(Family Features) On a day that signifies the importance of love and companionship, many people find it rewarding to show their loved ones just how much they mean. If you’re in the gift-giving spirit this Valentine’s Day, you may find a bit of inspiration with these ideas.
Just remember, whether you’re celebrating the relationship with your significant other or showing appreciation for a friend, the best gifts come from the heart.
- Food – If your partner is a foodie, a Valentine’s Day date is an obvious choice. Make a reservation at his or her favorite restaurant or opt for takeout and enjoy quiet time together in the comfort of home. Satisfy that special someone’s sweet tooth with a classic box of chocolates or create a personalized candy basket full of guilty pleasures.
- Jewelry – Whether you’ve been together a year, a decade or more, it’s a perfect opportunity to splurge for a gift he or she will cherish for a lifetime. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, watches and more all make for perfect gifts that can often be customized with engravings like names or important dates.
- Experiences – Oftentimes, the gift of moments together means more than a trinket. Consider the things you enjoy doing side by side and schedule a day or weekend to do nothing but your favorite activities. Book a tour at a local museum, find tickets to the next big game, sit frontstage for a favorite band or road trip to a nearby attraction for new sights and sounds.
- Subscriptions – Gifts don’t always need to be sentimental. Sometimes, they can be downright practical. Creating an account for a new streaming service or music platform, signing up for monthly food or wine gift boxes and buying ticket packages for a favorite local team are all gifts that keep on giving.
- Handwritten Notes and Flowers – Take time to write what you appreciate most about your special someone – personality traits, favorite memories, thoughtful gestures and why they’re important to you – and pair your note with favorite flowers. Gifts may spark a smile, but sharing a moment of connection offers a reminder of what you’re celebrating in the first place.
Find more Valentine’s Day gift ideas by visiting eLivingtoday.com.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
6 tips to prepare your home for winter weather
(Family Features) Winter weather, while often beautiful, can prove challenging for homeowners. Snow and ice accumulation can cause damage or disruption to many components of homes and properties, including heating systems and appliances, communication and access to and from property.
Utilizing a reliable, efficient and affordable energy source like propane can help power critical systems – home heating, cooktops, ovens, fireplaces, boilers and water heaters. Because propane is stored on-site, it’s resilient enough to withstand some of the dangers of winter weather, such as power outages that interrupt access to the electric grid. Available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home, propane-powered generators can provide supplemental power in as little as 10 seconds after an electrical grid failure, ensuring vital systems like home heating, cooking and smoke and fire detection systems are not interrupted when you need them the most.
Consider these tips from the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council to help prepare your family and home for winter weather and find more resources at Propane.com.
Get to Know Your Propane System
If you’re unfamiliar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components, including the tank, regulators, meter, piping and supply valves, as well as any appliance vents. Locate the main gas supply valve in case you need to turn off the propane in the event of an emergency. Call a propane professional to inspect the system before restoring it.
Ensure an Adequate Supply of Propane
Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane provider – particularly during the winter months – or call to schedule a delivery when the tank gauge reads 30% to give your provider enough time to make a delivery and ensure you have an adequate supply in your tank.
Mark Your Tank
Especially if your home’s propane tank is buried, be sure to mark its location with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. This will help propane suppliers easily locate your tank, ensuring they can refill it during scheduled appointments.
Ready Your Furnace
If it’s time to upgrade your home’s climate control system, it’s a smart idea to do your homework and explore all options. Consider propane-powered furnaces, which last 50% longer than electric heat pumps for a lower lifetime investment. Propane furnaces also provide warmer air than other heat sources (115-125 F), are less impacted by outdoor temperatures and produce 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% less than fuel oil furnaces.
Take Advantage of Your Fireplace
The warm glow of a fire isn’t only comforting; it can be a practical and effective way to increase the heat inside your home. Not only do propane fireplaces offer 5-6 times the heating capacity of electric fireplaces, they’re also more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, convenient to use and easier to install than woodburning models. They also emit less soot and other emissions.
Install Gas and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can provide you and your family with additional peace of mind. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location and maintenance.
Propane Education & Research Council
Efficient ways to warm your home
(Family Features) Creating reliable and efficient heat for your home during the winter months may be easier than you think. Using propane appliances like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and kitchen appliances alongside other energy sources, like electricity, can help reduce the strain on the electrical grid.
With the capability to power all major systems in a home, propane offers homeowners an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient energy source. It’s a clean, low-carbon option that is made in the United States and available right now.
Consider these energy-efficient, propane-powered appliances and their benefits compared to other energy sources, according to the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council.
Not only are propane-powered furnaces more efficient than other energy sources, but they can also provide a lot of comfort. They heat air to 115-125 F, making the indoor air feel consistently warmer than other options. Heat from air source heat pumps often supply temperatures lower than 100 F and are more affected by outdoor temperatures.
A propane-powered furnace has a 50% longer lifespan than an electric heat pump, reducing its overall lifetime costs to a homeowner. Energy Star-qualified propane furnaces can save up to $75 in energy costs each year and are 15% more efficient than standard propane models. In addition, propane-powered residential furnaces emit up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fuel oil furnaces.
A propane-powered fireplace is a great source for secondary heat and can be used in all climates. They provide 5-6 times the heating capacity of an electric fireplace and emit less soot and other air-polluting emissions than wood-burning fireplaces.
In fact, some parts of the U.S. have banned wood-burning fireplaces due to their negative effects on the environment. What’s more, traditional wood fireplaces are about 15% efficient as secondary sources of heat while high-efficiency propane fireplaces are up to 90% efficient.
Many homeowners appreciate the versatility of propane boilers, which offer high-level performance and space savings while also providing heat, hot water and even snow melt capabilities. This versatility also extends to the type of heating delivery system propane boilers serve, including hydronic baseboard systems, in-floor hydronic systems or even forced-air systems, in which hot water from the boiler (instead of a furnace) acts as the heat source.
Propane boilers have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, but many boilers can last longer if serviced and maintained properly. Thus, the initial investment can provide long-term value beyond other heating alternatives. High-efficiency propane boilers also result in significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions compared with those fueled by heating oil.
Learn more about how you can rely on propane to heat your home at Propane.com/ForMyHome.
Dog grooming advice to keep pets clean, healthy
(Family Features) Regular grooming can keep your dog looking and smelling his or her best, but it’s also important for maintaining health. If you choose to groom at home rather than opting for (often expensive) professional care, it’s also an opportunity to examine your pet for potential concerns.
A proper grooming routine starts with the right tools. Consider these suggestions from The Humane Society of the United States:
- Dog-friendly nail clippers
- Rubber-bristled brush
- Dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner
- Cotton balls
- Blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guides
- Microfiber towel
When your dog’s nails nearly touch the ground, it’s time for a trim, typically every 3-4 weeks. Trimming the part of the nail that turns down helps prevent pain and damage to paws.
If your dog has white nails, avoid cutting the “quick,” the pink part that’s visible on white nails, which bleeds when cut. For dark nails, simply trim a bit at a time until evidence of the quick is visible.
Bathing and Brushing
Frequency for baths and brushing depends on your dog’s coat type – be sure to research optimal grooming schedules based on his or her breed. In general, The Humane Society of the United States recommends these guidelines:
- Short, smooth or wiry coat: Brush once a week with a rubber-bristled brush.
- Long, silky or curly coat: Brush once a day with a rubber-bristled brush or wire slicker brush. Use a steel comb to prevent tangles or mats, if necessary.
- Double coat: Use an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool to gently de-shed once a week in addition to regular brushing routines.
When it’s bath time, use a shampoo formulated for dogs and a damp cloth or cotton ball to clean around the eyes and ears without pushing anything into the eyes or ears. Dry with a microfiber towel or hair dryer on a low setting.
Be careful and work slowly to avoid mistakes and keep your dog calm and comfortable. Brush, bathe and completely dry prior to cutting fur with blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guide combs. Specifically trim hair covering the eyes and private areas and between your pup’s paw pads. It may be helpful to watch a tutorial online to ensure success.
You can prevent gum disease and plaque buildup by brushing your dog’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Make sure your pet is comfortable and start slow, staying on the outside surfaces of teeth and gently rubbing back and forth. Focus on the area where the tooth surface meets the gum.
Visit eLivingtoday.com to find more pet health advice.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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