Hygge Your Home This Autumn

Will and I have been big fans of the “hygge” trend these past few years. If you aren’t sure what hygge is, it is a Danish philosophy about happiness and enjoying the cozy comforts in life. According to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, the word hygge comes from a Norwegian word for “well-being” and has transformed into a cultural movement embracing comfort and coziness.

I’ve never been a big fan of the colder months here in Michigan, but after Will and I started planning hygge nights and creating a more cozy atmosphere at home,  I have learned to love this time of year a little more. Whenever I think about hygge, autumn and winter are what come to mind immediately.

If you think you could use a little more coziness at home but aren’t sure where to start, here are 10 of our favorite {affordable} ways to create more hygge at home:

  1. candles & soft lighting: candles are a quick way to create that warm cozy feeling. We like to use all natural soy candles made without artificial fragrances, and we’ve even made our own with essential oils before! tip: if you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow open flame, twinkle lights can do wonders.
  2. warm sweaters and socks: it is hard not to think about soft warm knits as fall approaches. Embrace the season and cuddle up in your softest sweater. Bonus points if you can knit them!
  3. hot drinks: it is hard to think of hygge and not think of those warm fall and winter beverages, think hot cocoa, tea, hot toddies, or our favorite, mulled wine.
  4. get outside: the more time we spend outdoors, the more we appreciate getting hygge inside afterward. Take a nice long nature walk to enjoy the colors and then come home and get cozy.
  5. play board games: boardgames are a nice way to spend and evening with family and friends without getting distracted by technology. I think Scrabble is the most hygge board game of all!
  6. cuddle with your pets: we always jokingly call our cat Amelia “hygge cat” because she is so warm and fluffy and loves to snuggle with her humans. She is the cat embodiment of hygge, we’re pretty certain.
  7. make homemade soup or stew: comfort food at its finest.
  8. pillows and blankets: get comfy on the couch, or our favorite thing to do is to build a fort out of pillows and blankets and watch some of our favorite old films.
  9. read your favorite book: we love to read Harry Potter books aloud to each other, but you could enjoy this activity solo too!
  10. baking: we just baked a homemade apple pie and it makes the whole house smell wonderful. Treat yourself to one of your favorites!

I think the thing I love most about getting hygge at home is that it encourages me to be very mindful of my surroundings and appreciate all of the wonderful comforts we have here. Take time to cultivate gratitude for the simple joy of being cozy and enjoy.

love and light,

Lena

12 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment Today

Did you know that the first week in September is International Zero Waste Week? We love practicing zero waste routines at home, every little bit counts! We are not a zero-waste household (absolutely NO garbage) yet, but we’ve made lots of small changes over the past couple years to move in that direction!

If you are looking for some easy ways to reduce your waste and help the environment here are some easy tips you could start following this week!

  1. Carry a reusable cup with you all the time.
  2. Use cloth napkins at home instead of paper.
  3. Use rags like old t-shirts or tea towels instead of paper towel!
  4. Say no to plastic straws! Or use a reusable stainless steel or glass straw!
  5. Compost! (We are just starting to explore this and it is a fun adventure!)
  6. Avoid single-use plastic such as plastic utensils, cups, plates, sandwich baggies, etc. I always carry a bamboo fork and spoon in my bag to help with that!
  7. Wrap your food in bee’s wrap instead of plastic.
  8. Buy toilet paper that is packaged in paper instead of plastic!
  9. When shopping online, ask retailers if they can send your package plastic-free. I have had good luck with this.
  10. Always carry a container for leftovers in your car or bag so that when the time comes you don’t need to ask for a to-go box!
  11. Always check an item to see if it is recyclable before tossing it in the trash.
  12. Buy produce that does not come wrapped in plastic, or better yet – grow your own!

These are all easy changes that make a big difference! We have had a lot of luck at home with these practices and it has been fun to challenge ourselves to make more informed choices about our waste. We have a lot of room for improvement so we are doing our best to create NO garbage this week! If you want to make a pledge for Zero Waste Week too, you can do it here! They will send you tips and motivation all week long!

The most important thing when working to reduce your waste is to simply be conscious of your habits. When you are mindful about the choices you are making it becomes very easy to recognize opportunities to make zero waste choices. It all starts with awareness!

Good luck on your Zero Waste journey!

love & light

Lena

Dip-dyed napkins for our late summer wedding…

When Will and I were planning our wedding we knew we wanted to DIY as many elements we could because we love making things ourself. Over the past year we’ve been slowly phasing out paper products from our home and acquiring more reusable clothe options! Because we only use clothe napkins in our home, this seemed like a great opportunity to bulk buy napkins that we could use for years and years without any extra production waste happening due to our consumption.

I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of basic white napkins because our theme for the wedding was lots of color, so I decided to dye the napkins myself. For this project I bulk ordered white 100% cotton napkins on Amazon – I purchased around 180 napkins for under $100 and used RIT dye from the grocery store. I would love to try this project again in the future and explore more sustainable dyes or learn how to make my own natural dyes!

I was able to dye all of the napkins within 2 days, the first day my little brother helped me and the second day my good friend Abby was there to assist! I separated the napkins into sets of 20 and tried folding them in lots ofdifferent ways. After that it was time to start dyeing! Be sure to pre-wash anything you plan to dye to remove any finish that may be on it!

Here are the steps I followed to customize our colorful wedding napkins!

Materials:

  • White 100% cotton napkins
  • RIT dye
  • salt
  • water
  • large tubs or bins
  • drying rack

Instructions:

  1. Fold napkins in various patterns – this is the creative part where you can really just play because no matter what they turn out beautiful.
  2. Fill the tub halfway with very hot water (for me it was about 8 cups), I just used tap water on the hottest setting but you could heat it up in a tea kettle if you wanted it really hot.
  3. Dissolve 1 cup of salt in the dye bath.
  4. Add 1 bottle of RIT dye to dye bath. If you want softer colors, use less dye!
  5. Soak napkins in dye bath for 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Wring out napkins and rinse well to remove any extra dye.
  7. Line dry or if you are afraid of the dye bleeding, you can run them through the gentle cycle of the wash and hang them to dry.
  8. Iron and enjoy!

I did all of my soaking in the backyard to make sure I didn’t make a mess in my house – luckily we were able to complete the whole set without an spills! Now we have a huge supply of beautiful napkins that we can use daily! I love that they are a reminder of our wedding day too, that makes them even more special! In the future I would love to explore ways to do this project again but in a more sustainable way!

Any other wedding DIYers out there? What about you? Have you ever tried to create your own dyes? Or what is your favorite kind of  organic natural dye? I would love to learn more!

love & light,

Lena

Garlic Mint Garden Pest Spray

**This is a review of the recipe created by Jami over at An Oregon Cottage  that I am using as a regular part of my garden routine now!**

As you saw in my earlier post this week, I have been slightly obsessed with my garden this spring and summer. I simply love the magic of making things grow. We planted a patch of sunflower seeds on earth day together and just this week they are finally starting to blossom, I am so excited to see how they look this fall!

Early on this spring I was having a little trouble though, every morning I would find big holes in my sunflowers. Something was having a pretty hearty midnight snack on my flowers every night and I was worried they wouldn’t make it! I knew it was time to find a solution to try and rescue my sunflowers from this snack-attack!

Because we try our best to pursue a green, toxin and waste-free lifestyle – I was not interested in using any kind of pesticide in my garden. I spent days researching if there was an all-natural way of deterring the pests without causing any harm, and after a few different attempts I finally found something that works wonders!

When I stumbled upon this recipe of Jami’s I was so relieved! I had tried so many recipes and watched my plants disappear more and more each morning until I finally found this beauty!

before using any spray

This spray is made of 4 ingredients (+ water) and is very effective! So far this summer I have only had to spray it on my plants twice. The spray doesn’t smell great and is spicy so any little critters who take a nibble will not be interested in eating anymore.. although the smell alone should be enough to send them packing! I still have lots of bees zipping around the plants even though they have been sprayed so it won’t harm them either!

3 weeks after first application

The recipe is stinky while making it but a bottle of this will last a really long time! Make sure you aren’t expecting company the next day after making it because the smell is pretty potent – I moved my essential oil diffuser to the kitchen to help get things smelling nice again! Here is the original recipe that I followed.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of garlic
  • fresh mint
  • dry cayenne pepper
  • biodegradable soap (I used Dr. Bronners)
  • water

For complete instructions head over to the original recipe by clicking here!

When using the spray, make sure to put it on after 4pm or on an overcast day so it doesn’t burn the plant. Spray all of the plant, even the base and undersides of leaves when you apply it! After spraying the first time, I waited about 3 and a half weeks between applications.

flowers blooming after 5 weeks of first application

What do you think? What kinds of organic gardening tips do you have? I’m learning as I go, but this will definitely be a recipe I keep on hand for years to come!

love & light,

Lena

Flower boxes make this feel like home…

When we first moved into our house last August I was in love with the homemade flower boxes hanging under a few of the windows on the east side of the house. But sadly after the year passed they were beginning to rot out and no longer had that beautiful raw wood look. They were untreated so the elements broke them down very quickly.

Because I loved the flower so much though I knew I wanted to replace them so I bought some small cedar boxes and painted them a happy yellow to brighten up our house. I love the way they turned out! Such a simple little thing made this house feel so much more like our own!

We have a LOT left to learn about home owning but we are having fun figuring it out along the way! We planted sunflowers on earth day and a few of those are just starting to bloom and we are working on filling in our milkweed patch with wildflowers for the butterflies… Gardening and yard care are our official “stress relievers” of the summer. What a lovely way to enjoy the outdoorsand the first summer of home owning!

What about you? What are your favorite summertime stress relief activities to focus on? Do you love working in the garden as well or are there other things you enjoy this time of year? I hope everyone is getting the time they need to recharging at home and away!

love & light

Lena