Alright, the plastic has been taken down from all of my windows, the sun is finally coming through and as soon as these first couple of April Showers pass it's time to get after it.
I've done a walk around of my house and these are the eight things I plan on doing.
1. Clean out the car and garage. I tend to do this activity in the same day. I'll pull out the truck into the drive way open up the garage door and start purging. I like to bring the herby-curby around so I can just start throwing away all the trash and things I don't really need. Look, I'm no slob but don't act like you don't have tons of little straw wrappers and receipts crumpled up between the seats. You might even find a french fry or two. Any items I don't actually need in the car like a sweat shirt, gloves or any unfiled paper I'll bring inside. Then I organize what's left and shop vac the car. Shop vacs are really handy for cleaning out the car and you can buy a small one pretty inexpensively.
Now comes the garage. Once again, PURGE. Get rid of the empty ice melt bag, take out the recyclables, return the cans go through things you've been storing and check to make sure they haven't gone bad. Card board boxes get soggy and the paint cans, oh the paint cans.
Let's have a heart to heart here. I know you have paint cans in your garage. I definitely have paint cans in my garage but the sad reality is that paint can't survive the cold winter in your garage. And they certainly don't last a decade. I can't tell you how often I go to a person's home to check out their "touch-up" paint selection and they bring me to this storage shelf of decrepit paint cans. I commonly say things like, "this paint is so old, not only was this line discontinued 10 years ago but this isn't even the last label design they used before discontinuing the line. It's almost vintage."
Paint formulas have changed drastically in the past 5-10 years and so a lot of your old paint doesn't reach the new standards for emissions. If you were to touch up a couple of walls and then needed more paint you may not be able to get the same exact color, even when going to the same store. My recommendation would be to keep smaller quarts of touch up paint, like in the free scuff-b-gone touch up kits we provide, and keep them in-doors in the basement or other storage closet and put a date on it. If your paint has gone bad (more than 4-5 years old), pour kitty litter in the can to dry it out and then throw it in the trash. You can take it to a recycle center to have them recycle it but that can get expensive.
Ok, enough about paint. Back to the garage. Push broom out all of the dirt and salt that accumulated and get all your lawn gear ready. Things like your mower may have a difficult time getting started that first go at the lawn so make sure to get a jump on it before your lawn is out of control. For more on early spring lawn care see "Five Easy Tips to Make Sure Your Lawn Gets a Great Start For the Spring"
2. Power Wash. My house has white vinyl siding like oh so many homes in the Midwest and the winter is cruel to white vinyl. I have to power wash every year. Whether it's mildew, dirt, new pollen or the dog's muddy paws it's gonna need it. But a cool trick I learned last year was to hop on the roof with the power washer and shoot out the gutters. Way easier and less gross than unclogging them by hand. I also like power washing my driveway and sidewalks. Now here is where power washing becomes very important. Especially for those who just painted with us. Dirt, mildew and other elements combined with the sun can really harm the paint that we put on your home. Annual power washing helps the paint or stain last longer. It also flakes away any loose stuff that can be immediately touched up preserving your paint job. The less we have to scrape in 7-10 years when you're ready to repaint the better for everyone, trust me.
3. Inspect Wood. While I'm power washing I may also look at the condition of the wood on my house. The longer you let things go unmaintained the more expensive they tend to be in the future. Note any repairs, rotting or warping. If you have stained wood like a fence or deck that really should be done at least every two to three years. I know that seems pretty often but stain just doesn't last as long as paint and the sun and precipitation is just brutal. But if you maintain the deck or fence consistently you'll have less warping wood which is safer and more cost effective in the long run.
4. Attempt Number 2 at a Garden. This is the year, we're going to start a garden. We tried last year, borrowed the neighbors 1972 electric tiller and failed miserably. We have a nice dirt-patch though! This time around I think we are going to check out a newer tiller from Mother Hubbard's Cupboard which is free and awesome. Or just rent one from a tool rental company if the Hub doesn't have theirs available. If I'm really feeling productive I might put up some boards to raise it a little but BABY STEPS TORLANDO, BABY STEPS. I must eat off the land this year.
5. Plant a Cutting Garden. A lot of our indoor plants go outdoors during the summer to get the deserved sun they need. Cutting gardens are nice because you can bring the outside flowers in. And if you time it right you'll have a different bouquet throughout the entire summer. Throughout my entire bachelor life I only had one plant that died as soon as I got married so I don't have the most green of thumbs but I know my wife appreciates having flowers around and I have to admit it does smell really nice.
6. Finish the Nursery. We've been chipping away at our nursery for a couple of months now. It's getting to crunch time. We have two months left and finishing the Nursery will make it all feel a little more real and we'll feel less anxious about getting it done. I've painted the room and the crib. Check. We bought some wall art, cleared out the closet and took a bunch of things from the old guest room set up to the good will. No we're waiting on the baby shower to see what we get. We'll fill in the rest as we go. Am I nervous, yeah, a little. Is the birthing class overwhelming, absolutely. Do I realize that I'm never going to sleep again, yes. (I promise the next person that tells me that is going to find themselves taking one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind on the moon.)
7. Reorganize Home Office. With the family edition my home office is no longer mine. Another purge is in order and I'll need to make it more of a general family office. That means actually getting rid of those paint cans in the garage, storing some of my equipment from the office, possibly moving in the dog crate and carving out a space for my wife to work. It needs it. I won't lie to you. Sometimes I walk past it and I think "woof". It's that one room of our house where when a guest comes over you have to run across the house to slam the door so they don't see inside. I know that, my wife reminds me of it. I'll get to it. So much time, such little to do! Strike that! REVERSE IT!
8. Save for New Grill. I'm brilliant. A new grill! To be honest I wrote the number 8 in the title before I had 8 ideas. But this last idea just flowed to me from a holy mountain. My current grill is so busted. I can't live another day with out a new grill. I swear, every year I get to the point in winter where I think "why oh why do I live in Bloomington Indiana". And then the spring reminds me how truly awesome good weather is in Bloomington. It becomes the most beautiful place on earth. Everything feels perfect. The trees begin to blossom white flowers, I can lay in my hammock all day and I can grill. Oh can I grill! And this year, I am going to reach grill master status. I'm going to perfect my Memphis Dry Rub. I'm going to trick my wife into liking Salmon just quick enough to try my cedar plank smoked salmon and once that garden starts popping I'm going to grill all kinds of vegetables. And I'm going to have my baby Judy with me! Life is awesome.
Here's to the perfect 2015 spring everybody! Remember, the future is full of color!