The colder days of Fall and soon Winter are upon us, so for today's post I wanted to share a few ways that I am getting my house prepped and ready. These tips are some of my essential check list items for ensuring a warm, cozy, safe and healthy environment during the chilly months.
Have your heating system serviced
Heating and cooling systems should be serviced twice a year, once in the early Spring to make sure your air conditioning is in tip-top shape and then again in early fall to ensure that your heating system is ready to go. This was a lesson that (of course) I had to learn the hard way in the dead of summer when my AC shut off due to a clog in the condensation drain pipe. I spent the day sitting in an 80+ degree house waiting for maintenance to show up. It was miserable and totally avoidable had I just been on a regular maintenance schedule. Learn from my mistake, it is not worth it to wait until something breaks to have it serviced. Get on a regular maintenance schedule. When you heating/cooling is running problem-free, you will be so happy that you listened to this advice!
In addition to your AC/Heating unit, you should also plan to have your chimney serviced annually (early Fall) as well. As a safety precaution I am a major advocate for Carbon Monoxide detectors. They are inexpensive and most importantly, LIFE SAVING! Every home should be equipped with these detectors, so please go out and get one if you haven't already.
Get a Crock Pot and/or Dutch Oven
Colder weather means that Soup Season is officially here! I am a huge fan of soup during the colder months. In addition to soup being warm and comforting, it can be extremely affordable to prepare. Every soup recipe I make/create starts with a either my Crock-Pot or Dutch Oven. Whether it's a slowly made soup, like my recipe for Slow Cooker Lentil Soup, or a faster soup recipe, like Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup, both the Crock-Pot and dutch oven are kitchen staples/essentials and pieces that I highly recommend for any soup cooking enthusiasts.
Outfit All of Your Sinks with Hand Moisturizer
Last week I had my annual check up with my dermatologist (having grown up in South Florida, annual mole checks are a must). Anyway (sorry, TMI), at the end of the visit the physician's assistant gave me a list of the doctor's "Best Practices for Keeping Your Skin Healthy During the Winter Months." Umm…Brilliant idea! LOVE IT!! One tip from the sheet that I especially loved was keeping hand moisturizer by all of your sinks. When you think about it, this is such an easy tip and seems so obvious, however many people suffer from dried or cracked hands during the winter months. Williams Sonoma makes a fabulous Hand Soap/Moisturizer Kitchen sink caddy that I am a huge fan of using because it not only meets my need for clean and hydrated hands, but they also have the most delicious selections of scents!
Rotate your Wardrobe
Take time reorganize your wardrobe. Pull out all of your spring clothes and store them away for the season in order to create room for those bulky winter sweaters and boots. Since closet space is at a premium in the city, I am a huge fan of using Ziploc Vacuum Seal Space Saver Bags and under the bed plastic storage containers. Not only are they great ways to efficiently use space, but they serve as great forms of protection for your clothes while being stored. **Tip- before storing away your clothes for the season, take time to wash/launder all garments. It will keep them in good shape and ready to wear for the next season.
Winter-Proofing Your Dog
This is actually an area that had been initially overlooked the first winter we had Dolly. It didn't occur to my husband or me how important it was to properly outfit our dog for winter until it was too late. Yes, that first Winter with Dolly, she ended up suffering from some terribly cracked paws. Terribly painful for her and of course Chris and I were beside ourselves seeing her in any sort of discomfort. In a panic, I immediate ran to the pet store and spent way too much money on all sorts of winter gear that was necessarily the best for her either (i.e. like the set of $50 snow boots that she refuses to walk in…see below).
After the initial fire drill with Dolly's cracked paws and trying to figure out how to protect them from any further pain/damage due to street salt and cold weather, I got to researching. One of the most helpful resources actually came from watching this Martha Stewart Show segment (of course Martha would have the answers!). Below is a breakdown of Dolly's list of winter must haves that I would recommend for any dog owner looking for the best ways to protect their pet this Winter.
- Pawz Rubber Balloon Boots- these boots are both protective and comfortable.
- Musher's Secret- all natural wax-based paw balm that is both protective and moisturizing.
- Paw/Nose Balm- don't forget to moisturize your dog's nose! Dog's noses are equally susceptible to chapping/cracking during the winter months if not properly moisturized.
- Water Resistant Winter Coat- There are those days where the dog's natural fur coat is not going to cut it. Having a good winter coat that is warm and water resistant is essential for keeping your pet healthy during the cold months.
- Bag Balm- a product used for years by farmers to keep livestock from getting chapped skin is also a great product for moisturizing and healing your dog's paws.
- Opie & Dixie's Healing Paw Balm- another great healing paw balm that I personally think smells the best (eucalyptus). Very soothing and an excellent moisturizer.
Today's list of winter prep tips are the essentials on my list every year. However, if you are looking to go above and beyond with your seasonal preparation (which I typically do), here are links to Martha Stewart's Fall Homekeeping Tips and Winter Homekeeping Tips. Both are fabulous resources, but of course feel free to email me with any questions not answered in today's post at firstname.lastname@example.org.