Here in Virginia, we’re in that bit of the year where the winter seems to drag on and on. And it’s not because it’s freezing cold every day, but because every two weeks there’s a gloriously sunny 65 degree Saturday that makes you think it might all be over. February is tricky to navigate, and impossible to dress for.
This winter, though, I’ve really been trying to embrace the cold as much as I can. To think COZY thoughts when it’s grey and dark and all my plants are dropping leaves. I think I’ve done pretty well, and have discovered new things that I didn’t know I would love. While it’s still good and cold, I’d like to share 5 things I’ve incorporated to my winter day-to-day. Naturally, I’ll start with breakfast…
THE BEST OATMEAL
This is basically my go-to oatmeal for mornings when I’m craving something sweet and satisfying. It really is like having a hug for breakfast, and it’s super easy and quick. You can also customize the flavors to whatever you’re feeling like that day.
The key, I think, is adding the sliced banana to the oats while they’re cooking, which results in this sort of caramelized banana goodness running all through the finished oatmeal. There’s really no need to sweeten it further if you’ve got a ripe banana.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: serves 1
For the oat mix:
-½ c old fashioned or steel cut oats
-2 tbsp raw shredded or flaked coconut
-½ tsp chia seeds
-½ tsp flax seeds
-½ tsp ground cinnamon
-dash of salt
-1 c almond milk
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-½ ripe banana, sliced
-Berries or fruit of choice
-chopped almonds or pecans
-nut butter of choice (I've been using my homemade almond butter)
-honey or maple syrup
-chopped dark chocolate if you’re feelin it
HERE WE GO:
Combine all the oat mix ingredients together in a bowl and set to the side.
Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan over high heat until it starts to boil. While it’s heating up, add the vanilla extract.
Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce to medium heat and add the oat mixture. Stir for about 1 minute and add the sliced banana. Keep stirring every now and then, just to make sure it’s not burning on the bottom as the oats absorb the liquid, about 5 minutes total. Pour oatmeal into a bowl and top with yummy things.
**note: I like my oatmeal a little more runny, but you can keep it on the stove until it’s the consistency you like. But also remember that the chia and flax seeds will absorb more liquid and it will continue to set as it cools.**
My winter outerwear collection is a little all over the place, but then so is the weather. I’ve got to stay prepared, sometimes even switching during the day when it’s dropped 30 degrees for no reason. One piece, though, has become a quick favorite of mine this season: the poncho. More specifically, this big grey poncho that I found for a few bucks at a thrift store (the tag says it’s from ACE Fashions). It’s fleecy and fringey and actually has short little sleeves on the side. They provide a bit more shape so I don’t feel like Pacha. It feels like I’m wearing a literal blanket and makes outdoor walks more comforting.
Maybe you’re not a poncho sort of person, so I’d recommend a soft knitted scarf or fur-lined gloves, anything you can add to your outerwear that makes things just a little bit softer, more nurturing in a way. It’s done much for me in this cold.
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW
I don't know why it took me so long to finally watch this show, but just do yourself a favor and watch a season (There are 7 on Netflix). It's lovely, heartfelt, informative, and ideal with a cup of tea.
If you know me, you already know that I love a good picnic. But what are we to do when it’s too cold to go outside? My solution: the greenhouse. The local botanical garden has a tropical greenhouse that has to remain temperature controlled year round, and it’s also generally empty of people. A couple times this winter I’ve packed a picnic and shared it with a loved one amidst the huge palms, monsteras, orchids, bromeliads, and birds of paradise (in full bloom).
For a few hours, I don’t have to actively think cozy thoughts, I can just kick my shoes off and escape to a warmer place. It’s a beautiful, refreshing little respite, and I’m going to do it probably every winter forever.
I know, weird. It might not be the kind of music you associate with grey winter afternoons, but the combination of soft Brazilian beats with Portuguese lyrics and that groovy syncopation that just does it for me. It adds a little lightness to the day, a warmth in the stasis of winter. I’ve made a playlist of my current favorites, some bossa jazz, some light samba. Why not give it a try? It might add a little spice as the season draws to a close.
We only have a few more weeks of winter ahead, but those are sometimes the most challenging. I hope you all find a bit of coziness, a little space for new life. I’ll be busy cheering on the daffodils from the sidelines. We’re almost there!
Until spring, jazz on.