Saturday, January 11, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Warming Trend

Photo by David Monniaux (Wikimedia Commons)
by Peggy Robin

Just as the cold snap has abated, I have my list of tips for keeping warm. Even though it will be in the mid-40s and sunny by tomorrow, and a positively balmy mid-50-degree day on Monday, we certainly have not seen the last of the arctic blasts of winter -- so these tips may yet come in handy this year. And if not later this winter, there are always more winters to come.

The first thing you want to do when you wake up on a bitterly cold morning is jump into hot shower. But eventually you will have to step out of that shower, and the air will feel cold. Not if you can wrap yourself in a toasty warm towel. A heated towel rack is the best bathroom appliance since the invention of the flush toilet, and you could have one from plugged in just outside your shower a couple of days after you order, for about 85 bucks: Or you could go with a heated cabinet or basket for your towels, which would do the trick just as well for a mere $33:

If you must go out in subfreezing weather, you do know that layering up is way to save body heat?(Google it, and that’s what comes up first, every time.) Sock liners are the most neglected layer: protect your feet first, because (duh) that’s the part closest to the frozen ground. Polypropylene liners are designed for most efficient heat conservation, and they’re only $6 (see ... but nothing feels better than silk: (although at $9.50 a pair, it’s half again as much as the synthetic). The other vulnerable points are your fingers, ears, and nose. A well wrapped scarf can shield your face, but don’t rely on it to protect your ears. You are better off with a hat with earflaps designed for that specific purpose (no matter how silly you think it looks - see When it comes to your fingers, bunch them together in mittens. Don’t want to lose manual dexterity? Get mittens with finger openings, like this:  Don’t want to expose your fingers to frostbite? Wear glove liners under your mittens. In Thermasilk: Or you could get gloves sensitive enough to work on touchscreens:

Still have cold hands? There are all kinds of hand warmers. There are chemical warmers for one-time use, or microwaveable, reusable warmers, as well as battery-powered ones. (Many types are here: I stood in the 19 degree cold for hours upon hours during the Obama inauguration in 2009, with my fingers sometimes too hot(!) from the fire of my chemical hand warmers.

At the end of the day, when you are ready to curl up in your bed, there are those who like an electric blanket. I’m more of a quilt person myself; I’m too much of a princess-and-pea sleeper, always feeling those stiff electric wires running through the underside of the blanket, no matter how seamlessly they are supposed to be embedded in the fleece. But to warm any bed, chair or sofa quickly, I’m happy to lay a heating pad down on it ahead of time and create a nice little hot spot.  

Of course, electric devices can’t do everything. Nothing beats a nice cup of hot chocolate on a frosty day. If you have a Keurig coffee maker, you can have one in under a minute by just popping in one of those Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate K-cups. But all you really need is a teakettle and a packet of instant hot chocolate from Swiss Miss. I like the Diet Swiss Miss -- it’s just 25 calories, and after I’ve topped it with a foamy spray of whipped cream (lite) from a can, or I’ve thrown in a marshmallow or two, I can close my eyes and imagine I’m in a ski lodge in Idaho in front of a blazing log fire, and I’ve just paid $7 for the mugful of warmth.  


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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