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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.

Calm December with help from Nature

If you are like me, you are currently stressed out over Christmas and how fast December goes. How does this happen every year? Thanksgiving is over and before you know it, it’s the middle of December and last chance to buy presents online in time for Christmas. It not only makes me stressed but also sad because shouldn’t December be the month of hygge and joy with family and friends? The strange thing is, that while a calm and enjoyable December is what most of us wish for, that is not what we usually get. Is it because we want the perfect Christmas so much that we push ourselves so hard to make it perfect that we don’t have time to enjoy it? Like when you want to fall asleep but can’t because you’re stressing over it? It is definitely hard to slow down with work deadlines, all the shopping, class parties, cookie exchanges, gifts for teachers, bus drivers and family.

While I’m no master of chill and calm, my Danish culture does lend me some help with this. Danish Christmas decorations involve a lot of nature and nature is calming. Today, I took my puppy, Ozzy, outside with a thermo mug of hot coffee and felt inspired by the dormant nature. There really is a beauty to every season if you take time to appreciate it. While Ozzy attacked an old bucket, I got some clippings of evergreens and red berries and put them in little vases around the house. Bringing nature inside somehow makes me more connected to the season and its sleepy beauty.

If I get really crafty next week during the kids’ Christmas vacation I might even spray some gold or white paint on some cones and make Christmas decorations like the ones my Danish mother-in-law made with the children last year. So if you’re not big on spending time out in the cold nature, then bring it inside! It’s December now and now is the time to enjoy! Racing for the perfect Christmas will only lead you to loose it – like me who have already lost half of it. So take a deep breath, maybe do a five to ten minute meditation or just enjoy a mug of hot drink and enjoy the month of December!

Here are some Winter pictures from the snowy and frosty Denmark followed by our Christmas decorations from last year. And you can look forward to my next post about Danish Christmas gnomes, called “nisser”, whose job is to bring hygge and Christmas joy to people (no spying on kids and punishing them like the Elf on the Shelf – the Danish nisser only want fun and joy for everyone. I can’t wait to share this tradition with you 🙂

Danish Children’s Carnival/Shrovetide Buns

Happy as a Dane

Today February 27 is “Fastelavn”/Shrovetide in Denmark. It is a children’s carnival based on pre-lent carnival traditions of the Roman-Catholic church from before Denmark became a Protestant nation. Children dress up, beat a hanging barrel filled with candy (similar to a pinata), eat sweet buns (“fastelavnsboller”) and also get a so-called “fastelavnsris” (twigs decorated with candy, feathers, paper flowers and home crafted masks, see images here Fastelavnsris photos). A lot of this tradition has to do with getting rid of evil powers since the Danes say that “we beat the cat out of the barrel” and originally there was a poor black cat inside. Now there is just an image of a black cat on it. The children stand in line with a short wooden bat and take turns beating the hanging barrel. The child who beats the bottom out of the barrel becomes Cat Queen and the child…

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Give Thanks to Earth!

Many native people across the world have rituals and ways of thanking Earth. They are aware that nature is a gift not to be taken for granted.

Robin Wall Kimmerer has written a beautiful book Braiding Sweetgrass full of essays that express an inspirational love to our Earth. As an Environmental Biologist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation she combines indigenous wisdom with her scientific knowledge. It is an uplifting book with no lifted fingers just an eyeopener and “hymn of love” to all the beauty around us.

Earth Day could be a good day to think of a way to connect with nature and perhaps even develop a ritual of gratitude for nature’s gifts, be it the sun salutation, gardening or going for a mindful walk in nature.

The New York Times has a beautifully illustrated explanation of climate change for children. Click the link to check it out!

Let’s help children learn how to appreciate and care for their planet!

Play – therapy for the mind and soul

And updated version of a post that’s even more relevant now than it was when I first wrote it!

Happy as a Dane

“I never want to grow up,” he (Tommy) said determinedly.

“Me either,” said Annika.

“No, that isn’t something to strive for. Grown-ups never have fun. They just have a lot of boring work, stupid clothes and calluses and taxes.”(….)

“They don’t know how to play either,” said Annika. “Ooh, that you are forced to grow up!”(free translation from Astrid Lindgren’sPippi Longstocking in the South Seas, 1948)

Last night as I was reading Pippi Longstocking to my children we came across this great passage where the children, Tommy and Annika, tell Pippi that they never want to grow up because adults aren’t fun and don’t know how to play. To this Pippi replies that growing up isn’t something to strive for and then she offers the children some magical pills to prevent them from ever growing up.

This may just seem like a funny statement because growing up…

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The Beauty of Imperfection

On a Winter walk through a Danish forest, the beautiful sight on the photo above suddenly materialized in front of me. A moss overgrown broken tree limp in a little pond. It was stunning in all its imperfection, a composition no human had planned or constructed, with so many details open for imagination and awe. Nature’s originality left me surprised and breathless in a way that a perfectly manicured yard could not do.

Another example of how beautiful nature is even though not completely perfect! Smoky Mountains, GA.

This made me think about the beauty of imperfection, the realness of it – because nothing is ever perfect. Like humans. I don’t think anyone would describe themselves as perfect. Most of us would probably feel misunderstood, not fully seen, if anyone called us perfect. If someone called us perfect we would feel that they didn’t see our flaws, downs and failures? Would they really know us, or just see what they wanted to see?

Does anyone even want to be called perfect? I doubt it because if people see you as perfect they don’t see the real you. They only choose to see the perfect side. But we all have flaws and dark sides and we all want to be loved for who we really are with all our imperfections which make us unique and human, not robots or mannequins.

Perfectionism steals energy from what is meaningful and important to our happiness. Since the perfect is impossible, chasing it will leave us exhausted and unfulfilled. Of course, we should strive to do our best and to be good enough but perfect is an illusion, inhuman and unnatural. We are all beautiful in our own unique ways, no one is more, no one is less. When everyone is allowed to – and letting themselves – be their true self, that’s when their beauty will shine, even if its not always pretty.

I am so excited to see that my fellow “hygge blogger”, Jo Kneale, who runs the blog is thinking along the same lines as me at the same time. Coincidentally, today, she posted a review of the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown Thank you for sharing this book with us, it sounds like a must-read 😉 And maybe it is no coincidence that we are both posting critiques of perfectionism after the busy Christmas holiday?

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.


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 🙂


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).


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!


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