ith lengthening days and milder temperatures in many parts of the country, April is a wonderful time to freshen up the home inside and out. To get sparkling windows, a clutter-free garage and more, here are 16 tasks to make the most of the first full month of spring.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Keep mosquitoes at bay. Having warmer weather and longer days means we’re entering mosquito season. Take preventative measures by regularly checking your property for standing water and emptying it. Any open containers (empty flowerpots and saucers, a wheelbarrow) can become mosquito breeding grounds when filled with rainwater, so store items like these upside down or in a shed.
2. Inspect paths and driveway. Repeated freezing and thawing can take a toll on asphalt and concrete. Check your driveway and paths for cracks, scheduling repairs as needed.
3. Clean out trash cans and recycling bins. Take empty cans outside and spray them with a hose to start. Spritz inside and out with the cleaning spray of your choice. Let the bins sit for a few minutes before scrubbing them with a stiff-bristle brush. Rinse with the hose and leave them upside down to dry.
4. Check safety devices. Test batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, replacing them as needed. It’s also a good idea to periodically check for recalls of your home safety products; you can find up-to-date listings at Recalls.gov.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend 5. Clear clutter. Create more space in your home by clearing out unloved items. If you have a lot to get rid of, set a date to hold a yard sale. Or contact a local charity to schedule a pickup — some will send a truck free of charge if you’re donating large items like furniture. If you have a lot of one type of item (for example, books or baby clothes), look for a consignment shop in your town where you may be able to sell them.
6. Schedule cooling-system maintenance. If you have central air conditioning, be sure to schedule professional maintenance before the start of summer. A properly maintained system cools better, uses less energy and lasts longer.
7. Spruce up the front porch. Clean the porch floor, exterior windows, windowsills and front door. Wipe cobwebs from the ceiling and high corners. Lay down a fresh doormat, and plant a pot of flowers. If you have porch furniture, clean it off and wash the cushions.
8. Test sprinklers and irrigation system. Don’t let the first sign of a malfunctioning irrigation system be a drooping garden! Take the time this month to test each part, adjusting or repairing as needed. And if you don’t already have drip irrigation for your garden, consider putting it in — a properly installed system can save time and water.
9. Wash windows. Welcome the spring sunshine by clearing dirt and grime from windows inside and out. After cleaning the glass, take an extra moment to wipe the window frame and sill.
10. Clean and inspect screen doors and windows. Pollen and grime can also build up on window screens, so it’s a good idea to clean them once a year. For a quick cleaning, leave screens in place and vacuum with a dusting attachment. For a deeper cleaning, remove screens (mark which is which if cleaning multiple windows) and gently scrub with warm, soapy water. Rinse and let dry.
Before putting up window screens and screen doors, inspect each one for holes and rips — even small tears can let in mosquitoes. If you find any holes, repair them with a screen patch kit (available at most hardware stores).
11. Clean out the garage. Can you park your car in your garage? If not (or if it’s a tight fit), it may be time to make some more space.
Clear out the junk, and schedule time to take unused paint, motor oil and other hazardous items to a recycling center that accepts them. (If you’re not sure where to go, search Earth911 to find a center near you.) Once your garage is cleaned out, consider adding wall-mounted storage to keep things neat and off the floor.
12. Wash siding. Using a regular garden hose, attach a siding cleaning kit (available at most home improvement stores) to clear away winter grime from your home’s siding. If your siding could use a really deep cleaning, it can be tempting to use a pressure washer to get the job done quickly. But if you do, use it with care: Consumer Reports advises avoiding any pressure washer that comes with a 0-degree nozzle, because it can be too dangerous (to you and your house) and wider nozzles can get the job done just as well.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month 13. Clean gutters and downspouts. Having your home’s gutters and downspouts cleaned (and repaired if necessary) is one of the first important tasks to schedule this season. Clogged gutters during a rainy spring can cause water to pool, potentially damaging the roof and siding.
14. Boost curb appeal. Spring is a wonderful time to make upgrades to your home’s exterior, and even small changes — like putting up bold house numbers and a shiny new mailbox — can make a big impact.
If you’re planning to put your house on the market this spring, increasing curb appeal can help lure in potential buyers, making it especially important.
15. Maintain wood decks and fences. Keep outdoor woodwork in top shape by staining or resealing it each spring. Check gates, fencing, decks, railings, pergolas and other outdoor structures, and make repairs as needed.
16. Keep an eye out for termites. From now through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites.” If you notice any, call a licensed professional pest-control company.
The commercial real estate market in the Lower Mainland saw fewer sales and lower dollar volumes in 2018 compared to recent years.
There were 2,266 commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland in 2018, a 13.6 per cent decrease from 2,624 sales in 2017, according to data from Commercial Edge, a commercial real estate system operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
The total dollar value of commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland reached $15.622 billion in 2018, a 5.2 per cent decrease from $16.483 billion in 2017.
“Demand in the Lower Mainland’s commercial real estate market changed pace in 2018,” said Ashley Smith, REBGV president. “While dollar volumes remained up near the highs we’ve experienced in recent years, we’ve seen reduced demand in line with slower economic growth and rising interest rates.”
2018 activity by category
Land:There were 861 commercial land sales in 2018, which is a 20 per cent decrease from the 1,076 land sales in 2017. The dollar value of land sales was $8.281 billion in 2018, an 8 per cent decrease from $9 billion in 2017.
Office and Retail:There were 815 office and retail sales in the Lower Mainland in 2018, which is down 9.2 per cent from the 898 sales in 2017. The dollar value of office and retail sales was $4.647 billion in 2018, a 2.8 per cent decrease from $4.781 billion in 2017.
Industrial:There were 489 industrial land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2018, which is down 7.7 per cent from the 530 sales in 2017. The dollar value of industrial sales was $1.441 billion in 2018, an 11.7 per cent increase from $1.290 billion in 2017.
Multi-Family:There were 101 multi-family land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2018, which is down 15.8 per cent from 120 sales in 2017. The dollar value of multi-family sales was $1.253 billion in 2018, a 11.2 per cent decrease from $1.411 billion in 2017.
In Iran, the idea of “spring cleaning” isn’t just a seasonal excuse to gut your closet; it’s the basis of a national holiday dating back millennia.
Every year, millions celebrate Persian New Year, or Nowruz (prounced “no-rooz”). In Iran, the new year begins with the advent of spring, and most everyone in the country — not to mention the millions of Iranians and non-Iranians who celebrate the holiday elsewhere around the world — observe it by doing a deep clean of their homes, celebrating a season of new life, and wishing for good luck in the year ahead.
You might have heard about Nowruz peripherally. The United Nations formally recognized it as an international holiday in 2010; President Obama extended Nowruz greetings to observers every year of his administration since 2009 (although they often doubled as statements on the relationship between the United States and Iran). Then-first lady Michelle Obama even held a Persian New Year celebration at the White House in 2015, complete with the Obama family’s own haft-seen (more on what a haft-seen is later).
If you didn’t grow up celebrating Nowruz like I did, though, the concept might be confusing — actually, it was even a little confusing for me, since my childhood memories of Persian New Year mostly concerned salivating over the delicious rice dish my mother would make in its honor.
But once I started to learn more about what Nowruz means outside of food — which, to be fair, is an important part of most holidays on this planet — I realized how fascinating its layered traditions really are.
What is Nowruz?
Nowruz marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one, and it occurs on the day of the vernal equinox.
More accurately, the new year begins the second the equinox does — so, not just at the stroke of midnight. Usually, the equinox happens from March 19 to 21; this year, Nowruz lands in the evening of March 20. (Though if you’re an expat Iranian, the equinox arrives around 12 pm Eastern.) But there are also aspects of Nowruz that permeate Persian culture for weeks leading up to the holiday and even a couple of weeks afterward.
No one knows exactly how far back Nowruz dates. The best estimates sit somewhere in the range of 3,000 years. But the most important thing to know about Nowruz’s origin story is that it’s rooted in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that predates both Christianity and Islam. (Since Zoroastrianism dates back thousands of years, it’s hardly confined to within the borders of Iran or the many versions of the Persian Empire there have been — which is why Nowruz is also celebrated by millions of non-Iranians around the world.)
When the 1979 revolutionended with Persia becoming the Islamic Republic of Iran, the new government tried to scale back the level to which Nowruz is celebrated, citing the holiday’s pre-Islamic roots as grounds for its removal. But even in a nation that was fragmented to the point of revolt, the prospect of losing Nowruz prompted furious pushback that was too overwhelming to brush aside.
After thousands of years in the making, Nowruz remains too beloved, universal, and deeply embedded in Persian culture to ignore.
And because the holiday has been around for so long, it suffers no shortage of related traditions. But there are nevertheless a few basic, foundational tenets that nearly everyone who celebrates Nowruz — in Iran and elsewhere — upholds.
How do you prepare for Nowruz?
People start getting ready for Nowruz about three weeks before the actual vernal equinox. Pretty much everyone goes into serious spring-cleaning mode, ridding their homes of any unnecessary clutter and lingering grime that’s settled in over the past year so they can start fresh. At this time of year in Iran, you’re likely to see countless Persian rugs hanging outside, where their owners can beat the dust out of them.
In these same weeks leading up to the actual day, families also set aside a space for a “haft-seen,” or a collection of items that symbolize a different hope for the new year. While some familiesadd their own variations to the haft-seen (more on those in a bit), there are seven things that are always included:
Sabzeh: Some kind of sprout or grass that will continue to grow in the weeks leading up to the holiday, for rebirth and renewal
Senjed: Dried fruit, ideally a sweet fruit from a lotus tree, for love
Sib: Apples, for beauty and health
Seer: Garlic, for medicine and taking care of oneself
Samanu: A sweet pudding, for wealth and fertility
Serkeh: Vinegar, for the patience and wisdom that comes with aging
Sumac: A Persian spice made from crushed sour red berries, for the sunrise of a new day
While these seven S items are the foundation of a haft-seen (which literally means “seven S’s”), the tradition has evolved to the point where there are several other things you can include. For example, when I was growing up, my family’s haft-seens always included a mirror symbolizing reflection, colored eggs for fertility, coins for prosperity, and, if we were feeling ambitious, a live goldfish for new life (an ironic association in my house, where pretty much every goldfish we brought home died immediately).
A Nowruz haft-seen, with plenty of sabzeh in the background. Nini Ordoubadi/Tay Tea
Once you have the seven cornerstones set, the haft-seen is yours to customize. Muslim families will sometimes include a Quran. Sometimes a place of honor will go to a volume of poetry by Hafez, one of Iran’s most beloved poets.
Once the day of Nowruz arrives, it kicks off a 13-day celebration of dinners, family visits, and reflections on the year ahead. On the 13th day, you take the sabzeh that’s been growing in the haft-seen to whatever naturalbody of running water you can find and let it float away, to release the old and usher in the New Year.
My mother, who grew up in Tehran, told me that Nowruz usually saw everyone piling their sabzeh into their cars to head off into the mountains, the better to find a water runoff to set their greens adrift. And even though that meant braving a traffic jam like none other, everyone did it.
But Nowruz isn’t all about cleaning and plant life; other rituals involve fire, money, and — stay with me — banging on pots with spoons
Though my family always assembled a Nowruz haft-seen, I grew up in New Jersey without many other Iranians around, so we couldn’t indulge in some of the more communal traditions — which is a shame, because they sound fun.
The last Tuesday before Norwuz is known as shab-e chahar shanbeh suri (a loose translation from Persianinto phonetic English), or “Eve of Red Wednesday.” The day involves building public bonfires, jumping over them, and repeating a single phrase: “Zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man!” This roughly translates to, “Give me your beautiful red color, and take back my sickly pallor!”
The idea, in keeping with Nowruz’s overarching theme of renewal, is to cleanse away the past year so you can start the new one refreshed and renewed.
Children and elders make out especially well during Nowruz. At the beginning of the 13-day celebration, families will gather at the home of their oldest family member to pay their respects. Children will walk up to houses with cooking pots in hand, bang on those pots with spoons, and not let up until someone comes out and puts something sweet in the pots. (Like an Iranian version of Halloween, except you don’t have to dress up as a vampire to get your candy; you just demand what’s yours.)
Finally, children will receive monetary gifts in the form of fresh banknotes from their parents and other adult family members — again, in keeping with the overarching theme of getting a fresh start.
Okay, it’s all about freshness and renewal. But what about the food?!
Ohh, reader. Let’s talk about food.
If you’re not familiar with Persian cuisine, the very basics are that if you’re invited to an Iranian home for dinner you’ll likely be served some combination of grilled or braised meats and rich stews, flavored by deeply aromatic spices (though not many of them pack much heat) and accompanied by piles upon piles of steamed rice. (Persian rice is the best rice, and I will hear no arguments to the contrary.) For more on Persian food and ceremonies, you can check out Najmieh Batmanglij’s beautiful, thorough cookbook Food of Life.
On the actual day of Nowruz, though, you can expect to see a couple of dishes that are specific to the holiday, often centering on greens and herbs to represent its themes of — say it with me now — freshness and renewal.
The centerpiece of most Nowruz meals will be sabzi polow ba mahi, an herbed rice served with some kind of whitefish. Then you might have a kuku sabzi, which bakes eggs with a whole mess of herbs like dill, cilantro, parsley, fenugreek, tarragon, and more. (My mother helpfully describes kuku sabzi as “an ancient relative of the frittata.”)
No matter what, though, Iranians will always make you more food than you know what to do with — and at the end of the meal, you’ll still wish you could still eat more.
Above all, Nowruz is a celebration of the possibility of new life
As is fitting for Persian and Zoroastrian culture, the ceremonies surrounding Nowruz center on community, family, and a deep respect for tradition.
But Nowruz is less about a single day than a general celebration of being able to wipe away the dust, grime, and sadness of the old in order to start anew. It’s about closing the door on one chapter and turning the page to the next one with excitement instead of trepidation. It’s about the endless possibilities that come with a blank slate.
The hope of being able to start new, and better, is about as universal as they come — which might explain why Nowruz hasn’t just survived through generation upon generation of tumult and prosperity alike, but thrived.
If you’ve ever wished that your range hood would turn on automatically in response to your cooktop, you’re in luck — a new wave of technology in the kitchen will assist with this and other cooking tasks.
The kitchen of the future was on display at the 2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas in February. Appliance manufacturers showcased products designed to make the kitchen easier to cook in and help connect household members. Even if you’re not ready to adopt this emerging technology in your own kitchen, you can read on to learn where the industry is headed.
The Connected Kitchen Is Coming
One of the major trends we noticed at KBIS and IBS this year was the integration of kitchen appliances with home assistants such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, among others. This is a timely development since there has been a definite uptick in homeowners bringing home assistants into remodeled kitchens. Among homeowners recently upgrading electronics as part of their kitchen renovations, 31 percent added a home assistant, compared with 23 percent the year before, according to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.
As just one example of this trend, Bosch has integrated its wall ovens, hoods and induction cooktops, as well as its refrigerators and dishwashers, with the open-platform Home Connect app. Homeowners can check if their cooktop is on, preheat their wall ovens, monitor the temperature of casseroles in their ovens, get notifications when the meal is ready and more — all remotely from the app. The Home Connect app integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant so that homeowners can do these things through voice commands.
Photo from Bosch
Through Home Connect, homeowners can sync their Bosch cooktops with their Bosch range hoods for automatic deployment when the cooktop is turned on.The Home Connect app can notify homeowners when their fridge or freezer door is open. And when Bosch’s smart dishwasher detects that detergent tabs are running low, the machine automatically reorders detergent through Home Connect’s partnership with Amazon Dash Replenishment. Bosch’s dishwasher even alerts homeowners in case of a leak — and stops operation and pumps water if one occurs.
While Home Connect is an open-platform app — Thermador, Gaggenau, Neff and Siemens also use it — several brands have created their own apps for smart kitchen devices. Signature Kitchen Suite’s app can remotely control the brand’s refrigerators, freezers and ovens. Miele and Dacor have apps for their products. And a host of LG products — kitchen, laundry and vacuum cleaners among them — can be controlled through LG’s open-platform SmartThinQ app or by using voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Photo from GE Appliances
Households Organized Through a Digital Hub
One natural outgrowth of all this tech coming to the kitchen was seen at the show through improved digital family command centers. GE Appliances showcased its Kitchen Hub, pictured. It’s designed to be a family organizing center and control station for the home’s smart devices, as well as a place to stream Netflix while you cook.
Homeowners can use the Kitchen Hub to pull up calendars and schedules, to access thousands of recipes via the integrated SideChef meal-planning app, and to make video calls while cooking. The hub is designed to be placed above the cooktop and has a ventilation system that protects it from heat, steam and grease. Though the product was debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2018, new this year is its integration with Google Assistant.
Photo from Samsung
Samsung debuted a new model of its Family Hub refrigerator with a new digital bulletin board wherehomeowners can write digital sticky notes, place digital photos or doodle directly on the screen. A view-inside feature allows homeowners to see inside their fridges from their smartphones — a useful feature when you’re at the grocery store and can’t remember if you need more milk.
The Family Hub integrates Bixby, Samsung’s home assistant, which homeowners can use to ask for a weather report, call a Lyft or control other smart devices with voice commands. They also can control the home’s connected devices through the refrigerator screen itself.
Photo from Kohler
Faucets That Can Measure Water and Respond to Your Voice
As nice as a digital command center might be, sometimes what you really need is a faucet that can turn itself on or off when your hands are grimy from raw chicken. Enter the Kohler Sensate faucet with Kohler Konnect, pictured, and the Delta Trinsic pull-down faucet with VoiceIQ — twoproducts you can turn on or off with voice commands thanks to integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
With both faucets, you can tell the device to fill your coffeepot, and it will emit the (preprogrammed) proper amount. Delta’s Trinsic line has a touch on-off function, meaning that a simple touch of the hand or wrist turns the faucet on or off, while Kohler’s Sensate has a touchless on-off sensor, so a wave of the hand will do the job.
Photo from American Standard
For those who like the idea of a sink dispensing a specific amount of water but aren’t interested in home assistants, American Standard showcased its Beale MeasureFill Touch kitchen faucet, shown in this photoand introduced at KBIS in 2018, which has a hand dial marked with measurements ranging from a half-cup up to 5 cups. Homeowners can turn the dial and walk away, and the faucet will dispense the exact amount selected.
A cool new product is Grohe’s Blue Chilled & Sparkling 2.0 faucet, which eliminates waste from purchasing bottled water. A push button on the faucet dispenses chilled, filtered water or, if you prefer, sparkling water powered by a carbon dioxide tank installed beneath the sink. The faucet is Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled so that homeowners can track carbon dioxide usage and filter status on the Grohe Ondus app.
Photo from Signature Kitchen Suite
Cooktops and Ovens With More Bells and Whistles
Stove innovations debuted at the shows help homeowners cook their food with greater precision. Signature Kitchen Suite added a 36-inch dual-fuel pro range with a built-in sous vide cooker after debuting a 48-inch version with the industry’s first built-in sous vide cooker, pictured, last year. Sous vide is a cooking technique in which food is placed in a food-gradeplastic pouch or glass jar and submerged in a water bath at a low temperature for a long period of time, and it allows for precise temperature control. The technique preserves flavor and can help home chefs avoid overcooking meat.
The 48-inch cooktop has two induction surfaces that can be used with a griddle, teppanyaki plate or large cookware. It combines an 18-inch steam and convection oven, shown on the left, with a standard 30-inch oven, shown on the right. The 36-inch gas model comes in a variety of arrangements, including sous vide with four burners and griddle with four burners.
Photo from Signature Kitchen Suite
Here’s a closer look at the built-in sous vide portion of the cooktop.
The 36- and 48-inch ranges are Wi-Fi-enabled. Homeowners can control them remotely — preheat the oven, for instance — through the Signature Kitchen Suite app. Signature also gives customers the option to enroll in a concierge service with Wi-Fi monitoring. The program offers a third year of warranty free, and the company can proactively notify enrolled homeowners when their products need replacement or repair. The company has repair people on call 24/7 and promises completed repairs within 24 to 48 hours.
Wine Gets the Pamper Treatment
For the wine connoisseur, KBIS revealed some exciting developments in wine storage. Dacor’s new 24-inch wine cellar, pictured, holds up to 100 bottles in three independently cooled zones. Each zone has its own sensor to keep the humidity in the ideal 50 percent to 80 percent range, and cooling technology limits temperature fluctuations to just three-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit so that the wine stays at the desired chill level.Anti-vibration mounts keep the wine from jiggling, and an air purification system prevents cork contamination. Homeowners can catalog their wines through Dacor’s IQ Connect app, so they know exactly where their favorite bottle is located within the fridge.
Photo from LG
Another neat kitchen product slated to roll out and featured at KBIS is LG’s HomeBrew, pictured, the industry’s first capsule-based craft beer maker.
Homeowners would use it to make beer by placing four capsules containing malt, yeast, hop oil and flavoring into the machine and pressing start. The HomeBrew makes an American IPA, an American pale ale, a full-bodied English stout, a Belgian-style witbier and a Czech Pilsner, with more beers to come down the road. This smart machine can be controlled remotely using LG’s SmartThinQ app or through voice commands and a home assistant.
The annual pace of housing starts – new housing construction projects – slowed, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), but dropped less than what was expected for the beginning of the year.
It’s too early to say where the Canadian housing market is heading. But we can start tracking its direction by looking at some significant January figures.
Compared with 213,630 units in December, the seasonally adjusted annual rate came in at 207,968 last month. This is slightly higher than the expected annualized pace of 205,000 for January.
The annual pace of urban starts slowed by 2.1% to 190,912 units as single-detached urban starts slumped by 10.4% to 44,559 units. The annual pace of multiple-unit projects such as condos, apartments and townhouses, however, rose by 0.7% to 146,353 units.
In Vancouver, the housing starts were holding steady after trending lower in the second half of last year.
In Toronto, housing starts saw little change, although increasing borrowing costs meant pre-construction sales of new homes remained low. CMHC expects this to result in even fewer units breaking ground this year.
Looking at other regions, CMHC observed housing starts falling in Quebec and rising in Alberta from low levels. Meanwhile, New Brunswick experienced a 33% increase compared to last year. The increase, according to CMHC, largely stemmed from multiple-unit starts.
The Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index slowed by 0.1% last month from December.
Prices declined the most in western Canada’s three biggest housing markets. Slumping oil prices have taken a toll on Alberta home prices, with Edmonton down by 0.8% and Calgary down by 0.5%. Meanwhile, Vancouver home prices dipped by 0.3% – but prices are still not far off from historic highs.
While prices rose in Quebec City (1.3%), Halifax (0.7%), Montreal (0.2%), Toronto (0.1%) and Winnipeg (0.1%), these increases are not enough to swing the national average into positive territory, according to Yahoo Finance.
The number of national home sales rose 3.6% last month from December, but this figure was still below the level seen in January of last year. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said 23,968 properties were sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) last month, down from 24,977 a year earlier.
CREA also reported that the sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR) dropped across most parts of the country last month. SNLR measures the ratio of home sales to the number of new listings on MLS.
Real estate markets in western Canada showed further drops. Fraser Valley experienced the biggest drop with an SNLR of 48.5%, down by 24.2% from last year. Vancouver was second at 43.3%, down by 22.9%. Calgary came in third with an SNLR of 45.9%, down by 8.5%.
Meanwhile, eastern Canadian real estate markets showed annual improvements. Montreal showed the largest gain with an SNLR of 70.1%, up by 6.6% from last year. Ottawa came in second at 70.2%, up by 5.3%. Quebec City rose to 52.6%, up by 0.8%. These three markets outperformed the national average of 54.3%, down by 4.3% from last year.
The first official day of spring is March 20. So whether there’s still snow on the ground or flowers in bloom, you can rest assured that nicer weather is on its way. Usher in the new season with a bit of spring cleaning, some fresh flowers and — if you can get outdoors — a little dirt under your fingernails.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Make mirrors and table lamps shine. Use a duster or soft rags to remove dust from table lamps and wipe down mirrors with a damp microfiber cloth. These freshened-up surfaces will enhance the light throughout your space.
2. Refresh the entryway. As the weather thaws, begin putting away mittens and wool hats and make room for those mucky spring boots. Clean or replace the doormat, clear off the hooks (or hangers, if you have a coat closet) and be sure to put out an umbrella holder stocked for spring showers. A clean boot tray lined with river stones will help water drain away from your footwear.
3. Remove winter layers. Feeling a bit stifled under a pile of thick duvets? Swap out heavy winter bedding for lighter-weight quilts and coverlets. Also consider changing deep-pile rugs for flat-weave or natural-fiber versions for the warmer months.
4. Clean up patio furniture. Outdoor furniture can get really grimy over the winter, so be sure to give everything a good scrubbing before you start using it for the season. Launder washable outdoor cushion covers and replace worn-out pieces if needed.
5. Tune up lawn and garden tools. Sharp tools get the job done. Take your lawn mower and clippers in for a sharpening and tuneup before you begin work in your garden.
6. Clean slipcovers and soft furnishings. Smaller slipcovers and washable rugs can be laundered at home; drop off larger pieces with professionals. When laundering items at home, be sure to read the instructions carefully and err on the side of caution. Most items such as curtains and slipcovers can be put back while damp — for the best fit and to prevent wrinkles.
7. Dust high corners and baseboards. Using a vacuum attachment or the duster of your choice, remove dust and cobwebs from those high and low spots we often miss during routine cleaning.
8. Make a garden plan. There’s still time to get your garden growing! Sketch out a plan and jot down ideas for this year’s plantings, as well as any ideas you have for changes to the hardscape, such as putting in a new path or fence. Start some seeds indoors or pick up seedlings at your local nursery. Check botanical gardens for plant sales too, as these can be great places to find native plants that do especially well in your region.
9. Get ready for tax time. Tax-filing deadline isn’t until April 17 this year, but getting your ducks in a row this month will make things a lot less stressful. Sort through paperwork, update your files and gather all important documents in one place so you’re ready to go.
10. Simplify the table. Cupboards feeling overstuffed? Simplify your life by paring back on dishes and glassware, letting go of mismatched and chipped pieces and sets you no longer love or use often. Keep a basket of fresh cloth napkins within easy reach of the table to make it more convenient than grabbing paper napkins, and invest in a living centerpiece (potted succulents work well) that will stay fresh and green with little maintenance.
11. Spring-clean the kitchen. Give your kitchen a fresh start by cleaning some of the areas we often skip during quick daily tidying: Clean small appliances; wipe grease and grime from the range hood, backsplash and light fixtures; clean grout; and vacuum hard-to-reach places (like under the stove) using an attachment.
12. Streamline meal planning. Collect your favorite recipes in a binder (or online) and come up with several weeks’ worth of meal plans using your go-to favorites, plus shopping lists. When life gets busy, at least you’ll know what’s for dinner.
13. Treat yourself to spring blooms. Spring flowers such as daffodils are plentiful and inexpensive this month, so keep an eye out for bargains. And if you have blooms popping up in the garden, why not snip a few to enjoy indoors?
14. Plant a tree. Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees because wet weather and cooler temperatures make it easier for root systems to get established. Be sure to check with a nursery to determine which species will do best in your microclimate and to get detailed planting instructions. If your area has a late date of last frost, you may need to wait until all threat has passed before planting.
15. Inspect your home’s exterior for winter damage and make repairs as needed. Once winter storms have passed, carefully inspect the exterior of your home. If you had an ice dam on your roof during the winter, now is the time to repair any damage it caused. Ice dams form when the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions (where more insulation sits below the roof), causing ice to form around the eaves. The best way to prevent them is by upgrading insulation and ventilation in the attic.
"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi
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