Source for this image here.
The picture above, which I found on the very useful Wikimedia site (link above), is of frost! It needs to be very cold for this to happen! As a child I remember seeing frost patterns on the window in our kitchen, and sometimes nowadays we get them on the windows of our car.
This morning it was very cold again, not cold enough for frost flowers, but almost cold enough for us to switch on our central heating. But we didn't! We try not to until the beginning of November, because the heating is so expensive - and just today, British Gas announced a 6% rise in the cost of fuel - not at all what we wanted to hear! When I changed our bedclothes this morning I decided it was time to switch over our quilt from the light summer one we've been using until now, to the thick padded one that we have in winter. Each year when I do this, I forget how thick it is! It is like a huge squishy marshmallow! It is quite difficult for me to manouvere as I put the quilt cover onto it, as the quilt is so large, and I am so small. And at night, when I get into bed with that big squashy quilt on top of me I feel as if I am getting lost inside the bed, as it is so very thick and large. Papa Bear always has to rescue me! But I'm always very grateful for it. Without it our nights would be very chilly!
There are other ways that we try to keep our home warm without spending too much money. I thought I would share them with you today.
- One way to make a home seem warmer, is to ensure it looks warm! Candlelight is perfect for achieving this, but I don't like to have naked flames burning in our home - especially downstairs, where the birds are. Naked flames aren't safe for birds, not just because of the risk to their safety from being burned, but also because of the fumes that burning wax emits. We humans aren't affected by this - but birds are. For this reason we use artificial, battery operated candles instead. Their warm flickering light gives just the same glow, but they are safe to use, and can be placed anywhere around our home. The batteries are very cheap and easy to replace. Candles are a good substitute for natural firelight, and the warm glow they give off makes us feel warm, even though it doesn't really change the temperature around us.
- Another way to warm our home up is to use lots of warm, soft furnishings. Throws and blankets can make a room seem warm even if it isn't, and they will make a chair or settee feel much cosier too. I also use lots of soft, velvet pillows, and I like to cover table tops with pretty cloths. If you don't have a tablecloth, why not do what Emilie Barnes suggests, and use a sheet or even a quilt cover?
- Whenever I have used the oven in cooler weather, I always leave the door wide open after I have finished cooking, so that the heat from the oven can circulate around the kitchen. That always makes us feel warmer!
- You don't need to have heating in a bathroom. A hot bath or shower will warm you sufficiently so that you won't notice how cool it is when you step out of the bath, and in a few minutes, before you've had time to cool down, you'll be dry. I always have my bath in the evening as I find it helps me to relax and therefore to sleep better. I am usually still lovely and warm when I get into bed after my bath, even if it is freezing cold outside.
- If you do use central heating, then try turning the thermostat down one or two notches. We have ours set at 19. This may seem quite cool to some people, but in spring and summer it is often only 19 in our hallway, and I don't ever think of it as being cold, because it may well be warm and sunny outside at the same time. It's all relative! If it's warm enough in your home to walk around in a T shirt or dress without a cardigan or sweater, then your thermostat is probably set quite high. Why not try turning down the thermostat and putting on a couple of extra layers instead?
- Thick curtains will help to keep heat in. We have huge windows, and it is a real problem finding curtains that are both thick enough to keep the rooms warm, and yet not so heavy that they don't bring the curtain rail crashing down from the ceiling. It's been a challenge for us! Wherever we can cover a window with thick curtains we do. Our front door is covered with a curtain that I made from a thick velvet throw. I stitched it to some thinner curtains bought in a thrift store, that I sewed top to bottom to make one long curtain, with the pattern on the outside. In summer I reverse the curtain so that the thinner one shows, and in winter, we have the thick velvet throw. It makes the hallway feel very cosy!
- Use old stockings or other garments to create draught stoppers. I use long socks - they can be stuffed with rags, scrap material or even scrunched up newspaper. You don't even need to do any sewing - just tie the open end up with a ribbon when you are done. Failing that a rolled-up bath towel is a good draught excluder.
- Around this time of year I go round all the windows in our apartment and stop any draughts that I can feel with scrunched up kitchen paper and foil. I put the foil in first to make sure the gap is waterproof, then push the kitchen paper into the gap or crevice until I can't feel the draught any more. Come April or May next year, I'll remove them all and give the windows a good spring clean!
- Housework is a really good way to keep warm! This morning before I had started my chores, I was quite chilly, but by the time I had finished, I had to take off my cardigan! It's a great way to work out too - so you're not only saving money, but getting fit into the bargain!
It seems impossible that just a few weeks ago, we were picnicking in 30 degree sunshine, and now here I am talking about how to keep warm! Isn't it great that each season has so many pleasures to bring? I have just about finished reading Jane Austen's "Emma" now, and that is perfect timing, because just as the weather is starting to turn really wintry, I can begin my annual re-reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter". I just love sitting cosily indoors reading that familiar story while the wind and rain batter the windowpanes. It makes me glad that summer is gone!