5 Winter Pleasures

Winter has a certain beauty in its austere color palette and the way it slows down life to a bare simmer. Yet, weeks of overcast skies and cold weather can leave one listless and longing for warmth and sunshine. The Belgian winter is almost uniformly grey and damp, with hardly any snow days to remind me of the season’s more exquisite aspects. And yet I wouldn’t trade these three months for any other. Winter’s pleasures more than make up for the late sunrises and heavy layers of clothes.

Big Books

I’m not intimidated by big books. They hold many hours of reading enjoyment. They tempt me with their promise of new facts to learn and new experiences to discover. Such books aren’t satisfying to read on Kindle. I love the heft of a thick volume as I ensconce myself in my favorite bean bag chair. I seem to have more time for reading during the winter, which is why one of my seasonal pleasures is to go through all of the thick volumes that I’ve set my sights on. For instance, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Iryna Vilde’s Sisters Richynski, Charles Dickens’s The Bleak House, Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia, and the letters exchanged by Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. Finishing Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, In Search of Lost Time, is my plan for this winter.

Oranges

Citrus makes up for any weather shortcomings. I bring home bags of blood oranges, grapefruit, and clementines. I tuck a mandarin into my purse, both as an anytime snack as well as an instant fragrant booster. There is particular pleasure in scratching its skin and inhaling the fragrance of orange blossom and bitter caramel.

Finally, winter is the season for one of my favorite citrus of all, Seville or bitter orange. I use it instead of lemons in salad dressings, soups, sauces, desserts and drinks. This is the time of year I make my orange flavored salt and sugar to last until the next winter.

Wearing citrus colognes is another winter pleasure I look forward to every time.

Museums

I would spend every day in a museum, if I could, but in wintery Brussels, grey and rainy, they hold a particular appeal. They also tend to be less crowded on weekdays or early on the weekends, and I can admire Brueghel’s winter scenes surrounded by the peculiar white noise of a museum—stifled coughs, distant steps, and the occasional click of a camera. That most museums in the Belgian capital have Michelin starred restaurants is an added bonus.

Perfumed Scarves

The way I wear perfume changes in winter. I perfume not my skin but my layers and especially scarves. It makes for a more intimate and more poignant experience of a scent, and the way it develops on fabric is different from skin. The development slows down, letting you savor the top notes longer and receive the enjoyment of the drydown the next day. On a scarf you can discover that Annick Goutal Sables hides a caramelized hazelnut note in its sandalwood and immortelle accord, that Guerain Chamade has a raspberry accent and that Caron Nuit de Noël smells like roasted chestnuts.

Hot Chocolate Anytime

When would I have a hot chocolate for breakfast if not in winter? I make mine dark and intense, using a Pierre Hermé recipe that I found years ago in one of his cookbooks.

To make 4 cups, mix 1 1/2 cups of milk with 1 1/2 cup water, 1/4c (28g) cocoa powder, ¼ c sugar and bring to boil. Mix and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add 100g dark, bitter chocolate (70% cocoa or more) and stir vigorously to make it all dissolve and become homogenized.

You can change the proportions to suit your own taste. You can add spices like cardamom, cinnamon or vanilla. You can top your cup with whipped cream. You can spike it with cognac (perhaps not at breakfast, although it does depend on what will follow later). If, unlike me, you’re a sensible person and you don’t drink all of the portion in one go, keep it in the fridge and reheat whenever a craving strikes.

What are your winter pleasures? What do you do to make the cold days more bearable?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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77 Comments

  • Klaas Backx: I happen to live in one of the worlds most beautiful city’s (Amsterdam), and winter nights are perfect for a stroll around the historic canals. The streets are usually empty (which is never the case during the day as the city is truely overcrowded) and the houses are beautifully lit up. It looks like a movie set sometimes, and snow (which rarely happens any more, like in Brussels) is an added bonus!

    Other winter treats are the (movie)theatre, the opera, ginger tea and cashmere scarves. And skateing of course, if the weather allows it! January 18, 2019 at 7:50am Reply

    • Klaas: Oh, and baking of course! Bundt cake with prunes & brandy this weekend 😉 January 18, 2019 at 9:22am Reply

      • Victoria: That sounds perfect! I’m eyeing the recipe for a sour cherry and sherry cake from Suqar, Greg Malouf’s new cookbook. January 21, 2019 at 7:15am Reply

        • Klaas Backx: Sour cherry and sherry, that’s a dynamite combo! My recipe was from Ottolenghi… January 21, 2019 at 7:20am Reply

          • Victoria: And of course, prune and cognac/brandy/Armagnac would also be a great combo. Are you using the recipe from his book Sweet or from his Guardian column? January 21, 2019 at 7:34am Reply

            • Klaas: I’m using the ‘Sweet’ recipe. It’s such a great book! I made it yesterday for my neighbours and it was a great success! (each year we celebrate the new year with a massive cheese fondue, I had desert-duty this year!) January 21, 2019 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: It hardly ever snows, especially in the past couple of years. Six years ago I remember how beautiful Brussels would look in winter. Still, all of your winter activities are just as enjoyable whatever the weather. January 21, 2019 at 7:11am Reply

  • rosarita: What lovely pleasures you name, V! Here in the lower Great Lakes of the US, we have had a mild and snowless winter until this week, and are anticipating a major snowfall this weekend, yay! I grew up here and have always loved winter despite it’s inconveniences: blue shadows on snow; drinking hot chocolate with or without a friend behind the mullioned windows of the little vintage “candy kitchen” of my little town; the fairyland of icy trees on a bitter cold morning. We also have weeks of gray skies and I wear my biggest, heaviest perfumes, cosy up in thick sweaters and cook pots and pots of soups; through my treasure trove of vintage jewelry from beloved relatives that’s not worth much but holds memories and necessary sparkle; scroll thru my beautiful art and nature Pinterest boards; read real books, have a bourbon and ginger ale or peppermint schnapps in my cocoa; watch old movies. Thanks for the opportunity to think all this out 😊 January 18, 2019 at 8:00am Reply

    • Gretchen: Rosarita – I’m moving in with you! We seem to have nearly the same loves for winter. I grew up in that area (with time also in the Seattle area, and college in the NE), and winter is my favorite. Add reading, knitting, and daydreaming, and our days and evenings mirror one another! Layered in orientals or incense or orange blossom perfumes, and the day is perfected. January 18, 2019 at 1:53pm Reply

      • rosarita: You made my day 😍 January 20, 2019 at 3:00pm Reply

    • Mel: Sheer bliss! January 20, 2019 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure, I’m not the only person who was tempted by your descriptions. 🙂 January 21, 2019 at 7:12am Reply

  • Carla: There’s a certain ceremony in picking up a big book to read, isn’t there?
    I love a hot chocolate treat. I always think of the small indie film « Deja Vu » when I have a hot chocolate at a coffee shop. There’s a scene in the beginning when they share one together. It was one of my favorite movies when I was younger.
    Noting the lengthening days is a real winter pleasure for me at this point! January 18, 2019 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, yes, the lengthening days are a bonus. Although I don’t mind dark mornings, because it makes me feel like these early hours last longer. Morning is my precious time for writing. January 21, 2019 at 7:13am Reply

  • Carla: And, reading this I am back at that main Brussels museum near the Sablon looking at the fascinating Brueghels! I wish I could go again!
    And (again), for years I have had hot water and fresh grapefruit juice in the winter, a version of that hot water and lemon tonic that I prefer. I usually have some later in the day when I feel I am reaching my hot tea and hot coffee quota.
    Thanks for this wonderful blog, I love sharing! It’s the only blog I comment on! January 18, 2019 at 8:51am Reply

    • Anne: A grapefruit tonic would be sooooo good right now. Loving this blog and all of the comments here. Have a nice weekend! January 18, 2019 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Carla! January 21, 2019 at 7:14am Reply

  • Matty: I love this blog. Museums and art galleries in the winter less crowded so a pleasure to visit. Hot chocolate always welcome XX January 18, 2019 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! There is never a wrong moment for chocolate. January 21, 2019 at 7:16am Reply

  • MJ: Winter in Barcelona is not terribly cold and very, very rarely snows, however, there’re a few activities that I feel are more winter appropriate than others like:
    – Baking with my kids, particulary cookies
    – going out for “merienda” (merienda is a late afternoon snack). Winter time is the best time to have chocolate con churros as merienda.
    – Knitting. In fact, I knit all year round, but it seems to me I got more done during winter.
    – Drinking Chai tea with milk and honey
    – Wearing Kenzo Jungle. It smells like chai and feels as plush as a cashmere skein.
    January 18, 2019 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Kenzo Jungle is the ultimate winter perfume for me. I enjoy it all year round, but I can’t wear it that easily on a hot day. January 21, 2019 at 7:16am Reply

  • Ariadne: Poking around a huge antique store for hours (Lots of things in them to study and smell for sure), all the while wearing Ungaro’s Diva, which dear hubby says he can smell even aisles apart and hidden by rows of huge armoirs and glass cases. January 18, 2019 at 9:45am Reply

  • Tara C: Reading books by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, snuggled up with the dog. Wearing my cashmere sweaters, big coats and furry boots with my big oriental perfumes. Looking outside after a big snowstorm and enjoying the pristine whiteness and the hushed silence with no cars driving by. January 18, 2019 at 11:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds so idyllic, Tara! January 21, 2019 at 7:17am Reply

  • katt: I love citrus scents in winter – such a pick-me up. I store up on oranges since they hard to come by around here during summer (especially organic ones). I freeze zest and juice for flavoring cookies and puddings.
    Cozy reading is another favorite. Cushions and blankets and a warm cup of tea – so lovely.
    As for outdoors: still trying to catch a frozen soap-bubble on camera. It’s one thing to look forward to as soon as the weather forecast talks about a cold-snap. January 18, 2019 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: One might as well make the best of cold weather, right? January 21, 2019 at 7:18am Reply

  • Chloe: Winter, for me, is a time to slow down and take more notice of the small things. I too find pleasure in books, oranges, museums, and hot chocolate, as well as candles and large woolen sweaters, for both their comfort and sensuality. There is nothing better than feeling warm and cozy during the winter. But living in Canada and in Norway has also taught me to appreciate the outdoors, especially when there is a lot of snow. I do love going out for a brisk walk or snowshoe — feeling the cold on my cheeks, hearing the crunch of snow under my boots, spotting wildlife tracks here and there in the forest, inhaling the sharp smell of pine and the crisp winter wind. And then, once back inside, esconcing myself in a pile of blankets and digging into a good book, with a mug of good hot chocolate 😌 January 18, 2019 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great observation on the beauty of the outdoors in winter. It’s true, I tend to think more inside–warm places, fireplace, blankets, but there is something enchanting and unrivaled about a walk in a cold, frozen park or seeing the frozen surface of the lake. You’ve inspired me to resume my running in the park. January 21, 2019 at 7:19am Reply

  • Nina Zolotow: Have you been to the MILLENNIUM ICONOCLAST MUSEUM OF ART? What a special place. The upstairs room with the fake lawn and lawn chairs would be sure to brighten a Belgian winter’s day. January 18, 2019 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, but I must go. January 21, 2019 at 7:19am Reply

  • ninon: Victoria,

    I’m just diving into a big book you might enjoy–Anniversaries by Uwe Johnson. This has just come out in English…you might prefer the German edition? A grand opus about post-WWII life by a German émigré in New York. It’s a literary setting I don’t generally gravitate towards, but the writing is startling. And two fat volumes!

    I have a weakness for hot chocolate, which I make with goat milk. I will try adapting your recipe. January 18, 2019 at 3:49pm Reply

    • Gabriela: Just put this book on my reading list, thanks!

      What a wonderful article Victoria. I love the smell of mandarins here in Barcelona in the winter. Other pleasures include reading, baking almond cookies, putting grapefruit oil on my diffuser… and will be trying your hot chocolate this weekend with the children. January 19, 2019 at 4:38am Reply

      • Victoria: Hope that you like it. It’s such a good recipe and you can change the thickness and richness by adding more or less milk. January 21, 2019 at 7:27am Reply

    • Gabriela: Just added this book to my resign list, thanks!
      I love the smell of mandarin in Barcelona in winter.
      Also enjoy reading, baking almond cookies, the smell of grapefruit oil in my infuser… and this weekend will be trying your hot chocolate recipe with the children. January 19, 2019 at 6:29am Reply

      • Gabriela: Resign no, reading… January 19, 2019 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. Your recommendation is perfect, especially since I’ve been devoting more time to learning German and trying to read more in that language. January 21, 2019 at 7:21am Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Dear Victoria and perfume lovers,
    I love the changing of seasons and find pleasure in all of them. For winter my favourites are:
    1.Ice-skating – we used to go with my family every winter a couple of times. In my city there’s a free place to go and enjoy this outdoor activity. On weekends, the council even pays for a teacher to teach tricks and techniques. Ice-skating envigorates me, I aim to go every week.
    2.Watching long series and Christmas themed movies – winter nights seem longer, I use the time to watch and rewatch my favourite costumed miniseries based on Jane Austen, Dickens or Tolstoy’s novels. With my boyfriend, we binge watch sci-fi series together. I’m also a secret addict of Christmas romance films, they just warm my heart and help me to forget the negativity in the world.
    3. Reading long books – I caught a cold the first week of January but reading excessively helped me to recover faster. I’m currently reading George Elliot’s Middlemarch and plan to continue with Thomas Hardy’s and Daphne du Maurier’s works. I read most during December and my summer holidays and my goal is to not give up too much time to browsing the internet instead of reading books that make me grow.
    4. Reminiscing on the past year – In January I do not make a “to change” list anymore but take a look at the previous year and spend some time thinking through its successes and areas to improve. I then set realistic goals and work towards them.
    5 Drinking mulled wine while walking in the city center – my dance class and theater rehersals are in the beautiful center of the city. Every week I take out time to have a short walk alone with a nice cup of mulled wine. I find it recharges my batteries. Sometimes I swap mulled wine for hot chocolate or a winter themed latte. January 18, 2019 at 6:26pm Reply

    • Sariah: Love reading these comments in part because it’s reminding me of some favorite books that l haven’t thought of in ages, like Middlemarch. I tried mulled wine for the first time this fall and enjoyed it. Apple cyder with cloves and cinnamon also hits the spot. January 19, 2019 at 8:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Your strategy is very inspiring, and I like the idea of reflecting on what you’ve done and setting new goals based on that, rather than creating random resolutions that never end up being followed. January 21, 2019 at 7:22am Reply

  • Sariah: I am not sensible, and drink way too much coffee. Yay for hot chocolate and citrus in winter. I used to be an Anais Nin fan but grew out of it….her diaries read like they’re meant to be read by others, and the level of nutty neurotic is just too much. January 18, 2019 at 8:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Her diaries were indeed published to be read by others, and she made changes to them. There are also the unexpurgated diaries. I just finished a book by Élisabeth Barillé called Anaïs Nin : masquée, si nue (translated into English as Anais Nin: Naked Under Her Mask), which I liked. I recommend it highly to those interested in the evolution of Nin’s writing and in her life. January 21, 2019 at 7:25am Reply

      • Lydia: Thank you for this recommendation! I will look for the Barillé book at the library.

        I first heard of Anais Nin in the autobiography Haywire by Brooke Hayward (her sister Bridget was reading the journals and they sounded so mysterious and interesting). I really enjoyed the journal (and film) Henry and June, but I do have to take the diaries slowly because reading multiple books about her psychological & emotional weather can be as overwhelming as drinking an entire bottle of a rich liqueur that’s meant to be enjoyed in quarter glass servings. I get much more out of it when I just dip into the diaries occasionally. February 10, 2019 at 9:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s what I discovered once I started reading them. The letters she changed with Henry Miller are fascinating, though. Any correspondence is hard to read in big bursts, though, but especially theirs. So, yes, it’s the kind of reading one doses. February 11, 2019 at 5:08am Reply

  • Fazal: Any city with a well-established network of museums and libraries is worth living in. January 18, 2019 at 11:26pm Reply

    • Sariah: Yes! I live in Washington DC and that’s one of the things l love best about it. January 19, 2019 at 8:16am Reply

      • Klaas: Washington DC! Have you been to the National Gallery of Art? It is one of my favorite museums in the world. The collection is truly mindblowing (Titian, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh……I mean, just stunning!), and it is usually quiet. Such luxury to walk around these rooms…… January 19, 2019 at 1:13pm Reply

      • Fazal: You live in a city that is home to Library of Congress. Few things beat that! January 19, 2019 at 1:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: The very first thing that I thought reading Sariah’s comment. 🙂 January 21, 2019 at 7:27am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s what I think too. January 21, 2019 at 7:25am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: An emphatic yes to all! I couldn’t agree more. However, I’m not sure with the others, yet the time I spend working—and commuting to work—eats away such an enormous chunk of time and energy that there isn’t much time for indulgences (be they luxurious or profane). And I don’t even have child raising tasks! Reading is a few moments while travelling, and perhaps a bit longer before going to bed. Cooking—after sport—during the week is getting things done (quickly).
    Enjoying perfume admittedly is optimal: a quick spritz on flesh or material, and for a short moment I am transported elsewhere. January 19, 2019 at 1:50am Reply

    • Victoria: What have you been cooking lately? Your ideas are always so inspiring. January 21, 2019 at 7:26am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: How kind of you to say! Well, in the middle of winter, I‘ve been cooking a lot of cabbage. German „Spitzkohl“ (Filder cabbage?), savoy cabbage or shredded Brussel sprouts. I prepare them in a slightly Indian-ish (Bengali?) way with lots of garlic, ginger, asafoetida and panch phoron (five-spice-mix): fenugreek, fennel, cumin, nigella and black mustard seeds. Just a quick fry, say 10 minutes or so, with basmati, and tofu or Greek frying cheese. A quick midweek vegetarian dinner. January 21, 2019 at 11:01am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for describing the pleasures of winter. I too read more in winter, I go to bed earlier on purpose. Citrus fruits really are winter’s sunshine. I will try the recipe for hot chocolate, so decadent with cocoa + chocolate. I love being surprised by my perfume once I get inside in the warmth and there is also the plesure of wearing thick black tights. There is a species of bird, I think they are called white tails, they seem to spend at least part of winter here, and it’s a pleasure to have them around. January 20, 2019 at 6:19am Reply

    • Victoria: In Brussels, there are green parrots (or parakeet, not sure.) They’re here all year round, but they become noticeable in winter when their green plumage stands out against the grey. January 21, 2019 at 7:29am Reply

  • Mel: Winters in Southern California don’t conform to the dominant idiom of snow and cold temps and fireplaces. But we do get a rainy season, chillier nights, shorter days, and when I’m in the mood for citrus I just cruise to my backyard and snap a few cara caras off my tree. I live in layers of sweatpants, t-shirts, and hoodies and douse myself with Incendo by LA Curie or Mississippi Medicine by D.S. & Durga or Byredo’s Black Saffron. I ALWAYS tackle an epic book of some kind in winter. This year it’s Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Wish me luck!

    All year round I LOVE THIS BLOG!!! I read EVERY COMMENT and have gained so many incredible recommendations for books, art, exhibitions, recipes, oh, and perfume (lest we forget). Happy New Year, Victoria!!! Sending you transcontinental waves of good vibes from the City of Fallen Angels… January 20, 2019 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Mel! I also learn so much from reading all of the comments, so I appreciate them very much.

      Life and Fate is a grand edifice of a book, and it’s worth persevering through it. The difficulty is neither the language nor the style, but rather the content. It can heart-wrenching, but in the end, it’s hopeful. January 21, 2019 at 7:33am Reply

    • Carla: Yes, This is the only blog I read, it covers everything for me! January 21, 2019 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Sandra: Dear V,
    I love your winter pleasures!

    While you prefer citrus colognes, I bring on the big white florals to get me through winters on the east coast.

    I am currently reading How does it feel to be a problem? A book about young Arabs in America. I finished The Dancing girl of Izu and loved it. Thanks for you recommendations.

    I am taking notes on your hot chocolate recipe, in the winter I like to make tea. My favorites are Pleine Lune , Rose d’Himalaya and French Breakfast all by Mariage Freres. Or I made a good espresso or latte. There is a cafe close by that makes an excellent Tumeric Latte. Above all, I prefer when my father in law visits and makes me his homemade chai tea. January 21, 2019 at 1:24pm Reply

    • Carla: I sometimes love white florals in winter. It’s not really a white floral but I have loved Nahema when it was snowing and I was out and about in the city. Then again I also have loved l’Artisan’s Al Oudh in the snow.
      I don’t wear citrus in winter. However I have been ironing with L’Eau Parfumée des Familles (recommended by Victoria) mixed with water in the iron and it smells so delicious I actually want to iron my sheets! January 21, 2019 at 5:46pm Reply

      • Sandra: Wow! I hate to iron, maybe that is motivation

        What white florals do you like? January 21, 2019 at 7:39pm Reply

        • Carla: Hi Sandra, for white florals, in summer I like Fracas and in winter Carnal Flower is amazing. I like Nuit de Tubéreuse all year. What do you wear? January 21, 2019 at 11:15pm Reply

          • Carla: And about Mariage Freres, I too love their French Breakfast Tea! I have tried several of their teas and that is the standout worth the money in my opinion. So rich and satisfying. January 21, 2019 at 11:18pm Reply

          • Sandra: I love Songes, Terracotta and a small perfume house in Bermuda that makes one called Franginpani. January 22, 2019 at 9:07am Reply

  • Karolcia: “Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann, cashmere jumpers, a glass of port and incense perfumes… But winters in England are still pretty dreary. January 22, 2019 at 11:56am Reply

  • Maria-Anna: What a beautiful and poignant post!

    I love the citrus aspect of winter. What a contrast! There’s something magical about the fact that this quintessentially sunny, brassy-bright fruit is there in the winter to lift the spirits.

    I made Seville marmalade for the first time a few weeks ago and felt very proud of myself. I’ve been using it to top my porridge in the morning, which is a lovely combination. I think I’m going to have to make more soon… January 29, 2019 at 5:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Delicious! Seville orange marmalade is one of the my favorites. I like it very much on yogurt, but it’s also good with cheese and even cold cuts. January 29, 2019 at 8:36am Reply

  • Heather Raine: Here in the Washington DC area, we have a handful of pubs and bars with winterized outdoor patios. Amongst the heaters, you can go grab a drink outside, snuggled up in your coat and hat and scarf.

    My favorite of these is a kind-of-secret-ish bar called Dirty Habit, in the center courtyard of the Hotel Monaco DC. They have outdoor couches seated around shimmering outdoor gas fireplaces, and the wind isn’t too bad, since it’s a courtyard. It’s a delightful little hidden gem! February 7, 2019 at 4:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: If I’m ever in DC, I’ll have to check it out! Sounds inviting. February 8, 2019 at 5:41am Reply

  • Lydia: I’m catching up on these wonderful blog posts. I love your list!

    Here is mine:
    – Books – In the fall, I especially like ghost stories and cozy vintage books. In the winter, I always want to read books with the desert in it, for some reason. I’ve been longing to read Freya Stark’s books about her travels in the Mid East. Also to revisit Isabel Eberhardt, and to finally read the Oxford text version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Thesiger’s Arabian Sands and Ahmed Hassanein Bey’s The Lost Oasis are on my list, as well as a reread of The English Patient. I can’t wait until the upcoming NYRB Classics edition of Lyall Watson’s Heaven’s Breath: A Natural History of the Wind comes out. (Good choice, NYRB!).

    – Black tea, especially dessert flavored, with honey and soy milk.

    – Pastries (the Japanese shop Beard Papa has these wonderful strawberry cream puffs in honor of Valentines Day. Oh my!)

    – Hot soup, with 7 grain bread. Also mushroom and onion omelettes. (Mushrooms just feel so right in cold weather.)

    – Vintage movies. (I pretty much always love these, but in the summer and fall I gravitated to screwball comedies, and in the winter I’m want epics.)

    – Chypres make me happy all the time, but especially in cold weather. I’ve been falling in love with Rochas’ Femme this month (I think my bottle is the Cresp version, although I’m not sure). I’m finally old enough to wear it – in my 20s and 30s it felt too mature and, well, womanly for me and my tastes ran more to spicy-woody-incense scents like CdG, but now it likes my skin more and it feels like coming home. February 10, 2019 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing your wonderful list!
      I’ve also been exploring Isabel Eberhardt’s works, inspired by my recent reading of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. February 11, 2019 at 5:30am Reply

      • Lydia: Thank you, Victoria.
        I’d never heard of Annemarie Schwarzenbach and just looked her up. What an amazing woman! She seems to have crowded five lifetimes worth of experiences into one, sadly very short, life.
        I see there is a film about her, as well as a travel memoir. I’m looking forward to exploring both eventually.

        Vintage travel memoirs are such a rich and fascinating genre. I’m also a fan of the Patrick Leigh Fermor trilogy of his travels in 1930s Europe. The world has changed so profoundly in the last century. When I read books like these, I wonder if we’ve even begun to find our balance or make sense of the changes. February 20, 2019 at 1:30am Reply

        • Victoria: So true! These changes are so profound that I don’t think that we can fully understand their repercussions. In many ways, our current political situation is the result of these major shifts.

          I also made a note of the film about Annemarie Schwarzenbach, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it. February 20, 2019 at 4:57am Reply

    • Karen A: Can’t recommend Freya Stark’s books enough! Getrude Bell may get all the attention, but Freya was a truly amazing woman – traveling on her own, with only a guide or two.

      Her books on Turkey, where she traveled exclusively after age 60 (I think) are very interesting. Not deserts, but many of the sites she visited are still isolated and you can spend time hiking about without other people around – goatbells ringing in the distance.

      And very fun list! February 20, 2019 at 8:51am Reply

      • Victoria: I read Stark’s The Lycian Shore a few years ago, but now I’m tempted to reread it again. Winter in Arabia is another favorite. February 20, 2019 at 9:10am Reply

  • Karen A: I need to order some more of her books. Anyone who rafts down the Euphrates at 85 (or 86) is a wonderful role model! February 20, 2019 at 12:26pm Reply

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