Choice Home Warranty | Jan 15, 2016

Valentine’s Day is a great day to show your appreciation for the one you love. Often, it’s through greeting cards, romantic dates, flowers, and gifts. But for some couples, the key to a loved one’s heart just might be in a few framed wedding photos around your home or a new fireplace for a cozy night. And better yet, your Valentine home improvement projects can be enjoyed for years rather than just a few moments or days. Start now on these home improvement projects to show you care for Valentine’s Day.

  1. Add a couple rocking chairs to your porch: Whether you have space on your front porch or out back, make your outdoor areas more couple friendly with a pair of chairs you can enjoy together.
  2. Update your lighting: Swap out harsh lighting for something softer and more flattering. Install dimmer switches to set the mood, update outdated fixtures with a new, more romantic design, and put in new bulbs with softer light.
  3. Install a wine fridge: Love to share wine together? Enjoy an even better experience with a new wine fridge for your kitchen.
  4. Hang an outdoor swing: Get ready for the spring and summer seasons with a cozy outdoor swing or hammock that you can enjoy together.
  5. Frame your bathroom mirror: Update the look of your bathroom quickly — and remind your loved one of your hard work and caring in completing this projct every morning when they look in the mirror. Reveal your finished project with a love note on the mirror.
  6. Organize kitchen cabinets: It hardly sounds romantic, but ask any harried home chef with messy cabinets, and they’ll tell you this gesture would win their hearts over. Invest in organizational tools such as divided storage, hangers, and even drawers for cabinets, and wow your loved one with kitchen storage they’ll enjoy using.
  7. Build a piece of furniture: Nothing says love more than spending the time to create a quality handcrafted piece of furniture made with the recipient in mind. Build a bookshelf for a book lover, a jewelry hanger, or even a practical storage solution for your entryway.
  8. Hang photos on your walls: Chances are, you have plenty of photos of you and your significant other together. But do you have them framed and hung in a place of honor? Show your loved one that you care and cherish your relationship by taking the time to print, frame, and hang photos of them or the both of you together on your walls at home. Need ideas? Look for photos from your wedding day, honeymoon, favorite vacation, or early days in your relationship to make them (and you) feel nostalgic.
  9. Upgrade bath fixtures: Turn your master bathroom into a more romantic haven with updated fixtures. Add a new fixture for faucets and put in new fixtures in your shower and tub for a new, more inviting look. Then plan a big reveal with a bubble bath.
  10. Plant a flower garden: Cut flowers are a nice gesture, but in the right climate, a garden of flowers that will last for weeks or months is a more enduring reminder of your love. Or, plant rose bushes for something more permanent. Plus, you can select flowers from your garden or rose bush for a home made bouquet.
  11. Buy new bedding: Refresh your bedroom and make your bed more enticing with fresh, new sheets. Take it a step further with a new bedspread or even a new headboard.
  12. Put in a fireplace: Nothing says cozy and romantic like a fireplace at home. But even if your home doesn’t already have one, it is possible to get one installed. Freestanding units can be purchased and enjoyed within moments, and local installers can add one to your home as well. Rather take it outside? An outdoor fire pit is romantic, too.
  13. Carve out a ladies’ retreat or man cave: Have a space in your home that you’re not really using? Clear out the junk and make it a place for your loved one to enjoy instead. Add furniture and touches that you know they’ll enjoy, such as wall paint in their favorite color, or the perfect storage solution for their favorite collection.
  14. Just fix it: Practically every couple has a project or two on their honey do list that gets overlooked. Think about the project that your loved one has been wanting to see done and make it happen.

You can throw a legendary Super Bowl party—even when you’re only watching for the commercials. Here’s what to do!

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

It seems that the best parties in the winter all revolve around football. Even if you don’t love sports, fear not. Throwing a Super Bowl party can be just as fun for the host as it is for sports fans. Stock up on tailgate snacks and slammin’ Super Bowl cocktails and let’s get going!

Cooler of beerBRIANNA GRIEPENTROG/TASTE OF HOME

Bring on the Drinks

Football wouldn’t be a great American sport without a great American beverage. Before the party, snag a local beer from the cities of the teams competing or pick up one of our favorite cheap beer brands for your shindig. If they’re not into beer, pick a signature cocktail for each team based on their city, mascot or team colors. Mix up a pitcher of each drink ahead of time with a little splash of food coloring to match each team’s jerseys.

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Do a Dip

Cheesy dips are a staple of any legendary tailgate, and a Super Bowl party is no different. Look for a few creative recipes and choose one that is cheesy, one that is meaty, one that is spicy and one that is vegan to appease all the different taste preferences of your group. Look to these dip recipes for inspiration.

2021 Super Bowl Ecomm Via Etsy.com 2VIA PROPARTYPLANNER/ETSY.COM

Play Some Games

Keep the competition alive with adult party games, like team and city trivia or football bingo. If your guests are more into the ads than the game, this Super Bowl commercial bingo will be sure to bring on some fun. Bake some football-shaped cookies to hand out as prizes.

Super bowl snack stadium TASTE OF HOME

Build a Snack Stadium

To be the envy of all your friends (and the star of their Instagram stories) build yourself a snack stadium. Fill a few cardboard boxes or aluminum pans with all your favorite snacks (including some of these healthy Super Bowl recipes, for a well-balanced selection). Make a field out of a frosted cake and place it in the center. Learn how to build a snack stadium with our step-by-step guide.

Astroterf Football Coaster VIA MERCURIALCREATIONS2/ETSY.COM

Set the Scene

Make your guests feel like they’re watching the game from the sidelines with plenty of creative decorations. From AstroTurf coasters to football drink stirrers to a festive concession stand sign, decorating for your party can be just as fun as the party itself. Decorate one half of the living room with one team’s colors, and the other half of the living room with the other team’s colors. Your guests can choose where they want to sit and cheer on their favorite team.

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Wing It

The staple of any great sports viewing party is a tray of sticky, sweet and tangy chicken wings. Prepare a range of flavors from extra spicy to sweet and mild and have a few dipping sauces (like ranch or blue cheese dressing) on the side. Wings are the perfect finger food, but be sure to have plenty of cocktail napkins ready for these fall off the bone, finger-licking goods!

Ucanbe Athena Face Body Paint Oil PaletteVIA AMAZON.COM

Show Your Spirit

Throw a competition to see who has the most (and most creative) team spirit in the group. Have a face painting kit at the ready with some colorful streamers and spray on hair dye. Challenge your friends to create the craziest costumes and have a makeshift catwalk for them to show off their team spirit.

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Pick a Winning Dessert

What better way to wash down all those wings and beers than with sweet and decadent Super Bowl desserts! Help ease the pain for the losing team with a crowd-pleasing classic like caramel brownies or ice cream and cookie pie. Even if their team lost the game, we bet your guests will leave with a full belly and happy heart.

I Just Hope Both Teams Have FunVIA NINETY5PRINTS/ETSY.COM

Hand Out Swag Bags

To help your guests feel extra special, prepare swag bags as a parting gift. Fill your football treat bags with a few festive football cookies, candies, Gatorade, funny sweatshirt and a custom Super Bowl ’22 pint glass. They’ll be tickled you went the extra mile for them.

Laura is a New York-based freelance food writer with a degree in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education and a degree in Journalism from Penn State. Her work has appeared in Taste of Home, Chowhound, the Culture Trip and Patch.
Dustin Hadley @that40yearguy is floored that this common household item (not baking soda) can erase fridge stink! You need to try this!! Check out the comments at what others are sharing! 🤯 WATCH HERE

 

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Show the love with Cupid-inspired, romantic dinners, heart-shaped pizzas, pies, doughnuts & more V-Day specials throughout Orange County.

ORANGE COUNTY, CA — Valentine’s Day this year falls smack in the middle of the week — Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Whether your celebrations are swanky or low-key, reservations are imperative.

So check out our annual, V-Day dining guide for some of the sweetest offers — for all tastes and budgets —at restaurants, bakeries and pizzerias throughout Orange County.

Find what appeals, scroll through the photo show above for visual inspiration, then get to booking.

And XOXO, from Patch!

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ACAPULCO: Celebrate V-Day Feb. 14-17 with three-course, “Sweetheart Menu for Two” ($55). Begin with tortilla soup or Caesar salad, then choose entrée of chicken, shrimp or steak fajitas, a fajitas duo, crab & shrimp enchiladas, or Muy Grande Platter (chicken, carnitas, enchilada, vegetables, refried beans & rice). Shareable desserts selections: Mrs. Field’s Sizzling Cookie; Oreo cookie ice cream torta; flan; or caramelo cheesecake. Info/bookings. Find restaurant here in Costa Mesa.
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BAYSIDE RESTAURANT: Wow your sweetheart Valentine’s Day at this harbor-front spot with three-course dinner. Selections for lobster bisque, beef tartare, filet mignon, mushroom-crusted seabass & flourless chocolate tarte or crowd-favorite, lemon meringue tart. Live music, too. Plus seating options for inside dining room or covered & heated open-air terrace. $125 per person. Reservations. At 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach.

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BISTANGO: Cue the romance on V-Day with this eatery’s art gallery walls & live music, plus a chef-curated, three-course dinner with surf-n-turf focus. Served Feb. 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. $125/person. Seatings either under palms on open-air, heated patio, or in dining room’s private booth. Reservations. At 19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine.

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BLACK ANGUS STEAKHOUSE: Choices here! Valentine’s Day options include “Campfire Feast Dinner for Two”($68), with starter, two entrees including prime rib & salmon, two sidekicks, broccoli & mashed potatoes, plus dessert. For couples wanting a little more “Surf ‘n’ Turf Dinner for Two” ($115), with two filet mignons, two lobster tails, starter, four sides, molasses bread, dessert & two prosecco splits. BookingsFind locales in Buena Park, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana.

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CAFE SEVILLA: Spanish-inspired menu, Latin music & flamenco entertainment are planned Valentine’s Day. Choose from four-course, prix-fixe special, with warm goat cheese dip & Spanish charcuterie to start, followed by lobster cake & citrus salad, pan-seared duck with Spanish beer glaze or lobster paella, and orange tart dessert with raspberry meringue. ($150/couple with live music 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) Evening options include dazzling, flamenco show & dinner with three-course, lobster paella feast. ($119/person.) Plus, all Feb. 14 diners receive complimentary entry to Sevilla Ultra Lounge with live DJ & dancing. Details/reservations. At 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa.

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CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN: Specials, including heart-shaped pizzas with crispy, thin crust, are back Feb. 9 to Feb. 14, for Valentine’s week. “Sweet Deal for Two” offers one appetizer, two entrees & one dessert for $50 (classic) or $60 for “Adventure Package.” Sweet Deal diners also score BOGO-offer bounceback card, redeemable Feb. 15 to Feb. 22. Details. Find locations here.

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EDDIE V’S PRIME SEAFOOD: Dine in style Valentine’s Day with such menu options as oysters, crab cakes, lobster, steaks, scallops, sea bass & more. And don’t miss new V-Day cocktail: “With Love, Eddie,” a bourbon indulgence. ReservationsLocation in Newport Beach.
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EL TORITO: Treat your sweetheart Feb. 14-17 to three-course, Valentine special for two ($55), featuring options for tortilla soup, Caesar salad, entrées of fajitas, salmon or Macho Combo (pasilla chile relleno, chicken & sour cream enchilada, beef barbacoa taco & chicken tamale). Finish with shareable dessert of mudd pie, deep fried ice cream or cinnamon-crisp cheesecake. Website. See locales.
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FARMER BOYS: Award-winning burger chain plays Cupid this Valentine’s Day with debut of “Burger Bouquet.” As alternative to roses & chocolates, this “bouquet” ($30) is five Big Cheese burgers in special box with V-Day card. Sold via drive-thru, dine-in or phone-ahead, while supplies last. WebsiteFind restaurants in Orange County.
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FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE & WINE BAR: Three-course, V-Day menu for two — starring Prime Surf & Turf — will be served Feb. 8-19. Included: oysters Rockefeller & shrimp cocktail starters; bone-in NY strip; filet mignon; two crab-stuffed lobster tails; & dark chocolate torte dessert. ($230 for two.) Specialty cocktail: the Berry Basil Bliss, with gin, sherry, lemon juice & strawberry ($17). Per-guest menu options for filet mignon with crab-stuffed shrimp or Chilean sea bass available. Eateries open early at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14. Details. Locations here in Anaheim, Newport Beach.

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GELSON’S MARKETS: Create romantic V-Day celebration at home with to-go dinners for two. Options: steak & lobster; salmon & lobster tail; or cordon bleu with lobster tail. Sides include pomegranate apple salad & roasted garlic asparagus. Floral arrangements & chocolate-dipped strawberries also available for a finishing touch. Place orders online for pick-up Feb. 13-14. See info here. Find stores near you.

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KHAN SAAB DESI CRAFT KITCHEN: This twice Michelin-recognized, 100% Halal restaurant is prepping a five-course, Valentine’s Day prix-fixe feast, for Feb. 14 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. $80 per person. Among highlights: sweet & sour potato chaat; Bazaar Salad of tomatoes, charred watermelon & cucumber; roast mashed eggplant bharta; such entrees as Manchigo corn kofta; lemon chili shrimp; chopal kabob & malai chicken tikka masala; plus banana crème brulee dessert. V-Day mocktail special is Chocolate Martini with Ghirardelli chocolate, caramel, cream & Seedlip Spice 94. Reservations. At 229 East Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton.

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KING’S FISH HOUSE: Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the “House that Seafood Built” with three-course menu starring steak & seafood specials. Among menu selections: eight-ounce filet mignon; South African lobster tail; plus appetizer, choice of sides & dessert. $80 per person. Regular menu, including Chilean sea bass, wild California spiny lobster & more, also available. ReservationsLocations here in Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills & Orange.
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KRISPY KREME: Sweeten V-Day with heart-shaped doughnuts in “Dough-Notes” box with your heart-felt sentiments. This year’s four, new flavors: You Color My World (cake batter filling, red icing & rainbow heart sprinkles); I Love You A Choco-Lot (chocolate filling & icing with rose piping); You’re Berry Sweet (white Kreme filling, strawberry icing & sprinkles); & Without You I’d Crumble (cookie dough filling, chocolate icing & cookie crumble). The Dough-Notes dozens box includes space for handwritten notes from giver to receiver. Available through Feb. 14. DetailsShop finder.
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LAS BRISAS: Enjoy romantic, waterfront setting, plus special five-course, prix-fixe dinner from 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 through Sunday, Feb. 18. $140/person. Menu highlights include lamb chops, filet of beef & butternut squash tamale. Or select $325 per couple option, with tomahawk steak or lobster. Champagne upgrades available for all window tables, starting at $350 per person, on Valentine’s Day. Details/bookings. At 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach.

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LUCIANA’S RISTORANTE: Indulge in romantic ambiance & Italian cuisine with four-course, prix-fixe, Valentine’s Day dinner in historic Lantern District. ($85/person.) Begin with crostini flight. Then select from options as: Insalata di Barbabietole (red & yellow beets, baby greens, balsamic reduction, whipped honey goat cheese); Zuppa di Aragosta with crème fraiche & lobster; filet mignon with porcini sauce, broccolini & Luciana’s famous butter beans; osso buco; braised chicken; salmon; Ravioli di Aragosta (homemade lobster ravioli); squid ink pasta with shrimp, scallops & crab; plus exotic desserts. MenuReservations. At 24312 Del Prado Ave., Dana Point.

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MARUFUKU RAMEN: This eatery is V-Day, date-night ready with menu featuring such dishes as: appetizers of pork cha-shu in Japanese steamed buns; pan-fried pot stickers; fried shishito peppers; authentic Hakata-style Tonkatsu ramen with ultra thin noodle, broth & pork & more. Night cap options include sake, imported beer & craft cocktails. Website. Location here at 8543 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine.

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MIX RESTAURANT AT HILTON ANAHEIM: Win your Valentine’s heart with deluxe, Feb. 14 dinner for two, served 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. & crafted by Executive Chef Juan Lopez & team. Menu highlights: lobster seafood bisque; beet salad; pan-seared “Naked Scallops” with saffron cauliflower puree; seafood ravioli; salmon; chicken; herb-crusted steak; plus “Amore” dessert of strawberry & chocolate. Reservations via OpenTable. At 777 W. Convention Way, Anaheim.

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MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE: Treat your Valentine to romantic dinner for two, served Feb. 9-17. Included are starters & sides, with entree choices of bone-in New York strip and twin, lobster tails. $169 for two. Dine-in only. Details/reservations. Find locations in Anaheim & Santa Ana.
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MOUNTAIN MIKE’S PIZZA: For entire month of February, heart-shaped pizzas are available for dine-in, takeout & delivery — with toppings of choice, like the chain’s signature crispy, curly pepperoni. To sweeten the deal, bite-sized Mini Churrs are $2.99 with purchase of any heart-shaped pizza. Details. Find stores.

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OJI SUSHI & SAKE BAR: Treat your sushi-loving sweetheart to luxury, all-you-can-eat Valentine’s Day dinner Feb. 14, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Adults/$38.99; kids, 8-13/$19.99; kids, 4-7/$14.99; & 3 and under free. For reservations, call 949-515-7400. At 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa.

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PIEOLOGY PIZZERIA: V-Day special, Red Velvet Cookies, are back for limited time beginning Feb. 13. Freshly baked with white chocolate chips, Hershey’s milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate chunks & milk chocolate chunks, they are available for purchase & also as free “perk” option for “Pies and Perks” members. Find locations statewide.

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POLLY’S PIES: Add a delicious twist to Valentine’s Day with heart-shaped, hand pies — in boysenberry, apple & cherry — from family-owned legacy business, founded in 1968 in Fullerton. $7.99 each. Pre-order for pick-up, or schedule a delivery/shipment of four for $35.99. Details. With 13 SoCal locations in Los Angeles, Orange & Riverside counties.

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POSTINO WINE CAFE: Make V-Day a date night to remember with “Takeout & Makeout” & “Snacks in The City” to-go packs available through Feb. 18. Or book reservation for parties up to eight from Feb. 10-18. “Takeout & Makeout” ($55) includes one “snacky thing,” bruschetta, board & salad and feeds two. “Snacks in The City” feeds four to six ($80) with three “snacky things,” one bruschetta, board & salad. Reservations/order info. At 2981 Michelson Drive, Irvine.

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ROUND TABLE PIZZA: Heart-shaped pizzas are on the menu for Valentine’s Day, plus get $5 off a large, heart-shaped pizza OR regular XL pizza with code HEART5 at checkout. Find locales statewide.

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RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE: Treat your Valentine to “Porterhouse Dinner for Two” or “T-Bone with Horseradish Crust.” Porterhouse is paired with lobster tails & offered only Wednesday, Feb. 14. T-bone special is served Feb.9-18. DetailsSee sites in Anaheim, Irvine.

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SEASONS 52: Celebrate V-Day with elegant, on-site dining of seasonal favorites & rotating wine flights, or plan romantic, at-home dinner for two with takeout option. To-go meal offers filet mignon, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, broccolini, salad, two Mini Indulgence desserts & bottle of wine for $115. Pre-order takeout 24 hours in advance for Feb. 10-18 pickup. Reservations/ordering detailsLocation in Costa Mesa.
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SKÅL PIZZA: “Pizza My Heart: Valentine’s Day Specials” planned Feb. 9 through Feb. 14 (closed Feb. 13) at the health-conscious, stylishly casual eatery, AKA Malibu Farm’s cool “little sister” restaurant along Lido Marina Village boardwalk. Enjoy chef/restaurateur Helene Henderson’s offerings, including two heart-shaped pizzas: Everything Crust & Lox Pizza: white sauce, smoked salmon, tomatoes, cucumber, dill, caper berries & pickled onions; and Tomato & Spanish Chorizo: tomato sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, chorizo & oregano. Half-off bottles of wine, too. Website. At 3400 Via Oporto, Newport Beach.

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SNOOZE A.M. EATERY: Celebrate your Valentine with limited-time, sweet treat — Double Chocolate Brownie Pancakes. Offered Feb. 8 through V-Day, Feb. 14, this decadent dish features brownie buttermilk pancake topped with chocolate ganache, strawberries, blueberries & powdered sugar. Find locations in Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, Orange, Tustin.

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SUSIECAKES: Keep it sweet & bring home cookies, cupcakes, mini-cupcakes & cakes decorated with Valentine’s Day themes. A super cute, bakery highlight is 4-inch, “Sweetheart Cake,” perfect for two with vanilla buttercream & red and pink hearts. ($42.99.) Order infoFind shops statewide in Costa Mesa, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach.

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TAVERN + BOWL: For a fun, V-Day with friends & family, book a lane & enjoy dinner & bowling. Menu offerings range from steak & burgers to pizza & vegetarian options. Open Feb. 14, on Valentine’s Day, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 949-438-2320. OC reservations. At 1875 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa.

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TENDER GREENS: Sweet, V-Day freebie! Diners at the chef-drive, healthy living, sustainable-focused eateries score free dessert of choice with any entree purchase on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. WebsiteLocations at UC Irvine & Irvine Spectrum.
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THE CAPITAL GRILLE: Valentine’s Day dining promises a chef-prepared, dining experience, featuring variety of wine & champagne selections, dry-aged steaks & complimentary, chocolate-covered strawberries, prepared by in-house pastry chef. Bookings. Location here in Costa Mesa.
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URBAN PLATES: Three-course, Valentine’s special ($55) will be served Feb. 9-19 for dine-in or takeout. Selections include: tomato basil soup, house or Caesar salad; char-grilled steak; chimichurri steak; salmon; two sides; rustic bread; & dessert of cookies, cakes or mango tarts. In-house diners get half-off bottles of wine, too. Find locales statewide in Aliso Viejo, Brea, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Tustin.

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WATER GRILL: Book a Valentine’s date night with chef-curated, four-course menu, along with interactive photo booth & commemorative hand-poured candle ($135/person). Dinner highlights: oyster sampler or jumbo lump crab cake; clam chowder & roasted beet salad; plus such surf n’ turf entrées as filet mignon or lobster. Dessert array offered, too, including New York cheesecake & caramel bread pudding. Optional wine pairing: $50. Reservations. At 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

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WATERTABLE AT HYATT REGENCY HUNTINGTON BEACH: Cue the romance with three-course, Valentine’s Day dinner, featuring such options as hamachi crudo, pan-seared scallops, lamb chops, tiger prawns, elk loin, NY steak, tofu, fennel & squash, plus dessert selections of orange almond cake, Six Degrees of Chocolate Cake, berry torte & more. Reservations. At Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach.

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It’s never too early to start planning for Valentine’s Day or just having a handy list of ideas for a romantic date with your sweetheart!  We’ve gathered ideas with the help of an old OC Register post.  We hope you’ll enjoy this list!  Though we’ve taken steps to ensure these places are still operating, definitely do your due diligence before heading out!  🙂


1. Find a lookout point: There are plenty of romantic views around the region, from cliffs that overlook the glistening Pacific Ocean to quiet places where you can park your car and gaze over shining city lights.

Trails that sit above the ocean, such as Point Vicente in Palos Verdes, Corona del Mar’s Inspiration Point, Crystal Cove State Beach’s cliffside trails or the Dana Point Headlands, offer ocean vistas for light daytime strolls. Hilltop Park in Signal Hill is known for its epic city views above the twinkling lights. Further inland, check out the Mt. Rubidoux Trail just west of downtown Riverside, which showcases mountain ranges and the city below, but note that parking and the trial close at dusk.


Several boat charters will offer sunset rides in the Dana Point Harbor this weekend for Valentine's Day weekend. (File photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register)
Several boat charters will offer sunset rides in the Dana Point Harbor this weekend for Valentine’s Day weekend. (File photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register)

2. Take a mini cruise: Southern California has several harbors and a vast coastline for special trips out on the water.

In Long Beach, check out Harbor Breeze Cruises’ historical tour of the Los Angeles Harbor, a 45-minute narrated cruise that includes the Long Beach skyline, the Queen Mary and wildlife hanging out in the harbor like sea lions or, if you’re lucky, gray whales.

In Newport Beach, you can charter your own Duffy boat for a more intimate cruise, packing wine and cheese or grabbing a meal from a dockside restaurant at Lido Marina Village.

In Dana Point, stop by the harbor’s  “Love Wall” mural for a photo op with your own love before heading out on a cocktail cruise on Saturday or Sunday with Aventura Sailing. Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari will host sunset safaris for sweethearts and also offers romantic private charters, or join Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching all weekend for cruises at sunset with a complimentary drink and treats.


Picturesque views of Avalon are among the amenities of staying or dining at Mt Ada, formerly known as the Wrigley Mansion. (Photo by David Dickstein)
Picturesque views of Avalon. (Photo by David Dickstein)

3. Catalina Express now boarding: If you want a longer excursion, Catalina Express has charters from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point. Cruise around the island on a golf cart to take in the sights, or take some hiking shoes to traverse the scenic trails.


A gondola cruises through the Naples Island canals on an excursion booked through Gondola Getaway, which offer couples romantic gondolier boat rides through the canals in Naples. Other gondolas offer rides in Redondo, Newport and Huntington Harbour, but space is limited on Valentine's Day weekend. (File photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)
A gondola cruises through the Naples Island canals on an excursion booked through Gondola Getaway, which offer couples romantic gondolier boat rides through the canals in Naples. Other gondolas offer rides in Redondo, Newport and Huntington Harbour, but space is limited on Valentine’s Day weekend. (File photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

4. Romantic gondola ride: Taking a romantic trip to Italy might not be in the cards this year, but you can enjoy a gondola ride around Naples in Long Beach, Huntington Harbor, or Newport Beach in Orange County. Most companies offer Valentine’s Day specials, though some are already sold out, so you may need to be flexible and book an excursion on a different day.


The UCR Botanical Gardens can be a great, scenic way to enjoy an afternoon with a loved one. (File photo by Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
The UCR Botanical Gardens can be a great, scenic way to enjoy an afternoon with a loved one. (File photo by Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

5. Visit a lush garden: Botanical gardens can be beautiful places to explore, filled with flora and fauna of the region. Check out UC Riverside’s impressive garden located in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains. The 40 acres on the east side of the campus feature four miles of trails, or just soak in the beauty of its 3,500 plant species from one of the benches.

Smaller botanical gardens can be found throughout the region, such as the Niguel Botanical Garden in Laguna Niguel. In the South Bay, check out the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden in Polliwog Park or South Coast Botanical Garden in Palos Verdes.


6. Movie under the stars: Southern California is home to a handful of still operating drive-ins, including in the City of Industry, Montclair, Paramount and Riverside, that are easily found with an internet search and there are pop-ups that bring outdoor screens to even more communities.  Or watch a romantic movie from the comfort of your own car at The Roadium in Torrance!


A bundled up couple takes a walk on the trail by the Point Vicente Lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes Saturday November 7, 2020. Walking trails near the ocean can be a great place for a romantic stroll. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)
A bundled up couple takes a walk on the trail by the Point Vicente Lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes. Walking trails near the ocean can be a great place for a romantic stroll. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

7. Soak in the beach scenes: There’s nothing more simple or romantic than a leisurely stroll on one of the region’s idyllic piers. Grab a meal from a local restaurant and head to the Malibu, Huntington Beach or San Clemente piers and find a spot to sit while watching surfers ride waves. The region’s other piers – from Hermosa Beach to Newport Beach and beyond – have eateries with a view or that can pack up food to go for a picnic in the sand.

Another beach-themed idea? Snuggle up with your loved one at a fire ring with the flames keeping you warm. Grab some S’mores fixings, a few hot dogs and watch the sun go down at any Huntington Beach stretch, Bolsa Chica or Aliso Beach in South Laguna, which have rows of fire rings available. Another popular place is Corona del Mar, but make sure you bring charcoal to burn, wood is not allowed.


Tides will be low at around sunset this weekend, making for great exploration at areas like Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)
Tides will be low at around sunset this weekend, making for great exploration at areas like Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

8. Explore tidepools: Plan a great sunset stroll to explore sea creatures at local tidepools in Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach and Dana Point.  You can look up the tide report at U.S. Harbors.


9. Shop an open-air market: Been limiting your time shopping inside? There are a few open air markets where you can stroll with your loved one to pick up something special, while at the same time supporting small businesses.  Check out our Farmer’s Market post or our Shopping Center Guide to get ideas!


Snowplay at Alpine Slide At Magic Mountain recreation park is one way to enjoy the Southern California mountain town. (File photo by Rachel Luna, San Bernardino Sun/SCNG)
Snowplay at Alpine Slide At Magic Mountain recreation park is one way to enjoy the Southern California mountain town. (File photo by Rachel Luna, San Bernardino Sun/SCNG)

10. Snuggle in the snow: Get cozy with your loved one on a ski lift or maybe take a scenic chair lift ride, but make sure to bundle up.  If you want a snowboard or ski getaway, be warned…with President’s Day the following Monday, it’ll be busy.  Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, and Snow Valley are the local ski resorts.

Enjoy a day of snow play at Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain recreation park in Big Bear Lake if you want to avoid the resort crowds, but still want a thrill. There is a bobsled experience and snow play areas where you can tube down the hill.

If you’re not into playing in the snow, but want to enjoy the mountain views, check out Mount Baldy’s scenic lift rides, which take people to the Top of the Notch Recreation Area. It’s a 20-minute ride to 7,800 feet that has views all the way to the Pacific Ocean.


 

Keeping Current Matters | Jan 17, 2024

If you’ve been holding off on selling your house to make a move because you felt mortgage rates were too high, their recent downward trend is exciting news for you. Mortgage rates have descended since last October when they hit 7.79%. In fact, they’ve been below 7% for over a month now (see graph below):

And while they’re not going back to the 3% we saw during the ‘unicorn’ years, they are expected to continue to go down from where they are now in the near future. As Dean Baker, Senior Economist at the Center for Economic Researchexplains:

“It also appears that mortgage rates are now falling again. They will almost certainly not fall to pandemic lows, although we may soon see rates under 6.0 percent, which would be low by pre-Great Recession standards.”

Here are two reasons why this recent trend, and the expectation it’ll continue, is such good news for you.

You May Not Feel as Locked-In to Your Current Mortgage Rate

With mortgage rates already significantly lower than they were just a few months ago, you may feel less locked-in to the current mortgage rate you have on your house. When mortgage rates were higher, moving to a new home meant possibly trading in a low rate for one up near 8%.

However, with rates dropping, the difference between your current mortgage rate and the new rate you’d be taking on isn’t as big as it was. That makes moving more affordable than it was just a few months ago. As Lance Lambert, Founder of ResiClubexplains:

We might be at peak “lock-in effect.” Some move-up or lifestyle sellers might be coming to terms with the fact 3% and 4% mortgage rates aren’t returning anytime soon.”

More Buyers Will Be Coming to the Market

According to data from Bright MLS, the top reason buyers have been waiting to take the plunge into homeownership is high mortgage rates (see graph below):

Lower mortgage rates mean buyers can potentially save money on their home loans, making the prospect of purchasing a home more attractive and affordable. Now that rates are easing, more buyers are likely to feel they’re ready to jump back into the market and make their move. And more buyers mean more demand for your house.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting to sell because you didn’t want to take on a larger mortgage rate or you thought buyers weren’t out there, the recent decline in mortgage rates may be your sign it’s time to move. When you’re ready, let’s connect.


👩🏻 Christine Almarines @christine_almarines
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637
Tagalog speaking

👩🏻 Michelle Kim @michellejeankim_homes
Realtor DRE# 01885912 | 714-253-7531
Korean speaking

👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266
Spanish speaking

Oaklane Home Staging | Jul 12, 2021

Living in a country with a tropical climate such as the Philippines is the dream vacation or even retirement plan for many people across different countries all over the globe. For one, we never have to thaw ice from snow build-ups nor wear over 3 layers of clothing. However, tropical climate comes with its share of mishaps such as low-pressure areas and typhoons that bring with them strong winds, rain, and chances of flash floods that can last for days at a time.

This can happen at any time but is more common during the rainy season, which is usually from June till October. The good news is, there are ways to possibly spare your home from the dangers of flash floods or at least make preparations sturdy enough to prevent any major damages. As the famous saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is a known fact that even the sturdiest homes can suffer from cracks and leakages despite being built with good quality materials. This regular wear and tear are inevitable and worth maintaining to avoid much bigger problems in the future. After all, our home is an extension of ourselves and should be maintained regularly.

In this article, we will tackle a few home maintenance tips, just in time for this year’s rainy season.

 

1. Inspect those roofs and gutters

It is a fact that our roof is the first line of defense from strong winds and heavy rains, so even if there is not much impact on the home’s overall feel, it plays a big role in keeping you and everyone else in your home safe.

The gutters also play an important part in draining the water and shielding us from great inconveniences brought about by natural disasters. If one of our gutters breaks, then the house would most likely experience flooding in some areas.

A month before the rainy season begins is the perfect time to check for any holes or cracks in the roof and gutters. Be sure to reseal everything and avoid any downpipe clogs. Make sure you do this inspection yearly to avoid any further damage caused by future typhoons.

2. Inspect your electrical systems

From the sockets to the wires, to the main switches, check all your electrical systems. This will help you create an extra layer of safety in your home, especially from unwanted water leaks which could lead to accidental fires.

If you do not know how to do it yourself, don’t fret! Not everyone does. It is best to hire an electrician to do the inspection at least twice a year. Just like your roofing and plumbing, these may not be aesthetic fixes, but instead, they are practical fixes that can save you a lot of money.

3. Be wary of pests, mosquitos, and the dangers they come with

The World Health Organization has declared over 169,000 dengue virus cases in 2015. Although those numbers are significantly lower now, the fact remains that this is due to mosquitoes that breed in murky and stagnant water in our homes, and most of the time, this happens during the rainy season whether we are aware of it or not.

It is best to keep our whole home free from stagnant waters and puddles that may form in different areas of our home during the rainy season, especially outdoors. These attract bugs and become ideal environments for mosquitoes to breed. It is best to be mindful of these and keep our family safe by cleaning the entire garden, swimming pools, aquariums or fish ponds after a few days of consistent rainfall.

4. Update your storage solutions

If possible, elevate your furniture and electrical appliances, especially if your home has a basement or lower floor, or if your house is not elevated. This is for the purpose of sudden flash floods.

If you are still in the process of designing your dream home, find heavy, sturdy, and waterproof storage solutions that will protect your most valuable belongings from getting wet or destroyed in case of rain or strong winds getting inside the house through a leak on the roof or flooding like our marbled boxes.  Always choose sturdy furniture made of high-quality materials like metal, stone, wood, or marble that would more likely outlast a flood, and come out with no health risks like mold infestation unlike upholstered furniture.

We deserve to feel safe, no matter the seasons or weather conditions, and there should be no place on earth that would make you feel safer than your own home and personal sanctuary.

Sandy Toes and Popsicles | Jan 7, 2024

Lunar New Year is just around the corner!  These Orange County kid/family friendly Lunar New Year events are listed by City and span between Jan 23 to Mar 12. Happy Lunar New Year!


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN ANAHEIM

Celebrate Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park
January 23 through February 18, 2024
All Day
Disney California Adventure Park
Anaheim, CA

A multicultural celebration filled with auspicious wishes for health, luck and prosperity throughout the new year! Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, kid-friendly crafts and activities, and Hurry Home – A Lunar New Year Celebration pre-show. Ring in the Year of the Dragon with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan, Mushu and friends dressed in vibrant attire inspired by Lunar New Year. Stroll beneath strings of ornamental lanterns, make a wish for the new year.

LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN BREA

Lion Dance Performance
Saturday, February 10, 2024
11am
Brea Library
1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, CA, CA

Join us for a festive Lion Dance performance to celebrate Lunar New Year. Stay after for fun crafts!


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN COSTA MESA

O.C. Lantern Festival 2024
Saturday, March 2, 2024
11am
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall Samueli Theater
615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

ree Family event! Bring the entire family and join us for Pacific Symphony’s annual Lantern Festival, celebrating the Year of the Dragon! The Lantern Festival, which can be traced back 2,000 years, marks the return of spring and the reunion of family. The act of lighting and appreciating lanterns is a way for people to let go of the burdens of their old selves and express their best wishes for themselves and their families for the future.

Lunar New Year with Pacific Symphony
February, February 10, 2024
8pm
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall Samueli Theater
615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

Join Pacific Symphony’s annual festivities honoring the Lunar New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dragon, this performance is sure to sell out once again as audiences from across our communities come together to feast on a colorful presentation of Eastern and Western music and dance.

42nd Annual UVSA Tết Festival
February, 9 – 11, 2024
Times Vary
OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

Join Pacific Symphony’s annual festivities honoring the Lunar New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dragon, this performance is sure to sell out once again as audiences from across our communities come together to feast on a colorful presentation of Eastern and Western music and dance.


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Teen Paper Lantern Workshop
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
4pm
Fountain Valley Library
17635 Los Alamos, Fountain Valley, CA

It’s the year of the Dragon! Celebrate the Lunar New Year by making a dragon head made out of felt! All supplies will be provided.

Family Craft Night – Felt Dragon Head
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
4 – 6pm
Fountain Valley Library
17635 Los Alamos, Fountain Valley, CA

It’s the Year of the Dragon! Join us in making paper lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN GARDEN GROVE

Lunar New Year Festival 2024
Saturday, February 10, 2024
1 – 10pm
SteelCraft Garden Grove
12900 South Euclid Street Garden Grove, CA

Join us for pop-up shops, lion dancers, live music and more!

Lunar New Year Celebration
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
4pm
Garden Grove Tibor Rubin Library
11962 Bailey Street, Garden Grove, CA

Join us for a Lunar New Year themed craft, activity and snacks. Fun for the whole family!

Tết Themed Storytime
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
10:30am
Garden Grove Chapman Library
9182 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, CA

Join us for a special dragon themed storytime to celebrate Lunar New Year! Dragon plushie craft to follow. Registration required, starting January 22.


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN HUNTINGTON BEACH

Lunar New Year Maker Market
Saturday, February 3, 2024
12 – 5pm
Bella Terra
7777 Edinger Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA
Join us as we celebrate Lunar New Year with a Maker Market! 30+ small business vendors, Chinese musical performance by Galaxy Arts Center, Cultural Characters, and Kids Games and Activities.


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN IRVINE

Lunar New Year Celebration
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
4:30pm
Irvine University Park Library
4512 Sandburg Way, Irvine, CA
Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with fun Lunar New Year crafts and activities.

Lunar New Year Fest
Saturday, February 17, 2024
2:30 – 4pm
Irvine University Park Library
4512 Sandburg Way, Irvine, CA

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with fun games and prizes and an exciting performance at 3pm. No registration required. Free for the whole family!

Celebrate Lunar New Year at Pretend City
February 10 & 11, 2024
11am – 2:30pm
Pretend City
29 Hubble, Irvine, CA

Celebrating the beginning of spring into the New Year. At 11am, enjoy a Kishin Daiko Drummers performance that embodies the translation of Kishin which is energy, spirit, and heart.  At 2:30pm, Ane Thanh Lion Dance will perform traditional lion dancing with acrobatics and a live instrumental troupe to bring good luck into the New Year.

Lion Dancers
Saturday, February 24, 2024
2:30pm
Laguna Niguel Library
30341 Crown Valley Pkwy, Laguna Niguel, CA

Please join us for a Chinese Lion Dance performance presented by the Southern California Youth Cultural Association. Fun for the whole family!


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN LA HABRA

Lunar New Year Performance
Saturday, January 27, 2024
2pm
La Habra Library
221 East La Habra Blvd., La Habra, CA

Enjoy a themed craft, snacks and a performance by the Southern California Youth Dragon and Lion Dance Team.

LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN LA PALMA

Lunar New Year Celebration
Thursday, February 8, 2024
4pm
La Palma Library
7842 Walker Street, La Palma, CA

Let’s celebrate Lunar New Year with stories, lucky treats and fun crafts! Fun for the whole family!


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN SAN CLEMENTE

D. Yoder Family Sundays: Lunar New Year
Sunday, February 4, 2024
10am – 2pm
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA

Enjoy free admission to Casa Romantica and celebrate the year of the Dragon in the upcoming Lunar New Year! Featuring lucky envelopes with fortunes (some including prizes!), and a performance with lion dancers with a martial arts demonstration.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Saturday, February 10, 2024
11am – 2pm
Outlets at San Clemente
101 W Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente, CA

Details to follow

LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN SANTA ANA

Tết (Lunar New Year) Festival
Saturday, February 3, 2024
2 – 7pm
Centennial Park
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA

The City of Santa Ana will be holding its first ever Santa Ana Tết (Lunar New Year) Festival. Everyone is invited to join us for a day full of celebrating the Year of the Dragon. This event will be family-friendly and open to all residents and non-residents. Look forward to  live entertainment, dancing, vendors, inflatables, and fireworks!

Chinese New Year Festival
Sunday, February 4, 2024
11am – 3pm
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with a lively Chinese New Year Festival! Enjoy free art activities, face painting, and exhilarating dance and music performances. Join us in welcoming a year of strength, confidence, and luck!

Lunar New Year Celebration
Saturday, February 17, 2024
12 – 2pm
MainPlace Mall
2800 N Main Street, Santa Ana, CA

Join us as we celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon! We’ll have activities for the whole family!

LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN SILVERADO

Lunar New Year Celebration in Silverado
Saturday, February 3, 2024
11:30am
Library of the Canyons
7531 E. Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado, CA 

Join us as we celebrate the Lunar New Year with a Lion Dance followed by a special lantern craft. Fun for the whole family!


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN VILLA PARK

Villa Park Lunar New Year Celebration
Saturday, February 10, 2024
10am – 2pm
Villa Park Town Center
17767 – 17871 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, CA

Visitors can enjoy a free festive event with a photo booth with props, red envelopes with surprises and student performances.


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN WESTMINSTER

Tết Celebration at the Westminster Library
Saturday, February 3, 2024
10am
Westminster Library
8180 13th Street, Westminster, CA

Join us for cultural performances, a children’s craft and a chance to win a prize! Traditional dress encouraged!

Westminster Tet Parade
Sunday, February 10, 2024
8:30am
The City of Westminster
Bolsa Avenue and Magnolia Street, Westminster, CA

The Tet Parade is a grandiose event that has celebrated the Lunar New Year in Little Saigon for over two decades. Every year Vietnamese communities across the globe tune in to watch the event broadcasted by local TV stations and social media platforms. The Tet Parade features floats, marching bands, lion dances, color guards, veterans and youth organizations, martial arts, multi-cultural attires, elected officials, scout organizations, community organizations, and an array of local and international businesses.


LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN YORBA LINDA

Lunar New Year at the Nixon Library
Monday, February 12, 2024
5 – 8pm
Richard Nixon Library & Museum
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA

2024 is the year of the Dragon! Celebrate family, friends and fortune with cultural performances at the Nixon Library.

Family Handyman | Jan 14, 2024

You probably already have a home maintenance checklist: Replace the furnace filter each season, shut off water spigots before winter, clean the gutters, etc. That’s a good start, but there are jobs that homeowners often forget about, or don’t even know about. Here are some important home maintenance items that may not be on your list-items that may cause a big headache, or worse, cost you big money if you neglect them.


Test the Sump Pump or Risk a Flood

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Test the Sump Pump or Risk a Flood

It’s easy to forget about your sump pump, but it’s important to make sure it’s in good working order. If you don’t, you could end up like the homeowner who returned from a weekend trip to discover his entire basement floor covered in 1/2 in. of water. After shutting down the power, he waded over to the sump pump and noticed it wasn’t working. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the cable attached to the float must have gotten tangled somehow. It took him two seconds to untangle the cable, and then he spent the next 15 hours dragging out waterlogged carpet, running the wet/dry vac and moving fans around. To avoid a similar disaster, be sure your pump has a vertical float switch. Also, check your pump at least a couple times a year by dumping water into the basin to make sure everything is working properly.

Check for High Water Pressure or Wreck Fixtures and Appliances

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Check for High Water Pressure or Wreck Fixtures and Appliances

A technician was assisting a water softener installer who was replacing a fairly new softener because the first one had ruptured and filled the pipes with little zeolite beads.

The installer didn’t seem too worried about why the first one failed, but the assistant did a little investigating. A water pressure test gave a reading of more than 110 lbs. psi. The culprit was the 20-year-old pressure-reducing valve. After a new valve was installed, the pressure went down to about 75 lbs. Pressure-reducing valves are usually found near the main water shutoff valve, but not all homes have them. It depends on your municipality.

High water pressure can harm pipes, connections, and appliances. It also creates water hammer and waste massive amounts of water. Checking for high water pressure is an often overlooked maintenance item, and one that’s easy enough to perform. A new pressure-reducing valve and a simple pressure gauge like this one that hooks up to a spigot or laundry tub faucet are both available at home centers.


Clean Window Weep Holes or Invite Rainwater Into Your House

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Clean Window Weep Holes or Invite Rainwater Into Your House

Many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows have weep holes on the exterior bottom of the frame. These holes are designed to drain away rainwater that can collect in the frame’s bottom channel. Weep holes can get plugged with bugs and debris, and if that happens, water could fill up the channel and spill over into your house.

To see if your weep system is working, simply pour a glass of water into the track or spray the outside of the window with a garden hose. If you don’t see a steady stream of clean water exiting the weep hole, poke a wire hanger into the hole, or spray it out with compressed air, and wet it down again. If the little flapper (designed to keep out driving wind) is stuck shut, it can be removed with a putty knife and replaced.

Are you wondering when to replace everything in your home? Check out our list to find out how often you should replace things in your home.


Clean Refrigerator Coils or Pay Unnecessary Repair Bills

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Clean Refrigerator Coils or Pay Unnecessary Repair Bills

Refrigerator condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. When coils are clogged with dust, pet hair and cobwebs, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge. Clean the coils with a coil-cleaning brush and vacuum. A coil-cleaning brush, which is bendable to fit in tight areas, does a thorough job. Look for one online or at appliance stores. For tips on repairing your refrigerator (without a service call), check out our guide.


Keep Window Wells Clean or Risk a Broken Window and Wet Basement

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Keep Window Wells Clean or Risk a Broken Window and Wet Basement

If you’ve never had a problem with water in a window well, you may never think to clean it out. Here’s what happened to one homeowner who neglected his window wells. After an average rainfall, not even a heavy downpour, a clogged gutter dumped a lot of water next to his house and into his window well. The leaves in the well acted like a pool liner, preventing drainage, and the water level rose higher and higher until the pressure broke the basement windows. Gallons and gallons of water poured into the basement, ruining everything in sight. Unfortunately, he had no insurance coverage for that type of flood. Don’t let this happen to you. Keep window wells clean with a cover, available at home centers.
FAMILY HANDYMAN

Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater or Expect a Shortened Life Span

A distraught homeowner called a plumber because her water heater wasn’t heating, and furthermore, it was leaking. Right away, the plumber asked if the homeowner had been draining some of the water from it every year. The puzzled homeowner said, ‘No. Why?’ It turns out that sediment will collect at the bottom of the tank. This creates hot spots on gas-powered heaters that can damage the tank and cause premature failure. On an electric water heater, sediment buildup can cause the lower heating element to fail. So, occasionally draining a water heater will lower energy bills and extend its life. We recommend draining water heaters at least once a year.


Lube Garage Door Springs or Replace Them Sooner Rather Than Later

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Lube Garage Door Springs or Replace Them Sooner Rather Than Later

Coat the overhead torsion springs mounted above roller tracks with a garage door lubricant. All springs will eventually break because of metal fatigue and/or corrosion, but lubing them at least once a year will make them last longer. Spraying can be messy; it’s smart to protect the wall behind the spring with a piece of cardboard. Garage door lubricant is available at home centers. Lube the rollers, hinges and track while you’re at it. Learn more garage door maintenance tips.


Check for Mice Nests or Risk Damaged Equipment

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Check for Mice Nests or Risk Damaged Equipment

Mice love to winter in enclosed places like engine compartments, window A/C units and lawn tractor nooks and crannies. If a vehicle or piece of equipment has been sitting unused for a while, check for mice nests before you start it up. The last thing you want to do is take out your boat and discover that you have little furry stowaways that have chewed through half the wires. Mice nests can also cause electronics to overheat and can get sucked into and clog carburetors.


Clean Dryer Vents or Waste Energy and Risk a Fire

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Clean Dryer Vents or Waste Energy and Risk a Fire

A plugged dryer vent will cause your dryer to run inefficiently, and that’s bad. A plugged dryer vent could also cause a house fire, and that could be deadly! Dryers that are centrally located in houses are most prone to plugging because of the longer ducts. Excess lint is only one reason ducts get clogged; nesting pests and stuck exhaust hood flappers can also cause backups. Stronger odors and longer dry times are two signs your vent is plugged. You’ll have to remove the vent from the back of the dryer to clean it. Suck debris from the ducts with a wet/dry vac, or ream them out with a cleaning kit that includes a brush on a long flexible rod that attaches to a power drill. The kits are available at home centers. If your ducts need replacing, get smooth metal ducts, which will stay cleaner longer than the rough corrugated surface of flexible ducts. Avoid plastic ducting altogether; it can be a fire hazard. Plus: Slash Heating Bills

Check Garage Door Balance or Wreck Your Opener

FAMILY HANDYMAN

Check Garage Door Balance or Wreck Your Opener

A properly balanced door is less likely to injure someone or something and keeps the door opener from working too hard, which will shorten its life.

To check the balance on a door, close the door and then disengage the opener by pulling the opener release handle. Manually pull up the door about halfway and let go. A properly balanced door will stay in the halfway position by itself. If it falls, the tension needs to be increased. If the door rises, the door spring has too much tension, which means it’s working harder than it needs to.

Check the door a couple times a year. Adjusting the spring tension is tricky and dangerous. Call a garage door professional to perform the service, or see advanced garage door repairs.

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