Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ask a Former FBC

In the July 2014 issue of Viking magazine, we talked with former Sons of Norway Financial Benefits Counselor Sverre Aasgaarden. After nearly 30 years of working with members, Aasgaarden hung up his FBC hat in January 2014. But as a member of Bernt Balchen lodge in Pennsylvania, the Norway native still has plenty of advice to offer. Check out the article on page 10 of Viking’s July issue. Here is more from the interview.

Q: Tell us a little about your background. How did you come to the United States?
A: I was born in Norway—just outside of Tønsberg, which is 70 miles south of Oslo. I moved to New Orleans in 1978. I was working at that time for the Norwegian government Seamans service. I spent a couple of years in New Orleans, then ended up in Vancouver, BC. Sons of Norway then approached me. I’d been moving around the world for the past 20 years with postings in places such as Kuwait, Singapore, London, Rotterdam and Liverpool. I then ended up in New Orleans and Vancouver. I was looking forward to trying to settle down a little bit. It was a great experience moving around. Sons of Norway was an interesting proposition. I finally said yes and jumped right in.
No regrets.

Q: How old were you when you first came to the United States? 
A: 38 years old.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in Sons of Norway during your career? 
A: One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is actually in Viking magazine. It has taken a dramatic change over the years to become a very, very good magazine. The articles every month on the financial benefits are excellent. As an organization, I think we’ve become more structured, more all-inclusive. Today, we manage to reach a far bigger audience than we did in the past.

Q: Have you noticed a difference in what members request or need from you as a FBC? 
A: Members are more aware of what we do. We still have quite a ways to go there. We need more benefits counselors throughout the country to cover the lodges better. The counselors today do an excellent job of keeping the membership informed. But there are still some gaps in coverage throughout the country. Home office is doing a great job. One of the things we’ve always been very good at sons of Norway is to update insurance programs, and we are very competitive out there.

Q: Now that you’re retired will you continue to be active in your lodge? 
A: I’ll be active. I hold a couple positions in the lodge. I’m auditor, and I’m involved in the lodge’s scholarship program.

Q: Do you return to Norway very often? 
A: Every second year I try to make a trip. I have two brothers there.

For more information on Sons of Norway’s financial products, check out the Finance section in Viking magazine monthly and visit the “Financial Products” page of the Sons of Norway website.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pettersen Swings into Second

Norwegian professional golfer Suzann “Tutta” Pettersen may have struggled with back pain earlier this season, but she’s back on track. This past weekend, she took second place at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. American Mo Martin edged Pettersen out by one stroke. Check out this video of Pettersen commenting on her performance.

This month, Pettersen graces the July cover of Viking magazine. Turn to page 15 to see our interview with her. She started playing golf at the age of 6 in Oslo and turned professional in 2000. The article also features a lot of wonderful information on the best places to golf in Norway, including the course Pettersen grew up playing on—Oslo Golf Club Bogstad.

Next month, Pettersen will be competing in the United States and Canada. Be sure to keep an eye on her competition schedule and follow her on Twitter for all the latest updates.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nordic Gifts for Newlyweds

Wedding season is in full swing! In the July 2014 issue of Viking, we rounded up some Nordic-inspired gifts for the newlyweds in your life. Here are a few more ideas.

Heart Cake Tray, $14. Ingebretsen’s. ingebretsens.com 

Nobel White Wine Glass, $45. Scandinavian Design Center. scandinaviandesigncenter.com

iittala Kastehelmi Dewdrop Clear Cake Stand, $95. FinnStyle. finnstyle.com

Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook, $34.95. Williams-Sonoma. williams-sonoma.com 

Sagaform Taste Serving Set, $44.95. Scandinavian Gift Shop. scandinaviangifts.com

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Norway's National Dish

In a recent survey done by Norway's Ministry of Agriculture and Food and research firm Ipsos, Norway's national dish was named. Fårikål (mutton stew) received 45 percent of the vote in all regions of Norway expect along the west coast. Other dishes that topped the list of favorites include meatballs, potato dumplings and lamb ribs. Fårikål has been Norway's official dish for more than 40 years.

Want to try it out? Here's check out this Fårikål recipe. Here, Norwegian chef Andreas Viestad prepares the dish.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More with Tord Gustavsen

In the July 2014 issue of Viking, we featured Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen. He performs with his trio and quartet groups, and is an integral part of the Norwegian jazz scene. Next month, catch him performing at the Oslo Jazz Festival. Here's more from the interview.

Q: When did you become interested in making music your career?
A: I have more or less always played the piano. My father gave me the gift of music when I was very little. We improvised together, and I started making up small songs of my own from the age of 4. But it took many years before I considered music as a full-time career. My first years of university courses (psychology, sociology and religious studies) were really interesting and fulfilling. Then I studied performing arts in Trondheim. I received a theoretical Master’s degree in musicology, diving into the psychology of improvisation.

Q: What are some of your musical inspirations?
A: The main ones include Norwegian folk music (both the complex dance forms and the lullabies), French Impressionist composers, Flamenco, Persian music, Lutheran hymns, American gospels and American contemporary jazz.

Q: What were some of your most memorable performances? 
A: The concerts this year in Saint Peter’s Church in New York City and in the spectacular new SFJazz Center in San Francisco stand among the highlights. Also, playing at the Philharmonic Hall (Konserthuset) in Oslo in 2005 was a very special experience for us, as was the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Now, what we are especially looking forward to is performing in the new Oslo Opera House in August. We're opening the Oslo Jazz Festival with a commissioned work there. We're really excited about that.

Q: What places in Norway would you recommend to visitors? 
A: Grünerløkka in Oslo is relaxed, urban living, and the new Opera has stunning contemporary architecture. August is really the month to visit Oslo for music, with the jazz festival followed by a really good chamber music festival and a world music festival, too. Visit Bergen for a beautiful historic city center, which is also close to spectacular nature and fjords.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ingebretsen's: Supporting Heritage and Sons of Norway

Sons of Norway is pleased to announce that Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts has joined the 2014 International Convention family of sponsors!

Founded in 1921, Ingebretsen’s is the Twin Cities’ oldest retail business dedicated completely to Scandinavian foods and products. It’s been family-owned and operated for more than 90 years and it's a local institution. For generations it has remained a neighborhood market and meeting place - a source of familiar faces and reliable goods. It is also a stop for visiting dignitaries and celebrities, and a popular destination for a steady stream of regular folks and tourists who are just passing through town.

At Ingebretsen's, the neighboring countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland live quite harmoniously under one roof. In the meat market, Swedish sausage lies amiably next to its Norwegian and Danish counterparts. Lefse mingles with lingonberries. Sardines are next to herring. Next door, in the gift shop, Finnish crystal sparkles on a shelf with Danish porcelain and Icelandic ceramics. Sterling jewelry from Norway rests near linens from Sweden. Visitors of all nationalities will enjoy many rich and varied examples of Scandinavian culture.

What’s even better is that Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts has a great online shop for anyone who lives outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul community! With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can order everything you might need for the Christmas, Syttende Mai, birthday gifts, or “just because” gifts for your favorite Norwegian!

I hope you will take a moment to visit their website and support a great local company that has supported the Norwegian American community for nearly a century.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cruising the Northern Lights with Borton Overseas

Have you ever wanted to see the Aurora Borealis up close? How about witnessing the sleek beauty of whales or the areal ballet of migrating sea birds? If any of these excursions sound intriguing, then you’ll definitely want to know about the new Aurora Borealis Cruise Including Spitsbergen & Bear Island from International Convention sponsor, Borton Overseas!

On this 7-day cruise, you will explore the natural beauty, the history, and the flora and fauna of the Arctic region, which has been the destination for explorers, researchers, and visitors from around the world. The wildlife viewing is breathtaking: a walrus sunning on a beach or a lone seal on an ice floe; a polar bear bounding across the tundra or taking an afternoon swim. In September you will have the opportunity to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) at sea and while on land. You’ll leave with a feeling of admiration for those who make this region home, and for those who explored before you!

Over the course of the week-long trip you will visit Oslo, Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Bear Island, the Barents Sea, and Tromsø.

To learn more about this amazing journey, visit Borton Overseas’ website by clicking here. If this trip isn’t to your liking, don’t forget that Borton offers nearly 175 ready-made itineraries and endless possibilities for custom journeys! And don’t forget, members who book their travel through Borton Overseas are eligible for a 5% discount!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mix Diskerud Playing in World Cup

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup is captivating sports enthusiasts around the world, keep an eye out for Mikkel "Mix" Diskerud. You may remember seeing him in the April 2013 issue of Viking. Diskerud is midfielder for the U.S. World Cup team. The 23-year-old grew up in Oslo and has been playing soccer since the age of 5. With an American mother and Norwegian father, he's eligible to play in both the U.S. and Norway. He's one of the sports rising stars and plays for Rosenborg Ballclub in Trondheim.

Follow Diskerud on Twitter, and check out this video to get to know him better.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Music Festival Round-Up

Looking to listen to some live music this summer in Norway? From jazz to rock, here are a few upcoming music festivals to check out.

Kongsberg Jazz Festival 
July 2–5, 2014
Performances by: Stevie Wonder, Jarle Bernhoft, Jamie Cullum

Molde International Jazz Festival 
July 14–19, 2014
Performances by: Ylvis, Jarle Berhoft, Waldemar 4

Bukta Tromsø Open Air Festival 
July 14–19, 2014
Performances by: Patti Smith, Mari Boine

Øya Festival 
August 5–9, 2014
Performances by: Outkast, Janelle Monáe, Todd Terje

Oslo Jazz Festival 
August 11–16, 2014
Performances by: Tord Gustavsen, Lill Lindfors

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Peaceful Countries

The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks nations according to their level of peace based on 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators, such as level of safety and the extent of conflict. Europe is the most peaceful region, with small stable democracies, including Nordic countries, ranked very high. Norway ranks #11 out of 162 countries. Here's a look at the world's most peaceful countries according to the 2013 Global Peace Index.

#1 Iceland
#2 Denmark
#3 New Zealand
#4 Austria
#5 Switzerland
#6 Japan
#7 Finland
#8 Canada
#9 Sweden
#10 Belgium
#11 Norway
#12 Ireland
#13 Slovenia
#14 Czech Republic
#15 Germany

Learn more about the study and search for specific statistics by country at Vision of Humanity.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Royal News!

According to a new poll by Norstat on behalf of NRK, 82 percent of Norwegians say they support the royal family and do not want another form of state. This is an all-time high, as polls have historically shown that 60-70 percent of the population supports the monarchy. Norway’s recent bicentennial may be a reason people are more engaged in the monarchy than usual.
Princess Ingrid Alexandra
Photo: Sølve Sundsbø, the Royal Court

Have you ever wanted to visit the Royal Palace? As summer kicks off, guided tours are available to the public in both Norwegian and English. Tours at the Royal Palace in Oslo run from June 21-August 17, 2014. Tours at Oscarshall run now through September 14, 2014. Check here for visitor information.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sons of Norway Welcomes New International Convention Sponsor

Sons of Norway is pleased to announce that Borton Overseas has joined our 2014 International Convention family of sponsors as our Official Travel Sponsor. This is very exciting news, and further strengthens the relationship that has long existed between Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas.

For many years now, Borton has offered all members a 5% discount on packages booked through them. In recent years, Borton has also been the title sponsor of Sons of Norway’s Norwegian Experience recruitment contest, which awards an all-expenses paid trip of a lifetime to Norway to one member and their guest.

For these reasons and many more, Borton Overseas is a valued Sons of Norway partner and we encourage you to take a moment and visit their website to learn about all the great travel opportunities they offer. Not only do they have a number of great travel packages, their staff of Scandinavian experts can help you create a custom travel experience to help you and your family connect with your roots.

Just imagine spending a family vacation on an arctic king crab safari, or a biking trip through Norway, or spending a relaxing vacation at Borton’s own Trollstigen Resort in Andalsnes. All these opprotunities and more await you when you visit our International Convention Sponsor at www.bortonoverseas.com.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Oslo Designer

In the June issue of Viking, we caught up with designer Hallgeir Homstvedt. The Oslo native opened his furniture, interior and product design studio in 2009 and exhibits his work around the world. Homstvedt’s Kavai chair (pictured above) was awarded the “Elle” Decoration Award in the category “Chair of the Year by Norway for 2013.”

Here are a few more thoughts from Homstvedt:

“Being in a positive state of mine has always helped me to be open-minded when approaching new tasks in life, as well as influenced my designs.”

“What I like most about my job is that I get to be involved in the whole process—from the original sketch, to an early prototype or computer model. In the end, hopefully it ends up in someone’s living room or office.”

Check out a few of Homstvedt’s designs below and visit his website for more information.

Herman Clock. Photo: Christian Nerdrum

DUO Sofa

Tangent vases. Photo: Christian Nerdrum

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Norwegian Experience: Flåm railway

As part of winning this year's Norwegian Experience recruitment contest, Candice Jacobson was treated to a ride on the famous Flåm railway, which took her and her guest from Oslo to Flåm. Thanks to the great folks at Borton Overseas, Candice had a great view of some of the most stunning sites along the way!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Norwegian Experience: Bergen

In continuing the coverage of this year's Norwegian Experience winner's trip to Norway, we have a photo set from their time in Bergen. From the looks of it, Borton Overseas really planned a great trip!

First we have a panorama of the Bergen Harbor. During her stay, this year's winner took a walking tour with a local guide.
This photo highlights the narrow alleyways in the Bryggen area. Note the visually interesting architecture and the way the light plays on the colors of the buildings.
Here we see the delicate lines of one of the three-masted training ships in the Bergen Harbor.
No trip to Bergen would be complete without the breathtaking views of the Sognefjord.
As you can see, this trip of a lifetime has taken our winner to some amazing locales. I think it's safe to say Borton Overseas has really outdone itself this year!