Friday, 23 May 2014

Top 11 Winter Tips

The blooms have all gone.  Face it.  Reality check: it's Winter!
So, despite the fact that I have early-cheer and daffodil blooms in my garden, and it feels a little like spring during the day, the calendar month tells me we are slap bang on Winter!  It's just nature being confused.  Freezing mornings and nights with a generous dose of balmy, ofttimes, short, hot and sunny days.  I used to always resent winter.  Even hated it.  Longed for summer to return.  I'm one of those solar-powered creatures that needs sunshine to springboard me into good mood, energized and buoyant.  I was always the miserable winter girl, rucked up with 6 layers, still shivering, pale, cowered and gloomy.  But 20 years on, I have learned to embrace the New Zealand winters with slender welcome, even looking forward to it for the joys it brings.  Fires.  Coats.  Boots (I am definitely a BOOT girl).  Soups and Stews (Love them!!! Such humble, nutritious peasant  food with big gourmet taste).  

We look forward to ordering our fire wood early February, ritually stacking it in preparation for the long winter ahead.  There's a thrill knowing that you can enjoy the last of summer while your wood lies in waiting.  As the mornings get colder, and darker, I have yet another ritual: I NEVER turn on electrical lights to illuminate my early morning meanders.  I switch on my solar powered torch and find my way safely downstairs to the kitchen, where I light a candle and a stick of incense to set the scene.  I do a little Tai Chi while waiting for the kettle to boil, then I take my coffee (organic) and sit in our massage chair.  The cat waits impatiently while this is all going on, and the moment I sit, she hops onto my lap and cuddles herself into a comma.  I receive purr therapy, a back massage and I meditate on the day's coming events till my coffee and massage is finished (usually 20 mins).  By this time, the day has brightened to reveal itself.  It's my cue to prepare for the day.  Post haste

It's little daily rituals like this that make winter totally bearable for me, and a few survival tactics I have developed over the years.

My top 11 Winter Survival Tips:
1.   Stay warm.  The humble hot water bottle, not only a sustainable source of bed-time heating, but also, so cosy and welcoming.  
2.  Put an extra blanket/cover on your bed.  This allows you to keep your windows open a smidgen, allowing fresh air supply while sleeping while the extra layer still keeps you warm.  The fresh air provides oxygen to invigorate us while sleeping, so we don't wake up feeling drowsy.
Naughty little Shanti-Lal!  I found her huddled in this small basket on my kitchen counter (filled with potatoes) !
She is definitely not allowed on tables or kitchen counters, but had to snap a pic before shooing her out!!

3.   Soups and stews are a great winter standby.  Economical and sustaining.  Herbs from the garden elevate an ordinary dish into something special.
Ripening bunch of bananas, ready for winter snacking

4.  Herb teas are great to warm the body and boost the immune system.  Lemon and honey, bay leaf (boil 5-6 leaves in 2 cups of water and sweeten with honey), lemongrass (same as previous, simply chop up a thick stem of lemongrass, can use the top bit of leaf as well) or whatever is left in the herb garden.  Why not try rosemary tea?

Freeze soft fruits in ice cube trays for adding to smoothies or fruit juices 
5.  It's a good time to used up all the herbs from the garden that won't survive the winter and prepare pestos; coriander, parsley or basil.  I use a basic reicpe which seems to work well.  Blend one or two hands-ful brazil nuts, then add 2-3cups herb leaves, blitz, adding half or more cupful of olive oil.  A twist of salt and 1 Tbspn lemon juice.

The wonder of a banana flower-fruit

6.  Merino thermals are the BEST!!  After wearing horrid polypropylene from outdoor camping shops for the first 10-15 years of being in New Zealand, I bought my first merino wear from opp shops ($4-$6).  What a life-changing experience.  They keep you warm and winter becomes a bearable, pleasant season!
A field of Van Gogh sunshine!!

7.  Fruit salads.  I know that sounds contra to common sense.  Fruit salad is normally associated with summer but there is so much fruit available heading into winter.  Feijoa scragglers, guavas, persimmons, apples, bananas and yaccon etc.  I also add sliced dates, cinnamon and puree from pre-preserved fruits.  Deliciously immune boosting food.  Throw in a few juiced ice cubes to add flavour.
Food, glorious fruit!

Autumn Delights creep into winter

8.  Make a list of house maintenance chores that you never got to do in summer as you were too busy in the garden or on the beach!  Winter is a great time to catch up on those chores like painting indoor areas etc.  I find winter is also great for starting a project - paint a picture, sew or create something new out of something old.  Project yourself......
Buttery nuts for our soups and stews

9.  Purchase or sew a fat drought excluder for doors that don't seal too well.  I used an old pair of Mike's corduroy pants, stuffed it with an old pillow inner, added half a cup of barley rice and sewed it into segments.  Sits squarely on the ground, against front doors to exclude sneaky breezes.
Brassicas - good winter garden staples.  This is a purple broccoli.

10.  A good read can help keep the winter blues away.  Nothing better than going to bed early with a good book and cuddling up to your hot water bottle!  Bliss.

11.  I stock up on winter remedies so that I have a ready supply before I will even need it.  Propolis throat spray, propolis/honey lozenges or sage lozenges, ear candles (to relieve nasal congestion),  essential oils for burning or massage (eucalyptus - decongestant; tea tree - anti-viral and immune stimulant; lavender - antiseptic, calming, headaches; lemon -antiviral, immune-stimulant and expectorant; cedar - promotes oxygenation at cellular level; citronella -decongestant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, colds and flu)
Take cues from cats - they sleep twice as much when it is cold.  Ours sleeps all day and night. Winter or Summer.   Period.   ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

We have just had a HelpXChange couple for a week, what a great experience.  Our first introduction into Vegan Raw Foodism.  They shared many of their raw food recipes, some of which I will definitely be trying to emulate later on.  Wow, there's some crazee-good raw desserts out there!!  Bring on theYum Factor!

The Great Whites do sleep in winter.  Yay!

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