Winter Gardening and Crafting on a Cold Day

With a long weekend I was able to spend some much-needed, quality time with my grandson.  Arriving bright and early it was bitterly cold outside so we cooked a pan of oatmeal for breakfast while we caught up on each other’s news. He got a sparkle in his eyes and asked if there was work he could do. Oh how that boy loves to work.

There isn’t much work that he can do at the moment, but there was a large pile of leaves to move and more to be raked up.


In this area I have planted a peach and an apricot dwarf trees, and have another spot ready for a plum tree in the spring.  I save money on mulch by not buying any.  I began by laying salvaged cardboard which I then topped with leaves last year.

Leaves will break down at varying rates. These maple leaves take a long time to break down, I still find entire leaves from last year,  whereas the silver maple leaves that drop in the garden decompose quickly.

There are many who will warn against using leaves as mulch. The fear is that the leaves will some how breed disease and damage your plants. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve never had a problem using leaves as mulch and will continue to do so.  When I think about the forest floor and all the leaf matter that is left to decay I believe this is as nature intended, an untouched forest is one of the healthiest ecosystems I can think of. That said you may want to do your homework before following my lead.

The children have been enjoying the leaves for weeks now. The little guy loves leaves, he will pick up handfuls of colorful leaves, they must have a long stem, they must then be placed in a jar or vase as a bouquet.


If the rake and even the broom are being used the shovel works just as well to clear those pesky leaves from the deck.  With the temps being too cold for this guy to be outside too long I am finding myself going out first thing in the morning and making sure the leaves are swept up or he will refuse to come inside when he visits until he’s cleaned the deck and ramps, and he takes a lot longer than I do.

Of course with cold temperatures the children can’t be outside all day, so with no school we came back indoors and played board and card games, turned the oven on to make a casserole and then my grandson asked to sew.


Sorry for the quality of the picture but it was getting dark and I don’t have a flash on my phone.  Anyway, it took a few minutes to determine what kind of sewing he wanted to do.  On the machine or by hand, did he want to make something in particular? Turns out he wanted to use one of the scraps of cross stitch fabric I save to make an ornament for the family tree at home.

He pulled out a green marker and drew his design then selected the thread colors that would fill in the design as he pictured it in his head.  It wasn’t finished before it was time to go home so we packaged up the thread, needle and fabric for him to take with him.

Speaking of Christmas ornaments, The JOY hanger his sister finished last week has been hung. Having his sister make a decoration for the home might be what gave him the idea to make an ornament as well. There is a healthy sibling rivalry where neither one wants to be left out of any activity with grandma.   🙂



I hated to see my grandson go home but I desperately needed rest and my alone time after a week of company and socializing.

Saturday I found a package at my door. I wasn’t expecting anything so was curious. This is what I found.


The package was from my electric company.  It contained three CFL bulbs, seven LED bulbs, three LED night lights, and a furnace whistle.

This energy saving package was sent free of charge to customers who in the past requested help with their bill or kept their utility bill lower than the average household.  As I’ve never asked for help I’m assuming the efforts I’ve made to keep my utility bills as low as possible are to thank for this.

I don’t use CFL bulbs for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not thrilled to have mercury in my light bulbs, I don’t care for the light that comes from them, and after seeing how these bulbs can melt and leave a burned smell in the home I don’t want anything to do with them.  Finally, my electrician son informs me that CFL bulbs use such a large amount of energy to turn them on that one would need to leave the bulb on for hours to see a savings over incandescent bulbs.

After saying all that, I have friends who love the CFL bulbs. I made one call and had re-homed them. My son took two of the LED bulbs for the hallway of his house as that was the only location that he hadn’t upgraded to LED. I will hold on to the remaining bulbs until I’ve updated the last fixtures in the house, any I don’t need will be passed on to someone who can use them.

The LED night lights were perfect as I was planning to purchase three SnapPower outlet covers, one for each of the upstairs bedrooms and one for the kitchen.  At $14.95 each this care package saved me a bundle.  I may still upgrade the upstairs rooms with the outlet covers from SnapPower because I don’t like things plugged in to an outlet where the littlest one can get his hands on them.

You may be wondering why I wanted a night light for the kitchen.  The simple answer is that unless you are entering the kitchen from the outside you need to walk through a very dark room at night to find the only switch.  If I, or a guest (like the little ones), get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom we have to carefully walk through a dark kitchen to reach the bathroom.  While I know my way around in the dark the children don’t and I didn’t want them walking into the corner of a cabinet.  I will admit that even I am enjoying not finding my way around in the dark.

I have no use for the furnace whistle which when installed will whistle when the furnace filter needs replaced.  If you or someone you know would like to have this drop me a note or leave a comment below and I will be happy to mail it to you.




  1. Nice for you to have your grandson…and very nice for him. I have often loved the continuity/inspiration/love you provide for all your Grandchildren…and I suspect that they also strongly love it.

    re the light bulbs..well, I am glad you got a few you could use, surely.

    but, the logic of the electric company providing energy saving bulbs to folks who are already “super savers” bewilders me. Seems, to me, that the better logic would be to have someone from the company go around to folks who use a lot of energy, and point out how these could save energy/money and give them a box of these?


    • I thought the same thing about the light bulbs but then I thought about it and realized that there needs to be a way to educate them first, because the only thing they know is which bulbs have a cheaper upfront cost. For some people energy efficiency isn’t high on their radar. It would be nice if we could get some kind of educational program going in neighborhoods but at this time I would have to assume it would need to be all volunteer led.


  2. Very interesting and kind of nice that you were gifted with so many energy saving devices. Almost every light in my house is LED now. Including my Christmas lights. I need night lights everywhere as walking in the dark causes my brain to send me in a spin trying to find up. I can no longer function in total darkness like I did before. I can’t tell you how low my electric bill is now that I’m alone again. My sister was complaining yesterday that my house was cold. So I made her get up and help put on the tree lights and put Christmas decorations on the high shelves for me. Warmed her right up. It’s the sitting still that makes me cold too. Today is my day to change furnace filters. It was on my calendar and written on the filter so I know when I put them in. Nothing gets left to memory anymore. 😦 My daughter works for Lockheed-Martin Energy Trust here. They have branches all over the country. They send people to apartment complexes and offers free light bulbs and water saving devices and will actually install them for you. She always wanted to work for someone that was doing conservation work and then this job fell into her lap. We are all trying to do whatever we can. Stay warm and stay safe though. It’s important too.


    • If I were still able to walk I’d need nightlights as well because my equilibrium had been off for years.

      I have all but the outside lights converted to LED, but there’s the new fixtures that will need light bulbs.

      I’d be with your sister, can’t take the cold but yes, sitting still will only make it worse. Nice you found work for your sister to do. 🙂

      I didn’t realize Lockheed-Martin had an energy trust – good to know though. I can see why your daughter was happy when she found the job, I’d love to have work that made me feel as if I were making a difference at this point. I have the kids so have to be satisfied with seeing their knowledge grow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, I am only 5’1″ so he is tall for his age! We have converted to LED here, expensive to buy but last years. Lois, we use fallen leaves here for mulch and it’s common practice, I have never heard that about mould!!!


    • Wendy, he is so very tall I expect one day his father will even have to look up to him. 🙂

      Yes, LED bulbs are expensive to purchase. I was lucky in that the first ones I bought were a special price arranged by a utility company and a warehouse store. It was an amazing deal of two bulbs for less than $5.

      I am still confused as to why we are being told not to use leaves as mulch other than maybe to push sales for landscaping supplies? Lately it seems we get fed all kinds of stories that confuse the heck out of me to the point I figure there has to be a profit motive somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean – for everything there seems to be a counter story! I figure if Nature drops her leaves for other plants to grow in then that’s what I will do, even if it’s moving them from where they have fallen.

        Our first LED lights were also a promotion and very cheap 🙂


        • Exactly! We do have to complicate things don’t we? It makes no sense to buy mulch which is dyed with who knows what and call that better for our plants than using what nature gives us for free.

          Nice that you had a promotion for your bulbs too.


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