Monthly Archives: November 2011

Christmas Gifts for Your Home

Photogrpah of a gift wrapped houseImage credit: Howard Dickins on Flickr

With the beginning of December comes the beginning of Christmas Shopping season. In addition to shopping for the special people in your life this year, why not also shop for that special place as well—your house! We don’t mean the seasonal decorations that spend 11 months in a box. Rather, we are thinking of thoughtful upgrades that will make your house look better and year long.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Ho-Ho-Hardware: Replacing your cabinet pulls or even your door knobs can made a big difference. A quick visit to your local hardware store will open your eyes to the multitude of choices out there. Find something the reflects the houses’ style or, better yet-your personality and you’ll smile each time you open a door or drawer!
  • Deck the Windows: Most of us fret over finding a perfect outfit for the Christmas office party or neighbours New Years Party.  But what about you house?  Adding simple window treatments or replacing dated blinds will help ensure your house looks its best long after the holidays are over.
  • De-clutter and Deep Clean: You may be thinking of using a spa date for that somebody special on your list. Why not give your house the equivalent? Hire a home organizer to come in and help you streamline your possessions, get your carpets steam cleaned, or hire a housekeeping service to spend a day cleaning out the various nooks and crannies of you house that you’ve never had the chance to get around to doing yourself.
  • Pass the Paint:  Paint is often the simplest, yet most effective way to update your home. A few coats of paint can refresh any home. If you’re not up to repainting an entire room, start with an accent wall. A bold colour on a single wall can give the entire room a new look and help you appreciate your existing furnishings in a new light.
  • Season of Light (Fixtures):  Some of us spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect holiday lighting scheme to wow our neighbours for the next few weeks. With illumination on your mind, think about how to update the light fixtures you will be living with for the rest of the year. Consider a new bedside lamp, a new bathroom vanity light or even a dining room chandelier  to show off on Christmas dinner. After all, we all love getting a gift that  we can show off on Christmas day, even your house!

5 Famous Monctonians

Antonine MailletThe Honourable Antonine Maillet in 1984

Moncton has been the home of a number of notable people. Here is a small sample:


Russ Howard

Russ Howard (born 1956) is a two time world champion and Olympic gold medallist men’s curler. Howard has been to the Brier 14 times and won twice. He is also a 2-time world champion, winning in 1987 and 1993. In 2006, Howard was a member of the Canadian team that won a gold medal tat the Turin Winter Olympic, the first time that a Canadian team had won the gold medal for men’s curling. Howard, who turned 50 during the Olympics, is the oldest Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal.

In 2006, Howard was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. Hecurrently lives in Moncton and curls at Curling Beausejour. In 2007 he published his autobiography Hurry Hard: the Russ Howard Story.


Antonine Maillet

Antonine Maillet (born 1929) is an Acadian novelist, playwright, and scholar. She was born in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. Early in her career she was a a scriptwriter and broadcaster for Radio-Canada in Moncton. Antonine Maillet is one of the best-known Canadian writers on both the national and the international scene. Most of her writing focuses on Acadian people and culture.

She is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the first non-French winner of the “Prix Goncourt“, the highest honour in francophone literature. Maillet was Chancellor of the Université de Moncton from 1989-2001.


Northrop Frye

Herman (“Norrie”) Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was considered one of the most influential literary critics and theorists of the 20th century. Frye’s contributions to cultural and social criticism spanned a long career during which he earned widespread recognition and received many honours. He gained international fame with his first book, Fearful Symmetry (1947). His lasting reputation rests principally on the theory of literary criticism that he developed in Anatomy of Criticism (1957).

Frye was raised in Moncton ands retained close ties to the city throughout his life. Hr continues to be a prominent figure in Moncton culture, with The Frye Festival, an annual literary festival bearing his name. Northrop Frye School in Moncton was also named in his honour.


Robb Wells

Robb Wells (born 1971) is a Canadian actor and screenwriter who portrayed Ricky on the Trailer Park Boys television series. Wells was born in Moncton where his dad worked as a civilian officer in charge of the RCMP Forensic Crime Lab, but moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia when he was eight years old. In 2006, The Globe and Mail revealed that Wells is a distant cousin of  Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


Romeo LeBlanc 

Roméo-Adrien LeBlanc (1927 – 2009) was a Canadian journalist, politician, and statesman. He was born and raised in nearby Memramcook. Leblanc was elected to the House of Commons in 1972, and served as a minister of the Crown until 1984, when he was appointed to Canada’s Senate and named Speaker.

In 1994 he was named the 25th Governor General of Canada, where he was praised for opening up Rideau Hall to ordinary Canadians and tourists alike. Throughout his life, LeBlanc was viewed as a role model for Acadians, and was complimented for having drawn the attention of the country to Acadian history and culture. LeBlanc died of Alzheimer’s disease on June 24, 2009.


10 Simple Ways to Winterize Your House

Photograph by  StevenM_61 on Flickr 

With Halloween and Remembrance day behind us, and the thermostats dipping below zero at night, it’s time to start thinking about winter. For many of us, preparing for with means digging out our sweaters and search for that missing mitten. But it is equally important to ensure your house is ready for winter. Not only will you be more comfortable, but following a few simple suggestions may also save you some money!

Here are 10 easy ways to winterize your home:


Check your insulation

Be sure your attic, basement, and exterior walls are properly insulated—even in newly built homes. Insulation can settle and shift over time, leading to cold pockets.


Check for cold air entry ports

Spend a few hours giving your house the once-over. Look for areas where cold outside air can seep in or warm inside heat can escape. Some common places include electrical outlets, switch-plates, and gaps around windows and doors. You can buy inexpensive foam insulation made for outlet and switch plates that are easy to install. Ensure your door and window weather stripping is in good condition. Consider caulking drafty areas where weather stripping is not appropriate.


Check your HVAC

If you haven’t done so in a few years, call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and ducts system. They’ll make sure your furnace is running efficiently and safely. While s/he’s there, ask the HVAC pro to clean and inspect your ducts heating ducts. Over time, dust and grime can build up and your house can settle, creating gaps in the ducts allowing warm air to escape. An inspection every 3-5 years should be sufficient for most newer homes.


Replace Your Filters

The best way to ensure your furnace is working efficiently as possible is to remember to replace your furnace filter, regularly—normally every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on use patterns and filer types. This will help your furnace run more efficiently and cut down on heating costs. I should also help with indoor air quality.


Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable digital thermostat is another heating cost cutter. They are pretty easy to install and can be programmed to automatically lower temperature at night when everyone is asleep, and during times when the house uninhabited.


Reverse ceiling fans

Many of us forget that you can use your ceiling fans during the winter to keep your house warm. On every ceiling fan there’s a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades. Switch it so your ceiling fan rotates clockwise. This will push warm air down and recirculate it throughout the room, easing the burden on your furnace.


Trim any nearby trees

Each winter, there are stories of tree branches falling on cars or houses. This is often cause by winter storms or the build up of snow and ice that weighs branches down and causes them to break .Such misfortune is easily voided by taking some time each fall to trim back any tree branches hanging near your roof, windows, or driveways, trim them back.


Clean your gutters

While you are outside, check your rain gutters and clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up and freeze near the edge of the roof. This ice will eventually forms “dams” that block the path of melted snow from your roof and cause to seep into your house. Even if you don’t have trees directly overhead, be sure to check your gutters every couple of years. Dust and airborne debris can also create blockages.


Prepare a 72 hour emergency kit

Every so often a big winter storm hits that can knock out power for a few hours, or keep you in the house for a few days. We recommend that you create a “72-hour kit” for such emergencies. Stock the kit with food, water, and other supplies. While you can buy pre-made 72-hour kits online or at most outdoor stores,  you can save some money by making your own. Remember to only include non perishable food, and—unless you have a camp stove—pick food and beverages that do not need to be heated.


Wear a Sweater

You mom was right. If you are a bit chilly, put on a sweeter before reaching for the thermostat. This is an easy way to lower your energy bills. A heavy sweater adds a couple of degrees of warmth to your body. If you set your thermostat to 18 degrees and wear a sweater, your home will feel like a comfy 22 degrees.

How To Book Your Christmas Vacation Online

Photograph of a laptop computer on a tropical island

Giorgio Montersino on Flickr

I know what you are thinking. Christmas already!?!  We haven’t even finished our Halloween candy!

Sure it may be a bit early to begin seriously thinking about Christmas. But if you are planning to travel for the holidays, the earlier you begin planning, the better deals you may find. The good news is that you can do most, if not all of your vacation planning and booking online. Here are some tools to help you out:

Airfares is a relative new comer to the web. But it is has quickly become one of the best sites for finding cheap airfares. It is especially great if you are flexible on either dates and location. You can search for dates up to three days before and after your ideal travel dates, or even search for flights that leave within a calendar month, on upcoming weekends, as well as anytime. If you’re flexible on destination you can scan a world map for all the destinations you can reach within a specified price range.


) TripAdvisor is the most popular hotel-review site, offering more than 45 million professional and amateur reviews of hotels in the U.S. and overseas. But watch out for possibly fake reviews from cronies trying to push up their own hotel’s ratings or flame their competitors (the site flags some such postings as suspicious). Ignore reviews on either extreme and focus on those with midrange ratings — they’re more likely to be the most helpful. TripAdvisor doesn’t sell rooms or offer any actual deals, but it links you to partner sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity and Click on the “check rates” button and select the site or sites you’d like to try — a new window with results will open for each partner.
Read more:
Become a Fan of Kiplinger’s on Facebook

TripAdvisor is our go-to site for finding great hotels and deals. Sure, like with all crowd sourced review sites, you need to be wary of fake reviews from cronies or competitors. But by reading between the lines, you can find a wealth of insights from real customers that go beyond the brochure blurbs and tell you what it’s really like to stay at a given hotel. While TripAdvisor doesn’t actually sell rooms, it directly links you to partner sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity and helping you find the best deals for the nights you will be travelling.

Car Rentals

While they may be better know for hotel and airfare deals, often offers the best deals on cars. They do this by  comparing rates from their rental car company partners, which include Budget, Enterprise and Europcar. However, the best deals are usually found through the site’s “hot deals” service. While you won’t know the company that you’ve booked from until you have paid, unlike with hotels the risk is minimal for most people. All their partners are reputable companies and a Ford Focus is the same no matter who provides it.

Vacation Packages

If package deals are more your style, check out Their “Deal Analyzer” will let you know if  promotional offers from, for example, hotels that provide continental breakfasts or other add-ons, are a good values by telling you how much you’d really save. Like TripAdvisor, once you find a deal you like, DealBase will send you to the site where you can purchase it directly from the provider.

For more great online travel resources, check out

Why We Wear Poppies

“The ranks of the veterans get smaller every year but there is always a good turnout at the Coliseum to pay tribute to them,” Johnstone said yesterday.
He said the money raised through the local poppy campaign has actually risen in recent years. Last year, the Moncton branch raised $76,000. Money from the poppy fund goes directly to the veterans and other charities.
Johnstone said the Legion puts $15,000 into 15 bursaries of $1,000 each for post-secondary students who are descendants of veterans

poppyEach November, around this time, red poppies begin to blossom on the lapels and collars of Canadians from coast to coast. The poppy has stood as a symbol of remembrance since 1921. Wearing one is a visual commitment to never forget the Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations. Canadians are not alone in wearing poppies. Indeed, the red flower is “an international symbol of collective reminiscence,” with several other countries adopting the poppy in honour of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The poppy gained prominence following World War I, and in particular the the poem, In Flanders Field, penned by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae in 1915. However, the connection between the poppy and remembering those killed in war goes back nearly 200 years to the Napoleanic Wars, when it was first noted how densely the flowers grew over the graves of fallen soliders

Today poppies and most closely associated with the Royal Canadian Legion. The Legion is responsible for holding an annual poppy campaign. From now until November 11th, poppies will be available at various locations around Metro Moncton. As in the past, the poppies are not being “sold” but presented to those who want to show their respect and admiration for Canadian veterans and making a donation. Money raised supports local veterans, students and youth organizations.

While the ranks of living veterans decreases each year, there has been a resurgence of  interest in Remembrance Day and support for the poppy campaign in recent years. According to Al Johnstone, president of Moncton Branch 6, Royal Canadian Legion, money raised through Moncton’s poppy campaign has actually risen in recent years. Last year, $76,000 was raised.

Of these funds, $15,000 goes to 15 bursaries of $1,000 each for post-secondary students who are descendants of veterans. Youth also benefit through contributions toward other programs, such as cadets, a leadership camp and a track and field camp. For veterans, the funds are used to purchase items like TV sets for the veteran’s health centre, comfortable reclining chairs, and adjustable tables used by veterans in wheelchairs. In other words, items that make the life of veterans more enjoyable, but are not covered by government funding. Money is also used to help veterans on a slim pension who have trouble paying their monthly bills.

The annual Moncton Remembrance Day ceremony will be held Nov. 11 at the Moncton Coliseum, complete with marching bands and representation by police officers, firefighters, cadets, scouts and guides and various other community organizations.