Sneak in a little time between cooking and raking leaves to keep your house and yard in tip-top shape.

Clean one room at a time. When it comes to housekeeping, bouncing from room to room is slower because you can't see clear progress. Plus, you're likely to get distracted along the way. Better to focus on one room instead.

Beyond giving your home a thorough cleaning, your mission is to look for signs of insects. To keep your closets pest-free, remove all items and vacuum shelves and corners, making sure they're free of anything that bugs might want to eat: dust, other insects, crumbs and food stains.

Unless you've had a severe cold snap, this is a good time to plant bulbs for next year. With a little forethought you can plan your garden's color scheme for the next four seasons. Choose those that naturalize so you don't have to replace them every year.

With cold and flu season ahead, don't get caught short on regularly used pharmaceuticals. Stock up on a new supply of medicine and dispose of those with expired dates. Update your stock of bandages and ointment, too.

It's time to clean and refill outside birdseed feeders. Bring feeders inside and use a few drops of dishwashing soap per gallon of hot water and rinse thoroughly before drying and refilling. If your feeder is a permanent fixture outside, hose it off well.

Check the condition of your insulation, especially if yours is an older home. To add to existing insulation, try an unbacked or loose-fill variety. For rooms or spaces with none at all, use foil-backed sheets. All costs will be easily repaid in saved utilities over time.