Thursday, July 31, 2014

Family Ties

If you’ve wanted to dig into your family tree and learn more about your ancestors, summer is the perfect time to start! Check out the genealogy article on page 20 of Viking magazine’s August issue, where we feature ways to get started on your genealogical journey. Also highlighted are wonderful ways to display your findings—from modern genealogy charts to activities for the kids. We had the pleasure of including the founder of Creative Family Tree, Virginia Rufener-Angus, who creates customized family trees. Check out the interview on page 25 and read more below.

Q: What makes your particular method of displaying family history unique? 
A: I think my trees are unique in three ways. First, I focus on making each tree a work of art that can be proudly framed and displayed in a client's home. I make each tree one at a time, so I can customize background colors and designs to match individual decor and style preferences. I can also add features to a tree that emphasize family history. For example, I can add a map of Norway for a family with Norwegian history. I’ve created trees with the Declaration of Independence as a background for members of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution, and a tree with the Mayflower Compact for a member of the Mayflower Society.

Second, I’m able to integrate real images of an individual's ancestors in a way that maintains a uniform color design. Clients scan their own images and forward them to me over the Internet. I make these part of the overall family tree design in a way that is consistent with the unique and individual approach for that client. In this way, family resemblances and blending can be seen across generations at once.

Finally, I can have the final electronic files delivered for professional printing and delivery almost anywhere in the world. I can locate a professional print shop near to a client's destination and deliver an electronic file for printing. This limits the costs for shipping and handling of the final product to a minimum. Of course, within North America, I can have printed, framed and boxed products delivered to your doorstep from a variety of excellent suppliers. As well, I've hand-delivered prints to customers who live near by.

Q: How can our readers get started on gathering their family history and contacting you to create a customized work of art? 
A: Simply email me. I require the names and dates of individuals on the tree. I also require digital images of those folks for whom you want photos on your tree. These can be modern digital camera images or scans of old photographs. You do not have to have images for everyone on your tree. I can work with what you have.

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 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. 

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

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

Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook, $34.95. Williams-Sonoma. 

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

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.