SHORTLIST: My 6 Cold-Weather Musts*

*With apologies to Elle Decor and Penny Morrison

Here’s something you get for subscribing to Elle Decor magazine that you can’t read on the website: a regular department called “Style Shortlist” featuring a design celebrity ticking off frivolous things s/he can’t live without. Sometimes it’s eight things, like in the March 2019 issue, and sometimes it’s five or six or 10, depending on how indulgent the person insists on being.

For its March 2019 issue, ED tapped UK interior/textile designer and shop owner Penny Morrison to share her favorite things, and believe me, the list is way beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. So much so, I felt I had to take to the keyboard and provide a real-life alternative to the blather.

Some of you may have zoned out with Pen-Pen’s No. 1 and 2 choices–the opal-and-pink-tourmaline earrings for $8,519 or the obsession with Ham Yard Hotel. Those two I get. Sorta.

I’m an earring fanatic, though this particular pair isn’t in my future. And I absolutely adore anything Kit Kemp (the owner/designer of the Ham Yard and other boutique hotels), though I’ll be lucky if I ever cross the lobby (above), let alone bed down there.

But the coup d’etat for me was her No. 5 item–a silver spoon warmer. Now what the heck is that? Why does anyone need their spoons warmed?

She explains (kinda-sorta-not-really) that a friend of hers in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France (no less), collects these “table objects” that “come in such extraordinary shapes.”

The one pictured is a nautilus shell, but it reminds me of a goose bending its neck around to dig at its hind quarters. You decide. Either way, one like it is available on Etsy for just over $300–a bargain it seems.


Lest the more down-to-earth (translate, glumly middle class) among us feel left out in the ensuing rush to add that one to our carts, I thought it only fair to feature MY shortlist: things a regular person who lives paycheck-to-paycheck can’t live without. In Indiana. In February, no less.

You’ll notice a theme to my shortlist, courtesy of the spoon warmer. My spoons are all tip-top toasty tucked away in their drawer, but I am perenially cold, especially in winter. Partially it’s due to a lack of a thyroid gland but also from losing 215 pounds. And probably just because I’m female, too. And because of the single-digit wind chills we’ve been experiencing this winter. And the heat cycling on all the time.

In the spirit of indulgence, all things listed will, of course, be things I could actually live without but don’t want to. They’re more comfortable living rather than interior-design oriented.

And lest you think I’m merely poking fun, there are some good tips here. Affordable ones. Or at least more affordable than anything you’ll find in the pages of ED.

(Please note: This post contains affiliate links.)

1. XL electric throw blanket, $59.99

Santa Claus (a.k.a., hubs) brought me this one–plushy on one side, sherpa on the other, extra large at 60- by 70-inches, with three heat settings. But as you can see, I’m not the only one who likes it.

You can almost read Maisie-Cat’s thoughts here: Are you gonna TRY to make me move? I wouldn’t think of it!

We actually worked out a deal: Maisie gets full run of the blankie by day, but Susan claims it in the evening while watching TV (though the Mazester is welcome to snuggle in mom’s toasty lap anytime.

2. Fleece-lined leggings, $10.99

Not my legs, not my color, but who knew these things could be so wonderful? I shied away from them before now because I thought they’d be bulky. It’s been so cold this winter, though, I had to do SOMETHING to stay warm.

Turns out they feel sleek and light on, but really block the cold and wind. Now I have eight pair in six colors!

3. Heated toilet-seat, starting at $69.99

This is not my actual toilet either, but you get the idea. Yes, ours also has a nightlight, but it’s blue. We didn’t buy our bidet toilet seat for the heat, but that heated seat is a welcome treat when you get up enough courage to leave your warm bed in the middle of the night because nature is calling.

4. Chocolate rooibos tea blends, $11.75

My favorites are peppermint and strawberry, but they’re all yummy. I add a shot of Walden Farms calorie-free chocolate syrup for an extra boost in winter. In summer, I make sun tea out of the peppermint and infuse it with extra mint leaves.

Rooibos has a natural chocolatey flavor, so you might want to try it without any add-ins. Republic of Tea has a number of varieties–all naturally caffeine-free.

5. My Keurig machine, $89.99

Tea is my afternoon warm-up drink, but coffee takes center stage in the morning. We initially switched to Keurig over a regular drip-pot brewer when I began preparing for bariatric surgery. My diet limits me to two cups of caffeinated beverage per day, and two weeks before surgery I was allowed none, which continued until my stomach healed.

Hubs wasn’t really interested in switching to decaf, and there’s no room on our kitchen counter for two pots, so a Keurig seemed ideal. Yes, the pods get pricey (we buy in bulk at a warehouse store), but EACH cup tastes like the first one from the pot.

We’re on our second Keurig machine already, and we’ll never go back!

6. Clinique moisturizing lotion, $23.99

Or should I say, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. This Amazon Prime price is the cheapest I’ve found. This is also the only thing on the list that doesn’t keep me warm, but it is winter-friendly.

I have a terrible time with my fingertips and the skin around my nails cracking and peeling, especially in winter in this lousy cold, dried-out-from-central-heating climate. And this helps more than anything else I’ve tried.

I’ve always liked Clinique products because they’re hypo-allergenic and I’m hyper-allergic. I’ve tried other Clinique formulations of this product, such as the gel, which costs more, but I like the basic LOTION best. It’s non-greasy and absorbs into the skin well.

Now, about those spoon warmers…

After a little research I discovered spoon warmers were a cold-weather must in drafty old Victorian homes before the onset of central heating. Servants would top off each diner’s individual spoon warmer with boiling hot water straight from the kettle, then they could rest their spoon in the water between sips of soup, and nary a cold spoon would cool off the hot soup.

Okay, now I get it, because I obviously understand “cold,” though I’m still stuck at the servant part. And I can’t help wondering who filled their spoon warmers? Or was it just plain warmer in the basement servants’ dining room, next to the kitchen?

Sometimes it pays to be working-class, but it NEVER pays to be cold.

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