Friday, January 16, 2009

5 free ways to relieve winter blahs

The long January nights are getting to me. You, too?

Make life a little brighter...without spending a dime:


1. Wash the windows (inside) to reflect every last ray of sun.

2. Add something fresh to each room, even if it's a bowl of moss.

Nandina clippings (above) are reused, minus roses, from last week's breakfast.

3. Read travel books from the library. Time to plan a spring camp out!

4. Experiment with new flavors, if you've had one crockpot roast too many.

We're sipping lemonade & making Ina Garten's spicy fish cakes.

5. Get out of the house, period. Even if it means offering to babysit for another mom!

What cheap tricks keep you from winter gloom? I'm all ears.

36 comments:

Tammy said...

Meredith! I love the reading chair. I've been looking for something just like that. Could you tell me what brand it is and if it is a recliner? Thanks!

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

It is a recliner. Let me check: Norwalk.

I bought a pair at a secondhand furniture store, mainly because they swivel and rock.

I use them for rocking the baby, thus freeing up bedroom space.

These are pretty big and sturdy, they've taken a lot of abuse (remember the peanut butter smears anyone?) and they fit 2 kids at a time, or one big guy of a husband.

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

Note: I'm using wild caught canned salmon in the recipe above. Works just fine.

I grew up having salmon croquettes (as we called them), but Ina Garten's spicy seasoning makes them taste a lot better.

Also using my Kroger pepper and onion mix in these!

Tammy said...

Thank you so much! They are exactly what I am looking for. I have an Ethan Allen braided wool rug and they will be just right. I'm needing swivel rockers as well for rocking a baby.

Amiyrah said...

I love the lemonade idea! We have sweet tea once a month. Maybe i'll pair it with "BBQ" chicken and deviled eggs to give us a feel of summer. Great post!

Michelle said...

An indoor picnic is always lots of fun. We spread out the army poncho liner on the floor (just like we've done at the beach or lake). The kids love it!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the reminder! I noticed maple syrup drips on the kitchen window last night. How did that happen???

Anyway...off to tackle my first chore of the morning. Have a great day!

laurel said...

Great ideas, meredith! My pick up is always music. A quick scan through the ipod playlist, and within minutes i feel like a new woman and the kids are having a dance party.

Janel M said...

We (finally) renewed our membership to the planetarium last night (a gift) and went to a great presentation. THAT was a reeeally nice diversion. I'll be planning field trips to Boston and the surrounding science centeres with the reciprocal membership. As long as the roads are clear up here, I don't mind driving in the winter.

Pick up a couple new boardgames or puzzles on your next trip to the thrift store.

Sit and knit in the sunshine. :)

Songbirdtiff said...

This is the time of year I do big projects inside. This weekend we are laying new laminate flooring. I also start dreaming and planning my garden. It's difficult to be bummed when I'm so darn tired (from the projects) and when I'm anticipating yummy fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers. It's planning season!

Anonymous said...

I would love to clean my windows....but we have plastic over them to keep the drafts out. I do open all my curtains really wide to give the illusion of light in the house. I have been having a craving for lemonade though,...very springish!

Jennifer said...

We eat dinner at 5 usually. For a month or so when we ate dinner it was already dark outside. It is finally light again when we sit down to eat dinner and that has cheered me up tremendously.

I also keep reminding myself that each day has more daylight than the day before and everyday we are one day closer to spring.

Anonymous said...

I live in northern Indiana....it is 15 below (reg. temp not wind chill)....so I have turned on many lights....light candles...get all of my cleaning and laundry done first thing in the morning so I can snuggle up with a good book and a toasty quilt in the PM.
God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I've been doing "spring cleaning" lately. But that might have something do to with a baby due soon. I've been reading a book about "square foot gardening", something I want to do in our tiny garden this year.
You had some great ideas. I'm really wanting some fresh lemonade right now!

Queen of Carrots said...

I'm trying winter-sowing seeds this year (http://wintersown.org). Mucking around with dirt in the basement makes it feel like spring is coming sooner.

Make sure to air the rooms, even when it's cold. Breathing recycled air gets nasty pretty soon.

lizzie said...

I know this sounds really bad but on the worst weather day in mid to late January (and I wait for it-yesterday was the day -1) I go very early to the mall ( its empty) with a list for next Christmas. I got four beautiful tops for two will be six-year olds at H & M ($2.50 each) and two pairs of wooly tights for the same price. My little great neices in Europe have their Christmas gifts now for $5 each.
On to the Gapkids where I got some great bargins also. I
make this precision shopping not just ambling around. William Sonoma was next where I picked up some 90% off items for daughers-in-law Christmas gifts.
Five years ago WS was selling boxed Christmas Crackers - $30 reduced to 99c per box - I bought 15 boxes and have given them out as presents every since - unfortunately they never carried them again but it was a great find. Sometimes this outing is not very productive - I have had better luck when I wait until later in January.
I walk everyday in the good weather but at this time of year a go to our Community High School Gym and walk on their track - it is open to the everyone from 6am to 9pm - free !

Mist said...

I think this may be the first time I've commented here, so hello! :)

Like "Anonymous" said, I have a baby due in March, so I've been keeping myself happy by rearranging my house. I've been adding little spaces here and there using items I already own to make the house feel fresh.

Most importantly though, I have to MOVE during these winter months. There are many, many impromptu dance sessions in our house. While the kids are busy, I pull up a new kind of dance on YouTube (like belly dancing, hula dancing, etc.), and then the kids and I try to imitate the moves. Not only does it get our blood pumping, we usually collapse in a pile of giggles too. Especially when my very pregnant self tries to belly dance. hehe The kids think it's a riot! :)

Anonymous said...

Call me a hick but we packed up the family last night and drove to the city to the Monster Truck show. We had a blast! I'm not much of an exhaust/loud engine fan but we had so much fun! There were 6 monster trucks, motorcycle daredevils, 4-wheeler races, and old junky car races. Our boys were THRILLED! No, it was not the most frugal thing to do but hubby and I were in such a funk we had to do something wild. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and shell out the dough. We did go sledding in the moonlight last Saturday night. That was a lot of fun -- and free! Another thing I've been doing is getting the kids' scrapbooks caught up. I'm not one of those over-the-top scrapbookers. I buy nice photo albums from Hobby Lobby and getting the photos into the books and a bit of journaling in them is good enough for me. Plus, the kids love looking at the photos as I go through them.

Kristin

Amelia StoryGirl said...

Fabulous list!! We don't get the winter blahs in FL too much in the winter, but after a few cloudy days, I certainly can understand! We have an orange tree and picking the leaves and rubbing them or clipping a few branches and bringing them in brings a fresh citrus scent.

Margo said...

wow - so many great ideas!
I always save a new project for late winter as a pick me up.
We also try to be social, inviting other families over and scheduling lots of play dates. Most people are so glad to beat the winter blues that they overlook messy houses or simple dinners and enjoy themselves.

Western Warmth said...

Timely post! Thanks! I haven't found a good place to get something living, like...even moss.

Thrifty Gal said...

We couldn't find anything to do that didn't cost money :( BUT we did go bowling and we had a GREAT time! It was great to
get out of the house and do something somewhat physical :) My kids have been off of school since Tuesday due to snow/cold weather so we are quickly running out of ideas to pass the time.

Anonymous said...

There's just so many ingredients in the fish cake recipe. Do you add all of them or just what you have on hand?

Empty Nest Full Life said...

Meredith,
This will be a unique one I bet. I have a box where I keep all of our bills for the year, just in case, and when I have made sure we no longer need them, we burn them in the back yard. My husband and I did that last night, with a log on the fire, and then roasted marshmallows. It was cold and the marshmallows were yummy! Well, I guess we did have the cost of the marshmallows, which were about a dollar for the whole bag, and we didn't eat near that many. Jackie

Anonymous said...

We move things out of the living room in order to put sleeping bags in the living room for a family camp out sleep over ---
sitting around reading books and stories - as well as playing board games - eating popcorn and frozen grapes and having tea --- it's simple and fun -
We also like baking baking and more baking - it works well because it allows us to do different things with flour and left over nuts from the holidays -
yummy with a glass of cold mile (brownies!) =
I stopped by the goodwill today and the stores are popping up all over the place - all the malls here are losing money because of folks like me who want to shop smarter by investing a small portion in recycled goods that look brand new !!!
We love the goodwill and value village stores here - can find the greatest usuable things -
I'm kicking myself now for not picking up the wicker laundry basket for the laundry room that wa 3 bucks and about 3 feet tall - it would've worked great -

saturday night meal specials are always fun too - because we eat 'buffet' style on whatever is in the fridge or can be made quickly in the oven - takes pressure off mom!

that's how we relieve the winter blahs - course - with 2 young children in the house - it's never ever blah -
Oh did I mention I found 7 yards of tropical fabric where I'm making pillows for my leather couches as accent pillows - i just love doing that - I'm sewing by hand - just something special that takes the pressure off when I do that --- gives me a chance to think about nothing!
Meredith - love your chairs - and yes I do remember the peanut butter mess and how you soaked the cushion covers in the tub to get them just right! - you let'em dry in the sun too -

you are at every corner of 'inspiration' my dear -

have a great weekend - and remember - MLK day isn't a day off - It's a day ON and a teachable moment in American History - which the following day will be a dream come true for a people who sacrificed their dignity and their lives for freedoms we enjoy today as Americans...

Latrice =

Musings of a Housewife said...

Washing windows... now there's an original idea. SIGH. My windows are EMBARRASSINGLY dirty. Perhaps I will do something about that this week. I sure could use a little pick-me-up while it's negative ninety outside.

lauraknight said...

Hi Merideth,

I am a long time reader, but first time commenter. I love your blog and as a stay-at-home mama also to 3 kiddos, I always come away with a new idea or just plain inspiration from what you have to say. You are an enouragement to me!

This past Friday was an unexpected day off from school for my 2 older daughters. My 7-year-old ASKED (yes, asked!) to wash the windows. That never happens. Of course, I said yes, not expecting how clean windows would improve my winter-time "blah" mood. It's amazing how something so small can make you feel so good.

Andrea said...

Hmm...well, I just kind of let myself succumb to the cabin fever. Winter is like, 9 months long in Wisconsin, it seems. And with the -30 and -40 temps from the last few days, nothing really gets you out of that!

I do tend to start looking at annuals that I want to plant, planning my patio garden, etc., around this time of year though. I start planning my canning, what I'm going to enter in the State Fair, and which ethnic and church festivals we want to make sure we don't miss this year (ALL OF THEM! Milwaukee rocks the festivals!).

That tends to get me thinking about warmer weather and out of the slump. :)

Rachel said...

To fight the winter blahs, I love to rearrange furniture, organize closets and just change things (for free) around the house. And exercise, baking, and cooking a great but frugal dinner make the list, too.

Anonymous said...

The hope and optimism most of us feel as our new president is sworn in will help relieve my winter blahs. He has a big burden on his shoulders and whatever your politics, I hope we all support this president and our country as we all unite and pull together to end wars and built our economy. Tuesday will be an historical day and one when I will be proud to be an American.

Anonymous said...

These things were in our week past:

cod liver oil daily. Also had oysters, sardines and salmon this week! hmmm

citrus; ripping the rinds, eating, esp. grapefruit and lemons.

Daily sunshine, goal: 20 minutes, if only through a car window. (I really notice mood trouble when I don't make sunlight a priority)

COLD fresh air (abundant this week!). PLAY outside if possible. Inhale deeply.

Humidity indoors...tea kettle, humidifier. Dehydration affects mood

Hugging, kissing, etc with hubs and kids ... raises the hormone Oxytocin, makes us feel good.

Lots of e-mail with fav bloggers

Enjoying the Snow-Day cancellations as a gift from God, permission to just hunker down at home : ) freedom from other's expectations!

Planning 2nd half of school year

deb meyers

Sandy said...

Dancing - for free. I'm writing about it :)

Debra Lynn said...

I HAVE A GOOD WAY TO BE THE JAN BLUES IF YOU HAVE THEM. PUT A POT OF COFFEE ON AND MUSIC GO TO YOUR CLOSET AND CLEAN IT OUT. BELIEVE ME IT WILL CLEAR YOUR MIND AND CREATE SOME MEMORIES OF TIMES YOU WORE A CERTAIN PIECE OF CLOTHING GIVE WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO SOMEONE IN NEED.DEBRA LYNN

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Put hot cider on the stove and let it simmer all day with cloves, cinnamon sticks, oranges....yumm

Joy of Frugal Living said...

To brighten things up over here, I've been playing a variety of fun music and decluttering. It makes everything feel fresh. I've also made a point of taking a little walk outside at least every few days at a nearby park. I can do a little bit, even in the cold, and it really helps.

Jennifer

Anonymous said...

deb myers has it right: Sunshine.

Even a short walk outside will help.

There are other good ideas people have listed here, but natural light is the best mood elevator!

Jora