5 Ways to Hygge Your Home

So the holiday decorations have been put away, and your home feels bare. On the bright side, you decluttered. Consider your living space to be a blank slate, a fresh start before bringing on the hygge. 

What exactly is hygge? This buzzword, pronounced "hyu-gah," exploded into pop culture in 2016, and has been named Word of the Year by both Oxford and Collins dictionaries. Simply put, hygge is "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)."

Denmark and Norway practice hygge as a culture year-round, but especially in winter. The Northern hemisphere experiences limited sunlight and bitter cold, and their way of celebrating comfort is an art.

Below are 5 ways you can practice hygge this winter. 

Gather

To beat the isolation that can occur in winter, Danes often invite friends and family over for intimate gatherings. Sometimes it involves a nature walk to soak up  vitamin D in that sliver of time the sun is out. Per the below photo, my friends and I enjoyed an outdoor walk, then warmed up by a fire pit, drinking craft beer.  Regardless, it ends with everyone indoors for a cozy get-together. And what is a winter gathering without comfort food? Bake something to share.

Get Lit

Stack some wood in the fireplace and settle in. Cut off the harsh overhead lights and light candles to give your room a warm glow. Danes burn through more candle wax than any other European country - about 13 lbs per person per year!

Warm and Fuzzy

Weighted blankets, faux fur comforters and soft throw pillows, there are all things that will make you feel safely cocooned, as you Netflix and chill.

Hot Stuff

If it's warm, drink up. Comforting beverages like hot cocoa and whipped cream, or peppermint tea and honey are the way to go. Extra points if you put down the phone and pick up a book.

Bundle Up

Wool socks and cashmere sweaters feel as good as they look, but nothing's better than an old pair of sweatpants. Hyggebukser is an actual term for a worn pair of pants you would never wear in public, but secretly treasure. 

Though Los Angeles is generally warmer, desert climate calls for chilly evenings, even during the summer. On cold winter nights (there was frost guys), friends would gather around the fire at our cabin, drink spiced mulled wine and because every gathering has one, some guy would inevitably pull out a guitar.

Year after year, Scandinavians are voted the happiest people in the world. While it's true that employers and the government promote an incredible work/life balance, part of the picture is their focus on comfort, and living well. And during these winter months, we need all the hygge we can get!

 

...And Mom and Dad Can Hardly Wait for School to Start Again

From us here at Ladles and Linens, we hope you're having the happiest of holidays. We also know this time of year can be fraught with stress and over-packed schedules. It can be a struggle staying mindful about slowing down and being in the moment. 

It could be little things, like treating a cousin to a peppermint mocha. Or everyone agreeing to put down their tablets to take in It's a Wonderful Life, which serves a strong reminder to be more grateful. Board games, caroling (even as a joke flash mob - trust me, it's amazing), preparing a great meal; these are all things that can bring us together.

Some say that the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the longest week of the year. ...and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again. It can feel especially long if you encounter political arguments, spoiled children or cannot find a decent hiding space. Try to reframe this added time as a gift. I make jewelry or bake chocolate chip cookies.  If the kids are running circles around the house, take them out sledding and help them burn off steam. If everyone's buried in their phones, pull out a game of Apples to Apples, and up the ante by giving the winner a gift card.

In short, you deserve the kind of holiday they sing songs about. Give it your best shot. Happy holidays!

 

The Great Pumpkin Spice Debate

Love it or hate it, pumpkin spice is here to stay. What started as a seasonal treat from Starbucks has turned into a market-driven phenomenon. From benign products like pumpkin spice candles and pancakes, to the extreme, such as pumpkin-spiced Spam, facials and deodorant, it's everywhere. 

Years ago, an astute food writer mentioned that pumpkin itself isn't a very tasty vegetable. In fact, it isn't used in many recipes as is. The mild flavor is dominated by cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, then baked into pies.

But I'm not sure that even matters to pumpkin spice fanatics. Because for many, it's more than a novelty latte at the coffee shop. It means an end to humidity and the unending bikini selfies on Instagram. It means cool nights by a bonfire, apple picking, cashmere sweaters and changing leaves. What began as a flavor has become an idea.

Besides, what's Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? It's also a great source of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamins B, C and E. And if a burning pumpkin spice candle doesn't make you feel a little warm and fuzzy, it's an economically-sound way to gage whether or not you're dead inside. 

 

Put Love Back in the Lunch Box

Kids have a thing for Lunchables. Sure, the little wheels of meat are tasteless and there's nary a vegetable in sight. Lunchables are simply proof that kids are suckers for presentation, and parents are strapped for time. Below are some hacks for healthy lunches that won't keep you in the kitchen until midnight.

Nora Ephron once wrote that people love to play with their food. Children are no exception. Lunchables allows kids to stack crackers and pizza rounds how they'd like. Why not make homemade combinations? They pack lot more flavor, as well as nutrients:

  • Go Greek: Pita triangles, feta crumbles, hummus, cucumbers and olives
  • Napa Picnic: Crackers, cubed cheese, grapes, almonds and deli meat
  • The Fiesta: Tortilla chips, grilled chicken, avocado, black olives and sour cream
  • Korean BBQ: Seasoned seaweed, sticky rice, steak strips, marinated bean sprouts (or pickled daikon) and soy sauce

Have fun with themes!

And since kids appreciate presentation as much as adults do (stacked plating invented #foodporn) - why not indulge them? Ladles and Linens sells packed lunch options that are as adorable as they are reusable. Because who wants to keep throwing away money on endless plastic bags? If you like a sleek look (AKA no woodland creatures), these stainless steel food containers won't break like glass, or leach into your food like plastic does. 

Ladles and Linens also recently posted the below hacks to their Recipes page, and it's worth mentioning:

It's a hectic time, yes. But it's time you won't get back. So spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your kids. Or ignoring them from your porch swing with a glass of merlot. Happy fall, y'all.

Eight Steps to a More Sustainable Kitchen

 

Earth Day is just around the corner, and to celebrate, we've listed 8 things you can do to save money and the planet. That's right - a major benefit of "going green" is more green in your pocket. So let's make haste for less waste!

  1. Tired of going through boxes of sandwich bags? Switch to Bee Wraps, which are  reusable, and have fun themes. You can seal containers or wrap up lunch items to go.
  2. Slow your roll - specifically that roll of aluminum foil. These playful silicone lids were designed by Charles Viancin, and take on the shapes of lemon slices, cherry blossoms and more! 
  3. We've heard enough stories about sea life dying from ingesting too much single-use plastic. Do your part by switching to these festive silicone straws. They're dishwasher safe, and food grade BPA-free.
  4. Teach the kiddos while they're young, and stock up on some short straws too.
  5. These stainless steel straws will class up any mojito. They won't rust or break, and come with their own brush cleaners.
  6. The Swedish have always been a few steps ahead of us, and we can't take our eyes off their stylish collection of dish cloths. Paper towels have never looked so drab. 
  7. Zip-closed storage bags don't come cheap, and you usually have to toss them after a single use. Not the case with these storage bags. They've got the Southern charm of an old-fashioned jam jar, but are reusable, leak-proof and dishwasher safe. Also available in medium and large
  8. Research is beginning to emerge about plastic particles found in our atmosphere, and the air we breathe. Why not join the movement to limit plastics by switching to these stainless steel food containers? Non-toxic, non-leaching and BPA-free.

Have a happy Earth Day!