Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Staging Sells!

Did you know??

77% of people view homes first on the internet. Be sure that your home shows above the rest, by staging it first! (Source: 2005 National Association of Realtors ® survey)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Decluttering Tip - Using Gift Bags to Organize Your closet

A great way to organize your closets is with fun, decorative gift bags. This is also a great way to re-use those paper store bags. I use a number of different bags to store items such as my pedicure supplies, my craft supplies, paints, plastic bags, etc. It’s great for keeping everything you need for a project together, and keeps the closets looking clutter-free.

The best way to hang these great looking bags is with 3M command hooks. Let me first of all just start by saying that I do not work for 3M, nor are they a sponsor in any way, however I often feel like a spokesperson for them, as I absolutely love their command hooks. These hooks adhere to the wall with a plastic adhesive pad. They can hold a great deal of weight (each hook serves a different purpose and holds a different amount of weight – be sure to read the package carefully ensure you’re choosing the right one for your needs), and they remove from the walls without leaving any mark. I use command hooks to hang pictures for all my staging projects to avoid puncturing the walls.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo

It’s not often that I find myself using this medium to promote a business not related to my industry, however since I do aim to live a life of health and wellness, I was incredibly pleased to find myself at Thrive Juice Bar in the Bauer complex in Waterloo a couple of days ago. I came to learn of Thrive from a recommendation from a colleague, and I eagerly invited a friend to a late lunch to check it out.

Thank you to  Johnny for providing such an amazing experience. While famous for their fresh juices, they serve fresh quality food as well. We tasted a delicious vegan soup, made fresh in-house, full of flavours and not dairy or gluten. Then we each tried one of 4 choices of sandwiches (they’re currently not named, but we called them #2 and #3). We had our choice of fresh organic breads as well as a gluten-free option. Our meals were served with complimentary cucumber water, which was a welcome refreshment. Finally we finished the meal with a dairy free vegan coconut sorbet.

While I have made several mentions here to their vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu, I assure you meat-lovers that you will not miss the meat when you dine here. There is so much to choose from, with all their foods bursting with flavour, you’ll forget that it’s actually good for you as well. Be sure to check it out soon!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beautiful Bouquets of...Leaves?

That’s right! Create a beautiful arrangement of leaves fresh from your own yard or neighbourhood (if you plan to use your neighbours leaves, be sure to get permission first). Before the leaves have all changed and fallen for the season, be sure to enjoy them one last time. Fill a vase as you would with flowers, but instead use fresh leaves. Mix your greens with some colourful leaves if you have some available, such as from a Japanese Maple tree. Treat the leaves as you would flowers and cut the stems on an angle using clean, sharp scissors, then put in water right away. You can use leaves from your trees, or look to the plants in your garden as well. At this time of year, I know that my hosta leaves are big and bold, and I love to show them off. They’ll brighten up your house, and make for a great conversation piece.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvesting Your Sunflower Seeds

So you managed to grow some amazing sunflowers, congratulations! You’re probably now thinking that you would like to harvest these seeds, either to ensure that you get the same incredible crop for next year, or as a snack, or perhaps as bird feed. Whatever your use, here’s how to do it:

First, be sure your sunflowers are ready. Sunflower seeds begin to ripen on the outer edges of the seedhead first, but may not be ripe in the center for another week or two. Wait until the petals fade and dry before cutting the seedhead. If you notice birds are harvesting the seeds for you, then it means they’re ready to take down.

Cut down the sunflowers and hang upside in a dry area. Allow to dry out for a couple of weeks. Be sure to either wrap in cheesecloth, or attach a bag or container of some sort under the flower to catch any seeds that may simply fall out. As for the remaining seeds, the method that I found worked best for me was to use two sunflower heads to rub together to loosen the seeds. The seeds will fall out easily and can be caught in a container. Remaining seeds can then be rubbed out with a towel or picked by hand.

Now you can store away until next spring to plant, or feed to the birds, or to your family and friends. Consider roasting some with some pumpkin seeds as nice healthy treat!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Designing a Kids Room

Time to re-do the kid’s room? Check out House & Home Online for some great tips and ideas:

Kitchen Tips - BTSH Around The House Tip - September 2010

From storage, to cleaning, to keeping food fresh, here are some tips that I have tried and tested, and am now ready to share with you.

Cleaning Odors from Your Cutting Board (and hands)
Fresh lemon, nothing works better! Cut a slice of lemon, and rub on your cutting board after using your board for strong odour foods such as garlic or onions.

Coffee Ice Cubes
Do you enjoy iced coffee drinks? Take unused coffee and pour into an ice cube tray and freeze to use as ice cubes in your drinks. Also great for black coffee drinkers that want to cool down their coffee quickly without watering it down.

What To Do With Bad Bananas
When you notice your bananas starting to turn brown, the best thing to do is throw them into the freezer while you decide what you would like to do with them. I enjoy smoothies and shakes all year round, so I’ll use the frozen bananas in these. If you peel and slice before freezing they’re even easier to use, but it’s not necessary. Another great use is banana bread. Most banana bread recipes suggest using over-rip bananas, and they’re easier to use once they’ve been frozen and thawed as no mashing is required. You can also use the banana peels in your garden. Bury in the dirt near your tomato plants or roses to add potassium to the soil.

How to Control Pepper Grinds
This tip actually came from my mother. She found a small, round glass dish, actually meant as a candle holder, and she placed this under her pepper mill. This is great for keeping pepper grinds from getting on your counter and table.

How to Clean Your Microwave—Naturally
Cut a lemon in half and place skins down in a bowl. Cover half the lemon with water, and place in the microwave. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. After the microwave is done, leave the bowl with the lemon in there for another 5 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean.

Keeping Onions Fresh
Once again, Mom to the rescue. She found me a great onion keeper, though unfortunately I’m not sure where she got it. I found a similar one online, and discovered that they also sell these keepers for tomatoes, and peppers. The keeper has a slightly raised, grooved bottom that keeps the onion fresher longer, while keeping the odour out of my fridge.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Friday, September 17, 2010

Curb Appeal - Day 5 - Curb Appeal For Selling Your Home

Now that you’ve made the necessary repairs to the exterior of your home, and cleaned up the outside, you’ll need to be sure to maintain the fresh look to ensure that every potential buyer enters the house. I can honestly say that when I was looking for my home, I refused to enter several houses simply because the exterior told a story that I didn’t want to hear. When you’re selling your home, you need to be sure that the curb appeal aspect is maintained as long as your home is on the market, and be sure that you are happy that all areas have been covered before the home is listed, and before any pictures of the home are posted with the listing. Here are some things to consider:

1.       Add colourful planters to the porch

2.       Keep the lawn mowed in the spring and summer, and clear of leaves in the fall

3.       Shovel the sidewalk, driveway, and patio, be sure to salt if the temperature is below freezing to avoid accidents

4.       In the winter, clear a walkway to your shed – even though it’s winter, your buyers will want to check out every area they can. Providing them with access shows attention to detail, and pride in your home

5.       Trim trees and bushes

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Curb Appeal - Day 4 - Cleaning the Exterior of Your Home

We’re always so busy keeping the inside of the house clean for company, that we often forget that it’s the outside of our house that is bearing all the outdoor elements, and may be in need of some TLC. Here are some useful articles that I found for helping you clean the exterior of your house.

Cleaning Aluminum Siding:

Cleaning Brick:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Curb Appeal - Day 3 - Cost Effective Improvements

So you’ve decided perhaps your house could use an exterior “facelift” afterall. Here are 10 cost effective improvements that you can do to improve curb appeal, without hurting your wallet:

1.       Paint the front door – If your home is a neutral colour consider brightening it with a bold coloured door. Not sure what colour to choose? Again, you’ll need to take an objective look, so from across the street, take a look at your house, as well as the surrounding area. Do you notice any punchy colours that perhaps you can compliment with your front door? Consider also painting window frames and shutters to match.

2.       Add some mulch to your garden, and around your trees. Not only will this give a clean, fresh look to your yard, but it’s great for your plants and trees. Mulch helps to control weeds and retains moisture, so less watering is required. Mulch is available in a variety of colours, so find one that blends well with your exterior.

3.       Re-seal the driveway – Sealing the driveway helps to preserve the ashphalt and prevent cracks and damage, it makes cleaning, plowing, and shovelling easier, and improves the overall look of the driveway.

4.       Upgrade your house number to a custom plaque

5.       Replace your outdoor light fixture

6.       Add solar/led garden lighting

7.       Powerwash the exterior of your house to remove built up grime

8.       Re-stain your porch

9.       Add a fresh coat of paint to your railing

10.   Add some potted plants to your porch and/or walkway

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Curb Appeal - Day 2 - How to Take An Objective Look At Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is incredibly important to selling your home. But you don’t have to wait until you’re selling to make some simple improvements. You might be thinking that your home doesn’t need any exterior improvements, but why not take an objective view of your home to be sure? Here’s how:

First, stand across the street from your home. You’ll be amazed how different your house looks from this angle. Notice any areas that can be improved? How does the lawn look? Does the garden need cleaning up? More plants? Look at each area of the house, including the porch, the house itself, windows, sidewalk, driveway, lawn, etc.

Next, take pictures. Again, you’ll get a much different view when you view the photographs.

Finally, take a walk around the house. Look for cracks, peeling, and other repairs needed. Don’t forget to look up!

While some fixes may be more involved than others, it’s good to take this objective look at your home to understand the improvements that are needed, so that you can budget accordingly. Some repairs may be more immediate than others, so be sure to prioritize. For some great cost-efficient improvements, stay tuned all week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Get Them In The Door!!

In order to get a potential buyer to buy your home, you must first get them in the door! This week I’ll be focusing on curb appeal. It’s a term you hear often, but do you understand what it means? According to Urban Dictionary, Curb Appeal is “the aesthetic charm of a house when first seen from the road”. Here are some great front yard tips from Better Homes and Gardens (@BHG):

Stay tuned all week for more great tips!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The New IKEA Catalogue is HERE!!

Think IKEA is for students? Think again. If you haven’t checked out IKEA lately, give them a chance. @IKEA_Canada is continually evolving, finding new and innovative solutions to everyday household issues. As well, they have placed special focus on creating products that are stronger, and more durable, as well as better for the environment. While once considered a “cheap” solution for students, IKEA is now recognized for their universal designs, and unique ideas. Here’s one of my favourites from this year’s 60th anniversary catalogue, the STALL Shoe Organizer, perfect for any mud room:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Receive a $50 Gift Certificate for Home Staging or Redesign* with @AndreChinRemax

Andre Chin of Re/Max Real Estate Centre, Westmount Rd Kitchener (@AndreChinRemax) is the agent for all your needs. Buying or selling, he’ll take care of your real estate needs. Need a home inspection? Real Estate lawyer? Mortgage Agent? Home Staging? Talk to Andre, he’ll set you up with everything you need. As a special bonus, sign Andre as your Real Estate Agent and receive a $50 gift certificate redeemable towards a home staging or redesign consultation from Beyond The Stage Homes!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

Like most tomato growers, you probably have so many tomatoes in your garden that you’re inviting the neighbours over to pick as many as they can. A great use for these fresh tomatoes is a nice, simple, pasta sauce. Here’s a recipe for you to ensure that your tomatoes do not go to waste:


10 medium to large tomatoes from your garden

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

½ an onion

1 large tomato, diced (optional)

¼ cup fresh basil (or tbsp dried basil)

1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place your tomatoes in a large saucepan and fill with water until all are covered. Place on high heat on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil for approximately 10 minutes, until you can see the skins loosening. Remove from heat, drain water, and refill pan with cold water. Allow to sit until tomatoes are completely cool.

Once your tomatoes have cooled, drain water, and remove the skins. These should come off with little effort, but you may need a knife to puncture the skin. Cut off the tomato tops, and place all tomatoes in a blender. Blend on low setting until pureed.

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat, and add garlic and onion. Sautee until tender. Add diced tomato and sautee for another minute. Add pureed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Top your favourite pasta or pizza with this sauce, or use as a bread dip. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Investment In Staging Your Home is LESS Than The First Price Reduction

But don’t take my word for it! The Real Estate Staging Association has created an online calculator available to everyone to show you your savings:

Need some pricing information? Contact me at or 519-496-4301 for all your staging needs.