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I like to watch the TV show "Hoarders" as a way to inspire myself to attack my home clutter. While the show itself doesn't provide actionable tips for stress relief, I know that when my home is organized, I feel better overall. Even so sometimes I just need that little extra push to dive into some home decluttering. And one episode of "Hoarders" is usually all it takes.


Turns out that I'm not alone in feeling stressed out from looking at a mess. Researchers at UCLA's Center on the Everyday Lives of Families say Americans' preoccupation with possessions has created a "clutter culture," and that the chaos created by having so much stuff is a leading cause of stress.


Subjects in a five-year study used words like "mess," "not fun" and "very chaotic" to describe their homes. In my mind mess and stress may rhyme but they also go hand in hand.


"It's no wonder that so many people view annual spring cleaning as cathartic and a stress reliever," says Lorie Marrero, Certified Professional Organizer, author of the best-selling book The Clutter Diet and a spokesperson for Goodwill's Donate Movement. "From toys and trinkets to clothing and shoes, we tend to accumulate more than we need. Clearing the clutter and chaos can lift your mood and keep you on track in other areas of your life."


Though the homes I see in "Hoarders" have clutter everywhere, experts say that for most Americans, clutter often finds its way to the closet first. One polls said that women own an average of 17 pairs of shoes yet only typically wear three of those pairs on a regular basis. More than 13 percent have more than 30 pairs (not including athletic shoes).


Got a cluttered closet? One of my tips for stress relief is that you should get in the regular habit of thinning your wardrobe. For example, twice a year I go through and look at everything from dresses to shoes and determine which items have been taking up space without ever being worn. So if I spy a dress I purchased in Spring 2012 and never wore, I seriously consider getting rid of it for Spring 2013.


My first plan of attack when decluttering my closet is to consign those items I haven't worn so I can bring in some extra cash. Whatever doesn't sell, I donate to good causes like Goodwill. Then I get a receipt for my "in kind" donation, and use that receipt for a charitable deduction on my income tax return.


Another tip that should help with stress relief? Recognizing that your cluttered home didn't get that way in a day, and it won't get fixed in a day either. I find that setting a timer for 15-minute increments is a great way to make small dents in whatever work I need to do around the house.


Home decluttering as a stress management technique and a way to make extra money—if you choose to consign your clothes like I do? Priceless.


Source: http://home.lifegoesstrong.com/article/tips-stress-related-home-clutter

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A city-owned piece of land at the corner of 9th Street and 2nd Avenue NW in Sunnyside is slated to house a temporary "container village".  The half-acre lot near the Sunnyside LRT station has been vacant for over a year after the old warehouse was demolished and the land is set to be home to an affordable housing development, but that could be years in the making. In the meantime, the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association and the Bow to Bluff Initiative, plan to apply for a development permit with the city to have the village built this summer.

“It would be nice if this wasn’t an empty, ugly space with chain link fence around it,” said Tamara Lee, Bow to Bluff’s communication chairwoman. “We want to demonstrate to the community, and even citywide, how to create a great public space — even temporarily."
“It’s basically Lego, and people get excited about space and they get very excited about Lego.”

For this to happen, the site would be zoned as a temporary park and then turned over to the community to oversee allowing the community hands-on control over the project, says Ward 7 Ald. Druh Farrell.

This is not the first time container art has been done in Calgary. Nicole Mion, artistic director for Springboard Performance, assisted with last year's container event in East Village's Fluid Festival. "In a village, there are meeting points for conversation, for commerce, for creative ideas, that I think is a really exciting step for Calgary and community.” says Mion.

Jeffrey Spalding, artistic director for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Calgary, said “It’s strange. We’re only talking about a handful of containers parked in a little triangular park in Calgary...But, we only get one chance in life to do stuff, and sometimes it’s the most unexpected things that are the most exciting and exhilarating. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Shipping containers have become very popular with architects, designers and artisans in the recent years. They have been modified to become multi-storey houses, backyard offices, and more recently, a Starbucks cafe was built in Tukwila, WA, from reclaimed shipping containers and a 12 unit apartment social housing project is underway to be finished in the coming months in Downtown Eastside Vancouver, BC.

Sources: www.calgaryherald.com, www.vancouversun.com, www.cdrecylcer.com

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Why is it so important to know how much you can afford to spend on a home?

Two reasons.

First, you don't want to buy a property and then find out, only after you’ve moved in, that you can't financially maintain it. That would mean having to resell it under stressful conditions.

Second, you don't want to settle for a property that's less than ideal, when you really could have afforded the "dream home" you've always wanted. So how do you figure out how much you can afford to pay for your next home?

The first step is to talk to a good REALTOR®. He or she will help you gain a clearer understanding of how much your current home will likely sell for in today's market. That amount, together with other financial resources you might have (such as savings), will determine your down payment.

The next thing you’ll need to figure out is your mortgage. Your REALTOR® can help you find a lender who will take a variety of factors into account – income, credit rating, debts, expected down payment, etc. – to calculate the maximum amount of mortgage for which you qualify.

Say, through the proceeds of the sale of your home combined with your savings, your expected down payment is $90,000. If the lender authorizes a mortgage of $270,000, then you can afford a $360,000 home.

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll need to spend that much. In fact, a home that meets your needs in terms of property type, features, and neighbourhood, may in fact cost you less. 


Read my page http://kimavery.com/buying.html for more buying tips.

One thing is for sure. A good REALTOR® can work with whatever amount you can afford and show you homes on the market that most closely meet your needs.

Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call me today.

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As a long-time resident in West Hillhurst, I truly can say that I am in love with the area.  Coming home after a long day of running around the city, the hustle and bustle of driving through traffic, it is so relaxing when I can park my car in the garage and just take a nice long peaceful walk along the river paths that borders the community.  If I am feeling too tired to cook, I have many restaurants to choose from offering a wide variety of cuisines.  Don't worry if you have nothing to wear for that romantic night-out with your sweetie, there are also plenty of shops with casual and formal wear for both men and women!  Calgary's downtown is just across the bridge and other amenities like the University of Calgary, Market Mall and Foothills Hospital are less than 5 km away! 


Eventhough West Hillhurst is just a river's away from the downtown core, it retains a peaceful and small town feel with its tree-lined streets and assortment of housing types for you to choose from. All amenities are nearby and neighbours are friendly and look out for each other making the neighbourhood safe and secure.


View my new West Hillhurst community page http://kimavery.com/west-hillhurst.html for more details about this community and other communities to come! Watch for it! 


Do you want to share your stories about living in your neighbourhood?  I want to know the ONE thing that you love about it and why you would recommend others to consider living there as well.


My favourite part of living in West Hillhurst is a small house I pass by every day on my way home.  It is just a street down from mine.  It was built in 1920s and remains unchanged on the outside other than some minor fix-ups.  However, as soon as you step inside, it has been completely modernized except for the old hardwood floors and yet the feel of the house brings me back to grandma's kitchen...it is truly something special and wonderful!  I love West Hillhurst!

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High prices in Calgary housing market driving the trend


CALGARY — With prices in Calgary’s real estate market continuing to rise, a growing trend is emerging in the popularity of attainable housing initiatives in the city.


Attainable Homes Calgary and McPherson Place — two separate projects — have seen an explosion of interest by Calgarians who want to get into home ownership.


“What we’re trying to do is provide home ownership to moderately income Calgarians and we do that by way of a forgivable down payment essentially . . . The majority of our customers are renters who never thought they’d ever be able to own a home in Calgary because of the gap that’s growing between the cost of housing and wage increases over the last number of years,” said David Watson, president and chief executive of Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation.


According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, in January the average MLS sale price for residential property in the city was $439,671, up 12.34 per cent from January 2012.


“The increase in home prices and home costs outpace income considerably. In certain cities, especially Calgary, where we’re having economic good times, the increase in housing values far outpaces the increase in salary for the average individual. As that happens, rental prices also increase,” said Dan Van Leeuwen, president and chief executive of New Urban Consulting which developed and built the McPherson Place condo project in Bridgeland.


Attainable Homes Calgary and McPherson Place work in fairly similar ways.


Attainable Homes Calgary is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the city with an independent board.


“In the last two years, we’ve put 200 families into homes and these are people who thought they’d never own a home. Our goal is to probably get that up to about 200 a year,” said Watson.


To purchase a home with Attainable Homes Calgary, households are required to meet the following criteria: annual household income no greater than $80,000; total assets valued no greater than $100,000; qualify for a mortgage; provide minimum $2,000 down payment.


“The way it’s sustainable is that people share the equity and after a three-year period if they choose to sell it, they have every right to sell it at any time, they take 75 per cent of whatever the equity uplift is and we get 25 per cent back. That helps keep this sustainable going into the future,” said Watson.


The home owner’s share of the property’s appreciation is zero per cent if they live in the home for under one year; 25 per cent if they live in the home between one to two years; and 50 per cent if they live there for two to three years.


About 6,000 people have expressed interest by registering on the organization’s website. Current prices for homes range from $156,000 to $270,000.


Heather Loeppky recently purchased a townhome in SkyView Ranch that is being built and ready for occupancy in August.


“For me it’s a pretty big success,” said Loeppky. “I’m a single parent of a little two-and-a-half year old girl. I’m solely responsible for her. So trying to afford Calgary’s rental market as well as the incredible cost of care, being able to really save for that down payment is such a faraway goal, almost unreachable. So what little savings I do obtain it would just take forever to do it on my own.”


The 160-unit McPherson Place is sold out with a waiting list of at least 60 people. Occupancy is now in place with the building to be totally occupied by March 15.


“We could probably fill that building a few times over with the demand we’ve had,” said Van Leeuwen.

The average market price for a one-bedroom unit there is $263,000. The purchaser gets qualified on a mortgage based on about 65 per cent of the price. It’s a shared equity program. The purchaser does not pay a down payment but shares in the ownership of the unit with the developer New Urban, INHOUSE Attainable Housing Society and the City of Calgary. When the unit is sold, the purchaser retains the 65 per cent equity share. McPherson Place has qualified purchasers earning between $30,000 and $67,000.


INHOUSE is a not-for-profit organization that will operate the building.


There is a 10-year restricted covenant period. After 10 years, the unit can be sold to the open market. If a purchaser wants to sell prior to that, they would receive 65 per cent of the market value and the developer and the city would then take their shared equity and provide that to the next purchaser as their down payment. After 10 years, anyone can buy the property.


“We’re prepared to take the 10-year risk because we believe in inflation,” said Van Leeuwen.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Attainable+homes+initiatives+gaining+popularity/7981419/story.html#ixzz2NcnVl0tf

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I wanted to thank Aera Creative for my professional photos that we were able to take. The support I have received from them is top notch !


This photo of me, Kim Avery ! Love it !


Kim Avery REMAX Real Estate

Here are some tips that I found on how to take a great picture!


For some people, having a photograph taken is easier than it is for others. Some people are just naturally more photogenic than others, meaning that pictures come out better in the end. How photogenic a person is has nothing to do with their level of beauty, but their pose in front of the camera, as well as their reaction to having their photograph taken.

For those who are interested in being more photogenic, take heed of the following five tips on being more photogenic.

1. Naturally, men and women are inclined to stand differently. When having your picture taken, shift your weight to one foot or one buttock (if seated) as much as possible without looking like you are collapsing to one side. This looks more natural and relaxed than standing or sitting straight up like a soldier.

2. Lean slightly inward, toward the camera. This looks more natural than leaning back or sitting straight up and makes you look more relaxed and comfortable. The more comfortable you look, the better the end result photograph is bound to be.

3. Learn to ‘change your state.’ In the model world, they call this a trigger. Sure, you don’t want to have your picture taken and are worried about the end result but don’t let that show up on the camera. Make it look like you have been doing this for years. Just let go of the nervousness in your head and picture yourself as America’s Next Top Model.

4. Learn the infamous ¾ smile. Breathe in and smile genuinely, as if you just had a nice thought. Big smiles are great, but they don’t always come out well in pictures. Some people like the serious look, which works for many but more often than not you will come out looking depressed or angry.

5. Don’t look at the camera lens. Repeat: Do NOT look at the camera lens.  This is especially important if you are taking a picture for your online dating profile. This makes people look startled or as if they are trying too hard. Look slightly above the camera lens. Many photographers will have some type of marker atop the lens so that subjects will remember not to look directly at it. Try one picture looking at the camera and one looking just above it, and see the difference.


Source: http://www.datehookup.com/content-5-steps-to-being-more-photogenic.htm

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At REALTOR® Magazine online this month, you’ll find a list of the top 10 worst showing offenses your home sellers can make. The list was culled from the most common responses of more than 50 buyer agents who shared what they’ve witnessed in touring homes with their clients.

But kitty litter boxes and dirty dishes in the sink aside, some buyer agents say they’ve seen much worse when touring homes with their clients. Here are some of the “Hall of Fame” of worst showing offenses. Be sure to chime in below with the worst offenses you’ve witnessed too!

Hide the ‘Body Bag’ Before the Showing

“The worst thing I ever witnessed during a showing was seeing a full body bag on the floor of the master bedroom closet. I was showing a home to a couple and their 10-year-old daughter. The wife opened the master bedroom closet and screamed when she saw a full body bag. Upon further inspection by myself and the husband, we discovered the body bag was packed with clothing for storage purposes. Still, it was extremely creepy. Needless to say, they did not purchase that home. Now I jokingly warn all my sellers to put away the body bags before the house goes on the market.”

–Shannon Register, broker-owner of Register Real Estate Advisors, Spring, Texas

Who Let the Dogs Out?

“I called a listing agent to make a showing appointment and she informed me of a small dog closed up in the laundry room. She asked that I let the dog out into the backyard during the showing. Being a dog person, I agreed, but when I arrived my clients were already there and entered the home with me, even though I asked they wait outside while I took care of the dog. When I opened the laundry room, the dog fired out like a cannon across the kitchen and into the living room, half barking and half screaming, while simultaneously spraying bodily fluids and firing solids across the floor. My well-meaning client took a dive for the dog. The dog took a bite out of him! The dog then flew into the master bedroom and scampered under the bed. The owner’s father arrived to help us, coaxing the dog out and back into the laundry room. Meanwhile, I cleaned up the dog mess on the kitchen and living room floors and gave my client first aide for his dog bite.“

–LePage Williams, EXIT Realty of the Valley, Madison, Ala.

Home Showing or Crime Scene?

“I was showing a property to a relocation family from Texas. We walked upstairs and spotted red blood stains across the green carpet. We walked into the kids bedrooms, and I saw the dresser drawers were all pulled out and missing clothes. The closet hangers were empty and piled on the floor. As we continued looking at the home, we walked in the master bedroom, which had a large canopy bed and white sheets. The sheets had been pulled back and the bed was covered in bright, red blood. The entire bed! We walked closer to the bed, and I saw a pile of family photos on top of the blood. We left the home and I immediately called the listing agent. We then contacted the police. The police investigated and questioned the home owner about the mysterious blood. The home owner had to prove to the police that his wife was safe. Later, the listing agent told me ‘my client said his wife was having female problems.’”

–Christine Smith, RE/MAX Accord, Pleasanton, Calif.

Sure, Blame it on the Dog!

“I made an appointment, giving three days prior notice to show a home. The listing agent wanted to be sure I knew the owner had a blind dog that might have spilled food around his dish. When I arrived, I was so embarrassed but I also had to laugh: The blind dog was sitting very quietly in ‘his’ lounge chair. There were dirty dishes stacked in the sinks, unmade beds, and worse of all, ladies panties on the floor. Don’t blame the dog!”

–Joy McClinthen, Joy McClinthen Realty, Pachuta, Miss.

Overly Honest Home Owners

“The sellers insisted on meeting buyers during inspections. The buyers confided to the seller that they were moving because they had a crazy neighbor who would not leave them alone. The seller agreed, telling the buyer that they also had a crazy neighbor who would not leave them alone. The deal fell through that day.”

–Jeff Fairchild, RE/MAX of Stuart, Stuart, Fla.

Honourable Mention:

My worst (in my opinion) and most memorable showing was of a single story starter home built in the mid 1980′s. Three bedroom, 2 bath and roughly 1800 square feet. Everything was going great until we (my two clients and I) walked into the master bedroom. I instantly noticed in the ceiling 4 hooks hanging from the ceiling. I thought; “odd place to hang your plants – at the four corners above the bed.” Then I stopped. Backed up to the door again and re-evaluated the 4 hooks. The four hooks were the size to hang a bike from it. Then it hit me – the couple selling the house were into SMBD!!! I looked at my clients. They looked at me and said; “we like this house.”

-Elton Goddard, CARDANI Group, REALTORS®, Austin, TX

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

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How awesome would it be to reuse an old piece of furniture or any household items and transform it into another piece of furniture or art?  We've gathered a few ideas that are on our top 10 list of great recycled projects for you and with a little bit of elbow grease, glue gun and creativity, I'm sure we can make something great while saving our wonderful blue planet!


1.Lampshade Made of Bookpages by Zipper8 Lighting

paper lamps


2. Seagrass Table made out of a Tire!

Pinned Image


3. Lamp Made from Motorcycle Parts by Betsy Ryland

motorcycle lamp


4. Rug Made from T-Shirts by Xoelle

t-shirt rug


5. Bookshelf Made of Books by Not Tom

nontraditional bookshelves


6. Make a Messenger Bag out of Trash Bags



7. Plastic Bag Crochet


8.Mirror frame made with bottle caps

9. Upcycle old tires for Pets

10. The tire that became a toy

I think these are all wonderful ideas that we can try at home, just to do our little part in helping our environment.  Try at least one of them, take a picture of your project and email it to me and your item will be featured in my next newsletter!!!

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