Lovely Ways To Stay Warm Without Blasting The Furnace.

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(This was originally posted last November.  Certainly worth revisiting!  You don’t have to let the bills shoot up just because the temperatures go down!)

Of course, if you live in a climate where there are piles and piles of that white stuff, you may still have to blast your furnace.  But, maybe you could turn it down a notch or two?  Every little bit helps, right?

When I (Daja) lived in Ulaanbaatar (the coldest capital city in the world!!!) I said Proverbs 31:21 like a mantra: “She is not afraid of snow for her household….” Say it with me!  SHE IS NOT AFRAID OF SNOW!  Or in our case now, because we live in Southern California, she is not afraid of frost.  (A little wimpy, perhaps.)

The following are some of the favorite and oh-so-lovely ways the Gombojavs and Evans stay warm in the winter without running up the heating bill:

1. You know those socks who have long ago lost their mates?  Fill with uncooked plain white rice.  If you want you could add some dried lavender or other scrumptious herb.  Tie it  closed.  Heat it in the microwave until it is nice and toasty.  Now stick it between your sheets to keep your feet warm as you fall into a blissful winter sleep!  You can use this over and over again all winter long!

2. Get your crock pot going!  And perhaps you should have more than one.  I keep cider, well spiced, simmering in one.  When I come in from the garden or the clothes line, I can instantly warm my hands around a mug of fragrant sweet goodness.  Sip on that to soothe a scratchy throat, too!

3. Keep that bone broth going, too!  This is definitely a time of year where we make more roasts and whole chickens and such.  And all those bones get simmered in the crock pot making something nourishing and warm instantly available for lunch.  Talk about fast food!

4. Flannel Sheets.  Need I say more???  I can appreciate a good high thread count cotton sheet.  But, when the temps let me see my breath in the morning, the only place I want to be in between my good ol’ plaid flannel sheets!

5. Burn candles.  Believe it or not, candles produce quite a bit of heat!  And as our days are shorter, it gives such a romantic light.  So, set them in safe places and let them burn in your living areas.

6. Bake!  This is the season when we bake bread just about daily.  Then there are the things like cheesy casseroles, cookies, potatoes, etc.  If if can be cooked in the oven we’re there!  This, of course, makes the kitchen the place to be on a cold day!  Which is good, because there are some dishes to wash anyway….

Image source

7. After you take whatever scrumptious thing you’ve created out of the oven, leave the door ajar as it cools down and don’t waste that last bit of heat!

8. Include “warming spices” in your diet.  These are spices that improve circulation and create a feeling of warmth throughout.  This is the season for ginger, horseradish, cinnamon, cloves, curries (which is not a spice itself, but a combination of spices), cardamon, black pepper, cayenne and allspice.

  • Put a slice of fresh ginger in your tea.
  • Sprinkle ground cardamon into hot milk.
  • Give your oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, fruit, etc. a sprinkle of cinnamon!
  • Give your tuna a kick by adding a pinch of horseradish or cayenne pepper!

9. Cover your feet.  Oh, this is a tough lesson for free-spirited California girls.  We just love runnin’ ’round barefoot!  Tough lesson to hammer home to the kids, too, who are delighted to run around half-naked year round!  But, wearing slippers or house shoes is a really wonderful practice.  Now repeat after us: “House shoes are for the house.”  Don’t wear them to the market.  Keep them clean so your house can keep clean, too!  Nothing is quite as delightful as coming in after a day out and slipping out of your boots and into your slippers!  Mmmmmm…..lovely.

10. Cover your head.  We lose quite a bit of heat out our uncovered heads!  So, get in the habit of wearing a hat when you go out.  But, even if you’re cold at home–especially at bedtime–put on a hat or a scarf over your head.  Your body will stay much warmer if it’s not sending all its energy to your head.

11. This is a great time for togetherness.  Rather than each family member going his or her separate way and everyone in their own room, spend time in the same room.  This way you can close the doors and vents to the unused rooms and keep the heat where everyone is!  And if everyone is there together likely you’ll need less heat for that room because you’ll be generating enough body heat!  Sit together to read, watch TV or work on projects.  You can share a blanket even.

12.  Keep extra “comfortables” on hand.  Have a basket of lap blankets and afghans handy.  It’s pleasant to look at, too.

“Tilly, put extry comfortables on the bed to-night, the wind is so searchin’ up chamber….”  An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

13.  Hot Chocolate.  The pure unadulterated kind with real milk and chocolate.  Nothing warms you better than sipping hot chocolate!  Somehow more memories are made around hot chocolate than anything.  Don’t forget to change up your recipe from time to time by adding Nutella, vanilla, mint, or spices.  Yum!

14.  How about that old sweater that isn’t nice enough to be worn out any more?  (Your husband’s old sweater is even better!)  I keep mine hanging on the back of my desk chair for when I’m working at my computer.

15. Scarves, scarves, and more scarves!  They’re one of my favorite ways of keeping warm.  A beautiful scarf wrapped around a your neck acts like jewelry but keeps you much warmer!

16. Wash dishes by hand.  At first this may not fall under the “lovely” category in your mind.  But just think of a chilly day when there is that little nip in the air.  And you immerse your hands in steamy soapy water, with a couple drops of Rosemary or Thyme essential oil for good measure.  You will be relaxed and warm by the time you are finished.

17. Consider a winter cocktail in the evening.  Mulled Red Wine, Hot Toddy, Old Vermont, Turtle Doves, eggnog, hot buttered rum, or even just a bit of amaretto or Kahlua in your coffee.  If you’re a purist (as Daja’s husband is!) a warmed brandy hits the spot!

Mulling Spice

  • 6 whole cardamon pods
  • 2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon dried orange peel
  • 12 cinnamon sticks

Light crush the cardamon pods, cloves and allspice with a mortar and pestle.  Add the orange peel and mix until even distributed.  Put two teaspoons in a teabag, tea ball strainer with a fine mesh or a piece of clean white muslin.  Tie closed.  Add the teabag and three cinnamon sticks in one quart of apple cider, apple or cranberry juice or red wine.  Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.  Serve hot!  (Makes four tea bags, enough for four quarts of juice or wine.)

18. Wear long skirts.  Looks so feminine, feels so comfortable and you can layer up the thick tights and legwarmers underneath!

19. Take a hot bath.  Nothing scares the chill out of your bones like a soak in a hot bath.  Add some of those “warming spices” we listed above to the water and your circulation will increase and your body heat up–lasting even longer than the time you are in the bath!

Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.

~Minna Thomas Antrim


  1. Sarah D - November 13, 2013

    Love these ideas. We always wear socks to bed in the colder months as well as place an extra blanket at the end of the bed over our feet. =) One word of caution: I used to leave the oven door open after I’d used it, just like my mom did, until my then 18 mo son placed his hands on the hot door. He wasn’t burned bad, but I’ve never left the door open since. It is a wonderful idea, but can be dangerous when you have small children around. =)

  2. Here’s a recipe for some pumpkin chai tea: http://owenfamily6.blogspot.com/2013/09/pumpkin-chai-tea.html?m=1

    Yum! It’s what’s keeping us warm lately! The same blog has a spicy hot chocolate tea that’s pretty good with less honey.

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