You’ve got your snow tires on and you’ve cleaned up and put all your patio furniture away, but what have you done to winterize and prepare your house? Your house is probably your biggest investment and therefore deserves a little of your attention. I’ve compiled 10 easy tips for you to help make sure your house is ready for Jack Frost and Old Man Winter.
1. Clean out the gutters. Blocked gutter can cause ice to build up in you gutters and push them away from the house. Blocked gutters also cause something called ice-damming. This is a condition on your roof where snow melts on nice sunny days but has nowhere to drain and starts to back up under the shingles and can cause interior leaks and damage. Check the eaves troughs for leaks and holes and repair as needed. Holes can lead to large and dangerous icicles.
2. Adjust and replace damaged downspouts. Downspouts can get damaged over the summer by children, pets and wayward lawnmowers. Make sure they are in good shape and are directed well away from your foundation. Water that is allowed to drain beside the foundation can cause water to freeze and apply pressure against your foundation and potentially cause cracks.
3. Clean out your window wells. Leaves and newspapers that get blown around in the fall can accumulate in window wells and block the drain that is located just below the gravel. A blocked drain can cause water to leak through your windows into your basement.
4. Turn off the outdoor water facet. You probably have a hose in your yard or garage. In very cold weather the water in the line supplying your hose can freeze and cause a pipe to burst inside the house. Make sure you shut the valve (usually located in your basement) that supplies any faucet that may be subjected to extreme cold. Don't forget to remove the hose and store it inside and leave the valve open.
5. Check the attic. It’s a good idea especially in older homes to check to make sure your insulation has not be blown away in areas near the edge where the vents are. Bare spots of insulation will cause heat loss and hot-spots on the roof which will cause snow to melt and possibly backup under your shingles as well as cause icicles to form inside your attic.
6. Do a visual inspection of your roof shingles from the ground. If you see any curled shingles, don’t wait to contact a roofing contractor to investigate immediately. Warn shingles can become loose and blow off in wind storms. Missing shingles can be very costly or impossible to replace in the middle of winter.
7. Get your furnace inspected. It’s always a good idea to have your furnace serviced each year to ensure your family’s safety as well as to make sure that it is working as efficiently as possible. Make sure to change your furnace filter every 30 days during the heating months.
8. Check windows and doors for air leaks. On a windy day, take an incense stick and hold it up to the edge of windows and door frames. Any air leaks should be corrected with caulking, or replacing doorsweeps.
9. Fireplaces and woodstoves. If you have any woodburning stove or fireplace including pellets stoves, an annual inspection and professional cleaning are required by insurance companies. Even if you never use your fireplace it’s still a good idea to have the chimney inspected every year or two to make sure that it could potentially be used in case of an extended power outage in the middle of a winter storm.
10. Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that the batteries are changed in spring and fall. Carbon monoxide detectors have an expiration date and must be replaced from time to time. Check your carbon monoxide detector for its best before date today.
Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers located in Kitchener, Ontario. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve never had the chance to attend our Oktoberfest, it is a sight to behold! As a non beer drinker I have still found joy in the festivities! Including the incredible traditional outfits, the dancing that I am so happy to see people keeping the tradition, the German Polka music and of course the chicken dance! Who doesn’t enjoy getting down to a little chicken dance. Let’s not forget the food, the region is full of pretzels, schneitzel, sausages, Oktoberfest mustard and warm beer nuts!
Oktoberfest is a great 9 days for those in the region to get together to enjoy some good cheer before winter begins and many events are family friendly. For a full list of events visit here
Below is a list of the region’s fest halls, what makes them unique and where to find them
464 Maple Ave, Kitchener
Known for their apple Strudel, go to Alpine club for the eats and stay for the fun entertainment. Alpine club offers traditional dancers, has their own house band and if you’re lucky, you may catch the lumberjack demonstration!
90 King St W – Elements Night Club
Bayerisches Haus is a community partnership with the Lions clue and will be hosting those more night club like events including Beatoberfest and Rocktoberfest, this would be the fest hall where more university students will be attending. If you’ve never been to one of these events, make sure to wear short pants, with the amount of beer spilled on the floor from the beer drinking and polka dancing, it will wick up your pants to your knees!
396 Morrison Rd, Kitchener
Our only fest hall located in a rustic ski chalet, this fest hall offers some really fun outdoor festing opportunities. You can enjoy the evening relaxing outdoors on one of the Muskoka chairs by the fire pit or try your luck in the shooting range; fire a pumpkin from the trebuchet, shoot the potato guns, blast a pumpkin from the canon, or throw and axe in the range. Gather your friends and try their 4 person shot ski too!
429 Ottawa St S, Kitchener
If you’ve never been to Oktoberfest before and you’re only going to do it once, make Concordia Club your stop. The Concordia Club is the largest ethnic German Club in Canada. The entertainment and food during the festival, as well as the rest of the year, is as unique and diverse as is the heritage of the Concordia Club. Concordia club can hold almost 4,000 guests on any fest evening with their large fest tent. While it is also the loudest of the venues, you are sure to have fun playing their many games, dancing with friends and strangers, they have live music all night long and also have traditional dancing entertainment. They also put on an incredible German platter dinner, you might even catch a glimpse of Unkle Hans if you look!
1605 Bleams Rd, Mannheim
Another staple in the fest hall lineup, Hubertushaus offers some unique food specialities including Rollbratten (pork tenderloin roasted on a spit) served with Spaetzle Noodles & Coleslaw or Breaded Pork Schnitzel served with Potato Salad & Coleslaw as well as a selection of scrumptious cakes and tortes. This year they are also hosting their 50th anniversary family event Bogenschuetzenfest. What is Bogenschuetzenfest? This family friendly event is the longest continuous running Family & Cultural Event and will be celebrating it's 50th anniversary in 2019. Anyone with a barebow and 2 special blunt-tipped arrows may participate in Bogenschuetzenfest on Saturday, October 12th. The aim is to knock off parts of a Styrofoam eagle mounted on top of a 35' pole. On Sunday, October 13, participants can compete in the Running Boar Tournament, where the target is a 3D replica of a wild boar travelling at approximately 20 km/h. Any bow is allowed and field tip arrows.
125 King St W , kitchener – Bobby O’Briens
With all the changes that have happened in the last few years in downtown, it has been harder and harder to find a home for the beer garden tent. Best thing about the tent is that they service beer and German fare and you don’t need a ticket to get in. This year, that space will be hosted on downtown Kitchener’s largest patio at Bobby O’Briens, a good match. Head downtown and watch the tapping of the keg and stop in here for a pint or two. This tent will only be open the 1st weekend of Oktoberfest
41 Ardelt Place, Kitchener
The newest Festhall, which just launched in 2019. Promising to be one of the biggest fest halls in the festival offering authentic music and food. The food will be provided by the Transylvania club, who with the closing of the stampede last year has lost their venue for Oktoberfest. Oktoberfesthaus is unique in that they will be cashless, you’ll be able to buy everything you need with just a wristband, so make sure you go online to get set up to avoid the lineups
1668 King St E, Kitchener
Schwaben club is another German club that offers year round German fare, so you know that the food is incredible, they also offer German beer on tap and are one of the only fest halls to offer this during Oktoberfest. Home of the shotski and with 2 different fest halls within Schwaben club, you are free to choose which fest hall suits you, as you progress through the halls throughout the night, they get a little more rowdy!
425 Bingeman’s Centre Dr, Kitchener
Koolhaus is another large tent fest hall. What makes Kool Haus unique is that they offer VIP lounges, you up to 5 friends can enjoy a more relaxing Oktoberfest experience with bottle service and private bar access all night. Also offering German fare and even local craft beers, Bingeman’s knows how to cater to a crowd and this is going to be one fun crowd at Kool Haus!
If you’re looking for some where to choose a great pumpkin and spend an afternoon with the kids, Snyder’s family farm is a great place to stop and do that, with 5 acres of pumpkins to choose from and some incredible play areas, this is a great place to go with the young ones to give them a day they’ll remember. If you want to go for an evening scare, they run a large haunted house too, including a haunted hayride and you can grab your pumpkin too for your porch too!
When you stop at Good Family Farm to get your pumpkins, you aren’t just getting your average pumpkins, they have a variety of sizes and shapes of course, but they also offer those strange colours in pumpkins and even those fun warty ones! With prices for pumpkins ranging from $1 to $10 you’re bound to find the perfect pumpkin for everyone in the family
Shantz family farm doesn’t have a entry fee to join in the fun! Visiting this farm is a great place to enjoy a fall weekend, they offer u pick pumpkins, a corn maze and a straw maze for the little ones, you can take a weekend hay ride and even visit with their farm animals! Don’t forget to stop at the hay bale scene for a great photo opportunity!
Another fantastic family farm that offers u pick pumpkins and fun for the littles! Corn maze, playground and a giant spider web! What makes Nauman’s different if you have older kids, is that they offer Pumpkin Slingshots and corn cannons, go and get your pumpkins and see how far you can smash that pumpkin!
Herrle’s is located very close to town and always offers the best quality produce, stop in for a pumpkin and some baked goods, I strongly suggest the cookies! Also if you like to make your own popcorn at home, their kernels are the best we have ever used! Open until October 31st and then closed until the Spring, make sure you stop in and stock up on your preserves and homemade sweet treats before they close! When you’re inside make sure you look for the train that circles the store, always a childhood favourite!
Stephanie Catcher at 12:36 PM
Mid Week Date Night Ideas in Kitchener/Waterloo
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Mid Week Date Night Ideas in Kitchener Waterloo
Looking for something different that you can do midweek and still make it home in a timely fashion on a "school night" Date night on a week night can be just a fun and maybe a little more affordable, and maybe even easier to find a sitter.
I've been told that my whole life is a date night, so here's some ideas of quick things that we would do for fun on a weeknight when we're looking for something to do! There's so much to do in the region and I'm sure you can find something to suit everyone.
Open till 10:30 weeknigts and offering BOGO pricing on Thursdays, this is a good place to go and try something new, offering unique virtual reality experiences in a variety of options from first person shooter games to team sports like badminton and even virtual surgery games, it's sure to please everyone. With online booking you can check out their avaialbility and make this a unique experience together. With locations in Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, you can pair this evening out with your favourite place to eat too!
If you're looking to make something cute for each other, maybe a favourite mug or plate, this is a great place to show a little love on a piece of art you make yourselves! Open till 8pm on weeknights, you can drop in anytime and make your own masterpiece (just choose your pottery) or go online to view their fun uipcoming themed events. Having a mid week date night here is something that will last and is easy to do with no reservations or studio fees required!
Trivia nights is a great way to enjoy a little friendly competition or to pool your strange knowledge together to conquer! To learn about some great spots about where to Trivia in Kitchener Waterloo, check out the previous blog post here.
Rhapsody is a great place to go for dinner and entertainment. Tuesday’s is Black Ball Comedy night, catch a comedian and grab dinner, starting at 8:30 this is generally still an early night home! Other fun evenings at Rhapsody include open mic night and live music. Within something happening every evening at Rhapsody, make sure you check their calendar of events to see which evening best suits you.
Nailed it night offers lots of options for DIY home décor items and has fun events happening all over town, including locations like Kitchener Farmers Market, Bridgeport Community Centre and Descnedants Beer and Beverage Company, who doesn’t enjoy a little local beer with some painting and designing. They have an extensive calendar of their events on their facebook page where you can make fall porch leaners, Halloween crafts, Christmas crafts, winter wreaths, family signs and so much more! This is another great date night where you get to leave with great memories.
If you’re like us and like to look at vintage materials and get inspiration on home projects, then a date night to timeless material and café is made for you! Timeless materials closes at 6pm, so you have to make sure to get there quick, shop there until 6pm and then hash over your ideas for projects next door at timeless café. Their Thursday date night dinner menu is a great way to enjoy some time together, check out their site for what they offer on date night menus every week. Their date night menu is $69 per couple and offers a 4 course dinner, there will be lots of time to talk about your next home overhaul over this incredible dinner!
If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy a movie in the VIP cinema on Fairway yet, you are missing out, the seats are incredibly comfortable, they serve you right at your seat, including alcohol and on Wednesday’s they offer date night, which includes dinner and a movie for 2, which considering what a night at the movies can cost, this is a great night out! The date night dinner includes 3 course, a shareable appetizer, 2 main entrees and a shareable dessert and the best part about this theatre is that there are no kids allowed, so choose your movie and enjoy a relaxing night out!
Stephanie Catcher at 1:36 PM
Where to pick apples in Waterloo Region
Saturday, September 7, 2019
Apple Picking In Kitchener/Waterloo and surrounding Area
Is there anything tastier than a Crisp Fall Apple? My favourite apple is the Honey Crisp, they are basically like the Cadillac of apples and are described as Super Crisp, Very Juicy and Bursting with flavour, how can you not want that!? When you go out to a place to pick your own, certain apples are much more affordable, like Honey Crisp and get you to spend a few hours in the Orchard!
Here are some spots where you can go to get some fresh from farm apples or go and pick your own. Make a day of it and go enjoy our beautiful local orchards.
Located at: 1420 Lobsinger Line, close to the St. Jacobs market
While you can’t pick your own apples here, they offer all you would expect from an apple farm, crisp apples in many varieties, fresh pressed cider and many preserves. They also have store hours that you can still get it after work. This is a great stop if you are pressed for time and don’t want to pick your own but still want farm fresh.
Located at: 235 Howell Rd, St George – Between Cambridge & Brantford
This is the orchard I make a stop at once a year to pick my own apples. There’s something about an apple right off the tree that is just so tasty! This orchard offers many varaties of apples both in pick your own or in their outdoor farm store. They also have pumpkins and homemade tasty treats if you are looking for a reason to stop in.
Just down the road from Orchard Home Farm is another family owned orchard that offers more fun for the whole family including a tractor ride to pick your own apples and a corn maze! They also offer many apple products including cider, butters, jellies and even apple cider donuts!
Chudleigh’s is full of many happy family memories for a lot of people in the region and this is why I’ve included it on the list, even though it’s a bit of a drive and outside the region. Chudleigh’s is more of a tradition that just a place to pick your apples. They offer admission to get in and you can take wagon rides, visit the farm animals, swing on the ropes swings on the nature trail and watch the kids play on their slides and hay maze. They offer BBQ for lunch options and of course their apple blossom dessert! Make a day of it, take your family and enjoy all the Chudleigh’s has to offer, they have been offering up fall fun to families for generations.
Planning on renovating your home? Or, buying a new home and planning extensive renovations before moving in? Well here are some important points to consider concerning your home insurance.
Home renovations can increase the value of your home, help keep it in good shape or provide you with that extra living space you want. No matter the reason for your renovation, you need to let your insurance broker or agent know about your reno. Some renovations can even create a discount in your insurance. Quite often an endorsement for renovations will be added to your policy during the period of construction. Make sure to discuss the possible exclusions or limitations with your broker so that you understand the changes in coverage during the process.
Most homeowner policies include replacement cost for the home itself. If you increase the value by doing renovations you may find yourself with inadequate coverage.
If your home is going to be vacant for any period during renovations, even if the workers are going to be there on a daily basis, it’s very important that your broker be informed. A vacancy permit from the insurance company may be required.
Don’t be shy about asking your contractors for proof of insurance and find out who will be responsible for getting the building permits. Tell them that you require a certificate of insurance before you agree to sign the contract. If the contractor is not properly insured, you could find yourself liable for the cost of damages and injuries.
So the best renovation plans include talking with your insurance advisor about the changes that plan to make sure that your home is properly covered. Wouldn’t you hate to have something catastrophic happen to the house after you’ve spent a lot of money on getting it just the way you want it just to find out that those changes may not be covered because you didn’t inform the insurance company?
Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers in Kitchener, Ontario. email@example.com
5 Steps To Tackling Debt That Will Make You Feel Good
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
The following tips will increase your confidence in your ability to take back control of your life.
1. Determine The Size Of The "Opportunity"
Problems are actually opportunities waiting to be discovered. Adopting this attitude will help you see that you can make choices that will positively impact your life.
Action: recognize that not all debt is equal. Classify your debt by the interest cost of the debt. The highest interest cost debt is the first opportunity to pursue.
2. Follow The Money
You’ve likely heard the expression “follow the money”. Begin by reviewing your expenses. When expenses exceed income, savings reduction, debt accumulation or both is always the result. Next, what opportunities exist to increase your income?
Reducing your expenses is often easier than increasing your income.
Action: make a monthly list of expenses for each of the past 3-6 months and categorize each expense as either “must have” (example: food) or “like to have” (example: entertainment).
3. What Are The Viable Alternatives?
It is easy to get “locked” into your behaviour as it is related to how you spend your money. Your past experiences have shaped your habits and consequently your beliefs about the future .
Be willing to confront your past behaviour by changing saving and spending habits.
Action: Identify less expensive alternatives for some “must have” and “like to have” purchases with the objective of reducing your total spending. Establish a savings goal.
4. Start Small
Provide yourself opportunities to succeed. If you start with a small change in behaviour, you can experience success more quickly and provide yourself with needed encouragement.
Action: eliminate one or more small expenses from your “like to have” list. Use the savings to reduce high interest cost debt and/or increase savings.
It is important to recognize the progress that you make on this journey. Keep the celebrations small but do celebrate. They will become a habit that you’ll want to repeat.
Action: set a modest goal that you can achieve quickly. Take the necessary action to achieve your goal; have a small celebration and then repeat the process.
Everyone knows you should clean your home before you list it for sale but are you only touching the surface? When it comes to the sale of your largest asset, it is crucial that you deep clean your home top to bottom as buyers will be looking everywhere.
Here is a list of commonly forgotten about areas that definitely need to be cleaned:
Vacuum, sweep and/or mop every room in the house. Be sure to move furniture also.
Clean all bathrooms. You want to make sure they sparkle and shine. Be sure to do a good job on showers, tubs and toilets as buyers want to see these personal areas be as clean as new.
Wipe down bathroom walls, especially the spot underneath where your towels hang. Water often gets splashed onto the wall while we’re drying our hands and it drips down, leaving marks.
Clean all mirrors.
Clean all sinks and faucets.
Clean windows inside and out. Buyers WILL notice dirty windows. This includes blinds. Blinds build up dust very easily so don't assume they are clean.
Check all light switches and ensure face plates are clean.
Kitchen cupboards – clean inside and out.
Clean all doors, especially the knobs and handles.
Dust all furniture.
Dust in the corners of the each room to remove any cobwebs.
Wipe down all trim, you’ll be surprised at how dirty this can get.
Clean all appliances inside and out.
By following the above list you will have a sparkling clean house that buyers will appreciate. You should also go over this checklist on a weekly basis while selling to ensure your home is clean for all Open Houses and showings.
Part 1 is the Staging Consultation. Whether Occupied or Vacant, the Home Stager will meet with the homeowner and go room by room to address the current condition of the home. We will provide a full, detailed report with recommendations for the homeowner to complete in order to prepare their home to be listed for sale. This could include, and is not limited to, painting, cleaning, de-cluttering, updating, neutralizing, depersonalizing, organizing, reconfiguring and removal of furniture and accessories, exterior, landscaping and curb appeal improvements. We are able to walk through the home with “Buyers eyes” and make you aware of the things that buyers will notice. The report also includes an Open House and Showing checklist for the homeowner to refer to before their home is viewed by potential buyers. We will also include a proposal outlining the investment of going forward with showcasing the home.
Part 2 is Completing the Recommendations. The homeowner is responsible for completing the recommendations outlined for them in the Consultation Report. This crucial step prepares the home for part 3 of the Home Staging process. It is important to address any repairs or updates needed to improve the overall condition of the home. If necessary, the Home Stager can supply the homeowner with a list of tradespeople who can assist them in completing these tasks.
Part 3 is Showcasing the Property. This is when the Home Stager returns to the home and completes the transformation. A team of Home Staging Professionals will go to work placing furniture, artwork, accessories, lighting and other necessary design elements to showcase your home at its best and brightest. We use our training and experience to highlight your home’s best features in order to attract the best buyers who will bring you the best offer. We take into account how each room will show in MLS photos as well as how buyers will navigate through the home during showings and Open Houses.
In occupied homes, we are able to work with the homeowner’s existing furniture and accessories to better market each room. We are also able to bring in an assortment of pieces if necessary.
In vacant homes, we are able to supply all furniture and accessories necessary to showcase the home.
Showcasing can be completed throughout the entire property or just the impact rooms, meaning we can work with all different budgets.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind if you’re planning on being away for the Holidays.
1. Arrange for a relative or neighbour to come into your house every 24hrs in the winter
2. Have the person checking your house run the water and flush the toilets
3. If you plan on being away for more than a week in the winter, it is recommended that turn off your main water supply. This doesn’t take the place of someone checking on the house, and don’t forget to let them know that you have shut the water off so that they don’t suspect a pipe-freeze
4. Ask a neighbour to put some garbage out in front of your house on garbage day
5. Have someone bring in flyers, newspaper and mail, or have your mail held for the time you’ll be away
6. Set timers to activate lamps in several rooms, especially those that can be seen from the front and back of the house
7. Arrange for someone to shovel your sidewalk and driveway if it snows
8. Offer your driveway to neighbours to park visiting cars
Remember anything you can do to make your house look occupied will be a deterrent to criminals and offer you peace of mind while you are away.
Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers in Kitchener, Ontario.