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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… 😉

 

 

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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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Healthy Hygge Foods and Natural Cold Remedies: An Interview with Superfoods on Main

Now is the time to boost the immune system… Here are some ideas 🙂

Happy as a Dane

If there is one place that always makes me feel great it is the Superfoods on Main cafe in Mount Airy, Maryland. And I do not mean the kind of “great” that lasts for about thirty minutes, I am talking about feeling great for days! Superfoods on Main is a cafe with a homey cozy atmosphere that reminds me of some cafes in Copenhagen. Meanwhile, their drinks and foods are mainly raw, organic and vegan which means you get both hygge and healthy energy there. Maybe even better is that my two young children love going there for a colorful smoothie and time in the play corner.
So on this cold and snowy morning I decide to venture out to meet raw foods chef, Darlene Union, and nutritionist, Elina Jelena-Kopic Myers, co-owners of Superfoods on Main to talk about healthy hygge foods and how to be healthy in the Winter…

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Hygge Ideas for the Fall

These pumpkin spice pancakes will get you in the mood for Fall!

Happy as a Dane

It is a misty, grey day. One of those days where the sun will never come out. Now rain is pouring down in heavy streams. And I love it! What better excuse is there to hygge inside? Fall is prime time for hygge. Hygge is giving yourself some love in the darkening, cold months to come. It is really a gift to be able to hygge and this Fall and winter I am determined to make my kids feel a lot of hygge so that one day they will be able to create a home full of hygge.

Here are some of my ideas on how to hygge in the Fall.

First, go outside and enjoy the beautiful colors before they disappear! It is hard to think of anything more beautiful than the colorful leaves against a crisp blue sky. It almost looks as if the trees have dressed up…

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Things to do in Copenhagen

I am back after a busy Summer of moving to a new state and a new house. In the middle of everything I did get the chance to make a short trip to Copenhagen and even stay in the city for a few days. My, how things have changed since I lived there ten years ago – but a lot is still the same as well. Enough to make me feel right at home again and back to the past. In the following weeks I will post a series with tips on what you can do in Copenhagen in the Summer or Fall.

First off, rent a bicycle! You can find a Rent a Bike store on almost every street corner in inner city, or just rent a city bike via a mobile phone app. However you choose, a bike it is the best way to see the city. Walking a whole day makes everyone tired whereas on a bicycle you move fast and experience everything so much more vividly than behind a car or a bus window. After one day of walking I was done! And the day I rented a bike was the highlight of the trip.

I rented a bicycle at my hotel but got the helmet from the “Rent a Bike” store in Nyhavn (Rent a Bike) and they were so nice and helpful that I can definitely recommend going there.

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Old-fashioned, new 40s style bicycles are all over Copenhagen now. They will give you comfort, exercise and hygge on your city trips.

Old-fashinoned “hygge” bicycles (also called “grandma bicycles”) line the streets all over Copenhagen. In my opinion you see everything better when you sit upright on an old-fashioned bicycle than you do on a more sporty bicycle. Plus, they give you that comfortable “hygge” feeling on your trip. But even though there are bicycle lanes everywhere I recommend wearing a helmet since, like in any city, there is a lot going on in the streets.

You will definitely need a bicycle to get to the new Reffen dining area, which is a fifteen or twenty minute bike ride from inner city. Or you can take the harbor bus there but then you depend on a schedule. On the tip of Reffen you can buy exciting food and enjoy it with the sea breeze in your hair. I will give you a little taste of it in my next blog post. You can also look forward to read about a cafe with free access to a lot of magazines, refill coffee and the best croissants. I will tell you about a healthy juice and sandwich cafe safely tucked away in the inner city. You can look forward to read about the many new outdoor bars and restaurants that have popped up on the other side of the harbor after the new bicycle bridge has been built. Among these is a fun and experimental new Nordic restaurant and bar with an impressive selection of tap beer. I cannot wait to share all these and more exciting places in Copenhagen with you in the upcoming posts!

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This is how much the Danes use their bicycles: This little girl even has a doll seat on her bicycle!

 

 

Being There for Children During Stressful Times

My family and I are currently going through a big move out of state. This has made good parenting feel at least double as hard as usual and my “Danish Way of Parenting” methods seem to go right out the window in one stressful situation after another. Unfortunately, I can see that this has its effects on my children. Understandably so, their safety net is being pulled away under them and my husband and I are trying to keep the ground from breaking below them. But this is so much easier said than done while we are navigating transfer of school and medical records, buying and selling a house, saying goodbye to our town and friends etc. This has turned me into a different kind of mom, a stressed out mom, a mom who is constantly watching the mess they make because some potential buyer could show up and look at the house in less than one hour.

What is interesting though is that this stressful situation shows how much our usually pretty calm, engaging and patient parenting means. Children thrive in a calm, safe and happy home with parents who have time for them, who are there for them. A stressed out parent who is constantly looking for perfection – who for example constantly fights little fingerprints and mess so that the house can sell – is not what they need.

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My son in total zen making a messy picture with finger paint. Kids need mess it seems!

It is almost impossible though to not get stressed during a move with children so all you can do is to be good to yourself – which I believe would be the case in most stressful situations. Try to get the stress levels down. Have breaks to restore your energy physically and mentally because only by being good to yourself can you find the patience and energy needed to be there for kids. I think this self-care is such an important part of “The Danish Way of Parenting” – instead of blaming yourself for not being a perfect parent and failing yet another time, embrace yourself and your unmet needs from the past. There is a reason why we sometimes scream at our children. If you empathize with yourself and take good care of yourself, you can get the emotional space to empathize with your children – and others. On August 28, Iben Sandahl and Sarah Zobel have a new book coming out on this topic called “Det goer Ondt i Maven, Mor!” or “My Stomach Hurts, Mom!”. It is about embracing your own past and pain so you can feel better and thereby be a better parent every day.

So here is my call out to other parents who are stressed for whatever reasons (aren’t most of us?): It is more or less impossible to meet your children’s need for love and attention if you do not take care of your own needs! So go ahead and be good to yourself. When you make yourself happy and relaxed – by replacing some of the “shoulds” with some of your own needs wishes – you will be able to be there for someone else and live up to their wishes.

Oh, and plus your mood rubs right off on them! -What a great excuse to give yourself some happiness 🙂 After this realization I know I am going to enjoy that cupcake with wine, meditate and try to chill out – at least a little more 😉

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“Royal Wedding” cupcake from “Holly’s Homemade” at The Mount Airy Farmers’ Market, MD. Such a treat! This elderberry and lemon cupcake was the perfect match for a glass of white wine.