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Slikkepotten Picnic
Katrine and I got the keys to our brand new shop on March 1st. We celebrated by having a little picnic in the new place with our families.
Keys!

It’s not much right now, but we hope to turn it into something fantastic!

Here’s to Slikkepotten kakebutikk!

 

Slikkepotten kakebutikk

Probably the biggest event of early 2014 for me and Chris was the announcement that Chelsea's Cool Cakes was merging with another company, Spiselige Kunstverk, to form Slikkepotten kakebutikk.

The merger had been a long time in the planning and finally came to fruition in March of 2014. Here's a little background:

Last year was mainly focused on getting Chelsea's Cool Cakes up and running as a functional business. It was a ton of work, but it finally got going! Then, sometime in the summer, my friend Katrine (who was running Spiselige Kunstverk, an online webshop importing and selling cake decorating supplies and classes) was helping me with a huge cupcake order and we were discussing our business goals and stresses. Somehow, we got on the topic of possibly merging our two companies to form a bigger company and take the stress out of running a business all by ourselves. I was initially quite skeptical of the idea, as I had put so much work into officially starting Chelsea's Cool Cakes and it had only been up and running for a few months, but over the next few weeks as we continued discussing it, it seemed like a better and better idea. So, after a lot of prayer and soul searching on my part, we officially decided to go for it.

We started looking at potential locations and figuring out all the nitty gritty legal details surrounding opening a new incorporated company. It was a very loooong process. After about 20 different names, we finally settled on Slikkepotten kakebutikk (Sleek-eh-poht-en cock-eh-boutique). A “slikkepott” is the Norwegian word for a rubber spatula used for baking and “kakebutikk” directly translates to “cake shop” so in English the name would be The Rubber Spatula Cake Shop. It doesn't sound so great in English, but “slikepotten” is considered a cute word in Norwegian. We get compliments on our name all the time here in Norway (in the US we get mostly raised eyebrows ;) )

After many locations fell through for various reasons, we finally locked one down in Sandnes, a town just south of Stavanger (just like Provo/Orem or Las Vegas/Henderson for all you guys back home). It was previously a chocolate shop so it was already setup quite well for our style of cake production. We got the keys on March 1st and started the intense process of semi-renovating it and making it our own, officially having our Grand Opening on March 22nd.

Slikkepotten's business model is designing and producing custom cakes, importing and selling cake decorating supplies, and teaching courses and masterclasses. It has been quite the journey getting it up and running, and even though at the time of writing this it has been open for a full six months, I feel like it still has a VERY long way to go. It has honestly been a rollercoaster of a year regarding the business. Even though I think giving up Chelsea's Cool Cakes was a fantastic decision (it has been SO SO SO much better having someone else to help run the business and opening Slikkepotten has given us so many more resources to expand both of our original business ideas), I'm still not sure I'm enjoying the process of being a business owner. I simultaneously feel immensely proud at what we have accomplished so far, and immensely stressed and overwhelmed by all there still is to do. At least once a week I feel excited by what the future has in store, and at least once I week a feel like all I want to do is quit.

Overall, it has been A LOT of very hard work and long, long hours with a lot of sacrifices on both my part and Chris' (I could NEVER have pulled this off if it wasn't for Chris' help and support. That definitely needs to be said). We're slowly plugging along though and hopefully good things continue to be in store for our little business! There will be many more posts on Slikkepotten kakebutikk in the future, I just wanted to use this space to give a little background before confusing you with details.

Stay tuned!

 

February 2014

2014 got off to a very busy start with work, so not a lot actually happened for most of January/February. At least not a lot that was super worth of photo documentation. But here are a few highlights from February:

 

A big French anti-submarine warfare naval vessel, the FS Primauguet, made a port of call in Stavanger for a few days and offered free open tours during certain hours. We gave it a romp with our friends, Carrie and Kjetil, and their kids.

 

 
Downtown Stavanger is beautiful, even in the middle of winter.
 
And lastly, after MANY failed attempts, I finally managed to make decent homemade corn tortillas! We can't find true corn tortillas here in Norway anywhere, and fish tacos just aren't the same with flour. They were a TON of work, but I'm excited we finally have something useable for special fish taco occasions :)

 

The Dreaded Lutefisk

One of the most common questions we get asked about living in Norway is, “What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten there?” I think there’s just something about foreign countries that invokes images of strange and exotic foods and people have some strange desire to hear about it and get grossed out.

Norway definitely has some pretty strange foods compared to the US. A lot of it’s weirdness stems from the bygone necessity of preservation back in the old days. I tell you, Norwegians came up with the most creative ways to preserve and reconstitute food I have ever seen. There’s this salmon called “gravlaks” which literally translates to “grave salmon”. Traditionally, it was salted, buried in the ground, and left to ferment until it became super pungent and strong tasting. Yum.

Another one that is pretty common here in Southwestern Norway is lutefisk. Lutefisk is cod that has been hung out in the open air and dried for months like so:

Photograph by Peter Prokosch
The dried fish is then soaked in water and then in lye for a week until its structural proteins dissolve and it becomes a sort of fish-jelly (lutefisk directly translates to “lye fish”). Since now the fish is caustic from soaking in the lye, it is soaked again for another week in cold water to make it edible. THEN it is boiled or pan-fried until translucent and served with mustard, potatoes, and mushy peas. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?? I want to go back in time to meet the first guy who thought, “Hey, what if I soaked my dried cod in toxic lye? Think it would be delicious?”

 

For some reason, lutefisk is a pretty traditional Christmas dish in this part of Norway. We’ve been hearing about it for years so we decided that this year was the year we were going to give it a try. Some good friends of ours really like it and eat it every Christmas, so we went with them to City Bistro which supposedly serves the best-prepared lutefisk in town. We figured if we were going to try reconstituted fish jelly, we might as well do it right. Apparently, it’s reputation is sound because you have to reserve a table for lutefisk in advance and when we tried a few weeks before Christmas they were fully booked until January! So we had a post-Christmas lutefisk celebration this year.

We were too apprehensive to order the full main-course lutefisk so we split the appetizer version. Our friends thought it was hilarious to watch “the Americans” try it for the first time.
But you know what? We actually really liked it! We were very surprised based on the horror stories we’ve heard, and we can only attribute it to the fact that we supposedly had the best-prepared lutefisk in town. But it was seriously enjoyable to eat and when we were served our main courses (catch-of-the-day and reindeer) we regretted that we only ordered the lutefisk appetizer. I think we’ll definitely be making this an annual Hill Christmas tradition!
And now we have a really good answer to the “what’s the weirdest thing you’ve eated in Norway” question :) Next on our list is smalahove (Google image it if you dare!)

 

 

January

Here are a few random photos from January, just for memory's sake.

We had a big power outtage in our apartment (but strangely not at the main house upstairs) during a big rainstorm shortly after New Years. We had one working outlet in our bathroom and nothing else for a full day and night before we figured out that the wind had pushed rainwater into an electrical outlet outside and as a result shorted out the rest of the power. Chris braved the storm to rig up a plastic bag cover to protect the socket from the torrent and we were left to wait it out until it dried enough to allow us to flip the circuit breakers. It was actually rather cozy despite having to rig up an extention cord from the fridge to the bathroom. It gets dark around 4:30 in January, so without mindless internet distractions we ended up going to bed so early!
The weather is one unexpected downside of our new place. At out old apartment, we were near the entrance to the main fjord and were therefore pretty sheltered. Out here though, there is only a short stretch of farmland between us and the ocean so we get the full power of the North Sea when it decides to be ornery. It means a lot more wind and sideways rain than we were anticipating. But we still think it's worth it for the view!
 
Still getting settled in. I think this was the third time we moved the bookcases around.
Skittles won't eat sweet potatoes if we put them in her food dish, but set MY bowl down within reach and she gobbles them right up. Future toddler training?
10am sunrise from Chelsea's Cool Cakes.
Some miscellaneous wintery shots from a walk downtown.