Everyday Hygge

Time for change

20 Mar ’14

Train Station Clock on Hygge House

There are two reasons why I’ve hesitated in writing this post for so long. One, I’m not a huge fan of these big cliche posts where people go on about the changes that need to happen in there lives and two, I wasn’t entirely clear what the change was that needed to happen to help me fall in-love again with this space and online sharing in general.

Since 1995 I’ve had a blog and HyggeHouse.com since 2002. As you can imagine, I’ve seen all the changes that have happened to the online communities. And honestly, I’ve felt really lost in the space and frankly saddened by a lot of the direction that sharing/creating has taken. I recognize that I will sound like a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, so I think an explanation is needed. It used to be that it was hard to share online – there wasn’t the ease producing a blog. WordPress and Blogger were in their infancy and unless you could code and design and had the money for hosting, you were kind of out of luck. So those who really loved sharing and connecting worked through all the challenges. The content and concepts were just that important to get out.

Over the past few years, blogging has become an industry. I’ve seen so many bloggers who had a POV change their whole voice because they basically just became cheap ad agencies for brands. And having worked on the brand side of things, I’ve seen the blogger greed and lack of return and wondering how this industry will survive if it’s just ad after ad after ad.

Instead of talking about life and helping each other discover new things or talk about ideas, we are selling to each other or feeling like we have to be like those we see “making it” (and feeling like a failure if we aren’t). It’s the online Martha Stewart syndrome for a new generation.

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Wanderlust

Amsterdam

23 Nov ’13
Amsterdam Canal on HyggeHouse.com

This past August I made my way to Amsterdam for the first time. It was a quick weekend trip where I spent half of it in one of my new favourite hotels and the other half at a friend’s who was living right on one of the canals.

For a city I had never had the desire to visit, I came away from it completely smitten. Perhaps it was because the weather was picture perfect or because the city was in pure celebration mode (400 years of the canals and 100th anniversary of the symphony). Whatever it was, I was inspired, relaxed and very content during the trip.

I’ve written about all my favourite things to do, see and eat in Amsterdam on my travel site, as well I’ve pinned (and mapped) them all on Pinterest. If you’ve been and have any favourite things to add, I’d love to know them!

Everyday Hygge

A house of possibilities

31 Oct ’13
feral-home-01

In 2009, I got offered a dream gig for one of my favourite companies in a city that I had always dreamed about visiting – Philadelphia. Despite not knowing anything really about the city, I had somehow known that I was meant to live there.

I remember my first day in Philadelphia, my first drive to Chestnut Hill, the first time I saw my house that was everything I’d wanted in a dream home (historic, stone, fireplace, big windows, garden). I’d arrived at the end of summer and then fall hit – the colours of the trees, the crispness of the air, girls in tights. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I belonged somewhere. I began to think out all of the things I could do and who I’d be. It was heaven.

On my first fall weekend I began what would become a regular occurrence – a drive out into the country side. I’d spend all day getting lost on country roads and visiting historic landmarks. One day I’d been out since sunrise and when the sun began to set I knew it was time to get home. And on my way back to the city is when I first saw the feral home above and fell instantly in love.

I’d parked on the road and walked up the drive over over-grown bushes and trees. The house was so simple, so old, and so broken but I loved it. It seemed like it once had this amazing life full of stories and could be that once again. It seemed like we needed each other and I began the investigation into its history and availability.

I turned up nothing.

My first winter in Philadelphia was harsh, so much so that my home out in Chestnut Hill had become too much with my commute and weather and, like people in olden times, I took a rental house in the city to make my commute a little easier. But now I was in a city, with harsh weather, constantly snowed in and Christmas was coming up. I was feeling lonely and bare and so I made a trek out to see the house – I felt she’d be feeling the same. And she was.

Feral Home by HyggeHouse.com

That winter was one of the most brutal on records so the relief of spring couldn’t come sooner. My trips to the country had become less frequent for the 70 work weeks and demands of the job were keeping me busy and Sunday’s all I could do was collapse or grab a coffee from downtown. But then I remembered that those drives were both a comfort and an inspiration and it was time to pay a visit to the house.

Feral Home on HyggeHouse.com

The sun was out, the temperatures were up and the leaves were on the tree. When I saw the house, she looked hopeful. Green suited us both and I thought earnestly again about taking her on. Spring just seemed to be full of possibilities.

But Summer came and things for me had transitioned. Things were hard; I was missing California, I was missing my friends, I was missing coffee as a verb. So I made a very conflicted decision to leave a city that I’d grown to love so much and decided to return back to the West Coast. Before I could leave, I had to say good-bye to the house. She was in full-bloom, living large and surrounded by gorgeousness. I wanted the same thing, and so I said good-bye.

Feral Home by HyggeHouse.com

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking maybe I would return to Philadelphia when I knew I could be more settled. When I swayed more Amish than tech and when the bright light of the LA sun would be far less flattering then the soft light of the east. And I thought maybe I’d come back for that house and together we’d rebuild ourselves.

This past weekend, I was in Philly. Part visiting, part work, part still thinking about returning. I hadn’t been able to comfortably settle in California knowing what else was out there and feeling like it might actually be better. The back and forth wondering if I should stay and what if’s always seemed to sort of keep me stuck. After all, indecisiveness is never anyone’s friend.

However, after a few days and a couple of conversations in the city, I realised that while I do want to move back at some point, right now I need to stay in Santa Monica, California. That right now, my family, my friends, my work are there and being there isn’t a bad thing from which to escape. It’s actually a really, really good thing that makes so much sense and is something worth returning home to to settle in.

My last morning in Philadelphia, I went for one of my drives out in the country. It was almost 4 years to the day in which I’d first taken the drive and had first seen the house. I was wondering how I’d feel about seeing her again now that I had made my decision not to come back for her.

When I drove up to see her, she was gone.

Feral Home on HyggeHouse.com

She was no longer waiting, either. There had been a decision to move on. I totally understood.

It was a lovely four years thinking about that house and all its possibilities. Actually, it’s was lovely just thinking about mine. But even better was coming to a coming to a decision and moving forward on that instead of being stuck in the past, in a dream, and missing out on the real possibilities right in front of me.

Danish Life, Wanderlust

Copenhagen Scene

4 Oct ’13
20130817-IMG_1638

If a city could feel both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time to me, it would be Copenhagen. I know the city so well from so much time spent there yet I’ve despite all the connections, I’ve never lived there. And while I run a site called, Hygge House, and am half-Danish, truthfully, there’s a lot to Danish life and life in Copenhagen that still feels completely foreign to me. What makes sense? The cycling everywhere and in every day clothes (including dresses), coffee, candles, hygge, white walls, city parks, babies in prams, being able to walk everywhere, cosy weather. What doesn’t? Teak furniture, the food (although it’s getting better), the weather in winter, the cost of living, sometimes the attitudes (feels stuck). I know I both romanticize and am harsh on the city (and country) all at once.

This past trip was the most different one I’ve taken. Usually in the city with family and usually in a hotel, I instead rented an AirBNB in the Vesterboro neighbourhood. It’s an area I wasn’t very familiar with, and instead of a few days I had a week. I also went with someone who had never been to Copenhagen but was also working in the city, so it was really interesting to see their point of view and see Copenhagen in fresher ways. I also met up with friends who were starting new businesses (that make literally hygge candles!) or were in school so again, different points of view were heard and seen. I also spent a lot of time by myself just walking the streets and having coffee like a verb. So while I don’t think I could move to Copenhagen, I think I fell for it more than I ever have and even felt like I was even just a little bit at home.

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Wanderlust

Packing for Summer Travels

4 Aug ’13
Catalina Bag by Lo&Sons (Image by Lo&Sons)

Next week I am headed home to Denmark and, as I do with every trip, began planning about a week ago to make sure I have the right gear and clothes for the trip.

My thought process behind deciding what to bring was to ask myself will it:

  1. help me look like a local
  2. work for two weeks (wash easy, not wrinkle, hold up)
  3. be comfortable (especially during a 10hr flight with layovers!)
  4. work for summer (as I’ve almost always only gone back during winter for my birthday)
  5. go from day to night events and casual and fancy ones, too.

If it’s not yes to all those questions, it doesn’t get packed. And this helps me to always pack a carry on and also to make sure I have room for all the gear I own (15″ macbook pro laptop, DSLR camera, phone + its cables/chargers). The one area I overpack? Shoes. If you’re feet aren’t comfortable, no trip can be comfortable! I tend to not worry too much about weight as I fly business class and, on British Airways at least, they’re a lot more generous and forgiving of weight in that class.

I’ve had my tried and true bags that I have travelled with forever but for this trip, I purchased two new ones. One is the ‘Catalina Bag‘ by Lo and Sons which I discovered via SF Girl By Bay’s blog and it looks like it’ll be a fantastic bag -very roomy with still having some good structure. I also purchased a new bag for my camera. I’ve been debating about a ‘Bowery Bag‘ by Ona Bags but I wasn’t sure about the weight of it or having room for my DSLR and wallet/phone (I might change my mind on this… I debate!).

So if you’re curious to see what I’m packing for my trip, click through my individual pins below or visit my Pinterest Board, Packing For Summer In Europe. And if you want to learn about my in-flight beauty routine, read my post on what products I use here.

  • Universal Wrap from
  • Camper Right Nina -
  • fluxus nomad scarf.
  • My trusted Orla Kiel
  • Basic white shirt
  • It's hard to see but
  • These Toms don't hav
  • Packing cubes make a
  • I never belt this. I
  • Perfect summer jacke
  • The Catalina bag is
  • Great bag for my DSL
  • This Bailey 44 Dress
  • Favourite summer dre
  • Apparel creative
  • #Anthropologie #Litt
  • Gentle Souls Gabby s
  • For a fun date night
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My Hygge House

La Jolla, California Cottage

15 May ’13

In all the years I have lived in Santa Monica California, I had never made my way down to San Diego. When a work opportunity popped up there last fall, my initial reaction was to disregard it. I hadn’t had any desire to go to San Diego let alone move there.

The company was persuasive and offered me a trip to come down and visit. After meeting with them for a full day, I drove at sunset along the coast, through La Jolla and snapped this:

La Jolla, California. Image by Alex Beauchamp at HyggeHouse.com

Two weeks later, I moved.

Initially, I thought finding a home would be hard; the city seemed to be filled with vacation-rental, 80′s condo’s with blue carpet. Finding something my style seemed impossible to find.

But I did.

A 1928 cottage by the sea, aptly called, “Dream Cottage.” It’s one block from the beach, with two large and private yards, a fireplace and white, white walls. The cottage had been in the same family for over 40 years and you felt that vibe inside. I bought my first grown-up table here (the West Elm Emerson table I had coveted for years!) and had lots of morning coffee (a new thing for me), had my mum visit with me and one of my sweetest friends and her husband stay for a few days. There were lots of long conversations on the couch, nights spent in the backyard watching stars and many, many trips down to the cove.

In two weeks my work winds down, I’ll be leaving my cottage to return to my adopted hometown, Santa Monica. But before I leave, I wanted to share a few captures of the cottage:

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Favourite Finds, Wanderlust

Avoca of Ireland

9 May ’13

Although I had lived in England and travelled all over the world, I had never had a desire to go to Ireland. But in 2008 work took me over to the tiny city of Cork and whilst stationed there I’d take every weekend I could to drive all over because I was so in-love with everything I saw and everyone I met that I couldn’t get enough.

At the end of my time there I decided to drive from Cork up to Dublin. A few friends had told me that I should check out a very unique store called Avoca. So on my way up I stopped in County Wicklow where the name alone had me and I then saw the Avoca Mill. It was love at first sight.

In Dublin, I spent so much time at the Avoca shop and cafe because there was such a sense of charm, delight, and hygge inside. Although I only bought one of the famous blankets and some scarves as gifts, in reality I wanted to carry the whole store home.

I’m not a shopper by nature. I don’t find going into malls and stores relaxing and I avoid it at all costs. I generally shop at one place for clothes and a few local boutiques for gifts or any other needs. This kind of thoughtful, small shopping I can do because there is a feeling of charm to it instead of panic. If a shop can feel personal or like an adventure or discovery, I can do it. And Avoca definitely feels that way for me.

Avoca made a charming video on their history - I loved the story and the fearlessness of the buyers and love even more how it’s become a family business. You feel that when you’re in the shop and I think that’s why I wanted to buy everything – I wanted to bring that special feeling back.

So I share this video and their story because I think it’s important to highlight shops that are run this way – with passion, with adventure, with purpose and with humanity and it’s important for us to find and support them. Because that’s a very hygge way to be.

{And I feel I shouldn’t have to say this, but in case anyone is wondering. This is not a sponsored post. I don’t get paid to write about this. I don’t get any gifts from them and Avoca has most likely never heard of me. I’m writing because I like it. That simple.}