I’ll admit it — I usually hate the winter. And not in the way that people hate trivial inconveniences like waiting in line or getting one’s shoes wet. For me, the onset of winter usually elicits a reaction better suited to The End of Days than the changing of seasons. As soon as daylight saving time ends and the hours of daylight begin to dwindle, I find myself reverting to a sloth-like, almost catatonic state of hibernation. With temperatures too frigid for time spent outdoors and central heating making the indoors stuffy and dry, I while away the hours in front of the television, counting down the days until spring. Once the distractions of the holidays are over, it becomes even harder to muster enthusiasm about this dreary time of year.
This year, though, I’m trying to make things different. I’m not sure if it’s because winters seem to be getting shorter, but I’ve found myself actually embracing the winter season. There are two things that I think have helped me reach this watershed winter-loving moment in my life. First, I’m dressing for the weather. I know, shocking, right? But seriously, trading in a thin, under-insulated peacoat for a much warmer (albeit much uglier) down jacket has made so much difference. Scrapping my previously year-round Chuck Taylors for some weather-appropriate boots has helped, too. The one thing that has really helped me to brave the winter months, though, has been my apartment. Turning my apartment into a place I actually want to be in the winter — a winter wonderland palace, if you will — has made embracing the season that much easier. Rather than filling my head with images of far-off spring and summer months, I’ve surrounded myself with things that remind me how beautiful the current season can be. Things that evoke not the cold drudgery of winter but the season’s sleepy, subdued warmth — things like soft blankets, pine-scented candles, cozy socks and spiced teas. Now, I actually want it to be cold out, so I can curl up on my couch with one of my dogs, a warm drink and a knitting project. In the hope that you, too, will learn to embrace this much-maligned time of year, here are a few favorite things that have helped to make my winter more beautiful. — Max
1. Paine’s Balsam Fir Incense, $4.50. These charming little incense sticks are actually made from ground-up bits of fir trees. Perfect if you want to achieve that fireplace smell without the hassle of an actual fireplace.
2. Fishermen’s Wool Yarn by Lionbrand, $12.99. Winter seems to be the perfect season for sitting back with a big knitting project. I’ve been knitting a scarf with this Lionbrand’s “Oak Tweed” Fisherman’s Wool yarn. Lionbrand’s Fishermen’s wool line features combinations of completely un-dyed virgin wool treated with lanolin oil. I love the natural look and the fact that it’s not just one solid color.
3. Anna Heater, $79.99. The fireplace in my apartment is non-functional, so I’ve found that space heaters are the next best thing! Turn on one of these guys on a chilly Sunday morning and relax on your couch with a good book. I love the Anna heater, designed by Matti Walker, because it’s simple and blends into most interiors.
4. HeatTech Socks from Uniqlo, $9.90. Thick knit socks are my go-to footwear in the winter. The only downside is that sometimes the thickness of the knit doesn’t fit inside my shoes! These socks, developed by and sold at Uniqlo, are lightweight but pack the same warmth punch as thicker ones.
5. FoxRiver Fingerless Gloves, $10.99. I picked up a pair of these gloves from Dry Goods in Brooklyn, and I’m totally in love with them! The gloves are thick and warm and have a lovely heathered color. The lack of fingers also means I can use my phone or knit while wearing them!
6. Clive Candle by 2550 Degrees, $38. Grace got me this lovely candle for Christmas, and I think it’s a wonderful winter addition to my apartment. Scented with black tea, tobacco and moss, it’s what Grace jokingly refers to as a “man candle.” But its earthy, spicy scent works great for adding warmth to any home.
7. Tea and Soy Milk. A grad-school friend of mine first introduced me to the rather strange act of adding soy milk to tea. I was a little taken aback at first but was curious. Once I tried it, I immediately saw the appeal. Soy milk, which I’ve often found to be creamier than regular milk, adds a wonderful richness to everything from chamomile to English Breakfast. This winter, I’ve been mixing my soy milk with Yogi’s India Spice herbal tea and Bellocq’s Afghani Chai.
8. Hemp Hand Protector from The Body Shop, $20. Winter weather can really dry out my skin, so I always look for heavy-duty moisturizers this time of year. I’ve been a diehard advocate of this intensive cream from The Body Shop for ages. I don’t know what they put in it (unicorn tears, maybe?), but after a night of wearing this with some moisturizing gloves, dry and chapped hands are suddenly silky smooth.