The Old Farmer’s Almanac for January 11: HOME REMEDIES FOR COUGH RELIEF

 

HOME REMEDIES FOR COUGH RELIEF

NATURAL REMEDIES: HOW TO GET RID OF A COUGH
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Coughs, while rarely serious, can be really annoying. Some of these natural remedies can provide great relief from a cough, especially when you’re having difficulty sleeping.

NATURAL REMEDIES TO RELIEVE COUGHS

  • Lemon juice, sweetened with loaf or crushed sugar, will relieve a cough. –The 1852 Old Farmer’s Almanac.
  • The root of sweet flag was often powdered or sliced and used as a ginger substitute or throat lozenge.
  • Drink mullein flower tea.
  • Catnip tea helps reduce mucus.
  • To suppress a night cough, put 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon sugar into a mug. Pour in boiling water and let steep. The pepper will settle to the bottom. Sip, as needed.
  • Horehound drops, made with the extract of the leaves of the bitter mint Marrubium vulgare, can be combined with honey for a soothing cough drop, or served as a tea with lemon.
  • Hot and spicy foods act as expectorants, loosening up the lung’s secretions.
  • A reader told us that a teaspoon of mustard will relieve a cough for up to four hours. See if it works for you!
  • Some of these natural remedies might also be helpful to relieve anxiety and stress.

FOLK REMEDIES FOR A COUGH: THE DIRT CURE

Now here’s a cure for a severe winter cough that comes from The Old Farmer’s Almanac archives: The Dirt Cure! Here’s how it works:

  • Find a piece of land covered with bushes and small stones.
  • When the land has a foot of snow but is not frozen solid, shovel off the snow.
  • Then cut down the bushes and dig out the stones, turning up fresh and pure soil.
  • Bring fistfuls of soil to your face and inhale the scent of fresh earth.
  • Continue until you have cleared half an acre, and you will find yourself strong and hale, and entirely rid of your cough!
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The Old Farmer’s Almanac for January 11: STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER

 

STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER

It has been snowing, sleeting, and raining. I felt like washing down a plate of holiday cookies with a mug of hot cocoa smothered in whipped cream, sinking back into my recliner, and waking up in April.

Whoa!

Forget New Year’s resolutions. This is the time of year I aim to bolster my resolve to maintain or even improve my mental, emotional, and physical fitness for staying healthy during the long slog. None of the strategies I employ is new. I’ve written about most of them before in this space.

They never become habits. I have to recommit to them every day. And remembering is especially difficult in winter. I assume that’s also true for many of you, so a few of the tips are worth repeating.

  • Exercise more. Yes, it gets colder and darker as winter approaches, and more challenging to stay active. Especially for those of us living in the northern states, a sort of semi-hibernation syndrome attacks: we want to eat more, sleep more, and move less. Challenge yourself to find something you can do to move your muscles and get your heartrate up for half an hour. You don’t have to love, or even like it. But you do have to do it—even if it’s just bundling up and trotting around the driveway in a blizzard, or running in place pumping hand weights while you watch the evening news.
  • Get outdoors every day, weather be damned. The winter blahs have a lot to do with the lack of light. Merely stepping out into the wider natural world confers health benefits. To keep this commitment during the winter, you need the right clothes (lightweight, “wicking” layers, treaded soles or Yaktrax), maybe a pair of adjustable trekking poles and snowshoes
  • Get enough sleep, but don’t hibernate. I aim to sleep seven hours a day. As I’ve grown older, my sleep patterns have become more erratic. I find myself waking more often during the night and napping occasionally during the day. I’ve reduced my coffee consumption (somewhat), and try to forgo both TV and the Internet an hour before I hit the sheets.
  • Cook more from scratch. You’ll save money, generate less waste, and eat healthier meals. You’re likely to gain less winter weight. Forget the idea that you don’t have time. Scratch cooking does require planning. Own a couple of good vegetable-cutting knives. Make friends with a crock pot. Make enough soup (chili, stew, chowder) for three or four meals. Learn to make a great omelet. Fill a cooking bag or roasting pan with enough chicken to last a week; freeze or refrigerate the leftovers.
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, beans, and lentils. Make them the stars of every meal. Why? Because a wealth of clinical research confirms the numerous health and mental health benefits of diets rich in these plant ingredients. Vegetables and dried legumes fill you up, so you’ll be less likely to crave or pig out on the ubiquitous rich treats that greet you at every turn during the winter holiday season. Except for fried potatoes, it’s almost impossible to overdose on fruits, veggies, and legumes.
  • Laugh more. Laughter brings real health benefits. Not in the mood? Even faking it seems to do a body good.
  • Keep an attitude of gratitude. Feeling and expressing gratitude—an important tenet in most religious and spiritual traditions around the world—clinically shown to improve people’s happiness, along with their sleep
  • Practice hygge. A word without an English analogue that the Danes use to describe themselves, hygge means something like “creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.” The Danes live 11 degrees of latitude north of the U.S.’s lower 48, so their cold, dark winters start earlier and last longer than ours. Yet for decades they’ve topped the list of the happiest people in the world and among the top five healthiest.
  • Let a joy keep you. I save this (the title of a poem by Carl Sandberg) for last because it underlies and supports the others. Holding a simple joy in my mind incorporates and transcends feeling grateful. Everybody can find a simple joy to carry around in their mind today. Sandberg ends his poem like this:

Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

Holding a simple joy in the heart prevents the “little deaths” from creeping in and taking over: the hurtful remark, the aches and pains, the empty checkbook, the lost opportunity, the unwelcome chores of the moment (or dreading the six dark months of lugging firewood, hauling out the ashes, shoveling snow).

My joy for today: Luxuriating in my ratty, old recline, basking in the radiant heat of our living room woodstove, secure in the knowledge we have enough dry wood to last until April.

A short nap perhaps? I think I will!

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for January 11: HOW TO PREVENT COLD AND FLU IN WINTER

 

HOW TO PREVENT COLD AND FLU IN WINTER

AVOID GETTING SICK WITH THESE TIPS
How can we avoid colds and flu naturally? Both—along with pneumonia, strep, chicken pox, and norovirus infections (“stomach flu”)—rise dramatically during the winter months. We even suffer more (and more damaging) heart attacks and strokes during winter.

WHY DO PEOPLE GET COLDS AND THE FLU IN THE WINTER?

The answers are complex, elusive, and still evolving.

For a long time, experts told us that we catch more colds and flu in winter because we huddle together indoors in poorly ventilated surroundings—especially schoolchildren, who then pass along the infections to their families.

Skeptical scientists have since proposed many other theories, which may interact and overlap in complex ways. They range from shorter day length, Vitamin D deficiency (either or both of which may alter hormone balance, which in turn lowers immune response), climate and weather factors, physiological responses to exposure to chilly air, and the properties of some viruses themselves, which favor transmission in cold air and low humidity. Furthermore, the dry winter air can slow the normal process of cleaning the nasal mucous linings and drying them out, making them more susceptible to infection.

 

COLD AND FLU PREVENTION TIPS

Regardless of the cause, research has confirmed the value of many self-care practices for helping ward off winter infections. Most of them won’t surprise you.

  • Wash your hands—often. Most epidemiologists cite frequent handwashing as the number one defense against colds and many other common winter bugs. Effective handwashing means 20 seconds of vigorous rubbing with plain soap and water.

 

  • Humidify inside and out. Keep your body well hydrated and your indoor air humidified. We add moisture to the air of our wood-heated home by hanging laundry indoors, keeping a lot of houseplants, and setting steamers on the stoves that release moisture gradually into the surrounding air.
  • Exercise (lightly). Studies show that exercise boosts the immune system to help your body fight infection. One caution: If you have a fever or anything more serious than a light cold, rest up and lay off the exercise.
  • A corollary: Get outdoors more often, especially in midday. Many of us experience a better mood and a boost in energy when we get out on cold, sunny winter days. We’ve found that investing in full-spectrum (mimics the wavelengths in natural sunlight) compact fluorescent lights throughout our house goes a long way towards staving off winter depression (low energy, food cravings, lack of enthusiasm). Some scientists believe that daily exposure to full-spectrum light helps boost immune function, too.
  • Eat your vegetables. Increase your daily intake of green, red, yellow and white vegetables. Eating a greater amount and variety of vegetables and fruit improves immune function.
  • Get enough sleep. Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well reduces your chances of heart problems and other chronic diseases, improves immune function, and even helps prevent obesity. Don’t brag about how little sleep you need. Get your zzzzzz’s!
  • Reduce stress. Stress weakens the immune system, and winter adds several layers of stress for most of us: (e.g., dealing with storms and power outages, sick kids, less daylight, snow shoveling, and the sometimes-overwhelming demands of the winter holidays—including financial stress.
  • Keep holiday food safe. Foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans each year.
  • Say “Yes” to a seasonal flu shot.

 

And Yes! to staying away from sick people (good luck!). Many people take supplements of vitamin D, vitamin C, echinacea, and other products reputed to boost immunity. Please check with your doctor or other trusted healthcare source before you try any new herb or vitamin supplement.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Jan. 10: GET READY FOR THE SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON ECLIPSE

 

 

GET READY FOR THE SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON ECLIPSE

KEEP AN EYE ON THE NIGHT SKY ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 20!
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
On Sunday, January 20, we’ll see the only total lunar eclipse of 2019—and the last one until 2021. Here’s what to look forward to.

THE “SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON” TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE

Yes, that’s really what this event is being called in the media (and yes, it is a mouthful). Let’s break the name down into bite-size pieces:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse: This is the most important part of the name because it tells you what exactly you’re looking at. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow onto the Moon for a period of time and turning it a dark reddish color. Unlike a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse can be viewed without any special eye protection. This eclipse will be the last one visible from North America this year, but here’s a list of all upcoming 2019 eclipses, just in case you’re curious!
  • Blood: This is short for “Blood Moon,” which is the common name for a total lunar eclipse that has been gaining popularity in the media in recent years. It refers to the rusty-red color of the Moon when it’s in Earth’s shadow.
  • Super: But what makes this whole thing so super? Well, the “super” stands for Supermoon, which is the name for a full or new Moon that occurs at the same time that the Moon is closest to Earth in its orbit. At this point in its orbit, the Moon appears ever-so-slightly larger and brighter than it would normally, though the difference is negligible to the naked eye,
  • Wolf: Thanks to the howling of hungry wolves, January’s full Moon was traditionally called the Full Wolf Moon by some Native American tribes and early colonists.

 

WHEN TO LOOK & WHAT TO EXPECT

Unless it’s cloudy, you will have a good chance of catching this eclipse because this one is visible everywhere in the Americas. Boston, L.A., on vacation in the Caribbean, hanging out in Rio—everyone in the Western Hemisphere gets to see this one.

This eclipse even has convenient timing. In the Eastern time zone, the partial eclipse begins at 10:33 P.M., so you don’t even have to set your alarm like for the last one, which unfolded at 5 A.M. In the Pacific time zone, it’s a dinnertime eclipse that starts at 7:33 P.M.

In the hour after the partial eclipse begins, the full Moon goes through a weird series of shapes that are often described as phases. But for most of this time the Moon does not resemble ordinary monthly lunar phases. No, these are strange looking. And they get stranger as they go along, so that the very weirdest might be the Moon’s configuration at around 11:30 EST, when only one little bright spot remains while the rest of the moon has turned orange, making the apparition resemble Mars with its polar cap.

Totality begins at 11:41 EST or 8:41 PST. And now the blackness that first bit into the Moon to produce its odd shapes is replaced by an eerie coppery glow. But this varies from eclipse to eclipse. Some lunar totalities are dark gray with a moon barely visible, and other times it’s almost a brick red. It depends on earthly atmospheric conditions, like whether there’s been recent volcanic eruptions. Actually, it’s the only time we can gaze at a celestial object to get a report card about ourselves.

Another feature—at least for those away from city lights—is that lunar totality restores thousands of faint stars to the winter sky, which the full Moon had washed out to invisibility before the eclipse begin.

Topping it all off, the eclipsed moon will hover in the highest up section of the zodiac. So instead of being possibly blocked by hills, trees or neighbors’ houses like the last lunar eclipse, this one is high overhead.

Lasting over an hour until 12:44 EST, the moon’s ruddy appearance remains more or less unvarying the whole while. Thankfully, this means that no one can be blamed for hitting the hay after observing the eclipse for, say, the first 20 minutes.

LUNAR ECLIPSES VS. SOLAR ECLIPSES

With all these pluses and benefits, it may be necessary not to oversell the event. The phrase “total eclipse” is shared by both lunar and solar versions. But while a solar totality is a frenetic excursion into another dimension, with absolutely astounding short-lived marvels that make many people weep with rapture, such as pink flames shooting from the sun’s edge, a lunar totality is a lengthy phenomenon during which essentially nothing happens.

Okay, so we’ve established that unlike total solar total eclipses, this January 20th event may not be life-changing. But it’s still definitely worth observing. Lunar eclipses always seem to hold a special fascination for children.

If you have any, wake them up for it, and they’ll remember it their entire lives.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe!

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Jan. 10: FULL MOON FOR JANUARY 2019

FULL MOON FOR JANUARY 2019

THE “SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON”
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
The Full Moon for January 2019 rises on the 21st. Traditionally, this Moon was called the Full Wolf Moon. This year, we’ll also be treated to a total lunar eclipse and aSupermoon! Read about how this Moon got its name—plus, see more Moon facts and folklore.

THE FULL WOLF MOON

The Full Wolf Moon reaches its peak on January 21, 2019, at 12:16 A.M. EST (January 20 at 9:16 P.M. for those in PST).

This year, thanks to the Moon being both a Supermoon and part of a total lunar eclipse (a “Blood Moon”), January’s full Moon is being called the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.” How’s that for a name?

Total Lunar Eclipse (“Blood Moon”)
Just a few hours before the peak of the full Moon, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from all of North, Central, and South America. The eclipse will begin at approximately 9:35 P.M. EST (6:35 P.M. PST) on January 20 and end at 2:50 A.M. EST (11:50 P.M. PST). A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, which causes the usually bright Moon to turn a dark, ominous red (giving the eclipsed Moon the nickname ”Blood Moon”).

Supermoon
In addition to a total lunar eclipse, we’ll also be treated to a Supermoon. A Supermoon occurs when the Moon is both full AND reaches the point in its orbit where it’s closest to Earth. A Supermoon is ever-so-slightly larger and brighter than a typical full Moon, though the difference is negligible when viewed with the naked eye.

MOON PHASES FOR JANUARY 2019

All dates and times are ET.

New Moon: January 5, 8:28 P.M.
First Quarter: January 14, 1:45 A.M.
Full Moon: January 21, 12:16 A.M.

Last Quarter: January 27, 4:10 P.M.

 

JANUARY FULL MOON NAMES

In Native American and early Colonial times, the Full Moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.

Traditionally, the January Moon is also known as the Old Moon. To some Native American tribes, this was the Snow Moon, but most applied that name to the next Full Moon, in February.

BEST DAYS IN JANUARY 2019

For Planting

Aboveground crops: 10, 11, 19, 20

Belowground crops: 1, 27, 28

For Setting Eggs:

16, 17, 25, 26

For Fishing:

5–21

MOON FOLKLORE

A bright first Moon promises rain and a bountiful harvest; a red-tinted Moon means a dry year.

A growing Moon and a flowing tide are lucky times to marry.

A halo around the Moon predicts wet or stormy weather. 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: EMERGENCY SURVIVAL KIT FOR YOUR HOME

 

EMERGENCY SURVIVAL KIT FOR YOUR HOME

WHAT SUPPLIES DO YOU NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY?
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Keep the following supplies in your emergency survival kit, and you will be prepared for any adverse situation!

Have these items prepared in survival bags—portable bags, such as duffels or backpacks, that are used solely for holding emergency supplies. Store survival bags in an easily accessible place. If evacuation is necessary, be sure to follow the directions of local authorities.

FOOD AND WATER FOR EMERGENCIES

Food

  • You should have a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including ready-to-eat canned goods. Try to choose high energy foods, such as granola, dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and jerky. Avoid overly salty foods, like chips and pretzels, as they will make you thirsty.
  • Be sure to have a manual can opener on hand, as well as eating utensils.
  • Prepare for any special dietary needs of your family.
  • It’s also possible to buy freeze-dried foods or meal kits in bulk, which are specially made and packaged for use in emergency situations.
  • Review your food supplies occasionally and eliminate anything that has exceeded its “use by” date.

Water

  • Keep on hand a three-day supply of water. You should have one gallon of water for each person, per day. To ensure safe drinking water, it is recommended to buy commercially bottled water.

HEALTH AND SAFETY SUPPLIES

  • First Aid Kit, including non-prescription medication and antibacterial gel.
  • Be sure to stock extra prescription medication and any other special medical or sanitary needs, such as extra diapers and formula for babies.
  • Tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper can also come in handy.
  • Be sure to check out our tips for health emergencies as well.

CLOTHING FOR YOUR SURVIVAL KIT

  • Plan accordingly for the climate you live in. Layered clothing can help you stay warm and dry.
  • Include at least one complete change of clothes for each person.

SURVIVAL TOOLS FOR EMERGENCIES

  • Flashlights, with extra batteries (or mechanical, squeeze-type flashlights)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Paper and pencil
  • Signal flares
  • Extra cell phone battery or battery packs
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pocket knife
  • Nylon rope
  • Duct tape
  • Cash

IMPORTANT FAMILY DOCUMENTS

Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container.

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Photo IDs, passports, social security cards, immunization records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
  • Photocopies of credit and identification cards

 

SOURCE:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: WINTER CAR EMERGENCY KIT

 

WINTER CAR EMERGENCY KIT

WHAT TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Keep the following supplies in your winter car emergency kit. In fact, we always say to prepare for the worst case scenario, especially in wintertime!

Emergencies can happen to anyone. Whether you run out of fuel, puncture a tire, or slip off a snowy road, keep a car emergency kit on-hand to help you get back on the road safely and quickly.

In addition to the items listed below, a cell phone is highly advised. Make sure your cell phone is charged every time you get in the car and keep a cell phone charger in your car.

CAR EMERGENCY KIT LIST

Keep the below items in a bag in your trunk. Ideally, we’d suggest a clear, plastic container so it’s easy to see and locate everything. You can buy a pre-packaged kit or create your own.

Minimum Supplies:

  • Flashlight, plus extra batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight)
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit (band-aides, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, medical wrap).
  • Bottled water
  • Multi-tool (such as a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army Knife)
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles

Other Essentials:

  • Small fire extinguisher (5-lb., Class B and Class C type) in case of a car fire
  • Tire gauge to check inflation pressure in all four tires and the spare tire
  • Jack and lug wrench to change a tire
  • Gloves, rags, hand cleaner (such as baby wipes)
  • Duct tape
  • Foam tire sealant for minor tire punctures
  • Rain poncho
  • Nonperishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, raisins, and peanut butter
  • Battery– or hand-crank–powered radio
  • Lighter and box of matches
  • Spare change and cash
  • Paper maps

Additional Items for Winter Driving:

For those in wintry areas, add the below items to your emergency kit. (If it’s balmy all winter where you live, be thankful that you don’t need all of this stuff!)

  • Blankets, gloves, hats
  • Ice scraper
  • Collapsible or folding snow shovel
  • A bag of sand to help with traction (or bag of kitty litter)
  • Blanket
  • Tire chains and tow strap
  • Hand warmers
  • Winter boots for longer trips
  • Sleeping bag for longer trips

WINTER DRIVING TIPS FOR CAR SAFETY

  • Keep your gas tank filled above halfway to avoid a gas line freeze-up.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Beware of black ice. Roads may look clear, but they may still be slippery.
  • Stuck on the ice without sand or cat litter? In a pinch, you can take the floor mats out of your car, place them next to the tires, and slowly inch the car onto and across the mats.
  • Make sure windows are defrosted and clear. And be sure to clear snow and ice from the top of the vehicle! Gently rub a small, moistened, cloth bag of iodized salt on the outside of your windshield to prevent the ice and snow from sticking.
  • To restore proper windshield wiper blade action, smooth the rubber blades with fine sandpaper to remove any grit and pits.
  • Fog-proof your mirrors and the inside of your windshields with shaving cream. Spray and wipe it off with paper towels.
  • Avoid driving when you have the flu, which can reduce your reaction time almost six times as much as moderate alcohol intake.

See more cold-weather tips provided by AAA.

 

Old Farmers Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: HOW TO KEEP WARM IN WINTER

 

HOW TO KEEP WARM IN WINTER

COLD? PRACTICAL TIPS FOR STAYING WARM
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Where I live, winter temperatures are often in the single digits, but no matter where you live, keeping warm is a basic need that we all share.

Here are some tips—from both Almanac editors and readers—about how to stay warm. These aren’t “big” projects like buying a new heating system—just inexpensive, resourceful ways to help you warm up now!

HOW TO KEEP WARM IN WINTER

1. Dress in layers

Bundle up. Wear long underwear, sweaters, and even hats indoors. Remember the days of “sleeping caps”? They make sense! Yes, wear a cap or hat to keep your head warm. If you’re headed outside, cover your face with a scarf.

To avoid getting overheated inside, wear layers. I recommend a “wicking” polyester (or silk) undershirt next to your skin versus cotton. I gave a polyester t-shirt to my father and he keeps talking about the amazing difference as if I had invented sliced bread! Just don’t layer yourself so much that you’re pouring sweat.  The idea is to keep your body warm AND dry.

One reader adds, “I can’t imagine surviving cold weather, inside or out, without a stretchy fleece neck warmer. I have several and I put one on when watching television or reading to avoid turning up the thermostat. Just think about summertime when you are feeling too hot—if you can, you try to cool down by opening your collar. We are using the reverse of that principle here.”

Another idea: Try flannel-lined pants.

2. Keep Your Feet Warm

I highly recommend “house slippers” indoors. I know that it sounds a bit old-fashioned, but having the rubber sole really makes a difference.

And warm socks! One reader says, “I’m from Florida. But when it’s cold, like when we got down to 23 last week, socks are my best friends. A soft, cozy pair worn to bed keeps my feet toasty warm, and as long as my feet are warm, I’m comfortable with the thermostat turned down.”

“Keep changing your socks! Everybody forgets that your feet sweat, and THAT can make you cold even though you are layered up.” Wool socks or “smartwool” keeps your feet from sweating.

For the outdoors, it really helps to insert foam liners in your boots or hiking shoes to give your toes an extra layer of insulation again the cold earth.

3. Heat Up Your Bed

Don’t turn up the heat for the entire house. Use an electric blanket. An even cheaper and safer option may be a hot water bottle with a wool or fleece cover. Here’s what other readers say:

  • “Fill your bottle with hot water from the faucet before going to bed and slip it into the foot of the bed between the sheets. By the time you’re ready for bed it’s all nice and toasty at your feet. Believe it or not the water bottle stays warm all night long.”
  • “Use rice! Put the rice in a fleece cover, then warm in the microwave. It will stay warm half the night and keep your toes comfortable.”
  • “I have a water bottle, but better and quicker is to use a large heating pad with an automatic shut-off. Mine shuts off after 30 minutes. I lay the heating pad in the bed and turn it on about 15 minutes before retiring. I turn it off and then on again if I still need a little more heat, but it is usually adequate just turning it on once.”’

4. Harness the Sun

During the day, open the blinds and curtains on the south-facing windows—and let the Sun warm you. At night, close the blinds and curtains to better insulate your home.

One reader adds, “We use roller blinds every night for all windows. Saves a lot of energy in a cheap and easy way.”

5. Keep the Kitchen Cozy

Many readers keep the kitchen humming!

  • “I put a cast iron pot of water with liquid potpourri on the top of our cast iron stove. This increases the humidity in the room and puts a lovely smell in the air.”
  • “Drink lots of yummy hot chocolate!!!!”
  • “Bake something in the oven, either dinner or a dessert (doesn’t have to be fattening but even better if it is).”
  • “A hot cup of tea is great… If you are sick, a hot toddy works wonders. Also, I always have a crock pot of soup going during the cold months.”
  • “Use matches not lighters. It seems silly but if your pilot goes out, your lighter will not work.”

6. Block Drafts

Beyond weather-stripping, which is difficult with old houses, consider these reader tips:

  • “I hang blankets to close off the open stair well going to the second floor, since heat raises it keeps the warm air down stairs when we spend most of our time. I noticed it saves a lot of heating dollars.”
  • “Don’t forget to put something at the bottom of outside doors—you can just feel the cold air pour in. You can buy a fancy roll or just use a blanket or towel.”
  • “I made long round pillows to place against my doors and window sills. I found some scrap pieces of upholstery fabric that are nice and heavy and help keep the drafts out.”
  • “Just like layers of clothing, I put layers at the windows. Between the window and the thermal-backed drapes are the closed venetian blinds and a flannel-backed table cloth. And we hang a blanket over the entire exterior door cause air doesn’t just come in at the bottom.”

7. Stay Active

Get your body moving. At the Almanac, we joke that “one log can heat a house.” Just run up the stairs with the log, throw it out the top window, and repeat three times. You’ll be warm!

Our readers add:

  • “Keep active, this is a good time to clean out closets, garages, etc. Anything to keep active.”
  • “If I get a chill just sitting, I get up and stir around, the movement not only warms me up but also stirs the heat in the house. Children are great when playing, they stir the air around.”
  • “Don’t just sit around. Stay active to keep your blood from ‘thickinin.’ Exercise is good for ya.”

8. Humidify Your Home

Not only does a humidifier keep your house warmer, it also eliminates drying indoor air. As our readers say:

  • “I discovered that when I run my vaporizer (humidifier) in the bedroom, I can turn the heat down a couple extra degrees overnight. In the morning, I raise the heat by about 2 degrees at a time instead of making the furnace work hard to raise it all at once.”
  • “I keep coffee cans lined with large baggies with water in them, around the vents to add humidity to the house, and this works great. I lined the coffee cans so they would not rust.”
  • “I put a waterbath canner full of water on the stove (lasts all night).”

If you don’t have a humidifier, here’s another idea: When you take a bath in winter, leave the water in the tub after you get out. If you let it sit until it reaches room temperature, it will add a little warmth to the house and help humidify it, too!

9. More Ideas

Here’s a new one! “I live five miles from the Canadian border in the St Lawrence region—icebox country! To stay warm INEXPENSIVELY, recycle old panty hose that have runs or snags. This layer next to the bottom, legs, and toes—with slacks over top—keeps me toasty. For guys like Joe Namath too!!”

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: NIGHT SKY FOR JANUARY 2019

 

NIGHT SKY FOR JANUARY 2019

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE JANUARY 20, 2019
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac

SKY WATCH JANUARY 2019

by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac

  • The year begins with a predawn string of pearls: Some 40 minutes before sunrise on January 1, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury hover from upper right to lower left, low in the eastern sky. Venus is now at its brightest of the year.
  • The alignment on the 2nd finds the Moon between Venus and Jupiter. On the 3rd, the Moon is to the left of Jupiter.
  • Through January, Venus sinks lower at first light but Jupiter is higher; their opposing motions cause them to meet from the 20th to the 26th. At nightfall all month, Mars in Pisces is due south at a bright magnitude 0.

GREAT AMERICAN TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE!

  • A total lunar eclipse on January 20, visible from the entire United States and Canada, begins at 10:34 p.m., with totality starting at 11:41 p.m. Unlike a solar eclipse, which follows a narrow path (and may not be visible to most people), a total eclipse of the Moon can often be observed from anywhere on Earth where it’s nighttime!
  • Lunar eclipses only happen during full Moons; this January 2019 total eclipse of the Moon will appear bigger and brighter than average making it a so-called Supermoon.
  • The Earth’s dark shadow will move over the bright disk of the Moon; our planet will block the Sun’s light while it is between the Sun and Moon, causing the Moon to turn an orangish-red hue. In popular culture, this has been nicknamed the “Blood Moon.”
  • So, I guess you’re going to hear it called a “Supermoon Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse”? Or, perhaps it will be nicknamed a “Super Blood Moon Eclipse”? No matter!  This will be the last total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021 so take time to look up at this celestial phenomenon.

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: ALL ABOUT THE MONTH OF JANUARY

ALL ABOUT THE MONTH OF JANUARY

By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Welcome to January! Start the new year by learning about this month’s important holidays, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, Moon dates, folklore, and more!

CALENDAR NOTES FOR JANUARY 2019

January was originally the eleventh month, not the first, until at least 153 B.C. The month was named for the Roman god Janus, protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future.

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet (1807–82)

  • January is National Hot Tea Month and National Clean Up Your Computer Month.
  • January 1 is New Year’s Day. While you’re still recuperating from last night’s parties, read about some other new year’s traditions you might not know about.
  • January 1 is also Handsel Monday. According to Scottish custom, the first Monday of the new year was the time to give children and servants a small gift (“handsel”), intended to bring good luck.
  • The eve of January 5 brings Twelfth Night, an English folk custom that marked the end of Christmas merrymaking, and in ancient Celtic tradition, the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration. On Twelfth Night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast each other from the wassail bowl.
  • On January 6 falls Epiphany. According to the New Testament’s Gospels, on this date the Magi—the three wise men or kings—venerated and brought gifts to the infant Jesus. Bake a King Cake with a lucky bean inside!
  • January 17 is Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. He was not only a world-renowned statesman, inventor, and scientist, but was also fascinated by agriculture. Here at the Old Farmer’s Almanac, we consider him the father of almanacs! How much do you know about Ben?
  • January 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (observed) this year and honors the principles of this civil rights leader and Nobel Prize Winner dedicated to nonviolence.

ASTRONOMY: TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE!

  • On January 3, Earth will be at perihelion. (In other words, the Earth will be at the point in its orbit where it is closest to the Sun). The planet will be 91,403,554 miles from the Sun!
  • January 20, 2019 brings the Great American Total Lunar Eclipse! This eclipse is visible from North America. The Moon will enter the penumbra at 9:35 P.M. EST on January 20 (6:25 P.M. PST on January 20) and leave the penumbra at 2:50 A.M. EST on January 21 (11:50 P.M. PST on January 20).
  • The dark January skies are great for stargazing. Get more highlights in our January Sky Watch.

Moon Phases for January 2019

  • New Moon: January 5, at 8:28 P.M. EST
  • First Quarter: January 14, at 1:46 A.M. EST
  • Full Wolf Moon: January 21, at 12:16 A.M. EST.
  • Last Quarter: January 27, at 4:10 P.M. EST

EVERYDAY ADVICE

  • Relieve your dry skin with some homemade remedies.
  • See our tips on how to stay warm this winter.
  • Got snow? See our snowflake guide and find out if two snowflakes can be alike!
  • Are you a cold-weather angler? Check out our ice fishing tips to make it a safe and enjoyable trip.
  • Refresh your knowledge of winter weather terms to help keep you safe this winter.

JANUARY BIRTHSTONE

January’s birthstone, the garnet, is thought to keep the wearer safe during travel.

JANUARY BIRTH FLOWER

January’s birth flowers are the carnation and snowdrop.

THE ZODIAC

January’s Zodiac signs are:

  • Capricorn: December 22–January 19
  • Aquarius: January 20–February 18

 

FOLKLORE FOR THE SEASON

  • Fog in January brings a wet spring.
  • A favorable January brings us a good year.
  • If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.
  • A summerish January,
    a winterish spring. 

Have a lovely January!

 

–The Old Farmer’s Almanac