Cool grilling tools could make you a backyard hero

(NC)-A number of nifty new grilling accessories are sure to attract the attention of outdoor chefs of every experience level. Why not impress the grill master in your life by giving them one or all of the following cool grilling tools as a gift for any occasion?


Weber suggests:


Tongs remain an indispensabletool and the one item cited as being both owned (86%) and most used (70%) by Canadian grillers. Outdoor chefs also own a basting brush (79%), a grill fork (73%), a wire grill brush (71%), and a turner/spatula (64%).


The Ebelskiver: This European-inspired grilling tool creates traditional Danish pancakes in a perfect sphere shape. Also idea for making individual pizza puffs or turkey/chicken/beef pot pies.

With hamburgers remaining the food item most often grilled, Weber has developed three new accessories for this devoted audience:


Weber Burger Press: Designed to create the perfectly formed burger patty, this press makes a dimple in the middle of the burger for even cooking from centre to edge.


Weber Slider Press: Form two perfectly shaped sliders at the same time with this press that makes a dimple in the middle of the burger for even cooking throughout.


Weber Meatball/Slider Rack: This stainless steel two-sided rack holds up to 15 meatballs or eight sliders. It allows for even cooking and a one-flip approach to grilling several small burgers or meatballs at once.


Cast iron Griddle: When you need a flat surface, you need a cast iron griddle. It’s the perfect accessory for grilling food, from pancakes to scallops, without mess or fuss.


Potato Nails: A sure hit for baked potato lovers, these stainless steel nails allow for quick, even cooking of potatoes.


Portable Table: The perfect gift for tailgaters and campers, this portable table goes up quickly and stores flat.


Grilling tips and recipes can be found online at

How much would it really cost to replace your home?

(NC) Ask any Canadian homeowner to name their biggest investment – their real pride and joy – and most likely they’ll say it’s their home. It’s their sanctuary with the pristine lawn, beautiful garden, finished basement, and renovated kitchen. When such a paradise exists, why would anyone want to risk losing it? But what if disaster struck and your place was severely damaged by fire or some other catastrophe. Are you certain that your insurance policy would cover the rebuilding of your house and the replacement of all the contents? Unfortunately, this answer often comes too late that the homeowner isn’t adequately covered. The property insurance experts from Desjardins Insurance have some answers and suggestions to help you.

  • First, be prepared. The first three days after an emergency are the most critical. So consider creating a 72-hour emergency kit. Typically it will include 3 days’ worth of water for each person in your family, imperishable food stuffs, candles, flashlight and batteries, and a first-aid kit. Next, take an inventory of your belongings. Be thorough because it’s easy to underestimate the total value of your possessions. Include furniture, jewellery, electronics such as computer equipment, game systems and television, along with clothes, shoes, boots, pots, pans, other personal and household items. Take particular note of expensive items such as antique furniture or other valuables.
  • Read your policy carefully. It’s important to remember that your home insurance will not cover every type of major loss. The typical home insurance policy will cover a fire loss, as well as damage caused by lightning, windstorms, hailstorms and even tornadoes. Standard homeowners’ policies in Canada exclude flood damage. However, policies generally cover other kinds of water damage, for example from a sewer backup or a burst pipe in your house. Desjardins Insurance is one of the few companies that also cover damage caused by water seepage through basement walls or floors.

Your policy may be worth more than your home. Many people believe that if their home is burnt to the ground, they would automatically receive full market value for their house. This isn’t true. The value of a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild the house, not to sell it on the market. The actual replacement cost could end up being either greater or less than the market value. Replacement costs will include the material (lumber, roofing shingles, siding material, carpet, drywall, etc.), and the labor and architectural services. There are also additional costs associated with the demolition and clean-up of the site before construction, which can be expensive in a crowded city neighbourhood. The location of your home could be a factor too. For example if you’re located in a remote or rural area, travelling expenses and supply transportation need to be taken into consideration.

For more information about your insurance policy and the replacement value of your home, speak to your insurance provider. Or for immediate answers, call or visit Desjardins Insurance at

Bring your house up to date

It’s amazing how quickly our homes can start to look dated. Even if they were once the height of fashion, they can easily start to feel stuck in the past, and for many people it is enough to make them consider moving, unaware that it is simply the fact that things feel stale that is giving them such wanderlust.

There is plenty that can be done, easily and cheaply, to make a house feel more modern though. A change of paint is always a great way to start. Finding out the colors that are currently in vogue is a great way to instantly transform a room. On top that, interesting and modern artwork and contemporary knick knacks will also instantly bring a room up to date.

Home lighting is also a surprisingly date-specific kind of thing. Older light fittings will instantly date any room, and changing glaring halogens to more subtle accent lighting can instantly change the feel of a room without anything else being needed. Altering home lighting is also easy to research and cheap to achieve, making one of the perfect places to start if a house is starting to feel jaded. The more you can spend on lighting, the better.

Wooden floors are also a great way to stay modern. On top of this, utilizing a wooden floor gives you great scope to include under-floor heating, an investment that will almost certainly pay for itself in terms of how much money can be saved on energy bills. Under-floor heating also helps you remove what are usually unsightly radiators and give rooms more space – another way to make any room feel more modern.

If you can, make as much space as possible, knocking down walls to create more space if it is appropriate. Space and lighting combined will make even the dullest room feel fresh and new.

By: Allision Kraft

How to write a professional real estate property description that sells

There are do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing a professional property description that sells. An effective property description can determine whether or not you sell the property.


To begin, your headline must jump out from the page and catch the attention of the buyer. Make the headline appealing with captivating and positive words.


Always begin your description with the selling points of the property. List the best features first to keep the attention of the buyer. Use adjectives to spice up the description. For example, instead of stating dining room, try spacious dining room for your family to gather and share a meal. Let the buyer know why they will want the selling points of the house.

It’s important to sell the area to potential buyer as well. Are you selling to someone looking for a single family home or a multi-million dollar estate? Highlight points in the area that appeal to your buyer like schools, shopping, public transportation, etc.


Include the geographical area in your description. Many buyers are looking to buy in a specific area.


Including the price of the property is especially important for the sale by owners. Price inclusion is also a way to screen potential buyers.

Call to Action:

End your description with encouraging words for buyers to call you. Give them a reason for a call to action. “This beautiful property will go fast, call now for more details.”


Choose your words wisely and keep them positive. Certain words sound better and are more appealing to potential buyers. For instance try cozy instead of small.

Now that you know what should go into an effective property description, you need to know what shouldn’t. Avoid the following:

* Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes

* Uncommon abbreviations

* Clichés

* Jargon

* Passive voice

* Over the top vocabulary

Write in the present tense and make sure to include words like you and your in your description. This way potential buyers will feel as though you are speaking directly to them.

by: Rose Manning

Article Source:

Operate your motorized window coverings by mobile app

(NC) – According to the experts, motorized shades are hotter than ever – and no wonder.

Energy management, convenience, glare control, privacy, and security, UV protection for furniture and carpeting, plus an increasing number of skylights and hard-to-reach windows are cited as the leading reasons why.

With or without power, Hunter Douglas window treatments excel as window dressing solutions. Now the company has announced its new Platinum App to give you more precise than ever before of its battery-powered products from your mobile device.

This is the first ‘shade-control’ app available as a free download with no service fees. The Platinum App is controlled directly from an Apple mobile device – and the setup is easy and requires minimal hardware. After a few short, preliminary steps, the app lets you operate all the Hunter Douglas window coverings in your home (or in your rooms) at the same time, or one shade at a time – in real time. Or, you can use the timer feature to schedule your shade movement for later. Operate the window coverings by scene (activity), by room or by time.

The Platinum App puts you in control without complicated wiring or the added expense of an electrician. Other benefits at your fingertips will be:

• Enhanced energy efficiency: You can set your shades to lower when the sun is the hottest or raise them in the winter to let in the solar heat to help manage heating and cooling costs. You can also adjust window covering vanes and slats to harvest light deep into the room to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

• Convenience: With the app, any media room takes on a “Hollywoodian” air. Prefer your window dressings positioned a particular way when you’re reading? No problem. Create a personalized “scene” with the app and it will move the window treatments to the exact position you wish, whenever you wish. It’s simple to program and easy to use. In fact, a single swipe of the app’s slider bars can tilt and raise or lower the product.

• Glare control: Having trouble with the glare on your computer screen while finishing that proposal for the office or emails to friends and family? The app gives you total control.

• Privacy and security: Many homes these days are built cheek-to-jowl, requiring something special to guard one’s privacy and security…and comfort level. The app lets you adjust your window fashions for when you are not at home. Set scenes and raise them during the day, lower them at night, or raise some and lower others to avoid suspicion and help protect your home.

• UV protection: We all know the havoc the sun’s ultraviolet rays play on our skin. The same holds true with artwork and furnishings. If exposed to too much sunlight they can fade, discolour or become otherwise damaged. Obtain the happy medium – sun protection with light and a view – with products such as Silhouette and Pirouette window shadings. The sheer facings protect against UV rays even when the vanes are open. With the app, you can adjust the vanes as the sun becomes brighter and more control is needed.

• Difficult-to-reach windows: We all love the look of skylights and oversized windows, but most of us don’t like having to get out the ladders to reach them. Hunter Douglas points to its SkyLift, a new system that covers skylight window openings of up to 80 square feet. The Platinum App works on products with this option as well, for control above and beyond expectations.

• Child safety: Motorized treatments are free of operating cords, making them ideal for homes with tots underfoot.

Motorization has gone mobile and it’s not going back.
More information is available online at

Taking the intimidation out of DIY bathroom renovation

(BPT) – When it comes to home improvement, Americans have embraced doing it themselves – in a big way. Among homeowners who plan to make improvements, 64 percent say they will do it themselves, according to American Express’ Consumer Spending and Saving Report. Yet one area of home improvement continues to give even adventurous and confident DIYers pause – bathroom renovation.

“Many people who don’t think twice about installing flooring or cabinetry or even tiling on their own, still feel they need a professional to upgrade their bathrooms,” says Gray Uhl, director of design for American Standard. “However, with the availability of easy-to-install products, like no-tools toilets and Speed Connect faucets, bathroom upgrades are well within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers.”

Upgrading or adding a bathroom continues to be a winning home improvement for owners, whether they intend to sell or stay in their homes. A mid-range bathroom remodel recoups more than 65 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. An upscale bathroom renovation returns more than 58 percent.

If you’re considering remodeling a bathroom, here are quick, easy ways to spruce up your bathroom yourself, and still end up with professional quality results:

Start small: the power of bath accessories

When you think of bathroom accessories, towels and toothbrush holders likely come to mind. But anything that enhances the look of your bathroom decor can function as an accessory. Simple moves like swapping out dated cabinet hardware (or adding it where there was none) can help transform the look and feel of the bath.

Switching out a boring mirror with a beveled option can turn a functional background element into something eye-catching. Or, dress up an existing mirror by adding a frame. It’s easy to find mirror framing kits online or in your favorite home improvement store.

Keep thinking creatively when it comes to accessories, and imagine what you could do in the shower area. If your shower is a tub/shower combination, replacing a standard straight curtain rod with a curved one not only creates an elegant appearance, it can give you more elbow room while you’re using the shower.

If you have a shower stall with a door, consider swapping a plain glass door with a decorative one. Home improvement stores often carry a variety of designer options that are frosted or have a pattern. A new shower door can make an old shower look fresh and bold.

Style and function: replace toilet and bathroom faucet

The toilet, sink and faucet are essential elements that can be beautiful as well as functional. Replacing dated, inefficient models with newer options can give a bathroom a whole new look – and improve its usability. Easy-to-install products make updating these important bathroom fixtures simple and speedy.

Replacing a faucet can be a challenge when there are so many moving parts to contend with – not the least of which is the drain. Typical bathroom faucets can have as many as 14 parts to connect. American Standard’s Quentin bathroom faucet collection features a Speed Connect pre-assembled drain that requires no special tools or plumber’s putty.

Products like the American Standard Champion line of high efficiency toilets (HETs) blend powerful performance and water savings with easy installation. The WaterSense-certified Champion HETs use 20 percent less water than standard toilets without losing any flushing power. Available in tall height and elongated or round-front models, these toilets offer practical features like a slow-close seat that eliminates loud slams. Plus, their permanent EverClean antimicrobial finish inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew on the surface. Made for fast, easy installation by DIYers, Champion toilets that feature the EZ-Install kit include everything do-it-yourselfers need to install the toilet without the use of special tools or difficult bolt-cutting.

Added bonus: Buy a Champion and be a champion, joining a campaign by American Standard to raise awareness that almost half the world lacks a safe way to go to the bathroom. For every Champion toilet sold in the U.S. and Canada, American Standard will donate a hygienic latrine pan to a developing country to help raise the global standard of living through safe sanitation. Learn more at

Forget the remote, smartphone, and iPad apps gain territory in homes across Canada

(NC) – Whoever thought the household sanctity of the remote control could be threatened? Well, it has been of late, as have other common home systems and devices. Smartphone and tablet apps may have started out as fun accessories just a few years ago, but thanks to modern technology and innovations, they have now expanded and evolved to make our homes look good and work smart.

Here are some must-haves, according to both savvy consumers and the most discerning media alike. Let’s start with one that helps to keep you polished and organized, the first step for anyone running the show at home.

Key Ring

If you’re not organized, chances are your home won’t be either. How about that collection of loyalty membership cards that crowd our key chains and wear holes in our wallets? De-clutter by going paperless and adding your current cards to Key Ring, an app that allows you to easily keep your membership cards in one place, accessible with the push of a button. Use it to scan and store your existing loyalty cards, enroll in new loyalty programs and access exclusive coupons and discounts. Key Ring also allows users to share their cards with friends and family members. Go to the iTunes store for a free download.

Platinum App

For most people, the hardest part of waking up is taking those first steps out of bed. The new Hunter Douglas Platinum App, however, can make your mornings brighter. Use the free app to automatically raise your window shades so you can greet the morning sun each day without so much as lifting a finger. Just in time for hockey season, it also allows you to pre-program your window treatments to tilt to an exact position to keep out the sun’s glare for the Sunday afternoon game. You can move all the window coverings in your home or room at the same time, or one at a time, in real time to achieve the ambient effect you desire. Or, use the timer feature to schedule a “scene” for later. And, during family getaways, the app helps keep your belongings safe with pre-programmed shade movements that suggest you are at home. Learn more about enjoying precise control of your Hunter Douglas battery-powered window treatments as never before by visiting

iHandy Level

Filling the walls of your home with photographs and art is a tasteful way to personalize the space and make guests feel at home. Choosing the right piece of art or picture frame can be a daunting task. There is nothing more dreaded, however, than a crooked wall hanging. To avoid this décor faux-pas, download, iHandy Level, which helps to properly align wall hangings and will also take various measurements without overcrowding your toolbox. Start your virtual toolbox for free by going to the iTunes store.


Phillips has created a wireless LED home lighting system called Hue. Hue, with its namesake app, allows users to control the smartest light bulbs in the world. The free app is also equipped to name and save specific room settings. LED Hue bulbs can also recreate any colour in the spectrum on demand. Visit the iTunes store.

If you let these apps gain territory in your home, you won’t be disappointed.

More information is available online at

Courtesy of Newscanada

Tips to ensure your shower upgrade doesn’t turn into a leaky mess

(BPT) – Bathrooms are certainly among the busiest rooms in any home. But a bathroom can be so much more than just the place where you get ready during your hurried morning routine. One of the hottest trends in home decorating and remodeling is creating a bathroom that serves as a spa-like retreat.

Soothing colors and natural materials are right on trend, but if you really want your bathroom to be an oasis of calm, it also needs to be low-maintenance. If you’re worried about your beautiful new shower leaking, it’s hard to enjoy the experience. Instead, start by taking steps that ensure you don’t have to worry about leaks and the damage they cause.

Whether you’re a DIY expert or hiring the job out to a professional, it’s important to carefully review the plans for a new shower. If you’re bringing a contractor on for the job, ask what kind of materials and practices they’ll be using to ensure that they’re not cutting corners. If you’re up for a do-it-yourself job, carefully consider the materials you’ll use – look for options that make your job easier but don’t skimp on quality. For instance, the new Shower System from USG is designed to streamline installation without compromising on performance.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your shower is as durable and leak-proof as possible:

* The shower tray: Having the right base in your shower makes all the difference. There’s a perception that the best way to ensure a leak-proof base is an expensive and labor intensive mortar bed. But there are solutions that can cut down on cost and labor. The pre-sloped, high-density, molded-foam shower tray in USG’s DUROCK Shower System, for instance, has a 2 percent slope that makes it easily compatible with a wide array of tile shapes and sizes, offering comfortable flooring and simplicity of installation.

* Waterproof membranes: No matter how beautiful your tile, it’s what’s underneath that counts. Using a waterproof membrane ensures far better performance long term. A strong (tear-proof) and thin waterproof membrane over a durable backerboard, such as DUROCK cement board ensures that your shower stays waterproof, even beyond what your eye can see.

* The drain: A securely fitted drain will help keep water flowing where it’s supposed to go. If you’re installing a shower system, consider using the proper drain assembly that goes along with it. Systems like the USG DUROCK Shower System offer a versatile drain assembly and wide range of drain grates in 52 designs and finishes. Elegant and functional grates integrate with shower systems but still allow homeowners to choose the style that’s right for them. Keep in mind that grate height might need to be adjusted to match tile thickness and the DUROCK Shower System offers maximum flexibility.

A carefully constructed shower will hold its beauty for a long time. And that means your bathroom will remain a retreat where you can think about relaxing instead of repairing. For more information about waterproof shower installations, visit

Courtesy of BPT