Category Archives: details

Vacation Recap: full heart, tired body

My body is tired. My heart is full. I may or may not be reconsidering having children of my own someday. These are just a few of my symptoms after a weekend spent with my family to the (slight) northwest. It was a Murphy/Gleason weekend and it was lovely.

Give me a weekend filled with little more than a long run and some time in the kitchen and I can give you a witty, recipe-filled excerpt sure to make your Monday (ok maybe not yours but mine at least) awesome. When it comes to documenting a big weekend however, I struggle.

How do you explain the amount of love laughter and mosquito bites shared throughout a weekend with family? How can you illustrate the joy that comes with watching young cousins become friends, celebrating two families become one or seeing someone get sprayed in the face with dirty puddle water?

What I lack in words today I make up for in photos. For those of you who were overwhelmed by my Instagramathon this weekend, I’m sorry I’m not sorry. For those of you that weren’t, prepare for an overload of cuteness. Lets call it Gleasapalooza.

Hit it.

Derecho delayed our flights. Well some of us more than others. But that left time for a few things I usually don’t have time for in the middle of the week. Like sleeping in or a mid-morning run or locating the beaver that someone obviously let into my condo the night before.

chicago lakefront swiss mountain dog
Since I was first to arrive I had the privilege of picking up the rental soccer mom mobile car and getting to know Minneapolis traffic during rush hour. Totally different from Chicago traffic but annoying just the same. Especially with that carpool lane just wide open and screaming for someone in a minivan (hey that’s me) with passengers (oh shoot that’s not me) to cruise down it. My family lives near Lake Minnetonka so that evening we just grabbed a bite to eat at a local spot and spent some time catching up and looking at old photos.

while my cousins may look short-statured, that's just poor camera angle on my part. Oopsies!

while my cousins may look short-statured, that’s just poor camera angle on my part. Oopsies!

On Friday we went shopping. There’s no sales tax in Minnesota on clothing so we always seem to make a little time for a trip to the mall.  Shoes were on the agenda for the boys but we ended up with watches, slap bracelets and sour gummy worms. And not necessarily in that order. Then it was off to Nana Pat’s where Owen and Jake wasted no time testing the structural stability of each of their cousin Jon’s toys. 

IMG 2157[1] from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

Friday afternoon, my cousin Jennifer’s boys Jack and Ben came over to play. A lovely mix of giggles, sword fights and ‘your not the boss of me’ ensued.


no cues needed for this shot. This comes naturally to them.

That evening we had an ice cream date/photo shoot along the lakefront. Special thanks to Ben & Jerry’s for the props. I cannot get over how tall the boys are getting. I’m getting old.

lake minnetonka minnesota wayzata simply social blog ice cream

Saturday we celebrated Jennifer and Jason’s wedding at local Noerenberg Gardens. My cousin Kate and I were in charge of the chairs so we arrived early to set up and catch a few glimpses of the details and the boys before the ceremony.

noerenberg gardens bouquet poenies

It was a beautiful and simple ceremony. And I just adored the way that they incorporated the kids, having Jennifer’s boys walk her up the aisle, and Jason’s girls walk him.

noerenberg garden wedding

After the ceremony we were invited to Jennifer’s sister’s house for a afternoon reception. The whole day felt comfortable and welcoming. A playground set in place of a dance floor. A sprinkled cake that wouldn’t show fingerprints and a general sense of comfort and love.

sprinkle wedding cake

I believe everything looks better with sprinkles. Sprinkles and peonies.

The real treat came that evening, when the new Mr. and Mrs. went off to celebrate and all of the kids (6 of them including Owen and Jake) headed back to Nana’s house for pizza and a sleepover. Here are the numbers:

  • 2 lawnmower rides with Papa (Uncle Jim)
  • 4 sleeping bags
  • 3 snapping turtles spotted (weekend total)
  • 6 pairs of shoes (few of which were actually worn)
  • Countless repetitions of you’re not the boss of me, Ben hit me, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I had it first and I can’t find my underwear. 
sleepover stats

sleepover stats

I managed to get a few hot and humid runs in on a nearby trail over the weekend as well. It was then that I spotted snappers #2 and #3 so I felt inclined to stop to take a few scenic photos. Because of the turtles. Not because I just wanted an excuse to stop and rest. Never.

lake minnetonka minnesota

The flight home was short and sweet. I even managed to get a brief nap in thanks to the white noise in the back of the plane. After all, when you just spent 24 hours with 6 yelling children, 1 screaming child is as soothing as a sweet lullaby.

I’d like to think it was careful planning on my part to save this post for today so I could properly wish my parent’s a Happy 35th Anniversary. That or exhaustion, but either one works. 35 years ago my Dad finally put a ring on it and my mother said yes after 6-plus years of dating. Poor Nana had to get that ring ready so many times she even told my mom to just move on. But she didn’t and I thank her for that because well, that’s how I happened and if I hadn’t happened then you wouldn’t be reading this blog. And wouldn’t that be tragic? Back to the marriage.

35th wedding anniversary simply social blog

Mom and Dad. You have shown me that a successful marriage is filled with hard work, love and a whole lot of laughter and for that I thank you. Happy Anniversary.

Have a great week!

Baby Season

I think I’ll call this winter the season of babies. After all, in just a 3 month time frame, 4 of my closest girlfriends delivered (or are soon-to-be-delivering) 4 healthy baby girls. I don’t know what the odds of 4 friends having 4 girls 6 weeks apart are but I’m pretty sure we should have gone to Vegas.  Then again, pregos and vegas probably don’t mix well. Maybe we’ll take the girls when they turn 21.

It seems like just yesterday we were playing beauty pageant in my mom’s basement. It seems even more recent that we were planning 21st birthday bashes, bachelorette and bridal showers. But babies?! I can still see the look on our most recent bride-to-be’s face when not one, not two, but three of her besties announced that they would not be able to indulge in Mex-all-you-can-drink-ico at her wedding last summer. Luckily we have a great group of fun girls and party-worthy boys to keep the festivities up regardless of liquor consumption.

I think that was the moment I realized we were adults. Not that I didn’t feel responsible before (I may or may not be known as the “mom” in the group), but something about creating offspring just makes it real. And I’m sure the Moms and Dad’s that are now Nana’s, Papoo’s, Rockin’ G’s and Grandma’s felt it even more so than us kids did.

Just like the milestones we experienced in our years growing up as close friends, this one calls for a party, err 3 parties. So grab a drink and use the restroom before I present to you: Baby Season!

We kicked off Baby Season with the “oldest” of the three, little Miss Grace. For Grace’s shower we went with a vintage pink and gray theme. The shower was held at a local bakery and cafe in the late summer so we wanted something that would be girly, have a touch of vintage and fit with the season. Grace’s nursery also followed the same color scheme so we were able to incorporate a few elements that could be used later in the nursery as well (always a plus). NOTE: I highly recommend thinking about the time of year before picking a theme for a shower or party. Your hunt for corresponding elements will be so much easier. Nothing is worse than trying to find magenta table decor the week before Halloween.

Since food was catered, we focused on dessert and cake for the sweets table. We incorporated some local popcorn, a few of the mother-to-be’s favorite sweets and some labeled popcorn buckets for guests to take the treats home with them.

pink and gray baby shower

baby shower dessert favors

Cafe Moxo, the venue where we hosted the shower, makes great cakes. I was very impressed with both the look and taste of the cake and just added a little bunting for decoration. We also did cupcakes on each of the tables in various seasonal flavors.

pink rosette baby shower cake

Pink Rosette Cake

My good friend Amanda also had the cute idea of implementing a station so that guests could create a custom headband for Grace to wear. We included some tags so that guests could label the accessory when they were done. It was a hit!

baby shower headband station

Headband Station

paper straws baby shower drinks

Drink Station

Fast forward one month and we were ready to celebrate Baby Abigail. Due just a short 6 weeks after her bestie Grace, Abigail’s shower fell the weekend before Halloween so we embraced everything Fall. Since this shower was held at a friend’s house, we had a little more flexibility with food and drink. It was so nice and comfortable to be able to use a friend’s house for the shower. Always grateful for hospitable friends and family!

Fall Baby Shower

Sweets Table

Since sweets are always a must, we set them up on a bar in the kitchen and incorporated Fall treats including caramel apple cupcakes and macaroons from the Confectioneiress bakery in Zionsville, Indiana, candy corn and acorn and pumpkin cookies.

Fall baby shower cupcakes cookies

Assorted desserts

pumpkin and acorn cookies

Pumpkin and Acorn cookies

For lunch we served a cheesy vegetable chowder, cheddar and chive scones, guacamole bruschetta and pumpkin dip. We wrote the menu on a chalkboard that could later be used by the mom-to-be for baby stats and photo ops. (Just a wooden frame, chalkboard paper and a washable chalk paint)

chalkboard menu baby shower

Lunch Buffet

And since no party is complete without a favor, we asked guests to take a homemade caramel apple with them when they left.

caramel apple baby shower favor

Caramel Apple Favors

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went and with the new year came Baby shower #3/3. This past weekend we celebrated the soon-to-arrive Baby Ella. Since Ella’s mom is in her residency and on a very busy schedule, we were fortunate that nearly all of our friends and family could make it up to Chicago for the shower. And fortunate again that a mutual friend of ours offered to host it at her home. While I’m never opposed to a cool venue for a party, there’s something nice and intimate about sharing these events in someone’s home. And a gorgeous one at that.

garden baby shower sweets table

I had a vision of a sort of garden theme with pinks and greens after sending out the invitation and it ended up matching nicely to the french country design of the space. Naturally, it didn’t take much to make the sweets table coordinate as well.

If you’ve not experienced the bakery at Mariano’s, I highly recommend a visit. Since most of our showers thus far were held back home, I didn’t have the chance to use any vendors in the city. A Mariano’s just opened up in my neighborhood and after drooling over browsing their bakery section, I decided I had to try them out for the last shower cake. Oh, that and the fact that this little gem cost me less than $10. That’s right, a custom cake for $10! I’ve spent 5x that much for some pretty “special” cakes in the past. I can still see the look on the baker’s face when I stood there just staring at her after she “priced out” my design. Even better, it tasted amazing. Can you tell I’m a fan? ok I’m done now.

pink and green baby shower cake

Bella Cake

Because my co-host contributed some tasty peanut butter chocolate ganache cupcakes and we had cookies for favors, candy and other sweets, I didn’t want to go overboard on the cake. I do love how they look as a centerpiece however so this was perfect on a number of fronts.

garden baby shower

Wishes for Ella

I stole the wishes idea from my cousin’s shower last summer. We had so much fun with it and I thought it would be a great way to involve the guests without making everyone feel like a child with silly games. We used them at each of the showers this season. It’s something the mom-to-be can take with her and read later and it really shows the personality of each guest. Plus, it’s a fun way to add design details throughout the shower, which I love. I have a template I’d be happy to share if you want to comment on this post, otherwise I found this one through a simple search online.

cucumber sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches

Since the shower was in the late afternoon, we stuck with a light menu of cucumber sandwiches, assorted crudites and hummus, fruit and cheese, goat cheese and grape crostini’s and mac n’ cheese bites.

pomegranate punch

Pomegranate Punch

My co-host made a pomegranate punch that was light and refreshing. We served it with ginger ale and just had a bottle of Prosecco on hand for those who wanted a little kick to their punch. I’m not sure the exact recipe she used but I found a similar one from Food and Wine here.

elephant cookie baby shower

‘Ella’phant Cookies

Guests were encouraged to take elephant sugar cookies as a thank you for coming.

And so wraps a successful Baby Season! As we expect the final girl here in a few weeks, I turn my focus back to boys and birthday parties for the next several months. But when the weather cools again, I can foresee a lot more pink as all of these little girlies celebrate turning 1!

Happy New Year…


Happy New Year! 
I rang in 2011 with a double-wedding weekend. First, we celebrated the wedding of one of my cousins down state and then headed up north to dance the night away with a good friend of mine.
I’ve attended a few weddings in my day and I must say my favorite part (besides the exchanging of vows of course) are always the details! I absolutely love browsing photography blogs for detail shots. I believe that the details are what make a wedding unique and all too often, the only pictures I see post-wedding are the posed group shots and the bride and groom with [insert guest name here]. So to all you brides out there, keep spending countless hours  a little time on the details. It’s worth it!

>Alternative Dessert Tables…


Two words…Yes Please
See other fabulous details from

>July 4th Fun…


check out these fun 4th of July ideas from bakerella, martha stewart, country living, twig and thistle, and amy atlas designs

>Lemon Lime Love…


I’m in love with the Lemon Lime Photography Blog and of course the weddings that come with it. Check out the full blog post for more fun details from this wedding.

>It’s a Whiteout…


This weekend is our 2nd annual White Party. It’s our kick-off to summer and we take the theme to the extreme. White outfits Miami-style, white sangria and my attempt at an all white food menu. After realizing last year that this was very difficult I’m trying to come up with ideas that stick to the summer theme but incorporate a little more room for creativity. Here’s a little preview of some details I’m thinking about for the bash. Enjoy!