Category Archives: Caring For Our Community

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. (1 kg.) chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. each ground cumin, ground paprika
  • 1 tsp. each cinnamon, ground ginger, turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. harissa
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1 (19 oz./ 561 mL) can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 carrots, chopped in 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks
  • 1 c. dried apricots
  • 1 (28 oz./ 825 mL) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 3 slices preserved lemon (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

TOPPINGS

  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • Grated zest of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and brown chicken thighs for 2 minutes on each side.
2. Place browned chicken into slow cooker, and stir in all remaining ingredients.
3. Heat in slow cooker for 8 hours on low setting, or 4 hours on high.
4. Remove from slow cooker, sprinkle with toppings, and serve with couscous, rice or flatbread.

 

April Showers Bring May … Weeds?

Whether your garden covers an expanse of flowers, bushes and other greenery around your house, or whether you just have visions of tending a small vegetable patch in the backyard, you’ll want to focus on what you actually want to grow and not what tends to sprout out of nowhere — that would be those pesky weeds!

Fight back against weeds this gardening season by employing these strategies:

  • Weed when wet. Damp soil allows you to pull out the full weed, including the roots, much easier. Keep a small hoe on hand to help loosen the soil and get as much of the weed out as possible. Weed thoroughly before you start planting, then maintain the weeding often as the season goes on.
  • Be a bad weed host. Discourage the growth of new weeds by holding back on what helps them flourish, namely light and water. After clearing the weeds, plant your flowers and vegetables close together so they form a natural light barrier as they mature, and in the meantime fill in the space between the plants and mulch.
  • Choose the right mulch, and the right amount of it. Mulch helps to prevent weeds by blocking out the light, but you need to choose the right mulch. First of all, ensure you choose a high quality, finely shredded, weed-free mmulch. If you like the look of the chunkier mulch, keep in mind that it can let light in so consider putting down two to three inches of the finely-shredded mulch first, to smother the weeds, then topping it with the chunkier mulch to create the esthetic you prefer.

Container Gardening Upgrades for a Fresh Spring

While prepping for gardening this spring, go through some of your old pots and containers. #cbrmr

If you’re a gardener, you most likely have some old pots and containers in your garden shed or even your garage. And you probably didn’t get rid of them because you figured you might have a use for them eventually. While prepping for this spring, instead of buying replacements pots and containers, go through the ones you already have stored. With a little imagination and some supplies, your pots will look better than new in no time!

Clay Pots

A good clay pot can be expensive and if dropped, the fall can put a decent size crack in it. If it’s chipped or broken but is still durable, here’s what you can do to fix it:

  • You’ll need all-purpose joint compound, spray paint or textured spray paint in a desired color, and fine-grained sandpaper. Clean off the damaged area with the sandpaper. Remove any loose clay as you’re sanding and carefully blow on it to remove the dust. This will let you get a good bond when filling it in.
  • Next, using the joint compound, fill in the cracks using a popsicle stick, spreading both inside and outside the pot. Make sure the cracks are well-covered. It dries relatively fast, so spread and smooth it out as you go. It can also be sanded down later if it’s not super smooth. If needed, add more layers until it’s filled. Let it dry for 24 hours and run the sandpaper over it to smooth it out one last time.
  • Seal the pot with the spray paint or textured spray paint, let dry, and it’s good to go.

Plastic Pots

Plastic pots are another type of container commonly used for gardening. The problem with these containers is that the weather can cause them to weaken, discolor, and sometimes crack. Have no fear, these containers can easily be fixed and your favorite plastic container can be used time and time again.

  • For this you’ll need clear gorilla tape, spray paint, textured stone paint, and fine-grain sandpaper. First, lightly sand all the areas which you’re planning to tape, so the tape has a good grip when applied. Be sure to remove all the dust from the surface of the pot. If you don’t, when you use the gorilla tape, it will form bubbles because it won’t seal. If you apply some rubbing alcohol before applying the tape, the surface will be clean.
  • Next, tape both sides of the crack with strips of gorilla tape. Rub it firmly to get a good seal but don’t use more tape than you need. For edges or curves, use small pieces, that can overlap about a ¼ inch. Try to avoid forming air bubbles.
  • Finally, spray the pot with the base paint and then spray it in thin layers with stone texture paint. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly. If the paint bubbles, let the paint cure for 24 hours. Spray it with the textured paint if desired for a different look.

Repurpose With a New Design

You can also repurpose an old pot with designs, like adding a mosaic design. You’ll need a terracotta pot, some broken tile pieces, pot shards or vase filler chips, spray paint and glue. Paint the pot with the spray paint and let dry, then gently glue the tile, shards or chips on one by one in the design of your choice.

You can also add a new design by using lace on a pot or container. All you’ll need is lace of the color of your choice and transparent adhesive. Varnish the pot with the adhesive and paste the lace over it. Let dry and use as desired.

As you can see, upgrading your container and pots for spring can be both fun and easy. What ways have you revamped old containers?

Ambient Lighting Tricks to Warm Up the Whole House

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

1. Control natural lighting. If you thought only stormy weather could make a breezy beach house look dark and moody, take a second look at the photo above. The lucky homeowner can draw the sheer curtains closed without completely blocking out the sun. They also get a postcard-worthy view of sunrise and sunset every day from their glass doors. The dimmed fixture above casts a warm light in an all-white room while the cloudy landscape photo tones down the views of the beach.

2. Be picky about your paint. Ask a professional about a paint’s light reflectance value (LRV) before you commit to a color. Lighter colors tend to be more reflective than dark shades. Pay attention to sheen level too since glossy finishes are more reflective than matte finishes.

3. Experiment with materials and finishes. When mixed and matched strategically, these seemingly small details can determine the mood of a whole room. This white and grey bathroom would look stark and cold without the brass fixture above. The candles around the tub help warm the room up too.

4. Install a dimmer switch. There’s nothing relaxing about straining your eyes in a room that is too bright or too dark. Use a dimmer in addition to layering your light sources for ultimate light control. Believe it or not, installing a dimmer switch can be a DIY project.

5. Recess your lights. Even if the bulb is not that bright, a central fixture with multiple bulbs and a shiny finish can be overpowering. Recessed lighting conceals the bulbs and therefore can lights feel softer. You could also hide strip lighting underneath cabinets for a nice nightlight on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Check out this ultra contemporary island that appears to be floating mid-air.

6. Go a different direction. Uplights, like sconces and track lighting, create a soft glow. On the other hand, downlights cast ominous shadows that can really add mystery to a romantic room. Get creative by backlighting wall decor for a play on color and shapes.

7. Take a refresher course in lightbulb basics. The type of bulb is equally important as its fixture. Halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs have a range of temperatures from warm (or yellow) to cool (or blue) hues. This is a matter of personal preference, but typically yellowish bulbs warm up cool-colored rooms nicely and vice versa. Bluer bulbs also help brighten darker spaces, like basements and windowless bathrooms.

8. Find your favorite shade. Bright colors, playful patterns and funky shapes can bring personality into a stale space. Smoky glass chandeliers intensify intimate vibes in a dining room while big paper lanterns enliven sophisticated home offices. The teal shades on this fixture match the pillows and put an icy sheen on the large dark walnut bookcase.

Note: This ceiling light is reflected in the whimsically shaped mirror that will help spread light further into the room.

9. Try twinkle lights. Not limited to holiday decor, you can use twinkle lights all year round. Drape them over windows for some extra sparkle or fill jars or empty wine bottles with a bundle of battery-operated fairy lights for an illuminated vignette.

10. Open flame. It’s no secret that candles are customary to ambience, but they’re often reserved for after dark. Next time, try starting a fire first thing in the morning and you’ll find that candles are as effective for waking up as they are for winding down. The heat will naturally draw you out of bed and the rising sun will energize you. We’re channeling all the feels from this rustic bedroom. The corner fireplace and candle chandelier are nothing short of mesmerizing.

 

Take Inventory

Many of us are surrounded by so much “stuff” in our homes, day in and day out, that we barely even notice it anymore. And that’s a problem when it comes to trying to recall everything that’s missing after a home break-in, major fire or other home disaster. Take some time now to create a thorough home inventory so that if you ever need to itemize your missing or damaged belongings on an insurance claim, you’ll be sure to cover everything and receive your fair settlement faster.

Today’s technology makes taking inventory easier than ever; you may want to utilize an app that allows you to create an inventory spreadsheet to catalogue your belongings, and upload receipts for large items such as furniture and electronics.

If you don’t have time to create a written inventory of everything you own right now, you could at least create a video of your belongings by walking through each room and visually capturing it all, zooming in on makes, models and serial numbers as necessary, and narrating details as you go along. Once you record everything, and that means not only the big, expensive things but also smaller items that would still add up if you needed to replace them, store the digital inventory in the Cloud or off-site on an external hard drive, ideally in a safety deposit box if you have one.

Now that it’s on your mind, why not make an appointment to talk to an insurance professional for suggestions on how to create an efficient inventory list, and to help sort through what kinds of coverage you need to protect your home and belongings? #cbrmr

Chilly Start to the New Year

Toronto’s real estate market received a cool reception in January, with an overall drop in sales and prices compared to the same month last year. The popularity of condos in the city, however, took some of the sting out of the overall price decline.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported a 4.1 percent year-over-year decrease in the average price for a Toronto home, to $736,783, as the number of sales fell 22 percent from last year’s record-setting pace. The average price of a detached home dropped 9.1 percent compared to January 2017, while the average price of condos — despite a drop in the number of sales — increased by 14.6 percent.

“It is not surprising that home prices in some market segments were flat to down in January compared to last year. At this time last year, we were in the midst of a housing price spike driven by exceptionally low inventory in the marketplace. It is likely that market conditions will support a return to positive price growth for many home types in the second half of 2018. The condominium apartment segment will be the driver of this price growth,” suggested Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

The market will continue to evolve as buyers adjust to the new, tougher mortgage guidelines, and as we fully enter the busiest time of the real estate season. Please call today for the latest local market updates! #cbrmr

825 Grand Ridge Ave. Oshawa

Open House Sunday January 14, 2018 2pm-4pm

$650,000

Delightful Large Eat-in kitchen with gorgeous hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and walkout to back yard.. This remarkable 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home has open concept main floor, 2 gas fireplaces, main floor laundry, Large Master Suite with Ensuite and walk-in closet, and a roomy 2 car Garage. Basement has recently been finished with luxury vinyl click floors, a Gorgeous hand made custom bar that has a keg fridge, barn doors, and a gas fireplace with granite inset. Great location with schools just steps away. Perfect home for entertaining inside or out. Easy care landscaping and pot lights in the eaves. An exceptional value for your family’s future. $650,000.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

19 Arran Court, Courtice

Open House Sunday January 14, 2018 2pm – 4pm

A home with a lot of heart. This 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home is the place for your growing family. Bask in the sun with your own private inground pool. Entertain on your deck, and create your own Pizza Masterpieces in your outdoor Pizza Oven. Home has had extensive upgrades:high performance central heat and air, new windows,shingles and finished basement with fireplace. This can all be yours for $550,000.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

118 Sleeman Square, Courtice, ON

118 Sleeman Square
Courtice, ON

Beautiful family / executive home showing pride of ownership on the quietest part of a safe square. Many uplifting features, including a perennial back garden with mature flowering and shade trees and a private, peaceful view of a protected, forest area behind. A lovely five-minute walk takes you to the Courtice Recreation Centre, gym, library, and pool. Courtice elementary and secondary schools are also just a five-minute walk away. Ideally located to access shopping, Hwy 401, the new 407 extension, or public transit. So if you are looking for a beautiful dwelling in a safe, friendly neighbourhood, close to lots of amenities, then WELCOME HOME.

Kitchen:
A chef’s kitchen…Spacious, eat-in kitchen with breakfast bar, granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, lazy Susan, pot and pan drawers, and decorative corner glass-door cabinet. Attached dining area is surrounded on three sides with large windows and a gorgeous cathedral ceiling. Sliding glass doors open onto an oversized, elevated deck that overlooks the breathtaking backyard. Steps flow down to your private, brick barbecue patio and relaxation space under the trees.

Back Yard:
A beautiful stone walkway to the left of the house leads to one of two back gates. Many trees in the backyard to enjoy: The white lilac tree off the back deck and the Bradford pear tree bestow a profusion of white blossoms in the spring, and the autumn blaze maple in the fall will take your breath away. Small evergreens and a back cedar hedge, as well as the central oak tree keep their leaves all winter to offer birds shelter from the wind. The backyard is a gardener’s dream…The perennial gardens will soon spring back to life with peonies, irises, daisies, bleeding hearts, lilies, carnations, bee balm, ferns, hostas, black-eyed Susans, hostas, and snowball bushes.

Living room:
Maple hardwood floors. Warm your toes by the gas fireplace with marble insert. Freshly-painted in gray. Open concept provides an ideal family or entertaining space. Blonde oak staircase leads up to the second level.

Master bedroom:
Walk through your double doors to your spacious Master suite. Two other bright, southern windows overlook your everlasting forest view. Also features a walk-in closet and ensuite bath with shower and relaxing, corner soaker tub.

Additional bedrooms:
Spacious rooms, each with unique characteristics. The large, front bedroom, with its two oversized windows, providing a clear view of skies and sunsets, offers a definite WOW factor.

Lower level:
A bright, sunny basement, boasting large windows and another sliding glass door to the brick back patio and yard. The lower level also has its own, oversized shower, and is freshly-painted, with built-in shelves, and scratch-resistant, maintenance-free laminate floors.

Other appealing features:
An impressive oak staircase and high ceiling greet you at the entrance. All three bedrooms and the basement stairs have been freshly carpeted, with upgraded under padding. Grey and beige walls in most rooms have also been repainted in the last month. A pristine laundry room with bright, white cabinets is located adjacent to the kitchen for the convenience of keeping several household routines in one area. Double-garage features door leading to the house. Of interest to allergy sufferers: NO cats have ever lived here. This home is very clean. Upgraded maple cabinets in all bathrooms and four new, deluxe lighting fixtures are just a few more of the many upgrades to this beautiful home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.