Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Today I came so close to skipping the hygge challenge activity. After an extremely long and full day, I stood staring at the covered dish that holds the slips of papers. I had not even drawn one out yet and my phone showed a time of 6:30 PM. I hesitated, feeling how weary I was.

My hesitation was warranted. I know what activities are within that dish. Some require more preparation and time to complete than others. This game teaches me trust, however. I stirred the folded papers, and drew out this activity:

Make a new soup recipe.

Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Finding a Soup Recipe

I was happy with the “random” selection. Although I felt it was too late to make up a pot of soup, finding a new recipe was very doable. Saturday is already full however by Sunday I could make time to cook.

I gathered several plant based cookbooks and thumbed through them while eating a simple veggie roll for dinner.

Soups are among my favorite meals and fall is the perfect season for creating big pots of soups, stews and chilis. Suddenly a recipe caught my attention. Chunky Red Lentil Stew had a relatively short list of ingredients and two wonderful spices: garam masala and curry.

I had found my soup recipe. And remarkably, the cookbook happened to be Vegan Pressure Cooking. Prep time – 10 minutes. Cook time – 6 minutes. I could do that. With a cup of hot lemongrass tea to fortify me, I made soup.

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

Here is the easy recipe:

2 cups + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon curry

1 tomato, cut into large chunks

1 cup dried red lentils

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt to taste

In uncovered pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable broth on high. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Stir in carrots, garam masala and curry and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add tomato, lentils and remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

Cover and bring to pressure. Cook for 6 minutes. Use quick release.

Remove lid and stir in lemon juice. Taste and add sea salt as needed.

Soup, it Does a Body Good

As the soup cooked in the pressure pot, I cleaned up the kitchen. The incredible aroma of garam masala and curry teased my nose and energized me. I am grateful that I did not let weariness keep me from today’s hygge activity.

Preparing and eating simple, nutritious food is foundational to the hygge lifestyle. And soup is such a warm, comforting and healing meal. Today fall appeared in the form of cool rainy weather, and I can’t think of a better way to practice coziness than preparing a pot of flavorful soup.

I only had a spoonful of the Red Lentil Stew, since it was quite late, however it tasted as wonderful as it smelled. A beautiful soup sits in the fridge, ready to reheat this weekend. Day 5 of the Fall Hygge Challenge turned out to be a rich blessing.

Day 5: Make a New Soup

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

After a full, fun day, I was grateful for the hygge activity I selected this morning. I drew this slip of paper:

Spend an hour coloring.

Coloring, especially for adults, was a hot trend a couple of years ago. I don’t hear as much about it currently, however, it is a meditative art form that I still enjoy. I brewed a cup of hibiscus tea, sliced up an apple and gathered supplies.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

A Coloring Book and Page Chooses Me

In keeping with the game I am playing, I picked up the first coloring book that I saw as I walked into my studio. Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Bradford, snagged my attention. Perfect. My word for 2019 is Enchanted.

Holding the book in both hands I opened to a page, randomly, and laughed. A variety of feathers filled the space. The feather quill is my symbol for this year.

What an accurate portrayal of where I am at this very moment…poised between two worlds. I inhabit that shifting space of overlapping energy as this year ticks down and the next year invites me in.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Spend an Hour Coloring

Tonight I took my task very literally. With my hot tea, apples and Crayola colored pencils arranged nearby, I glanced at the clock and began a countdown. I didn’t feel hurried. I knew I would not complete the coloring page in 60 minutes. That wasn’t the point of the activity.

The point was to lose myself in the gentle art of coloring. I enjoy selecting color combos and laying the color down on the page. Shading is something I’ve always done, even when I was a child with a box of waxy crayons. I build color up, and smooth it out, highlighting a section here, shading a bit there.

As I color, my heart rate slows, as does my breathing. My soul expands, my mind quiets and then ponders deeper mysteries.

Da 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Exchanging Time

My mind focused in on my choice of words, written on the slip of paper. Spend an hour coloring. Spend… Why did I choose that particular word, spend? Why not Color for an Hour? I almost changed the title of the post to the simplified version.

But my mind kept turning over the word spend. The word comes from the Latin expendere, which literally means pay out. I paid out an hour of my time this evening, an hour out of the 24 I was allotted today, in exchange for the simple and satisfying pleasure of coloring.

That realization gave me a fresh perspective. I’ll exchange more of my time, to explore and develop this line of thought. Tonight as I closed my coloring book, and took a deep breath, I declared this:

May I wisely spend the hours and days and months that I have, creating the life I most want to experience. My currency is precious. And it is limited in this life although my soul is boundless. Coloring was worth an hour of my time, in part because of the truths uncovered. May all that I pursue be counted as worthy.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

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 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

An important aspect of hygge is being outdoors and enjoying nature. For every hygge challenge that I do, I make sure to include outdoor activities.

This morning I randomly selected this folded slip of paper:

Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Walking in Nature

I selected the river path, in Wildcat Park south of Joplin, as my destination late this afternoon. A stroll along the river, on this warm day, was inviting even if it wasn’t any cooler by the water. Hearing the gurgle of the river as I walked was soothing and grounding.

I carried a canvas bag, brought home from Edinburgh, Scotland, to collect treasures in. I was open to finding seeds, nuts, leaves, twigs, rocks and feathers.

Instead of bagging them, I collected treasures through my iPhone camera.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Collecting Treasures

In spite of the heat, there were hints of fall evident. Leaves littered the path, grasses waved their tassels, and acorn pieces were scattered in the grass. The squirrels were busy feasting and gathering.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures The river was one of my companions as I walked. Greg was the other.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Beauty abounded.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Wildflowers are still in bloom.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures These Canadian geese have not headed south yet.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures A golden afternoon.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe sunbathing turtle proved skittish, but this water snake continued to bask in the sun. He’s non poisonous.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe trees along the path were festooned with delicate webs. Fat brown spiders patiently waited.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThis huge old sycamore tree stood as a sentinel at the head of the path.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresMetal treasure.

Leaving Nature Where It Is

By the end of my nature walk I had placed two treasures in my canvas bag…a nut and a small odd piece of metal that was half buried in the ground. Greg pried it loose for me. I fancied the rectangle of metal and I convinced myself that I likely prevented someone from tripping over it.

Instead of carting items home, I chose to leave nature where it was, outdoors, so that others could appreciate its beauty. I have my photos.

Day 2 of the 7 day fall hygge challenge is finished. I am enriched by the stroll through nature and by the treasures I collected in my heart.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

In spite of warm muggy weather today that belies the fact that fall begins this weekend, I excitedly drew my first hygge activity to welcome in the new season.

For this game that I play, I randomly select a folded slip of paper from the container, and follow the directions. This morning I picked this action from the little ceramic nut dish.

Create a new fall vignette.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Starting Afresh

After retrieving my box of fall decorations, I selected the vintage wooden sieve on my dining room table as the focus of my reset. This old sieve is not a family heirloom. I purchased it five years ago at an antique store. However, I love this unique piece. It makes a great container to create vignettes within.

I cleared away the summer items from the table and the sieve, and opened to possibilities. My rules for creating fresh displays are simple: use what I already have on hand, try new combinations of items, and have fun.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Creating a Fall Vignette

Color sets the mood for each vignette. Gone were the blues and greens of summer. I brought in a richly hued table runner, and swapped out green plates for yellow ones. A gold cloth provides a backdrop within the sieve. Pumpkins surrounded by miniature wreaths rest beneath the wire cloches.

I knew I wanted to include the nut dish that belonged to my grandparents. This is the fun part, then. I try out various items as I create the vignette, studying combinations and effects. Digging through my fall storage box, I gathered several pieces and set them on the table.

I keep the display simple, using the “rule of three” to prevent overcrowding the space. As I shifted pieces in and out of the sieve, the vignette came together quickly.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Vignette Pieces

The mercury glass vase, which when twisted around, has a Christmas motif on the front, does fall duty here. Sprigs of autumn berries decorated with tiny rusty metal stars fill the vase. A footed enameled metal dish holds a small spice scented candle, encircled by wooden acorns.

A garland of red, orange and clear beads completes the interior of the sieve. Resting nearby is a rust colored votive holder, adorned with a wooden cut out leaf, and two more acorns. Light is a very important element in my vignettes. I always include at least one candle.

I’m happy with this vignette, the first acknowledgement of fall in my house, and the first hygge activity of the season. The cozy display makes me smile, and it reminds me that cooler weather is coming!

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Fall Hygge List

This afternoon, I googled to see when fall begins. It’s September 22, in case anyone else wants to know. This year I have practiced a week of hygge activities, to welcome each new season. Thinking about the two weeks ahead, I wondered when I would have time to focus on the Danish custom of hygge, which is by definition a lifestyle that celebrates living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity and nurturing yourself and others with coziness.

The fact that I considered not welcoming fall with a week of hygge showed me just how much I need to slow down and nurture myself.

Fall Hygge List

Fall hygge list

Continuing the tradition that I began in the spring, I cut 16 strips of paper and wrote a fall appropriate hygge (pronounced hue•gah) activity on each one.

My list includes cozy inducing actions such as:

• create a fall themed front porch • choose a new book/author to read • create a cozy reading nook • go on a nature walk and collect treasures • make apple cider • wear a neck scarf all day • enjoy an outdoor fire with healthy snacks and a hot drink • plant bulbs in the garden • make a new fall soup or chili – plant based of course

Fall Hygge List

Fall Hygge List

 

Hygge randomness

Another tradition that I instigated with the summer season involves creating more than a week’s worth of activities. The slips of paper, 16 for fall, are folded and dropped into a container. Each day during Hygge Week I randomly select an activity and carry it out.

I enjoy this form of creative play. The Divine plays along with me and I always select the perfect action for the day, even if I initially think otherwise. This game grows my faith and my trust.

As I considered which container to use for these slips of paper, desiring something “fallish”, one popped into my mind. I dug the ceramic container out of the closet and smiled. The squirrel nut dish belonged to my maternal grandparents. Grandma kept mints, nuts or candies in the dish, and Pop continued that tradition after her death. After he too stepped into eternity, the dish came home with me.

The sassy little squirrel atop the walnut brings me joy. Looking at him I am reminded of my grandparents, who would surely approve of creating more coziness, simplicity and nurturing in my life.

The fall hygge list, cut into strips of paper, rests within the vintage covered dish. I’ll begin Fall Hygge Week on Monday and count down the days to autumn, which begins next Saturday. I’m grateful for hygge and that I am honoring my own tradition, especially when it feels like I am too busy to do so. It’s going to be a great week.

Fall Hygge List

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 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.