Here are some great holiday safety tips from our friends at the Calgary Fire Service regarding Christmas trees:
Get a freshly cut tree. It stays green longer and is less of a fire hazard
Consider an artificial tree, they don’t smell as nice, but they are a lot safer
Always test for freshness before buying. A tree with high moisture content is safer. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground. Needles should bend, not break, and the stump should be sticky with resin.
Use a tree stand with a broad base for better balance and a large water reservoir to immerse the tree butt. Make sure the base of the tree is always in water
Do not set up your tree near a heat source such as a radiator, TV, fireplace or heating duct
Never use lit candles on a tree
After the holidays, properly dispose of trees as soon as possible.
Pumpkin purée is the No. 1 use for the fleshy insides of your pumpkin, and it’s super easy to make. Start by cutting your pumpkin down the middle. Scoop out the seeds and guts, and set them aside for later.
Place your pumpkin cut-side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water, and bake for about 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Then, simply scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor.
Once you’ve made your pumpkin purée, it’s ready for use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes, from pies to pancakes. Any extra can be stored in the freezer for several months, which means you can ditch all that canned pumpkin when Christmas comes around. Continue reading →
This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a father of four, who will be taking possession of one side of the duplex Gold Seal Homes is building for Habitat for Humanity (Southern Alberta region). Bill was seen on site all weekend with other volunteers building fences , installing siding and painting walls. We also had volunteers from our local Lions club and members of the Town of Carstairs staff.
Bill has 5 children, Jasmine (12), Josh (11), Brandon (11), Keira (6) and daughter Paige (4). Paige lives with the family part-time. Bill is a single father from Didsbury that looks forward to providing a stable and secure environment for his children. Bill works for Mountain View County in waste management and looks forward to a career that will see him rise to management one day.
Bill seen here building his fence
The home the family currently lives in is small and in need of repairs, Bill sleeps on the sofa so his girls can have their own room. Bill is concerned about safety for his family as the area they currently reside in is not the safest.
His partnership with Habitat Mountain View County Chapter in Carstairs now has Bill hopeful about his children’s futures and they are all very excited that they will finally realize their dream of having a home they can call their own. The kids look forward to having their own rooms and a play space and look forward to getting a new puppy and friend for their pet turtle Iris, who is named after their great-grandmother. Bill’s family and friends are excited and supportive with this new step on the family’s journey to a brighter and better future.
With the help of Habitat for Humanity, a home will provide this wonderful family with the stability they need to achieve their goals and dreams.
This weekend I had the pleasure to meet and work with our two families that have been selected for the Carstairs Habitat homes that Gold Seal Master Builder is coordinating on Mackenzie Way in the Havenfields community. Our first family is a young mother of two:
Amanda has two children, Landon (5) and Emily (3). Amanda is a hometown Carstairs girl who has recently come home from Texas. Her family and friends are overjoyed to have her back home and are excited that she now has the opportunity to provide stability and security for her young children after a difficult few years. Amanda is now on a journey to improve and change her and her children’s lives, and is currently enrolled in a Teacher’s Aide program which she will finish in June.
Amanda lives in fear that she and her children will be homeless as they are currently renting month- to-month and the owners are looking to sell the home. She is unable to afford to move into another rental as her income is limited at this time due to attending school. Amanda volunteers at the local Baptist Church and believes in giving back to the community, believing that that ability to give to others is a wonderful gift to both her and to the people she helps.
The ability to partner with Habitat Mountain View County Chapter in Carstairs is very exciting for Amanda and her family; she is full of gratitude for her family’s new home and is excited to start a new chapter in their lives.
Habitat for Humanity’s theme for World Habitat Day 2012, “Many Homes, One Community,” highlights the vital role that decent, affordable housing plays in community stabilization and development. The focus is on the importance of homeownership in a neighborhood’s progress.
Beginning on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, and continuing throughout October and November, Habitat for Humanity and affiliated organizations will host hundreds of local events — from builds and flash mobs to parades, contests, housing forums and everything in between — to draw attention to the need for safe, decent, affordable shelter for all. The two-month observance of the need for safe, decent and affordable shelter and the pivotal role of housing in community development will culminate with Habitat’s flagship annual event, the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The 29th annual Carter Work Project returns to Haiti as part of its two-year effort to strengthen and support Habitat’s work there.
The United Nations established World Habitat Day in 1985 to spotlight the need for adequate shelter worldwide. On the first Monday in October each year, Habitat for Humanity affiliates and national organizations raise their collective voice, taking action to change the systems, policies and attitudes that lead to poverty housing, and engaging partners in solutions.
The First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit was introduced as part of ‘Canada’s Economic Action Plan’ to assist Canadians in purchasing their first home. It is designed to help recover closing costs, such as legal expenses, inspections, and land transfer taxes, so you can save more for money for a down payment.1
The Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, at current taxation rates, works out to a rebate of $750 for all first-time buyers. After you buy your first home, the credit must be claimed within the year of purchase and it is non-refundable. In addition, the home you purchase must be a ‘qualified’ home, described in more detail below. If you are purchasing a home with a spouse, partner or friend, the combined claim cannot exceed $750.2
Filing your First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit
To receive your $750 claim, you must include it with your personal tax return under line 369.3
How do you qualify for the First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit?
In order to be eligible for the First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, your home must meet the following requirements:
Be within Canada
Be an existing or new home
Be a single, semi, townhouse, mobile home, condo, or apartment
Can include a share in a co-operative housing corporation that gives you possession of the home
You must intend to occupy the home within one year of purchase3
To personally be eligible for the First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, you must also meet the following requirements:
You or your spouse must purchase a qualifying home
The home must be registered in either your name or your spouse’s name
You cannot have owned a home in the previous four years
You cannot have lived in a home owned by your spouse in the previous four years
You must present documents supporting the purchase of the home3
Home Buyers’ Tax Credit for people with disabilities
If you have a disability and are purchasing a home, you do not need to be a first-time home buyer to claim the Home Buyers’ Tax Cedit, where a person with a disability is defined as a person who can claim a disability amount on their tax return in the year the home is purchased. The Home Buyers’ Tax Credit can be claimed if the home purchased is suitable for the disabled person’s needs, and the disabled person occupies the home within one year from the date of purchase.4
“Canada’s Economic Action Plan”. Government of Canada. Government of Canada. Web. 26 November 2010. “2009 First Time Home buyer’s Tax Credit”. Homelegalcost.com. Stephen H. Shub Professional Corporation. 1 January 2008. Web. 26 November 2010. “Fact Sheet: First Time Home buyer’s Tax Credit”. Canada Revenue Agency. Canada Revenue Agency. 25 February 2010. Web. 26 November 2010. “The First-Time Home buyer’s Tax Credit”. Meredith Norton. Remax Shuawap Realty. 26 February 2009. Web. 26 November 2010
Like a new home, Cowboy Boots come in many styles, shapes, sizes and colours. What is the best fit for you?
Well, Stampede season is upon us and it occurred to me that buying a new home is much like getting fitted for some good cowboy boots. Cowboy boots can be a bit more difficult to fit than say your standard sneaker or hiking boot, and buying a new home is much different than looking for an apartment or condo. The reason for this is because cowboy and western boots are made of high quality, rather stiff leathers. Additionally, the boots come in numerous styles – some of which can prove to be quite painful to your toes if you get the wrong type. Homes too come in numerous style and there are many good quality builders that construct their homes with top quality material; definitely something to seek out. So, to help reduce the possibility of foot/house hunting pain, this little guide has been prepared.
Boot Size: In general, you want to get a cowboy boot that is the same or one half-size bigger than what you would normally get in a hiking or work boot. Make sure the home you choose meets your size requirements, and like a boot, make sure there is a little room, not for thicker socks but for unexpected guests or new furniture.
Boot Stiffness: Unlike hiking boots or athletic shoes, cowboy boots are quite stiff and don’t have a “break in” period like other shoes frequently do. Your home builder should be able to provide a home that is trouble-free “right out of the box”. Look for a builder with a good warranty program track record.
Your Toes: Ever take a close look at your toes? Well, the reason you might want to do it is to make sure that the style of cowboy boots you get matches your toes. Thus, if you order pointy toed cowboy boots, make sure that your toes are also aligned in a rather “pointy” fashion if this makes any sense. In general, most people seem to find “boxey” cowboy boot styles to be more comfortable if only because most people, like myself, tend to have “boxey” feet. Like a boot, make sure the home fits your lifestyle. Is there enough room for entertaining, is the yard big enough for your children’s pool and playground, and does the garage have enough room to house all your recreational equipment and have ample storage?
Boot Width: No matter what, make sure that you order the proper width of cowboy boot. Getting a boot that is too narrow is a guaranteed recipe for some considerable foot pain. If you have a wide foot (size EE), make sure that you don’t get a size D (standard size width). If you do, pain will absolutely, positively follow. It is always better to get a slightly wider boot than your shoe size, too, as the socks you wear will take up the extra space. Like the width of a boot, the width of the lot you select to build your home on determines many things. A wider lot allows for more flexibility in home design, wider garages and more room for creative landscaping.
Taking the Science Out of It : There is quite the science out there about fitting boots. In the end, what it ends up coming down to is that you’ll never know if a cowboy boot fits or not until you try it. While knowing your exact foot size (of both feet) and your foot width (of both feet) will take most of the guess-work out of sizing up a cowboy boot, because of the many different styles of cowboy boots on the market – no one pair will ever likely fit the same. Like getting the right fitting boot, take your time selecting a new home plan. Compare the room sizes to those in your current space and your friends houses. Talk to friends and family members about what they like/don’t like about their floor plans.
Once you’ve decided on a boot/home, kick it up a little. Enjoy them, wear them in, and enjoy the comfort that comes from making a good decision!
(thanks to bigskyfishing.com for the use of excerpts of their article)
Windows and exterior doors are subject to the wear and tear that comes from constant use and exposure to the weather. Over time, weatherstripping, hardware and the door and frame materials can deteriorate or fail. Homeowners can either repair or replace window or door units. Repairs can be inexpensive, but may not give good long-term results. Replacement is generally costly, but will provide cost savings in energy use, make your house more comfortable and add to the resale value.
There are a number of factors to consider before making the decision about whether your windows or doors need to be replaced or whether they can simply be repaired.
Some important areas that you will want to consider include:
Style and design — your existing windows and doors may not fit the style of your house or give you the features that you want. There may not be enough glass area to provide adequate natural lighting to the living space.
Components and hardware — the components of windows and doors wear out over time. Failed seals on thermal pane window units, poorly operating windows or doors, damaged screens or hardware and air leaks are common problems. Older door and window hardware may not offer much protection against forced entry.
Structural problems — there may be structural problems that are affecting the operation of doors and windows. Installation of larger units or units in new locations will probably also require structural changes.
Moisture — windows and doors often deteriorate due to moisture problems, which will not necessarily go away if you install new units. In fact, moisture may even get worse, due to reduced air leakage.
Heating and ventilation — the glass area of windows and doors accounts for a high degree of heat loss at night or heat gain when the sun is shining. Energy efficient glazing can reduce heat loss. Heating system modifications or some type of shading may be needed to improve comfort near large window areas.
Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When assessing your renovation project, be sure to consider the five essentials of Healthy Housing™.
House as a System
A house is much more than just four walls and a roof — it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.
Tighter and more energy efficient windows and doors will reduce the heating load on your house, reduce heating costs and improve occupant comfort. Energy efficient glazing can also reduce condensation problems that damage finishes and lead to mold growth. Increased house airtightness can improve energy efficiency, but may also lead to a greater need for mechanical ventilation. A sufficient air supply may also be needed to prevent combustion appliances from backdrafting.
There are many choices available to homeowners who want to upgrade or make changes to the windows or doors in their homes. Taking the time to examine your needs and the options that are available is the right way to start to plan for your renovation or repair job. Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter.
Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta will soon begin construction in the town of Carstairs, the first build in the area and in the Mountain View Chapter of the recently merged affiliate. To date, seven homes have been constructed in Mountain View in the towns of Cremona, Sundre, Didsbury and Olds.
Located on MacKenzie Way, the development will consist of a semi-detached home and is anticipated to be certified Platinum through the Built Green Canada Program, creating a huge benefit to Habitat families by reducing overall costs for utilities and water. Every dollar that can be saved on maintenance and utility costs can be better directed to the necessities of the families and their children. Habitat Southern Alberta will partner with Gold Seal Master Builder to construct the duplex with the assistance of volunteers. Construction is slated to begin in May 2012 and is anticipated to be completed by December 2012. Locally, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta has served more than 130 families, building more than 130 homes. For more information, visit www.habitatsouthernab.ca.
Gold Seal has agreed to build these homes to Habitat standards of safe, decent and affordable. The money saved on keeping the interior finishings decent and affordable are in turn invested in building a high energy-efficient home. As part of Gold Seal’s commitment to safety in the construction of all their homes, we will be installing Fire Sprinkler Systems, a unique feature for a Habitat home.
Gold Seal is proud to carry on its Family tradition of community involvement that spans over 30 years in Carstairs. Our partners have already stepped up to help us make these homes more affordable. We would like to thank the efforts of the following groups in no particular order:
It’s official, Gold Seal Master Builder will be starting two semi-detached bungalows in Carstairs for Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta. After a few years of talks, it was announced yesterday that Habitat SA is pleased with the offer Gold Seal has made to build two affordable, safe and energy efficient homes in the Havenfields community.
The close proximity to Hugh Sutherland School, the Memorial Arena and the fact that Gold Seal is a Built Green builder all were contributing factors. Gold Seal will be building these two homes at a reduced cost and offering up over $60,000 donation of product and services.
Many of Gold Seal’s suppliers have already stepped up to the table with donations. All Weather Windows, whom we have a 23 year relationship with have already constructed all of the energy efficient windows and doors necessary for the project. Uponor (our plumbing pipe manufacturer) has committed to supplying all plumbing materials necessary for potable water services and the fire sprinkler system.
It is interesting to note that this will be the first Habitat home to feature a fire suppression system. Click here to see what Murray has to say about Uponor.
Contributing to Habitat Southern Alberta not only helps support a new home, but also a brighter future for so many deserving families. With each new home, Habitat comes one step closer to its goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. Building with donated time, funds, materials, and professional services is what keeps the cost of Habitat homes within reach for families in need, helping Habitat SA continue to offer a ‘hand-up’ to parents wishing to break the cycle of poverty for their children. Habitat homes help families avoid making impossible choices between rent and other basic necessities by providing them with a mortgage they can afford. An affordable mortgage allows our partner families to ensure their needs are met – including childcare, transportation, groceries, education, school supplies, medical and dental expenses, clothing, furniture, and more.