Keep your haunted home safe for Halloween

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and jack-o’-lanterns aglow-extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. To keep the fun going, however, it’s important to plan your home’s scary set-up with safety in mind.

Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, such as those found in jack-o’-lanterns, account for an average of 800 home fires in North America, causing nearly $4 million in direct property damage every year.

To keep your house from being haunted with potential insurance woes, Wayne Ross, insurance and claims expert for Aviva Canada, offers some Halloween preparation tips for preventing fires and other insurance claims.


• Practice fire safety: When setting up spooky electrical decorations and lighting, ensure that electrical outlets are not overloaded. Consider battery or solar powered jack-o’-lanterns.


• Make sure your walkways are safe: Although darkness may set the Halloween mood, keep walkways well lit and obstruction free to reduce the risk of injury and allow many guests to walk through simultaneously.


* Check your insurance coverage: While homeowner policies will generally cover you and your property during Halloween, it is a good idea to contact your insurance broker to ensure you have the right amount of coverage-especially with hundreds of visitors to your home.


“It is the responsibility of homeowners to make sure their property is safe for visitors during the Halloween festivities,” Ross explained. “By taking some precautions, homeowners can join in the Halloween celebrations and enjoy a safe night of festive fun with their families.”


Additional information can be found at

Sneak healthy into your meals

(NC)-For many families, keeping kids healthy while satisfying their ever-changing tastes can seem like an ongoing battle. However, with some creativity, parents can accommodate selective eating habits while still ensuring their children get the right nutrients at mealtime.

Sneaking citrus into meals is a simple way to help support a child’s healthy immune system while adding the natural sweetness that kids crave. For example, one 250 mL glass of orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and other nutrients that can be easily incorporated into marinades and sauces for extra flavor and health benefits.

“In addition to helping the body’s natural ability to fight infection, Vitamin C is important for your child’s healthy growth,” says registered dietitian Lydia Knorr. “Vitamin C is needed to form collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones and muscles.”

This recipe incorporates Florida orange juice into a simple recipe for kids:

Sweet Sticky Orange Chicken

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 mL (1 tbsp) chopped parsley

10 mL (2 tsp) Italian herb seasoning

1 mL (1/4 tsp) ground pepper

8 boneless chicken thighs (about 1 ½ lbs)

10 mL (2 tsp) canola oil

250 mL (1 cup) Florida orange juice

25 mL (2 tbsp) liquid honey

25 mL (2 tbsp) unseasoned rice vinegar

15 mL (1 tbsp) soy sauce

15 mL (1 tbsp) cornstarch

In bowl, combine garlic, parsley, Italian herb seasoning and pepper. Add chicken and oil. Coat chicken evenly.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken on both sides. Place in ovenproof dish; set aside.

In bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey, vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add orange juice mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring. Pour over chicken and place in 200 C (400 F) oven for about 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Makes 4 servings.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Roasted Rainbow Trout with Mushroom and Red Pepper Relish

(NC)-What we eat affects how we feel. And for those people living with arthritis, healthy eating habits can often be helpful.

The Arthritis Society has developed this healthy recipe for year-round entertaining. This elegant entrée is effortless to prepare and makes a leaner option than regular roasts, plus, trout is a great source of omega 3s. Serve with wilted baby greens and oven-roasted baby potatoes.



• 2 lb. (1 kg) boneless rainbow trout, about 2 large fillets

• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each salt and pepper

• 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) each olive oil and Dijon mustard

• 2 tsp. (10 ml) white wine vinegar

• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) dried thyme leaves


• 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 2 cups (500 ml) sliced cremini or white mushrooms

• 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried thyme leaves

• 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each salt and pepper

• 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped roasted red pepper

• 1 tsp. (5 ml) white wine vinegar

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• Chopped parsley (optional)

• Lemon wedges

Directions Trout: Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Arrange trout on a lightly greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Blend oil with mustard, vinegar and thyme; brush evenly over the trout. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Relish: Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned. Stir in roasted red pepper, vinegar and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until glossy.

Spoon mushroom relish over trout. Garnish with parsley (if using) and serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 6 servings. More recipes are available online at

Courtesy of Newscanada

Five money-saving moves for smartphone users

Five money-saving tips for smart phone users
Smartphones are quickly gaining in popularity. With a virtual world in the palm of users’ hands, they can easily access email, social networking sites, news, videos, music, images, files, mapping and more. While the possibilities may seem endless, consumers should consider one limit: their budgets.

The allure of smartphones may be hard to resist, but more than one user has been hit by “bill shock.” Consumers experience bill shock when they receive a bill that is significantly higher than what they were expecting. Many monthly service plans include a maximum level of data usage. Once customers surpass that threshold, the overage charges start piling up, and the final tally can be hard to swallow. Taking a few precautions can help keep costs under control:


1. Be selective with your usage. Smartphones are great tools on the go, but some activities are best left to other devices, like your tablet PC, laptop or PC. Frequently streaming music and videos will take a huge bite out of your monthly data allowance so it may be best to save these activities for devices that are not tied to your cell phone plan.

2. Be realistic about your data needs and then select a plan that best meets your data consumption. Consider whether you’ll be streaming music or videos, downloading apps or games, sending photos or documents, surfing the Web or checking email. Each of these activities requires bandwidth, some more than others.  Just looking at the weather or other news doesn’t use much data – the activity that really racks up the dollars is streaming and downloading files.

3. Use Wi-Fi when you can. Data accessed with a Wi-Fi connection won’t count against your cellular service data usage. If you have a wireless router at home, simply switch over to Wi-Fi. If you don’t have Wi-Fi access at home, there are plenty of cafes, bookstores and other community gathering places that offer free (or nearly free) Wi-Fi.  In fact Wi-Fi is easy to set up.

4. Consider no-contract cell phone plans. Major carriers typically offer the “best” prices with a two-year contract. However, you can expect a stiff penalty if you need to break the contract, as well as steep overage charges if you exceed your plan’s limits. Instead, choose a company with a no-contract cell phone carrier that allows customers to change their plans as often as necessary, without penalty, enabling them to capture the best rates for their usage needs.

5. Monitor your usage levels. If you haven’t used a smartphone yet, it may be difficult to determine an accurate estimate of data requirements. Check with your carrier about enabling usage alerts to notify you when you are getting close to your plan’s limits. With some service providers, like Consumer Cellular, you’re automatically opted-in to the alerts and get notified when you’re approaching, are at and have exceeded your limits. The company sends alerts at 75 percent, 100 percent, 125 percent and 150 percent to give customers plenty of time to change or modify their plan to avoid overage fees. There are also free smartphone apps that help you monitor your usage.

Owning a smartphone doesn’t need to be a budget-buster. With just a few simple tips, users can keep their bills in check while enjoying the convenience and capabilities of their mobile devices.

Courtesy of BPT

Uses of wall tiles in your bathroom

Wall tiles have always been popular because of the huge range of styles and colors available and the fact that they have so many uses. Think of wall tiles in the home and a lot of people will instant think of the bathroom, but that isn’t the only room in your home where they can be used and will look great.

Obviously the bathroom is the most popular room in the home for wall tiles because not only do they look great but they are also impenetrable to water, meaning that they can be used in showers and on the wall between the top of your bath tub and the ceiling to provide a waterproof barrier. They can also be used as a splash-back behind wash basins as this area can often get wet and wall tiles are better for dealing with this than painted walls, even if bathroom specific paint has been used. As these three areas are usually covered with wall tiles in a lot of homes, people decorating will often tile all remaining walls in a bathroom to give continuity and also because wall tiles are so easy to clean, are hard wearing and long lasting.

Showers have become increasingly popular in modern homes over the past 20 to 30 years, with more and more people seeing them as a quick and convenient alternative to a bath. A lot of homes now have a shower that is combined with the bath tub as this is cheaper than having a separate shower cubicle installed. It is also a space saver in a room which is normally the smallest room in the house. If you have a shower in your bathroom, then it is essential that you completely waterproof the area that will be in contact with water. Failing to do this can have disastrous consequences.

Flooding into downstairs rooms is common in homes where bathrooms haven’t been properly insulated and leaks can also affect wooden joists causing them to rot and making the structure of your home unsafe. Ceramic wall tiles combined with waterproof grout and waterproof sealant specifically made for baths and showers is the most cost effective way of making this area completely waterproof.

by: Xander Palmer 

Putting together the perfect guest room

What to expect when you’re expecting… house guests. The key to making a lasting impression on your guests is to provide all the comforts you would expect to find at home, but with a personal touch. As the proverb goes, “a home without guests is a home without soul”, so as the host, return the favor by filling your guest room with some of that soul. Sally Morse, director of creative services for window fashions company Hunter Douglas, offers the following tips on guest room décor:


• Luggage Racks – How many times have you entered a guest room and there was no place to put down any luggage? Arranging a place for your guests’ belongings in a small bedroom can be a challenge, but consider a folding luggage rack that can easily be put away and won’t take up too much space.


• Closet – A closet is useless without any hangers, so don’t forget to supply at least eight to 10 hangers for your guests. It’s also a good idea to put simple hooks on the wall or behind a closet door for coats, scarves or bags.


• Flowers – A great way to add a personal touch to your guest room is by putting flowers on a bedside table or bureau. The flowers don’t have to be fresh necessarily; dried hydrangeas, for instance, live longer and provide an elegant, vintage look to a room. During the holiday season, try filling a vase with dry arrangements or a large bowl with pine cones for a festive and eye-catching addition.


• Provide Privacy – Part of making your guests feel at home is providing adequate privacy. Choose window coverings that not only add character to the room, but provide privacy and light control as well. Products such as Silhouette window shadings from Hunter Douglas do just that: the shadings diffuse light through two fabric layers for a radiant and calming effect with the added benefit of providing privacy.


• Converting Your Office Space – Many people don’t have the extra room in their homes to set up a special guest room, so they combine spaces into multi-functional areas. The work space/guest room is a great option for creating a cozy and versatile space. Once you’ve determined how your multi-use space should be divided, consider investing in a pullout couch, especially if you have frequent visitors.


• Mirrors – Be sure that there is at least one mirror in the room, whether it’s in the bedroom itself or the bathroom. A floor-length mirror is an added luxury that your guests will definitely appreciate.


• Small Touches – A little gesture can go a long way. Consider leaving a welcome note or a pouch of lavender on the pillow to make your guests feel special. Also give your guest room an intimate feel by including a family photo or two or some of your favorite books

With these simple tips you’ll have a hard time getting your guests to leave.


More information is available online at

Courtesy of Newscanada