Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Roland J. Darel Okotoks Realty and Calgary Realty. Backyard trends: Save money installing your own vinyl fence

If you want the maintenance-free benefits of a vinyl fence but are intimidated by the price tag, you're not alone. Many homeowners are initially surprised at the cost of a vinyl fence, particularly since the installation costs are generally as much as the materials. Recent trends show that more and more homeowners are saving money by installing their own vinyl fencing.

In the past few years, the market has surged with DIY-friendly fencing products, making it much easier for a homeowner to install a vinyl fence without the use of specialized equipment. In the past, heavy auguring and cement mixing equipment was required to install a fence, making the project much more intimidating, time consuming and dirty.

The modern way is to install a vinyl fence post much like you would a chain link fence post - by driving a pipe anchor deep into the ground. After leveling the pipe, a vinyl post is sleeved over top. The result is a level fence post installed without the labor-intensive process of digging a deep hole and pouring concrete to set the post.

"The no-dig installation method makes vinyl fence installation so much easier and cleaner," says Denise Esser of WamBam Fence. "You manually drive the posts with a pounder, but for those who don't like the idea of manually driving pipe, there are new gasoline powered pounders on the market. Although certainly not required, renting one for an afternoon makes the job even easier."

The no-dig way of installing vinyl fence has been used in Western Canada, where weather conditions are particularly harsh, for almost 20 years. In the past decade or so, it has also gained traction in the States as fencers and homeowners embrace the simpler installation method, particularly after the method passed wind load tests withstanding the class 1 hurricane category winds of up to 75 mph.

"We believe every homeowner with an average skill set can install their own vinyl fence, which can save their family thousands of dollars," says Esser. "It's important to make sure that the fence you buy has detailed installation guides, videos, and technical support available so that if you run into a snag, you're not left feeling stranded."

This may be one of the reasons that homeowners have been hesitant to tackle their own fencing projects. Along with the labor-intensive and tedious installation method of digging holes and pouring concrete, fencing wasn't previously sold with installation guides and other helpful resources. Fortunately this has changed with the DIY-friendly fencing products currently on the market.

In a day when consumers everywhere are looking to save money, it's refreshing to see that this is one home project that just got a lot easier for homeowners to tackle.

Courtesy of BPT

Roland J. Darel Okotoks Realty and Calgary Realty. 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


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roland J. Darel Okotoks Realty and Calgary Realty. Are you ready for financial independence?

(NC) Beginning a career and moving out on your own are two big steps toward financial independence. But becoming financially independent requires a plan. In Canada, November is Financial Literacy Month-the perfect time for young adults to review their short- and long-term financial goals and make a plan to put them into action.

Whether you're saving to buy a TV for your new apartment, to make a down payment on your first home, or to pay down student debt, a good plan will help you reach your goals. Make them a reality by listing them and assigning a timeline to each. Once you've established your goals, incorporate them into your monthly budget.

While a new job may mean a higher income, moving out on your own brings many new expenses. How do you know that you're ready financially? With the added financial commitments, how will you work toward your financial goals? How will you prepare for life's costly surprises?

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has resources, available at itpaytoknow.gc.ca, to help young adults plan to achieve their life goals. The Moving out on Your Own life eventhelps work out the costs associated with moving out and living on your own as a tenant or homeowner, and provides useful information on how to make a household budget. The Starting your First Job life eventhelps individuals manage their money wisely as they enter the workforce.

A realistic budget is only one aspect of securing your financial independence. An unforeseen event could become a budget breaker, which is why FCAC recommends building an emergency fund that covers three to six months of expenses.

It may require a new approach to your finances, but financial independence is attainable.www.newscanada.com

Courtesy of Newscanada

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dining outdoors? Tips for keeping food safe and delicious

(BPT) - Al fresco dining is one of the great pleasures of warm weather. Whether you're hosting a neighborhood barbecue or an intimate dinner party on your deck, outdoor dining is a great way to savor good food, company and the great outdoors. To ensure your meals are safe and enjoyable, it's important to know how to prepare, transport and store food for outdoor eating.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) offers some advice for safely handling food when you're dining outdoors this summer:


Warm weather brings a bounty of fresh produce, and a trip to the local farmers market can make a nice addition to your outdoor meal. Food safety starts in the field. It's important to get to know the growers selling produce at your local farm stand, and ask about their farming practices. How do they keep their products free from bacterial pathogens and other contaminants? Farmers may also have great tips for storing produce, testing for ripeness and even ways to prepare the fruits and veggies they sell.

IFT spokesperson and food safety expert, Don Schaffner, PhD, says that when you're purchasing produce, make sure it's free of mold, bruises or blemishes where bacterial pathogens can grow. Many grocery stores offer freshly cut, packaged produce for customers seeking nutritious convenience foods. Freshly cut vegetables and fruit need proper temperature control to prevent the growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illness.


Before preparing food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure all prep utensils such as cutting boards, dishes and countertops are clean before preparing each food item.

Dirt, dust and pathogenic microbes can linger on produce. It's important to wash fresh produce before consuming it. The only exception is are pre-bagged salads and leafy greens, as experts advise that additional washing of ready-to-eat green salads is not likely to enhance safety. Thoroughly washing in cold water will suffice for most fruits and vegetables, but some types of produce require special handling. Wash spinach or salad greens in a bowl of water and rinse them gently to remove dirt and other contaminants. -

Give extra attention to fruits with stems, such as apples, pears and peaches. You may be tempted to forego washing fruit with a rind, since you won't be eating the rind. But, it's still important to wash oranges, avocados, melons, cantaloupe, etc. - pathogens can linger in unwashed crevices and transfer to your hands or the knife you use to cut the fruit. In addition, wash items you'll peel - such as carrots and cucumbers - for the same reason.


If you'll be grilling at home, remember to always marinate meat in the refrigerator, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. Discard any extra marinade that's touched raw meat.

Grill food thoroughly, using a thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature: 145 F for steaks and fish, 160 F for pork, hot dogs and hamburgers, and 165 F for poultry. Keep finished meats hot until you serve by moving them to the side of the grill rack, away from the coals or highest flame on your gas grill. Avoid cross contamination by using separate serving plates and utensils for different meats and vegetables.

If you'll be grilling away from home - in a park, tailgating at a sporting event or on a camping trip - consider purchasing pre-formed patties for burgers and pre-cut poultry. This minimizes the amount of handling meat requires and can help minimize the risk of bacteria and cross contamination.


A picnic in the park can be great fun for everyone, but it's important to assure your food arrives safely along with your family and guests. Follow smart food packing guidelines. Keep meats, including lunch meats and raw meats, cheeses and condiments cold in insulated, soft-sided bags or coolers with freezer gel packs.

Food needs to be stored at 40 F or colder to reduce the risk of pathogen growth, so limit the number of times you open the cooler. Never allow food to sit for more than two hours at temperatures below 90 F, and no more than an hour when temperatures exceed 90 F. Throw away food that's been sitting out too long.

Securely package raw meat, seafood and poultry to ensure the juices don't contaminate other foods. Pack only the amount of perishable food that you think will be eaten. Beverages and perishable foods should travel in separate containers and coolers, especially if you'll be transporting raw meat.

When it's time to go home, don't reuse packaging material that has touched raw meats or meat juices. Make sure perishable leftovers stay cold on the trip home. Avoid taking home uncooked leftovers.

Courtesy of BPT

Strong dairy and poultry farming performance boosting taxes

(NC) British Columbia's dairy, poultry, and eggs producers continue to see their tax bills rise, hitting $223.1 million, an 8.3 per cent jump, says a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

While other agriculture sectors in B.C. have had a tough time in recent years, dairy and poultry farmers continue to post strong results, including creating 3,350 new jobs, according to a newly released PwC report titled "Economic impact of British Columbia's dairy, chicken, turkey, hatching egg and table egg industries - update."

These sectors operate under the system of supply management, where farmers work with industry and government to set production levels and fair producer prices. This stability has been the anchor of B.C. agriculture's success, to the point where they now account for 45 per cent of all jobs and 42 per cent of total agriculture output, or $5.6 billion.

While all levels of government have enjoyed ever-increasing tax payments from supply managed farms, their treasuries are also spared from giving any of that money back. Agricultural subsidies - common in other countries - are not paid to supply-managed industries, making the dairy, egg, and poultry sectors virtual cash cows.

"The vast majority of farms in supply management are family run and are proud to play central roles in town economies across B.C.," says Al Sakalauskas, a spokesperson for the B.C. Dairy, Egg, and Poultry Industries. "Paying our fair share of taxes is just part of our commitment to the communities where we farm and live."

Of the 223.2 million paid in taxes in 2011, $119 million went to Ottawa, $81.8 million to Victoria and $22.4 million to municipalities.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in British Columbia only.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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 are not only eye-catching but also comfortable for you and your family. If you are going to change the flooring in your home, here are some tips for flooring the different parts of your house.

Bedroom flooring:

There are plenty 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 grabs a big part of your budget whenever you are remodeling. 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. 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:

It is the most used area and withstands most of the traffic coming in and out of the house. It is highly recommended that the flooring should be strong enough that it can endure all such amendments 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.

Kitchen flooring:

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 a 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.

by: Builder Brian