5 Quick Tips to Save Money in the New Year


The New Year is almost upon us, and as we go through the often expensive holiday season, we might just find ourselves experiencing a “financial hangover” come January. If you want to make up for those hefty holiday purchases by starting the New Year off on the right foot, here are some quick money saving tips for 2018.

  1. Make a Budget, and Stick to it! This sounds simple enough, but despite this many people fail to compile a budget for the New Year, or if they do they fail to stick to it. Sit down and compile a clear budget for 2018. You don’t have to do everything in one day; in fact, it is recommended that you take your time to make sure that everything is workable.
  2. Adapt to Changes! As time goes on and the year progresses, you are bound to face some changes to your financial situation. Whenever a major change occurs – an unexpected expense, a sudden trip, or anything along those lines – be sure to go back to your budget and adjust it. Life is unpredictable and our ability to adapt is crucial, so don’t be afraid of change but be sure to account for it in your budget.
  3. Save for a Rainy Day! Speaking of changes and unforeseen expenses, the best way to deal with such pesky realities is to always expect the unexpected – and to plan for it ahead of time. In case something unexpected happens, such as your car breaking down or your house suffering damage from harsh winter conditions, be sure to have a slush fund ready to go. It is advised to have a sum equivalent to all of your expenses for three months at your disposal, so if you don’t have that kind of money saved up my advice is to start saving now.
  4. Cut Out the Cards! Whether credit or debit, relying on bank cards for your daily purchases will likely lead to spending more money than you planned. Unless you absolutely need to make a larger purchase leave your cards at home and get in the habit of bringing only the exact amount of cash that you are prepared to spend. This will eliminate the type of impulse purchases that you will regret later.
  5. Invest in Yourself! Financial experts suggest that you should take about 6 percent of your monthly income and invest it. Even more than that would be great, but 6 percent every month adds up quickly, and as the years go by and you get closer to retirement, you will be glad that on top of all your other expenses you were also investing in yourself!

I hope that these 5 tips will help you start 2018 off on the right foot! For more financial and real estate tips, feel free to call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.

Save Time and Money on Christmas Decorations



Christmas can be a stressful time for many as we rush to buy all the right gifts before December 25th rolls around. On top of that, we often end up spending far too much money as we scramble to get the Christmas decorations up in and around the house.  To help you save both time and money this holiday season, here are some easy and cheap Christmas decorating tips.

1.       Do you have extra ornaments that don’t fit on the Christmas tree? Use them to make a festive centerpiece by placing them into a bowl on top of branches and greens.

2.      If you have wooden logs lying around the house, stack them somewhere in the living room to contribute to a cozy holiday environment.

3.      Want to spruce up your bookshelves? Wrap your books with leftover wrapping paper and throw in some branches and greens.

4.      Fill your vases with pine boughs for great homely decorations that will give off a wonderful smell.

5.      Make a wreath out of a garland of lush greenery and use it to decorate your windows.

6.      Wrap festive bows over your bannisters.

7.      With the help of twine you can hang paper, wood, or metal stars from the walls or windows.

8.     Fill a vase with walnuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, and other natural goodies and place a pillar candle and holder inside the vase to make a lovely centrepiece.

9.      Use ribbons to hang beautiful natural pinecones throughout the house.

10.  Need charming holiday candlesticks? Find empty bottles of wine, replace the label with wrapping paper and ribbons, and stick a candle inside the bottle.

I hope these quick and cheap decorating tips will help make your holiday season a less stressful and expensive one! For more information about Christmas budgeting and other financial and real estate tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Winter Festival of Lights Returns to Niagara


From November 18th through January 31st Canada’s largest festival of lights will be on full display again right here in Niagara. Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara is renowned for its impressive displays that feature over 2 million lights, and the magical sight is seen each year by about 1.5 million people!

Every November the festival transforms Niagara Falls into a canvas of breathtaking colour with millions of sparkling lights and animated displays located within the Niagara Parks, Dufferin Islands, and surrounding tourist districts.

Illuminations include fifteen Canadian Wildlife displays, over fifty trees wrapped in lights in Dufferin Islands, the world’s largest Canadian-American Flag, the light show on the Toronto Power Generating Station, the two-storey tall Zimmerman Fountain, three-dimensional Angels at the Niagara Parks Police Building, and a visitor favourite, Noah’s Ark.

There are no admission fees to view the illuminations, and the festival features free entertainment programming for visitors, including the Fallsview Sound & Light Show at the Oakes Hotel, Laser Light Shows at the Top of Clifton Hill, and Winter Festival of Lights Opening Ceremonies in Niagara Parks Queen Victoria Park. 

For more information about the Winter Festival of Lights, including a detailed map of the 8km-long route that includes the times and locations for all events and attractions, please visit their website.

Remembrance Day 2017 in Niagara 


Each year on November 11th Canadians come together to remember all of the soldiers who gave their lives in the line of duty since the First World War. On the 11th of November 1918 the signing of the Treaty of Versailles marked the official end of World War I. Referred to at the time as The Great War, World War I was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, and November 11th became a solemn day of remembrance for the fallen. The poppy became the symbol of Remembrance Day in 1921 due to its prominence in the famous poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. 

This year formal Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, so if you want to attend the events and pay tribute to the fallen, here is the information at a glance:

Niagara-on-the-Lake - November 10, 2017


10:00 - 11:15


A commemorative ceremony honoring our brave Canadian soldiers, past and present.


Crossroads Public School


1350 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario


Niagara Falls - November 11, 2017


10:30 - 11:30


On Saturday November 11th @ 10:30 a.m. we will be honouring our Veterans who have passed and the ones still with us. All friends, family and anyone in the area that would like to join us in a beautiful Remembrance Day Service are welcome. Lunch will be served to resident's at 12:00-1:00 McPherson & Rant will entertain at 1:30 p.m. Service is located in the Theatre.


Queenston Place Retirement Residence


6440 Valley Way, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Boost Your Immune System for Winter!


Boosting our immune system is the most effective way to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, and to stay healthy even as one season gives way to another. It is important to remember that the single biggest contributor to a weakened immune system is STRESS. This certainly applies to emotional stress, but it also applies to other aspects of our lives that serve as “stressors” on our body, including:

1. Diet

Nutritional deficiencies are among the most common contributors to a weakened immune system, particularly vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as the deficiencies of good gut flora and reduced levels of stomach acid (which are necessary for absorbing nutrients from our food). Consuming too much processed food, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and sugar also contribute to a deficient diet.

2. Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for balancing our bodies and maintaining a strong immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of natural killer (NK) cells that ward off bacteria and other pathogens, making us more vulnerable to illness.

3. Sugar

Consuming too much sugar has a negative impact on the effectiveness of our white blood cells, which keep us safe from viruses and other foreign invaders. Vitamin C is necessary for white blood cell protection, but because Vitamin C and sugar (glucose) have a similar chemical structure, too much sugar in the bloodstream leads the body to start absorbing sugar instead of Vitamin C and this deprives us of the benefits of Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant.

4. Toxins

The natural role of our immune system is to fight off foreign invaders such as chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. Too much exposure to these harmful elements will cause our system to go into overdrive, which will have a negative impact on its natural ability to defend itself.

5. Negative Emotions

Finally, emotional stress has a very real impact on our physical state. Emotions such as fear, anger, and guilt affect not only our mental state but also our physical ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by causing a spike in cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. Although they still cannot fully explain why, studies show that a positive attitude actually boosts our immune system.

Keeping these factors in mind, effective strategies for boosting our immune system include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Eliminating sugar from our diet
  • Consuming alcohol only in moderation
  • Finding ways to reduce stress
  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and practicing good hygiene in general[1]
  • Consuming plenty of fermented foods and/or probiotics in order to nurture good gut flora
  • Eating a colourful variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

For more information I recommend checking out nutritionist and health wellness consultant Sharlene Styles at www.purenaturalhealth.ca. If you need some extra help, she’s also available for appointments.

[1] Maintaining a clean environment is not only good for your health, but also for the value of your home! In a recent survey by OREA, 7 out of 10 home sellers in Ontario said that ‘cleanliness’ is very important to retaining a home’s future resale value. In comparison, half said that a new/renovated kitchen is very important, while 46% said the same for a renovated bathroom.


Prepare Your Home For Winter: 10 Tips!



Winter is not quite upon us yet, but here in the Niagara region cold weather has a habit of creeping up on us suddenly and without warning. With that in mind, don’t wait too long to prepare your home for winter before the cold temperatures hit. To help you get going, here are 12 quick tips!

1.       If you have wooden windows, check them carefully for decay or rotting. If they are damaged, repair or replace them to keep the heat from escaping your home.

2.      Another way to prevent heat from escaping is to check the weatherstripping on your doors and windows and replace them if required.

3.      Also check the windows themselves for cracks or gaps. If you find that your windows are damaged, repair or replace them before winter.

4.      If there are overgrown branches on your property, make sure that they are not too close to the home or to electrical wires. If they are, be sure to trim them because the weight of snow and ice combined with strong winds could bring these branches down.

5.      If you have stairs on the outside, check to make sure that they are secure. Their integrity is sure to be tested by the ice and snow.

6.      Check carefully to make sure that the firebox and flue system are clear of creosote and/or soot. Also check for cracks to avoid fire hazards.

7.      In order to ensure that your furnace is functioning at full capacity and that the indoor air is clean, check to see the condition of your filters. Clean or replace them as needed.

8.     Always check the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside your home on a regular basis.

9.      Plug up any leaks that you find in the basement, in the attic, or in crawl spaces.

10.   Ice and snow build up can become so heavy that it can cause gutters to collapse. Before winter sets in be sure to check that all of the gutters are properly fastened, and if you notice any sagging or loosening, tighten them up as soon as possible.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these 10 tips will get you well on your way to preparing your home for winter. For more information, feel free to call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.


Budgeting for a Stress-free Christmas


One of the best ways to make sure that your Christmas holidays will be merry and stress-free is to plan out your Christmas budget well ahead of time. It’s easy to stay focused on our day-to-day obligations and put holiday season budgeting on the backburner, but the sooner we get a grip on the Christmas budget, the better it will be for our wallet and for our general sense of well-being in the long run. With that in mind, here are 6 easy tips to help you budget for Christmas in a timely and efficient way.

1. Write it down!

The most simple things are often overlooked, but actually writing out your Christmas budget is very important. Throughout the Christmas season advertisers will spend MILLIONS on targeting your impulse to spend without thinking, so if you want to stay on budget you need to have a concrete battle plan. Write down what you plan to buy and how much you can afford to spend, and review the list on a regular basis to remind yourself.

2. Stick to it!

Now that you have your list, treat it with respect. Look it over often – daily if possible – and make sure that you are not going over budget. Spending more on our loved ones can be tempting, especially during the holiday season, but if you stick to your carefully planned out budget you will be thankful that you did come January.

3. The Price isn’t Everything

In the majority of cases, our loved ones will appreciate the thought and care that goes into a gift far more than its retail price. Children especially don’t value gifts based on price but on the enjoyment that they get out of them. With that in mind, look for presents that are thoughtful and affordable, and forget about expensive jewellery and other overpriced trinkets.

4. Secret Santa is a Money Saver

The tradition of a group of friends or colleagues drawing names and then buying a gift for only one other person in the group can be a huge money saver. This way everyone gets a gift, and everyone saves a lot of money. Consider employing this strategy whenever possible.

5. Do NOT Borrow Money for Christmas!

This seems obvious, but many people will still do it. The whole point of budgeting for your holiday spending is so that you don’t end up in debt come January, which can put a dark cloud over what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. If you catch yourself thinking about borrowing money for your Christmas shopping, THINK AGAIN! 

6. If You REALLY Need Cash, Sell Old Gold and Valuables You No Longer Need

Many of us have old gold and jewellery locked away somewhere inside our homes. If you haven’t worn it in a long time and you don’t plan to wear it in the future (and if there is no significant sentimental value attached), sell your old gold and jewellery and use the money to complete your Christmas shopping without accruing debt. Just be sure to research the current market value of gold and other valuables so that you don’t get ripped off by unscrupulous gold buyers. 

I hope that these 6 quick tips will help you have a healthy, merry, and stress-free Christmas! For more information about Christmas budgeting and other financial and real estate tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

Fun Facts about Pumpkins!



The 14th Annual Heartland Forest Pumpkin Festival will be taking place on October 21st in Niagara Falls, and it will feature fun events and attractions for the entire family, including food trucks, children’s activities and rides, pumpkin carvings, and more. The admission is FREE and Heartland Forest is a beautiful natural sanctuary in the heart of Niagara Falls, so if you haven’t discovered it yet be sure to check it out. For more information click here, but in the meantime let’s look at some fun facts about pumpkins and why they have become such an iconic symbol of Autumn.

1. Pumpkins grow on every continent except for Antarctica, which is made up of barren tundra.

2. The vast majority of pumpkins in North America (around 80%) ripen only during the month of October, so it is no surprise that we associate pumpkins with this particular month.

3. Not all pumpkins are orange. In fact, there are 45 different varieties of pumpkins, and they can also be green, white, yellow, and red.

4. The tradition of carving pumpkins and lighting candles inside them is believed to originate in Ireland, where people would celebrate the Gaelic festival of Samhain by carving faces into turnips, beet and other root vegetables.

5. The name pumpkin comes from the French word pompon, which was adapted from "pepon”, the Greek word for "large melon."

6. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine, and they flattened the strips of pumpkins and dried them and made mats.

As they grow all over the world, have medicinal and nutritional properties, and are steeped in many diverse traditions, it is no wonder that pumpkins continue to be such an iconic symbol of the harvest season and of Autumn in particular. For more information about the pumpkin harvest and pumpkin related events in Niagara, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Importance of Giving Thanks



The Thanksgiving Day holiday in Canada dates all the way back to the 1600s when French settlers first arrived in New France. Thanksgiving began as an annual feast celebrating the end of the harvest season, and according to many historical records these celebrations included the mutual sharing of food between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of the area.  

For most of us in the modern world it is difficult to imagine how important the success of the harvest season was for early settlers, and how crucial their mutually beneficial relationship with the indigenous peoples of Canada was for their very survival. Without modern technology, transportation, and storage facilities one bad harvest could lead to famine and spell disaster for an entire settlement, so the early settlers quickly learned the importance of being thankful for every morsel of food and for every bit of help that they received from their neighbours. Today, with a fully stocked supermarket right around the corner even in the dead of winter, it is easy to forget the importance of being thankful. Nevertheless, even in the modern world giving thanks is still important in our daily lives. Here’s why:

1.      Being grateful and appreciating what we have is good for our health! When we are feeling down we are often reminded by our loved ones to think about everything we should be grateful for, and even some scientific studies have shown that individuals who think about what they can be thankful for on a regular basis are happier and more well-adjusted than those who only think about the things they lack in life.

2.      Being grateful and appreciating the ones we love is good for their health! Expressing our thanks and appreciation for others makes those individuals feel confident and good about themselves, and studies show that people who feel appreciated lead healthier and happier lives. So if you want to do something for your loved ones, remind them how much you cherish and value them and everything they do. We often tend to overlook the little things that important people in our lives do for us, but if we put in more effort into showing our appreciation, this will have a positive impact on our relationships with the ones we care about the most.

Thanksgiving Day is just one day of the year and a wonderful Canadian tradition, but giving thanks and showing appreciation should be a daily activity all year round. Being grateful is good for our health, and for the health of everyone around us, so the best time to start being thankful is right now

For more information about healthy living every day of the year, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Market is Slowing, but We Can Help You Keep Going!


When compared to the same month last year, the August 2017 real estate market did not perform as well as hoped. The number of homes sold has decreased, and in Niagara Falls in particular home sales decreased by 36% compared to the same month last year. On top of that, the average sale price in Niagara Falls dropped by 3%, although the average sale prices in the Niagara Region as a whole increased by 21% since this time last year. Keep in mind that these numbers reflect the true average price of all the sales and may not apply to each property specifically.

So the bad news is that the market has slowed down, but the good news is that this is still a sellers’ market. In my 30 years of real estate experience I have seen many ups and downs in the market, and as the old saying goes “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Ashley and I have powered up our comprehensive market plan and together with our team of experts we are working hard to get your house sold for top dollar. If you are getting impatient and want to increase the chance of getting your house sold sooner, call us today to arrange a meeting. We will put our decades of experience and team of qualified experts to work for you!

For more information, call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.

Quick Fall Checklist for Your Home


As we transition from Summer into Fall, now is the ideal time to take care of important tasks around your home so that you won't have to worry about them in the cold winter months. These tasks are pretty basic and they can save you money on top of making your home a safer place for your family, but they are often overlooked as a result of our already busy schedules. To help with that, here is a quick checklist that will keep you on track:

  • If you use a gas heater, have it inspected by professionals to ensure that everything is running smoothly before the cold sets in. This will save you money, but it will also ensure the safety of everyone inside the home.
  • Speaking of professionals, have them inspect your furnace at least once a year. Once again, this is paramount for both cost-efficiency and safety.
  • Ensure that your furnace filters are clean and functional.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure that it is clean and up to code (beware of soot and creosote build-up). Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the most efficient method.
  • If you use a wood stove, have it inspected for safety hazards.
  • Inspect the roof and clean the gutters before the freezing temperatures set in. If either the roof or the gutters are damaged, these problems will likely get worse in the winter months.
  • Drain irrigation systems and outdoor faucets.
  • Repair any damage to your driveway, steps, and sidewalk before it gets too cold.
  • Seal up any gaps or cracks on your doors and windows before the time comes to crank up the heat. Once the heating bills start rolling in you'll be glad you did.
  • For safety purposes test all smoke and CO detectors, ensure you have a first aid kit and a working fire extinguisher, and remove all potential fire hazards from your home.

Following these common sense steps in the Fall will make your home safer and more cost efficient throughout the Winter season, so do your best to check them all off in a timely manner. For more information about home efficiency and safety, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

Mortgage Rate Updates + Fall Housing Market


Fewer homes in the summer.  Lower average home selling price in the summer.  That’s this year’s headline.  But it could also apply to last year or the year before or the year before that.

What hasn’t been said much is that house prices almost always go up in the Spring and fall during the summer.  This

year isn’t much different.  Except that this Spring, we saw ridiculous price increases in the 20% range.

That’s just not sustainable.  Check out some of these graphs from Canadian Real Estate Association.

This summer, house prices have fallen a little more than average.   And sales are also down compared with the last 2 years.  But listings haven’t increased.  In fact, listings dropped in July signalling we could have reached the bottom.

Hey, if we were in a housing bubble, you would have seen new listings continue to spike up.  That’s when we know the market will have changed gears.


Some are speculating that we could see a busy Fall market this September or October.  The Fall has historically been the 2nd busiest housing market.    If we look at Vancouver in 2016, after they announced their 15% Foreign tax rule, their market went soft and was very quiet.  Many pessimists were saying it was the bubble bursting.

Six months later and Vancouver’s market is busier than ever. Fully recovered.  The initial shock of the Foreign tax rule came and went.   We could see that same sort of comeback for Toronto.


To the Federal govt:  Please, no more mortgage rule changes.  Let the market absorb all the massive changes already made.  Listen, I’m telling you with 28 years of mortgage lending experience.. I can’t recall when qualifying for a mortgage has ever been harder… and I was around during the last real estate recession of 1990.

Non-bank lenders are being penalized as their cost of funds are higher than BIG SIX BANKS (thanks to the new Fed govt mortgage rules), hence driving more customers towards the BANKS… THE WINNERS:  BIG SIX BANKS.  THE LOSERS: CONSUMERS. Let’s bring back competition among Mortgage Lenders… and let’s make mortgage financing accessible again.  The pendulum has swung way too far to the conservative lending side.


The Bank of Canada hiked the Prime rate by 0.25%.  It was headline news for weeks.  Many said this was the 1st of many hikes to come.  Today, the forecast is for a possible October hike.  But that isn’t a sure thing.  And if the uncertainty with the housing market continues or if the NAFTA trade agreement gets turfed like President Trump says, you can bet the Bank of Canada governor will think twice about raising the rates.   More likely a rate drop!

Stay tuned.. Maybe we’ll see a Spring market in the Fall?

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

For more information, please visit: https://canadamortgagenews.ca/2017/08/25/spring-housing-market-in-the-fall-and-what-happened-to-the-bank-of-canada-multiple-rate-hikes/

Niagara Cultural Events at a Glance! 



September is upon us, but even though cottage season is behind us there are plenty of wonderful cultural events happening right here in the Niagara region. Here are some of them at a glance:

New exhibition! Dancing in Circles: Rituals to Classical Ballet

Feb. 11, 2017 to Feb. 3, 2018. Dance serves many functions, from simple pleasure in movement to religious devotion and ritual. This exhibition, drawn from the permanent collection at RiverBrink, includes artists’ renderings of dancers and dances in various forms. Among the Canadian examples include early folk dance and Indigenous performances.

New exhibition! The Group of Seven: A Portfolio of Prints

Opening Spring 2017. The 2003 donation of this portfolio of prints significantly increased the number of works by members of the Group in the RiverBrink collection. The photolithographs, published by Rous & Mann in 1925, were an early project in the history of reproductions of work by Group members in Canada.

Canada at Confederation

May 18 to September 16 2017. The unification of the provinces of British North America as the Dominion of Canada was a significant political event in the early history of Canada. With a special focus on Canada West in the 1850’s and 60’s, this exhibition provides a glimpse of the land and people on the eve of Confederation.

Putting Down Roots

On display May 15 to October 31, 2017. An exhibition exploring settlement, immigration and refuge in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Canada’s 150th. Topics include: First Nations, Loyalists, Black History, Irish immigration, Niagara-on-the-Lake as a Confederate refuge, Home Children, Mennonites, Polish soldiers and more.

Walking Tours

Walking tours of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake Saturdays and Sundays from June through September. Participants meet at the gazebo in Queen’s Royal Park (at the end of King Street) for an hour long walk through town. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the Niagara Historical Museum.

Welland Antique & Artisan Market

Welcome to Niagara’s newest event, the Welland Antique and Artisan Market!! Join us in our love for all things rusty, vintage and handmade. The Welland Antique and Artisan Market will take place Sundays(check our dates) at Welland’s Historic Market Square.  Supporting local artisans, entrepreneurs, artists, and businesses.

Celebration of Nations

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, working closely with Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts & Consultancy and Indigenous community leaders from the Niagara region announce the first Celebration of Nations / Célébration des nations (CN) in downtown St. Catharines from September 8 to 10, 2017.

New exhibition! Dreams and Schemes: Building the Welland Canals

September 14 2017 to January 20 2018. The opening of the Welland Ship Canal in 1932 represented the culmination of more than one hundred years of construction of increasingly complex technical and engineering marvels. This exhibition allows visitors to experience the history of canal-building in Niagara as captured by artists.

Carmel Fine Art and Music Festival

5th Annual Carmel Fine Art and Music Festival presented by Niagara Arts Showcase. This Is THE place to spend the weekend enjoying an incredible array of talent in a variety of mediums of visual and musical arts from all across Ontario. There is something for everyone. September 15 2017, Firemen's Park, Niagara Falls.

For more information and even more events, please visit: http://cniagara.ca/events.

How To Plan Your Winter Garden

It might seem odd to be talking about winter gardening in August, but this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about your winter garden. If you want to grow your own fresh and organic vegetables throughout the year, now is the time to sow the seeds as your plants will need about six months to develop fully. Here are some quick tips on how to plan and start your winter garden now so that you can reap the benefits in the winter months.

1.      Choose your plants. Winter gardening will allow you to eat healthy home-grown vegetables at a time when they are not available locally, and this will also save you money since you won’t have to purchase these vegetables at a premium during the winter months. Certain plants are better suited for winter gardening than others, and broccoli, carrots, beets, arugula, and parsnips are all great options. For more information about the best types of vegetables to grow, consult a seed catalogue.

2.      Preserve excess spring crops for the winter. If you’ve had a bountiful harvest in the spring, you can always freeze the leftovers and use them in the winter months. This works especially well with berries, including raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

3.      Use small pots rather than large garden beds. This makes it easier to protect your seeds and to tend to them (watering, etc.) as the weather gets colder.

4.      Cover your plants with plastic sheeting. If you form structures resembling a plastic tent around your pots, these coverings will act like small greenhouses by conserving heat inside the pot while also protecting the plant from harsh weather conditions.


Although the most valuable gardening lessons are learned through experience, I hope that this quick guide will set you on your way to starting up your own winter garden. For more information about gardening, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.



Oh summer harvest, how I love you so.

This time of year in Niagara is abound with so much bounty, beauty and sunshine (well, there's rain too). I'm guessing (and hoping) that makes for a stellar wine year for Niagara.

Right now, we are at the height of our growing season in and farmers markets are bustling with fresh produce, tender fruit and tons of greens... and zucchini's!

While you may not think of zucchini as being rich in nutrients, it rates very high in The World's Healthiest Foods across all nutrient categories: vitamins, minerals, macronutrients (like fiber and protein) as well as phytonutrients like carotenoids. They rate summer squash as an excellent source of copper and manganese and very good or good source of magnesium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron. Not too shabby!

Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in the skin of a zucchini, so it’s best to keep the skin when eating it. However, most zucchini varieties in North America are genetically modified, so it’s best to purchase it organic.

I find that many of my clients get a little stumped on how to use zucchini in dishes other than grilling it or making a dip with it.

Most people have now heard of or have tried zucchini noodles or 'zoodles' that make a delicious low carb alternative to traditional noodles. Using zoodles in place of pasta has endless possibilites, but if you're tired of the whole zoodle thing or need a little zucchini inspiration, here are some of my favourite ways to use zucchini while they're in the in the height of their season and relatively inexpensive.

For more information and great healthy summer recipes, visit Sharlene Styles by clicking here


4 Quick Tips For Summer Home Maintenance!

Hot summer weather is the perfect time for taking it easy, but even if sunbathing all season long is a tempting prospect, you shouldn’t skip out on performing these important summer home maintenance tasks.

1.      Check Your Windows! In order to keep as much of the summer heat out as possible, regularly check the quality of your windows, including the window sealants. This simple task can go a long way to saving you money on electric bills as the AC works overtime during the hot summer months.

2.      Check Your Air Conditioning! One of the most important summer home maintenance tasks is to make sure that your AC unit is in full working order. Tune up your AC on a regular basis, make sure that the coils and filters are clean, and take special care to prevent any potential fire hazards.

3.      Tune Up Your Pool! If you have a pool, be sure to clean it, level the water, and check the pumps before you use it for swimming this summer. If the pool isn’t clean and the chemicals inside are not balanced properly, instead of being a source of entertainment your pool could become a serious health hazard instead.

4.      Clean Your Gutters! Make sure that your gutters are cleaned every six months to avoid leaks and clogging. Clean gutters are especially important during humid summer temperatures that tend to bring heavy rainstorms. 

If you follow these 4 steps you should be able to relax in the knowledge that your home is ready for the summer heat. If you’d like to learn more about home maintenance and how to increase the value of your home, call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.