#12DaysofHygge – Day 12: Tourist in my town + Giveaway from LUQL!

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Dating an ex-pat, I am very accustomed and happy to be a #touristinmytown. It’s fun to see familiar things in a new light, and I always enjoy going somewhere I’ve never been or trying out a new activity. When the people at a new travel app called LUQL (http://luql.io) reached out to me last month about taking a tour in Vancouver, I was intrigued. As you may have read, I love a good tour when travelling, but I’ve never taken a tour in my own city. I suppose most people haven’t(?)

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#12DaysofHygge Day 9 – My Favourite Craft Beer Tasting Rooms in Metro Vancouver

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Steel & Oak tasting room in New Westminster

Vancouver is a hub for many industries, including tech, film, and mining. But a more relatable ‘industry’ is the craft beer scene – no, craft beer isn’t just a ‘hipster’ thing. (Are hipsters even a thing anymore? I’m not a ‘hipster’, and Brit most certainly isn’t one.) In a city and province where ‘big beer’ has strong roots, craft beer has taken over with creative spins on classics, focus on flavour, and top-notch tasting rooms.

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#12DaysofHygge – Day 8: Candles & Cocktails + City Girl Connects with French Seventy Six

Candles are… Practical. Sensory. Fanciful. Romantic. Celebratory. Cozy. The perfect lighting for a photograph. A major player in making a space feel hygge.

As Buddha once said:

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

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#12 Days of Hygge – Day 7: Date Night In

The Brit recently sent me a link to a Time Magazine clip that was on their Facebook page about hygge. It sums up hygge really nicely as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” A great example of this is when I go to cook and eat with my friend Karen. It’s also how I feel when the Brit and are at home or off on an adventure.

When we went to the Sunshine Coast in October, we stayed in Gibsons for a night on our way back home from Powell River. We had a cute Airbnb booked and had plans go into ‘downtown’ Gibsons for a date night of dinner and a #pintandaflight at one of the craft breweries the town is known for.

But then we got to our Airbnb and the view was PHENOMENAL. Our Airbnb host must have thought we were simpletons with how dumbstruck we were by the property, the hot tub, and the kick-ass view. I remember looking at the Brit and saying “Let’s just order takeout and stay here.” and he said “I was just going to say the same thing!”

We had just come from Powell River and visiting Townsite Brewing, so we were all set for refreshments. So we had a date night ‘in’ instead of a date night ‘out’ and it was wonderful. We ordered a pizza and sat on the swinging chair, watching a sunny evening turn into a stunning sunset over the water. (Who doesn’t love a fiery coloured sunset??) You couldn’t not take take a hundred pictures, so we did and then we settled with our Townsite brews.

I’m so glad we took the opportunity to appreciate our surroundings and just be together and present. It was a very hygge evening and the perfect date night.

Thank you to our hosts for having such a lovely place for us to have stayed! It was beautiful.

What’s your favourite date night in? Have your plans ever changed and become the best evening, ever?

“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.”

~ Pamela Hansford Johnson

#12DaysofHygge – Day 6: Stove Top Almond Milk Hot Chocolate + My Favourite Vancouver Hot Chocolate Spots!

Hot chocolate or hot cocoa. However you call it, it’s the perfect winter treat when you’re out and about, or when you’re having an evening in. It is a very hygge beverage in my humble opinion.

I used to be indifferent to this marvelous hot beverage. Likely because I’d only ever had it as the powdered version that gets mixed boiled water. But then I had a an espresso cup sized serving in Naples back in 2011. It was essentially just melted dark chocolate, and it was heaven. I asked the barrista if there was milk in it, and he said “No latte. signorina. No latte.”

Since then, hot chocolate has been my jam, and every now and then, I like to make it from scratch on the stove. I add almond ‘latte’ to mine otherwise I would be incredibly hyper, but every time I make it, I smile thinking of that little cup of melted chocolate.

The first time I made my own cocoa, I was staying in a beautiful house by the beach on Salt Spring Island. I’ll get around to writing about SSI at some point, but I digress. Hot chocolate is actually quite simple to make on the stove. After a couple of years, I think I’ve  finally found an ingredients combination that is exactly to my liking and  similar to my favourite Blenz almond milk dark hot chocolate!) Click here to jump to the recipe.

Making myself a hot chocolate obviously isn’t always possible, so when I am out and about, these are my Vancouver go-to’s for a tasty cocoa to-go (or enjoy in the cafe):

Blenz Coffee (Various Locations)

When I came back from my aforementioned trip to Naples I was obsessed with finding a good hot chocolate in Vancouver. It didn’t need to be solely melted dark chocolate, but it needed to have actual chocolate in it. I honestly wouldn’t have expected a chain to have my favourite hot chocolate, but Blenz does, indeed. And they are consistent. My extra almond milk dark hot chocolate is a mood balancer, treat, something to keep me warm, or all of the above. I also love that the baristas do a little bit of latte art to finish it of and that Blenz is a local chain.

Mink Hot Chocolate & Coffee

Mink’s hot chocolates are very gourmet, and very tasty. I love going there because they have a variety of options, as well as their own brand of chocolates (also available online for purchase). They aren’t in my immediate vicinity of  home or work, so it’s always a nice treat to go here.

Hot Chocolate Fest (Jan 20 Feb 14, 2018)

And if you really want to get your hot chocolate on in Vancouver, Hot Chocolate Fest is coming back in January! More details on participating merchants can be found here. I like to go to at least one new merchant shop every year to try their delicious creations!

~

Stove-Top Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

If you’re feeling homey, or want to inject a little hygge into your day, here is my Almond Milk Hot Chocolate recipe!

Stove-Top Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This is a slightly decadent treat for those winter nights where you want to just snuggle up with your partner to watch a movie or to settle in with a good book.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sweetener of choice (I use 2 tbsp of maple syrup or honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla, peppermint or almond extract (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the almond milk in a small sauce pan on Medium-High heat for approximately 5 minutes
  2. When milk is hot and starting to steam, remove pan from heat
  3. Whisk in your cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sweetener, and optional extract
  4. Continue to whisk until the chocolate chips are fully melted, and everything looks frothy and smooth
  5. Pour into mugs and enjoy!

Serves 2 in large mugs or 4 in regular mugs. Cut recipe in half for 2 regular size mug servings.

Like my tea, I take my hot chocolate ‘black’, but cocoa does look a bit prettier and taste fabulous with a whipped cream (like these great almond milk options, or this coconut milk option by one of my favourite recipe mavens, Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows!)

I haven’t tried this recipe with dairy milk or coconut milk yet, but that will be a Christmas holidays adventure so I can find an option that the Brit enjoys. The almond milk was met with some indifference. 😉

“Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

#12DaysofHygge Day 3: Unplugging + Staying Present

Despite being fully charged when I left the house yesterday, my phone battery depleted quite quickly. Right in the middle of a murals tour we were taking. And I didn’t have a charger of any sort on me. Boo-hoo, I know. But I’d had some timed posts planned for the blog and on Instagram. And I wanted to take pictures. Total first world problems.

But the universe was telling me something: put the phone away. The Brit’s phone battery was fine. So he took photos for me. And I actually enjoyed having an ‘unplugged’ rest of the day. It allowed me to fully focus on our guide and what she was saying, enjoying the day with him, and having a great time at VanDusen Gardens with some friends later in the evening. It was a fantastic day.

When I was reading The Little Book of Hygge, one of the things listed as a key of this Danish way of life was unplugging and being present. I am an excellent multi-tasker; it’s why I’m good at my day job as an executive assistant. But sometimes, the phone needs to get put away and it takes the battery going down to 4% – where it stayed at for 5(!) hours until I got home – for that to happen. (Ridiculous, I know.)

This really hit home for me today, not just because of my phone battery, but because of one of the murals we saw just off of Main Street:

How powerful is that?? My phone was already put away at this point (so a big thank you to my love for taking these photos!), but the message resonated. How could it not?

(I’ll be posting soon about this mural and the tour we took – stay tuned!)

As a yoga teacher, I guide my students into the present for focus on the mat so they can carry that with them into the rest of their day. As a yoga student, I work very hard to also do this for myself during my practice. But I sometimes forget that this needs to apply to my life off the mat. Particularly during such a busy time of year!

Do you take time to unplug? How do you stay present and calm during the holiday season?  Share in the comments below!

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.

~ Amit Ray