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2016 Kia Optima


So you want a smart 3-series BMW or a swell Audi A4, but you cant afford the precious price tag. May I suggest the Kia Optima. Kia has a great designer named Peter Schreyer, who was poached from Audi, just after he shaped the design for the well regarded Audi TT. As chief design officer at Kia, his visionary magic …

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Fall in love with Textures and Prints

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When the palette changes from bright summer hues to autumn neutrals, texture and print come into play to keep your wardrobe interesting. Many years ago, we encountered a fall/winter season in which everything (and I mean everything) was grey.  Clean, smooth fabrics were used with very little texture and if there was texture it was heavy wool tweed.  I will …

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Gardening Shows Return to TV

Kathy Renwald and landscape designer Michael Schmahl shooting a segment of Gardeners Journal in 2002. His garden recreated a tropical paradise. Kathy Renwald photo

In 1991 CHCH-TV gave me the go ahead to produce a half-hour gardening program called Gardener’s Journal. It started out as low budget. I had one day off from news reporting, shot the show, edited it that night and it was on the air two days later on Saturday mornings.  There were no hair, makeup or wardrobe expenses, and I …

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Volvo V60 Cross Country

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Before the spread of SUV’s, people got along just fine hauling all their daily needs in the trunk of a sedan, and their family members in the back seats. For people with big projects, or the hunter-gatherer spirit, a station wagon added more versatile space. Over the years of renovating our house, we moved lumber, drywall, rocks and plants in …

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Micra Meandering on Barton Street

The Nissan Micra parked at the empty Target Store on Barton. It's cheap enough it could have been sold there. Photo by Kathy Renwald

It’s cheap chubby and kind of cute. The base model Nissan Micra is $9,998, once everything is paid to put it your driveway the total is $11,398. That’s a bar tab for some people. The base designation strips the Micra down to a vow-of-poverty level. No air conditioning, no power locks, mirrors are adjusted manually, the car is shifted manually, …

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Top Five Reasons to Choose Ontario Craft Beer


1 Ontario Craft Beer is experiencing a renaissance, taking us back to the day when there was a craft brewery in every community. Today, there are approximately 150 craft breweries in Ontario and with the right retail growth opportunities, the number of jobs in towns with a craft brewery could double or triple. 2 Local craft beer is handcrafted in …

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The Volkswagen Golf is a sensible sized hatchback, and a perfect vehicle for loading up on a plant safari. Here it waits for mulch and triple mix at Kastrau Landscaping and Nursery in Hamilton

If you’re a serious gardener, you need a proper car for plant hunting expeditions. One should always be prepared for an impulsive purchase. A car must be able to welcome a fruit tree, a bale of straw, a bushel of manure or a waterlily slopping around in soggy soil. Almost every car I test drive for review has hauled a …

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The Many Benefits of Condo Living


Is Condo Living Right For You? If you frequent condominium open houses you’re sure to have noticed how diverse the market for condos truly is.  There are first time buyers looking to get into the market, investors snapping up rental properties and, of course, baby boomers wanting to downsize their space and responsibilities. Condos can be low-rise buildings, townhouses, freestanding …

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Condos by the Bay


Condos and cars it’s all about selling lifestyle. I test drive a lot of cars and you feel different when you drive a Jaguar and different again when you drive a Juke. A Jaguar, a big Benz or a Porsche makes you feel special and pampered and maybe a bit obnoxious. Drive a Juke or a Chevy Trax and it’s …

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Picking Up on Heritage


Parking the new Chevy Colorado pickup truck in front of the elegant Balfour House on Hamilton’s mountain brow is a shocking bit of grunge and glam. The $37,565 Colorado is my Bay Observer test-drive for May. I’m piloting it up the James Street hill to this secret stone house full of Hamilton history. The rather affordable Colorado is a sharp …

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