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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!

Ç'est la vie!

Was this the most amazing Swedish summer ever, or what!!? I can’t believe how hot it was here. Like genuinely HOT! 🔥🔥🔥 That's not usually something you can claim about Swedish weather.

My fiancé, Henrik, and I have typically taken on the habit of spending some of the summer break months abroad; however, by an unusual stroke of luck, we didn’t plan anything this year. It was the first summer we have spent entirely in Sweden, and I couldn’t be more happy about it! We are currently planning a very extravagant wedding and really needed to save up. So, we decided to have a “staycation” here in Stockholm. At the beginning of July, when all of our friends left for a bunch of awesome Instagramable destinations and we stayed home, I have to admit that I did have a little FOMO initially. Yet, something in the universe must have been on our side.

Henrik and I had the most awesome summer together. We became home-town tourists and explored Stockholm like never before. WE DID IT ALL! We hiked, swam, picnicked, picked our own flowers at Ulriksdal's Trädgård (pictured above,) and walked all over the whole city. We even escaped on several fun day trips.

Norrköping is one of our favorite day trips to take outside of Stockholm—year round! It only takes about a two-hour drive from central Stockholm to get there. This pretty river walk view (above) is just one many of the fun things to see.

Norrköping also has one of our favorite burgers ever! If you ever make it to Burgers and Bangers, try "The Coolio," It has Swedish Västerbotten cheese on it and is insanely good. The owner told us that it used to be on their regular menu but they took it off. Then, people kept asking for it, so it's now on their "secret" menu.

This cute little outdoor garden inspired summer bar in Norrköping (above) is called
Trädgår'n. It's the perfect location for drinking a crisp summer rosé while
sitting outside in the sunshine. I highly recommend a visit!

After this glorious summer, I’ve realized that sometimes you should just take things as they come. Say “Ç'est la vie!” and move on with your day (or month) and make the best of it. Occasionally the universe does have your back and things can turn out for the better. Thanks, universe! 💫✨

💖Kramar 💖