Information about Calgary Living

Hosting a block Party

Settling in to your new Community

 

Hosting a block Party
Your new home has been purchased, the keys are in your hand and you have started to unpack. Now it is time to meet your neighbours and get involved in your community. Here are some handy tips to get you started.
1) Check out the community centre 
Especially if you want you and your family to get to know other families in the neighbourhood then check out the local community centre. If you have kids consider signing them up for a class or a sports team so they can meet the other kids in their neighbourhood and form new friendships.
2) Host a block party 
One thing that always brings people together is food! If space allows, set up the barbecue, buy some hot dogs/hamburgers/veggie burgers etc and print off some invitations. Slip these in your neighbours mailboxes. In order to cut down on your costs and ensure there is enough food for everyone who attends consider hosting your block party as a potluck.
3) Get involved!
Is the local soccer team looking for a new coach? Do you think kids in the neighbourhoods would benefit from an art class? Talk to the staff at the community centre and see about getting involved.
4) Take a class or join a club
Consider signing up for a class or joining a club that matches your interests. Especially if you are in a new city where you don’t know anyone this is a great way to meet people and make new friends.
5) Attend a local fair or event
This is a great way to meet people who share your interests. Calgary has lots of events such as the Calgary Children’s Festival, Folk Fest, the Sled Island Music Festival, the Calgary Stampede and Adult’s Only Night at Telus Spark. For a list of local events and activities try websites like http://www.todocanada.ca/things-to-do-calgary-this-weekend/
Preparing your home for sale.

A Quick Guide to Prepping Your Home for Sale 

Preparing your home for sale.

So you have decided to sell your home and you are prepping for your home to go on the market. Here are some handy tips to help entice potential buyers.

1) Half empty closets 
The point of an open house is to show off your home’s assets and convince potential buyers to become definite buyers. To show your home in its best light avoid any clutter, especially in places people expect it like storage rooms and closets. By keeping these areas tidy (an ideally almost empty) you make the space seem bigger and more enticing.
2) Hide your pets 
Not everyone loves animals. To avoid putting off potential buyers ( and reduce clutter) put away any pet related items, especially things like pet food and litter boxes, which smell. Arrange for a pet sitter or animal play date for the day, hide Fluffy’s litter box and Fido’s ratty tennis ball and be sure to vacuum up any pet hair!
3) Don’t overdue the upgrades 
Remember, you are planning on leaving and you don’t really know what the next family to live in this home is like yet. So while you may want the marble countertops they may not. Doing some touch ups is fine, but don’t pour money in unnecessarily. You may not get a good return on the investment, and the new home owners may redo your renos anyways.  A general rule of thumb is you will receive most of your investment back on Kitchens and bathrooms.  While the other upgrades may not result in a positive net return on your investment, they will enhance the saleability of your property.
4) Make it neutral
When potential buyers go to an open house they are picturing what it would be like if they lived there instead of you. To help them get into this mind set make your house as neutral as possible. Hide any family photos, take down the mechanical singing fish from the wall and (as mentioned before) hide any evidence of pets. This also helps reduce clutter and make them space feel more spacious.
5) Don’t forget the kitchen!
People spend a lot of time in their kitchens, so make sure yours is up to snuff!  Dated or unattractive kitchen can drastically reduce the price point of your home. Invest in a coat of fresh paint and make sure your cupboards, light fixtures and counter tops don’t look dated.
6) Always be ready for a surprise showing
You never know when a potential buyer may ask to see your home. To avoid a last minute panic keep your home in “open house standby mode”. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, dirty laundry on the floor or let the bathrooms and kitchen get dirty. Do a quick clean each day in the off chance your realtor calls and asks to show your home on short notice.
Painting Bathroom

Remodelling your Bathroom

Painting Bathroom

Whether you are fixing up your home before it goes on the market or making your new home your own you don’t want to forget about the bathroom. Rarely thought about, this often used space is an important one. Here are some important tips for when you choose to remodel
1) Choose appropriate materials 
The bathroom gets a lot of use, and as such the surfaces need to be durable. Porcelain is always a safe bet, and can be found in a variety of colours and textures to suit your style.
2) Choose appropriate colours and lighting 
Bathrooms are often small, so you will want to avoid anything that makes them seem cramped. Choosing bright or light colours will help to make the space feel bigger. If you have your heart set on dark, bold colours you can still incorporate them by doing things like tiling the floor or backsplash in that colour, choosing it as your shower curtain or painting a feature wall. For a feature wall, pick one with a window or the shower so it doesn’t feel overpowering.
3) Tub, Shower or Both?
You want to create a space that you will actually use. If you aren’t really going to use the tub you may consider ditching it in favour of a more spacious shower. Then again, if you have a dog or small children the bathtub may be essential. Base your choice on what you will actually use. If you are looking to sell consider a bathtub/shower combo (room permitting) since you want to appeal to as many people as possible.
4) Lighting
You want the room to be well lit, using both natural lighting sources and artificial ones. Natural light from a discrete window can make the lighting less harsh. Opt for a frosted window, or a window with a curtain light enough to allow light in while still maintaining privacy.
Baking soda and Vinegar Cleaners

Green and Budget Friendly Cleaning Tips

 

Baking soda and Vinegar Cleaners
Did you know that many ordinary items found in your pantry or fridge can also double as cleaning ingredients? To help keep your home spotless try these handy tips that are easy on the environment and your budget.
1) Use Vinegar as a mild disinfectant 
Add a half cup of vinegar to a litre of warm water for an easy and gentle cleaning solution. Works well on all wipeable surfaces.
2) Use vinegar as fabric softener 
Whether you want something gentler or just discovered you are out of fabric softener in the middle of doing laundry vinegar can help! Add half a cup to your washing machine for gentle softness without the strong scent. Simply pour in a top loader, or pour into the fabric softener compartment of a front loader.
3) Use lemon juice as bleach
Avoid the harshness of bleach by swapping it out for lemon juice. To keep your whites bright simply add lemon juice to your next load of whites. Simply pour in a top loader, or pour into the bleach compartment of a front loader.
4) Baking Soda Scrub
To tackle yellowing grout simply mix up a paste with baking soda. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a table spoon each of water and lemon juice. Using an old tooth brush you can now scrub away those ugly stains. For a more potent mix, substitute a cap full of bleach for the lemon juice.
5) Freshen stinky shoes with baking soda and your freezer 
Conquer stinky odour simply and effectively. Place your shoes in a sturdy ziplock bag or Tupperware container and place them in the freezer overnight. This will kill any bacteria that may be causing the odour. If the smell persists then liberally sprinkle the soles with baking soda and allow the shoes to stand for 24 hours. Use a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to deodorize the sides of the shoes.
Make up Tips

Quick and Easy Makeup Tips to Help You Get the Perfect Look

Make up TipsMakeup. Whether it is an every day staple or something you only wear for special occasions it can be tricky to get it done perfectly. Here are a few helpful tips to help you get the look you want.

-Need a pop of colour? Add some colour while keeping it subtle by using a dark but colourful eye liner like dark green, dark blue, or dark purple. Pair with neutral eye shadows like cream, beige and soft browns for a subtle daytime look and blend the eye shadow over top of the eye liner.
– The key to makeup is balance. Highlight your eyes or your lips, not both. If you want to look dramatic but not clownish go for either a bold red or berry coloured lipstick with subtle, light eye shadow or a dramatic dark shadow with pale or neutral lips.
– If your makeup looks too harsh overall try softening your eye liner by blending with a blending stick. This makes the look less harsh while helping your eye lashes look really thick by filling in the gaps at the base of the hairs.
– To keep you lipstick from wearing off cover your lips with a tissue after you blot and then brush powder over them through the tissue.
– Lips looking too thin? To make your lips look fuller dab a little bit of lip gloss in the centre of your lower lip and keep the rest of your lipstick matte.
– Eye shadow not as bright or subtle as you would like? Try using white or cream eye shadow with it. Put the white shadow on under the coloured one to make your colours brighter, or put a thin coat of white or cream over the colour to soften it.
– For a really dramatic colour, use a thick eyeliner pencil instead of eye shadow. Simply apply like you would a normal eye liner and then blend. This technique is particularly useful for metallics.
– Nail breaking or splitting? You can reduce the damage and keep your nail intact using a tea bag! First, remove any polish on the nail. Next, cut open your tea bag and dump put the tea leaves, saving the mesh bag. Cut a small piece of the bag and affix it your entire nail using clear nail polish. You may want to follow this with a coat of coloured polish to hide the tea bag.
Canadian Money

Ways to save on your bills

Canadian Money

Saving Money

No one likes paying bills, especially in these tough economic times. However, there are a variety of ways you can help reduce the size of your monthly bills and spend your money smarter.

1) Reduce water consumption

This can be done in a variety of ways. Small changes to your water consumption rituals can make a huge difference. You can take shorter showers. You can also turn off the water when you are not using it, both while brushing your teeth and doing the dishes. Scrape your plates well, and only run your dishwasher when it is full. You may also consider investing in a rain barrel, which will cut down on your plant watering costs.

2) Reduce your electricity consumption.

Do you always turn off the lights when you leave the room? Lighting and unoccupied room wastes electricity and takes its toll on the lifespan of your light bulbs. You can also consider switching to energy efficient bulbs, and try taking advantage of natural light sources during the day.

Another huge energy user is the air conditioner. Instead of running it, try spending more time in the basement, which will stay cool all on its own.

3) Streamline services

How often do you watch cable? If you hardly use it, why keep it? Services like Netflix can fulfill your tv and movie cravings, and let you cut down your bills by getting rid of cable. Another place you may be paying for something you never use is your landline. Most people have cellphones, and hardly use the Josie phone anymore. Cutting the cord on your home phone can save you money.

4) Borrow, don’t buy

Did you know the Calgary Public Library doesn’t charge membership fees? They also offer a wide variety of books, films and e books for borrowing. If you are the type of person who only reads a book once, then why pay to buy it when you can borrow it for free?

5) Cook smarter

Instead of going out for dinner, or lunch with your office buddies, cook a big batch of food for dinner. Cooking at home is significantly cheaper than eating out, and big batches can do double duties as lunch the next day.

Exhibit from Royal Tyrell Museum

Attractions in Southern Alberta

Summer is the perfect time of year for a weekend or day trip. Southern Alberta boats tons of fun and interesting attractions for the whole family. Here is a short list to help you plan your perfect summer daytrip.

Exhibit from Royal Tyrell Museum

Royal Tyrell Museum

1)The Royal Tyrrell Museum

Southern Alberta is known for its huge deposit of dinosaur fossils. Come marvel at these gigantic and majestic creatures at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. It will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to drive from Calgary to Drumheller, so you will want to get an early start. The museum is open from 9am to 9pm seven days a week. For more information, please visit http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/

2) Vulcan

Named after the planet and species from Star Trek, this town is a science fiction lovers dream! This charming little town has really embraced its name sake. Come see the Tourism and Trek station, a one of a kind visitor Center that looks like a landed spaceship! For more information, please visit http://www.vulcantourism.com/

3) Banff national park

Located about 1.5 hours from Calgary, Banff national park is a natural wonder! Full of majestic mountains, beautiful flora and fauna and a picturesque mountain town, Banff truly embodies the best of Alberta’s natural beauty. For more information (and national park admission rates) please visit http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx. Want to hit the slopes? Check out the mountain resort of Lake Louise! More information at http://m.banfflakelouise.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.banfflakelouise.com%2F&utm_referrer=#2586

4) Hiking, biking and camping

For those who love the rugged outdoors, southern Alberta boats lots of biking and hiking trials as well as campsites. There are trails for every ability level, from novice to expert. To find the right trail for your group, please visit https://alltrails.com/canada/alberta as well as http://reserve.albertaparks.ca

What to wear – dressing for Calgary’s weather year round. 

CalgaryWinter

This weather isn’t far away. 🙁

 

Welcome to Calgary! One of the oldest jokes here is that if you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes for it to change. As such, you really will need clothes for all types of weather. Here is a handy guide to help you dress appropriately.

1) Layers

Since the temperature can vary quite significantly throughout the day, it helps to prepare for all types of weather. Spring and fall usually hair require a light coat, but that can change. It’s always best to dress in layers: shirt, sweater, jacket. That way you can change as often as the weather does.

2) Rain

It doesn’t rain very often in Calgary, with the “rainy season” lasting from the end of April to the beginning of June. During this time it is advisable to buy rain boots, carry an umbrella, or bring a hooded rain jacket. Calgary often experiences “sun showers”, short bursts of rain while the sun is still shining. They don’t last long, and don’t tend to cover large geographic areas, but it never hurts to be prepared.

3) Snow

The dreaded “S word” that all Calgarians hate! Snow usually occurs between late September, through till May or sometimes even June. During this time of year it is best to invest in a good winter coat, a solid pair of winter boots with nice grippy bottoms (for the ice), warm mittens and a good toque (a winter hat, traditionally knit from wool). If you are planning long drives it is good to make sure all passengers have these items, and that you pack a warm blanket in the trunk in case you have car troubles. Calgary is also subject to the occasional freak snowstorm in the summer, but the temperature doesn’t tend to go too far below zero and the snow tends to melt quickly. A warm sweater and  raincoat or umbrella should suffice for most brief summer snow storms.

4) Sunshine

It can get quite hot in Calgary, with summer temperatures averaging around 22 degrees Celsius and sometimes climbing over 30 degrees. That may not seem very warm to some people, but it is warm enough to cause dehydration and heat stroke. Drink plenty of water in the summer, and avoid staying in the sun all day. Sunburn is not only unpleasant, but can lead to skin cancer.

5) Stampede

While not weather related, Stampede does come with its own dress code. Most Calgarians warmly embrace The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth, and dress accordingly. Jeans, cowboy hats and cowboy boots become the norm, from sales associates to CEOs. Cowboy hats and boots can be very expensive, especially right before Stampede. If you want to get in the spirit without breaking your budget, a pair of jeans or jean shorts paired with a plaid collared shirt will let you fit right in. If you aren’t use to cowboy boots they can be uncomfortable, so it is advisable to wear solid waking shoes to the fair grounds rather than cowboy boots.

Calgary: A Quick Reference Guide

timmysstampede

Welcome to Calgary! To help you get settled in, here is a quick reference guide to the city. From local sports teams to city wide celebrations, here is everything you need to know.

1) Local Hockey Teams

Hockey is huge in Canada, and Calgary is no exception! The local team for the NHL (National Hockey League) is the Calgary Flames. During playoff season you will hear locals talk of the “Red Mile”. This is a giant,  unofficially organized party that occurs on 17th avenue, typically after home games at the Saddledome, which is located nearby. This party can be VERY rowdy, and is not for the faint of heart!
 
The other local hockey team, in the Western Hockey League, is the Calgary Hitman. 
 

2) Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth! 

 
The Calgary Stampede is a week long carnival and rodeo that runs every year at the beginning of July.  Many downtown businesses shut down for the week, as the mass of Stampede goers can make commuting difficult, especially on Parade Day.  Nearly everyone in the city gets into the “stampede mood”, so don’t be shy! Grab your friends, family and cowboy hat and join in the fun! 
 

3) Tim Horton’s – A National Treasure.

If you are moving from another part of Canada you will already be familiar with Canada’s love affair with Tim Horton’s. For those of you coming from farther abroad, let me explain. Tim Horton was a famous hockey player, who opened his first coffee and donut shop in 1964 in Hamilton Ontario. To many Canadians, Tim Hortons is more than just a coffee shop. It occupies a unique place in the Canadian psyche, and is seen as being quintessentially Canadian.   When Robb is travelling abroad, he always packs a sleeve of Tim Hortons coffee cups, just so he can spot his fellow Canadians.
 

4) Commuting 

Depending on where you work and where you live, you will likely have to commute. If you work downtown, your best bet is to use Calgary Transit, which covers both city buses and the LRT (Light Rail Transit) called the C Train. Parking downtown is both scarce and expensive. If you don’t work downtown, you may want to drive as transit becomes more spread out and less efficient the farther you are from the core (downtown). If you do end up driving, expect rush hour to last from about 7 am to 9 am, and from about 3:30pm to 6:00pm. During these times, it is best to avoid the Deerfoot. The Deerfoot, as Deerfoot Trail is called, is the major North-South road in Calgary. Normally traffic moves quickly on it, but during rush hour it often slows to a crawl.   Calgary is in the process of completing the final southwest leg of Stoney Trail, which is a ring road that encompasses the city.

Five Calgary Attractions All Tourists (and Locals) Should Visit

Heritage Park's Gasoline Alley

Heritage Park’s Gasoline Alley

1) The Calgary Tower

Offering a 360 degree view of the entire city, the Calgary Tower is what makes our city’s skyline unique. Complete with breathtaking views (and a glass floor for the brave), this is a sight you can’t afford to miss! Finish your day with an elegant dinner at the Sky 360 restaurant, the famous rotating restaurant that completes one full rotation every hour.

2) Heritage Park

See how the West once was! This family friendly adventure lets you travel back in time with Canada’s largest living museum. Take a ride around the reservoir on the S.S. Moyie, hop aboard a steam locomotive and unwind at the old fashioned carnival. Experience history, and have fun! The park is open daily May 16 to September 8, and open weekends from September 8 to October 12. Hours of operation are 9:30 am to 5 pm. Couldn’t get a parking spot near the entrance? Ride the Tram right up to the gate!
Have a formal lunch at the Selkirk Grill or the dining room of the Wainwright Hotel. Looking for something more casual? Try Gunn’s Dairy Barn, the Railway Cafe, or the Club Cafe. Heritage Park is also open the 6 weekends before Christmas. Come celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with sleigh rides, delicious baking and even a children’s Christmas market.

3) The Calgary Zoo

From the Antarctic to Africa, the Calgary Zoo hosts many different types of animals, including Penguins, Elephants, Gorillas and Giraffes. The Zoo is open year round, 9 am to 5 pm. Grab lunch at the Kitamba Cafe, or if you are looking for a picnic, grab some casual cuisine from one of the concession kiosks scattered throughout the grounds.

4) Spruce Meadows

A world class Show Jumping facility, Spruce Meadows is definitely worth a visit! Tournaments typically run February to October. Please visit http://www.sprucemeadows.com/tournaments/ for full details. Bring a picnic and make it a family outing. Spruce Meadows is perfect for the family on a budget, with tickets starting at $5 per person, and children under 12 and adults over 65 getting in free.

5) Calaway Park

Calaway Park is Western Canada’s largest outdoor amusement park, perfect for a hot summer’s day with the family. Located just 10 km west of Calgary, this attraction is only a short drive away, or bring your RV and spend the night! Park is open daily 10 am to 7 pm.