The Suitcase

A wise person once said you can only fit so much into a suitcase.  Or something along those lines.

My suitcase is packed tight.  It’s pretty organized.  Compartmentalized.  A place for everything I want and need.  Some things are on top, for quick, frequent and easy access.

Other things are stowed securely and tucked down where I know it will not be lost… I know it’s there. And that is good.

‘All that you can’t leave behind.’



Everyday there is more light and the winter tunnel is shorter.  Looking around, everything in nature is still asleep. Dormant.  In hibernation.

Bare branches and faded lawns.

Chilly piercing mornings that nudge me back under my covers.

Congealed energy.

But the days are growing longer. And I do see the light, off in the distance a little bit.

This is January.


When I set the table Sunday evening there was a frozen lasagna in the oven just 10 minutes from the timer to buzz. I noticed the familiar scene. The table.  Nothing fancy.  The basics, but somehow, extra special.

A private label brand, frozen lasagna.  On the side, a warmed up $1.00 loaf of store brand deli French bread (to go with the Italian dish…) that I’d pre-sliced and brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with just a hint of garlic salt…  and then, artfully, I prepared a head of iceberg lettuce, cutting  it into lovely slices and splayed on an extra plate.  On top of the lettuce, some frozen corn and English peas (rinsed and mostly thawed) and a drizzle of ranch dressing swirled in a ring around them.  Sprinkled with some pepper, for that special touch.
The food was ordinary.  But, the meal and the setting and the presentation was just enough to make the experience of sitting down to eat dinner a little extra special.

Add a few tea lights on the table, and suddenly it’s an occasion.

I like to think that my step mom Britt is my inspiration making a simple dinner into a kind of ritual, something of honor.

Our evenings may not look like Downton Abbey dinner time but we do gather together and this I hope matters.


“I can now see R-Rated movies and buy games rated M for Mature.”
“Don’t take any photos, Mom. Be in the moment.”
“I had an epiphany today. Instead of trying to figure out what to pick as a major in college, I think about my future in terms of how I want to make a difference in the world. What problems do I want to help solve?”
“My hair is almost long enough to pull into a topknot.”
“This year my resolution is to drink at least two full quarts of water every day.”

>>When your brother and mom sing the Happy Birthday Song and you try not to show you kinda like it.

>> The cool Gandalf the Grey banner on the chocolate birthday cake with buttercream icing.

>>  When your mom sneaks a photo of your new head set…. and you catch her taking the picture and order her to not post it on social media.  Reminding her, “just be in the moment, Mom.”


It worked!

Wooziness aside, I’ve accomplished more on my to-do list in the last 6 hours than in the last 6 days. I knew I’d outwit myself – I’m so easily outwitted by me.  If the command was to procrastinate, I’d do the complete opposite.  Now I’m going to have to come up with another word for this year.  Or, no…. I am not going to come up with a new word for this year.

There is so much satisfaction in getting things done.  Even better, is that most of the day I felt nearly almost completely fine, except for some random coughs here and there.

For my own enjoyment, here is the lion’s share of today’s goals met:

  • The annual culling of the clothes.  Done.  After much needed sorting and shedding of socks, shirts and other garments, I’ve filled a large box of articles for donation and the rest are in the trash.  I don’t think Goodwill is interested in holey tights or single socks without mates.
  • Christmas is packed away for the next 11 months. Now the house feels fresh and new, bright and airy.
  • The fridge.  All the old leftovers and expired things are now discarded and I can see the light again. The emptied shelves will soon be filled with wholesome fresh goodness as a clean break from all the holiday snacks and sweets.  The future is bright.  In the fridge, the light is.
  • I’ve written three thank you notes to three different aunts.
  • At various points there were short creativity breaks.  More on that later.
  • Two boxes were prepared for shipping tomorrow.

All this and the sun is still up.

Now I just need to sit and recharge for round two.


Happy New Year!

Today is January 3.  Three days into the new year, but it’s like New Year’s Day for me.  That’s how it goes when the new year is pataphysically delayed on account of a sniffly, sneezing, fevery, coughing thing that hits one on the last year of 2015. I’m already three days behind schedule.  Yay, me!  I am starting off lagged behind trying to catch up.

Luckily,  I picked a word for 2016.  A resolution word.  I’ve decided to make 2016 the year of Procrastination!  Procrastination is my word, my goal to attain.  Let’s do this, 2016!  Later.




  1. Mailed my Christmas cards today.  The day before Christmas.  I declare, it’s before Christmas so it counts.
  2. I did mix up a batch of sugar cookie dough two days ago.  It’s in the fridge, chilling.  Waiting.  Waiting for me.  Waiting for me to make the traditional batch of sugar cookie Christmas tree cutouts with green icing and colorful sprinkles.
  3. I still have to go to the store and get colorful cookie sprinkles…
  4. Nope.  I did not make a gingerbread house this year.  (Tough choice… bake gingerbread house, or sleep.)
  5. Also, the boys’ advent calendars didn’t get hung up until December 13…. I have forgiven myself.
  6. Yep, I still have to go to the store and finish some Christmas gift shopping.
    • my brother in law
    • my nephew
    • that one last thing for my older son
  7. I am stressing a little bit about “getting everything done” but only a little.  Like, a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super freak out stressed out.
  8. This morning I ate a donut.  It was good.  Maple glazed, my favorite.  My boss brought it to me – she knows maple glazed is my favorite.  It had red and green sprinkles on it.
  9. My current favorite Christmas album is The Carpenters “A Christmas Portrait” album.
  10. One of my favorite Christmas songs is Karen Carpenter’s version of Home For the Holidays.

9. It’s a texture thing.  I just don’t enjoy raisins baked into things, like bread, cinnamon rolls, etc…

10. Episode 7, check.

Give me a break

I might just give myself permission to not meet my own expectations tonight and instead of baking and making and fixing and prancing and donning and blixting, I’ll do the shimmy and not do a darn thing. Seems like I’ve had the pedal floored since thanksgiving and I need a break. 

Last night I finished up some gifting projects for my office coworkers. I love making stuff and staying up late isn’t so bad (it’s the getting up in the morning the next day that gets me.)   While I baked and maked and wrapped and taped,I listened to this for 2 hours over and over on repeat.

It never got old.


Fake-ah Christmas tree

Seriously want this to be my next artificial tree. FEJKA.  I love the name!  The spelling is pronounced “fake-ah” in Swedish.  Like, fake. With an ‘a’ at the end.  But I love how this tree in all its simplicity looks perfectly passable for a real fir tree, or pine?… or maybe it’s a spruce?  Christmas tree, anyway!


Oh Happy (early) Holidays!

I love presents.
I love finding, wrapping, and giving presents.

And I love getting presents!

I love the “this made me think of you, I thought you’d like it” thing!

I love the hinting and the surprising. I love the directness, too – “I really really like this thing – it would make a great present!”

So when a package arrives full of presents, it is my favorite time ever!

Like yesterday afternoon. I package from pappa arrived!

Early Christmas
Inside, a paper sack from the regional history museum. Filled with…

Early Christmas

Early Christmas
Oh! It says ‘Open before Christmas’ What could it be???!!!

Early Christmas
Hurray!!! I love this! I’ve wished for this book of simple Swedish Christmas crafts since I first saw the announcement of its launch.

Early Christmas
The insides of the front and back pages are covered with these awesome line drawings.

Early Christmas
The photos are so funa nd inspiring. All I want to do now is make Christmas crafts all day.

Early Christmas
Just my cup of tea. Or bottle of wine…. To make crafty things that are meant to be gifts to give. Perfect circle!

Early Christmas
I love this star. I love the simplicity.

Early Christmas
And this Christmas edition of a popular magazine. More holiday goo-goo-eyeing!

Early Christmas
A page filled with ‘classic’ Christmas things. Heart. Heart. Heart.

Early Christmas
Yepp — gonna have to make some of these!

You can see there were a couple of Christmas-y small trays, too. I use these melamine trays a lot, and I love that I now have some red ones with Christmas designs.
Perfect for fika. When are you coming over for coffee and cookies?