Winter Survival.

I gripe a lot about winter. It's true, and I'm sorry. I always suspected that I hated it, and that suspicion was confirmed when S and I moved to Miami shortly after we got married. Those two years ruined me for good--my skin and hair were happy, we played tennis and swam year-round, and it never got dark at 4:30 in the afternoon... I blame my dad for the SAD gene.

Fortunately I've found some helpful items that have made winter a little more bearable here in the Northeast. (I don't care that Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line--it was in the teens this week.) When I'm comfortable, though, I can appreciate the good things about winter--falling snow, pretty winter scenes, cute sweaters and curling up on the couch, refusing to leave the house.

Here are my winter essentials, clockwise from top left:
  1. Fleece socks. We keep the house around 66 degrees. Since half the house is still under construction, it's nearly impossible to seal it off completely. So instead of trying to heat the entire neighborhood, we turn up the thermostat high enough to take the edge off and then bundle up. (LL Bean, $16)
  2. Burt's Bees Lemon Poppy Seed Facial Cleanser. My skin get extremely dry and scaly during the winter. Even the mildest cleaners dry it out--except for this one. This is the first winter I can remember that my face has not had visibly dry, flaky skin. It works a lot like old-fashioned cold cream; you smear it on then use a wet washcloth to wipe it off. Not only does it smell heavenly and keep my skin clean and moisturized, but it's also ranked relatively low on the hazard scale (3 out of 10) on cosmeticsdatabase.com. (Burt's Bees, $8)
  3. Eddie Bauer Yukon Classic Bomber Hat. S used to pick on me for wearing this thing, but then he read an article in GQ that said the most stylish winter hats are whichever ones keep you warm and toasty. Done! (Amazon, $40)
  4. Reliance Products "Desert Patrol" 6 Gallon Water Container. As mentioned here, our pipes freeze frequently and leave us without water. We keep this baby filled up at all times so that we have water to flush the toilet in the event of a frozen pipe incident. This guy is the MVP of winter around here. (Amazon, $21)
  5. Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. Since I was little, winter has always meant itchy skin and eczema. I recently discovered this Aveeno cream, and I hope it's never discontinued. I'm trying to get away from using petroleum products on my skin, even in small amounts, but I'm forgiving this cream because it's honestly the best moisturizer I've ever used to stop itching, clear up rashes and lock in moisture. I just won't use it on my face. (Ulta, $11)
  6. Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate. It may not be gourmet, but it gives me warm fuzzies all through the winter. (Local grocery store, cheap)
  7. Merrell Astoria Boots. Leaving our house = traipsing through mud and snow, so practical boots are essential. Most people tease me about these, but they are a) VERY warm, b) super convenient since they zip up the side, and c) very cute with the right outfit. I even discovered that my friend Hope, who journeyed from Providence to visit last weekend, has the same pair. Friendship confirmed, once again. (Athleta, $99)
  8. Lavender Choices Organic Body Oil. As I mentioned last week, I love this stuff. Coupled with my Burt's Bees cleanser (and a moisturizer with SPF in the morning), this has my skin looking and feeling healthier than ever. Literally. I'm sad that I'll need to find an alternative when my supply runs out, but I'm sure the local health foods store has something comparable. (The Enterprising Kitchen, $7)
So there you have it -- my winter essentials for life at 3820. No one paid or perked me to gush about any of this stuff. I always appreciate good recommendations, so I enjoy passing them along whenever I can.

What about you guys? Do you rely on any special survival tips for winter? I appreciate any recommendations you can give--I need all the help I can get!


  1. Ok two things- I will NEED to try that Burt's facial cleanser and the Aveeno lotion. My mom was telling me the other day about some Aveeno body wash that is excellent for dry skin but I haven't bought it yet (I think she might get me some for Christmas now). So honey, I hope this doesn't happen to you, but once I got pregnant, it was like baby Landon sucked every bit of moisture out of my normal/combination skin and has left me peeling, minus the sunburn. For the first couple of months, my hair and nails were healthy and luscious thanks to the prenatal vitamins. Now, the vitamins take a backseat to losing all my nutrients to the baby. I complain all the time about how no one ever told me about the weird little things that come with pregnancy. Anyway, being FROM Maryland and understanding everything of which you speak, I can sympathize with all your wintery woes.
    Some things I can't live without are:
    http://www.amazon.com/Neutrogena-Norwegian-Formula-Foot-Cream/dp/B000052ZBA - I've even been known to use some of this cream on my hands. When things get really bad, I cake it on and sleep with socks. It's not ideal but in the morning, what a difference.
    Let's not forget about regular old vaseline. I cannot live without it. I put it on my nose and lips every single night before I go to bed.
    For acne- I use crest toothpaste at night.
    In shower- Johnson and Johnson baby body wash since I KNOW it won't be too harsh for my skin right now.
    That's all I can think of right now!!!

  2. Emily Kate:

    You must freely admit that most of these items on your list are girly and I don't get a witness with most of it. My list is more burly than girly.

    #1 on my list is my Janie. If she's home, I'm home.
    We don't do much during cold weather and cabin fever can set-in fast. But with Janie near,life is good.

    #2 on my list is a hot wood-burning stove. It's able to warm the entire house in an even fashion that was unexpected to us. The upstairs and everywhere becomes comforable and warm. And, it's free!

    #3 on my list is a back-up generator. We're wired in so that, I start it up, flip a couple breakers and we've got lights and so on. 220v appliances don't work, like the water heater, stove/oven or furnance, but it's all good even during the coldest winter. (see #2)

    I realy feel for you two without kitchen, water, heat and all that. Do you keep your vehcles in the garage?

  3. Over the last few years I've made it an art form to not just survive winter but somewhat enjoy it. :-) Living in Spain for 7 years nearly ruined me for good regarding snow and the like.
    My go tos:
    Vitamin D: Chances are you have a deficiency, most northerners do. Check with your doctor, but I take 5,000 miligrams a day and it has done wonders with my energy level and outlook during the winter.
    Any kind of tea, chai or hot chocolate.
    A blood pummping aerobic workout for thirty minutes in the morning. I stay warm for hours afterwards.
    I could go on and on, but I won't spam up your comments. Email me if you'd like more ideas. :-)

  4. Linds -- My dad swears up and down by that Vaseline-on-the-nose-and-lips thing. He does it every single night, all year. It's petroleum based though, and I've recently learned that petroleum products make my skin worse in the long run. But I'm weird. And fully expect to get the worse possible side effects whenever I'm pregnant. That way I can be pleasantly surprised if it's easier than expected. ☺

    But I definitely recommend trying the Burt's Bees stuff. I don't like all of their products, but I just love this one.

    Mel -- How sweet that Jane is your #1 survival item. And yes, my complaints are quite girlie. I suppose I could buck up a little at times, but being cold, tired and itchy 100% of the time is no fun! We don't keep the vehicles in the garage because the driveway isn't done yet. The pathway to the garage is just mud right now. Someday, oh someday. Which reminds me, I should've included "ice scraper" in my list of essentials!

    Jenny--I wholeheartedly agree about the exercise thing. My energy levels and mood increase so much when I've burned off some of that cabin fever with exercise. We recently got a treadmill, which doesn't help with the Vitamin D thing since it keeps me inside, but does increase my chances of getting a good workout as often as possible.

  5. Love this list. Those boots are killer! I'm with you on the fleece socks and the cheap hot chocolate.
    Other things on my list - my flannel & fleece blankets (we keep our house at 65...because we're cheap AND also love any excuse to snuggle), my new facial oil from Indigo Wild (amazing! will send you an email about that later), a good Netflix queue - because who wants to go outside when it's this cold? i'm sure I'll think of others...


Thanks for reading! I love your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. Keep 'em coming!