We are a little less than a month away from the official start of the Vernal Equinox. This statement might elicit cheers from many of you for whom winter is just a nasty word. For those in the opposite camp, a few more snow falls might just fill their hearts with joy. Whatever camp you may fall in, there is a reality that we must face and that is that in a month’s time, while things are beginning to warm up with days growing longer, Mother nature often shows her strength by holding us by her beautiful tentacles in showing us who is really in charge. So while we are living in the days of this season, may we continue to do as the plants and soil are doing in this garden scene…
…Rest and Restore.
For there is a reason that the seasons take place in the order that they do unfurling one into the next in order of succession and if we follow the lead in this order of the Earth and Mother Nature, we too shall benefit. As I have written about in the past, you will not see pumpkins on my doorstep until after the first day of Fall has officially arrived, nor Spring flowers in my house until after the first day of spring. This creates quite a consternation in retail and the Barn Sales where your Christmas merchandise arrives in the summer and you begin decorating for it in the barn in October. It has taken me quite some time to get used to this and it only happens in the barn… not in my house… trust me. That being said, my reasoning for that is that like many of you, my mindset often wanders to the “I’ll be happier, more joyful, more content, more successful” and so on and so on…when the season ends that I am not particularly fond of. While I might look forward to a change of a season, I find that rushing it out the door is counterproductive in trying to live in the moment and embrace that moment that we are in right here and now.
So in that vein, as we, like the snow laden garden, are supposed to be reseting and restoring, getting ourselves ready for the growth and increased movement in the seasons to come, I am making a concerted effort to do so. And believe me, this is more difficult than it sounds for resting is not in my repertoire nor will it be to a great degree for it is not in my DNA… BUT… I am trying to embrace quiet moments not filled with busy. Taking in moments that fill my soul with peace, that help me to turn inward, delighting in that introspection and the quiet activities that might be based on a basic need for that day, but are restorative never the less. These moments do not need to be earth shattering, just focused in on the warmth of the heated interior that you might be so blessed to be living in…
or the frozen landscape that sits before you.
Whether you choose to rest and restore in either environment, here are some of my favorite ways to delight in the season before me.
Magazine and Book Reading
When given the luxury of a few spare moments, one of my all time favorites ways to restore is to take a stack of my favorite magazines and leaf through them, tearing out articles and images that inspire me or reading the words on the printed page before me that resonate. How many of you partake in this too? This practice started years and years ago when I would check out the magazines from the library but could not tear out the pages and had to photo copy those images. My how far we’ve come! Even though we can surely capture much of the same information on the internet, there is something so cathartic about the sensory experience of feeling the pages of the publication and the imagery depicted on the pages in their full size format as well as the scents that any printed publication evoke.
Any season that you find yourself in is a wonderful time to enjoy this activity but winter is fabulous if you can do so before a roaring fire, cuddled up under a comfy blanket, or even sitting by the warmth of a heat emitting radiator! If magazines are not what restores you, grab a good book of course to do the same!
Some of my favorite magazines that I have been perusing for years now are:
Martha Stewart Living,
My French Country Home,
Where Women Create,
Country Living (both the American Edition and the British),
I would have spent a small fortune if I purchased each and every one of these magazines on a monthly basis. I do have my absolute favorite “cannot miss an edition of” subscriptions but some of them I read at Barnes and Noble while sipping a Starbucks coffee (or I used to but hope to get back to this practice in the near future.) As the kids were growing up, this was a weekly field trip destination. Imagine the surprise of my littles when they realized that mom was actually taking them to a book store for a field trip!
Essential Oils and Scented Candles
I find that delicious and pleasant scents are incredibly nurturing and restorative and I have been using scented candles forever that invoke the scents of the season going on around us. In fact, the enjoyment of scented candles and now essential oils since the invention of the diffuser, has permeated our household and the lives of most of our kids and now young adults. Oil diffusers and candles exist in almost every room and I rarely am without one in my office, by my bed and throughout the barn. Not only are the scents of the essential oils uplifting but there are benefits both medically and of the spirit that we firmly believe in.
When developing our first Life’s Patina product to offer all of you, it was scented candles that we looked to. We approached the uber talented scent maker, Ilka Evans from Zoet Bathlatier, who had been offering her delightful selection of artisan candles and aromatherapy products at our barn sales since our early days. She delightfully agreed and we collaborated with her to create our line of signature Artisan Candles. We’ll be adding new scents this year with the opening of the Life’s Patina Mercantile & Cafe! They’ll also be available for sale at our Spring Barn Sale, April 16th – 18th & April 23rd – 25th.
One aspect of embracing and living with the seasons is in our cooking. I’m sure all of us create meals that utilize the offerings of the season. Many of us look at cooking as drudgery and believe me, when being the main cook in a household of seven over the duration of a couple of decades… my cooking cup hath runneth over. Like really runneth over… BUT… here is that BUT qualifier again… I also find it restorative. For I really do love to try new recipes and I love to eat so when you combine those two, it is a pleasurable activity. I think when necessity brings it to light each and every day when you are trying to raise a family who all have different tastes and work a full workday and time is a hot commodity, is where it can turn into drudgery. To bring it back to pleasure, I often search through recipe ideas in the early morning light or by the light of the fire at the end of the day and select a few that really pique my interest. I then make a list of the ingredients I need after taking stock of my pantry and make sure that I have shopped for them prior to assigning that recipe to a particular night or to a particular member of the household. There is nothing more frustrating when you don’t have an essential ingredient for the recipe for the meal you had chosen for that night so preparation is key.
In the early morning, I often cook sweet treats and delectables that don’t have a particular time frame in which they need to be produced by (like dinner every night). That takes the pressure off and there is something pleasurable working in the kitchen alone with some favorite music softly filling the quiet space. Here is a belly warming winter recipe that I love!
Baked Berry Oatmeal
- 6 Medjool Dates
- 4 Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- fresh berries
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
- 2 tbsp hemp-seed hearts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 3-quart baking dish.
- Sprinkle 6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped, evenly over the bottom of baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together old-fashioned rolled oats, baking powder, kosher salt, and ground cinnamon.
- In another bowl, whisk the milk, maple syrup, melted unsalted butter, eggs, and pure vanilla extract. Add to oat mixture and stir to combine.
- Transfer to prepared dish.
- Sprinkle with 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until set.
- Sprinkle with toasted pepitas and hemp-seed hearts.
- Let cool 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold, with more maple syrup. Enjoy!
Wether it be herbal, English breakfast or chia… tea is a very relaxing ritual. A warm cup warms not only your hands but elicits relaxation as you sip it. The very origins of tea as to be taken as a respite in your afternoon on a daily basis goes back centuries. Maybe we could take a lesson from the past and break if only for a few minutes in our afternoon to partake in this ritual. We are tea lovers in our house and many of us steep a cup all through the day…especially in winter.
If coffee is your preference, a beautifully artistic one like the one above is a pleasurable treat always. While we may not be able to meet a friend or two over a gorgeously presented cup like you would find at http://www.malvernbuttery.com in pre Covid days, these independent coffee shops still need our support. Many are doing take out, so grab that paper cladded cup and a brown bagged bakery treat and enjoy it as you envision meeting friends and loved ones again to catch up over coffee. As we all know, brewing a pot of your favorite coffee at home is both relaxing and invigorating as well. So either home brewed or Cafe created… sip it up!
Hiking or Walking Outdoors in the Invigorating Cold
I make it a practice to try and walk at the end of the day even in the cold of winter even if it might not be dark until I get to it. In fact, I find it more invigorating to do so now when the air feels different with the cold and a snowfall. The sounds are different. The light is different. If you brave the elements or embrace them, however you may look at it and just go out in them and feel them, that is restorative even of itself . Outdoor activity in whatever season or environment you are living in is always restorative.
There really are endless opportunities to live in the moment while embracing the season you are in. As we take cues from this season of stillness in nature, let it guide you in restoring for just like the plant in winter shows no growth, it is resting so that in spring when the warm sun begins to hit its dormant leaves it may burst out in its glory. We should do the same as well. We, as women, often don’t take that time for quiet in this restorative season. If we take inventory of what we really love to immerse ourselves in, that really fills our soul up after partaking in it and create, if only for ten minute respites at a time, to make this a priority we will enter the coming season with an awakening that matches the greening of the grass and the emerging sounds of the songbird.
Beautiful image created by Melody Ross of the former Brave Girls Club and now Melody Ross Media
So while I too will welcome the flowers and the green and the songbird of Spring’s embrace, I will continue to delight in Winter’s offerings for a little bit longer.