Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We're back!

Hej vänner! (Hi friends!)
We've made it home from our WONDERFUL trip to Sweden. In a nutshell, it was more than I could have ever expected. The stories I've heard about Sweden for many years finally came to life - the culture, landscape, traditions and more.

I was especially moved by the warm welcoming by family. In total, we were able to meet up with about 30 relatives in my family. 30 relatives! And as Bea's granddaughter and Elisabeth's great granddaughter, we received the royal treatment. They were also very fond of my Swedish boyfriend - they said I have good taste in men :)

We've promised them all a return visit and have encouraged them to visit Seattle so we can give them the same warm welcome.

Warning: Many more Sweden posts to come! Possibly on the verge of obsessive. You have been warned.

Missed you all!

P.S. The photo is from fika at the family house in Bjärme where my great grandma was born. So, so amazing.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Thank God It's Friday Before Vacation! In honor of my vacation (starting tomorrow!), two letters.

Dear Sweden,
Ever since I was a little girl, walking around in my clogs and braids, eating my Swedish flat bread, I've wanted to visit you. You were always this faraway, magical land that my Grandma spoke so fondly of - always trying to instill Swedish tradition into the lives of her grandchildren.

I have very high expectations. A city built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, also referred to as the Venice of the North. Baby moose farms. Family. Amazing architecture and chic design. One of the greenest countries in the world (Straubs, you would be in recycling heaven!). You gave us clogs, the nobel prize, IKEA, H&M, beautiful people and the modern zipper. How could you disappoint? Not to mention, I'll be tugging along my own personal translater :)

Can't wait to see you!

Dear Bloggy Blog,
Please don't hate me for ignoring you for the next couple weeks. I might be able to post here and there (via Joe's new iPad2!), but I'll be out and about with my new friend, Sweden. Don't you worry, once I get back, I'll be posting like mad about Sweden. Much like post-road trip. You'll love it.


Almost there

After challenges galore on a project at work, we are nearing the finish line. Well, the finish line of this sprint race. There will be another sprint race shortly. Lucky for me, I won't be here to run it. But I'll be cheering you all on from the sidelines though! Oh, the glory of vacation.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The chills

Taking a tangent from my usual light-hearted posts to share something that I think is very powerful. And yes, a little morbid. I recently came across a blog of a dying man. His writing about facing death is so sincere and thought-provoking that I can't help but read more. It would be hard not to be inspired or moved by his grace.

But now he passed and there will be no more to read. Before dying, he drafted a post with instructions to his family to post after he died. His last post. It is incredible. It seems weird to read the words of a man who is gone. His blog has exploded in popularity since - isn't that always the case? Once you're gone, you become famous. It doesn't surprise me though; I think we're all a little curious about the unknown. The unknown being death.

Here's my favorite snippet from his last post:

A wondrous place
The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don't look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same.

What is true is that I loved them. Lauren and Marina, as you mature and become yourselves over the years, know that I loved you and did my best to be a good father.

Airdrie, you were my best friend and my closest connection. I don't know what we'd have been like without each other, but I think the world would be a poorer place. I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.

What amazing last words. Each time I read them, I get the chills.

(Other interesting posts if you have the same morbid curiosity as I did: His discovery of cancer in 2007, the terminal prognosis, writing in the face of death and his last year.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brave Horse Tavern

On Sunday night, Joe and I met Gary and Kate for drinks at Tom Douglas' new place, Brave Horse Tavern. This is his first venture in a more casual atmosphere and not surprisingly, he aced it. The menu of local craft beers and tasty treats is enough to keep you coming back for more. We shared the two pretzels with pimento cheese, sour cream & crispy onion and peanut butter and bacon spreads - they were all delicious! Next time I'd like the try the smokey BBQ brisket dip! Yum.

pic/glkaiser's flickr

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Carli

With my trip right around the corner, I'm starting to plan out what to pack. I want to be comfy, but cute. (Don't we all?) And since the weather is a little unpredictable - 71 degrees today in Stockholm, but 56 degrees in just a few days - how do I find the right mix?

Well, I decided that there one staple missing from my closet that would also be a critical piece for the trip: The work-appropriate rain jacket. A little "dressy" and less sporty, but still functional. I've been on the search for years, but could never quite commit to one. I wanted something more than a shell like I have, but also with a little more lining to keep me warm n' toasty. So after a quest to REI on Sunday evening, I found it. The North Face Carli jacket. You can't tell from the photo, but it's fitted and has a nice textured pattern. But they didn't have my size! Doesn't that always happen?

Lucky for me, they had one on Backcountry. Not in navy, my go-to color, so I went for black. If you didn't know already, Backcountry has free 2 day shipping and no tax. Bomb.com. Even better, I started a live chat with a Backcountry representative to triple-check on the navy (which they still didn't have) and on a whim decided to ask for a discount code and he gave me 10% off! Now my bank account is happy. My closet is happy. And Erika on vacation in unpredictable weather is happy. Perfect.

P.S. Only 5 days until Sweden!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Quote for Mom

Mom and I being silly on our road trip to Cali

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."

-Washington Irving

This quote is a little deep, but it totally struck a chord with me. My Mom is literally always there for me. To listen to my "woes", to celebrate my successes or to (accidentally) talk to into the wee hours of the night. At times, I feel like she is one of the only people that I can talk to and really get it all out. Good days, bad days - she's always there.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You're the best!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Little Things

There are so many little things that make me happy. Too often, I don't really think about how great, yet simple everyday activities really are. One of the things that make me happy is the Just Little Things blog. I read through each and every single post and I can't believe how many I actually agree with! It's like she reads my mind.

So I picked out a few of my favorites, but could have easily posted 50 more. They are right on the money, my friends.

What are some of your favorite little things in life?

P.S. Doesn't this blog remind you of thxthxthx a little? Just another way to share how to appreciate the simple things in life.

Especially with fresh, clean sheets!

I like to call these Lizzie hugs. She's bomb at giving bear hugs.

Like after driving home and getting caught in traffic, then B-lining to the bathroom right when the door opens.

Ahhhh. I love this. So does Lianna.

Kathryn gets me with this ALL THE TIME. Once I hear that crack on a busy afternoon at work, I instantly need pop.

I felt it a little on the hike this weekend, but I'm craving a big dose of it.

That blanket is like heaven, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


As a proud Skagit Valley native, I’ll never stop loving tulips. Even though they literally bring OVER A MILLION wandering tourists, crowding the streets of Burlington and Mount Vernon during the Tulip Festival, I hold no grudge against the pretty things. They can’t help that they’re beautiful.

To support the Skagit Valley farmers, I bought a bouquet for Easter and they remind me of home, which in turn makes me smile. I’d have to say that they are one of my faves.

What are some of your fave flowers?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rattlesnake Ridge

Reasons why you need to hike Rattlesnake Ridge as soon as possible:
  1. It's like take my breath away beautiful up top. (Did I get the Top Gun song stuck in your head? It's stuck in mine now.) We're talking 360 degree views. Two different lakes and mountains in every direction.

  2. It's not too tough. It feels like you did a little working out, but you're not going to wake up sore the next day.

  3. It's only 2 hours tops (each way), but I highly recommend factoring in some good picnicking time at the top. You won't want to leave right away.

  4. While the rock ledge is filled with people, there's enough room for everyone and every spot has a fantastic view. No need to hurry along to make room for new people.

  5. They sell beer at the top. Isn't that rad?

You lacing up your hiking boots yet?

This sign is reassuring.

Oh, ok, no beer at the top, but I really wanted to get you excited about the hike. Did it work? P.S. Not sure beer and steep cliffs go hand-in-hand...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chasin' Waterfalls

Since our weather has been a little more on the miserable side, Joe and I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors when the sun made a special guest appearance yesterday. We decided that a hike is just what the doctor ordered, so we opted for Snoqualmie Falls since neither of us had been there in years. When we got there, there were signs all over that said the trail is closed until 2013. Oops. Oh well, it is still such a beautiful site to see! I love that even a few hundred feet up on the observation deck, you can still feel the mist from the cascading water. Pretty incredible.

And thanks to my trusty Day Hike book, we were able to find another trail nearby, so the drive east wasn't completely a bust. Stay tuned for details on our hike tomorrow!

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