Friday, September 23, 2005

Impromptu-mom's Winter Checklist

Lovely H-H has asked for a few request posts. While I'm definitely not a role model when it comes to the housewifely duties, I will try to oblige you as best I can H-H!

I'll start with the first one.

H-H writes:
1. Please give some guidance on what to do (if anything) to prepare for winter. This is my second winter and the first where I get to plan. And I don't know where to start, what to shop for and when to do all that. Honestly, am quite scared.

If I remember correctly, H-H lives in Michigan, but she originally hails from India.
Michigan mostly has the same type of winters that we have here in Northern Ohio, cold, snowy after Christmas, and long, so the things that I do to "get ready to hibernate" will translate very well to your area H-H.

I usually start out the fall with a "Do Before The Snow Flies" list.
Do not let the title fool you. Seventy percent of my yearly list never gets finished in time, but it helps to focus my energies a little and bring to mind all of the little things that are not done and that will drive me crazy when we are stuck inside for five months. This list includes any little household projects that need finished, like fixing hinges and putting up the screens. It also includes outside chores like putting away patio furniture and big outside toys, cleaning out the gutters and mulching the vegetable beds. Anything that can not handle extreme temperatures or severe weather should be protected or put away. Also bring in any outdoor perennials that will not stand the winter and protect any young or delicate trees or shrubs with burlap.

Next, I go through all of our cold weather clothes and weed out what is too small or too worn and pass it around to family and friends who can use it. I pull out all of those sweaters that I have been buying for half price at Goodwill all summer long, (This is an obsession of mine, sweater shopping at Goodwill. No one looks for sweaters in July, so you always find beautiful stuff, and I usually pay $1.25 or less.) air them out and put them away. I check to see that everyone has a good fitting coat, hat, and gloves, plus I stock up on a few spares of hats and gloves for inevitable losses. I dig out the heavy scarves and buy a yard or two of fleece to cut out a few lightweight spares. (you can buy a yard of fleece, cut it into a few wide strips and you have "instant scarves". No sewing required!) I go over my Hubby's winter sports gear (parkas, snowpants, heavy gloves, boots, ect.) and make sure nothing is missing or needs repaired, and I check on and schedule appointments to have his snowboard serviced and waxed. (I'm not quite sure how this became my duty, as I couldn't snowboard to save my life!) And I go through and make sure everyone has good fitting boots and heavy shoes and pass around the too-smalls.

I check that we have a good stock of candles and lamp oil, as occasionally, but not often, we lose power in the winter due to ice storms. Plus, candlelight and oil lamp light are so beautiful and cozy in the winter! ( if you want a great place to buy candles in large quantities at a great price, check IKEA) I dust out the fireplace and put down rag rugs in the kitchen and by the bedsides (hard floors are a cold shock in the winter!). I get out the throws and small blankets that we keep in a basket in the livingroom to snuggle up under while reading or watching TV, and put up heavier curtains or curtain liners to help keep out drafts. I bring out the heavy quilts and the flannel sheets and make sure eveyone has at least one matching pair of slippers. We also buy our ice melt salt now because the stores inevitably run out on the middle of winter when you need it most. (we just keep it in a five gallon bucket next to the snow shovel) This is also a good time to check out your snow shovel and sleds to make sure that they are in working order and don't need replaced.

I don't go overboard on stocking up non-perishable foods (twenty quarts of tomatoes isn't "overboard" is it?) but I do make sure that there are a few things in the pantry in case of bad weather. I also buy a few boxes of powdered milk (which my husband hates and refuses to drink!) for this same reason. I go through the deep freeze and check on the levels of frozen foods and meats, and I usually have a few loaves of bread and bread dough frozen and on hand at all times. I like to stock up on things for yummy cold weather foods like cocoa, chili, and soup so that I can make them up on short notice. Most of my winter prep in the pantry is just normal, everyday supplies just plus a little. I also tend to get a small back stock of things like toilet tissue, toothpaste, and paper towels, depending on storage space (which is a real premium at our little house!)

I do stockpile books and movies. In fact, my hubby and I joined NetFlix last year during the cold weather months and plan to do the same again this year. This being my first full "knitting winter" I've also added to my stash of yarn, hoping to keep my hands busy. The internet is also such a bonus during the cold weather. It helps you feel connected, even when you can't get out!

As far as when I do all of this, mostly I'm done preparing by mid-October. I like to get everything sorted and ready early. It makes me feel prepared and peaceful. The truth is though, depending on how rural you location is, most of this is not necessary. Many people may not have to worry about extended snow-ins or lengthy power outages. It's mostly depends on where and how you live, but as the old saying goes "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". It can't hurt to be prepared!

Hope some of this helped H-H! And if anyone else bothered to read this lengthy tome, feel free to leave your suggestions for H-H in the comments or a link to your own winter checklist post! I'd be very interested to see how others prepare for winter.


thicket dweller said...

Wow! You have me inspired! I don't really keep a "list" of things that I need to get accomplished, but I sure should.

One thing I would add to the list is to clean your garden tools and store them in a bucket of sand with a few drops of oil added to the sand. It makes a big difference in the life of the tools and they look so nice and neat stored in that bucket! Make sure to remove the tines from the mini-tiller and do the same. Mine apparently have to stay on the tiller this year, as the pins have been somehow corroded to the rod!

Thanks for the tips, I.M.

Hey, while I'm at it, do you know which flowers I should cut back and when?

Happy Housewife said...

I-Mom dear,

Thanks a lot for explaining at length on winter preparations. Sorry i couldn't reply earlier - have been bringing work back home all of last week and the one before(a deadline just ended today. But I did see your reply earlier. :-)

Actually, I live in an apartment, a rented one, and not in a house. I am *shocked* to find that sweaters are available for a dollar twenty-five, and I thought I had a steal at $7 a-piece!

You are a dedicated knitter and it makes me a little jealous... I don't know knitting, but there are times when I've wished I did - not really a crafts person, you know - it is a pity! Every woman should be able to knit and sew some. My mom does very well, but I just didn't get that gene. :-( I envy you on this talent.

Btw, I do find a little physical exercise missing in your winter activities, dear HH. :-) No, movies alone won't do to pass the colder months, will they? :-)


impromptu-mom said...


I am useless at knowing what to cut back when. I have a very laize-faire approch to gardening. If something continues to flourish, then it stays, lol!

My books and movies are just stocked up for those times when we have whole weeks of below zero weather. In fact, I'm much more active in the autumn and winter than any other time. I love the outdoors when it is cool and misty!