You've spent the entire day in the kitchen cooking the perfect holiday meal. But it's an hour before your guests arrive and you find yourself standing in front of the table listening to that little nagging voice inside your head.
Do the water glasses go to the right or left? What side does the knife go on? Should you go ahead and put food on the table before guests arrive, or wait until everyone gets there?
"We hear from so many panicked people this time of year looking for a crash course in how to set the table and proper manners," says etiquette coach Jill Slatter. "Most of us are stretched so thin juggling work, school and home that we don't have time to sit down together for a proper meal except at the holidays, and then the pressure is on to be perfect."
Slatter is the etiquette expert for Replacements, Ltd., billed as the world's largest retailer of old and new china, silver, crystal and collectibles. Based on their most frequently asked questions, Slatter shares a holiday etiquette 101 crash course that's sure to help you impress your guests.
Set the perfect table
Forks to the left, knives and spoons to the right. The sharp side of the knife blade should be turned toward the dinner plate. Only include utensils in your place setting that will be used for the courses you are serving. "If you're not serving soup or salad, you certainly don't want an extra spoon or fork in your place setting," Slatter says. "Not only will those get in the way and create extra work for you, the extra utensils may confuse your guests."
The bread plate goes on the left of the dinner plate, glasses on the right.
Wait to pour. Water glasses should be the only glasses filled before your guests arrive. Iced tea, wine and other beverages should be poured once everyone is seated. Wine glasses should be filled halfway, not to the rim.
Salad and bread should be the only food on the table when your guests arrive.
Are you the hostess with the mostest?
Remember, the hostess always sits last.
Passing isn't just in football. Always pass food around the table counter clockwise to the right and refrain from serving yourself first. Always pass the salt and pepper as a set, even if you're only asked for one.
Can your guests see each other? Sure those flowers you spent hours arranging for the centerpiece are pretty, but they will only get in the way if your guests have to crane their necks to see each other. Make sure your guests can look over any table adornments.
Be a gracious guest
"There is nothing more disruptive than a cell phone ringing at the dinner table," says Slatter. "Turn your phone on vibrate, or better yet, don't even bring it to the table. Holiday gatherings mark the time to enjoy the company of the people you are with, rather than ignore them by chatting with someone who's not even there."
Wait for the signal. Your hosts will let you know when it's okay to begin eating. They may offer a blessing or statement or perhaps start by passing a dish.
If you're not sure which utensil to use with each course, start on the outside and work in toward the dinner plate.
If you need to excuse yourself temporarily, gently place your napkin on your chair to indicate you will be coming back.
Signify you're finished with the meal by placing your napkin to the left of the dinner plate, and your fork and knife side by side diagonally across your plate with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork tines up.
"Another big question we hear concerns what to do if you accidently break a piece of the host's dinnerware," adds Slatter. "You should certainly offer to replace the broken piece especially if it has sentimental value for the host or hostess."
Slatter says don't lose hope if your host doesn't know the name of the pattern or the manufacturer; you can always take advantage of Replacements' free pattern identification service.
If you're still in doubt about holiday etiquette 101, help is just a mouse click away. You can watch more of Slatter's tips on Replacements' YouTube channel. You can also find cheat sheets of place setting guides diagramming how to set the table for various meals at the company's website, www.replacements.com. Bon appetit!
Caption 1: Forks go to the left of the dinner plate.
Caption 2: Always place liquids to the right of the dinner plate.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
You've spent the entire day in the kitchen cooking the perfect holiday meal. But it's an hour before your guests arrive and you find yourself standing in front of the table listening to that little nagging voice inside your head.
Monday, December 23, 2013
When you open your home to family and friends this holiday season, you want to give your guests the best impression possible. But, it's likely that you might not have everything that you need to accommodate your visitors.
Hosting a large gathering is not something you do every day, so many of the necessary items are not things you'll have sitting in your kitchen cabinets, garage or basement ready for use. Fortunately, you won't need to break the bank buying everything you need. If you can't find what you're looking for in your home, your local rental store will be able to help.
Here are a few things you can do to make your holiday event one to remember:
* Not enough seating? Consider renting some tables and chairs. It's better than having to haul the card table up from the basement and offering your guests a cold folding chair.
* Set your table with the latest styles of linens, china and silver. If these aren't items that you, or another family member, has at their disposal, find them at your local rental store.
* Don't forget that elegant lighting and centerpieces will go a long way to creating the perfect look and feel for your special holiday event. Small things like this can make a huge difference in the ambiance of your gathering.
* Add some extra flair to your event and have a champagne fountain or margarita machine on hand. These types of fun rental party items make for a special surprise for your guests.
* The outside of your home is the first impression. Make sure that your outdoor decorations are just as elegant and beautiful as the ones inside.
* If you're hosting a particularly large group, it may be difficult to keep food hot when it comes time to dine. Renting food preparation items, chafing dishes or other warmers will ensure every one of your guests enjoys a delicious dining experience.
To get a better idea of what types of items you can rent for parties and to locate a store near you, visit www.rentalhq.com. Think it sounds out of your budget to create a perfect event? Not necessarily. Your local rental store has everything you need and can offer service and advice to help eliminate stress. You'll also save money on items you will be using only once.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Calgary and Okotoks Realty Roland J. Darel.With the countdown on to check off everyone on that holiday gift list, the swelling crowds in malls may make shopping less appealing. The upside? Easy ways exist to navigate the stress of last-minute shopping.
"Canadians can satisfy all of their shopping needs with the click of a mouse when they visit airmilesshops.ca, a unique Canadian online shopping portal," says Andy Wright, president, AIR MILES Reward Program. "We've partnered with more than 100 of the top retailers in both Canada and the U.S. to offer one-stop-shopping, plus the opportunity to earn AIR MILES reward miles from the comfort of your own home."
As experts in online shopping, we offer these essential holiday shopping tips:
• Prepare a detailed list that includes everyone you need to shop for. If you have the time, create categories to make it simple to search for items all at once online.
• Stay tuned into social media to keep up with deals and coupons at favorite online shops and with your loyalty programs. For example, 'like' a loyalty program's Facebook page to stay on top of current promotions, and check in occasionally to their website for bonus offers and more.
• Set up newsletter alerts with favorite retailers and schedule a time during the week to review them for any hot deals on items from your list.
• Have a budget in mind and find a system that works to track all purchases. Whether the information is stored electronically, or on a notepad, making a note of spending will help to cross-reference when the credit card bill comes in.
• Schedule a time to shop – and stick to it. Like scheduling Saturday hockey practice or dance classes with the kids, it's important to set aside a couple of hours or more each week to finalize purchases.
Every organized step made toward efficient holiday shopping means more quality time spent with loved ones during this special time of year!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Calgary and Okotoks Realty Roland J. Darel. Seasonal sense: Using scent, sight and sound to stimulate holiday spirits
From baking cookies with loved ones to caroling through the neighborhood or celebrating with family and friends, fond memories of holiday traditions abound. Each year, scents, sights and sounds promote the season's spirit - continuing long-standing traditions and creating new memories.
Here are some ideas for stimulating your senses and evoking the warmth of the holidays in your home:
Savoring seasonal scents
Home fragrances create a warm, inviting environment during the holidays and all year-round. A whiff of a familiar scent often calls to mind memories of holidays past. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla conjures thoughts of freshly baked cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, while a blend of evergreens, cedar, and musk reminds many of Christmas tree hunting in the woods.
One of the safest ways to recreate holiday memories is with scented, wickless candles. With no wick and no flame, there's no worry or mess. After selecting a favorite seasonal fragrance, it's easy to place a cube or two of the scented wax into a decorative, ceramic candle warmer. Just one whiff and you are on your way down memory lane.
"A festive, welcoming atmosphere stimulates our senses and reminds us of holidays past as we celebrate with our family and friends," says Heidi Thompson, president and co-owner of Scentsy, a leader in home fragrance. "A home filled with classic holiday scents not only evokes memories but inspires new seasonal traditions for young families."
Behold the sights
Twinkling lights fill the indoor and outdoor landscape during the holidays. To capture the spirit of the season and add a shimmering glow to any room, consider a simple string or two of miniature lights strung along a mantel or displaying a holiday-themed wickless candle. From snowmen to Santa, there are festive designs in all shapes and sizes to complement any decor.
Sounds of the season
The sounds of the season create happy holiday memories. Adding traditional tunes from Bing Crosby or modern interpretations from Harry Connick, Jr. can set the mood as you decorate your home, entertain dinner guests or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the season. Music creates a cheerful atmosphere and often encourages listeners to sing along.
Enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the season is simple. To learn more about how to fill your home with festive fragrances and decorate with wickless candles, visit www.Scentsy.net.
Calgary and Okotoks Realty Roland J. Darel. 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.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
(NC)-Taking holiday decorating to extremes is fun. But accidents can happen, especially when using a lot of electronic decorations on the outside of the house.
Follow these safety precautions for outdoor decorating from CSA Group, a leader in electronic product testing and certification, to help make sure your house gets noticed for the right reasons:
• Put your faith in the magic of the holidays but don't fall for fakes: Whether it's a waving Santa, rocking sleigh, or light-up Rudolph, avoid counterfeit electronic decorations that haven't been certified for safe use. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization like CSA Group on light strings, extension cords, and animated displays. Make sure they are marked for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
• Keep old holiday traditions, not old holiday lights: Carefully inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
• Sparkle without the spark: Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original. To avoid a shock from damaged wire, use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.
• Stay dry: Keep electrical connectors for outdoor lights above ground, out of water, and away from metal eaves troughs. Connect outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.
• Don't be silly with strings: Make decorating a family activity by planning out this year's theme with the kids, but don't let children or pets play with light strings.
• Don't overextend yourself: Use heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically-animated displays and don't overload extension cords.
• It's more than a faux-pas to keep lights up all year: Outdoor holiday lights are made for seasonal use only; extended exposure can lead to damage. After the holiday season, take down decorations and store them in their original packaging to keep the proper use instructions for next year.
You can find more safety tips at www.csaholiday.com.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Eerie sounds, spooky lights and jack-o'-lanterns aglow-extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. To keep the fun going, however, it's important to plan your home's scary set-up with safety in mind.
Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, such as those found in jack-o'-lanterns, account for an average of 800 home fires in North America, causing nearly $4 million in direct property damage every year.
To keep your house from being haunted with potential insurance woes, Wayne Ross, insurance and claims expert for Aviva Canada, offers some Halloween preparation tips for preventing fires and other insurance claims.
• Practice fire safety: When setting up spooky electrical decorations and lighting, ensure that electrical outlets are not overloaded. Consider battery or solar powered jack-o'-lanterns.
• Make sure your walkways are safe: Although darkness may set the Halloween mood, keep walkways well lit and obstruction free to reduce the risk of injury and allow many guests to walk through simultaneously.
* Check your insurance coverage: While homeowner policies will generally cover you and your property during Halloween, it is a good idea to contact your insurance broker to ensure you have the right amount of coverage-especially with hundreds of visitors to your home.
"It is the responsibility of homeowners to make sure their property is safe for visitors during the Halloween festivities," Ross explained. "By taking some precautions, homeowners can join in the Halloween celebrations and enjoy a safe night of festive fun with their families."
Additional information can be found at www.avivacanada.com.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Preparing to buy a home requires more than just a down payment. Before you purchase property, take time to understand your available mortgage options and balance your debt load. Thorough planning and smart budgeting now can help you avoid running into high debt or repayment problems down the road.
Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that first time home buyers should answer three important questions before they start hitting any open houses this season.
• Do I understand the process? It never hurts to meet with a mortgage specialist to learn more about the home buying process and the different mortgage options available, such as fixed versus variable rate mortgages, flexible repayment schedules, and even mortgages that offer cash back. Before falling in love with a home, consider getting pre-approved so you know what you may be able to afford and avoid getting disappointed by falling in love with a home that is outside your price range.
• What is my personal debt load? If you have other obligations like a car payment or student loan, ensure you are taking on a mortgage that you can manage within your total budget. Try using an online debt management calculator to help determine how much debt you can reasonably take on based on your income, current debt payments and expenses.
• Can I afford my mortgage and save for the future? Sometimes home buyers take on more debt than they can manage and quickly find themselves "house poor" – with no money left for future savings or a rainy day. Before you take the leap into homeownership, crunch the numbers to ensure your budget reflects the lifestyle you want after you move into your new home, and you are clear on what sacrifices you may need to make to continue to live comfortably and save for your future.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(BPT) - It's the cycle of fashion - trends are always recycling, returning and changing. Save time and money by transforming your existing wardrobe into stylish, on-trend pieces with a few simple tricks.
Do-over your denim
Shorts are a fashionable warm weather staple - and a great way to show off your tan. Make a personalized pair by repurposing old jeans - just trim them at your desired length for a cool, casual pair of cutoffs. Or, embrace the bright color trend by transforming colored khakis or denim into capri pants or Bermuda shorts. Add a bit of pop to your jeans by adding fabric panels at the sides - open the side seams and sew in some fabric all the way down. For a simpler touch, add lace or ribbon down the side seams for a chic effect, or cover the back pockets in a unique design.
Transform a T-shirt
The classic summer tee is the perfect medium for some do-it-yourself fashion flair. Give new life to a favorite T-shirt by transforming it into a halter top. Start with a crew neck T-shirt, remove the sleeves, cut a v-shape in the front and back, then trim straight across the back at the bottom of the v-shape to create straps. To embrace another fun trend, add some fringe to the bottom of a t-shirt. For best results, start with a T-shirt that's a bit longer. Mark where you want the fringe to start; next, use a ruler to measure even strips. Then, snip, snip.
Stick to it
Father's favorite fix-all isn't just for home repairs anymore - duct tape clothing and accessories are everywhere. A recent episode of the popular fashion design program "Project Runway" even featured an Unconventional Materials Challenge asking the designers to create dresses using Duck Tape brand duct tape.
"What is great about making a dress out of Duck Tape is that you can always change as you go - the -dress is never set in stone, because it's tape," says Michelle Lesniak Franklin, winner of the Duck Tape Unconventional Materials Challenge and Season 11 of "Project Runway."
Flexible and fun, Duck Tape can be used to create entire garments or to simply add a bit of color and pattern to existing clothing and accessories. For instance, cut out a personalized monogram using Duck Tape Sheets to add some style to a handbag or backpack, make a funky flower ring or create colorful waterproof flips flops using a few of the hundreds of colors and prints available.
Stenciling or painting on fabric is another easy way to turn basic clothing into sophisticated styles. Create your own customized stencils using contact paper, or find plenty of options at your local craft store or on websites like Etsy. Just pick up some fabric paint, lay out your stencil and get to work. For a super simple - but definitely eye-catching - transformation, try replacing the buttons on a favorite sweater or jacket with new buttons in an unexpected color, fabric or texture. Adding beads, ribbon or lace are additional options for making your clothing your own.
Not ready to make over your favorite existing pieces? Experiment with finds from a local consignment store, Goodwill or Salvation Army shop - you'll often discover gently used or like-new clothing for just a few dollars, and you won't have to worry if your design goes awry. For more fun fashion do-it-yourself ideas, check out Pinterest, crafting websites like Craftster, or try to recreate styles from the pages of your favorite fashion magazine.
Courtesy of BPT
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
(NC)-Although most Canadians-save for those heading south for golf vacations-pack their clubs into storage at this time of year, many experts suggest that winter is actually the ideal time to refine your game.
"In the spring and summer, given the option to practise or play, most people will want to play," explains Andre Cuerrier, the director of academies and services at Golf Town, the largest golf retail chain in Canada. "But in fall or winter, you really have an opportunity to tune things up so that you'll get even more out of your game next year."
Cuerrier has seen the fruits of such labour firsthand. "We have a lot of testimonials from people that have seen improvement from winter lessons," he says. "Last winter, we had a gentleman who only played occasional corporate golf and said he had never broken 100. This summer, following some winter lessons, he came to the store and told us he not only broke 100, he broke 90."Cuerrier points out that Golf Town administers an estimated 40,000 lessons through its fleet of PGA of Canada instructors.
"Moving the game indoors, without the distraction of fair weather, can make for a more efficient learning environment," says Glenn Cundari, the technical director at the PGA of Canada.
"Taking winter instruction allows you to do the same thing as the top players in the world," he explains. "You hone your craft and by the time summer rolls around you can simply focus on playing the game much improved."
Understanding and refining that swing motion has become vastly easier in recent years. Sophisticated computer-swing and ball-flight analysis software and hardware enables instructors and club fitters to capture a vast array of swing data. Cuerrier says that Golf Town's new winter programs take advantage of that data to establish a benchmark of players' current abilities.
"We run players through a battery of tests in a simulator-a 30 to 45-minute assessment of their short and medium putts, chipping, pitching, short and long irons and drivers-to create a report card that shows where you should focus your energies," he explained. "The launch monitor data is not merely the way of the future, but it is the present of golf instruction, understanding your ball flight and launch conditions helps every player improve faster, but it also makes club fitting a more effective and efficient process since a player's swing becomes more refined and repeatable. But most importantly, when next spring rolls around, you'll enjoy playing golf more than ever."
Find out more about the array of cost effective lesson packages and coaching programs by visiting your local Golf Town or golftown.com
Courtesy of Newscanada
Technological advances are making our homes more efficient, but when it comes to technology, one area is often overlooked: the bathroom.
"People often don't think of the bathroom as a space where you can incorporate technology because so much of what we do there is routine," says tech expert, Marc Saltzman. "But advances in technology touch every part of our lives, every member of the household, and every room in the home - the bathroom included. Indeed, new products with smart solutions make bathroom activities more efficient, accessible, and even less costly, such as technology that can greatly reduce the amount of water used at the sink."
Consider these time-saving tools and tips to help you make the most of your bathroom time:
• A hands-free faucet not only saves water, it can also save time and reduce bathroom mess. Imagine your morning without having to struggle to turn on the water while your hands were covered in shaving cream? At deltafaucet.ca, take a look at the new Addison lavatory faucet as one example. It functions with an advanced, hands-free feature called, Touch2O.xt.
• Electronic toothbrushes have come a long way in recent years. Today's models feature added technology and timers that let you know when it's time to change sides, ensuring your teeth are minty fresh and clean.
• Self-cleaning electric razors save you time and mess and make the chore of shaving that much easier.
• A high-tech shower system with customized user-settings can help you achieve the perfect shower conditions with the press of a button – and nothing is better than that on a Monday morning.
• Bathroom fan timer switches make you conscious of time spent in the shower and can help you save water and time every morning.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Light blocking curtains, sometimes known as blackout curtains or lined blackout curtains, can be a very appealing and functional interior design touch. Once you understand the main elements involved in choosing your light blocking curtains, you'll be able to successfully install and utilize them to their maximum effectiveness.
Blackout curtain drapes or blackout window curtains come from the factory in many different sizes, shapes and styles. Since the main purpose of these curtains is to perform the function of blocking out daylight, it's essential to take accurate measurements around all of the windows and glass doors in which you intend to hang them. You need to always measure a little wider and lower so that the drapes extend past the corners, bottoms, and sides of the glass where all possible outdoor light can come in.
Are they Dark Enough?
Blackout curtains come in several colors. But they're all usually dark enough to serve the purpose of blocking the light out of your home, apartment or condominium. If you're buying them because you want to be able to sleep comfortably during the day when the sun's bright, then you should carefully choose the darkest color you can find, as this will successfully block out more sunlight than lighter versions. But if all you want to do is block out the often blinding glare of the sun that's coming into your living room, you can go with a lighter color to match your interior decor.
Materials and Textures
Many of these lined blackout curtains are made of heavy-duty thermal material since thermal textures are more efficient at blocking out the strong, harsh rays of the sun. You have to understand that when this type of material gets dirty from dust and other airborne pollutants, you'll have to eventually clean them. This will often mean removing them and taking them over to the dry cleaner, as household steam cleaners usually aren't effective enough for a thorough cleaning and a full disinfecting procedure.
But the many benefits of these heavy, rugged textures also include keeping out the intense heat of the sun in summer time, saving on your air conditioning energy consumption costs, and helping prevent the sun from color fading of your carpets and furniture, especially the leather, velour and suede variety.
You can find these blackout curtains selling for a wide variety of prices depending on which brand you buy and from which online or physical retail location you choose to purchase at. Wider, longer and heavier ones will always cost more. So will ones with custom designs and weaved patterns on them. These are the upscale, high end brands. Many homeowners are content to buy the least expensive, simplest designs and just color coordinate the curtains with their carpet, hardwood floors, wall coverings, and sofas. Well priced light blocking curtains are also going to be incredibly durable. They won't fade due to the strong sun hitting into them all day long, so they make an excellent household investment.
Because light blocking curtains can be used in so many home window applications, they have become very popular over the years since they first came out. Blackout window curtains can be used instead of ordinary blinds to block out much more sunlight. They're certainly ten times better than even the darkest standard curtains. And these light blocking curtains can be installed over either windows that rise vertically or over ones that roll inward towards the room. They can also be used on sliding glass doors that lead to patios, porches and decks.
By: Alfred Oliver
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The purchase or repair of a furnace, boiler, central air conditioner or ventilation system is a major investment and, because of the direct impact on our daily comfort, this type of home upgrade or maintenance deserves careful consideration, research and expertise. More often than not, homeowners do not distinguish one contractor from another on anything but price. Due to safety concerns, as well as the increased costs of heating or cooling a home without the proper equipment, the lowest price is not always the best value.
To maximize your comfort, safety and peace of mind, and to minimize your operating costs down the road, be sure to deal only with qualified, professional contractors.
So how can you be sure a contractor is reputable and qualified?
There are some obvious red flags to look for when shopping for a contractor. Reputable contractors, for example:
• will not quote prices over the phone without first assessing your job on-site;
• will not request large cash advances prior to the delivery of any equipment or materials'
• will readily provide a full business address as well as a telephone number where the company can be reached;
• will be happy to offer the names and addresses of customers they have done work for in your area.
Your own due diligence is important to locating a reputable contractor. Prior to calling for a quote, research the contractors in your area by:
• using the contractor locator on www.hrai.ca (or contact the call centre at 1-877-467-4724). Member contractors will display the HRAI logo;
• visiting each contractor's website for a review of their services and the equipment they offer;
• making sure the contractors you deal with are properly licensed and insured to do the work that they do;
• speaking with the contractor's previous clients.
The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) requires its contractor members to carry relevant trade, fuel safety and applicable licenses as well as worker's compensation and liability insurance. You may be surprised to learn that many contractors simply don't bother with licensing or insurance. They may pass on lower costs to you up front, but you could end up paying much more over time, not only financially, but in terms of your family's comfort, health, safety and peace of mind.
A contractor's membership in HRAI does not guarantee a quality installation or service, but it will provide you with some assurance that they are properly qualified and insured to do the job right.
Courtesy of Newscanada
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.
Courtesy of BPT
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Simple precautions can help you deal with heat and humidity. The key is to not interfere with the body's natural ability to keep cool:
Courtesy of BPT
You might not be aware that your home may pose some hidden risks for you and your family. But you don't need a fat budget to give your home a safer and healthier boost. After all, there is nothing more important than keeping your family safe.
Hazards may be lurking in your home, and for $100 or less, you can make the home improvement precautions needed to protect your family from common household dangers. Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated show "Today's Homeowner," recommends these budget-friendly DIY projects for a safer and healthier home:
* Mount smoke detectors: There should be a smoke detector on each floor and in or near every bedroom in the home. Installing them is as simple as mounting them 4 inches from the wall on the ceiling. Smoke rises, so opt to place the detector at the highest point of the ceiling if you have an angled ceiling.
Estimated cost: $30
* Install a water filter: If you're concerned about lead, VOCs, microbial cysts and pharmaceuticals in your tap water, or even if you just don't like the taste or smell of it, install a DIY water filtration system such as the High Performance Drinking Water System that comes with a dedicated faucet and will provide your family with cleaner, better tasting water.
Estimated cost: $100
* Secure heavy furniture and appliances: Children are susceptible to bookshelves, televisions or other furniture falling over and causing harm. Use furniture brackets or straps to secure dressers, the stove, audio equipment and more to the wall to ensure passersby are safe from falling and tipping items.
Estimated cost: $10 or more, depending on number needed
* Install carbon monoxide alarms: Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, is a result of improperly vented or defective home systems such as heaters, furnaces and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide does not rise to the ceiling like smoke, so the alarms can be mounted anywhere, such as plugged into wall outlets or affixed to walls and powered by batteries.
Estimated cost: $50
* Install a bathroom vent fan: Poor ventilation in the bathroom can lead to a buildup of excess moisture, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Install a bathroom vent fan to push the moist air outside the home to avoid creating unhealthy conditions in the room, as well as fogged-up windows, steamy mirrors, and eventually ruined walls and ceilings.
Estimated cost: $100
For more information and other tips, visit FiltreteWater.com.
Courtesy of BPT
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A recent survey conducted by Desjardins Group as part of its Personal Finance Index found that most Canadian consumers know very little about insurance products. To measure their general understanding of these products, eight personal money management questions were added to this year's survey. The results indicated that:
• Only 44% knew that not all insurance policies come with surrender value
• 30% did not know whether their credit card comes with travel insurance, whereas 32% knew that it does but knew little about the coverage itself.
In terms of other types of insurance, a third of respondents have refused a mortgage insurance product offered by a lending institution, without first assessing their financial situation or comparing costs with other mortgage insurance products available on the market. And less than half of the respondents showed a real understanding of how they were protected by their home insurance.
These results indicate that there remains a gap in the public's understanding of personal finance.
We asked Reh Bhanji, an insurance expert from Desjardins Financial Security for his assessment. "Clearly, there is still much we can do as financial advisors to help Canadians improve their financial knowledge," said Bhanji. "Of course, some people are uncomfortable to talk about money, but it actually can be fun. We have tools that help illustrate different scenarios which can help re-ignite a person's enthusiasm towards their finances and insurance coverage. And it's actually very important because it allows you to better manage life changes like a new addition to the family, a new home, a new job, etc."
What's the best way to start improving personal financial habits and to learn more about insurance?
One way is to sit down with a financial adviser or an insurance representative to discuss your current life, health and disability insurance needs. A properly trained representative will then suggest a suitable product that offers the best protection. You may be interested in trying the online self-evaluation tool available on the Desjardins Group's Co-opme Program website at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.
And here are two brief descriptions of some life insurance products to help get you started:
Permanent life insurance can be adapted to long-term goals and premiums can be paid as fixed amounts for the entire coverage period, in installments or in full in a certain number of years.
Universal life insurance is very flexible and totally conforms to your needs because you can add or remove features and increase or decrease premiums at any time. The savings component can be accessed anytime, barring any restrictions attached to the investment type, making this an ideal emergency or retirement fund.
For more information about these and other insurance products, visit the insurance product section of the Desjardins Financial Security website at www.desjardinslifeinsurance.com.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Nowadays, many are choosing to live in their homes longer. As a result, a growing number of homeowners are investing in home improvements they can enjoy themselves.
One of the best home improvements homeowners can make is replacing tired, old, faded siding. According to the National Association of Realtors, replacing your siding offers an 80 percent payback or return on your investment.
One reason that new siding is such a solid home improvement investment is it instantly enhances the curb appeal of your home. There's nothing quite like the warm feeling of driving up to your home every day and admiring its beauty.
Siding also is a critical link to the well-being of your home. Siding is the first layer of defense against the elements, protecting the walls and interior of your home from moisture, heat and cold.
From wood clapboard and brick used widely to side homes decades ago to today's innovative materials, such as patented Ultrex pultruded fiberglass used in APEX siding and trim, siding materials have evolved to deliver higher performance, more cost efficiency and enhanced aesthetics. With so many choices available to homeowners today, it's important for homeowners to do their homework when shopping for home siding. Here are seven tips to consider when shopping for home siding:
1. Do your homework. Not all siding options are created equal. There's a huge difference between lower cost vinyl siding products and high-performance fiberglass siding. Lower priced options often come with tradeoffs, such as a higher risk of damage in a severe storm from hail or wind, faster color fading, or lots of maintenance (repainting, caulking, etc.). Premium siding products may cost more initially, but may be far less expensive and hassle-free over the course of homeownership.
2. Have a plan. Now is the time to coordinate other exterior elements with your new siding and trim to give your home a more contemporary, updated look and feel. Consider new energy-saving windows, such as Integrity windows, a new garage door, new roof shingles and enhance your landscaping through the use of pavers, wall systems and perennial plants and shrubs.
3. Get referrals. Ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends for referrals of remodelers who specialize in replacing siding. Interview several remodelers and always get detailed estimates before committing to any remodeler.
4. Visit homes. Replacing siding isn't like replacing an appliance. You may only do this once or twice in your lifetime. To make sure you get exactly what you want, make sure to visit homes that have recently been resided by your contractor or remodeler. This will help you compare how different types of house siding actually look on a home.
5. Take your siding green. When replacing your siding, use siding material that is made from sustainable materials, such as sand, which will reduce the use of harmful chemicals and paints needed to manufacture and maintain it.
6. Select your colors. Choosing a color for your new siding may be the most difficult decision you'll have to make. The good news is that today's top-of-the-line siding offers a wide variety of bold colors from which to select. In contrast to traditional wood and fiber cement siding that requires painting and caulking every few years, new pultruded fiberglass siding offers an acrylic finish that is thicker and more durable than paint, and it resists chipping and fading. This allows homeowners to enjoy the satisfaction of their new siding with virtually zero maintenance.
7. Better moisture management. The number one thing you should expect of your new siding is it should protect your home from the elements, especially moisture. Unfortunately, some types of siding, such as fiber cement, wood and stucco, are more prone to moisture because they trap or absorb moisture behind the siding material. Instead, look to a siding that is inherently resistant to water. Then, look to how that siding will manage moisture - behind the siding, when it's up against the wall of your home. A siding system that provides a continuous, natural drainage plane (moisture drains harmlessly away), and allows air to circulate to provide natural evaporation is critical to decreasing trapped moisture, which creates rot and mold.
(NC)-As the daily grind gets busier, many of us yearn for a space where we can rest and relax without interruption. Yet, with the neighbor's lawnmower buzzing, aircraft flying overhead, cars and trucks whooshing past plus other noises, it can be increasingly hard to find a quiet place to chill out from the hustle and bustle of life.
Have you looked at the effective ways to soundproof your home?
Heavy soundproofing drapes and double-glazed windows are a good start to minimizing external noises, but they are often only effective for certain rooms. A far more versatile option that will noticeably minimize unwanted noise is the handy and increasingly popular spray foam insulation.
Applied throughout a home's wall and ceiling cavities, spray foam insulation (like that available from Icynene) addresses common airborne and flanking noises in places such as home theaters, workshops, garages and even from outside. The whole house can benefit with its sound dampening qualities and it works in harmony with other sound dampening materials such as double-glazed windows.
Spray foam insulation seals gaps and holes through which airborne sound moves within a home, adding value and comfort to create a quiet, peaceful environment. More information can be found online at www.icynene.com.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
(BPT) - Indoors or outdoors, your home decor needs some TLC to look its best. Replacing worn or dated furniture or flooring inside your home is considered fairly easy. But when outdoor spaces start to appear shabby, do you decide to live with the tired look because you think freshening the space will be too time-consuming or costly?
A few budget-friendly improvements and decorating touches can revitalize worn outdoor spaces and help them look new and inviting again. Here are some common challenges, and tips for overcoming them:
Worn decks, patios or porches
Decks, patios and porches are popular spots for home improvements - ones that create a staging place for outdoor entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying nature. When a wood deck becomes old and worn, or concrete patios crack, you may think the only solution is to replace them. But before you take that costly step, consider alternatives that can revitalize the existing surface without the need to replace it.
According to Scott Richards, senior vice president of marketing at Behr Paints, BEHR DECKOVER Solid Color Coating is a smooth finish resurfacing product that brings old, weathered wood or concrete surfaces back to life with a unique solution that hasn't existed before, and it's a budget-friendly alternative to replacing deck boards, railings, porches, boat docks, pool decking or patios.
"BEHR DECKOVER protects against the elements, while refreshing the appearance of wood and concrete," says Richards. "With just two coats and no primer needed, the thick coating covers splinters and fills cracks up to a quarter of an inch, spreading as easily as paint. We've created a way to achieve a low maintenance deck that resists the elements, repels water and creates a smooth, slip-resistant finish that is comfortable for bare feet." It's available at The Home Depot stores nationwide and comes in 54 colors. Visit www.behr.com to learn more.
Adding accents like decorative railings or lighted post caps can also revive the look of older decks. Deck manufacturers offer a variety of options for railings, from carved wood to metal and even glass. In most cases, you can add these railings to your existing deck boards, allowing you to replace just part of the deck and achieve a brand-new, designer look.
Replacing sun-faded, weather-damaged cushions on outdoor furniture is a good start, and easy enough to do. But what do you do when the furniture frame has seen better days? Depending on the type of construction, you have several options including painting and reupholstering.
Landscaping and lighting
Modern outdoor settings allow nature and technology to meet. Give your exterior living space a new modern look by upgrading both landscaping and lighting. Improving your landscaping can be as easy as planting a few container gardens around your deck or patio and filling them with flowers that will bloom throughout the season. Nothing looks fresher and livelier than flowers.
Next, look at how your outdoor space is lit. Adding lighting allows you to enjoy the space safely after the sun goes down, but dated lighting can make your deck or patio look dull. Plus, older lights are often not as energy-efficient as newer options. Upgrade lighting by replacing old fixtures with newer options, such as solar-powered lights or ones that use energy-sipping CFLs or LEDs.
Making your old outdoor space look like it belongs beside a new showcase home doesn't have to be difficult or costly. With a few budget-minded tips and tools, it's possible for any do-it-yourselfer to make everything old new again.
Courtesy of BPT