Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Keeping Warm Edition

Today is Blue Monday, the statistically saddest day of the year, and yet I am feeling excited and invigorated. The extreme cold weather has broken, and the ten day forecast calls for what I think of as Very Pleasant Winter Weather. Mall walking is fun and all, but I like to actually be able to take my dog out, and to not feel that “my face is dead” feeling that one gets when one is outside for more than ten seconds. This is not an exaggeration, for those of you who have never experienced such temperatures. I have a personal ranking system for winter temperatures: up to minus 10, Pleasant Winter Weather, the minus teens are Still Functioning But I Don’t Like This, minus 20-25 is This Is Bad, minus 25-30 is Everything Is Terrible, and lower than minus 30? Why God Why.

Anyway, as I said everything is lovely right now, and today I noticed for the first time that mornings are getting lighter. I tend to notice longer days in the afternoon right away after Winter Solstice, but I find the mornings take a while. Winter sunrises are so glorious, and are probably the best thing about the extreme cold: the sunrises seem to be more beautiful, the more frigid it is. I am always – even in summer – up before the sunrise, so I consider myself somewhat of an authority on this.

We still have a lot more winter to go, even if it is a pleasant week, and so it is time for…

Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Keeping Warm Edition

My Cozy Buns

I encountered My Cozy Buns at a holiday market, and it is such a fabulous idea I have been sharing it with everyone I know. A local woman repurposes old sweaters by making them into “bum warmers,” a skirt of sorts that fits perfectly over yoga pants, leggings, or even just pants. Not only are they environmentally friendly – textiles being a huge problem in landfills, etc., etc. – they make a significant difference in warmth. When I walk the dog, I wear legwarmers and my calf-length coat and thick boots, but I had no idea how much warmer I would be with my bum warmer. Plus, LOOK HOW CUTE!

Cute and practical, such an elusive combination when it comes to winter wear.

Poor Barks, dying to go for a walk. Alas! Minus 30 is too cold for arthritic old dogs.

The bum warmers can also come with matching mittens, made from the sweaters’ sleeves.


I talk about legwarmers every year, I know, but they make such a significant difference to me, a person who wears yoga pants most days. I won’t walk the dog without legwarmers, and my mother-in-law has knit me several pairs for that purpose. They are not the most attractive, by any means, but winter is the time of the year where practicality always prevails over prettiness. Unless we are talking about bum warmers.

I teach two classes a week at a community centre, and believe me when I say that the linoleum floor is like ice, even in the warmer months. When it drops below a certain temperature outside, the floor is unbearable. I bought these legwarmers with stirrups at lululemon several years ago, and they are perfect suited to this situation. Toes and heels are unfettered, so I’m not sliding all over as I teach, but the extra layer keeps me warm.

These cuties also came from My Cozy Buns; they were sleeves, I think. They are a little shorter so not as warm as the others, but still a nice layer for just kicking around the house in.

Giant Socks

Still with the “keeping my legs covered” theme, I love these “Savasana Socks” from lululemon. I have several pair of thigh-high socks for pulling over my yoga pants, but these ones have grips on the bottom, like you might see on socks for small children. You can never have too many giant socks, in my mind. Plus, they are kind of cute, warm without being too bulky.

Long Sweaters

I’m sure this particular sweater has made it into Favourite Things before – oh look, it has – but it’s nice to have a socially acceptable way to essentially wear a bathrobe in public.

I’m wrapping myself up in my cardigans of cozyness. I have a number of – mostly black – very thick sweaters that make their appearance when the temperature drops below Winter Is Cold, Everything Is Fine to Are We Living On Planet Hoth.

Baffin Boots

Last year my wonderful, warmest boots got accidentally stolen. Someone must have had the same boots as I, as one day when I went to grab my boots at a studio, I noticed they were in a different space than I normally put them. Then I noticed that I couldn’t fit my feet in comfortably. Then I noticed a small hole at the top of the boot and realized these are not my boots. It happens, sometimes, I guess. I was left with a pair of boots that to the naked eye looked exactly like my boots, but they were a half size smaller. I kept hoping that my old boots would show up, but I guess the person who took them figured their feet had shrunk, or maybe, they didn’t notice they were half a size larger. I suppose I can understand, but I got the (literal) short end of things, as wearing boots slightly too big is possible, but slightly too small? No. Long story short: I had to buy new boots.

Blessings in disguise, am I right? Because the boots I ended up buying claimed to be warm up to minus 40. Minus 40! I was extremely skeptical but I thought, fine. I’ll try them. Let me tell you, people, these boots are life changing. They are warm, yet light, unlike my old Joan of Arctic Sorels that feel like I’m wearing 1980s style ankle weights. They are comfortable too – at Christmas my husband and I took an 8 kilometer walk in the snow, in minus 15, and my feet were warm the whole time. For someone with Raynaud’s, this is unheard of. Sure, they are not the most attractive, but they are not the most unattractive either. They were a bit pricey but I don’t think footwear is where we want to pinch pennies.

And there we have it, my favourite things that are helping me get through the winter. What are yours?


  1. I love the bum warmer and matching legwarmers, or mittens. Genius! I too hate to be cold. I bought some sweaters for myself this winter. I was kind of ‘off’ sweaters for awhile because of breastfeeding (OK, so I have not nursed a baby in over a decade, but let me tell you the feeling of being too hot just made me uncomfortable and therefore leery. I did own sweaters, but not many). Anyhow – I am excited about my new sweaters. I bought some smart wool socks this year and they are the BOMB! I literally rejoice when they come out of the laundry. Super cozy! What brand are those boots?

  2. Oh, and sorry about the boot mixup. What a shame.

  3. The bum warmer is so cute and environmentally friendly! I just could not even with that kind of cold. Today our high was 39 and I thought I would die every time I had to go out.

  4. Our winters here are not very cold (usually not below 35 or so) but rainy or cloudy nearly every day so although I don’t have a scale for cold, the sheer number of terms we have for rain is ridiculous ranging from light showers to bucketing. ANYWAY, I attempt to survive by buying only coats with hoods in every weight since it could start raining unexpectedly any time, three pairs of really good rain boots (low, medium, and higher lengths), a number of golf umbrellas for standing in the rain watching outdoor sports when it isn’t too windy, and gloves of various kinds because my hands are almost always cold. All of this helps me cope with the weather but I have to say that every year around this time I seriously question why I live here. I think to myself: you know, there are people who live places where it is warm/not rainy all year long? Why have you spent your entire 50 years of life not in those places? WHY?? Sigh. Summers are nice though…

  5. I love the bum warmer so much. It is CUTE. It has PURPOSE. It is ECO FRIENDLY. Love.

  6. What a genius of a human to come up with the repurposing of the old sweaters; I love the bun warmers and your leg warmers. I can’t even imagine those temps; it got down to 38* this morning and people were losing their marbles! YOU are too cute.

  7. I don’t even own any yoga pants, and now I want to go buy some so I have an excuse to buy a bum warmer and leg warmers because SO CUTE.

  8. bibliomama2 says

    Look at you, all layery and stylish and sweater-ified and warm. I absolutely do NOT think winter footwear is a thing to skimp on. We were supposed to have a Very Cold Week that only turned out to be a Quite Cold Couple of Days. I haven’t had to layer up much, but I do love my giant socks inside. I am mourning the lovely alpaca mitten I lost in Montreal – it was worth it, the trip was wonderful, but it seems like I never get to keep my favourite mittens for more than a season. I may need a mitten string like when I was five.

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