Thankful for our French ‘Hygge’ Lifestyle

 

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As I set the camera on timer on a carefully balanced tripod in the corner of the kitchen during supper, no one raised an eyebrow; the family are all quite used to me snapping away by now, they automatically assume “it’s for the blog” and ignore me! But Roddy did ask one thing, “What’s this post about?”

“Hygge” I answered.

“What?” exclaimed everyone.  Not one person around the table had a clue what I was talking about so I explained a little.

“So are we moving to Denmark now?” was Roddy’s comment afterwards, and from there the conversation moved on to short days, gathering darkness by 3pm, and the fact that Denmark is actually on the same latitude as the north of Britain. This all led to talk of the Scottish Islands and my ancestors, and so on and so forth. ‘Hygge’ was long forgotten, the camera had blinked and taken it’s automatic photo, but no one had even noticed. The candles continued to flicker and faces remained animated with the fast paced chatter around our kitchen table.

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I don’t really follow lifestyle trends but ironically I find that our way of living here in France and the lifestyle we moved here for seems to fall into a neat category,  which indeed has a name, ‘Hygge.’ It seems we have been doing it all along – at least if one reads the many magazine articles written about this very subject.

Now not all of you will  know what ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hooga’) is. I have no idea how popular it is around the world, but let me tell you it is big news in the UK. There isn’t an exact translation for the word, in general terms it means ‘cosiness’ or ‘contentment’, but it’s so much more than that; it encompasses so many things and it isn’t anything new of course to Scandinavians – it’s been a part of the culture in Denmark for the last two centuries.

‘Hygge’ is about slowing down a little and learning to appreciate the simple, small pleasures that make life great.

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One aspect is the spending of quality time with friends and family, something that makes us happy. There is nothing more enjoyable than preparing food whilst chatting with friends, and the whole point is that it doesn’t have to be perfect; it can be sharing a glass of wine, or gladly accepting any offers of help; whether it’s to stir sauces, chop vegetables or laying a table. No matter what you are doing and whether eating in or out, it’s about conviviality, friendship, and laughter.

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Okay, before you all sigh and think this is another food post, it really isn’t! I only mention food as an affirmation that we all need to eat, but far more that we should enjoy what we eat; we should relish the aromas, the taste, the simple act of sitting down together, a meal should always please our senses as well as satiating our hunger.

In the winter think of thick hearty soups

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and warming bowls of porridge to get the day off to a good start.

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In the summer try and eat outside and for those of you in warmer climes than us right now I found myself just a little envious as I browsed through photos taken just a few months ago!

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However, here we are fast approaching winter and so log fires are the order of the day.

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Dim the lights and use plenty of candles. I love candles, the flickering flames create an ephemeral glow and create a cosy sensual atmosphere in any room, plus candlelight can be very flattering; wrinkles are erased and misbehaving hair is forgiven!

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Natural elements within the home are also key points, be they wooden floors, exposed stone walls or other organic materials, but even more important is the overall feeling of comfort; a room should welcome you and make you want to stay. Just as we wrap ourselves in a snuggly blanket so the room should envelop us in contentment.

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You should also give yourself an occasional treat; the Danes eat cake and pastries and who can resist a simple easy-peasy apple tart? Blind bake the pastry, simmer some chopped apples, (preferably a mixture of varieties) and purée them with an immersion blender and when they have cooled a little, spoon over the pastry base. Top with a layer of apple slices (you can add a sprinkling of cinnamon or sugar if you want it sweeter) and bake for twenty minutes or so in a moderate over. Et voilà, simple homemade perfection!

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If you don’t happen to have a great French boulangerie just around the corner with the likes of our friends Amélie and Franck baking perfect bread then make it yourself! The smell of a freshly baked loaf wafting through the house is about as homely is it gets and is arguably one of life’s great simple pleasures.

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Make steaming mugs of hot chocolate, or drink it out of bowls as the French do

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and whilst working in the garden take five minutes off to sit on a bench, a log or an old stone wall and sip at a hot cup of tea, made in advance and kept warm in a flask.

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But most of all, get outside; ‘hygge’ is all about balance and living a good, healthy life – so exposure to nature is vital. No matter what the weather, don appropriate clothing, wellies, hats and scarves and take a walk. There’s nothing quite like bracing winds whipping around one’s ears to make one walk faster and there’s nothing like exercise to make one feel good.

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Be a kid again and kick around in the puddles or go for a bike ride.

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Summer ‘hygge’ conjures up images of playing in meadows, beachcombing or picking blackberries with the children.

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I personally think seasons are good for the soul. However, we don’t have to live in sub-zero temperatures with permanently roaring log fires to be content. In winter we might be sitting on a big comfy sofa, logs crackling in the hearth, candles burning and maybe we’ll be appreciating a glass of red wine with best friends and family. Whereas in the summer it might be a trip to the beach, an evening bbq and a plateful of freshly grilled fish served with salad and tomatoes fresh from the garden.

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Although this has mostly been about friendship and togetherness, you can still achieve tranquility and serenity alone. There are few things more comforting than cuddling up under a blanket and getting sucked into a good book, reading a magazine or watching a great movie and being transported to another place and time. We are currently totally engrossed in ‘The Crown’ on Netflix; the cast and storyline are excellent and I am so pleased to see a second series has already been commissioned for next year.

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Anyway, by now you should have got the gist of this! ‘Hygge’ isn’t about extravagance, indulgence yes, but not extravagance and it’s never about trying to impress people; it’s about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that friends and family never want to leave. It’s about using all five senses to enjoy even the simplest things, whether it’s the sight of a robin outside the window, hearing a ripple of laughter, tasting roasted marshmallows, smelling those simmering apples, or touching freshly pressed linen as you curl up in bed at the end of a long day.

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Prioritise happiness over perfection and if you are enjoying time with a friend, put the phone away! Studies show a clear link between gratitude and well-being. But another important thing to remember when it comes to understanding ‘hygge’ is that it’s all about experiences rather than materialism. Today is Thanksgiving in America; we don’t celebrate it in the UK or in France, but perhaps even those of us who are not American should take the time today to stop and consider all the things we are thankful for.

And for those celebrating today, don’t let cooking the turkey stress you out; enjoy the meal, enjoy your family and friends and have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Wherever you are in the world, be it northern or southern hemisphere, spring or autumn, perhaps we should all encompass the ‘hygge’ way of life.

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And I’ll leave you with a funny story. 7am this morning, there is a frantic phone call from Izzi. She cannot find the giblets in the turkey and the packaging clearly says to remove the neck and giblets. What is funny about this you may well wonder. She is British, living in England, desperately trying to remove giblets from inside a raw turkey, which she will then cook, despite the fact that she is vegetarian and won’t be eating it and is celebrating Thanksgiving for her American friends!

156 thoughts on “Thankful for our French ‘Hygge’ Lifestyle

  • It is indeed big news here in England, and I can see why, it makes perfect sense and if the Danes can be one of the happiest nations despite their very short winter days then I think we can certainly learn much from them. Fantastic post today Susan

    • Thank you Lisa, I think there is much to be said for this way of life, there is so much more pleasure to be gained from playing a game of chess than buying the latest ‘toy’ in my opinion. Hopefully our children are realising this too, at least to some small degree!! xx

  • Turkey cooking and making pies! Love this post, in a rush, I shall read again in peace and quiet tomorrow, in the meantime a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

  • The name is new to me but the concept is not, this is how we live, this is how to get the most out of life, but without a tv and always books instead of films. I admire you for raising your children this way in an ever increasing digital age and I shall certainly be making the apple tart!

    • Hi Alison, it is a great way to live, I must admit we don’t watch too much tv, but I do enjoy it when we do, we watch things that we get really involved in rather than just having the tv on for the sake of it and so do the children. Really hope you enjoy the apple tart, it is delicious, loved by all of us! xx

  • It appears that the Emma Bridgewater catalog has enjoyed a spot in your home. Lovely pieces. Happy “hygge” to you and your family.

    • It has indeed! We have had Bridgewater since before we were married, so over 20 years, occasionally we add new pieces, hence it is a real mixture every day, everyone has their favourite patterns! A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family xx

  • Lovely post, I have to Say being here in Spain I really do have a “hygge” lifestyle, and I love it and would encourage anyone to make that change ! It’s a great way to live . Have a beautiful day xx

  • Happy thanksgiving! Brian and I are in Jax Beach with Robin and Lauren and I am enjoying mirning coffee on the deck overlooking the beach. The ocean is calm and the sun is warm. Definitely relaxing and comfortable. We will go for a walk on the beach in a little while! There will be ten for dinner and football on the telly. I do miss the dogs, though; they couldn’t come this time. Love to the family!
    Nancy

    • A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and to Brian and Robin and Lauren, hope you all have a lovely day. The weather sounds absolutely perfect and much warmer than here, where it is mild (60F) but grey! Have a wonderful dinner, we will raise a toast to you with a glass of wine tonight. Hugs from us all xxx

  • Yesterday felt pretty hygge around here, with a storm howling outside, though it was so warm we didn’t need coats except to stay dry from the downpours. It’s hard to get my head around Christmas coming up when I’m still running in a T-shirt.

    • We had the wind and the rain at the beginning of the week, yesterday was just grey, but like you, very mild, we’ve been around 15C all week. I cannot believe the children finish school in three weeks, I haven’t done a thing yet! xx

  • I read this whole post nodding to myself in agreement with you and then I got to the very last paragraph and laughed out loud – good for Izzi, what a great girl she is, happy Thanksgiving to you Izzi x

    • I have to tell you I laugh at this too, the very thought of her trying to find the giblets and cutting off the neck, and we said to her, get one of your fiends to do it, but she was quite adamant that she could manage, she didn’t seem to phased at all by it! I will pass on your good wishes, I believe there are 32 of them all eating at her house tonight, should be quite a party!! xx

    • I totally agree, it’s always soup for lunch on Wednesdays when the children are home from school, usually with leftover chicken from a Sunday roast, one of the best things about winter! Terribly mild here but that also means damp and grey! Hope things are well with you. xx

      • But the weekend forecast here is non stop sun, hope it’s right! We do much the same, take the meat off the bone, make stock with the carcass and a good old fashioned chicken broth and then we add some vegetables, and often some tiny alphabet pasta, so our take on minestrone! Delicious, just what we need at this time of year, a meal in a bowl. xx

  • I fully subscribe to this lifestyle; the only sad bit is that Emma Bridgewater was sold…. And I will therefore never be able to (finally) stock up on her wonderful pottery. When I live in UK it was too expensive (especially in view of my already groaning cupboards with hoards from 3 ountries…) and then – she was gone…
    We have no TV and we really don’t miss it – whatever we want to view, we buy on DVDs (which explains my ‘getting rid’ of some 1200 of some 1600 DVDs…. yes, the word hoarer was ment. before….) What we love best are the BBC series such as historical dramas, stories from olden times, J. Austen films, then of course Downton Abbey, Midwife, etc.
    Apart from strolling along beaches and biking (where I live it’s only up or down, and steeply so), and no longer having roaring fires (but 2 fireplaces, one boarded up and one in the basement – where we never would dream of having a fire…) I do all of the above. Add LOTS of reading to this, making music and singing, even more eating and drinking, and listening to our favourite CDs…. heaven, it’s heaven!
    When the American (and English?) world will celebrate Tksgiving, I humbly like to think that for me every day is a Thanksgiving Day and thus we will join our local choral ensemble tonight for 2hrs of singing in 5 languages (a v. challenging programme in, amongst others, Russian, Spanish, German, English & French – and that’s only the start of it).
    Much love and kisses for everybody, incl the dogs & cats, but maybe not the chicks! Kiki

    • Hi Kiki, we love all of the old dramas too, you would love The Crown, I am sure it will be out on DVD soon,it is well worth watching. I wasn’t aware that Bridgewater had been sold, I just googled it too and couldn’t see anything, I really hope it hasn’t, I need to buy a couple more plates, two have been broken recently and a bowl too, not a good time for pottery in this house!! Enjoy singing this evening, sounds fantastic although the challenge of five languages would take a braver person than me, I admire you for that, but then I know you are far more of a linguist than I am. I too like to think we are thankful every day, we have so much to be grateful and thankful for and I truly am. Big hugs xxx

      • Good Grief, Susan – you really made my day just now: I think I was referring to an article like this:
        http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/470264/Emma-Bridgewater-Taking-a-step-back-allowed-my-pottery-business-to-move-forward
        (Although I’m not an Express reader, far from it – but that’s what the search spit out….) – and I must have been at our friends place in Exeter at that time because SHE told me the sad news and we debated how best she could still get hold of the most at the le lowest reasonable prices. (Buy seconds!!!) The pottery is very lovely but it breaks too easily – and it IS horrendously expensive… For some time we always bought a piece or two for my friend at every visit – she collected – at that time, everything ‘chicken’…. She also has (had/has/will have – as per Foxes & other thieves’ goodwill and cleverness!!! Fort Knox is nothing in comparison to their Chicken Palace Scoop Temple Running Ground….) the most beautiful and stunning ‘collection’ of rare breeds of beautiful hens who look more like pretentious film stars and are allowed to roam freely on their immense grounds of garden, park, woods ! They are the happiest chicks I’ve ever met and as they only get fed with organic fare (imagine THAT?), the eggs have deep yellow/or even reddish yolks and a 3’4′” breakfast egg is at the top of my all-time best liked fare.
        Aaaah thank you for finding that EB is still in business – and now you go and save… !!! I have a Hero Husband who cannot even look at a dish/vase/glass without breaking it and most of my English finds have found an untimely, early and deadly end with him. Definitely NOT a good item to have in my household either…. (He thankfully has other qualities though!)

      • Bridgewater is not always safe around children, but it was Evie, the Jack Russell that broke a bowl the other day, and I cannot even tell you how, I was not pleased with her! We buy a couple of new plates about once every two or three years and then it is a very big deal! Those hens sound fabulous. Would you believe it we have reserved two young hens for the spring of 2017 in Lower Normandy, it will be an overnight trip to go and collect them! Just so that we can get the rare breed that lays blue eggs!!! Mad yes, with it yes!!! No one could call us boring! xx

    • They had a seconds shop near Manchester where I bought all my Bird cups which I love. I will be very disappointed too if it has closed. What a shame. My french friends love them so much that they always ask for tea instead of coffee when they come here!

      • Miranda, it hasn’t closed, don’t panic, it was a mistake thank goodness! We buy a couple of new plates or bowls every two or three years, it is a real treat, but then we do use all the pieces every day, a complete mishmash of patterns and designs, so meals are always fun! Friends always seem to love having an assortment of plates around the table! xx

  • …. and I’ve just typed ‘Explain hygge’ into a well known search engine and on several English spoken Danish websites it said that this word was never intended to be translated at all – itsn’t that simply wonderful…. I ‘battle’ every day with my Swiss, but French spoken, husband as I, a Swiss German (and not only that, but Swiss-German spoken….) wife constantly challenge him with expressions he has not the first idea of…. Swiss-German is like a language all on its own, it’s a mostly only spoken language but in many ways totally different to German. So, when I sometimes speak Swiss-German to Hero Husband amongst French friends who think they know some German, it’s always a guaranteed moment of entertainment.
    I shall fully integrate the word hygge in my lifestyle – thank you, les Danois!

    • How I laughed at this, Roddy spent most of his holidays in his childhood in Grindelwald, both summer and winter, in fact that is where he learnt to cook. At that stage he spoke pretty good Swiss German, but now he has forgotten much of it, but still speaks French, English and Portuguese fluently, I’m only a little bit jealous!!! xxx

  • What a lovely post! Yes, Hygge is definitely popular in the UK, I was listening to radio2 the other day and Vanessa Feltz spent a whole hour talking about it. What a lovely home you have, great photos. Fantastic cat, too!

    • Thank you so much, I guess I must be slow catching on being in France! But the few English articles I read do seem to be full of it and then I saw it in two magazines a girlfriend brought over with her! Rory, our cat, is the sweetest, most friendly cat I have ever known, we have had him since we picked him out as a 7 week old kitten amongst many unwanted ones on a farm, along with his sister. xx

    • The Wabi Sabi concept, ok, that’s a new one for me, I shall be on Mr Google later searching away!! Always embrace life, it’s imperfections and every little thing, as you know, I think, that’s what I try to do! xx

  • You are not wrong, the UK has gone hygge mad.. yours must be the tenth article that I’ve read about it, the papers can’t tell us enough. It looks as if you are embracing it chez vous, the soup with spuds looks delicious as does the apple tart. I too, noticed the Emma Bridgewater and Portmeirion and do tell me what had your moggy so mesmerized? Your photo made me laugh out loud. Hope Izzi found the giblets!

    • That’s what I kind of gathered, but of course we are much behind here! It actually made me laugh, because the more I read, the more I thought, this is the lifestyle we are living already! Of course it’s relatively mild here and it doesn’t get dark even in December until 6pm but the message is the same. I have to admit I love our Bridgewater, we use it every single day, a complete mismatch of designs and patterns, just as I love it! We only have the one piece of Portmeirion inherited from my late mother in law. Rory, the cat had seen Evie, the Jack Russell, come into the room, the two of them are the best of friends and play together endlessly, very much rough and tumble games, but then they will curl up together and when Rory has had enough he just jumps up somewhere out of reach! Izzi found the giblets! much to her relief, the turkey is now cooked, she sent us a photo, it looks fabulous! xx

  • I do believe this is your best post! Your gentle reminder to savor the ordinary gifts of the every day and put down the cell phone and reconnect to the world around you. Today I celebrate my favorite holiday here in the States – Thanksgiving. You are now added to my list of that which I am truly grateful. Merci.

    • Thank you so much Holly, this is exactly what it was, hopefully just a suggestion, especially as it is Thanksgiving, that this is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends in a happy environment. We are truly grateful for so much and tonight at supper we raised a toast to all of our friends in the USA and all of the fabulous people who have made this blog so special. Thank you so much and a very happy Thanksgiving xxx

  • Hello Susan, Thank you so much for this post, I love it. Such an uplifting subject and your photo’s are delightful. A lovely simple way to live and you can’t beat it. XX

    • Thanks Loraine, I totally agree, a simple way of life that is so rewarding in so many ways. Of course we have mobile phones and computers and technology, but the point is to know when to leave it alone, that way we can enjoy the best of both worlds. Hope you have a lovely end to the week. xx

  • Did she ever find those giblets?
    I have been on the phone and texting my daughter , in Cape Town, more today than in the past year (she is not a very chatty person) because she is cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner for 6 friends tonight. She even made a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin because there is no canned pumpkin there. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, not commercial, no gift giving, just getting family and friends together around a great meal.
    And I love hygge, after living in Denmark for 2 years, it really rubbed off.

    • She did! and now we have had the photo of the cooked turkey, looks delicious, there are 32 of them, it will be quite a party! It seems our daughters have something in common, both cooking Thanksgiving dinners for their friends! Hope she has had fun in Cape Town and good on her for making a pumpkin pie from scratch, Izzi must have called about five times today!! I totally agree about the lack of commercialism for Thanksgiving, sometimes I wish that Christmas could be a little more like this. I never knew you lived in Denmark, we really do have to arrange a weekend together, I think it would be lots of fun with much to talk about! Hygge, the word, is totally new to me but the lifestyle is not, it’s what we love most about living here. xx

  • Hello Susan, being a Dane, I read your blog with great interest!- and a warm smile.
    I don’t know how, all of a sudden, hygge is so much talked about.
    I read an article in the French Femina written by a French journalist. And she had certainly not understood a word of what it is all about!
    In the first place, you can’t make Danish hygge in France.
    You have to have the right ingredients-
    Candles, you can’t get the right candles in France, at least not where I live. You can get all sorts of candles in the supermarkets, most of them have a scent of some kind, they are just not right. I have to go all the way to IKEA in Toulon to get the right ones. “Stearinlys”.
    Secondly you don’t have an “Æbleskivepande”. It’s a sort of heavy frying-pan with holes in it
    where you pour your ingredients for “æbleskiver”.
    Then at this time of the year
    where it gets dark around 4 o’ clock you meet with friends and family and have gløgg and æbleskiver.
    Gløgg is warm redwine with almonds, raisins, cinnamon and other spices, so maybe you can imagine what a Frenchman would say, if he was confronted with this sort of Danish hygge!
    But you are right, it’s mostly about being together and having a good time.
    Whatever we call it, let’s all have a good and peaceful time.
    Inge

    • Thank you Inge, well I am pleased you read it with a warm smile and I hope I didn’t do your country too much injustice. I did read that the candles must not be scented and we don’t use scented candles. Next time I go to Ikea in Bordeaux I shall look for some of the Stearinlys. Now we do have an Aebleskiver pan! and a small recipe booklet, the children adore them, I haven’t made them in a while but you have just jogged my memory and reminded me what fun it was, tomorrow for goûter that is what I shall do. Glogg sounds like our kind of English hot mulled wine, delicious, we have given some to French friends at Christmas and it was met with a few raised eyebrows!! I would love any other tips as to what is right/wrong, it really is very interesting to hear about this from a Danish person rather than from all the media hype written about it in foreign press. But at the end of the day, my message, was as you say, just very simple, living a happy life with friends in peace and enjoying every day. Thanks again for taking the time to comment, I have loved reading this. xx

  • I just bought a book called Thirty Chic Days by Fiona Ferris. Then, what popped up all throughout my Amazon recommendations??? Books about Hygge!!! I am a “Mortensen” – so my husband’s ancestry is Danish. We also lived for a decade near Solvang, California – a town founded by the Danes. still, hygge is a “new” concept that seems to be all the rage. It makes sense. Without knowing it, it has been what I have been seeking for some time. It is the reason we moved close to the beach. It is the reason we often go without access to TV. A simple way of life helps us appreciate the small pleasures in life. Great post! Happy Thanksgiving.
    Best & Bisous,
    Michelle from Simply Santa Barbara

    • Hi Michelle, I shall have to look up the book, would you recommend it? Interesting that Hygge has reached California too, it really does seem to have become worldwide and I can quite see why, without knowing it had a name it is precisely the life we moved here for and one that we find the most rewarding and enjoyable. Hope you have found what you are looking for close to the beach, there is nothing quite like the sound of the waves and water on the shore. Our youngest daughter plays tennis right next to the beach and I often take myself off for a twenty minute walk whilst she is having a lesson, I find it is one of the most relaxing places to walk. Enjoying the simple things, something I try to teach the children, but it is harder than it sounds! Hope you are having a lovely happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. xx

  • I grew up with the simple life, big family, farm life, playing outdoors all day, so some of the hygge lifestyle is stuck in my DNA. Unfortunately, so many now work nonstop to buy a lifestyle that they never ” stop to small the roses.” I love seeing your family around the table
    sharing a meal. And, Izzy, so sorry you have to cook a turkey being you are vegetarian as I am, and maybe you don’t mind. Giving Thanks today!

    • Hi Judi, that’s exactly the way I grew up, like you on the farm, always outside all day long, family meals around the old oak kitchen table, nothing fancy but always delicious and filling. We certainly don’t have the earning capacity here in France that we had in the UK, but life is so much richer in every other way, being able to collect the children from school, always having family meals together and taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life make it all so worthwhile. Despite being much poorer our life is so much more fulfilling. Izzi actually doesn’t mind, I think she has accepted that she is the only one who really knows how to cook! That being said she has called quite a few times today!!! A very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving to you. xx

  • Our son spent a semester in Denmark about 8 years ago and when he came home, hygge was all he talked about! He truly embraced it and still does, or tries to when he isn’t in the hustle and bustle of a high tech job. But Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to gather thoughts, serenity and loved ones. After this election season, it may be a challenge to feel hygge but we’ll gather around the fire after a big dinner, with our port wine and we’ll give it a go.

    • Your son is very lucky, I can imagine he really enjoyed a semester in Denmark, how lucky our children are these days that they get so many opportunities to study abroad. I hope you do have a really lovely, happy and peaceful Thanksgiving with your family. Gather around the fire and just focus on all the things to be thankful for. We raised a toast to all of our American friends and all of the wonderful people who have made this blog what it is at dinner tonight. xx

    • Thank you so much Anna, we have really embraced our lifestyle here in France and it truly is great way to live and to appreciate the small things. Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  • I’ve read about Hygge, without knowing how to pronounce it (thanks for that), and try to live it as possible. It seems to go nicely with respect for food, environment, other people.
    Love your fireplace dogs, and I hope Izzy and the turkey came to an agreement of sorts. Good for her, honoring her friends that way.

    • I agree, it encompasses what we try and achieve in our lifestyle, we just never knew it had a name! The dogs are Venetian and belonged to my late mother in law, they are well travelled and well loved! Izzi found the giblets! Several phone calls have taken place throughout the day, but she sent a photo, the turkey is cooked and looks fabulous, she is cooking for 32 people! It will be quite a party!! xx

  • Thanks for another quality blog post….yours is one of the very best blogs ever…and for informing me about ‘hygge’. I live on a small farm in southwest Virginia and pretty much embrace that lifestyle. Best wishes to you and your lovely family.

    • Thank you so much, I really really do appreciate it. I grew up on a farm in England, the best childhood, a simple life but always filled with so much love and happiness. It sounds as if you have a lovely lifestyle, who knew it had a name! Hope you have a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving today. xx

    • I rather think ‘hygge’ is the lifestyle all good, kind, caring, family-orientated people enjoy and try to live, surely? Whether it’s in the Danish style (with unscented candles), or in the French style (great lunches outside in high summer with a hundred family members), or the British style (with an extended family settling down to a fireside game of charades after a huge Sunday roast) – it’s all the same, surely? It’s all about love, tradition, familial love, conversation and a great thankfulness for the good things in life – be they a home-baked cake, fresh fish, a log fire, hot chocolate (I do like Horlicks though), flickering candles or a trouncing at draughts by a small person.

      Perhaps we should start a HYGGE political movement, embrace all nations and peoples of the world, and get sensible people to sort the planet out. One can dream surely? For as surely as God made little children, we’re all going to suffer sooner rather than later if we don’t stop and do something. I’ve never known a world driven by such poor leadership, we need to send them a HYGGE t-shirt!

      Great post as always Susan. My admiration for you grows by the day – you seem to reach the parts of blog-readers that other blogs do not reach (to misquote the old cliched advert – 🙂 )

      • Susan; do not read this (it will make you blush, very likely!)
        Hi Phil, you made me laugh…. Only yesterday I discussed a ‘niche market’ for ‘I’m hygge’ T-shirts… 🙂 and I said to Hero Husband ‘We should send them to all the Donalds/Boris’ of this world’ (I mentionned also some French governmental ‘grosses têtes’ big wigs….) It’s also a great worry to me (who is very positive but worries a lot) regarding to What do we leave for our children and their children when ‘this’ is over? —–
        And you are spot on with your appraisal of Susan’s blog – she really, really reaches out to a good many people and I’m glad I’ve discovered her (if only late).

      • Thank you so much Phil, I am quite lost for words, well almost!! I too think the world could really do with embracing Hygge. But most of all you are so right, I would have written this post even if I hadn’t heard of Hygge, it just happened to have a name and made it more ‘in the moment’ but in reality this is just a way of life that I would recommend to everyone, a slightly more down to earth back to basics way of living. I cannot tell you how much our children enjoy a good game of draughts, playing cards or the teenagers a lengthy debate around the kitchen table, once they get involved they far prefer it to their iPads and phones. Just as tv was considered the easy and cheap babysitter so technology has become the instant friend, we have to remind ourselves to value real friendships. Grey and wet here but very mild. I would imagine it is much the same in your fishing hut overlooking the Channel or is it the Solent? xx

  • Loved seeing your cosy family time spent sharing relaxing times together. After moving to France 26 yrs ago I never realized how much our everyday life would change. Our daughter has a French husband, our son married a Danish girl , they both have families & we have the wonderful pleasure of enjoying both French & Danish ways of everyday life. In Denmatk the short winter days with lots of candles being lit late afternoon, while we enjoy an afternoon tea & some sort of spiced cake or freshly baked biscuit, somehow seems to be a thing of the past in England. We have our son with us here at the moment helping us for the next week while we are moving, I just asked him how he would describe the word ‘hygge’ and it’s exactly how you have shown it through your camera. So I’ll sign off with a special message for you & Roddy and your lovely children ” tak for sidst det var hyggeligt “

    • Where would we be without google translate or any online translation for that matter as I don’t speak a word of Danish, but the computer does, Thank you! I am so happy your son thinks I have made a reasonable representation of hygge, that makes me really happy! Everyday life here is different, I wonder, something I have never asked you and something I would love to talk about, as an expat, has French life changed a lot in the past 26 years, I would imagine the answer is yes and no. Have a lovely weekend and hope the final moving days go smoothly. xx

  • I have been practicing hygee for years, it is the way I live my life all the time. In fact I wrote a post about this very thing a few weeks ago. I think the concept is perfect for everyone!

    Love seeing how your practice it!

    • I think it is a fabulous concept that everyone who wanted to could and can embrace easily. I shall go back over your blog and find your post, I have loved reading so much about hygge, the lifestyle we lead and enjoy so much, so it was fun to suddenly find so much was written about just what we are doing! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving xx

  • I had some pastry in the fridge and made the apple pie last night, served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, truly delicious and you are right, absolutely no need for any added sugar, my son and daughter loved it. I showed them your photos and now of course they want the soup for lunch, the porridge for breakfast and the marshmallows too – can I just send them over to live with you!!

    • Hi Rebecca, sure, I mean a couple more mouths to feed won’t make much difference here!!! We actually roasted marshmallows last night, we do it every now and then, it’s a great treat and always makes for lots of giggles and isn’t that just what life is about, doing things together, even the simplest of little things. So glad you liked the apple pie, it has become a firm favourite around here, it is so quick and easy and a relatively healthy dessert, plus I always make extra purée because the children then love having some with their breakfast. xx

  • Ah, candles! My girlfriend spends a fortune on candles, saying they are good for the soul. I think she may be right, for there is nothing better to relax in than a candle-lit room – flames may just be the flickering caress the soul needs sometimes.

    Great photos, as always, Susan – your photography skills continue to evolve, methinks. I’ll definitely buy a couple of HYGGE shirts of you make some!

    • Ha ha! I love candles, growing up I remember I used to sit with my father by the fire, we would turn the lights off and watch the flames in the hearth, telling stories to each other, the imagination running wild, special times I will never forget. xx

  • Beautiful family and great post, your lifestyle and your family are an inspiration to us all. Yours is unquestionably now my number one blog.

    • Thank you so much Saskia, so glad you enjoyed the post, even without a name, I think it is a lifestyle that is easy to achieve and very fulfilling for everyone, it has certainly been wonderful for our family. Hope you have a lovely weekend, are you in Europe or America, or somewhere else in the world? xx

  • Well, this is the first time I’ve heard of Hygge! And I live in the UK! But having just returned from a few days away in Cornwall with my 3 brothers and their wives, to celebrate one of the brother’s 60th, I can say that Hygge was very much in existence! We all have busy lives and do manage to get together occasionally for a drink or a meal, but have never been away all together like this. My brother decided it was how he wanted to spend his 60th birthday, with his family. How would it go? 8 adults together indoors in winter? Well, it was brilliant! We shared an amazing barn conversion in St Issey so there was plenty of space. It was warm and cosy with views to the bay over fields. We went for walks in the blustery wind, watched hailstorms in Padstow from the shelter of a shop, played games in the evenings and ended the stay with Murder Down Under (my husband was the one ‘what done it!’)!! We didn’t stop laughing the whole few days. We each cooked one meal and ate out on the birthday. If it wasn’t Hygge I don’t know what it was! Everything you said had a resonance with how we’ve been feeling about life over the last few years. It’s exactly how life should be, not ostentacious and materialistic, but full of sharing of beautiful things, making simple gatherings special with a beautifully laid table maybe, spending summer evenings with friends in the garden, play a game, sit round the table chatting, leave the phones indoors! I think sharing is the word. that’s what it’s all about – and your blog does exactly that Susan, so thank you for your bit of Hygge every week!!

    • Wow that sounds as if it was an incredible few days, what fun, now that you know your husband was ‘the one’, do you feel quite safe at home!!! I remember a weekend several years ago for Roddy’s step brother’s 50th near Padstow. We went kite surfing and finished with lunch at Rick Stein’s. a fabulous weekend and just as you described, no tv, no electronics, just lots of exercise, fresh air and lots of laughter and chatter. The best type of weekend away. It’s wet and grey here but very mild, even the hens have stopped laying so much, I think they are quite disgusted by the damp garden! Still it is November, notoriously our wettest month, onwards and upwards to Christmas! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Wonderful post Susan! Full of delicious looking food related moments. I find that is way so many people find a second or two to sit down and ponder things.

    • I do totally agree Lily, when we are all busy and life is a little rushed to say the least, always taking the time to sit down and eat together is a fabulous way to connect. It is when we discuss our day with the children, we chat about what they have done, what we have done, all sorts of things, items in the news, who knows are topics are wide and varied, but I wouldn’t miss our family meals for anything. xx

  • Well living in my own little bubble I had no idea there was a name for it. I am naturally a rather slow person …. I have a ludicrously slow pulse-rate and low blood pressure and the standing joke (which came into play yesterday as I made my Thanksgiving dinner) was that everything I cook is sloooooooowly done. Perhaps I’m a Great Dane after all …. I’m certainly lanky enough! I loved reading this, I loved your pictures and mostly I wish you many slow, relaxed and Hygge days to come 🙂 xx

    • Slow food, there is a huge movement advocating the advantages of this! Now we may live the Hygge lifestyle, but I am not sure are days are that slow! rather fast paced and rushing by at a rate of knots at the moment, cannot quite believe we are hurtling towards Christmas, I haven’t done a thing, three weeks and the children will be on holiday? need to buy some pressies pdq! Are you here or Stateside for Christmas?? xx

      • We are in England for Christmas … my next month consists of 1st December leave Boston, 2nd December arrive Oxon, 12th December leave Oxon, 13th December arrive Grenoble, 20th December leave Grenoble (or Cantal), 21st December arrive Oxon, 31st December celebrate New Year in Eurotunnel, 1st January arrive Cantal or Grenoble depending on whether we have successfully found nice digs in the latter on foray in December! All this is because for the first time in four far too long years I will have Christmas with ALL my girlies and my mamma … a slow life can be rich, full and fast methinks! And my children tease me and say my cooking has finally come into fashion!!!! Bon courage with the preparations for Chrimbletide – you’ll breeze it! Xx

      • That’s quite a lot of back and forth between Oxfordshire and Grenoble! Quite a difference in places too I imagine! Hope you manage to find somewhere to rent, I am sure you will. But far more importantly how fabulous that you will all be together, sounds like it is going to be a great cause for a wonderful celebration, three generations, just as it should be, fantastic. New Year in the Eurotunnel could be a smudge interesting, but then I’m a Christmas girl rather than a New Year’s Eve girl anyway so it wouldn’t phase me too much, too many years of having young children and never being able to go out on the 31st has become habit! Haven’t thought much about Christmas, next week, I’ll do it next week!!! Xx

      • The theory is that we do the recce and find a place and are ready to take the keys at the start of January …. the theory 😉 I absolutely can’t wait for Christmas this year. The Malaysia daughter is flying over and we are all renting a cottage down the road from mother so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed by us all. Secret Santas have their instructions but Mummy Christmas can’t resist stockings for the chicklettes because it is just too special to be all together at what, in my opinion too, is a magical time of year. New Year I grew out of with children as I think is the norm and I don’t want to grow back into it! xx

      • OMG it sounds like so much fun, just reading this is getting me in the Christmas spirit, I love doing all the stockings, it has to be organised with complete military precision with all five of them, but I never want to stop doing it. So glad I am not the only one who has totally lost interest in New Year’s Eve! But Christmas, Christmas is so special, I get as excited as the children, I love everything about it. And your Christmas this year is going to be so extra special, so happy for you xxx

      • Thank you! It will be organised chaos which is just the way I like it! And yours will be magical …. I get so irked by the moaners and groaners at Christmas – I say count thy blessings and I know you are a kindred in that and many other regards xx

      • My life is well organised chaos, seems to work just fine!!! Totally agree, Christmas is magical and we all need a little magic in our lives. And finally the sun is shining here again after a week of grey and damp weather, a week of sun is forecast, so no surprises I’m off to a tennis court, outdoors today! Have a great weekend xxx

      • And you too! I’m headless and spinning like a top as I try and figure out what to take with me on Thursday for 7-8 months away! 😳 xx

  • I was first introduced to the concept of hygge a few years ago when I read a book about the Nordic countries. Although it hasn’t caught on like wildfire as the new “It” thing in Canada, I expect it is only a matter of time. This post is the best description of the concept I’ve read though. You’ve really managed to capture it in your home ❤

    • It certainly hasn’t caught on as the new “it” thing in France either and I doubt it ever will, but I know it is everywhere in the UK from what I have read and what people have told me in comments. Thank you so much for your lovely compliment, I am glad I have managed to go some way towards capturing what it is all about, but to be honest, I would have written the most anyway, even if it didn’t have a specific name, it was more geared towards the fact that I think it is a lovely rewarding way to live. The fact that I found out it was so in vogue was just the icing on the cake!! Hope you have a lovely weekend. Xx

      • Since I have a general love for all things french, I would say that France doesn’t need to embrace hygge as a fad because they naturally already have it … although they would likely call it a certain je ne sais quoi ❤

      • Very true, I have not heard of it here but Inge left a comment earlier, she is Danish and said that she had read a dreadful article about Hygge in a French magazine, so they must have heard of it here in some places! For me it will always just be our every day French lifestyle, that slightly slower pace of life and most of all a life and friendships that are not judged by ones material possessions. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Xx

  • Thank you again. This lovely post eleviates the guilt I have felt over the years when quizzed by friends on the buying of flowers for my house, or a particularly lovely fragranced candle as extravagant. The lighting of the sconces and pouring wine into a special glass, picking herbs for the dinner I’m cooking and opening the french doors to the evening when warm enough. None of these things expensive or time consuming at all but just trying to make each day special in a minor way. My husband and children’s look of peace and contentment coming home showing it’s been worth the time taken. I have far to go after reading of this lovely movement and my only question is does the harsh word sound better with a french accent? An Australian one certainly ruins it’s chances!

    • You know what I say good for you! Sometimes I think I must be crazy lighting candles every evening at supper and making a big effort, but it is so worth it. We all sit down and enjoy the meal, we all talk. It costs nothing and takes very little time, but it does create a wonderful atmosphere. I love having flowers on the table, sometimes I question myself for buying them in the winter, but then I think I don’t buy Starbucks coffee once or twice a week (sadly we don’t have one!) So spending that same amount on fresh flowers actaully gives me far more pleasure. I am no expert at all, this is just our everyday lifestyle that happens to have a name so I have just found out, but you can research plenty about it on the web. Simple contentment. I am trying to get my tongue around saying hygge with a French accent, I am not sure I even pronounce it properly with an English one!!! Have a lovely weekend, finally we have some sunshine after a week of rain and damp, grey weather. We are off to play tennis outdoors for a change and then the girls and I are going to spend an afternoon in a beautiful nearby French town together, before dinner at a friends house, sounds like a hygge type of day to me!!! Xx

  • Susan,
    One thing that continues to draw me back to your blog…is the topics you choose to write about! I leave each and everyone of them a little wiser and humbled … Thank you!
    I like it; Hygge! To me it almost means “stop and smell the roses.” In this hustle and bustle world of ours I truly like to take time to meet old friends or family, attend our local art museums, walk around the lakes in the summer, read, decorate, and make the world a little better through my volunteer work.
    The first snow fall is so utterly breath taking. This week I had the chance to once again experience its
    beauty! This is Hygge at its best.
    Decorating for 🎄 seems to bring out those moments and memories that I just don’t want to erase! And then there is always new Traditions to begin…
    Solitude is something that I could never find time for…now it is a must in my every day life!
    Loved this post Susan…it reminds me that I am doing some things right in my life…🙃
    Have a great week ❤️.

    • Thank you so very much, I just write about the things I find interesting or amusing and our daily life! I think it is so important to try and slow down a little in this world or else it will slip us by in one mad rush and volunteer work is so admirable, good for you. Also jealous that you had your first snow! It has been really mild here, but that also tends to mean grey and damp weather, however today the sun has returned and we have a forecast for the next ten days of non stop sun, so although it will be chilly that is good, no snow forecast sadly, we still always dream of a white Christmas but I doubt it will ever happen, snow is very rare here. I love decorating for Christmas, I love everything about Christmas, the memories, as you say, and also it is just such a wonderful time of togetherness. We don’t start decorating here until next week at the earliest, but this afternoon the girls and I are heading out for a little Christmas shopping and to see the lights in a very pretty town not too far from here, a girls day out as they call it, and then we are going to a friends house for dinner, hopefully a very hygge day! Hope you have a lovely weekend, big hugs from France xxx

  • Good morning Sue….there has been much mention of Hygge recently….along with photographs of cosy settings, but none so enticing as yours, I might add:) What a beautiful family you have, and the photographs, (food especially) were mouth wateringly marvellous…..I think I need to make some soup today. I actually have some Danish blood on my Father’s side and so relate to many things Scandinavian. However, it is beautiful France where my heart really stays. Hope you continue to enjoy a very lovely weekend filled with relaxations and warmth….janet. xx

    • Thank you so much Janet, one of the best things about winter has to be soup! Hearty meals in a bowl. I love Scandanavia, so it is nice to being a little of their lifestyle and mix it with our French/Anglo lifestyle, but really it doesn’t need a name it’s just a great way to live a fairly natural life. After a week of grey and damp weather the sun is shining again and is forecast to stay all week! I had almost forgotten what it looked like! Have a lovely Sunday xx

    • Thanks so much, despite the rain hope you are having a lovely Sunday in Portland and welcome to the blog. Wonderful to have you following along and thanks for taking the time to comment, always very much appreciated xx

    • Hi Monika, I wish it would ease into winter white, but extremely doubtful here, we would all be so excited to see some snow! However the damp and grey weather of last week has given way to clear skies and brilliant sunshine, which in turn means the temperature has dropped quite considerably but we don’t mind, this is perfect walking weather and even better to then come back in to a warm house and a cup of tea! Hope you have had a lovely weekend. xx

  • Back AGAIN…. 🙂
    You won’t believe this but I’m actually just reading ‘I can’t begin to tell You’ by E. Buchan, a fascinating and scary novel on happenings in WWII, including Denmark and what do I find on page 93? HYGGE THAT IS…. I quote:….. Ruby replaced the Encyclopedia, wrote down te word HYGGE, which she liked the sound of, and went to catch the bus…..
    Last week, in a Guardian newsletter the word hygge appeared too…. And I’d never ever heard it before your blog post…. incredible!
    So much so, that I have decided – against my own Sunday basically NO INTERNET rule – to inform you of this important aspect of my life, ha ha…..
    Bisous to all and sunders… Kiki

    • Wow, you are right, incredible, so it really has been around a long time, I love this, thanks so much for breaking your Sunday rule to let me know. It seems like it is everywhere! Had more or less an internet free day also which I love. Clear blue skies and lots of sun, biting wind and chilly but perfect dog walking weather and even nicer to then come back inside this evening to the warmth of the kitchen and a nice cup of tea! Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

  • What a lovely sharing story with glorious photos too. These encompass some of the many reasons we want to move to France, but, of course, we’re trying to enjoy our lives here in the U.S. until that happens. Probably, Izzi needed to check the other end of the turkey for the giblets! That’s where mine was.

    • Thanks Paulita, so many positive things about living a more simplistic back to basics lifestyle, but of course it doesn’t have to be in France, it can be anywhere! Izzi found the giblets, it was a huge turkey, and she just had to probe a bit deeper! You are quite right in enjoying where you are whilst you are there, there are always positive things wherever we live. Xx

  • Such a wonderful post on SO MANY levels. Hygge…love this. I had a major fight with butcher in Paris about a turkey from Bress…long story but we did the traditional American dinner there 16 years ago.

  • I hope you told her to look at the other END for the little bag?
    THE CROWN……..what a FEAST for me that show was!SO< HAPPY you have confirmed a sequel!!!!
    I think WE do your HYGEE……….that is what makes us a little bit different from the rest of the HOOD here in the STATES!LOve the photo of you on the BIKE!
    XX

    • She found it! It was a BIG bird and she just had to probe a lot deeper!! We loved The Crown, just finished all the episodes, looking forward to season 2 already! It’s always good to be a little different and anyway wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same! xx

    • Thanks so much, the soup is one of our firm family favourites. We make it with beef, chicken, turkey, it works well with all of them, a vegetable or chicken broth and carrots and potatoes as you say. Healthy and delicious and very warming on a cold day. xx

  • Susan,
    Saw this on my FB page today!
    Thought you might enjoy how the Danish enjoy “Hygge.”
    I hope the link works!
    Stephanie❤️https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10108764397000090&id=13930993

    • Thanks so much, I had to copy and paste the link and then yes it worked! It was a lovely read, exactly what I believe in, a reminder that winter should indeed be a time to embrace so much, thank you so much for thinking of me. xxx

  • And I found this in today’s Guardian ‘bookworm newsletter’ naming the new additions to the Oxford Dictionary as one of 10 on the shortlist:
    hygge: noun
    A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

    Well there….. 🙂

    • Thank you for “having my back.” I rarely copy and paste things so it is nice to know that someone is watching out for me. Thank you.
      Stephanie🌲❤️

      • Stephanie; you were just one place up, and I AM interested in this kind of social phenomena, so I made it my pleasure to follow that up – Wishing you a great Christmas time. After all, next Sunday will be the 4th Advent already!

      • But the best thing is Stephanie that the info was there, because by copying and pasting it I was able to read it and thanks to Kiki for making it easy for everyone else. Oh and I just love your Christmas trees xxx

  • Thank you Thank you Thank You! Christmas is coming too soon! But I love the story of Christ’s Birth and singing Silent Night to a candlelit sanctuary ❤️. Favorite night of the Year!
    Merry Christmas…

  • I so loved your post. It’s good for family to be together as much as possible & be thankful as much as we can. Always beautiful family photos!

  • Thanks for this amazing post! It was such a great way to look into another culture. I know that in South Korea, while traditionally (so in my parent’s days) people socialized with each other often that neighbors became your family and such, these days when I visit from the States, ALL people do is go on their phones. Social media and electronics have permeated into society so much that I’m longing and envying this hygge lifestyle. Thanks for sharing once again!
    xo,
    Stephanie

    • Thanks so much Stephanie, I quite agree with you. Whereas once people chatted now they just tap away on their phones, trying to get people disconnected can be hard work. I think there is so much to be said for the hygge lifestyle for all ages. It’s a great way to really enjoy everything about life. Hope you have had a lovely holidays xx

  • And, should I add, I don’t only appreciate knowing better the region you live in, but so many other ‘things’ you express so beautifully through this wonderful blog.

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