These Home Builders in Ontario Are Building Something Inspiring

There’s a lot of negativity in the news about the state of housing here in Canada. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got a booming housing market that’s making investors rich; on the other, a shortage of affordable housing that puts homeownership far out of reach for money. But some Royal Home Builder in Ontario are taking on innovative, inspiring projects that offer a glimpse of a better future for the housing situation.

south ontario home

Custom Homes for First Nation Residents

Housing is a pressing issue in Ontario’s north, particularly among some First Nation communities. Many reserves rely on prefabricated government homes that haven’t stood the test of time. In fact, some of these homes are barely standing – not to mention overcrowded.

A team of urban planners from Ryerson University is hoping to change that by putting the power of design into the hands of First Nations communities. For the past two years, they have been working with members of the Nibinamik Nation to plan custom homes that fill the gaps in the community’s housing situation.

The team has consulted with individual families and the community at large to design ideal homes. Some of the ideas include an emphasis on community gathering areas, bedrooms large enough to accommodate larger families, sustainable energy sources, and storage space for hunting gear.

The ability to craft one’s own home is so enormously empowering. Although the community is still waiting on the go-ahead for government funding, the project holds great promise. Home builders in Ontario could soon be building custom homes that could make a huge difference in this small community. And that’s awesome.

Radically Eco-Friendly Homes

When you read the words “prefabricated home”, you probably picture something along the lines of what a Google image search for the term delivers; small, squarish homes that look like they rolled off a factory line. They’re cool, to be sure, but they aren’t exactly popular.

Royal Homes’ custom prefab homes are bringing fresh ideas to the world of eco-friendly home building. They’re not the prefabricated home builder on the block, but there’s one important thing that sets them apart from the rest: once in place, Royal Homes’ custom prefab homes are indistinguishable from a house built the old-fashioned way.

That’s an important difference. If eco-friendly prefab building is ever going to go mainstream, the houses have to actually look like homes. While the uber-modern shipping crate homes have a niche appeal, they aren’t what most people desire in a home.

And that’s what makes these homes inspiring. They make sustainability beautiful. That could be the key to finally getting people on board with eco-friendly housing.

How to Reduce Hydro Bills

Hydro bills getting you down? Yes, Ontarians got a bit of a break when the governing Liberal Party made some changes last year, but hydro bills can still take a big bite. This is particularly true if you live in a good-sized house and have a large family. We all love the basic conveniences of modern life, but do they have to cost so much?

Fortunately, there are ways to effectively reduce your monthly hydro bill that are easy to implement and will not have a drastic effect on your preferred lifestyle:

Turn Things Off

Well, let’s start with one that seems perfectly logical. Don’t leave the lights on in a room when you’re not there; that’s easy! However, it gets more complicated as there are electricity drains happening you might not even be aware of. Just because your electronic equipment is turned off doesn’t mean it’s not using power. You would be shocked to know just how much juice these devices consume when in standby mode. If you are not using them, unplug. You can make this easier with a plug bar that has an On/Off switch.

Do Things During Off-Peak Times

Most areas have set times described by power companies as Off-Peak, Mid-Peak, and On-Peak. The latter times are when electricity consumption is typically at its highest, so power companies charge more. Confine activities like laundry and running your dishwasher to the off-peak times, which can be as much as 40-50% less per kilowatt hour.

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats have come a long way in the past few years. They are very easy to program and, with some models, you don’t even have to be home to do it. Automatically lower your temperature at night and stay within a certain range during the day. The annual savings will more than justify the cost of a new thermostat.

 

Speed Reading: Benefit or Impediment?

Do you remember the movie SHORT CIRCUIT from your childhood? The robot, No. 5, had a number of fun talents, including the ability to read entire books in a matter of seconds. It is a talent I have thought of on many an occasion, especially when faced with a stack of books and an impending deadline.

Of course, humans can learn to speed read, but we will never be a match for No. 5. We supposedly have the capacity to read as many as 1700 words a minute, a mind-boggling figure. However, the question is, do we really get a chance to understand and retain those words when they are flying by our eyes that quickly?

The jury is still out on this. Experts generally agree that if you are reading to learn, then speed reading is not a good idea. Your ability to read and retain information begins to deteriorate once you pass 400 words per minute. The losses in retention then accelerate dramatically from 600 words per minute and up.

However, speed reading can have one very helpful attribute. If you are speeding through blocks of text trying to find information, then you should be able to locate said words successfully. However, you should then stop and read that section at your regular speed, should you wish to retain what’s there.

If you want to improve your reading speed, one of the big things is the elimination of sub vocalization. This is the practice of saying what you’re reading. This doesn’t even have to occur out loud; you could simply be hearing the words as you read them. This can help some individuals to get a better understanding of what is on the page, but it is also slowing them down. As a first step to speeding up your reading, jettisoning this habit is key.

Pets Can Be a Wonderful Way for Children to Grow

Most of us had pets as a child, but have you ever thought back on just how that cat, dog, or rabbit influenced your growth as a person? Children live in the moment and derive great pleasure from the time they spend with their animals. However, in those same moments, they are also learning things unconsciously that better allow them to adapt to and succeed in the world.

Some families might wonder whether it is a good idea to get their youngest a pet, given the responsibility and costs involved. However, here are some points that might help convince parents that this is a good idea that goes beyond the fun pets can provide.

Responsibility

Pets don’t care for themselves and some parents rightly worry that they will end up with this burden, should the child ever lose interest in the animal. However, caring for a pet can really help to teach children the importance of responsibility. If their animal is not properly fed and cared for, they can become sick and even die. While no one would ever wish for this to happen, it can be a stark and necessary lesson.

Exercise

More and more children these days are becoming obese from having sedentary lives, thanks to computers, smartphones, and video games. Pets (dogs, especially) must be regularly walked, so that means getting out of the house and indulging in some physical activity a few times a day. Playtime with a dog can also be highly beneficial in this regard, for both the child and the canine.

Personality Growth

Some children are quite anxious, while others are easily stressed, and/or lack self-esteem. A study by the U.S. Public Health Service revealed that all three of these conditions are less likely to occur in children that have a pet. Animal companionship can also improve both relationship development and communication.

Sympathy Flowers 101

Flowers have been given as a sign of sympathy following death for thousands of years. The intention is to introduce a feeling of color and life back into a time when sadness is prevailing for friends and family of the deceased. While there are no hard and fast rules about how this is done, the following suggestions can help if you are not sure:

It is a traditional to send flowers to a funeral home or wake, but you can also send them directly to the family and/or primary person who is grieving. Some families ask that instead of flowers, you give a donation to a particular charity: it is still permissible to do both. You can also send flowers to a place of business associated with the diseased.

Families or groups of co-workers often go in together for a floral arrangement, but it is perfectly fine for you to also send one on your own. The vast majority of funeral homes will let the families have any flowers left behind and some will even deliver them. Some homes may have restrictions about the sort of plants that may be displayed (e.g. nothing in glass vases), however, so you might want to call ahead and check before placing an order.

Sending flowers to a funeral is appropriate for most any religion. However, if you are not sure, check with a friend of the family that is knowledgeable in this area. If flowers are not the best way to go, ask about what other gesture you can make instead.

If you wish for an arrangement to really reflect the deceased, choose flowers or an arrangement style that has some connection to them and their tastes. This can be something well known to everyone or just something that was special to your own relationship.

Working With Troublesome Clients

Very few companies are entirely autonomous; to succeed in business, you have to work with other people. That can be through mergers or temporary alliances, such as clients. Everyone desires to have smooth and harmonious relationships, whether in their personal lives or in business, but we all know that is not realistic. There will always be people who we do not have great dealings with and it will be a struggle to keep things reasonably harmonious.

Are you continually having trouble with some of your clients? Not sure what you can do to fix things? Try some of the following tips:

Admit it when you are wrong

Nothing can make a situation between a business and its clients worse than if the business is caught lying. If for some reason you made a mistake or otherwise failed to live up to your obligations, admit that shortcoming. Lying, or trying to blame the client, will just make things worse and quite likely terminate the relationship.

Live up to your end of the bargain

If you make a deal with the client, you need to fulfill your end. Before signing a deal, weigh how much time it will take to live up to these obligations and decide whether the relationship is even worthwhile for you to enter into in the first place. Trying to figure that out after the relationship has already started is not productive and will likely not give you the answer you seek.

Come up with the best approach

Based on your experience with this client, or other clients over the years, come up with a form of communication that works. For example, some clients like a direct approach, while others like to be finessed; try out different methods and stick with the approach that seems to yield the best results.

Foods That Improve Mental Health

There is an old saying that goes, “You are what you eat,” and is often brought up in reference to junk food. A regular diet of things like hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes will take a definite toll on your physical health after awhile. But did you know that what you eat can also negatively affect your mental health?

Therapists working with people who have mental health challenges tried various strategies to help their clients overcome these problems. While talk therapy and medication are often cited, one lesser-known strategy is diet. While the food these individuals eat will not fully solve their problems, a change in diet can often make mental health challenges less potent.

Antioxidants

You have probably heard about how antioxidants are great for your physical health, but they are actually also beneficial for your outlook. People with large amounts of carotenoids (a form of antioxidant) in their system tend to be more optimistic and upbeat, which is the antithesis of depressed or anxious. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables, so make sure that you have the recommended amount of both each day.

Junk foods make you feel more stressed

so-called comfort foods may indeed make us feel better for a time, but they are actually also making us more stressed. Heavy amounts of sugar and salt are not beneficial for people dealing with issues like anxiety and depression (or anyone, really). In the long run, a healthier diet will make you feel better.

You will get more sleep

Another thing that junk food is not good for is promoting healthy sleeping habits. People suffering from anxiety and depression often do not sleep well, which makes them feel really tired and that in turn heightens the already existing problems. The equation is simple: a better diet equals better sleep.

How Often Do You Shop Online?

In the 1990s when the Internet was just getting started, online shopping seemed like a real novelty. The selection was very limited; if you wanted to order books, there was Amazon and a few other places. There were also a few more fringe items available that might be difficult to find in stores. And that seemed like the main purpose for Internet shopping: getting things that were not within easy reach.

However, people were intrigued by Internet shopping, and it started to catch on. The number of sites, and the sort of things that they offered, began to grow tremendously. Within a few years, Amazon became a major retailing force and one of the most powerful companies in the world. That sort of growth is something no one could have foreseen back in the 1990s, but Internet shopping is a fact of life for the vast majority of the population now.

That major shift in people’s buying habits has had a major effect on the retail industry. Brick-and-mortar stores, the mainstay of the industry, have been in serious decline. Major chains like Sears and Toys “R” Us have recently filed for bankruptcy protection, something that was unthinkable as little as a decade ago.

Do you buy most of your goods online now? There is no arguing the convenience: just look something up, click your mouse a few times, and it arrives a few days later. Since they do not have a physical presence, online retailers can also offer things at a lower price, further increasing the temptation for most people.

Online shopping also provides an easy way to find the best value. Furthermore, some people only go into retail outlets to try things out. Once they have decided they want the product in question, they then order it online. Another reason that brick and mortar retail sales have dipped.

Are You Having Trouble With Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal part of life, but we will bet that you never found someone who says they like feeling anxious. Anxiety in moderation can be a good thing, but those who experience anxiety on a regular basis know that it can greatly degrade their quality of life and even become a full blown mental health issue.

Do you suffer from anxiety on a regular basis? If anxiety is seriously affecting your quality of life, first and foremost we recommend that you see a therapist. They have the professional training to analyze you and your situation, and will come up with some ideas that can help you to feel better.

In the interim, you can try some of our suggestions:

Exercise

Endorphins are the “feel-good” chemicals produced by your brain when you engage in physical activity. This is why you can experience a natural high after a good workout. The endorphins can also improve your mood at the same time.

Practice anxiety and avoidance

Are there certain situations or people that can cause your anxiety to spike? If so, do your best to avoid them. This can potentially lead to some awkward moments, but sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to make sure that the problem never occurs in the first place.

Cut down on the caffeine intake

For many of us, a steaming cup of coffee is a very common part of our day (or several of them). We use it to get going in the morning and keep us going during the day. Unfortunately, the properties that give your brain that added boost can also heighten your anxiety. Depending on the level of anxiety that you are experiencing, you may find it necessary to cut back on your caffeine intake or even eliminate it from your diet altogether.

Electric Bill Too High? Here are Some Tips That Can Help!

If you are Canadian and keep up with the news, you have probably that many of us are tired of paying Hydro rates that are much higher than our counterparts in the United States. This is particularly true in Ontario, to the point where the provincial government has taken steps to lower everyone’s bill each month.

That will help people somewhat, but you can take further steps on your own to increase the savings. Here are a few tips on how you can lower your Hydro bill with just a few small changes:

Turn down that air conditioner

Even with today’s more efficient air conditioners, you can really run up your Hydro bill if you leave them on for too long. Try closing the curtains to prevent the sun from coming in and heating up rooms. Also, set the air conditioner to a lower temperature so that it does not run as long.

Try to do things in the evening

Most power companies have a tiered fee system. That means that it can cost more to do certain things at one time in the day than at another. Typically, while the times may vary from area to area, it is cheaper to use electrical power after 7 PM and before 7AM. Try to schedule activities like laundry and running the dishwasher later in the day as it will cost you less.

Unplug things

You may think that just because you are not using something, it is not using power. However, that is not true for all electrical appliances. Things like modern televisions and computers use power even when they are not turned on. Try plugging such things into a power bar that has an on-off switch; switch them off when they are not in use or during periods where you will be away for some time.