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Helpful tips of the month from BMO

Start preparing a safety net for unexpected expenses.

Life happens.

Your washing machine breaks. You have a leaky roof. You lose your job. Your child gets sick.

No matter how well you plan, you simply can’t predict if and when unexpected expenses are going to arise — and inevitably they will. Your pay cheque may only go so far towards covering costs, and you’ll want to avoid going into debt or dipping into your retirement or long-term savings.

So what can you do to prepare?

Start saving now.
Open a separate savings account for emergencies, and get into the habit of depositing a weekly or monthly amount, even if it’s just $10 or $15. That may mean one less meal out, but it will add up over time. A great way to get started is to set up automatic savings. Once you’re in the habit of automatically setting money aside each month and adjusting your spending habits, you can gradually increase the amount. Continue reading

The art of decorating with books

There is the library as a room in itself. There are bookshelves used as practical or prestigious furniture. And there are books which are more than a simply decorative accessory. Organized with taste, they can astonish visitors, regardless of the room.

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iStockphoto

Books adapt to all styles, from the rural to the contemporary, not to forget lounge. They can also generate the desired decorative virtue: classical elegance, warmth and intimacy, whimsical, disorder and anarchy. The role of the book in decoration is underestimated.

Books fit with all materials: glass, wood, bamboo, vinyl, marble. Mobile, they can be placed anywhere or permanently: At the end of a table, on a couch, on a fireplace mantel, on a night table, near the bath and even on the floor if you stack them into a column. Continue reading

Yes, they are libraries

The closest one to us is the John P. Robarts Research Library, on the campus of the University of Toronto. It has been given a fitting nickname: the Fort Book.

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Toronto University John P. Robarts Research Library. Photo: iStockphoto

The massive tower that rises in front of the main façade looks a lot like a pillar of defence. The use of concrete as the primary material enhances the effect of mass. The building has been used as a stand-in in movies for a prison, a zombie-infested space and a crossing point for extraterrestrials.

A caveat however: You will notice the numerous vertical lines that draw the eyes upward. Since the windows are also vertical, a Wikipedia article refers to the building as if it “transported the scholars anxious to escape the noise and turmoil of the vulgar press into a dream palace enshrining its holy mysteries.”

Continuing with the strange and mysterious, have you read Umberto Eco’s In the Name of the Rose? He wrote a good part of this classic detective story in this library. According to Wikipedia, he used the library as inspiration to describe the secret library in his novel. Continue reading

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Let the light in!

Glass bricks in a wall enhance the luminosity. Here is an example of the steps to follow (list of material at the end).

  1. Check for wires and pipes. Use an electrical wire detector. If not, drill a small hole, which is easy to fill.
  1. Is there a load bearing wall? If so, only use the space between the studs.

Measure the space to be freed up taking into account the space between the studs, the shape of the bricks, the surrounding frame and the mortar.

Space between the studs:

12’’ for old buildings

16’’ for the next generation

24’’ is becoming increasingly popular today

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iStockphoto

Standard format of glass brick:

8x8x3, 8x8x4, 6x6x3, 6x8x3 or 4x8x3

Example of dimensions to consider to transform an interior wall

  • Available space: 16’’x16’’
  • Wall: 4’’ thick
  • Two rows of de two 6x6x3 bricks
  • Mortar: ¼’’ around the bricks
  • Frame: ¼’’ plywood

Continue reading