Friday, October 29, 2010

Oslo Quiltefestival 2010

Last Saturday morning I took the train and subway (by myself no less!) into Oslo for the Oslo Quiltefestival. It was fun to be among "my people" here in Norway! The show was not large, but there were some really interesting art quilts as well as more traditional quilts to see. Of course, I also enjoyed visited the vendors' displays, too, and found a couple of small kits to buy. Most of the quilting patterns and fabrics here come from the US and Australia, but there are some things done by Norwegian designers. Knitting has such a long tradition here, but quilting is becoming more popular as well. Here are some of the highlights from the festival (you should be able to click on the photos for a larger view):

Utsikt til Sudndalsfjorden by Magda Imregh, Oslo Quiltefestival 2010

The above quilt was featured on the promotional material. It pictures one of the most famous fjords on Norway's west coast, the Sudndalsfjord 
Fjellet Kaller, also by Magda Imregh, Oslo Quiltefestival 2010
by Ulva Ugerup, Oslo Quiltefestival 2010

Oslo Quiltefestival 2010, I think also by Uva Ugerup

Merete Ellingsen, Oslo Quiltefestival 2010

Close up of quilt by Marete Ellingsen.
Gorgeous machine quilting like this on the whole quilt!

Friday, October 22, 2010


As the Professor and I went to bed last night, we caught a glimpse of the first snowflakes falling. It was just below freezing, so they were the huge flakes that just float down. This morning we had some very excited kids and about and inch or less on the ground. You can see it is a lovely day, sunny and clear, but the snow has been hanging on so far (it's about 11 am as I write this). I'm enjoying that particular brightness that comes when the ground is covered with reflective white. No doubt this will pass quickly, but it is a taste of things to come!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Frogner Park and Vigeland statues

Entrance to Frogner Park in Oslo

The weather on Saturday was clear and sunny, so we made another trip into Oslo to visit Frogner Park and the Vigeland statues. Gustav Vigeland was a well-known Norwegian sculptor who made an arrangement with the city of Oslo. In exchange for a well-equipped studio and support from the state, he would create this beautiful sculpture garden. There are 192 bronze and granite sculptures here, made from 1924-1943. Vigeland planned the sculptures and executed them in plaster. Then he supervised his assistants as they sculpted the copper and granite. They are all nudes, and they portray different periods of life and different relationships. Many are very playful. 

Bridge lined with copper sculptures

The initial bridge is lined with copper sculptures. On the far side is a center fountain surrounded by more copper sculptures portraying stages of life.

I particularly loved this "flying girl" near the fountain.

The center of the park is the 50 foot monolith carved in granite. It is 121 human figures carved out of a single block of stone.

I especially enjoyed the sculpture groups that featured children. 

And this father/mother/infant sculpture was particularly touching.

After viewing the sculptures, we had time for a picnic lunch and playtime at the Frogner Park playground. It was just a wonderful fall day to be out (and lots of other families had the same idea!).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More adventures with food

So, the Professor and I have seen variations of this "pudding in a box" advertised heavily on TV. It didn't sound or look appealing to us, but the kids desperately wanted to try it. It is just what you might imagine, pre-made pudding sold in a box. We thought it might look somewhat more appetizing served scooped out rather than just cut into squares (see the front of the box). Admittedly, the red raspberry sauce doesn't do anything to improve the looks! The verdict? Only Boy summed it up best, "It's not very chocolatey, it's just brown!" It isn't creamy like the puddings we know, it has more gelatin and less flavor. They sell a vanilla sauce that might taste slightly better on chocolate, although we have found the raspberry sauce is very good on vanilla ice cream. Chalk this one up to: probably won't try that again!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What we learned about Lefse

Sorry about the poor quality photo!

While at the Norwegian Folk Museum, we were able to see a demonstration of lefse making (and, of course, enjoy some fresh lefse ourselves). This was made the old fashioned way, on a large, flat griddle placed directly over the fire. We learned that there are several types of lefse, not just the potato lefse that we Scandinavian Americans eat at Christmastime. This woman was making "mørlefse"  which is soft and sweet. It is made from eggs, flour, sugar, melted butter, buttermilk, and baking powder. You do roll it out flat, but not nearly as thin as the potato lefse we are more familiar with. She told us that this would be made for special occasions, like weddings or holidays, because it has sugar and butter in it, which were traditionally more expensive. The potato lefse would have been less expensive to make, because it doesn't have sugar in it. There is also a lefse that is used wrapped around a sausage, like a flat version of a hotdog bun! We have seen this for sale at the grocery stores. I would imagine this type doesn't have the sugar added either.

Another interesting tip she gave me was to use barley flour when rolling out the dough. Apparently the barley flour doesn't get incorporated into the lefse dough as easily, so it keeps it from sticking. I think this is something like using cornmeal to roll out pizza crust. As soon as I figure out the Norwegian word for barley flour, I'm going to try this out!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Norwegian Folk Museum

Saturday, we ventured out to explore the Norwegian Folk Museum. We saved the inside museum, featuring cultural exhibits and handicrafts, for another day and opted to explore the park area. Buildings from all over Norway and from different time periods have been moved here and reconstructed to give a taste of Norwegian history and culture. We particularly enjoyed one city building that featured about 4 or 5 apartments, each with furniture and decor from a different era (1905, 1930, 1950, 1979, and present-day). We also had fun peeking into the log homes and farm buildings.
The candy shop, also selling potatoes grown the "old fashioned" way here at the museum

The fall colors are at their peak now.
One of the apartments--children's room from 1905, I think. The dollhouse on left was amazingly detailed.

Storehouse from a mountain farm. Notice the sod roof and log "stilts" to keep it dry.

Interior of an old farmhouse. I cannot imagine doing all the cooking on a corner fireplace like this. The homes are very dark inside and must have been dreary in the long winters.

Wow, a table we could all fit around! Made from almost full length wood planks.

This is a contraption for ironing. You wrap the cloth around the roll and then "press" with the flat wood piece. The carved wood "iron" was a traditional engagement gift from a young man. It was carved to show off his skills. If the young woman accepted the gift, she indicated she was accepting the marriage proposal.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Sunday we ventured into Oslo again to visit A, a friend of a friend (her dad lives next door to my brother) and to get a glimpse of the Holmenkollen Ski jump. The plan was to meet them at the top of the hill/mountain that overlooks Oslo where the jump is located. We would then stroll down, view the jump, and continue on to their home in the neighborhood just below. (As she put it, "if you take the jump, you land on our house"!) Alas, Norwegian weather intervened. It was grey when we started up on the bus and misting when we got to the top of the hill. It turned to an honest-to-goodness rain as we started down on our walk.

I hope to get back again to take better photos, because the jump itself was quite impressive, and the views of Oslo and the fjord would be amazing on a clear day. This is the one shot I took as we went by at a brisk walk. You can see the jump--to either side are stands for spectators, as well as directly in front of the landing area (which is not wholly visible in this shot). There is even a glass-enclosed viewing area. The whole site is under construction in anticipation of the World Championships to be held here in February 2011. There are two ski jumps here now, with plans to build smaller ones as well that can serve as training grounds to help revive the sport. When it is not under construction, I believe you can take an elevator up to the top.

As we rode up on the bus, we went around the back way and got a good look at the top of the jump (the steep part). Middle Child remarked, "I don't think I would want to do that." Thank Goodness! I thought.

We arrived at their place thoroughly soaked despite our raincoats, but she managed to find dry clothes for most of us. We enjoyed soup and bread and waffles along with good conversation. (Waffles are a favorite snack here--A served them with jam and the unique Norwegian brown cheese, a surprisingly good combination!). A is an American who married a Norwegian and has lived here for, I think, going on 20 years or so. They have a daughter the same age as Young Teen.

What I've been up to

Without my volunteer activities and the need to drive kids around for school, lessons, and what-not, I have had a little more time here to enjoy some of my hobbies. Quilting is pretty tough (didn't haul along my sewing machine, although there is one here at the house), but I did bring along my knitting bag. My first completed project is this sock (see above). I've never knitted socks before. I was a little intimidated, because knitting on multiple needles is not my favorite thing. However, this was not actually that hard. Thanks go out to my sister-in-law, M, who gave me the yarn and pattern last Christmas (!). The yarn is really soft and comfortable (Merino wool, bamboo, and nylon--Serenity sock weight by Premier yarns, if anyone wants the specifics). I started this last June when we made our scouting trip to Norway. It got put aside back in the states, but I picked it up again after we arrived here. At this rate, I'll have a pair by Christmas! Or maybe into the New Year?? The feeling of accomplishment is a bit dampened by the realization that now I have to knit another sock.

I took a break from socks to experiment with this "pom-pom yarn," which seems to be all the rage here (it's in all the yarn shops we've seen, which admittedly is about 3 so far). Grace saw it first and had to have one of these scarves. You knit it on big needles (size 12), and just kind of adjust as you go so the knitting stitches end up between the pom poms. Casting on was a big headache, but once I got going, it wasn't all that difficult. The fuzzy bits are soft like chenille, so the scarf has a lovely soft feel to it. I've not been keeping up with yarn in the states, so maybe some of the knitters out there can tell me whether this is a European thing or available more broadly? It comes in lots of fun colors, some bright and some more subdued like this blue/green. Even found red, white and blue at one store, but then when I think of it, those are Norway's colors, too!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Norwegian Traditional Dresses

Today we spent some time at a local shopping mall (The kids have a week-long autumn break. According to our 4th grader, this is a holdover from the agricultural days when children had a school break in autumn to help with the harvest). Outside the Husflid store, known for fine Norwegian knits and woolens and other high-end souveniers) they also had a display of these traditional dresses, or Bunads. These are still worn for special occasions. When our neighbors celebrated the confirmation of their oldest son (a very big deal here-- parties and gifts like high school graduation in the US), one of their gifts to him was his own national costume (not sure what it is called for the men). It is traditional for girls to receive their costume when they are confirmed, boys often don't get one until they are older, according to my nieghbor. Parents as well as many, if not most, of the Norwegian guests at the ceremony also wear their traditional outfits.

I hope to get much better photos next spring when we celebrate 17th May--the Norwegian version of Independence Day--when all will be out for parades, etc in their traditional costumes. The bunads pictured above all looked to be hand-embroidered on wool. They are worn with a white dress blouse and some kind of brooch, usually intricate silverwork from what I can tell. The dresses above sell for $3000 to $3500 US. The type of bunad you wear is determined by where your parents lived, so there are different variations for the different regions.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Boxes have Arrived

Some of you know that we have been waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for the boxes we had shipped via ocean freight. The boxes travelled via UPS from our Houghton shipping shop to Chicago, then rail freight to New York, then ocean freight to Oslo. We had to pick them up down at the port in Oslo. Paul had a rather interesting experience trying to get through customs red tape. He needed to get customs to clear the freight before he could pick it up. Unfortunately, he forgot to bring his passport the first time he went (downtown Oslo). However, he also found out he needed to have proof of employment in Norway, and written verification (his offer letter) from his employer. Frustrating to say the least, particularly because he had a colleague drive him downtown, expecting to have 12 boxes to pick up. Well, we arranged with a neighbor to take him the next day, and thankfully things went very smoothly from there. One of our neighbors works with an export business and was able to help him know specifically where to find the shipping company.

It was a little like Christmas around here as we unpacked and found things from home (some that we had forgotten we had even packed). Mostly the boxes held winter clothes, boots, and our sleeping bags. But we also had some books from home, a few toys, and some kitchen supplies. Now we feel like we are truly settling in.