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Making Life A Bit Cozier Right Now + Some Of My Favorite Things

Living in Southern California (pre-covid) I don’t think I had the extreme need to be cozy in the winter – the light and year-round sun just barely called for it. Then lockdown in the mountains changed everything, and now in Portland, when November rolls around I have my tools, my go-to things that make me and my house feel really cozy (which is an inherent mood boost to combat any potential SAD). So today I’m sharing a few things that could help your life feel cozier and take advantage of these short days and dark nights.

The Faux Fur Throw Blankets

styled by emily henderson and emily bowser | photo by steven Mcdonald | from: what’s next in fall decor from crate & barrel (spoiler: it’s real cozy) + my personal rules on designing with extreme comfort in mind

I have A LOT of blankets and while I know that “faux fur” isn’t as chic as a handmade woven wool blanket (I love both) during these months I want to feel like I’m being snuggled by 20 bunny rabbits at all times.

Crate & Barrel Faux Fur Throw Blanket

We (myself and the kids) have always loved these Target ones (see below) and I still do, but when doing this Crate & Barrel job this year I couldn’t believe how soft this new throw was. When I got home from the shoot I bought it for myself (and now fight with my kids over it). It’s splurgier but literally NO ONE will dislike this throw (thus making it a great gift, too).

Textured Faux Fur Reversible Throw Blanket

The Pillow

Italian Velvet Pillow Cover

I’m trying to figure out what makes these pillows more soft and cozy than others and I think it’s the silk velvet material and the down insert. They are SO cushy, not stiff (I hate when you bounce off a pillow that you want to sink into). These are splurgy but I can promise they are really soft and cuddle-able.

The Candles

Reflection Glass Candle | Ginger Black Tea Candle

I’ve been bathing to this Target scent for almost four years now and still love it. It’s definitely more year-round (not a fall or holiday scent) but the ritual of lighting it and the smell put me at ease immediately. The other one is also a Target candle and is beloved by Jess. This is what she had to say about it.

From Jess: This is by far my favorite candle of the moment. Are you ready?? Ginger Black Tea. It’s the perfect season transition candle because it’s light for the summer but still warming and cozy to get you gently prepared for fall. A total random find that now is in heavy rotation. O and it’s only $10. Dreams really do come true.

Thymes Frasier Fir Candle

Here’s another wonderful cult classic option that will absolutely get you into the holiday mood. Oh, and Sara is the president candle expert so she is the most trustworthy!

From Sara: If you’re looking for the perfect holiday candle, THIS is the one. There are a lot of “Frasier Fir” candles out there this time of year, but for me, none have compared to Thyme’s timeless scent. Brady had this burning in his apartment one year while we shot Christmas content. He’s always burning a good candle, but this one really got my attention. It’s fresh and the perfect replica of a woodsy Christmas tree covered in crisp snow, without being overpowering. Hot Tip: Get the white wax version, I’ve found that the colored wax versions don’t throw the scent as well.

The Mug (Coffee And Tea In General)

Nothing gets me out of bed more than the coffee that Brian makes and sets the night before (we love the Cuisinart Coffee Center 12 Cup you see above there). We are real coffee lovers and I truly am so baffled/impressed by anyone who has kicked this addition. Then around 11 am (latte) or 3 pm (tea) if I’m working from home in the winter I’ll take a break and make something that feels more indulgent. We bought that espresso maker last year and while I didn’t use it much during the summer, we are back to daily lattes for the whole team and it feels so luxurious and special (aka a mood booster). I usually have a cup of herbal tea at night in the bath, too. So many rituals in the winter, y’all.

Double-Wall Glass Latte Mugs | Matte Stoneware Mug

I love this glass mug for the lattes or tea, and then still opt for my coffee out of the Target mugs (they stay hot much longer than others I’ve found).

The Electric Kettle

Gooseneck Electric Water Kettle

Once my tea habit felt like something I wasn’t going to kick I bought an electric kettle to not have to deal with the stove (and to be able to leave extra water in, making tomorrow night’s tea easier). I truly don’t know why some of these are so expensive when my $30 one does the job of boiling water in under five minutes perfectly.

The Sweatpants

Heathered Leggings | The Relaxed Pant

I have multiple recommendations here depending on the mood and what I feel like showing to the world. The Vuori Heathered Pants are my go-to leggings and I have them in three different colorways because I wear them so much. I wear them on walks, to yoga, and all day around the house when I’m not shooting. Size up – I wear a medium and it has a nice wide waistband that never cuts in. And then I recently started wearing Varley and their fabric is RIDICULOUSLY soft (some sort of trademark proprietary blend of which I’m a sucker for). These are baggy and more volumious so less flattering on my frame but I still love to wear them because they are loose and velvety soft on the inside. (These are the pants I’m wearing the in opening photo with the pink sweater).

The PJs

photos by kaitlin green | from: my journey to find the most comfortable pajama set ever – and i found them

Soft Lounge Sleep Set

From the PJs post: I’ve been dying to give Skims a try and they did NOT disappoint. Oh my goodness the fabric was ribbed and so soft, with stretch and still really drape-y (it’s weightier so it drapes really nicely). We decided that these were by far the most flattering. I mean, Kim Kardashian cares about looking good/sexy. I just wish I had ordered a medium. These fit but the waistband was just a bit too noticeable when I was wearing them (meaning I could feel it, even though they didn’t cut in). If you want to splurge on a pair that is super flattering in a subtle way, these would be my pick. They are a bit thicker (but not thick) than the rest of them but still really lightweight (they cling in places, but since they are thick enough you can’t see bumps underneath and so soft that the kids were begging to snuggle with me).

The All Day Slippers

Classic II Genuine Shearling Lined Short Boot | Classic II Genuine Shearling Lined Tall Boot | Wicked Good Slippers

I’ve been wearing a version of Uggs every day, all day since lockdown began, and I go through them faster than I should (every other year I need a new pair). I’ve had the tall boot (and love) and the medium. I also have the L.L. Bean slides (my current go-to). None are flattering, yet all are so cozy. I also need arch support and most slippers don’t cut it. These feel more like house shoes – I clean in them on the weekends and my feet don’t hurt.

Women’s Wicked Good Moccasins

Caitlin felt VERY passionately that her favorite slippers needed to be included too:)

From Caitlin: Oh, hey, I’ve had these slippers permanently attached to my feet since March 12, 2020, and I WILL NEVER TAKE THEM OFF. (Well, not these exact ones, but this style -while my mom started gifting me a new pair every Christmas in 2017 or 2018, the transition to working from home full time REALLY solidified their place in my daily wardrobe). They have super solid soles (so they’re great if you need to make a quick run outside to the garage or trash can), they’re toasty and soft (obviously, I mean…look at them), and the support is pretty unrivaled (in slippers that I’ve tried, at least). My favorite part is how well they conform to my foot, though – they mold perfectly to the shape of your arches and toes (so when I’m home in Delaware and I try to wear my mom’s, I can tell that they’re hers!). They’re not too hot in the summer, even in my 90-degree apartment, they never make my feet feel sweaty or uncomfortable, and they don’t smell bad despite me wearing them non-stop (like, 16 hours a day, 7 days a week when I’m home – I wish this was a joke, but it really isn’t). I know I’ve written about them on the blog before and I’ve highlighted them in every gift guide I’ve ever written, but THEY’RE UNBELIEVABLE. I literally will not walk barefoot in my apartment anymore and I’m thrilled to slide into them every time I come home, which has been awesome for keeping more floors a little cleaner. I WILL NOT STEER YOU WRONG, I SWEAR. If you only consider one of my recommendations in 2023, THIS IS THE ONE. I love them so, so, so much.

The Beanie

photo by kaitlin green

Cresta Ribbed Beanie

I’m picky about beanies, I think because I have a big face with perhaps extra face mass and a too-tight beanie just doesn’t look good. I find this one really flattering and SO cozy. I don’t know if I would have spent $80 on it from what it looked like online, but I had a partnership with Varley so I got to try it and then IMMEDIATELY lost it walking the pups two days later (I put it in my pocket when I got hot and fell out). I had to rebuy it because I liked it so much. Also P.S. I believe in wearing beanies inside in the winter.

The Cookbooks

I buy new cookbooks ALL THE TIME, and yet I mostly cook from these staples:

Eatingwell Soups | Clean Soups

Simply Real Health | Half Baked Harvest

Dinner in One | The First Mess

This year I added: The First Mess and Dinner in One which I’ve been going to a lot. Cozy food FTW. I do not enjoy recipes on my iPad or phone, I like a BOOK and until I find the right chef/food content creator to collaborate with on my soup cookbook I’ll continue to hone my skills using these. I have only made five recipes from Dinner in one, but I like it a lot and the First Mess is incredible vegetable-forward vegetarian food (not a lot of just potato and rice dishes). I always do a week of vegan eating when I want to reset and her recipes are DELICIOUS and extremely satisfying.

So these are my cozy recommendations now that we are really heading into the colder months. I truly feel passionately about them but I would, of course, love to hear any of your recs too. Drop them in the comments! xx

Opening Image Credit: Kaitlin Green

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wendy
5 months ago

ha, I smiled at you buying an electric kettle to make tea. as a Brit, when we moved to the US one of the first things we bought was a kettle – and it was really difficult to find one and very little choice! couldn’t believe they are not really a thing over there, whereas almost every single house in the UK has one. however we are now switching to the hot water tap (Quooker, Qettle, Fohen etc) for our tea (and instant coffee) obsession on this side of the pond. I have only recently become addicted to my morning mocha (at age 50) and its the only caffeine I drink most days, but now that we are back in the UK I do need a warm drink to start the day!

Lane
5 months ago
Reply to  wendy

There are lots of electric kettles in the US. But it might depend on where you shop. There were fewer in the 90s, and we had a stove top kettle then, which wasn’t difficult to buy. I even had one in college in 2000. It was useful to make lots of instant meals. Early in the 2000s more stores started to stock more of them. People who don’t have one can make tea using a drip coffee maker machines. That’s what we do in hotels when there’s not one available.

I think it’s a misconception that Americans don’t have or use them. But I guess it may depend on the circles you are in. Lots of teas available to buy in stores too.

🥰 Rusty
5 months ago
Reply to  wendy

I’ve noticed that too. In Australia, an electric kettle is like a toothbrush – no-one doesn’t have one!

Leah
5 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

In Oz too 🙂
Even electric kettles are so outdated now! We’ve had a stylish little teeny tiny tap next to our kitchen sink tap that sends out perfect boiling hot water instantly. No waiting even a minute for it to boil!! We’ve had this for 14 years. There’s better ones now too, that are incorporated into the actual kitchen sink tap.
https://www.insinkerator.com.au/product/hc1100-hot-and-cold-water-tap

Jen
5 months ago
Reply to  wendy

It’s probably because many Americans were traditionally much more inclined to drink coffee than tea. And for many years automatic drip coffeemakers were a staple in the American kitchen. Now more people are branching out more into tea and also alternate brewing methods (pour over, aero press, etc.) so there is a greater demand for an electric kettle. Growing up we always had a stovetop kettle for tea.
I still vividly recall being on a trip to England and France in 1998 and I could not wait to get home to have a good cup of regular brew american coffee! At the time all you could get were espresso based coffees there which is not the same experience at all. Now coffee has exploded and there are more euro style coffees available in the US but there is still nothing like a nicely brewed cup of coffee.

It is all what one is accustomed to!

Addie
5 months ago
Reply to  wendy

I bought the electric tea kettle in this post because I needed a second one for my bedroom upstairs. I wanted a simple one that doesn’t beep when ready like my main electric kettle does (with different settings for different types of tea). Everyone I know in the US has an electric kettle.

Colleen
5 months ago

Great post! I will add my two cents: the best coffee beans are from Portland, Stumptown. But I got my husband a Nespresso machine a few years ago and it’s quite reasonably priced, and this is what we make most days because it is just so easy. The capsules are expensive but we are lazy these days, I guess, and the convenience is worth it.

I drink mint tea all day long after one cup of coffee in the morning— a habit from my 11 years in Seattle— and my favorite brand for this is Tazo. Hat tip to Mighty Leaf green tree tropical for when I need a bit of additional caffeine later in the day.

Rishi mushroom tea is also worth a try! I sprinkle the powder in food sometimes as well.

Kelly
5 months ago
Reply to  Colleen

I’m truly obsessed with Tazo passion tea — it’s hibiscus and I think what Starbucks sells as dragon berry. I will literally but 5 boxes at a time in fear I’ll run out!

LouAnn
5 months ago

I can attest that the Crate&Barrel throw is excellent. And I’m also Team Frasier Fir.

However, nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever convince me to buy any product if it’s attached to the Kartrashian name. That repulsive greedy family has negatively influenced American culture long enough and I wish influencers would stop doing their PR for them.

Sarah
5 months ago

After moving from the FL Keys to chilly New England a year ago, I too needed to surround myself with cozy things during the chilly winter months and love many of your recommendations. I have both the Ugg slip-ons and LL Bean moccasins and have to vote with Emily on this one (love you both but sorry Caitlin!). The Uggs are not only much more comfy and less restrictive but cuter than the moccasins (although neither will win any beauty contests but who cares?). 😆

Sarah
5 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I’ve now ordered both the Varley beanie and Vuori leggings since Emily has raved about them repeatedly-they look and sound worth the prices and FYI you get a 20% discount if you sign up for new customer emails on Vuori.

Lane
5 months ago

It looks like you covered everything. Some of the things we like are wool blankets. They are great for regulating body temperature too, which is not possible with acrylic or poly blankets. My kids would add hot chocolate with marshmallows and popcorn. Somehow it’s a winter favorite of theirs.

🥰 Rusty
5 months ago
Reply to  Lane

Woolen blankets are delux! With heirloom potential.
Wool is definitely better – no microplastics.

Julie S
5 months ago

I got us that same Bodrun electric kettle for Christmas after getting to try it out because it was so great for the price! Way better at fast boiling than the stovetop kettles I’d used till then. I’m with you on the bliss of Uggs, too, and they do make somewhat better-looking styles that are just as cozy… and thank you for the cookbook recs – I will interlibrary loan a few of them to check them out. We live in the Midwest now and that cozy cold weather plan is super important.

Suzanne
5 months ago

I will vouch for the Thymes Frasier Fir. It astounds me how much it truly invokes a frolic in the forest.

J
5 months ago

Love the Uggs. I just replaced the insole which you can also get from Ugg and put an arch support insole under that. Viola, just like new. Haflinger has a great wool clog too. More support from a cork footbed makes them easier to wear outside.

Rebecca
5 months ago
Reply to  J

Ive put the UGG insoles in my rain boots too!

Kristi
5 months ago

Just a plug for NY times recipes (online resource). Im thrifty and little happily subscribe to this newsletter/resource FOREVER. I can’t do cookbooks anymore. I check out new cook books from the library to look at the pictures more than do any real cooking.

Holly
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristi

A big thumbs up for The NY Times recipe subscription! Their app is hands down the best. Zero weird pop-ads that cover up the text AND the app keeps your phone “awake” so you’re not constantly trying to open your phone back up with food hands. Plus the recipes are top-notch.
I also check out cookbooks from the library sometimes, but it has been a while since I have actually cooked much from one.

Jen
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristi

Love NYT cooking for sure! so many yummy recipes. Try to this simple chickpea soup. The dash of lemon at the end is important! It is so easy and so cozy.

It’s great having the app but I also really enjoy getting cozy and reading my cookbooks. I like seeing them in my kitchen, too, it inspires me to cook.

Jen
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristi
Kristyn
5 months ago

Try Wood Cabin by Keap Candles. I give them as gifts each year. At first the recipient is like “Oh thanks, a candle.” I get the initial lack of enthusiasm because I have received so many terrible (probably re-gifted) candles that it made me hate them until I tried this one. Later, they always mention how much they love it. It’s very cozy for fall and winter.

Sarah F
5 months ago

I’m sure this is in another post, but where is that super comfy chair (from the first photo) from?

AZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Sarah F

It’s the Le Tuco Shearling Accent Chair by Athena Calderone from Crate & Barrel.

Kourtney
5 months ago

I was trying to find out a link for the white chair and ottoman in the first picture…that looks cozy!

AZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Kourtney

It’s the Le Tuco Shearling Accent Chair by Athena Calderone from Crate & Barrel.

L
5 months ago

It makes me laugh to hear a slipper described as “not flattering,” I had never once considered that when choosing what to use to keep my feet cozy haha. Glad that comfort prevailed here!

Stacia
5 months ago

Hello! I am hoping someone knows a link to Emily’s beautiful pink sweater in the opening photo?

AZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Stacia

It’s the Mentone by Varley in Pale Mauve.

JeffreyC
5 months ago

My Halloween ritual is to order my winter tea and coffee stash and a few boxes (20 count) of small restaurant votives. The soft unscented glow of those candles is a nice evening ritual to complement any larger scented ones I might light. Plus they come in handy for parties when I might have a scent-sensitive guest and don’t want to irritate them.

AZ
5 months ago

I prefer slippers that look more “shoe-like” and just bought two new black pairs from Minnetonka (to rotate): the Cally and the Comfy Moc. I bought them thru the Target app but lots of places carry them.

Jen
5 months ago

Absolutely love the Frasier Fir Candles. I give them as gifts all the time and use them every holiday. It is the best smelling Christmas candle I have found.

Would love to know more about your pink sweater?!?!

Stacia
5 months ago
Reply to  Jen

See above re: sweater 🙂

AZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Jen

It’s the Mentone by Varley in Pale Mauve.

Rebecca
5 months ago

The target faux fur throw is legit. I was skeptical because of the low price, but have since bought two.

Cate
5 months ago

Love making Florida cozy for Christmas. What room are these shots from? The blue grey walls and dark curtains are amazing. What is the color?

ED
5 months ago
Reply to  Cate

It’s the primary bedroom at the farmhouse. I think the two colors are: paneling SW9139 Debonair by Sherwin Williams and fireplace SW7694 Smoky Blue by Sherwin Williams