Hoo-gah. Honestly, that’s how you pronounce it. Lagom is slightly a tougher one… lar-gohm. If you’re already over hygge, then maybe lagom is for you. With the new year in full swing, the Scandinavian concept of ‘everything in moderation’ may be better suited to you (especially if you’re making changes to your lifestyle and diet) than the full-on snuggle-up-and-get-cosy-during-deepest-darkest-winter concept of hygge. Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ and is a slightly more matter-of-fact approach to living a more balanced and thriftier lifestyle. As a very thrifty gal, it’s no wonder I’ve become intrigued by this concept, is it?The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I received a book relating to this topic for Christmas. Yes, I finally own a copy of the famous Hygge book by Meik Wiking. You know, the one that instagrammers seem to be posting photos of daily during the autumn and winter. The Danish art of hygge doesn’t necessarily have a certain look or design philosophy, it’s more about the feeling and atmosphere that a room gives you. It’s about appreciating the small things in life and about the times you have felt at your happiest. Recreating that vibe throughout your home is hygge, pure and simple. Lagom is very different and there are four ways to embrace lagom this year; eating with the seasons, reducing your environmental impact, stressing less, and enjoying things in moderation. So you can see that this Swedish concept is more about lifestyle as a whole, rather than focusing on creating a feeling of cosiness in the home like hygge. It’s about having just the right amount of food, achieving the ideal work/life balance and doing your bit for the environment. Sounds like a set of new year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? I already feel like it’s more serious concept than the warm-and-fluffy idea of hygge, but maybe that’s just my natural reaction resolutions in general. What a rebel.In contrast, home interior specialists Baytree Interiors have come up with the four elements needed to create the perfect winter sanctuary with the Danish concept of hygge. These are: textures, small spaces, natural colours and low lighting. Firstly, rustic materials such as wood and leather work well to create hygge-esque textures especially when combined with cable knits, faux fur and fluffy rugs. Secondly, larger rooms will benefit from being divided up, to make a series of cosy spaces. Thirdly and neutral colour scheme using brown, gray and cream will give a sense of bringing nature indoors. And finally, lighting is the most important element in any Hygge home and it’s the easiest way to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Lamps and candles create soothing pools of light around the home, and the Danes are said to light more candles than any other country in Europe!I can see how the two ideas can work hand-in-hand. For example, if you’re practicing the lagom idea of stressing less, you’ll be wanting to create a lovely hygge environment in which to relax in. Food and drink can be hygge too (I’d call it comfort food…) and the lagom idea of having everything in moderation means that you really can enjoy that hot chocolate with squishy marshmallows without feeling guilty, because you’re just having one mugful. And of course, switching off the electricity to sit by hygge candlelight, couldn’t be more lagom in terms of reducing your environmental impact, could it?These two Scandinavian concepts aren’t in competition with each other, but they have both become really popular this winter and it seems like a good idea to learn a thing or two about lifestyle from the happiest nations in the world, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to introduce some of these concepts into my own home and life in 2017 and try to embrace a happier, cosier and more relaxed approach to life. So if you find me tucked up under a blanket that I’ve knitted myself rather than doing any work, that’ll be the reason why! Let me know if you’re inspired by these Scandinavian ideals or if you’ve been adding a touch of hygge to your home this winter by leaving me a comment below 🙂
After a rather sleepless night earlier this week left me totally drained (and over-emotional!) the following day, I decided to do a little research into the science of sleep. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, about one in three people has some level of insomnia. Sleeplessness can be a pain (especially when you know you’ve got to be up and out early the next morning), but insomnia is more than just a mild annoyance. Insufficient sleep can contribute to serious health problems like depression, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer. If you suffer from persistent insomnia, you should see a doctor for help. If you just have trouble sleeping from time to time, though, you may have fallen victim to one of these four strange causes of insomnia.1.Brushing with mint flavour toothpaste
Brushing your teeth with strongly mint-flavoured toothpaste in the morning can give you the kick of energy you need to get the day started. Using the same toothpaste at night, however, could make it difficult for you to fall asleep. One study shows that people exposed to peppermint before bedtime stayed awake for 11 minutes longer than those who weren’t exposed to the smell. I watched a documentary on fitness ones, which showed how runner who ate mint while running carried on for much longer than those who didn’t. So I guess the energy-boosting properties of mint must have a negative effect on your sleep pattern too. Instead of using a minty toothpaste at night, choose an option that’s not as intense. Switching to a new toothpaste could help you fall asleep sooner.2. Taking vitamins before bed
Taking a multivitamin helps ensure that your body gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. However, taking your vitamins before bedtime could make it hard for you to fall asleep. The problem becomes even worse when you take a B12 supplement. B12 is an essential vitamin that lets your body turn glucose into energy. If you take it before bedtime, you could find yourself feeling stimulated when you need to settle down. Instead of taking your supplements before bed, try taking them after breakfast or lunch. You’ll get a kick of energy when you need it instead of when you want to sleep.
Finding time for yourself, to recharge and re-focus, is quite the challenge when you have a family in tow. As a parent it can feel selfish to ask for “time off”, but with recharged batteries the time you spend with your children will be much more enjoyable for all of you. There are plenty ways where you can find this “me” time, without doing any major schedule rearrangements.Say no
There is no shame in setting limits. You don’t have to attend every school trip or community event, it’s perfectly alright to say no if you feel you need a break. This also goes for your partner too. Don’t be afraid to decline offers and requests – even if it goes against other people’s expectations. Also, delegate household work to teach your children that they need to earn their pocket money (the fact of this giving you more feet-up-with-a-cup-of-tea time is just a happy accident).
Schedule time off
If you have a problem with finding time for yourself, get it down in black and white and schedule it in. This way everyone will know what to expect and that this time is for you – if something has to be planned, it should be outside of these hours. This can also help to bring a sense of order to an otherwise chaotic life.
“Me time.” It’s something that we all want more of but is the most scarce “time” of all. It usually comes after work, when all chores have been completed, and after ensuring that everyone we care for is okay too. Only then do we look around ourselves and realise that we’ve actually forgotten what “me time” is. I often wonder to myself; What do people do when everything else is done? I pick up my phone, scroll through, but every message has been replied to, every snapchat chatted and every Instagram liked. I open my computer and find that every email has been responded to, every article has been written and my Facebook friends haven’t shared anything new for the last five minutes. I close the laptop again and sigh. I must have finally reached “me time” and it feels odd.Odd, but good. No more lists to do, no more reply to make and no more chores. The house is clean, the family is fed and my “to do” list is in the bin. I love this time. Even though it’s rare, and I may have forgotten how to spend it, I know what I want to do. I want to read. My serenity comes from words. Whether through a great book, on an inspirational blog or in my favourite magazine, the process of reading calms me down, forces me to stop (have you ever tried reading while doing something else? It’s one of the few things that I can’t multi-task!) and usually involves a cup of tea too.I am currently reading Stuffocation by James Wallman. It offers insights into ‘living more with less’ through case studies, economic research, cultural change and psychology and I’m in awe of the stories I’ve read in this thought-provoking book. Focussing less on possessions and more on experiences is a mantra that I’d love to live by and the ideas I’ve read in this book have already inspired me to make changes in my own life. Yes, reading itself gives me serenity, but the things I’ve read have also caused more serenity in my day-to-day life with only a few simple changes.My magazine subscription has just dropped through my letterbox. My favourite journal cannot be beaten; The Simple Things is a monthly tome of relaxation and just living. With gorgeous photography and well choreographed words, every flick-through calms me down, whether I have 1 minute or 1 hour to spend on “me time”. Just turning the thick pages soothes my soul and I’m always delighted by the stunning image revealed on the coming page. Yes, it’s another inspirational article on wellness, appreciating the little things in life and enjoying every moment.Tea is essential. Tea soothes and calms. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any book, magazine or Bloglovin’ browse. It means that I am sitting down and not moving from this spot until I’ve had a good read. Wisps of steam rising from the cup are an added bonus. Mine is milky with one sugar (or sweetener) so it’s a real treat. Yes, I have one by my side right now so I’m feeling pretty good right now. A sip in between pages is key to enjoying a long read, and a refill is the “me time” holy grail. Especially if someone else gets it for you so you don’t even have to move off the sofa. Yes, a good cup of tea can heal any problem and make every moment a little more special.I’m not just a blog writer, I’m also an avid blog reader. I love checking for updates on my favourite blogs and discovering new inspirational writers via Twitter and Blogovin’. Some of my top blogs have been open tabs on my iPad for literally months so that I can flick them on at a moment’s notice and catch the latest article. I’m calmed by the gorgeous photos that bloggers seem to create so effortlessly and a well-written post can beat any book, hands down. I’m inspired by the real life of the writers I follow and am motivated by their endless enthusiasm and ideas. I wish I was them, and I love that I’m part of the blogging community and get to enjoy the kindness of sharing each day. This is definitely one of my ultimate serenity moments; reading stunning content created by inspirational people from around the globe. Amazing.
I’d love you to share your own serenity too and let me know what brings you peace. I’m so interested to find out what you get up to during your “me time” and whether you too forget what you’re ‘supposed’ to do when you get a spare minute to yourself! I found this challenge on the Portmerion Village website and I hope that you too will feel inspired to #shareyourserenity through your own blog and tweet me the link @Cassiefairy so I can have a read. Thanks, chat to you soon.
Us women know only too well how difficult it can be to keep up with the latest fashion trends without forking out an obscene amount of money each month, just to look good without wearing the same go-to outfit multiple times. For many ladies, there is even an unwritten rule which says that when it comes to special occasion dresses, it is poor form to be seen in the same outfit twice.
Whilst I can’t say I agree with this declaration by any means, I do find that wearing a new dress for a significant event does make the whole thing seem more special. But what happens when your bank balance just won’t stretch that far that month? My friends and I have a couple of trusted techniques that keeps us looking and feeling fabulous without the need to splash the cash on the latest looks.
This time of year is always special for me. Not only is it the month of my birthday, Christmas and New Year, but it is also the time of year that I met my husband all those years ago. Our first dates were Christmas shopping, festive coffee breaks and romantic seasonal meals. We spoke on the phone on Christmas day and we officially became girlfriend and boyfriend on New Year’s Eve. So I always start thinking about ‘us’ at this time of year and how far we’ve come since those early days. When we first got together we were both students so we were on a fairly tight budget, and our dates usually involved a thrifty two-for-one offer, a meal deal or matinée cinema showing, but the lack of funds didn’t stop us enjoying each other’s company!
Last week I was invited to join in with a fantastic campaign which encourages women to Live Fearless and I jumped at the chance to take part. As someone who truly advocates going for your dreams and being the best version of yourself, I was delighted that Bodyform picked me as one of their bloggers to take part in a Live Fearless challenge. They believe that women shouldn’t hold themselves back in life, whether it’s taking a daring career step, or simply trying something new and according to their survey nearly half of women admit that just saying ‘yes’ to a new challenge makes them feel ‘fearless’. I completely agree and I said ‘yes’ straight away, without any clue about what the challenge would be. When my challenge pack arrived in the post I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get started!
With 41% of women agreeing that culinary experiences appeal to them most, Bodyform was keen to challenge me to try something new the next time I go out for a meal. I always find myself going to the same places when I’m eating out and I almost don’t even need to look at the menu any more because I pretty-much know what I’m going to eat before I even sit down! Although I’d never really thought about it before, just saying this out loud sounds monotonous and boring to me and I’ve already started to feel more adventurous. It seems like a waste of my time and money if I’m choosing the same meal each time I go out when surely I should be trying something new or going to a different restaurant?Bodyform has challenged me to ‘venture far and go somewhere you’ve never been before’ for my next meal out and although there were plenty of choices in my nearest town, such as Ask Italian, Nandos or Pizza Express, I wanted to follow the brief properly and instead of taking the ‘easy’ option I’m planning a trip to Jamie’s Italian in Norwich. I’m such a huge fan of Jamie Oliver (yes, I’ve already been watching my Jamie’s Christmas DVD to plan my festive meal!) and it would be really exciting to try the dish that Jamie and Genaro Contaldo have created – I’m especially keen to try Gennaro’s tagliatelle Bolognese and found out how a real Bolognese should taste!
Okay, it’s a lot further away to travel to Norwich so it’ll take me longer to complete the challenge, especially as I’m already struggling to find a spare day between now and Christmas, but it’ll be a treat to travel to a distant location, do a bit of exploring around the city’s landmarks and enjoy the bustle of the famous market. Just knowing that this trip is on the cards is making me very excited and I can’t wait to try out something new when I visit Jamie’s Italian – perhaps some antipasti that I’ve never eaten before, such as salami and fennel. I will be sure to let you know how I get on with my adventurous meal and share some snaps of my visit soon!
What have you done to Live Fearless recently? Have you been somewhere new or tried out something you’ve never done before? Do you have a big career move on the horizon or have you booked a far-flung holiday? Please let me know how you are living your life to the full and leave me a comment below or get involved with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #LiveFearless. Plus there are plenty of changes to win fantastic prizes for Living Fearlessly so check out the @bodyform profile on Twitter too and keep an eye out for more chances to win!
I don’t know if you remember, but back in June I wrote about a piece of research I’d read about the career and life goals of women. It seemed to be talking directly to me as it looked into the dreams of the participants and gave an insight into the timescale that women today aim to live their lives by. After reading that three-quarters are women are dissatisfied with their achievements I began thinking about my own life and the things I want to achieve. It gave me a renewed vigour and I wrote about how I wanted to develop my writing career and branch out into new areas, such as writing for different types of websites, magazines and newspapers. So I wrote this ambition, along with a personal goal of learning to swim, on a Post-It note and stuck it to my dressing table mirror so that I would see it every day. I hoped that this would keep me on track as I started working towards these goals and now I want to report back about how I got on.
Well, this week I started on a journalism course. Yes, I signed up, I went ‘back to school’ and I took my first class towards getting a journalism qualification. But that’s not all I’ve been doing towards my goals over the summer; I’ve studied on an online community journalism course and I’ve been writing lots more copy than usual – making sure that I write something every day. I’ve written a couple of articles for other blogs including a more technical piece than usual for The Fairy Blog Mother and a careers article for EventManagementStudent.com. Also, I’ve been SO lucky to be shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award! And next week on Tuesday the 7th October I’ll find out how I got on in the Best Lifestyle Blog category. Just knowing that some more readers might be stopping by my blog as a result of this has made me up my game and be certain that I am completely happy with my articles before they are published. In the past I’ve been a little slack with my proofreading but now I make sure I double-check my spelling and grammar. It’s amazing how often I’ve found mistakes such as duplicate words and misplaced hyphens in my work! When I got the news that I’d been shortlisted, I decided to write an article about why I started my blog in the first place and even writing the this post made me realise just how much I want to achieve this goal and follow my dream. Having that Post-It note reminder has definitely helped me to stay on track so far!
I actually entered the competition by Post-it (who commissioned the research report that I originally read) and encouraged my friends to do the same. The prize is £1500 and it’s called the ‘Make It Happen’ campaign: it’s as simple as writing your dream on a post-it and uploading a photo of it to the website, or even just typing in your goal online here: http://makeithappen.post-it.co.uk and use the Twitter hashtag #postitbrandhappen. I found out that the competition will continue to run until the end of November so there is plenty of time to get your entries in! I checked out the previous winners (one each month so far) and here are some quotes from The Thinking Woman’s Coach and Post-it® spokesperson Jessica Chivers about why they won:
Winner One: “I’ve chosen Caroline Collins who would like to take 48 Raft Foundation volunteers to Kew Gardens. Caroline’s ‘Make it Happen’ is about doing something for others who are in turn doing something for others in their community. There’s so much good feeling being spread here. I wish them a terrific day at Kew learning things relevant to Raft Foundation’s “Grow Wild” project.”
Winner Two: “I would like to select Mark Stapleton who wanted to take Stacksteads Band to the final of a competition in Cheltenham. Music gives pleasure to so many and the band is very active – I think it would be great to fund their ongoing success and wish them well in the competition.”
Winner Three: “I’d like the winner to be Samuel Fairman who looks as though he wants to make it possible for him to go sailing in a wheelchair. I loved his creative ‘ask’ for the money – the Post-its shaped into a boat and a wheelchair in the picture, and the sense of positive resolve to carry on striving and achieving even when things might not be so straightforward.”
I’m carefully avoiding telling you how I got on with my personal goal of learning to swim, and that’s probably because I didn’t do much towards it since June. Okay, I went swimming a couple of times and I practiced a little more underwater swimming than usual. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I usually need a nose-clip and goggles to be able to swim, but this year I learnt how to put my face underwater and swim without a nose-clip. For someone who has never ever put their head underwater in the bath before last year, I think that’s not too bad. I’m getting better at swimming, and practice makes perfect so I guess I’ll just carry on swimming whenever I get the chance and stick at it. One day I’ll be able to do those Olympic turns at the end of the pool!
Have you been learning any new skills recently? What would you like to achieve between now and the end of the year? Let me know in the comments below. And have you entered the Make It Happen competition yet? If not, do it now because it’s so simple – just one sentence could change your life! Good luck with it and with following your own dreams too 🙂
Hello. Welcome to a day in my life. Wait, don’t go – it’ll be interesting, honest! After my ‘personal branding’ lesson last month, I realised that I really did want to share more about myself with my lovely readers and I think it’s only fair that I give you an insight into my daily life as a full-time blogger – then you can imagine me sat all alone with my cup of tea and might think about sending me a tweet or leaving me a comment to liven up my day, haha! Seriously, I’d love to know more about you too so please get in touch, I love to chat 😉 So here goes:
6am Wake up to the world’s quietest alarm clock that sounds like a harp so that I don’t get jolted out of my sleep. I like to float into consciousness, sit up and take time to let the blood circulate around my body before making any kind of move to get out of bed. This is why the alarm is on early – I like to have time and not feel rushed in the morning. I pull on my slippers (I’ve written about them here!) and head into the kitchen where I feed and fuss my cats Cookie and Muffin and make a cup of tea and breakfast, which I take back to bed.
7am Hubby leaves for work and I sometimes go with him to work in the library but often I listen to BBC Radio 2 and start work almost straight away on whatever article or blog post that has popped into my head during the night. I also respond to all my comments or social media messages that have arrived overnight from my USA audience and have a read of all the lovely blogs that I follow, such as inspirational blog LucyLovesYa, vintage fashion articles at My Blue Rinse and photography site Lacey In Places. I try to post my first blog post of the day before 9am because I think it’s nice to have something to read when you get to work 😉 then I open up my emails for the first time and crack on with replying to them.
10.30am I take a tea break to listen to the Popmaster quiz on Radio 2, while having a second breakfast because I’m already hungry by this point in the day. I usually score around 15-21 points on Popmaster – although once I scored 30 and beeped my horn in triumph! (I was driving the car at the time – I don’t have a horn in my house). I research and draft articles for some of the other publications that I write for, then at 12.30 I force myself to leave the computer for a lunch break, cook something proper for lunch and have a rest, otherwise I know I will get tired and be useless for the rest of the day. I will usually read during my lunch hour – either whatever novel I’m reading (at the moment it’s Julie and Julia by blogger Julie Powell) or a magazine, such as my Mensa or Mollie Makes subscription (thanks hubby).
1.45pm I turn on cbeebies every day without fail and watch a 15 minute episode of Something Special. I have been learning Makaton sign language for the past 2 years so this gives me time to practice and I often learn a new sign during the show. Who’d have thought there would be a sign for ‘zipwire’? Well, I know it now! After the show finishes I make a cup of tea and clean the kitchen while singing along to the jingle of the next children’s TV show which I inevitably learn just by accidentally leaving the TV on in the background. At the moment it’s Let’s Play but I particularly enjoyed Mr Bloom’s Nursery – now that is a theme tune!
2pm – 6pm I head out to my workshop (my little vintage caravan) and work all afternoon on a creative project and take photos for the blog, such as a craft DIY, outfit post or interiors shoot. Some days the afternoon will be a trip out to visit an event, place or person and all of this will feed back into my writing somewhere along the line. I check and finish off my emails for the day and clear away my work. I reward myself for a good day’s work with a session on Pinterest before hubby gets home.
10pm A highlight of the bedtime is Cookie joining me as I brush my teeth – she comes running whenever she hears the toothbrush turn on – so I hold out her own cat toothbrush for her to brush her teeth against and she loves it! We chat until we fall asleep – usually my conversation starts trailing off first as I struggle to stay awake to finish a sentence. If I have trouble getting to sleep I follow my friend & fellow blogger Laurie Rose’s advice of clearing my mind and counting to ten, and if a thought interrupts my counting I start again at number one and so on until my mind is so clear that I fall asleep. In fact I don’t ever remember getting as far as ten!
So I hope you’ve learnt a little more about me through this blog post – if only the fact that I’m a workaholic, pin addict who lets her cat brush it’s own teeth.
Although lots of fireworks displays took place over the weekend, today is finally bonfire night and hubby and I have decided to have traditional bonfire-fare of jacket potatoes and chilli for dinner, and build ourselves a little bonfire in the garden. I’ll try to take some photos to share with you all, but in the meantime, here are the photos that we took while playing around with sparklers over the weekend – the bottom one is supposed to be a beach, palm tree & the sun.
Also, I didn’t realise how magical it would be to take my baby nephew to his first fireworks display. I was worried that he might be scared but, safely snuggled up in his daddy’s arms, he was mesmerised by the fireworks and didn’t even flinch at the bangs. I don’t think I watched much of the fireworks display myself, as I was too busy watching his little ‘face of wonder’. He always did like Christmas lights as a tiny baby, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he loves the fireworks too!
Check out my previous bonfire night blog posts below: