I’ve spent the past few weeks being very boring. Over the summer and into the fall I was feeling super social. I wanted to be out every night, making new friends, going on dates, and enjoying the unknown in Amsterdam. But lately I’ve had this strange, deep rooted confidence. I want to be alone. I want to bask in my independence. I want to spend Wednesday night in, listening to music, surrounded by candles, browsing Pinterest and drinking hot chocolate all by my merry lonesome. I’ve been eating a lot more (yay) organizing a lot more (yay) and reading a lot more (yay). I’m definitely going through a homebody phase, and I think it stems from being content with myself. Over the summer, I could never just come home from work. I HAD to have plans, something to do, someone to see. And if I did have a night in alone (which happened very rarely) I would spend a lot of time on social media, looking for conversation or someone to connect with. I don’t know what’s come over me lately, but I’ve done a complete 180° and am totally enjoying just being an old recluse. I don’t feel hungry for a glamorous social life or attention. I just want to be at home and bake peach cobbler from scratch. And eat peach cobbler that’s made from scratch. Mmmm :)
As I’ve been spending an increased amount of time in my flat, I’ve been focusing on making my home extra atmospheric. Sometimes this simply means coming home and scrubbing the bathroom floor for 45 minutes (after I did this last week my brain kept tripping up, not recognizing where I was . . who knew my bathroom tiles weren’t supposed to have a pink tint!) and sometimes this means embarking on a rather complex home improvement project. As I’ve been perfecting the art of hibernation, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips with you – ways to make your home cozy and warm in the depths of winter.
1) Celebrate new wall art.
My walls are white, and often in the winter, the world is white outside as well. One way to create an eternal summer inside your home is to plaster your walls with bright colors and beautiful summer shots.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the artwork at Minted. If you recall (in another lifetime!) I ordered my wedding invitations from their website. I love Minted’s simple and airy designs, and carefully curated selection of artists. As mentioned in my Unseen 2014 post, I currently feature lots of universe shots on my wall. In these dark and gloomy months it’s time for a colorful change, and I can’t wait for my new Minted art to arrive!
2) Enjoy fresh flowers, candles, new plants, and music.
I’ve lumped these four home luxuries together because they are simple pleasures we often overlook. When my plants are sad and yellow, my coffee table is bare, and the apartment is dim and silent, I can’t help but feel trapped. However, this past Sunday I spent €4 on 10 tulips at the grocery store. Suddenly, every room in my house was lively and blooming. I watered my house plants, lit a candle (this is my favorite one), created a jazzy winter playlist (currently obsessing over Odesza), and BOOM, winter was a distant season and no longer a state of mind. It’s amazing what some intimate lighting and music can do for the soul. And when you’re surrounded by greenery, you’ll never feel blue.
3) Cook a Sunday (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) roast.
Last Saturday I took full advantage of my nifty, convenient location on the Albery Cuyp Market. I stopped at the organic vegetable stall and picked up fresh thyme and a carton of baby potatoes. I paid a visit to the local hog butcher and got a big fat pork belly. And I went into the Asian supermarket and bought an array of warm winter spices. Five hours later (taking marination time into account) I had prepared the most elegant and delicious roast, which became the centerpiece of my weekly meals. Cooking one beautiful cut of meat not only makes your house aromatic and warm, it gives you something hearty to look forward to at the end of each day. With some slight alterations, my pork belly roast became pork fried rice, crispy pork belly sandwiches with avocado, and hot and sour soup. Putting a little extra effort into one meal can help warm your soul (and belly!) again and again throughout the week.
4) Invest in new throws and rugs.
When I went home for Christmas, my kind and crafty mom helped me make some new chevron pillow cases. We spent an hour in the fabric store roaming through tall aisles of color and patterns (which was probably my favorite part of the whole pillow case making process!) Upon returning home to Amsterdam, my newly chevron-cased couch took on a hipster-like vibe. Thankfully, I also received a beautiful hand-knit afghan for Christmas, so overall my living room remains more old lady than urban hipster. These new textiles, in addition to a new shag rug in the bathroom, have totally transformed my flat into a plush and colorful haven. I can’t believe what a difference a new rug under my cold toes in the bathroom can make. I’ve also been more inclined to spend time in my living room (which I usually shun for love of my marshmallow bed) due to the new throws and colorful pillows. If your space needs an uplift in the winter, mixing in new textures and colorful throws is a simple way to change the vibe of a room without a total furniture makeover.
5) Surround yourself with books and puzzles.
No matter how much time you spend sprucing up your space, you will not enjoy it if you don’t have something fun to do in it! I hate (absolutely hate) coming home from work and spending the whole night in, staring at my computer screen. Now, this is often the life of an Account Director and blogger (thankfully I love both) but sometimes my eyes need a rest and my mind needs a steeper challenge.
Confession: I’m a total bookworm. Books transport you to new places. They give you cause to view the world through another’s eyes. They make you happy, sad, empty, confused, and informed. When you can’t physically escape the winter, let a book take you away.
I’ve put puzzles on this list as well because sometimes, it’s fun to be a puzzle nerd. Set a puzzle up on your living room table, and I guarantee three our of four guests will gravitate towards the puzzle and give it a go. I love inspecting pieces while I wait for the kettle to boil, or promising I will go to bed once I’ve fit just five more pieces . . .
6) Deck yourself in fuzzy socks and pajamas.
This one doesn’t need much explanation. The best way to stay warm and cozy in the winter is to bundle up. I am obsessed with massive knit socks and fleece-lined pajamas. Embarrassingly (as I’ve told you before) I also have a onesie which I end up wearing at least once a week after work, and sometimes (shamelessly) all day Sunday. Invest in some warm flannel PJ’s, some cute nighties, and you can rock the hibernation fashion scene.
7) Aim for a clean sink and some good Feng Shui.
OK, so it wasn’t my intention to share this video, but because we’re here and on the topic, this is what happened earlier this week: Ali comes home from work (slightly tipsy) and discovers a mouse living in the sink (and wait until said mouse makes a special appearance 22 seconds in . . . ) Apparently, the mice in my apartment are ninjas who can climb kitchen cabinets, and on Tuesday night they discovered a wonderful new abyss to explore. All I’m going to say is, hibernation has felt a lot more wholesome since I’ve made a consistent effort to clean my sink every night.
In addition to keeping my apartment OCD style clean, I’ve also been reading up on Feng Shui. I’m a tiger, and *supposedly* it’s going to be a great year for us felines. As I’ll take all the luck I can get, I’ve also been moving my furniture this way and that, cleaning certain corners and decorating new nooks in accordance with this year’s Feng Shui. I won’t deep dive into it all here, but if you’re looking for luck in a certain area of life this year, I absolutely recommend cleansing your home in accordance with this Feng Shui guide. If nothing else, you’ve just painted a beautiful wall and cleared out some clutter . . . win-win in winter!
8) Drink fresh tea.
One reason I hate the winter is because I am consistently cold! I can never stop shivering, and I’m often spotted cranking up the heat again and again. If I even look at a glass of cold water, I will be chilled for the next three hours. Enter fresh tea, or an assortment of hot water brews, made with fresh mint, ginger, honey, cinnamon, and lemon. Instead of tea bags, I usually opt for some fresh slivers of ginger with a dash of honey, or a cinnamon stick and a few sprigs of mint. Making hot flavored water is so much more satisfying than simply plopping a tea bag into a mug, it’s always guaranteed caffeine free (if you’re like me and very sensitive to caffeine in the evenings), and can be made in a variety of easy ways!
9) Get crafty.
I’ve started a lot of art projects over the past few weeks, some of which I promise to share on instagram soon. Anything from doodling to knitting helps keep my hands busy at night (I’m one of those people who is always clicking a pen or tapping my fingers on a desk) and also makes me feel super accomplished. I make ads at work, but sometimes a great campaign can take a year plus, so it’s rewarding to come home at night and have a clear start, finish, and crafty output to showcase in my home. Winter is the perfect time to write down that long list of craft projects you’ve been meaning to tackle – from painting lamp shades to making homemade birthday cards – and begin crafting, one by one!
10) Stay warm!
Again, this may seem like another obvious hibernation hack, but in the winter, it’s essential to stay heated, by whatever means possible. As mentioned, I’m consistently shivering in the cold months, so I’m usually always accompanied by a hot water bottle while at home. When I first started dating B ages ago, we would push the couch up against the heater in his house, and just talk while relaxing in the warm air. Super cozy, super silly, but also super warm :) If you have a fireplace, light it. If you have a tub, soak in it (I don’t have one, so enjoy it for me!) Sometimes I’ll even just turn the shower on and steam in the bathroom, without even stepping into the water! Keeping warm doesn’t have to be conventional.
Whatever you do, staying warm, staying fuzzy, and staying occupied in a colorful space will help you kick with winter blues. While these are just a few tips from me, I’d love to hear your advice on winter hibernation. What do you do to stay warm in the winter? Keep yourself occupied while it snows outside? Let me know, and have a great weekend!