So there's this thing called winter that we've been experiencing lately, and I'm among the minority of people who actually enjoy it. Especially this year, since we have snow that is staying on the ground! (With plenty more to come over the next several days.) The chickens won't go out in it, but we had a few families over on the weekend for some sledding on the hill to the barn. There was a campfire by the pond, people brought snacks, and the kids had an amazing time. We roasted bread, which we then spread with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar; we took pots of hot chocolate, marshmallows and whipped cream down and set up a little snack station - it was superb. So much of this life is about embracing what we cannot change.
I have a few other strategies that I'm convinced help to make these Canadian winters more enjoyable. I'm no doctor, so you might want to check with yours before employing these, but they seem to work for me.
- vitamin D (1000IU) every day
- fish oil supplement
- echinacea at the first hint of a cold (I recently tried a liquid tincture from Yarmouth Natural this last time I was starting with a stuffy nose, and it worked like a charm. Pricier than capsules, but effective.)
- drink, drink, drink - I drink over 2L of water in some form every day. Straight water, tea, more tea, another cup of tea - it also helps to keep me warm
- citrus - I especially love grapefruit
- make plans to see and interact with other humans
- (edited to add this one) a really warm coat, snow pants, hat, and mittens + time outside. (No one's paying me, but my Columbia Omni-Heat coat has made winter SO much better. It's super thin and light, comfortable and super warm. I seriously didn't know that winter coats could actually keep me comfortable!)
My skin doesn't take so kindly to the shifts from dry, static-y indoor heat to -23 windchills outside, like we've had this week and last. The fish oil helps, but I do get dry and uncomfortable. This lotion is pretty, it's inexpensive to make, it's quite simple, and super satisfying to whip up. It makes a fairly large batch, so you'll have some to give to your equally dry and uncomfortable friend. I originally posted it on my previous blog where it was one of my most popular posts; this is a slightly updated and more detailed version.
Winter Skin Lotion
Makes approx. 2 cups of lotion, and can easily be doubled or halved.
- 4 tbsp beeswax pastilles (this makes a thick lotion; grated beeswax would make it a little bit thinner. You can control the thickness by adjusting the amount as needed)
- 8 oz olive oil (or other oil, depending on your skin type - grapeseed oil is a lighter option. I find extra virgin is a bit too salad-y smelling for lotion; you can just pick up regular olive oil or use another neutral liquid oil from the cupboard)
- 4 tsp coconut oil
- 8 tbsp water
- essential oils, if desired
Melt beeswax in a double boiler. I simply use a glass measuring cup reserved for lotion and soapmaking in one of my stainless steel pots. Add coconut oil when the beeswax is almost entirely melted. Warm the olive oil briefly on the stovetop or in the microwave, just so it's slightly warm and not cold (cold oil will cause the beeswax to re-harden and the mixture to cloud, which isn't the end of the worls but does slow down progress). Add the olive oil to beeswax and coconut oil, and stir until everything's liquified, no longer.
Remove from heat. I usually let it sit for a few minutes to cool slightly, because it's very hot. Use an immersion blender and blend while slowly drizzling in the water. Make sure to keep the blades submerged in the lotion to avoid splatters. Continue mixing for another minute or so, scraping down the sides as needed. The lotion will be quite hot and runny at this point, but will thicken as it cools. Blend it a bit every now and then as it's cooling. After it's cooled, you can add essential oils by stirring in several drops and mixing well. I love this as an unscented lotion for the boys and myself, especially since I work in scent-free schools. The texture is lovely, and on the thick side, so it's not well suited to pump bottles. Scoop or pour into jars or bottles. I prefer a shallow wide mouth jar with this lid. I hope that you enjoy it!
Alternately, you can rub a few drops of straight olive oil into your skin after showering, or a wee bit of coconut oil, which will melt. It's less complicated, and gives similar results.