Monday, November 5, 2018

Hygge

The concept of hygge was all the rage last year. Everyone was talking about it. Books were written about it. Companies used it to sell products.

Hygge (pronounced hue-ga) is a Danish term to describe the feeling of contentment, comfort and simplicity often brought on by a warm, cozy atmosphere, though it isn't season-specific -- and it's not a trend. It's a lifestyle and a mindset. 

Physical things can certainly contribute to hygge ... things like flickering candles, low lights, comforting scents (think freshly brewed coffee or mulled cider), the feel of a cashmere blanket, the sound and warmth of a crackling fire. Perhaps most important, though, hygge is about slowing down and enjoying the moment.

I have been experiencing hygge long before I even knew what it was. I often feel a strong sense of peacefulness and coziness in our home; this is the essence of hygge. 

Here are some things I do to contribute to hygge. When Daylight Saving Time ends, I set the timers on my battery-operated candles so they come on at dark, then shut off automatically six hours later. I have four of these candles: two on the mantle and two in the dining room windows. It is so nice to come home from work and see the flickering lights of these candles welcoming me.

I light real candles as well, more often in the winter, though I do light them in the summer too. I'm pretty much addicted to candles. I have so many of them, some scented, some not. I favor woodsy and evergreen scents combined with citrus in the winter months. I also like to make simmering potpourri with cinnamon, cloves and other aromatic spices, typically around Christmas time.



Another way I create hygge is with lighting. I keep the lighting low, with incandescent bulbs and dimmers. I have dimmers on lamps and ceiling fixtures; the dining room chandelier, kitchen pendants and hall pendant are all on dimmers. I want to add even more dimmers! They're instant mood makers.

For me, an important element in creating a peaceful and meaningful space is decorating with family heirlooms from my parents, like this vintage pottery lamp with a teak base. The original shade, or so I was told, was drum-shaped and wrapped in blue yarn -- very 1960s. I searched quite some time before finding this shade, which I think has a little vintage vibe and puts off a very warm glow. Other pieces from my parents include a set of 1960s Danish teak nesting tables and their Danish silver set that I adore using (and did I mention that my husband is of Danish heritage? Looks like we have a theme going here).


Faux fur is another decorating accent that instantly creates a warm, cozy environment. Last year I bought several faux sheepskin rugs at Ikea. I keep one on the floor in the living room, where Ella and Henry can enjoy it. The others are draped on reading chairs for additional warmth and softness. I just throw these little rugs into the washing machine and hang them to dry. They come out looking like new.



For me, another key element that contributes to a sense of hygge is music. I have it playing in the house most days, even when we're away from home (I like to think the dogs appreciate it). My preference is jazz, from old standards to contemporary. I adore entering the house and hearing soft piano music playing -- it instantly makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. 

So you may be wondering what got me writing this post on the Danish concept of hygge. Well, I was on the Mahabis website looking at their slippers, and I came across an article about hygge on their blog that you can read here. I am considering purchasing a pair of these slippers, but I'm having a hard time deciding which color combination to choose (ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you I have a tough time when faced with options).

Are you familiar with Mahabis? If you own a pair or know someone who does, I'd like to hear your thoughts on them. Drop me a line!

Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow. Here's wishing you a peaceful, comfy, hygge-filled winter!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Spiced Cider Cocktail


While the kids are trick-or-treating this Halloween, why not enjoy an adult treat? How about a cocktail that's perfect for autumn and easy to make. It requires only two ingredients: spiced apple cider and whiskey.

To make this cocktail, add 1 to 1.5 ounces whiskey to an ice-filled glass. Top with spiced apple cider and stir. 

I use Trader Joe's spiced cider, one of my favorite fall beverages. I stock up on it while it's available, storing the extra bottles in the basement.

Speaking of Trader Joe's, did you see their cute fall-scented candle tins this year? I bought one in honeycrisp apple scent, and it's amazing! The other scent was pumpkin, which I didn't purchase. I wish I had stocked up on these; our store is out of them for the year and won't be getting any more. They are made with a natural soy wax blend and lead-free cotton wick. The 5.7 ounce tin was only $3.99 -- what a deal. I'm sorry I didn't buy more than one.

I hope you have a fun Halloween. Enjoy a cocktail while you hand out candy to all the little ghosts and goblins this year. Cheers!

Friday, October 26, 2018

End-of-October Miscellany

Hello, folks. Where have I been this month! Clearly, not paying attention to my blog. But I have been more active on Instagram, which I'm enjoying. If you're on Instagram, follow me: claudiabungalow. I post pics of our pretty dahlias and short video clips of our sweet dogs, among other things.

Today I thought I'd share a few updates with you. First, our big news: My husband bought a boat! It's a small skiff (17-ft long, 5-ft wide), with an open deck and shallow draft (5" fully loaded). In other words, it's perfect for fly fishing, my husband's favorite pastime. He's been fishing since he was a kid, even sneaking out of the house with his dad's fly fishing rod at a young age. He's a very accomplished fisherman.

While on vacation at the beach this past June, we were sitting on the porch watching the boats go by on the creek and I said to my husband, "We should get a boat." We've always had a canoe (he fly fishes standing up in it, which is interesting), but never a motor boat. Having a boat with an engine that can get into tight, shallow waters (like a canoe can) would open up all new fishing territory and opportunities for my husband. It would also be more conducive to us spending more time together on the water.

Soon after returning home from vacation, he started researching possibilities and found the perfect small boat for his needs (and our budget). It's lightweight enough that we can tow it with our existing vehicle (because a boat and a new vehicle were not in the cards). He absolutely loves his new boat, and I'm thrilled for him. We got it in September, and he's taken it out on the water I don't know how many times already. I joined him on a couple of outings last month while it was still warm. We swam in the lake and picnicked on the boat -- it was so much fun. I can't wait to take it to the beach with us next year!



Let's see, what else has been going on? How about a garden update. While our dahlia garden wasn't as healthy and vigorous this year as in past years thanks to the weather, we did enjoy many beautiful flowers, perfect for cutting. A flower grower at the farmers market said it was a bad year for them, too, and their dahlias were struggling. After hearing that, I felt grateful that we had as many gorgeous flowers as we did.


The next three photos are some of my favorites. I love the color gradations in the flower petals and the pops of green, plus the lighting was perfect. I snapped these with my iPhone the other day around 8 am before heading out the door for work. It's natural light from an east-facing kitchen window. I may print and frame one of these. 


Switching gears, have you tried boiled cider? I read a very interesting article about it on the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourish. It sounds delish, and I'm intrigued. It's on sale through Monday, Oct. 29: Buy one, get one at half price. I may try it. [Update: I just read the article to my husband and he said, "Get it! Can they have it here tomorrow?" I think that's a vote of confidence!]

Boiled cider can be used in cocktails, on pancakes, in apple pie, in mashed sweet potatoes and in many other ways. There's a recipe for homemade cider caramels. Yum! If you've cooked with boiled cider, let me know your thoughts. I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.


I can't believe November is almost here! Before we know it, Christmas will be right around the corner. Why does time seem to pass more quickly as we get older? 

Our weather went from hot to cold, with very little in between. I'm not a fan of that kind of abrupt change, but we can't control the weather, can we. Today is cold and rainy -- the kind of day you just want to stay indoors. We've gotten more than 2 inches of rain in 12 hours and it's still coming down. I believe it's time to get the duvet out of storage, but until now we've getting by with the summer coverlet and a faux shearling blanket from Pottery Barn over it at night. I had a PB coupon last year that covered almost the entire price of the blanket (it was on sale then, and is on sale right now!). It's super soft, heavy and so warm. I love it!


What's new in your corner of the world? Let me know! Be sure to stay up-to-date on My Little Bungalow posts by subscribing via email (see sidebar, above). Visit my Instagram and Pinterest pages too. Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow.

This is not a sponsored post.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Farmers' Market in Early October

It's October, and it is beginning to look like autumn, but it sure doesn't feel like it! We're still having highs in the mid-80s. Paul and I went to our favorite -- and very charming -- farmers' market on Saturday and I took lots of photos. Pumpkins were everywhere, making it look like fall. But it's still hot and humid and feels like summer. I think I'm finally ready for cooler temperatures.
 



We bought some okra, which I've come to love over the past year. Paul cuts it into rounds, tosses it with avocado oil, salt and pepper, and roasts it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (the time depends on the size of the okra). Delicious!






There are always LOTS of dogs at the farmers' market, which I love. This little guy named Jimmy stole my heart. His owner adopted him from a shelter in our region, but he was originally found in Kentucky. I love scruffy little dogs like Jimmy. He gave kisses, too.


I love the pattern of the porch railing on this historic home. Along the picket fence is a climbing plant with vibrant red flowers. See a close-up below.





This Golden named Levi had the right idea. He took cover from the sun under a table where ice was melting. Smart dog. What's the weather like where you live?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Zucchini-Banana Muffins


I found this recipe for zucchini-banana muffins on the Cup4Cup website and thought they sounded yummy. I used my new Wholesome Flour by Cup4Cup instead of their regular gluten-free flour, to give the muffins a more "whole wheat" flavor. This was my first time using the Wholesome Flour, and I am very pleased. The muffins turned out very nicely! If you follow a gluten-free diet, give these a try. I swear by Cup4Cup GF flour. I can substitute it for all-purpose flour in any baked goods recipe and the results are reliably very good.

Zucchini-Banana Muffins

Ingredients
1-3/4 cups Cup4Cup brand Wholesome Flour gluten-free flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup milk (I used 1% milk)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. 

2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, mashed banana and grated zucchini. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined.




4) Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon batter into muffin cups, dividing equally. Bake for 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when pressed. Cool in muffin pan on a wire rack.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Peach Crumble

It's still summer and I'm holding on to every last minute of it! I am sad to see it end, but I know I'll embrace fall once it's here. I'm starting to see pumpkins for sale, and the thought of making hearty soups and chowders, and of doing more baking, is very appealing.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I made this peach crumble recipe, and it was delicious! The recipe actually called for using plums, but the plums I bought were all bad when I cut into them. I never seem to have luck with plums. So off to the store I went and bought organic peaches instead. They made a delicious, summery fruit crumble. This recipe has a bottom crust which got nice and crisp. The addition of almond extract beautifully complemented the peaches. I will definitely make this dessert again next summer.


Peach Crumble

Ingredients
1-1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour substitute, such as Cup4Cup
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small cubes
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into eighths (I left the peel on)

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch shallow baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar with the salt and flour. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside half the mixture. To the remaining half, add cinnamon, baking powder and 1 egg. Mix until well blended. Press into the bottom of greased baking dish. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

2) While the crust is baking, in a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, remaining egg, cream, and the almond and vanilla extracts; set aside.

3) Remove crust from oven and top with peach slices. I laid them in one direction, slightly overlapping. Pour the cream mixture over the peaches. Sprinkle with reserved butter-flour mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until topping is golden brown and peaches are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Give this one a try when peaches are in season. I think you'll love it. We did!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Antiquing -- with the Dogs!

Happy Labor Day, friends! Yesterday, Paul and I took the dogs to an awesome antiques mall that we first visited in July 2016, which I wrote about here. During that visit we discovered the store is dog friendly, so this time we brought Henry and Ella along. They were perfectly behaved! They didn't pull, didn't break anything (phew!) and they were perfectly well mannered with everyone they met. Be sure to visit me on Instagram for some video clips (@claudiabungalow).


There was a long line of people at the checkout when we arrived, and I hadn't expected it to be that busy. I wasn't sure how people would react to the dogs. I didn't want them to get in anyone's way. But they did great, mostly walking in a straight line up and down every aisle. Henry came into a few booths with me and he was very careful, sniffing bowls that he hoped would have food in them. We walked around the mall for probably two-and-a-half hours! It was great exercise for the dogs, and they appreciated the air-conditioned environment.

Both Ella and Henry received attention and petting (even a few kisses) along the way. One lady we talked to said a Great Dane and an Australian shepherd had visited the store earlier that day. I can't imagine taking a Great Dane into a crowded antiques store -- even if it's extremely well behaved!


I saw lots of great things, but avoided buying most of them. We just don't have any more space in our house for display. I did buy a vintage planter for $6.95 and a goat skin rug for our bedroom for $49 (photos below). Other than that, having the dogs along meant more window shopping than actual shopping. And they kept us moving along, too. If we stopped too long to look at a particular booth, Henry would get a little antsy so mostly we kept moving. All in all, it was a very fun way to spend the afternoon with our pups.

Here are some photos of booths and vignettes that caught my eye. I love vintage planters, so when I saw the little white rectangular one on the table below, I had to take a look. It's in great condition and was only $6.95, so I nabbed it.


For now, I've placed it on an antique dresser in our guest bedroom. I have another planter like this one, but it's off-white. I use it in the bath to hold soaps. The two green planters below are vintage McCoy and the copper pot is one of two that my parents bought at a Paris flea market in 1967.


I didn't buy the McCoy vase below, but I sure wanted to! At $24, it was a decent price. It did have a chip on the rim, but not very noticeable. I really should have bought it, but I just don't have a place for it. My husband made a great point during the drive home: if we clean out the attic, we'd have space for a couple of plastic storage boxes where we could keep accessories and switch them out seasonally. A brilliant idea, and one that I never thought I'd hear him say (not about cleaning out the attic, but about storing extra accessories up there!). When the weather cools off, cleaning out the attic will be on our to-do list for sure.










Lastly, I want to show you the rug we bought. I placed it on top of an indoor-outdoor rug in our bedroom. I was hoping for a medium-sized cowhide rug like the one in our living room, but they only had huge cowhides. The prices are very reasonable. The large cowhides were $250 and the small goat hide rug was $49. Ella really likes laying on these hide rugs. I think she finds them cooler in the warm weather than sleeping on one of the dog beds, which we now have six of (two in our bedroom, two in the guest room, and two in the living room).


How did you spend your Labor Day weekend? Click "comment" below and let me know!

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