As a Minnesota farm(ish) girl, I’m well versed in the art of keeping warm. When fall rolls around, it’s time to button up and start the unavoidable descent into colder weather. I mean, we all know winter is coming…
Cold temperatures can lead to extra expense if you’re bumping the thermostat up every time the outside mercury drops, so here are a few of the things we do here at Clucky Dickens Farm before we even touch our thermostat.
Layer up: Dressing in layers isn’t just for outside activities. This works for inside the house, too. Layers work because they help to trap air and insulate you better. I don’t have any shame in admitting that sometimes I’ve got a pair of yoga pants on under my jeans. And maybe like, a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt on top. Maybe I should try some fleece-lined yoga pants? And y’all know they make fleece-lined jeans, right? Warm and toasty is the name of my game. Pile it on!
Tuck those layers in: What I will not admit to you, however, is how old I was before I actually learned that tucking in my bottom layer would help to keep me warmer. Oh, sure. It makes total sense now…total sense.
Cover your dang feet and your head: If you’re walking around the house barefoot and complaining you’re cold…just stop. Stop right now. Cover your feet with wool socks like maybe these or these or these and a nice pair of slippers (these keep my feet warm). Heat escapes fastest through your extremities, so make sure those puppies are snug! Wear a stocking cap if you’re cold—even when you’re sleeping. Remember “Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap”? Y’all, that wasn’t for fashion. Keep yo’ heads warm. Keep yo’ feet warm. Carry on.
Drink something warm: Coffee. Tea. Hot Cocoa. Cider. Even a mug of hot water will do the trick. Liquid warms your insides and the mug warms your hands. Score! (This is the same reason that soup and stew is such a favorite menu item in the fall and winter!)
Go outside and come back in: When the temps recently started to drop, my husband and I were out for a couple hours working around the farm. When we came back in, my husband commented how bloody hot it was in the house. Now, we both knew that’s only because we’d both been working outside, but isn’t it amazing that our feeling about the temperature is relative? A house set at 64 seems cold, until you go outside and work where it’s 30. Then 64 seems really cozy.
Get moving: This is grade school stuff and we all know this—when your blood is pumpin’ you’re warmer. The problem is that in the winter, we want to go into hibernation mode and we move less. Make use of the ten minute tidy and move around your house quickly picking things up. Or do a hardcore scrubbing of the bathroom using mostly elbow grease to finish the job. It’s amazing how much warmer we can feel when we’re workin’ hard!
Eat: Listen. I know you want to be gorgeous and fit into your size-whatever-jeans, but trust me when I tell you this: the time that the temps start to drop is not the time to start restricting calories. Your body is able to deal with colder temps much easier if it is properly fueled. That means eating enough food and drinking enough water. Take care of your body so it can take care of you!
Bake: The same reason you don’t want to make bread, pies, cookies, or roast vegetables in the summer is the same reason you should do it when the temps outside turn chilly. I don’t consider the constant running of the oven to be wasteful because what’s coming out of it is stuff we’re going to use anyway (even if I bake it and it goes into the freezer for later). And hey—when you’re done baking, leave that oven door open! All that leftover heat is better used outside the oven where you can feel it, right?
Use an appliance that creates heat: We always save our lard rendering for when it’s cold outside. Running the roaster creates heat and helps keep the temp up in the kitchen. Using a canner also throws a lot of heat (and humidity!) so save some processing to be done in fall and winter.
Take a bath or shower: Ever been chilled to the bone and just can’t get warm? A bath can fix that. Just remember if you’re really cold to not make the bath really hot – you’ll do more damage than good.
Blankets: Figure out what material keeps you the warmest. We discovered early on in my youngest’s life that he cannot wear a polar fleece sweatshirt while running around outside in the fall because he overheats. Guess which blanket he grabs when he feels the house is chilly? My oldest has a fuzzy sherpa throw he’s claimed as his own. I prefer a denim quilt or a soft wool blanket. And don’t forget that you should be changing to flannel sheets for the colder temps. They can make a huge difference at night!
Snuggle: The phrase “it’s a three dog night” means you needed three dogs to keep you warm. Body heat works, y’all. Whether you’re having snuggle time with your pooch, family snuggle time on the couch, or…um….”snuggle time” with your love, body heat works, yo.
Something warm in the bed: My husband and I used to watch an old British Comedy called Good Neighbors, and in it the couple always put a hot rock at the bottom of the bed to warm their feet. Now, while I’m not brave enough to put a scalding hot rock in my sheets, I could handle using a heated rice or bean bag or a hot water bottle for the same purpose.
Plastic on the windows: If cold air is leaking through or around your window, you’re fighting a losing battle! Consider covering your windows with plastic to help keep out the drafts. Is there a door you don’t use in the winter—maybe a patio door? You can easily cover those as well.
Curtains, drapes, window quilts: Confession. I love sunlight and I hate shutting it out. As a result, this means we have no curtains or drapes in our house. I’ve been challenged to rethink this set up, however, because curtains and drapes actually act as insulators to any drafts that might be coming through. They can also trap the warmth of a sun-warmed room if you close them up when the sun is done for the day. (See the next point…)
Use the power of the sun: When the sun is blazing outside, get your curtains open! Our living room can be up to five degrees warmer just from our big south facing windows. If the sun is shining in, don’t shut it out!
Close it up: Shut doors on areas of the house you’re not using, and adjust the thermostat accordingly. If the kids have all moved away and no one is using the upstairs, there is no need to keep that floor of the house as warm as the rest. Do you have a room in your house that isn’t often used or could be organized differently and shut up for the winter? The set up of a toy room (move the toy box out into the living room) or an office (keep it cooler and move your laptop to the kitchen to work) can easily be organized in a different way to save you from fully heating all the rooms in your home. (I probably don’t need to say this, but I’m not suggesting you turn the heat OFF to these rooms. I’m just pointing out that you won’t need to keep them as “toasty warm” as the spaces you’re actually using.)
Be realistic: Sometimes we have to admit that here in modern day, we are just a bit pampered and spoiled. Get okay with the fact that fall and winter are chilly. My guess is that the proverbial Ma Ingalls wasn’t expecting her lil’ house to be the same temp in December as it was in May. Your body is an amazing powerful machine and (unless there are health conditions that prevent it) will adjust to changing temps. Most times, a body that is comfy in a house kept at 70 can learn to be comfy at 65. Have you ever wondered why we think that a house kept at 60-something in the summer is comfortable, but a house kept at 60-something in the winter is chilly? Take control of your mind and show it who is boss.
Are there any tips you would add? Share them in the comments. We can use all the keep-it-warm tips that you have!