Beat the Winter Blues: Living in Winter Wondering-What-To-Do-With-Myself Land

Reader Contribution by S.M.R. Saia
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In my mind, there are vast open spaces in my home. There is fresh color on the walls. The trim around the windows and doors is freshly, crisply white. Tabletops are uncluttered. DVDs are tucked carefully in their cases. Bookcases do not hang into doorways. I can swivel back in my desk chair without catching my chair wheel on the living room rug, or bumping my husband’s recliner with my elbow. Storage is hidden beneath the lean, clean lines of benches and built-ins. In my home-to-be I will not have to stoop ten times every day with wet toilet paper in my hand to scoop up the dog-hair dust bunnies. There will be more space, therefore those dust bunnies will be fewer and farther between, which means that I ought to be able to clean that much less often. Surely this will be the case. I will not trip over shoes, or dog leashes, or – for that matter – dogs. There will be a place for everything, and everything in its place.

It seems like I am constantly trying to solve some domestic problem; constantly looking for some small-space solution; which is why we finally had to opt for the ultimate small-space solution – to get more space. But lately the livable part of my home has been made that much smaller by this week’s back-to-back “near blizzard conditions.” And the as-yet-unlivable part of my home looks like this – which is to say, not livable anytime soon.

What to do? What to do?

It seems that we had the wettest fall ever. We’ve either been up to our ankles in mud outside or, like today, up to our thighs in snow, both of which make it that much harder to keep this small house clean. When you factor in the psychological pressure that comes with knowing that this addition is NOT going to be done this winter; that in all likelihood it won’t be done until spring; that finishing it will coincide with tilling up more yard and starting a huge garden and building a chicken coop … well, I’ll just come right out and say it. I am stressed. I am restless. I am bored. I’m also out of butter. But that’s neither here nor there.

What’s the best, most positive and productive thing that I can do while shut in the house with 6 other beings (two human, four canine) who are also restless and bored?

Here’s my top five countdown:

5. Sit at dining room table in family conference, reading from the book, Good Dogs, Bad Habits. Make some firm resolutions. Be still putting some of them into practice 48 hours later. Review. Recommit.

4. Make applesauce cake. I did this a few weeks ago and it was just yummy. Warm and spicy and moist, a definite keeper.

Applesauce Cake

1 ¾ cups white spelt flour (or whatever you have on hand)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon mace
¾ cup Really Raw Honey
2 tablespoons molasses
½ cup olive oil
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
A handful of raisins, lightly coated in flour
Nothing fancy here. Blend all the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients. Don’t forget to put in the raisins, like I did; I had to pull the cake pan back out two minutes after I put it in to stir them in. Pour into a pie pan or a 9 inch round cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It’s awesome warm or cool.

3. Order some seeds. I completed our 2010 garden plan a few weeks ago, have estimated my planting dates and my seed starting dates, and it’s time to order some seeds. I like Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SASE) because most of what they have is adapted specifically to the region where I live. This year I’m going to do my flowers from seed too. They’ll be spread throughout the garden as companion plants for the veggies. I’m excited about it, even though the garden looks like this today.

Can you see the garden? Me neither. I think I can discern a sliver of rabbit guard somewhere in there…

2. Place an order with Wellness Meats. I love this web site. I love it that meat I can feel good about lands on my doorstep. Especially since there’s no way I’m going to be able to get out to a local farm this week. I wish that eggs would appear on my doorstep, too. It reminds me how great it’ll be when I have my own chickens.

1. Start some seeds. I have a lot of seeds on hand already after the past two years.

I have a time schedule for getting some of these seeds started, so this week I started the broccoli and the cauliflower. If the weather ever permits me to get my mail, I’ll be starting two varieties of cabbage and celeriac next.

I have to say that out of everything, starting the seeds made me feel the best. There’s a little bit of spring happening right here in my dining room, and that’s reassuring. It reminds me that winter doesn’t last forever.

It just feels like forever.

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