At Home In The Kitchen

Tamara McIntyre - Good Nature’d Health Food Store

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Digestion and Gut Health

Before eating follow these steps:

  1. Always eat in a calm, tranquil environment. Tension and strain tangle digestion.

  2. Always take a moment to reflect the food that has given its life to nourish your body.

  3. Take 3 deep breaths before beginning to eat.

  4. Consider where your food comes from. If you can’t identify where your food came from should you be consuming it?

  5. Chew slowly and many times. The breakdown of food begins in the mouth, the more you chew the easier it is for your stomach to get the most out of your food and prevent digestive upset.

  6. Eat only when hungry.

There is HOPE!

Following the steps above before eating is step one!

HOPE: Following the acronym HOPE. Which stands for High fibre, Omega Oils, Probiotics and Enzymes is a great way to heal the gut through supplementation. Depending on how severe your gut issues are most people on a western diet should follow the HOPE protocol.

Breakdown HOPE

High Fibre: eating food high in fibre such as flax seed, chia, psyllium fibre, raw fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, plant proteins such as millet, barley and oats. If you are not able to eat enough of these foods, Renewlife makes a great product called Fibresmart. Fibre is important to keep the bowels moving regularly to carry both food stuff and toxins out of the body.

Omega oils: cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, plants like: nuts and seeds, olive oils, flax, borage, primerose and more. Omega Oils are important for reducing inflammation, cellular health, tissue healing, and lubrication. Again, these oils can be supplemented.

Probiotics the fight between good vs evil.

Why are probiotics important? Well, two reasons. One, they help to protect the gut from foreign invaders and two they help balance the gut microbiome. This is important because an imbalance can lead to IBS, leaky gut, autoimmune disease, thyroid issues and more. If you suffer from any of these issues an 80 billion or more multi-strain probiotic is recommended.

Enzymes: Enzymes are the spark of life, they assist our guts in the breakdown and assimilation of our food stuff. They also act as catalysts to help carry nutrients to other areas of the body. We get them naturally from our fruits and vegetables, however if our diet is lacking these foods, then we need to supplement with a multi-enzyme blend.

You Must Report Sale of Your Principal Home

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Important Reminder for Sellers

With tax season upon us, this is an important reminder: if you sold your home in 2018, you must report the sale of your principal residence on your tax return. The following is from an article we published previously.

On October 3rd, 2016 the Government announced a change to the reporting requirements. From the 2016 taxation year and thereafter, when you principal residence, or when you are considered to have sold it, “it must be reported to [Canada Revenue Agency] CRA in order to qualify for the tax exemption.”

Why the Change?

As reported in 2016, the intent of this mandatory reporting, according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, is to:

  • “Improve tax fairness for Canadian homeowners,”

  • Improve compliance and administration of the tax system, and

  • Close this loophole thus preventing foreign investors from flipping homes and fraudulently taking advantage of the capital gains exemption.

To be clear, reporting the sale of investment property and payment of capital gains tax has always been a requirement. But because some have evaded their tax obligations, Canadian residents are now required to report all sales, including their tax-free principal home.

How and What to Report

On the sale of your principal residence, you will be required to complete Schedule 3 and file it with your income tax and benefit return for the taxation year in which the residence has sold. This form will ask for the year the home was acquired, the proceeds of the sale, and a description of the property. Of course, you must own the home, you and your family must ordinarily inhabit it, and you must designate it as your principal residence if the property was your principal residence for every year that you owned it. Understand that you can have only one principal residence in a particular year.

It is likely that requiring the home’s description helps determine its use as a residence and any portion that may have an investment or commercial application.

For sales in 2017 and later, you also have to “complete page 1 of Form T2091 (or Form T1255) if the property you sold was your principal residence for all the years, or for all but one year, that you owned it.” As well, a late filing might raise a red flag and result in a possible audit.

Penalties for Failing to Report

CRA will only allow the tax exemption if you report the sale and the designation, as your principal residence in your tax return.

So what if you forget to Report the Sale?

If you forget to report the sale, you must amend your return though a penalty may apply comprised of $100 “for each month from the original due date to the date your request was made” or $8,000 whichever is less. So claim your exemption and avoid any penalties or even a possible audit by reporting your sale.

$500 Charitable Donation to the Alzheimer's Society from Ashley and Barbara's Refer a Friend Program

One of our happy clients recently referred a friend as part of Barbara and Ashley's Refer a Friend Program. In addition to providing top notch service and helping this new client find their dream home, we also made a donation of $500 to the Alzheimer’s Society Niagara Region which was the charity of the referrer's choice.

Click on the image above to watch the video or click here.

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for January, 2019

For the Niagara Region: 01-Jan-2019 to 31-Jan-2019 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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As seen in the above charts, the real estate market in the Niagara Region is very stable. The number of sales year over year are consistent and generally the prices are increasing at a steady rate. There are a few noticeable % changes (positive and negative) in several municipalities, but the fluctuations can be easily explained by the small sample size. When looking at the 12 month rolling average prices, the market shows a steadier increase in prices.

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls in January 2019 has continued the trend of being higher. The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 8 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Valentine's Day Date Ideas for Any Budget

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The holiday we love to hate and hate to love is fast approaching. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an extravagant night out; simple and thoughtful often beats expensive and impersonal. Decide which budget bracket is realistic for you and plan a romantic night with your special someone.

Under $25.00

It’s true that the best things in life are free. Show your loved one that you care by planning a thoughtful evening that will create long lasting memories.

1. Ice skating and après skate

Search the skate times for your public rink or better yet find an outdoor rink in your neighbourhood. Dust off your old skates or rent a pair (rentals typically range from $5.00- $10.00 per pair). Hold hands and skate around as if you were in the movie Serendipity. Warm up after skating with a nice glass of wine and some cozy blankets at home.

2. Living room Karaoke

No need to head out in the cold to an overpriced Karaoke bar when you can do it in the privacy of your own home. Download a Karaoke app and sing your heart out. The best part about doing Karaoke at home is that no one can hear you screeching out Backstreet Boys and Cher. Plus, the money you save on going out can go towards a bottle of wine.

3. DIY Gifts

Skip the expensive gifts and make your own homemade presents. Some great options are candleholders, personalized photo frames or Valentine’s Day themed baking. If you aren’t crafty or gifted in the kitchen, make a playlist for a little romantic nostalgia.

Ideas under $25
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$25.00 -$50.00

1. Be your own TV Chef!

A home cooked meal almost guarantees admiration. Take a look through old recipes from your favourite TV chef and find one that will dazzle the taste buds of your date.

2. Recreate your first date

Because Valentine’s Day is on a Thursday this year, it only seems fitting to have a “Throwback Thursday” themed date. Depending on how elaborate your first date was you can always scale it back to remain on budget.

3. Local Tourists

Be tourists in your own backyard. Web search “top ten things to do in (name of your city/town)” and see the sites that you never have time to see. Plan to see as many you can (depending on admissions prices), and if you have some wiggle room in your budget then throw in a couple stops at breweries or wine bars.

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Over $150.00

1. Attend a cooking class

As the proverb goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”-- or as we like to say “give a man a lasagna and you feed him for day. Teach a man to make a lasagna and (hopefully) he will make it for a lifetime.” There is truly nothing more romantic than sipping on wine and cooking together. Take a look at cooking classes in your area, the average price ranges from $75.00- $200.00 for making a full-course Italian meal.

2. Scavenger hunt / restaurant crawl

Why sit still at one restaurant when you can cruise around from place to place? Instead of eating one big meal, sit at the bar and have a few appetisers at a couple of the restaurants on your list. Make a fun scavenger hunt with challenges for you and your partner to do at each place. Some fun challenges to add to your list are:

  • Strike up a conversation with a stranger

  • Take a selfie with the bar staff

  • Take a shot in a restaurant/bar you’ve never been to

3. Get scared

Find something neither of you have done before such as a trapeze class, comedy/improv or a singing lesson. Not only will it be hilarious to scare the pants off your partner, it will be a great bonding activity for you both. The average price of a trapeze class is $75.00 for a private 1-hour class.

Video/Audio Surveillance of Buyers: Not Cool!

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What Buyers Want Viewing Homes

Most buyers, when viewing a home, want to feel comfortable and relaxed so they can focus on looking at the home and what it has to offer.

Anything that makes them feel discomfort or at all uneasy will detract from the showing.

Four Behaviours Seller Should Avoid:

  1. When the sellers are home, buyers can feel constrained as they can’t speak freely with their sales representative or between themselves.

  2. Even if sellers do their best to stay out of the way, buyers might take less than the time needed to have a good look and get a good feel for the home.

  3. In some cases the sellers’ dog follows the buyers around. In spite of the sellers’ insistence that the dog is friendly one of two things can happen: the buyers are looking down and behind not sure whether the dog might nip at them; or they give the dog playful attention.

  4. To add to the discomfort, some sellers shadow the buyers and follow or lead the buyers around pointing out all the wonderful things they’ve done to the house. They seem unaware that they are coming off somewhat aggressive and, if anything, turning the buyers off.

Today’s Surveillance Technology in Homes Calls for Caution

Home surveillance devices are becoming increasingly common and this too can make buyers uncomfortable. What’s more, if buyers and their reps aren’t aware of video and/or audio scrutiny, they might say something that can give sellers an advantage when negotiating; or even say something that might offend sellers.

RECO (The Real Estate Council of Ontario) has advised salespeople “to caution homebuyers…that there may be a recording device in the home.”

Buyers Deserve a Little Time, Space and Privacy

In most of these scenarios, buyers are distracted from looking at the house. With surveillance, they can also feel a bit creepy. Their reason for being there in the first place is to determine whether the home suits them and is worth buying. So they might find surveillance offensive.

With homes being the biggest purchase in most people’s lives, they deserve a little privacy and freedom to view without feeling impaired. They are, after all, accompanied by their licensed real estate person. What’s more, most often they have looked at the pictures, read the information and discussed the property before viewing. Now they simply want to take a hassle-free look, see whether they get a positive feel for the home, as well as voice concerns or questions their REALTOR® can get answers to in a timely manner.

Realtors® are Wise To Advise Sellers

REALTORS® already ask sellers not to be present during showings. They should also ask whether they have video/audio devices that buyers should be told about in advance of seeing the home. Understanding honoring that buyers prefer a certain level of privacy is also a good marketing practice and can promote showings. Looking over a buyer’s shoulder by any means is anything but cool. Allow them to converse with themselves and their salesperson while viewing, even opening the cupboards to see how much room they would have for storage.

Local Cold Remedies from Around the World

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“In Canada, the peak times for colds are at the start of school in the fall, in mid-winter, and again in early spring. Adults catch approximately 2 to 4 colds a year, and children catch even more.”

Coughing, sneezing and fevers- oh my! ‘Tis the season to get sick, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, the winter cold takes no mercy. Between chugging cough syrup to eating nothing but lozenges it can feel like nothing will work. Ready to try something a little different? Take a world tour of some weird and wacky cold remedies from around the globe.

Snail Syrup, Germany

A little different to maple syrup, snail syrup is used in Germany to soothe sore throats. The syrup is made of snail extract (not the whole snail), just the slime from the trail. You’ll never know if it works if you don’t try!

Raw Garlic, Russia

If you are about to go on a date, then maybe don’t try this one! Eating raw garlic or having plates of chopped garlic around the house is a common cold remedy in Russia. Parents will put garlic cloves in their children’s pockets to fend off colds (and vampires, of course).

Salty Liquorice, Netherlands

The Dutch have a special salty treat called “salmiak liquorice” which has surprising healing powers. The salt and the liquorice root mix together to make a soothing throat lozenge. Plus, if you like liquorice then you’re basically just eating candy while curing your cold!

Dried lizard soup, Hong Kong

What do you get when you mix dried lizards, yams and dates? You get a popular cure for the common cold in Hong Kong. The catch is you have to both genders of lizard in one soup for it to work. Would you give this a try?

Turmeric Milk, India

This is like hot cocoa but different in almost every way. Add turmeric, ginger, honey and peppercorns to some warm milk and say bye-bye to your cold. Turmeric is a super food so if you like the taste sprinkle it on pretty much everything (maybe not ice cream but you get the idea).

At Home With Barbara and Ashley Survey Results

In November, 2018 we asked you to participate in our “At Home with Barbara and Ashley Survey.” We had 45 people complete the questionnaire. Here are the results.

Question 1: Would you prefer a walk-in shower or a bath tub?

67% of respondents preferred to have a walk-in shower.

Question 2: How much more would you expect to pay for another garage bay? ($1,000 - $8,000)

Based on the responses, the average was:


Question 3: How much more would you expect to pay for an in-ground pool? ($1,000 - $8,000)

Based on the responses, the average was:


Question 4: How many bedrooms do you need in a home?

60% of respondents said they only needed 3 bedrooms.

Question 5: Is a basement bedroom of value to you?

61% of respondents said "Yes."

Question 6: What interior paint colour will you paint your next home?

36% of respondents said a shade of grey. Responses also included generic "Neutral tones."

Barbara and Ashley's Refer a Friend Program - $500 Donation to BIC Church

One of our happy clients recently referred a friend as part of Barbara and Ashley's Refer a Friend Program. In addition to providing top notch service and helping this new client find their dream home, we also made a donation of $500 to the BIC Church in Port Colborne which was the charity of the referrer's choice.

The BIC church in Port Colborne is more than just a church. They offer many programs throughout the community to people of all ages. They value  integrity in relationships and mutual accountability in an atmosphere of grace, love, and acceptance. They were thrilled to receive this donation and will be using it to purchase new equipment for their youth programs.

Wondering how you can help your community? If you can think of anyone in the area who might be interested in moving in the near future, please refer them to us.  If they list or buy with us, upon the successful completion of their sale, we will make a $500 donation to the charity of your choice, providing you with the charitable tax receipt.

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for December, 2018

For the Niagara Region: 01-Dec-2018 to 31-Dec-2018 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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As seen in the above charts, the real estate market in the Niagara Region is very stable. The number of sales year over year are consistent and generally the prices are increasing at a steady rate. Looking at the December comparison chart, although there are significant swings in several municipalities, when looking at the annual averages (2018 versus 2017) the data shows a steadier market. Only Niagara-on-the-Lake and West Lincoln have shown an annual average drop in sales prices and that can be misleading due to the small sample size and number of sales.

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls in December 2018 has continued the trend of being higher. The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 7 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

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The annual average number of days on market in Niagara Falls is 36 with a slightly slower December which is historically consistent with previous Decembers. The spring 2017 was a very active market, but it has evened out to a steady pace. This is great for people who are looking to sell and buy a new property, giving you time to find the right property for you.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Checklist for Home Renovations

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The start of a new year is a great time to delve into your to-do list and start crossing things off before the motivation starts to slip. Your home reno to-do list might look overwhelming and scary but don’t let the unfinished jobs of 2018 haunt you. Follow this checklist so you can prioritize your home renovations.

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1. Initial Assessment

Clean out anything you don’t need so you can properly assess what needs to be done. This includes getting into the deep, dark corners of your cupboards to check for mold and water damage.

2. Safety First

As nice as it is to dream about that new kitchen backsplash, safety should take top priority when planning renos. Go through this list to see what your top priorities should be:

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3. Develop a Budget

Now that you know what the damage is, establish your budget for repairs. Be realistic and factor in that home renos often cost more than what you originally budgeted for. Remember, you don’t have to fix everything this year, focus on the most important repairs for 2019.

4. Assess your abilities

We are all for DIY but there are some projects you simply shouldn’t do yourself. Decide what you can do yourself and what should be done by a contractor. It can be hard to know what to look for in a good contractor so here is a list of questions to ask a contractor before you hire them:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?

  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?

  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?

  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

  • How flexible are their work schedules?

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5. Enjoy the “fun stuff”

Once all the important projects are taken care of and it’s time for the fun stuff like remodeling and decorating. For a quick but dramatic change, paint/ wallpaper an accent wall. Cleaning/ dusting will work absolute wonders to brighten your house and it won’t cost you a dime.

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6. Remember a post-project analysis

The reality of home renos is that the work is never done. Take note of how much you spent on each project and the date that you completed the renovation. For DIY projects evaluate the time, effort and money spent on the project and assess if next time you should invest in a contractor. If you hired a professional, do a thorough evaluation of the work and projected vs. real costs. Write your post-project analysis down and keep it safe for the next reno so you don’t make the same mistakes twice!

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell in 2019

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­­­It takes time to prepare your home for the marketplace. Here are 5 ways to get your home market ready, attract buyers and fetch your best market price with the fewest hassles.

1. Stage Your Home for Maximum “Showability”

This includes cleaning and getting rid of clutter; depersonalizing by removing an over abundance of family photos; decorating inexpensively such as applying a fresh coat of paint as it can make a big impact; performing maintenance and repairs on the home’s systems (plumbing, heating, air, etc.); and maintaining your home’s exterior curb appeal by keeping the lawn cut and trimmed, even touching up exterior paint.

2. Prepare for a Home Inspection

This step is important because a home inspection can cause a buyer to change his mind or ask for a price reduction. Here are just a few of the items from our 29-point checklist. Divert all water away from the house by making sure the grading slopes away from the house and all downspouts and drains are in proper working order. Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney, windows and doors. Avoid quick, cheap repairs as they can raise questions, unfairly causing great concern to buyers and inspectors.

3. Perform Prelisting Research

A good agent will take the time to make sure important aspects of the home are properly researched. Here are a few of the questions that need to be answered to create transparency and a sale that closes with the fewest hassles, if any. Are the legal description and property taxes correct? Is the lot rectangular or irregular? Are there any encroachments, registered easements, or rights-of-way? Are zoning regulations and uses complied with? Are there any conditional sales contracts, leases, rental agreements or service contracts for furnace, alarm system, hot water tank, propane tank, etc.? If you made any renovations, additions or improvements to the property, was a building permit obtained and has a final inspection been approved? Are you aware of any deficiencies with any fixtures and appliances?

4. Price the Home to Attract Qualified Buyers

A good agent will take an upfront approach when pricing your home to achieve best market price, and will take steps to determine if buyers are ready, willing and financially able to buy. He/she won’t under-price the home, or over-price the home scaring buyers away. He/she will properly research comparable sales and competing listings, then combine experience with appropriate valuation methods. Aside from market conditions, your motivation or reason for selling is a key to your setting a competitive price.

5. Choose the Agent

The importance of a good salesperson has already been mentioned. Moreover you want a full time professional to represent you, one who will provide an array of marketing tools, possess market and product knowledge and employ good negotiating skills on your behalf. You want an agent that is patient, flexible and a good listener, a pro you can count on, and who will cooperate fully with all REALTORS® and their buyers.

Contact Barbara Grumme or Ashley Czinege for your no obligation, free market assessment of your property.

Ashley and Barbara Donate to Heartland Forest

Heartland Forest is a nature education centre whose mission is to provide an interactive nature experience for all, building lifelong connections with nature through dynamic and inspiring programs. With a goal of preservation and sustainability they engage the hearts and minds of their staff, volunteers and visitors.

This year, Barbara Grumme and Ashley Czinege had one of the programme groups create artwork that were used in the creation of Niagara Executive Homes’ holiday cards. In return, Ashley and Barbara donated $1 for every card they sent out to Heartland Forest.

Heartland Forest is a valuable member of the Niagara Falls community and if you would like to find out more about them, visit the nature trails or make a donation, please visit their website at:

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for November, 2018

For the Niagara Region: 01-Nov-2018 to 30-Nov-2018 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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As seen in the above chart, the real estate market in the Niagara Region is very stable. The number of sales year over year are consistent and generally the prices are increasing at a steady rate. The drop in average sales price in four of the municipalities this month compared to the same time last year is not completely representative of the general market. Though there is some balancing out in some areas, sometimes the average prices can be skewed depending on what did or did not sell in a particular month.

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 6 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

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The number of days to sell a residential property in Niagara Falls has been relatively consistent over the past 12 months. The feverish market in the spring of 2017 has calmed and on average, your home in Niagara Falls will sell in approximately 38 days. This is great for people who are looking to sell and buy a new property, giving you time to find the right property for you.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Holiday DIY Decorations

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Get creative this Christmas and try making your own holiday decor/gifts. These three DIYs are easy and quick to make, plus they will make you look a Pinterest master! Are you ready to impress your friends and family?

Let’s get started!

Photo courtesy of Oana Befort

Photo courtesy of Oana Befort

1. Homemade wrapping paper

With wrapping paper this cute, you could wrap up a lump of coal and people will still love it!


  • 1 roll of craft paper (whatever colour you like but we recommend brown for a rustic look)

  • Potatoes (we will explain later)

  • Paint

  • Any stencils or designs you would like to use ( leaves, doilies, etc.)


  1. Lay out your craft paper on a long table or on the floor

  2. Cut potatoes in half and the cut out the design you want on the potato so it acts like a stamp (stick to simple designs like stars and hearts)

  3. Choose your paint colours and dip the potato stamp in the paint to decorate the paper

  4. Get as creative as you like, you can write messages on the paper or just do simple designs

  5. Wrap up your gifts and don’t forget a cute bow!

Photo courtesy of RHBaby and Child

Photo courtesy of RHBaby and Child

2. Mitten Advent Calendar

How is it that, by the end of winter, you somehow end up with at least 5 mismatched mittens? This idea let you take all these sad, single mittens and put them to good use.


  1. Collect all your old mittens (with any luck you won’t have to buy a few more pairs!).

  2. Once you have your 24 mittens, number them and hang them along a railing or bannister.

  3. Put a little gift or chocolate in each mitten for an advent treat each day!

Photo courtesy of Tim & Mary Vidra

Photo courtesy of Tim & Mary Vidra

3. Wine Bottle Holiday Lights

This cute wine bottle light makes for a beautiful decoration-- plus it is a great excuse to drink wine!


  1. Peel the labels off an old wine bottle and clean the bottle ( we recommend using a mix of green and clear bottles as it looks very festive).

  2. Place battery operated fairy lights in bottles.

  3. Group the lights together and enjoy a beautiful, cheerful glow.

Is Cannabis Still a Stigma When Buying?

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What is a Stigmatized Property?

In real estate a stigmatized property can be one that buyers, even tenants, may reject, prefer to avoid or devaluate for reasons not related to its physical condition. Stigmas can include murder, suicide, any criminal activity and some negative public perception not related to a home’s physical condition.

Despite the legalization of marijuana many sellers and buyers view it as a negative. According to a recent survey:

  • 64% of Sellers felt that smoking marijuana in the home would harm its resale value and 57% believe growing the legal limit of four plants would impact on their home’s value negatively.

  • 52% of Buyers said they would not consider buying a home that grew the legal limit.

So, smoking and/or growing cannabis in a home is viewed as a stigma for a majority of buyer and sellers.

Built-in Protections

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More and more, brokerages include a typical clause in agreements in which sellers represent and warrant that during their ownership, the buildings and structures on the property have not been used for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances. We have amended the clause to include the growth or manufacture of legal substances as a reference to marijuana’s new status and its continued negative perception with both buyers and sellers.

How Does This Warranty Effect Rental Property?

As or April 1st, 2018, landlords must use the new mandatory lease agreement for any tenancy from that date forward. Ontario also gives landlords the option to include as a schedule to the new agreement that can include a clause that prohibits the smoking, vaping or growing of cannabis. This restriction, however, cannot be added to tenancy agreements existing prior to April 1.

The Warranty When Selling Income Property

Recently an offer to purchase was presented on a four-unit apartment that included the clause referenced above about the property not being used for the growth or manufacture of legal or illegal substances. As part of the counter offer, the seller and his lawyer deleted the clause for valid reason. As rental units the seller was unaware of the tenants’ activities regarding cannabis. What’s more, with legalization, tenants with rental agreements prior to April 1 are entitled to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, and the landlord has little recourse if any.

Enforcement of Legal or Illegal Limits

Even if a new mandatory lease were in place that included the cannabis restriction, how could a seller warrant that the tenant did not abuse the agreement? It would be risky to do so as enforcement by the Seller is not easy.

Even enforcement by the landlord of limiting growth to four plants might be difficult in some instances.

5 Tasks for a Holiday Ready Home

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With the holidays upon us, it’s time to get your home looking and feeling festive. Here are the five must do’s to get your home holiday ready:

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1. Entrance First

Make a great first impression with a beautiful holiday entrance. Make your own wreath (or buy one if you’re short on time) to display on your front door. Decorate your front entrance way so guests feel instantly festive once they walk in the door. It can make all the difference!

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2. Prepare for elderly guests and babies

One of the nicest things about the holidays is having several generations of friends and family under one roof. Get some baby toys in if you have some little guests coming and ensure that your house is accessible for elderly visitors to prevent any accidents.

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3. Clean the fridge and oven

Both of these seem like small simple things but will make a big difference when you’re cooking and then after the holidays. Your fridge and your oven will be the two busiest spots in your kitchen over the holidays so keep them clean to avoid less clean up post holidays.

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4. Meal Prep

We all focus on the big meals over the holidays but it is easy to forget to stock up on ingredients for the day to day meals. Before all your guests arrive, plan ahead and cook up a week’s worth of food for the freezer so you will always have back up!

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5. Holiday scents

The easiest and best way to get your house ready for the holidays is to get it smelling like the holidays. Use essential oils such as balsam needle, eucalyptus, citrus, cloves and vanilla to create your own holiday scent.

Case Study: Disclosure of Leak and Remedies

A Leak was Discovered, Corrected and Disclosed

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After the deal was firm, the seller noticed a water leak in the basement. He then discovered a crack in the basement wall and had it corrected with a 25-year transferable warranty to the buyers. The insulation on half the height of the basement wall was partially removed and subsequently taped back once the correction to the wall was made. The seller now disclosed it to the buyers.

The Buyers Inspected; Seller Declined Request

On inspecting the remedial work the buyers noticed sweating on the insulation inside the vapor barrier. They became suspect and wanted the seller to remove all of the insulation on the damaged wall, to see whether other cracks existed. The seller declined the request and would not allow the buyers any further inspections. Though not agreed to in the contract, the seller felt they had already generously given the buyer a number additional inspections to measure the kitchen for a renovation quote, and to measure for flooring and other updating plans.

Extended Warranties are Unlikely

The seller said that once the deal closed and the buyers owned the property they could open it up themselves. If by chance other cracks were discovered, which they doubted, the seller suggested they could contact the concrete subcontractor that built the basement and/or the builder of the home. Typically, however, the basement subcontractor gives a 2-year warranty on the foundation and at this point the house is 10 years old. Though unlikely, if any such extended warranty existed, the seller should produce written evidence of its existence and transferability.

The Deal Closed with No Additional Problems

The buyers were instructed to talk to their lawyer. They, however, said that they didn’t want to complicate the matter with lawyers and wanted the sales representatives to help work it out. The respective sales reps, though, could do no more as the seller was firm on his position. On consulting with their lawyer, the buyers closed on the deal and subsequently no further problems were discovered.

Some Take-aways

The seller was forthright in making the buyer aware of the leak, the crack and the fix. As advised, the buyers were wise to close. Under our system, if additional cracks were found they could go after the seller, though the onus would be on them to prove the seller was aware of other cracks. If the buyers chose not to close they could be sued for breach.

Before Closing

Before closing lawyers typically ask if the buyers have performed a final viewing and whether they noticed any issues compared to when they initially saw the house. The buyers then tell about the crack and fix…as well as other concerns should they have any.

Some Possible Solutions:

  1. They can try to negotiate a holdback until they discover if other cracks are present.

  2. They might attempt a price reduction.

They could threaten not to close, leaving them open to legal action: a risky idea. Closing was the right approach.

Are Niagara Region House Prices Dropping?

It’s a Commonly Asked Question Today

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One of the questions homeowners continue to ask lately is, “Are prices dropping?” A legitimate question when they notice “New Price” and “Reduced” stickers on any number of for sale signs, not to mention homes lingering on the market, unsold compared to last year.

To date the answer is “no,” at least prices, that is to say, have not gone down overall. To the end of September, versus the same time last year, the number of sales is down by about 13% to 15%, yet average and median sale prices indicate positive numbers as follows:

  • The overall average price year-to-date for the Niagara Region is up by about 2.6%, and

  • The median price by and large is up by about 4%.

Of course average and median prices cannot determine how any one home or neighbourhood has performed. They do, however, point toward general market conditions and trends. As well, in certain districts within the region and in high-end properties average and median prices are down somewhat.

What has been going down are list prices

The hot seller’s market of 2017 brought about a sizable increase in sale prices. By the end of December 2017, the overall average sale price for the region was up by about 23.8% and the overall median price by 21.2%. Homeowners still have the benefit of this appreciation.

Yet in many cases, sellers this year have overextended their asking prices, possibly thinking that prices were going to continue to rise to a similar degree as last year. Such a strategy has not served them; hence the noticeable number of price reductions and listings that remain unsold. Market conditions change and experience has shown that there is often a delayed reaction to such shifts on the part of sellers.

Some of the following have contributed to this shift:

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  1. The mortgage stress test introduced in January of 2018 caused some buyers to opt out of the market;

  2. Home price increases contributed to reduced affordability;

  3. The number of out of town buyers coming to the region has dropped as sales of single family homes in and around Toronto have gone down as well as their average prices.

  4. Interest rates continue to inch up shrinking affordability and creating buyer concern.

In spite of this, and to reiterate, prices for the most part have gone up, and properly-priced homes continue to sell. Even during the hot seller market overpriced listing prices did not result in a sale. Today properties have to be priced to attract buyers and their representatives.

Fear Can Drive Many Buying Decisions

In a hot seller’s market buyers fear they might lose out. In a slower market buyers fear they might pay too much. They question whether their home purchase will maintain its value.

Preparing for a Power Outage

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You’re familiar with sweater weather, hot chocolate season and the holidays. But this time of year is also the start of storm season. With the cold weather coming in, it is time to start preparing for winter storms and power outages. The best way to avoid a total blackout is to get a backup generator, but you will also need a good stock of supplies to get you through the storm. A storm bin to keep in your home during all seasons, will be especially handy during in the winter time!

Here is our C21 storm prep list:



Candles and flashlights are essential in any storm bin. Make sure you have a lighter/matches and extra batteries in there as well.



Experts recommend four liters of water per person per day in your storm bin. For food you will want to have nonperishable items that are quick and easy to cook. Soup, chili and beans make for great meals. It is worth investing in a small camping stove and a couple of canisters of propane, so you have something to cook on. Throw in some granola bars and snacks in there too just to be safe.



You never know how long the power could be out for and how long you could be without heat. Have extra blankets and sleeping bags readily available to get cozy when the temperature starts to dip.

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Prepare to Work From Home

If there is a big storm forecasted, it could be wise to be ready to work from home. Bring your computer home and save everything just in case the power goes out. You don’t want to come in after a power outage to find all your hard work gone!



In times like these it is important to stay positive and try to find light in a dark situation. Cards and board games are easy to pull out for entertainment while you are camped out in the dark!