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Day Trip to Tisvildeleje

There are places that seem to have more soul and charm than others, Tisvildeleje is one of them. To me, it hasn’t really been summer until I have been to this little beach town on the North Coast of Sealand. Good news is that it is quite easy to get to this charming town with beautiful beaches and a large forest. If you are visiting Copenhagen and feel like venturing out to experience the country side, and maybe even go for a swim, I highly recommend a day- or weekend trip to Tisvildeleje. You can take the S-train from Copenhagen to Hilleroed and from Hilleroed Station the “Gribskovbane” train no. 960R to Tisvildeleje Station will take you straight to the heart of Tisvildeleje which is the end station. This train ride passes by forest, fields and gently rolling hills so it gives you a great opportunity to see what the Danish landscape is like.

Tisvildeleje is a former fishing village which since the 1900’s have risen in popularity as a favorite vacation destination for Danes. There is just “something” about Tisvildeleje with its narrow mainstreet that leads you by original boutiques, cafes and restaurants, winds past charming old houses and finally mounds out in the wide public beach and Tisvildehegn/Troldeskoven (“The Troll Forest”). But before you get to the forest or beach, don’t forget to stop at the bakery on Main Street (“Hovedgaden”) and get yourself a nice and sticky Danish cinnamon bun (their “kanelsnurrer” are also amazing) to enjoy with a thermo coffee in the forest or on the beach!

Troldeskoven is a fun place for an adventure walk in its fairytale-like low-growing vegetation with curly trees shaped by strong ocean winds. On a windy day it is good hygge to have a picnic in one of the many clearings in the forest, sitting on a fallen tree trunk, protected by the surrounding low but sturdy trees. On a sunny day you may want to move on to the beautiful dunes by the water and enjoy your picnic on a blanket. If you prefer a wilder setting you could walk back in the direction of the town but along the beach. As you move away from the wide public beach you will find some unique beaches walled against a steep slope overgrown with wild roses, sea buck thorn and other wild flowers. At the bottom of the slope are large rocks which make great picnic chairs and tables while you can enjoy the free view of the foamy waves.

My absolute favorite area of Tisvildeleje is the street that leads from Main Street towards the beach hotel and the summerhouse area. This street and its little side alleys are full of charming old summerhouses in the classic North Sealand summerhouse style with black painted sideboards and white trims. Right after the beach hotel you will see a sign to “Helenekilde” which is a holy spring on top of a steep slope towards the ocean.

From here you will get a splendid view over the beach in all its dramatic beauty. A great place to end a day trip and say goodbye for the day to the sun slowly setting over the ocean, coloring the sky in warm gold and pink hues. A beauty and peacefulness that will remain with you as you return to the city.

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Healthy and Hyggelig Cafe in the Heart of Copenhagen

I have been meaning to write a post about Big Apple Cafe for a long time. It is such a cozy/hyggelig little cafe safely tucked away a little below street level so you can sit and watch traffic go by in a cozy basement environment. It has a charming Italian touch to it with rustic stone walls and olive trees. Together with sheepskin throws, tea candles and meadow flowers the interior is a great mix of Italian charm and Danish hygge. The Big Apple is centrally located, right next to Kongens Have (The Kings Garden). There is a relaxed and homey hygge feel to this environment which can be hard to find in the more touristed and “cool” cafes along or near Stroeget (the main shopping street in Copenhagen).

Moreover, the sandwiches are made on delicious wheat-free grilled rye panini and they make the best juices and smoothies there for you. The staff is also super friendly and ready to accommodate the juice or smoothie to your preferences. As a tourist in my old home city I felt very much at home and comfortable in this cafe.

It is such a nice refuge where you can relax and be safely tucked away from the busy city life. The Big Apple is located on the corner of Gothersgade and Kronprinssegade right across from one of the entrance gates to Kongens Have. So after visiting the Big Apple you could head into Kongens Have and relax some more in what you could almost call the collective backyard of Copenhagen. Kongens Have – is a baroque public park connected to Rosenborg Castle – is where “the locals” in Copenhagen meet up with friends, blankets, beer and picnics for informal social gatherings. Or they might go there with a book, bikini (yes the Summer can be warm enough for this!) and a blanket to sunbathe.

One of my favorite things about Copenhagen is all these parks nicely spread out all over the city. H.C. Oerstedsparken, Oestre Anlaeg and Frederiksberg Have are other great parks for relaxing and socializing. And psst, if you are tired of the high cafe and restaurant prices you can just go to a bakery or supermarket to buy a to-go breakfast/lunch/dinner and drink and enjoy it in one of the many public parks. So do as the Danes and have a Carlsberg or Tuborg in the open air for some good Danish summer time hygge! Oops I am getting carried away to the fun days of living in Copenhagen – to get back to the Big Apple cafe, it is also a great place to get some inspiration on how to add a little hygge and charm to your own home.

Midsummer Eve Bonfires and Witches

Happy as a Dane

7DD37C30-D120-49F0-9796-75D61D8DA2B2 Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) bonfire on the beach in Tisvildeleje, Denmark, 2013

Last night the Danes celebrated Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) with bonfires and witches! This was originally a pagan celebration of summer solstice and the magical shortest night of the year but after the introduction of Christianity it also became the celebration of John the Baptist’s birthday which is supposedly today June 24th.

There used to be a lot of superstition related to this night. Mean witches were scared away and sick people went to holy springs hoping their illnesses would be cured on this night where light was stronger than darkness. As a symbol of chasing evil forces away Danes burned a hay witch on top of the bonfire – a practice that is still very common in Denmark! Danes jokingly say that on the evening of Sankt Hans: “the witches are being sent…

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“Meet the Danes” at the National Museum of Denmark

Here is a great recommendation for everyone traveling to Denmark hoping to experience some of that world famous hygge: The National Museum of Denmark has started a free guided tour series called “Meet the Danes” where you can meet a Dane who will give an insider’s view of the Danes, Danish culture and society. You will get an answer to puzzling questions such as why Danes leave their sleeping babies in prams outside cafes, why Danes bicycle so much, what hygge is all about and whether the Danes really are the happiest people on Earth! On Tuesdays in July you will also be able to enjoy a classic Danish lunch with a Dane in the museum’s historical courtyard. You can read more about these tours via this link: Meet and Eat with the Danes.

I am so excited about this initiative at the National Museum of Denmark as the Danes and their culture are not always easily accessible to non-Danes. Many who travel there, or even live there, find the Danes a bit cold and reserved whereas the opposite is actually true! But, you have to get to know the Danes before they will open up and it takes time. Once you make friends with the Danes you will find that they are very easygoing and extremely fun to be with. So I highly recommend the Meet the Danes tours as a way of getting beyond the surface of who the Danes really are and what their culture is like to live in.

 

While you are at the National Museum you might also want to visit the innovative new Viking exhibition called Putting a Face to the Vikings. This is supposed to be a beautiful and very lively exhibition with scenography by designer Jim Lyngvild.

Weekend Cake is Back: Kirsten’s Pumpkin Bread

Happy Friday! Weekend is almost here and few things bring more hygge than freshly baked cake so I am happy to bring you a super hyggelig recipe that I have wanted to post for a long time. It is filled with the coziest spices such as ginger, cinnamon and cloves and gives a taste and feeling of hygge that lingers through the day. If you add cocoa powder or chocolate chips, most children are sure to love it too! Take a break, sit down and enjoy it with a steamy brew of hot coffee or tea and you are sure to get a relaxing hygge feeling that will help you through the day.

Kirsten’s Pumpkin Bread

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Makes two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaves.

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves (ground)

3 tablespoons cocoa (optional)

2 cups mashed pumpkins or pureed pumpkin from can.

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional), or 1 cup chocolate chips (optional).

How you make it

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the dry mix to the egg, butter and sugar mix. Blend well. Add pumpkin puree and buttermilk and mix. If you wish, you can stir in chocolate chips or walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for almost 1 hour or until a broom straw (I use chopsticks) comes out clean. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy with your favorite hot drink for a nice and peaceful hygge break 🙂

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Peaceful hygge breaks Danish style with coffee and cake give us a chance to gather our thoughts, enjoy life and renew our life energy. Notice the paper towel that my son threw on the floor, just a little reminder that life will never be or look perfect and it is ok (see my last blog post Find Your Inner “Bad Mom”! “The Perfect Mom” doesn’t exist anyway… 😉

 

 

Find Your Inner “Bad Mom”! “The Perfect Mom” doesn’t exist anyway…

What is it about being a mom that makes us feel like we have to be completely perfect? As soon as you give birth, you are under some sort of pressure that never existed before. Just the title “mom” comes with so many demands, so many opinions and so many critics – most of them probably from ourselves. And not only do you have to be perfect in how you dress your kids, raise them, feed them, interact with their schools and arrange after school activities, no you have to be perfect in every single area of your whole entire life! For example, before I had kids I had no problem having friends over when my house wasn’t just cleaned that very same day. Now, everything has to be almost spotless before I will let anyone in. I even have to convince myself that five year old kids won’t tell on me to their parents if they notice it has been a week since the bathroom was cleaned!

We probably all want to look like the perfect mom but the things that are required from a perfect mom is not humanly possible! I honestly do not think that there is one single “perfect mom” out there. Everyone has their flaws. Or to put it in a nicer way, prioritize differently. The problem is that in the struggle to become that perfect mom (who isn’t possible) we end up stressing ourselves out so much that we cannot give our best to our children. Maybe the so-called perfect mom appears to be perfect on the surface but she might be on the edge with her kids because she is stressed out trying to be so perfect – or at least appear to be. And one of the most important things as a parent is to be there for children – be emotionally and socially available when they need it. So they know they will be listened to, that their needs will be met and that they have a safe and peaceful home to return to. Not a crazy home where everyone is on the verge of collapsing from stress. While I was writing this post, I discovered that the Danish psychotherapist and author behind the international bestseller The Danish Way of Parenting, Iben Sandahl, just wrote an article in Psychology Today about the importance of a safe home and predictable routines in raising happy children. The article offers useful advice on how to create a better and happier everyday routine (link: Predictability Leads to Positive Habits).

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And here is my point: we can all deal better with other people, including our kids, when we make room for ourselves, are happy and take good care of ourselves. When I have low energy and haven’t done something for myself for a while I am much more likely to scream at my kids, be impatient and grumpy. I assume it is the same for most people. So what good is this race of being a so-called perfect mom when the perfect mom is an impossible ideal we push upon ourselves and others? When the struggle to be perfect exhausts us and probably makes a good deal of moms pretty unpleasant to be around?

Therefore, I recommend letting go of that vanity. Lets invite kids and moms over even if our houses aren’t top shiny. It is just vanity. Isn’t it more important that our kids get to play with their friends and that we get some adult company than we get to show off a perfect house?

Whenever the pressure gets too high my very best “mom therapy” is to watch the movie Bad Moms Rent here 😉. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it! It is a chill pill every mom should take every now and then. It says all these things about getting your priorities straight and remember that what is most important is to love our kids, not that we – or our children – are perfect (whatever that means)! And kids can help out. In fact it is good for their self-confidence to feel needed plus they will become nicer people if they learn to help around the house. It is not only ok to give yourself a break, let loose and be a “Bad Mom” every now and then – it is healthy for you and your family!

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One happy mom going to a rock concert with a beer truck behind me, lol!

 

LEGO Movie 2 – The Danish Way of Awesome

 

It has been a long time since my last post but Happy as a Dane is still here and has lots of things to share with you! First of all, my family and I just went to see the new LEGO Movie 2 and we all thought it was awesome in a very Danish way as not everything has to be awesome and happy all the time. As they sing in the theme song: “things can’t be awesome all of the time, it’s not realistic expectations but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make everything awesome in a less idealistic kind of way…” What a great message to send to children and adults, that you can’t expect life to be sugary sweet at all times. If that’s the expectation you will only get disappointed in life which is not the same to say that you shouldn’t try to make life as great as possible. An important aspect of Danish happiness and childhood is realism where children through stories are prepared for the unavoidable struggles of life.

I am also a big fan of the LEGO movies’ very Danish messages of team work. There is not one perfect hero in the LEGO movies – in fact when Batman presents himself as the leader of the team he is ridiculed because, as they sing in the theme song: “everything is better if we stick together”. The movie even shows how a pair of siblings learn to get along with LEGO play after years of battling each other.

Moreover, this movie is a great way for parents to bond with their kids as it is funny for both adults and children! It has so many funny references for adults which the kids somehow seem to get, or at least they get that their parents are amused and they like that! The parents are truly laughing instead of the usual flat “haha” which is all I can usually come up with for other kids movies. Right now our four year old son quotes the LEGO spaceman, Benny, singing: “Now I finally get Radiohead” even though he has no idea who Radiohead is, yet he loves the phrase just as much as we do. Maybe because he can see that our laughs are real for I am sure he can tell that a lot of my laughs are not that real when it comes to kids movies.

The day after we watched the movie we went to a LEGO store nearby to get some building platforms so we could really start fostering a new generation of masterbuilders. When I asked the young sales representative where to find the platforms he curiously asked “so what are you planning on building?” He clearly meant me, not my kids, even though they were standing right next to me. “Eh, just kid stuff” was my baffled reply as this young sales representative kept trying to engage me in a conversation about all sorts of cool LEGO projects I could do on my bookshelves. Apparently, it is cool and totally acceptable for adults to play with LEGO now. I had no idea but my husband told me that this is a “thing” on Flickr. When I was a teenager I felt like I had to pack my LEGOs away out of fear that my peers would discover that I was still playing with LEGO. In fact it was my absolute favorite toy. It was a sad day when I decided that it was time. So I am excited to hear that it is not only ok but even cool to play with LEGO up into your teens, tweens and adulthood because playing is so important for our creativity and happiness throughout life. I know I sound like an advertisement for LEGO (which I would happily do!) but no I am not sponsored – this is written out of pure love for my childhood’s favorite toy and a wish to pass this on to modern children.

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I know that a lot of LEGOs now come in sets with all these little specialized pieces – especially LEGO Friends – which is great in its own way but I really want to encourage parents to get boxes of just LEGOs where children and adults can create their own masterpieces and learn to use their imagination because there is nothing as beneficial, fun and creative as being absorbed in open-ended play. LEGO is an abbreviation for “LEG GODT” which means “PLAY WELL” in Danish. So here is what we just bought for our children to nurture an environment of good play time the Danish way 🙂

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