Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quilling Project Finished!

It's DONE!!!  I am so glad to have one of my Cultural Arts entries finished:o) Remember the other day when  I gave you a sneak peek and asked you to guess what I was making? One of you smarty-pants, and I'm not naming names;o) said it was a Smurf....well I would have to agree that it is the same color scheme as the Smurfs.....but, um,'s not a Smurf:o)
Would you have ever guessed that this Smurf-looking thing,
would have been this?
Definitely NOT Smurfette;o) On the way home from Orlando I decided that S.R. needed a quilled Cinderella...don't ask why:o)
 Anywhoodles, I used this picture of Cinderella as my guide.

Me likey:o) And so does S.R.!!

Now I need to get it framed so that it doesn't come apart. Poor S.R. won't see this again until Christmas morning.
Participating in:

The Stuff of Success

Design Dazzle

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap   up           party!

This has been featured at:


The Stuff of Success

kimbo's crafts

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Travel Pillow

I hope you all had a great weekend. Things around here are slightly less than crazy but truly bordering insanity;o) I have been busy with projects and being a homemaker:o) My best bud from high school sent me some pics the other day of a quick travel pillow idea she whipped up for her son. They had a long road trip ahead of them, so she needed something to keep her little man busy. 
She hot glued a clipboard to a travel pillow.
Super simple!
 I love that it opens up. Perfect for storing writing utensils and extra paper.
 Nift-o nifty, eh?
She really needs to start her own crafty blog! She always has clever ideas...maybe we can talk her into it;o)
I hope to share a Batman Cape table runner with you guys within the next day or two. I just need to take the time to make pictures:o)
Happy Tuesday...what's left of it;o)

THE CMHC is getting more flack

It is becoming a daily occurrence for someone in the media, or an academic to attack the CMHC for either helping ignite the RE bubble in Canada or for building up a good head of risk for which we are all responsible.

The latest were this and this.

This was the first detailed set of results the CMHC has published and showed declining activity thanks to Flaherty's changes. Here is a snippet:

According to the CMHC, these numbers show it’s doing a good job of maintaining a healthy, sustainable housing market.

But Finn Poschmann, vice president of research at the C.D. Howe Institute, is skeptical. “The size of the drop in refinancing is surprising to the point of shocking,” Mr. Poschmann said in an email. “You could hardly have better evidence of the extent to which CMHC practices have been supporting high debt and risky borrowing by homeowners.”

A frequent critic of the organization, Mr. Poschmann argues that CMHC practices have helped inflate housing prices and encourage consumers to take on more debt than they can handle.

It's obvious isn't it- if you help people buy more than they can afford you will be pumping an already over-heated RE market. Of course the CMHC has tried to defend it's actions. All organizations want to feel that they are doing good, and want to expand and grow not be kept in check.

I can see how in it's early days the CMHC may have had a role. Prices were low, interest rates were high and folks had trouble getting loans. They were there to insure the riskiest of loans.

Yes it would have been better to leave it to private insurers, but we cannot fault it too much. RE was slowly rising and CMHC helped people get into positions to build equity. Most importantly it was small:

I won't dwell on the fact that CMHC ended up insuring rental and investment properties which is well beyond and goes aginst it's apparent mandate- to help Canadians own a home.

Now fast forward to today. We are sitting at very high RE values. we have easy lending standards with banks and mortgage brokers falling over themselves to lend and lastly we have the lowest interest rates in memory.

This would be the worst, most riskiest time to insure high-leverage mortgages. Not only that, but by adding further marginal buyers to this over-heated RE pile, they are making it even more difficult for the next generation of buyers to get into the market. Soon everyone needs CMHC insurance to get onto the first step.

A self-reinforcing loop.

Meanwhile the CMHC has bloated up since the above graph to a mega-monster! Over $500 Billion of coverage, $45 Billion of which have 10% or less equity and if we correct, as we surely, eventually, WILL- the Canadian tax payer will be on the hook and Government spending will be severely affected to pay for this.

As the Globe and Mail said:

The banks won’t lose. Only Ottawa will. It’s too late to do anything about those insurance policies now—we’re on the hook. But it’s not too late for Mr. Flaherty to show up at the CMHC board with a new set of orders: Shrink it.

Of course the Conservatives, despite having no love for the CMHC, panicked and doubled the size of it when the 2008 crisis hit. So they have to shoulder a big part of the blame.

I have always said - Government should strive to provide it's citizens with affordable housing. It should not place risk on future generations to allow everyone to own a home. In fact, by trying to do so, it may be making housing much less affordable for renters AND buyers.

Please vote in the poll folks...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moving over to the dark side...

The perceptive ones may have noticed that ads have suddenly appeared on the blog. It's true, I have decided, after years of pumping this blog out to hit it rich and retire.

In fact it may only be temporary. I was tired of getting the e-mails and pop-ups saying the blog was busy enough to warrant throwing ads up.

OK, so I did it and I will tell you all how many Millions it brings in.

Maybe I can spend a bit more time on the blog.

In fact I am going to change a few things:

1) I have added a few more links to sites I like - they either deal with local RE or investing topics. I want this to be a hub for all good info. If you think I should add another one, please say so.

2) I want to put up more frequent posts, as I think things are getting interesting We are at the cross-road. Inventory levels are high and Econ 101 would suggest that either the inventory will come off like 2010 or prices will fall like 2008. I am going to put up MOI for various areas inside and outside on Vancouver to monitor this.

3) Our first test will be August SFH average prices. I put up another poll to see if we are any more accurate in our guesstimates. We were truly off the mark for July. Here's the result of that poll:

17% Up Marginally
2% Up and Away
34% Down a Tad
40% Flat
7% Down the bowl (ie over 3%)
And the correct answer is Down the Bowl. Down 6.5% from June and 8% from the highs.

That huge drop was just brushed away by the RE bulls as an aberration. Who can blame them after the huge run up. However it will be harder to dismiss another big drop for this month.

BTW- anyone who has not read this excellent article on the drug trade and the housing market- I suggest you give it ten minutes.

The drug and organized crime industries are so big in the Province (17,000 Grow ops!!), it is no wonder that no-one wants to tackle them head-on, in case they bring on a major recession.

It reminds me of Florida a decade or two ago, when the Federal government wanted to stem the huge narco-money that was flowing into the State (also into RE- though mostly developments and shopping malls), the Governor asked if they could go slow to mitigate the economic impact.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I am back

Back form the Sunshine Coast where waterfront prices are apparently down 16% from last year. The few sales are from Albertans who have a few more bucks and are getting ready for retirement or Vancouverites who have hit the jack-pot and sold out to the HAM.

Ferry fees are one factor $100 bucks for a midweek run back and forth with a couple of kids, add in gas and ferry food and all the other goodies and that week-end getaway is MUCH cheaper to rent than own. AND who is going to look after it while you are busy earning the dough to run it? What happens when pipes freeze in winter, or a big branch comes through the roof in a windy storm or the septic tank backs up from a tree root.

Then there is the wait at the ferry terminal..and did I mention the cost. No wonder ferry ridership has collapsed.

Looks like the ferry corp will be pulling out of sponsoring the Canucks. Why would a Public Ferry corp sponsor a very profitable professional sport's team? Why would they have a luxury box to entertain guests? What guests? probably the same reason they pay the CEO over a Mill.

If they are trying to support the community, how about supporting 1000 Peewee teams instead?

Back to the SSC. The sellers there are pretty much under-water if they bought after 2006 from what I could tell. They are fighting hard to keep the prices up, even though demand has dried up. The price adjustments follow the market down, though I did see one sale for $1M on an $1.4 M asking. Nice one buyer!

Back to this town. Inventory is up. Up to October 2010 levels. Now it gets interesting. Where do we go from here. Sellers last year pulled their listings and then in the New Year we had the HAM invasion and optimism about the economy -remember the bank economists were still saying the Bank of Canada would raise rates this summer (which shows you how little use that field of 'science' really is)

Now our dynamic is slightly different. There is talk of a double dip. The B of C is running scared and the stock market has taken a nasty little tumble. Of course there is still HAM money and gold mining executives are sitting on some big bonuses, so there will always be money flowing. Heck, even in the US where they have a critical recession with 10+% unemployed, someone found a few bucks under the cushions to buy a $16 Million Lamborghini - and no he didn't work for BC Ferries.

What I am Working on...

Can you tell what this is?
 Or what it will be?
I am trying my hand at quilling. I have been working on my entries for the Homemakers' Cultural Arts Fair scheduled for the end of September. Qulling is one of the categories. 
On our way back from FL, I decided I would make S.R. a picture using the art of quilling. It is very time consuming, but it makes beautiful art....let's hope that my first attempt looks like what I want it to;o)
Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Free-To-Me Crafts: Basket Weave Hair Bow Holder

The other day I saw the cutest tutorial on how to make a hair bow holder using ribbon and a picture frame. I thought that I had bookmarked it, but apparently not. I can't seem to find it anywhere. It was so cute!!
So I definitely cannot take credit for this idea...if any of you know who created it, let me know so I can do a link back, please!
Anyway, we were having an issue with S.R.'s hair bow holder. We were running out of room.

Here is what I made for her to fix the problem.

This project was of no cost to me. I had all of the materials on hand. A friend of mine gave me this picture frame a few months back. I am slowly becoming the person who everyone wants to give their junk to, and I secretly LOVE it!!! Hubs...not so much;o)
Any-whoodles, she was a sad little frame:o( 

She needed some love, so I painted her with Krylon's Premium Silver Foil Metallic Spray Paint. It was the only full bottle of spray paint I had:o) I have a ton of ribbon my mother gave me, so I used coordinating ribbons and created a basket weave pattern and hot glued the ends just inside the lip of the frame where the glass usually rests.

This project took me 30 minutes to complete after painting, and was FREE! You really can't beat that:o)
Now we have more room for new hair bows!!

Participating in:

Domestically Speaking

Monday, August 22, 2011


A very fine Canadian is dead, at the age of 61. A tragic loss for us all.

Jack was a fighter and a truly courageous man.

He took all the attack the right wing media could throw at him from the smear campaigns about his ethics to calling him Taliban Jack.

They did their worst and he still fought back with grace.

BTW- if you want to see how shamefully biased to the right our media is have a look here.

We have lost a GREAT Canadian.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mommy Chore Chart

I have some new things to share with you all this week, but no pictures yet, so stay tuned to see what I have going on.
I have a presentation for Homemaker's Club on Tuesday...25 Ways to be a Cheaper Housekeeper. Sounds exciting, huh?  Anyway, I like to have a little something to give to everyone to take home. I decided that I would make chore charts as hand outs for the girls. Most of them are grandmothers at this point, but I knew that a lot of you guys were still just mommies, so I made two different versions.
This is just a little way to break up the everyday cleaning that we do as keepers of our home. I know that I usually try to do everything in one day, and then I become crabby from pure exhaustion.
This is a tool to make things a little easier on us all.....who doesn't want that:o)
If you will notice, I gave you "The Lord's Day" off;o)
Click on the links below, to download your chore chart.

Hopefully this can ease the frustration of cleaning house! 

I am off for a week...couple of things

I was cycling past 3 Harbour Green, a new ultra chic development, starting at $5 Million.
The ads on the building mention a 'communal Ferrari' (not sure if you can see read it in the picture). It is actually on the front and back of the building.

Just wondering, what happens if two suites owners want to use it on the same night?

How much is a Ferrari in any case? Enquiring minds need to know.

BTW- As we head into the last part of August. Anyone want to guess what happens to the SFH Average price for August. I won't put up a poll, just put your guesstimate below in the comments.

Last time we had a major correction in our real estate, it took a worldwide credit crunch. It looks like we are heading into another one now, will it have the same effect?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Coupon Deals at Publix

I headed out to Publix this morning after dropping my sweets off at school to score some deals.
I have been couponing for about 6 months now, and it has cut my grocery bill in half. It is so much work, but it has really helped out
These are my items I purchased:
2 packs of Chinet Napkins
2 Boxes of Uncle Ben's Rice
2 packs of Knorr Pasta Sides
4 packs of Seattle's Best coffee....this is the hubs favorite!!
1 Box of cake mix...for E's b-day party coming up in 4 weeks!
1 tub of icing
3 containers of Resolve Spray and Wash
 And this was my total:
I was pretty stoked:o) I am not an extreme couponer, or the total would have been 63 cents:o) Those people have a sickness!!
Anyway, I attend church with a girl who has her own coupon website. It's called 

She is always posting great deals, whether it be grocery stores or online sites. You should definitely swing by her way and check out what deals are going on. You can also sign up for emails which is a great way to stay up to date on sales. If you are a facebooker, show her some love & LIKE The Coupon Centsation Fan Page.
Have a great Wednesday...I am headed to the bonus room to de-clutter and take a bunch of toys to the local thrift store.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Post- Back Pack Buddies

Today we have guest poster, Deanna, from Just Deanna.
She is a mother of 4, and is always up to something crafty. Deanna is sharing with us how to make some cute backpack buddies.
Take it away Deanna!

Hello!  I am Deanna of Just Deanna.
A little blog with sewing and crafting tutorials and lots of other miscellany. 
Glad to be here visiting Crystal's great blog.  :)
This summer I hosted a little craft club for my kids and their friends. 
At our last one, for a fun back to school project, we made these fun backpack buddies with shrinky dink paper.
They are super simple to make and the kids seem to really love them. 
You can use them as a key chain as well.

Supplies we used:
frosted shrinky dink paper,
colored pencils,
and a hole punch.
For this project I printed up a bunch of fun characters and other shapes for them to use. 
They traced around the picture and colored in with colored pencils.
You should color on the rough side of the paper.
You'll want the picture to be about the size of half a sheet of shrinky dink paper.
  If little ones struggle with the paper shifting over their picture, just tape it down on the sides.
White pencil will show up once they are baked.
Next, cut around the picture leaving room around the picture.
 If you cut around skinny parts, they break off easily. 
Finally before baking punch a hole in the top.
Bake according to the directions in the package.
Once cooled, we used large jump rings to attach to the hole and then to a key ring. 
Then we attached them to a zipper on their backpack.
Thanks for letting me guest on your blog, Crystal!  :)

Thanks Deanna, for sharing such a fun back to school craft!
Make sure to show Deanna some love, and check out her great ideas!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vacay Pics....

We have been M.I.A. for a week because we were vacationing in sunny Florida. We decided on a whim that we would drive down at night. That was the QUIETEST trip we have ever taken:o) We arrived around 10 a.m. and hit the beach. The hubs and I were completely zonked, but knew the kids wouldn't be able to wait to see the beach. This was the view from our balcony:
 Not too bad, ehh?
Here are my sweets getting their piggies wet.
 After 3 days on the beach, we headed to Orlando. We did a character dinner with Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Here is S.R. with one of her favorite princesses.
 E was actually very excited about meeting Prince Charming.
 S.R.....not so much:o)
 Step sister #1
 Step Sister #2
 There were kids all around us who had these great looking cupcakes. We found out that they were for birthdays....they felt sorry for our little ones and let them have one to share....E's birthday is in a few weeks, so that's how they justified it:o)

 We spent a day at Universal Studios. Here are the kids sporting their shirts that I made them. We had several ask if they were twins.
This is after lunch all tuckered out. It was soooooo hot that day. The hubs and I haven't sweat that much since we were college athletes:o) Did you spot the fans that I wrapped around the stroller bars? Dollar Tree....they were great for the kids, and the blades were made of foam.
 Now this is funny.....E begged for a magic wand from Harry Potter land. Here he is showing off his new Dumbledore wand.
 Here he is asking if it's okay to wave his new magic wand.
 Here is the look of utter disappointment when he realizes that magic wands aren't real.
 Here is the discussion of how magic is make-believe. 
Thankfully he was completely okay after realizing magic is pretend. He loves his wand and has been "zapping" everything in sight. S.R. got a fluffy unicorn and takes it everywhere she goes.
We had a fantastic trip, but I am glad to be home....the kids start preschool tomorrow. 
What am I going to do with myself?!?!?
Possibly lay in the fetal position in a corner and cry??? I am sure that I will get over it;o)
Any-whoodles, be on the look out for another guest post.
Have a great Monday!!!