears. You are hearing with the capacity of a 70 year old person.” Dr. Lo informed me that she had never seen results so poor from a person of my age. She told me that I definitely needed hearing aids in both ears and felt that due to my age I would respond extremely well and would be able to take great advantage of the advancements in hearing aid technology. I started to cry. Dr. Lo looked completely heartbroken for me and grabbed me a Kleenex box from across the room – I guess she wasn’t used to this kind of response from her patients.

Every single instance where I had to say pardon to someone or nod because I had already said pardon twice, every joke I felt I didn’t understand, every time I felt awkward in a social situation came flooding back to me. Holy shit I couldn’t hear! Based on my hearing test results Dr. Lo drew the conclusion that my hearing loss was likely hereditary and that I had probably been learning to adapt to it since my mid-teens. She was extremely impressed with my diction and clarity given the level of my hearing loss.

I made an appointment at Connect Hearing Clinic about a month later for another hearing test and to be fitted for my new aids. As I sat once again in that sound-proof booth I actually thought to myself “hmmm maybe they were wrong the first time” knowing full well that wouldn’t be the case. The results were the exact same as the previous test. That day I picked out my two hearing aids.

About a week later my aids were ready to be picked up. The audiologist took great care in making sure I had chosen aids that were suited to my lifestyle and as streamlined as possible. They matched my hair and honestly, it was love at first sound. Since that day, it has been almost 3 months with my hearing aids – I still cannot believe everything I was missing. Coach’s nails on the hardwood floor, the rustling of papers at work, I even heard the rain for the first time in who really knows how long.

Of course there was that part of me, that very small part, that worried what people would think of me once they noticed I was wearing hearing aids. But when I went to my parents house that first day wearing my new aids – my Dad told me how proud he was of me for facing my hearing impairment head-on and I thought to myself “I am who I am” hearing aids included.

Blog

James (Jim) Cordes 1946-2019

I’ve been trying to find the words for this post for quite some time now yet every time I tried to type I had no clue where to begin. I considered not doing it all, just moving on to the next fashion trend that caught my eye or the latest popular culture news that everyone else was talking about.

But then I started to feel like that would be a really shitty thing to do. How could I claim to be living authentically or claim to present a blog that really was reflective of my life if I didn’t REALLY reflect on my life. Yes my life includes fashion and books and essential oils and wellness but as of January 18th 2019 my life now includes the loss of my Dad. One can never be fully prepared for the loss of a parent but being able to write my Dad’s eulogy was the most important honour of my life and what better way to talk to you about him than to share some of my words from his celebration of life:

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My Dad, Jim Cordes was born on Thursday April 4th 1946 in Port Dalhousie. He always found so much joy entertaining us all with tales of his adventures growing up with his younger brother Mike. My Dad’s love of the water began there and continued on throughout his life. He was always happiest at a cottage on the lake or having a beer on the dock of our family home in Harbour le Cou, Newfoundland. As a child Dad definitely had a mischievous quality that usually ended up getting him into trouble. But even has an adult this quality somehow made him more endearing to everyone that loved him.

Dad met his life partner and our amazing Mom Debbie in 1972. He was absolutely smitten with her and loved nothing more than to tell anyone that would listen just how beautiful she was. They were married in November of 1978 in St. Catharines and celebrated their 40th anniversary this past Fall. My parents were the perfect yin and yang. She was the realist to his daydreams, keeping him grounded and focused while he showed her spontaneity and indulgence. Mom and Dad loved to entertain at home. He took so much pride in the homes they created together. He had a knack for being able to fix pretty much anything, an amazing green thumb and was a genius with the barbecue.

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As Dad suffered more and more physical limitations over the last couple of years it became my Mom’s turn to take over different duties around the house. Some of the best memories I have of my parents were created in the last few months of his life watching them work together to sort out these roles. Dad was an almost always patient teacher and my Mom was a brave and eager student. Every time she conquered something new I couldn’t tell who was more proud, her or my Dad. Mom also took on the role of my Dad’s caregiver. She was always tolerant and encouraging and to the very end made sure my Dad was comforted and secure and safe.

My Dad loved to be a Dad. He was fiercely protective of his girls and like Mom, thought we were the most beautiful things in the world. That was one of Dad’s best qualities. He gave his admiration and love so freely. He never held back from being affectionate or telling someone he cared for them. It was extremely commonplace for Dad to tell us how much he loved us and how gorgeous we were in his eyes. Although in our younger, more awkward years, we may have scoffed at such compliments, we never had to go long without receiving such necessary and genuine praise. Dad worked so hard to give us everything we ever dreamt of, little did he know he did that everyday just by being him.

Many times since losing my Dad I have felt so lost and without direction. Where do I go now? What do I do now without the anchor of his knowledge and his faith in me. It’s like being lost at sea or something…. Feeling as though my sails have been removed and I am drifting further and further without help or guidance. But as I keep moving forward, making decisions and creating new layers of my life I realize that my Dad spent the last 32 years of my life filling my boat with all the tools I will ever need for a truly successful voyage.

My job now, is to rely on what he has taught me, have faith and always ask my self – WWDD (what would Dad do).

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Blog · Health & Beauty

Summer Self-Care With Jolene Antle

I love the Summer just as much as the next person BUT sometimes I have a hard time adapting my self-care routines to changing needs during the heat and humidity of July and August. My skin becomes different, I’m bored of drinking gallons of water to stay hydrated and the heat waves make me cranky and tired.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to meet Jolene Antle – an amazing female entrepreneur from Niagara. Jolene is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and founder/owner of Garden City Essentials and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the latest and greatest in skincare and self-care.

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She began researching and formulating natural skincare products as part of her own journey to lead a healthier lifestyle when all-natural skincare and wellness products weren’t as easy to come by as they are today. In early experimentation with botanicals, clays and oils, Jolene discovered happiness in her kitchen and sustainable self-care rituals that promoted feelings of peace, self-love and awareness.

I visited Jolene’s store this past week and we had a great conversation about her favourite products that can help enhance your self-care routines during the Summer months.

Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water – $44

This all-natural Collagen Beauty Water supplement should be added to everyone’s daily health and wellness regime – especially in the Summer months. Collagen helps to enhance skin, hair and nails and also provides a boost to joint health during many people’s busiest time of the year. The Lavender and Lemon flavor is refreshing without being overpowering and can be added to water, smoothies and tea!

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Onyx Air Tight Containers – $11.99 to $32

Made with food grade stainless steel these air tight containers are the perfect option for a waste-less lifestyle. Take these containers on your Summer picnic or use them as to-go containers when dining out! Write your name on the lid with a non-permanent marker to make sure fellow employees don’t snatch your homemade lunches at work. Available in a variety of sizes. Complete your Summer picnic set with the Onyx Black Cutlery Set for $8.99 and their Stainless Steel Straw for $4.50.

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Garden City Essentials Nourished Hydration – $56

Sea Buckthorn and Camellia Facial Serum, our super “skin-food” blend provides a generous dose of antioxidant Vitamins C, E and A to target free radicals, fight the signs of aging and environmental damage and promote collagen production. It will leave your skin feeling soft and nourished without feeling greasy.
You will love using the Serum in combination with the Rose Geranium Facial Toner to boost the hydration, balance pH and accelerate the absorption of oils into the skin. It’s such a perfect pairing that Jolene created a bundle that will save you $10 when you purchase these two together.
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Province Apothecary Radiant Body Oil – $58

Jolene recommends this luxurious body oil for all skin types! The blend of plant-based essential oils quickly absorbs deep into the skin without leaving a greasy film behind. The fresh fragrance of this body oil makes it a great option to use after your morning shower. The avocado oil is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A, D, and E and omega-3 fatty acids which deeply penetrate skin to fight dryness, dullness, and dehydration (when you haven’t been drinking as much water as you should be – hello patio cocktails).

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Garden City Essentials Honey and Clay Mask – $39.95

Hot Summer months can really dry out your face not to mention more than usual sweating leaves us with pesky blemishes we aren’t always used to. The honey in this mask is a natural humectant – which means it helps to draw moisture to the skin and the kaolin clay provides gentle, non-drying cleansing. Touches of Frankincense and Myrrh provide powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits!

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Consonant’s The Perfect Sunscreen – $45

We cannot stress this enough – every skincare routine MUST include a high-quality SPF. What sets this sunscreen apart is that it is 100% natural and has a non-greasy formula that leaves behind no white residue. With an SPF of 30 and no fragrance it is literally the perfect sunscreen for everyday use.  The best part? This sunscreen has a hint of mica tint which helps to give you a healthy glow!

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Garden City Essentials – Deodorant Cream – $22

Has your natural deodorant been coming up short this Summer? This is the answer! Garden City Essentials Deodorant Cream uses kaolin clay and arrowroot powder to keep you dry and fresh all day long. It is super easy to apply and has a light, gender-neutral scent. It is available in a 1oz jar for $6 and a 4oz jar for $22.

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Garden City Essentials has expanded from a primarily online business, to a sweet boutique and community hub in downtown St. Catharines. Focusing on natural wellness, beauty and lifestyle, GCE offers an in-house created, small batch skincare line, as well as a curated collection of the best in green beauty and lifestyle products.

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Blog

Everyday Tips For Busy Moms

This week we are featuring a Guest Post by Jessica, a self-employed Mother of five and Grandmother of two. Read on below as she shares her top 5 tips for navigating the busy and hectic life of Motherhood.

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Jessica and her husband Billy

When we enter the role of Motherhood the hopes and dreams of what we thought it would be like are soon replaced with worry, overwhelm, guilt, and exhaustion. Each of us evolve into the new role in our own way, leaving behind pieces of ourselves that gather dust in the background, while creating the “supermom” we all believe we should be.

As a Mother of five, and a Grandmother of two, I have spent many years trying to create a balance between who I was and who I have become, all while battling crazy schedules, time limits, daily tasks and everyday “holy shit” moments that come along with being a busy Mom.

I have discovered a few tips that I would love to share with my fellow busy Moms:

1. Start your day for you
It has taken me many years to learn to fit myself into the life I have with a large family. Going to the gym is something I love to do but working full time and caring for all these little humans has left the treadmill and weights in a untouchable space. I joined my favourite gym to once again try and make this work. The early mornings are not always pleasant but after that workout, I feel like the day can hit me with anything and I am good to go.

2. You are not alone
Married, divorced, or single from the start, we are never alone. Do not carry that dirty feeling of guilt because you ask for help. Just ask, someone is always there. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I rely on my village and praise them for every moment of breath they give me to get through the next day.

3. Leave it for tomorrow
The dishes, the sticky kitchen floor, the laundry that may or may not be clean (sniff test) will all be there tomorrow! I will admit, I am one who struggles with this daily, and I try and remind myself, it is OKAY if its not finished before I close my eyes hours after everyone else. It will get done!

4. Love on your partner
For those of us who have a partner, whatever shape that appears, love hard on them. When you are tired, can’t remember when the last shower happened, or if you have eaten that day, take a moment to connect with your partner. They will give you that extra boost you need to push on.

Lastly, for the time being –

5. Teach your children
A busy Mom tends to forget they have little humans that once at an appropriate age can help with all kinds of things! It can be as simple as making their beds or wiping down the kitchen table after meals. Not only are you teaching them real life skills, they are also easing the load you carry.

 

Blog

Delicious Summer Reads

Summer is the perfect time to lay out with a cold beverage and dive into a fantastic read!

Here are my Top 5 reads this season:

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On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

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He has a type: all his victims look the same. And they all look like you. Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her. It could, of course, be a simple coincidence. Or maybe not.

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Anna is recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times and spying on her neighbors. But when Anna sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control?

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When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house. And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own…

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When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to a hen party in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new and a haunting realization creeps in—they are not alone in the woods.

Is there a book you think I would love to read this summer? Send me a message or leave a comment below!