Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Simple Things - A Wintertime List

The Simple Things
A Wintertime List
December is a riot of kaleidoscopic color that I wrap around me like a favourite shawl.  The reds, the greens, the golds - I love them all.  I pull out the coat I bought at Jenner’s in Edinburgh, the one with the lavish red fur collar (faux, of course) and don it at every opportunity.  I wear green velvet whenever I can and paint my nails oxblood red. I fill the house with orange and red roses and The Songwriter drapes the cottage with colourful lights.  And then suddenly, abruptly,  January arrives and the vibrant hues of the previous month are squeezed out completely by the simple turning of one thin calendar page.  It’s necessary, I suppose, as too much everyday richness can make one a bit queasy.  

We need the month of January - to rest, to plan, to clear our palates for the new year we’ve been given - and for many years now I’ve come to look to this month with sweet anticipation.  It’s the time I pull back, close the door and turn down the phone.  I curl up by the fire to knit sweaters, write stories, and read books.  I plan trips and sketch out changes to the garden.  Edward dozes, The Songwriter writes, and Apple…. well Apple still sits by the window and watches for squirrels who are, as any experienced squirrel-watcher knows,  much easier to spot in a bare naked tree.  In the sterling light of the afternoons, I bundle up and take the dogs for a long ramble, Edward’s jaunty step and bouncing ears a testament to how much he adores this particular month of the year.   It is outdoors that one can truly appreciate the remarkable beauty of this icy span of days.  The violet skies, the silver light, the handprints of grey trees on the frosted air. 

Yes, there are many pleasures to be found in January 
and most of them are simple ones. 
That extra quilt you throw on the bed when the mercury takes a vertical dive.  
That little nip of Glenmorangie you add to your afternoon tea when you come in from the cold. 
The crackle of the fire. 
The feel of the wool as it flies through your fingers. 
The weight of a big furry dog’s head as he sleeps on your feet.  
Yes,  January is simply a wonderful time so here is a list of simple comforts to make it even better.  

1. Staying Hale and Hardy
There’s nothing good about a cold and I do whatever I can to keep them as far away from my door as possible.  I wash my hands frequently and often use my sleeve to open doors, not caring one whit if I look funny doing so.  One of my secret weapons against this dreaded obnoxious malady is this particular brand of Vitamin C.  I take it before every flight, during every journey, and whenever I know I’m going to be in crowds. 
Laugh if you will, but I swear that it works.
Find it HERE

2. Skin Care
Those long afternoon winter walks mean I often return home with bright pink cheeks which can mean dry chapped skin if I’m not careful.  So I do take good care to see that doesn’t happen.  I’ve just recently found these new creams by Belif and I love them.  I use the aqua bomb in the daytime, and the cream before bed.  They both feel SO delicious, and my skin has been glowing all winter.
Find the Aqua Bomb HERE
And the Cream HERE

3. Bath
Every time I’m lucky enough to be on the Isle of Skye I make certain to visit the Isle of Skye Soap Company.  A tiny, charming shop tucked into a corner of Portree, it is full of the most lusciously scented soaps imaginable.  I brought home a sack full in September and believe me, I’m completely devoted to my nightly soaks in my big claw foot tub with these wonderful soaps.  Lemongrass and Lime is my favorite, but you’re sure to find one you can’t live without out.
Find them HERE

And of course, I’m a bubble bath girl.
And this one is the best.....
Close your eyes and be spirited straight to a beautiful warm beach.
Find it HERE.

4. Television
The Doctor is back!  Though I’m aware season seven was shown in the UK last autumn, we here in the states are just now enjoying the return of the marvelous Martin Clunes as Doc Martin.  I love this show.  And I love Martin Clunes.  I particularly love the way light shines through his slightly protuberant ears turning them as pink as Edward’s tummy.
As they say, check your local listings.
Unfamiliar with Doc Martin?
Find past seasons HERE.
Here's a preview of the new season.

5. Book and Movie
Rarely is a movie as good as the book.
This one is.
Find the book HERE.
and preview the movie.....


6.  Books
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, has worked its way to the top of my teetering stack and I’m looking forward to diving into the entire series.
Has anyone else read these?
Find it HERE
Also, speaking of a fun series of books, 
you have read THESE, haven’t you?
Love them.
Be sure to start with the first one.

7.  Comfort
I got the word on these from the fabulous blog, A Cup Of Jo.   They looked comfy and the price was certainly right, so I ordered them.  Oh my goodness.  Seriously, these are the closest one can get to wearing one’s pajamas all day long.  They can be dressed up with a blazer, tucked into boots, or worn with your favourite big sweater.   I wear them to walk the dogs, to the market, and out to dinner.  And yes, they’re perfect for a nap.    No joke, I’m ordering another pair so I can have something to wear while these are in the washer.
Find them HERE.

8.  Planning for Spring
As I begin to think about the spring additions and changes to my garden, I’m drawn to this new book by shade gardening expert, Ken Druse.  Our cottage sits beneath many tall, old trees, so shade is something omnipresent here.  But I’ve found that gardening in shade can be just as luscious as sun. 
This book also addresses the effects of our changing climate on our gardens, something that is becoming increasing vital to understand and adjust to.  
This book will be well-used this year.
Find it HERE

9.  The World’s Best Eyelash Curler
Stupid expensive, 
but lives up to the hype and then some.
I'll never use another.
Find it HERE

10.  Toast and Jam
Nothing much better on a cold morning than really good bread 
and really good jam.
A good friend introduced me to this fig jam a while back 
and now I’m hopelessly in love with it.  
Good enough to eat by the spoonfuls, 
but I highly recommend slathering it on a perfect slice of homemade bread.
Find it HERE

11.  Wuthering Heights
There’s a special reason I’m revisiting this unique book just now.
I’ll clue you all in, in a month or so. 
 Till then, this annotated edition is the best I’ve seen
 and it’s hard to beat a Bronte when the January winds rattle the windows.
Find it HERE
Painting at top by Susan Ryder

A Special Thank You
to everyone who commented and wrote me letters 
about my last post.  I'm happy to say all is very well here!
You all are the best.


  1. Those Joe Fresh pants look nice, I will check them out, and also the series by Rowling. I am not liking My Brilliant Friend and stopped reading it, but will try it again. Such a popular writer.

  2. I love reading your posts because you personify nature. Have been searching for a good bubble bath, love the pants and book selections, can't live without a eyelash curler! All your suggestions are.terrific and I plan to try quite a few items. Thanks for the suggestions! What a treat. Also love the illustration for this post.

  3. Dear Pamela
    I think you have the perfect antidotes to the winter blahs!
    Of course Doc Martin is a great favorite in this house.
    I have yet to read the Elena Ferrante which so many people have LOVED. We will compare notes!
    Warmest greetings to you and the Songwriter and Edward and Apple.

  4. Have read all of the Elena Ferrante quartet. Taking on a foursome was a bit new for this avid reader, but once begun, I flew through. Like reading a 1400 page book. I'd say most will either love the story/characters (and there are many to keep up with) or drop out early on. I loved it!

  5. 'All is well' is good. Very good.

  6. This was a lovely post! I haven't been reading blogs, for awhile because I was finishing up a story. So I went back and read your last post. I'm glad things turned out well for you and the Songwriter that scary night.

  7. That fig jam looks a delight - must find some.
    I adore that photograph of Edward in the knitted hat.
    Glad to hear all is well at home with you both.

  8. I love your list, Pamela. Is it possible you're unaware of Acorn TV? It's a subscription streaming service (about $50 a year) and it's all British TV. Googling Acorn TV will get you a link to the site. As for Cormoran Strike, my heart beats a little faster in a very nice way.

  9. Dear Pamela,
    Would you please tell me the brand of the eyelash curler (the links in your post don't work for me). I am in need of a new one and might as well get the best!
    Many thanks, Mary

  10. I've read all four of the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and absolutely LOVED them. I was bereft when I'd finished the last one. I did not want this story of friendship between two strong women to end. These are the best books I've read in a very long time!

  11. Who painted that lovely picture at top of post?

  12. Pamela, have you seen the version of Wuthering Heights with Juliette Binoche NS Rlph Fiennes? Ryuichi Sakamoto wrote the soundtrack. It was such a beautiful version of the classic. Glad to hear all is well there.

  13. I love the Comoran Strike series and have read all three books. I believe JK Rowling, oops, I mean Robert Gilbraith, :-) is very busy right now so I'm not sure when her next installment will be released, but I'll be ordering it.
    Thanks for the list. I always enjoy checking new things out.

  14. Yes, who is the artist that did the lovely painting????????

  15. oh dear bean!
    i had to go back and read the last post. i missed it somehow.
    i have an LAD stent myself. cardiac arrest in the recovery room. so felt first hand all the feelings you had. i'm so glad the song writer came through FINE!
    and you handled it all with the grace which is YOU.
    i always love your lists. this one especially. i'm going to get the cream by belif. and news of it couldn't have come at a better time.
    love the simplicity and purity of it. and the fact of a personal recommendation!
    so thank you! xo

  16. Wonderful things to help us through the Winter months Pamela ...... we watched yet another adaptation of Wuthering Heights at the weekend !!!! Still wonderful. Doc Martin is done and dusted here but brilliant although, I think that it might be coming to it's natural end. Series for you to look out for : War and Peace ..... some haven't liked it but I'm enjoying it and ' Dickension ' ..... I'm loving this. It's many of Dickens characters all intertwined ... so different but very enjoyable...... and, of course, ' Sherlock ' !!
    So pleased to hear that all is well with The Songwriter. Sending love from the UK. XXXX

    1. I have just read Donna's comment ..... that's the version we watched at the weekend !!!!! XXXX

  17. Trying again - I hit an exclamation point and my comment disappeared. I guess I need to tone it down ;-). Lovely writing and alluring list, Pamela. I loved 'Brooklyn'. I have heard wonderful comments about the Elena Ferrante series and they're on my TBR list. The stilettos the model is wearing belie the comfiness of those pants. Since I have less than a model perfect body, I wonder if they'd suit? I live in the woods, so all my gardening is about the shade. I'm a moss and fern kind of girl. This new book looks enticing and all the more relevant with its reference to climate change. Thanks for these. And thanks to AnnK for the reference to Acorn TV. I've let this go past my radar before, but now that we have a smart TV, this sounds like a must-have. Only problem is I'd end up watching too much TV, leaving little time for books.

  18. Happy New Year Pamela, Edward, Apple and The Songwiter. Long may you blog xxx

  19. I love the painting...who is the artist???

  20. The artist is Susan Ryder!


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