Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 14, 2005
It's all in the layering, my dear
Battle Old Man Winter with long johns, cozy toques, crockpot fare
By SUZANNE ELSTON
As a kid growing up in Edmonton, my sister and I often walked to school when the mercury dipped well below minus 30F. At the risk of aging myself, this was long before Gortex and other ultra-light insulating materials, and yet I don't remember ever being really cold. The secret was layers.
Level one was always the Marks & Spencer's undershirt, lovingly supplied by my mother's family back in England. The undershirt wasn't just part of the standard uniform for kids, it was also a universal symbol of the sexy blue-collar male (think Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire). But thanks to changes in fashion and improvements in heating and insulation, the undershirt has gone the way of Beatle boots and dickies.
Remember the dickie
Ah, the dickie. Dickies were a vital fashion accessory that provided a cool way to coordinate your wardrobe and keep warm. For those who have never experienced this fashion icon of the love generation, a dickie was a knit turtleneck without the lower part of the body or sleeves that guys wore under open-necked shirts. Most guys I knew had a number of them, each colour coordinated to match their corduroy pants. What can I say? It was the 60s.
Which brings me fast forward to now. I was buying pantyhose the other day when the woman next to me commented, "I never wear pantyhose under pants! It's an unnecessary expense and inconvenient." My response was that pantyhose are also a great way to ward off winter's chill!
The point is that it's a lot easier to keep our individual selves warm than to crank up the heat once we get chilled. It's winter. Dress appropriately! Wear layers - undershirts or camisoles, pantyhose or long johns for a start.
If you really want to go high tech, the newest generation of long underwear is made from an ultra-light polypropylene knit.
Our son, who is in the Canadian military, swears by the stuff. It keeps you toasty warm, even at minus 40, and wicks perspiration away from the body to help prevent winter chills.
Once dressed, add a sweater, scarf, hat and mitts. (Mittens keep your hands much warmer than gloves.) Don't forget boots. The fashion police are not going to arrest you for wearing weather-wise footwear.
If you find that your feet are still cold with boots on, invest in some thermal insoles. They're cheap and effective and widely available.
Working on the principle that it's easier to keep warm than get warm, use your garage for your car, not your stuff. Despite the fact that just about every Canadian home comes with a garage, most people leave their vehicles parked outside because their garages are full with the overflow from their houses.
As a result they start their cars and leave them running until the interior warms up. This doesn't just waste a lot of expensive gasoline; it's bad for the environment and your car's engine.
Better yet, car pool. Save gas, let somebody else do the driving, and benefit from the collective body warmth of your fellow car poolers!
At the end of the day, what better way to keep warm than with food, glorious food, served piping hot on the coldest of winter nights. Rather than crank up the oven, dig out your crockpot. (It's probably somewhere at the back of your kitchen cupboard, right next to the fondue set.)
Cheers for crock pots
Crockpot cooking is a marvellous way to save energy and money. Cheaper cuts of meat left to stew slowly all day are transformed into tender, nutritious hot meals when you need them most. As a final energy saving touch, have dinner by candlelight.
After considerable searching for our son, we found the best ultra-light thermal long underwear at Mountain Equipment Co-op. For ordering information, go to www.mec.ca or call toll-free 1-888-847-0770.
For more energy saving tips, visit Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency at oee.nrcan.gc.ca/tips.
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