Yesterday morning I woke up to our first snowfall of the season – just a dusting, but it’s undeniable that winter is on its way. I have a strong love-hate relationship with winter. There are so many things I look forward to at the start of each winter season – cozy knits, skating, log fires, the way the snow sparkles under the streetlights…the list goes on. By the middle of February, though, those warm fuzzy feelings have usually been replaced by sheer desperation for the sub-zero temperatures to come to an end. Luckily, as a Canadian, I’ve had my fair share of practice with snow and ice and I’m learning to make the most of the season. The right gear is all it takes to make the cold months not only bearable, but enjoyable. This is in no way an earth-shattering list – just eight basic essentials for embracing the winter season and bringing a little cheer to those blustery days and long, cold nights.
Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that make us happy. Like warm feet. Slippers for me are an absolute must, and there are so many styles out there to choose from that keeping your tootsies warm has never been easier. No grandpa slippers for me! These cable knit ones are especially cute.
A Dutch oven
Falling temperatures call for warm, hearty meals. I think a Dutch oven is a great addition to any kitchen arsenal and winter is the perfect time to invest in one. I don’t actually have one, but this Cuisinart enameled cast iron dish is on my wish list. Just think of all the delicious braises and stews I’d be able to whip up! I’ve even seen recipes for baking bread in them.
A huge knit cowl neck scarf
Everyone who knows me knows I love scarves. I can usually find a way to incorporate them into my wardrobe from about September to May. Come winter though, I ditch my lightweight printed scarves for an oversized infinity scarf. The bigger the better, I say. They’re super warm, chic, and you never have to worry about the ends dragging in the slush.
Who doesn’t have memories of spending hours playing outside in the snow and coming in, with numb cheeks and a runny nose, to a steaming cup of hot cocoa? Hot chocolate just isn’t the same during any other season, so drink it up while you can! I’m sure there are plenty of high-quality, gourmet options out there but I’ll stick with the tried and true Carnation brand. Tastes like home.
Even better, spiked hot cocoa.
A huge mug to warm your hands
If you’re going to be having all of that hot cocoa (or coffee, tea, cider, hot toddies, whatever), you better have a big festive mug to drink it from. It just tastes better that way. I love the nordic look of this one. Don’t forget to leave room for marshmallows.
An entire library at your fingertips
Winter is a great opportunity to catch up on some reading, especially during the downtime after the holidays. I’ll admit it took me awhile to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. I really love the feel of a book in hand and turning actual pages. Plus, between work, smartphones, and watching TV, I feel like I spend more than enough time each day staring at a screen. But I’ve had an e-reader for a couple years now and I really love it. There are so many benefits: (1) it’s small enough to throw in my purse and carry everywhere I go; (2) it can store hundreds of books without taking up any shelf space – this is key since I live in a small house with limited storage space; and (3) it connects to the internet so I can buy/borrow books instantly, 24/7, without even stepping outside. Bonus: I never lose my page anymore.
A wool blanket
Happiness is a warm blanket, Charlie Brown. Nothing beats snuggling up on the couch under a lovely wool throw. I just love this 100% alpaca throw from Crate & Barrel. It’s a bit pricey, but it looks like it would last for years and the colour is beautiful.
I’m not talking about hopping on a plane and heading for a tropical beach. If you live in the Great White North you can’t avoid winter, so get out there and enjoy it while it’s here! Snow and ice can actually be a lot of fun – skating, sledding, skiing, snowshoeing (okay, I’ve never tried snowshoeing but it sounds like a charming way to spend an afternoon). You’d be amazed at how much you can enjoy winter when you’re actually out there living it rather than dashing between buildings trying to escape it. So why not book a long weekend away from the city to take in some winter wonderland? Even if you don’t ski (which I don’t), I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the apres-ski socializing. There are tons of great winter festivals in Canada, like Carnaval in Quebec City, Winterlude in Ottawa, and the Niagara Icewine Festival. Why not give one a try this year?