Amy Artisan

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Category: Wintertime (page 1 of 2)

Saving Winter…2018

It’s time once again to check in on the things – big and small – that are saving winter for me as the season progresses.  Today is the halfway mark on this winter season. Some years, these items seem more necessary than others because of what the winter holds. This year, so far, the winter weather hasn’t been too bad – timehop helps keep the season in perspective when it shows me my posts about extreme temps and/or snow.

In no particular order, here are the highlights that are helping this winter for me:

  • A morning cuppa: COFFEE – Instead of making my coffee “to go” each morning, I’m enjoying my coffee at home while getting ready each morning – favorite pottery mugs + a scoop of collagen (& maybe a splash of hazelnut nutpods creamer) is bringing some tranquility to each morning.
  • An evening cuppa: TEA – Most evenings include another pottery mug, this time filled with a soothing decaf tea to help the day unwind. Tazo Sweet Orange is one of my long time favorites (ever since it was a nightly pickup from Starbucks while heading back to the hotel on a project in 2006). Some nights are a bit minty with a Candy Cane Lane green decaf. And a new  tea in the rotation is the Tazo Glazed Lemon Loaf – it needs no sweetening to provide a  dessert-like experience that indeed does taste like a slice of lemon loaf cake with vanilla frosting.
  • Lights on the mantel – The lighted garland that was pulled out for simple Christmas decor is remaining on the mantel for the time being to provide a warm glow (and hygge) in the evening.
  • Amaryllis bulbs – As I’ve already shared, Amaryllis Watch 2018 has been fun…there is something special about seeing blooms emerge in the stark winter days.
  • Cutie Clementines – A sweet spot of sunshine for snacking at work during the week. And wrapping up this most recent Whole30 reset, these cuties taste even sweeter.
  • Weekly food prep – Spending a bit of time on the weekends making up some key components (roasted veggies and meats) and sometimes complete entrees means that tasty meals quickly come together during the week. My Instagram feed shows that skillet suppers are a frequent occurrence around here.
  • A luxurious cleansing balm & the ritual of cleansing my face – Since picking up the deMamiel Altitude Oil last fall I’ve since started using their Restorative Cleansing Balm. I’ve turned it into a bit of a spa ritual – when I turn on my shower, I then massage the balm into my face before stepping into the shower. As I wash my hair, the balm “does its thing” on my face – then I hold a steamy washcloth over my face for a minute before wiping off the balm.
  • An “old fashion” foot warmer – My “preparing for bed” routine feels like it has a bit of Little House on the Prairie in it now – I ordered a fleece covered, rice-filled heating wrap to start the year and nightly I warm it up & then slip it between the sheets at the foot of my bed.
  • A cozy house sweater – I picked up this “clay red” color sweater on sale from Life is Good and wow, it is the perfect top layer for around the house. It’s not a color normally in my wardrobe – but the mismatch is outmatched by the comfort factor. It is so soft (even after a trip through the washer/dryer) – the sleeves are extra long – the waterfall front make it easy to wrap up in it.
  • Moisturizing every time I wash my hands at home – Nights, weekends, snow days…I’ve established a habit of putting on a bit of facial moisturizer every time I’m washing my hands at my bathroom sink. (And of course, slathering hands in lotion, too.)
  • Citrus and evergreen oils in the diffuser – More often than not, my living room diffuser has some combination of citrus (tangerine, orange, lemon) and/or evergreen (cypress, siberian fir) essential oils. Sometimes, also a drop of cinnamon or cardamom.

What things, big or small, are saving your winter days?

(Here are insights into previous winter helps: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

On this midpoint of winter, once again prompted to share these winter saviors by Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Saving Winter…Travel

Once again, as we reach the midpoint of winter, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is inviting us to share what is saving us this winter – the big or small things that help to pull us through what can be a dark season in myriad ways. In past years, I’ve focused on things at home that were winter saviors. This year, I’m focusing on helpful things for winter travel – January ended up with me being in Milwaukee for part or all of 4 different weeks and I just returned from being on the road for the 5th week in a row.

Human Gear travel containers – Well designed containers that allow me to bring my preferred products with me on the road. The GoToob squeeze bottles are great for my shampoo & conditioner…AND…I use one for a purse/bag container of my fave Ahava Mineral Hand Cream; The GoTubb pots are good for both pills and creams – one has a dab of my preferred hair styling cream to try to battle against the brutal dry forced air, one has a dab of moisturizer – neither leaks.

Chapstick Total Hydration in Merlot – My current go-to lip color combines a nice dark color with all the benefits of lip balm. This is always in the outer pocket of my purse or my coat pocket.

Travel Diffuser – A thoughtful Christmas gift from my sister is this small diffuser that allows me bring some calm to my hotel room (or car for a road trip). So far, I’ve just traveled with eucalyptus oil – in the evenings when I have this going, it is indeed euc-AHH-lytpus as I unwind with a book and some tea (either decaf candy cane green or Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland) in the hotel room.

Panera Pick Two for Dinner – Their current Roasted Beet, Quinoa & Citrus Salad paired with tomato soup has been a frequent dinner option while on the road. The Panera app makes it easy to pick up healthy eats as I head back to the hotel. Most evenings, I also pick up a Plum Ginger iced tea to round out the meal. Bonus: One evening when I discovered an order was wrong when I got to the hotel, Panera Twitter customer service made it right almost immediately.

Duluth Trading Quilted Ear Flap Hat – A fun new hat is hitting all the marks for the weather I’m encountering. This soft hat packs easily into my bag without me worrying about bending it permanently. The microfiber outside repels moisture – be it rain, snow, ice. The brim can adjust to shield my glasses from whatever is falling from the sky. The ear band can be flipped down to provide extra warmth.

Airport Art – This felted sculpture by Heidi Bleacher is currently installed near my gates at the PHL airport. I smile every time I see it – sunflowers and ladybugs, definitely a win!

Window Seat Views – In the last year I’ve moved from the aisle seat to the window seat on whatever flights I can. At this time of year, the window seat views are a great reminder that no matter the weather down at the ground the sun is indeed always shining.

What are the big and small things saving you this winter?


The calendar reads more than a week into April. And yet, on Saturday the weather looked more winter than spring. After an intense work week, I decided step back from plans for errands and other running around and enjoy a quasi-snow day.

Snow Read

With the snow starting to fall, I made a pot of mint tea and settled in with a book on the Kindle. The read – The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – a book that has been on my list to read for a while – a book that I snapped up on a Kindle deal a few weeks ago & decided would be an April read – a book set in the Italy of springtime. Throughout the day, I was swept away to lush gardens and gentle breezes and views of sea, even as the view out my window turned whiter and whiter.

Simple Lunch

In early afternoon, I took a quick reading break to pull together a simple, healthy & seemingly indulgent lunch: Citrus Roasted Shrimp & Asparagus with a Curry Aioli. (Bonus: leftovers for lunch this week!)


Throughout the day, I would read for a bit and then “adult” for a bit – some laundry was tackled, my shower got a spring cleaning and I started a long overdue pantry/cabinet refresh.

Italian Supper

The snow stopped falling before dinnertime. After spending my day “in Italy” of course my Saturday supper would have an Italian flavor to it. I tweaked this recipe into Florentine Meat Pie using what I had on hand and it is a winner.


For the evening, I caught up with my PBS Masterpiece/Mystery shows while knitting. More mint tea was enjoyed along with these tasty Almond Joy No Bake cookies that I whipped up mid afternoon.

As I crawled into bed last night, I marveled at the R&R that occurred on this unexpected snow day. While it was not a Hunker Down day, it was nice to be able to choose to just stay home and recharge when nature decided that we needed to see a few more snowflakes this season.


Saving Winter

As the calendar turned to February, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy issued a “challenge” to share what is saving us this winter – big or small things that are helping to pull us through what can be a dark season in many ways for some.

Snow returns...

Snow returns…

Knock on the wood of my end table as I type this, winter really hasn’t been too bad this year. Yes, there was “that one” weekend of the blizzard and about 24″ of snow. And another bit of snow is doing it’s thing today and into tomorrow. Compared to some recent winters, I don’t feel I’m in as dire straights of needing spring to emerge; however, at this point in winter it makes sense to take a couple of moments to reflect on what are the things “saving” me this winter. Beyond my staples (coffee & tea in pottery mugs, candles, the fireplace) and January currents, these are a few of my winter lifesavers.

A cozy new addition to the bedside

A cozy new addition to the bedside

A new bedside rug – Mom knit this heart from the softest cushion of yarn. Stepping on it as I get in & out of bed each day is a wonderful bit of love from home.

Ahava Mineral Hand Cream – this is a “spark joy” item for us all – over the summer, Rebecca & Mom & I agreed that this was our favorite hand lotion & that we wouldn’t buy cheaper lotions anymore that left us dissatisfied. There is a bit of magic as a dab of this thick and rich lotion is absorbed into your hands – they really do feel better right away. Yes, it’s more expensive than most hand lotions; however, the 20% coupons from Ulta are frequently used to add to the stash.

Coloring fun

Coloring fun

Time spent coloring – As I previously mentioned, coloring books and fine tips Sharpies from under the Christmas tree are being put to use. The bright colors of my pictures definitely provide a pop of cheer. I keep these right by my chair in the living room and find I’m often reaching for them while watching TV.

A gorgeous sunset descending into Philly after a great family getaway!

A gorgeous sunset descending into Philly after a great family getaway!

Winter travel plans – Even as the calendar turned to 2016, I already had 3 fun trips on the calendar for February and March. Florida with the family to start February. Ending February with the WI family. A long overdue trip to see my Texas girlies in early March. No matter the weather at the locations, these trips are sunshine on the calendar pages.

As the days continue to lengthen and winter continues to march on, what are the items that are saving the your life? 


Hunkered Down

Just a week ago, the local meteorologists started to mention that a weekend storm might be on the horizon with the potential to be big. As the week progressed, it became evident that we were going to be in for a definite snow storm of substance. News outlets and municipal officials began to warn everyone to be prepared…grocery stores were busy & shelves were emptying – both for the french toast trifecta (bread, milk, eggs) & other things (when I picked up a few needed items on Thursday, my grocery store had experienced a run on ground beef & ground turkey). Winter storm watches were posted…then upgraded to warnings…then converted to blizzard watches…then converted to blizzard warnings. Roads were brined. On Friday the forecast indicated that the snow would arrive earlier in the evening than originally thought and collectively the area came home from school and work and prepared to hunker down and wait out this storm.

As the week progressed, I was looking forward to the snow day. I checked my ready kit (really must finish up the draft I have on that)…on Wednesday evening I made a broad menu plan for the week & a small list of groceries to pick up on Thursday…I made sure the car had a full tank of gas (even with no plans to drive during the storm)…I charged my Kindle full for hours and hours of reading…and I declared that Saturday would be a fun snow day – housework could wait till Sunday.

Manny the patio manatee, early in the storm...

Manny the patio manatee, early in the storm…quickly he wasn’t helpful in charting the snow progress

Friday evening, the snow started to fall. As I went to bed, I wondered what the views would be when I awoke in the morning.

Saturday morning, I was awakened early (5:30!) by the sound of the maintenance crew plowing – a little after 6:00 I got out of bed and started my snow day. The french press was “fired up” and tasty coffee filled a favorite mug. The fireplace was turned on. The blinds were opened on the patio doors. I snapped a few pictures to chart storm progress and settled in for the day.

Morning View

Morning Views – patio door – front courtyard – couch

I had plenty of books (in paper and on Kindle) and started to read. I kept the local news coverage on TV, mostly on mute. Some favorite tunes rotated through my wireless speaker. Several crafting options sat untouched as I just read. Every so often, I’d look out the patio door and the front door and capture continued snow progress. At lunchtime, I heated up some soup. Mid afternoon, the snow definitely increased a bit & the local weather was showing my area fully in a band of snow that was “stuck” & bringing lots of snow each hour. More pictures were captured.

I had a bit of cooking planned for the snow day. For supper, I tried out a new to me pizza crust recipe from THM and made a tasty thin crust pizza with herbed tomato sauce, spinach, turkey pepperoni, baby bellas & 4 cheese blend. I think the suggested parchment paper would have made the crust crispier – but it was a good meal that I will make again.

Snow Day Cake

As a sweet treat for the week ahead (& since I had zucchini that needed to be used up) I decided to make the Chocolate Zucchini Cake from the THM cookbook. I added a bit of cinnamon to the cake batter & cobbled together a Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting inspired by a couple of THM recipes.

Evening entertainment included “finally” watching something from my DVR and FaceTime with the WI family (including a tour of the snow). The chocolate cake was a tasty way to end the evening. As the evening wound down and I headed to bed, the snow was tapering off and moving away.

Evening views - patio door - front courtyard - couch

Evening views – patio door – front courtyard – couch

Sunday dawned bright and dry. The sky was brilliant blue. The sun was blinding. The powdery snow sparkled like diamonds. Mid morning I bundled up to head outside & see what I needed to do to clear around my car – thankfully the maintenance crew was moving the snow from behind the cars in the carport as well as helping dig out other cars. The sidewalks were plowed and salted so I walked around a bit.

Sunday scenes

Sunday scenes

After my low key Saturday, Sunday was filled with some housework and some food prep for the week ahead. By the time the sun set in the late afternoon, the snow on the patio had diminished a bit.

This morning, all schools in the area were closed and the roads were cleared and deserted on the short drive to work. I was definitely in the minority of folks in the office today. Throughout today, the maintenance crew has continued to deal with the snow piles here – currently I hear the “beep…beep…beep” of the bobcats and front loaders scooping up snow and moving it to lawn areas.

In all my years of living in snow zones, this was the largest single event snowfall that I’ve been in and I was so thankful that I was able to enjoy it from behind the patio door and in front of the fireplace.

If you were in the path of this storm, what did your “hunker down” weekend look like? What are your favorite things about a snow day?

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