Happy New Year, Farmgirl sisters! If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a cold January for nearly every corner of the United States at some point this month. My family and I have been in Minnesota and North Dakota for the past two weeks and have seen temperatures as low as -30–and that was without the wind chill! Where we live in Alaska has been surprisingly warm, with some days registering nearly eighty degrees warmer than spots in the Midwest.
Whenever we head to the Midwest, we spend the majority of our time with family; but we still had to find some ways to fight cabin fever! We tried to get outside when the temperatures were favorable, but going out in negative digits with young kids is not fun. We spend much more time getting bundled up than actually being outside.
Evan and I both got out on our own to make sure we haven’t gotten soft (not to say if you can’t tolerate -25 windchill that you’re soft…we were just joking with each other!). Walking around Evan’s family’s farm in the frigid cold is magical–the snow glitters, rabbit tracks tell stories of hardy little creatures racing about and deer tracks lead to deer beds in the woods. The wind blown snow drifts create some fantastical designs on the barren fields while desiccated burdock, yarrow and timothy hold strong above the snow in the frozen wonderland. My phone doesn’t tolerate cold very well, so I didn’t get photos, but hopefully you can picture the frigid landscape!
Luckily, we got plenty of photos to document our other activities to help pass the days of freezing cold. If you are in the path of unbearable lows and are feeling cabin feverish, perhaps you can get some ideas!
I actually kind of like the extreme cold; it is amazing how adaptable humans are. Think of people surviving these temperatures long before furnaces and modern insulation! We have been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series and marveling at some of the measures they take to keep themselves and their animals warm in extremely cold temperatures.
This brings me to my first (and fairly obvious!) cold weather activity: reading!
While Netflix beckons during these cold spells (and I am guilty of succumbing to the call more often than I’d like!) I bet most of us have books on our shelves that are begging to be read; or long time favorites; or perhaps books about far away warm places, beautiful winter wonderlands or some non-fiction about something we’d like to brush up on. When I I have the opportunity, I have been reading books about early childhood education. How exciting!
Some other indoor options:
Visit a local museum! While in Minnesota we went to the Children’s Museum and it was even better than we expected. We could have easily spent six hours playing and exploring the many exhibits. Being near a metropolitan area helps with the museum options, but even tiny Palmer, AK or Valley City, ND have historical societies and museums that are worth exploring.
January seems to be a month when many restaurants lure people in with pretty awesome specials. They are probably trying to get people to look past their New Year’s resolutions or post-holiday glutton guilt, but I’m not going to shy away from some deals. When in Minnesota, we went to a restaurant that-unknown to us-had complimentary wine tasting Wednesdays! In this tasting we discovered one of the best cabernets I’ve ever tasted. It is jammy and warming with hints of chocolate and not bitter at all! The story of the vineyard was fun to hear from the wine rep, too–it is from a California vineyard that has one thousand sheep “employees”. The sheep prune the vines and fertilize the soil, leading to much less maintenance and inputs from the vineyard owners. It isn’t certified organic, but follows very sustainable and responsible practices. Oh, to have such a vineyard! It sounds idyllic.
I consider drinking a good wine while reading a good book on a subzero day a little slice of heaven. However (!!), this Farmgirl has to avoid wine for a couple more months because…
Baby Wilder #3 is coming in April! That’s right, we’re going to be a family of five in a few short months. I’ve been terrible about telling people about this pregnancy, and the time seems to be speeding past as the due date gets closer. We are excited and anxious and curious and all of those feelings that come along with welcoming a new member into our family, but I also feel more prepared than with the first two.
Being pregnant and having two young children has made me leery about spending too much time in public places (especially when one of us–I’m not gong to name names, but she is two–has taken a liking to licking things. Gross!). I try not to get too caught up in the fear mongering about flu, but it is scary to imagine any of us getting this year’s strain. We were all sick with a nasty cold over Christmas and New Year celebrations, and that was enough for this Farmgirl mama!
Sooo, this brings me to things we can do if we know people with cool things:
Evan’s parents are artists and have a pottery studio. We painted ceramics, experimented with alcohol inks on tile, played with clay and threw some bowls. Getting creative during these cold times is a much welcomed outlet.
My mom is an amazing cook and I discovered that she has a cast iron aebleskiver pan! In my last post, I fawned over the aebleskiver in MaryJane’s most recent cookbook. I didn’t have the cookbook with me, but my mom is close to a genius in the kitchen and she just whipped some up without a recipe! She made us some using garbanzo bean flour, oil, eggs, baking powder and soda. Perhaps MaryJane has this next tidbit in her book, but I haven’t been able to read it all–apparently aebleskiver are traditionally tended and flipped using knitting needles! Geez, I love old-fashioned recipes and techniques. She didn’t want to use her knitting needles, but this metal skewer worked great. We served them with a sprinkle of melted butter, a dusting of cinnamon and a little maple syrup for dipping. Delicious, protein packed and filling!
And who doesn’t like a good nap? I’m a big proponent of embracing opportunities to relax, kick back and enjoy the stillness that comes with very little to do. Do you like to nap or do close to nothing? I know it is very hard for a lot of people to turn off for a bit, but I think it’s essential sometimes. It is nice when mother nature forces us to do it once in awhile.
Finally, we took this opportunity to get some personal hygiene accomplished–haircuts and dental check-ups being the two big ones. Might as well feel fresh while trapped indoors!
Despite the dangerous outdoor temperatures on our vacation to the upper Midwest, it still didn’t feel like enough time to enjoy our family and friends. All of these fun and relaxing activities almost have us asking for some more super cold temps to do some of the activities we didn’t get to: throwing water outside to see if it freezes mid-air! Blowing bubbles in the super cold! Creating icy sun catchers!
…I wonder if I’ll regret wishing for this…
I hope you are staying warm and escaping boredom during these days of deep freeze!
Sending peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl