February is a perfect time of year to indulge in home comforts like cooking big-batch meals, reading in the afternoon and watching movies with the family at night. Here are nine ideas to add to your to-do list this month, from the must-dos (clearing sidewalks of snow and ice) to the just-for-fun (treating yourself to weekly flowers).
1. Keep sidewalks and entryways free of ice and snow (even while you’re away). Ice and snow can make walkways dangerous for visitors. Aim to shovel snow promptly, and sprinkle gravel, straw or wood chips to provide traction. And if you plan to be out of town during a winter storm, hire someone to clear the sidewalk and front steps of your home while you are away. Your neighbors and mail carrier will thank you!
2. Start planning for a spring or summer home sale. If you are considering putting your home on the market this year, it’s a good idea to start the process now. Set a timetable, interview potential real estate agents and make a list of home projects that need to get done to help your home show well.
3. Clean entryway floors. Road salt and melting snow can give entryway floors a beating. Pick up clutter and give floors a good mopping. To keep floors looking their best between cleanings, stash a few old towels in a basket near the door to wipe up messes.
4. Organize bookshelves. Pull volumes that you didn’t enjoy or are finished with, and sell or donate them, leaving a bit of extra room on each shelf for new titles. And if you get distracted by beloved old books you had forgotten all about, just roll with it. After all, there’s no better place to spend a winter afternoon than in a favorite chair with a good book.
5. Refresh your movie-watching zone. Winter is a good time to catch up on movies you missed in the theater or to binge-watch your favorite shows. So why not make your movie-watching zone as comfy and cozy as possible? Start by vacuuming the floors and upholstery (using a vacuum attachment) and by clearing away clutter. Next, assess your collection of movies and games, donating extras to charity. Finally, make sure there are plenty of comfortable pillows and throws, plus lighting that can be dimmed.
6. Cook to stock up your freezer. A few hours of cooking on a weekend can create major dividends if you focus your efforts on making big-batch suppers that can be frozen and reheated later. Knowing that you have homemade soup, stew, chili or casseroles in the freezer makes facing weeknight dinners much less stressful. Just add crusty bread and a simple salad, and dinner will be ready with little effort.
7. Boost warmth. Stay toasty and save on energy bills by blocking drafty doors with door sweeps or door snakes, and warming up with rugs, throws and duvets. For even more energy savings, shut doors to unused rooms, move furniture away from heating vents, and close the chimney flue when it’s not in use.
8. Check bathrooms for moisture, mildew and mold. It can be hard to give bathrooms enough ventilation when the house is closed up tight for winter. Unfortunately, that buildup of moisture can lead to mildew or even harmful molds. Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, paying special attention to grout, the ceiling and any other areas showing signs of excess moisture.
9. Indulge in weekly fresh flowers. With Valentine’s Day this month, the markets will be filled with fresh flowers at good prices. Treat your home to a bouquet of fresh-cut blooms once a week to add a little cheer — spring may still be a little way off, but that doesn’t mean your dining table can’t look like a garden in bloom!