If I am to live a simple, low stress, slower and more contented life with so many people depending on me I have learned that I must be intentional, in many ways but particularly in preparing and planning for the future. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that plans (I love a good list)must be brief, easy to put in place and also must equate to action (I love a good bit of procrastination too lol) or things get very stressful, trying to fulfil all those dreams and obligations at the last minute. At this time of year when one can, this year at least, sense the first whisperings of the changing of the season in the air, my heart begins to feel the call to prepare for the coming cold, I long for full cupboards and freezers, no doubt some leftover trace in my blood, from the days when preparing and storing for winter was a necessity, although I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in this?
So anyway in order to live an intentional life with less last minute chaos I do a few things to prepare in advance for the coming season during the one that comes before it, I am currently preparing for autumn in various ways, some of which are included in the list below along with some that I’m adding in this year and some suggestions that you might enjoy as well.
- Buy new wellies, waterproof jackets and umbrellas for everyone as needed, and give those not being replaced a good clean, replacing worn insoles etc.
- Knit a new cardigan or jumper for everyone in your family, I prefer to use a more lightweight wool in autumnal coppers and moss tones, for this time of year as they’re pretty timeless and good for layering over short sleeves, should an Indian summer pleasantly surprise us.
- Preserve the harvest – it becomes possible to serve up a large and varied selection of those most delectable of comfort foods, the autumn dessert, on even the most meagre of budgets by freezing or otherwise preserving those summer fruits necessary while they are in season, either from you garden, foraging, a local farm shop or market. When the summer sun makes pastry making a trial, and the prospect of putting a pie in the oven for an hour reminiscent more of Dante’s Inferno than Little Women, its comforting to know that it doesn’t matter because those peaches, and blackcurrants will still be there, safely stowed in your freezer to cheer a dreary November evening.
- Check and restock your spice rack – warming spices for chilli, soups, stews and desserts (along with all your dried herbs) should be used up by their best before date, as they lose a lot of their flavour and health benefits when they get old. If you grow some herbs in your garden or on your windowsill you might like to have a go at drying and storing them yourself during the summer, as commercially produced non-organic ones can be very high in pesticide residues.
- I like to stock up the pantry with ‘fresh’ dried fruits and things like treacle, syrups, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa, and also freshen up the jars of baking mixes I make to speed up my time in the kitchen. If you’re anything like me then when it’s chilly and you’re just craving a warm freshly baked gingerbread man, the thought of going to the shop to buy golden syrup may be all it takes to put you off the whole endeavour. The less steps between me and delicious biscuity goodness the better I say!
- During the summer I like to make ice-cream. the challenge is to also make enough to get us through the year ahead. I don’t know about you but churning ice-cream just doesn’t feel right by the time the nights start drawing in and the leaves begin turning (though oddly I have no opposition to eating it lol, but preferably next to a slice of hot cherry pie, yummy!) So I try to make enough, in a variety of flavours, to get us through to the following year. I say I try … I’ve never managed it yet … oddly enough the more ice-cream there is, the more everybody wants to eat it.
- If, like me, you have little girls, then sewing them a new long sleeved blouse, dress or nightdress ready for autumn is a lot of fun, very satisfying and super budget friendly if you have a good local drapers to source your fabric at a reasonable price. Also there are some good simple patterns available for pyjamas for boys or girls, because what says hello autumn like a new pair of brushed cotton, blue, dinosaur patterned pj’s?
- Plant some seedlings ready for your autumn/winter vegetable garden. If you want autumn crops of Brussels sprouts, autumn (and winter or spring) cabbages, autumn cauliflowers, winter radishes, kale and onions then you need to planting them at the appropriate times during the summer, to be planted out once the seeds have sprouted and as the summer veg makes way for them.
- Towards the end of summer, I like to clean up all the radiators, inside, outside and behind, and make sure they are bled before they are put to use. I’d definitely recommend purchasing a radiator brush to get into all the nooks and crannies.
- I also love candle-making and candles really come into their own in the autumn, I love to mix up autumnal scents with essential oils, mix them with the melted beeswax and make up little jar candles, the bonus being they also make excellent gifts, the beeswax burns nice and slowly so it lasts a lot longer than other kinds and neither the wax nor the oils give off any nasty toxic chemicals that can be found in other forms of wax, or perfume oils, or indeed the scented candles you can buy. In fact the essential oils may even positively impact your health and well-being, what’s not to love? I also make sure I’m well stocked with tapers for my candlesticks and tea lights for around the house use.
- This year I’ll also being using essential oils in my new vaporiser for immune support and comforting scents, so I’ve stocked up my supplies this summer to make sure the right blend is available at a moments notice.
- If you like to knit, crochet or quilt then why not make an autumnal themed throw for snuggling under on the patio when the the leaves begin to fall.
- I restock the medicine cabinet with vitamins, essential oil blends and remedies, herbal teas, infant (and adult) paracetamol, and cold remedies in good time for the inevitable arrival of those autumn sniffles.
- I like to get all our pets their annual checkups at the vets, its always a good idea to check their chips are still reading correctly, their vaccinations are all up to date and they’re in tip top condition before the longer nights make things a little more difficult.
- For a bit of fun, or to brush up your knitting skills, why not try knitting yourself a new tea cosy? Tea and Cosy in the same sentence, that’s what it’s all about!
- I take out my girls autumn/winter clothing in the next size up, mend, wash, and iron it ready for use, and gift anything that we won’t need or that I’ve realised is too used, now that I’ve seen it with a fresh pair of eyes.
- I like to start collecting items for the harvest festival donations, we’re not able to contribute financially to all of the charities that we would like but adding a few non-perishables to our shopping trolley each week through the summer makes for a nice easy way to make a difference in our local community.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have anything to add or things that your family does to prepare for autumn. I will be posting an update very soon on how we’ve got on with that summer bucket list and all the fun things we’ve been up to this summer. Have a great week.