Normal is What You Know

Screaming, yelling, and tears.
Conflict and chaos.
A cold un-warmed by the sun.

It has taken me 30 years to get here but I’m finally starting to see my life in color. I have words for feelings and emotions I never knew existed. I’m realizing how alone I used to be and I have a new perspective on grief.  So many of the things I used to want are becoming a reality.

It’s terrifying, electrifying, and incredibly freeing. Normal … what does that really mean anyway?





Vegan Sloppy Joes

Mark this down because I’m actually sharing a recipe AFTER I’ve tried it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten a ‘Sloppy Joe’ because they are always made with hamburger and as a kid I didn’t like the ‘tangy’ taste. I thought the final product was good and (bonus!) really easy to make. My meat eating friends agreed with me because they wanted to be nice.

sloppy joe2

The recipe we used:

1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional – for serving)

Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.

The original appears recipe here. I reduced the maple syrup to 1 tablespoon (instead of 3) and added some cooked quinoa (for texture).

sloppy joe 3

Swedes in the City

In one week 3 of my best friends – in life – will arrive at SFO. We all met as Uppsala University students back in 2008/2009. Irina and I were roommates in a cozy 2 room, 1 bath student apartment on the corner of Rundelsgrand and St. Johannesgatan. Irina introduced me to Gorka as they were both students in the same (Economics) masters program. Nahal came into our lives when she moved into the same (infamous) Flogsta corridor as Gorka. (5:4 was a good one!)

NYE 2010 w/Irina.
NYE 2010 w/Irina in our student apartment in Uppsala – So many good times in that room/apartment.

We have talked and dreamed about this trip for years. I am beyond excited to show these important women my ‘home’ as none of them have ever known me on American soil. I wonder if I will seem ‘different’ to them. How many times will Gorka say to me, “You are so American.” (Haha.)

Nahal (R) and I saying goodbye to Gorka (middle) in January 2011
Nahal (R) and I saying goodbye to Gorka (middle) before her travels back to Mozambique. (January 2011)

Gorka. Irina. Nahal. I simply can NOT imagine my life without these three (INCREDIBLE) women. They were my family when I didn’t have one, my support system when I (desperately) needed one, and knowing them has made me a better person.

Rooftop party with (L to R) Lucia, Nahal, Claudia, and yours truly.
(Flogsta) Rooftop party with (L to R) Lucia, Nahal, Claudia (June 2011)

I have no doubt these three women will go on to do incredible things in their lives. Being able to call them ‘friends’ is an honor for me and I can’t wait to show them California, ‘The Bay Area,’ and snap a good photo of all four of us. (Why don’t we have one!?)

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.12.07 PM
Gorka and her wine :)

Let the madness begin!

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Nahal and Irina at a Flogsta party. :) (January 2010 – I think)

Aunt Evelyn

“There is a day to be born and a day to die – both days are special.”

Last Tuesday would’ve been the 67th wedding anniversary of my dad’s parents. It’s also the day Aunt Eveyln died making February 10 is a very special day indeed.

It’s funny how life works. A new life joins the world and an old one leaves. Last week my brother became a dad for the first time adding another generation to our family. I’m looking forward to meeting my new nephew and watching him grow up. I’m also so thankful for the last visit I had with Aunt Evelyn in September 2013. My dad’s dad was Evelyn’s brother; I never knew my grandfather so hearing stories from his sister was very special. I will treasure those memories and conversations as I watch (and re-watch) all the YouTube videos Aunt Evelyn’s son Tom has shared.



Getting up at 5 am isn’t always easy, in fact some days it actually pisses me off.  It is SO much easier to lay in bed and sleep more in preparation for an exhausting day. BUT if (and when) I do manage to get up and make my way to the gym I never regret it. Ever. I feel more awake and energized. I like the crisp morning air and how it feels to move my body through the water. I notice that I am more focused and productive throughout my day; I simply feel better in general when I start my day by moving.

I need to remind myself of this feeling when my alarm goes off at 5 am and I’m full of excuses.


just another ordinary blog about ordinary things


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