If there is one thing that I can honestly say I love about this time of year (the time of year when the long winter commences) it is how it is so very conducive to snuggling in to a warm, cozy home with the family.
The cool days of fall always inspire me to light some candles, play some relaxing instrumental music, and whip up a batch of warm soup and crusty bread.
I enjoy turning our little home into a warm sanctuary for my family as well as for any guests that may happen to grace our doors.
The summer is a busy time of year for me. A time when we spend much time outdoors, working in the garden, and preserving the garden's harvest at summer's end. So I love that the commencement of fall is also the commencement of a season of rest for our family. I know that for the next six months or so, we will be indoors for the majority of the time (although I am challenging myself to get outside more often this winter) and life will move at a slower, more restful pace.
And if there's one thing that I do thoroughly enjoy about making a home is making it into a sanctuary where my family and guests can feel rested, where tummies can be filled with warm, home-cooked meals (most of the time), and where the souls that abide here can breath and refresh.
So, could I possibly share some ideas to make your home a haven as you hunker down inside over the next several winter months? Most of these are things that I practice in our home or are things that I desire to institute.
* Light candles ~ I LOVE having candles burning in the cooler months. I never really burn candles during the warmer months because we're in and out of the house too much to justify even lighting one. But during these darker, cooler months of the year, the flame of a candle does wonders to warm a soul. I usually burn one scented candle and the rest unscented because our house is smaller, and I don't want to overwhelm our noses with too many different scents!
* Play soft, relaxing instrumental music ~ Our days are filled with music. I always fire up iTunes before starting our Bible lessons in the morning. I find that having classical music or instrumental hymns playing in the background helps us all to focus on the day's school lessons. And usually that music plays until bedtime, and always at dinnertime when we sit down at the table as a family. Music is a wonderful mood-setter, and playing soft beautiful music helps to set a peaceful mood in the home.
* Keep soft, warm throws available for your kids to cuddle up under. I have a big basket set right beside our sofa that houses a couple of warm blankets. I also have an old worn quilt rack on which I hang a warm throw. You can also toss a throw over the back of your sofa. The key is to keep them in a place where they are easily accessible. And if they are warm and fuzzy and soft, that's even better! I love seeing my kids cuddled up under a blanket with a book!
* Cook warm-your-insides kind-of-meals. They don't even have to be homemade (although, honestly, homemade meals our the healthier option.) And they don't have to be meals that you slaved over all day, either. Trust me, I don't have time to slave all day over my stove. My crockpot is my favorite kitchen small appliance (well, after my coffee pot) this time of year. Stick the food in at the start of the day, and serve at dinner. Crockpot cooking is very user-friendly! (And just as a side note, did you know that you can actually stick frozen meat in your crockpot and it will be yummy, tender, and delish-isssshhhh by dinnertime; this is a great thing to know if you're like me and often forget to take the roast or chicken breasts out of the deep freeze the night before.)
* Another food tip ~ Serve lots of soup. Soup is both economical and can also be a very healthy comfort food. Served with a bit of crusty bread or cornbread muffins, soup can easily be served as a dinnertime meal.
* Serve warm drinks. We drink a lot of hot tea this time of year. I usually put a whole tea kettle of water on to boil at dinnertime, and serve hot tea with milk or lemon with dinner. I have accumulated a large variety of different flavors of tea for the kids or guests to choose from. I also treat the kids with hot cocoa every now and then as well. And I keep decaf coffee k-cups on hand for evening coffee for Brad and I. And here's an inexpensive spin to apple juice. Just last week on my trip to Sam's Club, I purchased a big container of cinnamon sticks. Over the weekend, I warmed some plain apple juice in a pot on the stove and threw in a cinnamon stick. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, and you have yourself a cheaper and easy version of spiced cider.
Keep baskets of books and magazines out and easily accessible to your family and guests. Maybe books represent coziness to me because I'm such an avid reader and book-lover, but I think it's absolutely wonderful to cozy up under a warm blanket with a book and a warm drink. Heaven. Sigh.
* Turn on exterior lighting. This time of year can be quite dreary. Here in Western PA, it's already dusk at 5pm. Yuck. I have found that putting the light on outside our front door, helps to cheer me up because I know that it makes our house look warm and inviting to passerbys. I have found that playing this little trick on my mind can be quite effective in elevating my mood.
* Another way to make your home feel warm and inviting from the exterior, is to put candles in your windows. I don't currently have candles in our windows, but I used to. And it always warms my soul to drive past a house in the night that is lit up by warm candlelight in its windows.
* Use low-lighting. I LOVE lamps. I have them all through our home. Harsh, bright, over-head lighting (which we also have) does not say, "Come sit a spell." On the other hand, lamps warmly lit throughout a home evoke such a feeling of coziness and warmth that one can't help but sitting back and putting up their feet. Keep your eyes peeled for lamps at thrift stores (I've spray-painted many a thrifted lamp) or even on sale at local stores. Lamps are awesome. : )
I hope that this post maybe inspired you to think of ways to turn the humdrums of winter into a more cozy, warm time there in your own precious home. And if you have ideas, please do share in the comments!
Have a most blessed Tuesday!