Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Survive Winter in a Cold Climate

Large flakes of snow fall outside while you sip hot chocolate on a quiet evening at home. Twinkle lights reflect off the store windows as you crunch through the snow.


Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

While this is sometimes accurate, the reality of living in a cold climate is a little less glamorous:

You have trouble even getting out of bed in the morning because it is just so cold.
You spend 20 minutes scraping your car off to go to work only to find that your car door is frozen shut. Again. (This actually happened to me: I was trying to open my car door and the handle fell off. I currently climb through the passenger side to get into my car. True story.)
The snow turns to black slush, people drive like maniacs, everything is so dreary, your skin is dry and you have a terrible attitude.

Believe me, I've been there. I grew up in Seattle, where daffodils bloom in January and if it snows (about 1/2" every 2 years), the whole city shuts down. People don't go to work, school is cancelled, you use all the snow in your yard to make one snowman.

I've now lived in the midwest for over 10 years (including snowing Minnesota and windy Chicago) and no matter how much I like a white Christmas, there comes a point in the middle of winter when I just. Want. To. Move. I always say it is a good thing that my lease is up in August rather than January. If I had to renew it in the middle of winter, I would just move for sure.

You might be one of those people who loves winter. If you do, please give us some tips! If not, here are a few tricks I've amassed to help you through winter- without moving to a different country.

*Burt's Bees Chapstick
Yes. This is the first tip. I have a chapstick and a hand lotion (my favorites are Crabtree & Evelyn and Aveda) everywhere I might be: my car, my purse, bedroom, makeup bag, my desk at work. This will make your winter life much more pleasant.

*Work on a project

This is a great time to stay inside and do something creative or just finish that project that's been hanging over your head. Organize your kitchen, take up knitting, make a photo album, rearrange your books, write in your journal. Do something you know won't be as fun in the summer.

*Flannel & Wool.


They are your new best friends. Wool socks, blankets and sweaters. Flannel pajamas, sheets and hot water bottle covers. Do what you can to stay warm and cozy. On a related note:


*Have a good winter coat. I spent my first year in Chicago walking around in a semi-thin pea coat. It wasn't until someone told me that I realized: this is not a winter coat. In Chicago, everyone wears long down coats. There is a reason: they actually keep you warm. Invest in a real coat, preferably one that goes past your hips. You will not be sorry.

*Take a vacation. I realize this is this is not realistic for many of you. Last year was the first time I did this: I went to Texas in March. And realized why people go on vacation then. If you can, leave for a week and remember that it is warm somewhere. And it will be warm here again.


*Take a walk. After college, I nannied for a family from Russia. The mom wanted us to go outside and play in the snow. Every. Day. At the time I was just mad: Do you realize how cold it is? But now, I wouldn't say I get it, but I realize getting outside can be helpful. Even if it is just for 5 minutes, bundle up, find a sunny side of the street, and get a little bit of Vitamin D. And make yourself some hot chocolate when you get back inside.


*Winter it up. I have two takes on getting through winter: I either pretend it's not winter or I embrace winter with a vengeance. I tend to alternate between the two.
Stay home a few extra nights a week, rent some cozy movies (The Holiday, While You Were Sleeping, Little Women), read some British literature, drink hot beverages, eat some warm soup, wear colourful scarves and mittens. Try to enjoy the fact that you live in a place with four seasons.

*Pretend it's not winter. If the above is not working and you are just cold and you can't fly to Florida for the weekend,  then your new friend is Armchair Travel.
Get under a blanket in your living room and watch a warm-ish movie (Enchanted April, Roman Holiday, a summer blockbuster) or read a warm-ish book (A Year in Provence, Mark Twain, Gone with the Wind). Be temporarily transported to a warm climate.


*Plant a few house plants.
I just did this last week and it is making a huge difference. If your house is feeling a bit stuffy, you need a little something alive. Buy some flowers or a plant and put them where you will see them often. You can do the same for your desk at work. While you're at it, re-read The Secret Garden.

*Twinkle lights. Put up some white twinkle lights in your house. Because there are a few things that are not as awesome in 80 degree weather.

What are your tricks for getting through winter?



Adrianne said... Reply To This Comment

Great ideas, Jenny! I particularly like the one about working on a project. I know when I was working on my quilt, it was much cozier to have it on my lap for quilting in February than in August!

I also enjoy embracing winter sports - I like downhill skiing and ice skating. And I have a few family members who love broomball! Following the NBA helps too, since most of their season is during the winter. Especially this year because the Timberwolves are playing so well! :)

kate said... Reply To This Comment

Wow, this is such a great post. It almost makes me miss Chicago winters. It certainly makes me miss you.

Here are a few of my surviving winter tricks:

I ate Hall's Citrus Vitamin C drops like candy. It is a cool burst of 'summer flavor' and it wards off the various colds going around all winter.

Go do something special like go see a play or go out for a fancy dinner or concert. This is a great way to reward yourself for making through things like carrying groceries home in the snow... ( I hated that!)

Start a book club with friends. I did this my junior year with four friends and it was a cozy, and it gave me something to look forward to every week, in addition to getting to read a classic novel.

Lovely, post!

Kirra Sue said... Reply To This Comment

Haha- I LOVE this post. So great Jenny!

Blondie's Journal said... Reply To This Comment

I love a good, cold, snowy winter and we just haven't had that in Chicago...yet! I keep expecting it to change. Your tips are great...I truly believe in going outside for fresh air every day no matter what the temp. Go out and shake off the germs, as my mom would say!

Wonderful post, Jenny! :-)


melinda said... Reply To This Comment

amen on the twinkle lights! we have some wound around the posts in our living room and this morning, when i went to plug them in, i found that half the string is dead. what a sad way to begin the day. (thankfully we have five or six more strings we can swap out.)

Melia said... Reply To This Comment

I LOVED your post,Jenny! My favorite thing is lights, lights, lights! I have rope lights, icicle lights, pearl lights and snowflake lights. They warm my spirits inside the house until it gets warmer outside.

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