Dried Fruit & Nut Chocolate Drops
Dried Fruit & Nut Chocolate Drops
- 2 1/2 c. semisweet/ bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, shredded
- 1 tsp. orange zest
- 3/4 c. mixed nuts (e.g. walnuts, pistachios, almonds), chopped
- 3/4 c. mixed dried fruits (e.g. cranberries, cherries, apricots), chopped
- Coarse salt, fleur de sel or coarse Himalayan pink salt (optional)
1. Lightly toast the nuts in a skillet or in a pre-heated oven (350 °F) for about 6-8 minutes, or until just fragrant. Cool them completely.
2. Place 2 cups chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals. When the chocolate is almost melted, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate and gently stir until all the chocolate is melted.
3. Gently stir in the crystallized ginger and orange zest.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then drop melted chocolate mixture onto the sheet, one tablespoon at a time.
5. Quickly sprinkle chopped nuts and fruit over each chocolate drop, ensuring they stick to melted chocolate base. Sprinkle salt over each drop if desired.
6. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Home Safe Home
Do you have small children, or will you be playing host to guests with a child or children this holiday season? If so, consider the tips below to make your home a safer place both for the kids who live there and those who are just visiting.
- Cover electrical outlets with safety caps, or, safer still, replace regular covers with sliding ones, which automatically slide closed when plugs are removed; this way, you needn't worry about children pulling safety caps out or remembering to re-insert them when finished using an outlet. Unplug appliances when they're not being used and keep electrical cords wound up and out of kids' reach.
- If they don't have them already, any electrical outlets that are near sources of water should be outfit with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which stop the flow of electricity in the event an appliance should fall into the water. And speaking of water, anti-scalding devices should be installed on all faucets and showerheads.
- Install safety gates at the top and foot of stairs and in the doorways of rooms that pose hazards for children (e.g. the kitchen). Keep in mind that tension-mounted gates are not as secure as those that affix to walls with hardware; children may use gates, as they use furniture, to pull themselves up, making pressure-mounted gates especially dangerous for stairs. Avoid accordion-style gates – they can ensnare little limbs and heads.
- Take precautions against poisonings. Amongst other items, cleaning products, cosmetics, medications and vitamins, and even some indoor houseplants can be toxic to children. Make sure they are inaccessible by keeping them high enough to be out of reach, or storing them in drawers or cupboards that can be locked or latched.
- Inexpensive and available in various sizes, window stops or guards should be installed in order to prevent falls. Easily screwed into the sides of window frames, stops and guards should have easy-release mechanisms allowing older children or adults to quickly open them in case of fire. Additionally, make sure that window coverings don't have cords that could pose a strangulation hazard.
- Install childproof safety latches on all cupboards and drawers to keep children away from hazardous items and substances, as well as on dishwashers, chest freezers, mini-fridges and any other airtight spaces where a child could become trapped. Consider outfitting toilets with lid locks too.
- Use anchors and brackets to secure heavy furniture such as bookshelves, televisions, and dressers so they don't topple over should children attempt to pull themselves up on such items. Equip furniture corners and edges with bumpers to prevent injury in the event of falls. Be conscientious about where your furniture is situated – you don't want it placed where children could use it to get a leg up to where they shouldn't be.
- If decorating a Christmas tree, avoid hanging breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on the lower branches, where small children can grab them.
When it comes to selling a property, dark and dreary simply won't do – few things are a bigger turn-off for buyers. Here are a handful of tips to help you lighten and brighten your home before listing it.
- First and most obviously, give your home a fresh coat of paint in a light color – dark color absorbs light. Neutral hues, like shades of white or beige are the best bet, as they're the least off-putting to the greatest number of people. Keep in mind that while a matte finish will absorb light, a glossy finish will reflect it.
- Maximize natural light. Keep doors open inside the home so light travels farther throughout the space. Make sure your windows are sparkling clean so that dirt isn't filtering out valuable sunlight. Consider swapping out dark, heavy curtains for something more gauzy; whatever kind of window coverings you have, make sure they are all wide open during showings of your home.
- Amp up the artificial light. Outfit fixtures with the brightest bulbs that can safely be used in them. Use uplighting (e.g. sconces, torches, floor lamps) to wash your walls and ceilings with light that will bounce back into the room – a great way to improve overall brightness. Add task lighting via table lamps and under-cabinet lights, for example.
- Strategically placed mirrors are an inexpensive, easy way to amplify natural and artificial light, while making rooms seem bigger. Hung opposite or perpendicular to windows, they can reflect attractive views in addition to light. Note that convex mirrors distribute light over a larger area than flat mirrors do, as they bounce light back in many different directions.
"Retire" To Your First Home
Mention an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) and most young peoples' eyes glaze over, as retirement savings are usually the last thing they would consider putting money aside for early in their working lives. But if you know of someone who will eventually be in the market for a first home, you'll want to pass this article onto them as it highlights how a "retirement" vehicle can double as valuable down-payment assistance when the buyer needs it most.
Under the Home Buyers' Plan, a couple may withdraw up to $25,000 each from their RRSPs for a downpayment on their first home, with the stipulation that they repay the money back into their RRSPs over the subsequent 15 years. The RRSP withdrawal money provides a higher down-payment, allowing the couple to qualify for their first home sooner, have lower mortgage payments and possibly even avoid paying CMHC mortgage insurance fees if their down-payment is large enough. First-time buyers may also qualify for a government "First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit" and "Land Transfer Tax Rebate".
First-time homeowners would be wise to place "learn about first-time buyer benefits" high on their list of New Year's resolutions! Remember, there's never any obligation for calling with your questions!
The Whole Nine Yards
The idyllic image most people have of a house includes a big backyard. But how big a yard do – or don't – you need? The following questions will get you thinking about your answer.
- Do you have, or are you planning to have kids? What about pets? Big backyards can accommodate entertainment like playground equipment, pools and trampolines and make for an ideal spot to let your dog run around. But you may not need a big yard if your home is of walking distance to parks, playgrounds and other recreational facilities, where your kids – and you – have greater opportunity to socialize.
- Do you have a green thumb? Big yards obviously offer more room for gardening and landscaping, as well as outdoor storage space for tools and supplies. But green thumbs can be accommodated in small yards, too, thanks to the growing trends of container and vertical gardening – so think twice before writing off that otherwise perfect house with the modest yard.
- Do you like to entertain? If so, your ideal backyard may include features like a deck, room for a barbeque, outdoor furniture, fire pit, pool, hot tub, or even an outdoor kitchen! To meet these needs, you'll want a generously sized yard.
- How much time do you have for maintenance? If the answer's "not much", a small yard may be just the ticket. But a big yard needn't scare you away from an otherwise great house; with some smart planning – planting native species; including more "hardscape" elements like rocks and paving stones – you can have a large and lowmaintenance yard.
Check out our clients' lovely home! We have listed a new property at 306 17727 58 AVE in Surrey.
SHANNON GATE! This wonderful TOP FLOOR South Facing Condo is a MUST SEE!! 2 Bedrooms! 1119 Sq.Ft! Love OPEN PLAN with spacious Kitchen with Eat-In Area! Open to the Dining Room - making it perfect for entertaining! Living Room with Gas Fireplace & Walk-out to Balcony! Both bedrooms are a good size! Master boasts a Double Shower in the Ensuite! 2 Full size Bathrooms! Plus a good sized Laundry Room! Situated in a great complex ... walking distance to everything!! Maintenance includes Radiant In Floor HEAT & Gas Fireplace!! Don't wait ... This a MUST SEE! BE FAST ON THIS ONE!!
Engaging The Senses
They may be called viewings or showings, but that doesn't mean you can't enlist your other senses, in addition to sight, to help you sniff out the right home when visiting potential properties.
- Smell. Odors caused by pets, smoking, cooking, or trash are always off-putting, but may or may not be difficult to get rid of. Musty odors, however, may be bigger cause for concern: where there's a musty odor, there may be mold, and where there's mold, there may be a water problem. Whatever strange or offending odor you smell when you walk into a home, make sure you determine its source in order to ensure it's not symptomatic of a serious problem.
- Hearing. Dripping faucets, squeaking doors, running toilets, and rattling appliances might signal a home that hasn't been well maintained. What about traffic noise? Can you hear music pumping from the corner bar? Can you tell what TV show the neighbors are watching? Is there a train that passes through the area? Be sure to revisit any home you're considering at different times of the day and week. While things might be quiet on a weekday afternoon, things might sound distinctly different during the morning commute or on a Saturday night.
- Touch. Your sense of touch is handy in determining whether a home might have water problems. Note whether hardwood feels soft or springy underfoot. Do carpets feel damp? Press your foot down on the flooring around the base of toilets, sinks, fridges, and washing machines to see if there is any give. Feel discolored spots on the walls – are they damp or soft to the touch? Press a finger into the wood around windows; if it's soft, there's rot.
We are thrilled to say we have just SOLD a property at 215 2628 MAPLE ST in Port Coquitlam.
VILLAGIO II! This 2 bedroom corner unit is a MUST SEE! OPEN PLAN DESIGN with 9 ft Ceilings! A definite 10!! Lots of Upgrades including fabulous wainscoting in Great Room! Incredible Open Plan Kitchen with Breakfast Bar and lots of cabinetry & granite! Open to Dining... making it PERFECT for entertaining! The Kitchen also has a built-in Desk - perfect for your home office! The Master is spacious with lots of windows plus a huge walk in plus extra closet!! WOW!! There's also a spacious ensuite with Oversized Shower & His & Her Sinks! 2nd Bedroom is super spacious... with access to a 4pce Bathroom!! Situated in a great corner in this fabulous Complex! BONUS 2 Parking Spaces!! Walking distance to shops, amenities, trails & West Coast Express! BE SURE THIS IS ON YOUR LIST! You'll LOVE IT!!
A New Home For The Holidays?
There's no doubt that on a personal level, many of us are immersed in one of the busiest times of the year. So that means real estate plans should be put on the back burner, right? Not so fast…
The "typical" seasons to buy and sell real estate are when the weather is good and when families with children can schedule moves with the least impact on the school year. So why list now? There could be a host of reasons, from personal to professional, but whatever the reason, homebuyers should recognize that a seller who lists at this time of year is often more motivated to sell than one who lists during the more traditional selling seasons.
Because there is less activity in the market at this time of year, it only stands to reason that from a seller's perspective, the advantage lies in less competition from other properties for sale, while the advantage from a buyer's perspective could be recognizing that the seller might be more motivated to compromise.
Lenders, agents and other real estate servicers may also have more time to spend with buyers and sellers now, as opposed to the frantic spring season where the phone never stops ringing.
Finally, while moving in the winter may not necessarily be your number one choice, imagine how good you'll feel when you're all settled in next spring, knowing you captured not only the home of your dreams, but a great 2013 mortgage interest rate too!
We are thrilled to say we have just SOLD a property at 103 20200 54a AVE in Langley.
Move in ready. Shows like a show home. Spacious ground floor updated condo. Perfect for someone who has a pet. 2 bedrooms separated by living area. Newer tiles, laminate, crown mouldings, faucets, paint, and breakfast bar. Gas fireplace. Large covered deck. In-suite laundry with lots of storage. Walk to everything from this amazing convenient location. This unit is an absolute pleasure to show.
Market Cool, But Stable
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board's Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) recorded 986 property sales this past November, a nine percent increase compared to sales from November 2012, although a 21 percent decrease compared to October 2013 sales.
Month-over-month, while the Board also received 24 percent fewer new listings – 1,774 in November 2013 compared to 2,336 in October – it saw an improvement over November 2012's new listings total of 1,723.
Ron Todson, President of the Board says, "We typically see a slowdown just before the holidays and this year it started a little sooner reflecting what we're seeing in our overall economy."
"Similar to last November, sales are hovering at about 14 percent off normal levels, but so are new listings. They're down about seven percent compared to the 10-year average, so what we're seeing is a slower but steady market keeping home prices in check and the average number of days to sale stable."
Benchmark prices remained steady in November, showing just nominal year-over-year increases or singledigit decreases. The benchmark price for single-family detached homes increased by one percent in one year to $550,300 in November 2013, while the November 2013 benchmark price for townhouses was $292,400 and the benchmark price of apartments in the Fraser Valley area was $196,200.
Wondering what your home is worth in today's market? Please call today for a no-obligation real estate review!