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5 Simple Steps To Hosting A Swedish Midsummer

Tomorrow is Midsummer's Eve, one of the most important dates in the Swedish calendar and second only to Jul (Christmas). Up and down the country, our Nordic friends are flocking to Systembolaget (the state-owned off-licence) to pick up beer and schnapps before it closes for the holidays. Midsummer celebrations usually take place in the countryside so tomorrow the city streets will be deserted. Sadly, this year dancing like 'frogs' (long story) around a maypole on the village green won't be on the agenda. But this won't stop the revelry! Inte alls! Famous for experiencing all four seasons in one day, nothing yet nothing gets in the way of raising a glass (or two) to the summer solstice! Devoted to eating, drinking, dancing and other assorted pagan rituals, Swedish midsummer has been around since the 1500s. Why not channel the swedes and hold your own midsummer celebration? As with all things Scandinavian, its super simple and doesn't require a lot of effort. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Midsommarkrans (Midsummer crown):  In my humble opinion, the most beautiful floral crowns  are handmade with whatever you have to hand from nearby meadows or hedgerows. Above, Elsa Billgren is in the process of creating a daisy crown on the island Gotland - and below are a few snaps of my daughters and I gathering wildflowers last year near our summer cottage. Wilted, bent and some very far from perfect, but oh so pretty all the same! Here's a simple tutorial on how to create a floral crown



 2. Set a simple table: the midsummer table is rustic and understated. Think wildflowers, candles for when the revelry continues well into the early hours and a spot for everyone - young and old and even furry friends - at the table.

It wouldn't be midsummer in Sweden without a down pour - so anoraks are a must! But if the weather really is THAT bad, it might be time to reluctantly move the festivities indoors, in which case, it's all about bringing the summer in! 

3: The drinks: Think refreshing ice cold water infused with elderflower, cucumber and lemon, Swedish craft beers and of course, a 'nubbe' of akvavit - taken with a nubbevisa (akvavit song). 

4. The midsummer feast! Dine on sill (pickled herring), boiled new potatoes with dill and a variety of salmon before tucking into some deliciously sweet, juicy summer strawberries (FYI the recipe for the layered strawberry cake can be found over at Honestly Yum). 

5. Single? According to Swedish tradition, pluck seven types of flowers and place them under your pillow. You'll dream of your future husband or wife! 

Wishing you a 'glad midsummer'!

See you Monday!

Niki

Photography:
1. Emily Slotte 2. Elsa Billgren 3-5 My Scandinavian Home 6, Nåde studio, 7&8 Homespo, 9 Abby Mitchell Events, 10 Wedding Chicks  11 & 12 - Honestly Yum.

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My Scandinavian Home Sunset Beach Gathering!

This gathering was made possible by Granit  - all words and thoughts are my own.

Do you have a favourite beach? One of my all time favourites is Ljunghusen on Sweden's south-western tip. Dunes and powdery white sand stretch out as far as the eye can see and the Baltic waters are crystal clear and a cool, blue-grey. Oh and the beach is almost completely deserted! I've always felt it would be the perfect spot for a beach gathering - and what better than a My Scandinavian Home summer celebration to kick off the start of the Swedish holidays?!

Sarah Brooks-Wilson and I nipped to Swedish brand Granit, who sell an assortment of interior design and functional storage in timeless neutral colours - as well as a local DIY store to pick up everything we needed. 

We decided to keep the look simple to match the surroundings, opting for natural materials such as linen, bamboo, sea grass, wood and glass and soft, muted colours. The table was constructed from a wooden palette (the only heavy item!), which we covered with a linen towel.

In my mind no gathering is really complete without flowers, what do you reckon?! To match the wild setting we filled glass vases and jars with simple blooms such as Baby's Breath and Queen Anne's Lace and tied left over sprigs to bottles and napkins.

The food was kept equally simple - with tapas style olives, charcuterie, salad, bread, cheese and the most delicious orange and sultana loaf baked by Sarah (she makes a mean cake!).

You'd never find a Swedish home without one of these cheese slicers! Incidentally, the irregular shaped plate it's resting on is actually made from eco paper - such a great find!



The light was pin sharp (it's an area famous for artists because of this) and the evening air balmy (we were very lucky in other words - especially for Sweden!). Even so, the sky shifted constantly between dramatic, bruised clouds which threatened to leave us running for the car one minute and a golden sunset the next!

For the awning / wind break we used wooden poles from a local DIY store (make sure they have a spiked end so they are easy to bury in the sand) and 2 metres of sheer white fabric tied on with elastic bands. It honestly took about 2 minutes to put up!

Here's a quick run-down of all of the other items we used in case you'd also like to recreate this for an evening at the beach: 

Get The Look




1. Cushion Ribbed Grey 2. Cushion Ribbed Offwhite 3. Basket Palm Small 4. Carpet Seagrass 90x200cm 5. Wineglass 52cl 6. Candle 7x10 cm White 7.Vase Recycled Glass 30x18 cm 8. Plate Eco 10pcs 9. Blanket Quilted Grey 10. Cushion Linen Lightgrey 11. Cushion Linen Dark Grey 121. Basket Seaweed Small 13. Lantern Rattan 20x24cm 14. Lantern Bamboo 90cm 15. Lantern Glass Jar 16. Light String Ball 80 Lamps 17. Bottle Seegrass 0,75L 18. Plate Tapas 19. Tray Bamboo Ø30 cm 20. Kitchen Towel Linen Dark grey 21. Kitchen Towel Linen Offwhite 22. Cutting Board Beech 30x12cm 23. Towel Linen Large Lightgrey 24. Basket Bamboo Ø20cm 25. Bottle Patent Cork 0,5L 26. Lantern Glass Bottle 27. Bottle Patent Cork 7cl 28. Cheese Slicer Wood/Metal 29. Cushion Chair Lightgrey

* Granit has physical stores in Sweden, Germany and Finland and ships Europe-wide. 

We had a truly magical evening - and now I know how simple it is to set-up, we'll definitely be doing it again soon!

There are only two thing I'd do differently - the first would be to take a wheel barrow or some kind of mode for transporting the stuff down to the beach... and the second would be to ask Sarah to bake even more of that cake!! It was sooooo good!

Do you have a beach near you for sunset gatherings like this? If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below!

And speaking of beaches and summer, I hope you don't mind that, as per every year, I'll be paring down to three posts a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) over the next three weeks to enjoy a little down time with my family and make the most of everything the Swedish summer has to offer.

I hope you are able to enjoy a little down time to njuter av solen too!

Skål to sea, sands and sunsets!

Niki 






Photography / production: Niki Brantmark. Styling: Sarah Brooks-Wilson

Thank you to Granit for sponsoring this post and making our My Scandinavian Home beach gathering possible. As always,  all styling and words are our own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that make fresh content possible.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Midsummer Like a Swede

Elle Decoration France
Midsummer is arguably the most celebrated day in the Swedish calendar - and my all time favourite! As with all Swedish festivities, the Swedes gather the day before on Midsommarafton (Midsummer Eve) for a beautifully rustic affair involving wild flowers, in-seasonal goodies and dancing around a maypole - no matter the weather! Even if you're not in residing in this Nordic land, why not channel the Swedes - wear flowers in your hair, eat, drink and be merry this weekend?! Here's my guide to five Midsummer musts!

1. Create a midsommarkrans - a crown made from wild flowers (or cheat a little and pick up some beautiful fresh blooms from your local florist!). There's a handy step by step guide in my Lagom book and online here!   

Anna Kubel



2. Dine alfresco - no matter the weather (in fact, midsummer weather in Sweden is known for being rainy and blowing a gale - but that never stops the revellry!).

Our Food Stories

3. Tuck into sill o potatis - pickled herring and new potatoes are a midsummer staple - but you could go wild and create an entire Swedish smågårsbord. Extra points if you down your fork once in a while and sing a ditty en masse!

Honestly Yum


4. Eat the largest, juiciest strawberries you can find -  alone, with fresh cream,  in a pie or even dipped in chocolate. As long as they're red and dotty, you're totally on point!

Julicious



5. Drink something on the strong side - preferably homemade Akvavit (schnapps). My father-in-law makes a mean Akvavit, but I still like mine tempered down a little with wild elderflower syrup (that'll be the Brit at the table then...!).


An then the evening is yours to sing, dance and chat under the midnight sun!

Oh and I don't suppose you have a Maypole handy? If you do, it's customary to hop round it like a frog. Yep. Refer to point number 5.

And finally, Swedish tradition dictates that if a single woman gathers seven different types of flowers and places them under her pillow on midsummer day, she'll dream of the man she's going to marry! Well worth a shot, don't you think? It might just be that tall, blonde Swede sitting opposite you at the midsummer table!

Glad Misommar allihoppa! Skål!

Niki

Due to the Swedish holiday I'll be back on Monday, I hope you have a great weekend!

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A beautiful, rustic mill on the shores of lake Rinnen, Sweden

I absolutely love this time of year (don't get me wrong - I do get a bit of a winter slump round about January / february time, I promise!) - but as the days get shorter and the leaves turn from yellow to deep red things start to get super cosy. Dark mornings and evenings are transformed under the glow of candlelight. Autumnul pictures of people gathering around a table for a hearty stew or caramelized white chocolate tart start to pop up on my Pinterest feed. And I start to feel hugely inspired by rustic spaces (and hungry!). That's why this beautiful converted mill caught my eye.  After an extensive renovation, the Erlandsson family are embracing their new life in the former flour mill on the shore of lake Rinnen deep in the forest of Värmland, Sweden which includes a beautiful space for year round gatherings. Let's take a peek inside...








Credits: Photography - Carina Olander (shared with kind permission). Styling Anna Truelsen. See the full feature in Hus & Hem 12/201. 

Aaaaaa, just so cosy, don't you think? 

What a perfect room to gather for birthdays, thanksgiving (for you americans and canadians!) and Christmas (in fact I'm pretty sure I could come up with something to celebrate every week of the year, if this were my home, how about you?!). 

We can still create a lovely rustic style at home though - here are a few items I love from the mill : Linen table cloth (or stonewashed linen by the metre), long haired sheepskin throw, chunky knit blanket. I love classic Swedish Skultuna brass candleholders - and have a couple myself - beautiful! Although not featured, this one is lovely too. 

I can imagine the upstairs bedroom looks something like this - can you?! 

Have a cosy day! 

PS  We photographed a few beautiful, rustic homes for my book Modern Pastoral last year and I've been dreaming of a owning a lovely retreat ever since.....one day?!  

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A beautiful, rustic barn conversion

While drooling over the house at The Estate Trentham featured in Tuesday's post, I couldn't help but notice they also have a beautiful barn on the grounds too (used for events, gatherings, workshops, weddings and photo shoots). And I do love a barn conversion don't you?!  This particular one has been decorated with white washed walls, and a concrete floor, with exposed wood beams and rustic trellis tables adding a lovely natural touch and warmth to the space. Outside, the grounds include a mini orchard and harvest garden - oh to live nearby and have the excuse to have a party here, it all sounds so romantic!







Photos - Lisa Cohen. Styling: Lynda Gardener

Could you imagine getting together with friends or having a workshop here? I see bookings can be made here. Just saying!

Get the look: these vintage wood and metal stools are similar (if sold - source more here). This pendant lamp is similar. Buy beautiful stonewashed linen the metre here (or a ready made tablecloth here).

Other barn conversion inspiration I love includes: a fantastic, modern Swedish home in a converted barn (also featured here), an all white home, and a rustic retreat on Sweden's west coast. What a treat!

Have a lovely day!

PS I would hate to be seen inviting myself to parties, but if you do go and have a party here I make a great guest....

PPS - I received a message from Bloglovin this morning saying 'wowza, you just reached 50,000 followers' - that's quite a number and hard to imagine in real terms! Thank you so much for following My Scandinavian Home, you're wonderful!

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Happy Midsummer! - and a mini guide on how to create your own

Friends and family in Sweden will be staying up to celebrate midsummer's eve today (here's a little pic of my crew on the same day last year). Sadly I'm thousands of miles away (on a photo shoot in Upstate New York), but that won't stop me from creating a small midsummer celebration of my own -  and raising a glass or two! I've put together a quick guide to creating your own midsummer's eve below...wild flowers at the ready!

Photo: Local Milk - check out all the other images in this beautiful series here

Why not throw a mini party this evening to celebrate the longest day of the year (in some parts of the world!).

Pick wildflowers and create your own midsummer crown (and a wreath for your door).

Serve a selection of pickled herrings in pretty jars and serve with new potatoes, boiled eggs and fresh dill. Enjoy with cool beer and ice cold schnapps (you'll need to warm up your singing voice!).

Bake a delicious cake decorated with hundreds of sweet strawberries.

Set up thousands of pretty light bulbs over the outdoor table.

Invite as many friends as you like - and if you don't have enough chairs, how about rugs instead?!I also love all these outdoor party ideas.

And dance the night away under the midnight sun!

Wishing you all a very happy midsummer's eve! Skål!

PS Feel free to add your own midsummer tips in the comment section below...

PPS I'll be back in action here on Tuesday since I have a bit of a tight schedule until then. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

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Wishing you a fabulous new year....

May your night sparkle and all your dreams come true!

Credit unknown (can you help?)
Credit unknown (can you help?)
via Allyson Vinzant
Emily Steffen via Heart Love Always
Thank you so much for following My Scandinavian Home in 2014. 2015 is an exciting year for me as I'll finally be able to follow my dream of blogging full time.

See you on 2nd January where I'll begin a month full of ethereal Scandinavian inspired home tours, DIY projects, tips and tricks for the home and exciting give-aways.

Have a fabulous start to the year!

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Party time!

I moved to Sweden exactly ten years today. Crazy! In that time I married my wonderful Swedish husband, had  my two lovely little girls, created this blog and renovated our home among other life adventures. Thank you Sweden, for being a wonderful hostess, here's to many years to come! In my dreams I'm celebrating with a fabulous alfresco party and of course you're all invited. Hope you can make it?!.....






Image 1 via Grey and Scout, 3: Ann Street Studio. Final image via Lay Baby Lay. If you can supply the photographer / stylist name for any of these beautiful images please let me know, it would be wonderful to accurately credit them. 

I love the last picture in particular - who needs a babysitter? This is such a great way of keeping the little ones entertained while we dance the night away don't you think?! And of course, that's you in the second picture arriving?

Waterfall and cluster fairy lights and vintage champagne glasses a must as well as lots more inspiration on my new party and food pin boards. There's always my alfresco board for the morning after brunch too. Party on people!

Back tomorrow with a Scandinavian house tour to enjoy and inspire us all over weekend, see you then. And in the meantime, have a wonderful Friday!

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