He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. ~John Burroughs
Its hard to believe that the last day of autumns glory has departed and the start of a new season has begun. Winter always arrives in a magnificent splendor as it is introduced to us in the height of Christmas. What season can top that prelude? It is a season that embodies an abundance of new beginnings, peaceful times of reflection, warm, cozy fires in our hearths, as the wind howls in an harmonic melody accompanied by the pristine white snow as it wondrously falls outside our double-paned windows. Suddenly, we are enriched with an entirely new ambiance surrounding our days…the December equinox enchanting birds have arrived, bringing a luminescent array of rich colors and new songs. Our hearts bounce with excitement when we have days where we actually feel the warmth of the sun as it is making its way through the overcast skies, with its welcomed accolade and bright , gleeful radiance. Our neighborhoods are filled with nostalgic aromas of fresh firewood kindling , and we begin to get use to natures new attire of white and are surprised when we are no longer longing for the ” the lush green” like we did in the beginning. Every season has its brilliance… When I think of all the cliches of this season, “I leave my home in the winter time and take up residency in Florida for three months,” “Winter is a depressing season” or ” Winter makes me lazy and all I want to do is be a couch potato,”) I find myself feeling just the opposite. True, this season does not gift us with springs vivid and extraordinary, kaleidoscopic blooms, summer’s warmth and the sandy beaches splendor, and the magical three months of fall with its vibrant reds and golds, but, it undoubtedly exemplifies a rare beauty all of its own... Brighter night skies with the air eminently colder and refreshingly crisp. The stars shine lambently and the moon graces us with its tranquil radiance… the trees, now stark and bare, silhouetted against a galvanic sunrise or sublime and flawless sunset, causes our hearts to skip a beat with its stellar beauty. There is nothing like the first fallen snow, blanketing all of nature in an opalescent, fluffy white ….everything looks and feels pure, fresh and clean. As the sun glistens upon the snow banks, and we are snugly wrapped up in a million layers of wintry clothes, thick gloves and scarves covering our faces from the sting of the bitter cold, we feel like little kids again as we trample through the dense yet ethereal, frozen white snow, hearing our boots crunch with each step..if we fall over , no worries…we feel as if we are wrapped up in gigantic pillows…after making a snow angel or two, (we giddily get back up into a standing position and keep going.) We know its time to come in when we can’t complete our words any longer as our mouths are frozen … we quickly barrel back to our welcomed warm homes, and within five minutes, we are down to one layer, happily sitting on the brick hearth, soothed by the sounds of crackling wood and the warmth of the flames upon our backs…we are in heaven! We drink an abundance of coffee, hot cider or steaming cocoa, as we warm our bodies and feel our internal temperature gauge slowly rising to “normal.” 🙂 Now its time to enjoy the beauty of winter from the inside of our homes…we smile as we KNOW the snow will be there in the morning.
Do you ever wonder why people are drawn to the seasons they are? Could it be that it truly is within our genetic makeup? In a way, I liken it to our preference of cuisine… most people either “really love” spicy, Mexican or Asian food or they prefer lightly seasoned cuisine, some even bland. Why am I a “salty” person where as my husband adores sweets… I have two close friends that are in many ways, very much alike, yet one adores autumn and winter, where the other, dislikes the chillier seasons so immensely , she can hardly wait for springtime to arrive. The lover of spring is an April baby, where the other entered this world in the Fall…Is our ‘birth month’ one of the reasons we are drawn to one season more than another? Grantham is definitely a lover of Winter with his four layer fur coat accompanied by his curiosity and excitement with the ‘white-icy-slush.’ 🙂 Our black lab Patch, preferred being inside on his cozy bed when winter arrived in Virginia, dauntlessly avoiding every attempt we made to get him to go outside and play in the snow. As I have grown older, I have come to love and appreciate all 4 seasons, winter and fall more so, but there is such a beautiful bestowal with each one. For myself, winter is a time that evokes a myriad of creative juices to begin flowing.… Living on the east coast, and in many countries with polar temperatures, we can’t do all the things we are use to doing when the weather is gorgeous, warm and the sun brightly shines amidst our green, verdant lawns…But,this wondrous, mysterious season of winter has so much to offer with its many diverse gifts. In this blog, I hope to share with you some imaginative and inspiring ideas, (21 to be exact, 🙂 ) to bring forth an abundance of joy, fun and laughter to your winter months, (perhaps even change your mind a little bit, and take this placid and tranquil season off the bottom of your “favorite season list.” ) 🙂
“And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree…. Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~Pietro Aretino, translated from Italian
“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”~Ruth Stout
“Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. “~Terri Guillemets
“The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.” ~John Updike
A wintry mix of a few adventurous and innovative ideas of bliss…
If you are already counting the days from New Years to March 20th, (the first day of spring,) how about planning your garden in front of a roaring, cozy fire? Strategizing, envisioning and researching is half the fun of creating your delightful spring garden. Treat yourself to a new garden book, a photo album, a drawing pad, colored pencils and start envisioning your garden from start to finish… Create a photo album of last years garden and decide what you want to replant , what will come back on its own, what new flowers or array of vegetables do you want to plant this year? Where will each, “soon to bloom” treasure be placed within your “enclosed beautiful amphitheater?”
One of my favorite things to do on a piercingly brisk afternoon is to have a Themed Kitchen “creation day.” First off, I decide my motif… Italian, Mexican, vegetarian, Indian, home cooking or perhaps a decadent dessert. Secondly, I research the web or my repertoire of inherited family cookbooks for NEW recipes and pick one that is to tempting to pass up … I brew a fresh pot of coffee, put a classic movie on my petite, kitchen TV and begin to conjure up something delicious …I am always on the hunt for THE BEST spaghetti sauce out there… (but I still believe that my mom’s ‘secret sauce’ will always be my very favorite.) Not only is it fun to throw caution to the wind and add an array of new seasonings, fresh herbs from the grocer and be daring and try different types of tomatoes, onions and spices, but just the aroma alone, wafting from my kitchen stove, is a fabulous gift to our home as the savory sauce fills the air with the most “homey and nostalgic” fragrance, while it simmers all day on the stove. I make extra sauce so I can save some for another day or give a jar to my neighbor. (Another fun thing to do during this stay-warm, indoor season; canning, making jams and jellies and sauces for gifts! )
NO GUILTY PLEASURES HERE! The weather channel has predicted a winter storm for the day, the roads are already icy and the fireplace is beckoning you to come and enjoy its abundance of warmth and mesmerizing, candescent flames. It is the perfect time of the year to curl up and get lost in your favorite authors new novel. Whether atop your cozy bed, snuggled up on the couch, or favorite chair nestled close to the kindling wood, your minutes of intrigue, romance or self help ideas will turn to hours of total repose and escape.
Is nature calling you to, “Come and enjoy some fresh air?” It is no secret that many of us dream of a “white Christmas”…How about a “White” New Years, Peoples choice awards night or Valentines day? If you live in the part of your country that is blessed to have real “snow days,” take advantage of this resplendent gift and enjoy all the felicity of a fresh snowfall…There is nothing quite like the thrill of riding down a slippery snowbank in an inter tube, or being hit by one as you forget to move out of the path when you stand up, suddenly frozen with fear as you see the next inner tube arriving in ‘fast motion.’ (Yes, true story.) 🙂 For many its the exhilaration of snow skiing , creating your first snowman of the season or watching your “Precious cargo” frolic and play the Eskimo way, in the abundant white fluff. (When Kit and I lived in Connecticut, Grantham went out one morning, after a midnight snow storm that delivered over a foot of snow. We called him, (as usual,) and he was nowhere to be found….as we began looking, we heard a muffled bark and as we looked to our right, there he was, burrowed under a beautiful canopy of white, with only the tip of his black , wagging tail visible. He was having the time of his life and no allurement of a beefy bone or bacon strip would get him back in the door.
With the academy awards, People Choice awards and Grammy’s coming up, January is a perfect time for a “HOME MATINEE PARTY.” Plan a special movie day …ask some friends over and make some savory, ambrosial snacks, appetizers, (you have to have an endless bowl of buttered popcorn,) start a fire in your fireplace, light some candles, and begin your “Cinema adventure.”
For your home movie day, rent the movies that are up for awards this year or if you have already seen them, here are some “all time” great movies to rent, depending upon your mood…
For those who love the CLASSICS; Two great picks are “Rear Window” and ‘The Sixth sense.’
ROMANCE and Kleenex movies, (guaranteed to evoke emotion,) …. The renowned and beloved author Nicholas Sparks’ two galvanic novels that were made into films…’Safe Haven’ and ‘The Lucky one .’
If you are a lover of suspense….Alfred Hitchcock’s, Rebbecca and Now you see me, will keep you on the edge of your seat…
FOR THE LITTLE ONES, (and the young at heart,) Happy feet and The Legend of the Guardians, The OWLS of GA’HOOLE are wonderfully entertaining with exquisite animation.
Winter is an ideal time for starting your abundance of Home Improvement projects. (I can’t help but smile as this always reminds me of Tim the Tool man Taylor, in the popular sitcom.) 🙂 Whether building a bookshelf, refinishing your hardwood floors or transforming an old piece of furniture into something that looks brand new, plan out your projects, purchase all your needed items and get lost in your creative skills… If you love handwork, needlepoint, quilting, painting ceramic plates or scrap booking, treat yourself to all the materials you will need and bestow upon yourself, a time to relax and unwind as you are bringing forth an abundance of beauty. It is not only fun , but recreational to use this season of cold, overcast days to engage yourself in a project you really enjoy doing, that will also, enhance the aesthetic charm of your cozy haven..
Plan and create a pleasurable day with friends and family…Cook up an array of delicious cuisine, bring in a few extra , comfy chairs, giving your guests a front row seat to an exciting and much looked forward to, Superbowl Game gathering.
If you love to decorate and have the time, let your creative juices begin to flow and bring forth a cheerful, colorful and welcoming ambiance for your Superbowl guests!
Sounds scrumptious! (And I would definitely add the chocolate chips!) 🙂
Rent a cabin in the mountains for a dulcet weekend or relishable “seven days of heaven.” Enjoy all the sights, smells and sounds of winter in the country. There is nothing quite like a roaring fire, a cup of steamy hot chocolate and a junoesque snowfall amongst the wintry woods or the elfin glow of a lake, covered with the glimmering shine of incandescent ice.
How about an organized family game day? Whether playing competitive video games, an old familiar table game, Crazy eights or charades, being with your family and friends, getting ‘a little’ out of character as you change into your ‘competition mode,’ 🙂 is a great idea on a “refrigerated.” wintry day. (If you feel like being a lone, challenge yourself with some rounds of solitaire, a one man video game or an in depth crossword puzzle.) 🙂
I will never forget a few years back, when we experienced a snowstorm like never before. Our power went out so Kit and I could not work on our computers, use any type of electricity, watch a movie, listen to music… we decided to get out our games… As we lit a myriad of candles, we had more fun playing Scrabble Slam, Uno, crazy eights, and what surprised me the most is we took out a deck of Old Maid cards and we laughed so hard, (til our jaws ached,) 🙂 with that game (both of us putting on our poker faces, (or trying to anyways) to fool the other into picking the old maid out of the few cards left in our hands. 🙂 We would have never done that if it was a normal day! A winter storm has many advantages! 🙂
Do not laugh, until you have tried it! 🙂
I have yet to do this, but have heard rave reviews on hosting a Grammy party at your home with friends and family. (We love watching the Grammys and sharing it with others who adore it as well, would only enhance the fun!) Add a touch more excitement and mirth by asking each of your guests to come in costume…dressed up as their favorite Grammy nominee…have a few door prizes ” ready for the winners!”
If you really feel creative, make up some voting ballets for your guests to vote in their favorites for the awards ceremony… create a celebratory ambiance in rich, lively reds or classic black and white… If you have time, bake up some savory , delicious Hors d’oeuvres for your guests and send them home with a palatable, decorative box filled with their favorite confections.
Conjure up some intrigue and suspense as you create an unforgettable evening with friends and family…Have a “ Murder Mystery Dinner.” (See my Blog; “A murder Mystery at the old Carmine Estate in Mystic.” ) Plan your guests, characters and plot, create a “suspenseful atmosphere” and cook up a cozy , comfort dinner of Beef Stroganoff, Shepherds Pie or a big pot of homemade chili! Guaranteed to be an enjoyable and memorable evening! (Half the fun is also in the planning and creating!)
If you begin to feel a little bit of the “winter blues,” bundle up and give a few hours of your time to your towns or city’s nearest Soup Kitchen. I always find that one of the richest , most fulfilling activities I can partake in, is giving my time and self to others who are in need. Seeing the gratitude and joy on others faces will only bring that same joy to yours! 🙂
Decide on the perfect evening and MC a concert in your home ...whether with family or friends, pick a few DVDs of your favorite musical artists and stock up on the munchies, appetizers, festive drinks and enjoy a home concert! (And if you feel like dancing, dance until your heart is content!) 🙂
A few highly recommended and delightful concerts! (My favorite being Michael McDonald’s, “A gathering of friends.”
Planning a ladies afternoon tea for a chilly day, or calling a few girlfriends to meet you at a resplendent and fancy tearoom for “High Tea” would be a wonderful and enjoyable afternoon!
You can go with a formal home Tea…
OR, make it cozy and simple! Its the camaraderie and laughter shared with one another that will make this a memorable wintry gathering…. the ambiance you create is “icing on the cake.”
A casual High Tea at a nearby Tea Room… ( Our city’s Tea Room embodies a Victorian motif, with beautiful English china and magical Tea hats and scarfs to create a delightfully pampered experience for its guests.)
It is also a delightful treat to meet at a regal and prominent Tea Room in a renowned Hotel for a Formal Tea…. (They do all the work for you!) 🙂
A trip to your local Borders or Barnes and Nobles for a wonderful day of browsing through your favorite magazines, listening to the newest music at the CD listening bar, reading a great novel while sipping on a scrumptious caramel macchiato and a delicious fruit scone! When Kit and I lived in Alexandria, the Barnes and Nobles across form our home, allowed Graham to come in with us…every Christmas season, we would go for hours, get our magazines, books, coffees and sweet treats and find a cozy corner with chairs. The three of us were “more than content,” as we browsed through our books, listened to Christmas music and talked with others doing the very same thing. (Graham was just elated that he didn’t have to stay in the jeep on our afternoon excursion…going into a place where he was welcomed and could hang out with us and others, was like ” Doggy-heaven” to him.) 🙂
Adopt a pet... With the sunshine taking frequent vacations, and our days more overcast with chilly temps, winter is the perfect time to create some new joy in your home with an adorable pet that is in need of some love and a warm home…. It could be a project with your children or with your mate… YES, its a little extra work, (OK, maybe a lot,) but adopting a pet and bringing love and a safe place to these little, (or big) guys, is a gift to you and your family of endless warm fuzzies and abundant felicity.
A great resource for pet adoption is 1-800-adopt-a-pet or contact your nearest SPCA.
Get your leather gloves, wool scarves and jackets out with your helmet and heavy jeans… This scenic season is a glorious time to take a bike ride... whether to the beach, a country road or to the bustling city, its a front row ticket to enjoy all the beauty that winter brings .Think of all the engaging sights you will behold on your days journey! (And the places you will undoubtedly stop at for hot coffee, hot chocolate and, steaming bowls of savory soups ! 🙂
Plan an actual Play date with your pet in the magical and miraculous snow! Some pets love this over abundance of “white fluff,” its great exercise and brings a heart full of joy to you,seeing your “babies” having so much fun.
All you will need is a notebook, your choice and style of fabric, ( I personally change my material for each season, making several fabric designed notebooks at once,) a package of at least 24 designed sheets of paper, filler paper for making your
daily “To Do List,” Sharpie pens, glue gun, scissors, stickers or cutouts for “special occasions,” such as birthdays, anniversaries or the date “The Voice “comes back on TV in the spring. 🙂 ) Just joshing. I make my own organizer every year with a different notebook and designed paper…Its is not only personalized, but a really fun project for a cold, rainy January day! (And it truly helps me to organize my thoughts, plans, goals and brings me an abundance of peace throughout the new year..)
Exchange your jubilant Christmas decor with a winter-themed snowman motif!
For my family, when the wondrous season of Christmas is over and I fell a bit wistful as I pack up and store all of our Christmas attire in the attic, I purposefully leave out all my cheerful snowmen. If you are a lover of snowmen as well, bring your cheerful guys alive by creating a winning and captivating , wintry corner in your home, turn your Christmas tree into a “Winter Wonderland extravaganza ” or dress up your dining room with an amiable, resplendent snowman table scape…bringing a smile to your family and each winter guest! (I keep my snowmen up through March, as living in Delaware, we have at least three months of cold, icy or snowy weather. 🙂
I love this bright, fortuitous, wintry tree … What a great New years Creation!
Lastly, another favorite winter tradition our family has is a “Home day at the spa.” Everything has to be “just perfect.” for our relaxing and rejuvenating adventure. Our bed made up with soft cotton sheets and down comforter with an abundance of pillows…(Check.) The chicken quesadillas prepared and placed in the oven, (check.) A fresh pot of coffee brewing, (check.) Two of our favorite movies ready to go in the DVD player , (check.) A potpourri of diverse candles lit (as we don’t have a fireplace, (yet,) 🙂 (Check.) We then, flip a coin as to who gets their back massage first. Also included is a heavenly foot rub, facial, neck and hand massage. It is a perfect day…not only is all the stored tension in our muscles long gone, but we feel entertained, are enjoying great food, one anothers company and the day couldn’t be any better if we had paid a professional and gone to the spa… we don’t even think about what the weather is like outside, (in fact, we are secretly hoping for snow flurries.) 🙂 It truly is a wonderful day filled with blithesome hours. This idea definitely goes on my “highly recommended” list.) 🙂
***** On (kind of) the same note, this last year, our Grantham was diagnosed with arthritis as well as suffered from a torn tendon in his leg. We were blessed to discover ‘The essence of Rosemary oil’…It truly is a miracle oil… its so fabulously soothing to him, easing his acing joints, so much so, that he falls asleep with one massage…and its great for us humans too! 🙂 We are so thankful that his leg is healed and his arthritis soothed!!! 🙂
I hope that this blog has inspired you with a few ideas, (you haven’t already thought of,) 🙂 to add some joy, sunshine and FUN to this winter season!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2014~ Bonne annee, ~ Felix sit annus novus, ~ Felice anno nuovo!!!
PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where each picture originated.