7 Things I Learned This Winter

My City in Winter

I can’t believe that winter is almost over, as we’ve had the mildest, mostly snow-less, New England winter I can remember since living here. But it’s already time to join my favorite link-up and share what I’ve learned. I hope you enjoy this little list.

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1. There are fewer things that really matter to me about Christmas than I realized.

And I don’t mean the important, real-meaning-of-Christmas things. Those ARE important!

I love traditions and believe they are fun and meaningful, but I’ve been learning and am beginning to accept that they can change over time or fluctuate depending on life seasons, and it’s OK.

This year brought a desire for us to keep our Christmas tree smaller and more simply decorated, adorn the house with only our favorite ornaments, and keep the baking to a minimum. I’ve been paring down our ornaments to those we really use and love, and I discovered that in reality there are fewer that really mean something to me and that I truly enjoy. And this is still new to one who is rather sentimental, especially when it comes to the holidays.

We had conversations as a family about these changes and I’m not sure we won’t do things differently again next year, but it felt more peaceful and less stressful. And this is closer to what Christmas is really about.

2. Wooden cutting boards need to be maintained with mineral (or other food-grade oil).

Who knew? Now I do.

I wondered why my nice wooden cutting boards were beginning to look dry and cruddy and decided to look it up. I never realized (although now it seems obvious) that they need to be maintained with a food-grade oil every once in awhile. This can be done monthly (or anywhere from weekly to at least a couple of times a year).

You simply rub the wooden boards with mineral oil (or other appropriate food-grade oil or mixture) and let sit for a few hours or overnight, then wipe off the excess. This should become a quick and easy part of our kitchen routine.

So why have I waited so long? Here’s to giving our wooden cutting boards a little TLC.

3. Are scented candles (and cleaner, etc.) really dangerous?

Oh how I love the ambiance of beautiful scented candles!

But like so many things, I began to hear fearful ideas about the dangers of burning them, so I decided I needed to look into it.

I spent a good deal of time reading (and re-reading) four different articles about the possible dangers of burning scented candles, (including one very long and detailed study with scientific wording and charts that I only partly read and understood). While I would like to more clearly summarize my conclusions for you, I honestly am left with mild concern and no clear conclusion.

The different articles I perused for information are Do Yankee Candles Have Toxins, Are Your Favorite Candles Slowly Poisoning You?, Effects by inhalation of abundant fragrances in indoor air – An overview, and The Big Problem with Scented Candles.

My best suggestion if you are concerned is to do your own research and form your own convictions.

Although I am not fully convinced that they are dangerous, I am reconsidering the length of time I burn my beloved candles. I would also be more concerned for those with compromised health issues, and will perhaps revisit this topic again in time.

For now, I think we will still enjoy our candles, realizing the small risk is hopefully outweighed by the immense satisfaction and simple joy of burning scented candles.

4. Tipping your head forward helps while swallowing pills.

How much do you enjoy swallowing large capsules or pills? Apparently we’re not alone.

Recently I read or heard this unique method of swallowing pills, and it really works! It’s especially effective for capsules to actually take a sip of water with the capsule in your mouth and then tip your head forward to swallow. The water pushes the light capsule to the top of your throat and down it goes. I’ve tried it will some rather large calcium tablets and it still seems more effective than my usual efforts at swallowing.

There is also another technique called the “soda bottle” (or “pop bottle”, probably depending on where you’re from), which we can try as well.

Either way, I am learning that another secret is to be sure to drink enough water to help the pills on their way down.

5. When Calls the Heart has a spin-off !?!

It’s called When Hope Calls.

It is similar to our favorite When Calls the Heart, and two of the main characters starred on a couple of episodes of that familiar series. I’ve read since then that they may have some characters doing crossover episodes between the two shows.

It can be seen on one of the Hallmark channels, although I am personally still trying to sort out what is in fact the best way to watch the series personally. I may just splurge and subscribe to the channel instead of waiting for it to come out free later on.

We will see, but I’m definitely looking forward to another positive, wholesome, family-friendly show!

6. “Stop, Drop & Roll” is outdated.

Who remembers learning this memorable fire safety technique as a child? I do.

But recently I heard that perhaps it isn’t up to date.

While this short article and video explains, Stop, Drop & Roll is not always taught now as the best or first information a child should be thinking of when in a dangerous fire situation. There are often more important rules for a child to think about, such as getting out of a burning building and having a safe family meeting place outside.

But according to this and several others articles, it seems it is still useful and effective information to use if one’s clothing catches fire.

It’s one of those things that we hope and pray we never have to use, but it’s good to be prepared.

7. It’s probably better to call 911 from a land-line (as you’ll usually get through to local help faster).

I recently heard this from the police officers who were at my staff training for my library job, and it immediately caught my attention.

It really depends upon how calls are routed as to how efficient the call is. In general, it seems a landline is much more effective.

One resource adds more detailed instructions for best practices when calling 911 and explains that when we call from a landline our location is clear, while when calling from a cell phone the signals are being sent through the air and the call may not even be picked up by local emergency personnel.

Although you should check for the best practices for your own local area, this paragraph seems to explain and sum up the facts nicely:

This question of whether to use a cell phone or a landline to make your 9-1-1 call on is a very important one. It may vary depending on your jurisdiction and your location. For example, in California we have an issue with cell phone calls and delays. They tend to be delayed because the calls are routed through the highway patrol and the state system, whereas landline calls go directly to a 9-1-1 center. In addition, those landline calls allow the dispatcher to see who the caller is, where the address you’re calling from is, and have a much closer relationship, and in particular they answer the phone more quickly. The recommendation from several police officers has been that if you are needing to use your cell phone because that’s all you have and perhaps you’re away from the home, is to predial into your phone the phone number for your local police precinct. So if you can’t get through and there are delays that you call that local police precinct who can then patch you through.

I think the best piece of advice when using a cell phone is to program your local police, fire and other emergency phone numbers into your cell and use those to reach them directly.


Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a few of the things I’ve learned this past winter.

I hope we all remember to keep on learning, and to consider keeping track of the things we learn. It’s a great way to reflect on things both important and just enjoyable.

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