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Spring is only a few weeks away. And as the temperature begins to rise and the snow starts to melt, this is the perfect time to start planning to get your home ready for the new season. As we all know, winter can be brutal on our home. That’s why it’s important to inspect your house and assess any damage that may have occurred and make make sure problems are addressed. Here are some tips on specific areas of your home that might need some spring maintenance.


The Roof

While some problems can be easily seen, others may be more difficult to discover. Take a good look at your roof and keep an eye out for cracked or missing shingles. It’s also important to keep a look out for any movement in shingles and any excessive buildup of debris. If you are unsure or think that it might be time to replace your roof, contact your preferred professional for expert advise.


The Foundation

Spring is the perfect time to walk the exterior of your home. Keep an eye out for cracks along your foundation. If you discover an issue, it’s best to leave this one to the professionals. A crack in the foundation can lead to larger problems. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to tackle the problem immediately.

 

The Windows

Ensure that your windows are ready for the warmer weather. Ensure that there aren’t any leaks around the windows. This way, you don’t let the warm air in and are able to contain the cool air in your home. Make sure that the caulking and weather stripping is in good condition. If you discover that condensation has been building inside the glass during the winter months, the weather seal might be compromised. This may mean that the glass or window should be replaced.


 

The Pipes

Look for leaks around your home. Check under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to ensure that all connections are secure and sealed. Watch for water stains around appliances like your dishwasher and make sure that your washing machine hoses aren’t cracked. Keeping a continued eye out for water damage will help ensure that larger problems don’t arise in your home.


The Air Conditioning Unit

After having your heat pumping for most of the winter, now it’s time to make sure that your air conditioning unit is ready for summer. Change the filter, check hose connections, and ensure that drain pans are working properly.

The Basement

The last thing you want is dampness in your basement. Check the base of your walls for cracks or signs of water damage. Use a flashlight to investigate any exposed framing. If you use your basement on a regular basis, you are more likely to notice any issues. However, if you have an unfinished basement that is unused, make sure you are keeping an eye out-especially as the snow begins to melt!

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Did you know February 22 is “World Thinking Day”? The day was first marked in 1926 at the fourth Girl Guide/Girl Scout International Conference. It continues to be marked by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides internationally as well as, increasingly, by the general public.


This weekend also marks the end of university Reading Week, and the beginning of the slow buildup towards final exams, which means plenty of brain activity in the weeks and months to come. For parents of university-age children living at home, now is an opportune time to start thinking about creating the perfect study space at home—ahead of exam madness!


Of course, lots of students prefer to study outside the home—on campus, in coffee shops, or anywhere else with fewer distractions, but for the kid who plans on pulling all-nighters long past the last bus home from campus, a calming, distraction-free study space is a must.


Find the right location.


When it comes to creating a home study space, location is key. If you have a spare room in your house, a home study space might be the perfect use for that space. If you don’t have that luxury, there is still a lot you can do with an area of a bedroom, a basement, or virtually part of the house.


Things to consider when finding the right location for a dedicated study space include maximizing natural light (good for the brain), meaning that a basement might not be the ideal place. You will also want to put it in as quiet a location as possible, preferably away from heavy foot traffic, laundry room noise, TV room activity, and so on.


Find the right desk—and the right spot for it.


Finding the right study room desk for your young scholar is a Goldilocks exercise. You want a big enough desk to allow for a desktop and laptop in addition to old-fashioned paperwork, but one that’s not so big that it encourages clutter. An L-shaped desk is a good idea, as it has the effect of separating the digital section from the analogue.


You will ideally want to pick a spot for the desk that is illuminated by natural light but not directly in it. You will also want a spot with electrical outlets close at hand (preferably behind the desk so as to avoid unsightly cords), and with wall space available for customized shelves and cabinetry.


Invest in a good desk chair.


Nothing will kill a study space like an uncomfortable chair that nobody wants to use. While it’s tempting to make do with whatever you have on hand, a proper ergonomic desk chair conducive to healthy posture will ensure not only that the space gets used, but might also save your child from future back problems.


Shelving—but not too much shelving.


A study space does require shelving for those bulky and always expensive required textbooks as well as dictionaries, thesauruses, and other de-rigeur references books. That said, you will probably want to avoid putting large bookshelves within close range of the desk, as those comic books and graphic novels are a very tempting distraction from calculus and Canadian politics.


If you do have to put a study space close to non-study-related bookshelves, consider shelving with frosted glass or mesh doors, with smaller open shelves for coursework-related volumes positioned above the desk itself.


The sound of learning.


Everybody has their own preference when it comes to auditory stimulation for studying. Some like background music, while others prefer ASMR-type ambient noise, while others still work best in complete silence. Unless your young scholar prefers total silence while studying, a decent-quality Bluetooth speaker is a worthwhile investment in any modern study space.


What about the Internet?


There’s no getting around the fact that the biggest potential distraction in any given study space is going to be the desktop or laptop computer (or more specifically the Internet access they provide), as well as your child’s phone and other digital devices. There’s also no getting around the fact that these are essential tools for any university, college, or high school student.


For the highly distractible high schooler under your roof, tools like Norton Family Parental Control and Circle Home Plus enable you to manage and restrict online access from specific devices at specific times, giving you the ability to limit your child’s access to social networking sites while ensuring they can access Wikipedia and other important research-related websites.


Even if your child is in university and technically an adult, you might still want to put something like this in place to help them manage distractions, and frankly most parents themselves could do with reduced digital temptations in their lives.


Happy World Thinking Day—and happy studies!

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The Family Day long weekend is nearly upon us! For many St. Albert families this means a trip out of town to see relatives or that long-awaited family vacation somewhere warm. But for those of us with no travel plans, this doesn’t necessarily mean staying at home and watching Netflix. Far from it: our community truly comes alive during the February long weekend!


Haven’t decided what to do this long weekend? Here are a few family-friendly ideas.


Call the fire brigade!


Since 2014, St. Albert Firefighters Local 2130 has been proudly hosting the Fire and Ice Festival, the city’s premier Family Day weekend festival. Taking place on Monday, February 17, 2020 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm at Lacombe Lake Park, the festival features fire dancers, campfires, a real firefighter obstacle course, hotdogs donated by Save On Foods, and coffee and hot chocolate courtesy of Tim Hortons.


Admission is free but the organizers encourage donations, which will be going to support the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.


The library awaits.


St. Albert Public Library is never at a loss for activities for kids of all ages, and the Family Day long weekend is no exception. The madness starts Friday evening with Nerf Wars: Attack of the Foams for the grade 4 to 7 crowd (Bring your own nerf gun, ammo, and eye protection!), while preschoolers will enjoy the Sunrise Storytime on Saturday at 11 am at the Children’s Open Corner.


On Monday, February 17 the whole library will be open for Family Day fun from 1 to 5 pm. Among the day’s highlights will be the whimsical music and puppeteering of renowned children’s entertainers Peter and Mary, who will be performing at Forsyth Hall at 1:30 pm.


Soldiering on


The Edmonton Garrison will be holding its annual Family Day Carnival on Monday, February 17 from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is free with a non-perishable food donation to the Edmonton Garrison Chapels Food Bank. More information will be coming soon on the Family Day Carnival Facebook page.


Water, water everywhere!


The Fountain Park Recreation Centre will be opening its doors to family public swimming starting Saturday, February 15 and continuing through Monday, February 17.


Two giants of folk music


Music lovers are in for a treat this long weekend with two legends of folk rock rolling through town, starting with veteran Canadian singer-songwriter Steve Poltz. Best known as the frontman for indie rockers The Rugburns and as co-writer of Jewel’s mega-hit “You Were Meant For Me”, the Halifax-born folk rocker will be performing at the Arden Theatre on Friday, February 14 at 7:30 pm.


Then on Saturday, February 15, fellow Canadian folkie Danny Michel will be taking the stage at the Arden for a night of great music. A multiple Juno and Polaris Prize nominee, Michel is one of Canada’s greatest living songwriters whose 2012 album Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me was praised by Billboard Magazine as “one of the finest musical works of our time.” His show will commence at the Arden at 7:30 pm.


Get outdoors


Who needs organized events when you live in a city with 515 hectares of parkland and an abundance of green space everywhere you turn? With weather expected to be in the single sub-zero digits, this Family Day long weekend looks to be the perfect one for tobogganing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, marshmallow roasting, snowman-making, and whatever other winter fun you can dream up!

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It’s that time of year again! Valentine’s Day is only a week away, which means you’re probably racking your brains for new ideas to show your love to your significant other. If you’re like most people, you’re probably tired of the same old gifts of chocolate, flowers, and candle-lit meals out. So how about a romantic home improvement project?


I know what you’re thinking: surely it’s too late to start a home improvement project and finish it for Valentine’s Day. Not true. There are plenty of small but significant and heartfelt remodelling projects that need neither break the bank nor take months or even weeks to complete. And some will really set a Valentine’s Day mood while also breaking the midwinter blues.


Here are five ideas on how to speak the language of love with home renovation projects:


Lighting, lighting, lighting!


There’s nothing like new lighting to change the mood in your house. It’s also one of the least expensive ways to freshen up your living space. Why not turn your master bedroom into the perfect Valentine’s Day love nest with hanging lanterns, some canopy bed lighting, or just a brand new ceiling light fixture.


Check out HGTV’s tips on lighting trends for 2020, which include geometric fixtures, smoky shaded glass, and delicate, light-as-air crystal and glass hanging lights.


Sheer elegance


When creating a romantic mood in the bedroom, there’s nothing like semi-sheer curtains, especially with that new bedroom lighting project you’re now working on! Sheer curtains have the effect of diffusing soft light, thereby giving a room a dreamy, romantic vibe.


How about a DIY fireplace?


When it comes to the long winter months, nothing says romance like a beautiful fireplace, perhaps with some candles, flowers, and a bottle of bubbly. While people usually associate fireplaces with living rooms, today’s free-standing electric or direct vent gas fireplaces can go anywhere in the house, including bedrooms and even in luxury bathrooms.


Fix that thing!


You know what I’m talking about. That annoying thing that’s been bugging your partner for months, or even years. It might be a squeaky door or a leaking faucet or a gouge in the wall from when you moved that new dresser into the bedroom. A Valentine’s Day fix-it gift need not be a brand new feature, and it will show your significant other that you’re paying attention.


Plan something big


While there are many small-scale home renovation projects you could easily pull off before February 14, there’s also the option of planning something major for your home that you can present as a fully realized plan. Have you and your partner been talking about a major kitchen or bathroom remodelling project? Why not do all the legwork ahead of Valentine’s Day and present it as a gift on the 14th?



Do you have any ideas for romantic DIY projects around the house? Have you done anything like this yourself? We’d love to hear your thoughts about how to say “I love you” with home decor and remodelling projects.

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The time has come. You have found your dream home and now it’s time to get packing. This can often be an overwhelming task, and one that takes some elbow grease. However, while packing is hard work, with some planning and thought, it can go off without a hitch. Here are some tips to help you get to your new home with the least amount of blood, sweat and tears.

Start early

One of the biggest keys to a successful move, is to ensure you start early. The sooner you start packing, the easier and better it will be. You can pack up items you know you won’t need prior to your move. These may include seasonal items, guest rooms, basements, and anything else that you know won’t be needed before you leave.

Create a designated packing zone

As difficult as it can be not to spread your packing throughout every inch of your home, try your hardest to contain your packing materials to one specific area of your house. Spending time searching for packing tape and scissors leads to precious packing time. Ensuring all your materials are in one place, will save you time and your sanity. This step will also help reduce stress as the mess will stay as contained as possible.

Label, label, label

This is nonnegotiable. You want and need to know what goes into each box. When labelling the boxes ensure you include the following:

  • The room it belongs
  • What is in the box
  • Note whether it is fragile

Labelling each box properly will make the transition to your new home much simpler, and you will be able to ensure each box ends up in its desired room.

Get boxed up

You are going to need many boxes for your move. Make sure that you invest in boxes that can withstand residential moving. Ensure the boxes you use are in good condition, sturdy, and high quality. While it’s tempting to scour the neighbourhood for cheap alternatives, if your items end up on the ground in pieces, you will wish you hadn’t cut corners.

Purge what you don’t need

While it can be challenging to say goodbye to items, moving is the perfect opportunity to clean out what you no longer need. Take a good look at your belongings and access whether you need to take it with you to your new home. Chances are, if you haven’t used it in six months or more, it’s time to part ways.

Make a moving day kit

On the day of the move, make sure you have a “do not” pack list. This includes items that you know you will need the day you move, such as: toothbrushes, toiletries, change of clothing, toilet paper, coffee maker, etc. Having these items on hand will help you settle in for the night without having to scour through boxes after a long day.

Check the rooms

When the final days or hours arrive, you are likely going to be on a bit of a packing spree. This will cover all the items you need before the day of the move. Make sure you go room by room and pack as much as you can. Have somebody else do a once over on each room to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything. This includes searching areas like the backs of closets, under the bed, and the back of cabinets. The last thing you want to do is leave a treasured item behind!


Moving can be overwhelming. However, keep in mind your destination, and hopefully the excitement of your new home will help to keep you motivated and energized.

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When it comes to your home, you want to ensure that it is serving you and your family in the best way possible. And while it is important that your home should work for you, there are some things that you can do to help your home work better for the environment. These don’t have to be large investments, although some can be. But, rather, simple ways that you can incorporate a greener way of life in your home and for the future. Here are a few tips to helps your home shine a brighter shade of green.


Get rid of plastic

While many of us have already replaced our plastic grocery bags for reusable options, it is important to ensure you keep these stored somewhere convenient, so they don’t get forgotten during grocery outings. Consider using metal containers for storing and transporting food in place of plastic bags and wax paper is an excellent alternative to plastic wrap.


Consider smart appliances

It likely isn't feasible to purchase brand new appliances for every room in your home, technology has made going green a simple and more affordable process. With a variety of gadgets from smart appliances, thermostats and motion sensors that turn lights on and off, you have many cost-effective options to help your home become more environmentally friendly.


Paint wisely

If you are ready to tackle that painting project, make sure you choose the right paint. It’s best to go for low or zero VOC paint in order to improve the air quality in your home. While the smell of paint can be pleasing, that aroma is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted into the air and can lead to health problems.


Reuse and Recycle

To make recycling easier, create a designated space for all recyclable items. By making it easier to access, you and your family are more likely to put applicable materials into the recycling bin instead of the trash can. When you can, reuse items or repurpose them. If you can’t bring new life to items, such as furniture, consider donating to others.


Use available resources

To reduce items that go into the landfill, The City of St. Albert makes sorting organics easy and efficient. Use the services available by implementing your green and black bins correctly. For full information on what items go where, visit the City of St. Albert.


Update your lighting

A large amount of our home energy bill goes toward lighting. An inexpensive and simple way to reduce your bill and help your contribution to the environment is to replace all your bulbs with LED light bulbs. Because these new bulbs last much longer, fewer end up in the landfill. With a variety of options, you are sure to find one that fits your needs and your style.


When it comes to reducing your environmental footprint, every step helps. By incorporating small changes in your home, you can make a large impact.

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The weather outside is frightful! So, maybe this is the perfect time to tackle those tasks around the home that you have been putting off. Did you set a goal for 2020 to become more organized? Well, if you did, here are some helpful tips to get your home in tip top order.

Start purging

The first step to getting organized is taking time to go through your closets, cabinets and drawers and get rid of items that are no longer needed or used. Separate your piles into three categories: store, keep and trash. This way, you can easily sort through your things and decide where it’s going. When you are finished, each pile can be taken care of accordingly

Store it

Now that you have purged the items that you no longer need or want, it’s time to organize the items you are left with. Use different storage containers in your cabinets and in your drawers, to avoid them becoming a catch all. Avoid using containers with lids for items like bath and kitchen products. You want to make sure that putting things away is as easy as taking it out.

Avoid clutter zones

Where does clutter accumulate in your home? Is it the dining room table? The kitchen island? Rather than having random items landing on spaces where it doesn’t belong, discourage this practice. The best way to do this is by decorating areas where clutter ends up. For example, if your dining table is where it tends to build up, add a floral arrangement and placemats. This will serve as a reminder to put items back where they belong.

Keep a bag handy

How often do you bring out an item of clothing only to put it on, hate it, and hang it back up in the closet? When you have an item that you no longer like, or doesn’t fit properly, rather than placing it back into the space, put it in a bag or container. Once it is full, you are ready to donate. If you have older children, this can be done in their rooms as well.

Make items accessible

When organizing, make sure to keep the items that you use most at the forefront. Keep items that are used less near the back or tucked away in spaces that aren’t as accessible. This way, items are easily located and are more likely to stay where they belong. The harder it is to find things, the messier and more chaotic your drawers and cabinets will become.

Take a good look

Because we spend so much time in our homes, clutter can often become a fixture that we don’t notice. Look at your home from a different perspective. Imagine that you are a visitor and do a once over of your space. This will help you recognize items that are out of place or no longer needed. You may even want to consider taking some photographand reviewing them. Sometimes we just need to look at things through a different lens. Literally!

Answer some questions

It can be hard to let go of things. However, it’s important to ask yourself some questions in order to help organize your home. Have you used it in the last year? If the answer is no, you likely don’t need it any longer. Do you need it, or love it? Again, if the answer is no, it’s time to part ways. Does it fit the life you want to live? If you are holding onto items that no longer fit your lifestyle, then say goodbye.


Getting organized can be daunting. However, if you take some time to purge, you will be amazed at how liberated you feel. And, you may be surprised at how much extra space you have!

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When choosing the perfect shade for your home, there are many factors to consider. From popular trends to personal preferences, there are endless options. One thing you may want to think about prior to tackling the walls, is a certain colour that has been deemed top dog. Yes, there is in fact a crowning, and the Pantone Color of the Year was recently announced. And, we are certain it won’t have you singing the blues; or at least we sure hope it won’t. The hue of the year is PANTONE 19-4052 TCX Classic Blue, and the beautiful tone will surely have homeowners inspired to break out the paintbrushes and incorporate it in some way in their space.


Image via Pantone


Pantone is best known for providing a universal language of colour, which enables individuals to make colour choices throughout any project. Using advanced technology, Pantone provides colour consistency across many different platforms. From graphics to fashion, the Pantone Standards help with providing colour guidelines as well as trend forecasting. Pantone began in 1963 when they introduced the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®. This unique system allows for the reproduction of consistent colour anywhere around the world.


For the last twenty years, the Pantone Color Institute invests an incredible amount of time to studying colour trends that have happened throughout the year. They look at influences such as fashion, marketing and social media. These factors all help to determine which colour will be crowned as the Pantone Color of the Year. The chosen colour is influential in design, fashion and brand marketing.


This year’s winner, PANTONE 19-4052 TCX Classic Blue, is a lovely shade and we will likely be seeing much more of it. Pantone’s website describes the colour as, “a timeless and enduring blue hue elegant in its simplicity.” Colour psychology has found that blue elicits feelings of calmness and serenity. This makes it an ideal colour for your bedroom or bathroom. The colour blue also helps to encourage productivity. Therefore, it is often used in office buildings, board rooms or home offices.


Image via Pinterest


Classic blue is also an excellent option for adding a pop of colour throughout your home. You might want to consider it as an accent wall in your living room, update your cupboards or island in your kitchen, or add some much-needed dimension to a space like your laundry room or mud room. Classic blue, as its name suggests, is a timeless colour choice with a variety of uses throughout your own home.


Image Via Pinterest

 

What do you think about the winner of the Pantone Color of the Year? Are you already on trend in your home? Or, has their choice left you singing the blues? Let us know! We would love to see your spaces and hear your thoughts on this year’s top colour.

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With the arrival of the new year, you may be considering tackling some projects around your home. Perhaps it’s your master bathroom, basement or, most commonly, your kitchen. Often considered the gathering spot of the home, renovating your kitchen is a worthwhile undertaking. However, there are certain upgrades that will give you a larger return on investment. Even if you aren’t planning to sell, it’s a good idea to think ahead and ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Here are four ideas that will pay off.

Grab the paintbrush

It seems obvious, but one of the easiest ways to upgrade your kitchen is to change the paint colour. When choosing a colour, especially for resale, it’s important to consider a palette that will appeal to the masses. For the cost of the paint and some tools, a new coat of paint is sure to give you an excellent return on your investment. Paint provides an instant upgrade and can be easily changed if the colour is not exactly what you had in mind. You can also test out several colours to ensure the one you do pick is just right.


Tackle the cabinets

Depending on your budget, you have a few choices here. The first is to tear out your existing cabinets and replace them with new ones. However, you can also roll up your sleeves and update your current cabinets with paint. Hiring a professional to do this for you is another option as it does take a large amount of time, effort, and elbow grease. Looking for an inexpensive and quick update? Purchase some new pulls and handles for your cabinets and drawers. Voila! A simple and chic new look.


Boost your backsplash

An eye-catching backsplash can do wonders for your kitchen. From white subway tiles to a sleek metallics, your options are endless. You may choose to add a pop of colour with your backsplash or keep it modern with a monochromatic colour scheme. Whatever you choose, make sure it is easy to clean and can withstand the messes that occur in the kitchen. And, remember to have some fun. Since it covers a smaller space, let your creativity run free.


Add some lights

A dated light fixture can keep your space stuck in the 80’s. By adding a beautiful pendant light, or sparkling fixture, your space will be instantly brought into the new decade. Not only do lovely light fixtures look aesthetically pleasing, they also serve a practical purpose. Since the kitchen is often the busiest spot in your home, it should be well lit and be a welcoming space for your family and visitors.


With these tips, you will be spending the new year basking in the beauty of your new kitchen. And, the good news is that you’ll excited to entertain all your friends and family, so you can spend more time in the comfort of your home.

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With the holiday season here, I wanted to take some time to give back to our amazing community. While it is always important to acknowledge the wonderful aspects of our lives, during this time of year, we are even more reminded about how fortunate we are. However, for many, this time of year is filled with hardships and struggles. So, I decided to embark upon a Christmas Community Support Campaign in the week leading up to Christmas. Here is a recap of everything I have been up to this season.


Sunday, December 15

I started the Christmas Community Support Campaign off with helping the St. Albert Kinette Christmas Hamper Campaign. We headed to Save-On-Foods with our large customer service van and filled it with approximately ten shopping carts of much needed groceries. I am honoured to be able to help this amazing charity that provides groceries to nearly 300 St. Albert families during the Christmas season. My heart was full, the van was full, and now many bellies will be full as well.




Monday December 16

For day two of the Christmas Community Support Campaign, I headed to Superstore to do some more grocery shopping. I took to the aisles to fill my cart with food to help Marie Poburan Schools provide food hampers to Sifton School in Edmonton. Thanks to the generous support of the families and staff at Marie Poburan School, over thirty hampers of holiday food was delivered. A huge shout out to the grade four students of Marie Poburan for lending a hand. It was an incredible experience.



 

Tuesday, December 17

To support the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, day three brought me to Costco. I was excited to spend a couple of hours helping raise funds for a great cause. Did you know that every dollar earned during the Kettle Campaign stays in the community? Also, you wouldn’t believe how many friends and clients I ran into during my time at Costco. It was a great experience, and I hope that you consider donating when you see the Salvation Army volunteers around the community.


Wednesday, December 18

In support of the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch, I headed down to The Bookstore on Perron to purchase a bunch of brand-new books to donate to the Digital Link Book Drive. Little Warriors is an incredible organization that is focused on the awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.



I also decided to try something different! As an avid member of the hockey community, I couldn’t help but notice people struggling to get rid of the snow on the outdoor rinks around St. Albert. So, I decided to bring an early Christmas gift to some of the rinks around the community. I headed to Home Depot, purchased some shovels and delivered them. Hopefully they help get rid of the snow and make for more time spent enjoying the ice rather than cleaning it off.


Thursday, December 19

Day five! I put some miles on the company service van to help deliver a truckload of books to the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch. It was incredible to see all the boxes and we estimate that between 8,000-10,000 books were collected by the community. The books brought to the Be Brave Ranch will quadruple the number of books they currently have. The children will have an amazing surprise when they return to the ranch after Christmas.




It was an amazing week and I am grateful that I can support and give back to the community I love. From the entire team and I, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2020!

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As the temperature continues to drop, it’s important to ensure that you are paying close attention to your home. As the snow falls and the wind picks up, this time of year can do a number on your heating bills and to your house. And, there may be one major culprit: your insulation. Insufficient insulation can lead to detrimental effects regarding the structure of your home as well as your health. In order to make sure you have proper insulation, there are signs to keep an eye out for. There are also ways to make sure that your home is keeping your family warm and toasty.

Changes in temperature

Do you find yourself continuously heading to the thermostat to adjust the heat during the winter months? Does it seem like you can never get the temperature to a degree where everyone feels warm and comfortable? Are you layering on the sweaters and blankets? If so, this might be a good indicator that your insulation needs to be replaced.

Sky high energy bills

While there can be several reasons why your energy bill is astronomical, you should consider having your insulation checked if this is the case. If heat is escaping out of the walls or attic space of your home, you are likely paying much more than you should be. Consider where else that money could be spent in your home. The investment of making sure your insulation is up to par is well worth it in the long run.

Leaks and/or mold

One of the most common signs of poor insulation is mold or water damage. If your insulation has become damp, then you are in trouble. You will want to have your insulation replaced immediately. Poor insulation also leads to hindering air flow, which can result in mold. This can be detrimental to both the structure of your home and to your health. If someone in your house suffers from conditions such as asthma, they may find that the colder temperatures impact overall health. Mold is also dangerous when inhaled and can lead to lung conditions due to the hazardous spores it releases.

Frozen pipes

When your insulation is installed properly, your pipes are well protected. However, if this isn’t the case, you run the risk of having issues with frozen pipes, roof and even with your water tank. The last think you want to deal with is a flooded basement during the holidays (or any time!). Therefore, make sure to have your insulation checked by a professional to save you from unwelcome damage and unsightly expenses.


When it comes to the structure of your home, it’s imperative that it is serving you in the best way possible. Investing in proper insulation will ensure you will have a warm home during the winter, and a cool one during the summer. Also, it will save you money and keep you and your family in good health.

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‘Tis the season for holiday lights and decorations. If you are hosting a festive meal during the holidays, you will want to have your home decorated in a warm and inviting way. We have a few holiday decorating tips to make your holidays merry and bright.


Stick to a simple and festive colour palate

For a consistent and cohesive look, choose one or two festive accent colours, or two shades of the same colour, and find simple ways to tie them in to your existing décor. You can accomplish this with ribbons, winter flower displays, patterned pillows, cozy blankets and Christmas stockings. If you’d like to stick to the traditional red and green, try incorporating different hues in the same colour family for an elevated and modern look.


Bring in the warm and the cozy

To turn your home into a warm and inviting haven, try lighting a Christmas scented candle and using warm, dim lighting. You can also replace your lightweight linens with chunky textures, such as knits of velvets, and decorate with warm, fleece throw blankets to keep your guests warm. Rearrange your furniture to face the Christmas tree or fireplace to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere during the holiday season.


Put extra ornaments to good use

Over the years, people can collect more Christmas ornaments than one tree can hold. Instead of cramming them all onto your tree, try using them as tasteful decorations in your home. Place brightly coloured balls in a large apothecary jars of different heights around the house. You can also stack shiny ornaments in a bowl with boughs of evergreen, pinecones and a white string of lights for a beautiful centerpiece. As a decorative window treatment, attach a faux green garland to the top of a windowpane and attach extra ornaments.


Incorporate natural fragrant greenery

The smell of the outdoors can set a festive, wintry mood. Try decorating your holiday table with boxwood cuttings, evergreen sprigs or a poinsettia for texture, colour and fragrance. Attach fresh holly sprigs and magnolia leaves to napkin rings for a sophisticated table setting. Holiday candles can also help set the mood. Why not give a fir-scented candle a try?


Store bought is fine

It is not always essential to have a real tree. Store bought accessories and faux greenery can be perfectly acceptable. Try dressing up your stairway banister with a simple, store-bought garland and weave in some ribbon. Add another across a doorway, mantel or bookshelf and decorate it with holiday cards and photographs. If you would like to add some pizazz, you can upgrade your store-bought wreath with a bow and inexpensive decorations.


By following these simple decorating tips, your home will be beautifully adorned for the holidays.

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When it comes to renovations, some areas of your home will bring in more value than others. Often, the money you put in cannot be recouped when it is time to sell, so it is important to invest in some areas of your home that will bring back the most return on your investment. Here are some areas of your house that you can safely renovate while adding resale value to your home.


Increase light and space

One of the best things a property owner can do to elevate appeal is to increase flow and light in their space. This can be achieved in a few ways. Consider knocking down some walls to extend floor space and brighten up the area. An open floor plan makes your home feel larger and is great for entertaining. Vaulted ceilings can create the illusion of more space, and skylights can add abundant natural light. Adding new large windows can also help bring in sunshine. Each of these options come at various price points.


Increase curb appeal

The curb appeal of your home is incredibly important when it comes time to sell. The first impression of your home will be from the outside looking in. It is said that a good first impression of a home adds five percent to its value. Make sure that exterior paint is in good repair. The driveway should be paved properly, the front steps should be swept, and the lawn space should be well-maintained. If you have a deck, consider adding some stylish furniture and colourful potted plants.


Create a home office

If you have extra space, consider adding a home office. With businesses giving employees more options for telecommuting, this extra space adds value. Make sure there is plenty of desk space,  grounded outlets and even an extra phone line.


Consider adding a deck

Studies have shown that if you add a deck to your home, you will likely recoup up to 80 percent of the cost when it comes time to selling your home. When installing a deck, take the time to plan out unique features such as built-in seating or a fire pit. Using higher quality materials will increase the life of your deck.


Finish your basement

Finishing your basement can easily add resale value to your home. A basement space can be turned into a playroom for the kids or a media room relatively easily. Consider adding a bathroom when you do the remodel, as this can increase the value of the project even more.


There are plenty of different home renovation projects that you can do to increase the resale value of your home. The projects you undertake can make your home more appealing to the buyer, while also adding to the potential that your home will go for more when it is on the market.

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When dealing with a drainage problem in your basement, it may be difficult to determine where the problem is coming from. Could it be a leaky roof, poor drainage or worse, a crack in your foundation? Getting the help of a professional to determine the cause of your drainage issue first is a good idea. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about weeping tile, should you decide to have it installed.


What are weeping tiles?


Weeping tiles are porous 4-inch pipes that discharge underground water. They were originally named weeping tiles back when terracotta tiles were used for drainpipes. Today, the products used are plastic tubes with small slits designed to redirect water away from the home. Weeping tiles were invented by Henry Flagg French. He wrote a book about the subject back in 1859 and was heralded for solving the drain-clogging problem of the era.


How do weeping tiles work?


How weeping tiles work is really quite simple. The plastic pipes are placed, holes side up, into a trench around the perimeter of your home or inside under the basement floor. As ground water rises, it flows through the holes into the pipe. The water then follows the pipe’s incline to discharge away from the house, or into a sump pump where it is pumped away from the house.


Types of weeping tiles


There are two main types of weeping tiles

  • Exterior weeping tile, or French drains, manage water at ground level before it can get into your basement. This system consists of a trench that is sloped away from the house, as well as gravel and pipe. When surface water soaks into the ground, it is filtered through the gravel, then through holes in the pipe and directed away from the house.
  • Interior weeping tile is only used when exterior weeping tile has failed. This system is installed under the basement floor, where water is directed to a sump pump, through the pipes and into an exterior storm sewer. While installing weeping tile beneath a basement floor is like installing one outside, it can be more expensive. The process is similar to installing a sump pump. A 12-inch wide by 12-inch deep trench is cut around the entire perimeter of the basement, and a pipe is placed inside, filled with gravel and covered with concrete.

Weeping tile maintenance


To keep your weeping tile system working efficiently, regular plumbing checks and maintenance are required. There are a few things you can do to help maintain the life of your tile:

  • Clean out leaves from eaves troughs and redirect downspouts away from your house.
  • Keep window wells free of debris and add a cover.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working properly and add a better back-up.
  • Have any slow draining sinks or toilets checked for clogs.
  • Walk around your property to check for pooling water.

Now that you’re an expert, make sure to ask a professional to check your home drainage issue to see if this problem might be resolved with weeping tile!

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With the holiday season upon us, there are many wonderful holiday events to enjoy in and around the city of St. Albert. Here is a list of six great holiday events, which will get you and your family into the holiday spirit!


1. The Magic of Lights


The Magic of Lights is a great way to take in beautiful holiday light displays without having to leave the comfort of your car! This drive-through light display will delight your whole family, while staying warm and dry from the elements.

When: November 22, 2019 – January 4, 2020

Where: Highway 19 & Highway 2, Nisku

Cost: $25 + GST per car


2. Enjoy Light Festival


The Enjoy Light Festival (or ELF), will transform St. Albert’s own Enjoy Center into an enchanted winter wonderland with whimsical lighting displays that will create an interactive and unforgettable experience for guests of all ages!

When: November 21, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Where: The Enjoy Centre

Cost: $9.95 - $19.95 (Children 3 and under free!)


3. Christmas Glow


This year’s Glow theme is “Glow Around the World.” Experience a magical family-friendly indoor wonderland. Enjoy interactive light gardens, illuminated structures, delicious food, festive drinks and daily live entertainment, all under the twinkle of a million lights.

When: November 28, 2019 – January 2, 2020

Where: Edmonton Expo Centre

Cost: $16.99 - $22.99


4. St. Albert Snowflake Festival


Let the holidays begin in Downtown St. Albert! Perron District will light up with the warm glow of Christmas lights. There are festivities for guests of all ages, including a live ice sculpture display, horse drawn wagons and a petting zoo. Santa and his elves will be waiting in Santa’s village to greet children and spread Christmas cheer.

When: Friday, November 22, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Where: Perron Street, St. Albert.

Cost: Free!


5. Winter Whyte Light Up


The Old Strathcona Business Association is turning McIntyre Park into a winter wonderland with a whole host of activities! There will be extended hours at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, Free Santa Photos at the Strathcona Public Library, an 18+ Speakeasy at the ATB Financial Arts Barns, Firepits and S’mores and more!

When: November 20, 2019 from 4 – 7 PM

Where: Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park

Cost: Free


6. Zoominescence


Zoominescence will stage a spectacular exhibition of artistic light installations within the unique setting of the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The festival aims to celebrate light, artistry, imagination and the strong spirit of our community in the winter. There will be beautiful light displays, animals, skating, hot chocolate and fun for the whole family.

When: Every December Weekend, plus December 26

Where: Edmonton Valley Zoo

Cost: $8.50 per adult, $6 per child


With so many holiday events to enjoy in and around St. Albert, there will be no shortage of holiday cheer to go around. What’s your favourite holiday event to attend? Comment below!

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There’s no doubt about it – Winter is here. With that, it’s important to make sure your home’s most important feature throughout the winter – your furnace – will survive the frosty weather. We’ve compiled a list of important considerations to determine if your furnace will survive the coldest months of the year. We also have a few suggestions on how to extend your furnace’s life.

Consider your furnace’s lifespan

Typically, furnaces last about 15 years. If your furnace is older than that, it might be worth thinking about getting a new one before a true deep freeze sets in. Regular maintenance can help keep your furnace in great shape. Make sure to have your furnace looked at by a qualified professional. If the repairs end up being more than half the value of a new furnace, it might be time to think about getting a new one.

Inefficiency

Furnaces that are in their best condition, like new or well-maintained furnaces, operate efficiently. As they get older, performance and furnace efficiency start to drop. Who wants to deal with higher heating bills or uneven heating? Regular maintenance can help avoid these problems. However, if you’ve noticed that your heating bill has already risen, talk about it with a professional. He or she will be able to help you identify the problem.

Unusual noises and smells

If your furnace is making unusual noises (don’t be afraid to get up close to listen) or emitting weird smells, there should be cause for concern. If you hear buzzing, rattling or humming, call a professional to get it inspected right away.


Now that you know what to look out for, here are a few tips on helping your furnace power through Alberta winters.

Keep your air filter clean

When it’s extremely cold outside, your furnace needs all the help it can get to keep your home warm. Having a clean air filter will prevent your furnace from working harder than it needs to.


Hold off setting back your thermostat

We often set our programmable thermostats to a lower temperature while we’re away from home in order to conserve energy. While this may seem like a great idea, it may be more trouble than it's worth in the dead of winter. When it’s freezing outside, it’s harder for your furnace to bring your home back up to the desired room temperature. Keeping your thermostat at a consistent setting until the weather warms up outside might be your best bet.

Ask a neighbour to check on your house when you’re gone

If your furnace goes out during extreme cold weather and you’re not home, your house may be at risk for problems such as frozen pipes. If you’re going on vacation, have a neighbour or family member check on your home to ensure your heat is working. The last thing you want upon arrival is a colossal mess.


We hope these considerations and tips help your furnace survive even our coldest winter months.

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Welcome, November! While some of us may be dreading the return of the cold weather, we are excited to partake in a large list of fun activities in and around St. Albert to keep us warm.


1. Dig In Dining Week


Until November 10th, indulge in St. Albert’s first annual Dig In Dining Week, a gastronomic extravaganza showcasing the culinary talents of St. Albert chefs. Enjoy two and three-course meals at special prices across restaurants in St. Albert. You’re not going to want to miss the chance to try the delicious culinary offerings your city has to offer.


2. Farm Fair International


Also running until November 10th, Farm Fair International is one of Canada’s top agricultural shows. Guests are invited to partake in a wide variety of western entertainment, including a heritage ranch rodeo and stock dog trails. In the Winter Marketplace, visitors can find anything and everything western. Apparel, saddles, home décor and fashion accessories will all be on sale. Saddle up and head on down to Farm Fair International.


3. Six The Musical


Running from November 1st through 24th, the Citadel Theatre is running an interesting historical remake. Six musical remixes 500 years of historical heartbreak by retelling the story of the six wives of Henry VIII and turning it into a seventy-five-minute celebration of girl power. Should be an interesting show!


4. Explore the St. Albert Public Library


The St. Albert Public Library is rife with fun activities for the whole family. From Lego Fun at the Library to Drop in Game Jam, and from Walking Storytime to Teen Tuesdays, the St. Albert public library has a plethora of programs that will be sure to pique an interest among your family members.


5. Just for Laughs Comedy Night in Canada hosted by Rick Mercer


One of the kings of Canadian comedy is coming to the Edmonton area. Rick Mercer, along with several award-winning Canadian comedians, will be on stage at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Friday, November 8th. This year, Just for Laughs is partnering up with Movember, and one dollar from every ticket sale will be donated to Movember Canada to support men’s health.


6. Margaret Atwood: Word after a Word after a Word is Power at the Garneau Theatre


Poet and Novelist, Margaret Atwood is a Canadian literary giant. While millions of readers worldwide know her books cover to cover, few know the woman behind the type. Screening on November 11th and November 14th, this documentary explores Atwood’s interesting life, from her early years as a poet and novelist to her current international success.


7. Country Craft Fair


The Country Craft Fair showcases members of the St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council, with unique works of art for sale. Just in time for the holidays, this beautiful craft show will feature paintings, quilts, glasswork, fibre, floral and paper art, pottery, photography and more. The fair runs on November 16th and 17th. Don’t miss out!  


With such a large list of things to see and do in November, there’s no chance of getting bored. Did we miss any great events happening in November? Comment below.

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The cold weather has officially made a comeback in St. Albert and it’s time to think about ways to prepare your home for the colder months. Here are a few tips for getting your home ready for winter.


Check your furnace


It’s a great idea to have your furnace professionally checked in the fall, before the deep freeze settles upon us. There’s nothing like having your furnace break down in the middle of a cold snap in January. A routine maintenance check will help ensure that your furnace is running efficiently. Depending on the age of your furnace, annual checks may even be included in the sale.


Inspect all windows and doors for leaks


To prevent your home from loosing heat, make sure that all of your windows and doors are properly sealed. Here is where weather stripping can play an important role – check your windows and doorframes and replace them where necessary. If you’re noticing a draft anywhere, caulk any areas that could benefit from it.


Sweep the chimney


If you plan on curling up in front of a roaring fire at any point this winter, it may be a good idea to get your chimney cleaned before entertaining the thought. Have a professional chimney sweep come to clean and inspect your chimney to make sure both the chimney and vents are in good condition before setting a fire. This prevents chimney fires and carbon monoxide from entering your home.


Clean your gutters


It’s a good idea to start the season with clean eaves troughs. That way, when snow begins to melt in the spring, it will have a clear path to escape, avoiding ice damning which could creep under your shingles and eventually into your home. When you are cleaning out the gutters, take a look at the downspouts and make sure that they extend away from your home by at least five feet. This will ensure that water runs away from your house and not towards it.


Inspect the roof


While you are cleaning out the eaves troughs, it’s also a good idea to take a peek at your roof for any missing, loose or damaged shingles. Call in a roofer to help you with the repairs and ask them to check the seal around the chimney and air vents.


Drain your hose and turn off any external faucets


We all use our garden hoses throughout the summer, but it is essential to drain off the hose and turn off the outside tap before the cold settles in. Any water left inside can damage both the faucet and the hose, so make sure to winterize both to prevent any burst pipes.


Trim your bushes and trees


Make sure that any overgrown bushes, shrubs or trees are trimmed back away from the house, especially away from power cables. When the inevitable heavy snowfall hits, this will prevent any potential damage to property or power lines.


With these simple home maintenance steps, your home will be ready for winter in no time. Do you have any suggestions on how to get your home ready for winter? Comment below!

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You may not know, but there is a distinct difference between remodeling and renovating. We are here to break it down for you, so that you can understand the difference, and how it might impact your own home or one you may purchase in the future.


Renovation


According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, renovation means to “restore to a better state (as by repairing or rebuilding)”. In other words, dilapidated buildings or poorly maintained houses are sometimes considered to be in a state of disrepair. To renovate a house or building means to revive that structure from a state of disrepair and bring it into a better, or more beautiful and functional, state of repair.


Renovations can be small, like when you improve on an existing building or house. Or, they can be drastic, like when you gut your home and improve on it greatly. Remember, construction involving renovation often refers to “restoring” or “repairing” an existing structure, replacing the old with the new.


Remodeling


Again, according to Marriam Webster, remodeling means “to alter the structure of”. If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen, you’re looking to change the appearance of it. If you’re doing a kitchen renovation, you’re looking to repair and update it (think, new cabinetry, rather than simply painting it).


Remodels generally work to change the appearance, structure or function of a room. In other words, a remodel aims to improve upon or transform the existing design and layout of a room. Remodeling refers to “changing” or “transforming” a building or a home.


Examples


Let’s say you’re looking to make some improvements to your bathroom.


In a bathroom remodel, you might paint the walls, buy and install a new mirror, change up the door handles and the toilet paper roll holder. You might even go all out and buy a stunning new shower curtain and bath rug. Set up some candles around the edge of the bathtub and you’ve got yourself a newly remodeled bathroom oasis!


With bathroom renovations, on the other hand, you’re looking at a more complex undertaking. That leaky faucet? Switch it up for a nice new energy-efficient and auto-temperature-controlled one. Install a fancy new toilet with a bidet function. Sure, you’ll paint the walls, but not until you’ve gutted them to make the bathroom a little bigger. And while you’re at it, why not install that snazzy new light fixture? Replace the tub entirely for the latest model of shower-tub combo.


Why is this important?


Why is it important to know the difference between a renovation and a remodel? You’ll want to be able to accurately communicate with your general contractor what changes you want to make to your home or building. As you can tell from the above example, there is a huge difference between a remodel and a renovation, which means there are certain costs associated with each type of construction. Finally, now that you know the difference, you can make an informed decision when you are looking for a home that has either been recently been renovated or remodeled.

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The St. Albert clock tower (aka, the Perron Street clock tower) is a beautiful building. It is also one of the most characteristic landmarks of the St. Albert skyline. It is a nice welcomed beacon as you drive past in the morning, and a constant reminder of the time as you drive past on your way home. But do you know the real reason why the St. Albert clock tower was built? You may find it surprising…


Since its construction in 1995, the Perron Street clock tower has been acting as a University of Alberta research facility. Surprising, right?


In the mid-1990s, Dr. Mike Hatzinikolas, a university professor of civil engineering at the University of Alberta, approached the then-mayor of St. Albert, Anita Ratchinsky, with an interesting idea. He was studying how bricks weather and erode over time and needed a new building in order to study the process properly. An older building’s bricks would have already begun the erosion process, so he needed to construct a brand-new building for his research. The mayor and council agreed to his proposal, and the St. Albert clock tower was born.


Construction began in June of 1995 and by September, St. Albert had a brand-new clock tower. While it looked nice on the outside, many residents of St. Albert had no idea of the research implications on the inside. The four walls were constructed using different methods, each displaying a different construction style. Next, Dr. Hatzinkolas and his team hung a series of weights, pendulums and machines to conduct measurements on the structure. The weights were designed to measure the brick’s erosion over time. After about a year, the research team had all the data they needed for their study and left the clock tower to tick along in peace.


After almost 20 years, there was renewed interest in the tower from the University. New engineering professors at the University thought that the tower could still produce valuable data and they wanted to run new and exciting experiments. The researchers brought in new technology to measure the walls and found some interesting results.


A St. Albert Gazette article from January 2013 explains:


“While they cautioned it is still early, their preliminary observations show the south wall of the tower is gaining a significant amount of heat due to solar radiation, sometimes double what current standards dictate. The outside wall is also not contracting as much in the cold compared to the inside walls. To date, the wall has shrunk only one or two millimetres.”


While the clock tower will stand forevermore as an iconic landmark in our city’s downtown, it’s original purpose was for something much more. The pursuit of science!

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Categories:   Market Report Nov 15
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