Winter has finally hit in the northeastern Alleghenies. When I awoke this morning, it was only 8 degrees, but we've still had no snow! Last year at this time, the children had already been out of school for a number of snow days, but we've only seen flurries a couple of times this winter. Perhaps this will be the first winter I won't have to worry about navigating an ice-covered mountain lane. Even without snow and ice, though, winter in an old mountain farmhouse brings special requirements to make it through comfortably. These are probably the items I use the most over the next few months, and without them, winter would be less bearable.
Beginning with the boots in the above photo and moving clockwise:
- L.L. Bean Lambswool Boots. These are the absolute warmest and most comfy boots I have ever worn! While I don't wade through the snow in them (I have Muck boots for that), I do wear them when I am out and about, and even sometimes in the house on especially cold days. I have dressier boots for wearing in the classroom, at church, and out to restaurants and stores. Without a doubt, however, these L.L. Bean boots are the warmest.
- Weis "Country Christmas" Coffee. I'm still trying to drink the last of our holiday specialty coffees in the morning. This has been one of my favorites. The smell of the coffee from the kitchen (that my fantastic husband wakes up first to make) at 5:30 AM is what gets me out of our warm down comforter-covered bed and down those chilly farmhouse stairs when it's still dark outside.
- Sullivan Glove Company Fleece-lined, Deerskin Gloves. I have Reynaud's Syndrome, and if I don't want my fingertips to turn white and then sometimes black along with having numbness and pain, I must keep my hands covered when I am outside in the winter, including while driving. My husband purchased these for me a couple of years ago from this Oregon-based company, and they have worked well. Visit at www.sullivanglove.com.
- Ruff Hewn Ice Traction Shoe Grippers/Cleats. While we haven't had to worry about an ice-covered mountain this year, there have been years that in order to get to and from the barn without sliding and falling, we have needed these traction cleats. Some winters our entire property remains covered in ice and snow until March or April. My husband and 15 year-old son do most of the barn chores now, but every now and then I will use these too, and they are a life saver.
- Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter. I know, I know, I include some version of this stuff every season. I can't help it; it is the richest, creamiest, best smelling cream I've found for dry skin. I put it all over my arms and legs every night to prevent me from having dry, flaky, itchy skin during the winter months.
- Lots of Wool Socks. Our farmhouse was built in 1886, and it is drafty. The entire house has wood floors with a cold, damp, stone-walled basement underneath. If you go barefoot here in the wintertime, your toes feel like ice. The gray "Smart Wool" socks have been with me for almost 17 years and are still going strong. I can't live through January without these.
- Land's End Silk Long Underwear. I've had other brands, but so far Land's End is my favorite, and most definitely the silk. If it's below 10 degrees, it's almost a given that I've got these on.
- (on top of the silk underwear) Lip Balm. I have lip balm stashed all over the place, and I am addicted to it year-round, but it is especially necessary up here during the winter. Right now my two favorites are Penn Brewery Chapstick (a brewery that makes chapstick?), and Honey House Naturals Lip Butter. The lip butter has this awesome honey/citrus fragrance and is wonderful. You can find it at www.honeyhousenaturals.com.
- Starbucks Decaf Caffe' Verona. I actually picked this up by mistake because decaffeinated coffee doesn't cut it here for us in the morning. It turns out I like it though, and it feels really good to drink a good strong cup of steaming hot coffee in the afternoon while helping the children with homework. And it doesn't keep me up at night!
- (in the center) Essie "Attitude" Nail Lacquer. I usually shy away from bright, bold colors of nail polish, but I purchased it on impulse while in the checkout aisle at Kohl's last month and thought it would look great at Christmas. I've decided it kind of perks me up during these long, cold, gray months of winter so I'll probably have red fingernails a lot for awhile.
- (also in the center) Trader Joe's Nourish Oil-free Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer. My skin gets so dry in the winter that I need more than just my morning moisturizer/toner/sunscreen. This moisturizes without feeling heavy or greasy and seems to suit my sensitive skin.
There are plenty of other things I love to have around to get me through my least favorite season, but these eleven are the ones I don't like to do without. Some of them I would keep no matter where we lived, and others are unique for living on a small farm on the side of a mountain in the North. Maybe a few preppy plaid products would be a nice addition and lift my spirits during these days when it's dark at 7 AM and dark again by 5 PM. Any recommendations from you dear readers?