Happy Hour at Home: On Koselig, DIY Spa Days, and Boozy Spicy Hot Cocoa

Be our guest for Happy Hour at Home, a small series about the joys of lesbian socializing from home, because let’s be honest with ourselves — we’re going to be here for a while.

Norwegians have this word — koselig — that imperfectly translates to “cozy” in English. Cozy only begins to encapsulate what it means for something to be koselig, a word I hear often from the cousins and extended family on my mother’s side. Koselig things are cozy, yes. Cinnamon-scented candles are koselig; warm blankets are koselig; crackling fireplaces are koselig. But it’s more than a coziness. To be koselig is to be connected, grounded, immersed, lovely, intimate. Koselig is a vibe, feeling, lifestyle. It’s a way to cope with long, harsh days of winter, a way to find pockets of joy and warmth and closeness even in the dark.

Koselig is a hard thing to accomplish right now, when social life is fragmented, flattened, ephemeral. Making things koselig also feels newly urgent for me. Like. As in. If I don’t experience one drop of koselig right the fuck now, I might unravel entirely. A crumb of koselig. Please. I’m desperate for it.

A non-exhaustive list of things in my apartment right now that are indeed very koselig: string lights next to the bed, a bunny ears cactus that keeps sprouting new pads, my softball trophy from when I was in first grade, a completed Cats Of The Zodiac puzzle, fresh flowers, a pale blue Dutch oven, a full bookshelf, a rosemary plant, YES SOURDOUGH STARTER, a long-sleeved t-shirt I impulse bought on a trip to Park City last summer and is the absolute perfect level of wash-worn, a candle that smells like the beach, a little perfect dog who always finds the pooled sunspots in the morning. When I look at something here that makes me think of koselig, I try to record it in my head. I want to keep a list of the koselig things so that it can be an easier feeling to find.

My girlfriend, who I’m thankfully quarantined with, and I decided to have a spa day. We never went to the freakin spa before all of this. We’re not even necessarily Skincare Gays. This wasn’t so much an attempt to bring our outside lives inside but rather just a small way to differentiate the days. We keep grasping at ways to make days feel special or different or memorable, because it’s easy to get lost in the cloudiness of quarantine. The future is smudgy-blurred and daunting.

There are fewer things to look forward to. Every time my mother calls, she asks where we’re going to live after Vegas. We currently live here for my girlfriend’s fellowship, and were only suppose to stay until the end of May but now may have to stay in for longer. I keep telling her I don’t know. Who the hell knows where the hell they’re going to be months from now? For the foreseeable future, there’s home. There’s the indoors. There are hours and days, and I’m trying to make them ebb and flow with the same rhythms and dynamics of life before.

Let’s put it this way: I cried on Easter because I forgot about Easter. Do I actually care about Easter? No. Have I done anything special on Easter in the past few years? No! But it seemed like a missed opportunity to plan something special, to get up and make a big brunch or pull one of the nicer meats out of the freezer. But because I’d forgotten, there wasn’t time to do any of those things. I still *Dorinda Medley voice* made it nice (with a cheese plate!), but something about forgetting what day it was and also missing an opportunity to do holiday things (even on a holiday I don’t really celebrate!) made me very sad.

ANYWAY. Spa day. Robes: on. Bathtub: filled. Eye masks: applied. Feet: soaked. Spa days at home, like happy hour at home, can look like a lot of things. Maybe a spa day for you means digging out random face masks you impulse-bought at CVS months ago but forgot about. Now is absolutely the time! Listen, I managed to accidentally do a chemical peel of my feet several days ago — not even on spa day! But it turns out foot masks are divine in addition to being extremely disgusting.

Maybe a spa day for you means painting your nails or taking an afternoon nap in a sunny spot of your home or some quality time with a vibrator. If you’re quarantined with a partner: spa day massages! If you’re quarantined alone: massaging your own face is a severely underrated activity that also can help a lot with stress and anxiety (if those are feelings you happen to be feeling at the moment, no particular reason). Make it nice! Make it koselig!

One more thing that made our spa day extra koselig and warming: Boozy Spicy Hot Cocoa. Here’s a guide, including a non-alcoholic version:

Follow the instructions on your hot cocoa packets/hot cocoa mix for making one mug of cocoa. Add a dash of ground cinnamon, a dash of cayenne powder, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a shot of tequila. For the alcohol-free option, skip the tequila and add an orange rind when heating your water and/or milk to make the hot cocoa.

Now it’s time for the main attraction: tequila-infused whipped cream. Whip about ⅓ cup of heavy cream with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer. For faster results, pop the bowl and whisk in the freezer ahead of time so it’s nice and cold. Technically, you can whip the cream by hand (hot!) but be warned that it’s going to take a lot of work and time and you’ll definitely want to freeze the bowl and whisk first. Once the cream achieves the consistency of whipped cream — stiff peaks! — dump in another shot of tequila, some sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and continue to mix until it’s all incorporated. Boom: infused whipped cream.

If you’re skipping the tequila, you can still make a lovely scented cream. Add finely grated orange zest to the cream or add a tablespoon of instant coffee mix. Listen, I live in the desert, where the sun is technically always shining, and I still found comfort in this winter treat, and maybe you will, too.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 861 articles for us.


  1. I’m sorry, what? Why is there not more information about an accidental chemical peel?? Also, why do I not have tequila??

  2. This just reminded me that I ordered some new tea and it’s going to arrive tomorrow and I have never been so excited about tea in my life.

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