January 5, 2014

25 Things To Do When It's 40 Below

We're used to cold weather, but it's been on the extreme side this winter.  We're expected to have negative 55 to negative 65 degree wind chills tonight & tomorrow.  The last time I remember cold like that was my oldest sister's wedding in January 1996.  Oh, the stories!
Anyway, Minnesotans are being told to "hunker down."
It's the weekend, and school has already been canceled state-wide for tomorrow, so the kids & I put together this list of things (cheap, free, and at home) to do while avoiding frostbite.

1.  Bake!  And then bake some more. 

2.  Read.  Don't have a book on hand?  Re-read.  I picked up a book that I was going to get rid of this morning, and started re-reading it since it had been over a decade.   

3.  Watch a movie.  Last night we watched The Croods.  Very amusing.

4.  Play a game.  Cards.  Dominoes.  Monkey in the Middle.  Hide & Seek.

5.  PURGE.  There's never a better time to get rid of things than when you're cooped up with them!

6.  Write a letter.   Arctic January days are a good time to write holiday thank you notes.

7.  Knit something warm.  

8.  Learn something new.  I keep telling myself I'll learn how to crochet.   

9.  Practice something you want to get better at.  Piano, still life photography, headstands.  Our six-year-old is practicing jumping rope today, and getting better at it!  (Lilly's been practicing the headstands.)

10.  Pamper yourself.  Soak your feet, paint your toes, use that new sugar scrub you got for Christmas.  Or google how to make some.

11.  If you feel industrious & up to braving the cold, you could split firewood, as our teenage boys are doing right now.  As Henry Ford said, "Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice."

12.  Build something with Lincoln Logs or Legos.  There is no age limit to these great toys.

13.  Catch up on ordering prints of your photos.  I'm terrible about ordering prints.  Now is a good time to take advantage of the convenience of doing this from home.

14.  Clean out your sock drawer.  Especially if you got nice new ones for Christmas.

15.  Update your address book - mine was a mess of outdated addresses when I went to mail holiday greetings in December. 

16.  Blow bubbles outside & watch them freeze.  We did this a few years ago.  It works.
(Karo Syrup has a good bubble recipe here.)

17.  Get a jump start on making Valentines! 

18.  Water your house plants.  (I just realized I've been neglected mine - they're pretty dry with all the running of the furnace & burning of the fire lately.)  Give them some TLC & sprucing up.

19.  Take a nap.  Napping can improve your senses, creativity, health, and mood.  Did you know the ancient Romans were biphasic sleepers?  Many animals are hibernating right now in the cold & long hours of dark, and napping is totally natural, too! 

20.  If you're a meal-planner person (which, unfortunately, I'm not), you could get ahead on freezing some family meals. 

21.  Or, have a candlelit dinner with your family.  (Beau's suggestion.)  

22.  Fill in birthdays & special occasions on your new calendar.  Mark some days off for yourself!

23.  Look at maps & make a list of places you want to go.  Perhaps warmer ones. 

24. Marvel at the creatures, the frogs & the toads, the birds & the deer that actually survive out there in this.

25. Drink cocoa, pile on blankets, & keep warm!


  1. Ha...this great, Amanda! We're supposed to be 6 degrees on Tuesday, which is just ridiculous for even one day in Georgia. :)

    Stay warm, my friend!

  2. i would add: fix a picture puzzle and put those photos you've printed in your photo album.

  3. This is a good list. I remember when I lived in South Dakota having days of -20 weather. After living in Oregon for 25 years, I can't quite fathom that now. Stay warm you guys!

  4. Great list Amanda. Whittling animals or toys out of wood is good, it just takes a bit of twig or fire wood and a sharp pocket knife. Increases knife skills and imagination and the little ones can watch in wonder as things are created. Scrabble and Rumicub with numbers are both educational and fun.
    Wish I were there, I'd teach you to crochet in ten minutes.
    The wood chopping is great, not just for warmth but also exercise. As an old woods man once said: "there's a lot of warmth in that there axe handle!"
    Origami is another goodie for fine finger skills and precision fording. Learning to do all the different kinds of knots, you never know when they will come in handy.
    When I was little we did not have to go to school when the temperature dropped or rose above 40.
    While you are enduring probably the cordless winter on record, we are melting away in the hottest summer in recorded history for the whole continent. Happy days.

    1. I like the idea of whittling wood! My dad had some wood carvings that always fascinated me as a kid. My mom & sisters keep telling me that crocheting is faster & easier than knitting, for some reason I haven't learned yet.
      Hottest summer in history.. what a world. Stay cool, Arija!

    2. Crocheting is TOTALLY easier and faster than knitting...

      I ordered a book about knitting in middle school, but when I received my package in the mail, there was a note that said something along the lines of "We're sorry, the book you wanted has been backordered until infinity, so have this book instead...", and a middle-school level beginner book on crochet. Therefore, I taught myself to crochet, and just crocheted this throw: http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/holiday-cables-throw :)
      Learn! Do it!
      1)Very instantly-gratifying, since crochet rows are much taller than knit rows, so it feels like you're working a lot faster.
      2) Less elbow room required than knitting --> good for car rides, etc. (Also, you can't accidentally stab yourself with the needle when you hit a pothole...not that I've ever done that >><<>>)
      3) Much like knit & purl, once you learn chain stitch and single crochet, you're basically set for life haha.

    3. Well, learning to crochet is one thing on the list I didn't get to yet, but the next time I break out the yarn - I'm on it!! :)

  5. A great list Amanda. I wish I had a puzzle to put together, but since I don't I'm reading.
    Stay warm and enjoy your time with your family!

    1. We just finished a 600+ piece puzzle of a map of the world! :)

  6. Nice list! Light the fire - but make sure you can still see outside!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    I have to move all the wood we have from the front of our house to the woodpile out the back when we get our wood - so it warms me 3 times!

  7. what a great 25 to do list, it isn't cold here but dreary enough so we are tackling our first puzzle ever!

  8. What a great list! And that's darn cold, all right. I do marvel at the creatures that manage to survive such temperatures. I'm glad you are warm and safe in that awful cold weather. :-)

  9. Sounds like you and the kiddos are staying busy, Amanda.

    Our weather sounds about the same as yours. Saturday J did end of the year book work/ tax prep. I did a few things on your list! Yesterday I edited pictures.

    Thanks for suggesting The Book Thief last week. I downloaded it to my kindle and started reading it the next day. I am less than half through it and really enjoy the story. I read a lot of WWII stories. If you want a WWII Holocaust reading idea let me know.

  10. This is a great list. We have marked off a few of those items already!

  11. Gosh---I cannot imagine temperatures that low although we are at zero (F) here this morning --which is rare for us. Crazy winter!

    Great list --but the first thing I thought of when I read your title was to jump in bed, turn on the electric blanket and sleep away the day!!! ha


  12. I love the list! We've been doing lots of these lately. It's not near as cold here in MO as it is up where you are, but it's close to 0 degrees today so it's pretty miserable. We've been playing games and watching tv a lot. And I've been baking and cooking, too. And cleaning out the garage!

  13. A great to-do list, Amanda. We have 3 of the Grands with us since Sat - they must go home tomorrow after skiing to start school on Wed. It was about minus 25 wind-chill this morning but the sun was shining, so we all bundled up and went skiing. I had to take the youngest inside for some cocoa, but now that we're back home, they're all out sledding. Thanks for the bubble recipe - it's amazing how bubbles entertain us all - even the resident foxes! Keep warm. Did I tell you my daughter and family are moving to MN in May? (She's not fond of cold weather!)

  14. Keep warm my friend. I have been thinking about you, your family and this cold cold weather you are getting. Glad you have a list of things to do. I like the baking and the napping! Happy new year - looking forward to all of your posts.

  15. Great list! Keep warm and enjoy the snow if you can.

  16. What a great list you have here.. I have been watching on the news how cold it is so keep warm and have fun....


  17. Your list is a great one even for those of us that don't have to put up with temperatures quite as cold as yours. We're supposed to get above freezing today, so I'll need to get out and split some firewood. We've gone through a lot since the weekend.

  18. My mom reminded me again to send her the Christmas photos I took at her house... I need to edit them first and should have had this done already! Your post reminded me again. Thanks! :)

  19. Oh I love your tips, all of them! We've been having candlelight dinners this week, due to a problem with the wire to out lamp ... But the sock draver could use some minus degrees very badly in order to get organized :) The weather is very mild - maybe we get some frost the coming week. Stay warm, my friend!

  20. Loved this list!

  21. Great list!
    Tweeted it for you.