Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Why Wait for Spring to List Your Home? 9 Reasons to Sell During the Holidays

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Why Wait for Spring to List Your Home? 9 Reasons to Sell During the Holidays | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYou might think that putting your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home on the market at this time of year is a bad idea. But there are actually many good reasons to list your home during the holiday season.

  1. People shopping for a new home during the winter months tend to be more serious about a home purchase than those looking at other times of the year. They may be in a situation where moving is not an option since January often marks the start of a new job. Buyers are not only more likely to make an offer, but also more likely to meet your list price, especially as people are apt to be in a good mood at this time of year!
  2. Generally, fewer houses are listed at this time of year. This means less competition for your home now than later in the spring when more homes will come on the market.
  3. Many businesses reduce their hours during the holiday season, meaning employees may have time during the work week, not just evenings and weekends, to shop for a new home.
  4. Some buyers may find themselves in a financial situation where it is advantageous for tax or incentive reasons to make their deal before the end of the year.
  5. You’ve probably spent a fair amount of time cleaning, decluttering and decorating your home for the holidays. Why not take advantage of this natural staging when your home is looking its best?
  6. Your home being on the market does not have to interfere with your holiday plans. You always have the option to specify when showings may or may not occur.
  7. Selling now does not necessarily mean you’d have to move now. It is possible to negotiate a later date for buyers to take possession, or to allow you to remain in your home for a longer period of time.
  8. But, if you sell and move to a temporary residence now, with the intention of buying later in the spring, you can do so with money in the bank and without the pressure of having to write an offer that is conditional upon the sale of your current home.
  9. Mortgage rates remain at record lows so there are still many buyers for whom your house just might be the perfect home.

 

Whether you are looking to buy or sell at any time of the year, I’m here to help. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGift-giving season is nearly upon us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region. Saving energy and helping the environment are good no matter what season it is. If you prefer giving gifts that are useful and practical, you’re sure to find something to please on this list of energy efficient gifts. And your gift will help the recipient to use less energy and save money too.

For the home improvement fanatic:

  • LED or CFL lights
    Bulbs, lamps, reading lights
  • Home energy monitor, such as the Kill-a-Watt monitor available from Amazon.ca
    Allows the user to track the amount of electricity being consumed by various devices.
  • Faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Window insulating kit
  • Plugs for unused electrical outlets
    Did you know that up to 20% of air leakage from your home can occur through outlets?
  • Ceiling fans
    Keep your home warmer in winter, cooler in summer and help with humidity all year round.

For the home cook and bottle washer:

  • Pressure cooker
    This old-fashioned pot uses up to 70% less energy than traditional cooking and cooks food faster too.
  • Tea towels
    Who says everything has to be washed in the dishwasher!
  • Cold water laundry detergent
    Single-use packs make a good stocking stuffer gift.
  • Energy Star rated appliances of all kinds

For the device geek:

  • Power bar
    These come with all sorts of innovations, such as integrated timer, auto shutoff, and special sockets for charging mobile devices
  • Solar-powered cell phone and battery chargers
  • Solar backpack
    Looks like a regular student backpack but can charge electronic devices. (Check out this one called the SolarGoPack from Amazon.)

For the survival dude:

  • Battery powered radio in case of power outages
  • LED flashlight
    Or how about this hand-crank flashlight from Ikea?  Great gift for kids too.
  • Portable solar panel kit
    The GoalZero Guide 10 Adventure Kit allows you to charge all sorts of things, such as USB powered devices, phones, tablets, flashlight batteries, and emergency radios.

Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

101 Gift Ideas for the Host or Hostess

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

101 Gift Ideas for the Host or Hostess | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWell, maybe not quite 101, but a whole bunch anyway! If you’re like me, you do a lot of visiting and hosting over the holidays, whether it’s in our home area of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton area or elsewhere, and you don’t want to arrive empty-handed. But what are the best things to take as a thank you token for your host? On the list below are lots of things you’ve given in the past, but there may be a few things you haven’t thought of! The cost of the item will be up to you. If you know your host well – a good friend or family member — then you may want your gift to be more extravagant and more personally attuned to the person’s taste. Otherwise, we’re looking for items generally under $20 and less personal in nature.

Beverages

  • wine, spirits, liqueurs, craft beers. A nice hostess gift for someone who likes to try different liqueurs is a half dozen mini bottles in a pretty basket.
  • special coffees, teas such as David’s Tea, or gourmet hot chocolate mixes. Starbucks and Tim Horton’s both package items especially for this time of year.
  • unique bottled beverages such as special bottled waters, or other drinks with unusual flavors (look in the international section of your favorite large grocery store).

High-quality chocolate

This year Purdy’s Truffles retail at $14 per box, and this is a gift appreciated by pretty much everybody!

Specialty food items

  • If you know what your hosts like, treat them to a favorite item they wouldn’t purchase for themselves – caviar, maybe!
  • Look for artisanal or craft items made by specialty producers in small quantities: special syrups or honey (Manuka honey is prized by many people); salts, spices or herb blends (Himalayan sea salt is trendy right now); pepper mill filled with fancy peppercorns; special barbecue or hot sauces; dips or spreads such as antipasto or jalapeno jelly (even better if you make them yourself!); gourmet olives; specialty pickles or jams (again, even better if homemade); special cooking oils or flavored vinegars; special popcorn or nuts or trail mix; biscotti.
  • Or put together a “gift in a jar”:  a Mason jar filled with ingredients for cookies and the like, together with a recipe card, and beautifully decorated. Google “gifts in a jar” for tons of ideas.
  • A gift that seems mundane but I guarantee will be appreciated:  a super fresh loaf of bread hot from your own oven, or from Cobs Bread.

Hosting items

  • beautiful paper napkins or Christmas crackers
  • a pair of unusual placemats (made of twigs or bamboo, perhaps!)
  • dip servers or spreaders
  • stemless wineglasses (all the rage right now), or a set of unusual shot glasses
  • cheeseboard and slicer
  • cocktail shaker
  • coasters
  • cocktail picks
  • salad servers
  • pretty seasonal tray or dish
  • wine stoppers
  • wineglass charms
  • tapas trays (or other tiny serving dishes)

Kitchen things

  • cookie cutters or stamps
  • wooden or bamboo utensils
  • unusual gadgets that your hosts might appreciate but which they are unlikely to buy for themselves, such as a rasp grater or garlic rocker
  • specialty dishes and containers, like a garlic pot, olive serving dish, herb oil infuser, oil spray bottle, etc.
  • herb chopper or pizza cutter
  • crocheted dish cloths (a staple at our local farmers’ markets!)
  • Check out all the kitchen gadgets at Canadian Tire, or get fancy with something from Gifts and Gadgets, or visit the Crooked Pot gallery in Stony Plain for one of a kind pottery items.

Book, calendar or pretty journal, music…

Take a look at online retailers such as Indigo for ideas.

Flowers / plants

Etiquette mavens suggest not bringing a loose bunch of flowers (because then your hostess has to find a vase, trim the flowers, etc.) so:

  • either put your flowers in a vase yourself,
  • or look instead for a small potted plant such as a colorful pepper plant,
  • or a tea garden or herb garden in a box. If you have a green thumb, consider making some yourself next summer; directions can be found online. Tea plants would include things like lemon verbena, mint, etc. A herb garden might include chives, basil, oregano, parsley, etc.

Special soaps

Lush Cosmetics will cut you a chunk, or look for pre-packaged soaps of all kinds at the Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, Spruce Grove’s Gifts and Gadgets, and the like. Or make your own! Or pick up a pretty container of liquid hand soap for your hostess’s kitchen sink.

A beautiful one of a kind Christmas tree ornament

Many gift shops, such as Gifts and Gadgets, carry items like this.

Photo frame

Practical gifts

  • microfiber cloths packaged with a natural cleaner, such as Green Works
  • pretty tea towels or apron or oven mitts (check out the Ove Glove at Canadian Tire!)
  • grocery carry bags made from heavy recycled plastic or cloth
  • miniature LED flashlights to hang on a keychain or tuck in a purse (see Amazon.ca for a selection)

I wasn’t going to include candles or mugs in this list, but lots of people still like to receive them! (The Bay has a candle that looks just like its iconic Hudson’s Bay blanket!)  Jazz up your gift of a special candle by adding a unique lighter or fancy matches. Fill a pretty or unusual or holiday-themed mug with candy or sachets of tea or hot chocolate or a Starbucks or Tim Horton’s gift card.

Got other ideas for great hostess gifts? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Shop From Your Spruce Grove Home This Holiday Season!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Shop From Your Spruce Grove Home This Holiday Season! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamEdmonton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County have some great shopping venues, as local residents know. From West Edmonton Mall’s vast array of stores that includes many world-class retailers to Whyte Avenue’s one-of-a-kind treasures to unique and interesting shops in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, there is something for everyone. (Check out Spruce Grove and Stony Plain shops in my Community Connections Business Directory. Under Jump to Category, click on Shopping, Spruce Grove and Shopping, Stony Plain.)

During the holiday shopping season, though, with time short and weather unpredictable, wouldn’t it be nice to find an easier way than traveling from store to store?

Google “Canada online shopping” and you’ll discover that almost every brick and mortar store has an online presence from which you can order products. Which online stores will give you the best deal on the best quality merchandise and get it to you in a timely and low-cost manner? Once you get hooked on online shopping, you’ll soon learn the answer to this question through personal experience.

Instead of driving to the mall, hunting for a parking spot, being jostled by crowds and waiting in lineups, start by educating yourself about the policies of the online retailers you discover. You can expect that major retailers like Sears, The Bay, IKEA, Best Buy, the Apple store, Costco, Walmart, and the like will work hard to keep customers happy, but this should be true for lesser-known retailers too.

Some things to consider about online shopping:

  • Do the prices appear to be comparable to what you’d pay in a store? (Compare prices by reading The Best Price Comparison Sites in Canada from How to Save Money.ca.)
  • Even better, does the retailer offer special pricing deals to entice you to buy online? (For example, the Body Shop offers 50% off a wide variety of merchandise ordered online during the holiday shopping season, plus free shipping.)
  • Shipping costs can be a killer. Look for deals on shipping. Free is good! Mountain Equipment Co-Op, a wonderful place to buy anything connected to outdoor recreation, regularly offers free shipping during the holiday season when you purchase a certain dollar amount. Excellent service too with fast delivery and accuracy of orders. (Note that you do have to buy a $5 lifetime membership to purchase from them.)
  • When you order online, you want to know that the goods will arrive when you need them and when promised. Amazon Canada, with its enormous selection of goods, is very speedy in the fulfillment of orders. Staples offers next-day delivery.
  • Be sure to read through the returns policies of online retailers you’re considering doing business with. Sears Canada, for example, briefly considered instituting a re-stocking fee, but customers irate at that idea soon persuaded them to keep the current policy of free returns at catalogue sales offices.
  • An important consideration:  What security measures do companies have in place when you hand over your credit card number online? Most of us know to look for the “s” denoting a secure webpage after http in online addresses, but check out the retailer’s security and privacy policies also. Read the article Online Shopping from the Canadian Consumer Handbook for tips on how to protect yourself online.
  • Does the retailer participate in any kind of loyalty or cash-back program? For example, Sears allows you to earn AirMiles or get cash back through Ebates (see below).
  • Tip: Once you become a seasoned online shopper, you may want to shop internationally, but I suggest sticking with Canadian retailers you know to begin with.

Other good sources of information and deals:

  • A good article featuring reviews of some online retailers: Shop Online in Canada from the Huffington Post.  Look for the bonus article about online shopping scams.
  • Groupon:  Get your name added to their emailing list and get ready to save big bucks on all kinds of items, from goods like watches and bed sheets to 50% off restaurant meals to adventure experiences like a hot air balloon ride to vacation trips around the world.
  • AirMiles. If you are already a collector of Air Miles, you know that you can redeem those Air Miles, not just for trips and hotel rooms, but for a huge variety of goods and services that make great gifts.
  • Ebates. Shop at a variety of big-name online retailers, like Amazon, Sears, Walmart, the Bay and many others, and get real cash money back, sent to you by cheque. Heck of a deal!
  • Shop.ca is basically an online shopping mall where you can save money and earn Aeroplan Miles.
  • Beyond the Rack is an online only retailer handling mostly clothing, accessories and home décor items.
  • RedFlagDeals offers flyers, deals, coupons, lists of stores, etc.
  • At SmartCanucks.ca find coupons and all sorts of other deals.
  • Great Canadian Rebates:  As the name suggests, get rebates by shopping at the retailers listed through this website.

Also good to know: Many Canadian retailers present their own version of the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales following the American Thanksgiving which just happens to fall this week. Hard to escape the ads but easy to take advantage of the deals!

Got your own online shopping stories or secrets to share?  Please call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Helping at Christmas

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Helping at Christmas | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe holiday season always seems to bring out the spirit of giving in people in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region.  While most of us exchange gifts with family and friends, many of us actively look for ways to help others.  My assistant told me about her brother and his family living in Vancouver who load up their vehicle every Christmas Day with sandwiches, cookies, oranges and warm beverages to distribute to the homeless on Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver.  I started wondering what opportunities for helping beyond tossing bills into a Salvation Army kettle there might be in our area.

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Local churches

If you belong to a church, you already know the programs and opportunities offered by your church.  If you are looking to join a local church, check out the comprehensive list in my Community Connections Business Directory.  Click on “Jump to Category” and then “Churches: Parkland County”, “Churches: Spruce Grove”, “Churches: Stony Plain”.  This information is also available in the Green Book Community Resource Directory.

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Parkland Food Bank

www.parklandfoodbank.org, 105 Madison Crescent, Spruce Grove AB T7X 3A3

780-962-4565

The Food Bank’s Stuff a Bus campaign ended on November 30, but donations of non-perishable food items and cash are welcomed with gratitude and enthusiasm all year round.  Volunteers will be put to work too!

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Tender Hearts Foundation

See article in The Grove Examiner entitled “Santa’s local workshop in Parkland County

Shoeboxes containing small gifts and treats are assembled and given to the elderly residents of nursing homes in the Parkland region.  Contact Joann Babineau to donate or volunteer:

#2, 52224, RR 275, Stony Plain AB T7Z 1Z3

Phone 780-968-0065

Email joreid@tbwifi.ca

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Kinette Club of Spruce Grove Christmas Hampers

Working with local schools, businesses and other service clubs, the Kinettes assemble and distribute 100s of hampers containing food, food certificates and gifts to needy families in Spruce Grove.

PO Box 3664, Spruce Grove AB T7X 2A9

780-962-2088

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Kinsmen Club of Stony Plain Christmas Hampers

PO Box 2231, Stony Plain AB T7Z 1X7

780-915-6934

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Parkland Area Youth Emergency Shelter (PAYES)

PO Box 2732, Stony Plain AB T7Z 1Y2

780-963-3595

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Christmas Bureau of Edmonton

“Providing a Festive Meal to Edmonton Families in Need”.  Donations are used to provide food hampers and food certificates.  The Christmas Bureau also coordinates with 630 CHED Santas Anonymous and the Edmonton Sun Adopt-a-Teen program.

Mailing address:  Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, PO BOX 16000, Edmonton AB T5J 4B4

Street address:  2nd Floor, 4230-118 Ave NW, Edmonton AB T5W 1A4 (2nd floor of Servus Credit Union Building)

Phone:  780-454-6074

Email:  mail@christmasbureau.ca

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630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Since 1955 providing toys for needy children in Edmonton.  Donations and volunteers welcome all year round, and toys right up until Christmas.  Toy deliveries for 2013 are taking place on December 14 and 15; drivers are always needed.

Santa’s Depot 12345-121 St, Edmonton

Mailing address and year-round donations:  5204-84 St NW, Edmonton AB T6E 5N8

Email:  santa@santasanonymous.ca

780-428-TOYS (8697)

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Edmonton Sun Adopt-a-Teen Program

Providing gifts for teens aged 13-17 from low income families in the Edmonton area.

2nd  Floor, 4230-118 Ave, Edmonton AB T5W 1A4

info@adoptateenedmonton.ca

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Women’s Shelters:

Women’s shelters are always in need of clothing, bedding, toiletries and children’s articles including toys, but the need is especially acute at Christmas.  Contact them to find out how you can help.

Edmonton Women’s Shelter (WIN House)

PO Box 20088, Edmonton AB T5W 5E6

780-471-6709

ewsed@winhouse.org

Lurana Shelter 

780-429-2002

director@luranashelter.com

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Youth Empowerment and Support Services

(formerly Youth Emergency Shelter Society)

9310-82 Ave, Edmonton AB T6C 0Z6

780-468-7070

yess@yess.org

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The Mustard Seed Edmonton 

Christmas Giving Opportunities.  http://www.theseed.ca/Christmas-Giving-Opportunities-Edmonton.html  Click on this link for a list of specific items (such as a travel mug filled with a coffee gift certificate, thermal socks, hand wipes, bus tickets, pocket hand warmers and a note of encouragement) that this organization gives to the needy at Christmas.

Mailing address:  PO Box 1842, Main Post Office, Edmonton AB T5J 2P2

Street address:  10568-114 St, Edmonton AB

780-426-5600

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So many formal organizations exist for helping others all year round, and many are specialized by type or age of person.  If this style of giving doesn’t appeal, why not look even closer to home?  Maybe there is an elderly or disabled person, or a young mother alone with her kids living on your street who could use your help in many ways, such as shoveling the driveway or getting groceries or providing a ride to an appointment.  And the best part is that when you help others in this way, you help yourself too!

I always welcome your comments and questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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