A Taste of Hygge in the Country.

A Taste of Hygge in the Country.

The term Hygge or Hyggelig has become hugely popular recently.
Explaining what Hygge means exactly, isn’t particularly easy though.
Hygge has been called everything from ‘the art of creating intimacy’, ‘cosiness of the soul’, and even ‘the absence of annoyance’.
Hygge is all atmosphere and experience, rather than about things.
The focal point of Hygge is connection, being with the people we love.
It is a feeling of home, safety and comfort.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, there is an Institute called The Happiness Research, which focuses on well-being, happiness and quality of life.
I may have missed a trick in my life, not acquiring a job at this Institute.
Surely, working there would be the best place in the world?

If you aren’t aware, Denmark as a country, consistently ranks amongst the happiest nation’s in the world. Why is that?
The country itself faces the same challenges as we do here in the UK.
It is a question that has been asked often of the Danes, me along with them. Why are they so happy?

I mean, they have the most horrific weather, to begin with, plus the citizens of Denmark are subjected to some of the highest tax rates in the world. So, what gives?
Yet despite these seeming negatives, and according to the European Social Survey, Danes are indeed the happiest people in Europe.

This is what I discovered –
Danes have a healthy and positive thought pattern towards their high tax rates, namely they are investing back into their own society, purchasing quality of life, looking after the welfare of their people.
They refuse to dwell on the negatives and instead, strive to see the good in their actions.
Impressive.
In addition, to that virtuous list is of course – Hygge.
The Danish recipe for happiness.

Hygge’s focus on ‘well-being’, equates to me, caring for one’s soul, nourishing the good and extracting the bad.

It’s soft lighting – a lot of it, good food, slow conversations, many candles, silence, cozy throw rugs and observing the rhythms of nature.
Fluffy socks tucked under one’s body whilst being lulled to sleep by a purring cat, cradling a warm drink, being with your peeps and practising the art of listening.
A hundred different things, but most of all, it is not rushed.

I just adore everything that represents Hygge and all it stands for in my family’s quest for slow living.
Time and time again, I am drawn back into the gentle embrace of practising Hygge.
A conscious decision to retreat and surround oneself with calm.
Contentment follows as a natural course of action.
Hygge happens without one realising it.

As a treat for my birthday late last year, my husband surprised me with three Hygge gift boxes, from the UK based The Little House of Hygge.
And whilst Hygge is not about stockpiling more stuff, this little monthly heart deposit is a luxurious reminder to practise the art of Hygge.
Beautifully packaged by hand, the items inside reflect the Company’s desire to press into Hygge in our every day.

This month’s lovely haul, all in soft, muted tones, was a lemon & mint candle from the Edinburgh Candle Company. Delicately scented and backed with a powerful company ethos. Their focus being on enabling vulnerable women who face barriers to work, gain a footing within the working field. This is a not only an environmentally responsible company, but also an ethical one. I would happily indulge my copious candle addiction from this company. Definitely a win/win from all sides.


A delicious bar of Creighton’s Chocolaterie, Botanic Refresher, dark chocolate with elderflower and sharp lemon pieces (divine!). A double-treat for my soul and body, with all the goodness of that pure cocao bean, presented in the most divine package. I literally ate with my eyes, even before I dived into the noir squares.

An organic cotton, fair-trade, string bag, from Turtle Bags UK. Promoting a strong movement towards reducing plastic wastage and pollution in the home, with the added bonus of an on-trend crochet/retro look. Perfect for a quick market-day fruit and vegetable shop and small enough to fold and place in one’s handbag.

A gorgeous smelling, 100% all natural, all purpose tincture spray, from Tincture London. The alluring scents of Sage, Clove and Juniper. I am already a huge fan of essential oils. Therefore I’m thrilled to find a UK based company, driving a holistic approach to cleaning, using essential oils for their amazing antiseptic and healing properties. It takes cleaning to a whole new level!

And lastly, KeepCups Chai, already have my heart as an Australian, as they originated in Melbourne in 1998, a year after my first child was born! I respect their desire to reduce the amount of packaging waste. In particular a cup of coffee, which is often knocked back in less than 15 minutes and then discarded within our ‘to go’ environment. Their range of colours and sizes, notwithstanding the adorable names of each individual cup, is incredibly impressive. I love the fact I can take my double espresso with me, whilst out walking with the kids and Queenie.

My children called Hygge – ‘hug’ – and for me it is like a warm embrace.
They say you know you are practising Hygge, when you feel it and through this long English winter, I have felt Hygge more and more each day.
I have also been intentional in seeking it and appreciating the golden Hygge moments.

This morning, it was waking to the smell of smoky bacon sizzling on the hob, an insistent shaft of sunlight pushing its way between the grey, drizzly clouds and the gentle smile of joy on Martha’s face as she dressed up in readiness for a special coffee date with her mama.

The more Hygge we create, the more I want to capture it’s essence and hold onto it with both hands – happy, calm, safe, peaceful.
Yes and thank you, the welcome mat is out and the coffee brewing.
Come on in and please don’t ever leave.

Please Note: I have not been paid for this post.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Making a Corner Pretty for the Soul.

Corners pretty for the soul

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Making a Corner Pretty for the Soul.

Corners pretty for the soulWe are very fortunate to live in an old onion barn in Norfolk, UK.
It has stunning views of the marshlands, stretching out towards the Broads which form a merry pattern, twisting and turning on the horizon.
A peaceful and charming place to live.
Every day I am so grateful for our slice of eden in the British countryside.

The downside to living in a barn, all on one level, is that the rooms are cavernous and often overwhelmingly untidy with six children.
Life is messy, even when one cleans and tidies regularly.
I don’t want to be a slave to my house anymore, in an attempt for perfection – but I do need spaces that allow my soul to breathe.
A place I can retreat to and satisfy my creative heart, as well as escape to when required.

I am an inherently tidy person, which can be an unfortunate trait for one who has a large family!
My battle with wanting my home gorgeous has, in the past, turned me into a grumpy and irritable mummy, who wouldn’t let the children flex their creative muscles, or even move, without me trailing behind them and cleaning up.

I have simmered down a lot over the years and accepted my abode will not be flawless.
And that’s ok with me. It really is, because the only person I was hurting in my quest for perfection, was myself.
That side of me, which nagged and grumbled at the children, wasn’t who I wanted to be.
I wasn’t choosing happiness, I was choosing the elusive perfect and we all know that’s a slippery slope to navigate.
Corners pretty for the soul
However, I do love pretty spaces. I will always be drawn to aesthetically pleasing rooms and on those days, when I feel the walls are caving in with mess and chaos. I have a plan up my sleeve.
Namely, make a corner pretty for my soul.

I literally pick the worst few square metres of the house, clear the crud, make hot tea and get to work.
Tea in hand, I decide on one focal piece I really love and decorate around it.

My latest heart project was a spot in the girl’s bedroom, which is occupied by the twins, Martha and Olive, 8 years old and Milly, who is 11.
Their room is one of my most favourite places in the barn.
It has double french doors that open in the Spring and Summer to catch the cooling breeze from the Broads. In the winter there is a log burner to keep them cozy and snug.

On this particular day, however, all available surfaces were covered in clothes, toys, colouring pencils, unfinished craft projects and to my eyes, overwhelming clutter.
My gaze fell on a tambourine we were given as a gift. I decided to embellish it with a delicately hand-made leaf mobile.
Searching through magazines (I love the ‘simple things’, ‘Breathe‘, ‘Flow‘ andCalm), I selected meaningful quotes and happy floral pictures, secured on the wall with removable washi-tape.
A map of the world and close-up picture of Milly added to the fun feel of my soul corner.

Dainty suitcases, full of those annoying little toys (think Kinder Surprise and shock/horror those plastic MacDonald’s Happy Meal Toys!). A sweet mint and white coloured basket from ‘Tiger‘, held stray shoes and slippers. Those wretched pencils were sharpened and placed in a yellow plant pot, and quirky wooden skittles, I have had forever from, ‘The Early Learning Centre‘, finished the look.

That soul corner was so much more for me than simply tidying a messy room because it made a deposit within me too.
I didn’t need to spend any money and it only took a few hours.
The girl’s enjoy pointing out all the places ‘we have journeyed to on the map. The flowers inspired them to do some nature research of their own. Win/win.

Today, I purchased February’s edition of ‘the simple things‘ magazine, finding myself drawn instantly to the title ‘Breathe’. 
I write this tucked up on the girl’s squishy sofa, watching the horses roll around in the warm green grass, eating sticky chocolate cake and berries.
As I scan the pages of the magazine, I make plans to try the lemon mug cake this weekend just for me. I can then take a few moments to travel virtually to Kathmandu and dip into a different culture.
Olive, immediately fills the space I vacate. It seems, she too, finds solace in the soul corner.

And I do believe my soul is so very grateful for this space and for letting go of perfection in my home.
I think perfection is the unkept house, the chaos, the dirt as well as the soul corner.
All of it – together – in a beautiful, chaotic messy, wonderful life.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

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