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Eight cleaning hacks for a spotless home

Oct. 06, 2021 | Tyler Difley


Stories Tagged - advice

Sept. 07, 2016 | Donna Balzer

Seeding into fall

Try a last-minute salad crop

newDonnawebIt was well after her neighbour had finished their veggie harvest and late into November last year when my daughter, Chelsie, allowed her son, Cohen, to fulfill his final garden wish of the season.

First, she asked eight-year old Cohen to fill eight more bags of Kale from their patch.

The next morning, when the temperatures crashed and the remaining crop was crisply covered with frosty icing, Chelsie gave Cohen the go-ahead. He bounced high on his trampoline and lept off into the frozen kale patch. The kale cracked into shards on impact, and the still-soft soil broke his fall as he tumbled like a gymnast down the row. You couldn't imagine a bigger smile and a better way to say goodbye to summer.

Deadheading involves cutting flowers off after they fade to encourage more flowers. Photo by Donna Balzer/For CREB®Now

Aug. 26, 2016 | Donna Balzer

Deadheading boosts blooms

But beware of Calgary's famous hail belt

newDonnawebWhat's with crazy gardening terms like "deadheading?" It sounds like something done in a dark alley, in private, after midnight.

Patrick Horner, a reader and fairly new gardener, wasn't sure at first, but he figured out from an online search that it meant cutting flowers off after they fade to encourage more flowers. He sent me an email: "If I am deadheading [my dianthus], what do I remove?"

Horner's plant in question is a perennial dianthus – a hardy dwarf relative of the common-cut flower the carnation. If he deadheads it, it may bloom again a bit this season, and will certainly bloom more heavily next year because it won't use up its energy making seeds this year.

The usual definition of a weed is a plant growing where you don’t want it.   Identifying what's a weed, however, takes a bit more effort. Photo courtesy Donna Balzer/For CREB®Now

Aug. 08, 2016 | Donna Balzer

Crazy weeds

When you know it's too good to be true

newDonnaweb"Help! This plant is growing behind my office in Calgary and I can't identify it" tweeted Christene.

Gloria had some "wonderful old flowers" suddenly appear in her Canmore yard, so she sent photos by email. Mehran fell in love with a beautiful plant he saw in a Springbank ditch. He texted me a photo. Pretty and mysterious plants were suddenly on all my media.

"Our office building is about two blocks west of the Bow River. There's always a bunch of interesting plants growing out back behind the warehouse loading dock so I'm always trying to identify them, see if there are any plants I can steal to put in my garden. I had never seen anything like this one before and probably spent a good hour trying to figure out what it was," said Christene by follow-up email. But of course anything this exotic and pretty and springing out of nowhere could only be one thing. Christene and Gloria and Mehran all had or wanted to know more about weeds. Pretty, vigorous weeds.

Hiring a gardener is not the same as hiring a house cleaner, says 'No Guff Gardener' Donna Balzer.

June 30, 2016 | Donna Balzer

Get the right help in your garden

Finding a gardener that matches your mindset

newDonnawebMaybe you are getting your house ready for sale, expecting the in-laws to visit or you just brought home a new baby and now the shrubs are threatening to eat the front door. Either way, you need a gardener.

Hiring a gardener is not the same as hiring a house cleaner. Most indoor cleaning jobs follow an accepted system for removing dirt and fluffing pillows. They leave the home the same, but cleaner than before.

Outdoors, your personal style and sensitivity have to match the person you hire as a gardener because a garden evolves and changes over time. Your gardener has to be going in the same direction as you.

June 30, 2016 | CREBNow

Figuring out the financials

Tips on how to see if you're bank account is ready for your first home

So you're ready to be a homeowner. But is your bank account?

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) offers the following tips to help first-time homebuyers determine if their financially ready to take that first step:

When picking a real estate professional to work with, experts suggest asking questions such as whether they operate with a team or as an individual? What access to resources do they have?

June 30, 2016 | Mario Toneguzzi

Perfect match

Buyers, sellers encouraged to do their research before picking a real estate professional

Purchasing a home will be one of the biggest financial decisions most of us will ever make in our lifetimes. Getting it right can mean the difference between moving into your dream home and living in a house of horrors.

Whether a first-time buyer/seller or not, the first step is to find the right real estate professional or service to help you on your journey to homeownership, said CREB® president Cliff Stevenson. A good place to start is through referral.

"If there was an analysis done on the largest referral source, it's probably from people you know and come across. It's word-of-mouth referral," said Stevenson, adding online searches are also important tools for buyers and sellers when looking for a real estate professional or service. "But they're looking for some type of social proof and social validation out there as well."

Gardening guru Donna Balzer suggests, If permitted, adding containers to the edge of the balcony rail to give more planting space.

June 22, 2016 | CREBNow

Beauty on the balcony

Five tips on how to add some wow factor to your outdoor space

newDonnawebIt is possible to plant your balcony using leftover plastic containers and old grocery bags. That said, it is also possible to wear old coffee sacks as clothing.

If you want beauty on your balcony or your body, plan ahead and look for the right pieces to make a statement because even a small space deserves to be beautiful.

Here are five tips to boost your balcony's beauty this spring:

1. Cover the balcony floor

If you have old, tired outdoor rugs or a concrete balcony, laying outdoor floor decking can quickly change the ambiance. Outdoor floor decking can be cut to size to fit your space. It doesn't need to be glued down, so it is easily lifted for winter or when you move. If your balcony is the same size of a woven plastic rug, skip the wood floor and buy a new area rug to cover the existing surface.

Denim pine comes from trees that have been infected by mountain pine beetles. The name stems from its distinctive blue streaks, which are caused by a fungus the beetles introduce while attacking the tree. Photo courtesy BeetleWood Industries.

April 21, 2016 | Tyler Difley

Singing the blues

Colourful wood can add character to any home

It goes by many names: denim pine, blue-stain pine and "beetlewood," to name a few.

No matter what you call it, this little-known wood could be the centrepiece of Calgary's next big interior design trend.

Denim pine comes from trees that have been infected by mountain pine beetles. The name stems from its distinctive blue streaks, which are caused by a fungus the beetles introduce while attacking the tree.

April 21, 2016 | Giselle Wedemire

Short haul

Tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint when moving

Between packing boxes and hauling all of your earthly possessions, moving can be a real drag – especially on the environment.

From fuel emissions to cardboard boxes, the carbon footprint that comes with moving can be tremendous, said Zach Williams, digital marketing manager at Highland Moving & Storage Ltd., which operates Calgary's eco-friendly movers Frogbox.

Luckily, Williams said green moving is a growing market thanks to the public's increased awareness of the issue of climate change.

April 21, 2016 | Joel Schlesinger

Low-cost lifestyle

Five tips to go net-zero without the hefty price tag

Calgarians seeking a more net-zero lifestyle don't have to rely soley on big-ticket solar panels, geothermal heating and other energy-efficient technologies, say experts.

"There are plenty of little things people can do in their homes to move toward a net-zero lifestyle that aren't necessarily costly," said Areni Kelleppan, executive director of Green Calgary, a non-profit urban environmental organization that encourages Calgarians to live greener.

Don't know where to start? No need to worry: CREB®Now asked some green experts to offer up a few low-cost ideas to walk a more net-zero path:

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