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These 5 Home Maintenance Must-Dos for October Are Not Scary at All

These 5 Home Maintenance Must-Dos for October Are Not Scary at All
Halloween's ghosts and ghouls are just around the corner, but you know what's really scary? Deferred home maintenance and the gruesome problems that can result! Prevent this horrible fate by taking care of a few easy tasks now. (realtor.com) > Read More
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26 Design Ideas for Beautiful Garden Paths

26 Design Ideas for Beautiful Garden Paths
Anchor your garden with a pretty walkway and savor the rewards of all that digging, planting and weeding. (diynetwork.com) > Read More
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How to Treat Your Lawn in the Fall

How to Treat Your Lawn in the Fall
After a summer of heavy use many lawns start showing signs of wear and tear by the end of the season. Early autumn is a great time to repair the damage and to ensure that your turf is in good condition for the year ahead. (HGTV.com) > Read More
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Real Life Haunted Houses in the United States

Real Life Haunted Houses in the United States
Most travelers avoid staying at haunted houses, but some travelers consider paranormal activity to be the hallmark of a great vacation. TravelandLeisure.com covers the coolest, creepiest haunted houses around the US. > Read More
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Autumn Porch Decorating Ideas

Autumn Porch Decorating Ideas
Fall is here! From pumpkin topiaries and leaf garland to a beautiful Fall wreath embellished with mini pumpkins and gourds, give your front porch style with these super easy ideas. (www.lauratrevey.com) > Read More
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Weekend Project: This Routine Cleaning Task Is a Serious Soul-Saver

Weekend Project: This Routine Cleaning Task Is a Serious Soul-Saver
Your fridge needs some attention before all of the holiday cooking begins. Eh? (www.apartmenttherapy.com) > Read More
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Elements of a Cozy Home

Elements of a Cozy Home
This time of year, as the weather changes, our homes begin to change, too. Lightweight summer bedding is replaced with warmer blankets. The air conditioner goes off and the fireplace comes on. Slippers or thick socks become a household necessity and we spend more time indoors. But above all, we strive to be cozy. > Read More
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Tips for Making Carved Pumpkins Last

Tips for Making Carved Pumpkins Last
Mold growth and dehydration are the two main causes of pumpkin rot. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent both so that your masterpieces stay fresh longer! (www.growingajeweledrose.com) > Read More
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September Home Maintenance Guide

September Home Maintenance Guide
Welcome fall! September is a month of transition, when we start to put away our summer gear and prepare for cooler weather. It can be a busy month for home maintenance, especially if you live in a region with fall wind and rain storms. (porch.com) > Read More
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15 Bedroom Designs for a Cozy Winter

15 Bedroom Designs for a Cozy Winter
Getting your bedroom ready for winter means cozy quilts, pretty pillows and soft blankets. > Read More
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10 Home Checks to Prepare for the Warmer Months

10 Home Checks to Prepare for the Warmer Months
10 Home Checks to Prepare for the Warmer Months > Read More
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10 Investment Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

10 Investment Tips for Buying a Vacation Home
You've discovered this great resort community and had a great time there. You'd love to go back any time you want, provide great vacations for others, while making money along the way. Congratulations, you've taken your first step toward buying a vacation rental. Let's look at 10 ways to make the most of your vacation home investment. (home.howstuffworks.com) > Read More
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How to Light Your Bath So Everyone Looks Good

How to Light Your Bath So Everyone Looks Good
These bathroom lighting ideas from Architectural Digest (architecturaldigest.com) are focused on creating a flattering space that makes everyone look good. Designer Victoria Hagan shares her expert advice. > Read More
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A Handy End-of-Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

A Handy End-of-Summer Home Maintenance Checklist
Every season can take a toll on your home's exterior, but the summer heat can be particularly destructive. When the dog days of summer give way to the cool breeze of fall, be sure to take some time to give your property a once-over and make the necessary repairs as needed. (centuryspouting.com) > Read More
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17 ways to cozy up your house for $0

17 ways to cozy up your house for $0
Relaxation for you and your bank account. > Read More
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Ten Tips for Hosting an End of Summer Party

Ten Tips for Hosting an End of Summer Party
It's hard to believe the end of summer is already here. What better way to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall than to host an end of the summer party? (momtastic.com) > Read More
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Backyard hangout

Backyard hangout
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How to Pot a Fruit Tree That Will Adorn Any Space

How to Pot a Fruit Tree That Will Adorn Any Space
Not enough room for an orchard? Try planting a small fruit tree in a container. (bhg.com) > Read More
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Tips for Throwing The Perfect Late Summer Picnic

Tips for Throwing The Perfect Late Summer Picnic
Plaid blankets, string lights, live music-event planner extraordinaire David Stark spills his secrets to throwing the perfect outdoor fête. (lonny.com) > Read More
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Your Back-To-School Food Planner

Your Back-To-School Food Planner
Find recipes and tips for easy family meals, creative lunches, and quick breakfasts that will ease back-to-school stress for you and your kids. (realsimple.com) > Read More
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25 Skinny Summer Snacks Your Afternoon Slump Needs

25 Skinny Summer Snacks Your Afternoon Slump Needs
We're all about eating between meals, which every nutritionist and study assures us is a good thing. The key is come 4 p.m., choosing something that's both healthy and satisfying. These fresh ideas will do just that on the hottest days. (redbookmag.com) > Read More
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Quick and Easy DIY Container Herb Gardens

Quick and Easy DIY Container Herb Gardens
Imagine a garden that is easy to grow and even easier to harvest. It's possible with a few containers and a handful of herbs.(bhg.com) > Read More
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How To Pressure Wash A House

How To Pressure Wash A House
You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but many home-buyers will certainly pass on a house that looks like it's been neglected. If you're trying to sell your home and have not taken the time to give it a good cleaning, you are doing yourself a disservice. This article from Pressure Washr will bring you through the steps to cleaning up your home's exterior and making it shine again. (pressurewashr.com) > Read More
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How To Pressure Wash A House

How To Pressure Wash A House
You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but many home-buyers will certainly pass on a house that looks like it's been neglected. If you're trying to sell your home and have not taken the time to give it a good cleaning, you are doing yourself a disservice. This article from Pressure Washr will bring you through the steps to cleaning up your home's exterior and making it shine again. (pressurewashr.com) > Read More
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Try some of the tips and tricks at a new Paramount Citrus website dailysqueeze.com to guarantee your gathering will be a blockbuster to remember.

* Get your grill on: Now is the time to tune up the grill. Creative grilling starts before your meat and veggies hit the heat, and a splash of citrus flavor is just what they need to stand out among the crowd. Find ways to add an extra kick of flavor to any barbecue dish at dailysqueeze.com. Add the tang of freshly squeezed lemon juice to chicken marinades and the kick of lime zest to spicy dry rubs for steak and chops.

* Shake up some cocktails: Grab a variety of spirits with a few favorite mixers. Place them in a designated area of the room along with lemons and limes for garnishes. This will take the burden off you to feel required to replenish your guests' drinks and let you enjoy your party. If you're looking for that perfect refreshment and a signature drink for your party, try making this simple yet delicious lime cooler from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Los Angeles' acclaimed Border Grill.

Minty Lime Cooler

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from a Paramount Citrus lime
 1/3 cup sugar
 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
 1 (12 ounce) bottle cold sparkling water
 lime slices and mint sprigs for garnish

Combine the lime juice, sugar and mint in a blender. Puree until smooth. Fill two tall glasses half-full with ice cubes. Pour half of the lime juice concentrate in each. Top with sparkling water, garnish with lime and mint and serve.

For a Mojito, adults can pour 1 ounce white rum into tall glass with ice, and top with Minty Lime Cooler.

* Choose a theme: Everyone loves a good party theme. Pick a food theme like southern barbecue or Mexican. Ambiance is also key, since it will set the tone of any party. Invest in some fun patio lights, lanterns or tiki torches to place around your yard if you plan to utilize your outside space.

* Don't forget the kids: If you know children will attend your party, have kid-friendly items ready for them to play with such as chalk or bubbles. Better yet, rent a bounce house. The kids are sure to entertain themselves for hours while parents can take a break and enjoy the party.

With these tips, your soiree will be the talk of your neighborhood, and your friends will be sure to request an encore performance next year.

Be sure to visit www.dailysqueeze.com for additional recipes.
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(NC) Ask any Canadian homeowner to name their biggest investment - their real pride and joy - and most likely they'll say it's their home. It's their sanctuary with the pristine lawn, beautiful garden, finished basement, and renovated kitchen. When such a paradise exists, why would anyone want to risk losing it? But what if disaster struck and your place was severely damaged by fire or some other catastrophe. Are you certain that your insurance policy would cover the rebuilding of your house and the replacement of all the contents? Unfortunately, this answer often comes too late that the homeowner isn't adequately covered. The property insurance experts from Desjardins Insurance have some answers and suggestions to help you.

  • First, be prepared. The first three days after an emergency are the most critical. So consider creating a 72-hour emergency kit. Typically it will include 3 days' worth of water for each person in your family, imperishable food stuffs, candles, flashlight and batteries, and a first-aid kit. Next, take an inventory of your belongings. Be thorough because it's easy to underestimate the total value of your possessions. Include furniture, jewellery, electronics such as computer equipment, game systems and television, along with clothes, shoes, boots, pots, pans, other personal and household items. Take particular note of expensive items such as antique furniture or other valuables.
  • Read your policy carefully. It's important to remember that your home insurance will not cover every type of major loss. The typical home insurance policy will cover a fire loss, as well as damage caused by lightning, windstorms, hailstorms and even tornadoes. Standard homeowners' policies in Canada exclude flood damage. However, policies generally cover other kinds of water damage, for example from a sewer backup or a burst pipe in your house. Desjardins Insurance is one of the few companies that also cover damage caused by water seepage through basement walls or floors.

Your policy may be worth more than your home. Many people believe that if their home is burnt to the ground, they would automatically receive full market value for their house. This isn't true. The value of a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild the house, not to sell it on the market. The actual replacement cost could end up being either greater or less than the market value. Replacement costs will include the material (lumber, roofing shingles, siding material, carpet, drywall, etc.), and the labor and architectural services. There are also additional costs associated with the demolition and clean-up of the site before construction, which can be expensive in a crowded city neighbourhood. The location of your home could be a factor too. For example if you're located in a remote or rural area, travelling expenses and supply transportation need to be taken into consideration.

For more information about your insurance policy and the replacement value of your home, speak to your insurance provider. Or for immediate answers, call or visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

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Basic Design

While you plan to re-work the bathroom space, the first thing you need to consider is its design. While working on bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, try not to change the existing layout and plumbing. You can either add or reduce the elements, but avoid shifting the major elements. If you have a bathtub then you can consider adding a shower enclosure. With the required shower fixtures and a classic shower curtain, you can enjoy the soothing shower as well as the relaxing bathtub. Apart from this, add a wall hung vanity to the basin. Corner, wall hung basin is best to be added instead of pedestal basins that occupy a lot of space. Utilize the corner space as much as you can. If you are adding a shower stall consider using glass as this will not give a blocking effect.

Add Storage

Once the basic design is worked over, you need to add some extra storage here. Remember that lack of storage is sure to make your small bathroom look cluttered and messy. As mentioned above, add wall hung bathroom vanity that will not occupy the floor space. Make arrangements to place your towels, bathrobes, etc. Have a vertical mirror over the basin and add small shelves on either sides of the mirror. These shelves will help you place the toiletries. One of the best small bathroom remodeling ideas is to add more shelves and closed cabinets on a side wall where you can keep grooming essentials and other bathroom accessories.

Color it Fresh

Giving a fresh coat to your bathroom needs no mention while you remodel it. Browse through the remodeling ideas for small bathrooms and you will find a lot of lively colors covering the bathroom walls. While it is best to paint small spaces in lighter shades like white, peach, lemon yellow, you can consider adding spicy element with a hint of flashy shade. Go for wall texturing or add a dark shade between the light colors. If bathroom walls are covered with tiles, make sure you clean them and the grout thoroughly and make them anew.

Spice it Up

Once you have finished implementing the basic bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, it is time to spruce up the area. Add decorative accent pieces like potted plants near the entrance and empty shelves. You can use decorative show pieces, wall hangings and frames to play up the bathing area. Use colorful, scented candles and decorative candle holders to further brighten up the small bathroom remodeling designs.

With the aforementioned bathroom remodeling ideas for small bathrooms, get ready to have a great looking bathing space. Make sure you maintain uniformity in terms of colors to get the best effect while bathroom remodeling for small bathrooms. With latest bathroom fixtures that area available in classy finishes and designs, you can give a grand touch to the area. Fresh and bright colors will help give a lively look to the bathroom designs for small spaces. So when are you remodeling your small bathroom?

by: Mamta Mule 
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(NC)-It's hard to stay organized in any aspect of life, but keeping your financial records in order is one of the most important things you can do to help your family should a crisis occur.

A recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) showed that only one in four Canadians could easily locate their vital documents, so let's  get organized to lessen anxiety when the unexpected happens. Here are some suggestions to get on the right track:

Step 1: Collect all of your financial records such as insurance policies, bank account and safety deposit box information, investment statements and more.

Step 2: Collect your personal data such as wills, powers of attorney, social insurance numbers, passport numbers, health records, computer passwords, etc.

Step 3: Once you have all your records gathered together, set up a filing system to organize the information. The Virtual Shoebox, located at www.clhia.ca, is a free online tool that can help you save important personal and financial information in one place so that family members can easily locate them in an emergency.

Step 4: Make sure you store this information in a safe place such as a secured folder on your computer, a safety-deposit box, or in a locked fireproof box.

Step 5: Finally, be sure to tell key family members or friends or your lawyer where this information is stored so they can find it easily and quickly.

"It's so easy not to think about it now, but taking a few minutes to organize important documents can be such a relief, especially when disaster strikes. Not only does it make our lives easier, but it can make a world of difference to a loved one who has to locate this information," says Wendy Hope, the vice president of external relations for CLHIA. "Organizing key information can help save time and money, and lessen anxiety for all concerned."

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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.

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For many people, the shower is an escape from reality ... perhaps the only 'me time' in an otherwise hectic day. But if your current shower isn't living up to your relaxing expectations, it may be time for a facelift.- Don't think you have the time or money? Don't throw in the towel just yet - an improved shower is within your reach. Simply follow these four quick and easy fixes that will make an amazing improvement to the everyday enjoyment of your shower.

Curves ahead

Shower curtains may keep water where it should be, but they also have a tendency to make a shower feel smaller, dark and cramped. An easy solution to this problem is to install a curved shower rod. These unique rods add an elegant and luxurious look to the room while also moving the curtain away from your body, creating a more comfortable experience and adding up to 7 inches of elbow room. --Moen offers a variety of styles, including a double curved shower rod that can be used to separate the decorative curtain from the liner - or to provide an additional bar to hang towels. Whatever curved shower rod you choose, be sure to coordinate the finish to match the rest of your bath fixtures.

Downsize and organize

Fewer people are living alone these days, reports the National Association of Home Builders, which means you likely share your shower with others. A shower shelf is an ideal solution to provide adequate storage and keep everyone's everyday essentials neat and easily within reach. The Moen Home Care Designer Grab Bar with Shelf adds the storage capabilities of a straight or corner shelf with the safety of a grab bar - all with a stylish design in the latest finishes.

Chance of showers

A simple showerhead update can dramatically improve your showering experience. With several styles available, the only difficult part is figuring out which one will suit your needs the best.

Rainshowers - If you're looking for relaxing, full-body coverage, a rainshower is the right choice for you. These showerheads are often larger than their standard counterparts, allowing the user to receive all-over coverage rather than a concentrated spray.

Handheld showers - With a handheld shower you're able to bring the water flow directly to you. This type of shower allows for any family member - no matter the size or age - to safely and easily shower.

Standard showerheads - Standard showerheads are far from basic. With many collections offering multi-function spray settings, it's easy to create a personalized showering experience.

Hang it up

The final step to a fabulous shower experience is to ensure you have a place nearby to hang a warm robe and towel. Adding a robe hook or towel bar just outside the shower is a simple solution that can also add a stylish accent to your bathroom. If you currently have a Moen faucet, be sure to select the matching Moen accessories to ensure complete coordination throughout your bath. Moen also offers several non-matching collections, such as the Parlor Collection, which coordinate with a variety of bath faucet styles.- The Moen Parlor Collection features a unique pullout robe hook, which allows each hook to be used traditionally, or extended to hang multiple items. And, once you've added new accessories, finish off the renovated space with a plush robe and matching towel set.

By following these simple and inexpensive fixes, your shower can become an everyday retreat for relaxation and enjoyment. For more information visit www.moen.com.
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(NC)-A little prep in the morning will a go a long way in creating a flavorful and nutritious family meal that cooks while you are at work. Start with spice-coated chicken and a healthy pantry staple pasta sauce. Let it simmer all day in the slow cooker. Finish it off with rich Greek yogurt and lime at dinner time. This dish can be served over quinoa or basmati rice. This traditionally rich butter chicken dish is slimmed down in sodium and fat while maintaining amazing aromas and flavours.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4-6 hours on HIGH or 8-10 hours on LOW

Serves: 6

Serving size: 250g


Calories per serving: 307


• 2 cups (500 mL) Healthy Choice Diced Tomato with Onion and Garlic pasta sauce

• 2 tsp. (10 mL) each: ground ginger, curry powder

• 1 tsp. (5 mL) each: ground cumin, cinnamon, coriander

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cup/375 mL)

• 1 ½ lb. (675g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into 2- inch (5 cm) pieces

• 2 tbsp. (30 mL) melted, unsalted butter

• 1 tbsp. (15 mL) lime juice

• ½ cup (125 mL) 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt, optional

• ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro, to garnish


• In small bowl combine all spices, set aside.

• Place onion in ceramic insert of slow cooker; add chicken; sprinkle with spices then top with melted butter and Healthy Choice Diced Tomato with Onion and Garlic pasta sauce.

• Stir, cover and cook on HIGH 4-6 hours or on LOW 8-10 hours.

• Stir in lime juice and yogurt (optional) before serving. Garnish with cilantro.

Tip: Make extra of the spice mixture and store for your next "better for you" Butter Chicken.

Visit Facebook.com/HealthyChoiceCanada for more recipes and cooking tips.


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(BPT) - Railing can upgrade any deck from drab to fab - adding style, as well as safety and support. In fact, it's often the one element that truly sets your outdoor living space apart from others in the neighborhood. Here are five steps to create the perfect perimeter for your deck.

1. Find ideas at your fingertips - From contemporary to classic, you can choose from a multitude of modular railing options in a variety of colors and materials to give your outdoor living space a dose of personality. Use the new Railing Configurator on the Trex Color Visualizer iPad app to experiment with more than 1,200 design combinations. Available for free in the Apple iTunes store, the app allows you to virtually mix and match posts, caps, rails and balusters, as well as change the backdrop to emulate your own outdoor living environment. Save images of your favorite designs and automatically generate a list of materials to make the purchase process easier.

2. Select low maintenance materials - When choosing railing, demand the same durability and high performance that you expect from your decking, so that you'll be able to spend more time relaxing on (rather than maintaining) your outdoor living space. Unlike wood, composite railing won't warp, rot or splinter and never needs sanding, staining or painting - even after years of exposure to the elements. In fact, it washes clean with only soap and water.- -

3. Preserve a picturesque view - Whether your deck looks out over a tranquil lake, a dramatic mountain range or just a meticulously landscaped backyard, the proper railing makes it possible to fully enjoy your vantage point. With its sleek and unobtrusive appearance, Trex Reveal Aluminum Railing maximizes scenic views by spanning long lengths for panoramic sightlines. Available in three neutral colors - charcoal black, bronze and classic white - Trex Reveal can be customized to suit the taste of any homeowner with two baluster options (square and round) and two post choices (aluminum and composite).

-"In addition to highlighting the beauty of your outdoor surroundings, aluminum railing offers unparalleled strength and features a powder coating that resists corrosion and color fading," says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex, the world's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing. "For ultimate peace of mind, Trex Reveal is also backed by a 25-year limited warranty." For more outdoor living tips and ideas, visit www.trex.com.

4. Look to regional style trends - While personal taste is the biggest influencer when selecting railing for an outdoor living space, many homeowners look to the architectural styles of their particular regions for inspiration. For instance, on the East Coast, traditional colonial style balusters and crown profile railings remain most popular. However, West Coast homeowners tend to prefer sleek and streamlined railing components - including handrails and bottom rails with more contemporary beveled shapes. To learn about trends specific to your area, flip through a locally published home improvement or home decor magazine.--

5. Lighten up - Enhance the beauty of your railing and lengthen the time you can spend enjoying your deck with outdoor lighting that may be installed on rails and post caps. Not only will lighting set the mood for evening cocktail parties and al fresco dinners, but it also will add safety and security. Consider LED dimmable options to maximize energy efficiency.
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(NC)-Minestrone is a thick Italian vegetable soup and is an easy way to feed a gang. Leftovers even taste better the next day. Vary the beans and pasta as desired.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

4 slices pancetta or bacon, diced 

2 tbsp olive oil (optional) 25mL

2 medium onions, diced 2

2 large carrots, coarsely chopped 2

2 celery stalks, sliced 2

2 garlic cloves, minced 2

10 cups chicken broth 2.5 L

1 can (28oz/796 mL) tomatoes 1

1 cup whole wheat macaroni or shells 250 mL

1 lb sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups/1.5 L)500 g

1 tsp Each dried thyme and basil leaves 5 mL

1 ½ tsp dried oregano 7 mL

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) mixed beans*, 1

drained and rinsed

4 cups torn fresh spinach leaves 1 L

1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional) 5 mL

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 250 mL


In large soup pot cook bacon until fat is rendered (if it is very lean add 1-2 tbsp (15-25 mL) oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to boil and then lower heat; simmer covered for 10-12 minutes or until vegetable are almost tender. Stir in tomatoes, (breaking up with a spoon) macaroni, mushrooms, herbs and beans. Cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until pasta and mushrooms are cooked. Taste and add hot sauce if desired. Just before serving stir in spinach leaves. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle generously on top.

Makes 10 Servings

*Mixed beans are a medley of kidney beans, chick peas, romano beans and black eye peas

Variation: Substitute stewed, herbed or diced tomatoes for whole tomatoes.

Tips: For easy preparation chop all vegetables in food processor. Make the soup a few days ahead and refrigerate covered or freeze but don't add spinach until it is reheated ready to serve, so that it keeps its colour.

Nutritional Information:Per Serving Calories: 224 Protein : 13.4 g Fat: 7.8 g Carbohydrates: 24.9 g Dietary Fibre: 5.3 g

For more delicious recipe ideas visit Mushrooms Canada at www.mushrooms.ca.

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(BPT) - It's the do-it-yourself dream: deciding on the perfect DIY project just as the weekend finally arrives. All the supplies have been purchased and you're ready to dive right in. However, the enthusiastic start of the project doesn't always end in completion.

"Knocking out a big home improvement or do-it-yourself project in one weekend can be a rewarding task, but it is also challenging and can be taxing on your knees, feet and back when standing in the same position for several hours," says Mark Clement, home improvement expert and co-host of the national radio show MyFixitUpLife.

Whether you are woodworking at your workbench or staining a piece of furniture in the garage, Clement offers these tips to make the most of your DIY weekend projects while also feeling comfortable enough to successfully finish them:

Focus on form and technique. When learning a new technique, go slowly, step by step, until you've mastered it. Allow your body to become accustomed to the various motions required. Moving efficiently is one of the best ways to avoid injury.

Stay hydrated. Make it a priority to drink at least 125 ounces of cold water each day. Staying hydrated is important when exerting DIY energy, especially in the summer heat. So whether you're digging up the garden, roofing the shed, or wrenching in a no-AC garage, keep a water bottle or sports drink close by.

Create a comfortable workspace. Be conscious of how long you are standing in the same spot working on your project and how your back feels. To relieve pressure and soreness on feet, knees and back, use a durable mat like the Stanley Utility Mat that is engineered with an optimal balance of cushion and support.

Dress appropriately. Flip-flops and sandals do not offer the balance, protection and support that a sturdy closed-toe shoe or work boot does while tackling home improvement projects. Even if you have the grace of a ballerina in the workshop or yard, it is remarkably easy to drop things on your feet and it only takes a small distraction to create a big problem.

Know your limits. When you only have a weekend to finish a big project, you might be feeling the pressure. Before the project even starts, accept that it may not all go according to plan. Plan for a few different scenarios and remember that you can always ask for help.

Have a first aid kit. Even if you are being extremely cautious, accidents can happen and it's best to be prepared. Keep a first aid kit with all the essentials (antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn cream, etc.) near you at all times and seek professional medical help if necessary.

For more information about the Stanley Utility Mat, visit homedepot.com and to tune into MyFixitUpLife visit http://myfixituplife.com/DIY/.
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If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.

This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.

If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.

Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen's image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.

Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.

by: Heather Mills 
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Here is the honest truth: most people get into Internet Marketing because they are convinced it is an easy way to earn quick money. Their approach is to make a fast website, put up some advertising and a few affiliate links, then sit back and watch while they earn real cash. There are a large amount of individuals who do this and also earn lots of money on the internet. But what if you want more than some extra or even quick cash? Can Internet Marketing really be leveraged to produce a worthwhile and long term career?

The quick and dirty answer is that yes, you are able to make Internet Marketing your long term and sustainable career. You only need to take on the project properly. The procedures and programs you use to build something to earn fast money are not all that different than the methods and systems you will use to build long term profits. So what would you do if you need to develop a sustainable career on the internet?

It is very important that the first thing you do, in order to earn long term money online, is accept the fact that you are going to have to do real work. You will have to do actual and real work on a daily basis. You will have days when you feel fantastic about what you do and days when you wish you could find something else to take on. This means it's just about like every other occupation out there. If you want to produce lasting cash flow by working a lot right now and not at all later on then you are going to be in for a rude awakening. So be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

There are a few ventures that lend themselves much better to a long term career than others. Affiliate marketing, to use one example, is a great job for someone who wants to earn money on a part time basis or to supplement your already existent income. Is it truly possible to earn a full time income in this manner? You could if you pick out only the right products and then work like crazy to promote them. A far better approach, nevertheless, is to create your own products or websites and then promote those. This gives you full control over the projects you take on and how you accomplish them. And you will end up more likely to stick with it in the long run. If you want to give a service on the web, this works much the same way. Writers, for example, need to create websites for themselves and create portfolios that they can point to as examples of their work.

Finally, perhaps the most significant thing that you need to recognize is that, when you want to build a long term and reliable income on the internet, you need to truly dedicate yourself to your task. You might have fun and feel rewarded by your efforts, but first you should tell yourself "yes, I really want to do this." Making a half-hearted effort is not about to get you anywhere.

by: Tanaka Ara

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(BPT) - It's a sobering truth of real estate that sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers - and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.

Here are five upgrades you can make for under $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer's must-see list.

 1. Upgrade your entryway - Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report.

Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.

2. Increase natural light - More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with adding a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star qualified, solar powered no-leak fresh-air skylight, like those from Velux America. Professional installation costs nationally ranges from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

The low installation cost will leave you plenty of budget to enhance the skylight upgrade even further with energy efficiency-boosting solar-powered blinds. The skylight and blinds are operated by remote control and the blinds are available in designer colors and patterns to enhance your décor. The products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit to further reduce the cost of the improvement.

The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening this much-used workspace. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.

3. Beautify a master bathroom - Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home's appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels.

If you've already done all that, take a look at the floor or countertops - two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don't make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom's look and usability.

4. Heat things up in the kitchen - Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you've already done the obvious - like repainting and decluttering - it's time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers.

Just as in the bathroom, swapping old faucets and cabinet hardware with new designer options can enhance the appeal of a kitchen. Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don't necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.

5. Lavish landscaping - No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer's first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings.

With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home's energy efficiency in summer. Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home's curb appeal.

Whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this season.
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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

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In a market where sellers are in competition to make the most out of their largest investment, improving your home's first impression is one of the best ways to set it apart from the rest of the pack.

When prospective buyers or renters drive through your neighbourhood, what do they see? This is a really important question that you need to answer because it will help understand what your buyer is going to be looking for in a new home. Once you've answered this, ask yourself objectively if the front of your home is in keeping with the rest of the houses on your block. The first impression is critical in setting the mood for prospective agents and buyers. If your home's exterior looks like it needs work, then people immediately assume that it's a 'fixer-upper'. The opposite is true if your front yard is manicured, the roof is in good shape and the driveway is in good condition. Having a potential buyer walk into your front door in a positive mode can translate into big dollars for you.

Both Virginia Tech and the University of Guelph did studies in 2011 that measured the effect of landscaping on property values, and they both came to the same conclusion. To improve curb appeal, basic landscaping increased the home's value by 5%, but more extensive landscaping including decks and patios increased the homes value up to 15%.

So where do you spend the money?

Set your budget and be realistic about what you're trying to accomplish with it. Keep in mind that you are trying to create an excellent first impression to attract potential buyers. This isn't the opportunity for you to realize your landscaping dreams. Consider a new paint job using a colour scheme that highlights the character of your home. Install a new front door or at least update your door's hardware. Even something as simple as full and healthy planters can make a favourable impact.

One of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal is to have a clean and tidy front yard with a manicured lawn. Maybe this is the opportunity to invest in some new tools to help do the job properly. The best part about this type of investment is that not only will your plants and lawn look better with edging, pruning and cutting, you also get to take your new tools with you once you've sold your home.

The technology for landscaping tools has made the purchasing task much easier as well. Now you can get a hedge trimmer, string trimmer or sweeper & vac all in one system. With the Black & Decker 36V Lithium system, for example, you can use the same battery and charger for all three of those tools. A quick prune of the shrubs with the hedge trimmer, followed by a 'one-around' with the string trimmer and then tidying up with the sweeper will help you to maintain the front yard as short as 10 minutes per day.

The goal is to create an emotional connection at the first glance of any prospective buyer, so before you put that sign on the lawn, be sure to spend enough time at the curb.

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Is your living space a place for show, only utilized when you are entertaining? Living rooms, as their title suggests, should not only reflect who you are towards the outdoors world, but they should also be lived in. Here are some recommendations for getting your living space warm and inviting for visitors as well as functional and comfy for household members.

In case your living space is large, divide it into smaller locations through the positioning of furnishings. You would like the "conversation pit" to become cozy - a couch and loveseat and a couple of chairs close to a large cocktail table will seat many people, yet they'll all have the ability to hear what the others are saying. A great place for household meetings as well as for entertaining. Make certain all seats are within reach of a table - someplace to arrange those drinks and chips!

Face the couch to an architectural focal level, something like a fireplace or a large window that looks out to your garden or even the city lights. If you don't have an architectural component to work with, produce one by hanging large photos or a mural on a wall. This allows people to admire the artwork and it's safer than hanging something large over the seating (especially in locations susceptible to earthquakes!). Hang cloth wall hangings or little photos on the wall behind the couch. Don't, however, hang a mirror where people will see their reflection all of the time. Not everyone is thrilled by his or her picture.

If you divide your living space in two or 3 seating and/or eating locations, use rugs to outline the talking space, another beneath the eating table, and another space to exhibit the Buddha you brought back from Thailand, or a wall of bookcases that not only maintain your books but additionally display your assortment of antique toys. Area rugs work well, more than waxed hardwood floors or neutral, wall-to-wall Berber-style carpeting.

An ornamental space divider, like Japanese shoji screens, can be utilized to separate a large space right into a living space and a Tv space. In a smaller place, face the couch to a wall unit that holds the television - it's certain to turn out to be a preferred gathering spot for the household.

The days of covering the "good" living space furnishings with plastic are over! Leather or even the new microfiber fabrics are simple to clean, look great, and can survive visitors, children, and pets. If the furnishings are in neutral colors, add colorful ornamental pillows. Remember to keep a couple of throw blankets close to stay cozy on cool nights.

In case your living space walls are painted in mild neutral shades, you'll have the ability to change the furnishings and ornamental touches easily. Other ways to change the look of one's living space are by including tall plants or a silk tree, a permanent flower assortment in a basket or tall vase, and even a fountain or little pond in a sufficiently large area.

Don't overlook lighting! Floor lamps, especially in darkish corners, can brighten large locations, while desk lamps can provide good light for the preferred reading/knitting chair. An assortment of candles on the mantelpiece or a desk adds ambiance to your living space. Now go ahead, live inside your living space.

by: Amy Wells 
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(NC)-Managing your finances has its challenges - just like managing a successful business. Managing money as a couple? No difference. Whether you're married, engaged or living together, differences of opinion when it comes to the family finances are bound to arise. However, with some mutual planning, communication and support, couples can overcome almost any money obstacle that falls their way.

"Picture your family finances as you would business finances, and like any business, it needs a plan to succeed," says Sandy Cimoroni, President, TD Mutual Funds and head of TD's Women Investor Strategy. She recommends a fresh approach is to tackle family finances together, as co-CFOs.

CFOs are a company's Chief Financial Officer - they invest the company's money, monitor the cash flow, and handle long term financial planning. "By following this approach, you can work together to manage the family finances: determine your overall goals and objectives, then assign responsibilities for managing the day-to-day finances and monitoring progress towards reaching long-term goals."

Whether you're buying a home or renovating your current one, planning a career change, saving for a child's education or investing for your retirement, it's important to recognize the impact that each of these goals has on your overall financial plan. A key ingredient for success is balance - it may be a good idea for one person to pay all the bills, but it's important that both people are informed about where the money goes each month.

Similarly, one CFO may take the lead on investments, but it's important that the investment strategy reflect the long-term goals of each partner, and that each partner have an understanding of how they are investing to achieve their goal. It's essential to find ways to be equally engaged in all money decisions: decide together what is mine, yours and ours.

"Once you have a plan, the everyday financial decisions are understood and endorsed by each partner. This can help remove stress around money management and help provide confidence about your current and long-term financial health," Cimoroni says.

One way to feel informed and in control is to consult an expert, something more and more couples are doing together. From gaining financial education to investment knowledge, advisors help couples work together - and then take their financial plans to new levels of success.

"At the end of the day, working together on finances can be a positive experience," Cimoroni adds. "It's not just about communication. It's about creating and executing your plan, and then reaping the rewards."

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(NC) Teaching kids about money is as important as teaching them to read and write. But how can parents start early to develop their children's financial know-how?

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) suggests that as soon as kids can count, parents can introduce the basics about money, such as the value of different bills and coins, where money comes from, and how to use jars for savings and spending. As kids grow older, parents can add concepts like income, expenses, budgeting, and defining financial goals, for example, saving for a special purchase.

Talking about money when children are present allows them to become familiar with financial terms, and helps them understand household expenses that are part of the family budget and the difference between needs and wants. Lessons they'll need as adults to make smart financial decisions.

The Manitoba Securities Commission's Make it Count resource helps teach these basic lessons. FCAC's life event, Teaching Children about Money, shows parents how to provide basic money management skills as children grow. An interactive online resource developed by FCAC in collaboration with the British Columbia Securities Commission. The city teaches young people financial skills that will serve them throughout their lives. It can be taught in a classroom or used individually. All these resources can be found through itpaystoknow.gc.ca.

November is Financial Literacy Month and presents opportunities for Canadians of all ages to enhance their financial knowledge. Organizations across the country will host events that help build money management skills and knowledge. You can find events in your area on the calendar of events at itpaystoknow.gc.ca/flm.

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(NC) With recent statistics suggesting that more Canadians are in debt and taking longer to pay it off, saving for the future might seem next to impossible. But personal finance experts say that if you have the right support and resources, digging yourself out of the red and saving for the future might not be as difficult as you think.

"There is a huge misconception out there that working with a financial advisor is only for those who have a lot of money," says Wade Stayzer, the vice president of retail and investment services at Meridian, Ontario's largest credit union. "But the reality is that working with a trusted financial advisor is the first step to getting your finances on track - no matter what your bank balance looks like."

A trusted financial advisor can coach you on ways to get out of debt sooner and minimize the amount of interest you're paying on your current debt. And very importantly, they can help you create a realistic budget to ensure you're living well within your means. They can also help you put a plan in place to save for big ticket items like a first home or renovations, as well as save for the future.

Meridian offers tips to help you tackle your debt and save for your financial future.

  • Create a personalized financial plan: Work with a trusted financial advisor to create a plan. Be honest with your advisor and give them the full picture, making sure to include everything, such as daycare and commuting costs. It's important to meet with them at least once a year to re-evaluate your plan and make any adjustments necessary to keep you on track to reaching your financial goals.
  • Be strategic: Pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum on the rest of your debts. Once that first debt is paid off, concentrate your efforts and funds in paying the next debt with the highest interest rate.
  • Invest automatically: Saving for the future today isn't difficult if you put your savings on auto pilot. Many financial institutions provide pre-authorized contribution (PAC) plans, which automatically transfer funds from your chequing account into your savings investments on regular intervals. PACs are a great tool for contributing to RSPs and if you coordinate the withdrawals to align with your payday, the money won't even be missed.
  • Make financial resolutions: Be more proactive about your personal finances and start getting organized for the new year now. Determine what your goals are and work with your trusted financial advisor now to build a plan that will set you up for financial success next year.
  • Take advantage of other resources: You can get some great budgeting advice from a variety of sources including software programs that help you track your day-to-day spending.

"Many financial institutions like Meridian," says Stayzer, "also offer online household budget calculators that you can use to keep track of your expenses."

More information is available online at meridiancu.ca.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

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We spend hours in the kitchen socializing, keeping the family organized, and, of course, cooking and eating. As the center of the home's activities, the kitchen should be as fun as it is functional. With just a few supplies and a free weekend, you can cook up a whole new look for your kitchen. 
Warm up the walls
Changing the color and texture of walls is an easy way to add some spice to any kitchen. Paint the walls a deep red or blue for a dramatic look, or make your space feel light and airy with a coat of sunny yellow or subtle taupe. Feel free to experiment with decorative painting techniques, such as stripes, geometric patterns or textured finishes.
After you've freshened up the color and texture of your walls, express your personal style through a few new accessories. An antique clock, a picture collage or shelves with colorful canisters are decorative, as well as functional.
Change up the cabinets
Liven up basic cupboards by switching the hardware - it's a simple way to give your existing cabinets a whole new look. Use crystal knobs for a vintage touch, or add stainless steel handles for an ultra-modern, sleek appearance.
And, don't forget about the functional aspect of your cupboards - install shelf liner to ensure cabinets stay clean and well-maintained. Shelf liner protects cabinet shelves and drawers from wear and tear, prevents scratches and keeps spills or drips from damp dishes from causing damage to surfaces.
"I recommend using shelf liner in any kitchen renovation project," says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford television series. "It's simple for any homeowner to install and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or thrown in the washing machine. My favorite is Easy Liner from Duck brand - it offers an array of non-adhesive and adhesive shelf liners that are stylish and practical for use in any kitchen."
Cook%20up%20a%20whole%20new%20look%20for%20your%20kitchenThe most popular variety, Smooth Top Easy Liner has a smooth surface that catches messes and spills as they happen, making clean-up a breeze, while the non-slip, gripped underside keeps the liner firmly in place.
Transform your table
Create a delightful dining space with a few changes to your kitchen table. Use a staple gun and a bright fabric to recover your chairs, making items you already own look like new additions to your home. You can even create a new tablecloth using the leftover fabric. Then, design your very own placemats using Smooth Top Easy Liner for a decorative touch that's easy to wipe clean as well as replace. 
Make sure to add a chic centerpiece - a vase of fresh flowers, a glass bowl filled with fruit or a collection of candlesticks - to transform your existing tabletop and create a focal point for guests as they enter the room.
Brighten the basics
Adding color from floor to ceiling is a great way to improve the overall feel of your kitchen. To start, try adding accessories to areas of your kitchen that feel blase. Bring in color at the highest points of the kitchen by adding faux plants or interesting knickknacks to the space above cabinets. Then, look low and consider the floor. Placing a colorful area rug beneath the table can bring additional interest and color to the kitchen, while also protecting the floor against scratches.
Window treatments are another effective, eye-catching way to make any kitchen pop, whether you're adding new valances, cornices or even long panels. When choosing fabrics, make a statement with bright colors, or choose an unexpected, bold pattern for a contemporary approach. Sophisticated stripes, pretty plaids or fun florals are also a nice choice for kitchens. Follow these tips to make your kitchen as chic as your dinner is delicious - you'll create a flavorful design that will look good enough to eat.
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While online investing offers a level playing field to women and men, there are differences between how the genders tackle their investments. The largest motivator driving women to become more involved in managing their investments is a life event. For men, it's knowing how much money they have now, compared to what they will need in the future.

"Women tell us their engagement is rooted in the future use of the investment such as saving for a child's education; men on the other hand are more driven by achieving the target amount they have set for themselves," said Michael MacDonald, vice-president of strategy at RBC Direct Investing. "The key motivator for each gender differs, but both recognize the importance of being knowledgeable and involved."

Confidence also continues to be a divergent factor between the sexes. Men are more likely than women to agree that they are good investors. MacDonald adds that there are many resources available to build that knowledge and gain confidence. For example, RBC Direct Investing offers to its online investors:

• Practice Accounts, a no-risk way to test investing strategies and develop investing skills.

• Portfolio tools, to help online investors build their portfolios and chart their progress.

More information is available online at www.rbcdirectinvesting.com.RBC is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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Your home is your paradise, and if you are planning to renovate your home, go for the changes that not only catch your eye, but that they are also comfortable for you and your family. Remodeling is associated with adjustments in every nook and cranny of the home. If you are going to change the flooring of your home, there are some tips for flooring different parts of your house.

Bedroom flooring:

There are plenty of options when it comes to flooring in your bedroom. Being the most private and personalized part of your home, your bedroom is the place which uses a big part of your budget whenever you are remodeling your home; you can use carpet, tile, hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate. Play with different materials in different rooms; you can opt for striped light and dark shades in your boy's room so that if your son is going to create mess ( which is unavoidable), the flooring can withstand the burden, and also the flooring can bear heavy traffic of the folks coming in the bedroom. For more powerful scratch and water resistant flooring, you can choose laminate.

Living room flooring:

Most of the traffic in a home happens in the living room, with people coming in and out of the house. It is highly recommended that the flooring should be strong enough that it can endure all such wear and tear done with your furniture, or to the increasing and decreasing ratio of visitors. For this purpose you can opt for hardwood flooring. Being classy and sophisticated in look it is the perfect choice for your living room whenever you are remodeling your home.

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 the best choice to protect against potential water damage. Make sure when you choose your floor to order a little extra of the product, in the event that you drop something like a pot on your floor. If the flooring material is damaged, you will be sure to have enough to repair the floor because often, floor manufacturers have high turnover of their products, to insure a continual buying cycle. Most flooring contractors add 5-10% additional square footage of the flooring product to their purchase order to insure they have enough for the project and to provide the client with a little extra flooring for future use.
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When mid-morning or afternoon hunger hits, that dreaded energy drain can make us reach for a little boost. It is tempting to grab indulgent snack foods, so it's wise to plan out well-portioned, healthy snacks ahead of time.

These perfect portion ideas from the Almond Board of California make smart snacking decisions easy:

• A nutritious snack is packed with nutrients and has fewer than 200 calories.

• Energy-boosting snacks should contain protein, fibre and very little added sugar.

• A perfect portion of almonds is one ounce (28g) or 23 almonds - about a handful - and contains 3.5 grams of fibre and 6 grams of protein.

• One tablespoon (15 mL) of almond butter has about 100 calories, 1 gram of fibre and 2 grams of protein to help keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Try these power-pairings for the ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up:

• Whole-grain bread or apple slices with almond butter;

• A small handful of whole natural almonds and dried fruit;

• Sliced turkey with mustard;

• Low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and granola;

• Air-popped vegetable chips or soy chips and hummus;

• Handful of whole natural almonds and an ounce of cheese;

• An ounce each of dark chocolate and almonds.

Or, assemble this bite-sized snack. With only three ingredients, it is simple to prepare, plus the 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fibre will provide you with energy during those mid-morning or afternoon slumps.

Dried Figs Stuffed with Almonds and Cream Cheese

Makes 2 cups


½ cup (125 mL) dried black or golden figs

¼ cup (50 mL) reduced-fat cream cheese¼ cup (50 mL) whole natural almonds


Make a lengthwise slit in each fig, not cutting all the way through. Spread a teaspoon of cream cheese inside each hole, and stuff with one or two almonds. Serve.

More information is available online at AlmondBoard.com.

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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.
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(NC)-It is always important to employ fire safety procedures in the house, but it is especially important as warmer temperatures return.

"Your home is a major investment, both financially and emotionally," says Royal LePage broker Steve Gray. "That's why it's crucial that you take measures to fireproof it."

Gray recommends the following five tips for ensuring the safety of your family and material possessions:

1. Avoid plugging too many electrical appliances into one outlet. Overloaded outlets can cause house fires. In fact, in the United States, an estimated 5,300 residential fires annually are caused by overloaded outlets.

2. Sleep with bedroom doors closed. A bedroom window can serve as a fire escape route. As such, keeping the doors closed to sleeping areas to isolate smoke and heat will provide more time to escape.

3. Routinely check electrical appliances for irregularities. Be sure to replace or repair any malfunctioning appliances. Whether gas or electric, appliances need a careful watch.

4. Use a chimney sweep service at least once per year. In doing so, you remove soot, blockages and any accumulating creosote, thereby reducing the potential for a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney over time.

5. Remove combustible and flammable materials from your attic. During the summer, your attic can be warmer than the rest of your home. The heat can easily increase the temperature of items stored there. Relocate these items to a cooler place. If you take some simple fire safety measures around the home, you can sleep soundly, knowing you've done your due diligence.

More information is available online at www.royallepage.ca. www.newscanada.com

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(NC)-Saving and investing for retirement is important. But how and when to spend what you have worked so hard to accumulate is just as important, if not more so. Retirement planning expert Debbie Ammeter of Investors Group suggests that there are several key considerations:

Retirement date - If you decide to retire before age 65, each extra year will be one less year of saving and investing. If you retire after 65, you can continue the tax-saving, income-building advantages of your RRSP until the end of the year in which you turn 71.

Retirement lifestyle - You may decide to keep working full-time or part-time, perhaps start a business. If so, you can afford to save less in advance because even a modest amount of extra employment income can go a long way.

Retirement income - Include all income -ranging from your personal savings, company pensions, investments held within RRSPs or TFSAs and non-registered investments to government sources including the Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) and Old Age Security. Retirement paycheque - Identify your continuing costs and expenses. Take inflation into account and the happy fact that you could need that income for 40 plus years. Establish a mix of investments that will bridge the gap and deliver the cash flow you will need without depleting your underlying assets.

Taxes - Minimize taxes with a withdrawal plan for your registered and other income-producing investments that takes full advantage of all the tax benefits available to you, such as age and pension income credits, while avoiding OAS clawbacks.

More information on this topic is available from the Investors Group, or contact a financial advisor to get specific advice about your circumstances.

Editor Note: This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Quebec-a Financial Services Firm), presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments.

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