What to do when You’re an Adult with a Snow Day

Nemo found us.
Nemo found us.

We didn’t know we were looking for him, but Nemo found us and brought with him some friends: snow, sleet, winds, ice, closed offices, and a long weekend.

Booya!

When you’re a kid, snow means endless possibilities all of which allow you to throw off responsibilities, built forts and live in a world of storybook make believe. When you’re an adult, the opportunity to stay out of the office, off the roads, and forgo errands opens the doors to all sorts of “grown-up” activities. Here are a few thoughts about how to spend your snowed-in Nemo weekend.

Turn your living room into a yoga studio

Or a personal gym. For the last year, I’ve been receiving daily (or is it weekly?) emails from Women’s Health and Shape magazine with smart, fast, efficient at home workouts. They’ve been accumulating digital dust in my inbox as have the various resistant bands and kettle bells I’ve collected over the years (in my defense — I do have a gym membership that gets exercised 5 times a week). But the blizzard was a good excuse to see if that 8 minute workout really does the trick… summer abs, here I come, courtesy of Nemo.

Learn how to work your curling iron

I’m infamously terrible at using styling appliances. Even an eyeliner pencil has been turned into a near weapon in my presence. I thought the mastering of a diffuser to dry my curls was monumental. And then for Christmas, a thoughtful friend gave me a curling iron to “help me tame my tresses on opening nights!” I think I thought this was a good idea…. until the 3rd degree burn on my ear and the malfunction that somehow turned the curling iron into a flattening iron. How does that work?

By the time Nemo rolls through, I’ll be a styling pro.

Get crafty. Make your own Valentines!
Get crafty. Make your own Valentines!

Make homemade Valentines

It’s only a few days away, and hallmark isn’t what it used to be, let’s face it. Why not get crafty? Or, there’s always macaroni picture frame if greeting cards ain’t your thang.

Cook a big pot of soup

Or throw together a hearty cassoulet. If home-cooked meals are something you haven’t had a chance to do for a while, there’s no better excuse to make a big pot of some comfort food.

and now for my favorite…. last but not least….

Revert to being an 8 year old

Carelessly, frolic in the snow. Go sledding, build a snowman, make snow angels. Get as close to getting frostbite on your nose and fingertips as you can, and then come inside, shake off the snow, mull some wine or spike your cocoa before curling up in front of the fire, with your blankie.

When all else fails, reconnect with your inner child and go sledding
When all else fails, reconnect with your inner child and go sledding
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Does Bubble Wrap Have a Right Side Up?

The calendar tells me it’s closer to Valentine’s Day than it is to Christmas, and yet until yesterday the stockings were still hung by the chimney with care. There’s no room for Cupid’s arrows and heart-shaped chocolates when your home is still overrun with elves and 8 tiny reindeer.

Traditionally, the family commences de-decorating on the first day of the New Year. It takes all the 12 Days of Christmas and then some to get each turtle dove and leaping lord out of its box, but usually we’ve closed the book on Christmas by January 2nd.

Not this year.

De-Christmasing requires heavy artillery, dogged determination, and a stiff drink.

It’s hard to let go of the holiday spirit when you’re buried under a snow drift. Plus, the 9 dancing ladies find the basement very dreary. My feet were dragging, but eager to begin the march towards robins, daffodils, and bunnies, I finally armed myself for de-Christmasing.

I stood in front of the table and assessed my supplies. It was all there:

A roll of bubble wrap, 4 feet in diameter

3 rolls of scotch tape

2 lbs of tissue paper (acquired for free from an unattended cash register in the menswear department at Bloomingdales)

Empty plastic boxes and large, brown department store bags

2 Sharpies– one red, one black

Bottle of gin

A straw

In the past, stowing away Christmas has been left to my father — which explains why more than one of the reindeer are missing feet. It’s also why I never realized how much more work it is to put away the holiday cheer than it is to spread it. A whole day spent wrapping wreaths in tissue paper and  porcelain evergreens in bubble wrap. A whole day sorting gift wrap into drawers and bells into boxes. A whole day nagged by the question: does bubble wrap have a right side up? I guess I’ll find out in 11 months when I unwrap Mickey Santa.

The glow of LED lightbulbs in the snow -- it's a carnival in ice crystals

One thing I refused to take down and store away are the outdoor lights. The city is swamped in slush. The sidewalks smothered in Mt. Everest-sized snow piles. Winter is growing dreary. Yet, the red, green, and blue lights bring a bit of joy. There’s something about looking out the window at the glow of LED lightblubs playing on the snow that cuts through the gray gloom — it’s a little carnival in ice crystals. The winter promises to be long. Will I be willing to put away the Christmas lights before July?  Here’s hoping.

A Soundtrack for Yet Another Snow Day

A month and a week into winter and we’ve been bludgeoned by 7 snowstorms. Record accumulations. Headline clean-up catastrophes. Headline clean-up triumphs. Temperatures at historic lows. A persistent winter wonderland.

Enough with all this ice. Winter, I'm over you.

There’s another storm raging outside my living room window. The snow sits so heavily on bare branches that the wailing winds can’t budge them. Yes, if there was ever a January to ignore the world and cozy up in front of the fire with someone cuddly, January 2011 has been the January for it. But the novelty of mornings spent shoveling followed by afternoons spent snowshoeing, has worn off.  After 7 snow storms, I’ve had enough of winter. I’m over cozy. Give me sunny.

I’ve been looking at pictures of my last trips to Cozumel and Cuba, longing for a beach. To get me through another icy day locked at home, I’ve assembled a  summery, sing-alongable playlist that will hopefully get me through another snow day:

  1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals — There’s a blizzard. It’s below freezing. Get me outta here. nuff said.
  2. Mercy by Duffy — These snowflakes have me begging the weather gods for mercy.
  3. Temperature by Sean Paul — please, give me some place (or someone) with the right mercury reading to shelter me from the storm.
  4. July, July by The Decemberists– It’s mostly because of the title, but the fact it’s a great sing-along song doesn’t hurt either.
  5. Louie, Louie by Chuck Berry — There’s something about Chuck Berry that always makes me think convertibles, flip-flops, and summer nights.
  6. Brazil by Pink Martini — Smooth and jazzy, a song about June moons and exotic love. Yes, please.
  7. Everything about Sheryl Crow makes me think of sunshine

    All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow — …is have some fun. Hypothermia is not fun.

  8. Pacific Coast Party by Smashmouth — Smashmouth always provides the quintessential summer soundtrack. This is a song about California, California sun, and California parties. It’s 40 degrees warmer in California.
  9. Someone to Call my Lover by Janet Jackson — Carefree Janet
  10. Alejandro by Lady Gaga — What’s a playlist without a little Gaga? And when vacations are on the brain, there’s nothing like daydreams about a Spanish lover to take you far, far, away. A winter wonderland doesn’t stand a chance.

The Incident of the Raccoon in the Night Time

I feel I should preface this story by telling you that, despite incidents like the one I’m about to recount, my parents are determined to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary come this September.

Over the years, my father has saved everything from mourning doves to families of squirrels.

My father is a notoriously mushy animal lover. He claims that if he could do it all over again, he’d design fighter jets for the Air Force, but I’m convinced he’d like to be Jane Goodall. When my mother met him, he had a pet turtle that lived in a pot near the stove. Things didn’t end well for the turtle, but let that not become representative of  the fate of animals to come. Over the years he’s rescued mourning doves, sparrows, rabbits, and families of squirrels, all in addition to presiding over our own pack of terriers. But last week, my father’s dogged determination to save all creatures great and small nearly got him killed…by his wife and daughter.

It was just after 10:00PM on Wednesday night. Top Chef All-Stars was still recapping last week’s episode when my 4-year old Irish Terrier started whining and barking as if to warn us the end of the world was coming.

“She probably wants to go out,” my father said as he pulled on his snow boots, acting both martyr and chaperon.

Only minutes passed before he was dragging the barking dog back into the house.

“Aww! There’s a baby raccoon under the porch! And it’s crying. It must be hurt,” he cried.

I’ve never seen my mother move so fast.

“Leave it alone. LEAVE. IT. A. LONE! It might be Rabid. IT. MIGHT. BE. RABID.” It’s hard to know who was more vexed — the dog who wanted to make mincemeat out of the raccoon, or my mother who wanted to make mincemeat out of my father.

“Kathleen! Get me a box and the pick-up-stuff claw,” my father cried over the protestations of both the terrier and his wife.

sure, sometimes a raccoon in your backyard is cute. sometimes, it's just rabid.

“Kathleen! You will do no such thing. Come here! Tell your father he’s being an idiot. He won’t listen to me. Tell him to call animal control!”

“Dad,” I said calmly, “call animal control.”

“Oh, but it’s crying. Maybe it’s just separated from it’s mother. I can save it. Get me the drop cloth.”

“DAD! Leave it alone. We have dogs. It’s a raccoon. That’s a wild animal. Call animal control. It could be rabid.” I swear, it was like trying to negotiate with a deaf hostage taker who was demanding a get away car and amnesty but had turned off his hearing aid.

“Why don’t you call animal control. I’ll wait here with it.”

“No! You will stay away from it! It could be RABID,” my mother and I commanded, in a scary synchronization.

Soon my father was outside with the guy from animal control, searching the hedges for a potentially rabid raccoon with what amounted to two key-chain flashlights and a vaulter’s pole.

After 30 minutes, my father stomped snow and pine needles into the house. “It looks like the raccoon went back to its mother. I don’t think it was rabid. Just lost. Happy Ending!”

The raccoon did not go back to it’s mother. There was no happy ending.

Cute though they may be, in the winter at night time, my favorite raccoon is a vintage fur coat.

12 hours later, the sun was up and my father, 2 men from animal control, and an armed policeman were in a stand off in our yard with a now certifiably crazed and rabid raccoon. The raccoon was exterminated.

“So, ummm, Kathleen, do you want a Davey Crocket hat to go with your fur coat?” he said as he came back into the house. “I have to go back out and do some paperwork with the police officer. Something to do with discharging his firearm.”

My mother and I turned to look at him, “I Told You So” dripping from our eyes like venom from the snake’s fangs.

“While you’re at it,” my mother hollared, “You can search the yard for raccoon poop. We don’t want the dogs eating it. And you know, in 50 years, one ‘I’m sorry, you were right’ wouldn’t kill you!”

“Well, I’ve made it this long without one, so you never know… it might.”

3 Guys and 3 Dates vs. the Blizzard and “Say Yes to the Dress”

The best-laid, over-ambitious plans of mice and single women often go awry.

3 guys. 3 dates scheduled, snowed-out and rescheduled…all for one Friday. Could it be done? The men and the proposed timetable seemed agreeable: one date would be with a doctor for a professional NY sports team who had an afternoon off. The second would be early evening drinks with a guy I had had crush on when I 17 . The last would be dinner with a guy I had uncharacteristically made-out with at a bar. I had the dress, the shoes, and the stamina. They had the charm and the credit cards. What none of us had going for us was the weather.

It was a romantic winter wonderland... but a winter wonderland condusive for 3 dates in one night?

I woke up Friday Power-Date Day to a raging blizzard. Hand-sized snowflakes blurred the trees 10 feet from my window and coated the streets. Date 1: snow-checked, again. Dates 2 and 3: pending.

By early evening, the snow had relented and the streets were being cleared. It would not have been impossible to forsake the new designer pumps in the name of sturdy boots. It would not have been impossible to head out into the night for lightweight flirtations buoyed by liquid fortification. I called Bachelors 2 and 3 — the winter-weather advisory was still in effect until morning. Should we meet wearing our snowshoes or cross-country skis?

3 guys. 3 dates scheduled, snowed-out, rescheduled, snowed-out, and rescheduled.

My dates now canceled, I was content to be snuggled in alone. With my phone turned off and my sweat pants on, I turned my TV on and tuned in to TLC. Sometimes, hot cocoa tastes better when enjoyed along side other guilty pleasures… like wedding-themed reality TV.

Outside, one snow storm settled while another loomed in the coming week.

Somewhere in the city a couple was grateful for sloppy street cleanups giving them an excuse to be snowed-in for a weekend together.

Inside my living-room, a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon raged and I was a willing, if not unexpected captive.

What to do when your date gets snowed out? Watch a "Say Yes to the Dress" marathon, of course!

Friday Night Winter Coat Woes: To Check or Not to Check?

“Enjoy the chilly weather,” a friend said in a text message. “Sometimes it seems I’m the only one who enjoys it!”

“Not so! I love the cold! It saves me blush step when I’m ‘putting on my face!'” I enthusiastically typed in reply.

Getting ready for a summer night on the town has its appeal, particularly in the lack of clothes required...

The late sunset, the empowering “good-bye” to layers, wool tights, and a multi-moisturizer makeup regime — certainly, going out on sultry summer nights has its appeal. But as any girl who has found her foundation dripping down her face and sweat stains stretching to her waist knows, getting ready for a carefree (read: humid and blistering) summer night is no carefree task. The onset of the winter chill is a surprising relief.

“Scarf appropriate” earrings must be considered (you don’t want your chandeliers snagging your cashmere), but otherwise, winter nights on the town are reasonably low maintenance. When things turn frosty, I can use a hairdryer without the extra 2 coats of antiperspirant. I can look to sensible, rugged flat boots for almost all evening occasions. And thanks to movement-friendly leggings with figure-flattering sweater dresses, I can transition from day into night with a mere swipe of red lipstick.

The catch? That whole “coat problem.”

Hats stay on heads and scarves swirl around necks as parts of an ensemble. Gloves slip into pockets and earmuffs into purses. But those long, inflated, element-proof outerwear garments don’t fade into the background so easily.

If you’re lucky to find a lounge with a coat check, problem solved. At most, all you need to worry about is a dollar tip at the end of the night. But make your way to the typical crowded bar, and things get more complicated.

Hats and scarves become part of an ensemble, while mittens and earmuffs dissapear into purses.

I walked into the dimly-lit Keats on 2nd Avenue and took a quick survey of the throbbing alleyway of pint glasses, rosy cheeks, and navy sweaters. “Are there coat hooks anywhere?” my friend asked. Apparently, somewhere at the back of the pub there were small brass hooks triple hung with peacoats and ski jackets. Was there room for her black wool coat among the sea of like-styled black wool coats? Didn’t look like it.

Sometimes, hooks are strategically pinned under mahogany bar tops. Supply is usually scarce. If you happen to find yourself at a bar with back-rest enhanced bar stools, you’re in luck – a built-in coat hanger at your seat. Find yourself at a bar sans the aforementioned amenities and your MacGyver instincts have to kick-in.

This many accessories does pose a challenge at the local Public House

I stood at the bar, with a pint of Blue Moon in one hand, my knee-length quilted mauve Burberry in the other, backless stool in front of me, and awkwardly attempted to find a solution. “You could hang it on your knee when you sit down” was one suggestion. Okay, here goes. Before I could take a sip from the glass, my coat was in a heap on the sticky floor.

Why don’t you sit on it? That seemed like a good plan until I wiggled onto the coat-draped bar stool, watching the head on my ale teeter-totter close to lip of the glass. It was then I hooked my heel on the coat’s pocket instead of the stool’s support rut.

The rip was audible and the footprint insoluble. Mild panic.

As I slipped off the stool, my butt sent my coat tumbling to the floor again. To add insult to injury, while on the ground, it had picked up the powdery remnants of a bowl of peanuts. The 5 second rule is a lie. I still had a full pint in my hand. It was too early to retire. I picked up the coat, examined the stool, and proceeded to re-drape my now wounded outerwear. Sigh. The damage had already been done, the least I could do was finish my drink and make sure I had a place to rest my feet.