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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How to Make Muddy Buddies

Food

This time of year, it’s easy to become cookied-out. In other words, feel as if one more Christmas cookie will simply cause you to burst, being as sick of them as you are.

So what sweet treat do you make when planning for a New Year’s Eve get together? Simplest answer: Muddy Buddies.

One of the easiest dessert snacks you can make in THE entire world, this treat is immensely satisfying and (quite frankly) a bit addicting.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups of wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Directions:

  • Measure your cereal out into a large bowl
  • Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave (approximately 1 minute)
  • Stir your melted ingredients
  • If not fully melted, place in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds
  • Stir in the vanilla extract
  • Pour melted ingredients over top of the cereal
  • Mix everything together
  • Place the coated Chex cereal into a sealed plastic bag with the confectioners’ sugar
  • Shake it up!
  • Lay the Muddy buddies out on waxed or parchment paper to cool
  • Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in a cool space
  • Enjoy!

Whether you’ve made these a million times or are a muddy buddies novice, I know you will enjoy this sweet and savory treat!

*Recipe and featured image retrieved from Chex.com

 

Christmas Checklist: Finding Your Holiday Spirit

Festivity, Inspiration

It’s that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year as a matter of fact, and everyone is abuzz with excitement and anticipation as Christmas day looms closer.

Though our culture tends to associate this season with gift-giving, most of us know that there is so much more to this holiday and that it is the traditions that make it special. While the Christmas season technically kicked off two weeks ago, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the activities and traditions that make this the most wonderful time of the year.

But perhaps you’re still in need of a little holiday spirit? Not a problem. Check out my Christmas to-do list for inspiration:

  1. Decorate the house and transform your home into a holiday wonderland.

2. Trim the tree, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without a grand and shining tree shining through your window.

🌲❄️☃️

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

3. Make a festive wreath to hang on your front door.

4. Bake an abundance of Christmas cookies (because calories don’t count on the holidays).

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5. Watch a Christmas classic, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” 

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6. Check out a Christmas show or performance, such as the “Nutcracker Ballet.”

the mouse king

7. Attend a Christmas-craft class or do one on your own!

8. Read a winter or holiday-themed book.

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9. Sit back and enjoy the snow.

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Here's to hoping the #snow stays put for the next two weeks. #whitechristmas #samadams #sundayfunday ❄️🍺

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10. Spend time with the ones you love most.

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It’s the little things in life that we remember, and the little things that count most. Be sure to make this holiday season count!

P.S. Only 18 days until Christmas!

christmaspuppy

How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Food

If you’re looking for a fall food favorite that’s simple to make while still encapsulating the essence of the season, then you’re best bet is homemade applesauce. Requiring a mere five ingredients, this recipe is as easy as it is delicious.

What you’ll need:

  • 4-6 apples (I use Cortland apples myself, but any red variety of apple will do.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg

Directions:

  • Peel your apples and cut them into cubes.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker.
  • If using a large pot, cook on medium heat for twenty minutes, or until apples become soft. Mash with a fork if necessary or until desired texture is achieved.
  • If using a crock pot, cook on low heat for 2-6 hours. (Cater the cooking time to your preferred texture of applesauce.)
  • Enjoy immediately OR store is a freezer-safe container and enjoy up to a year later!

The perfect fall addition to your Thanksgiving Day menu!

*This recipe has been adapted by the author, but the original recipe was retrieved from AllRecipes.com.

How to Make Concrete Pumpkin Planters

Crafts, Decorating, DIY

During the fall, most of us are overcome with a strong urge to decorate, filling our homes with fake leaves and throwing Indian corn and scarecrows up on our front porches.

In your transition from summer to autumn, I would highly consider giving this project a try. For less than ten dollars, you can create two beautiful and unique pumpkin planters, pieces that you will be able to use for many years to come!

pumpkin

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 50 lb bag of concrete
  • Water
  • Bucket or wheel barrow for mixing your concrete
  • A concrete-mixing tool, such as a shovel
  • 2 plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Styrofoam
  • Vessels to place inside the planters (we used gatorade bottles, but I would recommend something with straight and smooth sides)
  • An exact-o knife or cardboard cutter
  • Spray paint, acrylic paint and paint brushes (if desired)img_0388

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix your concrete following the instructions on the bag. We mixed our concrete by using a shovel and wheelbarrow.img_0397_
  2. Tape a small square of styrofoam to the bottom of your plastic pumpkins (this will be for the water to drain out the bottom of your planter).
  3. Spray the inside of the plastic pumpkins and the outside of the placeholders (gatorade bottles) with cooking spray.
  4. Set the placeholders on top of the styrofoam pieces inside the pumpkins.
  5. Fill the pumpkins with concrete while holding the placeholders steady. Occasionally shake the pumpkins to ensure the concrete is settling properly.IMG_0398_.JPG
  6. Once filled, leave the pumpkins to set and dry. If able, place them in the sun to speed up the drying process. I would recommend giving them 24-48 hours to set.IMG_0401_.jpg
  7. Once the pumpkins have properly set, cut away the plastic using a box cutter or exact-o knife.IMG_0402_.JPG
  8. Remove the placeholder inside each pumpkin.IMG_0415_.JPG
  9. Cure the planters by placing them in a bucket of water or misting them with a squirt bottle.

DECORATE:

We let our pumpkins sit for about a week, giving the concrete an adequate amount of time to set and cure.

If interested in decorating your pumpkins with paint, I would recommend first spray painting them with orange paint, creating a base layer for further decoration. I would also recommend two coats of spray paint, making sure you are filling in any small pores that may have formed in your concrete.

Once the spray paint has dried, you can use acrylic paint and a paint brush to fill in the your pumpkins’ faces.

FINISHING TOUCH:

Last, but certainly not least, fill your planters with mums or other fall-time plants.

And there you have it: two beautiful planters that you can use year after year for under ten dollars. So, what are you waiting for? Halloween  is only 6 weeks away!

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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!

wreath

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.

christmas spirit 1

  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).

auggie and stocking

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

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

The Trendiest Way to De-Stress

Art, Pop Culture

As you may have noticed, the holidays are coming. This is fantastic because the holidays are full of family, fun, traditions, baked goods,etc. etc. However, they are also extremely stressful, especially today on Black Friday!

coloring fish

But don’t let my ranting work you into anxiety. And if I already have, rest assured that there is a cure! That’s right, a cure for stress and an extremely trendy one at that: COLORING!

I had heard about this coloring trend a few months ago and was eager to return to what I once loved as a child. It was not until recently that I was given a coloring book by Andy’s brother and sister-in-law and was surprised by how much I love it.

 

Here’s a few reasons why  you (whoever you are) should try coloring:

  1. It’s FUN! Enough said.
  2. It’s relaxing. Something about simply focusing on filling a space with color is cathartic and can be especially great for those of us who suffer from stress and anxiety. Filling in color and seeing a complete page can give a sense of accomplishment which is great at the end of the day when you are just lazing around watching TV.
  3. No experience necessary. Coloring is a great hobby because literally anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy it and make visually satisfying coloring pages.
  4. It’s cheap. As with anything else, there are a lot of different options and prices when it comes to buying coloring books. And even if you don’t want to invest in a book, you can simply print adult coloring pages off of the internet. Be sure to check out Pinterest for some great pages!
  5. It can be social. If coloring alone is fun, imagine coloring with friends! Invite your friends over for a night of coloring, wine and cheese.

coloring snow city.jpg

As an artist, part of me wants to hate coloring as your creativity is somewhat limited. But it simply is too much fun to hate. On top of that, for those of you who are artists, I find that when I am coloring I am often inspired and find myself thinking about possible new art pieces.

Another possibility I have thought of is using my completed coloring pages for art-materials. In other words, you can take your colored pages and turn them into art pieces or craft projects.

Here’s a few DIY ideas off the top of my head:

  1. Homemade cards
  2. Christmas/Gift tags
  3. Wrapping paper
  4. Book covers
  5. Book Marks

coloring fish

So, long story short, no matter who you are, you should give coloring a go. It’s fun, cheap and can undoubtedly help you get through the stressful holiday season.

Happy coloring!

coloring deer

 

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.

woven placemat.jpg

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!