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Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Hello!  Happy first day of winter!  Now the days will begin to grow longer.  Hurray!  Seems like we've been mole-people going around in the dark lately.  Maybe it's just me getting older, but this year, it really seemed like the darkness fell unusually early.  Anyway, to commemorate  the first day of winter, I thought I'd post some thrifty tips for staying warm through the cold season.  I wrote a similar post on my earlier blog and it became one of my most popular posts.  An advertiser even linked to it.  Life is strange! My apologies to those that have read this already!

I used to have a neighbor that always complained about the high cost of heating her house in the winter, but she was always dressed in shorts and light cotton blouses when she was  at home.  So the first tip is to dress for the weather.  Duh!  But you'd be surprised at how many people I see out dressed in shorts even in the winter.  Don't automatically turn up the heat when you feel chilled, instead reach for a sweater.  During the winter I wear corduroy or wool skirts, a light sweater with a bulkier sweater at hand if I feel cold.  Under the sweater I wear a t-shirt  or one of those silk longjohn shirts and I always wear tights even under pants, and boiled wool slippers.  Tights are a good value.  They keep you warm and they last forever.  About two decades ago, I bought some expensive for the time (around $20) woolen ones and they still are doing duty.  At about a dollar a year, that's a bargain! My son wears flannel lined jeans and hoodies.  My latest little trick is to iron and fold my clothes the night before and place them near the radiator.  It's quite a luxury to slip into toasty warm clothes in the morning.

Inside the house, I made little draft stoppers for all the double hung windows.  Even with the newest and best construction, a lot of heat is lost through windows.  Just put your hand by yours and see.  To make the draft stoppers, just sew a cylinder the length of the window and fill with cheap white rice. Here's how the look:

Also hang thermal lined curtains.  You can find the old fashioned pinch pleated ones at thrift stores without a big output of money.  If  you can't find any that you like, you can always sew them fairly inexpensively made from  plain onsaburg fabric backed with outing flannel or you can buy the thermal backing to make nice simple curtains.  Curtains are the easiest thing in the world to sew.  They are basically just large rectangles (make them 1 1/2 - 2 times the width of your windows) with a channel sewn on the back to accommodate the curtain rod.  Hint:  I use that wide blanket edging that you can find in any notions department for the channel.  A don't forget the door!  By nature, doors are drafty, so we hang a long thermal curtain across ours and pull it shut during the night.  We also roll a rug across the bottom.  Or you could make one of those draft stoppers for that purpose too.

Go around and check your house for drafts.  We discovered that we were getting quite a chill from our attic door.  So we tacked a heavy piece of carpeting across the   door on the inside and again another rug rolled up against the bottom.  Shut off the registers to rooms that you don't use, such as guest rooms. 

Don't overlook little ways to add warmth either.  When you are finished using your oven, leave the door ajar.  I check the forecast and do my baking on the coldest day of the week.  Ovens generate heat!  Ditto for your dryer.  When you get older, you find that you use less and less of your house.   My parents closed off the upper floor of their home by putting a false wall and a door at the stairs.  On the rare occasions that they had overnight visitors, they used a small electric heater to warm the room. Why heat a living room that you never use? Do you only use your bedroom for sleeping?  Then close the register up.  Heat will travel to the room.  We have one of those cute little electric fireplaces for our room, bought for $80 at Meijers.  Just running it for an hour in the evening warms the room up.

Speaking of bedrooms, I dress the bed with flannel sheets, wool blankets, and a down blanket and top that with a quilt.  Down blankets are a good investment although costly.  I found some nice ones made by Woolrich at Target that didn't cost an arm and a leg.  Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some.  Shop around, the prices vary greatly. I purchased some nice heavy woolen blankets for my friend's son mission at the thrift stores, so I know you can find them.  If they look a bit ratty, you can always sew new silk binding to the top.  Or how about a cute calico from the scrap bag?  I used to think the toastier the better for bedrooms, but have discovered that I actually sleep better in a cool room.  Which is good, since our old house's upstairs is unheated.

That's another thing.  Experiment with how much cold you can tolerate.  Set the thermostat down a degree and see if you notice any difference. Once you get used to the temperature, turn it down another notch.  Pretty soon you'll wonder how you ever tolerated all that heat!


  1. Hi Jane,
    Lots of good tips here ~ we used to live in Utah where I think it was brrr cold too many months out of the year.
    We have yet to put on the heat although we have used our nifty Victorian stove a few times when it dipped into the 30's, which is about as cold as it will get down here.
    Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and happy first day of Winter to you too!
    For some reason my calender has the 22nd as the first day, all's I know is that the days will start getting longer ~ yeah!!

  2. Well my friend...we are in the same wavelength! :)

    I too sew all my curtains and add the wonderful flannel backing and the same goes for the beds...they all have two quilts each! :)

    Thank you for your tips.


  3. Thank you for doing this post again! I have been thinking of the same things. I have bought some thermal curtains and we put new insulation in our attics (split-level). We decided to not spend the money on windows, because wooden ones like we have would be too expensive and we didn't want to get vinyl. And I love flannel sheets !!! and years ago I invested in feather beds and comforters. (after staying at a ritz-carlton and experiencing their's once). If it gets really cold (usually after mid-January here) I have dual layer (cotton and wool) long underwear. I love your quilt! love,andrea

  4. Yeah Rosebud, Utah is a chilly state! Just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how much I love your blog. Just feel more feminine reading it!

    Hi Maria! Good post today! Every little thing we can do to save a penny the better!

    Andrea, we used to own an old Victorian and it would have cost too much to replace all the windows. It was amazing how much recaulking all the windows helped. I pass the compliments on the quilt on to Mr. L.L. Bean! Ha!

  5. Hi jane....oh..that does look like llbean...I just thought it was son was looking at that quilt just the other day but I told him to wait until some of my llbean coupons came through and he could use those. I'm going to re-read your post for your pointers now. love,andrea

  6. Great ideas, Jane! When we hung our thermal curtain over our front door, it made a lot of difference in the bedroom, which is right by the front door! I love your draft stopper from an overshot pattern! How pretty is that??

    Have a very Merry Christmas, Jane!

  7. Hi Andrea! I used Ebates and got a nice little rebate check from them. Doubled up with coupons, you can make a dent in the price!

    Hi Matty! When I saw the fabric, I knew I had to have it. I collect old overshot coverlets. Any ideas on how to display them?

  8. Hi Jane, what a wonderful post, with such good, common-sense tips! I like your tip about putting on a sweater or an extra layer of winter leggings and undershirts. They are cozy, comfortable, soft and really keep in the warmth. Sometimes in the afternoon I have a tendency to get a little chill and find that instead of turning on the heater, if I heat up a rice pack in the microwave and hold it for awhile it warms me up real quick. Or making a nice hot cup of tea and holding between my cold hands. I also find that wearing some nice wool socks keep my feet nice and toasty when I am at home during the day. Have a wonderful, warm and restful evening tonight and thanks for the great tips!

  9. Very helpful ideas, Jane. We already use most of them and it does all help. We also like a cool room when sleeping even though it's a bit frosty in the morning but it does make you dress faster. :o)

  10. …………()
    …………( )
    °º♫✿ ♪FELIZ
    °º✿ NATAL!!!
    º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.

  11. Hi Delisa! We get lots of opportunities to practice keeping warm! Your lovely handknit socks would get lots of use.

    Hi Sandra! Every little thing helps. The more pennies we save, the more we can put in the missions box. Yeah, who needs caffeine to wake you up, when you can pull back the covers?

  12. I enjoyed your ideas, I've used most if not all of them at some point in my life, but I had to laugh at the idea of flannel sheets and wool blankets as when those old hot flashes come in the night, ALL my blankets fly off! Now, if we could just somehow harness that heat to use elsewhere through out the house...

  13. Very practical and useful tips, thanks for sharing them! Your home looks very cozy :)

  14. Ha! Joy, I call my husband the human furnace. I think you could turn the heat off completely and he'd generate enough heat. honestly! When he's here,we turn down the thermostat. How come hot flashes don't work on feet? Mine never thaw out until August!

    Thanks Jaime!

    1. You are correct about the feet, I've never noticed having hot feet. I go to bed with my socks on, and after I've warmed things up under the covers, the socks are pulled off and tossed into the darkness! When I get up in the morning, it's funny to see where they sometimes land!

  15. Great keeping warm tips! I get cold very easily, and stash my blanket throws all over the house. I also love my fuzzy slipper boots. I should check my doors and windows and see which ones need draft stoppers, I used them at my country property, but haven't thought to use them here, anything to help bring down the dreaded winter electric & gas bills.

    Hope you and your hubby have a wonderful Christmas!!

  16. You have such useful tips, Jane. Last winter (or the winter before that) you mentioned hanging flannel curtains for the winter months. So I did that on our 3-season porch. Since it faces South and East, we actually use it all four seasons but it can get drafty out there in the winter. Those flannel curtains did the trick. Plus they made the porch seem so cozy! Now I like the idea of the curtain across the door. Back to my sewing machine!