How to Enjoy Winter in Wisconsin

January 21, 2020

After eleven years of living in Des Moines, Iowa, our family packed up and moved across the country to the ski town of Park City, Utah. This was the beginning of my much-needed attitude adjustment regarding winter. Prior to our move, winter, to me, meant icy sidewalks on which I could no longer run; weeks-long stretches of gloomy sunless days and months of being cold in our drafty, century-old house. Winter, in many ways, was something to endure. 

Shortly after moving to Park City in November of 2012, I was sitting in the waiting room of a tire store chatting with a man who was also there, like me, for snow tires. As he talked about the “bad winter” of the previous year, I soon realized that “bad” to him meant a winter with warmer temps and little snow. A “good” winter, on the other hand, produced snow measured by the foot and months of below-freezing temperatures. Huh. 

While one could propose that it wouldn’t take much of an effort to embrace a Utah winter of spectacular scenery and nearby skiing, I would say that you would be right. It wasn’t hard. But, on the other hand, our five years in northeast Utah showed me a different way to view winter that I’ve carried with me to southeast Wisconsin. 

The Danish call it hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), which roughly translates to “a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.” The hygge movement seems to be gaining ground in the U.S., and often involves a good book, a cup of cocoa, a fireplace and warm socks. I’ve developed my own version of hygge which is very much-aligned with the Scandinavian version, and I must say, has allowed me to embrace — not endure — our beautiful southeast Wisconsin winters. I share my hygge strategies here:

Create Ambiance 

I’m not necessarily the self-pampering type, but twinkling lights and pine-scented candles have made many-a winter evening feel almost magical. Depending on your preference, you might add a puzzle and cup of tea (or football game and mug of beer) to the mix.


Get Outside

Although not my most flattering picture, I use it to make a point: Getting outside in winter is a must. A recent study found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t You’ve heard the expression, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” right?



Can’t Get Outside Today?  

Drawing wildlife to your window can provide plenty of entertainment throughout the winter months



Engage in Hobbies

I spotted this bag of Meadowlark Organics bread flour in the Market a few weeks ago and remembered that I like to bake bread! Since then I’ve been spending weekends testing recipes from an old James Beard bread book. Volunteering, reading, puzzling, soup-making, hiking and cross-country skiing at Lapham Peak SF, keep me happily busy in the winter months. Don’t have any winter hobbies? Google “Winter Hobby Ideas” some inspiration!


Plan Some Outings

During the cold and quiet months of winter, it helps to have something to look forward to each week. Stone Bank Farm Market offers all kinds of interesting opportunities in winter, like this absolutely amazing cooking demo that I attended with Robyn Wright, the author of the, “Everywhere is Local,” cookbook.

Eat Well! Lucky are we who have an organic farm and market in our community!


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