Last week, I offered you some practical advice on how to survive the winter. We talked about planning for emergency situations and getting your home and automobile ready for the crazy weather that will surely arrive. Today, I would like to shift the focus from survival to enjoyment, from getting through the long, cold days to making the most of them.
It’s strange how from December through March our homes, which are usually places of comfort and rest, can feel like jail cells when we have nowhere else to go. We all tend to find this season a little claustrophobic. We stay indoors, sometimes through choice and sometimes through necessity—it can be downright dangerous to drive to the movie theater or the bowling alley when there’s three feet of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. I tend to think of these next few months as a time to just get through, you know what I mean? I’m not challenging myself to hike mountains or learn a new skill. But I should. Time is a precious commodity not to be wasted.
I’ve decided to compile a list of ten fun ways we can survive the winter without going stir crazy and without allowing our brains and bodies to turn to mush.
This is obviously the most surprising item on the list. Seriously, though, reading during the winter is so enjoyable. Nothing beats a soft blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and a really, really good book. Add a cuddly dog on your lap and you have the perfect night.
I like my reading selections to match the current season. There have been many times when I have started a book in the summer and ultimately put it down, deciding that it was much more of a “winter book.” If the characters are surrounded by snow, I want to be surrounded by snow. I like the winter for thick books and epics. Maybe some gilded pages and a Victorian backdrop. Start the season by making a list of all the books you want to read in that year and use those snowbound days to work towards checking each one off the list. Oh, and if your friends and family didn’t happen to read my recent post about gifting books, pick yourself up a book light ASAP; that bad boy will come in handy if you lose power.
If you have to be stuck inside, why not spruce up your surroundings? This could be as simple as rearranging furniture and changing out your seasonal décor. If you’re ambitious, start compiling your ideas and putting together some samples of paint colors and fabric swatches. The library has a great collection of magazines all about home décor and remodeling, including Elle Décor, Family Handyman, and HGTV Magazine. Pinterest is also an excellent tool to find inspiration, as is the large crop of blogs dedicated to interior design. The Inspired Room, which was voted “2014 Readers’ Favorite Decorating Blog by Better Homes & Garden’s,” is a great example of a redecorating blog.
3. Practice a Winter Sport or Activity
Let me preface this by saying that the closest I have ever come to learning a winter sport is making snowmen and snow angels and going sledding a couple of times. I am the first to admit that skiing and snowboarding are not for everyone. But, this is the ultimate way to embrace the snow—to tell it that you don’t care how cold and wet it is; you are going to have fun! Instead of hiding indoors, go outside (conditions permitting) and take in the beauty of it all. Play, make snowmen, have a snowball fight, get one of those cheap, plastic disc sleds and find a hill. Pretend you’re a kid again, and remember that before snow became something that needed to be shoveled and driven through, it was something fun and magical.
4. Whip Up Some Comfort Food
This is the season for stews, soups, breads, jams, and cookies. Break out your Crock-Pots or Slow Cookers and get to cutting up your vegetables. Refamiliarize yourself with your kitchen and get motivated: this is the time to try that recipe that takes at least four hours and twenty ingredients to make; this is the time to finally use the bread maker you received as a wedding gift ten years ago; and this is the time to teach your kids how to make grandma’s perfect chocolate chip cookies. Take a look through Amazon’s list of the best cookbooks for 2014. If any catch your eye, check our catalog to see if they’re available. If you’re a beginner in the kitchen (like me), start compiling a recipe book of your own, filled with the ones you want to try and the ones that have been successful and you would like to make again.
Since I’m encouraging you to eat, it’s only right that I encourage you to exercise. Working out at home is a no-brainer if you have exercise equipment on hand, like a treadmill, elliptical, and free weights. Even if you don’t, you can still get in a good calorie burn. The LPL has a large selection of exercise DVDs, which are generally located under the call number 613.7, and will whip you into shape via cardio step, Pilates, yoga, core training, and other methods. If you’re looking for something specific, consult our catalog or call the Reference Department. Many of the most effective moves are also the simplest, with nothing other than your body and a fair amount of energy needed: jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, and planks. It can even be as basic as putting on some music and walking or running up and down your staircase a few times each day.
6. Collect Hobbies
Notice that I did not say learn a hobby or practice a hobby. When I say collect hobbies, I mean try as many different hobbies as possible until you find one or more that stick. I grew up with a mother who collects hobbies—she scrapbooks, makes homemade cards and jewelry, crochets, and so on and on and on. The great thing is that she is never bored! There’s always something around that she loves to do. If it’s ten below outside and you don’t feel watching yet another reality show marathon, it would be good if you could have supplies on hand to get creative. But, it’s important to find your hobby. Find something that you could spend hours doing without it feeling like you’ve spent hours doing it. Several of my coworkers here at the LPL crochet and knit, and their work is amazing. I’ve tried to learn many times and just couldn’t get the hang of it. Recently, my father started making small model airplanes—if Barbie and Ken owned an airplane hangar, it would look like our attic. Take a walk around a craft store for inspiration, talk to your favorite librarian, flip through some magazines, or take this CNN quiz, which promises to find the perfect hobby to match your personality.
I have never gotten the hang of keeping a diary. As someone who enjoys writing and finds great value in it, I should be a journaling pro. Sadly, I am one of those people who has had dozens of diaries over the years, but with only a few pages of each filled in. Oprah Winfrey has kept a journal since she was 15—another reason for me to idolize her. Research has shown that keeping a journal can have serious health benefits, like reducing stress levels. In recording our experiences and feelings, we cannot only exorcise negativity, but also learn from our mistakes and find empowerment in moving forward. If you’re snowbound, why not pick up that journal you tossed aside last year (or find a spare marble notebook—anything will do) and start writing it all down.
8. Watch Movies
I know that along with reading, watching movies is a no-brainer for snowbound and rainy days. I’ve included it because it is a tried and true way of spending a quiet day at home. Instead of watching the same movie for the fiftieth time, challenge yourself to watch those films that you have never gotten around to seeing. You can also have some fun with it and schedule yourself some themed viewing blocks; Spend a day watching Alfred Hitchcock films, Academy Award Winners for Best Picture, or films that take place in New York. Make some popcorn, dim the lights and it’ll be like you’re in the most comfortable movie house around.
9. Have a Board Game Day
My friends and I love a good game night. Video games are great and I know how popular they are, though the last video game I was truly excited about was Looney Tunes for the original Nintendo, so I am a little out of step with current trends. On the other hand, board games never go out of the style. The classics, like Scrabble, Connect Four, and Monopoly, to name a few, will never get old. Board games are a fun opportunity for quality family time. They may not be as flashy as video games or as publicized, but I always seem to find a new game when I’m browsing a store. Get creative and try making your own board game—that could also take care of #6. 🙂
10. Correspond the Old Fashioned Way
People like to talk about letter writing as though it is an extinct species or a quaint hobby for senior citizens. The truth is that for most of us it really is so much more convenient to email and text message. However, let’s not forget that handwritten letters got the job done for centuries before technology changed the game. Something handwritten will always feel more meaningful and intimate than an email. A proper handwritten letter is such a personalized form of communication—individual handwriting and a plethora of stationery choices make each letter something special. Mailing letters has become such a novelty that the recipient will probably feel more thrilled than they would be willing to admit upon receiving your missive. They could be thousands of miles away, but when they run their hand over the indentations of your writing, and take notice of your cross-outs and mistakes in spelling, they can briefly fool themselves into believing that you are near. These small things add up to make us feel less separated by distance. Write to someone you love, someone you miss, or someone you wish you hadn’t fallen out of touch with.
Have a Happy and Fun Winter,