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sweden in the spring

hello lovelies! happy tuesday to you, wherever you are. unfortunately, as the beautiful swedish sun is shining, i find myself laying under a blanket on the sofa at home this afternoon feeling puny + yucky. it’s cozy, but not at all the day of writing and working at a café in the sunshine that i had planned.

oh well. a lot has been on my mind lately. about the present moment, and the direction i wish to go in, and what “my thing” is. looking for jobs, and searching any-and everywhere has been making me feel a little all over the place. and completely clogged up. however,  i feel as if i have had some amazing moments + times of reflection lately that seem to be tying a lot of things together. however, i am not rushing into anything. i feel like it’s time to be very grounded, very deliberate, and very focused in how i create the life that i feel called to.

so, perhaps my not feeling tip top is just nature’s way of giving me a day to let a bunch of stuff sink in.

in the meantime, spring is arriving in sweden. colors are beginning to creep back into our nordic world, the air is warming, and life is returning. lina and i have done our best to soak up the sunshine and the beauty over the past couple of days. we even made a quick trip to stockholm just to see the cherry trees in blossom. of course i’ve taken lots of photos and it’s time for me to share them with you!

so, here’s a little burst of spring for you… swedish style! enjoy!

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hope you are enjoying the changing of the seasons in your little corner of the world!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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an exciting weekend getaway on a floating city: cruising on the baltic sea

when you think of sweden, i’ll bet you don’t really think of cruises. i didn’t, until i lived here. i did understand that swedes are sea people, forest people, nature-loving people. most people live in the big cities of sweden, but the majority of sweden is untouched, natural, wild, and beautiful, including a long, wonderful coastline. and swedes find anyway that they can to get out and enjoy nature.

stockholm, the capital of sweden, actually lies on a bunch of little islands…it is an archipelago. and it’s just a short boat ride through + around the archipelago to the open sea. the baltic sea, which separates sweden and finland/estonia.

swedes love the water. they love seafood, love the sun + the waves. love the special life that is archipelago life. in fact, if you are a lucky swede, you live in the city and have a little “stuga” (cabin) in the archipelago by the sea, or out in the woods beside a lake. this is where swedes spend their summers and weekends. of course this is a dream of mine too. i want to have a place in a small little community on an archipelago island. a place where i can write and be and relax. where i can walk everywhere + have to use my little boat to get back to the mainland.

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however, in the meantime, since i don’t have one of these places, i have the opportunity to take  a 22 hour cruise across the baltic to get a little taste of the sea life. this is a very, very popular way to spend a weekend here in sweden. a chance to getaway, dance, drink, party, shop (tax free!), and feel the sea breeze. (not really the simple archipelago life, but is does get you out to sea. hehe).

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photo from here.

and that is exactly what i did this past weekend with 7 other family members + friends. we left uppsala, took the train down to the harbor in stockholm and boarded a huge cruise ship (pictured above!) for an overnight cruise to åland… a group of islands close to finland. we had a super, amazing blast. and i have a TON of photos to share with you!

running in uppsala… don’t want to miss our train!

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made it to stockholm in 40 minutes! now: taxi ride from the train station to the harbor.stockholm-taxi

unloading + getting our 1st view of our ship!!cruise-ship

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checked in + waiting to board. what to do? why, a group cheers to our trip, of course!cruise-cheers beer-lina-me

onboard + on the back deck to check out the view before leaving dockstockholm-harbor

best usie/groupie ever, i think. love these people!the-gang-ship-cruise

alone on the back deck for a moment… soaking in this beautiful shipback-deck

we set sail + ran as high as we could so we could get a good view and wave goodbye to stockholm
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back downstairs into the big lounge area for our first drinks! cheers (again!)!drinks-cruise-ship

when our rooms were ready, we headed to our cabins to change for dinnercruise-ship-cabins-hall

our cabin: 4 beds + a huge porthole window! perfect.cruise-ship-cabin

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darkness came + the party began!dance-cruise-ship dance-gang-ship

a few quiet (and super windy + cold) moments on the deck in the dark. eerie and peaceful all at the same time.
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i slept for 2 hours. hehe. so to wake myself up i headed out on deck in the cold and wind. it was an invigorating, inspiring, soul-filling moment. just me + the sea.baltic-sea morning-open-sea-baltic

then i was joined by my love and our friend. morning-ship-sea

after breakfast + some tax free shopping, i literally sat here in this panorama bar on the top floor of the deck for the entire rest of the trip. our group gathered here, recovering, resting, and just enjoying the view.panorama-bar-ship top-deck-archipelago archipelago-sweden

my brother-in-law invited me to have an appletini with him. a little end of the cruise celebration about an hour before we docked.me-and-jonas island-sweden birka-cruises

i’ve never done anything like this before, and it was so fun. intense, exhausting, and fuuuuun! of course, i couldn’t wait to get home and just throw myself on the couch. which is exactly what my love + i did. we ordered pizza, netflixed as long as we could stay awake, and then headed to bed to sleep for 11 hours.

i think i’m all cruise-shipped out for a while, but i’d definitely do it again! it’s great fun to spend a weekend with friends + family, just letting it all go. relaxing, dancing, eating. i loved it.

but about that archipelago cabin…. one day!

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stockholm is for lovers

for valentine’s day, my love and i took the 30 minute train ride from uppsala to stockholm. how amazing is it that we live so close to stockholm! it blows my mind, and i even had a chance to visit the capital city two times this past week.

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well, my lovely wife is a huge fan of musicals, as i am – but i think she may be a little bit crazier than me. so, last fall, after we decided/found out we’d be moving back to sweden from asheville, she suggested that we go and see a musical that starred her most favorite singer ever, helene sjöholm. co-starring with her would be peter jöback… a singer/broadway star that i am just in love with. like, i really want to be his best friend. truly. for some reason, i think we’d get along just splendidly. he and his husband live outside of stockholm, and i can just imagine lina + i hanging out with them. hehe. but, seriously.

so, we bought tickets last november for their valentine’s day matinee, feeling like it was forever until we’d get to see the play. but, time passes quickly + life changes + yesterday we spent the day in stockholm, with the highlight being seeing the musical “livet är en schlager” – no idea how to translate that phrase into english. it’s the story of a housewife who lives in a regular old neighborhood, where no one famous comes from or nothing worthy of talking about ever happens. well, she sends in a song that her friend/client wrote to a swedish/european musical competition, and suddenly finds herself a star. however, it is just assumed that she has written the song and she doesn’t really say anything against that. peter jöback plays her brother, a transgender drag queen, simply doing the best he/she can to be true to him/herself. the stories all intertwine, making it a beautiful story of dreams, acceptance, and being true to who you are.

however, the play was just part of our day in stockholm. we decided to hop the train in the morning and were in stockholm by 11 am. our first stop was a cozy, newly remodeled coffeehouse that we love. it was very important to begin our day with a fika, to warm us up + give us energy. of course.

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we ducked into a popular restaurant at just the right time. it was packed, and we had to wait quite a while for our lunch. but, it was so worth it… and it was perfect timing as we were done just in time to take a long, refreshing walk to the theatre. i mean, it was a loooong walk, but it was beautiful – and i was stuffed after all of the pizza i ate and the beer i drank. hehe. 7-vapiano 8-pizza-vapiano

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we finally reached the theatre, called cirkus, and found our seats. they were amazing. first row in the second level up – hard to explain. just know that this short girl had no problem seeing. the musical began, and we were both in joyous tears as the cast sang the first number.

now, for the not-so-great news. lina’s favorite singer, the star of the play, was sick. that’s right. her understudy filled in for her. it was such a disappointment to my love (and to me). my heart was breaking, though, for lina – who had waited so long to see her role model perform again. however, the chick who was the understudy had clearly literally studied helene sjöholm because her mannerisms and even the way that she sang seemed to mimic the certain traits that make helene sjöholm, helene sjöholm. so, that was super good.

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the musical as a whole took our breath away. we laughed. we cried. we clapped. we sang. i loved it. and i saw peter jöback perform! geez he’s so talented.

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afterwards, we walked forever back towards the train station a bit, stopping to have dinner at an american restaurant – which is not so famous in america anymore, but really popular here. we ate + drank + discussed the day’s events, but mostly the musical.

then, it was time to make our way to the train station and head home.

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it was a beautiful, fun day. only the first half of this wonderful valentine’s day weekend. an perfect balance between a day of being active and touristy and doing something special together, and a day spent at home cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and sipping on coffee. no matter where we are or what we do, i am filled with love + gratitude that i get to share this life with my love.

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hope you all had a wonderful valentine’s day – no matter if you were with someone, or spending the day loving yourself. in the end… it’s all really about beginning with loving ourselves + then spreading that love with any + everyone we meet.

 

onwards + upwards!

uppsala, stockholm, & a heatwave

when the wedding was over last week, we went back into tourist-mode. and, boy did we do it full-speed ahead! after a couple of days of visiting friends in different places all over norrköping, we took a little road trip to uppsala and stockholm from wednesday to friday – and it was perfect timing to do a bunch of walking and touring of two cities in the middle of a crazy, record-breaking heat wave in sweden! the heat outside wouldn’t be so bad, cause i’m so used to it in north carolina; but here, in sweden, there is no air conditioning inside anywhere. so, there is no escaping the heat – and it is stifling. buuuuut, we didn’t let any of it stop us at all! nope.

we were in uppsala, staying at lina’s brother & fiancee’s place for until friday morning, and it was so unbelievably cozy. i’m pretty sure the highlight for me was the picnic and bbq we had in the city park one night – soaking in the long, late-evening sunshine, spending time with family, roasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores. everything was magical, beautiful, and perfect.

friday, we jumped on the train and rode the 35 minutes to sotckholm – in a super stuffy train – and began a long and super gorgeous day in the capital city made up of islands. of course, we didn’t see everything (paige has got to come back to see some other great parts of stockholm), but we saw a lot – old town (gamla stan) is always one of my favorites. the buildings and alleys just take my breath away. imagining all of the people who have walked the cobblestone street for hundreds and hundreds of year… ahhh. be still my heart. so amazing.

we stayed in stockholm until after dinner, so we caught a late train home – completely satisfied, exhausted, and inspired. what a great little road trip – with my amazing girls, paige and my love.

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i just have to say, as i have before, that i am, once again, so very grateful for this life that i live. but, let me also say, that just because everything “seems” so great (though it is right now), it does not mean that i do not have times that are tough – we all do, and i have. but, all of the beauty and goodness and amazingness that surrounds me in my life, only reminds me every day to simply live in the moment – to be thankful for each day and to give thanks for all that is around me.

beauty, love, and even tough times – they all teach me the joy of being alive. and i work very hard to not take any day for granted. so this post, these photos, and these words that i have written – they are all in honor of living life – of grabbing on, letting go, and learning how we can live for today, giving thanks for every single second.

may your day be beautiful and filled with love & peace. xx

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staying true to my yellow & blue.

today is sweden’s national day – a national holiday that’s a bit like the 4th of july, but not quite so over-the-top/extreme. mother nature delivered a top notch day, perfect for doing what swedes like to do best: be outside, drink coffee, sit in parks, play, BBQ, be with family, and soak up the sun. it was super sunny all day long, and very, very warm. like i said… perfect.

we stayed home for a while, doing laundry & organizing stuff. but, then, we went to lina’s sister’s home outside of town to celebrate our youngest niece’s second birthday. it was a cozy and uncomplicated. just family, some birthday cake, a chance to catch up with each other, an evening bbq, and games/fun in the yard/pool. well, not me in the pool. the water in sweden doesn’t get bathtub warm like it does in nc. and i’m a cold water wuss.

but, instead of sharing pics of what i did to celebrate today, i thought i’d celebrate sweden’s national day with y’all by showing the two very different, but very much typical, classic sides of sweden: natural & urban. so, here come my photos from last weekend… part of it i spent in the woods and the other part i spent in the beautiful capital of sweden, stockholm.

sweden, today i celebrate you! you’re beautiful, natural, old, simple, and so inspiring. and i’m a lucky girl to be able to call you home. by the way, in case you ever wondered where my loyalty lays, here and now i confess that i am a lover of two countries and i call both of those countries home.

enjoying swedish nature at camp (with my kids from work).

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after leaving camp behind, i got on a train & headed to the big, beautiful urban city, stockholm.

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hope y’all have had a great week. it’s almost friday and the weekend is upon us! got any plans?!

peace & love.

american embassy

i never really believed it until now.

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well, by now, you all may know this…. but….

we’re moving to the states!!!! and now it is officially official.

monday we were in stockholm because my love had her visa interview at the american embassy. of course, we had no idea how that would go (same-sex issues. way more complicated than i have time to go into. and more information that you all want), so it was a bit nerve-racking. and pretty much everything was riding on this.

we made it to the embassy in time for the appointment, stood in a fairly long line outside, and then i hugged my love goodbye and sent her off into the embassy, with only the fate of the gods to leading us. i decided to take a long ass walk in the amazing sunshine, and before i knew it, my phone was ringing. my sweet love’s voice was on the other end telling me that she’d been approved! i had no idea she would find out right then and there. it felt amazing to know that that whole process was now over!

fast forward to  yesterday (tuesday) and my love got a text message saying that the embassy had sent her passport & visa back. already? after less that 24 hours!!

fast forward again to today and my love got another message. guess what?! she had a package to pick up at the post office (which is not a post office, but in the grocery store. another story.)! and yes, it was her passport with her visa in it! she now has the rights to live in the states for the next FIVE years! wow!!

so, it’s officially official. and i just wanted to share with you the amazing news. from here on out… it’s all about preparations for the big move! i’ll keep you posted, of course. wink wink. (go check out my love’s blog to read her take on the visa experience this week).

thank you, usa!! we can’t wait!

peace & love.