20 Smart Ways To Enhance Your Front Door Curb Appeal With Flowers

It is time to clean up your front porch and think about your summer look. Here are 20 ways to spruce up your curb appeal.

What’s the first thing people see when they approach your home? Your front door! Since it is highly visible (even from the street), choosing how to style and decorate your front door area could take some planning.

If you want to leave your guests with a good first impression, read on! We’ve come up with several ways you can personalize and decorate your front porch area.

From antique lighting, over-sized planters to welcoming seating areas, we show you a variety of ideas.

One of our favorites is #12, a do-it-yourself flower tower that looks so adorable. Also be sure to check out #20, a unique woven flower bed that’s sure to catch some attention. Go ahead and start browsing the ideas below, you’ll be glad you did when you walk away with some great ideas and inspiration.

1. Antique Light Fixture:

2. Beautiful Barrel Planters on Wheels:

3. Bold and Bright Flower Arrangement:

 4. Bright Topiary:

 5. Oversized Matching Planters

6. Shrubs in Terra Cotta Pots:

7. Stylishly Manicured Shrubs:

8. Tall and Elegant Planters

 9. Warm Lighting and Flower Arrangements:

10. Welcome Home Arrangement: 

11. Bird Bath and Flower Bed:

12: DIY Flower Tower:

13. Flowers in a Charming Chair:

14. Colourful Headboard Flower Planter:

15. Log Flower Bed:

16: Raised Brick Flower Bed:

17: Raised Flower Beds with Lighting:

18: Vertical Flower Bed:

19. Window Flower Bed:

20: Woven Flower Bed:

Pure Maple Syrup Has Some Oh-So-Canadian Health Benefits

Spring is here and that means that the maple trees will start to run.  This natural product tastes delicious, is a great alternative to sugar and it has great health benefits.

Oh, Canada! Our beloved home, and also the home of the liquid gold known the world over as pure maple syrup.

Maple syrup is as Canadian as hockey, snow, and our classic red and white. But did you know that this liquid gold also has genuine nutrition benefits?

Yes, it's almost a dream come true -- the pure maple syrup that we so love DOES have nutritional value!

But let's go back to the roots (pun intended) of how maple syrup was discovered. My dad was a maple syrup harvester for a short time and LOVES telling me the history of pure maple syrup. Early European settlers in the U.S. Northeast and Canada learned about sugar maples from indigenous peoples.

Various legends explain the initial discovery. One is that a tribal chief threw a tomahawk at a tree, sap ran out and his wife boiled venison in the liquid. Another version holds that Native Americans stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch.

It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup because sap is about 98 per cent water. The sugar water is boiled over a wood fire -- and what's left is the brown, sweet syrup with which we're familiar. Some sugar makers heated the sap further, creating crystallized sugar.

So, what is it about maple syrup that has health benefits?

1. It contains antioxidants.

Antioxidants help to fight the damage that toxins and unhealthy habits and foods cause to our bodies, which eventually result in sickness and disease. In a study done comparing the antioxidant capacity of natural sweeteners, pure maple syrup has shown intermediate antioxidant capacity, along with black strap molasses (which actually have the highest antioxidant capacity. White sugar (refined), corn syrup AND agave syrup all showed MINIMAL antioxidant activity.

In fact, pure maple syrup has 24 known antioxidants. When available, choose Grade B maple syrup -- which is darker -- as it has a higher antioxidant capacity.

2. It contains manganese

Pure maple syrup offers a sweet dose of the important mineral, manganese.

Manganese is often overlooked, but it is a vital mineral in our enzymatic systems for carrying out energy production, bone formation, and protein metabolism. Soil mineral loss related to high tech farming has created a depletion of the mineral manganese, making it more necessary to consciously seek ways to increase our intake of this mineral.


Calgary's suburbs are 'no place to grow old,' says researcher

Photo credit: Grant Black Calgary Herald

Published on: March 13, 2017

It was a conversation a decade ago with a friend who worked as an old age psychiatrist that spurred Glenn Miller to research how Canadian suburbs can become age-friendly.

“He said, ‘You planners, you’ve got to do something about a problem I deal with every day,'” Miller said.

The problem Miller’s friend faced again and again was advising patients they shouldn’t be driving anymore.

The doctor had countless stories about adult children doing whatever it took to prevent their parents from getting behind the wheel, from hiding car keys to removing parts of a vehicle so it wouldn’t start.

For many people, being told it’s time to stop driving can end life as they know it.

“The biggest problem is the risk of isolation,” said Miller, a senior associate with the Canadian Urban Institute in Toronto. “Driving is your way to engage with people in the community. You lose the ability to freely go about your daily routine.”

Inspired by the long-ago conversation with his friend, Miller recently authored a 26-page report examining aging and city planning, released last week by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a national think tank.

The report concludes municipalities across the country must rethink development policies to deal with the impact of car-dependent suburbs that leave seniors with limited mobility isolated — a topic that’s especially pertinent to Calgary, a traditional poster child for suburban sprawl.

“It is fair to say that our current suburbs are no place to grow old,” Miller states in the report.

The report states 66 per cent of the Canadian population lives in some form of suburb, a fact that’s troubling when combined with the knowledge one out of every four Canadians will be over the age of 65 in fewer than 25 years, including nearly 1.5 million Canadians who will be over the age of 85.

“We’ve created all these places that were great for the family formation years, when people were raising their kids and driving around here, driving around there,” Miller said.

But, as Canadians age, “they’re in places where they can no longer get to anything easily if they don’t have a car.”

Source Article

Calgary home sales show further signs of recovery in February

Calgary’s housing market continued to find more solid footing in February as sales improved and new listings slowed.

The Calgary Real Estate Board said a surge in the sales of detached homes — up 19 per cent from a year ago to 825 — was behind the recovery. Overall February sales in the city totalled 1,342 units, also 19 per cent better than 2016 but still considerably below long-term averages.

Meanwhile, the number of single-family homes on the market continued to decline, with total inventory down one-third from February 2016 and new listings off 20 per cent, helping to ease downward pressure on home prices, CREB said.

“The transition in the housing market appears to be underway,” CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie said in a release. “However, it is important to note that this change is primarily being driven by improvements in the detached market and stability in the labour market.

“It will take some time for these conditions to translate into all housing segments and achieve price recovery.”

The benchmark price for detached homes was $501,900, 1 per cent lower than February 2016. The median price for single-family homes rose 5.2 per cent, to $492,000, while the average price rose 3 per cent, to $557,061.

The average price across all housing categories rose by 1.2 per cent to $479,648. The median price increased by 1.7 per cent to $427,250.

“There seems to be a new sense of optimism these days,” CREB president David Brown said in the release. “Some sellers are feeling upbeat about the changing landscape and the improved chances of selling their home.

“Other people are looking at the spring market with caution and wondering if we’re going to see a higher than expected surge of listings.”

Excess inventory across all housing types fell last month, CREB said, with the sales-to-new-listings ratio rising to 55 per cent from a near-record low of 39 per cent a year ago. New listings in all categories fell by 15.5 per cent, to 2,457 units.

March 3, 2017 - Calgary Herald

14 Ways To Add Amazing Curb Appeal To Your Home

A little DIY or bring someone in to do it for you. A person's first impression of your home is from the curb. Hence the whole curb appeal thing. It is important to keep your home in tip-top shape. When spring rolls around, it's time to get busy, break out the gardening tools, and make sure your home is up to snuff. Curb appeal isn't just about your garden, though; there are tons of ideas and interesting projects that you can do in order to bring a little life to the front of your home.

In today's day and age, you don't have to be a millionaire to have a magazine-worthy home. There are so many hacks and tricks to adding curb appeal without emptying the bank. To get you started this spring, here are 14 ways to add some curb appeal.

1. Front Door

If your home is in need of some new curb appeal, look no further than your front door. Paint your front door a bright, bold color. You'll be surprised how a little bit of a paint can totally transform your front stoop.

2. Door Knobs

While you're painting your door, give your knobs a little upgrade, too. Gold plated knobs are so dated. Why not try bringing your knobs into this decade with some spray paint?

3. DIY Door Mat

I love cute door mats — you know, the ones will all the clever sayings — but it seems that the more clever they are, the higher the price. After seeing this, I might just make my own! Give your front stoop a little personality by making your own door mat and welcome everyone into your home with a smile!

4. DIY Carriage Garage Door 

If you have a boring, plain garage door, give it a little facelift by turning it into a carriage-style garage door. All you need is some paint, painter's tape, and a decorative garage door hardware kit. You can get the hardware kit from a home improvement store. This is a quick and easy DIY that you could do on a nice, sunny afternoon.

5. Electrical Boxes

If you have siding (especially white siding), your electrical boxes are probably quite the eyesore. They probably stick out like a sore thumb. Camouflage your electrical boxes by painting them the same color as your siding. Much better!

6. Branch Ladder

For great curb appeal, never, ever have a bare porch. Jazz up your porch with a branch ladder. You can switch our your decor based on the season. This is a great DIY for year-long use! 

7. Outdoor Curtains 

Bring your living area outside by adding some curtains to your front porch. This is decor for your porch and, when needed, a little extra privacy. You can purchase curtains, or you can make them by following this tutorial. 

8. Stone Flower Pots 

Give your front porch a little character by making your own stone flower pots. Create this easy and inexpensive DIY project and then plant your favorite flowers in your new pots. You will have your porch looking like something out of Better Homes and Gardens. 

9.  Side Yard

Don't forget the side of your house. Sometimes, this area tends to get neglected. By creating a simple, long flower bed along the sides of your house, you can easily add a little extra curb appeal.

10. Stained Walkway

Snow, salt, rain, and the sun can be hard on your walkway and it can end up looking a little faded. You may not think about this, but giving your walkway a little TLC can really improve the look of your home. Follow this tutorial on how to stain your walkway. I think we can all agree, the after shot shows a nice improvement!

11. House Numbers

Take a new twist on displaying your house numbers and twist some screws into your facade! Using screws and a grid pattern from Photoshop, you can create these DIY house numbers. Easy peasy! Plus, you don't see something like this everyday, so your home will really stand out!

12. Nighttime Curb Appeal

Make sure your curb appeal lasts into the night. A great source of outdoor lighting is key to any fine looking home. Even something as simple as lining your walkway with solar lights can make a huge difference.

13. Replace Gutters And Downspouts

If you have an older home, chances are the gutters and downspouts are in rough shape. You can add some much-needed curb appeal by replacing them or even just giving them a fresh coat of paint.

14. Renew Paint, Siding, And Trim

Sure, paint can be a bit expensive, but if you're really looking to upgrade your home's curb appeal, give it a fresh coat of paint.

Easy DIY Backyard Party Cooler

With just $40 for supplies, standard tools and a free day or two, you can turn your an old fridge into an attractive backyard cooler.

Hosting a ton of people in your yard can be a logistical ordeal, with people constantly running in and out of the house, but with this brilliant DIY mega cooler, you can keep enough drinks and food stocked outside to last the whole evening (read: more time for you to simply enjoy the party!).

This fridge-to-cooler conversion from Matt2 Silver at Instructables looks expensive and complicated, but it's much easier than you'd think! If you've already got an old, broken fridge sitting in your garage, the project should run you only $40 or so, and it doesn't require any special tools beyond standard items like drills, drivers and saws. (Lacking an old fridge? You can find them on Craigslist for fairly cheap as well, according to Matt2 Silver.) The best part: The cooler conversion takes only a day or two from start to finish, so it makes for a nice weekend project!

The reclaimed wood for the outside of the cooler comes from wood pallets that you'll need to break down and process to be the correct length. The refrigerator will need some easy dismantling — basically just taking out the screws and pulling out shelving and electronics (Matt2 Silver includes an important note about not cutting the Freon lines). From there, you can paint the refrigerator (only suggested if it's white and will show through the wood), cover the top and sides with wood and add a base and casters so that your cooler is portable. After all, you'll want to take this sweet cooler everywhere you go to show it off, right?!

For final touches, you'll want to add rope catches so that you can prop up the lids without them going too far, screw on some heavy duty handles to both lids, and attach a chalkboard so you can label what's inside or write a special message to your guests.

You can also use a mini fridge for a smaller-sized cooler that's perfect for a compact patio or deck. YouTube user Elliott used dog-ear redwood fencing for siding on his converted mini cooler and recommends staining or sealing the wood with linseed oil or SuperDeck.

This is the danger of helping your Gen Y kids buy a house

When you look at house prices in markets like Toronto, Vancouver and surrounding areas, you have to wonder about the extent to which parents are helping their adult kids save a down payment. Now, we have an indication. A recent survey by the international bank HSBC found that 37 per cent of millennial home buyers got some financial help from parents.

Here's why that's a bad idea in some cases. According to the HSBC survey, 21 per cent of millennials who recently bought a house borrowed from family after buying to cover unexpected costs. See what you're doing, parents? You're helping your kids into a financial obligation they may not be ready to take on.

I also wonder about the finances of parents giving down payment money to kids. If parents have their retirement savings well in hand, it's fine. But parents should not endanger their own financial well-being to help their kids buy a house, particularly if this help involves taking on debt.

Finally, let's give some millennials credit for a novel way of saving a down payment. Just over one in five reported moving back in with parents to save for a deposit. I like this idea – if you're driven to save for a home, why not explore all options to save as much as you can for a down payment? Even if you pay your parents rent, it should still be less than the exorbitant costs renters are paying in Toronto.

The survey was conducted last fall and involved 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1998.