February 3, 2015

10 Things to do in February

We've been blanketed with another round of snow. After being snow-deprived for almost a month, January has more than made up for the loss. It's a good thing I like winter! Although this time of year, especially towards the end of the month, I can start to grow tired of the snow just thinking about how long it's going to take to melt. But I don't want to rush the seasons; I like to enjoy them when they arrive. I hope you're enjoying your winter.

1. Build a snow fort or igloo. I know I mentioned lots of things you can do in the snow last month, but it's been a long time since any of us has done this particular activity and it's so much fun. I think the last time was two winters ago. Once the girls and I made our own forts, we had a snowball fight and it was a blast. I just saw fb pictures of my twenty-something nephew building one with his dad this past weekend and it looked like they had a great time, too. And did you see the photo of Kate jumping off the Public Garden bridge into a pile of snow? If you have to shovel it, you might as well enjoy it!

2. Don't rush spring. But it's certainly okay to start planning for it. For example, I keep up greenery and white lights after the holidays and still bring in fresh winter greens to decorate my home. But I've already started to take down some of the greenery to begin lightening my home décor. In the winter months, I pile on textures, colors, and collectibles, but once the days grow longer, I simply pare down little by little. I prefer this approach. It helps me transition between seasons while still being able to appreciate them.

3. Get a head start on spring cleaning. Once the weather is good, I don't want to be stuck indoors, so this is the time that I like to start pulling things out of cabinets, closets, and my basement. Start small. If you have an hours worth of time that's all you need to go through the contents of your medicine cabinet, linen closet, and/or vanity in a bathroom. If you buy more than one item of something, like soap, consider only keeping a few bars in the bathroom and store the rest on pantry shelves in the basement.

4. Get a handle on paper clutter. Because we heat primarily with wood (and bio bricks) I like to burn as much paper as I can. We save a few newspapers to start the fires, but the rest, along with magazines and catalogs, go off to the recycling center. Letters, bills, and papers that don't need to be filed are either shredded or burned. I find I accumulate a lot of paper clutter this time of year because I'm so busy with other things it just piles up. Once it's gone, find an organizational system that works for you so you can take care of it right away.

5. Enjoy game night. You can do this any time of year of course, but we find it's a great way to spend an evening or a snowy afternoon. Oftentimes, we're playing a game with the girls, but just last week, we were invited to dinner at a friend's home, and after having that lovely dinner in front of a fire, our hosts pulled out some games. (Ever here of Hedbanz? You'll look ridiculous, but what better way to get to know new friends. It comes in family and adult versions. We played the family version.)

6. Prepare for Valentine's Day. I'm the first to admit that this holiday gets mixed reviews....even in my house. However, I think that makes it open for interpretationgo totally romantic, get silly, or just acknowledge the day. Read this post from last year for ideas. Want to watch a romantic movie? How about these? (Read tomorrow's post for romantic dinner ideas.)

7. Go out for ice cream. Yes, ice cream! There may be a few half gallons in the freezer, but there's something really fun about going out and indulging in homemade, really good ice cream....especially in the middle of winter. We're fortunate to have two places nearby, Ava Marie's and Kimball Farms (only open during the summer months). We've driven through snowstorms to get our fix. David gets Moosetracks (vanilla with mini reece's peanut butter cups, and fudge chunks), Kate likes Brownie or Strawberry, Amanda loves Death by Chocolate (chocolate with fudge chunks), and I'm the boring one, I like Coffee! (Or Black Raspberry if it's really good.) Read my list of our favorite ice cream places in New England.

8. Hit the movie theatre. For a while, there weren't too many good movies I'd spend money to go see, but this winter, we've seen several.... Into the Woods, American Sniper, Taken 3 (this one was okay). I missed Still Alice so I'll have to wait until it's on DVD. There are quite a few I missed earlier this season that are coming out soon.

9. Make your own hot chocolate. Kate loves to drink this anytime she can and wondered if she'd like a crockpot recipe she read about on Pinterest. (She told me her roommate likes to cook lots of things in a crockpot!) Well, I found several recipes myself and posted them here in December and one of those recipes uses a crockpot. Makes a great Valentine's Day gift, too.

10. Visit a local museum. The MFA is hosting love-themed activities all month long including 2 for 1 admission. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is hosting Member Guest Days from Wednesday-Friday this week. The Institute of Contemporary Art is offering a family film-making workshop on the 8th.

Bonus: Weekend challenge....Use only firelight and candlelight during a weekend to light your home. Turn off all electronics. Grab pillows, blankets, your comfiest PJs, books, and notebooks, and games. Enjoy!

Photo: A shot of my road the day after another storm.