Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting, vintage stuff, and more...
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Dec 9, 2018

Low Cost Ways To Keep Your Home Warm, Safer DIY Advent Candle Upgrade, Easy Upcycled Wood Ornaments & Winter Decor

Anya likes to stay warm too!

Low Cost Ways To Keep Your Home Warm-
Winter is here, with more snow on the way! Most of the last storm a week or so ago is gone in back-

If you live in a cold winter climate too you know it can get chilly inside. Here's some tips and tricks I've learned over the years, many of them low cost...

My first suggestion- insulate your windows! Whether you want to buy insulated curtains, or make your own, it makes a huge difference. Some people have used fleece or even blankets. Over the years I slowly bought insulated curtains for our living room, dining room and 2 bedrooms. They made a huge difference!

rubberized coating over heavy cotton

They last forever and go thru the washer easily. I just wash and hang up damp on the rod to dry. They also keep your home cooler in the summer. Similar ones here if you can't find them locally and they come in many styles, sizes and colors-


Caulk your windows periodically. We added new windows 12 years ago. This last summer Dave was hosing down a window and some water came inside! Time to re-caulk. He bought clear, paintable exterior caulk. He did all the windows and doors. It tightens the house up and caulk is cheap.

If you have floor vents invest in some heavy plastic diverters. Having hot air blow up inside your curtains against cold glass is wasteful. Ditto going under furniture. You want the air in the room. Ours were about $3.00 each at a big box store and they have heavy magnets to keep in place- 

Use a small heater for small spaces. Our kitchen tends to be colder with sliding glass doors. I use a space heater to warm up just that room. I only turn it on when I'm in the room, and much cheaper than heating the whole house-

(string is kitty toy)

 You can also add something fuzzy to chairs/couches in colder rooms, like a fleece blanket, or an faux sheepskin (Ikea), like Anya's above. We keep cozy blankets on the couch in the living room as well.

Close/reduce vents in areas you don't need to heat all the time. I closed the vent right by the front door, since it's in a hall. With people going in and out, it's just heat loss.

Keep a clean furnace filter in your furnace. It will pay for itself in efficiency. Get a tuneup if needed. Our furnace in our last house DIED on Christmas Eve in 10 degree weather. That was a very expensive holiday. Now we stay on top of things.

Dress for the weather! Don't wear shorts and tee shirts inside when it 14 degrees outside. You'd be surprised how many people I see who do this!

Whenever you bake/have the oven going prop the door open when it's done and let the heat out.

Drink lots of hot beverages, that will make you feel warmer.

Invest in a warm comforter! Prices have come way down on synthetics over the years and they last for years and years. I bought ours at Ross, a discount store, about 7 years ago and it still going strong. I just wash it once or twice a year and store it off season in spare closet. Down is another option. Duvet covers can be easily washed/updated as needed. Also buy flannel sheets, much warmer than regular cotton-

Our comforter and flannel sheets

Buy some warm pajamas! When it's really cold you don't want to be sleeping in a thin t-shirt, etc. I sleep in polar fleece pajama bottoms and long sleeve t-shirt. There are more ideas online if you want to stay warm and save some $$$!

Safer DIY Advent Candle Upgrade-
Our Advent candle ring I bought for Dave a few years ago needed some love. I bought a ready-made one off-season at a great price. I added berries, pine cones and apples. The apples had developed a cracked finish after all the years -

Excess wax accumulated from candles as well. I added apples because we both love the song Jesus Christ The Apple Tree. Over the years I started thinking the candles weren't that safe. Last year I bought 4 new LED taper candles, 75% off, and stored them. First I unscrewed the bases-

I painted them the same colors as the wax ones we used. I painted each one of the tapers very carefully, mixing my own colors-

I used what I already had!

We use 3 purple and 1 pink, but the tradition varies on colors. I removed the old apples carefully, then hot glued some extra thrifted red apples I had-

I cleaned off the excess wax as best I could, and bought some paint for a second coat. So far we love it! Updated and much safer!

Easy Upcycled Wood Ornaments & Winter Decor-
I putt out my winter decor, we'll do the Christmas tree, Santa's next weekend. When I picked up a few holiday items at Michael's I stumbled onto some white wooden pieces. I immediately thought of Swedish decor with the hearts and birds. I thought I could drill some really tiny holes and turn them into ornaments! I could either put them on our Christmas tree or add them to some of the greenery around the house for something fun and different. So for $0.99 each I bought three birds and three hearts. Basically they're white painted plywood with slightly distressed edges. It's funny that I've always loved old things and somehow they have become "vintage". Anyway I showed them to Dave and he did have a nice small drill bit. So he drilled a hole centered on each piece, then I used Baker's Twine for a little loop to hang them from-

Baker's Twine is awesome stuff if you're not familiar with it! You wrap foods with it, but you can also use it for all kinds of winter crafts-

Simple Ball jar with a bow and candle


And now for some more winter decor here! We don't like to rush into Christmas and the holidays, so here's a peek at some other fun things, this one red and white! My old enamel basin, with a large silvered bird, Nordic knit balls, apples, pinecones and faux snowballs. It's nice on my red and white table runner in our living room-

My fave Yule shelf I always set up in the dining room-

Dining room table area, will add some Christmas goodies next week to replace the large print-

Kitchen window-

New star shaped LED lights, cozy! 

Kitchen counter-

By my kitchen desk-

Snowmen of course! I leave my winter things up thru mid January or so for fun- entryway


New thrifted topiaries with small lights and birds-

I added a little something in the herb box on the deck-

Dave spent a better part of the cold day putting up exterior lights, etc. Looks very festive coming home from work in the dark!!!

Dec 2, 2018

First Snow Fall!

First Snow Fall!
It started snowing last night about 7 p.m., then stopped. During the night it snowed and we woke up to about 2-3". Still snowing, very pretty! We're still under a winter weather advisory, so hard to tell how much more will fall. With 35 degrees forecast it may melt, but enjoying it now!


Sun room to the left of coop, more dry space for hens, just in time!

Ellie not sure if she wants to come out?

Dec 1, 2018

Thrifting Scores! First Snow Coming, Egg Competition? New Job = Decorating Fun!

Thrifting Scores!
Last week I found some really great stuff! I also made more donations. I found these 2 heavy ceramic topiaries, $5.00 each! What a find, very nice!!!

Base, heavy planter

I knew these would work great on my entertainment center shelf and I can decorate seasonally. Easy to move around as well. I added these lights (didn't fuss much) love them! The large ceramic bird below was $3.00, also very French Country!

I found this made-in-France Pyrex baking set, only $5.00! I never knew they made glassware there! 

 I saw this cute galvanized Autumn metal sign for $3.00 at a local grocery store, will save for next year-

 First Snow Coming-
 We have our first snow on the way, very cold and rainy yesterday. I put out a lot of bird food right after work. The birds really came to feed! Doves, squirrels and finches-

We did get snow in the foothills and I'm ready to pt up some winter decor this weekend. Christmas decor will come next. I'm ready for snow!!!

 Egg Competition?
One of our young hens first started laying, then #2. Now we're getting 3 per day. **Update- we got 4 eggs today! All are laying. Is this a competition or what? Maybe their hormones all kicked it at once? We LOVE having fresh eggs again. It's a real part of our urban homesteading, producing our own foods. The hens eat bugs, weeds and fertilize. And lay eggs. Win win.

Mine coming soon!
New Job = Decorating Fun!
After a long, thoughtful process I decided to transfer into another job in my company. I just wanted something simpler, and with more room for growth. I will have a cubicle about the same size as the one above. It will be fun to personalize my space more! I'll have a sit/stand station, a real bonus. Much easier on my back. More soon, doing lots of research on Pinterest! I'm looking forward to the move, new things to learn.