Thank You for the Lessons 2018 – I Am Ready 2019

I am very mindful today that a little more than 48 hours remain in 2018. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of reflection on the year past…and anticipation and planning for the year ahead. I’ve done both.

I’ll do a year end review on Monday, and welcome 2019 the next day.

Tonight I’m filled with gratitude for all that I’ve learned, for the lessons 2018 offered that helped me to grow and go beyond.

Thank You for the Lessons 2018 - I Am Ready 2019

Challenges are Opportunities

I used to be such a worrier. Anxiety burdened me, creating health issues and robbing me of joy. Gradually I learned to let go of my tendency to fret about a past that was unchangeable and a future I had no control over.

What freedom and lightness of spirit came into my life with letting go. And how my perspectives shifted. Now I am not willing to expend energy rehashing the past nor will I rob myself of present joys by wasting time creating untrue stories about possible outcomes. I learn from the past and let the future unfold, moment by moment.

From that frame of reference, I see challenges as opportunities to grow, to learn, to open up or to let go. It’s not that I don’t have challenges. I do, just like everyone else. What I have learned to do is respond differently. When I feel frustration or the pull back toward worrying, I bring myself back to the present with a word…Adsum…open up my chest and heart chakra…and let go.

I recall this quote…

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” Pema Chodron

…and welcome the challenge as the opportunity that it is. I don’t want to keep repeating a lesson until I get it. I’d rather “get it”, and move on, go beyond.

Thank You for the Lessons 2018 - I Am Ready 2019

Lessons from 2018

This year presented wonderful joys and unique challenges to grow me into the person who will step confidently into 2019.

In random order, I’ve learned…

• To trust deeply, in ways I could not even imagine a couple of years ago. So much is beyond my control. All I can do is respond from a place of trust and faith.

• My intuitive abilities truly are gifts. I don’t have to “do” anything with them or resist using them or hide them away. They are simply part of who I am…nothing more, nothing less.

• People can be disappointing. Not everyone thinks or believes or behaves as I do. My place isn’t to judge them or condone them. I can only offer from who I am, stay open and live as my highest self. Some will walk with me and some will walk away. Either choice is okay.

• At age 60 I can dwell in health and vitality.

• At age 60 I can learn new things. Technology, which is constantly evolving, can be a very challenging arena for me. I’ve pushed myself this year to keep evolving with it. Even when it feels as if my head will explode, I’ve discovered I can adapt, learn new ways of doing things, and grow.

• It’s not necessarily a bad thing, when events don’t go the way I want them to. In fact, when I let go and stay open, better things show up.

• Ongoing conversations with the Divine are my most important form of guidance.

• The desires of my heart provide important clues about who I am made to be.

• Placing expectations on others creates burdens too heavy to be borne. Living in freedom allows me to extend the same grace to others.

• No detail of my life is insignificant to the Divine.

• Life’s mysteries are intended to inspire and delight me, not confound and confuse me.

Thank You For The Lessons 2018 - I Am Ready 2019

I Am Ready 2019

This year has shaped me into the person who now stands on the threshold of a big new adventure in a fresh year. I love knowing that I am not weighed down with unresolved issues nor am I toting baggage into 2019.

There are no regrets. I am grateful for the gifts 2018 offered to me, including the challenges. One of the greatest blessings is knowing that all that happened this year had purpose. All had a part in preparing me for what comes next. I’m being called to step up into being who I am intended to be, at a very high level. There is a trickle of fear…and great anticipation.

2019…I am ready.

Thank You For The Lessons 2018 - I Am Ready 2019

Movie Review: Bird Box

Bird Box, a recent Netflix release, is already setting viewing records. In its first week Netflix reports that 45 million subscribers watched the movie. Those are amazing numbers, during Christmas week when holiday films typically dominate.

After seeing a couple of previews, and knowing nothing more about the story, I can be counted as one of those 45 million. I’m still thinking about Bird Box.

Movie Review Bird Box

Cast

Bird Box stars Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, Danielle Macdonald, Tom Hollander, Vivien Blair and Julian Edwards. This drama thriller is directed by Susanne Bier and based on the novel by the same name, written by Josh Malerman. It carries an R rating for language, violence, adult themes and intense scenes and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Movie Review Bird Box

Chaos and Hysteria

*Warning – spoilers. Ending is not revealed.*

This apocalyptic type story alternates between current time and flashbacks that fill in the narrative.

In the present, a woman and her two small children navigate down a river in a simple flat bottom boat, blindfolded, seeking sanctuary. Malorie (Bullock) gives stern commands to the children, called Boy (Edwards) and Girl (Blair), telling them to listen for danger and do exactly what she says.

The three survived a dark menace that has wiped out most of the world’s population. Their only hope of survival is to reach a community of people that exists further down the river.

The flashbacks take us back five years, to the beginning of the chaos. A pregnant Malorie and her sister Jessica (Paulson) visit the hospital for a routine prenatal exam. Reports are coming in via television and social media that some sort of strange epidemic is sweeping through Russia and Europe. People are killing themselves by the thousands.

Hysteria and chaos quickly arrive in California, as Malorie and Jessica leave the hospital.

Movie Review Bird Box

Don’t Look

In moments people are dying on the streets. Without warning they become extremely frightened or hopelessly sad by something only they can see. The strong emotion drives them to kill themselves.

Jessica wrecks the car and immediately steps in front of a bus. In shock, Malorie is helped to her feet. People are dying around her, even as they try to assist her. A stranger named Tom (Rhodes) propels Malorie to a neighborhood house where they are permitted to enter.

The group inside, organized by a cynical man named Douglas (Malkovich), quickly realizes they must not look outside. The entities causing death and chaos cannot be physically seen, however looking toward them causes the viewer to see their worst fear or their greatest sorrow. The sight drives them to madness and their deaths.

Ultimately the little group includes another pregnant woman, Olympia (Macdonald), and an assortment of people who were once strangers to each other. They are bound together by their need to survive.

Movie Review Bird Box

Bird Box

When food runs low, several members of the group attempt to secure supplies at a nearby supermarket. Donning blindfolds and covering the windows of the car, they use GPS to successfully navigate to and from the store. During their first supply run, Malorie finds three caged birds. She discovers that the birds sense the presence of the entities and brings them back to the house.

The group survives, until Gary (Hollander) arrives, pretending to need help. He talks about people who can look at the entities and live. They find the creatures beautiful and want everyone to look at them. Douglas does not trust Gary. He is right to be concerned.

Ultimately only Malorie, Tom and the two babies survive. Olympia has asked Malorie to care for her daughter if something happened to her. Malorie never names the children, calling them Boy and Girl. For five years the two adults and the children move from place to place and learn how to get by.

And then there are three. Malorie is desperate to protect the children. Guided by a voice on the radio, she places Boy and Girl in the little boat, along with the birds, in a box, and follows the directions she’s been given. Down the river they go. They cannot look. And they must not remove the blindfolds, or they will die.

The fierce desire to live and the hope for safety and a life that is more than survival compels Malorie to keep fighting and to keep going.

Movie Review Bird Box

My Thoughts About Bird Box

This is a tense, well done film with underlying messages that are intended to be interpreted by the viewer. Neat and tidy answers are not provided, about the cause of the epidemic or the nature of the entities. The characters speculate and offer possibilities.

The most simple, but not necessarily correct, interpretation is that the entities have a dark spiritual nature. They are demon-type creatures drawn out by mankind’s downward destructive slide. They can’t be seen, other than as shadowy shapes as they pass a window or as a ripple of energy that disturbs leaves…and birds. However, the characters see troubling visions when the entities are present, causing them to kill themselves. Or those who are deemed mad already don’t harm themselves after seeing the creatures but seek to destroy others.

The birds are an interesting symbol in the film. They are considered messengers that go between humans and the spirit world. Birds have been used, historically, to give warnings of other unseen dangers, such as gas in a mine.

The blindness is symbolic on many levels. See no evil comes to mind. Blind trust also, which is connected to faith. The expression “seeing is believing” fits appropriately into this story. And the eyes being the windows of the soul give deeper meaning as well.

At the heart of Bird Box is Malorie. She’s tough, self-reliant and very protective of her heart. Not naming the children shows her determination to strengthen them so they will survive…as tenderness is seen as weakness…and it shows how much she fears losing them. Detachment seems vital to keeping her heart intact.

I enjoyed Bird Box. The intensity of some of the scenes certainly created tension however the symbolism, deeper messages and unanswered questions stirred my inquisitive nature. I’m still thinking about this movie and intend to watch it again so I can delve deeper.

I’d love to know your interpretations of the story!

Movie Review Bird Box

Day 7: Try a New Soup Recipe

What a cozy, homey way to end the 7 Day Winter Hygge Challenge. This morning I selected this final activity.

Try a new soup recipe

Hygge encourages simple wholesome nutritious meals. On this windy, chilly overcast day, the thought of dining on hot soup tonight warmed me all afternoon.

Day 8: Try a New Soup Recipe

Finding a New Soup Recipe

I made use of the Yummly app to find a new soup recipe. Called a “smart cooking sidekick”, Yummly allows me to find the perfect recipe. By entering in preferences and filters I can narrow down my search by cook time, course, cuisine, occasion, diet, allergy, nutrition and the ingredients I have on hand.

I already have my Yummly app set up with a vegan preference. The app stores my saved info as well, such as no meat, dairy products, gluten, eggs, soy or sugar.

Tonight I listed ingredients I had on hand, a prep and cook time of under an hour, and hit search. A list of recipes popped up, featuring their eye catching photos. Much like Pinterest, clicking on the photo takes me to a contributor’s website, where a full list of ingredients and directions for the recipe are posted.

Day 7: Try a New Soup Recipe

Vegan Potato Carrot Soup

I settled on a potato leek carrot soup, minus the leeks, which I did not have on hand. This vegan recipe, from Healthier Steps, was simple to prepare with a couple of adaptations to match my available ingredients. Check out her website for amazing plant based recipes.

I doubled this recipe, as noted below.

Vegan Potato Carrot Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Sauté onion, carrots, celery and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add thyme and stir. Add potatoes, coconut milk, vegetable broth, water, coriander, turmeric and cumin. I also added a teaspoon of sea salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and tender. Season with black pepper and more sea salt, if needed. Makes 6-8 servings.

Day 7: Try A New Soup Recipe

Day 7: Try a New Soup Recipe

Hygge Goodness

The new soup recipe proved to be delicious. Full of veggies and savory with a subtle blend of spices, the Potato Carrot Soup goes into my “keep” section on Yummly.

I enjoy cooking, especially on cool evenings. A hot bowl of soup is satisfying comfort food and serves up warmth, nutrition and a perfect hygge experience.

The 7 day hygge challenge is finished. Practicing coziness continues. I’ll randomly select the remaining hygge activities from the jar, over the winter.

Even as Christmas decorations come down, winter deepens and will remain for three more months. I’ll practice creativity, finding ways to display candles and pile up the thick blankets and bring natural elements indoors. It’s going to be very cozy around here.

Day 7: Try a New Soup Recipe

 

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

When I selected Build a Bonfire, on day 3 of the challenge, the mild weather perfectly supported that activity. I laughed when I drew today’s slip of paper out of the jar.

Have a cozy evening with warm PJs, a pile of blankets, a hot drink, a book and candlelight.

It’s been overcast and dark all day, as if the sun forgot to rise. A steady rain pelts the windows. And a strong breeze is literally whistling around the house and through the front door, disturbing the cats. It is a great evening for carrying out this hygge activity. Nights like this one inspire coziness.

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

Looking at my hand written slip of paper, I realized it read like a “to do” list. I’m one for checking items off as I complete them, so here we go…steps to creating a cozy pajamas evening.

Warm PJs

I confess, I don’t know why I wrote the word pjs. Honestly, I don’t own pajamas nor do I sleep in them. (Check out my post, Comfortable in My Own Skin) However, I do adore wearing comfy clothes. As soon as I’m in for the evening, during cold winter months, I change out of my everyday clothes and into cozy warm tights, hoodies and fuzzy socks.

Tonight I donned tights and a lined hoodie sporting the tiger emblem and the words MIZZOU TIGERS, the mascot of Missouri University in Columbia. My oldest grandson is a sophomore there, inspiring me to exhibit school spirit. I added socks in the school colors of black and gold and my new cozy cat slippers.

Warm “pjs”? Check!

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

Pile of Blankets

I selected this activity first thing this morning. By mid afternoon, a new, incredibly warm blanket came into my life. The plush queen sized blanket is a Christmas gift from my son and daughter-in-law. They had no idea that I’d be enjoying a cozy hygge evening. How timely is their present.

I adore blankets and linens. For me they join candles as the ultimate hygge props. My cats agree. As soon as I snuggled beneath my new blanket, Shy Boy’s cozy alert went off. He bounded into my room and curled up on my lap, snuggling into the blanket with a raspy purr and a sigh.

Blanket? Check! Cuddly cat as a bonus? Check!

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

Hot Drink, Book and Candlelight

These last three items complete my list for a cozy pajamas evening.

My hot drink of choice tonight soothed me with chai spices, unsweetened cocoa and dairy free milk. Chai hot chocolate is quickly becoming a favorite night time drink. Find the easy recipe here.

I read from two books. The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore, inspires me and creates anticipation for next year. My word for 2019 is enchantment and the way Moore writes about the state of being enchanted stirs my heart and expands my soul.

And I am slowly reading my way through the Harry Potter series of books. I’ve seen all the movies many times. Until recently, I had not read the books. I’m on book three, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and enjoying the story.

Candlelight flickers through my home again this evening. With the fierce wind and rain, I skipped lighting the front porch candles. And I simply plugged in a string of lights in my studio. However the rest of the rooms are alight with twinkling flames. I truly love candlelight. It softens a room, creates intimacy and sends hope outward, energetically. I understand why candlelight is such a crucial hygge element.

Hot drink? Check! Books? Check! Candlelight? Check!

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

Cozy Pajamas Evening

Surrounded by light and warmth and coziness, I am at peace and filled with joy. If the bonfire night epitomized outdoor hygge, tonight defines the simplicity and beauty of the hygge lifestyle. It grows my faith and deepens my trust in the Divine, as I randomly draw out activities that so perfectly align with my day.

I have one more winter hygge activity to carry out tomorrow, for the challenge. This week of activities completes an intention I set forth on the first day of spring. My desire to welcome each season with a week of activities, appropriate for the time of year, has been realized.

What I’ve come to appreciate most is that hygging truly is a lifestyle for me. This Scandinavian tradition is in my DNA. I’ll continue to practice hygge, and find fresh ways to embrace coziness, in all areas of my life.

Cozy pajamas evening? Check! Hygge lifestyle? Check!

Day 6: Cozy Pajamas Evening

Order Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life below.

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Day 5: Write Out Intentions for 2019 and Dream Big

The hygge activity I drew this morning fit in perfectly with the quiet stay-at-home day planned for Christmas. I visited with several family members before today and I’ll see the rest this week. My Christmas included texts with family and friends, reading, cozy comfy clothes, and delicious plant based foods. I might have slipped a short nap in too, cuddled up with a cat.

The slip of paper I selected read:

Write out intentions for 2019. Dream big and record my thoughts in my journal.

Day 5: Write Out Intentions for 2019 and Dream Big

Connection with Self

Hygge is about creating coziness and enjoying life…and it’s about connection. A hygge lifestyle encourages connecting with nature, with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly, connecting deeply with self.

Spending time today dreaming, writing out intentions and listing action steps are all important ways of focusing inward. For intentions to become reality, I must begin with knowing what I want. And I must slip past all restraints and dream big.

Day 5: Write Out Intentions for 2019 and Dream Big

Cozy Environment

To create a supportive environment for dreaming and writing out intentions I took several steps:

I surrounded myself with beauty, which fosters creativity for me, and made sure my room was uncluttered and tidied up. As darkness gathered at the windows I turned on Christmas lights and small lamps, creating intimacy.

For 2019 I’ve picked out a new journal, with the Queen chess piece on the cover. It’s in my shopping cart, at Amazon, ready to ship when I complete my order. For the exercise this evening I used one of my composition notebooks to record my thoughts in.

And finally, a cup of hot herbal tea and a healthy chocolate chip cookie provided a snack while I wrote.

Day 5: Write Out Intentions for 2019 and Dream Big

Dream Big

Typically I use the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to reflect back on the past year and look ahead to the next one. I appreciate this time of being in the space between what has come to pass and what will occur. Blogging definitely gives me milestone markers for the journey I am completing. And my dreams fuel the journey that is about to unfold.

Writing in my journal today I allowed myself to dream BIG in multiple areas of my life, including health and well being, writing/blogging, travel, real estate, family and relationships, and creativity. As the saying goes, if my dreams don’t scare me, they aren’t big enough!

I’m painting on a blank canvas, titled 2019: Queen of Enchantment, with very broad albeit vivid brush strokes. Enchantment is my theme for next year. The Queen chess piece is my symbol. I’m excited to experience this new journey and see how far I go and what I accomplish.

I believe that what I think about, dream about, in my inner world, becomes my outer reality. I’m guided Divinely. The Dream Giver calls to me. My role is to show up…and keep dreaming big. I can do that.

Day 5: Write Out Intentions for 2019 and Dream Big

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Simple wholesome food is ready for tomorrow. It will be a quiet day for me, with family scattered until after Christmas. I’ll enjoy a day of rest and play, movies and music. The hygge activity I drew from the jar was perfect for an evening in.

Watch a favorite movie from my childhood.

That seemed like an easy task. A movie immediately came to mind.

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

A Childhood Favorite

My first film choice, for tonight, was the 1964 movie Mary Poppins. That fun musical had a great impact on me as a child. Mary Poppins showed me how magical life could be. And I’m talking about truths deeper than flying with an umbrella, although I tried that, unsuccessfully, as a six year old.

Alas, I could not find Mary Poppins online to watch.

I’ve learned, these last few years as a blogger, that if a plan goes awry it’s best to let it go and remain open to other possibilities. The search began, at almost 8:00 PM, for another movie from the 1960s that I could watch this evening.

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

White Christmas

Being Christmas Eve I turned my focus to classic holiday films. Flipping through tv channels I looked for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) or Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). I had a fallback ready to go…my beloved Jason and the Argonauts (1963). That adventure fantasy is a favorite and I own the DVD. Something Christmasy appealed to me now however. I kept searching.

I found the right one. Netflix has a great selection of holiday films. White Christmas (1954) stood out. Although I watched the classic every year, as a child, it had been a very long time since I watched this Irving Berlin musical all the way through.

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

A Favorite Movie From My Childhood

White Christmas stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The story follows a popular song and dance team, Bob and Phil (Crosby and Kaye), as they team up with sisters Betty and Judy (Clooney and Vera-Ellen), who are launching a musical career of their own. The four end up at an inn in Vermont, where lack of snowfall is hampering business.

I confess, I smiled though this 2 hour movie. I’d forgotten so much: How rich and distinctive is Bing’s voice and how brightly his eyes sparkle. I laughed over Danny Kaye’s comedic antics. His weekly variety show in the 60s was another favorite.

And as a child, I missed the real plot of the story. The lack of snow affected the inn of a man who was important to Bob and Phil. The owner was Major General Waverly, formerly in command of the troops Bob and Phil served in. They literally rallied those troops, and performed a Christmas show, to support their old Major General.

White Christmas is fun, it’s full of familiar tunes, and it has a great message about helping each other through difficult times. I appreciate the timeless story as presented through song and dance.

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

Hygge Christmas Eve

Before starting the movie I created a cozy, hygge environment. Throughout the house and out onto the front deck, candlelight welcomed Christmas and sent the lights of hope, peace and joy into the world.

I carried hot tea and a nutritious dinner of lentil shepherd’s pie into my room. For warmth I snuggled beneath a fuzzy blanket while my new cat socks kept my feet toasty.

It was the perfect setting for a watching a favorite movie from my childhood. I loved the whole experience.

I have no idea what hygge activity I’ll draw tomorrow, for Christmas Day. However I trust it will be just as perfect!

Day 4: Watch a Favorite Movie From My Childhood

Day 3: Build a Bonfire

I could not have had a more perfect day for this winter hygge activity. When I select a slip of paper from the jar, I do so randomly. Seeing what I draw each day becomes a fun game…and also an exercise in trust.

With mild temperatures and low wind conditions, an evening bonfire in the backyard fire pit offered the ultimate cozy hygge experience.

Day 3: Build a Bonfire

Setting the Stage

The Danish custom of hygging embraces simplicity, connection and creating a cozy atmosphere. Candlelight and firelight are important elements of winter hygge. While I use many candles throughout my home, I do not have a fireplace. I have a backyard fire pit though!

Hygge encourages spending time outdoors as well, no matter what the weather is. I use the fire pit from spring until late fall. I’ve never actually built a fire in it during the winter months. It was time for a new experience.

To up the coziness factor, I added several metal candleholders to the brick patio area and carried out soft blankets to snuggle beneath.

Day 3: Build a Bonfire

Healthy Snacks

While Greg built a fire and tended to it, I prepared a healthy snack to enjoy outdoors.

Earlier in the afternoon, anticipating the evening bonfire, I tried out a simple new recipe for Rice Krispy Treats, by Anthony William. This healthier version of a traditional favorite is made from raw honey, cashew butter, vanilla and organic brown rice puffed cereal. The treats chilled in the refrigerator while I created a hot drink for us to sip on as we enjoyed the fire.

Chai Hot Chocolate combines the goodness of chai spices with a healthy sugar-free, dairy-free cocoa. Prepared in a saucepan on the stove, this delicious hot drink came together in minutes.

Find both recipes here.

Day 3: Build a Bonfire

Winter Bonfire

I loved this experience. This is what hygge is all about.

As darkness shadowed the backyard, the bonfire crackled and sent sparks twirling into a clear, star studded sky. Candles twinkled, creating a soft glow.

Temperatures dropped into the low 40s. The blanket felt great to snuggle beneath. A cap, scarf and gloves added to my comfort. And the chai hot chocolate warmed me and delighted me with its spicy goodness.

Coziness? Yes. Peace and quiet joy, watching the mesmerizing bonfire? Yes. Total, absolute bliss? Oh yes. After tonight, I’m inspired to build more fires during the winter. I’d especially love to warm myself with a roaring fire after a gorgeous snowfall.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Day 3: Build a Bonfire

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Purchasing cozy socks is such a beautifully simple hygge activity. And it meshed perfectly with my day. I had last minute errands to run, to complete preparations for Christmas.

I thought it would be easy to find a fun pair of fuzzy socks to wear over the holidays. However, being the Saturday before Christmas meant there were LOTS of shoppers out, completing Christmas purchases.

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Where Did All the Cozy Socks Go?

Since Halloween I’ve seen displays of cozy, holiday themed socks everywhere…until today. I should have known better. I worked in retail years ago. Traffic along Range Line indicated the stores would be full. And they were.

I made six stops, running errands. I felt sure I’d find the right pair of cozy socks at my first shop. Not one pair remained. The displays were empty.

At my next to last stop, a Walmart Super Center, I perused the slim selection of available socks. I had a pair of textured boot socks in hand, although it seemed a stretch to call them cozy.

Finally I spied a display with a few holiday socks hanging upon it. Two options fit my criteria. Being a “cat mom”, with three felines at home, I chose the cute, cozy kitty socks, lined with fuzzy fleece. Perfect.

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Coziness Improves Health

Did you know that hygging, the Danish practice of creating coziness, has health benefits?

Being cozy is actually good for you. Benefits include:

  • Increase in happiness
  • Less depression and anxiety
  • Greater optimism and sense of self worth
  • Lower stress
  • Improved compassion, toward self and others
  • Raised awareness and mindfulness
  • Increased gratitude
  • Appreciation for simple things in life

No wonder the Danes are some of the happiest, most content people on earth.

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Cozy Cat Socks

I’ve worn my new cozy socks since I returned home, errands completed. I love them. They are more of a slipper sock and my feet feel toasty warm and cradled in comfort. As a bonus, I smile every time I glance at my feet.

The coziness that surrounds my feet moves upward to cocoon my whole body in sweet warmth. And that’s the beauty of hygge. The small acts of creating cozy comfort expand into joy, contentment and peace.

My cat babies seem to like my new socks as well. Two of the three have snuggled up, which is another lovely hygge tradition. We are embraced by coziness.

Day 2: Buy a New Pair of Cozy Socks

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Who creates a winter playlist at 11:30 at night, and then starts on blog posts? I do! I do because I made a commitment to myself, five years ago, to write and post daily. Plus I intended to launch a 7 Day Winter Hygge Challenge today, on the first day of winter.

These are my rules. I can choose to break them, or not. And I confess that I nearly chose to start the hygge challenge tomorrow. A long and full day focusing on other people who are dear to me took precedent today. No one would fault me for skipping a day of writing. It matters to me though.

Twice I stared into my jar with 15 folded slips of paper tucked within, feeling the minutes ticking by. Various activities awaited me. Finally I reached in and selected one. I made the right decision.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Winter Playlist

Of the 15 possibilities, this activity…Create a Winter Playlist…was the most doable in a limited amount of time. A playlist is simply a selection of songs grouped together. I have more than 300 songs on my iPhone to choose from.

Which songs inspire me as I head into a new year? Which ones create a cozy warmth around my heart?

In a few minutes I named my new playlist, added a photo I took recently of our one and only snowfall so far, and selected 19 songs.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

An Eclectic Playlist

With the theme of winter guiding me, I pulled together an eclectic mix of songs. It’s the end of the year. A bright, shiny new year beckons, promising exciting adventures. Music accompanies me as I journey through this in between time.

I felt inspired to add a few Christmas songs, such as Winter Wonderland and Mary Did You Know? Music from the movie Frozen seems perfect for a winter playlist. Auld Lang Syne, by the bagpipe band Red Hot Chilli Pipers, gets the year off to a great start. My list is completed with additional movie soundtrack favorites, and a couple of Queen songs.

I’m grateful for this delightful hygge activity. And tomorrow I’m excitedto try out the winter playlist, as I embrace this new season.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

I was honored to attend a Christmas tour this evening, in one of the most beautiful old homes in the area. My mother and sister Linda accompanied me. Don and Becky Freeman, the current owners of the Elijah Thomas Webb House in Webb City, graciously invited us to take a peek inside this grand home, decorated for the holidays.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The Webbs of Webb City

Elijah (1851 – 1936) was the son of John C. Webb, the founder of the city that bears his name. John came to Missouri from Tennessee in 1856, settling on 200 acres. Eventually he acquired an additional 120 acres, part of which would later become the community of Webb City.

While plowing in a cornfield in 1873, John discovered lead. He quickly turned mining operations over to a partner, while he built a community. Webb platted the town of Webb City in July 1875. The following year, the Center Creek Mining Company began operations on Webb’s land. Miners flocked to the area. Most of them lived in nearby Joplin, which, at the time, was filled with gambling halls, saloons, and brothels.

However, the mine owners chose to make their homes in Webb City. The town was incorporated in December 1876 with a population of about 700. As the town grew, shops, hotels, saloons and businesses sprang up. In 1882 John and his son Elijah opened the Webb City Bank. John died the following year. Elijah continued to operate the bank and manage the family’s land and mineral interests, which were leased to numerous operators.

Having become a very wealthy man, Elijah built a magnificent Queen Anne style home during the last decade of the 19th Century. The house featured two stories with an attic and cupola, 12-foot ceilings, inlaid wood floors, three fireplaces, oak trim, and all the trimmings of a successful man of the time. This beautiful home continues to stand in the city today, a historic treasure that has been lovingly restored.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb HousePhoto from Victorian Elijah Thomas Webb Home Facebook Page.

Faithfully Restored

Mom, Linda and I arrived a few minutes early at the Webb home, so I could take photos before most of the guests arrived. Even in the dark, the exterior of the home is enchanting. Lights in the windows and on the front porch invited us in.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Don and Becky greeted us, and then encouraged us to wander through the house. We happily accepted the invitation.

Every room is faithfully restored, and filled with furnishing from the 1860s and 70s. Don shared with us that Elijah was allergic to carpet fibers. He created gorgeous wood floors instead. The detailing and the wood trim is exquisite. Themes inside the house, such as the carved fan shapes on the staircase, are carried outside onto the front porch.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The wallpaper is hand printed, and while not original to the house, it is a perfect representation of the time period. Hot water radiators still provide heat. And air conditioning is rarely needed. The design of the house, with its high ceilings and transom windows above doors, allows for the circulation of air.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House I loved the wallpapered ceiling in the guest bath on the main floor!

Christmas Tour

Every room in the Webb Home sparkled with Christmas cheer. A variety of decorated trees graced rooms and nooks. In older homes the rooms are more intimate, more cozy, and doorways connect the spaces. That architectural detail allowed guests to circle through rooms this evening and ohhh and ahhh over the décor.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Fireplaces originally contributed to heating a home. They still can. Whether there’s a fire crackling within them or not, they add warm ambiance and draw the eyes when entering a room. Webb House has several such eye catchers.

Dressed for Christmas, the house features an impressive collection of large scale seasonal décor. Santa appears in one room. Carolers surround a lamppost in another. It was fun to wander through the rooms and be delighted and surprised.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour Continues Upstairs

How fun to tour the main floor and the upstairs. Up those magnificent stairs we went, to see what awaited us on the second floor. Trees shine in each bedroom, and a vintage silver aluminum tree occupies a corner of the wide landing. I laughed when I saw the leg lamp and BB gun, from the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, in a bedroom.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The biggest surprise upstairs is the Nightmare Before Christmas room! This space, which is part of an extended bedroom suite, was originally a sleeping porch. It now serves as a family room, complete with a large screen tv.

Characters from the quirky Tim Burton animation fill this room. My family appreciates Halloween and this film, which is a blending of the two holidays. We loved this playful room.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Merry Christmas

We so enjoyed the Elijah Thomas Webb House Christmas Tour. I’m grateful that Don and Becky invited us to their home. Shortly after we arrived the rooms filled with happy people and the sounds of laughter and conversations drifted through the big old house.

What a labor of love. Historical homes require a great deal of research, work and time to restore them to their glory. They are so worth the effort. Every home has value. These old homes, however, are an important part of the area’s history. Their stories merge with those of towns and cities and the people who founded them.

Thank you, Don and Becky, for loving this home and caring for it. Truly, it is spectacular. And thank you for opening wide your doors and allowing others to appreciate the Webb Home as well, in all its Christmas finery. Merry, merry Christmas.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House