It’s that time of year again! Time to try and figure out how your child is going to wade their way through the masses of superheroes and fairies to the magical land of sugar-high happiness. However, while your child is dreaming of lollipops and mars bars, you don’t have to stay up all night worrying about what they’re going to wear! Here are a few tips and ideas to inspire you this Halloween!
My mother wasn’t overly into Halloween costume shopping, so we tended to simply find supplies around the house and get creative! We swapped thick goopy costume makeup for Mom’s cosmetic bag and pre-made suits for some of Dad’s construction supplies! One year my parents managed to transform Christmas supplies and a big piece of plastic vapor barrier into a “dancing bug” (I LOVED it).
All of the costumes above can be created for about $10 (that’s cheaper and cuter than VV Boutique (a.k.a. Value Village) !!!! If your child is willing to sport some FREE 3D glasses, Helium balloons, and a walker made of plumbing supplies, Carl from UP is sure to win first place in any costume contest!
Another really adorable trend is dressing your kids up like household items! There is something oddly funny about an 8 year old dressed up as a box of KD or a flower pot. A lot of great costumes can be made from taking a look around the house and making a trip to the Dollarama!
Here are a few step-by-step instructions for adorable and affordable Halloween outfits!
-Natural feathers ($1/ bag Dollarama)
-Brown headband ($1 Dollarama)
-Turquoise beads ($1 Dollarama) -optional
-Brown Tulle (2$/ yard Fabricville)
-Suede ($4 Fabricville)
-Eyeliner (you likely have this already)
1.Get your daughter to wear a white long sleeve shirt and neutral leggings.
2.Wrap the tulle around her hips and secure with a strip of frayed suede/ safety pins
3.Use leftover suede as armbands (or turquoise beads)
Braid your daughters hair.
Place headband around forehead to secure the feathers.
Make a few marks on her cheeks with your eyeliner
if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can purchase a brown tutu at Walmart or VV Boutique
Carl Fredricksen from UP
This is probably the cutest costume I have ever seen.
-3 lengths of Plastic Pipe ($3 hardware store)
-2 elbow joints ($2 hardware store)
-2 Tennis balls ($1 Dollarama)
-Helium Balloons ($3 Great Canadian Dollar store)
-String ($1 anywhere)
-Kids 3D movie glasses (FREE)
(DIY Bow Tie)
1.Dress your son in formal clothes (don’t forget the iconic bow tie)
2.Assemble the pipes and elbow joints in the shape of a horse shoe (ie. 2 vertical and 1 horizontal connected by elbow joints)
3.Cut an “x” shaped slit in the tennis balls large enough to slide the pipes into.
4.Stick the tennis balls onto the open ends of the plastic pipes to finish off the walker!
5.Tie your helium balloons to the walker and have a wonderful time taking pictures of your adorable little man!
-1 large flower pot that your kid can fit inside (~$5 Walmart, scope out thrift stores for a better bargain!)
-Lots of Fake Flowers ($4 Dollarama)
1.Cut the bottom out of the flower pot
2.Drill/ Cut holes in the sides of the pot (2 front and 2 back)
3.Cut 2 pieces of cord long enough to go over your child’s shoulders
4.Feed the cord through the holes, tying knots on each end.
5.Glue/ Tie a few fake flowers to a headband for your child to wear.
6. Fill the pot with fake flowers!
Have a blast making lots of “sweet” memories with your families this Halloween
Here at Martell Homes we are getting ready for the CIBC Run for the Cure happening on September 30th! And we want you! That’s right, we want you on our team as we run to end breast cancer.
Now, you may be saying “Yeahhh but I don’t run!”.. and that’s okay for 2 reasons!. 1) You don’t have to run when you’re doing the Run for the Cure, you can walk! and 2) We’re here to give you some tips so that you can!
Here are our top 5 tips on how to run better:
1. Be the Turtle When Training – While we all get a little excited when we start something new it’s really important when running to start conservatively and allow yourself to progress. The danger is that if you start too aggressively you can set yourself up for some less than desireble injuries. Try adding 10% to your run every week for the first three weeks and then back off a bit (20%) for the following week.
2. Treat Your Feet – Having the proper footwear is essential. We’ve all done it, we’ve gone to the store and bought new runners without actually getting them to properly size and evaluate our feet needs. Take your time when you go to get your runners and make sure that you have the absolute best fit and shoe to help you avoid running injuries.
3. Bring a Friend: There’s nothing like having someone there beside you to keep you motivated, entertained, and engaged. Bring someone along who you know will support you and encourage you in your goal. Having someone also makes you more likely to keep up your running schedule because you’re less likely to make excuses not to run if you know someone is depending on you.
4. Keep Your Gear Ready – Always have your running gear (clothes, shoes, water, watch) ready in a bag so that any time you have a burst of energy or motivation you can take advantage of it without getting slowed down by prep.
5. Enter Races – Races give you a goal which will make you more focused and motivated to push yourself to be the best you can be. The CIBC Run for the Cure is the perfect opportunity for you to set a goal and work towards it. If you’re interested in joining (or supporting) or Martell Homes team check out our donation page here!
Check out this blog for more tips on how you can run better.
Living a green life is about more than just saving money, it’s about minimizing as much as possible our negative impact on the environment around us. At Martell Home Builders this idea is more than just words, it’s action and we want to empower you to action as well. Besides purchasing a net-zero home (which you can definitely do!) there are other ways that you can minimize that negative impact.
In our first installment of the living green series we talked about how to live green in the way you wash laundry (check out that post here). Today, we want to talk water. In a Country covered in fresh water lakes, ponds, and streams, we often don’t fully appreciate how lucky we are to have access to clean water. By being intentional in our efforts to conserve water we are both ensuring a ‘moist’ future for our children and also expressing solidarity with those around the world that are less fortunate than we. So, without further ado, here are our top 10 tips on how to conserve water in your home!
1. Turn off that Tap! – We’ve all heard this one before (or at least should have) but turning of the tap while you’re brushing your pearly white teeth is a great step towards water conservation. You don’t need to hear a waterfall while you brush!
2. Don’t Flush Unnecessarily – Instead of flushing that kleenex away, just put it in the garbage and save water.
3. Basin, Not Tap – Wash your fruits and veggies in a basin or bowl instead of under a running tap.
4. Brick in the Tank – If you have a large toilet tank but a displacer inside of it to save water.
5. Brita in the Fridge– If you keep a jug of cold water in the fridge it will keep you from running it (until it goes cold) the next time you want a glass
6. Don’t Water the Road– Position your sprinkler so non of the water is getting wasted by watering roads, driveways, etc.
7. Big Close Drops – Set your sprinkler or hose to dispense big close drops. A mist will likely be wasteful since a lot of it blows away!
8. Check– Check those valves and pipes for cracks and leaks
9. Long Lawn – Set your lawn mower to a high setting – longer grass = more shade = less evaporation!
10. Fish Food – Use your old fish tank water (when you’re switching it) to water your plants!
Check out more tips (100 to be exact) here!
Photograph by StevenM_61 on Flickr
With Halloween and Remembrance day behind us, and the thermostats dipping below zero at night, it’s time to start thinking about winter. For many of us, preparing for with means digging out our sweaters and search for that missing mitten. But it is equally important to ensure your house is ready for winter. Not only will you be more comfortable, but following a few simple suggestions may also save you some money!
Here are 10 easy ways to winterize your home:
Be sure your attic, basement, and exterior walls are properly insulated—even in newly built homes. Insulation can settle and shift over time, leading to cold pockets.
Spend a few hours giving your house the once-over. Look for areas where cold outside air can seep in or warm inside heat can escape. Some common places include electrical outlets, switch-plates, and gaps around windows and doors. You can buy inexpensive foam insulation made for outlet and switch plates that are easy to install. Ensure your door and window weather stripping is in good condition. Consider caulking drafty areas where weather stripping is not appropriate.
If you haven’t done so in a few years, call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and ducts system. They’ll make sure your furnace is running efficiently and safely. While s/he’s there, ask the HVAC pro to clean and inspect your ducts heating ducts. Over time, dust and grime can build up and your house can settle, creating gaps in the ducts allowing warm air to escape. An inspection every 3-5 years should be sufficient for most newer homes.
The best way to ensure your furnace is working efficiently as possible is to remember to replace your furnace filter, regularly—normally every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on use patterns and filer types. This will help your furnace run more efficiently and cut down on heating costs. I should also help with indoor air quality.
A programmable digital thermostat is another heating cost cutter. They are pretty easy to install and can be programmed to automatically lower temperature at night when everyone is asleep, and during times when the house uninhabited.
Many of us forget that you can use your ceiling fans during the winter to keep your house warm. On every ceiling fan there’s a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades. Switch it so your ceiling fan rotates clockwise. This will push warm air down and recirculate it throughout the room, easing the burden on your furnace.
Each winter, there are stories of tree branches falling on cars or houses. This is often cause by winter storms or the build up of snow and ice that weighs branches down and causes them to break .Such misfortune is easily voided by taking some time each fall to trim back any tree branches hanging near your roof, windows, or driveways, trim them back.
While you are outside, check your rain gutters and clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up and freeze near the edge of the roof. This ice will eventually forms “dams” that block the path of melted snow from your roof and cause to seep into your house. Even if you don’t have trees directly overhead, be sure to check your gutters every couple of years. Dust and airborne debris can also create blockages.
Every so often a big winter storm hits that can knock out power for a few hours, or keep you in the house for a few days. We recommend that you create a “72-hour kit” for such emergencies. Stock the kit with food, water, and other supplies. While you can buy pre-made 72-hour kits online or at most outdoor stores, you can save some money by making your own. Remember to only include non perishable food, and—unless you have a camp stove—pick food and beverages that do not need to be heated.
You mom was right. If you are a bit chilly, put on a sweeter before reaching for the thermostat. This is an easy way to lower your energy bills. A heavy sweater adds a couple of degrees of warmth to your body. If you set your thermostat to 18 degrees and wear a sweater, your home will feel like a comfy 22 degrees.
Kijiji Screen Shot
Buying a new house is exciting. Moving can be daunting though. When you begin packing you realize just how much clutter has accumulated in your closets and sheds. You may also realize that you can’t bring all your stuff to your new home. That kitchen table that was perfect for your apartment looks out-of-place in your new dining room.
Given all the other tasks associated with moving, the last thing you want to do on a precious Saturday is hold a traditional garage sale. Kijiji can help new home-buyers clear some clutter and make some extra cash to help ease their move to their new home.
Kijiji is Canada’s most popular free, local classifieds site. The word ‘kijiji’ (pronounced like key-gee-gee) means ‘village’ in Swahili. This name captures the essence of the site: a place where people connect with others in their community. Think of it as a virtual garage sale. Kijiji provides a free and convenient way for people to buy, sell or trade things that you no longer use or the curtains that don’t fit the windows in your new house.
While there are other online classified sites around—most notably Craigslist—Kijiji is the #1 classifieds site in Canada. It boasts over 15 million Canadian visitors each month. in 2010 there were over 40 million ads posted nationwide. In Moncton alone, there are currently 2,880 listings for furniture and 2,330 listings for home and garden items. These ads also include ‘wanted’ postings. This means that there may already be a buyer for your gas lawnmower or patio furniture.
Here are 15 tips to successfully sell an item on Kijiji:
1. Choose an item to advertise.
It is usually best to create separate posts for each item, unless they are a set (i.e. bed frame and night stand). You can post up to 25 unique Ads on Kijiji every day.
2. Register with Kijiji. Registration is not required. However,it allows you to post and manage ads without having to confirm each action via email and reserve your own nickname. This makes your experience easier and more enjoyable.
3. Choose an area (e.g. Moncton) to post your ad in.
4. Select a Category (furniture; home and garden; sports, bikes, etc) and a sub-category (bookcases, coffee tables patio, etc) for your item
5. Fill in the Ad Details. These include ‘ad type’ (offering or wanting) and if you are an owner or dealer.
6. Select a Price. Prices vary depending on condition, age and demand. They should be along the lines of what you would expect to get at a garage sale. If you are having problems determining a fair price, check out WorthMonkey for help in deciding on a value.
7. Choose a Post Title. Try and create a catchy yet descriptive title. This is important because your title will be seen most often. It will be what gets people to click on your ad.
8. Write a Description. The description is where you describe your item to prospective buyers. It’s what will convince people to contact you. Be sure to include as many relevant details as possible.
9. Add Pictures. This is optional, but highly recommended. Ads with pictures get twice the number of replies. They allows to you show your item from different angles or highlighting different features. You can update many photos, but 3-4 pictures is usually enough.
10. Include your Contact Information.
11. Select Upgrades: While a basic ad (including picture) is free and enough for most people, Kijiji offers upgrades to help get your ad seen buy more people. This will help your items get sold quicker.
12. Preview and Post Your Ad to make sure everything looks right. After the ad looks like you want it to, click on ‘Post Your Ad.’ Once posted, be sure to click on the link to see how your ad will look to your customers.
13. Respond Quickly to Queries. Chances are your item isn’t the only one of its kind posted on the site. If you want to sell quickly (and for top dollar), be sure to respond to prospective buyers quickly.
14. Make the Transaction. Most often buyers will be willing to come to you to pick up and pay for the item. If you are worried about them coming to your home, pick a nearby public spot to meet—such as a park or parking lot. Be prepared to allow the buyer to check out the item to make sure it works properly. Also, be ready to negotiate a bit over the price.
15. Cancel your Ad. It is considerate to cancel your ad once your item has been sold. You don’t want to get people interested in buying something you no longer have.
This is the process in a nutshell. While it may seem complicated, using the site is actually quite straightforward. if you have questions along the way, Kijiji maintains an excellent online help desk to guide you.
Once you sell your unwanted items, you can look forward to moving into your new house with a little extra cash to help you get settled!
Hiring a contractor can be a little – or a lot! – scary, especially now, thanks to reality TV and shows like Holmes on Homes, we are shown the devil himself in the world of home renos: the deceitful, rogue contractor!
The task of hiring a contractor can also make you feel overwhelmed if you have little or no experience of doing so in the past. Here is some great information to help you out, along with some general contractor questions you should definitely ask before signing on the dotted line and handing over your hard-earned cash (actually, you should never hand over cash, but more on this later).
First Things First
Before you even set out to find a contractor, you first need to figure out exactly what work it is that you want done and check to see if you will need a building permit. For Moncton residents, the City of Moncton website will provide you with all the information you need to get going, including a detailed FAQ and permit application forms that you can download. If you don’t live in Moncton, you can find out more by contacting your municipal office.
Finding Potential Contractors
Get the word out that you’re looking for a contractor to see what recommendations pop up in conversation. By letting your friends, family and neighbours know that you’re hiring a contractor, if they have any positive or negative experiences with a contractor, you can be sure they’ll let you know. “Hey! You should totally hire so-and-so, they did my kitchen last year and I’m so happy with it!” or “Oh, don’t even think about hiring so-and-so, I got them to do my deck and I’m having nothing but problems.”
Don’t just try to find recommendations the conventional way either; use social media to help you find the perfect contractor. Post on your Facebook Wall that you’re looking for a contractor, or use Twitter to see what sort of response you get: tweeting “Know of any great remodelling contractors in #Moncton?” could provide you with some great recommendations.
Once you’ve shortlisted some potential contractors, make sure you check out their reputation with your local Home Builders’ Association:
General Contractor Questions
Okay, so now you think you’ve finally found the perfect contractor for the job. Here are several questions you should ask before you hire:
How to Hire a Contractor by Mike Holmes: In this HGTV article, Mike Holmes covers a lot of important details, such as: what questions you should ask the references of potential contractors; what kinds of terms you should make sure are included in your contract; information on payment schedules; your rights to hold back a percentage of your final payment for a certain amount of time to ensure the job was done correctly; and more. (Another great read by Mike Holmes is an article called Contractor Red Flags: How to Spot Trouble.)
Hiring a Contractor by CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation): This article has an abundance of helpful information on finding and choosing a contractor, information on getting estimates and proposals, consumer protection laws, information on insurance, and more. This article also includes a great checklist to assist you in hiring a contractor. You should also check out CMHC’s sample renovation contract.
Success Stories / Horror Stories
What sort of experiences have you had hiring a contractor? Share your stories by leaving a comment below!
It might be hard to imagine blossoming flowers, baby animals, and sunshine when we’re buried under a crap-load of snow, but fret not, spring is just around the corner. It really is. I swear. And like the critters who awaken from their winter slumber feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, you may want to slither, crawl, or walk your way to the cupboard full of cleaning supplies to give your cave … erm … home the tidy it desperately needs to help you feel revitalised. To help get you started, here are some of the best tips on spring cleaning the home.
1. Make a list. Before you start your spring cleaning, you should first sit down and make a list. Divide your list into groups, each group covering a room in your house. You can take it even further and prioritize each task within each group so you tackle the most important first. When something on the list has been accomplished, cross it off. Having a list will help you remember what needs to be done so nothing is overlooked (and it will feel good to see the list get shorter!).
2. Do one room at a time. You’ll get more accomplished if you take on one room at a time rather than doing bits and pieces here and there.
3. Don’t take it all on yourself. Make sure you get everyone in the family pitching in. Once you make your list, have everyone choose a certain number of chores from that list to do. Put the list on the refrigerator so everyone has access to it to cross off their jobs when they’re done. If you have small children, check out Ideas for Chore Charts & Awesome Free Chore Chart Downloads for additional ideas.
4. Don’t procrastinate. It’s easy to put off spring cleaning; after all, there are hundreds of other – more fun – things to do! But if you don’t designate some time for spring cleaning, the chores will never get done. Figure out what works best for you and your family, whether it’s 30 minutes each evening or 2 hours each Saturday morning. Set aside time and stick to it until everything is crossed off your list.
5. Make sure you have everything you need before you start. And keep it all together. It’ll be too easy to procrastinate if you don’t have all the supplies you need beforehand. Make sure you have all the essential cleaning supplies and keep them in a pail so the supplies can be easily carried from room to room.
6. Dust everything. Think ceiling fans, light bulbs, blinds and shutters …
7. Wash the windows inside and out. Now is the perfect time to wash the outside of your windows.
8. Organize. Follow these home organization tips to get rid of clutter.
9. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. When was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke detectors? If it was more than 6 months to a year ago, it’s time to put fresh ones in. It’s also a good time to vacuum the dust from them and test to make sure they’re working correctly.
10. Pull out the appliances. Do you know what’s living under your fridge? How about your stove? Spring cleaning should include pulling out all your appliances – including the washing machine and dryer – and washing under them and the walls behind them.
More tips on spring cleaning the home
What do spring cleaning and home staging have in common? Both try to get your home looking its best. Check out these home staging tips and techniques for additional tips on spring cleaning the home.
On a tight budget? These home improvement tips will provide you with great ideas, all which can be done for under $100.
Do you have tips on spring cleaning the home? Leave a comment to let us know!
You’ve got junk drawers coming out the wazoo, your closets need rebar to keep ‘em closed, your family room looks like a bomb has exploded, and you need to let your loved ones know where you’ll be whenever you need to go into your kids’ bedroom so they can call in a search party if you aren’t out in 30 minutes.
Does this sound familiar? If so, check out these tips to organize your home so you can spend more time doing what you want to do, and not hours trying to find those bloody rechargeable batteries that you just know were in the kitchen drawer.
Top 26 Tips to Organize Your Home
1. Use checklists. Make a list of what needs to be organized and check them off as you go.
2. Ask yourself are you really going to use it? If something’s been sitting in a drawer since you moved in 15 years ago, you’re probably better off throwing it out or donating it.
3. When organizing cluttered spaces, get three garbage bags or boxes and label them “Keep”, “Throw Out” and “Donate.”
4. To stay organized, keep a donation box in your garage so things can be tossed in there as they are no longer wanted or needed. Once the box has enough in it, take it to your local thrift shop or have a garage sale.
5. Organize all those papers by getting a filing cabinet or, at the very least, some sort of system that will help you organize. For example, use an accordion folder for bills/invoices, instruction manuals, receipts, and other need-to-keep papers.
6. For kids’ artwork, put up a corkboard to display their masterpieces, or run a piece of string/wool along the wall, using clothes pins to hang their work. Rotate the artwork once a month. When you rotate the artwork, the ones you take down should immediately go into a photo album or scrapbook of some kind, and throw away the rest. If you have a hard time throwing out your child’s painting and drawing, use your digital camera to take a picture of it so you have a digital copy to have as a keepsake instead.
7. Baskets are your friend. Use wicker baskets to organize papers, toiletries, or anything else that doesn’t have a proper home around your house. Baskets are a great way to utilize shelf space too.
8. Label the front of containers or stacked boxes so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
9. One year in? One year out! Go through your closets, linen cupboard, and even the toy box. If you’ve had it for 6-12 months without ever using it, you probably don’t need it! Donate it to someone who could.
10. Put your take-out menus into a folder and keep them with your cookbooks or where you keep your phonebooks.
11. Use a shallow plastic container to store all those gravy and seasoning packets (or cut the bottom of a shoebox out and use that).
12. Keep a list of needed groceries on the refrigerator – let everyone in the house know that if they use the last of something to write it down.
13. You can take it a step further and create a template which categorizes various shopping needs. For example, divide the piece of paper into large squares, each having a title such as “Cleaning Supplies & Toiletries”, “Dairy”, “Meat”, “Fruit & Veggies”, etc. Then when you go grocery shopping, you aren’t running up and down the aisles like a chicken with its head cut off.
14. Reuse empty baby food jars to organize various small items, like screws, nails, thumbtacks, paperclips, etc. If you don’t have access to empty baby food jars, you can purchase small plastic containers for cheap.
15. Use a mesh bag to store the kids’ bath toys. Hang it on the faucet so they can drip-dry.
16. Get rid of old newspapers and magazines. Start a scrapbook or use a binder to store cut out news items or stories you’re interested in.
17. Zip-lock bags are great to help organize everything you stuff into junk drawers. Use a bag for rechargeable batteries, one for Band-Aids, one for hair elastics, one for … you get the idea.
18. Another way to help organize your junk drawer is to put a plastic cutlery tray in it or several shallow plastic containers (without their lids).
19. To help eliminate some of the paper clutter, get a white board or chalkboard and hang it by the phone. Make this the place to leave phone numbers, messages, or notes to each other.
20. Another way to reduce the paper laying around the house is to get your bills sent to you electronically. Having your bills sent to you via email is a great way to reduce paper clutter (and better for the environment too!).
21. Only keep out the shoes/boots suitable for the season you’re in. If it’s winter, stash the flip-flops and sandals in a bag in the garage or shed. When summer comes, switch the snow boots and wellies with the previously store summer footwear.
22. Do the same for winter/summer clothes and outerwear.
23. Organize one room at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed and ditch the idea entirely.
24. Go through all the cupboards/cabinets in your bathroom and get rid of all the lotions and potions you haven’t used in over 6 months.
25. Check the expiration dates on all the meds in your medicine cabinet and dispose of the ones that are out-dated (make sure you dispose of them properly. A lot of pharmacies will get rid of old pills for you – you shouldn’t flush them or toss them yourself.).
26. When shopping, don’t buy larger quantities than you are realistically going to use. Sure, it might seem like a better deal to buy the 500 count of Tylenol over the bottle of 100, but not if you’re only going to use 50 of them before they expire! Same goes for buying in large bulk – if you aren’t really going to use that ginormous tub of mayo or that massive Costco-sized jar of pickles, do yourself a favour and purchase the smaller option! Not only are you wasting your money, these items take up a lot of precious space in the pantry!
Share your home organization tips!
We’ve shared our tips to organize your home, now it’s your turn! Leave a comment to let us know your top home organization tips!