If you’ve never heard of hygge then you’re in for a treat. Hygge is the Danish lifestyle trend that is sweeping the world. It’s all about living simply, contently and comfortably. So why is this little Tuscany-based DIY blog messing around with hygge? Well, I love all things Scandinavian, but more importantly hygge is a guide to surviving winter and while Tuscany doesn’t experience the 17 daily hours of freezing cold darkness that the Danes call winter, it can get pretty cold, particularly for an Aussie girl who is used to cold snaps of no lower than 13°C.
For me, winter is really difficult. I get chilblains, which are only exacerbated by the fact that I cannot find a jacket that suits me, so I refuse to wear one. Seriously guys, I look like a hobbit playing dress up in every winter jacket I own. All my shoes are designed to be worn without socks and I can hardly get out of bed in the morning when it’s hot, let alone when the house is freezing because I can’t figure out how to program my heater.
But with winter well and truly here, I’m made a resolution to channel my inner hygge and love winter rather than shiver and grumble for the next three months. And here are some ways for you to love the season too.
SERVE DINNER BY CANDLELIGHT
Hygge is about celebrating the little things in life. I often say to Giulio it’s silly that we go to so much effort to set a beautiful table when we have guests over, but can barely get out the placemats when it’s just the two of us. If your significant other is the most important person in your life then they deserve to be celebrated, right?
A candlelit dinner is winter is a beautiful way to create a little warmth and atmosphere during your weekly dinners, especially in lieu of a fireplace, which is absolutely on my future must-have list!
MAKE A STEW FROM SCRATCH
Winter has one massive perk: comfort food! No one wants to eat rich, luscious and hearty meals when it’s 30°C out, but in winter, ah in winter, I dream of mashed potatoes! And the best part? You can make heaps and chuck it in the freezer for the next time you can’t be bothered cooking.
I’m in love with this recipe from Gourmet Traveller, which I’ll probably be making once a week until winter is over. It’s a French stew called Baeckeoffe and it has three kinds of pork, plus it’s covered in bacon, which is basically heaven in my eyes. With a bottle of Tuscan red, it’ll go down a treat.
BUY A BEAUTIFUL KNIT SWEATER OR THROW
Since I can’t wear jackets, sweaters are the difference between me surviving winter and my husband finding me frozen at my desk when he comes to get me for lunch. A gorgeous knit sweater or throw can make all the difference in winter, transforming what is a basic instinct to stay warm into a comforting and elegant accessory that makes you smile every time you put it on/walk past your couch.
A knit sweater doesn’t have to be expensive. H&M has beautiful cashmere knits for just €60 and wool jumpers for even less. Paired with leather leggings or skinny jeans, it’s the perfect weekend look for when it’s too cold to put in any more effort.
VISIT A FLOWER SHOP EACH WEEK
Call me crazy, but there are a few things that eat at me as I rush through my working week. One is not having the time or resources to keep my house not just tidy, but also styled. God, that sounds ridiculous, but a bunch of flowers in the vase on my mantle makes me happy and since Giulio never buys me flowers, I have to be an independent woman about it.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a small flower arrangement each week. Play up the season and visit your town’s weekend market. In small town Tuscany, your weekly market is sure to have freshly cut flowers rain or shine and they won’t cost more than €5. Fill in any gaps with wild green foliage and you’ll have any easy arrangement that will brighten up your house and your spirit.
MAKE AN ARRAY OF STARBUCKS-INSPIRED HOT DRINKS
Whether you’re a pumpkin spiced latte lover or a gingerbread mocha obsessive, you have to admit, Starbucks has some pretty awesome seasonal drinks. I only know this in theory, since there are no Starbucks in Italy, but I’ve made my own pumpkin spiced latte at home and it was actually really nice. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out yourself.
A lot of these drinks are just a syrup base, frothed milk and coffee/tea/chocolate, so you can make the syrup at the weekend and use it for delicious drinks all throughout the week. It mightn’t sound like much, but a warm drink after dinner with a blanket over your knees and a good book sounds pretty divine when it’s freezing outside!