Saturday, October 13, 2007

Preparing for the long, cold days ahead...

Sir Alec Guinness as Richard III, Stratford, Ontario, 1953.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

--Richard III (I, i)

I went from being hunch-backed to happy in one hour-long appointment. Amazing what a good RMT can do for one, non? Thanks so much for your kind, concerned words yesterday. I'm happy to report that my short run as King Richard is now over, and I'm feeling much more jovial and hopeful, now that my neck is finally feeling so much better...

Rather than use the winter of MY discontent to plan any kind of murderous revenge, or to overthrow the monarchy any time soon, I've decided to make today the day that I begin preparing FOR winter, instead. (I hope that sets your mind at rest, Painted Maypole... especially since I DO happen to have two very delightful little nephews who live close by...)

Yes, it's getting chilly and blustery outside this weekend, which is quite a change from the humid, thirty-plus degree (Celsius) temperatures we had for Canadian Thanksgiving, just seven short days ago. For the past day or so, the temperatures have been down near freezing, and I'm thinking that tonight, for SURE, I will have to rush outside with a big pile of old sheets and cover up the more delicate annual bedding plants out in the Garden. The potted plants will all have to be brought inside (and don't worry, I'm enlisting The Husband to do all the heavy lifting. He's going to be thrilled, let me tell you).

Although it's only early October, there are a few other things I like to make sure I've got close-at-hand, to help our family get through the damp, chilly days before the deep-freeze finally sets in for "good".

I'm a winter wuss, I fully admit it. Above all, one of the things I find nearly unbearable is the feeling of being cold. I'm not talking just "chilly", here. I'm talking about that horrible sensation you get when the cold and damp grab hold of you, and settle somewhere deep within your very bones. I think it's actually the dampness that nearly does me in. Usually, I tend to feel the cold more at this time of year than I do in, say, February, when everything is bone-dry and frozen solid. And so, come this time each year, I begin the Annual Quest for comfort items that will see us through till spring...

Here are a few of my favourites:

1. Many, many pairs of fuzzy socks. I am a sock junkie. I absolutely confess it. Perhaps this is because, with three small children to raise, I simply cannot afford to buy ridiculously expensive shoes, and substitute shwanky hosiery, instead. MOST likely, however, it is purely for the sake of warmth and comfort. Basically, if my FEET feel good, I wind up feeling good. (These particular items are my socks-of-choice for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

2. The Hot Sheep. It's not as kinky as it sounds, trust me. This is simply a traditional hot water bottle, in a beautiful little fleecy, zippered "jacket". It looks cute, protects the person cuddling it from excessive heat and potential dampness, and also insulates the hot water bottle, thus keeping it warm longer. Each of my children and I take a "hot sheep" to bed with us every single night, once the weather gets cold. It's especially nice if someone tucks the sheep into bed about ten or fifteen minutes ahead of each child (or grown-up)...

3. The Mitten Dryer. This is just simply a flat piece of plastic with hollow tubes jutting out of it, that is designed to fit over a hot air vent on the floor... Every time we walk in the door, we pop our hats and mitts onto the hollow tubes, and everything not only dries out as the warm blows up into them, but also heats up in preparation for the next trek out into The Elements. It doesn't exactly make me look FORWARD to heading out the door into the pelting sleet, but starting out with a nice warm head and hands certainly helps to cheer me up.

4. The Warm Rails Towel Bar. My English Granny had one of these when I was growing up... There are few things more wonderful than to step out of a hot bath or shower, and into the sweet embrace of a warm, thick, cotton bath towel. The Husband bought me a Hot Rails Towel Bar for our anniversary a few years ago (we were married in December), and I swear, if the house were on fire, I'd run back into the flames to save it, once the family was all safely evacuated. I feel THAT passionately about it.

5. Goofy slippers. Sometimes the best way to get kids (and grownups alike) to wear slippers is to make them a SERIOUS fashion statement. Or should I say, a NOT-so-serious fashion statement. My girlies have had ladybug slippers, bumble bee slippers, train slippers, and even cellphone slippers (complete with push-button sound-effects)... But my own personal trademark is the Big Bunny Slipper. Just ask Georgia the Cat... she's completely terrified of them.

6. The fuzzy bathrobe. I discovered my favourite bathrobe in a local clothing shop last fall, although not exactly on purpose. While I was in chatting to the owner of the store, who is a good friend of mine, I suddenly looked down towards my feet where Child Number Three had been patiently standing, only to discover that she was no longer there. My friend and I bolted around the small shop looking for her, and she was quickly discovered, standing in a corner next to a display of fuzzy bathrobes. She had her trademark pacifier in her mouth, and a corner of the bathrobe in her hand. She was rubbing the soft material against her cheek, and had just about lulled herself into a stupor... I then realized that the bathrobe was made from the same material as her favourite baby blanket. The bathrobe was subsequently purchased, and both Wee Three and I have enjoyed snuggling in the rocking chair, late at night, with this beautiful robe wrapped around us.

7. Chai Latte Mix from Timothy's Coffee. Once it gets cold outside, I always try to keep two cans of this heavenly stuff in my tea-cupboard at all times: the one that's in use, and one for emergency back-up. Looking at the ingredients, it is actually neither tea nor coffee, and has enough sugar in it to blow just about any diet. However, when made with steamed skim milk, it is actually not TOO unhealthy... and it tastes exactly like you're drinking pumpkin pie. Yummmmm...

8. President's Choice Green Fire Logs. (I believe they're called "Java Logs" in the USA) Would you believe that these things are made out of recycled coffee grounds, mixed with molasses and wax??! Love, LOVE, LOVE. I was thrilled to discover this alternative to burning real wood, or ordinary chemical logs, in our fireplace. They have a pleasant scent, burn brightly and cleanly for about three hours each, and keep us toasty.

9. And, last but not least, THE CROCK POT. This little beauty has been the savior of busy people for decades, now. But, with the newer, more sophisticated models on the market, you don't have to settle for overly-stewed, mushy meals for dinner anymore. Crock pots now have a few different heat settings, to avoid overcooking food, and some even feature TIMERS, so you can safely keep meals warm once they've finished cooking. Now that school and extra-curricular activities are in full-swing once again, I love being able to prepare dinner earlier in the day, and have it waiting for us when we all finally straggle through the door at night. I make everything from soups to roasted meat in our trusty crock-pot... But, my absolute FAVOURITE recipe?? Three words: Hot. Buttered. Rum. The recipe will be one of my gifts to you all closer to Christmastime... and once you have re-gained consciousness, you will thank me for the rest of your days.

It's officially autumn in Ontario, people... What do YOU do to get through the chilly days of fall?


mrinz said...

What an interesting post Candy!

The huge difference between the seasons makes your homeland so different from ours.

Winter here kind of just happens - just gets a bit cooler and wetter than normal!

However I know that in fact our houses are colder than yours because few people have central heating. We just rely on an electric heater or open fire and tend to only warm the room we are in.

I also love my slow cooker - lovely to know that dinner is being cooked, safe to leave on while I am out etc.

I am taken with your woolly sheep hot water bottle cover. He's gorgeous!

Leeann said...

I am very intrigued with your #7. I have never seen this, so I'm probably safe to say that we don't have it here. Too bad. It sounds absolutely heavenly! A warm drink that I absolutely love is Stephen's Dulce De Leche Caramel Gourmet Hot Cocoa. It is also a killer to any diet, but tastes like a melted Milky Way candy bar. Yummy! Have you ever had that? If not, we may have to start a "try a yummy drink from another country" exchange! :)

painted maypole said...

hot buttered rum? I'm excited!

Look, it just finally got cool enough here to turn off the air conditioning and open a few windows. So I guess what I did to get through the long cold days is move south. ;)

shauna said...

What a great post. You've got me thinking about preparing for the long, cold days (and nights) ahead. We HAVE to have slippers over here... I just might have to print this post off and go shopping. :)

canape said...

Ha ha. Our chilly days of fall have been in the lower 90's.

Dang El Nina.

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