Woohoo! Here’s the second instalment of our interview series, A Simple Path, which explores how inspiring, creative people are doing more with less.
This month we had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Erica Lee, @thehyggewife on Instagram and creator of thehyggewife.com. We are huge fans of Erica’s stunning photography and admire her commitment to living a simpler, more intentional life. Sit back and enjoy – we think you are going to love this one.
- Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
Most of what I do revolves around my life as a wife and mom. It is where my motivation and inspiration comes from every day. In addition, I am a writer, photographer, homemaker, and connoisseur of all things hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that means, in simple terms, ‘coziness’, but that I consider to be a lifestyle. I live my life around it and have devoted my blog to inspiring others to find hygge in their lives.
I haven’t always lived a simple, intentional life. However, one day a year ago when I was exceptionally overwhelmed I began reading about hygge. Everything about it just really resonated with me. For me, it wasn’t just tea cups and blankets – I learned to build a lifestyle upon it.
I then started my Instagram @thehyggewife. Being the wife of a Norwegian (the word ‘hygge’ is Danish but originated in Norway), the name The Hygge Wife became my online journal for documenting our lifestyle. I aim to inspire others to also look for cozy moments, find meaning in the little things, and live more intentionally.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass onto your younger self, what would it be?
I have always been kind of an old soul. I love white and grey and, growing up, that was seen as kind of weird (though funnily enough it is now an appealing color scheme). I love to write more than anything, and I love to take notes! I’ve finally realized that it’s okay to be myself. I’ve always been interested in a simpler way of living, and I’ve always been afraid of how most of the world would view that (even now, I often get comments like, ‘Simple living? But why? You’re still young!’). However, when I finally found hygge and decided to build and document a lifestyle around it, I learned that there will always be those that don’t understand, but so many who will. No matter how ‘weird’ you think you are, there are people out there like you, waiting for you open up and make them feel like they belong somewhere. I hope that those out there looking for a simpler lifestyle will feel like they’ve come home, when they happen upon my feed or website.
What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
When you live more simply, you feel more deeply.
I don’t know of a better way to explain it. Living with less allows us to slow down, consider, come to terms with things we may have been neglecting or work on things we want to improve. We can focus on what matters, we can realize that we don’t need to always have ‘the next best thing’ in order to feel good about ourselves. When we eliminate the unnecessary things, we can take the time to serve others, strengthen our friendships, feel more connected with our children or significant others, and follow our passions.
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I wish I had better advice for this one! It can be hard to find a balance, because you want to capture your ‘real life’ for your audience (and for yourself), but you also want your images to look good. I would say, just get into the habit of taking your camera with you wherever you go and get quick at using manual mode. That way, in a beautiful moment, you can snap the picture quickly and then get back to enjoying that precious moment.
Who inspires you?
Kim Klassen. Oh gosh. What can I say?! Kim has been my biggest inspiration as I’ve navigated through my creative journey. I love her theme of ‘finding stillness’, and the beauty she conveys in simple moments. Kim is also a mentor and friend who gives me great ideas and cares so much about seeing me succeed. She is an amazing photographer and entrepreneur as well.
Angie Wendricks, from @countyroadliving, lives in a simple, yet beautiful country home. She shares everyday on Instagram about her minimalist lifestyle and it is such an inspiration to me. I hope to one day achieve the level of simplicity that she conveys.
My husband: He pushes me to keep striving and never to doubt myself.
My baby: He finds joy in the littlest things, like touching my hair.
What are your essential homeware items/things you couldn’t do without?
Candles and string lights: We have white string lights decorating our bedroom, and candles throughout the house. I light a candle at my desk every time I sit down to work, and every time we sit at the kitchen table for a meal. Even at breakfast, my son and I share our breakfast muesli and porridge by candlelight. It marks the beginning and ending of each activity, and candles help me to stay present in the moment, and let everything else melt away.
I’m currently reading ‘The Danish Way of Parenting’ (which I’ve written about on the blog under ‘Motherhood‘), and I’m also in the middle of ‘The Book of Hygge’ by Louisa Thomsen Brits.
For cookbooks, I love ‘A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in my Farmhouse’. It’s not Scandinavian, of course, but I love her emphasis on simple ingredients and finding time to cook. Another I use often is ‘Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.’
Linen bedding and table linens: Just so many linens! I love the natural and rustic look of them. We have linen bedding and napkins, and I am currently trying to sew linen baby blankets, so we’ll see how that goes...
Cake Platters: Every Friday, we have ‘Friday fika‘ at our house. It is a weekly tradition of gathering on a Friday evening, chatting about our weeks and the weekend to come, and indulging in a made-from-scratch treat. I usually bake something Scandinavian for it, but not necessarily. I love looking forward to it at the end of the week, and it is such a wonderful way to mark the beginning of the weekend, sitting and chatting and eating together.
Our shaggy rug: We have one of those giant, shaggy rugs. Not only does it provide a soft place to land, but cozy materials like this bring more hygge into the home. It has become the center of our home and is where we tend to subconsciously gather.
Nature at home: Bringing nature into our homes actually makes them feel more cozy. It gives our homes a natural element and reminds us of the wonder that lies outside our doors.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years time?
Oh gosh! So many things! Most importantly, I plan to have a bigger family, and to be raising kids to live simply and cherish each other and the outdoors. I hope that in ten years time I will be continuing to do what I love, which is to inspire others to find meaning and beauty in simplicity, and to teach them about how I’ve built a lifestyle around the concept of hygge.
I just published a guide to hygge and Nordic living on my site that is free for my email subscribers. It’s all about hygge, of course, and gives you applicable ways to ‘hygge’ in your own life. However, in the future, I would love to write a full-on book about hygge.
And I would also love to host workshops around the world on photography, writing and simple living.
Thanks so much Erica! It has been a delight to dip into your world, and we look forward to following your adventures with hygge in the future.