Our house is likely to be a bit cooler this winter and, trust me, we already keep it plenty cool. We put a new wood stove in the basement and, while I think it will keep the downstairs warmer, it may also cause the thermostat to shut off leaving the upstairs even colder. Our house was built in the 1860’s and many of the rooms upstairs have marginal access to central heat anyway. So, as the cold weather is due to arrive this week, I made up the girl’s beds to keep them warm and cozy, even if the temps fall below zero.

The first thing I put on a bed is a waterproof cover. Mattresses are expensive and I want the ones I purchase to have a good, long life so I cover them and turn them a couple of times a year, both top to bottom and end to end. This distributes the wear evenly and will get you several more years of good use. That is followed by a mattress pad. I opted for a memory foam pad, not for the comfort but for the insulation. I saw one pad that had copper wires imbedded in it. The copper absorbed body heat and reflected it back, much the way a copper bottomed pan does. It was out of my price range but the idea was a good one and the day may come when I regret being so cheap.

Now I add a good quality, flannel sheets. I hate buying anything cotton that’s not organic as cotton is one of the worst crops for pesticide use but a heavy flannel that is also organic is not easy to find and the price is steep. I have found some at the Gaia catalog some years ago. The flannel I like is 6.5 oz. It wears well but it does have a shelf life. I stocked up on flannel sheets a long time ago but I do need new sheets for my queen size bed now and they will go on wish list for Christmas.

I love wool but I’ve become a big fan of polar fleece blankets. I like the loft and the light weight warmth and I love how fast they dry. If you have a child wetting the bed, quick drying matters as does having a mattress pad on top of the sheets. It’s way easier to wash one pad than it is to wash a full sheet. I do keep a wool blanket folded at the foot of the bed should one be necessary. It usually isn’t necessary with two polar fleece blankets.

I love a down puff on a bed. Please avoid those cheap comforters from Wally World. They won’t hold up and can’t even be recycled into much of anything. Sometimes tag or estate sales will have excellent linens and I will occasionally find some at thrift stores. Otherwise, save your pennies and get either down or a good quality Pima-Loft. I also love to put a quilt on top as it just looks nice and adds one more layer of insulation.

If money is an object (and when is it not) you can look around for a good sleeping bag. We have an Army/Navy surplus store and I keep hoping to snag a good bags but they don’t last long. Sleeping bags are like comforters. Cheap ones are a waste of money. My boys slept in rooms with no heat and were quite comfortable when they topped their beds with down sleeping bags.

When the temperature really drops, I put Phoebe to bed in fleece PJ’s, wool socks and I never let her go to bed with wet hair. I also heat up a hot bag (just a bad filled with rice that gets heated up in the microwave) and put that in her bed first. A hot water bottle will do the same thing. So will a small cast iron skillet that has been warmed on the wood stove. Just be sure to take it our before the child gets into bed. If the power were out or the house really cold, a woll cap will help keep a little one warm too.

Two kids are warmer than one kid and a dog or cat can be a nice foot warmer as long as they don’t have fleas.

In the years we lived with no heat but wood, my boys would set their day clothes by the stove before bed. They would run from bed to kitchen and dress in their toasty clothes right in front of the stove. It was almost worth getting up in the cold for the pure pleasure of those warm undies. They rebelled just about the time we moved to a house with central heat.

A kid who is dry and well fed can sleep in a pretty cold place with no ill effects.

Just a quick aside. I cooked up the biggest squash I ever grew on Monday. I made 9 trays of squash for the Excalibur, enough for two meals eaten fresh and I still had some to freeze. The dried food is taking up more room than ever and it can’t be stored in my damp basement. I’m on the prowl for a big hutch for the kitchen.

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