Thursday, 3 October 2013

Getting Ready for Winter Part III- Home

Hello ! Glad you are still with me on this one.
Today I shall talk about what I do in the house/home when getting ready for winter. Anybody that knows me would never call me a domestic goddess. I DON'T LIKE Housework. Okay? I like cooking, sewing entertaining and finding 101 things to do with the courgette surplus, but I don't like cleaning, ironing, dusting etc.. This post is about getting ready to cope with running your home when the weather, and possibly your mood, changes.
I suppose laundry is one of the biggest issues, not the washing you understand, but the drying. We don't have a tumble dryer and we can afford to feel clever and frugal about this, but there only two of us most of the time and neither is incontinent (yet) If I had three children and  baby I'm sure I would feel differently and quite right too. We line dry throughout the summer outside (obviously) so winter is just about line drying inside. I get out my over radiator drying racks. These are cheap to buy from any hardware or cheapo shop - £3 should get you one. I have three and hang them over doors, radiators, bannisters, chair backs.... you get the idea. I am lucky enough to have a (rather grand name here) utility room outside. I run lines across here to dry clothes. before I had this I  used to hang lines in the garage. My daughter has lines across her kitchen.
 My clothes horse has broken and D's job, he is bit behind on this task, is to make me another (or two) I suspect pallets will have a part to play here. These will go in front of the fire or the oven when it is on, NOT the jets! I just keep turning things until they are dry. Some things like cotton shirts, I iron wet and finish drying them on the hanger.
Clearly, the best way to keep on top of the laundry is to do less ! My kind of housework! I wear overalls all the time. I have pinafores for cooking, overalls for decorating, painting, heavy cleaning and I have a couple of white overall coats hung on the sewing room door. This really does save your clothes and the amount of washing that you have to do. And believe me smallholding is not a clean way of life and I am a very messy person.
 Now all this line drying around the house is only sensible if you ventilate the house too, otherwise you get nasty mould everywhere and damp living quarters. So during the day we open a window or two, not too far, but enough to ensure some of the water vapour escapes. We then make sure that these are closed again before dusk when the temperature starts to drop.
 Still on fabriccy things, I bring my spare cellular blankets and throws downstairs in winter so that there is always something to put over your knees or shoulders or to wrap around a chilly grandchild.
 While we have double glazing at the windows and two of our doors, the other two doors are not only not double glazed but made of several panes of glass too. In winter I cover these with curtains. These are a double length of material, folded in  half width ways, sewn a couple of inches away from the fold. A curtain wire is threaded through this and attached to hooks at each end. This could also work with a piece of rod, dowling or bean pole seated on a couple of cup hooks. This system can serve as an extra thickness of curtain at any window or door and gives a double thickness without fiddling with a lining.
MORE fabriccy stuff - as mentioned yesterday when discussing recycling old clothes, draught excluders, can keep you extra toasty as they  exclude drafts (never!). Any old sausagey shape the width of your door will do. It can be as basic as an old trouser leg stuffed with crumpled newspaper to an elegant piece of sewing in the shape of a reclining Cleopatra. I have sausage shaped excluders filled with some old cushion stuffing.
 This is really pretty boring, but I soldier on and only hope you will too and stay with me.
 As you have gathered Power cuts happen around here most winters and are usually from a few minutes to a couple of hours. During the day there is plenty to do either in the house or garden or the shed or just enjoying the countryside. However, they can be longer and then the yearning for the computer or the TV starts to kick in. So, what's to do? -
Firstly we have a wind up radio, this is a god send in a power cut and I won't insult your  intelligence by itemising the reasons.
I have a good supply of games to play with adults or children.
I always feel smug in a power cut that I have a treadle sewing machine! Not having the distractions of TV or the computer really focuses me on any sewing jobs.
The last time we had a power cut of any length I actually wrote some letters! I write quite a lot of reports and  always do the first notes/draft by hand, so a power cut is a good time to write my notes.
A good supply of paper, pens, paint and books and knitting wool are a must at any time, especially in the winter.
I suppose a good amount of time is also spent calling on neighbours and checking up on the older folks to see if they are okay or need anything.
If this is your first time living independently, just give a thought to how you would cope without electricity. Would your home resound with the wail "I'm Bored!" because all of you interests are dependent on electrical technology?
 Enough Gill, you've said enough for now.In my next blog I will talk about food and cooking in winter.
Today I fetched I sparkly serviced machine that works like a dream from the sewing machine shop in Ilkeston. As I am half way through painting the kitchen and making copious amounts of wine and jam with the MASSIVE damson crop, I daren't  play with it yet. Tomorrow maybe, after the second coat (paint that is) is on.
 The shop that serviced my mother's machine is called  The Ilkeston Sewing Centre. It is in Market Street. Tel 0115 9307664. As well as servicing machines they sell them too. They also have a huge selection of haberdashery and sewing aids - a little Aladdin's Cave. As important is the expertise and excellent advice they can offer. So if you live in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire or Leicestershire they are worth a call if your machine is due a service or you are looking to buy a new one. The guy there has been working with machines for well over 30 years I believe.

If you read the comments to my last blog you will see that Fostermummy has had a disaster and lost her archived blogs and also her list of (400+) followers. She can be found on so get in touch everyone that follows and help her get back to spreading her own special brand of  happiness.

That really is enough for now, except to say a very warm welcome to Frugally Challenged (great name) glad to see you here.


  1. Yes ... we're thinking of winter here too. I think everyone will be eating Damsons this year .. what a crop!
    And .... da dah ... a new machine ... how exciting ... bet you can't wait to have a play .. enjoy x

    Vicky x ps I have a dehumidifyer (its cheap to run) and I hang washing on hangers from hooks in the ceiling and stand the clothes horse around it ... it dries washing a treat .. and keeps are old cottage damp free.

    1. Iv'e never even seen a humidifier. I didn't realise you could dry things around them. I thought that you stood them in a room to take away the water vapour.
      The machine was my mother's. She bought it new (it's a Toyota) but never used it. So after servicing it looks and acts like new.. Yes I am excited!!

  2. We do have a tumble dryer simply because our space is so tiny. I take anything that has to be ironed straight from the washer, put on hangers and hang over the shower curtain rod to let dry. They are just easier to iron and where there's a will there's a way kind of thing.

  3. I know we are lucky to have the space we have. I have been thinking about students in bedsits trying to dry clothes. Maybe that is one of the reasons they take their washing home to mum !
    Like the idea of using the shower curtain.