As I write this, there's an ice storm out, and we aren't going anywhere, thanks to my home's location at the top of a big hill. It's cold. It's dark. It's winter. So my kids and I are making a list of ways to survive the season to share with you, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation:
1. Knit something. I can't knit, but I tell you my teenager is a wiz at it. She learned it from a friend, knitting magazines, and videos on YouTube. She is so good she can watch TV, text her boyfriend, and knit at the same time. I prefer needlepoint, which works too.
2. Play solitaire with real cards, in a group if you have one. We love group solitaire so much that we actually have family tournaments. It can get quite loud and overwhelming. Basically, you play your own hand, but then you can put your cards out on anyone else's aces. First one out of cards wins, or the person with the least cards remaining wins.
3. Plan a trip. A nice looooonggg trip. To someplace warm. Planning a trip is best when you do tons of research, and winter is the perfect time to do research.
4. Pick a new TV series and watch every episode back-to-back. My favorite TV shows (which I watch on Video on Demand) are Masters of Sex and The Affair, which just won a Golden Globe for best TV show!
5. Start reading those books you've always wanted to read. Pick a classic, or a romance series, or a nonfiction how-to. Just choose something riveting and fun.
6. Build a fire. Inside or outside. It will warm your soul. Don't do this one if you live in a place where a fire could lead to a wildfire, of course. And if that's the case, light a candle instead.
7. Learn to cook something new, and then eat it. I am working on a good Steak au Poivre that tastes like the one I had at the Hyde Park Hotel in 1977 while in London on business with my mother. When I get it just right, I'll blog about it. In the meantime, it's yummy trying.
8. Sleep. Hibernation is a natural activity. Don't fight nature.
9. Play some board games or do a puzzle. Our current house games are Settlers of Catan, (otherwise known as Prisoners of Catan by me). Then there is this train game called Ticket to Ride, which is fun because it teaches geography. And there's a puzzle half done, left over from Christmas, that might never get done, except it will. It will. I've heard rumors that Cards Against Humanity is fun, but with an 8-year-old in the house I don't think I want to explain what "penis breath" is. I know that's in it because I saw it mentioned on Facebook.
10. Decide to write a novel, or become a poet, or write a letter to someone. Winter is the perfect time to write. So if you're already a writer, write more. If you're not a writer yet, you can get started. Get a journal or start with a blank document, and just have fun! You might be surprised with what comes out. And at the very least, you will leave a record of something for someone to find. I always love those stories of the importance of the journals women from history kept. Sometimes the things that seem the most mundane leave the most important clues for future historians.
Good luck. Rest easy, spring will be here eventually.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com