Making it simple.

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

Courtesy of Newscanada


(NC)-Do you want to make homework simpler? It can be done readily with a little guidance from specialists in this field.


Oxford Learning founder and CEO, Dr. Nick Whitehead, says that homework doesn’t always have to be a headache. “Homework might be an unavoidable part of school, but it doesn’t have to be the worst part. With the right skills in place, students can turn homework from headache-inducing to hassle-free.”


These steps will make a quick difference:


Use your agenda: The brain is capable of great feats, but it’s not perfect. Students should never rely on it to recall every school detail. When a teacher assigns homework, students should write the details in their agenda. Many schools provide agendas because they are the best organizational tools available. According to Dr. Whitehead, to make them effective, students need to remember to take the agenda out of their school bags at night, open it up, and read over the night’s to-do list.


Remove distractions: Computer on, music on, text messages incoming…this is not multi-tasking, it’s distracting. Dr. Whitehead says that unless students are doing research, they should shut off all electronics and focus on the task at hand for a set period of time. They’ll find that it’s easier to concentrate and that tasks take less time. He adds that this fact has been confirmed by studies showing learning isn’t as deep and that retention suffers when students multi-task.


Think actively: While getting homework done is the name of the game, what happens if students are struggling with a question, or can’t figure out an answer? Before giving in to frustration, it is wise for the student to take a small break then return to look at the problem again. According to Dr. Whitehead, students should consult their textbooks and school notes, take a step back to ask what the particular unit is all about, and even move ahead a few questions and see if the next section can help explain a little better. If not, use the Internet.  “Don’t just stare at the question; ask how this question relates to what is being learned overall,” he says.


Get organized: Homework is as much a part of the daily routine as waking up in the morning and going to bed at night, but it’s often the most disorganized part.  Dr. Whitehead recommends streamlining the process. ” Students should keep all the homework-related accessories in a bin or a bucket so they don’t waste time searching for pens or a calculator.” He also recommends picking the same spot to do homework every night, and (when possible) completing homework at the same time each day.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Before you spend money on the latest energy-efficient gizmo that’s supposed to save you money, let’s look at some energy saving ideas that will really help you save home energy. The strategies that we will look at will maximize the effort you put in, and help reduce your home energy consumption.

First sit down and think about all the different ways your family uses energy around the house. Now put an approximate type and cost of energy used. You may have trouble breaking down the cost but try to do it. Now all you have to do is find ways to save on your resources at the same time cut your costs. You may have to think creatively but it can be done.

So here are some tips to get you started:

– Turn the lights off when you’re not using them. This is really simple and easy to do. Do you really need your bedroom light on when you’re in the living room? Do you leave lights on when you leave the house? Do you even need more than one light on in a room for what you are doing? Believe it or not it makes a big difference.

– Turn all electronics and other appliances off when you’re not using them. No one can do everything at the same time. Can you really listen to a radio, watch television, and use your computer all at the same time?

– Set your thermostat down a couple of degrees in winter, or up in summer, to conserve energy. And dress appropriately indoors for the time of year it is. For instance in winter, put on a sweater or some extra clothing, or may snuggle under a blanket to stay warm. In the summer, wear less and stay cooler naturally.

– Only turn an appliance on when you have a full load. This is true especially for the washing machine, dryer and even the dishwasher. It is amazing how much extra energy is used doing multiple small loads in comparison to one full load.

– Do regular maintenance on your appliances. Keeping them clean means they don’t have to work as hard. Changing filters reduces the energy needed to accomplish a task. Regular care will also mean any maintenance bills that you might come up against may well be cheaper.

– Be careful how you use your water. Like when brushing your teeth or washing your hands, use only the water you need. Don’t let the water run the entire time. Also, try and use less water if you take a bath, or control your shower times.

– Simply let your hair air dry, instead of using a blow drier every day.

– Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F.

Don’t forget the bigger projects as well.

– Seal the cracks around your doors and windows. You are paying for your hot air that escapes through cracks all around your house. You need to make sure you are doing all you can to keep the warm air you’re paying for inside your house.

– You also need to check your house’s insulation. Though this has been done by many homeowners nevertheless you still need to do it before you pass it over. It is probably the biggest thing in reducing heating costs.

Now some of these things may seem trivial to you but let me assure you that even the small things add up over time. And really most of them you won’t even notice the difference to your life except your bills.

These tips and suggestions will make your home more affordable, and take some strain off of our world’s resources. Just think if all of us would make a few of these changes, it would make a huge difference.

by: Dave McIntosh 

Adventure Couple

While success is often measured simply on income or career status, taking a leap of faith to follow your dreams and realize your potential can lead to greater gains.

Canadian couple Deb Corbeil and Dave Bouskill were not focusing on the financial outcome when they left their jobs in the film industry to pursue their passion for travel.

“We had always dreamed of being professional travelers, but this path was so unexpected, so against the norm. For years we were too scared to put the dream into action,” says Bouskill, who worked in the film industry. “We were working 14 to 16 hour days when we finally had enough. In 2009, we got up the nerve to quit our jobs and we’ve been traveling ever since.”

Their adventure travel blog,, is now ranked as one of Canada’s most popular travel blogs and receives sponsorship from tourism boards across the world and some of the country’s largest brands. The couple are living proof that following your dreams can lead to gains beyond money or heightened career status.

Deb Corbeil added, “In the beginning, we thought it was crazy to give up our jobs and make travelling a full time career. We took the leap of faith, realized our potential, and are now travelling the world full time and getting paid for it!”

According to a survey conducted on behalf of American Express Canada, many more Canadians are already moving towards following their dreams and realizing their full potential. The survey looked at how adults feel about work, life and following your dreams, revealing a sense of fulfilment is a top priority for Canadians in 2013.

Of those surveyed, nine in 10 (87%) stated it’s important to follow your dreams in life, despite other commitments getting in the way. What’s more, over eight in 10 (83%) stated they are striving to learn new things because they are on a quest for more meaning in their lives.

Deb and Dave agree that following your dreams isn’t as hard as it looks, suggesting more Canadians should take the leap of faith and realize their full potential. Their advice? “You really can dream your way to anywhere.”

Courtesy of Newscanada

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

Sensible snacking solutions

When mid-morning or afternoon hunger hits, that dreaded energy drain can make us reach for a little boost. It is tempting to grab indulgent snack foods, so it’s wise to plan out well-portioned, healthy snacks ahead of time.

These perfect portion ideas from the Almond Board of California make smart snacking decisions easy:

• A nutritious snack is packed with nutrients and has fewer than 200 calories.

• Energy-boosting snacks should contain protein, fibre and very little added sugar.

• A perfect portion of almonds is one ounce (28g) or 23 almonds – about a handful – and contains 3.5 grams of fibre and 6 grams of protein.

• One tablespoon (15 mL) of almond butter has about 100 calories, 1 gram of fibre and 2 grams of protein to help keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Try these power-pairings for the ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up:

• Whole-grain bread or apple slices with almond butter;

• A small handful of whole natural almonds and dried fruit;

• Sliced turkey with mustard;

• Low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and granola;

• Air-popped vegetable chips or soy chips and hummus;

• Handful of whole natural almonds and an ounce of cheese;

• An ounce each of dark chocolate and almonds.

Or, assemble this bite-sized snack. With only three ingredients, it is simple to prepare, plus the 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fibre will provide you with energy during those mid-morning or afternoon slumps.

Dried Figs Stuffed with Almonds and Cream Cheese

Makes 2 cups


½ cup (125 mL) dried black or golden figs

¼ cup (50 mL) reduced-fat cream cheese¼ cup (50 mL) whole natural almonds


Make a lengthwise slit in each fig, not cutting all the way through. Spread a teaspoon of cream cheese inside each hole, and stuff with one or two almonds. Serve.

More information is available online at

Courtesy of Newscanada

(NC)- Every day hundreds of thousands of passengers are flying from Canadian airports. If you are one of them, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has some advice to help you get through security quickly.


“Knowing what to expect and packing appropriately will reduce the time you spend at the checkpoint and increase the time you spend enjoying your trip,” says Mathieu Larocque, a spokesperson for CATSA.


Before going to the airport make sure your clothes won’t set off the metal detector. Limit jewelry and wear clothing and shoes without snaps, metal buttons or studs. Should you set off the metal detector, you may need to undergo further screening.


Carry-on baggage and other personal items like purses will be x-rayed. Make sure your laptop is removed from its case and placed in a bin. Other items like cell phones, loose change and watches should be secured in the pockets of a coat or a jacket that will be placed a bin.

Electronic items like tablets, cameras or MP3 players can remain in your carry-on bags. Leave gifts unwrapped in case their contents need to be inspected.


Liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed in a 1L clear plastic bag, these include toiletries and grandma’s jam. Bigger containers should stay home or go in checked bags.

Have your boarding pass ready, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time so you are not rushing during the screening process.

For more tips that will get you through airport security screening in a breeze, see or the mobile site,

Courtesy of Newscanada

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