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

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 7: PJ Day

This was the final day in the 7 Day Hygge Challenge. And the perfect way to end this extraordinary week of creating coziness in my home and my life was to have a PJ Day.

PJ Day

Sunday – PJ Day

This was more than a lounge around in my comfy clothes day. The intent was to be comfortable and stay comfortable, without making plans or creating an agenda for the day. This was about self pampering and doing things that I enjoy.

I decided to let it be a go with the glow sort of day. Without making plans, I did what I wanted to do, at that moment.

Here is my day, captured in photos.

PJ Day

After an extended quiet time this morning, I enjoyed a couple of episodes of Big Dreams, Small Spaces, the British TV series featuring master gardener Monty Don. I get so inspired as he helps people create the gardens of their dreams. Look at that gorgeous backyard garden on my tv screen! This is the perfect time of year to be watching this show. My garden is waking up. I look forward to creating in it this season.

PJ Day

This was something that needed doing, but that I could have put off until another day. It felt like the right time to sort through receipts and docs from 2017, in preparation for turning numbers in to my accountant. There’s a portion of my sorting, in the pic above. Maybe because I was in a relaxed state of mine, or perhaps because I was in the flow…this task took far less time than I thought it would. It felt wonderful to get this out of the way. Tomorrow I will email a spreadsheet to the accountant and be done with it.

PJ Day

Two of my three cats, Angel and Shy Boy, joined me as I did my Morning Pages, in the early afternoon, and read for a bit in Under the Tuscan Sun. Cats, I’ve discovered, think every day should be unhurried and unscheduled!

Siberian Ginseng

I write two blogs. I post in this one every day and my health blog at least three times a week. Creating a Sunday/Tuesday/Friday posting schedule for Journey With Healthy Me has helped me tremendously with consistency. Which meant today was a double post day. Before preparing dinner, it felt like the perfect time to write today’s Sunday Supplement post about Siberian Ginseng. You can read that post HERE if you’d like.

PJ Day

Meals today have been simple: celery juice first thing this morning followed by a fruit smoothie, left over veggies and rice for lunch, lemon water, ginger water, hot herbal tea (lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds), and for dinner homemade gluten free veggie pizzas. I made the crusts from a mix I purchased at Natural Grocers. It is also dairy free. I topped the crusts with organic marinara sauce and sautéed veggies that included onion, green pepper, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms. No cheese needed or wanted. These personal sized pizzas were delicious!

And finally this evening, I have a short stack of books to read in and my writing journal near by. I may draw or color…or not. I may watch a movie…or not. I’m enjoying each moment and responding to whatever my whim is in the next one.

This has been a beautiful week for me. Hygge isn’t a trend for me or an experiment to try. It is a lifestyle. It connects me with coziness, with nature, with other people, with simple pleasures, and it centers me more deeply within myself. I’m excited to continue with this way of life and learn more about hygging and more about myself. The 7 Day Hygge Challenge is completed…and it was most appreciated and enjoyed.

PJ Day

Day 6: Walk in Nature

Today’s challenge got me outside and into the woods. Although we had abundant sunshine this afternoon, temperatures hovered around 60 degrees and the wind had a chilly nip to it. I had already determined that I was walking today, regardless of the weather. I dressed accordingly, in walking shoes and a warm hoodie.

Walk in Nature

Saturday – Walk in nature

The Scandinavian tradition of hygge has a strong connection to nature. It encourages bringing nature indoors, in the form of plants, flowers, leaves, twigs, bark and rocks. And it promotes people getting out into nature by way of walks, picnics, sitting under the stars, and camping. Hygge considers activities outside less important than just being outside, and being present, both with oneself and with nature. It is a centering, awareness raising time of connection.

For my walk I chose one of my favorite trails at Wildcat Park, south of Joplin. This path threads through the woods there and parallels Shoal Creek for a bit. Other people were out, with their dogs or their families, enjoying the sunshine. I walked slowly along the trail, alone with my thoughts, smiling at walkers as they passed me or approached me from the other direction. Other than hearing isolated snippets of conversations and an occasional laugh, the woods were quiet and serene today.

Walk in Nature

Walk in Nature

There were surprisingly few signs that spring is imminent. Our cold February seems to have delayed flowers and trees. However, a few bushes were dotted with tiny green leaves and early flowers such as spring beauty and henbit were popping up. The river gurgled by, unconcerned with whether spring was early or late. I sat on a large boulder and listened to river’s wisdom.

Walk in Nature

Walk in Nature

I brought along a healthy snack to enjoy near the water. The sliced apple, dates and bite sized pieces of celery are great for supporting my adrenal glands and boosting energy. I took advantage of the bright sunlight, tilting my head back to bathe my neck and thyroid with energy as well. Removing my sunglasses but keeping my eyes closed, I sun gazed for several more minutes.

Walk in Nature

As the path leaves the river and loops back through the woods, I begin to watch for my old friend, Oak Tree. I was drawn to this tree in January of 2014. That day I stood alone in the woods, in deep snow, and rested my hands on Oak Tree for the first time. It was a magical experience, feeling the hum of life under the rough bark. I pause by this tree each time I walk at Wildcat, closing my eyes and touching the trunk.

Today I patiently waited for a group of teens to walk on by, and then I greeted this ancient oak by speaking aloud and placing my right hand on its trunk. The tree is showing its age. Large chunks of bark are missing near its base. And there are actually three trunks that rise from the base of the tree, towering over me. A fourth trunk appears to have broken off long ago.

As I stood there meditatively, eyes closed, hand touching the bark, I felt the steady hum of life. A deep red color appeared on my eyelids. Because of its connection to the base chakra, red signifies root energy. It represents the element of earth, and being grounded. Red, for me, represents survival and basic life needs such as food and water. I smiled. This was a good sign. Oak Tree may be old, but its energy is still strong. I patted the tree lovingly and told it I will see it again soon and admire its new leaves.

What a beautiful walk, embracing the hygge belief of connecting deeply with nature and appreciating the gifts offered to my soul. I left the woods, the river and Oak Tree deeply restored.

Walk in Nature

Day 5: Movie Night at Home

Today’s hygge challenge is actually one of my favorite things to do. I love watching movies. And I love that the task for day 5 was to stay in and get comfy while enjoying a film.

Movie Night at Home

Friday – Have a movie night at home

The intent for this challenge was to get into comfy clothes or pjs, create a cozy atmosphere, have treats nearby, and relax while watching a movie. I appreciate the deeper assignment beneath the challenge. This wasn’t just a watch a movie at home night. This was a create warmth and comfort and wellbeing while watching a movie at home night, with the emphasis on the environment part.

I took great care in creating a space that was fun, relaxing and comfortable. I have discovered this about myself this week…I take hygge seriously!

Movie Night at Home

I chose my bedroom as the location for movie night. Repeating the Day 1 challenge, I lit tea light candles throughout the room, leaving off the overhead light, and I lit the essential oils candle that I purchased on Monday.

There was a pile of pillows to get comfy against, and I tossed my super soft blanket on the bed, in case I felt a need for something cuddly.

Movie Night at Home

My treat for movie time was a cup of hot herbal tea, a blend of lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds, and cara cara orange segments with a sliced Braeburn apple. This snack was satisfying and so good for me.

Following the comfy clothes recommendation, on this warm evening I opted for a soft sleeveless racer back T and low rise briefs, topped by a short, lightweight kimono style wrap. It has exquisite needlework on it, because comfy can also be beautiful.

Movie Night at Home

I was ready for the movie! Earlier in the day I checked my watch lists on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. I have long lists on both. I felt drawn to the sci fi thriller, The Circle, staring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.

I’ll do a review of this interesting movie another time. That’s not the purpose of tonight’s blog post. I enjoyed the movie though. I thought I had it all figured out, then it surprised me at the end.

Movie Night at Home

What I really enjoyed was the whole evening…the candle light, the healthy snack, the pretty, comfy clothes, and the even more comfy bed with its pillows and soft blanket, which I did use to cover my bare legs when they got cool.

It was the perfect evening for me and I am grateful for it. And I am grateful for this hygge challenge that I happened across on Pinterest. This has certainly been a cozy, comfortable, beautiful week. More hygge in my life, please.

Movie Night at Home

7 Day Hygge Challenge

I was inspired last week by a Pinterest post to do this fun challenge. The idea is to keep the hygge cozy going, even though winter is nearing its end. Hygge is a Scandinavian lifestyle, centered around creating connectedness and coziness, and not just a winter tradition.

Without knowing what it was called, I have practiced hygge throughout my life. I realized recently, when my DNA test results showed I have Scandinavian ancestry, that I perhaps have a genetic connection to this delightful way of embracing life.

7 Day Hygge Challenge

The purpose of the 7 Day Hygge Challenge is to do something fun, something different, every day, to keep the cozy element central in my life. The list is below. Play along!

1. Monday – Light a new candle, in a fresh light scent, and/or add strings of tiny white twinkle lights indoors or outside.

2. Tuesday – Have an evening without screens…no TV, computer or cell phone. Read a book, play a board game, work a puzzle or listen to music.

3. Wednesday – Create something…bake, draw, write a letter, sew, knit, paint, color, play your own tune or make a craft.

4. Thursday – Bring nature indoors…plants, fresh flowers, dried twigs. Create an arrangement, display or vignette.

5. Friday – Have a movie night at home, with cozy clothes and comfy wraps, and include a tasty treat and favorite drink.

6. Saturday – Get outdoors. Take a walk in nature, alone or with companions.

7. Sunday – PJ Day. Stay in comfy clothes all day. Have breakfast in bed, don’t make plans, read, watch Netflix, light candles, savor tea time, pamper yourself in your favorite way.

I love this type of challenge. It fires up my creativity and allows me to play. I look forward to focusing on hygge this week, and creating more intimacy, more coziness and more connectedness in my home and life.

7 Day Hygge Challenge

Spring Hygge Ideas

Although spring is still officially a couple of weeks away, it arrived for me yesterday. Already feeling the desire to do a spring cleaning and decluttering, I completely stripped my bed down, laundering everything. As I remade my bed last night, I deliberately left off the woven cotton blanket. That’s all it took to flip my spring switch.

I love this time of year, as the earth and my spirit both experience a reawakening. My creativity shifts into a higher mode as well. I recently shared a post about the hygge lifestyle that I’ve embraced. Hygge, pronounced hue • gah, is a Scandinavian custom that creates well being, connection and warmth. You can read that post HERE. When I think of hygge I think of candlelight and cozy blankets and a crackling fire. But hygge can be practiced and celebrated throughout the year.

I’ll be sharing ways to create a hygge lifestyle during every season. Today’s post celebrates the impending arrival of spring, with 15 ways to keep the cozy going.

Spring Hygge Ideas

1. Bring the outdoors in – Spring announces the earth’s awakening and the return of green plants and colorful flowers. Purchase bouquets of fresh flowers and display them in a white pitcher or your favorite container. Start flower and vegetables seeds indoors, for transferring to the garden, and plant tulip or daffodil bulbs in pots for a splash of spring colors indoors. Try tucking a blooming pansy into a tea cup filled with potting soil.

Spring Hygge Ideas

2. Brighten home décor – It’s time to pack away the darker colors. Freshen the house with lighter colored pillows and rugs, declutter spaces that have accumulated stuff all winter, and take down heavy draperies. Hang white or sheer curtains over the windows. Let the sunshine light in and on mild days, throw open the windows. The breezes that stir through the house cleanse away stale energy and lifts our spirits.

3. Switch out bedding & pjs – While changing home décor, switch out heavier bedding for lightweight cotton sheets, coverlets and quilts. Pile on the pillows. Swap flannel pjs for comfy cotton as well. Hygge is all about cozy layers. Trade heavy throws and blankets for piles of lightweight wraps, shawls and quilts for those evenings when the air is cool and you want to curl up with a good book.

4. Eat outdoors – Spring invites us to venture outside. Enjoy al fresco dining on a patio or porch. Use lots of linens and candles, and serve a healthy meal on your best plates.

Spring Hygge Ideas

5. Read a book outside – Stretch out on a reclining lawn chair or a colorful quilt on the ground and lose yourself in a book. Try a new author or select a book on a topic you’ve always been curious about.

6. Bake something – Hygge encourages nurturing ourselves with good food. Try out a new recipe. Bake from scratch. Create your own recipe. I’m excited to try recipes from my new Thrive magazine.

7. Go for a walk outdoors – Explore new walking trails, look for signs of spring, breathe in the cool air, go for a bike ride.

Spring Hygge Ideas

8. Create a fairy garden – Use a new or vintage container and create a miniature garden, complete with tiny accessories. Home garden stores and craft stores sell items for fairy gardens. And many plant shops offer classes on how to create your own small garden. I will be creating my first fairy garden in a vintage wheelbarrow this spring.

9. Play in the rain – With spring comes refreshing showers to help the earth awaken and growing plants to thrive. Grab an umbrella and enjoy the rain. Splash in puddles, tip your face to the sky, and if it is warm enough, forget the umbrella and experience dancing in the rain.

10. Continue using candles and essential oils – Candlelight isn’t just for the winter months. Use tea lights and white candles everywhere…indoors and on porches, patios and in the garden. Switch to lightly fragranced essential oils, such as lemon and lavender in the diffuser. Hang tiny white twinkling lights outdoors.

Spring Hygge Ideas

11. Do good deeds – Hygge promotes relationships and community and helping others. Volunteer. Practice acts of kindness. Remember to nurture yourself too.

12. Have a picnic at the park – This is another excellent way to enjoy being outside again after the cold short days of winter. Invite friends, throw down a big tablecloth and have everyone contribute to a smorgasbord type picnic. Or enjoy a solo picnic with your favorite foods. This is one of my Artist Date ideas that I look forward to carrying out.

13. Find a new favorite beverage – Winter hygge encourages hot drinks such as coffee, teas and cocoa. For spring try lighter drinks such as herbal teas, freshly pressed juices, flavored waters, and iced coffee. Brew mint tea, let it cool and serve over ice.

Spring Hygge Ideas

14. Keep fresh fruits & veggies on hand – A wide assortment of fruits and vegetables are coming into season. Keep a fruit bowl full of your favorites and try something new. Keep a veggie box or crate full as well. Try meatless dinners, using produce that is in season.

15. Celebrate – Find reasons to rejoice as everything around us stirs. Have brunch with friends, take a family member to dinner, welcome spring with a tea party for one…yourself. Whatever makes your heart sing, go and do that, in a celebratory way.

I hope some of these ideas got your creativity going. Spring is a time of rebirth, of new beginnings, and a promise that life continues. I will be embracing hygge and spring with a Seven Day Hygge Challenge, beginning Monday. Follow the posts and play along, or create your own cozy, comforting traditions. You can’t do hygge wrong if your celebrations create a sense of joy and warmth. May we open our hearts and our homes, and welcome spring.

Spring Hygge Ideas

Living the Hygge Lifestyle

I have my friend Marijo to thank, for bringing this Scandinavian custom to my attention again. I first heard of hygge a year ago. Greg showed me a book called The Little Book of Hygge. He told me, “This is what you do.”

I glanced at the book and thought it was interesting, but I didn’t pursue the topic. This past week Marijo tagged me on Facebook, bringing hygge back into my awareness. “This made me think of you” she wrote. I read the article she had tagged me on. And suddenly, it all connected. I understood myself better, which is always a good thing.

Hygge, pronounce hue • gah, is a Danish word without an exact English equivalent. It is way of life for the peoples of the Scandinavian region. It translates most closely to “creating an atmosphere of warm and coziness”. Hygge promotes peace and happiness, simplicity and togetherness, warmth and home, wholesome food and hot drinks.

Elements of living a hygge lifestyle include:

Surrounding yourself with family and friends and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. It’s gathering with those we love and celebrating life with good food and fun games and lively conversations. It’s backyard picnics and snuggling under thick blankets in front of a fire on a chilly evening, reading aloud or watching a movie. Togetherness is key to a hygge lifestyle.

Living in the present moment and practicing gentle self care. Hygge means relaxing in a hammock, spending an extra hour in bed, walking in the garden, learning a new hobby or soaking in the tub. It’s about journaling, being creative, having a pet to care for, and creating space to think and dream. Because it promotes healthy living as well, it includes cooking nourishing food and pausing during the day for a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate.

Creating a warm, welcoming environment at home. Hygge encourages warming up the home with textured quilts and cozy blankets, a crackling fire in fireplaces or fire pits, soft candlelight, lamps instead of overhead fixtures, piles of good books to read near a favorite comfy chair. Hygge is all about using simple natural furniture and decor, creating a soothing peaceful space. Piling pillows on beds and sofas, using rugs on the floor, letting natural light in, creating intimate spaces, bringing in plants and flowers, lighting scented candles and using calming neutral colors all contribute to a harmonious space.

I realized, as I have further researched what hygge is, that I have done these things all my life. I am naturally drawn to hygge, from my desire to create beautiful, intimate spaces to my backyard paradise to the bohemian style clothes I love to wear to the many candles throughout my home. My inclination to create vignettes is hygge. The way I nurture myself and decorate my home is hygge, as is my love of hot drinks and piles of pillows and linens, and my preference for lamps instead of overhead lighting.

I suddenly understood it all, in light of my recent DNA test results, when I read this statement by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and author of The Little Book of Hygge. “Hygge is a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of our national DNA.”

DNA. DNA! My results show that I am 6% Scandinavian, a region that includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Hygge is in my DNA! How amazing to realize that. It brought years to my eyes and deep understanding to my heart.

So excuse me. The sun is setting. I will brew a cup of hot tea, turn on a few lamps, light candles, and add a few drops of Young Living lavender oil to my diffuser. My favorite blanket is draped over my chair and there are a couple of books nearby.

I am hygging. My Scandinavian is showing.