The Simple Pleasures of Winter

Since moving away from New England, I keep expecting winter to come. Any moment, I think. Any moment that chill in the air will turn a bit too frightful for a mere sweater, and we'll have to pull out the big down-filled coats and knit mittens and hats. Any moment that first magical snow will fall, bringing with it a hush that draws us a bit closer together. It's true that I am not a huge fan of winter. But I do miss that first snowfall, and the way our old neighborhood became quiet and sparkling beneath a blanket of white. Of course, the Bay Area has its own, more subtle take on winter, and I plan to take full advantage of all of my favorite cozy comforts while it lasts. Hot tea, homemade chocolate chip granola bars, warm sweaters, and glowing candlelight aplenty.

I love the Danish concept of hygge, which translates roughly to creating a warm, cozy atmosphere and enjoying time with family and friends, and that is what I hope to create in my own home. In fact, I find myself drawn to everything from the nordic region at this time of year - the Dala horse motif (seen on my favorite mug above), the Danish/Swedish tv show The Bridge, white floors, cozy sheepskins flung over chairs, Swedish mystery novels, the dramatic and unusual Dogme films (I especially love Italian for Beginners), Hanna Andersson, Ikea, Astrid Lindgern (I just read Pippi Longstocking for the first time with my son), saunas, and of course, the lovely Swedish coffee-and-cake break tradition known as fika.

It's funny, working from home you might think I work in my pajamas and take breaks whenever I want, but the truth is I often find myself working too hard, forgetting to give myself a break. If you work from home, perhaps you know what I mean? But part of the spirit of winter lies in slowing down and giving yourself a break, both literally and emotionally. Outside in New England, or in Scandinavia, nature couldn't be more clear: winter is when you rest. So yesterday I took an uncharacteristically long break to bake a batch of my son's favorite chocolate chip granola bars. The scent of the honey and oats wafting from the oven was deeply comforting - and when they came out of the oven, I stole away to my room with a wedge of granola bar, a mug of hot tea, and a stack of new magazines. The winter light was dim, and the rain was falling outside, so I lit a candle and enjoyed the sound of the raindrops. The sky feels so fresh after the rain, I've always loved that. 

I'd love to hear: What is your favorite season? How do you honor the changes in nature where you live, whether they are subtle or striking? What are you doing to care for yourself and your family this winter?