If you see us driving around in your neighbourhood please honk or wave! Merry Christmas!
The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and you've decided to host a party for all of your friends, but how can you cut the costs of your soiree while making sure that it's still a win?
Well, when it comes to certain food items, you're going to be paying more than you did last year. According to theChristian Science Monitor, chicken wings have gone up by 52 percent in 2012, which means buffalo wings are going to cost you more in 2013. This is due to a high demand and shortage of product.
One way to save a few bucks is to make your own wings at home. Buy family packs of bone-in pieces, and bake them in your oven using this Kitchen Daily recipe. This way, you can make them as hot or mild as you like. However, the money you save may not be worth the time spent away from the game.
Pizza has not seen a rise in the last year, so serving your guests some non-inflated slices during halftime is another great option. Pizza Hut is offering its $10-for-any-pizza deal for another year in a row, and better yet, the company has a $10 Dinner Box that includes a medium pizza, breadsticks and cinnamon sticks. Order a few of these and you'll have dinner and dessert covered.
To save more on crudite platters, make them yourself. Supermarkets charge a 40 percent markup when it comes to pre-cut platters, which is money you could be spending somewhere else. The beauty of making your own spreads is that they can be prepared ahead of time, and you can include all the veggies and dips you like instead of being cornered into what the grocery store offers.
As for decorations, head to the dollar store. Here, you can grab utensils, napkins and plates at bargain prices. Stick with team colors instead of team-branded items and you'll save even more, as products with logos are usually much more expensive. With a little prep and forethought, you'll be able to save some cash and score great deals on game day.
Winter is dark, cold, and expensive, at least where heating a home is concerned. The cost of heating oil climbs each winter and electricity is not cheap.
and still keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to curb heating costs and most are easy to implement. Our 10 tips will help you to enjoy the season and worry a little less about the expense of heating your home.
It’s hard to know what changes can be made to help lower your bills, but help is a just a phone call away. The local electric company is happy to assess your needs, family lifestyle and patterns of energy usage. They will go through your home to check for areas to be improved. They will survey your appliances, inspect the home’s structure, and measure your insulation. Once done they will make suggestions and help implement needed changes for more efficient energy consumption. Often times the suggestions will come with rebate incentives that will help reduce your bill.
[Think you might need a general contractor to help winterize your home? Click to find the right one now.]
Whether you are in a new house or an older one, drafty windows, doors and attics will allow air to sneak out and along with it heat. It is important to seal up any air leaks to keep heat inside. Start by checking the weather stripping around your windows and doors; replace if it appears worn. Next, check for any leaks where hot air can seep out into an unfinished attic space. Cuts made into the drywall to install lighting fixtures and ceiling fans create easy escape routes for air too. Seal the openings using a silicon or latex caulk. By sealing air leaks, you can realize about 30 percent in energy savings.
It is very tempting to set your thermostat for a comfortable 75 degrees during the winter months, but it is a sure-fire way to boost your energy expenses.
The lower the setting, the more savings you will realize. The commonly agreed upon lowest comfortable setting is sixty-eight degrees. If you keep it at 68 during the day, your savings can be 6.2%, and for every degree above that, costs will go up. For example, a room that is 75 can cost 15 percent more.
[Need to fix your heating system? Click to find the right home contractor now.]
While 68 may seem chilly, you can always wear a sweater and comfortable socks to stay warm. Setting the thermostat at 62 overnight will also save on your energy bill. If you leave for a few days, turn the temperature down to 55, which is the lowest setting without the pipes freezing.
Insulation is perhaps the most important feature to keeping a home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. To save money make sure you have the proper level of insulation in both the attic and between the inside walls. Insulation has an R-value measured by the amount of heat allowed to pass through it. The higher the value the less likely heat will escape, resulting in lower energy bills. Heat rises and easily escapes through an attic if not properly insulated. Heat losses can add close to 30 percent to your energy bill too.
[Think you might need a general contractor to help winterize your home? Click to find the right one now.]
Fireplaces are excellent sources of heat and can warm a room in a matter of minutes. Snuggling with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book in front of a fire is a relaxing way to spend a cold winter evening too.
Fireplaces do have their drawbacks, though. Similar to air leaks in drywall and unfinished attic spaces, a fireplace damper left open when not in use is a welcomed invitation for heated air to escape and cold air to funnel into your home. After every use close the damper and more importantly, open it before you decide to enjoy a cozy fire or your home will fill with smoke.
Air Vents or Radiators
Air vents and radiators can be eyesores in a room; designed to be functional, not pretty. In an effort to be pretty, furniture or window treatments often hide the air vents. Pretty screens can cover the radiators to hide the unsightly monsters also, but these methods only serve to obstruct the airflow, making the furnace work much harder.
It is best to accept that they are rather ugly and keep the airflow moving freely throughout the space. One trick that will help to hide these while not hindering airflow is to paint them the same color as the wall or the flooring so they fade into the background.
High ceilings are wonderful features in a room, but can increase your heating bills as warm air rises, trapping it close to the ceiling. If you have a ceiling fan, change the direction of the blades. Instead of it circulating to cool the hot air set it to push the air downward along the walls by reversing the flow of the fan. Circulating the air back through the room will heat the room more evenly and ease the effort your heater needs to keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
Window treatments are beautiful features in a cozy living room or romantic bedroom, but they can serve a great purpose besides adding color to a space. Full drapes made of a wool cotton blend when opened will let a natural source of heat, the sun, into the room and warm it up. In the evening, as the sun goes down and temperatures dip, closed curtains help to insulate a room from the cold air seeping through the windows. Line the window treatments and you will provide more insulation and another layer to keep out the chill in the evening.
It may seem like a great idea to turn on a space heater for a little extra warmth in a small space, but they pose several threats. First, they are expensive to run regardless of the type. Electrical ones just run up your bill and kerosene can be costly. Second, they are dangerous. All it would take is for someone to knock it over, which could start a fire or cause personal injury. The perceived savings are not worth the risk of burning down the house.
Area rugs often add color and style while unifying a space. During the cold winter months, they serve an important function, too. Rugs add another layer of insulation to the floor, trapping the cool air underneath and keeping it from seeping up and cooling the room. The warmth of the rug will keep your feet toasty too.
Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.
Imagine you’re preparing to host your annual holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home—and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned into a microwave dinner.
That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.
Problem: The oven doesn’t heat
For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.
How to avoid:
Problem: The kitchen sink clogs
The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.
How to avoid:
Problem: The heat goes out
As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.
How to avoid:
Problem: The toilet stops up
Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.
How to avoid:
Problem: The fridge doesn’t cool
Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.
How to avoid:
by TARANEH on December 3, 2012
By now you’re probably well underway with household preparations to make the yuletide bright. You’re on top of sourcing a Christmas tree. You’re decking the halls, browsing gingerbread cookie recipes, making lists and checking them twice. I’ll leave that in your capable hands.
But when it comes to getting out and attending Vancouver holiday events and attractions, rely on us. From light displays to live music, hanging out with Santa and classic Christmas theatre productions, here’s everything you need to know about Vancouver’s best Christmas events.
1) Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas, ongoing through Dec. 24
Walk in a winter wonderland a thousand metres above the city at Grouse’s annual holiday celebration, Peak of Christmas. The festivities include Santa’s workshop, an 8,000-square-foot outdoor skating pond, real reindeer, sleigh rides, Christmas choirs – all set against an alpine backdrop. The Peak of Christmas is in included in the price of an Alpine Experience Ticket ($39.95 for adults, $35.95 for seniors, $23.95 for youth 13-18, $13.95 for children 5-12).
2) Bright Nights – Stanley Park Christmas Train, ongoing through Jan. 1
Come on, it’s lovely weather for a train ride together. Parents of small kiddos consider Bright Nights to be one of the most enjoyable Vancouver holiday traditions. But make no mistake, grown-ups will melt like Frosty in summer over the view of 2 million twinkly lights illuminating Vancouver’s 1000-acre Stanley Park, visible as you ride the park’s Mini Train. Don’t forget to finish with cocoa, roasted nuts, and Christmas carols in the plaza. Rides run 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Afternoon matinees run Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. It’s closed on Christmas. Adults are $10, children and seniors are $7. Matinee train tickets are $5.50.
3) Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Britten: Saint Nicholas, Dec. 7
Tenor Ben Heppner brings classical Christmas to the Orpheum. The colourful Saint Nicolas cantata by Benjamin Britten tells the stories of the real saint using choir and orchestra. The companion piece for this joyous holiday concert is a rousing rendition ofGloria by Vivaldi. Tickets start at $10. Can’t make this show? Check out VCC’s otherChristmas concerts including A Dylan Thomas Christmas.
4) Breakfast with Santa, Dec. 9; 15-24
You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why: Santa Claus really is coming to town. While Vancouver is a brunch kind of place, Kris Kringle can only make it for breakfast. He gets pretty busy around this time of year, if you can imagine. Join Santa for a nosh from 9am-11am on Grouse Mountain. Breakfast includes a sing-a-long, reindeer crafts and admission to Peak of Christmas. Tickets are $49.50 for adults, $29.90 for youth (13-18), $18.40 for children (5-12).
5) Free Ice Skating at Robson Square Ice Rink, ongoing through Feb.
It doesn’t quite feel like the holiday season until you can stroll by Robson Square in the heart of downtown Vancouver and see ice skaters. The best part about this festive, family-friendly Vancouver winter tradition? It’s free. While visitors in NYC have to pony up $19 to skate at the iconic Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, and it’s $20+ to skate the Natural History Museum Rink in London, Vancouver’s Robson Square Ice Rink only charges for rentals. And at $4 (cash) for blades, it’s really not steep.
6) Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden , ongoing Dec. 7-Jan. 1
Vancouver’s award-winning botanical garden transforms into sparkly eye candy every year as gardeners deck the boughs with thousands of strings of coloured lights. The big draw is the enthralling “Dancing Lights” on Livingstone Lake, which burst into action every 30 minutes. Kids can also meet Santa in his living room, and high five Svend and Jens, the Scandie Christmas gnomes. Dec. 7 – Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Closed Christmas. Adult $14.25; Senior and Youth $10.50; Child $7.75.
7) White Christmas: The Musical, ongoing through Dec. 23
ArtsClub Theatre Company presents this beloved holiday classic with a new roster of crooners that do Bing justice. Based on the classic film, this tap-dancing delight is full of festive tunes: “Blue Skies,” “Sisters,” and the ever-popular “White Christmas”— that will fill you with the spirit of the season. The play runs at Stanley Theatre (2750 Granville St.). Tix range from $25 to $74.
8) Vancouver Christmas Market, ongoing through Dec. 24
The holidays Vancouver Christmas Market-style are romantic, aromatic and twinkly. Stroll inside the village gate into a world of rustic wooden huts surrounding a soaring Tannenbaum. Partake in Glühwein, brats, stollen, and gingerbread. Browse Christmas decor and gifts. Kids will enjoy the old fashioned carousel, gingerbread decorating at the Kids Centre. The market is in Queen Elizabeth Sq. Plaza in downtown Van. Tickets are $5 for adults, except weekdays 11am-4pm, when it drops to $2. Youth (7-12) are $2. Kids (0-6) are free.
9) The Nutcracker at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Dec. 14-16
For many, attending the Nutcracker is an irresistible annual holiday tradition that began when their kids danced in it. Join Clara on her adventures with princes, sugarplum fairies, evil rat kings and cossacks. In the Royal Winnipeg Ballet version, you may recognize iconic Canadian imagery (a snowy hockey game and a battle on Parliament Hill) in Clara’s fantasy land. Tickets start at $30.25.
10) Luminescence at Vancouver Aquarium, ongoing through Jan. 22
Perhaps the most creative display of lights this holiday season, Vancouver Aquarium has put together an aquatic light show featuring the incredible world of fluorescent and bioluminescent ocean light. Find out why and how aquatic animals like anemones, cuttlefish, jellies and corals glow in the deep. Don’t go home without a meet-and-greet with Scuba Claus – underwater Santa. The show is included with the price of admission: $21 for adults; $16 for youth 13-18, students and seniors; and $13 for children 4-12.
11) Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital, ongoing through Jan. 7
This lovely cavalcade of rainbow stars is a free Christmas attraction you can spot riding buses that run across Burrard Bridge. Every year, Vancouver’s downtown hospital is decked out in 10 kilometres (that’s seawall length) of Christmas lights. The volunteer-built display aims to inspire hospital donations.
12) Carol Ships Parade of Lights, ongoing through Dec. 23
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light as you join a floating parade of 50 decorated boats on a nightly excursion through Vancouver waters including Inner Harbour, Outer Harbour and False Creek to as far as West Vancouver, Port Moody and Deep Cove. Vancouver’s cruise ship companies offer many tpes of holiday adventures that offer dinner, carols and dancing.
13) Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, Dec. 21
Participate in old school winter traditions by celebrating the return of light after the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. This romantic community event takes place across five Vancouver neighbourhoods including Chinatown, Granville Island and Yaletown. As the name suggests, illumination comes from lantern displays, not bulbs. And it’s free! Learn more here.
14) The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris, ongoing through Dec. 29
Feeling, naughty rather than nice? ArtsClub presents the wickedly funny confessions of an elf on duty at a big box retail store during the holiday season. The show runs at the Revue Stage (1601 Johnston St., Granville Island. Tickets start at $29. “For mature elves only.”
15) Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, ongoing through Jan. 5
Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling, “Yoo hoo” from the stunning, 137-metre long suspension bridge that swings 70 metres above the Capilano River. While the bridge is always a jaw-dropper, it’s exponentially more magical when it’s decked out in twinkly white Christmas lights. There’s also a scavenger hunt, gingerbread cookie decorating and sing-along carols. Open daily 4pm. – 9pm It’s closed Christmas. Adults are $31.95, children are $12, and it’s $65 per family (2 adults and 2 kids).