When Nature is Good for the Soul.

When Nature is Good for the Soul.

good for the soul 1

“And into the forrest I go to lose my mind
and find my soul”
-Anon-

On Sunday, I went for a country run, with my 8 year old daughter accompanying me on her bike. A quiet presence.
I love to have her with me as she is such a wonderful and silent companion. There is immense beauty in having someone you love close by – right beside you, without words.
I find it extremely comforting and assuring.
To be at rest with a dearly loved one, feels like a gift.
After my run we decided to cool down in the woods.
Our favourite walk, which loops right back to our barn and meanders through thick and lush woodlands, is called The Bluebell Trail. It is utterly stunning in the spring/summer seasons, with the most gorgeous meadows full of wildflowers, spilling over rocks and winding their way around tree trunks.
Green and verdant tree canopies arch their bulk and frame over rocky paths, creating an almost magical and still environment.

“And it’s in these moments of quiet and slow that I find my own pace again. I am reminded that busy doesn’t mean better.
I am assured that my steps need to be a little slower and less urgent”. 

Baby birds chirp loudly from their high nests, their parents busy at work, flitting to and fro their tree-top homes, with fat grubs and long worms hanging from their beaks.
Petite deer, with sweet little white dots on their backs, quietly and sure-footed peek from behind bushy shrubs. Ever so gentle and timid.

The ground is cool and soft underfoot. And the smell! A mixture of wild garlic shoots, cow parsley, delicate bluebells and sweet primroses.
This space feels like heaven to me. I catch my breath here and the buzzing world all around me is placed temporarily on mute.

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“Just 15-20 minutes two or three times a week, can reap enormous benefits”. 

And it’s in these moments of quiet and slow that I find my own pace again. I am reminded that busy doesn’t mean better.
I am assured that my steps need to be a little slower and less urgent. I remember that I cannot control everything and everyone.
And I become more aware of how small a cog I really am, amongst a much bigger and faster wheel.
It is my responsibility to slow my life, as well as my soul down. Because nobody else will do that for me.
They are too busy focussing on keeping all of their own balls up in the air.

“It feels as though nature is giving me a gift.
Completely free, no-strings attached.
A buffer to the outside world and momentary pause in my frequently tired brain.”

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In that instant – I feel calm wash over me like a soothing, aqua-blue wave, in perfect sync with it’s environment before it crashes onto the sand floor, sending up frothy white spray.
It feels as though nature is giving me a gift. Completely free, no-strings attached. A buffer to the outside world and a momentary pause in my frequently tired brain.

Did you know that a simple walk in nature can benefit your health in a huge way?
You don’t have to organise a gruelling hike or be outside for hours.
Just 15-20 minutes two or three times a week, can reap enormous benefits.
Here are a few health benefits to keep in mind next time you are feeling a bit blah. Hopefully it will encourage you to put your trainers on and hit the road for a boost of nature-goodness:

1. My absolute favourite! It boosts creativity.

By simply stepping outside, walking the dog or to the school gate to collect the children, you can improve your cognitive function and creative thinking skills. Plus the fresh air, I am sure, has a little bit of magic in it, as it makes me instantly breathe deeper, slower and calmer.

2. You can improve your overall health.

Being immersed in nature is crazy good for the immune system, helping to prevent sickness and other illnesses. Our bodies turn from “fight or flight” mode, which we often feel whilst cooped up inside doing chores or working. Being outside allows our system’s to relax.

Taking time in nature is tremendously important during cold & flu season, even though it often feels like a bit of a chore when it is cold outside! However it is SO worth it.
Has anybody ever come inside from a brisk winter walk and not had rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes and a huge smile on their face?


3. Lower cortisol levels.

When you are physically outside, walking on the earth, you can’t but help feel a connection to nature. Experts have named this ‘Grounding’ as it provides relieved tension with muscle soreness or headaches, which can promote a sense of calmness and yes as some studies show – even lessen cortisol levels (which cause stress).

4. Reduced inflammation.

Nature can even help your body to fight inflammation. Our bodies naturally become inflamed following certain aspects of life such as stress, poor diet, not enough sleep, etc. And extreme inflammation can lead to autoimmune disorders or even depression.
Being surrounded by nature instantly quietens the mind, allowing your body’s inflammation to organically settle a bit. Basically, there is no easier and cheaper way to increase your health than by opening your front door.

5. Enhanced sense of wellbeing.

In other words, a better mood!

When I was a child and being a bit grumpy or fighting with my older brother, my parents would often say “go outside and chase the monkeys from your back”.
I never understood why they thought I had monkeys on my back, but in effect they meant, go and run off your irritability and come back a bit happier!
And guess what? It actually worked. Often they would find my brother and I immersed in a pretend game of something outside and all of the previous grievances forgotten.
It’s truly hard to be grumpy when you’re surrounded by flowers, trickling water, or green trees.

Studies have shown that people living closer to or more in touch with nature have lower anxiety levels in general, which makes sense. Less traffic, more trees. Less waiting, more living.
And don’t despair if you live in a big city, as regular mini breaks amongst nature is still extremely beneficial. It just takes a little more organising ahead.

As Mary Davis is quoted as saying –

“A walk in nature, walks the soul back home”

And for me, that feeling of being walked back home towards a peaceful place, is therapy wrapped in green with a side of fresh air.

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52 Things Your Mother Never Told You.

52 things

52 Things Your Mother Never Told You

Have you ever stopped and thought “why did my mother not tell me this?”.  I certainly have.
It was the day after our first child was born and I had to get up to use the toilet, located at the far end of a very long hospital corridor.
And the thing is, I couldn’t walk and could barely manage a wobble.  It felt as though all of my insides had been squeezed and then poked back into my body, all bruised and swollen.

Nobody told me that would happen, or that it would take weeks to be able to sit without ice.

I also was never enlightened to the fact that when a baby projectile vomits, it looks like a sheet of liquid and surprisingly can reach the other side of the room.  I guess that’s why they use the word projectile!

Or that I would feel so tired in those early weeks with a newborn, that I literally lost the capacity to form words and I would cry when I saw my bed because I was so desperate to be in it.

So in the spirit of learning by mistakes, here are some that you may recognise for yourself.  And if it happens to be all 52, you are in good company!

  1. If you knock on a door and it doesn’t open, try another one and keep going – until one opens before you even get there.
  2. Preheat the oven before baking a cake. It matters!
  3. Put sunscreen on your child during an overcast day.  Don’t let the hiding sun fool you.
  4. Buying a puppy on a whim because your kids beg you to – usually ends in disaster.  Puppies poop and wee in the house for a solid six months (pardon the pun).
  5. Wear a mask when flying.  Aeroplanes are germ infested petri-dishes.
  6. If you are flying with kids – good luck.
  7. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel. Often and in far-flung places.
  8. Don’t become bitter.  Ever.  It’s a slippery slope to becoming one of those shrivelled, grey nasty people who ooze contempt.  Plus it makes you ugly.
  9. Smile always. Laugh often. Hug your loves for at least 60 seconds each day.
  10. Hold your kid’s hands when in public.  Losing a child whilst shopping is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can ever face.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Repeat as often as needed.  Daily.
  12. The grass is never greener on the other side.  Never.
  13. Take risks because you never know what is just around the corner – even if you can’t see it.
  14. Don’t shy away from difficult situations – they are the mortar that builds a house and make it strong.  Strength comes through adversity.
  15. When and if you become a parent, remember that your spouse was, and always will be, your first love.
  16. Don’t let your marriage go stale.  Invest in quality time together, even if it means hiding in a cupboard together so the kids don’t find you, drinking wine.
  17. Remember your kids are with you for a short time and your spouse forever.  Make your marriage a keeper.
  18. When the days are long – picture what your life will look like in ten years time.  Nothing stays the same.
  19. Teenage boys smell.  Invest in deodorant.
  20. Teenage girls will cry.  A lot. Be patient – at least once a month.  You were once that teenager.
  21. Embrace different cultures and don’t be pig-headed about your nationality being superior.
  22. Be prepared for storms to follow rainbows. The good news is, it’s generally a constant cycle of life  – so hang in there with the tough times.
  23. Relax – life is way too short to sweat the small stuff.
  24. Don’t give your kids too many choices. Remember they are little people and you are the adult.
  25. Don’t keep company with people who make you feel bad.  Toxic friends will pull you down.
  26. Don’t gossip.  It’s an unattractive trait.  No matter how tempting it may be to slander someone in the moment.  It always makes your heart feel black.
  27. Living a simple life is totally ok.  More than ok.  It’s paradise once you just let go
  28. Don’t chase money.  It’s like water and slips through your hands quicker than you can grasp it.
  29. Be content in the moment and stop striving for better.  Better is today.
  30. Don’t let your kids whine.  They will turn into obnoxious adults.
  31. If you allow your kids to answer you back, you are welcoming disrespect into your lives.  Guard your heart and theirs.
  32. Hamsters bite.  Get a rabbit instead.  Or a fish.  They don’t live very long.
  33. Invest in your kid’s hearts and not the stuff they want.
  34. Too many after-school activities can cause your kids to become exhausted. Protect their childhood.
  35. Let your kids play! Climb trees, skin their knees, ride bikes.  Fresh air is a child’s best friend.
  36. If your kids are bored – give them a high five and watch what happens.
  37. Competition with others makes your teeth grow fangs.  Think about it.  Fangs will repel people.
  38. Be content with what you have.
  39. Don’t over-analyse risks.  You won’t leave the house.
  40. Be kind.  Always.  To everyone.  One day that kindness will return to you tenfold.
  41. Having a small group of  ‘keeper friends’ is better than a gang of many, who make you feel lonely.
  42. You are your children’s greatest teachers.  Don’t underestimate the impact you have on their lives forever.
  43. Be still for at least 10 minutes a day.  Switch off and watch your heart rejuvenate.
  44. One day your kid’s will grow out of wetting the bed.  Grown adults don’t wet themselves, unless they are post-natal women and in that case, you may need to invest in Teena.
  45. Some days you will smash the world like a boss.  Other days you will put your keys in the fridge.
  46. Be happy.  It drives people crazy.
  47. Silence is the best reply to a fool.
  48. Don’t worry about the amount of vegetables your kids don’t eat – one day they will be steaming asparagus and eating raw broccoli.
  49. Surround yourself with people who get you.
  50. Know that you are a limited edition.  Love your soul.
  51. You may find you have nothing in common with people who wash, dry and put all their laundry away in the same day.  This is ok.  Welcome to the club of reality with kids.
  52. Dance in the rain.  It’s life-changing.

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Why We Love Our Wooden Toys

wooden toys 1

Why We Love Our Wooden Toys

This is an affiliate post which has links to products from Amazon.
If you click the links and purchase products we receive a small
commission at no additional cost to you.


We have had little ones spanning over 20 years and at the very start of our journey, I realise we tended to follow trends or found ourselves influenced by the things our friends were buying for their children.

When we had our first, Lamaze featured heavily in our home, which focusses on tactile play through soft toys in bright colours.
With our second it was Fisher Price Little People Figures, very colourful and bright with an enormous range of items from birth onwards.
When we had our third, the Little Einstein toys and Baby Mozart CD’s were a huge hit at the time, using soothing music for sleep and quiet play, as well as music appreciation through toys.
By the time we reached four, five and six, we were pretty much done with collecting a plethora of stuff and went right back to basics, focussing on the timeless items that our grandparents and their grandparents spent hours playing with.

Wooden toys have indeed been trendy for decades, if not centuries and whilst there are a lot of cool, new educational products out there, there is also wisdom in sticking with the tried and trusted lines.  Even if companies re-image the organisation, colour or design of their wooden products, they still have the same classic feel as well as educational benefits that children have been enjoying for generations.

Five Reasons why we love our wooden toys:


-1  They are built to last.

Children can be pretty heavy-handed with their toys.  The mass-produced plastic lines just don’t stand the test of time or the remarkable strength of a toddler’s throw!
We wanted our children’s wooden toys to last and be passed down through the generations.  Given their solid craftsmanship, it is hard for them to be damaged beyond the usual scratches or dents.
They are easy to clean and provide years and years of play in various different forms, from infants onwards.

We once purchased an old and very simple, wooden wine crate, that had been been given some love by an elderly gentleman, who lived in our neighbourhood.  He painted it a lovely sage green and placed four sturdy wheels on the bottom, fastened a piece of thick rope through two holes in the front, and presto it was transformed into a perfect wagon for our kids.  That wooden box received so much use and love over the years.  When the twin’s were little, they adored being pushed all around the house in their vroom car, their squeals of delight still a wonderful memory for us all.  It has been a doll’s bed, a lego storage box, a mobile library, a container for potted plants and now it is perfect for keeping the kids art supplies all in one place.  All from one simple renovated wine cart that an old man had sitting in his shed for years and years.

I just love toys with a story and a bit of history, which is why wooden ones have been such favourites of ours over the years.


-2  Wooden toys grow with your child.

We use wooden toys for learning-through-play.  Our investment has been in education as well as fun. We therefore wanted to purchase items that were versatile enough to grow with our children.  Our toddlers and pre-schoolers have engaged in simple imaginative play and basic manipulation with wooden toys, and the older children began to incorporate wooden toys in more complex scenarios, which can be worked into discussions concerning geometry and physics for example.  They are excellent problem solving tools and a wonderful base for learning and so brilliantly versatile, as they connect with a broad range of ages and ability levels.

-3  Wooden toys build imagination.

If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will know that I am a huge fan of imaginative play.  When our twins were in Year One (for a brief time in a public school), their teacher instructed them to “put on their school minds and leave their imagination at the school gate”.  Pretty soon after that conversation, we decided to home-school the girls and throughout the next 18 months,  I used every opportunity to encourage them to use their imaginations.
Thankfully, they hadn’t been at school long enough for their wonderful, magical minds to be hindered in any way.
We would make up stories together whilst out walking in the country and picking flowers became a wonderful game of looking for fairies underneath small blooms or leaves.  We left the pixies and elves little notes, made out of pressed flowers and went on adventures to try and find them food, whilst dreaming about the types of places they would choose to live in.
I honestly don’t believe there is a greater gift that you can give your children, than the ability to expand their mind through imaginative play.

Albert Einstein explains it this way

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

In this vein, we have found that wooden toys have given our children the ability to improvise.  Whilst some wooden toys come in the shape of vehicles, food or common household items, they still encourage children to use their imagination to incorporate them into learning and play.  Other wooden educational toys come in basic shapes, such as sticks, blocks, arcs, triangles and circles.  These allow children to really explore their uses and come up with creative ways to incorporate them in different subject areas.
For example, we experiment in physics through building different structures with the wooden toys that balance and work together like a machine.  And geometry through manipulating certain shapes to create their own geometric patterns.


-4  Wooden toys are safe.

Wooden toys are designed to be safe and won’t break easily, as mentioned above.  There are no sharp edges or small pieces that can snap and they are generally non-toxic and made from natural materials, which means children can chew or suck on them safely.  And you don’t have to worry about polluting your home with plastic chemicals or any choking hazards.  For me, personally, this was a huge comfort, as safety in the home with toys was always a concern to me as a mother, particularly choking.  I felt much calmer knowing that the items my children were playing with were sturdy and certainly not able to be swallowed.

-5  Wooden toys are not very noisy.

Again, any of you who know me well, would appreciate I have a very low noise threshold!!  In fact, I am so adverse to loud noises, I can’t even cope with having the television volume up high.  My children’s reading skills have developed quite quickly through exposure to the subtitles across the screen.  Always a silver-lining to our quirky anxieties hey!
For me, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a quiet home. Kids happily playing their own games without the distraction of noise, which is the beauty again, of wooden toys.  Children cannot accidentally leave a wooden toy running and parents don’t have to be exposed to incessant beeps and sirens as their kids play.   It is a much nicer environment to be in, listening to the gentle sounds of my children’s voices and laughter, as they interact with their wooden toys – quietly.


And let’s not forget the simple beauty of wooden pencils!!  As an adult, I still experience the same thrill, as I did a child, at the thought of brand new pencils.  There can’t be anything more satisfying than holding a bunch of these timeless beauties – the woody smell, the mixture of rainbow colours and the perfectly sharp tips of un-used pencils, always, always makes my heart happy.  Which is why I am a total sucker for buying my kids a new set of these treasures whenever I have an excuse.  My said excuse being whenever we take a plane trip – nothing like a fresh notepad and colouring pencils to keep the kids happy for ages.  Not to mention, the same on Christmas morning, however that’s a slightly selfish move on my part to delay being woken too early.  Those luscious colourful sticks do me a big favour and keep the little one’s early morning wake-up, at bay for an hour or so.


This is just a few reasons why we love wooden toys so much.  I could write pages and pages about their benefits.  I certainly appreciate that whilst wooden toys may cost more than a lot of the mass-produced items, they come with such incredible value.  Rather than purchasing something with a set purpose and limited use, wooden toys have the potential to last for years.  These timeless treasures, will be the ones your children return to again and again. I am sure, like us, they are also the ones that remain in your children’s rooms and on their shelves for many, many years.

In the spirit of sharing the wooden toy loves, I have selected 20 of our top-picks from Amazon that will definitely start you on your wooden toy journey.  We already have quite a few of these items which is testament to the longevity of these investments.

Our choices range from newborn right up to 10 year olds. Believe me, it was very difficult to stop at just 20!
I hope this gives you a little insight into the wonderful world of wood for your little loves.
Next time you feel tempted to buy the latest gadget or trending item, stop and think of the other alternatives. They become more charming with age, love and use.

So much more than a toy and definitely a step towards a precious heirloom.

Our 20 Top Wooden Toy Picks from Amazon.

 

wooden toys1. Wooden Camera
2. Wooden Winter Vegetables
3. Wooden Abacus by Melissa and Doug
4. 6 Wooden Play Eggs in Carton by Decent Gadget
5. 24 piece wooden blocks train
6. Wooden Teether Necklace Octagonal Beads
7. 10 Piece Wooden Tool Box By Viga
8. Tangram Jigsaw Tetris Puzzle
9. Deluxe pounding bench wooden toy
10. Peter Rabbit Skittles by Orange Tree Toys
11. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Wooden Rainbow
12. Wooden push along lion by Orange Tree Toys
13. Noah’s Shape sorter Ark By Le Toy Van
14. Wooden Kitchen Accessory Set-Pots and Pans
15. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design 12 Wooden Rainbow Peg Dolls
16. Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle
17. Noble Kitchen by Viga Toys
18. Wooden Forest Stacker by Le Toy Van
19. Wooden Baby Teething Silicone Beads
20. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Conical Tower

 

 

 

 

 

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Hygge for All Seasons.

Hygge for All Seasons.

Throughout the past week we have had an unprecedented heat-wave in the UK.  Hitting a record high of 29C last Thursday, making it the warmest April day for nearly 70 years.

The surprising weather felt like a wonderful gift from nature, following the recent arctic conditions of the past few months.  Actually my brain took a few days to acclimatise, not to mention the fact that my legs and arms literally hadn’t absorbed a single ray of vitamin D for well over six months.
It was all a bit of a shock.
Plus, I had to shave my legs!  Six months of leg hair growth is impressive to say the least.

Like most of Britain, we headed outdoors.
Long walks in the sunshine, bike-riding through the countryside, a picnic in the garden, a few sausages thrown on the barbie.  It was heaven!


I predictably went a little overboard and packed away everybody’s winter wardrobe (when will I learn?), storing them in the attic in the hopes that they won’t be needed for another six months.Also, predictably, the weather has turned cold again.
My poor children are walking around freezing in cute cotton dresses, with only tiny spaghetti straps to cover their chilly shoulders.  And as I have also packed away their warm winter boots, their feet are turning a lovely shade of blue in rubber flip flops.
Never ones to be deterred for long, the kids have managed to squeeze their icy toes into the few remaining warm socks they own.  Socks and flip flops are quite the look I can tell you!
So is the long sleeved tops they found in the clothes dryer and duly placed under their cotton dresses for some warm padding.
I don’t think this bespoke bohemian look will be catching on anytime soon, thank goodness.

For me, practising the art of Hygge, seems more beneficial and cozy when the weather outside is cold and grey.
Visions of warm candle-light, thick, soft throw rugs, hands clasped around a hot drink, evoke a sense of cocooned harmony.  We all tend to hibernate over winter and what better way to do it than make our own abode cushioned in warm loveliness.

And when the sun comes out (and stays for a while), it is understandable that Hygge might take a bit of a back seat.

But that is where I have been wrong, as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures takes on a whole new meaning in the summertime.  Of course, you can Hygge at any time of the year and
summer is the perfect season to copy the Scandinavian’s and get back in touch with mother nature.

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A Danish summer is very similar to a British summer.

We live in Norfolk and are blessed with beautiful big skies and lots of sunshine.  However, we are also the recipients of summer showers and drizzle, just like Denmark.Summer Hygge is an open invitation to enjoy the great outdoors.  Whether it’s a swim in the ocean, a relaxed picnic with pals or roasting marshmallows over an open fire, this is the season for making memories and enjoying the warmth.And it is all for free!
A day at the seaside, a glass of rose’ in the garden, a sunny patch on the grass with a book, doesn’t cost a penny, which is the sole reason it is so incredibly Hygge.
Hygge isn’t about money but all about the experience.
And of course, the Dane’s are fanatical bike riders!  In 2016, bikes outnumbered cars for the first time in Copenhagen, with thousands of people travelling on two wheels for commuting and leisure. Why not encourage the family to walk instead of drive to your local park or pub.  There is something so invigorating about being in the fresh air with your loves.Have you noticed that a huge proportion of Instagram photos are taken outside?  This is more than simply the light being better. It is because we are at our happiest when surrounded by nature.
A sweet fresh breeze, the sound of baby birds calling for their mama to feed them, hearing water twinkle in a sparkling stream.There is a sort of magic in the natural world.
It has been said that a child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature.  A playful spirit, a curious mind with a world to explore.
I want more of that child-like joy and I believe it is to be found outside, just like the Dane’s have discovered.
And once you have had your incredible fill outside, why not bring it inside with some beautiful fresh flowers?  Apparently, having flowers in your home increases happiness, reduces depression and anxiety and can build positive emotions with friends and family. A separate study by Harvard University found the same results – increased compassion, feeling less negative, and more energy at work.
Who knew flowers packed such a medicinal and beneficial punch?
Or treat the family to a leisurely Swedish breakfast in the form of  Swedish Cinnamon Buns  – followed by a lunch of their famous smørrebrød (open sandwiches).
Remember, Hygge is the art form of creating intimacy in any given moment and nothing says comfort and togetherness more than baking and eating as a family.
Meik Wiking quotes in The Little Book of Hygge, that “Hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness” – and that means summer just as much as winter.

Here are some more Summer Hygge tips for you to enjoy:

–  Berry picking in the countryside.
–  Switch your bedding over into something lighter. 100% Egyptian white cotton sheets (although more pricey to purchase) are divine to sleep in, especially during hot summer nights with the window open.
–  Set up a day-bed or a rocking chair in an area that gets plenty of light and a cool breeze.
–  Invite some friends around for a barbecue, chimenea or a fire-pit. Think toasted marshmallows and an Aussie favourite, damper, which is a basic scone mix, fashioned on the end of a stick, roasted over the fire, dipped in butter and honey.
–  Look for pretty beach shells and when home, help the kids make a shell mobile to hang outside, so it twinkles and sings in the breeze.
–  Turn over some fresh dirt and plant some vegetable seeds.
–  Take the family to an outdoor concert or festival. There are loads of amazing places up and down the country.
–  Camp outside under the stars. Tell stories, play cards under the moon, be lulled to sleep by the sounds of wildlife and wake to the morning song of  birds.
–  Spring clean your house.  We all know the feeling of satisfaction when you have had a good clean-out and of course, the benefits of living clutter-free goes deeper than just the aesthetics.
Get the whole family involved and encourage them to sell the things they no longer want or need.  It’s a great incentive for little ones (and teenagers!).
It is therefore fitting to release our Seven Days of Hygge free e-book, whilst we are in-between seasons here in the UK.
For every day of the week, we have given you a snapshot of embracing the life of Hygge at home and sharing this with your loves.
In order to receive your copy, simply click the subscribe button in the right hand corner of the page.
We will need your email to send you the book, however, we promise not to spam you with endless annoying information!! Honestly, is there anything worse.
You could also be in the running to receive your very own copy of The Times bestseller ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking.
Three subscribers will be chosen at random on the 1st of June and we will announce the fortunate recipients via Instagram and Facebook, the same day.Wishing you a wonderfully Hygge Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter!
I so hope you enjoy your Hygge journey as much as we do and here’s to emanating the happiest country in the world!

 

 
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Are you Stuck in the Sand?

Sitting in the Sand.


I found out this week that elephants like to throw sand over themselves after cooling down in the water. The sand protects them from parasites and also keeps the sun from burning their skin. When the little calves are sleeping, the adult elephants stand over their form to shield them from the harsh rays.

I feel a bit like an elephant lately. Not in size, but certainly in the area where I feel stuck in one place.
It’s frustrating, as I want to move forward into a new season but feel there is still growth to be accomplished in the sand.

The thing is, sand is uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how itchy those elephants feel after a soothing, cool wash to then be coated in gritty, scratchy dirt.

Sand is a bit like one of those friends who overstay their welcome at your house. It hangs around a lot and you find it everywhere. Under your toenails, in your armpits, up your nose. And whilst over-stayers don’t become stuck in one’s armpit, they can get up your nose and irritate you!

So here I am. Sitting in the dirt and wondering when the uncomfortable phase will end. It’s my intuition, that I will be here for a while.

The amazing thing about dirt, is that it is literally teaming with life. To look at it, it’s dry and dusty but the fact is that 20,000 pounds of living matter can be found within the top six inches of soil. And one tiny tablespoon has more organisms than there are people on earth.

In case you missed that – there is life in dirt.
Abundantly so.

And whilst I’m not enjoying digging my feet into the dirt, I can appreciate the life beneath me.
The perfect balance of nourishing goodness that naturally feeds and grows so much life in earth we can take for granted.

So – A Few Things I Have Learnt From Sand Sitting:

-1 Don’t be tempted to wash the sand off too soon.
Believe me, I’ve tried and it just means I am sand-free for a whole five or so minutes, and then right back in the middle of that dirty soil.
In other words, whatever is sticking to you in the sand, will stay stuck until you have dealt with it.

-2 Look at your sand-experience as a blessing – of sorts.
This is a hard one and I am by no means, an expert here.
What I do know though, it that there is a reason for being in the space you are in.
Yes, it’s not fair if you are there because of the actions of other people.
If your partner has called time-out or your children don’t want to listen or talk to you anymore, that can feel like a tonne of unjustified bricks have just been thrown your way. It seems really unfair and unwarranted and believe me, I totally understand those emotions.
As much as it may feel outside of your control, there is always, always an element of power that you can own.
Whether it is in time, understanding that you may have contributed to other people’s actions or you want to change how your future is shaped, take this time to deeply look within and discern what can be learnt from this space.
This also might mean admitting you have played a part and contributed to the situation.  I told you it was a difficult one.

-3 Try not to put a time-limit on dirt sitting.
If you are anything like me, I am impatient. I find it hard to sit still without jiggling my legs or wiggling my toes, so sand sitting can be torture!
I also like to plan, so telling myself that this period will last for a certain amount of days or weeks (I don’t even go there for months and years!) – helps me.
It also hinders my healing.
The reason is, because I put too much pressure on myself to recover and move forward and then when I don’t, I feel like a failure and very guilty at not being able to handle it.
Basically, see point one, and don’t try and force yourself to move on.
It just doesn’t work in the long-term.

-4 Don’t be embarrassed about the dirt.
Nobody wants to admit that they aren’t in a good place.
In this age of perfection, particularly within social media circles, we all want to show our sunny, happy sides, like the rest of the world is doing or striving to do.
However, we all know this isn’t real life.
Everybody, no matter who they are and how much money they have or don’t have, will go through dirt experiences.
Being honest and sometimes even vulnerable, can not only help your journey but also assist others who are facing similar trials.

It has often been said, that difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
My dirt-digging experience has shown me, that although the soil is grey and ugly, it holds hidden treasures of nourishing goodness that I would be very wise to not ignore.

So, I am going to stay here for a while and dig my toes in a little deeper, whilst spending some time with The Gardener who I suspect has a lot to tell me.

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Living Slow in the Snow.

Living Slow in the Snow.

We experienced our first full week of snow in Norfolk this week.
After waiting for close to five years for a proper downfall, we were not disappointed.


Overnight, the landscape was transformed into a winter wonderland of gorgeously light and puffy snow, perfect for crunching underneath one’s feet and even more perfect for making snowmen.
We had two enthusiastic attempts at snow-building.
The first was a practice run but the second was magnificent.
Our boys rolled an enormous snowball all the way along a 1km stretch of country lane. Each turn, catching more ice and the end result being taller and wider than my 6ft, 17 year old.
This large orb nows sits in the front of our garden, sporting a head and stick arms, with the obligatory beanie and scarf adorning his head and neck.


Sledding was the next obvious move and never far from the children’s minds.
As parents, we were delighted to finally retrieve from the loft, our brand new sleds – naively purchased at the beginning of our first winter in the UK.
How foolish one can be!
It’s just as well we had no idea how long those little red speed boats were to be stored for.
Every winter we waited with baited breath when the weather fell below zero, hoping that we would experience a bitterly cold snap, generating a decent snowfall.


And here is where there are two schools of thought amongst the snow culture.
Namely children and adults.

The children, they see the delight and excitement in the change of the weather, straining and longing to just get out there in the elements and play. Hoping that there will be a snow day and pass from attending school, which doesn’t affect our four youngest, but does our 17 year old in Year 12.
Children don’t seem to mind the biting cold and the fact that they can’t feel their feet. They want to throw, eat and make snow angels in the ice.

I have much to learn from my children, still. Every day they challenge me to look beyond the responsibilities of being an adult and just enjoy playing.
When did I stop playing?
There are some days I would like to cancel my subscription as an adult and retreat back to being a child.
More fun and less worry is generally the norm – and I want to be more like that.

The second school of thought is, of course, the adults.
We are the ones who think about whether the snow is safe, as we scramble about trying to find enough pairs of thick socks for our kid’s feet not to freeze. We tell them to zip their jackets up all the way and won’t let them outside until they have gloves on to protect their little fingers.
We grumble when the kids come in wet and cold – at the puddles on the floor and the dripping clothes to dry.
We worry whether we will be able to drive to the grocery store and do we have enough milk for those warming hot chocolates the kids ask for?
We make a mental risk assessment as to how dangerous it would be to crawl at 40mph to the local corner store, with every chance it is also closed. And then we will have to make another decision whether the roads are clear to drive to the next large village and buy supplies. Note to self on driving in a snow storm – don’t do it, even for milk! Drink water and wait. We drove to the GP and to the store and ended up stranded in a snow blizzard covered field for two hours. Not the wisest move. I definitely went wrong somewhere on my risk assessment of weather conditions.

Play doesn’t often naturally come into our heads. It seems we revert to decision-making, planning and worry.

It’s likely that the snow and ice will be around for some time and my plan is to do more of the playing and less of the worrying (unless in a snow storm and then we will stay away from vehicles with four wheels).
So what if we have beans on toast for dinner, or eggs and ham another night? If the children wear the same clothes for a few days and recycle their socks on the radiator for another adventure outside – does it really matter?
It doesn’t make me a bad mother.
It makes me a fun mother.
One who smiles and engages fully with the children without my mind drifting to other concerns.

When you are an advocate of slow living, it doesn’t happen overnight.
It doesn’t mean that because you are wanting to live a free and uncomplicated life, that it miraculously occurs.

Like this snow week, I have fallen into the trap of the worrying mum.
The one who keeps adding to her to-do list whilst she is indoors and her children play outside. Granted, I did play for a bit but when my fingers turned blue, I retreated into the warmth with hot tea and a hot water bottle, watching the children through from the comfort of my snuggly chair.

Slow living is a conscious and daily effort of saying no to life pulling you in one direction, and putting your hand back on your heart and declaring what is most important to you.
That is slow living and that is when you will see the rewards of your decisions.

For me, those rewards come in such beautiful ways. Huge hugs from my children saying thank you for being their mummy.
Small twinnie hands holding mine under the covers of my duvet in the dead of night and whispered “I love you’s” over and over.
It’s the cries of “mummy watch me!” and “did you see that!” and most fun of all, “mummy chase me!” – not easy in the snow but a great workout.

These are the beautiful snap-shots of living intentionally slower.
I want more of them in abundance and less of the world pulling me away.
I desire slow every single day and I will fight for it with the power of the lioness that is the driving force within me.

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Trying to Adult.

‘Being an adult is kind of like folding a fitted sheet.
Nobody knows how to’.

The other day we went to the beach.
The main reason for venturing out to the beach, on a freezing and dreary Sunday, was to take a ‘nice family photo‘.
I call it ‘a nice family photo‘, because that’s what I remember my parents saying to me when I was little.
‘I just want one nice photo. Just one. Is that too much to ask?’

Now I am a mother of six –
Yes it is.
Too much to ask.
In fact, it is impossible.

It’s such a rarity to snap a photo of our entire family who are:
1- All looking at the lens.
2-Smiling and happy.
3-Not picking their nose, fighting with their siblings or giving the thumbs up sign.
4-All together, as in eight of us.
5-Not blurry and, well, where we actually look ‘nice’.

So, this lovely photo is missing our 17 year old son, who was setting the fab scene up, behind the camera.
He had exactly 5 seconds to press ‘start’ and run over to his Dad to take his place.
It didn’t quite work out.
As you can see.


Mr 13, decided to run to his brother, instead of sitting still and smiling (how hard is it to sit and smile?)
Apparently he was yelling ‘hurry up!’ Arms outstretched to encourage his chilled bro to leg it over to the seat.

I was also yelling, ‘just look normal’.
‘SMILE!’
‘JUST SMILE. IT WILL BE OVER SOON’.

I kid you not, 30 photos later, we ended up with this….
Forget trying to adult, I am still waiting for my photo.

 

 

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