Winter took its sweet time getting to Wyoming this year (we usually get snow before Halloween), but when it finally appeared the first week of February it wasn’t messing around. Over the span of three days, about six inches of snow fell and temperatures refused to climb above zero, sometimes even dropping to -38F with the wind chill. I truly feel sorry for those poor penguins in Antarctica who huddle en masse for a month or more of 40 below conditions.
The cold and snow is nothing new in my neck of the woods; I was only surprised it didn’t come sooner. We’ve had a much warmer than average winter so far. Usually by February, I am fed up with it all and ready for warmer weather, but this year I felt like I had no right to complain. Spring is only a few weeks away, and I was beginning to feel really strange about only seeing snow once a month since a brief flurry back in October.
In keeping with my better than usual winter spirits, I tried to think of things I had put off doing since it wasn’t cold enough yet. Here’s what I did to keep busy between episodes of bundling up to shovel the walks:
- Clean the oven.
- If your oven has a self-cleaning feature, like mine, it will get upwards of 500 degrees in order to burn off all food residue. While this prospect is unthinkable in the summer, it’s the perfect way to add a little more heat to your home on a snowy winter day.
- Bake a pie.
- I had a few apples lying around, and there’s nothing better than comfort food in the dark of winter. Forgive yourself the calories (it’s 40 below, after all!) and tap into your caveman (or cavewoman) roots by shoring up a little extra fat. Plus, the oven will help warm your home.
- Make chicken noodle soup on the stove.
- Hot foods are a must on cold, wintry days. Sure, you could settle for a casserole or enchiladas, but there’s nothing like chopping up your own carrots and celery and slow-cooking it on the stove with chicken, broth, and herbs for a warming dinner.
- Clean the kitchen drawers.
- You’re stuck inside the house, so you might as well tackle some of those deep-clean projects before yard work takes over in the spring. That means taking everything out of kitchen drawers and wiping the interior. You can also dust ceiling fans, vacuum or launder curtains and in between sofa cushions, go through old clothes to donate, and deep clean the fridge.
- Rearrange furniture.
- It’s the perfect time to reset your space. You won’t get too sweaty from hauling around a couch or bed, like you might in the summertime, and you’ll have plenty of time to sweep, mop, or vacuum the floor where it once stood. We finally moved our son’s crib out of our room and rearranged the bedroom set. It feels like a whole new bedroom!
- Watch TV without feeling guilty.
- In the summer, of course, we spend lots of time at the park or in the backyard, but that’s impossible during the coldest of winter days. As a parent, it can be difficult to justify having the TV on all day and not feel like a bad person. Am I being present enough? Should we find another book to read? When you’ve exhausted your list of reading, games, and chores, give the kids an afternoon (or a whole day!) of TV and don’t feel bad about it. Once in a while surely won’t rot their brains. Bonus points if you can find a movie to watch together.
- Wash all the laundry and bedding.
- This is in the same vein as “clean the kitchen drawers”, above. If you’re stuck in the house, you might as well run that washer and dryer. This applies not only to human bedding but also to pet bedding! (If you typically make the trek elsewhere to do laundry, this one might not be for you.)
- Stay in your pajamas.
- What better excuse?
- Get dressed up.
- Or, go the opposite of the above and dress to the nines. It’s a great time to try on outfits and see what goes with what, or find some new makeup looks to test out. You could also practice French braiding your hair or any other elaborate looks you wouldn’t normally have time to try. If you’re staying home, you can experiment to your heart’s delight without worrying about any spectators.
- Make a meal in the crock pot.
- There’s nothing quite like having a simmering pot of deliciousness on all day while you await dinnertime. The slow cooker can be handy on days you’re off running errands or at work, of course, but it can also be utilized when you’re just lazing around the house. If you’ve opted to stay in your pajamas, you might not want to cook an elaborate dinner. Try throwing in a roast with carrots and potatoes, or make some drip beef (French Dips). Serve it on toasted hoagie rolls with cheese along with French fries on the side.
I know most of us have been stuck at home for almost a year by now because of COVID, so you might think you’ve done everything you can possibly do while trapped in the house. I thought so, too, but being physically trapped in the house with a wind chill that could cause frostbite in as little as twenty minutes sparked a little creativity. With any luck, we won’t have to stay at home much longer, and these ideas will be just as handy when the snow comes down next winter.