Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Projects for Your Home, Yard, Body and Mind

The Simple Kids at an Autumnal Celebration last week

I'm hijacking a post title from Simple Mom again. But I'm putting mostly my own ideas. But I do like what she said at the beginning about fall.

"Fall is a season of celebration and goodness, full of apple picking, baking and enjoying the crisp autumn air. Sometimes I forget that I should also be “storing up for winter” during all of the fun.
But the days are coming when it gets dark early and we spend most of our time cooped up indoors. There are things we can do to prepare our homes, yards, bodies and minds for the winter season. Make your list now so that you can do a little bit at a time and still enjoy the changing leaves and seasonal fun."


1. Change your filters now. I remember one night in late fall (it was a Saturday night too) and it was a cold night and I decided to turn the heater on. I flipped the switch and . . . . Nothing. I made some adjustments on the thermostat. Nothing. Great. I put an extra blanket over everybody and decided to call someone on Monday and hope that Sunday night wasn't too cold. On Sunday, I thought I'd go down and look at the furnace and see if I saw anything obvious. (Not likely, since I am not exactly Mrs. Handyperson, especially not Mrs. HVAC) I saw some extra filters sitting by the furnace and on a whim, decided to change the filter and see if anything would happen. I went up and turned the heat on and like MAGIC, it came on. Saved myself some money and embarrassment.

2. Check the seals on your windows and doors. I need to replace the weatherstripping on the back door. And caulk by that door too. And weatherstripping on the door to the garage. The door has been letting in water when it rains/snows, etc. into the garage for at least a year (blush). Simple Mom also suggests putting drapes up to keep the heat from escaping through the windows. We have blinds downstairs, but in the winter, I put a fleece blanket up to keep the heat in. It looks slightly tacky, but only we see it, and I am being uh, resourceful with our spare blankets.

3. Test your smoke detectors (October is Fire Safety Month!) and carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries.


1. Put your garden to bed in October. Remove any weeds, and pull any remaining plants and put them in the compost pile (if you haven't started a compost pile, it is easy to start one with fall leaves and plants from the garden.) Leave the soil alone for a couple weeks, and then do a light raking. Mulch with straw, grass clippings, dried leaves, etc.

2. You can leave some vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, Jerusalem artichokes, celery and cabbage, kale, spinach and chard) in the ground. The caveat to this is if you are in a heavy snow or frost area, you need to do some preparation in the fall. Before the first hard frost, check that there is soil covering the crowns of the roots. Leave the leafy tops uncovered. When cold nights are frequent, cover with a layer of mulch (6" in an area with little or no snow, but for areas with snow, mulch at least 12 inches and cover everything).

3. Plant garlic about 4 weeks before fall frost. Choose a spot with full sun. Plant individual cloves. Using a hoe, make a two-inch deep furrow. Plant the bulbs pointy end up. Space the cloves four to six inches apart, and two inches deep with rows twelve inches apart. Top with six inches of mulch. Green shoots will appear after 4-6 weeks and then cease to grow during the winter months. It will be ready to harvest next July or so.


1. Plan winter menus now. In my area of the country, there are no winter fruits and vegetables available (except vegetables that are still in the ground), so my menus need to depend on food that I've preserved or fruits and vegetables that I get at the store. For fruits and vegetables that I purchase, I try to depend on canned and frozen food from the store instead of fresh produce since all produce during the winter has to be brought in from other states (although I do purchase fresh apples and oranges during the winter.) I do depend on more meat, eggs, and cheese during my winter menus too.

2. Make plenty of stock for soups. Nothing is better on a cold night than a bowl of hot soup. Except maybe hot chocolate. :)

3. Plan for how you will exercise in the winter. I loved being able to exercise outside this spring, summer, but my recent Meniere's diagnosis has me exercising at the gym now so that if I have a drop attack, I'm not 5 miles from home or something. However, I had planned on exercising at the gym during the winter anyway, so I'm trying to look at it as getting used to the gym a couple months early. I'm hoping that by Spring, I will have a better handle on my medical situation and will be able to return to the outdoors.

4. Look at the winter clothing for your family. Since my children are still growing (especially my 11 year old! She can't seem to stay in a shoe size for longer than a couple months lately!), we usually need to get new snow boots every year. By looking now, you can put the necessary items on Christmas lists for relatives or pick them up at when you see a good sale. Or start crocheting or knitting now for needed winter items.


1. I have a couple of Holiday Planning books that are most helpful if I read them now instead of in December. And I have a couple of "Keeping the Holidays Simple" that are more helpful if I read them now than in December. Make a list of any books, magazines, etc. about the holidays that you want to read in the fall.

2. Make a list of books you'd like for gifts. I always a huge list. LOL And the selecting of the books is at least half the fun.

3. Think of someone that your family would like to help this holiday season. This blog talks about how she was given an Advent basket the year after their family lost a child to stillbirth and how she now gives one to another family. Or you could give a monetary gift to someone. Start saving $10 a week now and you'll have $100 by Christmas.

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