// week twenty four // the first peek at swedish summer

it’s monday again! and, we’ve got a short week here in sweden. friday is midsummer’s eve, so everyone will be off from work + dancing around maypoles, drinking like fish, and worshipping the sun, celebrating her longest day of the year. it’s definitely a midsummer night’s dream – and the night where the sun never really goes to bed. i’m not sure what our plans are yet (and it looks like it may rain… booooo!), but you can be sure we’ll be outside come rain or shine!

last week, though, summer finally arrived! there were days of bright sunshine, and that meant that we took advantage of every chance we could to soak it all up. i dare say that my love + i even got a little sun coloring on our skin. it felt soooooo good. all of that vitamin d. my energy level was high, my spirit was high, everyone walked around on a great big sunshine high.

so, here’s what my week looked like up here in the land of the midnight sun, where the nordic summer takes your breath away…

a little beer bottling adventure for two chicks brewing (read more about that –> here)

beer bottles two chicks brewing

the cat is sleeping all the time. it got that hot in our apartment. zola-sleeping-sunshine
strolling through our secret gardensecret-garden
no socks!! green-shoes-flowers
staying grounded + inspired (mercury retrograde…. gaaah!)
…which is necessary, when everything falls off of your bike + a BBQ sauce jar breaks + explodes everywhere in the middle of a square in the middle of town.bike-disaster
more meditating. this time in the park, on a bench. because it was hooooot + beautiful outside.me-meditate-park-bench
purple pom pom flowers!purple-flower
a skype fika date with my friend in atlanta!skype-fika-date
no jacket + sandals! happy friday to me! me-sandals-walking
beer. fries. sunshine. my love. meeting my love after work.beer-fries-outside-churchill-arms
sunshine makes us silly + giddysunshine-my-love-fun
the first BBQ of the year!bbq-grill-home
grilling out with friends + familybbq-picnic-outside-friends-uppsala
cheers to the perfect summer eveningbeer-outside-foam
sunset at 11pm. i love this so freaking much.sunset-11-pm
urban vibes in downtown uppsalaurban-shoes-wire-downtown-uppsala
my favorite block in the whole city: svartbäcksgatanuppsala-svartbacksgatan
the river + the cathedraluppsala-river
everyone’s loving ituppsala-park
river loveuppsala-river-industrial
silos in the industrial part of townsilos-industrial-uppsala

i don’t really have any photos from sunday, but i can share with you what i did: i blogged in the morning and then the rest of the day my love + i completed season three of “orange is the new black”. it rained all day, so it was a pretty near perfect ending to the day + the week.

here’s to sending you lots of love + light as you begin your new week!

onwards + upwards!

ten on ten :: june 2015

another month is gone, and we are practically halfway through 2015. that blows my freaking mind. it’s gonna be great to have this little chronicle of one day of regular life from every month, so i can look back + see how things have (or have not) changed. hopefully, it’s fun for you, too, to see little snippets of my life.

my ten on ten for june just happened to fall on one of the first beautiful spring days we’ve had this year. yes, spring + early summer are just arriving here in sweden, which is not completely normal.

but, yesterday was great. so i was outside quite a bit. but, other than that, it was a really regular kind of day. those are good + exciting as well, you know. how great it is when we start to see the extraordinary even in the ordinary?! something i really, really try to do.

anyway, here’s my day. in 10 shots!

breakfast: swedish yogurt is to die for


a little meditation time on the floor: my pillow time
i didn’t mean to, but suddenly i found myself organizing the clothes in my closet. random burst of cleaning, i guess.closet-organize
time to work! emails, applications, conversations, planning, job-hunting, blogging, etc. and a cat, of course.work-zola-computer
coffee break!coffee-me
time to leave + head downtown to meet my love. and i didn’t need socks!!
fresh juices with my love in the sun + by the river
a little window shopping: found a perfume that i want badly. it would be my summer scent. but, i didn’t buy it. maybe later… hehe.
back home with a beer in the sunshine in our apartment’s little backyardbeer-backyard-sunshine
11 pm and the sun is setting.  so beautiful. so peaceful.sunset-uppsala

i really hope that your week is going well… wishing you lots of extraordinary ordinary moments! it’s almost weekend, lovelies!

onwards + upwards! xoxo


40 | june 2015 : a playlist for long days of love + laughter

for me, this june is going to be filled with people and love and long days. friends from all around the world are visiting us, we are celebrating a wedding in the family, and it just feels like it’s the perfect time to celebrate and have a month long love fest. so, i wanted to create a playlist that reflects just that. great times, with great people, celebrating great love.

in addition to that, in sweden, we come to the high point of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. it’s the time of year when the days just seem to last forever, the sun barely sets, and it makes for the perfect setting to celebrate late into the day.

it is the time of year when the sun is the center of our existence in the northern hemisphere. these are days meant to be spent outside, soaking up the light that fills the sky, letting the sun fill our souls with warmth and magic and power. it’s a month to celebrate life. to feel alive. to let the magic of the sun inspire and empower us.

and, while i will be celebrating and loving and living with my swedish family as summer begins, i will be missing the beginnings of summer with my family in the states. but, that’s how it rolls in this crazy, international life that i live.  so, my photo for the playlist is one i captured last june at the beach in north carolina with my family. celebrating the tradition of setting off our own fireworks, late at night, right on the beach. a tradition that spans over 25 years.

since i’ll be missing that tradition in my life this year, which hurts my heart, i will look to the present day and all of the love + laughter + joy that surround me in the present moment. i will create new traditions and follow some of the old, ancient swedish summer traditions as well. even in the midst of uncertainty and regular life, i will celebrate that life is filled  love and peace. and, there is no better month to celebrate all of the love and people and life that exists than the month of june.


whether it is picnics, bonfires, late night walks, bbqs, days by the water, dances around a midsummer pole, lazy days on blankets in the grass, or fireworks at night,  june is a month to share with others. to let the sunshine inspire and enliven our souls. it’s a time to celebrate love + life.

i hope that this playlist brings you feelings warmth + bliss. i hope it makes you feel like dancing one minute + laying in the sun the next.i hope it inspires you to remember the ones you love + brings you laughter + joy. more than anything, though, i hope that your june days are filled with peace and music and a simple love for everyday life, for just being alive.

so, go ahead. click on the photo above and follow the link to the playlist on spotify. and celebrate your life!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

flowers trees blue sky

40 | may 2015: the sky is smiling (a playlist!)


oh, may! it is the prettiest month of the year in sweden, i do believe. blue skies. sunshine. flowers. warm weather. it is the perfect month to be outside as much as possible. and that’s pretty easy to do, considering that the sun sets later and later. by the end of the month, it’ll still be light at 11pm.

it’s a month that makes me feel alive. and in love – even if june is usually the month reserved for lovers. for me, may has not always been an easy month, but i think that is what makes it all the more sweeter. my love was very, life-threateningly sick for 2 mays in the past. and, so, now, we celebrate life + love + health every may. all month long, we focus on living life to the fullest. being in love with each other. soaking up the simple moments. and enjoying the beauty of the earth during the late spring.

so, all of that was my inspiration for this month’s playlist. it’s a playlist made for lovers + gardens. sunshine + blue skies. it’s all about laughing + being together. taking it easy, dancing, rejoicing. and squeezing every ounce of beauty + happiness out of every single moment.

so, go ahead. click on the photo below and follow the link to the playlist on spotify.

go outside, twirl in the sunshine, smile, give away free hugs, hava a picnic, gaze at the clouds, and remember that life is precious. let’s make the most of every single minute. there’s no time to waste!


happy may!

onwards + upwards! xx

you can also click here to get the playlist! 


blue skies + worshipping the sun

you know, spring in sweden is a little bit all over the place. rain, snow, and sometimes sunshine. – i am sure many of you experience the same where you live.  it’s not usually that warm, but when that beautiful sunshine shows her face, then her rays make even 5 degrees C/45 degrees F feel warm + nice. i’ve said this before, but the sun in sweden is something very special.

when the sun shines in the spring, it’s time to get outside and soak it up. the dark days are over, the cold has left us behind, the light has begun it’s return, the days are getting so much longer, and i (along with every other swede) become a sun worshipper. i literally stand and face the sun. i close my eyes… meditating, soaking in, breathing deeply, living in that very moment.

so, the other morning, after days and days of clouds, rain, and snow, when it was so beautiful, i decided to take a long walk for my meditation time. i explored the neighborhood behind ours, passing apartment buildings, houses, and cozy, little yards + gardens. the sun was warm, the breeze was cool, people were  out + about, and i simply gave thanks for the joy of walking and discovering and being.

i thought i’d share with you a little snippet of the amazing blue swedish skies that i have seen a little of this week. the blue skies make me feel so alive. i hope these photos do the same for you in a tiny, little way. enjoy!

sunshine-roof-window neighborhood easter-tree-square blue-skies square-tree-feathers sunshine-walk tree-buds

happy easter weekend, everyone. here in sweden, everyone has a little holiday from friday until monday. we are taking the train down to norrköping to visit lina’s family for a few days. but, we will be back home again on sunday, to enjoy the last little bit of the holiday here. so, it’s all about relaxing + enjoying for the next 4 days. wishing you a fabulous few days! and, if the sun shines wherever you are, turn your head up to her, close you eyes, and give a little thanks for the warmth + life that she brings. love + light to you all!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

celebrating summer

this weekend is the first day of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere. *doing a little happy dance* the longest day of the year is upon us – a day filled with light (and hopefully sunshine!). a day where we celebrate the joy of the warmth, glow, and life that the sun brings us. it’s the kick-off of the season of relaxation, joy, free-spiritedness, laziness, and slowing down. i love this season, and everything that goes with it – especially the chance to be outside and enjoy moment after moment with friends and family. we throw caution to the wind, act just a little bit crazier and bolder, and remember the importance to balance our lives. for just a little while, we may set aside our schedules and routines to participate in the act of just being and living.

almost all of the past 4 or 5 years i have spent in sweden during the summer soltise, otherwise known as midsummer. i’ve spent the day celebrating a traditional midsummer celebration with traditional midsummer activities filling our day, such as gathering flowers, making crowns from those flowers, dancing and singing around the midsummer pole, eating strawberries, and staying up as late as the sun = practically all night because the sun doesn’t really set before it begins to rise again.

i’m going to miss those celebrations this year. but, we will be celebrating in the best american way that i know possible – for this first weekend of summer, my family (most of us) will gather at atlantic beach for our annual reynolds family beach week! it’s a crazy, hilarious, relaxing week filled with sun, sand, and surf. all we do is eat, drink, swim, chat, sit, sip, and laugh – a lot. so, if i can’t be in sweden celebrating midsummer, then arriving at the beach to celebrate and begin our 30th year of the reynolds family beach week is exactly how i want to spend the weekend.

in honor of the sun, at some point in the next few days, i will turn my face toward the big, golden ball in the sky and offer up my own prayers of praise and thanksgiving. i will soak up all of that energy and light, and harness it, using it to continue to work to make my dreams come true. on the first day of summer i will pause to reflect on the beauty and amazingness that the light brings to our life. and i will laugh, and dance, and love.

my summer gift to you is this little collection of photos from my american & swedish summers past, and a few favorite summer quotes to go along. slow down, read them, and receive these summer vibes – from me to you!

lina ocean


my love on a bike

“I fell for her in summer, my lovely summer girl,
From summer she is made, my lovely summer girl,
I’d love to spend a winter with my lovely summer girl,
But I’m never warm enough for my lovely summer girl,
It’s summer when she smiles, I’m laughing like a child,
It’s the summer of our lives; we’ll contain it for a while
She holds the heat, the breeze of summer in the circle of her hand
I’d be happy with this summer if it’s all we ever had.”
― Maggie StiefvaterShiver



ego me tree hugger

“summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
― Deb CalettiHoney, Baby, Sweetheart

relaxing washington square park


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John LubbockThe Use Of Life


“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

flowers summer


“Sweet, sweet burn of sun and summer wind, and you my friend, my new fun thing, my summer fling.”
― k.d. lang

wedge beer outside summer


“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
― John KeatsBright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne

midsummer pole dance

beach family

“Summer afternoon – to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James

rooftop empire NYC

central park nyc

“New York is strange in the summer. Life goes on as usual but it’s not, it’s like everyone is just pretending, as if everyone has been cast as the star in a movie about their life, so they’re one step removed from it. And then in September it all gets normal again.”
― Peter CameronSomeday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

happy summer! soak it up! xx

goodbye, weekly sensory overload.

well, folks. i think it’s time to retire the ole sensory overload title. i’m not retiring the category, though. so, you can always click on the tab at the top of the page that says “sensory overload” and be taken to all posts where i share how life makes my senses go crazy.

you see, i feel that i have gotten into some kind of a rut with my blog by having specific things to post on specific days. that’s not what this blog is all about – and to try to fit a circle into a square hole just doesn’t work. this blog is a spontaneous, whatever inspires me in the moment, daily life blog. like a journal. so, i am not setting any specific days for anything – expect for wednesdays, but wednesdays of wisdom will continue throughout my dalai lama series. at the end of that series in june, i will reevaluate that as well.

so, to sum up, i’m going back to posting whenever and wherever i feel like it! and that feels amazing. i know that people say that bloggers should have a blogging editorial calendar with stuff all planned out for about 3 months. that sounds great. i even kinda tried it. but it just does not cut it for this blog. that is for my fika blog – something that is a bit more professional and not a daily life kinda place.

anyway, i have a lot of stuff to share with you this week from the past week, so this will look like all of my previous sensory overload posts. but, after this, it’ll be all about just posting from day to day, whatever inspires me. it’ll be more like sensory overload as it happens – which, if i think about it, is even more awesome. so, posts will be more frequent, more focused, and more exciting!

here we go!

clouds pink tree green tree blue sky purple flowers feet road and spring trees green and blue gunni and spooky fika group zola cozy balcony bella and me ego sunshine legs beer morning coffee car snack balcony reading coffee sermon balcony video sermon parkway lina video us video parkway

as you can see, it was a week filled with some stunning nature, beautiful moments with people and pets, cozy and quiet moments of peace, and an opportunity for lina and i to have some contact with the church i worked at in sweden – they asked me to say a few words on their theme for sunday. so, lina prepared the camera and i drove us up on the blue ridge parkway, and we video-taped me talking (in swedish) to the congregation. they played it yesterday morning in church. it was so much fun to send it to them – though the sending part was an insane, long process! hehe.

over here in our little home, this week is gonna be a bit crazy. my love has a test today, then two days for study, then 4 finals between thursday & next tuesday. so, she’ll be out of commission for a week and a half. i’ve got some writing, job applying, my book club, and some planning to do for our NYC trip in a few weeks!

happy monday, dear readers! xx

sensory overload: easter celebrations!


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.


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.

IMG_1466 DSC_0371


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!

easter eggs

easter sunday started off with a misty, mysterious mountain fog , which soon burned off and revealed a glorious day of warmth and abundant sunshine.


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.



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.


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.

biltmore estate entrance spring

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

biltmore estate biltmore gardens biltmore gardens mountains biltmore dogwood greenhouse conservatory my love me photography tulips red flower orange field of flowers tulip garden lina tulips liz tulips sit liz me ego flowers feet biltmore swannanoa river biltmore yellow flowers spring lone tree biltmore mountains

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. 

sensory overload. part 14.

think spring!! amazingly, mother nature decided that she’d show us a taste of late spring/early summer up here in the north carolina mountains last week. trees have begun blooming, grass is getting greener, and the temperatures were pretty damn near perfect. and i enjoyed every single second of it…. from eating meals outside to taking long walks with my brother’s new dog (while my brother was at work). i definitely spent a lot of time outdoors. so, this week’s photos reflect a lot of nature and a lot of urban walks. enjoy!

DSC_0307 IMG_0754 IMG_0782 IMG_0795 IMG_0800 IMG_0806 IMG_0826 IMG_0835 IMG_0843 IMG_0853 IMG_0855 IMG_0857 IMG_0866 IMG_0890 IMG_0892 IMG_0893 IMG_0896 IMG_0903 IMG_0910 IMG_0919 IMG_0926 IMG_0966 IMG_0990 IMG_0997 DSC_0343

a massive case of spring fever has taken hold in our home! of course, as i write this it is cold and rainy outside, with not much hope of some warmth for the next few days. oh well… spring in the mountains. and april showers bring may flowers, right?!

happy week, my friends! peace and love. xx

sensory overload. part 10.

hi folks! i don’t have much time to write today, so i’ll be brief. the past week was quite fantastic with lent beginning and our first european visitors coming to town! they’re still here now = why i don’t have much time to write. i’m spending all my time having too much fun. so, i’ll just give you a post of lots of photos of moments that overwhelmed me and made my soul sing. hope you enjoy!

IMG_9753 IMG_9763 IMG_9776 IMG_9782 IMG_9802 DSC_0043 DSC_0084 IMG_9834 IMG_9853 IMG_9864 IMG_9898 IMG_9932 IMG_9934 IMG_9938 IMG_9942 IMG_9952 IMG_9948

wishing you a beautiful week!

peace & love. xx