Preparing for Winter

Last winter for me was brutal on so many fronts that I’m determined to make this winter much more pleasant. Here’s how:

  • Having a Positive State of Mind. I love crisp and colorful Fall, but I’m going to learn to love the winter as well. I can either choose to mope around inside my apartment feeling dull and lazy and having a woe-is-me attitude, or I can choose to embrace a new season (and cross my fingers for some beautiful snow). This year, I choose the latter. It’s all about a positive attitude, especially important when you see nothing but gray skies and cold air for several months. I’m going to make an effort, because it’s going to take effort, to live in the moment of each winter day without saying things like “I can’t wait until Spring.” Don’t waste each day thinking about how tomorrow will be better.
  • Stocking Up on Food to Freeze Now. The Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood ends the second week of December, and the food offerings begin to get quite sparse in mid-November. I’ve already frozen berries and zucchini during the summer, but recently I’ve been freezing bell peppers and celery. Some people say don’t bother freezing celery as they retain too much water, but they’re gonna come in handy in January when I’ll be cooking copious amounts of soups, stews, and broths. Frozen bell peppers also work great for stir frys, fried rice, lasagna and pizza.
  • Taking Advantage of Farmer’s Market Food Right Now: I don’t want to regret not fully taking advantage of the nutrient-rich foods now while they’re here, so I’ve been loading up on my fruits and veges that are still in season: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, tat choy, bok choy, swiss card, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets, plums, and apples. Get them while they last.
  • Investing on a Good Blender and Tea Kettle: This summer I broke my blender trying to make kale pesto. I’ve been saving up to buy a new one because during the winter I’ll be making fruit smoothies every week. It might sound like the last thing you’d want to drink on a cold winter’s day is a cold smoothie, but I’m going to covet getting my local, freshly picked blueberry and strawberry antioxidants in February. And I think a cheerful green melon smoothie on a dark and damp day will make things a bit brighter, even for a moment. I’m also saving up to buy a tea kettle because in addition to the cold smoothies, I’m also going to want warm homemade turmeric cinnamon and ginger garlic teas.
  • Buying a New Moisturizer for Dry Skin: Although my airy moisturizer has been working great for my skin the last few months, I’m beginning to research new products that work better for the drier air indoors and the chilly wind outdoors. I’m leaning toward balms and oils. I’ll post an update when I find the perfect one.
  • Learning to Enjoy the Indoors: I certainly can’t afford to take a ski trip to Vancouver, but there are simple and affordable things I have in mind that I’d like to do this winter. I’m looking forward to reading the dozen+ books waiting for me, and finding new ones at Value Village and Half Price Books. I’m going to watch my favorite old films again. I’m going to master some new soup recipes. And most importantly, I’m going to set new goals for the upcoming year. Maybe for you it’s finally learning how to sew. For me, this winter I’d like to start putting together my family’s stories in the form of a memoir; finding a way to make the countless pieces into something cohesive.
  • Exercising. This should be a year-round thing, but realistically exercising is hard to do when you don’t own a vehicle and you’d have to walk a round trip of one hour to your yoga studio when it’s 30 degrees outside. And I really admire fit and determined Seattleites who still go jogging in nothing but shorts and a T-shirt in the coldest weather, but that’s just never going to be me (I get cold when it’s 70 degrees). So what I have planned for myself include doing a lot of stretching each day, meditating, netflixing yoga DVDs, and exercising a few times a week with the Barre3 DVD. Exercising during the winter months can be discouraging, so find something you can and want to do, and just begin to make it an important part of your week on par with eating.
  • Organizing Now. This is the time to start putting away your summer clothes if you haven’t done so yet, and rearranging your closet and drawers. Also, as you begin to unearth your sweaters and jackets from last winter, see if there’s things you seem to always have in your closet but never wear, and take those clothes to your neighborhood donation site. There’s going to be a lot of people who could use some warm gear right about now.
  • Finding Ways to Give. You know what one of the best winter blues mood enhancers are? Making someone else happy. It could be something as simple as sending someone you love something they need without waiting until it’s Christmas, or more importantly without being asked to do it. In November and December, there’s a ton of places that could use gift donations or an extra hand on the serving line. And it’s good to remember that soup kitchens still need a lot of help beyond the prominent holidays. There’s nothing like the feeling of helping someone without expecting anything in return – I can almost guarantee you’ll feel a million times better.
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