Small Joys: Christmas Edition

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
— Brene Brown

Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

Cookies. With all the sweets and treats, I love things that aren't too sugary. My mom's Christmas cookies are perfect when it comes to that. Austrian baked goods just aren't as sickly over-sweet like American goodies tend to be. If you'd like to give some a try, my mom's Linzer Cookie recipe would be a perfect start.

Jammies. When we were younger, my grandma from Austria would send us new pjs for Christmas Eve. As we got older, my mom took over the tradition. This year, I gave in to Cyber Monday sales and couldn't resist some matching organic cotton Hanna Anderson pj pants for Dave and I. I didn't quite realize that they were long john style and I have to say seeing Dave in fair isle long johns was worth the purchase in itself.

Lights. Is anything better than Christmas lights when the days are so short and the nights so cold? I just love the cheer and light they bring. I would be in favor of keeping them up until days get long again and the snow melts. We need all the light we can get this time of the year in Michigan! 

Music. I'm kinda weird when it comes to Christmas music. Depending on my mood, I listen to vastly different stuff. But Dave and I both agree that Sidewalk Prophets: Merry Christmas to You album is our favorite for singing and dancing along to. This year especially, What A Glorious Night has been our version of Advent Devotionals. When we need a quiet moment, we listen to it and the intro with Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas reading the Christmas Gospel has been super meaningful to us. We also quote "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!" all the time. It's such a good reminder.

Movies. Also, it's worth a mention that I can't wait until we have a moment to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. We always watched it growing up and I love it more every time I watch it. It addresses big things like consumerism, but brings it back to the most important thing. Too good. (Other favorites: The Holiday, Elf, White Christmas)

Candles. The Austrian tradition of real candles on a Christmas Tree shocks most Americans. But when mounted on a fresh tree and watched vigilantly, there is little danger. Because of our move this year, we haven't brought a tree home yet. This weekend we'll finally remedy that and I can't wait to clip my shiny new tree candle holders (my sister brought from Germany for me) to our tree in our new home. 


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Aldi Favorites

Everything in this salad came from Aldi. yum!

Everything in this salad came from Aldi. yum!

A year and a half ago our hometown had an Aldi open. I'd heard from a few friends that it was really great, but had my doubts.

How could they sell food so cheap? Wasn't it just a discount food store with half expired stuff? It couldn't be as good as it's Austrian cousin, Hofer? And how is it connected to Trader Joes?

If you're really interested in all the details, you're more than welcome to go read the Wiki page all about it. I certainly did. I'm a nut for research. If you'd rather not, the condensed version is:

Two brothers in Germany grew their mother's grocery store into a chain of 300, at which point it was split into 2 companies that still exist and run Aldis, Hofers, and Trader Joes all around the world. When you see an Aldi in Germany, it's related to our Trader Joes, but the Aldis here are connected to Austria's Hofer. 

The other big question was how their prices could be so low and I looked into that because I really strive to provide our family with good food. I found that they cut costs by running things so efficiently that the savings are drastic for the customer.

  • Brands: They only sell a few brand name products, the rest are their own label. 

  • No-frills: Aldi only offers 14,000 products as opposed to 40,000 like larger stores. 

  • Stores: Aldi is only open during peak shopping hours. Only 2-4 employees work at one time and can keep the entire store functioning due to a streamlined restocking and check out process. 

  • DIY: Customers take care of tasks such as wrangling carts and packing groceries themselves which cuts down on the number of employees the store needs.

If you're still a bit hestitant about Aldi, here are some of my favorite things to get at Aldi. I would say we can get 90% of our groceries at Aldi and that they are 60-80% cheaper. I'm a total convert.

Choceur Chocolate. 

This was the first thing I ever associated with Aldi. It was the only place that had anything resembling real chocolate that we were used to from Austria. In fact I recently looked at one of their Dark Chocolate bars and found out it's actually made in Austria. I currently love the Dark Chocolate Coconut Almonds, but all the other treats have been super yummy too.


Brie (and other cheese).

I'm a pretty big cheese lover. I would eat it for every snack and meal if I could. One of my favorites is brie and Aldi has it for $2.99 a round, which is close to half what it costs at a regular grocery store. We also get Parmesan and other types that they have on occasion. Usually I'd only get brie as a treat or when it's on sale, but I love the option to get it more often.



I was pretty suspicious of the produce, but it has proven itself over and over. I've never had any issues with freshness or quality. They can sell it for such a discount is because it's been pre-weighed and packaged. Nothing needs to be messed with once it comes to the check out. 


Sparkling Water.

We developed a slight addiction for sparkling water a couple years ago when we were in Austria. Over there they drink "mineral wasser" more than tap water. When we got back we got hooked on La Croix. But that habit can get a bit pricey, so I as thrilled when I saw Aldi's version of the stuff both in cans and bottles. The bottles are $0.69 and 12 can's are $2.99 which is way easier on the pocket book. 

Super Premium Ice Cream.

5 ingredients. Pure. Bliss.

Fair Trade. Organic. Artificial Free.

Aldi recently removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and added MSG from all its private-label products. Every time I go I see more and more organic staples such as flour and sugar. Organic and Natural products seem to be taking over the store.

We go to Aldi once a week and buy most of our groceries at once. It took us a while to learn the layout and how to best shop there, but now that we're used to it, we wouldn't go back. 

Small Joys: XI

Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

My rule for November has been to say "no" to just about everything. It took us until October to wrap up all the visits and commitments that we wanted to fit into the summer. So right now we've started saying no to new things on our calendar. It's rather freeing. November also happens to be Dave's busiest season for the business, so we've had to defend what time he does have at home to give him some time to recover from how hard he works during the week. We just need time at home.

There is so much to be grateful for, these are just a few things that have stood out to me recently:

-- New bed. When Dave and I got married we didn't get a new bed. Instead we crammed ourselves into my full size and made do for a year and a half. It wasn't terrible, but we started waking up with allergies and soreness. After a month long research process looking into what sort of mattress we wanted, we ended up settling on a natural latex one. And we got it in king. It's been amazing. No sniffles and sneezes in the morning, no waking up with crinks and so much room to spread out.

-- Sunny Days. We had one dreary day this week and it reminded me how hard it is to wake up in the cold months when the sun never comes out. It's made me grateful for every day the sun DOES shine.

-- Coffee. It's becoming a Gilmore Girl level obsession. I look forward to going to bed because I know coffee comes in the morning.

-- The big oak tree outside my office window. It's turned from green to yellow and now it's the most delicious toasted brown.

-- Predesigned Christmas Cards. In my perfectionism I had ambitions to design a custom Christmas card. I finally admitted to myself that was too much and there are 100s of designs out there will do just fine. Now to pick one!

-- Finally figuring out how to put together a Hasi & Co. newsletter. I'd love it if you'd subscribe HERE. :) 

Fall Style

One year ago, I started my first capsule wardrobe and began an informal education in my style and a reset of my shopping habits. I'm pretty sure I thought that this year I would be able to pull out my capsule from last fall, stick in my closet and be completely happy with it.

Surprisingly, that's mostly true. A few things have worn out since then and I've outgrown a few others. Every season finds me more content and comfortable in the clothes I wear.

I've also started putting things into storage during off seasons and unpacking them feels similar to buying a load of new clothes. This weekend I unpacked my fall sweaters and long pants. It was like meeting old friends and this whole week it's felt special to wear my cozy things that I haven't since the spring.

I didn't really "need" anything new this fall, but I did add a few things. And they were pretty Icelandic centric. Before we left, I had to get a rain coat and long underwear. I wore both every single day we were gone and bought them thinking about long term wearability, so they should fit into life at home as well.

I also knew that the wool products in Iceland were going to be exquisite. We arrived planning to pick up a fuzzy souvenir or two. I found one traditional sweater (lopapeysaat the Handknitting Association of Iceland and that thing is crazy warm. I'm going to have to wait for Michigan to cool down before I can wear it at home.

Finally, my absolute favorite is this sweater. We were perusing the racks at one of those duty free shops in the airport before we left when we found it. I have NEVER bought something from one of those places, but they got me this time. I figured since I loved it 100% and I wasn't going to have another chance to get something like it, we should go for it.

And I have to say I made the right decision. No regrets. I looked up the brand afterwards and loved it even more. Supporting smaller brands with integrity has to be one of my favorite things. 

For now I'm very happy with what I have available in my closet. Once winter rolls around, I may have identified a gap or two, but for now I'm more than content to cozy up with what I have.

Hello Fall

Things around home feel very autumnal this week. The last 2 weeks we spent enjoying the Icelandic fall, so coming home it's still warmer and not nearly as colorful, but it's fun to get to jump in at the beginning of sweater weather after the preview we had while abroad.

On the first day of fall last week, we found ourselves with a free morning and no particular sight seeing or activities planned. We ended up finding a little scenic area off the beaten path enough that we were the only ones exploring it, other than the sheep. The birch trees all around were bright yellow and the ground cover had turned orange and red. 

The woods and hills were still. We chatted a bit, but mostly walked along marveling at the beauty and enjoying the peace. 

It's fortunate fall is such an enjoyable time, because it signals the end of so many other good things. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our Icelandic autumn hike and a few thoughts I have at the beginning of a new season.

A little playlist for a blustery afternoon filled with coffee and quiet thoughts. I find myself enjoying a peculiar mix of melancholy and romance, which this playlist tries to capture.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
— Henry David Thoreau

Autumn Bucket List:

  • Learn how to make a mean homemade latte, preferably a flat white

  • Organize and process the 3000 pictures and hours of video footage we took in Iceland

  • Start a bullet journal

  • Sort/purge my supplies and redo the floor in my studio/office

  • Work on christmas gifts early

  • Host a bonfire or two

  • Plan and order our christmas card

  • Roast lots of veggies

  • Eat plenty of donuts with hot cider

P.S. If you were curious about how my summer goals turned out, here you go:

  • video // I created a few short videos and became comfortable enough that I feel confident I can 
  • herb garden // Success! We enjoyed fresh pesto on our pasta, mint in our drinks, plus chives, parsley and rosemary. Only the cilantro was a slight failure.
  • Leelanau // Times 2. I got up there twice and both trips were lovely. (one & two)
  • Hudson // erm. Well, he's perfectly function and we used him 3 times this summer. Unfortunately my steam ran out a bit. But I'm hoping we use him a bit more this fall and that I'll find some more motivation to finish him before next season.
  • road trip plan // Done and done. It ended up working out perfectly and I'm so glad I did all the research before we were on the road in Iceland
  • skin care regime // This is still a work in progress. There were weeks this summer that I felt like I had the prettiest complexion of my life and a couple that were terrible. Right now I just need to get back on track, because camping for 10 days in a camper van threw my routine off.
  • studio // A month ago I would have said this was done. Then we redid our bedroom and the studio became the overflow room for sorting and storage. Right now it's a disaster zone, but hopefully not long term.