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5 stylist-approved tips for decorating your kitchen this holiday season

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Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

You’ve decked the halls, trimmed the tree and hung the stockings with care, but there’s one space you’re probably overlooking when it comes to holiday decorating — the kitchen. “The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s where we spend the most time entertaining,” says Jaclyn Harper, Owner and Principal Stylist for Harper Designs. While it’s important to keep the space functional — so you can still carve up a ham or decorate sugar cookies — there are little tweaks you can make to give your kitchen a festive look.

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1. Choose decor that’s pretty *and* practical







Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

“Opt for things that make your kitchen feel holiday-esque, but are practical for you,” advises Harper. “It’s still your kitchen and you’re going to need to use it on a daily basis.” She recommends layering cutting boards against a backsplash or propping up a mirror or piece of art to add visual interest. “It also creates a bit of a backdrop for a holiday vignette,” notes Harper. “In the kitchen, I like to choose three or five curated items, so you still have countertop space that you can work with.”

2. Elevate your tablescape







Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

“I like to keep my flatware and dishes on display so that there’s no hustle and bustle when guests arrive,” says Harper. In the photo above, the Burlington, Ontario-based stylist used a classic white dinner plate, but paired it with an acrylic marble-looking salad plate to achieve a more layered look.

To bring the sophistication up a notch, she chose a medieval-inspired flatware set by Gourmet Settings. “The Avalon collection, which is shown here, adds a little bit of sparkle to your tablescape, but it’s stainless steel and extremely durable, so you can just throw it in the dishwasher after Christmas brunch.” The three-pronged forks and textured, firescale stems contrast beautifully against the more traditional table setting. “It’s a real conversation-starter for your next party or family dinner.”

3. Go with bigger (but fewer) statements







Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

“Instead of decorating your dining table or kitchen island with a lots of little items in the center, use one big statement that can be easily removed,” suggests Harper. “It will make your holiday events a little less chaotic!” Here she chose a galvanized metal vase filled with greenery that can quickly be transferred to a foyer or bedroom when counter space is at a premium. “It won’t make your kitchen look cluttered because it’s just one large piece.”

4. Incorporate greenery







Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

“A lot of people think they have to go crazy with sparkles and ornaments and all sorts of decorations, when really, just adding a few sprigs of greenery into your everyday elements can make the space feel festive,” notes Harper. If you’re fortunate enough to have a lush backyard, you can forage for free. If not, Christmas tree lots often sell scraps and stumps for next to nothing. “It’s a really cost-effective way to decorate your home for the holidays.”

5. Think beyond red and green







Photo and design by Jaclyn Harper

“When it comes to holiday color palettes, I love incorporating rich plums and dark cherry hues, as opposed to the traditional red and green,” says Harper. “I’ve noticed a lot of people are also opting for navy and green Christmas decor, and rose gold is another big trend this year.” In the kitchen, Harper injects color by tying a bright bow around a bottle of champagne or adding in wintery artwork.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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