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Posts Tagged ‘fireplace’

 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Music stirs my soul and I have such fun finding just the right piece for my blog. Sometimes it is the lyrics that resonate but other times it is just the voices that make it pertinent. The rich sounds waft through my house as I listen and enjoy. This recording is no exception as these voices really do justice to Queen’s famous rendition. They just add to the Hygge in my house on this beautiful sunny day in Vancouver.

I recently came across the term Hygge. It fascinated me as it is something that I have always practiced without giving it much thought. This also explained my endless preoccupation over the last year with getting my house cosy and inviting. It is a difficult concept to translate as it vague and has many interpretations but here goes….. It is from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well being.’ The Danes, who are regarded as the happiest country in the world, practice this concept in their homes and in the way they live. If I was to give you a practical example you could imagine this…..I am sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold Canadian winter’s night with a glass of red wine in my hand and my dog curled up at my feet. That is Hygge! Another could be sitting in a steaming hot tub on a cold January evening with the snow lining the trees and an equally satisfying beverage in my hand. This is Hygge!

You could be curled up under your duvet in your apartment, watching your favourite television programme while you chomp away at a decadent box of chocolates. It could be as simple as lighting a candle just to create the right atmosphere. Or having friends over for a relaxed potluck. These are all Hygge!

My garden, a cup of morning coffee and Josh…..my idea of Hygge.

It is about being kind to yourself, indulging in simple pleasures and not denying or punishing oneself because of it. I like the sound of that. What is life all about if we can’t have a little bit of what you fancy?

But it has wider applications too and not just confined to the comforts of home. Certain aspects have been introduced into the workplace to reduce stress levels. I noticed on a recent visit to the Amazon headquarters in Seattle that principles of the idea were being implemented. Amazon staff were encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Special areas were created to accommodate their needs. There was an outdoor play area where they could socialise with their canine brothers and do the necessary ablutions. These dogs have added another ‘Hygge’ dimension to an otherwise stressful day in the life of a software engineer. It makes you think……

Leo catching the number 9 to work…….

As far as I am concerned, a little piece of Denmark is alive and well at La Ravine …..our home in the forest.

Rhododendrons beckon you to draw closer…..

 

You might like to read the book The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russel

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The icicles twinkled as the morning light shone across the deck. It had been a rough night. An ice storm had ripped across Ontario and left a path of destruction. We were reminded once more of the power of nature. The beauty of the ice crystals masked the scars of ripped branches that were strewn across the back garden. I opened the back door to examine the debris of trees and twigs and gasped as the cold wind rushed in. Ice crystals cracked and popped in the branches as the trees swayed to and fro…..a phenomenon I had never observed before. It was like the distant sound of rattling gunfire!

The iced leaves on our emerald cedar hedge.

The iced leaves on our emerald cedar hedge.

My morning kettle purred on the stove as I awaited that first sip of satisfying sustenance. All is well with the world when there is a cup of steaming tea! Suddenly everything electrical stopped…..the internal fan, the furnace and my beloved kettle. The world was silent. The next 24 hours were reminiscent of our regular power outages in South Africa. The only difference was that I was unprepared for this debacle and it was minus 10 outside! My first thought was that we needed to think of a way to stay warm. The reports were that ice storm had wreaked havoc with the local power lines. There goes my cup of tea!

The telephone broke the silence. “Are we still on for tonight?” The reality hit me!  I had been so taken by the force of nature in my back garden that I forgotten I had 30 people arriving on my doorstep in a few hours for some ‘Christmas Cheer.’

I asked myself the question: Do I go ahead with this? I have always been partial to a social gathering and allowed myself a 30 second rethink of the situation.

The cupboards were raided for supplies of candles. Thank goodness this household loves this waxy standby……festive reds, icy whites and angelic creams! So out they came and were strategically placed on every surface around the house. A pyromaniac’s delight! Some smart thinking had also resulted in a couple of long life torches. What a win! I felt pleased with the result. The Christmas decorations twinkled in this soft lighting and it looked festive and ready to receive our guests.. We had light and ambiance. Great! We were almost there. What was next on the agenda? I suppose we needed some FOOD!  

This proved to be more of a challenge as we could not deliver any ‘hot food.’ All the dainty phyllo pastry morsels would have to take a back seat.  Fortunately the larder was bursting with an array of snacks …it was Christmas after all! I was grateful for my passion for exotic cheeses as this would have to satisfy the more discerning pallet. So that was the menu sorted! Of course the fridges had loads of liquid ‘Christmas Cheer!’  There was also a pot of aromatic Gluwein which I managed to heat on an emergency hot plate. The aroma of the cloves and cinnamon wafted through the air and soothed my jarred nerves.  It was going to be just fine…..there were even a few bottles of bubbly firmly planted in ice buckets filled with the snow. As they say in the classics…..’n boer maak ‘n plan.

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As I walk around and switch on my lights, turn up my music and sit by my flickering fireplace, I am grateful to have the power back on.  In the brief 24 hour period that we were off the grid, we certainly went into survival mode.  We were reminded of our essentials……we needed to eat and keep warm. Somewhere in between all of that we also managed to throw in a party! Ingenuity and the underrated little ol’ battery saved the day.

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                                       Let us celebrate and roar…..it is a new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ8D5Ihe4hg

 

The warmth of summer……

This song had plagued me for days and seemed to turn up on the radio each time I switched it on. I sang out at the top of my voice as I made my way down to the shops. ‘Everything is going to be fine….fine…fine.’ What was the significance of these strange words where some of the opposites were totally unrelated? Is free the opposite of focused?

I have one hand in my pocket and the other one is giving a high five.

I sink my hand deeper into my pocket as I do my morning ritual of walking Josh. He jumps like an antelope through the piles of Fall leaves that have gathered on the sidewalks. I love watching his enthusiasm for his morning exercise. He is undeterred by the fact that it is the same route as yesterday and finds squirrels to chase and dark holes to investigate. The burnished maples are holding onto to their leaves as if to prolong their beauty. Maybe they are just not quite ready for their dormancy or the harshness of the cruel polar winds. I comfort myself that we have a way to go before I don my goose down coat each day.

I am sad but laughing……

How can I forget the pure exhilaration of chasing about on the snow on skiis? I fell and laughed and fell some more ……and screamed! I did more manipulation of my back then my chiropractor had done all year! Then we ventured out on huge tubes and reached hair raising speeds down the smooth slopes. We played like kids…. But when the ‘really bad weather’ sets in, you scurry indoors and lap up the warmth of a crackling fireplace.

The lack of sun in winter can play havoc with the demeanor. Preparation is made for all eventualities and the days that we are housebound. We are like the squirrels and eagerly prepare for our winter confinement. I peruse the book stores for exciting reads and have built up a pile on the coffee table. I have everything from romantic reads about the Russian nobility to a book that dares you to dream. Ha! Ha! There will be a long winter for that! Along with my basket of soft mohair wool that I hope to create into something devastatingly beautiful!

I have not got it all figured out just yet…….

There are days when I still get lost and resort to my GPS to get me home. There are no mountains or mine dumps to guide me! The Canadian monetary system is still a challenge and I have not got all the coinage waxed yet. Thank goodness the usage of a debit or credit card is universal! I still convert into South African rand when I am shopping and almost have a coronary every time! I use words that the locals do not understand and often I get a blank stare in return. But have not resorted to ‘voetsek’ or ‘donder’ as my permanent residence has not come through yet! I have not mastered the politics. I am trying to work from the known to the unknown. So I have got to enjoy the antics of our portly mayor of Toronto but am still vague about the central government. I know that Canada is ‘vrekgroot’ but I have yet to know where to place each town on the map.  And so the learning curve continues…. I drink my gingko biloba each day and hope that my menopausal brain will continue to keep absorbing all these new things……..

 

What it all comes down to my friends…

Is that everything is going to be quite alright…..

Braving the winter chill!

 

PS. Need I say that Alanis Morisette is Canadian. I found out that she has a show in Toronto next week. No wonder she was riding my head side sadle!

 

 

 

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