Tips for surviving a polar vortex

By now you may have heard of a little storm system wreaking havoc on the “lower 48” early this week, blessing us with a frigid blast of cold temperatures more suitable for Old St. Nick than young Chicagoans.


I know living in Chicago for several years now should prepare us for weather like this and for the most part it has. In 2011, we made it through “snowpacolypse,” only short one-half of a side mirror thanks to a friendly visit from a snow plow one fateful morning.

We’re used to lots of wind and cold temps. Heck, even 6 straight days of snow didn’t stop us from getting out of the house to play.

But when Finn and I walked out of the house this morning, the mountain dog himself immediately turned and looked at me like ‘seriously lady?’ I guess it’s safe to assume a windchill of -35 is both of our tipping points.

chicago polar vortex snowstorm, greater swiss mountain dog, cold weather

It’s a polar vortex, they say. Exposed skin can freeze in less than 10 minutes, they say.

frozen windows, polar vortex, chicago, greater swiss moutain dog

Apparently so can the inside of your condo.

Forced to stay inside, we did all the things we never have enough time for like reorganizing sports bras into categories based on their elasticity ratio for running, ellipticalling and yoga-ing.

gym, greater swiss mountain dog, meal planning

Other polar vortex activities included

  • Snuggling on the couch
  • Daily vacuuming
  • Meal planning, grocery shopping and lunching at Whole Foods all afternoon
  • Laundry
  • Fighting the crowds at the gym
  • and baking

heath_bar_cookiesI think I’ve shared this recipe for Heath Bar Cookies on the blog before, but some recipes just deserve another go. Funny story about these cookies. Several years ago my mom put together my favorite recipes of hers into a cookbook which she gifted to me. Partially, I’m sure because I kept calling her over and over again for many of them. Included in the book is a recipe called ‘Julie’s heath bar cookies.’ A little different from most of my cookie recipes as I typically bake with butter, but delicious nonetheless. Imagine my surprise when I praised my Aunt Julie for the recipe at a family function one year, only to find out the recipe did not come from her but a former co-worker of my mother’s with the same name.

And so I have renamed these cookies ‘Not to be confused with Aunt Julie’s Heath Bar Cookies.’

heath bar english toffee cookies, recipes, baking, cookie recipes, simply social blog

Heath Bar Cookies

  • 3 sticks margarine (I use 1 1/2 stick Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C heath bar bits (6 crushed heath bars)

Preheat oven to 350 (recipe says 325 but I haven’t had much luck at that temp)

In a stand mixer, blend crisco and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk salt into flour.

Here’s where it gets crazy. Mix dry ingredients into wet. Add toffee bits.

Roll into quarter-sized balls and place on baking mat. Flatten with fork. Bake for 15 minutes.

The trick to these is to let them cool completely before touching them. They are fragile cookies but very tasty.

heath bar toffee cookies, baking, recipes

Rumor has it we’re back to work tomorrow. As for now, I’ve got a hearty beef and stout stew with some kale mashed potatoes on the stove just perfect for a cold winter night.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay inside!


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