I haven't left the house for three days. These have been tranquil, purposeful days focused on creating a life inside these four walls that will see us through Winter: a home-centered, abundant Winter full of the gloriously cosy pleasures of the kitchen and the fireside. Perhaps you too have an annual ritual like this one? The deliberate Winterizing of your home? Or maybe cosying up your world is something less conscious: a mere layering of warmth and promise you undertake simply because the nights are darker and evenings at the fireside demand the kind of domestic attention you barely dream of in the Summer months?
Every home is different: every housekeeper runs her home according to circumstance and habit - this I know now, but if you are trying to create a life gently ruled by ritual and routine, then Winterizing is a wonderful place to start, as no other season reminds us quite so cosily of the pleasures of home. And so today for your pleasure and mine, I have drawn up my annual list of puttery, Wintery tasks, many of which I have completed or begun this weekend, and all of which I encourage you to consider all over again, if you are to create a season you will treasure for always...
( See also, my darling Superstars, "Hibernation For Housekeepers!")
* Change over to Winter weight duvets, comforters and quilts.
* Take down Summer black out blinds so you can be gently lulled into morning by what little light there may be.
* Have gutters cleared, fireplaces swept and and boilers serviced before October is through.
* Install a Winter morning alarm clock on your iPhone so you are as prepared for icy morning as it is possible to be.
* Mix up a jar of almond oil spiked with frankincense and sweet orange, and place it at your bedside. Make an evening ritual out of massaging it into your chest and arms, or ask your partner to rub it into your back for a gently spiced Winters evening journey to sleep.
* Hunt out and label children's hats, gloves and scarves.
* Buy a pot of Manuka Honey, keep it by the kettle, and take a spoonful in hot water every morning to fight all manner of ills.
* Line wellingtons and walking boots with fleecy inner soles.
* Stock up on a wide variety of ready made bread mixes so you are never more than an hour away from the cosy scent of bread baking.
* Fill a basket with bed and slipper socks and hang a cosy bed jacket or cardigan from your bedstead.
* Move wheelie bins and recycling bins closer to the house so you won't have to navigate slippy, moss covered decking or iced paths when it gets terribly cold.
* Banish Summer from your garden. Zip tables and chairs into waterproof covers, empty pots and turn them on to their sides to provide cosy shelter for Winter wildlife, sweep up fallen leaves, oil garden tools and put them away along with all the decorative elements frost could destroy, and finally clear out sheds and garden storage so you don't get a fright when you re-open them come Spring.
* Add a metal tray to you hallway on which to stand wet wellies and boots. You can buy sturdy trays specifically for storing boots, or if you have the space, re-purpose something a little prettier without the expense: as long as it is metal or rubber, without holes it will do the job and wiped regularly will last all Winter long.
* Install lighting, or make sure you have the necessary bulbs for the lighting you already have in the front garden and entrance to your home. Even if it only means a string of clear fairy lights, come the late afternoons of the deepest, darkest days of January you will be grateful for the warm welcome, entrance lighting will provide.
* Create a basics/essentials list on your favorite supermarket delivery site and schedule it for delivery once a month between now and March.
* Sit down at your laptop and browse Amazon with a pen and paper at hand making a long list of books you would like to read this winter, cross-referencing your list with your library catalogue and ordering a stack of books to enrich and enhance long Winter evenings.
* Stock up on Winter spices like cinnamon, all-spice, paprika, ginger, anise, turmeric and oregano and harness their health giving, immunity boosting properties in a meal planner abundant with soups and cosy cakes for elevenses.
* Dig out hot water bottles and cherry stone cushions and make sure they are safe for another Winter. Find somewhere to store them in the kitchen so they can be prepared at bedtime and sent upstairs in the arms of those dithery little people most in need of them.
* Prepare a playlist of quiet female jazz to accompany you on the most domestic of cozy days. Hunt out Marion McPartland and Jo Stafford on Spotify for atmospheric
* Collect essential oils with warming properies such as clove, patchouli, cinnamon, vanilla, myrhh, ginger and cardoman for adding to soothing self-massage oils, baths, and aromatherapy warmers for an almost sense of cosy heat.
* Stand brooms in salt water for twenty minutes to stiffen bristles ready for tackling moss and algae clinging dangerously to paths and decks.
* Treat yourself to the weekly delivery of an organic vegetable box, so if the weather gets truly horrid you will still have an abundance of fresh food to turn into comforting meals.
* If you have not managed to acquire good stocks during canning season this year, browse the shelves of your supermarket and buy plenty of sliced lemons, garlic and chopped ginger in jars, ready to attack the ever likely threats of Winter colds and flu.
* Hold a candle audit. Gather all candlesticks, pillars, jars and tea-lights in one place, (you will probably have more than you think) then trim, clean and polish where necessary so that when the work of Winterizing is done, you can light up your world with the gentlest of flickers.
* Demote a sheet to frosty car window duty. Leave it in the boot of the car, alongside a bottle of white vinegar to spritz on to the window before laying the sheet over the window in the evenings, and you will never gain have to do battle with the de-icer on freezing cold mornings...
Happy cosying Sweethearts!