Winter Essentials – A Noob’s Guide to Survival in the North

Well, honestly, I feel like a bit of a fraud writing this. What the hell do I know about winter? Even my first winter in Vermont had the training wheels firmly in place. Only one or two days below 0F, hardly any snow accumulation ever, wind mostly behaving. But still – it’s more winter than I’ve ever experienced so far, and as such, my skincare and wardrobe needed some adjusting. So I thought I’d share with you guys a few things that saved my bacon over the last few months.

First, let’s talk wardrobe.

Right up until late November, my light North Face mid-layer jacket mostly did the job. But by the time December came along, it was time for the big guns.

The North Face Women’s Arctic Down Parka – $299

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I got this in navy. I tossed up between navy and teal, and the strangest thing happened while this was in the cupboard unseen between August and December – I forgot completely that I bought navy, and pictured it in teal in my head. Imagine my surprise when I pulled it out. I shhould have bought teal, but navy is one of My Colors and so I guess I just went with what I always buy. Big mistake! Anyway, it’s an absolutely excellent parka. It’s exactly what I wanted – waterproof, windproof, a big (faux)furry hood, deep pockets and long enough to hit me at about knee level. Worth every penny.

Uniqlo HEATTECH thermal underlayers – approx $20 a piece

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I LOVE this range. Honestly, next year I’ll buy even more of it, because there were weeks when I needed a pair for every day of the week. These are so soft and warm and not bulky at all, really thin and just perfect under any items of clothing including skinny jeans. Most importantly, they were absolutely perfect under scrubs, which is what I wear 5 days out of 7. Absolute winners in my book!

Uniqlo Women’s Extra-Fine Merino Sweaters – $30

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I actually got these in Australia, on the day of my ill-fated visa interview. It was a defiance purchase. “TELL ME I CAN’T GO TO AMERICA, WILL YOU?! JUST WATCH ME BUY THE MOST INAPPROPRIATE-FOR-AUSTRALIA THING I CAN FIND!” I bought three of them – one in black, one in red and one in teal. I have worn these ALL WINTER. They’re perfect as under-layers on especially cold days, and as mid-layers as well. On more spring/fall temp days they’re fine as outer layers. They’re soft, not cashmere soft (I wouldn’t wear this straight over a bra, for example) but soft enough for comfortable wear over a tank top, and thin enough fabric to wear, you guessed it: under scrubs.

Hunter Side Adjustable “Norris Field” Tall Rain Boots – $160

I was lucky enough to receive this as a gift for Christmas from my mother, who lives in the UK and knows a Hunter rep! As such, I’m not 100% sure that the ones in the link are the ones I have. But anyway – I. Love. Them. They’re so easy to wear – which sounds silly, but my other tall winter boots are fiddly and hard work to put on. These ones are just step-in, adjust the strap then go. I got some boot socks too which are really helpful when it’s very cold. I love that these boots are wide enough to not be tight on my large calves, and classy enough to be worn with nice jeans to a decent restaurant, for example. Huge fan!

As for skincare, well, I didn’t change too much. Maybe I should’ve – I’d love to hear if you guys have any must-haves for winter skin.

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The biggest problem for me in cold, dry weather is my lips. They are kinda wrinkly and weird anyway and they seem to chap and flake so fast. The only thing I’ve ever found to both effectively treat and prevent this is the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. It’s pricey but it’s worth it, 100%. It’s honestly amazing. I sometimes switch to other things and the change is immediately noticeable. The only complaint I have about this product is that the product is extremely thick, so if it gets cold, it’s basically impossible to squeeze it out of the tube. But you only need a tiny bit, so the tube goes a long way.

I don’t like to put moisturizer or serum onto a completely dry face so I’ve been using the La Roche Posay Serozinc facial mist / toner to moisten my skin after the shower. It contains zinc sulfate so it’s great for combating spots as well as being a hydrating agent that’s perfect for prepping skin for treatments. The mist is super fine so it doesn’t feel like a jet of water in your face – bonus! The bottle is pretty big and I’m nowhere near finishing the one I got in early December – pretty longlasting for a mist!

I had a terrible cold for the last few weeks, it’s finally kicking the bucket now (thanks at least in part to a z-pack I was prescribed after finally going to the doctor) but while I was blowing my nose every 8 seconds, the skin around my nostrils and upper lip area was cracked and red. It was horrible. It was so tender and painful, my life was hell! At least until I grabbed a little travel size tube of Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy “Aloe” cream. It really seemed to heal and treat the skin so fast! I applied it a couple of times a day and used a balm at night to lock it in (I just used the Bite Beauty balm), and my tender, cracked skin cleared up really quickly. So this is a very specific thing to talk about but it was such a relief that it immediately jumped to mind when I decided to do this post! It’s readily available at all drugstores in both travel size and full size.

You all know I adore my oil cleansers and my latest favorite is no exception. The Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel Illuminating Vitamin Facial Cleanser (phew!) has a pretty big following in the UK and since some of my favorite bloggers are British, it had been on my wishlist for awhile. Americans (and Australians) can pick it up from BeautyBay. It’s kinda pricey, but the container is large and the pump is fantastic. Its name is misleading – it’s really more of a balm/oil hybrid than a gel. It’s absolutely fabulous for getting rid of all traces of makeup and sunscreen at the end of the day, and it smells nice too.

Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid is one I think I’ve talked about before. It’s basically a liquid hydration booster that I like to add to my skincare at night. Specifically, I like to mix it in with my CeraVe PM Moisturizing Lotion. The latter is one of my absolute favorite skincare items of late. It’s super affordable and packed full of hard-working ingredients – namely niacinamide and ceramides – to keep your skin looking and feeling hydrated. I actually use this in the morning too (minus the Ceramidin Liquid).

Finally, lemme admit something: my trend of being SO BAD at putting body lotion on has not gotten better but when I have remembered to use it, I’ve been reaching for the Nivea Cocoa Butter Body Lotion. I love the convenient pump pack, and I love the cheap-as-chips price. Lately my husband has had really dry skin too so I’ve been smearing this all over his arms and legs and it’s been working a treat to make him feel more comfortable. It’s a winner. It smells delicious too!

Thanks for reading, and like I said, feel free to share your winter products or purchases! Looking outside today you’d be hard pressed to believe that winter is over – it’s below freezing, windy as hell and this morning it snowed. What the heck, Vermont?!

Now that I’m working full time I don’t expect to be posting more than once a week. The days are longggg. But I’m gonna do my best to post regularly! I promise!

Love+++
F&V

Style: J.W. Hulme Bag & Passport Wallet

I decided early this year that I wanted a forever purse/handbag. I wanted a bag that maybe sometime in the future my kid would use it. The hard part about researching it is that I’m new to the country, so I wasn’t sure where to look. I had a vision for what I wanted, but it was hard to put into words! I didn’t want a ‘designer’ type one, like a LV or Michael Kors or anything, partly because I am trying to source my “big” pieces a little more ethically (this is only a personal choice and absolutely not something I would judge anyone else for choosing not to do, not everyone is able to make that choice) and also because I wanted something with a more unique, “rough” feel. I honestly can’t describe what I wanted. But when I found it (thanks to my wonderful friend Danielle), I knew it was love. I decided on the Elliott Satchel from J.W. Hulme in Saddle Leather.

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You can see it’s taken a bit of battering already – just how I like my leather!

It took me a long time of trawling through the J. W. Hulme website to decide which one I wanted. My friend had bought the Washburn tote. I decided on the Elliot satchel (after a lot of opinion-asking, even of the JWH team themselves, poor things). One of my reviews of the website elicited a popup of the “join up to receive a discount” reminder so I did that too. 15% off $595 aint nothing to sniff at! Because that took like $90+ off the total price, I also grabbed myself a gorgeous green leather passport holder. I’ve wanted a passport wallet for a long time but couldn’t find anything perfect.

Anyway, here’s some pics of the Elliot satchel:

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Zip for security

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Plenty of room and no annoying dividers! Is that just me?

And here’s the passport wallet:

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ALSO MONOGRAMMED!

Anyway, a lot of my favorite people came together to help me fund this investment (my mum, dad, husband and parents-in-law) and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Shipping was fast, communication was great. I can’t say enough good things about this company!

Sidenote: just yesterday I got a little thank you card, hand-addressed, in the mail from JWH for making a purchase! How great is that! This whole experience makes me so happy.

And don’t get me started on the smell of leather…

Stay tuned for winter favorites.

Love+++
F&V