Courtesy of Steve Mullock

Steve's newsletter


TOP 3 THINGS TOWATCH OUT FOR WHEN BUYING A HOME Buying a house is not only a huge financial investment, it’s also an investment of your time and emotions. Make the process as smooth as possible by keeping an eye out for these three things when visiting a listing. Cracks in the foundation. Almost all foundations have small hairline cracks. It’s the bigger ones you need to worry about. Of course, not all cracks are going to be visible to the naked eye. When viewing a home, watch out for doors that stick, cracks above or below windows and uneven floors. These can all be signs that a foundation is cracked and unstable. Heating and cooling issues. If a potential home has an outdated furnace, hot water tank or air conditioning system, make sure to factor the cost of replacing them into your offer price. Window quality. Much like with furnaces and air conditioners, outdated windows signal an additional cost in your not-so-distant future. Not only will they eventually need to be replaced, you’ll also spend more on your energy bills due to hot or cold air escaping through old windows.

4 BENEFITS OF BUYING A SMALL HOME Ever dreamed of downsizing and living in a home that’s easier to maintain? Or perhaps a small home is all your current finances allow for. There are many reasons to purchase a smaller home, which is typically defined as being less than 1,000 square feet. However, depending on where in the country you live, what is considered a “small home” may have a higher or lower footprint. Regardless of size, the most important aspect of buying a small home is that it is only big enough to suit the needs of those living within it – and not a square foot bigger. Aside from saving on maintenance costs and mortgage payments, a smaller house has many other benefits. More money to renovate and decorate. Having a lower mortgage payment often leaves you with some extra income to play with. Buying a smaller home that you can add your personal touch to also makes it seem roomier because everything in it is perfectly you. Close proximity to your family or roommates. This is one of those benefits that some may view as a negative, but in the long run it fosters relationships and creates more of a close-knit living experience. Easier to clean. While this point ties into the reduced maintenance of a smaller home, it’s worth mentioning all on its own. Why? Because less time spent cleaning means more time spent doing what you really want. It also means less money spent on cleaning supplies. Lower environmental impact. Because a smaller home has a smaller physical footprint, it is less of an impact on natural resources. It takes less energy to heat and less electricity to light. And if you live in a small condo in a city centre, you can also reduce the amount of fuel used to drive by walking everywhere.

Q U O T E “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” – Elbert Hubbard (Elbert Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Presently Hubbard is known best as the founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York, an influential exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The complex is now a National Historic Site. Among Hubbard’s many publications were the fourteen-volume work Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great and the short publication A Message to Garcia. He and his second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.)


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DIRECTIONS: 1. Wash the potatoes, then peel and chop into 1 1/2-inch cubes.

INGREDIENTS: 3 pounds potatoes 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced 4 tablespoons butter, melted

2. Put the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, making sure all the potatoes are submerged. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. 3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. 4. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with a potato masher or ricer. 5. Add the onion, butter, sour cream and milk. Stir well until combined. 6. Mix in 1 cup of cheddar cheese, ground pepper and garlic powder. Stir well. 7. Transfer the potato mixture to a greased 9-inch pan or 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Loosely cover the casserole with aluminum foil. 8. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, add the bacon and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with chives and parsley. Enjoy!

1 cup full-fat sour cream 1/3 cup milk or half & half 1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt, separated 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 4 to 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2020’S BIGGEST HEALTH TRENDS There’s always a new health trend to follow, and if you like to shake things up – you’re in luck! 2020 has already brought with it new ideas and innovations in the exercise and diet realm. One of the biggest areas of growth is the on-demand workout. With technology already allowing us to do more and more on our own time schedule – and in our own homes – why not squeeze in a live-stream yoga class before breakfast? Or have a one-on-one online session with your personal trainer from the comfort of your living room? If you still like to get your heart rate up alongside other people – or need their company to feel motivated – 2020 has also seen a boom in boutique studios. Focused on very specific exercise styles and clientele, a boutique studio is specialized and unique – just like we are. As for food and nutrition, the meat alternative market is estimated to reach 27.5 billion dollars by 2025, which means plant-based and lab-grown meats will become more common at grocery stores and restaurants. Lastly, wellness retreats give your mind and body much needed attention in the form of healthy eats and gentle, guided exercise.

IS SELLING A CONDO THE SAME AS SELLING A HOUSE? Thinking of selling your condo? While some may assume it’s the same as selling a single-family home, that usually isn’t the case. Condos have different features and selling points than a house, and they also have their own unique drawbacks. Knowing the pros and cons – as well as how to make your condo as appealing to buyers as possible – will help make your selling process go more smoothly. Standby rules such as the best time of year to list a property may differ between a house and a condo, depending on location. For example, if your condo is near or part of a vacation area such as a beach or a ski resort, it’s often best to list right before either the winter or summer holidays. Pricing a condo is also different than pricing a home because you’re likely surrounded by mostly identical units. This offers great comparables, however don’t assume that all the units in your building have the same level of finish or have been equally maintained. And while there are aspects of staging a condo that are the same as staging a house, condos often need even more decluttering because space restrictions can make things seem more cramped. Donate or box up everything that isn’t essential, but make sure to keep out a few nice pieces of furniture or decor to help your space stand out from any other listed units in your area. Lastly, marketing your building – not just your unit – will play a big part in drawing in potential buyers. Think about the things that make your building a desirable place to live – and make sure to let your REALTOR ® know!


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I was known to Greek philosophers a thousand years ago, I have numbers all in a line, and I can tell you if rain will turn to snow. What am I? (Answer: A thermometer.) You can find me in abundance in Greenland, in a box, in a sweet treat but you’ll never ever find me in an oven. What am I? (Answer: Ice.) You can see me up north bundled up, I live inside a white house, and my diet is mainly Paleo. Who am I? (Answer: An Eskimo.) I am worn to mark a successful victory, I am also made of flowers and leaves formed into a circle, and I vary from big to tiny. What am I? (Answer: A wreath.) I am a dreamlike fairyland but I can be horrific to many when I cover the land with ice. What am I? (Answer: Winter.)


Whether you consider yourself a minimalist, or just like the simple look of a clutter-free home – these tips are for you! First off, use a white, light grey or beige colour palette on your walls, built-ins and large pieces of furniture. The barely there colour scheme will make your home feel brighter, more open and more peaceful. Add in a few pops of colour with accessories such as throw pillows, curtains or vases. Next up, don’t be afraid to leave spaces empty. Not every corner or surface needs to be filled up. Empty spaces create balance in a home and make the items you do choose to display stand out more. Fight the urge to fill up the space. Box up some of your belongings to donate or to store. If in storage, you can swap items out periodically helping your decor feel fresh without creating clutter. You can create minimalist space with artwork, textures and simple objects that tell a story. For example, if you’re only going to hang one piece of art in your bedroom, it should be something you absolutely love. Allow your belongings to tell your personal story by only putting out things that mean something to you. This could include family heirlooms or souvenirs from your travels. Lastly, let the sun shine in by using lightweight curtains and blinds on your windows – or nothing at all. Certainly bedroom windows need something to block early morning and late evening light from disturbing your sleep, but don’t be afraid to leave windows in rooms such as the kitchen and living room bare. Remember – natural light is a minimalist’s friend.


Fill in the answers to the clues by selecting the correct syllables from the list below. Each syllable can only be used once and the number of syllables to be used is shown in brackets. When the correct words are filled in, the first and last letters reading down will reveal a proverb.


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