“Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.”

Living in California has its benefits and our mantra is that we have no weather.  Things were always pretty much the same and predictable. The weathermen used to get rather monotonous, so much so, it reminds me of the Hippy Dippy weather man, George Carlin, who remarked: “Weather tonight: dark. Turning partly light by morning.”  I might add, “and the sun will shine again today.”

Well, that was close to the truth until recently.   Seems like “global weirding” is changing things here every year.  We are known as the land of “fruits and nuts” but this weather will also make us famous for the state of fresh frozen veggies (not to mention freeze dried clothes if you hang your clothes out to dry like we do,)

Now,  gone are the cool wintery days where the sun still shone  and there were only a few nights with temps below 32 degrees. F.  This year has been especially brutal.  The days are damp and rainy which makes the cold seem colder and the rain wetter.  We are just not prepared for such uncharacteristic weather.  People here don’t even own umbrellas or rain gear. And –warning–stay off the roads during this type of weather–people just don’t know how to drive in it.

There’s a joke here in southern Ca–when the temps fall below 65 degrees  the cry goes out to “Close the schools and save the children!”  But this year it is like way too cold and the challenge is to keep warm and be creative about it.

We only have one Jotul fireplace in the house which keeps the house very nicely comfortable but, being frugal as we are we do conserve on the amount of times we fire her up. So, what is a (wussy) Southern Californian to do when old Jotul is not on?

I’ve blogged many a times about prepping for winter

Here are some of things we have tried:

1.   Hot water bottles. I know it’s taboo never to knit something for your significant “other” till you’re hitched but think I am safe and deemed our relationship “steady” with Mr Hotwater bottle here so I knitted him two nifty new outfits.  Yeah, I told you it was “steady” and he’s a “hottie” to boot.

They work incredibly well as low tech as they are.  You can place one in your bed with you at night and it is great for warming everything up and help you to go to sleep.  If you use flannel sheets that is even better.

2. Bundle Up. Wear layers of clothing and be sure to cover your head.  An old time adage but it certainly works.

3 .Sleep inside your sleeping bag–we often do this anyway and it does really help, too.

4.  Wear fingerless gloves which allow you to use your fingertips for touch and delicate work but keep the rest of the hand warm

5.Use drapes on doors and windows to cut down on the drafts.  This is a no brainer but the door drapes really work for us.

6.Invite friends over–when you have people on a room the body heat really warms things up.

7. Keep moving.  Early mornings are when I sit on the computer( and you know how computers conduct the cold *shiver*)  So when I find I can’t bare the chill in my bones I grab a broom and tackle the floors. That gets the blood going.

8. Take a daily dose of  coconut oil to raise your body temp. So good  for you, too!

9. To keep feet warm put  cayenne pepper in your socks .This works but be CAREFUL!  Here are some instructions on how to do it properly.

A thought struck me as I was writing this post. Someone once said: In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

So true.

Modern homesteaders, what’s your fave way/tip to keep your home warm?



  1. c says:

    I love my flannel sheets and down comforter for warmth in the bed at night. During the day I never set my house temp for more that 68degrees when guests are there and 64 when it is just me. I fire up the wood stove and that keeps the front rooms warm. I perfer a cooler bedroom for good sleep and warmer front rooms for general comfort. If it gets really cold I do hang a curtain accross the hall. It keeps the heat in the front rooms but mainly it keeps the colder air from comming down that hallway. Without the curtain the air feels like an open window shooting cold air into the livingroom. If I feel too cold when doing a sitting chore I just change to a moveing chore and it warms me right up.

  2. Bill Buron says:

    Here in Missouri we are used to cold weather. We have a natural gas furnace but choose to use our Vermont Castings wood stove. We get our fire wood from downed limbs and trees after bad weather and from a tie yard near our home. The ties come to the yard from the forest and are cut to shape and size. After sizing they have left over chunks of wood that are about 10×10 inches and a few inches thick. We are able to buy them for arround $40 a large pickup load. It takes about 3 loads to get us through the winter. The thing I really like about these tie ends is they have no bark and are heart wood and it leaves little ash. (this is Ties as in Railroad ties)

  3. Heather says:

    I bake when it is cold. Our home is about 950 sq ft and when I make a loaf of bread or biscuits or dinner, it heats the kitchen and living area nicely. And when I am done with the baking and the oven is turned off, I leave the oven door ajar to let the heat out and warm the house even more.

    Housework works well too-grins! Now to convince my daughter of that!

  4. Lynda says:

    We moved this summer from SW Riverside County to the mtns of Prescott, AZ. Cooler summers, but these winters are brutal for a wussy CA girl. We are experiencing 6 days of 50s and “warmer” mid 20’s at night, but 4 days of highs in 30’s and lows from 10-15 degrees are coming AGAIN. We have no heat in this house and the doggy door and outer doors let in air. MANY layers in clothing, using long johns as base. We have a couple personal size space heaters we place near us at the computer. Even worse is NO GREEN! At least outside. I brought in3 Rubbermaid racks of outdoor plants in pots and they are thriving. They do not mind 50 degrees in the house in the AM!

  5. G. says:

    I “love” my hot water bottle! I do not, however, knit my “hottie” a cover. Instead, I wear socks. I want that heat radiating under the covers. I fill with bottle with water that is 160 F.

    We also use:

    Wool blankets and plenty of them! Mostly for sleeping, but it is lovely to wrap up in one while ( knitting and) watching an old B&W movie.

    Hot tea! Of course decaf (can be decaffeinated in 30 sec.) before retiring, or my favorite, ginger-lemon. Homemade, of course, with real ginger and real lemon. Wrapping your hands around a mug of tea is very comforting.

    Layering clothing. My favorite is layering sweaters. Wool socks!

    Alternate heating sources.

    Open the curtains and let the sunshine in during the day. Close them in late afternoon.

    Simmer a pot of water on the stove. It adds needed moisture to the house,as well as extra warmth. I don’t scent the water with spices, but it is something to consider.

    Make a hearty soup! I love soup for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

    Draft dodgers for the doors.

  6. Michael Schiewer says:

    Draft blockers on ever door, hot tea, solar air heat on a south facing window, brewing beer and leaving the oven open after baking/cooking

  7. Girl Money says:

    Experiment with various curtain materials and dark colors in windows that get winter sun to create small solar heated areas.

    Burn a gathering of jar candles in a safe location (I do this on my kitchen island on a large stoneware platter) to raise the temperature a few degrees for very little pocket change — then remelt the wax into new candles, using double-wax dipped butcher’s cotton twine and a small weight for the next wick. The metal jar toppers that candle stores sell to make candles burn evenly work great!

    Insulate, insulate, insulate… check crawl spaces for fallen or missing insulation, replace old weatherstripping, all of that common sense stuff. If the cold breeze can’t get in, ya don’t have to rewarm it.

    Your site, and way of living, simply ROCKS. Blessings!

  8. fireplace draft stopper says:

    I “love” my hot water bottle! I do not, however, knit my “hottie” a cover. Instead, I wear socks. I want that heat radiating under the covers. I fill with bottle with water that is 160 F.

  9. Jammin Jude says:

    In 2000 I moved from CA where I grew up in sunny bliss (once the fog burned off) to eastern WA where the ground freezes. My big change was hats and socks, good, wool socks, liner socks, even!. I imagine backpacking in the Sierras and dress accordingly.

    I also cover outside doors if it gets below freezing. Additionally, I use heavy curtains for winter with sheers underneath that create an additional barrier to keep out cold (as well as heat in summer) and also increase the light coming into room when the drapes are opened.

    Also there is a new type of draft dodger that slides onto bottom of door and “dodges” from both sides. Big improvement there!

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