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 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

I confess that when I drew out a hygge activity this morning, I was hoping for a particular one. I already knew what I would do to carry out that action. And of course, I could have simply fished around in the dish and found the activity I was thinking of. But that’s not the way this game works.

I closed my eyes and drew this action;

Switch bedroom to fall décor.

That’s not the paper I had hoped for, however it was the perfect fall hygge activity for me today.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Clean Sweep

This afternoon, I began the task of removing the summery bedding and décor from my room. With my iPhone playlist on shuffle, I hummed along as I said goodbye to summer and a hearty welcome to fall.

In moments, I was thoroughly into the seasonal switch. With items cleared from surfaces, I could easily dust so the activity became about cleaning and tossing and gathering stuff for donation as much as redecorating.

I love how the energy in a room rises in connection with removing clutter and tidying up. Even though the fall colors in my bedroom are darker, the space felt lighter and brighter.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Fall Décor

I swapped out blues, greens, pinks and light yellows for reds, golds, rust and orange, with black accents. Beginning with the vintage suitcase, I reset vignettes and arranged fresh displays as I moved around the room.

Fall colors are my favorite. The rich vivid hues create warmth and a strong sense of coziness, which is what hygge is all about.

It’s too warm still for flannel sheets and blankets on the bed. However, I traded the lightweight summer quilt for a vintage coverlet that Greg’s grandmother made many years ago, and topped it with a quilt my younger daughter Adriel gifted to me 17 years ago. She made the quilt and matching pillow shams herself, with a little help from my mom. As I smoothed the quilt onto the bed I smiled as I thought about Adriel.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Next Change, Holiday Décor

Candles lit, I surveyed my finished work. It might be 93 degrees outside however in my bedroom it is fall. The temperatures outside will agree with this inner declaration soon enough.

The soft glow of candlelight revealed gleaming surfaces and favorite seasonal items. I recognized the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that welled up within as a sure signal that this activity was the right one for today.

My room is warm and inviting, peaceful and joyful, and it provides the ideal backdrop for restful slumber and lofty daydreams.

I realized too that the next reset that I do will involve holiday décor. How quickly this year has flown by. And how eagerly I anticipate the new year. Great things are in motion. The Dream Giver is calling to me, just around the river bend.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

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 3: Create Something

This beautiful spring-like day presented the perfect opportunity to create outdoors, for the third day of the Hygge Challenge. I knew I wanted to reset the front porch, using a fresh, spring theme. I typically redecorate the porch at this time of year, with items that will take me through spring and summer, to fall. I wanted to change that this afternoon.

Create Something

Wednesday – Create something

I enjoy creating vignettes by grouping items together that fit within a specific theme. I have vignettes scattered throughout the house. My covered front porch gets the vignette treatment as well. I have used a dragonfly theme on the porch for several years. It was time to come up with a fresh look, without buying all new décor. Part of the fun of arranging a vignette is using what I already have, in different ways.

I was in the mood for a unique focal point that I could create around. A trip to Michael’s Craft Store would perhaps inspire me!

Create Something

Indeed, a canvas print of a Henry David Thoreau quote snagged my attention. With its chalkboard look background and soft spring colors, I knew I could pull additional items together to complement it, pieces I already owned. And I love the quote: All good things are wild and free.

I couldn’t pass up three pastel ceramic pots. Michael’s had a BIG sale going on today. I bought them as well, in pale yellow, light pink and soft blue.

Create Something

This was my blank canvas, a bright yellow table tucked into the corner of the porch, near the front door. After clearing away my previous vignette and wiping the table down, I was ready to create.

Create Something

The canvas print hangs above the table. Below it a white table runner with embroidered spring flowers covers the surface. The three pastel ceramic pots occupy the center of the table. I dropped a white tea light candle into each pot.

Create Something

Create Something

Then the fun began. This is a bit of a trial and error process. As items pop into my mind, I retrieve them and try them in different spots, grouped in different ways. I have shelves in a closet full of vintage items and yard sale finds, candles and candle holders, and a drawer full of linens. I keep my theme and colors in mind as I make selections.

For this vignette, I wanted a spring look and soft colors. I used fake speckled eggs, a vintage ceramic bunny, metal in the form of a wire cloche and a bird cage, and a pair of porcelain birds that I have had for years. A candle and spring candle ring fill the birdcage, since those birds are free!

My favorite items are the small framed needlepoint art. Greg’s mother crafted the heart, with colors that reflect those in the large quote. She stitched this piece in 1986. The other stitched art pieces are not her work, but purchased by her about the same time.

Create Something

I love how this vignette turned out. Except for the table runner, none of these items have been used before on the front porch. Initially I felt like the two small framed pieces made the vignette seem too symmetrical. I rummaged in my closet for something else to add, and found the tiny stitched piece with a blue background. Adding it broke up the symmetry.

As I stood back to examine my work, I suddenly realized something…all three of the stitched art pieces contained a heart. That was one of those unintentional occurrences that tickles me and also brings confirmation. These were the right items for this new arrangement.

I had an appointment coming up, but I took the time to light the candles in the pots and take pics. This spring vignette makes me smile and brings joy to my heart. Welcome spring!

Create Something

Mint Tea with Stuffed Mushrooms & Melon

Day three during Afternoon Tea Week, and to celebrate I prepared a wonderfully satisfying treat today. I had the brilliant idea of making stuffed mushrooms for this afternoon’s tea. As I moved through my day, I couldn’t wait to play in the kitchen and see how my idea turned out.

For the mushroom filling, I adapted a brown rice and lentil recipe for the pressure cooker. Here is the recipe for my simple and healthy treat:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Prepare filling:

Rinse mushrooms and pat dry. Remove stem by cutting around edge of mushroom on the underside, leaving the cap. Place mushrooms in a small bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Place mushroom caps hollow side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Fill each mushroom cap with brown rice and lentil filling, mounding slightly. Cook in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

As the stuffed mushrooms baked, I snipped sprigs of mint from my garden. While the mint tea steeped, I prepared the rest of my afternoon treat.

During the summer months I enjoy the juicy goodness of watermelon and cantaloupe. Chunks of chilled melon with sprigs of mint seemed like the perfect accompaniment to the mushrooms.

The mushrooms were perfect, tasty without being too heavy. This afternoon tea made a great early dinner when paired with the melon. And the mint tea was an excellent pick me up. And as with the other teas this week, everything was plant based, healthy and nutritious.

Greg walked into the kitchen as I was finishing my preparations. “You are having fun, aren’t you?” he asked. The answer is, I am. Being creative in the kitchen is great fun for me. And finding new ways to enjoy afternoon tea has been extremely rewarding, along with being fun.

Henry James wrote, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

I wholeheartedly agree!

Journey 200: Midsummer Moot – Art Day

Today was the final day of the Middle Earth Summer Camp! What a fun experience. This was Art Day, which is very fitting for summer camp. However, rather than glue, glitter and paper, today’s activity was to create art outdoors, using plants, flowers, leaves, sticks or stones. 

 

I carefully considered what to do, and had several ideas. With my backyard garden I knew I had ample resources available. I love being outside, creating, even in this heat and humidity. 

I made my decision, and again, two ideas converged. Yesterday I completed preparation of the side flower borders, with help from Greg, and mulched the first section. This evening, the rest of my flowering plants went into the ground, creating a flower garden any Elf, or Hobbit, would approve of! 
  
For me, this was the perfect art project, making use of natural materials outdoors. Into the ground went 20 plants, grouped by plant type and height: white cone flowers, Shasta daisies, meadow sage, Russian sage, purple salvia, pink fountain gauras, yarrow, a lespedeza and finally, a dwarf butterfly bush, tucked into a corner bed. 

Tomorrow I’ll mulch the newly planted sections and around the now tamed rose bushes. I am so pleased to complete this project, and what a great day to create outdoor art. Thank you to Middle Earth News for a fun summer experience. I am always thrilled to accept an invitation to return to Middle Earth.