Solo Travel Sweden, Part 1

Due to B’s recovery period, I have been much more domestic than usual.  May I say that the worst of this domesticity is grocery shopping, which is not usually my activity.  Meanwhile in the back of my mind, I’m working on my next quilting project, there is nothing visual yet.  So basically, there’s been domesticity, audiobooks (where the heck did I put my glasses?), quilt ideas, and pondering.  Happily, it is January so I have my budget for 2016 travel.   Some of the pondering has been about our travel plans in 2016, and dare I say, early 2017.  This lead me back to my 2015 solo journey to Sweden, which was an incredible adventure.  I did a couple of general blog posts about the trip; ie, the general reason and route, and what I learned.  I’m not a travel blogger, but I like reading about other people’s adventures, and I know some people have been looking for a detailed report, so while things are quiet around here, I’ll see if I can be more detailed about the adventure in case it helps someone else to plan and do some solo travel.

Sweden-4I’ll preface this by saying I have traveled alone in the USA.  When going abroad, I might fly over alone, but I met up with people when there.  Usually, B and I went together.  I was/am the tour guide so I am comfortable with planning the travel, but I never traveled completely alone internationally.  This trip I would know no one for over two weeks.  For this trip, I used some of my usual systems; such as, using and for a general sense of prices.  I pick the airlines/flights/routes that I like best and watch the price.  When the price I can live with comes up, I buy directly from the airline.   For hotels, I study, and trip advisor for prices and reviews.  I also looked at Airbrb at apartments for one location for this trip.  I read as many reviews as possible before making reservations.  I did not pay for any hotel rooms in advance, but rather chose the cancellation/pay at hotel charge.

My system of organization is having copies of my reservations and directions, boarding passes, and tickets in a clear plastic envelope for easy access in my personal item.  I also had copies on my ipod.   The ipod also worked as my contact with home via facetime, email, instagram, FB, whichever.  I was required to post at least something, somewhere, each day so if I disappeared they’d have an idea where to start looking for me…LOL.  I pondered having a travel phone, but ruled it out before I left for Sweden.  Facetime would have to do.  On facetime, if I have wifi I can call anyone with an iphone or an apple device.   I will say that I didn’t look at some hotels in Sweden because your key and reservation is all on your smart phone.  They had no reception desks, and as I didn’t have a smart phone, I skipped these hotels.

My other system was an old fashion 8″ X 5″ notebook.  I usually travel with a little notebook to keep track of things, etc.  However, this time I actually completed the journal!  I usually lose interest partially through the trip due to busy-ness/exhaustion.  On this trip I would write in my journal at the restaurant while I sipped on a drink and waited for my meal to be served.  In the front of the journal, I had a double page for each day where I would put details:  1. for travel days I would include all reservation numbers, and possible transportation options with directions and cost for each,  2. For non-travel days, I would list the places from which I might want to chose to see that day, labeling what was a ‘must see’ for me.  3. I also would keep track on this page of what I spent daily as I want to know when I’m under my daily goal in case I want to splurge or vice versa.  4. so I wouldn’t have to remember things, I even went as far as making a note when to shift things; ie, in my first travel 24 hours, when I knew I’d have no sleep, these reminders were to keep me organized, secure, and not confused, such as when to put moneybelt on, when to put boarding pass for Stockholm flight in purse, when to move charge card for Arlanda Express, etc.  I assumed I would be brainless from not sleeping and listed items accordingly.  Yes, I can be overly organized, but it is organization to keep me sane if I need it.  This is what my Stockholm arrival day page looked like: Sweden-3

I’ve previously discussed my luggage, so I will not cover that here.  This first flight could possibly be the last time I will ever carryon, as it is a pain.  Pack light, but check your bag is my new mantra.  As a reminder, here’s my luggage: image

So on Day 1, B. dropped me at the curb at Logan, so we said our goodbyes there.  We thought I’d want to get right in line to get through security, so he went home.  As it turned out, even though I was on BA, they sent me into the TSA Precheck line so I was through security in 3 minutes…oh, how I love TSA Precheck!  So because security was so fast and I was going off for many days alone, I thought, this particular period in the airport was lonely.  I have to add here, that was the last time I was lonely!  However, next time, I’ll have B. come in (if I’m flying out at night, which is doubtful) and we’ll eat at the little restaurant next to security, like we usually do when we send people off.  This restaurant’s receipt lets you skip the line and go into the first class line so it is easy peasy.

I had an uneventful flight to Europe.  Fortunately, there was no one in the middle seat next to me so it was quite comfortable, even if no sleep was involved.  They serve dinner at midnight and then breakfast before landing…doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Who eats dinner at midnight?  I skipped dinner and had just a little of the breakfast.  For the first time I reserved my seat ahead of time on this BA flight, so it was in the very front of the economy section.  I’ll continue to do this as I didn’t have to wait for most of the plane to deal with their excessive carryons before deplaning.  I’m not yet willing to pay to upgrade my seat, but I’ve discussed my new system elsewhere…no more overnight flights if I can help it.

Heathrow.  BA, British Air, is my international carrier of choice.  They use terminal 5, which is a nice terminal.  Consequently, as my flight from London to Stockholm was also BA, I could remain in this terminal.  But as I’m paranoid, I had almost a 3 hour layover, 2 of which were waiting.   Immigration took place in Heathrow and then security again.  Here is where I have to say that some businessmen can be really arrogant people.  After I went through security, which always means I’m pulled out of line, wanded (word?), patted down, checked for explosives, and shoes sent through Xray.  All very politely mind you so I have no problem.  In fact, I feel I should lecture these young women next time as they are so polite I think they miss being brave enough to search the reason why I’m pulled out of line, IMO.  If you think a particular part of the body might be hiding explosives well, you better verify.  Let’s just say, Dolly Parton and I have at least one thing in common, and it’s not our voices.  Anyway, I stepped out of the way to gather all my discombobulated items around me, put my shoes on, etc.  I happen to be next to the security survey box: happy face button if you are happy, unhappy face button if you are unhappy.  The business men apparently take offense if the security people wanted to look in their bags or hold them up in any way and they belt that unhappy button in a fury.  Their mothers, if they are still around, need to remind them they are not special, in fact, to the contrary!  All work is important, all workers are equal.  Anyway, each time they slammed that unhappy button, I countered twice with the happy button!

Heathrow had to be 90 degrees this time!  Probably because it was unseasonably hot that day in London.  Here is where my difficulties began.  I have since determined I am lactose intolerant, but it has been several years of illnesses to figure this out, as we don’t use much dairy at home (already used lactaid at home, duh!)  Anyway, after I drank a Starbuck’s coffee with cream (as that is all that was there) I started to feel ill, and the heat didn’t help at all.  However, I got the flight to Stockholm, had a pleasant chat with my young seatmate who was half Swedish and half Australian on her way to visit her grandmother.  She’d been in flight for HOURS so I stopped complaining to myself!

Arlanda International Airport is quite a change from Logan and Heathrow, as it is tiny in comparison.  I easily found Arlanda Express on which I planned to travel to central Stockholm.  I had purchased the ticket on-line, but no paper was involved.  The site said to bring the credit card used, and the conductor puts the card in his machine, and he will see my ticket.  Well, I wasn’t confident about this, but hey, this is hi-tech Sweden that I was going to see.  Indeed, the conductor ran my credit card, and, lo and behold, he saw my ticket.  I never saw anything!  This is the first of my ‘I love Swedish technology’ experiences.

Once at Stockholm Central, I needed to pass through Gamla Stan to Södermalm, the island on which I was staying.  Apparently, Swedish cabs have no pricing regulations so I needed to be careful which taxi company I chose.  The information I had read indicated  not to go to the first taxi stand one sees when first off the train, but head farther along in the station.  I had noted the directions to this stand and stuck with Stockholm Taxi , which has a good honesty rating, during my stay.  I obtained an agreed figure range with the driver before taking the cab.

I had made my reservation with Hotel Hornsgatan. I used google earth to see where this hotel was and what was around it.  By checking out the neighborhood ahead of time, I know what the area looks like, what the subway looks like, and what the facade looks like, which makes it easier to find regardless of what mode of transportation to the hotel I finally decide to use.  This hotel does not have a 24 hour reception desk coverage, so I obtained ahead of time the codes and instructions describing how to enter the hotel and find my reservation, so I didn’t have to worry.  I arrived on time, but the receptionist had stepped out to help some people from the subway to the hotel with their (excessive) luggage.  Happily, I just used the codes given, entered the building and the hotel with these two codes, and waited comfortably in the lobby for a few minutes.  Phew, I made it all the way to Stockholm with no glitches!  However, the timing was good because it is about 7:00 PM Stockholm time, and as I sit in the lobby, I begin to really not feel well.  I felt like Meg Ryan in French Kiss…”lactose intolerant”!

OK. I made it, but the “I’m in Sweden!!!” hasn’t hit me yet.   I’ve landed, if a little shakily:

Sweden-1Part II to follow shortly.  Happy adventures!





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New Year’s Adventures

So we have had quite an eventful 7 days in this house.  This is what happened on New Years Eve:


Beautiful four hour old Oliver Reynolds is held by his grandfather Robert Reynolds.  This was a good day!

It is amazing how maternity wards have changed in 30 years.  Here visitors are welcomed immediately into Mom’s room, which is shared with baby.  There is no nursery for healthy babies.  The baby never leaves the room until he goes home.  This allegedly provides more bonding with parents and is healthier for the babies.  I think it is nicer to give mom a good night’s sleep before going home, but I’m just a mom.

Then things got crazy!  After a night of being extremely ill, I drove Robert Reynolds to the emergency room in the morning on New Year’s Day.  We were really nervous about what would happen on this long holiday weekend.  However, he had emergency surgery by a wonderful surgeon, who we think was the perfect surgeon for this difficult situation.  Bob remained in the hospital for five days.  He’s home now, on the mend, and is feeling MUCH better.  It was a good experience and we can’t say enough for everyone who works at Milton Hospital!  They seem to be the nicest type of people.

Quilt-wise, I finished the wolf quilt:



It is awaiting pick up.  I still haven’t formed a final opinion about the color of this quilt.

And to end this eventful week, seven day old Oliver came to visit his recuperating grandfather.


Isn’t he just perfect?!

Happy New Year!

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Productive Waiting


I have been asked to make a black quilt.  I have this black material on my longarm just now.  Can you see the white lint from white batting on the first bar?  I started to put the white batting on and changed my mind.  I can imagine these white threads popping through the back with the stitches and marring the solid black.  Consequently, I ordered some black batting and I am waiting for its delivery, allegedly tomorrow, which means it won’t be started before Christmas.

In the meantime, I thought I’d make a protective pocket for my new laptop.


I use my play quilted muslin for the cushion and the accent fabric.  I line  the quilted fabric, sew it together, reverse it, and then make the envelope.  As it is mine, I did not include ribbon or velcro to keep the envelope closed as I find the decorative stitch 1/4 of an inch or so from the top is sufficient to keep it closed.


So you can see the quilted lining when opened.



And here’s the finished product.  It’s perfect.  Now I need to make something for my DSLR…

Happy waiting!

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Wednesday’s Word

This week’s WordPress photo word is oops.  As I was mulling over how to ever get this word, B. said all he would have to do is follow me around!  Yes, I can be clumsy.  And with clumsy in mind, I have a lot of oops photographs of this nature:


I can’t tell you how many photographs I take by mistake while I am changing positions.  This is the most recent such photograph from a few days ago while I was taking photographs at Castle Island in South Boston.

Happy Oops!

PS.  Later today I went out to see what type of photographs I might be able to obtain in the ‘golden hour’.  My ‘oops’ issues continued to surface so I thought I’d add a couple more photographs:


Once again I was changing locations.


And here I was putting on my gloves.  So, B. is correct.  I regularly have ‘oops’ moments.  Many ‘oops’ moments, but taking place in very joy filled days!

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I gathered my Don’t Bore Your Baby quilts together and delivered them to the refugee resettlement group, which I discussed previously, and with whom I will continue to work in my extremely tiny way, but it is my Miss Rumphius moment.  My delivery was only 7 quilts, but it is a start. The following pictures show a pile of six quilts and then I added the bike quilt after I played with some freehand custom quilting designs. I forgot how much I enjoy just playing with my machine. I didn’t quilt too densely as I want it to be soft for the baby.


I also totally switched gears and made some curtains for a family member’s nursery.  The baby is expected Christmas Eve…  It was nice to just sew.  I like their fabric choice.  It is a nice contrast for the baby, which, as you know, I think is important.  curtainThis is the only photograph that I took of the curtain fabric and they were only partially finished at the time.  And, hey, I took this photograph with my ipod; lousy photograph.  It is nice to know that my DSLR is worth it.  Back to subject, their nursery is adorable,  but I didn’t take a photograph and I never know if I can use other people’s photographs so I won’t show you at this time.

Anyway, Happy week!

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Wednesday’s Word

OK, I’m getting back into my post autumn routine. The Daily Post’s Word this week is transition. Here’s my offering:

I love the way this modern, linear building wraps around the old, detailed building in Umeå, Sweden.  I don’t usually like black and white photographs, but I think limiting the color helps accentuate the geometric differences of design, while the detail of the old is warmly wrapped by the sterility of the modern, creating the transition between the two buildings.

For those who don’t know, the above articulation is absurd art history talk. This is from a reformed art history student briefly falling off the wagon… ‘Don’t try to describe it so you think you sound more intelligent than the next guy, just enjoy it’, is my post college (and, in fact, to the disgust of my professors, my in college) position.

Happy transitions!

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Say ‘Yes” to Calvin and Hobbes

As a continuation of the thought behind my prior post…

My daughter learned to read on Calvin & Hobbes so I laughed when I came across this summary of life lessons by this daring duo.   And then I thought that this one is particularly true in my life right now (although I can relate to all of them still, thank goodness), but you need to go to the link to see the cartoon picture:

8. When the dynamic duo taught us the pure joy of just hanging out:  “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”


Have a great day!

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So many opportunities, so little time…


As many of you know, I started my quilting business a little bit before I retired to make sure I had something to do during my ‘retirement’.  I love quilting.  However, I think I was affected by all the people who told me they won’t retire until they are 67, 70 or never, because they can’t imagine what they’d do with their time?  They, allegedly, just see a world of boredom.  While I never saw that, it did make me wonder if maybe I didn’t understand something, the reason other people were going to work well into their dotage.  Maybe they knew something I didn’t know?  So, I decided I needed a small business to make sure I had some structure…and I do enjoy small business.  However, I kept trying to make the business bigger even when I was totally enjoying the size it was. So, I am reducing the size of the business.

One reason I retired fairly early was because there are so many things that I like to do, that I didn’t have time or energy to do while working in a stressful environment with long hours.   And while I have planned my retirement well into my 90’s, I don’t think that there is any guarantee that I will be healthy enough to do everything I want to do in my ‘retirement’.  The longer one waits, the older one gets, and the greater the chance of illness.  I really worry that people will retire late and be very sorry they waited so long.  Now, keep in mind I’m talking about people who can afford to retire, but won’t, not those people who have no choice.  I’ve bumped into other retirees who are also mystified by people who will belittle ‘retirement’ and retirees as if it means a brainless, sedentary life.  That’s hardly the case.  I don’t have enough time to enjoy all that I want to do and learn.  And the longer I’m retired, the more I enjoy it!  But to each their own…

I have been very upset recently with the terrorist attacks and the affect they have had on the position of refugees here in the USA.  The horrible, angry, fascist rhetoric from certain political figures or candidates are frightening and I think it is becoming so dangerous that the quiet, calm, generous people need to start speaking up.  As a result I’ve recently been very vocal with my representatives in the government as well as just with people I know.  It has also made me want to support Syrian refugees, and other refugees.  I am fortunate that I don’t need my business to make money for me.  Consequently, I am closing my Etsy shop on December 1st.  I will continue to make my Don’t Bore Your Baby quilts, but I have arranged to give them to a local refugee resettlement organization.  I will use the money I make from concentrating on tee shirt quilts to buy more materials for DBYB quilts.  I will still make custom DBYB quilts for people who want to buy one via the grapevine, because I think the visual stimulation for babies is so important, but again, profits go to more quilts for refugees.  And, I’m keeping this business small so I can enjoy more than just my quilting.  This is a small endeavor to help people, but it is something I can do.

So, TheQuiltifyShop is closed.  Profits from any sale will go to materials for more refugee quilts.  Unpurchased quilts will be delivered the week of December 1st to the resettlement organization in Boston.

Besides kindness, what are some other ways sane people can help the world one small step at a time?



The morning light on the rocks on Otter’s Point.  Here’s to you, who are adding some joy to the world.  Happy days!

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The Eleven Pound Carryon

We recently provided transport to and from Logan for my cousins.  They were flying on a new airline at Logan, WOW.  The flight was Boston to London via Iceland.  It is a discount airline for which you pay for any extras and it stops in Iceland before continuing to Europe. And I mean you pay various rates for luggage, seats, food, etc.  It is kind of up to you how much you spend.  My cousin A. is frugal, as am I, mostly.  WOW’s basic luggage is one free 11 lb. carryon.  Any other luggage situation requires a fee.   This brought on a discussion as to whether each of us could travel this way or not.  I confess I had no idea what an 11 lb. bag, including purse, looked and felt like  (I hate to carry when not necessary).  My present way to travel is to check my 20 inch, less than 20 lb. carryon and just carry a largish purse with some extras for the flight.  And I want my DSLR, so this would not seem to be a possibility for me, generally, but I still wanted to know, because, never say never.  So, because I am a luggage, packing, ease of movement freak, I had to see what 11 lb. looked like and if I could pack enough to be comfortable.

Here’s the bag I have used for this experiment.  It is sometimes my underseat bag with my purse in it.  In this case, it is packed except for my travel documents, as I’m not really traveling right now.   It weighs 10 lbs. so I’m sure my travel documents would fit.  It measures 14″ X 14″ X 6″.

So this is what I have packed into this bag.

blog 11 lb-1-2

So this picture shows,  what is in my bag, except my brassieres (2), which will remain hidden.  LOL.  I rolled my black jeans and stood them upright.  I rolled the night shirt, two tee shirts, sweater, three pairs of underwear and three socks into the packing cube below, and placed it at the bottom of the bag.

blog 11 lb-1-4

Below, the square item in the middle is the microfiber towel, which sucks the water right out of the handwashed items so they dry overnight.  Also included is an umbrella, my 3-1-1 bag, my dry toiletries/emergency meds, my purse, and electonics, etc. bag.  The 3-1-1 bag went in an outside pocket for easy access.

blog 11 lb-1-3

So in my purse, I have the following:  phone, wallet, ipod, pen, and 2 pairs of glasses.  Not in picture are my house keys.

blog 11 lb-1-5

In my dry bag, I have emergency meds, powder, floss, toothpaste, hairbrush, mirror, eyeglass cleaner, toothbrush, and shoe horn.

blog 11 lb-3

In my auxillary bag, I have a sink stopper, clothesline, ipod charger, phone charger, flashlight, spork, laundry soap, safety pins, compass, duck tape, extra pen and cable organizer.

blog 11 lb-2-3

All the containers fit in the main section of the bag.  The only things that didn’t make my luggage, btw, were yoga pants, flip flops and a fleece jacket.   And this is what I would wear on the plane: blog 11 lb-2-4

black jeans, reversible quilted vest, pashmina, tank top and cotton blouse.  (Obviously, worn but not in picture, underwear, shoes, and a jacket.

I would be fine with what is in this bag, other than the loss of my DSLR, which is a major loss, IMO.  But even worse than that, while 11 lbs. is not much, I would hate to have to lug it around airports or around town for any length of time…and I love strolling around the airport waiting for my flight!  So, while this light weight packing is fine with me, I won’t be using it.  Give me wheels anytime, and let me check it.

If I did insist on carryon with this airline, I could take the following approach, as I could bring my DSLR.  I managed to fit all the above items in my 20″ suitcase along with my camera/purse case.

blog 11 lb-1-6

The only thing missing from this photograph is my DSLR with 15-55 mm lens, for obvious reasons.  So all the items listed in this post and this camera bag packed full, fits into this bag:


When full with these items, this bag weighed 20 lbs., which is well below the 26 lbs. allowed for an additional $38.00 each way.  This would be my only bag.  If I can save enough money to make the layover in Iceland and the overnight flight worthwhile, I would consider this option.  But I really think I would just carry my camera bag/ purse onto the plane and check the bag for $48.00 each way.  Sometimes, being frugal at the expense of comfort is no longer worth it for me, but I can appreciate those who are diehards.   However, in reality, I still like my BA daytime flight to London, a nice bed at the airport hotel, and a morning flight out to my ultimate destination…and the deciding factor is really the day flight to Europe.  I HATE night flights and I don’t get a lick of sleep.  The day flight limits jet lag.

Anyway, long story summarized: blog 11 lb-1

This is what 11 lb. look like.  If  you don’t mind the weight and don’t need your DSLR, it works fine.  Now we need to decide where we will travel to in 2016.  Happy day!

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Just follow the flow…

Ask questions and follow the flow, the answers will be there.  Wow, don’t I sound philosophical today?  When I had my own insurance related business when my daughter was growing up, my marketing technique was lying on the couch and meditating.  Pretty soon the phone would ring and I had another project.  Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about the direction in which I want to take my business as I’ve been doing a little of this and a little of that for several years now.  Well, over the last few weeks the business has shown me which branch of the river it is taking.

Did I ever mention that when I receive a bag or box of tee shirts to be made into a quilt, I feel like I’m getting a Christmas present to open?  It’s so much fun to turn old tee shirts, or in some cases new tee shirts, into a pretty, functional object that will comfort the person for years to come.  I thought this would be the last thing I wanted to do when I started this business, but it turns out it is my favorite!  Who would have known?  Why is it my favorite, you might ask?  Making this type of quilt incorporates all I love about the process: creativity, design, piecing, quilting, beauty and function.    I also can learn a lot about a person from seeing a series of tee shirts or sometimes just part of a person in depth.  However, as my camera has been in my purse so I can do outdoor photography during this, my favorite season of the year, I do not have any pictures.  I suppose if I did some step workouts, the camera could travel around the house, but no.

So I will, instead, show you my neck of the woods in autumn.


I think this photograph looks like an impressionist painting.


And does this photograph say Solitude to you?  I’m trying to decide whether to place it in a beginner’s competition under that subject.  It says that to me…


I love autumn colors, and autumn.


I have a picture without this vehicle in it, but I like it better with it.  Do you agree?

autumn-2-4 autumn-2-5

I’m lucky enough to live between Massachusetts Bay and the Blue Hills Reservation (6000 acres).  I often can’t decide which way to turn!

So enjoy this wonderful week.  Happy days!

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