Tips for staying warm as temperatures dive down
Autumn may have officially begun a few weeks ago, but the temperature is finally falling for good, and Washington University students are settling into their routines of Canada Goose jackets and steaming-hot chai lattes. Whether this will be your first winter in a climate where snow actually exists or you’re just looking for more ways to live your life burrito-rolled into a blanket as much of the time as possible, here are my tips to ensure that your October is super cozy.
There’s almost nothing more satisfying than tucking into a hot meal in midwinter (or, uh, in mid-October), especially when you’ve made it yourself. If you’re living in a dorm, you may have limited-at-best access to cooking equipment, but your culinary aspirations shouldn’t be squashed by the mere obstacle of sparse supplies. Crowdsource measuring cups and frying pans from resident advisers, or borrow them from your more culinarily-inclined friends.
Soups, stews and oven-baked pastas are wonderfully hearty dishes that require minimal measuring or fancy equipment: Simply chop up some veggies, boil some pasta, toss in some spices, like you’re a mouse fixing a disastrous soup in a struggling French restaurant kitchen, and saute, simmer and stir.
Pair your home-cooked comfort food with stovetop hot cocoa for the ultimate cozy meal. It’s seriously easy to make, and eons better than that watery packet-of-powder-based nonsense.
Stovetop hot cocoa recipe
Prep time: 10 min
Total time: 10 min
1. Warm 2 cups of coconut milk in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
2. When the milk reaches a simmer (when it’s bubbling a little bit but not aggressively), stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until sugar and cocoa are fully dissolved.
3. To add spice, sprinkle in some cinnamon or cayenne pepper (optional).
4. Turn off the stove, pour hot cocoa into two festive mugs, and enjoy!
Know your snow
Snow may have a cozy image—especially when it’s falling at dusk, viewed through a frosted pane-glass window, preferably while you’re sipping a mug of warm apple cider—but the reality of slipping on a patch of black ice and falling on your butt, bruising your tailbone and soaking your jeans in the process? Definitely not cozy. Make sure you’re prepared for snow’s potentially vicious consequences, which extend beyond the accompanying frosty temperatures and the ever-present threat of a snowball attack. Waterproof shoes with rubber soles and good traction are a necessity. If you’re unfamiliar with driving or biking in the snow, exercise caution: The thin layer of water that forms between this wet surface and your tires (or skates) can lead to a major wipeout, like one experienced by a novice hockey player.
Likewise, educate yourself on standard snow terminology and removal techniques. Black ice is a thin, translucent layer of solid danger that often occurs on paved parking lots; it’s not a “shiny puddle.” The coarse white granules you see scattered on sidewalks and roads are not snowflakes—they’re salt crystals, used to melt the snow more rapidly by lowering its freezing point. These points might be overly obvious to the solid one-third of Wash. U. that hails from Chicago, but I know there’s at least one first-year student out there who needs this crucial information—as evidence by a Californian friend of mine who really thought that road salt was snow.
The key to cold-weather style is layering, and layering has many benefits. Aside from the inherent warmth, wearing four layers of clothing means you can sport a chic coat as an outfit topper, and no one will know that you have a shapeless, frumpy fleecy sweater underneath. For socks and base garments, aim for natural fabrics or moisture-wicking synthetics that will keep you warm but not sweaty.
Luckily, cozy fashion is en vogue, too: Huge blanket scarves and fuzzy sweaters keep you feeling like you’re still cocooned under the covers in bed, and they’re stylish to boot.
On the other hand, abandoning all pretense of fah-shun results in the ultimate payoff of coziness. During my freshman year at Wash. U. I purchased a Snuggie, and it was truly one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Laying on the couch or the floor, frantically typing a last-minute midterm paper (or newspaper article) while swaddled in a warm, protective layer of bright blue fleece is a feeling like no other.