Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall Planning

Fall is MY FAVORITE! And that was true long before it became the hipster of seasons.

While I love Summer, heat and harsh sun were never my bag, so when Fall arrived each year, I celebrated. I love cozy sweater weather, warm scents, the abundance of color (color is my love language), and the promise of all the exciting moments to come. For me, that equals lots of celebrating and preparing.

If you didn't already know, I live in the Buffalo, NY area - and yeah, in our very very (all too very) near future is lots and lots (and lots) of snow. So fall is also the time to pack it all in and prepare for months of hibernation. Today I'm sharing my fall planning to do lists to cover all the bases!

If you're somewhere warm (don't rub it in, mmk?), today's lists probably won't have as much value for you, but that's okay! There's lots of fall fun still on the way!

The Hibernating Cleaning List
Keeping up with daily revolving-chores is one thing, but when you take care of these things, you can relax a little more in those chilly months, knowing there's nothing huge needing to be done!

Hibernating Cleaning List - do these things in fall to make your winter cozier!

1. Swap clothing to cold weather items (x each family member).
2. Clean out every closet.
3. Shampoo the carpets.
4. Clean out the pantry.
5. Clean out & scrub the fridge.
6. Clean under the bed (and any other furniture that needs it!)
7. Flip & sanitize the mattress (with baking soda).
8. Clean out dryer hoses & lint traps.
9. Put away patio furniture & store kids things (like sandboxes, power wheels).
10. Clean out the car(s), wipe everything down & stock with a winter emergency kit and some blankets.
11. Try coats & cold weather accessories on each kid and note what's needed. Pull out anything that fits currently, set up your mudroom or entryway (if you have one) for all the cold weather things you'll need!
12. Vacuum out dirt and debris from between window panes, wash windows inside & out, and if you're ready, swap your screens out for winter (we'll probably hold out until the end of November - we push fresh air season around here since we won't get it back til March or April!)
13. Dust EVERYTHING in detail! Might as well start sniffle season with a few less allergens!
14. Clean out & organize bathroom cabinets and note what medicines and cold needs you'll need to stock up on so you can watch for sales and coupons and stock up a little at a time.
15. Wash/wipe down boots and shoes from last winter so they are ready to go!
16. Weed out & organize toys. Ya know, Santa is coming soon!
17. Scrub garbage cans. Take them out side and hose them down before your taps are shut off for the winter, and wipe them down with a disinfecting spray once they're dry.
18. If you have a generator (and you probably should if you live in a very long winter area like we do), giving it a test run and filling up gas cans is a good idea!
19. Clean up furniture for lots of cuddle weather - vacuum where you can, wipe them down or shampoo them (if you already have or are renting a shampooer, it should have attachment hoses you can use for this), and wipe down kitchen/dining chairs.
20. Give your coffee maker a GOOD scrub - it's going to get used a whole lot, amiright? ;) Run vinegar through it, scrub everything you can reach with a bottle brush to get in tight spaces, run water through it to rinse out all the debris. It should be ready to brew away!

The Freezer Cooking/Pantry Stocking List
Isn't it nice to see a foot or two of snow out of your window and have enough food and supplies at home to stay in your pj's and keep warm at home all day? Take a little time to stock up!

Freezer Cooking & Pantry Storage for the cold months

Freezer Foods I'm making/storing:
1. Hamburger Soup
2. Chili
3. Cookies or Muffins
4. Egg Patties (for breakfast sandwiches)
5. One other crock pot meal, TBD
6. Pizza dough, cheese & pepperoni (enough for 2-3 homemade pizzas)
7. Chicken nuggets (the minimally processed type), turkey hot dogs, and turkey bacon.
8. A package of un-designated chicken, ground turkey, and ground beef for last minute recipes.
9. Baked french toast.

Things I like to keep handy in the pantry:
1. Homemade bread ingredients for the bread machine (yeast, flour, sugar, butter)
2. A handful of cans of: diced tomatoes, chicken stock, black beans, tomato sauce (we use all of these in lots of recipes!)
3. Boxes of pasta and a couple jars of spaghetti sauce.
4. Boxes of soup mix (like lipton or mrs. grass....I'm not a fan of canned soup or meat)
5. Kid food that keeps: mac and cheese, fruit cups, jars of applesauce, graham crackers, granola bars, boxes of raisins.
6. Taco seasoning, cumin, nutmeg, garlic powder, curry powder, garam masala, and dried herbs (oregano, parsley & basil) which I usually dry myself from our herb garden.

1. Schedule 1-2 feezer cooking days, and double your recipes for that day. Then you'll not only have something to put in the freezer, but dinner made as well! It's torture seeing and smelling all the things you're putting in storage and not having them to eat, so make some for the day, too! Plus doing things this way usually means you can combine similar parts of recipes and save time, like chopping multiple veggies at once, and baking with an oven that was preheated from your first recipe.
2. Stock up on storage before your freezer cooking day. Gallon freezer baggies are my favorite, but you may also want (and I also use), foil, and one-time-use baking trays. That way if you make something that's a pop-in-the-oven type of recipe, your bake-wear isn't stuck in your freezer for months.

The Organizing Your Life List
A little TLC to your calendar or planner can go a long way!

Life Organizing for the busy Fall months

1. Make note of everything coming up through the end of the year, as far in advance as you can manage - it's the most festive time of the year, and there is SO MUCH to juggle! Don't forget: medical appointments, school parties and events, volunteer shifts, PTA deadlines, holiday parties and celebrations, outings you plan to go on, and your fall cleaning & freezer cooking days!

2. Add everything you possibly can to your Google Calendar and share it with your spouse so you are both aware of everything coming up and when you might need to help each other out.

3. Use a large desk or wall calendar to note everything as well - I dunno, we love you husbands, but sometimes we need billboards and multiple forms of presenting info before you remember it. ;)

4. It's become "a thing", almost a scrapbooking or journaling type of hobby, to pretty up your planner. My BFF happens to be in the planner-obsessed camp, and has shown me some of her sources for finding seriously cute stickers and stamps to make getting organized fun as heck (spoiler alert: it's etsy). I am doing my best to avoid the planner crazy because I know I'm not so good at keeping up with it, but I am throwing back to a childhood tradition of decorating a large desk calendar each month for all to see. It makes it realllllllly fun to note things to do, and it helps you remember things by paying so much attention to them. Plus, uh, stamps and stickers are fun, fyi.

Calendar decorating

5. Create a new note on your phone's notepad for Christmas ideas. I actually have this going all year long so that whenever something comes to mind, I don't lose track of it. This also helps you work out a budget and a method to holiday shopping madness. It's really fun to take your kids for a walk through Target once or twice so they can tell you what they like - it's like making a wedding registry for kids! We did this once recently, and we'll do it again on a snowy, festive day.

6. If you haven't already, pull out Halloween costumes to see what you have, and shop for or order what you need! It may only be the first, but Halloween events could be starting as early as this weekend!

7. Set reasonable and varied goals. I find that I feel the most accomplished in my days if I keep things varied.
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Don't let the idea of these lists be overwhelming to you - so much of this can be tackled in little pieces here and there, and if you take a little time to modify your lists for your family and schedule time for them, your life will be cleaned, organized & prepped for a long fall & winter of chilly, cozy enjoyment!


  1. I think I'm going to need to print your post out cause the lists are fantastic (and I'm a total lister!)! It's still in the low 80s here BUT the mornings and evenings have that delicious chill that requires a sweater or light jacket. I can finally open windows for a bit without suffocating!

    1. Ooh, please do! I'm a list-aholic ;) And yay for your hint of fall! I'd be so sad without the fall experience!