Sankta Lucia! Saint Lucy.

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Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

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Feasting and celebrating begin on December 13 with Lucia Day, which legend says is the longest night of the year and a time when man and beast need extra nourishment. A Lucia (Queen of Light) is chosen and is dressed in a white gown with a crown of candles in her hair.  As she enters a room, she carries a tray with coffee, rolls, ginger biscuits, and occasionally “glogg” (a mulled wine).

A train of white-clad attendants or handmaidens accompany her. The girls wear glitter in their hair and carry candles. The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

The attendants deliver the food while they sing traditional Lucia carols.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme:

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

What’s your favorite tradition?

Many thanks to http://www.worldholidaytraditions.com

You can learn more about me by visiting my website. Barb’s Books Goodreads Twitter

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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I have always wanted to see the Macy’s Parade from Central Avenue instead I have to tune into the television. Watching the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” is an annual tradition. While most American’s tune in on television, millions even flock to the streets in New York City each year to see the giant floats in person.

The parade started years ago and has been a staple of the Thanksgiving holiday ever since. It was in 1924 that the parade, originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” and started by company employees, first kicked off.

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Rather than using giant floats, live animals from Central Park Zoo were marched through New York City’s streets, a Macy’s history timeline recounts. By 1927, Macy’s was already using floats.

The event became so popular that the company decided to make it an annual tradition. But when war struck in 1942, the parade was put on a hiatus until 1944 due to a national helium shortage. The balloons were donated to the U.S. government at the time to offer up scrap rubber.

When WWII ended, though, the tradition simply grew in popularity, with Macy’s claiming that up to 3.5 million people now arrive in person to see the floats each year, with an additional 50 million watching on their television screens.

 

Relax, and enjoy your family and the parade!

To read about the books I write, here’s the link to my website: Barb’s Books

Fall Train Travel

Have you ever rode a long journey on a train? It’s a blast.

My love for the train goes way back to my grandpa who had been an engineer for the Milwaukee Road and drove the Hiawatha from Minneapolis to Chicago and points beyond. My dad loved the train. He brought me twice to Chicago over the Thanksgiving long weekend when I was fifteen and sixteen years old.

Minneapolis Milwaukee Depot

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Looking out across the plains and watching the world go by will always be in my memory. I remember riding in the dome car and eating in the dining car as well as having a soda in the lounge.  Both trips, we spent two nights in Chicago. Dad knew his way around Chicago. We traveled all over the city via the L-train. It was so much fun to be alone with my dad.

 

The old depot in Duluth, MN, also has train rides. One year for our anniversary, we rode the pizza train! It brought us to and from Two Harbors, traveling along the coast of Lake Superior. It came so close to the water, that I swear I saw fish swim.

When my husband and I went to Norway and Sweden, we took the train to northern Norway, transferred to a ferry and then enjoyed the fjords. The trip was marvelous.

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Currently, my husband and I are planning a train trip across the Canadian Rockies in 2018 onboard a train. I’m excited.

My historical mystery is set on a Zephyr train during the fall of 1943.  A body is found in the Chicago rail yard. Come and ride along with the passengers and enjoy the dining car and lounge while my two characters, Brita and Ron, search for the killer.  It is titled, BODY ON THE TRACKS.

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Haunted Lizzie Borden’s House

Halloween is not Halloween without all the spooks and goblins. Tis the season to discover where to go and spend the night. Doing so, you should be completely scared.

The first place I thought of was the Lizzie Borden house. I didn’t know it was a Bed and Breakfast, which makes it all the more fun.

 

It’s located in the city of Fall River, Massachusetts. When the first Mrs. Borden passed away, Lizzie and her sister became distant from their father. When he remarried, they certainly didn’t care for their stepmother. This brings a whole new meaning to the word, ‘step’. Lizzie was thirty-two years old on August 4, 1892. First she took an axe to the maid, then her father, and lastly her stepmother. However, it wasn’t proven so she was acquitted.

 

Several rumors of seeing the spirit of Lizzie Borden, who died in 1927, have been documented. There are also claims of moving objects.

After the trial, Lizzie and her sister purchased a substantial size house. I think the sister was scared for her life and thought she’d better do exactly what Lizzie wanted.  I bet she didn’t sleep one wink until her death.

If you’re looking for a place to become rightfully spooked on Halloween, this might be the bed and breakfast for you.

 

Source:  http://www.haunted-places-to-go.com/haunted-lizzie-borden.html

Here is a link to my website: Barb’s Books

 

Time for fall colors!

Now that our children are grown and have children of their own, my memories come forward and lead me down memory lane.  The fun fall days come to mind of raking leaves and hearing them crunch underfoot and now our grandchildren enjoy the same activity.

 

When our two boys were young, we’d rake leaves and pile them high, then run and jump into them. Did you see the word, we? Yes, I’d run and jump into the high dried leaf piles with them, and do it all over again.

With our children, we’d gather fresh fallen leaves and press between wax paper and then tape on the windows.  They’d look just like stain glass windows and so pretty.  I would also place the leaves between sheets of paper and color.  The many varied shaded patterns made great placemats for Thanksgiving.

We also had neighbors who enjoyed getting together in the evening. We’d all gather at the Olson’s, and have hot chocolate and a bonfire. What a treat! Everyone loved it. We’d roast marshmallows and this is where I learned about smores.

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Returning home last weekend after babysitting the young grandchildren, we took a side road. The beautiful oranges, reds, and gold fall colors always made me smile.

All those wonderful memories. This is my favorite time of the year. What is yours?

You can read all about me in my website:  Barb’s Books

 

 

NATIONAL POTATO MONTH!

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With September, comes the colder temperatures so when I found that it’s National Potato Month, I knew I’d have to write about the wonderful eatable spuds.

 

This is what I found out, thanks to Wikipedia:

The potato is a starchytuberous crop from the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosumPotato may be applied to both the plant and the edible tuber. Potatoes have become a staple food in many parts of the world and an integral part of much of the world’s food supply. Potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following maize(corn), wheat, and rice. Tubers produce Glycoalkaloid in small amounts. If green sections (sprouts and skins) of the plant are exposed to light the tuber can produce a high enough concentration of glycoalkaloids to affect human health.

So now you know the scientific long and short of a potato.

Besides being a little fun to say, here’s so many ways to fix one.

First: you must say POTATO 3x really fast.  See? Wasn’t that kind of fun!

There’s boiling, mashing, baking, frying, deep frying, and salads to name a few. Let’s not forget soups, stews and the loveable potato skins and chips! There’s lots and lots of seasonings to spruce up the spuds. I love removing the done potato from the skin, mashing it with garlic, and then placing it back inside the skin!

Here’s a few good pictures to get your mouth watering and tummy ready for a good potato!

 

If you’d like to read more about me or purchase a book, here is the link to my website: Barb’s Books

LABOR DAY!!

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Labor Day is on the first Monday of September every year. It was originally organized to celebrate various labor unions’ strengths of and contributions to the United States’ economy.

About Labor Day

The first Labor Day was held in 1882. Its origins stem from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. After the parade, a festival was to be held to amuse local workers and their families. In later years, prominent men and women held speeches.This is less common now, but is sometimes seen in election years. One of the reasons for choosing to celebrate this on the first Monday in September, and not on May 1, which is common in the rest of the world, was to add a holiday in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, we’d pack up and go for a drive up north. Sometimes, we’d visit farm relatives for the three day weekend, but not always. The farm was always fun because my brother and would climb on the haybales or else create havoc while our uncles did the milking. Since we lived in Minneapolis, the farm held much to discover and enjoy.

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However, Mom and Dad loved to fish. We’d load our fishing poles and off we’d go to a small lake north of Minneapolis near McGregor. We had relatives there, too, who had a cabin. That was always fun.

What does your family do for fun? How about visiting a National Park or go for a bike ride? Get out and enjoy the great outdoors and relish in the day. You deserve it!

You could sit outside and read a good book!

 

Here is the link to my website where you can find more good books!  Barb’s Books