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By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture
We have reached the mid-point of winter, and the days continue to get longer. I looked around my eco-cabin in all its thrifty glory. I thought I would share my best winter thriving preps and tips with all of you great Frugalites out there in the hopes of getting yours back!
Winter presents me with some challenges every year: How to stay warm? Keep safe on our highways? Prevent ice on my sloped driveway? How can I keep active and, therefore, keep my spirits up? What about the dry air caused by my woodstove? Finally, what’s a Frugalite to do when snowed in to prevent cabin fever?
Sand, Sand, Everywhere I Look
Tonight, here in Eastern Ontario, Canada, there is a winter storm watch. We may get up to a couple of feet of snow. Am I worried about my driveway being slippery? Not at all. I have plenty of sand right here to sprinkle wherever I need it.
Last fall, I saved numerous empty bags from my eco-cabin construction. They were heavy plastic, having held the limestone screenings I needed to build the foundation for my front and side steps. I got out my trusty shovel and filled several of them with sand. I am lucky in many ways to be situated on a lot of sand, although it can make my gardening more challenging.
As a gift, I drove one over to a fellow Frugalite’s home. “Here’s some sand,” I said. He was absolutely delighted. I keep a couple in the house so that they are thawed when I need them. One of my favorite uses is to mix some of my sand with the ice-melting salt I bought on sale early in the winter. That is what I like to sprinkle on my driveway if it gets a bit icy. It never hurts to throw out my stove ashes, as well, when I need to empty my ash can.
Windshield Washer Fluid
These days, the highways can be quite messy. There are a lot of ice-melting chemicals that are sprayed on them, especially the main one heading south. If I ever ran out of windshield washer fluid, I might be driving almost blind in no time! Late last fall, while out on a completely unrelated errand, I came across an amazing sale of windshield washer fluid, practically a gallon (one of our 4L jugs), for only $2.25. Of course, I made sure that it was good to -40 (both Celsius and Fahrenheit!!!) I didn’t buy one. I didn’t buy two. I bought five!
As I’m not driving as much as I used to in winter (thanks GOODNESS for that!…Don’t get me started on my story of the historic blizzard last Christmas Eve that I drove in the middle of the night…to milk the cows…and was rescued by a snow plow!). Anyhow, as I may not need five jugs, I’ll keep an eye on my consumption…and possibly gift one to my frugal friend in a month or so.
My Frugal/Free Winter Humidifiers
Those of you who also run a wood stove in the winter know that there is one challenge: they do really dry out the air. I use my two humidifiers to help with that. One is a gorgeous solid cast iron kettle. I bought it at a local thrift shop for a song. I always keep it filled up, and it helps keep the air less drying.
My other humidifier is free: my own wet clothing! I love to either wash it myself with my off-grid foot-powered washing machine or take a couple of big loads down to a nearby small city to the local Laundromat owned by my friend. Nothing makes the air quite so nice as all that drying laundry: all my socks are on my drying rack (bought used, of course), and my sheets hanging on various ladders and extra chairs. With a good fire going, they are dry in no time! Given how expensive the Laundromat is getting, I am happy not to put any quarters in those dryers! Washing one standard load is now $3. It has gone up a lot lately.
Modest Heating Means Major Savings
Yes, we all want to be cozy in winter. But how hot does our home really need to be? I believe that living more sustainably can mean giving up some comforts, and that also saves money. For this reason, I generally keep my home between 60 and 70 degrees in the winter, but it isn’t always 70.
By building a passive solar eco-cabin, I have been able to capture the warmth of sun to help heat my home during the day, especially when it is sunny. Is it always hot? Nope. I wear woolen socks and shoes inside. I sometimes wear a hat. Am I saving a ton of money and also helping the planet at the same time? You betcha. In this article, Daisy shares ways to stay warm in winter without turning up the heat.
Who Needs a Gym???
This evening, I felt an urge to exercise. (Okay, I had eaten a few cookies earlier in the day….a friend was visiting…I couldn’t help myself!) Did I head to the gym? Heck, no! I just went to my YouTube channel and clicked on my playlist of Low-Intensity Steady State fat-burning workouts with Dr. Jared. (YouTube is a great resource for SO many things!) After 30 minutes of bopping to my tunes along with him, I felt amazing. What I love about this workout is that it is also knee-friendly, so I do good by my heart without asking my 54-year-old knees to take a hit.
My other winter activities also help keep me fit. I shovel my own snow. Sometimes, my friendly neighbor will come over and help me with my snowblower. In return, I bring him and his wife over some baked goods. I carry my wood in from the woodpile. I prepare my own kindling, either by cutting up leftover construction wood or by splitting some of my lighter logs.
Do I ever grumble about these duties? Well, OK, I used to. However, this past year, I realized more than ever the importance of a positive attitude on health. I now welcome these activities as part of my life choice: to live independently out in the country. I am thankful for each and every day that I can do these activities that help keep me strong. I want to live here as long as I am able. I know that the secret to doing this is to, well, keep doing it!
My Great Winter Hobby – Decluttering!
With the snowstorm coming, am I worried about being bored? Heck, no! My hobby during winter is going through my files, getting rid of paper (that can often be used to start my fires), and picking out things to sell or donate to the local church-run thrift shop. It is so satisfying to see how great the eco-cabin looks with less stuff. I get more and more excited about owning less and less. Hurray! I can’t wait to see what it will look like in spring, full of all my seedlings for our local community gardens.
Thriving in Winter Need Not Break the Bank
I have found that, with some advanced planning, I can thrive in winter. Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty winter thriving tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? How do you spend your time in the winter? What forms of exercise do you do? How do you stay cozy on a budget?
Please tell us in the comments section.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!