Five Favorite Winter Activities

Happy Friday! It's time to link up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What. Thanks to these fabulous ladies for hosting such a fun linkup and for providing the topics in advance!

Winter doesn't officially start until December 21, but it already feels like it's here. While winter has its challenges, there's something so peaceful about it, as if the world is holding its breath until spring, and it has its own unique beauty. (Note to self: I need to remember this in March, when I'm sick of winter and ready for it to be over!) Here are the things I love to do in winter.

1. Hiking. A fall favorite, hiking is really fun in the snow! My dog likes cold weather too, so winter is a great time for us to go on short, local hikes. Hiking in snow is a really good workout too, and I love coming into a warm house after being out in the cold and enjoying a cup of hot tea.

Hiking in McConnell's Mill Park the winter before we got Django (hence, no dog).
2. Running. Another favorite fall activity, running is also awesome in winter. I really like running in cold weather, which is good because the treadmill I can use at the gym has a 30-minute time limit so I rarely use it. I find that I can run outside all winter. Even when it's icy I can usually find routes with cleared sidewalks. And I'm used to running in the dark because I usually run early in the morning. As for the cold, I have lots of gear and clothes to help me stay warm and dry. I love the feeling of cold air when I get hot from running, and I also love to be outside and enjoying the beauty of another season.
2013 Turkey Trot, 18 degrees.

3. Baking and Cooking. In summer, I tend to graze on fresh fruits and veggies and don't cook a lot, but come winter I want to break out my cookbooks and spend the weekend trying new recipes along with favorites. A few years ago, I challenged myself to not buy any packaged food (except tofu and soy milk) and instead make everything from scratch. It was so much fun, but my husband was confused about why I wouldn't just buy ketchup, ha ha. While it was fun, it did take pretty much all my time so I'm finding more of a balance between cooking and other things these days. I especially love cooking soups, roasting veggies, and making casseroles and curries in winter. And the season really kicks off with my Christmas cookie baking, which I started last weekend. Every year I try to make 12 different kinds, but by about 10 I get so sick of baking I never want to see a cookie again (which is actually a great strategy to avoid temptations during the holidays!) This year, I'm going to make fewer cookies and also make a seasoned nut mix for a healthier option. I give them away as gifts.

Planning out what recipes to make.
Baking cupcakes.

4. Cleaning and organizing closets. Is there anything more gratifying than cleaning out a messy closet and organizing it? I just feel better with clean, organized closets, but I rarely want to devote time to such a time-intensive activity. But when the weather turns so frightful that I don't want to be outside for very long, it's the perfect time to give my closets some love. This winter I'm tackling my bedroom closet and dresser drawers.
Vertically stacked workout tanks and tops I organized this past summer are still organized.
On to regular clothes next!

5. Reading and napping with my cats. Spending an afternoon reading a book and taking a nap are two things I love but would never do on a nice summer or fall day, when I want to be outside. It somehow feels more special and even luxurious to curl up under lots of blankets with my cats on me, read a book until I get drowsy, and then fall into a nice, deep sleep with snow falling outside my windows. Ah, I'm definitely looking forward to that!
Elsie and Rasputin napping together.
 What do you like to do in winter?

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