11 Sanity-Saving Tips for February & a seed giveaway tease!
Well. It’s February, and the winter here in Nebraska–though it has been a beautiful winter, with heaps of snow (which I love)–is, by all accounts, getting long in the tooth. We here in the Great Plains (as I take it upon myself to speak for all) are generally accustomed to cold and grey Decembers and Januarys. Sometimes Novembers are no picnic, either. Even so, it seems easy enough to cope with the weather during those months, full as they are of family get-togethers, gifts to give and receive, and celebratory foods. And winter has just begun at that point, as well. But February is another matter entirely.
By the time February blows in on its bitter galling winds, we (again, speaking for the collective, as I’ve not heard a single friend say anything different) have grown weary of the blast of cold wind on our chapped faces, and the perilous slipping on the ice every time we venture out. Yet another weekend forecast of ice, snow, and sub-zero temperatures cause a beleaguered atmosphere.
Beleaguered:Beset with difficulties. Hard-pressed, troubled, in difficulties, under pressure, under stress, with one’s back to the wall, in a tight corner.
Here are some gardening tips that I suggested to keep you sane in February; I wrote the story of Amalia’s February Iowa birth,which is a good story actually (if you have a minute); I shared some February-related ramblings and a bit of my melodrama stress five years ago,(sorry!) and here’s where the kids and I were in Ohio in February, awaiting the birth of little Ellie. (It’s so hard now to imagine a world Before Ellie! It was definitely a sadder place then!)
March will not be a problem. January is not so bad, either, but February in Nebraska . . . it has been cold and wintry here now for a good long time. There’s not usually a lot of sunshine. Or, any. One day it’ll be mild and you will go out for a walk and you will imagine that you smell spring on the wind. The next day, the temperature will plummet 40 or 50 degrees (no kidding!) and you’ll have to pry a shovel from the frozen mud to hack at the ground in order to release the chicken yard gate from where it froze during the night. Bother. Usually February leans toward the downright cruel end of the temperature spectrum.
So . . for this year’s installment of a
Shivering Surviving February post, I came up with a list of 11 things that I am doing to keep my spirits from flagging (too much) in this, the shortest yet (in my humble opinion) the toughest month. I hope you can gain some encouragement or ideas from my list.
This February I am . . .
- Working on producing a musical melodrama with a noisy, lovable bunch of home school kids. (This does, it’s true, make the month more bearable. I recommend it! If you can connect with a bunch of energetic kids for a few hours every week, teaching them to do something that you love, the time will fly, which is good when it’s February.)
- Making time to do something that I love–just because–every day. (This is a long list, ha! 🙂 Currently I am combining learning about visible mending (my sis gave me this book for Christmas and I am still swooning over it) and watching through the old Star Trek series with Mack. He looooves this series and–while it moves a little slowly for me–I find it perfect background noise for my mending projects. 🙂 I see that there are several other books on mending that might be worth investigating, too. I guess mending is a Thing. Happily. My Mom has been mending in a creative way for as long as I can remember. She’s a trend-setter, though. No surprise.
- Connecting with others daily and intentionally. I am high on the introversion scale, and a little bit shy (sigh) on top of that, but I know that I am happier and more productive if I urge myself to connect with others. I set up meetings, make phone calls, invite folks over. I am a better, happier, more interesting person for it. As a good friend told me once years ago: “We aren’t meant to go through this life alone.” We are wired for community and connection. And–who knows–by doing this, maybe you’ll be making somebody else’s February easier on them.
- Exercising and getting sunshine, if there is any to be had. *sigh* I walk our dogs, work out with weights in the (cold) basement, and just take advantages of opportunities to get out and get busy.
- Planning my gardens! I can really geek out on this, especially now that my gardening is a business, not just a hobby. I organize seed packets, obsessively search out new things in seed catalogs to grow, research how to grow new things, and make long “to-grow” lists. I keep a running grow list spreadsheet on my computer, and record every time I plant something–inside or out–and how it went. I also have a fat graph paper notebook–which, honestly, I’ve been eyeing but haven’t started on it yet. It’s the carrot on my garden planning stick.
- Cleaning something every day. Beyond the daily maintenance of dishes, laundry, etc., I choose a fifteen-minute cleaning chore–a drawer to clean out, a pile to sort and get rid of, etc., and amazingly it does lift my spirits. My house is big and I have many areas of clutter and uneasiness, so it’s easy for me to make a tiny difference. If your house is under control and tidy and organized, then this one won’t be doable for you. Also, I pity you. (Joking!)
- I play a little every day. I put it on my to-do list. I am very good at working, but not so great at playing. I coerce little Mack to play with me, because he is very good at playing. Board games, card games, throwing darts in the cold basement, getting beat (again) at chess. It’s all good.
- I feed the birds. Those of you birdwatchers will get this one!
- I do some art and/or make some music. I consider it a great day if I can get both in.
- I memorize something positive. Scripture is good, as is a beautiful poem. That way when my mind starts to churn on February-related angst, I can redirect it to something helpful and beautiful.
- I make plans. It’s a good month to get fun things on the calendars: family parties, vacation trips, etc.
What about you? Is February a challenging month for you? If so, how on earth do you get through it?
Oh, gosh, I almost forgot . . . my thrilling announcement!
If you are a gardener, specifically if heirloom tomatoes are one of your favorite things to grow (raising both hands!) you’ve probably heard of Brad Gates. Aka the “Tomato Guy” from California who has developed some of the most beautiful and unique tomatoes on the planet right now.
I’ve grown a number of these tomato varieties myself and can say honestly that several of them are in my permanent grow list.
I’ve reached out to Brad and he has graciously donated seeds for me to give away to a lucky gentle reader. 🙂 Moreover . . . he sent enough that I can grow the same seeds and we can compare notes at the end of the season. Yay!!
Sound like fun? I’m doing a happy dance just thinking about it. And, gentle reader, if I have a reason to do a happy dance in FEBRUARY, that’s a
miracle good thing.
So . . . please do stay in touch! Follow me on the socials, and put your email address in that little box up there. I promise I won’t spam you, but you won’t miss seed giveaways and other delights!
February. Hmmph. We will make it through, won’t we? I’ll root for you, gentle reader. We’re all in this together, after all. If you find February difficult and have learned some coping strategies, I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments below. I learn the best things from you all, you know.
More from my site
- Miner’s Lettuce: how to grow it, and what to do with it once you’ve got it!
- Interview with Brad, Wild Boar Farms “Tomato Guy,” and seed giveaway!
February is a short month. I have new recipes to try, and start seeds for herbs and greens indoors. You definitely have the right attitude to bear up under gray skies. I enjoy reading your blog.
Thank you, Margaret. The best thing about February is that is goes so quickly!!! hehe
I, too, am in Nebraska. I love it, lived here all my life, but January does seem to have 146 days sometimes. My closest friend (who is in Nashville) and I had to create a exercise challenge with each other to get through the next month or so. And seed catalogs!! Oh my!! They are my sanity right now. And the chickens – born in June, giving me lots of pretty eggs even through the cold, and making me laugh with their ridiculousness.
Oh boy, Stacy, yes, the seed catalogs! I have several favorites and I had ordered ALL THE SEEDS I’D EVER NEED by mid-January. (Actually I mean more than I could ever plant, ever ever ever!!) But then I spent a week in Missouri with my son and his fam, and Matthew receives a totally different array of seed catalogs . . . I got so excited by his catalogs that I ordered even . . more . . seeds. (IN my defense, when there are varieties of tomatoes that I’ve never heard about . . . I have to try a few of them, right??) What are your favorite seed catalogs to shop from?
Yes, YES – you must grow all the tomatoes! Never too many! Right now I am enjoying Seed Savers Exchange. I am looking for a couple more heirloom catalogs to order from. My mother, who is the Queen of Bringing-All-Plants-Back-to-Life, loves to get all the catalogs and order extra things for me that she doesn’t have room for on her tiny city lot. (Actually, maybe it’s not so tiny, but she’s just filled hers to capacity already.) We moved to an acreage four years ago, so my sweet mother has taken it upon herself to populate all ten acres with her favorite plants. I couldn’t love it more!! 🙂
Oh, what a lovely mother you have, Stacy!!
Really enjoyed post about February (and, the photos — especially the ballerina-shoes footsie). Although I live where it doesn’t get as cold (nor do I get as much snow as you do) (4,500 foot level in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California), I do get stuck in my house now and then. We recently had a foot of snow, and although it doesn’t sound like much, I have a small “putt-putt” car that is low to the ground (a city car, lol), so I usually don’t drive anywhere for five to seven days until I remove snow from around my car/driveway, and the plow clears the roads.
I am going to take your advice and work on some crafts. I tend to either read or am on the computer, or maybe tidying up the house a bit. I need to “shake things up” and do other things. I do feed the birds and love watching them on the snow.
I try to be GRATEFUL every day. Grateful that I have a warm and cozy place in the winter. Grateful that I have enough to eat. Grateful for “small miracles” — for example, my back went out when I was raking some gravel nine days ago. Now, there is only an ache where there had been horrible pain upon any movement. I was even able to go out a few days ago and little by little, use a broom to sweep the powdery foot of snow off my car, and also sweep (instead of shovel) soft snow from my driveway. No pain while working for a few hours. A miracle for which I said, “thank You, thank You, thank You, God”.
I’m so glad I subscribed to your blog. I enjoy your writing and your perspective on life very much.
Deborah, bless you! Thank you for your encouraging comment! Yes, gratitude is key, isn’t it? You sound like you could be my neighbor . . . a very Midwestern attitude is to count your blessings because “it could always be worse.” So happy that your back is cooperating and that you can get out and about. What crafts do you like to work on?
My current crafting interest is making pine needle baskets. I took a class way back in 1989 and made one small basket, but never followed up and didn’t make another basket until this past April. There was a four hour class offered at a local nursery, so I thought I’d try making another basket. I’ve since made four baskets; three I’ve given away as gifts. Then, I took another class in July (pine needle on gourd), which was taught by a lady who lives about an hour and a half away. It was a real privilege to take her class — she makes amazing, museum-quality pine needle and gourd baskets.
I haven’t worked on a basket in about six months — I got distracted by outside projects (including building a block retaining wall by myself!). I do vow to start working on a basket this week (maybe finish up the pine needle on gourd basket). More snow fell overnight, so about 22 inches accumulated this past week. I’m not going anywhere, my back went out again yesterday, so I have NO excuse not to work on a basket!
My “I’m grateful for” list for today: power is on, I’m warm, was able to go to the market day before yesterday so I have plenty of supplies for me and my cat buddies, and there was not as much snow piled up as I had feared when I awoke this morning. I’m also grateful for my four-footed cane (now my best friend, lol).
Oh Deborah, I would so love to see a picture of your baskets. Basket-making is not something I’ve ever learned how to do, but it has always interested me. And pine needles – they must be so beautiful!!
Seed giveaway?? Count us in!! My hubby is recuperating from knee replacement, and a tender back….today we start our hot pepper seeds, and dream of spring gardening!
Oh Missy, your poor hubby! But hopefully he’ll be all mended before Spring. Stay posted for the seed giveaway! (I’ve sowed some of my pepper seeds but they are so slow to germinate when it is so cold and grey!)
There are two good things about February. First, Valentine’s Day, which I love, because I love love. ❤️ Second, Melodrama! I really love watching the show and seeing how everyone’s hard work has come together to make something so enjoyable and funny! I also enjoy spending time with fellow drama moms and seeing the interactions of the melodrama kids. What a great bunch! Other than those two things, February is the longest short month! Getting out to do some socializing is something that makes it more bearable for me. I like your list of tips. I’m going to spend some time thinking of ways to make February less glum for me too! In closing, please, Spring, come soon!!
Jenny, thank you so much for your comment! YES yes yes on Valentine’s Day!! And I do recommend some fun theatre engagement in February. It’s not an accident that we do most of our melodrama work in February! It keeps our minds off the weather, ha!! I’m just hoping this year that there will be no scary winter storms during Show Week!
One more thing: next year will be the first time in 6 years that I won’t have at least one child in melodrama. I’m still trying to convince my younger son(s) to give it a try. We will definitely still come to the performances though!
Jenny dear, *ugh* I’ve already starting feeling SAD about losing your daughter to college (why do kids have to grow up so quickly??) And I still miss your sweet college boy son and am so pleased that he pops in to visit now and then. I’m hoping that you can talk your younger sons into trying it out. . . !! *fingers crossed*
Many of your strategies are good ones that I try to keep up. I am lucky enough to have a friend who invites me to help take therapy cats to a local nursing home. It is a real gift to myself to bring some happiness and laughter to those folks! Cold and gloom can’t compete!
February is a good time to create replacement bird houses,now that the gourds are cured. The wrens like their gourds hanging under the eaves near the house doors , and more birds equals less bugs come summer!
Janet, I love your ideas. In fact I have some gourds (STILL!) out in our shed that I had kind of forgotten about, that would be great to make into bird houses. Great idea! And I love the therapy cat idea! Getting your mind off yourself is always a good move in February (and always) I think. (Therapy chickens? Whaddya think??)
I think Therapy Chickens is a terrific idea,if the chickens are in favor of it! Such soft,beautiful creatures,and light-weight enough to sit on the lap or chest of someone who is frail. I wonder if this might be a good project for 4-H or FFA ?
VERY interesting notion, Janet!
Well. THIS February has definitely been a bit unruly! I’m thinking Mother Nature is a tad hormonal these days. Our ice storm is just starting to melt away, still night temps in low single digits but possibly a high of 65 on Thursday? Bizarre weather. Soooo longing for Spring! In the meantime, I lead a Bible Study group and that, gentle Amma, is quite time consuming but rewarding. My for-my-sanity pleasure is teaching a stamping/card making class twice a month to a rousing group of 70+ yo women who are anything BUT their age in spirit! Doing this brings such joy to my heart, so I know how you feel about your drama classes. Does your son receive the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog from Mansfield, MO? Literally to. die. for. (www.rareseeds.com) If you have not seen it, you are in for a real treat! Thank you for another delightfully inspiring post!
Sharon, I loooove that catalog and have been to Baker Creek for their May festival (and plan to go this year, too!). I discovered that catalog the first time at my son Matthew’s place, too, and it has been my favorite ever since!
Hello again Amy.
I was reading your blog on Beleaguered February to my husband (the comedian). His sugestion which was a bit of a dig at me, was to refuse to turn the calendar from January to February. Then in a month you can go straight to March,(huh huh huh), his noise. We have two calendars, in our home that I always forget to change.
Here in Idaho, our winter has been very mild until February got here. It is an unusual winter for sure! Today we are looking at two cold fronts bringing probably our heaviest snow this year. Predicting three to five inches in the valley.
One of my escapee hens is already hiding eggs and we have garlic sprouting coming up.
Well I hope you get sunshine and warmer weather soon. Thank goodness for the gardening catalogs.
Patricia, so true, Thank God for seed catalogs and a wood stove!
Surprised that your friend Sharon (just above) asked you about Baker Creek! Obviously she doesn’t know that the BC catalog is stashed right under the Bible on your bedside table. And that you have introduced dozens (scores?) of other serious farmers/gardeners to it. Including me – who has been growing veg for market for many years. The website is at: http://www.rareseeds.com. But beware – that catalog can suck you in and you can spend many frigid February hours perusing it!
So true! And actually I discovered the Baker Creek catalog at my son MAtthew’s kitchen table years ago, too. It was a much smaller catalog in those days but still packed with beautiful photos and weird, unusual varieties that I was instantly captivated by! It’s been my go-to seed catalog ever since and hooboy they now have FREE SHIPPING so if I forget something there’s no reason not to jump back in and order just a few seeds at a time. Life is good!
I have been doing many of the same things as you to get through February. I have been organizing my recipes, financial papers, craft supplies and herbal info. I will be starting seeds soon and we hope to be tapping maple trees soon also.
Oooh! Sounds lovely, Sue. Especially the tapping maple trees!
Well, this is the time of year that I get a bit stir crazy and a bit of the SAD if you know what I mean. I have been trying to do some of the things that I just don’t have/make the time for during the nicer months of the year. I just read one of the books that you recommended awhile back, “Delay, Don’t Deny” and have been debating whether to try it or not. I need to pick your brain about the intermittent fasting thing! Also, I have been longing to make soap. I had some soaping buddies when we lived in California but since we moved back, almost 6 years ago, to beautiful Nebraska I haven’t found anyone to soap with. I finally decided to force my 2 reluctant children to be my soaping partners. We made 4 different batches of soap last week, but now they have to cure for over a month before we can try them out. 🙁 I can’t wait!
Thanks for your blog update! It’s an excellent way to spend a bit of time on a cold February night while waiting for the next big snow fall. 😉
Tina, this winter has been a challenge to us SAD-prone types. I struggle with that, too. I’d be happy to talk with you about the DDD book. If you’re interested in learning more, there is a Facebook group that has been quite informative to me. https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelayDontDeny/
Making soap sounds like fun!! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s always so nice to hear from you!
Love your posts and the February tips. We are expecting another big snowfall tomorrow in Ontario Canada. Taking ukulele lessons helps February pass more quickly. Such a happy instrument.