The Time for Warm Things

Winter is now almost upon us and the weather has started to take note. Unlike some parts of the country, we have not yet seen snow, but the weather has cooled and sharpened. This morning, the wind blew at my scarf and coat while I walked from the train station to work. And I found myself reaching for gloves and a hat to protect my extremities from the cold.

It is the time for warm things. For hot cocoa and shawls, the best friend of those curled up on a sofa for a lazy weekend day. The time for soups and stews and all manner of warm, cooked foods. No more salads, but instead bounteous medleys of roasted, steamed and simmered vegetables.

This weekend, a lovely friend of mine brought a thoughtful and unique gift to the opening performance of a play in which I’m performing. Instead of bringing a bouquet of flowers, she brought bouquet of homemade baguettes! So our dinner was a simple meal of roasted chicken, steamed kale, and fresh, warm baguette with butter.

Sadly, it is also the time of year when I am likely to spend my spare time curled up under a blanket rather than taking excursions through the park near our house. It leads to a somewhat more sedentary lifestyle, particularly with the days as short as they are. But I press on, bundle up, and take bracing walks in the cold. I do enjoy the feeling of cold air on my face, as much as I also enjoy being curled up in the warmth and comfort of home. It is time to haul out my tweeds and woolens, trade gauzy scarves for knit ones. No matter how cold it may be, if my neck, ears, and hands are covered, I’m relatively comfortable.

Boyfriend, it seems, has lost all of his warm hats, so when I am back at home from an excursion, I’ve been spending my time making him a new one, along with some warm gifts for friends. In the summer heat, my crochet is never quite as attractive as when I can cuddle up with a stash of wool in the cold.

Wishing all of my readers a joyous holiday season and lovely winter to come.

The Stillness in the Cold

It’s been very cold for a while now, and the lake has frozen. I did a lot of walking on Monday. Everything was dusted from the little snow we had on Sunday and was frozen from the low temperatures. It seemed like the world was laying low and waiting for the next snowstorm, which came Monday afternoon and into the evening.

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Because my car was still covered, I decided to walk in to have lunch with Boyfriend, who had to work while I did not. We met at a little cafe near his work and I got a hot chocolate and a panino. We warmed up and chatted and spent time together, and then I walked home, taking a bit of a circuitous route to enjoy the scenery. There was a beautiful stillness about the lake where it had frozen. As I walked around, I saw the places where ripples had frozen in, perhaps from something landing on the water as it froze. In one place, a patch hadn’t fully frozen yet and a solitary duck swam in the lake-within-a-lake.

From home, I went out to the store, where I gathered provisions for the coming snow and walked back home. The first flurries were starting as I got back home and put away the bounty. I bundled into a blanket and a shawl and had a nice hot cup of tea to warm up.

When I woke up the next morning, the neighborhood was blanketed in that thick cushion of snow that soaks up all the noise in the world. Offices were closed and the only sounds were of our neighbors emerging throughout the day to dig out their cars. It was a day for hot beverages and lots of blankets. And the perfect antidote to a string of busy weekends and weeks.

A Chilly Valentine’s Weekend

I’m now on my fourth day off as we nestle in among the snow. Our Valentine’s Day was pleasant, if somewhat uneventful. Most of the weekend was spent keeping warm, which is generally fun when you have someone else and a whole lot of blankets.

I had the presence of mind to put together a batch of frozen scones on Friday evening so I popped two of those out in the morning and baked them. I brought them up with some coffee for Boyfriend and a pot of rose Earl Grey for me. It seemed appropriate to the occasion. Thoroughly fed, we considered the day. I gave Boyfriend his gift, a new board game, and he told me mine would be on the way. And we decided to go out for a brunch a bit later.

We decided to go to our favorite brunch spot, which serves chicken and waffles in a quaint, European-cafe-style atmosphere. I had a lavender soda and we shared some appetizers before getting two plates of chicken and waffles. It was way too much food, but we boxed it up, along with an order of macarons. That left me a nice snack for tea time and us some leftovers for dinner. From there, we settled in for a cold, snowy evening together.

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Sunday was a day of high winds. We decided not to venture out, beyond a quick trip for groceries, so I made a roast chicken for dinner. I seasoned it with a blend of salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and paprika, and surrounded it with a bed of root vegetables, which roasted and soaked up all the delicious juices. Served with a bit of steamed kale, it was a perfect healthy dinner on a cold, windy night.

IMG_0193Monday was to be another holiday, so I enjoyed my relaxation and looked forward to my long weekend. Little did I know how long it might be!

Seven Lovely Things to Keep Me Warm

It’s been fluctuating outside lately. We had a rash of flurries and ice a few weeks ago, followed by a bit of a warm spell lately. And now it looks like it’s going back to cold. All this cold plays havoc with my internal temperature, so I thought I’d share a list of things I love in the winter.

1. Tea: Obviously, I ought to start with my favorite beverage. Whether it’s an infusion of my Gardener’s Herbal Blend (not technically “tea”) or a lovely cup of oolong, tea is my preferred warmer. I love nothing more than curling up at home with my hands wrapped around a steaming cup of tea. In the winter, I tend to gravitate towards richer teas: Assam black tea, Earl Grey, more-oxidized oolongs. And I can add a dash of milk to my black tea if I want something more substantial. After all, cold weather demands extra calories to keep warm.

2. My Cashmere Shawl: This is actually Boyfriend’s, not mine, but I think perhaps whoever gave it to him thought it was a scarf. It is in fact a lovely, large shawl that I can wrap around myself several times, or stretch out to cover my feet, when I’m curled up on the sofa with my tea (and, most likely a book or television program).

3. My Tweed Coat: Of course I would love nothing more than to curl up and hibernate most days in the winter, but I do have to leave the house occasionally. When I do, I wrap up in my vintage Harris tweed overcoat. Its only shortcoming is that it has only one button to stay closed and that fell off last week (It really was the most poetic ending to a bad day, actually. I almost had to laugh). But I can sew that back on if the temperatures start to dip more decisively below freezing again. My tweed coat is both warm and professional and when I wear it with my riding boots, I almost feel like I’m taking a stroll in the English countryside, perhaps about to shoot something feathered. Like a pheasant or a grouse. But instead, I’m often just hurrying in to work before the cold nips my face too much.

4. My Gloves: These are a new addition. They were a gift, and I have to give kudos to Boyfriend’s mother for finding the perfect pair of gloves for me. They have a vintage look to them (I even used them in the play I just closed) but they actually fit me. And the thumb and index finger have conductive pads so I can use my touch-screen phone while wearing them. I was never a wearer of gloves, likely because they never fit me well, but these are a daily addition to my wardrobe.

5. My Collection of Scarves: I have scarves for every occasion. In fact, when I was cast as an Isadora-Duncan-esque dancer last year, it was probably at least in part because of the scarf I wore to auditions. The producer said, before I’d even been cast, that the scarf was likely to become a character of its own. But in the winter, I lean towards cozy woolen scarves, in plaids with fringes, wrapped up around my neck to keep me warm.

6. Cozy Layers: I’m going to call this one thing because it’s often worn all together (which is different than “in the altogether,” which would be decidedly chillier). In the winter, I often emerge from my cocoon of shawls and blankets and tea cups to take an invigorating walk in the cold. It’s good for the circulation and I think the complexion (although I’ve never suffered for long from dry skin). But when I go for a walk, I don’t want to be encumbered by too much bulk, so I generally try to dress in warm layers and skip the full overcoat. I generally reach for my cozy oatmeal tweed cabled sweater, jeans with boots, a bright orange vest, and hat, glove, and scarf.

7. Cozy Crafting: Crochet is really made for cold weather. In the summer, I stick to lighter crafts, but when the temperature drops, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a shawl or blanket in progress and let the finished bulk cover my feet while I work.

I hope you enjoyed my list of cold weather essentials. Amongst what sorts of cozy things do you curl up when the temperature drops?