Surviving A Winnipeg Winter: Beating the Winter Blues

So, we've reached February. It's the time of year when I'm so cold and tired of winter that I just want to stay in all the time, while I simultaneously want to run outside, rip off my parka and expose my flesh to the outdoor air again. It's also a time of year when it's easy to get down about the cold weather and limited hours of sunshine. So lately, I've been working hard at being mindful and appreciative of the little things. Here are some of my top tips for shaking off those nagging winter blues.

Shake up your routine
Seek out ways to revitalize the day-in, day-out duldrum. Instead of just commuting straight to and from work, stop off and spend a few minutes doing something you enjoy along the way. Pop by a department store and sample a fun lipstick, swing by your favourite bookstore and get lost in a book for twenty minutes, grab coffee and a croissant on your way home. Have them to stay. Look out the window while you sip and savour. Even fifteen minutes can make all the difference in your mood.

Go outside anyway
Bundle up and head out. Sunshine, even winter sunshine, will lift your spirits, and fresh air always feels good on the lungs, no matter how cold. Take a nice walk over your lunch break or after work to lift your spirits and absorb some natural vitamin D - even if it's only through the tiny eye slit between your scarf and your touque.

Get some exercise
Exercise is probably the healthiest and most reliable way to lift your mood. If all you want is to be warm, take a hot yoga class, swim laps around an indoor pool (and let the smell of chlorine fool you that it's summer), or work up a sweat at a quick spin class over your lunch break.

Take advantage of what your city has to offer
There have been a lot of great things going on in Winnipeg these days. Events like Big Fun, Toast and Hunni, and RAW: Almond remind me that there's still life outside of my Netflix cue. I'm also looking forward to Festival du Voyageur and the Goodwill Traders Post coming soon.

Appreciate the small wonders of winter
Pay attention to the crunch of snow under your feet, appreciate the way that stark winter light falls on buildings and adds a whole new dimension to your city, or enjoy some of these glorious sunsets we've been having. 

I'm curious, do you have any tips on getting through this last stretch of winter? Also, you can find more Winnipeg Winter Survival tips here. Including ideas on beauty, activity and transportation.

Surviving A Winnipeg Winter: Transportation Woes

When the sun is shining in the summer tine, Winnipeg is a pleasure to get around. Because I live in the Village, I can bus or walk pretty well anywhere in the city, and when necessary I can hop in my car to get somewhere a little more remote.

But then winter comes and things get just a bit more difficult. Depending on the weather, the bus can become frustratingly unreliable. Walking almost anywhere can only be undertaken with many layers and a measure of bravery. And my car, a dream to manoeuvre around the city in nice weather transforms into a rickety, squeaky, less-than-air-tight little clunker.

It seems like I've written this post purely to complain, but that's not the case. I'm genuinely curious about some better solutions. (Aside from springing for a fancy new car with remote start.) What are your experiences with getting around in the winter? Advice? Stories? Complaints? Tell me about it!

Hibernation Mode

Things have taken a turn for the chilly around here, and it's only a matter of time before snow blankets the ground and temperatures plunge for the long haul.

Every winter I have this battle between my desire to stay in and avoid the cold and my sense of obligation to go out. But this winter, I've decided to embrace staying in, and to help it feel a bit more productive, I've come up with some hibernation projects.

1. Find out what the deal is with borscht. I never liked it as a kid, but I'm going to get a great recipe and try again.
2. Watch AFI's best 100 films. Like, all of them.
3. Learn to make some excellent cocktails. Then invite friends over to drink them.
4. Read books. A lot of books.
5. Successfully hold a handstand for longer than 0.000052 seconds.
6. Buy a brand new album and listen to it the whole way through and not do anything else. Except maybe lie on the floor. And consume alcohol.
7. Finally finish sewing patches on that damn blanket. (A project that's been sitting around partially done for about 2 years. Yeah, I'm the worst sometimes.)
8. Complete a puzzle.
9. Master a difficult baked good that I've tried and failed at before. Something that involves the use of a candy thermometer and/or yeast.
10. Make out :)

What about you? Any plans for the winter hunker down?

Heho, Festival!

I credit myself with being pretty tough when it comes to all things wintery, but this particular winter, with its record-breaking lows, has been a tough one. Still, I try to make the best of it. One step in that direction was attending the 45th annual Festival du Voyageur last weekend.

Surrounded by maple syrup lollies, an ice climbing wall, poutine, fiddlers, tourtiere and voyageur sashes, this is about as Canadian as a celebration gets. Take in traditional French-Canadian music, stuff your face with hearty soups and gravy-slathered offerings, pose with impressive snow sculptures, learn about the lifestyle and trades of early French-Canadian settlers, or wrap yourself in handcrafted Metis blankets or sashes; the list goes on.

For me, Festival is a fun way to recognize Canada's (often troubled) settler and trade history, while pretending that I couldn't really care less about winter. Go ahead, stay as long as you like. (But please, no, go away).

This weekend marks the final few days of Festival, so if you haven't had a chance yet, get out there and show winter how tough you are, then spend most of your time inside a heated tent shovelling warm foods down your gullet.

Surviving a Winnipeg Winter: Keeping Warm

Earlier this week, I posted tips on embracing the wintry cold, but let's face it, coming down to the end of January, those sub-zero temperatures and lack of daylight house can be downright depressing. This winter, I've taken on some new activities to help combat it.

Back in December, I joined a swim club. Even though I spend about 40 percent of my time in the pool spluttering and fighting my primal fear of drowning, after 90 odd minutes of laps, I feel refreshed and strong. Plus, the undeniable connection between swimming and summer allows me to fool myself, if only for a moment, that warmer temperatures are on the horizon.

As part of a New Years exercise kick, I signed up for a 21-day yoga challenge. I just finished on Monday. It was fun (and challenging) to shake up my routine by getting out there and doing yoga every single day. (Alright, I missed 2 classes because of the food poisoning, but still.) And if exercising in a 36 degree room doesn't make you feel warm, I don't know what will. 

Finally, I plan future trips. Chris and I have officially decided that we'll be road tripping out to Chicago over spring break, and while it's not exactly tropical, having something like that to look forward to and plan for helps take my mind off of the cold weather.

Keep cozy and those spirits up, my friends. We'll make it through this yet. 

What you do to keep warm through the winter?

Surviving a Winnipeg Winter: The Activity Edition

Last week, I posted about how to get your skin through the prolonged polar vortex known as winter here in Winnipeg, and this week I want to talk about how to get through the cold weather, mountains of snow and shortened daylight without resorting to murdering your loved ones in a cabin-fever rage.

When it comes to doing things around the city in the winter, my strategy is equal parts embrace and deny the cold. I'll tell you how to trick your brain into believing it's warm later this week, but first some suggestions for embracing the cold.
*Strap on skates, cross country skis or winter-proof boots and follow the river trail to visit the yearly expanding collection of warming huts at the Forks.
*Gather together a group of friends and go for a sleigh ride (spiked coffee in thermoses strongly encouraged)
*Admire snow sculptures while enjoying (admittedly overpriced) maple syrup snow candy at the Festival du Voyaguer
*Stop for cider and snacks at The Port on your winter bike to work February 14th
*Grab your kids or borrow someone else's and build a snow fort in your local park
*Follow up every wintry outing with a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate
Any other suggestions? I welcome your input!

(All photos taken by my dear friend Lindsey in and around The Forks)

Surviving a Winnipeg Winter: The Beauty Edition

It's around this time of year that a lot of writing about winter beauty and fashion rests in snowy swirls upon the web. Most of this comes out of New York, or from other American states whose citizens claim to understand what winter is about. I'm sorry New York, your 2 degrees celsius has got nothing on our minus 20. And a few weeks ago, we were talking much, much colder. Don't even shudder the word "winter" at me until a two-block walk sends icy pins and needles through your thighs, or your knuckles are cracked and bleeding after passing on the hand cream for a week.

I may be coming off pretty arrogant here, but years of living in the third-coldest major city in the world  has made me a bit crusty on the topic of winter. It also makes me feel quite qualified to give advice on winter beauty routines.

So if you too have the misfortune of living in a barren, frozen wasteland, or if you plan on visiting one, here's how to get through that and still feel vaguely human.
Right out of the shower, rub oil all over your body. I'm not joking. It seals in moisture like nothing else. I love the lemony scent of Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil. It packs a lot of moisturizing punch, but doesn't leave your skin greasy.

When it comes to face and hand creams, get thick. I'm a big fan of Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream and their Ultimate Strength Hand Salve.

Lip balm. All day, every day. I love the minty tingle and rosey smell of Smith's Minted Rose.

Use the thickest body butters you can find. The yummy scents from Tiber River Naturals are divine. Slather your elbows and legs; coat your feet, put on socks and get straight into your cozy bed. Your bedmate(s?) and/or stuffed animals will be blown away by your attractiveness levels.
Make up
Give up on it mostly, especially mascara. Unless they've invented ice-crystal-proof mascara, even the waterproof variety will leave your eyes ringed with black or your lashes break-off brittle. Rely on the icy temperatures to bepaint your maiden cheeks with a natural blush. And blue lipstick used to be a thing, right? 

If you're looking for something with staying power, I enjoy Benetint's cheek and lip stain. Revlon Colorstay liquid eye pen in black is easy to apply, stays on and gives definition to the eye without the messiness of mascara mentioned above.
Wash it less often. I typically shampoo once every three to four days and use baby powder to lift greasy roots in between. It smells great, is way cheaper than dry shampoo and goes a long way. Even back when I dyed my hair (nearly) black, the powder never showed. Shake some into one hand, rub it between your palms, then run them through your hair, focusing on the scalp near the front. Brush your hair afterwards. If there's any static, wet your hands and pass them gently over your hair.

To summarize, roll about in pools of oil, eschew make up, grease up that scalp and pray for the sweet relief of spring.

As an added note, none of these products sponsored this post or my blog in any way. They're just the products I genuinely enjoy and use. If you like them too, wonderful, just leave a few at the store for me. And if you're interested in reading more, you can find my travel skin care regimen here.

A Change in the Seasons

When I travel, I like to mix things up by getting active. Hiking, cycling and a whole lot of walking are regular parts of my travel plans. And I'm the same way at home.

Over the weekend, we got a big dump of snow and things have gone from fall to winter in the span of a day. It has me really excited about getting into some new outdoor activities. Since we live right next to the longest outdoor rink in the world (although this is a contested competition with the Rideau Canal in Ottawa), Chris and I have made it our mission to feel more comfortable on skates. I'm even a little curious about cross-country skiing, but we'll see how ambitious I get.

What active pursuits get you out and exploring at home and away?
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