Have you heard of hygge? I hadn't until last year, and pronunciation varies, dependent on the scandi tongue; I find the easiest to say is 'hue-gah'.
Maybe, like me, (a massive fan of Autumn and Winter) you've probably practised this unique aspect of Danish mindfulness and well-being, without ever knowing. Think candles, cosiness and quality time, as the Danes (and the rest of the northern hemisphere) prepare for colder weather and shorter days.
As children, my Sister and I used to love the darker days on the approach to Winter (er, Christmas). We loved winter-proofing our house: we'd push comical sausage-dog draft excluders to the bottom of the doors, take pleasure in drawing the curtains closed in every room, switch on lamps, bring out blankets and cushions to curl up under on the sofa, to watch our favourite films. Mini Stylist loves closing the curtains in each room, too. From tomorrow we'll have Film Friday on the run through the next couple of seasons - post-school sofa crash with popcorn and a movie; hygge heaven.
As an adult I was lucky enough to live in southern China for a couple of years, but it was too close to the equator, and when the sun went down in about five minutes, every single day of every year ... well, by November I found myself longing for shorter days and the obvious seasonal changes (oh, the giddyness of collecting spinning jennies and conkers on the school walk with Mini Stylist!) . . .
So, how do I hygge October (and right on through to Easter)?
1. Appreciate knitwear. To wear, to cosy under, to wrap around your feet. If I could hibernate, my cave would be made of wool. And house a lot of cushions.
2. Dim the lights. Candles or low-lighting, whichever releases your inner twirl. I decorate my home with Yankee Candles, but use soft-lighting as soon as the curtains close.
3. Skin rejuvenation. Deep moisturising, deep conditioning, deep sleeping. All my skincare minis are stored in this gorgeous wooden box near my bed; handy, eh? No, hygge.
4. Wooden boxes. And baskets, but especially boxes. I've no idea why, but I appreciate a good quality small box to store anything in, but usually stationery, mini beauty goodies and craft supplies.
5. Crafting. I love crafting, but really indulge at this time of year. Amateur at all levels, but fabulously enthusiastic for the simple pleasures I find in fabric, felt, craft magazines, wooden stamps, and oodles of wool. Great chance to catch up with friends over coffee (or pots of tea) and share crafting tips/obsessions in the pre-school run hours.
6. Work from home. I'm fortunate that I work from home once or twice a week, so I surround myself with more hygge-inducing goodness that I could if I was in, say, an office or classroom. As my work station is normally my bed, this means cushions, blankets, and lots of coffee.
7. The right mug. Some mugs are better suited for coffee, others for tea. Only occasionally will a mug will work for either (thanks, Emma Bridgewater). Mug-selection is more important than
8. A weekly daytime nap. Okay, I know more people do this than they will acknowledge, so I'm just going to say it. I'm a busy working Mum and I'd like a weekly, if not daily, daytime nap. I'd rather close my eyes in a room of quiet than listen to more bad news on the radio, or another mind-numbing TV show. So, once a month or so, I draw the curtains, curl under a blanket and lie down on my 'desk'- the bed - for a quick 40 winks.
9. Fountain pens. I love a good quill; the slight scratch and easy flow across a clean notebook page is harmony to my senses. Maybe they remind me of school, and the safety of childhood. The budget ones are better than higher-end brands; far less ink to erase from your fingers. And we can now buy pink ink!
10. Walking my daughter to school. Crunching leaves, guessing the age of tree trunks, spotting pine cones and spikey conkers and naming trees, as the seasons merge from late summer to Christmas, the smell of winter on her way. And all the crafting the season brings!
What's not to love?
What hygge steps will you take today?