As the cold, dark nights draw in and the temperature drops to a level that can make body parts go numb, it’s only natural to crave a cosy night in. And yet, as we approach the busiest season of the year, there is almost a sense of guilt connected with taking some quality time out for ourselves. With so much to do in our busy lives how can we justify hibernation? Apparently us Brits need to take some top tips from the Danes and embrace the concept of Hygge. With the Danish regularly voted the happiest people in the world, perhaps it’s time to adopt some of their heart warming lessons.
Pronounced ‘Hoo gah’ this lifestyle choice is all about taking a moment to appreciate the important things in life. It’s about stopping to take a breath and relishing the quiet and the warmth. The closest translation of the word Hygge is ‘cosiness’, and that’s something we believe to be experts in here at Elgin & Hall. Here are our top tips on how to incorporate Hygge into your life and into your home:
The fireplace is the heart of the home and is also the ideal place to practice Hygge. There is no better feeling than gathering the family around a crackling fire on a cold winter evening.
In a world that moves at an unmeasurable speed, it’s becoming more and more important to slow the pace and take a step back. At present, most of us are guilty of only practising this concept when we are full of cold or just generally under the weather, all of which was probably triggered by our busy lifestyles! Hygge encourages us to reject multi-tasking and focus on the moment and our wellbeing. So step away from the laptop, switch off the iPhone and shut down the Play Station. It’s all about picking up that fabulous best selling book or spending quality time with your loved ones, becoming absorbed in the warm ambience and losing yourself in the entrancing hypnotic flames of your fire. Even if it’s just for a moment, feel your worries melt away.
In order to fully reap the benefits of wellbeing created by Hygge, you need to create the correct environment. This can be achieved by small and inexpensive additions to the home.
Fabrics in the living room are so often used to add a complimentary or contrasting splash of colour. Comfort is essential for your Hygge haven, and therefore texture should also be an important consideration. The easiest way to achieve this is to surround yourself with fabrics which are soft to the touch. Introduce at least one of these feel good fabrics into your home to make your Hygge experience the best it can be. Think faux fur throws, velvet or chunky knit cushion covers, soft cotton pyjamas, fluffy cashmere socks or a cosy, fleece blanket.
Now snuggle down and enjoy.
Getting the right ambience is a huge step towards an effective Hygge experience, but we also need to learn how to relax. It’s so important to be able to momentarily mentally detach from our troubles and embrace the present. It’s an action that is easier said than done, especially in a culture when we are encouraged to prove our success in life by the amount we juggle. However, the more relaxation is introduced into your routine, the easier it will become.
Light is an important element in the Hygge process. There is something so soothing about a room that is bathed in a gentle amber glow. Whether it’s being supplied from a flickering candle or glowing embers from your fire, this muted light creates the perfect ambiance to induce relaxation.
Scented candles are a wonderful inexpensive addition to your home and can help sooth away the stress of your day. We recommend some of the following soothing scents for maximum therapeutic effect;
BRING THE OUTSIDE IN
Another important element to Hygge is to be in touch with nature. If you are still struggling to switch off from the world, perhaps a gentle stroll might help you to unwind.
A walk on an autumnal morning can do the world of good when it comes to clearing the mind. Autumn is the prettiest season of the year after all. So wrap up and take the opportunity to enjoy the stunning range of colours, the crunch of frosted leaves underfoot and the crisp fresh air. You could even get the kids involved by setting them the task of collecting conkers, acorns and lacy leaves, all of which can be incorporated into decorations for your dining table or fireplace in our home.
What’s more, you can continue your Hygge experience once you return home by warming up by the fireplace with the help of a luxurious mug of velvety hot chocolate. Heaven!
A LITTLE TREAT
The best news about Hygge is that it involves enjoying the good things in life without the guilt. Hygge allows you to indulge in that food that makes you feel happy, every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be unhealthy; in fact the emphasis is on creating wholesome home cooked meals, which are encouraged to be shared with loved ones in front of the fire. There is nothing more enticing than the smell of a homemade, chunky soup or stew, mopped up with some home baked bread. Bliss!
Weather it’s a gooey chocolate brownie or toasted marshmallows, a fluffy jacket potato smothered in melting butter or an elaborate home cooked meal, the important thing is to enjoy and savour every mouthful.
Why not try some of these winter warmer recipes, for the ultimate in Hygge:
CHUNKY WINTER VEGETABLE & BACON SOUP (Serves 4 – 6)
• 300g of seasonal vegetables, peeled and diced
• ¾ pint of vegetable stock
• 2 x rashes of bacon or a packet of bacon lardoons
• 50g of margarine or butter
• one onion thinly sliced
• 2 x leaks chopped – White part only
• 2 celery stalks chopped
• 40g mushrooms chopped
• 2 x tbs of plain flour
• 300ml of milk
• 250ml of tomato juice
• 225g tomatoes skinned and chopped
• Salt & pepper
Fry bacon in margarine or butter
Add the onion, leaks, celery and mushrooms and cook until soft
Add the remaining vegetables and fry for a few minutes
Take pan off the heat, stir in the flour and blend in the milk
Place back on the heat and stir until thickened
Add tomatoes and juice
Add stock and simmer gently for approx 45 minutes
IRISH SOURDOUGH BREAD (Serves 4 – 6)
• 450g Plain wholemeal flour
• 10ml Bicarbonate of soda
• 400ml buttermilk
• 1 tsp of salt
Heat oven to 200C
Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and mix
Create a well in the centre
Gradually pour the buttermilk into the well
Beat in the flour to form a soft dough
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes
Shape into a round (approx 20cm) and place on a lightly greased tray
Using a knife cut a deep cross on the top
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
Cool on a wire rack before serving
BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP LOAF
• 100g soft butter
• 175g caster sugar
• 2 mashed ripe bananas
• 2 large eggs
• 225g self raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 tbs milk
• 50g dark chocolate chips
• 2 handfuls of raisins
Heat oven to Fan 160C
Grease a loaf tin and line with baking parchment
Mix the soft butter and caster sugar together until fluffy
Add the eggs and beat
Add the bananas
Stir in the flour and baking powder
Add the milk
Stir in the chocolate chips and the raisins
Pour the mixture into the tin
Bake for an hour until golden brown
A skewer in the centre of the loaf should come out clean when ready