Embracing Hygge in Your Everyday Life

For me and many around me, 2017 brought a lot of stress, mental exhaustion and need for self-care. There has been a lot going on to deal with (women’s health and safety issues, economic uncertainty, violence around the world, the list goes on), that embracing hygge couldn’t be gaining momentum at a better time.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that doesn’t have an English equivalent, but according to Oxford Dictionaries, is described as:

A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)

Going into 2018 is the perfect time to embrace the trend that is gaining popularity. Use this opportunity to incorporate hygge for self-care and warmth.

How to incorporate hygge

Since it’s a feeling and not a thing, hygge is different for everyone. How you embrace it is up to you and your needs. The focus is on comfort and doing what brings you warmth and happiness.

Maybe it’s a food (think of a warm, rich hot dish in Minnesota; maybe a creamy mac and cheese in the south; or perhaps a lobster roll in New England), a cozy blanket and good book, a pumpkin- or cinnamon-scented candle, nice body products or even a sweet treat.

Comfort and coziness doesn’t have to be the only part of it. For me, I’ll be double-thinking my use of technology, instead opting for things that nourish my soul and have me live in the moment. These include:

  • Continuing self-care at least a few times a week
  • Hosting a game night
  • Making time for catching up with friends
  • Focusing on cultivating my garden
  • Sharing coffee and conversations with strong women
  • Putting my family first

To begin, think about little ways you can make your environment and surroundings more comfortable in simple ways, or opt to connect with people and things around you.

Learn more about and how to hygge on the Visit Denmark hygge page.

Criticism of hygge

Hygge might not be for everyone, and even if you incorporate it, it’s good to be aware of criticisms about it as not to go overboard or lose site of the meaning and intention.

It’s been said that the slow pace and somewhat specific way to incorporate a feeling could be boring or stifling. Because the point is to create your own cozy sphere, it’s said it could be exclusive of other people and thoughts, creating too much of a realm of just what you believe. And others don’t like hygge because there isn’t an opportunity to be too boastful, even about good things.

Be yourself

Make 2018 a little more about living as comfortable and relaxing a life to take a mental break from the chaos outside.

Don’t become so enclosed in your own world. Find the small bits and pieces of the hygge concept that work for you to live a more low-key and comfortable 2018.

What parts of hygge do you already do or plan to do this year?

 

 

 

2017 Reflection: Boundaries and Limits

2017 reflections | Kale and Ale2017 has pushed many of us to limits and boundaries beyond what we felt comfortable with, imagined or would want on anyone. In the past year I’ve grown a lot and had the courage to push myself in many ways.

Everything from the Women’s March to #MeToo has put female voices in the spotlight in 2017, for better or worse. In both my work and personal lives, I’ve found my limits and spoken up for my boundaries this year. I realize I can’t do, get or change it all, and that’s OK. What I can do is speak up for my beliefs, perspective, expectations and feelings, explaining to people how and why I feel, and vocalizing my self-worth.

While I haven’t gotten action or resolve on everything I’ve spoken up for this year, I am empowered knowing I stood up for myself and let those around me know my feelings and desires. I feel a lot stronger having expressed my expectations to those around me, from asking for my worth at work to letting friends know when they are asking too much to explaining to my family that I need to step back for mental health reasons.

Tips for Speaking Up

This year I’ve picked up some tips by becoming more vocal about my boundaries, limits and expectations. (Let me know what you would add in the comments.)

  • Nobody will look out for you as much as you will yourself, and nobody will know exactly what you are thinking unless you tell them.
  • Practice or take notes about what you might say in a given conversation or want to discuss.
  • Start small. It gets easier over time to speak up, but it does take practice and self confidence.
  • Don’t be mean (that’s where having notes or practice helps).
  • Determine what your outcome or main point is before, and stay on topic.
  • Think about what the outcome (or lack of one) would be by not speaking. Use that as your motivation to stay firm.

Growing my Voice

It’s been a difficult year for me for many reasons, and it’s been hard to blog, so I appreciate you sticking with me. I hope to grow my voice in 2018. I would love to use it to help further myself and those who might not have as strong a voice as I have.

Please feel free to share in the comments how you have found or used your voice this year.

womens march MN | Kale and Ale

Running Goals: 2017

Golden Valley 10k running 042917 Valerie | Kale and Ale

In the home stretch of the Golden Valley Run the Valley 10k.

After a low-key year for running in 2016, I plan to make up for it in 2017. One of my top running goals since moving to Minnesota has been to run around nearby Medicine Lake at almost 9 miles. I’ve never built up to that distance during the short summer running season, but since I’m finally acclimating to weather and have been going to the gym regularly, I’ve made it a goal this year.

When I found a 10k for the end of April in the next town over from where I live, I signed up. I know the best way to hold myself accountable with a running goal is to sign up for a race. Having spent the winter doing yoga, elliptical and weights, I was training from 0 miles. I found a 10k training plan and started one day at a time. From my first run, I quickly got stronger.

The day of the race I was concerned about my performance. I hadn’t done my legs any favors the week leading up to it. I was at a concert standing and dancing the night before, and had attended a Barre fitness class two days prior. While my goal was to finish, I crushed it with a 10k personal record of just under an hour, at 59:26. I attribute that to the much-dreaded treadmill runs where I pushed up my speed on shorter runs. This is something I’ve known for years that I need to incorporate into my training and had been reluctant to do, so I guess now I know the results.

Golden Valley 10k 042917 group | Kale and Ale

Gotta love a race where pastries are part of the post-run snack. Holly, Nyssa and I with our post-run carbo-load.

I’m now at a good base to run Medicine Lake in a month or so (my personal running goal is to build up to 7.5 to 8 miles by the end of May). And when one of my race buddies Nyssa mentioned doing a 15k in June or July (a distance I’ve only done once), I was on board and am interested in doing one to keep up this momentum and distance. Either way, I plan to run around Medicine Lake this summer and make running outside earlier and later in the year a new tradition.

What are your summer fitness goals? I would love to hear them in the comments so we can help motivate one another!

Homemade moisturizer recipe plus glass container review

Note: I received Infinity Jars reviewed in this blog post at no charge. All opinions expressed are my own. 

DIY moisterizer and Infinity Jars review | Kale and Ale mainI’ve always had very dry skin, which is a blessing during the acne-prone teenage years and a curse every Midwest winter. Since returning from living in a tropical climate three years ago, I’ve tried so many masks, scrubs, moisturizers and serums to make my skin less dry. I’ve spent more on skincare than makeup the past few years.

DIY skincare

Getting into essential oils this past year,  and my affinity for DIY recipes for my body has led me to realize these over-the-counter products are so expensive and can have ingredients I don’t want on my body. (Learn more about what products are more safe or better to avoid.) This has led me to play around with homemade body products recently.

RELATED: Hydrating homemade beer face mask recipe

I love that by making my own body care and using different products I can control scents, textures, moister levels, etc. (I’m also using essential oils to make home cleaning products and am loving the results.) It’s important to use high-quality essential oils and follow the recipe, but there are many resources out there for recipes and information, including this guide to essential oils 101. Some favorite recipes with essential oils include:

Another benefit of making these products at home is price. I was spending a lot on face serum (a small jar can easily run $50-plus) and realized, especially since I wanted as few ingredients as possible, I could make my own, while controlling exactly what’s in it, for much less. So I’ve come up with the following recipe for face serum:

Dry skin facial serum

DIY moisterizer and Infinity Jars review | Kale and Ale recipeIngredients

  • 2 drops cypress essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E

Directions

Mix all ingredients into a 30 ml glass dropper jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

To use: Shake before each use. Place 2 to 3 drops in your palm and spread on your face.

Infinity Jar review

Infinity Jars | Kale and AleAfter all that work and time, I need a quality vessel for the products. I’ve looked around for good-quality glass jars, so when Infinity Jars contacted me to review their containers, the timing couldn’t be better. I looked on their website and read about the jars, and they are exactly what I’m looking for in beauty containers. According to Infinity Jars, the containers:

  • Have a tight screw top and airtight seal
  • Contain ultra-violet filtering, blocking out harmful visible rays that degrade organic matter
  • Are scent-proof
  • Naturally preserve and rejuvenate freshness
  • Come in a variety of styles and shapes (over 70) for whatever you are looking to use them for

Suggested uses include a place to hold seasoning herbs, salts, teas, flour, cosmetics, DIY locations, essential oil blends, perfume and more.

Based on my needs, I decided on the following bottle styles:

I loved the idea of the glass screw top jar. It currently has the whipped body butter mentioned above, and is keeping it the perfect consistency (somewhat of a tall order for something with coconut oil as the base). Beyond beauty products, it’s the perfect size for seasoning mixes or herbs I dry and grind from my garden.

And I have been planning to get a glass dropper jar and glass roller applicator for serum and perfume. They both dispense the perfect amount of product, and it’s staying fresh. When I roll the containers around, they are very air tight, with no leaks (which is great because I’m pretty rough on my bottles and jars). I am really happy with the glass jars, and again Infinity Jars come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.

Infinity Jars giveaway-Closed

The great people at Infinity Jars want to share the love. One reader of Kale and Ale will win a $30 gift card toward a purchase at Infinity Jars. Since it’s a gift card, there are no restrictions on who can enter or win, as they ship worldwide. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest starts at midnight Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, and runs until Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, midnight central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 2017: Reset

My word for the month is “reset.” No better time than a new year to get back to a previous state.
While a lot of people were calling 2016 “the worst,” it was mostly very good to me: I began the year with a Caribbean beach vacation, got engaged, got asked to be in my brother’s wedding and got married. I joined two book clubs that have connected me with great women reading powerful books, got accepted to volunteer at Louie’s rescue organization and figured out more who I am and what I want in life.

After a great long start, the finally two months brought events that put me in a funk: My candidate lost the presidential election, which shocked me, and after a great Thanksgiving with close family, we suddenly lost one of those people 15 days later. This person lived a full life staying true to himself and giving to other people and organizations. Both events put me in a funk and reminded me I need to look outward, build stronger relationships, give to others and stand for what I believe.

Reset my food, attitude and expectations

And, although I’ve been working out more regularly recently, I feel like my health has gone off track. So this week I’m going through three days of cleaner eating. I hesitate to call it a cleanse. My neighbor suggested it’s a reset, and I like that. It’s filled with detoxifying foods and cuts out coffee and alcohol. I’ve never done anything like this and have had daily coffee for 20 years, so stay tuned on how it goes. The easiest way to watch is to follow my Instagram stories at @KaleAndAle.

So I’ve decided this month will be about resetting–my system, my attitude, my actions. And that starts right away. As spoofed after the election on Saturday Night Live, I need to get out of the bubble. Only this wasn’t funny, since it hot so close to home and wasn’t a parody.

What actions or attributes are you focusing on in the new month or year?