Winter Home Energy Makeover

Too many winter months of closed windows and doors can leave our homes suffering from stale air and negative energy.   Here are 5 simple ways to help rid your home of toxicity and improve its positive energy this winter: 

1)        Declutter & Clean

The winter hibernation months of January and February provide an ideal time to declutter.  Clutter in your home is anything that is unfinished, unused, guilt-inducing and unresolved.  Rid yourself of anything you do not love, do not use or do not consider to be beautiful.  Don’t just box stuff up to be dealt with later. Remember that organized clutter is still clutter.

As you declutter, give your house a more thorough cleaning. Hard work but calorie-burning and cathartic so it is all good! Using biodegradable cleansers and essential oil & vinegar cleansers decrease household toxicity.   (Link to Rosemary’s Company called The Organized Life)

2)        Candles and Light

Letting in as much natural light as possible during the day is an instant spirit lifter.  Feng Shui practitioners suggest harnessing as much natural light as possible during the day.  Open the curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible…even if it is a grey day.

The latest Scandi lifestyle trends of Hygge (ultimate coziness) and Lykke (search for happiness) and Lagom (everything in moderation) espouse turning down the overhead lights in the evening to save money in favour of lighting candles and using fairy lights for ambience. 

3)        Essential Oil Diffusing

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Diffusing essential oil provides an instant aromatic change credited with alleviating allergies, aiding sleep and reducing anxiety.  Our favourite is Lavender as it supports positivity.

4)        Four Ways Go Green with Plants  

a)  Herb Gardening Indoors

Imagine combining function with flavour for soothing teas, your favourite cuisine or to give as gifts.  Home grown and home dried herbs are tastier and fresher than those bought commercially.   They also provide an excellent source of improved oxygen for the home

Herbs require a minimum of 6 hours of full sun per day. Keep them near a window if they are grown indoors.   If plants begin to grow tall and spindly, it is a sign of insufficient light.   

b) Indoor Gardening with Tropicals


Plants beautify and improve the physical indoor environment.  They also lower the overall toxicity level within your home.    Plants provide oxygen that also helps to reduce blood pressure, improve focus and concentration and reduce stress.  Tending plants improves both mental and emotional well-being. Plants help to filter noise levels and diffuse the brightness of lights.  They are also totally trendy again! The trick to success with indoor gardening is matching the plants requirements to your living conditions. Gardening is all about putting the right plant in the right place. The following are the seven key things you need to succeed for happy houseplants: 



Most tropicals need 12 hours of light a day. Generally speaking, the lighter the leaf colour, the greater the requirement for light.  Variegated plants need more light than all green plants.


The only secret to successful watering lies in your ability to notice and respond to the signals of the plant.  Water once a week during the winter.  


Nighttime temperature is often too high.  It should be 5 to 10 degrees lower at night.  Avoid cold porches

Drainage & The Right Container

Plants can be grown in nearly any type of container as long as drainage holes release excess water.


Fertilize once a month during the growing season of March to October. Fertilizing is not necessary during the winter months as they need their period of hibernation…even though they are indoors. Any balanced fertilizer will do but a 20-20-20 formula is always a safe bet.   

Good Grooming

Check your plants for insects on a weekly basis. Keep them dust free. Remove dead leaves and flowers.  Give a weekly quarter turn to encourage plant growth. 

Plant Choices

Minimal Care: Jade, Pothos, Philodendron, Cast Iron Plant, Cacti, Ivy, Ficus, Dieffenbachia, Kalanchoe, Spider, Succulents

Flowering: African Violet, Azalea, Begonia, Geraniums, Potted bulbs, Kalanchoe, Jasmine, Flowering Maple

Low Light & Easy Care: Ivy, Peace Lily, Fern, Chinese Evergreen

Best Oxygenators: Peace Lily, Snake Plant, English Ivy, Chinese Evergreen, Spider Plant, Fern, Rubber Plant, Money Plant

Sleep Enhancing: Snake Plant, Lavender, English Ivy, Spider, Gardenia, Aloe, Jasmine

Trendsetters: String of Pearls, Snake, Palm, Jade, Spider, Rubber, Aloe, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Succulents

Need Zero Light: Dracaena, Sansevieria, Bromeliad, Pothos, Palm, Philodendron

Positive Energy: Jasmine, Ivy, Aloe, Money Plant, Orchid

c)   Terrariums

Terrariums are mini gardens encased in glass: the hottest trend to hit gardening in years! 


·       Sealed with a lid, the moist humidity creates a perfect environment for moisture loving plants like ferns, ivies and moss.   Once planted, watered and sealed, your terrarium only requires a weekly misting.  All you need to do is remove the lid every week for a few hours to provide ventilation.  Do not place in direct sunlight.  The chopstick is to allow you to poke holes in the soil from time to time and to manipulate the plant should the need arise.

·       Open lidded terrariums are perfect for succulents and cacti.

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d)  Potted Bulbs and Cut Flowers 

By mid January, flower shops and grocery shops are flooded with lovely pots of forced bulbs.   They are way more than just eye candy in terms of improving scent and energy in your home.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year to treat yourself to the beauty of cut flowers and flowering branches.  Improved energy is often about providing yourself with a botanical spirit-lifter!


5)        Smudging

Yet another trend converted by millenials from hippie-retro to hip!  At Kate’s Garden, we use dried herbs and flowers to make smudging sticks.   Burned for their aromatic smoke, they are often used as part of cleansing practices amongst numerous cultures.   Our favourite recipe is lavender, rose and eucalyptus: calming, opening and inspiring.

Related Links 

Sheridan Nurseries

McGuire Natural

Kennedy Greenhouses

Canada Blooms

Stratford Garden Festival

Cottage Life Shows

Peterborough Garden Show

Freeman Herbs


Hygge:  My Preferred Lifestyle

So...having spent months to understand the concept and convert to its key components, I have completely embraced this concept of Hygge.  It turns out that it is actually my preferred lifestyle and pretty much embodies what we stand for at Kate’s Garden.  Especially during the winter.  

Oddly, I love winter.    Having spent formative years in the Laurentians, Ottawa and Montreal, I learned to appreciate actually being able to do stuff outdoors when it is cold.   I just took a brisk winter walk along Main Street Markham north.  Though it was chilly, with the snow falling lightly, it is just plain pretty taking a winter walk along an historic street...and then savouring a nice hot chocolate upon my return to Kate’s Garden!   Totally hygge!

One of the key concepts of Hygge is to enjoy and embrace the outdoors especially during winter.    Instead of hibernating, compelling yourself to get outdoors each day makes savouring coming inside soooo much better.   But, I am getting ahead of myself...

Hygge, pronounced hoo-gah, is a lifestyle simplification, pursuit of happiness and personal development trend.   The Danes and Norwegians, having been recently cited as the happiest countries in the world by the United Nations seem to have a wrap on this concept of “Ultimate Cosiness”.   Hygge is mostly about an antidote to busy, stressed out lives. 


This past Blue Monday, we held several Hygge information sessions at Kate’s Garden.  The response was overwhelming and like nothing we have ever experienced for a mid month January event!  On what is frequently considered the most depressing day of the year, dozens and dozens of women braved winter storms to learn more about Nordic secrets to happiness.   The mulled cider and cookies may have helped to entice folks outdoors but it was the invitation to fight back against the winter blues that did the trick.  

The following is a synthesis of the information shared during our Hygge info sessions.   I have tried to break it down into its essential components so that you can understand why we have embraced the concept for both our home and business.  Hygge’s key components are:

Living Seasonally

Celebrating the seasons is easy to do in Canada when we have four such spectacularly different and beautiful seasons.  


Seeking solace in Nature

Staying in touch with nature keeps you grounded.   This is not a cliché.  It is a fact.  Gardening does not have to stop just because the growing season has slowed down.   Potted bulbs, indoor herb gardens, terrarium and easy care houseplants can keep your thumb green.

Succulents are Easy Care Indoor Plants...

Embracing Winter

I love the Norwegian saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.  You may choose not to ski or skate but brisk winter walks will help to keep colds and flu away.

Making your home into your sanctuary

My family will tell you that the term “Safe Haven” is what home means to me.  Home is about creating a place of respite and relaxation free from judgement.  The hygge concept of lots of extra cushions and with snuggly throws on the couch reinforces the notion of winter nesting and cocooning.  

Living in a clutter-free, clean and organized environment.

I just bought the latest Remodelista book about Stylish Storage.    Having been a professional organizer for many years and a relentless clutterbuster, I fancy myself to leading a pretty clutterbusted life.   My home and business are good examples of “mise en place” but being the creative types we are, staying ahead of clutter is a continuous struggle.   Something about the post-holiday January decorating period, this most recent Remodelista book and embracing Hygge had me spending hours over the last few weeks purging unnecessary duplicates and unflattering clothes.    It takes continuous effort but I find that deciding to surround us with only the things that we consider to be useful and beautiful is liberating.    Getting from chaos to collected lifts my shoulders.  

Candles are Hygge Essentials

Lights, Candles, Flowers and Greenery


In sunlight deprived Nordic countries, flickering candles and fairy lights are considered essentials.   Simple flowers, lots of indoor plants to help oxygenate rooms left stale by closed windows and potted bulbs for colour and scent turn minimalistically furnished homes into warm and inviting spaces.

Journaling about Positive Moments in Life...great Hygge!

Casual Entertaining

During these past few months, we have geared all of our entertaining to lingering for hours around the dining room table with flickering candles, fresh flowers artfully flopping in vintage bottles enjoying wonderful comfort food and great bread dressed in jeans.   It takes all the pressure off and is in line with the Hygge concept of keeping it simple, not putting on the dog or showing off.    Hygge also means leaving drama at the door and avoiding politics and topics that cause distress while entertaining.   Given the state of world affairs these days, it has been more difficult than usual to avoid talking politics... but it is good to have goals!


My daughter Silken and I bought these in Lyon not too far from where she studies!


My daughter-in-law Joanna and daughter Silken baked this giant cinnamon bun!


Anne's Bread Pudding from Appetizers and More


Simple Candles and Flowers

Enjoying Pastimes

Board games, crafting, knitting, indoor gardening, crocheting,  bird feeding,  flower arranging, reading and taking pleasure in writing things by hand.  Amazing how these simple pleasures reinforce the   notion of slow living.  A little less screen time (with Netflix as a cosy exception) never hurts.  


Be grateful for slow living!

Emotional Pursuit of Happiness

Hygge is also about practicing gratitude, being present, togetherness and mindfully choosing to spend time doing the things that give you pleasure, lift your spirit and make you feel happier.   Get comfy, take a nap and live slow. 


To recap, spending time this winter focused on casual entertaining that brings together family and friends in a cosy atmosphere with ambient light, fresh flowers, comfort food; playing board games and enjoying gentle pastimes?  It is not hard to figure out why Hygge can quickly become a preferred lifestyle especially in winter.

Related Links