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2019

It’s All About the Wedding Details

I've been keeping myself pretty busy the past couple of months with wedding planning, freelance work, looking for a new job, everyday errands, meal-prepping, working out, and to be honest... with a little bit of freaking out! I’ve been having trouble balancing everything I have to do, and I have to admit that I’ve begun feeling a tremendous amount of Anxiety. Like, wake up at 3:00 am and can’t fall back asleep because your daily schedule pops into your head kind of anxiety.

Even though Henrik and I have had more time to make decisions than most couples for their weddings since we began planning a year and a half out, the workload keeps increasing the closer we get towards the date. I feel like having extra time for planning has possibly even complicated things further for us. We’ve done tons of research and seen numerous options for everything possible (maybe me a little more than Henrik), making every decision much more difficult. I thought I was good at decision making but now second guessing all of our choices has become second nature. Embarrassingly, every stupid little decision for anything in the wedding has now become this strange eternal reflection of us as a couple in my head and has put me into full-blown perfectionism mode. I have to keep reminding myself and getting reminders from others that i’m being totally RIDICULOUS!

We are currently now stuck working on a million little things. For instance, this weekend we spent a whole day looking at what to do for welcome gifts for guests that are staying overnight at our wedding hotel. It was insane how much time and money you can spend on crap like this. We were like "do we go with boxes, bags or baskets?" Then it got me wondering if people can fit a basket in their suitcase. Or, if anyone even really f’ing cares about any of this and would we be spending a crapload on fancy baskets for no reason? Well, needless to say, we went with a nice gift bag (that I will probably tie a big luxurious looking tag and ribbon on).

Then, of course, the second half of the day, we had to decide what the heck to put in our newly purchased bags. At this rate, we will be done in a millennium. We bulk purchased still and sparkling water that we hope to put custom labels on. We’ve also started to make cute little custom trail mix bags, with stuff from the Costco of Sweden, called Martin & Servera, but we still don't really know what else to pair with it yet. (side note: Martin & Servera just recently renovated their stores. They are so refreshingly clean and nice inside now!) Maybe we could also get something sweet that is iconically Swedish to put inside our gift bags too? Any ideas? Comment below! Though all of this sounds like a lot of fun, there are so many silly details like this left to do and I feel like we have like negative time to get it all done, so i’ve gotten super stressed out. Why didn’t anyone really sit me down and tell me that weddings can get this crazy? Maybe they did and I just didn’t hear it.


Our bag full of bags from Office Depot in Sweden and the endless amount of finishing stuff I am just starting to collect and test. These current finds are from Panduro, and the cute danish store in our local mall at Liljeholmen called Søstrene grene.


One of the many cute little confetti pops my mother sent me in the mail from the US. And, our wedding ribbon styles for testing on gifts and decor.


Not sure if I'm going to use this for anything, but I liked the idea of trying to tie the place cards to the napkins with little leather ties. Even better, I found imitation suede which is a little more animal friendly. We are having a table decor workshop with the wedding planner and florist soon, so I've been collecting random things like this to test that day.


The velvet ribbon we bought off of Ebay.co.uk from China, to use on our invitations from Minted.com. I had my heart set on velvet ribbon for the invitations and that was the only place we could find it. I think they turned out quite nice!


Our new homemade (well... home assembled) trail mix!

Balancing all these little choices for everything imaginable, within our set budget, has also been quite a task. Turns out everything I decide that I like best is, of freaking course, the most expensive option! Go figure! I’ve turned to DIY’ing a few different things to help on cost. Which, I think has definitely added to my stress and time issues. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not a long lost Kardashian and no one expects to see custom over-the-top everything. I was in so deep I was looking into getting embroidered napkins, personally engraved wine glasses for all the guests, and a private castle museum tour with actors in costume (our wedding is at a castle with a museum inside part of it). Yep, true story! I actually almost made all of that happen until my mom called me and legit said “No, Heather. You are not the activities director on a cruise ship. This is a wedding.” Which, brought me back down to planet earth a bit. I can’t help it, I’m American. As we say, go big or go home, right?

When I was whining about all the idiotic things going wrong with the wedding planning yesterday to a friend, she asked me a clever question that really made me pause and regain my sanity. She said “what do you really remember from all the other weddings you’ve been to? Do you remember the tables? The gift bags? Do you remember any of these details?” and all I could answer her with was the word “No.” đŸ™ƒ

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Stockholm 2019

Note: My list of "The Best Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Stockholm 2019" is at the bottom, for anyone that wants to hurry down to my reccomendations.

Like the title of my blog, I am actually sightly Swedish in ethnicity. Which, I wasn’t totally sure about until I just took a DNA test this last Christmas. My mother’s family were all Scandinavian immigrants to the United States. Though my mother is majoritarily Finnish (a whopping 85%, as it turns out!) I have a small amount of Swedish and Norwegian from her side too. Like many other Americans, I have a mixed ethnicity. My fathers paternal side relatives are all of Irish decent, which is where I get my last name from, Murphy. I’ll never forget my first time going on a trip to Ireland when I mistakenly handed over both my American and Swedish passports. The customs official was pretty perplexed saying “So, let me get this straight. You’re a Murphy from America who has Swedish Citizenship?” I think of that sometimes and how my heritage is sometimes bit confusing to me as well. Though my DNA tells a little more of Scandinavian story, my family’s actual cultural identity has always been a more of an Irish-American one. I spent more of my youth closer to the Irish side of my family. I’m only really just now beginning to try to relate and understand the Scandinavian side of my heritage more, since my time living here in Sweden. 

My Instastory pic of my Ancestry DNA test results

My dad’s father was 100% Irish and his family immigrated from Ireland at the end of “The Great Famine”, like so many other Irish families at that time. After a few adventures, they eventually settled in the wild Black Hills of Montana. I always grew up so proud to be related to such strong Irish immigrants, that were survivors, adventurers, and quick-witted people. I have always wondered more about of my Irish family’s past and what my ancestors in Ireland would've been like if I had met them. What I do know of them is that they faced a life full of adversity and challenges, like many of their kind, and that they had the courage and strength to survive the times. If I told you all of the stories that have been passed down from that side, no one would ever believe me. I hardly believe it myself. It’s the stuff of Hollywood movies! Their's were tales of forbidden and social-class divided love, pioneers with covered wagons that conquered the wild west, cowboys in gun fights, running from the law, the building of the railroad, and even a few cops and mobster stories in the mix. I was always amazed and enthralled by my family’s past, or at least what stories I was being told of them.

An Irish-American themed immagrant movie I loved as a kid was Far and Away. It's the the movie where Tom Cruise met Nicole Kidman. It's about two social-class divided individuals immagrating from Ireland to America, enduring hardship and eventually falling in love. I always dreamed that this was like the way more romanticized version of my great-grandparents love story. They too were from two different classes and supposidly forbidden from being together, before running away to the US.


Another show I think of when I think of my ancestors is this HBO mini-series called Lonesome Dove (from 1989). It was basically the story of my great-grandparents.They were the first cattle ranchers to bring cattle from Texas to Montana, and that is who this series is very specifically about. I just remember it bringing tears to my grandfathers eyes (and he was definately not a man to cry.)

The Irish in America did what they had to, to survive, and ended up thriving in a strange part of the world. The Potato Famine in Ireland killed more than 1 million people in five years and more than 1.5 million adults and children had to leave Ireland to seek refuge in America. Combined, that's nearly the entire population of the inner city of Chicago and bigger than the population of all of the entire Stockholm municipality (suburbs included). The conditions in Ireland were starving them out and The United States wasn't really receptive to them either—traveling to the US was very difficult at that time and a very hostile environment for the Irish. They encountered racism and immigration problems beyond even today's comprehension. Businesses would frequently hang up signs that said “Irish need not apply” in every window. Still, my ancestors persisted and survived where many did not. Their stories are just a few in our shared Irish-American ethnographic history, that is filled with so many others just like them. With many sacrifices, the blood, sweat, and tears of the Irish-Americans quite literally built a lot of what makes up the United States today. My grandfather always said that “if anyone knew about overcoming persecution, it was the Irish and their hundreds of years of repression, poverty and adversity.” He was always very proud to be a part of a culture that had overcome immense struggle and that our family had never given up or given in to self-pity. When I think of celebrating our Irish heritage on Saint Patricks day, this is what I think of. It’s why I am and always will be proud to call myself a “Murphy” after those before me. 


The very sad "Famine statues", located in Custom House Quay and the Dublin Docklands in remembrance of the suffering. The look of these statues actually gives me the chills.

Saint Patrick's day is evidence that you can take the Irish out of Ireland, but you can’t take Ireland out of them. What is now an Irish national holiday, was once a more solemn religious day where the pubs were all closed. Irish Immigrants to America actually decided to change all that and celebrate their shared heritage with a more festive day instead—more like the one we all know and love today. Until the late 20th century, St Patrick's Day was often a bigger celebration among the immigrants in Northern America than it was in Ireland. That’s why the celebrations of this day in the States rival the celebrations in Ireland itself. You should see the way my home city of Chicago explodes with the most St. Patty's Day parties per capita in the world—It's nothing but bar crawls, celebrations, and the color green everywhere. They even dye the whole Chicago River green that flows through the middle of the city!


The Chicago River Dyed Green (img cred: Travel & Leisure) You can watch a time lapse video of them dying it on youtube here!


What every bar in Chicago practically looks like on St. Pats (image cred: CBS News)

St. Patrick's day is now the most celebrated national holiday world-wide due to Irish Diaspora (the migration of the Irish). Though the drinking and costume takes more of a center stage these days, and the fact that it's been adopted as national holiday for Ireland, the history of it is really more about the uniting and celebrating of a people that were once forced to flee their home country. It's representative of their grit in overcoming that immense adversity. It's a day my ancestors and others like them created to keep their collective culture alive in a new life accross the ocean. I believe that it’s definitely a holiday worth celebrating and something that anyone (even non-Irish folk) can appreciate, participate and take joy in. I hope that everyone this year, no matter where you come from, can put on some green colored attire, drink some good ole Irish alcohol, eat some Irish themed food, and party it up (even dance a little jig if you can) in celebration of the kindred Irish or Irish-American spirit in all of us. 

Here's the Best Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Stockholm 2019:
  1. At the Stockholm Saint Patrick's Day Parade
  2. At a local Irish pub: 
    Wirströms Pub
    The Liffey
    O'Connells
    The Auld Dub Stockholm
    Galaways
    Southside pub
  3. Or, any good local pub
    check out Thatsup’s list of all top Pubs in Stockholm
  4. At a Saint Patrick's restaurant event:
    1. Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (Note: this party is on Saturday the 16th. The bar is Closed on Sunday.)
    2. Farm Restaurant & Bar (Irish Menu, Stockholm Brewing Company beer, and music on the Friday the 15th, 4-11pm)
    3. Restaurang AG (has a Tullamore DEW sponsored whiskey event Thursday the 14th with live music)
  5. Gather your friends and go for a long boozy brunch out somewhere in the city (while wearing green of course!) Check out Thatsup's list of best brunch places in Stockholm!
  6. Or, you can always throw your own house party! ;)
    For all the Swedes who haven’t done so before: All you need is some Irish themed party food, decor, and a good St. Pats playlist from Spotify. And, last but not least, provide your guests with some Irish style drinks and “Sláinte!” (cheers!)
Minnesota Nice!

I'm back after over a month-long hiatus from the blog. As some of you may have noticed, I haven't been very active on Instagram the past few weeks either. I think that I just really needed to be "unplugged" this January and live life to the fullest (and not from behind a screen). I have been making a point to limit my screen time when I feel stressed by it. I think that the holidays, our traveling, wedding planning and my need to catch up on work this month really sent my head in a spin. So, I took a much-needed break.


Henrik and I thrilled to be at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport on the busiest day of the year, just a couple days before Christmas.

Now that things have somewhat settled—from the big blur I call my life between Christmas and today—I can finally get around sharing a little about my Minnesota trip from over the holidays! We had a big two and a half week trip to Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota—where my parents have recently moved to. For those who don't know, Minneapolis and St. Paul are two cities in Minnesota that have grown together over time, that are now only separated by a river. Saint Paul is a bit smaller, but it's the state capital and Minneapolis is considered the largest city in the state. Together, they are lovingly referred to as the “Twin Cities”. 


I didn't take a lot of photos of the actual cityscape, but I do have this one from downtown Saint Paul when the sun started to peak out! I've become such a Swedish sun worshiper, I had to take a picture—You don't really know what you have until you move somewhere and it's gone 1/2 the year!!!

For those who don’t know, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northern Michigan are basically the Scandinavian areas of the USA. It's where a lot of Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish immigrants have emigrated to in the past and surprisingly there is still a lot of Scandinavian culture to be found there. Did you know the funny accent that everyone lovingly laughs at from the movie Fargo? It actually originates from the original Scandinavian settlers in the area. The strange melody to it and their use of the word “Ja” when in agreement with something is so obviously Scandinavian when you listen closely to it. If you ever happen to encounter someone with a really thick version of it, I’ll tell you that it’s very hard not to crack a smile at the oddity of it. 

Fun fact: Something else Scandinavians can take credit for, that is something commonly known in the states, is “Minnesota nice.” I have to mention it, because it’s a phrase you hear often the US, that I didn't know it had anything to do with Scandinavia until recently. Though it's a “nice” sounding phrase, it actually kind of a slightly negative term in regards to the stereotypical behavior of people from Minnesota. According to Wikipedia “the cultural characteristics of "Minnesota nice" include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, passive aggressiveness, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation.” HAHA! Who does that sound like?!! Apparently, the ever controversial Laws of Jante, that have ruled in the northern European countries, have traveled across the ocean—even to people of non-Scandinavian descent! Crazy.


These pics are from a very European style bakery and cafe in downtown Saint Paul that we went to, called The Salty Tart. Everything was so delicious! My favorite was the egg sandwich. I felt like this place had a very Stockholm vibe to it.

With as many similarities that Sweden shares with Minnesota (including the weather) it still felt like I had come home to America. The food portions were huge and comforting, the shopping was plentiful, hugs were given out generously, and the air even smelled more familiarly like home. I even once admiringly said that “it smells like home” out loud to Henrik while walking downtown Saint Paul and he responded with “like french fries and gasoline?” and we both cracked up laughing. I think he was definitely noticing other more delightful American city smells than I was. Or, maybe it was just the smell of a big American city on the move—with gasoline and french fries in the mix—that gave me a whiff of the familiar. Either way, it brought back a few pleasant memories of city living in the states.


The Parlor Bar was one of the most delicious and greasy American style places we visited. I have not ever seen fries that big or a chicken burger that juicy in my life! I left feeling like I could slide out of here, but hey, it was a vacation.


I don't have any food pics for this (because it's hard to take pictures of your food in a dark theater), but there was the most amazing movie theater/restaurant called The Alamo Drafthouse, with huge reclining seats and a full menu and bar at your seat. They even had vegan food, all-day brunch, pizza, film-inspired cocktails, a TON of craft beer, bottomless truffle-parmesan popcorn, candy, etc. Seriously, check out the menu, it was crazy awesome. My fave was their vegan buffalo cauliflower bites! I never wanted to leave this place!!!


I had to get my much-needed Quesadilla fix at this cute little hipster eatery called Moose and Sadie's in Downtown Minneapolis. My mom and I popped in here for lunch on a long day of wedding dress shopping (that I will have to share more about later).


Of course, I had to look at what was trending on Instagram in the area and that's when I found the viral rainbow and gold-flaked barista drinks at Cafe Astoria. They were so mesmerizingly beautiful that we had to stop in to give them a try. But, wow, they were sweet! it was like drinking candy!!! (ask for 1/2 the amount of sugar syrup if you are ever in this place!) The crepes were really quite good though. The turkey pesto one (pictured above) wasn't very picture pretty, but it made up for it in taste.


The Minneapolis airport is so nice! There were many of their local eateries inside. It looked like a shopping mall! I was so surprised. Above you can see one of the popular local donut bakeries called Angel Food that had a place in the airport. I totally had to get a couple of delicious gluten-free donuts while making our way to the plane.

My parent’s new house, though different, still had all the same vibes to it that their last house did. I was telling people that I had “a little parallel universe experience” coming home this time because it was to a house that was a little like my parent’s old house, but not completely the same. And, because I went to a city that’s a little like Chicago, but also not really the same. Home is where the heart is though and I really don’t care where my parents live as long as I can always visit them often. <3


This was my mom and dad's Christmas tree this year. I was so happy to come home to it, them, and my sister—and of course all the nice Santa gifts. ;) The worst part about living so far away is being away from all of my family for most of the year.

So, to sum it up, for those of you who have made it to the end of this very long overdue update (thanks for that!), exploring a new American city was fun! I think that there were really so many more other places to see in the Twin Cities. I feel like we only really had time to graze the surface of what this city had to offer. I've already started following several more Twin Cities foodie Instagram accounts to look for inspo for where to go the next time we visit. Though nothing really beats a trip to Chicago and NYC in my book, it really was a nice place to go! If you are from Sweden, I wouldn't be surprised if any (or all) of you had a distant relative that you could go visit in Minnesota—as so many people here seem to. If you do, you should definitely head over that way sometime.

Two thumbs up for a nice trip to Minnesota!—We had a purely positive "Minnesota nice" experience. ;)