finished candles

I’m absolutely taken by the new wellness trend sweeping homes everywhere – Hygge. It’s been hard not to avoid, but if you’ve missed it it’s something you’ll certainly want to get involved in!  Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-gah’/’hoo gah’ comes from wonderful Denmark. It essentially stands for cosyness and all the things that make you feel warm inside.

Since living in Aarhus, Denmark,  I’m ‘slightly’ obsessed with scandi culture and Hygge is the latest trend I’ve embraced.  I’m hygge-fying my life to the max this winter;  think cosy-nights in, hot tumeric lattes, snuggly blankets, dinner parties with friends and candles – LOTS of them.

I wanted to create thoughtful Christmas gifts for my family and friends this year and decided to give the gift of Hygge through homemade soy candles. The result has been so much better than I ever anticipated and I just can’t wait to give them out….squeee.

If you fancy giving the gift of Hygge or just love a great smelling soy candle that won’t cost the earth take a look below at the really simple steps.

 


What You’ll Need:

(I made 10 candles and used the below amounts, adjust for what you need. Also I didn’t have much time to shop around online so headed into Hobbycraft for most things… which isn’t the cheapest way, but I’ve linked the items anyway.)

  • 10 glass containers 
  • 10 Pre-waxed wicks  with metal tabs (you can buy unwaxed but these are hassle-free)
  • 10 Pens / chopsticks/ sticks …you get the idea
  • 1.8kg Soy wax flakes
  • Essential oils of your choice (I made a few combos which used Clary Sage, Bergamot, Pine, Patchouli, lavender, sandalwood.. I REALLY wanted Cedar but it was out of stock)
  • Labels, paint, stamps etc. to decorate with

1 | Prepwicks

  • Ensure all the glass containers are clean, free of dust and grease
  • Stick down the pre-waxed wicks to the base of the jars. (If, like me you, don’t have sticky tabs on the wick disks melt a candle you already have and use some of the wax to stick the metal tab to the base of the jar
  • Use pens/chopsticks etc to hold the wick up straight. Wrap excess wick around the pen

2| Melt

wax melt in pan

  • Set a large saucepan of water on the hob, bring the water to the boil and then turn to a simmer
  • Place a glass bowl in the water
  • I melted the wax in batches as I wanted different scented candles. I used a spare candle jar to measure out wax into the glass bowl,  1 candle = 2 x the jar volume
  • The wax will take about 10 mins to melt

3| Mix

essential oils

  • Whilst your wax is melting concoct your scent mixes in a small bowl. (you can add your essential oils directly into the wax but I wanted to smell-test the mixes beforehand)
  • I used about 50+ drops in total per candle
  • When the wax is melted and the fragrance ready, take the glass bowl off the pan
  • **IMPORTANT** Do not add your fragrance whilst the wax is boiling hot- allow it to cool for a few minutes as the heat can take away the fragrance of the oils… not ideal..
  • Mix the oils into the wax using a metal spoon (easier to clean)

4| Pour

wax in jars

  • This bit is tricky so take care.  You can move the wick to the side to help pouring the wax from the bowl into the jar
  • Take your time to pour the wax from the bowl into the jar- mind you don’t drip any around the edges as this will set around the jar and make it look messy
  • After a few tricky tries I got the hang of it and decanted the wax into a glass pouring jug for better accuracy
  • Before leaving to set ensure the wicks are in the centre of the molten wax
  • Leave overnight to set

 

5| Decorate!

fnished candles 2

  • I designed labels on PhotoShop and printed them onto standard sticky labels
  • For some extra jazz I dotted gold 3D paint either side of the text
  • I also used string and tags to personalise each candle for the recipient. Each tag was stamped with a gold mandala for some mindfulness prettiness

And that’s it!

These were super, super simple to make and the result is , I think, really pretty. They also smell absolutely divine and the soy wax means they burn extra cleanly.

I can’t wait to give them out as gifts this Christmas :)

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Made Mindful

Have you ever been on holiday/ travelling and felt like you need a holiday in order to get over the holiday? Since returning from my travels things have felt a little ‘stuck’ waiting for the next big thing to happen to move things in the right direction and frankly the waiting game isn’t working. The New Year provides a great chance to reflect on your goals and re-focus your future journey.  

These past few weeks I’ve given myself a self-compassion fuelled kick up the behind and put in place some serious steps to get this mid-ish 20’s life party started.

I jotted down a few of the things I’d been dreaming of doing but not made any real headway with over the year and had a gutsy week of planning, visiting and booking three solid things that will start me in the right direction.

Move along humdrum 2016 and make way for a Rihanna inspired year of “work work work work work” …and a whole load of self-development too.

The future belongs quote


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Introducing you to the sneaky plan I’ve been hatching. Here goes:

1. January 2017 – Green Yoga India, Goa – 200hr Yoga Teacher Training

Kicking things off perfectly is yoga teacher training in January.  I’m so so ready to get stuck into a month of structured yoga practice with others and to learn more about the history, spiritual aspects and get to do it all from hatha to aerial yoga! Also super stoked as I’ve never been to India so going to fit in a few days either side for travel from Mumbai to Goa and a cheeky bit of surfing which is never as appealing in the chilly UK.

2. February 2017 – September 2019 –  College of Naturopathic Medicine

Back to school again and 3 more years of studying come at me.  I’ll be starting at the CNM on their diploma to become an accredited Nutritional Therapist. First year, Biomedicine. I could not be more happy than to go back to studying, I geekily love learning. Biology always fascinated me at school so the Biomedicine first year is right up my street, followed by two years of nutritional training and real-life clinics! This step is a biggie but imperative to self-sufficiently working in the wellness arena.

3. June 2017 – Mindful Academy – MBSR Teacher Training Level 1

Wohooo I’ve finally enrolled on a Mindfulness Teacher course after nearly a year of searching and searching. The retreat in Solterreno looks amazing and after speaking to Bodhin, one of the course teachers, I feel I 100% made the right decision choosing to study with them. I’ve already received the course material and 90-page practice scripts (eeek) to get stuck in studying now. This is a dream come true- I’m finally going to start working towards teaching Mindfulness *runs around*.

Work Work Work Work Work

In between all this jolliness girl got to get her head down and work to fund all of this. This part of the plan is rather open ended at the moment and I’m just going to go with it, probably doing something completely random, so watch this space…


 

I really really hope this post is more inspiring rather than going all ‘Gap Yah’ on you. It’s so so easy to get stuck in a deep old rut- I’ve been there,  I get it, but if you have a dream to do something you can absolutely do it. Yes it’s grim at times and sure there are compromises – I’ve moved out of the city I love to afford it all, become a temp receptionist at car dealerships, veterinary practices, roofing companies- you name it, in order to allow some stress-free time and basic income, but when the plan all comes together it is going to be all so blooming worth it.

We’re all in it together and I’d love to hear about your journeys too. What’s your dream, what are you up to, how’s it all going, let me know in the comments below or send me an email to emma@emmalouclark.com

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Mindful Tea

It’s so helpful to have to hand a few inspiring references whilst trying to lead a more mindful life.

There are days when I’m stuck in a bit of a rut, having woken up late, feeling groggy from over (or under) sleep and can’t summon the necessary brainpower to figure out what’s best to get me going. The below references have been a great helping hand in guiding and reminding me of the practices  and what might be best for my current mood or need.

The list is ever growing as I’m only new to the practice of mindfulness and cant help having a good old Google for new resources and can’t resist diving into a bookshop for the smell of new pages and new wisdom.


 

The Little Book of Mindfulness; 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace – Dr Patrizia Collard

This was actually bought for me as a stocking-filler from Mum after I mentioned I was going to start blogging about mindfulness. Its such a cute and handy go-to with beautiful illustrations to boot. As it mentions in the title the book is filled with  5 – 10 minute practices and inspirations to help us to reconnect to the now. I will be posting about some of the practices and how they help me. If you do pick up the book check out p82 for the ‘Metta Meditation: Loving Kindness’ for self-compassion, empowerment and transformation.

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How to Love – Tich Nhat Hanh

I have literally fallen in love with the book. I am guilty firstly of choosing it because of its cover but then justified my choice as the author is Tich Nhat Hanh – only one of the best known Zen teachers in the world!

The book is so gentle and calming that just from reading I feel a glow of compassion welling up inside me and I look forward to moments where I can practice some of the things written about. The book includes notes on love such as how to recognise true love and the four elements it encompasses.

There are also practices and meditations on how to nourish true love, these come with beautiful names like ‘Watering the Flower in a Friend’ and ‘A Pot in Search of a Lid’. Each page features a new offering and is accompanied by lovely pink pen and ink drawings.

The Mindfulness Bible; The Complete Guide to Living in the Moment – Dr Patrizia Collard

I bought this book as a pure coincidence that it is written by Dr Patrizia Collard, the same author as the Little Book of Mindfulness (above), this is about where the similarities end, as a guide it could not be more different. This ‘bible’ is much like a school Geography textbook with lots of words accompanied by photography and case studies. The book also includes a detailed eight-session mindfulness course with a blank diary grid for your weekly entry. I’ve found this useful as a way to refresh my knowledge from the eight week Mindfulness course I took at the London Mindfulness Project. Also it has been helpful in helping me geek up on the  actual science behind mindfulness. There is a HUGE section on Mindful Meditations and movement exercises (accompanied by step-by step pictures) which has been useful to pick and choose from.

Eat Pray Love; One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia – Elizabeth Gilbert

OK so I’m currently half way through this book and I’m hooked. I cant wait each night to snuggle down and catch the next few chapters of Liz’s journey. This book is different to the other’s I’ve already mentioned as it is biographical and absolutely nothing to do with guiding actual meditations etc. Instead, it is an insightful, funny account of Elizabeth’s travels to find happiness and fulfilment following a few rough years of divorce and depression. She has a likability that challenges even that of our best friend Bridget  Jones.

In terms of a reference for mindfulness this book is FAB in supporting my practice at the moment as it feels like I have a friend on the same journey as me :)

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candles and succulents top Since bringing mindfulness home from the classroom I realised the need to create a calm, uncluttered space in which to practice comfortably.

At first this posed some issues, living in a shared house with a small budget for decoration doesn’t exactly lend itself to the dream of creating a spacious separate room dedicated to mindfulness. Instead I needed to work with what I had, my teeny bedroom crammed to the brim with all my worldly possessions.

I found lots of inspiration through other bloggers and looked to Pinterest to establish a theme and pick up some tips. (You can see my Pinterest board here).  Below are some of the rules I applied to create my space:

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Before diving right in with tips and practices  It might be best to explain where my interest in Mindfulness began and the approach I take towards it all.

Previously I mentioned The Mindfulness Project.  All of this wouldn’t be possible without that place. The Mindfulness Project is the centre in Fitzrovia where I attended my 8 week MBSR Mindfulness course. This place is A-mazing. Like seriously good. Starting with their top-floor haven in the beautifully grandiose 18th Century Georgian townhouse in Fitzroy Square (nestled behind Warren Street station) all the way through to the friendly staff and great bunch of people I shared my course with.

(Side note:  The loos are divine. As a child my Aunt’s perception of a place would hang on the whether the ladies toilets were tip -top and boy are London Mindful’s good – if you love a good candle and some cosy city chic decor then these are the loos for you!)


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Every Tuesday evening I would head to The Mindfulness Project after work and from the moment I was buzzed up and stepped through their stately front door I felt an immediate sense of calm, ready for ‘me-time’.

My teacher, Doug, led 10 of us in a group setting however It was clear from the off that this was no ‘group therapy’. The sessions were not a chance to moan, groan and share our troubles and hardships. In fact by week 8 I still didn’t know what most of the groups job /martial status etc. were. Instead, I came to appreciate each person as an individual, unrelated to social status, connected by a desire to incorporate a sense of control and mindfulness into or lives. We shared our successes and gripes with the practices. A common thread was “why can’t I stop falling asleep during the body scan?” and “when we meditate I just want to itch and fidget all over…anyone else feel the same?” Sharing these made us all relax in to the practice as we all recognised it was O.K to be feeling these things and that others would catch themselves snoring their way through practices too!

Each class introduced us to a new topic of practice and we left with ‘homework’ which would comprise of things like a 40 minute daily practice, watching a Youtube video on Mindfulness by Jon Kabat Zin and reading a related passage or anecdote. I admit…sometimes I turned up like a sheepish schoolgirl who had chosen a night of prosecco with the girls over her body scan but still I really enjoyed having the accountability of practicing at home and being asked to discuss our experiences the following week.

The one day silent retreat near the end of the course was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! I can’t believe I survived 6 hours in silence and LOVED every moment of it. We did a combo of body scans, breathing, mindful movement, walking and readings.  Not having to speak all day granted such freedom and permission to just ‘be’ and enjoy our own personal experience.

The 8 week course was a fantastic intro to mindfulness and opened my eyes to the benefit of meditation and being present. I learnt so many new things about myself and experience the world through a new lens. I have begun to accept that its OK to feel low just as its OK to feel ecstatically happy, these two extremes of emotions come and go, it’s all part of our experience of being human…and thats pretty cool!

My approach now is not quite that of a seasoned meditator, rooted deep in buddhist principles. Rather that of a city-living 20-something who enjoys all the usual things. However, I now have a few more tools in my kit for appreciating each day and for handling stress and dark clouds when they come my way.

I hope this post helps anyone when deciding whether or not to go on an 8-week introductory course to Mindfulness. I say GO FOR IT and I’ll be the biggest fan-girl cheerleader on your team, excited to hear all about your experiences – let me know below :)

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