Sunday, December 3, 2023

Would You Like to Go to Leavenworth?


Leavenworth, Washington, that is. Without the aid of the vibrant photos above and at left, you might have thought of the prison instead. Incidentally, these two areas are named for members of the same lineage. In the case of Leavenworth above, the moniker is connected to Captain Charles Leavenworth. While he served in the Union Army during the Civil War, he earned the captain title during his reign over the shipping business. Before shipping, he was president of the Okanogan Investment Company in Washington and involved in the creation of this town. Why would a company invest in this town? I am glad you asked.

To answer this question, I am drawing on information provided by Coco, our capable and kind tour guide from Bavarian Walking Tours, as well as bits and pieces from the Leavenworth Museum. We perused the heart of this quaint location, often referred to as "A Hallmark Christmas town" and learned of its history. Our knowledgeable host made this trip fantastic in more ways than one. In this post, I hope to give you a glimpse of Leavenworth yet leave much for you to discover on a tour of your own.
First, this area was tribal land of šnp̓əšqʷáw̓šəxʷ ~ Wenatchi. There is an exhibit in the Leavenworth
Museum that shares some of their history. You can also read more about the "The Twelve Bands compose the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation" to garner an appreciation of who lived there long before this became the attraction it is today. It is my hope that I provided accurate information here to honor the people.

Next, Leavenworth became a town in the time the Great Northern Railway was nearly completed. Captain Leavenworth saw an opportunity as the nearby town of Icicle was nearly bursting at its seams. His investment company bought a 40-acre parcel of land from the US Government just a mile from Icicle. His vision was to build a new town right near the tracks. From 1893 to 1927, this was a brilliant and fruitful plan. Leavenworth was reliant on the railroad to support its timber industry – cedar, pine, and Douglas fir, as well as apples orchards from the surrounding areas. The sawmill flourished. The railroad moved the shipments providing income streams. It was a thriving area until the lumber prices dropped, the forests became depleted, the sawmill closed, and one fateful day.

An avalanche occurred resulting in the deadliest train accident in the country. Ninety-five people perished. After this horrible event, the railroad moved to Wenatchee. Without this transportation, the area lost its main source of revenue and all that went along with it. They could not sell apples or wood. Without jobs, residents migrated to other areas of the state. This town was floundering. What could they do? How would they survive?

Around 1950, a group of women decided to gather and brainstorm possibilities to save this doomed point on the map. Eventually they hired a consultant. He was a professor from the University of Washington in Seattle. This academician asked them the question, “What does your town have to offer?” After little debate, the women presented the idea for tourism. As this section of the United States resembled (and still does) European topography, that would be their niche. The mountains with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding offered additional possibilities. So began Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement for Everyone).

Ted Price and Bob Rogers entered the scene. Years before, these two gentlemen had purchased a restaurant and inn located halfway between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. Bob fashioned The Squirrel Tree Inn with Bavarian influence due to inspiration of the Alpine villages of Bavaria where he lived (and served) after WWII. They became interested in the struggles of nearby Leavenworth. Joining forces with Project LIFE, Ted and Bob were instrumental in reshaping downtown. 

They sold the Squirrel Tree Inn and purchased property in Leavenworth. They worked with Project LIFE to transform buildings by enhancing facades of existing structures. They replaced flat roof designs with pitched. They covered brick (one remaining brick building with flat roof featured in photo above), some to resemble half-timber and others with plaster. Artists painted Luftels (murals) on the buildings. Carpenters added balconies, plant boxes, and other features. These architectural enhancements combined with the nearby mountains to create a feel of being in Bavaria and even other European cities. On our visit, I felt like I was back in Norway. Uncanny resemblance.


Today, approximately two million visitors flock to this picturesque village. Some for recreation. Others for nostalgia. Whatever your interest, I highly recommend the trip. A few of our favorites in case you do make the trek: Bavarian Walking Tours to gain an appreciation of the area. Icicle Village Resort, to stay in walking distance of all the hotspots. Nice accommodations and restaurant. Even if you are not planning a visit soon, click the link and watch the video. You will get a stunning bird's eye view of Leavenworth, the mountains, and the resort. Argonaut - Coffee and Biscuits, for the best coffee in the area. Leavenworth Museum for the full scoop, past and present. You can find additional information and even watch live camera footage on their homepage.

What do you think? Is it time to book a flight or pack the car?

As a child, Rebecca loved to write. She nurtured this skill as an educator and later as an editor for an online magazine. Rebecca then joined the Cru Ministry - NBS2GO/Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO, at its inception. She serves as the YouVersion Content Creator, with over 110 Plans on the app.

Rebecca lives near the mountains with her husband and a rescued dog named Ranger. If it were up to her, she would be traveling - right now. As a member of ACFW and FHLCW, Rebecca learns the craft of fiction while networking with a host of generous writers. She is working on her first fiction novel. This story unfolds from the 1830s in Northern Georgia. 

Rebecca shot the photos included with exception of the header. Thank you, Justin, for sharing your memories. Connect with Rebecca: Facebook Goodreads Instagram Pinterest Twitter

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The History of Gift Wrapping Paper

Amber Lemus Christian Author

Photo by cottonbro studio
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, Everyone! I'm so excited that the season is finally here. I've got a toddler and another one on the way, so the holiday season is so much fun, and I feel like a kid myself waiting for Christmas to arrive. We go ALL OUT for Christmas. I wish I could show you my house. But this being only the second of December, not all of my decorations are up yet. It's a process.

One of the things I take very seriously during the holidays is gift wrapping. I personally feel that a gift is more highly valued and appreciated when it is wrapped like intended for the king of England. Every year I pick a theme and wrap all my gifts alike so that everyone can tell which ones are from me. This obsession with gift wrapping led me to today's history tidbit: the history of wrapping paper.

Gift giving is an important element of society for many reasons. We give gifts to show love and favor, to apologize, to show appreciation, as part of business and political affairs, and to congratulate someone for an important milestone in their lives. It didn't take long for people to decide that the surprise element of the gift made it even better, thus the tradition of gift wrapping began.

It's hard for us to imagine Christmas presents without their elaborate paper veil, but at first, gifts would have been wrapped in cloth, leather, or some other material. But the invention of paper made an easier and less expensive way to conceal our gifts. The first documented use of paper as wrapping material was in China around 100 B.C. when the government would wrap monetary gifts in paper (making a sort of envelope) to distribute to government officials as gifts.

It was during the Victorian Era that gift giving became a true tradition of the holiday season. Originally, gifts were given at New Years rather than Christmas, but that changed as Christmas became more popular and accepted in the United States and Europe.

Victorian Christmas showing packages
wrapped in thick white paper

Photo source unknown

In the early 1800's, wealthy people would use thick paper to wrap their gifts. Then, in the later 1800's, tissue paper was introduced, and it became all the rage to wrap gifts in green, red or white tissue paper decorated with bows and ribbon.

The start of what we know today as wrapping paper happened by accident. It was 1917 in Kansas City, and a shop ran out of tissue paper. Instead, they happened upon some decorated paper from France that was meant for lining the inside of envelopes and decided to take a risk and offer that to customers instead. It quickly sold out. The owners of the shop, Rollie and J.C. Hall, jumped at the opportunity to promote this popular item and started featuring more designs. In 1930's they added ribbon to the already pretty packages. This company became Hallmark, and the modern wrapping paper industry was born.
Photo by cottonbro studio

The size of the wrapping paper industry today is immense. Annual sales are reported to be up to $9.36 billion dollars, with 4 million tons of the paper being thrown away during the holiday season in the United States alone. To put that into perspective, that would be about the weight of four Empire State Buildings. And we're talking about thin, light-weight paper here, folks. Astounding, isn't it? 

Unfortunately, most of the wrapping paper isn't even able to be recycled, due to the mix of foil and paper to make the pretty designs, and the light and inkiness of the paper. This has caused some to advocate for a change from traditional wrapping paper back to materials like newspaper and other more easily recyclable materials. Some wrapping paper companies have started using recycled materials to make the product in the first place. I'm looking forward to the progressions in this area.

What are your holiday gift wrapping traditions? I'd love to hear all about them!


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Lemus inspires hearts through enthralling tales She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".

She lives near the Ozarks in her "casita" with her prince charming. Between enjoying life as a boy mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Story Continues: The Shocking German Invasion of Norway in 1940

 by Cindy K. Stewart

Last month I shared about the early days of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Norway in 1940 as told by Mrs. Florence Harriman, U.S. Minister (Ambassador) to Norway. You can read it here. Today I will continue the story based upon the book I Saw It Happen in Norway by C.J. Hambro, President of the Norwegian Parliament.

The Germans attacked Norway on April 9, 1940 and took the country by surprise. Norway had maintained a strict neutral status in World War II and was on excellent terms with both Germany and the Allies.

The German attack on Norway, planned months in advance, was executed with simultaneous invasions by ship and air at every strategically important point in the country. Also, soldiers had been secretly loaded on German commercial ships which were already in Norwegians ports. Unfortunately, the Norwegian army had not been mobilized, and the country was completely unprepared for war.

Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The first inkling of trouble came when the air raid alarm in Oslo started at 1:00 AM and continued incessantly. At 2:00 AM, Mr. Hambro reached the War Office and the Prime Minister by telephone and then received updates every fifteen minutes. Reports came in from all over the country—the Germans were invading.

Between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, the German Minister met with the Norwegian Minister of Affairs. He presented a list of demands which actually called for the complete surrender of Norway. The Government rejected the proposal and made plans to flee the capital. Mr. Hambro traveled by taxi to Hamar, one hundred miles north of Oslo, to prepare for the arrival of the Royal Family, the Government (Cabinet), the 150 members of the Storting (Parliament), and others supporting them. Most of these traveled on a special train which left Oslo at 7:23 AM that morning.

The sinking of the German flag ship Blucher in the Oslo Fjord postponed the occupation of Oslo, the capital of Norway, by eight hours and prevented the Germans from ever capturing the Royal Family or the Government. 

German infantry reinforcements brought in by warship march out from
Oslo Harbor. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. 
© IWM (HU 55638).

That afternoon while the Storting was in session in Hamar, word arrived that the German motorized troops were advancing toward the city - one group was only ten miles away. A special train left for Elverum with most of the members aboard about ten minutes later. Norwegian soldiers barricaded the roads leading to Elverum and established a line of defense. The Storting met for the last time before the German occupation and unanimously gave the Government the full power to make all necessary decisions under war conditions.

The king sent his daughter-in-law, the Crown-Princess, and her three children to Sweden to stay with her parents, Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg. The King and Crown Prince traveled with them as far as Nybergsund, which was twenty miles west of the border with Sweden.

The German Minister demanded a meeting with with the King, so he made the 45-mile trip back over frozen roads to Elverum the next day. Dr. Brauer, the German Minister, set forth the ultimatum which was tougher than the one he had presented the day before. The King stated he would abdicate rather than dissolve the Government and appoint a new one headed by Hitler’s man. The Government supported him and refused to accept the German demands.

Elverum On Fire after German Attack
Courtesy of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Germans replied by bombing Elverum and nearly destroying it. Nybergsund, which was smaller than a village, was also raided by bombers, but the deep snow reduced the impact of the explosions. The King, Crown Prince, and the Government passed through the Gudbrandsdalen Valley to the town of Molde on the west coast. 
They were constantly on the move, running from German bombers. 

King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav hiding in the woods during a
German bombing. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

British, French, and Polish troops landed at three points along the west coast to assist the Norwegians in their fight. The first British troops reached Norway on April 19th, but by April 28th, they were forced to evacuate southern Norway. The fight moved to the northern counties. The King and Government sailed above the Arctic Circle to Tromso, which became the provisional capital. The plan was to drive the Germans farther and farther south, and the implementation started to succeed when the Germans slowly lost ground in the north. Nevertheless, the King, Crown Prince, and Government only stayed in Tromso for five weeks.

After the Germans invaded the Low Countries and France, the Allies were forced to evacuate Norway - the troops were needed to defend their homelands. The British offered safe passage to the Royals and the Norwegian Government, and on June 7th, they departed on the British cruiser Devonshire for England.

In August, the Crown Princess, her three children, along with Mrs. Harriman, the U.S. Minister to Norway, and hundreds of others journeyed by train up the length of Sweden to the far north. They crossed into Finland and proceeded to the port of Petsamo on the Arctic coast. There they boarded the American Legion, a troop ship, sent by Roosevelt to take them to America. 

The Return of the Royal Family to Norway - June 7, 1945
Courtesy of Oslo Museum via Wikimedia Commons

On June 7, 1940, five years to the day that the King and Crown Prince had fled Norway, the King and Crown Princess and her children returned to Norway by ship to cheering crowds welcoming the Royal Family home. The Crown Prince had returned a few weeks before to prepare the way.


Mission to the North by Frances Jaffray Harriman. J. B. Lippincott Company, 1941.

I Saw It Happen in Norway by C. J. Hambro. D. Appleton-Century Co., 1940.


It’s late August, 1939, and the Nazis are threatening Poland. American teacher Irena Simmons will let nothing interfere with her work, especially her former classmate Jonathan Huntwell, who surprises her in Lvov and insists she leave with him before the war starts. The Gestapo agent Irena successfully evaded in Germany finds her and tries to take the little German boys she whisked to safety the year before. After the Nazis invade, the rising danger threatens everything Irena holds dear, and Jonathan is too far away to help. She must find a way to escape with the children before it’s too late. Find on Amazon.           


Cindy Kay Stewart, a retired high school social studies teacher and current church pianist, writes stories of hope, steeped in love, and anchored in faith. Her manuscripts have won the Touched by Love Award, the First Impressions contest, and the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Writing Award. They've also finaled in the Maggie Award of Excellence and the Cascade Awards, and semi-finaled in the Genesis contest. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of forty-two years. Her daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren live nearby. Cindy’s currently writing the Circle of Hope series set in WWII Europe.

Thursday, November 30, 2023





Historical Romance Series

By Mary Davis

THE WIDOW’S PLIGHT (Book1) – Will a secret clouding a single mother’s past cost Lily her loved ones?

THE DAUGHTER’S PREDICAMENT (Book2) *SELAH & WRMA Finalist* – As Isabelle’s romance prospects turn in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams.

THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (Book3) *SELAH Winner* – Nicole heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband. Can she learn to be enough of a lady to snag the handsome rancher?

THE DÉBUTANTE’S SECRET (Book4) – Complications arise when a fancy French lady steps off the train and into Deputy Montana’s arms.



By Debbie Lynne Costello

Kirsten father’s last will and testament stipulates that she must either marry, lead the plantation into a first year profit, or forfeit it to her uncle. Thefts are hurting the profit and marriage is proving no easy option. Every suitor seems more enamored with the land than with her. Silas’s last year at veterinary school ends abruptly when he is called home to care for his young orphaned sisters. Troubles compound when he finds an insurmountable lien on the family home and an unscrupulous banker is calling in the loan. How will the two overcome pride and distrust to find real happiness?




By Cindy Kay Stewart

It’s late August, 1939, and the Nazis are threatening Poland. American teacher Irena Simmons will let nothing interfere with her work, especially her former classmate Jonathan Huntwell, who surprises her in Lvov and insists she leave with him before the war starts. The Gestapo agent Irena successfully evaded in Germany finds her and tries to take the little German boys she whisked to safety the year before. After the Germans invade, the rising danger threatens everything Irena holds dear, and Jonathan is too far away to help. She must find a way to escape with the children before it’s too late.




By Johnnie Alexander and et al.

Two Novellas in One! When Polly Matthews and her brother opened their own detective agency in 1938, she expected to be an equal partner, not a secretary. So when they receive an assignment from the owner of a pottery manufacturing company, Polly jumps into action. Jasper Kane is determined to find out who’s stealing his designs. He’s surprised to find that the beautiful, intriguing new office clerk is actually the undercover detective he hired. Thrown together by chance, can they catch the culprit and shape a new life together?




By Linda Shenton Matchett

World War II is over, and America is extra grateful as Thanksgiving approaches. But Francine’s life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the men returning home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood? Glad his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He’s made it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family? Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?




By Terrie Todd

WINNER of the Word Guild’s Best Fiction Book Award! Orphaned as a toddler in 1922, Lilly Sampson pursues a nursing career in hopes that it will redeem the shameful crime of arson she committed as a child. When her self-sabotaging choices only build the ash heap higher, will she find the love she desperately seeks? In 2019, while unraveling a mysterious link in her ancestry, Diana DeWitt is at a crossroads as she tries to help a teenager in crisis. Will the truth she uncovers about her grandmother, Lilly, inspire her to let go of her fear and rise to the occasion?




By Michelle Shocklee

Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart.




By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

New Yorker Ruth Jessup and Amish-bred Joshua Stutzman lived in different worlds; their lives collided into catastrophic proportions battling wits against a psychopath and The New World Order... Fleeing for her life and suffering from amnesia, Ruth finds herself in an hourglass of yesteryear. Can Joshua’s Amish ways help them survive these final three-and-one-half years? “To be honest, I’m not usually drawn to fiction. But for this no-nonsense nonfiction lover, Love’s Final Sunrise was a risk that paid off in full measure. I highly recommend this author’s way of weaving intrigue, romance, and Christian principles.” Lori Ann Wood



Discover Montana Gold!

By Janalyn Voigt

Hills of Nevermore: A young widow hides her shameful secret from a blue-eyed circuit preacher.

Cheyenne Sunrise: A disillusioned young woman is forced to entrust herself to a half-Cheyenne guide.

Stagecoach to Liberty: To escape captivity, a young woman must trust a mysterious stranger.

The Forever Sky: Can a young widow with no faith in love reconcile with the man who broke her heart?

The Promise Tree: A preacher’s daughter knows she shouldn't encourage a troublemaker, no matter she promised him.

The Whispering Wind: Phoebe can have her pick of suitors but never the man she wants.




Book Two of The Scouts of the Georgia Frontier

By Denise Weimer

New release! Red-haired, freckle-faced, and almost six feet tall, Jenny White has given up on love. She devotes herself to protecting her younger siblings against nature, natives, and Loyalists in Georgia’s “Hornet’s Nest” during the American Revolution. Then she nurses Patriot scout Caylan McIntosh back to health after the Battle of Kettle Creek. The vexing Highlander seems determined to dismantle her emotional armor. Can Jenny trust a man who keeps secrets and surely prefers her sister to lead them on a harrowing exodus to the North Carolina mountains?




Keeping Christmas vol 1

By Naomi Craig

Foreign dignitaries searching for the baby king. An enraged Monarch on the Judean throne. The scribe on a quest to discover the truth before it's too late. “You may think you’ve heard the Christmas story a million times, but until you see it through Amal’s eyes, you are missing something! My heart rejoiced along with Amal’s by the conclusion of this novella. The Weary World Rejoices by Naomi Craig is Biblical fiction that will make you shiver, review Scripture, cry, cheer, evaluate how you treat Scripture (all while being an unputdownable story)!” ~ Babbling Becky L, Amazon Reviewer




Apron Strings, Book One–Available for Pre-order

By Naomi Musch

When Polly Holloway’s fiancé returns home from the Great War with a French war bride, Polly focuses on mending her shattered heart by using her homemaking skills and a special cookbook to open a fashionable ladies’ tea room in her Victorian house. But Ross Dalton, the interfering tavern owner down the street, arouses her suspicion. Ross met God on the battlefield; however, his friendly overtures aren’t enough to pierce through Polly’s belief that he’s a bootlegger who’ll tarnish the neighborhood. How can he convince her he’s a changed man, especially when real bootleggers double down to force him into their schemes?




A Time-Slip Novel

By Kathleen E. Kovach, et al.

A secret. A key. Much was buried on the Titanic, but now it's time for resurrection. Follow two intertwining stories a century apart. 1912 - Matriarch Olive Stanford protects a secret after boarding the Titanic that must go to her grave. 2012 - Portland real estate agent Ember Keaton-Jones receives the key that will unlock the mystery of her past... and her distrusting heart. Review: “I told my wife to move this book to the top of her reading list... This titanic story is more interesting than the one told in the Titanic movie... She will absolutely love it.”