The polar vortex may have passed, but unfortunately, we’ve got to get through about three more months of winter weather here in the Northeast. If you weren’t already suffering from seasonal depression, I hope I didn’t just trigger it with that reminder. Don’t fret, though, I’m here to help. I’ve got a few tricks (besides drooling at the ridiculous above photo) for inspiring a little summery cheer on the coldest and snowiest days.

1. Paint something with a splash of color
Pick a cheery bright color like yellow or aqua for an accent wall in your house. For me, blues and yellows inspire thoughts of a sunny day. If you’re not allowed to paint the walls in your rented apartment, makeover a piece of furniture to serve as a statement piece. I spent three days stuck at home during the legendary storm Nemo painting my walls last winter. Unfortunately, I chose gray, so it may not have been a mood brightener, but I maintain that painting is an excellent snow day project. Pick up some paint and supplies the next time you’re at the hardware store and you’ll have it ready for the next big snowstorm or any lazy cold Sunday.
[Photo credit:]

2. Make fresh salsa or guacamole from scratch
There’s something about both of these deeply satisfying chip dips that recalls memories of a Fourth of July barbecue. Recipes including plentiful zesty lime, mouth-watering garlic, and spicy chilli should do the trick. Try this chunky lime salsa or this guacamole with a seasonal twist — it contains a surprisingly refreshing addition of pomegranate seeds. An added bonus is the sheer satisfaction you will feel making these from scratch and impressing your friends with homemade delicious dips. Tequila shots pair well and will help with the whole feeling warm thing.
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3. Start your day with a smoothie
Daily morning smoothies were part of my breakfast routine until it got cold enough that my hands were getting numb during my morning walk to the T. However, there’s no reason not to drink them in January if you use a koozie. The addition of some frozen tropical fruit like pineapple or mango to a tasty berry or green smoothie will make for an extra summery splash. My favorite smoothie combines the classic cold-weather favorite juice, apple cider, with mango chunks — for a tropical kick.
[Photo credit: The author’s Instagram]

4. Create an indoor garden
From impossible-to-kill spider plants to terrariums, all kinds of indoor growth inspires the same kind of joy you feel when the first crocuses pop through the snow in March. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but seeing green plants inside when everything is cold and gray and dead outside is a definite mood booster. Having edible plants is a great option, because they serve dual purposes — nice to look at and functional. The easiest kind of indoor vegetable gardening involves regenerating vegetables from kitchen scraps, which I did last winter with scallions, celery and romaine lettuce. If you get serious enough about indoor gardening to get a grow light, the light itself can supposedly do some science-y stuff to your brain that makes you happy — because light therapy is a thing.
[Photo credit: Author’s image

5. Throw a tropical island party
The key to the success of this party lies in the decor and party favors. Use different types of craft paper to make DIY leis, hanging flower decorations, mini faux palm trees, and tiki statues. Serve fruit salad out of a watermelon and be sure to provide frozen mixed drinks or fruit punch, garnished with obligatory tiny paper umbrellas. Go all out and fire up the grill for some pineapple teriyaki burgers. Be sure to invite your ukulele-playing friend, or at least be sure someone makes a good surf rock playlist. But to really get into the island spirit, crank your heat up a bit and tell guests to wear their summer best, whether bathing suits or Hawaiian shirts and sun dresses. Attendees should layer well for the trek and strip down upon arrival. Just think of the hilarious photos you can post on social media if you dare each other to run out in the snow in bathing suits.
[Photo credit: The LilyPadCottage]