“In our hurried world too little value is attached to the part of the connoisseur and dilettante.” ~ Edith Wharton
How to survive winter is a topic we love to talk about. It hasn’t been much of winter here lately, until recently. I happen to like winter for the most part, and sometimes – a lot of times, I actually love it. I have to keep this to myself depending what crowd I am with, ha-ha. I think my one of my reasons for this positive attitude is because I just love cozy – every single bit of it.
In the Berkshires winters are often long, sometimes a little too dark, and cold. I think my favorite new word, and on every ones new word list recently, is “hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga) it is the Danish word for cozy. It isn’t just about the word cozy; it is about the feeling of cozy. I just read Meik Wikings new book, THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE. He is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. The book is about why the Danes are one of the happiest countries in the world. They have long, dark and very cold winters, so how could this be? There is a lot to the little word hygge, and the book goes into detail about trying to describe it. They use it as a verb and an adjective. For example ”we throw the words hygge and hyggelig around so much that, to foreigners, it may appear excessive. All the time. And not just the hygge moment itself. We talk about how hyggeligt it will be to get together Friday, and on Monday we will remind each other of how hyggeling Friday was.” There are more hygge descriptions to describe many more experiences too! I do recommend the little book because I think it made me realize that not overlooking any little bit of hygge actually does make you happier!
Here is my take on Hygge and most of it is very similar to the Danish version. I think the one of the differences between the Danish Hygge, and the New England/ Janis version is this; The Danes are extremely aware of the Hygge that they create, they are mindful about the experience of it, the feeling of it, and more appreciative about it. The simplicity of it often gets overlooked by some of us even if we also practice it, are we really feeling it?
1.Candles. Everyone I know loves candlelight. I happen to have candles going every single day – mostly just at dinner, even when it is just Jeff and I at the kitchen table for a simple supper. It marks the moment of special and sacred to me. Sometimes even for a special bath, and on very cozy nights in my bedroom when we are watching a movie or reading.
2. A fire in the fireplace, set so that at a moments notice I can open the flu, and comfy up in my living room with a book or a movie. When entertaining, depending what I am serving, we often eat in front of the fire. When we moved here almost 20 years ago, building a fireplace was one of the first things on our list of things to do. Jeff built the mantel. He loves to build mantels, he truly is an artist. Each one he has built over the years is completely different and inspiring! Many of our guests have been amazed that this is a new fireplace, since our home was built in the 1860’s, they just assume it was always here! We chose older looking and more rustic bricks so it wouldn’t look brand new, and Jeff picked a Rumford design to be more energy efficient, and to go with our antique home. We never feel more hyggeligt when a fire is burning in the fireplace. It’s all about creating atmosphere and warmth!
3. Out door exercise. After coming into our warm and cozy home, from the chilly outdoors, after an invigorating walk, hike or snowshoeing etc – it is perfectly hygge. You slip of your boots for slippers – grab a warm cup of tea, and feel the effects of exercise Your body is relaxed, your mind is clear, and you feel good about yourself. If I happen to be wet, and frozen to the bone, a delightfully hot bath with Epsom salts, and essential oils, feels especially hygee. Extraordinarily luxurious in the daytime!
- Books & Movies. Luxuriating with a good book or movie. Not just before bed, which is extremely wonderful, but how about during the day. Steal away to a cozy corner, light a fire and read! Or, how about a movie in the late afternoon? That to me is luxurious and hard to do in the summer when gardening season arrives.
- Creating an organized and thoughtful home. I love every single thing in my home. There isn’t one item in my home that I dislike. And when there is I put it on my list to take care of. At this moment a couple of my kitchen cupboards need a makeover, and we are in the process of re-organizing our cellar. I know that whenever I complete an area in need, I feel happier. Is my home perfect? Not even close – I do have an ongoing list for some more makeovers, of course! I would like to improve a couple of unorganized areas, but being perfect isn’t what hygge is about. And perfectionism can destroy that hygee vibe.
6. Food. I think making food and eating is one of my favorite hygge things to. I try to re-create traditional comfort foods into healthy foods. Even though I don’t love to shop for food as much I do, we have one amazing store nearby called Guido’s, which is perfectly hygee. It feels like a European market, it is perfectly sized, and they carry everything from beautiful, organic items, to gourmet specialty items, and even hard to find health food. I feel hygee just walking in the door. Of course there are other grocery stores, but I must say I am particularly fond of the Mom & Pops like co-ops and specialty food stores.
Great winter comfort food = SOUP Here is vegan pho soup! Healthy and delicious.Bean & Lentil SoupMy favorite new dish is from The New York Times Cooking Section. Pasta With Fried Lemons & Chile Flakes – go over to my facebook page for this recipe ~ sure to be your newest comfort food! The lemons are sweet and fall right off the skin.
I added capers and garlic to the original recipe!
The lemons alone would make a great appetizer!
7.A cozy and perfectly plush bed. I love going to bed! My bed has to be perfect comfort – I share it with two silly cockapoos, and one man that steals half of it every night! Besides cuddling and snoozing, it is my favorite place to read and watch a movie too – I don’t care what the sleep experts say – it is the coziest place in the house!
I am not a napper, but when I see a cozy bed like this with dappled sunlight on a cold winter day – I just want to hop in!
- Creating atmosphere and beauty that is personal. I love everything about homemaking, and the art of the home (just in case you didn’t notice)! A few years ago we started some pretty big renovations in this house. We painted the living room- did over a few bedrooms and really tried to “ tidy things up!” I was inspired by the infamous, whom everyone now knows is the clutter free organized guru of our time! The question you ask yourself with every single item is your home is, “ does this spark joy?” I wrote about it in a previous blog. I was really inspired, as was everyone who read the book! Well, I went full speed ahead and the book really helped me re-define my space. But, I did learn a big lesson in my makeover. Even though my house was filled with only things that brought me joy, there was a missing element. The layers of decorating a well appointed room, and a look that appears over time was missing. I had simplified, and that was good, and a great new look, but it almost felt too austere. I feel like each room should tell a story and my story felt kind of flat. It felt like I was being hyper critical of anything imperfect and that if the personality of an item had to match the rest of the other items personalities! Well it took decorating this past Christmas for me to realize this. Once I added the simplified and pared down Christmas décor, which was basically my bringing the outdoors in theme, I felt like my house became a home. It needed the warmth of maybe one too many candles, the greens and Christmas plants added life, The little white twinkle lights that I had around added so much atmosphere, that when I undecorated, I decided to clutter it up a bit. I bought some houseplants, and kept my “bring the outside in” for my winter look, now my living room has a story again. It feels like my personality is being reflected in it’s own unique way. My rooms are layered and reflect my personality! I love any home that has this quality. The home may not be anywhere close to my style, but if it has that layered quality that tells a story, I instantly love it!
- Add a bar. I have wanted a bar for a couple of years. It is a major home decorating trend, and now I finally have one. Because winter is all about health and well being we are not really stocking this bar until our next party! But, I can’t tell you what it does for this room. Maybe it’s an old established feeling, I just don’t know, but it screams “welcome, come in, get comfortable, can I get you a drink?” I happen to think having Julia’s Henrietta, the elephant, on top makes it a very hygee bar area. Having pottery and art personalize this room and help tell our family story.
- Music. I like to play music almost all day long. I have many different genres that we play. I think lovely or upbeat music just adds to the atmosphere of comfort and can either relax you or energize you! (Below the books is more of Julia’s pottery. A collection of some of our favorite pieces.
So go grab yourself a cup of tea ~ have a tea party, and hygee up your life! You will not only survive winter, you will feel joy!
I hope you are having the happiest New Year! At the moment I am trying to discover a new career that allows all things Hygee to be a part of it. It is who I am. How to do that incorporating all of my passions…Lifestyle something? Home Décor? Health? Blogging? I will keep you posted. In the meantime I am enjoying the quiet of winter and reflection. Very recently I have become an activist! Going to two marches and even a stand in! Who knows where this will all lead, but it helps me feel hopeful, and learning how to be an active citizen is one of my new year goals.
Thank you for coming by my blog today ~ come back soon!