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.

sweden-blue-skies train-ride-my-love sweden-countryside

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.

coffee feather-tree easter-food easter-candy me-photo easter-cake pizza-dinner

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.

church-sweden friends-church

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.

guitar

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

simplicity

silence + simplicity: my first 6 weeks in uppsala have begun

it’s monday. and everything is new again. how many times have i done this? you know, started over or started anew. i must admit, the emotion that i feel the most right now, today, is gratitude. the sheer number of times that my love and i have moved and begun a new adventure together blows my mind. for me, each new beginning has been another chance to not reinvent myself, but to push myself + transform myself, adding new experiences, new hopes, and new dreams to the ones that i always carry with me.

rakarbergsgatan

so, here i am. on a cozy white sofa, watching snow fall down outside and writing away. every five minutes or so, i catch a glimpse of the view out the window, or i just look down at my hands and realize what i am doing + where i am. i am in sweden. again. living here. i just popped out of my asheville life, one that is so different from this one here, and popped myself into my european life again. this thought blows my mind as well. it’s just like… poof. here i am.

balcony-viewtoday my love is in the middle of her first day as a graphic designer – and i couldn’t be more proud of her – as i sit here + write. so, i’m on my own, in our little apartment that we are renting for the next 6 weeks. being alone, especially after so much excitement + stress, is usually a really good thing. but, today i’ve been a bit jittery, restless. i’m trying to settle down + land, i think.

lina-to-work

after lina left, i got dressed – knowing that it is imperative that i get dressed so i feel like a human being with a mission. i made my second cup of tea, grabbed my journal + calendar, and sat down for a little planning session with myself while i ate breakfast. i made a few lists and eventually hammered out a little routine that i think might work to help me stay focused for the next few weeks.

planning

it was like taking a final exam, though. my mind is all over the place. and then i’d look out the window and remember where i am and how my life has changed. yeah, focus has not been my thing today. so, i decided i’d meditate. i got on the floor, lit some candles, and closed my eyes. i breathed in + breathed out. but, that’s about it.

you know what it is, in addition to the continuous moments of realizing where i am? it’s the silence.

my friends, what we have moved into for the next six weeks is a very cozy + nice apartment. we are overly excited + it exceeds our student housing expectations by a mile. however, it will be a simple + silent time here. there is no tv. no internet. no coffee pot. no kettle. everything is very basic and simplistic. and it’s quiet. we’ve got all of the furniture that is necessary, so we are totally comfortable. but, we don’t have any of our stuff with us – just clothes. and zola.

hall breakfast kitchen living-room bedroom

what this all means is that i have walked in circles around the apartment a few times today. just kind of settling into this silent groove. the one thing that i did accomplish when i was meditating was the revelation that this is exactly what i need. the slowness, the silence, the opportunity to focus. it’s a push to live life more authentically, more real, more intentionally, more grounded + connected. a reminder to me, once again, that i do not actually need much stuff in life in order to have a life full of meaning and purpose. in fact, perhaps life is even more meaningful the more simple it is.

so, i’m typing this to you now on my computer in a document. i’ll save it and, by the time you read it, i will have found a little café or uppsala university’s library so i can steal some free wifi. i’m thinking that this going to be really, really good for my writing + photography. no internet distractions. just a chance to create and tell my stories in words + images.

apartment-uppsala-lina-window

i’ll not be grabbing my usual cups of coffee, either, while i write + read + take photos. nope. if, i crave something warm, then i heat water up the old-fashioned way – on the stove in a pot. then i can have a cup of tea. and, while i have a headache right now from the lack of caffeine from my lovely morning coffee rituals, i am grateful for the simplicity of doing things more slowly. including planning ahead for the time that it takes to walk everywhere. i am grateful that everything in my life is taking a bit more time than i am used to. of course, there are (and will be) moments when i just want to pop back into my convenient, everything-at-my-finger-tips life back in asheville. still, that’s just me being lazy and petty. the life that i have in front of me right now is just another slow, intentional, beautiful step towards bliss.

speaking of that… it’s time i go check that pot on the stove. time for my afternoon tea.

 

onwards + upwards! xoxo

connect with your native soul

i decided that i wanted to make a special playlist for november. well, i have actually promised myself to make a playlist for every month throughout the entire year – up until my 41st birthday next september. – but i just had some sort of feeling about november’s playlist. i wanted something spiritual and grounded, but something that also honored the history of this land – but with a different focus. something not so traditionally  pilgrim-white man-eurocentric focused.

i was excited about creating my november playlist, but i had not really given it any thought at all. and here it was only a day away from november. well, i started gathering some songs on tuesday and finished thursday morning. in between, as i selected songs, i decided on a theme. i don’t remember how i came up with the idea of letting november become “native november“, but the moment that the word “native” snuck out of my mouth, i knew that it was perfect.

think about it: in both hemispheres we have beautiful natural transformations happening, with the autumn + spring giving way to winter + summer. so, i wanted to honor the earth. and i wanted to celebrate the thanksgiving holiday in a way that i never have before: by spending the weeks leading up to it by focusing on native americans rather than pilgrims, even if one of my direct descendants was one of the original pilgrims. but, this year, i wanted the focus of my thanksgiving, my november, to be natural, organic, ceremonial, spiritual, and wild + free.

then i began searching high + low for songs whose titles had something to do with nature – and/or native american culture and symbols. i gathered music that sounded a bit like bluegrass, or music that was clearly meant for the wild west., and, of course some native chants.

finally, it all came together. and i was so very excited. it felt so right. with the music part completed, i moved on to designing an image to capture the essence and the vibe of my native november. after that was done, all i needed to do was put it out there for y’all to find.

so here it is. i truly hope that you like it, and that it beckons you to a simpler, more grounded + grateful month.

click here to go to the playlist on spotify.

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may your november days be filled with simplicity, good food + drink, family + friends, and a natural, spiritual connection with all people + the earth.

light + love.

 

off the grid + with the family

yesterday (sunday) was my dad’s 70th birthday, so my brother, lina + i decided that to celebrate his big day we’d head out to the woods to do a little family camping. of course, everyone else + their mother decided that it would be the perfect weekend for camping as well. why, you ask? this little thing called “leaf season”. up here, in the north carolina mountains, the leaves are just beginning to hit their peak beauty. needless to say, the campground we chose to visit was paaaa-acked! but, it was also beautiful.

on friday afternoon, lina + i packed up our car with food, a tent, sleeping bags, blankets, and cozy clothes. we headed just northwest of asheville, about 45 minutes, to the fabulous little town called hot springs – more on hot springs another day. my parents had already beaten us to the campground and had pulled their rv into their site by the time we arrived, so we went to our space and scouted out the best spot for our tent. we were not within sight distance of my parents’ site, but it was an easy 2 minute walk we went over to say hi to them and invited them over to our site (which is where we all hung out the entire weekend actually). then, we got to work setting up camp. let the coziness commence!

the weekend consisted of pure, quality family time. and food. yummy camp food. of course we sat by the fire practically the whole time (thanks to my brother’s mad fire-making skills + lina’s mad maintaining-the-fire skills). i read some + did a little walking. i took lots and lots of photos. and we all chatted and generally just spent time together. we were totally off the grid, so the only thing we focused on was each other. sadly, my brother had to travel back + forth to asheville a few times, but he slept in his tent at our campsite as well.

the whole weekend was just amazing. something that i will not soon forget, and will cherish in my heart for the rest of my life i am sure. it was an extremely special weekend for me – just the opportunity to be in the middle of nature, outside the whole entire weekend, living simply, being wild, and focusing on the things that are really important. the things that are the most important to me in my life.

day one:

lina me camping

all packed up!

hot springs camping

entering into hot springs campground. woo hoo!

hot springs camping

a few campsites were right on the river (lucky dogs). however, ours ended up being just across from it, and it was pretty much perfect.

hot springs camping

scouting out the best spot for the tent.

hot springs camping tent

our tent!! soooo cozy + perfect – a birthday present to me from my love last year. 

lina me beer pbr

a celebratory pbr (beer) ‘cuts we got the tent all set up!

hot springs camping

the fire is lit! and it stayed lit literally the entire weekend. soon awesome.

hot springs camping bread

darkness fell, and it was time to make some traditional campfire food – both swedish + american, of course. here, lina is baking bread on a stick over the fire. i devoured some s’mores.

hot springs camping campfire

dad warmed his hands by the fire for hours. clearly something silly was happening at this point too. 

hot springs camping campfire

the family is all gathered. xoxo

day two:hot springs camping morning tent

laying in my tent, early in the morning. just gazing the trees + listening to the silence. so peaceful.

hot springs camping lina morning

ready for the day!

hot springs camping morning me tent

mornin’!

hot springs camping nick coffee

first things first: hot camp coffee from a percolator. (that’s my brother!)

hot springs camping

hot springs camping

the morning fire is all lit.

hot springs camping

a little morning dog walking. these two are just the cutest. 

hot springs camping family

breakfast preparations are underway. can’t wait!

hot springs camping pancakes

hot springs camping coffee

hot springs camping gunny

hot springs camping camp food

hot springs camping me

hot springs camping lina pancake

trees hot springs camping

hot springs camping reading

passing time by doing a little reading after a little walk into town. (those photos coming up tomorrow!)

hot springs camping trees

the sun is setting…

hot springs camping campfire

evening arrives again. this one will be a special one.

hot springs camping dad

happy birthday to my dad! 

hot springs camping campfire

my last little peek out from the tent as i tucked myself in.

hot springs camping campfire morning

when i woke in the morning and unzipped my tent, this is what i saw. sooooo cozy.

hot springs camping

i climbed out of my tent early and walked over to the river for a few moments of solitude. amazing.

hot springs camping campfire me

camp liz!

hot springs camping coffee

more camp coffee to get the morning started!

hot springs camping

hot springs camping campfire me nick cooking

brother-sister breakfast cooking team. eggs + bacon… coming up!

hot springs camping

our cozy home for the weekend.

hot springs camping campfire family

family time ♥

hope you had a good weekend, too, dear friends. check back over the next few days and i’ll share with you some photos of hot springs, the french broad river, + a little walking on the appalachian trail!

love + light. xx

the magic of sweden’s simplicity.

i’m not sure if this was my fourth year or my fifth year of having the joy of being part of the annual camp at skeppsgården in sweden, but it doesn’t really matter. every year is exactly the same and completely different all at the same time. it’s very much like my reynolds family beach week tradition that my family in the states has had for about 29 years now.

the camp at skeppsgården was started many many years ago by the methodist church in sweden, and it is a place available for people to come and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the swedish archipelago (islands by the sea) and the beauty of gathering with friends & family year after year. lina’s grandfathers, both methodist ministers like my grandfather, were a part of beginning this week-long tradition of renting the camp for their congregations and friends/family year ago, and the tradition and been passed on and carried down by lina’s parents and family.

skeppsgården, for lina, is that thing that has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember (she was only 6 weeks old when she at tented her first week in 1984). and while i’ve only been a part of it for 4 or 5 years, i feel that history and connection, and i can understand it very well, because of my family’s own traditions. so, now i have my family’s beach week tradition of 29 years and lina’s family’s camp tradition – both constants in my life.

it’s so important to have these places and people and times in our lives, i believe. they give us (me) a sense of grounding. a reminder of who we are – and that, even when life changes and moves on, there is a ritual, a sacred space, a certain, special spot that touches our soul like nothing else.

so, skeppsgården has become a place like that for me. my first year there i had no idea what was going on, what people were saying, or anything about anything. it was all so, well, foreign. then, there came a few years that i “worked” the camp, seeing as i was one of the ministers that was to led some of the group discussions/worship services. and this year, after being away from sweden for an entire year, it felt as if i had come home. this year, skeppsgården was my home. i now have my own traditions, feelings, memories, and special places that are tucked away in my heart. i know the people, i can speak the language. what i am saying is, this place is now a part of me. i am not just a participant or observer, but i belong.

and that, my friends, is amazing. i give thanks, once again, for the beauty of having two places, two countries that i call home.

now, it’s time for me to finally share with you some photos of this magical, beautiful place – where life is simple and easy and all about community. enjoy!

DSC_0342 skeppsgården water archipelago water sweden path camp teenagers dock summer archipelago canoeing archipelago sunset archipelago rowing archipelago oar archipelago lina rowing oar archipelago sunset archipelago our room archipelago trees sunshine skeppsgården house gula huset skeppsgården tree archipelago cabins archipelago stuga gula huset archipelago skeppsgården path archipelago archipelago archipelago archipelago flowers boat archipelago archipelago campfire sunset archipelago market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården maggie market skeppsgården anders market skeppsgården ego selfie me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden candle tips promenade sweden trees tips promenade tips promenade me sunset archipelago sweden ego me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full mooon sunset archipelago sweden me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full moon sunset archipelago sweden friends

here’s to wishing you a sacred place (or two) of your own, where you can just be who you are, where you can connect with your soul and others, and where you can feel at one with the nature that surround you.

peace and love.

hank bought a bus

now that i’m living in the usa again, i’m all about road trips. and camping. and the wild west. you know, embracing life by living it simply. i’ve been lucky enough to visit the western part of the states a few times, so i already know what’s out there… to a degree. i’ve sampled the west, you could say. i’ve actually driven to california twice – my honeymoon with lina was a cross-country trip!- and once to wyoming. of course, we stopped every place we could all along the way. i was yearning to see it all. and i still am. i want to see more.

don’t get me wrong, i truly love being an east coast girl. i love north carolina and the south, and i love the northeast too. but, the west, with those prairies and deserts and rugged mountains… oh, they take my breath away and make me feel like i am connected with something very wild and ancient and powerful.

so, i’m dreaming about when i get to head that way again. lina and I both are. we don’t have any plans yet, but we will at some point. however, more than just a quick trip out west, we’d love to take an extended trip one day and travel around the entire country for a year. that has always been a dream of ours, and who knows? one day it just may be something that lina and i do. get an rv. and live the simple life. meeting people all along the way for a whole year. writing and photographing and chronicling the entire journey. what a dream!

the other day, i ran across a guy who has done just that – well sort of. he wanted to take his master’s project for architecture school to a more practical level. so, he decided to find an old school bus and turn it into his home on wheels, a place that was comfortable, functional, and flexible. the finished product is amazing! and, then, it was time to travel!

so he and a friend headed out on a month long journey to live on the bus that he turned into a home, inspired by tiny house movement.

to read more about hank’s bus and his trip out west, check out his blog here. in the meantime, look at these amazing photos that he took (from his blog). they will inspire you, i promise.

900x313x130804_064242_JE_28102.jpg.pagespeed.ic.UrLlbUyMXk A view of the bus from near the back. bustour03.gif.pagespeed.ce.FAzPELYl8W Justin doing some photo editing on the road. Watching the kids play on the bus. 130731_202046_je_2650 Relaxing on the roof. Hank and Vince taking in the stunning coast of California. 130816_153554_je_3483 Hank and Ethan marvel at the sunset heading into Yosemite. 130823_165301_je_4124 The bus resting for the night in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Ethan, Hank and Sam on top of the bus at dusk.

now, let me ask you this: do we really need so much space in which to live? can’t we simplify? and wouldn’t it be amazing to spend time traveling and exploring and adventuring and growing and learning and taking in all that is around us? wouldn’t it be amazing to live the life that we dream of living?

so why don’t we just do it?! why not? we’ve only got one life, you know. let’s fill our days, even our present days, with the things (and i don’t mean material things) and people and moments that we love.

peace & love. xx