The first big storm of the season has hit, it’s getting darker earlier and earlier, and next week we switch the clocks from Daylight Saving Time to Standard. The leaves are turning color or have fallen from the trees. The wind is blowing from a different direction, and all the signs are there. It’s time to think ahead, and prepare for the stormier weather ahead. As the wind blows the trees outside my window, and the rain comes pouring down in buckets, I realize there are a few things I need to do to get the house and myself ready.
Window Treatments: Prepare your window for colder, wetter weather. Check the insulation and seal up any cracks. Put plastic on the windows to stop drafts. Some people use bubble wrap over windows. I would do this if it was a window I didn’t care about seeing out of, like a small window over my bed. Change the curtains. Put up heavier, more cold-resistant window covers. I take my lace and cotton curtains down and put up heavier brocade or cloth curtains. Or hang heavy blankets over the windows. You can pull them aside to let in light when you want, but they help insulate you from the cold. I lived in a cabin on the south canyon wall long ago, and hanging blankets over the windows kept us warm and cosy.
Insulate. Use weather stripping around doors and window sills. Get bales of hay and place around the foundation of the house. This helps block cold air and keeps the floors warmer.
Make repairs and do maintenance. Change/clean heater filters. Check the duct system in your home, and make any repairs necessary from ‘visitors’ like raccoons, mice, or possums. Insulate the duct work to save on energy costs, and keep heat in the duct. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. This pushes hot air down.
Apparel. Get organic cotton long underwear and galoshes or snow boots. Depending upon your climate, make sure you’re ready for the rain, mud, and snow. Never can tell when the first rains or snows are likely to come. Get a waterproof jacket, warm hats and gloves, and outfit your car with a weather-related emergency kit.
Change your lifestyle. Especially for those who live in old houses, change your lifestyle to accommodate the weather. Close doors between rooms. Hang blankets over doorways to keep heat in or out of spaces. For example, my walk in closet has no door. I blanket the entryway to keep heat where we live. Live in the warmest rooms, and close off the colder ones. Wear sweaters, socks, and long sleeves inside. Open the curtains on the south and west sides of the house during the day when the sun is shining.
Grow plants and herbs inside. Because we don’t leave our windows and doors open as much, toxins can build up during colder times of the year. Grow some plants and herbs inside. Parsley, rosemary, thyme, basel, or hot peppers can be used throughout the colder seasons. Grow a bean or avocado seed for greenery, and transplant into your spring garden.
Keeping Warm. Since we are apt not to go outside to exercise as much, we need to keep moving during the colder seasons when we stay indoors. Do your cooking and baking when it’s coldest. Bake bread or casseroles at a time when you might be tempted to turn up the furnace/heater. Do your yoga workout, or walk up and down stairs, clearing clutter and cleaning as you go. If you are working from home, make yourself get up and move around at regular intervals, and get down on your hands and knees and do some stretches, bends, and left lifts. Walk around on your tip toes ‘picking cherries’ from the topmost branch (an idea given me by a former ballerina). Put on music and dance. Take a shower or bath. If you shower or bathe as much as I like to, be sure to moisturize your skin as winter is hard on skin and baths increase dryness.
Consider adding insulation to walls, windows, doors, and floors. Rugs on floors help. Rugs/tapestries hung on walls do as well.
Meditate. Meditation is a good way of staying warm. Focusing on your breath makes you more aware of your feelings. Once you are aware of how you feel about your body being cold, you can change your perception of that feeling. This works when you are feeling hot as well. For example, if it is very hot or very cold, imagining the opposite experience helps shift our brain and our body chemistry to ‘experiencing’ the temperature. If it’s 103 degrees, I might imagine jumping in a cold pond or walking on a rainy, windy day. If it’s really cold, I might imagine a warm fire, or being snuggled up under a comforter. It won’t change the temperature, but it will help change your perceptions. This technique has helped many a person survive very difficult circumstances.
Change your perception. Warmth is sometimes about how things appear. Use warm colors to create the feel of a warmer room or area. Use throws, afghans, or pillows to create a more cozy feel.
Change your Linens. Switch to flannel sheets in winter. Use extra blankets, or a down comforter to keep warm.
Drink or eat something warm. Have a cup of hot tea, coffee, or cocoa, or a bowl of hot soup or stew to help warm your body up. Wrapping your hands around a warm cup helps keep you comfortable.
Cover up. Wear a hat and socks inside (and even to bed if you’re really cold) to keep warm.
Warm up the bed. Use a hot water bottle, a bag of rice or dried beans (heated up i), or a warming pan to warm the bed up before getting into it. My Mother used to heat a brick in the oven, wrap it up, and put it at the foot of the bed before we got into bed. Take the brick out before getting in though!
Set up a Mudroom. A mudroom is section of the house that is designed to be where boots, jackets, umbrellas, and other weather-related items are kept. It often is at the entryway, or near the back porch. It is covered, dry, and a place where a person can take off wet clothes or put raincoats on before going out. Newer homes do not necessarily have mudrooms. You can, however, create your own space to use for coming in and going out activities. A large basket, some wall hooks or coat rack, can serve as a mudroom type area. A floor mat and or boot brush can also make this a place where dirt, mud, and slush is caught before it gets tracked into the house. Set up a place for putting on and removing shoes, boots, and jackets during the colder seasons.