Category Archives: hygge

Having a Cold and My So Called Life

September 10, 2016

You know when you sneeze and you think it allergies?  And then a few hours later your throat is a little scratchy?  And then by nightfall your nose is running like Niagara Falls?  Yeah, not allergies.  You’re done for.  Ugh.  And I have had this cold since Tuesday, and it’s a bad one…waaah!!!

So, I haven’t gone anywhere all week and basically have parked my runny nose and Kleenex box on Stanley the sofa watching TV.  Yes, my sofa has a name.  It’s the best sofa on earth.  I got it 10 years ago from Montauk Sofa and it was the best purchase of my life.  It’s the sturdiest, most comfortable sofa ever made.  If a hug could be made into a sofa, it would look land feel like Stanley.

I could write a whole blog post on Stanley the sofa, but I won’t.  (Maybe another time.)  Today, I am going to write about what I did all week while coughing and sneezing.  I watched My So Called Life on Netflix.  Do you know about My So Called Life?  You should.  It stars a teenage Claire Danes as Angela Chase, an angsty teen and her love interest Jordan Catalano, played by a then unknown Jared Leto.  Yes, THAT Jared Leto!  30 Seconds to Mars Jared Leto.  You guys, where was I in the 90s?  What was I watching that I missed this the first go around?  Friends?

I cannot believe how good this show is you guys.  Or should I say “was”, since it’s technically a cancelled TV drama from the 90s.  And do you know how I know it was so good?  I watched all 19 episodes.  ALL. OF. THEM.  Night after night, just me,  Jeff and my Kleenex box on Stanley the sofa, glued to the TV.  (You’re not supposed to know that Jeff watched too…so, shhh.  But he loved it also.)


I am really quite surprised at the range of topics this show dealt with back then in the 90s…unrequited teenage love, illiteracy, alcoholism, guns, school violence, homophobia and homelessness.  The series wasn’t only forward thinking, it holds it’s relevancy to this day.  I think that’s why I am so struck by it.  And why on earth was there only one season???  I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WITH ANGELA CHASE AND JORDAN CATALANOOOOOOAAAAHHHH!!!

Look at this!  20 years after the show got cancelled Vanity Fair wrote and article about My So Called Life wondering what would have happened in Season 2.  Vanity Fair!  They even want to know what happens!!!

But you know what I realized while I was sick and struggling to breathe because of my ever-dripping nose?  I was doing something very Danish and the very thing I have been talking about the past few weeks.  I was inside my home, on the most comfortable sofa in the world, snuggled under the coziest throw blanket watching a seriously excellent TV series with Jeff…it was so HYGGE!!!


Can I talk about this throw blanket for a minute?  I saw this blanket at Crate and Barrel and just had to have it.  It reminds me so much of Greece.  This patchwork-pattern is reminiscent of a traditional Greek “kourelou”.  The world “kourelia” means rags and way back in the day, it was common for Greek women in the village to take pieces of fabric from old shirts and dresses that ceased being useful and repurpose them into these beautiful loom-woven rugs, or “kourelou”.  They were bright and colorful and the weave was very distinct.  There is no mistaking a Mediterranean “kourelou”.

Here’s a Greek company, called Kooreloo that makes purses, satchels and backpacks using the traditional “kourleou” pattern.  Aren’t these bags totally cute?  I totally want one.  Or two.  Or three.  I mean, come on!  What a clever little idea.  So super cute.  Dare I say that the “kourelou” weave is to Greece, what the Burberry check is to Britain?  It’s true.

Anyway, if you are ever looking to binge watch a TV series to practice your hygge, I recommend you wrap yourself up in a blanket and watch My So Called Life.  And then message me so we can commiserate about why there wasn’t another season and where on earth was Tino?



source: @abcnetwork

Coffee shops + Record Stores = Chicago Hygge

September 1, 2016

I went to school at the University of Illinois in Urbana.  My friends and I used to study at the local coffee shop called “Espresso Royale'” and back then it was open 24/7.  It was a serious coffee shop.  It was a professional coffee shop.  it was the mother of all coffee shops.  Oh, you need to pull an all nighters?  This coffee shop is where you went.

golden chairs

There weren’t any “grandes” or “ventis” at this coffee shop, only LARGE.  One would order a large coffee and pull and all nighter studying.  Or caffeinate yourself and stay up all night, not studying and just talking the night away with your friends. Or have several coffees and stay up all night at the cafe pretending to study while you and your friends stalk a guy in a local band who was actually studying.   I never did such a thing…well.  Maybe. Actually no.  I’ll never tell.  All I know is that I went to Espresso with a lot of good intentions and more often than not ended up over-caffeinated and giggly, and not studying as much as I should have.  Real studying only occurred in a couple all nighters before mid-terms. Oh hallow’d halls of high’r education, how i has’t did miss thee.  Did you know I took Shakespeare classes for fun?  True story.


Well, since those days coffee shops have held a special place in my heart. They are the meeting ground for like minds who want to get away and read or write or just zone out and browse the interwebs for hours. It’s good for people watching, and chatting or just looking at local art.  And guess what? Coffee shops, they are also very hygge. Oh yeah! You know it.  It’s Friday, we have to talk about how to get your weekly dose of hygge.  Because hygge = happiness and that cozy feeling all Danes know about and we here in the States are just learning.

In last week‘s episode, I explored the West Loop and the Allis. It’s basically a lounge on a stretch of block in Chicago’s west side that will remind you of New York’s SoHo neighborhood.  A little bit.  Maybe. Try squinting.

filter store front

This week, we are going explore some college nostalgia in a coffee shop.  My all time favorite coffee shop in Chicago is Filter Cafe. Appropriately named. There is no mistaking their line of work. They serve coffee in a no non-sense kind of way that reminds me of the coffee shop of my youth in Urbana. The coolest thing about Filter is you get to sit on all of these really awesome retro couches and chairs.  I call it “grandma-chic”.  The only thing missing is the plastic covers.  I kid you not…the velvet vibe is strong here.

And so, I get my coffee and my book and sit down in one of these old sofas and perch my legs on the coffee table and read. And it feels like a big hug.  A big soft grandmotherly hug.

filter menu 2

A little flashback to college again. My friends and I were very much into the local music scene at the time in Urbana.  We listened to bands like Hum, Steakdaddy Six,  Jumpknuckle, Mother and Tiny.  I might have also had a crush on the guy from Jumpknuckle, but I never stalked him in a cafe.  Maybe.  Actually no.  I’ll never tell.

reckless long view

Anyway, the only place to get music back then, was at the record store.  This was the cassette tape and CDs era boys and girls.  The last stop before iPods took over our lives. So that’s where we got our music and created mix tapes. Remember mix tapes? I am so digging into my mom’s basement this weekend to find my mix tapes. But I have to find a cassette player first.  Do they even make cassette players anymore?

reckless sign

So the reason I bring this up is because two doors down from my favorite coffee shop in all of Chicagoland, is something else that reminds me of college. A record store! Reckless Records. Now this place has real records, vinyl, you know, the stuff we had before the age of cassette tapes. I am all into analog music now.  There’s just something special about listening to vinyl. It’s warmer, more intense and forces you to listen to the whole album. Do you know how many gems are lost these days because your iPhone allows you to buy only the “hits” if you want?  So much art is lost, never to be heard. Don’t do it guys. Someone worked hard on these songs, they should be enjoyed in their entirety, like a good book, even the B-side. Okay, off my soap box now. I will dedicate a different post to vinyl another day.

reckless poster

Anyway, records stores: good browsing here.  Look at those posters up there.  ^^  A 1981 poster of Prince, next to one of Hüsker Dü.  You just never know what you will find.  Maybe some Ella Fitzgerald or some Talking Heads.  Or an old copy of REO Speedwagon.  Did you know REO Speedwagon is from Champaign-Urbana? Yes!  It’s true, the I’m Gonna Keep on Lovin’ You guys are from the Midwest.  Sometimes, I get lucky and find a rare or oddball copy of a Greek album and I feel it is my duty (as a Greek girl) to save it from oblivion.  I once found this crazy copy of Mikis Theodorakis at the record store and wondered how it came to pass, that this obscure album found itself here in a Wicker Park record store.

So, this week, why don’t you go to your local coffee shop and cozy up In a soft chair with a good book drink too much coffee.  And then, find an old record shop, buy and album and play it at home and really listen to it all night with your friends, because, well, too much coffee.  Listen to the music, the words, and the story this artist wants to tell.  It’s musical hygge for your ears.



P.S.  Do you have a  favorite coffee shop?  Tell me.  What’s your favorite album?  I wanna know!!!

filter papers

Hygge…the Inner Hug of Happiness from Denmark

August 26, 2016

Hygge, it’s the export from Denmark that we should all have a piece of.  It’s the inner hug you get from being cute and cozy.  It’s sacred time with friends or family.  It’s the good life.


Hygge?  What on earth am I talking about and how do you say this crazy word?  Repeat after me, “hyoogah.”  Hyoogah.”  Yes, “hyoogah.”  I know, I know.  Just say it.


So what is this thing I speak of?  Well, it’s the key to Danish happiness.  And it’s perhaps the single most important feature of Danish life.  Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.  In fact, it’s been the happiest country for 40 years in a row.  And with that kind of track record, I think we should all look a little closer to discover why.

Okay, now that we know it’s an essential ingredient to life in Denmark, you might be asking yourself, what is it exactly?  And why should I care?  Well, hygge is not easily translatable into English.  It just doesn’t exist.  Loosely translated it means, coziness, comfort, the good life, that sacred time be it with yourself or with friends and family…and I love this concept.


Hygge can be a noun or a verb.  It’s a feeling and experience and it’s warm and “cozy”.  It’s about  making yourself feel good.  And I am all about that.  My blog in fact is all about hygge-type feelings.  Nostalgia. Saudade.  Memories.  Things and experiences that I love and makes me feel good inside.  The good life.

It’s more than just spending time with family.  I mean think about Thanksgiving and how crazy that can get.  Thanksgiving can sometimes be the complete opposite of hygge ironically.  There is nothing cozy and cute about stuffing yourself with a huge turkey and mashed potatoes until you are asleep on the sofa, perhaps after hours of bickering and drinking too much while cooking for 8 hours…ugh.  Not hygge.

Instead picture this:  Hygge is when the lighting is low, and you light some candles and you sit on a comfy sofa with a friend or your significant other drinking a glass of wine and just talking and spending time with them.  Cute and comfortable right?


Or, hygge is going to a cute little cafe with little soft couches for you sit at, sipping a hot chocolate, typing on your laptop while it’s raining outside.  Cozy right?

Hygge is when you invite 6 or 7 of your closest friends to your home and sit around the table enjoying a home cooked meal with a rich, red wine, just laughing and talking into the night.  Maybe playing some old records.  (Yes I said records.  I will talk about my analog music obsession at another time, but totally hygge…trust me.)  No drama, no bickering, only happiness.  In the immortal words of Martha Stewart, “it’s a good thing.”


So now that we know what hygge is and that it’s really important.  How can we get some?  I want to be happy and I am sure you want to be happy.  Since we can’t all be Danish, that’s what we will explore each Friday on Saudade on Sunday…except on Fridays.  Yes, I did just say that.  It’s a new feature okay?  Just go with it.  Hygge Fridays!  Woot.

Denmark is mostly cold and snowy and one can easily see how you can get hygge easily there. Snuggle under a blanket with your Netflix and your good.  But it’s the end of August you say…how does hygge work in the summer?  I am so glad you asked.

In my first attempt at getting some more hygge into my life (on purpose and not by accident), I decided to go explore a little nook on Green Street in Chicago’s West Loop for some after work drinks with my hubby.  We decided on The Allis, which is actually the lounge in the Soho House Chicago.  I am changing that wild and crazy “happy hour” that most people do after a long work week and making it “hygge hour”.

finger sammies

The Allis, is the name of the building that was built in 1907 and for many years it was uninhabited and unused in the West Loop until it was developed by Soho House.  That whole block on Green Street from Washington Boulevard to Randolph Street is a cozy little nook with all sort of secret little bars and restaurants to explore.  It’s the most hygge block in the West Loop!  Maybe even in all of Chicago.  Or Illinois.  Or maybe the US.  Dare I say the world even!!! Sorry, getting carried away here.

Anyway, as I was saying, Jeff and I sat outside and ordered some cocktails and little finger sandwiches, because what is a cocktail without finger sandwiches?  Little hygge, finger sandwiches, come on!  Egg salad, salmon with cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches to be exact.  So much better than beer and peanuts right?  Now don’t get me wrong, I like beer and peanuts as much as the next person.  Actually, I don’t like beer at all, but I can see it’s value.  Maybe when eating a salty pizza or watching a ballgame and eating a hotdog.  But hanging out with 40,000 people at a baseball stadium, well that’s just not hygge.

one sammy

Those sandwiches!  They were so cute I didn’t want to eat them.  Chomp!  One bite into Jeff’s mouth and they were gone.  The cocktails were served in these really beautiful crystal cut glasses.  I had their Basil Blossom cocktail, a pretty little concoction of white rum and maraschino and Mallorca melon tea.  And Jeff had the Eastern Standard, a manly mix of vodka, mint and cucumber (I think it sounds like a spa drink, but don’t tell him I said that, but totally scores major hygge points.)

So that’s what we did this Friday.  We sat at our cute little wooden table, people watching on Green street, enjoying our craft cocktails and tiny sandwiches.  I bet if I asked a Danish Viking if that was hygge, they would give me an A+.  So this week, why don’t you go find a small little bar that you have been wanting to go to with a friend and just order one drink and a small snack and slowly enjoy it.  Savor the moment.  Get some hygge in your life.

See you next week for my next installment of Hygee Friday.


empty basil drink