How to survive winter

iced grass

The sun will come out. Eventually.

We gotta admit that the recent streak of frigid weather has us a bit down. But that's OK -- we'll make it.

Here are a few small/simple items/actions that we've found help us get through the coldest parts of winter...

Two pairs of socks
We've come to the conclusion that if our feet are warm, the rest of us will probably be OK, too. We like to wear one pair of thin, tight-fitting socks with a bulkier, not-as-snug, wool-type sock over the top.

Long undies
Dead sexy they are not. But the extra layer they provide will go a long way to keeping you warm. And you don't have to spend a bunch on some sort of ultra-fiber-space-shuttle-material-bamboo fabric. A useful set shouldn't cost more than $25.

Chrisck pointed these out last winter and we're glad she did. Yaktrax are like tire chains for you shoes. They made a big difference when trudging over icy sidewalks. They're overkill for just running from the house to the car. But if you walk a lot (especially if you have a dog), they're great. EMS has Yaktrax for $20 ($30 for the "pro" version that comes with an extra strap).

Do something
You should go outside and do something. Really. Properly bundled, it's not that cold. And if you can find something that you enjoy doing, it makes the winter a lot easier to take. Go sledding. Go snowshoeing. Walk the dog somewhere fun. It can be really pretty this time of year. Also: the fresh air and exercise will keep you from feeling all sludgy.

A shovel for your car
This is one of those things that you might not use often, but you'll be glad you have it when the time comes. It's great for opening some space when your car has been plowed in. And our trunk shovel totally saved the day a few years back when we came back from a trip to find our car under 1.5 feet of snow in the long term lot at ALB.

flannel sheetsFlannel sheets
They take some of the chill off that slip into bed each night. Also: soft. One down side: they're so comfy that getting out of bed in the morning seems like a not so great idea. We recently found a new set at Target for just $20.

Programmable thermostat
There's a good chance you already have one of these. If you don't know how to program it, you should figure it out. For two reasons:

  • It can help you save money by turning down the heat during times you're not normally at home (or at night when you're warmly snuggled in bed)
  • You can set it to turn the heat up an hour before you wake up. A warm house or apartment in the morning makes getting out of bed a lot easier.

Roast something
You have to eat. So you might as well cook something that will 1) make the house smell good and 2) make the kitchen all toasty. We like to buy some sort of cheap cut of meat (we recently scored a pork roast at Hannaford for .99/pound) and roast it on Sundays (the left overs make easy meals later in the week). Not a fan of meat? Try roasting root vegetables. Also good: homemade soup.

That's just a handful of ways that make the deepest parts of winter a little easier.

We're guessing you have a bunch of good ideas, too. We'd love to hear them!


best root veggie roasting recipe ever!


I'll vouch for the Yaktrax, too. I recently got a pair and took them running on an icy/snowy path-- no slippage whatsoever. I'm pretty sure that if they can handle Midwestern winter conditions, they can handle anything. Now my whole family has them and everyone's managed to stay upright.

I have the regular walking version, but has anyone tried the Pro ones? I wasn't sure if the slightly larger coils or straps were really worth the extra $10.

I the Wii Fit for Christmas and it's definitely helping fight of the winter lethargy I suffer from every year (plus, it helps keep off some of those comfort food pounds). It also happens to be a lot of fun.

Also: Netflix and great books. Nothing combats a blustery day better than curling up in flannel jammies on the sofa with a good movie or book, and a cup of cocoa or tea.

If you can hold out until February, you don't even need to buy Yaktrax, just keep an eye out anywhere downtown for ones that have slipped off of people's shoes.

Love all of these ideas!

I am a native of this area and would never want to live anywhere else. I truly love winter, not as an outdoor sportsperson but because of the coziness.

I think it is healthy to embrace the seasons. The cold outside is what makes us deserve the sanctuary inside.

Plus, the rigors of winter build character.

Plus, without winter we would not need (or deserve) such treasures as cocoa, fleece, Grand Marnier, and fireplaces.

@B stay on the lookout for me!

Flannel sheets make me feel like I'm sleeping in velcro--they're not for me, but I can't get enough flannel PJs! Lodge's has great old-lady PJs in pretty floral prints for like 7$-10$ (I happen to think really kitsch PJs are the best, the more old lady the better), or plaid if you're more into that kind of thing :)

10 pack of chap stick, a car with heated seats, liquor. Not necessarily in that order.

Yes, the Yaktrax with the velcro is totally worth the $10 extra. My first pair without the strap popped off more than once. Also, you need to determine the right size based on the kind of shoe or boot you mostly will be wearing. A too-small size (like one suitable for a dress shoe used on a bulkier boot) is going to pop off.

To the suggestion of Grand Marnier above (I personally am into the Italian Strega this year), there is also mulled cider (with a shot of Calvados). This is a reward for mushing around in the snow.

And bird feeders in the winter. Watching cardinals and other song birds peck away at your seed and suet on a Sunday afternoon is lovely.

Baking is also good.

I love winter (except this past week-end).

Have a snowball fight with your dog- they love it. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa (with or without a nip of your cordial of choice) and you'll be all set.

TV on DVD. A marathon viewing of "True Blood" will definitely distract from the fact that it's 10 degrees outside.

I picked up a couple Turtle Fur neck gaiters 2 winters ago and they changed my winter outlook. I pull them right up over my nose and the cold air is no more, I can breathe without any difficulty, even snowshoing.

The other thing I want to throw into the mix - I made "rice bags" with flannel for every member of my family this Christmas. It was my sisters idea - she said if you heat them up in the microwave you can put them at the foot of your bed before jumping in, and it warms the feet. It really works! And I was happy to have a gift idea that cost me all of $1.50 in fabric and some sewing time. Next year, they're all getting homemade fleece gaiters but don't tell :-)

Clean your apt/house/room! It will get you moving and you'll feel peaceful hanging out inside with clean surroundings.

Then invite people over to combat loneliness and let it get trashed :)

Doubling up on socks is classic advice. And something I wish I'd done yesterday while I was standing in the snow in my Converses dealing with a flat tire.

I'll take your flannel sheets and raise you one--FLEECE sheets. A.mazing. No, you don't get too hot and sweaty and they never stop being soft. Found some at Marshalls and this past weekend found the exact same brand on sale. Combine these with The World's Softest Socks (don't know if that's a tm)-yes- they are. (you can find those at the sock outlet in Lee). You might never leave your house again.

L.L. Bean makes a Yaktrax-like product that has cleats instead of coils. I've only used mine a few times so far, but haven't had any indication that they might come off my feet. They were $20.

Don't forget a comfy hat or earmuffs! I also have a windproof balaclava that I bought from a bicycle warehouse for winter riding. It is warm and completely windproof!

1) Heated mattress pad. Outdoes an electric blanket by far.

2) Heated car seats

3) Flannel pj's *and* flannel sheets. Not only will you not want to get out of bed, you won't be able to. Next best thing to velcro!

4) Silly hats. Face it, you're going to wear a hat anyway, you might as well have some fun with it. My fleece jester hat never fails to bring a smile to people's faces.

5) Sunglasses. Probably even more useful in the winter than the summer.

6) 4 year old Labrador Retriever. Ever played 'catch' with a lab? Ever do it with snowballs? Priceless.

ok, i couldn't make it through winter without my beloved is the best feeling to come in form the cold to a soup/stew/etc that has been cooking all day and has made your whole house smell delicious. snuggle with your dog..better than any man could ever do! and the APL. i love love LOVE me all the free books i can possibly read over the course of our 8 month winter. and last but not least, a sweet brownstone on madison ave that has heat included..can anyone beat not paying for a 73 degree apt?

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