Calming Your Mind and Environment: Adopting the Hygge Lifestyle

Inspiration

Like all other functioning adults, my life can sometimes be a little bit hectic, a little overwhelming and a little bit stressful. The good news is, the internet is constantly coming up with new ways for us functioning adults to deal with our stress, create zen and find our happy place!

With wedding planning and home renovations preoccupying all of my time, I’ve been finding myself (just a little bit) stressed but also, very much focused on design. This comes from thinking about decor, color and themes in both situations. What do the stress and design-focus have in common? My recent discovery of hygge.

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Hygge is a word you may have heard a time or two within the last year and is a Danish term that encapsulates the Scandinavian concept of coziness and the happiness created from life’s simple pleasures. More simply stated, it is the Danish secret for living a happy life. After watching Scandinavian cultures continually rank as having the happiest citizens in the world, Americans have taken note, and popularized hygge in our culture last year.

Still confused on what hygge is? Think coffee, cake, warm textiles, candles, nature walks and time spent with friends.

I first read about hygge in the New York Times last year, but due to recent stress levels decided to further my research. Just this week I came across this book, which provides tips and advice for living a more hygge life. I loved this charming book and speed-read it in one sitting.

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From all of my research, these have been my key takeaways:

Learn to be at peace when alone and in the company of others. Whether you are spending a restful night at home reading or participating in a family get-together, hygge is about appreciating the simple things and knowing how to be happy no matter your social situation. You’re happy to have time alone and just as happy to have time with friends and family.

scandi-image-3-400x600Keep it fresh. For a stress-free environment, do your best to eliminate clutter from your surroundings. You may not realize it, but a messy space can subconsciously influence your mood in a negative away. Another great way to improve your space is to add plants and greenery.

Spend time outside. A key part of hygge is being active, especially outside and regardless of the weather. Being outside in nature helps put your mind at ease. It’s also important to note that one should be active for the sake of being healthy and happy, and not with the goal of looking good.

Eat, drink and be merry! In the United States we tend to demonize food, especially food that which isn’t kale, quinoa, etc., etc. Adopting hygge means allowing yourself to curl up with a cup of cocoa, mix up a whisky beverage and slice into a chocolate cake.

As Andy and I get closer to completing our home renovation projects, I’m determined to adopt these lifestyle habits for a stress-free sale, move and wedding-planning extravaganza. Plus, fall seems to be the perfect time to curl up in a knit blanket with a favorite book and a cup of coffee.

 

 

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2015-2016: Top 5 Nonfiction

Inspiration, Review

Continuing on with summer reading, today’s post is all about nonfiction. While a lot of people shy away from this category, thinking it to be dull or uninteresting, I absolutely adore nonfiction.

Why? A few reasons:

  1. It’s broad. Nonfiction could mean anything from how-to books to biographies.
  2. It can teach you. Whether you are educating yourself on a particular topic or teaching yourself a new skill, I love reading for a purpose.
  3. You don’t have to read the whole book. A lot of times, a nonfiction book can serve a purpose in a matter of pages or chapters. You don’t necessarily have to read it cover to cover.

Here are the top 5 nonfiction books that I came across this year:

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  1. “The Bright Bizaar” by Will Taylor

Category: Interior Design/Home Decorating

If you have any interest at all in interior design or decorating, then you absolutely must check out this book. Will Taylor’s sense of style is quirky and unique, while also managing to make complete sense. Having worked at a public library for the past six years, I have seen a lot of home decorating books. This one is my favorite by far.

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2. “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook” by Dinah Bucholz

Category: Cooking

This cookbook is a lot of fun and has encouraged me to try cooking traditional British cuisine. Whether you are an amateur cook or an expert chef, this book provides recipes for a wide range of skill sets, supplying Harry Potter quotes as it does so! So far I have tried the cauldron cakes and Kreacher’s French Onion Soup, and both of which were delicious!

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3. “Rewire” by Ethan Zuckerman

Category: Anthropology/History/The Internet

I was actually required to read this book for my “Social Media Theory and Practice” course. Despite the fact that it was assigned, I truly enjoyed it! One of those books that will make you think differently about our world and digital landscape, I highly recommend this book to those who have an interest in the internet and the effect it has had on mankind.

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4. “The Art of Frozen” by Charles Solomon

Category: Film/Film Production

I have mentioned this book before, as I love the artwork and the behind-the-scenes look at the animated movie that broke records and won acclaimed awards. I loved reading about the research that went into designing the characters, costumes and architecture present in this Norwegian-inspired movie. If you’re an adult that loves Frozen like I do, then you will love this book.

 

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5. “The Wisdom of Walt” by Jeffrey A. Barnes

Category: Leadership/Success

I discovered this book when working on a PR management project. As a PR major, I wanted to learn more about the most successful communications business man in American history. Aside from supplying great leadership advice, the author is also successful in providing useful personal insight. This book will leave you feeling inspired.

Starting in on my book choice for #PR #management

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my top picks for novels and series! Happy reading!

How to Make a Wreath

Crafts, DIY, Holiday

So, let’s talk wreaths. They are pretty cool right? Festive yet natural. But before you go out and buy a wreath for your front door, why don’t you try making one instead? As I mentioned in my last post, I went to a wreath making workshop this past weekend at my local nature center with my mother and grandmother.

As it turns out, making wreaths is both easy and cheap!

Here is what you need if you want try making one yourself:

  1. Wire cutters
  2. A wire wreath frame
  3. Pine branches (we used frasier fir, but any kind will do)
  4. Decorations (such as bells, ribbons, pine cones, etc.)

wreath decorations

Now that you have gathered your supplies, here is what you do:

  1. Cut your branches into 5” pieces.
  2. Make small bunches out of your branches (4 to 6 pieces per bunch).wreath bunches
  3. Attach your wire to your frame by wrapping it around the cross section. In other words, wrap the wire where a horizontal wire meets a vertical wire.
  4. Lay one of your bunches down and wrap it twice with wire. Pull the wire tight to ensure it is secure.wreath frame
  5. Place your next bunch so that it is slightly overlapping the first, covering the wire attaching the first bunch.
  6. Repeat this process until your bunches go all the way around the frame.
  7. Tie off your wire, wrapping it around the cross section like you did when you first attached it.
  8. Decorate!

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I wrapped a thick ribbon around my wreath to give it a little flare but you can also go for a very natural look, attaching only dried flowers, pine cones and other natural elements.

So there you have it. Wreath-making=incredibly simple. I was truly amazed and impressed when I saw a room full of beautiful wreaths from people who had never made one before.

Therefore, I would definitely encourage anyone to try this holiday craft. After all, who wouldn’t want a beautiful wreath hanging on their front door during the holiday season?

wreath front door

 

 

How to Find Your Christmas Spirit

Crafts, Decorating, Festivity, Holiday

It’s officially the Christmas season! This means the stores are decked out in Santa Clauses, the radio is blasting Christmas carols and the food industry is swamped with mint and gingerbread.

But what if, try as you might, you just aren’t feeling the holidays?

Well then, I have a solution! Below are a list of suggestions; tactics on how to become excited for the most wonderful time of the year.

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  1. Decorate. Personally, nothing puts me in the holiday mood more than decorating the house. Christmas lights especially send out serious holiday-mood vibes. I am also a huge fan of nutcrackers and enjoy displaying my collection this time of year.nutcrackers
  2. Attend a holiday production. This year Andy and I will be attending a production of A Christmas Story in Syracuse, NY as his younger brother will be playing Flick in the play. Most communities put on holiday-themed productions and religious ceremonies so be sure to check out what’s going on in your city! (Check out the show schedule if you live in the Syracuse area and are interested in seeing A Christmas Story).
  3. Do a Christmas craft. Tomorrow I will  be going to a wreath-making workshop with my mother and grandmother at the local nature center (more on this later). Check your local papers and Facebook accounts to see what holiday-themed events are happening in your neighborhood! Or perhaps do what I did below and spend time assembling a classy center-piece.christmas placesetting
  4. Read. Whether it is a Christmas craft book or a holiday romance, I find that seasonal books can not only give you that warm,fuzzy feeling but also help you embrace the season. Recommendation: Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
  5. Watch a Christmas movie. Gather your family and friends and indulge in a Christmas movie. Classics, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch are always a win but some of the modern titles such as Four Christmases, Elf and Fred Claus are both hilarious and delightful. Make some popcorn and enjoy a night in.

It is only the 4th of December, which means you have plenty of time to get in the spirit and have a fun holiday season. It truly is a magical time of year, so be sure to enjoy it while it lasts! (Just don’t go sneaking for presents like our naughty dog).

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Feel free to comment below with other suggestions on how to create Christmas spirit!

(Photo credit for the last photo goes to Andrew Janitz)

Happy Turkey Day!

Crafts, Decorating, DIY, Festivity, Holiday

Posting once a week every Friday means that my weekly post will be falling after Thanksgiving on (duh-duh-duuuuh) Black Friday! A day when everyone will be out madly shopping as the Christmas season officially commences.

That being said, I thought I would throw an extra post out there this week to give you some ideas on how to have a creative holiday! While we all have Thanksgiving traditions that we live and die by, it is always fun to try new, creative ideas to spice up already established traditions.

Here are a few creative ideas you can add to your food-filled day:

  1. Homemade placemats. If you read my post from last week you know that homemade placemats can make great holiday gifts. They can also personalize your Thanksgiving dinner and table. Check out my post from last week to learn how to recycle textiles into these woven settings.

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  1. Homemade place cards.
    Whether you simply stencil letters onto card stock or use different colored paper and ribbons for embellishment, place cards can add a fun and sophisticated look to your Thanksgiving table.
  2. Try a new recipe! This year I will be making something I have never eaten or made: Frozen Pumpkin Pie! Here is a recipe for one version if you also want to give it a go!

 

So no matter how traditional or trendy your Thanksgiving is, I hope that it’s a good one!

(Cover photo found via Google Images)

 

Woven Placemats

Crafts, DIY

Today I’m bringing some DIY to the site with woven placemats! Having taken a number of fibers courses at SUNY Cortland, I have been looking for a way to incorporate more weaving into my life. I can across this idea in a book and decided it would be a fun and inexpensive weaving project.

True to what I thought, this project was enjoyable, simple and may prove inspirational to those of you who are already planning holiday gifts. Below you will find instructions on how to make these placemats for yourself.

  1. Fabric: The first step, of course, is to pick out your fabric. I used fabric from Walmart, picking several designs from the quilter’s quarters you can find in the sewing section. Of course you can also find fabric at most craft stores or reuse textiles from around your house.woven placemat fabric
  2. Cut: Once you have your fabric you can proceed to rip it into 1”-wide strips.
  3. Warp: In weaving, the vertical strings (or in this case fabric) that you weave onto is called the warp. To make my warp, I tied the fabric strips onto my small tapestry loom which, conveniently enough, is the same size as a standard placemat. If you do not have a tapestry loom, you can make your warp on a cork-board, securing the fabric strips with push-pins.woven placemat on looom.jpg
  4. Weave: Once your warp is finished you proceed to weaving. Simply follow the basic over-and-under weaving technique (like I did) or feel free to get more creative!

(If you are using the cork-board technique you may need to use pushpins to keep your weave in place.)

5.Tie: The last step is to tie the tails of the fabric strips together, giving the placemat a fringe. You can leave the fringe as long or as short as you want.

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So, whether you are making these for your own dining room or plan on giving them away as gifts, these placemats are a fun project that will also give you a sense of accomplishment!

Fall Into Home

Decorating
My small, painted jack-o-lantern

Painted a pumpkin for a faux indoor jack-o-lantern

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in NY, people are obsessed with talking about the weather. Everyone loves to hate winter but simply loves fall. This past Wednesday marked the first day of the autumn season, what New Yorkers consider to be the best season of the year.

While there are a lot of great things about fall, one of the best is the atmosphere. Everywhere you look there are pumpkins, cornstalks, hay bales and apple-flavored foods. But aside from sight-seeing, apple picking and attending harvest festivals, it is fun to change the atmosphere of your home.

Drastically different from summer, when all of your energy is put towards keeping the house cool, fall is when you make your house feel more like home. Embracing the season, here are a few things that I like to do:

  1. Light ’em up! To me, nothing says “home” more than a welcoming scent, especially something that sparks nostalgia. During this season, burning a pumpkin or apple scented candle is a pretty common theme.

    Seasonal magazines on the coffee table (Wall Street Journal’s fall fashion issue and Family Circle’s October issue)

  2. Simple Decor: Decorating doesn’t have to be all-out, and a sense of decor is different for everyone. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I know what I like. This year for fall I bought some fake leaves and pine cones and arranged them in mason jars. Simple and seasonal.
  3.  Cooking Again: All summer we avoid the oven and stove like the plague, hating the heat it gives off. But in the fall we can finally use these practical devices again. Whether it be apple crisp or chili, the fall is a great time to start rejuvenating your love for the kitchen (and food).

Long story short, you don’t have to be an expert decorator to make your house feel like a home, especially in this optimal season. Part of the reason fall so charming is because it is fleeting. So enjoy while you can!