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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thinking about selling or buying?

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween is around the corner!

Baby, it's getting cold outside!

Now's the time to winterize your home.
There's nothing better than cozying up on your couch during a winter blizzard while you're warm and comfortable inside. And there's nothing worse than feeling cold winter drafts all around you because you didn't take the time to winterize your home.

Fall is the perfect time for homeowners to prepare their home for the inevitable cold and snow, and one of the most beneficial ways to keep heat in and cold out is by winterizing your windows and doors.

But before you pull out your caulking gun, pick up the phone and get an energy audit.

"The audit will tell you exactly where the issues are in your home," says Francois Hamann, president of Eco Insulation in Markham, Ont. "It's a federal program, so homeowners will get money back depending on what upgrade they're doing. They might as well take advantage because it really is the best way to make sure your home is ready for winter."

If you notice the snow around your home is melting faster than your neighbours or you have large icicles hanging from your home, there's a good chance your attic is poorly insulated. Hamann says one of the most important places to winterize is the attic: poorly insulated attics are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of a home's heat loss. Hamann says most homes don't have an attic with an R-value (insulation value) rating higher than 24, but to properly insulate your attic a minimum rating of R40 is needed.

"If your attic isn't properly insulated, you'll experience pockets of air where it's colder in your home," says Hamann.

He notes the best way to insulate the area is with cellulose insulation, a cost-effective and environmentally friendly product that performs well in extremely cold temperatures.

To winterize windows and doors, using high performance spray foam insulation and caulking will ensure there is no air leakage. Replacing door jamb weatherstripping and re-caulking the exterior of windows are low-cost options that can make a big difference to your bottom line.

If your windows and doors are beyond repair, they should be replaced with new energy-efficient options.

Technical advances mean today's best windows allow heat to come in while preventing it from escaping. Adam Jones, owner of MAXgreen Windows and Doors Ltd. in Calgary, advises homeowners to invest in triple-paned (or triple-glazed) windows for ultimate efficiency.

A triple-pane window provides more insulation and is more energy-efficient than the double-pane window (or dual pane), not just because of the added barrier but because this extra layer allows another surface to be given a low-emittance (low-E) coating. Essentially a low-E coating hinders radiant heat transfer: very little heat will be lost from the inside or gained from the outside.

He also advises homeowners to invest in crank-style windows over the builder-grade sliding variety. "Sliding windows commonly found in new construction don't seal quite as tight as casement (crank) windows," says Jones. "Although crank windows might cost 15 to 25 per cent more than sliding windows, they'll save you more in home efficiency."

Although some homeowners swear by storm doors to block out wind and cold, Jones says investing in a high quality fibreglass door is more beneficial when it comes to winterizing your home.

"Fibreglass doors are less likely to warp," says Jones. "And the inside of the door is injected with foam so it insulates better and keeps heat in."

Many homeowners might not think of the garage when they go about winterizing their home, but organizing the space is imperative if you want to utilize the garage over winter.

During the hot summer months, the garage is frequently used as a workshop for home projects and the car is parked on the street or driveway. But when the weather grows cold, homeowners generally want to shelter their cars from the elements. And to do that, they have to get everything off the floor.

Because the car often takes up most of the garage, walls and ceilings are the most valuable storage areas.

"Use the height in your garage to store things used less often, such as seasonal decorations and tires," says Rick Scully, chief transformation officer of Nuvo Garage in Toronto. "You can buy ceiling baskets that hang from the ceiling where you can store items."

The walls are ideal for storing frequently used tools and new garage storage products are available for this purpose.

"They are basically heavy-duty PVC wall panels that homeowners can insert hooks in," says Scully. "The hooks and panel are so strong, you can hang anything from ladders to lawn mowers on them."
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


We work with only the best
Contact Manulife Financial for your future.
Financial Advisor - Jonathan Showers 514.421.7090 x 264


Have a wonderful day!


Protein does more than just build strong muscles. It also strengthens bones, increases satiety, protects against heart disease, and helps support a healthy immune system. We also know that consuming plenty of protein is an essential component of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. When most people think about protein, foods like chicken, beef, pork, and eggs usually come to mind. But there are several hidden protein treasures that can help you meet your needs while also helping you cut back on your meat intake.


Beans are well-known for being high in fiber, but did you know they are also high in protein? Beans are a wonderful source of protein, ranging from 10-18 grams per cup cooked, depending on the type. They're also versatile and economical. Dried beans are very inexpensive and can be incorporated into a variety to dishes. Diets that include beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Another bean bonus: A recent study found that people who eat beans weighed on average 7 pounds less and had smaller waists than those who didn't eat beans. To reduce some unpleasant side effects, rinse beans in water to reduce their gas-producing effect.


Another surprising source of high-quality protein is quinoa. Quinoa, a seed that's commonly thought of as a grain, was originally cultivated by the Incas in South America but is gaining popularity worldwide. A quarter-cup of cooked quinoa provides 5 grams of protein. It is especially rich in the amino acid lysine, which is important for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa works well in soups and salads and can easily serve as a substitute for rice in most recipes.


Soybeans are the only vegetables that are a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids--amino acids that our bodies can not make and must be obtained from food. In fact, soybeans produce more than two times as much protein per acre of land than any other crop of vegetable or grain. Soybeans are used in a multitude of foods, including soy milk, tofu, tempeh (fermented soybeans), soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy nuts, edamame (green, immature soybeans), mature yellow soybeans, miso (a thick paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt--used in Japanese cooking to make soups or sauces), textured vegetable protein ('TVP'--used as a meat alternative), and others. The protein content of soy foods varies, ranging from about 25 grams for a ½-cup serving of TVP to 4 grams for a 2 Tbsp serving of miso paste.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are also a meat-free protein source. A one ounce serving of most nuts and seeds provide about 6-9 grams of protein.

Other Protein Sources

Other lesser known protein sources include:

Cottage cheese (14 g per ½-cup / 4 oz. serving)
Dried spirulina seaweed (8.6 g per 1 cup serving)
Bagels (7.2 g per small bagel, 3" diameter)
Oatmeal (6 g per 1 cup cooked)
Bulgur (6 g per 1 cup cooked)
Brown rice (5 g per 1 cup cooked)
Spinach (5 g per 1 cup cooked)
Baked potatoes (4.5 g per medium potato, skin included)
Peas (4.5 g per ½ cup serving)
Avocados (4 g per avocado)
Broccoli (4 g per 1 cup cooked)


Are you constantly misplacing household items like your screwdriver or tennis racquet? If so, perhaps your household needs a little re-organizing. Whether your home is a compact condo, cozy semi, or spacious detached, we can all benefit from a periodic check-in to see if we are making the best use of our space.

For house owners…
Take a peek inside many Canadian garages and chances are you won’t see a car. Garages and basements often become a dumping ground for all the things we rarely use. Here are five quick ways to makeover your garage and/or basement:

Clear the clutter! Have a yard sale, sell your unused goods online, or donate items to your local charity.
Add tall utility shelving to free up floor space, keeping any hazardous cleaning, garden, and automotive supplies out of reach of children by placing them on the top shelves.
Store lesser used items on utility shelving in plastic storage containers with lids to keep out dust and moisture. Use bigger bins on casters for more frequently used items and roll them out of the way, such as under a worktable.
Clear off your workbench and use a wall or pegboard to hang frequently used tools and store the rest in a tool chest. Use jars or plastic bins for storing and organizing smaller items like nails, screws, and nuts.
Hang skis, bikes, brooms, shovels, wheelbarrows and other unwieldy sport, garden, and household items off purpose-built wall hooks or in specialty containers to keep them free from damage.

For condo owners…
Even in the smallest of condominium units, there is often under-utilized space. Here are a few ways to help you optimize it:

Transfer your music collection to a digital format and sell your space-hogging records and CDs.
Keep out-of-season clothes and spare linens in vacuum-sealed storage bags under the bed. Use hooks for bathrobes, clothes, purses, or even jewellery.
Use decorative baskets for small items like magazines, hats, scarves, mittens, and children’s toys to keep things neat and organized.
Open or floating shelving will create the illusion of space while providing stylish storage for household and decorative items.
Invest in multi-functional furniture versus individual pieces which can take up valuable floor space. For example, a padded ottoman can be used as coffee table, storage space, and extra seating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


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Earn Aeroplan Miles when you use our service to buy or sell a home. Use the Aeroplan Miles you receive from your real estate transaction with us as you see fit. Are you craving a getaway? A big-screen television? Perhaps you'd rather get appliances for your new home or dine out in style? It's your decision!

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Canadian housing market called 'bright spot' in economic news

Prices for existing homes continued to moderate in September, with year-overyear gains the smallest since January, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The average price of a home sold across the country was $352,581, a 6.5-per-cent jump from a year earlier.

Sales activity rose 2.7 per cent in September from August, and 11 per cent from a year earlier but the Ottawabased group, which represents about 100 boards across the country, continued to describe the market as balanced.

"The national housing market tightened in September from the month before, but remains firmly entrenched in balanced territory," the group said in a release.

Sales for the first nine months of the year are now 1.2 per cent ahead of last year's pace.

Toronto led a number of other major markets boosting September sales. It was the highest level for national sales since the government tightened mortgage rules again earlier this year.

"The Canadian housing market remains a bright spot against a backdrop of mixed headline news about the global economy," said CREA president Gary Morse. "Low mortgage rates continue to draw buyers to the housing market, while recently tightened mortgage regulations are working as intended."

CREA said new listings nationally have changed very little over the past two months, but that the figure was affected by an averaging out of markets.

New listings rose in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Oakville and Vancouver, but were offset by fewer new listings in markets like Edmonton and the Fraser Valley.

Nationally, the sales-to-new listings ratio was 52.8 per cent in September, up from 51.6 per cent in August, and still considered a balanced market. CREA says almost two-thirds of Canadian markets have a sales-to-new listings ratio of 40 per cent to 60 per cent, which is considered balanced.

The number of months of inventory, which is based on how long it would take to sell current listings based on the current sales pace, was 6.1 months in September. It was 6.2 months in August.

Gregory Klump, chief economist for CREA, noted housing has remained stable in face of market volatility, which has contributed to Canadian confidence.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Sunday, October 16, 2011


Halloween is right around the corner. It's easy to send out Halloween cards and gifts using the SEND OUT CARD system.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


You could try to cram all your stuff into a one-bedroom condo, or you could pay the same price and get more space. Single condo buyers are being encouraged to buy two-bedroom suites because while one-bedroom units increased in value at a rate of 24%, two-bedrooms increased by 31%.

By Jennifer Febbraro, National Post

Remember the not-so-good old days when a single woman would be cautioned against buying her own condo just in case Prince Charming came around? Today, that same buyer is being encouraged to purchase a two-bedroom condo, though not exactly for the same reasons.

"I may decide to go the route of getting married and having kids," says Netta Scalzo, a recent purchaser of a two-bedroom condo at the Station Condos right next to Wilson station, "but the real reason I bought was because it was cheaper than buying a one-bedroom downtown. So it was almost like getting the second bedroom for free!"

This fact hasn't been lost on Station developer, Brandy Lane Homes. Company president, David Hirsh, conducted a survey of his last project, Loggia at Queensway and Islington, to compare the appreciation in dollars over a three-year horizon between differently sized units. What he discovered came as no surprise; the one-bedroom units increased in value at a rate of 24%, but the two-bedrooms increased by 31%.

A similar study by RealNet, an information company that tracks Canadian real estate facts, confirms this price appreciation, though the study was conducted over a two-year period. RealNet president, George Carras, explains: "What you'll see is an overall trend in the GTA of a greater price increase on two-bedrooms. There's a 17% increase for one bedrooms and a 22% increase for two - that's a 5% difference, but it can mean thousands of dollars in extra investment return."

Mr. Carras says the advantages to pushing your finances for that initial purchase far outweigh the disadvantages: "From a value perspective, you can't deny that the two-bedroom unit is a better investment. Even if you don't necessarily need a two-bedroom, because the general size of condo units is shrinking [due to the increased costs of building], sometimes a two bedroom gives you the kind of square footage that a one bedroom gave you many years ago."

As for Mr. Hirsh's study, he had an ulterior motive - to be able to confidently market the two-bedroom units to buyers with the hard stats to back up his claims. "In our guts, we just knew it was going to be a better investment potential for a two-bedroom condo," Mr. Hirsh says. "So for Station, we crunched the numbers and visually laid out the figures so buyers could clearly understand their options."

A snazzy ad for Station condos, for example, breaks it down: "We checked out 10 one-bedroom suites at different downtown condos. We averaged the size and price and guess what? A two-bedroom, two-bath, 937-squarefoot suite at The Station is bigger and less expensive than a one-bedroom, one-bath, 598 sq. ft. condo downtown."

Another plus to the two-bedroom, Mr. Hirsh says, is that in over 70% of the two-bedroom suites at the Station, there are walkout balconies from both the living room and bedroom. On average, the balcony from the two-bedroom-plus-den boasts 140 sq. ft., so it's basically like getting another entire extra room added to your already spacious home.

But Station is not the only one using the two-bedroom deal as a marketing strategy. Ads for the Mercer feature a broad-maned lion lounging across a brown shag rug, as the headline reads "King Size Living at King and John." The Mercer also offers a financial incentive of $15,500 to purchasers of a two-bedroom condo. "That's essentially 30 months of us carrying the weight of that larger unit for them," says Stephen Price, president of Graywood Developments, developer of the Mercer. "It can mean a lot, especially for those who weren't intentionally coming in to purchase a larger unit. But sometimes when we break down the numbers for them, the logic is there and it's undeniable."

Mr. Price espouses an old adage when speaking of the two-bedroom condo purchase: "Have you heard this one before?" he laughs. "It's a bit of an oldie. We used to always say in the real estate business -buy your second home first." The principle, he explains, is that one should not just accommodate his or her current lifestyle needs, but rather anticipate what may lie ahead in the future. "When you add up all the transactional costs of upgrading in Toronto," Mr. Price says, "it just makes more financial sense to buy larger in the first place."

And it's a changing demographic of who exactly is attracted to the two-bedroom. "We're no longer just seeing empty nesters," Mr. Price says. "But siblings or friends banding together or a new couple anticipating a small family. In many cases, you'll even see parents and a college-age child." In the latter case, the student will occupy the suite during their university years, then relocate once they've found a job. A few productive years of collecting money from a renter later -the parents, now on the brink of retirement, will downsize from a family home into the condo. What's optimal for the parents is they've gotten in on the condo market early on, making the difficult transition even easier for an older couple.

While many new condo buyers often have a knee-jerk reaction to buy downtown, many are reprioritizing space over location. "Of course, I initially thought I want to live downtown," says Ms. Scalzo, a young schoolteacher. "But I couldn't imagine living in such cramped quarters. I opted for the two-bedroom a little farther away, but it's ideal for me." It also didn't hurt that as a regular TTC user, she was right next to Wilson station and especially close to some regular shopping stops, like Costco, Best Buy and Second Cup.

"Sure, you get the immediate gratification of urban vibrancy now if you buy downtown," Mr. Hirsh says. "But at the Station, just 20 minutes from downtown, urban vibrancy is coming. All it requires is a little patience, a little bit of vision."

For most buyers, given the kind of square footage they are getting in exchange, envisioning a great lifestyle in this neighbourhood becomes easypeasy. Sometimes, bigger really is better.
© Copyright (c) National Post

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall fairs 2011: Sales, bazaars, dinners and other cozy gatherings

MONTREAL - What's better on a cool fall day than sitting down to a warm bowl of homemade soup, freshly made pierogies or a slice of torten or apple upside down cake? These are just a few of the things you'll find at some of the Christmas sales, bazaars and fall fairs listed below. Well, I guess the only other thing would be to find one of the many treasures they offer, too! So take a peek and plan your route - it's a wonderful way to spend a weekend and help out a good cause.


Boîte de Noël, 34th annual juried sale of arts and crafts by more than 50 artisans, 6 to 9 p.m., Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, 1350 Lakeshore Drive, Dorval. Tea room. Admission is $2.

YMCA book sale, to benefit the Strong Kids Campaign, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 11885 Laurentien Blvd., Cartierville. Books for everyone.

Annual art show and sale, featuring the work of more than 70 artisans, 7 to 9 p.m., St. Paul's Church, 377 44th Ave., Lachine.


YMCA book sale, to benefit the Strong Kids Campaign, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 11885 Laurentien Blvd., Cartierville. Books for everyone.

Boîte de Noël, 34th annual juried sale of arts and crafts by more than 50 artisans, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, 1350 Lakeshore Drive, Dorval. Tea room. Admission is $2.

Annual art show and sale, featuring the work of more than 70 artisans, 2 to 4 p.m., St. Paul's Church, 377 44th Ave., Lachine.


YMCA book sale, to benefit the Strong Kids Campaign, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 11885 Laurentien Blvd., Cartierville. Books for everyone.

Boîte de Noël, 34th annual juried sale of arts and crafts by more than 50 artisans, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, 1350 Lakeshore Drive, Dorval. Tea room. Admission is $2.

Annual art show and sale, featuring the work of more than 70 artisans, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's Church, 377 44th Ave., Lachine.

Bazaar, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Southwest United Church, 1445 Clemenceau Ave., Verdun. Crafts, books, white elephant. Refreshments.

Craft fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Residence l'Alto, 1700 St. Louis St., St. Laurent. Handicrafts, art, baked goods.

Rummage sale, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. Matthias Church, 131 Côte St. Antoine Rd. Linens, clothing for the family, toys, housewares.

Fall fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Maisonneuve Presbyterian Church, 1606 Letourneaux Ave. New clothing for the whole family, housewares, books, baked goods. Light lunch.

Everything 4 kids sale, 9 a.m. to noon, Cedar Park United Church, 204 Lakeview Ave., Pointe Claire. Gently used clothing, toys for babies and children.

Annual bazaar, sponsored by the 50 Plus Club of N.D.G., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6870 Terrebonne Ave. Something for everyone. Lunch from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Arts and crafts fair, sponsored by The Cercle de Fermières St. Jean Baptiste Marie-Vianney, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., St. Marguerite d'Youville Church, 130 St. Jean Baptiste Blvd., Châteauguay. Handknits, weaving, jewellery, natural beauty products, woodwork.

Book fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., St. James Anglican Church, 328 Pine St., Rosemère. Books, games, CDs, DVDs. Hotdog lunch.

Book sale, sponsored by the Friends of Beaconsfield Library, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Herb Linder Annex, 303 Beaconsfield Blvd., Beaconsfield. Books for everybody!


Boîte de Noël, 34th annual juried sale of arts and crafts by more than 50 artisans, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, 1350 Lakeshore Dr., Dorval. Tea room. Admission is $2.

Craft fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Residence l'Alto, 1700 Saint Louis, St. Laurent. Handicrafts, art, baked goods.

Arts and crafts fair, sponsored by The Cercle de Fermières St. Jean Baptiste Marie-Vianney, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., St. Marguerite d'Youville Church, 130 St. Jean Baptiste Blvd., Châteauguay. Handknits, weaving, jewellery, natural beauty products, woodwork.

Book sale, sponsored by the Friends of Beaconsfield Library, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Herb Linder Annex, 303 Beaconsfield Blvd., Beaconsfield. Books for everybody!


Early Bird Art and Gourmet vernissage, sponsored by the Auxiliary of the Montreal General Hospital, 5 to 9 p.m., Livingston Hall Lounge, sixth floor. Admission is $25. Original art, gourmet foods, preserves, handknits, jewellery, collectibles.

McGill book fair, 1 to 9 p.m., McGill University, Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St. Thousands of used books in both languages, CDs LPs, DVDs and sheet music.


Early Bird Art and Gourmet sale, sponsored by the Auxiliary of the Montreal General Hospital, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Livingston Hall Lounge, sixth floor. Original art, gourmet foods, preserves, handknits, jewellery, collectibles.

McGill book fair, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., McGill University, Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St. Thousands of used books in both languages, CDs LPs, DVDs and sheet music.

Pre-Christmas bazaar, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Montreal Chest Institute, 3650 St. Urbain St. Arts and crafts, baked goods, garage sale. Light lunch.


Early Bird Art and Gourmet sale, sponsored by the Auxiliary of the Montreal General Hospital, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Livingston Hall Lounge, sixth floor. Original art, gourmet foods, preserves, handknits, jewellery, collectibles.

McGill book fair, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., McGill University, Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St. Thousands of used books in both languages, CDs, LPs, DVDs and sheet music.


Fall fair, 1 to 9 p.m., St. Willibrord Church, 325 Willibrord Ave., Verdun. New household items, clothing, crafts, baked goods.


Fall fair, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., St. Willibrord Church, 325 Willibrord Ave., Verdun. New household items, clothing, crafts, baked goods.

Used book sale, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., St. Stephen's Anglican Church, 2000 Bourgogne St., Chambly. Pocketbooks and hardcovers for the whole family. Lunch.

Festival de l'Artisanat, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sign of the Theotokos Orthodox Church, 750 St. Joseph Blvd. E. Arts and crafts, books, baked goods. Lunch, $7.

Fall fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dorval Elementary School, 1750 Carson Ave., Dorval. Over 20 artisans display their wares, baked goods, raffle. BBQ lunch.

Family fun day, sponsored by the leadership students of Place Cartier Adult Centre, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 257 Beaconsfield Blvd. Handicrafts, garage sale, haunted house, baked goods. Hot lunch.

Fall bazaar, sponsored by the Parish of St. Cuthbert, St. Hilda and St. Luke, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 6341 de Lorimier Ave. Christmas crafts, books, white elephant, jewellery, baked goods. Light lunch at 12:30 p.m.

Animatch pumpkin and bake sale, 11:30 to 2:30 p.m., Château du Chien, 6B deLourdes in Pointe Claire Village. Halloween decorations, raffle, baked goods.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Banks on the environmental bandwagon with mortgage incentives

The trend toward green living has finally caught the attention of the banking industry.

Banks have watched as consumers have made greener choices in everything from washing detergent and light bulbs to high-efficiency furnaces and solar energy panels. With consumers interested in greening their lives, most of Canada’s major banks have seen the opportunity to offer “green mortgages,” which offer home buyers a discounted interest rate and other incentives to buy more environmentally sensitive houses or perform upgrades aimed at lowering their environmental footprint.

“We made the decision (to offer green mortgages) to respond to that market,” says Katie Archdekin, head of mortgage products for BMO. “We wanted to encourage customers to make positive change and positive choices for the environment. We’ve had great response.”

Consumers, especially first-time buyers, are increasingly looking to green home upgrades to help the environment and lower the carrying costs of owning a new home.

According to surveys conducted by Leger Marketing, while Canadians are interested in lessening their impact on the environment, the decision to buy a “green home” is really being driven by saving cash. More than 59 per cent of respondents cite financial savings as the main reason for making eco-friendly upgrades and purchases.

The results are not surprising, considering more than 51 per cent of survey respondents say utility costs are the biggest surprise financially when it comes to owning a home. Having new windows, doors and a high-efficiency furnace can go a long way to help make those carrying costs more palatable, according to Leger, which found 92 per cent of Canadian respondents recognize the cost advantages of energy efficient home upgrades.

It also found nearly half of all home buyers plan to make investments in energy efficient upgrades in the next year, especially with the anticipated extension of the federal government’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program. The program allows Canadians to write off a portion of their green home renovations on their taxes.

The green trend isn’t just infecting resale home buyers. According to an EnerQuality Green Building survey released in November 2009, more than 40 per cent of Ontario home buyers are willing to pay up to $10,000 more for a new “green” home, or a home that is Energy Star certified. That number is almost double the 22 per cent of home buyers who were willing to spend that amount of money in 2008.

Farhaneh Haque, regional manager of Mobile Mortgage Specialists at TD Canada Trust, says that with the additional money buyers are willing to spend on green homes and upgrades, many have been inquiring about discounts and incentives from the banks to help them.

“Environment has become increasingly popular. A lot of politicians are talking about it, the general public is talking about it, there are a lot of home renovation projects that you see around or on TV that are talking about it, major suppliers of home appliances are talking about it. It’s become very evident in the market,” says Haque. “It just made a lot of sense to have a product that supports our clients’ motivations. It encourages clients to seek out home renovations and take part, or participate, in environmental initiatives. It encourages green behaviour.”

While almost all of Canada’s big banks are offering green mortgages, the loans aren’t open to just anyone. Buyers must qualify for the green loan by proving that the house they are buying meets certain green energy standards, or that they will be completing certain green upgrades to the home shortly after moving in. Incentives offered by the banks vary. Some will provide rebates equal to the cost of a home energy audit, which is around $300, and then a cashback incentive that can be used for green upgrades. Others offer discounts to posted mortgage rates.

Eco mortgages

With so many different “green” mortgage offerings out there, wading through the offers can be a daunting task. Below is a list of a few of the more popular offerings on tap:

RBC Energy Saver Mortgage

— Receive a $300 rebate on a home energy audit

— Get a five-year, fixed mortgage with an annual interest rate of 4.34 per cent, more than one per cent lower than the regular posted five-year offering.

TD Canada Trust Green Mortgage

— Offers customers one per cent off the posted interest rate on a five-year, fixed-rate mortgage

— Customers also receive a cash rebate of up to one per cent of the amount of the mortgage when home buyers make Energy Star qualified appliance purchases and home upgrades or purchase CSA approved solar panels

— TD will also donate $100 to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation charity for each Green Mortgage opened.

BMO Eco Smart Mortgage

— Offers buyers of green properties a 3.89-per-cent annual interest rate on their mortgage

— In order to qualify for the BMO Eco Smart Mortgage, the home must meet certain requirements as confirmed by a third party appraiser (or energy auditor) arranged by BMO.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) incentive

— If a person uses CMHC insured financing to buy an energy-efficient home or purchases a house and makes energy-saving renovations to make it more energy efficient, a 10 per cent refund on the mortgage loan insurance premium may be available.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, October 7, 2011

STEVE JOBS 1955 - 2011


Steve Jobs is undeniably an extraordinary man by any standard. He has left his mark on no less than five industries: personal computers with Apple II and Macintosh, music with iPod and iTunes, phone with iPhone, and animation with Pixar. The middle-class hippie kid with no college education that he was built a computer empire and became a multi-millionaire in a few years, was fired from his own company before coming back a decade later to save it and turn it into one of the world’s most influential corporations, with millions of fans around the world. He has also contributed to the creation of the new leader in animated movies for decades to come. He has been called a fluke for years, but is now widely acknowledged as one the world’s most eminent business executives and an unrivaled visionary. He has changed millions of lives by making technology easy-to-use, exciting and beautiful.… And you know what the best part is? He’s not done yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Make your home more appealing for yourself and for potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:
- Trim bushes so they don't block windows reducing light.
- Buy a new doormat.
- Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.
- Put new doorknobs on your front door.
- Put a fresh coating on your driveway.
- Edge the grass around walks and trees.
- Keep your garden tools out of site.
- Be sure kids put away their toys.
- Buy a new mailbox.
- Upgrade your outside lighting.
- Use warm, incandescent light bulbs for a homey feel.
- Polish or replace your house numbers.
- Clean your gutters.
- Put out potpourri or burn scented candles.
- Buy new pillows for the sofa.
- Buy a flowering plant and put it in a window you pass by frequently.
- Make a centerpiece for your table with fruit or artificial flowers.
- Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.
- Buy new towels.
- Put a seasonal wreath on the door.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011



Deposit cheque with your offer to purchase, which becomes part of the down payment (if applicable).

Notaries’ fees of approximately $950 plus summary costs plus all applicable taxes; GST & PST.

Adjustment of school taxes (July to June).

Adjustment of municipal taxes (January to December).

Oil costs if applicable (One full tank approx. 909 liters at current rates).

Transfer tax: 0.5% on first $50,000, 1% on the difference from $50,000 to $250,000 and 1.5% on the difference over $250,000. Tax is based on the sale price or evaluation and is payable six weeks after signing.

Appraisal and Application fee for mortgage, which normally does not exceed $250 plus all applicable taxes, GST & QST. Banks usually waive this fee.

Building Inspection, if requested, which normally does not exceed $450, plus all applicable taxes, GST & QST, for written report.

C.M.H.C. premium for high ratio mortgage .5% to 4.25% of face value plus 9% tax on the premium. C.M.H.C. charge for opening of a file is approx. $235.

Property insurance is mandatory and proof will be required before the signing.

If the purchased property is a condominium, the purchaser will have monthly condo fees to pay and might have an adjustment for reserved fund at closing.

Paul and Diane's Top Ten Reasons For Using An Agent

Paul & Diane’s Top Ten reasons for using an agent

1. Your agent knows neighbourhood real estate values.
2. Your agent will establish an effective marketing strategy.
3. Your agent will take care of the many tasks involved in selling a house.
4. Your agent is an expert in the home selling process.
5. Your agent is an experienced negotiator.
6. Your agent has access to all of the latest marketing tools.
7. Your agent can make important recommendations.
8. Your agent understands that your home is potentially your largest asset.
9. Your agent will steer you clear of the many potential pitfalls & problems.
10. Your Royal LePage agent has the support of a national firm and a network of contacts and expertise.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011




- Heating system Inspect.
- Clean Filters


- Garage door Adjust and lubricate.
- Heating sys Inspect.
- Filters Clean.
- Floor drains Fill with water to prevent odors.
- Breakers Inspect and check for proper operation.
- Vacuum sys Inspect filtration system and empty bag.


- Ext. vents Inspect and lubricate.
- Heating sys Inspect.
- Filters Clean.
- Sump pump Inspect and clean.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Windows & Door Inspect and clean.


- Caulking Inspect and re-caulk if necessary.
- Landscaping Spring preparation.
- Gutters Clean and inspect.
- Roofing Inspect roofing and joints.
- Ext. faucets Re-open water flow.
- Lawnmower Perform spring tune-up
- Lawn furniture General inspection. Verify kids corner.
- Heating system Inspect.
- Air conditioning Inspect and clean.
- Filters Clean.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Outlets Verify functioning of electrical outlets.
- Basement Inspect for cracks and leaks.
- Tile joints Check joints and sealant
- Fire safety Inspect and test.


- Sheds Inspect.
- Fencing Inspect general state.
- Ext. siding General inspection
- Sidewalks Inspect for cracks and movement
- Windows Install window screens.
- Windows Wash windowpanes.
- Dehumidifier Dehumidifier startup.
- Filters Clean.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Floor drains Fill with water.
- Attic Inspect and provide proper ventilation.
- Structural Inspect structural components
- Central Vacuum Inspect filtration system and empty bag.


- Foundation Check exterior foundation walls.
- Balconies Check level and proper maintenance.
- Ventilator Seasonal shutdown.
- Filters Clean.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Basement Provide proper ventilation.
- Carpeting Seasonal cleaning.


- Filters Clean.
- Water heater Check safety valve and drain tank.
- Septic tank Check level of tank.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Basement Provide proper ventilation.
- Refrigerator Defrost.
- Washer Check water faucets and filters.
- Dryer Clean filter and exhaust vent.

- Filters Clean.
- Heating oil Negotiate supply contract.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Floor drains Fill with water to avoid odors.
- Breakers Verify proper functioning.
- Windows doors Inspect and clean.
- Basement Provide proper ventilation.
- Vacuum System Inspect filtration system and empty bag.


- Garage door Adjust and lubricate.
- Ext. sliding General inspection.
- Air conditioning Winter shutdown.
- Ventilator Seasonal startup. General Inspection.
- Filters Clean.
- Sump pump Inspect and clean.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Fireplace Complete inspection and cleaning.
- Weather strips Check fit and repair.


- Caulking Inspect and re-caulk if necessary.
- Landscaping Prepare for winter.
- Gutters Clean and inspect.
- Roofing Inspect roofing and joints.
- Lawn furniture Winterize.
- Snow removal Negotiate contract.
- Windows Remove screens and brush clean.
- Windows Wash window panes.
- Heating sys Inspection and cleaning.
- Filters Clean.
- Heat vents Clean.
- Heating wood Purchase. Do not store in basement.
- Plumbing Complete inspection.
- Drain wells Clean.
- Tile joints Apply silicone sealant.
- Fire safety Inspect and test.


- Ext. vents Inspect and lubricate.
- Ext. faucets Turn off water flow to faucets.
- Heating sys Inspect.
- Dehumidifier Dehumidifier seasonal shutoff.
- Humidifier Inspect and clean.
- Filters Clean.
- Floor drains Fill with water to avoid odors.
- Attic Inspect and provide proper ventilation.
- Vacuum system Inspect filtration system and empty bag.


- Heating sys Inspect.
- Filters Clean.
- Water heater Check safety valve.
- Carpeting Seasonal cleaning.
- Kitchen Clean and adjust cupboard doors.

From beans to zucchini, it's harvest time.....

Serve beans in oil and vinegar dressing, use zucchini in baked goods

By Helen Chesnut, Victoria Times Colonist

So abruptly the season changed. I'm swimming in the ocean under hot sunshine on Monday and donning sweaters while assessing the firewood supply the next day.

At the same time last week, familiar markers popped out of the ground to signal the transition from summer. The first colchicums began to bloom. Like crocuses on steroids, their outsized flowers greet the shift in weather with cheerful aplomb.

Fall has now officially begun. For me, the season has always felt like a fresh start as I eagerly anticipate the Great Outdoor Cleaning Project.

But first, because of the late growing season this year, harvesting remains an almost full-time occupation. The prune plums, usually picked late August and early September, have been slow to ripen.

Late summer apples require processing, and from speaking with and hearing from other gardeners, many of us are awash in beans.

I've been more than pleased with the heritage Lazy Housewife pole beans, tender and buttery, and Emerite, a French filet pole bean, has delivered its usual fine harvest.

The bush beans have provided more good, colourful eating.

Velour is a tasty purple filet bean, Thibodeau du Compte Beauce is a lovely purple-streaked green bean. Capitano is a broad, flat, Romano bean in bright yellow, and Alicante, a longtime favourite gourmet French bean, continues bearing slim, delicately flavoured pods.

Combining the lightly steamed, cut beans with red peppers and onion in a honey-sweetened oil and vinegar dressing is a fast and easy way to use beans.

Leftovers in the fridge are handy, too.

Then there's the issue of dealing with ever so slightly overgrown zucchini.

To save freezer space, I've been grating some to lightly steam, cool, package and freeze.

I've grated more to use in two recipes I recently found in an old cook book. One is a herb cornbread, another a wonderfully moist chocolate cake.

To make the chocolate cake, first melt four ounces unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 cup oil in a small saucepan over hot water.

Cream 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, add 1 1/4 cups sugar, three eggs, and one tablespoon vanilla. Beat well and add the melted chocolate and oil.

Mix together two cups all-purpose, unbleached flour with 1/3 cup cocoa, two teaspoons each baking soda and baking powder, and one teaspoon salt.

Stir into the batter along with 1/3 cup buttermilk (or sour cream). Add three cups coarsely grated zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Bake in oiled bundt pan for 40 minutes at 350 F, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Ice with cream cheese frosting or, my personal, easy favourite, whipped cream, plain or with a little chocolate sauce added.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Monday, October 3, 2011

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour - Dazzling Show

How do you stage a Michael Jackson show without Michael Jackson? With high energy dancing and acrobatics, plenty of razzle dazzle, tons of ingenuity and lots of carefully selected video clips of Jackson himself.

That seems to be more or less the recipe adhered to by the Cirque du Soleil in creating Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour which had its world premiere at the Belle Centre last night (Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011). It plays here again tonight before moving on to Ottawa, then to about 60 other North American cities.

This $60 million arena show that sold $40 million worth of tickets within 24 hours when it was first announced, is not like anything the Cirque has done before, although its genre is similar to that of Viva ELVIS and LOVE (the Beatles show) in Las Vegas.

This MJ show has circus acts, but it’s not a circus. Nor is it a rock concert or dance show, exactly, either. Insofar as people are expecting any one of the above, they may feel a bit shortchanged. But if they go with the performance art flow of it all, they are not likely to be bored.

This is a dazzling, fast-pace spectacle for people with short attention spans, flitting from one song to the next, seldom settling down with one for a whole number. All is deftly rearranged, using live music and Jackson’s recorded voice. The audience is overwhelmed with images, some of them on screens, others created through maniupulation of quirky props, like a mega-sized white glove, a huge Jackson hat that conceals several dancers or a pair of giant shoes and socks, with dancers inside.

There’s no real attempt to tell Jackson’s life story, but it does begin with a five-clown band, evoking the Jackson Five. (Not the most successful idea in the show, given their moves aren’t nearly as slick as the originals and their bad afro wigs don’t become them well.)

The show offers a fairly comprehensive sampling of Jackson’s better-known songs. Early on, there’s a poignant rendition of Have You Seen My Childhood? Some songs, like Dancing Machine and Black or White, get more of a workout than others. Fantasies of Neverland come alive, one after another, sometimes at very high volume. There’s quiet time, too, with Jackson speaking his own lyrics.

A solo dancer/acrobat in sparkling white does mime shtick that reminds us where the moonwalk came from. He returns again and again throughout the show, at one point doing a series of startling backwards cartwheels. (Do not try this at home.) Aerial acts are used frequently to conquerthe cavernous space of the Bell Centre. A single contortionist worms her way out of a giant book, in one clevelry staged scene.

Unlike most Cirque shows, this one, directed by Jamie King, is prepared to do a couple of encores. And on Sunday night it was clear that 15,000 people wanted more. And more.

*Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour premiered at the Bell Centre on Sunday. It will return March 20, 21 and 22 and July 6-7, 2012. Tickets from $50 to $250.: or 514-790-2525 or 1-877-668-8269. Next stop is Ottawa, on Oct. 7-8, 2011.