Comfort Tips For Cold Winter Nights (January, 2013)

photo socksIt’s cold outside. Sometimes it’s cold inside. Most of us turn our thermostats down while we sleep and pity the first ones out of bed in the morning. There is nothing worse than a cold toilet seat in the morning! Of course I wear my cozy KN pajamas to bed at night. Yup, got a new pair for Christmas. And I keep my socks on when I crawl into bed at night. (I just read that we sleep better with socks on.) I pull my down comforter up to my chin and feel like I’m in my cocoon for the night. That all works great, but what about the couple of hours at night before bedtime? Whether you are sitting in front of the TV or reading to your kids, we need an extra layer. Sometimes it’s as easy as wrapping a shawl or just a scarf around our neck. A very cute and fashionable solution for staying warm. Some of you might have a favorite cozy bathrobe and others may favor your husband’s old flannel shirt. I’ve been wearing a Polar Bear inspired popover. The kind that adds 20 lbs. to your silhouette, but you don’t care cuz it feels so good.

Let me know what you have been doing to stay warm, cozy and comfortable. Send me a email or post on Facebook, and help me design next winter’s solution to Mr. Snow Miser.

Creating Comfort with Holiday Traditions (December, 2012) In the late 1970′s I made a major directional shift and uprooted myself and my 9 year old daughter from Duluth,Mn. to the San Francisco Bay Area. A new location, new husband and new life.

Being the 13th of 13 children, my daughter and I were used to big family holidays and multi generational traditions. It seemed important to find new traditions in order to re-create that special feeling that comes with the holidays. While I was searching for these new traditions I was also a modern working mother, and wife. So I looked for simplicity, as well warm, memorable, and heartfelt. Big order. Here are some of the traditions we started, and built upon over the years.

Skip Day. The first, best and most popular has been “Skip Day.” After clearing it with their teach of course, I would wake up my girls to announce, “It’s Skip Day”!. Close to the holidays we would take a day off from school and work and enjoy a girls day in the City to awe at the Christmas decorations, buy one well discussed tree ornament, put Christmas corsages on our wool coats and have a special over the top lunch. It also gave us a chance to develop our wish lists and sit on Santa’s lap. Yes….even me.

Christmas cookies. I admit that some years I bought the pre-made cookie dough, but that’s just as much fun to decorate. Other years we made the dough from scratch and ate a lot of it before even forming the cookies. Not recommended by the FDA.

Wrapping Night. Because I was a working Mom, I created a sneaky way to get the wrapping done and make a fun tradition out of it. With plenty of pizza to last, I set up an assembly line to box, tape, wrap and ribbon all the to-be-sent and under the tree presents. Except the Santa gifts. No one wrapped their own, and we were all sworn to secrecy. In the early years I was re-wrapping quite a few, but as the girls got older the wrapping became more competitive and elaborate. It was always a fun night.

Christmas Eve is always the night of biggest celebration. This is when we throw an open house for friends, family and the extended family that has grown over the years. At the end of the evening everyone gets their new pajamas to look perfect for Christmas morning pictures. For anyone stopping by on Christmas Day, they know we will all still be in our pjs and the leftovers will be on the kitchen counter.

New Years Eve Day and the bowl games is my signal to take down the tree and wrap up all the holiday trimmings. In order to hang on to the holiday spirit just a few days longer I put a large bowl of the pine needles on the coffee table. Just one whiff and it’s Christmas again.

Now that I live in Sonoma, I have a couple of new traditions that feel appropriate. My Christmas tree now lives in my yard in an oversized green pot most of the year. For Thanksgiving I move it to the deck in front of our large window and put the lights on. I’ve always pre-decorated for what my storage boxes say “Early Christmas”, which in reality is Thanksgiving. The tree shining thru the window is just so festive. Gradually over the next few weeks I add more holiday accessories and finally bring the tree into the living room 1 week before Christmas Eve. It’s then we have Tree Trimming night and add all the treasured ornaments collected from decades of “Skip Days”. Always producing many memories and a few tears.

(It’s Not All In Your Head)

Being comfortable in our own skin may be the most important, but most challenging thing to achieve. It’s an attitude and state of mind that often comes with time. Oh how I wish I would have known at 20 what I knew at 35 or 55. But do I really? While I strongly encourage you to continue to search for your own emotional comfort, I hope to provide an occasional easy idea to help you recharge with some simple physical comforts.

The first tip is to discipline yourself to take daily “Me time”. Not the full day off (which we can always hope for), but rather just a few self-imposed breaks during the day. A personal “time out”. What makes YOU happy or feeds your passions? Here are a few ideas, but “Me time” is personal, so its most important to find yours.

  • An early morning walk through the garden with your first cup of coffee.
  • A tea break with a special brew in a special cup that’s just for you.
  • Stepping outside for 10 deep chest expanding breaths.
  • A walk around the block, preferably with trees.
  • Five minutes with your bio foam roller. (It does make you feel better afterward).
  • Review a favorite cooking magazine, While cherishing a small piece of dark chocolate.
  • Take time to put fresh lemon or cucumber in a tall glass of water and take 5 minutes to drink it.
  • A phone call with a close friend, especially one who makes you laugh. (Text or emails are not quite the same).

Special breaks during the day make us feel like we’re thriving, rather than just moving thru our day. “Me time” provides some sense of control, and keeps us from being crabby, being a martyr, or as my Grandmother said, a “sour puss”.

Keep checking in for more big and small COMFORT TIPS.