THE BLOG

And Now, My #1 Trick to Staying Warm This Winter

01/29/2014 02:49 pm ET | Updated Mar 31, 2014
  • Susan McCorkindale Author, '500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl'

Sure, I could jack up the heat and run up an enormous bill.

Or I could leave the thermostat set at a balmy 62 degrees and actually see my breath in the living room. (Funny the first time, but after that? Not so much.)

I could also go someplace warm but, eventually, I'd still have to come home. And that would bring me right back to where and how I am now. Sitting on my office floor, chattering and awaiting the moment my 15-year-old wakes up, walks in and demands to know why I didn't get him up for school. That would be, of course, because once again, there is no school.

But I digress.

Forget fussing with the thermostat, the fireplace or bundling up like that poor kid in A Christmas Story. I stay warm and beat the cold by de-cluttering.

Meet one of my new best friends.

2014-01-29-002.JPG

This is my new shredder. I love this thing. See that pile of papers and checks? It's the last of the DRAWERS FULL I had in my office. You start shredding and I promise, it's like eating potato chips (only much healthier). You can't stop at one piece of paper. I plug this sucker in, start feeding it and I don't care how cold it is, I immediately start to warm up.

I love these things, too.

2014-01-29-0032.JPG

Once I'm warmed up from shredding, I move on to other places in the house that need to be attacked.

Now you might be wondering how I know which spots to hit, so I'll tell you: Clutter speaks to me. It calls me, taunts me, dares me to do something about it. I hate clutter and clutter hates me. In my house, in any house, that's right, even your house. I won't touch your stuff without your permission, of course. But trust me, that heaping mound of dust and dead bug-encrusted "I'm going to do something with these someday, I swear" papers piled under your bedroom window? You know, the pile that's been there so long you put a houseplant on it? That pile wants nothing more than for me to leave, to take my "Yeah, that's a sweet drawing your 3-year-old nephew did, but since he's 27 now and you still haven't framed it, can we stop pretending, take a picture of it and run it through the shredder?" attitude and go.

The kid in The Sixth Sense saw dead people. I see bursting cupboards and closets and file cabinets. With my eyes closed. Oh yeah. It makes me hot. Take that, oil company!

Just the other day, I spent six hours in my basement. I made three piles. "Trash," "Keep" and "Give Away." I only wish I'd taken "before" pictures. All the scary stuffed deer, turkeys and foxes flopped all over the floor went into storage. (I know, I know, but they're my husband's, so I couldn't throw them out.) I wore rubber gloves and closed my eyes and still I screamed when I touched them. Here they are in their new digs...

2014-01-29-0012.JPG

2014-01-29-0022.JPG

And yes, I screamed when I took these pictures, too.

When I was all done I had four huge bags of trash, three plastic containers filled with only the most important things to keep (including my man's stuffed turkey, whose head popped off when I was moving it, with my eyes closed of course resulting in my walking into a wall), and a few items to give away. I put these suckers up on Facebook and they were gone in no time flat.

2014-01-29-wickerchairs.jpg

Oh, and I was down to a tank top, a pair of jeans and sneakers, and I was covered in sweat. Dust and mega amounts of other grossness too, but still. Sweat. I kept the disgusting stuffed animals and I saved money on heat. (Looks like somebody's earned a spending spree at DSW, right darlin'?)

Cleaning, organizing, de-cluttering. It's my #1 way to stay warm this winter. In fact, I'm off to attack another cabinet now. But first, I need to know: Do you do this too? How are you staying warm? And does anyone want to come here and deal with the 15-year-old who just walked into my office in his boxers demanding breakfast?