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a day of rest

hi friends. have you been recovering from your holiday fun? or are you still going strong in the middle of it? i, for one, have spent today resting + just being. catching up on some down time. when you have guests, everything always seems a bit busier, for you + for the guests. and, lina parents, lina, and i all decided last night that today would be a “stay at home and do nothing” kind of day. in fact, some of us never even got out of our pjs. we literally met each other at the dining table at various times throughout the day for meals + for an afternoon fika. other than that, we were in our separate rooms, doing our own things for the most part. and, i think it’s good when people are able to be alone, and yet together. when there’s no stress to entertain one another + everyone can just do whatever they feel like doing.


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during the day, i accomplished setting + planning + booking our spot for our big new year’s eve celebration. tidying a bit in the kitchen. fixing some things on my website. playing with some of my christmas gifts – an iPhone lens attachment (!!!) + my moleskin notebook. and a quick meet up with my brother for a beer or two at highland brewing, just to chat and hang out… cause that’s what we love to do. it was fabulous brother-sister time. something that we won’t have the chance to do very often… very soon. so,i cherished that hour and a half with my brother today.

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tonight, after got home from the beer, we ordered pizza online to be delivered to the apartment and blew away lina’s parents, who have never experienced that before. that was super fun. hehe. and now, where am i? well, i am still in my bed (minus the meal times and the beer with my bro). writing and blogging and just being. it feels quite perfect. i’d love to stream something on netflix right now, but i am afraid i just might fall asleep. hehe.

so, how do you like to spend your down time? and what have you done today?

light + love xoxo

sensory overload: easter celebrations!

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

you said the wait for a table was how long?

sunday morning i got a text from my brother: “do y’all have plans today? wanna do a late lunch… maybe pisgah. take my camera and try to learn a little about it. well that’s what i’m gonna do.”

it was gorgeous, and i mean gorgeous out. sunny. cool, yet warm. not a cloud in the sky. and the leaves are making their colorful premiere right around now. the perfect day to ride the 20-30 ride up the blue ridge parkway (now open again after the government crapdown) and have lunch at the famous pisgah inn. the only problem was that lina needed to study. poor, poor lina. but, i decided to join my brother anyway for what turned out to be a fantastic brother-sister afternoon.

i picked him up (then made him drive) and we headed up the little road to the parkway. we were a little unsure about the status of the leaves… they were looking a little brown instead of beautifully red, yellow and orange. however, the higher we went, the better it got. still, not as vibrant as some years. were we a few days too early? hard to tell.

soon, though, we rounded a bend on a tiny, windy road, and everything turned golden. the sun filtered through the trees, everything shone with brillant color, and i was left breathless.

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it was not long and we reached the pisgah mountain area. at the same time, it clicked in our brains that this had the makings of a very long afternoon – we realized that today it just might be packed with tourists and sunday lunch eaters and leaf lookers. what a day to choose. still, we drove on, determined to enjoy our lunch on the parkway.

well, the parking lot was indeed packed. like more packed than i’d ever seen it. people were waiting outside all around. we didn’t hesitate to add our name to the list, though, because we figured that with the amazing weather, the amazing views, and a bottle of beer/glass of wine in our hands, we be just fine. an hour and a half wait? no freaking problem.

we got our drinks, parked ourselves on the ground up against a rock, and just basked in the beauty of the day. my brother played with his super cool, new camera. and i snapped plenty of photos as well. shocking, i know.

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soon, our buzzer went off. way sooner than it was supposed to actually, and we went in to get our table. i was crossing my fingers for a table in the dining room with the views, and not the back room, but i didn’t get my hopes up. we followed the hostess to a four person table and sat down on the same side, facing the glorious mountains. i couldn’t believe our luck.

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about an hour and a half later, we had finished our yummy meal, laughed a lot, made up stories about the people sitting around us, and were ready to head back down the mountain. we didn’t head straight home, but took a tiny detour, as my brother showed me some places i’d never been before.

all in all, it was a perfect afternoon with my bro. well, i did miss my love (cause everything’s fun with her), but it was important and amazing to just be with the other most important person in my life (not including my parents, of course). totally worth the hour and a half (45 minute) wait.

thanks, little bro, for a top notch sunday afternoon! i loved every minute!

breathe, love, and spread peace.

sunday wanderlust.

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happy sunday, friends! i am feeling a little wanderlust-y today, but i’m not really going anywhere. and i don’t have any plans for any road trips any time soon, which is perhaps why i am feeling wanderlust-y. still, the desire to travel and my dreamy, contemplative nature, keep life interesting. it keeps me learning. and growing. and hoping. and planning. so, go ahead. dream away. make wishes. write a bucket list. wonder. contemplate, ponder. wander. slow down. go new places & explore new things – even if it’s just around the corner. an even on a regular sunday. because, isn’t that what life is really all about?!

peace & love & adventures.

*image from pinterest

i miss y’all.

hi! just sharing a quick & short hello late on a sunday night. i miss y’all. i haven’t blogged since last week, and it feels weird. but, there has been much more important stuff going on, as most of you understand. i’ll get back in the groove in a day or two. but, tonight, as this long, emotionally draining weekend comes to a close, i want to thank each of you who have written a comment, thought happy thoughts, sent a text, left a message, and sent warm hugs & love from all over the world to me & my amazing wife. your love is felt and your caring words are heard. i can honestly say there is much healing to be found in the midst of a caring community. so, a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to each of you. it means so much to me, to us, to know of all of the support, cheers, and positive energy that is swirling around us during this difficult time.

me

we have humbly received it all… and we send all of our love and peace right back to you! 

the one where you start to write about one thing & end up going in a whole different direction.

hello dear readers!

i have diligently posted something here every day lately, not that i have a goal or challenge to do that, but i just like to check in, provide a tidbit of inspiration, and leave a few thoughts. i truly, truly enjoy it. but i don’t feel like i’ve really written something meaningful (or long-winded, as some of you may say. hehe) in a while. or i feel like i have been super busy. and i have. and i haven’t had time. my desire to blog & write has been strong. but my motivation has not. now that i’m all cozy at home this sunday evening, and have had the perfect few hours to do nothing but write, all i feel is exhaustion. like i need and want to be a vegetable. and yet, thoughts swirl around in my head. but, when i write a sermon (which i did yesterday) and deliver it aloud (which i did today), it sucks the life out of me. it is amazing, but it drains me.

so, here’s what i’ve done instead. i have had a few glasses of wine. munched on nachos. listened to a beyonce documentary that my love watched. snuggled with the cat. talked with my parents – multiple times. had some tea. read a little. but, writing? i have done none.

sunday night at home.

sunday night at home. cozy, huh?

as i have been sitting here like a lump on a log, i’ve been able to process today a little. and i have to say that today at work was pretty cool. there were 6 women who were leading the service at the church, so it was definitely a girl power kinda day. and out of the 6 of us, we represented 5-6 generations. super rad, i think. i was inspired by the women leading through reading & prayers. they took their time, read with passion and emotion, so we could sit back & soak up the words. and then there were the 2 ladies who played the piano & organ… so talented & dedicated to what they do. and finally, my love. yes, my love was part of the service today. she sang 3 songs, which were so touching for me & for others, bringing some people to tears. her voice, the way she sings – with such confidence, emotion, and strength – i felt safer, more inspired, just listening to her.

and then there was me. the preacher girl.

i always wonder how people will take it when i preach and talk. the standing up in front of people part is easy, even for this introvert. it’s because it’s like talking about something i have written here, so it’s just natural. but, i always worry… do i make sense in what i say? am i saying it too much? is it relevant to life? can people relate? how does it help the one person who may be sitting there who is facing the death of a loved one? and let’s not even get into all the swedish screw-ups i fear that i make. it’s a really humbling job. i feel as if i am bearing my soul. and i am. and i hope that whatever message i am sending is one that is faithful to the truth of love – because that’s what all my sermons boil down to. that we are all loved, just as we are. that life is all about love. relationships. and hope.

today’s theme was especially challenging though. it wasn’t all fluffy & lovey-dovey. it was an in your face kind of theme. a “suck it up because life sucks sometimes” kinda theme. a message of of suffering, tests, and trials.

for those of who you are not christian, the season of lent began last wednesday, so today was the first sunday in lent. lent is a strange, dark, penitential, contemplative period of 40 days before easter (the highlight of christianity). it is a remembrance of the 40 days that jesus spent alone in the desert, faced with temptations. suffering. cold. alone. hot. in pain. hungry. and oh so tempted to leave his faith behind.

for those of us today who “celebrate” lent, it is an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the world’s mystics, gurus, & spiritual leaders by turning inward. a time to reflect on who we are and who we want to be.

today’s focus was on the fact that life is tough. really tough sometimes. and those tough times are inevitable. but, we learn who we are because of the tough times. we have a decision… are we gonna keep the faith & fight on, or are we gonna let the darkness swallow us up.

speaking of tough times, it was tough to stand today and be the one who verbally stated all the things that i am certain all, or most, of us think. like… why? why is life so tough? and can we really believe in a god that is loving and good when there is so much violence, war, injustice, poverty, hunger, and hopelessness in the world?

yes, i stood in front of all of these people today and said, “does God even really exist?”. as those words came out of my mouth and bounced off the tall, cream-colored  walls of the church, it was as if my words echoed in my head for about 5 minutes. i wondered if the walls would crumble. or if lightening would strike (not that i believe in that kind of stuff, but still). what minister questions the existence of god? and what minister does it out loud, in church?  well, this one does, apparently.

the walls did not crumble, no body walked out, and lightening did not strike. but, that is perhaps because i tried to explain myself. i admitted that i don’t have the answers to the tough questions… i just have more questions. but, i have hope. i see it in the stories handed down through the years about people who have been on their own, long, difficult journeys in life. people who have faced their demons and their fears, suffered through so much, and come out the other side more secure in who they are. stronger. the suffering and pain transformed them and made them more secure in themselves.

i myself have experienced how suffering & pain are transformative. just read my posts in my memoir that i am (slowly) writing on the blog, from death to peace. every bit of my story is about living through difficult times, so difficult that, as i examined myself and went through those dark periods, i had to let  something inside me die. but, because of that death, a new life… a life where i was more me, more sure, more aware, more alive, was waiting on the other side.

we see this hope and transformation in nature too.

a butterfly is transformed from an ugly, little caterpillar to something beautiful & delicate. but that doesn’t happen without a period of going within its cocoon. and the trees of the earth. the turn brown, die, and fall to the ground. the trees are left naked, twisted, and bare. and yet, one day, we see tiny little buds appear. and hope returns. and then, the leaves appear. those beautiful bright green leaves that dance in the wind.

from suffering & death comes life. from our struggles & our pain, we become new people.

so, yes, all the crap exists. yes, i still question where god is when the shit hits the fan. yes, i feel alone. abandoned. and scared. and no, thank you. i do not want to willingly go through difficult times. i do not always want to look inward & see the dingy reflection of myself staring back at me, warts & all.

but, i will.

and i will focus on it for the next 40 days. i will endure these days of introspection. i will honestly try to see where i have been, where i am, and where i hope to go. and i will be faithful. faithful to myself. to being who i am made to be. to chasing my dreams and to living life to the fullest. keeping hope alive, even when i feel as if i am left out in the desert. all alone.

well, i guess i needed to get all that out. how’s that for getting some writing done? hehe.

i send you peace in the midst of your pain.