feature-food

the one thing i love about easter in sweden

easter in sweden is a big deal. not necessarily because of the religious reasons, but because it is a long weekend holiday, and the first real celebration in the spring. like the united states, easter is right up there with christmas. there are traditions, decorations, and typical swedish things that you can count on seeing and/or doing every year.

i’ve spent quite a few easters in sweden… i think this was my 5th, and i knew exactly what to expect. time may have passed, and situations in life may have changed, but this holiday, this little break in regular, everyday life, remains an important time in swedish society.

my easter this year began on friday morning, as my love and i enjoyed a quiet, slow morning at home. then we hopped on a train and headed south to norrköping to lina’s parents’ home. we made it by dinner time + sat outside in their new sunroom through sunset and until the full moon had risen high in the sky. on good friday, it is expected that you don’t do much of anything – a tradition in respect of the day of jesus’ death. even though most people in sweden don’t really observe good friday.

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saturday, the traditional weird day between good friday and easter, is filled with a buzz here in sweden. though, it’s a buzz only with food + family here. nothing else. our saturday was pretty calm, even though it was busy – kind of. a long, lazy morning with lots of coffee + breakfast. meal preparations. a big 14 person lunch. lots of candy (from the easter eggs children get). a mid-afternoon fika. more relaxing, talking, and sitting around the table. pizza dinner. and then bed.

sitting around the table, eating, talking, and catching up is something that swedes do every well. it is highly possible to go from one meal to a fika to another little meal, and never leave the table. it was something i had hard time with when i first lived in sweden years ago, being a short-attention-span american. but, i have grown to enjoy the long, drawn-out meals where you really, really connect and enjoy each others’ company.

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on easter sunday, we began the morning slowly again, but left for church in the late morning. we visited the church where i used to work, and filled with people that lina grew up with. it was so very nice to hug some necks and catch up with friends and co-workers and other members. i have to say, we were treated like little celebrities when we walked in – what a boost to one’s ego. hehe. of course, after the service we had fika and chatted with even more people. it was really great to reconnect with some very amazing, inspiring people from our former life in sweden.

then, in the afternoon, we headed to lina’s aunt + uncles’ house for a birthday dinner for lina’s cousin who’s turning 25. there were about 17 of us or so. another amazing family meal of sitting around the table and catching up. as you can tell, it’s all about quality time together here in sweden.

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in the evening, lina and i hopped a bus back to uppsala. it was a long ride and we arrived close to 11pm. but that didn’t stop us from meeting up with lina’s brother for a drink at a nearby bar. he wasn’t with us for easter because he was with his fiancées family. it was a great way to wind down after a social weekend away, and transition back to being home.

easter monday is a holiday here, so everyone was still off from work. lina and i stayed home all day – minus a quick walk to the grocery store. doing what we love to do. and just being.

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so, in my opinion, easter in sweden is all about one thing: simplicity. it’s all about simply spending time together and enjoying that time with good food and relaxation. it is a fantastic little break in the everyday grind. and something that makes the swedish society so amazing. it’s  the ability to just slow down and just be for a sustained period of time – without needing to be entertained by something fancy. just some food and some people and perhaps a chance to enjoy nature a bit. for a whole weekend. something that many people (americans) could learn to do better. whether you are involved with a big family or there are only two of you, it’s all about stopping for a moment just to enjoy… well, life.

hope you had a lovely weekend, and celebrated in just the way that you wanted + needed.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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together for christmas: an american xmas day

when you have two countries represented in your marriage, then you have the joy of living with two cultures. lina + i absolutely love having the opportunity to celebrate holidays by combining our two traditions: american + swedish. this year, as many of your know, we are celebrating the christmas holidays with a little extra excitement because we have all four of our parents gathered in the same place, and actually even under the same roof for christmas eve + christmas day!

yesterday i shared with you our swedish celebrations of christmas eve (you can read that post –> here). today, we continue our christmas day celebration, complete with the american tradition of waking to presents + a cozy, lazy christmas morning + more yummy food.

our american christmas day

good morning from the mountains!

christmas-sunrisesanta came!!

christmas-morning-giftslet the fun unwrapping + gift-giving begin!!
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and now… time to explore the gifts, play with the gifts, and make some breakfast (thanks, mom!)christmas-linachristmas-guys

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dressed + ready to prepare lunch: my mom, brother, and me worked together to get everything ready!christmas-me

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the american christmas day meal is set (it’s a lot like thanksgiving food in my family – because we love it so much. hehe. | sweet potatoes with marshmallows, corn pudding, green bean casserole, two kinds of stuffing, turkey, ham, rolls, two kinds of cranberry sauce. | a super souther meal, i’d say. christmas-dinner-2

after stuffing ourselves full, we pulled out computers (yep. we are that family) and looked at houses for sale in ohio (where my brother is moving to in february) and uppsala, sweden (where we are moving to in january). we are weird, but we had fun!christmas-familychristmas-my-love-and-meas the sun began to set we said goodbye to my brother (who left just before us) and my parents, thanking them for such a cozy and wonderful christmas day celebration. christmas-evening

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 after a 30 minute drive back home, we were nestled in our apartment. lina and her parents in the living room, chatting and relaxing. me, snuggled under the covers in the bedroom. then it hit me. christmas is over and it’s now time to look forward. a great sadness fell over me, knowing that i am moving from these mountains and my family. the close of the day found me focusing on the goodbyes that loom in my near future. and yet, at the same time, snuggled in my bed, i also felt such great, wonderful gratitude for this holiday season. and it is only because of this great gratitude and love that i feel such pain in my heart as well.

it has truly been an incredible, amazing, time. my heart is full. my cup is overflowing with abundance + love. the beauty of this season has shone bright. and i am counting my blessings over + over again… as i fall asleep feeling loved and grateful. i could not have wished for anything more.

my wish is that your holiday time has been exactly what you have wanted + needed, that you have felt moments of peace + joy in the midst of this season.

gone too soon, now it’s over
the season’s down to a smolder
i hold to the warmth of december
till next year’s flame
till christmas, christmas,
christmas day.
- johnnyswim

light + love to you all. xoxo

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together for christmas: a swedish christmas eve

you probably already know that my in-laws from sweden are in town to celebrate christmas with lina + me, which i think is super cool. and you may or may not know that my parents live about 30 minutes away. and my brother lives 5 minutes from me. with all of that said, this christmas was something extra special to me. having these most important people in the same place, at the same time, and over the christmas holiday, meant that, for me, this would be a christmas of being together.

it would have been completely completely if lina’s siblings + their families, and my brother’s girlfriend could have been here. but, gathering our parents in the same place, considering we are spread out over two countries, was a huge feat, making me feel totally overwhelmed with gratitude.

seeing as we are two families from two countries, we have different traditions for celebrating christmas. no matter where lina and i are during the holidays, we always try to combine traditions and celebrate the swedish + american way, as much as possible, given whichever country we are in. but, this year, we were able to celebrate both ways with just a little more pizzazz.

here’s how we did it: luckily swedes celebrate chrismas on christmas eve. it’s the big day with the family gatherings, large amounts of food, and santa’s visit. americans celebrate a tiny bit on christmas eve,but the big highlight is christmas morning + christmas day. so, we just planned to have about 48 hours of a holly jolly time! and we did it the swedish way on christmas eve, and the american way of christmas day. perfect for our double celebration!

now, that i’ve written to you a bit about our plans, i’m ready to share a ton of photos with you. today’s post will be all about christmas eve – celebrating the holiday with a swedish touch (and ending the night by transitioning into classic american traditions). of course, there are a few things missing from the swedish celebration – like watching donald duck on national swedish tv at 3pm and eating lots of fish. still, i think we did a pretty good job!

our swedish christmas eve in the states

i spent a few quiet moments, as usual, in the morning, before everyone else awoke. just letting the season soak into me + preparing myself for the day.christmas-eve-morning-presents

we had stockings to open (lina and i both filled each others’ stocking with earrings that we loved, without knowing  that the other one was giving earrings. how cool!) + then we decided to each open one package on christmas eve (saving the rest for christmas morning). zola got a little ball (as you can see) in her stocking. so cute.christmas-eve-morning-family

christmas-silly-me the table is set! and, it is featuring the swedish christmas soda called “julmust”, a very special drink. but, i love it! christmas-eve-table

our parents watched over us as we prepared the meal… i think they were a bit hungry (and perhaps excited too). my mom, lina’s mom, my dad. l to r.christmas-eve-waiting-family

cheers! sipping on some egg nog to fill our bellies a bit as we wait.christmas-eve-egg-nog-toast

more waiting… almost done!christmas-eve-hungry
let’s eat! the swedish way: lots of meat + some potatoes. hehe. we had ribs, little hotdogs, sweidhs meatballs, mushroom omelette, and potatoes casserole. and it was all super yummy.christmas-eve-swedish-food
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cheers again! with a little moscato!christmas-eve-lina-and-me christmas-eve-lunch

after the meal, what else was there to do but just lounge around?! look at our parents there… chatting, resting, relaxing. i love this capture.christmas-eve-parents

menawhile, lina and i were preparing fika: coffee, lussekatter buns, cookies, candy. mmmm!christmas-eve-fika

then… we rested. ahhhh. i think i even fell asleep. but, it was so cozy as i snuggled down under my covers. hehe. more christmas eve fun to come!my-love-and-me-christmas-eve

after all of the day’s activities, including our hour and a half rest period (ha!), we then switched gears a bit and began to bring in the classic american activities on  christmas eve: a candlelight service at the church where i used to work + a late night family viewing of national lampoon’s christmas vacation – a reynolds tradition every christmas eve. here we are at church. soooo cozy.

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i worked at this church, with these amazing people, for 8 years. it was absolutely overwhelmingly wonderful to see so many faces that i haven’t seen in a while. i don’t know how many necks i hugged + how many people greeted me/us. i saw some of my deepest, dearest, old friends. i talked with pole who’s hands i’d held in the hospital after major surgeries. i celebrated new life that some of my old youth are now carrying in them.  i sang and spoke and laughed with people that i had the privilege of sharing so many sacred + special moments in their lives. i remembered what a joy and an honor it is to minister to people. i felt as if i’d returned home. this place, is, in one way, will always be my home. and that people haven’t forgotten me… i was so touched. oh, my heart was so full of wonder + light. so. very. full.christmas-eve-light

then, we headed to my parents’ house. that’s right, we had all packed a bag, grabbed all of the christmas day food i had already baked, and gathered up all of the presents under our tree to take to my parents’ place. we were going to sleep there!! christmas eve slumber party. hehe. when we arrived, we are quite hungry, so my mom offered us tons of snacks she prepared + then we sat down for the annual national lampoon’s christmas vacation showing. cozy + hilarious fun!christmas-eve-snacks christmas-eve-goodies

after snacks + the movie, it was coming on 1 am. time to hit the sack… so santa can come!! we all retired to our bedrooms, lina + i curled up together on a tiny twin bed, which turned out to be just perfectly comfy. i laid my head down, took in a deep breath in all of the quiet + the stillness, and gave thanks for the abundance of joy that had been this christmas eve. good night!

check back tomorrow to see a glimpse of our cozy christmas day!

 

light + love xoxo

the adventures of a girl in love with autumn

so, autumn is in full swing here in asheville, north carolina and it just could not be more cozy and beautiful. october is absolutely a stunning month up here in the mountains. but, i’m telling you, this is only the beginning. the beauty, the coziness, the autumn amazingness will only grow more + more.

here’s an example: right now, as i type this, i have candles lit in my living room. a blanket on my feet. a glass or red wine by my side. halloween lights glowing outside my door on the balcony. the debate for north carolina’s next senator on tv (we vote in just 4 weeks – and it will be a big one). and tons of photos to share with you in this post.

yes, i am enjoying a very low key, relaxed night after about 2 glorious weeks of adventure, fun, and  friends. i gotta get my balance on, you know. so, here are bunches of snaps from the past 2 weeks – snaps of food, drinks, nature, laughs – of sharing life with one another. and, just as a bonus, they include lina’s high school friend from sweden who came to visit us for 10 days. take a peek!

happy october!

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dinners and beer out on the town – gotta share the avl secrets w/ our swedish friend!
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vintage store obsessions
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ah-freaking-mazing moments: 7:30 am yoga class + midday mountain ride + $2.50 cans of beer and slices of pizza.

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a huge fika group (20 were there!) and then some alone time at my “secret” hiding spot
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pub crawl. i mean, we’ve got 15 micro-breweries in asheville. what else to do?!IMG_8258 IMG_8260 IMG_8266

a small mountain town visit + railroad tracks + true bluegrass + the best burger ever at a lonesome country barIMG_8283 IMG_8292 IMG_8294

live music + another brewery + asheville’s drum circle (there is nothing quite like the downtown drum circle. anywhere. ever)IMG_8305 IMG_8310 IMG_8331 IMG_8334

biltmore estate + wine tasting IMG_8338 IMG_8344 IMG_8361 IMG_8364

the first frost + golden sun + the blue ridge parkwayIMG_8391 IMG_8398 IMG_8399 IMG_8405 IMG_8407 IMG_8429 IMG_8437 IMG_8452 IMG_8458 IMG_8467 IMG_8475

a celebratory last night out with our swedish friend (she left this morning)IMG_8511 IMG_8520 IMG_8524

dedication: 7:30 am yoga class – even though it was dark + rainy when i left home
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autumn peaceIMG_8541

you see? i told you it was a lot. hehe. i sure do hope that your autumn/spring has gotten off to a beautiful start. sending you lots of peace and happiness.

love + light. xx

balancing the everyday

happy monday, out there. a good weekend was had by all, i hope. mine was a combination of a fun, party-like atmosphere to a cozy, quiet time at home to a busy, goal-focused afternoon. so, i suppose you could say that i did a little bit of everything. actually, that’s how my whole week was. pretty balanced, i guess. and you know how i love balance. hehe. i thought i’d share a few photos from the past week, and all of my little activities and shenanigans as i get back to “real life” again. enjoy, friends!

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always find time for the things that make you happy to be alive.

thanks for reading! peace & love. xx

sensory overload. part 12.

ok. i confess. this past week was a lot of fun because all i did, it seems, is eat and drink with people i love. and that makes for a happy girl. there is nothing like good food, good drinks, and breaking bread together with some of the important people in your life. to me, besides traveling and writing, enjoying a meal with people is the most amazing thing, the best way to live life to the fullest. so, this past week, i just about maxed out on living life!

st. patty’s day celebrations with my love! gaelic beer and irish dancers!

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tuesday afternoon: i went to class with lina! physics is crazy. and i’m glad i’m not in college.

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tuesday night: ok. this is a crazy story… i was planning on eating dinner with my brother. lina stayed home because she had to study. i parked my car in the restaurant’s parking lot, and got out. this gorgeous tree that was just beginning to bloom was right there, so, of course, i decided to take a picture of it, just as i was snapping it, a female voice from behind me said, “what are you taking a picture of?” i thought, “how nice that someone random is speaking to me.” and then i turned around…IMG_0276

it was freaking paige!! (my dear, amazing friend from for the love of wanderlust!!). i was so shocked, that i APPARENTLY looked angry and confused. i almost had a heart attack. she was planning on coming back to asheville for her third trip since january, but she told me she was coming on thursday! and this was tuesday! well, needless to say, i was very happily surprised that she tricked us and arrived early.

we immediately called lina via facetime and she just yelled, “what?!” no more studying for her. hehe. we piled in the cars and headed home to pick her up. so much fun! now paige was going to be with us for practically a whole week! IMG_0279

wednesday: fika group day!! paige and i met with my fika group at izzy’s coffee den downtown for a few hours of great conversation and a yummy soy chai latte. IMG_0305

wednesday afternoon: the three of us girls piled on the couch, pulled out our macs, and blogged & studied. super cozy afternoon.IMG_0314

wednesday night: dinner at the yummy avenue m in north asheville. and lucky us, it was half-price wine bottle night. and yes, we did partake!IMG_0332

thursday: spent almost 5 hours at a cozy cafe with paige, and we blogged and chatted the whole time. the rest of the day was a cozy AFTERNOON and evening at home.

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friday: another blogging/writing date with paige. this time at world coffee cafe (i’m trying to show her as much of asheville as possible. and since i’m the coffee/cafe queen…. ). we had delicious snacks and tried to focus. hehe.

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friday afternoon: after picking up lina from UNCA, we decided it was time to celebrate the weekend. so, it was a girls afternoon at wicked weed with some crazy, amazing beer. i had mango jalepeno and it was sooooo good.IMG_0433

girls afternoon turned into a fun walk through downtown, a quick stop at urban outfitters, and then cocktails at a fabulous third floor/rooftop bar. IMG_0441

saturday morning: i had my first morning coffee of 2014 out on the balcony. love it!IMG_0465

saturday afternoon: slipped on my converse and headed out to do some work on an article i’m working on for the newspaper. an interview and a photo shoot in downtown & west asheville. so much fun!IMG_0471 IMG_0487

saturday night: dinner out again with lina, paige, & nick (my bro). and after dinner, we headed to the bywater – a bar besdie the french broad river – for beer & bluegrass. a super relaxing & fun night.IMG_0518

sunday: it turned cold out & rained almost all day. so i snuggled under a blanket and read. perfection.IMG_0533

i told you that we ate and drank and enjoyed each others’ company all week. it was so great and i am vrey thankful for the past few days. what a gift!

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 now, a new week is upon us and it’s time to get down to business. my love has got some major tests this week. i’ve got a few deadlines, a book club meeting, my fika group, and a job interview. plus, my parents are coming for a few days. so, i’ve gotta get my productive hat on and focus, focus, focus!

wishing you a fantastic last week of march! 

love & peace. xx