Move over Hygge – there’s a new Scandinavian buzzword in town

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 12 months, the Danish word Hygge is likely to have entered your consciousness. In the run-up to Christmas last year you could barely open a magazine or log onto Instagram without seeing another article or post extolling the virtues of ‘Hygge’. A quick search on Amazon uncovers a plethora of books on the subject – from self help manuals telling us ‘How to Hygge’ to cookbooks, knitting guides and even ‘cosy’ colouring books – all published since September last year. Roughly translated as ‘cosiness’, Hygge refers to a Danish way of life that embraces simple pleasures such as a walk through the woods and time spent with friends and family.  As soon as it arrived on British shores, however, the concept was quickly pounced upon by opportunistic marketers and snowballed to include scented candles, sheepskin throws, cashmere jumpers and cups of hot chocolate or mulled wine (ideally sipped in front of a roaring log fire).

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the Hygge hype, fear not, there is a new Scandinavian lifestyle trend just around the corner. The Swedish concept of ‘Lagom’ is here to guide us through what has so far been a turbulent 2017. Meaning ‘sufficient, adequate or just enough’, lagom pervades just about every aspect of everyday life in Sweden and many see it as the one word that sums up the Swedish psyche. Balance and moderation are key to the concept of lagom, which can be applied to our eating, drinking, exercising and spending habits. Put in a different way, if Goldilocks spoke Swedish she would have pronounced Baby Bear’s porridge to be ‘lagom’.

While Hygge is all about chasing that blissful moment of contentment when you relax onto the crisp, newly laundered  bed sheets with your book and cup of cocoa (after capturing the obligatory Instagram shot), lagom is more of a way of life and a concept that can easily be applied as we go through our daily routine. When it comes to food, for instance, lagom can mean planning your meals ahead of time so you buy the right amount of food that you need. Not only will this avoid food wastage, it also means an end to those days when you open the fridge door at 6pm to find just a lone onion rolling around in the vegetable drawer and a stale piece of cheese lurking on a shelf. Similarly, applying lagom to your wardrobe will probably involve going against the throwaway culture and following the ‘buy less, buy better’ philosophy. Sustainability sits at the very core of this concept so it is good for the environment as well as encouraging us to resist the urge to indulge every materialistic whim.

If you need further proof that lagom is here to stay, consider the fact that Swedish furniture giant Ikea has launched a Live LAGOM project that runs until December 31 this year. As part of the project Ikea has been running workshops that aim to encourage people to live more sustainable, healthy and cost-conscious lives by making small changes Continue reading

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Interior Inspiration: Outdoor Living

The sun is set to make a welcome reappearance this weekend and immediately my thoughts turn to sprucing up our rather neglected garden. This time last year I was tentatively stretching my non-green fingers by planting pots full of vibrant flowers and clearing the borders from weeds and other debris like broken toys and ice cream wrappers that the children casually toss aside despite my admonitions. But this year, in between working and trying my best to keep up with everything else going on (I seem to be getting at least two emails a day from each of my sons’ schools about more things that need to be crammed in before the end of term) I simply haven’t had the time. To be fair, my husband has been doing a good job of mowing the lawn regularly and cutting back the big plants and shrubs, but he tends to leave the prettifying to me. Looking at these pictures, maybe this will be the weekend when I add a few decorative touches like potted flowers, hanging baskets, lanterns and string up some pretty coloured lights.

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{Striped hammock from Nordic House}

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{Large aged flower pot from Nordic House}

Nordic House 3

{Garden candle torches from Nordic House}

Nordic House 4

{Decorative zinc lantern from Nordic House}

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{Striped rocking deckchair from Graham and Green}

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{Dean St table and armchairs from Graham and Green}

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{Solvinden solar-powered lighting chain from Ikea}

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{Picture from Ikea}

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{Picture from Ikea}

Five on Friday

Rush, rush, rush – that is how I would sum up this week. In between working, trying to sort out childcare, cooking, cleaning and making at least a half-hearted attempt at spending some quality time together, it’s been a struggle keeping up with the blog. Most of my time seems to have been spent refereeing various arguments that have erupted between the children. Half term + rain is definitely not a good combination, resulting in bored kids mooching around the house moaning that there is nothing to do whenever you switch the Xbox/iPads off. Throw in a few late nights – the boys are addicted to Britain’s Got Talent at the moment and have been staying up later than usual to watch the semi finals every night this week – and it’s hardly surprising that tempers have been fraying left right and centre the past few days. But we have had some good times too, catching up with friends, watching movies and playing board games at home. Yesterday and today I had to work so the boys went to football camp while my parents looked after Clemmie. It certainly did the trick as far as bedtime was concerned – Casper was so tired he asked to go to bed at 6.30pm yesterday!

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{We went on our annual family trip to Ikea last weekend. It was relatively painless as we got there half an hour after the store opened so managed to beat most of the crowds. As you may recall it is not everyone’s favourite destination…}

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{It seems ages ago now but last Monday was a Bank Holiday here in the UK. It was grey and drizzly so we went to nearby Hampton Court Palace where the kids took part in a digital fact finding mission around the palace. The boys were really happy as they got to use an iPad but hopefully they learned a few things!}

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{The burger chain Five Guys opened a restaurant near us a few months ago and the boys have been desperate to go so this week we finally relented. It was more expensive than McDonalds but the food was miles better. Clean plates all around}

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{I made another batch of my vanilla granola this week. Really enjoying it with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt at the moment.}

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{I also bought a couple of books, both on recommendations from other bloggers. I was going to save them for the summer holidays but I don’t know if I can wait that long.}

Happy Friday to you all! What are you up to this weekend? We have friends coming for dinner tomorrow night so I have an apple pie baking in the oven, which we will have for pudding. Apart from that, we are just hoping for some sunny weather so we can get outside in the garden.  X

Interior Inspiration: A Walk-in-Closet on a Budget

A walk-in-closet is high up on my wishlist when we finally get around to doing our house extension. I’m not a massive hoarder but I’ve still got more clothes and shoes than I can comfortably fit into our existing wardrobe (and I’m already taking up almost half of my husband’s side…) As soon as I saw these pictures on the fabulous Stylizimo blog I was smitten. It is definitely the kind of space that I would like, and the best thing of all is that most of it comes from Ikea so it wouldn’t cost the earth to replicate.

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This Week’s Favourites

I just sat down to write my weekly round up post and realised I only had four pictures (and none of them of actual people!) from this past week! I guess now that I’m working four days a week and not out and about so much, there aren’t so many photo opportunities (let’s face it, pictures of me hunched over the laptop with a cup of coffee are not that interesting).  It doesn’t help that it’s January – the month which is renowned for being devoid of social engagements – so hopefully things will pick up in the next few weeks. My mood has finally lifted over the weekend and I feel much more positive going into the new week – going for a run yesterday morning really helped so I’m planning to fit in a couple of sessions at the gym this coming week to try and hold on to those happy endorphins!

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I found this book in my bedside cabinet – I can’t remember where I got it but it made for entertaining reading on a train journey into London for a meeting this week. The book was first published in 2006 so some anecdotes were a bit out of date but it gave some interesting insights into the fashion industry.

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It finally stopped raining and the weather got cold (and sunny) enough for me to wear the Ugg boots I got for Christmas. I love Uggs – so warm and comfortable!

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Friday night TV dinner – spaghetti carbonara with a side salad and a nice glass of red – in front of Breaking Bad, of course. We’re now on the last series – what will we do when it’s all over? I’m hoping the second season of House of Cards is out soon…

I had planned to go to the movies with a friend last night to see American Hustle but we left it too late and when we tried to book online all three cinemas near us were sold out. We will have to try next weekend instead.

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A trip to Ikea was on the agenda today, to buy a new shelving unit for my eldest son’s room, storage boxes and all the other usual bits and pieces that magically seem to jump into our trolley every time we visit the Swedish superstore. I was fairly restrained today it has to be said as we’re still feeling the pinch from the Christmas blowout…

It’s almost 8pm so time to round up the kids (who are still downstairs riding the wave of that second wind of energy they seem to get as soon as bedtime approaches) and try to get them into bed. I’m determined that our mornings this week will be a lot more pleasant than they were last week…

Happy Sunday to you all! X

 

Currently Coveting #13: The Perfect Advent Candle Holder

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With just over two weeks to go until the first Sunday of Advent, the search is on for the perfect Advent candlestick to take pride of place on our dining table. It needs to hold four candles as each Sunday until Christmas a candle will be lit until, on December 22, all four are alight. Last year I bought four chunky white candles from Ikea with the numbers 1-4 stamped on them in red. I tied a piece of red and white gingham ribbon around the base of each candle  and placed them on a silver tray in the centre of the table. It was a cheap and very pretty arrangement but with no trip to Ikea on the cards in the next couple of weeks, I need to find another solution fast.

I’m drawn to the understated elegance and simplicity of this wrought iron Advent candle holder by Finnish brand Iittala. At the moment Royal Design are offering £5 off the original price so it would be a good time to invest in a candlestick that we could carry on using for many, many years. It also comes in a bigger version that can hold six candles, which I would be very tempted by if my requirements weren’t so specific. I like the idea of using different coloured candles to jazz it up a bit – Christmassy red or sparkly silver would look stunning.

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This week’s favourites

This has been one of those rare weeks that’s both productive and relaxing. I’ve managed to tick quite a few things off my to-do list, from clearing out the children’s cupboards to weeding the garden, and still had time to see friends, exercise and go shopping.

The countdown to Clemmie’s birthday next Tuesday has started in earnest and I have ordered the party tableware and going home bags from the fab website Jelly and Blancmange. We’re only having a small party at home with her two cousins and three little friends which, if I’m honest. I’m quite relieved about.

Birthday Collage

She’s been desperate for a scooter for the past few months and keeps trying to steal the boys’ on the school run so I’ve bought her a Micro Scooter in yellow (her favourite colour) and also a new Maileg rabbit from Bells and Whistles. I’m tempted by the dolls house from Le Toy Van but will probably leave that for Christmas.

Dolls House

I have to confess that my shopping spree has not been confined to my daughter. During a trip into town earlier this week I found some lovely ballerinas in H&M and also a few T-shirts, including this one from Topshop.

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Topshop T-shirt

The expedition to Ikea that I mentioned in my last post went very smoothly indeed (probably because we had no kids with us!). After the obligatory lunch of meatballs and chips, we navigated the entire store at a steady pace and managed to find every single item on the list (a first for us I think, usually at least a couple of items are out of stock or the search has to be abandoned because of screaming kids or the husband losing the will to live).

Our considerable stash included a desk and chair for Cameron (which will hopefully solve some of our homework issues..), three of these white flower pots, and some new candles.

Ikea Collage

Finally, this weekend summer has properly arrived, even if it’s only for a few days. We decided to make the most of the balmy weather by heading over to my parents’ house this afternoon for some swimming and playtime in the pool.

Swimming Collage

Ikea – love it or loathe it?

Guess what I'm doing tonight?

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

It’s only a four letter word but the mere mention of it has been known to cause great divisions and extreme emotions in our household. I am of course talking about Ikea, that blue and yellow temple of Swedish practicality and self-assembly. The thought of going there fills me with excitement and anticipation while my husband approaches the trip to Croydon’s finest industrial estate with nothing but dread.

I love going through the catalogue and marking out the things I want to buy while he breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of battling the crowds and then having to spend several hours assembling all the furniture I’ve bought. I do sometimes try to help out but as I’m not remotely practical the best strategy is usually to stay out of his way unless it’s to offer a G&T or two.

In any case, with both boys away at Scouts camp this weekend and the grandparents kindly offering to look after the girl, a trip to the aforementioned store is planned for this Saturday. I have been busy drawing up a long list of everything I can think of, from a desk for our eldest, a new rug for the sitting room and bedside lamps to wine glasses, baking trays and picture frames. And let’s not forget the napkins and tea lights – no self-respecting Swede would venture into Ikea without stocking up on these.

Going off-list is strictly forbidden as my husband likes to plan the route around the store, pile everything into the trolley and get out as quickly as possible. Much to his chagrin, the children seem to have inherited my love of Ikea even if they’re more enticed by the meatballs and the play area than the actual shopping.

But this weekend it is just the two of us and the other 300 people who have decided that there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than at Ikea. I, for one, can’t wait. Hopefully we will still be on speaking terms come Sunday!

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