Saturday, 25 February 2017

Winter Essentials

I like to consider myself somewhat of an authority on winter. While Atlantic Canada is not as consistently cold as say, Winnipeg, it is pretty cold and also incredibly snowy. Maybe you read about our most recent deluge, and while 80cm in one go is somewhat unusual, a big snowfall is a common thing in the winter, and Atlantic Canadians are a hardy people who mostly get exercise in the winter because of all the shovelling they have to do. Unless you are me and half-ass it whenever possible. I figure once I get myself in the door, it's good enough. It's kind of amazing that Canada Post still delivers my mail, really.

But back to winter: it's snowy, it's dry, it's wet (because sometimes you have spontaneous thaws and everything gets all mucky and loads of water running everywhere), it's icy, it's never ending. For winter is the longest of all seasons, stealing from both fall and spring - and to be honest, spring in Atlantic Canada is ugly, cold, and miserable until the last 2-3 weeks of the season because of the recovery from winter. Because of all of this, most of my wardrobe, my makeup, my bath and body products, my recipes and basically everything I own and think about is geared toward winter. 

If you live in a place where there are well-defined seasons, you have little choice but to live your life with a seasonal spin. You have to swap things out when the weather changes. You have to have multiple coats and shoes/boots and different fabrics and different moisturizers and even different menus. I typically don't eat what I cook in the winter in the summer, for example, because of the wildly differing temperatures. 

This winter has been a return to the classic Atlantic Canadian winter after last year's incredibly mild winter, and in honour of the occasion, I've decided to talk about some of my very favourite winter things.

Heat Lamp

My parents bought me my heat lamp when I lived in the crappiest student apartment during undergrad. It mysteriously had no heat in the bedrooms, which my roommate and I of course discovered during a particularly brutal cold snap, well into our lease. We renewed for a second year because a) we're not smart; b) I challenge you to find not totally overpriced rentals in a university town where the student population (4500) almost equalled the town's population (5000); and c) we were across the street from campus which meant we were more likely to make it to our 8:15AM classes. And so my parents bought me a heat lamp so I could occasionally sit in my bedroom in the winter and not freeze to death.

Now that I live in real apartments with actual heat, I still find myself using the heat lamp because electric heat is expensive, but also because it provides a nice concentrated dose of heat. If you're cold a lot (like me), this is a much better way to warm up instead of cranking the heat.

Thick Moisturizer

Winter dries the hell out of my skin, plus my skin hasn't ever really adapted to moving back to New Brunswick, which is drier than the Nova Scotia homes of most of my adulthood. I was swayed to the hype of Haus of Gloi's pumpkin butter, which really is a thick, luxurious moisturizer that tends to keep me from feeling tight and flaky. I don't have overly dry skin even when suffering through winter, but I know that pumpkin butter is well-loved by even the driest of people.

I've also fallen in love with Mountain Madness Soap Co body butter. For all of its virtues, Haus of Gloi pumpkin butter does run on the greasy side and can take a while to sink in. The Mountain Madness body butter has a lovely thick texture and is equally luxurious, and much less greasy. It still take a few minutes to start sinking in, but I don't feel as slick while waiting.

Bonus shoutouts to my Lush Charity Pot lotion and Epically Epic solid lotion in Sprinkles for being excellent on-the-go blasts of moisture. For work, I've been using Sunsets and Seas hand and body lotion in Absence, but since that store is now closed, I'll be looking for an unscented alternative to keep in my desk. If you have any suggestions, let me know!


Wow, a librarian who drinks tea. How unexpected and novel! 

I also wear cardigans while engaging in this activity. If I had a cat, I'd be the perfect stereotype.

I do most of my tea drinking at work. I've been really enjoying Twinnings Irish Breakfast Tea lately, as well David's Tea Apple Cider tea. I take my tea with one sugar usually, though some mornings I'm more focused on throwing back the hot liquid because renovations in my library mean that I no longer have control of the thermostat and it's been cold in there.

Darker and Bolder Lipstick

I think my Instagram has made it pretty plain that I'm all about the brighter, more saturated colours this winter. Colourpop Let's Play has been getting a lot of wear, and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Wine With Everything (Creme) has also been a favourite. They both are just so bright and striking and happy for this cold, grey time of year. 

I also shift noticeably to the darker colours in my collection, like NARS Audacious in Audrey and Limnit What Lies Beneath. Darker colours fit better with heavier fabrics and big coats and boots.

Ice cream

Stay with me on this one. I know it's counter-intuitive. But ice cream is better in the winter. It's less likely to melt all over your hand. Eating something cold while it's cold feels more harmonious. While I don't actually eat ice cream anymore because of my lactose-intolerance, I've fallen completely in love with So Delicious Cashew vegan ice cream - the Salted Caramel Cluster and the Dark Chocolate Truffle are amazing. Totally indistinguishable from dairy ice cream, and probably the most delicious ice creams I've eaten in ages.

I'm also partial to a nice banana soft serve. You know, the one where you stick a frozen banana and some other stuff (cocoa, peanut butter, dark chocolate, vanilla, whatever) in a food processor and blend until like soft serve ice cream.

Cozy perfumes

In addition to reaching for darker lipsticks, I also reach for heavier perfumes. Haus of Gloi Cozy Sweater is a classic winter scent, smelling like a warm sweater straight from the dryer. Solstice Scents Outpost is a winter stomp in the woods, and Arcana This Is Not Canada is a warm evergreen scent. 

I also reach for warm gourmands, like Solstice Scents Lemon Ginger Creams (gingerbread with lemon cream - pretty true to its name), Smelly Yeti Cinnamon Bun (a fresh from the over cinnamon bun), and Arcana Cat's Whiskers (eggnog, waffles, a dash of bacon and a bit of mint).

Giant winter outerwear

A post shared by Alison (@scentsandseaspray) on

This is from last year, but it still stands.

Last year, I bought a new winter coat: a giant Columbia parka that goes down to my knees. While there are loads of posts floating around the internet that earnestly inform you that you can look cute in winter outerwear, I'm here to tell you that's total bullshit. The minute they mention "peacoat," yeah, fuck off. No woolen peacoat has ever kept anyone warm. Bundle up, look like a brightly coloured blob, and be warm and dry. Yes, my Sorels are clunky and unattractive, but my feet are dry and I can change my shoes once I get inside. No one is looking at my winter outerwear because they too are trying to remain warm and dry.

I think all Canadian teenagers go through this phase where they firmly believe that they can decide what to wear in the winter and they don't look like idiots wearing a thin fall jacket, sneakers while the snow is up to their waists, and forgoing hats and mittens. I too went through this phase. I tried to dress stylishly, or at least as stylishly as any teenager in New Brunswick could in the mid to late 2000s. And then I realized I was being an idiot and started wearing enormous scarves and big down coats.


I collect blankets. As I write this post, I am under a very soft, fuzzy grey one that my MIL gave me for Christmas 2015. In fact, it was used liberally in the background of photos for this post. I am sitting next to my coffee table, which is actually a chest filled with blankets of varying fabrics and weights, ready for all kinds of seasons. On my bed, I have a comforter, a pink fuzzy blanket I inherited from a friend who moved back to Bermuda post-university and no longer needed her stockpile of Canadian winter things, and a duvet. I love blankets. I use them all the time. 

And really, how can one get through winter without hunkering down under a blanket, opening up a bag of storm chips, and watching some Netflix or reading a new book? You can't.


  1. I love this post! And I'll have to check out that cashew ice cream. My mild lactose intolerance seems to get worse every year (which is not to say I've stopped eating dairy), but I've had a hard time finding non-dairy ice creams that aren't coconut-based. Nothing against coconut, but I have yet to try a coconut-milk ice cream that doesn't taste more like coconut than like its supposed flavor.

    I should really wear Let's Play more often. It's a beautiful lipstick, but it just feels Christmasy to me. I need to get over that.

    1. It is so good. It's exactly like dairy ice cream in texture, consistency, and no overpowering taste of the plant milk. Coconut is good, but sometimes I want to have chocolate ice cream, not coconut chocolate ice cream.

      My lactose-intolerance is getting worse, since I've switched to lactose-free milks and cheeses and yogurts, which my grocery store has started stocking. I've been considering dropping dairy altogether but I can't quite let go yet.

      And yes! Let's Play is so pretty and fun.

  2. I eat ice cream year round! I think it's our Canadian fortitude that allows us to do it...

    I love tea so much. Some days it's all I drink. I have a half litre travel mug from David's Tea that I use every day. It was a bit pricey, but I've had it for more than a year and I use it constantly.

    It's actually been quite a mild winter here! We just had a brief warm spell, but even before that it's only been a few degrees below freezing for the most part. When it gets to regular winter temperatures everyone is mad even though we really shouldn't complain... After several Montreal winters I have to say I'm pretty happy with this one. Personally I'm glad tomorrow is March, because February is my least favourite month and when we hit March spring is almost within grasp.

    1. It's been really warm here too this last week, and melted most of the snow. Butttt we have more coming tonight. And it will drop again soon.

      Ice cream is definitely a year round treat.


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