The Hygge Feeling

hyggesweetsandcoffeeWe humans use millions of words to name, explain and define all elements of life. As much as we like the ideas of awe, wonder and mystery, we don’t really give them much space to just “be.” It never takes long before we nail down a definition and explain away any ambiguity and uncertainty. We don’t actually like those things.

In a culture where knowledge is power, we are not content with mystery.  We want to know how and why. We want to know the weaknesses and limitations – and if there are none, well that’s just not acceptable. As I have taken an interest in hygge, and taken notes from the Danes who are arguably the happiest people on Earth, I find myself wanting to make hygge into something I can execute in my own life. As if there is some equation I’m trying to solve for “x” and find what element will fill the gap for all of my happiness problems. I want it to be quantitative.

It turns out, all of the candles, blankets, pastries, hot drinks and cool people in the whole wide world do not equate to happiness. These things, as a part of hygge, are simply about creating the space. Within that space, the warmth, comfort and close friendships help to create a feeling of belonging deep within our bones. If we don’t make an effort to pause and notice the feeling in that very moment, we’re missing it.

This genuine feeling cannot be perfectly defined and it has no limitations, no weaknesses. Because when it is present, it is infinite within the moment in which it exists – it knows no boundaries yet fits perfectly into that particular space in time. It is not something that we can make, only something we can make room for. It is our connectedness to each other, to the world and to the Divine. It is our sense of belonging. When we perceive that it ends, it is not due the limitations of the phenomenon, it is the limitation of our humanness. I would argue that it is still there and available at all times, its just a matter if we’ve made space for it and also decided to be present in that space.

I recently joined the rest of the entire world’s obsession with Brene Brown. Currently, I’m in that super healthy binge phase, cramming every Ted Talk, interview, article and every book she’s ever written, ever, in to my brain as quickly as possible. I get it now. Her new book Braving the Wilderness has completely rocked my world.

Early in the book, Brene quotes Maya Angelou:

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” 

I have read this quote approximately 3,056 times, trying to wrap my brain around what it means and how I can measure it and apply it (because that’s what us humans do). It sounds super wisdom-y and I need it in my life. We all crave a sense of belonging – of connectedness. The problem is, we often build our foundation for belonging first on connectedness with people or groups of people (i.e. the church, professional groups, the acceptance of a mentor, friend groups, mom’s clubs, sports teams, political affiliations). If there is one thing we know about people, it is that we are ever evolving, complicated and flawed. Every. Single. One of us. Even when our basis of belonging is built on people we perceive as true and genuinely good, it will eventually crumble. Life happens, we disappoint, we change, we ask questions and God-willing, we grow. When these things happen among groups of people that have based their core sense of belonging on each other first, it shakes and sometimes even crumbles the very foundation they stand on.

So, where does that leave us? I believe this is totally relevant to hygge and what the Danes have such a hard time explaining. The elements that are essential to hygge (fire, light, comfort food, warm drinks, good books, close friends), help create the safe space for vulnerability and set the stage for a different kind of belonging.

It starts with belonging to ourselves first, finding our feet planted firmly on the ground in what we know in our own hearts to be true and right, acknowledging our strengths, our imperfections and our places of deep shame. Then, finding the courage to live wholly from that place, knowing that we will absolutely not please everyone, and that’s ok (this is what Brene refers to as living in the “wilderness,” and it is super, super hard). Hygge gives us a safe, sacred space, where the price we pay for living in the wilderness is worth it. With this space comes a true sense of connectedness both to ourselves and to the few close friends who will not only meet us in the wilderness, but will brave it with us. It is where we belong, and it is where we are free. It is the space that is filled with both the solitude we need to remain grounded, as well as the people that not only accept our places of vulnerability and shame, but embrace us and actually love us more because of them.

In my opinion, there is no word to define this sense of simultaneous grounded belonging, solitude and connectedness. Hygge is the space we can create within the wilderness, but the actual feeling and experience that a can happen when we are present there is a thing of awe – of mystery and wonder – and a truly amazing gift. It just, is…and that’s enough for me.

So friends, I encourage you as you read through other blog posts on this site, don’t just use the advice to create the space…actually take time to BE in the space you create. Be it alone, with friends or with the family dog. Amazing things happen there.

 

 

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How To Feel Pretty In Sweatpants

howtofeelprettyinsweatpantsNo-bra Saturday. The absolute freaking best. About once a month, we have a Saturday with no plans. It’s a relax around the house in our comfies, no make-up, catch up on laundry and bake something kind of day. But, you know what makes it even better? Feeling pretty. Whether you’ve got a hubby and a house full of kids, or its just you and the dog, everyone woman feels better when they feel pretty. So cheers to your day off and no one judging you for your mimosa and pancakes with a little extra butter. Go be fab and feel fab with these go-to staples for feeling pretty in sweatpants:

  • Wash and moisturize your face, first thing. Keeping your skin clean and moisturized will give you a clear glow even with no make up on.
  • Paint your nails. Whether you pay someone to do them for you, or paint them yourself, having color on your nails feels feminine and finished. In the the winter, its easy to forget about and neglect your feet. Don’t! Give them moisture and keep a little polish on. Your psyche will thank you.
  • Dry shampoo. My very best friend, because we all know a shower is not happening on no-bra Saturday. Spray a shameless amount on your roots and let it sit while you’re washing your face. Rustle through with your fingers, give that mane a brush and tah-dah…all “clean.”
  • Comfy does not mean frumpy. Ok, hear me out. No none feels pretty when they feel sloppy. Get rid of your patterned fleece pants from Old Navy 2006 (your significant other will thank you), and pick comfortable clothes you feel good in. Honor your style, even on your off days. For me, its usually leggings and an oversize sweater or t-shirt with my favorite cardigan.
  • Throw in some earrings. I’m talking your most basic, stud earrings that you don’t even feel when they’re in. Again, feminine and finished. It takes less than 10 seconds.
  • Put on some lotion. Soft skin that smells good makes any day more enjoyable. Find a scent you love that sticks with you for a while.
  • Tiny bit of mascara and lip gloss. This is what helps me avoid the “Yeesh,” when I pass by the mirror on no-bra Saturday. Nothing crazy, just a little mascara on the top lashes and a quick bit of your favorite lip gloss.
  • Self Care. This is the single most important thing on this list. Your wrinkles are charming, your stretch marks are a blessing and you are enough. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. Know your body and appreciate the beautiful things it is capable of. Eat healthy food, take a hot bath with your favorite book and appreciate your own unique beauty. And for Christ’s sake, cut yourself some slack!

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The BEST Gluten-free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

The Best Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

It has taken about ten years of being gluten-free (due to Celiac Disease), along with countless trial and error recipes to become confident in baking for others, especially those who are not gluten free. I credit most of my confidence to finding Bella Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix *. I have used it in cakes, pie crusts, breads and numerous other recipes and it never lets me down. It is a cup-for-cup switch out, so you can use it with any recipe without any extra math.

My go-to dessert that is loved by all is this recipe for the Best Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes. They are rich, moist and amazing! People don’t even know they are gluten or dairy free unless I tell them. Plus, they are SO freaking easy. If you are a baker, this recipe will go against everything you think you know. No butter and no separating wet and dry ingredients. Just throw it all in the mixer and tah-dah – you’ve got the best ever batter.

The BEST Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 27 min
Total Time: 57 min
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup Bella Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix* (or your choice of gf flour)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup espresso or coffee (cooled)

Frosting:

Instructions

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  2. Measure espresso/coffee and put in fridge to cool
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in electric stand mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Add wet ingredients to bowl of dry ingredients. Mix on low speed to combine, then increase speed to high. Mix for about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for another 30 seconds. (Batter will be thin for cupcake batter – that’s a good thing)
  5. Pour batter into cupcake liners – only filling about 1/2 to 3/4 full. (This is important! This cupcakes will rise a good amount, so overfilling your cups will cause them to outgrow their liners)
  6. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes using toothpick to test for doneness. After removing from oven, allow cupcake to cook completely before decorating.

Frosting:

  1. When cupcakes are cooled, use a rubber spatula to scrape frosting into clean electric stand mixing bowl.
  2. Add coconut milk to the frosting and whip for about a minute. Scrap sides and whip for 20 more seconds.
  3. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting and decorate as you please!

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for my to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Affiliate links are included in this post.

16 Life-changing Habits You Can Start Today

hygge habits

  1. Touch it Once. This is straight from my grandmother. I asked her one time how her house is always so clean – laundry done, dishes put away, no clutter…ever. She told me, “Touch it once.” I adapted this a couple of years ago and typically only takes an extra five minutes, ten max. Put clean dishes away when they are done washing, and put dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of in the sink. Throw trash in the trash. Take dirty laundry straight to the laundry room. When clothes are clean, fold and put away (Eh hem, the ugly truth: Clean, unfolded laundry is my nemesis and I regularly flip the bird to huge piles of clothes as I ignore them and walk away). We all have our things, right?
  2. Light the good candles. Don’t wait for company or for the perfect moment. Just light your good candles and be reminded even a regular Wednesday night at home is special. I die over this Volcano Jar candle: Capri Blue CB705VOL White 19 Ounce Volcano Jar Candle*. It was given to me as a gift once and I’ve purchased it several times since. It burns in our home every. single. night.
  3. Use a pretty coffee mug. This habit sounds small but it is a simple way to bring joy to the day. If you don’t have a favorite mug, splurge on one. I have a favorite at home and at the office. Ditch the paper mug and pour your drive-through latte into something pretty. If you’re staying at the coffee shop, ask for the glass mug. Obviously, this is my favorite one to use at home because, you know, alpacas: Pretty Alpaca Mug by Pithitude – One Single 11oz. Pink Coffee Cup*
  4. Enjoy your meals – but like, actually. There’s a bonus here if you’ve grown and/or prepared the meal yourself. Put down your phone and forget productivity for a few minutes. Eat with a friend. Appreciate the flavors. If you’re eating out, choose a local business for extra “feel good” points. I repeat, put down your phone.
  5. Say no. If you ask pretty much anyone how they are, you’ll probably get a somewhat scripted response of “Good, busy.” Hey people, GOOD does not equal BUSY. This has probably been the most life-changing habit for me, personally. Say no, don’t over schedule yourself and DON’T you dare feel badly about it. Your sanity will thank you.
  6. Get up early and eat breakfast. Give your self an extra 30 min to an hour in the morning. Eat breakfast, drink a warm drink and have a little quiet time before your day starts be it meditation, reading, exercise or whatever your zen thing is. Leave the lights down except for maybe a lamp and don’t even thinking about checking your email. Life. Changing. For real.
  7. Go to bed on time. The Netflix binge…we’ve all been there. One more show, one more, one more until its after midnight and the alarm clock is set to go off in 5 hours. FML. Make yourself go to bed when you’re tired.
  8. Buy or cut fresh flowers. This is a great a way to bring nature and beauty indoors. If you’re feeling creative, buy the bouquets wrapped in paper or flowers by the stem and create your own display.
  9. Grow your own berries, herbs & veggies. Whether you have a small apartment balcony or acres to plant, you CAN grow veggies! It’s so easy. Not only are they healthier because they are fresh, but I have found we waste less and enjoy more when it is something we have tended to. Cherry tomatoes, jalepeno peppers, basil, cilantro, oregano, strawberries and micro greens are all ideas for what you can grow in just about any space.
  10. Learn to knit. Create something cozy while spending time with a friend – old or new.
  11. Pet the dog (or cat). They are a part of our lives, but we are their WHOLE lives. Take an extra minute to give them some love. Pets are scientifically proven to increase the production of endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine, aka our feel good neuro-chemicals.
  12. Leave work on time. Another game changer. And when you do leave work on time, truly leave. Set a time for yourself that you will stop checking email on your phone. It will be there tomorrow.
  13. Unplug to recharge. Put the phone and tablets on their charger…in the other room. I set a personal time of 8PM when all social media, email and web searching comes to a halt. This is the time I truly begin to recharge. The timing will be different for everyone, especially if you have kids or a busy evening routine, but setting a cutoff time really helps. Even if it is just an hour before bed.
  14. Go for a Walk. Get some fresh air, enjoy nature, spend time with the kids and pets.
  15. Make your bed when you get up. We’ve all heard it – The state of your bed is the state of your head. Who wants a messy head? Not me. No way. I’m making that shit.
  16. Take care of your gut. I am a firm believer that gut health is the foundation for overall health. Avoid antibiotics, eat organic, fresh non-processed foods as much as you can and if you’re up for a challenge, kick the cold beverages to replace with warm or room temperature drinks. Living with Celiac Disease for the past 10 years has made me acutely aware my own gut health outside of just eliminating gluten. This is the foundation for overall health and will help you fight illness, headaches, reduce allergies and even think more clearly. If you’re not pooping every day, we need to talk.

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for my to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Affiliate links are included in this post.

16 Life-Changing Habits You Can Start Right Now

 

35 Things to get Rid of Right Now

35 Things Yo Get Rid Of Right Now

New Year is here and many of us see it as a time to start fresh, improve ourselves and simplify our lives. I firmly believe that our belongings do one of two things for our mind and physical space: bring joy or create clutter. Start your year by taking a look around your space and get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy or serve a purpose. Throw it away or donate it. Don’t think. Just do it. It will feel good and you’ll never miss it! I promise. Here’s a list to get you started:

35 Things to To Get Rid of Right Now

  1. Old Cosmetics. Think makeup, lotions, nail polishes, shampoos, toothbrushes, etc.
  2. Unmatching socks or socks with holes
  3. Old underwear and bras.
  4. Dead batteries
  5. Expired Medications
  6. Tupperware with missing lids/pieces
  7. Worn bath, hand and kitchen towels – Repurpose for outside or cleaning use
  8. Clothes your family hasn’t worn in the past 12 months
  9. Kids toys they’ve outgrown or don’t play with
  10. Games and toys with missing pieces
  11. Pens and markers that don’t work
  12. Old dish sponge/scrubber
  13. Small appliances that you don’t ever use
  14. Expired condiments, fridge items, spices and pantry food
  15. Freezer burned food
  16. Decor that doesn’t bring you joy. Seriously evaluate every. single. thing.
  17. Unused electronics
  18. Old bed pillows
  19. Cardboard and boxes. I swear I don’t know how Amazon has any boxes because I’m pretty sure they’re all at my house!
  20. Empty jars and bottles
  21. Hair ties that have lost their stretch
  22. Dried/dead flowers and plants
  23. Out of date catalogs, ads and newspapers
  24. Pet toys that are destroyed or not played with
  25. Flower vases you don’t absolutely love or use
  26. CDs and DVDs
  27. Old swimsuits
  28. Broken hangers
  29. Fridge magnets
  30. Grocery bags
  31. Runned panty hose
  32. Leggings that you can see through when you stretch or bend
  33. Old paint
  34. Fireplace ashes (Throw them in your garden or compost!)
  35. Old sports equipment (ball gloves, balls, bags, etc.)

How to Hygge in Winter

How to Hygge in Winter

Winter can be tough. The nights are long, the days are gray and here in Kansas it gets pretty stupid cold. After the holidays, many of us find ourselves hunkered down trying to fight depression and bare life until spring comes. For me, during the cold months, hygge is my happy.

We have a lot to learn from the Danes. Despite the generally dreary, cold, dark weather in Denmark, the people there are consistently rated among the happiest in the world. They’ve figured out how to be truly content, and it is so ingrained in their culture it is often compared to how American’s talk about freedom.

So how do they have a hyggeligt life? Here are some hygge basics to help get you through the winter:


Light a Fire

Before you read any further, get up and go light a candle. Go on. Right now. Do it…I’ll wait…
Fire, or “living light,” is an essential part of hygge – year round but especially in the winter. Candles literally bring fire and warmth into the home, lending a sense of coziness, peace and belonging. Winter can feel desolate, but fire is exciting and alive. If your fortunate to have a fireplace, that’s even better. Do both!


Wear Socks

Especially big, warm fuzzy ones. Keeping your feet warm is good for your circulation and provides a great foundation for your day. Avoid walking around the house barefoot. If you can, splurge for a pair of good, wool socks. Its totally worth it and they’ll last you several seasons. These are some of my favs and they come in tons of color options: Pack of 5 Womens Vintage Style Cotton Knitting Wool Warm Winter Fall Crew Socks*


Use Blankets

When you’re home on the couch, pull a blanket on. It’s not just about staying warm, but it will lend a sense of grounding. I like my throws to be a little heavier than most, like my own little hug. You can even use weighted blankets, that are proven to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. For me, I just use my overweight pit bull who functions a lot like a paperweight on top of my throw. She gets me. If you don’t have a pit bull, I highly suggest this shaggy faux fur throw. Its very hyggeligt: Chanasya Super Soft Long Shaggy Chic Fuzzy Faux Fur With Fluffy Sherpa Throw Blanket*


Sip Warm Drinks

From tea to hot cocoa to your favorite latte…these are all very hygge. Mix things up and try a new flavor – savor it. Even better, enjoy your warm drink with a friend and support local business. Teas that include spices such as ginger and cinnamon are extra warming and also great for your gut health. For having tea at home, Tazo Tea is where it’s at, IMHO: Tazo Organic Spicy Ginger Tea, 20 ct*


Gather With Friends

When its dark by 5:30, it can be tough to motivate and be social. Fight the urge to recluse and make intentional time to hang with friends. Invite people over for dinner (in your super hyggeligt home) or enjoy a night out exploring together. It is no wonder depression rates spike in the winter. We are creatures of community and we need each other. Companionship is good for the soul.

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for my to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Affiliate links are included in this post.

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