Teach your children how to save

(NC)-From making an imaginary cup of tea to shopping at a make-believe grocery store, children love to mimic their parents’ lives through play. So when it comes time to teach your children how to manage their money and save, it’s important you lead by example too.

“Once your child starts to understand the basic value of coins and dollars and is able to count, add and subtract, they are ready to explore the world of saving,” says Raymond Chun, a senior vice president at TD Canada Trust. “Instilling financial principles and good saving habits in your children from a young age is important, but don’t forget they will learn even more by watching what you do when it comes to managing your money.”

Chun offers his advice on how to lead by example and teach your children solid saving skills:

• Set a goal – Sit down together and make a wish list of all the fun things you could save for. Help your child select one toy from their list and choose an achievable and tangible item of a similar value from your list. Explain to them how much you both will need to save every week to achieve your goals.

• Start saving – Start with piggy banks or jars so your child can see the money growing in front of them. Glue a picture of their goal onto it to get them excited about saving.

• Introduce them to interest – Explain that for every quarter they save, you will add a nickel to reward them for saving their money. This will introduce them to concept that money can be more valuable when you save it in a bank.

• Track their progress – Saving requires time and patience, so help your kids stay interested in saving by tracking their progress. Consider working together to create a colourful countdown calendar to hang on the refrigerator that illustrates your savings goals, and use stickers to track your progress.

• Communicate – Talk openly and honestly about money with your children. Look for teachable moments every day, like depositing money at an ATM, to show your children how you save and manage your money.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Year-round backyard safety tips for families

Your backyard is a space where you enjoy quality time with your family – from running around with your kids in the fall leaves to playing catch with your furry friend in the snow. It’s a place to escape, but remember accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and just like you childproof your house, you need to ensure your backyard is safe as well.

Keeping your backyard safe begins with your fence. A yard without a fence is a little like a house without walls. Fences help protect children from danger, keeping toddlers out of swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds or keeping them in the yard, away from busy traffic or strangers. Fences can also help keep your own pets in your yard, and other animals out. They can reduce your liability by preventing injuries to uninvited guests on your property, or damage or injury caused by escaped pets.

A good weekend project is making sure your fences and gates are functioning properly and are protected from rust, a destructive force that can render gate hardware useless or dangerous, says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies, which manufactures gate latches and hinges made of ultra-strong engineering polymers. In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly or becomes a threat to children was their top concern. Rust-free and adjustable gate hardware is available.

Seasonal weather, ground settling and other factors can cause a gate to become misaligned over time and not function properly. It’s important to have gate hardware that can be easily adjusted to overcome this. TruClose self-closing, tension adjustable hinges are an ideal solution. Some models are vertically and horizontally adjustable as well.  Combined with D&D adjustable, locking gate latches will ensure your gate will always function properly.

Additional precautions to take when childproofing your backyard:

* Tighten and cover any protruding bolts on swing sets and do not attach ropes or cords, which could become strangulation hazards.

* Remove old tree stumps and rocks, level concrete footings to avoid tripping.

*Seal wooded items such as decks, swing sets and picnic tables before inclement weather sets in.

* Completely fence pool and spa areas with adjustable self-closing hinges like TruClose and self-latching gates, ensuring latches are out of the reach of children such as the Magnalatch Safety Gate Latch. Both products carry a lifetime warranty and are adjustable both vertically and horizontally for quick and easy adjustments.

* Eliminate access to lawn equipment and chemicals. Put these items completely out of the reach of children.

* Keep a first aid kit and a rescue kit for those backyards with water features easily accessible.

Your backyard can be one of the most exciting places for your children through the entire year. A little prevention along the way will keep it safe and provide wonderful memories for your family.

Look for D&D Technologies rust free gate hardware and child safety latches at http://www.ddtechglobal.com or under the Stanley Hardware brand through Lowe’s.

The Do’s and Don’ts of exterior wood staining

(NC)-Now that the warm weather is here, more of our time will be spent outside enjoying the backyard deck. So if your deck has started to look a little past its prime, it may be time to apply some exterior wood stain to freshen it up.


According to Mario Mathieu, the Senior Product Manager for industry leader, Woodcare at Sikkens, nature can present exterior wood with a host of challenges. The moisture in rain and snow can cause swelling, mold, mildew and even rotting, he says, while the heat of summer can make wood shrink, crack, fade and warp.


“Wood stains provide protection from the elements by repelling water and reflecting harmful UV rays,” Mathieu continued. “They are also versatile and easy to apply – from door and window stains to deck stains, fence stains and siding stains – but care should be taken to ensure effective results.”


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying exterior wood products to your deck, siding or doors and windows:


Application Dos

• Apply when surface and air temperature is between 10ºC and 35ºC (50ºF and 95ºF).


• Stir well before using.


• Saturate all end grains, nail holes, cavities and cracks in the wood.


• Maintain a wet edge to prevent lap marks.


• Apply in the direction of the wood grain.


Application Don’ts

• Do not apply in direct sunlight.


• Do not apply when the surface is hot to the touch.


• Do not apply when dew, rain or frost is present or expected within five hours.


• Do not apply when moisture content of the wood is greater than 18%.


• Do not thin.


Carefully read the instructions specific to each product before application. Examine the wood for shiny surfaces (mill glaze) as these can prevent coatings from penetrating and will require sanding beforehand. Colour-test your stain to confirm the colour you can expect to achieve. Use a sample of the wood you intend to treat and apply the appropriate number of coats.


However, the days of applying several coats may be over since the more progressive manufacturers are making more efficient products. Sikkens, for example, has introduced an innovative new woodcare stain that contains a unique combination of water and oil-based materials to deliver the best of both worlds for users.


Made from a unique alkyd (oil) and acrylic (water) hybrid mix, the new Cetol SRD line is a premium flat finish stain that requires only one coat on any exterior wood surface, includingdecks, fences, rails, siding and outdoor furniture.


The coating provides both the strength and durability of an alkyd stain and the ease of use of an acrylic product, including simple clean-up of tools with water. It is specially formulated to deliver maximum penetration, colour retention, adhesion and resistance to ultraviolet rays, humidity, rain, sleet and snow.


You can consult a virtual decorator online at http://www.sikkens.ca.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Ingenious gadgets keep smart gardeners playing in the dirt

Ingenious%20gadgets%20keep%20smart%20gardeners%20playing%20in%20the%20dirtGardeners who like things easy, have mobility issues or get muscle fatigue are always on the lookout for smart gardening gadgets designed to keep them playing in the dirt. This season some of the best gardening gadgets are ingenious and, often low-tech, doing the job they’re designed to do brilliantly without added fuss or bother.

* Make heavy lifting easier -With a nifty labor-saving sling device called Pot Lifter, two people working together can move big bulky items with ease. Just slip the sling around the object and lift.

* Stop weeds – Preen garden weed preventers cut down significantly on the onerous task of weeding by stopping new weed seeds from rooting and growing for up to three to four months per application. Now Preen offers a smart battery-powered spreader-applicator cap that makes it even easier to apply Preen pre-emergent granules atop garden soil or mulch. Gardeners who have tried the new applicator found it comfortable to use, providing a steady, even application rate. Quickly cover large areas and easily direct the granule flow into hard to reach places such as under shrubs and between plants. Weeds that don’t root, don’t grow. No weeds, no weeding.

* Spare knees while kneeling – Jolly Kneeler is a molded polyurethane knee-rest that is orthopedically designed to support gardeners comfortably while they’re on their knees planting, plucking or playing in the dirt. The simple one-piece kneeler has a handle for carrying ease. Its bright red color makes it hard to lose in green garden beds or grass.

* Water plants from the porch – Have a cool drink on the porch, then repurpose a soda, tea or water bottle into a remarkably low-tech garden container watering device. AquaCones from Achla Designs are super easy watering spikes that attach to plastic bottles. Just flip over and sink the spike into the soil. The water in the upside down bottle slowly drains to the plant roots, rewarding gardeners with more free time on the porch.

* Try raking in circles- Raking can be a pain, especially when moving heavy wet leaves or debris or mulch. The Ground Hog Circular Rake has a circular head with teeth. Its encompassing design minimizes raking labor by gathering and keeping raked materials together as it’s being pulled or moved. Less spillage means fewer strokes and raking jobs are quickly done.

For gardeners who like to get backyard tasks done efficiently, quickly, and easily, these smart, well-designed solutions make good sense.

Professional grilling tips for the perfect backyard barbecue

grilling%20tips%20for%20the%20perfect%20backyard%20barbecueGrilling season has arrived. The unique flavors of sizzling meat on a hot grill are loved by  young and old. Whether you’re an enthusiastic foodie or a simple family chef, it’s time to get outside and perfect the art of the barbecue.

If you’re new to grilling, it’s easy to make some wrong turns. No one wants to end up with dried out chicken, burnt steak or flavorless ribs. When you’re cooking, keep in mind a few tips from the pros from the WETSU BBQ Crew, a competitive barbecue team sponsored by Tree Top.

* Get to know your butcher. He can help you pick out the best cuts of meat for your intended use. For example, fat marbling is one of the most important things to look for when selecting a steak, but too much or too little can ruin the cut. Chicken and pork are leaner meat options. Be ready to answer questions about preparation and cooking, because this information will guide his or her suggestions.

* Think about spices. Once you have your meat, it’s time to visit your spice rack. A harmonious blend of spices will bring out the natural flavor as it cooks on the grill. Some traditional grilling spices include paprika, salt, pepper and garlic, but more exotic spices like cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning can be used too if you’re feeling adventurous.

* Enhance your flavors. Barbecue pros around the country have a secret that takes their spice mixtures to the next level: fruit juice like Tree Top Apple Juice, made from 100 percent U.S.A. apples. Using juice, you can enhance the flavors of the spices and meat during the grilling process. Apple is a great juice option because the flavor pairs well with sweet, savory or hot spices. Tree Top Apple Juice can also be injected into the meat to keep it juicy and tender.

* Learn how to cook on a grill. When your meat is fully prepped, warm up the grill and get ready to cook. But before you start, keep in mind cooking on a grill is different than cooking on your stove or in your oven. Thin-cut meats cook better with direct heat like a charcoal or gas fire. Chicken, thinly-cut steak and pork chops will cook quickly and evenly. On a gas grill, use all the burners to ensure the heat is even throughout the grill, and grill with the hood down as much as possible. When turning meat, use a spatula or tongs. Don’t poke it, because this allows juices to escape and can result in a tough, dry main dish.

These tips should help you get the perfect grilled foods; but remember: if at first you don’t get it right, try again. With so many different steps and factors to consider, it takes practice to get the perfect succulent barbecue. Why not try this recipe for a tasty start to your grilling season? Your family and friends won’t mind being the taste-testers, and with so many wonderful scents floating through the summer air, your neighbors might be knocking on your door, as well.

Doc’s Beef or Brisket Rub

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon oriental mustard (dry)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons course ground black pepper

Mix all dry ingredients well. Rub thoroughly on brisket or heavy beef. Use fresh spray bottle with Tree Top Apple Juice to spray down all dry ingredients on meat. Rub in thoroughly again because the apple juice activates the dry spices. Allow to marinate 4 to 6 hours or overnight if possible. Keep refrigerated.

Cook on smoker or any indirect heat for 6 to 8 hours or until internal temperature reaches 192 F.  Smoker or grill temperature 225 F to 240 F.