Dane County’s cozy expert shares ways to stay comfy this pandemic winter

Stacy Harbaugh’s suggestions for your books, musical and culinary yearnings
Firepit
Photo courtesy of Stacy Harbaugh.
Outdoor firepits in public spaces are just one way to stay warm and cozy this winter.

Stacy Harbaugh has become the city’s unofficial cozy expert as the mind behind Instagram and Twitter account, @danecozy.

It originally started as a Twitter account with the idea of spreading the word about all things cozy, Harbaugh says.

“I felt like Madison was missing a single one source of news and updates about what was happening in town, particularly those that led to this idea of being warm and cozy and having soup, or having outdoor events in the winter that have bonfires,” Harbaugh says. “Those that just really embrace and celebrate what is good about winter, particularly these cold weather months in Wisconsin, right?”

Originally she would tweet about things happening in the community, but as the time went on Harbaugh decided to venture into an Instagram account this last year, with the intent to have restaurant reviews.

“I thought it would be like finding the coziest restaurants or the coziest bars, or the cozy corners. Or even like the Dane County Library, and public spaces where people could gather and celebrate that sort of hygge type of spirit,” Harbaugh says. “But then COVID hit, and we had to take things in a bit of a different direction. But that’s really where that all came from.”

 

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For her, cozy means something that relies on safety, comfort, warmth and connection. It can be hearty foods, good drinks or places that provide warmth and community.

“It’s a very Wisconsin thing to have hearty food that gets us through the winter and good drinks that sometimes have booze in it and those places that we can gather to have a sense of warmth and community together,” she says. “I think that’s an idea that hopefully everybody can get around and try to support each other, especially when we’re going through some really, really hard times, and some folks don’t have the luxury of being comfy. So, I think that’s another reason why I shared things like coat drives and food drives and that kind of thing, because I think that helps to extend that effort to help others feel that sense of warmth and safety as well.”

Harbaugh broke down her at-home cozy essentials into five main categories. Here are her suggestions for how to say cozy throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Books: A Room of One’s Own
Madison’s beloved indie bookstore has recently redone its website, so folks who would rather order their online instead of strolling through the selection can now do so easily. In addition to your typical independent bookstore titles, this downtown fixture also has a jarringly beautiful selection of titles in the women’s studies and LGBTQ+ literature sections. “Also, A Room of One’s Own is a good place to get things like art supplies,” says Harbaugh. “I started learning how to do origami while we were in lockdown, and I made a paper crane for every day that we were under the governor’s orders to stay safer at home.”

Fire: Public fire pits
Harbaugh herself has the luxury of having a fireplace in her home, but definitely knows that this isn’t the case for most Madisonians. On her Instagram account, she has been highlighting spots within the city and county that have outdoor fire pits for public use. Harbaugh always includes safety tips — bring your own water, folks — and is on the lookout for more of these fiery yet accessible spots for your next free night. “I think we all should kind of get used to having family time outdoors, and try to extend that season as much as possible,” she says.

 

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Food: Morris Ramen
Since a warm bowl of soup is by far the coziest meal you can eat, Harbaugh suggest Morris Ramen. Morris is currently working with Madison’s Cook-It-Forward program, which partners local restaurants with nonprofits and other organizations working to fight food insecurity. In working to decrease the kitchen’s food waste, implementing a pay-what-you-can model for hungry folks, and seeking to employ and train veterans, Morris is giving back to the community on a lot of levels. “And also, I just think it’s going to be great timing to get some soup from them. I’m encouraging them to start a soup subscription service, because I just want to pay a flat rate and just have soup appear at my door once a week,” says Harbaugh. “Wouldn’t that be great?”

Drinks
Harbaugh determined that the perfect drink for this winter is actually a mix of porter beers and bourbon. Take a porter beer (she suggests the Grand Porter from Giant Jones Brewing Company) and spice it up with a splash of bourbon. Not your thing? She also loves the Satin Solitude Imperial Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co. in Amherst.

Music: Strictly Discs, HiFi Haus, MadCity Music and Sugar Shack Records
These stores didn’t go anywhere, but vinyl is back! If you haven’t already discovered the beauty of opting for a record rather than plugging in your iPhone, head to HiFi Haus to get set up with your own player and have all of your vinyl questions answered. For the records themselves, Harbaugh recommends Strictly Discs for online shopping, Mad City Music for deals and Sugar Shack Records if you want to dig for gems you didn’t know you needed.

Stay cozy Dane County! Find Dane Cozy @danecozy on Instagram and Twitter.

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