Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celebrate the Home Hearth

It's time to congratulate ourselves. We have officially passed the halfway point of Old Man Winter's reign. Spring is less than six weeks away, and soon the white blanket outside will turn into the early brown mush of a new season. But if the thought another month (or more) of winter boots and icy weather makes you want to crawl into a nice warm space until it all goes away, do it. Rather than fight the urge to hibernate, why not give into the desire to curl up by the fire and forget about winter's last blast.

In ancient times, February was the month to celebrate the home hearth fire. When fuel and food supplies began to run low, our ancestors would gather around the hearth to share the warmth of the fire and conserve their energy. The warm fires inside were symbolic of the returning of the sun’s warming rays to the earth outside.

So, instead of rebelling when nature urges us to slow down, we should indulge ourselves. With Valentine’s Day only a week away, why not indulge our loved ones, too? Turn off the computer, television and other electronic stimuli and reignite your passionate self with the following suggestions:

Shower in the dark. I discovered this truly sensual delight completely by accident. Most days I'm up before the dawn, and on one particular occasion I clearly hadn't had enough sleep before the alarm awakened me. The thought of turning on the lights in the bathroom was more than my bloodshot eyes could bear, so I showered in the dark. It was such a delightful experience that I have made it a part of my daily routine ever since. One word of advice – make sure that you know the difference between the shampoo and conditioner before you start

One of the most sensual pleasures is bathing by candlelight. Pour yourself a glass of wine, light the candles and soak your cares away. If you're lucky enough to have a Jacuzzi or at least a large bathtub, you can save energy by sharing the tub with your partner.

If you're lucky enough to have a real fireplace, turn off the oven, throw a log on the fire, and have a romantic wiener roast, followed by a chocolate (organic please) fondue for two. It’s sensual, delicious and it warms the heart.

Read to each other by candlelight. Poetry is best.

Take the time to rediscover the joy of conversation. Unplug the phone and complete whole sentences. If you have small children, tell them stories about your own childhood, or invite their grandparents over to talk about life before cell phones, computers and the Internet.

Spend a day at the "beach" with your family. Pack up your bathing suits and enjoy an indoor swimming pool at your local recreational centre. (No sunscreen required!)

Cook up a giant pot of stew or soup in an energy saving slow cooker and let its aroma fill your home. Make enough for a couple of days so you can take a night off from cooking.

Have dinner by candlelight. This not only saves energy, but candlelight has a wonderful way of disguising our imperfections and illuminating our finest features. In the glow of candlelight, wrinkles disappear, leaving nothing but the sparkle in our eyes.

Use beeswax candles rather than regular wax candles, which are made from a petroleum by-product, a non-renewable resource. In addition, unlike beeswax candles, which burn cleanly, petroleum wax candles can release toxins into the air. For safety’s sake, use votives, hurricane or other glass enclosures when burning candles and don’t forget to blow them out at the end of your romantic evening.

Buy that book that you've always wanted to read and escape into someone else’s imagination. Go to bed early or snuggle late in bed. (I think there should be a law that nobody should get out of bed in the morning if it's dark!)

Flip through old family photos or organize those photos into albums. Research your family tree.

Listen to music and dance like nobody’s watching. It will warm your body and your soul. Before you know it, Spring will be here!


For more than 500 slow cooker recipes, check out www.ecrockpot.com.

Research your family tree at www.genealogytoday.com.


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