7 Cold Weather Gift Ideas

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who is always cold when it’s below 50?  Or better yet, would you like to make a cold weather gift basket?  Below are seven cold weather gift ideas to include for the person in your life who is always freezing!  I am nearly always cold and I want you and your loved ones to stay warm.cold weather gift ideas

  1. Wool Clothing: I’m not talking about just any wool clothing, I’m talking about high quality merino wool clothing.  Socks, scarves, gloves, winter underwear/base layers and hats are all possibilities!  Hats, gloves and socks are more reasonably priced between $20.00 and $40.00.  My personal favorites are socks and the base layers made from this great material.  If you are decked out in wool all over your body, you are sure to stay warm. I’ve written about merino wool here.
  2. Coffee and/or Tea Sampler: This may sound like an obvious choice, but depending on whether Tea or Coffee is preferred, there are many choices of samplers that can bring a splash variety and warmth to the mug of someone who is cold and likes hot drinks!  I prefer tea and would love a sampler like this one by Mighty Leaf Tea.
  3. Portable Hot Water/Beverage Heater: As a companion to the above sampler of tea and coffee, you might consider a traveling beverage heater.  There are many models that range from a very small metal coil that plugs into your car to small travel kettles.
  4. red vestDown or Fleece Vest: You can’t underestimate the extra warmth delivered by a nice down or fleece vest that can be thrown on both indoors and outdoors.  These vests can serve as an outer layer or and inner layer!  Buy one from just about any store when it’s cold.  cool cayenne
  5. Cayenne Pepper: This may seem like a crazy gift to suggest, but these spicy capsules will go a long way in keeping your loved one toasty from the inside out!  Another benefit of this delightful spice is that it has properties that help ease the pain of digestive tract problems.  I previously reviewed the Solaray brand, but there are other brands of capsules.  You can also use the Cayenne pepper in your spice rack if you enjoy spicy foods.
  6. Microwavable Pillow: Pick up a spa pillow that heats up in the microwave in two short minutes!  Wrap it around your neck and cuddle with a book!  If you’d rather get outdoors, put it on underneath your jacket and feel some added warmth for a couple hours.  I have been using Earth Therapeutics: Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillows for years and get them from Kohl’s or Amazon.
  7. Personal Quartz Heater:  For those of us who are truly warm weather devotees, a small heater is a must have.  Personal warmth during a long day at the office or while paying bills at home, comes easily with a small heater.  Keep the house cool and make one room extra warm with a small heater.  At the office your coworkers will likely not feel the effects of your small heater.  You’ll be cheerier and more productive if you are not tense from fighting a chill. You can find a variety of these at Target, Home Depot, Kohls, Amazon and many other specialty stores.

Please share your cold weather secrets with me.  I want to stay warmer than ever this winter. –Madge

Merino Wool: The Warmest Fabric

For several years I have relied on SmartWool’s Merino Wool layers to provide winter warmth.  I am not an avid winter sports girl, in fact, I can barely stand being outside for an hour in the dead of winter.  I am paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury.  One of the side effects of my injury is that I get cold easily.  In fact, I can be cold even when my body is truly warm.  I know it sounds like an oxymoron but you just have to live the life of someone with a high level spinal cord injury to understand.  Starting in October I count the months until April and cherish each warm day.  In September, I brace myself for the blowing of cold winds and prepare for the winter chill – even in my moderate southeastern U.S. climate.194

I’ve searched high and low for every kind of heater, warm weather gear and warmth gimmick, and I seriously don’t care much about the electric bills in the winter.  I’d rather sacrifice other things to keep warm.  Once the air dries out and the temperatures drop there is nearly a constant background noise in my head whispering, ” I’m cold”.  It can be a rather annoying.

I discovered my favorite find for cool weather clothing a few years ago when I read an article about how wool keeps you warmer than synthetics and why wool is such a great fabric.

smartwool micro

People say it’s itchy, but they haven’t experienced fine merino wool made by companies like SmartWool, Icebreaker and Ibex.

I wear wool all year.  In the heat of the summer I have a couple lightweight wool tee shirts that I use as the perfect shirt.  It keeps me comfortable in the air conditioner and cool outside in the heat.

The Pros and Cons of high quality merino wool

  1. Warm:  It is by far the best solution I have found to keep warm!  In the winter I always layer with a lightweight SmartWool or Icebreaker shirt and add a mid-weight merino wool top over that.  I consider these my base layer and then if needed I put on the sweater or shirt I plan to wear on the outside.  I don’t do well with coats because they are binding on my arms, so this is what I wear all day inside and out with the exception of adding a vest occasionally.
  2. Odor resistant: Whether you perspire or not, this fabric is extremely odor resistant and does not need to be laundered often.  I wear my shirts for a couple weeks at least…  And I mean I wear the shirt underneath whatever I’m wearing for two weeks straight without washing it!  It may sound gross, but I promise even if you perspire you will be surprised how long it takes before it smells!
  3. Soft: You’ll never know you’re wearing wool!  This fabric feels a lot like cotton with stretch.  It is very comfortable and soothing.  I’ve been known to wear my lightweight wool to bed in the summer!
  4. Durable: These pieces do not wear out quickly.  They are high quality and well made.  If you have a few, you can wear them every day for multiple winters!
  5. Requires minimal care: Like I said above, you don’t need to launder them often.  My recommendation is not to launder them unless needed.  Give them the sniff test.  They are machine washable and can go in the dryer!   Sometimes I don’t put mine in the dryer and they will hold up better with fewer washes!  I have, on occasion, taken a piece that is a couple years old to the cleaners to have them freshened up.  The dry cleaners have a way with wool and can remove any pilling.  For every day care I simply lay my shirts out at night!  They can be folded or hung up for storage.
  6. Worth mending: Because I wear one of three light weight shirts next to my skin all  winter I have taken a couple to the dry cleaners to mend an elbow hole.  I’m always leaning on my elbow!
  7. Temperature regulating:  Choose the right weight and they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.



  1. Limited selection of color and styles.
  2. Price: Find a sale!  I buy most of my merino wool on sale.  At first I paid full price for a couple pieces, but now that I know I love the product, I buy on sale and clearance!  I often get it as gifts!  There is nothing like a great pair of warm wool socks for any cold nature friend!  Price is probably the reason every cold natured person doesn’t buy high quality merino wool.  Full-price for a lightweight item like a long sleeved shirt is $70-90.  A mid weight ¾ zip shirt can run $90-120.  A wonderful pair of socks can run $25-30.Smartwool Women's PhD Snowboard Medium Sock

If you are not convinced to make an investment in high quality merino wool clothing, treat yourself to a pair of SmartWool socks, then decide on your next piece.

Stay warm and share your tips for beating the cold below.


Gluten Free Pound Cake Everyone Will Love

Talk about easy. If I had known that gluten-free pound cake could be so easy I would have made it a long time ago.

Since my husband’s Celiac disease diagnosis over a year ago, he has devoured gluten-free cupcakes from Callie’s Cupcakes and Creations, an excellent local bakery, a few times, but he has not had any pound cake!

No pound cake for over a year!

I’m sure he has suffered greatly as pound cake was always his favorite dessert.
He’s been deprived – until now. I certainly won’t be able to make this too often because it is a definite indulgence for special occasions!

Here’s the recipe:poundcake

7 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar (next time I will use 3 cups sugar)
2 sticks butter (I used salted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup half and half
3 cups gluten free flour. **I use Cup4Cup – expensive but worth it!

Preheat oven to 350.
Generously butter and flour 2 loaf pans or one bundt pan. (I used one bundt pan and one loaf for smaller cakes and shortened cooking time to 40-45 mins)

Bring eggs, butter and half and half to room temperature.
Cream sugar and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla.
Add eggs one egg at a time to the creamed mixture blending each egg thoroughly. Use a spatula to scrape sides down frequently.
Mix flour and salt in separate bowl.
Alternate adding flour mixture and half and half until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 1 hour or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.
Let rest 5 minutes then remove from pan on cooling rack.

Tips and Notes
1. Don’t skimp – splurge on the Cup4Cup GF flour. You will be glad you did.
2. I was shocked at how sticky and dough-like the batter was, but the cake came out beautifully.
3. Don’t be surprised to see the cake puffing up out of the pan(s). It will fall a bit when it comes out of the oven.
4. Enjoy with berries and whipped cream or go all out like I did and make some cream cheese frosting to add as desired.
5. This cake freezes nicely!

Enjoy this rich cake by itself, buttered and toasted in the oven, with berries and cream or with a bit of frosting… There is no way to go wrong with this cake.

Your friends will not believe it’s gluten-free.


Life Can Turn on a Dime – Pt. 7

This is part of a series about experiences related to a life change at age 18 when I lost control of my car and became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. See part 1 for more background.

A few weeks after my accident and shortly after surgery. The weather was nice enough for some relaxation on the porch in the late afternoons when mom stopped by after work.

So grateful I have learned how to take care of my skin without laying down every thirty minutes when the timer alerts! That was my first experience of ‘weight shifts’ for healthy skin!

New Appreciation and Caution
When I started sharing my story last year I had no personal experience with skin breakdown. Because of the intensive training I received during rehab, I was proud of the fact that I had good skin and avoided the commonly experienced complication of skin breakdown which can lead to surgery and many weeks of down time and further skin vulnerability. As I write this entry, I am healing from my first and only true pressure sore smack dab on my bottom!  Somehow I believed that my “perfect trouble-free skin” would never need such pampering.

This new-found caution concerns me, but more than that it gives me a chuckle as I look at these pictures and think, wow, a few months ago my outlook and appreciation for the ritual of regular weight shifts was entirely different.

A Class Disruption
A month after my discharge from rehab, the process of weight shifts in college calculus class was something that could have embarrassed me right out of the room. But somehow, by the grace of God, I was faithful to interrupt integrals and derivatives every thirty to forty-five minutes.

My big tan wheelchair sounded like a loud drill whirling into metal as a light touch of a button took me from an upright position to flat on my back…silenced for only a minute, the whirling sound brought me back up and erect. Classmates politely pretended like they didn’t notice.  I was a sight to see…half bald, in a big noisy wheelchair! I wore a metal brace to hold a felt tip pen that I used to scribble giant numbers in my notebook as I learned how to write without finger movement – pencils were out because they take too much pressure!

Grace Disguised
Yikes! Looking back, I’m amazed at God’s grace. I didn’t realize what a mess I was – a real disaster on the outside! But it was one day at a time then and it is one day at a time now just like everyone else.

One day at a time.  Yes each day of calculus class was precious and so is this very day.

Let’s use this day wisely no matter what circumstances we face.  This is our only today.

Love deeply.  Extend much grace to yourself and others.

Read on to part 8