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

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

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

cheers! sipping on some egg nog to fill our bellies a bit as we

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
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

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.


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.

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

7 more things to celebrate in april.

it’s been a challenging week for celebrations. but, true to what i believe, i must practice what i preach. so, even though i’ve been scared, sad, lonely, worried, and exhausted, i still have found something everyday to celebrate. what a great opportunity april’s photo challenge has been for me. it’s as if my subconscious knew something back in march when i planned april to be a month all about finding something to celebrate every day. it’s not always easy, and some days it seems like it’s almost impossible, but it’s there. there is always something, even if it’s the tiniest thing, to celebrate. there is always one reason to go to bed thankful and one reason to wake up hopeful.

here’s what i celebrated this past week:

8: cry

cry: crying, mourning, and remembering is a part of life. today was holocaust remembrance day.

cry: crying, mourning, and remembering is a part of life. today was holocaust remembrance day.

9. risk

risk: if i hadn't taken one risk after another, this picture would have never happened. #wife #married #lgbt #expat #sweden #travel #dublin #ireland #guiness #friendship #love

10. pink

pink: a pink orchid on my windowsill... in honor of international anti-bullying day today.

pink: a pink orchid on my windowsill… in honor of international anti-bullying day today.

11. warm

warm: keeping warm while standing at the bus stop waiting for our friend n, to arrive from ireland!

warm: keeping warm while standing at the bus stop waiting for our friend n, to arrive from ireland!

12. unhindered

unhindered: this is the day my love went to the hospital. i need some strong, unhindered, tough inspiration . this was perfect. face those fears & challenges, and grab onto life! y e a h.

unhindered: this is the day my love went to the hospital. i needed some strong, unhindered, tough inspiration. this was perfect. face those fears & challenges, and grab onto life! y e a h.

13. joy

joy: lots of joy when n and i went out to eat and received lots of yummy, unique, delicious food... for free!

joy: lots of joy when n and i went out to eat and received lots of yummy, unique (smoked octopus & pork belly), delicious food… for free!

14. laughter

laughter: this movie did it for me. laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

laughter: this movie did it for me. laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

so, what are you celebrating? what has happened lately that has reminded you that life is a beautiful journey, even when it’s messy? talk to me!

party on! peace & love.

28 days of love: black & white style.

well, here we are again. another week has flown by and there are only a few days left in february. crazy!! and from where i am sitting now, it feels pretty good to be moving on into march. good in an exciting way! for now, though, i have a few more super fun things waiting for me as this month winds down. so, it’s time to live in the here & now. time to soak up the present moment as i embark on the last week of this photo challenge. and i can promise you that there will be some super cool pictures in my last week… stay tuned & check back. i’m leaving sweden for a few days. wink wink.

as you can see, there is a little black & white theme going on with my photos this week. i didn’t plan on it being that way, but after 3 days i realized that i had inadvertently used a black & white filter, so i decided to complete the week with the same theme. a little artsy, ya know.

15: nostalgic

feelin' all nostalgic in one on my fave hippie t-shirts.

feelin’ all nostalgic in one on my fave hippie t-shirts.

16: flower

do you see the cat among the flowers? hehe.

do you see the cat among the flowers? hehe.

17: dream

i'm just a little american girl livin' my dream with my love from our home in europe.

i’m just a little american girl livin’ my dream with my love from our home in europe. seriously. i live here. soooo cool.

18: breathe

breathe deep. fingers crossed. dreams in the making.

breathe deep. fingers crossed. dreams in the making.

19: soft

these thingys. so soft & adorable.

these thingys. so soft & adorable.

20: memory

making memories on a girl's night. chips. popcorn. drinks with fun straws. and movies.

making memories on a girl’s night. chips. popcorn. drinks with fun straws. and movies.

21. beloved

my beloved being her funny self this morning as we played games. last night our niece stayed over & we had a girls' night. super fun.

my beloved being her funny self this morning as we played games. a continuation of our girls’ night. fun!

as the month comes to an end, i am left wondering what i’m gonna do in march? photo challenge? or not? and if i do one, should i make it myself or follow another one’s? hmmm… what do you think?

have a great thursday! peace.

the full moon effect.

yep. it’s monday, huh? how’s yours going?

if you live on the east coast of the united states, i hope that you have all you need and are safe as hurricane sandy pushes herself upon you. geez. she is a huge & scary storm, threatening some pretty serious disasters over a large area.

not much is happening here in sweden. it’s just cold & gray. oh, and dark.

well, we did have one of lina’s friend’s come & visit us for lunch, and that was really great. it was a friend i had never met before, so it was cool to finally put a face to the name. she as really sweet, and hopefully we’ll be able to go visit her next year in the northern part of sweden… i am dying to go there!! my love went to a university up north, and i’d love to see where that part of her life took place.

i feel like i almost know the area because she lived there during the time that we were getting to know each other & falling in love. only we didn’t know we were falling in love. hehe. i spent hours & hours talking with her on Skype, every day, when she was living up there. so, i have this nostalgic connection to that place, even though i’ve never been there. know what i mean?

anyway, i have met most of my love’s college friends from that time. in fact, we all get together fairly often. but, this one friend i had not met. my love actually didn’t study with her, but met her because of some mutual activities. anyway, this chick has heard of me, too. so it was really great for us to meet each other face to face, after hearing about each other for the past 5 years.

this afternoon, our restlessness set in again, and lina & i found ourselves feeling bored and tired again. like last night. it’s gotta be the full moon and the changing to winter time that is messing with my head for the past 2 days. i feel so off balance. suddenly, in the midst of all of my confused boredom, lina said she was going to bake an apple pie. that how things roll in sweden. people just up & decide to bake something – from scratch – and then do it. so, i had fresh apple pie for my afternoon snack. mmmmm….

after that, i felt better. i felt calm, and even a bit inspired. so i snapped a few shots in our apartment of our little halloween decorations…

tonight, we had a little halloween movie night with our friend, g. just a little tease before i break out the big guns on wednesday. (my wife doesn’t know it, but we’re gonna have a cozy, freaky, scary halloween night together.) have i ever mentioned how much i loooove scary movies? well, I do.

so, aside from getting into the halloween spirit, obsessively watching the weather in the states, fighting my restless tendencies, and meeting new/old friends, that’s my monday in a nutshell. as for tuesday, I really hope to get some writing done… i gotta post the next part of my story. and then there’ s a photo tips post, and a november post, a post about a girl & her book, some music inspiration, something spooky for halloween, a countdown, a post about siblings, and so much more. i could, in theory, spend all day writing… which topic sounds the best to you?!

we’ll see what happens! gosh i hope all my weirdness & unsettled ness go away soon. i miss feeling like myself. perhaps I should try more yoga, or meditation. i am definitely missing some spiritual connection these days… halloween & all hallow’s eve/all saints day should do the trick. i promise myself to sit in silence for at least 15 minutes when i get up in the morning… i’ll let you know how that goes.


for now, g’night! peace.

a walk with my love.

i woke up this morning and it was cold. i mean well below freezing cold. like really hard to get out from under your covers cold. brrr… but, even though a chill was in the air, the sky was a beautiful blue & the sun was a bright, golden yellow. so, that means only one thing:

at some point we’ve got to get outside and enjoy this amazing-ness.

so late this afternoon we headed out.

after a cozy, slow walk around the city, we decided to stop off at a nearby restaurant and order a wood-fired pizza to take home with us. i must say, it was a delicious pizza and the perfect way to ease into a warm, snuggly evening at home.

now, i’m all hooked on some american suspense movie on tv, which will not be over after 12. but, tonight, that’s perfectly fine, even if i have to get up & go to work in the morning. why, you ask? because tonight, over here in europe, we change times. yep it’s time to fall back tonight & get one extra hour of sleep. yeah. the down side of that is that beginning tomorrow it will be dark between 4 & 4:30, and only get worse until the end of december.

the nights seem soooo long this time of year, the darkness is overwhelming, with the sun rising at 9 and setting about 3/3:30. it’s crazy. but, all you gotta do is buy a super-size bad of candles, and burn tons of candles all evening long. and i totally love that!

ok. back to my movie now. hope you’ve had a great saturday!

peace out, peeps.


time to get cultured.

here i am sitting on my sofa, sipping on a glass of wine, with about five blog posts swirling around in my head. so much to write, so little time. isn’t weird how you feel like you’re either gonna explode from ideas and things that you can’t wait to write about, or you’re gonna curl up into a little ball in a corner somewhere because you can’t think of anything at all to write about? oh, come on. it’s like that for you, right? i can’t be the only one. pleeeeease don’t let me be the only one…

well, i’m only gonna put out one post tonight, but tomorrow is my day off! happy dance. so, i’m gonna work on stuff all freaking day long. drinnk coffee. stay in my pj’s. of course, as luck would have it, i’ll probably be in that curled up in a corner mood when i wake up. just kidding. i have some goals, so i’ve gotta get some stuff done. or at least begin it.

but, tonight, i’m gonna share some pics from my weekend. i worked friday night (a blog post in itself. it totally deserves it.). awesome. incredible. and the rest of the weekend has been pretty amazing as well. saturday was “culture night” in my city (kulturnatten), a day/night that i love! there is live music, free concerts, good food, lots of little plays, poetry slams, eclectic art, and local shops stay open, welcoming you in with candles, snacks, and more music. it’s an artist lovers dream night. if you wanna know more about it you can read here. it’s like a funky, artsy, eclectic vibe pulses through the city and the streets are crawling with people.

enough chit chat. take a look!

saturday (culture night)

first stop… a little second-hand, vintage boutique. loved it.

bought a bag. THE bag. exactly what i’ve been looking for, for a year. and i found it about 5 blocks from my apartment. hehe. but, i’m totally in love. oh, and the necklace is new too! a birthday gift from some native english speaking friends.

vintage. boho. love-o.

on to an antique bookstore. freaking cool.

and then, a funky record shop. see the pattern? yes, i like old things. all things retro & vintage.

next up: a concert in the church where i work… swedish, russian, & gospel. sweet. (and my love was singing too!)

then, time for a pub or something with my love & a fellow american. on the way, we heard music. so, what did we do… we danced, of course. crazy, carefree americans. and proud of it. uh huh.




this here is what is known as a cinema (with a funky misspelling on purpose)… a place where only indie films & documentaries are shown = we love it.

we watched a documentary on olaf palme, sweden’s prime minister, who was assassinated in 1986. it was awesome. and i’ve found a new hero to add to my list.

on our way out… headed home for the evening.

all-righty, my dear friends & family. i suppose that’s all for this day. it’s late & time for bed. can you believe that tomorrow is october?! time is flying by. i blinked & september has just become a memory. i racked up tons of good memories this september, though. looking forward to october and fall settling in big time. i hope y’all have had a great weekend. if you feel like it, leave me a comment & let me know what you did!

sleep tight, my lovelies. peace.