wednesday wisdom. rules of living #11.

chair

today’s post is all about one of my other favorite things (besides travel and photography and spirituality!)… nesting. and what i mean by that is creating a home that is warm, inviting, friendly, comfortable, and cozy.

the dalai lama says this about homes:

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

it’s true, i believe, that one of the most important and intimate things that we can do is to offer hospitality to others. for lina and me, what that means is that our home is a place that, when people come to visit – for an hour or for a week – they feel relaxed, at home, and loved. having a home that provides an atmosphere of peace and calm is what we strive for most, i believe. and it’s something we actually talk about.

my love and i really do sit down and discuss what we can do to make our little corner of the world a sanctuary for visitors and for ourselves. we talk about future placement, knick knacks, decorations, art, flowers… just about everything. and we change how things look every so often, just because. how our home feels is very important. we want it to be a place of positive vibes. yes, a home should truly be a sanctuary. a safe place to nest and to feel free to be exactly who you are.

in addition to having a spot to return to every day that makes you feel relaxed and at peace, we want our home to be that place where everyone finds a place of retreat from the craziness of the world. there is so much stress. so much pain. so much confusion and craziness in our every day lives. so, i think that our homes are the places we can return to find safety and security. having a home that is a sanctuary provides us with a place to recharge. it truly can be the place that is the foundation of our lives – and i’m not only talking about the material things that surround us at home – but the people at home, the feeling that you get when you walk in your home.

with that said, i thought i’d share with y’all our secrets to creating our sanctuary at home  - remember, this is what makes our home a place of retreat. it’s what makes us feel cozy and home-y and relaxed. it looks different to each one of us, but perhaps we can glean a little inspiration from each other.

we try to keep some fresh flowers on our island (and some candy in a bowl!). they are one of the first things you see when you enter… creating a welcoming, friendly, organic atmosphere.

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we think that having a spot to sit in a corner is super cozy. a great place to read or snuggle up. i totally love mixing the brown leather and the metal lamp with a soft blanket. cozy, huh?DSC_0559

it’s always so great to have something green. a bit of a reminder of life and our connection to each other & the world.DSC_0562

oh, and yes. a couple of big, fluffy, huge blankets to wrap up in and have a movie or netflix marathon. the perfect way to spend a rainy day – or any day, actually.DSC_0564

we think it is very, very important to have music in our house – from the record player or our iphones, it doesn’t really matter. but, music sets the tone. and we have tons of playlists with tons of all kinds of music for every kind of situation and mood. and some musical art is an extra bonus. hehe,DSC_0568

a place to sit and share a meal together is a definite necessity. of course, in our opinion candles on the table are also a must. well, actually, candles all over our home are a must.DSC_0569

photos of some of our favorite places, people, and moments hung on the walls are some of our favorite things at home. it reminds us who we are and where we belong.DSC_0577

we’ve also designated places in our home that are meant to draw our creativity and dreams out. when i sit here, i am surrounded by things that remind me of what i want out of life, where i’ve come from, and where i hope to go. having a space like this designates a special area of focus – something that lina and i both need, as a student and a blogger/writer.
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books. books. books. one day i want a whole room of books – i want a library. but, for now, i have books that i have read that inspired and challenged and changed me on display. any visitor is welcome to grab one and read. but, for me, these books represent a lot of who i am and what matters to me. DSC_0584

lina and i changed our bedroom around a few months ago – we decided to move our bed under the windows. why? because windows mean a lot to us. they are our connection with the outside world, with nature. i can lie in bed at night, look up, and see stars. and there is something about that is magical for me. so, whether it is a bed or a chair or a window seat, having a place to rest by the window does a lot for the soul.DSC_0545

lights. lina and i have lights hanging everywhere. over the bed. on top of our kitchen cabinets. around our balcony doors – inside. on our balcony – outside. there is nothing quite like the glow of lights hanging in a room. talk about magical and cozy and warm.  - one other thing worth mentioning, we both have very important momentos beside our side of the bed. i have a little blue bird that came from my mom and my grandma; and also some origami prints from two very special friends who mailed me these photos. they just make me feel all cozy and loved.DSC_0537

lina and i love travel. like obsessively love it. so, it is completely necessary to have a map in our home. this one is on the wall beside my bed. i see it every morning – first thing, and every night – last thing. every time i look at it, i smile. and i’m inspired. i dream and wish. and i remember how big and beautiful this world is – and how much i want to see every little part of it. hanging things on your walls that inspire you and remind you who you are is a great way to make your home a place where you know you belong, i believe. and my map helps me remember that i belong everywhere. DSC_0531

one thing we did when we moved our bed was to put it directly on the floor. we wanted simplicity, coziness, and a minimalistic feeling. being right on the floor makes everything feel much more simple. and the covers we have, we made sure they were bigger than you would usually have so we could create a fluffy, cozy, squishy spot. don’t you just wanna hang out there all day?DSC_0557

create a space that is your own. lina and i each have a space that is the core of who we are. lina’s space is in our studio – at her desk and on the floor. you can find her there every single day. creating, drawing, being inspired, learning, and designing.

as for me, this is my special space – my personal little altar space. i have the most influential books i have read (minus to kill a mockingbird), my japa mala beads i hold during meditation and wear every day, elephants – because they are amazing & holy, and candles. i sit in front of this space at some point during every day, on my pillow on the floor, in order to meditate. i light candles, breathe, and write in my journal. it is my very special place – where i listen to my soul.DSC_0522 DSC_0527

so tell me. what are your favorite things in your home? what kind of atmosphere do you want to have? what’s your decorating style? have you got any tips on how to create a sanctuary at home? if so, please, share them!

namaste, dear friends.

sensory overload: easter celebrations!

orange tulip

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in our little home, we had a quiet and beautiful easter sunday. after dreary, cold rain on friday & saturday… accompanied with a bit of pensive, contemplative moments (read about it here), easter sunday truly lived up to it’s name. just like the symbolism of death and waiting that was saturday’s companion, sunday’s celebration of life, renewal, and  beauty was made even more real by amazing sunshine and warm weather. it was absolutely perfect here in asheville!

saturday night, in an effort to take part in some easter traditions, we decided to dye easter eggs – but, with a twist. i didn’t want to go and buy the typical little packaged dyes, so i decided to make my own natural, organic dyes from fruits, vegetables, and spices (thanks to pinterest). it took a little work, but it was quite easy. and it felt so good to go organic.

eggs

To prepare the dye I used the following:

  • 1 chopped beet
  • 2 C red onion skins
  • 2 C yellow onions skins
  • 2 Tbsp of paprika
  • 2 Tbsp of tumeric
  • 1 C blackberries
  1. Place each of these things into 2 C of water along with 1 tsp salt and boil for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Strain the water and place in a jar or bowl and add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to each dye.
  3. Allow them to cool before using.
  4. Of course I also needed hard boiled eggs.  I used 12, so Lina and I would each have 6 to dye.
  5. I placed all the dyes into plastic cups and we used plastic spoons to place the eggs in and out of the cups.

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It takes a while for the natural dyes to work, so be ready to be patient. I think we left ours in the dyes for about 30 minutes to an hour. It all depends on how dark you want your colors to be. And, when you take them out, they will not be perfectly evenly dyed, but splotchy and uneven – a little tie-dyed looking. But, I loved that. And I especially loved the muted, earthy colors. I left them alone overnight to dry, and was completely in love when I saw them on Easter morning!

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easter sunday started off with a misty, mysterious mountain fog , which soon burned off and revealed a glorious day of warmth and abundant sunshine.

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speaking of easter sunday morning, we had so much fun! lina has never received an american easter basket, so, the easter bunny made an extra special stop at our home to surprise her.

i was sleeping hard, when suddenly, i heard, “i see something!” and there, on the dining room table, was an easter basket for lina! she jumped out of bed and ran over to her basket. there was complete and unadulterated joy coming from her squeals and excitement – an amazing and beautiful thing to see. she sat down and went through her basket, loving every minute of it. and i was filled with such joy just watching her. then, it was time for lina to find the eggs, which had been hidden around the apartment by the easter bunny. so. much. fun.

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after all the early morning festivities, it was time for coffee on the balcony… and a little later on, a french toast breakfast in the sun.

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even though my love has a lot to study right now (she only has 2 weeks left and then her summer vacation starts!), we decided to head over to biltmore estate to check out the flowers. there is a huge garden there that is filled with tulips, and it is a favorite spring destination for people from all over. actually, it’s a pretty huge deal, and very magical – biltmore estate in the spring.

so, we drove the 5 minutes over there and discovered that the line to get in was waaaaay long. it’s a 3 mile drive up to the house & gardens, through the biltmore land/grounds, and it was bumper to bumper the whole way. but, it was so beautiful that we just rolled down the windows, turned on bluegrass music, and then enjoyed the ride.

biltmore estate entrance spring

we passed right by the house and headed for the gardens, parked the car, and then soaked up the beauty.

biltmore estate biltmore gardens biltmore gardens mountains biltmore dogwood greenhouse conservatory my love me photography tulips red flower orange field of flowers tulip garden lina tulips liz tulips sit liz me ego flowers feet biltmore swannanoa river biltmore yellow flowers spring lone tree biltmore mountains

after the biltmore visit, we came home for the rest of the day – except i went to see my bro for an hour. and later on, finished off the day with a glass of bubbles and a sunset chat with my love.

i truly hope that your easter, your weekend, was beautiful and filled with lots of moments that took your breath away.

love & peace. 

credit to lina for some of the biltmore photos. 

the significance of spring

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you know, there are some interesting things to being in a bi-national, same-sex relationship. for one thing, you are almost always plotting and planning what happens next in life. it’s as if, just as you get settled in one place, it’s time to begin wondering again how long you will stay and where you might go next.

i suppose this is just part of my nature. a wandering nomad. a pilgrim. part of this also stems from my love of travel and my desire to try something new. or, in other words, i/we get bored easily. hehe. this is the part of a bi-national marriage that i love!

but, seriously, there are issues of the visa/residence permit-type that also pop up when living in a relationship that involves two different nationalities. one of us is always away from home and requires special permission from a government body to stay in the other person’s home country. or, if we live somewhere else, we both require permission. all of that means that we have to be planning and thinking way ahead practically all of the time.

i know that we just moved to the states less than a year ago, but we are also on the verge of having to begin thinking about our future again. technically, lina has 3 more years of school left, but it’s never to early to begin dreaming and wondering what the plan is after that. and that leads into the conversation of which country do we want to live in… and all of the pros and cons that come along with both sweden and the states. and you know what we discovered, as we began this conversation last night? that we have no idea where we want to be.

needless to say, when i went to bed last night, i was a little bit stressed out. i had no idea i was stressed out until my head hit the pillow. and then my brain began overworking: it’s be good and very easy to live in sweden – i have a permanent residence permit, so i can live there anytime for as long as i want. plus, it’s an amazing place to live. buuuuut, i don’t want to leave asheville. i love it here. we love it here. and then there’s nyc. or a whole other country. gaaahh. i started legitimately freaking out in my head for a moment… feeling all restless and confused.

and then, i remembered. the present moment. yes. the present moment. this is how to survive all of the worrys, wonderings, and freak outs about the future. as soon as i reset my thoughts on the present moment – on what’s happening today, or in the next week, then i calmed down. i found my breath and my peace. and i drifted off to a peaceful sleep.

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when i awoke this morning, i felt a surge of energy and positive vibes coursing through my veins. i felt a twinge of life, and i remembered that it was spring!! and then everything made sense.

on this day, when the dark and light are equal, it is a celebration of the present moment – where true life lies. this equality of darkness and light, the presence of both of them, are reminders for me of the need for balance. and the power of living a balanced life.

and so, today, i celebrate the energy that is bursting forth. the new life, new potentials, and  new opportunities that are present in my own life. i remember that it is so important to recognize the darkness and the light, and to remember to be thankful for the push and pull, the yin and the yang, the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, the suffering and the joy. i remembered that, like the changing of the seasons, everything happens in due time.

with the changing of the seasons, that old reliable cycle of death and renewal every single year, i am struck once again with the knowledge and belief that my life follows the same pattern. new, old, new again. orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. it is the cyclical pattern of transformation, of growth, of new adventures, new opportunities, and new ways to reinvent my life.

today, i celebrate the coming of spring by remembering that i need the balance that nature provides. i need it all. and in order to survive the ups and downs, questions and answers, certainties and uncertainties, i need to be attuned to the present moment. always, always, always trusting that the cycle continues. that life is renewed – even in death. that we are all part of this amazing, energetic, inspiring circle of life.

i think i’ll spend a little time outside today, harnessing that energy that the universe is letting off. soaking up the sun. engaging in some silent moments of quiet. listening to the birds chirping. and letting my soul do the talking.

and, when i go to bed tonight, i will lay all my worries aside, and know that i have done all that i could do today. then, i will close my eyes, take in a deep breath, reach over & touch my love, and drift off into a deep, peaceful sleep.

happy spring, dear ones!

peace and love. xx