Well today is April 1st and the Winter Storm Warning just expired for our neck of the woods. However, a look outside shows the “wintry mix” continuing unrelented. Despite the fact that it has officially been spring for a few weeks, Southwest Colorado is apparently still making up its mind between the seasons. Such is life down here where the last 3 Memorial Days have been snowstorms. I like to think of the positives to all the moisture: that our well will not run dry, that we will not experience horrible wildfires and that one day soon we will have a week of solid sun to rejoice in.
This year the new buzz word around design and house circles has been hygge (hoo-gah), a concept very loosely translated from Danish to mean “coziness in life”. There are dozens of books and blogs espousing how living a life full of hygge can bring greater happiness not only through a long winter but throughout the year. And the Danes should know, they are consistently ranked one of the happiest countries every year. So in the spirit of embracing hygge, here are some of the ways I’ve adopted the concept for my own home.
One : Quilts
This means both the creation of and use of quilts. Winter is the perfect time to spend a lot of time on the sewing machine. I get the majority of my quilting done during the cold months because when the days are long and the weather temperate, I am outside enjoying nature. Winter is the perfect time to wrap up in the all of the quilts. Quilts adorn our couch downstairs and make a huge difference in warmth on top of our duvet cover in bed. We do our best to keep our energy costs low, and quilts can warm you up fast and free. In short, quilts make winter tolerable.
Books, like quilts, are a year round activity. But in the winter, there are days when you’ve finished a round of shoveling and you get to just be for a few hours with a good book under a quilt. Winter is a great time to read those big books, the ones that are 500 pages plus because you are home so much and you don’t have to cart them around. You can lose yourself in a book without that feeling of indoor guilt, the feeling that the weather is so nice you should be doing something else.
Three: Warm cute socks
When it is cold out warming up your feet is a great way to feel cozy all over. Winter is when I break out the hand knit socks lovingly crafted by my boyfriend’s talented grandmother. Warm socks and slippers are the simplest way to feel toasty on a cold day.
Four: Big warm drinks
Last fall I got a newish espresso machine from the thrift store for $5. In the warmer months, I don’t want a big drink in the morning but come winter, especially on weekend mornings, I like to sit with my big drink and just savor it. Typically my weekday mornings do not allow for this luxury as I leave the house at 6:30, but the weekends are for indulging in a big drink. Also, hot chocolate with a shot of brandy is the most amazing thing after a long session of shoveling. Especially once you put on warm dry socks and sit under a quilt. (There is obviously a lot of overlap here.)
Animals can hibernate, why can’t people? With the dark days, there is no guilt in getting in some extra sleep. Winter is a time of respite and rest for the natural world and it should be for us too. Some nights, the 8 pm bedtime is simply the best.
Six: Cooking with and without a crock pot
Winter too is the time where we bake more bread, cook those labor intensive meals and eat heartily. Cooking encompasses a good part of our household entertainment in the winter. Also, we recently procured our first crock pot (also at the thrift store and also for $5) and that thing is a total miracle. It is so wonderful to put stuff in and come home hours later to a meal already made and a delicious smelling home. We have made some incredible meals in the crock pot: pot roast, pulled pork, various chilis, posole, Tikka Masala, chicken burrito bowls and whole turkeys. I like to prep all of my food the night before so that in the morning, I can simply dump in all of the chopped ingredients and head out the door with minimal effort. The crock pot has certainly made our winter much more tasty.
Seven: Fake candles
I remember when battery operated candles came out and they looked so fake. Well a mere few years later and thanks to the advancement of LED bulbs, I am officially a fan of fake candles. I managed to get all of ours at the thrift store and they give off a pleasant light. I have a set in our bedroom and on super stressful days post work, I like to lay on the bed with the candles aglow and my Himalayan salt lamp lit and do some deep breathing/meditation. I call this my drama detox and it works. The faux candles make the house feel cozy without a ton of effort. Also, they are safe.
Eight: Showers at night with lavender
We get a very early start in the morning and many mornings, our routine also involves shoveling. I began taking my showers at night and it totally changed my mornings. Suddenly I was not having wet hair and feeling further behind in time. Also, showering at night feels like a good way to end the day, to rinse away the past. I like to sprinkle a few drop of lavender oil on the bottom of the tub to help relax me even more.
So these are the primary ways I’ve incorporated hygge into our home to make the winter more enjoyable. The true concept of hygge can be translated to be year round and I am certainly looking forward to embracing it with backyard bbqs and long weekends curled up in the tent. It is very easy to embrace the seasons and make all four cozy and happy.