Monday, April 1, 2019

From Hollywood to Sweden

(This is our little amphitheater in town, what I like to call our version of the Hollywood Bowl)

I was raised in Los Angeles starting from when I was 5 1/2 (before that I had lived in NYC), and one can only imagine how strange it was for me to move out of a big bustling city to a small town in west Sweden like I did last year. I often get asked why I left LA for Strömstad (the town I live in now), and once I explain that it's because my now-fiancé is from here, people understand, but it is the number one question I get asked when I'm meeting someone new, no doubt.

I grew up in a suburb of LA called Valley Village (back when it was still considered to be North Hollywood), so the word "Hollywood" has always had a strong significance to me (not only because, fun fact!, my dad is an actor so I've grown up in the entertainment industry). I remember going on a summer trip to visit my childhood friend in Atlanta, Georgia, when I was 11 years old. Our moms had signed us both up for tennis camp (I played tennis regularly at that age), and on the very first day, as soon as the other kids found out that I was from LA, they immediately referred to me as "Hollywood" every single day for the next 3 weeks. I wasn't offended by it, but it made me realize that "Hollywood" was a special place to a lot of people, especially to people who had never been there and had always fantasized about it, like these kids at the camp. 

Do you remember watching the movie Hocus Pocus? I mean, who doesn't if you grew up in the 90s, but the main character (Max, coincidentally enough) went through the exact same thing when he moved to Salem from LA. The two guys he met in the cemetery on the way home from his first day of school teased him, called him "Hollywood" and stole his shoes. Luckily my shoes were never stolen, and I wasn't totally offended by being called Hollywood, but I always found it funny, and the older I get, the prouder I am of being from there. So when I saw this sweater on Joanie Clothing's website, I knew I HAD to have it.

Since moving to Sweden, I've discovered that I find the most comfort in surrounding myself with clothing and even home goods that make me feel connected to my old hometown, and that definitely includes this jumper. It's soft as can be, can be thrown on with a pair of denim and converse, or can be dressed up tucked into a skirt with a cute pair of flats like in these photos I'm sharing here! I plan on wearing it all spring and summer, and into the fall, too.


Link to the Oscar Hollywood Slogan Jumper can be found by clicking this link HERE

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Recipe: Princesstårta Cupcakes

Everyone who knows me knows about my undying love for princess cake, known as princesstårta in Sweden. It's a layered cake consisting of alternating layers of sponge cake, raspberry jam, pastry cream, whipped cream, and the outside is covered in delicious marzipan which gives the cake a smooth shape. It's usually decorated with a few pink roses and a sprinkling of powdered sugar to top everything off. Since Valentine's Day is almost here, I thought it would be fun to share my own version of princesstårta but in cupcake form! And you know what? It wasn't difficult like I thought it would be! I found the original recipe HERE and made my own modifications to it so feel free to use the one I linked as the base for when you try it.

If I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, I would have bought a roll of marzipan and cut out round circles to cover the top of the cupcakes, but since I love frosting so much, I decided to add some almond flavoring to the frosting instead and it tasted nearly the same. The roses were store bought but you can make them yourself if you wish! Unlike the recipe, I did not add the cream on top of the cupcake (underneath the marzipan) as the original recipe described. Instead I whipped a little bit of it into the frosting.

Most of the cupcakes were gone before I could attempt a photo to show the middle, but here's my best effort (taken at night in different lighting)! Nothing like a sweet fruity surprise!

I definitely recommend trying these if you want to get a taste of princesstårta without having to make a whole cake. Have you ever tried princesstårta? What's your favorite kind of cake? Comment below!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hey Monday! Let's get real.

There’s something that’s been on my mind that I think is important for me to share so today’s blog post is going to be a little heavy. I’ve mentioned this a little bit before but man. Moving overseas has really been weird for my business. Though I consider myself to be extremely lucky to get to live in such a cool country and in such a beautiful town (I mean seriously just look up Strömstad and you’ll see what I mean), being a blogger/content creator here has been a big struggle and it doesn’t seem to be getting much easier.

When living in LA, I went from getting frequent paid collaborations and invitations to brand events to speaking on a panel about how to have successful instagram engagement (i laugh now lol), to... these days not much. My inbox has become a sad, somewhat dusty cave. I lost a lot of work when I moved overseas because many agencies and brands either don’t have the budget to ship overseas, or they simply just don’t want to work with people who are so far away because that blogger may be catering to a different country demographic (which actually for me is not true as many of my followers are still in the US!). 

In an effort to be more proactive, I have been reaching out to people myself and getting a lot of no’s which is something I’m not totally used to. But that’s the reality of my situation. For bloggers, a big move can either help you, or it can hurt you. And for me it’s been a little of both, on the business side of things for sure more than anything else. I think that getting turned down and not getting much business, especially after moving, is something bloggers must struggle with, right?, but nobody really talks about it I don't think. Maybe because not very many move as far away as I have done 😂. But I’ve always been very open with you guys, and I wanted to share with you what’s been going on with me because I'm not gonna lie, it's been hard sometimes. And it's not easy to talk about. But I will say that this new reality has not stopped me from posting. I’m quite proud of the content I’ve created and the brands I’ve been able to work with since moving here (some really, really cool Swedish brands that I wouldn't have known about otherwise). And I love that my aesthetic has turned into more of a pastel look, more coffee, pastries, nature. A slowed down life. And a fun glimpse into what living in Sweden is really like (happy to share all that I can!).

The biggest takeaway I have from this whole experience is that if anything, all of the struggles and the no’s have taught me to focus on what matters most: my life. I didn’t move here because of my “career”, I moved here for love. Because of this move I’ve been able to live a less stressed out life too (less deadlines, less pressure) which is a GIFT. 

But yes, it’s damn frustrating sometimes. I have days, even after living here for a year, where I feel very sorry for myself and am sad that things are different now. I sometimes feel “forgotten” and like “old news" which probably sounds completely ridiculous, but there you have it, and I know that it's perfectly ok to have those feelings. It's ok to feel sad sometimes. But if I know anything about myself, it's that I'm a pretty positive person so I always find a way to remind myself on the daily that those things (specifically all of the material "perks" of being a content creator) maybe aren't so important anymore anyway. Now I get to focus on having my dream wedding and going on my honeymoon and then sometime later starting my very own family! Alllllll good things. Gotta be grateful for that and the rest will take care of itself.

If you’ve gotten through this, you’re a real champ. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it more than you know. And if you have anything to add about your own struggles or frustrations about finding yourself in a new place, you can always reach out to me. Or just leave a comment here.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Back to School with Yoobi

Happy first Monday of January! I'm so excited to finally share this post with you guys now that school is officially back in session for so many of us.

As I've mentioned on my instagram, I decided to start taking the official Swedish language class here in Sweden (called SFI) last year and I've learned so much from it so far. I get a lot of questions about what it's like learning a new language, so I thought I'd share my tips and tricks and to top it off, I partnered with my favorite school supply company, Yoobi! I love this company not only because they make the cutest, most colorful school/home/office supplies I've ever seen, but for every item sold on their website as well as at Target, they donate a school supply to a classroom in need in the US. Truly a wonderful initiative that I am proud to support! Pictured on my (very messy, haha) bed is a pack of mini highlighters, sticky notes, pencil pouches, journals, index cards, tape, pencils, pens and the cutest laptop case. Seriously, everything they make is adorable and makes learning more fun, too. Go check them out!

Tips for learning a new language

So you say you want to learn a new language but don't know where to start? The best thing you can do is to take a class in that language! Most languages are offered at community colleges, but you can also sometimes find independent courses with a little google search, which I had to do in the beginning of my learning because Swedish, as it turned out, was not offered everywhere. Before I moved to Sweden (in 2017), I found a private language school to help me get the basics of Swedish down and it really helped. I met with my teacher once a week at her home and we covered one chapter a week of a book that was assigned for me. In those ten weeks, I learned how to pronounce all of the vowels (they are so hard if you don't know them), I learned how to count, read simple sentences and stories, read the clock, and she also taught me about customs, traditions and holidays. When I moved, I felt more confident in what I knew, even though I wasn't anywhere near fluent back then. It also helps to get a language learning app on your phone that you can use at your own leisure such as duolingo (especially if you don't have time to take a physical class).

Once I moved to Sweden (in January of 2018), I signed up for Rosetta Stone's online language program. This was more advanced than duolingo and wasn't cheap, but still fairly simple and I loved having something to "do" every day while I was figuring out and getting used to my new life here. They usually have great sales as well so definitely check them out. The Swedish course was 12 unit course, which allowed me to complete in 6 or 12 months, at my own pace. Rosetta Stone teaches you auditory learning, writing, and reading. They also offered tutoring, and had games you could play to help you brush up your skills and improve your knowledge. I really liked it, but ended up only getting through 6 units because I landed a job over the summer that left me too busy (and tired) to continue.

Once the summer job ended, I decided to enroll in the "official" Swedish language course here called SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), and being in an actual classroom with other students has been the best form of learning for me and what I'd say has been the most helpful overall. There are around 20 other people in my class (which sometimes can vary - today we were only 7!), and our class meets 4 days a week for 4 hours per day. We can only speak Swedish in class which honestly really helps me because then I can't fall back on my English (which is SO easy to do). Every day, we practice word recognition by writing down what we hear, we watch films, we read out loud, and sometimes we have homework (not always, though). If you're serious about becoming fluent in a language, surrounding yourself in a place where you are forced to only speak the language is KEY in becoming more fluent!

If school isn't for you...

There are other ways to learn! Watch movies and tv shows with that language's subtitles, watch movies in that language, listen to audio books that are in that particular language. Try to write down what you hear in a song, even if you don't know how to spell the word. Soon enough, you'll be able to recognize that word and overtime it will become easier to pick up on more when you hear them used in a sentence! (That's been my favorite part of learning, I think!). 

Another thing I'd like to say is to not put pressure on yourself. This is something I am very guilty of, but if you can try not to and to just have fun with it, you will be more successful in learning. Diving  straight in and leaving any intimidating thoughts out will be so good for you and it's something I try to keep in mind every day even though it's hard!

I hope that all of this helped. If you're trying to learn a new language, I'd love to hear which one in the comments!