Category Archives: Interestingness


Fave Five Pins This Week

Ahh, summer….

Days are longer, sun is shining and, well, people are -spending- (err, wasting?) less time browsing social networks.  And while spending time with actual people is much more important than flipping through house photos online, we know you’re wondering if you’re missing some hot new idea on Pinterest.  Have no fear… I’ve got your back.  I’ve rounded up my 5 favorite Pins from this week.  Check them out!

1. Gorgeous Space-Saving Kitchen

We’re gaga over this space.  The white cabinets are crisp and elegant while the floors have a rustic/organic feel… and all of that storage!

 

 

2. Backyard Bliss

Go ahead… leave your lights up year round!  This space is beyond magical.

 

3. Sophisticated wall treatment.

What’s not to love about this stunning wall treatment?  The gloss on matte effect is understated yet dramatic.  Here’s hoping we get to try this effect in one of our client’s homes very soon!

 

4. The Perfect Grout Color! Finally…

I’m generally good at choosing colors & finishes but grout color ALWAYS stumps me! That is, it used to stump me…. Thank you Pinterest!

5. Construction Party!

Not design related, but completely adorable and absolutely necessary.

What do you think?  Did you see anything on Pinterest this week that is a must see??  Send it my way! I love a great Pin.

 

Insulation 101: What Every Home Owner Should Know

A great insulation job on one of our job sites.

A great insulation job on one of our job sites.

With the arrival of winter, you may be more concerned with your Christmas list than your R-Value but you shouldn’t be.  If your home is inadequately or improperly insulated, you could literally be throwing away hundreds of dollars that could be much better spent Christmas shopping- or maybe on a vacation down South!!  This month’s column covers what you need to know about insulation. Whether your home is old or new, every homeowner should have a basic understanding of what is inside their walls.

1.     Batt Insulation:  A very common insulation, batt insulation is usually placed in the walls of the home and has a cotton-like appearance.  The insulation is positioned in the cavity between the studs of the walls.  Because batt insulation traps air in the fiberglass to add R-Value, it is imperative not to crush or squeeze the insulation into the cavity or you will lose insulation value.  We highly recommend an experienced installer to ensure that you are maximizing the efficiency of your home. The downside to batt insulation is that you usually have exposed studs remaining which creates cold spots that allow heat/cold to transfer easily.

2.     Blown-In Insulation: Blown-In insulation is available in a variety of materials however, cellulose (fire-retardant paper fiber) is our favorite product due to its ability to fill different sizes & shapes of cavities.  It is essential that your blown-in insulation is applied at the same depth across your space to maximize your R-Value.  Any low spots will create weak points for your insulation.  Also, it is essential that you do not cover your ventilation system to avoid future potential roof problems.  While blown-in insulation can be used inside wall cavities, it can be prone to settlement and compaction.  We recommend batt insulation in the wall cavities over blown-in.

3.     Rigid Foam: Rigid foam is available in solid sheets and is a strong material that does not get crushed thereby diminishing your R-Value.  We are big fans of applying Rigid foam on the exterior of our new homes, under the siding, to minimize thermal bridging- the heat loss through wood studs.   And a bonus feature of Rigid foam is that it does not mould.  Other applications of Rigid foam include under a floor slab during construction or inside basement walls.  When we use Rigid foam in conjunction with Batt insulation, we are able to obtain an R-Value that is superior to ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction.

If you’re looking for a new home and want to learn more about the options available for insulation & energy efficiency, please give us a call!  If you’re looking to increase the R-Value of your existing home, we highly recommend that you connect with one of the many qualified insulators around town to ensure you get the best bang for your insulation buck.

The Good Ol’ Cup of Joe

With St. Patrick’s Day a few days away, I’m finding it oddly difficult to simply say “Hey!” This time of year, I would much rather whip out a ridiculous excuse for an Irish accent and greet everyone with “Top of the morning to ya!” As I refrained from doing so today, I started thinking about the meaning of the phrase. This got me thinking about mornings. Like most of you, my mornings are dictated by one thing–and one thing alone–a fresh cup of Joe. So to top all of your mornings off, here are a few facts about the world’s 2nd most traded commodity (after petroleum)!

FAQ

First of all–just like a Leprechaun–all coffee starts out green! There are a lot of different types of coffee plants, but most are covered in pretty flowers and red “berries”.

 Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 12.59.52 PM

On the inside of berries we find little green beans that, like anything else, turn brown when roasted. The longer you roast a bean, the darker it turns. So when you walk into a coffee shop and are asked what roast you’d like, it’s pretty much the same as choosing rare, medium-rare, or well-done at a steakhouse.

winter carnival

Coffee Roasting is a very precise science. When coffee is roasted its flavour is altered and its caffeine and acid are broken down. Some roasters will “marinate” the beans with spices and flavouring before roasting. That’s how we get coffee that tastes like Irish Cream or a Winter Carnival (whatever that means?)

Flavouring will burn off of beans if they roast too long, but the spices usually become more intense. Lastly, if the beans are over-roasted (past a dark roast) you get a shiny top-layer on your coffee (oil) and it doesn’t really taste like anything!

So what does that translate to?

Light Roast | High in Caffeine, Low in flavour, and high in acidity

Usually labelled as “Breakfast Blend,” this roast is for people who don’t really like the taste of coffee, but like to jump start their day with a warm, energizing beverage.  

Medium Roast | Caffeine, Most flavourful, and high in acidity

This blend is best known as a “house blend” and is usually the base for flavoured coffee. 

Dark Roast | Least Caffeine, Strong Flavour, and least acidity 

Dark roast is for serious coffee drinkers. A “coffee snob” will take a sip of this stuff and ramble off something like “ahh, this roast is spicy with a hint of smoke.”

I hope this helps you make a good choice in the drive-thru this morning!

top of the mornin'

Our Favourite Things: East-Coast Christmas List

I swear my heart is shaped like the East-Coast! From relaxing on the beach, to surfing, repelling, skydiving, snowboarding, and sipping local brews or beans–Atlantic Canada offers something for everyone. This coast is vibrant, intelligent, and full of creativity. We’ve compiled a list (and checked it twice) of a few of the things we love here!

1. East Coast Candles

If I ever find myself near the Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton, NB, East Coast Candles is a must stop. I guarantee these candles smell better than any other collection EVER! The best part is that the scents last for years!

2. Magnetic Hill Winery

I’ve heard many friends rave about the amazing selection of “estate-grown strawberry, raspberry and local New Brunswick blueberry, cranberry and rhubarb” wines that this Moncton winery distills on-site!

3. Honibe

Another classic, East-coast trait is trust in home remedies. Honey is said to act as an anti-allergan, an anti-inflammatory, and a sore-throat soother. This PEI-based company has created lozenges to either replace traditional throat drops or to use as a non-mess, natural hot-beverage sweetener. Kelly uses them all the time and we think you might like them too!

4. Just Us Coffee

Located in the Annapolis Valley, Just Us was created to demonstrate that business can be done by putting “people and the planet before profits.” Just Us now offers a great selection of beans from different regions of the world, along with sugar and chocolate and are available at both Sobey’s and the Superstore. I can’t wait to serve their Holiday Blend this Christmas!

5.Serge Pottery

Looking for a new collection of mugs? These are, by far, my all-time favourite pottery mugs. I bought my first one about two years ago and it–along with a few others from the collection–have served me well. They’ve survived a few tumbles and look so rustic.

6. J. Day Designs

Julie Day is a designer and mom from Nova Scotia. She not only creates beautiful cards and jewellery, but offers tips on both of her blogs! Be sure to follow her and pick up some of her handiwork at Market Street Stamps or by sending her an email.

7. Viet Bistro

Nothing quite says Canada like international cuisine :) This licensed restaurant offers a large variety of traditional Vietnamese food for a very reasonable price (apps $2.50-$10; main dish $10-$20).

8. Anabanana

For all things eco-friendly, trendy, safe, and innovative for the little ones in your life, check out this brand new business on Mountain Rd!

9. Two Women & Their Soap

My sister LOVES this soap. The two artisans are based at King’s Landing Historical Settlement near Fredericton, NB and take pride in making quality soap, creams, and lip balm through time-tested, quality assuring methods. All of their products are handmade in their kitchen and sold at a boutique at the King’s Head Inn and at various craft shows in New Brunswick.

10. Gifts Galore

If I forgot something super cool from the East Coast, I’m sure this little shop can point you in the right direction. They stock all things local from scarves to art to food, Gifts Galore is a one stop shop for all things Maritime. If you’re lucky, they’ll even be serving free cider!

Tips For Family Portraits

 

A house becomes a home when there are images of you and your loved ones on the walls. Getting family portraits can be a struggle though because of pressures on time and money. If you have managed to get the time do portraits done this season you want to make sure that you get the best end product possible. To help you do just that, here are some tips about how you make the most of your family portrait session and be proud of the pictures on your walls.

1. Avoid Sunny Days – If you’re just taking some pictures yourself because of time/money constraints you MAY think that a bright sunny day is the perfect time to take a beautiful outdoor portrait… you would be mistaken! In truth, the best time to take an outdoor portrait is on an overcast day. This way you avoid shadows and harsh lighting that will leave your portraits blotchy and over-exposed!

2. Coordinate, Don’t Match – While there are exceptions to every rule, in general pictures where everyone is matching exactly can look pretty cheesy. To avoid this instead of prescribing the same outfit for each person, choose a color palette (ex: navy, red. white, and beige) and let each person put their own personal style into it. This way your family looks coordinated but not corny. This also allows for the display of individual personality which will make the pictures much more nostalgic in the future.

3. Match Your location – Location can be extremely important if you’re doing non-studio pictures. Whether you choose and indoor or outdoor location there are a couple of things to keep in mind. a) choose a location that means something to your family or that suits your family’s style! These pictures should be reflective of you! b) match your outfits to you location. For example, if you’re doing pictures in a field you may want to go for more “natural” looks whereas if you choose an urban area you may want to spice things up with more urban looks.

4. Relax – You can’t fake being relaxed so you really need to actually be relaxed. Family pictures should be natural and fun just like you are in real life! Kick some of that stress by taking time to chat and hang out with your kids before picture time. Prepping details beforehand will also help decrease day-of stress.

5 Tax Tips for Canadians

It’s that time of year again: tax time. Tax season can be stressful as we watch our hard earned dollars be ‘given away’ to the government. If you’re tired of watching your money slip through your fingers and want to save on taxes, here are 5 great tax tips to help you do just that:

 

1. Be Generous – Not only is this a great life philosophy but it also comes in handy around tax time. Although it varies from province to province, the tax credit you receiving can often increase as you give more. (Just remember to get a receipt when you do give!)

2. File on Time – Filing your taxes on time can save you cash. Being late will mean being dinged.  You can be charged five percent of your owing balance plus one percent for each month that your balance is late. Avoid that! Note: Personal tax must be filed by April 30 – 2012, Small Businesses by June 30 – 2012

3. RRSPs – Contributions to your RRSPs can mean tax deferral. Take advantage! During the year consider having your RRSP contributions come out of your bank account automatically. Having it done automatically will not only shorten your to-do list but also help to ensure that you invest as much as you plan to.

4. Be Accurate – As much fun as getting a fat cheque from the governenment can be, essentially what you’ve done is given them an interest free loan on your money! That money is money that you could and should be investing! Make your money make money and don’t be over on your taxes (or under). Try to be as accurate as possible.

5. Claim Medical Expenses – You may claim medical expenses for yourself, your dependents, and your spouse. To claim the expenses must exceed 3% of your net income. So, keep those medical receipts and count them up!

 

For more information on how to save money on your taxes visit the Canada Revenue Agency Page

 

How are you saving money this tax season?

Five Fab Valentine’s Date Ideas

Take It Outside! Moncton’s Outdoor Rink Locations

 

Baby it’s cold outside! Lucky are Monctonians to live in an area with no shortage of outdoor fun options- for kids and grown-ups alike.

This year, the City Of Moncton has increased the number of outdoor rink locations for your skating pleasure & I have to admit, it puts a smile on my face to see kids outside on the ice.  I learned to skate on a pond in Moncton and there is truly nothing like an afternoon spent on an outdoor rink. So, get your kids off the couch and on the ice… they’ll thank you for it & you’ll probably enjoy it as much as they do.

From the City of Moncton website:

Outdoor Rinks

Grove Hamlet (39 Ripplewood Road)

Mapleton Place (90 Candlewood Drive)

Prince Edward Park (25 Burlington Avenue)

Boys & Girls Club Moncton/Renton Park (280 Noël Street)

Sunny Brae Park (45 Centre Street)

Lewisville Park (Edgehill & Willowbend Drive)

Beechwood Community (Joyce Avenue)

Other Outdoor Rinks:

  • Centennial Park Pond
  • Centennial Park Kaboom Rink
  • Mapleton Park
  • City Hall
  • Victoria Park (Weldon at John Street)

Indoor Rinks:

  • Redball Internet Centre
  • Crossman Community Centre-Kay Arena

 

 

 

 

Ten Favourite Christmas Movies

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Last week, we posted some Christmas music to get you in the holiday spirit. This week we’re turning our attention to movies. Hear are 10 great films to keep your Christmas merry. Several are great films to share with your family, while a few are nice diversions for the onslaught of red white and green.

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) While not technically a movie, this made for TV special earns a spot on this list for the why it has captured the hearts of multiple generations in the almost 50 years since it was first aired. The soundtrack is also a fantastic addition to your music library.
  2. A Christmas Carol (1951) Some traditions deserve to live on for ever. One of these is watching the 1951 black and white adaptation of Charles Dickens classic novel staring Alastair Sim. die hard traditionalists may prefer the original 1938 film starring Reginald Owen.
  3. Elf (2003) One of the best Christmas movies of the past decade, and one of Will Ferrell’s best as well. You’ll be getting coal in your stocking if you don’t think Buddy the Elf is adorable!
  4. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) A decidedly un-kitchy—but nonetheless heartwarming—Christmas film that reminds us of why Christmas matters.
  5. Home Alone (1990) A Wonderful Life for the modern generation. In between the slapstick comedy is a story of the importance of love and family over the holidays. 1992’s Home Alone 2 was a worthy sequel.
  6. Die Hard (1998) A great break from he Christmas schmaltz. This one makes the list because it’s set during a corporate Christmas party.  1990’s Die Hard 2 is also set during the holidays.
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000) A double entry. While the original animated version will always have a special place in our hearts, the amazing sets and make-up of the 2000 version make it a worthy co-addition to our list.
  8. Polar Express  (2004) This one is a love it or hate it type film. While some viewers make be turned off by the quasi-realistic animation, others will be delighted by the magically beautiful journey that the movies takes you on.
  9. Gremlins (1984) A merry monster movie. While it may appeal more to the parents out there, kids will be delighted by the fun twist on Christmas traditions.
  10. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994)  Another double entry. The 1947 is still among the best of the traditional holiday movies. The 1994 version updates it for a new generation while staying true to the original. Both version provide an light-hearted  story without a sentimentality overload.

Is your favourite holiday movie on this list?  If not, please let us know in the comments.

10 Canadian Christmas Albums

Christmas Music  Photo credit: Chiot’s Run on Flickr

As the song goes, “Merry Christmas” has already “been said many times, many ways.”  So why not sing it in a Canadian way this year?  Here are 10 Canadian interpretations of Christmas classics old and new (in no particular order).

  • Justin Bieber, Under the Mistletoe: A brand new album from Canada’s boy wonder. The album offers seasonal mix of traditional Christmas standards and new holiday music co-written by Justin. If Biebs isn’t enough for you, he is joined by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Usher.
  • Diana Krall, Christmas Songs:  Diana elegantly delivers some of our favourite carols with a festive, yet grown-up vibe. Pay special attention to her rendition of Winter Wonderland for a special Canadian ad lib.
  • John McDermott, Christmas Memories: This album will appeal to fans of Celtic carols. Scottish-Canadian balladeer John McDermott  delivers a wonderful mix of traditional and some lesser known Christmas fare.
  • Anne Murray, What a Wonderful Christmas:  Canada’s snowbird, Anne Murray has recorded several Christmas albums during here career. This two disc collection features a sample of her favourite past songs  intermixed with some new recordings of Christmas standards.
  • Michael Bublé, Christmas: This is a brand new album for Canada’s reigning crooner. It features a mix of guest appearances by the likes of Shania Twain and Thalia Jones; and a original carol that Bublé penned for this album.
  • Kim Stockwood,  I Love SantaA collection of holiday standards performed live by this unique Canadian artist. The album features a sample of seasonal favourites and fun new tracks that highlight both Kim’s rich, warm vocals and her comedic style.
  • Bruce Cockburn, Christmas:  The Canadian activist and singer deftly brings folk, rock, country, gospel, and international influences to a broad collection of seasonal standards in a powerful and poignant way.
  • Holly Cole, Baby It’s Cold Outside:  With here smoky voice, Holly Cole offers the perfect antidote to the hustle of seasonal shopping, decorating and parties. This is the perfect music to listen to with a cup of hot cocoa when you need a break from the bustle.
  • Frank Mills and Rita MacNeil, The Spirit of Christmas: Two Canadian musical legends join forces in this memorable holiday release. Singer/songwriter Rita MacNeil pulled legendary composer and pianist Frank Mills out of retirement to record 4 new songs to add to 8 of their Christmas classics.
  • Matt Dusk, Another Christmas: An EP from a Canadian crooner featuring a mix of classics and new jazzy tunes sure to delight anybody looking for a smooth Christmas track for a holiday dinner party.
Do you have a favourite Canadian Christmas album that we missed?  Please let us know in the comments.
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