Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brrr....It's cold!

Winter is here and the temperatures are dropping!  The snow is already falling in some parts of the country and here the wind is cold and brisk.  Is brisk a strong enough word to indicate that you want to pull you coat tight and you can feel the car blowing?  Everyone who knows me knows that I hate winter!  I have learned to deal with it much better over the years by enjoying inside activities but my heart still cries out "Oh, No! Not again!"  each time the thermometer drops and I know it's getting close.  I live in a state of denial most of the year pretending that I won't ever have to see snow again and renew my goal to become a snowbird.  I know it's an extreme position to take but that's just how I feel and have since I was a kid when asked if I wanted to play in the snow.  Uhhh, no.

When one of my son's took up skiing I was so proud that he was able to overcome the family anti-snow syndrome and represent us on the slopes.  And, driving in the snow?  My family can tell stories of my hysterical shaking until I gave up and learned to carpool with others.  The Volvo helped a lot at least to get me home on the first snow day when I would leave it parked until the snow melted.  Can anyone out there relate? 

Through it all I learned a few things to help keep as warm as possible.  Some are going to seem very obvious but I'm listing them because I have seen many who still get caught off guard so these may be a reminder of what you already know.  Many items can be added to your Christmas list for those in the family or in need.  The list is not intended to cover all situations and extra precautions should be taken when traveling in cold weather.  The list below mainly is for keeping warm at home while trying to keep the energy costs as low as possible.  This is the "What would my Mom tell me list". She was the practical one of the family.

  1. Dress warmly.  This seems obvious but I have seen so many walking around their homes in the dead of winter with nothing on but shorts and a t shirt.  Sweaters, afghans, and my favorite, the fluffy bathrobe with slippers all work.  It is not unusual for me to answer the door in my bathrobe in the winter.  People have wondered if I ever get dressed, but no, my clothes are under the robe.  The old name for them was housecoat so I use them as such.  Just whip them off and you're good to go. 
  2. Eat a hot meal.  Nothing warms a cold person faster than a bowl of chili, soup, or stew.  At snack time oatmeal and cocoa take the chill off.
  3. Cover your windows.  Thermal drapes help to keep the cold out and the heat in.  If they are beyond your price range plain colored sheets and blankets not on the street side of the house can also help.  I know, it's not attractive but people need to do what they can do.
  4. Use the fireplace or woodstove if your area allows.  There is something about a warm fire that keeps the home warm and cozy but remember to check the chimney before using and make sure it is free from creosote or birds and bee nests.
  5. Close off parts of the house not in use.  No need to heat what no one uses but do be aware of pipes and possible mold situations in wet climates.  We closed off the kitchen and spare bedroom each night and warmed them again in the morning. 
  6. Space heaters.  These have come a long way over the years and can help keep a smaller space warm without trying to raise the temperature of the entire house. 
  7. Electric blankets.  Dual controls make them nice even for couples with different temperature preferences. 
  8. Flannel pajamas and long gowns.  I can't say enough good about this wonderful fabric and if you are still looking for Christmas ideas these can be good gifts for people you know.
  9. Take a hot bath.  Another quick fix that helps take the chill off.
  10. Bake something. Now is the time for all your home baked recipes.  They take the chill off the house while the food is cooking.  All those recipes we avoid in the summer we can now enjoy.
  11. Carry warm clothes and a blanket and flashlight in the truck of your car.  A important idea...just in case.  Also, keep a pair of gloves in a purse.
  12. Flannel sheets and extra blankets.  I remember sleeping at my Grandmas house in the winter.  There must have been six quilts on the bed and she used every usable scrap including jeans and wool to make them.  It was so strange to be tucked into this extra thick, heavy bed, it must have weighed two pounds per square inch. But, I was warm and I slept good.  If your kids are kicking off all the covers in the middle of winter the house may be too warm.
  13. Winter shoes.  Another one that seems obvious but a thick pair of socks and warm shoes may help you from doing the winter stamping shuffle.
  14. Cover outside vents.  At the base of most houses are vents to promote air circulation.  Most houses are built to have them open in the summer but closed in the winter.  This will keep the floor much warmer and is something often forgotten.
  15. Weatherize and insulate pipes.  Time to make a last minute check on pipes and doorways.  Call your local PUD and ask if they have any winter savings programs.  They will either laugh at you or tell you about a deal you might have missed.  I once missed out of a $15,000 weatherization grant because I called two months too late!  More often it may be rebate on weather stripping or other smaller project that you can do yourself.
  16. Coats, gloves, scarfs.  Scarfs can really help keep the chill off and are the easiest knitting project there is.  This is still time before Christmas if you are so inclined. 
  17. Don't forget pets need lots of water in the cold weather. 
Many of these ideas not only are a benefit to your own family but can give ideas for those in need.  If you have any extra of the items listed that are in good condition call your school, church, or food bank to see if they are collecting or distributing these items.  Stay warm.

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