15 ways we're preparing for winter

Here in New England big V's of geese are heading South; the squirrels are scampering around, gathering as many acorns and pine cone seeds as they can find, and the rest of us are getting things buttoned up for winter too. We're approaching peak foliage now, which means that the first snowflakes won't be far behind.

Here are some of the ways we're preparing for winter.


  • Clean up the rest of the garden. Put plant containers, flower pots, and garden tools away.
  • Rake the fallen maple leaves and put them on one of the raised garden beds to compost.
  • Roll up the hoses and put them away.
  • Run the rest of the gas out of the lawn mowers and put them in the shed.
  • Check fluids in car and truck. Put blanket in the car just in case of a winter breakdown.
  • Make sure we have plenty of ice-melt and sand for steps and driveway.
  • Get out the snow shovels.
  • Put away the table and chairs that have been on the deck all summer.
  • Ordered keresene to heat DH's shop.


  • Put extra blankets on the bed.
  • Put clear plastic insulation sheets on a couple of drafty windows.
  • Stocked up on supplies for sickness--cough drops, tissues, gingerale and crackers, soup, etc.
  • Ordered vitamins and supplements for the winter.
  • Checked our hats, gloves, mittens, coats, and boots to make sure they're all ready to wear.
  • Making sure there are plenty of non-perishables in our pantry in case of winter power outages.

What are you doing to prepare for winter?


What to do with paintings you're tired of looking at

Someone asks...

We have some paintings that we've had hanging for years, and we're tired of looking at them. I don't want to just take them down and stick them in a closet. What do we do with them?

First I'd ask if anybody else in the family might want the paintings. If they don't, you could check online to see how much the artist's work might be worth. If it seems worthwhile, you could bring it to a local gallery and have them handle selling it for you, keeping in mind that it's common for galleries to keep 50% of the commission.

Some people sell paintings on Ebay, but unless you want to go to the expense of having it professionally packed for shipping, it might not be worth it.

You could list the paintings on Craigslist and have the buyer pick it up in person so that you don't have to bother with shipping, or list them on Freecycle if you just want to get them out of your house and don't care if you make any money on them or not.

If you're the type who enjoys yard sales and don't mind keeping the paintings around until you have your next one, you could try selling them that way.

Here's a way to get rid of paintings that probably isn't very common--barter. DH and I did that recently with a painting that we've had hanging in our hallway for a few years.

The painting is by artist Ernest Beach Smith, and is titled, "Bumble Bee-zz And Marigold". Mr. Smith's work was quite popular in the 60s, and his paintings seemed to sell for decent money, but when we checked with a gallery, we found out that his paintings are now hard to sell. At first we thought we'd try selling it on Ebay, but then decided that we'd rather just get it out of the house. One of DH's friends had expressed an interest in it, so we gave the painting to him in exchange for doing some work on DH's truck.



Decluttering cookbooks and recipes

Awhile ago Colleen at 365 Less Things asked why keep cookbooks? Her post inspired me to take another look through my own cookbooks and recipes to see what I might want to thin out.

I know a lot of people love to cook and have shelves of cookbooks in their kitchen, but I don't. I'm not an adventurous cook, so I never had all that many cookbooks to deal with in the first place, but I did find some that I no longer used, so I recycled them.

Here's what I got rid of:
  • an old hometown cookbook put together by a group of ladies from our old church
  • an old Lions Club cookbook from the town where I grew up (I saved the recipe for my mother's applesauce cake that had been included, but got rid of the rest of the cookbook.)
  • the second volume of a two-volume Doubleday Cookbook set I bought from a book club when I was a new homemaker back in the late 70s.
  • I also looked through an envelope of loose recipes that I had clipped and saved, some from several years ago, but in all reality, if I haven't tried them yet, I probably won't, so they went into the recycling bin too.

With so many recipes for anything you could possibly want to make being posted on the internet, it's much easier to let go of a lot of our printed cookbooks and bulging recipe files.

If you use Evernote, that's a really handy place to keep recipes you might want to try. That's where I've been keeping mine lately.  


It's hard to declutter books

From my reading, it seems that getting rid of books is a challenge for many people. It's medium-hard for me, not so much because I'm getting rid of a book per se, but because I can always see the possibilities in any book as an art or craft project.

  • Vintage books with yellowed pages are great for making those paper wreaths you see all over Pinterest. 

  • Hardcover books are fun to alter, and make great art journals. 

  • You can tear out pages and draw, paint, or print on them.

  • You can make paper flowers with book pages. I haven't mastered this one yet, even though I've been trying.

  • If you're trying to be "green", you can tear out the pages, roll them up, and use them for starting a fire in your woodstove.

  • You can tear up the pages, soak it in water, and make paper mash out of it. If you don't want to go through all that, you can tear the pages into strips and use it for paper mache projects.

You can see the problem, right?

My husband and I have been stepping up the pace a little recently when it comes to getting rid of books. I don't want to buy another bookcase just to store books we probably won't read again, so I'm trying to whittle down what we have so they'll fit on our two small bookcases, and the shelf on our headboard.

One round of book decluttering took care of the books that had print that still seemed tiny even when  reading glasses were worn.

Another round took care of books that were read once or twice, and that I had planned to sell, but changed my mind because of the hassle. I'd rather get the books OUT of the house than have them sit here taking up space, waiting for me to list them somewhere. I'm just not into that now, so I either take books over to the library for them to sell to support library projects, or we take them to our town's freebie building at the recycling center.

I was reading Undercover Minimalist last night, and she said that she doesn't read as many print books now because she tends to read more blogs than books. That's true for me too. I do most of my reading online these days.

Sometimes I pull out a stack of books I think I'd like to get rid of, but am not sure about. In that case, I have to ask myself...

  • Do I think I'll read this again? (Probably not.)
  • Is information online more current than what I'd find in this book? (Probably.)
  • Is it realistic to think that I'm going to bother listing this book for sale somewhere and wait for it to sell, only to get pennies on the dollar that I paid for it? (Nope. Too much hassle for too little return.)
  • Do I need to start any more art journals? (No.)
  • Am I REALLY going to take the time to do a paper mache project? (No, no, and no. I don't want the mess of making paper mache items, and I don't want them spread out all over the place to dry.)

 For some more tips on decluttering books...

How to declutter your bookshelves  I like how she says she and her husband leave their culled books in a box on the way out for a couple of days so that they have time to realize it's not so painful to let them go after all. I do this too sometimes.

Painfree ways to declutter your library I loved the photos of people's bookshelves and libraries that were posted with this article. The funny thing is, once you declutter and downsize your collection, you wouldn't need anywhere near the space that some of these homes have for books.

How about you? Do you find it hard to part with books?


Shovels, rakes, and a puppet

We did a lot of raking, and some decluttering this weekend, even though the weather was a bit rainy and not the greatest.

As I was organizing our lawn and garden tools, I was able to thin out a shovel with a too-broken-to-use handle, two broken rakes (not sure why they were still around here anyway), a broken laundry basket--and a souvenir puppet that somebody had given to my husband years ago when they returned from a trip to Mexico, or somewhere near there.

That puppet has hung in a closet here for the last sixteen years, and this weekend my husband finally decided to let it go.
Souvenir puppet


Decluttering magazines and jeans

Family members often give me magazines to use in art journaling, for making paper beads or paper bowls, etc. I was starting to get overrun with magazines again, so this weekend I went through a huge stack of them, and am going to bring them to the recycling center this week for somebody else to read.

So far I have 46 home decorating and women's magazines going, along with 24 old issues of Prevention and Walking.

Bookcase declutter

I was painting and had to move a bookcase. While I was at it, I took a look through a couple of shelves to see what books we might be willing to let go this time.

I put twenty-one books into a bag to take to the recycling center with us this weekend.

Not bad for ten minutes' worth of decluttering.

Included in this group were a few books that were practically brand new, that had been read once, that I had planned to sell, but I doubt I'd get more than a couple of dollars for them anyway, so I'll just pass them along and enjoy the newly-free space that's in the bookcase now.


Decluttering gift wrap, ribbon, and bows

Here it is, April 1st, and Spring isn't here yet, but hopefully it's getting closer. We still have huge piles of snow in the yard, and ice everywhere, but at least temperatures are starting to climb into the 30s again, and might even hit 50 tomorrow.

I'm working on some of the projects on my to-do list, and doing some decluttering too.

Today I was vacuuming the floor of our coat closet, and the big bag where I keep all my gift wrap, cellophane, ribbons, and bows caught my eye.

For several years now, we've given cash or gift cards (instead of a present that needed to be wrapped) on special occasions. We've cut out a lot of the Christmas gift giving we used to do among our extended family too, so there's really no need to keep all the wrapping supplies that we have.

I kept a couple of partial rolls of wrapping paper, some ribbon, and a couple of bows on the off chance that I might need to wrap something.

If I don't use it within the next year, I'll probably get rid of the rest of it.

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