DIY Hygge Christmas Decorations

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve been so into the Christmas spirit. I have also been very into the concept of hygge. Hygge, (pronounced Hue-guh) is the Danish word which encapsulates coziness, comfort, and enjoying the simple pleasures. Think Scandinavian coziness in the simplest, most romantic form. Hygge is a feeling, it's an experience, it is not a thing, or related to possessions. It's about cultivating that feeling, and then being present to experience it. Hygge is enjoying a warm cup of coffee in the morning enveloped by a cozy robe or blanket. It's the smell of dinner cooking, or the candlelight that dances over a dinner shared with loved ones. Hygge is about slowing down, and savoring the moment. The simpler and more inexpensive something is, the more hygge it is. Hygge and the holidays really go hand-in-hand, so I thought I’d try my hand at making some very simple, very inexpensive holiday decor DIY’s. Keep on reading for all of my ideas.

Holiday Greenery Swag

This was so simple to make. I simply gathered a branch from our noble fir tree, a couple of pine branches found in our friend’s backyard, and a sprig of eucalyptus found at our local farmer’s market. The key is to strip the leaves/pine needles from the ends, arrange your greenery, and then tie them together. I loved using some of the gift wrapping ribbon/string. You can make these little bitty to hang from door handles in your home, or large to hang on your front door. So simple, so hygge, and so good!

Windowsill Vibes

Scandinavian decor often includes a single candle in the window, so I thought I’d recreate my own spin on that tradition with some simple tea light candles and candle holders. The little candle holders were found at Cost Plus World Market for 99 cents each, and the tea lights were bought in bulk for less than 50 cents/candle. I also added a couple sprigs of rosemary to the windowsill because I thought it looked pretty, but you could do pine branches as well.

Rosemary Bouquet

I don’t know why, but for some reason spiky greenery feels very holiday to me. We have a rosemary bush growing outside our house so this was so easy to create. I don’t know why, but I’ve never thought of using rosemary displayed in home. The trick is to pull the leaves off the bottom so it looks less like a cooking ingredient and more like a decor item. This little glass vessel was found at World Market for $2.99. Such a great deal!

Minimalist Christmas Tree Ornaments

I kept seeing these little minimal ornaments on my DIY searches and had to recreate them! I bought glass ornaments from Michael’s on sale 50% off so a set of 8 ornaments cost $3.50. Then I simply used a few cuttings of eucalyptus and noble fir left over from the holiday greenery swag DIY. Measure the size of cuttings you want, drop them into the ornament and place the top back on. It’s that simple. I also want to play around with some gold paint dropped into the bottom of the remaining two ornaments I have.

Gift Wrapping

I love brown paper packages tied up with string! I also love placing a little bit of tree cuttings under the bow. It’s an idea I’ll never get tired of. So simple but beautiful. You can find the brown paper here and red and white bakers twine here. The silver ribbon was found at Michael’s.

Hygge is all about simplicity, coziness, contentment, and handmade! Get creative, and remember you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your home beautiful for the holidays. A few candles glowing with some simple sprigs of rosemary will do the trick!

Simple Pleasure of the Week: Finding beauty in the Everyday

Finding beauty in everyday things is a big simple pleasure for me. This picture was taken during a walk, on a rainy morning. I stopped and noticed how pretty these wet leaves looked pasted against the black concrete. There’s beauty to be found almost everywhere if we train the mind and the eye to notice it. Happy Weekend!

Small Habits of Happiness

These are some habits I practice on the regular to nurture my own happiness. Sometimes, you have to choose happy, you have to choose healthy, and you have to choose balance. Happiness is a practice, not a destination you arrive to. Hope these habits help you through your holiday season!

Winter Hygge

I am getting pumped over here for winter! The hubbs and I have decided to have an extra simple Christmas this year with lots of homemade gifts, hygge, and coziness inside with the pup. Do you have any winter hygge musts you’re planning on enjoying this season?!

Simple Pleasure of the Week: Dark Chocolate

How have I never posted about dark chocolate before? It’s seriously one of my favorite simple pleasures. Matt and I have dark chocolate almost every night as a little indulgence. I love mine with almonds, and at least 85% cacao. I love the fact that dark chocolate bars are so easy to take places, and so easy to share with others. This is surely a simple pleasure many of you can appreciate. Happy Weekend!

The Collective's Favorite YouTube Yoga Channels

YouTube Yoga has really changed the game. While, I know it’s not the same as practicing in a studio, surrounded by your community, YouTube yoga has truly made yoga accessible to anyone who has access to internet. When Matt and I were transitioning towards building our own yoga practice, we often practiced YouTube yoga classes in our living room. It was there where we learned the basic sun salutations, until we could eventually practice them on our own. I must also mention the amount of priceless knowledge available from big name yoga teachers, I would never be able to access were it not for the internet and the YouTube platform. Below are my favorite yoga channels. True to YouTube, all of the content is free. Hope you find something you love:

  • Alo Yoga - Although this is a brand channel, I really appreciate the focus on free yoga classes and workshops provided with only whispers of brand marketing thrown in. With so many yoga subscription services these days, this channel has managed to provide free content by big name yoga teachers. The quality and aesthetic of the videos is also professional-grade which is always appreciated.

  • Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga - This is definitely an Ashtanga-based yoga channel and it offers tons of yoga class videos, as well as interview, lectures, and workshops offered by some of the biggest names in the Ashtanga yoga community. I have learned so much from these videos about technique, philosophy, and anatomy, all for free, all from the comfort of my home.

  • Sigismondi Photography - This is the channel I go to when I want to fall in love with yoga again. If you are needing inspiration to begin practicing, check out this channel. The video selection ranges from short yoga classes to artistically shot videos of yogis doing amazing things. All of the videos are beautiful and of the highest artistic quality IMHO. This channel is not to be missed if you love yoga.

  • Yogi Approved - Yogi approved was a yoga blog, which has now been acquired by Wanderlust. However, the channel is still alive, offering free, professional quality yoga class videos, interviews, educational content, and product reviews. If you want a channel that includes the entire yoga lifestyle, this is the channel to reference.

  • Cat Meffan - Cat Meffan is a professional yoga teacher/YouTuber/social media influencer. She provides quality vinyasa yoga class videos, product reviews, and personal videos. From yin classes, to sweaty power yoga to meditation videos, there’s sure to be something on this channel that’s up your alley.

  • FightMaster Yoga - This channel provided the Ashtanga yoga class Matt and I practiced in our living room before discovering our Ashtanga studio. This is a yoga class-based channel, with a nice variety of Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga classes ranging from all different levels and time lengths.

Are there any channels I’ve missed? If you have suggestions let know in the comments below!

The power of Compassion

I’ve talked about the importance of empathy here on the blog, but haven’t spent as much focus on the value of compassion. I, myself am only beginning to truly appreciate compassion and the power it has to completely transform the way we relate to life, to others, and to ourselves. Dare I say it may be as important, if not more important than empathy. Empathy is what you feel AS somebody. Compassion, according to psychology today, is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself. It’s also the desire to end the suffering of others or of oneself. Compassion often involves love, and kindness, and humility, and forgiveness, and most importantly, understanding, all feelings that only improve our mental and emotional state. Compassion creates unity rather than separateness. Sympathy is what you feel towards somebody, and though it’s meant with good intention, creates separateness, and can make the recipient feel more alone. The key element for compassion is that you don’t get lost in the feelings of the other person, or of yourself! When one is practicing compassion, they are coming from a place of power, because they are separate from the emotion, observing the emotion, or observing the suffering. They might even be observing the irrational thoughts and fears that are creating the suffering, all the while understanding how the person or the self might be feeling without getting lost in the feeling themselves. How cool is that? Compassion is powerful!

I recently heard a wonderful example of compassion on The Lively Show podcast that illustrates the difference of compassion and empathy beautifully. Jess Lively used the example of a child, who’s scared of the monsters in the closet and the mother, who practices compassion towards her child. The mother, if she were feeling empathy, would also be afraid of the monsters in the closet. The mother practicing compassion, understands her child is scared of the monsters in the closet. She knows there’s nothing to be afraid of, she’s not afraid herself, and yet she’s able to comfort and identify with her child, and have understanding of the child’s fears. It’s a nonjudgemental stance, and the child ends up feeling supported by the mother and understood, while the mother doesn’t get lost in the fears of her child. The mother practices love, and the child is able to feel that love, and simply by feeling that love, the child feels a bit better. That’s the power of compassion.

Compassion doesn’t have to equate to a “saving” or to any actual action, really, it’s more about a feeling, a way of relating towards someone or to yourself. Imagine if we practiced compassion towards others when we realize how ridiculous they are being rather than getting frustrated. If we could realize that, for them, they are lost in their feelings, or in their irrational beliefs/thoughts, and with love, without getting caught up in their stuff, could wish for the end of their suffering, or for the end of those thoughts/beliefs. This is a much healthier way of relating, one that fosters positive emotions rather than negative ones. Imagine how this could transform your relationships with yourself. If, every time you felt sad, or mad, or scared, you sent yourself compassion, all the while knowing, in the back of your mind these feelings are real, but they are just like the monsters in the closet, knowing there’s nothing to be afraid of, but understanding that you are simply stuck in that emotional place for now. We are human. It is the nature of the mind to think irrational thoughts, to become upset about things that don’t truly matter, and to go through times of fear, and doubt. We can help ourselves and we can help others simply by practicing compassion during those times.

Compassion, also called Metta in buddhist practices, can be utilized as a meditation, or as a daily practice. When I am feeling a particular amount of resentment towards someone. I try to practice compassion. I send them good wishes in my mind. I wish for the end of their suffering and for that person to be at peace. I also wish for myself to be at peace, because let’s face it, resentment doesn’t feel good. Anger doesn’t feel good. Fear doesn’t feel good. People rarely wrong others when they are happy, content, and at peace. And when we feel sad, or resentful, or angry, we aren’t at peace. Thus, the person who’s wronged, and the person who has been wronged both need peace, both need compassion.

Below is a mantra I use for practicing compassion (Metta):

May I be at peace

May I be happy

May I be free from suffering

May all beings be at peace

May all beings be happy

May all beings be free from suffering

Feel free to substitute the (all beings) for a specific person, if need be.

Want to learn more about Metta Meditation and how to practice it? Check out my old post below:

Metta Meditation and 5 Ways it Can Improve Your Life