It's mid-January and the only remnant of the holidays in my house are the stray pine needles that keep evading the vacuum, and the new toys my son has strewn around. With the bright bustle of the holiday season gone, it's time to face the fact that we've officially hit the long, gray days of winter here in the PNW (otherwise known as "The Big Dark", ugh). As a California transplant, I tend to have a hard time with January through about April when spring finally starts to shine again up here. The dark days and constant gloom are a mental health hazard for me personally, and each year I end up resenting the enforced indoor time and the need to take a coat and scarf everywhere I go.
This year, I'm trying to be a little more positive about this season. The beauty of it is that in our world where we genuinely have so much instant gratification, seasons are the only things we can't manipulate or manufacture for ourselves. Recognizing that this is the ONLY time of year we get to curl up and feel these cozy feels seems to be the best way I can embrace it. I thought a lot about what genuinely makes me happy and cozy in this season, and realized that so much of what makes staying indoors tolerable this time of year is about making my home and myself as comfortable and as fresh as possible.
1. Clean, fuzzy blankets- The couch is inevitably where I spend a lot of time during the winter. It's where I sit and drink my coffee in the morning, and where I relax at night with Netflix or a book. It's also where my son naps in the afternoons, or we cuddle and read books together. A key component of making the couch a comfortable spot to be is a couple fuzzy blankets that feel fresh. Making myself throw them in the wash every couple days keeps the couch area feeling welcoming instead of grimy.
2. Opening the windows- YES, even when it's 20 degrees outside; if it's sunny, I throw open all the windows in the house for 15 minutes and turn on all the fans to just get a fresh sweep of clean air into the place. Clearing out the stale air makes my house feel so much better, it's worth freezing for a few minutes and cranking the heater for the next hour. I swear the clean air jump starts my brain.
3. Lighting candles- I know this is a no-brainer for most people, even a cliche, but lighting candles in the evening really changes the atmosphere and my mood. I put my favorite seasonal candle on my coffee table and surround it with tea lights to enjoy the flickering, cozy glow while I binge watch Netflix or dive deep into my latest read. I just find it so comforting and cheering.
4. Netflix- Having a great line-up of shows I'm genuinely excited about really helps me not lose my mind in the winter time. Like most of you, I use the majority of my free time to read, but, also like most of you, I really need TV in my life as well. There is some great story telling available in shows lately, and I just soak it up.
5. Cocktails in proper glassware- For nights that I need some TV, making myself nice cocktails in proper glassware is exactly the little luxury I need. Settling down with something that feels decadent really elevates my evening and my mood.
6. Warm, luxurious bathrobe- If it's before 9am or after 8pm, you can bet I'm in pajamas and a bathrobe. Having a really warm, luxurious robe is essential to me. I chose to invest in a great one because I spend so much time in it every day.
7. Fresh flowers- Hitting the farmer's market for a bouquet or designing my own from the wonderfully cheap flowers at Trader Joe's is something I prioritize. Having something pretty and living and green in my home is really soothing and pleasant. I'm going to take Rikki the plant queen on an adventure with me soon to get house plants as well!
8. Seasonal perfume- I change my perfume with the seasons, and having a scent for each one ties my memories of the season to it and helps me welcome the cycle of the changing weather all year long.
9. Hot baths- Wintertime is the only time of year I really appreciate a long hot bath with my favorite locally-made bath truffles and my Kindle! A glass of wine doesn't hurt either, obviously.
10. Nice flannel sheets- Sheets and bedding make a huge difference in my sleep quality and comfort in the winter. I want my bed to be the warmest, softest, most welcoming seat in the house to curl up and read or work on my laptop in the peace of my bedroom.
11. Coffee, coffee, coffee- In the summer, the sunshine-y mornings make it pretty easy to get up and greet the day, but the watery winter sunrises with all their drizzle and chill make it feel impossible to leave my bed. I have my coffee maker on a timer, and knowing really good, fresh, hot coffee is waiting for me downstairs is what gets me out of bed each morning.
12. Cute mugs- To build on that, cute mugs make me so happy. I'm picky about shape, size and handle type when it comes to coffee mugs. First and foremost, it has to fit in my hand perfectly. I tend to favor wide, deep mugs that hold enough coffee that I don't have to get up for more every 5 minutes, but aren't so big that the coffee gets cold while I'm trying to finish it. It's a small detail that really brightens my morning.
13. Leaving the house- When all the inside coziness starts giving me cabin fever, I have a list of activities near me to make it easy to just choose one and leave the house. Also, cute rain boots, a scarf I adore, and soft sweaters make getting dressed and going out in the world way more bearable in the wintertime.
14. Getting up earlier- I know this one is hard for me (though Rikki is a pro morning bird), but getting up earlier in the winter really helps me get more daylight and feel less down through the winter. Sometimes self care is about doing the things you don't necessarily enjoy because they help you in the long run.
What things help you hygge and embrace the winter season? I'd love some more ideas!