I can find it hard to conjure up positive sentiments this time of year.
I am not a fan of snow. I am not a fan of ice. I am not a fan of winter activities. I am not a fan of the cold. I am not a fan of all the layers required to do simple activities like walking to the mailbox.
But, we chose to live in Eastern Canada and that means we
have to endure get to experience all four seasons.
This winter I was determined to dread it all (slightly) less. I wrote about my intentions for making the season feel more joyful and full of warmth, literally and proverbially. It’s only the middle of January – and I don’t want to jinx things – but so far this winter has been so much better than last year (and most other winters in recent memory).
I’ve gone ahead and implemented almost all the ideas I proposed in my Ways To Dread Winter (Slightly) Less post. Key highlights:
- Lighting candles. I don’t have to remember to do this because Levi begs to light the tapers on our dining room table each night at suppertime (and occasionally at breakfast too). Candles provide such a cheery glow and I genuinely look forward to dimming the lights and enjoying my meal by this flickering light source. And years after receiving them, I still adore our Danish candlesticks – gifted by my brother and his wife who live in Denmark, the birthplace of hygge.
- Keeping our house warmer. We improved the insulation in our house dramatically this year and replaced almost a dozen windows/doors that were old and drafty. Also, we’ve adopted a new approach for our heat pump (leaving it at a constant, higher temperature instead of lowering it dramatically overnight and then having to turn on the oil furnace to get the house warm in the morning) that is working so well. Oil consumption has plummeted and we’re a lot warmer. It makes a huge difference for my mental state when I wake up warm…and stay warm.
- I continue to use Magic Bags/the office space heater as needed. I don’t try to power through the cold. When I feel it settling into my bones, I leap into action.
- Good clothing choices. I wear heated socks. Thanks to a well-timed Christmas gift, I now own a heated vest (thanks for the recommendation, NGS). And even if I’m just walking around the block to check the mail – and even if the sun’s shining – I always put on my snow pants. Out of all the cold-weather gear I own, these are my favourite item. They’re Columbia brand and extremely warm, but also very “flexible.” Most snow pants feel stiff and don’t sit properly on my hips, but these fit like a dream. We’ll walk the kids to school and I’ll come home and launch right into my workday without taking off my snowpants. They’re that comfortable!!
- Leaving finger gloves in the car. We don’t have a heated steering wheel and having something that keeps the chill off my hands is important. I wear heavy-duty leather gloves when I’m exercising outside, but I can’t drive with all that bulk, so finger gloves are a must. Leaving them in the car means there is always a set to pull on when I need them most.
- Keeping some festive/wintery décor. The artificial tree in our basement is still decorated and twinkling away. I have never left it up this late into the new year, and now I’m debating getting a few heart-themed items at the DollarStore and converting it into a Valentine’s tree? It’s so nice to see that little burst of festive cheer when I walk downstairs (and because we never use it functionally at Christmas, it doesn’t feel “stale” to me). Our mantle swag is still twinkling away and I’ve left a few seasonally neutral items up on our hutch. There’s a wreath on our front door. I’m thinking mid-February I’ll officially dismantle these last vestiges of Christmas?
- Regular visits with my parents. I’ve tried to be especially intentional about carving out time to see them several times each week. They weren’t able to relocate for the winter during COVID lockdowns, so it’s so nice to have them temporarily nearby and I’m making the most of their proximity (and tracking all our time together as part of a 2023 goal)!
- Comfort food. This weekend I made up a batch of those Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies that have made their way around the interwebs. This was my third batch since Suzanne linked to the recipe back in November and they are officially a family favourite (one person said, and I quote: “I could eat like a hundred of these.”). Suzanne called it “The Perfect Fall Cookie” – I’m here to tell you, it’s the perfect winter cookie, too (and, I suspect, the perfect spring and summer cookie). The house smelled delicious and, wow, they taste amazing warm from the oven. We’ve had curries and soups and I’ve been drinking Holiday Chai Tea (bring on the Jamaican rum flavouring!) every morning. Yum.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the weather so far has been spectacular. We’ve had a few cold days (the lowest around -12 C) but, for the most part, things have been hovering just above zero. Warm temperatures make it easier to keep – and stay – warm in and out of doors.
I know there are long, dark, cold days ahead but it is a major morale boost to be this far into the winter with a smile on my face and nary a goosebump. And I still have some tricks up my sleeve! We were recently gifted a puzzle (300 pieces and a very doable picture – no huge expanses of blue sky!); I have two TV series I want to binge with the kids; I have several exciting books waiting in the wings.
In terms of my mission to dread winter slightly less, I call it a resounding success.
Your turn. How has winter been in your neck of the woods? Do you find it harder to temperature regulate for the heat or cold? What’s your best go-to solution to offset cold or dreary winter weather?