Outdoor Holiday Decor

outdoor planter

After last weeks blast of snow I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get outside to decorate. Luckily we had a thaw this week and although it has been rainy and windy I am still determined to decorate before the next round of wintery weather begins.

My go to for Christmas decorations has always been and will always be the dollar store.

I found these awesome bows for the pillars in the front for $2 each. At another well known retailer they were $8 each. The dollar store bargains always amaze me.

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Over the weekend my step mother Nancy and I took the kids to an urn making workshop at The Watering Can. This has become our new tradition.

The kids made Grinch trees and had a blast.

Nancy and I made these beautiful urns.

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I highly recommend going to one of their workshops. We had so much fun and our instructor was awesome.

I made the planter box in front of the dining room window in a similar style to the urn.

It looks so sad and depressing when it is empty

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I started with cedar for the first layer

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Then I added some pine for fullness

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I usually only have a few large ornaments in the basket but it never seems like enough so this year I am putting in several in a variety of sizes

I used ornaments from the dollar store (where else) and glued them to bamboo skewers so they wouldn’t fly away

 

They look like ornament weapons

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I glued the end of the skewer and around the base of the ornament just to make sure it was secure

Then I stuck them into the dirt

I think it looks great and very festive.

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Callum pointed out that it matches the wreath on the door

outside

Now to put up the lights…

Maybe I will leave that job to Chris

 

 

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What a Realtor can do for you

I met a woman last week that was trying (unsuccessfully) to sell her home. I began to explain what a realtor can do for her and she was stunned. She honestly believed that realtors just put a sign in the lawn and hope for the best. Sure some do that but not the majority.

I’ll admit when I started in real estate I didn’t realize how little people think of realtors. I have heard realtors being compared to used car sales men, snake oil sales men and various other professions that people have little regard for. This has given some people the impression that realtors aren’t useful.

We are in an age now where selling your house without the aid of a realtor is becoming quite common.

I have had the pleasure of meeting several people that have tried to sell on their own or with the use of companies like ComFree.

The comments I heard most often about why they chose to sell on their own was that they didn’t want to pay the commission and that they can do anything a realtor can do but better.

Here are a few facts for you:

98% of all FSBO (for sale by owner) listings end up working with a realtor on the buyers end

Listing through a realtor will sell your home faster than selling on your own

Listing through a realtor can net you 27% more than selling on your own

So let’s dive into a what a realtor can do for you….

After the sign goes in and your listing has been put on MLS, the work really begins.

realtor work

1. Pricing
The sale price of a home isn’t a random number. Before listing a property a realtor will do a comparative market analysis of all the sales in your area over the past few months to a year. They compare similar builds with similar features, for example, 2 bathrooms, a pool, number of bedrooms etc. This helps them come up with a suggested selling price.
 
2. Marketing
A realtor will come up with a plan to market your home. Whether through print ads in the newspaper or posts on Facebook, your realtor is going to get people to pay attention to your listing and try to draw in as many people as they can.
 
3. Open houses
Many home owners feel that open houses are a crucial  part of the home selling process. They do get a lot of people through. Some are nosy neighbours, some are serious buyers and some just go to open houses as a hobby. Open houses generally last for 2-3 hours and are often held on the weekend. I have met more then one FSBO that has said they do not like doing open houses. I have also met more then one buyer that said going to a FSBO open house can be extremely uncomfortable. 
 
4. Negotiating
Congratulations you got an offer! Now what? If you are selling on your own you will probably ask a lawyer to look over the offer and make sure everything is in place. Thing is lawyers know real estate law they do not deal in real estate as a profession. They do not know the ins and outs of offers, they will not help you with home inspections or necessary repairs, nor will they help you negotiate on your behalf, but a Realtor will. It is our job to get you the most money possible for your house.  Realtors can negotiate everything from price, to closing dates to whether or not to include the family cat as part of the sale (yes it happens) and everything in between. Like I said, it is our job to negotiate. If we can’t do our job we don’t get paid.
 
5. Arranging inspections
Home inspections are pretty important. They give both the seller and the buyer peace of mind.  For a seller a home inspection allows you to rectify any issues that may come up prior to closing which will ensure that the buyer can not back out of the deal. On the buyers end they feel secure that the home they are buying is a sound investment.
 
6. Searching for new properties
Your house is sold and you are still searching for your new home but you can’t find one that you like. Yipes! A Realtor can help with that. We will search for you, arrange times to view the properties, and prepare an offer for you if you find a house you love.
 
7. Act as a therapist
Realtors are not trained in the art of therapy but on a regular basis we are talking people down off the ledge. Real estate can be terrifying and stressful for some. There is a lot of money on the line and remorse can set in the second that you accept an offer or purchase a home. Since your Realtor has no emotional ties to any house they can give a calm and unbiased opinion of the situation.
 
8.Staging
Agents often suggest staging using what you already have. Simple tricks like rearranging your furniture, removing personal items, and removing clutter can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line. Realtors are also in contact with professional stagers. They can bring in rented furniture and do all of the work for you. 
 
 
As you can see Realtors do a lot aside from putting in the For Sale sign. We take pride in our jobs and only want the best for our clients. 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

donuts

My poor little Callum has been sick with a cold for the last two days.

He stayed home from school and instead of staying in bed he asked if we could make a treat.

Who am I to say no to that kind of request?

My mom gave me donut pans for my birthday so we decided to give donut making a try.

It was a cold and snowy day and apple cinnamon donuts with a nice cup of tea might make everyone feel warm and cosy and Callum thought they would definitely cure his cold.

Apple Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup grated apple ( I used two gala apples)

1/4 cup butter milk (I didn’t have any so I used 1/4 teaspoon vinegar and 1% milk, let sit for 5 minutes and voila you have buttermilk)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, sugar, apple, buttermilk, oil and vanilla

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Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined

Spray your donut pans with cooking spray

You can spoon your batter into the tray but I prefer to use a piping bag. It makes things so much easier

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Bake for 10-12 minutes

Refrigerate any left over batter

Let cool in pan for a few minutes

Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely

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Now it is time for the cinnamon sugar

I doubled up two brown paper bags and poured in 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Give it a good shake to combine.

Using a pastry brush coat the donuts with melted butter

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Put the donuts into the bag and shake until the donuts are totally coated in the sugar mixture

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These are so delicious!

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Callum had a blast making them and eating them

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I figured I would throw in this random picture of Callum sniffing the vanilla. It is just so cute!

This recipe made 12 large and 12 mini donuts. I am pretty sure they won’t last too long!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Master Bedroom Re-do

We have painted and fixed up every room in our house except our bedroom.

It is time for a change.

We have been thinking about paint colours and new curtains since we moved in but other projects always took priority.

We still have a zillion other things on the go, Chris is making a huge 10 x 3 1/2 foot table, we are installing a fire place in the living room which Chris will be building the mantle for, our kitchen ceiling needs to be painted, and our basement needs some serious TLC but for the next little while our bedroom will be my main focus.

This is what it currently looks like

I love the brick wall so we won’t be changing that

The paint colour in the rest of the room will be changed to Benjamin Moore’s Collectors Item. It is the same colour we used in our living room. It is an off white that picks up on the other colours in the room and depending on the amount of sunlight it can look like a really light pink or light beige.

collectors item

We will also be making a new headboard

This is our inspiration

headboard

I will also be making new throw pillows

I ordered the fabric for the headboard and pillows from Tonic Living in Toronto. I love their fabrics!

I am going to leave the roman blinds for now. Chris doesn’t like them but I think they are cute.

As you can see from the picture our light fixture is also blue. I really love it and I don’t want to buy a new one so I am going to use some fabric paint to change the colour.

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I hope to get this all finished before Christmas but I doubt we will.

We should be getting started on the headboard next week which I am super excited about.

Check back for a tutorial on making the head board and to see the completed room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age ain’t nothing but a number, right?

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I turn 35 tomorrow. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I don’t feel 34 and when people ask how old I am I generally say 32 because I forget that I keep aging.

Maybe it’s a bad sign that I can’t remember how old I am. Or maybe I am in denial.

A lot of my friends are in their forties and they call me a baby when ever my age comes up.

That does keep me feeling young I suppose.

In truth I think I am more on the excited side to enter into my mid to late thirties. So far my thirties have been great and I think that will continue.

So why is turning 35 still a stigma?

Why does everyone keep telling me that I am now closing in on forty like it’s a bad thing?

If forty is the new thirty then sign me up!

I feel like the older I get the better I get.

Here are some things I have learned in my 34 years and 364 days:

If you act calm when someone is really mad at you it is way more effective than screaming back at them.

I understand that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I have met some truly wonderful people that are the complete opposite of the people I usually associate with.

I have learned that being a mom is like being the co-boss and one of two employees of a company. You need to know everything that goes on at all times in order to keep the ship afloat. You are the crisis manager, PR person, payroll, shipping and receiving and the company car service. So many jobs and you will never see a dime for all the work that you do but that’s okay because when your child looks at you with a huge smile and says I love you that’s payment enough.

I really don’t care what people think. We all judge. I know I judge people and that people judge me. It’s human nature to pick apart other people. Of course with the judgment comes the gossip. At 35 I have stopped caring what people say and why they are saying it. I’m too old for that garbage.

Track pants are the most amazing thing on earth but are never appropriate to wear outside of the house. Yoga pants on the other hand are meant to wear any where and every where. I kid of course there is a time and a place for yoga pants. I have never really cared about my looks or how the outside world saw me. I would go out with ratty hair and paint splattered clothes without a second thought. It wasn’t until I got in to real estate and started seeing clients outside of work and realised that I look like a slob. Now I try to at least look some what pulled together even if I am wearing yoga pants at the Home Depot. I still don’t care what people think but I don’t always want to look like a hobo.

I am turning into my father. My dad is a pretty quiet guy that looks like George from Seinfeld and has a wicked case of OCD when it comes to house keeping. I am not quiet nor do I look like a bald middle aged man but I do like things clean. I always laughed at my dad for taking eight hours to wash a car but now I am the same way. I always have Lysol wipes on hand in case I notice a smudge or smear on any surface.  Chris will laugh and shake his head as I compulsively wipe down the cupboards. I might over do it at times, I’ll admit that but I am at a stage in my life where vacuuming makes me feel happy.

Exercising  can really suck but it is totally worth it. I was the doing the 30×30 program but stopped after Callum got an ear infection that lasted for almost a month and I was too tired to move because he was getting up crying all night. I also got strep throat so that put a damper on movement too. I have of course gained weight. I am hovering near the 150 mark now and it doesn’t feel good. Sometimes I forget just how great I feel after going for a walk or doing a few push ups. I am getting back on track now and will hit 35 with a healthy and fit mentality.

Manners are not an option. I’m not sure when it became okay to be late on a regular basis or to not say thank you anymore. It is society wide and it is awful! Holding the door for an elderly woman won’t make you a hero but it will make you a decent member of society. Manners need to come back in style now!

I’m trying to remember what else I have learned but I can’t. I am old and forgetful now.