Cold Outside? Ways to Warm Up When Temperatures Dip

It’s freezing outside now in certain parts of the country. It’s even cold inside for those of us who don’t warm up quickly, so we bundle up wearing a heavy sweater and even ensconce ourselves in a blanket, a scarf and heavy socks. Some of us layer in multiple layers.

On days like this, we feel like cocooning, perhaps curling up with a book and by a fireplace; if only we had one. How about a good soup cookbook at a time when cold temperatures produce warm, heartier cravings. It’s a great opportunity to read recipes and beef up your hot food repertoire.

Staying warm in winter, whether indoors or outside, can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make it fun and even palatable.

Here’s our list:

If you like to walk outdoors all year long, it’s time to buy better winter clothing. Wear several layers such as the extra warm tops and tights from Uniqlo, the Japanese manufacturer. You might choose mittens instead of gloves. Clustering the fingers together insulates body heat. Don’t forgot your head too…wear a hat. Heat escapes upward and you want to contain it to stay warmer. Keep your torso insulated too. It often keeps your arms, legs, hands and feet warm.

Invest in good boots. Rugged mountaineering boots that help prevent falls; Uggs are warm and comfortable.

Stay dry. Invest in a synthetic moisture-wicking (the process of moving moisture away from your skin during any physical activity) layer such as anything that’s wool or water-resistant snow pants.

Talk to yourself if you’re freezing and the wind is howling. Instead of complaining “in your brain” about  how cold you are, simply accept the reality that it’s really cold. It can make a world of difference. If you own a car, invest in the app that allows you to turn on the car before you enter so it can be a bit warmer. Count the months or days until spring though when older we don’t want to wish away time. Or put up a picture by your desk or on your refrigerator of a great spring or summer scene.

Move to Florida or someplace warm and don’t travel anywhere cold or north during the winter or rent for a few months if you can. Or take a short vacation somewhere warm.

Cook. Using the oven will help keep your kitchen and surroundings warm but don’t use the oven to heat your home. How delicious to pop a hot cookie or freshly-made slice of warm banana bread into your mouth on a cold afternoon. Make a casserole with macaroni and cheese for supper. Make hot soup or a hearty stew to warm your insides. Let your ideas simmer with a good soup. There’s always the old standby, chicken soup made with matzoh balls, rice or noodles or all three and some carrots and celery. It’s good for what ails you. Or, try making a hearty chicken stew, beef Bourgogne or traditional beef stew offering you a hot time in the cold town tonight! Moreover, leftovers can be frozen.

Move around. Standing still, like waiting for a bus or cab, makes you even colder. Walk back and forth. Jump rope, walk up and down stairs in a house or walk the hallways in an apartment. You need your body to produce heat in any way it can by staying in motion.

Get a space heater if you’re cold in your home. Put it at least a yard or more away from you to stay toasty. And remember always to turn it off before you go to sleep or outside.

Wear two pairs of socks, preferably wool, when you go out to keep your feet warm. Doing so will also make your feel warmer all over.

Take a hot shower to warm your body temperature. Take a hot bath with bubbles and soak away.

Have a stiff drink of whiskey, wine or brandy to warm you up.   

Start a jigsaw puzzle or learn bridge or another indoor activity. Have room for a ping-pong table; why not! Winter is a great time to update all your passwords and keep one organized list.

Have a hot drink. What about hot cider with a little Armagnac thrown in the mix, or a cup of really good hot chocolate (recipe below)? Add a dollop of whipped cream or a couple of marshmallows—or both. How about a hot cup of tea, which they’re constantly drinking on all the British TV shows we watch. Drinking it from a pretty mug or teacup makes the exercise so much more delicious. Add a homemade scone and add some clotted cream or half and half and maybe fresh berries and put your cold feet up.

Read a book with a good winter scene. Barbara loves Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. Margaret, the old movies movie buff, likes to watch Sonja Henning movies. She was a Norwegian figure skater and film star,  famous on screen in the 1930s and 40s.

Find an outdoor activity you might like such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing or ice skating.

Here is our recipe for the absolute best, richest and creamiest cup of hot cocoa.


3 tablespoons Dutch-processed non-sweetened cocoa powder (we like Scharffen Berger)

3 cups of half and half (can use whole milk if worried about calories and cholesterol)

6 ounces of semisweet chocolate (again we like either Scharffen Berger or Guittard)

3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Whipped cream or marshmallows for topping


  1. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Stir constantly to avoid burning and to eliminate lumps.
  2. Add milk and simmer.
  3. Whisk in the semisweet chocolate and sugar. Cook and stir frequently until it’s smooth, creamy and the chocolate is completely melted. Do not allow the concoction to boil. It could burn.

Take advantage of cold storage and shipping. Capitalize on nature’s freezer to keep food fresh. Cold weather, as we all know, is the best time to ship wine and chocolates or any food items, including pastries. The contents won’t spoil or melt. And not having to ship in a pricey cold pack saves money. If you have an outside space and have used up space in your freezer, which often happens during holiday time, keep your food frozen by putting it outside, preferably on a screened porch or balcony. 

Don’t fight the cold. It can be fun if you make a snowman, angels in the snow or have snowball fights. Doing any of these activities, donning the right outerwear, will burn calories and keep you in good shape without thinking brrr.

1 comment

  • Marty

    Jump rope? I dare you…

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