Thursday, 20 October 2016

To hygge or not to hygge, that is the question?

Here's a round up of all my hygge page posts from last week. Please, do, click through and say hiya. I'm finding Wordpress an interesting use, but I'm not as confident about it as I'd like to me. Any and all visitors warmly welcomed in a very hyggely way!

Just click on the quotes to go through to the page!

Hygge words are cracking to play with. You basically take a concept and add hygge to the front or the back of it; so enjoying shopping is hyggeshopping, time with the family is familyhygge and a list of hygge words is a hyggelist.

October 4th is Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden. I baked buns to celebrate, and this was my post the night before.

My year of living hyggely officially began on October 4th, with the inaugural Recipe Tuesday as well. A recipe for... guess what?.... cinnamon buns.

Contentment at the core... I love this quote. It was a look at whether Hygge is Mindfulness in a Danish wrapper.

My book review of Scandinavian Kitchen's Fika and Hygge book. I love this book, it's a hygge in a book!

Can you hygge on a budget? Oh grief, yes! Hygge is not a consumer life choice, but a heart-felt life path.

That's enough for now! By golly, if half of you click through I'll be impressed... and I would so love any comments on the website!
And if you read and think... well, yes, hygge is for me, then pop over to Facebook where you can join The Hygge Nook. There's no subscription, no selling, no pressure, just a place to meet and talk tea. cakes, hygge and life with other bloggers and people who just want to make the most out of living.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Wednesday Wind Up; Work, hygge and whatever

Oh my Gosh! It feels like I haven't posted a wind up for ages! My little City Cottage is in need of an Autumn tidy up and a clear out of ideas and attitudes. After all, this is where my friends are, not my followers. Here's my wind up;

What am I reading this week?
I'm reading every hygge book going; I have about 7 so far and another one on order for the end of October. The more I read, the more I like and the more convinced I am that hygge is what we do naturally; that all I need to do as a Hygge Ambassador is send people your way; all the homemaking, caring, crafting, living that you do and share on the interweb; that's hygge.

Apart from a mass of Hygge books, I read This House is Haunted by John Boyne. It's a good old-fashioned ghost story in the tradition of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black or Henry James' Turn of the Screw. Eliza Caine loses her Father and takes a job on impulse at a deserted house in Norfolk. You could have told her it wasn't going to end well when the old governess turns out to have been the one who placed the advert, but still Eliza stays.
I found the story fast, paced well, and  designed to give you chills up the back of your neck. I think it suffered from comparison to The Woman in Black and Turn of the Screw, but I think if it were the first of this kind you met, it would be a very good introduction. I've recommended it to my horror loving daughter as a spine tingler.

What have I watched this week?
TV hygge at this time of year is very good! We've watched more as a family the past few weeks than for ages before. Top programmes are Strictly, Poldark, Victoria and GBBO.
Bake Off is still a favourite, mostly because Sarah is still happy to bake a cake for every episode, even if she doesn't actually eat the blooming thing! I think tonight it might be my turn to make brownies or a sticky ginger cake. I can't believe we're on the semi-finals already! It's only just started...

Where have I been this week?
I have spent more time than I care to say this week and last at the Vets. Our guinea pigs caught colds. Pneumonia, actually, so we've been back and forth chasing the right antibiotics that will get rid of the bug once and for all. I've moved their cage into the centre of the house and away from any drafts, stopped lighting my beloved hygge candles for a while and I just keep hoping we get the blighters better. This is Olga, the main sickie Nickie.

How has my spending gone this week?
It would be better without having to pay the vet. And I'm beginning to make sure that the things I need for Christmas are ordered and in, so..... no, not well. I'm looking into hiring the children out as slaves and creaming the profits off them. The children say I do this already, so what's different?

What are my WIPs this week?
I am still crocheting a mermaid's tail for the daughter. I had a sore hand a few weeks ago and I haven't quite got back onto the crochet train yet. I am half way down the straight crochet bit, using two strands of double knitting and a 6 hook. The two strands let me mix and blend the colours, so it does give a beautiful effect. I need to move this further up my To Do list and GET IT DONE. Jill at Emerald Cottage posted about her finished one and I really want to get it done before Winter comes in. Here's as far as I've got;

Any Other Business?
I am nearly shopped up for the Twelve Days of Christmas swap organised by Jo of Through The Keyhole. Only a couple of bits left to get..

And I am still a mad hygge-fiend. Since last we spoke (last week) I have been busy on Twitter and Facebook about it. If you've seen or read anything about hygge you know that it's a mindset of appreciation and enjoying the little things in life. That's what I learned a lot from blogging; to look at and appreciate things more. There are a lot of lovely people out there hyggering away, and I'm enjoying meeting them all, old and new. I'll post up a weekly round up of my hygge posts tomorrow...

If you're interested in hygge, then pop over to my blog, How To Hygge The British Way where I am attempting to live a year in a hyggely way. Doing Danish in Britain, sort of Danglish. Or why not become a hygge-fiend yourself; find The Hygge Nook on Facebook and you can share hyggely quotes, thoughts and ideas in a closed group that is free to join. I started it last Friday and we have 46 people already. Everyone is welcome and I never say no.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Film on Friday; The Holiday

Truthfully, I can watch this movie all year round. I know it's supposed to be a Christmas movie and I know I've probably written about it before on the blog, but I've never done it for Film on Friday and I needed a soft, cosy, warm, cuddling movie this week... yes, you guessed it, I was searching for movie hygge.

I can't believe that The Holiday was released in 2006! That makes it 10 years old, crazy! I do watch it every year at least once, probably more often, but it wasn't until recently that I introduced my daughter to it. She had managed to always be at school somehow when I watched it before... back in the days when I could stick a film on in the middle of the day, do my housework while watching it and be finished in time for the happy ending and cookie making before the kids rolled up. Happy days, eh?

The Holiday was written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who also directed The Intern, Something's Gotta Give and The Parent Trap.  It's a light, romantic comedy that, really, could have been set at any other time of year but has an extra eye-candy dimension because of the season.

Much has been said and much written about the interiors and settings of the film, especially Ivy's cottage, which is beautiful and heartbreakingly not real. Try these posts from Hooked on Houses for the full Holiday hit; Cameron Diaz's Californian Mansion is a beautiful building on a grand scale, but it's Jude Law's Mill House and Kate Winslett's English Cottage that give me the warm and hyggely feeling.

Plot-wise, the film is easy; two women, both weary of their singleton lives, swap houses before Christmas to find love... true love... in the other's home. I'd take Jack Black ahead of Jude Law, but with Iris' cottage.

With Jack Black's natural comedic charm and Jude doing his best 'hopeless charmer' performance (What? Did I charm my way into your knickers? I am so sorry, I was only aiming for the Scrabble game.) the male eye candy ranges from good looking to the cuddliest film star I know. Kate and Cameron play off against each other as neurotic American and English Rose. And Rufus Sewell plays the cad rather well. We watched Victoria the other night and I kept expecting him to fall back into cad mode.
Stars of the film for me are three fold. I love the girls who act as Jude Law's daughters; they're so cute! And Eli Wallach as the screenwriter from days gone by who added the 'kid' to "Here's looking at you, Kid" is a faded and charming old guy. I love how Iris is so sweet and gets herself accepted by him and his crew of reprobates. Filmatic proof that there's life in the old dog, yet!

It makes for ideal ironing, or present wrapping. My last viewing was actually sans vision, as Sarah watched it on the way back from Yarndale. I could probably act in it, it is that much a favourite, but I think it stands up to repeated comfort watching. Surely, like warm blankets, fluffy socks and hot cocoa, there are hyggely movies that just make you relax? Highly recommended as a stress reliever!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

I've started a little shopping...

I can't believe how far behind in Christmas shopping I feel this year! Normally by now I have lists ready and I'm well underway. I think part of the problem is that I haven't been able to get a sensible word from the Lads about what they want, and I am just not prepared to have a go at guessing myself. That, and the money flow is not the best. We are doing well, thank you, but working for oneself as a business, especially one like solicitor, means that you never know whether this month is a feast or a famine.

I thought I would be giving up tutoring, but I still need to keep it up for the next year at least, if only to pay for Christmas. Having a small amount of cash every week just gives me the freedom to know that I will have x amount to spend on y day. It helps. Like Tesco says... every little helps.

But this weekend I finally sat down, notebook and Evernote to hand, and planned the shopping. I still have no idea what the lads want, but they'll have to make do with cold, hard cash. Sarah was much easier; she gave me a list (on the computer; no more beautifully written and cut out of the catalogue lists for Santa, it seems) and told me to get on with it. Well, I have.

And therein lies my next problem. Where can I store it all where she won't find it? How do I get it all in the house past her and.... worst of all.... where on Earth do I find the time at home.... alone... to do the packing? I mean, I know that she and I can make a really good job of doing any wrapping that's not for her, we'll turn the lights down low, put on some Christmas music, have some suitable nibbles and an array of trimmings and get everybody elses' wrapping done beautifully... but where will I find the time/energy to wrap hers? Eh, well. She'll have to take it how it comes.

I have started a new Pinterest board, Gift Wrapping Inspiration, feel free to go and look at it, and if you know any more good wrapping ideas, please send them to me at angeljem5 on Pinterest.

Hygge is MASSIVE

On the Hygge front, I have some exciting news; Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge is answering questions for me As We Speak and I will be posting  the question sand answers on my Hygge blog, How to Hygge The British Way on Saturday 15th October.

That's right! I'm part of Meik's UK Blog tour to promote his brilliant book! I posted a review of the book already on HTHTBW, you can read it here; The Little Book of Hygge By Meik Wiking, and I was twittering about it and hygge (like you do) and an offer came up from the publicist to join in the blog tour and... well, I said yes, because I really do think hygge as a concept is one we all need, but done in our own way. Pop by on Saturday to read the post, and browse the blog.

If you're not already a friend on social media, do, please, come and find me! I am on all sorts of channels;
Facebook as an individual and with my page, How to Hygge the British Way
Twitter as @AngelKneale
Instagram as britishhyggejem
Pinterest as AngelJem5
Come and friend me; I will follow you back as well.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Film on Friday; Bridge of Spies

Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks are two of my favourite actors, and for almost the same reason. They're both ordinary people, and give off the feeling that if you met them in real life they'd be very nice (indeed, Tom Hanks gatecrashed a lady's wedding photos in Central Park while running; he stopped, wished the couple well, asked them their names and had lovely words to say, then posed as they had their official photograph with him before.... and this is the beautifully Him thing.... pulling out his own camera and asking, "Can I have a selfie with you folks? My wife won't believe this!")

They also don't over act. They know how to do nuanced, measured performances using every part of their face. And that ability gets used and used well in Bridge of Spies. With Mark Rylance as a Russian spy, Rudolf Abel and Tom Hanks as the civilian American lawyer James B Donovan who is drafted in to act as an independent emissary to negotiate the release of Gary Powers.

Written in parts surprisingly by the Coen brothers of Fargo and Burn After Reading fame, Bridge of Spies is a good-old-fashioned spy/legal thriller and drama. It garnered a truckload of positive reviews when it was released. The Guardian gave it five stars, and praise was given  to the superb direction of Mr Spielberg, the skillful use of compare and contrast and little touches of humour.... the false family who are all tears and concern until the Russian supremo walks in, when they turn, stiff backed and march off set, their role complete.

The plot is a true story, based on the real life handover of Gary Powers and Rudolf Abel, an American and a Russian respectively, during the real Cold War of the 1960's. You can read the Wikipedia entry for Bridge of Spies here, and people of my mother's generation remember it quite well. It must have been a tense, horrid, fearful time, with two great super powers lining up against each other and playing My Bomb's Bigger than Your Bomb. It's not a 'normal' spy thriller, no John Le Carre but subtle and well plotted. The pacing is good as well, and at no point does it feel like they are rushing on to finish.

Bridge of Spies captures the atmosphere well. It's filmed in murky grey tones that give the whole East Berlin a dingy, dirty post-war feel. Of course, there's a lot of signs of the war. Even 15 years after the end of the war, there are bombed out buildings and the place is less than the Splendid Capital Hitler dreamed of. A particularly gripping moment (in the trailer, so no spoilers here,) is when Donovan is travelling on the S-Bahn over the wall and witnesses a shooting by the East German police of someone trying to cross. I never saw Berlin divided but I did, in 1979, see the border between East and west Germany. It was not a welcoming sight, and the feeling of being watched and, worse still, of being watched by people prepared to kill, was not nice.

We watched the film as a family minus Sarah, who was out at a party. It was good enough to keep the teenage boys occupied. James being, as ever, pleased to watch a fellow James as hero, was most struck by the facts at the end. James B Donovan later went on to be sent to negotiate the release of 1,113 prisoners captured at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. By the time he finished, he had negotiated freedom for 9,000. You can read about James Donovan here.

I would recommend Bridge of Spies if you have enjoyed other legal or spy movies, and don't need it to be action packed. It's no Bourne thriller or Mission Impossible, but rather more like Hunt For Red October. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

How was the weekend?

Fine, thanks. I had a bit of a busy day on Saturday, racing off to collect a daughter from Badminton (the game, not the place; I'm not that rich, you know?) before going to buy some clothes (for Her) from Asda, have an argument in the doorway because she'd lost the receipt and I thought we were going to be accused of shoplifting, before taking Medium Hairy One to the barbers, where he had about half of what I would have said to cut off cut, and then off to visit Ma who was cooking us tea. I hate watching my parents cook. It's one of the most stressful experiences, especially when my Mum limps in with a hot dish in one hand and the cane she is leaning on in the other. It's just simpler, easier and a lot less stressful to have them over to ours.

And Strictly!!!! The one shining moment on a busy Saturday. We watched Strictly with our mouths agog to see what Judge or Ed or Louise would come up with.
Are you watching Strictly again this year? We've completely lost interest in the X Factor, and watch it on record with the  fast forward button close to hand, but Strictly I could actually watch over and over again. I love the dances, the costumes, the music (I sing along to) and the judges. The whole thing, actually. It's proper Family entertainment that keeps three generations of our family women  occupied.

And we have three favourites in our house.

Kev (God) Clifton and Louise Redknapp; beautiful perfection. I loved their Viennese waltz, and how different was Louise's dress, with the fringing? I love the detail that goes into the outfits. Vicky Gill, the designer, is always on It Takes Two on a Wednesday or Thursday and she tells you interesting facts like how many bugle beads are on each dress. It's amazing.

Joanne Clifton and Ore Oduba; You can see that we (Sarah) has a thing for the Clifton family. I think she's a Brexiteer silently, or at least not too fond of the Russian dancers. (joke) She did tell me that she likes Kevin and Joanne because she thinks it's funny to have a brother and a sister both dancing on the same show, with all the competitiveness she thinks that must bring. Dead right, girl. Sibling rivalry is a big issue!

And (my personal favourite) the last pair we are following and rooting for at the moment is;

Judge Rinder and Oksana Platero.

That's right. even in Strictly, the legal world sticks together. Or as Peter put it, "At least it's good to see a lawyer who isn't being called a shark or a rat and who makes us seem a little more.... human." I don't like to upset him, but I'll be surprised if the Judge doesn't get to be a blood-sucking monster for Halloween.... or a Vampire, whichever suits him best.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Blogger, why are you messing with my head?

I keep writing posts at blogger, and changing them, and having multiple posts show up in my post shelf, some of which are on the blog and some of which aren't. I am not a happy bunny. And it's not just this blog; I run Peter's blog on Blogger as well, and Sarah has started a blog to run alongside her business GCSE project. And they are all playing the same game with me; every blinking draft I write gets stored on the post index. I need to take a closer look at the settings. There must be something I've fiddled with.

Anyhoo. On to business. How are you all? I am well, thank you, and working hard. We have a case management system which I haven't been able to use until today... and now I have a log in and all of a sudden Peter's come over all efficient and telling me to do stuff like payment letters and requests for medical records. Honestly, you'd think he pays me to do his donkey work...... oh, wait... yes, actually he does. And the promise of a cut of any profits at some undefined future date. This time next year, my son....

But for now I'm still safe squeezing out a minute or ten to write my own stuff. I'm enjoying writing about hygge and there are a few posts up on my hygge blog that I shall draw your attention to later. But it strikes me that this big fuss about hygge has passed craft bloggers by mostly, and for good reason. Many of the blogs I read and follow instinctively practise hygge anyway. Y'all keep house with the idea that the family come first, and that the little things in life are worth a million. You celebrate having cosy houses and cosy crafts and there is so much calm chilled-ness in my corner of the blogosphere that it is wonderful. I'm enjoying experiencing the feeling that although we never had a name for it, it's something we already do.

How's my week? Well, I'm stuck on my crochet. I had a sore hand a couple of weeks ago that was really painful, and my joints were aching, so I stopped for a while, which is a real pity because my daughter has asked me to make something especially for her. It is a.... (wait for it....)

Mermaid's Tail. They're big at the moment. And we had the wool because the blanket for her bed that I started last year was so boring, I never did more than 10 rows. I frogged it and started again. It's not much further on than this photo which was taken back at the start of September, but when it's finished it will look like this;

The mermaid's tail pattern is from Yarnutopia, who also has a handy Youtube video that you can watch for more hints. I'm using stylecraft DK, instead of aran weight mostly because I didn't have the cash to splash on aran and I did have a pile of DK wool sitting around in all sorts of fishy sea sort of colours. I'm using two strands together and a nice thick hook, so it's really warm and cosy. Very hyggeligt!

And that's actually really about it. I never realised that full time work was so full time! I still have a couple of tuition lessons to do as well, and with a house to ignore it's just work, work, work. Still really enjoying it, though. It's never boring.

If you'd like to read more about hygge and the hygge sensation that's sweeping the nation, then please head over to How To Hygge the British Way. I tend to be a little more regular there (while it's new and I'm building it up). Recent posts have been;

A review of The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Why every town needs a Hygge Ambassador (and why we'd be perfect for the job!)

I write this with my woolly tights on... about how hygge doesn't cost megabucks. It's not a shopping list to buy, it's a life list to be.

And Season of Mists and Mellow Hyggeness about Autumn and how good Autumn hygge can be. I'm looking forward to writing the posts about Winter hygge, Christmas hygge and all the other hygges that you will nod and go, "Yes, we do that already" to. Please pop by and read, and comment here or there if you like, and comment if you don't. I don't mind criticism. It's part of my world.

And please do find me on social media;
Instagram as britishhyggejem
Twitter as @AngelKneale
Pinterest as Jo Kneale or angeljem5
It would be lovely to hear from you all over the place!