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I have never understood people who take "cold" vacations.
First of all, fuck skiing. Fuuuuuuuck it. I mean, vaya con dios to you if you like going down hill super fast on sticks and freezer burning yourself like an old fish finger, but I am missing the gene that makes that seem at all fun. I guess the sunny Greek part of my heritage won out over the frosty Polish; I generally dislike the feeling of being cold and would much rather spend my holidays strumming a bazouki on a cerulean beach, quaffing feta and ouzo, feet propped on a goat.
Still, every year, when there's a chill in the air, I ball my unmittened man-hands into fists and do an undignified little reindeer prance.
Why? Because there are, happily enough, plenty of things that are best enjoyed in unforgiving temperatures -- so many that I no longer dread the first snowfall, and see it instead as the first sign that I'll be spending many days swaddled in a duvet, watching something British, sipping something mulled.
If you're having trouble getting excited about the upcoming, chillier months, allow me to share with you my list of HOT STUFF to get excited about for the cold weather. I haven't even touched on the holidays, because that's a whole other ball of bourbon. Come, step into my emotional Jacuzzi. WINTER IS COMING! Here are just a few things to look forward to -- aside from how good it feels to take a goat-abusing beach vacation in January.
I once had a doomed love affair that ended in a small cafe in the Old Town of Montreal. It was the dead of winter, and after we'd agreed it was over, we watched through the steamed-up windows as a joyful bride in a rabbit fur coat practically floated down the steps of a cathedral in a hail of white roses. You couldn't tell the petals from the snowflakes. It was so moving, I almost barfed.
Thankfully, the waiter overheard us breaking up and brought us over a couple mugs of vin chaud, which is a kind of hot, French, unsweetened sangria. To make it, warm a few cups of dry red in a saucepan with a little orange peel, a cinnamon stick, and a splash of cognac until just steaming. Dream of Canada and heartbreak.
This is the time of year when everything is available in peppermint. I love it in my mouth and on my hair, in shampoos and lotions and tea and brownies and cocoa. I will never understand people who don't like it with chocolate, but more Thin Mints for me, I guess. I have a little burner that I put peppermint oil in, and this stuff is out of control. (If you've never tried a linen spray, it's like a Febreeze but without the weird pool chemical aftershave funk.)
SWAG SWAG SWAG
I love plants but my house is, unfortunately, a relentless, Giallo death factory for all green things. From a botanical standpoint, I am Bluebeard. The solution? Buy things that are basically dead already, but still smell great. Even before December, you can buy big swags of balsam, juniper, and pine (at a garden center, obviously, but you can also buy them here). You could arrange it in a jar or vase but I just lay that shit on my mantle and bookshelves and, hey, is this Julieanne's place or am I in motherfucking Narnia?
OK, yes. Obviously. But I'm excited because last winter, I finally invested in some cashmere: a few shrunken secretary cardigans, some J. Crew shells and a few big drapey boyfriend dolmans. I've already expressed my love for Vince here, and I know it's pricey, but that stuff is always worth it. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on cashmere, I bought a Forever 21 cable knit cardigan earlier this fall made of God-knows-what, and am in it so much that I should basically sublet my house.
Ohhhhhh, you guys. These boots. I'm not even a shoe person but these look and feel so good. I bought a pair of the Original Gloss in black and I feel sexy but also, like, British and practical, like some kind of Paddington Bear dominatrix. I have my eye on the Regents, which I am allowed to have if I win one of the scratchers I buy with my 12-packs of calf-slimming Diet A&W Rootbeer.
CASSEROLES AND STEWS
Sure, summer is a great time to walk around in jorts and have campfires or whatever, but you know what you don't want in July? A hearty bowl of long-simmered meat. That's winter's domain, my friends. And it's great! Translated literally from the Hebrew and French, Shia LaBeouf means "Thank God for beef," which is what you'll say when you try Ina Garten's boeuf bourgignon. Summer is the time for ramps and green things; winter is for root vegetables slow-cooked within an inch of their hot, starchy little lives.
I'm a stew and chili gal, but my really WASP-y friend Archer makes these insane casseroles using mostly soup and canned biscuits that look delicious in Facebook photos. Did you know WASP-y people LOVE weird 1950s food like tinned shrimp mixed with mayo and water chestnuts? White people! You learn new things about them every day.
I grew up in Ohio, where winter lasts for approximately 11-and-a-half months of the year. As soon as the first frost hit, my mom would flannel up the beds like so many oblong Krist Novoselics. They're super soft and don't get cold like other fabrics, so you don't have that thing where you're trying to put your feet on somebody else's legs for warmth and, instead of being cool with it, they divorce you. Also: do you have a flannel robe? You need one. Trust me on this.
Being snowed in (or okay, just really unwilling to go outside) means long stretches of time in which to lose oneself in an entire television series or novel. I like 'em like I like my men: silly and foreign. If you haven't seen "Gavin and Stacey," I am giving you a gift, because it is INCREDIBLE and romantic and funny and makes you wish you were spending the winter in a chintzy seaside resort in Wales. I also love "The Forsyte Saga" for its overall chilly weather feel and the fact that Damian Lewis wears a tuxedo for most of it.
Reading wise, you can't beat the Russians. I love "Dr. Zhivago" for pure tundra pulp. I also love winter-set American stuff like "The Shining" for scares and "Tales of Burning Love" for romance. On the stereo? Chopin's "Winter Wind" etudes, Joy Division's "Still," or Husker Du's "Zen Arcade."
FANCY ASS TEAA few years ago if somebody told me to get into expensive tea, I would have told them to get into an expensive spaceship that flew them to SPACE. That was before I had Stash, which comes in amazing little pyramid shaped bags and doesn't taste like any tea you've ever had. It's pricier than other teas, but I guess you have to think of it like you think of spending more on wine or the Nicer Meat at your deli counter or whatever. My tea of choice is Earl Grey and this is maybe the best version of it that exists.
Jonathan Coulton may be right about summer, but winter sex has an allure all its own. There's something survivalist about it, like you're taking off your clothes and keeping each other warm in a ski cabin avalanche. I think fur is super wrong, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't peel off my fair isle and bang on a bearskin rug if the opportunity and a roaring fire presented themselves. Plus, have you ever given somebody road head in a cold car? ME EITHER, BUT I HEAR IT FEELS PRETTY GOOD.
What are you guys excited about? Apologies to any readers in perennially warm climates, you'll just have to come hang with me in New York.