The12 Stains of Christmas

Even if your true love made them, you’re not going to want these holiday-season stains. Here’s how to clean them up.

The holidays can bring joyous moments. Those fireplace gatherings also can leave soot behind, decorated trees produce sticky sap, and those bûches de Noël can leave chocolate stains on the tablecloth. But don’t let these things get you down. Here’s how to beat the 12 stains of Christmas.

All Illustrations by Kim Murton

1. Christmas tree sap. 

To remove tree sap from a rug, carpet or fabric, place some dishwashing detergent on your fingertip and rub it into the sap. Continue rubbing until the sap starts to break down. Wipe the area with a wet cloth until all the sap is removed. Then, rinse the entire area with warm water until there’s no sign of the detergent. Allow to air-dry.

2. Candle wax. 

To remove wax on a tablecloth, first rub an ice cube over the wax. Once it has hardened, use a butter knife to scrape off as much as you can. Place a paper bag over the area, and rub a warm iron over it. The wax will liquefy and absorb into the paper. Treat any residue with rubbing alcohol: Let the alcohol sit for 15 minutes; then rub with a bar of soap. Wash the cloth in the washing machine, and air-dry.

3. Soot. 

Whatever you do, don’t try to wipe soot off with a wet cloth or sponge. Soot is very oily, and water and oil just don’t mix. Instead, use a dry sponge to remove as much soot as you can. If you have a few smears that won’t come off, dip a corner of the sponge in rubbing alcohol to remove the remaining soot. You can also purchase an eraser designed to remove soot.

4. Water rings. 

Water from a glass or vase can do damage by leaving noticeable marks on a wood surface. A simple way to remove a water ring is to dip your finger in some regular store-bought mayonnaise and smear it all over the stain. The oil in the mayo will be absorbed into the wood and make the stain disappear. Use a wet cloth to wipe away any remaining mayo on the wood surface.

5. Red wine. 

Some recommend using white wine to remove red wine stains, but why waste good wine on a stain? Instead, sprinkle the stain with table salt to absorb the wine. Then dab the area with a hydrogen peroxide-soaked white rag until the color stops coming off. Then, pour hydrogen peroxide (the standard 3 percent solution found at drugstores) over the area and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The stain will disappear over time.

6. Chocolate. 

To remove chocolate from fabric, rub the stain with an ice cube. This will freeze the chocolate so you can scrape off as much chocolate as possible with a butter knife. Then use a spray bottle filled with club soda to soak the area. Place the back side of the fabric under cool running water to flush the stain out. Finally, rub a drop of dish soap into the area until the stain disappears. Rinse the area well with warm water.

7. Ink. 

Have you ever heard the cleaning tip for removing ink is to spray it with hairspray? The secret ingredient in the hairspray is rubbing alcohol. So save the hairspray for your beauty regimen and instead remove the stain by dabbing it with rubbing alcohol or vodka. It might take a while, but be patient and keep on dabbing and eventually the stain should work its way out. As with any stain, the sooner you do something about it, the better.

8. Dairy. 

Start by blotting the area so that you absorb as much of the liquid as you can. Then dilute the stain with cool water. Don’t use hot water, as that will just essentially cook the milk. Continue blotting the diluted stain until you’ve removed as much as possible. Use a drop of dish detergent on the spot, and work it into the fabric. Continue working it into the stain until it disappears. Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water.

9. Turkey grease. 

Removing greasy stains from any fabric is a simple two-step process: Start with rubbing alcohol or vodka, and pour it over the greasy stain. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and then rub a bar of soap onto the stain. Rub it in further with your fingers, and add a few drops of water to create a lather. Place the fabric into the washing machine, and wash on its usual setting. Let it air-dry, and if the stain remains, repeat the process.

10. Coffee. 

A coffee stain can be removed easily with club soda. To simplify applying the club soda, pour some of it into a spray bottle and then lightly spritz the stain. Work the club soda into the stain with your finger or a soft scrub brush and the stain should immediately start to disappear. If the stain is being stubborn, you can add some borax powder to the club soda to give it a boost. Use a dry cloth to soak up any excess liquid.

11. Lipstick. 

You can remove lipstick the same way you remove candle wax. Place the stained fabric in the freezer so the lipstick hardens. Scrape off as much as you can with a butter knife. Then dab the stain with an alcohol-soaked white cloth. Continue dabbing until you no longer see the color. Run the napkin or fabric in the washer, and let it air-dry. If the stain or oily spot remains, repeat the process until the stain is gone.

12. Blood. 

Fingers sometimes can get in the way of carving knives this time of year. The key to cleaning up blood stains is to get to it as soon as possible. Blood will come off most fabrics with a little soap and cold water, but here’s an even better solution: Simply dab it with hydrogen peroxide. You will be surprised how quickly the stain will fade away. Use a dry cleaning cloth to blot away excess liquid.

Which kitchen flooring is right for you?

Pros and Cons of 5 Popular Kitchen Flooring Materials

Not all kitchen floors are created equal. As much as we’d like every floor to have exceptional durability, a low price tag, superior longevity and sky-high resale value, it just isn’t realistic. If you’re planning to revamp your kitchen floors, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of hardwood, tile, travertine, laminate and vinyl is paramount. We weigh the pros and cons of these five common flooring types to help you select the right option for your lifestyle.

1. Hardwood 

Cost: High

The appeal of a rich cherry or smooth maple never fades. There’s also much to love about hickory, mesquite, oak and walnut. When it comes to flooring, they’re often at the top of the pecking order. Buyers can choose between solid hardwood or engineered hardwood, which is constructed with several layers of wood called plies.

Pros: Just about everyone wants hardwood floors, including home buyers. The resale value is through the roof. Other flooring products can come close but never fully replicate their natural beauty. Hardwood floors have the ability to be refinished and can last for centuries too.

Cons: Hardwood floors aren’t always practical for homeowners who want low-maintenance kitchens. They scratch more easily than other materials and are harder to clean. When exposed to moisture over the long term, they can warp, buckle or crown. And then there’s the price tag. Since quality hardwood floors run from $4 to $12 per square foot, expect to tap into your bank account.

Mix the sizes of your hardwood planks to add dimension to your kitchen. This traditional kitchen has planks with varied widths, but you can also choose planks with different lengths.

Cleaner hardwood styles can blend in well with modern and contemporary designs. Hardwood flooring with a raw, unfinished texture gives this sleek London cooking space a natural midcentury modern touch.

Hardwood floors can also sport contemporary color palettes. This Miami kitchen uses gray oak to ground the ethereal white cabinetry.

Woods with knots, grains and hand-scraped textures have strong character. They can restore a home’s original charm when you’re renovating a fixer-upper.

2. Tile

Cost: Medium-High

Much can be said about the options that tile affords homeowners. Modern printing technology can generate ceramic and porcelain tile surfaces that mimic natural stone (travertine and marble), wood and concrete, plus clean monotone styles. This versatility almost guarantees you’ll find a style you like.

Pros: Moisture is no match for porcelain, which absorbs less water than ceramic. Tile has a hard surface that is uber-durable, especially color body porcelain (where the color runs through the tile instead of being just on the surface). It won’t scratch easily and should last for however long you decide to live in your home. It’s perhaps the easiest floor to clean. It can withstand most detergents, though all you really need is water and a mop. Tile is also well-priced; it’s possible to find a quality porcelain for $4 a square foot or less.

Cons: Tile with a smooth finish can get slick when wet. And despite how durable it is, it can still crack and chip if a heavy object hits its surface. Though standard tile is affordable, plank tile and marble tile can cost nearly as much as wood and stone. Older homeowners and those with foot or knee problems may have difficulty standing on its rock-hard surface.

The porcelain tile in this minimalist kitchen captures the natural movement of marble sans the maintenance. Marble tile and plank tile can be a low-care substitute for real stone and wood.

Plank tile combines the beauty of hardwood with the durability of porcelain and ceramic. As with hardwood, you can mix and match the sizes of your planks to create depth in your kitchen.

3. Travertine

Cost: Medium-High

Travertine is a timeless choice and comes in many forms, including tumbled, honed and filled, chiseled, and polished.

Pros: Travertine has broad appeal to home buyers. It’s highly durable — it’s a lot harder to scratch and chip natural stone than, say, tile or hardwood. Tumbled travertine offers good slip resistance because of its grooved texture. When cared for properly, it can last for ages.

Cons: Travertine may not scratch, but it will stain. Be extra careful with your glass of red wine. Natural stone requires more upkeep than other types of flooring. It must be cleaned with a stone cleaner or mild detergent. You also have to seal it every one to two years to protect its porous surface (some sealers last longer). Perhaps surprisingly, a good travertine floor can cost as much as hardwood. Budget accordingly.

4. Laminate

Cost: Low-Medium

A relatively inexpensive floor, laminate has good bang for its buck. It can spruce up your kitchen at a lower cost than hardwood while providing superior scratch resistance against foot traffic. It’s a viable alternative to hardwood floors, offering realistic wood finishes in a variety of styles.

Pros: If you want to save money, laminate may be for you. Not only is it less expensive than hardwood and tile, but it also has a click-and-lock floating installation system, which is primed for DIY installation.

Cons: Laminate isn’t as equipped to handle moisture as tile and vinyl are (it can warp when wet), so installing it in your kitchen can make the upkeep more challenging. If you do, use a proper moisture barrier. You’ll need a special cleaner and mop to clean it. Laminate also doesn’t have the shelf life that hardwood, tile and vinyl floors do.

5. Vinyl

Cost: Low-Medium

Vinyl flooring is manufactured in three primary forms: vinyl plank (above), vinyl tile and sheet vinyl. It has several installation methods, including peel and stick, glue down, and click and lock. It can look like wood or stone. 

Pros: Unlike tile, vinyl won’t chip, and unlike laminate, vinyl can handle moisture. Its durable surface won’t easily succumb to scratches and scuffs. It’s also soft on your feet, a perk for older homeowners and those with foot or knee problems. The DIY-friendly installation methods and reasonable price tag will help keep your piggy bank intact. It isn’t uncommon to find vinyl flooring under $3 per square foot. 

Cons: Though it varies by market, the majority of home buyers will prefer hardwood and tile to vinyl. Furniture can leave marks on vinyl’s soft surface. Foot-traffic patterns can emerge over time. High-quality vinyl planks can cost upward of $4 per square foot.

Whereas vinyl plank and vinyl tile are manufactured in separate pieces, sheet vinyl is manufactured in large sheets, typically about 12 feet long. It can be more cost-effective than the other two options.

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Winter Solstice - The Longest Night of the Year

Tonight, December 21, marks the Longest Night of the Year also known as the Winter Solstice. 
In the Northern Hemisphere the sun goes down at 4:37 pm and will rise again tomorrow at 8:43 am.  This gives us just over 17 hours of darkness. 

Why does the Solstice occur?
The winter solstice occurs at the moment the Earth's tilt away from the sun is at a maximum.
The Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to its orbit the Earth will be at the point in its orbit when the North Pole is tilted at its maximum away from the sun. In the Arctic (within 23.5 degrees of the North Pole) the day will be completely in darkness.

The people on the other side of the world, in the Southern Hemisphere,  are celebrating this day as their summer solstice with the longest day of the Year

People have been celebrating the Longest Night of the year for more than 4000 years. 
This event goes by many different names such as Midwinter, Yule, Yailda Night, Midvinterblot & Jolofferfest. 

In Neolithic times the longest night was used as a calendar guide to sow crops, monitor winter reserves of food, the mating and slaughtering of animal.  This also marked the time when the beer and wine put up earlier in the year would be ready to drink and what better time to enjoy the fruits of your labour then a family get together. Traditions typically include gathering around a fire with family and eat, drink and read.  Poetry was often read aloud at many gatherings.  

Because the event was seen as the reversal of the Sun's ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures which used cyclic calendars based on the winter solstice, the "year as reborn" was celebrated with reference to life-death-rebirth deities or "new beginnings" such as Hogmanay's redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also "reversal" is yet another frequent theme, as in Saturnalia's slave and master reversals.

Many people gather at Stonehenge each year to mark this special time. The Winter Solstice is the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to be there. It's an ad hoc celebration that brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travelers and party people - 100's of them!

For many the impulse to arrive at Stonehenge in time for the Solstice is a little like all those people drawn to the strange rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's akin to a spiritual experience. Anyone who has witnessed the crowd become silent as the sky begins to brighten can attest to that.

The Longest Night of the Year is a special time in the flow of the seasons.  We hope you enjoy yours!

Personal Loans Against Canadian Real Estate Hits A Record Rate Of Growth

Canadian real estate leverage has been an increasing concern, and it it’s growing. Filings from Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the federal regulator for banks, show that loans secured by real estate showed huge growth in September. In fact, these loans are now at a record high, and are printing record growth.

Total Loans Secured By Real Estate Now Over $279 Billion

The total of loans secured against residential real estate for business and non business purposes is booming in 2017. Analysis of OSFI data shows $279.64 billion in loans in September, up $25.4 billion from the same month last year. That’s 9.92% growth, which is just off the peak of 12.10% established in June 2017. This year is the first year to see growth above 5%, in the 5 years of filings OSFI provided. The huge growth represents a significant increase, but some of these loans are being used for productive purposes.  Let’s break it down.

Over 51% Growth For Business Loans Against Residential Real Estate

When people say “good debt,” this is the kind of debt they are typically referring to – borrowing for business. In September, banks held $31.68 billion of loans for business purposes, secured by residential real estate. That’s a massive 51.58% growth from the year before, which is just off peak growth established earlier this year. While the growth is huge, it is just a fraction of the total debt here.

Over $248 Billion Of Personal Loans Secured By Residential Real Estate

Personal loans secured by real estate are experiencing record growth. These are the loans that we have no idea what they did with the money. These can be anything from renovation financing, to buying second homes, or even possibly using home equity to buy bitcoin – no one’s quite sure. At the end of September, banks held $248.95 billion in personal loans secured by residential real estate, a 6.91% increase from last year. This is the highest annual growth observed in the OSFI filings.

OSFI filings only include federally regulated banks, so credit unions and private lenders aren’t included in these numbers. This means there’s likely even more debt secured against real estate. This leverage is relatively harmless when things are good, but has the potential to be an issue in the event of a home price correction. Especially if that correction means a recession.

Source Article

Mortgage Stress Testing is Coming

Don’t Fool Yourself, Canadian Banks Are The Real Winners By Stress Testing Mortgages

The Canadian real estate market is freaking out about stress testing new buyers. There’s a lot written on the impact on new buyers, but no one’s talking about how it impacts existing owners. Everyone thinks this means game over for the banks, which made me curious, why didn’t the banks lobby harder to prevent this? Looking at the numbers, it’s because they didn’t have to. Mortgage stress testing across all segments has the potential to reduce customer churn, and boost profits. Meanwhile, existing owners lose a bargaining chip, potentially sending their rates much higher.

What Are The Stress Tests?

Starting January 1, insured and uninsured mortgage borrowers will need a “stress test.” This is a quick calculation to determine if you can pay your mortgage, if the rate jumps 200bps. In plain English, the maximum you can borrow is determined by a rate two percent higher than the contract. This reduces the maximum borrowing power by over 20%. Renewals won’t need to do this stress test, unless they’re switching banks. The last part is what we’re looking at today.

Number Of Canadians That Need Stress Tests

Mortgage growth is pretty close to peak, and the Big Six Canadian banks own a majority of these renewals. Over 5.6 million mortgages on residential property were outstanding in Canada in 2016. At a 68% rate of homeownership across Canada, we’re getting pretty close to a peak rate of homeownership. The Bank of Canada calculates this debt to be worth CA$1.5 trillion. Interesting enough, over 74% of the dollar volume can be found in the Big Six filings. New mortgage growth is getting difficult, so retaining borrowers becomes the new priority.

Speaking of renewing, we’re approaching a very important window for borrowers. The stars have aligned, and over 47% of mortgages are going to be renewing within the next 12 months. Another 31% of mortgages will renew over the next 1 to 3 years. We have the potential peak of mortgage growth, and a huge number of renewals. All of this data is hitting us just a touch over 3 weeks from today.

Reducing Competition Is A Profitable Model

Typically a smart borrower walks down the street, and asks around for the best rate. They may never switch banks, but at least they can use that as a negotiating chip to lower their mortgage rate. Now banks can calculate in advance whether or not you can actually pass a stress test at a new bank. Bank of Canada estimates that 10% of uninsured mortgages issued last year would not pass the new stress test. These borrowers that won’t be able to pass a stress test, can’t just go to a mortgage broker for the lowest rate. They’ll get whatever the bank gives them at renewal, which can add up to thousands more in interest payments.

It Can Cost Highly Indebted Borrowers Thousands Of Dollars

To illustrate how highly indebted borrowers are going to be screwed, let’s do a rate comparison. Officially, a 5 year fixed at Big Six bank is 4.99%. On a $800,000 mortgage, that would work out to $191,907 of interest paid after 5 years at that rate. Now, most people don’t get that – you might be able to negotiate it as low as 3.29% in our case. On a $800,000 mortgage, that works out to $125,715 in interest for the 5 year fixed term. You can save $66,192 at your own bank right now, just by negotiating. Although, your bank only went that low because the other lenders exist.

The best rate we could find from a mortgage broker without looking very hard was 2.84% on a 5 year fixed rate. On a $800,000 mortgage at 2.84%, you’re looking at $104,918 in interest. That’s $86,989 of interest saved over just 5 years, when compared to the standard rate. It’s also $20,797 lower than one of the best rates that can be negotiated in bank. That’s quite a bit of money, for just 5 minutes of looking around. An option that’s going to disappear in just a few months, for those that probably need to negotiate the most.

These discrepancies also exist before mandatory stress testing is rolled out across all mortgage types at banks. The reduction of churn can be great for the banks, but not so great for existing mortgage holders. Regulations are a mixed blessing, tackling one issue, while often creating another. The issue created, might mean many existing homeowners are going to see higher levels of debt. Good for banks. Not so great for mortgage holders that have been barely squeezing by.

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Jim & Jordy - Your Resources Hub

Guiding You Home & Beyond: Come Ride with Us

Like a hub and spokes hold a wheel together, having access to all the right resources is essential for a smooth ride when buying or selling a home. As a team, we have more combined knowledge, connections and access to resources for the benefit of our clients.

We are your Hub for needed Resources, keeping your Real Estate Transaction, be it a Buy or Sell, on track to the end of the trail.

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Financial Tips and Guidance

  • First Time Home Buyer Tax Credits
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New Listing - 191 Kananaskis Way - Canmore

3 Bedrooms

4 Bathrooms

HALF SHARE ~ Stunning, luxuriously appointed with large and open living area, this outstanding home is an exclusive family or corporate retreat. Only four blocks from fabulous Elevation Place and just a few steps from the integrated trail system, you CAN have it all with this three bedroom, 3 bath unit in the spectacular Solara Resort & Spa! You will enjoy the scenery from your 5' x 20' south deck, with outstanding views of Three Sisters Peaks. This stylishly finished contemporary finished mountain condo is yours to enjoy, year round. Features 3 full-on bath suites, cork flooring, granite counters, European fixtures and appliances, and wine fridge. Fireplaces in living and master. Top of the line amenities include hot pool, holistic spa and fitness center, conference center and theater with 96 seats and surround sound. Condo fees include everything. Complete furnishings provide opportunities for vacation rental while you're away. East, south and west views from this rare end unit. (id:2493)


Just Listed - Give us a call at 403-678-2206 for more information on this gem.

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