Category Archives: holidays

May Day

I read a couple of advice columns every day – makes me feel better about my life choices. A couple of days ago, the advice seeker was complaining about how much work his wife was putting into preparing their kids’ lunches.  She has cookie cutters for decorating their sandwiches, debates with the kids about which items goes in which lunch box compartment, includes little notes.  The writer thinks this is a complete waste of her time.

I am that woman. When YA was little I usually had wheat bread and light wheat so that I could use cookie cutters to make dual-toned sandwiches.  Until she was about 11 we had some seriously over-engineered birthday parties with themed games, food and goodie bags.  (Child enjoyed these very much at the time although she says she doesn’t remember them well.)  I make little treats for my office mates on various holidays, send mountains of greeting cards; those of you in book club know that I can’t stay away from bringing a potluck item themed to the book we’ve read.  Can we say Pi Day?

This is not competition. In fact, when I meet someone who also likes to celebrate like I do, we usually end up comparing notes and collaborating.  I met a woman about 4 years ago who can outdo me with one arm tied behind her and she gave me a great tip.  Whenever you get a new stamp set or die, you have to make at least 4 cards with it before you’re allowed to put it away.  Life changing for me.  I sent her a thank you card.

So all of this is to say that today, about the time that today’s blog was being posted to the trail, I was sneaking around my neighborhood in the dark, delivering May Day baskets!

What would you like in your May basket (size is no object today)?


I baked 11 dozen sweet rolls for an Easter fundraiser at church to raise money to send our bell choir to New York in November.  The rolls were either cinnamon, raspberry, or blueberry filled, and were lavishly iced. I had 3 dozen left at the end of the day, and brought them home and made them into rusks. That involved cutting them in half, brushing them with melted butter, and baking them at 275 until they were crispy/chewy. They store really well.

I brought a bag of rusks to work on Tuesday. My coworkers  thought they were delicious,  but only one  had ever eaten anything like them before and knew what rusks were.

This puzzled me greatly, since I assumed that everyone would know rusks. I grew up with Zwieback and Dutch rusks.  Dutch rusks came in round packages with windmills on the paper covers, and my grandparents would pour broth on them to soften them up.  My coworkers are of German Russian and Czech heritage, and many of them grew up on farms, and I thought they would be familiar with a fine way to extend to life of stale bread.  The only one who knew rusks was a coworker of Danish heritage.  She said her grandmother used to butter stale bread and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and bake it. She didn’t know they were called rusks.

You would have thought I had brought in the most exotic pastry imaginable. I looked up rusks on the internet, and found that there are examples of twice-baked bread from the Philippines to Greece. I think that it was used extensively to extend the shelf life of bread on sea voyages. There are loads of rusk recipes in the Nordic Baking Book my son and dil gave me for Christmas. Perhaps rusks are more common the closer you live to the Baltic or North Seas. In any event, they demand more rusks at work.

What family or ethnic foods do you have a hard time explaining to other people? 

The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

Pi Day 2019!

It’s my personal holiday again today – Pi Day. Everyone at work knows that I’m off today to bake pies – even a couple of my long-term clients know.  I am allowed to use my “floating holiday” for Pi Day – my boss had it approved by management about 6 years ago.  I even have personalized napkins this year, given to me by a friend after last year’s celebration.

This year’s menu: Dutch Apple, Banofee, Root Beer Float Whoopies, Raspberry Tangerine, Pecan, Bob Andy, Blueberry, Almond Joy, Caramel Pear with Crème Fraiche, Key Lime Meringue and the addictive Crack Pie.

Hope to see those of you in the Twin Cities tonight!

What day would you like to be your floating holiday?

What Day Is It?

In December I picked up (on sale) the 2019 National Day Calendar: The Official, Authoritative Source for Fun, Unusual & Unique National Days. Thought it would be good for possible blog posts, but I’d kind of forgotten about it till now. I notice that March is full of them –  we’ve already missed:

– Read Across America Day – March 1, also called Dr. Seuss Day, and

– Fat Tuesday – March  5 – which was also Multiple Personality Day. (I wonder how you celebrate that?!)

However, we haven’t missed:

– International Women’s Day – March 8, of which you may be aware. And we know

– Pi Day – March 14 – is coming up next week, thanks to VS’ parties.

Here are more holiday highlights from the rest of March that you can still celebrate. I’ve found online explanations of how some of these “holidays” came to be. (I’m not taking time for details on all of these gems, so feel free to give us details on the ones I’ve neglected.)

 – Worship of Tools Day – March 11 ..“a day to go out into the garage, the tool shed, the storage closet or where ever it is you keep your tools. You can clean them, reorganize them, make something new with them or maybe go to the store and buy a new one.”

– Plant a Flower Day – March 12

– Good Samaritan Day – March 13

– Corned Beef & Cabbage Day – March 17   (not surprisingly)

– Awkward Moments Day – March 18

– Common Courtesy Day – March 21   (also French Bread Day)

– Near Miss Day – March 23 ..“an annual reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth.”

– Tolkien Reading Day – March 25 ..“organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.

– Joe Day – March 27  “Enjoy a cup of ‘joe’ with all of your friends named Joe, Jo, Josette, Joey, Joseph, Josephine, Johanna, Joann, Jodie or any variant of the name Joe every year”

– Take a Walk in the Park Day – March 30

What holiday do you wish we could celebrate? When on the calendar would you put it?

Birthday Raclette

YA loves cheese more than almost anyone I know. When we came home from China, I was prepared for the possibility that she would be lactose-intolerant; Asians have a higher percentage of lactose-intolerance than Caucasians.  I never needed to worry about it; as soon as YA began to eat solid foods, cheese was one of her favorites.

Cheese sandwiches, cheese fondue (her godmother makes a wicked fondue), cheese sticks, lasagna, curds, nachos.. if it has cheese, count her in. After I experienced raclette (melted cheese poured on top of food) in Switzerland, I got a raclette machine for us.  Pretty soon YA had an opinion on the difference between Swiss raclette cheese and French raclette cheese (she prefer the Swiss as it has more “bite”).

Every year for our Family Day celebration, she chooses a fondue lunch at the Melting Pot in downtown Minneapolis. She likes the original Swiss fondue recipe followed by a dessert fondue.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when she requested a raclette lunch for her birthday celebration – despite the fact that we almost never eat any meals together these days due to our conflicting schedules.

We had a nice salad of greens, pomegranate seeds, pears, walnuts and vinaigrette then the raclette! We like our melty cheese poured over cauliflower, little potatoes, baguette and also sweet gherkin pickles.  It was a wonderful lunch and I was happy to stay inside rather than go outside in the freezing temps.

Do you/did you have a favorite birthday meal request?

Holiday Highlights

Well, the holidays are just about over, and we are still in the thick of celebration. Our holidays started over Thanksgiving when we spent the week with our son and daughter in law.  Daughter arrived on the 26th. My best friend is due today, and we will have  feast on New Year’s Eve with her and daughter’s best friend. Then everyone heads back to Minneapolis, and we are left with the remains of the feast. I think I will be ready to face the new year.

What have been the highlights of your holidays? What have been some of the most memorable of your holidays?