By Caitlin Kelly
I hate to admit it, and being self-employed allows for this, but I’ve been falling back into bed almost daily at 3:30 for at least an hour. I feel slothful, but my body tells me this is a good choice, so I’m going with it. Hey, animals hibernate!
Fresh flowers and plants
Little hits of color, shape, texture and scent — at bedside, in the living room, at the front door as we enter the apartment.
When all the sky offers, from dawn to dusk, is gray, we need life and color!
Tea and coffee
Moroccan mint tea to Constant Comment to Earl Grey to Irish Breakfast to fruit-y stuff that comes out bright pink. (Did I mention color?) I love the ritual of putting on the kettle and filling a china teapot, then choosing a mug or a teacup and sitting with a steaming little bit of pleasure. No-calorie rehydration is also healthy!
Living in New York, I enjoy WFUV, the station for Fordham University and WKCR, of Columbia University, which plays reggae on Saturday mornings. I love many NPR shows, like This American Life and The Moth; you can hear them all on-line. We also enjoy TSF Jazz, a fantastic station in Paris.
Vigorous exercise — away from home!
I know, some people loathe spin class — which is basically riding fast on a stationary bike for 45 minutes while listening to music. But I really enjoy it. It burns plenty of calories. It’s social. I love the music. It makes me leave the apartment! Thanks to a screwed-up right knee and torn tendon in my right foot, I can’t do a treadmill or elliptical so all I have left for aerobic work is spin and swimming (which I don’t enjoy.)
Go for a walk and get as much sunlight as possible. Our bodies need fresh air and Vitamin D too.
We’ve still got another two to three months swathed in layers of wool and leather (or pleather) and rubber to stay warm and dry. Strip down and sweat for a while.
I just read —- oh, is it possible?! — that a long bath actually burns calories. See y’all later!
Moisturize everything all the time
Hair, nails, skin, hands. Repeat.
Winter air, both outdoors cold and indoor heat, is dehydrating in the extreme. I keep tubes of cream and lotion in every room and apply multiple times a day. I fill the tub and add plenty of Neutrogena Body Oil and scented essences like lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus.
I saw this first in Stockholm in late November — when it was dark by 2:30 p.m. and the sun didn’t reappear until 8:30 a.m. Even at lunchtime, candles flickered on every restaurant tabletop and their effect was soothing, lovely and intimate. At home, I light candles in the morning to wake up slowly and gently, and sometimes as my last illumination.
So much nicer than the cold blue light of a screen!
Add something new, gorgeous — and permanent — to your home
When last winter’s endlessly gray skies made us miserable, we repainted our small sitting room from soft warm gray to pale, subtle lavender, the color of clouds just tinged at sunset; (Peignoir by Farrow & Ball, my favorite brand. I even visited their Dorset factory last summer!)
When you’re stuck indoors day after day, week after week, month after month you really need some color, comfort and beauty!
For us, that’s framed art in every room, well-chosen colors for walls and floors and rugs and furniture, and plenty of comfort — a teal waffle cotton throw we bought in Paris at BHV, a paisley duvet cover and shams, a soft sheepskin rug bedside.
A couple of patterned throw pillows, a set of lacy pillowcases or shams, a bright tablecloth or fresh hand towels or a lovely mug don’t have to cost a lot and can add a cheering jolt of pretty. If money is super-tight, thrift and consignment shops can offer great stuff at very low prices.
I love this blog post about true hygge — the newly trendy Danish word meaning cosy and charming. It includes some of my suggestions, (candles, plants, art) but is really a wise life philosophy:
That’s what real hygge is – a simple moment that feels so special, cosy, relaxing, loving or happy that you just need to call it out. It’s not about being fancy, or styled, or being in the best circumstances, or having the right things. It’s literally about being present enough to see how great a moment is, and give that moment a name – hygge.
I’m not against beautiful images and styled things at all. I love to both see these and take them but I am against all the sites, articles and posts selling the concept of hygge as if it’s something you can just buy and do and you’re done. It’s not a “lifestyle” as so many non-Danish posts try to make it out to be. It’s not one thing you can check off your list and your life is better. And it’s not always picture perfect.
Hygge in its simplest form is really about being present. It can happen several times a day, anywhere, anytime – all it takes is you. Nothing else.