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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
    The Auld Dub Stockholm
    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. ;)

The Viking Cold

I'm finally taking a moment to sit down and update the blog a little, in the midst of all my pre-Christmas chaos. I honestly have had so much going on the past couple of weeks that I feel like I haven't had a moment to myself until just now. I have even caught the crazy winter cold that has been going around Stockholm (you know the one that starts in your throat and feels like you swallowed broken glass?) and still haven't been able to settle down. The worst of it is over now, but this cough just won't quit! It's driving me crazy. It's like totally impossible to ride the subway in this city or walk around in the cold and wet Stockholm weather and not catch some kind of nutty virus. I swear, one person in this city gets sick and then it's game over. It rapidly spreads to all the 100 something subway stations and beyond.

I actually think a lot of foreigners like me tend to catch colds here even more easily than native Swedes and have a really hard time fighting them off. I don't know if it has something to do with the difference in germs, viruses, and lack of built-up immunity, or whatever, but when I first moved here I caught like 3 colds in a row and was continually sick for a solid 3-4 months. It was no joke. At the time, I had also heard this rumor of a Polish girl in the school for my Swedish language studies who kept catching these "Viking colds" (as I now call them) for a solid 12 months in a row! Apparently, she got so fed up with being sick that she supposedly moved back home.

Luckily, I am way too stubborn to ever let something like a little illness take me down. So, I'm still here in Stockholm a good seven and a half years later fighting off this dumb Viking cold. However, I think my immune system has built up a bit better against these naughty nordic germs through the years. I actually think whatever I caught this time could've been much worse. I might have even had this same virus strain before because this illness wasn’t nearly as bad as some other doozies that I have had here in the past. I really can't imagine being an immigrant here before the time of antibiotics and modern medicine—or Facetime so that I can visually whine to my mom in the states about how icky I feel when I'm sick. I would've totally been dead several times over by now. I love watching a good period piece and admiring the old-time dresses on TV every once in a while, but that thought alone makes me super glad we are about to hit 2019 pretty soon—fashion be damned.

I haven’t ever caught the Vinterkräksjukan” (the winter vomiting disease or Norovirus) that everyone here talks about, thankfully. I literally just had to knock on my wooden table three times after I wrote that sentence in superstitious protection against it, because it’s so scary. It sounds like THE WORST thing ever. You supposedly feel sick, have vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, headaches, and a fever!? It’s like the only thing that illness is missing is some kind of itchy rash and blood coming out of your eyes. NO THANK YOU! Because I was just googling it, I thought I would just share that “The best way to protect yourself against it is to wash your hands, at home as well as at work. Liquid soap is better than hand sanitizer.” according to Sveriges Radio (Sweden’s radio). I couldn’t in good conscience keep that information to myself. So, save us all and wash your hands with real soap people!!!

I’m actually really happy to be hopping on a plane in a few days to head to my parent’s new house in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the holidays. They have just relocated from Chicago and I haven’t even been to visit them there yet! I am planning on it being a few weeks of just maxing, relaxing, hanging with the fam and exploring a new city that Henrik and I have never been to. Supposedly Minnesota is like the Sweden of America because that's where all the Swedish immigrants first settled. It's apparently still a very Scandinavian influenced area of the US. So much so, that my mom actually called me from the grocery store by her house because she was so shocked at the amount of pickled herring (sill) and crispbread (knäckebröd) on the shelves. I think Henrik is probably going to make a killing, being an authentic imported Swede walking around there. Haha!

Sometime during my trip from "Sweden,Sweden" to "Sweden, USA" I’m also hopefully going to be able to rest enough to finally kill off this stupid cough I still have. If anything, Momma Murphy will totally know what to do to nurse me back to health. Mom always knows best. To be honest, she will probably just sit me down and force me to drink more green tea with coconut oil in it. Ever since the woman read a book called “The Coconut Miracle” she is convinced the stuff will cure anything. I just know It’s going to be a very coconut oil covered Christmas break if she has anything to do with it.

If you want to see a bit about my trip to Minneapolis in Minnesota, stay tuned to my Instagram account @slightly.swedish! I know I won’t be able to resist posting a few Instastories or pictures here and there at the very least. I will definitely try to blog a little more about my travels and adventures when I get back though. This is going to be my last blog post of 2018, so I am going to sign off now and wish that you all have happy and healthy holidays and a great New Year!

A Swedish-American Adventure!

Hej hej allihopa! (Hi everybody!)

This is the first official post on my blog! WhoooHoo!!! I am so excited to go on this awesome blogalicious adventure and share with you my everything! But, before we get into all that, let me first introduce myself.

My full name is Heather Ann Murphy. I am an art director and designer, originally from the United States. Growing up, I have been blessed to have lived in about 12 different places, from all over the US; a few of them including Kansas City KA, Dallas TX, Atlanta GA, Orange County CA, Iowa City IA, Chicago IL, Long Island NY, and Manhattan NY. Whew! I know, it’s a lot. 🙃 Both of my parents and my sister still live in the US and I miss them a TON. ALL THE TIME! They have their own busy lives in Minneapolis and Chicago, respectively. My grandparents come from mostly Irish and Finnish descent (so, I do happen have a little Nordic blood in my veins!)

About ten years ago I met a wonderful Swedish architect named Henrik. We fell in love and I eventually followed him back here, to his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden. So, you can now also add it to the growing list of places I have called “home.” When I first decided to move here, a lot of Swedes would ask me stuff like “If you were living in New York City, why in the heck would you move to Stockholm!?” (Like it was a shocking decision to come here.) Aside from the obvious Swedish fetish with NYC, that I would come to learn, I have always been a bit surprised by that reaction. I just saw a cute, quiet, kind of old-world town that was such a lovely departure from the “rat race” I had just come from. Things moved a little more slowly, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I felt like I was initially just going on a great relaxing extended vacation adventure. Who knew I would eventually enjoy it here enough to stay for the long haul!? I even more recently became a fully fledged Swedish citizen. I still can hardly believe it. 

My Swedish citizenship was approved on Valentine's day! How cute is that?

I have really seen this little sleepy city transform into a booming metropolis over the seven-plus years I have been here. Soooo much has changed! There is this old joke about Chicago, that there are only two seasons; “Winter and construction.” That has now totally become Stockholm!!! Way to make me feel at home.🤣 This city can’t seem to build new places fast enough. The restaurant and tourism industry has just totally exploded. What I once thought of as a quiet old-world city has also transformed into one of the more forward-thinking tech capitals of the world. Not to mention, how much of Scandinavia is so #trendy right now! I mean, people had no clue where I was moving to all those years ago. If I had a dollar for every time someone said I moved to Switzerland…#%@?! And, yes, that cliché still lives on a bit, but not as much now that Sweden has become such a fashionable economy. 

There are a million architecture projects in motion in this city every day. Because Henrik is an architect, I get to hear all about it. Check out this new Skyscraper being built on Stockholm's northside! It's so gorgeous!

There are also new restaurants popping up in this city nonstop.
Check out the new Bonnie's restaurant inside the Bank Hotel. It's so pretty!

I look forward to sharing with you more about me and all of my experiences here in Stockholm. I hope you tune in and share all of your comments and feedback regularly.

You can also find me on newly created Instagram account @slightly.swedish, for more updates and extras!