Snow Day. Sunset. Hot mulled wine.

February 11, 2013


When we lived in Toronto, I thought I hated winter.

Nothing stressed me out more than hearing on the news that a snow storm was coming.  Living in the suburbs, and on a snow belt no less, we’d have to plan ahead by setting the alarm for 4:00 a.m. to get up in pitch darkness, plough ourselves out (my husband did this, not me).

And the choice was to either drive to the office on unploughed roads at 5 a.m., or wait until the ploughs were through, enjoy (not) a 4 hour drive to work, and throw off the entire workday because in spite of our best efforts, we were now late for work.

And then we’d come home to the classic Canadian frustration:  the municipal plough pushed the snow up against all of our driveways, so that we’d have to dig out again before being able to pull back into the driveway.

The only solace was that everyone else in Toronto was in the same predicament, so in a sense, it bonded us.  It truly is human nature that misery does indeed love company.

And together, we’d all count down until the arrival of Spring.

Then we moved to Northern Ontario, where most of our neighbours are self-employed with seasonal businesses either geared to the tourist trade (such as our friends with a nearby restaurant) or construction.

So for many around here, vacation time takes place throughout the winter, so snow machines (a.k.a. Snow Mobiles, ‘Ski-Doos’), abound.

And now, each weekend, neighbourhood friends come roaring up to our back door, calling out ‘Can you guys come out to play?’



Even the neighbourhood children start out early with their own snow machines.


Winter is now my favourite season.  And snow storms?  I LOVE them.  (As long as no one I love has to drive anywhere).


In fact, see that little walkway we have in this photo?  During snowstorms, I find myself periodically looking out the window, in an attempt to will the snow to submerge that walkway.

It’s something of a barometer of how deep the snow is.


Sunset feels like a miracle to watch all year-round.

In the summer, we watch it on the dock from our Muskoka chairs (a.k.a Adirondack chairs, depending on where you live).  And a gathering is a corn roast or a lobster cookout, or an impromptu party.

In the winter, the sunsets are much more vibrant.  They light up the sky, and drop much faster.  But they are spectacular, nevertheless.

Winter sunset


And it fascinates us to watch the gradual re-direction of the sun throughout the winter.  Without the distraction of background noise or traffic, somehow it’s easier to note these changes.


But I don’t think there is a better way to enjoy a great winter sunset, than with friends…


And a hot beverage.  Hot chocolate, warm cider, or mulled wine will all do the trick.


Just in case you find yourself with a group of friends, some snow machines, and a thermos, here’s a recipe for mulled wine to keep you warm.

And even if you don’t have a snow machine, I’m sure you’ll find a way to enjoy this recipe.  Enjoy.

Hot mulled wine

Yield: Approximately 6 servings

There are as many recipes for mulled wine as there are brands of wine. This is a forgiving recipe. Feel free to add more or less sugar, and the apple cider can be swapped with apple juice or orange juice, and you can play around with the seasonings.


  • 1 bottle medium bodied red wine (don't use expensive wine for this recipe)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 allspice berries
  • Zest from 1/2 orange


  1. Place all ingredients in either a crockpot or large saucepan (or dutch oven).
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. If using crockout, heat on low for 3-4 hours.
  4. If using stove, bring to a simmer (don't boil) and allow to simmer gently for 1 hour.
  5. Serve in glass mugs or brandy glasses wrapped with cloth napkin, garnished with a cinnamon stick (or if you are outside, simply use a mug).

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