Celebrating the Great Indoors

With record low temperatures throughout the eastern half of the United States and snow falling as far south as Florida, many people are finding they suddenly have a lot of indoor time to fill this winter. You can curse the cold and simply endure it in front of the TV, or you can make the most of that time.

There isn’t as much going on during the winter months, meaning you’ll have lots of time to tackle household projects that got pushed aside during the other seasons. Do you have a shelf to install, a socket to rewire, or a room to paint? Now’s the time to tackle some of those indoorsy tasks.

Consider getting a head start on your spring cleaning—that’s one ever-present indoor project that doesn’t have a minimum temperature. Start with a room or a closet and sort everything in it into “keep,” “donate” and “trash” piles. Contact ClothingDonations.org to pick up the donations, and you’ll help fund veterans’ programs nationwide.

Cold weather is linked to more focused brain activity and greater productivity, so winter is a great time make plans. “Take advantage of the long, quiet, dark nights to review the past year and set relevant, challenging goals for the year ahead,” the Lifehack blog says.

You also can use your extra indoor time to start a new hobby, take a class or try out new recipes (with the bonus of warming the kitchen while you cook). There are lots of activities that can keep you entertained while you’re snowed in, Wisebread says.

There’s nothing wrong with a little hibernating, of course. Embrace the season by following the Norwegian concept of koselig: Build a fire in the fireplace, take a hot bath, make hot chocolate (or hot toddies), and pile on the blankets. Invite your friends over to share in your newfound ski-lodge sensibility.

If you just can’t take the snow and ice any longer, plan a vacation. Not only will it give you a sense of purpose, the anticipation of adventure will make the days go by faster. If you escape to a warm and sunny spot, though, be prepared for the letdown of returning to more frigid temperatures.

Whatever you choose to do with your extra time in the great indoors, simply looking at it as a gift and not a burden will help you cope with the worst that winter has to offer. Stay warm!

Take Home Winterizing to the Next Level

Now that you’ve bought a programmable thermostat and replaced the furnace filters, it’s time to take your winterization to the next level. If you plan on using your fireplace, get it swept and stockpile wood, says The Balance blog; if not, install a chimney balloon to block downdrafts. Remember to get winter-specific equipment such as snowblowers, snow shovels and road salt ready for the onslaught of ice and snow, while also draining summer equipment such garden hoses, lawnmowers and air conditioners to prevent freezes and failures. Then, settle in for a safe and toasty winter!

Prepare for Six More Weeks of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his Pennsylvania burrow last week and saw his shadow, indicating — however unscientifically — that there will be six more weeks of winter. So far, the weather has been relatively mild in the areas of the country that get snow, but if the groundhog is correct, homeowners can look forward to more sloppy, slushy weather.

As noted in previous Quick Tips, snow and salt mean more dirt inside the home. People track through with wet, snowy shoes and boots, releasing a muddy mess onto the floors. Whether you have wood, tile or carpeted floors, a little meltwater can make them look dingy fast; if left unchecked, those stains can ruin them.

To protect your floors, first clean them completely, then place a tray or throw rug at each entrance to your home. Direct your friends and family members (politely but unflinchingly), to leave their snow-caked shoes and boots in that designated area, and your home will stay cleaner throughout the season.

Dust buildup is another problem in a closed-up, heated home. Wipe down ceiling fans, picture frames, electronics and other flat surfaces, and vacuum thoroughly. You’ll probably be spending much of the next six weeks indoors, and you don’t want to spend it sneezing.

When those tasks are done, you can take advantage of your indoor downtime by starting on a few of Style Guide’s 12 Winter Cleaning Ideas. First up? Going through your clothes and deciding what to keep. “If you haven’t worn it in two years and/or it makes you feel guilty, it’s a giveaway,” the story says. Bag those items up and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup.

Other areas that could use some “cleaning” before spring include your budget, the site suggests. Tax time is coming up, and there’s no better time to plan out expenditures for the year ahead. Speaking of taxes, now is the time to gather up all of your receipts from last year so that you or your accountant can crunch the numbers. (Remember, that clothing donation is deductible!)

At the same time, organize paperwork and digital files so that you can continue to find the information you need when you need it. If you decide you don’t need some of those papers, so much the better: Toss them in the recycling bin.

If the weather is still miserable when you’re done with these tasks, you can get a head start on your spring cleaning by attacking some of the more detailed household chores such as cleaning windows, grout and upholstery. By the time you emerge from your burrow next month, you’ll be able to enjoy the warmer weather with a clean, organized home!

Shovel-Readiness Key to a Clean Home

When it comes to keeping snow, salt and the resulting dirt out of your house, a good offense is the best defense. Prepare for shoveling by placing guide rods in front of plant beds along the sidewalks and driveway, 1st Class Cleaning says, and stay on top of snowfall by shoveling early and often. Sand helps prevent slippage, but again, be sure to provide a place where dirty shoes and boots can stay before they track dirt throughout the house.