Day 7: Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

The last day of the 7 Day Fall Hygge Challenge brought me full circle, activity wise. This morning I drew this slip of paper:

Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

The challenge began last week with creating my first fall vignette, and ended late this evening with a reset on the covered porch. I was grateful for the illumination from the porch light!

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Summer to Fall on the Porch

I cleared away summer décor with the realization that 2018 was quickly “clearing out” as well. The slightly cooler weather this week is welcomed however and brings with it the promise of leaves changing colors, mild temps and crisp evenings.

The summer palette of blues, greens, yellows and pinks disappeared, making room for the earthy hues of autumn.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch Clean slate.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch Summer begonias are still doing well. Annie’s red box stays the same.

I love the fall colors of red, rust, orange and yellow with hints of green and black. A multicolored rug across the bright yellow entry table sets the tone for ceramic pumpkins, bird cages, scented candles and the perfect word for the season…thanks. The flower wreath above the table echoes the colors of the cotton rug.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Cozy Front Porch

Beneath the table I grouped together a vintage metal gas can and a small bucket filled with berry sprigs at one end. On the other side a green plant remains, partnered with a spice scented jar candle.

Because of my late start on the porch, my reset ended with the entry table. Tomorrow I’ll finish this task by converting the rest of the space. Tonight however, I lit candles and basked for a moment in the cozy glow of flickering flames.

I typically begin my fall decorating with the front porch and then move indoors. The Fall Hygge Challenge reversed that process. I began with a vignette in the dining room, the center of my house, and moved outward.

How very hygge-like, to begin with the interior, the heart, and move outward to the exterior. Coziness is more than a comfortable feeling. It is an expression, a way of life, that does indeed radiate outward from the world I envision to the world I create.

I’m grateful for the Fall Hygge Challenge that helped me to welcome a new season, in my home, on my front porch, and in my life.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Day 6: No Electronics Evening

I’m racing the clock as I create this post this afternoon ahead of the Day 6 hygge activity. After a full week, I drew this much needed action:

No electronics for the evening.

I define evening as 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and by saying “no” to electronics, I’m saying “no” to my cell phone, iPod, TV, and computer.

That makes this evening’s post interesting to write, as I am sharing what my intentions are, and the activity I will carry out, rather than capturing my actions after the fact, through words and photos.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

Putting the Electronics Away

It is amazing, in today’s culture, how dependent we are on electronics. My cell phone is never far from me. And it is so much more than a phone. It is a mini computer that I use to take photos, play music, movies and games, save recipes, keep important notes and info, correspond with family, friends and clients, look up property and perform other real estate tasks, stay in touch through social media, check the weather and shop online. And what would I do without Google and the ability to quickly look up info?

I’ve already laughed at myself as I contemplated an evening without electronics and considered working on my family tree (nope that’s online), listening to a podcast (on my phone, so no), trying out a recipe…which was on my phone (can’t)…and watching a movie (leave the TV off). I did write out the recipe by hand, gasp, so I can putter in the kitchen, but I’ll postpone the other activities.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

What to Do Apart from Using Electronics

So how do I intend to spend my time this evening? I have delightful and cozy hygge options.

• Cook or bake a treat, without listening to music or scrolling through online recipes.

• Get into cozy clothes and really unwind after this very busy week: walk in the garden, meditate, stretch.

• Brew a cup of hot tea and savor the flavor as I inhale the scent and cradle the cup.

• Light candles in my bedroom and burn dried herbs to clear energy in my room and fill it with a delicate, earthy scent.

• Write in my journal.

• And…read. I picked out a book, Children of Earth and Sky, by an author that is new to me.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening Hot hibiscus tea

Electronics Free

As I am finishing this post, a couple of hours earlier than I typically do, the evening stretches before me, full of promise. I’m going to turn off the TV and power down other electronics and then tuck my phone away, out of sight.

I know that I’ll instinctively reach for a phone that isn’t there. But that’s okay. This break from electronics allows me to experience the simple pleasures of good, healthy food, a hot beverage and intentional activities, free from distractions.

Electronics aren’t bad. I’m grateful for technology that allows me to easily access information and take care of many details of my life. I’m equally grateful that I control how these gadgets impact my life.

And now…I have an intriguing book waiting for me!

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

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 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