Doing My Chores

snowy cabinHere in the northern hemisphere, we’re preparing for winter. Yes, it’s only September and we still have weeks of splendid autumn to enjoy but we all know what’s coming after that. We see the inevitable signs.

The geese are flying south, the squirrels are gathering acorns, the cats are finding patches of sun to in which to park and nap.

We, the people, need to prepare, too; we can’t let winter catch us unawares. We’re putting the gardens to bed, doing outdoor chores, pulling out recipes for soups and slow-cooker meals.

Winter is the time for hunkering down, for working indoors, for getting in touch with the heart of the home again, for making our own warmth to sustain us.

Here, at out house in upstate New York, the warmth comes from the kitchen, the loom, the quilt frame.

I need to be ready. I’m lining up projects and feathering my nest. I’m doing the chores that will ensure a happy, productive winter.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week assessing my readiness for candy season. As you may recall, I make and sell chocolates between October and May, so I have been gathering ingredients, deciding how much chocolate I need to buy, and finding the pans and bowls and spatulas I put away months ago. I finally located the candy thermometer and today will look for the candy boxes and labels I stored, to see if I need to order more.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this organizing and planning—I like making the candy! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

I’ve also been making decisions about a weaving project. I don’t want to stop weaving but, right now, I don’t have the time or inclination to start anything challenging or fancy or artsy. I’ll leave that kind of weaving to my husband; I’m going to make some dishtowels. Some nice dishtowels, in a cotton and linen blend, off-white, with a red stripe down the sides, just like the vintage towels I love so much! Once I get the loom set up, I can weave a few inches whenever I please and watch the fabric grow like magic.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this measuring and planning—I like weaving! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

My other preparation for winter involves quilting. I haven’t done any quilt-related work since I finished the 1812 quilt, and I miss it. Winter is the perfect time to do hand quilting because it means settling yourself beneath the quilt, while you stitch, warm in your cocoon.

As you know, I love college football and will watch any team play, any time. I want to get a quilt top basted and ready to quilt so I can work on it while I watch football. As it happens, I have quilt tops made by my grandmother’s aunt and by my husband’s grandmother, beautiful hand-pieced vintage tops, just waiting for me to finish them. I’ve picked one and will buy backing fabric this week.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this basting and planning—I like quilting! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

The chores need to be done so, during winter, we can be secure and productive and content as the cold winds whip the snow into drifts around us.

How do you prepare for a comfy, cozy winter? Have you begun your chores?


37 thoughts on “Doing My Chores

  1. We may or may not get winter weather here in Texas, but it is cooler. I save my outdoor work for these months – thinning timber stands, cleaning up any dead wood, taking out invasive plants. Since the days are short though, I can work hard outside for 4 – 6 hours, and then feel like I’ve earned an evening of crafts or reading. I listen to a snowstorm on a nature sounds app, so I at least get a little psychological winter!

    • What does a snowstorm sound like?! Just noisy wind? We have to fit all our outdoor work into the months surrounding winter–so we then use the winter months for indoor fun, almost exclusively. Except, of course, shoveling the pesky snow . . .

      • I use the app Ambiance, and my snowstorm mix includes “howling wind”, “hollow wind”, “ice crystals striking the window”, and “snapping fire”. It’s amazing how specific the sounds are that people record.

  2. Winter sounds so inviting at yours !! we usually just get grey, wet weather…perfect for yarn related crafts, I’m looking forward to seeing a few of your projects over the coming months 🙂

    • I can make winter sound inviting but it has its really hateful moments, too! We keep a snow shovel inside the front door because we might need to shovel our way out . . .

  3. Well, I finished knitting my winter sweater, that post is still showing on my blog, some parts of making that sweater were fun and some parts were a chore. The fun part will be wearing it this winter 🙂

  4. I love the Winter scene at the top of your post Kerry.
    I survive the Winter by trying to stay in touch with the garden as much as I can. I really dont like the long dark evenings and find it hard to look forward to them. Although I love having coal and log fires and collecting wood from my field..
    You sound so enterprising and organised! At the moment I am making soup and pickles to enrich winter lunches and suppers.
    You have inspired me to make more of a plan…..and set me thinking! Thank you.

    • I thought your winter chores would involve your produce! It must be wonderful to have a store of food you made, all ready to reach for. We only do a little of that here–I’ve never gotten involved with growing food crops. But I can just see you, next to your fire with your cats, and a bowl of nice hot soup. Sounds so cozy!

  5. lol – I hear you! Here in Maine, it definitely feels like fall.
    Today at lunch we were talking about our gardens – the tomatoes are in full harvest, and we all hope they make it before frost, which some folks got last night, but not me, whew! So one chore I will do is put the gardens to bed and plant the bulbs so that in spring we might get some color – I don’t like it, but I love flowers!

    We will also have to put away the cushions on the porch furniture, and cover the furniture itself for the long winter ahead. I know as soon as we do that, we will have Indian Summer and I will have no soft chair to sit on with my morning coffee. But I love having my porch look nice 4 seasons, and the only way to make that happen is clear it off for the winter.

    Then there are the 4 tons of pellets stowed in the basement, and the ton of bio bricks down there as well. I felt like a chipmunk myself, when we were putting all of those away this summer.

    And the crafts. I have been stash diving for yarn to make warm hats and scarves for sale this winter at a craft show, and for presents for the family. I have the yarn chosen to make me a warm cardigan when the rest of the knitting is done, and I have been thinking about doing some sewing, but it has only got that far because the craft room table is holding my attempts at reorganization piles. 🙂 Those are all good winter projects. I like to get things tot he stage where they don’t; require water or electricity in the winter because you just never know when you wont; have any. 🙂

    Lastly, the snow shovels and snow tires have been moved from the bowels of the house to the bottom of the cellar stairs where they can be easily moved upstairs and into use when required.

    About the time it all gets turned around for winter, we will begin clearing our for spring. Or so I hope!

    • I knew you’d understand! Your march toward winter is even further along than ours is–and so early this year! You’ve reminded me that I should be planting bulbs, too–in the spring I always get all revved up to do so but by this time of year, I have so many other garden chores to do!

      • It is early, isn’t it? I retired the sandals this week – pushed it several days longer than my feet liked, but once I change over, it is so long until I see them again!

        I am the same way about flowers, so this year, I actually wrote a note, and bought some bulbs. I’ll get them planted soon!

  6. Oh, that winter scene looks much too like a Christmas card for comfort! Here in the UK, pubs and restaurants are already advertising their Christmas arrangements, which I find horrible after so many years in France where Christmas took its proper place – in December. However, I shall start soon to make the Christmas cakes and so on which take time to mature: I love that side of things. But so far, it’s nice enough weather to pretend that winter’s not on the way – yet.

    • The winter scene IS from a vintage Christmas card–and, yes, some of the big department stores here already have Christmas trees on display! I hate that! But, as you say, some of the advance planning is more fun and sensible–maybe you should blog about your Christmas cakes? Yum.

      • Maybe a blog is in order in a week or two about preparations for Christmas eating. But meanwhile, you might like to know that you can’t be alone in liking that lovely old card. It’s still widely reproduced for English cards. Having one of the originals sounds much more fun!

  7. You are so organised – I am so impressed! I am preparing my garden for summer and still finding out I need more pots and potting mix and assorted items because I don’t know how to forward plan any more. Once I was the go-to person for organisation – it appears I have given that up along with working 🙂

  8. Lovely story Kerry! I know exactly what you mean, when we lived in Ontario preparing for winter was part of the fall season. It felt good to put the garden to sleep, dusting of the ski equipments and getting the passes, stocking up the emergency provisions (we lived very rural!) and making sure each car had his little snow shovel, blanket and granola bars…you never knew when the snow would hit you;0) In South Ohio the winters are a whole lot milder and no real preparation needed. Comfortable indeed but I do miss that special winter feeling from time to time!

    • You remind me that we need to put emergency kits in the cars! We live rural, too, but we have a hard-wired generator so, if we lose power, it magically kicks in and we’re sitting pretty–this is one of my favorite home-improvement investments we’ve made!

  9. I feel sad that you are already putting the garden to bed. Seems just the other day you were showing us the lovely thyme basking in the sun. However, you have some very pleasant activities to keep you content as you hunker down for winter.

  10. It is still warm here but cooling down some each day. You are much farther north than we are. Winters can be bad here with lots of snow and ice but sometimes the NC mountains get little if any snow. Personally I love Fall and Winter. Temps are cooler so I feel better and there is no other place i would rather be than home by the fire. Dishtowels are great samplers and easy/fun to work on. One of my goals this winter is to have another quilt to work on. I haven’t made a quilt in a couple of years and I really miss it!

  11. I love this post so much. It’s true — so much prep is necessary for making things (the fun things!) easier down the road. I tend to do more “fall cleaning” than spring cleaning because I never seen to get it done before summer hits. I have plans for the next month to: clean and paint my kitchen, reorganize the basement, stash away my summer clothes and pull out the winter ones, clean out the shed so I can stash all of my gardening stuff, transplant some bulbs. So much to do! Also a big yay to candy season! =) That’s one bonus for cold weather.

    • That’s funny–fall cleaning seems more important to me, too, than spring. I think it’s because, during winter, so much stuff needs to be brought in and stored–we need to really clear space and keep things tidy or be overwhelmed!

  12. We have been making Christmas things for wholesale and clients since August so when winter actually arrives we will be designing Spring. For me the best way to prepare for winter is to get out the winter cookbooks and think about lovely stews.

  13. It’s gearing up to winter here too, although it’s quite warm at the moment. I hope you get your chores done soon so you can enjoy yoru crafting and chocolate making! I have to say, I enjoy the organisation. I like making lists and timetables ad organising my packaging supplies and things. There’s somethign very calming about knowing everything is in the right place xxx

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