Day 7: Play in the Water

I was not able to turn my attention to the final summer hygge challenge, until shortly after sunset. The lateness of the day wasn’t a problem, except that I selected an outdoor activity. I drew out this slip of paper for today:

Play in the Water

Water play is such a fun, traditional summertime activity. I don’t have a backyard pool, however I have a backyard garden. Which means I have an assortment of water hoses and sprinklers. One of my favorite ways to cool off quickly as a child was to play in the spray from the garden hose. I was thoughtful as I looked outside. Light was quickly fading from the sky. If I was going to accomplish this task, it was a now or never situation. I decided to go for it.

Day 7: Play in the Water

I confess, I don’t even own a swimsuit, so my first consideration was what to wear as I played in the water. I made a quick decision to slip on a long, lightweight tie-dyed dress, primarily because I could mentally “see” myself playing in the sprinkler while wearing it.

I changed clothes, grabbed a towel and my iPhone, and hurried outside. For tonight’s water play I used a resin sprinkler, that looks like a wheelbarrow piled high with flowers. Hooking up the hose and turning on the faucet sent water spraying through the sprinkler, in a wide circular pattern.

Day 7: Play in the Water

With child-like glee, I stepped into the spray. The high temperature today was 95 degrees…creating hot and humid conditions. I’m not sure what the temperature had fallen to at 8:30 in the evening, but the water that rained down on me felt cold! I squealed and then laughed.

I had two thoughts, as I frolicked in the water: My long dress clung to me as the material became soaked, making me think of the old fashioned bathing suits women used to wear, that covered most of the body. And I hoped the neighbors weren’t watching as a mature woman danced around in the sprinkler, playing in the water while trying not to get too wet!

That last thought broke through any reserve that I had left. I played in the water, in earnest, feeling refreshed now rather than chilled. And I did indeed get soaked.

Day 7: Play in the Water

The last seven days have been fun, as I’ve welcomed summer with a different hygge activity each day. Drawing out a random slip of paper daily solidified my belief that when I stay in Life’s flow, and pay attention to Divine guidance, the people, events, opportunities and activities that come to me are perfect for that moment.

I love living a magical, enchanted life that is never dull or boring but inspires me to engage creatively, live openly, learn continually and play with joyful abandon. Happy summer.

Day 7: Play in the Water

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

As a child, one of the highlights of summer was making homemade ice cream. My mom would prepare the ice cream mix, warming it on the stove. My dad would pick up the rock salt and bags of ice. We had a manual ice cream maker, requiring my sisters and me to take turns cranking and cranking the handle. I have sweet memories of the metal container spinning occasionally in layers of ice and salt, of cold water trickling out of the drain hole, of the clank clank clank of the handle as it turned…and of our excited squeals when the handle became too difficult to crank, signifying that the ice cream had solidified. It was almost ready. How difficult it was to wait as the ice cream chilled for a bit and ripened.

No wonder making ice cream at home is considered a summer hygge activity. It involves connection, simple pleasures, and being outside, unless a sudden summer shower forced the whole production into a garage.

By the time I had children of my own, we had an electric ice cream maker. The kids didn’t have to turn the handle but rock salt and bags of ice were still required and the end result was the same…cold, creamy soft ice cream.

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

I no longer eat dairy products or eggs or sugar, which means I no longer eat tradition ice cream. However, I was excited to draw this activity today.

Make ice cream.

The memories of making ice cream in the summer, as a child and as a mother with children, warmed my heart as I thought about carrying out this fun activity. There is a simple and healthy plant based alternative to ice cream. I just needed some overripe bananas.

Frozen Banana Treat

4 overripe bananas, sliced and then frozen for at least 4 hours.

Place frozen banana slices in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend in 30 – 60 second increments, pausing to push banana mixture down off of the sides of the blender and onto the blades. Continue blending and scraping, until mixture changes from coarse to smooth and creamy, about 5 – 6 minutes.

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

From slices of frozen banana…

…to smooth, thick, creamy ice cream.

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

The secret of frozen banana treat is to not give up! It looks like the mixture is not going to change. Keep going. Keep blending for 30 seconds, and then 60 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides and push the mixture onto the blades. Suddenly, the mixture begins to get creamy, along the bottom of the blender first, and then the creaminess spreads upward until the entire contents look like soft serve ice cream.

Stop blending when that happens. The frozen treat can be spooned into two bowls and eaten immediately or popped into the freezer for an hour or more, to harden. I enjoy the soft serve consistency and eat my treat as soon as it is finished. I don’t have to wait, like I did as a child!

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

Before I began the process of blending the frozen bananas, I sliced fresh strawberries and combined them with local blackberries and frozen wild blueberries and set aside. This delicious mix would serve as topping for my treat.

I enjoyed making my own version of homemade ice cream tonight. After a veggie bowl of steamed zucchini, slow cooked green beans and new potatoes, and fresh tomatoes, this cold delectable banana treat was the perfect end to the evening meal. No sugar. No dairy. No eggs. No rock salt or bags of ice either. Just the simplicity of frozen bananas with a mixed berry topping. It was wonderful.

Day 6: Make Ice Cream

Day 5: Go On a Road Trip

I had to get creative today, with the Summer Hygge Challenge. It was not possible to do the activity that I selected, exactly as specified. I could have tossed it back and drawn another folded slip of paper. However, I believe that the “randomness” of selecting the activities is not really random at all. There are deeper lessons to learn. I accepted the activity as the one I was meant to have.

Day 5 Go On a Road Trip

I selected:

Go On a Road Trip

On this busy Monday, with many items on my “to do” list, a road trip was out of the question. I opened up to other possibilities, other ways to experience such a journey.

I considered options. I could watch a movie about a road trip, later in the day. I could go on an adventure in my imagination. Or…I could plan a road trip, one that I could experience at a later date.

That idea appealed to me. And then another thought took that idea and expanded it.

Greg and I both took DNA tests last December, through Ancestry.com. With our combined results, we could offer a complete ancestry picture to our three children. Greg has been busy the last six months building an impressive family tree of his ancestors. He’s gotten back seven generations, and has family lines that originated in Germany, Ireland, England and Scotland.

I’ve barely begun creating my online tree, however I’ve done much research in the past. I can trace family lines back many generations, to countries that include Scotland, Ireland, France, Wales and England, and the regions of Western Europe and Scandinavia.

Ancestry.com provides a wealth of information with the DNA results, including migration maps. Looking at my mother’s line, the Gregorys, and my father’s line, the Lauderdales, I can trace their paths from countries across the ocean to the Virginia and Connecticut areas, and then west to Kentucky and Tennessee, and ultimately Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Day 5 Go On a Road Trip

Greg’s family entered the US via New York and Pennsylvania. He has plotted the migration of his family members west across the Midwest, using a map. His family stayed further north as they moved westward, until they too settled in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

What if? What if we planned a road trip that allowed Greg and me to visit the states where our ancestors lived and walked and birthed children and died…as they trekked across America? I’ve been inspired by the television show, Who Do You Think You Are?, on TLC, as people discover their roots and then travel to learn more about their ancestors’ lives.

How amazing it would be to visit the east coast towns where our ancestors first took up residency, and to figuratively walk in their footsteps. I’ve had very few trips out east. It’s time to change that. Driving would allow us to trace Greg’s family routes across the upper Midwest on our journey east, and then follow my family’s trek across the lower Midwest on the return trip.

We have much planning yet to do, and more family research to accomplish, but today we began with excited discussions about where we would go. We intend to focus on several primary family lines, as with each generation back, the number of family lines doubles. However, we would attempt to explore as many ancestral connections as possible. At the conclusion of our road trip we would have info and stories to pass on to our children and grandchildren about their roots.

I’m grateful that I drew an “impossible” activity from my hygge jar. It’s the impossible things that open up new opportunities and show me what is truly achievable.

Day 5 Go On a Road Trip

Day 4: Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea

During this 7 day challenge, I’ve been drawing my folded slips of paper the night before each new day, due to the fact that some hygge activities require more thought and planning than others. For example, if I drew “Watch a sunrise and a sunset” the day of, I guarantee that I would have already missed the sun coming up.

So when I drew Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea, I immediately checked the weather forecast. Although rain was indeed in the forecast, I had concerns. Lately our chances of rain have evaporated without the hoped for precipitation. I went to bed with a back up plan. If the thunderstorms didn’t materialize, I was positive I could locate a video of a thunderstorm in progress somewhere on the web.

Day 4: Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea

I need not have been concerned. I awoke to a gentle rain that soon became a downpour. Time to brew a cup of tea!

Day 4: Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea

I carried my hot tea…lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds…out onto the front deck, to sit in the porch swing and enjoy nature’s show. The air was cool and fresh smelling. Rain pelted the sidewalks and ground and beaded up on the leaves of my beloved redbud tree.

Day 4: Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea

Although my weather app radar showed thunderstorms in the area, I only experienced the steady cleansing rain. However, my fraidy cat, Shy Boy, must have heard the distant rumble of thunder with his sensitive hearing. He bolted for the front door, ears laid back, body low to the porch floor. He hid in the house, which is his usual response to thunder, fireworks, the weekly trash truck! More thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon, but I chose to seize the opportunity that the morning showers brought.

I sipped my hot tea, savored the coziness of the moment, and watched the neighbor kids frolic in the rain. They had the right idea, and kudos to their mom for allowing them the freedom to play in the rain. Their evident joy and enthusiasm made me smile.

Day 4: Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea

I enjoyed that sacred time, watching the rain, listening to the rain, as I sipped my herbal tea. Even falling from the sky as rain, water soothes. It nourishes the thirsty earth and the parched soul, bestows peace and calm, and slows the breathing and heart rate. Water…whether it is rain, a river or the sea…reminds me to stay fluid and to flow.

This morning it was good that I prepared my tea and experienced the rain shower that was offered to me. Those afternoon thunderstorms never arrived. They are now predicted to roll in at midnight.

Listen to 30 seconds of bliss.

 

Day 3: Slow Down

After a full week, it was such a joy to select today’s summer hygge activity. I drew this one out of the jar:

Slow Down for a Day

I felt ready for such an activity!

Day 3: Slow Down for a Day

The idea behind a slow down day is to observe life, listen, rest, take naps, eat lightly, savor fruits and vegetables and take time to enjoy life. With the exception of taking a nap, that’s precisely how I spent my day.

I visited the Webb City Farmer’s Market, one of my happy places, to pick up fresh tomatoes, zucchini and onions. The energy was high beneath the pavilion as people shopped for produce or visited with friends. I love the farmer’s market. It’s the ideal space in which to slow down, browse and pick up locally raised foods for healthy summer meals. I especially love the way that the market smells! Stacks of freshly cut herbs make me giddy as I pause to inhale the fragrant scents.

Day 3: Slow Down for a Day

I puttered in my gardens today, barefoot, inspecting plants, pulling a few weeds, and plucking the first cherry tomatoes from the veggie garden. Meals were simple with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. I enjoyed a fruit smoothie, hummus, watermelon and for dinner one of my favorite summer meals…garden green beans and new potatoes, slow cooked with onion and garlic, accompanied by a sliced tomato from the farmer’s market.

Day 3: Slow Down for a Day

Although I didn’t nap today, I enjoyed resting on my bed, writing, studying, looking through Thrive magazines and daydreaming. I sipped hot tea, made from lemon balm from my garden. And I watched a couple of episodes of Colony on Netflix. That show amazes me every time I watch it, with its excellent story and cast.

I knew I was excelling in slowing down today, when I headed outdoors to settle into the swing beneath the leafy canopy of the redbud tree. I considered taking a book outside with me, to read, so my time would be more productive. Productivity wasn’t on my schedule today. In fact, I didn’t have a schedule and didn’t want one.

It was wonderfully relaxing to gently swing, and watch the happenings in my neighborhood, while I remained at rest and at peace in the dappled shade. What a beautiful slow down day.

Day 3: Slow Down for a DayIn the spirit of slowing down, I totally forgot to take a photo late this afternoon as I relaxed in the swing. However, look at that gorgeous moon! I’m glad I went back out in the dark to take a pic.

Day 2: Drink a Flavored Ice Tea

On this very full day, I could not have drawn a better activity for Day 2 of the Summer Hygge Challenge. I selected this slip of paper:

Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

As a gardener with many fresh herbs available, I knew I’d be crafting my own flavored iced tea. I happen to be writing a health blog post this evening on the versatile bee balm plant. I chose to bring a little ease into my busy day and let this herb pull double duty. I’m grateful I made that decision.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

You can read about bee balm and its culinary and health benefits HERE.

For this blog post, I simply had to create a cold tea to enjoy while I prepped a quick, healthy dinner.

I gathered two sprigs of bee balm from my garden, where the plant is in full glorious bloom. I patiently waited for a bumblebee to dart to another flower before clipping the one I wanted for my tea. I have an abundance of bee balm growing, so the happy bee had plenty of bright pink blooms to visit.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

I added boiling water to the leaves and flowers, covered the mug, and let the tea steep while I considered what to combine with this fragrant herb. Bee balm is a member of the mint family although it’s scent and flavor are distinctly oregano-like. Citrus fruits pair well with bee balm. After steeping for 20 minutes, I poured the tea into a 16 oz mason jar and added the juice of half a lime.

I let the tea chill in the fridge while I cooked a veggie dinner.

Later, for a splash of color, and a hint of sweetness, I added several freshly sliced strawberries. Ice cubes followed, and my flavored iced tea, made up as I went along, was ready.

I enjoyed my creation with dinner. The earthy bee balm tea, combined with tangy lime juice and sweet juicy strawberries, was very flavorful and incredibly refreshing. I sipped on the iced tea and when it was gone, I ate the leftover chunks of strawberries.

This tea could become a summertime favorite!

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Day 1: Walk Barefoot in the Grass

The first day of summer arrived this morning, right on schedule. And what a glorious day it was. After thunderstorms yesterday, this morning dawned bright and cool and breezy, which made today’s first summer hygge challenge activity a delight. As it turned out, it was a shared delight.

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

The first activity that I drew, out of 15 possibilities, was this one:

Walk barefoot in the grass.

I loved going barefoot as a child…indoors, outdoors…it didn’t matter. I hated to wear shoes. I still kick my shoes off as soon as I get home for the day, and I often step outside for a moment or two with bare feet.

I discovered several years ago that walking barefoot outside, especially on a sandy beach or a grassy stretch of lawn, has important health benefits. The soles of the feet have meridians that draw the earth’s energy into the body. That powerful energy is dispersed throughout the body, easing inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. Earthing, or grounding, has been shown to thin the blood, lower blood pressure and make cells less likely to stick together and form clots. Because free radicals are a major cause of aging as well, keeping the body balanced with electrons from the earth reduces the destructive signs of aging such as wrinkling of the skin and the breakdown of DNA.

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me last night. When I explained to her the game I was playing, she was eager to join in. We brought our bare feet and our phones outside, to welcome summer with a leisurely stroll around the yard.

Aubrey has good, creative ideas. As we slowly walked in the dewy grass, and inspected the backyard garden for storm damage, we paused often to try different photo shoots and slo-mo videos. I love allowing my granddaughter and each of my grandsons to explore their artistic or imaginative sides, and try out new things.

We completed our barefoot walk around the yard, and returned to the swing in the shade of the beautiful redbud tree. It was the perfect spot to chat as we enjoyed the freshness of the morning and the frisky breeze. And because today marks another celebration as well, we snapped a selfie together.

Happy Summer Solstice, Selfie Day and Day 1 of the 7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge!

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

Back in March I enjoyed creating a 7 Day Hygge Challenge, to welcome spring without sacrificing the cozy connectedness of the Scandinavian custom. Pronounced hue•gah, this lifestyle that celebrates nature and simple pleasures is one that I’ve practiced my entire life, without realizing it had a name.

I made a decision after the first 7 day hygge challenge to kick off the start of each season this year in a similar fashion. With summer’s official start date on Thursday, June 21, I prepped for the next challenge tonight.

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

I used the 15 ideas for hygging in summer (you can read that post HERE) as inspiration for the challenge. I combined this challenge with another fun form of play that I enjoy…randomly drawing activities for each day out of a container.

My task tonight was to write down the 15 ideas on 15 slips of paper, fold them and drop them into a cute ceramic container that my daughter Adriel made for me many years ago. Each day I’ll reach in and select an activity.

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

The activities, which include watching a sunrise and a sunset, play in water, go on a day trip and plant something new in the garden, are all doable in a single day. Some activities are just more challenging than others. Since I have 15 activities and only 7 days in the challenge, not every slip of paper will be drawn.

I benefit from this type of creative play in several ways. I enjoy a challenge. It helps me to grow. The seemingly random order of the activities teaches me trust, for this game is, in reality, played with the Divine. As I select a slip of paper, I am choosing to remain in the flow of life, and I hold to the belief that I will draw out the perfect activity for the day.

I look forward to the summer hygge challenge and seeing how it all unfolds. Play along if you’d like. This will be fun!

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

It’s time to keep the hygge going during the warm and free summer months. Hygge, pronounced hue•gah, is a Scandinavian custom that promotes a lifestyle focused on coziness, comfort and simple pleasures. Often associated with winter time, hygge can actually be practiced throughout the year.

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

Here are 15 ideas to create that hygge coziness in summer.

1. Stargaze – find a quiet place free from city lights and look up. Lie on a quilt on the ground, stretch out in a lounge chair or sit in a pickup truck bed. Watch for shooting stars and make a wish.

2. Go camping – summer time is all about enjoying the outdoors. Make your camp comfy. Bring lightweight throws and quilts from home. Throw a rug down outside the tent, or inside if the tent is roomy enough. Have fun being outside while enjoying some comforts of home.

3. Grow a garden – a flower garden, an herb garden or a veggie garden all provide beauty and/or food and allow a connection with the earth and growing plants. Get your hands dirty.

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

4. Watch a sunrise and a sunset – bookend the day with the promise of a new day and the satisfaction of a day well spent.

5. Play in the water – cool off at the beach, in a pool, or with a garden hose and sprinkler. Have on hand piles of thick fluffy towels, wide brimmed hats and lightweight cotton cover ups.

6. Drink flavored ice teas – swap out hot teas for cold iced tea. Try new flavors of herbal teas. My current favorite is a blend of rose hips tea and orange juice, chilled before drinking.

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

7. Watch fireworks – celebrate the 4th of July with your own mini fireworks display or attend a big sponsored event.

8. Travel – take a day trip, a road trip or a two week vacation. Go somewhere new. Explore different cultures and cities and meet new people. Create a scrapbook capturing your trip.

9. Build a fire in a backyard fire pit and light candles throughout the yard and garden – candlelight and firelight are important aspects of hygging. Create a cozy evening in your own backyard with a fire and candles. Use safe containers for candles and monitor the fire!

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

10. Watch a movie or attend a concert outdoors – check your local news sources for movies in the park or outdoor concerts. If you are fortunate enough to have a drive in theater nearby, take family and friends to watch a movie on the big screen.

11. Experience a thunderstorm while sipping tea – appreciate nature’s cleansing through thunderstorms. From a safe place, watch the lightning, listen to the rumble of thunder, catch the scent of rain. Chamomile tea is a good choice for a calming tea if thunderstorms make you nervous.

12. Walk barefoot in the grass – and benefit from receiving the earth’s energy as it enters through the soles of the feet.

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer

13. Create an outdoor room – turn your porch, your patio or deck into an outdoor room. Add comfy seating, waterproof rugs, cushions and pillows, tables to hold drinks and stacks of books and include twinkling lights or candles. Eat outside, read, daydream, entertain.

14. Make your own ice cream – use an ice cream maker and create your own flavors. For a healthy easy ice cream treat, blend 3 frozen bananas, cut into chunks, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Top with fresh fruit.

15. Slow down – observe life. Listen. Rest. Breathe. Take naps, in a hammock or on a pile of pillows. Eat lightly. Savor fresh fruits and veggies. Take your time.

Hygge is such a beautiful way to engage in life and care for the self and the soul. Connect with others. But most importantly, connect deeply with yourself.

Happy hygging!

15 Ways to Enjoy a Hygge Summer