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September 2009

September 30, 2009

When Your House "Isn't Done Yet" It's Hard to Relax

I have a confession.  I hardly ever entertain because I'm embarrassed about the state of our house.  Currently there are bare plywood floors, gutted spots, a torn up basement, a semi-finished patio and a porch wall that leaks. 

People might expect me to be more on top of these projects.  Well, I'm not. 

But as long as nobody ever comes over, nobody will ever find out, right?  That's kind of a goofy way to live, though, hiding from the opinions of others.

Okay, second confession:  The state of the house isn't the only reason I'm reluctant to throw dinner parties.  I'm also a nervous hostess.  I get wound up and anxious and I'm SO not a cook.  Our kitchen equipment is also outdated (we have a 20-year-old blender that sounds like a WWI bi-plane) and since we eloped we don't have wedding registry finery that a good hostess would use to snazz up a dining room for guests.

So I was kind of over-eager to get some tips from decorating and design maven Vicky Sanderson, who was on site at the home of Mark Quinn and Shona Livingstone, where I was shooting a Gladiator garage makeover for CHCH Morning.  Vicky was also on the show with fall tips for entertaining so I took advantage of her knowledge and helpful advice. 

You'll get some idea of how vast my ignorance is, but you'll also see how to solve some entertainment conundrums.  My favourite thing: the rockin' slow cooker from Hamilton Beach.

September 22, 2009

Is Your Garage a Pristine Den - or a Pit of Shame?

Fifty percent of Canadians can't park in their over-stuffed garages.  Our $30,000 cars are oxidizing year-round in the driveway while excess and even unwanted belongings pile up in the garage.

For an investment of about 10% of the value of your automobile, you can handle your garage clutter, create massive vertical storage, and create a useable, drop-dead-gorgeous space.  (see 'before' shot below!)

Burlington homeowners Mark Quinn and Shona Livingstone agreed to let us perform a 2-day makeover on their garage.  We sent Mark away to watch football so Shona and I could surprise him with a new Man Cave.  We had a blast.  The only tools we needed were a screwdriver, cordless drill, a level and an electronic stud finder. 


Here's our BIG REVEAL on CHCH TV this morning as Mark explores his gorgeous new garage. All components courtesy of the folks at Gladiator Garage Works. (available at Lowe's and in Sears catalog).


CHCH crew Lori and Nick do a promo from the garage before we bring Mark in


Mark blindfolded a few minutes before we introduced him to his dazzling new garage.


Shona and I assembling the cabinets the day before - really easy to follow printed instructions.


We decided to give the walls a fresh coat before we installed the Gladiator components.  (So glad we took the time.  Leaving the walls gnarly would have shamed all those shiny new Gladiator cabinets, panels and track.) 


By the way, Shona had never used power tools or hand tools prior to the installation.

Garage in need of makeover

This is how the garage looked before we started. 

Total cost of makeover:  About $3200 and 16 hours of time.  SO worth it.

September 15, 2009

Is $14 Worth It to Save Your Marriage? Okay, How About $9?

It's not the curlers that have made my quickie elopement endure for 20 years (so far).  But if you want to get a laugh from the drive-through attendant, this look always works. 

I'm just getting ready to hit the road for my presentation at the Calgary Home Show.  It's going to be SO FUN, and if you're married to someone who snores, it might even save your marriage.  Tickets to the home show are $14.

Here's what I'm planning to reveal at the show...

  1. The strange freakish things growing in my basement carpet that made me realize I had a problem
  2. How I cured the infestation for under $10
  3. How to have a cool, quiet bedroom (no snoring) even on hot nights
  4. Why a peri-menopausal woman can put her husband in a clinic
  5. How to prevent or alleviate asthma AND skin problems like eczema in one day
  6. How to get rid of a gross little creature in your bedding that 70% of us are allergic to

The show is monstrously good this year with  fantastic companies and product suppliers giving away free samples and educating you about how to improve your dwelling.

Plus, my friend Nancy is launching her kickin' contractor-referral site, HomeStars.com, in Calgary this weekend, so she'll be at the home show awarding $5 Starbucks gift cards to anyone who gives a report (good or bad) on a recent experience they've had with a Calgary contractor or supplier.  And HomeStars can get you $5 off the cost of your show ticket too.

I'll be hanging out at the HomeStars booth in my spare time so come on over and say 'hi'. 

Check out the schedule for the Design Stage, including Bryan Baeumler and Karl Lohnes!

Hope to see you there.  I'll wear curlers if you will.

SmartSilk Discount - Use Code 'MAG'!

While I'm in Calgary for the Home Show this week I've been talking to media about my marriage-saving experiences with SmartSilk, the silk-filled bedding that stopped my hot flashes and ended my husband's snoring.  SmartSilk is available online only at SmartSilk.com - Costs about $800 for a Queen-size set (mattress protector, duvet and pillow protectors).  Until October 18 you get 20% off by providing the code MAG when you order! There's a new '3 Easy Payments' option on the SmartSilk web site for people who would like to pay for their new bedding on the installment plan.   SmartSilk comes in 5 sizes, from Crib to King, and is certified as 'asthma friendly' by the Canadian Asthma Society. 

Here's a little more info on the story behind my extreme enthusiasm.

September 14, 2009

End Mold and Mildew Forever

Glove_and_concrobium2_5x7_100_dpi Hi Mag , i have a question for you - i have two washrooms and both of them are full of mold.  every month i clean the walls and ceiling with bleach.   mold comes back again.  what should i do to get rid of it.  my house is about 18 years old. please advise.  thanks.


Hi there,

The product you need is available at the Home Depot in Canada. It’s called Concrobium. It stops mold and mildew and it doesn’t come back.  Ever.  (here's one example from my own home)  Concrobium is formulated from food-grade chemicals so it’s non-toxic. It’s a brand new product and I've used it to kill both the smell and reappearance of mildew in our basement and porch. It rocks.  www.concrobium.com

Here are the instructions for use:

1. Remove heavy soil from the surface to be treated.

2. Thoroughly spray the entire area with Concrobium (or apply with a Concrobium-soaked cloth or roller). . If surface has visible fungal growth or staining, additional scrubbing may be required. Note: Concrobium is safe for us on almost all surfaces, including wallboard, plaster, ceiling tiles, wood, metal, plastic, stone, concrete, tile, fabrics, upholstery. If in doubt, perform a test on a small, inconspicuous section.

3. Wipe off excess wetness.

4. Allow to dry overnight (16-18 hours). Do not rinse. Note: in the event of accidental over-application, a harmless white residue may form on the surface. This can be easily wiped away with a Concrobium-dampened cloth.

Concrobium is available in most hardware stores in the US and Canada.

Do You Know a Good Contractor?

Contractors at Work That's a question I get asked every week.  People who've had bad experiences with contractors feel nervous about hiring again. 

My friend Nancy had a powerfully negative experience 4 years ago with a contractor who under-delivered in oh, so many ways. 

When Nancy found out (too late) that her contractor had botched a string of similar jobs, she turned her frustration into inspiration.

Nancy quit her corporate job and founded HomeStars.com, a contractor review and referral web site.  HomeStars is geo-centric, so people in cities all across North America can review the performances of their own local contractors. 

The Homestars site took off, rocket-fueled by pent-up demand for honest, reliable referrals and contractor reviews.

I love the community of enthusiastic homeowners that has formed around this unique forum.  Contractors (the good ones) love it too, and the not-so-good ones are being held accountable, publicly, for the first time ever.  We the people, baby!

If you've got something you'd like to say - whether it's praise or problems - about a contractor, plumber, decorator, handyman or carpenter that you've hired, or a merchant you've purchased home furnishings from - please join the HomeStars conversation as soon as you can.  The more we talk to each other, the better life becomes.  For all of us.


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie