Jason Robie: Helpful hibernation

By Jason Robie
'Tis the season ... to hibernate! In case you haven't checked the forecast, although we aren't approaching those inevitable nostril-freezing temperatures, it's going to be chilly this weekend. I can't think of a better excuse to make some chili and watch a fantastic football game.
I also find the winter months to be perfect for checking off a few items on my "to-do" list inside the home. I love being outdoors and, as you know, love the winter. But, there are some weekends when holing up in the house is just what the doctor ordered. This week, I'd like to offer a few suggestions on how to keep yourself busy and actually tackle projects that will help your home.
I've just started reading "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. About two weeks ago, a good friend recommended it and my honey said she owned it. Two weeks later, unable to put her cute little hands on it, I went to the library and grabbed it for myself. You know I'm a stickler for decluttering and your bookcase is no different.
A cold winter's weekend is a perfect time to rip everything off those shelves and put it all back together with a more organized approach. And yes, there's a fantastic chance that you'll end up with a good-sized box of items that can be brought to your local library for donation. I promise they'll be happy to see you. Maybe next time I'm looking for a book, you'll know exactly where it is.
Another of my favorite winter projects is painting. I don't necessarily think you should re-paint a room just because you're bored, but spicing up a spare bedroom or giving your home office a new look and feel is a great project when you don't feel like battling the elements.
If you've got a hankering for some more strenuous work, consider removing that awful popcorn ceiling in one of the rooms in your home. It's nearly impossible to paint and will most assuredly turn off any potential buyers since they will have to add that to their to-do list if they make an offer.
We've talked about the kitchen before as well, but it bears repeating. Re-painting your cabinets (even just in a bathroom) is a great, easy and inexpensive way to re-face a room.
My brother tackled this next project in his home over in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, last fall. He immediately saw a decrease in his propane usage and had a happier wallet to show for his work. He re-insulated the area above his ceiling. In his case, this was a single-story ranch home. He was able to access all four corners of the home with some creative placement of smaller pieces of plywood placed atop the ceiling beams. This allowed him to walk/crawl around the attic space and place the insulation as he backed his way out. Not everyone will enjoy such easy access to this area, but what an amazing difference it will make and the effort necessary is not that great (although he may have a different opinion of that last part!).
"Anything you can do to better insulate your home and increase its energy efficiency is going to pay dividends in both the short and long term," Badger Realty agent Kevin Killourie said. "Attic insulation, sealing leaks around windows and doors, closing doors to unused rooms and even shutting the chimney flue when it's not in use can all contribute to a more efficient home."
As a kid I was of the opinion that if I was just going to get dirty again tomorrow, what is the purpose of taking a bath today? Obviously, Mom did not agree with my rationale and always won the argument as I ended up in the tub.
In New Hampshire, we appreciate the clean, dry roads that the road salt and chemicals afford us, but we pay the price in our rotting vehicles and the wear and tear on our homes as we track that stuff into the house. A really good weekend project is to give your entryway a deep clean to remove all of the errant salt crystals and other gritty items from the floor (and probably walls) of that area. It will look better to start with, and it will provide a little respite for the floors from the continued abuse.
One of my favorite things about our house is the garage. I know — big surprise. The best part is it has a little workshop/furnace room off to one side. This is also an area, the garage itself included, that I love to spend nasty-weather weekends just tidying up and cleaning. If the weather is nice, I'm simply grabbing my bike or my snowshoes and running out the door. This storage area gets neglected of any upkeep, decluttering or cleaning. If you have a similar area in your home, take the weekend to cull it out and get it organized and ready for your next adventure. You and your gear will both appreciate it.
Lastly, if you're going to stow yourself away this weekend and putter around the house, swing by the florist and grab a few bunches of fresh flowers. I know this sounds silly if you intend to spend your weekend in the garage. But trust me, you will appreciate the taste of spring and the flowers will bring fresh scent to the home. That might be exactly what you need after a weekend of cleaning, painting and eating chili. Go, Pats!