Late Winter Self-Care

The tail end of winter is the worst. I may be free from the iced-over car and rock-hard, dirty snow piles now that we’re back in California, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it’s like. And no matter where you are, this time of year (with its still-short days and iffy weather) doesn’t always make it easy to maintain a positive attitude. Or get out of a warm bed.

I’ve been compiling a mental list of all of the things, big and small, that feel like good self-care, especially at this time of year.

Here are 6 things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

Yoga with Adriene

1. Yoga with Adriene is good for what ails you

I love doing yoga, but rarely make it to an actual class. It can feel like too much effort, especially when it’s pouring rain and my day feels especially packed. I’ve recently discovered Yoga with Adriene, a delightful online yoga instructor. I’ve been doing her 10 minute yoga quickie for neck, shoulders and upper back daily and it feels so good. And her 12 minute wind down yoga is perfect before bed. Total bonus that her dog co-stars in all of her videos :-)

2. Family date nights at the pub can feel like real dates (almost)

On a cold, stormy night with no babysitting in sight we decided to make the most of things and go on a “family date”. We grabbed a game (Exploding Kittens is big in our house right now) and headed to our favorite pub. It’s a family-friendly place stocked with their own board games, a small menu and grown-up drinks for those who choose to partake. We came away feeling like we got our night out, plus a family game night.

3. You totally deserve a treat for your face

I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to skin care and beauty: I prefer a quick, simple routine with minimal products. That said, in winter it feels really good to splurge on a little treat (or two or three) and take those extra few minutes in the shower to feel like a real person with soft, lovely skin. In case you’re curious, here are a few products I’ve tried and loved: this vitamin C serum (a few drops will do you); Melissa day cream; and this brightening facial scrub.

Late Winter Self-Care

4. Trip planning in winter is the best

Here’s why you should totally do this:

  • Anticipating a trip can actually boost your happiness.

  • The most popular campsites, hotels and Airbnbs get booked way in advance — now you can be one of those people who plans ahead! (Case in point: we recently snagged a coveted spot at this lake-side Lake Tahoe campground, which you need to do months in advance.)

  • You get to browse photos of gorgeous places and daydream all sorts of fun possibilities.

  • You don’t even have to plan a Big Trip to make this work. This year we made a commitment to do more super-quick weekend getaways just for fun. You might be surprised at how many interesting little trips you can come up with not far from home.

5. KonMari folding is strangely relaxing

I’m not sure why, but for a long time I was resistant to trying the KonMari method of folding (aka “filing”) clothes into neat little packets.

You guys, I don’t know why I waited so long! Once you get the hang of it, it really doesn’t take any more time than folding the usual way (aka messily) and being able to actually see everything in your drawer at a glance is a total game-changer. But what I really wasn’t expecting is how the process of folding the KonMari way makes me feel all Zen. Curious? Watch Marie Kondo fold clothes above (the folding starts at about 1:50) and then give it a try.

6. Audiobooks paired with a paper copy help get us out the door (and back home again)

For Christmas, I bought my son copies of the first three Percy Jackson books, thinking he’d love them. Long story short, he does love them, but felt they were a little too scary to read right before bed. To bridge the gap, I picked up the audio version at our local library so we could listen in the car. This had a wonderfully unexpected consequence: since we now have both versions, I’m finding it helps propel my son out the door in the morning and makes long car rides a treat for everyone. Because he just can’t wait to get back to the story. (We’re still not reading it right before bed, though!)

xx Laura

The Magic Of A Creative Retreat

I first heard about Squam Art Workshops way back in 2009. I had recently started my (old) blog and Holly wrote about this magical retreat where women were gathering — there were photos of cabins huddled around a New Hampshire lake, and founder Elizabeth Duvivier described the accommodations as being like "champagne in a tin cup." Perfect.

Squam Art Workshops — Elizabeth Duvivier

Flash forward a few years, and I happened to meet Elizabeth at a party at our mutual friend Christine's house, and I found out she lived in the same neighborhood! Small world indeed. But still, I didn't get it together to go to Squam.

Squam Art Workshops

I always keep an eye out for the workshop lineup — many of my favorite makers (like Ann Wood) and creatives have taught there over the years — and I gulp down recap posts after the events like manna. Yet I've never made it to the retreat.

Squam Art Workshops — Women on the porch

It's a big commitment, both of time away from family (not always easy to justify when children are small) and money (same). But perhaps even more than that, it's a declaration of creative freedom. It's this thing that you get to go and do, just because you want to. And doesn't that seem like the ultimate luxury — doing something with the sole purpose of nourishing your creative soul?

Squam Art Workshops — Squam Lake

The gatherings are now being coordinated by Meg Fussell, and they look as lovely as ever. In fact, the fall retreat is happening soon, and the combination of a New England fall and that much creative energy focused in one spot has me pining for this singular experience more than ever.

Squam Art Workshops — Participants in the woods

I know that other creative retreats exist, some in far-flung and exotic places, but my heart seems to live in the woods, so Squam feels like the place for me. Maybe one of these days I'll make it there ... maybe you'll be there, too. 

Learn more about Squam Art Workshops →

photos: Amy Gretchen for Squam Art Workshops, used with permission