Everyday Hygge

Fall for the rest of us

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While I definitly love summer (long days, beach time, bbq’s, travel, warm breezes), autumn truly has my heart. Crisp weather, reason to wear boots with tights, hot apple cider, leaves falling, light changing, cosyness, warm meals….

However, living in Southern California, fall doesn’t really exist. The change is subtle; the light is different, there is a slight coolness in the air but you can still wear shorts, leaves go fall but chances are they were already brown, and tights fill shoppe shelves but wearing them makes one overheat.

For me, this proves a challenge – how do I survive my favourite season if it doesn’t really happen? I had this challenge in Texas, in my travels to warm places, and then I thought there might be other’s out there who love fall, who read about it in magazines or on others’ blogs yet don’t get to truly experience it.

So, I wonder, what does fall for the rest of us look like? Here’s a few ideas I’m trying:

  1. Seasonal produce. I live in a place with a lot of access to things year round but I’ve bought a couple books on seasonal eating and am going to stick with that. Sorry, strawberries – I’ll see you next year.
  2. Light show. I love light. I pay attention to it (if you’ve ever seen Bright Star I think you’d agree that light was the 3rd main character). Seeing the shift in it, shadows, length, the softness, helps remind me that it’s fall.
  3. Dress for it. Oranges, browns, greens – seasonal colours. Plus boots! I don’t get to wear my winter coats but the boots are coming out even if I have to balance it with a lighter dress.
  4. Trips to where fall is happening; whether its 2 hrs out of town to see an apple festival or a cross-country trip to see the real deal.
  5. Smell it. My summer candles which are normally floral change to warmer scents with names like ‘cashmere’ ‘fireside’ and ‘campfire.’
  6. Design for it. I change out linens; fall colours come out, warmer textures appear, different duvets and sometimes even curtains.
  7. Read. I pick up books that talk about fall, devour home magazines that have it and read bloggers fall trips with envy. This isn’t always a healthy step to take!
  8. Bake lots of pumpkin somethings.
  9. Garden. I plant seeds, I clean up what’s there and I make sure there’s food/water for the birds.
  10. Cosy up. From candles, to warm foods, to reading with a blanket tucked over with a window open – fall=cosy to me.
If you love fall but don’t have it, what tips would you add?

Selso Kirk from alex beauchamp on Vimeo.

Cat + Dog, Danish Life

Easter Thoughts

One of the reasons I was most excited to return to Denmark was because my trip would fall during Easter. Despite the fact that I didn’t grow up in a religious household or belong to any Church (my father was French Catholic and my mum was Danish Lutheran – very different!), Easter was something that was always celebrated – all four days.

Coming to America, it was hard at first to adjust to not having a Good Friday and Easter Monday holiday, to not have the big family brunches and gatherings. To just have a huge cultural shift over what I think is a really lovely (and for some, meaningful) holiday.

My mum and I have been staying at my cousins house in the country where the weather has been unbeatable (clear blue skies and 20C/71F). Prep for brunch started days before; cook books were brought out, grocery trips were made, flowers were bought, cooking was done, candles were secured around. I was going to meet a lot of family for the first time and see others again.

The night before I was giddy as a school girl because, well, the last time I had had an easter like this I was a school girl!

But that night I got word that my cat, Grace, had suddenly taken ill. She was rushed to emergency and things didn’t look good: she had a brain tumor. Although physically in good shape she was neurologically gone. I had to think about what to do for her health and possibly death and it was one of the hardest things to do. I was up all night red-eyed, making plans, talking, sometimes just sitting in the darkness.

The next morning I woke up and the house was fluttering in anticipation for guests who would be coming at 11. It’s one of those times where you just have to put on a brave face and meet people where they are, not where you are.

As most Danish gatherings go, ours went on for five hours of eating (round one, round two, round three), dessert, lots of coffee, lots of stories and even some napping in between. There was lots of chat, chat, chat and it was good.

Some of the family is very religious (my cousin taught Bible study for 11 years) and some of the group are not. I am somewhere in-between. So thinking about the meaning of the day historically, and then the meaning of the day as it was happening now (being with family, enjoying the good, simple life), gave me a lot of things to think about. I wondered if I was being selfish for laughing with my family, for not grieving openly, for not telling everyone what was happening. If it was weird that when I looked at the yard, the people, the food, I felt happy for that instead of feeling sad every moment. It was uneasy to feel torn.

As the last of the guests were leaving, I got word that Grace had passed away in her sleep. The news was far from easy to take and had me devastated the rest of the night. The comforts came from earlier in the day and somehow of having her pass on Easter.

It reminded me of how just a week before my mum and I were at our family’s plot at the Selso Church above. Along side some other family are my mothers parents and we were there to do a little something for her mother who had recently passed away. What struck me was that how in the church yard, which was full of death, there was so much life. From all the birds singing, to the cows grazing on the other side of the wall to the trees just coming back to life from winter. There was this beautiful mixture of life and death. I suppose there always is.

I am often accused of not painting a ‘real’ picture of how things are (IE not sharing the dirt, the hardships, the details) but that’s because I think there are so many hard things to deal with that sometimes the best way to deal with and accept them is to find the good. I’m the sort that whole-heartedly believes that there is good to everything if you look for it (with the full understanding that sometimes this is very, very hard to do not just in the moment, but after a good deal of time has passed).

Easter ended up being that lesson for me; how do you deal with the wonderful right in front when the terrible is also happening? Celebrating and being with family beautiful, wonderful and happy and losing one of my most trusted companions was the most painful events ever.

But then, I think, that’s just a perfect surmise of life; the good with the bad. It happens every day, every moment. The trick perhaps to getting through it all, is to always acknowledge and be present through both so that you eventually get to just remembering all the good.

For that’s really the only way to get from one day to the next, and moment through moment.

Danish Life, Wanderlust

Home is where the Heart is.

‘Home’ is a very subjective word for me. Having moved a lot as a child and having lived all over the world since I was 18, home has either meant nothing, a house, a cottage, a mansion, an estate, a bed, a backpack, a desire, a hotel, a beach, a tent, a greyhound bus, a suitcase, an airport lounge, a sleeping bag, my mum’s flat is or simply where my bills are sent to.

Perhaps it’s because of all the different meanings and constant personal confusion that ‘home’ has always been a very powerful word for me. It’s a word I constantly try to define and find long-lasting meaning for. I’ve often tried to create beautiful ‘homes’ yet I’m hardly in them or tend to move frequently away from them. I’ve come from different homes and different countries yet never refer to them as ‘home’ (I tend to say I’m a mutt; from all over, a mixture of a lot of things but no real belonging to anywhere).

The truth is, that although I long for a real sense of physical home and belonging, the vagabond in me will almost always equate home to a suitcase and where my head is that night. And with all the travel that is to begin, that train of thought won’t be derailed anytime soon.

On Tuesday I leave for Copenhagen where I’ll be spending time with my mum (Tivoli opening day! Victor Cafe! Horse ride through the Deer Park!) before heading out to various family homes in the country for visits and finally getting to see the inside of an old family home. So home will be a hotel in the city, a farmstay in the country, a spare room at my cousins and end with as a summer house on Fyn.

Then I’m off to the UK; part business and part pleasure. Having lived there and having spent a great deal of time in London, I’ve had to find ways to get excited about going back (a certain wedding helps). This year, I’m determined to ride a bike through Hyde Park, partake in real afternoon tea again and of course finally see the British Anthropologie. I’ve picked out what I’m hoping will be a fantastic hotel; something that during my weekend in London I can call home (it’s supposed to feel like one, more on that to come).

After the UK, I’m headed to Karlsruhe in Southwest Germany. Having never been there before I’m hoping that amidst all the business there will be time for a little sightseeing so that between the hotel and office, a cafe or park bench can be home. Spring in Europe is a very rare site for me as I’m usually there in the midst of February’s winter for my birthday. So blooms, milder temps and hopefully sun will be a welcomed site indeed. I just don’t want to miss it.

And then back to America on May 06th, specifically San Francisco, where home will be a guest bed for awhile before heading back to my little cottage the following weekend.

That’s a lot of travel, especially after just having spent almost two weeks calling the Driskill Hotel in Austin my home. And all this travel has me thinking (as travel usually does) – what is home – is it a place or a feeling? Is it where you were born, the place you go back to or whereever you are in this moment? Is home temporary (meaning, it can change each night – I always say, “Going home” even when talking about a hotel) or long lasting (you think of your physical home you live in now). Is home more than a memory, a birthplace, a suitcase, family?

For me, home is always just where I tend to be whether it’s in a hotel with two suitcases or my cottage by the sea. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t had grounding or maybe it’s because I make myself feel at home when I travel by taking and doing familiar/calming things (my favourite tea in the morning to get me going, Lush bubble bars for a nightly unwinding bath, a couple of friends for company, a candle, my camera/computer to putter with, a stack of glossy mags for reading and favourite clothes to feel good in).

So the next several weeks I’ll be calling two suitcases and a myriad of places home. What about you?

PS: I’m going to try very hard to share my travels via Twitter with Hygge House and AlexTravels. I’ll also be sharing a lot of photos/info/stores on my Flickr Page.

Santa Barbara Cottage on HyggeHouse.com
Everyday Hygge

My Bucket List

The saying, “you can’t grasp something new if you’re holding onto something old’ has always carried a great deal of weight with me which is why I don’t like to recap previous years come new ones. I live always looking forward in possibility. And to to this, I constantly look for ways to create it.

My first bucket list, 30 things to do before I turn 30, was created in 2003 as a way to look forward to turning 30. It was the first time I had really listed out things I wanted to do and really took the time to make some happen. I was always a spur-of-the-moment creator. If next month seemed slow, I’d create something to do so I’d have something to look forward to. But to write a list and plan things out? Not my strong suit. This list, however, changed that a little.

I was able to check off quite a few things. But when I turned 30, I realised that not all were done and, in fact, there was a whole lot more I wanted to do. So my new bucket list, 101 things to do before I die (see below), was born in 2008.

The past couple of years have been incredibly busy – lots of move, lots of working, lots of travel and lots of doing. The past year, especially, was a chaotic whirlwhind of life changing events where I felt almost caught up in someone else’s plan. The end of this year gave me time to reflect on that and I realised I needed to take charge and begin to do the things that I needed and so desperately wanted to do. The things on that bucket list.

One of the reasons why progress on my list had slowed was because I didn’t make them a priority. I somehow would always run out of time, or money would be better spent elsewhere, or something else would come up. I realised that dreaming up and writing down the list was only half the equation – planning and executing it was the other critical half. Without the latter, it’d just remain a list of unchecked dreams.

I spent New Years day making plans to do some things on my list. Either calling places for resevations or researching how to do some. I also took steps to make things real (got a sewing machine! Started to read every book I own beginning with Little Big. Read a book about photography and finally learned what an F-Stop is! Made reservations for ziplining!).

It felt really good to take this list seriously because it helped me to really focus on possibilities, on dreams, and on fun in a way that I had neglected for the past several years. I can’t tell you how many I’m going to get done this year or next, but I can tell you, they’re getting done. And that makes for a very happy new year indeed.

Click the link to see My Bucket List.