Friday, 18 February 2011

It's Snowing Cats and Dogs

I don't know if there's such an expression, but it's sure pouring down snow from the heavens today.

At the beginning of this month, I had a hope that this year would be exceptional in Norway and start turning warmer at the start of Chinese New Year (which was on 3 Feb 2011). Instead it became colder and colder, and all the snow that was starting to melt, became covered with new snow again.

Not that I'm complaining - I love snow! But perhaps it's just a tad too cold when the wind blows, and I had to wear my chunky coat and winter shoes, instead of my slimmer black coat with ankle boots.

But the upside is... because the temperature is hovering between plus and minus 0 degree celsius, I get to build a snowman! Snow at -10 or -20 degrees is quite useless because it's too fluffy, soft and nice. Snow at around 0 degrees is perfect for a snowman because the snow is crunchier and sticks together when you roll it into a ball (which is important to have snowball fights and build snowmen).

So one day, while Viking Man was asleep in bed, I decided to experiment with making a snowman myself, without training or help. Here's the result:

The 1st snowman I build by myself
How to make a Snowman

Building a snowman is not easy - snow can be surprisingly heavy. The location of where you choose to have the snowman is important too, because you are probably going to face it for the next few weeks. Surely you don't want to get a heart attack every time you open the door, because you see the silhouette of your snowman lurking outside.

In my inexperience with snow, I tried rolling a ball on the ground, and build it on top of a snow layer (because I thought it would be nicer). But I didn't know how to make it aesthetically pleasing if there are empty "lanes" and "patches" on the ground because of the snow man. So I rolled it, then tried to lift it on top of untouched snow - which was really heavy.

The proper way is to roll from a small snowball to a big snowball at your chosen location and leave it there as a base. Then roll another ball that you can lift, to make the body. Then another (smallest) ball to make the head. Be prepared that you are going to have bar patches of ground exposed.


1 carrot (nose)
1 used hat (something that can survive getting wet, or to be thrown away)
1 scarf (to make the snowman look proper)
5 round pebbles (2 for eyes, 3 for buttons)
2 long sticks for arms
1 short curved stick for mouth

Thick gloves (so that your hands don't freeze)
Warm clothing


1. Roll biggest base ball from the snow. Make sure snow is crunchy and that you have plenty. Make a snowball with your hands first, put it on the snow, roll in a straight line towards where you want the snowman. Make sure to "stick" up snow as you roll, so that the ball gets bigger and bigger, until it becomes the size of an exercise gym ball (those that you can lie on and stretch).

2. Go to the snowy patch next to the "lane" you created. Start rolling a second smaller ball. Make sure you end close to your snowman, and that you can lift the ball. If not, ask another person for help. Place second ball on top of base ball.

3. Roll a third ball for the head. Make sure it's smaller or at most, the same size as the second ball.

4. Start decorating your snowman with the "ingredients" listed. Be sure to embed the pebbles deep, because they fall off easily. To be sure that your snowman lasts for a week or more, check the weather forecast beforehand to see if the weather would be colder. If not, the snowman might melt once it gets above 0 degrees celsius. Pebbles conduct heat better too, so if it gets warmer, they would be the first to melt the snow around and fall off.

Estimated time: 1 hour  or more.

My snowman:

Before it had a face

I smoothed out the body of my snowman by patching more snow on the sides. It's really easy to lightly scrape the sides and smoothen it by brushing with your gloved hands.

With a face
I didn't have a carrot available for the nose (which you should have if you have read this before you build a snowman) so I improvised and shaped a snow-nose. I also used a curved pebble in place of a stick because all available sticks were buried in the snow.

My snowman is not exactly the prettiest around, but it sure looks like it's enjoying the day!

Happy playing!


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