Tag Archives: winter

Winter Survival

Last week I wrote about how to stay moisturized in dry, freezing weather, but keeping in moisture is just one small part of winter survival. As the harshest of seasons, winter wreaks havoc with our bodies, our hair, and our emotions. As much as I’d love to break out the floral prints and pastels, we still have quite a bit of winter to get through, so here’s a few things that I’ve found help me make it through until the trees bud again.

Lush Lip Scrub

One of my absolute new favorite things is a product I didn’t even know I needed until my sister was nice enough to gift it to me. Balm will only help so much when you have flaky, cracked, winter lips, but this stuff will scrub and smooth, plus it’s so delicious (and all natural) you’ll want to eat the whole tub!

Static Guard

I’ve always had trouble with static-y hair in the winter, I’ve tried a bunch of different products, but I always end up returning to regular old Static Guard—it doesn’t smell great, but spray a little on your hair brush and you’ll zap way more static than most of the fancy hair products ever do.

A Puffy-Coat

I know there are people who don’t want to sacrifice fashion for warmth, or who don’t enjoy feeling like they’re wearing a sleeping bag, but after many years of wearing wool coats over layers upon layer, my first down coat felt like warm, fluffy, lightweight heaven. You can catch great sales on these babies this time of year, and you’ll definitely be thankful for your investment for many winters to come.

Wool Socks

Like the puffy-coat, the wool sock (though certainly not high-fashion) is an essential for winter warmth. Nothing feels worse than cold toes on a freezing day, especially when there is such an easy solution.

Netflix Subscription

I’ve never been more grateful for my Netflix subscription as on days when there is more than a foot of snow outside. If your car is buried, or your street hasn’t been plowed, having a good movie to watch can be your saving grace—and if you can stream it to your television, you won’t even care that you can’t leave your house!

What are you guys doing to survive the Winter?


Filed under shopping

Fight Winter Dryness

It’s Groundhog Day, and despite what that rodent in Pennsylvania says, I think we still whole lot of winter ahead of us (I know the little guy didn’t see his shadow, but have you seen it outside?). Aside from the freezing weather and the mounds of snow and ice which have moved in for good, dry skin is one of the most irritating parts of this season. Unfortunately we can’t control the weather, but we can control the dryness of our skin, amen for that.

Winter is bad enough without dealing with flaking, cracking, chapped skin. Magazines make a big deal about changing your routine, but I’ve always found that doing the same thing—and often doing less, is what helps skin stay healthy. Too bad the harsh weather and the dry air can change the way skin and hair feel, which means sometimes a change is necessary. Here are the products I find keep skin feeling like June even in the midst of bitter February.

Herbal Works Moisturizing Salt Scrubs

The shower is the best place to trap much-needed moisture on your skin—you’ll also avoid constantly slicking on goopy moisturizers later on. I’m obsessed with this scrub my mom gave me for Christmas from Herbal Works (their online store is closed at the moment, but should be back soon). I couldn’t believe how using just a small amount could completely eradicate my flaky winter skin. It also has an insanely good smell that lasts all day long. My mother is so obsessed with this scrub that she bought it in the bulk size available for spas and salons:

(Cat used for scale)

If that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is.

Lush Massage Bars

If you prefer to moisturize after you shower, Lush massage bars are an excellent and wonderful smelling way to keep the moisture on your skin. I love Fever, which smells like jasmine and sandalwood. These bars melt in your hands, so you can rub them on yourself—or get someone to help you out (Valentines Day is just a week away!).

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

I talked about it over the summer, but this stuff is even more essential in the winter. As someone who has often found themselves out in the winter chill without a good pair of gloves, I know the only thing to cure my cracked, irritated hands is Aquaphor. If skin gets to the point of bleeding, angry, discomfort, regular moisturizers will do nothing, you need Aquaphor.

Nivea Lip Balms

I’ve tried a lot of lip balms in my day, and nothing goes on smoother and moisturizes more than Nivea lip balms. They’re an affordable essential that can repair even the most chapped winter lips.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

Cetaphil is a drugstore classic, it’s an alternative to more expensive skin moisturizers and great for sensitive skin. In the winter when we need moisture more than ever, so the bargain price tag is especially appreciated. No need to deprive your skin and ration out expensive creams, Cetaphil gets the job done at a quarter of the cost.

Burt’s Bees Avocado Hair Treatment

Winter means dry hair, which if you fall prey to frizz, is actually a good thing, but shiny hair needs moisture and in the winter that can require some work. Wet your hair first, and then brush in some Burt’s Bees Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, leave it on for five minutes or a whole afternoon, when you finally shampoo you will find yourself with a shiny head of frizz-free hair.

Happy Groundhog day everyone—if you wake up to another ice storm tomorrow morning I hope you eventually find your way out of the time loop!


Filed under cosmetics, shopping

Ugh, Snow.

Snow can be so beautiful, so pure, fluffy, and magical. It casts a pristine blanket of white on top of an often ugly world. There are dozens of songs about it—Let It Snow, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, if you grew up with cold winters you associate snow with days off from school, snow men, snow angels, and fun. Snow is a delight when you’re a kid, and when the first snow falls each year, many of us hearken back to those shining days of our youth and forget what a complete and total pain in the butt snow can be.

Alright I’m just bitter, but seriously, snow can put a major damper on your plans, even if all you want is to go to the supermarket. I’ve had major beef with snow for most of my life. Sure, there have been times when I’ve adored it, playing and sledding and throwing snowballs, but there have also been times when I wished I lived in Florida. Having a winter birthday, childhood parties were often canceled as the snow piled up outside. I turned 17 and my Jr. license finally became a full-blown drivers license, just in time for the roads to be hidden in a foot of snow. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve slid on sidewalks and fallen down subway steps. It’s in these times that the magical wonder of glittering snow seems like a forgotten memory.

This morning I woke up early, made some coffee, started day two of a weeklong freelance job, and then suddenly—zip. With a pathetic “whoomp” the power was gone along with my work, my hopes of getting paid, and my temper. As I cursed the power company, the snow, and my own dependence on technology, my husband dialed the local Starbucks only to find they were also without power. Plan C involved calling my husband’s godmother who lives nearby, “yes” she told us she still has power—and internet. HALLELUJAH! My car at this point was barely visible under the snow, so it was on with the boots and out into the cold. Of course, since the fates think it’s funny to screw with our lives, after the mile walk through snow drifts and over ice, we received word that the power had come back on.

In retrospect it wasn’t all that bad, which is why I need to remind myself to stay calm and know that the world can be a jerk sometimes. I just remember that people are dealing with far worse snow-related situations, like being stuck in airports and train stations, or outside, or without heat.

There was a silver lining too, my husband, James, got some pretty pictures—maybe you’ve wondered what the beach looks like when it snows? Well in case you ever did, here’s your answer:

It pretty much looks the same as it does without snow, except the snow appears much higher because the sand and snow have sort of blown into each other and become indistinguishable in some places.


I’m sure many of you have snow horror stories of your own, so feel free to share them, they probably put mine to shame. You may even be stuck somewhere right now due to that deceptively beautiful precipitation, if so, I’m sorry and I hope you get home soon. Maybe some of you are someplace warm where you never have to worry about digging your car out  of snow drifts or slipping on ice, if so—well good for you.


Filed under Uncategorized

Which Holiday Shopper Are You?

If you haven’t bought gifts for everyone on your list yet, chances are in the next week you’ll be doing some shopping. Holiday shopping stresses everyone out, the crowds, the impending deadline, the long list of family and friends to find gifts for. The commercial aspect of the holidays stinks, but unless you and your family have collectively decided to forgo gifts this season, shopping is a necessary part of the holidays. Everyone has their own method, and each has its pros and cons—let’s take a look at some shall we?

The Crafter

There is this idea that if you make your Christmas gifts rather than buy them you’re saving money and giving a unique gift, but as someone who has often taken this path, I can tell you that crafting holiday gifts can be a slippery slope. First off you have to go to Michaels, AC Moore or  your local craft store. These places can be terrifying. You will stand in long lines for hours observing carts filled with scented glitter flowers, styrofoam birds, snowman tins, fake fruit, and tons of unnecessary objects bought in large quantities. By the time you’ve bought all your supplies, you’ve spent over $70 and wasted half your day. Should you realize you forgot to buy an ornament for someone, sorry! All the Christmas stuff is gone and has been replaced by conversation hearts and plastic eggs by December. So make sure you buy your supplies a few months early, and buy it in bulk.

Then you have to make your gifts, you may estimate this to take a few evening’s time, but jump-cut to Christmas Eve and you’re still painting, knitting, or decoupaging frantically. Your living room is covered in glitter and glue, and you find yourself wishing you had just bought gifts so you could be happily sipping eggnog right now. You also face the risk that someone will be insulted you didn’t get them a “real” present. Make sure you think about what you’re planning to make, and be sure it holds up against what people might be planning to give you.

The bottom-line: While crafting can be a personal and unique approach to gift giving, it must be well thought-out and executed with care. Stop and ask yourself if you would like to receive the gift you’re making, and if you have the time to put into making it well, if you can’t give a confident “yes” to those questions—it might be best to choose a different option.

The Online Shopper

Online shopping certainly makes the holidays easier, with just a few clicks you can have all your gifts delivered to your door; no crowds, no heavy shopping bags, or picked-over stores, it’s a sensible option. Online shopping does have its downsides though, the most obvious being the extra shipping cost, fortunately around the holidays most stores offer free or discounted shipping options—but wait too long and they nail you on expedited shipping. After all what use is a Christmas gift if you don’t have it by December 25th? These companies know the answer to that question, and they know they can make you pay for it.

If you’re shopping online you also have the disadvantage of being unsure what you’re getting for the cost. There is always the chance that what looked great online, seems a lot crappier in person. If you’ve seen it in stores, or the website has a generous return policy, it’s totally worth it, just make sure you check for re-stocking fees and pricey return shipping.

The bottom-line: Online shopping is great if you know what you’re looking for and you do it in advance to avoid insanely priced rush shipping—and always read return policies before you buy!

The Frantic Shopper

The frantic shopper has either waited until Christmas week to do their shopping, or has a busy schedule that only allows a few hours of holiday shopping. I have often fallen into this category—actually this was me last week on a trip to Manhattan, freezing my butt off because I wore a cute wool coat instead of my garbage-bag-like full body puffer. I hit up seven stores in record time and by the time I got on the train I was so loaded down with bags I thought my arms were going to fall off and my feet were aching and numb with cold. Did I spend more than I had planned? Yes. Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Mostly. Was I exhausted, cold, and stressed out? For damn sure.

This isn’t the most thought-out method, but it can be worth it because you get the whole thing over with in one go. The crowds though, ugh my god, whether you’re in a city, a mall, a holiday market, or driving around your neighborhood, shopping in December can be a thing of nightmares. The pushing, the fighting, the parking, the sold out shelves and endless lines, it’s enough to make me vow every year that I will find another method—maybe one of these years I’ll learn my lesson.

The bottom-line: Not for those easily phased by crowds or carrying heavy objects, but if you’re a procrastinator, it might be your only option to please everyone on your list.

The One-stop Shopper

As I pointed out above, running from store to stores can be a total pain, especially if it’s freezing, so another solution is to buy everything in one store. If you’re dealing with kids who have specific lists, or buying for a wide range of personal tastes and preferences, this might not work for you. It can be hard to find something for your teenage niece and your grandpa in the same store, but if you’re smart about it, you can make it work. This can be an efficient way to shop, but you have to be careful, because it’s easy to get lazy.

For example you may be embarrassed on Christmas when everyone opens their gifts on Christmas and it’s obvious you did all your shopping at the hardware store (who doesn’t love a mini flash-light or a measuring tape key-chain right?). Or maybe you got your siblings and parents gadgets from Best Buy, they might love it, but was your great-aunt really jonesing for a pair of pink gummy headphones? This method works great if you choose the right place, target or a discount store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls can be perfect—you just don’t want to find yourself wandering through Sephora looking for a gift for dad, unless you’re dad, unlike my dad, thinks $30 shampoo is money well spent.

The bottom-line: If you’re shopping for a bunch of people with similar tastes this is a great idea and likely to save you a lot of time—just make if a store with a wide array of products and departments.

The Planner

This is my goal, this is who I want to be every year, and I never pull it together. Planners spend the year picking up gifts here and there, buying gifts for people as they come upon something they would like. Maybe they find a great sale, or use coupons too, or pay attention when people mention things they need. Then they tuck everything away in the closet so when the holidays come around, they get to sit back and relax while the rest of us find ourselves in a frenzy.

Every year I vow to start my Christmas shopping in June, and every year December comes again and I kick myself. Sure I have that one pair of socks I bought for someone, but overall I’m unprepared and wishing I had just bought that perfect gift I saw for my mom in July instead of putting it off and forgetting what it was.

The bottom-line: If you’re smart enough to do this, I am jealous of you. Enjoy relaxing next week while the rest of us are running around like crazy people. You probably already have all your gifts wrapped and under the tree too don’t you? Congratulations, you win for most efficient holiday shopper, good for you!

So which one are you?


Filed under shopping