We Are Moving … But Just Our Blog Site

Hello to our loyal blog subscribers. Ingebretsen’s is moving its blog from one host to another. You will receive notices as before but we want you to know that it will be at ingebretsens.com rather than the current site that is ingebretsens.wordpress.com.

See you at the new site. First post is due on Monday — all about waffles!


The Ingebretsen’s Blog Staff

Liz Bucheit: Telling Stories In Gold And Silver

On Saturday, October 6, from 10 to 2, Liz Bucheit  of Crown Trout Jewelers will be at Ingebretsen’s for Strut Your Sølje: Repair and Refurbish Your Silver Jewelry. Liz will help you to identify your jewelry, and provide information on how to care for it. She will also give estimates on repairs. At noon, she will give a talk on the history of sølje, a fascinating story that speaks to trade networks in Viking times and the surprising mobility of medieval merchants and artists.

 Liz will also be offering Sámi-inspired bracelet classes on October 20 and November 3 at Ingebretsen’s main store. Click here for more information.

Liz Bucheit’s favorite quote is from Austrian composer Gustav Mahler: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Liz Bucheit

It took studying the designs and jewelry of other cultures for Liz’s own fire for Norwegian metalworking tradition to ignite. It’s now burning brightly as Liz creates remarkable jewelry born out of her Norwegian heritage and using time-honored techniques. She has won awards, grants, and international recognition for her mischievous Huldra Wear, fantastical tiaras and filigree work, and contemporary takes on wedding crowns.

Liz’s interest in jewelry-making started her freshmen year at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. “The program required students to try out different media. I took metalsmithing and it was the cat’s meow,” she says. Jewelry and metalsmithing incorporated all the art elements that Liz loved – drawing, sculpting, painting, and design – under one umbrella. She completed an M.A. in jewelry and metalsmithing, “studying jewelry and design from all different cultures except my own,” Liz says. Continue reading

Norway Has A National Cat

Meet the Norwegian Forest Cat, sometimes known as a Wegie. This cat is one of the most popular pet choices in Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden. King Olaf V of Norway designated the Norwegian Forest cat the country’s national cat.

It is believed that these cats were brought by the Vikings to Norway during the early Middle Ages from the British archipelago, and they became accustomed the Scandinavian cold climate – kind of like people who move to Minnesota from Florida. This is why their fur had grown rather long compared to that of other breeds (of cats not people from Florida).

From Pinterest

A breed believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old, the Wegie was the cat of the Vikings. It is believed that their ancestors served on Norse longboats as mousers during Viking raids. And when not being used at sea, these cats were prized in medieval Norway for their hunting talent, especially in regards to climbing, and they became indispensable pets on farms.

Breeders from Finland describe the cat as the “mystic wildcat of the fairy tales.” Several Nordic legends depicts these cats’ ancestors as mountain-dwelling fairy cats with an incredible climbing skill. The Norwegian forest cat is featured in fairy tales and legends, one being that the Norse goddess Freya’s chariot is pulled by giant cats. One place you can read more about Freya is here. I think it is one of the best posts I’ve seen written about her. Continue reading

It Was A Dark And Nordic Night

If you like to read mysteries and detective books but haven’t checked out Scandinavian writers you are missing some great books.

The detectives in Scandinavian crime fiction share many attributes with their American and British counterparts. Many are unkempt, unhealthy and sometimes fatalistic characters, but are nevertheless humane and brilliant sleuths.

They are often set in what is often called “Brooding Landscapes.”

Ingebretsen’s has a Mystery Crime Book Club that meets once a month. Here are some of the Scandinavian writers we have been reading:

The first book we read was Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø. Nesbø is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers, with his Harry Hole novels. Blood on Snow was not part of the Harry Hole series and was interesting in it’s use of first person from the view of the hit man.

Before becoming a crime writer, Nesbø played football for Norway’s premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs ended when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen. After three years military service he attended business school and formed the band “Di derre” (‘Them There’). They topped the charts in Norway, but Nesbø continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night. When commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole crime novel, “The Bat.” Continue reading

Nordic Fare at the State Fair

Minnesota State Fair Archives

Minnesota State Fair is “The Great Minnesota Get-Together.” It is the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance. It is also the second-largest state fair in the United Statesby total attendance, trailing only the State Fair of Texas, which cheats by generally running twice as long as the Minnesota State Fair. The Minnesota State Fair was named the best state fair in the United States in 2015 by readers of USA Today.

For those of you who are going to the Minnesota State Fair before it closes on Labor Day you might want to check out a few Nordic treasures:

Nordic Waffles founder/CEO Stine Aasland. (Courtesy of Nordic Waffles)

Nordic Waffles

New at the State Fair is our favorite waffle entrepreneur, Stine Aasland. Her stand is located in the West End Plaza where you can find fresh-made waffle wraps in seven varieties: All-Day Breakfast (egg, bacon & cheddar); Berries & Cream (raspberry & strawberry mixture with vanilla cream); Cinna-Sugar Butter (cinnamon, sugar & butter); Slammin’ Salmon On-A-Stick (Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese & green onions); S’More (marshmallow crème, crumbled graham crackers & Nutella); Turkey Chipotle Club (turkey, bacon & mixed greens with Sriracha mayo sauce); and Vegetarian Viking (black bean veggie burger, cheddar cheese, mixed greens & chipotle sauce).

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Lingonberry Ice Cream Stand

Featuring lingonberry ice cream and ice cream soda. It is at the SE corner of Carnes Ave. & Underwood Street. Featured here. And if you can’t get enough lingonberry, there is … Continue reading

Cycling Through Scandinavia

From The Royal Library, Denmark

There are many ways to tour Scandinavian countries. You can take a cruise, go by train, take a tour bus. But one of the best ways to really see these countries is on bicycle. The summer season may be drifting away, but a bike tour in Scandinavia will require planning.

This week’s blog will point you in the right direction to find out more information about cycling in the Nordic countryside and cities.

(Disclosure: Freedom Treks, Bicycle Touring Pro and Culture Trip websites are linked here. They sell tours, books, maps and other items for cyclists. Ingebretsen’s does not endorse these companies or tours, we are simply supplying information and a link so you can check it out yourself. If you like cycling check out some of Ingebretsen’s cycling-themed items here.)

Freedom Treks gives us five reasons to love cycling in Scandinavia. The five reasons are:

  • World Class Cycle Routes
  • Unrivalled Scenery
  • Cultured Cities
  • Authentic Food and Drink
  • Welcoming Locals

Another company, Bicycle Touring Pro, has created a video called “Cycling In Scandinavia – What You Need To Know.” It is a long video (nearly 90 minutes) and I would suggest it only for those who are seriously considering a long trip. The speaker on the video finished a 2.5-month-long bicycle tour in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

I also suggest the blog TravellingTwo where they answer 10 questions about cycling in Scandinavia. Continue reading

Who Is Ove and Fredrik Backman?

Official photo from Simon and Schuster

Meet Fredrik Backman. The most popular Swedish author since Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” series. If you haven’t heard of him you have probably heard of his first book “A Man Called Ove.” (In Sweden it is titled “En man som heter Ove.”)

Ove, is a lonely curmudgeon who screams at his neighbors for parking in the wrong place and punches a hospital clown whose magic tricks annoy him. Six months after his wife’s death, he’s planning to commit suicide and has turned off his radiators, canceled his newspaper subscription and anchored a hook into the ceiling to hang himself. But he keeps getting interrupted by his clueless, prying neighbors. He strikes up a friendship with an Iranian immigrant and her two young daughters, who find Ove’s grumpiness endearing. It’s a wonderful story.

When American publisher Atria bought the rights to Ove they knew that Backman didn’t fit into any obvious genre mold, and “there was no guarantee that his whimsical, oddball sense of humor would appeal to Americans. Atria was cautious at first and printed 6,600 hardcover copies, a decent run for a debut novel in translation.”

Sales were slow at first. But the novel got a boost from independent booksellers, who placed big orders and pressed it on customers. The Book Bin in Northbrook, Ill., sold around 1,000 copies, largely based on word-of-mouth recommendations.

Ingebretsen’s also carries Backman’s books. We know you can go to a certain online bookseller (who shall remain nameless) or big box stores and get the books. As always we appreciate your business and hope you will visit us in the store or online to get your Backman books. You can find his books here.

Before we go on, since the title “A Man Called Ove” is used quite a few times, let’s start with a lesson on how to pronounce “Ove”:

I remember it by thinking “groove-ah” without the “gr.”

Backman got the idea for “Ove” when he was freelancing for the Swedish magazine Cafe. A college dropout, he worked as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so he could write during the day.

One of Backman’s colleagues at Cafe wrote a post about seeing a man named Ove explode with rage while buying tickets at an art museum.

Backman said:

“My wife read the blog post and said, ‘This is what life is like with you,’ I’m not very socially competent. I’m not great at talking to people. My wife tends to say, your volume is always at 1 or 11, never in between.”

After that Backman started writing blog posts for Cafe about his own pet peeves and outbursts, under the heading, “I Am a Man Called Ove.”

According to an article in the New York Times:

Fredrik Backman got tepid responses when he sent out the manuscript for his debut novel, “A Man Called Ove.” Most publishers ignored him, and several turned it down.

After a few months and a few more rejections, he began to think perhaps there wasn’t a market for a story about a cranky 59-year-old Swedish widower who tries and fails to kill himself.

“It was rejected by one publisher with the line, ‘We like your novel, we think your writing has potential, but we see no commercial potential,” said Mr. Backman, 35, who lives outside Stockholm with his wife and two children. “That note I kept.”

Continue reading

Góða ólavsøku! (Good Olaf’s Wake!)

Today, July 29th, is St. Olaf’s Day. We’re talking St. Olaf the former king of Norway and one of the Catholic church’s saints – not St. Olaf the college or St. Olaf the fictitious home of Rose Nylund of The Golden Girls. It commemorates the death of King Olaf II on July 29, 1030. (It is spelled both Olaf and Olav.)

Olaf II Haraldsson was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. He was posthumously given the title Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae (English: Eternal/Perpetual King of Norway) and canonised at Nidaros (Trondheim) by Bishop Grimkell, one year after his death in the Battle of Stiklestad on July 29, 1030. His remains were enshrined in Nidaros Cathedral, built over his burial site. His sainthood encouraged the widespread adoption of the Roman Catholic/Christian religion among the Vikings and Norse in Scandinavia. He became the topic of many folk legends.

Olaf’s canonization was confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1164, making him a universally recognized saint of the Roman Catholic Church, and a commemorated historical figure among some members of the Lutheran and Anglican Communions.

The saga of Olav Haraldsson and the legend of Olaf the Saint became central to a national identity. Olaf was a symbol of Norwegian independence and pride. Saint Olaf is symbolized by the axe in Norway’s coat of arms and Olsok (July 29) is still his day of celebration. Many Christian institutions with Scandinavian links as well as Norway’s Order of St. Olav are named after him.

The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav (Norwegian: Den Kongelige Norske Sankt Olavs Orden; or Sanct Olafs Orden, the old Norwegian name) is a Norwegian order of chivalry instituted by King Oscar I on August 21, 1847 and named after St. Olav.

The Order of St. Olav is Norway’s only order of chivalry. The Grand Master of the order is the reigning monarch of Norway. It is used to reward individuals for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity. Since 1985, appointments to the order has only been conferred upon Norwegian citizens, though foreign heads of state and royalty may be appointed as a matter of courtesy.

Since the 900th anniversary of St. Olaf’s death (1930) Norway declared the date an official flag day.   If you live in the Faroe Islands you get the day off work – they celebrate it with boat races, concerts and a procession of school children. In fact, Ólavsøka (literally “Saint Olaf’s Wake”) is the biggest summer festival in the Faroe Islands, and by most Faroese considered as the national holiday of the Faroes along with Flag Day on April 25. There are all sorts of outdoor activities including a gigantic chain dance:

The salute for Ólavsøka in Faroese is Góða ólavsøku! (Good Olaf’s Wake!).

If you like to hike, you can take the pilgrimage route called Saint Olav’s Way. It’s 640km (about 400 miles) and starts from ancient parts of Oslo and goes all the way north to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The Pilgrim’s Route, (Pilegrimsleden) starts in the ancient part of Oslo and heads north along the lake Mjøsa, up the Gudbrandsdal valley, over the Dovrefjell mountains, and down the Oppdal and Gauldalen valleys to end at the Nidaros Cathedral. There is a Pilgrim’s Office in Oslo which can give you advice and directions . There’s another Pilgrim Centre in Trondheim which awards certificates to successful Pilgrims upon the completion of their journey.

People all over the world are commemorating Olsok today, be it by raising a flag or a drink – we’re brought together to celebrate a unique piece of Nordic history and be grateful for all that has come of it.

And, of course, we can’t have a post about St. Olaf without a St. Olaf story from our favorite Norwegian, Rose Nylund:

And here’s to the St. Olaf Woman of the Year:

Góða ólavsøku!

Have A Midnight Sun Picnic (Or A Late Night Picnic)

It is the end of July, the Minnesota State Fair is in the news, back to school ads are on TV, major stores have large sections of school supplies, and “I’m bored,” is heard more often by parents than a few weeks ago. Yes, we are on the short side of summer now.

So it’s time to enjoy the warm and longer days while we can. One of the great traditions of summer is the picnic. Whether it’s simply taking your lunch to a park and eating on a bench, or gathering every relative you never knew you had and meeting at a local park for a family reunion, or a dinner in the backyard with a few friends and family members – picnics are part of the summer fabric, especially in places known for colder weather. You know places like the Scandinavian countries and the frozen four (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas).

Here’s an idea for a different kind of picnic – a midnight sun picnic. People in Nordic countries often embrace the midnight sun by having outdoor activities all night long — including picnics. Even though we don’t have the midnight sun here, with the addition of some candles, torches, lanterns, and even that new fangled invention called electricity you can have a late night picnic. (And by late night that can be anywhere from 7:00 to 10:00, as long as we are done in time to watch the news and get a good night’s sleep.)

Every picnic has four necessary components: tasty bites, an easy main course, plentiful drink and a little game time for family fun. (Plus, in Minnesota at least it should also have some sort of insect repellant and something to keep the napkins from flying away.)

Tasty Bites: Put out the standard items like fruit, veggies, chips, cheeses but for a Scandinavian touch maybe add some flatbreads or Uff da Chips.

Main course: It’s a picnic so, of course, that means BBQ. Stock up on anything you want to BBQ. There’s actually a word in Norwegian ‘grillmat’ that means anything that can throw on the grill. You can get hamburger, old-fashioned hot dogs, and other items to grill at Ingebretsen’s market. Stop in and ask the guys behind the counter for suggestions. If you serve hot dogs make it a lefse dog – it is much lighter than a standard bun.

Plentiful drink: Sodas, beer, lemonade, and maybe this is the time to try Aquavit, the spirit of Scandinavia.

A little game time for fun: Klubb by Moonlight sounds like a wonderful time. Or that favorite Scandinavian card game: Gå och fiska (go fish).

Picnics are great fun, but can have many challenges too:


Hope you get a chance to have a lot more picnics this season, before it’s too late.