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24 Festive Tasks: Door 17, St. Lucia's Day

Updated with more information about how Task #4 works.


Human Rights Day

Guy Fawks Night
Russian Mother's Day
veteran's and armistace day
St. Lucia's Day
Penance Day
Bon om Touk

dio de los meurtos
International Day of Tolerance
St. Andrew's Day

Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas Day

Melbourne Cup Day



St. Lucia’s Day, the festival of lights celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland on December 13 in honour of St. Lucia (St. Lucy). One of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia was killed by the Romans in 304 CE because of her religious beliefs.


In Scandinavian countries each town elects its own St. Lucia. The festival begins with a procession led by the St. Lucia designee, who is followed by young girls dressed in white and wearing lighted wreaths on their heads, and boys dressed in white pajama-like costume singing traditional songs. The festival marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia, and it is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year.  (source:


Tasks and Books

St. Lucia's Day

Task 1: In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it.


Task 2: Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: or prepare some other dish containing saffron.


Task 3: Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle.


Task 4: Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year? This works like the Melbourne Cup Pick Your Ponies task:  You get one point for guessing, and an extra point if you've guessed correctly -- which we'll reveal after Christmas (as this is how long the goat is *supposed* to survive).


For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent. It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat. Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled.


Book: Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year.



(Click "Read More" for the previous days' tasks and books.)

-read more-
Reblogged from Murder by Death
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 17-St. Lucia's Day
Day 17 -- St. Lucia's Day
Task 1: In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it.
Task 2: Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: or prepare some other dish containing saffron.
Hmm, containing saffron. That would have to be a paella, which I haven't made in a while--and can't do right now because DD is staying with us while she works on A Christmas Carol (which BTW, should go on the list of possible tasks for a future years: see a local production of ACC) and she can't stand the smell of fish and seafood (and I can't stand the complaining). But, come January, when she is gone, it is time to make one!
Task 3: Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle.
Task 4: Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year? For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent. It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat. Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled.
Okay, I have flipped my coin multiple times now and I say that it the new statistic will be 38 times in 52: the goat will go, in a blaze of glory, before its time --or equally correct, before it's time.
Book: Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 15 -- St. Nicolas/Sinterklaas Day
Day 15 -- St. Nicholas Day


@Task 1: Write a book wish list to St. Nick.
A first edition of Don Quixote with illustrations by Gustave Dore.
(I figure that with this one edition I am breaking the bank and pushing the envelope. so I'll just leave my wish list at one book--oh, and I would not turn up my nose at a first edition of the original 1605 publication, either.)
@Task 2: You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’:  one for yourself, one for your community (however you define it), and one for the world: What are they?
For myself: a round the world cruise that that stops in every country with a coastline (except for the smaller island nations of the world) no matter how long it takes. I like to travel but I don't like to keep packing and unpacking, so a cruise please.
For my community: single payer healthcare
For the world: an annual bonus to every teacher, nurse and paid caregiver that would put them into the upper 25% of salary and wages paid in their community, city or region. (Not well put but you get the idea where I am going with this).
Task 3: If your holiday family traditions should include bowls or plates filled with gingerbread, cookies, oranges / tangerines, chocolate, nuts and the like, share a photo with us!
Task 4: List your 3 favorite books involving children being rescued from serious peril.
@Book: with an orange or red cover or with nuts, chocolate or coins on the cover, set in The Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with canals or beer on the cover.
24 Festive Tasks: SUMMARY
24 Festive Tasks Point Summary
Tasks:   35          Books: 17
DAY 1 -- 2 + Cotillion 
DAY 2 -- 3 + 
DAY 3 -- 3 + I picked a winner + In the Frame
DAY 4 -- 2 + The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
DAY 5 -- 2+ Crossfire
DAY 6 -- 2 + Paris in the Present Tense 
DAY 7 -- 2 + The Accidental President
DAY 8 -- 3 + From the Friday the Rabbi Slept Late series 
DAY 9 -- 3 + The Boston Girl
DAY 10 -- 0 + Skinny Dip
DAY 11 -- 4 +Trial Run
DAY 12 -- 2 +
DAY 13-- 0 + Four Princes
DAY 14 -- 3 +        (duplicate: Paris in the Present Tense)
DAY 15 --2 + Serpent's Tooth
DAY 16 -- 2 +
DAY 17 -- 
DAY 18 -- + Cold Dish
DAY 19 --  +  Noir
DAY 20 --   +
DAY 21 --  + The House of the Unexpected Sister
DAY 22 --  + 
DAY 23 --  + Hogfather
DAY 24 -- + Safe Passage 
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 16 -- Human Rights Day
Day 16 -- Human Rights Day
Task 1:  Book hunt for human rights:  Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as (but not limited to): hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc.  Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting.  (5 book minimum).
Task 2:  This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are -- or can reasonably be assumed to be -- 70 years or older.
Task 3: The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you?
Task 4: Human Rights Day was declared by the U.N. General Assembly, whose seat is in New York City. Treat yourself to a Manhattan (classic recipe: ; virgin [non-alcoholic] recipes: , and ) or to a bagel or pastrami sandwich and share a photo with us.
A lament: I would love a pastrami sandwich but I want it on the kind of rye bread that we used to be able to get when I was growing up. Before the advent of plastic bags, rye bread had a thick crust that near to broke your teeth and the heart of the loaf had a coarse texture that held together right through to the last bite -- all of this unlike the stuff they are trying to pass off as rye bread these days, which is closer to a loaf of Wonder bread. 
I would love a pastrami sandwich but I want it made with the kind of pastrami we got when I was growing up -- made from a brisket and not from the round or even worse, the pressed meats that are being passed off as deli meats. 
The nearest place for somewhat decent deli is outside of Hartford CT. But even there, the sandwiches are nothing near approaching what we once could get in any of the delis we regularly frequented in my younger days. I still dream of those loaves of rye with the paper sticker from Gold Medal Bakery baked right onto the loaf and sandwiches so big I could not even get my mouth around them. 
Book: Read any book with strong female characters, or written by an author from any minority group; any story about a minority overcoming their oppressors either individually or as a group. OR: A book set in New York City.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 14 --Hanukkah
Day 14 -- Hanukkah
Task 1:  Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small - share your miracles with us!
The only things I can think of involve babies and there two stories to be told. The first story is of my grand nephew, the $2 million baby, who was delivered when his mother went into labor at 22 weeks. That she got to the hospital in time, that the boy had the determination to survive against the odds, these are miracles. The second is my grandson, a miracle of modern reproductive science. Beyond these two beautiful boys, all else pales in significance. 
Task 2: Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional).
Eight days. Eight candles. The ninth is there as a technicality, so that we may fulfill the requirement of the cerebration that the lights not be used for any other purpose than to celebrate the holiday. We call it the helper candle; it does all the work while the others just sit there.
So, eight things. I am thankful for the riches and blessings I have been granted: for the gift of life, for the freedom to think and belief as I do, for my husband and family, for good health, for dear friends, for good books and the time to read them, for the beauty in the world both natural and man-made and last but not least for bookish blogging and BookLikes buddies.
Task 3: Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo. Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine.
Okay, you have a donut but I'm having latkes.
Task 4: A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all?
Book: Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel.  OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century BCE; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title.
I just finished reading Mark Helprin's Paris in the Present Tense, a novel about a modern day French Jew,  born in 1940 to parents who are hiding in an attic during the Nazi occupation.  I originally read it for Tolerance Day but it fits here as well.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 13 -- Advent
Task 1:  Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade.
Task 2: The holidays season is in full swing – tell us:  What’s your favorite tradition?
Task 3: The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing ( Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!
Task 4: Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it. Instructions:
Book: Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.
I'm hoping that maybe I can get to book 4 in the Walt Longmire series that I just started with Cold Dish. I'm trying to do something for each square but that might not work out.
2018 Books -- 173 and counting
  1.  Devil's Cub -- re-read
  2. Decider -- re-read
  3. A Serpent's Tooth -- NEW82
  4. Trial Run -- re-read
  5. Skinny Dip -- re-read
  6. Safe Passage --re-read
  7. Paris in the Present Tense -- NEW81
  8. Dead Heat -- re-read
  9. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper -- NEW80
  10. The Rags of Time -- NEW79
  11. Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets --NEW78
  12. Noir -- NEW77
  13. Hogfather -- NEW76
  14. The Goodbye Girl -- NEW75
  15. The Cold Dish -- NEW74
  16. American Dialogue -- NEW73 History12
  17. The House of Unexpected Sisters -- NEW72
  18. Have A Nice Play -- NEW71
  19. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People -- re-read
  20. The Danger -- re-read
  21. Crossfire - re-read
  22. Cotillion -- re-read
  23. The Corinthian -- re-read
  24. A Convenient Marriage --re-read
  25. Come to Grief-- re-read
  26. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  27. The Chequer Board -- re-read
  28. Charity Girl -- re-read
  29. The House of Broken Angels --NEW70
  30. The Breaking Wave -- re-read
  31. Break In -- re-read
  32. Hi, Bob -- NEW69
  33. The Queen -- NEW68
  34. Bolt -- re-read
  35. Blood Sport -- re-read
  36. Black Sheep - re-read
  37. How Language Began -- NEW67
  38. The Boston Girl -- NEW66
  39. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd -- NEW65
  40. Titan --NEW64  HISTORY12
  41. Five Presidents -- NEW63  HISTORY11
  42. The Black Moth -- re-read
  43. Beyond the Black Stump --re-read
  44. Behold, Here's Poison -- re-read
  45. Bath Tangle -- re-read
  46. Emma -- NEW62 DNF
  47. English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable -- NEW61 HISTORY10
  48. Uncommon Type -- NEW60
  49. Banker --re-read
  50. Arabella -- re-read
  51. April Lady -- re-read
  52. One-Way Tickets -- NEW59
  53. My Adventures with God -- NEW58
  54. Master of Formalities -- NEW57
  55. A Week in Winter -- NEW56
  56. Romeo and Juliet: A novel -- NEW55
  57. Great Courses: 12 Essential Scientific Concepts -- NEW54 DNF
  58. Someday the Rabbi Will Leave --NEW53
  59. Single Malt Murder --NEW52
  60. Great Courses: Science Wars --NEW51
  61. Sacre Bleu --NEW50
  62. Great Courses: Heroes and Legends
  63. Lane -- NEW49
  64. Four Princes --NEW48 HISTORY9
  65. Steambath -- NEW47
  66. Prisioner on 2nd Avenue -- NEW46
  67. Great Courses: Classical Mythology -- NEW45
  68. Great Courses: America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era -- NEW44 HISTORY8
  69. Adam's Rib -- NEW43
  70. The Accidental President --NEW42 HISTORY7
  71. The Secret, Book and Scone Society --NEW41
  72. Great Course: The Rise and Fall of the British Empire -- NEW40 HISTORY6
  73. Lion (aka A Long Way Home) -- NEW39
  74. The Third Man -- re-read
  75. No Higher Honor -- re-read
  76. Eisenhower in War and Peace -- re-read 
  77. The Secret Life of Pronouns -- re-read
  78. What's So Funny -- re-read
  79. 10 LB. Penalty -- re-read
  80. Whip Hand --re-read
  81. Venetia --re-read
  82. The Unknown Ajax -- re-read
  83. The Unfinished Clue -- re-read 
  84. Twice Shy -- re-read
  85. Trustee from the Toolroom -- re-read
  86. Trial Run -- re-read
  87. The Toll Gate --re-read
  88. To the Hilt -- re-read
  89. These Old Shades -- re-read
  90. The Talisman Ring -- re-read
  91. Sylvester, ... --re-read
  92. Sprig Muslin -- re-read
  93. So Disdained -- re-read
  94. Smokescreen --re-read
  95. Shattered -- re-read
  96. Second Wind - re-read
  97. Ruined City -- re-read
  98. Round the Bend -- re-read
  99. Risk -- re-read
  100. The Reluctant Widow -- re-read
  101. Regency Buck --re-read
  102. Reflex -- re-read
  103. Rat Race -- re-read
  104. The Rainbow and the Rose --re-read
  105. The Quiet Gentleman --re-read
  106. Proof -- re-read
  107. Pastoral -- re-read
  108. An Old Captivity -- re-read
  109. Odds Against -- re-read
  110. No Highway -- re-read
  111. Nonesuch -- re-read
  112. Nerve --re-read
  113. The Masqueraders -- re-read 
  114. Longshot --re-read
  115. Lonely Road -- re-read
  116. Landfall -- re-read
  117. Steppenwolf --re-read
  118. Zorba the Greek -- NEW38
  119. The Virginian -- NEW37
  120. Three Men in a Boat... --NEW36
  121. Roughing It -- NEW35
  122. The Railway Children -- NEW34
  123. Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk --NEW33
  124. Lady of Quality -- re-read
  125. In the wet -- re-read
  126. In the Frame -- re-read 
  127. Cider House Rules -- NEW32
  128. Matriarch -- NEW31 HISTORY6
  129. Misbehaving -- NEW30
  130. Cat's Cradle --re-read
  131. All Creatures Great and Small -- NEW29
  132. Pale Blue Dot -- NEW28
  133. Hot Money -- re-read  
  134. High Stakes -- re-read
  135. Friday's Child -- re-read
  136. Frederica -- re-read 
  137. Flying Finish -- re-read
  138. The Wizard of Menlo Park -- NEW27 HISTORY5
  139. On Power -- NEW26
  140. In This Bright Future -- NEW25
  141. Thursday the Rabbi..  -- NEW24
  142. Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet -- NEW23
  143. Code Girls -- NEW22 HISTORY4
  144. The Foundling --re-read
  145. Faro's Daughter -- re-read
  146. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler --NEW21
  147. Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red -- NEW20
  148. The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons -- NEW18
  149. The Secret of Chimneys -- NEW18
  150. A Nun in the Closet -- NEW17
  151. Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness -- NEW16
  152. Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Traveler -- NEW15
  153. Monday the Rabbi Took Off --NEW14
  154. The LIghthouse Keeper -- NEW13
  155. The Great Train Robbery --re-read
  156. The Great Courses: Food -- NEW12 HISTORY3
  157. Cosmos -- NEW11  SCIENCE2
  158. Amadeus -- NEW10
  159. The Far Country -- re-read
  160. False Colours -- re-read
  161. Even Money - re-read
  162. Enquiry -- re-read
  163. Driving Force -- re-read
  164. Dick Francis's Bloodlines -- re-read
  165. The Great Courses: Redefining Reality -- NEW9
  166. The Pun Also Rises -- NEW8
  167. M. Butterfly -- NEW7
  168. A Hologram for the King --NEW6  
  169. The Fountain of Paradise --NEW5
  170. Fire and Rain -- NEW4 -- HISTORY2
  171. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night --NEW3
  172. Consider the Fork -- NEW2   HISTORY1
  173. Consciousness and the Brain: -- NEW1  SCIENCE1 DNF
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 12 -- St. Andrew's Day
Day 12 -- St. Andrew's Day
@Task 1:  Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why?
In my family, the nominee is my mother, for putting up with my father for the past 68 years.  It has been the joke in our family for as long as I can remember. Dad kind of marches to the beat of his own drummer, has always been a bit of an absent-minded professor. Growing up, Thanksgiving was a big deal and we all pitched into help Mom get the job done. However, on Thanksgiving day, we all knew that the only thing we could count on from my father was that he would choose that day to get himself involved with some sort of project that had to be done that day but had nothing to do with getting Thanksgiving dinner for 30 or 40 people on the table. 
Task 2: St Andrew is revered in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, where he worked as a Christian missionary, long before his relics were brought to Scotland centuries later. – Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”? What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book?
          Not a one!! Not a scenario I could ever imagine.  
Task 3: Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us!
I took this photo on our trip to Chicago in early October. Although I flew to Chicago to get my college in nearby Wisconsin, neither of us have ever spent any time visiting the city. While DH was in his meetings, my camera and I had plenty of time to wander around. I fell in love with this view of the lighthouse off Navy Pier.
Task 4: The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.  List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot.
          Not a single book in my library has or would have golf as a key plot point.
Book: Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series. OR:  Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers. OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to
Looks like these two are serving double duty, at least for now
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 6 -- International Day of Intolerance
Door 6 - International Day for Tolerance
@Task 1:  Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and International Day of Tolerancepost about it.
Great Courses: 12 Essential Scientific Concepts. Not bad as an introduction to the topic and I only DNF'ed it because it was too basic for me and I was bored. 
Task 2: Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you? (Insta-love? Love triangles? First person present narrative voice? Talking animals? The dog dies? What else?)
Once I choose to read a book, there aren't many things that will cause me to DNF the story and if I do DNF something it is usually because I am bored or it isn't well written or I didn't choose well in the first place. So there isn't any specific trope that will get me to ditch a story. But there are some things that drive me crazy, that might put a book on the DNF list.
  • Books whose plot rests on factual errors made by the author (misunderstandings by characters is not the same). For instance, a book whose plot hinged on an insurance company wanting their money back some 50 years later (statute of limitations). I should have DNF'ed that one right then and there.
  • Too much graphic violence/horror
  • A really, really, really bad narrator
Task 3: The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO). Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers.
Task 4: UNESCO is based in Paris. Paris is known for its pastries and its breads: Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us.
No pastries, too fattening. But I do use real butter for cookie baking and that is coming in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
@Book:  Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone.  (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris.
Little did I know when I started reading this book that it would be a triple play. The book is about tolerance (or actually the lack of it, i.e. the re-emergance of anti-semitism in the early 21st century). I don't like reading books about anti-semitism or the Holocaust, so it is outside my comfort zone. It is set in Paris and in fact, in part near an area that I will be visiting in March (St. Germain-en-Laye). 
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 11 -- Russian Mother's Day
Day 11 -- Russian Mother's Day
@Task 1:  Tell us: What is the mother of all writerly sins in your book (tropes, grammar mistakes, telling instead of showing, etc.)?
Good question. I can live with tropes, grammar mistakes (because all that proscriptive/immutable rules business drives me nuts; we can't even agree on what the rules are) and tell instead of show (because I probably couldn't pick it out). So that leaves me with what I have said before: it drives me up a wall when an author builds an entire plot on an unintentionally false assumption--an historical event that is misquoted or misinterpreted, a law that is ignored, anachronisms, etc.  I don't have a problem with sci-fi or fantasy because the assumptions are intentional (what-if stories).  
The other thing that will drive me crazy is just plain old bad writing, i.e., books that shouldn't have been published in the first place because the writer just doesn't know how to craft a sentence or tell a story--and even a good editor can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 
@Task 2: Do you have a favorite Mothers’ Day memory that you are happy to share? Photos welcome but optional.
When I was growing up and once enough of us had managed to learn to cook, we would fete my mother with brunch lovingly prepared by her children. Our idea of brunch was to more or less empty the contents of the refrigerator on to the dining room table, so that everybody could have something they liked. We would make pancakes or french toast. Of course, by the time we were done cooking, the kitchen was a disaster area. We had mastered the basic steps of cooking but we didn't quite have the needed organization to get the job done without the mess (and my father wasn't much help on that front). I am sure that my mother dreaded Mother's Day brunch but she was a good sport about it all. I'm also sure that her favorite Mother's Day brunches were the ones where her father turned up at the house with shopping bags full of bagels, lox, kippered salmon and pounds and pounds of cold cuts for us to feast on.
@Task 3: Perhaps the best-known scene in the James Bond novel and film From Russia With Love is 007 being poisoned by Russian agent Rosa Klebb with a venom-laced blade hidden in her shoe. Tell us: Have you ever owned any particular / outrageous / funny / best-beloved or otherwise special pair of shoes? Post a photo if you should still own them.
While still at university, in the early '70s, in the days of bell-bottoms, palazzo pants and platform shoes, I found a pair of blue buck, high-heeled lace-up oxfords that I loved. These were probably the most outlandish pair of shoes I have ever worn (my hot pink Crocs not withstanding). Since then, it has been a love-hate relationship with shoes because it has always been hard to find shoes that fit and don't hurt my feet. Still not one of the dozens of pairs I have owned in the meantime have ever stuck in my mind like that silly pair I bought in college.
@Task 4: Make a traditional Russian dish like borscht, blintzes, pirogi or solyanka soup, and share a picture with us. Find recipe suggestions here:
Grandma used to make blintzes and she taught me how but honestly I have not made my own in over 40 years. I usually just head to supermarket and buy them. I serve them two ways. One is a blintze casserole, which is great for entertaining because you put it together the night before and bake it just before serving. The other is pan fried in butter and served with sour cream and fruit.
Here's the recipe for the casserole. One dozen frozen blintzes (your choice of filling but I like 1/2 cheese and half fruit alternated in the pan). A pint and a half (3 cups) of sour cream, half teaspoon of vanilla. fourth cup orange juice, and four eggs mixed together. Use a square pyrex/glass pan just large enough to fit the dozen blintzes; spray with Pam or (grease lightly with butter/oil). Line the bottom of the pan with the blintzes (do not layer). Spread the sour cream mix over the top, cover and refrigerate til cooking time (12-24hrs). Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle cinnamon lightly over the top and bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean. Serve hot, plain or with fruit topping (applesauce, spices apples, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.). 
Book: Read a book set in Russia, or involving a story within a story / play within a play (like the Russian matryoshka dolls stuck inside each other), or where a key character (not necessarily the protagonist) is a mother.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 10 -- Bon Om Touk
Task 1:  Make a paper boat and post a picture of it.   Instructions, if needed:
Task 2: If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it.
My daughter told me about this. I haven't been and it isn't really boats but it is decorated and it does float on water. Each year since 1984 there is the Lantern Festival on Jamaica Pond in Boston. The newspaper article about it says that it is Dutch in origin. I always assumed that it was Asian in origin as part of memorial rites for the ancestors.
Image result for lantern festival boston jp
Task 3: Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome!
Task 4: Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”?
Book: Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot.
No, no and no! I am not re-reading Moby Dick just to complete this task!
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 9 -- Thanksgiving
WOO HOO!!!! We have made it to the half way point.
Task 1: List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better.
@Task 2: Describe your perfect meal. What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you?
I like to cook and I like to cook for other people, so there is little chance that there is an imaginary personal chef lurking in my day-dreams. I don't have a favorite food and the menus in our house our constantly evolving. That said, my favorite meals are not so much about the food but about the traditions that bring us together and that dictate the foods we share.
Thanksgiving is the big one. We have been celebrating as a family for as long as I can remember. The core menu has been the same for years and years and years--turkey, stuffing, gravy, rice casserole, sweet potato puff and spinach casserole. The guest list is ever-changing but it is rarely less 20 people--family, extended family and friends--and rarely less than three generations --as many as we can figure out how to seat in the house. Our doors are always open. 
My sibs and I all learned how to entertain a huge group by helping my mother do Thanksgiving every year (there was no opting out) and we have each carried those skills over into making holidays and gatherings for our own families and friends.
That said, the best party I ever did was an intimate dinner for 8 that I called "Black Ties and Tiaras." In keeping with the theme, I put on the ritz -- white linens, fine china, crystal and sterling silver, swanky from soup to nuts menu --and my guests all showed sporting black ties or tiaras as requested but without the dinner jackets and gowns. That was a fun evening.
@Task 3: Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.
 A terrible attempt at a dramatization of the classic. One would expect more from Emma Thompson.


Task 4: Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way.
My harvest includes over 70 new titles in audios alone. There is just no way that I have the time to round up and post the over art for all of them. So how about just a screen shot from one page of my bookshelf?
 ----OOPS, can't even do that because the file is too big ---
Book: Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 8 -- Day of Penance
@Task 1: “Confess” your book habits. Dog-earring? Laying books face down? Bending back the spines? Skimming? OR: Confess your guilty reading pleasure, or comfort reads.
My comfort reads are my Georgette Heyer books, they are just so far from the real world that they are pure escape; they are happy, funny books that put a smile on my face.
@Task 2: It’s “Pennants” day according to MbD’s husband: post a picture of your favorite team’s logo / mascot and the last time they’ve won a championship (or not).
The 2018 World Series Champions.
Task 3: In centuries gone by, penance would often end up in what might be described as a very extended bad hair day (complete with sackcloth and ashes). Tell us: What’s a bad hair day to you – and what (if anything) do you do about it?
@Task 4: Early Christian spiritualists would sometimes do penance by spending time in the desert. If you’ve ever visited a desert region (or even live there), post a picture and tell us about it. Alternatively, post a picture of sand dunes (NOT with water in the background!).
A number of years ago, before I owned a digital camera, we visited the Sonoran Desert and the Saguaro National park in Arizona. I borrowed this photo from Wikipedia:
@Book: Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.

Over the past couple of years I have been working my way slowly through the whole series. They are rather out-dated in many respects but that doesn't bother me. 
Tasks: 3 plus book
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 7
Good heavens! I disappear off to Philadelphia to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family and come back to find that there are THREE new flaps to open and enjoy!
Flap 7 -- Mawlid An-Nabi 
Task 1: Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.
Task 2: The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed? Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you?
When we downsized, I gave away a lot of books to people I did not know. I advertised on Craig's List and didn't ask what they planned to do with them. I'm sure many of them were simply re-sold, thereby helping someone provide for his family and not be a burden to the community. 
Task 3: Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?
Task 4: Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change.
Book: If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.
In the Audible Sale Pile


Good sale pile. I own most of the stuff I would have bought. I saw a couple of maybe's but this is the only one that I actually bought. Looking forward to listening to it in 2019.