Lessons on living well, inspired by the Danish concept of hygge.

Chances are you’ve heard of hygge (pronounced hue-gah) – the Danish art of living well. Woven into the fabric of daily life in Denmark, hygge is a way of being that gives you a feeling of comfort and connection. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve certainly experienced it. Sitting on the sofa, snuggled in layers of blankets reading your favorite book. Picking up a conversation with a dear friend you haven’t seen for months and chatting like no time has passed. The flickering glow of a candle in your dining room. A bowl of deliciously sweet strawberries. Sitting in the kitchen, the benches covered in flour, eating leftover cookie dough with your children. Savoring the delicious aroma of a spicy, hot cup of chai in the evening. These are all examples of hygge. Hygge moments are unique to all of us, if something makes you pause long enough to think, “I can’t think of anywhere else I want to be right now”, that is hygge.

Essential elements of hygge

To create a feeling of hygge in your home think about what feels warm and cosy, an environment where you feel safe, comfortable and content. A well loved armchair and layered, natural textures like knitted blankets and jumpers where you’d happily spend hours curled up with a hot chocolate. A hygge home should feel comfortable, without clutter or fussiness. When choosing items for your home, choose objects that are beautifully made, from natural materials. Textures like wood, handmade ceramic, linen and wool will make your ordinary objects feel extraordinary when you use them. We have a connection to things handmade that can’t be replicated by similar items mass produced. You can’t have hygge without the right lighting, overhead fluro bulbs are a no-no, candlelight is perfect to create a cosy atmosphere as does a string of lightbulbs in the garden.

To create your own feelings of hygge at home, start by slowing down enough to be present.

To have a feeling of hygge we need to be able to be still. Having the thought that there’s so much to do will ruin the joy to be found in the present. If you’re too distracted to be in the moment, no amount of woollen throws and tea light candles will bring you a lasting feeling of contentedness. Carve space into the day to do things well, one at a time. Too many demands will cause you to feel scattered and distracted. Slow down and guard your time well. Turn off your phone at dinner and make it a rule to not check your work emails outside of work.

“It must be emphasised that hygge entails commitment to the present moment and a readiness to set distractions aside” ~ Judith Freidman Hanson

If you’re time poor and your to-do list is the first thing on your mind when you wake up, you’re probably thinking, ‘I don’t have time to slow down!’ Start small by creating one new habit to be in the moment each day. Think of one daily ritual that you can create for yourself that will slow you down. It only has to be ten minutes. Try turning your phone to airplane mode, and put it out of reach. Make a cup of tea (or coffee, or chai) and don’t do anything else while it’s brewing. Bring your awareness to the enticing smell and close your eyes when you take your first sip. Something else you could try is before reaching for your phone in the morning, read a few pages of a book you’re enjoying before you get out of bed. It prolongs that feeling of being cosy and warm under the blankets.

Invite your friends over.

While it’s perfectly lovely to hygge alone, when it’s raining and cold outside it’s tempting to retreat indoors and sit on the couch bingeing on netflix with a bowl of popcorn, a key element of the concept of hygge is to be in the company of others. To delight in gathering around the table to share hot soup and break fresh bread together. It can be as simple as a plate of fruit and cheese and an afternoon of playing cards. It doesn’t have to be complicated and take hours to prepare and set up for. Hygge is about appreciating simple, honest moments and not letting the beauty of our ordinary days pass us by. 

Our winter workshops are inspired by the Hygge philosophy. We’ll be enjoying a cosy day of playing with clay at the Winterwares studio in Fremantle. You’ll create a few hand-crafted ceramics that will bring a feeling of warmth and comfort to your home, including a handmade mug. To find out more and book your place visit our workshops page.

The making of your Winterwares candle

 

Each candle in the Winterwares range has it’s own beautiful fragrance that we’ve created to remind you of cherished moments. Woodland Trail reminds us of a walk through the forest taking in the scent of cedar with each step taken. Morning Embrace evokes that moment when you’re waking, the gentle dawn light fills your room and you’re aware of cosy sheets and pillows. Our latest candle is inspired by languid summer nights, with the scent of white flowers filling the warm air.

We hope you enjoy watching the making of Summer Evening.

summer evening candle

 

Semolina Pudding with Rhubarb and Blood Orange Compote

Semolina Pudding with Rhubarb & Blood Orange Compote with Katrine from My Capsule Kitchen

Katrine from My Capsule Kitchen

Katrine started her online journal My Capsule Kitchen as a reaction to the onslaught of confusing messages about how to be healthy. She craved a simpler, more joyful approach to food – an alternative to guilt inducing approaches to eating that have strict rules and restrictions. Her philosophy is to be healthy and happy and to enjoy eating. Sometimes that means muesli and green juice, sometimes it involves cake and wine.


Could you tell us some background on who you are, and how you got to be doing what you’re doing?

Food has always played a huge part in my life. I love the memories it creates and how it connects you to who you are, where you come from and what you value. But what was once simple has become complicated.

We live in a world with information overload and are often made to feel guilty about the food we eat. The list of what you should add to or cut out of your diet is long. There is no shortage of recipes or advice but often it contradicts itself and not all of it applies to you. It left me confused and frustrated. I grew increasingly tired of trying to stick to other people’s rules of what my healthy diet should look like.

My approach to home cooking leans on the concept of a capsule wardrobe, which is all about owning less, making you feel good about yourself and finding your own style. I believe that finding balance and moderation is personal and needs more than a cookie cutter ‘one size fits all’ solution.

That’s why My Capsule Kitchen is about letting go of things that don’t serve you, creating a space you love cooking in, and recipe collections that are seasonal, balanced, achievable and most importantly uniquely yours. Green smoothies can happily co-exist with chocolate cake! It’s about shopping, cooking and feeding yourself and your family more intentionally, with less stress and more joy.

What does mindful eating mean to you?

Mindful eating means to me a guilt-free and joyful approach to food. Sometimes your circumstances don’t allow you to approach food or home cooking in a way that you know is ‘better’, but nourishment comes in many different forms. Home cooked meals with local and seasonal ingredients are nourishing and so is take away pizza at the end of a long and tiring day when it brings the family together.

Mindful eating for me is to allow yourself to tune into what is good for you, and achievable, right at this minute. And then enjoy that thoroughly without judgement.

Would you share with us one of your favorite simple recipes?

I love rhubarb because it reminds me of the simple and slow days of summer at my aunty’s house who has a hobby farm and garden. Very idyllic. She always came out of the garden with large stalks of rhubarb, ready to make compote.

Semolina

Per person I use 1 cup milk (hereI used oat milk) and 2 tbs semolina.
Simply combine in a non-stick saucepan and stir as it heats up and thickens. Take it off the heat when it’s still easy to stir, it will thicken further as it cools.

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Compote

5 stalks rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into 1 cm pieces
2 small blood oranges, juice only
3 tbs caster sugar

Combine in a saucepan and let simmer for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally.

I made this in advance and have it in a jar in the fridge. It’s nice to potter in the kitchen but it’s also nice not having to stress about all the different elements. Cooking only the semolina in the morning makes for a slower and more mindful breakfast preparation. Then you only have to top it off with the compote and nuts and seeds of your choice.

Nuts and Seeds

Black sesame seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Macadamias, chopped

Best eaten warm!

Katrine uses our Everyday Deep Bowl for her recipe.

Everyday bowl in white

 

Solitude: The importance of alone time for fuelling creativity

Not to be confused with loneliness, solitude is a constructive solitary state that scientists say is absolutely essential to creativity. Apps and podcasts rob us from otherwise natural moments of solitude and the creative breakthroughs that happen in extended periods of silence.

In his book Imagine, Johan Lehrer shares his research on the link between downtime and problem solving, saying, “While it’s commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost: it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs.”

At Winterwares, we’ve found that setting aside time to be alone in the studio and let the mind run idle is so important to allow creative ideas rise to the surface. Solitude also adds to a sense of overall wellbeing, because — like the body — the mind needs to rest.

So what are some other benefits we can gain from solitude?

Aside from helping us to be more creative, solitude is gives our brain all-important downtime it needs to process all the information we come into contact with throughout our day.

In the Scientific American, Ferris Jabr writes that downtime is not purposeless, it is essential to mental processes that “affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behaviour and instil an internal code of ethics.”

“We replay conversations we had earlier that day, rewrite our verbal blunders as a way of learning to avoid them in the future.” says Jabr, “We mull over the aspects of our lives with which we are most dissatisfied, searching for solutions. We sink into scenes from childhood and catapult ourselves into different hypothetical futures.”

So how do we find solitude? Here are three simple ways to find more solitude in your day or week;

Disconnect

The first step to finding solitude is to cut off all means of connection with the outer world. An easy before phones and iPads existed.  Now, we must allocate times throughout our day to disconnect is. Moments where you’d otherwise be in solitude if your phone wasn’t around are best. For example, at home, before bed, or first thing in the morning. As much as we love podcasts and audiobooks, going for a walk without an iPhone is the perfect tim to let the mind wander free.

 

 

Winterwares the importance of solitude

 

Get some vitamin ‘N’

Vitamin ‘N’ is finding time to be in nature. It’s vital for our mental health and a great place to find solitude.

Other ideas include;

  • Enjoy a cup of tea alone outside in the morning before the house wakes up
  • Meditate outside — you can keep your eyes open or closed
  • Walking meditation
  • People-watching in the park
  • Watching a sunset or a sunrise at least once a week
  • Keep a notebook nearby

In her TED Talk Your Elusive Creative Genius, Elizabeth Gilbert shares an anecdote about Tom Waits who’s ideas would come to him at the most ‘inconvenient times.’ Not coincidentally, these were moments of solitude; while driving a car, in his case. Famously Waits says, ‘can you not see that I’m driving? If you’re serious about wanting to exist then I spend eight hours a day in the studio. You’re welcome to come and visit me when I’m sitting at my piano. Otherwise, leave me alone and go bother Leonard Cohen.’ If only Tom Waits knew the connection between solitude and creativity, he’d bring a notebook with him.

While your mind is in idle downtime, you will likely have creative breakthroughs, or questions come to mind, but resist the urge to Google them! How often have you innocently opened your phone to check one thing, only to spend 15 plus minutes opening apps, scrolling Instagram or the news? This is why keeping an unplugged paper notebook nearby can be handy to jot down notes and ideas to follow up on later.

A few other bonus ideas;

  • Tag team an hour of alone time with your spouse if you have kids
  • Have a bath, but don’t bring any devices, books, or notepads with you
  • Read a book
  • Learn to draw or play an instrument or any other solo hobby you can think of
  • Turn music off — as much as we love music, it’s great to give your mind a break

Five ideas to practice gratitude every day

Feeling fulfilled comes first with gratitude. Having everything would feel like sweet nothing without it. Winterwares is a place that we try to practice gratitude every day and it fills the space and the people in it with more calm, peace and joy. From deepening relationships, our sense of self and even our sleep — practicing gratitude also has endless benefits backed by science.

Studies have discovered the gratification we receive from soothing behaviours, like eating sugary foods, are less sustaining than practicing gratitude. “Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it’s not based on that immediate gratification; it’s a frame of mind,” says Emma Emma Seppälä, Happiness researcher at Stanford and Yale and author of The Happiness Track. Other studies have shown that gratitude leads to a significant improvement in happiness in people suffering from depression.

“If there were a drug that did that, whoever patented that drug would be rich. Gratitude is very powerful.”— cognitive scientist, Susan Peirce Thompson

Here are five simple and actionable ideas, to experience the benefits of gratitude first-hand;

Keep a gratitude journal

There’s nothing more uplifting when you’re feeling down then flicking back through the pages of a gratitude journal. One study at the University of Minnesota discovered that the stress levels of their participants greatly reduced after writing down all the good things that happened during the day before bed. Keep a journal by your bedside and simply write three things you’re grateful for morning and night.

Thank one person every day

Whether it’s the guy who served your morning coffee, or your friend for simply being your friend. This practice is even more potent when we make an effort to really feel our sentiment as we say it. Making a habit of thanking the people around us is said to develop more new friendships, enhance existing relationships and our feelings towards the people in our lives. The more we practice, the easier it is to feel gratitude well up inside each time we say thank you, instead of simply saying the words.

Give thanks before each meal

If we contemplate long enough on how the food we eat grows, along with all the processes that bought it from farm to plate, it leaves a lot to be grateful for. From the flavours and healing properties of the food we eat, to the people that worked hard to make sure we can easily access anything we need from the grocery store. Taking a moment to be grateful for these things before each meal is an effective reminder to make sure we continually practice gratitude throughout the day.

Winterwares handmade Breakfast Bowl
Oat and chia porridge with berry chia jam, coconut yoghurt & strawberries with a little maple syrup, made by Jess Ettridge of @mindful_moose served in our speckled eggshell everyday bowl.

Write down your moments of joy throughout the day

Maintaining a grateful attitude is habitual, so it can be easy to forget in the early stages of forming the habit. During days or weeks when the world seems grey, it can feel harder to recall all the good things. Keeping a journal to record these moments can help us remember the blissful times, particularly on those days where we need a bit of help. Intentionally being grateful also has a compound affect, leading to more positive experiences and more things to feel grateful for.

Wear a reminder

They say it takes 30 days for a new neural pathway to form in our minds and fire long enough that it becomes second nature. During that time, it takes special effort to solidify. Wearing a symbolic piece of jewellery, or doing something novel like painting one fingernail blue can act as a reminder while we’re in the process of making the habit.