Good Reads

How to win 'Best Awards Show Party' this year

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(BPT) - Crazy about the movies? Love inviting friends over to watch the awards shows every year? Or maybe thinking about throwing an awards-watching party for the first time? Thrill your friends with a party worthy of the stars, with a focus on fun.

You can win "best producer" for throwing an unforgettable party for your friends, using some of these tips.

Dress the part

Get out your best outfit and encourage all your guests to glam it up for the big night, too. For those who don’t have formal wear and aren’t inclined to rent, you could suggest they dress up as one of their favorite movie characters instead.

Make it sparkle

Look for glittery gold and silver decorations, tableware and party props for your soiree. Otherwise keep the color palette for your party decorations simple and elegant, like black and white with red accents.

Usher them in with style

Consider renting a red carpet for your porch or foyer or create a “walk of stars” on the floor — cut out stars from gold craft paper and write your guests’ names on each one. Place them along the floor of your front hall or entrance.

Treat them like VIPs

Awards shows are long, so make sure you have plenty of food to keep your guests happy! You don’t need a sit-down meal, but if you like to cook, conjure up some fancy hors d’oeuvres to share. Or you can create a large charcuterie board for your guests to sample a variety of meats and cheeses, sliced bread or crackers and colorful olives and veggies. Follow up with snacks like movie-theater type popcorn and candy.

Limited space? Create a “canape cart” to present your snacks for an extra elegant touch.

Pour the champagne of the stars

Nothing says “awards night” like a great bottle of bubbly. Drink what the stars enjoy by pouring Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut, the sole champagne of Hollywood's most famous red carpet event for the last six years. At this year’s awards it'll be served in a limited-edition magnum offering a special tribute to cinema in the Roaring Twenties: a replica of their label from the Prohibition era, which began 100 years ago.

Piper-Heidsieck has long been connected with the movies. In 1933, one of their bottles made its film debut in Laurel and Hardy's "Sons of the Desert." And in 1964, the champagne celebrated Rex Harrison's award for "My Fair Lady" with a tailor-made 48-liter bottle that was as tall as the 5-foot-10 actor himself. Learn more about the rich cinematic history of this unique champagne at Piper-Heidsieck.com.

That's entertainment

Make the night memorable by turning it into an extra-special event, especially during breaks or when the action slows down.

  • Set up a “red carpet” selfie spot with a special backdrop curtain where guests can pose and post pics on social media.
  • Create games like awards show bingo, with squares for things like when a winner thanks their agent or a presenter flubs a name.
  • Provide ballots for everyone to vote for the winners, giving fun prizes for winners — including “fewest correct predictions.”
  • Invite guests to offer their best (or worst!) movie star impressions and guess who they're impersonating.
  • Play "name that film" using movie soundtrack music.

Thank them for the memories

Give your guests "swag bags" as they're leaving, complete with treats, a movie-themed game, DVD or other fun mementos — like their star from your "walk of fame" or a snap of their best selfie pose. They're bound to ask you for an invite to the next awards show party!

How physical therapy can help you manage pain

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(BPT) - Movement is crucial to a person’s health, quality of life and independence. For some people, pain makes movement a challenge. Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek health care. A physical therapist can help people move better and safely manage their pain.

Who are physical therapists?

PTs are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and patient education. They treat people of all ages and abilities and empower them to actively take part in their own care.

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work with patients under the direction of a PT and teach and demonstrate exercises that help improve mobility, strength and coordination.

To ensure the best possible care, physical therapists often work with other members of a patient's health care team. After performing an evaluation, they create personalized plans of care that can help you:

  • Improve mobility and function
  • Manage pain and chronic conditions
  • Avoid surgery
  • Reduce the use of opioids and other prescription drugs
  • Recover from injury
  • Prevent future injury and chronic disease

Here are three tips to manage pain:

Tip 1: Work with your PT to understand your pain. They offer valuable patient education, including setting realistic expectations for recovery with or without opioids. This allows you to take a proactive approach to pain management.

Tip 2: Keep moving. An active lifestyle that is appropriate for your condition can help manage symptoms and decrease or eliminate pain. The body was built to move and doing so regularly can help improve quality of life. PTs prescribe exercise specific to your condition, needs and goals.

Tip 3: If you experience an injury or develop the onset of pain, seeing a PT early on can help address and manage your symptoms.

When and where do you see a physical therapist?

Pain management is just one reason to work with a PT. They can also help you prevent future injury or chronic conditions. You do not need a physician’s referral to make an appointment with a PT for an evaluation.

PTs can specialize in a variety of areas, including geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports and women's health. They provide treatments in:

  • Hospitals, outpatient clinics or offices
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Skilled nursing, extended care or subacute facilities
  • Schools, education or research centers
  • Fitness centers and sports training facilities
  • Hospice settings
  • Your workplace
  • Your home

How can you take the next step?

For more information and to find a PT near you, visit ChoosePT.com.

Top indoor fitness trends to stay in shape this winter

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(BPT) - Avoiding weather woes this winter? It doesn't mean you need to give up on your fitness goals. Being indoors provides ample opportunity to stay fit, whether you're doing so due to the weather or simply by choice. Check out some of the top trends for indoor fitness in 2020 and challenge yourself to try something new to make yourself happier and healthier.

Indoor simulators

Missing the greens? If you like to golf, consider heading to an indoor golf simulator that lets you practice your swing without having to pay greens fees or worry about weather. But that's not all indoor simulation can do for fun and fitness lovers. For example, people of all ages and skill levels enjoy playing simulation games at Kohler Swing Studio & Golf Shop. The Topgolf Swing Suite experience boasts a variety of virtual games including the Topgolf target game, Zombie Dodgeball, Hockey Shots, Baseball Pitching Carnival Classic and more.

Customized classes

Indoor fitness classes are always a good idea for getting exercise despite the weather, but today's offerings have evolved so that there's something for everyone, no matter your interest or fitness level. Crave upbeat and energetic? Cycling classes challenge you to keep the pace in a supportive group setting, such as the ones offered at Bold Cycle. Prefer a peaceful way to find your fitness and inner Zen? Explore yoga in a variety of different settings, such as the classes offered at Yoga on the Lake.

Technology-enhanced fitness

Technology-connected exercise machines are trending in 2020, offering people the ability to take live classes at any time from the comfort of their home. For a more affordable option, people are finding their favorite fitness channels online and accessing classes at home. From yoga and dance to circuit training and more, you'll find plentiful options on the internet. Finally, wearable fitness continues to evolve, offering people keen insight into their wellness no matter what indoor fitness activity you choose.

Wellness-focused travel

Indoor fitness opportunities are flourishing at resorts across the country, meaning you don't need to travel to a warm climate for an incredible wellness retreat. As a guest of The American Club Carriage House at Destination Kohler, you’ll revel in wellness choices any time of year thanks to the Unlimited Wellness program for Carriage House Guests. From complimentary access to yoga, indoor cycling and fitness to cold-pressed juices and Wellness Concierges, you'll enjoy every minute, mind, body and soul.

Group and family fitness

Adopting a fitness lifestyle is more than just an individual endeavor. In 2020 look for more partners and families to participate in indoor fitness activities together. Whether it's taking a multigenerational class or helping each other work out at home, family fitness is a wonderful way to bond, get healthy and keep everyone accountable. Sign up for that intro class as a couple, make a weekend date for the entire family to exercise together at home or try a fitness vacation together over the next break from school.

Indoor fitness is poised to flourish throughout 2020. Consider taking advantage of these top trends and you'll enjoying getting active and increasing your wellness.

Pop Quiz: Name the Six Types of K-12 Schools

(NewsUSA) - Six is a memorable number - It's the number of players on a volleyball team, geese a-laying in "The 12 Days of Christmas," and characters in Friends. There are also six main types of K-12 learning environments families can choose from. As we gear up for National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 - Feb. 1), can you name all six types of schools?

You'd almost certainly identify traditional public school, the most common K-12 education choice. More than 85 percent of students attend traditional public schools, which are free to attend. In some states, you can choose traditional public schools outside of your zone or even your district.

Public charter schools are also available to an increasing number of students across the U.S. Available in more than 40 states, these tuition-free public schools are unique because they have extra freedom to innovate.

Have you heard of a public magnet school? These public, district-run schools teach all subjects through the lenses of a particular track or "magnet." For example, the magnet could be health sciences or performance arts.

You've also likely heard of private schools, which charge tuition and offer learning environments that may pass on a particular faith tradition or provide a unique curriculum or focus. There are more scholarship options for private education today than ever before.

There are also full-time, tuition-free online schools in many states. These flexible, technology-based schools offer a blend of online coursework and in-person activities.

Finally, don't forget homeschooling. Families who choose to educate their children in the home can access a broad variety of in-person and web-based resources to support them in their work.

Of course, there aren't just six options. Each type of learning environment overflows with customizable options: No two public schools are exactly alike, just as no two families homeschool quite the same way.

Having these choices makes a world of difference to families, allowing them to look for a school that matches their child's unique interests and skills. During National School Choice Week, we invite families across the country to discover their options - and find learning environments where their children will thrive. You can learn more at schoolchoiceweek.com/mystate/.

 

Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.

Write More Letters to Friends and Family

(StatePoint) In an age of instant messages, video chats and social media, the art of letter writing has become rare. But sitting down to write correspondence by hand can be a much more personal way to connect than some of the modern modes of communication. Not only does it give you ample opportunity to express yourself, it gives your recipient something tangible to hold onto and revisit.

International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo), celebrated in February, is the perfect opportunity to hone your letter-writing skills. This month-long challenge invites you to hand-write and mail or deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day of the month.

If it’s been some time since you last corresponded by snail mail, you may find your letter-writing skills to be a bit rusty. To help you be successful during InCoWriMo and beyond, the experts at Pilot Pen are offering some tips:

1. Make Lasting Connections. Writing and mailing letters daily may feel a bit intimidating, but why should it? Did you text someone today? Did you send an email? If the answer is yes, you’re already halfway there. Put pen to paper instead and add a more personal, analog touch to your daily communication. Reconnect with long distance friends, send happy mail to your parents, or explore the opportunity to encourage a soldier overseas and make a new friend in the process. Whoever you choose to write to this process, it will help create a physical reminder of the connection between you and your recipient.

2. Pick Great Tools. A trusty pen can get you through any deadline, to-do list or thank you note. Wielding this powerful tool will automatically help you feel capable of taking on new challenges. During the month of February, Pilot Pen suggests picking up a pen designed to help you author your best correspondence, as well as overachieve in every aspect of your life. With G2, America’s number one selling, longest-lasting gel ink pen, you’ll be able to glide through all 29 days of handwritten letters, and anything else that comes across your desk, for months to come.

3. Get Inspired. Not sure where to start? Think of each recipient and what makes them special to you. Share favorite memories or accomplishments that make you extra proud of them. Then, share one anecdote or piece of news from your life. In our increasingly digital lives, your unique hand-written sentiments will likely bring a welcome bit of cheer into their day.

4. Get Personal. Remember: the written word is powerful, especially when it’s personal. Give each note a special touch by writing it on monogrammed stationery or a special postcard. You can take this personalization concept one step further by using different pens for each recipient. With four pen point sizes ranging from ultra-fine to bold and more than 25 ink color options, including pastels, and metallics, there’s sure to be a G2 pen suited to your writing style and your recipient’s tastes.

For tools and inspiration, visit powertothepen.com and instagram.com/pilotpenusa.

By rediscovering the art of handwritten correspondence this February, you’ll give yourself 29 meaningful chances to connect with pen pals all over the globe.

*****

Photo Credit: (c) Lindsey Bugbee

6 Tips for Avoiding Emotional Spending

(StatePoint) Decisions about spending money are often driven by emotions, even if what your heart is telling you goes against logic. Emotional financial choices may provide you with short-term happiness, but they are just as likely to result in long-term regret or debt.

Here are six tips for making spending decisions, without allowing your emotions to take over.

• Get an accurate picture of what it costs to maintain your lifestyle and fund your goals. Knowing your fixed and variable expenses and being able to quantify your goals in terms of dollars and timeframes will help you understand what you can afford to spend in the near term.

• Ask yourself if you want something or need something before you buy it. If you do need it, or if it will make a huge difference in your life and you can pay for it right away without touching funds that are earmarked for other important goals, then go for it.

• Pause and think twice before buying large items. When making major purchases (for example, over $500), take some time between deciding to buy and making the actual purchase. Prioritize your expenditures by categorizing them in terms of cost and effect. For example, you should pay your health insurance and car insurance before booking a short-term vacation.

• Make a list before shopping. Whether shopping for groceries, household items or gifts, creating a list -- and sticking to it -- will help you avoid impulse buys and save money.

• Shop for major holidays throughout the year. Set a budget for annual gifts early in the year and take the time to comparison shop to find the best prices and take advantage of discounts when you find them. This not only helps to spread out giving expenses, it also ensures you do not pay a premium for last-minute purchases.  

• Experts say financially savvy people know their emotional triggers for spending, and are able to rein them in when necessary. Unfortunately, this is not easy for everyone. However, working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional to manage your spending can help you stay focused on achieving your long-term financial goals. To find a CFP professional near you who can help you look at your life through a financial lens and avoid the cost of emotionally driven decisions, visit www.letsmakeaplan.org.

Remember that your financial priorities should almost always be focused on your long-term goals. A bit of planning and some outside help can go a long way toward better spending decisions.

Photo Credit: (c) maurusone / iStock via Getty Images Plus

How to find the best tires for winter driving

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(BPT) - Here’s something you may not know: All-season tires are only meant for year-round driving if you live in the extreme southern United States.

Everyone else needs tires that protect them in snow, ice and frigid temperatures. In some places in North America, it’s even a legal requirement. All-season tires are not built to provide traction on winter roads.

If you live in a place that gets consistent snow and ice each winter, there’s nothing safer than a set of premium dedicated winter tires. But what about areas where winter weather is mild or unpredictable? In that case, winter tires might be overkill, especially since they aren’t built for summer roads and thus require drivers to own two sets of tires.

However, one solution saves drivers hassle and money while keeping them protected when temperatures plummet and roads become slick. All-weather tires are made for year-round driving but rated to provide safe driving on winter snow and ice.

What’s the difference between all-weather tires and their winter and all-season alternatives?

All-weather tires combine all-season and winter driving technology to give drivers year-round peace of mind on the road. They’re the most convenient winter driving option, since drivers can keep them on all year long.

All-weather tires handle well in rain and heat, but they’re also marked with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol (also known as the severe service emblem) that certifies they’re suitable for winter use. Notably, this certification makes them legal for use in areas that require winter-rated tires.

Nokian Tyres invented the all-weather tire and is already on its fifth generation of the product. The Scandinavian company encourages their use in areas with unpredictable or milder winter weather.

“We designed all-weather tires to provide safe driving in all conditions, even the worst weather winter has to offer,” said the company’s director of products and pricing, Steve Bourassa. “While dedicated winter tires remain an ideal option for drivers who experience consistently severe winter weather, our all-weather products offer a great combination of safety and convenience for drivers in many North American locales.”

Based in Finland, Nokian Tyres tests its all-weather products north of the Arctic Circle at the same facility where it puts its winter tires to the test. The key to their year-round performance is an asymmetrical tread design: One side of the tire’s tread pattern looks like a winter tire, while the other side has grooves more typical of an all-season product.

Its all-weather products also have a dual performance compound that delivers responsive grip on winter roads without sacrificing spring and summer performance.

It all adds up to a convenient, versatile driving experience that protects winter drivers much more effectively than all-season tires.

To learn more about what makes all-weather tires thrive in year-round driving conditions, visit NokianTires.com/Weather.

4 simple steps to reduce the cost of diabetes medications

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(BPT) - Approximately 30 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many require insulin to manage their condition, but due to rising costs, more and more people are struggling to get the medication they need.

According to a recent survey of diabetes educators who help people living with diabetes, people struggling to afford their medications are rationing and avoiding filling prescriptions due to cost. This is particularly true for those who are uninsured. Previously, the greatest challenge diabetes educators faced in helping patients was related to exercise and healthy lifestyle, as well as frequent glucose testing. Today, those challenges have been eclipsed by affordability concerns.

Nearly two-thirds of educators report that their patients ration their medications through actions like cutting tablets or decreasing their insulin dosage on their own, according to the survey conducted at the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Conference by Inside Rx. Perhaps worse, 57% of educators reported their patients don’t take their medications at all.

Taking diabetes medication as prescribed is important for managing the condition and staying healthy. Complications from not using medication appropriately may lead to kidney damage and the need for expensive dialysis treatments, eye damage and potential blindness, as well as an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.

If you or a loved one is living with diabetes, you are likely familiar with the expense associated with the medications needed to manage the condition. Consider the following tips to reduce your prescription costs:

1) Ask your health care team: Ask your doctor about your options. There may be samples you can have to fill a short-term need, or your doctor may be able to switch you to a different medication that is more affordable.

2) Ask the pharmacist: See what suggestions your pharmacist might have. They may offer insight as well as information about generic alternatives. You can also do some comparison shopping for the best price in your area as some pharmacies may charge less than others for the same medication.

3) Use a free Rx discount card: Inside Rx, for example, offers a card that gives you an average savings of 40% off on brand-name medications, such as insulins, and 80% off generic products. This can help curb costs when purchasing the medications at over 50,000 participating pharmacies or via home delivery through Express Scripts. There's no registration, and you can download the card at insiderx.com.

4) Explore financial aid opportunities: Some pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs for people who qualify to receive discounted or free diabetes medication and supplies. According to the American Diabetes Association, the following three insulin manufacturers offer assistance programs:

  • Lilly Diabetes Solution Center: 833-808-1234
  • Novo Nordisk Diabetes Care: 800-727-6500
  • Sanofi Patient Assistance Program: 888-847-4877

To best manage your diabetes and stay as healthy as possible, medical providers and diabetes educators recommend taking all medications on time as prescribed. If you struggle with the cost of insulin and other diabetes supplies, these tips can help you curb expenses so you can live healthier and stay on budget.

Top 2020 food trends

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(BPT) - A new year always brings predictions about what trends will rise to popularity, and when it comes to food, there are plenty of trends already underway that will no doubt continue to surge over the next several months. The good news is both your taste buds and your health will likely benefit from the latest trends in eating and cooking.

1. A celebration of global flavors

2020 is an exciting time to explore new flavors from around the world.

A rich array of tantalizing ingredients and dishes from Latin America, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia can now be found in restaurants and even grocery stores almost everywhere — and if you can’t find it in store, you can most certainly find what you’re looking for online.

Thanks to the internet, recipes showcasing global cultures are also easy to access. Americans are more interested in expanding their palates than ever before, unveiling a whole new world of culinary experiences at the click of a button.

2. A bumper crop of plant-based foods

A growing concern for environmentally sustainable diets — alongside the piqued interest in a healthy approach to eating — has combined to create an increased demand for plant-based foods.

This trend goes beyond traditional salads and fruit into a world of deeply creative cooking, using a wide array of vegetables in all sorts of innovative ways. This also means incorporating more plant-based protein sources like beans and legumes in dishes, using non-dairy milk substitutes like almond and oat milk, finding meatless protein substitutions and cooking with natural plant-based sweeteners like agave syrup.

3. Customization is all the rage

Noodles & Company is a great example of a fast-casual restaurant that showcases all these 2020 food trends, including allowing customers to make personalized substitutions. You can dine in or conveniently order for pickup or delivery via the NoodlesRewards app. Menu options range from classic favorite Wisconsin Mac & Cheese to new global delights like the Grilled Orange Chicken Lo Mein, available in restaurants nationwide beginning January 22. This worldly dish boasts authentic Asian flavors in a slightly sweet and tangy orange sauce, complemented by traditional Lo Mein noodles sauteed with fresh broccoli, carrots, snap peas, Napa and red cabbage, then finished with grilled chicken, green onions, black sesame seeds and cilantro.

You can even customize any dish on the menu to suit your taste or diet. Eating more plant-based foods in 2020? Swap out Lo Mein for zucchini noodles (Zoodles) or the cauliflower-infused Caulifloodles while packing extra veggies and nutrients into your diet. Going vegan? Simply remove the chicken!

No matter how it’s ordered, there are never any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives, so clean eating in the new year is convenient and easily customizable to any dietary preference or need.

4. Conscious eating

Clean eating means eating foods without additives and artificial ingredients. Today's diners and home cooks demand transparency about ingredients and preparation. People interested in clean eating want to see respect for the ingredients. In other words, they want to be able to recognize everything that's on the plate. They want their food to be less processed, with as few additives as possible — resulting in big, bold natural flavors.

5. Seasonings with added health benefits

Seeking more flavorful food can also provide health benefits. Certain herbs and spices are trending not just due to their unique, strong flavors, but also because they have been shown to boost the body’s immune system, provide anti-inflammatory effects and contain antioxidants. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, cayenne and cinnamon are just some of the latest spices touted as being especially good for you.

Keep up with the latest food trends and check out all the easy ways to make clean eating easy and delicious at more than 450 Noodles & Company restaurants nationwide at noodles.com.

Trust your gut: Get the story on probiotics

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(BPT) - We’re often told when we can’t make a decision, we should trust our gut. And there’s a healthy reason to do so.

Gut health is about more than just healthy digestion. It’s linked to your immunity and overall well-being.

That’s because below your belt lies a sophisticated system of organs powered by a community of beneficial bacteria called the microbiome. Your stomach, pancreas and liver, driven by the mighty microbiome, aids in digestion as it breaks down food, absorbs nutrients and extracts energy that fuels us every day.

Maintaining the right balance of microbes in your gut not only helps digestion, it can be a powerful ally in keeping those New Year wellness resolutions.

Support a healthy gut with these simple tips.

1. Keep moving

Regular exercise can stimulate your digestive, metabolic and immune systems, arming your body with the protection it needs to fight off bad bacteria.

2. Fiber up

Add dietary fiber, complex carbs, and plant proteins to your diet by increasing your intake of whole fruits, vegetables, and grains like oatmeal. These foods deliver nutrients that work naturally with your body to keep your digestive system in balance.

3. Pack a probiotic

Probiotics are composed of helpful bacteria to help support immunity and healthy digestion. We usually think of bacteria as something that can cause disease, but probiotics are the good bacteria that can be very effective in keeping your gut healthy.

Nutrilite™ Balance Within™ Probiotic is a once-a-day foundational supplement. It fills the nutritional gaps in your diet with probiotics you need to support gut health on-the-go.

“With convenient packaging, designed to be quickly sprinkled on the tongue, on cold food or in a cold beverage, this probiotic helps your body maintain a balance of good bacteria in the gut while promoting immunity and aiding your body’s natural defenses,” said Kristin Morris, a senior research scientist with Nutrilite, the world’s #1 selling vitamin, supplement and minerals brand.

4. Do a gut check

How can you be sure your probiotics product is delivering the benefits you need? According to Morris, what matters most is knowing what strains are included in the product and that there’s clinical support for those digestive and immune benefits.

“It’s less about the actual quantity of probiotics than having the right level of probiotics,” she said. “Nutrilite Balance Within Probiotic was designed with the right balance of the right strains at the right levels for digestion and immune health.”

Nutrilite Balance Within Probiotic goes through an extensive traceability process to ensure the product’s safety, purity and effectiveness. Check out Nutrilite’s traceability website to see how the full process works.

Five To-Do’s To Take Your Basement From Unlivable To Lovable

(NAPSI)—Look up “basement” in the dictionary and you’ll see cellar, vault—even crypt. But with a little effort and some design flair you can make your basement come alive—and reclaim valuable living space.

Create the workout room you always wanted. A dramatic home theater. Or a spacious office, playroom or craft area. If you can re-imagine your basement, you can remodel it. Here are hints on how:

1. Make a plan: An accurate floor plan will help you visualize the end result—especially if you’re dividing rooms, adding a pool table, a large sectional or a projector and theater seating.

Dozens of design apps can help you create a virtual, 3D floor plan. A few to consider: Home Designer Suite, Sweet Home 3D, Home Design 3D and Google Sketchup.

Check to see if you’ll need a permit for improvements.

2. Banish water: Does your basement pass the smell test? If your lower level has moisture problems, your nose will know.

Besides a musty smell, moisture leaves other clues: dark, saturated concrete block walls, flaking paint or condensation. Consult a basement waterproofing contractor if you have any concerns before you begin remodeling.

3. Elevate your ceiling style: Stained or sagging ceilings also point to excess moisture. Identify the cause and make repairs. Then replace the old ceiling with coffered ceiling tiles. With the look of sunken panels, they add depth and distinction. Some of Armstrong Ceilings’ coffered options resist moisture and mold and stand up to humidity.

Like the look of wood? Check out Armstrong WoodHaven Ceiling Planks. They’re available in a variety of finishes, although WoodHaven Classic White planks is the DIY favorite. These wood-look ceiling planks can install over drywall, plaster or joists and can even cover an existing drop ceiling grid.

4. Beautify floors and walls: Beautiful, versatile flooring options are abundant today. Before you choose, think about how you’ll use the space. Consider structural issues, too.

Creating a playroom or cozy retreat? If moisture isn’t a worry, add warmth and softness underfoot with carpeting or an area rug.

If your sub-floor is smooth and even, vinyl is hard to beat. Whether in tile, sheet or plank form, the styles are versatile and the material is water-resistant or waterproof.

If you’re adding a basement gym, consider rubber interlocking tiles. They absorb shock and you can install them yourself.

You’ll discover abundant wall-covering options, too—such as wainscoting, paneling and beadboard. Subtle grass cloth wallpapers add sophistication. Peel-and-stick cork wall tiles create design interest and absorb sound.

Whatever your choice, be sure to waterproof the walls before you cover them.

5. Make a statement: Once you’ve landed on the look you love—whether it’s traditional, farmhouse or mid-century modern—personalize your décor to make it your own.

Display cubes or built-in shelving with lighting are great options for showing off your trophies, baskets, pottery or collectibles. For color and warmth, mix and match a variety of pillows and plush throws.

To personalize your walls—without making a permanent design commitment—consider wall decals. Their elegant patterns and bold images add instant interest. You can even make your mark with an inspiring, oversized quote.

Use every type of lighting—general, task and accent—to bring your basement out of the shadows. Mirrors are another great way to add light—and the illusion of space.

DIYers have never had more versatile design tools and materials to choose from. So don’t let your lower level go unloved and unused any longer. Let the transformation begin.

clicktotweet “Make your basement come alive—and reclaim valuable living space. Replace the old ceiling with wood look panels or coffered ceiling tiles that add depth and distinction and resist moisture. http://bit.ly/38rXQkr

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

What Makes A School Great

by Andrew Campanella

(NAPSI)—Great learning environments elude easy definitions. They come in all different shapes—traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling programs. Perhaps the best definition is this: A great school is one in which students are academically challenged, equipped to be a good citizens and persons, and inspired to greatness.

Because children are different, you can best find a great school for your child when you have diverse options to consider. That could mean open enrollment in a public school outside of your “zone” so your child stays connected with an important peer group. It could mean a charter school focusing on classical education or a magnet school that lets students shadow medical professionals. Maybe it’s learning at an accelerated pace at home or through online coursework, or in a private school that shares your values.

It’s parents who really decide whether a school is good or even great, based on their children’s needs and interests. What might be an excellent learning environment for one child might not be a good fit for another.

That’s one reason National School Choice Week, Jan. 26 through Feb 1, 2020, is important. It raises awareness among parents of their K-12 education options. It’s celebrated by teachers, school leaders, parents, students, and community leaders at 50,000 events and activities.

This National School Choice Week, I encourage all families to explore their education options. You can start, and discover the choices available to you, at www.schoolchoiceweek.com/mystate/.

Mr. Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of “The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.”

clicktotweet “This National School Choice Week, I encourage all families to explore their education options, says Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. http://bit.ly/3avl6zN

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

More Great Reading Ideas: Unlikely Relationships And Light-Hearted And Harrowing Memoirs

“Wounded Angels” by Chuck Miceli

(NAPSI)—Maureen Bower remembers the Fourth of July when she was 14—the day her father walked out of her life forever. She struggles with her fear of abandonment until Frank Russo enters her life. Together, they overcome family prejudices, separation, war, and loss. Their life becomes full until the unthinkable happens. Maureen’s fear of abandonment rises to the surface and consumes her.

Enter Doris Cantrell, the product of an abusive childhood, a troubled marriage and estrangement from her own daughter. Maureen finds her fascinating. Neither the inconsolable widow nor the uncontrollable social misfit have the energy or the inclination to save anyone, but could their wounds be the key to supporting and even healing each other? Buy at https://amzn.to/2E8eh8n.

“The Parrot’s Perch” by Karen Keilt

“In January 1976, I was a bliss-filled, 23-year-old newlywed. Three months after our wedding, my husband and I were awakened at 3:00 a.m. by men with guns. We feared we were being kidnapped by hardened criminals. Kidnapping is a common occurrence in Brazil. As we were driven from our home, fearing death or worse, my husband and I knew our lives would never be the same.”

Karen Keilt offers a brave account of how she and her husband were illegally incarcerated on trumped-up drug charges, tortured for 45 days by the Brazilian police and then forced to rebuild their broken selves without retribution from Brazilian authorities or answers from her own complicated family. From She Writes Press. Purchase at https://amzn.to/38cPXQu.

“Evergreen” by Mya O’Malley

June is the rich girl next door who finds herself fulfilling her passion of caring for homeless animals by volunteering at the local animal shelter.

Unlucky in love, she sets her sights on finding the one—the perfect canine companion, that is—meant just for her.

Things get complicated when an interesting man, Graham, delivers an enormous Great Dane to the doorstep of the shelter. The dog remains a mystery, appearing out of thin air, as if destined to try to bring Graham and June together. The question is, will their relationship survive, or are the obstacles set before them too much to overcome? Buy at https://amzn.to/34cWk33.

“Mostly True: Short Stories” by Arlene Cohen

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” So notes Arlene Cohen within her collection of short stories presented as slices of her life that describe a constant, curious struggle to understand the world around us and the people within it.

Good intentions often backfire in this potpourri of humorous, sometimes-outrageous episodes involving actors, travelers, storytellers, madmen, hikers, hippies, flappers, boyfriends, cookies, castles, and credit cards.

Cohen writes in a simple style that is easy to process. Each vignette does not hit readers over the head with a hard message but rather allows them to process the various lessons and relatable feelings that they generate. Purchase at https://amzn.to/2t8hQcu.

• BookBites is a continuing series bringing readers information and ideas for their next read. For more reading ideas, visit BookTrib.com and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

clicktotweet For great reading, try books about unlikely relationships and light-hearted and harrowing memoirs “Wounded Angels,” by Chuck Miceli; “The Parrot’s Perch,” by Karen Keilt; “Evergreen,” by Mya O’Malley; and “Mostly True: Short Stories” by Arlene Cohen. http://bit.ly/36fnIP2

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Save Money Through Energy Efficiency

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(Family Features) As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home-related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment.

Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you’re away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy morning and kicks back on before you arrive home can help you earn these savings and reduce energy consumption.

Home Automation

Newer smart, programmable thermostats can be controlled remotely by internet-connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Some models can also monitor your energy usage and system efficiency, providing data to help you make further adjustments to how you operate your HVAC system.

Lighting is another major energy challenge. However, smart light bulbs let you adjust your home’s ambiance (and energy usage) with just a couple of quick taps. Paired with motion sensors that detect movement (or a lack thereof) and adjust lighting accordingly, smart bulbs can help reduce the waste of energy caused by lighting unused rooms.

Similarly, smartphone applications that connect to other appliances, utilities and home features offer the best of personalized comfort and convenience while providing tools to help minimize your home’s energy consumption.

Zoned Climate Control

If you’re like most homeowners, there are parts of your house that simply don’t get much use or only get used during certain times of the day. Maintaining the temperature in those uninhabited areas can be costly and wasteful. As an alternative, an option such as zoned climate control allows you to stay comfortable in the rooms you use without spending a fortune on energy bills.

While a zoned system is generally considered a premium home feature, it isn’t unattainable and actually offers long-term savings, due to its energy-efficient operation. The home is divided into zones, designated by floors, rooms or areas – however the homeowner chooses – which eliminates the “all on” feature of traditional air conditioners.

A system like Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating’s Zoned Comfort Solutions offers a true zoning-system with convenient controls and automation, along with whisper-quiet operation. Both ducted and non-ducted units are available depending on the space and occupant needs. Additionally, some models have advanced filtration features to help eliminate allergens, contributing to improved air quality.

For a new build, installing a zoned system from the outset is relatively simple. However, zoned systems are also a possible solution for replacing your home’s HVAC system or rectifying a problem with a single uncomfortable room. Pairing the system with sensors or remote app controls can bring operating costs even lower through computerized automation.

Renewable Energy

Another option to offset some of your home’s energy and utility costs is generating your own renewable energy through solar or wind power systems. Installation depends on many variables, such as how much energy you use, local codes and standards, and whether the house and surrounding terrain are situated to allow you to capture adequate natural power. For a home under construction, your builder should be able to offer guidance; for an existing home, contacting a local renewable energy organization or state office is a smart first step.

Find more ways to save money on your energy bill at mitsubishicomfort.com.

Cost Control

A state-of-the-art zoned climate control system can be configured to your specific needs, but all the customization options can make it tricky to predict how much your installation might cost. Taking into account these variables can give you a better sense of how much you’ll be spending.

New equipment. Each system includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant line-set, wiring and electrical accessories. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than cooling and heating a home with eight or more zones. Generally, new equipment comes in between $3,000-$15,000, depending on the number of zones and size of the home.

Labor. This is what you will pay a licensed HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old one, if necessary). Contractors’ labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount roughly equal to your equipment cost, depending on your geographic location and the complexity of the installation.

Additional costs. Depending on your existing system, you may incur costs for items such as electrical work to install a new 240V outlet ($200-$1,000, or more if your electrical panel requires a new circuit); an equipment pad, stand or brackets for the outdoor unit ($50-$300); ductwork (prices vary greatly depending on the home); and controller options (approximately $200-$300 each).

Unique situations. Some homes, such as older homes, high-performance homes and homes in extreme cold-weather regions, often require auxiliary heat or specialized designs or equipment, all of which can impact the cost of the system. However, with Mitsubishi Electric’s Zoned Comfort Solutions, 100 percent heating down to a 5° F outdoor temperature can be attained.

Rebates. Some states offer rebates for the installation of more energy-efficient appliances, including HVAC systems. These rebates can help offset some of the upfront costs associated with installing zoned systems. Consider speaking with a professional or researching available rebates in your region before purchasing a new system.

Photos © 2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Put Safety First

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Tips for using power tools like a pro

(Family Features) From quick DIY repairs around the house to contractors on the jobsite, power tools can make nearly any job faster and easier. However, having the know-how to put power tools to use is only half the challenge.

Take a safety-first approach to projects big and small with these tips from the Power Tool Institute, the leading organization for power tool safety resources, information and education.

Start with a safe workspace. Keep your work area clean and well lit. Cluttered benches and dark areas invite accidents. Do not operate power tools in explosive atmospheres or near flammable liquids, gases or dust. Power tools sometimes create sparks, which can ignite flammable materials. Also keep bystanders, children and visitors away when using power tools, as distractions can affect your control.

Be careful with battery power. Lithium-ion batteries have become more popular due to their higher efficiency, larger energy storage capacities, convenience and durability. These attributes make them ideal for cordless power tools but also pose additional safety risks when misused. Do not subject them to physical abuse or allow ingress of liquids. Always choose batteries from the original power tool manufacturer, which are engineered to work optimally with corresponding power tools. Aftermarket or third-party batteries may not include all the safety design features and are not always tested to the same safety standards, making them potentially more dangerous and increasing the risk for fire, property damage or personal injury.

Safe transportation and disposal of lithium-ion batteries is also crucial; avoid contact with metal objects, such as keys, coins, screws or nails. To safely dispose of used lithium-ion batteries, take them to a local recycling center or place in a receptacle specially designed for recycling batteries. Do not place batteries in curbside trash or recycling bins. If the battery is damaged, contact the manufacturer for further instructions.

Honor safe practices from start to finish. Use the right tool for your job, and only use accessories specifically recommended by the tool manufacturer. Accessories that are incorrectly sized or incompatible cannot be properly guarded or controlled, and accessories running faster than their rated speed can break and fly apart. Always make sure the accessory has come to a complete stop before putting the tool down and remove the battery from the tool before changing or adjusting the accessory or when cleaning the tool.

Properly store when not in use. To avoid accidental activation, unplug the cord and remove batteries when a tool is not being used. Also be sure to keep tools away from children and people unfamiliar with operating them.

Find more information on safe battery use at TakeChargeOfYourBattery.com, and visit PowerToolInstitute.com for additional power tool safety and operation tips.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

How to Create a More Functional Laundry Room

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(Family Features) A laundry room may be one of the spaces that you use the most, but cramped quarters and clutter can hinder your productivity. Eliminate the excuses and get your laundry room under control with these tips to add function to your washing routine.

Use space wisely. Your laundry room may not have a big footprint, but you probably have more usable space than you realize. Install shelves or storage units on the walls and consider the ceiling as a spot to hang a floating drying rack. Don't overlook the back of the door, where you can mount a storage system or use an over-the-door alternative.

Maximize storage. Many laundry rooms suffer from a lack of storage, which hinders space to fold and manage laundry while making the room less pleasant overall. A durable, attractive organization system like Dimensions by ClosetMaid can add instant organization and style to your laundry room. The system provides numerous design options, convenient accessories and configurations of cabinets and drawers, accommodating virtually any space.

Resist wrinkles. Prevent unsightly wrinkles by hanging garments straight out of the dryer. A hanging rod is easy to install and lets you take advantage of vertical space in smaller rooms. Be sure to also stock up on hangers of various styles so you always have an ample supply ready when the buzzer sounds that another load is ready for your attention.

Promote ventilation. Another common issue in laundry rooms is limited ventilation, which can promote mold, affect air quality and hinder air drying for special garments. A clever way to enhance ventilation while increasing your storage space is ventilated shelving that helps keep air flow moving. For example, ClosetMaid's Premium Wood Kits feature sturdy slatted shelves to stash your laundry essentials and can include accessories like hanging rods.

Create a folding station. One of the biggest laundry pitfalls is folding and putting away clean clothes. A clear, clean space in the laundry room can help nudge you toward completing the task more efficiently. If you have front-loading machines, it may be as simple as adding a counter or sturdy shelf above them. If you use top-loaders, you may need to get more creative. If there's room, a laundry sorter with a flat top is a good solution. Or if floor space is at a premium, you might consider a shelf that mounts to the wall and folds down when you need it.

Get inspired with more ideas to make your laundry room work for you at ClosetMaid.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Make the Most of Your Bathroom Renovation

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(Family Features) Adding additional bathroom space to your home or renovating an outdated lavatory can improve your home’s usability and increase its value, too. To get the most practical benefits and value out of your new space, there are several factors to consider.

Before you get started, take into account these considerations about the design and function of your new bathroom from the remodeling experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Space

A primary consideration is the available footprint to create your new bath. This is often a concern as children reach their teen years and also with expanding families. If there aren’t enough bathrooms in the house, you may want to add another, or it may be that you simply need to improve the layout and features to make better use of the existing space. For example, if the bath will be shared by multiple members of the family, a separation of the sinks from the rest of the room may be helpful.

Features

Determining how you will use your bathroom dictates the features you’ll want to include. A guest or hall bath is likely to have far fewer features than a master bath but may share some similarities with a kids’ bathroom. First, you’ll need to make decisions about basics like lighting, the number of sinks and amount of counter space you’ll need.

If you like baths, you’ll need to decide between a tub and shower combination unit or separate facilities. With a separate tub, the style you prefer may guide your overall design. The aesthetic for a bathroom with a focal point like a claw-foot tub is likely different from a jetted tub.

Storage

Storage is one of the biggest concerns in any design, particularly in rooms as small as typical bathrooms. Carefully consider this aspect of the room during your pre-planning phase. To help determine how much space you need, make a list of all the items you need to store in the bathroom, including cleaning agents, toiletries, linens, first aid items and medications.

It’s a good idea to also think about where in the room you would like to store each of these items. You may want some of the toiletries in the shower area, while others will be used near the sink or dressing area.

Sustainability

Many contemporary bathroom fixtures are designed with sustainability in mind, so you can manage your water usage while still enjoying a water-rich environment. You can find water-saving features on everything from toilets to shower heads to even sink faucets.

Accessibility

Applying universal design principles to your project can promote safety and increase your home’s appeal to a wider range of buyers in the future. In the bathroom, you can improve safety by incorporating non-slip flooring surfaces and ensuring the space is well-lit.

Other ideas include adjusting counter and toilet heights to make bathrooms more accessible (wall-hung toilets should be approximately two inches higher). You could incorporate structural bracing around the tub, shower and toilet for grab bars. You might also consider a walk-in tub or stand-up shower with no threshold, levered handles for faucets and an adjustable showerhead.

Find more ideas and inspiration for your bathroom design at remodelingdoneright.com.

Starting a Home Remodeling Project

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7 tips for choosing a qualified contractor

(Family Features) Outside of the home itself, remodeling is typically one of the largest investments you can make as a homeowner. While some projects can be tempting to tackle yourself, many larger-scale projects may require hiring a qualified professional.

Because remodeling your home is a big undertaking, it’s important to take steps to ensure the professional you hire to perform the work is qualified to complete it to the highest standards of quality and integrity.

Consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to help you make an informed decision when hiring a remodeling contractor.

Get Recommendations

One of the best ways to find qualified, professional help is through word-of-mouth referrals. Ask your relatives, friends, neighbors or co-workers – particularly if they’ve recently renovated their own homes – if they have any previous experience with companies they would recommend. Also consider searching online for reviews of companies in your area.

Stay Local

It’s often best to consider established local remodeling companies first, as they are typically more compelled to perform high-quality work, which allows their businesses to thrive and remain in the community. Local professionals are also likely to know permit requirements and building codes in your city or county, which can change from year to year.

Follow Your Design Aesthetic

Whether your home features a mid-century modern, contemporary or farmhouse design style, it’s critical to choose a remodeler who is knowledgeable in the construction and design of the style of your home. Additionally, a company that specializes in remodeling kitchens may not be suited for a bathroom or bedroom project.

Ask for Licenses and Insurance

Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed, bonded and insured. Ask for copies of licenses and insurance certificates for any remodelers you’re considering to make sure they’re current. Most states also require contractors to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance for their crews. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets the minimum requirements.

Check References

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential contractors, ask for a list of references you can contact and a portfolio of work. A typical reference list includes 10 or more jobs with dates as well as the customer’s name, address and phone number, and a portfolio should also contain at least 10 projects with photos of the space before work began, during the project and after completion. If possible, also consider visiting a current job site to see first-hand how the contractor operates.

Search for Violations or Complaints

Because you can’t always rely on a portfolio or references, it’s important to also check with your local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractors you’re considering, which may help further narrow your list.

Compare Apples to Apples

While a number of different factors goes into every remodeling project, be sure all contractors you solicit bids from are using the same scope and quality of work requirements. Discuss any significant variations in price or timelines and be wary of any substantially lower estimates.

Find more tips for selecting a contractor at remodelingdoneright.com.

Bring New Life to Your Kitchen with Color

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(Family Features) Just as filling your plate with colorful foods is typically good for your body, filling your kitchen with color can be good for the soul. In fact, color is an important element in interior design not only for its aesthetic value, but also because it can shape perceptions and emotions.

“Color is powerful – when you walk into a room, you can instantly feel its subconscious effect on your mood, your heart rate and even your appetite,” said color trend expert Janice Fedak. “That’s why it’s important to choose colors that ‘speak to you,’ express your unique personality and truly make you feel at home.”

The experts at Elmira Stove Works offer these design tips, which take into consideration the psychology of some of the most popular colors for the kitchen.

Red

A strong, vibrant color, red is often associated with passion, pride and strength. In the kitchen, bold pops of red can command attention. Red is a perfect hue for appliances – both large and small – and also works well in a patterned backsplash or on decorative items such as canisters and cookware. Consider red “crystal” grout instead of traditional white grout for tile to create an unexpected look.

White

Associated with clarity, cleanliness and purity, this “non-hue” promotes a sense of order and can provide the ideal backdrop for other colors and design elements. For a streamlined kitchen, pair white countertops with a white tiled backsplash and cabinetry. For a more relaxed but still fresh look, introduce a few colorful kitchen accessories or paint an accent wall in your favorite hue.

Blue

Soothing, calm and reminiscent of the sea and the sky, blue evokes feelings of health and well-being. Adding this naturally relaxing hue to the kitchen, which is often the busiest room in the home, can transform the space into your own personal retreat.

One way to bring blue into the kitchen is through 1950s-inspired appliances from Elmira Stove Works in Beach Blue, a hue that takes its cue from days spent lazing by the pool or at the seashore. From refrigerators and ranges to microwaves and dishwasher panels, retro appliances can bring a fun, welcoming vibe to kitchens.

“Color – whether bold or on the subtler side – can really make a kitchen come alive,” said Tony Dowling, vice president, Elmira Stove Works. “Appliances are a great way to introduce color while also creating the foundation for the rest of the space.”

Yellow

One of the happiest colors on the spectrum, yellow is a lively hue that represents youthfulness and joy. It can inspire reflection and creativity, lift spirits and encourage optimism. Use yellow in your kitchen to bathe it in year-round “sunshine,” especially if your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of natural light or could use an extra dose of warmth and cheer.

Black

Although it has a reputation for darkness and mystery, black is also associated with sophistication. Think of a black-tie affair, where the dramatic attire and decor create an upscale atmosphere. Black design elements can lend that same sense of elegance to your kitchen. Appliances are commonly available in black, but you can also incorporate black through tilework, granite or marble countertops, or an eye-catching porcelain or soapstone sink.

“Whatever colors you choose for your kitchen, the most important thing is to trust your intuition and to wrap your kitchen in hues that make you feel good,” Fedak said.

Explore more colorful ideas for your kitchen at elmirastoveworks.com.

Welcome a 4-Legged Family Member with Care

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Tips for a successful, lifelong pet adoption

(Family Features) Bringing home a new pet can be exciting and heartwarming. Before you get caught up in the excitement of adopting a pet, however, it’s important to do a bit of homework and have conversations to ensure you’re choosing a lifelong fit for your family.

When considering adopting, keep in mind that pets can provide as many benefits to you as you do them, such as helping to reduce stress, providing companionship, getting the daily recommended amount of physical activity and more. As you take your options into account, remember these guidelines from the experts at PetSmart Charities to prepare for a successful homecoming for your newest family member.

Life Stages

If you prefer a lower energy pet, seek a senior (age 7 or above) who may move a little slower. For higher energy, look for young puppies and kittens or active breeds such as Labradors, hounds, American terriers (commonly known as pit bulls) and mixed breeds.

For first-time pet owners, a healthy adult dog or cat can help teach new pet parents the joys of having a pet and may not require as much attention as a puppy or kitten.

Families with young children might consider a family-friendly breed or mixed breed such as a hound. Older kids may benefit from additional responsibilities such as walking the dog or cleaning the litter box.

Living Environment

In addition to the type and age of pet you adopt, you’ll need to consider the space you have available to welcome your furry friend.

If you live in a home, consider fencing your yard for more relaxed playtime. If you live in an apartment, discuss any restrictions with your landlord and find out where the closest dog parks are to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise.

Dogs need a place to call their own where they’re contained overnight and while you’re not home until they can be safely left to roam. Get a crate so your new pet can have an ‘apartment’ within your home.

You should always have more litter boxes than you do cats; for example, if you have one cat make sure you have at least two litter boxes. Litter boxes need to be scooped daily and completely changed weekly.

Veterinary Care

Most adoptions come with a free veterinary check-up within the first week. Visit the veterinarian to have your pet’s vaccine records reviewed and ensure you know the best options for food, exercise and preventative care.

You can prevent many common diseases by keeping your pet at a healthy weight, current on flea, tick and heartworm prevention, fully vaccinated and on a high-quality diet. Preventing diseases costs less money than treating them, so discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian.

Financial Considerations

Most pets come with annual veterinary bills between $200-500 and food bills between $200-400. 

Adopting a pet can provide cost savings, however, as fees at shelters and adoption events are typically lower than breeders and many of these pets are already spayed or neutered.

To ensure your pet is covered in case of emergencies, consider options like pet insurance or opening a designated savings account and depositing 5% of your pay each pay period. If you take out an insurance policy as soon as you adopt your pet, he or she will not have any “pre-existing” conditions excluded from your insurance plan.

Find more tips for a successful pet adoption and locate upcoming adoption events in your community at petsmartcharities.org.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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