Cozy up to hygge

By Jeanne Reynolds

Heard of hygge? This online buzzword (pronounced hue-guh or hoo-ga, depending on the source) is Danish and means a feeling of comfort and coziness. It’s all about enjoying the simple things in life and taking time to notice and appreciate them.

It was big over the winter: Think fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa by the fire. A walk in the park wearing warm mittens. Baking cookies from scratch. Or my go-to: comfy sweatpants, a good book and a glass of wine with some cheese and crackers.

And when I say “big,” I mean one of the hottest home decor trends of 2017 on Pinterest and more than 1.5 million posts tagged with #hygge on Instagram.

But now that we’ve had a week of 80-degree days (in February!) I’m thinking about ways to get all hygge-ied up for spring. Here are some ideas:

  • Flowers: What says “spring” more than new blooms? Cut a couple forsythia forsythiabranches from the yard and put them in a pretty vase on the table. Or buy a pot of tulips or one of those cute miniature azalea or rose bushes and put it in a woven basket for a centerpiece.
  • Food: Oven-roast some fresh asparagus in a drizzle of olive oil until barely done and sprinkle lightly with shaved asiago while it’s still warm. Or bake heart-shaped cookies for your loved ones (my hubby got oatmeal raisin for Valentine’s Day – yum). Sharing simple homemade treats with family and friends is very hygge.
  • Dress: Put on something lightweight and flowy, maybe even sleeveless, and rejoice in the feeling of freedom. If a quick trip to your favorite retailer is required, go for it – no one is judging (so not hygge).heart cookies
  • Read: Put down that dry business book you feel like you’re supposed to wade through to keep up with the other over-achievers and read something you’d normally take to the beach this summer. If you need suggestions, talk to your local librarian (bonus: library books are free!).
  • Move: Most hygge advice seems to involve cuddling up indoors, but I find peace and contentment while appreciating nature. Believe me, you can’t be much more “in the moment” than when you’re about to hit a golf ball. Walk, run or ride a bike. Or if the pollen is keeping you inside for now, take a yoga class or literally shake things up by trying Zumba instead.
  • Clean: I’m guessing scrubbing mildew off my shower isn’t high on the hygge list, but the wonderful feeling I get looking at how sparkling clean it is now should be.
  • Garden: Well, here I go with the chores again, but hang with me: If you don’t have a lightweight battery-powered leaf blower, get one and see how much fun it is cleaning off the drive and walkway. The hygge part comes when I peek out the window – or even walk outside – so I can admire how orderly and tidy it looks. Or plant some new annuals in those tired pots by the door to greet you every day.
  • Unplug: As in put down that phone. This is a big one, and possibly a deal-breaker for some people. But is constantly checking texts and emails and Facebook posts really relaxing and comforting? Most studies show constant use of electronic devices increases stress and interferes with sleep. C’mon, try it for a day … or at least an hour. You might be surprised how little you miss it. Hygge is about connecting with your faves in person.

Most of all, have fun with hygge. It isn’t supposed to be a time-consuming project or another item on your to-do list. There’s no need to redecorate your whole house or spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Give yourself guilt-free permission to take time for the things you really enjoy and you’ll feel hygge. Maybe you already do and just didn’t know it.

A Ministry for Fatherless Daughters

By Chaunte McClure

Admittedly, I am a pro at ‘crastinating and no, I’m not proud of it. I often say procrastinating is my strongest weakness, but hey, I eventually get around to doing what I set out to achieve.

Back in 2015, in the post Why I Wasn’t Aborted, I shared with you that I was interested in starting a blog to reach out to fatherless girls and women. It’s a desire that I’ve had for several years because of my personal story of being a fatherless daughter. I really didn’t have the time to devote to it while I was trying to complete seminary.

Now that I’ve accomplished that mission, I am pleased to finally inform you that in January I launched my personal blog, Say That, Girl!, to finally speak out about fatherlessness. There I share some of the most intimate moments of my life to help fatherless daughters begin to uncover their pain, release their shame, embrace forgiveness and learn to love (their fathers and themselves).

Chaunte McClure blogger

So far, the response has been great and women are contacting me to say thank you and to share how they relate to my posts.

Fatherless daughters come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The common denominator among us is that we lack a relationship with our biological father because he is either absent, unattached or unavailable.

One purpose of the blog is to help us recognize the impact fatherlessness has on our lives so that the effects don’t become lifelong issues.

This is the beginning of a movement for me that will develop into other avenues for ministry and as a fatherless daughter advocate, I will follow God’s lead to spread the message and bring awareness to an epidemic (fatherlessness) that has swept this country.Say That Girl blog on laptop and tablet

Feel free to follow me on the Say That, Girl! blog, my latest ministry venture.

Are you a fatherless daughter? If so, what makes you a fatherless daughter?

Never Enough

By Shannon Boatwright

When you are with the ones that you love so deeply, isn’t it true that you want all the time with them you can get? When we love so dearly, we cannot imagine our lives without certain people. There is never enough time, never enough moments, no matter what. We want to do, be and experience all that we possibly can with the ones that we love.Never Enough

When I think of my family, those special occasions when we get together, we don’t want them to end. Those times when family is accepting, loving, playing and having such a blast together, always seem to go by all too quickly.

When I think of my dearest friends who are like family, we seem to never get enough time together!

When I think of my precious children, there certainly is NEVER enough time.  Time is critical and there is absolutely never enough of it. They grow so fast, change so fast. I want to wrap them up in my arms and never, ever let go. There never is enough time spent with my angel babies. It is brutal, especially considering how quickly time seems to fly by.

And when I think of my husband, My Love, I want to experience so much together! Though I am definitely a woman who needs her alone time, I also cannot stand to be without this man. It’s crazy. I guess true love will do that to a person. There truly are never enough moments to satisfy my need to be with this man of mine.

I’ve written about the brilliant and amazing movie, The Greatest Showman, already. The inspiration this incredible movie provides seems to be boundless.  There’s not a song on that soundtrack that I don’t love.  First musical ever, in fact, where I actually, seriously love every single song!  And the first time I heard the song, “Never Enough”, I knew I had to sing it. It moved me and moves me still every single time I hear it.

I am blessed enough to have a very special relationship with my Mama. And I am beyond blessed that my fabulous Mama is so talented.  I was thrilled to have the priceless experience of performing this song while my Mama accompanied me on the piano. We ended up performing the song for my 8th grade honors students for an in-class talent show at the end of the first semester. It was such a special moment to perform with my mother for my students! The video here is of one of our rehearsals at home. You’ll see that my pup Monte has proven to be one of my very best audience members. Anytime I sing at home, he sits at my side and listens, occasionally giving me looks of complete adoration and utter love.  It’s pretty darn awesome.

My Mama is playing on the very piano that her grandfather gave her when she was a young child. To say it’s special is an understatement.  Now I don’t claim to be anything special or have a good voice, in fact I know it’s not anything of super star status, but I can say that I do love to sing and hope that those that watch the video will enjoy what they hear.

In thinking about this original song, at first listen, one may think, well that’s bold and greedy of this character to claim that life is never enough.  But those that go any negative route are missing the point completely and not truly listening to the meaning.  Check out these lyrics…

I’m trying to hold my breath
Let it stay this way
Can’t let this moment end
You set off a dream with me
Getting louder now
Can you hear it echoing?
Take my hand
Will you share this with me?
‘Cause darling without you

All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough
Never be enough

For me
Never, never

When you look closer, the message is so clear and so beautiful.  We love so passionately, adore and cherish so deeply, that the world is not enough, all the shine of a thousand spotlights, all the stars in the sky, towers of gold, will never be enough to complete the need we have for those that we love, for those that truly complete us, for those that make our lives worthwhile.  We could have the world in our hands, achieving all the riches and successes life has to offer, but it all means nothing, because without those that we love so dearly, nothing else matters!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS_7xCJE5ro&feature=youtu.be

 

Grounds for a New Keurig?

By Mary Pat Baldauf

The last few weeks, I’ve noticed coffee grounds in my coveted cup of coffee at work from my desktop Keurig, which I’ve had for about five years.  First world problem, for sure, but annoying enough to investigate. Given the popularity of Keurigs these days – who doesn’t have one, right — I wanted to share the solution in case you, too, have grounds in your cup.

It turns out that the needle was clogged, and the fix was as easy as finding a paper clip. Lift the handle of your brewer to expose the brew basket (the area that you put the K-Cup® pod in). You’ll see the needle that punctures the bottom of the coffee pod.  Put the straightened end of the paper clip into the needle and gentle move it around and down to attempt to clear any debris.  For good measure, I also removed the brew basket and flushed it thoroughly with water.

While I’m on the subject of my Keurig, I also have to mention their recycling program, Grounds to Grow On. More than once, one of my green friends has chastised me for creating excess waste with those leftover pods. Grounds to Grow On offers workplaces an easy way to collect their brewed K-Cup pods to be recycled.IMG_20180209_165117_846

The process is simple: place your brewed pods in the Grounds to Grow On bin. Once the bin is full, present the bin with its pre-paid shipping label to UPS for pick-up, or drop it off at to any UPS location. Keurig takes it from there, turning the pods into recycled products – like aluminum cans and shipping pallets – and the coffee grounds into compost. There is a small fee for the boxes, but if you’re hard core tree-hugger like me, it’s a small price to pay for a guilt-free cup of coffee.

I heard about Grounds to Grow On from a member of the Midlands Green Business Program, Shealy Electrical. The Midlands Green Business program is a partnership between the City of Columbia, Lexington County, Richland County and Keep the Midlands Beautiful.  This free program recognizes businesses who adopt sustainable and eco-friendly business practices, thus keeping our community cleaner, greener and making it a more beautiful place to live. There are quarterly free networking breakfast meetings, which is more than worth the effort to complete the form and join the network. For information, visit Keep the Midlands Beautiful.

Step by step

I stopped on my way home to order Chinese takeout for dinner the other night. Usually I spend the brief wait time on my cell phone, catching up on email and the next day’s weather forecast.

Not this time. Instead, I headed outside, crossed the road and circled a nearby church parking lot as fast I could walk for 12 minutes. It was dark and a little chilly and possibly not as well lit as ideal safety would dictate, but boy, did it feel good. Because … steps.

My company has been holding a “Walk to Disney” step challenge for the past several weeks. I’m part of a team of four trying to accumulate 904,000 steps to cover the 452 miles from our office location to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 26 days. (Spoiler alert #1: We got there in the first two weeks and are well on the way home.) The Sole Sistas (see what we did there?) are competing against 211 other employees on dozens of teams with cool names like Holey Walkamolies and Cirque du Sore Legs to log the most steps. (Spoiler alert #2: The final results won’t be known for a week after I’m writing this, but we’re looking reaaally good right now.)

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Besides being a lot of fun and burning off some stubborn calories that mysteriously glommed onto my midsection after — not during — the holidays, I’ve learned a lot from this challenge. Some of these are more like duh-huhs but apparently I needed reminding.

 

  1. Being on a team working toward a goal together is both fun and motivating. All the gals in my group were already very active, but none of us wanted to be the “anchor” holding the team back. So we all kicked it up a notch, adding second daily workouts, joining neighborhood walking clubs and obsessively carrying our phones or smart watches to track every possible step. When one team member fell victim to the flu, the healthy ones had her back by adding even more activity.
  2. It’s easy to get complacent. I’ve been a distance runner for decades, usually walk when I play golf, almost always take the stairs at work, lift weights once or twice a week and take an occasional yoga class. But surprise: It wasn’t as much exercise as I thought. 10,000 steps a day? Pfff, piece of cake … not. I found I’d been overestimating my activity and had lots of room for improvement. Hmm, the mysterious holiday pounds might not be so mysterious after all.
  3. People will do anything to win a key chain. OK, that one’s not true. Yes, a company-branded lighted key chain is the only prize all but the top 4 or 5 people will win, but they’re not really participating for the prize. Rather, it’s all about the friendly competition and the challenge of seeing how well you can do. Many departments have their own internal rivalry going on — the top prize is barely on their radar.
  4. Fitness challenges can engage anyone. One of the most exciting things to me about this program has been the participation by the “non-athletes” among us. Evidence: We have walking workstations in a few locations around the building — treadmills with a place to plug in your laptop, so you can walk for 30 minutes while you’re on a conference call or checking email. Use of these workstations skyrocketed when the challenge was announced. Clearly, even people who had little chance of “winning” started stepping it up. Whether for better health or just to be part of a fun event, it really doesn’t matter.

Of course, the real success of the challenge will be if people continue their increased activity long-term. It would be cool if teammates kept in touch and kept each other accountable. Maybe those intra-department rivalries will spark new competitions of their own.

For me, I’m already thinking of ways to maintain at least some of the intensity and focus of the past month. I noticed Ash Wednesday falls just a few days after the challenge ends. So instead of giving up chocolate, I’m going to commit to at least 3 days a week of two-a-day workouts.

There probably won’t be an LED key chain waiting in my Easter basket, but I think I’ve already seen the light.

 

 

Will Sourdough Save Us? Some food for thought

By Rachel Sircy

Some food for thought: An ongoing study is looking into whether or not the fermentation that happens when wheat flour bread dough becomes “sourdough” is enough to break down the gluten proteins in the wheat and make the bread safe to eat for celiacs. According to an article in Gluten Free Living, researchers in Europe have been studying the breakdown of gluten in sourdough bread. Celiac test subjects have eaten sourdough wheat bread on several occasions with no tell-tale auto-immune response, which could mean that a sourdough wheat bread might be created which would be safe for celiacs to eat. Right now, it’s not an option, though, so don’t go out and buy yourself a sourdough loaf if you’re gluten sensitive.

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The other interesting part of this study has to do with the bacteria used to ferment sourdough, Lactobacillus. Apparently, it is a powerful way to start breaking down the proteins in wheat that are commonly known as gluten. (For anyone not yet aware “gluten” is not really a single substance, but a group of amino acids that are commonly found together and which are lumped under the name “gluten.”) Some researchers believe that they may be able to find a way to create a medication made of lactobacillus, or of something similar, which could actually break down the proteins in gluten in food being consumed by a celiac patient. This would mean that celiacs may someday be able to consume wheat bread and take a capsule to stave off any reaction to it. I wouldn’t start looking for such a product just yet, but perhaps there is a light at the end of our gluten-free tunnel!

(FYI: There are many products on the market today which claim to be able to break down gluten. I actually discussed some of these products in an earlier blog post, but let me repeat what I said before:  None of these products are actually safe for celiac patients. Gluten-Ease and other such products are merely for people who believe that they may be sensitive, or who have a mild-sensitivity. They are NOT safe for anyone who has an auto-immune reaction to gluten. They may give some peace of mind to a celiac who thinks that she may have accidentally consumed some gluten, but they do not actually work to stop an immune response from happening.)

 

 

Growing Babies Breaks Momma’s Heart

By Ashley Whisonant

My youngest child, Gray, was born a happy little guy. I had such a smooth delivery with him. I would even venture to say it was easy.

We are coming close to his fourth birthday in the next two weeks. I have mixed emotions about my baby becoming even more of a big boy. He is dying to grow up and do all the things his six year old brother does. I am getting less and less snuggles from him and more independence. It makes me both happy and sad to see him grow up.

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The quote that really stands out is, “Babies don’t keep.”

I will hold onto my baby as long as he lets me.