Summer is by far my favourite time of year - I love the light evenings, heavenly al-fresco lunches, the warm sunshine on my skin, and just the feeling of being free as we open the windows to our homes and let the fresh air in.
When the clocks go back and Summer sadly says goodbye, I often feel a sinking feeling and begin immediately counting down the months until Spring. As someone who loves life and tries to live in the moment, I know what a waste of time this is.
This year has been challenging for us all - we have had to deal with unimaginable change and stress. One thing I’ve learned through all of this is the importance of making the best of things. What can I do to have more happy moments and decrease my stress? Doing this has meant that I have managed to endure lockdown and not let this year be a complete waste. And so, I have decided to do exactly the same for this new season and the dark, cold months ahead as we go into Winter.
I am going to share with you all the ways you can make your home your sanctuary this Winter - a place where you can hibernate in total happiness and comfort, even if you are counting down the days until Spring!
1 - PAINT YOUR LIGHTBULBS
This may seem like a strange thing to do, but hear me out! In the winter I want my sitting room to exude a warm, inviting glow, and lighting is key to this. I buy small tester pots of paint, and paint my bulbs. This is a really easy way to soften any harsh light and manipulate the glow in your room. Try to stick to warm yellows and creams - if you go too dark, the room may look gloomy and we definitely do not want that. My favourite choice is Dayroom Yellow by Farrow and Ball which gives a very soft, natural glow and warms the whole room.
(Disclaimer - I have been painting my light-bulbs for ten years and have found it to be completely safe and effective, however I cannot be held responsible for any health and safety incidents that occur as a result of you painting your light-bulbs.)
2 - BLANKETS, THROWS, RUGS, AND CUSHIONS
It’s always nice to change up the decor with a new season - an easy and inexpensive way to do this is with blankets, throws, rugs and cushions. You will be surprised how these extra layers in the room help it to feel more warm and inviting. If you are afraid to use colour and pattern in your room this is also a great way to step out of your comfort zone and try a colour or print that you wouldn’t normally choose, without making a permanent change.
When it comes to rugs, most people think they are only for rooms with hard flooring. I also love adding rugs to carpeted rooms to give an extra layer of interest and comfort.
3 - HOME FRAGRANCE
I love a scented candle at any time of year, but during Winter I feel they are more important than ever. There is nothing nicer than being settled in for an evening at home with a beautiful candle flickering away and giving off a glorious scent.
During the Spring and Summer I choose candles that smell clean and fresh, however in the Winter I want comfort and one of my favourites is Log Fires by Jo Loves.
4 - COOKING, BAKING, FOOD, AND DRINK
Food and Drink is one of our greatest pleasures and is a wonderful way to spend your time at home during the winter.
During the lockdown we all became avid bakers. Banana bread anyone? In the winter I find that I bake more than ever before - it is such a lovely way to cosy-up your home and fill it with the heavenly aroma of something delicious.
If you are working from home because of a lockdown, make cooking part of your day. Take a good hour for lunch and cook a soup from scratch. Not only will it help you to relax, it will also warm you and your home.
Taking the time to cook a delicious meal and set the table Is a real pleasure and helps me get through the long, Winter months. Although we can no longer have our friends over for a dinner party, you can still make every evening an occasion for you and your family. Set the table with all of your lovely things - you will feel so happy to see them out of the cupboards and being used.
Now that our bellies are full and satisfied, let’s think about a good drink! A Winter cocktail is a really fun way to relax and wind-down after a long week. Here is a delicious and simple cocktail you can try for yourself.
Cinnamon Bourbon Old Fashioned with Brûléed Oranges
1/3 cup Maple syrup
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 thin orange slice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1 dash orange bitters
1-2 ounces (2-4 tablespoons) cinnamon syrup
sparkling water, for topping (optional)
cinnamon stick and fresh rosemary, for serving (optional)
1. In a medium pot, bring 1/3 cup water, the maple syrup, rosemary, and cinnamon to a boil. Boil 3-5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let cool. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
1. To make the brûléed oranges, sprinkle one side of each orange slice with sugar. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Place the orange slices, sugar side down, in the skillet and sear for 2-3 minutes, until lightly caramelized. Remove from pan and let cool.
2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, orange juice, orange bitters, and 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon syrup. Shake to combine.
3. Strain into a glass. If desired top with sparkling water. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, rosemary, and a brûléed orange slice.
Recipe courtesy of HALF BAKED HARVEST
5 - BOOKS
I hardly read during the Summer months. I am just too busy enjoying the outdoors and making the most of the warmer weather and find it really hard to settle down and focus on reading a book. For me, Winter is the perfect time to get stuck in to a pile of books that I’ve been looking forward to for some time.
As well as buying new books, I also love going through the ones I already have and re-reading them too. Is there anything nicer than being at home in the evening with a roaring fire, a cosy blanket, hot cup of tea and a good book?
6 - GET CRAFTY
Winter is the perfect time to embrace a new hobby or skill. I always find that I do a lot of art and crafts during this season as it takes my mind off the dark nights and gloomy weather and makes me feel like I’m achieving something. One of my favourite things to do is paint furniture. It is so easy to do and gives my home a mini-makeover during the winter months.
I have always wanted to decorate a doll house, and this Winter I’m planning to finally get started and give it a go. Think about something you’ve always wanted to try and actually make a plan to get to it.