This past weekend was my one year anniversary in Chicago. As luck would have it, both weekends marked the first real snowfall of the year. Although I grew up in Cleveland with my fair share of lake effect snow, the past seven years in St. Louis were pretty mild in comparison. So I wasn’t ready for the brutal wind, snow, and ice. Here’s what I need to survive a Chicago winter. Also known as: “things I wish I had or knew before moving to Chicago.” See also: “things you can give people for Christmas that live in the arctic tundra.”
My first recommendation is a long, warm puffer coat. Or what I fondly refer to as my “super poof.” (My puffer vest is “mini poof”) When the wind is blowing, it’s not about being fashionable. It’s about keeping warm! And I have no shame in looking like Randy from “A Christmas Story.” (Favorite Christmas movie ever! It was filmed in Cleveland) Fortunately, there are some stylish coats out there. I have last year’s version of this coat from Eddie Bauer. $199, but I bought mine at their after-Christmas sale last year for less.
Hunter boots, welly socks, and Lush foot powder
Since I do a fair share of walking through the snow, slush, and muck in the city, winter boots are a must. For now, I only have a pair of Hunter boots with the fleece welly sock liners. You might be thinking to yourself, “Cathy, do I really need a pair of Hunter boots? They cost twice as much as a normal pair of rain boots.” And I will say, “Yes, loyal reader, Hunter boots are the best thing since sliced bread. I first had a pair of generic rain boots and the rubber split within a month. I returned them and used the credit to buy Hunter boots. Buy the quality piece and you won’t have to buy another for several years.” Fleece welly socks will keep you extra warm and Lush’s “T for Toes” foot powder will keep your feet and boots stink- and bacteria-free. Boots $125, Socks $30, Powder $10.95
Fact: I don’t enjoy blow drying and ‘doing’ my hair. I’d rather spend the extra time sleeping in the morning. So I generally pull it back. Blame it on the years of swim practice before school. Anyways, hats can be a little awkward and too small if my hair’s pulled back. Enter, the 180’s. Like earmuffs, but a little warmer, adjustable, and more secure. I lost my pair from last year, so I’m hoping Santa will bring me some new ones.
Did you know that Chicago has a maze of underground tunnels connecting a good portion of the Loop? I didn’t before moving here. While not a big as Minneapolis/St. Paul’s Skyway system, the Pedway will help you avoid some of the weather (cold, heat, rain) and pedestrian traffic.
Nothing’s better than a warm cup of coffee in the morning. Especially while waiting for the L. Or on the weekend. Or during brunch. Or….you get the point. I profess my love for The Coffee & Tea Exchange here. Get your own crack coffee there. Beans start at $9.99/pound.
Slips with the fur
While I don’t own Ugg boots, I am a proud owner of some Ugg Dakota slippers. Hardwood floors make for chilly walking in the mornings. I’ve had mine for 2 years and they’re holding up just fine (except for a seam that I had to sew up). I made a believer out of John and bought him a pair for Christmas last year. This is another high quality piece totally worth the $100. Find your perfect pair here.
Alpaca throw blanket
Here’s a random fact about my family. We own alpacas. No, I didn’t grow up on a farm. Yes, they’re relatives of llamas. And their fleece makes killer scarves, socks, sweaters, and throw blankets. My sister knit one for us for Christmas last year and it’s the warmest.thing.ever! John and I may or may not fight over who gets to use the blanket. So sis, would you mind making us another???
Aveda’s Hand Relief
Hands down, Aveda’s Hand Relief is the best hand lotion ever! And yes, pun intended :) Aveda’s not lying when they say, “revitalizing vitamin formula for stressed skin.” Between the cold weather and hand washing, I can keep my hands as smooth as a baby’s bottom with this lotion. I keep one tube at work and another one at home. Yes, $19 is a little steep for hand lotion, but a little bit goes a long way and it’s totally worth it.