Will and I just returned from Scotland, which was magical, blustery, and cold. (We spent a few days in Wigtown and then drove up to Edinburgh. I’ve shared about it on Instagram, and will tell you more here on the blog soon.)
I noticed how that thanks to the windy weather, and the fact that it got dark before 4:00 p.m., I was especially appreciative of little creature comforts—hot drinks, good books, warm toes.
Will and I had one experience in Edinburgh that threw this into sharp relief. We rolled into town mid-afternoon, in the freezing rain. After a lovely lunch (cozy), we headed out into the rain to explore (delightful, but emphatically not cozy). After an hour of walking, we decided to visit a specific coffee shop to warm up—but it was a substantial walk away. Our walk there was beautiful but the misery index was on the high end, because we were frozen. (I kept pulling off my gloves to take photos! Great for memories, but terrible in the moment.)
But then we arrived at our destination—a snug, warm café that seemed to stock all of my favorite things, from the Keep Cup to the Monstera plant. The baristas were welcoming, the mood was enticing, the coffee was delicious (and my mug doubled as a hand-warmer). Once we were inside, we no longer cared about our frozen walk.
Not all of you are in cold and dreary climes right now (wave hello in comments and remind us what warmth and sunshine feel like?) but I know I’m not alone in the land of blustery and cold, so today I’m sharing 9 of my cozy winter favorite things.
1. Drinks on the go.
Keep Cup. Will and I stumbled upon this unusual travel “mug” at a Southern coffee shop this summer and instantly fell in love. I didn’t used to use travel mugs much, because my old mugs would quickly take on the smell (and worse, the taste!) of whatever’s been in it, no matter how carefully I wash it. The Keep Cup is glass, which makes it easy to wash, and it doesn’t retain that coffee smell or taste. I’ve had mine for years now and it’s still working great.
I also love my Drink Tank, which I stole out of my husband’s Cairn box. I started using it for cinnamon tea (I love Harney & Sons hot cinnamon spice), and now it smells so strongly of cinnamon that I don’t use it for anything else. But that’s okay, because in cold weather I am more than happy with the cinnamon. My friend Leigh got me hooked on this fantastic tea, which tastes like my favorite wintry things—cinnamon, cloves, and orange, with a hint of sweetness. I stockpile the decaf when they have it in stock at Harney & Sons; I’m also quite fond of their Paris blend.
2. More tea.
At my house we’re also loving the Red Refresh herbal blend from Trader Joe’s, an inexpensive, beautiful pink tea with just the right amount of zing.
3. More coziness.
I packed light for Scotland, and I seriously underestimated the wind chill, which means I was sometimes wearing two sweaters at once (plus underlayers, plus a huge scarf). I don’t know why this was surprising, because I do the same thing at home. Most days I’m wrapping up in a cozy cardigan, on top of whatever I got dressed in that morning. And my favorite impulse buy of recent memory is a huge plaid poncho (or cape, perhaps?) from Anthropologie (similar to this one). It’s warm, it’s pretty, and it doubles as a blanket, whether I’m on an airplane or reading in bed.
When we were in Scotland we noticed that people took their cozy comfort seriously. One of my favorite things at our Wigtown guesthouse was the hot water bottle they left for us in our simple room. I haven’t used one at home in the past, but I think I might start. (Here’s a basic hot water bottle, and this cover is particularly adorable.)
4. Good smells.
I’ve been lighting the candles, filling up the diffuser, and putting a homemade pot of smells on the stove every single day. It makes such a difference in atmosphere (and I like to tell myself that two of these three do a tiny bit to combat our super-dry winter air).
I also remembered just in time to grab some paperwhite bulbs for our kitchen. My mom has been growing these in the winter months for as long as I can remember. If you’re interested, here’s how to do it. I like to plant mine in pebbles or small marbles.
5. Dry skin stuff.
My sister-in-law is a self-described Kiehl’s junkie, and a few years ago she got me hooked on their Ultra Facial Cream. I have sensitive skin, and I was skeptical, but I love it. Those jars aren’t cheap but I find they last forever. (I typically buy the 4.2 ounce size.)
I also rely on Aquaphor this time of year. The air is so dry my kids and I suffer from brutal dry skin—but only when we forget to slather this on at night. This stuff is drugstore magic.
6. Jigsaw puzzles.
Earlier this month I woke up on a Sunday, sat down with a cup of coffee, and didn’t get up until I finished this small 100-piece puzzle. It was divine. (My little puzzle came from Page One Books—thanks, Brandy!)
We also played a ton of games in Scotland, which are similarly soothing to my brain. This word game was a favorite.
When I’m deciding what to read next, the question of paperback vs hardcover rarely enters my mind. But lately, I’ve found myself choosing paperbacks for paperbacks’ sake. Am I the only one who thinks they’re easier to cuddle up with on chilly evenings?
8. Cozy boots made for walking.
I have somehow gone years without owning cold-weather walking shoes, and needed some for Scotland. (I usually just wear my Tieks when I travel, but the forecast of chilly rain ruled that out.) My feet are huge, which makes shoes tricky. I ordered a few pairs of boots online, prioritizing the stylish over the more suitable—including these adorable booties that were way too small for my big feet—and struck out.
Hearing my tale of shoe-shopping woe, a friend enthusiastically recommended this brand, and suggested I visit my local outdoors shop to try them on in person. I came home with these boots, which were a little snug width-wise, but they assured me they’d stretch. They did, and they were perfect, both for our trip and regular cold-weather dog-walking back home.
My boots look like hiking boots. One of our travel companions also had Blundstones, but she’d chosen these pretty Chelsea boots from their dress series.
9. The Sound of Music.
We just watched this a few weeks ago, for the first time in ages, so now we’re all walking around the house singing like Maria (or Liesl, to be honest). That photo above is from Edinburgh’s Salisbury Crags—doesn’t it just make you want to sing like Maria in the Alps? This is the musical at my kids’ school this spring, so I’m sure I have lots of Sound of Music in my near future. (Ask me again in April if it’s still a favorite?)
The Sound of Music is a fitting way to wrap up a favorite things list: what are YOUR favorite things for a cozy winter? I’d love to hear all about them in comments.