Some small Christmas markets and stalls have popped up early in my city; I went for a wander down to see them this afternoon, it was fairly busy, a bit cold, buy boy did the food smell good – I didn’t buy anything, just browsing, but still it is quite special to take in the atmosphere.
It’s a bright and beautiful Sunday early afternoon. I spent some quiet time this morning listening to worship music, praying and praising God while playing worship songs on my violin. Taking time for a bit of self care and reflection, and tidying up, and hopefully by later this afternoon I’ll catch some of that winter sunshine while it is still here, God willing.
It was cold, dark, and I’d had a long albeit productive week at work, and I was spending the evening alone. I’ve been feeling tired after work this week and working through some things that had been bothering me a bit, so I haven’t really had a lot of time or energy to put into practice some of the other perhaps more productive Winter Survival Guide tips this week, alongside the fact that I have been blogging a lot! 🙂
So, Friday night was definitely a good night for a cosy night in and for a bit of a treat, so I ordered in a takeaway, I was in the mood for Wagamama, so here are the obligatory pictures of what I got – all vegan too I’m pleased to say 🙂 Yasai Katsu Curry, and panko breadcrumb covered aubergines in a bun, with a side salad. Delish! 🙂
I ended up not watching a film, but enjoying my ‘go to’ cosy night in fix of Grey’s Anatomy.
Sometimes we just need an evening like that, no pressure, some good food, and the chance to unwind after a long week. Have you had any cosy nights in lately as winter approaches? What did you do, or do you have any film or TV recommendations?
I’m a chai tea latte kind of a girl. Just saying 🙂
These seasons quite often not only get a lot colder, but become much busier as well. For a lot of us busier can equate to things being more stressful. However, all is not lost, as with the approaching winter season, coffee shops, cafes, tea rooms and the like all start introducing those wonderfully named and flavoured festive drinks to keep us warm, cosy and happy.
So don’t be afraid to take care of yourself and take a break. Self care is important all throughout the year, but during the winter seasons we can sometimes put ourselves last while trying to tick a lot of the boxes on our ‘to do lists’ while also trying to be charitable, helpful, get things done and keep everyone else happy.
A cosy break and a hot cuppa every now and then can do wonders. Especially with so many new varieties of flavours to try, it is the season to be cosy! Or even to sit in your own home on your own, with your family or a friend or two and sip a hot drink while eating some sweet treats and catching up or watching a film….or even, writing your amazing blog posts!
It’s also nice to remember others at this time of year, and extend a ‘cup of kindness’ yet as Auld Lang Syne. Maybe that cup of kindness could be in the offering of a hot drink to a homeless person out in the cold on a winter’s day. As we care more for ourselves, we also are able to care and give more for others.
So, what festive flavours take your fancy? Hot chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin spice, mulled wine, toasted marshmallow, gingerbread latte, or something equally exciting that I haven’t heard of before? Drop me a comment and let me know what your cuppa of choice is. Personally I think you can’t beat a good old fashioned tea, or chai tea latte (with cinnamon), or of course a good old hot chocolate on a cold winters day!
I realise that I started blogging about my autumn home décor ‘makeover’ as it were (just simple changes for these beautiful autumnal seasons), but I haven’t got around to posting the updated pictures, so if you read those posts, you will just have been left with the ‘mess’ and the aim to transition from one season to the next in my home.
Sorry about that, friends! 🙂 Coming soon….I’ll hopefully post some updated pics and ideas before Christmas comes around and it’s time for another change! I’ll try to do my autumnal home update this week…!
This morning, the sun is shining, and there is a chill in the air. I was woken by the sound of machinery outside, and as I peeped out of the window I saw that someone was operating an industrial leaf collecting machine – I’m sure that there is a technical term for such a contraption, but I don’t know what it is!
This is a sure sign of autumn! The heavy leaf fall is a sign that summer has passed and we are approaching winter. Perhaps wherever you live in the world, your seasons differ. You might have a more intense autumn with vibrant, ever changing colours as the leaves transform and then fall. Or maybe you have subtler transitions into the latter part of the year. Nonetheless, we are in mid-October which means the year is drawing gently to a close, and leaves are being gathered, and pushed aside as more continue to fall.
An Autumnal Shift:
Within the home, many people are beginning to make a shift as well. I like to modify my home décor to reflect the changing of the seasons as many other people also do. In recent years, there have been trends to embrace the Danish concept of hygge, in terms of lifestyle as well as in the home. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, hygge can be described as follows:
“Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special”.
Think of the feelings of cosiness sipping a hot drink on a cold evening, while curled up on the sofa in a cosy blanket while wearing your ‘toastiest’ socks. Or the wonderment of looking at the fairy lights in a beautiful Christmas market, and enjoying the scents of cinnamon, of hot chocolate, and bonfires. Think of a relaxed evening in with friends and family, playing board games and enjoying life together. Think of a reading a good book in your favourite ‘cosy corner’, of that warm glow of fully living in those special yet simple moments of a life appreciated for its gracious simplicity and well lived. Think of warm lighting, starlight, candlelight and soft music, or a hearty home cooked meal – the ultimate ‘comfort food’. And the possibilities go on as far as your warm heart and imagination can reach….
Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com
We move from the vibrancy of spring to the muted tones of autumn and the cosiness of winter time.
Homeliness, Hospitality and Reaching out to those in Need:
Although the sun is streaming through the blinds on this crisp, cold, autumnal day, days like this are becoming fewer and further between. Yesterday was a day for warm coats, and the day previously we saw lashing rain, incessantly beating down upon us, as we huddled indoors or under grey skies. It is a time when, if we are blessed to have a home of our own, a roof over our heads, we can make time and space to allow our winter seasons to be more cosy, homely and inviting.
Not only can we create a warm and pleasant environment for ourselves, but it opens up opportunities to be hospitable to others, and when we are relaxed and things are in order, then we can also invest our time, efforts and energy into reaching out and helping the poor and others less fortunate that ourselves materially. We can create a quiet space to pray for those in need, including the homeless, we can gather our friends together and begin preparing toys, gifts, hampers and wellbeing packages to distribute perhaps at Christmas. We can make crafts and home-baking to sell to raise money for charity, and we can invest our time in creating a little more community spirit, and of going out to meet people who may be lonely with no one to talk to. Once more, the possibilities only end where your imagination does…
When the leaves are piled high all around you!
However, while we sit together and dream of such inviting days, you like me may find that you have a whole heap of leaves to rustle through first, and tidy up, if you’ll pardon the pun. We need to shed spring’s skin and allow things to change as we transition from one season to the next.
The reality of the mess:
Personally, in order to get to this dreamy autumnal and winter home scene, there’s a lot of tidying up to do! However, for inspiration I have been looking through some of my old blog posts in my ‘home and lifestyle’ section. I have lists of encouraging tips and suggestions in various posts, but the one that encouraged me not to be overwhelmed or distracted by the mess, is to begin with a vision of what I want each part of my little home / apartment to look like. Once my heart is engaged, my mind can set about prompting me to action in the more practical tasks.
Dreams and visions:
One of the things I suggest is to have some sort of ‘vision board’, whether electronically, or jotting down ideas and scrapbooking pictures, it depends on what works for you. I think a nice way I’d like to do it is by ‘cataloguing’ some of my ideas in subsequent blog posts so that I can share this journey with you.
A starting point:
For now, however, in case it is an encouragement to you that I too have a bit of work to do, here is where I am starting from, at least with my kitchen…I hope to follow up with sharing a vision board in subsequent posts and to do this for each room as I move through my home.
So for now friends, happy cosy autumnal living, I hope you have a safe and blessed season ahead. x
Where I am starting from as I say farewell to this year’s spring and summer:
What can I say? We made it! I think you deserve a ‘pat on the back’ for making it through the somewhat tricky month of January. I find that January can be laden with so much expectation, being a brand new chapter to a brand new year…and also, at least in my part of the world, quite a cold, dark and wintry month. I smile as I see the days already begin to lighten, with the feeling that spring is not too far away if it is not quite ‘just around the corner’.
How has the start of the year been for you? I love the start of a brand new month. It is like a mini ‘new beginning’ in and of itself. A couple of years ago, I think, I began ‘theming’ my months. I find that having a theme as well as monthly ‘goals’ and plans helps me to live better rather than merely drifting along. A common theme to all my months, and hopefully each of my days is ‘Faith’, and in particular, my relationship with God.
However, in addition to this core value, running through my entire life, my more ‘down to earth’ themes this January have been cosiness and music.
Cosiness because I find Christmas such a cosy time of the year, and I feel a certain sadness in so quickly packing up the Christmas tree and getting back into the rush and hurry of work. I’m the kind of person who is a bit of a magpie as it were ~ I love shiny things, I love cosiness, and I have gentle fairy lights up in various parts of my home all year round. I delayed taking down my Christmas decorations until midway through January, and it helped ease me into the transition of the seasons, or our human demarcations of them.
So I kept in mind the saying on a mug I was gifted with in December, ”Tis the Season to be Cosy’, and I made the most of hot drinks, cosy blankets, fairy lights, comforting food, time inside, making time to ‘breathe’ and relax and slow the pace a little amid the necessity to pick up the pace by getting back to work, commuting, braving the cold weather and getting back into the post holiday routines.
I found myself learning that I wasn’t the only one with this mind and heart-set, and was intrigued to learn more about the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ ~ if you haven’t heard of it, you might find it fascinating to look up ~ if you are a person who likes your ‘cosy corners’ in life that is 🙂
However, cosiness didn’t only involve staying wrapped up indoors. It also involved making the most of the weekend ‘Snow Days’ when I got wrapped up warm, and braved the chill to take photographs and slow down and see the beauty of the wintry season. It is never far from my mind how fortunate I am to have a home when so many are homeless in the cold season in particular, and I kept in mind and in prayer the harsh realities of those for whom the beauty of snow as some see it only exacerbates their misery. It was definitely a time for both creativity and humble reflection and gratitude.
Making time for reflection and cosiness also came to the fore in establishing more of a ‘morning routine’ ~ as Gretchin Rubin, author of ‘The Happiness Project’ says, some people are born larks and others are born owls, and being an owl I am definitely by nature *not* a morning person, however, I have made progress in this area and have enjoyed having quiet times of prayer, reflection, and time with God, reading His word in the mornings, while drinking a hot cup of tea and cosied up in soft blankets…not something I have always maintained consistently, but the times I have managed it have been quite calming and special before the busy work day begins, and helps set the perspective, heart and tone of the day.
In my little part of the world, which just now is Scotland, there is an annual festival held in the City of Glasgow called “Celtic Connections” (https://www.celticconnections.com/Pages/default.aspx) ~ perhaps you have heard of it? ~ musicians from all over the world show their interest in being involved in this unique and inspiring event. This year Celtic Connections celebrates its 25th Anniversary, and runs (yes, it is ongoing, with two days left!) from 18th January to 4th February, and showcases both ‘new’ and established musicians of high calibre and unique style, in numerous venues from Concert Halls to cosy café / bars and pubs. There are various events throughout the day, from concerts and gigs to workshops, some ticketed and others free such as the well loved ‘Danny Kyle’s Open Stage’ giving new and upcoming artists the chance to share their talent. I have had the pleasure of going to three of the free Open Stage events, for the first time ever (I first dipped my toe in the waters of Celtic Connections only last year!), as well as going along to a ticketed evening event to watch and listen to the likes of Eddi Reader, Phil Cunningham and Siobhan Miller to name but a few ~ if you haven’t heard of them…well, you really should have!! 😉 🙂
I went to all but one of the events on my own, but even when I went alone I saw and got chatting to one or two people who I knew from different contexts (church and work!), and made new acquaintances for the evening with fellow music lovers.
Suffice to say, Celtic Connections has helped in many ways to get me through those dreaded ‘January / Winter blues’ ~ and the sense of community, even among strangers, really added to that sense of cosiness and belonging in the way that live music uniquely creates.
The talent I have seen and heard has been so vastly unique and varied, and deeply sincere. However, as sad as I am to see Celtic Connections come to an end for this year, I am excited to embark upon a new “Theme” for February …..as a ‘sneak preview’ if I can call it a preview with the month having commenced, the focus is shifting towards all things home and lifestyle ~ a good old clear out and purge of the messiness that has built up in my home, establishing new systems of organisation, in a way coming full circle so that eventually it will be organised, well maintained and a beautiful haven wherein I can enjoy the things that make for a happy life like creativity, friendship, cosiness and music! 😉
More on February’s theme to follow, so keep a look out for that my friends. xx