October 21, 2015
Tips and tricks for your next soiree
Try some of the tips and tricks at a new Paramount Citrus website dailysqueeze.com to guarantee your gathering will be a blockbuster to remember.
* Get your grill on: Now is the time to tune up the grill. Creative grilling starts before your meat and veggies hit the heat, and a splash of citrus flavor is just what they need to stand out among the crowd. Find ways to add an extra kick of flavor to any barbecue dish at dailysqueeze.com. Add the tang of freshly squeezed lemon juice to chicken marinades and the kick of lime zest to spicy dry rubs for steak and chops.
* Shake up some cocktails: Grab a variety of spirits with a few favorite mixers. Place them in a designated area of the room along with lemons and limes for garnishes. This will take the burden off you to feel required to replenish your guests' drinks and let you enjoy your party. If you're looking for that perfect refreshment and a signature drink for your party, try making this simple yet delicious lime cooler from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Los Angeles' acclaimed Border Grill.
Minty Lime Cooler
Makes 2 servings
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from a Paramount Citrus lime
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
1 (12 ounce) bottle cold sparkling water
lime slices and mint sprigs for garnish
Combine the lime juice, sugar and mint in a blender. Puree until smooth. Fill two tall glasses half-full with ice cubes. Pour half of the lime juice concentrate in each. Top with sparkling water, garnish with lime and mint and serve.
For a Mojito, adults can pour 1 ounce white rum into tall glass with ice, and top with Minty Lime Cooler.
* Choose a theme: Everyone loves a good party theme. Pick a food theme like southern barbecue or Mexican. Ambiance is also key, since it will set the tone of any party. Invest in some fun patio lights, lanterns or tiki torches to place around your yard if you plan to utilize your outside space.
* Don't forget the kids: If you know children will attend your party, have kid-friendly items ready for them to play with such as chalk or bubbles. Better yet, rent a bounce house. The kids are sure to entertain themselves for hours while parents can take a break and enjoy the party.
With these tips, your soiree will be the talk of your neighborhood, and your friends will be sure to request an encore performance next year.
Be sure to visit www.dailysqueeze.com for additional recipes.
October 13, 2015
How much would it really cost to replace your home?
(NC) Ask any Canadian homeowner to name their biggest investment - their real pride and joy - and most likely they'll say it's their home. It's their sanctuary with the pristine lawn, beautiful garden, finished basement, and renovated kitchen. When such a paradise exists, why would anyone want to risk losing it? But what if disaster struck and your place was severely damaged by fire or some other catastrophe. Are you certain that your insurance policy would cover the rebuilding of your house and the replacement of all the contents? Unfortunately, this answer often comes too late that the homeowner isn't adequately covered. The property insurance experts from Desjardins Insurance have some answers and suggestions to help you.
- First, be prepared. The first three days after an emergency are the most critical. So consider creating a 72-hour emergency kit. Typically it will include 3 days' worth of water for each person in your family, imperishable food stuffs, candles, flashlight and batteries, and a first-aid kit. Next, take an inventory of your belongings. Be thorough because it's easy to underestimate the total value of your possessions. Include furniture, jewellery, electronics such as computer equipment, game systems and television, along with clothes, shoes, boots, pots, pans, other personal and household items. Take particular note of expensive items such as antique furniture or other valuables.
- Read your policy carefully. It's important to remember that your home insurance will not cover every type of major loss. The typical home insurance policy will cover a fire loss, as well as damage caused by lightning, windstorms, hailstorms and even tornadoes. Standard homeowners' policies in Canada exclude flood damage. However, policies generally cover other kinds of water damage, for example from a sewer backup or a burst pipe in your house. Desjardins Insurance is one of the few companies that also cover damage caused by water seepage through basement walls or floors.
Your policy may be worth more than your home. Many people believe that if their home is burnt to the ground, they would automatically receive full market value for their house. This isn't true. The value of a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild the house, not to sell it on the market. The actual replacement cost could end up being either greater or less than the market value. Replacement costs will include the material (lumber, roofing shingles, siding material, carpet, drywall, etc.), and the labor and architectural services. There are also additional costs associated with the demolition and clean-up of the site before construction, which can be expensive in a crowded city neighbourhood. The location of your home could be a factor too. For example if you're located in a remote or rural area, travelling expenses and supply transportation need to be taken into consideration.
For more information about your insurance policy and the replacement value of your home, speak to your insurance provider. Or for immediate answers, call or visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.
October 13, 2015
Ideas for small bathroom remodeling
While you plan to re-work the bathroom space, the first thing you need to consider is its design. While working on bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, try not to change the existing layout and plumbing. You can either add or reduce the elements, but avoid shifting the major elements. If you have a bathtub then you can consider adding a shower enclosure. With the required shower fixtures and a classic shower curtain, you can enjoy the soothing shower as well as the relaxing bathtub. Apart from this, add a wall hung vanity to the basin. Corner, wall hung basin is best to be added instead of pedestal basins that occupy a lot of space. Utilize the corner space as much as you can. If you are adding a shower stall consider using glass as this will not give a blocking effect.
Once the basic design is worked over, you need to add some extra storage here. Remember that lack of storage is sure to make your small bathroom look cluttered and messy. As mentioned above, add wall hung bathroom vanity that will not occupy the floor space. Make arrangements to place your towels, bathrobes, etc. Have a vertical mirror over the basin and add small shelves on either sides of the mirror. These shelves will help you place the toiletries. One of the best small bathroom remodeling ideas is to add more shelves and closed cabinets on a side wall where you can keep grooming essentials and other bathroom accessories.
Color it Fresh
Giving a fresh coat to your bathroom needs no mention while you remodel it. Browse through the remodeling ideas for small bathrooms and you will find a lot of lively colors covering the bathroom walls. While it is best to paint small spaces in lighter shades like white, peach, lemon yellow, you can consider adding spicy element with a hint of flashy shade. Go for wall texturing or add a dark shade between the light colors. If bathroom walls are covered with tiles, make sure you clean them and the grout thoroughly and make them anew.
Spice it Up
Once you have finished implementing the basic bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, it is time to spruce up the area. Add decorative accent pieces like potted plants near the entrance and empty shelves. You can use decorative show pieces, wall hangings and frames to play up the bathing area. Use colorful, scented candles and decorative candle holders to further brighten up the small bathroom remodeling designs.
With the aforementioned bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, get ready to have a great looking bathing space. Make sure you maintain uniformity in terms of colors to get the best effect while bathroom remodeling for small bathrooms. With latest bathroom fixtures that area available in classy finishes and designs, you can give a grand touch to the area. Fresh and bright colors will help give a lively look to the bathroom designs for small spaces. So when are you remodeling your small bathroom?
by: Mamta Mule
October 7, 2015
Take these steps to get your financial house in order
(NC)-It's hard to stay organized in any aspect of life, but keeping your financial records in order is one of the most important things you can do to help your family should a crisis occur.
A recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) showed that only one in four Canadians could easily locate their vital documents, so let's get organized to lessen anxiety when the unexpected happens. Here are some suggestions to get on the right track:
Step 1: Collect all of your financial records such as insurance policies, bank account and safety deposit box information, investment statements and more.
Step 2: Collect your personal data such as wills, powers of attorney, social insurance numbers, passport numbers, health records, computer passwords, etc.
Step 3: Once you have all your records gathered together, set up a filing system to organize the information. The Virtual Shoebox, located at www.clhia.ca, is a free online tool that can help you save important personal and financial information in one place so that family members can easily locate them in an emergency.
Step 4: Make sure you store this information in a safe place such as a secured folder on your computer, a safety-deposit box, or in a locked fireproof box.
Step 5: Finally, be sure to tell key family members or friends or your lawyer where this information is stored so they can find it easily and quickly.
"It's so easy not to think about it now, but taking a few minutes to organize important documents can be such a relief, especially when disaster strikes. Not only does it make our lives easier, but it can make a world of difference to a loved one who has to locate this information," says Wendy Hope, the vice president of external relations for CLHIA. "Organizing key information can help save time and money, and lessen anxiety for all concerned."
September 29, 2015
Life is loud but you can enjoy a quiet home
Home life is changing, so sound dampening is more important than ever. Life is getting louder inside and around the home. Televisions, home theaters, computers and video games blare from almost every room. Family cell phones ring or buzz, making life loud.
Your home's insulation can do more than keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. With the right selection, your insulation can help transform your home into a quiet retreat and sanctuary from the outside world.
Sound dampening is becoming a requirement for modern families, so if you have the opportunity to re-insulate your home, sound-proofing insulation is an excellent choice to escape the everyday hustle and bustle. Stone wool insulation, for example, is a top choice for professional recording studios. This material is an excellent acoustic barrier that actually absorbs the sound. For homeowners, retailers point to a performance tested product called, Roxul Safe 'n' Sound mineral wool insulation. It provides higher sound absorption against low frequency (bass) ranges that other types of insulation struggle to block.
For the best soundproofing results, install the mineral wool insulation in your home theater, basements, home office, laundry room, furnace room and even the washrooms. Installing mineral wool insulation on the interior walls will control sound, delivering peace and quiet.
September 29, 2015
Four fast fixes for a fabulous shower
For many people, the shower is an escape from reality ... perhaps the only 'me time' in an otherwise hectic day. But if your current shower isn't living up to your relaxing expectations, it may be time for a facelift.- Don't think you have the time or money? Don't throw in the towel just yet - an improved shower is within your reach. Simply follow these four quick and easy fixes that will make an amazing improvement to the everyday enjoyment of your shower.
Shower curtains may keep water where it should be, but they also have a tendency to make a shower feel smaller, dark and cramped. An easy solution to this problem is to install a curved shower rod. These unique rods add an elegant and luxurious look to the room while also moving the curtain away from your body, creating a more comfortable experience and adding up to 7 inches of elbow room. --Moen offers a variety of styles, including a double curved shower rod that can be used to separate the decorative curtain from the liner - or to provide an additional bar to hang towels. Whatever curved shower rod you choose, be sure to coordinate the finish to match the rest of your bath fixtures.
Downsize and organize
Fewer people are living alone these days, reports the National Association of Home Builders, which means you likely share your shower with others. A shower shelf is an ideal solution to provide adequate storage and keep everyone's everyday essentials neat and easily within reach. The Moen Home Care Designer Grab Bar with Shelf adds the storage capabilities of a straight or corner shelf with the safety of a grab bar - all with a stylish design in the latest finishes.
Chance of showers
A simple showerhead update can dramatically improve your showering experience. With several styles available, the only difficult part is figuring out which one will suit your needs the best.
Rainshowers - If you're looking for relaxing, full-body coverage, a rainshower is the right choice for you. These showerheads are often larger than their standard counterparts, allowing the user to receive all-over coverage rather than a concentrated spray.
Handheld showers - With a handheld shower you're able to bring the water flow directly to you. This type of shower allows for any family member - no matter the size or age - to safely and easily shower.
Standard showerheads - Standard showerheads are far from basic. With many collections offering multi-function spray settings, it's easy to create a personalized showering experience.
Hang it up
The final step to a fabulous shower experience is to ensure you have a place nearby to hang a warm robe and towel. Adding a robe hook or towel bar just outside the shower is a simple solution that can also add a stylish accent to your bathroom. If you currently have a Moen faucet, be sure to select the matching Moen accessories to ensure complete coordination throughout your bath. Moen also offers several non-matching collections, such as the Parlor Collection, which coordinate with a variety of bath faucet styles.- The Moen Parlor Collection features a unique pullout robe hook, which allows each hook to be used traditionally, or extended to hang multiple items. And, once you've added new accessories, finish off the renovated space with a plush robe and matching towel set.
By following these simple and inexpensive fixes, your shower can become an everyday retreat for relaxation and enjoyment. For more information visit www.moen.com.
September 23, 2015
Butter chicken can be a healthy choice
(NC)-A little prep in the morning will a go a long way in creating a flavorful and nutritious family meal that cooks while you are at work. Start with spice-coated chicken and a healthy pantry staple pasta sauce. Let it simmer all day in the slow cooker. Finish it off with rich Greek yogurt and lime at dinner time. This dish can be served over quinoa or basmati rice. This traditionally rich butter chicken dish is slimmed down in sodium and fat while maintaining amazing aromas and flavours.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 4-6 hours on HIGH or 8-10 hours on LOW
Serving size: 250g
Calories per serving: 307
• 2 cups (500 mL) Healthy Choice Diced Tomato with Onion and Garlic pasta sauce
• 2 tsp. (10 mL) each: ground ginger, curry powder
• 1 tsp. (5 mL) each: ground cumin, cinnamon, coriander
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cup/375 mL)
• 1 ½ lb. (675g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into 2- inch (5 cm) pieces
• 2 tbsp. (30 mL) melted, unsalted butter
• 1 tbsp. (15 mL) lime juice
• ½ cup (125 mL) 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt, optional
• ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro, to garnish
• In small bowl combine all spices, set aside.
• Place onion in ceramic insert of slow cooker; add chicken; sprinkle with spices then top with melted butter and Healthy Choice Diced Tomato with Onion and Garlic pasta sauce.
• Stir, cover and cook on HIGH 4-6 hours or on LOW 8-10 hours.
• Stir in lime juice and yogurt (optional) before serving. Garnish with cilantro.
Tip: Make extra of the spice mixture and store for your next "better for you" Butter Chicken.
Visit Facebook.com/HealthyChoiceCanada for more recipes and cooking tips.
September 15, 2015
Five steps to create a customized outdoor living space with railing
(BPT) - Railing can upgrade any deck from drab to fab - adding style, as well as safety and support. In fact, it's often the one element that truly sets your outdoor living space apart from others in the neighborhood. Here are five steps to create the perfect perimeter for your deck.
1. Find ideas at your fingertips - From contemporary to classic, you can choose from a multitude of modular railing options in a variety of colors and materials to give your outdoor living space a dose of personality. Use the new Railing Configurator on the Trex Color Visualizer iPad app to experiment with more than 1,200 design combinations. Available for free in the Apple iTunes store, the app allows you to virtually mix and match posts, caps, rails and balusters, as well as change the backdrop to emulate your own outdoor living environment. Save images of your favorite designs and automatically generate a list of materials to make the purchase process easier.
2. Select low maintenance materials - When choosing railing, demand the same durability and high performance that you expect from your decking, so that you'll be able to spend more time relaxing on (rather than maintaining) your outdoor living space. Unlike wood, composite railing won't warp, rot or splinter and never needs sanding, staining or painting - even after years of exposure to the elements. In fact, it washes clean with only soap and water.- -
3. Preserve a picturesque view - Whether your deck looks out over a tranquil lake, a dramatic mountain range or just a meticulously landscaped backyard, the proper railing makes it possible to fully enjoy your vantage point. With its sleek and unobtrusive appearance, Trex Reveal Aluminum Railing maximizes scenic views by spanning long lengths for panoramic sightlines. Available in three neutral colors - charcoal black, bronze and classic white - Trex Reveal can be customized to suit the taste of any homeowner with two baluster options (square and round) and two post choices (aluminum and composite).
-"In addition to highlighting the beauty of your outdoor surroundings, aluminum railing offers unparalleled strength and features a powder coating that resists corrosion and color fading," says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex, the world's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing. "For ultimate peace of mind, Trex Reveal is also backed by a 25-year limited warranty." For more outdoor living tips and ideas, visit www.trex.com.
4. Look to regional style trends - While personal taste is the biggest influencer when selecting railing for an outdoor living space, many homeowners look to the architectural styles of their particular regions for inspiration. For instance, on the East Coast, traditional colonial style balusters and crown profile railings remain most popular. However, West Coast homeowners tend to prefer sleek and streamlined railing components - including handrails and bottom rails with more contemporary beveled shapes. To learn about trends specific to your area, flip through a locally published home improvement or home decor magazine.--
5. Lighten up - Enhance the beauty of your railing and lengthen the time you can spend enjoying your deck with outdoor lighting that may be installed on rails and post caps. Not only will lighting set the mood for evening cocktail parties and al fresco dinners, but it also will add safety and security. Consider LED dimmable options to maximize energy efficiency.
September 15, 2015
Minestrone Soup with Mushrooms
(NC)-Minestrone is a thick Italian vegetable soup and is an easy way to feed a gang. Leftovers even taste better the next day. Vary the beans and pasta as desired.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes
4 slices pancetta or bacon, diced
2 tbsp olive oil (optional) 25mL
2 medium onions, diced 2
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped 2
2 celery stalks, sliced 2
2 garlic cloves, minced 2
10 cups chicken broth 2.5 L
1 can (28oz/796 mL) tomatoes 1
1 cup whole wheat macaroni or shells 250 mL
1 lb sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups/1.5 L)500 g
1 tsp Each dried thyme and basil leaves 5 mL
1 ½ tsp dried oregano 7 mL
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) mixed beans*, 1
drained and rinsed
4 cups torn fresh spinach leaves 1 L
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional) 5 mL
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 250 mL
In large soup pot cook bacon until fat is rendered (if it is very lean add 1-2 tbsp (15-25 mL) oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to boil and then lower heat; simmer covered for 10-12 minutes or until vegetable are almost tender. Stir in tomatoes, (breaking up with a spoon) macaroni, mushrooms, herbs and beans. Cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until pasta and mushrooms are cooked. Taste and add hot sauce if desired. Just before serving stir in spinach leaves. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle generously on top.
Makes 10 Servings
*Mixed beans are a medley of kidney beans, chick peas, romano beans and black eye peas
Variation: Substitute stewed, herbed or diced tomatoes for whole tomatoes.
Tips: For easy preparation chop all vegetables in food processor. Make the soup a few days ahead and refrigerate covered or freeze but don't add spinach until it is reheated ready to serve, so that it keeps its colour.
Nutritional Information:Per Serving Calories: 224 Protein : 13.4 g Fat: 7.8 g Carbohydrates: 24.9 g Dietary Fibre: 5.3 g
For more delicious recipe ideas visit Mushrooms Canada at www.mushrooms.ca.
September 9, 2015
Do-it-yourself weekend warrior survival guide
(BPT) - It's the do-it-yourself dream: deciding on the perfect DIY project just as the weekend finally arrives. All the supplies have been purchased and you're ready to dive right in. However, the enthusiastic start of the project doesn't always end in completion.
"Knocking out a big home improvement or do-it-yourself project in one weekend can be a rewarding task, but it is also challenging and can be taxing on your knees, feet and back when standing in the same position for several hours," says Mark Clement, home improvement expert and co-host of the national radio show MyFixitUpLife.
Whether you are woodworking at your workbench or staining a piece of furniture in the garage, Clement offers these tips to make the most of your DIY weekend projects while also feeling comfortable enough to successfully finish them:
Focus on form and technique. When learning a new technique, go slowly, step by step, until you've mastered it. Allow your body to become accustomed to the various motions required. Moving efficiently is one of the best ways to avoid injury.
Stay hydrated. Make it a priority to drink at least 125 ounces of cold water each day. Staying hydrated is important when exerting DIY energy, especially in the summer heat. So whether you're digging up the garden, roofing the shed, or wrenching in a no-AC garage, keep a water bottle or sports drink close by.
Create a comfortable workspace. Be conscious of how long you are standing in the same spot working on your project and how your back feels. To relieve pressure and soreness on feet, knees and back, use a durable mat like the Stanley Utility Mat that is engineered with an optimal balance of cushion and support.
Dress appropriately. Flip-flops and sandals do not offer the balance, protection and support that a sturdy closed-toe shoe or work boot does while tackling home improvement projects. Even if you have the grace of a ballerina in the workshop or yard, it is remarkably easy to drop things on your feet and it only takes a small distraction to create a big problem.
Know your limits. When you only have a weekend to finish a big project, you might be feeling the pressure. Before the project even starts, accept that it may not all go according to plan. Plan for a few different scenarios and remember that you can always ask for help.
Have a first aid kit. Even if you are being extremely cautious, accidents can happen and it's best to be prepared. Keep a first aid kit with all the essentials (antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn cream, etc.) near you at all times and seek professional medical help if necessary.
For more information about the Stanley Utility Mat, visit homedepot.com and to tune into MyFixitUpLife visit http://myfixituplife.com/DIY/.
September 2, 2015
Learn the details of counter depth refrigerators
If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.
This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.
If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.
Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen's image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.
Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.
by: Heather Mills
August 25, 2015
Can internet marketing be a long term business?
Here is the honest truth: most people get into Internet Marketing because they are convinced it is an easy way to earn quick money. Their approach is to make a fast website, put up some advertising and a few affiliate links, then sit back and watch while they earn real cash. There are a large amount of individuals who do this and also earn lots of money on the internet. But what if you want more than some extra or even quick cash? Can Internet Marketing really be leveraged to produce a worthwhile and long term career?
The quick and dirty answer is that yes, you are able to make Internet Marketing your long term and sustainable career. You only need to take on the project properly. The procedures and programs you use to build something to earn fast money are not all that different than the methods and systems you will use to build long term profits. So what would you do if you need to develop a sustainable career on the internet?
It is very important that the first thing you do, in order to earn long term money online, is accept the fact that you are going to have to do real work. You will have to do actual and real work on a daily basis. You will have days when you feel fantastic about what you do and days when you wish you could find something else to take on. This means it's just about like every other occupation out there. If you want to produce lasting cash flow by working a lot right now and not at all later on then you are going to be in for a rude awakening. So be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
There are a few ventures that lend themselves much better to a long term career than others. Affiliate marketing, to use one example, is a great job for someone who wants to earn money on a part time basis or to supplement your already existent income. Is it truly possible to earn a full time income in this manner? You could if you pick out only the right products and then work like crazy to promote them. A far better approach, nevertheless, is to create your own products or websites and then promote those. This gives you full control over the projects you take on and how you accomplish them. And you will end up more likely to stick with it in the long run. If you want to give a service on the web, this works much the same way. Writers, for example, need to create websites for themselves and create portfolios that they can point to as examples of their work.
Finally, perhaps the most significant thing that you need to recognize is that, when you want to build a long term and reliable income on the internet, you need to truly dedicate yourself to your task. You might have fun and feel rewarded by your efforts, but first you should tell yourself "yes, I really want to do this." Making a half-hearted effort is not about to get you anywhere.
by: Tanaka Ara
August 25, 2015
5 upgrades for under $5,000 to put your home at the top of every buyer's list
(BPT) - It's a sobering truth of real estate that sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers - and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.
Here are five upgrades you can make for under $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer's must-see list.
1. Upgrade your entryway
- Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report.
Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.
2. Increase natural light
- More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with adding a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star qualified, solar powered no-leak fresh-air skylight, like those from Velux America. Professional installation costs nationally ranges from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
The low installation cost will leave you plenty of budget to enhance the skylight upgrade even further with energy efficiency-boosting solar-powered blinds. The skylight and blinds are operated by remote control and the blinds are available in designer colors and patterns to enhance your décor. The products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit to further reduce the cost of the improvement.
The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening this much-used workspace. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.
3. Beautify a master bathroom
- Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home's appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels.
If you've already done all that, take a look at the floor or countertops - two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don't make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom's look and usability.
4. Heat things up in the kitchen
- Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you've already done the obvious - like repainting and decluttering - it's time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers.
Just as in the bathroom, swapping old faucets and cabinet hardware with new designer options can enhance the appeal of a kitchen. Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don't necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.
5. Lavish landscaping
- No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer's first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings.
With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home's energy efficiency in summer. Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home's curb appeal.
Whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this season.
August 19, 2015
6 simple steps for you to follow for a clean and organized garage
Your garage's main function is usually to safeguard and store your car, truck or motorcycles. That can't take place if your garage has turned into a glorified storage unit, stuffed to the rafters with boxes, toys, tools, bikes, strollers and everything else you either don't have room for or just don't want in the house.
Below are 6 easy to follow steps that will help you clean and organize your garage and seize control once again.
Step 1 - get everything out of the garage and sort it all into groups. Categorize it all and put everything into groups with like items. For example, toys with toys, carpentry tools with carpentry tools, yard tools with yard tools etc. Make a pile for trash, anything you don't want that you can sell in a garage sale and items to give away.
Step 2 - Get the appropriate organizational tools and supplies. After you've grouped everything, decide on exactly what tools and resources will help you organize these items better.
For example,do you need shelves? If so what kind... a free standing shelving system or shelves mounted to the wall? Do you need storage bins, cabinet systems, tool chests, peg boards, hanging roof systems, hanging bike racks, hooks etc.
Step 3 - Clean garage. As soon as you empty your garage it's important to take time to sweep out all the loose debris and remove cobwebs. You'll appreciate your garage much more if it's clean so make sure to sweep and dust routinely.
Step 4 - Decor. This does not mean you need to remodel your garage into pseudo-living room, however you could think about a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Next think about the floor?
Lots of people prefer to paint and seal the floor of their garage to protect it from stains and also makes cleaning easy. Transforming your wall and floor surfaces will have a enormous effect on the appearance of your garage.
Step 5 - Arrange Items For Storage. As soon as you are done with cleaning the garage (floor and walls) now's the time for you to put everything back. Place those items that you use on regularly within easy reach.
Put items less frequently used further back in the garage or higher up on shelves or in cabinets. Putting labels on shelves, bins and boxes will make it a lot easier for you to find what you're looking for.
Step 6 - Lastly, make some rules for yourself and family members and implement them. Rules along the lines of, "Always return the items you used back to where you got them," needs to be put into practice at all times if you plan on keeping your garage clean and organized.
If you follow these 6 simple steps, in no time you will have a clean and well organized garage. Not only will you be able to park your car in your garage but you'll also be able to find anything want when you need it. One more thing, don't forget to have a garage sale to help get rid of all those unwanted items and put some cash in your pockets!
by: Walter Jensen
August 11, 2015
Curb appeal puts your home in big demand
In a market where sellers are in competition to make the most out of their largest investment, improving your home's first impression is one of the best ways to set it apart from the rest of the pack.
When prospective buyers or renters drive through your neighbourhood, what do they see? This is a really important question that you need to answer because it will help understand what your buyer is going to be looking for in a new home. Once you've answered this, ask yourself objectively if the front of your home is in keeping with the rest of the houses on your block. The first impression is critical in setting the mood for prospective agents and buyers. If your home's exterior looks like it needs work, then people immediately assume that it's a 'fixer-upper'. The opposite is true if your front yard is manicured, the roof is in good shape and the driveway is in good condition. Having a potential buyer walk into your front door in a positive mode can translate into big dollars for you.
Both Virginia Tech and the University of Guelph did studies in 2011 that measured the effect of landscaping on property values, and they both came to the same conclusion. To improve curb appeal, basic landscaping increased the home's value by 5%, but more extensive landscaping including decks and patios increased the homes value up to 15%.
So where do you spend the money?
Set your budget and be realistic about what you're trying to accomplish with it. Keep in mind that you are trying to create an excellent first impression to attract potential buyers. This isn't the opportunity for you to realize your landscaping dreams. Consider a new paint job using a colour scheme that highlights the character of your home. Install a new front door or at least update your door's hardware. Even something as simple as full and healthy planters can make a favourable impact.
One of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal is to have a clean and tidy front yard with a manicured lawn. Maybe this is the opportunity to invest in some new tools to help do the job properly. The best part about this type of investment is that not only will your plants and lawn look better with edging, pruning and cutting, you also get to take your new tools with you once you've sold your home.
The technology for landscaping tools has made the purchasing task much easier as well. Now you can get a hedge trimmer, string trimmer or sweeper & vac all in one system. With the Black & Decker 36V Lithium system, for example, you can use the same battery and charger for all three of those tools. A quick prune of the shrubs with the hedge trimmer, followed by a 'one-around' with the string trimmer and then tidying up with the sweeper will help you to maintain the front yard as short as 10 minutes per day.
The goal is to create an emotional connection at the first glance of any prospective buyer, so before you put that sign on the lawn, be sure to spend enough time at the curb.
August 11, 2015
Make the most of one's living space
Is your living space a place for show, only utilized when you are entertaining? Living rooms, as their title suggests, should not only reflect who you are towards the outdoors world, but they should also be lived in. Here are some recommendations for getting your living space warm and inviting for visitors as well as functional and comfy for household members.
In case your living space is large, divide it into smaller locations through the positioning of furnishings. You would like the "conversation pit" to become cozy - a couch and loveseat and a couple of chairs close to a large cocktail table will seat many people, yet they'll all have the ability to hear what the others are saying. A great place for household meetings as well as for entertaining. Make certain all seats are within reach of a table - someplace to arrange those drinks and chips!
Face the couch to an architectural focal level, something like a fireplace or a large window that looks out to your garden or even the city lights. If you don't have an architectural component to work with, produce one by hanging large photos or a mural on a wall. This allows people to admire the artwork and it's safer than hanging something large over the seating (especially in locations susceptible to earthquakes!). Hang cloth wall hangings or little photos on the wall behind the couch. Don't, however, hang a mirror where people will see their reflection all of the time. Not everyone is thrilled by his or her picture.
If you divide your living space in two or 3 seating and/or eating locations, use rugs to outline the talking space, another beneath the eating table, and another space to exhibit the Buddha you brought back from Thailand, or a wall of bookcases that not only maintain your books but additionally display your assortment of antique toys. Area rugs work well, more than waxed hardwood floors or neutral, wall-to-wall Berber-style carpeting.
An ornamental space divider, like Japanese shoji screens, can be utilized to separate a large space right into a living space and a Tv space. In a smaller place, face the couch to a wall unit that holds the television - it's certain to turn out to be a preferred gathering spot for the household.
The days of covering the "good" living space furnishings with plastic are over! Leather or even the new microfiber fabrics are simple to clean, look great, and can survive visitors, children, and pets. If the furnishings are in neutral colors, add colorful ornamental pillows. Remember to keep a couple of throw blankets close to stay cozy on cool nights.
In case your living space walls are painted in mild neutral shades, you'll have the ability to change the furnishings and ornamental touches easily. Other ways to change the look of one's living space are by including tall plants or a silk tree, a permanent flower assortment in a basket or tall vase, and even a fountain or little pond in a sufficiently large area.
Don't overlook lighting! Floor lamps, especially in darkish corners, can brighten large locations, while desk lamps can provide good light for the preferred reading/knitting chair. An assortment of candles on the mantelpiece or a desk adds ambiance to your living space. Now go ahead, live inside your living space.
by: Amy Wells
August 5, 2015
Mine, yours, and ours: Managing your money as co-CFOs
(NC)-Managing your finances has its challenges - just like managing a successful business. Managing money as a couple? No difference. Whether you're married, engaged or living together, differences of opinion when it comes to the family finances are bound to arise. However, with some mutual planning, communication and support, couples can overcome almost any money obstacle that falls their way.
"Picture your family finances as you would business finances, and like any business, it needs a plan to succeed," says Sandy Cimoroni, President, TD Mutual Funds and head of TD's Women Investor Strategy. She recommends a fresh approach is to tackle family finances together, as co-CFOs.
CFOs are a company's Chief Financial Officer - they invest the company's money, monitor the cash flow, and handle long term financial planning. "By following this approach, you can work together to manage the family finances: determine your overall goals and objectives, then assign responsibilities for managing the day-to-day finances and monitoring progress towards reaching long-term goals."
Whether you're buying a home or renovating your current one, planning a career change, saving for a child's education or investing for your retirement, it's important to recognize the impact that each of these goals has on your overall financial plan. A key ingredient for success is balance - it may be a good idea for one person to pay all the bills, but it's important that both people are informed about where the money goes each month.
Similarly, one CFO may take the lead on investments, but it's important that the investment strategy reflect the long-term goals of each partner, and that each partner have an understanding of how they are investing to achieve their goal. It's essential to find ways to be equally engaged in all money decisions: decide together what is mine, yours and ours.
"Once you have a plan, the everyday financial decisions are understood and endorsed by each partner. This can help remove stress around money management and help provide confidence about your current and long-term financial health," Cimoroni says.
One way to feel informed and in control is to consult an expert, something more and more couples are doing together. From gaining financial education to investment knowledge, advisors help couples work together - and then take their financial plans to new levels of success.
"At the end of the day, working together on finances can be a positive experience," Cimoroni adds. "It's not just about communication. It's about creating and executing your plan, and then reaping the rewards."
July 28, 2015
Teach your children money smarts
(NC) Teaching kids about money is as important as teaching them to read and write. But how can parents start early to develop their children's financial know-how?
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) suggests that as soon as kids can count, parents can introduce the basics about money, such as the value of different bills and coins, where money comes from, and how to use jars for savings and spending. As kids grow older, parents can add concepts like income, expenses, budgeting, and defining financial goals, for example, saving for a special purchase.
Talking about money when children are present allows them to become familiar with financial terms, and helps them understand household expenses that are part of the family budget and the difference between needs and wants. Lessons they'll need as adults to make smart financial decisions.
The Manitoba Securities Commission's Make it Count resource helps teach these basic lessons. FCAC's life event, Teaching Children about Money, shows parents how to provide basic money management skills as children grow. An interactive online resource developed by FCAC in collaboration with the British Columbia Securities Commission. The city teaches young people financial skills that will serve them throughout their lives. It can be taught in a classroom or used individually. All these resources can be found through itpaystoknow.gc.ca.
November is Financial Literacy Month and presents opportunities for Canadians of all ages to enhance their financial knowledge. Organizations across the country will host events that help build money management skills and knowledge. You can find events in your area on the calendar of events at itpaystoknow.gc.ca/flm.
July 28, 2015
Dig out of the red to keep your finances on track
(NC) With recent statistics suggesting that more Canadians are in debt and taking longer to pay it off, saving for the future might seem next to impossible. But personal finance experts say that if you have the right support and resources, digging yourself out of the red and saving for the future might not be as difficult as you think.
"There is a huge misconception out there that working with a financial advisor is only for those who have a lot of money," says Wade Stayzer, the vice president of retail and investment services at Meridian, Ontario's largest credit union. "But the reality is that working with a trusted financial advisor is the first step to getting your finances on track - no matter what your bank balance looks like."
A trusted financial advisor can coach you on ways to get out of debt sooner and minimize the amount of interest you're paying on your current debt. And very importantly, they can help you create a realistic budget to ensure you're living well within your means. They can also help you put a plan in place to save for big ticket items like a first home or renovations, as well as save for the future.
Meridian offers tips to help you tackle your debt and save for your financial future.
- Create a personalized financial plan: Work with a trusted financial advisor to create a plan. Be honest with your advisor and give them the full picture, making sure to include everything, such as daycare and commuting costs. It's important to meet with them at least once a year to re-evaluate your plan and make any adjustments necessary to keep you on track to reaching your financial goals.
- Be strategic: Pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum on the rest of your debts. Once that first debt is paid off, concentrate your efforts and funds in paying the next debt with the highest interest rate.
- Invest automatically: Saving for the future today isn't difficult if you put your savings on auto pilot. Many financial institutions provide pre-authorized contribution (PAC) plans, which automatically transfer funds from your chequing account into your savings investments on regular intervals. PACs are a great tool for contributing to RSPs and if you coordinate the withdrawals to align with your payday, the money won't even be missed.
- Make financial resolutions: Be more proactive about your personal finances and start getting organized for the new year now. Determine what your goals are and work with your trusted financial advisor now to build a plan that will set you up for financial success next year.
- Take advantage of other resources: You can get some great budgeting advice from a variety of sources including software programs that help you track your day-to-day spending.
"Many financial institutions like Meridian," says Stayzer, "also offer online household budget calculators that you can use to keep track of your expenses."
More information is available online at meridiancu.ca.
Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.
July 22, 2015
Cook up a whole new look for your kitchen
We spend hours in the kitchen socializing, keeping the family organized, and, of course, cooking and eating. As the center of the home's activities, the kitchen should be as fun as it is functional. With just a few supplies and a free weekend, you can cook up a whole new look for your kitchen.
Warm up the walls
Changing the color and texture of walls is an easy way to add some spice to any kitchen. Paint the walls a deep red or blue for a dramatic look, or make your space feel light and airy with a coat of sunny yellow or subtle taupe. Feel free to experiment with decorative painting techniques, such as stripes, geometric patterns or textured finishes.
After you've freshened up the color and texture of your walls, express your personal style through a few new accessories. An antique clock, a picture collage or shelves with colorful canisters are decorative, as well as functional.
Change up the cabinets
Liven up basic cupboards by switching the hardware - it's a simple way to give your existing cabinets a whole new look. Use crystal knobs for a vintage touch, or add stainless steel handles for an ultra-modern, sleek appearance.
And, don't forget about the functional aspect of your cupboards - install shelf liner to ensure cabinets stay clean and well-maintained. Shelf liner protects cabinet shelves and drawers from wear and tear, prevents scratches and keeps spills or drips from damp dishes from causing damage to surfaces.
"I recommend using shelf liner in any kitchen renovation project," says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford television series. "It's simple for any homeowner to install and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or thrown in the washing machine. My favorite is Easy Liner from Duck brand - it offers an array of non-adhesive and adhesive shelf liners that are stylish and practical for use in any kitchen."
The most popular variety, Smooth Top Easy Liner has a smooth surface that catches messes and spills as they happen, making clean-up a breeze, while the non-slip, gripped underside keeps the liner firmly in place.
Transform your table
Create a delightful dining space with a few changes to your kitchen table. Use a staple gun and a bright fabric to recover your chairs, making items you already own look like new additions to your home. You can even create a new tablecloth using the leftover fabric. Then, design your very own placemats using Smooth Top Easy Liner for a decorative touch that's easy to wipe clean as well as replace.
Make sure to add a chic centerpiece - a vase of fresh flowers, a glass bowl filled with fruit or a collection of candlesticks - to transform your existing tabletop and create a focal point for guests as they enter the room.
Brighten the basics
Adding color from floor to ceiling is a great way to improve the overall feel of your kitchen. To start, try adding accessories to areas of your kitchen that feel blase. Bring in color at the highest points of the kitchen by adding faux plants or interesting knickknacks to the space above cabinets. Then, look low and consider the floor. Placing a colorful area rug beneath the table can bring additional interest and color to the kitchen, while also protecting the floor against scratches.
Window treatments are another effective, eye-catching way to make any kitchen pop, whether you're adding new valances, cornices or even long panels. When choosing fabrics, make a statement with bright colors, or choose an unexpected, bold pattern for a contemporary approach. Sophisticated stripes, pretty plaids or fun florals are also a nice choice for kitchens. Follow these tips to make your kitchen as chic as your dinner is delicious - you'll create a flavorful design that will look good enough to eat.
July 14, 2015
For the love of investments
While online investing offers a level playing field to women and men, there are differences between how the genders tackle their investments. The largest motivator driving women to become more involved in managing their investments is a life event. For men, it's knowing how much money they have now, compared to what they will need in the future.
"Women tell us their engagement is rooted in the future use of the investment such as saving for a child's education; men on the other hand are more driven by achieving the target amount they have set for themselves," said Michael MacDonald, vice-president of strategy at RBC Direct Investing. "The key motivator for each gender differs, but both recognize the importance of being knowledgeable and involved."
Confidence also continues to be a divergent factor between the sexes. Men are more likely than women to agree that they are good investors. MacDonald adds that there are many resources available to build that knowledge and gain confidence. For example, RBC Direct Investing offers to its online investors:
• Practice Accounts, a no-risk way to test investing strategies and develop investing skills.
• Portfolio tools, to help online investors build their portfolios and chart their progress.
More information is available online at www.rbcdirectinvesting.com.RBC is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.
July 14, 2015
Ideas for flooring in your home
Your home is your paradise, and if you are planning to renovate your home, go for the changes that not only catch your eye, but that they are also comfortable for you and your family. Remodeling is associated with adjustments in every nook and cranny of the home. If you are going to change the flooring of your home, there are some tips for flooring different parts of your house.
There are plenty of options when it comes to flooring in your bedroom. Being the most private and personalized part of your home, your bedroom is the place which uses a big part of your budget whenever you are remodeling your home; you can use carpet, tile, hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate. Play with different materials in different rooms; you can opt for striped light and dark shades in your boy's room so that if your son is going to create mess ( which is unavoidable), the flooring can withstand the burden, and also the flooring can bear heavy traffic of the folks coming in the bedroom. For more powerful scratch and water resistant flooring, you can choose laminate.
Living room flooring:
Most of the traffic in a home happens in the living room, with people coming in and out of the house. It is highly recommended that the flooring should be strong enough that it can endure all such wear and tear done with your furniture, or to the increasing and decreasing ratio of visitors. For this purpose you can opt for hardwood flooring. Being classy and sophisticated in look it is the perfect choice for your living room whenever you are remodeling your home.
Design the floor of your kitchen in such a way that it not only looks pretty, but also gives a practical impression. You can choose from vinyl, tile, natural stone, wood, cork or laminate. A floor covering that is water resistant and durable such as tile, is the best choice to protect against potential water damage. Make sure when you choose your floor to order a little extra of the product, in the event that you drop something like a pot on your floor. If the flooring material is damaged, you will be sure to have enough to repair the floor because often, floor manufacturers have high turnover of their products, to insure a continual buying cycle. Most flooring contractors add 5-10% additional square footage of the flooring product to their purchase order to insure they have enough for the project and to provide the client with a little extra flooring for future use.
July 8, 2015
Sensible snacking solutions
When mid-morning or afternoon hunger hits, that dreaded energy drain can make us reach for a little boost. It is tempting to grab indulgent snack foods, so it's wise to plan out well-portioned, healthy snacks ahead of time.
These perfect portion ideas from the Almond Board of California make smart snacking decisions easy:
• A nutritious snack is packed with nutrients and has fewer than 200 calories.
• Energy-boosting snacks should contain protein, fibre and very little added sugar.
• A perfect portion of almonds is one ounce (28g) or 23 almonds - about a handful - and contains 3.5 grams of fibre and 6 grams of protein.
• One tablespoon (15 mL) of almond butter has about 100 calories, 1 gram of fibre and 2 grams of protein to help keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Try these power-pairings for the ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up:
• Whole-grain bread or apple slices with almond butter;
• A small handful of whole natural almonds and dried fruit;
• Sliced turkey with mustard;
• Low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and granola;
• Air-popped vegetable chips or soy chips and hummus;
• Handful of whole natural almonds and an ounce of cheese;
• An ounce each of dark chocolate and almonds.
Or, assemble this bite-sized snack. With only three ingredients, it is simple to prepare, plus the 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fibre will provide you with energy during those mid-morning or afternoon slumps.
Dried Figs Stuffed with Almonds and Cream Cheese
Makes 2 cups
½ cup (125 mL) dried black or golden figs
¼ cup (50 mL) reduced-fat cream cheese¼ cup (50 mL) whole natural almonds
Make a lengthwise slit in each fig, not cutting all the way through. Spread a teaspoon of cream cheese inside each hole, and stuff with one or two almonds. Serve.
More information is available online at AlmondBoard.com.
June 30, 2015
Thoughtful design in everyday spaces
Have you ever stopped to consider how much thought and effort went into the design of the spaces you visit every day? You may not realize it, but your favorite restaurants, neighborhood grocery store and go-to movie theater follow some very specific design principles in order to create a unique space that is both visually appealing and user-friendly.
Much like home designers, commercial architects and interior designers think of spaces in their totality. To a commercial designer, every area - from the entryway to the public bathrooms to the behind-the-scenes storage areas - must be considered when working on a new project. One way commercial designers help create a unique look and feel throughout public spaces is through the use of repetition. Repeating a pattern, color or texture in more than one area of a space lends a feeling of continuity.
According to Judd Lord, director of industrial design at Delta Faucet Company, this attention to detail makes commercial environments a great place to look for design inspiration.
'Highly-designed commercial spaces allow people to get a sense of what their own home may feel like in terms of color palette, textures, combination of materials and accents prior to actually committing to a design,' Lord says. 'For example, visiting high-end hotels can provide a great way to 'live' in a particular design aesthetic to see if it suits you.'
The next time you stay at a hotel, look for hints of repetition. You may find that the orange sofas in the lobby, for instance, carry through to your guest room pillows or decorative accents. Or, perhaps the wrought iron door handles match the window hardware perfectly. The small touches that regularly go unnoticed help to create a distinct sense of place in commercial spaces. When deciding what design elements to incorporate into a commercial building, designers consider not only how certain aspects can enhance overall design aesthetic, but also how they can be used to promote functionality in the space. For example, when designing an entryway, commercial designers must think about who will be using the space and for what purpose. While a banquet hall designer may prefer curving staircases to help create the feeling of grand luxury suitable for weddings and debutante balls, it is likely that they will also incorporate an elevator to ensure the space is accessible to all guests.
The important role functionality plays in commercial buildings is perhaps demonstrated most readily when taking the public bathroom into consideration. For instance, a single-room bathroom with a plush sitting area and vanity mirror may enhance the shopping experience for customers at a high-end boutique, while busy shoppers at large malls may prefer multiple stalls to help avoid long bathroom lines. For both of these spaces, innovative products can help enhance the bathroom experience through increased functionality. For instance, on Delta faucets that feature Proximity Sensing Technology, the entire faucet acts as a sensor, activating the flow of water instantly and effortlessly when it detects the presence of your hands. Faucets that employ this type of technology are more dependable than traditional infrared sensors - which can be unreliable in low-light or when wearing dark clothing and are more susceptible to vandalism that can impair the functionality of the faucet and make the bathroom experience a little easier for consumers in public spaces.
Building materials must also support the overall purpose of a space. Residential building materials are often chosen solely to help portray a specific design aesthetic, while materials used in commercial developments must be chosen with both durability and esthetics in mind. Everything, from the floorboards to the light switches, must be able to withstand the wear and tear of repeated use as these spaces may be visited by thousands of people per day. While a small amount of wear in a private home may make the environment feel more welcoming and warm, the public tends to regard the same amount of wear in a commercial space as being aged and out of date.
The next time you are out shopping at the grocery store, try to appreciate the smallest design details, such as the layout of shopping aisles that make it easier for you to navigate the store and return home more quickly. Attention to these details not only helps a business operate efficiently, but also creates a better experience for you, the consumer.
June 30, 2015
Top tips for fire-proofing your home
(NC)-It is always important to employ fire safety procedures in the house, but it is especially important as warmer temperatures return.
"Your home is a major investment, both financially and emotionally," says Royal LePage broker Steve Gray. "That's why it's crucial that you take measures to fireproof it."
Gray recommends the following five tips for ensuring the safety of your family and material possessions:
1. Avoid plugging too many electrical appliances into one outlet. Overloaded outlets can cause house fires. In fact, in the United States, an estimated 5,300 residential fires annually are caused by overloaded outlets.
2. Sleep with bedroom doors closed. A bedroom window can serve as a fire escape route. As such, keeping the doors closed to sleeping areas to isolate smoke and heat will provide more time to escape.
3. Routinely check electrical appliances for irregularities. Be sure to replace or repair any malfunctioning appliances. Whether gas or electric, appliances need a careful watch.
4. Use a chimney sweep service at least once per year. In doing so, you remove soot, blockages and any accumulating creosote, thereby reducing the potential for a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney over time.
5. Remove combustible and flammable materials from your attic. During the summer, your attic can be warmer than the rest of your home. The heat can easily increase the temperature of items stored there. Relocate these items to a cooler place. If you take some simple fire safety measures around the home, you can sleep soundly, knowing you've done your due diligence.
More information is available online at www.royallepage.ca. www.newscanada.com
June 24, 2015
You saved it - you can spend it too
(NC)-Saving and investing for retirement is important. But how and when to spend what you have worked so hard to accumulate is just as important, if not more so. Retirement planning expert Debbie Ammeter of Investors Group suggests that there are several key considerations:
Retirement date - If you decide to retire before age 65, each extra year will be one less year of saving and investing. If you retire after 65, you can continue the tax-saving, income-building advantages of your RRSP until the end of the year in which you turn 71.
Retirement lifestyle - You may decide to keep working full-time or part-time, perhaps start a business. If so, you can afford to save less in advance because even a modest amount of extra employment income can go a long way.
Retirement income - Include all income -ranging from your personal savings, company pensions, investments held within RRSPs or TFSAs and non-registered investments to government sources including the Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) and Old Age Security. Retirement paycheque - Identify your continuing costs and expenses. Take inflation into account and the happy fact that you could need that income for 40 plus years. Establish a mix of investments that will bridge the gap and deliver the cash flow you will need without depleting your underlying assets.
Taxes - Minimize taxes with a withdrawal plan for your registered and other income-producing investments that takes full advantage of all the tax benefits available to you, such as age and pension income credits, while avoiding OAS clawbacks.
More information on this topic is available from the Investors Group, or contact a financial advisor to get specific advice about your circumstances.
Editor Note: This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Quebec-a Financial Services Firm), presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments.
June 17, 2015
Think of lighting as art for your home
Lighting is possibly the most powerful tool you have when it comes to interior design. It does not make sense to invest in beautiful furniture, rugs, paintings and accessories if they are in the dark. The perfect light fixture not only illuminates a space - it is also a beautiful, decorative design element.
"When looking for a light fixture, think of yourself as a curator looking for a perfect piece of art," says interior designer Laurie Smith, known for her role as a featured designer on the hit television show Trading Spaces. Smith says, "Like art, a fabulous fixture can make a strong design statement, as well as provide illumination for your space."
Often consumers do not realize the difference updated lighting can make in their homes. Smith suggests finding one special piece and building a room around it. "In design school, we learned that lighting is the most exciting and mysterious medium in design. Lighting is sculptural; it's textural, it's exciting," she says.
"There are so many varying styles and designs in lighting today that the possibilities are endless. Different materials and shapes are just part of what goes into determining that perfect fixture," says Smith. "For instance, do you want the shape of your piece to contrast with your room's schematic or coordinate with it? Taking a traditional fixture and placing it into a modern setting creates interest through contrast, while taking a sleek modern fixture and putting it into a traditional setting infuses new vitality and a sophisticated accent."
With so many choices on the market, the task of selecting a light fixture can be difficult and overwhelming for many homeowners. It's just a matter of developing a plan or one idea. To help consumers get started, Smith talks about the importance of lighting to interior design in a new video series. Each minute-long video focuses on a different aspect of lighting and ways to incorporate it into every homeowner's design plan.
Videos in the series include:
* Choosing the Right Lighting Fixture
* Find an Object of Inspiration
* The Impact of a Single Lamp
* Lighting Fixtures as Art
Whether looking for one fixture or a complete lighting design plan, a great place to start is at a lighting retail showroom. There you will find professionally trained staff to help you select the perfect light for your space.
June 16, 2015
How to turn must-do home improvements into things of beauty
When "want to" and "have to" meet, they create the opportunity to make a smart buying decision - and choose an upgrade that will look good and improve the livability of your home. The key to making smart home improvement decisions is to recognize these opportunities and take full advantage of them.
Here are a few "have to" improvements that have the potential to turn into a good-looking, energy-efficient, enjoyment-enhancing "want to."
Replacing the hot water heater.
You probably don't care what a new hot water heater looks like sitting in your garage or basement - or wherever it resides in your home. But the right replacement water heater can help your house achieve a lovely shade of green. High energy-efficiency water heaters can help reduce energy usage, thereby trimming your energy bills and your home's environmental impact. Solar water heating systems take the beauty a step further by using the power of the sun, collected through low-profile solar panels on the roof, to heat water - at a monthly savings that's about 80 percent less than the cost of traditional heaters.
Getting some light in here.
Do you really need a bunch of scientific studies to tell you that a home filled with natural light just feels better? Probably not. Illuminating your home with natural light is a smart buying decision on multiple levels. First, you don't pay to power the sun. Second, natural light delivers a host of mood-enhancing benefits. If you have the wall space, by all means add some windows.
But for rooms where a window is impossible (like a powder room) or where you don't want to sacrifice privacy (like a master bathroom) a tubular skylight is a good alternative. Some are easy enough to install that a seasoned do-it-yourselfer could accomplish the task. They cost less than traditional skylights and bring natural light to hard-to-light areas like closets, hallways and other small spaces.
Getting some air in here.
Just as natural sun is good for your mood, ventilation can be good for your health. An Energy Star qualified venting skylight is a great way to passively vent stale, moist air from inside your home, especially from baths and kitchens. While some skylights are "fixed," those that do open can be controlled by a remote to open when you want fresh air and close when you want to retain warmth. They can also close automatically in case of rain. In addition, they introduce free light into your home. Adding blinds - also remote-controlled - can help you better control the amount of sun a skylight admits into your home. And blinds are not just functional - you can get them in colors and patterns to complement your decor while increasing energy efficiency. Compared to other venting solutions, a skylight is a relatively low-cost, great-looking way to address ventilation issues while adding drama to a space. Log on to www.veluxusa.com to learn more about skylights.
When one door opens ...
Beat up, weathered garage and front doors not only look bad, they can be a source of air leaks that make your heating, ventilation and cooling system work harder. Exterior doors aren't something you buy every day, but they can have a big impact on how your home looks and on its energy efficiency. They can definitely be a smart buying decision if you opt for doors that not only look good, but are also highly rated for energy efficiency. If you're not sure how to choose, look online, where you'll find guides for buying garage doors and front doors.
June 10, 2015
Make your condo balcony an urban haven
(NC)-Most condo and apartment balconies are barren spaces surrounded by dull, grey concrete, steel and glass. They're not very inviting. And that's probably why most of us don't use them very often.
But why not use every inch of your little piece of urban real estate to its fullest? If your building's rules allow you to, the experts at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse offer a range of suggestions to maximize your living space by creating a cozy outdoor haven.
A concrete floor isn't very welcoming.Addinga small outdoor area rug will make it comfortable for your bare feet.
Look for small-scale furniture that is both comfortable and functional. A cushioned corner chair or lounge at one end of a balcony gives you a place to read a book or take a breezy nap.
A small bistro table and two chairs tucked into another corner create a relaxing nook for your morning tea or evening glass of wine.
If you have the space and a suitable corner, two short storage benches or deck boxes and a square table form a dining booth for entertaining.
Whatever furnishings you choose, make sure your seating is comfortable. If your current chairs don't have padding, invest in a few washable outdoor cushions. Then add some outdoor pillows and throw blankets.
Don't be afraid to choose bright colours and fun designs. A balcony is for relaxing and entertaining, so it should be friendly and inviting!
If you'll be using your patio at night,the rightlantern or outdoor candle can create a warm, relaxing ambiance.
A tiny garden can also add some life to your balcony. Many potted flowers and plants - including tomatoes, peppers and herbs - thrive in small spaces.
"For a little variety, combo planters are great for creating balcony gardens, and they come in a range of colours and styles," says Sarah Skeates, a Merchandising Specialist with Lowe's. "If you don't have space for a garden, a hanging wall bag adds a splash of colour to any outside wall space."
Now that Spring is here, it's time to get started with turning that dreary condo patio into an urban haven!
June 3, 2015
How to choose a custom fitted kitchen
Traditionally, the role of a kitchen was restricted to cooking and dining. However, in the modern home set up, kitchens have evolved as a space for social gatherings as well. As the most important place for family conversations, the look and feel of kitchen has a significant impact on the members of the family. A well-organized kitchen enhances the pleasure of cooking and dining. To serve the new role of a social space, fitted kitchens provide the best solution. Sporting excellent designs, these structures come with a great sense of luxury and functionality.
Planning for a Fitted Kitchen: What to Look for?
Fitted kitchens are available in a range of designs. To select a kitchen suited to you and to your home, consider the following points:
• Analyze your existing kitchen and make a list of your requirements. Focus on the ways to simplify the process of cooking. For example, you can estimate the number of cabinets required for storage.
• Measure the kitchen area with great precision. Create a rough diagram of the kitchen with exact measurements. Mark the placement of doors and windows in the kitchen. It will help you select from different fitted kitchen designs available in the market.
• List the number of appliances, such as refrigerator, microwave, washing machine and so on. It is best if you can plan their placement according to your requirements, well in advance. The concept of the golden triangle (installing refrigerator, cooker and sink to form three points of a triangle) is considered an ideal placement.
• Consider the supply of services such as electricity, telephone line and water. Also, mark the expected drainage system in the layout.
It is confusing to consider these small, but essential, details once you set out for the actual shopping. Thus, planning always helps to make an informed decision.
How to Choose a Fitted Kitchen
Fitted kitchens are the order of the day in the building industry. There is a huge and bewildering range of different varieties of fitted kitchens, from the traditional to the ultra modern, available in a wide selection of colors, woods and finishes. This makes choosing one rather difficult. To make this process easier, one should stick to the basics, such as:
• Requirements: Based on the details mentioned in the layout plan, select fitted kitchen designs that match the space and appliance requirements. Look for what facilities are covered in a kitchen design.
• Cost: Pricing remains the determining factor for a majority of the families. Look for designs that fall within your budget. Remember, investment in a fitted kitchen is a smart decision. It makes your kitchen appear luxurious and adds to the market value of your house.
• Longevity: Examine the raw material used to manufacture different components of the kitchen. Are they durable enough to pay for their cost?
• Lifestyle: Mostly, people want to buy a kitchen that will reflect their standard of living. If budget is not a limitation, you can look for luxurious kitchen designs.
• Installation cost: Check the cost of kitchen fitting. This will vary between suppliers and manufacturers.
• Service: Opt for a company that offers high quality after-sales service. Read blogs, testimonials and forums to know which companies you can rely upon. You'll want to use an organization that takes away their unused waste materials and cleans/vacuums behind them, leaving just your tidy new kitchen.
A fitted kitchen is a big investment when it comes to home remodeling. It is essential to buy a good quality fitted kitchen that aligns with your requirements and has a long life. To this end, you should search the market for different products and companies. This will help you get the best deal at an affordable price. For example, oak kitchens are considered a good choice for their fine texture and longevity. However, you may prefer traditional pine or even a sleek modern kitchen.
May 26, 2015
Pairing 101: Why care about the pair?
Navigating an extensive wine list or cocktail menu should be a journey in experimentation to find your favorite flavors - and never a daunting feat at the table. With a few basics and simple tips, you can ensure that you enjoy your meal to the fullest.
"Whether you're dining out or cooking at home, the trick to a satisfying pairing comes from understanding the fundamentals and understanding your personal palate," says Leigh Merritt, director of bar innovation for Bonefish Grill restaurants. "Keep in mind that pairing isn't an exact science, and personal preference is always most important. When you drink what you enjoy, the entire meal comes together."
Here are Merritt's top tips to consider when creating a great pairing:
Understand wine flavors
Three factors influence the taste of wines: the type of grape, where that grape is grown, and how the wine is processed and handled will affect the flavor notes. The same species of grape grown in California will have different characteristics than one grown in Chile. Grapes fermented in oak will differ from wine in stainless steel. Don't be afraid to ask questions when purchasing spirits or ordering drinks at a restaurant, and enjoy learning about the flavors you like.
Assess the whole dish
In general, light-styled wines do pair better with lighter styles of food such as shrimp or scallops, as their delicate flavors harmonize better. However, it's important to pay attention to all the ingredients on the plate. For instance, grilled shrimp may have a subtle flavor by itself, but when served with the bold flavors of a Chimichurri sauce, the dish takes on a different profile that can taste great with a richer, deeper wine.
Why care about the pair?
A good wine and food pairing will work together to bring out the best flavors in each. The wine shouldn't overpower the food, nor should the food overpower the wine. This delicate balance can be achieved by using either complementary or contrasting flavors.
Some pairs come naturally, like fresh seafood and lemon, or fresh sashimi and wasabi. The similar flavors work together to create a classic duo. When dealing with libations, complementary flavors similarly yield a symbiotic, balanced result. This strategy brings wines together with dishes that share similar notes, such as an earthy pinot noir and robust Chicken Marsala or Fontina Chop. The combination of tastes has a lot of synergy and smooth transition from food to drink.
Wine can also have a cleansing effect on your palate, and using contrasting flavors can make a meal very exciting. To create a good contrast, remember that opposites attract, and pair foods and wines that have divergent traits, such as a crisp sauvignon blanc and a fresh Grilled Grouper with a Lemon Butter sauce. The crisp acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the sauce and gives a different, refreshing sensation for the palate. Another example of this contrast effect would be a sweet wine, like gewürztraminer with fiery Bang Bang Shrimp or Diablo Shrimp Fettuccine.
Several restaurants will even let you sample wines or explore half-pours to expand your oenophile experiences. Remember to have fun and experiment with your food and drink pairings to find your own personal preference. You may be surprised by the different flavors of food and wines that work well for your palate, creating a great experience every time.
May 26, 2015
Quick fixes for a swift home sale
First impressions are everything when it comes to selling a home, and peeling paint, stained carpets and unpleasant odors can be an instant turn-off for buyers. Fortunately, you can take simple and inexpensive steps to prep your home for a quick, top-dollar sale.
Paint is an easy, cost-effective way to improve any interior, and a new coat can make all the difference in selling your home. Cracked or peeling paint will repel potential buyers, and faded or boring walls can create a lackluster overall appearance.
Make your home stand out with a fresh coat in a vibrant color, such as those found in Dutch Boy's Crayola palette. Perfect for showcasing a finished basement, kids' room or accent wall anywhere in the home, these bright shades will make any space pop. With 96 colors to choose from - from Marshmallow and Ice Pop, to Wild Strawberry and Inch Worm - you're sure to find a shade to help make your home memorable. And as you are updating walls with new color, use a paint that not only adds beauty but also reduces odors. Along with the exceptional coverage Dutch Boy is known for, Refresh features Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminating Technology to rid your home of unwanted odors, leaving your home smelling clean and inviting. Available for walls, trim and ceilings, use Refresh throughout the home to create a pleasant walk-through experience. Add a few scented candles or potpourri to make the home even more appealing to buyers' noses.
The little things can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your home. Many buyers are looking to make as few improvements as possible, and even tiny cosmetic repairs can seem like a huge project. The more move-in-ready your house appears, the faster it will sell, and more likely buyers will be willing to pay the asking price. Some easy fixes include replacing broken counter and floor tiles, patching holes in any surfaces, making sure all lights work properly and doors open and close smoothly.
Organize and de-personalize:
To give your home a spacious showroom feel, take time to remove any superfluous stuff. Show off your kitchen countertops by storing unnecessary appliances, clear the sink and dishwashing machine, and organize refrigerator contents. Keep the bathroom vanity clear of personal items, neatly fold or hang clean towels, and clear or cover clothing hampers. Organize your cupboards, closets and drawers to maximize the appearance of your home's storage capabilities.
Clearing your home of visible clutter will not only make it seem more spacious but also make it easier for potential buyers to picture it as their own. Minimize family photos and personal items to help visitors more easily see themselves - and their things - in your home.
First impressions can make a world of difference, so don't neglect your home's exterior as you prepare to sell. The mailbox should be in good condition and the house number easily visible from the street. Keep exterior doors, including garage doors, free of flaking or fading paint and freshen the trim around windows and shutters. A fresh coat of paint on the front door can add to your home's curb appeal and affixing a seasonal display of flowers or a festive wreath on the front door also makes a warm, welcoming statement.
A few simple projects can vastly improve your home's overall appearance, and with these tips, your home will be sold in no time.
May 20, 2015
Study finds Canadians are not ready for emergencies
(NC)-According to a survey from Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, almost half (42 per cent) of Canadians say they are not prepared for a catastrophe, even though 86 per cent of those surveyed say they understand the importance of preparation.
"Even the safest Canadian communities are at risk of severe weather like heavy winds and thunderstorms that can cause power outages and water damage, especially in the spring," says Rich Zamperin, vice-president of claims at Allstate Canada. The resulting damage to a home can be devastating.
Zamperin says there are many ways homeowners can be proactive against severe weather. "Emergency preparedness goes beyond stocking the emergency kit. Advance preparation can help protect your family and reduce damage to your home and property," he says.
To help fortify your home before severe weather hits, take a look at these valuable ideas from allstate.ca:
• Disconnect the downspout, add a backflow valve - To help prevent wastewater from backing up into the home during a heavy rainstorm, cut the downspout 23 cm from the sewer connection, cap the sewer standpipe and connect a spout extension to run water away from the house. Also, install a backflow valve where the sewer exits the home to protect it from water backup.
• Backup electricity - If you live in an area prone to power outages, invest in a home generator. A back-up generator can only be connected through an approved transfer panel switch installed by an electrician. Keep an extra cell phone charged as well.
• Reinforce and protect the roof - Strengthen the exterior of a home by installing shingles that are rated high for wind impact and resistance. Check that HVAC units, skylights and pipes are secured tightly and won't blow off. Replace an untreated wood shake roof with fire resilient materials like metal, tile, asphalt and treated shakes.
May 12, 2015
Easy kitchen updates that won't break the bank
It goes without saying that the kitchen is one of the hardest-working rooms in the home. For most, it's the heart of family life and usually the one room where everyone gathers together. With so much hustle and bustle, it's no wonder that the kitchen runs the risk of looking overworked.
A remodeled kitchen not only reinvigorates the space, but the home overall. This isn't always easy to accomplish though, as a full-blown renovation can be quite expensive and time-consuming. However, even on a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to spruce up the room without breaking the bank.
As dirt and grease build up over time, appliances around the kitchen can appear old and dull. The easiest way to rejuvenate those appliances without spending a fortune on new ones is by giving them a thorough cleaning. Since the stove is often used most, it's a good place to start. Clean the entire surface inside and out using a product that is safe for all surfaces. Try Goo Gone Foaming Kitchen Grease Cleaner to cut through the baked-on grease and stuck-on grime clinging to your stove without needing to scrub. Get into every nook and cranny until it sparkles.
After the stove is clean, repeat the process for the microwave, backsplash, oven hood, sink and countertops. All of your kitchen appliances will begin to look like new again, and your kitchen won't seem so worn and outdated.
Once finished with the kitchen surfaces, consider some other affordable updates that can make a huge impact:
Paint the cabinets - A lackluster room can quickly become re-energized with a vibrant new color. Repaint the cabinets a lively hue to brighten the space or freshen the existing paint color with a new coat.
Update fixtures - Don't expect that the faucet handles you installed more than 10 years ago will last another 10. In addition to being practical, kitchen fixtures can add style and enhance overall design. Look for fixtures that fit your kitchen motif, whether it's modern and sleek or shabby chic.
Change existing hardware - Think of hardware as jewelry for the kitchen. Add new glass or metal knobs, or bars to highlight cabinets and enhance the overall style of the room. If using metal hardware, choose one type and stick to it for a clean, uniform look.
Create shelving - Removing cabinet doors to create shelving can provide a sense of openness and additional space. Simply remove cabinet doors and fill in holes with wood filler. Then, sand until smooth and paint as desired. You can also paint the inside of the newly open cabinets as a decorative treatment.
Introduce new fabric - Are your cushions looking dingy and outdated? Re-cover chairs or stools with bright, patterned fabric that reflects your personality. Also consider framing the space with new curtains that liven up your "new" kitchen.
Find your green thumb - Instead of buying fresh herbs at the grocery store or farmers market, plant them in pots in your kitchen. They will help add freshness to both the atmosphere and your food (while saving you money).
Don't forget about the floor - Update floors without the significant cost associated with new flooring by simply adding a rug. Find a rug that's durable to high foot traffic, but also complements your kitchen style.
Complete all the updates, or pick and choose to make a difference even on the smallest budget. This process will certainly work on other areas of the home as well. Just as with the kitchen, always start with a good cleaning to instantly revitalize the items in your home. To save time and money, use products designed to clean multiple surfaces - including carpeting, upholstery, hard surfaces and more. Then, look around to see what can be updated without a complete renovation. Your home will have a fresh appeal in no time.
May 12, 2015
New siding can increase the value of your home
Tired of that old run down looking house you've been living in? Why not upgrade your home to a new look and increase the value of your home in the process. You can have the home of your dreams and it's not as hard as you think. Your old home may be run down and the paint may be thirty years old and peeling off, but you can have the best looking house in your neighborhood.
How? Just give it a new face lift with colorful and easy to maintain vinyl siding. Vinyl siding comes in a variety of colors and you can choose the one that's right for you. Your 100 year old house can look new again and the cost won't burn a hole in your pocket.
Vinyl siding can be applied over brick structures and it can also be applied over wood and concrete structures. Vinyl siding looks great and its insulation qualities wrap the entire home in warmth and comfort. The entire project will be completed in a short amount of time if done by a reputable contractor of your choosing.
You can have your old home looking brand new and bright and shiny with new siding. Your entire home will match with the same bold colors you select and your window and door trim will match also. The value of your old home will sky rocket and if you ever decide to sell your home, you'll receive higher offers for it.
You may be wondering why you'll want to put up new vinyl siding as compared to aluminum siding. There are a lot of good reasons to choose vinyl, but the final decision is yours. There are a lot of differences between aluminum siding and vinyl. Vinyl siding is manufactured from a continuous formed plastic material and usually has a thickness between .040 to.046 inches. Aluminum siding is a continuous formed material that is usually around .019 inches thick.
Vinyl siding is manufactured with a solid color, while aluminum siding is manufactured with a baked on enamel paint finish. Since vinyl siding has a manufactured solid color, the color will remain solid even when scratched.
Not so however with aluminum siding. The paint is baked on so if aluminum siding is scratched; the paint peels off and leaves a shiny bare metal finish exposed. The choice is yours; however, your home will look newer and have a higher value when it is finished. You'll love the added warmth and comfort that your new siding will bring you.
Your neighbors won't believe the big difference they'll see in your home and you'll have a hard time believing that is the same house yourself. Energy efficient, stylish and modern, your new siding will give your home that personal touch and feel it had when you first purchased it. You have everything to gain with new siding and the new look it gives your home and property is amazing.
May 6, 2015
Adore your front door: Three tips for beautiful wood doors in any climate
(BPT) - Your home's front door is more than a portal for family and friends - it makes a statement about your own personal style. Home designers often list the entry door as one of the most cost effective ways to dress up the front of your home for "wow" curb appeal.
"This Old House" magazine notes that since the front door is the first and last thing we touch when entering and leaving our homes, "it's easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood - nothing else matches the material's warmth and satisfying heft."
"People choose wood entry doors first and foremost for their beauty; it's a fine piece of furniture on the front of your home," says Brad Loveless of Simpson Door Company.
For homeowners who enjoy the beauty of wood entry doors, options are now available to stand up to the harshest climates - from the wind-driven rains of Nantucket Island to the desert Southwest. Following are three ways to have the wood door you want and to ensure it will look great for years, no matter what the climate throws at it.
Bring your dreams to life
With doors available in hundreds of wood species, and numerous designs and glass options, it can be hard to envision how a particular door will look like on your home. Short of hiring an architect to make a sketch, most people have had to rely on their imaginations. Recently, easy-to-use, free online tools have become available to simplify the door selection process. For example, Simpson's "Test Drive a Door" enables people to upload a photo of their home and view different door options on it. This allows a homeowner to be sure before they buy.
Go for performance
People are used to looking for high performance when shopping for new cars or computers, but might not realize the same approach can apply to doors. Manufacturers have developed high-performance wood doors with superior weather resistance that last in the most demanding exposures, including coastal homes with no porch or roof overhang to protect the door.
One high-performance option to consider is choosing wood species that perform best in moist conditions, as this varies among wood types. Species that have been shown in laboratory testing to have natural moisture resistance include Douglas Fir, Black Locust, Nootka Cypress and Sapele Mahogany, among others. In recognition of the use of such species and advanced joinery techniques, "Window & Door" magazine selected Nantucket Collection doors from Simpson as its "Most Innovative Door."
Another performance option some manufacturers offer in their wood doors is water-resistant composite blocks within the bottom of the door, where water can infiltrate. Doors also are available with full exterior cladding to protect them from rain and sun, while retaining the beauty of wood inside the home.
A strong finish
With any door, whether made of wood, steel or fiberglass, it is crucial to finish it for long-lasting protection from the elements. Doors are sold either factory finished or unfinished. If unfinished, the door must be finished by the door dealer, a contractor or the homeowner. Manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions for best results from finishing, and those steps typically must be followed to ensure warranty requirements. Chief among these are to finish all six sides - front, back and all edges. As no wood surface should be left unfinished, finish should also be applied to the cut-outs for the handle and lock set, as well as any other openings, such as for mail slots or pet doors.
If the door is exposed to sun, it is generally better to use lighter color paints or stains as those absorb less heat from damaging UV rays.
April 28, 2015
Easy-to-change seasonal decorating ideas
When spring arrives with its bright sunshine, fresh air, vibrant colors and light, do you find yourself regretting the decorating decisions you made last fall or winter? It's natural to incorporate the season into your home decor, and the best way to do that is with design touches that can change as easily - and quickly - as the seasons themselves.
While you may love the bright reds and greens of the holiday season or the lush lilacs and blues of spring and summer, making them the foundation of a room's design can leave the decor feeling out-of-step when the seasons change. By starting out with a foundation of neutral colors in walls, flooring and furnishings, you can add colorful and seasonally appropriate accents.
Updating your decor to complement the season is as simple as focusing on a few key areas.
It's easy to overlook, but lighting is a key element in room design, and one that needs to change with the season.
In spring and summer, when sunshine is abundant and the days are longer, you can rely more on natural light. During warm months, you may only need artificial light late in the evening, when the advanced hour makes soft, muted light appropriate. Winter's shorter days and weaker sunlight lead to greater dependence on artificial light throughout the day, so your lighting design should include options that can be used throughout the day.
Most rooms will benefit from a mixture of overhead lighting, floor lamps, wall sconces and table lamps.
While neutral-hued walls make a versatile background for virtually any design, don't be afraid to spice things up with seasonal touches. Repositionable wall covering options make it possible to create a seasonal look with a wall mural - and then remove it and replace it with something different when the season changes.
A patented adhesive allows you to easily place the removable wallpaper on virtually any smooth, flat surface, from windows to walls. You can pull it down, reposition it elsewhere, even fold it up and store it in a drawer for use next year. A wide variety of designs mean you can find something to fit your seasonal decor, and if you don't see anything you like, you can customize by submitting your own original photo through the website.
If your floor is wood or you have a newer home with builder-installed carpet, you probably already have a neutral palette to work with. Adding seasonal flair to floors is as simple as adding or removing area rugs.
Area rugs in rich tones can warm up a room during winter months - especially when wood floors can feel cold underfoot. You can even add an accent rug in evergreen or crimson to underscore your holiday decor.
In warm months, when your family spends more time outdoors, a more durable area rug, positioned near entryways can help keep soil, grass clippings and other debris off your carpet or floor.
From window treatments to wall art, accessories are an easy, great way to create a seasonal look in any room.
In winter, when you want to keep out the chill, choose heavier drapes in colors that inspire warmth and comfort. For autumn or spring, when you want to welcome in sunlight, lighter, sheerer options can be appropriate. And in summer, when you'll rely on blinds to block out hot midday sun, pastels and lighter fabrics can be a soothing foil to the utilitarian appearance of blinds.
Just as you change your own wardrobe to stay in step with the seasons, updating your home decor seasonally can help make your home feel welcoming and comfortable. Fortunately, it's easy to keep your home decor in tune with the seasons when you make a few updates that are easy to change with the season.
April 28, 2015
Choosing the right financial products for all stages of life
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has put together a high-level overview of the financial information you should be aware of and consider during the various stages in your life. This is intended to be informative only, and everyone's needs will vary based on their personal situation. You should always seek advice from a licensed professional when considering the purchase of financial products.
In your 20s, you're usually just starting off in your first job and struggling to make ends meet; beginning to build a financial portfolio is probably not at the top of your to-do list. However, this can be a critical time as it can set your financial foundation for the rest of your life. A top priority should be building an emergency savings account to help you get through an unexpected loss of a job or a large and unexpected financial obligation. This should be separate from your normal savings and should only be drawn from under extraordinary circumstances.
Also consider looking into disability income insurance, to make sure your income and savings are both protected if you were ever unable to work due to a long-term illness or injury. Disability income insurance will serve you well throughout your career and the sooner you purchase, the better-protected you'll be.
Additionally, this can be a time to begin thinking about starting an investment portfolio, if you have the means, as the longer you're invested the greater potential for long-term growth. Work with a financial professional to ensure your investments align with your appropriate level of risk for your specific situation.
Your 30s are the prime time to continue building a solid financial future. Hopefully you're comfortable in your career, perhaps have gotten married and may even have begun building a family. This is when your financial options start to open up and you may want to start thinking about life insurance to offer protection for your family's future against an unexpected death and loss of income. Term insurance for yourself and coverage for your children are usually affordable, easy to procure and can offer additional financial protection for you and your family.
This is also when you should be getting serious about your savings plans.- Retirement savings should be at the top of your mind, as you've started to make more money in your 30s and are becoming more comfortable navigating your bills and expenses. IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities and other retirement savings tools are important for you at this stage - the earlier you start saving, the more you'll accumulate. And it's never too early to start thinking about college savings for children.
In your 40s, many people have teenage children, tackle new challenges and opportunities in their professional lives and have established a level of income they can rely on comfortably. You can start to work with your child to investigate the various options (savings, aid, loans, grants, etc.) to help pay for post-secondary education. This also might be a time to start considering additional life insurance, as your assets and need for protection have grown as you've prospered both personally and professionally.-
Since you're probably about halfway through your career, you should also start to keep an eye on the retirement horizon and on your overall retirement strategy. Make sure it aligns with your goals and dreams for after your career ends.
Your 50s are an exciting time in your financial life. Your children have probably left the nest and retirement is just around the corner. You should think about establishing a floor of guaranteed income, possibly by purchasing an annuity or insurance product, to meet your essential expenses that will continue into your retirement. This is the time to start considering how you want to live in retirement and beyond. What level of income would you like after you retire and how will you maintain your standard of living? Are you protecting your savings from the high costs of extended care? Whether you're looking to purchase long-term care insurance or not, this is also a time when you should discuss your extended care plans with loved ones, and how that might affect everyone involved.
In your 60s, your retirement has probably arrived or is right around the corner. This is where managing assets, investments and financial strategies are critical. Even at this stage of life, it is important for you to have some of your financial assets in an investment portfolio carefully managed for growth consistent with your risk profile. Meeting regularly with your financial representative at this life stage will help you stay on track with your financial goals.
This is also when you should consider leaving a legacy through a life insurance policy that designates your children or a favorite charity as a beneficiary. The death benefit from life insurance can ensure that your spirit of generosity lives on and the causes you care about will be supported in the future. Another option for securing your future is Medicare supplement insurance, which will help with medical bills not covered by Medicare. This protection can help safeguard your retirement assets from additional costly medical bills.
No financial journey is the same. We all have different needs and goals at different stages of our lives. However, with a solid financial program in place along with the support of a financial professional, you can be prepared to make a lifetime of wise financial choices.
April 22, 2015
First time home buyers, speedier down payments
(NC)-Home ownership is a big dream for many young Canadians, and is likely the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lives. While saving for a down payment can be challenging, Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that young Canadians can save for a down payment a little quicker by following a few simple rules.
"First, examine your budget and set a savings goal," says Haque. "Take advantage of online budgeting tools to gain insights into where you spend your money. Also remember that in addition to your down payment you will need to save for the additional costs involved with a home purchase, which include land transfer tax, moving costs and legal fees."
Next, curb your spending and increase your savings. "Even a small adjustment in your spending habits can go a long way toward helping you save a bigger down payment," says Haque. "For example, consider using transit to get to work instead of driving and paying for parking - it can really add up over time."
One of the most effective - yet overlooked - strategies is to put money aside before you can spend it. Haque suggests setting up a regular, preauthorized transfer service that moves a specific amount from each pay cheque into a high interest savings account. Making savings automatic is a simple and effective way to stay disciplined while saving for a down payment.
Finally, Haque reminds first time home buyers that they may be able to take advantage of the federal government's Home Buyers' Plan. "Those who have been actively saving for their retirement can access up to $25,000 from their RSPs to bump up their down payment when they purchase their first home. The RSP funds must be paid back within 15 years, so it is important to factor this repayment into your monthly budget."
For more advice on saving for a down payment, visit www.tdcanadatrust.com/homeownership
April 14, 2015
Roasted Rainbow Trout with Mushroom and Red Pepper Relish
(NC)-What we eat affects how we feel. And for those people living with arthritis, healthy eating habits can often be helpful.
The Arthritis Society has developed this healthy recipe for year-round entertaining. This elegant entrée is effortless to prepare and makes a leaner option than regular roasts, plus, trout is a great source of omega 3s. Serve with wilted baby greens and oven-roasted baby potatoes.
• 2 lb. (1 kg) boneless rainbow trout, about 2 large fillets
• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each salt and pepper
• 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) each olive oil and Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp. (10 ml) white wine vinegar
• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) dried thyme leaves
• 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 cups (500 ml) sliced cremini or white mushrooms
• 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried thyme leaves
• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each salt and pepper
• 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped roasted red pepper
• 1 tsp. (5 ml) white wine vinegar
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Chopped parsley (optional)
• Lemon wedges
Directions Trout: Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Arrange trout on a lightly greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Blend oil with mustard, vinegar and thyme; brush evenly over the trout. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Relish: Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned. Stir in roasted red pepper, vinegar and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until glossy.
Spoon mushroom relish over trout. Garnish with parsley (if using) and serve with lemon wedges.
Makes 6 servings. More recipes are available online at arthritis.ca.
April 14, 2015
Bring the indoors outside to create a family hub
(NC)-When renovating a home, people often forget one of the most important components: the outdoor space. If done right, your yard can become more than an extension of your home - it can be a private escape. The experts at Home Depot Canada recommend the following tips for creating an outdoor retreat.
Be your own weather specialist
It is important to keep the climate in mind when choosing your outdoor furniture. For example, if you live in a windy area, select heavier furniture as lighter plastic chairs are likely to turn up on your neighbour's lawn. If you experience heavy, regular rainfall, try to stay away from materials like wrought iron that may rust. And to lengthen the life of your outdoor pieces, make sure to store your patio furniture when weather isn't in your favour. Many outdoor cushions and pillows at Home Depot feature vibrant, fade-resistant colours and are made using high-quality, weather-resistant materials.
Set the mood
Like any room in your house, lighting is key when it comes to the outdoors. Solar powered lights are a great option and help save on energy bills. Installation is easy as there is no wiring or plugs to worry about. With many sizes and styles to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect one to brighten up your outdoor space.
Create a space with a purpose
Do you want to use your space to host parties, relax, or give your children somewhere they can play? How you plan on using the space will determine what type of furniture you need. And with outdoor furniture, you can get creative: chairs can be replaced with recliners, swings, loungers, or even hammocks. Decorative accents are also essential. Throw a few colourful pillows on your outdoor furniture or put an outdoor area rug under your patio set. As long as fashion meets function, anything goes.
With the right tools and tips, setting up a fun and functional outdoor space doesn't need to be an overwhelming project. More information is available online at www.homedepot.ca where you can
view the patio buying guide and inspiration gallery.
April 8, 2015
Ways to put money back in your pocket
• Do pack a lunch and brew your own coffee. Buying your lunch for work or school can cost an average of $10 per day. Plus, the added cost of a cup-a-joe every morning can quickly add up. If you pack a lunch, you'll need to incur additional grocery costs, but in the long run you'll be amazed at how much you can save.
• Do a weekly, rather than daily, grocery shop. Planning a weekly menu and shopping list will help you save gas, time, mental energy and money. This will also only help reduce impulse buys, and encourage healthier eating habits. For additional savings, consider purchasing non-brand name items and buying in bulk.
• Do eliminate duplicate household expenses. If you are already paying for high-speed Internet, why not switch your home phone land-line to a voice over IP phone system? Very popular, for example, is the sleek Ooma Telo. This VoIP device can be hooked up to the Internet, letting you make unlimited local and long distance calls anywhere in Canada.
• Do carpool or take public transportation to work. As gas prices continue to rise, avoid driving to work alone every day. Public transportation is an excellent, often cost- and time-effective way to get to and from work. If this is not an option in your area, consider sharing the ride with a coworker who lives nearby - you'll enjoy the company and save money.
More information is available online at http://ca.ooma.ca
April 1, 2015
Connect to color through your passions
(BPT) - Whether you love to sit on the beach or collect antiques, drawing from your personal passions can help you find the perfect colors to enhance your space.
"If a hobby or activity lifts your mood, surround yourself with things that remind you of it," says David Bromstad, HGTV star and celebrity designer. "I always look to a homeowner's passions when helping them decorate. And if you start with an established palette of coordinated colors, it's easy to follow your instincts."
Bromstad recommends the HGTV(R) HOME by Sherwin-Williams color collection, offering eight paint palettes that evoke many favorite pastimes, with colors that create room-to-room harmony throughout the home. He offers these tips for using color to express your passions.
Head-for-the-beach colors. If you are inspired by the sea and sand, use maritime blues and dune grass greens to create a fresh, breezy feeling that beckons barefoot comfort. Create an indoor seaside retreat using rattan furniture, Sea Salt (SW 6204) pale aqua walls and a table painted Rapture Blue (SW 6773), both from the Coastal Cool collection. Complete the look with accessories such as seashells and clear vases that evoke sea glass washed ashore.
Pick colors fresh from the garden. Let the colors of your favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables guide your color choices throughout the home. Evoke beautiful pink flower petals with Exuberant Pink (SW 6840) on a bathroom accent wall; paint a desk in a fresh, Frolic (SW 6703) green; or bring out citrus colors in the kitchen with orange Tango (SW 6649). Reference the Color Pizzazz collection for more bold inspiration.
Cook up some color excitement. Make your kitchen the ideal gathering place with deliciously warm and inviting colors. Spice it up with rich, saturated tones of Peppery (SW 6615) orange and Grandeur Plum (SW 6565), found in the Global Spice collection. For room-to-room harmony, use Garden Sage (SW 7736) or Edamame (SW 7729) in an adjoining dining room.
Design around your collectibles. If you are an antiques aficionado, choose colors that celebrate the retro hipness of repurposed objects. Use colors like Bold Brick (SW 6327), or Urbane Bronze from the Urban Organic collection, to add substance to kitchen cabinets. Give a mudroom an eclectic twist with Armagnac walls and a Parakeet (SW 6711) green bench.- -
For additional inspiration and information on HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams, visit sherwin-williams.com/hgtv.
March 24, 2015
How the internet and marketing go hand-in-hand
It's hard to think of a better combination than the Internet and marketing. Where else can you reach the hundreds, thousands, or even millions who make up your target market. Whether you are a small, local business, or a large corporation, internet marketing is indispensable. It's been proven that most folks don't even glance at a yellow pages book anymore to find a local business. Nor do they go on the online yellow pages. Now, the average consumer just types their need into their search engine, whether it be Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any of the other hundreds out there. If you want to come up in their searches, you need to learn how to take advantage of the Internet and marketing, or hire someone to do it for you.
If you're a local business, you don't even need a website to come up in Google, Yahoo, or Bing searches. All you need to do is fill in your information on their Local Business pages. You can include your company name, contact details, directions, photos, and a website if you have one. You can also choose to offer coupons for your customers, which brings you up in popularity and rankings. These pages also offer users the chance to review what it is that you offer. Ask your happy customers to review you, and you are also boosted in ranking. And the best part of all? This listing is completely free! Think of how much you save on yellow pages or newspaper ads that are no longer even getting results. If you run a local business, take the few minutes it will take you to get listed on the search engine local results and you can start seeing traffic immediately. Other free options include setting up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, or any of the other social media sites. Blogging is another way to create interest and establish credibility in your field.
If you haven't yet merged the Internet and marketing for your larger company or corporation, luckily you can get in on the game very quickly whether you hire staff to handle this for you or you outsource the job to someone else. One of the major sources of income for larger companies who take advantage of internet marketing is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. While this type of advertising is not free, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. This is one of the huge advantages of pay-per-click versus offline advertising. You only pay when you get results. Large companies are also taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging. If they are using these free methods even though they have millions of dollars to spend on marketing, you better believe that this is working for them.
The Internet and marketing really are two extremely compatible terms--make sure that you are teaming them up in your business.
By: Anthony Harris
March 24, 2015
Are you saving enough for retirement?
(NC)-Over the several years that Desjardins Financial Security (DFS) has conducted its retirement survey, two themes have always come up: most Canadians avoid retirement planning and they're sure they haven't saved enough. So, how prepared are you?
A) You're totally confident about your financial security and retirement plans, or;
B) You know you haven't saved enough, but now you're ready to make a plan.
If you answered B, these experts from Desjardins are here to help you get started.
Djamal Saleh, Regional vice-president of sales, Individual Savings Products
1) What does retirement look like? Will you be spending your retirement traveling the world or will you just keep on working? Actually, in the most recent DFS retirement survey, 56% of respondents expected to do just that. Many said it was because working kept them active. But the most popular reason was financial. It might be nice to think that you could continue your current working lifestyle well into your 80s. But life has a way of throwing you curve balls. The reality is that less than one retiree in five continues to work. In fact, events like job loss, a disability, becoming caregiver to a loved one, or simply fatigue can change your plans in an instant. This is why it's important to visualize what your life might look as part of creating a solid plan.
Daniel Villeneuve, Tax Specialist
2) How much will I need to retire? This is a very common question so it's important to remember that you'll likely spend 25 to 30 years in retirement. For example, the average 55 year old woman who is a non-smoker will live to 86 while her male counterpart will live to 83. That being said, you will likely need a retirement income of about 70% of your gross working income.
Here's a snapshot of the type of income sources you may have if you were retiring today:
1. An employer pension, if it was available to you
2. The Canadian Pension Plan, on average about $6300 per year
3. The Old Age Security Pension, on average about $6500 per year
4. Savings in an RRSP and/or non-RRSP
Since future retirees have no control over the amounts of the first three sources of income, creating a substantial nest-egg within your RRSP and regular savings accounts will be an essential part of your written retirement plan.
Angela Iermieri, Financial Planner
3) Review your plan The golden rule to ensuring you have saved enough is to regularly review your objectives and adjust your plan as required, as circumstances can change quite often. For example, there may be changes in the tax rules, new laws, interest rates and public pension plans that may affect your goals. But if you stay flexible, all this is manageable, giving you much better odds of attaining your retirement goals.
For other retirement planning tips, tools and calculators, visit the Thinking About Retirement section of Desjardins Financial Security's website at www.desjardinslifeinsurance.com.
March 18, 2015
An investment of a lifetime
(NC)-Owning your own home is an exciting proposition and an achievable goal for most Canadians. The number one reason many become homeowners is pride of homeownership and the stability and security that comes with it.
Buying a home can also be a solid investment and provide tax benefits.
In Canada, you are not taxed on any investment gains made on the sale of your primary residence. So, for example, if you buy your home for $200,000 and sell it 5 years later for $250,000, you do not have to pay income tax on the $50,000 you earned from the sale.
Another advantage is each time you make a mortgage payment, you are putting a portion towards the principal balance of your mortgage, which builds equity in your home. This is a better use of your money than giving rent to a landlord and is a good long-term investment.
Owning a home also means that you can make your own decisions on decorating, home improvements, location, etc. In a recent survey conducted by Genworth Canada, 91 per cent of first-time homebuyers said that homeownership may mean more work but the effort is well worth it.
When it makes financial sense, buying a home is often a wise, secure and emotionally satisfying move to make.
For more information on buying a home visit Genworth.ca
March 10, 2015
Decorating your home with chandelier lighting and other accessories
If you are planning on making some decorative changes around the home this year, there are many lighting accessories that you can choose from. From installing elegant and regal chandeliers to simple table lamps and everything in between, finding the right pieces for the best price is easy once you know where to look and what to look for. There are many sites online that offer an amazing array of products that can light up the mood in any home, but not all are created equal.
Before you are ready to shop, consider how you want your home to look once your design ideas have come to life. The last thing you need is to have a chandelier that does not fit well in the space you intended for it to go. Taking measurements, deciding on style, color and effect are all part of the planning process when it comes to finding the right lighting accessories for your home, but it is especially important to do with chandeliers.
Of course, not every lighting remodeling project is limited to chandeliers, but can include a wide range of other options to consider as well. Table lamps, wall lights and standing floor lamps all work to add their own effect in the space they are going to be used. While light is simply light, how it is reflected in the house depends on anything from the color of the lampshade to the tint of chandelier crystals. You can change one crystal to red, and end up having a red lighting effect on the entire room.
This is just one example of things to consider when deciding how to develop a lighting scheme for the home. It is not just brightness, but effect, mood, comfort and feel as well. Lighting accessories can do wonders when it comes to the way in which light beams throughout the home as well as the mood it creates.
With table lamps, the process isn't as involved and it is pretty easy to decide what will look good and what will not. Taking a picture of some of the table lamps that interest you can help to pick the right one for your particular layout and the effect you want to create. Consider color and shade as well as the impact it has on the lighting of the entire room.
So, from easy to involved, the type of lighting you choose for your home will determine the amount of planning and visualizing that it will require. While the process is not that complicated or time consuming, skipping the preparation and research phase of any remodeling project can lead to unsatisfactory results. Making the effort now will save a lot of trouble down the line as well as ensure that you are happy with the look that you created for your home.
There are many sources online to find the best lighting accessories for your needs as well as for your budget. A good retailer will not only have a wide range of fixtures and other items available for sale, but they should also include a section for tips, suggestions and product information that will help you to make the best decision. They should also have a solid return policy as well as product guarantee in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.
That being said, there are limitless options available online for anything from chandeliers to table lamps or red chandelier crystals, and it is easier than ever to order and have them delivered to your house. Keep in mind that you will need to wait a little while for the items to be shipped to your home, but that can be a benefit in and of itself because you can do the work necessary to prepare for installation. Whether you are ordering lighting accessories for the first time, or are a seasoned decorator, you will be amazed at the quality, selection and prices of a wide range of products found at an online chandelier store today.
by: Kathryn Dawson
March 10, 2015
Insulate your investment for the long term
With spring around the corner, home renovation specialists say now is the perfect time for homeowners to begin planning. Understanding what is essential and what is cosmetic is fundamental for those looking to make a good investment in their homes.
The foundations, for example, including the infrastructure and the insulation, are a key investment area during a renovation project.
Although hidden behind the walls and in the ceiling, specialists tell us that insulation is a component that adds true value to a home-and the right kind of insulation will pay dividends over the long-term when it comes to comfort and re-sale value. Today, spray foam insulation (like that available from Icynene) makes this upgrade easy. It is an ideal energy-efficient alternative to traditional insulation materials like cellulose or fiberglass, since it both air-seals and insulates.
When applied, spray foam insulation expands 100 times its size, filling air gaps to reduce the potential for excessive energy consumption and minimize the amount of pollutants that enter the home. Including this modern insulation material during a renovation will also reduce drafts or cold spots throughout the house as well as minimize noise pollution either from inside or outside the home.
Additional information can be found online at www.icynene.com.
March 4, 2015
Retirement reality check for baby boomers
(NC)-Are you dreaming of an early retirement full of travel, golfing and more time at the cottage? If so, you may want to meet with your financial advisor to see if it can become a reality.
"Retirement has been redefined because people are living longer and many have been overspending in this consumer-driven economy," says Stephen Reichenfeld, a wealth counsellor at Fiduciary Trust Company of Canada. "If you still haven't paid off your house and have credit card debt, it's probably best to delay retirement and start saving more."
Make lifestyle adjustments.
Review your spending habits and make some hard decisions with your advisor's help. Would it be possible to downsize your house now that your children have moved out? Do you really need two cars? Would it be possible to delay that European dream trip? Seek financial advice from someone who can see the big picture and ensure that your plan will help guarantee a long and successful retirement. More information on retirement planning is available on websites such as www.fiduciarytrust.ca.
February 24, 2015
Tankless water heater repair and installation for your home
We all know hot water is a necessity. Most of us have water heaters at home and do not give it a second thought, we just assume we will have hot water on a daily basis until... You are standing in the shower and the water goes cold because someone in the other part of the house decides to turn on the water- maybe trying to get the dishes done after dinner. Or we get ready for that therapeutic evening bubble bath so we can unwind and there is no hot water. If this sounds familiar it may be time to consider a tankless hot water system.
Let's discuss the advantages of replacing your old hot water tank with a Tankless water heater. Have you found yourself scratching your head when the electric bill comes? Most of us have. Depending on your household size and use, your conventional hot water tank can drive your electric bills through the roof.
Did you know that most conventional heaters make up for almost 20% of your household energy consumption? Think about this for a moment. 20% is a lot of consumption when you begin thinking about the different household items that make up your electric bill...clothes dryers, stoves, heat, washing machines, lights, hair dryers and the list goes on. So when you think about it, 20% for the use of hot water is quite a bit of your electric bill. This is why if you are a conservationist or a home owner that simply wants to save money and enjoy effective water heating, consider switching to a different system. It may be time to try using a tankless water heater.
With electric bills soaring and people becoming more eco- friendly, many are now considering installing a tankless water system. The advantages to having a tankless system may outweigh the disadvantages. Let's review some of the reasons why installing a tankless heater could be very beneficial:
Tankless hot water heaters are energy efficient. You can cut your heating cost to up to 30%. Tankless systems work differently from conventional water heaters. With a Tankless water system the water is heated only when it is needed. When you turn on the faucet, that is when the Tankless heating system kicks in and the water is heated (using a heating element). This kind of system is also called "Instantaneous" or "On Demand. "
With tankless water heaters there is a constant flow of hot water, so this allows everyone in your home to have hot water at the same time- no more being deprived of hot water in your home! It does not matter if two or more faucets are running at the same time. But be sure to speak to a professional plumber so they can advise you on what you may need to properly supply your entire house or what your options are regarding installing two or more of this type of system to meet larger instantaneous hot water demands.
You should know that tankless water heaters are considered safer because the system does not store water that can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Legionella. Keeping the water temperature at an appropriate level is important to prevent these types of bacteria from thriving.
Preventive maintenance is still periodic- the same as a conventional heater - but the cost is less. Perhaps one of the best advantages of a tankess water system is that if you do what the manufacturer requires, it can potentially last up to 20 years and still maintain its efficiency.