Fort Collins, Colorado
On cold, dark afternoons, my 4-year-old daughter, Tara, and I plant a range of bulbs in colorful containers. Once the tiny, green spears appear, we bring out the pots to brighten and perfume various areas of our home. We also present them to friends―a gift of hope and beauty from our home to theirs.
Ewing, New Jersey
Pedicures aren't meant just for the summer months; I indulge in them during winter, too. There's nothing more cheerful on a cold, dreary day than to pull off heavy wool socks and see pretty, polished toes.
I refuse to wear black. No dark browns, midnight blues, or grays, either. I wear pretty twin-sets in bright red, lime green, or lavender. Bright colors work well with winter-white jeans in the cold weather.
I go through all my photos from the summer months and frame the best, warmest, and brightest ones. Then we have something to remind us of what will come after the cold goes away.
Last year I started planning my spring plantings while in the middle of a typical Ohio winter. I ordered plants and seeds and laid out my garden designs. When spring eventually came around, I had all I needed to start my work.
We spend weekends at our family cottage ice-skating, making snowmen, and roasting marshmallows over an open fire in the snow. Being out in the fresh, crisp air invigorates us, and making snow angels with our boys gives us that carefree feeling we had in childhood.
I load my camera with black-and-white film and head for the woods or a park. There's something about the lines of a tree and the shadows on a hillside in winter that is particularly suited to photography. And when the sun peeks out after a fresh snowfall, nothing is more beautiful.
I turn my mood on its head by getting active―usually in the form of a particularly challenging yoga class or an adventurous hike with Gus, our thrill-seeking Chesapeake Bay retriever. Going outside and moving never fails to recharge my body.
I move as many social commitments and obligations as I can from December to early the next year. That way I have fun activities to look forward to and I alleviate the crush and stress of an overloaded holiday social calendar.
I head to the grocery store, buy about six loaves of bread, and then find a pond full of ducks and geese.
I take ballroom-dancing lessons. The dancing is challenging and exciting, and the dark evenings pass more pleasantly.
My town has several used-book stores that are open late. When I have to trudge to the grocery store in bad weather, I tack on an extra half hour to browse among the books. Usually I find some treasure: an older mystery by an author I've just discovered or a 60s-era book on how to give a dinner party. My kids hang out in the children's section, and for the cost of a candy bar they can take home a book instead. A new story at bedtime makes everyone more tolerant of the long winter nights.
On a snowy day, there's nothing better than trudging up to the local pub to enjoy good company and conversation in a warm, inviting atmosphere. The more friends, the merrier.
St. Louis, Missouri
I enjoy cooking. I make big pots of black-bean soup along with red beans and rice, and I bake homemade bread and cookies with my children. We share with friends and neighbors and freeze the leftovers.
I spend time at home doing the things I don't have time for during the rest of the year: sewing pillowcases, organizing closets, etc. At the same time, I do all my spring cleaning, so when the nice weather rolls around I can spend the time outside in my yard rather than inside washing walls.
Each winter I learn a new hobby or craft. Last year I took up crocheting and knitting. This year I'm going to set up a darkroom and begin printing my own photographs.