Her Heart Beats

1 Mar ’09

(34/365), originally uploaded by sweet olive.

When I first met Amanda it was years ago in a charming cafe in Seattle. She had just moved to Seattle and I had just moved away but was back visiting on business. I was nervous to meet her but once we sat down, we didn’t stop talking.

So even though I was only in Seattle for twenty-four hours a couple of weeks ago and wanted to spend as much time with my mum to celebrate her birthday, I knew I had to sneak a visit in with Amanda. Especially since I’ve fallen completely in-love with her Flickr Stream and stories.

And again I was so nervous to see her; it’d been so long. But as soon as we sat down in the Art Lounge, we seemed to pick up right where we left off and didn’t stop talking.

I shared with her my enthusiam and hope for the new year despite not knowing exactly what was next. And I told her that I owed a great deal of that to her and the creative energy she shares.

The way she sees the world and shows her heart truly, well, I think we can all use some of that.

My favourite photos are: Sleepwalking, Refugees, and one of the best little dance videos ever.

Everyday Hygge

Life After Domino

15 Feb ’09

Jack and I reading the last issue of Domino. What will we do without it?

My parents never subscribed to any magazines while I was growing up and I honestly don’t think I could have told you what one was until I saw my first National Geographic about age 8. But when I hit 15 I discovered Vogue and my magazine obsession began. Fashion magazines were my main indulgence until my early twenties; I learned Italian through Italian Vogue, I feel in-love with the 16 series in New Zealand and then, in America, found InStyle.

But when I got my first real home – the kind where I bought furniture and knew I’d be around awhile – my magazine interests changed to decor magazines. Back issues of American Victoria, Country Living, Elle Decor, House and Garden along with the English magazines Country Home and Country Living, my French staples Marie Claire Maison, Marie Claire Idees, and Maisons Cote Sud and my Danish loves Boligliv, Isabella’s.

There came a point, however, a few years ago when I was so tired of magazines; the same old, same old. So I stopped getting them and last fall recycled dozens and dozens of them.

But one magazine I have really liked – and was even going to subscribe to this year – was Domino. I couldn’t tell you one person who didn’t like it. In fact, when I went to the newsstand today, the two men that run it said, “You know it’s the last issue, right?”

“Yes,” I said, “It’s a sad day.”

They couldn’t understand why it was stopping publication since it was their best-selling magazine. They told me how much they both enjoyed reading it (big, tall, scruffy men reading Domino. Loved it!) and didn’t know what they would read in its place.

Neither could I.

One of my favourite features was the fact they included paint colour names for most of their stories. I also loved how they combined fashion with home, frugal items with luxury ones, were young and fresh but had lots of traditional ideas, too. It was a great mix of ideas that I often find lacking in other magazines which focus one just one idea (modern, country living, arty etc.).

So with Domino gone, what are you reading now? Are there any magazines you can replace it with? Web sites that are filling the void?

Everyday Hygge

Corny never looked so pretty.

13 Feb ’09

baby squirrel & BFF

I have been so busy this week taking care of business, preparing for my upcoming trip, finalising some projects. It’s been a hard week and I, for one, am ready for some magic and good laugh.

If you need some, too, I offer you some help. Just click the button below, as many times as you need and remembe how awesome it was to be a 9 year old girl.




11 Feb ’09

The Gift

Slumdog Millionaire
I am so late to the game on this but last week I finally saw and loved it. I had listened to A.R. Rahman who composed the music talk about the score on NPR talk and was fascinated with that part and knew I had to see it in the theatre just for the sound. But the unique story, the idea, the incredibleness of it just blew me away. I have been begging all my Oscar-voting friends to vote for it.

Carrot Time.
This video cracks me up every time I watch it which is far too many to count.

Emilie Chollat, Illustrator
I have spent so much time on this site and love everything about it. From the opening, to the photos of her office, to how the music gets loud once you’re inside. It’s just so magical, creative, charming and a great break in the day.

My mother sent me this link today because the little girl in the dress and hat reminded her of me when I was young. I read through the site and when I got to the Laura Ingalls/Pippi Longstocking dress I nearly died. How badly did I want to go back to being 7.

Alternative Medicine is Mainstream
I have so much to say on this that I’ll most likely blog about it soon.


Twenty-four hours Seattle/NY

9 Feb ’09

My mum and I celebrating our birthdays in 2007.

Although my mother celebrates her birthday on the 15th of February and I on the 17th, it wasn’t until two years ago that we celebrated our birthdays together. And oh, how we celebrated.

I first flew to New York where I had twenty-four hours on my own except for a leisurely bunch with friends on the lower east side followed by coffee in the afternoon in the Village. My mum came the next day where we had a whirlwind twelve hours before flying off to Denmark for a week. We still talk about that birthday and with big numbers this year, we wanted to something just as special.

This year as she turns 65 and I 35, we decided we had to do another trip. There were only a couple of glitches; first I couldn’t travel outside of the US because I had to send my passport away for renewal and second she couldn’t travel very far or very long because of recent surgery.

The solution? Meet in Seattle on her birthday for twenty-four hours before I flew off alone to New York to celebrate my birthday. Perfect!

Although I lived in Seattle for the first five years I lived in the US, it feels like a stranger to me now, especially since it’s been a few years since I’ve been back. It wasn’t one of my favourite places to live but I’m hoping that time and being a visitor will change my views.

And New York? Well, that’s definitely a stranger to me since I had such a quick trip before but I did manage to see Grand Central Station, Soho, the Village, Rockefeller Center, take the subway, go to the Lower East Side, and shop 5th Avenue (I stayed at 70th Park Avenue which made a great base). This time around I’m staying across Central Park and hoping to see a museum or two and of course, head back down to Babycakes to pick up some birthday treats – a girl needs a cupcake, afterall!

If you had twenty-four hours in either city, what would you see, what would you do, how would you stay warm?! I’m consulting Girls Guide to City Life, New York and Seattle but as we all know, friends are always the best for advice.



21 Jan ’09

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?
I wash mine about once every 3-4 weeks depending on what he’s been up to and I do it in the tub. He’s actually really good about it and so happy after. I use the No. 17 Shampoo from Isle of Dogs. Expensive but totally worth it – Jacks fur has never been so soft and his skin never better.

Grand Canyon by Train
I love train travel and this looks like such a great adventure. Parlour class anyone?

Kiki in Paris
I am so, so, so enamoured with the photographs, the girl, the doll, the everything. I have looked at it often. I found it after I bought my own Jess Brown Doll and fell in-love.

Nancy Drew – The Movie
I was surprised how much I loved this movie! It was smart, it was funny, it was charming. I think if you have a young daughter this would be the perfect movie to watch with her.

The White House Website
At exactly noon yesterday, the new White House website was revealed. I was so inspired by the new design and the access to information that I spent over an hour clicking around. I had never done that with the old site. I love how the President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review. Talk about transparency and participation. Plus, it’s just great web design.

Pam Garrison’s Coffee Filter Garland:
So beautiful, so easy!

Everyday Hygge

Waves of Change

20 Jan ’09

[vimeo_video id=”5583554″]

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and comments over the past couple of months asking where the updates are, if I’m OK, what’s going to be happening to Hygge House? And I haven’t had a full concept of where I was going to give anyone any answers. I had ideas but nothing was forming into something solid and, if you’ve been reading any of my sites for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t really like to talk about ideas – I like action.

So I had been waiting until I had not just an action plan but actual personal movement before getting back to online life. I wanted to be clear about my purpose here rather than just post online for the sake of it (something I think is a danger to anyone with a blog, especially if, like me, you’ve had a site for over 10 years!). I spent a good deal of December and most of this month changing a lot of my sites and working on new ideas, seeing what was working, what was feeling right, and what should and should not stick.

I also had a lot of quiet, private time in which some days I did nothing or I did things solely for my enjoyment and that was really good. That solitude that I desperately needed helped quiet all of the things that had created too much noise and confusion. Then when I was ready I came out of hibernation and spent a lot of time talking with friends, going out to new venues and testing new waters. During this time I began to have an inkling of the direction I wanted to go but it wasn’t really until this week that I began walking confidently in it and today I was finally moved to say something about it.

Like so many of you – American or not, Republican or Democratic, Religious or Atheist – I was truly inspired and motivated by Obama’s inaugural speech. The past couple of months of reflection combined with his speech of action, determination, compassion and hope helped me to succintly say what I needed to be clear on and do:

Be of Service.

I know that phrase has been tossed around but I actually first wrote those words in my journal when I was 9 years old and from that moment on I began the act of volunteering. I taught swimming to young, underprivileged children, at 12 I taught horseback riding to mentally and physically handicapped children. In my late teens and early twenties I worked in senior housing and answered phones at womens clinics. I even volunteered with Obama before the election because I couldn’t vote and needed to do more than just talk about wanting change – I wanted to help make it happen.

I’ve also been a huge believer in financially giving back to people I was personally invested in or bigger ideas I believed in – even when I had very little money to give. Years ago I read the book, “The 10 Percent Solution” which really changed my views on giving and began donating at least 10% of my income. When online ads became available I started running them, giving all the income from Google Adsense and Amazon to charities (this site gave away $647 last year to charities listed on the right sidebar- thank you!).

In addition to physically volunteering and donating money, I’ve worked hard to create sites that encouraged others to do instead of just thinking about doing. And I have over 47,000 emails from people who have shared their stories of exactly what they did! I have always been so proud of all of that – even if I’ve been quiet about it. Service isn’t about being loud, it’s just simple about doing.

But last year, well, last year was hard. There were a lot of things going on that I had to deal with and it seems like one thing kept coming after another without a break inbetween. I know so many people who had a bad 2008 so I know I’m not alone but I can say it was the worst year I’ve ever had because it was the first year I can remember that I wasn’t of service. I was so wrapped up in things that were happening only in my own world that I didn’t do anything for anyone else. Oh sure, I gave the 10% but that doesn’t count so much in my books because I didn’t give of myself.

My time spent being quiet here was time reflecting on what is it that I believe in and need to do so that I can be useful to both myself and to others both in real life and on the web. I have been thinking so long and hard about this – especially about what to do on the web – because I don’t want to be a bad habit for internet surfers. I don’t want to waste your time. I don’t want you to come here and go away without feeling changed, inspired or able. I don’t want to tack up more decorating ideas that just stay ideas, rehash magazine images that stay just dreams or talk about me in a way that isn’t useful to you.

And although I love frivolity and feel that sharing just regular things and loves are important (I’m a sucker for a pretty photograph and home idea any day and I love the help we give each other (like the chalkboard – thanks!)), I don’t want to be 100% about that. The concept of Hygge House is more about lifestyle than things yet I feel as though I have sometimes not been successful at reflecting that. That’s often when I remove posts; if I feel they are too much about me, too pitiful, or just down right useless I think we should both be spared having to read them. We all need to be selective about what goes into our brains and make sure what goes in is either beneficial or joyful. We shouldn’t settle for anything less because I don’t want you to be blase about life – mine or yours. I don’t want our life to be just about pretty pictures on the web or you coveting ideas – I want our life to be amazing. Full-on rock star amazing.

Don’t you?

I think you do because when I wrote the post “Living Well isn’t just about Organic Fruit” the response was overwhelming. But I’ve often wondered since then how many live by what we were inspired by? Did it really change us or was it just rhetoric? It’s like Obama’s speech today – a speech that changed not just a nation but the world. A speech that filled so many of us with pride and hope and courage. I just don’t want something as amazing as his speech and vision to go to waste. I want to live up to the feelings I had when I hear it, just as I hope people in a smaller way live up to the comments they felt after what I wrote.

So I am getting back to being of service and this will spill out into many different forms, some of which have already been going on. I’m excited, energised and hopeful about 2009 and beyond. I’m also excited, energised and hopeful about our community, our friendships, our ability to connect here and beyond despite whatever situation we’re in.

Because we all have challenges. It doesn’t matter what they are; a challenge is a challenge that can be overwhelming or scary. But I think if we step outside ourselves, if we do something to be useful to someone else, if we change our own lives, if we make our dreams real, if we start reaching big, if we let go of 2008 (!!), the fear, the snark, the ‘can’t’, the selfishness, the pity, and break out into something BIG and BOLD this year, I think our challenges will become our triumphs.

So with that, I give you my pledge that in between decor posts and ideas, loves and links that I will share useful information about truly being hygge – how to live well not just in our own homes but out in life. How to help others, how to look outside ourselves, how to do instead of just think. And I would like to propose that if you have a blog, that at least 10% of your blog posts do the same. That we all give back and give to each other and that this is the year we stop putting wishes on the web or in books and start making them real. That we think big and make everything the best we can, not just for ourselves, but for each other.

Because we can. And we will.