How Do You Hygge?

Am I the last person on earth to learn about hygge?


On the Oxford Dictionary’s short list for 2016 Word of the Year, hygge is a lifestyle trend that has apparently made a splash in the last year or so in the U.S.

Hygge (pronounced something like HYOO-guh) is a Danish word with no exact translation. It is a feeling, a mood, an experience – deriving joy from life’s simple pleasures.

As best I can glean from my tiny bit of extensive research, hygge denotes coziness, contentment, simplicity, and peacefulness. A combination of the people, places, and things that make you happiest.

No electronics allowed.

Hygge is something that the Danish people take pride in elevating to an art form.

Hygge can be as simple as a cup of coffee enjoyed while wrapped in your favorite blanket, curled up in your favorite chair.

blanket and coffee

Or it can be, like feng shui, a guiding design principle for your home or office.

While previously ignorant of the concept, it seems I have had my hygge-groove on around our house for a while.

After having moved a number of times, one gets really, really tired of “stuff”. Stuff to pack and unpack, stuff to arrange, stuff to dust and stuff to move aside to make room for new stuff.

Since retuning to Chicago, we have purged our shelves of tchotchkes and are trying to create a relaxed and (without even knowing it) hygge home.

Sure we have pictures of family and friends and a few sentimental objects around the place but these are things that bring us joy – add to the hygge in our home.

Oh, wow! Now I’m really in the groove. Soon I will be a hygge expert!

Even my daily rituals suggest a bit of hygge. I have a few favorite coffee mugs which bring back great memories related to particular trips or experiences.

Cowgirl Coffee mug

And some that just amuse me.

Shhhh there's wine in here

A cup of coffee in one of these mugs starts my day off right.

All day, every day, I have one of my beloved Nest candles burning. The delicate aroma makes the house feel cozy to me.

Nest Candle

My monthly “girls’ night in” get-togethers are overflowing with hygge. They are always meant to be casual, low-key evenings spent catching up with dear friends.

Girlfriends Gather Here

Last month we had “Soup and Pajamas” night to which my pal, Mare, wore her green, full-length, fleece onsie. If that’s not a hygge outfit I don’t know what is.

My sister-in-law has an extraordinary talent for creating hygge. If I didn’t know that she was 100% Irish, I might assume that she was Danish.

This gal has an extremely stressful, high-stakes, high-power job and needs every ounce of hygge she can get.

As often as possible, she will end the day by lighting candles all over her living room, grabbing a glass of wine and a cozy throw and taking time to breathe and decompress. The hygge is at its peak when this scene includes family and friends.

Fire Pit


Living in California means that she can enjoy outside hygge year-round where the candles are replaced by a firepit but the wine, cozy throw and loved ones are still part of the equation.

The concept of hygge, according to the Danish Ambassador, is a type of meditation – even done in a group – during which polarizing subjects are off limits in favor of focusing on what makes us happy.

I guess we all have stress, turmoil, and angst in our lives to one degree or another from time to time…or constantly.

It seems we can all use a little more hygge in our life.

How about you? Have you heard of this lifestyle movement? How do you hygge?

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Traditions And Prognostications – The McLuxies

I love traditions.

As some of you know, among our family’s traditions, my very favorite is

The McLuxies

Way back in 1992, our pal, Ellie, came up with the idea of a prognostication competition in which we would predict the outcome of a series of events during the year and whoever had the highest number of correct predictions at the end of the year would be declared the winner.

the first McLuxies

The very first McLuxies. The notation in the corner says “at Lux’s 1/1/92”.

As you can see on this very low-tech scoresheet, that first year we predicted only 4 categories: Super Bowl, World Series, Presidential election (ironically, the other “Clinton” was running that year) and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Every year since 1992, Ellie and her husband, Archie, Peter and I, and our two children have made predictions and kept score. Along the way, our children have gotten married and their spouses joined in on the competition.

Like all good traditions, this one needed a name. Ellie, creating a mash-up of our surnames, coined the moniker “McLuxies”.

We even have hats.

McLuxies Hat

For many years the winner got nothing more that a feeling of moral and intellectually superiority.

Now we have a trophy.

McLuxies Champion

Please note the plaque on the front bearing our motto:

“Peritia, Fortuna, et Conjectura Temere”

Loosely translated: “Expertise, Luck, and Random Guesses”.

As we’ve gone along, our list of predictions has grown. We have permanently added:

  • NCAA Football Champions
  • NCAA Women’s and Men’s Basketball Champions
  • Master’s Golf Tournament Winner
  • Stanley Cup Champion
  • NBA Champion
  • Wimbledon Winner – Women’s and Men’s
  • Best TV Drama
  • Best TV Comedy
  • World Series Winner
  • People’s Sexiest Man Alive
  • Time Person of the Year

Heavy on sports and pop culture; light on anything really meaningful.

Over the years, however, the McLuxies have been a way to chronicle important, historic or iconic events.

In addition to the list of permanent categories, we have made random guesses about things like:

  • Gender of the Royal baby (more than once)
  • The O.J. Simpson verdict
  • The Clinton impeachment
  • Will Microsoft be in one piece? (I guess that was something about a monopoly???)
  • Major League Baseball teams to be eliminated
  • Combined weight of our twin grandsons, Chip and Dale at their final doctor’s appointment of the year
  • Dow Jones year ending number
  • What college will Malia Obama choose?
  • Number of Supreme Court vacancies at the end of the year
  • Post-election party in control of the House of Representatives
  • Married or not at the end of the year: Tom/Katie, Brad/Angelina, Britney/Kevin, Ben/Jen
  • “Number of countries that will have indicated their intent to withdraw the Euro as their official currency by year-end” (Nerd alert… Although you probably thought that the nerd ship sailed with the “number of Supreme Court vacancies” or “post-election party in control” questions.)

In Olympic, election and World Cup soccer years those are added to the list.

In 2012 we predicted whether the Mayan calendar was right or wrong.

“Will the world come to an end this year?” Spoiler alert: the correct prediction was “no”.

2016 McLuxies

Thanks to Annie our tradition has gone high-tech with our McLuxies google doc.

The 2016 McLuxies have some interesting aspects to them.

For years and years and years, we have had what we call “The Cubs Clause”.

The Cubs Clause states that if a person picks the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series and they actually do, that person automatically wins the McLuxies championship for the year. Game, set, match.

The Cubs Clause was created so that sentimental schmucks like me wouldn’t feel so bad about throwing away a point predicting a Cubs victory year after year after year.

Well, you might know that this year the curse has ended – the goat is gone – the Cubs are in the World Series.

We still have a long way to go but if by some wild chance, the Cubs pull this off and actually WIN the World Series, The Cubs Clause will kick in.

And, the six of us who predicted a Cubs victory will share the McLuxies trophy.

Go Cubs Go

Given that all predictions are locked in place during the first week of January, it’s quite remarkable that Jerry foresaw the Trump vs Clinton presidential matchup.

The Time Person of the Year is generally close to impossible to predict. But, this year six of us have guessed that, if she is elected as the first woman President in U.S. History, Hillary Clinton should find herself on the cover of Time Magazine.

Keeping in mind that Time Person of the Year is someone who has had the biggest impact on society – good or bad (past recipients include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin(twice), Ayatollah Khomeini and Vladimir Putin), other strong contenders would be Donald Trump (son-in-law Jerry’s prediction) or Julian Assange/WikiLeaks.

My first choice would be, of course, that the Cubs emerge victorious and Time Person(s) of the Year are Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon.

But what do I know? It’s all just a bunch of conjectura temere, right?

“Who I Am” is a writing project hosted by Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

Each month we are given a prompt regarding some aspect of our life. The goal is, at the end of the year, to have twelve chapters in the book titled Who I Am.

This month, Chapter 10, the theme is Traditions.

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Family Tradition – The McLuxies

I love traditions.

Now that our children are grown and have children of their own, I love that our family traditions have created great memories and continue to keep us connected.

At this time of year our minds are focused on The McLuxies.

This tradition was started in 1992 with our dear pals Ellie and Archie. You can read more about it here and here.

Peter and I, our children and their spouses and Archie and Ellie all make predictions about world events taking place throughout the year. We keep a running score and the person with the most correct predictions at the end of the year is awarded with this fabulous trophy.

McLuxies Champion

Actually, for the first 21 years of the McLuxies, we did not have a trophy. The satisfaction of winning was the prize.

However, since the trophy came into play, my son-in-law, Jerry, has won every single year. Yes, he has accomplished an unprecedented 3-peat.

It’s time for that trophy to find a new home.

Please let me share with you my picks for the 2016 McLuxies:

NCAA Football champion – Clemson. (I came so close on this one…)

Super Bowl – Patriots defeat Panthers. The beautiful Tom Brady for the win.

Best Picture – Spotlight. I have seen a grand total of zero of the nominees but this film has gotten a lot of buzz and my pal, Katie Clooney, said it was very good.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – Oklahoma defeats Michigan State.

NCAA Women’s Basketball – Notre Dame defeats South Carolina. Go Lady Irish!

Masters Golf – Jason Day.

NBA Championship – Golden State defeats Cleveland. Sorry, LeBron.

Stanley Cup Winner – Stars defeat Capitals. But I’d be happy with a lost point and a Blackhawks victory.

Wimbledon Men – Djokovic

Wimbledon Women – Serena Williams. I would not bet against that gal!

Country with the most gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics – USA! USA!

Which college will Malia Obama attend in the fall? – Stanford. Thinking outside of the Ivy League box.

Best TV Drama – Empire. Never seen the show…

Best TV Comedy – Silicon Valley. Ditto.

World Series – Cubs defeat Red Sox. This is going to be the year, I just know it. Plus, The McLuxies have a “Cubs Clause”: if ever the Cubs actually DO win the World Series, anyone who predicted that win becomes automatic McLuxies champion of the year.

2016 Presidential Election – Hillary defeats Marco Rubio. I will skip any political commentary except to say just please, please, please no Trump.

People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive – Idris Elba.

Time Magazine Person of the Year – Hillary Clinton. This is one of the toughest categories to predict and we rarely get it right (although Archie did predict Angela Merkel in 2015 so hats off to Archie!). This year, 6 of the 8 of us picked Hillary. The other two selected Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

And finally, the tie-breaker….

Total gold medals won by the USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics – 44. My favorite number.

There you have it. What do you think? I’m going to take the trophy this year, right?

My predictions surely reflect the spirit of the McLuxies; the sentiment penned by my son Walt and spelled out in Latin on the base of the trophy.

McLuxies plaque

“Peritia, Fortuna Et Conjectura Temere”

Expertise, luck and random guesses.

In my case, mostly random guesses.

Want to play along? Send me your random guesses well thought out predictions and we will see how you do!

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Resolutions, Bucket Lists, Hopes And Dreams

I’m already two weeks behind in my resolution to make some New Year’s resolutions.

This is exactly why I shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions.

running out of time for resolutionsIt seems that I’m not alone. Yes, we all have goals and dream to be the best version of ourselves. But one grand statement of action, commencing on January 1st and likely cast aside by January 18th may not be the best way to inspire ourselves.

The brilliant and hilarious Lin Brehmer from WXRT radio in Chicago summed it up best in a “Lin’s Bin” piece about New Year’s resolutions.

Lin’s advice?

One should always wait at least a week before implementing new year’s resolutions because by that time, the impulse will have passed and we can all continue with our lives unencumbered by the sort of promises so ridiculous that we can only make them to ourselves.

Check out Lin’s entire essay here.

So what to do, then?

Yesterday in yoga class (by the way, returning to yoga class would have been one of my resolutions for the year – Yay for me!), a gal mentioned that rather than one big resolution for the year, she breaks it down into monthly plans.

Keep it simple, she advised, but keep it up so that the resolution becomes a habit and one builds upon the next. Theoretically, by the end of the year, she will be practicing 12 new behaviors which she feels will mark improvements in her life.

Not a bad idea.

In the blog world we hear a lot about picking a word which will act as inspiration for the year.

One of the best I’ve read so far comes from my friend Dana at Kiss My List.

Dana’s word of the year:


As in, embrace yourself – flaws and all, embrace your friends and family with warm hugs and, yes, even embrace the challenges that might come your way this year.

As I told Dana, any word that means both “a hug” and “to accept” is pretty powerful.

Here’s to a 2016 with more hugs and more acceptance!

Then there is the whole concept of a bucket list. A compilation of all the outlandish things that you’d love to do but the successful completion of which is unlikely or nearly impossible.

Another blog pal, Eli from Coach Daddy, introduced me to the concept of a reverse bucket list. (Giving credit where credit is due, Eli learned about the reverse bucket list from Tessa of Nothing Was Said.)

A reverse bucket list is made up of all the things you have already done that are pretty darn amazing. Sort of an itemized list of your accomplishments to remind you how great/lucky/blessed your life has been thus far.

I’m definitely going to create a reverse bucket list and will refer to it whenever I need a little boost.

My very favorite notion in the personal goal setting genre, however, is one I learned about from my daughter, Annie. Again, giving appropriate snaps to the original source, Annie got this idea from her dear friend Heather.

Heather created a list: 30 by 30. Thirty things she wanted to accomplish before turning 30. She crossed off the last item as she spent her 30th birthday on Machu Picchu. Pretty impressive, eh?

Annie wanted to give herself a little more time, what with having a full-time job and a one year old, so she made her list 35 by 35. Many are things she wants to do as a family with her husband and son. None involve a trip to South America.

I like this idea of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), recording a list of all those things I’ve said, “someday I/we should do this”.

Nothing crazy. I’m going to treat my list not as a high-bar challenge but rather as a reminder of experiences I’d like to add to the story of my life.

My next big birthday is coming too soon to have that as my target date. Accomplishing 60 tasks in 21 months seems a bit ambitious and might cause me to temper my dreams.

So I’m going to make mine 65 by 65.

I’ve decided to break my list into categories. I will set my sights on things to do, things to see, things to learn, things to try, things to taste, places to go and people to meet.

I will let you know when I’ve come up with the entire list and keep you posted on my progress.

Of course, this entire conversation will be moot if I win the billion dollar powerball jackpot. Just sayin’…

How about you? Did you make resolutions? Choose of word for the year? Any suggestions for my 65 by 65 list?

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