large red labradoodle dog in the snow

I’m a summer girl. Give me high temps and humidity any day of the year! But since I live in Chicago, I have to contend with winter. And while I celebrate the change in seasons, I know what lies ahead. Shorter days. Longer nights. Colder weather. And lots and lots of snow. (Be still my beating heart. #sarcasm)

So what to do this time of year? How do you celebrate the season when you are longing for its opposite? Do you stare at the calendar and cradle a bottle of sand (or rosé) from your summer vacation in your arms? Or close your eyes and click your heels three times while repeating “There’s no place like the beach”?

That seems defeatist and certainly not my style. As a warrior woman, I am charging head first into the days ahead. With my sword brandished and my mighty steeds by my side (by “steeds” I mean Ralph and Sam).

Fall and Winter offer us an opportunity to reflect back and cozy up. The Danish have a word for a certain coziness. Hygge. And while it looks as funny as it is to pronounce (hew-ga or hoo-ga), it makes a lot of sense… especially for a sun worshiper such as myself.

So what is Hygge and how do you incorporate it into those winter days and nights? Well, it is difficult to define. Basically, you know Hygge when you feel it. It brings a sense of comfort, relaxation and togetherness to your space. Its expression is individual. For me, some key components are LightLayers and Love.

Hygge-warmth, comfort…whatever makes you feel content
Image from: Tumblr: myparadissi

Light: When it disappears from the sky, bring it inside! 

With Fall/Winter brings the dreaded Daylight Savings Time. “Falling back” can really throw off our body’s Circadian rhythm. But thanks to innovative lighting advances, we can control indoor light to combat the winter blues. I learned about this when invited by Barretts to NYC to meet with automation and smart home technology companies in May. I was able to see first hand how you can use lighting tech to help you wake up or wind down at the end of the day by programming your lighting to imitate sunrise and sunset. Of course, you can do loads of other cool things like set the mood for a party or replicate morning daylight to give you a boost. The great thing is you can add this technology by room with or whole house – with or without wiring. Lutron Lighting Control info.

While in NYC I was also able to hit some of my favorite lighting showrooms like Roll and Hill and Ochre and find some new favorites like Katy Skelton.

Layers: In Fashion and for the Home.

We need to snuggle! Soft scarves and throws are a must to manage the winter chill. I found this super cool scarf on FrankieShop…it actually has buttons and a collar. 

Sferra makes the most luxurious bedding, but I love their cashmere throws. A splurge for sure, but you’ll keep this little baby your whole life.

Speaking of fashion…While in New York, I also took some time to see the Kips Bay House. This showhouse is like a runway show for the home produced by the Interior Design community. Much like entire runway fashion looks don’t make their way into your closet, living in a home that is designed by the creatives and for the creatives isn’t exactly “liveable” for most people. Some rooms can be a bit… much. However, there are ideas here well worth layering into your home. The addition of a graphic wallpaper, some yummy textural pillows or an unexpected accessory or two can bring brightness and interest that are missing on snowy winter nights. 

Trends to watch: layering pattern and color; curved sofas; graphic paper; sculpture/totems; a little 80’s goes a long way.

Young Huh, LLC. Photography by Kelly Cleveland
Studio DB. Photography by Matthew Williams Photography
Jeff Lincoln Interiors, Inc. Photography by Nickolas Sargent

Love: Or, Things that Make Me Happy This Time of the Year.

If you know me, you know I love a “good stink” by which I mean a fantastic candle that can transport you to a different time and place. My all time fave is by Cire Trudon and is descriptively named Carmelite. It is characterized as “The scent of ancient stone-walls, in the shade of cloisters and convents, this fragrance of fresh and mossy stone”. Maybe it’s the good catholic girl side of me that is drawn to the scent of an ancient convent or maybe it’s the good Wisconsin girl that feels at home smelling woody, mossy notes. You can find the entire collection at one of my favorite local shops Jayson Home and Garden.

Lotions and Potions

Chaffed hands are the devil’s workshop… Or something like that. Winter can do a number on our hands. I adore the Weleda Skin Food or a little more indulgent Aesop’s Baume Revérence to keep the devil at bay. A little self care can go a long way when winter comes. Warning…like my candles my fave potions lean toward the earthy v. flowery.

Which leads me to: Friends and Family

I’d like to introduce you to my dear friend and KCI’s Director of Client Experience, Chadwick Godfrey. He is the perfect person to opine on Holiday entertaining.

Take it away, Chadwick…

I was tickled when Kelly asked me to dash off a note about celebrating the season with friends and family, as I consider her both. (After 25 years of friendship, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite people!)  Kelly knows I have a passion for the calendar. Whether it is carving a pumpkin or decking the halls, I love adding a seasonal layer to the home. If you have a moment, check out the links below to a few of my favorite winter things. I look forward to celebrating with you throughout the year!

Caught my Eye: Custom Holiday Matches

Instead of sending a holiday card, my husband and I have custom matches created every year. Pair with a seasonal candle for a thoughtful holiday gift!

Caught my Tongue: The Old Sage Cocktail

Speaking of getting lit, there’s a delicious seasonal cocktail at Le Colonial that I’ve now gone back multiple times to enjoy. (BTW, If you haven’t checked out their new incarnation on Oak Street… run don’t walk! It is a stunner!) I’ve begged for the recipe, but to no avail. However, after a little sleuthing around, I found a close substitute.

The Old Sage


2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

2 ounces lemon juice

1 ½ ounces sage simple syrup

3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Lemon slice for garnish

Sage leaf or sprig for garnish

To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!

Caught my Ear: Ana Gasteyer “Sugar and Booze”

Because what would the holidays be without a little of both?

And that, my dears, brings us back to the concept of Hygge. Sitting here, wrapped in my Sferra throw, under the warmth of a 100 lb labradoodle, with a yummy cup of Tea Forte African Solstice, writing to you brings me comfort and solace. I am reminded of a lovely quote by the eccentric Edith Sitwell. “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk by the fire. It is the time for home.”

The KCI team hopes you find yourself surrounded by the people that bring you joy and happiness. Happy Holidays!

Keeping Up with KCI:

What I’m MakingRussian Tea Cakes

What I’m ReadingEleanor Oliphant is Completely FineHow We Fight For Our LivesThe Witch Elm.

What I’m Watching: The Politician, The Crown, Explained, The Spy

What I’m Listening to: Click the photo below to listen along to my Fall and Winter Playlist: 


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