My Winter Bucket List

November 23, 2014


This post may seem a bit premature to all you folks living in parts of the world that don’t happen to be Michigan.

Or, umm, Buffalo. (Insert “Holy cannoli, Buffalo, seven feet of snow??? Way to go crazy without me” emoji here.)

You’re probably like, “Wait? What? Winter? Why are you talking about winter already? Isn’t it just mid-November? You should be talking about fall and pretty leaves and cute corduroy jackets and even cuter leather boots! We are not ready for winter and snow and big, puffy, ugly coats and even uglier boots in the shape of marshmallows! Do not talk to us about those things!”

Well, I wasn’t particularly ready for them either.

And then a whole mess of snow and ice blew into Michigan this week, and the next thing I knew I was already in the land of snow days.

Side note: Remember how snow days were, like, the BEST THING EVER when you were a kid? I’m happy to report they are even BETTER when you are an adult. I’m also happy to report that the inside-out pajamas thing totally works.


So, despite the fact that it’s way too early, and I’ve completed exactly nothing off of My Fall Bucket List, I’ve decided to move ahead and make a Winter Bucket List already.

Because if there’s one thing that makes me feel better about having to wear ugly boots in the shape of marshmallows, it’s making a list!

My Winter Bucket List

1. Put together a winter car kit.


I try to fill my seasonal bucket lists with fun, frivolous things that I will want to do and not chore-like, to-do list things that I really should do. (Trust me, I have a whole other list for that kind of stuff. Because LISTS ARE THE BEST, you guys.)

But I’m making an exception with this one.

I’ve been meaning to put together a winter emergency car kit for ages and haven’t done it. But then this week I’ve been reading all these horrible stories of people in Buffalo being trapped in their cars for days, and it’s been seriously freaking me out.

As someone who regularly drives in crazy-pants snow and has the survival skills of a garden snail, I need to make this happen already. Plus, it will give me an excuse to stash mini candy bars in my car. (As if I need an excuse to do that.)

2. Do all the Christmas things.


You know how people are always complaining about how cheesy and over-the-top and commercialized Christmas has become?

I assure you I am not one of those people.

There isn’t anything I love more than cheesy, over-the-top, commercialized Christmas cheer. If it’s covered in tinsel and fairy lights and fake snow and red Starbucks cups, I am all about it.

That’s why I’ve been busy scheduling all kinds of cheesy, over-the-top, commercialized Christmas cheer this year.

Just a few things I have planned so far: a return trip to Frankenmuth to visit their Christmas market and the world’s largest Christmas store, a ride on A REAL LIVE POLAR EXPRESS TRAIN complete with a stop at the North Pole (which is apparently located in the middle of Michigan, who knew?), and a trip to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, which, according to the website, is exactly like stepping into a snow globe. OMIGOD, YOU GUYS, HAVEN’T YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO STEP INTO A SNOW GLOBE??? I know I have.

3. Learn how to knit. Or crochet. Or whatever is easiest.


I’m not particularly crafty and I have absolutely no patience.

But I feel like I should actually be doing something productive while spending hours and hours listening to Serial.

Which is odd because I don’t feel the same need to be productive while watching hours and hours of Scandal.

4. Make a pastie. Or twelve.


A pasty or pastie is kind of like a pot pie, but you can hold it in your hand. And what says winter like eating pie out of your hands? Really?

I’ve been wanting to make a pastie since moving to Michigan, as they’re quite popular here — especially in the Upper Peninsula. But I’d always been a bit daunted by the task.

But, after my pie-making success this summer (in which I made not one, but THREE ENTIRE PIES, and nobody died from eating them… that I know of), I feel a bit more confident that I can pull off a pastie now. Plus, now that I’m the proud owner of a rolling pin, I might as well use it.

5. Try a winter sport. Preferably one that doesn’t involve propelling myself down a mountain.


I’m ridiculously horrible at all sports.

But I’m even more horrible at sports that involve separating myself from the earth with some kind of slippery surface.

The few attempts I’ve made at downhill skiing and snowboarding have ended in disaster. Like, the kind of disaster that amounts to me finding myself wrapped up in orange caution fencing.

I’m petrified of ice skating.

And I still have scars from an early childhood tobogganing experience gone awry.

But I’m determined to find some kind of winter sport that I can do without killing myself, in the hopes that it will make me actually enjoy winter a bit more.

I’m thinking my safest bet is probably snow-shoeing. I mean, it’s basically walking, right? And, not to brag, or anything, but I’m pretty good at walking. Or, at least, I have yet to injure myself while doing it.

6. Send Christmas cards.


I used to be so good at sending stuff out for Christmas.

Like, SO GOOD.

In college, I would write these ridiculous Christmas newsletters, which I’m sure were totally inappropriate and wildly misspelled, but I thought they were hilarious, so I would send them to everyone I knew. Including some of my professors. (Again, TOTALLY inappropriate. I don’t recommend doing that.)

Then in my mid-twenties, I started making mix CDs for all my friends for Christmas. You know, back when people still had CD players. And I would spend months beforehand scouring CD stores (you know, back when they had CD stores) for obscure, alternative musicians, so I could be “that friend.”

And then when I lived in Japan, I got in the habit of sending out New Year’s cards.

But I probably haven’t sent anything out for Christmas or New Year’s in at least five years. I haven’t even sent one of those dancing elves e-cards out to friends.

It’s time to remedy this situation. And it’s time to remedy this situation with a photo of my cat in a Santa hat.

7. Send a care package to a soldier.
Has anyone done this? I really want to do this.

And I’m not just saying I want to do this, so I can feel less bad about being horrible human being and never ever volunteering or really doing anything good ever.

But that’s part of the reason why.

8. Read a big thick, classic novel. Possibly something Russian.
As a former English major and total book nerd, I feel a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read a classic novel in years.

Probably not since college. And I can’t even say I did a very good job of it back then. Usually I’d just skim whatever chapters we were supposed to read, and then use my superior powers of bullshit to get myself through whatever class discussion we had to participate in or paper we were supposed to write.

But there’s just something about winter that makes me feel like I should be curled up with a big, old, heavy, musty-smelling book. A book that is full of tragedy and philosophy and history and possibly characters named Nikolayevich.

9. Do something fun and fancy for New Year’s.


I spent last year’s New Year’s Eve on my couch in my pajamas. I have no regrets.

But this year it might be nice to actually spend my New Year’s out and about and in an outfit that does not involve a drawstring waistband.

10. Go somewhere warm.


I’m not entirely sure how feasible this last one is going to be seeing as I have approximately zero dollars. So, basically, jetting off to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Maldives is out of the question.

But I do have a whole mess of vacation time and a car that occasionally works. Plus, lucky for me, almost any place on earth is warm compared to Michigan in the winter.

Except, maybe, Buffalo. (Insert “Seriously, Buffalo, OMG with the snow already” emoji.)

What’s on your winter bucket list this year?Β 

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm becky hutner said:

    you’re making me realize what a bad winter person i am & why it’s probably a very good thing i live in LA. hopeless at winter sports. sent xmas cards all of one year, and only to a handful of family. good luck with this most ambitious list, sally & tell us what novel you end up choosing!
    becky hutner recently posted..11 things I will miss about Venice Beach

    • On November 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm Sally said:

      Well, I’m TRYING to be a better winter person. I figure if I keep on ending up in places where winter takes up the majority of the year, I should probably get used to it and try to make the most out of it. And not use it as an excuse to hide inside my apartment and watch Netflix all day (although I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of that, too, this winter.)

  2. On November 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm zoe said:

    Hah, your skiing experience sounds like mine, except mine was in france so I got the bonus of learning that the french for “are you ok [over there wrapped up in that safety fence]?” is “ca va?” Educational!
    zoe recently posted..Our weird cultural notions.

    • On November 23, 2014 at 6:34 pm Sally said:

      I attempted snowboarding in Japan, and I got to hear a lot of fun Japanese phrases. Especially from the very cranky chair lift operator who was made even crankier by the fact that every time I attempted to get off the chair lift, I would do a face plant and he would be forced to shut down the chair lift until I had managed to crawl out of the way.

  3. On November 23, 2014 at 7:18 pm emjay49201 said:

    Thanks for being an inspiration. I love your blog posts and love the idea of seasonal bucket lists even more. In fact, I’m writing my own winter bucket list right now! As a fellow Michigander (and former Angeleno struggling with winter doldrums), it’s hard to remember there are fun things to do. First on my list, I’m going to bake some bread. Real bread. From scratch.

    • On November 23, 2014 at 7:21 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, that’s a good one! I was thinking about adding that to my list, too, but I’m new to this whole baking/cooking/being-an-adult thing and I think anything that involves yeast and kneading might be pushing it. πŸ™‚
      Good luck with your bread & with surviving the Michigan winter!

  4. On November 24, 2014 at 8:48 am Sid said:

    Summer on this side and I too am working on a seasonal bucket list. My list involves eating as much ice-cream as humanly possible. So far I’m doing quite well =)
    Sid recently posted..I give good link

  5. On November 24, 2014 at 10:19 am Barbara said:

    I think it was winter in Ho Chi Minh City last week — there were two whole days when I didn’t have the A/C going full blast in my home office.

    I love your list, BTW, jealous as I am of your not-sweatiness at the moment. I also thought pasties were a UK and Australian thing. I LOVE pasties and lament the fact that Vietnamese kitchens don’t have ovens because otherwise I’d being the pastie queen!
    Barbara recently posted..My Baby is Five

    • On November 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm Sally said:

      Apparently, pasties came to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula via the Finnish (no idea how that worked — maybe the Finnish stole it from the UK… who knows?). Anyway, I’ll be sure to make some pasties for you… and then eat them myself. πŸ™‚

  6. On November 24, 2014 at 4:45 pm Linda Bergstrom said:

    Knitting! Welcome to our world. You will not regret it. It may be tricky at first but you can do it. Just go to a good local yarn shop (ask your friends) and tell them you want to learn to knit and they’ll be all over you with yarn, needles, lessons, coffee & general good cheer. (I have yet to find a yarn shop with a liquor license, sorry. But you might find cupcakes, muffins or cookies maybe) Before you know it, you’ll be showing up at some coffee shop at a regular time to meet your knitting friends. You’ll get addicted to Ravelry. You’ll learn the lingo like “LYS” You’ll divide your life into eras “BK” and “AK” for before and after learning to knit. Yarn will seduce you shamelessly. This is a great idea.

    • On November 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm Sally said:

      WOW. If I didn’t want to start knitting before, now I certainly do after reading your message. It sounds like some cool club that I need to be a part of. Plus, CUPCAKES!

  7. On November 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage said:

    I just started trying to learn to knit…just practice so far, no projects yet. There are tons of free videos, so it was not too hard and I’m not very crafty either. I love just staying home for New Year’s Eve…I have no desire to be out. I feel like all the people who never go out, go out New Year’s Eve and it is just a mess πŸ™‚ Best of luck on completing your bucket list!
    Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage recently posted..Blogging How To: Coding Social Media Buttons

    • On November 25, 2014 at 9:26 pm Sally said:

      I know. I love staying home for NYE too, especially when it’s cold out (which I’m sure it will be because MICHIGAN). So we’ll see how far I get with my resolution to go out and do something fancy!

  8. On November 25, 2014 at 3:12 am Kieu said:

    A rolling pin — that needs to be on my list this Christmas. LOL
    Kieu recently posted..2015 travel plans: There’s something about Europe

    • On November 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm Sally said:

      It’s nice having one handy. The other day I woke up with a dying desire for biscuits despite never having made a biscuit in my life. And, luckily, since I had a rolling pin, I could make them no problem.

  9. On November 25, 2014 at 7:50 am Naomi said:

    I’m afraid I’m a dedicated skier, but living in a place with only 2 seasons (mild with rain, and freaking hot dry and windy) I enjoy heading to the snowy places and even have a bag of knitting and crochet stuff I take with me. I belong to a “stitch ‘n bitch” group there which is lots of fun. Needless to say my creations are completely useless back where I live. Lots to love about winter, though I reckon I miss spring and autumn the most living where I do now.
    Naomi recently posted..The final stages

    • On November 25, 2014 at 9:28 pm Sally said:

      I really missed autumn when I lived in tropical locations — although I can’t say I missed winter or spring too much. But I’m trying to be more optimistic about winter this year, especially since I have a feeling like it’s going to be here a while.

  10. On November 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm Alisa said:

    Crochet is awesome! You should definitely try it! Your first try will probably kinda look like someone barfed up yarn (mine did) but it gets easier! And making yourself hats and scarves for winter is a very good winter activity to do. Also, you always have an easy gift idea. πŸ™‚
    Alisa recently posted..Photo Sunday: Brazillian Jiu-jitsu Tournament

  11. On November 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Winter in Taiwan is currently in the twenty-something-Celsius range at the moment. It doesn’t even feel like winter. After a brief chilly-ish spell, I now find myself sweating. Sweating. IN NOVEMBER. I NEED MY COLD WEATHER. I can’t wait until I’m sweating in the UK in a few weeks.

    And erm, the Polar Express train ride thingy sounds fantastic. Like, legitimately brilliant.

    My winter bucket list includes:
    1. Make a Christmas playlist on Spotify, which will likely just consist of All I Want For Christmas Is You, and Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath The Tree.

    2….erm. That’s pretty much it.

    3. That was a lie. I bought a magic Christmas tree that will somehow grow when I do something to it. I’m not sure how it’s going to work.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Snapshots From Tainan

    • On November 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm Sally said:

      When I lived in Brazil and Thailand, I really missed the cold weather during Christmas. It just didn’t seem *right* to be wearing tank tops and flip flops and sweating buckets in December.
      And there better be an upcoming blog post about this mysterious magic Christmas tree! I want to know what that’s all about!

  12. On March 3, 2015 at 10:56 pm Ceri said:

    I get so excited around Christmas time. I am THAT friend who organised a massive Christmas party for the one that’s just gone. My house became Santa’s grotto.

    Dying to know how your pastie making went. God, I miss pasties from back home. πŸ™

    I thought of a winter sport you could try (not helpful now that it’s March): That one where someone throws a disk along some ice and then other people come along with brooms and sweep sweep sweep in front of it. That’s a thing, right?
    Ceri recently posted..My Five Favourite Things in February

  13. On July 22, 2015 at 4:41 am Suzana said:

    Oh when I’ve read that bit about polar express I though you’re gonna go to Antarctica or something:) It’s because we’re thinking of going to trans-Syberian tour trough Travel all Russia agency this winter. It’s supposed to be very cold outside and pretty warm in the train. I’ve also heard that the views are just amazing! And due to crisis in Ukraine, the Russian ruble is very cheap nowadays. Can’t think of any other win-win. My bucketlist also includes visiting all my relatives and spending my Christmas in a sober and cozy way.

  14. On September 2, 2015 at 8:38 am Milena Yordanova said:

    Nice list! I love winter and especially Christmas. This year in my winter bucket list I included snowboarding and Christmas cookies. πŸ˜€
    Milena Yordanova recently posted..The best places to eat in Sozopol

    • On September 4, 2015 at 3:24 pm Sally said:

      I always love the beginning of winter… it’s just the last month (or two or three…) that become hard for me to deal with. Although since I’ve moved to Michigan, I’ve told myself I’m going to become one of those people who actually likes winter (all five months of it). So maybe this is the year that will happen. I think Christmas cookies might help. πŸ™‚


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