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Creating ‘Hygge’ in my South African Home.

8 April 2020

I was chatting via message with Matilda this morning, and sharing my confusion and fears about the state of the world at the moment. She responded by saying she’s minimising how much of the media coverage of our current state of affairs, she’s choosing to take in. I admire that. I wish it was me. I teach others to just ‘be’ and to take a moment at a time, but I truly find it difficult to do for myself. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by “The Mustards”, and they were chatting about how to create ‘hygge’ at home, so after chatting with Matilda, I first went for a walk. It was much needed.

So what did I learn about ‘hygge’. It’s a Danish word for all things cosy. The Mustard’s describe it as the prevailing essence of one’s home. It apparently gained notoriety in 2013 or so, as a concept of what most Danish homes ‘feel’ like. Directly translated, it means a hug. It’s associated with all those great aspects of comfort and joy. This got me thinking. I don’t have an ugly home. I love my space. My home is filled with things that bring me peace and comfort, for the most part. The things that does destroy my peace, is an untidy, messy home. So, whilst on my walk, I made a decision to change up how I’ve been maintaining my home since lockdown. Let me explain a bit better.

I find light brings me joy, especially soft light. This little space in my bedroom, conjures up ‘hygge’ for me.

Prior to lockdown, I had a housekeeper that came in four times a week. Because I knew she would come in often, I really didn’t pay attention to what was needed to actually maintain a desired level of cleanliness and tidiness in my home. My housekeeper hasn’t been in since the 3rd March. This is now the seventh week I’m doing my own housework. My daughter who lives with us, helps me with the tasks, but we usually do it every Monday and Friday. I made a decision whilst out walking, that I am going to break the work up, and do a little bit every day and that way, stay on top of things and don’t let anything get out of control. This way, I can be more relaxed and actually enjoy my space. I also realised that I was allowing myself to become anxious and overwhelmed by the tasks.

So today, after getting back from my walk, I put a load of washing in, swept the floors, changed the bin bags upstairs and gave the floors downstairs, a quick mop. All of this, didn’t take me 45 minutes, yet I felt accomplished, peaceful and able to sit down in peace to have my brunch, without thinking about unfinished tasks.

Taking a bath with soft candlelight, brings me joy.

It also occurred to me that there are areas in my home, that bring me a sense of coziness. My bathroom is such a place. I love going in there, lighting candles and having a bubble bath with lovely scents. I enjoy the quiet in there and especially love the sensation of water on my body, washing away the dirt of the day and swirling around my skin in a way that makes me feel most alive. A deep, warm bath, with zero noise besides the soft splashing of the water, is soothing to my senses.

I discovered that there’s a spot in my sitting room where the rays of sunlight in the morning, are muted and gentle, that is cosy to me. I enjoy sitting there, having my morning tea, pondering the day ahead. It’s not a particularly quiet spot, especially with my three year old granddaughter all over the house, but it’s aesthetically pleasing to me. The soft light, is again soothing.

Another favourite space is my bedroom, especially when my bed is made up. It’s something I always tend to do – when I get out of bed in the morning, I immediately make up my bed. This brings me joy. I’m not the type of person that can sleep in an unmade bed, and if I need to go upstairs during the day and enter my bedroom, the sight of it made up for the evening, brings me a sense of satisfaction. I love the smell of fresh linen, so changing the linen each week, is important to me.

Knowing what brings me joy, what creates an atmosphere of coziness in my home, helps me to shift my focus from the outside world, the world I can’t control and the things that conjure up fear in my heart. I simply lay down on my bed in the evening with a book, or put on the telly to watch a favourite series, switch the soft lamp on next to my bed, and bathe in the awareness of the peace that surrounds me there. As Matilda mentioned this morning, I cannot change what’s happening ‘out there’, so I’m making the conscious choice to deliberately center my life around those things that indeed bring me inner peace and joy. And, as we often discover when we take the time to go inward, it’s the little things – and that for me is the light. To be more precise, soft, flickering, creamy, barely-there, downy light.

Belinda xo

Re-wearing Items from my Capsule

28 April 2020

I never thought that having a capsule closet would prove such fun. Not only is it quite a bit of fun, it’s also versatile and most of all, I love knowing exactly what’s in my closet to wear. It makes getting ready in the morning’s such an easy task. I know, I know… We aren’t all getting ready every day. I’m also not doing this every single day, but for the most part, I’m making an effort. Because we’re not running around, meeting people, and going out, my clothes van be re-worn as they’re just not getting dirty. Hence the experiment of re-wearing pieces from the previous day, to prove to myself (not any of you), that this capsule really is as versatile as other ‘experts’ say.

I started out with a pair of viscose trousers from Woolworths. I had three pairs of these trousers in different colours in my closet. I took this neutral one out for my capsule, as it goes with almost everything else I’d selected for this particular capsule. They are comfortable and fit my petite frame well. I do think they’re supposed to be more cropped, but they fit me at a flattering place just above my ankle, so they work well for me. I wore them with a pair of espadrilles and this greyish/green boucle top. I decided to re-wear the top on the second day, this time with a pair of black jeans. These jeans are a little tight for me around my waist and thighs, but they didn’t used to be, so hopefully, once we get moving again, I’ll tighten up this area again. I changed out the neutral espadrilles for a pair of pearl-encrusted black espadrille slip-ons. For Look 3, I kept the black jeans and slip-ons, and just changed up the shirt. This is a peasant style, embroidered shirt. It’s not really the fit I go for any longer, but I do find the colours are perfect for my closet and the style works for my shape.

In Look 4, I leave the top untucked and add a relaxed pair of light wash denims. I swap out the espadrille slip-ons, for a pair of leather slides. As you can see here, although there’s quite a bit of material in this top, it’s soft enough to not be too voluminous, so it can be worn this way without it adding too much bulk to my frame. In Look 5, I kept on the light wash jeans, and added a striped, bat-wing tee. I gave it the slightest tuck in the front but these jeans are quite low-cut, so I don’t want to bring too much attention to this part of my body. I have a rectangular shape. In this look, I also swap out the black leather slides, for a pair of white ones. This is an easy look to wear and I’m glad I didn’t get rid of these jeans. There have been quite a few times I’ve wanted to, but end up keeping them as I don’t have another pair in this wash. They are by far, not my most flattering pair, but it’s all in how you wear them.

Look 6 is one of my favourites. After uploading these photos, I became aware that the shirt didn’t look great in this look, but in real life, it works so well. I should have straightened the shirt up, and it would’ve been more evident how lovely this look worked. These pants are also not a high rise, but the hit me just under my belly button, so not the worst part of my body, being the rectangular shape I am. They should also be more cropped, but I admit, I like this length on me. I tucked the shirt in all the way, I love how it turned out. Adding a pair of sneakers to this look, amps up the casual vibe and it’s my favourite look of all the ones I created.

In Look 7, I kept the white trousers on, changed up the shoes for the neutral espadrilles again and added a very lightweight, beige knit. This is also a look I love. I do think these white pants work well in my closet. It’s an easy look, and looks casual but elevated by wearing this knit. In the next look, I kept the knit on, and added this skirt. I have a feeling this skirt is the oldest piece I have. It was purchased in 2006 from Woolworths. It’s 100% linen and has washed so well. It has these diagonally cut panels, that I think are very flattering. The bottom of the skirt flows outward ever so slightly at the bottom. In this look, because of the diagonal cut of the skirt, I tucked the knit into only one side at the top. This makes the look feel balanced and proportionate to me. Adding the pair of tan, leather slides, gives this outfit a little bit of interest and adds a little ‘colour’.

In Look 9, I kept the blue floral skirt but this time, added a navy tee with a navy blazer. I like the long line of the blazer, as this skirt is also a longer length. Although I feel this look does work with these flat, white leather slides, I do think a heeled pump in a darker shade, perhaps also navy, would be the most complimentary. It would also have helped to give me some height. Look 10 sees me keeping this navy tee on, adding my favourite pair of light wash jeans and a pair of navy, criss-cross slides. This is pretty much my standard outfit. I always gravitiate towards jeans and a tee, or a shirt.

So what are your thoughts? Have I chosen the items for this capsule well? I feel they all sort of work with each other. There’s definitely a ‘blue’ theme in this capsule, but that’s why I feel it works so well. The pieces work together. For me, this capsule has helped me want to get dressed most days. If not for this capsule, I honestly feels I woudn’t have bothered too much about that.

Belinda xo

Change

It was my turn to write a blog post yesterday. We usually have our posts ready in advance and neither of us like to rush. I especially need Belinda to read my posts before I publish, because English is my second language and I often make grammar mistakes. But yesterday I felt under the weather and stayed in bed all day. Belinda has an amazing work ethic and that helps me to stay committed. I do like to be dependable and it is important for me to do what I said I would. I also feel guilty to stay in bed with a head cold when there is a pandemic raging.

To find a subject to write about when my sinuses are this pressurised is giving me some difficulty. You know when you bend over and it feels as if your teeth will all fall out and your eyes are going to pop – that’s me at the moment. We live in an industrial city in a province with the highest levels of air pollution in the world, with the nitrogen dioxide levels being the biggest contributor. That’s according to Greenpeace. We live in the midst of South Africa’s so called coal belt. With many coal-fired power stations surrounding our city. Everyone living here suffers from some kind of chronic ailment. My one son uses a chronic nasal spray. For him and for me it is all in the sinuses. I can’t wait to move away from here. Anyway, enough moaning about that.

Change can be really difficult. Sometimes we don’t have a choice – like being in lockdown, but mostly change start with a feeling of dissatisfaction. An overall discontent with something specific, or in my case – life in general. I have a blanket of annoyance over me and I think I am not the only one. With all activities stopped so abruptly we all are re-evaluating what the things are that give our lives meaning.

In all honesty, I don’t think that I am contributing greatly to life. I do understand that I am important to my family and friends. I know they love me, but is that enough? Our lives are flooded with images and ideas and opinions via social media. Anybody can put anything out there. That is very good, but also very bad. It gives almost everybody an opportunity to contribute to the global consciousness, but not everybody should. And a lot of it is just regurgitating what you see. I want to believe that almost everyone has something meaningful to give to the world. I want to be one of those people. I feel it and Belinda feels it – we want to do things differently. We want to give something to life that is good, purposeful and significant.

I look through social media and see the eco-warriors and the human rights activists – people doing good and exposing evil. And of course, we are seeing essential personnel in a new light. They are the heroes of our time. What will the rest of us be?

Matilda xo

Exploring my Capsule Wardrobe

21 April 2020

5 Options with One Dress

In my first capsule wardrobe that I’ve ever created, I only chose one dress. I think it has more to do with the fact that we’re in Lockdown and unable to go out, than anything else, because the fact is, I love dresses, especially this time of the year. I chose an extremely comfortable and easy-to-wear dress made from a stretchy, tee-shirt material that is simply put, almost lounge wear!

Simple grey/off-white striped tee shirt dress.

The dress, seen in Look 1, is a knee-length, round-hemmed dress, with grey and off-white stripes and pockets. Pockets are always a win. We see everyone who loves a comfortable kind of style, loves pockets. I’m not really sure why because we definitely don’t walk around with our hands in our pockets, but they’re fun for taking photos. In Look 1, I just added a pair of easy-to-wear, white leather slides for a completely casual look. So let’s take a look at some of the other looks I was able to create with this one piece from my capsule wardrobe.

Adding a longer length blazer with slip-on mules.

In this 2nd Look, I tried to dress the dress up, excuse the pun… It was totally intentional. This is not really the kind of dress I would ever try to dress up. I’m not that crazy. I one hundred percent agree this is a loungy kind of dress. But for the sake of this capsule wardrobe, I did give it my best shot. And to be very clear, this blazer only made it into this capsule, because of a challenge we did with some ladies over on Instagram. It would not have otherwise formed part of this very casual collection of pieces. I think the pearl-encrusted espadrille slip-ons, give it a nice touch though. They add to the overall look I was trying to create, giving this outfit just a little something extra.

Adding a simple Chambray shirt

A Chambray shirt works well, no matter what season it is, especially if you live in a country with a mild winter. This shirt underneath a knit, or even layered over a rollneck, will look great. You can button it up, leave it open, tie it as I did here or even add a belt over it, to bring some definition to the waist. However you wanted to style this shirt, you will find yet another way. So back to this look. Look 3 was created for exactly that reason – to bring some waist definition. On it’s own, this dress is rather shapeless, so tying the shirt at the waist, brings some kind of balance and proportion to this look. In hindsight, looking back at this photo, I think adding a belt over the shirt, or even just over the dress with the shirt open, would have given it a neater, more polished look. But this look works perfectly for a day lounging around at home, with no other place to be. The casual, neutral espadrilles don’t really add anything to the look, but they do complete a casual outfit, so they work regardless.

Adding a layer with a denim jacket

Who doesn’t love a denim jacket? This has to be one of the most versatile pieces in a casual-girl’s wardrobe. It works perfectly with this dress, in my humble opinion. The proportions are also great for my frame. I have a rectangular shape, with very little definition at my waist, so hitting me at the hips, is not a bad look. I don’t have wide hips at all, so this adds no volume there. The colour of the jacket goes perfectly with the underlying colour of this particular capsule. Adding the sneaks, keeps this look sporty and of course, you know it by now, very casual. I think of all the looks I created, Look 4 would have to be my favourite.

Tonal Casual with a grey cardigan.

This cardigan is my favourite one at the moment. It’s snuggly, cosy and warm – all the comfy vibes. I added a pair of closed slip-ons to once again, you’ve got it, keep this look casual. Again, I don’t think this cardigan adds too much bulk, even though it is a bit chunky. It hits me at the right spot. Pulling up the sleeves, adds once again to the comfy look I’m going for. All in all, this tonal look works for me. I just need a little self-tan so my legs don’t completely blend in with the closet and floor!

There you have it. Five ways to wear a comfy dress during lockdown. I hope these looks inspire you to try new outfit ideas with your own wardrobe. This is not the time to be adding more ‘stuff’ to our lives, but to be truly taking stock and appreciating all we already have and love. Now, go and get started in your own wardrobes – and have fun!

Belinda xo