Bring some order to your home.
Organize Your Spice Rack
There’s a good chance at least one (or several) of your spices is past its expiration date. While dates are worth taking note of, spices don’t ever “go bad” in the traditional sense of food. Rather, they lose their potency. Remember these three steps: 1) Look: Is the color dull? 2) Smell: Has the scent faded? 3) Taste: Does it still taste fresh and pungent? According to its website, spice megabrand McCormick says the shelf life is three to four years for whole spices; two to four years for ground spices; and one to three years for ground and whole leafy herbs. How you store spices depends on your preference but be sure to keep them in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. —Brittany Moseley
Make Your Home More Sustainable
Now is the perfect time to challenge yourself to make your house eco-friendlier as energy bills rise and trash buckets overflow while you and your family are cooped up at home. David Celebrezze, the GreenSpot coordinator for the city of Columbus’ Office of Sustainability, suggests one of the best ways to go green while pinching a few pennies is to do a water and energy audit of your household. You can check your faucets for leaks by placing a cup under the spout for a few hours. Also check your family’s water-use habits; make sure everyone turns the water off when brushing teeth and keeps showers short.
In the age of online meetings and endless video streaming, your electric use is also likely putting some strain on your wallet and energy bill. Ways to curb energy use include changing your bulbs to LEDs, unplugging appliances when not in use and preparing for winter by investigating your home’s insulation. —Alexis FlorenceColumbus Fall Fun How to make the best of an autumn unlike any before.
KonMari Your House
Does your home spark joy? For many of us who’ve been working, teaching and isolating in our humble abodes this year, the answer is probably no. With colder temperatures on the horizon and many fall activities canceled, more time at home is a given this season. But instead of lamenting your fate, spend that extra time indoors making your home a haven, KonMari style. “Create a vision for your ideal lifestyle and how you want your home to be,” says Columbus’ Michell Domke, a professional
organizer and the first person in Ohio to be certified as a KonMari consultant. “Think of that vision as your road map—you need to know where you’re going.”
Developed by organizing expert Marie Kondo, the KonMari method helps people tidy up their living spaces by focusing on categories instead of tackling one room at a time. You might spend a few hours only focusing on clothing, for example, no matter where they are in your home. Winnowing before organizing also is important, as KonMari encourages people to only keep items that elicit a positive emotional response and “spark joy.” The objective is to surround yourself with things you love, not just things you have, and it’s OK to say goodbye to some of the stuff you accumulated during quarantine.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, but KonMari is a practice,” Domke says. “It’s definitely a process and commitment, but you’ll love the end result.” —Shannon Shelton Miller
Upgrade Your Internet
Complaining about internet speed has become a familiar refrain during our pandemic times. It’s an inevitable outcome of our new existence, when working-from-home parents conduct simultaneous Zoom meetings while the kids watch “Hamilton” on Disney Plus. Here are a few ways to help your modem perform better, courtesy of Kannan Athreya, an Ohio State associate professor of computer science and engineering.
How fast: Do a test to determine your internet speed (100 Mbps is more than adequate for most homes). While many internet service providers have their own online speed tests, Athreya recommends a third-party website such as Ookla.
Location: “Choose a more central location for your modem,” Athreya recommends. “Elevate it on a wooden or plastic table and keep it away from metal.”
Buy it: You’re probably paying $10 a month for the modem you rent from your internet service provider. You can buy a better, faster one for $100, which will pay for itself in less than a year.
Mesh up: “A mesh network from Amazon or Google isn’t that hard to set up and is very user-friendly,” Athreya says, adding this will improve connectivity between devices. —Steve Wartenberg