Two Huge Recalls to be aware of

Samsung recalling 3 million washing machines

U.S. recall follows similar notice in Canada and Galaxy Note 7 woes

The top is said to have come off this Samsung washing machine Bangor, Penn. (Micah Martin/YouTube)

Fresh from a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phone, Samsung says it is recalling some washing machines because the appliance's top can come off.

A recall of roughly 2.8 million washers covering 34 different models was announced Friday in the United States.

An updated Canadian recall notice for many of the same models, along with some Kenmore brand models built by Samsung, was issued on Nov. 4. Approximately 256,000 of the affected models have been sold in Canada.

Got a Samsung Galaxy Note 7? Mail it back in this flame-proof box
The U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission said Samsung has received 733 reports of washing machines experiencing excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis. The government agency said there have reports of injuries, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder and other impact- or fall-related injuries.

Health Canada said last month that it had not received any consumer reports of incidents or injuries related to the use of washing machines in Canada, while Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. had received 64 reports of the tops detaching in Canada, with 11 reports of minor property damage, and no reports of injuries.

The affected models were all built between March 2011 and this year.

Samsung Electronics Canada has recommended that consumers with affected models should only use the lower speed, delicate cycle when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant material to lessen the risk of property damage or injury.

Last month, Samsung issued a recall for more  2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to an unexplained overheating problems, just two months after the product's launch in August. Samsung subsequently discontinued the device.

1.5 million Kidde NightHawk smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarms recalled

Recall applies to KN-COSM-IBCA and KN-COSM-ICA models manufactured between June 2004 and March 2011

The model and manufacturing information of the recalled smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms is located on the backs of the devices. (Health Canada)

A national recall has been issued for 1.5 million Kidde smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms in Canada because they may not chirp in the case of an emergency.

The recall applies to two Kidde NightHawk models that are hard-wired into a home's electricity and were manufactured between June 2004 and March 2011. The affected models are:

KN-COSM-IBCA, which has a battery backup
KN-COSM-ICA, which doesn't have a battery backup
The issue is the alarm may no longer chirp in the model with battery backup even after the original batteries have been replaced. In the case of the model without battery backup, the chirp may not work if power is removed and then restored.

"This could lead consumers to believe it is still working, which poses a risk to consumers not being alerted to a fire or carbon monoxide incident in their home," said the Health Canada recall notice.

In Canada, there haven't been any reported incidents, according to Health Canada, but there have been eight in the U.S., where 3.6 million units of the models have been sold. Health Canada did not detail in its recall notice the nature of those incidents, but said there have been no injuries.

The alarms are white, round and measure about 13 to 15 centimetres in diameter. The word Kidde is both on the front and back of the devices, while the manufacturing date is on the back and can be thought of as being in the three or four o'clock spot of a traditional clock.

People with the recalled alarms should stop using them and can contact Kidde for a free replacement or a discount on a new alarm.

Kidde Canada can be contacted at 1-888-784-2323 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday to Friday,  or through its website.

12 Hacks to get you through Christmas

1. Warm up plates in the dishwasher

When your oven is even more stuffed than your turkey, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to squeeze in the dinner plates to heat up. Instead, put your dinnerware in the dishwasher for a quick rinse beforehand, and they’ll be the perfect temperature.

2. Keep your Christmas tree perky

Does your tree shed needles quicker than your father-in-law downs that first glass of port? Then move it somewhere cooler. Many of us unthinkingly put our tree by a radiator or fireplace, but all that heat will dry the tree out more quickly. A cool, draughty place, such as a hallway, will mean you don’t spend the whole festive period glued to your vacuum.

3. …or give it a fuller figure

If your tree is looking thin, there is no need to splash out on a new one. Simply buy some dark-green tinsel (as close to the colour of the needles as you can find) and twist it around the tree to give the impression of fuller branches. Once your children have piled on those terrible decorations they made in school, nobody will know. Or just drown it in lametta.

4. Always win at Christmas crackers

If you never get your hands on that covetable key ring bottle opener, here’s what to do. Hold your end of the cracker lower, so it tilts towards you, and go for a slow, controlled pull, with minimum twisting. Mop up your child’s tears when you win.

5. Make friends with your freezer

It might seem early to think about Christmas dinner, but a surprising number of dishes can be made ahead of time. Potatoes, parsnips and stuffing can all be cooked and frozen, then defrosted and reheated in the oven on the day itself. As for red cabbage – it actually tastes much better if you make it a few days before, and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to deepen.

6. Save money on wrapping paper

Christmas wrapping paper can be expensive, especially if you have a large family. Instead, buy a large roll of brown paper and some string. Your presents will look both charmingly old-fashioned and on-trend minimalist chic. If it was good enough for Maria von Trapp, it’s good enough for your Great Aunt Bertha.

7. Whip up an easy Christmas cocktail

Keep a few ingredients on hand to produce a festive cocktail when neighbours or friends unexpectedly pop around. Nigella Lawson’s Poinsettia cocktail is a crowd-pleaser – a bottle of fizz mixed with 500ml cranberry juice, finished with a splash of an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

8. Keep the hangovers at bay

Don’t knock back a Bloody Mary if you wake up the morning after your office party with a sore head. Chinese researchers tested 57 drinks, from herbal tea to milk, and found that the most successful in abating hangover symptoms was… (drum roll, please…) Sprite. Buy a multipack?

9. Recycle tangled lights

We’ve all been there – you excitedly unpack the decorations, only to find the lights are so tangled you’d need a Christmas miracle to rescue them. But don’t throw them out. Find a plant pot that is home to some attractive foliage, and place the twisted strands on the soil. They’ll create a magical soft glow beneath the branches. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out.

10. Soften ice cream instantly

The Christmas pudding is blazing on the table, the mince pies are fresh out of the oven, but your ice cream is harder than a South Pole iceberg. The solution – courtesy of hit show America’s Test Kitchen – is to heat a knife under hot water and slice across the ice cream in a cross-hatch pattern. Then warm a spoon in hot water and dig into the sections. And if your ice cream is always full of nasty ice crystals, keep it farther back in the freezer. Ice cream stored near the door is subject to more fluctuating temperatures, and will continually soften/refreeze – leading to those unpleasant lumps.

11. Be the boss of your roll of Tape

Nothing makes wrapping presents more stressful that constantly scrabbling to find the end of the sticky tape. Slip a paper clip over the end of the tape, and you can wrap in peace. If last year’s leftover wrapping paper is a little rumpled, iron it, reverse side up, on a low heat.

12. And for next year…

Here’s a handy tip when you take down your Christmas lights. Instead of just dumping them in a box, wrap them around a coat hanger, or even a piece of cardboard, and they won’t tangle up when you unearth them next Christmas. Alleluia.

Free Parks Canada 2017 Discovery Pass

Canadians begin ordering their free pass to discovery for Canada 150

National parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas represent the very best that Canada has to offer. They are the essence of our country because they tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples.

As we prepare to celebrate Canada 150 from coast to coast to coast, Parks Canada is thrilled that so many Canadians and people from around the world – over 500,000 in the past week – have already ordered their free Parks Canada 2017 Discovery Pass. Discovery passes will be available throughout the whole year. And as in the past, Discovery passes will also be available at Parks Canada places starting January 1, 2017, and through our partners.

The Parks Canada team looks forward to welcoming Canadians and international visitors at national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas where they can experience Canada’s outdoors, fun for the whole family and memorable ways to get closer to Canada’s history in 2017.

The 2017 Discovery Pass is the free ticket to 365 days of celebration at some of our country’s most amazing destinations. To make the most of this gift from Canada, visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and reserve their stay. Visitors should also consider discovering Parks Canada’s hidden gems or exploring Canada’s favourite national parks during winter, spring or fall. Please visit for trip planning tools and tips.

In managing national parks, Parks Canada is mandated to maintain or restore their ecological integrity, and provide Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy them. While the number of visitors may increase in some places in 2017, Parks Canada remains committed to maintaining its role as a world leader in conservation and in preserving the ecological integrity of these treasured places, now and for future generations. The same holds true for Parks Canada’s commitment to the commemorative integrity of our rich and diverse national historic sites.

“To celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, the Government of Canada is offering the gift of free admission to all Parks Canada places to Canadians. It is fantastic that so many people are excited about free admission and my hope is that every Canadian family will visit a national park, historic site or marine conservation area in 2017.”
Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Quick facts

  • Canadians can also enter online for a chance to win amazing prizes, including a dream Parks Canada vacation to breathtaking Western Newfoundland.
  • To learn more about planning your trip, please visit the Parks Canada website at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for great information about Parks Canada destinations.
  • The Parks Canada campground reservation system launches in January. Visitors are encouraged to reserve early to ensure they have a space and find the perfect spot for their visit.
  • Free admission includes admission to all national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada (day use and front-country use), lockage at the canals administered by Parks Canada on historic waterways, and backcountry day use.
  • Fees for recreational services and goods such as camping and firewood, enhanced interpretation programs or overnight backcountry use will remain in place as will mooring fees for boats.
  • Parks Canada manages a network of 46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals that make up the rich tapestry of Canada’s cultural and natural heritage.

Click Here to Order your FREE 2017 Parks Canada Pass

News release by Parks Canada Agency December 2016

Selling Your Home - Step Six

Negotiating and Counter Offers

Perhaps the price was lower than you were expecting. Maybe the buyers have asked for some extra inclusions. In some cases, you may have multiple offers from different buyers to entertain. This is one stage where you’ll be glad to have a Royal LePage agent by your side to help. Here are some things to consider now:

•   Counter offers – take a good look at what the buyer is asking for, then ask yourself, “Is it worth losing a sale for a minor inclusion like a rug or drapery?” Maybe not. So, the best strategy is to have one. Know ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on and, as far as price goes, how much. Finally, if you feel you’re not going to be able to come to terms, don’t be afraid to reject the offer

•   Multiple offers – you may be in the situation where you receive offers from several buyers. Now, you have the opportunity to compare and decide which offer, based on price and conditions best suits you. Things that could make one offer more attractive than the other are pre-approved financing, the buyer has already sold their existing home or they’ve agreed to all conditions of sale without exception. One thing to keep in mind though is that patience and respect are paramount. Your Royal LePage agent will certainly provide sound advice in this scenario to arrive at the best outcome for you and the fairest to all parties

Now, even though you have a signed the Offer to Purchase, it’s not quite done yet…

Next Article - Closing the Sale

Tips to Make Christmas Decorating Easier - Especially at the Last Minute

We are all busy people and if you observe the holidays it is not the holiday season until homes, stores and town centres are decorated in lights and tinsel.

When entire neighbourhoods are enhanced by lights and animated figurines, the celebratory tone is set and decorations can trigger happy feelings associated with holiday gatherings.

Some people find holiday decorating enjoyable, while others are less enthusiastic about readying their homes for the season.

No matter which group you fall into, the following are some simple tips to make holiday decorating easier.

Plan to decorate on a day when you do not have any other responsibilities. Choose to decorate on a day when you can devote your full attention to decorating. If you prefer to decorate alone, ask a friend to watch the kids or have a spouse take them out of the house for a few hours. If decorating is a family event, find a day when everyone’s schedules are clear.

Take out the decorations the day prior. Hauling boxes and containers from the basement or garage can take a while. Take some time to move all of the decorating items to a main floor of the house the day or night before your decorating marathon. This way you won’t get discouraged or tired by the task even before the real decorating has begun.

Put the tree up first. The Christmas tree is the a focal point of holiday decorations, so set up the tree and decorate it before you get started on decorating the rest of the house. If you do not get to all of your other decorating, at least the tree will be ready and your home will still have some holiday appeal. Once the lights are on, decorating the tree is a great activity for keeping the kids busy while you handle other jobs.

Divide and conquer. Nothing makes holiday decorating go faster than delegating decorating tasks. Assign specific tasks to your helpers. Put one person in charge of decorating the living room while another handles the outside lights, wreaths and inflatable items.

Turn on the tunes. Working to music frequently takes your mind off of the work and will help pass the time more quickly. Have your favourite Christmas playlist at the ready and turn up the volume.

Take some breaks. Working hungry or tired may lead to sloppy work or frustration. There’s little chance of untangling a knot in the lights with your patience intact if you haven’t eaten for hours.

Plan some time for lunch while you sit and rest. Survey the work you’ve done and make a list of the next steps.

Good luck and remember you can do it!!!

Business As Usual on Mountain Slopes, COP Closed Due to Cold Weather

Extreme deep freeze a challenge for skiers and outdoor events, but good news for snow making.

By Dan McGarvey, CBC

WinSport is extending its ski and snowboard hill closure at Canada Olympic Park through Friday as Environment Canada forecasts a high of –23 C and a wind chill that will make it feel like –36 C.

Normal operating hours are expected to resume Saturday and updates will be provided on WinSport's website.

Meanwhile, ski hills in the mountains west of the city remain open for die-hards this weekend despite the biting conditions.

"It's cold in the morning, but as soon as the sun hits the lifts things get better quickly, especially higher up the hill," said Dan Markham with Lake Louise Ski Resort.

"By Saturday we'll have 110 runs open, including three newly opened runs on the lower half of the front side. We're also opening some double black diamond terrain on Friday, including Whitehorn 2 Gullies B&C and North Cornice," Markham said.

A Mount Norquay spokesperson said the cold weather is helping them crank up their efficiencies on snow making and build on conditions there.

"We're actually pretty thankful for the cold. This is catch up time for snow making so it's a good thing," said Norquay's director of sales and marketing, Simon Moffat, who noted Norquay's lifts can run into the deep minus 30s, so operations aren't slowing down.

But he said Norquay's ski programs for kids start this weekend and they could be impacted.

"There's a cut-off temperature so we'll have to wait and see if that affects the camps and lessons this weekend," said Moffat.

Selling Your Home - Step Five

Receiving an Offer

Not all offers are created equal. Fortunately, your real estate agent is there to help you review an Offer to Purchase and discuss all the details. Here are a few things you should do:

•   Get to know the terms – the main factors on most offers will include the price the buyer wants to pay, details about the offer and financing as well as any conditions, inclusions or exclusions the buyer wants to make contingent on the closing. These offers can be “firm” which means that they’re willing to buy the home exactly as it is. Or, the offer could be “conditional” on things like a home inspection, approval of financing or the sale of their existing home

•   Review every detail – it’s not just about price. The buyers may have asked for other things to be included like appliances, draperies or chandeliers. They may have even requested some minor renovations like reshingling your roof or repairing your driveway. Some buyers may have asked for longer or shorter closing periods or made it contingent upon something else like selling their current home. All these factors influence what the offer truly looks like. An experienced Royal LePage agent will help you decide whether to accept, reject or make a counter offer

If you accept, congratulations.
If not, then it’s time to move onto the next step in our series… Negotiating and Counter Offers

7 Free Apps for the Weekend Warrior

These free apps will make trip planning faster and easier and the ability to look back at your trips with a plethora of data is fun!  However, apps should not be relied upon entirely; you should always carry a copy of a map, trail description as well as a compass.  Recently a lot of controversy has surrounded apps that claim to act as avalanche transceivers; the Canadian Avalanche Centre has warned against using these apps.  In the end, when your life is at stake, carrying the proper equipment is well worth the price tag.  The same advice can be extended to these app suggestions, in the right time and place they’re more convenient, but they should not be replacing appropriate reliable equipment. Not to mention, cold weather zaps electronics of battery power, potentially making app usage problematic in the winter. Tip: Keep your device on an inside pocket close to your body.

1.       Weather Network

One of the first things you should do before heading out is check the weather! Often weather in the city is not what will be encountered in the mountains or wherever your adventure is planned for the day.  I’d say 80% of the success of the trip depends on your planning, and taking into account what the weather will be is part of that. The Weather Network app has pretty reliable information for urban and rural centers as well as provincial and national parks.  It offers a forecast right down to the hour, which should be taken with the grain of salt. For example, if their forecasting 30% chance of rain in the afternoon for the Kananaskis Park region, I would plan to take my rain gear! Even though the chance is small, Kananaskis Provincial Park covers a lot of area and mountains can be pretty unpredictable; one valley could be basking in sun while the other being drenched.

2.       On The Snow Ski Report

This is a handy app to check in the winter when trying to decide where to go skiing or boarding or if you need a heads up on whether or not to play hooky from work on a powder day.  It offers up to date snow reports for resorts around the world.  You can select your favorite resorts to appear under My Areas for quick reference. The Powder Points tab offers a quick overview of resorts that have received powder in the last 24 hrs.  My favorite thing about this app is you can set it up to send you automatic notifications if one of your favorite resorts receives a specified amount of new snow. I have mine set at 15cm, anything below that I have trouble getting excited about. The Nearby tab automatically lists all ski areas within a certain radius to your current location.  It even has an option to download trail maps for the ski areas in your My Areas tab! You’ll never get lost again!

3.       Avalanche Report

If you’re more into playing in the backcountry than at the resorts, checking the latest avalanche bulletin should be at the top of your list of trip planning. The Canadian Avalanche Centre does a fantastic job of updating and providing avalanche bulletins for multiple areas in British Columbia and Alberta.  They even make it more accessible by having them all available on an app, no more excuses! If you’re new to the sport of backcountry skiing or snowboarding they have outlined all the essential gear you’ll need to take with you right in the app.  Even more impressive is they’ve teamed up with Mountain Equipment Co-Op, offering easy links to shop for that essential gear online or at your nearest MEC store.

4.       Topographic Maps

It’s always a good idea to have a topographic map and not just a trail description when out on a hike, snowshoe or ski.  Topographic maps give tons of information like when to expect elevation changes and creek crossings.  A paper copy is way more valuable than an electronic version, but one is better than none! My suggestion is to save it as a picture on your device beforehand, that way you’re not relying on GPS or data service. A cool thing about this app is that it allows you to measure distances, and therefore makes it easier to compare different routes.

5.       Map My Hike

This is a handy tool to documenting your adventure. Ever wonder how far you really went? How fast you were hiking? How much elevation gain you conquered? This app will help document all of that. It uses your device’s GPS to track your activity (choose from a huge list including hiking to mountain biking) and records your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and your route traveled.  You can keep a log of all your adventures to track your training or share it with your friends via social media.

6.       All Trails

This app is like a trail guide book in your phone! It uses your current location (or a specified one) to find nearby hiking trails.  You can filter the search on type of activity (select from an extensive list that includes everything from hiking to fly fishing), rating, difficulty, whether it is open now, kid friendly and if dogs or horses are allowed. Once you complete a hike you can keep a log of them and share with your friends! Although not 100% of all hiking and scrambles are included in this app, it has an extensive library to get you started. If you find a trail that you notice isn’t on the app, write up a trail report and submit it!

7.       MEC

Last but not least, if you are unsure about what equipment you need or what to look for, MEC is a great resource.  Their staff are extremely knowledgeable from firsthand experience and their easy to navigate app will have you set up with the right gear in no time! Also it comes with a handy barcode scanner. That’s great for when you see something on your friend and want the same thing or if you get sucked into the MEC vortex and want to see what the damage is before you reach the till.